Earlier this spring, I spent a morning as a volunteer at the non-profit Cradles to Crayons. Along with seven of my co-workers, I assembled bags of clothes, shoes and books for children in need from our community. The event was part of Trion Cares, our company’s corporate volunteer program. We can build houses for Habitat for Humanity, cook and serve meals at the Ronald McDonald House and contribute our time and talents in other ways.
A corporate volunteer program shows our company cares about its employees’ well-being, too. Volunteering reduces stress and depression. Regular volunteers even live longer than their peers.
If your organization has a company volunteer program, that’s great! But are employees receptive to it? To maximize success and take advantage of the benefits to your business, spread the word about volunteering early and often.
Plant the Seeds
I first learned about Trion’s corporate volunteer program when I was offered my job. Human Resources explained it to me as part of the total PTO package. The program gives employees eight paid hours per year to volunteer at a certified charity. We can either join a company-organized event or find our own opportunity.
On-boarding communication is a logical place to describe your volunteer program. Include it in the employee handbook. To engage employees, include colleagues’ personal stories of their community service experiences.
But there could be an even better place to introduce this benefit. Describe the program in your recruitment communications. We are currently in a buyers’ market for jobs. Companies need to be creative when courting new and talented workers. A 2016 survey by Cone Communications shows 51% of employees won’t work for a company that doesn’t have social justice commitments.
Engage job seekers and talk about your corporate volunteer program before they send in their resumes. List it as a benefit on job postings. Mention it on public-facing websites and social media pages. Include photos of the most recent event to emphasize the sense of togetherness volunteering provides.
Water the Garden
To encourage continued participation, you need consistent communications about the corporate volunteer program. Promote upcoming volunteer opportunities in email blasts, the intranet and employee newsletters. Reach out to partner community service organizations for their feedback. Quotes from them make for powerful testimonials to punch up your copy.
Vary the dates, places and missions of service opportunities to make the program as attractive as possible. This allows employees with different schedules, office locations and talents to pick what suits them the best. Corporate volunteer opportunities are a great way to promote camaraderie. At my recent event, I got to know co-workers from other locations.
Sign up should be quick and simple. Send periodic reminders and include directions to the service site and other useful information.
Watch it Grow
A corporate volunteer program has many benefits to your business. It positions your organization as a civic leader. As the famous comic book saying goes, “With great power comes great responsibility.” There could be unmet needs within the community that your employees’ skills can address. Connect with area non-profits to ask how you can best serve them. Continue the conversation and check in periodically to look for updated opportunities.
Engage your employees with regular communications about corporate volunteering and reap the benefits. Community service programs are a powerful retention tool.
Eighty-nine percent of respondents to the 2017 Deloitte Volunteerism Survey believe a company that sponsors volunteer opportunities offers a better working environment. Such opportunities foster loyalty and help employees advance in their careers. Another survey shows 80% of participants find active volunteers move more easily into leadership roles.
Corporate volunteer programs have a range of benefits, from employee well-being to positive perception of your organization. Don’t forget the most important benefit of all: The satisfaction that only comes from selflessly lending your time and talents for the betterment of others.
I hate saying no at the office. I’ve accepted assignments that no one wants, last minute requests and the coordination of a labor-intensive fundraiser during my busiest time of the year. In my mind, this makes me a team player and a valuable asset. However, a reluctance to say no may actually make me a martyr at the expense of my health and career.
Why You Should Learn to Say No at the Office
Saying no doesn’t come naturally to many people. Whatever the reason − guilt, the need to please, the fear of disappointing others – we struggle with saying no at the office. But it’s okay because there’s no harm in saying yes, right? Maybe not.
Here are five reasons why it’s beneficial for you to learn to say no at the office:
- Control your stress: You can’t do it all. Accepting more than a reasonable share of responsibilities at work leads to stress in trying to complete them and balance your commitments at home. With that stress comes associated health problems, including high blood pressure, anxiety, and even a higher risk for diabetes.
- Maintain your reputation: You have a reputation as a great performer who always delivers on your assignments. Saying yes to everything at work reduces the time, attention, and energy you can dedicate to each project. You may find yourself rushing through projects, making mistakes, or even missing deadlines.
- Be more productive: A particular assignment may require a special set of skills that you don’t have. Rather than struggling with a task you have no experience in, the assignment would be better handled by someone with those skills. Then you can spend your time more productively.
- Say no to say yes: There is a finite number of hours in a day. When you say yes to one thing, you may be inadvertently saying no to something else. For example, taking on a project for a friend may mean that you have less time available for your clients.
- Value yourself: Remember your personal time and mental health are important too. While there may be times you have to stay late or answer emails after work hours, remember you also need time to rest and reenergize.
