Requesting Time Off From Work

PTO (paid time off) days are a perk most companies offer , but be strategic on how you use your time and how you ask. When requesting time off from work, be aware of your supervisor and coworkers schedules, and keep in mind how it impacts your responsibilities when someone else is out on vacation. Being upfront and conscientious about requesting time off ensures that you and your colleagues are able to be comfortable with the time taken away from the office. Check out our top tips for what to do and what not to do when requesting time off from work.

Vacation beach with palm trees

1. Give Notice

Give your employer plenty of notice before taking time off. How much notice to give for PTO? That’s going to depend on your workplace, but a good rule of thumb is a minimum of 2 weeks notice if you’re taking 1-2 days and a minimum of 1-2 months for 3+ days. If you try to request off without much notice, chances are your request will be declined.

2. Request in writing

Speak with your manager first any time you are interested in taking time off. One you’ve had that conversation, be sure to formally submit your time-off request in writing or via email – a verbal request can easily be forgotten. At some organizations, employees can request time off via their payroll portal (ie. ADP or Paycom). Follow the protocols of your organization, but be sure to keep a copy of your approval in writing.

3. Be considerate of your coworkers

Try to plan your vacations, trips, etc. taking into account your supervisors and coworkers’ schedules to avoid taking time off at the same time as the rest of the office. No one wants to be at the office holding down the fort when multiple people are out on vacation. If at all possible, try not to overlap your vacations with those of your coworkers.

Another great way to make your time away go smoothly when requesting time off work is to provide a plan for how your responsibilities can be covered. Helping set your colleagues up for success while you’re away will make everyone’s lives easier and will give you the confidence that your work is being handled appropriately.

4. Medical appointments

Try to schedule any doctor’s appointments, etc. during your lunch break, or at the beginning or end of the day, so that you don’t need to miss much work. No one wants to use their precious vacation time for appointments if you can help it.

5. Sick time

If your sick days are separate from your PTO days, try to save your sick days for when you are actually sick – you never know when/if you will need them. If you have all of your PTO days combined, try to reserve a couple in case you get sick, so you won’t have to take leave without pay.

packing for vacation

6. When starting a new job

Don’t request a lot of time off within the first 3 months of a new job. If you have previously planned trips that fall within that time span, let your employer know when you are going over your offer. Also, it’s a good idea to review the company’s PTO policy since some companies have a waiting period before benefits such as PTO kick in.

7. Holidays

Don’t assume that you have all federal holidays off. Review the PTO policy and clarify which holidays are observed, and which are not. All companies are different and outside of the federal government, companies observe different holidays.

Below are some examples of an in person and emailed time off request.

Time off request conversation example:

Hi [Supervisor], would you have a moment to discuss a time off request? I have [number] PTO days, and am hoping to take [number] of days off for [reason for request] in [month]. Let me know what might be a good time to discuss this further and to get something on the calendar. Thank you.

Time off request email example:

Hi [Supervisor],

As previously discussed, I would like to request to use my PTO to take off from [Date] through [Date].
I have prepared some notes regarding any active projects, and would be happy to go through them with the team in preparation for my departure.
Please let me know if there is anything else I can do to ensure everything is covered in my absence.
Sincerely,
[Name]

Make Sure Your Employees Dress For Success

Man in business suit buttoning jacket

As the world finally gets some breathing room following the pandemic, many businesses are struggling to re-establish office routines. Whether it’s redistributing workloads due to staff shortages or setting policies for remote work, there are ample new or revamped workplace expectations that must be addressed to ensure a well-running business. 

One common issue employers are struggling with is the employee dress code. Regardless of what type of business you run, your workplace needs to have a strong policy in place for employee attire. 

Why? Studies show that employees gain more respect from both their customers and their peers when they are dressed in an appropriate manner. Thus, it pays to make sure that your employees are appropriately dressed for your business needs.

Read on to find useful tips and tricks to make sure your dress code is appropriate and successful. Also, you can jump ahead to see our sample dress code reminder email to employees

Find the right fit

An appropriate employee dress code doesn’t have to mean formal business attire. Rather, it requires clothing that is appropriate for the type of business being conducted. If you are an attorney meeting with business clients or making a court appearance, a suit is appropriate (and, in some courts, it’s mandatory).

Even in a more casual environment, a dress code is a must. Take the retail store for example. Virtually all stores have some sort of dress code for employees. For some, like a retail clothing store, the attire likely matches the type of clothes being sold. It’s entirely appropriate for a men’s high-end suit shop to require its employees to also wear suits to work every day. However, a casual clothing store may require employees to simply wear jeans and a button-down shirt. 

