Q&A: Navigating the COVID-19 Crisis: SEL and Distance Learning – Tips for Parents and Youth to Stay Safe and Adjust

Melissa Straub is the founder of High Impact Youth Training Solutions, LLC, a consulting company that provides educational training and guidance on issues directly affecting youth, schools, and communities. We spoke with Melissa about how parents can deal with the challenges they’re facing in balancing working from home, virtual schooling, and the constantly evolving COVID-19 pandemic.

Q: The pandemic is a once in a century event that American parents, or even their parents, have never experienced. How can we address our children’s fear of the unknown at such a volatile moment?

Talking to your kids and assuring them they are safe is essential. Talk about what COVID-19 is and what it’s not, and debunk the rumors and false information. Reassure them that we all will get through this with a unified effort, but that we all need to take responsibility in order to stop the virus’ spread. Model the behavior you’re instilling and be aware of your own actions and words. Use age-appropriate language and simple terminology.

Let the children participate in setting the new norms for school scheduling and their other day-to-day activities and expectations. Children like to be heard and involved, and they crave structure. It’s OK for them to be fearful and it’s normal to have some sense of hopelessness. Reassure them, validate their concerns and encourage continuous conversations. 

Q: You touched on the importance of involving kids in setting the rules of the road during this time of home confinement. How can we do that constructively?

First things first, sit down and discuss what the new normal should be. Have the kids participate and provide input — they love to have a voice. Parents need to accept that the typical school day may be shortened and the work may not be as demanding as if the kids were attending school normally – you just have to go with the flow. Instill regular routines around bathing, sleep times, mealtimes and free time with some flexibility. Explain that teamwork and patience will be needed from everyone, since schedules and activities may have to change at times due to family members’ needs. Mom and dad are also working and have deadlines that need to be considered.

Q: Being cooped up in the house with your family for weeks or maybe months is bound to lead to some friction. How can we mitigate these conflicts?

There is no doubt that emotions are heightened within the family unit due to all of the unknowns and the stress of adjusting to distance learning. There will be some psychological fallout, feelings of isolation, anxiety and disconnectedness. We all need to pay attention to those ever-evolving emotions and do our best to address them. Having periodic check-ins or family meetings is key. Take that opportunity to initiate conversations and provide validation. If there is a notable change, please contact your family physician or look for online solutions and resources. Don’t ignore the issues, as they may get worse. Explain that it is normal to feel this way, that “we” can get through it, and this time in our lives is unprecedented but will pass in due time.

While we are all now familiar with the term “social distancing” and are practicing it the best we can, we still need to be social. We are social creatures by nature and kids more than ever will crave to fill the void in their lives. Encourage your kids to reach out to friends, family and others using the gift of technologies like FaceTime and Skype. We should also recognize the misinformation and bias that have become rampant during this crisis. Parents should be talking about diversity, inclusion and empathy throughout this time.

Mindfulness is a tool that can help ease both the mind and the body for all family members. Support moments of self-reflection, quiet and breathing, if only for a few moments a day. Taking a few minutes for the mind-body connection is essential during times of crisis and can help you adjust to the stressors.

Q: For many families, internet and TV time quotas have gone out the window, as parents can’t entertain their kids while they’re working. At the same time, the kids could be exposed to some frightening stories and messages related to COVID-19. How would you advise parents to deal with that?

Discussing the news and media coverage that your kids are seeing and hearing online is very important for demystifying the elephant in the room. Try to impose limits on the potential exposure, turn the TV off when children are in the room, and provide for open-ended conversation at the dinner table each night. While they are in the distance learning zone, outside of the educational material they have to engage with, have them explore other sites to keep them occupied. Several sites are offering virtual museum tours, educational resources and fun activities to keep children engrossed.  Emphasize the need for them to be socially responsible with the content they encounter by stressing the simple message, “If you see something, say something.”

Finally, have the courage to stand up and make a difference to help one another. This crisis is one that involves all of us and humanity will be measured when it’s finished.

