More Northeast Ohio Employers Planning Holiday Parties This Year

The 2011 ERC Holiday Practices Survey, which surveyed 152 Northeast Ohio organizations, shows that more employers in Northeast Ohio (73%) are coordinating holiday parties when compared to 2009 and 2010, with most respondents budgeting the same as the preceding year.

Additionally, more organizations are having their holiday parties at an external location and are catering them this year. More employers are also providing alcohol and entertainment at their holiday parties, and inviting employees’ significant others and spouses to the events compared to the past few years.

The percentage of organizations serving alcohol at their holiday parties has significantly increased from 25% in 2009 to 40% in 2011. In this same time period, 29% more Northeast Ohio employers are having their holiday party catered, 32% more organizations plan to hold their party at an external location, and 14% more employers are inviting employees’ significant others or spouses to the parties.

Ways to Thank Employees This Holiday

For many employers, 2011 culminated in greater success than the preceding years and the holidays are an ideal time to show appreciation to your employees for that success.

Think back on 2011 and hopefully a great deal of achievements, accomplishments, and successes happened at your organization. Many of those would not have been possible without the efforts of your employees, those in the front lines every day servicing your customers and building your products. Each of your employees played a critical role in how your financials play out on December 31.

So whether you hold a celebration or offer time off work, gifts, or other gestures of thanks, it’s critically important to make the time and regard each your employee’s efforts and accomplishments. They are the people who made your success happen in 2011. Here are some ideas.

Coordinate a holiday party or event.

Providing a holiday party or gathering for your employees is a special way to show appreciation to your staff around the holidays. Nearly three-quarters of local employers coordinate a holiday party for their employees. These events are usually luncheons or evening parties held on a Thursday or Friday, and typically use external locations and caterers to host the parties – such as local restaurants, country clubs, or hotels. Some employers even invite employees’ spouses, significant others, and/or children.

Host a pre-holiday team-building activity.

This could be a departmental or team luncheon, fun activity, retreat, or a community service event. The end of the year is a great time to bring departments and teams together to discuss the past year, celebrate accomplishments, and/or continue to build the team. Encourage each of your managers to spend time with their team as a whole. It doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming, but should strengthen team dynamics and relationships to get the New Year started on the right foot.

Start a holiday tradition.

Traditions are an important part of your organization’s culture that makes your organization unique. If your organization doesn’t already have a holiday tradition, it may consider starting one. Perhaps it’s a family holiday party, a Secret Santa exchange, an annual breakfast, or an office decorating day.

Recognize and reward this year’s best.

There’s no question that some of your employees contributed in greater ways to your organization’s success than others, and if your organization hasn’t done so already, it should plan to recognize and reward those top performers. Perhaps these individuals include employees who have worked especially hard on a strategic project, those that exceeded their goals or contributed most to the organization’s profitability, or those that introduced a new innovation or initiative to the organization. Make a short list of your top contributors and provide them a special reward this holiday, preferably publicly.

Provide an extra day off (or two).

One of the best gifts you can give your employees is extra time with family and friends and a bit more work/life balance. Provide the opportunity for some time off work, either through extra paid holidays provided by the company, additional paid time off, early-releases, holiday breaks, reduced schedules, or more flexible work. Also keep in mind that the majority of employers plan to provide paid days off for the days surrounding the holidays.

Make a personal gesture of thanks.

Encourage managers (and ideally your CEO or top management team) to write notes to employees, provide personalized telephone calls, or meet with them individually to thank them for their contributions. These personal gestures can go a long way in showing gratitude to employees for their efforts and accomplishments.

Give a gift.

Small gifts or cash/gift cards are a great way to show you appreciate employees. About half of employers provide holiday gifts to their employees. The most common gift given to employees is a general gift card. Some employers, however, provide hams/turkeys, gift baskets, logo items, clothing items, and candy. You may choose to get even more creative with your gifts and vary them from year to year. Be sure that immediate supervisors or top managers distribute these gifts.

…or gifts that keep giving.

