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Four Signs of a Toxic Workplace Culture

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James Ritter

The importance of culture in a workplace is often overlooked, but it can have a significant impact on employee performance. While a positive culture can foster collaboration and productivity, a toxic culture can do the exact opposite, leading to high turnover rates and low morale. In this article, we discuss four signs that could indicate you’re in a toxic workplace.

Micromanagement

Do you feel like your every move is being closely monitored and controlled? If so, you’re likely being micromanaged. When a manager controls every aspect of your work, it can create an environment of mistrust and anxiety, leading to decreased productivity and job satisfaction.

It’s natural for a manager to keep track of tasks to a certain extent, but scrutinising every aspect of someone’s work is when it becomes unhealthy. This style of management can actually stifle creativity and make employees reluctant to take any initiative in their roles.

Expectations that extend beyond working hours

In today’s culture, particularly in the realm of remote work where the lines between home and work are often blurred, many employees are expected to be available 24/7. This could include responding to emails, texts or phone calls outside of your scheduled working hours, creating an unhealthy work-life balance.

Imposing this kind of workplace environment makes it easy to feel burnt out, leading to decreased productivity and quality of work. It could also cause workers to feel unappreciated and start a job search elsewhere, contributing to high turnover rates.

Lack of opportunities

In any role, it’s important to feel that you have opportunities to grow and develop your skills. Without these opportunities, it can be difficult to stay motivated in a role. Not only does it make workers feel undervalued, but businesses that fail to provide training and career development often end up with a stagnant workforce. It’s important to have a certain element of change in order to bring new ideas to light, and as with anything in life, there’s always room for improvement.

Cliques and exclusion

If your workplace is bringing back memories of school cliques, it could be a sign that your employer has a toxic culture. No one should ever feel excluded or left out, especially at work where collaboration is key. In a workplace where groups stick together, anyone excluded from the group is likely to feel reluctant to participate in any team activities out of fear of workplace bullies.

It’s important that people are approachable, particularly managers or other high-ranking team members. Without this effective communication, employees may feel intimidated and disengaged which can have a significant impact on productivity.

Reach out

If you can relate to any of these four signs, it’s likely a sign that you’re part of a workplace with a toxic culture. Fortunately there are things that you can do to help, such as speaking to a human resources team member or raising any issues directly with your manager. However, if you feel that change is unlikely to happen, remember to put yourself first and find an environment that allows you to achieve your full potential.

This blog was contributed directly to Workplace Fairness. Published with permission.

About the Author: James Ritter is a freelance writer who holds a particular interest in employee welfare, and has created content for established companies based all around the world. He has a degree in
creative writing, and is always eager to expand his knowledge around different subjects.



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Navigating Self-Advocacy With ADHD in the Workplace

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Katie Brenneman

Living with neurodiversity can be a daily challenge. If you are one of the millions of Americans who has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), for example, you know all too well the impact your condition can have on your relationships and your home life. 

However, it’s not only your personal life that is likely to be impacted by ADHD. The odds are that you have felt its effects in your professional life as well. Indeed, nearly half of working adults with ADHD report that they feel as if their condition has negatively impacted their work life, with a significant majority reporting that they must work harder and longer than their neurotypical colleagues. 

What findings such as these illuminate above all is the critical importance of self-advocacy in the workplace. To be sure, fighting for the opportunities and rights to which you are entitled is not easy but, in the end, it is a necessary and worthwhile endeavor. 

What Is Self-Advocacy and Why Does It Matter?

Self-advocacy, simply put, is the process of defending your rights, of understanding your own needs, and taking proactive steps to ensure those needs are both respected and accommodated. The ultimate goal is to ensure that you are treated equitably and fairly, and that you do not experience discrimination or bias, whether conscious or unconscious, from those around you.

Self-advocacy is particularly critical for neurodivergent persons in the workplace because there is still so much misinformation and stigmatization surrounding these conditions. Unless your peers and managers become educated on what neurodiversity is and how it manifests in conditions such as ADHD, workers who are neurodiverse will continue to be misunderstood and marginalized in the workplace. 