Curious why over 5,000 organizations worldwide are using STOPit’s anonymous reporting software and 24/7/365 monitoring services?

When Kids Are Not #SafeAtHome: Cyberbullying Is An Increased Threat During COVID19

Last week, COVID-19’s impacts spread from the nightly news to the daily lives of millions of parents. With people in states across the country facing stay-at-home orders, employees transitioning to new work-from-home lifestyles and school buildings shuttered, Americans are trying to adjust to a new way of life that doesn’t appear likely to change any time soon.

Teachers and staff are doing their best to keep up productivity with the help of technology. At the same time, their job descriptions have expanded to include the duties of de facto school IT people, classroom aides, lunchroom monitors, principals and custodians, all while praying their kids don’t burst into their Zoom meetings.

And at the same time, in many households schedules are still in flux and in many cases, rules about screen time have been relaxed as a matter of survival in the struggle to balance parenting and work-from-home responsibilities. And at a time when kids are being forced apart from their friends, apps like FaceTime and group texts are not only being tolerated but encouraged. Social and emotional learning must continue, after all.

At the expense of adding one more worry to parents’ and teachers’ minds, the spike in online socializing carries the potential for a commensurate increase in cyberbullying. Dr. Sameer Hinduja, co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center and a professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida Atlantic University, spoke of the looming challenge in a blog post.  

“Some of it will be mild, and some of it will be severe,” Hunduja said. “Some of it will be what they’re used to and won’t bother them, and some of it will be brand new—and a jarring, wounding experience. This may be especially true for those not used to learning and interacting in this way (and we are seeing how socio-economic inequities are being magnified because of the coronavirus).”

The FBI issued an alert on March 23, advising educators and caregivers to be vigilant for signs of online sexual exploitation and predatory behavior at a time when kids are particularly vulnerable. This view was echoed by Purdue University Polytechnic Institute Associate Professor Kathryn Seigfried-Spellar, an expert in cyberdeviance, who cautioned it may not be easy to detect the problems.

“Kids are usually not forthcoming with issues of cyberbullying because they’re afraid of losing their technology,” she said. “Some teens would rather be cyberbullied than have their Facebook page or Instagram account shut down.”

The threat of cyberbullying appears especially acute for students of Asian backgrounds: Authorities have reported numerous incidents of harassment and even violence directed toward Asian Americans, tied to the virus’ likely origin in China. Online, Asians are being scapegoated as the cause of the pandemic, mocked as belonging to cultures that eat bats and vermin, and even taunted by those who refer to COVID-19 in terms such as “the Chinese virus.” Some prominent Asian Americans have responded by sharing their stories on social media using the hashtag #WashtheHate.

A consortium of Asian American and Pacific Islander advocacy organizations last week launched Stop AAPI Hate, an online tool where victims or those who have witnessed anti-Asian violence, bullying or harassment can anonymously report incidents. The organizations plan to use the data to develop education and media campaigns, provide resources for impacted individuals, and advocate for policies and programs dedicated to curtailing racial profiling.

“We are currently providing support to a child who had to go to the emergency room after he was assaulted and accused by bullies of having the coronavirus, and so that tells us we may need to work with schools to address shunning and school bullying but we need to know how widespread it is,” said Manjusha Kulkarni, executive director of the Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council, one of the groups that developed the reporting tool.

Anonymous reporting is a proven solution for dealing with cyberbullying, abuse and harassment issues in real time. STOPit’s easy-to-use app can serve as a critical avenue of information between students and school administrators at a time when young people are uniquely vulnerable. Tips submitted through STOPit will enable teachers to monitor, investigate, and take action against bad behavior in their virtual classrooms. 

Administrators can also use the app’s broadcast feature to share important resources with students that educate them on the threats and how to deal with them. STOPit’s own professionals can monitor the account during off hours to ensure that urgent reports are dealt with quickly.

