How to Incentivize Employees

Who would not be happy to receive a pat on the back for a job well done, most especially if that pat comes with some cash bonus or perhaps recognition in front of colleagues?

Businesses often face the dilemma of wanting to recognize employees for their good performance or extra efforts, but budget sometimes gets in the way. Good thing though, today’s reward programs are more varied and can be tailored to reflect an organization’s culture and creativity. From as simple as a gift certificate to as luxurious as an all-expense-paid trip to Hawaii, there are many reward options to choose from in order to motivate employees and drive them towards the right or desired behavior.

Lisa Bodell, CEO of innovation-training firm FutureThink, offered four innovative approaches to a rewards program. Let us use those approaches here to group together some of the best incentive suggestions offered by management consultants, HR experts, bosses and business coaches from a range of industries.

1. Compensation

Some people think that money cannot be used to motivate employees, but some studies show otherwise. Research found that almost everyone is motivated by money to some degree. A national survey in the U.S. that involves 1,200 randomly selected employees across different companies revealed that 54 percent of employees rate financial compensation as “very important” to motivation. A survey by the American Compensation Association and the American Productivity Center also revealed that financial compensation has a “very positive” impact on employee performance. Of course, monetary reward is only effective when properly designed, and it should not necessarily involve large amount of money. Here are some innovative and creative ways to give it.

Peer-to-peer rewards
This strategy has worked in, where employees award cash bonuses to colleagues who perform well.

Patented rewards
Allow employees to apply patent in behalf of the company and reward them financially for it. For example, if a firm might be charged a fee for air pollution emitted, patents maybe assigned to employees undertaking scientific discoveries to address the problem so that they too share the benefits.

These can be a great motivator too. Research shows that companies which reward their employees with shares are more productive since these give them a sense of ownership to the company.

2. Gifts

Gifting employees for a job well done does not have to break the bank. They can re-enforce exemplary behaviors in the short-term, and at the same tine foster long-term loyalty. For this strategy to work though, according to Bodell, gifts must carry ‘enough’ perceived value. Here are some creative gift ideas you can give to your employees.

Merchandise and travel incentives
Executives who participated in a study conducted by the incentive Federation consistently indicated that merchandise and travel rewards work better than cash. An Incentive Magazine survey in 2008 showed that these incentives are particularly effective when recognizing performance and when given as business gifts, sales incentives, and spot rewards, among others. One of the reasons they are effective is that they allow employees to treat themselves without feeling guilty.

Prestige rewards
A bottle of premium champagne or a luxurious fountain pen, perhaps? These are great alternative to trophies or plaques. Plus, these can be customized and personalized. They can be given to exemplary employees to mark their career’s milestone.

3. Recognition

We all need affirmation sometimes, and there is nothing quite like being recognized in front of our colleagues to boost our self-esteem and self-confidence. Recognition allows employers to showcase team members who demonstrate the behavior and performance they want to cultivate.

Certificate of recognition
Hosting a monthly recognition for the employee of the month, best team player of the month and the like can be effective in motivating employees to try to do better next time. If they slack during the previous month, for example, they have a chance to start over again, improve their performance, and get recognized for a good performance. This approach could just actually bring out competitiveness among each employee.

VIP wall
How about featuring portraits and stories of top employees on posters displayed prominently across the office? This strategy seemed to work well with Honeywell who launched its own “Great Performers” program.

4. Perk

Attract top talents and retain valuable employees — these are just some of the things perks can do. Here are some of the top perks employees crave for:

Training opportunities
Many employees today, particularly millennials, are not driven by salary. Training opportunities are one of those things they are looking for before accepting a job offer. A survey by Kenan-Flagler Business School at UNC found that 65% of millennials pointed out personal development as the most influential factor they stay in their current jobs. They are highly likely to stay in a company that nurtures their development through either funded classes, seminars and conferences, rotational programs and training sessions.

Fun at work and outside
All work and no play can make a person dull and unhappy, and thankfully, many employees nowadays are recognizing this. Companies are innovating their office design and landscape, turning physical spaces into something colorful, playful and at the same time productive. A few examples of these companies are instance Pixar, Google and Coca-Cola. Of course, “fun” does not have to be limited in the physical environment.

A culture of fun can be cultivated in the workplace too. For example, offering catered lunch for employees and gathering all team members to sit and eat together. Who can say no to free food? Fun can also be taken outside of the workplace, such as organizing a quarterly team-outing and annual company outing.


When employees are doing well and going beyond than what is required of them at work, it may be impossible not to compensate them for their hard work. The good news though is that you have options other than monetary compensations to recognize their efforts. Gifts, perks, and recognitions are effective alternative to making staff more productive without shaving one millimeter more off company’s budget.

How to Write Up an Employee for Insubordination

One of the challenges employers and managers face is dealing with employees who are difficult and sometimes deliberately derelict of their responsibilities. If this problem will not be dealt with immediately and accordingly, not only the business will suffer. This can even affect other members of the team.

An employee who is not fulfilling his or her tasks or not complying with the rules and regulations stipulated in the employment contract is manifesting insubordinate behavior. Examples of these can include being sarcastic to the managers when airing one’s side on a certain issue, rolling the eyeballs or expressing disagreement through body language or remarks even with other employees around. As a manager, the burden lies on you to rectify this unacceptable attitude, professionally and legally. This is not an easy thing to do, though.

If a member of your team fails to finish a task included in the employee’s responsibilities and is already aware of this, yet continues to do so regardless of the warnings given, writing a disciplinary letter of insubordination will be for the best of the business and the rest of the company’s workforce.

