How To Boost Workplace Wellness This Winter

Winter wellness – it’s all about rugging up warm, getting that flu jab and staying home from work if you’re unwell, right? Well, that’s part of it.

But have you thought about how you’ll care for the mental wellness of your team this winter – particularly at work?

Deadlines, demanding customers, COVID-19 worries, long hours, remote working – the list of things that can knock our wellbeing at work is endless. And the long, grey winter months can make it all feel so much worse. But improving our mental wellbeing is priceless.

So, how can you ensure you are being an ethical leader and creating an environment of winter workplace wellness? Read on to find out.

How To Boost Workplace Wellness This Winter

Why Workplace Wellness?

Good mental health at work and good management go hand in hand. There’s evidence that workplaces with high levels of mental wellbeing are more productive. According to WorkSafe NZ, focusing on mental health in the workplace is essential because:

  1. It’s good for business. When people are happy in their environment, they are more productive, take less sick leave, and are more likely to remain in their jobs for longer.
  2. It’s a legal obligation under the Health and Safety at Work Act (which is as much about mental health as physical health!)
  3. It’s a moral and ethical obligation for all of us to do the right thing by one another.

Workplace wellness creates a better working environment for everyone, so it becomes a pleasure to be at work despite the dreary weather outside!

Navigating The Winter Blues

The winter blues are a well-known phenomenon. They are most heavily felt throughout the workplace. As the temperature drops and the weather worsens, it is harder to get those sunlight hours that our bodies desperately crave.

As a manager, it is your responsibility to acknowledge that your team may be feeling those winter blues and have a plan to combat their impact as much as possible. One of the easiest ways to do that is to regularly check in with your team – individually and in a group setting.

Encourage open lines of communication so that your team can discuss issues or problems they are facing, have constructive conversations so that they can build resilience, and develop perseverance.

A Guide To Improving Mental Wellbeing In The Workplace

Here at Spice HR, we believe that good mental wellbeing at work is crucial, which is why we support the Five Ways to Wellbeing developed by New Zealand’s Mental Health Foundation.

Whilst these are general principles, they can be practically applied in the workplace. Here are the five areas your team should focus on for great workplace wellness this winter:

  1. Connect

Listen and talk, be present, feel connected. Speak up when you need to, and listen to others. Keep the communication lines open by encouraging discussion

2. Give

Give your time, knowledge, and presence – an essential part of connecting!

3. Take notice

Recognise the good things that your team are doing and the things that spark their creativity and joy. Even the little things count. Appreciate them!

4. Keep Learning

Embrace new experiences, see development opportunities, and provide ongoing learning experiences for your team members.

5. Be Active

Encourage your team to keep active throughout the day even if their role requires them to be at a desk. Do what you can, help them enjoy what they do, and don’t forget to move your mood and your body! Just move – no matter how you do it!

Here at Spice HR, we think that number 1 is particularly crucial: Connect. Many struggling with mental wellbeing try to hide their feelings, afraid of other people’s responses. If you create workplace cultures where people can be themselves, they will speak more freely about mental health concerns and reach out for help when needed. It all comes down to open lines of communication.

Are You An Ethical Leader?

Part of supporting good mental health in the winter workplace is ensuring you behave like an ethical leader. That means taking the time to build a healthy workplace environment for all of your team members.

Ethical leaders tend to choose people over financial reward. While economic growth is essential for many businesses, you will struggle to achieve your goals if you don’t have the buy-in of your people. That means balancing your decision-making to ensure you are doing the right thing by your employees and doing what is best for the business.

There are plenty of ways you can do this. But ultimately, it comes down to creating an environment in which people want to work. An environment that embraces excellent communication. One where people’s opinions and ideas are respected, management show transparency and shares information, and staff feel heard.

Ensuring your team leaders and management have a sense of empathy is vital to supporting their staff appropriately.

Ready To Spice Up Your Workplace Wellness?

Achieving great workplace wellness can be challenging at any time of the year, yet that challenge increases significantly during the winter months.

Need more guidance to improve mental wellbeing in your workplace? Reach out to the Spice Gals!

Spice HR support small and medium businesses who need help getting HR frameworks in place – and we love helping businesses boost staff wellbeing.

So: stop right now, thank you very much – and drop us a line!

How Employee Engagement Surveys Help You Listen To Your Team

To say that it has been an interesting couple of years in business is somewhat of an understatement!