Such marginalization can have devastating consequences not only for one’s career but also for one’s social, psychological, and financial well-being.

Know Your Rights–and Your Value

One of the first and most important steps you can take when you begin to advocate for yourself in the workplace is to understand both your rights and your value. You cannot hope to fight for your rights if you don’t first appreciate what it is, exactly, that you bring to the organization. 

When you clearly define the value you contribute, the more confidence you will have when asserting your needs and expectations. Plus, you will have the evidence you need to better make your case. You will be able to clearly articulate why it is in the company’s best interest to do what is needed to retain and support you in your work.

In addition to understanding the unique value you bring to the company, you also need to understand the rights you enjoy as an employee with a legitimate medical need. Under the terms of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), for example, employers are legally obligated to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities if those accommodations are needed to help the employee do their work successfully. If your employer refuses to provide those reasonable accommodations or subjects you to harassment or discrimination due to your diagnosis, you have the right to take legal action.

Navigating Difficult Conversations in the Workplace

Talking with your employer or colleagues about your condition may not be easy, but confronting the challenge can yield immense rewards. After all, how can you expect to experience a supportive and productive work environment if your supervisors and colleagues don’t understand your needs? 

If, for example, you find that your ADHD significantly affects your memory, you might discuss your challenges with your coworkers, requesting that they write important information down and provide timely reminders. Writing notes to yourself can also be an ideal way to help you keep track of important details. Best of all, if your coworkers understand that this is something you need to perform at your best, they can encourage and support you in the process.

Honoring Your Own Boundaries

No matter how well-educated you may be in regard to your legal rights and no matter how much data you collect to quantify the contributions you’ve made to your company, sometimes it’s just not going to be enough. There is, unfortunately, such a thing as a villainous work environment due to bad corporate culture and if you find yourself in one of those, there’s not much you can do. When the corporate culture is bad, sometimes the best solution is simply to move on.

The Wide-Ranging Benefits of Self-Advocacy

Despite what the name implies, self-advocacy isn’t really only about helping yourself. The benefits of self-advocacy extend far beyond the person doing it by creating a culture that is more inclusive, diverse, and supportive overall. The end result is a team environment in which everyone benefits by supporting, encouraging, and being supported and encouraged by one another. 

The Takeaway

When you have ADHD, self-advocacy in the workplace isn’t a choice, it’s a necessity if you want to enjoy the long, successful, and fulfilling career you deserve. Though it’s not easy, when you have a plan, when you understand your rights and your value, and when you recognize the benefits that your advocacy will bring to the corporate culture as a whole, you can muster the strength and courage you need to be your own best advocate.


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Intro to the “Remote Working Guide”

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James Ritter

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted a massive shift in the way people work, with many companies and employees having to adapt to remote working in a short space of time.

As time has passed, remote working has evolved, making way for a new era of the modern workplace.

While some have found this a challenging adjustment, others have embraced the benefits that come with working from home, including newfound flexibility, increased productivity, and a better work-life balance. As a result, remote working has become more popular than ever before and shows no signs of slowing down.

However, finding remote working roles comes with its own unique set of challenges, so it’s important to equip yourself with the knowledge needed to impress in a remote interview.

Fortunately, to help navigate the challenges in this new era of work, S1Jobs has created a comprehensive guide to remote working which takes you through every stage of securing a remote role — from interviews to settling into your new working style.

The guide covers a wide range of topics, including how to set up your workspace, staying connected with your team, managing your time effectively, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. It also includes advice on how to deal with common remote working challenges, such as loneliness, distractions, and communication issues.

This guide is packed with valuable information that can help you find the perfect remote working experience.

So if you want to learn how to find remote roles, work effectively from home and stay connected with your team once you land your new job, be sure to check out this remote working guide.

About the Author: James Ritter is a freelance writer who holds a particular interest in employee welfare, and has created content for established companies based all around the world. He has a degree in creative writing and is always eager to expand his knowledge around different subjects.


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5 Employment Trends to Watch in 2023

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As we enter 2023, changing employment trends have emerged that are already impacting countless employees and job seekers.  

