3 Office Winter Wellness Mistakes to Avoid

If you don’t follow these tips, you won’t necessarily unleash the plague at your office.

But, you will have more days missed due to sickness, lower employee morale, and finally, decreased profitability.

Employee wellness is a relatively new concept in the workplace. And companies are still learning exactly what works and what doesn’t.

WIth that in mind, here’s the biggest mistakes your wellness program make, and simple solutions to them:

1. Turning Wellness into a Set of Boring, Stressful Tasks

Adding more stress and boredom to your employee’s lives just increases their vulnerability to illness.

Some companies give their employees lists of wellness tasks to do…and then they simply expect their employees to grind through them like their job.

Employees will simply hate this. You’ll wear down their energy and morale. And you’ll get the opposite of what you want: decreased productivity.

So what do you do instead?

Have your employees participate in the design of your wellness program, and allow them to customize theirs to their own liking.

If you want them to exercise, let them choose the exercises they do. If you want them to eat healthier, have them identify rewards for choosing healthier meals.

You’ll get exponentially higher buy-in if you do your wellness program this way.

2. Public Shaming for Not Participating

Employees have all sorts of reasons for not joining wellness programs. And most are legit.

Some employees feel ashamed about their body and don’t want to exercise in front of others. Others have food allergies that prevent them from eating foods in your catered lunches.

So don’t assume that a lack of participation means your employees are lazy or selfish.

Instead, praise any participation no matter how small.

And have a private conversation with your employee and ask them what you can do to make it easier for them to participate in your wellness program.

3. Holding a Competition to See Who Can Lose the Most Weight

This is by far the most disastrous mistake you can make. This type of challenge focuses on appearance, and works well for volunteers who want to look good on a TV show.

It does not focus on steadily improving health over time, which is what you actually want for your employees.

Sudden crash diets like this can also be dangerous for certain bodies. You don’t know what health conditions your employees have.

And finally, since there’s only one winner, everyone else is a loser. And that discourages their participation.

Instead, reward employees for actions well-done. If they don’t take the action, they don’t get the reward. And if you simply have to compete, have your employees compete against themselves.

So, implement those tips so your wellness program has the effects you desire: happier, more motivated employees who can’t wait to work for you!

4 Common Warehouse Safety Categories to Audit

The Three Stooges caused an unbelievable amount of pain and chaos to one another. Fortunately it was all in the name of entertainment.

…But does your warehouse sometimes remind you of one of their comedy shorts?

Hopefully it doesn’t.

And here’s what you can do to prevent the most common types of warehouse accidents from happening:

1. Forklift Accidents

Forklifts cause 2-3 dozen deaths each year. And a quarter of those deaths happen while the forklift is in reverse.

Drivers should never exceed more than 5 mph. When drivers have to reverse, make sure they have someone helping who can spot them and warn others to stay out of the way.

Give your drivers pop quizzes on your forklift safety driving standards.

Make sure your driver has a list of safety checks to make daily. And come down hard on them if they engage in negligent driving behavior (racing, showboating).

2. Slips, Trips, and Falls

These are the most common types of warehouse accident. Your staff should always clean up after spills and tuck away loose cables, or otherwise organize whatever the potential hazard could be.

You can also use anti-slip paint on your floors. Anti-slip tape can be used where paint cannot. And encourage your employees to wear anti-slip shoes.

Repair damaged floors which have become uneven. And if you have to run cables over the floor, make sure the cables have heavy-duty covers.

And finally, use warning signs in abundance. Too many is better than too few.

3. Lifting Injuries

Your staff should know how much they can manually handle, which is usually about 50 pounds. You should also train them on proper lifting techniques which minimize strain and the risk of injury.

And equipment should be readily available for helping your employees lift. Your employees should also know the maximum load the equipment can handle so they don’t overload it and risk serious injury.

Chains should be stored properly. And vehicles shouldn’t be allowed to run over them. Improper storage leads to rusting, bending, breaking, and possibly serious injury or death.

4. Fire Safety

Employees can get seriously hurt, and many entire businesses also don’t fully recover from a fire.

You should have an employee solely responsible for fire safety. Make it their job to audit your workplace for fire hazards, create evacuation plans, and be the person in-charge in case of a fire.

