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5 ways to help your employees improve their financial wellbeing

Every company has employee wellness on the mind. As a result, employers are increasingly investing resources into making sure their workers are physically, mentally, and emotionally taken care of so they can produce their best work. But there’s another type of wellness that has historically been overlooked but is becoming a bigger part of the conversation: financial wellbeing.

In this post, we’ll explore why financial wellness is such a critical component of overall wellbeing. We’ll also share five actionable steps you can take to improve financial wellbeing for your own employees. 

What is financial wellbeing, and why is it important? 

The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) surveyed the general public to gauge their thoughts on financial wellness. The results informed a collective definition of financial wellbeing, which we shared below:

“Financial wellbeing is when a person is able to meet expenses and has some money left over, is in control of their finances and feels financially secure, now and in the future.”

Why is this idea of financial wellness so important? To understand the impact, we need to take a look at how a lack of financial wellbeing affects individuals. This report from AMP paints a picture of how an unstable financial situation can negatively impact employees: 

  • There are currently 2.44 million Australians suffering from financial stress
  • In the workplace, this results in two in five Australian workers experiencing financial stress during their careers – with nearly half feeling financially stressed for an average of six and a half years or more
  • Employees troubled by their financial circumstances take an extra 2.4 sick days per year and spend almost an hour per week dealing with money problems at work
  • This financial stress costs Australian businesses an estimated $31.1 billion per year in lost revenue

Looking at these statistics, it’s clear that financial wellbeing (or a lack of) can have a significant effect on productivity, absenteeism, revenue, and more. 

5 Ways to improve financial wellbeing 

The good news is that there are ways for organisations to improve the financial wellbeing of their employees. Below, we outlined five recommendations to help your employees feel more in control of their financial situations. 

1. Know your workforce

Taking a one-size-fits-all approach to financial wellness isn’t effective. To truly make a difference in the life of your employees, you have to know your workforce and understand their needs. Employee satisfaction surveys are a great way to uncover this information. For instance, let’s say that your survey reveals that the majority of your workforce can comfortably afford basic expenses with their existing salary. But what they struggle with is saving enough money for future milestones like buying a house or starting a family. 

In this situation, you may not want to invest all your resources into giving people more raises.  Instead, you want to focus on getting your employees the tools and training they need to learn how to manage their money better. This example demonstrates why it’s critical to know your workforce instead of making assumptions. 

2. Provide financial education  

Education is the most powerful tool when it comes to finances. Unfortunately, most of us have never received a formal education around important life skills like money management and saving for retirement. That’s why many people feel lost and overwhelmed when it comes to these topics.

HR leaders have an opportunity to step in and help fill in these gaps in knowledge. You can connect employees to resources – such as online courses or training led by professionals – that cover key financial topics. Similarly, you can also cover the cost of financial counseling for your employees and their partners. These various forms of education are a great way for workers to ask questions, make a long-term plan, and receive support around their financial goals.

3. Encourage positive financial habits 

Habits don’t develop overnight. They require daily, consistent practice to eventually take hold and make an impact on someone’s life. Given that we spend most of our waking hours at work, it only makes sense that many of our financial habits be developed in the workplace. 

But how exactly do you encourage your employees to develop positive financial habits? The best way is to show them by example. One way to do this is by making additional superannuation contributions to their accounts. By doing so, you’re demonstrating that you want to invest in their financial futures, and watching their accounts grow over time can motivate employees to make their own contributions. Make sure your workers also know that they can make personal super contributions during a financial year. This is a great way to reinforce good saving habits. 

4. Destigmitise conversations about finances

Historically, money was a taboo topic – especially in the workplace. Unfortunately, this stigma creates barriers when it comes to employees taking control of their financial health. If they don’t feel comfortable going to their HR team to ask questions about their salaries or financial benefits, then who can they turn to? Companies should strive to overcome these stigmas and encourage a culture where it’s ok to discuss financial topics. 

As HR leaders, there are a number of things you can do to make this a more widely accepted topic: host conversations about the most frequently asked financial questions by your employees; Train managers on how to have transparent conversations about things like salaries and raises; Host open office hours where people can come ask questions. The more you can normalise the conversation about finances, the more empowered your employees will feel to learn more about the subject. 

5. Create equal opportunities for success   

Finally, it’s important to create equal opportunities for success within your organisation. What exactly do we mean by this? This means being able to take a step back and gauge whether everyone at your company has the same ability to get promoted, receive a raise, and take advantage of the benefits that are offered to them. 

For instance, if you were to run an analysis on salaries across the board, would you find any discrepancies with regard to gender or race? If so, this is problematic because you’re lowering the chances of a specific group receiving a pay raise – something that could make a huge difference to their financial health. Another example: are you communicating your financial benefits in a way that’s accessible to all employees? If you have workers in manufacturing or are outside the corporate office, chances are that email and Slack won’t be their primary form of communication. So if you’re only talking about benefits in those channels, you risk having an entire segment of your workforce be unaware of the financial help you offer.

Your employee’s financial wellbeing can have a huge impact on other aspects of their health, as well as their performance at work. By investing in their financial futures, you’re not only helping reduce a significant burden in their lives, but you’re also helping the success of your business.

If you have any employees who are in need of support, be sure to check out Wellness@Work, a free hub designed to support HR and Australian workers by giving them access to free content.

If you’re looking for an additional HR software to support your business, Flare offers a free onboarding software with employee management and benefits. To learn more, please request a demo.

The minimum wage has been increased by 1.75% – here’s what you need to know

In the Annual Wage Review on Friday June 19, the Fair Work Commission made a decision to increase the minimum wage by $13 per week for all awards. While this decision was lower than the recommendations from the union, who wanted a 4% increase, this change will impact millions of Australians on minimum wage.

The Fair Work Commission has increased the minimum wage in a bid to ensure that households on minimum wage don’t fall into poverty and significant disadvantage as a result of the economic downturn.

