Ways to Deal with Micromanaging in the Workplace

We’ve all had that one boss that leaves us page-long documents on our desk every morning of things that she wants us to complete. They’ll then constantly check up with our progress throughout the day to make sure that everything is being completed up to their standards. Micromanaging is not only an annoying trait of a boss or a co-worker, but it is also something that can make your everyday life incredibly difficult. Learning how to deal with micromanaging in the workplace is essential to save you from dreading going into work.

1. Eliminating the Need

Instead of trying to fight fire with fire, try to lay out an area where the fire cannot even start. Eliminate every possibility that could lead to someone in your job trying to micromanage your entire day. The first thing that you will want to do is look through the progress that you make on a daily basis to keep track of whether there is any lag in your performance that warrants nitpicking and nagging.

Are you intentionally or unintentionally letting work slip through the cracks? Are you frequently late for work or do you miss deadlines often? If this is the case, you can expect to be micromanaged for a while until these behaviors stop.

2. Know What They Want Before They Do

Another great way to reduce the amount of micromanaging in the workplace is to know what the person wants before they even know it and make sure that it’s done. If you know that there are tasks that they’re going to ask you to complete the next day, make sure that they are finished well before they even have the chance to ask you.

The more that you make sure that their needs are met before they can even ask you, they will be less likely to keep reminding you of things as the days go on. In fact, it will help to increase the amount of trust that your boss and employees have in you.

3. Be Proactive with Updates

The one trait that we all know micromanagers have is to ask for updates as soon as possible. When they know the amount of progress that is being completed on a project, they can feel comfortable that the project will be done. As an important part of their team it is your responsibility to make sure that you stay up-to-date with updates. You won’t want to leave your boss in the dark and force them to come to you often and escalate their micromanaging.

4. Talk to Your Boss

Make sure that you put forth the effort to make sure that your boss knows how you feel. You obviously won’t want to corner them or put them in a difficult situation, but you will obviously want to have them know that their micromanaging is affecting your productivity and happiness. If you do decide to talk to your boss about their habits, make sure that they understand that it’s better for the business if they let you give updates whenever you can, instead of being pushed for them.

It can be uncomfortable to approach this topic with certain bosses or even if you are working for a large corporation, ask your boss if they can let you complete a small project on your own from start to finish and then give a progress report at the end of the task. It’s a great learning opportunity for yourself and for your boss to take a look at your work methods and ethic. Also, if you are able to completely blow your boss away, it’ll look even better.

5. Talk about Projects Beforehand

If you know that there is a big project in the near future, make sure that you go through all of the minute details about it with your boss. Create a step by step plan that you can review with your superiors and get their approval before you start working. Make sure that you include the amount of times that you’ll send progress reports and when they can expect to get updated on the project.

The next step is to make sure that you actually stick to the plan that you developed so they can have that level of trust with you. As an example, if it’s going to take you 4 weeks to complete, make sure that all of the week for week 1 is complete and the progress report is sent on Friday. That way your boss will know when it’s appropriate to micromanage and nitpick every detail in the event that you don’t deliver on time.

Micromanaging is a habit that every boss has to some degree. As an employee it can deter your progress and make it difficult to their standards but by gaining the trust of your boss, you will be able to limit their micromanaging.

Examples of Observational Learning in the Workplace

Learning can happen in many different forms, especially in the workplace. Observational learning is one of the best ways for employers and employees to learn how to do their job better, how to communicate effectively with one another, or how to be a model employee. People with different personalities will learn better under certain circumstances and being able to take advantage of observational learning can be quite beneficial.

With the use of hands-on experience, your employees will learn quickly and effectively. They will also learn how to apply their newly learned skills to every aspect of the workplace. The most successful companies in the world know how to not only use observational learning but to also take advantage of it.

What is Observational Learning?

Observational learning occurs when you see another person doing one thing and you later perform the same job elsewhere. There are four stages to the process: attention, retention, production, and motivation. You would be surprised at the sheer amount of observational learning you experience throughout your lifetime from when you are a child to when you are raising children of your own.

Examples of Observational Learning

1. Disciplining Employees
If you notice that some people in your team are exhibiting detrimental behavior that brings negativity into the workplace, make sure that you take the time to discipline them. Whether you pull them into your office to have a one-on-one discussion or if you write them up for their negative behavior, they must learn that what they are doing is unacceptable. It is equally important for their coworkers to see that you do not approve of the behavior and it will prevent them from also doing it.

2. Being a Great Leader
It is imperative that as the owner of a company or a high level manager it is important that you take the necessary steps to be a great leader. Your employees will want to model themselves after you as they will want the same success that you have. In order to make sure that they have a great example, you also have to be a great leader. Avoid interoffice relationships, avoid gossip, and be the primary example of a fair and noble manager. All of these traits are imperative to create a positive working environment that everyone can enjoy.