For many businesses, the most practical option is a uniform. Whether the uniform is provided by the employer or simply dictated by guidelines depends on the specific needs of the business. An upscale restaurant may require all employees to wear black pants and a solid color shirt, but not be exacting about the style as long as they match the atmosphere of the venue; whereas a ski resort may provide shirts, hats, gloves, and ski jackets with the resort emblem on them so that employees are easily recognizable. For some businesses, aprons or t-shirts with business logos may be the most appropriate employee dress code option. Regardless of the specifics, dress codes involving uniforms mean customers will have an easy time identifying employees when needed. 

Coffee barista wearing apron while arranging cups

Other businesses may have a more strict employee dress code on most days, but allow more casual attire under certain circumstances. For example, casual Fridays are popular among many businesses as a way of allowing their employees to unwind at the end of the work week. Companies where employees seldom have client interactions may permit a business casual dress code and require more formal attire only during client interactions or special presentations. Regardless of how you structure your dress code, just make sure that it is appropriate for your business.

Ease into it

Before you send a dress code reminder email to employees, you need to have an established dress code. If you haven’t previously had a strict or well-established dress code, don’t simply announce it one day and expect it to be immediately followed. Rather, take steps to ensure employee buy-in. Conduct a survey to gauge employee feelings regarding the implementation of a dress code. Be sure to ask questions that highlight potential reasons for establishing a dress code. For example, inquire whether employees have ever been asked, “Do you work here?” and how often. Or ask if employees see the financial benefit in being provided with a uniform that they don’t have to purchase. By phrasing questions in this manner, you’re giving them the opportunity to see the benefit of a dress code, as opposed to focusing on the potential burden.

Another important step is to announce your new dress code and ease into implementing it, especially if you are going from a casual environment to one requiring more formal attire. Your employees will need time to build an appropriate work wardrobe. Consider creating a trial period when the code is in effect but there are no consequences for failing to adhere to the specifics. This allows time for employees to familiarize themselves with the code specifics and gives them time to purchase new clothes, if necessary. It also forgives potential forgetfulness for tenured employees who are used to the old dress code. Once employees have had the opportunity to get used to the code, you can make it mandatory going forward.

The devil is in the details

Make sure your dress code is clear and unambiguous. To do this, give a written policy to all employees, and require them to sign an acknowledgment that they have received and understand the policy. And make sure it is always available in the same location at your office. Once they understand the policy, it’s reasonable to occasionally send a dress code reminder email to your employees.

Ensure your policy contains sufficient detail through the use of examples. Don’t simply state that your policy is “business casual.” Give specifics of what “business casual” means. Likewise, give examples of what is not appropriate as well. Include an FAQ section that you update regularly as questions arise. It is entirely likely that if one employee has a question about the dress code, others do as well. 

Communication is key

Just a Reminder  During business hours, Whitman Associates employees are expected to be dressed and groomed in a professional and businesslike manner to reflect our Washington, D.C. location. Furthermore, studies show that employees gain more respect when they are dressed in a professional manner.  We need to keep in mind what is appropriate for Business Casual when your particular assignment permits Business Casual. Business Casual wear is NOT the same attire one would wear for the weekend or at home.

Consider having a meeting to go over expectations and allow questions. During the meeting, explain the dress code in detail, and make sure your employees fully understand the reason for its implementation. Also, clearly articulate the consequences for failing to adhere to the policy. 

A successful dress code policy will require periodic reminders of what your code entails, why it’s important, and how to address questions your employees may have. Send out a quarterly email dress code reminder to all employees, and consider some sort of reward system for employees who consistently follow the code, even if it’s nothing more than a simple email thank-you note.

Here’s an example of a clear and concise reminder email: 

Just a Reminder

During business hours, Whitman Associates employees are expected to be dressed and groomed in a professional and businesslike manner to reflect our Washington, D.C. location. Furthermore, studies show that employees gain more respect when they are dressed in a professional manner.

We need to keep in mind what is appropriate for Business Casual when your particular assignment permits Business Casual. Business Casual wear is NOT the same attire one would wear for the weekend or at home.

Examples of appropriate Business Casual attire:

Slacks, i.e. khakis, dockers and similar slacks

Button-up or polo shirts

Blouses

Dress shoes (not flip flops, athletic shoes, etc.) 

Examples of inappropriate Business Casual attire:

Jeans Shorts

Leggings

Tattered, tight, skimpy or revealing clothing

Tank tops, halter tops, midriff shirts

Athletic shoes

Loose footwear, i.e. sandals, flip flops, etc.

Any questions about attire should be discussed directly with Whitman Associates. Remember, you will be treated with more respect when you are appropriately dressed. As always, thanks for your cooperation and help in this matter.