Contact STOPit today to learn more about how anonymous reporting can help protect your student’s well-being throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

Curious why over 5,000 organizations worldwide are using STOPit’s anonymous reporting software and 24/7/365 monitoring services?

The Cost of NOT Having a Comprehensive Safety Plan for Your School

As we come together as a nation and respond to the current COVID-19 pandemic, STOPit is working closely with our K-12 and higher education partners to help them leverage their STOPit tools to best serve students and staff. 

And even though classrooms are empty as students are learning from home during the national effort to flatten the curve, school administrators are as busy as ever, continuing with all the preparation for the 2020-2021 school year. This includes reviewing options to update their school’s comprehensive safety plan, because when it comes to budgeting for school safety, we know the “ABCs” are not as easy as 123.

The School Superintendents Association advises school districts to address three key areas to ensure their students and staff are properly protected – what it terms the ABCs of School Safety. It’s a simple and general list, but one that covers a broad swath of ground that would be daunting for anyone making financial decisions for their district. The ABCs are:

  • Awareness: Making sure everyone, including school staff and community members, are on the same page when it comes to safety. This requires the development and frequent refresh of safety plans, and engaging all stakeholders to make certain they are well acquainted with them in case of an emergency.
  • Balance: Avoiding a reliance on any one strategy or a narrow set of strategies. For example, schools should take care not to direct so much of their investment toward security infrastructure that they have no funding left for human connection initiatives like mental health services.
  • Control: Limiting access to the classroom only to those who belong there. Schools can control entry to school grounds with equipment purchases, security guard hires, tight visitor policies and other measures.

As school boards across the country gear up to craft spending plans for the 2020-21 fiscal year, they face a series of decisions and trade-offs as they try to cover those ABCs. They must stretch a limited pool of funding to cover every reasonable safety scenario that can be imagined, along with those that carry astronomically low odds. In the age of rising mental health and school safety problems, the cost of not having a plan and the resources in place to cover it all is too high not to pay.

What’s In Your Plan?

District leaders need to evaluate their schools’ unique hardware and building security needs, which carry different dimensions in rural, suburban and inner-city settings. At a time when climate change is causing more intense storms, chronic flooding and temperature extremes, schools need to have the proper equipment, training and plans in place to handle natural emergencies.

Schools need to ensure that adequate mental health programs are in place to help children in times of need, potentially staving off tragedies before they happen. And last, but not least, they need to have resources in place to deal quickly and decisively with threats and toxic behaviors.

A Washington Post investigative team surveyed administrators from 34 schools that suffered shooting incidents, including Sandy Hook Elementary, to find out what they learned from the experiences. According to the article, “When asked what, if anything, could have prevented the shootings at their schools, nearly half replied that there was nothing they could have done. Several, however, emphasized the critical importance of their staffs developing deep, trusting relationships with students, who often hear about threats before teachers do.”

Many schools have had success opening the lines of communication between students and faculty with the aid of anonymous reporting systems. Affordable, full service mobile platforms like STOPit Solutions, encourage students who might fear reprisal or feel anxiety about getting involved to share information that ultimately makes their classmates safe. STOPit saw the highest volume of reports filed in its history in the days following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, as students came forward with information they felt just might thwart a tragedy in their own schools.

STOPit can be customized to meet every school district’s needs, with options available for 24/7 emergency monitoring to ensure that problems are routed immediately to those who can help, no matter when they occur. Contact STOPit today to learn more about the role anonymous reporting can play in your school’s safety plan while remaining within your budget.



Curious why over 5,000 organizations worldwide are using STOPit’s anonymous reporting software and 24/7/365 monitoring services?

Improve Employee Retention Using 2020 Vision: Care Principle Helps Your Business Keep The Best Of The Best

Anne was a smart, creative, enthusiastic employee, and her supervisor saw her as a key part of the company’s future. Hearing that made her feel gratified and appreciated — but apparently not everyone felt the same.