Here are 5 specific developments that Allison & Taylor Reference & Background Checking anticipates for 2023:

  1. Given a projected tight labor market, employees are in a strong position vis a vis their compensation, benefits, and workplace accommodations.  Those seeking new employment — particularly those with technical skills — are in high demand and likely to remain so for the near term.  Increased opportunities for college graduates in 2023 are projected as well.
  1. While many employers are fostering a “return-to-the-office” mandate, hybrid and remote work are highly valued by countless employees which will ensure their continued presence in the marketplace.  Also likely: the expanded presence of the four-day workweek, benefitting employers and employees alike with lower burnout, reduced absenteeism, and increased sales.
  1. The modern workforce will continue to trend towards freelancing.  The growth of freelancing in recent years has easily exceeded that of the traditional workforce, with approximately half of all working millennials working in some freelance capacity.  Despite the current efforts of some states – notably California – to regulate the “gig” economy, it is estimated that a majority of the U.S. workforce will freelance by 2027.  
  1. Employers are increasing their levels of employee surveillance.  The number of employees who are monitoring their employees’ activities is growing, a function of ever-increasing numbers of employees working remotely or hybrid (and using their computers for both professional and personal use), a concern with employees leaking sensitive company information, and decreasing corporate costs in monitoring technology.  Employers are also watching their workers to avoid sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuits, in large part due to recent high-profile cases that resulted in the termination of well-known corporate executives.
  1. Workplace Abuse Will Continue As An Ongoing Fact of Life.  Previous surveys by the Workplace Bullying Institute (workplacebullying.org) identified approximately 27% of responders as having current or past direct experience with abusive conduct at work, with bosses constituted the majority of bullies. 

While the degree to which this might be mitigated as the result of remote/hybrid employment has yet to be determined, countless employers offer negative reference commentary regarding their former employees, adversely affecting their future employment prospects.  

Fortunately, third party reference checks conducted with former employers can often reveal information that can be utilized for remedial action, such as Cease & Desist letters, or more aggressive legal action.

This blog was contributed to Workplace Fairness by Heidi Allison-Shane. Republished with permission.


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Team Building Activities That Improve Engagement for Remote Teams

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As of 2022, around 26% of Americans work remotely. This should come as no real surprise; remote work has a wealth of benefits, including boosting productivity and allowing employees to have a better work-life balance.

But it also has its disadvantages, including a lack of team interaction.

To tackle this, an increasing number of companies are putting more focus on team-building activities.

If you have a remote team, be it local or global, take a look at these top team games to bring your staff together and encourage successful collaboration.

Monthly Team Quizzes

Quizzes are always a crowd-pleaser and super easy to take part in remotely or in-house, so if you have a blend of office and work-from-home staff, it’s a great choice!

Those who are in the workplace can get together to create teams, heading onto the video chat as one. Remote workers can join the group video chat, but each team can be given a private online “room” to discuss answers in.

If you have remote teams, it might be a good idea to give everyone a list of questions to go through in their groups and a time limit. When the time is up, each team heads into the main group chat to share their answers and see who wins.

Organize Virtual Workouts

Over half of Americans admit to not living a healthy lifestyle, with many wanting to change their ways and become fitter. But when you have an important job that takes up most of your day, it can be tricky to prioritize health. That’s where your business comes in.

As an employer, you can help staff to get more exercise and forge lasting connections with virtual or in-person workout sessions.

Once a week, put aside time for a non-compulsory team workout. Hire a professional trainer to host the session, guiding your team through exercise classes to help them get healthier and happier. Set up a group chat for everyone involved and encourage conversations about fitness goals and workout motivation. 

Not only does this help your team get to know one another and collaborate better, but exercise is also a great way to boost engagement and productivity! With numerous workplace benefits, this activity is a no-brainer.

Challenge Staff to a Scavenger Hunt

Just because you have remote staff doesn’t mean that every activity has to take place in the digital world.

If your team works near the same city, for example, why not invite them to an in-person event? This is a great way to encourage your team to meet up and get to know each other, and also helps to build your company’s reputation as a positive employer.

A fun in-person activity that should get lots of RSVPs is a scavenger hunt. Encourage your team to work together to overcome challenges and solve clues, helping them get to know one another and become more comfortable solving problems as a group.

