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Optimizing Workplace Productivity and Wellness: HR Strategies for SuccessAuto Draft

Optimizing Workplace Productivity and Wellness: HR Strategies for SuccessAuto Draft

HR strategies, mental wellness, inclusivity, workplace productivity. These are more than just buzzwords. Together, they form the framework that results in a well-managed workforce of content employees or an environment of apathy.

It’s no secret that today’s work environment is a dynamic canvas, constantly shifting and demanding new strategies to optimize productivity and support employee wellness. As HR specialists, our role is pivotal in adapting strategies to optimize productivity while prioritizing employee wellness. 

As someone who’s been in HR services for years, I understand the challenge of adapting to these changing needs. That’s why Launchways is here to share some insights and strategies to navigate these changes effectively.

Flexibility: Embracing Change for Better Work Dynamics

Remember when the traditional 9-to-5 was the gold standard in Chicago? Well, times have changed. The rise of remote work and hybrid models has challenged the norms. Embracing this change by offering flexible schedules or remote options can significantly boost morale and productivity. 

In fact, flexibility has become one of the most common employee demands in recent years. According to Achievers Workforce Institute (AWI), it is the number one reason workers change jobs. Hybrid work schedules allow for better work-life balance. It offers a more relaxed, focused approach to tasks resulting in up to a 20% increase in employee satisfaction.

Efficiency: Streamlining HR Processes for Maximum Output

Efficiency – the holy grail of productivity remains the cornerstone of productivity. Embracing automation tools within HR operations can work wonders. From applicant tracking systems to onboarding software, automation minimizes manual tasks, letting your team focus on what truly matters. 

I remember when the recruitment process was time-consuming and arduous. It used to take weeks. With the integration of automated systems, we witnessed a remarkable reduction in hiring time. It cut that down by half allowing our team to concentrate efforts on engaging with potential candidates more effectively.

Inclusivity: Fostering Diversity for a Supportive Environment

Inclusivity isn’t just a buzzword. It’s the cornerstone of a thriving workplace. Creating an inclusive workplace goes beyond fulfilling diversity quotas; it’s about valuing different perspectives and creating an environment where everyone feels respected and heard. 

Initiatives like mentorship programs focusing on diverse talent have proven instrumental in nurturing a sense of belonging and driving innovation through varied viewpoints.

Mental Wellness: Prioritizing Employee Health and Resilience

Employee well-being is non-negotiable. They are integral components of a productive workforce. Prioritizing mental health support programs and promoting work-life balance isn’t just a nice gesture – it’s crucial. 

Witnessing a colleague burn out due to a heavy workload and lack of support was an eye-opener. It really highlighted the urgency for prioritizing employee well-being. 

Implementing regular check-ins, wellness seminars, and flexible hours has helped us not only retain talent but also boosted overall productivity and creativity.

Automated Solutions: Revolutionizing HR Practices

Welcome to the age of AI and machine learning! The adoption of AI-driven recruitment tools has revolutionized HR’s hiring process in the following ways:

  • Enhancing decision-making capabilities through data analysis
  • Improving candidate sourcing
  • Offering insights for strategic planning

The implementation of AI-driven recruitment tools not only expedited our hiring process but also facilitated the identification of top talent, leading to reduced turnover rates. They don’t just make life easier. It’s like having a reliable assistant who never sleeps! 

Actionable Steps for HR Leaders

In this ever-evolving landscape, HR leaders hold the compass to navigate through change successfully. Embracing flexibility, streamlining processes, fostering inclusivity, prioritizing mental wellness, and integrating automated solutions are the pillars of building a resilient, thriving workplace.

Assess your current HR practices. Identify bottlenecks and areas where automation can lend a helping hand. Invest in tools that align with your company’s culture and goals. Remember, employee feedback should be your guide. Adapt and evolve based on their needs.

So, fellow HR practitioners, let us collectively steer our organizations toward a workplace that not only thrives in productivity but also champions the holistic well-being of every individual. Together, we can create a workspace where success and happiness coexist.

For more information, reach out to the professionals at Launchways.

