Cultivate a Healthy Work-Life Dynamic for the Health of Your Business

In this era of smartphones, email, texting, and social media, it’s too easy to always be available. The traditional lines that once distinctly separated work and home are no longer so clear. While all the communication tools we now have access to certainly have their advantages, there’s still a need for designated downtime and complete removal from work. We all need time to recharge and concentrate on family and personal needs.  

Employees are looking for a good work-life balance now more than ever before. And employers realize that by cultivating this dynamic, employees avoid burnout and work more effectively when they are on the clock.    

However, recognizing its importance is only part of it. Managers need to actively encourage and support it as well. Try these tips to promote a healthy work-life dynamic in your business. 

1. Find out what your employees need 

The definition of a healthy work-life balance will vary among employees, ranging from scheduling flexibility and total hours worked to supporting those who are responsible for the care of young children or elderly parents.  

The simplest way to determine your employees’ needs is to ask them. This may be best done through one-on-one conversations or having your team complete a survey. You’ll likely get a ton of useful information, and while you may not be able to accommodate everyone’s needs, the information should help you make changes to affect the majority of staff.  

2. Look for signs of burnout 

Employers should not only be assessing employee job performance, but should also be watching for signs of stress or burnout such as physical signs of fatigue, increased absenteeism, or poor job performance. When you notice signs of burnout, it would be an ideal time to talk with them about their responsibilities and assess their workload.  

3. Provide employee education on the importance of work-life balance 

Educate your staff on the benefits and importance of a healthy work-life balance. Offer webinars, on-site speakers, or access to online apps that teach your team how to live a healthier lifestyle.  

4. Promote good physical and mental health 

Critical components in supporting a healthy work-life dynamic include supporting both physical and psychological health. Encourage employees to live an active lifestyle. Support them with reimbursements for gym memberships or other physical activities, organize group participation in local runs/walks, or simply provide space for people to share pictures and stories of their adventures.  

Encourage employees to pay attention to their mental health. Support them with creative outlets at work, offer opportunities to learn new skills, encourage time for personal recharging such as breaks during the day, vacations, or personal days. 

Be it physical or mental health, allowing flexibility to attend healthcare appointments is a great way to show that you value their health and want them to be able to bring their best selves to work. 

5. Consider flexible schedules 

Offering flexibility with schedules can be an easy opportunity to win some big points with your team. When it works for your company schedule, allow some flex time for employees to take care of their responsibilities outside of work – kids’ events, appointments, or caretaking.  

This fairly small gesture acknowledges that you support your team not only as employees but as individuals with families of their own. And that goes a long way to earning some much-desired loyalty.  

6. Support telecommuting 

Working remotely can be a great perk or a necessary business function. With more and more people leaving the traditional office setting, companies and entire industries are being created to cater to this demographic. While it may have seemed like a stretch a few years ago to make this dynamic successfully work for your company, give it a new look and see how it may be beneficial for your employees and your company as well. You may consider allowing remote work a few times a week or month, or you may find that it will enable you to hire much-needed talent from a different part of the country.  

If your concern has been productivity, or lack thereof, then part of the consideration should be to evaluate the systems you have for tracking and logging employee work, the communication protocols you have between employees and their supervisors, and the communication channels for the company.  

7. Take vacation 

Lead by example and let staff see that you consider it essential to take care of yourself and value time with your family. All too often leaders and employees alike accumulate paid time off, but are too hesitant to actually take a vacation. 

And when you are on vacation, set boundaries and limit your availability for phone calls and email. Show your team that vacation time should be cherished and taken without guilt. Plus, you’ll have the added benefit of actually being on vacation. It’s a win-win! 

Your company may not be able to accommodate some of these ideas due to the type of work you do. And that’s okay. But taking the time to show your staff that you care about them should be something every business can do.  

Supporting your employees as individuals shows that you’re paying attention – to them. And what do we want more than just about anything as human beings? To know that we’re seen and that we matter. Find ways to show your team that you care.  

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

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Create a Culture Where Innovation Thrives

The world of business is changing and changing quickly. Whether in the form of marketing, sales and prospecting, company culture and employee satisfaction, new solutions and practices are sprouting up everywhere. Competition has always been at the heart of our culture but keeping up with such a vast number of moving parts is a huge challenge.  

So how do you keep your business moving and growing in a constantly changing environment without breaking the bank? You take full advantage of the resources already available to you: your employees.  

