Archive for 'people'
Running your own business can be extremely rewarding, but for many small business owners having the sole responsibility of a company’s success or failure can take its toll. With one in five people experiencing a mental health issue at some stage in their life, there is a greater need to have mental health support specifically within the workplace environment of small businesses.
A typical response to the pressures and demands of business and life is stress. Workplace stress can occur when the demands from running your business and the requirements of your role are greater than your capacity to manage them or the resources and support available to you. Contributing factors to work stress include:
- Working long hours or overtime, working without a break or taking work home.
- Doing shift work.
- Time pressure, working too hard or with unrealistic targets.
- High mental task demands, or work that requires high-level decision making.
- Work that requires high emotional involvement.
- Hostile or discriminatory work environment.
While stress isn’t the same as other mental health conditions, excessive or long-term stress can increase your risk of developing a mental health condition such as anxiety or depression. Managing mental health within your business by avoiding conditions that lead to excessive stress and encouraging awareness and support can have many positive outcomes and cultivate a mentally safe and healthy workplace.
For a functioning company, employees have to be able to work together and communicate. Their relationships can be the difference between an ok team and a great one. People who enjoy their work are more productive and employee communications can be a contributing factor.
A good employer will help foster the working relationship of their team and ensure everything is running smoothly. By instigating co-operation between employees, you establish that a cohesive environment is not only encouraged but necessary for the functioning of the company.
Getting employees to work together on tasks can improve their working relationship as well as combine creativity and productivity to deliver a better product. Involving different team members in other tasks inspires collaboration and develops a relationship where they can rely on each other.
A relationship can not grow without communication from both sides. As the employer, it is your responsibility to establish an environment where open communication is encouraged. If your employees can come and talk to you openly, then they should also feel like they can talk to each other as well.
Where it be minor events like the completion of a task or major ones like birthdays, celebrating can help higher morale and interaction between employees. Having a break where everyone can come together for a moment that isn’t work-related can also help to strengthen relationships as they get to interact in a work environment that is not directly related to work.
Maintaining a professional voice when communicating in the workplace is crucial, especially when corresponding with superiors or new clients or colleagues. Use of e-mail and phone calls greatly enhance our communication reach and enable us to quickly respond to a task. Like in-person interaction, e-mail and phone conversations have social conventions to follow.
E-mailing has become a fast and effective way to communicate with others. Times to use e-mail over other forms of communication are:
- When the material is not time sensitive
- You need a record of your correspondence
- You need to share files
- There are multiple recipients
It is important to remember that e-mails are not private, anyone can access servers and view them. For this reason, you should not include confidential material in any e-mails you send. With this in mind, it is also relevant to remember not to overshare or overwrite information for timeliness and privacy reasons. An e-mail is not a letter, it does not need to be long or detailed with excessive punctuation and formatting, shorter sentences and straightforward language are best to effectively communicate your point.
Phone calls are the best way to contact a person when:
- Information is confidential
- The subject is time sensitive
- The correspondence is formal
When on the phone for business reasons, keep your tone professional and polite, you can help this by staying focused on the call and not multi-tasking, this will help with concentration and clarity. Speaking clearly is a must as phone connections can sometimes be poor. For this reason, always double check information you have received to confirm all details are correct.
Communication between co-workers is vital but the growing reliance on technology and social media threatens to distract further than office small talk. If you need to contact someone and you use social media messaging, you run the risk of them getting distracted by their phone in the process. Here are some suggestions you can follow to communicate with employees without distractions.
One way you can aid communication is by using specific messaging sites, such as Slack or Discord, to keep all your work chatter in the same place. This keeps distractions to a minimum and keeps the conversation productive. Having moments throughout the day, like morning meetings or a coffee break, for employees to socialise helps keep work periods focused. Communication is a two-way street, there is a give and take element in all forms of conversation. It is important to allow others not only the time to speak but to be heard, making sure it is known that their points are valid and considered. Remembering a particular exchange and revisiting aspects is a great way to show employees and co-workers that their input has been heard and acknowledged.
Workplace conflict is inevitable, which is why you must manage arguments between your staff to keep your office environment professional and productive.
Establish office rules of engagement
Your code of conduct and workplace policies should make your job easier as a manager. Clear expectations for how staff interact with one another is key to setting the tone for workplace discussions, especially when they get heated.
Encourage employees to resolve conflicts
As a manager, you will not have time to get involved in every argument that breaks out in the office. You should encourage your staff to practice their conflict resolution skills so that in the future they will be able to solve their problems with their colleagues.
Referee the conflict
If your employees cannot resolve their dispute, you may have to step in. If you see that the conflict is escalating, bring the employees into your office for a face to face chat. You may help resolve the conflict by forcing each employee to listen to the other side and encourage a collaborative solution.