How much was the minimum wage increased by?

The increase of 1.75% will increase the minimum wage to $753.80 per week, or an hourly rate of $19.84.

Related article: 5 Ways to help your employees improve their financial wellbeing

How does this impact employers?

All employees working in Australia are entitled to a minimum wage. Employers who have employees on minimum wage will need to ensure that they follow the new minimum wages set by the Fair Work Commission.

The increases to award wages will start on 3 different dates for different awards. The first wave will come into effect on July 1 for workers on the front line of the pandemic — such as healthcare, education, childcare and other essential services.

The second round of increases will begin at the start of November, and the final stage in February next year, when workers in tourism, hospitality and retail will have their minimum wage increased.

For anyone not covered by an award or an enterprise agreement, the new national minimum wage will be $753.80 per week or $19.84 per hour. This applies from the first full pay period on or after 1 July 2020

How can you ensure you’re compliant with the minimum wage?

Check the updates on the Fair Work Commission website to see how this will affect your business and industry.

15 best questions to ask in an employee satisfaction survey

Every company wants their employees to be happy at their jobs. But the challenge is that many employers aren’t even aware that their workers are unhappy until it’s too late. This is how most organisations end up losing their top talent to competitors. To prevent this from happening, you may want to consider introducing an employee satisfaction survey to better keep a finger on the pulse.

If you’re not sure how to get started, don’t worry! We’re here to help. We’ll explain exactly what an employee satisfaction survey is, how to set one up, and share recommended questions in this post. 

What is an employee satisfaction survey, and why is it important? 

An employee satisfaction survey is an objective tool that’s used to measure how your workers feel about their jobs, their work environment, and the overall company culture. It’s an effective way to collect feedback from your workforce – regardless of size – and use that data to make more informed decisions about things like performance, retention, and innovation

You may be asking: why do I need a survey to do this? Why can’t I just talk to my employees to figure out whether they’re satisfied with their jobs or not? This is a fair question. There are a few reasons why this isn’t the most effective way to measure employee satisfaction. 

Related article: 10 Ideas to help you boost your employee engagement

  1. You’re susceptible to bias. All humans have bias. So if you’re looking to collect objective data, conversations aren’t the best way to do so. For instance, as the HR leader, you want everyone at the company to be happy. Which means you’re more likely to highlight the positive feedback you receive and deprioritise the negative or constructive feedback. This doesn’t give you an accurate sense for employee satisfaction.
  1. You’re not seeing the big picture. Let’s say you talk to one or two employees who absolutely love working at your company. You may walk away thinking that your employee satisfaction levels are fine. But what about the other 100 employees that you didn’t talk to? The truth is that one-on-one conversations, while valuable, aren’t scalable and don’t paint the bigger picture of what’s going on.
  1. Your employees might not be honest with you. Finally, there’s a good chance that if you ask an employee how they feel about their work and the company, they’re not going to be completely honest with you. This is completely natural. People may not feel comfortable sharing their true thoughts or may think they’ll be punished for saying something negative about leadership. Either way, you can’t expect your workers to give you full transparency.

How to conduct an employee satisfaction survey

While you certainly have the ability to conduct your own employee satisfaction survey, we recommend investing in a software platform to help you instead. The reason is because running and analysing your own surveys takes up a ton of time.

Not only do you have to come up with the right questions, build your survey, and manually calculate your results, but you also have to be able to translate all this information into a comprehensive report or dashboard to share back with your leadership team and employees. 

On the other hand, if you use a comprehensive performance management tool like Culture Amp and Lattice, it’ll be much less resource intensive. Both of these platforms will easily be able to help you launch your survey, come up with the right questions for your workforce, collect the feedback, and find ways to take action on the data that comes in.

There are a few best practices to keep in mind when conducting an employee satisfaction survey, regardless of whether you do it yourself or turn to a platform:

  • Be consistent. This means that if this is meant to be a twice-a-year survey, you have to consistently distribute it twice a year. Otherwise you risk skewing the accuracy of your data and won’t be able to measure progress. 
  • Make it anonymous. As we mentioned above, employees likely won’t be honest in the survey if their identities are attached to their responses. So make sure your survey is anonymised to protect your employees and encourage transparency. 

15 Questions to include in your survey

Below we outlined 15 key questions to include in your survey, which are categorised into three buckets: company culture, work fulfillment, and management/leadership. These are the pillars that have a huge influence on an employee’s satisfaction levels. Keep in mind that these questions are by no means comprehensive, so feel free to add on any others that are relevant to your business. 

Company Culture

These questions gauge how your employee feels about the company culture and work environment. This is all about measuring overall sentiment around how the company treats its employees, and whether or not someone feels compelled to look for a new job. 

1. Do you feel positively about our company culture? 

2. On a scale of 1-5, how likely are you to recommend our company as a great place to work?

3. Are you proud to work at our company?

4. Can you see yourself working here two years from now? 

Work fulfillment

These questions are focused specifically on how an employee feels in their role. This digs into everything from how fulfilled they feel by their work to how compatible they are with their fellow teammates. 

5. Do you feel proud of the work you’re doing? 

6. Are you aligned with the company’s mission and vision?

7. Do you feel like the company is invested in your personal and professional growth?

8. Are your roles and responsibilities clearly defined? 

9. Is your team supportive of one another?

Management/Leadership

These questions are about how employees perceive the leadership and management teams. It’s about identifying whether or not they feel their executives are honest, reliable, and have their best interests in mind. 