By resolving this issue on its early stages, you can minimize the risks that can affect the performance of the group as a whole and the morale of the team. To help you in this aspect, here are the steps in coming up with an insubordination letter:

1. Discuss The Issue Verbally And Privately.

Before you end writing a reprimand letter for the behavior of a subordinate at work, it is proper to set up a meeting with him or her to discuss the issue privately, without announcing it to the entire workforce. This way, you can bring this up with the employee and hear what he or she has to say to clarify the issue without embarrassing the person. If this fails, then you can go to t he next step.

2. Gather Facts Surrounding the Incident.

It is important to have all the pertinent information including the verbal discussions and the actions that took place which lead to the employee’s insubordination. Focus on actual facts and write down the dialogue that occurred in verbatim. Also, don’t forget to mention if there were previous warnings issued and include other incidences related to the behavior.

3. Be Objective.

There are some employees who can be competent in doing their tasks but can display behavior that is unbecoming especially if they are sometimes too complacent or comfortable with people at the office. They may even be antagonistic and defensive when confronted about the issue despite others being present. Although it may be clear that you have an employee with an attitude, it is wise not to use this word in your letter. The term “attitude” is considered to be subjective and if the matter will be brought to court, it might work against the company since courts rely on actions and behaviors that are documented and not on mere conflicts of personalities, which the mistake of using the term “attitude” suggests.

4. Get Support from People Present During the Incident.

If there were people like colleagues or clients who witnessed and heard what transpired which led to insubordination, you can also ask them to give their accounts of the incident.

5. Include Company Rules on Insubordination.

One of your strongest weapons is to get back to your employee’s handbook where you can cite the rules and regulations of the company. Itemize what policies have been broken by the concerned employee so he or she will be aware of the violations committed. You may also write the time and date of the employee’s orientation regarding these policies and mention which part of the handbook discusses the issue or issues.

6. Mention the Consequences of Such Behavior and Action Plan Expectations.

It is important that the employee takes this matter seriously so the incident will be prevented from being repeated. He or she should know what is expected of him or her to correct such behavior or perform the tasks on time and correctly. Consequences may be a suspension or at worst, termination.

If you don’t intend to fire the employee in question, an action plan can be asked from this particular member of your team. If an employee has poor performance or is falling behind deadlines, you can ask this person about what he or she intends to do in order to improve the quality of work or meet deadlines. A time table is also crucial at this point. All of these should be included in the action plan the company expects from the employee.

7. Point out the Good Qualities of Your Employee.

Aside from stating the occurrences that lead to this disciplinary action, the consequences and the action plan needed to address the issue, do not forget to include the positive traits of the employee that have contributed to the team. This will help in motivating your employee to improve and change for the better when it comes to his or her attitude towards work.

8. Ensure the Document Will Be Signed by Both Parties.

After the meeting, ask the employee for clarifications and perhaps, refutations on the document. If there is none, have it signed by the employee in acknowledgment that he or she understands what was written. In return, you should also sign the document as evidence that both parties agree on the facts stated in black and white.


Employees are pillars of the business and their performance and behavior greatly contribute to the success and failure of a company. Moreover, business owners invest time and money to thrive in the industry. If the employer or the manager overlooks the wrong practices and unbecoming behavior of the people who work in the company, not only there will be conflicts in the work place. It can also lead to losses and high employee turnover.

The management needs to curtail insubordination as soon as the problem presents itself. Workforce management is not a breeze but if the management knows the steps to handle issues such as insubordination, business operations can run smoothly and the workplace environment will be more harmonious and healthy.

Handling Generational Issues in the Workplace

We are living in an age where a multi-generational workplace is becoming the norm. While this does not apply for all kinds of workplaces, the general consensus is that employees from various generations are thrown together in one environment and are asked to work with one another. The combination of workers from different generations – each with their own quirks and personalities – begs the question: Can management manage all these people?

An article in the Harvard Business Review in 2009 highlighted that we will see five generations of workers joining together in the workforce. In that article, writers Jeanne C Meister and Karie Willyerd stated that it’s a “social phenomenon not yet witnessed.” These five generations include:

1. Traditionalists – born before 1946
2. Baby Boomers – born between 1946 and 1964
3. Gen X – born between 1965 and 1976
4. Millennials (or Gen Y) – born between 1977 and 1997
5. Gen 2020 – born after 1997

We are in this scenario because more and more people are putting off retirement. It’s also a case that makes sense because they are still healthy and the knowledge they have is still valuable to the organization.

According to the World Health Organization, those who are aged 60 can and still be physically capable of working until they are 74 and 77. Add that to the newest crop of employees entering the workforce today and you will have an environment that features new workers, their parents, their grandparents and even their great-grandparents.

For a number of years, the Baby Boomers were the dominant generation in the workforce. But according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections back in 2009, that generation will slowly be replaced by Millennials. With the advances in technology, the amount of knowledge available to us and the expansion of the global economy between Boomers and Millennials, it’s hard not to see a workplace filled with employees of differing opinions, characteristics and working styles.

Also, think about the generations coming after the Millennials. These are likely workers who have never sent an email because they were raised in the age of instant messaging, tweeting and Facebook. Combining members from this generation will all those previously mentioned, companies are surely in for a cultural shift.

How Will This Change The Workplace?

These are the questions you need to consider when addressing a multi-generational workforce:

  • Is the brand of your company appealing not just to customers but also to each generation of workers in your employ?
  • Are you attracting talent through more modern methods such as having a social networking strategy to entice users of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter?
  • Are you investing in innovative learning methodologies such as games, reverse mentoring, e-coaching, peer-to-peer learning, simulations and informal learning in order to strengthen knowledge across your business?
  • Are your leaders prepared for these next generation of employees? Do they have the skills and tools needed to communicate with the coming generation of workers who are hyper-connected?
  • Providing solutions to these questions will help you manage a workplace comprised of workers from various generations successfully.