With a little planning and strategic implementation, your dress code will be a success for your employees and your bottom line!

Creating Your Ideal Work Environment

Most professionals who work full-time office jobs spend the majority of their week sitting at a desk or in a cubicle. For this reason, it’s important to have an organized work space that encourages good habits and helps you maintain a positive attitude.

This can be even more important with the rise of remote and hybrid work. The ideal work environment can be difficult to achieve if your “home office” is a corner of your dining table. Regardless of where you work, creating a clean, organized work space benefits both your productivity and your mood. Here are some of our favorite tips and tricks for creating your ideal work environment.

woman working home office

1. Stay Organized

A disorganized mess on your desk can lead your thoughts to also be disorganized. Having an organized workspace can help you keep your mind organized.

2. Keep a pen and paper handy

You never know when you might have to jot down a few notes, so make sure you always have a pen and piece of paper readily available.

3. Post some motivation on your wall

Remind yourself why you are working so hard. Posting a picture of your dream vacation location or some other goal that you are working towards.

4. Leave a stack of your business cards out

This won’t apply to everyone, but if you work on-site this is always a good rule of thumb. You never know when the new boss might swing by your desk or when a client might come visit, so always have your business cards the ready.

5. Stay Inspired

There are lots of different ways to stay inspired at work. For some folks, achieving work goals can be inspiring. For others, it could be pictures of a favorite place, an inspirational quote or message that you keep in your work space to help you maintain your positive attitude. If you don’t always work in the same place, be sure to personalize your desktop background so you can stay inspired wherever you’re working that day.

6. Avoid distractions

While a stress ball is okay to have in your desk drawer, try to avoid having too many little toys or other distractions around. Even the smallest of distractions can end up sucking up too much of your time. Another distraction to be wary of is your cell phone, it’s all too easy to check a notification, and end up scrolling. To keep yourself organized within your work space, consider putting notifications on do not disturb so you won’t be tempted during your workday.

7. Surround yourself with familiar faces

Put up a few pictures of your friends, family, or pets. Smiling faces will be guaranteed to boost your mood during a long day in the office.

Organized desk with notepad and plant

8. Include some nature

Keeping flowers or a small plant on your desk can help to connect you with nature while you are cooped up in your office all day. Also there are studies showing that plants can help boost your mood by releasing oxygen and can absorb toxins in the air. What better way to achieve an ideal work environment than to actually feel happier at work!

We hope these tips help you set up your ideal work environment whether you’re in an office cubicle, a coworking space or your home office!

Professional Networking on Social Media

Is Your Personal Account Really Separate from Your Professional Life?

It’s no secret that we live in the digital age. Well over half of the global population has a presence on social media, but many people believe that using social media professionally is totally separate from scrolling through your personal feed at home. For serious job seekers, though, social media for professional networking intersects with personal usage all the time.

A phone screen showing a few social media apps

Searchable Social Media Presence(s)

Even when you have your personal account set to private, certain pieces of data are still viewable. This includes your profile picture, how many posts you have, and how many accounts you follow. You—and potential employers—can tell a lot from a simple search.

In an article well before the pandemic, Forbes explained that “social media is a key player in the job search process today,” and “more than a third of all employers utilize these sites in their hiring process.” We can expect percentages to be much higher now, as employers and job seekers alike have grown more used to conducting business online and using social media professionally. The application of social media for professional networking is a common, even expected, facet of the workforce.

Employers commonly browse the social media of prospective employees, evaluating character and personality. This includes aspects such as whether the job seeker:

  • Maintains a standard of professionalism, including politeness and respect. For instance, a hiring manager may rule out a candidate if they see them make derogatory comments on Twitter. It’s best to always keep in mind that your social media is for professional networking, even when you think it’s a personal rant.
  • Seems like a good fit for the company culture. Companies often use social media as a tool for evaluating candidates’ behavior and preferences.
  • Has the qualifications appropriate for the position. Resume truth distortion is usually easy to spot through a quick social media search. Your presence on social media typically represents your actual employment and education history.
  • Demonstrates a genuine interest in and passion for their field. For example, a publishing company looking to hire a new marketing specialist will probably love seeing a candidate who has a clearly cultivated presence on Instagram where they review books.
A smiling woman seated at a table holding a notebook

Be The Best Version of Yourself

When considering your personal and professional social media, it’s most important to still be yourself online. When you try too hard to use social media professionally, perhaps liking every post from your dream employer, you may end up coming across as inauthentic.
Posting personal updates and pictures shows off your personality, but it’s best to consider a broad audience. The “Grandma Rule” is a good principle. If you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see it, don’t post it. Even if you have separate accounts, you probably have friends and family members following your professional account, or colleagues and classmates following your personal account. It’s best to assume that your coworkers will see your posts to err on the side of safety and professionalism.

