What’s the Easiest Way to Resolve Work Conflicts?

What’s the Easiest Way to Resolve Work ConflictsHave you ever witnessed – or even experienced – a workplace dispute that seemed to get worse any time somebody tried to intervene? Even good intentions are not effective in resolving work conflicts sometimes. Trained managers who have the focus to mediate have demonstrated time and time again that they can succeed in supporting the aggrieved parties to reach an amicable agreement.

If your managers know how to handle problems between employees, they will find it much easier to motivate their teams and protect against hits to productivity. However, according to a 2008 survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD), 66% of respondents reported that their managers needed to improve interaction levels with their staff and 27%  stated that their managers had received no training whatsoever in dealing with workplace conflict. This suggests that there is definitely room for improvement within UK businesses on the use of mediation and skilled practitioners in managing difficult situations.  A study in the U.S. found that an overwhelming majority ( 85% ) of employees at all levels experience conflict to some degree.  Furthermore, it was found that U.S. employees spend 2.8 hours per week dealing with conflict, so these issues are proven, not surprisingly, to be affecting workplaces all around the world.

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5 Safety Precautions to Practice While Relocating to a New Office

5 Safety Precautions to Practice While Relocating to a New OfficeWhat possible harm can possibly befall you while shifting to a new office? Plenty! It’s a little like moving to a new home- there’s plenty of chaos and minor or major injuries that might occur if the workers are not careful enough. Unfortunately, this happens even when professional help is hired by the organization. Here is a compilation of safety precautions you can refer to in order to better minimize risks.

Let the heavy equipment be handled by experts.

First things first – let the moving firm handle all the heavy equipment in your office. They are the ones paid for the job and have a certain degree of expertise and control over the same. They also have different tools as well as the manpower to lift, carry and load them in vehicles and transport them easily to the new location. Let them do their work and steer clear of any mishaps by attempting to lift equipment that is clearly beyond your capacity!

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The Dog Days of Summer: What Small Business Owners Need to Know About Bringing Pets to Work

The Dog Days of Summer: What Small Business Owners Need to Know About Bringing Pets to WorkIn ancient times, when the night sky was not obscured by artificial lights and smog, cultures in different parts of the world discovered images in the sky by connecting the dots of stars through constellations. They saw bears, (Ursa Major and Ursa Minor), twins, (Gemini), a bull, (Taurus), and others, including dogs, (Canis Major and Canis Minor). The brightest of the stars in Canis Major (the big dog) is Sirius, which is also the brightest star in the night sky.

In the summer, Sirius, the “dog star,” rises and sets in conjunction with the sun. The ancients believed that its heat added to the heat of the sun, creating a stretch of hot and sultry weather. They named this period of time, from 20 days before the conjunction to 20 days after, “dog days.” While this varies somewhat with latitude, today, the dog days occur during the period between mid-July and the end of August.

A different sort of dog days is happening in the workplace. Almost 20% of companies in the United States allow their employees to bring their dogs to work. Many of these are small start-up companies who recognize the need for a flexible work environment or tech firms that seek to capture the interest of prospective employees or to better retain current employees. Some of the benefits they cite for allowing pets in the office are increased staff morale and worker productivity, decreased absenteeism and levels of stress, and greater camaraderie among employees.

Personally, I am all for dogs at work, though I realize it is not for everyone, nor appropriate for every type of business. If you are seriously considering it, be sure to develop and communicate throughout your entire organization a clear policy with guidelines and expectations. Most of the rules will be common sense, but more importantly they will ensure everyone’s comfort and safety.

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Experts Weigh In: How I Think Outside of the Cubicle

Experts Weigh In: How I Think Outside of the CubicleAh, summertime. Warm days filled with plenty of sunnin’ and funnin’… but you’re marooned at your computer in the office while seemingly everyone else in the world is outside having the time of their lives. If you feel like it’s time to shake things up this summer at the workplace, take the advice of these 17 entrepreneurial pros to step away from the cubicle and get the team hiking, biking, and zip-lining!

1) “At Clarke, we have garden plots on the campus for people to grow their own veggies as snacks. People line up for the chance to weed, water, and more! We have a day of giving, where we go out as a company and do things like harvest heirloom seeds and work in soup kitchens. We just began the process of converting our campus to having a natural prairie walking path one open to the community as well.”

- Laura McGowan, The McGowan Group

2) “We’re a virtual company so we get 100% of our work done from home and encourage our full-time employees (60+ people) to get up and moving out of their home offices. This summer, our Co-Founder Dennis Najjar instituted the 150 Mile Challenge, challenging employees to walk 150 miles over the course of the summer and rewarding those who complete it with $150 prize. The challenge runs from May 1st to August 31st and nearly half the employees joined in, using FitBits, phone apps and other tracking methods to log their miles. So far we’ve logged more than 2,000 miles! We’ve dubbed it #150ADCMiles!”

