August HR News Roundup

Mom working remotely on her laptop

Our August roundup of HR news covers a unique employee onboarding technique, the concept of working from anywhere, the elusive free food, and more. Read on!

Onboarding via Book Club

When you think of onboarding, does the typical overview of the employee handbook, benefits, and important policies come to mind? At MBX, a computer hardware manufacturer, they’re breaking the mold with an onboarding book club. New employees get a copy of The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter, by Michael D. Watkins, prior to their first day; then, they participate in three monthly discussions. The benefits are twofold. “As employees become more comfortable interacting with group members, it leads to easier interdepartmental communication going forward,” said MBX president Chris Tucker. And it isn’t just for new employees — anyone can rejoin after a promotion or switching departments.

Should Employees Be Able to Work from Anywhere?

WFH (work from home) may be the gold standard. But according to Harvard Business Review, WFA (work from anywhere) is a growing trend. “It’s a significant difference,” wrote the authors about geographic flexibility. “While a WFH employee can choose to pick the kids up from school or spend lunch hour walking the dog, a WFA employee can do all of those things and also relocate closer to aging parents or to a location with a lower cost of living.” Whether you’re all for remote work or you’re worried about employee productivity, keep HBR’s recommendations in mind as you set related policies — give employees the autonomy and flexibility they need, ensure everyone uses the same IT tools, encourage employees who WFA to meet up with colleagues in their geographic area, and more. 

Boosting Collective Intelligence

How can you create a culture of collaborative innovation? Harvard Business Review says there’s a formula. First, communication needs to be consistent — use simple uniform questions that everyone has to answer, such as, “How is it done today, and what are the limits of the current practice?” and “Who cares? If you are successful, what difference will it make?” This can help organizations move forward with good ideas for new concepts. Next, ideas should be vetted and refined constantly, as opposed to a few times each year. And finally, leaders should make it a point to remove any obstacles in the way of innovation and provide the necessary resources. “An innovation prediction market makes many small bets on new ideas at early stages, only a few of which will pan out after intensive collective vetting,” wrote the author. “In doing so, nimble companies aggregate the intelligence of their workers to better predict future success, and act to make that future real.”

“Free Food” — The Phrase They Long to Hear at Work

Does your organization host bagel Fridays? Do you have kitchen cabinets stocked with snacks or weekly fresh fruit deliveries? There’s no doubt about it: employees love free food. And according to Employee Benefit News, if employees go just five hours without eating, it can ignite their hangry side…and even make them feel sick. Supplying food or snacks can help — in many different ways. When employees interact with each other while they’re eating, they’ll build relationships and strengthen the overall company culture. You’ll have the opportunity to bring in ethnic foods and promote diversity. And it can even help you increase productivity — employees who used to leave during their lunch break might grab a bite in the office instead. Just make sure you’re offering healthy options, and be calorie-conscious. 

Beating the Sunday Scaries

If your employees have a weekly case of the Sunday scaries — anxiety about Monday and the week ahead — it’s likely affecting your culture, engagement, and more. How can you help? HR Dive says to focus on the following five things. Start by evaluating workloads — your employees might be overwhelmed. Make sure work-life balance exists by allowing employees to disconnect in the evenings and on weekends; similarly, empower them to take vacations and time for themselves. Set goals and priorities so everyone knows what to focus on. Encourage employees to take advantage of wellness programming in the office, and try to make everyone smile on Mondays with a beginning-of-the-week breakfast treat.

Written by: Jeannie Krill

August 29, 2019

About the Author

Jeannie Krill at Bright Horizons

As a former Bright Horizons preschool teacher, Jeannie has seen what child care means to clients firsthand. She also offers a view from the Millennials camp, cluing us into what’s challenging today’s largest demographic, and what they really want. She holds a BA in Psychology from Valparaiso University.