Atterro Blog

Top 7 Recruiting & Retention Trends to Watch in 2018

Top 7 Recruiting & Retention Trends to Watch in 2018

With record low unemployment rates and multiple options for employment, the war for talent continues to intensify.  The job market is very near what economists call full employment – that is, most of the unemployed workforce is in between jobs. In this environment, finding – and keeping – qualified workers is a challenge.

To remain competitive, successful employers are embracing the following seven trends:

1. Candidate experience

Top hiring managers understand that while they are interviewing the candidate, the candidate is also interviewing them. “Selling” the job opportunity – including the growth, innovation, and excitement that your organization has to offer – has become one of the most important parts of the interview process. Build a rapport with candidates (woo them) and maintain consistent communication.

2. Shorter hiring processes

Time is the fastest way to kill a deal. Employers must be prepared to act quickly when the right candidate comes along. According to our annual employer survey, 59 percent believe the hiring process (from first interview to job offer) should last seven days or less, and 24 percent lose interest when faced with a long hiring process.

3. Leadership training & development

Internal leadership development is crucial to success. As budgets tighten, it’s also often one of the first things to get cut. Investing in your leaders is an investment in your entire workforce.

4. Transparency

To become a top employer, you need to take an honest assessment of your company culture. Even if your culture isn’t where you want it to be, start working toward your goal and be open with candidates and employees. Build trust by being transparent and encouraging your employees to voice their opinions and ideas.

5. Job perks

In addition to standard benefits packages (medical insurance, retirement plans, etc.) employees want to feel respected and recognized with incentives and perks, including flexible schedules, bonus opportunities, training, long-term career planning, and fun company-sponsored events.

In our annual talent survey, the following perks were ranked as follows:

  1. Flexible work schedule or compressed work week
  2. Liberal paid time off policies
  3. Remote work location
  4. Continuing education opportunities
  5. Recognition programs
  6. Paid fitness memberships

6. Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a rising trend in the world of recruiting and is quickly moving from experimentation to expectation. It is not replacing the need for recruiters, but is instead reducing the “grunt work” and freeing recruiters to focus on interviewing and closing job offers. AI has been used to:

  • Identify the best candidates from a large applicant pool
  • Schedule interviews
  • Communicate with candidates
  • Measure staffing KPIs, such as quality of hire

7. Competitive Wages

With the increasing demand for company culture and employee perks, it’s easy to lose sight of the importance of competitive pay. Salary still trumps benefits. Many employers are increasing pay rates to attract and retain the qualified talent they need.

To hit the “salary sweet spot,” follow these steps:

  • Review salary surveys. Choose a reputable source that adjusts rates for your area.
  • Check supply/demand reports. When demand outweighs supply, you need to adjust your job offers accordingly.
  • Find a local expert. Partner with Atterro to set salaries that will meet or exceed other employers in your area.

Remember, it will likely cost more to replace a good employee than to offer the pay increase you may be hesitant to give. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, replacement costs can reach as high as 50-60% of an employee’s annual salary, with total costs associated with turnover ranging from 90-200% of annual salary.

There you have it! Seven trends impacting employers of all types and sizes. Luckily, Atterro is here be your resource as you plan staffing budgets, set salary levels, and build and retain an engaged workforce in 2018. To learn more about these trends and receive your copy of our 2018 Salary Guide, contact us today!

New Year’s Resolutions Aren’t Just for Your Employees

New Year’s Resolutions Aren’t Just for Your Employees

Many companies claim to be great places to work. But if you were to ask those on the inside, the reality is quite different. In the process of doing business, something (or should we say someone?) gets neglected: employees. People sometimes feel unnoticed or left questioning whether they have a future at the organization.

As we welcome in the New Year, the time couldn’t be better for employers to set some resolutions around retention and recruitment. After all, employees are busy making a few of their own, and one resolution in particular could have quite an impact on business. Sixty-two percent of workers made plans last year to change their professional lives, and those changes included both finding a new job and embarking on a new career.

The point is, you have an opportunity to make sure your best employees don’t follow through on these resolutions by resolving to set your own. And the following cultural shifts can often help ensure that your company gets off to an even better start this upcoming year:

1. Resolve to challenge employees.

Chances are, your best employees want to remain challenged by their work. Review the responsibilities of your most treasured associates and make sure you’re providing them enough opportunities to grow in their careers. When people begin to feel like they’re no longer moving upward, you run the risk of them moving onward. If you are not in a position to promote, look for opportunities to engage employees in task forces and other special projects.

