Did you know that offering employees the opportunity to bring their pets to work is a current trend? It’s true! According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), nine percent of employers already have an office policy allowing pets. This includes some well-recognized employers-of-choice such as Google, Amazon, Salesforce and Workday.
The fact is that the percentage of workplaces with a pet-friendly policy has more than doubled in the past four years. Benefits experts believe that this percentage will continue to increase in the future.
Why you may ask? According to a business magazine called Chief Executive, the next generation of business professionals want it. A survey conducted by Banfield Pet Hospital found that more than 66 percent of human resource decision makers said that potential candidates asked if the workspace was pet-friendly during their interview process.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. A pet-friendly environment can benefit both the employer and the employee. The employer may see increased retention, loyalty, productivity, and morale in their staff. On the other hand, the employee may experience decreased stress and absenteeism, according to a recent study from the Virginia Commonwealth University. As an added bonus, when you allow pets in the office, employees may be more engaged and willing to work a full day. The policy eliminates their need to worry about rushing home to check-in on their pet.
If you already have a program like this or are looking to start one, consider effective communications a key element of its success. Here are some ways to make sure you’re engaging employees appropriately:
Make Sure Every Employee’s Voice is Heard
In order for a pet-friendly workspace to be successful, employees need to feel included. With this in mind, be sure to remember everybody might not have a pet or feel comfortable around animals. That’s why it’s important to find out where people are. Do this by talking to coworkers who might be worried about this implementation, are allergic, or have any questions or concerns. Engage them in a short online poll, focus groups or informal meetings to get their thoughts. Use what you learn to inform not only the program, but communications strategy. Arm managers with talking points so they know how to approach people on their teams who may be skeptical.
Design a “Frequently Asked Questions” Document That Lays Out Program Guidelines
One of the most important steps in creating this type of policy is making sure that the guidelines are clear. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are a user-friendly tool for distributing information in a way that can be scanned, easy to revisit, and quickly updated as questions come your way. Start with the questions you expect you’ll get the most. Write them in the way employees would ask them to make the information intuitive for search. Update often to aid in eliminating any confusion.
Get the Word Out Through the Appropriate Media
How you decide to spread the word to your employees is crucial. Are you going to send out a mass email? Post a flyer in the break room? Hold a company-wide meeting? Post it on your company’s intranet? There are many different ways to tell your employees about this new policy, but some may be more fitting for your company than others. The goal is to meet employees where you know they go most. This ensures that you are reaching as many people as possible. Even though younger workers tend to value this pet-friendly program most, not all want to receive information on line. Because we all learn differently, the best approach is to use a mix of approaches, from online to traditional. This guarantees that you connect with everybody somewhere.
Create Clear Messaging That Includes the Ground Rules
No matter how you decide to share information, remember that consistency is key. Reiterate the ground rules and key aspects of the policy often and through a variety of media so employees always know what to expect. If your message is direct, concise, and clear, employees are more likely to be receptive. Something to keep in mind is that when you begin to tire of the information, employees are just starting to get it.
Communicating the Pet-Friendly Policy in Recruitment
Your current workers aren’t the only ones who should know about this new policy. Promote it to job-searching millennials who, as we now know, are looking for pet-friendly offices. Talk to your Human Resources team to see how you can best communicate this policy in the recruitment process. That may include adding it to job postings on sites like Indeed or Glassdoor, putting it in the employee handbook and promoting it at job fairs. This could be a real deal maker for some candidates and in a tight job market, that counts!
As you can see, there are a lot of things to think about when educating your employees on how to embrace a pet-friendly office. Note that your communications strategy is crucial when explaining any new policy. Communicate well so you can set employees and your program up for real success.
May is Mental Health Month. Your employee’s mental well-being matters year-round. But this month is an opportune time to communicate with your employees about how you support them.
Good mental health is not just necessary for your workers’ total well-being, but it also benefits you as an employer. Mental health conditions contribute to 62 percent of missed work days. That’s according to the 1,850 U.S. employed adults surveyed for the 2019 Unum Mental Health Report.
Whether you have a fully-developed set of benefits that address mental health in the workplace, or offer employees general wellness resources, communications is key. Here are some great programs and messages to promote as part of a communications strategy around Mental Health Month.
Teach Employees How to Use the Employee Assistance Program
Your company may offer its workers an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Such programs often include several free sessions with professional therapist or counselor. This is gold, especially for someone who is struggling and doesn’t know where to turn or have a lot of money to spend.
Sadly, many employees don’t understand that an EAP is part of their benefits. The Unum report found only 38 percent of employees knew they had access to an EAP. It’s up to you to help them understand its offerings and advantages.