The Connectivity of Social Media

It’s called social media for a reason. It’s fun to browse on TikTok or scroll through an Instagram feed, but even these platforms aren’t just or primarily for entertainment: social media is for professional networking. While LinkedIn is traditionally associated with networking, there are so many other ways to connect with peers, past employment sources, prospective colleagues and employers, and more. Connections across various social media presences often bridge the gap between personal and professional. Now, more than ever, we discover networking opportunities through our personal social media. 

Smart job seekers will maintain an active presence on social media, cultivating their participation to be both authentic and impressive. You can be the one to link others to prospective opportunities, like connecting a colleague with your own personal contacts, and see the same energy and benefit come back around to you. Through social media, you can make connections with people you would never otherwise know. There’s a potential opportunity for you to find your dream job through social media connections.

Use Social Media to Your Career Advantage

In conclusion, seeing your personal and professional social media presences as totally separate will not serve you well. Professional behavior matters everywhere. When you understand the intersection of personal and professional social media, you can use your presence on these platforms to your career advantage. Professional networking on social media is generally expected now, so don’t be afraid to try it.

If you’re ready to take your career to the next level, let Whitman Associates help you. We have contacts we would love to share with you. Simply email your resume to resumes@whitmanjobs.com to get started.

4 Disadvantages of Remote Working

The pandemic has changed many things about the structure of work within our society. Many offices adapted well to work-from-home culture, but others are experiencing difficulties. Whether it’s issues with collaboration or concerns about security, working from home comes with some serious hurdles for certain industries. Learn more about a few of the disadvantages of remote working and discover solutions to those disadvantages here.

1. Difficulty with Collaboration

With your employees spread all around the city or even the country, it’s a lot harder to get together for collaborative work. Sometimes, different time zones, technical difficulties, and distractions at home make finding meeting times that work for everyone a challenge. Working together over the phone or a video call is a communication barrier that can disrupt even the shortest conversation. Worse, it’s no longer possible to just walk to a coworker’s desk for quick answers! Instead, employees must opt for communication via phone, email, or office chat.

Resolving Remote Collaboration Concerns

This disadvantage of remote working is primarily due to a lack of a flexible, fast, and responsive communication platform. Since emails and phone calls aren’t as efficient or effective as talking to someone in person, teams need new tools to battle this disadvantage of telecommuting for work. Many companies are turning to file-sharing applications that already come with chat features for better communication with the team, including Google Docs and Slack.

2. Cybersecurity & Confidentiality

a woman working from a coffee shop

Even if your business doesn’t deal with proprietary or patented information, cybersecurity and confidentiality are still important. When most of your team is working from home, it can be difficult to ensure security when each individual computer needs additional antivirus software, VPN configurations, and extra firewalls. Even more challenging is providing security for employees who choose to work over public wifi, like those in coffee shops or shared workspaces.

Any confidentiality or security breach could be a potential disaster for your business. Whether it’s a non-employee overhearing a confidential discussion or seeing sensitive documents, or a team member accidentally downloading a virus, your business needs to plan for better security to mitigate the potential damage of this disadvantage of remote working.

Resolving Security Risks

One way to reduce your vulnerabilities is by storing all business data and files on a cloud management platform. Don’t let employees save important information on their laptop or home computer hard drive. You can also require that employees use VPNs when working and set up remote access to their computers in the office (if you still have a physical office space).

Regular security trainings are also an essential part of any company policy, even when working in an office. Cover typical phishing and virus scams they may encounter and educate your team on the importance of password hygiene, two-factor authentication, and the dangers of connecting to public wifi networks.

3. Inconsistent Access to Internet & Tools

Because employees are in their homes, they’re using whichever internet provider is available and affordable in their area. Unfortunately, there are significant disparities in high-quality internet access throughout the country, and a lack of reliable service is common in rural communities. This is a major disadvantage of remote working, as many people have subpar connection speeds and reliability. Even homes with decent internet connections may experience slow upload and download speeds when too many people are utilizing the network, leading to poor audio and video connections during video calls, issues with buffering, and slow loading programs.

Resolving Connectivity Issues

Your team needs access to the right technology in order to overcome this disadvantage of remote working. Bolster their internet connection with appropriate hardware, like ethernet cables, to support spotty wifi connections, and set up a remote helpdesk to deal with any IT issues that may crop up. A remote IT team trained in connectivity concerns has the power to support your teams if anything goes wrong. Make sure your IT team has a robust ticketing system and self-help SSO.