How to Use Observational Learning

Step 1: Shadowing
As humans we learn the best from our peers so if you’re looking to hire new people onto the team, have them shadow different employees for the entire day. At times, new applicants don’t actually know what the job entails until you’ve already hired them and putting them in the workplace environment will help them to understand what is required. Instead of hiring someone on blindly where you’ll lose money because of productivity, recruiting costs, and extensive training costs, allow them to immerse themselves in the workplace before they even started.

Step 2: On-the-Job Training
We’ve all had that one job where we had to sit at a computer and learn about the things that are required of us in the workplace but nothing compares to on-the-job training. When you have a new hire entering the workplace, assign them to a seasoned professional that knows the ins and outs of their duties. This way they will have hands-on learning and observational learning (by watching their mentor) combined which is highly effective for retaining the most information.

Step 3: Allowing Lower-Level Employees to Partake in Important Tasks
As time goes on, your lower-level employees will become an important part of your company through promotions. Instead of promoting them without any idea of what is expected of them, when they’re near a higher place in the office assign them to a mentor that can teach them the ropes. Bring them into board meetings, meetings with stockholders, and even executive meetings so they will have a better idea of how the strategic decisions in the company are made.

This is especially important for middle managers as them being able to fully understand why decisions are made will help them to motivate their team to make the right and best decisions possible.

Observational learning is one of the best ways for many people to learn and when you combine it with hands-on training, you will be developing new employees into professionals that will help to increase productivity within the workplace. By showing that you are a great leader and by giving your employees ample opportunities to refine and learn new skills by watching, you will surely be able to take advantage of everything that observational learning has to offer.

Whether you begin inviting lower-level employees to executive meetings so they can learn the inner workings of the business or if you have a struggling sales professional attend a sales meeting where they can learn off of their peers, observational learning is everywhere in the workplace.

How to Handle Malicious Gossip in the Workplace

As a manager you will be faced with difficult situations and situations that you are generally uncomfortable with, including dealing with malicious gossip in your workplace. Dealing with gossiping employees in the swiftest way possible is the best thing that you can do for your employees. When you take the steps to encourage positive gossiping, it will help to eliminate the need for malicious gossip.

It is not only your responsibility to make sure that your employees are comfortable while at work, but you also need to make sure that your department is achieving its objectives and goals. This can be incredibly difficult if you enter a workplace where the gossiping is seen as more important as daily tasks at work. The good news is that as soon as you realize that the gossiping has begun, you’ll know exactly where to stop it before it runs rampant.

Is Negative Gossip Really Harmful?

The main concern with negative gossip is that it hurts productivity in the workplace. It also leads to issues with morale because your employees will start distrusting the people that they work with. You will begin to notice that the great employees that you have will start looking for jobs elsewhere and you may even have liability issues when your employees begin deeming the workplace unsafe and filled with harassment.

Addressing the Perpetrators

The first step to getting malicious gossip to stop is to address the person that is starting it. You will want to make sure that you create a one-on-one discussion in a confidential location where the perpetrator will feel comfortable. The main purpose of this discussion is to tell them about their behavior and how it’s negatively impacting the workplace environment. You will need to work with them to help them understand what the consequences are of such behavior and if it continues, the steps that will need to be taken. As an example, write-ups, demotions, or even loss of job.

Meeting with the Team

After you have spoken to the specific individuals that are responsible for the gossip, you will now want to discuss the situation with the rest of your team. Consider hosting a weekly meeting that discusses the negative impact that gossip has and helping the rest of your team clearly understand the difference between positive and negative gossip. You will then want to work with your team to help change the department into a positive environment.

Meeting with the Victim

This can be a sensitive part of gossip but it is important that you talk to the victim of the gossip to let them know that they are not alone and if they feel uncomfortable, they can talk to you whenever they need guidance. You will want to make sure that they know that gossip is unacceptable and you are working to make it known that it is not tolerated.

Encouraging Positive Gossip

There is such a thing as positive gossip and it can be great for employees and companies. Everyone will want to share positive stories with each other to give something for people to talk about. You can share stories about situations where employees helped a customer through proper communication or even if an employee comes up with an idea that changes the fate of the department in a positive way. The more that you encourage positive behavior, the better your workplace will be.

Be the Leader

As a manager you will be the prime example of what your employees should seek to follow and you must model the behavior that you want to see them emulate. Much like a parent and their children, your employees will watch you to see what is acceptable and unacceptable in the office. Changing your own habits isn’t easy but if you want your employees to be better, you have to be better first.

Stay Away from Gossip

As another aspect of making sure that you set a good example for your employees, stay away from gossip as often as possible while you’re in the office. If someone is likely to make up gossip about you, there is a high probability that they’re going to be able to do it to someone else as well. Instead of joining in on the conversation, tell the gossipers that what they’re saying is inappropriate and untrue.

Avoid Generalizations

When you are focusing on the difficulties that the office is experiencing you will want to avoid using generalizations at all costs. As an example, you will want to avoid sending out an email blast that simply states that office gossip isn’t going to be tolerated. It is an incredibly ineffective way to handle the situation and it doesn’t single out the offenders so they know that what they’re doing is wrong. Instead, you can give your supervisors training to learn how to effectively manage and address negative employees directly.

