How to Bring Reluctant Employees Back to the Workplace

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June 7th, 2022

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As the pandemic restrictions loosen in severity, many businesses are resuming in-office work hours. However, not all employees are excited to return to the workplace, and their reasons aren’t as clearcut as employers may believe. The following are some illuminating insights into employees’ reluctance to resume onsite work and how to address them.

It’s Easier to Be Productive at Home

Depending on the employee’s home situation, they may have significantly fewer distractions. After all, their house doesn’t have the frequent opportunities for breakroom chitchat or the irritation of difficult coworkers. They also don’t have to contend with the noise that is ubiquitous to most office spaces. With two-thirds of employees reporting greater productivity while working from home, many are asking why they should have to come into the office. Offering work-from-home days can ease the transition back to the office while providing the flexibility and comfort of working from home. Employers can also rearrange their offices to create more effective spaces for quiet, independent work and collaborative work.

Burnout Disguised as Productivity

Employees may feel more productive at home, but it often comes at the expense of longer working hours and increased stress in the home. It’s not always easy to cut off work when it’s always within arm’s reach. The idea of commuting and socializing with colleagues adds an unacceptable layer of stress to burnt-out employees. Employers can take steps to reduce burnout by offering flexible work schedules that match employees’ family and household obligations, implementing wellness programs that focus on employees’ mental health, and encouraging and supporting vacation time.

The Pandemic is Still a Concern

Although COVID restrictions are easing, the threat still looms for many individuals. They or someone they live with may have comorbidities that put them at high risk for severe COVID complications. It’s also significantly different to dine outdoors at a restaurant than it is to thrust themselves into an enclosed space with dozens of colleagues. They can’t be certain if everyone is taking the same precautions as they are, and they’re worried about the health risks. Companies can address this by highlighting their increased sanitation protocols, requiring masks, performing daily health checks, or requiring proof of vaccination/a weekly negative COVID test for all employees.

Addressing employee concerns about returning to work is essential for attendance. Employees are more likely to call out or refuse to return at all if they feel their employer is disregarding their health and wellbeing. Contact the experts at Actec to learn more about mitigating absenteeism as your employees return to the office.

How to Create an Office Environment Employees Will Love

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April 19th, 2022

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FNOLThe pandemic forced many companies to shift to an all-remote staff, but many are returning to the office as the omicron surge wanes. Flexibility and the option to telework are here to stay, and employees are likely to divide their time between the office and at home. However, employees have grown used to their home offices. The layout is to their liking, snacks are readily available, and their productivity is impressive. If their workspace at the office falls short by comparison, they aren’t going to want to be there. It’s also likely to tank their engagement and hinder their work output.

Office spaces should energize and motivate employees rather than leaving them underwhelmed and apathetic. Here are several ideas to cultivate workspaces that employees will love.

Create Collaborative Spaces

Teams need spaces to engage, bounce around ideas, and form a cohesive plan. Depending on the company culture and space availability, employees may prefer to gather on comfortable couches in break rooms, meet at a round table, or book a formal closed-door meeting. Stocking these rooms with tools that inspire creative collaboration (e.g., whiteboards and dry erase markers) can maximize their effectiveness.

Define Quiet Productivity Areas

Many employees struggled with distractions from pets, kids, family members, or other people living in the house while telecommuting. The workplace should seek to eliminate these noisy interruptions for times when employees need to focus. Meeting rooms away from the main office thoroughfare work well for this purpose, or companies can designate a productivity space that discourages phone calls, loud conversations, music, etc.

Design Workspaces with Employee Wellbeing in Mind

Enhanced cleaning protocols became the norm as the pandemic progressed, but companies can do much more to make the workplace a relaxing and supportive environment. Dark workspaces can leave employees feeling lethargic and unproductive. Increasing natural lighting in workspaces does wonders for employees’ happiness and engagement. Companies can achieve this with easy and cost-effective changes, such as moving workspaces to well-lit areas, adding mirrors to reflect the light, or using bright lights that mimic natural sunlight if it isn’t possible to rearrange the office layout. Eliminating clutter can also improve employees’ moods, as visual clutter often overwhelms employees and increases their stress.