Since 2020, we have had to transform the way we work.

The global workforce has had to adapt to a unique set of circumstances and working conditions.

And as we settle into a new kind of normal here in NZ, we realise how far we have managed to come in flexibility, adaptability and agile business practices.

So, how do your team feel about it all?

Are they coping with the working conditions, has their behaviour changed and how are their interactions?

A great way to discover the answers to these questions is via employee engagement surveys. Now, you may have been conducting these before the world descended into madness. And if you were, it’s time to check if your survey questions are still relevant.

Let’s explore the benefits of employee engagement surveys and how you can conduct valuable ones at your workplace.

How Employee Engagement Surveys Help You Listen To Your Team

What Are Employee Engagement Surveys?

Employee engagement surveys are essential to the health of any organisation. They allow your team to deliver anonymous input on how they’re feeling and get any frustrations out. Team members who are struggling with something can express their real opinions.

This channel allows for honest communication, providing a true measure of team engagement.

Engaged employees are your top performers. They set the tone for everyone else, work hard, and positively portray your brand and values to customers. Other employees gravitate towards them. On the flipside, team members who may be disengaged or dissatisfied can also affect your organisation – negatively. And the longer you let their dissatisfaction simmer, the worse things can get.

Conducting regular employee engagement surveys can help you keep your finger on the pulse of your team and gives you the opportunity to make timely changes as issues are identified.

Talking And Listening: Step It Up!

Surveys are one of the best ways for you to discover how your employees are feeling.

Most businesses perform annual surveys, often alongside performance reviews. This is a good start, but annual surveys alone may not be enough to measure employee engagement. Why hold out until your scheduled annual survey, when it may be too late to change by then?

Employees change roles frequently these days, and you can’t wait months to find out you have a team-wide problem or someone who’s deeply dissatisfied at work. It’s also valuable to know what is working well in your team and how you can develop that further.

Using short surveys to take the pulse of your team members on a more frequent basis reminds them regularly that their concerns matter and keeps you up to date on how engaged they are.

The Survey – And Beyond

So, how do you get your employee engagement surveys underway and ensure they are valuable?

Firstly, you need to get your team’s buy-in about how valuable this exercise can be. You want them to see this as a way to positively contribute to their work environment rather than a time-consuming exercise! Part of that is making sure you follow through on the feedback they provide by taking action and changing things that aren’t working as they should.

Secondly, you need to include pointed questions that will give you actionable responses. Asking something vague like, “how is your work environment” could draw any number of responses. But a more specific question like, “are you feeling supported in your work environment” will provide actual data you can work with.

Think about key questions that will help your employees give you the responses you need to develop a productive and positive workplace.

Reading The Responses

There are plenty of resources available that can guide you on what to ask your team – that’s the simple part. But it’s also worth thinking about how you’ll productively use the answers they come back with.

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you review the survey responses that can help channel your survey into productive change where that’s needed.

As you’re considering your team’s feedback, ask yourself:

  • How has staff behaviour and interaction changed since the last survey?
  • What is your team’s wellbeing like?
  • Are they feeling supported, and do they have the right processes and tools in place to be successful?
  • Are we still communicating in the same ways?
  • Are there more people working remotely and how can we overcome disengagement in screen-based relationships?
  • Do we need more person-to-person time?
  • Do we have the right support, systems, processes, tools, and communication channels in place?

Adapting To A New Climate

Chances are the recent switch to more remote work and time off for isolation or illness may have had an impact on in-person time with your team and how you communicate. Review how this is working. Your staff may need more frequent face-to-face check ins. If that’s not possible, consider how you can step up your screen-based communications to avoid any disengagement.

Consider how to handle disputes or dissatisfactions that may have come to light via the survey. The most difficult conversations are much better done in person, so ensure you find a way to make that happen. If you need to give feedback on a negative survey response, get face to face with that employee.

Keep Talking – In The Way That Suits Your Employees Best

Open channels of communication and having opportunities to speak and be heard are essential to employee satisfaction. But everyone is different. Surveying your team can also help you to understand their different styles of communication and allow you to adapt this on an individual basis to get the best results.

Want some advice on conducting employee surveys – how, when and what to ask?

Ask the Spice Gals! We support small and medium businesses with friendly, helpful support on all things employment related. Give us a call today!

