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How To Alleviate Stress From Your Everyday Worklife

January 21st, 2019 | Posted by ATS in Absence Management | Benefit Accruals | Careers | Employee Productivity | Time and Attendance Blog, Workforce Management Software - (Comments Off on How To Alleviate Stress From Your Everyday Worklife)

Eliminating stress from your work entirely is a nice goal, but of course, we all know that’s not really possible. Some stress is good because, it propels us to complete projects that might otherwise, go unfinished.

There are also a number of ways one can decrease stress at work, some of which might include; taking the occasional break, not working 10 hours or more a day, taking vacation time, and not responding to work emails after hours or on weekends.

Vikki Ledbetter article, article titled 3 steps to a work detoxoffers some tips on the importance of taking a break from the everyday grind. These steps include:

“1. Prepare: Look at your calendar and move meetings. Think about commitments the week following your time out and alert relevant people that you’ll be unavailable. And, of course, communicate your time off as early as possible so your team isn’t caught off guard.

Planning can also illuminate opportunities to train others and give them a chance to try something new, as well as highlight holes in documentation for how you do what you do. Developing tutorials or even one-pagers on your work processes can serve you and your team well long term.

2. Set boundaries: With a physical detox, there are some strict no-nos to your diet, right? Likewise, with a work detox you’ll have to ensure you’re not welcoming stimulants that cause you unrest. There aren’t a lot of occasions where you truly can’t be reached, despite what your out of office message may say. But that doesn’t mean you should be available at all times.

3. Take in the good stuff: Now it’s time to focus on what you can do during your break to kickstart your work detox and leave you feeling refreshed. Make time for hobbies and people that make you happy, and the earlier the better. If you love hiking, schedule it for the first half of your day so you are, in some ways, forced to disconnect from work. If you enjoy writing, set aside time to take yourself on a coffee date for just you and your journal.”

If you have included things like working less and not taking on too many projects as part your New Year goals, good for you. And, if not perhaps this might be something you can add to your list of goals. Hopefully, we still have not abandoned those New Year resolutions yet?

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Have You Started Thinking About New Year’s Resolutions For 2019?

December 28th, 2018 | Posted by ATS in Benefit Accruals | Employee Productivity | Time and Attendance Blog, Workforce Management Software - (Comments Off on Have You Started Thinking About New Year’s Resolutions For 2019?)

Now that all the shopping, eating and family festivities are all done, here comes the tradition of New Year resolutions that we will hear a lot about in the first few weeks of 2019. And, in the world of business, increasing sales, will likely top the list of things that most businesses, both small and large will have on their to-do list.

Mike Maddock’s list of Ten Resolutions The Most Successful People Make And Then Keep at Forbes.com is quite handy if your company is compiling its own list.

Those resolutions are:

1.Spend more time on the not-to-do list
Strategy is the art of sacrifice. That’s why you may consider creating a larger clearing for what really matters by first identifying, and then avoiding, what matters the least. Your time is a treasure to be invested. Creating a list of things that you are not going to do, allows you to invest more of your treasured time on the few things that matter the most.

2. Essential first, email second
What’s the first thing you do in the morning? For many of us, it is looking at email. We wake up with a renewed mind and spirit, ready to take on the world, and then we immediately allow ourselves to be distracted by an insignificant email. Instead, wake up,take on the most important task of the day, and then (and only then) hit the email

3.Resolve to think about “Who” instead of “What”
Do you work for a “What” business or for a “Who” business? Successful companies run the risk of focusing too much on their current products and distributors thus—the “What”—losing sight of the constant and dramatically changing needs of their customer base. (The “Who.”) Insurance, pharma, health care, higher education often listen too much to their agents, doctors and professors. The real innovation starts with the end consumer.

4. Resolve to find your purpose
As my friend Simon Sinek will tell you: People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Starting a career, a company or any kind of journey that is based firmly on your purpose is foundational to success and happiness. If you don’t know your company’s purpose or even your own, finding one is the worthiest of resolutions.