Employee Satisfaction Crisis: Turn the Tide with These Tactics

Employee Satisfaction Crisis: Turn the Tide with These Tactics

In early 2023, an alarming trend emerged in the world of employment – employee satisfaction took a significant hit. What’s even more concerning is the strong link between this decline and the economic conditions that surround us. 

As someone who’s seen the ebb and flow of employee satisfaction trends in Chicago, I can attest that this downturn is nothing to take lightly. It’s not just about personal job contentment. It’s a domino effect with consequences that echo through both individual lives and the business world.

The Ripple Effect on Businesses

Have you ever noticed how your mood can affect everyone around you? Well, the same goes for the workplace. The Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace 2023 report rings the alarm bell loud and clear. 

Low employee engagement isn’t just an internal issue; it’s causing a whopping $8.8 trillion loss in the global GDP. That’s not pocket change by any means. It’s a stark reminder that if you’re not thriving at work, you’re unlikely to be thriving in life.

The impact of this downturn varies dramatically across industries. Let’s take a closer look:

  • Despite a slight dip, the construction industry remains the happiest place to work. It maintains the top position in employee satisfaction.
  • In the travel and hospitality sector, employee satisfaction is on the rise. It’s like a sunny day after a week of rain, with scores improving from the second to the third quarter.
  • On the flip side, the following industries are navigating three-year lows in the third quarter: technology, finance, and food and beverage.
  • Nonprofit organizations have shown consistency in employee satisfaction from one quarter to the next. There’s a glimmer of hope with a small year-over-year improvement.
  • Healthcare and education have witnessed significant rebounds in employee satisfaction. Healthcare, in particular, has improved by a remarkable 17% since June, with expectations of further progress.

Identifying Root Causes

So, what exactly is an employee satisfaction crisis, and why should it concern us? To put it simply, it’s a situation where employees are far from content with their work lives. The consequences are far-reaching, and they’re not pretty. Reduced productivity, higher turnover rates, and an overall dip in morale are just the tip of the iceberg.

The key here is early recognition. Identifying the signs of a crisis is akin to diagnosing an illness. The sooner you spot it, the better the chances of recovery. This is where feedback becomes invaluable. Conducting surveys, engaging in interviews, and analyzing data reveal what’s ailing the organization.

It’s not surprising that the average employee’s happiness often correlates with their tenure in the company. Those who’ve been around for less than three years tend to be happier. It’s like the excitement of a new relationship; everything’s fresh and exciting. The onboarding process plays a crucial role in this initial enthusiasm. Sixty-two percent of employees believe their first-day impressions hold. So, creating a positive first impression lays a strong foundation for a lasting relationship.

Another critical factor is company size. Smaller companies have managed to maintain employee satisfaction. Larger companies have seen unhappiness increase with their growing workforce. Therefore, we can extrapolate that smaller and medium-sized businesses with fewer employees generally have happier workers. It’s like the cozy ambiance of a small café, where everyone knows your name, as opposed to the impersonal atmosphere of a huge chain.

Leveraging Automation for Employee Engagement

Now, let’s talk about solutions, particularly those involving automation. Automation isn’t just about cutting costs and speeding up processes. It can be a game-changer for employee satisfaction. You see, it can streamline HR processes, freeing up time for more strategic efforts. It’s like having a personal assistant who takes care of the repetitive tasks, leaving you to focus on the bigger picture.

Automation can also enhance communication, recognition, and employee feedback collection. With the right tools and platforms, you can foster a culture of appreciation and open dialogue. It’s like having a suggestion box that’s always open, where employees can voice their thoughts and receive timely responses.

Tailoring Tactics to Your Company

But remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Every company is unique, with its own values and culture. So, the tactics need to be tailored to your organization.

First, assess your company size, industry, and existing HR processes. This is the foundation for choosing the right automation solutions.

Moreover, align these tactics with your company’s mission and values. These values add “flavor” to your workplace culture. They should be evident in every interaction and decision.

Monitoring and Continuous Improvement

The journey doesn’t end with implementation. You need to monitor and make continuous improvements. Data analytics and feedback loops are your secret ingredients for success. They help you gauge the impact of automation tactics and make necessary adjustments.

