Category Archives: business

What Is Greenwashing?

What Is Greenwashing?
By Carlyann Edwards,

You’ve probably heard of whitewashing, defined as the glossing over or covering up of scandalous information through a biased presentation of facts. But greenwashing isn’t as well known. It occurs when a company or organization spends more time and money claiming to be “green” through advertising and marketing than actually implementing business practices that minimize environmental impact. Environmentalist Jay Westerveld coined the term in 1986 in a critical essay inspired by the irony of the “save the towel” movement in hotels.
Origins of greenwashing

The idea of greenwashing emerged in a period when most consumers received their news from television, radio and print media, and didn’t have the luxury of fact-checking in the way we do today. In the mid-1980s, oil company Chevron commissioned a series of expensive television and print ads to broadcast its environmental dedication. But while the infamous The People Do campaign ran, Chevron was violating the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and spilling oil into wildlife refuges.

Chevron was far from the only corporation making outrageous claims. In 1991, chemical company DuPont announced its double-hulled oil tankers with ads featuring marine animals prancing in chorus to Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”. It turned out the company was the largest corporate polluter in the U.S. that year.

Greenwashing has changed over the last 20 years, but it’s certainly still around. As the world increasingly embraces the pursuit of greener practices, corporate actors face an influx of litigation surrounding misleading environmental claims.

In February of 2017, Walmart paid $1 million to settle greenwashing claims that alleged the nation’s largest retailer sold plastics that were misleadingly touted as environmentally responsible. California state law bans the sale of plastics labeled as “compostable” or “biodegradable,” as environmental officials have determined such claims are misleading without disclaimers about how quickly the product will biodegrade in landfill.

Even the water industry tries to overrepresent its greenness. How many plastic bottles have you seen with colorful images of rugged mountains, pristine lakes and flourishing wildlife printed on their labels? Arrowhead promotes its Eco-Slim cap and Eco-Shape bottle while claiming, “Mother Nature is our muse.”

“The core theme has stayed the same,” said Philip Beere, founder of sustainability content marketing company g Communications. “The No. 1 violation is embellishing the benefit of the product or service.”

Beere said he believes greenwashing is rarely caused by malicious plots to deceive, but is more frequently the result of overenthusiasm, and it’s easy to see why marketers are enthusiastic. Sixty-six percent of consumers would spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable brand, according to Nielsen’s Global Corporate Sustainability Report, a figure that jumps to 72 percent among millennials.
Brainwash or Greenwash?

With the belief that consumer demand for sustainability is the frontier of our transition to a greener, fairer and smarter global economy, Futerra’s 2015 Selling Sustainability Report offers 10 basic rules for avoiding greenwashing.

Fluffy language: Words or terms with no clear meaning (e.g., “eco-friendly”)
Green products vs. dirty company: Efficient light bulbs made in a factory that pollutes rivers
Suggestive pictures: Images that indicate an (unjustified) green impression (e.g., flowers blooming from exhaust pipes)
Irrelevant claims: Emphasizing one tiny green attribute when everything else is un-green
Best in class: Declaring you are slightly greener than the rest, even if the rest are pretty terrible
Just not credible: “Eco-friendly” cigarettes, anyone? “Greening” a dangerous product doesn’t make it safe.
Gobbledygook: Jargon and information that only a scientist could check or understand
Imaginary friends: A label that looks like a third-party endorsement … except it’s made up
No proof: It could be right, but where’s the evidence?
Outright lying: Totally fabricated claims or data

There are plenty of wonderful companies telling their environmental stories to the world, and even some who aren’t that should be. The incidence of “pure greenwash,” purposeful untruths or impacts of products, is not that prominent. However, there’s a lot out there that gets close. Beere describes the buzzwords commonly used to greenwash as a “slippery slope” and advises any company ready to go down it to invest in educating their marketers.

“Eco-friendly,” “organic,” “natural” and “green” are just some examples of the widely used labels that can be confusing and misleading to consumers. If you’re ready to slap some grass on your logo, be transparent with customers about your company’s practices and have information readily available to back it up.