    How To Manage People From Different Generations?

    Given that people are working longer and delaying retirement, internal career paths in an organization have changed. Now, we see younger individuals managing someone older. Situations like these cause generational tension because those older may not have positive feelings about being managed by someone without much life experience. On other hand, those from younger generations might feel insecure about how to perform their tasks right.

    This generational tension or better known as the lack of respect for those from a different generation is something managers should be aware of. They should be able to help employees understand that each generation has specific skills that they can bring to the table. How exactly can this be done?

    1. Don’t bite into generational stereotypes.
    Help your team understand that they have to move past labels. While a Gen 2020er may be typically classified as constantly attached to their smartphone, that is not always the case. It’s not even healthy to form generation-based employee affinity groups because workers don’t need special treatment. In short, it’s best for you to get to know each person who works for you.

    2. Establish relationships based on collaboration.
    It’s daunting to manage someone who’s older than you, but you can take inspiration from the military in this case where in the US Marine Corps, 22-year-old lieutenants are put in charge of 45-year-old sergeants. The purpose here is to foster a partnership where you involve your subordinates in everything that you do. Even though you may be the boss, you still have to hear what they have to say.

    A collaborative effort also works well when managing workers in their 20s because they are used to discussion and engagement – an environment they were used to in college. While it’s not necessary to take their advice, it will make them be appreciative knowing you took the time to hear them out.

    3. Know your employees.
    What employers want varies from generation to generation. Apart from getting to know them on a personal level, another simple and cost-effective way of studying your employees is through surveys of vision and values. Adding questions about preferred communication style and planned professional path helps you understand what each generation wants.

    4. Make room for cross-generational mentoring opportunities.
    Create reverse or reciprocal mentoring programs where younger employees work together with seasoned executives in achieving a specific business objective, usually with the aid of technology. The younger generation can teach the older about using social media to get the business results needed. On the other hand, the older generation can share institutional knowledge with a younger worker.

    5. Take note of life paths.
    Consider where workers are in their lives when thinking of inspiring or incentivizing them. For example, younger generations may not have many outside obligations and work-wise, are motivated by experiences and opportunities. Those in their 30s or 40s may have children and mortgages and are looking for flexibility, along with money and advancement. Workers who are approaching the end of their careers may not be too interested in training but want work that is interesting and allows them a good life-work balance.

Dealing with Nepotism in the Workplace

For a business owner, nepotism can be really difficult to deal with, considering all the ethics that come with running a company. For an employee, it would seem terribly unfair, especially when you have been diligently working to be promoted, which that never happened because a company owner’s relative got pegged for the position. Putting positions aside, your capabilities may be limited in eliminating nepotism, especially if we are talking about a privately owned business. However, with valid reasons and concerns, this can be dealt with accordingly. With proper observation and documentation, everyone will be able to go around this matter. Here are ways to deal with nepotism in the workplace—for business owners and employees:

For Business Owners

1. Surround yourself with non-relatives.
Normally, you tend to pull family members or friends into your new or growing business. Of course, you trust them, and you would not have to worry about these people stealing your trade secrets or doing any harm to your venture. However, bringing in outsiders can give your company different perspectives. Typically, relatives would not challenge any corporate decision or direction, and take note that most successful businesses have bold people who can ask the right questions and speak up.

2. Have a written guideline and enforce it.
Do not commit the mistake of not having any written procedures and policies, or else you will face discrimination claims and unlawful termination lawsuits. See to it that your rules apply to all individuals, including your relatives, and there should be no preferential treatment or favoritism, as it would create resentment and division among your employees. It is also good to have a nepotism policy that does not allow managers to have relatives as direct reports.

3. Require your employees to work their way up.
One thing about handing down your business to your spouse or child is that they may not want the job when time comes. Worse, they may feel entitled to it and not do the work needed to earn their positions. Remember that there are many cases of companies collapsing under second-generation leadership. With this in mind, manage your relatives’ performance and make sure they start at the bottom, learning about the business to the letter, and earn your other employees’ respect.

4. Make sure everybody earns the same.
As business owner, make sure your relatives earn the same as with other employees. You have to establish equal benefits and compensation not only for budgeting, but also for employee morale. Do not try to think that you can keep inequity in pay a secret, as workers talk and will notice if your relatives have more from their salary to spend than they do. Have all job descriptions written, including their pay grades, and review them regularly to ensure all the terms written reflect job qualifications, compensation and responsibilities.

5. Take advantage of appropriate job training.
Remember that hiring family members and friends for work that they do not have any training on for your company as a whole. Of course, nobody wants to fail, but you will leading them to do just that by hiring them without proper and up-to-speed knowledge. This is another area where having written job descriptions can greatly help; job descriptions should include preferred and minimum educational requirements.

6. Get a mentor.
It would be difficult to separate being a close relative and a mentor when it comes to training a family or friend. So, it might be best to enlist a non-relative and respectful individual to take on the role of leading professional development of relative workers. You can even set up a good cop-bad cop scenario, where you will play the bad cop to your relative (being extra tough to demonstrate to the rest of your workforce that you will not have favoritism). Meanwhile, your vice president or a partner can play the good cop to mentor your relative through his/her improvement.