If you’re in New York, we highly recommend checking out The Secret City’s NYC Scavenger Hunt, which they describe as “Urban adventures bringing the secrets of New York City to life.” Sounds good to us!

Send Daily Lunch Snaps

Not every activity has to be overly complicated. Some of the simplest group activities can be the best, helping to generate better rapport between staff and build long-lasting connections. One such idea is sending daily pictures of lunches. It’s simple but effective! 

Start a group chat and add whoever wants to join. Every working day (or most days), participants send a snap of their lunch to the group, and conversations will start to flow naturally.

Discussions over who has the best lunch, which flavor chips people prefer, and what they should make the next day are just some of the ways that this activity will get people talking! It’s a particularly good idea for new teams, helping break the ice quickly and get everyone over those first-chat nerves.

A Workplace Trivia Game

This is another game that can be done in person or remotely. You could plan it for the last hour on Friday, for example, allowing everyone to finish work early and turn their attention to some workplace trivia. Create a range of workplace-themed questions, such as:

  • Who has a new puppy called Yorkie
  • Who is the company’s biggest competitor
  • Which employee has their birthday in May
  • Who’s getting married in December
  • How many employees does the company have

Not only is this a fun game that should lead to plenty of laughs, it also helps staff get to know each other and improve their team collaboration skills  – a win-win! 

Final Words

Team building for remote staff isn’t just about improving teamwork but also about helping staff get to know each other better. With better workplace relationships, you’ll see improvements in collaboration, problem-solving, and engagement.

Hopefully, these activities have given you the inspiration to start planning your own, bringing your team together no matter where they work.

This blog was contributed to Workplace Fairness on January 4, 2023. Published with permission.

About the Author: Gemma Williams is a contributor to Workplace Fairness.


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All Workplaces Need an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

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Every savvy employer knows that your workers are the heart and soul of your business. Without them, your company simply couldn’t survive. Unfortunately, though, employees have not always been afforded the respect and care they deserve. 

For too long, workers have been expected — and even required –to leave their concerns at the office door. But that is neither feasible nor desirable. If employers want the best from their employees, then they must be willing to give their staff the best in return. 

This is just one of the many reasons why implementing a robust employee assistance program (EAP) is so critical to building strong compassionate business leadership today. 

What Is an EAP?

Employee assistance programs (EAP) can take many forms, depending on the needs of your workforce and your company’s capacity to help meet them. EAPs are designed to offer diverse forms of support for employees facing particular life challenges — from illness to caregiving to preparing for retirement.  

In general, however, EAPs encompass a range of services — from financial planning assistance to legal and medical advocacy.

EAPs for Retirement Planning

No matter what the average age of your workforce or how young they may be in their careers, retirement is a concern for every worker. For those who are nearing retirement age, however, financial anxiety can take a devastating toll. 

Because of this, integrating assistance with retirement financial planning may well be one of the greatest benefits you can offer employees in your EAP.  The peace of mind of knowing that one can live securely and well in retirement can free employees of a tremendous burden, and in turn, promote their overall well-being, loyalty, and performance.

Medical Advocacy

There are few circumstances in life more frightening than when you or someone you love is facing a medical crisis. This is why ensuring that your employees have access to a patient navigator or medical advocate can be a tremendous asset for your EAP package. 

Patient navigators, for instance, can help your employees connect with care providers, manage health and life insurance policies, and in general, ensure that your employee and their loved ones receive the highest quality of care and the best possible patient experience.

The ability to access expert support such as that provided by a patient navigator or medical advocate may well mean a life or death difference for your worker or someone they love.

The Takeaway

Employee assistance programs (EAP) aren’t just an optional perk of doing business. They’re more than an ideal benefit to add to your workers’ compensation in the future. Today’s employees, after all, are facing challenges that could not have been imagined a few short years ago. From the trauma of the global pandemic to the current financial anxieties borne of a global economy on the verge of a recession, your staff has endured a lot, and they need support today.

An EAP is designed to provide that support, helping employees access the legal, medical, and financial resources they need to overcome whatever challenges they may face.  


