employee handbook
This Does Not Belong in Your Employee Handbook

The employee handbook is an important document for your small business. As discussed in a previous article, a good employee handbook can protect you from all kinds of legal complications. Consequently, it is also important to know what to exclude in your handbook. In this article we will explore 3 things you should not include in your employee handbook.

Exclusion 1 – Health and Welfare Benefits Specifics

The first item to exclude is the specifics of your health and welfare benefits. It is better to prepare a separate Benefits Booklet. The reason being, plans for benefits often change from year to year. It is much easier and more efficient to update a separate document.

However, it’s a good idea to include a brief section outlining what types of benefits are offered. Subsequently, you can reference the Benefits Booklet (or whatever you decide to call it) for learning the details.

Exclusion 2 – Procedures, Safety Rules, and Job Duties

Next up on the list of items not to include in your employee handbook are procedures, safety rules, and job duties. Those details, much like the health and welfare benefits, are best documented in a separate document. In this case, an operation’s manual. The purpose of the employee handbook is to outline things in the employee-employer relationship and only what impacts all employees. This ensures it does not become a cumbersome and confusing document.

Exclusion 3 – Legally Binding Contracts

Lastly, the final item on the list of things to exclude is legally binding contracts. This would include arbitration, non-disclosure, and non-compete agreements. Remember, the employee handbook is to serve as a guide. It does not constitute an employee contract. As such, legal documents must be drafted and executed by a qualified attorney and then included with an actual employee contract to ensure proper execution.

If you’d like a review of your employee handbook, we invite you to Book an Appointment! We’d love to help.

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employee appreciation
Employee Appreciation and Your Bottom Line

Employee appreciation is more important than you think. In this article we’re going to explore just how impactful employee appreciation really is. We’ll demonstrate how genuine appreciation can transform a business in many ways. Consequently, you’ll understand how the lack of employee appreciation impacts your bottom line and has the potential to sabotage success.

We’ll begin with research by Workhuman® and Gallup®. Their report reveals that when employee appreciation efforts were doubled (from 1 in 4 to 2 in 4 polled stating they felt appreciated at work) businesses realized a 9% improvement in productivity, a 22% decrease in safety incidents, and a 22% decrease in absenteeism. For larger companies these numbers amount to millions of dollars being added to the bottom line. This study included large US businesses so when a smaller business incorporates this kind of cultural development, it serves to reason even higher percentages of improvements can be experienced in these areas.

Why it Works.

Humans are wired to do better when they feel appreciated. In fact, the feelings generated from appreciation occur when the chemicals in the brain are stimulated by the 5 senses. This article isn’t a science expose, but it helps to understand human behavior to nurture good mental health in the workplace. When genuine praise is given the brain releases dopamine. This creates a feeling of pleasure and the desire for more of it drives the behaviors by which they can repeat the feeling. So, when giving praise be specific and clear so the employee can know how to replicate it.

It’s Not Easy for Everyone

Something so simple should be easy to do but unfortunately, we humans can be complicated creatures at times. We carry around all sorts of baggage making it challenging to communicate praise. If it’s hard for you, here’s some ways you can ensure your issues don’t stand in the way of giving employees the acknowledgement they need to feel good about their work.

Ways to Show Employee Appreciation

Need to improve an environment in which employees bad mouth each other too much? Saying nice things is free, and it goes a long way in creating positive behavior. Create a “caught being nice” contest. Over a determined amount of time, cards are collected when a person is “caught being nice”. Their name is written on a card and put in a fishbowl or a box. The person with the most notes can win a prize or be celebrated at lunch.

Create a “Job Well Done” box in which peer-to-peer or even manager-to-peer praise notes are collected. The note acknowledges something done well. They can be collected and then given to the individual or read aloud at meetings. This is a great way to create team bonding and mutual support.

Create an employee of the day/week/month and celebrate these individuals. Set up a gift program to demonstrate appreciation. It can be as simple as taking an employee to coffee to say thank you or a gift card they can use anywhere.

While praise doesn’t always have to have a monetary reward attached to it, creating an environment in which employees feel appreciated most definitely has the ability to positively impact the bottom line of every business.

Need help creating an employee appreciation program? We’re here to help! Reach out so we can chat soon.

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Is Work Overload a Choice You’re Making?

It’s likely your first response is emphatically, no! After all, who in their right mind would choose work overload, right?

We all know work overload means less time with our loved ones, losing touch with our personal needs, and it inevitably results in burnout and frustration. On the surface no one wants to admit they’ve chosen work overload.

Let’s Take a Closer Look at Work Overload.