By these we mean the things that many employees are looking for this year – beyond just a gift card. Perhaps it’s a new opportunity, a raise, or a promotion. Survey after survey shows that compensation, advancement, and career development rank high on employees’ “wish lists” this year. You’ll find that these “gifts” truly will keep on giving when they improve your employees’ motivation, engagement, and happiness at work in the new year.

Provide a few perks to help save them money.

Finally, the holidays can stretch employees’ wallets, so any way your organization can save its employees money will be appreciated. Discount programs, convenience services, and free benefits are all perks you can introduce to your employees this holiday season. Plus, ERC offers several employee discounts that are available to your employees through your membership. Click here to learn more.

This holiday, remember to thank the people that made your organization successful this past year by showing a few gestures of appreciation.

Additional Resources

Holiday Benchmarking Surveys 

Benchmark your holiday practices and paid holidays your organization offers by downloading our holidays surveys: the ERC Holiday Practices Survey and ERC Paid Holiday Survey.

Discounts on Catering
Need a caterer for your upcoming holiday party? Consider using ERC’s Preferred Partner, Food for Thought, which provides discounted delivery fees on catering services to ERC members within certain geographical areas.

Team-Building
Build your team this holiday season! The end of the year or beginning of the next is a common and great time to gather your team together for a team-building event, activity, or training to ensure that your team is ready to execute for the New Year.

View ERC's Holiday Practices and Paid Holiday Survey Results

These surveys report on which holidays Northeast Ohio organizations plan to observe as well as holiday parties, gift giving, and more ideas for the holiday season.

View the Results

100+ Workplace Ideas: Celebrations, Parties, & Gatherings

100+ Workplace Ideas: Celebrations, Parties, & Gatherings

There are many ways to celebrate and gather in the workplace, not limited to just the holidays. Many workplaces come together to celebrate retirements, birthdays, anniversaries or tenure, office changes, employee or organizational accomplishments, among others.

Workplace celebrations and gatherings are important for many reasons. For one, they bring your staff together, allow them to socialize with one another more informally, and often help build and strengthen relationships. Second, they enhance the culture of a workplace, making it fun and enjoyable. Third, celebrations and gatherings provide a means of recognizing personal and workplace achievements and milestones and showing appreciation for them in a public manner.

We’ve compiled a robust collection of 100+ ideas for reasons to celebrate, ways to celebrate, and local places to celebrate with your employees throughout the year.

Ideas for reasons to celebrate or gather with employees

  • Holidays
  • Retirements
  • Birthdays
  • Graduations
  • Promotions
  • Anniversaries or tenure
  • New babies or adoptions
  • New year or end-of-year
  • Major project kick-offs, milestones, or completions
  • Office changes (new office, renovations, major improvements, etc.)
  • Beginning of or end of a busy season
  • Employee appreciation/recognition
  • Employee, team, and/or organizational achievements
  • Company anniversary
  • Team-building
  • Charitable causes
  • Break from work