Key Points

As you can see, we’re living in a time where employee satisfaction is more critical than ever. The effects of a satisfaction crisis are far-reaching and can have devastating consequences. But there’s hope, and it lies in automation and strategic solutions. There is a growing gap in employee happiness as companies expand. This emphasizes the importance of adapting HR strategies to the changing times.

By being proactive and keeping open lines of communication, we can create an atmosphere that helps employees at work and also in their lives. So, if your business is experiencing low employee satisfaction, know that you’re not the only one. There are answers available. Don’t hesitate to seek advice and help to set up automation solutions that suit your specific requirements. Just like a good recipe, it’s all about the right ingredients and a dash of innovation. Your journey to happier, more engaged employees starts today. For more information, contact Launchways.

Measuring Morale in the Workplace: Are Your Employees Happy?

Measuring Morale in the Workplace: Are Your Employees Happy?

Employee morale plays a pivotal role in shaping the dynamics and outcomes of a workplace. Simply put, when employees are content and motivated, they tend to be more engaged, creative, and productive. 

Conversely, a dip in morale can lead to disengagement, increased absenteeism, and a higher turnover rate. All of which can spell trouble for an organization’s success. 

Therefore, employers need to gauge and grasp the morale of their employees to foster a positive and thriving work atmosphere.

Chicago-based company, Launchways, has delved into the importance of measuring morale in the workplace. We offer this insight.

Why Measure Employee Morale?

Employee engagement is essential for a company’s success. To effectively attract and retain top talent, organizations should begin by assessing whether their current employees are happy. That helps employers know how to keep valuable employees. 

Workplace morale affects the following:

  • Productivity and Performance: When employees are satisfied and motivated, they are more inclined to invest their best efforts and produce high-quality work. 
  • Employee Retention: Employees who find content at work are less likely to seek opportunities elsewhere. 
  • Engagement and Innovation: A positive work environment nurtures a culture of innovation and continuous improvement.

Measuring Employee Engagement

To gauge employee satisfaction, many employers continue to rely on employee engagement surveys. But lately, employee engagement has been at its lowest point in nearly ten years. Employers start to wonder if the usual surveys really show what employees think.

Instead of using the same old surveys, employers should think about new ways to see how engaged employees are. It’s also important to improve the surveys to make sure they show how employees truly feel. Here are a few ideas that can help employers better understand employee engagement.

Updating Employee Engagement Surveys

When done properly, regular employee surveys can still effectively measure employee engagement. A few factors to consider for updating your surveys:

  1. Keep surveys short and timely. Send short 3-5 question polls for specific activities or occurrences. Reserve long surveys for annual or bi-annual reviews.
  2. Be concise and clear about what you are asking. Simple questions often get the best answers.
  3. Invite feedback and suggestions. Leaving an open-ended feedback section allows employees to provide additional information. This ensures they feel heard. 

Although surveys are probably the most popular method for measuring employee satisfaction, they aren’t the only one. To get a holistic view of engagement in your organization, consider including the following options.

One-on-One Meetings

Many workers don’t feel heard when they only have a few pre-written multiple-choice answers to choose from. Conducting one-on-one interviews with employees offers valuable insights into their morale. Such interviews provide employees with a confidential space to express their concerns and emotions.

Companies should provide managers with the proper training to lead these meetings in a way that ensures employees feel heard and respected.

Company Forum or Chat Channel

Creating a “forum” where employees can discuss current business issues may promote broader discussions. This form of communication allows employers and HR leaders to identify current problems. They can use that information to initiate real conversations to work toward real solutions.

Tracking Metrics

Tracking employee behavior over time can serve as an indicator of morale. Consider monitoring the following and investigating their root causes.

  • Employee Turnover Rates
  • Absenteeism and Sick Leave
  • Performance Metrics

Identifying patterns can help organizations unearth and address underlying issues.

The Takeaway

Today’s employees know what their priorities are. By measuring employee engagement and morale, employers can improve their ability to attract and retain talent. This enhances the company culture and creates an environment where workers feel valued.