Whether out of jealousy, a feeling of being overlooked, or both, a female co-worker who’d been there longer began undermining her with a whispering campaign. A few of Anne’s colleagues let her know that the woman was spreading rumors around the office that she and the married supervisor were romantically involved, and that was the reason she was receiving so much positive attention.

Angry and embarrassed, Anne told the story to her supervisor, expecting him to make the situation right. Instead, he told her he didn’t believe the co-worker would ever do such a thing, and told her to ignore it.

“He was trying to avoid a conflict, but I felt hurt that he didn’t look out for me,” she said. “I couldn’t come in every day and smile to this person’s face and pretend like nothing ever happened.”

She started looking for a new job that night. A month later, she was gone.

In an economy with 3% unemployment and ample opportunities for mobility, it is not enough to simply provide competitive pay and benefits. People want to work in a place where they feel they belong. They want to work for people who care.

Human Resource Executive recently wrote about this care principle and its importance for retaining and attracting top talent. The article centered on a white paper called “The Science of Care” by the Limeade Institute, which surveyed Americans about their workplace experiences. The study found that when employees felt cared for:

  • 60% planned to stay at their company for three plus years (as opposed to only 7% of those who didn’t feel cared for)
  • 90% said they’re likely to recommend their organization as a great place to work (vs. 9% of those who didn’t feel cared for)
  • 94% said they feel personally engaged in their work (vs. 43% of those who didn’t feel cared for)
  • 56% said they didn’t feel burned out (vs. 16% of those who didn’t feel cared for)

“The modern workplace demands an intentional shift from one that prioritizes the needs of employers to one that prioritizes the needs of employees,” said Dr. Laura Hamill, one of the white paper’s authors. “In order to do so, companies must take a ‘whole-person’ approach to managing the employee experience – from well-being to diversity and inclusion to employee engagement and other programs that make employees feel cared for both as organizational members and humans.”

In Anne’s case, the manager prioritized his desire to avoid an unpleasant conversation over the emotional needs of a model employee who was the victim of harassment. As a result, the company lost one of its most productive workers. (STOPit Solutions #1 in HR Technologist article, 6 Effective Tools for Reporting Harassment in the Workplace 2020)

Perhaps the problem could have been addressed if there were a channel in place for Anne or one of her co-workers to anonymously report the situation to upper management or a human resources officer. Then, the stories could have been investigated and independently corroborated, with appropriate disciplinary measures taken by someone who was not personally connected to the situation.

Workplaces can show their talent they care about them by instituting an anonymous reporting system like STOPit. The easy-to-use app offers a stress-free way for employees to speak up and communicate information they may not be comfortable approaching their supervisors with, from misbehavior in the office to an ideas for how a routine office task can be handled more efficiently.

STOPit can be set up and customized for your workplace in a matter of hours. Contact STOPit today to learn more about how anonymous reporting can help you protect your work culture and retain top talent.



Curious why over 5,000 organizations worldwide are using STOPit’s anonymous reporting software and 24/7/365 monitoring services?

Conversations With STOPit Solutions: Interview with Maurine Molak of David’s Legacy Foundation

“You’re a tattle tail.”

The term brings back memories from childhood. Arguments with friends. Maybe siblings. But do you remember all of the times you were called a tattle tail when you weren’t actually being one? Sometimes, speaking up about inappropriate things going on is the unpopular vote amongst your peers; however, that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t still be said. In fact, quite the opposite. 

Empowering others to speak up is something that today’s guest devotes much of her time and energy to. In our most recent podcast, we are joined by Maurine Molak, the founder of David’s Legacy Foundation. David’s Legacy Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to ending cyber-assisted bullying, as well as other forms of bullying.

During our interview, Maurine speaks about how David’s Legacy Foundation is affecting education, legislation, and legal action as well as what it means to be a “Upstander.”

Listen above and be sure to email us if you or someone you know would like to be featured on our podcast.