Your greatest resource, your driving force, your differentiator—each one of your employees has their own set of experiences and tools they bring to the table, many of which you may not even know about. It’s critical to develop a company culture that enables employees to expand to their fullest potential so the pool of resources you have access to grows larger and more readily available.   

But how do you access those resources? How do you design a company that’s able to tap into the greatest potential of their employees, and thus the company itself?  

Here’s where to start: 

1. Accepting failure as part of the game 

Creating an environment where failure isn’t discouraged, but celebratedis key to making people feel comfortable trying new things. Failure is a symptom of having tried something, which is in itself a success. Teach your employees not to fear retaliation for having failed at trying something new. Instead, celebrate their initiative and use it as an opportunity to learn how to do better next time.   

The more people feel free to try out new things without being afraid of negative repercussion, the more willing they will be to give their ideas a shot.  

2. Change is expected 

Embracing innovation means there will be change. It’s core to the definition of change itself. Consider the many roles of your employees. Have you structured your company in a way that keeps people in placeor created a more fluid organization that allows for the flexibility and movement of your employees?  

When you bring people onto your team, do you talk about how their roles might change or do you simply give them their handbook and leave them to it?  

If you allow your employees to get too comfortable doing the same thing over and over again, they will resist change. It makes sense, right? Change is difficult and takes work. If employees aren’t used to being asked to adjust to new ways of doing things, they’ll get frustrated and push back.  

Train your employees to expect change from the get-go. Get them excited about how their roles may develop and evolve over time and encourage them to think critically about how things might be improved.  

That way, you have a team full of people who aren’t afraid to go full speed ahead with new initiatives, technologies, and systems. You’ll also start to attract employees who are big thinkers and who value a rich, ever evolving office discourse. Sound like the people you want working for you? 

3. Leadership 

You probably know that company culture comes from the top down. It isn’t enough just to expect your employees to come up with great new ideas. Leadership also needs to devote time and energy to thinking critically and looking for new solutions and opportunities for growth.   

Without the motivation of leadership, the energy and momentum needed for innovation will dwindle. There’s no problem solidifying what you’ve already got—especially if it works. But it’s just as important to keep your eye on the future. How will your company stand out from the crowd? What can you do to optimize your processes, expand your audience, and grow your business? What big new idea are you bringing to the table? 

The real value 

An innovative company is one that can keep up with changing markets and evolving competitors. Investing in practices that cultivate and nurture innovation in your company is investing in your company’s present and future.   

People want to be a part of growth and are inspired by a company that values a healthy exchange of ideas. You never know what you can accomplish if you keep your company flexible and open to the next big idea.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

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Building A Foundation for Communication

Internal communication is at the very heart of making sure your company is running smoothly. Not just within each department, but between departments, leadership, and HR. You’re probably nodding your head (or rolling your eyes) because this is basic, like really basic, for every company ever. So why are we writing about it? Because lack of communication is something many businesses struggle with and it can cause big problems. 

When a company suffers from a lack of communication, there’s always fallout: 

  • Accountability drops 
  • Resentment builds 
  • Important information gets lost  
  • Initiatives fail 
  • Employees start looking for other employment 

The list can go on and on and on. Lack of communication can leave employees feeling directionless and disengaged at the very least, and at worst, cost the business serious money in wasted initiatives, botched sales, and confused and frustrated customers.   

So how do you ensure your company is communicating effectively? Start by pick your channels. 

In-person meetings 

Setting up a reliable schedule for meetings is a key part of maintaining consistent communication. There’s a lot of talk about how meetings can be a waste of time if executed improperly and without an agenda, but that’s not a reason to stop having them. Instead, make them better.  

  • Set up weekly or monthly meetings between team leaders to review overall company goalsupdate each other on current projects and challenges, and stay uptodate on interdepartmental projects. Come into the meeting with an agenda and stick to it. If new topics come up during the meeting, make a note and address them at another time. 
  • Set up 5minute startofday meetings within departments for managers to highlight daily goals and agenda. 
  • Set up endofday (or week) meetings covering what has been accomplished and/or what needs to get done next.  

Digital communication 

Inperson (or video) meetings are critically important to developing relationshipsbut they shouldn’t be the only way of communicating. Supplement regular meetings with a digital communication channel to keep the communication flowing and document what’s been discussed.  

Thankfully, there are countless apps and programs companies can use for internal communication channels. While email is a standardit’s also so overused that it’s not always the most efficient way for companies to communicate internally. Think about your inbox—there are probably emails waiting to be sorted, emails you haven’t had time respond to, and emails you’ve forgotten entirely. Add in the back-and-forth messiness that comes with email conversations and you’ve got a recipe for poor communication.  