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How to Ease Return-to-Office Anxiety

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Dan Matthews

Businesses have been returning to their offices post-pandemic for some time now, albeit to a ‘new normal.’ With such significant ongoing change and unprecedented concerns, returning to the office is understandably evoking some anxieties for both staff and employers. 

As an employer, it can be challenging to navigate these transitions while keeping staff anxieties down and productivity high. Here are some strategies to help manage employee anxiety when returning to office life.

Take the time to understand their anxieties

We can’t fix what we don’t acknowledge. So, before you attempt to support returning employees’ anxieties, it’s important to first understand what exactly they are feeling anxious about.

There can be a number of reasons why an employee may feel anxious about returning to the office environment; it could be a social anxiety after so long working from home, concerns about adapting back to the faster pace of office life, fear of feeling unsafe – the list goes on.

It can also sometimes be difficult for the employee themselves to pinpoint what they are feeling concerned about, so it’s essential to take the time to talk it through with them in an understanding way. In some instances, it can be helpful to create an anonymous form of reporting their worries, allowing them to feel more comfortable to share what they are feeling, and giving you a deeper insight as to what needs to be addressed. 

Provide tools and strategies to manage anxiety

It’s important to take a proactive approach to supporting your employees through this transition (as opposed to simply talking it out). 

Invest some time and resources into educating your staff on subjects such as stress and panic attacks, and provide them with a variety of coping strategy information. Encourage a judgment-free environment in which employees can feel comfortable practicing breathing exercises or other relaxation techniques at their desk, or request for some time-out to get some fresh air. 

This is also a great time to implement some general, ongoing wellness-related resources, such as wellbeing check-in apps and perks such as discounts on local yoga classes. It is important to also implement security technology that not only secures your employees in a physical and cyber space but also conveniently.

A type of technology that can help reduce anxiety about forgetting employee badges to gain access to buildings are keyless commercial access control systems, which leverage mobile phones as credentials instead of physical cards and fobs.

Stay open and flexible

When the pandemic hit, businesses (and everyone) had to adapt to being far more mentally flexible – virtually everything about our daily lives had to be recalibrated to fit into the chaos as best as possible.

This level of ongoing disruption brought about some changes that have not disappeared alongside the gradual quieting of Covid. Remote working might have been hard for some to adapt to, but once it became the norm, many workers have experienced the advantages and don’t want to return to the former working model.

According to a 2021 survey by FlexJobs, 98% of those who became remote workers during the pandemic either want to remain so (65%), or at least wish for ongoing flexible, hybrid work options (33%) post-Covid. Even more telling, is that 60% of respondents reported that they would seek new employment if their current position refused to allow ongoing remote working options. 

Unless your business will experience significant negative impacts from facilitating ongoing flexible work options, it’s in your best interests to remain flexible with your staff and be willing to reimagine how this new normal could look. 

Prioritize clear and meaningful communication

Staff resistant to returning to ‘normal’ office life may feel agitated and even confused as to why it’s necessary to do so. Left unaddressed, these feelings of confusion can lead to resentment, inevitably impacting working relations and productivity.

If returning to the physical office, either full or part-time, is unavoidable, then make sure you communicate clearly and openly with your staff. Make sure they understand the reasons behind your decision and why it’s so important to the running of the business.

Be willing to answer any questions or concerns, and also be open to hearing their opinion and ideas regarding how best to move forward; if you don’t agree, that’s fine, but at least you have heard them out and demonstrated your willingness to consider their point of view.

Outline all Covid-related protocols clearly 

As we know, the Covid-19 vaccination doesn’t fully protect us from contracting the virus, or passing it on to others. Some workers may be understandably concerned about the elevated risks of returning to the office, especially if they live with or care for vulnerable people. 

Make sure you adhere to all necessary Covid-19 protocols and keep your staff fully informed of all policies and requirements. Giving your staff the reassurance that all appropriate measures are being taken can help them to feel more comfortable about the return to office – some may be more concerned than others, and you will have to take this on a case-by-case basis, ensuring that you provide adequate consideration and understanding to their position. 

