Improve Employee Retention with Workplace Perks

As a business owner, at any given moment you’re juggling tons of things on your plate—making payroll, managing the workplace, keeping supplies properly stocked, troubleshooting tech issues. Worrying about whether the staff you’ve hired is happy and fulfilled needn’t not be another thing on that ever-growing list. Employee retention can be tricky but in thoughtfully thinking of valuable perks to put in place, you can put both your mind at ease as well as ensure employees feel needed and valued. After all, employee satisfaction is a win-win for everyone. 

Read on for some ways to get a hold on employee retention at your business and ensure in both small and large ways that new and old employees stick around for the long haul. 

Health insurance 

Our health is truly our wealth and quality health insurance will go a long way with your employees. Having to manage a persistent sinus infection or a larger health crisis can be stressful, especially without health insurance. In providing health insurance for employees of your business, you demonstrate a level of care for their well-being. Beyond that, many gyms offer deals to businesses who want to incentivize employees to join. Employees that are in good health are those who can contribute effectively to the bottom line of your business. 

Family-like environment

Yet another way to demonstrate care for your employees is fostering a family-like environment. Keep a running tab of employees birthdays in an office-wide calendar for both you, as the business owner, and for fellow colleagues to see. If an employee has recently gotten married, had a new child, purchased a new home, had a death in the family or any other victory/setback, make note of it. Give employees cards or gift cards to both celebrate and comfort them in their time of need. These thoughtful notions speak volumes. 

Vacation and paid time off

Everyone needs a little time off sometimes. In offering vacation and paid time off for your employees, you contribute to work satisfaction long-term and give space for your staff to take breaks avoiding burnout. What’s more, having adequate vacation and paid time off is a great way to attract top notch talent to your business during hiring stages. Employees need to feel encouraged to both work and rest to be the best staff member they can be. 

Performance bonuses 

Another great way to contribute to employee retention are performance bonuses. What better way to show those you’ve hired and remind them they are an integral part in rewarding them with extra money? Plan in advance when you’ll offer performance reviews and bonuses based on the results of those. 

Paid sick days 

To the addendum of health is your wealth, and paid sick days fall into the same category. Employees need to feel that when they are unwell, it is okay for them to rest and take time off work to get better. And to be paid for that time when they are unwell. Make sure to have paid sick days as an option for employees to opt into. 

401(k), retirement plan and pension

As much as you’d love to have your employees with you forever, there will come a time when they will move on and retire. When that time comes, you’ll want to, as a business owner, have protections for them in place to cushion them for their hard work for your business. Have 401(k) or other retirement plans or pensions available to be chosen from. 

Flexible schedule 

An additional method for improving employee retention is to have flexible schedules as an option for all new hires and for employees period. Talk to both your new hires and employees that have been with your small business for a while to ask if their schedule works for them. Be open to allowing employees to come in later and leave later or come in early and leave early. Remember: a happy employee is a productive one and one that will stay with your company. 

Office perks

Your employees will spend the vast majority of their waking life at your small business so why not have some perks in office for them to enjoy? Think of things that would be appreciated such as a free lunch every now and then, employee appreciation barbecues in the warm weather months or even office parties for the holidays. A robust break room with free snacks as well as coffee and water are always good ideas, too. 

Employee development programs 

Want to motivate your employees to continue to invest in themselves and ensure employee retention at the same time? Employee development programs are the route to go in. Offer a robust list of activities for employees of your small business: tech skills, interpersonal communication, leadership. Encourage employees to take part in these programs with frequent reminders and updating offerings throughout the year. 

Sam Casteris is a small business owner and freelance writer operating out of Phoenix, AZ. You can find more of her work on Contently.

3 Office Security Tips to Decline the Risk of an Electrical Fire

As a manager you have many responsibilities to many different parties. However, there is one responsibility that should come before everything else. This is ensuring that your employees have a safe work environment. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 5,147 fatal workplace accidents in 2017. Just because your employees work in an office doesn’t mean they’re necessarily safe either. Electrical fires, for example, can certainly be deadly. With that in mind, below are three tips to use to prevent office electrical fires from happening. 

Be Careful with Plugs and Outlets

One of the most common causes of electrical fires is the misuse of electrical plugs and outlets. This is the case both for residential and commercial fires. While in the office, make sure to routinely check plugs and cords before plugging them into an outlet. Old cords tend to get frayed and can present a fire hazard. Don’t overload an outlet with adapters either. One plug should go into one outlet as a default to prevent fire hazards. You should also consider installing ground fault circuit interrupters to increase your protection against electrical fires from overloaded circuits. 

Maintenance

People tend to falsely assume that once an electrical system has been installed into a building it can be forgotten about completely. This is simply not true. Like all the systems of a building, an electrical system also requires routine maintenance to keep it working properly. Routine maintenance can also allow an electrician to spot and correct problems before they actually manifest into serious issues like electrical fires in your office. 