2. Resolve to believe in the potential of others.

Your authority puts you in the unique position to influence how employees see themselves. And if you express your belief in the potential of their success, they’ll often meet — if not exceed — your expectations. As you challenge your employees, make sure you remind them why you believe they can do it.

3. Resolve to develop their potential.

People perform best in workplaces conducive to growth. In fact, your best employees will want to improve their knowledge and skills. Sit down with each member of your team to develop plans to help them to grow this year. Just make sure to always include them in the process, so they feel in control of their futures.

4. Resolve to offer your support.

Employees will go the extra mile for leaders who’ve got their backs. Make sure your staff understands that failure is inevitable and a necessary part of growth. If they make a mistake, don’t be overcritical. Instead, stress that it’s another opportunity to learn and that you still see great things for them in the future.

5. Resolve to offer more feedback.

Leadership often gets so caught up in the day-to-day responsibilities and forgets to offer enough feedback to employees. Feedback being one of the strongest tools to get better results; you’re actually doing your company a disservice by staying silent. Constructive feedback can be a positive motivator for employees.

6. Resolve to share your mission.

Startups often have the luxury of a staff that’s not just connected to but inspired by the company’s mission. As an organization grows, that mission can get further removed from those who make it possible. Communicate to each team member how his or her role contributes to achieving the company’s goals.

7. Resolve to embrace differences.

Diversity in the workplace is great, but it won’t do your company much good if everyone feels the need to conform to some arbitrary norm. Take a real look at what it takes to succeed in each role, and guarantee that success is about talent and skill — not the ability to just go with the flow.

8. Resolve to foster a work-life balance.

Many people don’t use their vacation — nor do they take evenings or full weekends off. The reason? They don’t feel like their workload allows it. If you make sure employees take advantage of all the benefits that come with employment, they’ll be much more rested, productive, and less likely to burn out.

9. Resolve to recognize and reward.

If you’re not in the habit of recognizing people for their efforts, now’s the year to start. Use a team meeting or group email to thank a team member for a job well done. But don’t stop there; reward those who succeed by giving more autonomy over how they get their jobs done.

10. Resolve to compensate.

Many employers operate under the assumption that pay doesn’t matter — as long as the workplace offers their employees plenty of perks. Pay matters more today than ever. By keeping pay ranges competitive, you’ll put your company in a much stronger position to retain and attract prized talent.

It’s a proven fact that happy employees are more simply productive than those just satisfied with their jobs. And along with this increased productivity, a happy workplace can often lead to greater job satisfaction, higher engagement, and less absenteeism — which, in turn, can result in higher profits for your company. So, really, your New Year’s resolution to improve culture impacts you (and your business) most of all.

We’re here to help with any staffing-related New Year’s resolutions you may have. Connect with us today to see how we can help make 2018 your best year yet!

Your New Year’s Resolution: Find a New Job

Your New Year’s Resolution: Find a New Job

According to a recent report on current job trends, more than 6 million positions are still waiting to be filled. If you’re among the 62 percent of people who are planning to make a professional change this New Year, there’s no denying that the odds are in your favor.

What’s more, a large spike in people looking to change careers tends to generate turnover, which creates even more job openings. Companies will be on the look out to fill not just these vacant slots but the ones that remain unfilled from before, bringing about an even more robust job market.

So with conditions being so inarguably good for finding new employment, you may be wondering how to make it happen. The following tips are often a good place to start:

1. Make the most out of your current position.

We all fall into patterns at work, which can make our jobs seem less than desirable — “seem” being the operative word here. Not that we’d ever tell you to stay in a job you hate, but a change in your perspective could provide insights into what your current employer might have to offer.

Would a new position make you feel differently about the organization? What about some new responsibilities? Stepping outside your comfort zone may not only lead to a renewed commitment to your employer but expose you to tasks and projects that expand your skill set, making you more marketable to other companies.

2. Map out a job search strategy.

A job search is sort of like a road trip. You won’t as easily get to your destination without a map, and a job search strategy will serve as such. Look at your schedule to find chunks of time to devote some attention to the process. Blocking off a couple hours here and there can often help you make some headway.

If you’re extremely busy, it might be beneficial to sort the process into more manageable categories. For example, devote an hour on Mondays for looking at the job boards, and set aside two hours on Wednesdays for sending off emails and applications. Then, pencil in Thursdays for any follow-ups from the week.

