The Importance of Communicating With Your Team

Communicating with your team is the grease that keeps the wheels of your organisation moving. It’s the fuel that powers forward momentum. Heck, it’s even the essential spice that transforms a boring curry into a mouthwatering masterpiece.

Long story short – communication can make or break your team.

Get it right and you will have a fantastic workplace culture, vibing together like the Spice Girls at their peak. But get it wrong, and you’ll have… well, Spice Girls: The Later Years.  No one wants that kind of drama in their life!

But when the world throws you a spanner in the form of a crisis, the potential for drama increases.

Fortunately, effective communication and empathy can help you navigate the choppy waters of a crisis. Here are some pointers to help you in these uncertain times.

The Importance of Communicating With Your Team

Why Good Communication Is Important

Communication is the glue that holds many aspects of your team together when it is business as usual. But it becomes ten times more important when your company is dealing with a crisis.

A crisis often means elevated levels of stress and anxiety that can be felt throughout the entire business. People will generally have an intense focus on the here and now, rather than looking towards the future.

Because no one knows what is around the corner, employees will be looking for clarity and transparency from their manager. Clear and effective communication can help them to feel more at ease and allow them to make sense of the situation and feel more comfortable with how they fit into the workplace.

Your words and actions have the power to put your team at ease, rather than throwing them into a panic. Good, clear communication is especially important in these unsettling times.

Delivery Makes the Difference

No one saw a global pandemic coming. And just a few short months ago, it seemed like a distant issue confined to foreign shores. But, we are now living the situation ourselves. Your communication skills are firmly in the spotlight!

Your team may be fearful for their health, but also for their jobs. The way you are communicating can help calm the situation, even if you don’t have all of the answers yourself.

The key is transparency and empathy. Be upfront with the information that you do have (within confidentiality parameters of course) and deliver it with empathy. Be mindful that every decision that your business makes will impact your people in some way.

In an already stressful time, you need to gauge how things are delivered. Sometimes it will need to be in a formal and professional sense, but at other times, your style can be more friendly and open.

Don’t fall into the trap of discussing rumours and hearsay. Stick to the facts.

The Impact on Staff Morale

In many cases, a crisis situation can build a stronger leader. It can help you to gain even more support and respect from your team. Unfortunately, there is not a definitive handbook on how to handle a period of uncertainty.

But, what you can do is pause, take a deep breath and remain calm. Your energy can impact your staff members, so always keep that in mind. If you generate negative energy, then that will ripple throughout the team. Instead of panicking, try these things:

  • Give people up to date info as often as you have it available
  • Use simple, clear communication
  • Be honest and don’t be afraid to show your own vulnerability – everyone is human!
  • Encourage good team bonds for a greater support network
  • Establish a clear collective vision for the future and share it – after all, every crisis will end

How To Be A Good Communicator

Good communication is not just about talking a lot. One of the biggest parts of communication is being able to listen. If you take the time to listen to what your team are saying, and more importantly what they are not saying, then you can learn a lot.

It is also important to read the non-verbal cues that people are giving. Body language, eye contact, hand gestures and tone of voice can provide an insight into how people are really feeling.

When you are communicating with your team, you want to be clear, concise and have a list of points to cover off so that there is no misunderstanding. Remember, that doesn’t mean you have to be super formal all the time. Be kind, speak with confidence and don’t be afraid to be human too!

Empathy and open-mindedness go a long way when communicating information. If you can model them in the workplace, then your team will have a great example to follow.

Communication can be tricky when there is a lot of uncertainty throughout the country. That is where having an independent HR support partner comes in handy. We have plenty of techniques and skills that you can use to encourage good communication at your place.

Get in touch with us today to get the communication flowing in the right way between your team members.

Managing Mental Wellbeing During Times of Uncertainty

How many times have you heard the word “unprecedented” in the last few months?

We’re guessing an unprecedented amount of times!

While everyone has experienced stress in some form or another during their lifetimes, the levels of uncertainty on both a global and personal basis are indeed unparalleled.

Life as we know it has changed, and there’s an undercurrent of stress bubbling through almost every aspect of life. As we transition through these changes, it’s vital to take care of our mental wellbeing as much as our physical.

This is how you can check in with yourself and your team in these uncertain times.

Mental Wellbeing During Times of Uncertainty

Stress and Productivity

To some degree, stress can be a useful motivational and productivity tool. If you are cramming for an exam or prepping for an interview, the short-term freak-out can give you the push to get things done! However, stress has a different effect on everyone, and chronic stress is not conducive to good mental or physical health.