How To Tackle Hiring and Onboarding New Staff Remotely

Many things became redundant during a pandemic – travel, music festivals, alarm clock sales (yes, really!) and for many, the good old office work environment.

But businesses still need to keep moving forward. They still have to serve their customers, source their supplies, and recruit and train new staff – only, all these “business as usual” processes look a lot different now than they did pre-COVID.

At Spice HR HQ, we’ve experienced changes too: our dynamic duo has become a beautifully rounded team of five.

We personally experienced what it’s like recruiting, hiring, and onboarding new staff remotely – a process that may be daunting for those new to the world of managing remote employees.

In this blog, we’ll explore how recruiting and onboarding are done differently over lockdowns and post-COVID and offer some insight on how to approach it with your business.

But first, we’d love to introduce you to the newest Spice Gals on our team.

How To Tackle Hiring and Onboarding New Staff Remotely

Let’s Talk About Spice

2021 was a year of growth for Spice HR, which meant we were able to bring a few fresh faces onto our team.

Pre expansion, you would be communicating with the original Spicey duo, Nicole and Nichola – but now, your documents and emails may be crafted by Justine, Bianca or Nina.

Let’s do a brief intro so that you can put a face to each new name:

Justine

Justine has more than 20 years of management experience, bringing a wealth of knowledge to the team. She has a passion for helping others thrive and for encouraging equity and inclusion. She believes there are always opportunities for improvement, continued personal growth, and doing the right thing, even when no one is looking.

Nina

Nina has a new HR degree under her belt, along with a past life as a manager. She has a passion for all things HR and has come on board to help our clients with their HR projects. When she’s not neck-deep in HR, Nina is running around after her toddler or out and about exploring the best places to grab a bite to eat.

Bianca

Bianca is our Spicey queen of all things admin. With 20 years in the workforce to back her up, she’s the one taking care of all the details and making sure everything runs smoothly. Like any good Spice Gal, Bianca is always up for a challenge and will often dive into the world of HR to lend the rest of us a hand. Like most Aucklanders, Bianca is looking forward to jumping on a plane and travelling again when the opportunity arises.

There you have it – with five members, we’re now officially as big as the actual Spice Girls and well on our way to Spice Gal World Domination!

Our newest team members have been onboarded and enveloped in the warm glow of our spicey culture. If you’re wondering how that works in times of lockdown and remote work, keep reading for some insight.

Things To Consider When Hiring and Onboarding New Staff Remotely

While the fundamentals of recruiting and onboarding remain the same, the process may look a little different. Due to lockdowns or location, some managers may not meet their employees in person before hiring, but that doesn’t need to be an issue.

In fact, thanks to digital advances driven by the pandemic, it’s now easier than ever to take care of hiring and onboarding new staff remotely. Let’s take a closer look at each part of the process.

Recruiting Remotely

The right fit remains one of the most important aspects of recruitment. And getting the right fit means effectively marketing your employee value proposition. To attract an employee who embraces and enhances your culture, you must be able to describe and demonstrate that culture.

This goes further than just your job advertisement or position description. Put some thought into how your brand appears from the outside looking in, via social media, your website, and word of mouth from previous and current staff.

Share pictures and videos online of how your team collaborates, even in a remote work environment. Talk about your camaraderie in an authentic way, and work on building genuine connections between your existing employees to organically build a great culture that’s visible to all.

Virtual interviews are often more efficient than in-person interviews and can be less daunting for candidates. Zoom or Teams are usually the go-to methods here, and most people are more than familiar with how they work by now!

When it comes to paperwork, it’s now possible to do it all digitally. Even contracts can be signed virtually using a tool like DocuSign or HelloSign. That means a faster, more efficient hiring process. And if you’re lucky enough to have an HRIS, then it’s all automated for you!

Onboarding New Staff Remotely

How does onboarding new staff remotely work? You can’t give them an office tour and introduce them to your team during a morning coffee break, so what’s the procedure?

Well, setting expectations is still crucial, so it’s important for managers to communicate with a new hire before their first day on the job. This is an opportunity to provide any documents or materials that they need to understand how your business works.

Share your values and culture in ways that feel appropriate; written documents followed up with a Zoom call for a more in-depth chat is a good start.

You’ll also need to share copies of your code of conduct, employee handbook and any other documents that can help your new hire integrate into the business smoothly.

How Do You Onboard Remotely?

