Category: communication

  • Three Surprising Benefits to a Virtual Open Enrollment

    October 21, 2020

    Tags: ,

    With many enrollments being forced to go virtual this year, you may feel at a disadvantage. But, there are actually plenty of reasons to believe a virtual open enrollment could be even more effective for you and your clients.

    IMPROVED EDUCATION

    People only tend to remember 10% of what they hear and only 20% of what they read. However, people actually recall 80% of what they see. As you prepare your virtual enrollment presentations, make sure you work on integrating images to communicate your message. An image has a higher chance of evoking an emotional response in a person than a set of words, written or spoken and with that emotion comes retention. Leverage every opportunity to use graphs, charts, and images to relay your message.

    GREATER REACH

    As you communicate with your employees regarding education on benefits offerings or deadlines for enrollment, use a form of communication that is natural for most people—text messaging. Texting for employee communication results in a 98% open/read rate and a 45% reply rate. Compare these percentages to basic email open rates of 20% and a reply rate for email of only 6% and you’ll plainly see that texting has a far greater reach. So, if it worries you that virtual enrollments will result in less communication, don’t let it!

    Another great way to leverage this time of virtual open enrollments for the good is to get online with your enrollment paperwork by posting it all via an online portal or company intranet.  Employees can read through the information at their leisure from anywhere—phone, tablet, or laptop. They can also easily share it with family members who can read it at their convenience. More people will be able to digest the information than if it had only been available at a physical enrollment meeting.

    OPEN LINES OF COMMUNICATION

    Work on creating a solid foundation of communication for the entire year by introducing it during Q4’s virtual enrollment meetings. Use your company’s social media to stay in contact by posting educational infographics, animated videos on health and wellness topics, and invitations to webinars. Then, by the time 2021’s enrollment period approaches, your employees will be conditioned to look at your social media for company announcements and you will be set up for success as you post info on your different channels.

    Even though open enrollment looks starkly different than in years’ past, it does have its benefits. Improved communication, a greater reach, and new, open lines of communication are all byproducts of this innovative, virtual environment. What a great surprise!

  • Making the Workplace a Safe Place to Speak Up

    August 18, 2020

    Tags: ,

    Right now, organizations across the country are asking themselves what they can do to make their workplaces more inclusive, diverse, and equitable, particularly for Black employees. They’re hosting conversations, acknowledging areas where they’ve fallen short, and identifying opportunities for improvement.

    For these efforts to be successful, employees need to be able to speak freely, offering critical and candid feedback about individual behaviors, workplace practices, and organizational policies. None of this can happen, however, if people believe it isn’t safe for them to speak up.

    It often isn’t.

    Employees who report harassment and discrimination, speak candidly to their supervisors, or challenge the status quo often find themselves excluded from projects, denied a promotion, or out of a job. According to a study by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), 75% of employees who spoke out against workplace mistreatment faced some form of retaliation. Given this reality, it falls on employers to show their employees that they can report incidents of discrimination, identify institutional failures, and recommend solutions all without fear of retaliation. Preventing retaliation is part of that. Here are a few other ways to establish a firm foundation of trust, openness, and respect:

    Admit mistakes and make amends
    Employees will be reluctant to hold their leaders accountable if their leaders never admit fault or acknowledge areas for growth. If, however, leaders show a willingness to be vulnerable and a desire to learn and be better, they can help put their employees’ minds at ease and more effectively solicit their feedback. For example, an employer might acknowledge that they hadn’t previously made diversity a priority for the company, but that going forward, they will strategically place job ads where underrepresented job applicants are more likely to see them, and they’ll identify ways to make the workplace welcoming and inclusive. Statements like this, when followed by action, open the door to honest communication between employees and their employer. They build trust.

    Reward instead of retaliate
    Creating a real sense of safety takes more than preventing retaliation. Employees need to see that providing candid and critical feedback is met with appreciation, gratitude, and action from leadership. In other words, it has to be rewarded. Employees who identify problems in the workplace or propose solutions shouldn’t fear being ostracized or having their career derailed by a vengeful peer or supervisor. On the contrary, they should be recognized as leaders in the organization (informal or otherwise), given opportunities to make a further impact, and empowered to help make decisions that elevate the workplace, its culture, and its practices. Consider shout-outs from the CEO, company awards, strategic bonuses, promotions, and career development opportunities. These show sincerity.