Run your own fire drills at least a couple times per year. Employees should know the exits and the final assembly point.

Emergency lighting should be in place so your employees can see fire exit signs and their escape routes with ease.

Fire alarms should be tested weekly. And if your warehouse stores chemicals, make sure you’re in compliance with OSHA standards.

Obviously, there’s still much more to warehouse safety. But this review of common safety risks makes for a solid starting point.

So check them all out. See how your company stacks up, and finish out your safety audit so your employees stay safe and motivated!

4 Office Cold and Flu Prevention Mistakes

Your employees learn and know all the little details about their roles in your workplace.

Well, preventing the spread of the cold and flu is no different. You have a number of small actions to take (or not take) to prevent their spread.

So, take a look at some of the common mistakes companies make when trying to stymie the cold and flu:

1. Wash Your Hands When You First Get to the Office

Do you have kids? They routinely bring home all sorts of diseases from school. And you could haul those right to work.

Plus, if you carpool or ride crowded public transport, you’ve just exposed yourself to a myriad of people who could have the cold or flu too.

So, when you first get to the office, wash your hands. You have no idea how many disease-causing agents you might first bring in.

2. Trying to Power Through

Everyone loves to work hard. And when you or your employees have a disease, they may wear it as a badge of honor to work right through it.

Encourage your employees to rest when sick because truly, failing to rest only catches up with them in the long-term, which actually costs them (and you) more productivity.

If they have a light cold and feel like they can still work, let them work from home.

An Airtasker study reports that, while employees take more breaks when at home, they actually get 10 more minutes of work done daily and 1.4 days more done monthly.

3. Don’t Underestimate the Resilience of Viruses

Viruses are tough and good at their jobs. View them like your top competitor in your industry.

When you vomit, you can expel 1 billion virus particles. But, it only takes 10 to cause an infection.

After recovering from an illness, you might feel well. But, you can still carry viruses for up to two weeks after.

That’s exactly the case with norovirus, for example.

So whatever personal hygiene routine your employees have when well, they need to intensify it and not miss a step in the aftermath of an illness.

4. Poor Hygiene Practices at Your Office

Employees will take off of work if your office doesn’t implement effective hygiene practices – even if they’re feeling well.

That means you need to get their feedback on your hygiene practices. What your employees want is usually quite simple, and not a big change or expense for your office.

Increase availability of hand sanitizer. Pristine restrooms.

So, involve your employees in your office’s hygiene. Everyone will be well more often. And your bottom line will thank you for it.

That’s all there is to it. Making hygiene a priority isn’t hard. And it doesn’t take a lot of work.

Now you know the top mistakes to watch for, and the simple solutions for them.

4 Tips for Managing Customer Returns in 2020

Those Christmas sales sure are nice when they roll in.

How’d your holiday sales go?

…But they do come with a little bit of a catch.

Customer returns increase quite a bit in January. So, how do you handle that sudden influx?

No need to worry! We have you covered:

1. Turn Gift Returns into an Opportunity To Win New Long-Term Customers

Gift returns often are set up around the buyer, and not the gift receiver. To make your customer happy, you could do the refund in a way the buyer isn’t likely to notice.

And make the process easy. This sounds obvious. But 33% of those surveyed in Narvar’s The State of Online Returns report described the returns process as “okay” or “difficult.”

What’s so hard?

Finding and understanding the policy. Make yours clear. Put it on all receipts and gift receipts. And add an obvious link to it from your home page and product pages on your website.

96% of those surveyed in Narvar’s report said they would shop again with a company with an easy return experience.

That’s a practically guaranteed way to win more customers…and increase their loyalty!

2. Process Returns as Fast as Possible

Returns done via mail for online purchases should include automated email updates.

In-store returns need to be optimized too. Hire additional staff to manage the extra volume if you need to.

Remember, happier customers mean more revenue. And, the faster you get the returned product back on your shelves, the quicker you can sell it again.

3. Lengthen Your Return Window

Your normal policy might be 30 days. But remember, products bought as gifts may not even be given within 30 days.

Returns only have a cost on the surface. As you’ve learned, they are a phenomenal opportunity to win new customers and increase the loyalty of existing ones.

So follow the spirit of the season and be generous with your return policy. Make it the end of January instead of 30 days for items bought in October, November, and December.