Create a maintenance checklist and stick to it. A professional will probably have to perform a good deal of this maintenance. Your employees are probably not qualified to work with a custom hermetic cable harnesses for example. 

Surge Protectors

Something else that can help to protect your office is the use of surge protectors. These are devices that can be used to prevent power surges from overloading a circuit. They can prevent electrical fires. They can also help to protect appliances during a power surge. All significant pieces of equipment in an office like computers, printers and fax machines should be plugged into a surge protector instead of directly into an outlet. 

Providing a safe work environment is your number one priority as a manager. Workplace accidents are common, and they can be deadly. This is even the case in office workspaces. Removing the threat of electrical fires can certainly make your office much safer for your employees.

Guest author, Kara Masterson, is a freelance writer from West Jordan, Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah and enjoys writing and spending time with her dog, Max.

Employees Exasperated? 4 Ways to Improve Their Working Conditions

As an employer, you owe it to your employees to give them more than just a paycheck. You need to make sure they have all the necessary provisions to stay safe and happy. It doesn’t take much to provide hospitality to your employees. Here are four ways to improve their working conditions. 

Improve the HVAC 

Your employees can’t be expected to work in peace if the heating or air conditioning is constantly on the fritz. A stuffy or freezing office isn’t one where you can expect much to get accomplished. If employees are complaining about this on a regular basis, it’s time for an upgrade. Look for commercial air conditioners and heating systems that will be able to cover the needs of your employees. A system that is energy-efficient with a long-term warranty is the best way to go. Additionally, make sure your office is well-ventilated; otherwise, you and your employees may experience respiratory problems.

Add Decorations 

A lack of decor can give your workplace a very drab and glum appearance. You can remedy this very easily by adding decorations. You can start by putting up some plants and hanging some attractive paintings. You don’t want to put too much up, as this can turn your office into a bit of an eyesore. Let all of your employees have say in terms of decoration. You should also encourage them to decorate their desks and/or cubicles in any way they see fit. 

Proper Lighting 

The hum and harsh glare of fluorescent lines can be very irritating for employees. Your workplace shouldn’t be dimly lit, but it should be lit in a way that’s more bearable. You can also be more environmentally-friendly by using energy-efficient bulbs. Teach your employees sustainability by having them turn out lights and unplug devices when they’re not in use. 

Clean Up

Some clutter is bound to happen in a work environment. However, if everything is disorganized, people are going to be frustrated. While some of this is the responsibility of your employees, you should be doing your part. Make sure that you clean up after yourself in places like the break room and that your employees are held to the same standard. Additionally, adding bins or storage areas can remedy clutter.

If your employees are losing morale, consider their working conditions. It’s very likely that they feel under-appreciated due to their work environment. You can make your workplace a place of productivity as well as comfort. By following these tips, you can help your employees to have the best possible experience at work.

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

Tips for Effective Workplace Emergency Response and Evacuation Plans

There are so many different reasons why you need an emergency response and evacuation plan. For instance, while hurricanes can be anticipated, earthquakes usually can’t, which is why, if you’re at work at the moment, you would have to evacuate. In some workplaces, there are various hazardous substances used as materials in production. A major leak or contamination might also be a valid reason for evacuation. Then, there’s always the probability of fire or a public safety threat that comes in multiple categories. For all of these reasons, you need to be ready to act in order to save both lives and property. So, here are several tips for workplace emergency response and evacuation.

Natural disasters

When it comes to natural disasters, there are two major groups for you to consider. There are those that are easy to predict and those that are not. For instance, while floods and wildfires don’t gain massive proportions overnight, they might accelerate at the unprecedented pace, which might create a scenario in which you have to evacuate. A major heatwave, on the other hand, can be predicted and, if you determine that such a thing could pose as a health hazard, you can prevent the need for evacuation by simply giving everyone a day off. Sure, some may see this as a net loss for a company, yet, the ramifications of ignoring such a major threat are much worse.

Electrical and fire emergencies

While the probability of fire is something that can’t be ruled out even in the safest of the environments, there are some risk points which, if tended to, might make your office much more resistant to it. For instance, an untidy and cluttered office may not increase the chance of a fire hazard spawning but it could greatly accelerate the pace at which it advances. Combustible materials on the premises are yet another hazard but the greatest thread for your office safety, by far, is faulty equipment or a mistake on your electrical grid. This is why you need to have an emergency electrician on a speed-dial. Blown fuses, corroded wiring and tripped circuit breakers are just some of the potential hazards that could become a major problem, further down the line. On the other hand, sometimes the misuse of your electrical grid is the biggest problem. We’re talking about the scenario where extension cords and power points are overloaded. Either way, you could benefit greatly even from a simple assessment of the situation. Even if, at the moment, you don’t see the issue.