For more information on David’s Legacy Foundation, please visit: www.davidslegacy.org
www.facebook.com/davidslegacyfoundation/
twitter.com/Davids_Legacy

All Aboard: Why HR Managers Should Be Using the Momentum of #MeToo to Build Better Corporate Culture and Realize Big Savings

Two years since the launch of the #MeToo movement, awareness about the prevalance of sexual harassment — and its impact — has never been higher. We’ve witnessed massive women’s marches in the nation’s cities (and around the world), signaling an end to the ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ history of silence and shame about sexual harassment incidents. As more and more people feel safe and supported to speak up, we’ve seen allegations against even the most high-profile figures in politics, Hollywood and every other corner of American life, encouraging even more conversation and frank talk about the effects of harassment on our emotional and mental health — and in our careers. 

More and more, companies that take pride in delivering superior goods and services are the same ones being recognized as ‘best-places-to-work’, creating the positive work culture that attracts, supports and retains the best employees. For these pace-setters, positive work culture isn’t simply a branding strategy — it’s a moral imperative that drives every major business decision. These are the companies that are taking a proactive approach to the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace, enacting zero tolerance policies for misconduct, more thorough response plans to handle complaints, and mandatory training and education programs for employees.

With HR professionals and managers taking all of these great steps, which of the statements below would you guess is true of sexual and sex-based harassment in today’s workplace?

  1. A)     Incidents are on the wane
  2. B)     Allegations have reached record levels

Statistics say the answer is B, and yet both may be true. An analysis of a decade’s worth of data by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found that the number of charges filed with the agency alleging sex-based harassment reached the 13,000 mark for the first time in 2018. At the same time, overall charges related to discrimination were down. The rise in charges doesn’t appear to be a result of people acting worse than ever, but of people standing up for themselves more confidently than ever.

Download the infographic to learn how to empower your employees post #MeToo.

Reacting to the data in The Washington Post, EEOC Chair Victoria Lipnic credited the higher numbers to the #MeToo movement.

“Quite honestly, as we’ve been putting this all together over the last week, I wasn’t sure what the numbers were going to show,” she said. “I suspected there was an increase, but I think it absolutely reflects a greater willingness to report it and speak up about it.”

Meanwhile, the monetary benefits paid out to victims in EEOC cases reached a record $56.6 million in 2018. It was a 22% increase from the prior year and the first time the number ever eclipsed the $50 million mark.

The Price to Pay

The math is clear: A rise in employees standing up to harassment plus ballooning litigation costs equals trouble no business can afford. The costs of these issues in the workplace – from settlements, to reputational damage, to employee recruiting – are a threat even for thriving businesses. Those that spend time and money on preventative measures are making a worthy investment.

Consider the following costs, according to data from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research and the Center for Hospitality Research:

Reputational: There are no secrets in the digital age. Thanks to job rating sites and old-fashioned word of mouth in the industry, the news that your office is not a respectful place to work will travel and chase away top young talent. The direct and indirect costs of a poor record on harassment has been tabbed at $180,000 per year for a business that grosses $1 million annually.

Legal: Payouts and legal costs for sexual harassment average between $75,000 and $125,000 per lawsuit.

Turnover: The cost of replacing an employee who leaves because of harassment is nearly $6,000. Among the expenses included in that figure are over $3,000 in lost productivity with the position empty; $1,170 for time and resources spent in recruiting replacements; and over $800 for orientation and training.

Productivity: The price of an employee not leaving can be steep too. Those who stick out the abuse will see their work suffer from the stress and depression, running an estimated $22,500 per employee in lost productivity.

Anonymous Reporting

Even with the upswing in upstanders, many victims will always be hesitant to come forward. A recent study found that nearly three-quarters of women and 81% of men who are sexually harassed don’t report it.

Anonymous reporting options open the lines of communication between victims or their concerned colleagues and administrators who are in a position to help. STOPit Solutions’ easy-to-use mobile app allows employees to share information through an interface that looks and feels like a text message conversation and offers total anonymity for those disclosing information. The arrangement gives victims a chance to grow comfortable sharing their stories with administrators, and supplies the employer with a written record of allegations for its investigation.