One example of transparency is activist outdoor clothing retailer Patagonia. Unlike most companies, Patagonia doesn’t sugarcoat its use of chemicals or the fact that it leaves a footprint. The company’s sustainability mission is described as a “struggle to become a responsible company.”

“We can’t pose Patagonia as the model of a responsible company,” the website reads. “We don’t do everything a responsible company can do, nor does anyone else we know. But we can tell you how we came to realize our environmental and social responsibilities, and then began to act on them.”

Do your best to tell your sustainability story and avoid greenwashing. After all, we all know how costly a trip to the cleaners can be.

6 Essential Tech Tools for Your HR Department

6 Essential Tech Tools for Your HR Department
By Andreas Rivera,

Few departments juggle as many duties or manage as much information as human resources. Technology makes the tasks of recruitment, payroll and performance evaluation more manageable and allows HR staff members to better engage with the company’s employees.

Here are six HR tech tools that businesses of any size can implement for a happier, better-organized workforce.
1. HRMS (Human Resource Management System) or HRIS (Human Resource Information System)

Human resource departments have a lot of information to input, store and track. The most common method of organizing this information is with a comprehensive human resource management system (HRMS).

Whether it’s a software solution or software as a service, an HRMS can be an HR representative’s best friend. It stores and organizes data, such as employee profiles, schedules, attendance records and more.

Human resource information systems (HRIS) are typically more data-driven solutions that allow you to craft in-depth reports for the purposes of audits.

Most HRMS offerings, such as Paychex and Workday, act as HR’s central platform and often have modules or integrations that allow you to access payroll services, benefits management, and performance evaluations.
2. Performance solutions

Performance evaluations and tracking are not only an annual meeting between supervisor and employee, but the goals and objectives discussed in that meeting are tracked and revisited throughout the year by HR. To get the most out a performance review and better formulate goals for individual employees, HR can provide managers with the tools to track their staff member’s performance throughout the year, saving notes and feedback to prepare both manager and employee for the evaluation. Many HRMS and payroll solutions, such as ADP, come with a customizable performance review module.
3. Recruiting software

As the name implies, recruiting software streamlines the hiring process. You can post job ads, sort and accept applications, manage candidates and more, saving you the hassle of manually tracking everything yourself.

Small businesses, in particular, should check the pricing and features for each solution being considered: Many recruiting programs are geared toward bigger companies with large volumes of applicants. Small businesses may be better served by a less-expensive product with fewer capabilities, depending on your hiring needs. Check out Business News Daily’s best picks for recruiting software here.
4. Payroll service

Payroll processing is an arduous task. Make it easy on yourself (and your bookkeeper) by investing in an online payroll service. This solution automatically calculates and tracks paychecks, deductions, paid time off, etc. Some even allow you to file and pay payroll taxes and report new hires to the IRS.

Business News Daily has compiled a list of the best payroll services here, or if you need help deciding which one is right for you, check out our buyer’s guide.
5. Benefits management platform

While some payroll services allow you to administer certain benefits, such as vacation time, a more robust solution can help you manage all employee benefits including paid time off, retirement plans, health insurance, workers’ compensation and other perks.

Chen Amit, CEO of payment solutions company Tipalti, says one of the best decisions his company made was outsourcing its benefits management.

“It gives our business a baseline for standard HR processes, something that at least puts you on par with larger organizations,” Amit said. “Then we could focus on where to go from there: adding benefits and perks that go beyond standard dental, health, vision. It also reduces our operational footprint.”

A benefits management service, however, is not necessarily the same as a professional employer organization (PEO), which operates under a co-employment arrangement. The PEO acts as a legal employer of your workforce, issuing employees’ paychecks and managing benefits and compliance for you.

“PEOs can give you access to additional perks, healthcare options and expertise that you wouldn’t have managing things on your own,” said Jacqueline Breslin, director of human capital services at TriNet. “These benefits also help with hiring as they make working for you more attractive.”

6. Employee engagement tools

Employee engagement is a high priority for many companies. With today’s tech tools, you can monitor your organization’s culture, giving you better insights into what your employees want.