Use messaging to explain the program benefits and reassure employees about confidentiality. Privacy matters. Sixty-one percent of employees said there was a social stigma in the workplace towards colleagues with mental health issues. Design a mail-to-home postcard that explains step-by-step how to use the EAP. Since most EAP’s extend to dependents that communications method gets home to spouses so they know can take advantage.
Encourage Employees to Take a Stress Reduction Class
A program doesn’t need to be specifically about mental health in the workplace for employees to benefit. Mindfulness can benefit all staff, regardless if they have a diagnosed mental health condition.
Consider hosting wellness seminars. With the help of strong communications and promotion, they will be well attended and regarded by employees. I have personally benefited from a Stress Reduction session and a Mindfulness, Meditation and Relaxation session sponsored by my company.
There are lots of ways to promote these seminars, like email, posters and desk drop flyers. It’s also important to:
- Engage frontline managers. Give them the details to understand the impact of stress management on employee well-being and performance. Employees need to feel confident that their managers support their decision to take the time to attend a session
- Create a seamless sign-up process so employees can enroll easily and directly. This will make them more likely to take action.
- Offer both in-person and online sessions that capture remote workers, too. Or, if budgets allow, offer repeat sessions at different times of day or different times of year.
Remind Employees to Take a Break
Time away from the office is important for mental well-being. Even the occasional short break throughout the day can make a difference. Encourage employees to take them.
- Promote mobile apps, like Calm or Headspace, that help employees get the most from brief moments of revitalization. Write and distribute a communication about these options. With some guidance, staff might be motivated to download one.
- If your office is close to a walking path, or park , encourage them to get out in nature, which research shows has a restorative effect. Start a lunch-time walking club that can be done outside or even inside, if the weather is bad. This has the added benefit of socialization, which also boosts mood. A flyer on the breakroom fridge would be an eye-catching way to communicate about this program.
Vacation time is crucial for mental health. Remind employees about your vacation time policy and help them understand why it’s important. Feature the voices of senior leadership in communications so employees know they support time off. Since May is the time many people start planning their summer vacations, it’s a great time to drill down into this message. Also remind folks about your employee discount program and how to save on rental cars, hotels, attractions, etc.
Promote Charitable Efforts
Use your voice as a company to support mental health in the workplace and let employees know it’s a priority. Make a corporate donation to an organization that promotes mental well-being. Or, you may want a more hands-on approach. Organize a company team to participate in a charitable outing, like the National Alliance for Mental Health walk or the Out of the Darkness walks from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
In this case, you need consistent communications both inside and outside of Mental Health Month. Create a how-to tool kit for managers, so they can talk up charitable events at team meetings and engage participation. The presence of leadership at such events is a morale booster. If you’ve done a walk before, ask staff to share photos. Post them on the company intranet to raise feelings of camaraderie. If this is the company’s first time, no need to reinvent the wheel. Many charities have media packages to download and distribute.
Mental health in the workplace matters to everybody—those who struggle with their own mental health issues and those who want to support them. Take the time this month and every month to communicate that your company values its workers’ total well-being.
Ask any professional to tell you a key to his /her success, and you’re likely to get an answer like this: “I had a mentor earlier in my career who taught me a lot.” Mentors can provide professional and personal benefits to their mentees. There are serious benefits for themselves as well.
Mentoring is a positive experience. Mentors feel a sense of personal fulfillment by paying it forward. They contribute to the company by helping to keep talented employees.
Trion has a corporate mentorship program through its GROW initiative—Growth and Relationship Opportunities for Women. While women are encouraged to participate, it is by no means limited to women. The mentorship program is now in its second year. It’s a complete success, partly because of the effective communications the mentorship committee uses to get the word out.
Of course, it’s a challenge to coordinate such a program. All the participants are busy professionals, so it presents logistical difficulties. In the case of the GROW program, the committee solicits applications from those who want to take part, then holds a meet-and-greet. At this event, the prospective mentors and mentees each get eight minutes to get to know one another. Then, the mentees each submit a list of their top three choices for a mentor. The committee matches up pairs and holds a short training session. The mentors and mentees take it from there.
One key to the program’s success is the large awareness the committee created through communications. It uses a three-channel approach, which has proven effective.
Channel 1: Email
As the program’s launch approaches, the committee sends out many emails to inform the whole company the launch is coming soon. There is an application attached to the first email. The emails talk about past participants’ positive experiences, the timeline, and what new participants can expect. They have a sense of urgency but a positive tone to try to get potential participants excited to sign up.
Channel 2: Print/Newsletter
Each quarter, the overall GROW initiative publishes a print newsletter for the entire company. The newsletter describes the different, upcoming events and program. In the issue before the launch of the Mentorship program, the committee publishes one or more articles about the program. Topics include interviews with prior participants, benefits that mentors or mentees might enjoy, or program details.