While email can be a good option for some communications, it shouldn’t be the only one you use. There are plenty of apps such as Slack or Microsoft Teams that are great for more efficient and effective communication.  

With digital apps, you can have direct conversations between individuals. And you can also have conversations in a group format where everyone in the group can see what’s being discussed. Keep this really focused by setting up multiple discussion groups, and have each be for a specific topic. This lets people choose the topics relevant to themselves and their roles. 

Whether it’s a direct or group conversation, the digital apps provide a great way to have a string of conversation that is saved and easily searchable.  

Keep it consistent  

Consistency is at the core of good communication. Once you choose your channels, stick with them. Create an expectation that everyone from the top down consistently participates in the meetings and uses the technology. Make it clear how and when the different channels of communication will be used. The more they’re used effectively, the more people will depend on them, and the more efficient everyone will become. 

Leadership must set the example and take the lead in adopting any new technology. If your leaders are still stuck using email or the whiteboard in the common area, the time you spend training your employees to use the program will be wasted.  

If your company is struggling with a lack of clarity and communication, ask yourself if everyone has a reliable way to contact one another and discuss internal topics in a timely manner. Then ask if your leaders are committed to using those channelsPeople will do as you do far more than they’ll do what you say.  

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by Bonzami Emmanuelle 

 

How Coaching Can Save Your Team

Employee engagement and retention are (or should be) top of mind for company leadership and HR teams. Having an engaged workforce means a stronger, more productive company. Unfortunately, only 34% of employees report being fully engaged in their workplace. That said, companies have been spending a lot on this problem. In fact, an estimated three-quarters of a billion dollars, each year.

Obviously, this is a huge issue with many components. Employee development and education, benefits, and company culture all play into the employee experience, which directly impacts retention and engagement.

It’s all about the culture

This issue poses too many factors for business (especially small ones) to address from every vantage point. Most medium and small sized companies have a tight budget set aside for employee experience. But you don’t necessarily have to spend a ton of money on perks to create a culture of productivity and engagement. Not surprisingly, 76% of employees cite their manager as the leading influencer of workplace culture.

With that in mind, you’d assume companies are taking advantage of this knowledge and setting up their managers and leaders to be trailblazers for building a happy workforce, right? Sorry, not so much.

A shocking 71% of companies do not feel their leaders are able to actually lead their organization. And we can assume that leaders who are unable to lead are negatively impacting the people they’re supposed to lead.

So, if managers are the major influencing factor in creating company culture, and companies don’t feel they’re doing their job well, it’s time to think about the tools they’re given to accomplish company goals.

How are your managers trained to manage? Do they even get training? Or does your company just promote highly functioning employees into manager roles and let them figure it out on their own?

Training your managers to take a different approach to supervising their teams might just be what your company needs. But how, you ask? By training them to coach instead of manage.

Coaching vs. managing 

The difference between coaching and managing is fairly simple. Where managers:

  • solve problems
  • answer questions
  • delegate tasks
  • evaluate performance

Coaches take a different approach. Instead, they:

  • empower their team to solve their own problems
  • ask questions
  • encourage employee input into how tasks get accomplished
  • urge employees to think critically about their own progress

Coaching also involves continuous conversations back and forth between team members, individuals, and managers. It is a highly effective way to engage your workforce.

Empowering your employees is at the core of why coaching is so effective. By empowering your employees to solve for their own problems, you are showing that you value their opinion and trust their ability to address and overcome challenges. Employees who are given the lead to solve problems become more self-reliant and feel a greater sense of accountability and responsibility, which leads to increased engagement and satisfaction.

Demonstrating trust in your employees to effectively address challenges is a very direct way to help them build on their own self confidence as well. Helping employees grow by creating a culture that nurtures self-confidence and independence is a sure-fire way to make people feel valued. Not to mention a sense of personal growth. 

Building an ongoing dialog between your employees and managers, as well as within their own team, is also a significant part of coaching. Where managers might only speak with individuals before or after a large project or when it comes time for their yearly assessment, coaching encourages a much more fluid form of communication.

Think increased employee recognition and opportunities for development. When there is an ongoing conversation between manager and employee, there is increased opportunity for managers to discover previously unknown strengths and skills that the employee may have. This can lead to employees getting assigned projects that play into their personal strengths and allow them to develop skills they are highly interested in.