“I’ve seen apps that encourage positive feedback inside the organization while helping [build] the company culture,” said Pablo Brenner, CEO of Collokia, an enterprise collaboration tool.

For example, such programs as YouEarnedIt allow people to recognize and reward co-workers when they do a good job or exemplify company values. Other tools, such as TINYpulse, let you collect anonymous feedback from your team that you can use to improve your culture and operations.

When you’re trying to get a feel for employees’ thoughts and opinions and specific subjects, such as what type of food should be provided at the next meeting or gathering employee’s opinions on a new companywide policy, sometimes it’s best to use free programs like Google Forms or Survey Monkey. These tools allow you to compile honest feedback anonymously.

Other options for engagement technology include company intranet platforms such as Igloo, Podio, and OneWindow Workplace; corporate social networking apps like Yammer, WeVue, and Workplace by Facebook; and numerous enterprise collaboration and video conferencing tools that are currently available.

Ron Yekutiel, CEO and chairman of video platform Kaltura, noted that video tools may be of interest to HR departments looking to improve their hiring and training processes.

“Whether it’s conducting more effective interviews through video, video conferencing to bring dispersed teams closer together, [or] onboarding and training of … new and existing employees … today’s on-the-go workforce increasingly prefers video as a means for communication and collaboration,” he said.
Choosing a solution

While it may be tempting to choose the highest-rated or least-expensive solution, it’s important to do your research and find the tool that’s right for your business’s needs. Don’t invest in certain solutions just for their own sake – some simply aren’t worth a company’s time, said Breslin.

“It’s important to find solutions to automate tasks that would otherwise eat up valuable time in your day,” she said. “However, some tasks should never be automated, such as the handling of complaints or employee conflicts.”

Brenner noted that the tools you choose should be user-friendly and not create hassle or frustration for your employees.

“You wouldn’t expect a millennial to read a manual on how to use a new app, so why should you expect [employees] to read the … operating manual [for an internal software program]?” he said. “All tools should be self-explanatory, or worst case, [make it] extremely easy to access an explanatory video.”

No matter what type of tools you’re considering, seek out solutions that will carry your organization into the future.

“HR teams looking to stay ahead of the curve should incorporate new technologies, such as … business collaboration systems while keeping an eye on technologies like AR and VR as they evolve,” Yekutiel said. “This goes a long way in attracting today and tomorrow’s workforce, and enabling teams across the organization to work effectively and increase productivity.”

Additional reporting by Nicole Fallon.

The End of a Controversial Era: Is the Open Office Dying?

The End of a Controversial Era: Is the Open Office Dying?
By Sammi Caramela,

Over the past decade, many modern offices have transitioned from private to open, with a floorplan free of cubicles or closed workspaces, and lined with shared tables. According to an infographic by Sage on open office plans, 80 percent of U.S. businesses implement this type of layout, including Apple, Google and Facebook.

Open offices can be a great setup for many companies, depending on the structure of their team and the nature of their work. A more collaborative workforce, for instance, is typically more successful in this environment than an independent one.

Like any office structure, there are pros and cons to the open office. According to Flame Schoeder, ICF-credentialed life coach, success in this layout depends on the type of worker.

“I’ve noticed that it is hardest on introverts, those with sensitive nervous systems and those who tie their self-worth to the status of a ‘corner office,'” she said.

However, on the other hand, the open office breeds more collaboration and stronger bonds, Schoeder said.

“This increases everyone’s innate sense of accountability in their culture, which can make it easier to solve problems and get work done,” she added. “There can also be a more casual connection, and therefore more authentic, between bosses and employees.”

The open office has become the norm for most businesses, in an effort to create a more inclusive, cost-effective workplace. But this layout has also received backlash, with many workers feeling less productive and less valued – and more insecure and distracted.

In fact, a study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment, & Health found that “employees working in small or medium-sized open-plan offices consistently reported lower levels of job satisfaction, subjective well-being, and ease of interaction with co-workers than employees working in cellular or shared-room offices.”

Additionally, Sage reported that in open offices, productivity is reduced by 15 percent, sick days are increased by 62 percent and distractions are increased by 54 percent, impacting even the highest-performing employees. These findings show an alarming disconnect between preferred office layout and employee efficiency and happiness.

