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Halloween Fun Without Spooky Consequences

October 26 - Posted at 8:50 AM Tagged: , ,

Halloween may be the spookiest time of the year, but it doesn’t have to be frightening for HR professionals. Organizations can plan a fun event that is work-appropriate and accessible to all employees.

An office-based scavenger hunt is the favorite Halloween celebration to date for one company. The HR director remembers the scavenger hunt clues were Halloween-themed riddles and puzzles, and some employees dressed up and hid in broom closets to scare people. The scavenger hunt lasted 20 to 30 minutes, and the prize was a giant pumpkin head full of candy and a $100 gift card to Starbucks. 

Any Halloween event—whether in-person or virtual—should be voluntary. With that in mind, these tips and pieces of advice can help your group plan an event employees enjoy.

Avoid Costume Chaos

No court has ever ruled that a “Halloween defense” applies to a business facing a misconduct charge, so it’s necessary to provide guidelines for what costumes and conduct are and aren’t appropriate.

In today’s fraught political environment, even masks depicting our national leaders (of either party) are inadvisable costume choices, especially if one wishes to remain on good terms with co-workers. Employees should also refrain from sharing pics [over e-mail] of themselves in a questionable get-up. One quickly loses control over who sees them—ultimately leading to HR issues.

Keep it simple when reminding staff about costumes, but there is a tendency to over-complicate the message. A lengthy manifesto outlining what costumes are appropriate versus which are not, will likely go unread. 

Employees don’t have the attention span to read a lengthy e-mail like that. The better approach  is to let your employees know that Halloween costumes are fine, so long as they don’t violate the spirit or letter of your company dress code.

Tie It to the Times

At a company in Indiana, they are planning to resume the company’s long-standing dress-up tradition. The company set a COVID-19-related theme for Halloween this year. Staff members choosing to dress up must incorporate a mask into the costume. Remote employees have received special Zoom invitations to join in from home and are also encouraged to dress up. 

In the age of Zoom, it’s easy to involve remote workers in in-office events. Last year, the company encouraged remote employees to adopt spooky Halloween-themed backgrounds for Zoom calls, and that is continuing into this year.

Remote employees can decorate their home office with Halloween stuff, but the company also encourages them to use digital Halloween backgrounds for calls rather than the typical blurred background.

Make It Interactive

Events involving collaboration and teamwork provide the most employee engagement. Eliciting employees’ ideas for Halloween-themed advertising, packaging or window displays, or planning an outdoor scavenger hunt with clues related to the company’s history or products and services are often a hit.

It is prudent to avoid activities that include religious elements and anything overly terrifying.  Stay away from contests that involve physical contact, such as mummifying co-workers in toilet paper, as doing so can create potential COVID-19 as well as definite inappropriate conduct risks.

Give It a Halloween Twist

Dressing up is the first idea that comes to mind for Halloween celebrations, but the holiday is ideal for unique, creative themes. This year, a digital marketing agency is hosting weekly remote watch parties of Halloween episodes of iconic TV shows. The company also mailed acrylic paint markers to staff and encouraged them to paint a pumpkin and share their creations in Slack.

The company chose TV shows instead of movies because they’re shorter and more digestible. Employees can pop into the watch party around lunch, and it’s a fun time without distracting too much from work. They are also leaving space in the Friday companywide video call on Oct. 29 so employees can show off costumes.

Last year when business operations went fully remote, another company replaced its traditional costume dress-up with a “Crazy Hat” party. Employees came up with unique hat ideas showcased in a virtual event. This year the company is hosting a “Hocus Pocus”-themed event in which the remote employees can connect over Zoom or Skype.

3 Strategies to Help Your Remote Employees Battle Isolation

May 06 - Posted at 9:43 AM Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,

The sudden and prolonged isolation brought on by COVID-19 has greatly impacted the normal routines and activities of the entire workforce. While the ongoing vaccine rollout inspires hope for a COVID-free future, the emerging virus variants and the harsh winter weather experienced across the United States after over a year of social distancing have raised further concerns about employee mental health issues and engagement in 2021.  

As many employers continue to manage a partially or entirely remote workforce – some of which may shift to a permanent off-site or hybrid workplace model – they’re faced with the challenge of keeping employees connected. Since social health plays an important role in determining an overall sense of wellbeing and a large number of individuals aren’t socializing with coworkers, peers and friends like they used to, it’s important for workplace leaders to provide their people with opportunities to make meaningful connections. The wellbeing of your workforce depends on it.  

Offer Opportunities for Social Connections 

The mental wellbeing of your workforce is best supported by positive social interactions. Remote workers who have struggled with feelings of loneliness and social isolation are more likely to feel lonely, anxious and depressed, which is why it’s important for organizations to provide plenty of opportunities to engage with their co-workers. Encouraging employees to work together on collaborative tasks, scheduling weekly team meetings (they don’t have to focus on work!) and empowering employees to create and interact with interest-based groups within their digital wellbeing platforms are just a few easy ways to help your people feel connected. 

Prioritize Mental Health in the Workplace  

Providing employees with mental health resources is a must. Beyond offering up mental health benefits like mindfulness tools and live health coachingremote workers can also engage through activities like guided team meditation or virtual yoga sessions. According to MetLife, 79% of employees who report good mental health are less likely to feel detached from their organization. Additionally, 86% of workers who feel that they are mentally healthy are more likely to be productive at work. Rather than simply considering workplace mental health resources as an addition to an employee benefits package, putting an emphasis on mental health as a main component of company’s culture is an essential business move in 2021. 

Strengthen Remote Company Culture 

Countless employees are missing the bustling workplace environmentThe constant Zoom meetings and digital interactions lack the sense of social connectedness once accustomed toFinding unique ways to make regular meetings and virtual communication more engaging is critical for maximizing employee performanceCasual video chats and remote social happy hours are a great way to use technology as an advantage and initiate a stronger connection among employees while working remotelyAdditional ways to promote more social interactions among employees include scheduling group exercise breaks or starting a workplace wellbeing challenge. To ensure everyone is able to participate, consider designating employees who really know their way around the virtual world as leaders for a multigenerational workforce. By opening more channels of communicationthe remote work environment will improve for everyone and increase employee engagement as well as productivity.  

Around 66% of workers are struggling to stay socially connected, which is negatively affecting their wellbeing. Fortunately, by encouraging your remote workforce to prioritize their mental health and social wellbeing, organizations are likely to see a significant increase employee engagement and productivity as employee wellbeing improves.   

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