10. On a scale of 1-5, how transparent do you think the leadership team is? 

11. Do you feel informed about what’s happening at the company?

12. Does your manager make you feel supported and valued?

13. Do you feel comfortable approaching your manager with work-related problems?

14. Is the leadership team’s expectations of your performance clear? 

15. Are you connected to the resources you need to succeed in your role? 

Related article: 5 Ways to help your employees improve their financial wellbeing

Next steps

Even after you collect the data from your employee satisfaction survey, the work isn’t quite over yet! There are a few next steps to take into consideration: 

  • Use the data as a benchmark. If this is your first time running an employee satisfaction survey, your results will serve as the benchmark for next year. In other words, the next time you run this survey, the goal is to compare it to these first round of results and (hopefully) be able to note progress. 
  • Boost participation rates. With every survey, your goal is to have as many employees participate as possible. If you found that your participation rates were low this year, don’t worry. There are many tactics you can use – from sending out eye-catching reminder emails or Slack messages to incentivising employees with a prize – to increase participation rates. 
  • Identify a few actionable insights. The most important thing you can do with your survey results is to take action. For instance, if a common theme in your data was that employees didn’t feel like the leadership team was transparent enough, it may be time to introduce one to two new initiatives to address that issue. This can be having “Ask Me Anything” sessions once a week or having your company leaders set up more one-on-one meetings with employees throughout the year. Don’t try to address all the issues at once – otherwise you’ll feel overwhelmed. Instead, take one or two of the most pressing issues and focus on them over the next few months. 

Employee satisfaction surveys are a powerful tool that can help you retain top talent, improve performance, and increase innovation at your company. Follow these steps to get your survey started on the right foot.
If you’re looking for an additional HR software to support your business, Flare offers a free onboarding software with employee management and benefits. To learn more, please request a demo.

How to build an effective human resource planning checklist

The 4 comprehensive steps of human resource planning

Human resource planning comprises four comprehensive steps

When creating a human resources plan, these are the main considerations for any HR professional. Start with broader goals, narrow them down to strategies, evaluate your business, and build a workforce that will grow alongside your business. 

Before getting results, businesses need not only a clear picture of their company but a good understanding of several other factors before they can put their plan into action. Think about this in actionable terms. If your company currently has fifty employees but you expect to double in size over the next five years, how will you maintain your culture? How will you encourage an atmosphere of learning and growth? Can your staff keep up with the technological changes and your company objectives of the future?

Step 1: Analyse company objectives and HR needs

What gives one company a record of success with human resources while others do not have a strong reputation? Much of this is due to a strategic planning effort on the part of the organisation.

Strategic aims within an organisation must be aligned to human resources practices in order to ensure that a human resources plan is as effective as it can possibly be. For example, FedEx is a corporation with a track record of success in their industry and among customers. They obtained this reputation with a clear focus on strategic aims. They even follow the philosophy “People-Service-Profit” for every employee, customer, and stakeholder. Employees are trained to follow this philosophy and their feedback is collecting annually for consideration.

Moving forward with analysing your company objectives next to HR needs involves asking yourself some questions. It also should include C-suite executives, managers, and HR team members. Questions to ask include what growth or decline is expected? How might this impact the workforce? What are predicted sales for the forthcoming year?

Goals need to be shared; CEOs should be on the same page as HR professionals so that the focus on human resources is fully embraced by all of the people involved in the planning.

Some ways to invest all people in the creation of the strategic plan include: 

  • Incentivising staff members to give honest opinions
  • Allowing an open forum between staff members at different organisational levels
  • Reverting back to the mission statement or vision in all organisational goals
  • Focusing on the expected growth of the business 

The human resources plan should cover every part of a businesses from sales to expansion, from recruitment to training. An excellent way to ensure that everyone is on the same page is to implement a strategic plan for human resources to utilise.

This plan should include factors such as upcoming retirements, staff who will be undertaking further training which will advance their skills and any other factors which will affect the future of your workforce. 

ACTION – Create a strategic plan for HR and ensure it aligns with company objectives. Consider using cloud-based HR solutions to centralise and save valuable time.

Step 2 infographic

Step 2: Determine recruiting strategy and evaluate current human resources

Recruitment strategy is a powerful tool when well implemented. Consider Starbucks; this is a company ranked at 120 on 2022’s Fortune 500 and with projected growth of global and U.S. comparable store sales between 7% and 9% year over year until 2025. How does a company this massive, even begin to successfully manage their human resource plans?

A vital aspect for Starbucks is their recruitment strategy which targets potential employees who are ‘on-brand’ and who pass a carefully structured interview process. Starbucks also puts a lot of energy into employees’ well-being and as a result, the company has an extremely low turnover in staff. Their somewhat unusual practices are working extraordinarily well and have been for many years.

Starbucks is a large company with operating goals that are a struggle to implement. Yet, they focus on their goals and design targeted programs which eventually lead to the desired result. By treating people as their biggest resource, Starbucks has lowered their employee turnover while building a booming brand.

You can begin by looking at the number of people currently employed, taking into account their skills and potential for future development, you should be able to determine which positions will need to be filled in future. Creating a profile for your ‘ideal employee’ which covers the gamut of openings within your business will also ensure your staff turnover is lowered.

Digitising employee onboarding can be a powerful way to not only cut the costs of recruitment, retention and management, but can also help your employees to feel more empowered and engaged.

Also consider which jobs will be created or phased out, how can the new positions best be filled? A performance evaluation strategy can help here as you review your employees’ performances. Cost-effectiveness of external hiring depends on the position you are filling, your current workforce, and required training costs for your team. 

Once your plan is in place you can implement the best options for recruiting the best people for future gaps in the workforce. Hiring before the skills are highly sought out can get you ahead of the competition with employee selection. Always look internally at the potential growth of your current employees.

ACTION – Create a performance evaluation strategy and implement it across the organisation.

Step 3: Predict need

This is the practice of estimation. Looking at the potential numbers of future employees in an organisation and ensuring that they are of the best quality. The well documented worker shortage continues, and employers need to consider their recruitment strategy carefully. 