How to Measure Employee Satisfaction

As a business owner it is your responsibility to make sure that your employees are extremely happy with the way that you operate your business. If they aren’t, you will notice a decrease in production, horrible ratings from customers, and a bad morale throughout the entire office. Measuring employee satisfaction is essential to ensure the success of your business and there are many different ways that you can do it.

Knowing Your Employees

The first step to being able to successfully measure whether your employees are happy or not is to know who they are, what they expect, and what they enjoy. You will want to know under what circumstances your employees work their hardest, what factors help them to feel better when they come into the work place, and what you can do to make their lives easier.

Once you have a general idea of the personalities of the people that you have hired, you will be able to apply one (or many) of the below methods to actually determine whether they are completely satisfied or not.

1. Off-the-Shelf Surveys

There are hundreds of different off-the-shelf surveys that you can buy online and distribute throughout your office. These are comprised of general questions that measure the happiness of your employees. Although they are the most convenient method for figuring out if there are any issues in the workplace, they can feel relatively impersonal and can give off a bad impression.

As an example, in comparison to seeing a survey that has been specifically written for a group of people, answering generic questions like “Are you satisfied with your job?” “Would higher wages make you happier?” can be rather redundant and annoying for your employees.

2. Creating Personalized Surveys

After you have analyzed your employees, you will have a general idea of any issues that are arising in the workplace. When you’re creating personalized surveys, make sure that you include these issues and have your employees give you an idea of what you can do to fix them.

This way they will feel like they are part of the decision making process and it will not only make them feel important but increase their morale simply by taking a survey. As an example, if you have heard rumors that the lunch room is too small, ask your employees what they think could be done to make the lunch room more comfortable.

3. Hiring Outside Help

Another great way to get an idea of how your employees are feeling is to hire outside help from a research firm that specializes in social sciences. It is essentially like getting a HR group that has the sole purpose of analyzing your employees and reporting back to you. One of the most important things to think about when you consider hiring these professionals is the fact that your employees will be more likely to tell them the truth than if you were to talk to them yourself. In fact, you may be able to get a better idea of all of the things wrong in the workplace when you decide to hire and external agency.

If you do not have the budget to hire someone else, direct the employees to your own HR department as they are professionals that also specialize in employee satisfaction. If your HR department has enough time and enough resources, consider asking them for help but make sure that their opinions are also taken into account.

4. Face-to-Face Conversations

We’re all human and as a manager or the owner of a business, you have to be quite intuitive to be successful. You have probably noticed that some employees are doing worse than others or you may have seen some groups of people isolating themselves from the team. In the event that you are concerned about the satisfaction of some employees, take the time to bring them into your office and talk to them about their happiness in the workplace.

Face-to-face conversations are a great way to improve the interaction between employer and employee. When you take the time to talk to your employees, you will help them to feel like they’re a crucial part of the team and this alone can help to make the feel more satisfied with how the office operates.

The satisfaction of your employees is not only important for your bottom line, but it is also important to make sure that the workplace is safe and healthy. You will begin to notice that less problems will arise in the office throughout the year and everyone will be happier when they make their way into the office every day. There are dozens of different ways that you can measure the satisfaction of your team, whether through surveys or interviews with HR or yourself. Either way, they will give you an idea of what can be improved to make the workplace better.

How to Deal with Employees with Bad Attitudes

As much as you’d like to think that it’s something that you’re doing wrong, every workplace has employees with negative attitudes that completely ruin everyone’s morale. At times they may not be easy to pick out of the crowd but over time they can do a significant amount of damage in the workplace. In most cases they won’t be openly negative every day but their bad attitudes will eat away at your company’s goals every week throughout the year.

How to Identify the Bad Attitude Employees

You may be wondering, who are these people and how can I identify them? Look out for these key traits:

  • Always find something to complain about and will exaggerate any mistakes that their coworkers make.
  • Begin to spread gossip throughout the office and start rumors that may make one group of people angry at another group.
  • Talk behind their coworkers’ backs or even your back.
  • Undermine the authority of their supervisors and managers with criticism that is basically under the radar. This is the most difficult trait to be aware of as it is rarely corrected or even recognized.

Step 1: Diagnosing the Problem

Before you come up with an actionable plan, you will want to diagnose the problem by asking yourself a few questions about the behaviour of said employees.

  • How does their behavior impact their work and their working environment?
  • What are the differences between their behavior and the behavior of an ideal employee at your company?
  • How does their behavior affect the people that they work directly with and are they influencing others to be negative as well?
  • If they started working well based on your standards and ideals, would it make a difference in the workplace?

Depending on the answers from these questions, you will be able to decide whether it’s worth it to try to discuss what the employee is doing or if you should fire them for inappropriate conduct. It will also help you to move forward with the next steps.

