Most companies, particularly larger ones, have a human resources (HR) department, or at least one HR manager. HR is a vital department with a pivotal role for the employees and the company as a whole. But when to bring an issue to HR is a concern for employees at least once in their professional career.
As per Human Resources EDU, human resources managers "Are the overseers of the human resources department and insurers of the functions and tasks being carried out by the HR team. They are often seen as the link between an organization's management and its employees, as their work runs the gamut from providing consultation on strategic planning with top executives to recruiting, interviewing, and hiring new staff. Due to the supervisory nature of this position, human resource managers are called upon to handle employee-related services, regulatory compliance, and employee relations, among many other tasks."
That's why your HR manager is the best person to go to if ever you experience any of the issues listed below. The workplace should be a zone where everyone is treated with respect, equality, and fairness. HR is on your side. Be willing to speak to your HR manager when appropriate and necessary. It can make a major impact on your work life.
There is never an acceptable reason anyone should be harassed in the workplace. Whether sexual in nature or otherwise, "joking around" or dead serious, a place of employment is the wrong place for harassing others. Not that harassment anywhere is acceptable, but at least at work, feel secure in knowing HR is there to protect you.
As per TalentZoo, "If you feel you are being harassed or bullied, you should talk to your human resources department. It doesn't matter whether the person doing the harassing is a client, customer, colleague, or boss. It's important to report it." U.S. News & World Report adds more specifically, " If you're being sexually harassed or harassed on the basis of your race, sex, religion, disability, national origin, age (if you're 40 or older) or other protected class, HR has a legal obligation to investigate and put a stop to it."
Not only can HR investigate and put an end to this inappropriate behavior, but your complaint will be on record with the company if the situation continues, worsens, happens to someone else, or needs to be proved to the boss or even in a court of law. Don't let any form of harassment fly under the radar. If not put to a halt, it will usually continue, making the workplace a volatile place to be.
No form of discrimination is tolerable in the workplace. It can lead to anything from awkwardness to tension to outright danger. U.S. News & World Report notes, "Federal law prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of these traits (race, sex, religion, disability or other protected class), and companies are obligated to take action when a report of such discrimination is made in good faith. This is a case in which HR is more likely to more likely to understand what the law requires and know how to proceed correctly than your boss might be."
And it doesn't necessarily have to be you who is being discriminated against in order for you to bring it to HR's attention. According to The Undercover Recruiter, "It is possible to bring prejudice to light even if you are not discriminated against personally. If you feel someone's been unfairly treated, whether because of sexuality, age, race or disability, you have the right to raise the issue with your company, even if you don't share the characteristic that's being discriminated against."
Discrimination against anyone makes for a disrupted and even unsafe workplace. We're all in this together, so if you see (or hear) something, say something.
3. Accommodations/Lifestyle Change
If you need to make a change in your current work situation, be it time off, new hours, an inquiry about maternity/paternity leave, new openings in the company, etc., HR is the place to discuss and plan accordingly. The Undercover Recruiter says, "They'll (HR) liaise with your boss and try to make your schedule work for everyone."
Additionally, HR is your friend when it comes to understanding your company's benefits packages, pension and retirement plans, job details, vacation and sick day accommodations, health coverage, etc. The HR manager is responsible to relay this information to you and work with you to make sure you're set up with all the necessary paperwork and explanations. Always keep abreast of new packages and programs being offered at your place of employment and of any updates or changes along the way. These "extras" can be as important as your job itself.
If you are not being treated properly, HR is there to make things right. For instance, as per Talent Zoo, "If you're a breast-feeding mother, your office needs to provide you with a private area to pump milk during the day. If you don't have access to this, you should take your concerns to the human resources office." HR will let you know what your rights are and will help enforce and protect them.
HR is there for you, to make your employment experience positive with protection and knowledge. As The Undercover Recruiter puts it, "One of the most important people you'll be meeting is your Human Resources manager, because their main aim is your welfare. It's important that HR exists to make sure you, and your colleagues, are happy at work."