- Andrea Boccard, Marketing Manager, AccountingDepartment.com, LLC 

3) “Employees of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), one of the nation’s largest mutual life insurers and a leading provider of employee benefits, hosted a flash event on June 11 to show support for The New York City Police Museum (NYCPM), which, like Guardian, was displaced from its home following the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy. However, unlike Guardian, the Museum has yet to return to its home at Old Slip due to the extent of the storm-related damages. Over 100 Guardian employees performed a dance routine at Old Slip Park (adjacent to The NYCPM’s permanent home at 100 Old Slip) for about 3-4 minutes, then quickly dispersed. The official video can be viewed on YouTube here.”

- Ana Sandoval, Manager, Media Relations, The Guardian Life Insurance Company

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Why You Should Hire For Personality Instead of Experiences

Why You Should Hire For Personality Instead of ExperiencesIf your company is going through or has gone through the hiring process, you probably know it is not easy to select a potential candidate. Sifting through hundreds of resumes and cover letters can be not only tedious and frustrating, but sometimes it doesn’t even help you find the best person for the position.

Next time you’re looking for a new hire, instead of hiring someone based on how good they look on paper, try centering your hiring process around personality instead. Here’s why a new hire with a great personality can be a better candidate than one with more experience.

You Can Train From Scratch

In many cases, hiring a candidate with a lot of experience is not always a good idea. Their previous positions may have had different methodologies and strategies than your company, making it difficult for your new hire to do things the way your company likes to. An employee hired with less relevant previous experience, but the right personality, can often have the perfect skills for the job with the help of a little initial training. By training a new hire from scratch, you can teach them exactly what you want, without previous experiences and practices getting in the way.

Every Job is Different

If you are looking at the resume of a seemingly qualified potential hire, chances are they may not be as qualified as their paperwork makes them appear. A one or two sentence job description on a piece of paper and a list of past job experiences does not tell you much about a prospective hire’s past work, making it hard to determine if their past experiences are applicable to the new job you are hiring for. However, picking up on a candidate’s passion, energy and hard working spirit in an interview is something that is hard to miss and can often speak volumes more about a candidate than a resume.

More Personality Means More Passion

By choosing a new employee who truly is interested in and passionate about your company’s goals and services, you will be hiring your company’s next best advocate. Hiring someone who has less experience, but more energy, will help bring you a more committed employee who will work hard to learn new skills to help ensure your success.

For a case study, let’s look at Hydroworx, who specializes in water rehab therapy. They do a lot of sports rehab with NHL superstars like Robert Griffin III and Adrian Peterson. When they were voted in the top of “Best Places to Work in PA” for the fifth year in a row, I asked them how they pulled it off. Their answer was simple: they hire people who were passionate about helping people. They’d pick the person who loved sports rehab over the person who had 10 years of experience but was just looking for a paycheck.

Quality Over Quantity

If you are choosing between someone with more experience and a candidate with a better personality, keep in mind that quality is better than quantity. If you are noticing that the person without as much experience knows more and seems more enthusiastic about your company, then they could be the better overall candidate than someone with more previous relevant work experiences but less enthusiasm. Sometimes a candidate with fewer experiences can be better than an experienced one who has had bad past experiences and may be burnt out.

Choosing the right candidate for your company’s open position doesn’t have to mean hours of reading and comparing resumes and cover letters. It can be as simple as going with your gut.  Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink shows that your gut is right more often than you give it credit for.  Getting a good feeling about a candidates personality is often much more important than a long list of experiences, and it can lead to finding a better candidate.  So make your next job search about passion and personality, and expect nothing less than a great new hire.

Scott Huntington is a writer and blogger. He lives in Pennsylvania and with his wife and son, writing about social media and doing research for UB Solutions. Follow Scott at @SMHuntington.

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Why Trust is the Essence of an Effective Business

Why Trust is the Essence of an Effective BusinessOne of the most important elements of a positive, synergistic and healthy workplace environment is trust. Trust forms the foundation for effective communication and interaction, and provides a solid platform for employee engagement, retention, successful customer experiences, and satisfaction.

Trust goes beyond being able to rely upon someone. It is about character, ability, confidence, strength, faith, and conviction. When trust exists in an organization or in a relationship, almost everything else is easier and more comfortable to achieve which is why it’s so critical to build and maintain trust.