Does that mean the open office is dead? Not necessarily.

Despite its downsides, the open office plan is still valued by many leaders. However, it certainly has its issues – and they’re worth factoring into your decision.

“Each organization … needs to think long and hard about whether [an open office] works with their culture and what they hope to achieve before committing to it,” said Schoeder. “It’s a commitment of more than just construction costs. Whatever is in your culture will be amplified by taking down the walls.”

There’s much controversy regarding the workplace of the future, with many workplace experts predicting an end to open offices, and others claiming it will remain the preferred (and most affordable) option. There’s no way to know for sure; but if the workforce does shift its preferred office plan, it will be for good reason.

How to Stay Productive in a Loud Office

How to Stay Productive in a Loud Office
By Sammi Caramela,

Have you ever had to reread a passage over and over because someone near you was speaking too loudly for you to concentrate? Or perhaps you’ve tried (and failed) to write a paper in the presence of a chatty friend. If you’ve been in situations like this, you know that noise can greatly affect performance.

Productivity dips by up to 66 percent if you can hear someone talking while reading or writing, according to a TED blog post. This is especially evident in the workplace: If your office is open and filled with loud workers, you probably don’t get as much work done as you could if it were quieter.

“Noise and interruptions definitely affect productivity and increases employees’ stress, increasing blood pressure and heart rate,” said Dr. Jude Miller Burke, workplace psychologist and author of “The Adversity Advantage: Turn Your Childhood Hardship into Career and Life Success” (Wisdom Editions, 2017). “It is the rare individual who can day after day, hour after hour, focus well with a constant hum of background noise.”

It’s easier to focus when you can hear your own thoughts over the cacophony of an entire company. But sometimes, you don’t have a choice – you’re trapped in a rowdy space and expected to get your work done regardless.

So how do you confront the issue?
1. Wear earplugs or headphones.

Lynn Taylor, workplace expert and author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job” (John Wiley & Sons, 2008), noted that earplugs are one of the best options for workers who are easily distracted. They drown out background noise and help the brain concentrate.

You can also play music through your headphones, Taylor said. Depending on how sensitive you are to noise, mellow tunes can actually help the mind stay on task. Create a playlist that suits you and listen to it when the office is particularly loud. You might even find yourself feeling more inspired or happier while listening to music.
2. Locate a quiet room.

Often, open workspaces are to blame for frequent conversations and sometimes even personal phone calls. While the layout might encourage collaboration, it can hinder productivity, said Taylor. If you can’t focus enough to get your work done, see if you can locate a quiet space that is not in use to complete particularly intensive projects.

“Find a conference room or empty office that you know isn’t off limits [to use] as a safe haven when you absolutely need quiet time,” said Taylor.

Additionally, certain times of the day might be louder than others. You can plan your assignments according to the volume of the office.

“Keep all your strategic and deep-thinking projects to hours of the day when it’s most quiet,” said Taylor. “For example, handle more transactional activities when the noise level is higher.”

If there is a particular day where the volume is at its peak, more thorough tasks can be scheduled in the separate room. Even if you have to share the space with another worker or two, it will be less noisy than the entire office.
3. Confront the issue.

When all else fails, be upfront. Executives especially should step up, taking aside those who are causing the distractions and being honest with them before it gets out of hand.

“It is up to the leaders in the organization to set the culture for the department, and it is best if the manager can set very clear expectations on unnecessary noise,” said Burke. “Initiate dialogue each week about the noise level and encourage people to discuss it openly at staff meetings. Set the expectation that if someone is being extra loud with personal phone calls, jokes or daily gossip, that you should ask that person directly to be less noisy.”

If you feel uncomfortable confronting a co-worker, you should confide in a supervisor, explaining that the noise issue isn’t personal, but you can’t perform to your highest potential because of it. Burke recommends explaining that with clear direction from them, the whole office could be more productive.

“Maybe it would be worthwhile to discuss the noise level and creative solutions in a staff meeting,” she added. “You may be surprised as to the unique solutions that might come up that could be helpful.”