Step 2: Build Your Case

Before you begin to talk to anyone about their behavior, you will want to make sure that you have a case built against the person. It is important that you have actual evidence to suggest that their attitude is negative affecting the way that the business operates. Whether you talk to other employees or if you talk to their superiors, you will want to make sure that you have proof of why you need to talk to them in the first place.

This can be useful for when you move onto step 4 and begin discussing repercussions that will occur if they don’t improve their attitude.

Step 3: Having the First Conversation

If you’ve decided that you want to keep the employee around because they’re valuable when they’re positive, it will be your responsibility to sit them down and have a conversation with them. Communication is the most important part of any relationship, particularly a workplace one. Keep the conversation revolving around getting better results from their behavior and make sure that you focus on the positives. You won’t want to dumb the employee down or make them feel worse than they already do. Focus on their positive traits and if they don’t seem to be improving, then move on to discuss the negative outcomes that they will experience if they don’t change.

Be specific about the results that you want to see, as an example, happier results from customers that call into the company. Also, make sure that you use the word “we” instead of “you” as it will prevent you from isolating the individual. There is a high probability that it will be a conversation filled with awkward silences but remember, it’s not your job to fill them. Let the silences happen and wait for the other party to say something first.

Step 4: Discuss the Repercussions

Depending on the maturity of the individual that you are talking to, it may be difficult to have them actually see the damage that they are bringing to the workplace. In the event that they don’t change their turn after your first conversation, you will want to tell them what will happen if their behavior continues.

At this point they already know what you expect of them and they could purposely be ignoring your previous talk due to their lack of respect for authority. This is when you will want to be assertive and essentially “show them who’s boss”. Tell them that if they do not begin to abide by the standards of every other employee in the workplace, their future at the company could be in jeopardy.

You can look at this step as their second warning and their third warning will be a walk out of the building with their belongings in hand.

How to Supervise Difficult Employees

Whether a company is business is with less than ten workers or a multi-million dollar enterprise with more than a hundred employees, chances are, there will be few or several members of the staff who are difficult to deal with. If this situation is overlooked or deliberately ignored, this can disrupt smooth operations and impede productivity of the workforce as a whole.

There are those who do not get along well with their colleagues while others are poor performers. Or it may be that an employee who has been with the company for so long feels to be superior over new hires. A handful regularly reports late to work without consideration for the company’s policies.

The list can be unending and not nipping it in the bud, so to speak, can backfire in the end. Having one or two employees with attitude is commonplace and inevitable. Given the different backgrounds, cultures and in most instances, nationalities, this can be challenging. This is not to mention each individual has his or her own personality. However, this does not mean the problem cannot be rectified.

Handling difficult employees and being on top of the situation can be done with a game plan and the right management skills.

Acknowledge the Presence of a Problem

The first order of business is to be aware and ready to accept things in the workplace will not always be perfect. Members of the team will have different opinions, coping skills and approach to the challenges at work. This reality can sometimes lead to less productivity and harmony among members of the team. If a particular employee performs well but is not a team player or he or she someone who cannot meet the deadlines, thus puts the whole team’s performance in the line, something has to be done.

Identify the Negative Behavior and Handle Accordingly

There are several types of difficult employees to contend with who need to be dealt with differently. The key here is to identify the type of employee in order to address the concern the proper way and get favorable results.

The Indecisive Doer
An employee might have the potential of doing an excellent job but lacks the skill in decision-making which ends with him or her not meeting deadlines. This can be resolved by being stricter with deadlines and laying down consequences for unfinished tasks.

The Soloist
There are people who are uncomfortable working with other people and who lack interpersonal skills. If a member of the staff is a stickler when it comes to working alone on an assignment that requires team effort, giving incentives to the team as a whole can resolve the problem.

Another way to handle this type of person is to channel his energy to a task that does not require him or her to work in a group. Probably this can motivate him to work much better and in the end, maximize his potential. This can even work both ways, the employee being happy and more driven while the company benefits from the employee’s output.

The Rebel
This is the type who does not care about the company’s dress code, is always late and more often than not, breaks office rules. These might seem trivial like having a pep talk with other employees during office hours or throwing jokes in the middle of a meeting but in the long run can waste productive time.

What can be done here is to bring this up with the person concerned and be stricter on tardiness and attendance issues. Memos and warnings, stipulating the consequences at hand are effective here.

Talk and Listen to the Concerned Employee

If there is an issue with a particular employee, gather all the information related to the problem so as to know the how to tackle the issue. The next step is to bring it to the person’s attention. Set up a meeting with the employee or employees concerned and listen to what he or they have to say. Being confrontational during the discussion is not the solution.

It may be that the employee is not aware of his behavior or its effect on his colleagues and the company. It might even be that he or she is having a personal problem that has been affecting the performance. By listening and communicating with the individual, the management will be able to come up with a more concrete solution and even refer the employee to counseling or mentorship.

