DECEMBER & JANUARY SPECIAL DAYS
February 1-5 – International Networking Week, International Hoof Care
(?!) Week, & International
Gas & Other Economic Realities — Try Flexible Work Arrangements
There is no one-size-fits-all model for creative work solutions. Perhaps the best place to start creating policies and procedures is by researching best practices in the literature and among peers at other companies. Here are a few general guidelines:
Set clear expectations. Flexible arrangements call for extra clarity in setting deliverables, objectives and expectations and giving performance feedback. Communication frequency and quality are critical. When managers make their messages explicit, associates will know what is expected and can deliver accordingly.
Communicate honestly. Only 48% of the employers in the Hewitt study provided education and communication about their workplace flexibility programs to all employees. If flexible work arrangements are not managed and communicated well, resentment may arise when some workers are perceived as contributing less, whether that is a reality or not. If some business units or employees enjoy flexible arrangements while others do not, be very clear in communicating the needs of the business and its customers to explain why differences in treatment are necessary. Clear and honest communication also is crucial in recruitment. Companies sometimes make the huge mistake of asserting their support of flexible working arrangements without demonstrating it in action. When a company Web site or job announcements proudly proclaim flexibility, a new hire had better not be told he or she is expected to work 8 to 5 Monday through Friday, without exception.
Invest in technology. Companies that choose to embrace a telecommuter model need to provide wireless laptops and PDAs. Individual employees cannot be expected to purchase these items. Remember, investments in technologies may be small compared to the savings realized from a reduced real-estate footprint or less office equipment.
Consider generational differences. Different generations have different comfort levels using e-work technologies. Older workers may need extra encouragement to use instant messaging and text messaging, which can be second nature among younger workers. If 50-year-old managers are not comfortable communicating with direct reports who are in their 20s using the latest technologies, they may believe flexible arrangements are not working.
Measure success. According to the Hewitt study, 71% of the employers surveyed did not measure the effectiveness of flexible work programs, and only 14% measured results formally. It's important to keep asking which flexible practices contribute to retention and satisfaction and which do not. Further, where a substantial investment in technology has been made, continued measurement of the ROI and benefits of flexible arrangements will ensure these programs can be improved over time.
Giving people the flexibility to work when and where they want is a compelling value proposition. The next step in the evolution of flexible work is for e-work and other alternative work arrangements to replace corporate cubicles that are really just a step above the workhouses of the industrial revolution. Leading companies already are taking advantage of the vast benefits of flexible arrangements as modern society and the rise of the knowledge worker demand that talent managers change how people work and how performance is measured and rewarded.
Excerpted from Talent Management Magazine, September 2008
Modern Day Tribal Wisdom
The tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians, passed on from generation to generation, says that when you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.
In modern education and expanded government, however, a whole range of far more advanced strategies are often employed, such as:
1. Buying a stronger whip.
Employees’ Financial Literacy Boosts Profits
Providing employees the tools to become financially literate about the basics — knowing how to manage personal savings, understand credit, and create a spending plan gives employees confidence, helps improve productivity — both affecting the organization’s bottom line.
"It’s also the right thing to do as stewards of employees' well-being." said E. Thomas Garmen, president of the Personal Finance Employee Education Foundation (PFEEF) he formed in 2006.
He hammered home the value of employee financial literacy during a recent Society for Human Resource Management webcast.
Thirty million U.S. workers say they are seriously financially distressed and dissatisfied with their finances, he said. These "financially unwell workers," he said, are passive, unengaged in their work, confused and anxious about mortgage and college loans, vehicle and credit card payments, and more.
"They need help with paying down their bills," he observed. "Employers often recognize these issues but don't do anything. They're not sure what to do."
"It's about the basics," he said: offering benefits information and education, credit counseling, a credit union, retirement education, financial advice and financial coaching that changes behaviors.
Workplace education programs and advice have been underutilized and employees do not know how to help themselves, Garman said during the presentation.
But he cautioned employers not to offer that advice themselves. Instead, he said, give workers easy access to financial programs and a provider that focuses on the basics.