This, in turn, benefits not only employees but also the organization as a whole. In the grand scheme of things, the question “Are your employees happy?” should invariably top the priority list of every organization wishing to create a thriving and productive workplace. For more insight, check out Employer/Employee Relations: Who’s in Control?

Employer/Employee Relations: Who’s in Control?

Employer/Employee Relations: Who’s in Control?

The pendulum continues to swing. Going “back to normal” is a status many businesses long for even as they struggle to manage the “new normal.” With many workers insisting on the freedom they experienced working remotely, and employers calling for a return to their cultivated work culture, there is bound to be tension.

So, “Who’s in control of employer/employee relations?” 

Employer/employee relations form the foundation of our modern workforce. By examining the current trends, we can gain insight into the evolving dynamics of employer/employee relations.

Remote Work and Flexible Arrangements

In recent decades, many trends have altered the employment landscape. Non-traditional work arrangements, such as freelance and contract work, have blurred the lines between traditional employer and employee roles. This results in new challenges in determining control and responsibility.

Remote work often requires a shift in management strategies, with a greater emphasis on results and performance. However, this shift means that employees may feel the need to be constantly connected to work. This sometimes blurs the line between their personal and professional life. 

While workers have more control over their work environments and schedules, employers may fear that this lack of oversight could result in less productivity.  The challenge is finding a balance. The desired solution would allow employees the flexibility they desire while ensuring employers can maintain control over work outcomes.

Mental Health Matters

Additionally, mental health has emerged as a prominent issue. More people are reporting feelings of depression and anxiety. Rates of drug abuse, addiction, and suicide have been steadily increasing. Although many are becoming more aware of mental illnesses, work-related stress, and burnout, businesses continue to find practical solutions to be a challenge.

Employers recognize that overly strict regulation can lead to feelings of employee dissatisfaction. That results in high turnover rates. In fact, the Great Resignation and quiet quitting trends have been linked to the level of support an employer offers its workers.

Workers prioritize their mental well-being and the quality of the work culture as they seek opportunities. Therefore, wellness and mental health have become important recruitment strategies for businesses. 

Major health events, including mental health ones, change everything in a person’s life. As employers and HR advisors, we need to take the health of our workers seriously. 

Balancing Employer and Employee Interests

With the increased attention that employee needs are getting, more employers are aware than ever before. Unfortunately, inflation has made wage increases difficult. Plus, more inclusive benefit options are increasingly expected to attract new talent. It has become challenging for many employers to keep up.

Employers are vested in ensuring their businesses’ productivity and profitability. This often involves making decisions that affect employee workloads, compensation, and job security. In contrast, employees seek job satisfaction, fair compensation, and security. 

Employers often feel torn between wanting to support their employees and wishing to avoid price increases. This is clear in the healthcare benefits landscape. Balancing these sometimes conflicting interests is essential for a healthy workplace.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Although the pandemic redefined work dynamics, there’s a real sense of cooperation and negotiation. It’s in the best interests of both employers and employees to work for a mutually beneficial arrangement. 

Employers can engage in open dialogue with their workforce. They can seek feedback and involve employees in decision-making processes that affect them. This inclusive approach can enhance employee satisfaction and reduce feelings of powerlessness.

When employees feel included in the process, they are more likely to cooperate. They may support initiatives that may initially appear restrictive.

As businesses weigh their needs with those of their employees, it becomes increasingly apparent. This support is required to attract and secure top talent in a competitive environment. 

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be delving into a few innovative solutions for improving employer/employee relations. We’ll discuss measuring employee engagement as well as creative recruitment strategies.

Overall, the employer/employee relationship is in a decent place, with neither in the position to make many demands. That is a pretty good way to start.

Thriving Amid Change: Managing HR’s Response to New Federal Mandates

August has been an eventful month for government agencies overseeing workplaces. With new and returning rules pushed forward by both the National Labor Relations Board and the U.S. Department of Labor, employers and HR leaders need to take notice. 

Companies should begin preparing now so they have less to do when the rules are finalized and implemented.

Here are a few of the key points for HR leaders to consider. 