Right now, we have stress coming at us from all areas of life: work, family, money, health, and the change of all our usual routines. Over time, these worries can interfere with sleep, digestion, immunity, and make us irritable, sad, angry, or just super anxious.

If you are pressuring yourself because you should be making the most of your “extra time,” by using this pandemic to catch up on tasks, trying to maintain business as usual, or even as a time to start a side-business, write a book, or become a yogi – it’s time to give yourself a break.

While being hyperproductive may work for a percentage of the population, it isn’t the case for everyone. It’s more than okay to just survive in the best way you know how.

How to Cope With Stress

Rule number one: cut yourself some slack! You don’t have to be the best remote worker, the best home-school teacher, the best cook, or the best anything! The world is going through an enormous shared trauma experience; there’s no right (or wrong) way to survive.

Having said that, there are a few ways that you can protect your mental wellbeing.

Exercise is scientifically proven to boost your mood and can help stave off depression and anxiety – as is time spent in the great outdoors. Whether you are still working from home or you’re back in your workplace under Alert Level 2, make time to move and feel the sunlight on your face every day.

Prioritise! Don’t let overwhelm cripple you. Instead, make a list of everything you need to do, prioritise the essentials, and let everything else go.

Your body needs to be reminded that it doesn’t have to remain in a state of stress for the duration of the pandemic. Take time out to do whatever calms you – meditate, breathe, jog, read, watch Netflix, dance around the living room to Spice Girls hits…

How To Help Your Team Build Resilience

Besides the fact that your business may have been thrust into working from home or adapting your operations, every employee has added stress and anxiety that are difficult to separate from their work-life for now.

It’s essential that you understand these pressures and support your team in building resilience as they (and you) transition through the levels.

Some people might be struggling with isolation and loneliness. Whereas others may be struggling with sending kids back to school, or afraid about returning to work safely. So everyone will need extra connection, reassurance and flexibility over the coming months.

Now is the time to check in with everybody more frequently. Do it via phone or video call, individually and as a team, to ensure that everyone feels connected and heard.

It is important that senior staff and managers role model resilience and healthy work practices in uncertain times. Communication must also be transparent and respectful during these times.

Perhaps the best piece of advice we can give is something we have heard from New Zealand’s very own management team time and time again over the last few months – be kind.

Are you worried about the mental wellbeing at your workplace? Then get in touch with us here at Spice HR today. We are experts in handling team morale during uncertain times.

How To Handle Working From Home

How To Handle Working From Home

How To Handle Working From Home

Even before 2020 brought us a global pandemic that changed everything, an increasing amount of people and businesses were embracing remote work.

After all, there are many positives to working remotely. Working from home provides flexibility, can help improve productivity and provide a healthy work-life balance.

But it’s not all sitting around in your pyjamas tapping away on your laptop! Remote work brings a host of challenges. This is particularly true if businesses have needed to pivot rapidly to adjust to new restrictions.

Whether you are a remote working pro or new to this whole work from home gig, we’re here to provide insight on the benefits and challenges of working from home remotely, plus give you some tips on how to stay productive and help your team adapt.

The Benefits Of Remote Working

For employees, the benefits are numerous. No more jumping out of bed and skipping breakfast to sit in traffic every day. Life is just better when you have a little extra time. Instead of arriving at work frazzled, you can sit down fully-fed and raring to go!

Stress levels tend to be lower as the work-life balance improves. You have more control over your work environment and can make it as pristine or messy as you like. There’s the option to work outside your “office” set up in cafes or co-working spaces (or during times of restrictions, your deck or backyard!). And best of all, your schedule can work around your lifestyle.

Employers get benefits too, such as improved employee retention, access to a wider pool of applicants when hiring, lower costs in office space, and increased employee productivity and performance, according to a range of studies.

Things To Be Aware Of

It’s not all roses and rainbows, particularly for those not used to the remote work lifestyle.

If you are a people person, working out of the office environment can be a little lonely. More effort is often needed to build a sense of community, camaraderie and engagement. The lack of interaction and human connection can be difficult for some people.

Not to mention, there are a ton of distractions at home to contend with. For those that are not used to it, there’s likely to be an adjustment period needed. You may find you aren’t that productive for the first week or two, until you find your groove.

