Charles Benayon

Founder & CEO of Aspiria


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Employee Recognition + Rewards = A Healthy Company

rules-good-co-worker-relationship1It has often been said that we spend more time at work than at home and recent studies back that up, announcing that 78 percent of people who work 30 to 50 hours a week spend more time with co-workers than with their families.

Although many employers want to increase employee engagement, there needs to be more attention placed on co-worker relationships because employees who have quality relationships with their co-workers are more likely to be engaged and happy at work. And happy engaged employees will mean increased productivity, and decreased time off, sickness and mental health issues.

Employers can boost employee engagement by creating a culture filled with healthy co-worker relationships. I have outlined below a few key ways employers can encourage employee engagement to create a healthy workplace.

1. Employee Recognition

Employee recognition is critical in preventing employee turnover and dissatisfaction in the workplace. Make sure you celebrate employee accomplishments, not just on a one-to-one basis, but with the entire company. Make a point to thank the employee in front of the whole department or even the entire company, depending on the size of your company. If the accomplishment has a large monetary impact on the business, then you may consider presenting them with a “high achiever” award or a gift.

2. Boost Morale

When employers encourage workplace friendships, they help boost employee morale, and encouraging supportive and trusting relationships help employees stay engaged and maintain a sense of belonging at a company.

In addition to setting up social events, which encourage employees to interact on a more personal level, employers can create an office space that encourages conversation. For example, have open office space or provide a space for employees to hang out in their free time (i.e. a small gym or even a lunch room).

3. Praise Milestones

Years ago, when an employee reached a 25-year anniversary, they were given a watch. Today, as employees do not tend to stay with the same company for a “lifetime”, employers need to invent creative milestone events to remind employees of their value to the company and how much they’re appreciated. Milestone events may include employee anniversaries, birthdays, anniversary of signing on a large account, memorable activities or other employee accomplishments.

Quite simple, if employees are engaged, recognized and appreciated they will feel happy, your company will be a healthy workplace and they will keep working hard and remain loyal to the company.

What are some ways your company has created healthy co-worker relationships in the workplace?

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In This Month of Love, Let’s Celebrate RAK Week

“If every person spent one minute of every day committing a random act of kindness, we would change the world.”   – http://www.randomactsofkindsness.org

free-hugsThis week is Random Acts of Kindness Week, and I thought of no better way to celebrate as we lead up to Valentine’s Day, the ultimate day of spreading love around. When we act kindly, we are doing things that help others, with no expectation of something in return. It means taking a moment or two or three to make someone’s day, whether they be a family member, friend, co-worker or stranger.

Why bother? There have been scientific studies that indicate a strong link between random acts of kindness and overall good physical and mental health. It’s not just about “being nice” in the moment, but there are long-term benefits in that one becomes happier over time – feeling more optimistic and positive. And it’s not just you that reaps the rewards: sure, you enjoy the “helper’s high” from giving, but you also help the recipient lift their spirits, and another who happens to see the act and potentially passes it on. Change can happen!

When we look at the physiological benefits of helping randomly, they can include:

  • an improved immune system
  • enhanced cognitive performance
  • an increase in energy
  • reduced stress hormone levels, lower blood pressure, and heart rate
  • feeling calmer and less depressed, with increased feelings of self-worth

Where can you start? Here are some simple examples of random acts of kindness that you can do today:

1. Compliment someone:

Whenever you see someone wearing a nice outfit or sporting a new haircut, giving her/him a compliment can really light up their day.

2. Pay it forward

If you go through the drive- thru, pay for a cookie or coffee for the person in the car behind you. An unexpected treat can make bring on a smile, and hopefully, they will pay for something for the person behind them.

3. Let someone take your place in line:

Take a look at the person behind you – are they looking at their watch? Are they with kids? Are they elderly or disabled? If you are not in a rush, give away your space in line. Those few minutes can make a difference, if you have some to spare.

