Six Creative Ways to Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day

With National Employee Appreciation Day right around the corner, it's the perfect time to recognize your employees for a job well done. Companies across the country will be recognizing the achievements and contributions of their employees on March 5, 2021.

While celebrating your employees sounds like a fun idea, there are also many benefits to recognizing them. By showing employees appreciation on a regular basis, companies can retain more talent and foster an environment of excellence. It’s no surprise that people tend to do their best work when they’re happy and in good spirits.

“Workplace recognition motivates, provides a sense of accomplishment and makes employees feel valued for their work. Recognition not only boosts individual employee engagement, but it also has been found to increase productivity and loyalty to the company, leading to higher retention.” – Gallup

If you’re looking for ideas on how to celebrate your workforce this Friday – or appreciate them throughout the year – check out these six creative ideas:

1. Breakfast on the Boss

Free coffee, bagels, and malasadas from Leonard’s Bakery can set the tone for a special day. If you work in an environment with shift hours or employees who don’t necessarily start in the morning, bring in something special, like cupcakes. Treat your employees to show your appreciation and kick off a day of honoring their hard work.

2. Volunteer Together

Company culture thrives when leadership understands employees lives extend beyond the walls of the workplace. As a business owner, take time out of the schedule to get involved in charities that are close to the hearts of your team. Consider spending a half day volunteering together or even passing around a sign-up sheet for a weekend event. By showing employee appreciation and giving back to the community, your business can actually attract and engage employees through corporate social responsibility. In fact, 74% of employees say their job is more fulfilling when they are provided opportunities to make a positive impact at work.

3. Celebrate Off-Site

Whether you throw a special pau hana with cocktails and pupus or take your team to Breakout Waikiki for a team building event, getting out of the office is a great way to thank your employees. More so, stepping into a different environment with your team can improve communication, renew perspective, and build stronger employee relationships between team members.

4. Send a Simple Thank You Card

Sometimes simple is best. One of the best employee recognition ideas for small business owners is a thank you card. But rather than sending your thanks via email, show your gratitude with a hand-written note for employees who have been going the extra mile. If it’s appropriate, send a note to their home address – it’s an unexpected surprise that is sure to make employees feel appreciated.

5. Give a Token of Appreciation

While the mention of gifts may send red flags to your Finance department, you don’t necessarily need a huge budget for employee appreciation. From a desk plant to a coffee mug to movie tickets, there are plenty of great gifts that won’t break the bank. And if you have allocated spend for employee appreciation gifts, give your employees try to customize rewards so each of your valued workers feel appreciated. For example, if you know an employee has a long commute, gift a gas card or Uber/Lyft credits.

6. Invest in Your Employees

Employees tend to stay with companies that are invested in their ongoing progression and growth. Whether you gift each employee an inspirational book or offer a credit to attend an industry conference or seminar or bring in a development coach for the day, investing in your employees creates an engaged company culture. For more creative ways to invest in your employees, check out this blog post.

Employee appreciation goes beyond a national holiday. When executed properly, it creates a culture based on employee recognition. While appreciation comes in many forms, you shouldn’t expect perks or bonuses alone to convey the meaning of a genuine thank you. When it comes to appreciation, the best bosses say it – and show it – on a regular basis.

5 Trends Reshaping the Work of HR in Hawaii

Here are five trends that are reshaping the work of HR in Hawaii, plus one partnership opportunity for businesses that can change the way you manage HR altogether, for those willing to re-imagine the status quo.

HR as we know it has changed, especially here in paradise. It might be difficult to pinpoint why and how things have shifted, or when it started to feel different, but if you’ve been in business long enough, you know that managing employees, labor costs, and HR tasks today is a very different challenge compared to years ago.

But what’s the cause for this change? Are Millennials the culprit? (hint: No, we don’t think so). Is Hawaii’s tricky business landscape to blame?

There simply is no silver bullet.

So, as business people, how are we to tackle the changes in HR today? First, we must acknowledge trends (and challenges) in our local marketplace. And second, we must see and seize the opportunity to create change (or evolve) in the face of challenges.

At ProService, we think we can help. Here are five trends that are reshaping the work of HR in Hawaii, plus one partnership opportunity that can change the way you manage HR altogether, for those willing to re-imagine the status quo. Let’s dig in.

#1: Hawaii’s talent crunch isn’t going to go away

By now, most of us have heard that unemployment is at a record low. At about 2%, Hawaii has the lowest unemployment rate in the nation. If you’re struggling to find good talent, this is why: 98% of the talent pool is already employed. But did you know that this talent shortage isn’t about to go away? The U.S. faces one of the most alarming talent crunches of any country in a recent study, with 10,000 Baby Boomers reaching retirement each day for the next 19 years.

#2: It’s a fight to reduce employee turnover in the gig economy

Turnover is high (and the numbers can be shocking). On average, the cost of a bad hire can be 30% of a person’s annual salary; and 48% of all new hires need to be replaced within 18 months. With low unemployment and high turnover (almost 17% in Hawaii), it’s an employee’s market and employers are needing to navigate new retention strategies in order to keep their best people.