It’s not an exact art. There is some estimation involved and because of this, it’s quite challenging. Gathering the data needed to predict the future of your workforce is tricky in itself and involves both statistical data and ordinary observation. Utilise data you already have access to including predicted sales and slumps. A few established ways to predict need would be to: 

  • Check out industry trends
  • Track the economic forecast for your product and country
  • Assess company sales and historical growth numbers
  • Know the common trends that occur within your individual sales cycle

ACTION – Gather statistical data to predict the future staffing needs of the business

Step 4: Planning training and development

The previous steps will show you where, if at all, there are gaps. Will there be skills shortages within your workforce? Do you need to implement training for certain individuals now to ensure that you have the right workforce in place at the right time? Upcoming retirements for example can necessitate further training for individuals on lower rungs. This also serves as an opportunity to develop some of your more stellar, but lower-level staff members. 

Some changes can’t be predicted; long-term illness for example and employees changing careers or the shifting needs of their families can all impact your team but there’s no effective way to predict these changes. You can however forecast some variables and these should be carried out with care. 

Ensure that you keep records of the skills your workforce currently have and update them as the staff receive further training and development. It is also worth preparing for future skills needed in your sector. An aspect of Human Resource planning would be to invest in the proper training of staff, enabling your team to feel confident in spearheading programs, and building a business able to handle the future. Knowing the current gaps in your workforce can propel you toward a fully-prepared future.

ACTION – Carry out strategic forecasting to ensure that the company is well prepared for future changes.

Step 5: Build out your EVP

As the employment landscape becomes more competitive, and the fight to attract and retain workers is subject to a range of post-pandemic economic pressures, companies need to consider what matters most to their potential hires. Companies with a strong employee value proposition (EVP) seek to identify and align with their employees’ needs and values across workplace benefits including flexible working, career development opportunities, competitive salaries, and expanded benefits packages.

 

Using an EVP in job postings 

At a time when digital portals are clogged with posts and offers, strategically including your EVP in your job ads can help you stand out from the competition. Begin with language that talks about your company’s unique culture, values, and benefits. This can help job seekers understand what makes the company different and why they should want to work there. 

Mastering job ads

Structure, placement and guidelines that work Job boards don’t just randomly post ads on their platform — they consider many different factors when deciding where (and how far up the page) to place them. And, although there may be some differences from site to site, the following elements constitute best practice. 

Syndicated content 

Digital content syndication is a powerful way to get brand cut-through with your EVP. It involves distributing or republishing your own content like articles, blog posts, videos or infographics through third-party websites, social media platforms and other channels. Digital content syndication can expand your reach and attract new audiences, all while showcasing your unique value proposition and building brand awareness. Content syndication can also position your brand as a thought leader in your industry — something that can be leveraged for both sales and talent acquisition. 

Novated leasing as a pay boost 

Emerging businesses don’t necessarily have the budget to spend on meal services and other costly benefits that have traditionally acted as drawcards for employees at larger companies. But novated leases, FBT-exempt mobile phones, employee discounts at local stores and other in-kind benefits can increase pay packages for your employees and potentially save you money on payroll tax. These benefits are meaningful ways to reduce the out-of-pocket expenses of your employees, especially during times of inflation and financial stress. Novated leasing in particular allows employees to lease a car for private use, with payments deducted from their pre-tax salary. This helps employees save money on their private vehicle expenses while supporting their work-life balance. What’s more, employers can benefit from novated leasing by claiming GST on most associated running costs. 

ACTION – Build out your EVP with our free cheat codes.

Nadine Blackie from Flare on how to build high-performance teams and great company cultures

To kick off the HR and leadership series, we will be interviewing Nadine Blackie.

Nadine is the Head of Talent Acquisition at Flare HR. She has over 10 years of experience in talent acquisition for high growth startups in the tech sector. She has built high-performance teams for venture-backed startups that have experienced rapid transformation and growth. She’s worked at well-known companies in the startups space including Flare, Ansarada, Relic Entertainment and Hootsuite across Sydney, Australia and Vancouver, Canada.

Nadine’s passion for people and high growth companies led her to working at Flare where she’s built a world class, mission-driven team and a balanced culture that is working towards Flare’s mission: to help every working Australian live their best financial life.

Here are the highlights from our interview with Nadine on talent acquisition and human resources.

What do you enjoy about working in Talent and HR?

In the world of Talent and People, you have the ability to positively impact others and brighten someone’s day. Whether it be putting a smile on someone’s face by calling out their win, or removing a roadblock for someone to be more productive in their day to day, or coaching a manager through a tough conversation.  It’s super rewarding work to be able to help others.

Where do you go to learn about HR and leadership?

I lean into my talented network and my mentors. They have a wealth of knowledge.

HR Open Source (hros.co) is also a great open source community and Facebook group where HR professionals share resources and tools with each other, such as: case studies, tools, engagement initiatives and wellness programs. When people are willing to share knowledge and give their perspective, we can more quickly level up and improve upon each other’s work. 

What are some new ideas from other companies which have inspired you?

I am inspired by companies and People leaders who challenge the norm and make proactive ideas come to life.

The global pandemic has caused companies to evaluate the current landscape and plan for the future of work. For example, Twitter and Facebook are now allowing their staff to work from home permanently if they wish.

In response to this pandemic, we will see new ideas emerge from People and business leaders and a new landscape will unfold. 

What is the culture like at Flare?

At Flare, we have a startup culture of taking big swings, building quickly and sharing in the impact of driving growth and positive change. We are constantly innovating against the status quo and learning new things.

Our team is a passionate and talented group.  Culturally, the team is down to earth, doesn’t take themselves too seriously, works at a fast pace, has full ownership to drive change and is accountable for delivering ideas. We are empowered to deliver quality work we are really proud of.

What are Flare’s company values and how do you uphold these values?

We have five company values which are embraced at Flare: People first, Bat .400, Trust the Process, Do the Right Thing and Act Like an Owner. 

