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Ask Christi: On-site Day Care

Posted by Training Magazine on December 12, 2008

Dear Christi:

We have an on-site day care and parents usually go down on their lunch hour to check in, but I have a few staffers who go down every 30 minutes. How do I handle this? They are good employees and are productive but the purpose of on-site day care is for convenience not bonding. Any thoughts?
--Vivian, Fresno, CA

Dear Vivian,

Figuring approximately 15 minutes per visit and leaving every 30 minutes to visit could equate to 4 hours of lost work per day. That’s a lot of loss! You mentioned they are productive now, but think of how much more productive your department would be with that added time. 

First I would ask what is your company policy on the number of visits employees are allowed per day? If you have not developed a written policy for this, now is the time to do it. And while you are developing this policy, add in a section for flexibility. One option would be that if an employee wishes to visit over and above the amount allowed, each additional visit would add a set number of hours and/or minutes to that employee’s workday.

INCENTIVE online columnist Christi L. Gibson, the executive director of Recognition Professionals International, formerly known as National Association for Employee Recognition (NAER), has been with RPI since 2001, and has been published in newspapers and periodicals and interviewed on both ABC and FOX News. She can be reached via e-mail at [email protected].

Employees Walk Their Way to Higher Productivity

Posted by Alexandra Haake on December 04, 2008

A recent article on www.nytimes.com, describes a new phenomenon popping up in companies across the country: the emergence of the “work-walker.” Employees at companies including Humana, Mutual of Omaha, GlaxoSmithKline and Best Buy are infusing their workday schedule with a workout, often performing their work responsibilities while walking on a treadmill, using products like the Workstation. Endocrinologist, James Levine, from the Mayo Clinic, developed the treadmill-desk combination, which will cost a company about $4000 each.

Work-walking should really be categorized as a skill, perhaps even worthy of mention on a résumé?! Considering that the worker must master the art of multi-tasking—talking on the phone and walking, reading and walking, writing and walking, typing and walking, even performing quick maneuvers while striding backwards in order to talk to a colleague or boss. Although it sounds as if it belongs more appropriately in The Office and not the real-life workplace, the article sights that a work-walker can shed approximately 100 to 130 calories per hour going at speeds slower than two miles an hour. 

It is common knowledge that people tend to put on weight around the holidays. Between over-eating and stressing out about budgets and gift buying, the subsequent effects of weight gain ripple effect onto companies who often foot the medical bills if they offer employee health coverage. The popular medical online reference Web site, WebMD, cites that in a report published in Circulation, researchers from the University of California, San Diego and Tufts University Medical School found that the number of cardiac deaths is higher on Dec. 25 than any other day of the year, followed by Dec. 26 and Jan. 1. Undoubtedly, health coverage must be in full use around this time of year, much to the detriment of companies. So how would investing in a product such as the Workstation actually boost a company’s overall performance and lower their costs?

For one, employees who do not have the personal time, or who are somewhat physically lethargic outside the office, can accomplish two goals in one—exercising while working—and by some accounts, become even more productive.

The article notes that some walk-workers, such as Terri Krivosha, 49, a partner in the law firm of Maslon Edelman Borman & Brand, say that work-walking is particularly helpful because it improves attentiveness and concentration during conference calls. “Walking just takes care of the A.D.D. part,” Krivosha says in the article.

If a worker is more focused, productivity should naturally rise as well. If a worker feels physically healthy, this is likely to reflect on their attitude, enabling them to better focus on their work instead of being preoccupied with bodily insecurities or physical ailments. And finally, when an employee is content and in better physical form, in addition to being more productive, they are less likely to fall ill and need medical assistance, keeping costs down for the company in spite of a steep, initial $4000 investment for the workstation.

Going in Style

Posted by Training Magazine on December 02, 2008

By Margery Weinstein

As a journalist, I’m not used to traveling in style. Unless by 'style,' you mean a super-prime seat in ultra-luxurious coach, with a connection or two, and a sleepless red-eye flight thrown in about once a year for good measure.

So my latest journeys on behalf of Incentive magazine have been a revelation, and a relief. In our recessionary times, I expected to find travel no more indulgent than my usual “style,” and I had a fear that despite still sending workers on incentive trips as rewards for superior performance, companies were cutting back by cutting out the first class tickets. Well, I have to tell you, I hope it doesn’t come to that—no matter how financially life and death business gets. What’s an incentive trip, after all, if the journey to the destination is full of misery and woe?