Counteracting this particular disadvantage of telecommuting may require an even bigger investment for some companies. Any team that needs to run heavy-duty rendering or editing software may need specialty computers that can process all that data. You may want to invest in additional computer hardware to outfit your team’s home office with better technology than they may already have.

4. Isolation

woman working from home

 Isolation is a much bigger disadvantage of remote working than people think – especially for those who live alone. Without frequent face-to-face contact, your employees could be dealing with chronic isolation and loneliness that lowers morale and productivity. When people work in an office, human interaction is necessary and built into the day-to-day routines. Employees interact in the hallways and breakrooms, the elevators and parking structures, and in various meetings throughout the day. They may also commune with others while on their daily commute at coffee shops, the metro, and restaurants. Working from home eliminates the potential contact with all these people!

Resolving Isolation Concerns

Regular check-ins with your team could go a long way to dealing with this disadvantage of remote working. In addition to conversations about current work tasks and projects, it’s important to also check in with your employees regarding their personal lives. There’s certainly no need to pry, but creating a space where your team members feel safe to express themselves if they wish to can help prevent frustrations and challenges from building up. This may be a new management style that requires a more personal touch, but it will help your team build higher quality connections, better communication, and more trust.

Will Your Office Continue Working From Home?

There are many other disadvantages of remote working, but some teams are rising to the challenge. This evolution in workflow, company structure, and technology has pushed many businesses to find innovative solutions that ensure they’re stronger and more sustainable. What about you? What will your company do to combat the disadvantages of telecommuting to ensure your success?

The 7 Biggest Hiring Trends in 2022

Current Recruitment Trends of Note

While hiring and recruitment have always been an evolving landscape, since 2020, the changes have been far more extreme and frequent. As companies and employees adjust to pandemic life, HR teams will continue to see a shift in the way they recruit, interview, and hire. With 2022 here, the team at Whitman Associates, Inc. has explored what your company should know about new hiring trends in the coming year. Check out this overview of the top seven trends your HR team should be ready to accommodate.

1. Economy Growth with a Constrained Labor Force

Economies are growing, but they’re facing the biggest labor shortage seen in decades. Despite inflation and rising costs of living, wages and working conditions aren’t always following suit. Some companies are working to correct this with higher salaries for all positions, but others are choosing a different path. One hiring trend includes companies relaxing their hiring criteria in an effort to attract more potential employees. Still, other companies are focusing on improving benefits with better perks, like student loan debt assistance, higher-quality health insurance, and additional paid time off.

2. Hybrid Work Environments

work-from-home setup

Most offices transitioned to a work-from-home model in 2020, but even with decreasing COVID cases, many have opted to continue operating remotely or adopt a hybrid approach. Some businesses are even using work-from-home as an additional incentive for potential employees! Many employees prefer working from home or a hybrid environment because it cuts their commute, reduces stress, helps them focus, and provides more flexibility to meet the demands of their job.

 Most interviewees are now expecting their preferences for the ideal office environment to become a regular part of the interview and hiring process. Hiring trends indicate the need to accommodate these preferences and provide better remote learning and working tools to ensure your workforce is happy, productive, and collaborative.

3. On-the-Job Training

This used to be a regular hiring trend in the pre-80s era, but at some point, employers started requiring new hires to already possess all the business-critical knowledge for their position. Because of the labor shortage and the need to hire less experienced employees, many businesses are reviving on-the-job training to ensure they can reskill and deploy workers across multiple teams and roles. Some companies prefer outsourcing the education of their employees, encouraging workers to find programs to enhance their education. Once employees find and apply for a specific program, employers may pay for all or some of it.

Those employers working internally to reskill their employees may have to face a few challenges, including deciding which skills are critical for team members to know, developing learning platforms and training modules for each skillset, and integrating new technologies to streamline the learning experience.

4. Internal Talent Marketplace

two people shaking hands

There is a current recruitment trend to promote from within the organization. So knowing which of your current employees are looking for a career change or wanting to transition to a different department is critical! Create a talent marketplace on an internal platform to ensure that everyone is notified when new opportunities open up within the company. You won’t have to worry about vetting external candidates when you’re choosing from a pool of employees that have already proven their reliability and performance.

 In the past, these career development hiring trends used to be standard, but many organizations have let these types of programs lapse due to a number of reasons, including lack of technology to update the database efficiently, an influx of top-quality external candidates, or minimal upward mobility within the work hierarchy.

5. Focus on the Employee Experience

The employee experience is a common term in corporate America that refers to keeping employees engaged and motivated, especially during challenging times. You don’t want essential people leaving because they feel they aren’t being treated fairly! Listening to your employees, identifying problems, and analyzing solutions is the first step towards ensuring you have a quality team that wants to stay put.