Demand more from your current financial program providers and insist on a coordinated, quality program that emphasizes a spending plan, credit management and saving, he said. Look at the mix of programs your provider currently offers and try to fill in the gaps with what works best for you, he said.
"Go cautiously and select some providers that will promise, and then deliver on those promises, and let that program grow," Garman advised.
Garman also noted that PFEEF offers free online personal financial wellness planning tools and subsidizes employers' costs of conducting research on financial education. A PDF version of the webcast can be found at www.shrm.org/webcast/08August/garman.pdf.
From HR Magazine, October 2008
How to Design an "Unconference"
by Harrison Owen, consultant and author of "Open Space Technology: A User’s Guide"
I’m looking to shake up our annual franchisee convention and have been
reading about the "unconferences" that seem to be taking off in the
high-tech sector. As I understand it, these events are characterized by the
absence of an agenda — no preprogrammed breakouts or keynotes, and no topics
set in stone. Instead, attendees design their own topics and session agendas
on site. Is it possible to successfully adapt this format to a nontechnical
industry (namely specialty retail, like
Five Essential Ingredients
Open space is appropriate in any situation — retail included — where the following five preconditions are present:
1. A real problem needs to be solved.
2. The problem to be resolved involves high levels of complexity.
3. There are high levels of diversity among the people needed to solve the problem at hand.
4. High levels of conflict (potential or actual) are present.
5. There is an urgent need for resolution.
Even if these preconditions are all present for your retail franchisees, you may encounter some resistance. Every client I have worked with to develop an open-space event always says the same thing: "Harrison, this is a wonderful idea, but it will never work with this group." So how do you sell open space to your stakeholders and attendees? The answer is that I never try. Remember that in most cases people don’t care about the process, they care about results. And the results you can promise them using open space are these: Every single issue that anyone in attendance cares about will be discussed. There will be a written record of what was discussed. And, if time allows, issues will be prioritized and an action plan to address them will be created.
To achieve those results, one of the best things you can do is to focus the event with a theme that resonates with attendees and that deals with the future of the business. The theme should be characterized by all of the five necessary preconditions for open space. The goal is to open up the space enough so that everyone has an opportunity to think creatively about the important issues, while making the theme specific enough so that it allows people to get some real, meaningful work done.
Finally, before you commit to the idea, read up on open space and learn as much as you can about it. Two very good resources are my own Web site, www.openspaceworld.com, and the Open Space Institute’s Web site (www.openspaceworld.org). In addition to an abundance of free resources, the latter offers a listserv through which you can connect with more than 500 people around the world who are putting the open space concept to work.
Corporate Event Magazine, Fall 2008
Providing Opportunities for Good Works Retains Employees
Incorporate good works into your business. The translation of concept into action might be obvious if you’re a lawyer who handles pro bono cases, for example, or a doctor who volunteers at health clinics. But with a bit of creativity, any business can find ways to serve others — and that effort could wind up being good for business, too.
Indeed, Webster says the charitable endeavors of her shop, which has eight part-time employees, create positive activity there. "Anything you can do to pass on goodwill through your business is only going to help your business. That’s not the reason to do it, but it just comes back."
In Kansas City, Mo., the 35 employees of All Star Awards & Ad Specialties can take time off, without losing pay or vacation time, to do volunteer work. "We think a healthy, vibrant community helps us as a business," says co-owner Chuck Vogt, past president of the Rotary Club of Kansas City. The policy has other advantages. "Instead of us picking one or two of our favorite charities and nonprofits and saying no to everyone else, this allows our teammates to participate where they feel their passion," says Vogt. "That makes them happier teammates because they know, in essence, we’re supporting what they feel strongly about. It’s good employee relations as much as anything else."
One endeavor that boosts morale at Yurchyk & Davis, a 16-person accounting firm in Canfield, Ohio, is the monthlong campaign every March for America’s Second Harvest. Clients and employees can bring in food or donate funds, and staffers can "pay" to wear jeans on Fridays, with the money benefiting the hunger-relief organization. "I think our employees know it’s a sincere effort, not a publicity stunt," says David Buttat, a shareholder in the firm.