The change to exclusively telecommuting happened quickly, and employees had little time to adjust. Businesses have much more control over the return-to-office process. Creating a workspace that employees want to use doesn’t have to be grand or cost prohibitive. Simple changes to layout and lighting can improve employees’ mood, productivity, and desire to go to the office.

The office setting needs to support employees’ creativity, productivity, and mental wellbeing. If their home offices are better equipped, companies may struggle to transition their workforce back into the workplace. Contact the experts at Actec to learn more about what influences employee attendance and how you can improve it.

4 Simple Steps to Improve Employee Attendance and Engagement

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April 5th, 2022

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absence reporting

COVID-19 has forever altered the concept of business as usual. Many businesses transitioned to a remote workforce at the onset of the pandemic. Now, some are reopening their offices, but employees expect to have continued flexibility. The pandemic isn’t over, and employees may still need flexible hours or the option to work remotely should COVID affect their household.

Employees’ mental health has also become a top priority for companies. Businesses are implementing several changes to reflect this trend, such as:

  • Offering mental health days
  • Adding mental health services to insurance plans
  • Encouraging employees to stay home when they feel unwell
  • Increasing PTO

Employee burnout is at an all-time high, and ignoring their mental health or work-life balance needs can lead to disengagement and rampant absenteeism. Consider implementing the following trends to sustain attendance and productivity:

  1. Remove the stigma of using PTO. Many employees feel like they can’t use their PTO without repercussions unless they give ample notice, such as taking time off for vacations. However, employees can’t predict mental health challenges or burnout. Fostering a culture that encourages employees to use PTO when they need it can help employees rest when they need to and return to work refreshed.
  2. Focus on employee retention. Many companies expend considerable energy on continually improving the customer experience, and employees deserve that same courtesy. Companies that consistently recognize their employees’ value and efforts experience greater employee loyalty and less absenteeism.
  3. Trust employees. Employees resent micromanagement, particularly while dealing with the stressors introduced by the pandemic. Provide clear productivity expectations and deadlines, but trust employees to manage their schedules. Companies can ensure projects stay on track by monitoring employees’ work output rather than scrutinizing or dissecting their work hours.
  4. Invest in absence management software. Absence management software helps businesses identify attendance trends and unusual absences. Employers can use this information to implement data-driven changes to improve attendance and employee engagement.

Actec understands the attendance challenges businesses are facing as the pandemic continues to affect business operations. Our self-service absence-tracking mobile app captures all attendance data without the need to contact multiple departments or managers. Employees can also use the app to submit leave requests, either by phone, text, chat, or within the app itself. Contact us to discuss your absence reporting and tracking needs.

Benefits of Fostering a Culture of Workplace Wellness

Posted on

December 28th, 2021

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Mental health difficulties aren’t personal problems that employees can deal with off the clock. Stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues have far-reaching effects. Workplace stress compounds these issues, which can lead to burnout, poor productivity, and absenteeism. Here are some of the benefits companies reap when they support employees’ mental and emotional wellbeing:

  1. Employee motivation and productivity improve. Depressed, stressed, or burnt-out employees don’t perform to the best of their ability. Their work quality may suffer, or they may finish significantly less work than usual. Employees that feel supported by their employer are happier and more productive.
  2. They attract top-tier talent. Employees talk, and the internet is rife with company workplace reviews. Businesses that show they care about their employees’ wellbeing attract highly qualified candidates for open positions, which gives them an edge on the competition.
  3. Employees are more loyal. The modern workplace experiences a much higher rate of employee turnover than it did in previous decades. Employees change jobs for several reasons, and many are outside their employers’ control. For example, employees may quit because their spouse’s job requires them to move, or they may quit because they want a shorter commute. However, employers can control their company culture. Employees are less likely to look for a new job if they’re happy and feel supported by their company.
  4. They have a better reputation. A company’s reputation goes beyond how employees feel about their employer. Consumers want to support companies that take care of their employees, and they will take their business elsewhere if they believe an organization doesn’t treat its people with compassion.
  5. Employees take fewer mental health-related absences. Employees that struggle with mental health issues are more likely to take sick days. Their mental health symptoms can make it impossible to work or siphon away their motivation. Companies that offer mental health support for their employees help cultivate a happier work environment. Happier and less-stressed employees are much less likely to call out of work due to their mental health.