Don’t let frequent employee turnover become your next hiring trend! Instead, focus on ensuring your current employees are satisfied with their experience.

6. Refreshing Pay & Bonuses

growing money over time

Employers often try to cut costs by providing employees minimal pay raises and bonuses, but studies show that replacing disgruntled employees is actually more expensive than negotiating with your current team to reach a pay raise solution! Equitable and fair pay are among the most important hiring trends of 2022, and job seekers are more willing than ever to walk away from a position they don’t believe pays fairly. Even current employees are leaving long-held positions when they don’t get the recognition and reward they think they deserve!

 If your company wants to win the war for talent, you must focus on fair wages as a recruitment and reward strategy. This hiring trend isn’t affecting the corporate world alone — people in retail, hospitality, manufacturing, and more are all realizing that better wages are far more attractive than an endless list of benefits like gym memberships, ping pong tables, and weekly catered lunches.

7. Revamping HR Technology

Companies that have an internal HR team are finding that their old platforms just can’t keep up with modern recruiting and hiring processes. Your team has to stay up to date with what’s new in hiring trends — from technology to appropriate offers — to ensure they can outperform competitors who are hiring from the same pool. Some HR teams find it easy to rise to the challenge, but more and more companies are relying on staffing agencies to fill in the gaps.

What Changes Will You Be Making?

Are these current recruitment and hiring trends inspiring you to make changes in the way your HR team operates? Whitman Associates, Inc. can help you even more with hands-on support. Get in touch with us if you need assistance with temporary placement, permanent employees, and more!

5 Innovative Employee Retention Strategies

When you have good employees, you want to keep them motivated to continue working hard and going above and beyond your expectations. Still, you also want to make sure that they stay with your company instead of seeking a different position. If you’re looking for ways to ensure your employees view you as an attractive employer, Whitman Associates, Inc. recommends focusing on innovative employee retention strategies. Explore our top methodologies to improve retention and employee satisfaction.

1. Support Your Employees in All Areas of Their Lives

Work-life balance is becoming much more than just a meaningless buzzword that’s meant to make employees think that you care. In today’s work environment, it’s an innovative employee retention strategy to deliver on the promise of respecting an employee’s home life, mental health and responsibilities outside of work. Part of providing the balance your employees desire is supporting them in all areas of their lives.

Because many employers have transitioned to a remote office environment, the boundaries between work and home are muddier than ever. Make sure your employees feel like you understand their needs outside of the job, including childcare, mental health days, boundaries outside of work hours and financial support to improve wifi connections and home office requirements. Employees that feel that employers take their work-life balance into consideration are more loyal, perform better and stay longer than employees that feel unsupported.

2. Provide Attractive Career Paths

You want to improve retention, and employees want to grow their careers. Instead of letting them stagnate in a particular role, make sure you have measurable and variegated career paths that help all your employees grow. This is one of a few innovative employee retention strategies that may require a shift in the structure of your promotion process. Develop a realistic framework that helps employees in every situation thrive. Whether they’re working from home, transitioning to part-time work because of other life responsibilities or looking to fast-track their career, you need to create opportunities for everyone to grow at their own pace.

3. Adopting Flexibility

woman working on a computer

Workplace flexibility is quickly being adopted into the mainstream due to Covid. More people are working from home than ever! But, it might also be time to adopt schedule flexibility. Variable shifts and optional weekend work to cover days off during the week can help employees be more focused when they’re on the job because they’re not worried about conflicting schedules and responsibilities in their personal lives. Even more important are remote employees in different states and countries than your home office.

Split shifts and flexible scheduling are innovative employee retention strategies that could be the difference between being able to work part-time, full time or not at all! Some parents may appreciate being able to work around their kids’ schedules, and employees in a different time zone will probably be happier not having to work through the night just so their schedules align with local employees. Giving your employees more options is what really improves retention and ensures employee happiness.

4. Offer Meaningful Growth Opportunities

When asked why they left a particular position, the most common answer from employees is that they weren’t offered a clear path for career progression. From on-the-job training for higher positions and mentorships to leadership development seminars, your employees should be able to find everything they need to succeed within the company. 

And, once an employee has grown beyond their position, reward them with a promotion and a raise. Going outside the company to fill leadership positions reduces morale and makes employees feel like they’ll never get anywhere within your company. Instead, promote from within and watch as this innovative employee retention strategy increases morale and confidence in your current employees.