Or, do whatever it needs to be. If items are bought as gifts, and they fall outside your return window, happily make an exception to your return window.

4. Train Your Employees

Finally, whatever you decide your return policy should be, make sure you train your employees on the details. Make it easily accessible and simple to understand.

Above all, your employees should understand it’s important to do what works for your customer. You can’t go wrong by making your customer happy.

Enjoy the new sales this brings!

2 of the Greatest Warehouse Safety Risks (And What to Do About Them): Part 1

145,000 people work in more than 7,000 warehouses, and the fatal injury rate is much higher than average in the industry (according to OSHA).

What are some of the most common problems OSHA finds? And what can you do about them so your workers stay safe and productive?

We have both covered for you. Learn more below:

1. Forklifts

100 employees die and another 95,000 are injured each year by forklifts. Can you believe that?

95,000 of the 145,000 warehouse workers in the United States are injured, which comes to 65.5%!

So here’s a great place to start.

Even though forklifts are responsible for an outrageous number of injuries, it’s not that hard to prevent the ones they cause.

Proper training of forklift drivers, along with certification, is the place to start. Maintain your forklift properly. Make sure your driver understands how to inspect the forklift for safety prior to driving.

Drivers should keep the speed under 5 mph in congested areas or places with slippery conditions.

Only handle loads within the forklift’s weight capacity. Never let a forklift driver approach a person standing in front of a wall or pile of materials.

If there’s one place you spend time on safety, make sure it’s with your forklifts!

2. Hazard Communication

This item came in second place on OSHA’s list of the most common reasons companies are fined.

Chemical burns can happen if hazardous materials are not properly handled.

These don’t happen nearly as frequently as forklift accidents. But obviously, the damage is serious when trouble occurs.

All workers should be familiar with a currently-updated MSDS for each chemical your facility handles. They should have intimate knowledge of the MSDS and be observed for how well they follow its procedures.

Spill cleanup kits should be readily available wherever you store chemicals. You should have a written spill control plan employees review regularly so they’re ready for an accident if it happens.

You also must provide personal protective equipment and train employees on how to use it correctly.

Finally, all chemicals should be stored safely and away from forklift traffic areas.

Those are just a couple of the leading causes of warehouse injuries. Stay tuned for additional parts, learn other common safety risks, and what you can do about them.

How to Stop the Spread of the Flu in Your Office

It’s here. The bane of every employer: the flu. Around 5-20% of US citizens get it each year.

And that adds up to a significant chunk of your workforce.

If you lose 20% of your company to the flu for a few days, that brings operations to a screeching halt.

The damage to your business can be enough to give you a heart attack.

So, what can you do to prevent the flu from causing any more damage to your workplace than necessary?

Here’s five simple things you can do:

1. Do On-Site Vaccinations at Your Workplace

Hey, you can relate to this too: you have so many things on your to-do list that some simply slip through the cracks.

It’s easy to say,”Oh…I’ll do this tomorrow. Wait…I’ll do it the next day…” and then finally it’s three months later and it still hasn’t been done yet.

Many companies give flu shots on-site. Give your local pharmacy a call.

2. Make Off-Site Flu Shots Easy

Maybe having someone come on-site isn’t an option for you.

Okay. That’s fine. Then the next best thing you can do is make getting a flu shot off-site easy.

First, make sure your company’s health plan covers flu shots. If you don’t have that in place, you can try researching organizations who give flu shots for free. And if neither of those options work, consider reimbursing your employees for their flu shots.

Research exactly where and when employees can get flu shots. Create a list and get it in everyone’s hands. Allow your employees to leave work to get their shots if need be.

Small concessions like these pale in comparison to a massive flu outbreak!

3. Institute These Basic Hygiene Policies

OSHA recommends the following:

  • Wash your hands frequently throughout the day. Use soap and spend at least 20 seconds (enough to sing “Happy Birthday” twice) lathering and scrubbing.
  • Avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes as much as possible.
  • When you cough, cover your face with your sleeve or tissue. Throw the tissue out immediately.
  • Every time you cough, sneeze, or blow your nose, use hand sanitizer or wash your hands.
  • Don’t share office equipment with other employees.

4. Encourage Employees to Stay Home

If your employees feel any little bit of illness, tell them to just stay home and rest up. Allow them to work from home also.