Ideas for ways to celebrate and gather with employees

  • “75” days of celebration to celebrate “75” years in business
  • Annual employee appreciation day
  • Apple picking
  • Baby showers
  • Beach parties
  • Black-tie galas
  • Boating or cruise events
  • Bonfires
  • Bowling nights
  • Breakfast with Santa
  • Breakfasts or luncheons with the President
  • Bus trips or excursions
  • Busy-season kick-off and/or wrap-up parties
  • Cake parties
  • Carnivals
  • Casino, card, or poker nights
  • Charitable walks or runs
  • Chili cook-offs
  • Christmas in July
  • Cinco-de-Mayo parties
  • Clam bakes
  • College logo days
  • Comedy clubs
  • Company picnics
  • Company-paid staff vacations
  • Cook-offs
  • Cookouts
  • Corn-hole tournaments
  • Coworker trivia
  • Crazy hat or shirt days
  • Cultural/ethnic celebrations
  • Day at the spa
  • Day at the zoo, park, or amusement park
  • Desert decorating contests
  • Desk decorating parties (holidays, birthdays, etc.)
  • Dessert parties
  • Dinner at the President’s house
  • Dinner with live band or DJ and dancing
  • Dinner-dances
  • Easter egg hunts
  • Employee talent shows
  • Fall fests
  • Family fests with activities, contests, and entertainment
  • Field days
  • Fundraisers
  • Gift exchanges or white elephant parties
  • Gifts or celebrations for Mothers Day and Fathers Day
  • Golf outings and scrambles
  • Halloween costume contests
  • Halloween decorating contests
  • Hayrides
  • Ice cream socials and ice cream truck visits
  • Indians, Browns, and Cavaliers opening day celebrations
  • Internal happy hours
  • Karaoke events
  • Laser tag
  • Limo service to luncheons/dinners
  • Local sporting events
  • Local theatre or plays
  • Luaus
  • March Madness events
  • Mid-winter slump events
  • Monthly potluck birthday parties
  • Movie nights
  • National food days
  • Night at the races
  • Nintendo Wii contests or tournaments
  • Office putt-putt
  • Office Thanksgiving luncheons or potlucks
  • Office trick-or-treating for employees’ children
  • Open-houses
  • Paintball
  • Paper airplane contests
  • Pinewood derby
  • Pizza parties
  • Potlucks
  • Raffles
  • Retirement parties
  • Salad bar lunches
  • Scavenger hunts
  • Scrapbooking parties
  • Service award parties
  • Shopping days for the holidays
  • Silent auctions
  • Skits
  • Snow days (tobogganing, sledding, skiing, and/or ice skating)
  • Soup sampler days
  • Special employee weeks or days (administrative professionals, nurse’s week, maintenance day, etc.)
  • Sports tournaments (flag football, softball, basketball, soccer, volleyball, etc.)
  • St. Patrick’s Day festivities (catered corned beef lunch, parade watching, etc.)
  • Staff off-site retreats
  • Surprise fun days (go to the movies, etc.)
  • Tailgates
  • Take your children to work days
  • Take your parents to work days
  • Theme parties
  • Ugly sweater holiday parties
  • Visits from Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny
  • Wear your sweats to work day
  • Wedding showers
  • Weekend trips to Kalihari or Put-in-Bay
  • Whirleyball
  • Wine and cheese tasting

Ideas for local venues for your celebrations

  • Akron Aeros Canal Park
  • Akron Zoo
  • Blossom Music Center
  • Cadillac Ranch
  • Cedar Point
  • Cleveland Botanical Gardens
  • Cleveland Browns Stadium
  • Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
  • Country Clubs
  • Dave and Busters
  • Edgewater Park
  • Goodtime III
  • Hale Farm
  • Hilarities Comedy Club
  • Hotels
  • House of Blues
  • Kalahari
  • Kennywood
  • Lake County Captains Classic Park
  • Nautica Queen
  • Playhouse Square
  • President of the Company’s Home
  • Progressive Field                                                   
  • Put-in-Bay
  • Quail Hallow
  • Renaissance Hotel
  • Restaurants
  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
  • Seven Springs
  • Shorby Club
  • Swings N Things
  • The Q
  • Waldameer Water World
  • Whisky Island
  • Windows on the River

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What to Do When Violence Comes to Work

An estimated 2 million employees each year are victims of workplace or domestic violence, according to OSHA. Employers have a responsibility to prevent and mitigate issues of workplace violence, which also include domestic violence. These issues can cause problems that organizations can’t afford to ignore if not prevented or managed.

Workplace Violence

Workplace violence is defined by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) as any physical assault, threatening behavior, or verbal abuse that occurs in a work setting. Violence can also include intimidation, harassment, or damaging acts to an organization’s resources or capabilities. The majority of workplace violence (85%) occurs by criminal intent by individuals that have no affiliation with the business, according to the NIOSH. Under 15% of incidents are perpetrated by other employees, clients/customers, or individuals with a relationship to an employee in the business. This suggests that many incidents of workplace violence are caused by individuals outside of the business. In light of these facts, here are a few ways you can mitigate and manage the effects of workplace violence:

1. Create and enforce a policy.

Combating workplace violence begins with making it a priority for your business to keep employees and your resources safe, expressing zero-tolerance for violent words and acts, and having a plan and procedure in place when violent acts do happen. Employees and supervisors also need to be trained and educated on how to deal with potentially violent situations as part of enforcing your policy.

