Company CultureGuest Post

Pop quiz: does your company provide HR or payroll services or both?

While this question comes across as a very dull and obvious one, it is one that more companies should ask before embarking on their HR transformation journeys. This question is more relevant than ever before as most companies are spending a significant amount of time and money on projects, with the hope to ultimately transform their employee experience (EX).This employee experience is significantly impacted by HR services and systems that employees interact with and while not limited to just HR and payroll, they are a peek into the company culture. It can say a lot about your company, and can tell your employees whether they should expect a compliance based culture or one that empowers a partnership culture and engagement where trust is the true social bond between employees and employers and not just a piece of signed paper.

So what’s the big deal and what does it have to do with HR systems?

HR systems are fast evolving from compliance and transaction based databases to ones that are truly focused on EX. In many companies, HR systems are clustered together and words like HRIS, HRMS or HCMS are used as a bracket term that include payroll, in fact the names have continued to evolve leaving everyone confused. While there is no right or wrong answer as far as naming goes, there is a marked difference between systems that are purely for record and process transactions like payroll versus ones that are truly designed to represent services offered to support the EX ecosystem. Systems like HR Partner focus on HR Services that are expected from the employee lifecycle best demonstrated by the Social Workplace by Elizabeth Lupfer.

While paying people accurately and regularly is a hygiene factor, it is not one that is related to EX directly. Elements of paying people accurately do comprise of transactions like applying for and approving leave and timesheets but the mechanics of payroll systems do not have any direct bearing on the employee’s experience of the digital workplace. This is where separating your HR systems supporting your HR service delivery from payroll systems is crucial. And integrating these systems will significantly enhance the employee experience!

Bringing your HR services to life via a digital and clean system user interface tells the current and future employees that you believe in a partnership culture. The digital HR services will definitely bring to life an easy to navigate and social user interface, ease of accessing advice on recruitment, onboarding, policies, culture and engagement polls, and the more transactional elements like leave and timesheets coupled with electronic signatures and cloud document management.

However, there is a word of warning before starting your next HR systems project, if you haven’t mapped your HR service offerings for now and in future, your new HR systems may just become a reflection of payroll transactions that add no value to your employees or their experiences and engagement. And a reminder, users will not shy away from telling you about their experience, a good interaction with systems like HR Partner can generate positivity, whereas a not so great one will perhaps generate greater publicity!

Company CultureEmployee RetentionGuest Post

We’ve all had days at work where we’re stressed. Where we can’t concentrate, and we worry, and our employees and colleagues irritate us and our workstation feels like the worst place to be.

Mental health problems such as stress, anxiety, depression, and many more can have terrible effects on motivation, productivity, and general wellbeing. Mental health problems can also lead to increases in employee absence.

Fortunately, there are many little ways you can relieve some stress, and reset yourself to conquer your next task and feel a little better about yourself while you’re doing it.

1. Deep breathing

Taking some deep breaths while sitting in your chair is quick and free.

Keep your back straight, and inhale through your nose. Exhale through your mouth and feel the air—and your negative feelings—leave your body. Do this for a couple of minutes. Keep each breath slow and steady. Try to focus on each inhalation and exhalation.

You’ll feel calmer as the stress seeps out of you.

2. Consider a less intense dress code

Sometimes we all just want to wear our comfortable clothes and not worry about working in a pristine formal outfit. Introducing a relaxed dress code in your workplace can reduce stress by granting employees the opportunity to express their personalities through what they wear.

Make sure you canvas opinion from all of your staff to review your current dress code, and accumulate ideas for designing a new one. You might want to consider jewellery and tattoos, too. Many employees will appreciate not needing to hide their ink.

Always make sure your dress code does not discriminate against any persons or groups. And ensure that you keep all policies in your company handbook. Whenever you update a policy, email staff so that they know.

3. Exercise

You could hire a fitness trainer to come in and deliver a fitness class to your staff each week—yoga can be particularly re-energising.

But you could also introduce short breaks into your workplace. The afternoon time following lunch but before employees go home can often be the point in the day when productivity drops. Employees start to feel tired, their bellies might be full, and they’re beginning to check the clock more than they did in the morning, often in anticipation of being able to leave.