When was the last time you, the business owner, sat down and gave thought to where you are, where you want to go, and how you will get there? Have you taken measures to outline the steps necessary to reach those bigger goals? Or have you gotten sidetracked making frantic to-do lists every day and hoping you get through another day of chaos?

You’re not alone if you find yourself overworking but let’s be honest with ourselves. Overworking will produce results in the short term, but it is not a long-term solution and shouldn’t be mistaken for ambition. Let’s call it what it is. It’s a choice you’re making every day. Don’t beat yourself up or judge yourself about this. This is a sneaky situation, and it happens incrementally. It’s something we find ourselves in the middle of without realizing it. Then, when this happens for extended periods of time it leads to losing sight of business goals and working in alignment with our purpose.

How Can We Choose Differently?

Delegation is the path to ending work overload. Learning the art of delegation is a must for business owners with big goals and dreams. And it is how you demonstrate to your team that you trust them. This boosts morale and helps build their skills and gets more work done in less time.

It also helps keep your ego in check. Staying in touch with the fact you don’t have every skill needed to operate your business creates an important reality check. This makes you a better leader and able to take your company forward by leaps and bounds. Surrounding yourself with a team more talented than you in the areas needed is crucial to the success and longevity of any business.

What if You Don’t Have the Help You Need?

If your small business doesn’t have all the talent needed, it’s probably time to get some help. One of the best ways we’ve found to help small business owners soar is working with an HR consulting firm. This gives you access to expertise in many areas needed to help you reach big goals.

Because if you’re choosing to get caught up in the work of human resources, (recruiting, payroll, compliance, employee development, etc.) who’s running the company? Who’s doing the planning and ensuring the business is on course to reach the mile markers of success?

Let’s look at the question again. Are you choosing work overload?

You must step back every now and then and evaluate the choices you’re making every day. Otherwise, you risk taking much longer to achieve your goals, or maybe not achieving them at all.

Here’s to choosing well.

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Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging: Why They Matter in the Workplace

Do you understand the importance of creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace? It’s not just about checking boxes or meeting quotas; it’s about creating a culture where everyone feels valued, respected, and empowered to be their authentic selves.

What do these terms mean?

Diversity: Diversity refers to the range of differences that exist among people, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, and ability. A diverse workplace brings together people from different backgrounds and perspectives, which can lead to innovation, creativity, and better problem-solving.

Equity: Equity means ensuring that everyone has access to the same opportunities, regardless of their background or identity. This includes addressing systemic barriers that may prevent certain groups from achieving their full potential.

Inclusion: Inclusion means creating a sense of belonging for all employees, regardless of their differences. It involves creating an environment where everyone feels valued, respected, and able to contribute to the organization’s goals.

Belonging: Belonging takes inclusion a step further, to a sense of feeling connected and supported within the workplace community. It involves creating a culture that supports and embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Why the concepts of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging matter.

For one, they can have a direct impact on employee engagement and retention. When employees feel included and valued, they are more likely to feel motivated to do their best work and stay with the organization long-term.

Additionally, diversity and inclusion have been shown to improve decision-making and problem-solving. When teams bring together different perspectives and experiences, they are more likely to come up with creative solutions that take into account a range of viewpoints.

And perhaps most importantly, creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace is simply the right thing to do. Everyone deserves to feel valued and respected, regardless of their background or identity.

So what can organizations do to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace?

Here are a few suggestions:

Start by examining your own biases and assumptions. We all have unconscious biases that can influence our decision-making and interactions with others. Taking steps to become more aware of these biases and working to overcome them can help create a more inclusive culture.

Create policies and practices that promote equity and inclusion. This might include things like flexible work arrangements, diverse hiring practices, and providing accommodations for employees with disabilities.

Provide training and education on diversity, equity, and inclusion. This can help ensure that everyone in the organization is on the same page and has a shared understanding of the importance of these concepts.

Foster a culture of belonging. This might include things like celebrating diverse holidays and cultural events, creating opportunities for employee resource groups to connect and network, and regularly soliciting feedback from employees on ways to improve the workplace culture.

Creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace is an ongoing process. But by making a commitment to these values and taking concrete steps to put them into practice, organizations can create a culture where everyone feels valued, respected, and empowered to do their best work.

Contact AZ HR Hub today for help in building an inclusive workplace!

Book a FREE Consultation: https://calendly.com/linda-7921/15min

or Email us at: linda@azhrhub.com

The Rewards of Trust and How to Get Them

Why do team members stop trusting in one another? And what happens to a team when trust disappears? To answer these questions, let’s start with a story.