Get Human Resources into the Picture

As a manager or owner who has direct responsibility over the performance and behavior team, the burden of articulating the problem is part of the job. However, getting the Human Resource team on board is equally important. This way, proper documentation can be prepared and filed. Consequently, the employee will be aware that management will not tolerate improper behavior and wrong practices. This will also keep the management from a possible lawsuit in case the management resorts to dismiss the employee. The HR department can also help in facilitating for career trainings to improve the personal and working skills of employees.

Work with the Employee in Addressing the Problem

After informing the difficult employee about the issues concerning his behavior and performance, making him or her proactive in improving the situation not only gives a sense of responsibility but also boosts the morale of the individual. Make him or her come up with an action plan and timetable to achieve his or her goals. Also, state the consequences in case failure still results despite the opportunity given to the employee.

Do not Put off Termination If Inevitable

If all the guidelines have been followed and the employee still deliberately stirs operations at the workplace or continuously breaks the rules, dismissing him or her might be the best thing to do. This entails proper documentation and a series of both verbal and written communication before actually proceeding with the process.

Conclusion

Coping with difficult employees is part of running and managing a business. Failure to address this issue can greatly affect not only the company itself but also the other members of the team. It is true, some employees can be too hot to handle. However, knowing there are effective ways to address this concern can make a big difference. The key here is not to look at the concerned employee as the problem right away, make him or her part of the solution at first.

How to Layoff an Employee Gracefully

Employees are the pillars of a business, people who contribute significantly in building a company’s reputation. And although finding the right members of the team can be a process that needs to be done painstakingly, the end result can be rewarding. However, there will be inevitable circumstances that call for a much challenging and harder task, the job of terminating an employee.

Deciding to end the employment of a team member, either for poor performance or the need of the company to downsize, informing someone that his or her services are no longer needed can be both as stressful for a manager as well as to the employee being fired. Doing the process correctly and handing it as professionally as possible can make a whole lot of difference on how the terminated employee takes the news. This can also lessen, if not totally erase the guilt most managers feel for letting go of a staff member, especially one who has contributed much to the team and have worked for the company for a long time.

Albeit the outcome will still be the same, doing the termination process the right way will prevent miscommunication or worse, impending lawsuit. It is important to remember that for most people, losing a job does not only mean having to look for another one. It can affect an individual’s self-esteem, personal life and finances. Breaking the news in a smooth and objective manner will definitely help.

Have Ample Time to Plan Ahead

Even before the inception of company operations, it is crucial to research on the federal and state laws that protect the rights of the employers and employees such as discriminatory firing related to sex, age and religion, among others. It is safe to say that planning on terminating an employee should start on the day he or she was hired.

Important points such as term of contract, company policies with regard to attendance and absenteeism and grounds for termination as well the company’s right to terminate employment for project-based employees once the project is finished. Documenting employee issues which should include performance reviews and warnings are crucial in justifying the reason for performance-related terminations. The key here is to document and file all the interactions between the management and employees including dates to prevent future litigation from unjust dismissal.

Set up the Meeting

The day of informing an employee about the termination is crucial as much as it is difficult, probably the hardest part of the process. Keep in mind this decision can be a major blow to any individual, considering the emotional and financial impact on the part of the person having to suffer unemployment. It is important to be on to have the following aspects covered:

1. Choose the Proper Venue and Time
Terminating an employee in a restaurant or at the manager’s office should not even come to mind at this time. It is proper to talk to the person involved in a conference room, together with the HR personnel as a witness and to expound on some issues, if necessary. Also, see to it that the meeting takes place in the morning or at a time when most of the staff are busy attending to their responsibilities. This will prevent the terminated employee from embarrassment

2. Be Brief and Firm but with Compassion
The meeting should not last more than 30 minutes to avoid arguments that might ensue, given the decision is irrevocable and final. Moreover, letting the employee stay in the room longer might even add to the hurt and disappointment. Tell the employee the real reason for the dismissal, whether it is for poor performance or structural changes in the company. Keep the explanation short but also show compassion by being accurate pointing out the strengths of the employee, especially if the company had to let go for financial reasons. Should questions or sentiments arise, listen. This will help the employee in coping with and coming to terms with reality.

3. Offer Severance Package and Compensation
On the day of the meeting, ensure that the employee gets his or her final paycheck as well as the other benefits that are yet to be received. These include unused vacation leaves converted to cash and bonuses. If termination is in the middle of the month, giving a whole month’s salary is fair to lessen the financial burden on the employee. If a severance package is offered, it will help to hand it to the employee at this time. This will lessen the weight of getting fired on the person concerned and shift the attention on how he or she can start anew.

4. Ensure a Smooth Transition
Toward the end of the meeting, it is equally important to see to it that the exit is smooth sailing. Give the employee ample time to clean his or her desk, return company-issued property, i.e., keys, phones and laptops. This also includes revoking access and use of passwords and software permissions. Files and documents owned by the company should be surrendered following the termination.