For Employees

1. Document specific incidents of any perceived nepotism.
If nepotism has been an ongoing issue in your office, contacting HR department with generic complaints would prove counterproductive. Instead, take note of important details, such as dialogues, dates of exchanges and other circumstances surrounding the events, and make a report. Identify witnesses, as they are needed to substantiate your claim’s elements.

2. Gather your co-workers’ experiences and impressions without raising red flags.
It is best to weave your way into conversations about nepotism cases in your workplace and engage in casual banter, which helps eliminate gaps and build bonds. You can ask probing (but stealthy) questions on the overall workload, workplace happiness and treatment from superiors, as well as identify potential supporters for follow-up and in-depth. You can use gut knowledge and instinct of previous co-workers’ behaviors to form alliances.

3. Ensure your attitude is professional and your performance is top-notch.
Prepare for possible backlash from upset management and coworkers. Being a whistle-blower may make you a target for extra scrutiny, unfair evaluations and even more not-so-great assignments. Use your frustration as motivation to keep fighting for an ethical workplace.

4. Secure a confidential HR appointment when facing such a problem.
There are times that it is needed to circumvent usual procedures, especially when your issue involves direct supervisors, but just make sure you schedule your meeting at an inconspicuous time to prevent attracting undue speculations from your colleagues. Remember to remain concise and professional during your meeting because your conversation will be documented. You can speak with more than one representative to help ensure the investigation of your claim is timely.

5. Take advantage of therapeutic outlets.
Activities, such as gardening, cycling or playing music, are very effective in restoring energy and countering negativity. They will keep your stress levels in check and remain confident while confronting nepotism at the office.


Nepotism at work can be very frustrating and, depending on the size and type of your company, can dictate the steps you can take to deal with it. It can be more frustrating when you, as employee, were not able to land your desired promotion. But with the tips above, you can cope with it and keep things in perspective.

Dealing with Unconscious Bias in the Workplace

Though unconscious bias is actually a scary concept, it is nonetheless something that almost everyone is subject to. Simply put, it refers to the biases that people have towards each other, which are not in their conscious control. When meeting people, we tend to immediately assess them, normally based on our cultural environment, experiences and background. While we most likely believe that we are objective and open-minded, we really have values, beliefs and opinions that stem from our culture and families, which all combine to have a heavy influence on our views and judgments of ourselves and other people and ourselves.

The biases we have built in our lives would help us in processing information efficiently and quickly, which can actually equate to a positive and necessary trait from a survival standpoint. After all, these are something we naturally have without little control and purposeful intervention.

However, as we all now know, unconscious bias can have negative impacts on people and, indeed, in business if we lose our objectiveness and, eventually, make unfounded decisions that can lead to missed opportunities. Here are ways to deal with unconscious bias in the workplace:

1. Accept That We Are Human Beings.

You should know that as human beings, our brains would commit mistakes unwittingly. So, on the scientific aspect, unconscious bias applies to how people perceive other. We are all biased, and accepting this fact will make us aware of our own biases and mitigate them at work.

2. Let Everyone Explore Their Own Unconscious Biases.

Facilitate an activity that allows your employees to explore their own levels of unconscious bias. This can involve their origin and their behaviors that can affect others. Once you have identified the issues, you can easily address them. Remember that breaking the habit of bias will often start with initial recognition of the habits in the first instance. Gain insights into the subconscious to realize the problems that need addressing.

When conducting the activity, encourage participants to write down what their biases might be and why they think they have them. This can be done by letting them recall an occasions where their biases were proven wrong. You can even use an online implicit association test (IAT) to identify their unconscious preferences easier.

3. Create a Simulated Work Environment.

Your employees can definitely benefit from being submerged in a simulated working environment, especially for newer hires. Make sure the simulation involves micro-gestures or lack of eye contact, which are often related to unconscious biases. In a simulated environment, you can conduct interviews, review appraisals and perform relevant tests in dealing with customers. Put your employees in the shoes of recipients of a prejudice. This enlightens them towards their own behavior and makes them realize the damage it can bring, even the subtlest of gestures.

4. Conduct Anonymous Surveys On The Matter.

By conduct anonymous surveys with former employees to better understand the issues they faced, you will know what steps to take for them to come back to you, whether they encourage or discourage prospects from applying for a job at your company. This goes the same with your customers, whether someone who knows your company would encourage or discourage them to patronize your products or services.

5. Get The Right Unconscious Bias Training Program.

Remember that not all of your employees are entitled to take unconscious bias training. This is very important, so you must reserve the slots for those who are passionate about it, as this will be infectious. For your trainers, they should always be highly qualified in social psychology, diversity and attitude formation. It is also imperative that the style they adopt is inclusive, non-threatening. Make sure they do not resort to using guilt trips because this might lead to resentment of the training, rendering it useless.

6. Create a Complaints Channel.

Since most behaviors employees might perceive as unfair are not covered by current laws, such those for bullying and very subtle bias, you should conduct an anonymous and third-party complaint channel, like an ombudsperson. Remember that existing formal complaint channels simply do not work.

7. Engage In De-Biasing And Counter-Stereotyping Activities.

In your training program, it is essential to make associations that contradict existing stereotypes. For instance, you can think about incorporating a medium that features elderly athletes, male nurses or female bus drivers. The objective here is to challenge the expectations of your employees, which will help them determine their own biases.

8. Support Projects That Appeal To Every Color And Sex.

Supporting projects that encourage good images of LGBT people, persons of color and women is also effective in dealing with unconscious biases. When doing so, distribute photos and tell stories that portray stereotype-busting images, which can be newsletters, posters, speaker series, annual reports and podcasts. Studies show that positive images or reputation of specific groups of people is effective in combating hidden bias.