3. Put yourself out there.

People won’t know you’re looking for a new job unless you tell them. Reach out to your network. Connect over coffee or lunch. But don’t make the meeting about you. Ask them questions about their lives. Eventually, the conversation will turn to what you’ve been up to, presenting the perfect opportunity to discuss your job search.

And don’t assume that the only contacts who can help you are those that can offer you a job. Talk to everyone in your network. You never know which person will connect you to the employer waiting for someone like you. Besides, each meeting will serve to strengthen your professional relationships — relationships that may be of benefit later on.

4. Get organized.

Keeping your resume up to date is a good habit to get into. It’s much easier to add accomplishments and responsibilities at the time than to go back a year or two later when your memory is a little foggy. You’ll also want it handy just in case someone in your network contacts you out of the blue with a job opportunity.

But your resume isn’t the only item that probably needs some revisions. Review your social profiles to ensure they’ll pass the muster. After all, 70 percent of employers use social media to screen talent. Clean up your image on Facebook, Twitter, etc. And while you’re at it, give your LinkedIn page the onceover to ensure it compliments your resume.

5. Look when you’re not looking.

Not everyone can devote enough time to a job search to make the progress they want — even with a job search plan. That’s why many jobseekers passively look for jobs by working with a recruiter. If an opportunity crops up, they almost immediately hear about it from someone with connections at the employer.

Plus, more and more companies are opting out of job boards, going directly to staffing agencies instead. When working with a recruiter, you gain access to jobs you’d never hear about otherwise. You’ll also have the chance to work with someone who can refocus your resume and make you more desirable to employers.

6. Go social with your search efforts.

You may be surprised to learn that you cut down your chances of finding a job when not on social media — what with 79 percent of people using Facebook and LinkedIn in their job search. In fact, 93 percent of companies use LinkedIn to find and hire talent.

But don’t just set up an account and expect the offers to come rolling in. Reach out to your connections — and your connection’s connections — on the platform. Second- and third-degree connections can often lead to job referrals. And a study of Facebook users shows similar findings on this platform as well.

7. Prepare for your performance.

Talking about yourself isn’t always easy, and you may be left a bit tongue-tied when trying to remember examples of past accomplishments off the top of your head. Practicing aloud can help. It’ll ensure you make the best possible impression when speaking to your experience, skills, and interests.

Before applying for a job, take some time to work up potential interview questions. Then, practice your answers either by yourself or with a trusted friend. You’d be surprised how much more relaxed you’ll feel when you finally sit down with a recruiter, hiring manager, or whoever else can offer you a job.

If you’re considering changing jobs or even switching careers, let us know. A member of our team would be more than happy to meet with you and explore all the opportunities available to someone with your unique background and experience.

Let’s Take a Look Back at 2017

Let’s Take a Look Back at 2017

Happy New Year! How was 2017 for you? What goals did you reach? We encourage you to take stock in all that you accomplished – both individually and company-wide. Upon reflecting on the last year (our 35<sup>th</sup> year in business), we put together a highlights video – and we want to share it with you!

As you’ll see, there was a lot to celebrate this year. We look forward to making 2018 even better!

How Volunteering Can Help You Land You a Job

How Volunteering Can Help You Land You a Job

Volunteering helps non-profit organizations deliver their mission to improve the community. In turn, it helps you feel useful and productive, thus improving your confidence and self-worth. Making a difference in the lives of others is rewarding and life-changing.

The following are some of the many reasons you should consider donating your time – for your community and your job search:

Test out other careers.

One of the more attractive facets of volunteering is the opportunity to explore different careers. You get to try various jobs on for size, meet people in different industries, and experience the challenges and rewards of the work.

If the responsibilities that come with the volunteer opportunity spark your interest, you could always parlay that into a career in an entirely different field or industry — one that’s different then your background and education, even.

Develop new skills.

There’s no shortage of nonprofits in every city, and their services run the gamut from ending homelessness to combating childhood obesity. In other words, you’ll likely find an organization that matches your values and interests.

Besides, most nonprofits are short-staffed, with plenty of potential duties to take on. Maybe you’ll have the opportunity to work on a website, craft marketing emails, track donations, or even organize events. Each new task will improve and expand your skill set.