Channel 3: Word of Mouth
The committee encourages participants in the corporate mentorship program to talk about their experiences—good or bad. Honest feedback can help the committee make changes, although the feedback for this program has been very positive. Word of mouth creates a buzz for the program and can reach colleagues that may have missed the other communications channels.
With this approach, Trion’s mentorship program looks to continue its success far into the future in large part thanks to effective communications tactics.
February is Heart Health Month. Employee health is an important all year, but this month might inspire you to consider how you can incorporate wellness into the workplace. One possibility is to add on-site fitness programs.
The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week. Workers are busier than ever. After work making dinner, helping kids with homework, and settling on the couch with This is Us bump exercise off the to-do list.
What if exercise was integrated into the work day? The convenience of working out in the office limits excuses and motivates employees to take care of their heart health. There are both small- and large-scale options to build on-site fitness programs for employees. Consider your employee population and budget to roll out a successful initiative.
Walk Your Way to On-Site Fitness
A walking club is the simplest way is to start. Walking is a low-impact activity that shows positive results mentally and physically. If there is safe space to walk near your office, encourage employees to step outside during their lunch breaks. Walking and talking with colleagues creates bonds and fosters employee morale.
Add friendly competition into the mix and organize a steps challenge. Workers compete to earn the most steps with the winner awarded a prize. Trion Group, Inc. hosted our own challenge and the winner earned a gift card.
Beyond rewards, the financial overhead for this style of on-site fitness is low. There is no equipment or instructors. Workers can use their smartphones to track daily steps.
On-Site Fitness is at the Head of the Class
If you want to take on-site fitness to the next level, hire an exercise instructor to teach a class. Start with a weekly class. If interest peaks, consider adding new options. Chose a class that requires limited or no equipment. So, Zumba yes, SoulCycle no.
Some popular times for classes include lunch time, early morning and late afternoon. Early birds might come in for a 7 am aerobics class. Others want to shake off the mid-day slump with a lunch class. An end-of-day class is a strong option for on-site fitness programs for employees as it lets workers go home after to shower.
This option requires open, indoor space, so it may not be available to all companies. Space for the class should be removed from other workers so the noise won’t bother them. Let all employees know class times so they can schedule meetings and phone calls accordingly.
Make sure proper legal protections are in place. Only hire insured instructors, preferably those certified in their specific fitness area. A lawyer should write waivers for employee participants that release the company from liability for injury.
Hit the Gym for On-Site Fitness
For the ultimate in workplace exercise, create a corporate gym. Buying equipment for employees is a hefty price commitment up front. However, the continual costs are low.
A gym would let workers exercise at their own pace at the time that’s best for them. Employees can squeeze in a session on the elliptical to clear their heads before that big presentation. Workers are more loyal to employers that look out for their well-being. 80% surveyed in one study said a workplace wellness program would entice them to stay with the company.
If budgets are a concern, partner with other companies in your building to buy equipment for on-site fitness. Workers would share the common exercise space. A corporate gym is an incentive to convince new companies to come into the building. As with classes, draw up a legal waiver for employees to sign before using the equipment.
On-site fitness programs for employees require an investment of time and money, yet could offer long-term cost savings. For every dollar spent on workplace wellness, employers saved $1 to $3 per employee on annual healthcare costs. Engagement in corporate fitness programs reduces sick days and increases productivity, which affect the bottom line.
One-third of prospective employees said free exercise classes would impact their decision to accept a new job. A little more than one-fifth said the same thing about an on-site gym. In the current employee’s market with its low unemployment rates, any advantage is a smart move.
Happy New Year! It’s time to prepare for a new journey for our well-being, both physically and mentally.
Well-being is encouraging myself and others to be remarkable, mindful, and live with a purpose. So, I’ll jump on my soap box and shout to the world: “Hey! Does your company support a wellness program for its employees?”
Well, if they don’t, I challenge you to stand on your soap box and get involved this year. Take ownership of your and your co-workers’ well-being. Create an employee wellness movement that drives change.
It’s time corporations listen and take interest not only in employees’ medical expenses, but in their whole person—productivity, engagement, loyalty, and job satisfaction.
Create a friendly, comfortable, open environment for your employees to develop a wellness movement. Your goal should be fostering a culture that is engaged, focused, and enthusiastic about living with a purpose.
Health care costs are going up every year. By incorporating robust wellness programs into your benefits plan, you encourage employees to take control of preventable diseases. Did you know that according to Health Affairs Magazine, workplace wellness programs support the prevention of cardiovascular disease?
It’s simple to create an employee wellness movement within your company. Remember listen . . . create . . . inspire . . . reward.