Employee absenteeism is rarely random or without cause. If employers notice a once-reliable employee is arriving late, leaving early, or not showing up at all, that employee may be suffering from mental health challenges. Offering mental and emotional wellness support can reverse the absenteeism trend. Contact the experts at Actec to learn more about preventing absenteeism in the workplace.

How to Improve Employee Engagement with SMART Goals

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October 5th, 2021

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Every company has big-picture goals, but it’s not always a straightforward matter to achieve them. Managers may struggle to keep employees engaged, or employees may not understand their role in the process. Team- or company-wide goals are easy enough to grasp, but how to accomplish them becomes murky when broken down to the employee level. Using the SMART approach to setting goals can cut through this confusion and allow employees to engage with their work to the best of their ability.

Understanding SMART Goals

The SMART method isn’t a new concept, but many businesses fail to keep it in mind when setting goals. The SMART criteria are Specific, Measurable, Achievable/Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Using these elements allows companies to create measurable goals that outline what employees or teams need to accomplish on a specific timeline. The SMART approach also allows companies to provide clear markers of success, whether it’s a certain number of sales or a percentage increase in customer engagement because they can track the results.

  • S: Specific goals eliminate confusion by providing details on what the objective is, what team or employee is responsible for it, and what steps those individuals need to take next.
  • M: Measurable goals are much easier to quantify because they have data to examine. If a company sets a goal to increase social media engagement, it also needs to identify benchmarks of success. One additional customer comment compared to the month before technically constitutes an increase, but it’s not likely what the company had in mind. Setting measurable targets eliminates confusion on what counts as success.
  • A: Unrealistic goals will leave employees frustrated and destroy productivity. When companies reach this point in goal setting, they need to take a hard look at the feasibility of the goal. If the goal is too demanding or big in scale, employees will struggle to achieve it.
  • R: Employees won’t understand the point of a goal if it lacks relevancy. This part of the method explains why the goal is important to the company’s long-term success and how employees contribute to that end.
  • T: Employees need to know the timeline for achieving their goals. If they aren’t clear on when tasks are due to keep the goal on track, they’ll struggle to distribute their workload effectively. Similarly, if the timeline is too short, employees won’t be able to produce the quality of work required for true success.

When employees understand their role and tasks, why it matters, and what management expects of them, their productivity increases exponentially. Without knowing these things, they’re likely to flounder and disengage from their work. Disengaged employees don’t see the importance of what they do and are much less motivated to do their work. This kind of thinking can result in absenteeism, poor workplace morale, and lost profits. Contact the experts at Actec to learn more about improving employee engagement and attendance.

How to Reduce Employee Turnover with Better Onboarding

Posted on

September 14th, 2021

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The employee onboarding process has far-reaching effects within an organization. Effective onboarding improves productivity, boosts employee retention, and reduces absenteeism. If a company is struggling to retain its workforce, an ineffective onboarding experience may explain the churn of new hires.

Onboarding and Productivity

An unsatisfactory onboarding experience can hinder productivity and diminish a new hire’s performance. On average, it takes eight months for a new employee to reach their full productivity potential. Unclear objectives are part of the reason for such a long timeline to proficiency, as 60% of organizations don’t set goals for new employees. Meanwhile, 35% of companies lack an onboarding process altogether, while 63% don’t extend the onboarding process beyond the new employee’s first month with the company. Most organizations stop the onboarding process after just one week.

The focus of the onboarding process often compounds the productivity problem as well. Fifty-eight percent of companies report that their onboarding process concentrates on paperwork and administrative tasks rather than helping new employees learn their job. In addition, one-third of employees experience inconsistent or reactive onboarding. The result of these issues is a discouraged employee without a clear understanding of their role.

Onboarding and Employee Retention

Replacing an employee is a costly process. Businesses must spend money on recruitment, training, benefits, and more. It can take up to half a year or more to see a return on investment with a new hire, so companies can’t afford to have a retention problem.

