Creating a Year-Round Culture of Thankfulness
During the Thanksgiving holiday season, it’s nice to hear others speak about what they appreciate in life, and it feels good to share in the ritual and take a moment to thank your employees and teams for their hard work. It feels easy and natural to watch the changing leaves, bundle up in sweaters, and share the joy of the season with those in the workplace. But how can you keep the spirit of generosity and gratitude awake in your teams all year long? How can you keep the warmth of the holiday going when February rolls around and the dark days take their toll and tempers get short? Keep these tips in mind.
Thank you notes may seem old-fashioned, but they certainly still have a place in the professional environment. Like resumes, they came into style generations ago and they just haven’t gone out, despite the rise of technology and shifts in cultural mores. Write thank you notes by hand and deliver them to your employees, and when they write similar letters to coworkers and clients, let them know that you approve.
Encourage outside friendship.
Make it easy for your teams to meet up and spend time together outside of work hours. Something as simple as a long lunch or a company sponsored happy hour can spark connections that can lead to weekend get-togethers. Employees feel more engaged and loyal to an employer when their boss and coworkers feel like friends and family.
Turn every day into Employee Appreciation Day
Every day, look for at least one or two opportunities to celebrate one employee’s personal victory or publicly praise another employee for a job well done. Show thanks and gratitude for those who show up and work hard, and show special appreciation for those who go the extra mile and produce above average results. If your budget allows, offer a general token of your appreciation on a regular basis, regardless of sales numbers or deals closed. For example, offer a pizza lunch in the break room once a month for no reason at all.
Always distribute credit
When praise, awards, new contracts or appreciation fall on the company in general or you personally, don’t take the credit for yourself. Immediately hand it off to those who support you by doing their jobs. Turn to the people who spend their days moving the company forward and making you look good; they’re the ones who make such successes possible, and they should know it.
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For help on bringing in the right employees to build the culture you want, turn to the top recruiters in Scottsdale and contact the ACCENT Hiring Group.
Managing Contract Workers Requires Specific Feedback
When regular employees are brought on board, the terms of their employment are understood at the outset and the relationship between employer and employee is defined and — unless otherwise stated — permanent. Expectations, job descriptions, and standards for performance are typically part of the equation.
But relationships with contractors and contingent workers aren’t as defined. Contract workers tend to join the company on an independent or project-by-project basis, and they aren’t governed or protected by the rules and guidelines that serve this purpose for regular employees.
So, if you’re managing a team of contract workers, your methods for coaching and incentivizing may be limited. You can’t offer the same rewards, punishments, privileges, or warnings that apply to regular team members. How can you motivate them to give their all and correct them when they go astray? Here are a few simple tips that can help.
Don’t be afraid to give feedback.
Feedback — as with regular employees — should be frequent, low-drama, honest, and clear. But too often, employers withhold difficult feedback because they fear they may be misunderstood or they may drive contractors away. But if problems persist, they may eventually reach a breaking point, and at that time it may be too late to salvage the project or the relationship or both. Polite silence helps no one, so if you aren’t getting what you need, speak up.
It goes without saying that compassion and respect should influence all of your interactions with everyone, both inside and outside of the workplace. But contingent workers require extra consideration when it comes to criticism. Help them feel like part of the team, and trust that they understand the nature of their jobs. Before attempting to change an aspect of their personality or their work, make sure you’re asking for something that’s reasonable and necessary.
If something goes wrong and your contingency employee simply isn’t a fit, the arrangement can be severed much more easily than an employment relationship. So there’s no need to panic or become heated; just get to the heart of the matter (or speak with the person’s agency/manager/supervisor), and explain the issue. The next time you engage with a contractor, remember what went wrong and be extra clear about your needs and expectations.
Provide a quick but formal training program.
Before you send your contract off on an independent project, provide them with at least one paid training session so their questions can be identified and addressed.
Pay them fully and promptly.
There’s no faster way to undermine a contingency relationship then by allowing hassles, disputes, and hold-ups regarding payment. Set clear payment terms at the outset when it comes to rates, methods and payment frequency, and stick to these terms.
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An experienced and established staffing agency can help you navigate every one of the items above. To learn more, contact one of the top staffing agencies in Scottsdale and work with the experts at the ACCENT Hiring Group.
Variable Compensation for Employees: What Does the Data Say?
If you’ve ever managed a team — or spent time working as an exempt employee — you know that a salary offer doesn’t always provide a complete picture of an employee’s total annual compensation. In addition to base annual salary for exempt employees and hourly rates for non-exempt workers, by the end of a given year a typical employee may receive compensation in the form of insurance benefits, a hiring bonus, a performance-based bonus, or team incentives that have yet to be determined as the year begins. Variable compensation means two employees who make the same amount on paper can take home wildly different amounts of money by the end of the year.
Is this a good thing for the company? Anecdotal responses are mixed; some say variable pay generates motivation and increases productivity, while others believe the practice inhibits transparency, perpetuates bias, and undermines company culture. If incentives are offered for subjective or undocumented reasons, if they’re offered unfairly, or if they’re offered and then withdrawn, the concept of variable pay can easily become a source of resentment and a driver of turnover.