One on one and group video calls will be needed to introduce the team, and these should continue regularly to ensure that camaraderie and connection develops between your employees.

You may even want to set up a mentor or “buddy system” so your new hire has a closer relationship with a specific person (whether that’s their direct manager or a colleague) – someone who’s on-call to help them navigate their new role.

Bear in mind that it can take a little longer for someone to integrate into a new work environment remotely. They don’t have the opportunity to interact with managers and colleagues as organically as they would in an office environment.

Give them the time and resources they need, and don’t assume that if they’re quiet, they’re doing just fine. Managers must be proactive and check-in, ask for feedback, and be ready to provide more support if needed.

Spicing Up Your Hiring and Onboarding

It can be tricky to navigate the process of hiring and onboarding new staff remotely in this world of post-pandemic business.

If your business needs some support to recruit and onboard new team members – remotely or otherwise – the Spice HR team are here to help.

Contact us to find out what we can do for you.

How to Keep On Top Of Health and Safety at Work

 

With a recent move back to Red, and confirmation that the dreaded Omicron has arrived in NZ, it’s time to revisit your Health and Safety guidelines to make sure you’ve dotted all the I’s and crossed all the T’s.

Health and safety at work has sure got more complicated over the last few years. But as we try to settle into the new normal  it could be time to get back to basics.

If some of your health and safety tasks disappeared off your radar as you dealt with a million other things, you’re forgiven. We’ve all been rather busy just trying to stay afloat. But health and safety at work isn’t something that should be neglected, especially now.

Health and safety at work can feel like an overwhelming task, but really, it’s not so daunting if you take it one step at a time.

Let’s help you get back on track by going through some of the basic checks you need to do to get health and safety sorted at your workplace.

How To Keep On Top Of Health and Safety at Work

Stay On Top Of The Rule Changes

So much has changed over the last few years, and it may feel like the rules evolve every couple of weeks, but one thing has not changed – and that’s your obligation to provide a safe work environment for your employees.

Granted, that may be more complicated than it used to be, but the law is still the law, and there’s no excuse for failing to comply with it.

As such, it’s vital for employers to know the latest rules around COVID-19 for their specific industry and business.

Make sure you get clear on PPE guidelines and regulations at different traffic light levels, and be proactive about reaching out for advice if you’re confused.

There are plenty of great websites out there packed full of information. Here are some excellent resources to get stuck into if you need a little extra insight:

Addressing health and safety concerns

Employment New Zealand’s guide for workers at different COVID-10 alert levels

Vaccinations and work – Unite against COVID-19

Managing health and safety – Worksafe

Health and safety during COVID-19

Get Your Docs Up To Date

We know that paperwork is not everyone’s favourite thing, but it is an essential part of effectively managing health and safety at work.

While the law doesn’t specifically say you must have H&S documents, the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 does require you to take all reasonable steps to provide a safe working environment for your staff – and your documentation is a key part to being able to show that’s just what you’re doing.

This also means communicating effectively and keeping everyone informed, and if your docs aren’t up to date, they’re not going to do the job. So now’s the time to review your policies, info sheets, signs, flowcharts, and procedures to ensure they are updated, clear, relevant and accessible to your entire team.

For guidance on writing H&S documents, check out this great resource from Worksafe NZ:

Writing for Health and Safety 

Train Your Staff

Staff training is an essential factor in taking care of your employees’ health and safety at work. This is stated in the H&S in Employment Act, which states that you must ensure your workers have the appropriate knowledge and experience to do their job.

Training your staff in health and safety isn’t just about ticking the boxes, though. Equipping your team with the skills and knowledge they need to do their jobs safely and effectively reduces workplace accidents and injuries, enhances productivity, boosts morale, and saves your business money in the long run.

If your H&S training has fallen through the cracks, this is the perfect time to get to it!

Be Mindful Of Mental Health

Health and safety at work isn’t just about eliminating or minimising the risk of physical harm. Employers must also take steps to support and manage their employees’ mental health.

Many people are experiencing increased anxiety over returning to on-site work, so it’s crucial that organisations prioritise psychological safety alongside physical safety in the workplace.

As you welcome your employees back to on-site work, find ways to help build resilience, create wellbeing, add flexibility into their routines, and provide resources to those who need extra support.

Our blog Let’s Talk Mental Wellness at Work has lots of spicey info and valuable resources if you’d like to know more about supporting mental wellness in the workplace.