Studies have shown onboarding has a direct correlation with how long an employee will stay with their company. One-fifth of employee turnover occurs within their first 45 days on the job, and nearly a quarter of new hires leave within the first year of their employment. In contrast, 69% of employees are more likely to remain at their organization for three years if they have a satisfactory onboarding experience. In addition, 58% of employees are more likely to stay at their job beyond three years if their company has an efficient onboarding program.

Onboarding and Absenteeism

An employee’s onboarding experience sets the tone for their tenure with an organization. A great experience improves retention by 82%, while a poor one makes new hires twice as likely to seek alternate employment. However, turnover isn’t the only problem associated with poor onboarding. A negative onboarding experience can leave new hires disengaged and unmotivated to perform. Unhappy employees are more likely to have attendance problems, such as arriving late, leaving early, or failing to show up to work at all.

If productivity is lagging or turnover is surging among a company’s new hires, their onboarding process may be to blame. Problems with attendance are often an early warning sign that an employee is dissatisfied and considering looking for a new job. Tracking the frequency and type of absences can help companies identify struggling new hires. Businesses can use this information to offer new hires support and reduce the likelihood of turnover. Contact the experts at Actec to learn more about our absence reporting solutions.

What is a Sick Day for Remote Employees?

Posted on

August 3rd, 2021

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The pandemic altered every business regardless of industry or size. Companies assembled their plans for a remote workforce and found new ways to operate when states began issuing stay-at-home orders. Part of this challenge was determining how to handle leave requests and attendance.

Why Are Remote Employees Working While Ill?

Working from home blurred the line between work and personal time, particularly for employees that don’t have a dedicated office. It made it easy to work outside of usual hours and increased the perception of always being available. Even before the pandemic, many employees would come to work while ill or return to work before fully recovering. Some of this is because many employees fear judgment from their colleagues or employers if they call out sick. Others feel the pressure to always be available to their customers.

How COVID-19 Changed Sick Days

The pandemic has further complicated what it means to take a sick day. In a traditional office setting, employees should stay home when ill to prevent spreading illness. Now that they’re already in their home, many feel guilty for requesting a sick day. One survey found that almost half of employees believe other illnesses are insignificant compared to COVID-19. Two-thirds of the respondents believe their employer would frown upon any employee who takes a sick day for anything less severe than COVID-19.

The Cost of Presenteeism

Presenteeism, working while ill, comes with a hefty cost. Productivity decreases nearly threefold when employees work while ill or in pain. They’re also more likely to need to take a sick day if they work while ill, further tanking efficiency.

Many businesses have responded by offering more paid time off during the pandemic or implementing personal days. Other companies are tackling the issue with a shift in company culture. They’re training management to be empathetic when an employee requests sick leave. They’re hoping to shift the perception that the company leadership wants their employees to get better for their health rather than to get back to work quickly.

The pandemic made all aspects of running a business harder than before, and managing attendance is no exception. Contact the experts at Actec to learn how our absence tracking mobile app can simplify absence management during the pandemic.

4 Ways to Help Employees Struggling with Burnout

Posted on

July 6th, 2021

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The ongoing pandemic has drastically altered how many businesses operate. Some are 100% remote, while others are taking a hybrid approach as the outlook on COVID-19 improves. These changes have forced many employees to adapt quickly. Employees who work from home have to juggle their family’s needs with their work responsibilities. Others have had to take on more duties or learn new technology to meet deadlines in a remote work environment.

Unsurprisingly, these factors have resulted in skyrocketing rates of stress, depression, and anxiety among employees. Businesses can use the following strategies to help employees struggling with burnout:

  1. Provide value-based rewards. Performance-based rewards have their place, but their primary goal is to encourage employees to work harder. By nature, they’re more likely to worsen burnout than to alleviate it. Employees need to know they have value as a person beyond their work productivity. To put it another way, they need to feel like they are more than a cog in the business machine. Some value-based rewards include gift cards, bonus paid leave, or closing the office early without requiring a performance benchmark.
  2. Avoid knee-jerk penalties. Many companies have systems in place that trigger punitive action automatically, such as an attendance policy. For example, the first tardy arrival may result in a verbal warning, the second a written warning, and so on. However, this practice doesn’t consider the why when it comes to employee attendance. Instead, companies should take a holistic view of the employee’s past attendance record. If that individual is usually punctual, the company should investigate to gain context for the situation. Burned-out employees may not feel comfortable bringing up the issue, and automatic penalties will only worsen the issue.
  3. Take mental health seriously. It’s much harder to remain abreast of employees’ mental health in a remote environment. Managers have less face time with their teams, and tone doesn’t convey over text. Companies can take several steps to show they care about their employees’ mental health while respecting their privacy. For example, managers can send anonymous surveys to gauge employee wellbeing. Using a simple rating system of 1-10 can provide easy-to-track data to identify trends. Companies can also hold meetings to teach employees how to cope with stress, handle problems at home, and manage work challenges.
  4. Reevaluate company culture. If an organization consistently emphasizes output over the individual, it’s creating an environment ripe for burnout. Some elements of company culture are carved in stone, but many are easy to change. Some examples include setting longer deadlines, improving or changing communication styles, or reducing workloads by hiring more staff.

Employee burnout goes beyond their workload. Emotional and mental fatigue take their toll as well. Failing to address stress within the workplace will lead to increased turnover, reduced productivity, and rampant absenteeism. To learn more about reducing absenteeism in the workplace, contact the experts at Actec.

Integrated Absence Strategies to Control Costs and Reduce Risk

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June 21st, 2021

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Large corporations commonly realize tangible operational improvements utilizing a cohesive absence management strategy. A few of the notable benefits include cost reduction, improved employee communication, and increased productivity. But large corporations aren’t the only organizations that silo their absence management, disability programs, and other human resource tasks. Whether you’re an organization of 100 employees or 10,000, separating HR functions can lead to:

 

  • Duplicate forms required to satisfy regulatory requirements (more work)
  • Inefficiencies in returning employees to work after their leave expired (wasted labor)
  • HR staff struggling to track all the different types of leave (wasted time, increased risk)

These inefficiencies also lead to drop in their revenue. Numerous organizations have merged their absence reporting and absence management with disability management in order to coordinate claims tracking, integrate lost time data, and implement best practices across all HR operations. The result:

  • A reduction in overall costs
  • An understanding of employee leave and absence drivers
  • A company-wide increase in productivity

Another step in this integration process was to establish a centralized reporting center. The call center offers employees a phone number that will connect them with a representative capable of tracking all absence types and answering any absence-related questions. You don’t have to be a large corporation to leverage an integrated absence management program. Contact the experts at Actec to learn what an integrated call center can do for your business.

4 Reasons Why Your Employees Are Sick Despite Safety Precautions

Posted on

June 8th, 2021

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absence reportingMost companies implemented health and safety measures as COVID restrictions began to ease, and work could resume in person. However, many organizations are struggling to keep their employees healthy despite these precautions. The reasons driving these illnesses are surprising but simple to fix. The following are some common areas where contagion easily spreads amongst employees:

  1. Clocking in and out for the day. Physical or in-person time clocks require employees to use a communal system. With so many hands punching, swiping, or scanning, germs can easily spread. Such systems also result in queues while employees wait their turn.
  2. Paper schedules. Companies with shift workers or part-time employees may try to save time by posting the weekly schedule in a common area, such as a breakroom. However, this forces employees to congregate or come to work when off the clock to find out their schedule for the week. Scheduling apps eliminate this contact point while keeping employees up to date on their shifts.
  3. In-person meetings. Whether it’s a walking meeting or a planned conference, gathering in person increases the risk of sharing germs across entire teams or departments. While some meetings do require face-to-face interactions, companies should hold virtual meetings whenever possible.
  4. In-person scheduling requests. Organizations that don’t have an electronic system in place for leave requests have an increased risk of spreading contagion between staff members. In-person and paper-based systems pose a threat, as staff members must congregate in close quarters as well as handle leave request documents. Digital leave requests eliminate the person-to-person interaction and are much easier to track.

The pandemic has put a spotlight on how companies conduct business and what steps they take to keep their employees and customers healthy. Switching to a digital system can help eliminate many of the above problems, which helps to reduce absences and improve productivity. Contact the experts at Actec to learn more about reducing absenteeism and managing leave requests with our absence tracking mobile app.