2. Respond to threats.

Take reasonable steps to protect your workforce and respond to threats, reports of threats, and suspicious activity whether these come in the form of actual observable behaviors or oral/written remarks made to the target or indirectly made to another individual.  Evaluate every threat seriously and investigate it.

3. Assess your outside risks.

Evaluate your external risks, such as public access to your building, how visitors are screened, lighting in parking lots, entry-systems, and emergency procedures. Consider offering escort service to the parking lot, providing video surveillance, hiring security guards, or using metal detectors to catch suspicious risks before they enter your workplace.

4. Address internal conflicts.

You may not be able to always control violent acts that come from outside of your workplace, but you do have the means to control what happens in your workplace. Ensure that conflicts between employees do not get out of hand and are promptly addressed and mediated if necessary. Don’t take assaults or harassment lightly. Train employees on how to control hostile and aggressive behavior if you have had incidents in the past. Teach supervisors how to remain calm in emotional situations and regain control of the environment.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence can also hurt your workplace when violence at home spills over into work. This form of violence is often a hidden workplace threat which affects mostly women. In fact, nearly 1 in 3 females are physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at least one time in their lives according to the Commonwealth Fund, suggesting that domestic violence is likely affecting or has affected at least one of your employees. Unfortunately, victims of domestic violence are frequently afraid to reveal these issues to their employers, but by not doing so can pose serious threats to the organization. Here are some ways you can mitigate and manage the effects of domestic violence on your workplace:

1. Recognize the signs.

If the situation is not disclosed to you, it’s important to recognize the signs of a problem, especially if it is impeding performance, productivity, or the employee’s well-being. Watch for signs of withdrawal behavior, low self esteem, oversensitivity, performance or attitude shifts, unusually fearful or anxious responses to situations, and frequent injuries or scars as possible signs of a problem at home. There may also be more overt signs of abuse, such as indications of unhealthy possessiveness or harassment by a significant other.

2. Respond to the employee.

Express concern about your observations in private with the employee, but don’t directly assume that there is a problem. Rather, keep your dialogue open-ended and unassuming (i.e. “I’ve noticed a change in your behavior lately…”). Reassure the employee that the conversation will be confidential and that you are there to help and support them and ensure their safety and well-being. You may also consider working out a temporary flexible work arrangement with the employee to help her cope with her situation.

3. Redirect the employee to people that can help.

Referring employees to proper resources is essential. These resources may include employee assistance programs, personal or medical leave, counselors and medical providers, shelters, or legal resources (such as law enforcement) to help employees get the assistance they need. If the situation poses immediate risks to your employee or organization, you may consider centralizing their phone calls or changing their phone number, moving the employee’s desk or workspace, providing temporary housing, or creating a contingency plan in the event of an emergency. Employers can find other information here to help them deal with domestic violence’s effects on their workplace.

4. Prevent it from happening.

Like workplace violence, the best way to stop domestic violence is to prevent it in the first place by educating employees on ways to protect themselves in violent situations and keep themselves safe either through training, educational literature, or other means. Creating a domestic violence policy is also another way you can proactively ensure employees’ safety. Such a policy may include:

    • A definition of domestic violence
    • Promise of confidentiality
    • Who employees should tell if they are being abused
    • How absences and/or temporary relocation will be handled
    • If and when employees can use leave for domestic violence
    • Certification process for leave (if needed or required)
    • Process by which employees can obtain services or assistance via the company

Like it or not and as uncomfortable as these issues may be, workplace and domestic violence are key issues that could or may already be affecting your workforce, their productivity, performance, and safety. The best way to stop workplace or domestic violence is to prevent it in the first place. This starts with identifying risks, implementing policies and procedures, and providing education and the resources that your employees can access to help themselves stay safe.  There’s no greater gift you can provide your employees than the ability to keep themselves safe this holiday season. You may just save a life.