Develop a comprehensive survey to evaluate your employees’ understanding of how wellness affects every moment of their lives, at home and at work. Pose questions which are personal and caring. Ask how they would like to improve their health and professional development. Engage management to create a safe environment for your colleagues to get involved.
Your employees are hungry for health and wellness information. According to the Pew Trust Research Center, 35% of adults have gone online to find information on a medical condition.
Create employee wellness communications to educate, engage, and motivate. All communications should be targeted and multi-channeled with their frequency and placement.
Programs can start small, then grow into movements that drive behavioral change, enrich lives, and create productive, satisfied employees. Here is a case study on an insurance company that started a small wellness program and embraced the benefits of creating a culture of wellness.
Your employees work hard. Promote wellness by designing a work environment that drives behavioral change. A targeted, robust employee wellness program will inspire co-workers at every level. You will begin to hear chatter of wellness achievements and increases in behavioral change. These are the start of the benefits of a wellness movement.
Reward your colleagues for reaching their goals with caring and meaningful incentives. You will begin to see a community that recognizes success and celebrates each other. Your colleagues will come to work more productive, enthusiastic, engaged, and healthier. These are the benefits of educating and inspiring your colleagues into a culture of well-being. You did it! It’s an employee wellness movement.
The bottom line is, don’t just focus on the financial part of your benefits. Focus on the whole person. At Trion Communications, we have the tools to help create an employee wellness movement within your company. For more information please call or click to speak to one of our communication experts. We will help you get on your soap box and create a culture of well-being.
Remember to be remarkable, be well, be mindful, and live with a purpose.
We’ve reached December! Many of your employees are preparing to celebrate Hanukkah/Christmas/Kwanzaa/Festivus, etc.
It is also a season of stress, with cooking, gift shopping, and traveling. Adding some joy to the workday can help people forget their to-do lists, even for a little while.
So, why limit the merry making to after work hours? A thoughtful, seasonal celebration can raise office morale. Here are three ideas to make December a month to remember.
1. Give Back
The saying goes, “It’s better to give than to receive.” Channel some of that spirit of generosity into a holiday giving program.
Here at Trion, we collect toys and games for Toys for Tots, which celebrates its 70thanniversary in 2017. In 2016, the charity distributed 18 million toys. Many workers, especially those with kids, are already shopping for toys this month. This program is a simple way to give a child a little holiday wonder.
Another popular option is a sponsoring a family. The Soldiers’ Angels program collects toys and gift cards for military families. Ask your county’s social services agency which local families need extra cheer. Departments could team up to buy wish list items for parents and children in need.
If you’d rather take a more active approach, organize a volunteer event. Serving food at a homeless shelter or visiting elderly residents a nursing home are two ways to spread good cheer around your community. Some people do not have family and a hot meal or a friendly chat are simple ways to brighten their spirits.
2. Friendly Competition
Spark a little good-natured boasting at the office with a friendly, low stakes competition.
Many cultures serve traditional sweets at the holidays. Host an office bake-off. Workers whip up their seasonal favorites. The culinary-challenged serve as judges. When’s there dessert, everyone wins, but consider a small prize, like a gift card to a specialty food store for the winner.
Ugly sweater parties have become a staple this time of year. Bring the fun to the office to see who has the craziest wardrobe. Employees appreciate the chance to dress down and show off their playful side. Staff votes for their co-worker with the wildest ensemble and he or she is awarded a little gift.
Employees with desk jobs spend 40 hours (or more) at their desks each week. At least for a little while, make them festive. A cubicle and office decorating contest lets workers’ creativity shine. From twinkly lights to paper snowflakes, see who has the most style. People can tour the building and anonymously pick their favorite decorations. Consider a gift card to a craft store to honor the winner.
3. Not-too-Perfect Presents
Secret gift exchanges are a fun way to encourage interaction. Each employee gets the name of a colleague and anonymously drops off small treats throughout the month. At the end, workers reveal their identities and give a closing present, within a set budget. Pair employees from different departments to let them get to know people from outside their immediate team.
A white elephant party is another way to create camaraderie. Anyone who wants to participate brings a wrapped present of a set value. Workers draw numbers and number one unwraps a gift. Number two can unwrap their own gift or steal from number one. This continues everyone has a present. With large organizations, consider department-specific white elephants to make the event manageable.
When adding December festivities to the calendar, it’s important to respect all workers’ traditions. These events should always be optional and low-stakes, so employees who wish to opt-out feel no pressure. When decorating, consider a ban on overtly religious symbols. General winter themes are an inclusive way to create a little magic.
Holiday season can be time for team-building and bonding. Special events foster a sense of community among staff. Among the hustle and bustle of December, spreading smiles and goodwill ends the year on a positive note.