Show, Don’t Tell: Businesses Need to Use Every Tool Available to Promote and Protect Diversity & Inclusion in the Workplace

Sweeping, societal change doesn’t happen quietly. The murder of George Floyd gave rise to scenes on America’s streets that seemed unthinkable a few months ago – entire police departments taking a knee in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement; multicultural demonstrations filling public squares in all 50 states during a lethal pandemic.

But the backlash has been aggressive and often cruel. It has welled up to the surface in the form of police brutality, incendiary politics and hateful behavior on social media.

It’s everyone’s problem.

American workplaces will face an enormous challenge in a few weeks when students go back to school and their parents head back to their offices for the first time in six months. It will be the first time many have had to talk about hot button subjects like the protests, the renaming of the Redskins, the toppling of Confederate statues, and all of the ways our world has transformed in a matter of weeks. The people engaging in these conversations will already be stressed to the limit by the pandemic and charged by all the presidential election rhetoric.

At a time like this, empowering every employee to effectively fight against racism and hostile behavior could hardly be more important. An ignorant remark could spark an argument that escalates out of control and destroys your office chemistry. Overheard banter between a few white employees could make a person of color on the team feel upset to the point of quitting.

Technology empowers diversity and inclusion initiatives 

Over the last couple of years, diversity and inclusion technologies (D&I) have shown growing promise for leveling the playing field for minorities in the corporate world. A study by RedThread Research and Mercer found that the largest percentage of D&I technology solutions today are focused on talent acquisition and retention, including systems that mute information on resumes that might unconsciously trigger bias in the reviewer; analytics programs that can reveal trends like pay gaps among various groups; and systems that foster development/advancement opportunities for and greater retention of minority employees.

Amazon and IBM are trying to improve the situation by taking technologies off the market that could potentially foster bias and discrimination. Within days of Mr. Floyd’s death, both tech giants announced they would no longer sell their controversial facial recognition programs to law enforcement agencies. The systems have been found to match white faces with almost perfect accuracy but perform significantly worse with darker faces, creating false matches that could lead to arrests or worse.

For businesses to thrive, this work is non-negotiable:  eliminate racism now.

When it comes to racial equality, the time for empty promises and sweeping problems under the rug is over. A company that hopes to thrive in the 21st century needs to be powered by a diverse staff whose members feel they are welcome and have zero doubt that they can grow within the organization. Technology can be part of the solution.

Tools like STOPit Solutions are being adopted by companies in industries across the United States to help combat racism, harassment and exclusion. STOPit’s intuitive user interface makes it safe and easy for employees to protect themselves and their co-workers when reporting threats and harmful incidents, and just as easy for workplace administrators to respond in real-time to de-escalate and resolve issues. The built-in incident management and reporting functions make the tool an attractive option for HR teams of all sizes. 

Contact STOPit today to learn how our solution can help enable and empower your company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Additional resources:

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

How to Develop a Diversity and Inclusion Initiative, by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM)

Independence Day: A Time to Reflect on Just How Much We Need Each Other.

Before placing his iconic signature on the Declaration of Independence in 1776, John Hancock turned to his fellow Continental Congress delegates and remarked, “There must be no pulling different ways. We must all hang together.”

“Yes, we must, indeed, all hang together,” Benjamin Franklin replied. “Or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

One of history’s great wits nested a profound point in his gallows humor: It takes unity and common purpose to stand up to a powerful aggressor. It’s as true of fighting the mighty British Army as it is a clique of cyberbullies, bigotry in the office, or sexual harassment by a superior at work.

As we celebrate our nation’s birth this weekend, let’s also consider how we can encourage those in our schools, workplaces and communities to “hang together” with victims of injustice and maltreatment. Sometimes, the weight of confronting their problems is too much to bear on their own.

“Look at the traditional motto of the United States, ‘E pluribus unum – Latin for ‘out of many, one’ — and how relevant its meaning is for us during these trying times,” said Melissa Straub, founder of High Impact Youth Training Solutions, which provides educational training and guidance on issues directly affecting youth, schools, and communities. “One person can truly make an impact and encourage, if not implement, positive change or momentum. One act of kindness, courage, empathy and standing up can change a person’s situation and perception in that moment.”

Anonymous reporting can be a powerful agent for such change. There are any number of reasons why a witness to bullying or harassment won’t stand up for the victim on the spot. Fear of retaliation, of being labeled a snitch, of getting involved in a dispute between strangers, these can all be potent deterrents. That doesn’t mean the witness doesn’t want to help. STOPit offers them a way to pass on important information to trusted authorities and make the situation better – without worrisome barriers.