I’ll discuss my two favourites:

  • People first is a value that drives our decisions and creates a strong sense of community at Flare. We have a culture of people constantly looking out for one another and working together. We have an engaged and supportive team where people feel welcomed and have a safe place to show up as themselves.
  • Bat .400 is a value that encourages our team to swing the bat to achieve 10x growth, and at the same time, allows us to embrace failures as a part of the process. I played softball for a large part of my life, so the terminology resonates well with me, but for those who are unfamiliar, Bat .400 is a baseball term. If you have a batting average of .400, it would mean you have the highest batting average in the Hall of Fame. To get that high of an average, you’ve actually struck out or failed more times than you’ve had success.  The idea behind Bat .400 is how can we continue swinging the bat even if we might fail or have failed.  If you don’t step up to the plate, you’ll never hit that homerun.

What do you do in the recruitment process to ensure a candidate is a good fit?

At Flare, we have a thorough recruitment process with a series of key stages to ensure a candidate is the right fit. Here are few things that are important to us in the recruitment process: 

  1. Understanding motivations. Understanding the motivations and ambitions of candidates can help us understand the type of learning and achievement that a person would need to be successful in a role. 
  2. Learning about their experience and way of thinking. We like to see people in action by giving them a technical challenge like a coding test or a specific challenge relating to a role. This helps us remove bias from the hiring decision and helps us see how people approach and perform the challenge. It also gives the candidate a good understanding of the types of challenges they could face in the role.
  3. Explore mutual fit. The final stage is diving deeper into getting to know the candidate and exploring a mutual fit. Interviewing is a two way street, so candidates are encouraged to ask just as many questions as we do in the process. Alongside the hiring team, we want candidates to have all their questions answered about starting a new adventure at Flare.

What is important for great leadership?

In my experience, great leaders are authentic, open, honest and always have the best intentions for their teams. Leading by example and showing up like that everyday is important to me, especially in challenging situations.

I believe that creating ways to help teams feel safe and supported leads to a healthier and engaged workplace. At Flare, we aim to share information and feedback as timely and honestly as possible, and we encourage open and honest communication. For example, we have an “ask_Flare” anything Slack channel, where employees can ask questions truly anonymously. These questions are responded to in the Slack channel, as well as, addressed every Monday in our all-hands meeting. We’ve found this to be a simple and effective way to hear what’s on our employees’ minds and address these sentiments in a transparent way. 

Where did you learn your leadership style from?

I grew up playing team sports my whole life so my leadership style was initially developed from many years of playing on high performance sports teams. 

I also have two strong, intelligent female leaders as mentors. They both really push and challenge me on how to approach conversations with my team and define how I wanted to show up as a leader.

What are some leadership strategies which work well for you?

  • Always being clear and consistent in communication, expectations, and showing up as yourself.
  • Being empathetic and objective while balancing the bigger picture and execution.
  • Being an open book and constantly evolving. Always asking for feedback, constantly learning and observing and comfortable admitting when you don’t know, but look for a plan to figure it out. 
  • Focus on the team. Giving them the space to create the norms and define how, when and where they work best.
  • Hiring up so you can surround yourself with the best team.
  • Empower your team to do their best work by removing any roadblocks. both current and in the future. While supporting them through the challenges and celebrating their wins.

How have you engaged employees during the COVID-19 pandemic?

We’ve looked at ways to keep people connected and engaged from their remote work environment, as we shifted to a  ‘work from home’ policy during COVID-19.   Here’s some strategies we’ve implemented: 

  • Creating community Slack channels like lunch time workouts (#thegym) or grabbing an after work beverage (#palisadeshappyhour), which we see employees engage in regularly
  • Celebrating birthdays with gifts delivered to employees’ homes
  • Iterating our weekly all-hands meeting, so we have a format which supports our remote work structure
  • Setting a company-wide “no meeting policy” from 12-1pm to help promote this time to get away from computers, reset and take a break
  • Creating new initiatives and activities through our Vibe Team. Many fun and diverse ideas from this group have been implemented across Flare

How do you keep retention rates high at your company?

Gathering and actioning employee feedback is critical to employee retention.  We use employee engagement surveys to consistently checkin and understand how people are feeling in their roles. 

During COVID-19,  we’ve made these surveys monthly as things are changing so quickly. The feedback is helping us identify specific action items directly from our teams on ways we can improve their experiences. It’s important for us to create a place for people to share their thoughts, how they are feeling and share ideas around improvements while giving us insights to any undiscovered frustrations.

How do you ensure new hires have a great onboarding experience?

At Flare, our onboarding process is designed to help new hires transition into their new role in a smooth, informative and welcoming way. It is an exciting time for a new hire joining a company and a team welcoming a new teammate aboard, so both the big and little things in the onboarding experience matter. 

Here are a few things we do to support our new teammates:

  • Use Flare to preboard and onboard new hires digitally. This gives our new hires a seamless way to auto-sign and complete employee documents (ie. employment contracts, policies, and bank, tax and super information) – no paperwork required. We also gather information to shape our employee’s first day experience. For example, on an employee’s first day, there are a series of personalised welcomes and things that happen to make it memorable
  • Send out an onboarding pack before someone starts
  • Welcome them on their first day with a hand written note from their manager, their favourite coffee and treat, and arm them with a prepaid coffee card to the neighbourhood cafe which allows them to treat and  get to know their new teammates
  • Set them up with a buddy,  so everyone has a go to person for questions, over lunch they will learn more about the company from a different perspective
  • Add them to the #newbies slack channel. The channel has resources like company acronyms, a map of where people sit, other helpful channels to join.  Plus, it’s a space to ask questions or see what’s already been asked  
  • Run induction sessions with different leaders within the business, so they can learn how the business operates, put faces to names, and better understand how their role impacts the bigger picture and mission at Flare

How do you promote employee wellbeing?

We rolled out a new Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to proactively approach employee wellbeing. The EAP supports a wide variety of topics like mental wellbeing and manager coaching, while leveraging technology to create an accessible employee experience.

