What Policies Should You Review in the New Year?

January 30th, 2015

It’s a new year, and that means a fresh start…which means a general overhaul of the policies and practices that have woven their way into the background of workplace life. Just as we take some time each year to clean out old storage closets and get rid of what we no longer need, we should all be taking a close look at outdated policies and procedures at least once a year. Some of these old practices should be updated, and some should be tossed out or replaced. But you won’t know until you tackle the process and take action. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Start by soliciting feedback.

You should probably be taking this step anyway…and on a regular basis. Distribute anonymous surveys to employees and managers at every level and use the survey questions to gain feedback on company polices and how they’re being received. Ask if there are any policies that stand between the employees and their productivity on the job. Ask if there are policies that seem inappropriate, inefficient, impossible to execute, or impossible to enforce. And of course, request suggestions and alternatives.

Focus on the policies that create the biggest problems.

If you have several policies on the books that aren’t causing any problems and seem to be doing no harm, drop these to the lower end of the priority list. Move the squeakiest wheels to the top. For example, a hand-washing policy that’s being widely ignored will need serious attention in a healthcare or food handling facility. The same applies to a safety policy that’s designed to protect workers from one form of harm, but exposes them to another. Or a response time, dress code, or disciplinary policy that’s being unfairly enforced.

Account for the major workplace changes that have taken place this past year.

Can you quickly list some of the most important ways your workplace has changed between January of 2014 and January of 2015? If your employee population has doubled, your facility has expanded, you lost some of your key decision-makers, or your business model has shifted, then the policies relevant to these things will need to change first.

For specific help as you work to revamp your policies and procedures, contact the staffing and HR experts at PSU.

Recognize and Encourage Happy Workers

January 23rd, 2015

You use your management and coaching skills to encourage hard workers, natural leaders, and employees who consistently do the right thing. If your direct report shows up on time, takes initiative, follows through and pitches great ideas every single day, you go out of your way to reward her efforts. Of course you do. But there’s another aspect of productivity that’s often overlooked in the modern workplace: happiness.

Happy employees who seem content with their circumstances are worth their weight in gold. These workers may not be the ones who stay until midnight, and they may not be the ones who produce the best ideas. But “happiness” is nevertheless an important metric of employee value. Happiness is contagious, for starters. One smiling person can have an uplifting effect on an entire office. And this contagious boost in morale can cause a cascade of other benefits, from a more respectful culture to a greater sense of pride in the organization. So if you have a happy employee in your office, what can you do to reward her for her attitude? How can you keep his light shining? Try these tips.

Smile back.

The first step is easy. Let your employee know that his happiness has an impact on those around him. Let him that know that his happiness makes you happy… and let him know that you appreciate this. Not just on an emotional level, but on a professional level as well. His smile is good for business, and he should be aware of this.

Don’t take her for granted.

If you’re pleased with your happy employee, let her know that you’re standing by to keep this fire burning; you don’t expect her to tend the flame all by herself. Ask her what feeds her good attitude, and find out what you can do to keep that fuel coming. For example, if she enjoys having an opportunity to learn new things every day, make a concerted effort to keep her in motion. Don’t let her tasks stagnate or become repetitive.

Increase her compensation.

Literally raise her salary or provide a monetary bonus at the end of the year simply because of her attitude. Let her know that her happiness factors strongly into this increase. If you can’t provide monetary compensation, offer time off, flexible hours, or other perks and benefits that are worth just as much.

For more on how to recognize, reward, and publically praise your happy employees, contact the staffing and motivation experts at PSU.

Surviving and Thriving on Your First Day

January 16th, 2015

You’ll be starting your new job in just a few days and you’re ready to make a great impression and launch your new relationships on the right foot. But since you don’t yet know these people and you aren’t familiar with the culture of your new workplace, you may have to make some educated guesses and chose your moves carefully. Consider taking the steps below.

Remember names and use them.

On your first day, you’ll have a lot to learn and a lot to remember. But keep the names of your coworkers at the top of your list of priorities. When you’re introduced, repeat the name of each new contact back to them as they share it. Write it down later if this will help you.

Take notes.

Carry a notebook with you (paper or digital) and take notes as your new boss, your mentor, or your coworkers explain aspects of your role and responsibilities. Even if you don’t use these notes very much later on, you’ll make the right impression by showing interest your new job and an eagerness to learn new things.

Seek connection and exposure.

If you aren’t automatically taken to your new boss’s office and introduced to him or her, show some initiative and request this introduction directly. Do the same for other directors, clients and department heads who you know you’ll need to work with in the future. Ask about work flows, processes and software platforms that aren’t shown to you.

Avoid idling.

On your first day, there may be occasions when your services aren’t needed and you don’t have very much to do. But when this happens, don’t stand still. Ask for schedules, look for projects, and keep your hands busy. Make it clear that you didn’t step into the job intending to stand around.

Ask smart questions.

Keep your questions necessary, smart, meaningful, and constant. And remember the answers so you don’t have to ask the same questions over and over again. While you’re working on asking questions only one time, you can also work on keeping your mistakes limited; don’t make the same ones more than once.

For more on how to manage your first day and get your new job off to a great start, reach out to the staffing professionals at PSU.

How to Get the Best Out of your Employees in 2015

January 9th, 2015

As a manager, you probably have plenty of experience with coaching and training models, and you probably know a thing or two about how to motivate, correct, teach, and inspire. You probably encourage your teams—and your managers—to set goals and find ways to follow through on long term plans. But are you applying these same tactics you your own goals and your own plans? Are you content with your current level of success, or are you ready to aim higher? How would you describe your New Year’s resolutions for 2015? If you’re still working on your vision for the year ahead, these suggestions might help.

Focus on leadership.

Set at least one goal related to leadership and your ability to direct and shape the success of those around you. Keep in mind that your own growth and your team’s growth are linked, so as you improve, so will they. Focus on any of several areas: example-setting, motivation, knowledge sharing and teaching, and fair, consistent rule enforcement.

Set goals related to innovation and change.

No system is perfect, and no person is perfect either. No matter how well the status quo works for you, if it isn’t changing, it isn’t growing. Examine every process and find ways to make bad things better and good things great.

Set goals related to workplace culture.

When honestly step back and examine your workplace culture, what do you see? Now think about what you’d like to see. How can blaze a trail from one to the other by the end of the year? Study your staffing plan and make an effort to hire the kinds of candidates that fit your vision. And once you have them on board, find ways to keep them…and find ways to cultivate the traits you want.

Fix problems and squeaky wheels.

You’ve been avoiding an issue because you just don’t like thinking about it or you aren’t sure how to deal with it. In 2015, stop doing this. Saddle up and charge those problems head-on, no matter what they are. (For example, a high-performing but toxic employee who needs to go, or an expensive safety issue that requires an innovative solution.)

For more on how to set clear goals for the year ahead and face them with everything you have, contact the experienced staffing professionals at PSU.

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