4. Free Labour:

We don’t think about doing jobs like mowing the lawn, cleaning the house or babysitting as ones we could do for free, so imagine surprising someone by not accepting their payment. If you have a friend or family member who is struggling financially, offering to do their house or yard work is a great help that doesn’t cost you money, either.

5. Find A New Lunch mate:

Invite a classmate or co-worker you don’t know to sit with you at lunch. They will appreciate it if they tend to eat alone. Chances are, you’ll find something you both have in common and they’ll feel included.

6. Visit or Call the Sick

Being sick can make you feel lonely, and concerned about not being able to do your routine tasks. A phone call asking how they are, visiting them, or even just sending flowers or a card can go a long way. Offer to take care of some of those tasks they can’t get to, like making a meal, walking their dog, bringing in their mail or picking up some items at the grocery store can take some pressure off and speed healing.

Or, you can…

  • Open a door for someone
  • Offer your seat to someone on the subway or bus
  • Say “thank you” when someone opens a door for you
  • Help someone take their groceries to their car
  • Offer to remove the snow from your neighbour’s driveway with your shovel or snow blower
  • Offer to push the button for someone in the elevator, say “good morning” or “hello”.

And if you choose to do one RAK this week, why not smile? After all, it is the universal language of expressing warmth!

What does kindness mean to you? Do you think if everyone did more random acts of kindness, we could effect change? Please share your comments below.


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Sexual Harassment – How Prepared Is Your Organization?

Sexual-Harassment-22Looking back on 2014, it is quite apparent that there was an influx in the number of workplace sexual harassment scandals appearing in the media. First, renowned CBC broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi was arrested and charged on four counts of sexual assault, and has since had three charges added after more accusers stepped forward. Soon after, our Parliament was under fire after female MPs and staffers began coming forward with sexual assault allegations against many high-profile male MPs. Turning to our neighbours to the South, television legend Bill Cosby made headline news after numerous women came forward claiming the actor had assaulted them in the past.

With many of these allegations occurring in the workplace, business owners and human resources departments must be more aware than ever of how to prevent, notice, and deal with sexual harassment. Without the proper procedures in place to prevent and/or handle cases of sexual harassment, employers are at risk of a long list of negative repercussions, including decreased productivity, low morale, increased absenteeism, and potential legal expenses.

What questions must you ask yourself in preparation to prevent/respond to sexual harassment in your organization? We’ve listed some to start with below:

  • Do you have a defined procedure in place to deal with the sexual harassment?
  • What response-time standard will you institute to indicate a sense of urgency for the complaint?
  • How will you communicate the severity for which you handle each and every case?
  • Do you have the appropriate resources available to deal with the complaint?
  • Do you have the appropriate resources available to the person who complained, and the remainder of your employees?
  • How will you communicate the action taken to the person who complained?

Answering these questions is only the beginning. Depending on your responses, your challenge is to ensure you’re armed with the right tools to respond to cases of sexual harassment and just as importantly, to take appropriate action in order to mitigate sexual harassment in your workplace

The conversation regarding sexual harassment in the workplace is an important one, which is why we want to go beyond this blog to talk to you about it. This year at the 2015 HRPA from January 21-23, Aspiria is offering you the opportunity to discuss your organization’s policy, training and concerns regarding sexual harassment by meeting with an expert from Yellow Brick House, a women’s shelter and counselling centre in York Region and myself.
Space is limited, so don’t waste any time in calling to book your 15 minute “meet the experts” appointment with us at Aspiria’s booth (#312)! Contact 1-877-277 4742 ext 105 or e-mail us to schedule your appointment.


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Feeling Safe

SafetyMainAs I write this blog, I am reminded that today is Remembrance Day, a day dedicated to the men and women in Canada who lost their lives fighting for our freedom and safety.

In the past month, Canada has been rocked by incidents of violence toward our country and accusations of harassment in the workplace. Victims have come forward and shared their stories with the media and in turn, the public. Where we live and work should be a space that should make us feel safe and comfortable. It is a human right in a free society to feel safe. At work, the Human Rights Code, Workplace Violence and Harassment Legislation and the Criminal Code, are safety laws available to employees, yet harassment in the workplace are covered up for years, and still continues.

