All entries tagged with “holidays”

How to Reduce Liability at this Year's Holiday Party

Holiday parties are a prime way to boost morale and team work in the office. One key component of most parties, however, is alcohol. A 2012 survey found that 61 percent of organizations plan to serve alcohol at their holiday parties, and of these organizations – only half plan to regulate alcohol consumption – leaving a big hole for employer liability.

According to the survey, celebrations held away from the office, which account for 70 percent of functions, boosts the chance of intoxication and employee misconduct. How can you prevent harassment and intoxication within your team this year?

57 percent of companies plan to use drink tickets to limit employees on their alcoholic intake, while other companies are resorting to only serve certain types of alcohol (42%) and even a cash bar (25%). To avoid these last minute restrictions, one-third of all organizations have a formal or informal policy that allows and limits drinking at work-related events.

The Risks

While employee parties are often a good and fun treat, there are laws that cover employees from some negative situations that often arise (consider harassment and potentially illegal employee conduct). Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 covers employees in environments where 15 or more employees (including regular part-time ones) are gathered. For conduct to be considered unlawful under the Title VII, the conduct must be unwelcome; and the conduct must be sufficiently severe or pervasive. One single, extremely serious incident of harassment at an office party, may leave the organization open to a Title VII claim.

Also, consider the dangers of drunk driving liability. A California appellate court found an employer liable for a DUI accident that left one dead after an employee left a holiday work party at which they consumed alcohol. “It is irrelevant that foreseeable effects of the employee’s negligent conduct (here, the car accident) occurred at a time the employee was no longer acting within the scope of his or her employment,” the court ruled.

How to Limit Liability

Employers should consider taking the following steps to limit their liability while still hosting fun, morale-building festivities this season:

  • Have a comprehensive, written anti-harassment policy stated clearly in employee handbooks.
  • Before the event, send an email to all staff members attending reminding them to act responsibly at the party and clearly state the zero-tolerance for inappropriate behavior.
  • To avoid suggestive attire, enforce the company’s dress code.
  • Make it clear that attendance at the party does not impact the person’s standing at the company – allow attendance to be at free will.
  • Set a tone of moderation regarding alcohol consumption. Stress that excessive alcohol consumption will not be tolerated.
  • Limit the number of drinks, or length of time during which alcohol will be served. Provide substantial non-alcoholic alternatives.

Should an employee or coworker become heavily intoxicated or noticeably drink too much, offer them a ride home in a taxi or, so long as you have not been drinking, drive them home safely. 


'Tis the Season: Holiday Season Productivity Tips

We are officially in the midst of the holiday season, which means that the art of balancing the stress of gift giving and entertaining with life at the office is being tested. According to the American Management Association, about two-thirds of 600 full-time employees surveyed said they experienced stress during the holiday season. 44 percent of executives similarly say productivity decreases during the holiday season. Workplace consultant Anne Grady says that employee frustration doesn’t come from having too much to do, but rather from unclear expectations. So how can we balance work and play this holiday season? Here are just a few tips:

1. Know and Balance Your Stressors

One of the biggest problems with the holidays is an overload of personal to-do lists interfering with the growing office to-do list. If you’re having a panic moment, regroup and make a list of what takes priority. Dedicate specific times to get your to-do list done and keep your work and personal list separate.

2. Get Flexible At Work

Employers can help boost productivity during work hours by compromising. Understanding the needs of employees can create a better environment and boost numbers over the holiday season. Managers should consider easing up on restrictions during this time of the year, offering incentives for good work and should the question arise – beware of opportunities to work from home. While groveling employees may be a temporary hassle, it’s worth it to keep customers happy.

3. Coordinate Calendars

This is optimal time for PTO. Beware that you don’t cut yourself short in the office by being too vacation happy. Make sure that calendars are aligned and the team understands the needs of the workplace in terms of absences and vacation days. Keep a shared calendar so that if there are any discrepancies – you don’t corner yourself too late.

4. Don’t obsess about hours

You’ve set a plan, you’ve set time off dates, and you’re giving your employees some leg room. Don’t stress about employees taking an extended lunch break or coming in a few minutes late, just be aware of their deadlines and work. If employees are not getting their work done, regardless of their time in the office, you will know and be able to act accordingly.

5. Relax!

Tensions in the office this season will show in your customer appreciation. Relax and remember now is the time to be grateful and enjoy your company and work friends. Setting a healthy environment is key to a positive holiday season.


Corporate Holiday Party Ideas

According to Punchbowl, a web-based party planning company, nine out of 10 companies host a corporate holiday party. Choosing a venue, activity and entertainment all adds up in time and costs, here are a few tips from the Forum Team on how you should celebrate this year.


Keeping Employees Motivated This Holiday Season

The holidays are quickly approaching, which means that a lull in the office may lead to an unproductive period for employees. It’s no secret that the holidays draw extra stress for employees who are distracted by shopping lists and bills – so how can you instill a sense of motivation among your employees this season?

According to ISACA, a non-profit association, employees plan to spend nearly two full working days (14.4 hours) on average shopping online from a work computer or device this winter. One in 10 employees plans to spend at least 30 hours shopping online at work. This degree of unmotivated staff can cost your business $27,000 in staff turnover.

Research shows a motivated worker is sixteen times more productive than an unmotivated worker, so here are several ways to keep morale high over the holidays and improve employee productivity.