“We all need to be part of the change, part of the solution and be accountable to each other’s wellbeing,” Straub said. “Reporting is a way to be heard, a voice not to fall on deaf ears, and has proven to make a difference.”

Such was the case when a student used STOPit to let her school know she was worried about a friend who was having problems at home, was cutting herself and sharing suicidal thoughts. The school received the report and informed law enforcement, who performed a health check on the student. It was determined that she needed help and she immediately began receiving counseling.

Of course, the mix of mental health issues combined with access to weapons has been a formula for repeated tragedy in the U.S. Many districts have adopted STOPit as an extra safety layer in their strategies to prevent school shootings. It may have already saved lives.

Recently a student riding the bus to school spotted a weapon in another student’s backpack. The alert rider submitted a report which was fielded by STOPit’s 24/7 Incident Monitoring Service professionals, who rapidly notified the district. School officials met the bus as it pulled in, escorted the student off and seized the weapon before it ever entered the school.

Police agencies are also using STOPit as means to enlist the eyes and ears of upstanders in their communities. Anonymous tips delivered with photo and video evidence have solved crimes in places like Camden, New Jersey – a city which gained national recognition during the George Floyd protests for improving relations between its police and citizenry to reduce crime.

“We’re going to try anything to reach out to the community to open those channels of communication,” Camden County Police Community Commander Lt. Zsakhiem James told FOX 29 about STOPit.

This Independence Day, let’s all take a moment to think about our interdependence. By standing up for each other, we not only help another person, we also protect and promote our own liberty and freedoms – doing our part to build a safer, more inclusive community for all.

Contact STOPit Solutions today to learn how anonymous reporting can encourage upstanders in your community, workplace or school.

Open for Business: What it Means to be Safe at Your Workplace During the Year of the Pandemic

Ready or not, here we come. With the first virtual school year and first corporate quarter of universal work-from-home in history apparently drawing to a close, American workplaces have begun making the methodical decisions and investments necessary to reopen.

A survey of U.S. employers by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that about half expect to bring their staffs back by the end of July. However, (most of) the offices and workspaces employees return to are going to look and feel a lot different than they did during the pre-pandemic era. Among the measures companies are taking to protect their workers:

  • A large majority will enforce new social distancing policies, including limits on the number of people in common areas (83%), spacing work stations further apart (79%) and adding partitions between workers and/or customers (69%).
  • Organizations will reduce the numbers of people on-site at any given time through limits on workers (81%), staggered breaks and shift start/stop times (75%) and limits on customers (78%).
  • Enhanced cleaning procedures will be the norm and nearly 9 in 10 will require the use of hand sanitizer and/or hand-washing before entering certain locations.
  • 86% will require the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks and gloves, and 80% of those employers will provide and pay for it.

But keeping workers physically safe is only half of the challenge. Equally important will be making workers feel safe. Resources from SHRM like its COVID-19 Back-to-Work checklist and tech tools like STOPit Solutions’ anonymous reporting and communications app are playing important roles in the transition back to a more ‘normal’ work experience. 

Even with the most thoughtful plan and effective procedures, however, it won’t be easy as anxiety levels remain high. A majority of Americans believe a second wave of COVID-19 is around the corner and that the re-opening process is moving too fast. At the same time, resistance to social distancing measures has solidified among those who believe the risk of COVID-19 has been overblown.

Many a clip has gone viral on social media showing arguments like this one between a Costco employee and a customer who refused to wear a mask on the grounds that he “woke up in a free country.” The customer filmed the employee, who held his ground and said into the camera, “Hi everyone. I work for Costco and I’m asking this member to put on a mask because that is our company policy.”

Costco President and CEO Craig Jelinek backed the employee, stating, “We know some members may find [the requirement to wear a face covering] inconvenient or objectionable, but under the circumstances we believe the added safety is worth any inconvenience. This is not simply a matter of personal choice; a face covering protects not just the wearer, but others too.” In fact, a mounting body of evidence has shown that the use of face masks has been highly effective in slowing transmission of the disease.

Costco’s response offers a critical lesson for managers who will soon lead their staffs into uncharted waters. There is no 100% perfect way to re-open – but once you’ve settled on your ground rules, everyone needs to be held accountable for following them – no exceptions. This is especially important as senior management considers the implications of not having an updated policy on health and safety standards. Businesses who reopen without the right tools and accommodations may run the risk of increased exposure to liability claims from employees who fall ill from COVID-19.