Through Flare Benefits, our employees have access to discounts and benefits from a wide variety of retailers like Woolworths, KMART and JB Hi-Fi.

We are currently working on other employee programs that focus on wellness (physically and mentally), and learning and development. 

Any final advice you’d like to share with our audience about how to lead people better?

In these unprecedented times, creating a people-first engaged workplace will help businesses thrive in the long run. At Flare, I’ve seen many people step up to lead initiatives, rise to the challenge and lean in to support each other. It’s incredible and inspiring to watch, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. 

Finally, remembering that we are all human and everyone is being faced with unique stresses during this time.  As leaders we don’t have all the answers, but being open and admitting when ‘we don’t know the answers’ is important. When leaders are transparent and honest, organisations become stronger and greater trust is built within people and teams. From my experience, when this happens, teams begin to work together more closely to solve problems, and can make the most out of whatever comes next.

5 ways to develop strong workplace community on any budget

Building a positive work environment with a strong workplace community is essential for attracting and retaining top talent. A team that works well together will deliver better results than a team that doesn’t.

Why a strong workplace community is important

When employees feel as though they’re working within a community of likeminded coworkers and managers, their work becomes more meaningful. With a sense of camaraderie comes increasing ease of communication between employees. Simply feeling part of a team working on a task helps motivate people to take on more challenges. 

A strong workplace community is particularly important if you’re looking to reduce your turnover rate. To nurture a sense of workplace community, it’s important to be deliberate and plan ahead. Strong workplace communities grow best when someone is focused on working on employee engagement ideas and events.

5 Ideas to build a strong workplace community

Here are five practical ways you can build a sense of workplace community in your company, and you can do it on any budget.

1. Recognition

Saying well done is a powerful motivator. Whether it’s a hand-written note of thanks, a spot-bonus, quarterly awards and commendations from the top, or peer to peer recognition from and of coworkers, there are many ways to recognise and reward your employees. Key to success is to create an environment where recognition can flow from anyone. 

Making recognition a standard part of your company culture will help create a sense of belonging and appreciation which is a great foundation for building workplace community.

2. Team outings

One of the most obvious ways to create a sense of workplace community is to organise events outside of work, enabling your people to get to know each other on a more personal level.

Regular social events help create bonds within the team and boost employee morale. Your team outing can be as simple as regularly planning to have lunch at a local restaurant or a few drinks after work on a Friday in the local bar. However, the quirkier you can make it, the more likely you and the team will be able to have a good laugh about it afterwards and bond over the experience.

3. Fitness or sports teams

Promote fitness activities to show your people that you are committed to their health while cultivating team spirit and employee participation. There’s nothing like your employees competing together in organised sport to build team cohesiveness.

Get involved in a local soccer or netball tournament and sponsor a team by paying registrations fees and funding suitably branded kits.

Make sure you take lots of photos of your team in action and publish to your internal platforms and social media. It’s a great way to build your team’s rapport, profile and build community exposure. (For ideas to support wellbeing initiatives, see our previous post on wellbeing initiatives for Millennial employees.)

4. Volunteering

Volunteering for a worthy cause is a great way to cement your workplace community spirit. Taking part in volunteering events encourages both the company and employees to give back to the community, while promoting the causes your people care about most. It’s also worth remembering that your Millennial cohort is a group of idealistic, altruistic individuals. As a generation, they are passionate about social causes that benefit the greater good.

Sponsoring a team of employees to do a charity walk, run, or swim not only bonds your employees together, it can help boost morale, and generate positive vibes in the workplace. At the same time, your company gets the kudos of doing something worthy for the community, and ultimately raising brand perception.

But it’s important to take an employee centric approach to volunteering. Rather than specifying which particular organisations you will support, find out what causes matter most to your people and support individual efforts or group decisions. This will this help to encourage team spirit and camaraderie.

5. Purpose-designed spaces

It’s important to provide your employees with spaces to come together socially – whether it’s the kitchen, ping pong table, or informal seating scattered throughout the office. Your people need to be able to chat, whether it’s about the weekend’s footy or solving a specific workplace challenge.

However, while the physical space you work in is an important factor, so too are the unwritten rules of your workplace culture. Even best physical workspace won’t engender a sense of community if your workplace culture is out of step. Your team won’t use those cool breakout spaces to hang out or take a power nap if senior executives frown upon it.

Build your workplace community with Flare 

You don’t have to invest a fortune to build workplace community, but you do need to create structured opportunities for employees to get to know each other.

See for yourself how our platform can help you attract and retain great people with best-in-class employee wellbeing and engagement initiatives. Flare offers a free paperless onboarding software and free employee benefits with access to hundreds of leading retailer like Woolworths and Kmart. If you want to learn more about how Flare HR can support your business and employees during this time, please request a demo.

HR tips and strategies for reopening after COVID-19

As Australia begins to re-open doors to businesses, company leaders are also starting to plan what the return to work will look like for their own employees. This can feel very overwhelming, as there are many factors to take into consideration – from keeping workers safe to minimising any disruptions to daily operations. To help, we put together the most critical HR strategies that can help you implement a safe, effective transition back to the office. 