Whether you set up an email account dedicated to sharing complaints or implement a sophisticated, integrated solution like STOPit, anonymous reporting can eradicate abusive behavior before it takes root and causes more harm. It protects your positive office culture and gives your company a better chance to continue attracting — and retaining — top talent. Contact STOPit today to learn how its tools can ensure sexual harassment won’t cost your business.

How to Boost Morale and Your Company Productivity: Get Employees Out of the Office

Edison said, “Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.” In the office, when it comes to your best and brightest workers, watch out for stagnation and exasperation.

In a Deloitte poll of American workers, 77% reported experiencing burnout at their current job and 91% said having an unmanageable amount of stress or frustration negatively impacts the quality of their work. It was a prevalent feeling during the belt-tightening of the Great Recession, as companies shed workers and placed the burden on their smaller staffs to pick up the slack. As a result, workers solely had time for the essential work required to keep their businesses afloat.

Nowadays, employers can put their staffs in that position at their own peril. A far-improved job market means employees have plenty of other options and won’t hesitate to take advantage of them. This is especially true of young talent. Per the Deloitte survey, nearly half of millennials say they have left a job specifically because they felt burned out, a rate higher than any other age group.

STOPit Solutions partners with industry leaders to help improve and protect a company’s best work culture. Learn more.

According to a Gallup poll of American workers, about 30% typically say they feel “engaged” in their jobs. The data shows a strong correlation between engaged workers – the ones who care most about whether the company thrives or fails — and the availability of professional development opportunities through their jobs.

Do These Things to Keep Your Best Employees:

A common thread between the leading workers in any industry is that they want to be the best. Don’t confine these high achievers to their cubicles. Help them reach the next level by getting them out of the office into environments that teach them something new and get their creative juices flowing. Here are five ways you can do it.

Conferences: The panel talks at trade shows and industry conferences offer a classroom-like experience that workers seldom see once their college days are over. Encourage them to attend these sessions to learn how to stay ahead of the curve in their industries. Conferences are also an outstanding networking opportunity. You may be a part of the best staff in the business, but there’s always something to learn from peers with different perspectives.

Skills Trainings: This is an item companies often treat as an unnecessary perk that they can’t afford to offer. In reality, they can’t afford not to. According to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Learning Report, 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career development. In an age when wildly popular technologies go extinct a year later, it is critical to keep workers at the fore of trends impacting how they do their jobs.

Tabling at Industry Events: There is perhaps no better way to learn about your company and feel more engaged than to talk about it nonstop for a few days. The answers you don’t know will force you to ask your co-workers questions and sharpen the blade for the next time you need to give a presentation or a sales pitch. The conversations you have will reveal invaluable insights on what your customers think about your services.

Work in Other Offices: See how the other half lives. If your company has offices in other places, give your employees opportunities to work in one of them every once in a while. Spending time with their colleagues is great for building company culture and working relationships that can yield greater success in the future.

Social Events: You’ll never break down the barriers between management and staff if they don’t get to know each other. Social events like happy hours or coffee klatches between members of different divisions give workers the chance to learn about each other’s passions and talents. These conversations may inform you that there’s no need to post an ad for external candidates when an opportunity for advancement opens up. There’s nothing quite as reinvigorating for an employee than seeing their work recognized with a promotion.

 

STOPit Solutions is working with industry leaders across the US to help support safe, healthy workplace cultures and encourage positive employee engagement. 

Call us today, and let’s talk about how we can help you meet your goals for building your best workplace culture.

Summer Camps And Using Tech To Enable The Best Experience

It’s Summer Camp Season.

It’s the time of year when kids get fired up for corkscrew water slides, flag football games, and field trips to the aquarium. All the excitement will undoubtedly bring a smile to their faces, but the elaborate bells and whistles are not only what determines whether kids have fun at summer camp or not.