Clear, evidence-based actions boost morale and protect Health (and productivity!)

This is a fluid time, when decision-makers in government and industry are doing their best to combat a disease in an environment of rapidly evolving understanding and an avalanche of mis- and even dis-information. Some workers literally fear for their lives. They are counting on management to take the danger seriously and embrace any resource available to protect them.

Employees are not interested in getting caught up in a culture war debate about masks or keeping 6 feet apart. They just want to survive and keep their families safe. If employees don’t feel management is 100% in their corner on the issue, staff retention is bound to suffer. No matter how poor the job market, people will not endure the risk to their health, word will travel about their poor perception of your company culture, and possibly negatively influence your ability to recruit top candidates.

STOPit can play an important role in maintaining staff morale in these crucial months to come. As time goes on, some employees will undoubtedly begin testing their companies’ new safety policies and even bullying or harassing co workers who feel and behave very differently regarding safety protocols. The STOPit app could be used to empower employees who feel threatened or are being ridiculed to safety, anonymously alert management – either for themselves or for fellow co-workers – letting them know about safety violations and/or incidents of bullying and intimidation. Because the STOPit app protects anonymity, employees can ask for help and be spared the need to engage in uncomfortable confrontations that may even pose a threat to their health.

STOPit’s integrated messaging function and incident management system creates an intuitive, professional virtual ‘safe space’ where employers can respond to requests for help and better maintain morale and trust essential to a healthy corporate culture, and especially important during a time of change and uncertainty.

Contact STOPit Solutions today to learn more about how its technology platform and services can help ease your staff’s transition back to the workplace.

Helpful resources

CDC’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 page

National Alliance on Mental Illness COVID-19 Resource and Information Guide

The National League of Cities COVID-19 Pandemic Response Website

SHRM’s (Society for Human Resource Management) COVID-19 Back-to-Work Checklist

Masked-Up and Burned-Out: Collateral Damage From The Pandemic Is Taking Its Toll On American Workers

It’s two months into the stay-at-home orders that most states in the US have decreed for non-essential workers and roughly half of Americans are working from home. Amidst all the uncertainty engendered by this pandemic, one thing is for sure – this experience has forever dispelled the notion of telecommuting as something “easier” or “more relaxed” than being in the office.

The physical and mental barriers that once separated our home lives from our work lives have been demolished. When 5 p.m. rolled around in early March, you may have been on the hook to pick up a child from practice or get on a train, so hovering around the office a while longer wasn’t an option. Now the kids live in your office and there’s nowhere to go, so you keep typing away … til 5:27 … 5:52 … 6:23 …

As Bloomberg recently noted, “People have turned their living spaces into makeshift offices, making it nearly impossible to disconnect.” The article profiled John Foster, who like many of us, converted an extra room into a workspace but found it to be a constant reminder of his job while he was off the clock. “’You walk by 20 times a day,’ he said. ‘Every time you pass there, you’re not escaping work.’”

Even by early April, an Eagle Consulting poll of Americans found that 45% were feeling work burnout and 25% directly blamed COVID-19 for it. Among the additional findings:

  •  36% said their organizations were doing nothing to help them deal with burnout
  •  The changes in their lives brought on by COVID-19 made 50% feel less connected to their colleagues and 45% feel less productive
  •  A separate poll conducted by the firm found that 55% feared for their job security due to the coronavirus

“Culture is what holds an organization together, so it’s never been more critical to lean hard into culture during these tough times; to build a sense of community and support among the workforce,” said Melissa Jezior, president and chief executive officer of Eagle Hill Consulting. “If employers can help fill the void employees are feeling, that can empower them to overcome the many obstacles on the road ahead.”

Want To Retain Your Best Employees? Vacation, Vacation, Vacation.

One way companies can reinforce their positive culture is to encourage employees to take time off. Despite the clear need, people are not using their vacation days. Doubtless, some are feeling extra pressure to prove their value at a time when 38 million have filed for unemployment benefits.

This is especially true for workers whose supervisors signal that they don’t trust what they will do when they aren’t under their watchful eye. A word to the wise: Just a few months ago, the job market was so solid that it was hard to find high-quality candidates for open positions. Sooner or later, the pandemic will pass, and the star performers who felt taken for granted will go somewhere else where they will be shown plenty of positive attention.