A tight-knit staff will work more effectively as a team and provide a positive impact on your workplace. Encourage your employees to bond with each other through a range of activities so you can reap the benefits of a friendly office.
Staff karaoke night
Take your Friday night staff drinks to the next level by booking a karaoke room. It might sound silly, but karaoke allows employees to let their professional guard down. This promotes a more personal relationship amongst staff that will benefit their teamwork.
An after-work escape room can boost office teamwork and problem-solving skills. Escape rooms require a group of people to solve a series of riddles and puzzles to exit a room. Your staff can discover new talents, learn that it is ok to experiment and make mistakes in a consequence-free zone and bond with each other over a fun activity with a shared goal.
Whether it is a 5km fun run, a tough mudder course or a workplace basketball team, nothing brings a group of people together like sport. The key values of teamwork, cooperation and support evident in sport, will show themselves in the office in no time.
All of your staff must feel equally valued and treated fairly to keep your workers motivated, reduce staff turnover and avoid damage to your reputation as an employer.
Keep in mind the following strategies to make sure you are promoting gender equality in your workplace.
Put a policy in place
An equal opportunity policy that is transparent and accessible to current and potential employees will set clear expectations. Your policy will set the tone for other sectors of your business like recruitment, promotions and the leadership team. These guidelines are also a means of attracting female talent in your recruitment process.
Enforce equal pay for equal work
Inequality between workers based on their salary is a way to drive away talent and gain a bad name for yourself in the industry. Paying employees based on their past job may cause you to inadvertently enforce unequal pay between the sexes. Instead, consider setting a pay range for each position and adjust it on experience and an individual’s circumstances.
Provide equal access to opportunities
Your candidates for promotion and members of your leadership team should show a fairly even split across genders. The most deserving person for the job should be picked but consider a decision-making panel that comprises both sexes to eliminate unconscious biases.
Grief is an inevitable part of life, and it is something you will encounter in your workplace. There are several strategies you can use to assist your employee when they are dealing with a loss in their life, which will benefit them and make sure your business stays on the right track.
Have a one-on-one
Calling your employee in for a chat will allow you to express your condolences and show your empathy in a private, safe space. You should inquire and listen to how your staff-member is doing, and you may ask what support they may need and what might be the best plan moving forward. This conversation will also give you a chance to assess how affected they have been by the loss and recommend any counselling services that your workplace might offer.
Offer time off
Your employee may need a break to get their affairs together, arrange funerals and process their emotions. Taking this step in advance will allow you to plan for their replacement rather than it being sprung on your later on if your team member is not coping.
Adjust their workload
For a period your employee may want to avoid speaking to customers and clients if they feel keeping composed will place too high of a strain on them. Relax their workload if you can and invite employees to take on extra to assist your team member in their time of need. Express the importance of teamwork when you explain this plan to staff to avoid resentment or any miscommunication about staff expectations.
Spotting talent early and nurturing it will benefit your business by strengthening your staff and ensuring that high performing, high potential employees remain loyal to you.
Here are tips to develop a successful mentoring program.
Give it some thought
When developing your mentoring program, you need to establish your aim. Do you want the proteges to be long-standing members of your company? Do you want the program participants to gain leadership skills? Are you training them for a specific purpose? Once you have decided your aim consider:
- The application process
- Who is eligible (existing staff or external applicants)
- What age and experience are you looking for (undergraduate or experienced in the industry)
- Mentoring style
- Who will mentor
Choosing your mentors
I should bestow extra responsibilities upon those employees that are not only able but willing. Announce the mentoring program to a select group of qualified employees and ask for volunteers. Train the suitable mentors in the style you would like. Encourage getting out of the office and a personal approach for a well-rounded sense of support.
Workplace fatigue damages morale, increases errors made by staff and can lead to an overall decline in the quality of your business.
Steps you can take to prevent and reduce workplace fatigue are provided below.
Educate your workers
Your employees should be informed about the symptoms of fatigue and the lifestyle choices they can take to eliminate or deal with these issues. Opening a dialogue with your staff will also make it more likely that they will approach you to discuss problems with their work-life balance.
It is vital that staff take adequate breaks to refuel so that they do not burn out at work. By encouraging staff to take their leave rather than just accumulating it, you promote a healthier lifestyle that will benefit your team and therefore you as an employer.
Be cautious with overtime
At certain times of year businesses heat up, and everyone needs to pitch in a little more than usual. However, if you notice an employee is working overtime over a prolonged period, this may be a warning sign for you to either hire more staff or assess that employee’s workload. Checking in and redistributing tasks may be key in keeping your team energised and efficient.