News From the National Labor Relations Board

Last week, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced returning to a rule that would reduce the time between a union expressing interest in representing employees and the actual union election. Around the same time, the NLRB also changed the process for unions to organize, making it easier for unions to organize and could even remove the need for an employee vote.

The Final Rule ensures the following steps occur more quickly to make pre- and post-election hearings more efficient.

  • Pre-election hearing
  • Distribution of election information to employees 
  • Ensures elections are held quicker 

Chairman Lauren McFaren stated, “It’s the basic principle of the National Labor Relation Act that representation cases should be resolved quickly and fairly. By removing unnecessary delays from the election process, the new rule supports these important goals, and allows workers to more effectively exercise their fundamental rights.”

This could be good news for unions, but it may not be the best news for your company.

Recent polls show that support for labor unions is strong across many industries. Therefore, no industry is entirely safe from the possibility of unionization. 

What Does This Mean for Your Company?

If you are an HR leader of a company at risk of unionizing, you should take these developments seriously. Building positive relationships with your employees is crucial to union avoidance. 

Supervisor training plays a critical role in maintaining employee satisfaction and reducing the likelihood of unionization. Well-trained supervisors understand company policies, labor laws, and employee needs. This enables them to foster positive workplace environments. 

When supervisors effectively communicate, provide support, and address concerns, employees feel valued and heard, diminishing their desire to seek representation through unions. Unfortunately, during the pandemic, supervisor training became something of an afterthought, and that is becoming evident. 

News From the U.S. Department of Labor 

In another recent development, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has also proposed a new rule. This rule aims to raise the minimum salary that workers must earn to be exempt from overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act. 

Basically, the proposed rule would increase the minimum salary for exemption from $684 per week to $1,059 per week or $35,568 per year to $55,068 per year. The rule would also raise the “highly compensated employee exemption” from $107,432 annually to $143,988 per year. Furthermore, the DOL could automatically adjust these figures every three years.

What Does This Mean for Your Company?

Like most employers and HR leaders, you may need to figure out which jobs will be impacted by this proposed rule. Then you might weigh potential overtime implications against the following options: 

  • Employing measures to shift duties and reduce costs
  • Switching employees from exempt to non-exempt 
  • Increasing employee salaries 

While inflation has led many employers to increase salaries over the past few years, few have increased by the substantial margin that the DOL’s rule suggests.

What Can You Do?

Although the NLRB’s changes become effective December 26, 2023, the DOL’s rule is likely to be decided in late 2023 or early 2024. Until then, the DOL encourages the public to share their opinions before it implements a final rule.

Employers who might be affected by this new rule should definitely take advantage of the opportunity to provide feedback. The DOL is required to consider all public comments before making a final decision. 

Although you should only make big changes once the DOL rule is finalized, it’s not too early to begin thinking about your strategy. That will make things easier when the final rule is eventually published.

When planning your response to the new NLRB rules, you should immediately fortify your HR department and begin training your supervisors and managers. Trained supervisors can resolve workplace issues promptly and fairly, addressing employee grievances without needing third-party intervention. 

That not only strengthens the employer-employee relationship but also contributes to a harmonious work environment that is less susceptible to unionization efforts.

Restarting & Revitalizing Your Workplace Culture in the Age of COVID-19

As more states begin their official economic reopenings in the wake of COVID-19, many organizations feel like resuming the work itself isn’t the biggest challenge. For many of us, reengaging and rebuilding our teams of talented professionals and getting them motivated and bought-in to the new way of work is an extremely daunting task.

Many people are scared, distrustful, and depressed right now, and that is the exact opposite of the recipe for a successful team. Whether they know it or not, professionals are hungry for their employers to help them feel normal and plugged-in again. That means employee culture and engagement should be points of emphasis for every business in the coming weeks and months.

Identifying the Best Aspects of Your “Pre-COVID” Culture

It may seem like a long time ago now, but less than three months ago, you had a thriving community sharing a physical space and working towards common goals – some of your team members might even have compared it to being part of a family!