    Tolerate no retaliation
    For some employers, the hardest part of building trust will be appropriately disciplining anyone who violates it, especially if the one being disciplined is a star performer or high up in the chain of command. One instance of retaliation, if not immediately addressed, can undermine months or years of work and ruin even a stellar reputation for diversity, inclusion, and equity. Any retaliation, for any reason, no matter who does it, must not be tolerated. Fortunately, swift action to discipline the offender and prevent future instances can help repair the damage and restore trust. It shows you’re serious.

    Psychological safety takes time to establish, even in companies without a history of overt retaliation. Implementing the three strategies above, however, will lay the groundwork for a culture in which employees feel safe speaking up for diversity, inclusion, and equity.

    By Kyle Cupp

    Originally posted on thinkhr.com

  • How Leaders Can Set an Example For Remote Employees

    July 12, 2020

    Tags: ,

    For many of us, the experience of working entirely from home is a new one. It has required us to rethink the way we work and function as a team. Many of the routines, patterns, practices, and processes we have created over time are no longer effective, and we’ve had to institute new means of collaborating, getting our work done, and elevating the people around us.

    With all these changes, there’s bound to be confusion and concern among employees about what’s expected of them. Fortunately, leaders can do a lot to sooth these fears and provide clarity. Below are a few practices I recommend.

    Deliberately model what you expect to see
    For many employees, working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic has meant navigating a new work environment with new demands, distractions, and interruptions – each of which brings additional stress and frustration. In these circumstances, employees need guidance on where the company can be flexible (e.g., work hours or pace) and where they need to toe the line (e.g., company values).

    It’s important to communicate your expectations, whether verbally or in writing, but the most effective strategy is simply to show employees what you expect. Images are powerful, and right now they have the power to clarify and reassure. It’s one thing, for example, for an employee to hear from their manager that it’s okay for them to take a moment here and there to tend to a child’s needs; it’s quite another for an employee to witness their manager tending to their own child’s needs. The former instructs; the latter makes the lesson real. In my own practice, I put 2-3 breaks with my family each day on my public calendar, so employees understand that taking a few minutes out of the day to care for your family is not only accepted but encouraged. Showing rather than simply telling also emphasizes the shared experience: We’re all in this together.

    Share your own challenges and creative solutions
    Employees won’t see most work-from-home challenges that their leaders face on a day-to-day basis, but knowing their leaders are in the same boat can be both comforting and confidence-building. Share with your team the challenges or emotions you’re working through, and any personal learnings you’ve had about ways to manage this crisis. Your employees don’t necessarily have to do things the same way you do — you’ll get better engagement, focus, and commitment by trusting them to find their own strategies. The more important thing is to communicate that they can be open with their challenges, and that those challenges are legitimate and there’s hope for the future.

    Reach out socially and encourage employees to do the same
    I’ve encouraged the teams here at ThinkHR and Mammoth to schedule regular, optional social time together. Midmorning coffee hours and late afternoon happy hours have been popular. We also recently celebrated our families with a virtual “Bring Your Kids to Work Day” bingo game. I hosted, and we were thrilled to see 50 kids join the call.

    Employees may be hesitant to start or participate in virtual social events, especially during work hours, if they don’t feel the activities have their leader’s support. You can set an example here not only by giving the green light to occasional fun occasions, but also by participating in them. I try to join one virtual team happy hour each week, and I’m confident I get as much or more out of it as our employees.

    I also recommend regularly asking your team members on an individual, unplanned basis how they’re doing and what they may need. Encourage them to do the same with their colleagues. We don’t have the benefit of spontaneous office encounters to strike up conversations and check in with each other. We all have to be more deliberate about personal interactions. As elsewhere, you can set an example here.

    By Nathan Christensen

    Originally posted on thinkhr.com

  • Communication in the Workplace

    January 7, 2020

    Tags: , ,

    Today’s workforce looks markedly different than it did just 10 years ago. 1 in 3 workers in the US are millennials and this makes them the largest generation in our current workforce. The way this generation communicates makes it necessary for the office to adjust its messaging strategy. What was seen as top-notch communication tech in the early 2000’s has been replaced by new options. As we peer into 2020, let’s take a look at some new ways to communicate effectively with employees both in an office setting and across the globe.