5. Resolve to support a cause
If you’re reading this, chances are you are one of the rare people who know how to start things. Fortunately, there are people like you who have already started causes that make the world better—they feed the hungry; they save the rain forest; they fight cancer; they do good things. There is virtually a cause for everyone, and contributing will make your year happier. Promise.

6. Resolve to invent more choices
Here’s a secret that happy people know that I learned from my friend Dr. Dan Baker: You can’t feel grateful and fearful at the same time. And one certain way to become afraid is to feel trapped by any situation. The remedy is choice. The more choices you feel you have, the less trapped—and happier—you will feel. So this year, resolve to do a bit of brainstorming every time you feel unhappy.

7. Resolve to find a Yin for your Yang 
Walt Disney had Roy Disney, Steve Jobs had Steve Wozniak and Orville Wright had Wilbur Wright. Wherever there is great innovation, there is a Dreamer and an Operator; an Idea Monkey and a (Ring) leader. First, determine where your passions lie, then go find an equally passionate partner, then go change the world.

8. Resolve to get outside your jar 
You can’t read the label when you are sitting inside the jar. The sad irony of being an expert is that it keeps you from seeing possibility. After all, you know what works, what doesn’t, what you can afford, what’s been tried in the past. Instead of relying only on your expertise, learn how to find other experts solving similar challenges to the ones you are facing. Go ask them what you may be missing.

9. Resolve to be the creator
What is the outcome you want? What stands in your way? How do you overcome these obstacles? These three simple questions will keep you from being victimized by any situation. Creators change the world. Victims just bitch about stuff.

10. Plan vacations (now)
You have probably heard the saying, “Life is what happens when you are not paying attention.” Unfortunately for many of us, we let this become true. Do yourself a favor and plan your vacations for the next year today. I promise you that the days around your vacation will fill in nicely. I also promise you that you’ll have something to look forward to and the life that happens during your vacations will be precious.

The stats on how often people keep up with New Year’s resolutions are dismal, at best. Part of the reason why most people don’t live up to their New Year’s goals, are because, those goals are too unrealistic to begin. So, perhaps part of New Year’s resolution list should include a step, by step guide on how to reach each goal or target?

Happy New Year!

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Now that we’re into the month of December and the holiday season has kicked into full gear, here’s a question just about every manager probably has on their mind: Just how much work am I getting out of my employees this month, anyway?

Well, regardless of your religious affiliation the end-of-the-year holiday season impacts every workplace, and every worker, whether it’s retail, manufacturing, or healthcare. And, as someone who manages people, you probably only too well, that your employees will likely be distracted and stressed at this time of the year.

This article from Entrepreneur and Glassdoor titled 7 Ways to Manage Employee HolidayTime Off’ is a useful guide for any manager:

1. Plan in advance: Many industrial businesses have their holiday schedule planned well in advance, and there’s no reason any type of business can’t do that either. According to Brian Koniuk, a principal at the HackettGroup, manufacturers typically require employees to plan out their vacation for the coming year so they know in January who is working what holiday and who is off for the entire year. In other industries, like health care, Koniuk says schedules are made three to five months in advance.

 2. First come, first served: If you are running a business that is busy during the holidays or needs to be staffed 24/7 year-round, one way to prevent employees from taking off in large numbers is to limit the amount and give workers off on a first come, first served basis, says Pat Sweeney, human resource manager at Old Colony Hospice and Palliative Care. “If they know they are going to want to be off over the holidays they know they have to ask for the time off way in advance,” says Sweeney. She says that starting as early as September supervisors can notify the staff that requests for time off have to be made as soon as possible. Hand in hand with a first come, first served policy is capping the number of people that can take off during the holidays.

 3. Stagger the schedule: You may not be able to keep a full staff during the holidays, but that doesn’t mean you have to close early or provide a reduced level of service. To combat that, Kathy Harris, managing director of recruiting firm Harris Allied, says to stagger your employee vacation scheduling. For instance, you can have someone work in the morning during the holidays and another worker take the afternoon shift. Another option: have one employee work Monday and Tuesday and another Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The idea behind a staggered employee vacation schedule is to always have coverage, and at the same time, give employees time off during the holidays.