 

Feeling a tad overwhelmed about health and safety in covid times?

Never fear; the Spice HR team is here. We can help you get your head around workplace H&S and find your new normal. Get in touch today to find out more.

Beginning A Different Kind of New Year

New years roll around at an alarming pace.

The year only just seems to start and then before you know it, you are singing Auld Lang Syne, raising a glass, reviewing the year that has been and preparing your business for another trip around the sun.  

But this new year feels unlike the others we have experienced before. 

2021 was meant to be our fresh start after a rather trying 2020. Then, it pulled a total fast one on us and turned out to be worse!  

So, as we cautiously begin 2022, we have none of the lofty ambitions of last year. This will not be our year to return to life as it was before COVID. 

This will be a different kind of new year. But, we are no less optimistic about it! 

Let’s explore how you can make the most of another uncertain new year and prepare your team for the next 12 months. 

 

Beginning A Different Kind Of New Year 

Acknowledge The Year That Was 

It is pretty tempting to sweep the events of 2021 under the rug and pretend that they didn’t happen. Not only were we dealing with potential threats to our health, but we all had an additional layer of stress created by working from home. Juggling home schooling, the endless quest for uninterrupted work time, worries about job security and toilet paper shortages were no joke! 

So, now is the time to congratulate your whole team for making it out the other side. 

Look back on the year and celebrate the things that went well. Thank your team for their dedication in tough times and congratulate yourselves for making it work. While the year was hard, it taught many businesses that work conditions could be flexible. Now, we can continue that flexibility and use it to our advantage. Allowing your team to continue embracing flexible hours and working locations where practical, will be a great morale booster. 

 

Maintaining Mindset 

All the stresses of the last two years might have had a negative impact on your staff morale. And when morale is low, so too is productivity and output.  

Helping your team maintain a positive mindset despite everything that has happened is an essential new year task. The right mindset will boost productivity, increase employee engagement, and help to retain valuable team members. 

With a new protection framework now in place, we should hopefully see fewer disruptions to life and business operations. So, capitalise on that positivity by allowing your team to work when they are most productive.  

Physical safety has been a huge focus in the last two years and we have the masks and hand sanitiser to prove it. But, mental wellbeing and safety are just as important. Help your team manage their schedules to prevent burnout, connect with each individual to check how they are coping, and encourage the whole team to take their breaks and holidays. 

 

Keep The Comms Flowing 

Your team have dealt with a lot of uncertainty lately and we are not out of the woods yet. It would appear COVID is here to stay, so make sure you are communicating well and often with your team. 

Give them as much information as you possibly can as this will reduce some stress and build an important level of trust. While targets might move, dates might change and the goalposts might shift, your team will appreciate the transparency of regular updates and receiving up to date information. 

By establishing open lines of communication from your side, your team will also feel as though they can share concerns or suggestions they might have. This allows them to feel as if they have some control over an uncertain situation. Of course, that will only mean good things for their overall morale! 

 

Unifying Under A Collective Vision 

No one can possibly predict what will happen this year, the last two years have certainly proven that! Yet, you can establish a vision for how you want your business to operate, the characteristics you value and the impact you want to make. 

By creating this vision, you are providing your whole team with a roadmap for the year. While there might be some unexpected potholes to navigate or bridges to build, the end destination remains the same. 

By unifying your team under a collective vision they will feel valued, important and part of something bigger than just themselves. It will help you all to move forward and stay optimistic, regardless of what the year might bring. 

 

Make Time for Fun 

In the midst of a global pandemic, it is easy for work and home life to feel very serious. With restrictions to adhere to, daily news reports to read, mandates to follow and ever-increasing stress levels, things can get negative quickly. 

But, they really don’t have to. Just because there is some serious stuff going on in the outside world, it doesn’t mean your team can’t make time for fun.  

Connecting with each other in a social way can lighten the mood and build a great team culture. Whether you choose to have a monthly quiz night over Zoom or Microsoft Teams, a picnic in the park with the cricket bat and beverages, or a family friendly game of Never Have I Ever, your team will be able to blow off steam and connect. 

Laughter is the best medicine, so keep things fun and lighthearted where appropriate. 

 

Looking Ahead 

Rather than looking back on everything you have been through, look forward towards the amazing things you could achieve this year. That will keep your whole team focused on the future and optimistic about what the year will bring. 