Like organizational culture, I believe trust starts at the very top – since trusting and being trust “worthy” can only exist when top management sets the example, and then promulgates that example into every business unit and department. This means establishing and maintaining integrity and communicating your vision and values through word and deed and doing what is right.

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20 Ways to Kick Stress to the Curb and Have Fun with Your Startup

20 Ways to Kick Stress to the Curb and Have Fun with Your StartupWhen you work at a startup, the saying “no two days are the same” is much more than cliché; it’s your everyday reality. The highly charged atmosphere at many startups is a major draw for younger workers, career changers, and anyone seeking a challenge. If you aren’t practically bouncing off the walls at your new job, check your pulse.

But all that excitement of a new business can also result in major-league stress. We’re not talking about the stimulating, exciting, kind of stress, but the pull your hair out kind. Fortunately, startups also provide ample opportunities to de-stress and enjoy the exhilarating ride.

1. Focus on One Task at a Time

You have a big client meeting at 10, lunch across town at 1:30, and seemingly endless projects to work on all day. Take a deep breath and focus on one task at a time. What has top priority? Make a to-do list ranked by importance, and dive into the first task. Try not to multi-task or work ahead if you can help it, and your productivity will soar.

2. Get Out of the Office

If you spend 24/7 at the office, you’ll wind up looking like something from The Walking Dead. Take your laptop or your tablet outside or move to a coffee shop for the day – the change in scenery will do you good.

3. Brainstorm with Colleagues

It takes a special type of person to thrive at a startup – energetic, creative, innovative. Your coworkers have amazing minds, and startups are all about collaboration. Take advantage of your brilliant colleagues and bounce ideas off of them. Even shooting the breeze can often produce excellent ideas or generate solutions to nagging challenges.

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Six Ways to Reduce Waste in the Workplace

Six Ways to Reduce Waste in the WorkplaceIn recent years, large corporations are becoming more aware of the dwindling natural resources and are doing their part to conserve energy and reduce the amount of waste they produce. Intel has become the largest purchaser of green power in the United States are the company has greatly reduced the amount of energy used to run the business. Other popular companies like Kohl’s deparment store and Starbucks coffee have followed suit. If you want your company to be part of this environmentally-conscious movement, then follow these six steps to reduce waste in the workplace.

1. Stop Printing So Much

One of the most wasteful things that many companies do is excessive printing of documents. Not only does this waste paper, but it also wastes a lot of energy and ink. If you want to take an instant step to reduce waste in your workplace, then encourage everyone in the office to transmit documents electronically whenever possible. Many people print documents, read over them, and immediately shred of recycle them. This is an unnecessary use of paper. Only print what you actually have to have in paper form.

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4 Tips for Successfully Planning and Executing a Company Event

4 Tips for Successfully Planning and Executing a Company EventPlanning an event for your company can be tough work, and if you’re in charge of the entire event, you’re likely to be feeling some pressure to make the event perfect. Pulling off the perfect event is no easy task no matter how big or small your company is. As the event planner you have to consider every detail including where to hold the event, seating arrangements for the guests, what kind of food to serve, whether or not to serve alcohol, and many more odds and ends that need to be taken care of. No matter the occasion, with careful planning you can pull off an amazing event – creating a good name for your company, as well as for yourself.

Start Planning Early

The moment you know you are having an event, you should begin the planning process. The earlier you start, the more organized you can be and the more you can accomplish. Depending on the size of the party will greatly determine the length of which you should begin preparing. For smaller events with anywhere from 50-150 guests, consider beginning at least two months in advance. And for larger parties with the number of guests ranging from 150-300, or even more, six months in advance is the norm.

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5 Employee Productivity Hacks Every Workplace Can Benefit From Right Now

5 Employee Productivity Hacks Every Workplace Can Benefit From Right NowThe most important element to improving employee productivity in the workplace revolves around creating an atmosphere where an employee feels most at home. We recently noticed a huge upswing in small business owners embracing the start-up culture aesthetic – by this, we mean wearing flip flops to work, bringing pets along for the ride, and the controversial “work from home” policy. And truth be told, all of these definitely work in giving employee productivity the kick it needs. However, the most important element that business owners often overlook is the importance of ensuring that everyone gets along and here are a few hacks that can help workplaces out right now.

1) Setting The Thermostat At The Right Temperature

Nothing distracts an employee more than when others hover around them trying to fix the thermostat. For some, it may be too cold and for others it may be too hot. How do we set the right temperature? We recommend erring on the side of caution: research shows that when there is a cool atmosphere, employee productivity dramatically improves. Which means a business owner is better off creating a cooler atmosphere over a heated one, and recommending sweaters and blankets for employees who might find it too cold. This also means making sure the business has a working air conditioner and regular maintenance checks.

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