About a year ago, Abigail began her first day on a new job. She was a software engineer, new to the workforce, and eager to make a good impression on her colleagues. At the end of the day, she noticed a fine, jagged line on the floor of the office, stretching the length of the building. She examined it, puzzled. She was pretty sure she hadn’t noticed it earlier and almost as sure that it hadn’t been there when she’d arrived. For a moment she considered asking someone about it, but she didn’t feel comfortable inquiring about structural integrity on her first day.

Truth be told, she wasn’t the only employee who noticed the jagged line, and it had just appeared that day. But no one else had brought it up.

The next morning, the line had grown to an unmistakable crack. Javier, another software engineer, saw it straight away and thought about mentioning it to his supervisor, but the last time Javier spoke up about a problem, his supervisor had scolded him for not also presenting a solution. He had no solution, so he said nothing.

Dipendu thought he had an easy fix for the ugly crack, but he too was hesitant to speak up. The last time one of his designs hadn’t worked out as planned, the executive team was livid, and his manager threatened to demote him if his work ever failed again. Lupita, a senior designer, also had a solid idea for repairing the crack, but she’d seen too many of her good ideas stolen by others in the company, who received the credit for her ingenuity. Both Dipendu and Lupita kept quiet.

As the days passed, the crack expanded several inches. Everyone stepped over it as nonchalantly as they could so as not to acknowledge its existence. After a few weeks, the rift was several feet wide, and HR quietly updated job descriptions to say that the physical requirements of every job might entail some jumping.

Finally, after office supplies, a laptop, and Fred got lost in the rift, management decided to acknowledge the issue. But its message was inconsistent. In some instances, management seemed to take the gap seriously and promised it prompt attention. At other times, management seemed less committed. Only after an OSHA inspector showed up on an anonymous tip and summarily disappeared into the rift did company leadership clarify their position. Whatever the cause of the still-growing crack, employees were at fault for not speaking up sooner, and they’d just have to live with the consequences.

The consequences, however, were not sustainable. Valuable team members and intellectual property got lost in the abyss, electrical wires and phone lines got disconnected, and team meetings involved a lot of shouting over the gap. Soon everyone only communicated if they absolutely needed to, and oftentimes not even then.

What happened to this company may sound farfetched, but the rift is real. While you probably won’t find gaping holes in workplace floors, you will find trust destroyed by broken promises, lies, spin, retaliation, and inconsistency. And when trust is lost, relationships and teams break apart. In the workplace, people keep their distance from others, withhold information, refrain from identifying problems, and erect barriers to protect themselves. In short, they stop working together.
 

Benefits of Trust

The whole point of forming a team is to facilitate cooperation. Trust is the foundation of that cooperation. With trust, teams increase their productivity, improve their ability to communicate and collaborate effectively, act more creatively, delegate work more easily, and achieve greater financial success. Trust enables teams to accomplish what they’re designed to accomplish. Trust creates a sure footing for success. But without trust, cooperation cracks, shatters, and dies. People can’t act as a team. 
 

Building Trust

Trusting your employees and gaining their trust isn’t easy. As Wendy Dailey says, it takes time and effort. It’s work.

But trust is achievable. And worth it. We human beings are social animals, after all. It’s normal for us to trust one another. All of our social institutions require it. That’s one reason violations of trust feel so wrong and hurt so much. They cause rifts in friendships, romantic partnerships, families, neighborhoods, churches, teams, and other organizations. And yet those rifts are not the norm. They’re not what we typically expect. In the workplace, we expect to be able to trust our teammates, at least as far as work is concerned. So how do we get there? Let’s examine a few practical ways to build trust at work. 

Learn What Trustworthiness Means to Your Employees
Laurie Ruettimann, author of Betting on You and host of the Punk Rock HR podcast, advises organizations “to learn more about how their employees define, value and evaluate trustworthiness — and act on it.” What establishes and strengthens trust with one employee may be different than what builds trust with another. For one thing, every employee has their own reasons for being an employee of their organization and expectations for what that relationship entails. For another, everyone has their own experience with building and losing trust. All else being equal, gaining the trust of someone who’s had their trust in others betrayed will be more difficult than gaining the trust of someone who’s not experienced such devastating betrayals. It’s vital to understand these differences. 

Build Relationships on Authenticity, Logic, and Empathy
Executive coach Sarah Noll Wilson offers similar guidance. There is “a complexity to trust because what everyone values and what they need is going to be different based on every situation,” she writes. Her team recommends a framework they call the ‘Trust Triangle.’ We build high-trust relationships at work by being authentic about our values and impact, logical in how we’ve come to our conclusions, and empathetic in all our interactions. 