4. Keep a pool of part-timers: If you are operating a business that picks up during the holiday season, or you know a lot of your staff will be gone during that time, it’s a good idea to keep a pool of part-timers that you can tap when you need extra help, says Gary Should is, a small business consultant, coach and owner of a gymnastics center. “We have a pool of part-timers that we know can work the holidays,” says Should is. “Whenever we hit the holiday period or periods where we lose part of our staff they come on.” According to Should is, it’s a good idea to keep in contact with these part-timers year-round so you’ll know their availability ahead of time. Another option is to post a job in anticipation for holiday hiring.

5. Offer a holiday pay differential: For some people money talks even if it means they won’t be with their family during the holidays, which is why offering a holiday pay differential can keep your business staffed. According to Sweeney, it should be something that is part of the company’s structure and not something you offer just to entice an employee not to take off. “If you’re in a business you know there are a lot of requests for time off you can have some differential built in,” she says.

 6. Institute a vacation blackout period: For some businesses, particularly retail, the holidays are the busiest time for them, which means they need a full staff if not more. If your business falls into this category, a way to prevent employees from taking off is to have a blackout period where no one can take off, says Tanios. If an employee wants off during a blackout period he or she would need to ask well in advance, and it would be at the manager’s discretion, says Tanios. It’s a good idea to inform employees from the beginning of the blackout policy so they aren’t blindsided come holiday time.

 7. Let employees work at home: These days pretty much everybody has a laptop, iPad or smartphone that enables them to work remotely. If your staff doesn’t have to be on site, letting them work at home during the holidays can be a productive way to get things done without having to bring in additional staff. Working at home is a viable option only if the business lends itself to it and there’s away to ensure the employees are actually working. “In this day and age working from a virtual office anywhere is possible,” says Sweeney.

Bottom-line: During the holiday season, employees are likely dreaming of cozying up in Christmas sweaters with their egg-nogs or just dreading that visit from relatives that they see only once a year. Employees will be stressed out enough as it is, anything you can do as their manager to bring joy, could increase productivity and yes, profit to the bottom line.

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This past Sunday, November 4, 2018, at 2:00 a.m., daylight savings time occurred with many provinces and states across the US setting their clocks one hour back. And, every year, a growing chorus of health professionals, bemoans the need for this and, like many of us, ask why is it we simply don’t get rid of daylight savings time altogether.

Here is an excerpt from a recent article with some compelling reasons to ditch this yearly ritual, by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) titled Eight scientific reasons to ditch daylight time:

  1. You are eight per cent more likely to have a stroke for two days after changing your clocks.
  2. You are also 24 per cent more likely to have a heart attack the Monday after (and 21 per cent on the Tuesday)
  3. Suicide rates in men increase for two weeks after the clocks change.
  4. Judges give harsher legal sentences the day after switching to daylight time
  5. Losing that hour of sleep increases workplace injuries, and the injuries themselves are much more severe.
  6. You’re also more likely to get into a car crash. In fact, this researcher estimates that over the years, 30 fatalities have been caused by the time change.
  7. Daylight time can lead to a dramatic increase in ‘cyberloafing.’
    In adolescents, it can take over a week to adjust to the change, losing an average of 32 minutes of sleep per night, which messes with their memory and reaction time.

Bottom line: Daylight savings time has served its purpose, whatever purpose it was. Lost productivity and sleepy eyed employees is not exactly what employers expect in their organization. Maybe that’s why the European Union is considering doing away daylight savings time in 2019.

Bottom line: Daylight savings time has served its purpose, whatever purpose that was. Lost productivity and sleepy eyed employees is not exactly what employers expect in their organization. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why the European Union is considering doing away daylight savings time in 2019.