Additional Resources

Preferred Partner: Ease@Work

ERC’s Preferred Partner, Ease@Work, provides employee assistance services to companies throughout Ohio with employees throughout the United States. Their services provide counseling and critical incident support to your employees in times of need. Any ERC member is offered one free management consultation regarding how to handle a sensitive employee issue.

Manufacturers More Likely to Address Workplace Violence & Bullying

 According to the 2011 NorthCoast 99 Winners Report, a higher percentage of manufacturers addressed workplace violence or bullying in their employee handbooks compared to other industries. Eighty percent of NorthCoast 99 winners in the manufacturing industry reported having a workplace violence or bullying policy, compared to 68% of winners overall.

Only half of winners in the finance, legal, and management services industry acknowledged having a workplace violence or bullying policy in their employee handbook. In the health and human services industry, 60% of NorthCoast 99 winners addressed violence or bullying, while 69% of winners in the marketing, technology, and architectural industry reported having a workplace violence or bullying policy.

Workplace violence and bullying are serious issues that can occur anywhere and at any time, but some work environments are more susceptible to violence and bullying. Work environments that have more exposure to external visitors, conflict, or stress are generally more prone to violence and bullying. Employers in these types of organizations must address violence and bullying early on by implementing policies and procedures and providing training and education that support a safe place to work.

For more information or to purchase NorthCoast 99 Winners Reports, please click here.

Bullying in the Workplace

Employers Continue to Be Challenged with Attracting & Retaining Employees

According to the results of the 2011 ERC/Smart Business Workplace Practices Survey, hiring and retaining employees is the most prominent challenge faced by Northeast Ohio organizations. 

Results of the survey, conducted by ERC in collaboration with Smart Business Magazine, show a trend regarding the recruitment, hiring, and retention of qualified candidates as the top organizational challenge faced by organizations for nearly a decade.  While the poor economy was cited as a primary challenge for employers the from 2009, hiring and retention has emerged once again as the top challenge for local businesses.

Additionally, the survey results show that organizations are investing more in hiring and retaining talent, as a result of this challenge. Specifically, employers reported spending a higher percentage of their recruiting budget on online advertisements (33.7%) and are increasingly using internet job boards to find candidates (77.8%). Also, more employers are providing financial assistance for training and development (90.7%) than in past years.

In recent years ERC has seen an increase in both the use of our member-based resources and our fee-for-service areas related to hiring and retaining employees.  Despite the economy, employers continue to be focused on retention-boosting programs like training, employee development, and employee engagement initiatives.

To access more information about the ERC/Smart Business Workplace Practices Survey, please click here.

More Employers Invest in Training, Survey Says

According to the results of the 2011 ERC/Smart Business Workplace Practices Survey, the percentage of organizations providing employees with financial assistance for employees to upgrade their skills increased from 2008. In 2011, 91% of organizations report providing such assistance – the highest it has been since 2007. 2010 showed that the percentage of employers paying for training and development decreased, but now appears to be rising again.

While employers continue to use classroom training, tuition assistance, and other traditional avenues to develop their employees’ skills, they are increasingly leveraging web-based methods and e-learning for training. Specifically, 71% of respondents indicated that they used web-based training for employee development, a significant increase of 39% from 2007 and 43% since 2004.

“This survey shows that a growing number of organizations recognize the value of providing financial assistance for employees to upgrade their skills. Employee training programs are a vital part of developing and retaining top talent at all levels of an organization,” says Kelly Keefe, President of ERC.

ERC provides customized training courses for organizations across the nation.

Train Your Employees

Most Employers Planning to Provide Paid Holiday on Monday

According to the 2011 ERC Paid Holiday Survey, most Northeast Ohio employers (99%) planned to provide their employees with a paid day off on July 4th, 2011 in observance of Independence Day. 