9. Use Micro-Inequities And Micro-Affirmations.

You should make your employees aware of the ways they display micro-inequities that show their unconscious bias at work. These are the little (sometimes barely perceptible) gestures, such as mispronouncing a name repeatedly, eye-rolling and failure to introduce a person, which can leave the subject individual unsure if he/she is really being alienated or just being over-sensitive. If a person constantly experiences these instances, he/she might acquire low self-esteem, which can eventually lead to low productivity or, even, depression.

For micro-affirmations, they are a remedy to micro-inequities. Opposite to micro-inequities, they are little gestures of respect and inclusion that anyone can make. Observing them means an employee is consciously overriding his/her own unconscious biases to become more thoughtful, fairer and more respectful in dealing with colleagues.

10. Facilitate Programs That Promote Diversity.

There are effective programs that increase diversity in the workplace, where you can reward employees who volunteer, create internships and celebrate stories of those who have overcome obstacles successfully.

11. Advocate For Respect And Fair Treatment.

Try to re-frame conversations to focus more on respect and fair treatment, and away from protected classes and discrimination. Review the aspects of employment life cycle for hidden bias through screening resumes, conducting interviews, having on-board assignment processes, mentoring, evaluating performances, promotion and, even, termination.


The bottom line is, it is very important to start putting some initiatives in place to begin the process of helping everyone overcome unconscious biases in your company. With the proper training, this can be done effectively.

Dealing with Unprofessionalism in the Workplace

There are many types of unprofessional behavior in the workplace, which include habitual tardiness, absence, harassment or bringing personal issues to the job. These behaviors can cause disruption to the company as a whole, which means they should be dealt with as soon as possible. Depending on what behavior is demonstrated, you have various ways to deal with it.

1. Disengagement

In some cases, you can just keep your distance from an unprofessional individual at the office and disengage to avoid problems. For example, you can stay away from unnecessary social interactions that are not related to your job. This way you can maintain a healthy professional distance. Likewise, you should not respond to an off-color joke; this might be enough to show your co-worker that his behavior is unwelcome to you.

2. Deciding Whether to Confront or Ignore

When you encounter a colleague with unprofessional behavior, you can choose to either confront or ignore. Specifically, it might be better to disengage, like what was previously suggested to avoid compromising your personal comfort and productivity. For instance, if your office allows you to wear headphones, you can do such to block out the unprofessional co-worker by listening to music and focus on your work. However, if you must collaborate with a colleague, who constantly speaks of personal issues or out-of-topic matters, it is best to confront him/her behavior directly about his/her attitude.

3. Constructive Confrontation

If there is a need to engage in confrontation to deal with a fellow employee’s lack of professionalism, talk about the actual problematic words or behaviors, and not the person. Using “I statements” can be very effective in confrontation without criticizing the person in question. As an example, you can say, “I find it a distraction when you crack practical jokes in our workplace, which makes it difficult for me to perform my job.” You can also simply say to the person, “I am feeling uncomfortable when you make comments about the appearance of our boss.” Focus on your reaction, rather than labeling your colleague as unprofessional, and it will be likely that he will be receptive of your concerns.

4. Addressing Unethical Behavior

In some cases, it might be needed that you report unprofessional behavior to both higher-ups of your company and even the state licensing board if the person in question is working in a regulated profession. If he is a medical professional, then there are codes of ethics he must follow by law. If he is committing breaches to these guidelines, you will have an obligation to report his behavior, especially if it puts you and other people at risk. In situations such as this, confrontation and disengagement might not be applicable, but since each profession has its own ethical reporting and resolution guidelines, talk to your supervisor or your region’s licensing board if you do not clearly know how to handle the situations.

5. Recording and Reporting

Why do you keep records of unprofessional behavior from its outset? Because it can be very helpful should the situation reach a difficult level, where you cannot resolve it yourself. When doing this, write down the place and time, along with a detailed statement about the attitude in question, including the things you have done to try and resolve it. This will make dealing with behavior easier when it continues. If all else fails, you should report the incident to your supervisor, explaining how the lack of professionalism is affecting your performance. You might need to explain that when your colleague comes to your workstation and continues to talk, it pulls your productivity down. When reporting to your superior, bring the records you made.

6. Offering Help

If the person who is acting unprofessional towards you is still not getting it, then you can use a more direct approach, which quietly drawing him aside and raising your concerns with him/her.

7. Leading by Example

Sometimes, people just do not know how to act professionally manner. This is the reason why you should try to subtly point them in the right direction. But first, you have to ensure your own behavior is up to a high standard—appropriately dressed, punctual, polite, has good work ethics, etc.

8. Involving Supervision

If the matter got serious, where your co-worker refuses to change, then a good re-course is, again, involving your supervisor. However, remember to do it in a way that seeks a workable solution, instead of a punitive action against him/her. This is, of course, not a solution when the one acting unprofessionally is your boss. Take note that talking to others outside your office is usually described as whistle-blowing, and this might be too big of a topic to cover. One less hazardous approach to this situation is talking to your co-employees who might be sympathetic to discussing your concern. If it happens that many of you has the same feeling, then you can bring it up with the higher management.

What If The Person in Question is Your Manager?

At work, you are expected to behave in a manner that positively reflects on your company, and unprofessional behavior negates this standard, disrupting work environment. This is more important among managers, who are expected to set a good example for their subordinates, and those who fail in this criterion can damage employee morale. Now, if your manager is unprofessional, try to resolve the issue in a productive manner.