It’s all about the friendships. When children establish a group of friends who make them happy, all of the activities are a blast. They can’t wait to step on the bus in the morning and hate to leave when camp is over.

No zipline in the world is going to excite a child if they are facing a problem with the other campers, though.

Parents hope that their kids will have fun, while also learning integral life skills—how to be more resilient, more kind, and more fulfilled young adults. The best camp experiences offer infinite opportunities for children to build character whether that be through working collaboratively in a team sport or resolving differences with respect and understanding.

The camps that succeed in providing these rich experiences are beloved by kids and parents alike.

Summer Is Even Better When Tech Helps Protect A Camp’s Core Identity

While we all hope for the perfect summer for every child, we know that issues of bullying, depression, and harassment can and do threaten to mar an otherwise great experience. Every camp should have a plan to address these problems and train their staff members to handle them quickly and thoroughly.

Technology can help accomplish those goals by protecting the camp’s identity and strengthening the dialogue between patrons and staff members. Since kids (and let’s face it, adults, too) are inseparable from their mobile devices, apps are a great way to send messages and share information about issues that arise during camp.

If a kid is picking on or using inappropriate language toward another camper, respond by halting the behavior immediately and provide everyone with information about the realities of bullying. Show campers how they can be an upstander in situations like these. STOPit Solutions offers partners a robust social emotional learning library (SEL) with carefully curated, evidence-based content on a spectrum of issues that affect the health and wellbeing of children and young adults from healthy body-image, to bullying, anxiety, cyber-stalking, and depression.

Two-way messaging is also a great way for camp counselors, kids, and administrators to stay in touch during the incident. There are several good apps that facilitate this kind of successful communication. STOPit Solutions is among the growing crop of easy, intuitive, and effective apps for fostering conversations between young people and grown-ups. Its broadcast feature makes it possible to send messages to every camper who has downloaded the app, which can be useful in times when an administrator would like to address an emerging problem or incident.

And what about those anonymous reporting apps we read about? Do camps need one?

Yes. Medium recently reported, as much as 60 percent of bullying in camps goes unreported. The need is real.

An anonymous reporting option is an effective way to deter problems before they take root. It gives kids a chance to help when they spot a friend in trouble, without the fear of retaliation or being labeled a “tattletale.” Anonymous reporting also gives camp administrators the ability to report incidents that counselors might miss.

When kids reach out through STOPit, administrators can respond with follow-up questions and let the dialogue flow, just like young people do with their friends in a thread of texts.

Leave with more than just fond memories

Besides fond memories of bonfires and canoe rides, thirty years from now camp directors want their kids-turned-parents, aunts, and uncles to be able to remember more than the perfectly toasted marshmallows as why they loved their summer camp experiences. With any luck, the real-life lessons learned at camp in the midst of making those memories will be the reason parents send their own kids.

Call STOPit Solutions today to find out how anonymous reporting can help build those kinds of family traditions and make every child’s memory of camp a happy one.

For more information about bullying prevention in summer camps, visit this resource page from the American Camp Association.

Top 3 Ways to Ensure a Positive Work Culture

“I love my job.” It’s something everyone wishes they could say, yet many truthfully cannot.

What does it take to get someone there? Great compensation certainly helps, but money can’t (entirely) buy that love.

A Deloitte survey of 1,000 American workers and 300 executives found that of those who felt their company had a distinct work culture, 84% said they were happy at work and 86% felt valued by their company. A positive work culture fuels a happy, productive staff and vice versa.

Job candidates today want to work in places with a great culture and have the means to find them. There is no shortage of websites that provide a platform for employees to share insights on what it’s really like behind closed doors. If the staff is miserable, word will get out.

A positive work culture is essential to attracting and retaining the best talent, and ultimately maintaining a viable business. Here are a handful of actions your company can take to build a thriving office culture:

Inspire

Each year, Indeed.com analyzes all of its job reviews for Fortune 500 companies and tabulates a ranking of the best places to work. It’s no coincidence that the top 10 consists of many of the same companies every time.