In fact, 92 percent of people who influence hiring decisions say that volunteering improves an employee’s leadership skills and broader professional skill set. Another 80 percent say that active volunteers move more easily into leadership roles.

Expand your network.

Volunteering often exposes you to people you wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to meet. And with anywhere from 60 percent to 80 percent of jobs being found through personal relationships, you never know whether a contact will lead to a job.

Let’s say, for example, someone on the board of a charitable organization runs a business. If you do good work, and people take notice, she could bring you in for an interview when a job opens up. After all, it’s not what you know, but who.

Bridge resume gaps.

When potential employers see a gap in your resume, they’re going to bring it up. By volunteering, you bridge that gap and increase your chances of finding a new job. People who volunteer are 27 percent more likely to find a job after being out of work than those who don’t.

Highlight your personal values.

Your resume can only tell potential employers so much about you. And with companies placing more emphasis on corporate social responsibility, your volunteer work can help illustrate how your values match those of the organization. Nowadays, employers want a cultural fit just as much as a skills fit.

Stand out in the job market.

Just 45 percent of professionals include their volunteer work on their resumes — even though nearly 90 percent of them have donated time to a cause. If you volunteer, and highlight the experience on your resume, you help differentiate yourself from the competition, while emphasizing your commitment to the community.

If you’re not sure where to start, there are plenty of online resources to connect you with nonprofits and other charitable organizations. Check VolunteerMatch, Idealist, and Points of Light’s HandsOn Network for volunteer opportunities in your area.

So to anyone out there looking for a job, we want to tell you to keep volunteering — or at least start. It’s hard work, no doubt. But the experience you’ll get and connections you’ll make in the nonprofit sector will help you get that dream job.

Corporate Giving: 7 Initiatives That Won’t Break the Bank

Corporate Giving: 7 Initiatives That Won’t Break the Bank

Over the last decade or so, the business community has seen quite the surge in corporate-giving initiatives. After all, corporate social responsibility (CSR) naturally improves a company’s image. It can also help retain workers and improve employee engagement and loyalty. In fact, you may even save in salary costs as result of your efforts — what with 45 percent of workers saying they’d take a pay cut to work for a company that makes a social impact.

If you’re not a big corporation, which often has an entire team focused on CSR initiatives, you may be wondering what you can do to help others. Finding ways to give back can take a lot of creativity, but the following may help produce some ideas for your company.

Sponsor a Sports Team

You likely know someone with a child on a youth sports team — like one of your employees. Most of the time, the investment of time and money is minimal, and your business will benefit from that friendly publicity that often comes with your logo emblazoned on the jerseys. In other words, youth sports sponsorship is the perfect philanthropic opportunity for small-to-midsize businesses looking to give back to the community.

Sponsor a Local Event

Want to connect directly with your audience, while building good will and generating value for a cause? Sponsor an event. But don’t just slap your logo on it; provide in-person support. For example, our team has volunteered at Harvesters, an organization that helps feed 141,500 people every month, and Meals from the Heart, a Ronald McDonald House Charities program that provides meals for those caring for family with extended hospital stays. Volunteering as a team takes teamwork to whole new level. It’s rewarding, knowing a few hours can make a difference.

Hold a Charity Drive

Limited funds and time shouldn’t keep your company from being charitable. Consider starting a food, clothing, or book drive either in the office or out in the community. You can even make the drive specific to the season. For example, Anton’s Cleaners in Massachusetts holds an annual coat drive through Coats for Kids. Each year, the company collects, cleans, and distributes more than 60,000 coats for both kids and adults.

Donate Your Services

Charitable organizations often operate on a shoestring budget and with a barebones staff, which presents a very unique opportunity for even the smallest of companies to lend a helping hand. Let’s say, for example, you run a small accounting firm. Your team could volunteer their services to not just balance the nonprofit’s ledger but find ways to cut costs for the organization.

Use the Collective Approach

Deep pockets aren’t a necessity when taking on a social mission. Consider partnering with other companies in your community to establish a philanthropic fund. Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, wife of Netscape founder Marc Andreessen, created Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund, where investors pool their money to give large, multi-year grants to charitable organizations. In one year alone, SV2 gave nearly $450,000 in grant money to local nonprofits and social enterprises.

Mentor Local Youth

Many businesses are now getting involved in youth mentorship. Part of this has to do with what it can do for a company: increase its visibility and fosters greater engagement among staff. But it also cultivates the skills necessary for tomorrow’s workforce to really succeed. Look for ways your company can use its experience to mentor kids. For example, we have helped youth improve their career skills through mock interviews and resume writing.