  1. Take advantage of a lull in the workplace by implementing personal development training. Use this time as an opportunity to learn from management levels of staff using role play and sharing skills. Encourage employee-to-employee training!
  2. Be realistic with your goals. Set goals for December only so outcomes don’t get lost and employees don’t get disheartened.
  3. Some employees may take long vacations over winter time, leaving a missing gap in the workforce. This is a prime opportunity to get a staff member to fill in and learn new skills.
  4. Creativity always kick starts the workplace. Consider a competition for the most creative out of the office message and encourage holiday decorating for a positive work culture.
  5. Welcome flexibility over the holiday season. Employees will naturally have distractions during this time, by being more flexible and understanding, you will encourage them to stay focused on work while in the office.

Remember, a motivated employee is 16 times more productive than an unmotivated worker – so encourage your team to stay in the game this holiday season. Celebrate their success and commitment to work with a holiday party and a big thank you!

How do you keep your staff motivated over the holidays?

Need some bright ideas to celebrate with your team this holiday season? Visit our blog, here. 


Holiday Checklist for Contact Centers


According to studies, sales increase by 40% over the holiday season, making it a prime time for customer service from website sales to customer support. Even though demand is high, customers still expect their calls to be answered and problems to be solved. Here is a simple checklist to help your call center prepare for the holiday stress.


  1. Plan for the best, expect the worse. It’s expected that over the holiday season, customers will come to you aggravated, whether it be over a delayed package of a defective product. Tensions are especially high during this season, and so to ensure customers remain happy, prepare your representatives with credits, discounts and free product to keep customers happy when necessary.
  2. Hire representatives who engage and connect. People connect with people, and sometimes the right candidate is worth waiting for. As Jim Collins says in his book Good to Great, get the right people on the bus, and then find the right seats for them. The best representatives have an interest in their products. Take the time to screen candidates well in order to create a team of representatives that will help solve a customer’s problem in the first interaction, leading to happier customers.
  3. Hire early and hire many. Call center strategists advice hiring in September for the holiday season. According to a study by Vcare, out of every 50 interviewees, 10 representatives will fit your culture. Additionally, they recommend hiring 30% more representatives than you need, recognizing that some may drop off.
  4. Stay in touch with past potential hires. Keep tabs of everyone who has shown interest in employment with your company. Having a pipeline of candidates allows you to hire speedily when volumes increase.
  5. Train Innovatively. During the holidays, you may need a face turn around for new hires. Consider creating a more engaging and innovative training program developed specifically for the holiday season. Use role play, replicate real-life problems, make policies and procedures visual opposed to a lecture-based training course.
  6. Monitor, monitor, monitor! With an increase of representatives, the strain on management is also increased. Be sure to monitor phone conversations, emails and chats with customers to ensure quality does not become diluted.

Use these tips as a guide to succeed this holiday season – and remember to incorporate joy and spirit in all of your interactions this season!


Conserving Energy at Your Facility this Holiday Season

Over the winter holidays, the UGA Facilities Management Division works hard to reduce temperature settings and shut down unneeded heating and cooling systems, contributing to the $100,000 cut back in operating costs each year. Here are several tips on how you can conserve energy at your facility during the holiday season:

Turn Off the Lights
Make sure all lights are turned off when not being used. Make your staff accountable for this move and make a facility-wide effort to turn off the lights when leaving an unoccupied room.

Unplug & Conserve!
Even when electrical equipment is turned off, if it is still plugged into an outlet, it is drawing electric. Turn off equipment when it is not in use.

Use timers for equipment that can be turned off
There’s nothing wrong with using resources! Consider installing timers on equipment that can be shut off on evenings and/or weekends without affecting patient care. Also, check your current equipment for built-in power-saving features.

Encourage task lighting, rather than overhead lighting
During after hours, encourage patients and their visitors to use task lighting, rather than full, overhead lighting. This prevents after hour activities from bothering other patients and lowers energy usage.

Using this advice, Ridgeview Medical Center (RMC) was able to decrease energy use by 6 percent in just 15 months, admitting that the first few quarters of the trial they saw only minimal or negative change.

                                                            


Avoiding Holiday Fire Hazards

With Halloween checked off the calendar and Thanksgiving quickly approaching, the holiday season is in full swing. Decorating this season could put your facility at risk for potential fire hazards. To prevent tragedy, follow these tips for fire safe decorating.

Interior Decorating Safety Tips:

  • Use fire-retardant decorations. Flame-resistant material must not exceed 10% of the aggregate area of walls and ceilings.
  • Be aware of your decoration placement. Avoid combustible decorations concentrated in one area on a wall to prevent rapid fire growth.
  • Crepe-paper and pyroxlin plastic decorations must be documented as fire retardant.
  • Do not place natural cut trees in facility.
  • Artificial Christmas trees must be effectively flame-retardant treated and placed away from heat vents, fireplaces and sunny windows.
  • Do not use extension cords, circuit breaker power strips are recommended for a safe electrical power source. Do not connect one power strip to another power strip.
  • Do not light candles indoors.
  • Pre-test lights that are UL listed. Plug them in for 15 minutes before decorating, then check for excessive heat or damaged wiring.
  • Check your lights for cracked or frayed wires and loose or broken plugs.
  • Avoid overloading light strings. Do not connect more than 200 miniature lights or 50 large lights together. Small lights are safer because they produce less heat.
  • Turn off and unplug lights at night. Grasp the cord by the plug; never pull on the cord itself.
  • Do not block exits or fire pull stations with decorations or Christmas trees.
  • Do not hang decorations on light fixtures, smoke detectors or sprinkler heads.
  • Decorations on doors should not prevent their function or cover the identifications as the means of egress.


Outside Decorating Safety Tips:

  • Do not use indoor lights for outdoor decorating. Be sure to check the label on the box to see if the lights are for indoor or outdoor use.
  • Limit the use of heavy duty extension cords.
  • Be sure extension and light cords do not create a tripping hazard.
  • Turn off and unplug lights at night.
  • Do not block the exit discharge with holiday decorations.

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