To combat this, a 10-minute walk outside in the fresh air could help people refocus their minds for the final hours of their day. If they take their walk with a colleague, a little non-work conversation can really help to distract people.

4. Laugh!

It’s difficult to feel angry, sad, anxious, or even jealous during the exact moment you’re laughing. Laughter soothes tension, helps employees form relationships, and it increases the amount of endorphins that your brain releases.

Laughter’s really good. Having a joke book in the office could be a trivial way of accessing some quick quips. Or, if you feel you need a chuckle to deflate your stress balloon, find the most amusing employee in the office and engage them in a quick chat.

5. Time with your employees and colleagues but away from the office

Perhaps your building has a bar, or there’s a local watering hole nearby. Once work finishes, there’s no harm in a beverage (doesn’t even have to be alcoholic) with your colleagues to wind down, talk about your progress and outside matters like sports, hobbies, and more.

You’ll laugh and learn more about the people you work with while you’re at it.

6. Embrace your creativity

Some of us paint, write, play music, draw—some of us do one, all or none of these.

If you’re a creative person, then keep a notepad nearby. A quick two minute doodle or scribbling down an idea for your next story can really help you to take your mind away from stressful work for just a few moments. After a couple of minutes, you’ll feel lighter and ready to tackle your next task.

7. Music and work?

Some employers let their employees put their headphones on and listen to their music while they work. For many people, listening to their favourite tunes or even a podcast can help them drown out the distractions of workplace chatter and ringing telephones.

Of course, certain employees simply won’t have the opportunity to put their headphones on and block out the world—so perhaps some speakers in the office quietly playing some ambient music instead?

8. Reading

It’s tempting to spend your lunch period replying to text messages and checking the latest news—but you’re surrendering to more screen time.

Get yourself a book. Fiction, a self-help book, a biography, whatever takes your fancy, and aim to read at least five pages while on your lunch break.

You’ll be focusing so much on the escape of another person’s world that you won’t even remember being stressed. And who knows, you might enhance your vocabulary while you’re at it!

9. Ensure you have a healthy lunch

An intense workload is going to cause stress, and clotting your body with unhealthy, sugary food might seem like great instant gratification. However, most jobs provoke a sedentary lifestyle, and a healthy diet will help you keep your weight down, your skin feeling clear, and even promote hair growth.

Not to mention, preparing a healthy lunch can be an exciting activity the night before! Many people find themselves stepping into cooking for the first time when they’re making tomorrow’s lunch.

10. Plan your day

It’s easy to jump from one task to another and make progress without actually completing anything. Create a to-do list every morning, or the night before if you think it’d work better for you, and list the tasks you need to get done during your next shift.

Make a list of realistic tasks, and supplement it with bonus tasks that can wait until another day. If you finish the realistic tasks, move onto your bonus list.

But remember to be aware that stress happens, often without you realising. Take breaks, breathe deeply, listen to your favourite songs, and pack a healthy lunch.

 

Editors Note: This is a guest post from our friends over at BrightHR in the UK.

Company CultureOnboarding

If you’re sitting there wondering what should be included in an employee handbook, you’ve come to the right place — we’ve scoured tons of employee handbooks for you to find the best examples out there to draw inspiration from.

In addition to covering laws and regulations (more on that here), the greatest employee handbooks out there all have one thing in common: They’re unique. They have an original voice and tone and are memorable. Some companies are now even creating both employee handbooks AND culture books, while others are choosing to combine both in one extensive book.

And let’s not forget that while handbooks are an awesome way to welcome new employees, they can also be a great recruiting tool should you decide to make your handbook public to complement your company’s current employer branding efforts.

1. The Valve employee handbook

valve

Valve’s notorious employee handbook went viral and is commonly shared as an example of a strong handbook (and for good reason!).

I mean, how many company handbooks throughout history have gone viral? Not many.

The handbook itself is empathetic, informative, and friendly. Not only does it walk new employees through their first day, but it also goes into the company’s philosophy by providing real, useful examples. For example, in one section, they mention that the company has a flat structure and that each employee is in charge of choosing his or her own projects.