Hiring? Write a Better Job Description for Better Applicants

Hiring? Write a Better Job Description for Better Applicants

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Wondering why you’re not getting great job applicants? You might want to take a closer look at how you write your job descriptions.

As an employer, you should focus on attracting the right talent, and your job listings are critical to recruiting quality workers – you don’t want to fill them with cliches or fluff. In fact, just a few minor changes to the wording in your job posting can improve the size and quality of your applicant pool, according to a 2015 study published in the Journal of Business and Psychology.

So how do you create a more effective job description to attract the right candidates? Don’t scare potential employees away with too much information. Business owners and career experts outlined the basics.

A good job description goes deeper than a typical list of skills and requirements. To attract the highest-quality and best-fit applicants to your position, give them a feel for your company culture, said Jean Cook, a former business coach for The Alternative Board.

Rebecca Barnes-Hogg, founder and CEO of YOLO Insights, shared similar views, stating that quality employees will invest in businesses that reflect their own interests and values.

“They want to understand your products and what you stand for,” she said. “Your ad needs to tell them that. The first few sentences need to capture the candidate’s attention. Like any effective sales pitch, make it about them and their interests.”

Jaynine Howard, founder and career strategist at Strategic Success Formula, recommends being upfront about salary in a job description. Many applicants will turn down an offer at the last minute after being informed of the pay, she added. Clearing this up from the start will prevent you and your applicants from wasting time.

Michael Lan, senior resume consultant at Resume Writer Direct, recommends including directions for applying that contain a specific call to action.

“This serves as a built-in screening process, as you will be able to weed out applicants who are not able to follow directions and demonstrate a clear lack of attention to detail,” he said.

When you sit down to write your job description, you’ll want to use a tone that represents your company’s brand, said Joseph Terach, co-founder of Resume Deli. For instance, if you’re searching for creative employees, make your job posting quirky and amusing.

However, you should avoid using jargon. Even great candidates don’t always know the ins and outs of your business before reading your job description, said Shayleen Stuto, human resources and business manager at TechnologyAdvice.

“Don’t assume that they’ll know industry lingo or abbreviations,” Stuto said. “Spell those things out and provide plenty of context about what your company actually does.”

Since many people are distracted and rushed today, they will likely respond better to listings that are easy to read or scan, especially on mobile devices. Don’t overwhelm your candidates with useless information or lengthy paragraphs. Steve Dempsey, COO of staffing firm Aquent, recommends organizing key responsibilities with bullet points and separating sections with descriptive headers.

“Most job seekers are scanning,” he said. “They are on the hunt for the right job and will look at a job post and scan the details before deciding to apply, or to ignore it.”

Additional reporting by Brittney Morgan. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

Got Diversity? Time to Change Your Perspective

Got Diversity? Time to Change Your Perspective

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Your business may not be as diverse as you think it is, and for your staff to be truly diverse and feel comfortable about it, you may need to re-evaluate how you see diversity entirely, new research shows.

The study examined group dynamics as they pertain to racial diversity, and found that diversity is all about perspective.

According to the study, it’s difficult for different people to agree on how racially diverse a group really is because many people judge diversity based on whether they feel that their own race is adequately represented, while they may not notice that groups different from their own aren’t included, the researchers said.

These findings also shed light on another key diversity issue: Conversations about race in the United States have long focused on relations between whites and racial minorities, rather than on relations between racial minority groups, which means society isn’t looking at diversity from all angles, the researchers wrote in the study, published in the latest issue of the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

So, what does this mean for your business? You may not notice a lack of diversity, but your employees might feel out of place or underrepresented in the workplace.

“Our research shows that a lack of diversity may simultaneously trouble some people but not be apparent to others,” said Christopher Bauman, an assistant professor at the University of California, Irvine and one of the co-authors of the study. “We believe many leaders of organizations may underappreciate how much of a concern diversity is for their employees and job candidates.”

And while there’s no quick and easy solution to the problem, there is a way to start making a difference: talk about it.

“Achieving diversity can mean different things to different people, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution,” Bauman said. “People must be willing to have candid conversations about specific types of representation rather than use ‘diversity’ as a catch-all phrase.”

