reducing employer costs

Danger: Workplace Ahead

Posted on January 14, 2015. Filed under: reducing employer costs | Tags: , , , , |

In the wake of recent events, particularly the attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris, employers and workers alike are giving more thought to workplace violence. Unthinkable and almost unprecedented, an assault by those with no connection to the workplace is rare. However, approximately two million people throughout the U.S. are victims of non-fatal violence at the workplace, and the Department of Justice has found violence to be a leading cause of fatal injuries at work, with about 1,000 workplace homicides each year.

Workplace violence, defined as “any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site” is on the rise. Among co-workers it presents itself in many forms including:

  • concealing or using a weapon;
  • physical assault upon oneself or another person;
  • property damage;
  • intimidation;
  • harassment or stalking,
  • physical aggression (shaking fists, kicking, pounding on desks, punching a wall, angrily jumping up and down, screaming at others);
  • verbal abuse including profane and vulgar language; and
  • threats (direct or indirect), whether made in person or through letters, phone calls, or electronic mail.

Additionally, workplace violence is increasingly domestic in nature, spilling over from the home into places of business where partners are predictably accessible. In this form, it affects both domestic partners and coworkers. Lastly, employees that interact more closely with the public are more at risk. Each year, workplace violence costs businesses millions of dollars through loss of productivity, diversion of management resources, increased absences, and increased security costs.

It is the role of Human Resources to create and maintain an effective and clearly communicated Workplace Violence Program that assists employees in prevention strategies, fosters a safe and secure workplace environment, assists employees in crisis, and provides a course of action in response to workplace violence. Components of a more comprehensive Workplace Violence Program should include early recognition of warning signs and early intervention, extensive training and education of all workers, and (ultimately) clear guidelines on what to do when an incident occurs. It’s something we don’t want to think about, but can scarcely afford not to.

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Engage Employees, Reduce Expense and Turnover

Posted on October 1, 2014. Filed under: Employee engagement, reducing employer costs | Tags: , , |

If you’ve managed people long enough, you’ve probably experienced an unexpected resignation from a valued and trusted employee. Given some exciting personal development or once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, we often wish them well and graciously accept their journey into newer and greener pastures. But sometimes we’re completely blind-sided by the loss of a colleague making a seemingly lateral move elsewhere.  At these times, we often comb over what we perceived as their level of contentment, looking for missed clues about their satisfaction with the job. However, recent studies suggest that the confusion betweenemployee satisfaction and employee engagement greatly threatens workforce retention.

Search the web, and you’ll be quickly overwhelmed by the literature, and by definitions and measures of both satisfaction and engagement. In the interest of brevity – the former assesses “happiness.” For employees, this typically means that they are surveyed on a wide variety of inwardly focused topics including relationships with co-workers, autonomy, safety,stability, flexibility, benefits, and pay. For employers, fostering happiness sometimes translates into casual Fridays, a great holiday party, or an employee recognition program. However, evidence suggests that even the happiest employee can be wooed, absent an often overlooked and undervalued trait.  If the idea is to retain staff, the better indicator is engagement.

In fact, a recent Gallup Employee Engagement Survey estimates that failure to engage workers costs the US economy 370 billion dollars annually. Unlike satisfaction, engagement measures focus on the commitment of the employee to the employer. Engaged employees are connected to an organization’s goals, know that their ideas and opinions count, and go beyond their job descriptions in fulfilling company objectives. Further, they often feel that their assignments are appropriately matched with what they like to do. Not surprisingly, engaged workers are almost always satisfied as well,and if not, frequently see the bigger picture, placing organizational gain over personal gain. With that said, what are you doing in order to actively involve your team, reduce employee turnover,and control the cost of doing business? It’s time to get engaged!

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