The realities of COVID-19 mean that workplace culture and team atmosphere can’t resume with perfect continuity. With that said, there is the potential to create a new, even stronger community by porting what worked about your previous approach onto new methodologies and emerging best practices in light of COVID-19.

How Do We Figure Out the Best Parts of Our Culture?

Your team members are the best source of information when it comes to which parts of your workplace culture, employee wellness initiatives, and daily perks really make a difference for them. You can get that information through employee culture surveys, which can be blasted out team-wide via email as you plan your return to the office.

If possible, you should do this work in the weeks ahead of your reopen to give your new initiatives the most possible planning time. However, if getting people back into the building is the main priority, you can use the opening weeks of the return to work to gather this data to inform your employee engagement strategy.

What About Employee Mental Health?

Workplace culture and collegiality are crucial to creating a positive work environment that drives work people can be proud about while robustly supporting people’s humanistic and mental health needs to prevent tension, frustration, and burnout.

One of your culture survey’s main goals should be determining what services you were providing that people found really valuable pre-COVID. Did they value seeing their colleagues in contexts other than work? Did they appreciate making time for serious conversations during the work week? What made them go home feeling good about themselves at the end of the day?

What Strengthened the Team?

As the old axiom goes, “teamwork makes the dream work.” While it may sound trite at first, bringing your employees together to create a true team is the difference between having a great approach to human capital management and just being a “job” where people work.

Another main concern of your employee surveys should be to identify what aspects of your pre-COVID-19 approach brought people together to create a more functional, vivacious unit. What made people feel like true colleagues and not just people who worked in the same space? How did you help team members discover, appreciate, and celebrate each other’s strengths? How did you foster an environment where people understood and were not judgmental about their colleagues’ areas of need or weakness?

What Gave People a Sense of Shared Purpose?

If you’ve got people feeling positive about themselves and their work and functioning as part of a thriving team, there’s only one real component left to a great culture: shared goals and purpose.

In order to get your employees reintegrated into the work and making up for lost time, you need to figure out what messages, incentives, and motivational tactics really worked for them. What about your organization or leadership did they find inspirational? What about the nature of your work makes team members feel good about what they’re doing? What approaches to shared success and shared failure spoke to them?

Leveraging Technology to Modify & Modernize

Once you’ve drawn out the aspects of your workplace and employee culture that really worked and inspired excellence, you’ll likely have a long list of activities and approaches that feel like a real challenge to recreate in the context of social distancing.

At first, this can feel discouraging, but luckily, the last few months have seen an explosion of remote communication and interaction platforms that enable us to continue positive community interactions without the risk of viral transmission.

Migrating Physical Interactions Online

Video conferencing and project management platforms have picked up much of the slack during our time away from the office, and they also offer opportunities for employee culture reengagement.

Think of ways you can allow people to “take a walk” to visit friends in other departments for a quick chat like they used to. Provide people with document sharing and collaboration tools that make it just as easy to work together as if you were sitting at the same table. Consider meeting in a text-based chatroom where people have time to think about their responses and process other people’s ideas at their own pace.

All of these are different ways we can use emerging work tools as culture tools as well!

Embracing an Opportunity to Grow & Redefine the Work

It’s important to understand that there will not be a cut and dry way to completely recreate our previous approach to office life and employee culture post-COVID-19. We will need to stay open-minded and identify employee needs in order to find solutions and approaches that support them.

With that in mind, this is an opportunity to grow and redefine what it even means to be a business, a team, and a professional. The new work will be finding ways to continue and extend intellectual and communal closeness without the benefit of physical proximity.

If we stay open minded, remain grounded in what we know works and what employees need, and keep our ears to the ground for the best emerging tools and solutions, we’ll be able to reopen the business space in a powerful way that makes all of us better.

How to Learn More

If you’re an HR professional or business leader looking to guide a successful reopening as COVID-19 continues, be sure to download Launchways’ Complete Return to Work Toolkit. The toolkit provides a variety of checklists and other resources that help you consider reopening from every conceivable angle, including:

  • Recalling furloughed or laid off employees
  • Modifying your physical workspace
  • Best practices for employee safety
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • New policies for meeting, communication, shared space, etc.
  • Bringing people together while distancing