How to Design Workplace Philanthropy Programs That Improve Retention

How to Design Workplace Philanthropy Programs That Improve Retention

Creating a workplace philanthropy program is one of the best ways to improve a company’s reputation in the community. When a corporation helps other people, those same people will return the favor by supporting that corporation — either in dollars or in word-of-mouth.

But workplace philanthropy, and the reputation that comes with it, also does a lot for a company’s ability to both recruit and retain talent. After all, 67 percent of people would rather work for organizations that support social initiatives, and 50 percent of millennials want to work for ethical companies.

In other words, corporate social responsibility — or CSR, for short — makes your company more attractive to job seekers.

The only problem is that many businesses stumble when designing charitable programs, believing that staff will simply participate when given the opportunity. But not all giving activities are equal, and trying to “standardize” the process only makes the program easier to manage, not easier to get employees to volunteer and donate.

Doing Better When Doing Good

That leaves us with one question: How does an organization create CSR initiatives that benefit both the business and the community-at-large? While it’s rarely an easy task, a good place to start is with the following:

1. Give employees a voice. To be truly effective, workplace philanthropy programs should be designed to maximize engagement. As such, you’ll want to organize your efforts around the causes that resonate with employees. By asking staff about what they care about, you allow them the opportunity to make a difference based on their values — with the added bonus of showing employees that you value their input.

2. Choose a relevant cause. Most organizations choose to support causes that make sense to their business. Otherwise, people (including employees) begin to question the exact motives of those outreach efforts. When designing a program, make sure it aligns with the business, mission, values, or culture of your company.

Let’s say, for example, you make products for women. A logical choice would be to devote your energies to fighting breast cancer through the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Living Beyond Breast Cancer, or the Young Survival Coalition.

3. Offer more than money. Sure, cutting a check to a charitable organization is generous, but it doesn’t often provide the organizational benefits that come with workplace philanthropy. By giving your time to causes, your efforts seem more authentic — at least from a marketing perspective. People will see your company as an organization that genuinely cares.

That said, you shouldn’t forgo financial support, but you’ll also want to look for ways to get out into the community. Offer free services, sponsor some events, and get staff out into the community to become an actual part of that community. Besides, giving activities can be powerful employee engagement tools for your business.

4. Empower employees to give. It isn’t enough to just set up CSR initiatives and call it good; you must also empower employees to give by making it as easy as possible to serve. Make opportunities readily accessible and available. Encourage employees to take advantage of those opportunities that play to their strengths or resonate with their interests.

When you empower employees to serve, and allow them the freedom to decide how and where to serve, they’re far more apt to participate. And your support in their volunteerism can translate into greater loyalty and engagement, which can do wonders for your retention and recruitment efforts.

5. Get the word out. Companies often establish workplace philanthropy programs without ever making employees aware of their existence — or encouraging participation. Increase awareness by organizing a number of communication strategies that involve staff from all departments and at all levels.

In fact, treat a CSR initiative like you would any new product or service, and start marketing it to your internal customers. Determine what will move them to take action. A millennial will respond differently to a message than a baby boomer, so try to really get to know your employees before creating your messaging.

6. Make it about people. People respond to people. Instead of focusing solely on the hours and dollars your company contributed to a cause, put the personal stories front and center. Make your employees the heroes, not your organization. Their involvement will essentially vouch for the authenticity of your involvement.

As a result, consumers will believe your commitment and choose you over other brands — what with 90 percent of shoppers saying they’d switch brands to one that supports a cause. Besides this stronger public image, your efforts can improve employee loyalty by 38 percent and even save in salary expenses, as 45 percent of people would take a pay cut for a job that makes a social impact.

With all the buzz surrounding workplace philanthropy programs, it’s no wonder why so many companies take the plunge without ever testing the waters — or learning how to swim, at that. But if you take the time to pick the right causes and develop initiatives around your staff, you’ll not only see greater employee participation but engagement and retention.

8 Tips to Keep Co-Worker Gift-Giving Merry and Bright

8 Tips to Keep Co-Worker Gift-Giving Merry and Bright

Whether giving a gift to a coworker-turned-friend or participating in an office gift exchange, you’re probably left wondering what to buy. After all, holiday gift-giving in the workplace can feel like a minefield — especially for those new to the job.

