Handling Stress in the Workplace

Stress at work is nothing new. According to recent statistics, 47% of employees stress over job security, 65% stress over bills, and 69% stress over investments and retirement, in addition to other work and personal stressors. But whatever the reason, the presence of stress at work takes a heavy toll. Employee stress often leads to decreased productivity, decreased quality of work, and increased rates of illness and absenteeism, affecting client relationships and hurting the bottom line for employers.

So what can be done to address this issue? Here are a few tips on taking action to curb stress in the workplace:

Pets in the Office

— Allowing pets at work contributes to reduced stress levels, as well as increased rates of teamwork, employee satisfaction, creativity, and productivity

— Employers with more pet friendly policies statistically have employees who are more focused, more comfortable at the office and more willing to work longer hours

— The presence of pets can eliminate some of the natural human barriers and discomforts employees have interacting with each other, making it easier for them to collaborate and work in teams.

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Workplace Wellness Programs

— Subsidizing gym memberships, bringing in fitness instructors, or partnering with employee wellness organizations can decrease stress and improve employee health in general.

— Employees who attend and/or utilize available wellness programs have higher rates of job satisfaction and lower rates of job-related stress. Encourage employees to attend events for points or rewards, or educate employees on the benefits of wellness programs.

— A more holistically healthy workforce means better productivity, less absenteeism, and more camaraderie among staff. Offer healthy snacks or provide a list of healthy options in the area.

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Encourage Physical Activity

— Ensure employees take advantage of breaks throughout their day to incorporate physical activity. Just 15 to 30 minutes of walking positively affects mood, increases energy levels, and sharpens focus.

— Employees who spent roughly 2 hours a week being physically active were more satisfied with the quantity and quality of their work, reported increased work ability, and took less sick time. Educate employees on the benefits of physical activity.

— Get involved by partnering with charitable fitness events for a company-wide fitness adventure such as Relay for Life or Race for a Cause.

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Review your PTO Policy  

— Examine how your employees taking advantage of PTO time and how often they exceed available PTO. Having a PTO policy that aligns with employee needs leads to more satisfied employees with less work-related stress.

— Ask for feedback from employees on their usage and opinions of current PTO policies. This creates opportunity for employees to feel more involved often raising morale, work interest, and commitment.

— Compare with PTO policies of employers of similar size and industry to determine if your workforce has adequate time to de-stress and maintain their health.

Do you have questions about how to manage employee stress? Speak with one of our HR Business Partners at 631.794.7400 to learn more about how you can take a proactive approach to workplace stress.

 

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Coworker, Friend, or Lover? Drawing the Line this Valentine’s Day

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With Valentine’s Day around the corner, whirlwind workplace romance comes to mind. Dating in the workplace has been a muddled issue. We are all familiar with the disastrous consequences of typical workplace romances gone awry, where private and professional lives clash quite publicly. According to a 2016 office romance survey, 66% of baby boomers, 59% or generation x’ers, and 44% of employees age 18 to 24 reported romantic involvement with a colleague that year. Most notably, 23% of survey respondents reported dating a subordinate in some capacity, a common HR nightmare.

So where do employers draw the line? Many employers recommend instituting policies that expressly prohibit romantic relationships between superiors and subordinates which can help to quell major concerns about favoritism and workplace gossip. Beyond just internal concerns, there is inherent risk that romantic endeavors in the workplace can turn sour, leading to sexual harassment claims, inappropriate behavior, unjust firing or promotional practice claims, and general law suits.

workplace-romance-compass-wfs-2Take preventative steps. Educate your employees by holding office trainings on how to identify sexual harassment, what constitutes sexual harassment, and how to uphold healthy workplace practices. Establish clear workplace relationship guidelines in employee manuals and orientation, taking into account workplace culture and employee needs. Lastly, if behavioral, productivity, or professionalism issues come up, or a sexual harassment claim is placed, act quickly and within legal constraints.

Not sure if your company policy adequately addresses workplace relationships? Contact one of our HR business partners regarding your company policies and practices.

workplace injury blog

Top 10 Costly Workplace Injuries and How to Avoid Them

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Many employers take great care in complying with safety regulations on site to ensure their employees and their pockets remain untouched. What company wants to lose valuable employees to an easily preventable injury? Furthermore, what company wants to pay out for losing staff? So, relying on OSHA guidelines and insightful HR personnel has become the norm for companies aiming to operate safe facilities. Unfortunately, workplace safety isn’t the only factor at play in common injuries, and the results are far more costly than you might imagine. The following are some of the leading causes of disabling workplace injuries, their costs, and how to avoid them.

Repetitive Motions Involving Micro-Tasks: Cost $1.82 Billion

From the secretarial level to the executive, repetitive tasks are unavoidable. This includes daily use of keyboards, smart phones, book binding machines, copy or fax machines, and regular duties associated with mailings or filing assignments. These repetitive motions can take a huge toll on an employee’s physical well-being leading to conditions such as carpal tunnel, tendonitis, and chronic back or joint pain.

How to avoid: Employers can avoid these costly injuries by ensuring employees have access to wellness initiatives that involve proper posture, stretching, and at-your-desk exercises. Companies may also encourage regular breaks to alleviate cramping or overexertion often associated with repetitive motions.

Caught in/Compressed by Equipment; Struck Against Equipment; Struck by Equipment: Cost ranging from $1.85 Billion to $5.31 Billion

blueman-crutchesWhen reviewing the above causes of workplace injury, factory or construction settings may come to mind with bulky, dangerous equipment and strict safety procedures. However, injuries resulting from actions as simple as walking into an open file drawer, being struck by an object dropped by a clumsy coworker, or getting caught in office equipment fall under this category. Injuries of this nature can be as mundane as a small bruise or scrape, or as severe as a concussion, broken bone, or pulled muscle.