The book mentions that as an employee, you may be invited to work on many projects within the company — but that ultimately, it’s up to you, the employee, to decide which projects to work on (regardless of anything else).

By writing down and referencing real, specific examples, employees can more easily prepare for different situations before they happen. It makes employees more comfortable and at ease during the onboarding process, and it’s also a great way to stay consistent as your company grows.

 

2. Disqus Culture Book

disqus culture book

The Disqus Culture Book is another example of a handbook that is full of personality. Far from boring or typical, this book covers everything from life at Disqus to their favorite phrases (and everything in between).

The writing itself is conversational, making it super easy to read and relate to. In other words, it sounds like a real human talking — not a robot.

The Disqus onboarding process is interesting: They have their very own employee handbook with rules and regulations, but they also have a culture book. So, they have two official guides for new hires to stay organized and on the same page:

Disqus

Not only is their culture book beautifully designed, but it’s also full of casual memes and photos to lighten things up and showcase their work culture.

Don’t get me wrong: The book is professionally done — but Disqus realizes that you can still be a great company without sacrificing personality and individuality, and this book is a perfect example of this in practice.

The book also includes a timeline and history with company milestones, to show employees when the company was started and how it grew over time.

Not only is the Disqus culture book an excellent way to welcome new team members and show them what to expect, but it also offers a down-to-Earth look into what it’s like working at Disqus, which can be useful in attracting potential new recruits to the company. It’s a win-win.

If you’re looking to create a modern handbook in a similar style, I’d recommend checking out online handbook builders like AirMason.

 

3. HubSpot Culture Code

hubspot culture

Let’s not forget that you can get quite creative with presentation when it comes to showcasing your company mission and values, too. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, because standing out can really work in your favor.

For example, HubSpot published their Culture Code slide presentation on SlideShare as a way of demonstrating their mission and revealing who they are. Not only is this a creative way to talk about your company values, but it also happens to be perfectly in line with their inbound marketing product.

In other words, they practice what they preach — even down to their HR efforts.

The visuals are rich with photographs, illustrations, and beautiful design. The SlideShare presentation proved itself as a very effective way to get their message across and recruit new candidates and received many, many views.

Whether it’s a slideshow, movie, blog series, or eBook — there are so many ways to promote your company’s message.

 

4. Zappos Culture Book

Zappos Handbook

If you’re big on company culture, chances are you’ve heard about Zappos more than a few times.

Zappos has become a leader in company culture, from offering employees thousands of dollars to quit if they aren’t a good fit, all the way to their heavy focus on excellent customer support. So it really came as no surprise that in 2014, Zappos published their Culture Book online for all to see, and it generated quite a bit of buzz.

This book includes their values and mission, along with TONS of testimonials straight from — you guessed it — the employees themselves. The reviews from employees are inspiring to read and highlight what it’s really like working at Zappos.

Besides, who better to talk about what it’s like working for a company than its very own employees?

Think about it: When someone recommends that you try something they’ve been doing for years and love, aren’t you much more likely to consider it?

The same can be applied to recruiting talent to your company: The more stories and employee testimonials you have, the more potential candidates have to learn from.

5. The Netflix Culture Slides

Netflix created a guide to their freedom and responsibility culture guide, which was eventually posted to SlideShare in an easy-to-digest format.

Not only is it extensive as ever, covering company-wide values (like their no-brilliant-jerks policy), but it also talks about how they plan on scaling while keeping their original values.

The Netflix culture slides are straightforward, conversational, and informative, preparing employees for their journey ahead.

Creating Your Own Employee Handbook

Whether you want to talk about your company’s culture, company policies, or both — getting it down in writing is always a good idea.

You may be wondering, “When should I start doing this at my company?”

The truth is that it’s never too early to start writing down your values, and as your business grows, it’ll help you stay consistent and organized. Plus, everyone will be on the same page (and who wouldn’t want that?).

employee handbook example
Generate your own handbook with our partners AirMason

There are many ways to get started — you can craft your own from scratch, or you can use an online tool like AirMason (example above) to generate modern and beautiful handbooks (which you can host online or export as a PDF to print).

Do you have an example of a great employee handbook? We’d love to hear about it!