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.

Is Your Phone Summer Ready? It’s Time to Start Summer Hours for Your Mobile Device!

For millions of American workers, Memorial Day weekend not only ushered in the unofficial start of summer, but the official start of summer hours. According to the Washington Post, around 40 percent of American companies now offer some version of the summer Friday perk to keep power charges low and recharge workers’ mental batteries.

So how about setting summer hours for our mobile device use? If you’re like most Americans, you can use it.

A mounting body of research shows cell phone addiction is a pervasive problem that’s deteriorating our health in numerous ways – anxiety, depression, loss of sleep, even wrist and hand pains. We know we’re on them too much, yet we do it anyway.

Dr. Jenna Meyerberg, PhD, LPC, an authority on youth social and emotional development, has written extensively about how living in an age of instant communication and nearly unlimited access to information is having a significant, negative impact on people. STOPit Solutions recently had an opportunity to sit with Dr. Meyerberg and talk about electronics addiction on the STOPit Solutions Podcast. In addition to providing helpful suggestions for encouraging everyone to unplug and being more present in real life (aka “IRL”), she shares  evidence-based research proving that people who are more disciplined in their online habits have higher self-esteem and confidence than their tech-obsessed peers.

These statistics and trends may feel oppressive, but the fact is that we DO have control over our own behavior and there’s no better time for a break than now. The beaches are open, the sun is out until 8:30 at night, and the warm breeze smells like flowers, the neighbor’s barbecue and freshly cut grass. Go out and enjoy it! Read on for a few simple ways we can institute summer hours for our phones and tablets.

 

Make a Plan and Apply It

A good way to start is to diagnose the ailment and set your cure. Both Apple and Google now have apps (Screen Time and Digital Wellbeing, respectively) that can tell you how much time you’re spending on your devices, with breakdowns by specific apps and categories.

Those who haven’t checked their stats before may be in for a shock. Studies have suggested that Americans check their phones once every 12 minutes – or roughly 80 times per day – and spend about four hours on them daily. Thankfully, Screen Time and Digital Wellbeing can be programmed to enforce time limits for your apps and lock them if you’ve crossed the line.

Take a look at your averages, come up with realistic goals for curbing your time and use these apps to hold you to them. Can you cut your app use by an hour per day? Two? Take the challenge!

No-Go Times

The dinner table used to be a family’s impenetrable bubble from the world. Kids told mom and dad what they learned in school and there were no interruptions allowed from the TV or ringing phones. Now everyone at the table is glued to Twitter and video games while they chew.

We can all make a meaningful dent in our gadget use by declaring them off-limits at times when good manners dictate they should be off anyway. Set a rule that they’re not allowed in the same room as the dinner table. Apply the same standards to times that are meant to be about family and friends – summer vacation trips, graduation parties, the annual golf outing. You can never get those moments back.

And if you’re out for a meal with friends, encourage everyone to pile them in the center of the table with the sound off. First person to give in picks up the check!

Be a Cellular Role Model

If you want to make summer hours stick with your kids, do as you say and say as you do. Like just about anything with parenting, it’s easy to dictate a bunch of rules and quite another thing to enforce them. If you lecture your kids about a bad behavior and then model it in front of them, they won’t take the lesson seriously or follow it.

If you lay down a “no Kindle before summer camp” rule, don’t let them see you glued to Facebook over your morning coffee. Show them it can be done.

Think about ways you can make summer hours a family affair. If everyone in your house is a part of the challenge, you can hold each other accountable and set up fun prizes for those who reach their goals.

And who knows — once summer hours are over and schools are back in session, maybe some of these healthy, new habits will stick. To paraphrase an old saying, “An app less per day keeps the doctor away.”

Into Action

Download our tip sheet and hang it on the refrigerator and home and work — or pass it along to a friend who you can recruit to take the challenge with you.

For extra satisfaction, write down what you did during the hour (or two) you reclaimed each day. Did you get an extra hour of sleep? Take the time to cook your favorite meal? Walk the dog on a new trail or have that family movie night you keep talking about? Let’s work together to live healthier, happier lives — right now! 

Legislative Update: States Move to Give Employees More Resources to Fight Workplace Harassment and Bullying

The first few months of 2019 have been a busy time for state lawmakers working to combat sexual harassment and bullying in the workplace. Below is a roundup of recent action in state capitals:

CALIFORNIA: All employers with five or more workers must now provide at least two hours of sexual harassment training to supervisors and one hour to non-supervisor employees. Previously, the mandate only applied to employers of 50 or more. The amendment to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act was approved by the governor in the fall and took effect on New Year’s Day.

In other news, the State Senate unanimously passed a bill in April that would make it illegal to enforce dress codes or grooming policies that prohibit hairstyles historically identified with minorities, such as braids, afros and locks. The Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural hair (CROWN) Act seeks to challenge the assumption that white styles of dress and appearance should be the template of “professionalism” while black traits are inferior. “There are still far too many cases of black employees or applicants denied promotion or employment, even terminated, because of the way they choose to wear their hair,” bill sponsor, Holly Mitchell, said on the Senate floor.

COLORADO: A bill introduced in the State Senate would create a new Office of Legislative Workplace Relations to handle sexual harassment complaints against lawmakers. The measure was crafted in the wake of a recent report that found over one-quarter of legislative workers – including elected officials, staff, lobbyists, aides and interns – have been a victim of or witnessed sexual harassment in the workplace. Of those, 87% declined to report the matter, with the most commonly cited reason being a fear of using the reporting process. Under current law, victims must file complaints against Senate and Assembly members with the leaders of their chambers, who then decide what punishment, if any, is warranted.

MINNESOTA: The House of Representatives passed a bill in March that would strike the state’s current definition of sexual harassment as a situation where the offender’s behavior is “severe of pervasive.” Proponents for the change contend that the language made it too difficult to sue for abuse that clearly crosses the line. The new definition would cover “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, sexually motivated physical contact or other verbal or physical conduct or communication of a sexual nature” when: a) submission to that conduct is made a condition of employment or compensation; b) submission to or rejection of that conduct is used as a factor in decisions affecting that individual’s employment or compensation; or c) that conduct creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment. The bill is now before the Senate.

NEW YORK: New York City has launched a new unit within its Commission on Human Rights to investigate an increasing number of gender-based and sexual harassment complaints in the workplace. The aim of the Gender-Based Anti-Harassment Unit is to expedite high priority cases, reduce retaliation against victims for reporting harassment, and identify widespread problems within workplaces. The Commission also announced the addition of gender identity definitions in its legal guidance regarding discrimination on the basis of gender expression, with updated terms such as transgender and intersex.

RHODE ISLAND: A pair of bills targeting workplace harassment were passed in the State Senate in April and now head to the House of Representatives for consideration. The Healthy Workplace Act of 2019 (2019-S 0090) would make it easier for workers to take legal action against employers and co-workers for bullying, harassment and other abusive behavior that may not fall into other categories that are already protected such as race, sex or sexual orientation. The legislation aims to provide legal relief for employees who have been harmed psychologically, physically or economically by deliberate exposure to abusive work environments. It would also provide legal incentives for employers to prevent and respond to abusive mistreatment of employees at work.

In the same week, the Senate approved a bill (2019-S 0330) that would require organizations with four or more employees to conduct sexual harassment training, rather than the current 50 employee threshold. New employees would need to receive the training within one month of hire.

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