Employees who work from home are happier and more productive anyway.

Better to lose a couple days from one employee than to have them come to your office, spread the flu, and multiply the productivity loss by a number of times.

The flu may get loose at your office. But it doesn’t need to jeopardize the overall health of your business.

And now you have a list of solid strategies in place to minimize the potential damage it causes.

How to Win More Customers with Holiday Packaging

Around 20% of consumers begin their holiday shopping in October. That’s your initial opportunity to increase your sales with your holiday packaging, and many businesses miss out on it.

Speaking of your holiday packaging, what specifically can you do with it to win more customers during the holiday season?

Here’s some ideas:

1. Low-Cost Ideas

You don’t need a massive budget to capitalize on the holidays. You can use simple ideas like custom tissue paper, stickers, tape, or branded gift tag.

These things are small. But your customers notice them. And they can take your holiday packaging from blending in to standing out as a premium option.

2. Handwritten Notes

Handwriting notes works any time of year. But it works especially well in the holiday season. Showing your customers that a real human being is putting their order together really makes a strong impression…and it’s one that big brands can’t imitate.

Make sure you actually handwrite the notes. Don’t simply use a cursive font from the computer!

3. Non-Traditional Seasonal Designs

Red, green, and metallic colors abound during the holiday season. There’s nothing wrong with those in particular.

However, you can really stand out from the crowd by choosing a non-traditional, but still holiday, design.

You don’t need to be overly fancy with it either. Simple will do.

4. Advertise Your Sustainable Approach

During the holiday season, about 25% more waste gets thrown away than during the rest of the year.

Advertising your sustainability during the year makes you look good. During the holiday season, this makes you look great.

Just make sure you educate your customers about the increase of waste during the holiday season, so they recognize you’re doing a greater service by minimizing the amount of waste your packaging creates.

5. Tell Your Customers to Share Pics of Their Packaging on Social Media

Consumers are 90% more likely to buy from a brand when recommended by someone they know.

If you’ve gone the extra mile to make your packaging standing out, even if it’s a lower-cost method, ask your customers to share a pick of their packaging on social media.

It’s a simple request that only takes a little bit to include in your marketing that can lead to a significant increase in sales.

Your holiday packaging doesn’t need to be completely revolutionized to make a splash. Now you have specific techniques for improving your packaging that don’t require a massive budget or strategic realignment to execute!

The Office Winter Wellness Guide

February’s coming soon, and it also happens to be the most popular month for employees to call in sick.

Winter in general wreaks havoc on your employees’ health. And you can expect the most difficulty to come in February.

What can you do to help your employees maintain their health, even amidst the difficulty winter brings?

Here’s some ideas:

1. Create a Healthy Office Cookbook

Everyone loves to try new foods. And eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to choke down new food that you can barely stand (like raw brussels sprouts).

Eating healthy can be fun…and delicious. Create an office cookbook and have your employees share their favorite healthy recipes.

Or, if they don’t have their own, challenge them to find recipes that look interesting online.

You could also augment this a little with an occasional catered meal.

2. Get Your Employees Outside

Yes. You read that right. Get your employees outside…even in the cooler winter temperatures.

Why the emphasis on the outdoors?

Because people exercise longer when outside. Dallas’ Klyde Warren Park has plenty of group exercise activities going on outdoors during the winter.

While employees may not be overly enthused, you can offer small incentives like gift cards (or just ask your employees what would motivate them) to get them to engage in outdoor exercise.

3. Make Wellness A Part of Your Daily Business

Most companies turn wellness into an event. For example, they frequently take the form of weight-loss competitions or a quarterly steps competition.

That’s helpful. But, what do your employees do when the competition ends? Do they go right back to their old, unhealthy ways?

The smartest, most successful companies integrate wellness right into their daily business activities. For example, giving an employee the option of a standing desk.

There’s about a million ways you can make this happen. Ask your employees to help you come up with ideas.

4. Hold a Health Fair

You may or may not have the time to do this. Alternatively, you could just invite vendors in to your company to talk to your employees, as it works for your company.

These local vendors then discuss their own approach to making your workplace healthier.

If you’re feeling ambitious and want to host the actual fair, here’s a guide on how to make it happen.