If he violates your company’s code of standards, discuss the issue with him. If this does not work, report the matter to human resources or, worse comes to worst, seek employment elsewhere. Remember that putting up with your boss’s negative conduct would allow him to take you for a doormat. So, earn his respect to change his behavior.

Depending on the severity of you manager’s unprofessional actions, you can try to speak with him tactfully. However, if he is a control freak or simply a jerk, this may be difficult to do, but if the case is severe, such as bullying or abuse, you should report it instantly. Make a document recording such behaviors, as this is needed to prove your claims.

How to Handle Employee Theft

Employee theft takes many shapes. A worker may steal supplies, money, products and other company properties. Some of them may steal time by filling out a time sheet inaccurately, getting paid for hours that they have not worked on. They may violate company policies, improperly use intellectual property, sell trade secrets to competitors, and create false transactions.

Under the circumstances, your business will suffer and you will be placed in a position where your skills and decision-making strategies as a manager will be put to the test. Things could turn for the worse if the culprit is among your most trusted circle of employees. The feeling of betrayal could eat you up, which might cause you to react in an irrational manner. However, there are ways to handle employee theft without blowing things out of proportion. Here are some key things to do.

1. Investigate and Gather Evidence.

Before you start pointing fingers, it is important that you have hard, indisputable proof of the theft. Physical evidence, security footage, financial documents, witness testimonies and every piece of evidence must be documented and cataloged. If necessary, hire a third-party company that specializes in employee theft detection. It is vital that you first confirm your suspicions, before you confront an employee for their wrongdoing. Make sure every proof is well documented, complete with date, time and other remarks that will back up the theft.

2. Thoroughly Evaluate the Situation.

According to research, one of the major reasons that employee theft happens is because the company made it possible and easy. If this is the case, you seriously need to look into your company’s overall security system, and other factors that made the temptation too good to resist. Also, it has been known to happen that workers steal after seeing other senior members doing the same thing. This is why it is very important to evaluate the situation to determine if the act was intentional, out of malice or due to financial constraints.

You should also look into company policies with regards to disciplinary actions specifically designed to deal with employee theft. Then, check on a worker’s history of stealing and possible sanctions that will be imposed.

3. Seek Legal Advice.

Present whatever evidence that will support your suspicion to your legal advisor before making your next move. It is vital that the steps you take follow a legal procedure. In the event that the case escalates to a full blown litigation, you have all your bases covered. Your advisor can also look into the company policy to check if termination is explicitly stated, and that none of the rules violate employee rights or the labor codes.

4. Confront the Employee the Right Way.

One way to minimize the possibility of litigation is to carefully confront a suspected worker. Be ready with the company policy and make sure it thoroughly covers the issue of stealing and includes a list of corresponding sanctions. It is also important that the employee is aware of the company policy, so he can’t use ignorance as a defense.

  • Be very discreet when setting up a meeting. Make sure you don’t give a sort of advanced warning to prevent them from making up lies or alibis. Do not give any indication that you are about to discuss a particularly serious issue with them.
  • During the interview, stay calm and rational. As much as possible, try to avoid using the word theft or thief, as the culprit could turn the tables against you, claiming that they have been falsely accused. Find other ways to address the issue without being too direct, call it violating the rules of intellectual property or falsifying transactions.
  • Present all the evidence that you have gathered to make a strong case against an employee. Make sure that there won’t be an excuse in the world that would save their neck.

4. Mete Out Just Punishment.

Depending on the theft’s severity, you may ask an employee to resign immediately or you can terminate their employment. Whichever is the case, make sure that the method you use is according to company policy, corresponds to legal proceedings as advised, and is well-documented.

If necessary, notify the police, file a report and get a warrant, if the offense calls for it. During confrontation, take extra precautions by having at least one person to accompany you. You should also be prepared for the possibility that an employee could become aggressive or ballistic.

When it is time for a worker to leave, escort him to his desk so he can gather his personal belongings. Don’t forget to collect his company ID, keys, badge, and other items that will provide him access to the office. Then, escort him out of the building.

5. Limit the Damage of Employee Theft As Much As Possible.

When word of the incident will come out, every member of the organization is likely to be affected. To ensure that the drama is contained and that everyone can immediately move on, brief workers right away. Provide a sanitized version of the event and avoid demeaning the offender.

It is also vital that you guide employees on how they can deal with questions coming from vendors, customers and other involved parties. Preparing talking points is one way to go about it, but make sure they don’t sound too rehearsed or scripted. It is important that the case is closed right then and there.

You should also take this time to remind employees that stealing is unforgivable and comes with severe consequences. The same thing is true if they are aware of other dishonest acts, but failed to report it or even helped cover it up.

6. Make Necessary Changes to Prevent Another Case of Stealing.

To prevent a repeat of employee theft, make security and operational changes. Learn from the lesson the unfortunate incident left behind. Some of the things you can do include changing passwords and entry codes in the building and virtual storage systems, and improving the way information is distributed. Contact your bank, credit card companies and other entities that the employee had previous contact with.

Bottom Line

Discovering that someone has been stealing from you in any shape or form is understandably upsetting, especially if the culprit is someone you thought you can trust with your life. Nonetheless, it is vital to deal with the situation properly to avoid bigger and more costly problems, such as a lawsuit.

How to Motivate Lazy Employees

Lazy employees have no place in a business, especially a start up or a struggling one. Not only will your productivity suffer, but other employees are likely to become angry because they need to pick up the slack. So what do you do with them? Although firing them is the first thing you want to do, you might want to take a pause and reconsider. According to studies, employee turnover costs businesses around one-fifth of each worker’s salary, a figure that will significantly add up if firing and hiring becomes a norm.