Increased communication is also an effective way to suss out employees who are struggling and may need some extra support or direction. Showing that you are paying attention and willing to help guide and support an employee through a difficult time generates loyalty and a sense of safety that people value.

Value for you and them

Coaching is a much more people-focused way of managing your company. There are many different ways to implement coaching within your team and many different types of coaching to consider. By training your managers to coach, you’re not only giving them better tools to nurture a happier, more engaged workforce, but you’re investing in the future of your   by offering more opportunities for personal development and creativity.

So before you consider spending capital on unnecessary toys for the employee rec room, think about whether or not your managers could use training in how to coach their teams to success. Remember, employee experience and culture comes directly from leadership. So give your leaders the tools they need to win, and watch your company win.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners
 
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How (NOT) to Deal With Workplace Conflict

Interpersonal conflict is something every workplace has to deal with at some point. When people work in close quarters, there is bound to be some type of friction that comes to the surface and needs to be dealt with. 

Sometimes the people in the conflict are able to work it out themselves. This usually happens if both people are willing and able to sit down with each other and hash things out. However, there are many people who are uncomfortable with directly addressing issues and conflicts and who will do anything to avoid uncomfortable conversations.  

This results in passive aggression, negativity, decreased productivity, and team dysfunction which can spread and begin to negatively affect other employees. Conflicts like these are best solved quickly, and strategically, and often guided by management. 

Unfortunately, if leadership isn’t prepared to handle conflicts correctly, they can have a much greater negative effect on the situation and will end up making it worse for everyone. Here are a couple leadership practices that are guaranteed NOT to succeed in solving a conflict. 

Avoidance 

We know you’re busy. You’ve got a million things on your plate and goals and quotas to meet. So that argument between Tim and Kathy on the production team just doesn’t seem important enough for you to prioritize today. Oh sure, you’ll get to it, but it not today. Maybe tomorrow. Or next week? You’re hoping that maybe by then, it’ll just go away. Spoiler alert: it won’t.  

Avoidance can come in many different forms. For instance, say you’ve talked to Kathy and Tim separately and heard their different sides of the story, but you haven’t yet set up a meeting with both of them together. It might feel like you’ve made some progress after hearing them both initially. People often feel better after they’ve had a chance to get their story out and feel heard. This might have even deflated their frustration for the time being. But it won’t last.  

No one likes to have uncomfortable conversations, and you’re no exception. Being in leadership doesn’t mean you’re automatically exempt from having the same reservations about confrontation as the rest of humanity. You may be a good problem solver and a good listener, but if you just stop at having individual conversations and don’t move forward to confronting the issue together, you’ve halted the healing process.  

Separation 

Keeping people apart when they are fighting might work with children, but it isn’t a sustainable solution for dealing with conflict at the office. Employees must be able to work together and rely on each other as a team. Just trying to give them different projects and hoping they won’t run into something that requires them to work together isn’t going to help you or them in the long run.  

Just listening to their individual stories and sending them in different directions is setting your team up for failure. Plus, it’s setting an unhealthy standard for how your company handles interpersonal conflict.  

It’s better this way 

Unless you take the step to get them talking face-to-face, you’ve just put the problem on hold, not dealt with it. Having a functional, healthy team should be a top priority for any leader. The chances of meeting your goals with a robust team working together are much greater than working with dysfunctional team and their infighting.  

Taking an hour out of your day today to solve a conflict will save you hours of cleanup work later down the road. It’ll also ensure that the conflict doesn’t expand and begin to affect other team members.  

Constructive confrontation = solution 

If you’re uncomfortable with confrontation, or not sure how to go about mitigating the conflict, it helps to go in with a plan.  

  • Structure the conversation so that both parties have their chance to speak and respond to each other  
  • Encourage them to each take accountability  
  • Set the expectation that they will come to a resolution, creating a clear, actionable plan for how they will move forward 
  • Set a follow-up meeting a week or two down the road to help keep everyone accountable  

You may never be comfortable with confrontation, but fortunately, with practice you can get better at successfully dealing with it. The more you set the expectation that conflict will be dealt with in this way, the easier it is to do it. Hopefully, it becomes so ingrained in your company culture that co-workers will begin to do it themselves without the need to bring in leadership to help mitigate the discussion.  

So next time there’s a conflict at the office, don’t hesitate to deal with it then and there. Don’t put it off, don’t avoid the uncomfortable conversation. Show them you believe in their ability to solve the problem themselves by bringing them together to do so. You’ve got this and so do they.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by Andrey Popov