The important thing through all of these tips is to include your employees in the process of making each decision. That way, they end up with better health using mechanisms they find most valuable, which maximizes engagement.

Which methods sound most appealing to you?

The Top 5 Qualities of Unforgettable Customer Service

Clark Howard, a leading consumer advocate who has his own nationally syndicated radio show, jokingly refers to “customer no-service” with his listeners as they call in with the problems they get from companies who don’t care.

Unfortunately, customer service can often be that way.

But it doesn’t have to be. And the fact you’re reading this post shows you understand that.

What are the top qualities of excellent customer service?

Here they are:

1. Fast

The University of Warwick (in the UK) performed a study on customer service. And their results match what many others have found: customers prefer speed most.

If you do nothing else with your customer service, at least make it fast so customers can get on with their hectic schedules.

Training your employees and empowering them with the ability to make decisions greatly increases the speed to resolution for customers.

2. Accuracy

When you get a customer service associate (in your own life) who gives you a wrong answer, how do you react?

You’re not happy.

Being accurate in the first place doesn’t improve customer satisfaction. But being inaccurate quickly destroys it.

How can you ensure your employees know what they need to know, while also transferring customers to the right person only when necessary?

3. Clarity

No customer has ever said,”This is too simple and understandable for me. I’m taking my business elsewhere!”

Even if you have a highly technical product with sophisticated customers, use the simplest language possible so it’s obvious what you mean.

Keep sentences short.

Your communication will never be perfect. But if you tighten it up with only what’s necessary to help the customer achieve what they want, customers will love you for it.

4. Transparency

Don’t let this become just another buzzword. “Transparency” here means to let your customer know what’s going on behind the scenes.

For example, if your customer has to wait, tell them exactly why. Then give them an expectation of how long they’ll have to wait.

This helps customers be more patient. And it improves their mood, which makes them easier to work with.

5. Accessibility

Some leading corporations require you to press numbers several times to get you to the right department. And they make that process so long and frustrating that some customers just hang up and cease doing business with that company.

You’ve heard the mantra to “exceed customer expectations.” However, did you know research has found that customers would rather exert minimal effort in getting their needs met than having their expectations exceeded?

Research published at Harvard Business Review confirms it.

So those are five more ways you can improve your customer service.

Which surprised you most?

3 Most Frequently Overlooked Warehouse Safety Risks

It’s not so much the individual act that’s the risk. It’s the scale. When you move millions of dollars in product daily, you have abundant opportunity for injury.

What are some of the most commonly overlooked safety risks in any warehouse?

Read on to find out:

1. Forklift

Did you know that forklifts lead to 100 deaths and 95,000 injuries to their operators or coworkers yearly?

The data comes straight from OSHA.

Those statistics sound almost unbelievable, given that 145,000 people work in American warehouses.

So if you count that as one injury per person, it’s possible that more warehouse workers get injured by a forklift in a given year than those who don’t.

OSHA states that unsafe forklift use and improper stacking of product are the leading causes of injuries by forklifts.

So those represent your biggest opportunities to reduce forklift injuries.

2. Set Reasonable Time Requirements for Task Completion

More is better…or is it?

That thinking permeates every business. However, the way you get more can be deceptive.

Businesses who put stringent demand on their warehouse workers end up with burned out workers, more mistakes, and lower productivity.

Setting reasonable requirements so employees can go at a comfortable pace results in fewer safety risks.

What if you can’t get enough out of a particular worker even at a comfortable pace?

Find a different position for them. You went through the hard work of hiring a quality employee, so keep them on the team and find a spot for them where they can thrive.

3. Create the Right Incentive-Based Safety Program

It’s easy to make incentives. The hard part is finding an incentive that’s difficult to achieve, but also not impossible.

If it’s too difficult, employees give up and leave. If it’s impossible, employees also give up and leave.

Make sure you don’t compromise one result for another. For example, incentivize both quality and speed with your incentive.

The incentive must also be measurable. And everyone in every department of your company should be incentivized.

If you have created a fair system, high-performing employees should consistently earn the incentive.

Middle-performing employees should substantially improve their performance, as they also represent your biggest opportunity for gains.

And even though low-tier employees may not earn your incentives, they at least understand the reason for your criticism of their performance. And you have a basis for replacing them with better quality hires in the future.

