Does Your Employee Handbook Need a Makeover?

Nothing about your business is chiseled into granite. But if your handbook goes years in between revisions, you might be giving your employees — as well as prospective new hires — the idea that you’re treading water or that you’ve gotten stuck in time.

For reasons ranging from the practical to the legal, it’s a good idea to take a look at your employee handbook to ensure it still reflects your company’s culture as you see it and still serves as a useful employee resource. Here are a few questions to answer as you reconsider whether your handbook still meets your needs in its current form.

Has Your Mission Changed?

The mission statement is one of the key components to any employee handbook. If it’s been a little while since you last made a revision to your company’s mission statement or values, or something about your process or outlook has changed in the meantime, this could be a great opportunity to take a fresh look.

The question is, what goes into a mission statement? It has to be more than platitudes. Think about what your company values, how it fits into the world, and where you see yourselves in the future. The language you use should be precise enough that you can evaluate job candidates — and they can evaluate themselves — for cultural fit. Do you want employees who embrace change? Go the extra mile? Take advantage of your company’s community outreach efforts? If so, this is where you’ll put language like that.

Job-hunters and recruiters alike want to know what they’re getting. Moreover, potential new hires want to know they’re getting involved with a company that gives back to the world in some fashion and that’s mindful of its place in the world. This is your chance to show that off.

Does Your Handbook Give Comprehensive Details on Employee Benefits?

Remember that your employee handbook isn’t a disposable ream of paper to be glanced through on day one and then discarded without another glance. As a business leader, it’s wise to think of your company’s handbook as a living document and a resource your employees can depend on to get their questions answered or to move their problems closer to resolution.

Employee benefits are a big piece of this puzzle — and employees appreciate not having to search the four corners of the earth when it comes to getting their questions answered about vacations and employee leave. As you put together your handbook revisions, make sure it contains all of the relevant details about the following:

  • How much vacation time is allotted? Do employees accrue more each year they spend with the company?
  • How much advance notice must employees give before an upcoming vacation or other leave of absence?
  • How much personal time does your company award employees? How is PTO accrued, and does it expire at the end of the year?
  • How are sick days handled?
  • Which holidays does the company observe? For which holidays do employees receive compensation, if any?

It’s likely your employees will have questions about telecommuting policies at some point, too, given that 43 percent of all American workers spend at least some of their time working from home. Lay out how this works in practice, including what kind of technology is required to maintain productivity and accountability.

Flextime is another point worth considering if your handbook doesn’t currently address it — or if your company doesn’t offer it presently. In 2017, nearly a third of all businesses in the U.S. offered flextime in some form. There are many benefits associated with schedule personalization, including improved morale and better company productivity, so consider making this a new addition to your handbook during your next revision.

Do Employees Understand What’s Expected of Them Daily?

If the managers at your company find themselves explaining the same standards of conduct on a regular basis, or have to remind employees more often than they’d like about practices and procedures, it’s probably time for an employee handbook makeover.

After all, this is another point on which your company may “evolve” over time. Your dress code might not change that much from year to year, but when was the last time you took a fresh look at your company’s:

  • Drug testing policies
  • Rules for the personal use of technology
  • Social media and web browsing policies
  • Non-disclosure agreements and approach to client privacy
  • Policies regarding acceptable apps and software installation on company-owned equipment
  • Procedures for resolving conflicts in the workplace

The list goes on. You can, and should, be encouraging your employees to think outside the box, seek out tools that make their lives easier, and become more adept at solving problems in a novel way, or with a more efficient process. You shouldn’t be so concerned with drawing up ironclad policies that it stifles employee creativity — but neither can you leave anything up to chance where there daily lives and expectations are concerned.

Has It Been a While Since the Last Revision?

Like it or not, every calendar year brings changes to employment law — and court decisions bring new precedents on a regular basis. One example is the concept of “at-will employment,” which is the norm rather than the exception in many modern workplaces. There are many reasons why contract-based employment may bring more harm than good to companies that adopt it, but if your company chooses to go this route, you can’t afford to be ambiguous about it.

Sexual harassment is another area where, if you can believe it, many companies still find themselves behind the times. Every organization owes its employees a comprehensive process for reporting and redressing harassment in the workplace. Be specific and proactive. This includes letting employees know, early on, which departments or employees to approach about reporting harassment or any other problematic behavior.

Remember, ultimately, that employee handbooks represent the first “taste” your new hires will get of your company’s culture and how it operates. It shouldn’t be written in a dry or unapproachable manner — it should, up to a point, have some charm and character. As we’ve seen, there are a few serious matters that you’d do well to outline in detail (and in legally binding language, as needed), but don’t be afraid to have a little fun with it, either.

Bio: Nathan Sykes is the editor of Finding an Outlet, a source for the latest in IT and business news and trends.

Becoming the Best Boss in the World: 4 Skills to Develop Now

Every successful business also has a great boss at its helm. No one becomes a great boss or business owner overnight. Skills have to be forged and honed. Sometimes, too, experience plays a part. However, you can control skills more than experience. To help yourself become the best boss that you can, these are four skills that you should work on developing right this instant.