Karim Kaderali, of the Rotary Club of Santa Barbara, CA, has found a way to embed school fundraising into the DNA of his four-person company, Santa Barbara Axxess. The firm sells $30 membership cards good for discounts from hundreds of advertisers, including local spas, pet stores, restaurants, and even Disneyland. Each membership sold by students at the 31 participating schools nets $10 for the school. In five years, students have raised almost $300,000, which has been used to buy school supplies, fund a science camp, and even keep a librarian employed. Santa Barbara Axxess has also been rewarded for its efforts. "The company is respected for being such a leader in fund-raising, that’s kind of what we’re known for," says Kaderali. "It opens doors, it builds legitimacy." Having the positive public perception also helps attract the right employees, he says, and builds employee loyalty. "We are often praised by our customers, schools, and the like, and I know that makes [staffers] feel good."
Although giving back to the community can help a company differentiate itself from competitors, incorporating service isn’t always easy. Many small businesses, especially new ones, are strapped for time and money. And compelling employees to share in a boss’ particular philanthropic passion is generally not a good move. "If the staff is not on board and behind it, if they’re doing it grudgingly, it’s not true service," says Suzanne Ferguson, a business coach and member of the Rotary Club of Three Rivers in Pittsburgh.
Webster encourages small-business owners to think positively. "Your whole mission can go to the next level," she says. "If you have that in the back of your mind, then your business can do a little bit more in your community than just providing the service that you provide."
From The Rotarian, October 2008
January 9-11, 2009
January 11-14, 2009
January 15-18, 2009
January 27-28, 2009
January 27-30, 2009
January 29-30, 2009
February 9-11, 2009
February 7-10, 2009
February 21-23, 2009
February 23-25, 2009
June 28-July 1, 2009
www.AmericaSupportsYou.mil has a list of hundreds of organizations that support the military. The Yellow Ribbon Fund is one such group and focuses on injured service members and their families.
PODCAST: MORE GREEN TECHNOLOGIES FOR THE OFFICE, http://www.Inc.com/keyword/jun08
CLUTTER FOR A CAUSE
has great tips on green cleaning.
Going Green At Work
B.I.G. ON BOOKS is an organization that promotes literacy in underprivileged countries, primarily Africa, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia. You can donate books through most Rotary Clubs. B.I.G. also accepts cash donations. Send email to Steve Frantzich at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Kicking World Hunger is the biggest soccer juggle-a-thon in the world (uh, that we know of), much like a walk-a-thon, but more fun! Participants sign up to juggle a soccer ball thousands of times while raising money to provide hope for children and communities that desperately need it. http://www.firstgiving.com/kickingworldhunger
Charity Navigator (http://charitynavigator.org) is an in-depth, searchable guide to more than 5,000 charities worldwide that aims to encourage "intelligent giving". They rate charities based on their total expenses, revenues, and organizational capacity. If you want to give, but the recent slew of charity scandals has you feeling skeptical about where your money would go.
Take Pride T-Shirts (http://www.takepride.com) was founded by a group of friends who all share the belief that the more difficult the mission facing our military, the more deserving they are of our thanks and support. Each unique shirt design provides a glimpse into the life of a different US Service member who served in Iraq or Afghanistan and is hand silk-screened. The message of the shirts isn’t political, it's about acknowledging, celebrating, and taking pride in the spirit of young Americans who despite facing an extremely difficult job and unpleasant conditions, nonetheless strive to do their job well. Take Pride gives at least 20% of profits to charities and causes that assist combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Set a reminder to visit http://www.thebreastcancersite.com daily and click this button to help underprivileged women get mammograms.
volunteermatch.org helps you
find organizations in your area that spark your interest in volunteering.
Recycle yogurt containers and old toothbrushes!
Responsibly Dispose of Your Old Electronics
Recycle PCs, cell phones, printers, CDs diskettes, etc., with GreenDisk. For $29.95, they send a 70-pound-capacity box. When it’s full, you download postage from their website and ship it back. Your “junk” then goes to workshops for the disabled and are refurbished. http://www.greendisk.comm
Recycle PCs and other computer products at Hewlett Packard and Dell. See their websites for details.
Find local Electronics recyclers at http://www.earth911.org and http://www.ebay.com/rethink
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