When You Should Learn to Say No at the Office
It’s understandable you want to always say yes to your employer and/or clients; however, there are some times when you need to say no. Here are three situations where you should reconsider before saying yes at the office:
- When something can’t be done or is out of your control: Grow sales by 200%. Complete a five-week project in one week. Don’t say yes and try to achieve the impossible. It would be better for you to set realistic expectations with your manager and/or client and then work to achieve or surpass them.
- When you already have a full workload: You’re already working from 9 to 6 with barely any time for breaks and still log on at home to finish projects. The new assignment may be easy but it’s still going to require time that you just don’t have.
- When it goes against your values: In a study, more than half of the subjects complied with a request even though it went against their ethics. Going along with something that is against your values can lead to discomfort and self-resentment.
How to Say No at the Office
It’s just a two letter word, but it can be one of the hardest words to say. Here are five tips to help you learn to say no effectively:
- Say no: Don’t beat around the bush. Don’t leave it up for interpretation.
- Be polite: Try saying “I would like to help, but I can’t.”
- Be firm: If the person is persistent even after you say no, don’t be afraid to say no again.
- Recommend an alternative: If you can’t help, suggest another colleague who may be able to step in. Maybe you can recommend a better, simpler approach to handling the assignment
- Push back: If a manager asks you to take on a new assignment when you don’t have time, ask them for help prioritizing the request with your current work load.
The word “no” is powerful at the office. Just remember it’s okay to use it.
Welcome to 2018! A new page in the calendar means time to set new intentions. 45% of Americans make a new year’s resolution. The most popular are losing weight, exercising, and quitting smoking.
While those are worthy ambitions, have you thought about making a career resolution instead? This year, devote time and energy to improving your performance at the office. Here are 3 ideas for how to make 2018 your best career year yet.
1. Learn a new skill
Ask yourself: What are the gaps in my skill set? What do I need to know to be more productive in my job?
Once you have your answers, investigate the best way to learn. Consider your time and your budget. Find out if your company offers reimbursement for professional development activities. If not, instead negotiate for the time to learn via low cost or free methods.
Fortunately, there are many platforms to help you meet this career resolution. Industry conferences are the costliest and most time-consuming. However, you can fully immerse yourself and pick up multiple skills from experts in your field. Your local community college is another resource for in-person professional development courses.
If virtual is more your speed, Coursera and EdX offer online classes at a variety of price points, including free. There are also countless YouTube tutorials and TED talks available to stream. If your gaps are “soft skills,” like time management, you might benefit from one of those videos.
Taking initiative to acquire a new skill shows your boss you are serious about improving your performance in 2018. Lifelong learning is a mark of intelligence and commitment.
2. Find or be a mentor
A mentor is a powerful ally as you climb the career ladder. Their feedback can help you make important decisions.
If you are a new graduate, a former professor may transition into the role of mentor, especially if your career lines up with your major. If you are further along in your career, search your professional network. On LinkedIn, look for a second degree connection whose career path you admire. Ask common acquaintances for an introduction.
Live networking events are another opportunity to meet a potential mentor. Your chamber of commerce is a good resource to find such opportunities.
Becoming a mentor and sharing your wisdom is another take on this career resolution. The best mentoring relationships are give and take. You and your mentee should both learn from each other. Providing career guidance to another can grow your self-confidence in your job.
If you want to share what you’ve learned, it’s easy to find a mentee. Many college alumni associations offer mentor match programs, pairing you with a student or young alumni. Your company might also have formal mentoring opportunities.
Technology means you don’t need to be in the same city or country as your mentor or mentee. Skype sessions, FaceTime, and Google video hangouts are free ways to have a conversation across time zones.
3. Vow to unplug
A digital detox can benefit both your mental health and your job performance. Being connected 24-7 gives the flexibility to work anytime and anyplace, which is a blessing and a curse.
Our brains can only handle so much information at once. Have you ever missed important details in a meeting because you were focused on checking your inbox? Interpersonal communication depends heavily on body language. What subtle clues are you giving coworkers in a meeting or friends over dinner if one eye is always on your phone?
There are several ways to temporarily unplug so you can meet this career resolution and improve your productivity. Install internet blocking software to minimize distractions when trying to hit deadlines. Charge your phone outside of your bedroom each night. Try not checking your work email on a Sunday. Use the time you save to engage in good-for-you, analog pursuits like cooking, exercising, and reading.
A mental reset means we face Monday morning better able to handle the challenges of a new work week.
Taking on a career resolution in 2018 can open new doors of professional success. By improving your relationships and your skill sets you increase your value at work. That sets you on the road to making a true impact in your job.
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.
I love listicles and devour them for news. 5 Things You Need to Know This Week. 10 Things to Make with Leftover Chicken. My boyfriend hates them. He prefers getting his information from discussion forums. People have grown accustomed to getting news in their desired format: lists, long-form articles, discussion forums, infographics, videos, etc. So why do companies expect their one-size-fits-all employee communications will be effective?