Listening

Part of that training for settling disputes and a great skill to hone in general is listening. You may be a less skilled listener than you realize. Listening is important because it helps you break down what your employees and customers are telling you into manageable bits that you can make solutions for. By understanding what the exact problem is, you can solve the problem rather than just painting over it.

Creativity

Perhaps you never would have thought that being creative would be a skill that you need to develop in the business world. It is. Creativity allows you to approach problems in new ways. It can also help you steer your company into new and innovative ways that can make you stand apart from the competition. The more creative you are, the more successful you’re likely going to become.

Empathy

Some might not consider empathy a skill, but it is. It can take practice to develop empathy over just sympathy. While sympathy is useful, it’s often not actionable. By honing empathy, you can learn about problems that stem from your employees and customers that then become your own problems. How would you want them to be fixed? Empathy can offer you new perspectives.

Settling Disputes

In a place where people exist together, you can be sure that there are going to be tensions and problems that arise. These things could involve anything from an argument outside of work to something silly like difference of opinion on a task. Whatever the reason for the dispute is, you’re going to be the one that needs to handle it. This isn’t always the easiest thing to do since as the boss you should be fair and impartial. Trusting your gut, being empathetic, and active listening will help you with these situations. Being comfortable with your dispute resolution skills will take time. Don’t be afraid to use outside resources like leadership coaches, HCP dispute resolution databases, and books about keeping the peace.

It can be difficult trying to become the best boss that you can be. Developing these four skills will help you on that path. Move forward with kindness and compassion and your employees will recognize your effort.

Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband.

Simple Tricks to Boost Business Productivity

As a small business owner, you know very well how hard it can be when you go through a slower period. If this is one of your first dips, it may even be difficult to determine whether or not this is a permanent thing or just another bump in the road – and you’d probably be looking for all the help you can get.

Luckily, there are tried-and-tested ways to boost your business performance even when your startup is going through a bit of a slump. Here is a handful of ways to make it happen so that you can get back on track and grow even bigger and stronger.

First: Reward productivity

Let’s start with the easiest one first. As you know, a company is nothing without its employees; and, as their manager, it’s important that you know how to reward hard work. There are a lot of ways to do this, though, and one of the best ways is to reward the entire team together in order to strengthen their bond and make sure that each employee is noticed.

Treat them to a dinner or lunch as a team after you’ve delivered a big project, for example, or take them out for a team-building experience. While you may not notice the benefits of this straight away, it will definitely have a lot to say for how the team works together in the future.

Another point to this that goes beyond rewards is to ensure that your business has access to the kind of tools that will make it more productive. Consider talking to a CRM consultant, first of all, and you’ll be a bit closer to running the kind of business you’ve had in mind.

Next: Give your team a pep talk

The problem with a business slump isn’t just that the sales are declining and that the office is slow and boring; your employees may be starting to feel a bit dull as well. You definitely need them to have your back, though, and especially now when you’re about to make things kick off again.

Give them a proper pep talk and let them know how much you appreciate their hard work. Remember to acknowledge the downtime, though, rather than just ignoring the fact that everything has been slow for a while. Your employees will surely help you out as long as you take some time to have a chat with them and keep them up to date.

Improve your communication tools

Finally, it’s time to have a look at the kind of tech tools you’re using. By improving the tools your employees are using for communication and collaboration, you might be able to inject some much-needed productivity into the office.

So many small and medium-sized businesses suffer from a lack of communication between the different professionals and it will, undoubtedly, make your business suffer. Take care of these simple tricks, and your business will be so much easier to manage.

Maintaining an Office Building? 4 Ways to Keep it Updated

Office buildings remain stuck in the day and age in which they were built. As companies grow, diversify and develop, the building stays the same. Many businesses will simply move their operations instead of investing more money in their building. However, some owners are stuck with their current building despite having a growing business. Here are four ways to keep an office building updated.

Hire a Professional Remodeler or Interior Designer

Many office buildings suffer from a lack of intentional design. Gray, tan, white, black and other boring colors typically dominate outdated office spaces. These colors have been shown to create a depressed atmosphere in the workplace. Hiring an interior designer is a great way to improve the aesthetics of the office space.

Increase the Amount of Light

Office buildings used to be built a lot like prisons. The construction was only designed to be efficient and productive. Not much thought was given to the effect that the building’s design would have on the workers inside. This carelessness left many office buildings today without ample lighting. Adding some extra sources of light can help boost morale and put employees in a better mood. There are special fluorescent bulbs that help to mimic light from the sun.