5. Respect Your Employees’ Viewpoints

Creating an inclusive workplace culture where your employees feel heard is an important and innovative employee retention strategy. Regardless of your own personal beliefs, create space for employees to feel safe expressing themselves in ways that are healthy, respectful and mindful of coworkers. You should also keep this in mind if you’re in charge of monitoring your company’s social media presence. Stay neutral around targeted or controversial issues, and keep your personal opinions separate from the workplace dialogue so you don’t inadvertently ostracize or offend any of your employees. 

What’s Your Strategy?

Do any of these innovative employee retention strategies sound like they would help you with your retention goals? If you’re not sure what would work best for your employees, you can also conduct a survey to ask what they want. Learn more about how to keep your employees happy, focused and working hard when you talk to them about their needs and deliver on their requests.

Strategies for Hiring Remote Employees

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the work environment has changed. Many employers are finding that allowing employees to work from home has many benefits. Whether it increases employee productivity or saves them money on overhead and other in-office resources, employers may want to continue hiring remote employees. 

If you’re an employer that’s just starting to explore the remote hiring process, you may need to change the way you normally look for candidates. At Whitman Associates, Inc., we can help you explore new hiring strategies that work best for remote job seekers. Check out what our staffing agency has to say about hiring remote employees.

1. Budget & Resources

From job boards and advertising to candidate assessment and external recruiting agencies, there are a number of costs associated with the remote hiring process. Make sure you’re setting an appropriate budget that takes your online needs into account. You may no longer have an office space where you can host interviews, so you should consider shared rental workspaces, offsetting phone interview-related costs and better internet connections for staff hosting video interviews.

2. Who Is Your Ideal Candidate?

While identifying your ideal candidate is an important strategy for all employers, operating in a digital space means you need to be even more specific about your candidate qualification requirements. Hiring remote employees means you may never meet a job seeker in person. How do you make up for the lack of in-person interaction to assess a candidate’s energy, personality and personability?

Make sure your job listing and application include formal qualifications, hard and soft skills, job-specific training requirements and information requests for prior work experience.

3. Niche Job Promotion

You want to attract quality candidates to apply for your job. While you can post on your social media platforms and on your website, you should also be using niche job promotion platforms to find job seekers who actually qualify for the position. Whether you use LinkedIn, Indeed or a staffing agency, make sure you’re filtering your job postings with as many specifics as possible.

4. Make Technology Work for You

Hiring remote employees means you’re already recruiting, assessing and interviewing online. Make every part of the hiring process more effective and efficient when you utilize all the available technology. Conduct virtual interviews, use learning management platforms for candidate screenings and streamline your entire process so that you can focus on better-quality candidates.

We Can Help

If hiring remote employees seems like a tough job, that’s because it is! At Whitman Associates, Inc., we can help you with any part of the recruiting process to ease the burden on your HR department and help you transition to a fully remote hiring operation.

Reach out to us today to learn more about what we can do for your company!

10 Qualities of a Good Employee

Every employer is looking for hardworking employees that they can count on to be long-term members of their team. If you’re trying to prove yourself as a valued employee, remember that there are some basic characteristics you can display to impress your supervisor and increase your job security. Consider these 10 qualities of a good employee and develop them for yourself to ensure employers see you as a valuable asset to their team!

Best Qualities for Any Job

There are many qualities that make a good employee, but these ten are the ones that employers always call out as the best qualities for any job. Take a look below. Do you have what it takes to be a model employee?

1. Attendance

Have good attendance. Be punctual and show up for every scheduled shift. If you have to call out, make sure you do it far enough in advance so that your employer can find someone to cover for you.

2. Dress Code

Dress appropriately for your work environment. Whether it’s dressing up for an important presentation or ensuring you look generally professional, your attire matters.

3. Attitude

Having a positive attitude about your job is one of the best qualities of a good employee. Always be polite to coworkers and supervisors.

4. Preparation

Being prepared for work every day is one of the best qualities for any job. Pay attention, take notes, and follow instructions carefully. Your preparation makes the difference between being proactive and being reactive!

5. Ask

Ask questions if you don’t understand an assignment. It takes less time to confirm the details of a task than to fix something that you messed up.

6. Expand Your Knowledge

Be open to learning new things, such as computer programs or the daily duties of a coworker. Take responsibility when you make mistakes throughout the learning process.

7. Teamwork

Be a team player. Collaborate with coworkers on projects, offer suggestions and be open to the advice of others.

8. Initiate Action

Take initiative. Go above and beyond your supervisor’s expectations and find work to do before you are asked.

9. Honesty

Employers are looking to build trust and loyalty. Whether you’re talking about availability, putting in a request for time off or confirming your expertise on a specific subject, your employer deserves your honesty.