There are ways we can help create an environment that does not tolerate wrongful treatment of others, but also provides the resources should harassment issues still arise.

Every employee has the right to be treated with respect and has a responsibility to treat others with respect. If a person feels that he or she is being harassed, they should talk to someone that they trust, whether it be a co-worker, a family member or an employee in the human resources department, if one exists. It is important to document these incidents, and inform employees of the policies the employer has in place.

Harassment poisons the entire workplace and affects employee morale and productivity. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do as an employer or person of influence to keep your work environment safe and respectful:

  1. Clear Expectations
  • Make sure that the expectations in your workplace are clear – harassment of any kind will not be tolerated.
  1. Monitor the Atmosphere
  • Pay attention to the tone of interactions and comments made between co-workers and the use of offensive emails, inappropriate comments, derogatory language or jokes, and check for increased absenteeism or staff turnover.
  1. Lead by Example
  • Model respectful behaviours
  1. Maintain Open Communication Channels
  • Policies, procedures, and resources should be posted visibly in common areas, and senior management should offer an open door.

 

A workplace with an EAP and advanced health management programs that include trauma support will be able to help your employees in their time of need, and aid in their recovery in the workplace. We can all work together to create a safe place where we can work productively and feel supported. Let’s pause today and ask if the recent violence against Canada and harassment events reported in the media have caused you concern for your safety? What steps have you taken to make your office, which is a microcosm of the larger community, a “safer” environment for you, your colleagues, and your staff? Are we doing our part to make our work environment and country a safe place to work and live?

I look forward to hearing from you in the comments section below.


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Don’t Dismiss the Possibility of Workplace Violence

workplace violenceA mark of feeling safe in your work environment is that you rarely think about safety. A sense of safety and wellness is the ultimate goal for all workplaces and this can only be truly achieved when safety and violence prevention is addressed openly in the workplace. As much as believing that the chances of a violent episode occurring in your workplace are slim to none, indifference can leave you vulnerable and unprepared for an emergency situation.

Just last Wednesday in North York, Ontario, employees of a Toronto-based HR company, were victims of this kind of violent episode when an employee stabbed four people in the office with a weapon while in the process of being terminated from the company. The victims were sent to the hospital with varying degrees of injuries and other employees subdued the aggressor until the authorities arrived.

The perpetrator was described by his coworkers and neighbours as a mild, friendly, and dedicated family man, making this violent outbreak even more unexpected and upsetting. How are employers expected to keep their work environment safe with such a lack of warning signs?

As much as you cannot be prepared for every possible emergency scenario, employers can put measures and tools in place to be prepared for violence in the workplace:

Workplace Violence Prevention Training: Ultimately, you cannot have a productive, high-functioning work environment when employees worry about their own safety, so organizing violence prevention training can arm employees with tools and knowledge in preparation for the possibility  of a workplace emergency situation. Training also brings the topic into the open, where employees can voice concerns and your organization can engage in dialogue and develop mutual expectations understanding about violence in the workplace.

Workplace Violence Protocol: It’s important that organizations give their employees a clear and concise protocol to follow when an emergency situation arises. Without such a protocol in place, some experts are saying this could be considered as negligent as not having fire alarms. Some organizations are adopting easy-to-remember phrases such as: Run, Hide, and (as a last resort) Defend.

Education from your HR department: Your HR department is equipped with helpful information and educational resources for your employees to take advantage of. Open the lines of communication with your personnel and HR to ensure that people have access to the information they want and need.

Awareness of possible crisis situations: Educate yourself about potentially triggering situations, such as termination, review meetings, conflict meetings, etc. and be sure that you are prepared and ready to respond to an emergency situation.

And finally, while it is vital to understand what reactive measures are appropriate responses to violence, being as proactive as possible in your workplace by taking note of changes and cues will keep everyone safer.