While things might remain uncertain, you can keep your team moving forward and unified under a clear vision and collective goals. This will ensure they maintain a positive mindset and together you can overcome any future challenges. 

Want some more practical ways to maintain great staff morale during a very different kind of new year? Then we can help you do it. Full of Spice and practical, actionable strategies, our team will help your team remain strong in the year ahead. Contact us today 

How To Find The Elusive Work Life Balance

How To Find The Elusive Work Life Balance

 Rollercoasters can be a lot of fun, but imagine if you were forced to ride one when you weren’t really in the mood for excitement.

You’d probably be more stressed than excited, but you’d tolerate it, dust yourself off and move on.

But what if someone forced you onto that rollercoaster again and again, never giving you time to prepare and never telling you how many times you’d have to go around the loop-de-loop before you were allowed to disembark.

Even a resilient lover of thrill rides would tire of that vicious cycle, becoming worn out, anxious, and just plain over it.

That’s where we’re at, folks. We’ve been riding the COVID rollercoaster for nearly two years. And even though New Zealand had a pretty decent break, we find ourselves thrust back onto the ride, whether we like it or not.

So, what can we do?

How To Find The Elusive Work Life Balance

Prioritising What’s Important

Uncertainty takes a toll on our ability to work, parent or even just do what needs to be done around the home. That’s why mental wellbeing is more essential now than ever – and finding work life balance plays a significant role in our mental health.

Let’s talk about why it’s so important to switch off from work and how to separate home and work life.

We’ll also share some valuable mental wellbeing resources to help you and your team survive the COVID rollercoaster together.

Climb aboard and buckle up!

Why Finding The Work Life Balance Is More Important Than Ever

If your resilience and tolerance are wearing thin (or long gone), it’s understandable. The uncertainty of being in and out of lockdown, working from home, parenting from home, and living under social restrictions is stressful for everyone.

Work life balance has been a hot topic for years, but in the current pandemic climate, it’s a lot more complicated than it once was.

The lines between work and home are becoming increasingly blurred. While that’s particularly true for those working from home, it’s still relevant for essential workers who need to leave the house.

Partners or flatmates may be working from home, changing the home environment completely, and if you have kids, the juggle struggle is real, regardless of whether you work from home or not.

On top of all this, we’re trying to cope with worries and fears about illness, sick friends and family, and an uncertain future – both personally and professionally.

That’s an awful lot to deal with.

The Mental Wellness Discussion

With everything that is currently going on, mental wellness has become a crucial conversation.

If we don’t prioritise work life balance and take care of our mental health, we’ll find it hard to cope with any aspect of life.

The ongoing stress can result in unproductivity, loss of motivation, depression, and anxiety. And if we don’t find ways to mitigate the demands of work and home, we’re likely to experience that stress physically, too, with fatigue, headaches, digestive issues, and long-term health issues.

Not only do we need to take responsibility for our own mental health, but we need to support those around us too – our friends, family, colleagues and employees.

It may have been said so much that it’s become something of a cheesy cliché, but we are all in this together!

How To Separate Home And Work When Working From Home

How’s the productivity going now that you’ve been working from home for a while? Should be a piece of cake, right? Do you have your routine sorted? Do you knock off on time every day? Are you more productive than ever?

If the answer is yes, then virtual high five for you – you’ve nailed the demands of WFH.

But for so many workers, the struggle continues. Working from home isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and it can be hard to separate home and work.

If that’s you, here are some tips to help you regain that work life balance.

Stick to a morning routine

Resist the temptation to get straight on the laptop to start work the minute you wake up. Try to stick to the same kind of routine you had before COVID. Maybe you’re a morning person and used to exercise and shower before heading to work. Or perhaps you grabbed a coffee at the gas station and sat in traffic every day.

Either way, create some kind of routine to separate your home life from your work life. Get up, get ready, walk around the block, then arrive in the “office” and get to work.

Create a dedicated workspace

If possible, devote an area of your home to your workspace. Resist working from the bed or couch – it’s too distracting (and horrendous for your back!). If you have a separate room to work in, fantastic! Set that area aside and only use it for work.

If not, make do with what you have, but make it your designated work area. You may have to work at the dining room table, but choose a special chair or cushion, and only use that for work and nothing else.

Leave the Office at the End of the Day

Create an end of work routine to separate your workday from home. Don’t sit and browse your laptop once you are finished. Instead, get up and leave – even if it’s just to walk around the garden!