Meet your employees where they are at

Ultimately, your employees are all individuals with their own unique feelings, needs and concerns, and treating them as such will help to address any return-to-office anxieties. Investing in your employees should always be a priority, but all the more when there are so many changes afoot.

In many cases, people just need a little reassurance and a sense that their concerns are validated, so meet them where they are at and do what you can to meet their needs.

This blog was contributed to Workplace Fairness by Dan Matthews.


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How Does a Company Qualify as a Great Place to Work?

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To ensure a company will succeed, it needs employees. That might seem obvious, but hiring and retaining the right ones can be tough. Hiring people is strenuous in and of itself, but keeping those people motivated to continue pursuing their career through your company can be even more challenging.

Some companies are considered a Great Place To Work and have a very
high retention rate when it comes to their employees. We hope this article helps you better understand how your business can reach this goal.

Culture and Values

All companies should have a list of values that they want their employees to live by, within their working hours. These values help create an atmosphere where employees feel like a team across all departments, in many different ways. Although a company may clearly state their values, they can be prioritized differently depending on the company and the administration team running the business. Employees coming in will learn and follow the example set by those
above them. This will have an effect on the way your employees work and if they choose to stay.

If the company and its reputable employees don’t abide by the values the company claims to work by, they might stray in a different direction. Sometimes this can get out of hand. An example of a value one company might list is integrity; the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.

If an employee works for a company long enough, they will realize
quickly if that company actually portrays this value. Not only could this cause new hires to start cutting corners and become more outspoken in the wrong ways, but it could lead to a higher employee turnover rate.

Try to have an employee-first mindset when creating these values.

Benefits and Recognition

There are many ways for a company to grab the attention of someone in search of a job. Some might look for a specific salary, but not all can negotiate compensation. Others are simply looking for a company that will recognize their employees and show their appreciation for all the work they provide. Whatever category your company chooses to focus on, make sure the website or job listing points that out. When applying to jobs, this might be the first place people will look.

Sometimes compensation is harder to increase as this depends on how well the company is profiting. Providing the right benefits, allowing opportunities for employees to receive appreciation, and giving recognition when it’s due can balance out the happiness your employees feel when it comes to how the company treats them.

As far as benefits go, most companies will likely include your typical insurance coverage for medical, dental, and vision.

Along with these basic benefits, it is important to provide your employees with information regarding the open enrollment period. This is the time where employees can sign up for specific benefits and only occurs once a year. Letting them know about this period of time will allow your employees to make changes to their benefits in a timely manner, that won’t raise red flags for your insurance company.

The benefits that catch the eye of people in search of a job are the ones that aren’t so typical such as paid time off (PTO) and family medical leave. Some
companies also give out holiday bonuses as a thank you for the year’s work.

There are many different ways to give back to your employees, these are just a few options.

Networking and Events

Corporate team-building events are a great way to allow employees to connect on a more personal level. Sometimes those events look like networking. Networking is a chance for employees from one company to connect with others from similar companies. This could be great for many reasons. It could open up doors for companies to work together for a bigger purpose or combine their services to reach more potential customers.

Networking can also bring in new employees by providing classes for others to learn what it is your company specializes in. Consider networking as an event that goes outside of your business.

Other events within your company could be things such as holiday parties, in-office events, or happy hours that occur outside of the work day.

These events are a great way to help your employees feel truly connected. Throwing holiday parties is a fun way to give everyone a chance to unwind, while getting to know each other and can help boost morale. Happy hour would allow employees the same chance to relax while still conversing about work. Who knows… maybe a new idea could arise through these conversations.

In-office events could be for a birthday or achievement within the company. This just shows your employees how much you appreciate them and the work they provide.

Remember, we’re all human and we are all working towards a common goal.

Retaining employees could seem like a challenge at first, but organizing your thoughts and achievements can make your company a great place to work.


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Pizza Does Not Motivate Employees More Than Cash

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Laura Clawson

Pizza motivates workers more than cash, according to a headline that’s been making the rounds — in disbelief, not agreement — on social media. So what’s going on with this? Who would say that? Because … what?