Know your People: While people often are able separate their work and personal life, make sure you take care to notice of any changes in performance or behaviour in your employees. Experts generally recognize that workplace violence occurs when troubled employees encounter troubling situations, so remain aware of cues that one of your employees is not doing well, and could be predisposed to a violent outbreak. Take care to treat any concerns or potential threats as serious and follow-up appropriately.

Talking about workplace safety may not be a pleasant topic to discuss in your organization, as everyone wants to believe that no one in his or her vicinity would be capable of an episode of violence. However, being as prepared as you can be for the unexpected will keep as many people safe as possible. And this could mean accessing resources such as your in-house security, local authorities, and, your Employee Assistance Plan, to help develop and support your workplace violence prevention plan, training and protocols.

Has your organization implemented workplace violence prevention training or protocol? Would you know what to do in case of an emergency?

Sources:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/chuang-li-former-employee-charged-in-toronto-office-stabbings-1.260397

http://www.timesdispatch.com/workitrichmond/learning-center/labor-law-is-your-workplace-safe/article_92c3ac86-bdf6-11e3-8ab1-001a4bcf6878.html

http://www.workviolenceprevention.com/blog/employee-stabs-hr-managers


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Engage, Don’t Enable: Confronting alcoholism in your employees

AlcoholismAs Rob Ford weathers the storm of his alleged substance abuse problem, there needs to be something we can learn from his experience other than to choose the people you surround yourself with wisely. The Toronto mayor is certainly not the only person whose drinking habits have been called to attention in the workplace. As alcohol abuse becomes one of the greatest health threats to Canadians in recent years, employers must prepare themselves to engage in dialogue about this disease and become familiar with signs that an employee might be suffering.

Technically, drinking habits may be the personal business of your employees, but once a substance dependence problem emerges, it will inevitably affect business. Absenteeism, on-the-job injury and accidents, missed deadlines and poor workplace conduct are only a few of the detrimental outcomes of alcoholism, and the employer has a responsibility to address it as an issue once productivity is compromised.

Maintaining the welfare of your company and your employee’s health as main priorities is good business, and there are strategies you can implement in your company  to help you, the employer, mitigate the costs  of substance abuse. 1.

  1. Ensure that you have clearly communicated your expectations for conduct and performance in the workplace. Only with these expectations in place can you effectively measure when employees are failing to meet company standards.
  2. Schedule regular feedback and review meetings to promote a culture of improvement and transparency with individual employees. Having frequent dialogue will make it easier to broach any changes or declines in performance you may observe.
  3. Learn to recognize changes in performance, attendance and work relationships. Alcohol dependence can affect an employee’s ability to carry out commitments, meet deadlines and maintain healthy relationships at work. Knowing your employees well will help you more easily identify changes in their performance that could be brought on by substance abuse.
  4. Keep thorough records of observations. Ensure that you make note of incidents as they occur so that you are able to better record trends and patterns that support your concerns.
  5. Contact a representative of your EAP for support. A consultation with the EAP  will help you initiate difficult conversations and make available various resources.
  6. Be prepared to address  the issue with your employee.  Compare what you are currently observing with the employee’s performance against what the job expectations are.
  7. Set a measurable action plan with the employee that articulates the corrective action required to improve the work performance and include a time frame for the desired outcomes to be achieved.  Encourage the employee to access the EAP for support in executing the plan.   Be clear that failure to change the performance or conduct and seek help could result in disciplinary measures or dismissal.  Have the employee sign off on the document.
  8. Continue follow-up with additional conversations as necessary, including meeting with the employee on the formal review date (as set out in #7 above).

 

Although it might be uncomfortable to address such a sensitive issue with an employee, having a list of resources available (EAP) beforehand will assist you with offering support.

Your involvement could make a significant difference in the quality of someone’s work and personal life, thereby increasing your productivity as an organization

Have you ever seen the benefits of someone seeking help and returning to the workplace?  I look forward to hearing about your experiences in the comments below.