#3: Rising labor costs are a growing concern

Labor costs—which includes wages, but also employee benefits, insurance, taxes, admin, and more—can account for up to 70% of your total business expenses. And with Hawaii’s cost of living being the highest in the country, it means that local workers are looking for higher wages and better benefits, just to get by. We need not look much further than Hawaii’s current minimum wage debate.

#4: Changing regulations boosts the risk of non-compliance

Labor laws touch every aspect of your business, from the way you hire and fire, to how you manage payroll, benefits administration, and more (e.g. Have you heard of Hawaii’s salary history ban that took effect on Jan.1, 2019?). And Hawaii, in particular, is a highly regulated environment that’s ever-changing.

For example, in 2016 Hawaii increased fines for non-compliances with workers’ compensation requirements from $10 to $100 per employee per day. TDI penalties saw and every bigger hike—from $1 to $100 per employee per day. Additionally, the average cost of an employee-related lawsuit in the U.S. is $150,000 according to the Small Business Administration. That’s enough to sink many small businesses.

#5: Workplaces today are more multi-generational than ever

In Hawaii specifically, Millennials and GenZers now make up around 30% of the workforce, while the percentage of older workers (over the age of 55 years old) is actually growing faster than other groups, according to the Department of Labor. This means you might have young professionals and seasoned talent working side-by-side, and new pressures to take care of a workforce that has increasingly diverse needs (and motivators).

Do these HR trends and challenges sound familiar to you? It’s what makes attracting, hiring, retaining and managing your people (and your business) all the more time consuming, inefficient, and costly to navigate.

If you’re not excited about navigating these nuances on your own, perhaps it’s time to re-imagine the way you do HR. The good news is there’s a solution: the answer is HR partnerships.

The power of partnership

Today many companies in Hawaii are turning to all-in-one HR partnerships to handle the complexities of HR, get ahead of their competition, and find hidden cost savings where they’d least expect it.

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With an HR partner, you have a strategic business partner that understands your business, knows your unique HR needs, and plays an active role in helping you achieve your goals. At ProService Hawaii, this is what we do—HR is our business. Talk to us and see how we can help.

Want to learn more? Download our free ebook to explore how HR partnerships benefit businesses in Hawaii (and answers to other frequently asked questions).

Five Ways to Advance Your Leadership Skills in 2019

Better leaders create better teams, which results in greater efficiency, productivity, and confidence. But becoming a more effective leader requires spending time and resources on learning and developing your skills.

We promise you the investment will pay off. In fact, you’ll see higher sales, lower turnover, and higher customer satisfaction. But where should you start and how can you go about advancing your leadership skills in 2019?

Here are our five suggestions for investing in yourself in order to get ahead:

1. Join business organizations and attend conferences 

Providing learning opportunities doesn’t have to be expensive and include a large travel budget. In fact, Hawaii has quite a few exceptional leadership organizations and development conferences that have the advantage of understanding the local business landscape.

Hawaii Business 

Hawaii Business is the longest-running regional business magazine in America. With their website, social media platforms, monthly magazine, and events, Hawaii Business focuses on the big issues affecting Hawaii’s economy and businesses, including jobs, profit and loss, education, housing and much more. Their aim is to provide information that helps local companies succeed and people advance their careers. Among their busy calendar of events are two of Hawaii’s most popular conferences for local business leaders:

Leadership Conference 2019

Deemed the largest professional development conference in Hawaii, this conference aims to build smart, confident and authentic leaders. Gain insight from dozens of Hawaii’s most prominent leaders during a full day of skill-building workshops, speakers, and networking. While this year’s conference date is yet to be announced, it typically takes place during the summer months.

The Wahine Forum

The Wahine Forum is Hawaii’s largest leadership and career development conference for women. Hawaii’s top female executives, entrepreneurs, up-and-coming leaders and others intent on advancing their careers come together for a full-day event featuring national speakers and local leaders. Connect with like-minded individuals and cultivate relationships this Fall.

ProService Growth Series

Hosted by ProService Hawaii three times a year, Growth Series’ are premier free learning events to provide business owners and leaders with actionable and concrete learnings to enable them to build and run a successful business in Hawaii. Events focus on topics related to leadership, hiring and retaining top talent, and managing your workforce. Our February event, “Atomic Habits: Compound Tiny Changes into Remarkable Results” will be led by James Clear, New York Times best-selling author, and will share strategies to transform your habit systems and achieve remarkable results.

Chamber of Commerce

The Chamber holds numerous events and seminars throughout the year and across each of the Hawaiian islands that provide valuable networking and marketing opportunities, business training, legislative information and resources, as well as opportunities to discuss issues with government officials and top business leaders.

With over 65 events attended by close to 4,000 business leaders per year, a few ones to note for the upcoming year include “FocusON: Small Biz Marketing Tools,” “Employment Law Seminar,” and “Business on the Green Golf Tournament.” Access each of the Chamber of Commerce’s 2019 event calendars here: Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii Island.