Establish boundaries – and stick to them

Make sure you, your manager, your colleagues (or clients) are clear on your work hours. Agree that work emails or phone calls only happen between those times, and resist the temptation to fire off a “quick” email outside of those hours.

Don’t forget to set boundaries with your family or housemates too. Let them know that when you’re working, that’s work time, and you’re not available for chores or chats. The best way to get the time you need is to communicate that you need it.

Take breaks

Schedule a lunch break and stick to it. Don’t spend that lunch break on your computer – step away! Go outside and take some deep breaths, grab a book to read while you eat, or chat with the family. Take regular breaks away from your workspace during the day, too.

Ask your employer for support

If you’re struggling to cope, be open with your employer. The best organisations will have strategies to address health and wellness. Ask for resources to help you manage overwhelm.

Go easy on yourself

You know those people you see on social media who are nailing their careers, baking delicious meals, home schooling their kids and doing yoga every day? Forget about them.

Even if their posts accurately reflect their lives (and chances are, they don’t), you are not them. You don’t have to do everything perfectly. It’s ok just to cope. It’s ok if you’re not coping. Give yourself a break and focus on what you are achieving instead of what you’re not.

Take care of your physical health

Your physical health directly impacts your mental health, and vice versa. It’s important to prioritise habits and activities that improve both. That means finding time to exercise (even if it’s dancing around the house) and eat well.

Oh, and don’t forget to laugh! Find things that make you smile and forget about the rollercoaster for a while.

Health And Wellbeing Resources

Rather than you having to trawl the internet for resources that might be helpful, we have compiled a handy list:

Mentemia

App and Website – Tried and tested tools to help promote and manage well being. Free for general use, but with tailored options available to businesses.

Mental Health Foundation

Practical wellbeing tips and advice based on the Five Ways to Wellbeing.

Working Well Guide

Resources for workplace wellbeing.

Getting Through Together

A pool of resources, tips and inspirational stories focused on health and wellbeing during COVID-19.

Working Well

A guide to mental health in the workplace.

Staying on Track

A free e-therapy course teaching you practical coping strategies for the COVID rollercoaster.

Small Steps

Digitally-based tools to help you maintain mental wellness.

Whakatui Mai – The Wellbeing Sessions

Free virtual community events aimed at supporting well being in real-time.

A Mental Health Guide for New Zealand Leaders

Comprehensive document aimed at leaders and managers to help them support the mental wellbeing of their teams.

And, of course, if you are feeling stuck, overwhelmed or unsure of how you can support your team with creating a good work life balance, then get in touch with the Spice Gals today. We can help you create a plan that supports your team remotely or in-person.

Managing Performance and Expectations In Your Team

Are you confident that your employees understand the performance expectations of their current roles? Is your feedback timely and relevant? Are you helping your team stay engaged and motivated?

That is a lot of questions to answer!

But, in the current fast-changing landscape of business, they are important questions to consider.

There is a lot of uncertainty in the world right now. People are developing a different set of needs based on recent events and the way the world is behaving.

With many businesses evolving and adapting thanks to COVID-19, it is the ideal time to review the way you communicate expectations and manage performance with your employees.

Let’s do a quick check-in to see if everyone is on the same page.

The Importance of Managing Expectations

Imagine you are training to be a pro athlete – let’s say a high jumper for the sake of this example.

At the beginning of your training, your coach tells you to practice jumping to be ready to qualify for nationals in six months. They hand you some running shoes, point you in the direction of the track, book you in for a review in five and a half months, and leave you to it.

What are your chances of successfully qualifying without any other assistance?

Pretty slim, right? You don’t know the height to aim for to qualify, get no feedback on your technique to improve, and have very little motivation or accountability to get you even close.

No coach worth their money would train someone without laying out expectations, giving continual feedback, and reviewing performance. But unfortunately, many employers and managers do just that to their employees.

We would go so far as to say that without clear expectations for your team members, it’s impossible to hold people accountable. And you can forget about managing performance altogether! Honestly, how can you expect people to meet your expectations if you don’t clarify what you expect of them!?

Setting Clear Expectations

Much like managing performance, setting expectations should be an ongoing conversation rather than an infrequent event. People develop their skills, clients adjust their needs, and even routine jobs and tasks can change, particularly as businesses adjust to life post-lockdown.