A company will also incur other costs in other departments. Hiring and firing will result in administrative burdens, with record-keeping being one of the more time-consuming activities, especially with regulations and legislation that need to be dealt with. If a terminated employee decides to sue, the more problems and costs a business will face. Searching for an adequate replacement will also incur added expense.

With the costs and risks involved, firing lazy employees is not the best recourse. So what does an employer like you have to do? Motivate them to be engaged, diligent and hardworking. How do you do this exactly?

1. Have a Straightforward Approach.

Workers that are less than enthusiastic about their job may not be a real slacker. They could just be bored, disengaged and looking for more interesting tasks. By having a frank discussion with them, you may gain an insight as to why they are underperforming. Once you know the reasons for their lack of enthusiasm, be sure to express where you think they fit in the organization. You should also tell them how vital they are to the company, giving them a sense of belonging. Through good communication, you can manage your employees better.

2. Set Clear Goals For Your Staff.

Put yourself in a worker’s shoe and think about how you would feel if you wake up one day asking yourself, “What am I doing here”? For a staff to fully appreciate their work, they need to feel that they have a purpose. And the only way they will achieve this is when they know what is expected of them. So make sure to set clear goals, provide targets for your workers, and ensure that they keep their eye on the prize.

3. Develop a Rewards System That Will Motivate.

Some employees may view rewards as overrated that, no matter how attractive, they would not make an effort to get them. This is why you must create a rewards system that workers will view as worth the effort. It starts with involving them in the development and implementation of the incentive program. If you value their input and select a few of their suggested rewards, they will be encouraged to work hard to obtain the incentives. Rewards can be monetary or more paid vacations.

Similar to setting a clear goal, you should also make sure that everyone understands how rewards are earned. Create a set of performance standards that are reasonable and transparent, effectively showing employees what is expected of them. If possible, create a dashboard where employee performance can be viewed in real time.

4. Consider Adding More Responsibilities.

Is it clear to you that an employee is underperforming because he’s bored and doesn’t find his job challenging enough? Well, you should use this information to your advantage. Heap on more tasks and projects to that particular worker and you will be hitting two birds with one stone. Not only will you transform him from a slacker to an industrious individual, but a company’s productivity will also increase.

There are many ways that this move can go wrong, however. This is why it is vital that you carefully assess where an employee’s talent is most suitable, and assign tasks accordingly. Piling up the wrong kind of tasks to an unmotivated person, will only make matters worse.

5. Identify Internal Factors That Are Causing Workers To Be Lazy.

Similar to tardiness or absenteeism, underperformance can be caused by other factors existing in the office. This is especially true if the problem is not isolated to just one or two employees. The best thing you can do is to roll out an employee survey to find out what is and is not working in your place of business, such as long work hours, compressed work week, lack of employee interaction, and general concerns about the office environment.

6. Make Advancement or Promotions Within Easy Reach.

An offer of promotion is likely to perk up bored and disengaged employees, but the only way it will become a motivational tool is when they know it is tangible and achievable. So create standards and expectations that clearly show how workers can rise up the ranks. Make sure there are enough advancement opportunities as well, as this is the best way for staff to know that they would not be stuck on a job that is going nowhere.

It would also help if you offer more training for workers to develop new skill sets needed to climb the corporate ladder. Doing so also shows that you are committed to see them succeed, which would instill in them a great appreciation for the company and their work. If additional training is not possible, a refresher course will suffice, as this will help employees to refocus on their career.

7. Make Small Changes in the Office.

Add an area in the workplace where employees can enjoy a real break. It doesn’t have to be the kind that Google offers, but it must be relaxing, comfortable, private and properly jazzed up.

In terms of operation, consider setting a job-rotation program for workers to enjoy a change of scenery. Giving them an opportunity to see how other people work, will also help them refocus their sights on the bigger picture.

Bottom Line

Employees underperform or slack off not necessarily because they are incompetent or lazy, but because they are disconnected, disengaged and could not identify themselves with their work. Since threatening and firing them would not work, take on a more counterintuitive approach to dealing and motivating lazy employees. The worst thing you can do is to alienate such workers. Using the right strategies, you can turn them into your secret weapon.

How to Handle Disgruntled Employees

Handling disgruntled employees requires patience, experience and intelligence. Employees can be happy, frustrated, disappointed or disgruntled for numerous reasons. From pay to benefits, job satisfaction to the work environment, colleagues to company policies, professional aspirations to expectations and more; one or several factors can be the root cause.

Not only does a manager or a leader need to delve into the details to find the root cause but one also has to address the issues forming the crux to resolve the whole problem. The trouble is that resolving the issues is not always possible and it is also no guarantee that the steps taken would be to the liking or expectations of disgruntled employees. Here is a brief guide to help managers, team leaders and entrepreneurs or business owners handle disgruntled employees.

1. Handle the Situation Professionally

Before you start to do anything or take any steps, remember to be professional. Disgruntled employees often shun professionalism and they do things that can be quite infuriating. But as managers, team leaders or business owners, one cannot lose or compromise the acceptable standards of professionalism in a workplace.

Yelling, abusing or swearing, heated discussions, stooping down to unprofessional levels or getting personal are not the right ways of dealing with disgruntled employees. Talking to these employees in a calm environment, not trying to oppose or negate, reject or discard what they have to say and trying to relate to the concerns raised is the way forward.