When you skim the summaries of places like Facebook, Apple, Google, Disney, and Nike, you’ll find a common thread–all have a top-down commitment to being the absolute best in their space. Their work cultures revolve around innovation and excellence, and employees who enjoy being innovative and excellent.

This should be the goal of any business, large or small. If you run a local carpet installation business, you want a staff that aims to be the best in your field. The crew should take pride in being told what a difference they’ve made; you can encourage them to take before/after shots of every job to remind them of their impact. They should also care if they get called back to a job site to fix a section that turned out shabby.

INTO ACTION: If your company doesn’t have a mission statement, take the time to write one that articulates a positive vision for your work. Keep it simple and make sure everyone understands what’s expected of them.

Understand

Another interesting finding in the Deloitte study was a gap in perception between executives and employees when it comes to work culture. On many counts, leadership held the belief that things were going great when the rank-and-file had a less rosy view of their daily experience.

It’s a common symptom of what ails the hierarchical corporate chain-of-command. Ordinary workers are discouraged-and sometimes even prohibited-from approaching top brass, so they only know what they’re told by their department heads.

When Deloitte asked whether senior leadership regularly communicates the company’s core values and beliefs, the executives were 16% more inclined to say yes than their employees. In addition, 65% of executives felt leadership regularly speaks about the company’s culture, vs. 51% of employees; 12% more executives than employees were inclined to say they could clearly explain their company’s culture to others.

It’s a classic case of disconnect between the C-suite and the cubicles. A great work culture depends on finding ways to break down the barriers between upper management and staff. You’ll never understand each other if you never talk to each other.

INTO ACTION: Senior leadership can cut out the middle managers and open the lines of communication directly to staff by holding monthly coffee chats. Rotate the departments each time so the managers can meet more people and get a broader lay of the land.

Respect

Again, while nothing quite says “I love you” like a substantial raise, there are other ways to foster a company culture that values its employees. You can celebrate individuals’ successes as a team. You can offer a path for advancement for those who are making the company better.

Perhaps most of all, you can lay down an unbreakable demand that everyone treat their co-workers with respect and help to inspire a speak up culture (our real-time employee engagement app can help!). No tolerance exists for those who would bully or harass co-workers who they view as different or lesser than themselves. In the era of #MeToo, that kind of toxicity prompts the death of a company’s positive office culture and places it on the path to financial peril.

If you want your workers to love their job, make this part easy for them. Take steps every day to inspire, understand, and respect them.

INTO ACTION: Feature an employee each week or month using the company’s social media, intranet, or other communications platforms. Consider a fun format, like a written or video Q&A, that gives readers a sense of the subjects’ work and who they are as people.

Vacation Ready? Here’s Your STOPit Summer Checklist!

Now that summer is here, it’s time to make sure that your STOPit Solutions system is ready for when you or your team will be on vacation. Here is a quick checklist for you to use before you hit the beach and enjoy some sunshine:

1. Close out completed incidents

Before you leave for vacation, close out any completed incidents. Think of it as cleaning out your “inbox” so that when you get back from time off you can start fresh.

2. Pull your end of year reports

Before you head out the door for the beach, make sure to pull some end of year statistics with reports. These will help you analyze any trends in your organization that you may want to work on when you’re back. Not sure how to easily export? Contact us.

3. Turn your Vacation Scheduler on or off

If you don’t have 24/7 monitoring set up (we can help you do this!), you may want to take a look at your vacation scheduler to let your students know if you will be away.

4. Customize your home screen message for the summertime

One of our most popular features is the ability to customize your home screen on the STOPit App. There is no limit to how many times you can do this so we urge you to get creative. Here are some ideas: 

  • “Have a Safe Summer!”
  • “Summer is here! We still want to hear from you!”
  • “Enjoy the sunshine and stay in touch with us!”

Have you listened to our podcast yet? Check it out here!

Interested in being a guest? Send an email to marketing@stopitsolutions.com.

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