5. Go the Extra Mile to Provide Assistance
Before the meeting ends, it helps to extend some help to the employee by giving information on the developments and trends in the industry. This can lead the employee to potential opportunities available elsewhere. Recommendation letters, referrals and job placements are also a big help to start with a clean slate.

6. Conclude the Termination Meeting Professionally
After the termination process is over and all documents have been handed and signed, do not forget to wish the employee the best of luck and seal it with a firm handshake. Although letting go of any employee is tough, it can still end positively without both parties losing respect and dignity.

Conclusion

Telling someone he or she is being dismissed from the company can definitely put a manager under fire and is never an easy task. However, with proper planning and the right skills, both the company and the terminated employee can handle the situation gracefully and with less tension.

Workplace Wellness Challenge Ideas

A high absenteeism rate may be caused by a lot of things, but sickness is often a major factor. This is why ergonomics and a wellness program should be part of a company’s strategic plans. Unfortunately, wellness programs are often viewed as nothing more than a nice extra. In some cases, they are viewed as a chore, rather than a means to improve employee health and welfare.

What some companies don’t know is that they are missing out on a lot of benefits without a wellness plan in place. A recent federal health care legislation, for example, offers U.S. companies tax incentives and grants when they implement wellness programs. Also, when employees, especially an aging workforce, stay healthy, an organization can reduce its health care costs.

Johnson and Johnson certainly enjoyed huge returns from their wellness programs. From 2002 to 2008, the company cumulatively saved $250 million on healthcare expenses.

A cardiac rehabilitation and exercise program in one worksite also resulted in 57% of high health risk employees reaching a low-risk status.

Due in part to a highly effective employee wellness program, the voluntary turnover rate at SAS Institute is only at 4%.

Given these figures, there is no reason for a company not to follow suit. After all, employees have the right stay healthy in the workplace, and a business can surely benefit from lower health care cost and higher productivity.

Not everyone, however, would be receptive to the idea. Even if all the wellness solutions are provided, employees may not make an effort to make use of them. Well, why not throw a workplace wellness challenge?

Launch a Wellness Contest

Cincinnati-based Kroger Co. started a branded “I Can Do That! Walking Challenge,” where each division and business unit tracks the number of steps they take using a pedometer and then logging in their progress per week on a website. In 2012, 32,000 employees logged 3.7 million steps and lost a total of 57,500 pounds.

The American Licorice Co. in Union City, California also launched a Biggest Loser challenge where employees will receive amazing incentives if they shed pounds throughout the 13-week contest. Suffice to say that 71% of those who participated did lose weight.

By holding a contest and offering prizes, a wellness program would be exciting, and a lot of people would be encouraged to take part in it.

Create Simple Challenges And Start From There

There are different challenges that a company can organize to raise awareness about workplace wellness or use as a stepping stone for introducing a more comprehensive health program. Challenges can be categorized as physical, emotional or work-related.

  • Set up a physical exam or health screen challenge so employees can understand their current health condition. Anyone who takes the exam will win the challenge.
  • Introduce a Mile-per-Day program where employees can choose from different aerobic activities that would help them complete or cover an equivalent of a one-mile distance. For instance, they can walk or bike to work with each trip counted on a daily basis.
  • Challenge employees to eat five servings of fruits and/or vegetables per day. Count each serving as one point.
  • Have employees volunteer at a community organization to satisfy the challenge and help out the community at the same time.
  • Challenge workers to complete an activity with a colleague or with a group. Every completed activity earns one point.
  • Turn meetings into an active affair. Rather than sit in a conference room, organize a walking meeting. This can prove beneficial as walking is said to make people more creative, according to research.
  • Provide incentives for anyone who tries to quit smoking. Financially incentivizing smoking cessation has three times higher successful rate than non-incentivized efforts. This is according to a study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the Wharton School.

Launch a Health Fair

If employees don’t go to nutrition and wellness centers, you should bring them to the workplace instead. You would not have a hard time persuading businesses to join in your health fair as it will be an opportunity for them to promote their products and services. Have them talk about nutrition and wellness initiatives and to encourage employees to switch a healthier lifestyle.

Join a Local Sports League

Sports are one of the many ways to foster camaraderie in a team and help promote your company at the same time. Some options include basketball, soccer, kickball or football. You can also look into co-ed sports leagues. As an incentive, waive participants’ entrance fees on all tournaments, sponsor team uniforms and the like.

Employees should also be encouraged to join fun runs, whether sponsored by the company or the community. As an incentive, employers can offer to pay for the entry fee of the participants.

Find And Assign a Wellness Champion

There should be one person who can round everyone up and motivate people to participate in the wellness program or challenge. The individual you choose must be someone passionate about health and wellness. He must have the charisma in the capacity to rally the troops as well.

Maintain Consistency

For maximum results, wellness challenges must be done with consistency. This is one way to encourage the best levels of participation. Keeping challenges short, such as one week or one month, is considered to be the most effective and focused. When it comes to monthly basis, a program can run for an entire month or a portion of it. It doesn’t matter how frequent or infrequent the wellness challenge is, what is important is that it is consistent.