How To Stay Productive When Working From Home

It can be very tempting to be distracted by the fridge, the couch or the call of Netflix when you are working from home. But they are all going to impact your productivity. Stay on task by following these guidelines …

  • Set up a space. Yes, it’s tempting to work from bed, but this is a no-no. Set up a dedicated workspace – whether it’s a dedicated desk space in your spare room, a stand-up kitchen bench or a corner of the dining table or bedroom.
  • Get dressed! At least, change out of your night PJs into your day PJs!
  • Set a schedule and stick to it
  • Eliminate distractions: use apps to block social media for set periods, and do not watch “just one episode” on Netflix!
  • Take regular breaks, get some fresh air, and clock off at the end of the day – don’t be tempted to work all day every day.
  • Have allocated work time. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to follow the 9 to 5 grind. If you are an early riser, then get in a couple of hours before your household wakes up. Likewise, if you are a night owl, maximise those hours too.
  • As well as that allocated work time, have allocated family or rest time too. That way, you will have a nice balance to fill your week.
  • Have a list of three tasks that you must complete each day. This will keep you progressing on the most important things on your To Do List.

How To Manage Remote Workers Effectively

Managing a team remotely is not the same as managing one in the office. You can’t pop your head into someone’s office or drop by their desk for a quick chat.

But, it is possible to still manage them remotely…

  • Provide clear expectations for communication. Do you prefer staff to email, text, or chat? Will you communicate with the wider team through video calling or mix it up and also use online tools like Slack or Trello? How should they connect with others when something is urgent? Clarify these guidelines for everyone from the outset.
  • Keep up the one-on-ones. Group video calls are great to maintain team cohesion, but ensure you schedule regular one-on-one chats with each employee.
  • Use multiple channels to communicate. Tools such as Zoom, Slack, Trello, Google Suite, Facebook Teams and more are great for planning, delegating, and keeping in touch.
  • Trust your team. Keep in touch and be available, but avoid micro-managing. Using some of the above collaboration tools will help you keep tabs on the work being done without becoming overbearing.
  • Proactively facilitate socialising. Arrange after work video drinks, breakfast catch ups, or allow extra time at the beginning or end of group video chats to catch up and bond.

While there are many benefits to working from home remotely, it can be challenging if it is thrust on you without warning. This is the case for many of us in the current situation.

An important thing to remember is to stay in touch with your experts throughout this period (and beyond!). Even though this new working situation is uncharted territory for many businesses, you still need to ensure you are adhering to process and legalities.

If you have any questions, queries or concerns about how to provide the best environment for your people during these times, then get in touch with the Spice Gals. We are operating from home during the Level 4 lockdown period and are more than happy to help you navigate these uncertain waters.

How Is HR Different Today Than It Was In 2010?

How Is HR Different Today Than It Was In 2010?

How Is HR Different Today Than It Was In 2010?

Let’s ponder this: How is HR different today than it was a mere ten years ago. Even though it feels like the blink of an eye for many of us!

We have seen the meteoric rise of social media and the rapid advancement of technology. The millennials are well and truly grown up, and Generation Z is entering the workforce hot on their heels.

The way in which businesses manage and interact with their employees has had to transform to keep pace with this new culture. HR still deals with people, but the fundamental values and trends have evolved.

Let’s look into the key differences in how the approach to HR has changed in the last ten years.

A More Individual Focus

A decade ago, employee benefits tended to be “one-size-fits-all,”.  But, this has given way to a more individualised and flexible style today.

Not every employee wants or needs the same perk: while one person might value daycare facilities and family health insurance, another might prefer a remote work schedule or training and development incentives.

Employers know they need to understand individual employees’ needs if they want to earn their loyalty. So, they offer a more individualised approach to employee incentives.

More Informal Performance Reviews And Feedback

Performance reviews used to be a massive task that no one enjoyed. And they weren’t overly effective.

Thankfully, the annual, formal (and let’s face it, often tedious) performance review process is fading into obscurity. To replace it, companies are using a more flexible, frequent, and casual approach that values timely and useful performance-based conversations.

This allows both employer and employee to have open lines of communication, giving credit when it is due and addressing any issues as they arise – not 11 months down the track when they are no longer relevant!

The Rise Of The Gig Economy

In the days of the Boomer, the best way to get ahead in life was to stick with one company and work your way up the career ladder. You will see this less and less in the following generations. It is thanks, largely, to the rise of the gig economy.

Few people stay in one organisation for decades, and many even change fields several times throughout their working lives. Different experiences are more valuable to millennials than staying in one place for years.

HR has responded by providing remote positions or flexible work schedules – a trend that will only increase in the coming decade. To encourage employees to stick around longer rather than seeking new experiences elsewhere, businesses are providing purpose, variety, and growth opportunities within the existing job roles.