First off, check company policies to determine if gifts between coworkers are even allowed. Some organizations frown upon or prohibit the practice, largely due to ethics considerations. They don’t want any employee to appear to be buying favor.

If such exchanges are okay, then the next step is to observe the unspoken etiquette of gift-giving in the workplace, and the following eight tips are often a good place to start:

1. Be inclusive

No one likes to be left out in the workplace. If there’s interest in a gift-exchange, invite the whole office to participate. But keep in mind that not everyone holds the same beliefs. Don’t obligate anyone to join in. Stress that participation is optional, not mandatory. The last thing you want to do is make someone uncomfortable, especially this time of year.

2. Make a list

Chances are, you’re not on a first-name basis with everyone. So don’t feel obligated to buy a gift for that guy in accounting — unless, of course, he’s in your department. But even then, it really depends on the relationship. If you plan on giving gifts, stick to only those people you interact with on a regular basis. Gift-giving is personal in nature, and you should have some sort of relationship with the gift’s recipient.

3. Set a cap

Before shopping for holiday gifts, do yourself a favor and set a spending cap. It’ll keep you from buying overly extravagant gifts for coworkers, and hopefully stave off the need to eat ramen for the next few months. Try to keep the cap reasonable. If you take advantage of the holiday sales, $10 per gift should be plenty.

4. Give thought

Be it a boss, coworker, or assistant, thoughtful gifts go a long way. Take the time to think about what a colleague might want or need. A booklover, for example, might appreciate a novelty clothespin clip light to light the page, while that IT guy you’ve got on speed dial may enjoy First Aid Sticky Notes. If you’re not sure what to buy, consider something everyone could use, like an ombre keyboard cover.

5. Use discretion

When handing out gifts, never make a production of it. You could end up alienating those coworkers not on your holiday-shopping list. Come in early to leave the gifts on colleagues’ desks. Or, arrange a time after work, at lunch, or even at breakfast to exchange your gifts for the holiday season.

6. Keep it professional

You may feel buddy-buddy with a few coworkers, but that doesn’t mean you should get too personal with gifts. A colleague could misinterpret your intent when gifts are more intimate in nature. Also, you should avoid giving any gifts that appear to suggest something about the recipient. If, for example, you were to give the gift of body wash, your coworker could start questioning his or her hygiene.

7. Forget the booze

A nice bottle of wine is a great host or hostess gift, but it’s not all that appropriate for the workplace. You never know who may be a recovering alcoholic or abstain from drinking for personal, medical, or religious reasons. What may seem like a generous gift could end up being offensive in this environment.

8. Nix the jokes

Sure, most of your colleagues probably have a decent sense of humor. But unless the gift-exchange is of the white elephant variety, keep the presents thoughtful, useful, or at least reflective of the individual. You never know how someone will react to a gag gift, even when given in jest. It could end up insulting or offending a colleague.

Sticking to what you know — not to mention, who you know — always makes gift-giving that much easier in the workplace. And while you should never feel obligated to purchase gifts for colleagues, it can be fun if your religious or cultural beliefs allow.

A Company’s Guide to Holiday Employee Gift-Giving

A Company’s Guide to Holiday Employee Gift-Giving

Deciding what to give employees is often the hardest part of the holidays — second only to how much you should spend. After all, you’re not just choosing gifts for a variety of different people, each with their own tastes and personalities, but for a variety of different relationships and positions in the company.

While giving gifts to your team isn’t mandatory, nor is it allowed in all organizations, you probably want to show them just how much you care. Here are some ideas on how to get gift-giving right this time of year:

1. Make some memories.

Life experiences often outweigh gifts. In fact, research shows that people who spend money on experiences rather than things are happier and feel the money was better spent. Instead of hosting a traditional holiday party, consider coordinating a shared experience for your team. Take employees to a big sporting event, escape room, or even something touristy.

2. Skip the tchotchkes.

Sure, you’ll probably get a great deal buying mugs, stress balls, or key chains in bulk. But what sort of message does a gift like this send your employees? Certainly not one of appreciation. If you can’t afford decent gifts, then it’s often better to give nothing at all — or to donate the money you would’ve spent on useless tchotchkes to a local charity. Tis the season of giving.