In an effort to see past opinions and gather clear data on the subject, Payscale conducted research and published its 2017 Compensation and Best Practices Report, and the results were revealing in some areas. Here are a few key takeaways from the report.
Variable pay is a prominent aspect of modern compensation. 74 percent of the companies that participated in the survey report offer some form of variable pay.
Variable pay practices are more likely to take place in larger companies and less likely among small companies and start-ups.
Variable pay trends show increasing frequency during the year. Instead of one end-of-year bonus, companies are more likely than they were a year ago to offer quarterly or monthly bonuses.
Among surveyed companies, 64 percent offer individual bonuses, the most common form of variable pay. 25 percent offer team incentives, and 46 percent offer spot or discretionary bonuses.
A growing number of companies are providing bonuses and performance-based incentives to non-exempt workers. Top-performing companies are more likely to do this.
Individuals and non-exempt workers often don’t recognize their impact on team goals. Variable pay based on team performance can help these individuals align their goals with those of the company.
Contact the team at the ACCENT Hiring Group to learn more about the study and find out if variable pay is the right move for your growing company.
Your Workplace Culture: Create More Innovators and Entrepreneurs
Could your workplace culture use a boost? When you look at your divisions and teams, would you like to see an increase in engagement, ambition, and idea-sharing? Even if your teams generally get along and enjoy their jobs, you may still see room for improvement and you may still benefit in looking for ways to cultivate your employees’ self-drive and sense of investment.
According to workplace science experts at Gallup, the primary difference between mediocre workplace cultures and strong, engaged cultures can be found in the knowledge and skills of team leaders. So if you focus your efforts on honing your existing leaders, you’ll begin an upward spiral; better leaders will mean more engaged employees, who will develop their own leadership skills, and eventually all the boats in your workplace will rise with the tide. Even those who have no official authority or direct reports (entry-level workers and those in support roles) will become leaders, innovators, and self-driven forward thinkers.
So what can you do to spark this spiral of improvement and this pervasive sense of ownership and leadership? Start with these three concepts.
Development matters. While most talented employees are interested in improving their knowledge and skills, they’re also occupied by the tasks of the moment. And without guidance and direction, even the best intentions might not result in practical learning and skill development. So take control, provide structured growth opportunities, and encourage your employees to take advantage of them. Establish classes and training courses in specific, measurable and practical skills that can be applied to the company mission. Then make it easy for employees to take advantage of these courses. Hold them during regular work hours and offer incentives for course completion (or simply makes training and development sessions mandatory).
At any given moment, any person in your workplace should be able to answer these questions, if asked: What are you doing? Why are you doing it? How does this small action support larger actions which support the company as a whole? Too often, employees can’t really answer these questions or they don’t know exactly why they’ve been tasked with various assignments, and this can undermine their sense of purpose. Bring everyone into the loop whenever possible, stay transparent, and make sure everyone knows how their contributions support the enterprise.
Strength Based Coaching
Every employee steps into your workplace with a certain set of strengths, which include hard-earned skills, natural talents, or just positive ingrained personality traits they’ve possessed since birth. These “strengths”, if cultivated and encouraged, can help employees unlock the full power of their innovation and self-drive. Focus on finding the inherent strengths in every employee and bringing them forward for all to see.
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Workplace Friendships Make it Harder for Employees to Leave
As a manager, you may or may not decide to invest heavily in the shifting tides of employee relationships and workplace gossip. You may decide that these fluctuations have nothing to do with you, and if bonds form between friends or misunderstandings strain once strong relationships, these events don’t involve you in any way. If the work gets done, your employees are adults and they can sort out their own affairs…right?
Maybe. Friendships come and go, and the workplace is simply a microcosm of life in general. But if you do decide to invest in what’s happening around you, you may be surprised by the benefits that come your way. Encouraging employee friendships can elevate the culture and quality of your workplace and it can reduce turnover by strengthening ties between your workers and the company. And if you help employees resolve their differences and see the best in each other, they’ll respond with respect and goodwill. Here are few moves to try.
Just pay attention.
Two friends were on the outs last week, but now they’ve patched things up. Steve admires the new guy and his best work friend is a little jealous. Sally ignored Sarah’s contribution during the status meeting and accidentally hurt her feelings. Sam and Amy disagree on the direction of the project, but they don’t want to argue in front of the rest of the team. You don’t have to act on any of these things if you choose, but it’s a good idea to take mental notes and keep up.
Encourage personal time together.
Organized events (mini-golf tournaments, company-sponsored banquets, formal happy hours, etc.) may be fun, but they aren’t always the best way to foster friendships outside of the workplace. In addition to these things, encourage your teams to talk to each other elsewhere. Allow and encourage them to hold meetings at coffee shops, call each other at home, meet on the weekends, and get to know each other.
Be a “therapist” when called upon.
When two friends have a difference to resolve and they turn to you, don’t immediately extricate yourself. Encourage them to see each other’s point of view and give each other the benefit of the doubt. You don’t need to license to practice couples counseling; you just need some patience and good intentions.
With permission, share announcements of good news like weddings, births, and non-work-related accomplishments. Make personal events into community events.
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