The Evolution Of “Culture Fit”

In the early 2010s, the buzz was all about culture fit: namely, how well an individual would slot into the company’s culture. There is less of an emphasis on this now. Businesses are more interested in a general alignment of values and intention.

It’s more about how a candidate can enhance a culture, rather than how they can fall in line with it.

A Focus On Employee Experience

Employee wellbeing is much more valued than it was ten years ago. Workplace wellbeing and employee wellness have a significant impact on productivity and profitability, which most organisations now recognise.

As technology makes it easier for us to communicate and work from anywhere, the lines between work and home have become increasingly blurred. This can lead to overwork, overwhelm and stress. Today’s HR departments acknowledge this transition and encourage work-life balance in a variety of ways.

Employee engagement is prioritised, and HR strives to ensure that employees have a positive experience within the company – from the onboarding process onwards.

In such a fast-paced world, it can be hard to keep up, particularly as technology advances in leaps and bounds. “Bots” can replace people, and AI can facilitate work processes, but there is still a need for compassion, adaptability, and understanding in the modern workforce. This is obviously an area where Human Resources can continue to shine.

If you want to shine a light on your practices and move with the current HR trends, then get in touch with us here at Spice HR.

Is There Such A Thing As Work Life Balance?

Work life balance is a concept that has been doing the rounds for decades. But as we all know, it’s easier said than done.

Advances in technology mean we are online and available 24/7. This often blurs the lines between work time and downtime. Plus, it’s really hard to shake off the “work harder and longer than everyone else” mentality of the baby boomer generation.

In spite of this, creating a work environment that supports and encourages work life balance is essential for keeping your employees – and your business – healthy.

Read on to find out why this balance is so important, and to get some ideas on how to achieve it for you and your team.

Is There Such A Thing As Work Life Balance?

Healthy Employees = Healthy Business

The people on your team need to be mentally and physically well to perform at their optimum level.

Overworked people are stressed, and stress can lead to a vast array of health issues. These can be both mental and physical. You are likely to see more absenteeism, lower morale – and overall, a drop in productivity and retention.

On the contrary, people who feel that health and wellness inside AND outside of work are not only supported but encouraged, come to work refreshed and engaged. They will be more loyal to your business because they feel understood and valued, becoming loyal brand ambassadors.

Enable Flexibility

Work life balance looks different for every individual. For some, it means being able to start or finish work at different times or work remotely. For others, it’s paid time off instead of traditional, segmented leave. For many, it’s merely being able to switch off once they have clocked out.

Creating a flexible work environment that caters to the widely varied needs of your team is critical. If your employees spend all their “life” time running around doing their off-work chores instead of truly relaxing, they are going to find it hard to focus on the job.

Enabling some flexibility during the workday to pop out for an appointment, make a phone call, or take care of their health can make a world of difference.

Foster Workplace Wellbeing

Balance isn’t just about giving people enough time away from work. It is equally important to make the workplace a positive place to be. Flexible hours and plenty of time off means nothing if your employees dread coming to work or head home feeling completely burned out every day.

Taking steps to build holistic wellbeing in the workplace will pay off in the long run. When looking at ways to improve your workplace wellbeing, remember to look to encompass the five essential elements of wellbeing – career, community, financial, physical and social. You will attract and retain top talent, and improve the bottom line of your business.

Here are some wellness in the workplace examples to consider:

  • Career pathways and opportunities – discussions and planning
  • Workplace massage
  • Healthy snacks
  • Team exercise initiatives or gym membership discounts
  • Free sessions on financial literacy
  • Quiet areas in the office for de-stressing
  • Workshops and training relevant to your team
  • Organised group activities to give back to your community
  • Social downtime as a team

Model Balance At All Levels

Make sure that managers walk the walk and lead by example!

It’s all very well for the message to filter down through the ranks that it’s okay for people to leave on time, not reply to emails after hours, and take their leave each year, but if CEO’s and managers are modelling the opposite (overworking) behaviour, THAT is the message that people will heed.

Instead of working yourself to the bone, implement good practices of delegation. Also, boost your productivity time by switching off your phone and having focused work time without interruption. If you can make the most of your hours at work, then tasks won’t have to creep over into your home life.

Looking to get better work life balance at your workplace? Then get in touch with the Spice Gals. We can help you implement great practices for the whole team so that everyone has the opportunity to strike the balance they need between work and downtime.