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3 Tips to Help Your Company Embrace a BYOD at Work

September 26th, 2018 | Posted by ATS in Employee Productivity | HR | SmartPhones | Time and Attendance Canada | Time and Attendance Toronto - (Comments Off on 3 Tips to Help Your Company Embrace a BYOD at Work)

Bring your own device (BYOD) concept, has been gaining in popularity for several years and some companies have implemented them with varying degrees of success within their organizations. If your company is considering implementing it, make sure you understand both the pros and cons that come along with it.

3 Tips to Help Your Company Embrace a BYOD at Work

Here are three tips from Jane Harper’s article titled Creating an Effective Cell Phones at Work Policy

“Employee cell phone policy must be consistent: Policies are more prone to collapse when a group of employees are living above them or observing a different version of it. You don’t want to bring in misunderstandings, resentment among team members or be accused of unfair treatment – enemies of productivity. Keeping the policy consistent regardless of sexual orientation, race, age, level, etc, is what makes it effective.

Specify the smart devices employees can use: Is there no need for some smart devices to be allowed? Your policy will be ineffective if it restricts only cell phones. That means employees can bring in personal tablets or similar smart devices to still create the problem you are trying to avoid by limiting cell phones. The policy should categorically state the personal technology permitted during the time of restriction.

Consider safety, security, and privacy: While creating an employee cell phone policy, there is a need to consider safety, security, and privacy. Presenting your policy as a means to only stop employees from work time theft or to only maintain productivity level is not totally ideal. Employees should understand the dangers of using devices while operating machinery or driving. It should be clear that downloading infected attachments on their personal devices could shut down the entire office if passed into to the office network”.

Bring your own device concept (BYOD) will not work for all companies. Because, while the costs will likely be borne by the employee, in such a situation, what happens when that employee leaves the company? It’s obvious that the company the will want the data, and if there is no policy that was drafted to deal with this, it could end up being a bad break-up between employer and employee.

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To learn more, register for one of our weekly webinars, or download brochures or a pre-recorded demonstration. To speak to a representative, call; 866.294.2468.

The traditional way of work is on its way out and is not coming back, much to angst of some. Many North Americans, in particular, millennials are ditching the traditional approach to work which usually involves driving one or two hours to an office. Today’s workers and are instead looking for companies that offer flexible work options and if yours does not, good luck in attracting a range of talent.

Here Are Three Ways To Keep Your Remote Workers Engaged

If your company has embraced the new way of work and has a remote workforce, you probably know it can sometimes be hard to make sure they feel part of the team.  Here are three ways to keep your remote workforce engaged:

  1. Consistently Communicate

A consistent line of communication between you and your remote team members is vital to ensuring workers are engaged, getting the work done are motivated. Occasionally e-mail your remote workers during the day or schedule one or two phone call during the course of the day. Not only does this help them to feel part of the team, it also means you are always accessible and this can help to avoid problems.

  1. Made Good Use of Technology

The latest workforce management solutions and HR applications can help with remote employee engagement.  In addition, cloud-based tools like Skype can provide your company and its remote workers to access a variety of presentations, or obtain important HR and data related information-thus, ensuring team members can remain up to date with the latest and most critical information wherever they are.

  1. Share Feedback

Include your remote workers in important decisions that are part of your company’s overall strategy and/or growth plans. When remote workers are not included in the decisions then can quickly become disengage, and begin to can feel unsupported and unsure of how much their efforts are appreciated by the company. As an organization, you should have faith that your remote staff can work independently and meet operational objectives.

If you work in the white-collar world, you will undoubtedly end up working with or supervising a telecommuting workforce at some point. How you handle remote workers will vary according to whether they work from home in the suburbs a dozen miles away, a few provinces or states away, or in another country.

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As a corporate executive, you can book your business travel and request your preferred seat-from the comfort of your kitchen table or from anywhere in the world by using through your smartphone or tablet. So, why it is that your employees have to call their supervisor or someone in HR to request time-off?

With ATS Employee Self-Service (ESS) employees can request time off by using their smart phone, workstations or tablets from anywhere.