As it turns out, it’s not an idea pulled directly out of the ass of some corporate consultant. Even though that’s what it sounds like. Although an image of a headline is circulating now, the coverage dates to 2016, when psychologist and behavioral economist Dan Ariely released the results of a study testing three ways of motivating workers against a control group that was not offered an incentive. Pizza, a complimentary text from the boss, and about $30 cash were the three incentives. Pizza came in just behind the “Well done!” text from the boss, with cash doing the worst. Or so Ariely said.

Before we get into what this study would and would not mean if it was carried out absolutely perfectly, there’s this: In 2021, Ariely had to retract a different study — one on honesty — because of fake data. So that’s one grain of salt to add to your reading of his pizza study. But even if the pizza study was conducted with the utmost care and diligence and produced completely accurate data, there’s still absolutely no reason to believe it’s universally true. 

So any bosses out there who are thinking, “Great, I’m going to toss my workers the occasional pizza rather than a raise,” should slow their roll, for a number of reasons.

First off, it’s one study of one group of workers. Specifically, workers in a semiconductor plant in Israel. (That’s why it’s not exactly $30 in cash.) That setting offered the advantage of being able to measure productivity in the form of how many chips the workers made. But it’s not necessarily generalizable, as the coverage implies.

We don’t know how much those workers were paid regularly. This is a significant question when you’re considering how much motivation $30 would provide. There are people for whom $30 is more than four hours of work, and there are people for whom it’s the tip they casually give their hairdresser or waiter. A small cash bonus for someone who doesn’t worry about money lands really differently than the same amount of cash for someone worried about making rent.

The fact that this study’s incentives were one-time also matters. If you get a “Well done!” text from your boss every week, it might just start seeming a little insincere and pro forma. If you get a pizza party every week, you might start thinking it would be nice to just get to go home early instead.

Whereas if you got a $30-a-week raise, well, it wouldn’t be a very big raise — you deserve more! — but you’d be talking about $1,560 a year. In many parts of the United States, that’s a month’s rent.

If we want to put it in pizza terms, with $30 a week extra, you could get a large pizza as a meal for your family and still have some money left over, rather than eating a couple of slices at work. For a lot of families in this country, a weekly pizza night registers as a real extra in life.

But $30 a week could also mean back-to-school clothes for your kids. It could mean not falling behind on the electric bill. These things matter to people.

Indeed, according to a 2022 Gallup poll of more than 13,000 U.S. workers, the most important thing in considering a new job would be “a significant increase in income or benefits.” Nearly two out of three workers said that was “very important” to them. “Greater work-life balance and better personal wellbeing” came in second, with 61% identifying it as very important. It’s safe to say they didn’t mean pizza parties by that.

What’s appealing about Ariely’s study, to managers, is that it looked at one-time incentives, not at the effects of treating workers well and paying them a living wage week in and week out.

As articles like “51 Employee Appreciation Day Ideas That Won’t Break The Bank” show, management is always looking for ways to convey “appreciation” without spending money, let alone giving raises. Whereas workers are pretty clear that being paid enough to live on is important — and bosses, who are themselves paid well enough for $30 to seem irrelevant, generally don’t want to hear it. 

This is not a hypothetical.

Recently, as workers at a Minneapolis Trader Joe’s moved to unionize, a worker put a sign in the break room saying, “We need a living wage, not a pizza party,” Josh Eidelson reports. How did management respond? By starting an investigation and grilling workers about the sign.

When that’s the attitude you take to workers saying they need a living wage, you kind of show the real motivation behind the pizza party.

This blog originally appeared at Daily Kos on October 20, 2022. Republished with permission.

About the Author: Laura Clawson has been a contributing editor since December 2006. She has been full-time staff since 2011, and she is currently the assistant managing editor.


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Are You Entitled to Time Off Work for Rehab?

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Did you know that only around 10% of people who need it get help from an appropriate rehabilitation facility? There are a number of reasons for this, including budget constraints, family responsibilities, and location, making entering a good rehab a difficult task. However, one of the biggest challenges those struggling with addiction face is taking leave from their workplace.