Monday appeared to be the only day that most employers provided off for the upcoming holiday. In the survey, only 4% of employers planned to provide an additional day off on Tuesday, July 5th, and only 3% of employers planned to provide an additional day off on Friday, July 1st. This trend was consistent across manufacturing, non-manufacturing, and non-profit organizations as well as across employers of various sizes. 

The trend in 2011 is clearer than the preceding years, where more employers opted to provide Friday off in addition to or instead of Monday (or vice versa) when July 4th fell on a weekend day.

HR Guide to Summer in the Workplace

It’s that time of year again. Memorial Day signals the return of warm weather, summer activities, and plenty of HR and workplace issues from enforcing dress code and attendance policies to planning a company outing or event. This is your guide to managing summer in the workplace.

Spell out specifics in your dress code policy.

Dress code tends to become more open to interpretation during the summer (sleeveless tops, open-toed shoes, flip flops, capris, skirts, etc.), so be sure to specify exactly what you mean by “business casual” attire instead of leaving it to the employee’s discretion.  Spell out acceptable and unacceptable types of clothing and shoes (and examples), colors and styles (depending on your industry or type of organization), and specific days or situations that require different attire (such as formal or casual) that the usual. Also, be sure that you apply the dress code policy uniformly and consistently.

Provide flexible scheduling.

Now is an ideal time to remind employees of your attendance policy as issues of consistently coming into work early or late or “calling off” tend to become more of a problem during the summer months. Another way to address this issue is by introducing flexible scheduling options to allow employees to better self-manage their work/life throughout the summer. In the summer, employees are typically faced with greater work/life constraints such as more activities, family obligations, and children home from school. Seasonal perks like flex-time, shorter hours on Fridays, compressed work weeks, and revised work schedules are all offered by some employers during the summer to help employees achieve better balance.

Hire an intern or new graduate.

Another useful way organizations provide relief to their employees during the summer months is by hiring an intern or new graduate. Interns offer a variety of workforce support and assistance with special projects at an affordable cost. They also bring fresh ideas and perspectives, technical knowledge, and a desire to learn. New graduates offer similar capabilities. If you’re not sure where to start in terms of hiring and compensating an intern or new graduate, check out our Intern & Recent Grad Pay Rates & Practices Survey for detailed information about recruiting, hiring, training, engaging, and paying interns and new graduates.

Offer time off from work.

Time off is a common request during the summer with three major holidays (Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day). Be sure to communicate the paid time off your organization intends to provide for these holidays. Consult our Holiday Practices and Paid Holiday Survey for information about which paid holidays employers plan to offer this year.
Additionally, scheduling and coordinating summer vacations requires an efficient and fair process to ensure that employees are able to take time off when desired, but also that the business is able to meet its demands. Here are some common ways organizations effectively coordinate vacations and paid time off:

  • Use a vacation planner or vacation planning system.
  • Create a method for employees to request or “bid” on preferred dates of vacation – such as a vacation request form. Build in supervisory approval.
  • Require employees to schedule time off in advance, but be reasonable about how far in advance they need to schedule.
  • Have employees coordinate vacation time with their coworkers and/or self-manage vacation time.  This helps ensure that “back-ups” exist.
  • Develop policies that specify what criteria will be used to approve vacations (first come, first served, seniority, rotation, etc.).
  • Specify the limits of taking vacation (i.e. people with the same skill set can’t be out at the same time, maximum number of days, etc.).
  • Monitor and take into account other leaves (FMLA, maternity/paternity, sick, disability, etc.).
  • Remind employees that the business’ needs need to come first when scheduling vacations. As an employer, you do have the right to require an employee to postpone a vacation or require advanced notice. If you do promise vacation, however, you may be legally bound to it, according to Ohio law.

Start (or re-energize) your wellness program.

There’s no better time to start or re-energize a wellness program than at the beginning of summer. Summer is an ideal time for employees to get into shape and improve their well-being and the workplace can help them do that. Employees also tend to be more interested in wellness at this time of the year given the nice weather, outdoor activities, and greater availability of fresh and healthy foods. This can boost participation rates which help you keep your workforce healthier and manage the sting of rising health insurance costs. Here are some ideas for your summer wellness program:

  • Introduce a walking program
  • Hold company-wide wellness/fitness competitions, challenges, or team-building functions
  • Coordinate informal pick-up sports at lunch-time or after work
  • Provide fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Hold seminars on nutrition-related topics
  • Encourage employees to go outside during their lunch break, or even hold meetings outside

Plan a company outing or event.