HR strategies for the return to work 

When it comes to planning out the return to work, most organisations have one question in mind: how do we safely bring our employees back to the workplace, while also balancing the most urgent needs of the business? The good news is that there are ways to successfully strike this balance. To do so, we recommend leaning into these HR strategies: 

Reimagine the office 

The traditional office space must be reimagined to address concerns around COVID-19. This includes everything from physically changing the format to completely eradicating features associated with a typical office. Below are specific actions you can take to make your workspace safer for employees: 

  • Incorporate social distancing into the layout. According to Safe Work Australia, there must be 4 square metres of space per person in a given space to practice safe social distancing. Before your employees return to the office, make sure your desks are laid out to follow these guidelines. This means no more hot desking and, at least for the meantime, no more collaboration areas like meeting rooms or cafeterias. 
  • Establish a cleaning and sanitation routine. No matter how many people you plan to have back in the office, there has to be an intensive cleaning and sanitation routine in place. In addition to setting up hand sanitizers and hand-washing stations around the office, employers should look into services that can safely clean and sanitise the office space everyday. Or, if you prefer to do that internally, you can follow these guidelines from Safe Work Australia and The Department of Health

Prioritise health and safety 

The top priority of all organisations is to keep their employees healthy and safe as they transition back to the workplace. There are many things that HR and company leaders can do proactively to minimise any risks of contracting COVID-19 at the office. Here are a few suggestions: 

  • Provide PPE. PPE, or Personal Protective Equipment, is critical to keeping employees safe during these times. If you have the resources to do so, provide your workers with face masks, sanitation wipes, and gloves to use in the office – along with proper instructions on how to effectively use this equipment. This will reduce the risk of contamination and also relieve the burden of employees having to find and purchase this PPE for themselves. 
  • Take care of your most vulnerable workers. While some employees may be eager to return to the office, there are likely many who are not. And for good reason. If you have employees who are part of a vulnerable population, or live with someone who is, you don’t want to risk their health by sending them back to the office. Work with them to consider alternative options. For instance, if your organisation is able to accomodate a hybrid workforce, then allow the employees who don’t feel safe going into work to be remote, while others go back to the office. 
  • Maintain remote processes. For the time being, you may also want to continue maintaining some remote processes. Hiring and onboarding, for example, are HR operations that can be seamlessly done remotely and is an effective way to reduce the risk for all parties involved. That’s why we currently have a Return to Work Offer that gives you Flare at absolutely no cost and allows you to level up your HR processes virtually. 

Prepare your employees

It’s not enough to simply have your company leaders come up with a plan to return to work in silos. Your employees also need to be looped into this process and understand what their role is in facilitating a successful transition back to the office. We share a few strategies to help your employees get ready to go back to work: 

  • Be transparent. The return to work will, once again, shake up the lives of your employees. Knowing this, it’s critical to be as transparent as possible about what this transition will look like so that your workers aren’t caught off guard. Use this time to share the leadership team’s thoughts and collect employee feedback – this can inform important aspects of your plan. For instance, you may find that many employees are resistant to the idea of returning to the workplace so soon, and they may demand an extended timeline for the transition. These issues are better to catch early on in the process rather than later, which can be achieved by being as communicative and honest with employees as possible.
  • Offer health training and education. Employers shouldn’t assume that their employees are aware of health and safety protocols. Everything, from proper handwashing techniques to social distancing rules in the workplace, should be information that’s readily accessible – whether that’s in the form of an employee guide or a pre-recorded training session that everyone is required to complete. HR leaders and managers should also be prepared to answer any questions related to health and safety. 
  • Have a back-up plan. There’s a chance that going back to the physical office can lead to an uptick in COVID-19 cases. Knowing this, every organisation should have a plan for the worst-case scenario. What will we do if one of our employees contracts COVID-19? If the government decides we have to go back to remote work, how can we make that transition as seamless as possible? These are important questions that all HR leaders should have an answer to ahead of the return to work. 

Even though it may feel intimidating now to think about going back to work, taking proactive measures will ensure that the process is as stress-free as possible. Following the HR strategies we outlined will help you come up with a plan that prioritises the health and safety of your employees, while also protecting your business. 

Flare currently has a completely free Return To Work Offer to help organisations build resilient HR operations, employee onboarding and engagement strategies. Flare works with thousands of brands like H&M, Accor Hotels, and Hudson to provide services around compliance, onboarding, and HR communications at no cost. If you want to learn more about how Flare HR can support your business and employees during this time, please request a demo

10 ideas to help you boost your employee engagement

Employee engagement is a concept that most HR leaders are familiar with. And, if you’re like most companies, it’s one that you’ve recently moved to the top of your priority list. But with COVID-19 leaving your employees stressed and disengaged, you may be wondering how to take action in this challenging environment. We share our top ideas for boosting employee engagement below. 

Why it’s important to boost employee engagement 

Before we dive into the actual ideas, let’s refresh our definition of employee engagement. Essentially, employee engagement reflects the level of emotional connection and commitment a worker demonstrates to their company. This isn’t the same as employee happiness. While they’re certainly closely related and have the power to impact each other, an employee can technically be happy where they work without being engaged in what they’re doing on a day-to-day basis. 

Let’s explore exactly why employee engagement is so critical to pay attention to: 

  • Increases productivity. Organisations with a high level of engagement report 22% higher productivity. It’s easy to see why this is the case. When an employee is truly immersed in what they’re working on, they’re likely to produce better outcomes – especially in comparison to a disengaged employee who may not give their full attention to the projects they’re working on.
  • Reduces absenteeism. A Gallup study also found that highly engaged workplaces saw 41% lower absenteeism. Absenteeism currently costs the Australian economy over $32.5 billion each year, so you can see how this decrease can have a profound impact.
  • Saves on costs. Finally, it makes sense that high employee engagement leads to many cost savings for an organisation. Not only is this as a result of the increased productivity and lowered rates of absenteeism, but more engaged employees are also less likely to leave companies. This means less resources invested in hiring new talent or dealing with the consequences of a high turnover rate. 

10 ideas to boost employee engagement

We put together a diverse range of options to help you boost employee engagement. Feel free to take on whichever tactics make the most sense given your organisation’s current needs, resources, and goals. 

1. Make virtual fun

Remote work presents many opportunities for engagement. For instance, video calls can be used for activities beyond meetings. Companies have been using this technology to create fun, bonding moments – whether that’s through virtual happy hours, costume contests, or cooking lessons. SafetyCulture, for example, launched a virtual pub with multiple themed rooms to create a space for employees to enjoy social time with one another. 