Have an Inspector Check for Structural Issues

Older office buildings aren’t only lacking in aesthetic and design features. There are certain structural improvements that should be updated as well. Business managers or property owners should hire a professional to inspect the inside of their office building. Inspectors can offer a thorough rundown of changes that should be made to keep a building updated. Whether installing waterproof lay-in ceiling tile or reinforcing some structural components, these changes can help make update the safety of the office building

Ask the Staff for Suggestions

Employees are the ones who have to enter the office building every day and work for hours. While there are some obvious components that need updating, other factors may be more subtle and subjective. It is helpful to ask staff members about their opinions regarding changes and updates in the workplace. After all, happier staff will lead to more productivity and profits for the company overall. Furthermore, no group of people will be able to deliver the same level of insight and expertise as the staff that works in the office each day.

Many businesses are suffering from outdated office buildings. Productivity, employee satisfaction and overall efficiency can suffer under these conditions. These four tips can help business owners update their buildings in an effective manner.

Emma is a business strategist-turned blogger. She lives in Auckland, New Zealand. Emma is a  passionate traveler and yoga aficionado. She is in love with coffee, interior design, books, and good vibes. 🙂 

Run Your Office More Efficiently In These 3 Ways

Clearly, if you want your office to be run in the best possible way, you need to make sure that you are going to know how to achieve that and what it entails. Most business owners will want their office to be run as efficiently as possible, and this is something that takes a lot of time to get right. However, by understanding some of the basics of what are involved, we can appreciate what it takes to run an office truly efficiently. In this article, we will look specifically at just a few examples of what you can do to make sure that your office is run more efficiently. If you take these things on board and put them into action, you will find that you can expect greater results from your office, and that you will therefore have a healthier business as well. Let’s take a look and see what it takes.

The Right IT

All businesses these days need to have a real positive understanding of their IT systems and how they are used if they hope to have an efficiently run office. After all, you are going to be using this IT in many ways, so the clearer you are on this, the more likely it is that you will be able to make good use of it. One of the best things to think about there is to make sure you have the right kind of systems in place for your office specifically, and that they are providing the right kind of solution for you. You will also want to make sure that you have good IT support, either in the form of an in-house team or you could visit this website to find a company which can help you out on that front. Either way, as long as you can look after your IT properly, your office will benefit from this.

Streamlining

It’s also important to make sure that you are keeping things as simple as can be in the office. If you find that your procedures often get a little too complex, then this can really cause some trouble and means that the office is not going to work as efficiently as it could. Instead, you should aim to keep things simple, and that means that you might need to focus on some kind of streamlining process at some point. The more streamlined you keep the processes within your office, the more simple it will remain, and that will mean that everything is considerably more streamlined as a result.

Employee Numbers

There is something of a balance to be struck when it comes to trying to keep your employee numbers in the best possible position too, for having the right number of people can really make a huge difference overall. If you have too many, then you may well struggle to keep things simple, but having too few will mean that you don’t get anything done. Work hard to find the balance between the two, so that you can run your office as efficiently as you would hope.

Enticing Potential Employees: 4 Strategies for Making Your Company an Attractive Workplace

Attracting new and qualified employees can often be a challenging and complex process. There are many factors to consider when recruiting new employees, such as the background, qualifications, and educational history you are looking for. Many qualified applicants are searching for specific qualities in companies when job hunting. Therefore, not only will you need to be aware of the type of employees you are searching for, but you will also need to ensure that you have created a company culture that is conducive to their needs. The following information provides four helpful strategies you may want to consider in order to make your company an attractive workplace for job seekers.

Create a Desirable Company Culture

You should strive to create a desirable company culture by developing an environment that promotes innovation, inclusion, and diversity. This will allow employees to think freely and creatively to come up with new solutions to business problems. It will also show that the company is ethical in its hiring and promotion strategies. Everyone should feel like a valuable asset to the company, and employees should be encouraged to be respectful to each other despite their differences. All of these factors combined should help to create a company culture that attracts the top talent and discourages high employee turnover rates.

Offer Competitive Wages and Benefits

You will also need to make sure that you are offering competitive wages and benefits to your employees. The top talent wants to work for a company that values them and invests in their potential and professional success. Therefore, you should encourage their growth and always strive to reward hard work.

Make Ethical Decisions

Your company should strive to create a positive and ethical reputation for itself. This can be achieved through manufacturing products in an ethical manner that doesn’t damage the environment or communities. It can also be helpful to give back to your local communities through charitable endeavors and to listen to the feedback and concerns of your customers in order to provide them with the best products and services.

Become More Eco-friendly

Many companies are making a shift towards becoming more eco-friendly. This is something all businesses should consider because the health of our ecosystems is vital to our future. Ways you can reduce your carbon footprint and make more environmentally friendly decisions include reducing your energy and water usage, manufacturing products in a way that causes less harm to the environment, and disposing of waste in the proper manner through research and by hiring professionals, such as aerosol disposal services.

Overall, there are many ways you can make your company a more attractive option for talented and qualified applicants. You just need to strive to be ethical and compliant and to invest in the future of your employees. The aforementioned tips make excellent starting points and there are always ways to improve and grow in order to become a better company for your employees.

Guest author, Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her 3-year-old husky Snowball.  @LizzieWeakley