The summer is a great time to plan a company outing or event and many businesses take advantage of the nice weather to spend time informally socializing with their employees.  Outings and events are great opportunities to get to know your staff, show appreciation, and do some team-building. Here are some tips for planning a summer event, provided by ERC’s own event experts:

  • Form a committee. Don’t plan your event alone. Get other employees involved in planning the outing and event and delegate responsibilities.
  • Define the event or outing’s purpose. Is the outing intended to be a social or networking event? Or is it an event that celebrates or recognizes something?
  • Determine the location. Outdoor locations are ideal for summer events, but make sure that the venue fits your audience and the type of event you are creating. A formal event will need a formal setting.
  • Set a date. Identify a couple potential dates and confirm the availability of the location as well as those that need to attend the event. Provide confirmations.
  • Create an agenda or timeline for the event. Lay out the entire event in terms of breaks, activities, meals, etc. and the times that they should take place. Assign roles to people on your committee and have them “own” certain tasks.
  • Communicate details. Be sure that your guests have all the information they need about the event or outing (i.e. location, directions, timing, attire, meals provided, response directions, and contact information).
  • Select food and activities. Make sure these are relevant to the type of event and the people attending, and also consider any dietary restrictions ahead of time. For example, if children will be attending the event, activities and food selections should be fitting.
  • Test-drive the event. Test equipment, walk through the venue, and get familiar with the things you’ll need during the outing. Pretend like you’re the guest.
  • Make it unique. Traditions are great, but try to build an element of surprise into your outing or event to make each year exciting. This could be a new location or venue, different entertainment, or a new giveaway.

Continue to train and guide performance.

Engagement can often become stale in the summer months. That’s why performance management, training, and development should not wane during the summer months. It’s important to keep investing in these practices so employees stay engaged and productive. For example, the summer signals mid-year, which is an ideal time for employees to meet with supervisors to discuss their performance and progress towards goals and objectives set at the beginning of the year. This discussion can help refocus employees on their goals, help establish new projects and objectives, and identify what additional support is needed. Additionally, while many employers refrain from scheduling training during the summer due to vacations, this actually can be an ideal time for training and development – especially if business is slower than normal during this season. 

Have a contingency plan for severe weather.

More severe weather is being predicted for this summer. Be sure that your organization has contingency and disaster recovery plans in place to deal with unexpected power outages, damages, and other issues that severe weather (such as thunderstorms, tornados, flooding, etc.) could cause for your business and its employees.

Prepare for budgeting. 

The summer passes quickly and budgeting will be just around the corner. With most employers planning to provide salary increases this year, it may be worthwhile for your organization to benchmark your employees’ compensation so that you are prepared to make good decisions about market adjustments and compensation increases when budgeting time approaches. Keep a compensation project on your agenda this summer and use our recently published 2011 compensation surveys as resources. Similar to compensation, use the slower summer months to catch up on major HR projects that have been on your to-do list.

The key to managing summer in the workplace is to acknowledge employees’ work/life needs, balance work with fun, and continue to engage.

Additional Resources

Supervisory Series
In the series, participants will gain an understanding of their role as a supervisor as well as employment law as it relates to common supervisory issues. They will also learn how to apply basic managerial and interpersonal skills including dealing with the everyday challenges of being a supervisor, communicating effectively with others, resolving workplace conflict, managing performance, and coaching. Click here

Emerging Leaders
This two-part series covers professional etiquette in and out of the workplace, communication skills, and the traits of a strong leader. It is an ideal course for younger professionals, such as new graduates. Participants will learn tools to present themselves more effectively and enhance their contribution to the organization. Click here.