2. Quickly Communicate

Disgruntled employees must not be left unattended. Many leaders or managers and even peers think that disgruntled employees would regain their former demeanor and approach at work but allowing the problem to fester would exponentially worsen the crisis. Often, employees become more disgruntled when their concerns are not attended to. When they feel that their issues are not being listened to or addressed, when they feel they are not being treated well or with importance by their superiors and when they get a feeling that their reactions or scenarios may not bear any consequence; it is then they are likely to get worse. To keep things under control, disgruntled employees must be talked to at the very instant when the first warning signs become obvious.

3. Deal with the Situation in Private

Disgruntled employees must always be dealt with in private. Discussions on the floor or in an open environment where other employees or people can get to know the particulars of the crisis and losing control of the situation in the open would have larger adverse consequences.

4. Use Documentation

Disgruntled employees should never be appeased and all correspondences must be official and within the ambit of the professional roles. No correspondence should be on a personal note, every event or incident must be recorded and there should be a trail of documents or official notifications to track the progress or worsening of the scenario.

5. Be Positive

An effective way of handling disgruntled employees is to take the positive approach. Instead of delving into all the negative aspects or the concerns, it is easier to talk about the company’s achievements and what it is aiming to do, how the future prospects can be better for the employees and how they have been making an impact on a broader canvas. Harping on the negatives will be counterproductive.

6. Have a Personal Approach

There can never be a generic approach to handle disgruntled employees as there are different kinds of reactions and not every person has the same level of influence in the company. A disgruntled fresher is much less hazardous for the organization than a disgruntled manager or senior executive. Hence, it is necessary to look at the scenario in the right perspective. When disgruntled employees start to influence others, they must be isolated. All powers or contexts of influence must be diluted and it is worthwhile to consider asking the employee to go on a leave if the impact on others is being substantial.

7. Stay on Issue

Handling disgruntled employees from the righteous perspective is also desirable in many instances. It is quite possibly that the disgruntlement is due to valid reasons. In such cases, attending to the core issue will resolve the problem. If that is not possible, then a humane approach must be taken, one of consideration so the employees don’t feel they are being shunned or their interests are not being taken seriously.

Taking an angry tone, adopting a rigid or inflexible standpoint, not hearing the concerns of the disgruntled employees, completely believing their version, getting engrossed in the issues or neglecting them entirely and indulging in assumptions and preconceived notions are wrong approaches.

It is necessary to make small gestures to appear as flexible and someone who cares about disgruntled employees. But don’t allow them to take you for granted or to start exploiting the company’s leniency to an extent that it harms the interests of the company and everyone else working for the firm.

Dealing with Body Odor in the Workplace

Body odor is part of the human condition but as a manager or a supervisor, it can be a difficult thing for you to deal with. Since it is a fault of an employee that they may take personally, it can bring up a lot of issues with human resources and how the employee feels like they’re being treated in the workplace. As a sensitive issue, it is imperative that you take advantage of the following tips to make sure that you deal with body odor in the most ethical way possible.

Step 1: Setting Expectations

It’s not wrong for an employer to set expectations about hygiene in the office, much like it is okay for an employer to set dress codes in the office. Make sure that you post signs around the building to let people know that there is a standard that must be followed and if they do not follow it, then consequences may occur. It is advised that you work with your HR department to devise the best plan possible for letting your employees know that a high level of hygiene is imperative for the business’ success.

Step 2: Having the Conversation

This is the step where you have to be weary because gossip can travel throughout the entire office and it can make everyone feel uncomfortable. Even if you have heard rumors about an employee that supposedly has bad body odor, make sure that you confirm it for yourself before you single them out.

Once you’ve found the perpetrator, make sure that you pull them aside in a discreet location where no one will be able to hear your conversation. At that point you will want to tell them that their body odor is a significant problem in the workplace and it is harming the productivity about others around them. Be prepared for the answer that they may have in return as there are many reasons for why people have bad body odor, ranging from religion to personal lifestyle choices. You may even find out that the person was unaware of their smell and will take the necessary steps to make sure that the problem does not persist.

Having the conversation is a great way for you to let them know that they need to work on their hygiene and they will certainly become aware of the fact that it is a significant problem. Be honest, direct, and as kind as possible as this will get the point across. You will also want to remember that it is possible that their odor is a result of a medical condition and if that is the case, be empathetic.

Step 3: Offering Help

Now that you have had the conversation with your employee and they know about their body odor problem, offer them assistance if they seem open to accepting your help. Give them tips about different products that they can use to help with the odor or perhaps suggest that they bring an extra change of clothes to work.

You might even want to suggest that they see a doctor if they think that it’s a medical problem that they’ve been dealing with for years. Legally, you are responsible for working with the employee to resolve their hygiene problems as it is seen as a part of disability.

Step 4: Eliminating Gossip

Body odor isn’t something that a select few people will notice, in fact, everyone in the office will know about how the person smells. If the person with body odor is walking through the hallway and you notice people making faces or noticeably stepping aside, try to confront the issue head-on.

Even if you hear people gossiping about their lack of hygiene, it is your responsibility to make sure that you instill a positive and comfortable environment for everyone. If co-workers are going out of their way to make a big deal about the other person’s body odor, you will have to discipline and reprimand them.

Step 5: Educating Your Employees

When you place posters around the workplace about scents and hygiene, make sure that you take the time to teach them about the policies that are now in place. Your human resources department will be able to help you determine the best method for approaching the topic. They may even be able to give the discussion on your behalf.

Make sure that you address any health concerns that could be related to body odor or unappealing scents and also talk about how perfumes and colognes can affect the health of others. You can choose if you want to hold a company meeting, a presentation, or even send out an email that everyone can read through.

Body odor is a natural thing that everyone goes through and to create a safe and comfortable workplace, you should take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your employees.