Since misery and woe wasn’t what you were aiming for, I’d like to persuade you of the importance of comfortable transportation—as an integral part of every incentive trip.

I’ll start with my Oct. 15-23 trip to Britain. At first the scenario looked bleak. My press trip’s gracious organizers, Visit London and VisitBritain, informed me that I was booked on British Airways’ World Traveler Plus (fancy economy essentially) on the way there and just plain World Traveler on the way home, but that they had put me on the list for an upgrade. Accustomed, as all us peasants are, to over-booked flights, I held little hope of an upgrade. My negative attitude usually helps keep disappointment at bay on my travels, but this time it wasn’t necessary—I was upgraded both ways to the airline’s flat bed business class section. Given that my flight there was a red-eye with a (very) full next day planned in London, I was much better off than I would have been in an economy class seat (no matter how much better they are than our paltry U.S. airline coach accommodations). In addition to the novelty of being able to lie down (especially critical given that I still haven’t mastered the art of sleeping sitting up), I savored the warm chocolate chip cookies and whip cream-topped hot chocolate at bedtime. I could have opted for a more serious, adult meal of some kind of fancy salad-or-other, but thought the childish menu route more soothing. “Breakfast in Bed” the next morning got me off to a good start. I was still grumpy from spending the night in an airplane, but as I said, infinitely better than I would have been in more measly circumstances.

My argument on behalf of ultra-comfortable transportation on incentive trips isn’t limited to air travel, by the way. I also think, if you’re sufficiently impressed with an employee’s performance, to send him/her on an intended-to-be-indulgent trip, you ought to pony up the added cash for the best train seat possible when locomotive travel is part of the experience. In my (lucky) case, BritRail treated me to a first class seat on my journey from London to Manchester, which, as you can guess by now, I was extremely grateful for (partly, to be honest, because I needed the extra space to store my enormous suitcase). As it wasn’t a crowded train, I had a table and four seats all to myself!  And delightful men who periodically checked to make sure I didn’t want any tea, coffee, biscuits, or cookies. Sure beats our Amtrak, in which nobody ever offered me anything, let alone biscuits.

Beyond air and train, even common place car rides shouldn’t be common on a classy incentive trip. Instead of leaving me to languish in a sweaty, irritable cab line at Heathrow, for instance, Visit London arranged for Tristar Worldwide Chauffeur Services to pick me up (or “collect” me, as the Brits say). My driver not only deposited me safely at the London Hilton Park Lane, but acted, with no nagging from me, as a tour guide, even detouring at one point to show me Royal Albert Hall. Unfortunately (and this is embarrassing to admit, but all true), I was too lazy at the airport to exchange any portion of my modest allotment of American cash into British currency, so I wasn’t able to tip him. But, like a true sport, he didn’t complain.

Then, on my last day in London, to get me from the Hilton to Euston station for my train ride to Manchester, I was transported by the Green Tomato taxi service, a fleet of environmentally friendly Toyota Prius cars. They’re probably more comfortable than your average taxi, and for companies with corporate social responsibility initiatives about making the environment greener rather than even dirtier, it’s a nice addition to the schedule. It shows you’re so forward thinking and organized you’re staying on message even in the midst of indulgence.

Next, I have to tell you about my great Australian transportation experience—well, actually, New Zealand, if you want to be technical about it. On another press trip, from Oct .29-Nov. 5 to Sydney, I was treated to a flat bed on Air New Zealand’s Business Premier, complete with gourmet meals and wine, a personal entertainment system with my own television, and access to the Business Premier lounges in Los Angeles and Auckland, where we made a very comfortable connection onto Sydney (shopping included in the Auckland airport). The airline is promoting the fact that it offers connections to seven cities in Australia, and judging from the relatively good mood I arrived and departed from Sydney with, I’d say they’re entitled to do so.

Then, of course, you can’t neglect the off-the-beaten path transportation experiences that can be a nice added surprise to your group’s itinerary. That’s just what it was when I found myself on a Venice, Italy-style gondola boat on my way to lunch on the day of the Melbourne Cup horse race. A bus or car would have been more efficient, but the novelty (especially in Sydney) of a gondola boat ride spiced up our day, as did the helicopter ride we were surprised with in Queensland on our way from the Australia Zoo to the Spirit House Thai restaurant. 

It’s like I always say: If you’re going to go, go in style.