How to avoid: Preventative measures go a long way. Ensure employees and office management staff are trained to maintain a safe and orderly office environment by closing all drawers, tending to protruding objects that could cause harm, maintaining shelved objects in a safe manner, following safety measures when using office equipment, and making certain that office equipment is secure at all times. If mechanical aids or safety equipment are necessary in any given setting, be sure all staff are trained on when and how to make use of them. Regular review of office layout, office equipment, and potential safety hazards will help employers to manage any workplace risks in real time and manage them appropriately.

Falls on Same Level; Falls on Lower Level; Slip or Trip Without Falling: Cost ranging from $2.35 Billion to $10.17 Billion

safety-signsWorkplace injury can result from slipping on a wet floor, falling up or down a set of stairs, or tripping over an object. It is important to note, however, that employees can fall, slip, or trip for a number of reasons that are not completely related to working conditions. For employees who lead demanding personal and professional lives, levels of awareness can suffer while workplace stress levels rise. Of course, keeping a watchful eye over potential safety hazards in the workplace is vital, addressing employee awareness and stress levels efficiently is just as crucial when looking to prevent accidents of this nature.

How to avoid: Once again, preventative measures like providing safety rails in stairwells, marking wet floors, and warning of areas where the floor is damaged/under construction are key to prevent injury that can result from these scenarios. In terms of employee mindset, levels of awareness and workplace stress can be moderated by wellness programs that allow employees an opportunity to unwind and refocus. Wellness activities such as mindfulness, meditation seminars, and fitness initiatives have been proven to increase employee productivity through improving employee mental and physical health.

Does your policy adequately prevent accidents like these?

If your company needs help reviewing, creating, or instating safety policy, or has any further questions, we can help. Call our office; speak to a human resource professional about your company’s policies or employee handbook. (631) 794-7400. Write to us: info@compasswfs.com or visit our website compasswfs.com

This is not legal advice and will not cover all situations and circumstances.

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Flu Season Ahead

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100 million work days were lost to the flu during the last flu season. That’s an estimated $10 billion in loss! And this doesn’t even cover days lost to employees’ needing to stay home or leave early to care for loved ones with the flu. So how does this happen?

Germs Spread:

  • The average adult brings their fingers to the nose, mouth or eyes about 16 times an hour.
  • Coffee pot handles were some of the first places the virus spread.
  • A workspace with plastic and Formica surfaces and a grooved keyboard offers a hospitable environment for germs.
  • A light switch – common respiratory viruses can survive on a surface for a maximum of two to four days.
  • Returning to work before 5 days have passed increases the likelihood of transmitting or even contracting the flu all over again.

Tips for Employees:

You know when you are beginning to feel sick. You woke up with a sore throat and a fever. You’ve started to sneeze, a few sniffles are apparent…

Time to take action!

Let common sense rule. Be careful what you touch and take extra precaution to avoid possibly infecting others. Use tissues, wash your hands repeatedly, and avoid touching general usage areas unless you know your hands are clean. Use disinfectant wipes on your phone, door-handle, key board, and desktop. Don’t shake hands with others. If possible, try to keep some distance between you and your colleagues. Work in a separate office space if you have it, or if your role allows, work remotely to keep your germs out of the office.

The next stage

Now you are really sick…stay home! Follow the standard care procedures: rest, fluids, more rest. Are you contagious? Not sure? See the doctor. Get an Rx, if needed and be sure to follow up with the doctor afterwards.

Other Considerations:

  • If you have medical coverage, check with your carrier, a seasonal flu shot might be covered.
  • If you don’t have coverage, check local pharmacy chains, they advertise inexpensive, no-waiting flu shots.
  • If you are out of sick time – speak to your manager or human resource personnel, you may be able to use vacation or personal time.

Compass Workforce Solutions can help – we can assist you in managing your workforce and in creating human policies for the realities of life. Call our office; speak to a human resource professional about your company’s policies or employee handbook. Write to us: info@compasswfs.com or visit our website compasswfs.com

This is not legal advice and will not cover all situations and circumstances.

Sitting is the New Smoking

Recent studies have indicated that sitting for a long period of time can be associated with numerous health concerns including but not limited to diabetes, heart diseases, high blood pressure, and foggy brain. For employers and employees alike, this is nerve-racking considering the majority of us spend a good part of our work-day sitting at a desk. Even employees that exercise daily are still exposed to the health risks of excessive sitting! In fact, just two hours of sitting can have significant impacts on an employee’s health. Sitting for just two hours will raise blood sugar, reduce blood flow, and lower good cholesterol by 20%.

So what can employers and employees do to avoid excessive sitting in the workplace?
  • Encourage employees to start a walking club during lunch breaks, or before or after work; going for a brief walk at work helps employees to de-stress and increases productivity!
  • Encourage employees to wear a pedometer or Fitbit to inspire friendly competition   between coworkers and increase physical activity at work
  • Encourage employees to take the stairs instead of the elevator; seven minutes of stair climbing a day can halve the risk of heart attack over 10 years!
  • Invest in elevated desks; approximately 1,000 extra calories are burned each week from simply standing at your desk each afternoon!
  • Educate employees on how to sit with proper posture; sitting with upright posture leads to increased oxygen levels, improved mood, and reduced stress levels!

            Have questions about your employees’ health in the workplace? Call our office to speak with a human resource professional about your company’s policies at 631.794.7400 or write to us at info@compasswfs.com

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