10. Show That You Care

Learn about the history and mission of your company. Being knowledgeable shows that you care about your company and that you pay attention to what the owner is trying to accomplish.

Become an Asset to Your Company

Displaying these qualities of a good employee can change a temporary assignment into a permanent job, qualify you for a promotion or simply earn you the respect you deserve! It may also increase your own feeling of job satisfaction.

Are you ready to make these changes and improve your work environment? Take on these qualities of a good employee to transform your attitude!

How to Manage Remote Employees

work from home tiles

Tips for Managing Remote Teams

The pandemic has created a necessity for remote teams, but it can be tough to transition as an employer. Some offices are allowing employees to choose if they want to stay remote, which means bosses need to shift their management style permanently to accommodate the new work situations. Everything from your code of conduct to your office dress code could be changing!

As a team leader, how you manage remote employees requires a little more creativity and flexibility on your part. Learn everything you need to know about leading a remote team with advice from the experts at Whitman Associates, Inc.

1. Setting Expectations

If you haven’t already done so, setting expectations early and often is critical for how you manage remote employees. You need to set clearer boundaries and performance goals to ensure that you have measurable milestones of success. Outlining availability, updating your team on policy updates and setting guidelines for responding to after-hours communications can help your remote employees maintain their work/life balance wherever they are.

2. Organization & Flexibility

Another tip for managing remote teams is to reconsider your organizational structure and flexibility. Hiring remote means your team members could be in different states or time zones. How do you manage remote employees who don’t always work the same hours? Some ideas to ensure workflow and consistency include:

  • Managers on shifts to ensure availability at all times.
  • A core of employees who work in the same zone with a few out-of-hours team members.
  • Asking employees to work in a single time zone – even if they’re a few hours ahead.

3. Adapting Meeting Lengths

You might not have considered this when asking yourself how to manage remote employees, but things that work in the office don’t always work when you’re remote. Meetings are especially tricky when working remotely because employees are more easily distracted when they’re not there in person. Your team could be multitasking or not paying attention, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Avoid situations where employees can zone out by minimizing meetings, shortening necessary calls and using email communication more often.

4. Tracking Worker Progress

Many managers worry that just because they can’t see their employees, that work is stagnating. When you create schedules, deadlines and measurable goals, you’re giving employees structure and guidelines for their everyday tasks and providing managers with more subtle oversight tools that won’t make employees feel smothered. How you manage remote employees requires balance, trust and communication.

5. Better Communication

man and woman on a video call together

Emphasizing communication is one of our top tips for managing remote teams. Because you can’t just walk over to an employee’s desk to talk, virtual communication is more important than ever. Experiment with communication channels to find out what works best for your team. You have tons of options, including:

  • Email
  • Texts
  • Phone Calls
  • Intranet Channels
  • Video Chats
  • Internal Chat Tools

How you manage remote employee communication is up to you, but it’s best to choose a method your team will actually utilize.

6. Build Connections

Because working remotely essentially isolates your employees, networking within your work environment is more important than ever. Whether you open a fun chat for employees to share pet photos or reach out frequently to communicate positive feedback, building those interpersonal relationships will help employees bond and trust each other and you.

You can also schedule several team-building days throughout the year to provide employees with more opportunities to work together on fun, creative tasks.

7. Listen to Your Team

The most successful managers know when to listen to their team. One of our top tips for managing a remote team is learning to take feedback when it’s coming up the ladder. This is a new situation for them as well as you, and they could provide new perspectives and ideas that could help you do your own job better.

When you become a good listener, you’re also building more respect, trust, and communication with your team. Ask for feedback during meetings and create surveys to see where your leadership, organizational structure and workflow could use a boost.

8. Create Collaboration Opportunities

Because isolation is such a serious problem with remote employees, you should go out of your way to create collaboration opportunities on projects. How you manage collaboration with remote employees could include shared documents, collaboration in virtual environments, team-building exercises and in-person bonding.

9. Resist Micromanagement

You should be confident in your employees and trust their work ethic even if they’re not in a physical office. While regular check-ins are a great tool in how you manage remote employees, don’t breathe down their neck during every single task. Guidelines and work tracking can help you avoid micromanagement if you need updates on small tasks, but you should trust your employees to deliver. At the end of the day, the work will speak for itself, and you’ll be able to spot a slacker pretty quickly.

10. Reward Success

Because it’s harder to recognize great work for remote teams, you’ll need to make an effort to find more opportunities to reward and celebrate success. Consider staff highlights on the company website, shout-outs in the office chat and other public forms of recognition to ensure your employees feel seen and appreciated.

Need more tips to keep employees motivated? Check out our blog to find advice for employers and employees today!