Ensure you stay up to date and redefine expectations as necessary. Don’t just assume that everyone is on the same page about any changes that have been made. It’s time to hone those communication skills and ensure everyone knows exactly what needs to be accomplished (and by whom and when!).

Where possible, capture the expectations as part of a written performance development plan, as key performance indicators or milestones.

Development vs Reviews

If someone is falling short of your expectations, try asking yourself if those expectations are clear. Of course they are to you, but are they crystal clear to your employee? As in the high-jumper example, it’s hard to be motivated if you don’t really understand what you should be doing or why.

Once the expectations are laid out clearly, your employees are far more likely to be engaged and motivated.

Keep your team on track with effective performance management that is relevant, timely, positive, and forward-focused. To get you into the right mindset, it can be helpful to reframe “performance reviews” as “development reviews.”

This approach focuses on helping employees develop their skills and grow with the business, rather than focusing too heavily on the things that went wrong.

If you have regular catch-ups designed to lead your people and your business forward with a growth mindset, they will feel as if they are on a journey with you, and life will be that much easier for everyone!

The word ‘uncertain’ keeps cropping up in conversation lately. And rightly so, these are uncertain times in many regards. Which is why managing performance and setting expectations is so important for your team.

If you are unsure how to tackle that in the current circumstances, then get in touch with us here at Spice HR. Together, we can help you navigate through the uncertainty. Drop us a line today!

Why Good Communication Is So Important

Communication begins the second we’re born.

We soon discover that making loud noises usually gets us what we want! Hopefully for most of us, our communication skills become much more advanced from then on. Though, you may meet the odd person who seems to still operate on this premise.

In business, as in life, communication is essential for survival. Done effectively, it helps your team be happy, creative, and productive.

Think about all the positive attributes you want your team to possess – trust, loyalty, efficiency, passion for the job (and the business as a whole), and commitment. Good communication is essential in creating each of these factors.

Let’s dive a little deeper into why good communication is essential to your business.

Why Good Communication Is So Important

Creating Buy-In

If an employee doesn’t understand or buy-in to the values and purpose of your organisation, they are unlikely to go the extra mile in any aspect of their role. So basically, you end up with someone who clocks in and out and does the bare minimum.

However, when you are able to effectively communicate your company’s “why,” you start to build a sense of belonging.

When employees understand how their role contributes to the bigger picture, they will take more pride in their work and serve as powerful advocates for your business. The side effects of buy-in include engagement and loyalty.

Increasing Productivity

Productivity is a key component of a successful business. Without being productive, you and your team are just wasting your own time… and company time.

One sure-fire way to increase productivity is to work on communication within your organisation. To do their job well, employees need to understand what is required of them. With the right information, they can do that job faster and more effectively.

Foster A Positive, Happy Workplace Culture

Nothing builds resentment faster than not listening to your employees – which equates to not valuing or respecting them. Communication is not a one-way street that only goes from the top-down. You must allow two-way communication. That means giving employees an avenue to voice their ideas and opinions without fear of being shut down.

It’s incredibly empowering for people to trust that if they bring a concern or idea to a manager, they will be heard. And who better to know how to improve the way things are done within your organisation than the people doing them!?

Building Cohesive Teams

Small issues can quickly develop into major HR issues in a workplace environment. Good communicators know how to listen without overreacting, which is essential in preventing misunderstandings and conflict.

Teams that work well together naturally create good morale, which, of course, is great for productivity!

Inspire Innovation and Creativity

When you encourage everyone in your organisation to openly share ideas, you foster an environment of innovation and creativity. Your employees are your biggest asset. They know the business inside out and potentially have so much to offer.

But if you make them feel as if their voices aren’t important, they’re not going to share these insights with others. Instead, foster an environment of open sharing. You never know what your team might come up with!

Building Trust

Trust is hard to earn and easy to lose. Trust affects engagement, culture, and ultimately, productivity, so you don’t want to lose it. Communicating clearly helps managers to be transparent, which in turn builds trust throughout the entire organisation. Down the line, this translates to transparency and trust among your customers and clients.

Encouraging multi-directional, good communication within your teams shouldn’t be an afterthought. It should be one of the foundations of your business strategy. If this is an area you think needs some work, trust us –it’s well worth the time and effort to improve.

Luckily, the Spice Gals are here to help you develop great communication within your business. Get in touch with us today if you want to discuss the power of communication further.