Taking time off for rehab is scary in itself, but when you don’t know the laws around it, it’s even worse. Whether you’re an employer, lawyer, or member of staff, it’s vital that you know the rights of employees who need to go to rehab. Let’s take a look. 

Can I Get Fired For Going to Rehab?

Most workplaces respond positively to time off for mental health and addiction. As the stigma around these topics decreases and employers risk facing criticism if they don’t modernize their policies, it’s highly unlikely you’d be fired for taking time off to attend rehab.

Even if you do have an employer who doesn’t respect putting your wellbeing first, the U.S. has laws in place to prevent this from happening. In short, it would be quite hard for an employer to fire you for going to rehab, whether they want to or not.

The Family and Medical Leave Act

In the U.S., the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was brought in in 1993 to ensure employees can take time off for medical or family-related reasons. This leave is unpaid, but the law prevents you from being fired. This act covers those who require treatment at mental health and addiction rehabilitation centers. It also protects anyone who takes care of that individual during their recovery, such as a parent or spouse.

The FMLA allows for twelve weeks of unpaid leave per year for those suffering from substance abuse and mental illness. When you return, your employer must welcome you back under the same terms and conditions as when you left (e.g., the same pay and the same allocated holiday days).

Be aware, though, that you must be receiving treatment during this time. If you stop attending rehab or are struggling with substance abuse without seeking treatment, you won’t be covered by the act and can lose your job.

Are You Protected by FMLA?

Before leaving work to attend rehab, we advise speaking with your employer about whether you’re covered by FMLA. Some companies have substance abuse policies that render the FMLA ineffective, meaning that you won’t be covered. Check with HR or your direct manager to understand the company’s stance.

Other than speaking with your employer, you can take a look at the following criteria to work out if you’re covered:

  • Your employers must be covered
  • The company employs 50+ workers within a 75-mile radius
  • You must have worked at the company for at least one year in total (the months don’t have to be consecutive)
  • You must have worked for at least 1,250 hours over that year

But, even if you think you’re covered, it’s always best to check in with your company just in case.

Is Your Employer Covered by the FMLA?

Employers that are covered by FMLA include:

  • Government agencies
  • Public or private schools
  • Private companies with 50+ employees

If your employer is covered by FMLA, they must make all staff aware. This is usually done through paperwork for new hires or is detailed in the employee handbook.

The FMLA Process For Requesting Leave

When requesting leave for rehab, it’s vital that you follow the FMLA process to ensure you’re protected by the law. Each employer will have its only policies you must adhere to, but in general, the process has three steps.

The first is to collect all information required by your workplace to process your leave request. This can include:

  • How long you’ll be in treatment
  • Confirmation you’ll be able to resume work after treatment
  • A copy of your essential duties at work

You’ll then file for an FMLA leave request, which should give your employer 30+ days’ notice. You don’t need to mention FMLA if this is your first leave request. Within five days of the request, your employer must confirm or deny your request.

It’s also important to note that you’re not required to hand over any medical records if your employer doesn’t specifically request them. All communication between your health care provider and employer must be in-line with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations regarding privacy.

Other Acts That Protect Employees Attending Rehab

There is another act that you can look into if your employer isn’t covered by FMLA. This is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If your addiction meets the requirements, you’ll be protected against discrimination in the workplace, including being fired. They must also make it easier for you to receive treatment, such as by being flexible with working hours to allow you to attend sessions.

Speaking to Your Employer About Time Off

If you’re worried about bringing up your need for treatment with your employer, remember that you’re far less likely to be treated negatively for seeking treatment rather than for substance abuse. Most employers will be sympathetic and admire your bravery.

If your nerves are holding you back, get in touch with an addiction center you feel comfortable with and ask them for help. They can give you tips and empower you to speak out, giving you the confidence you need to secure your treatment.

Final Words

Requesting leave for addiction treatment is never an easy task, but knowing your rights can make it a lot simpler. Do your research before putting in your request and prepare what you’d like to say to help your meeting go as smoothly as possible. Remember, if you’re covered by FMLA, you can’t be fired.

This blog was contributed directly to Workplace Fairness by contributor Gemma Williams — formerly Gemma Hart.


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