If you have an issue, don't hesitate to reach out to HR. Your safety and workplace satisfaction are their concern for both you and the company as a whole.
Over two years into the most momentous event in our lives the world has changed forever … Some of us have PTSD from being locked up at home, some are living like everything’s going to end tomorrow, and the rest of us are merely trying to get by. When the pandemic hit we entered a perpetual state of vulnerability, but now we’re supposed to return to normal and just get on with our lives.
What does that mean? Packed bars, concerts, and grocery shopping without a mask feel totally strange. We got used to having more rules over our everyday life, considering if we really had to go out or keeping Zooming from our living rooms in threadbare pajama bottoms.
The work-from-home culture changed it all. Initially, companies were skeptical about letting employees work remotely, automatically assuming work output would fall and so would the quality. To the contrary, since March of 2020 productivity has risen by 47%, which says it all. Employees can work from home and still deliver results.
There are a number of reasons why everyone loves the work from home culture. We gained hours weekly that were wasted on public transport, people saved a ton of money, and could work from anywhere in the world. Then there were the obvious reasons like wearing sweats or loungewear all week long and having your pets close by. Come on, whose cat hasn’t done a tap dance on your keyboard in the middle of that All Hands Call!
Working from home grants the freedom to decorate your ‘office’ any way you want. But then people needed a change of environment. Companies began requesting their employees' RTO, thus generating the Hybrid Work Model — a blend of in-person and virtual work arrangements. Prior to 2020, about 20% of employees worked from home, but in the midst of the pandemic, it exploded to around 70%.
Although the number of people working from home increased and people enjoyed their flexibility, politicians started calling for a harder RTW policy. President Joe Biden urges us with, “It’s time for Americans to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again.”
While Boris Johnson said, “Mother Nature does not like working from home.'' It wasn’t surprising that politicians wanted people back at their desks due to the financial impact of working from the office. According to a report in the BBC, US workers spent between $2,000 - $5,000 each year on transport to work before the pandemic.
That’s where the problem lies. The majority of us stopped planning for public transport, takeaway coffee, and fresh work-appropriate outfits. We must reconsider these things now, and our wallets are paying
the price. Gas costs are at an all-time high, making public transport increase their fees; food and clothes are all on a steep incline. A simple iced latte from Dunkin’ went from $3.70 to $3.99 (which doesn’t seem like much but 2-3 coffees a day with the extra flavors and shots add up to a lot), while sandwiches soared by 14% and salads by 11%.
This contributes to the pressure employees feel about heading into the office. Remote work may have begun as a safety measure, but it’s now a savings measure for employees around the world.
Bloomberg are offering its US staff a $75 daily commuting stipend that they can spend however they want. And other companies are doing the best they can. This still lends credence to ‘the great resignation.’ Initially starting with the retail, food service, and hospitality sectors which were hard hit during the pandemic, it has since spread to other industries. By September 2021, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 4.4 million resignations.
That’s where the most critical question lies…work from home, work from the office or stick to this new hybrid world culture?
Borris Johnson thinks, “We need to get back into the habit of getting into the office.” Because his experience of working from home “is you spend an awful lot of time making another cup of coffee and then, you know, getting up, walking very slowly to the fridge, hacking off a small piece of cheese, then walking very slowly back to your laptop and then forgetting what it was you’re doing.”
While New York City Mayor Eric Adams says you “can't stay home in your pajamas all day."
In the end, does it really matter where we work if efficiency and productivity are great? We’ve proven that companies can trust us to achieve the same results — or better! — and on time with this hybrid model. Employees can be more flexible, which boosts satisfaction, improves both productivity and retention, and improves diversity in the workplace because corporations can hire through the US and indeed all over the world.