In order to develop the right wellness program, there are several steps that need to be taken.

1. Research into a wellness plan must be conducted with the participation of employees. This will make it easier to identify the kind of challenges and activities suitable for the organization.

2. Keep it simple and easy to execute, especially when some employees are very inactive, overweight, or already have existing health conditions.

3. There must be a show of executive support, as this can increase motivation. There should be a highly visible leader that will promote, through a video or email, participation of a wellness program.

Examples of Constructive Criticism in the Workplace

According to Greg Walker at the Department of Speech Communication in the Oregon State University, “Criticism or the generation of ‘evaluative judgments’, is often painful or difficult to ‘give’ or ‘receive'”. For some people, this would be like going to the dentist or walking towards their own execution. Even the knowledge that your work will be critiqued would have butterflies flying in your stomach like crazy.

But Walker added, “If handled appropriately by both the person criticized and the person being criticized, critical feedback can promote constructive growth in individuals and relationships.”

This makes constructive criticism vital in the workplace. The purpose of this type of critique is to help the recipient improve and ensure that the same mistake will not happen again. Think of it as imparting a lesson, rather than making someone feel down. If a negative approach is taken, the one being criticized would not only feel down, but would always associate a similar situation to something unpleasant. Here are some examples of constructive criticism in the workplace commonly experienced.

1. Provide Feedback Like a Coach.

The primary role of the coach is to assess or evaluate an individual’s performance, and then help them discover ways to make improvements. He does this by asking the right questions. The same approach can be used when giving constructive feedback in the workplace. What is great about using the coaching approach is that it helps foster an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust, which will lead to a productive and healthy relationship.

2. Give Feedback On Even The Slightest Improvements

A struggling employee will do something well at some point. You should take this as an opportunity to give praise and encourage an employee to continue doing an excellent performance. To turn praise into constructive criticism, feedback should be focused on one specific work only. One of the guidelines for giving constructive feedback is that criticism or praise should be focused on a particular situation and not a general behavior.

3. Use Encouragement Even When Dealing With Mistakes.

Consider this scenario: an employee hands in a report with some typos. Rather than handing it back, criticizing the errors and demanding to have them fixed, work on finding something positive about the situation. Recall a time when an employee was able to make corrections quickly and praise them for it. You should also mention that you are confident of their ability to fix the problem. Starting in a positive way, even under dire circumstances, almost always leads to a positive outcome.

4. Ask For Solutions

If all you do is to point out problems and errors, then you are giving an out-and-out criticism, which is unlikely to help the situation in any way. Not only will you make employees feel bad about themselves and their work, they would be de-motivated as well. So, for your feedback to be constructive, you can point out the problem, but ask for reasons why such issues arose. Then, ask employees if they have ideas for a better approach or effective solutions. It is important that you avoid imposing a solution. Instead, draw out great ideas but asking the right questions.

5. Seek Permission Before Offering a Feedback

Can I offer a feedback? Will that be OK? By asking this question, you help prepare an employee to hear and receive a constructed advice. This is also one way to soften the blow, so to speak. Knowing beforehand that they are receiving feedback rather than pure criticism will put an employee’s mind at ease, especially because they know that they’re not being reprimanded. Seeking permission also opens opportunities to receive input from the criticized.

Best Ways to Handle Constructive Criticism

So, for a feedback to be remotely constructive, it has to be a two way street. That is, the ‘critic’ and the ‘criticized’ must interact. The critic must also invite criticism of his own behavior, as this will create a situation where giving and receiving criticism is considered appropriate. It has to be delivered properly as well.

1. When criticizing over a particular situation, give concrete examples so that people would really grasp what you want to convey.

2. Give recipients an opportunity to tell their side of the story. Remember that it has to be a two-way conversation.

3. Tell them what you expect to happen in the future and why. Doing so will help the other person understand your perspective and see the bigger picture.

4. When discussing the situation, get input from the other party. Finding solutions are easier when ideas are being bounced off against one another.

Now, what is the difference between praise and constructive criticism? The former is what it is, but the latter is designed to encourage improvement of various aspects.

Praise: You are very well trained in managing a team.
Constructive Criticism: How about getting some training in team management?

Impact of Workplace Criticism

Even if your intentions are good, criticizing could still leave a negative impact, which is why you should do it right, as much as possible.

When criticizing a colleague, put yourself in their shoes or engage in role reversal. Whatever it is he doesn’t want to hear, would probably be the same thing with you.

When criticizing an employee, avoid bashing them, and then help them find a way to avoid further mistakes. If he has been rude to a client, for example, send guidelines about correct behavior that an employee can follow.

When criticizing the boss, always stay calm and objective. This is probably one of the most difficult situations any employee has to face. However, if the problem is caused by your boss, he has a right to know. To avoid being fired, explain the situation a matter-of-factly and offer a suggestion.