Here Are 5 Reasons Why You Need Employee Self-Service

Here are 5 reasons to use ATS Employee Self-Service:

Good-Bye Spreadsheets- Your employees really hate filling out paper work each time they need time off. ATS Employee Self-Service simplifies and automates employee requests for time off. When a request for time off is made, an email alert is sent directly to the employee’s supervisor to begin the request review process. HR, payroll and managers have decision-making information at their fingertips.

No More Using Emails To Request Leave-With ATS Employee Self-Service your managers no longer have to waste time trying to find that email that was sent some time ago by the employee requesting leave.

Time and Attendance Update Review-Employees can update their availability for shifts, request time off, view schedules, overtime, and trade shifts – letting them better manage their work-life balance.

Your Company’s Communication Tool Of The Future- Engage your entire workforce with a user experience that’s easy to navigate, wherever they are. Let all employees communicate and collaborate, even without a corporate email address.

Approval And Message Centre-You can tailor approval processes to your organization and, authorized users can view and audit the progress and approval status of a workflow to make sure it stays on track. Send personal messages or create and save distribution lists to message multiple employees at once. Notifications, reports and actions requiring an employee’s attention will also be delivered to the ATS Employee Self-Service Message Center.

ATS Self-Service is a powerful tool that will empower your employees and make them feel more engaged, increase their workforce productivity and free up valuable resource within your Payroll and HR departments.

To learn about ATS Employee Self-Service go to our website and download the demo. To reach an account executive by phone, call 866.294.2467.

Here’s More Evidence That We Need Sleep To Be Productive

March 6th, 2018 | Posted by ATS in Careers | Employee Productivity | Employee Self Service | Time and Attendance Blog, Workforce Management Software - (Comments Off on Here’s More Evidence That We Need Sleep To Be Productive)

The benefit of a good nights’ sleep is far-reaching and yet, many of us tend to think four or five hours of sleep is all we need. We also know that going without sleep for too long makes us feel horrible, and that getting a good night’s sleep can make us feel ready to take on the world and tackle projects.  However, the always-on mentality in this current digital era of smart-phones and tablets, has given way to a false sense that less sleep is better.

Here’s More Evidence That We Need Sleep To Be Productive

Here are some tips from a couple of entrepreneurs, Doug and Polly White on the importance of sleep:

“Obviously, sleep is important. Humans need to recharge on a nightly basis to perform well. But work demands, family and personal issues and physical difficulties can get in the way of  a restful night’s sleep.

Quantity
As the numbers above indicate, adults need to sleep between seven and nine hours each night. We find that Doug needs seven while Polly prefers a bit more. To ensure that we get our shut-eye, we go to bed no later than 10 each night. If work demands a 4 a.m. start, we go to bed earlier to make up those zzzzz’s.

This takes discipline, but it’s worth it. Despite what many think, there really is no way to catch up on sleep. Sleeping in on the weekend won’t make up for a lack of sleep during the week.

 Consistency
While we may juggle our bedtime to accommodate an early start, this isn’t our preference. We find that going to bed and getting up at the same time each day helps us to fall asleep quickly and wake up naturally – without an alarm.

 Quality
The number of hours you sleep is important, but so is the quality of your sleep. Health issues, aging, hormonal changes and stress can deprive any of us of healthy sleep. One difficulty that occurs as part of the natural aging process is the inability to stay asleep. Older people may find that they wake up several times a night; however, this can affect younger individuals as well.”

Bottom Line:
Sleeping less than 7-8 hours per night, according to some expert, is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke whereas; longer sleep has been shown to improve many aspects of athletic and physical performance. And, the evidence is clear, a well-rested workforce equates to improved productivity, higher engagement and increased profits.

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Want Happy And Productive Employees? Avoid These Mistakes

February 13th, 2018 | Posted by ATS in Employee Productivity | HR | Leave Management | Productivity | Talent Management | Time and Attendance Blog, Workforce Management Software - (Comments Off on Want Happy And Productive Employees? Avoid These Mistakes)

Some companies extolled the virtues of their corporate philosophy in print and through the recruitment stages as an organization that cherish talent. It’s one thing to brag about how wonderful you are as a company, but it’s something entirely different if those things you talked about during the interview process, to lure good talent, do not materialize, once these candidates, become employees of your organization.