3. Give back to the community.

If you don’t yet offer a workplace-giving program, there’s no better time of year to start. Studies show that 67 percent of people would rather work for a company that supports social initiatives. What’s more, corporate social responsibility can improve employee loyalty by as much as 38 percent. Offer matching gifts and support staff volunteerism to give back to both your team and the community.

4. Throw in a little flexibility.

Talk about a gift that won’t cost a thing, offering flexibility does little impact to your business while helping reduce some of the stress your employees will feel this time of year. Consider letting people work from home, come in late, or leave early when needs be. It may take a bit more coordination on your part, but nothing builds trust within your team more than some flexibility on your part.

5. Consider extra time off.

While not all companies can close down during the holidays, you may still have the means to give the gift of time in other ways. Maybe a few hours off prior to the big day would be useful to get some last minute shopping done. If business allows, you may find the time to give employees an additional day off, allowing them to extend their vacation and come back more refreshed than ever before.

As you choose holiday gifts, tap into those creative juices. The holidays should be fun, and creativity can add the right element of it to cap off the year and show staff just how much you appreciate their continued contributions to your business.

Business Etiquette: Our Guide for Navigating Any Office Event

Business Etiquette: Our Guide for Navigating Any Office Event

About this time of year, a bevy of articles hit the web giving advice on how to best navigate the office holiday party — a party often filled with its fair share of faux pas. But instead of just focusing on this often-awkward celebration, and how to avoid being “that guy” at the bash, we thought it might be best to provide a guide on how to handle yourself at any business event.

Whether a team outing, company picnic, or interview over lunch, the following tips should help you put your best foot forward, no matter the occasion:

1. Arrive on time. Fashionably late isn’t actually fashionable. You’re attending a work-related event, and common courtesy dictates that you arrive on time — if not early. In fact, many professionals see tardiness as a sign of disrespect. Leave home with enough time to park and arrive at the destination prior to the event.

2. Dress the part. Your attire says a lot about you as a professional, and that means you should always dress appropriately for the occasion. If it’s an office holiday party, feel free to kick it up a notch to reflect the event. If it’s a company picnic, however, don’t choose something you’d wear to the beach. The key is to always keep it professional.

3. Order wisely. From time to time, you’ll attend business functions where you’ll order off the menu. Being on the company dime, you might think it’s the perfect opportunity to go hog-wild. Resist the urge, and take your cues from the person footing the bill. Or, ask for recommendations of what to order, and then choose the lower priced option. Check out this article for more advice on dining etiquette.

4. Limit libations. One drink is almost always enough to get you through an office holiday party. Business lunches, on the other hand, should be kept alcohol-free. Even when the employer is partaking in a nip or two, it’s best to steer clear. Level heads, as they say, win in the end.

5. Greet everyone. Most people at business functions tend to congregate into groups of those they already know, which is a wasted opportunity to form new bonds within the office. Make a point of circulating throughout the event and greet everyone, assuming there aren’t thousands of guests.

6. Turn off the phone. You wouldn’t take a call during an interview — at least we hope not — and you really shouldn’t at a business event either. You can go a couple hours without texting or checking social media. Turn off your phone and give everyone your undivided attention. It shows that you’d rather be there than someplace else.

7. Keep shoptalk to a minimum. Unless you’re attending a business meeting over lunch, you should really use the time to get to know your colleagues. Too much shoptalk can leave those not in your department feeling left out. Plus, your coworkers may not want to talk about goals or work issues. Keep conversations light and fun.

8. Avoid gossip. A business event isn’t the right venue to air your grievances. When speaking with coworkers keep the conversation positive and upbeat. The last thing you want to do is get involved in office politics or share something you’ll regret on Monday.

9. Show up. Although you may not want to go, it is important to show your commitment to the company and not attending could hurt your reputation. Consider it an opportunity to network. Remember, it’s not what you know but who, and this is one of the few times to interact with colleagues in a social setting, which could help you form stronger relationships with people who could help your career.

10. Thank the host. Sneaking out can come off as a bit immature. When you leave, make a point of thanking the host, and then exit right. You may also want to say a few quick goodbyes to others, but never leave unannounced.

Office functions, by their very nature, are uncomfortable. There’s just no getting around that. But you should still try to relax, have fun, and be yourself.

Whether it is a formal office party or a company BBQ, a work-related event isn’t strictly social. The impression you make can impact your professional career – for better or worse. No matter the occasion, the tips above can help you find the balance between having fun and keeping your reputation intact. Remember, what happens at the office party doesn’t stay at the party.