There are currently five generations in the workforce. Each generation brings insights from their different lifestyles and experiences. Each also has different preferences and expectations for communications. While traditionalists generally expect audiences to be passive and respectful to authority, millennials want to be engaged.
This generational gap is one of many in a workforce where one-size-fits-all communications fails. Others may include gender, culture, location, and roles. After all, what would an employee at a manufacturing plant think about receiving an email of corporate speak?
In a study by GuideSpark, over 70% of respondents said that they want their companies to improve how they communicate information.
It’s Just Talking to Our Employees. Why Does It Matter?
Research from Gallup shows disengagement remains a critical problem for the American workforce It costs businesses up to $605 billion each year in lost productivity. In the American workplace with more than 100 million full-time employees:
- 16% are actively disengaged – completely miserable at work.
- 51% are disengaged – just there, doing the bare minimum to squeak by.
- 33% are engaged – truly love their jobs and make their organization better every day.
Employees who are actively disengaged are “more likely to steal from their company, negatively influence their coworkers, miss workdays and drive customers away.” One cause of low engagement is leaders who don’t define and communicate the company vision and rally employees around it.
- Only 22% of employees strongly agree their organization’s leadership has a clear direction for the organization.
- Only 13% of employees strongly agree their organization’s leadership communicates effectively with the rest of the organization.
What Can Employers Do?
Communication is “the cornerstone of an engaged workforce” and is key in improving employee engagement. To communicate effectively with employees, employers must:
- Understand your organization. Talk to your employees and find out what they want. What is working? What is not working? What do they need? How do they want it?
- Personalize your approach. Once you understand the differences in your organization, decide how you want to engage the various groups.
For each message, consider the following:
- Audience: Who needs to get this message? What is the best way to group to capture their different interests or viewpoints in this message? You could group message recipients by demographics, geography, or employment area.
- Content: What does each group need in order for the message to resonate with them? Do they need proof points or background information?
- Channel: What’s the most effective way to reach each group? This may include face-to-face meetings, mail, email, text messages, social media, or company intranets.
- Medium: What’s the most effective way to communicate different messages? This may include in-person, video, email, article, blog post or infographic.
- Speaker: Who should deliver each message? Would it be more impactful if a message came from a higher-up, like the CEO or someone who knows the group personally, like their line manager?
- Obstacles: Consider different factors that may impact your message reaching your audience. Is it the group’s busy time of the year when they are already behind on emails? If so, will another email be just lost in the shuffle?
Think of your organization’s different audiences and consider their needs when planning communications. You will be able to reach them more effectively and improve your employee engagement.
Lately, I’ve been researching different strategies to achieve goals. Whether a goal is personal or work-related, long- or short-term , taking the time to plan and prepare is key finishing with a home run! Here are six ways to help you efficiently and realistically reach your goals, so you are more likely to follow through with success:
1.First and foremost, a goal should be motivating. If you create a goal that’s too lofty or too small, you may become discouraged or bored, and you may find yourself departing from it early on. Think of something that interests you, or something that you always wanted to do, like taking extra courses to brush up on a skill, or starting a new blog. Once you’ve completed one goal, you’ll look head to the next one.
2. Try not to focus so much on the end result or the deadline of a goal. Rather, set a schedule to consistently work towards reaching it. For example, if you know you’ve been planning to finish a good book you’ve been putting off reading, schedule a time every day to spend a half hour reading. Before you know it, you’ll be finishing up the last chapter.
3. I am big on visualizing things to make them come to light. As you think of a goal you want to do, try to visualize achieving it. What will completing your goal feel like? What result will this accomplishment bring you?
4. Make achieving your goal fun. Having incentives can be a good way to keep motivated. For example, I use my iPhone fitness app to track and store my fitness goals. Once a fitness goal has been reached, it rewards me with a digital medal. Accomplishing a goal and getting a reward makes it all the more worthwhile.
5. Manage your goal more effectively by breaking it down into smaller tasks. It may be easier to see your goal as a series of small steps, rather than one large project. When putting your goal into smaller steps, you may be able to manager tasks better. This gives you a sense of accomplishment as you move closer to attaining your goal.
6. Write down your goals in a journal or display them on Post-It notes in plain sight. According to a study done by Gail Matthews at Dominican University, people who wrote down their goals accomplished significantly more than those who did not. Turning a goal into reality may require you to see it on paper and let that be your starting point. A good quote taken from an excerpt of a self-help book states, “Goals are the road maps that guide you to your destination. Cultivate the habit of setting clearly-defined written goals” – Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart.
Most importantly, stay positive and look ahead. When it’s time to start thinking about setting goals, be ready to dive in and set a schedule to help complete them by your target date. Make it fun and realistic. If it gets to be too overwhelming, break your goals down into smaller tasks to complete one-by-one. Having a plan and working toward your goals on a consistent basis will help you stay focused on the task at hand.