The leak of contaminated material

The biggest problem that could occur within your workplace is probably a leak or contamination by hazardous materials, which is probably the most important reason why you need an emergency response protocol in the first place. Saving lives comes first – however, this is a situation that can’t just pass on its own. With a public safety threat or a natural disaster, the threat will pass (eventually), whereas here, the area needs to be quarantined and cleansed. The best course of action, nonetheless, is to prevent this from ever happening. Instruct your employees on how to behave around these materials. Label everything properly and invest in chemical storage cabinets.

Public safety threats

Previously, we’ve discussed the probability of a public safety threat and they come in four major categories. First, you have a direct threat, where a target is announced in a clear and direct manner. These could sometimes be false and aimed towards making people panic, but it’s still never wise to ignore them. Then, you have an indirect threat. These can be much more dangerous, seeing as how the time and place of the attack tend to be vague. You’re left to guess where it’s going to happen, which might make you be in a state of raised alertness but not as ready to act. Then, there a veiled threat, which most often serves as a warning. It doesn’t even have to imply violence or hazardous misbehavior, yet, it’s never wise to ignore it altogether. Finally, there’s the conditional threat, which, out of the four, is probably the easiest one to predict. Either way, the group, organization or an individual that stands behind them is never a reliable factor in this situation. As we already said, they might just be inciting panic and there’s no guarantee that they will stick to the plan (it could all be just a decoy).

The evacuation plan itself depends on the layout and location of the office, the number of people on your staff and the rest of the safety measures installed in the place. However, it’s much easier, not to mention more efficient, to prepare the place and staff if you have a specific threat in mind. Of course, it goes without saying that you can’t prepare your team for every potential outcome. Still, by anticipating these four threats, you can already make a huge leap in the right direction.

Tracey Clayton is a working mom of three girls, passionate about traveling, marketing and everything tech related. Her motto is: “Live the life you love; love the life you live.”

5 Ways to Prevent Employee Burnout

Employee burnout is visible in numerous ways in all levels of your workplace hierarchy. It is most commonly associated with fatigued workers who work overtime regularly and who rarely take a day off. However, it can also be expressed in general job dissatisfaction, intense levels of stress, anger, cynicism or other negative emotions. Some workers may struggle with the inability to cope with seemingly minor stressors or inconveniences. As an employer, the impact of burnout can be felt throughout your operations. Burnout can result in decreased productivity and efficiency, a lower customer satisfaction rating, a declining employee retention rate and other consequences that you understandably want to avoid.

Understanding the Causes of Employee Burnout

Before you can determine the best ways to prevent employee burnout in your company, you need to understand its many causes. Long hours and long to-do lists are only some of several common causes. In many cases, multiple causes contribute to a serious issue rather than only one factor. For example, workers may also feel burnt out and overworked when they have too many responsibilities or when they lack the support and resources necessary to complete their tasks efficiently. Managerial oversight, conflicts with coworkers and other sources of stress may also contribute to burnout.

Effective Ways to Prevent Burnout in Your Workplace

Now that you understand what some of the many causes of employee burnout are, you can take smart steps to reduce its impact on your workforce. These are some of the more effective ways to prevent employee burnout in your workplace:

1. Assign a Realistic Workload

Managers are responsible for assigning a reasonable volume of work to each employee. Some managers see hardworking employees as workhorses who can handle more tasks than others. However, these individuals may work so hard or for longer hours than necessary because they feel intense stress and pressure to get their tasks completed. This stress is combined with an ever-expanding to-do list. Regardless of how efficient your employees seem to be, all employees should be assigned a realistic workload and should be able to complete their tasks within a reasonable number of hours each week.

2. Promote an Effective Work-Life Balance

Some employees may feel burnt out when they work too much and seemingly have minimal time to enjoy life on their own terms or to spend with family and friends. All employees should have ample time away from the office to exercise, to relax, to get an adequate amount of sleep at night, to tackle personal responsibilities and to maintain healthy relationships with friends and family. To promote an effective work-life balance in your team, consider allowing telecommuting periodically. Allow your team to use their paid time off on their own terms and without guilt. Consider offering additional paid time off beyond what is considered to be standard as a perk.

3. Encourage Employees to Disconnect Regularly

Today’s workers are increasingly connected to work activities wherever they go. They may immediately feel stress related to work activities as soon as they wake up and look at their phone. Emails, text messages and more may require attention throughout most waking hours. Their commute to and from work, their lunch hour and their evenings may also be impacted by their connectedness. Essentially, they are always on-duty even during their time away from the office. While you understandably want to maximize the benefits of technology in the workplace, encourage your team to turn off their devices at reasonable hours and on their days off. Work tasks can usually wait until normal business hours.