    Video Conferencing

    Utilizing tech to communicate in your workplace is essential. Office spaces that were previously filled with people who interacted with one another daily now house screens and common space workstations. Because of this, video conferencing has become a necessity to build a sense of unity and community within a department. Employees that are in the office are able to see and interact with their coworkers that may be at their home office or even across the globe in a different country via video services like Zoom, GoToMeeting, and Skype. Collaborating on projects no longer requires you to sit across the table from your team as you can sit in front of a computer screen and share ideas and update progress.

    Project Management

    Since it is no longer commonplace to have all employees in the same office each day, managing workflow digitally is a necessity. Sites like Basecamp allow projects to be created and teams assigned to jobs within the project. As tasks are completed, team members update their progress online and everything stays organized. Information is easily shared because anyone can log on and read the latest update or ask for help. Emails aren’t lost in an inbox or spam box as the communication happens on one platform. It’s a great way to manage both a physical or virtual office.

    Sharing is Caring

    There are so many options for sharing files across platforms and with team members. Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive are just a few examples of online tools to assist your team with sharing data, storing information and files in the cloud, and syncing files across multiple devices. These options can range from very basic and free to very secure and costly depending on your needs. Some services only offer small file storage and sharing capabilities and so you’ll want to do your homework to find an option should you have a large image file or data file that needs to be shared.

    TXT 2 TLK

    According to a survey with OpenMarket, 76% of millennials say texting is more convenient and allows them to communicate on their own schedule. 19% of them say they never check their voicemails. Why is this important to you? With millennials comprising the largest percentage of of the current workforce, you need to make sure you are communicating with them the best way possible. Texting to communicate upcoming events, meetings, reminders, or even to conduct employee surveys is a great option for relaying information to your staff. One thing to remember is that when sending a message via text, the context or heart behind the message is somewhat harder to convey than when delivering it verbally. Make sure the message is not open to interpretation so that the end result isn’t skewed.

    As we ring in the new year, take the time to consider new ways to communicate and conduct business in your physical and virtual offices. Test out the methods mentioned here and maybe you’ll find a great new avenue for connecting with your employees!

  • Three Surprising Benefits to a Virtual Open Enrollment

    October 21, 2020

    Tags: ,

    With many enrollments being forced to go virtual this year, you may feel at a disadvantage. But, there are actually plenty of reasons to believe a virtual open enrollment could be even more effective for you and your clients.

    IMPROVED EDUCATION

    People only tend to remember 10% of what they hear and only 20% of what they read. However, people actually recall 80% of what they see. As you prepare your virtual enrollment presentations, make sure you work on integrating images to communicate your message. An image has a higher chance of evoking an emotional response in a person than a set of words, written or spoken and with that emotion comes retention. Leverage every opportunity to use graphs, charts, and images to relay your message.

    GREATER REACH

    As you communicate with your employees regarding education on benefits offerings or deadlines for enrollment, use a form of communication that is natural for most people—text messaging. Texting for employee communication results in a 98% open/read rate and a 45% reply rate. Compare these percentages to basic email open rates of 20% and a reply rate for email of only 6% and you’ll plainly see that texting has a far greater reach. So, if it worries you that virtual enrollments will result in less communication, don’t let it!

    Another great way to leverage this time of virtual open enrollments for the good is to get online with your enrollment paperwork by posting it all via an online portal or company intranet.  Employees can read through the information at their leisure from anywhere—phone, tablet, or laptop. They can also easily share it with family members who can read it at their convenience. More people will be able to digest the information than if it had only been available at a physical enrollment meeting.

    OPEN LINES OF COMMUNICATION

    Work on creating a solid foundation of communication for the entire year by introducing it during Q4’s virtual enrollment meetings. Use your company’s social media to stay in contact by posting educational infographics, animated videos on health and wellness topics, and invitations to webinars. Then, by the time 2021’s enrollment period approaches, your employees will be conditioned to look at your social media for company announcements and you will be set up for success as you post info on your different channels.

    Even though open enrollment looks starkly different than in years’ past, it does have its benefits. Improved communication, a greater reach, and new, open lines of communication are all byproducts of this innovative, virtual environment. What a great surprise!