We’ve seen companies make this work in many ways, through virtual lunches, breakout rooms, paint and prosecco parties, and — the most popular — trivia nights.
As much as we strive for normalcy, the last two years cannot simply be erased. So instead of wiping out this era, it's time to embrace the change and find the right world culture for you.
What would get you into the office? Free lunch? A gym membership? Permission to hang out with your dog? Some employers are trying just that.
The rising trend of pet-friendly offices is part of the effort to incentivize employees to come back to work in person. Many companies completely embraced the remote-friendly convenience of WFH. Digital nomad culture emerged and “second cities” arose when people exited New York, San Francisco, and LA, and headed to Denver, Austin, Charlotte, Nashville, and Raleigh.
But now, employees and employers have a choice to make. The question now is: to return or not to return to the office? This is no longer about forcing employees to commute. Post The Great Resignation, employees feel more empowered to leave in-person positions and seek out remote jobs. So if offices want people to return, they’ve got to do a ton to entice their employees.
Some huge companies with giant operating budgets are not worried. With major perks like shiny facilities and full-service food bars, they feel comfortable requiring in-office work days — even if it’s for a hybrid week. But the solution might be simpler: pet-friendly workplaces.
The Allure of Pet-Friendly Offices
According to the Washington Post, pet-friendly workplaces are becoming a common solution to improve employee morale and appease the rising number of pandemic pet owners. “As offices start reopening and thousands of workers are being called back for the first time in two years, some companies are allowing employees to bring their pets. About 23 million American households adopted a pet during the pandemic, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Many workers say they find pet-friendly environments an important perk for their new furry family members. A recent survey conducted by Banfield Pet Hospital, owned by Mars Inc., showed that 57 percent of the 1,500 pet owners polled said they would be happiest returning to a pet-friendly workplace. Half of the 500 top executives surveyed said they are planning to allow pets at the office. Tech companies including Google, Amazon, and Uber plan to continue to allow dogs at their offices, even with their flexible office policies.”
With so many people adopting and fostering since the pandemic, becoming a pet parent is a trend. And to welcome these new additions into people’s lives, it makes sense for some workplaces to welcome them into the office.
After spending unlimited amounts of time at home, many pets grew greatly attached to their “parents” — and pet-parents feel the same about their pets. Rather than keeping them locked in the house while their caretakers head off to work, this is a mutually beneficial solution to the current separation anxiety faced by pets.
Pets have also been shown to boost happiness in pet owners. According to heart.org, “Studies show that dogs reduce stress, anxiety, and depression; ease loneliness; encourage exercise and improve your overall health. For example, people with dogs tend to have lower blood pressure and are less likely to develop heart disease. Just playing with a dog has been shown to raise levels of the feel-good brain chemicals oxytocin and dopamine, creating positive feelings and bonding for both the person and their pet.” Most likely, this might have a similar effect on people who bond with animals at work that don’t even belong to them, lending an overall mood boost to the office.
The controversy behind pet-friendly workplaces
However, not everyone is as enthusiastic about the prospect. Some would rather keep the office separate from their personal lives. Some are allergic to pets. And some people simply don’t like animals.
Offices considering pet-friendly policies are weighing the pros and cons to keep everyone happy. According to the Washington Post, clear guidelines and communication can increase the chances of success.
“Before making the jump, pet experts say that leaders should first understand whether their employees have interest in, or strong feelings against, having a pet-friendly office. Doing an anonymous survey may allow employees to freely share thoughts on the matter.”
Overall, the key to a policy like this is flexibility. “Be ready to adjust: Above all, pet-friendly offices should be ready to listen and adjust their policies as they go. What works for one office may not work for another, but experts say proper planning can lessen much of the burden.”
Ensure your office is actually suited to the pets you want to welcome. “A well-developed pet-friendly office should be both safe and welcoming to pets. That means companies should consider blocking off areas that could be dangerous to pets as well as making sure pets have access to clean water, food, and places to rest.”
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