This will even prevent you from having to create and audit policy because employees will be motivated to stay safe on their own.

Now that you know these overlooked safety risks, you can keep your workplace safer with far greater ease than ever before.

How to Maximize Your Office’s Wellness (And Profitability) in Winter

Winter means colds, flus, diarrhea, lost time from work, trouble meeting deadlines, and low employee morale.

It happens in every office to varying extents.

But some offices learn how to optimize employee wellness so they mitigate these issues and don’t run into serious business problems as a result.

Here’s a couple strategies to consider to keep your employees healthy, motivated, and productive this winter:

1. Proper Handwashing Procedure

Yes. One of the first things you learned as a child actually remains important into adulthood.

The National Institute of Mental Health actually has a study which shows that a properly implemented hand hygiene program reduced workplace absenteeism by 20%.

What changes were made?

Alcohol-based hand sanitizer was made available in high-traffic common areas of this particular workplace (near the elevator, coffee area, breakroom, conference room, and other areas).

An 8-ounce bottle or Purell Advanced hand sanitizer and a 100-count canister of Purell Wipes were placed in each cubicle.

Each employee got a 1-ounce bottle of Purell Advanced hand sanitizer to keep with them.

The restrooms offered GOJO Green Certified Foam Handwash and alcohol-based hand sanitizer from GOJO and Purell.

Employees watched a 1-minute video training them on proper handwashing procedure. And “Wash Your Hands” signs were placed at the entrance and exits of restrooms.

And that’s how the 20% reduction in absenteeism was achieved.

2. Healthy Food Ideas

What’s your favorite holiday food? It’s probably not a healthy one, is it?

Refined sugar, found in many favorite holiday treats, can pull you out of a deep sleep during the night, leaving you feeling exhausted during the day.

You won’t necessarily wake up. But you won’t get the deep, restful, REM sleep.

And because refined sugar affects orexin cells, which help regulate your energy levels, eating too much leads to energy peaks and valleys.

Besides obvious sources of refined sugar like cakes, pies, cookies, and candy, you can also consume it in barbecue sauce, spaghetti sauce, and canned fruit.

Totally switching the company snacks from beloved refined sugar to carrots and cucumbers may be hard to pull off.

But, you may be able to get some success by explaining the benefits of eating healthier food to your employees and then offering those as an alternative to the refined sugar treats you normally have available.

You probably haven’t heard these ideas offered in too many workplaces, or in this great of detail.

Yeah. They’re ahead-of-the-curve.

But companies who lead the pack do things few others have the willingness to do.

Product Spotlight: Paragon Nexus Machine Film

Ever had your stretch wrap film snap at the least convenient time?

…Is there ever a good time for it to break?

Well, that’s where Paragon Films comes in because stretch wrap is all they do. And their films dominate the competition by a wide margin.

“Their films outperform the competition as it relates to high levels of pre-stretch, load containment, and pre-stretch,” says one of many happy customers.

So when you hear us talk about machine film and Paragon’s name comes up, you should get excited.

Anyway, what’s the big deal about one of their latest products, Nexus Machine Film?

For starters, it comes with a UV light additive, which prolongs the integrity of the film when kept in the path of the sun’s light.

It’s also highly durable, which means the film breaks far less than the competition does when under the same amount of stress.

Only one side clings, which eliminates tails and recoil.

And because of its durability, that means you use less product. That decreases your spend on stretch film. And you also do the environment greater good, which you can advertise to your customers and use to grow your business even more.

Nexus machine film is tested to hold up for at least six months under most conditions.

If you’re already familiar with Paragon’s stretch films, Nexus is the latest and greatest. And if you haven’t tried Paragon’s machine films, well now you’re learning why so many companies have tested and now love Paragon’s products.

How Does Paragon Films Make It Happen?

Paragon’s company culture encourages innovation. And to make sure they develop quality innovations customers will want, they use two third-party testing organizations to test and rank their products in multiple categories (which they routinely win).

Those categories include stretch percentage, force containment, force at 200% stretch, unwind force, and tear resistance.

Unique resin blends and proprietary manufacturing processes, along with patented intellectual property, means Paragon has maintained their leadership position in the stretch film market since 1988, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

So yes, we love Paragon’s Nexus machine film, and you should too! And we’re super-excited to recommend it when it makes sense for your company.