In the end, the study seems to suggest that diversity is all about being open to new points of view.

The study was co-authored by Sophie Trawalter, an assistant professor at the University of Virginia, and Miguel Unzueta, an associate professor at UCLA.

Originally published on Business News Daily.

Is Subconscious Bias Affecting Your Hiring Decisions?

Is Subconscious Bias Affecting Your Hiring Decisions?

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Despite the growing number of diversity hiring initiatives, some managers still fall prey to their own inherent, subconscious biases when evaluating candidates. Without realizing it, they may tend towards hiring people who are similar to them, especially when it comes to their educational background, new research finds.

A study from the job site Indeed discovered that bosses who attended a top-ranked college preferred to hire employees who also graduated from a prestigious institution. Specifically, 37 percent of managers who said theywent to a top school said they like to hire candidates from highly regarded universities. That compares to just 6 percent of managers who didn’t attend a top school.

On the flip side, 41 percent of managers who didn’t graduate from a top-ranked college said they consider candidates’ experience more important when making hiring decisions. Just 11 percent of managers who did attend a prestigious school said the same.

“It’s a worrisome trend that a manager’s personal experience and background has such an influence on hiring decisions,” Paul D’Arcy, a senior vice president at Indeed, said in a statement. “This type of bias can prevent companies from finding the diverse talent needed for their organizations to grow and thrive.”

The research revealed that the bias toward top-college graduates is most prominent among managers hiring for entry-level positions and executive roles.

Despite their desire to bring in employees from highly regarded schools, most managers agree that going to a highly rated school doesn’t translate into being a top performer. Just 35 percent of all of the bosses surveyed said top performers generally come from top schools.

Instead, the managers surveyed said the ability to work well with others, strategic thinking and self-direction are much more indicative of high performance.

This finding “shows that we need to pay more attention to hiring practices,” D’Arcy said. “It is often an unconscious bias that leads managers to hire people with similar backgrounds, but that means many talented and qualified candidates are being overlooked,” he added.

Where a manager went to school isn’t the only bias affecting hiring practices. Greg Moran, founder and CEO of predictive hiring software company Outmatch (formerly Chequed), believes many hiring managers fall prey to their own subconscious biases about factors such as physical attractiveness, height, weight and charisma.

“Overt bias is exceedingly rare, but unintentional, abstract bias can occur,” Moran told Business News Daily in a previous interview. “It’s human nature; employers use their gut reactions to job candidates and hire people like themselves that they get along with. This can be dangerous, because employers don’t even realize there’s bias in their hiring process.”

Moran said that, to avoid these types of biases, companies should take time to thoroughly structure and define their hiring process. For example, they can identify and target the key competencies needed for the job, and structure their process around those needs.

An unstructured process causes subconscious bias: “Look at your candidates and ask, ‘Can they do the job? Will they do the job? Have they done it before, and if not, do they have the transferrable skills to do it?'” Moran said.

In addition to thoroughly screening candidates based on their qualifications, Moran recommended involving multiple people in the interviewing process (including department heads and executives), conducting reference checks, and properly training recruiters and hiring managers to recognize all types of bias.

Employee Recognition Linked to Better Business Performance

Employee Recognition Linked to Better Business Performance

engagment Credit: Dreamstime.com

As the old saying goes, “You reap what you sow.” It holds true when it comes to how companies treat their employees, too.

Research from human resources firm Bersin & Associates suggests that companies that excel at employee recognition are on average 12 times more likely than their peers to generate strong business results, including higher profitability and better market leadership positions. In addition, in organizations where recognition occurs, employee engagement, productivity and customer service are about 14 percent better than in companies that do not reward and recognize employees well.

“Nearly 80 percent of organizations unfortunately focus on ad-hoc or tenure-based recognition programs that fail to reinforce consistent messages or make a strategic impact,” said Stacia Sherman Garr, principal analyst of performance management at Bersin & Associates. “Used correctly, employee recognition is an important talent management tool that can help guide employee performance, maintain increased employee engagement, reduce employee turnover and ultimately drive business performance.”