Give Employees Your Time and Attention
Consider this simple advice from HR author and speaker Steve Browne: show “a little respect.” Respect brings people together. It empowers people to trust. We show people respect in the workplace by “acknowledging that their efforts make an impact and meaningful difference to the success of the company.” For Browne, we engage people with respect by giving them two things: “our time and attention.” 

Acknowledge People’s Emotions
Researchers Alisa Yu, Julian Zlatev, and Justin Berg arrived at much the same place. Writing in Harvard Business Review, they explain that the best way to build trust at work is to acknowledge other people’s emotions. Acknowledging another’s emotions communicates that you “care enough to invest in that relationship.” Interestingly, the authors found that “acknowledging negative emotions boosts trust more than acknowledging positive emotions.” Why? Because most people “see acknowledging negative emotions as being more costly in terms of time, attention, and effort.” Acknowledging emotions can backfire, however, if “your coworkers believe your actions are motivated by selfish reasons.” 

Act with Transparency, Clarity, and Consistency
We trust others when we believe that they are worthy of that trust — when we believe that they are honest, good, reliable, faithful, compassionate, and fair. How do we inspire others to believe that we are trustworthy? By keeping our promises. By being transparent about our decisions, clear about our expectations, and consistent in our practices.

Believe in Your People
Trust can’t go just one way. Rifts in the workplace will form if trust isn’t reciprocal. That means that we also have to show employees that we trust them. This can be challenging because we’re often inclined, and not unreasonably, to perceive employees as costs, risks, and liabilities. And yes, they certainly can be, but they’re also any company’s greatest asset. If we treat employees only as a danger, we tell them loud and clear that we don’t trust them.

The alternative? Find strength in vulnerability. Acknowledge the rights of your employees and your responsibilities to them (the employee handbook is a convenient place to do this, but your overall attitude matters too). Invest in their growth and success. Celebrate their wins. Give them reasonable opportunities to mend mistakes and make up for failures. In sum, treat employees like you trust them to do good work. Will some betray that trust? Yes. But that’s on them. Believe in them, and you’ll inspire trust. Assume betrayal, and you’ll get something else.  

Trust enables people to work together. Pour everything you can into that foundation. You’ll build stronger and more productive relationships with your employees, notice and mend cracks more quickly, enhance the capabilities of your team, and achieve greater success. 

toxic workplace
Exploring Some Causes of Toxic Workplace Cultures

Describing a workplace as “toxic” has become almost cliché in recent years; although all offices have a negative element or two, there are some that are truly toxic. That is, the culture is so negative that it has negative impacts on the business. These impacts can range from poor morale and lowered productivity to employee disengagement and high turnover. Let’s look at what impact it has on the business and what causes it?

Toxic Cultures and the Turnover Tsunami

In an article for BBC Worklife, Katie Bishop tells us that about 20% of U.S. workers have left their jobs because of toxic environments and 64% of employees in the United Kingdom “said that experiencing problematic behaviors at work had negatively impacted their mental health.”

Of course, no one would argue that toxic workplaces are desirable, but they exist nonetheless. So what are some of the factors that contribute to toxic cultures, and how can those factors be mitigated?

Factors Contributing to Toxic Workplace

A toxic culture isn’t necessarily about the size or structure of the organization. “A common conception is that toxic behaviors are often found in large corporations where competition is fierce and accountability is low – and yet some workers report that the same damaging culture can just as easily be found in smaller, less hierarchical organizations,” says Bishop.

Instead, toxic cultures often thrive when one or both factors are present: resource constraints and weak leadership and culture. Looking first at resource constraints, it makes sense that employees in companies with less money to spend on staff or other resources will be stressed and struggle to keep up with their workload, and stress is always a potential source for negative attitudes, hostility, and general toxicity.

When Toxicity Is Pervasive and Ongoing

Negativity and unhealthy behavior can crop up in any organization. What sets truly toxic cultures apart, though, is that they take root and stick around. That’s where the second factor comes into play. Organizations that lack strong leaders to stamp out toxic behavior or strong cultures that make such behaviors unacceptable become fertile ground for toxicity to grow and thrive.

While some workers might casually throw around the term “toxic workplace,” there are some organizations that truly deserve the label. Companies that are resource-strapped and lack strong leaders and robust cultures are often ripe for toxicity to spread. Addressing these underlying factors may not only help address existing toxicity but also prevent it in the future.

If you’d like support developing a healthy company culture, we’d love to help. Reach out today!