2. Create communities

Many employees may be feeling isolated during these times, which can negatively impact their levels of engagement. To foster a stronger sense of community, companies can take advantage of technology to start virtual clubs like Canva did. These clubs can represent any range of interests, from wine tasting to books to pasta. The purpose is to bring people together around shared interests and create a space for those conversations to unfold organically. 

3. Open up access to leadership

Having the opportunity to engage more with company leaders can be inspiring for employees. So use this time to open up access to the leadership team, whether that’s by having more regular updates from the CEO or hosting virtual “office hours” for people to ask questions. Having employees feel like they’re being seen and heard by executives can make a huge difference to engagement levels.

4. Diversify communication efforts 

It may be tempting to maintain your regular methods of communication. However, given the unusual circumstances around COVID-19, it’s important to diversify your communication efforts. You can do this by increasing the cadence and switching up the channels that you communicate through. So instead of a weekly, in-person all-hands meeting, you may want to consider daily updates in the company Slack channel. Things are changing by the minute, and employees want to know what’s going on with their organisation.

5. Roll out new stipends or initiatives

Your employees are likely struggling with the impact of the pandemic. So if you have the ability to do so, demonstrate that you care by offering out new types of stipends or initiatives. A great example of this is introducing new mental health programs or budgets to create ergonomic workspaces at home, which is exactly what TransferWise did for their employees. This can enable your employees to work better and smarter. 

6. Take advantage of existing resources

Thankfully, we live in a time where there are many valuable resources to help with employee engagement. These include everything from communication tools to HR management platforms. At Flare HR, we offer a free onboarding and employee benefits portal, which includes discounts from leading retailers like Woolworths, JB Hi-Fi and Amazon, that can help both new and existing employees feel more engaged. 

7. Offer flexibility  

There’s a good chance your employees are more distracted than usual right now. Not only are they managing their work schedules, but they’re simultaneously trying to take care of their families and themselves. To make the balancing act easier for them, practice flexibility. This means allowing employees to set their own schedules and being understanding of the fact that working parents may not be able to join 9 a.m. calls because they’re busy getting the kids ready for the day.

8. Encourage time off 

Employees may feel like they don’t have the luxury to take time off these days since they can’t travel. This can lead to burnout, which will eventually cause a significant drop in engagement and a potential increase in health problems. To prevent this from happening, proactively encourage your employees to take personal days, mental health days, or even a few days off for a “staycation.” Even one week of time off can help an employee feel refreshed.

9. Boost recognition efforts 

Investing more in your recognition program is also an effective way to directly improve your engagement levels. A study by Bersin by Deloitte revealed that organisations where recognition occurs have 14% better employee engagement, productivity, and customer service than those without. So whether it’s finding more opportunities to say “thank you” to employees for their hard work or dedicating a budget to rewards, know that a little bit of recognition can go a long way.

10. Prioritise wellness

Finally, supporting the health and wellness of employees should be the priority of every employer right now. If you don’t already have a holistic wellness program in place, now may be a good time to start thinking about one. Or, at the very least, start pointing employees to the existing mental and physical health resources you do have available so they know there are options available to them. 

Even though COVID-19 presents many challenges, this is also an opportunity to strengthen your workforce and boost the engagement levels of your employees. Regardless of whether you start off with just one of these tactics or several, you’re sure to see improvements in the way that your employees work. 

Flare offers a free paperless onboarding software and free employee benefits with access to hundreds of leading retailer like Woolworths and Kmart. If you want to learn more about how Flare HR can support your business and employees during this time, please request a demo

How the coronavirus is a catalyst for people-first employee engagement programs

While there’s certainly a lot of negative news to come out of the pandemic, we’re particularly interested in one silver lining. Companies have turned their focus to the people behind the business — reinvesting in HR and people ops. 

Flexible working arrangements

Social distancing requires lots of workers to skip the office and instead work remotely from home. One survey found that 61% of companies have experienced increased levels of employee engagement as a result of this transition. Another found that 90% of companies believe culture has improved, 83% believe employee experience is better, and 84% believe employee engagement has increased.

Allowing your workers to work from home is just the first step. It’s also the employer’s role to help staff make that transition. Offer to purchase any equipment they may need. Check in regularly. And set realistic expectations. We’re not just “working from home” right now — we’re working from home in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. That comes with a lot of physical and emotional baggage that can wreak havoc on productivity. 

Job security

Source: https://joshbersin.com/2020/04/covid-19-may-be-the-best-thing-that-ever-happened-to-employee-engagement/

Job security is the top concern for workers right now. An estimated 1.4 million Australians will be jobless.

Luckily, as restrictions ease and employees head back to work, employers will be able to offer more job security. In addition to regular hours, a living wage, and a safe workplace, employers should look to proactively provide health and wellness support—especially as that is the second biggest concern for workers. Consider building an employee wellness program to tackle this head on.

Support on a human level

It’s not just financial security that concerns workers. At the beginning of April, 68% of Australians were concerned or very concerned about their health due to COVID-19. In fact, personal health was the second most important issue for Australians during the first half of April 2020. 

We’re talking about both physical and mental health here. 68% of employers say their workers have higher than normal levels of anxiety. Here, companies have a chance to be proactive in aiding their staff’s health and well-being. And nearly 90% of companies are doing exactly that. 

Beyond allowing workers to set up at home and have flexible working arrangements, employers can go the extra mile to support mental and physical health and wellness.

Moving forward with your employee engagement initiatives

The pandemic has brought many previously dismissed issues to light, and we’re seeing the importance of mental health, work-life balance and effective people management. The coronavirus workforce demands transparency, trust and a top-down people-first philosophy. 

At Flare, we have a free HR solution which includes a paperless onboarding software, employee management and a free employee benefits platform which gives your employees access to discounts from leading Australian retails such as Woolworths, Kmart, JB Hi-Fi and more. Find out more about how you can engage with your employees more by booking a free demo today.