Want Happy And Productive Employees? Avoid These Mistakes

In writing for The HR Digest, Diana Coker dispenses some advice that you should heed in an article titled Dumb HR Policies That Demotivate Employees. Here are some of the things to avoid:

Merging Sick Leave and Vacation
This is one of the stupid rules most offices are still upholding till date, despite deep sensitization on this policy. Forcing your employees to take their vacations because they are sick is the dumbest thing any manager would do. As a manager, would you personally like to have your precious vacation because you are sick? The answer is NO if you want to be sincere. We all plan our vacations and deserve the best moment from it. Offices that merge sick leave and vacation will not only demotivate but encourage their employees to come to work sick, which means low productivity as well as exposing the healthy workers to the sickness if it’s contagious. At the tail end, the sickness goes round to everyone susceptible to it – going round to individuals that would still bring them to the office for more decrease in productivity. If an employee is sick and cannot go home because it would take away his or her vacation, they’ll force themselves to work demotivated.

 Banning Social Media
Recognizing social media as a channel for pleasures and distraction is already offensive and deprives your employees of a social life. Freedom to social media like Facebook or LinkedIn can help your employees to gain access to information that would help improve their performances. You can put it that banning social media limits your employee. Even if the employees are not being very professional as you want, getting their job done should be a criterion. Some employees go worst by banning internet use, that’s completely outrageous and a fight to force down productivity. Instead, keep your employee’s attention focused but don’t take away the trust.

 Crushing self-expression
I still can’t believe that some offices still keep up with this policy. Can employees not display personal belongings on their desk? That’s one of the dumb HR policies that shouldn’t have made it to the 20th century. It’s true that work environments deserve some level of sanity, but at the same time, people deserve to be who they are. This policy creates anxiety at work; it increases stress and renders break times invalid. Allow your employees to create a homey atmosphere. That helps them to be happier at work which improves productivity.

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Are Organizations Responsible for the Happiness of Their Employees?

January 16th, 2018 | Posted by ATS in Benefit Accruals | Employee Productivity | Time and Attendance Blog, Workforce Management Software - (Comments Off on Are Organizations Responsible for the Happiness of Their Employees?)

The happiness of employees at their workplace depends, on many factors, including; the actual jobs they are performing, and to a large degree the type relationship they have with their boss and colleagues among others. A study by the University of Warwick found that happiness led to a 12% spike in productivity, while unhappy workers proved 10% less productive.

 

In his article, Happy Employees Is Good For Business Damon Burton lays out 5 benefits of a happy workforce. They include:

  1. Better decision-making abilitiesPeople are better equipped to make decisions when they are cheerful. On-the-job difficulties engender some degree of fear and nervousness in most of humanity, but satisfied people can return to their original mood faster after being faced with adversity.
  2. Happy people sell more– A simple search on Google of “happy people, productivity, success, business” are better at business” returns countless articles and several studies showing happy workers are more productive.   The expression of positive emotions can be an effective bargaining tool.
  3. Greater innovation– There’s strong evidence showing a correlation between happiness and creativity. Some studies have shown that happy employees have higher levels of creativity than unhappy ones. Being happy can free up the brain, allowing for increased mental flexibility and imagination.
  4. Reduction in lost productivityHappy people are healthier. When employees take less sick leave, they are more productive, thus improving the bottom line.
  5. Better customer service– This is a no-brainer. People like happy people. And when it comes to customer service, businesses need to be cheery. When employees’ morale is high, customer interactions reflect it. Happy people are the perfect people pleasers for customer service-based roles.

And, of course there is the conventional wisdom that purports to the fact that if employees are paid well enough they will be happy. While paying employees well should not be discounted, that’s only one component of an engaged, productive and happy workforce.

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