Based on advanced statistical analysis and customer interviews, Bersin & Associates has developed a set of best practices businesses can follow for improved employee recognition, including:

  • Set the tone for recognition: When senior leaders clearly communicate their expectations so that employees understand their goals and their teams’ goals, the organization is much more likely to have strong business performance.
  • Create clear recognition criteria: Those companies who excel at business performance focus on recognizing people for accomplishing special projects, achieving company goals and demonstrating company values.
  • Use technology: Employees at organizations that were highly effective at integrating technology into recognition were three times more likely to be in the top quartile of business performance. This is because the technology can make recognition more accessible to employees, enables organizations to adapt their recognition programs to fit different business needs and results in more frequent recognition.
  • Engage in a multifront recognition offensive: Although there are benefits to using employee recognition software, it should be part of a comprehensive approach to employee recognition that includes offline elements. These may include praise and appreciation, special projects, certificates, trophies, plaques and “token rewards” that include rewards of smaller values or points that may be converted to other items.
  • Provide recognition and rewards employees’ value:Employees want to receive rewards that are high quality, have high financial value and that they can choose.

3 Workplace Problems Employees Want You to Fix

3 Workplace Problems Employees Want You to Fix

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Smart employers know that happy workers perform better and stick around longer than workers who are miserable. You’re probably trying to create a supportive, collaborative work environment, but are you doing everything you can to address the things that matter most to your team?

According to data from recently released reports and studies, here are three workplace problems that companies should solve to improve employee satisfaction and productivity.

Despite the increased focus on diversity at many modern companies, minority groups are still feeling the effects of discrimination. Black Enterprise reported that 40 percent of minority engineers in the tech industry say they’ve faced bias in the workplace. Conducted by diversity recruitment platform Jopwell, the survey revealed that black, Latino/Hispanic and Native American tech workers have experienced bias based on their race (69 percent), gender (16 percent) and sexuality (11 percent). Additionally, 70 percent said their company could be doing more to promote multicultural understanding. Learn more about strategies for increasing workplace diversity here.

There are a lot of factors that can contribute to reduced productivity, but they’re not always your employees’ fault: A Robert Half survey found that workers lose an average of 22 minutes per workday due to technology and IT-related issues, with 17 percent losing 30 minutes or more. This translates to more than two full work weeks per year. Robert Half advised placing a high priority on IT hiring, and encouraging employees and help desk professionals to proactively communicate about any tech problems.

Everyone wants to be recognized for a job well done. The majority of employees say they feel happier and more engaged at work when their company acknowledges their efforts, according to Globoforce’s WorkHuman Research Institute. But the survey found that 40 percent of employees have not been recognized in any way in the past year. Experts agree that workplace engagement plays a huge role in retention and productivity, so it’s in your best interest to make sure your employees feel appreciated. Here are a few creative ways to do that.

3 Steps to Eliminate Workplace Stress

3 Steps to Eliminate Workplace Stress

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Stress is a part of work. It provides the correct amount of pressure to complete a task with excellence and efficiency. When the anxiety becomes too overwhelming, however, stress follows you out of the office and affects your personal and professional lives.

While it may not be feasible or necessary to change jobs, here are a few steps to help you better manage your stress at work.

It may seem simple, but identifying the root cause of your issues will help begin the healing process.

The American Psychological Association said some workplace stressors can be come from low salaries, excessive workloads, few opportunities for growth or advancement, work that’s uninteresting or that isn’t challenging, a lack of social support, and a lack of power over your career.

These issues can have negative physical side effects, long and short term. You may experience headaches, stomachaches or sleep disturbances; have a shorter temper; or have difficulty concentrating. Chronic stress can result in anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system, the APA said. Such stress can also contribute to health conditions, such as depression, obesity and heart disease. Compounding the problem, people who experience excessive stress often deal with it in unhealthy ways such as by overeating, consuming unhealthy foods, smoking cigarettes, or abusing drugs and alcohol. [See Related Story: 5 Simple Scientific Ways to Be Less Stressed at Work]

Once you’ve identified some of the stress weighing on you, assess your relationships with your co-workers. Do you have friendly relationships, or do you duck behind your computer screen and avoid contact? Slight changes to your communication and work style could establish a better connection with those around you and remove some anxiety.