For a criticism to be constructive or helpful in any way, the one being criticized also has a role to play. He has to keep an open mind and see the value of such feedbacks. If he only views criticism in a negative light, no amount of constructive advice would be perceived in a positive way. He must also learn to listen effectively and work hard not to consider critiques as an attack on his character, causing him to become defensive.

Examples of Negative Reinforcement in the Workplace

Positive and negative reinforcements are two common theories that managers often use in the workplace as a means to motivate employees to act. Between the two, the latter is seen to promote positive action, but can also lead to problematic behaviors. By definition, negative reinforcement is when something that is already present, but is unwanted (negative), is removed because of someone’s actions. This will then result to a favorable outcome for that person.

A simple example is when a person showers to remove body odor. Because he turns out smelling and feeling good, he will be motivated to repeat the action. Here are some key examples of negative reinforcement that may be encountered in the workplace.

1. Constantly Remind Employees To Be More Productive.

Doing this is often seen as nagging or badgering, which is a common negative reinforcement technique. Whether done intentionally or otherwise, it usually subjects people to an unpleasant situation, forcing them to do better on their job until they reach the productivity level expected from them. The prospect that the nagging will stop when the desired outcome is achieved will reinforce a positive behavior.

However, the fact that employees only work to improve to make the nagging stop, this type of negative reinforcement does not encourage them to extend beyond the minimum level required to make the unpleasant situation go away. In a retail setting, for example, where employees have sales targets, they are highly likely to meet there target during the early part of the day and then spend the rest of it socializing or just pretending to be busy. In some cases, employees will transfer their negative energy and annoyance to other people or, worse, the customers.

This can also take a toll on the part of the employer or manager since nagging is no easy or pleasant task. They can easily sound like a broken record.

2. Random Workplace Drug Testing.

Drug testing in the workplace is often perceived as negative and has been a subject of debate because it is believed to violate employee rights. However, it is the type of negative reinforcement that will create a desired environment — a workplace that is safe and healthy. Because employees fear of losing their jobs or getting fired, they will avoid using banned substances. Even to people who don’t use drugs, random testing still creates a situation of negative reinforcement because it makes them confident and secure about their jobs.

3. Close Monitoring Of An Employee.

Someone who plays computer games or spends a lot of time on social media during office hours is definitely wasting company resources. If the boss starts to closely monitor that employee, whether remotely or virtually standing behind his back while he works, he will immediately stop wasting time and performs his tasks to the best of his abilities. It’s either that or get fired. It may seem a very bad idea to have the boss breathing down your neck, but it will surely encourage employees to do their job during work hours.

4. Remove Saturdays As a Work Day.

Only very few people love to work on the weekend. They would rather have a compressed work week than only have one day off. By declaring Saturday as an official holiday in exchange for a higher target that must be achieved by Friday, employees would be motivated to work hard during the weekdays. This works as a negative reinforcement because the unpleasant experience of working on a Saturday is removed. In the end, the management gets what they required and wanted in the first place — higher output and one day less in the work week.

5. Improper Way Of Dealing With Mistakes.

It may seem like a punishment to reprimand an employee in front of everyone else, but it is still a type of negative reinforcement. The same thing is true if a person is spoken to harshly in private. To avoid the unpleasant condition of being reprimanded, employees will be motivated to not make a mistake at all costs. The downside of this type of reinforcement, however, is that people would rather hide their mistakes than try to correct them. If such errors are not addressed, an employee’s productivity and performance will suffer and so will the organization.

6. Remove Weekly Meetings.

Although training meetings are designed to help improve sales and service performance, a lot of employees usually don’t enjoy routine meetings. They would rather spend time working hard to achieve sales instead of spending an hour or so in a conference room. With this in mind, taking away weekly training meetings will serve as a negative reinforcement. In lieu of employee achievements, you should offer to discontinue the weekly meetings.

Some forms of negative reinforcement, however, can lead to poor results as already mentioned above. A simpler example is a sudden change in a lunch break policy. Shortening it to 30 minutes will likely earn you complaints and employees would be grumbling about it endlessly. If you choose to revert to the old schedule, this will leave an impression that simply whining and grumbling about any company changes will make the negative reinforcement go away.

It is also capable of creating a stressful environment where employee performance drops because they are too agitated or stressed out to carry out their duties sufficiently. They are likely to dread going to work as well.

What you can do is to identify the difference between punishment and negative reinforcement, so you don’t end up alienating your staff. You should also know that negative reinforcement is most effective when the reinforcers immediately follow after a desired behavior is achieved. You should also schedule reinforcement. Continuous reinforcement is when a person is reinforced every time a desired behavior is demonstrated, while intermittent is the opposite.

Despite sounding like a bad idea, negative reinforcement does have its share of benefits. For one, it can help identify and establish behavior that need to be modified. Once recognized and acknowledged, employees can then be made to understand the reason behind the behavior, see the error in it and stop exhibiting it. For another, it will help the management set a pattern as to the kind of actions that are acceptable in the workplace.