Compensation Surveys
Get a jump-start on budgeting this summer by benchmarking compensation with our Salary Surveys which provide pay information on nearly 300 jobs that are relevant to all organizations and industries. Click here

5 Common Management Challenges

Communication, management of conflict and performance, and management of potential liabilities are all challenges managers experience. Here are some practical ways to deal with these common management challenges and support and develop your managers.

Communicate.

Managers are frequently not aware of the quality of their communication about expectations, changes, procedures, and other work-related issues, or how their communication or interpersonal style is perceived by their employees. Help managers understand their unique communication and interpersonal style and how to “flex” this style in different situations. Provide managers with communication templates, scripts, tips, or checklists. Engage in role-play or dialogue with the manager to help them practice their skills and identify opportunities for improvement. Additionally, educate managers on common communication breakdowns and how to avoid them and encourage managers to notice signs of communication problems (misunderstandings, consistent performance problems, etc.). When all else fails, provide a personal coach if communication problems persist

Resolve conflict.

Many managers ignore problems and do not address conflicts with their employees or work team directly. Whether these are performance problems, conflicts among team members, issues of trust, or personality clashes, managers are challenged to confront and address problems head-on and as they emerge, diffuse employees’ feelings and emotions about the problem, listen to both parties’ needs and desires, derive win-win solutions that lead to more productive and positive work relations, and prevent conflict in the future by nurturing positive coworker relationships and recognizing potential for conflict or problems early.

Manage performance.

Managers must balance meeting goals, managing workloads, and motivating employees. These issues coupled with the fact that many managers are ill-equipped to provide regular and constructive feedback and may not understand the importance of documenting performance can make managing performance challenging. To support them, build on-going performance feedback into the performance management process to ensure accountability. Create an easy method for managers to document performance like a database, log, or diary. Provide support tools for managers such as rewards, recognition, training, and development to recognize and build performance. Most importantly, train managers in topics such as performance management, coaching, and feedback since many will have had no experience with these.

Handle protected employees.

Most managers are not well-versed in administering ADA, FMLA, and other laws that protect certain groups of employees, but unknowingly find themselves managing an employee that requires an accommodation, leave of absence, or falls into a protected class. These situations need to be handled delicately due to their legal nature, so make managers aware of:

  • Legal basics such as conditions or disabilities that are protected
  • How to determine essential functions and reasonable accommodations
  • Requirements associated with FMLA (eligibility, length of time, etc.)
  • Types of employees that are protected under law (gender, race, national origin, etc.)
  • Hiring and interviewing liabilities (questions to ask/not ask, etc.)

Administer policies fairly and consistently.

One of the most common challenges for managers is treating employees fairly and consistently. A manager may allow policies and rules to be disregarded by some employees and not others – or may disregard employment policies altogether. “Stretching” the rules for some employees can open up a range of potential liabilities and perceptions of bias and favoritism that have negative far-reaching affects in the workplace. Be sure to write clear policies and let managers know when changes have been made. Set clear criteria for making employment decisions, particularly where managers need to distinguish between employees (recognition, reward, development, etc.). Also, clearly differentiate between the policies in which managers have discretion to implement and those in which they do not.

Addressing these management challenges sooner then later can prevent your organization from experiencing many problems and liabilities. It’s never too early to ensure that your supervisors and managers have the skills, tools, and support to do their jobs effectively, so if your supervisor is just starting out, consider developing these important skills as soon as possible.

Additional Resources

Supervisory Series
In the series, participants will gain an understanding of their role as a supervisor as well as employment law as it relates to common supervisory issues. They will also learn how to apply basic managerial and interpersonal skills including dealing with the everyday challenges of being a supervisor, communicating effectively with others, resolving workplace conflict, managing performance, and coaching. Click here to register or click here to learn how we can bring this training on-site to your organization.

Strategic Legal Update
Stay up to date on all of the most recent law and policy news with our blog

Coaching & Performance Management Services
ERC offers a full range of services to support your organization’s performance management activities. We also offer one-on-one coaching services to help your build and develop your manager’s skills. For more information about these services, please contact consulting@yourerc.com.

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