  • Making the Workplace a Safe Place to Speak Up

    August 18, 2020

    Tags: ,

    Right now, organizations across the country are asking themselves what they can do to make their workplaces more inclusive, diverse, and equitable, particularly for Black employees. They’re hosting conversations, acknowledging areas where they’ve fallen short, and identifying opportunities for improvement.

    For these efforts to be successful, employees need to be able to speak freely, offering critical and candid feedback about individual behaviors, workplace practices, and organizational policies. None of this can happen, however, if people believe it isn’t safe for them to speak up.

    It often isn’t.

    Employees who report harassment and discrimination, speak candidly to their supervisors, or challenge the status quo often find themselves excluded from projects, denied a promotion, or out of a job. According to a study by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), 75% of employees who spoke out against workplace mistreatment faced some form of retaliation. Given this reality, it falls on employers to show their employees that they can report incidents of discrimination, identify institutional failures, and recommend solutions all without fear of retaliation. Preventing retaliation is part of that. Here are a few other ways to establish a firm foundation of trust, openness, and respect:

    Admit mistakes and make amends
    Employees will be reluctant to hold their leaders accountable if their leaders never admit fault or acknowledge areas for growth. If, however, leaders show a willingness to be vulnerable and a desire to learn and be better, they can help put their employees’ minds at ease and more effectively solicit their feedback. For example, an employer might acknowledge that they hadn’t previously made diversity a priority for the company, but that going forward, they will strategically place job ads where underrepresented job applicants are more likely to see them, and they’ll identify ways to make the workplace welcoming and inclusive. Statements like this, when followed by action, open the door to honest communication between employees and their employer. They build trust.

    Reward instead of retaliate
    Creating a real sense of safety takes more than preventing retaliation. Employees need to see that providing candid and critical feedback is met with appreciation, gratitude, and action from leadership. In other words, it has to be rewarded. Employees who identify problems in the workplace or propose solutions shouldn’t fear being ostracized or having their career derailed by a vengeful peer or supervisor. On the contrary, they should be recognized as leaders in the organization (informal or otherwise), given opportunities to make a further impact, and empowered to help make decisions that elevate the workplace, its culture, and its practices. Consider shout-outs from the CEO, company awards, strategic bonuses, promotions, and career development opportunities. These show sincerity.

    Tolerate no retaliation
    For some employers, the hardest part of building trust will be appropriately disciplining anyone who violates it, especially if the one being disciplined is a star performer or high up in the chain of command. One instance of retaliation, if not immediately addressed, can undermine months or years of work and ruin even a stellar reputation for diversity, inclusion, and equity. Any retaliation, for any reason, no matter who does it, must not be tolerated. Fortunately, swift action to discipline the offender and prevent future instances can help repair the damage and restore trust. It shows you’re serious.

    Psychological safety takes time to establish, even in companies without a history of overt retaliation. Implementing the three strategies above, however, will lay the groundwork for a culture in which employees feel safe speaking up for diversity, inclusion, and equity.

    By Kyle Cupp

    Originally posted on thinkhr.com

  • How Leaders Can Set an Example For Remote Employees

    July 12, 2020

    Tags: ,

    For many of us, the experience of working entirely from home is a new one. It has required us to rethink the way we work and function as a team. Many of the routines, patterns, practices, and processes we have created over time are no longer effective, and we’ve had to institute new means of collaborating, getting our work done, and elevating the people around us.

    With all these changes, there’s bound to be confusion and concern among employees about what’s expected of them. Fortunately, leaders can do a lot to sooth these fears and provide clarity. Below are a few practices I recommend.

    Deliberately model what you expect to see
    For many employees, working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic has meant navigating a new work environment with new demands, distractions, and interruptions – each of which brings additional stress and frustration. In these circumstances, employees need guidance on where the company can be flexible (e.g., work hours or pace) and where they need to toe the line (e.g., company values).

    It’s important to communicate your expectations, whether verbally or in writing, but the most effective strategy is simply to show employees what you expect. Images are powerful, and right now they have the power to clarify and reassure. It’s one thing, for example, for an employee to hear from their manager that it’s okay for them to take a moment here and there to tend to a child’s needs; it’s quite another for an employee to witness their manager tending to their own child’s needs. The former instructs; the latter makes the lesson real. In my own practice, I put 2-3 breaks with my family each day on my public calendar, so employees understand that taking a few minutes out of the day to care for your family is not only accepted but encouraged. Showing rather than simply telling also emphasizes the shared experience: We’re all in this together.