Socialize with your co-workers. You don’t have to be a social butterfly and hit up happy hour every week, but making small talk with your colleagues might actually help you relax. Bring up light, interesting subjects and get a conversation going. This can be beneficial for productivity and stress release, said Austin Paley, corporate marketing communications manager at web-design agency Blue Fountain Media.

“You will begin to understand one another on a more individual level and work in a more collaborative environment as a result,” he added.

Even just getting to know the people on your immediate team can improve your mood and help you work together better.

Projects “can be very stressful if you’re working with people you don’t know well,” Paley said. “Lead the team you’re working with through team-building exercises when you have downtime — whether it’s playing a cooperative game, going out for food or just doing something you all love — together in your free time.”

Unplug. Being connected via your mobile device 24/7 comes with its own set of stressors. Constant phone calls, texts and email updates have become overwhelming, especially when you’re answering messages after clocking out for the evening.

Say yes more often when co-workers offer help on a big project or are willing to collaborate. This will alleviate some workload, and staying organized and on task will make for a more productive workflow.

“While there are undoubtedly instances when staying connected is legitimately necessary, it’s rare for a business to require that every team member stay logged on continuously. In fact, it’s in a company’s interest to allow employees to recover,” social psychologist Ron Friedman wrote for Fast Company. “If an associate is frequently working late into the night and through the weekend, she is likely doing so at a cost to long-term engagement.”

Keep a handwritten to-do list. Staying on task with a to-do list is essential for success. In the digital age, the notion of writing out your tasks for the day might seem tedious, wasteful and unnecessary. But Paley said that a prioritized, handwritten list of your most important to-do’s could help you get a clearer outline of what your day should look like.

“By having a handwritten to-do list, my tasks for the day never get lost amongst all the other things happening on my computer over the course of a day, and I don’t stress out over whether or not I’m forgetting any important tasks,” Paley said.

“[Writing] the list in the morning helps to outline what the day will look like and make it clearer at the beginning of the day what needs to get done. Additionally, crossing off items of your list physically can be incredibly gratifying and instill a feeling of relief and accomplishment.”

Your day-to-day practices and routines often play a huge role in your stress levels. Breaking bad habits and forging good ones can help you feel more at ease during the workday. Here are some good habits to adopt:

Schedule breaks into your day. If you’re glued to your chair for the entire workday and never give yourself any time away from work-related tasks, you’re much more likely to be stressed out. Paley advised building designated breaks into your daily schedule, and really sticking to them.

“Go for a walk, grab coffee, or take the time to sit down and have lunch,” Paley said. “All of these things give you the time to clear your mind, give your brain a break from whatever you’re working on and reduce stress. Breaks lasting no more than an hour won’t cut into your productivity and are especially beneficial if you work in a position where creativity is important.”

Paley noted that scheduling these breaks at similar times every day helps you train yourself to be prepared for a “brain reset,” making you far more productive over the course of a day.

Devote time to physical, mental and emotional self-maintenance. John Koeberer, author of “Green-Lighting Your Future: How to Manifest the Perfect Life” (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013), said a healthy diet and regular exercise, along with a good self-image and spiritual practices, can prepare you to deal with stress successfully.

“Just the knowledge that your mind, body and soul are in sturdy shape is a huge deterrent to stress getting a foothold,” Koeberer said.

Be kind to yourself. When you’re bogged down with stress-inducing projects and deadlines, it can be difficult to see beyond them. Even long-term assignments end eventually, so you just need to keep going and remember that the challenges you’re facing now will seem small and insignificant when you’ve finally overcome them.

“We can all recollect instances that we thought at the time were real deal-killers, only to have them turn out to be a small anthill,” Koeberer said. “Adopt the thought that this, too, shall pass.”

It may be impossible to eradicate every stressor from the workplace. You may not even want to do that, as some stress can be healthy and encourage you to meet deadlines and keep your head on straight. But working to eliminate bad stress and making your workplace healthier will change the way you view your job.

Additional reporting by Nicole Fallon Taylor and Dave Mielach.