4. Invest in Efficiency-Based Technology

Workers may easily feel overwhelmed by their to-do list when each task is a struggle to complete. Numerous technological innovations are available that can bolster efficiency and help your team members to be more effective in their positions. These innovations are related to communication, project management, collaboration and more. Talk to your team about aspects of their positions that they struggle with. Then, explore available technology that may improve their work lives dramatically. Because technology continues to be improved, walk through this important step periodically for ongoing benefits.

5. Incorporate Relevant Perks and Benefits

Adding strategic perks and benefits may also improve your workplace in substantial ways. There is a cost associated with some of these perks, but you may discover that the expense is recouped in meaningful ways. For example, you can bring in a massage therapist to give chair massages to your team one day each month. You may host a potluck lunch to break up the monotony of the workday. Create an employee-of-the-month system that gives one person a prime parking space each month. This provides your team with recognition for their hard work and contributions. Perks and benefits can each have different impacts on your team, so a smart idea is to create a full list of combined benefits. These may transform your workplace culture with incredible results.

If your team is feeling burnt out, there is a good chance that you are as well. It can be challenging to find time in your busy work schedule to focus on improving the lives of your team, but this is an essential step that requires ample attention. After all, everything from productivity to turnover, customer satisfaction and more are at stake. Consider taking small, steady steps toward improving your work environment in these and other effective ways. Your employees and your business will benefit from the effort.

Joe Peters is a Baltimore-based freelance writer and an ultimate tech enthusiast. When he is not working his magic as a marketing consultant, this incurable tech junkie enjoys reading about the latest apps and gadgets and binge-watching his favorite TV shows. You can reach him @bmorepeters

Toasting at The Office: A Guide to Responsible Drinks in the Workplace

Can you have a drink at a work event—and still be responsible? It turns out yes, but your company leadership needs to help you. They can do this not by banning alcohol, but by creating a policy and addressing it with employees frequently and clearly.

Here’s how you do it. Most companies have what’s called a code of conduct. It’s how they expect employees to function at work and while they’re being representative of the company. But the thing about a policy is, many people forget about it—which is why it’s important to share it again before events that may involve the availability of alcohol. If necessary, it’s helpful to have a meeting talking not just about the policy, but about consequences, too, and about how to report violations and maintain confidentiality.

Need more ideas and outlines about how to create and institute this? This graphic offers some ideas.

Please include attribution to https://zerocater.com with this graphic.

Toasting At The Office Infographic

3 Ways to Keep Your Business Location Secure and Safe

Your business faces threats that go beyond the stiff competition of other companies. In fact, if you have a brick-and-mortar location, the biggest threat you face is against the security of the building itself. Since the building represents such a significant capital investment,it’s important to do all you can to keep it safe and secure. Fortunately,keeping your business’s building secure doesn’t have to be complicated, so long as you know what areas of security to focus on. Here are three great ways to get started. 

Add Cameras 

If your business doesn’t involve retail sales, it may not occur to you to have security cameras on-site. After all, without anything to steal, the risk of break-in is greatly reduced, right? Actually, whether yours is a retail location or not, utilizing security cameras is a great way to increase the safety of your building. All buildings contain items of value that thieves would be tempted to try and break in and steal. 

Cameras provide a strong deterrent to thieves, understanding that their anonymity will be in jeopardy. Plus, if a crime does occur, cameras provide irrefutable evidence of what actually occurred, allowing you to prosecute the crimes quickly so you can resume business as usual, as soon as possible. 

Lights On

One of the easiest ways to keep your business secure is simply to leave some lights on,even when you leave for the night. Though this may seem like an unnecessary waste of electricity, leaving lights on can help deter crime by making the interior of your business more visible to those who pass by.

Adding strong exterior lighting, as well, ensures that there are no hidden areas for anyone to be taking part in illegal activity. Not to mention, extra lighting in and around your business allows those previously mentioned security cameras to perform better. 

Change Your Locks 

If other people besides you have access to a key for the exterior doors, it’s a good idea to change the locks on those doors, on occasion. After all, even if people turn in their keys when they leave the company, you never know if they have vengeful motives that have led them to make a copy of the key to be able to break in later.

Especially if an employee’s tenure ends under difficult circumstances, it’s important to consider changing your locks to ensure they can’t wreak havoc at a later time. Having the locks installed by a professional locksmithensures the job is done quickly and correctly, the first time. 

As with most things in life, properly securing your business requires you to strike a balance to ensure the best outcome. In this case, that balance is between costs and security procedures. You can fortify your business to become nearly impenetrable, however, you may find that you have no money left to actually run your business. By utilizing the above techniques, you’ll be able to minimize your costs and maintain a secure building.

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.