With travel off the table for most, and even excursions to restaurants out of the question, workers also may not be asking for time off because they feel that there’s nowhere to go. For their own good, urge them to turn off their computers, avoid their work apps and take a short staycation. Promise them that you won’t bombard them with work emails while they’re off, so they don’t come back to a stressful mountain of messages. There’s actually a strong health case for the break.

“Chronic stress takes its toll in part on our body’s ability to resist infection, maintain vital functions, and even ability to avoid injury,” Dr. Susan Krauss Whitbourne cautioned in Psychology Today. “When you’re stressed out and tired, you are more likely to become ill, your arteries take a beating, and you’re more likely to have an accident.”

Now, as ever, a person’s productivity at work depends on their overall health and wellness – physical as well as mental health. If you’re responsible for recruiting and retention for your organization, make sure you have a plan to encourage all employees to take the time they need (and have earned) to rest and recharge. Good for them, good for your company, too. 

Additional Resources from STOPit Solutions

Want to learn more about STOPit and how anonymous reporting tools are improving employee recruitment and retention across the US? Schedule your demo today.

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?

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.

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! 

Analytics Reveal Issues Most Frequently Reported by Restaurant Staffs

When thousands of restaurant industry members gather in Chicago for the 100th Annual National Restaurant Association Show May 18-21, they won’t just be sampling the food and beverages. They’ll also take part in peer-to-peer conversations and expert panel sessions about the right recipe for ensuring their staffs are happy, safe and productive.

A key ingredient is an outlet for employees to report workplace problems to management anonymously and without fear of reprisal. STOPit Solutions conducted an analysis of anonymous reports submitted by employees at all of its restaurant industry customers nationwide and came up with a breakdown of the most common complaint types.

Here are the top four reporting types by those in the food service industry in order of volume:

STOPit Solutions Top Reporting Types for Food Service

As a way to remedy these issues and investigate the source of the problem, a growing number of restaurateurs are adopting STOPit Solutions. In doing so, they are able to combat what might be negatively affecting their businesses like high employee turnover. As the name suggests, STOPit helps solve these problems by empowering workers to take the critical first step– making management aware of them. In restaurants, that’s not something that always happens.

Restaurants are small worlds where everyone, from the waiter, to the bus boy, to the hostess, relies on one another to do their part to deliver a good meal and positive dining experience to customers. When workers in this chain are harassed or bullied, the thought of reporting the situation to management is often too stressful to follow through with. Rather than risk inflaming tensions with staff members who they’ll have to work in close quarters with each day, many simply decide to leave.

The nonprofit and 2019 James Beard Humanitarian of the Year recipient, Giving Kitchen, which assists Atlanta-area restaurant workers with emergencies and social service needs, has used its position as an influencer to recommend that eateries consider STOPit to protect their workplace cultures. Executive Director Bryan Schroeder views his organization’s use of STOPit as an investment in its staff and future.

“I really place a high value in creating a safe workplace and want to do everything we can at Giving Kitchen to ensure the camaraderie, the friendships, the closeness we have today is protected as we grow as an organization,” he said.

Schroeder said STOPit Solutions was first brought to his attention by Nancy Oswald, a Giving Kitchen Board of Trustees member who co-owns and operates several Ruth’s Chris Steak Houses in the U.S. Southeast.

“She’s one of the smartest, most adept business people I know, and when I started having a discussion with her about creating a stable workplace environment for men and women in the restaurant industry and maybe creating a resource kit for restaurants, the first thing she brought up was STOPit,” Schroeder said.

While many organizations feel that they already have adequate safeguards in place in the form of a suggestion box or legacy hotline, workers often feel more comfortable using digital platforms that allow them to share information without the risk of being seen or overheard. STOPit also provides management an opportunity to respond to tips and ask for further information while still respecting an employee’s confidentiality. There are supplemental service options available to make the tool more powerful, including 24/7 monitoring of the account and specialized training for administrators and staffs.

“Restaurants have seen success in making speaking up a part of their training process and legal experts stress that restaurant owners should mandate employees leverage their anti-bullying and harassment policies,” said Agatha Asch, Director of Communications. “If employees know that management values when they speak up about harassment, theft, or workplace issues, then it becomes part of a company’s DNA from the very start, which ultimately helps businesses run smoother.”

Contact STOPit Solutions to learn more about how anonymous reporting can encourage an open flow of information between staffs and management, reducing disputes, distractions and even legal problems.

If you’re attending the National Restaurant Association Show, come say hello to us at Booth 10260.

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