    Share your own challenges and creative solutions
    Employees won’t see most work-from-home challenges that their leaders face on a day-to-day basis, but knowing their leaders are in the same boat can be both comforting and confidence-building. Share with your team the challenges or emotions you’re working through, and any personal learnings you’ve had about ways to manage this crisis. Your employees don’t necessarily have to do things the same way you do — you’ll get better engagement, focus, and commitment by trusting them to find their own strategies. The more important thing is to communicate that they can be open with their challenges, and that those challenges are legitimate and there’s hope for the future.

    Reach out socially and encourage employees to do the same
    I’ve encouraged the teams here at ThinkHR and Mammoth to schedule regular, optional social time together. Midmorning coffee hours and late afternoon happy hours have been popular. We also recently celebrated our families with a virtual “Bring Your Kids to Work Day” bingo game. I hosted, and we were thrilled to see 50 kids join the call.

    Employees may be hesitant to start or participate in virtual social events, especially during work hours, if they don’t feel the activities have their leader’s support. You can set an example here not only by giving the green light to occasional fun occasions, but also by participating in them. I try to join one virtual team happy hour each week, and I’m confident I get as much or more out of it as our employees.

    I also recommend regularly asking your team members on an individual, unplanned basis how they’re doing and what they may need. Encourage them to do the same with their colleagues. We don’t have the benefit of spontaneous office encounters to strike up conversations and check in with each other. We all have to be more deliberate about personal interactions. As elsewhere, you can set an example here.

    By Nathan Christensen

    Originally posted on thinkhr.com

  • Communication in the Workplace

    January 7, 2020

    Tags: , ,

    Today’s workforce looks markedly different than it did just 10 years ago. 1 in 3 workers in the US are millennials and this makes them the largest generation in our current workforce. The way this generation communicates makes it necessary for the office to adjust its messaging strategy. What was seen as top-notch communication tech in the early 2000’s has been replaced by new options. As we peer into 2020, let’s take a look at some new ways to communicate effectively with employees both in an office setting and across the globe.

    Video Conferencing

    Utilizing tech to communicate in your workplace is essential. Office spaces that were previously filled with people who interacted with one another daily now house screens and common space workstations. Because of this, video conferencing has become a necessity to build a sense of unity and community within a department. Employees that are in the office are able to see and interact with their coworkers that may be at their home office or even across the globe in a different country via video services like Zoom, GoToMeeting, and Skype. Collaborating on projects no longer requires you to sit across the table from your team as you can sit in front of a computer screen and share ideas and update progress.

    Project Management

    Since it is no longer commonplace to have all employees in the same office each day, managing workflow digitally is a necessity. Sites like Basecamp allow projects to be created and teams assigned to jobs within the project. As tasks are completed, team members update their progress online and everything stays organized. Information is easily shared because anyone can log on and read the latest update or ask for help. Emails aren’t lost in an inbox or spam box as the communication happens on one platform. It’s a great way to manage both a physical or virtual office.

    Sharing is Caring

    There are so many options for sharing files across platforms and with team members. Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive are just a few examples of online tools to assist your team with sharing data, storing information and files in the cloud, and syncing files across multiple devices. These options can range from very basic and free to very secure and costly depending on your needs. Some services only offer small file storage and sharing capabilities and so you’ll want to do your homework to find an option should you have a large image file or data file that needs to be shared.

    TXT 2 TLK

    According to a survey with OpenMarket, 76% of millennials say texting is more convenient and allows them to communicate on their own schedule. 19% of them say they never check their voicemails. Why is this important to you? With millennials comprising the largest percentage of of the current workforce, you need to make sure you are communicating with them the best way possible. Texting to communicate upcoming events, meetings, reminders, or even to conduct employee surveys is a great option for relaying information to your staff. One thing to remember is that when sending a message via text, the context or heart behind the message is somewhat harder to convey than when delivering it verbally. Make sure the message is not open to interpretation so that the end result isn’t skewed.

    As we ring in the new year, take the time to consider new ways to communicate and conduct business in your physical and virtual offices. Test out the methods mentioned here and maybe you’ll find a great new avenue for connecting with your employees!

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