Patsy T. Mink Leadership Alliance

The Patsy T. Mink Leadership Alliance was launched in 2016 to increase the representation of women executives in Hawaii. It is a 10-month cohort program designed for professional women leaders and entrepreneurs who are committed to personal growth, professional impact, and community change. This year’s program is from August 23, 2019 – May 28, 2020, with applications opening on April 1, 2019.

Hawaii Leadership Forum

The Hawaii Leadership Forum is a societal change organization dedicated to advancing leadership in and for Hawaii. The organization strives to improve leadership throughout the state with their cornerstone program, Omidyar Fellows, which is designed to enhance the capabilities of mid-career leaders and change-makers who can mobilize other individuals and organizations to create positive and lasting change. Applications for this year are currently being accepted through April 12, 2019.

2. Leverage the power of feedback

Feedback can be a powerful tool used to fuel growth and learning within teams and organizations. Feedback is a key to learning, growth, innovation, and scale. However, many leaders are challenged with how to give and receive feedback.

In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor states that 93% of employees feel undervalued. Communicating appreciation in the workplace is particularly important for trusting building, and can impact an employee's ability to hear other forms of feedback, like coaching.

Without appreciation, coaching comes off as complaining and nitpicking. In order for you to come alongside a team member and effectively coach them on a behavior or skill, you must first put in the time to appreciate the work they’ve already done.

Additionally, a formal process is critical for business owners that want to make feedback more effective across their organizations. Whether your company uses annual performance reviews or independent workplace surveys, understanding the results can give visibility into where there might be gaps in employee satisfaction.

3. Improve 1% each day

What are your most important goals in life? What habits fuel those goals? And what would happen if every day, you were able to get 1% better at each of those habits?

Bad habits repeat themselves not because you don’t want to change but because you have the wrong system for change. This is a core philosophy of James Clear's best-selling book Atomic Habits — you don’t rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems.

Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress. Learn more about designing the best system for advancing your leadership in this blog post. Tiny changes can equal remarkable results.

4. Utilize external training and development programs

With online courses, video webinars, and leadership talks readily available from our computers and mobile devices, there are so many resources available today to business leaders looking to continue their professional development. A couple notable options include learning boot camps, like One Month, and free educational sessions, like Coursera.

We also offer free webinars, on-demand recordings, and live events covering best practices on human resources management for all types of business owners.

A leader that creates a culture of continuous learning creates a workforce that isn’t satisfied unless they are always pushing themselves and meeting new challenges. And that’s a productive workplace.

5. Grow your skills outside of work

Developing professional skills can also be achieved by growing personally. According to the results of Deloitte’s 2016 Impact Survey, businesses and individuals may be undervaluing the benefits of volunteerism. In fact, 92% of respondents agree that volunteering is an effective way to improve leadership skills.

Well-rounded leaders can grow through volunteering or serving on a board for a local community organization. In Hawaii, these organizations are always seeking volunteers that want to make an impact: Aloha United Way; Make-A-Wish Hawaii; Surfrider Foundation; Aloha Harvest.

Being a leader is not always the easiest job; leadership is tough. But it’s also something that you can work towards by joining organizations and attending conferences, using effective business management strategies, as well as improving yourself at the office and outside of work.

Good leadership isn’t accidental, it’s something you strive to achieve and pursue with purpose.

Looking to get started? Join us at our first Growth Series event of 2019. We’ll be discussing how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master tiny behaviors which can lead to big change.

5 Hacks to Kick Your Productivity into High Gear

Whether you’re your own boss or a manager of a team, productivity in the workplace is a hot issue right now. We all want to work smarter, not harder, to get things done…and enjoy work/life balance in paradise too.

While being more productive at work isn’t a science, it does require being more intentional about how you manage your time. And we’re here to help!

Check out these 5 productivity tips to help you stay focused, keep organized, and kick your productivity into high gear! Absorb these hacks yourself or share it with your team.

1. Don’t underestimate a good night's sleep

The first hurdle to productivity is insufficient sleep (not more coffee). Healthy adults should get a minimum of seven hours a night but most workers only get 6 hours and 28 minutes, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. I personally know how important my sleep is, and so I have developed my nightly habits starting with putting my phone away at a reasonable hour and focusing on my breathing to help me wind down. If sleep is hard, start small. Shoot for 30 more minutes and say hello to more energy, focus, creativity, and good decision making.

2. Do the most important thing first, each day

What’s the one thing you absolutely, without a doubt, need to get done for the day? It may sound obvious but finish that task first—before moving onto anything else. This is the Ivy Lee method, a 100-year old to-do hack that still works like a charm, according to James Clear, New York Times best-selling author (and our upcoming Growth Series speaker).

It’s actually quite simple:

  1. Write down the six most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow.
  2. Prioritize those six items in order of their true importance.
  3. When tomorrow arrives, do the most important thing first.
  4. Work until the first task is finished before moving on to the second task; and approach the rest of your list in the same fashion.
  5. At the end of the day, move unfinished items to a new list of six for the following day.
  6. Rinse and repeat, every working day.

As Clear says, “Do the most important thing first each day. It’s the only productivity trick you need.” But if you need more tips, keep reading.

3. Remove digital distractions

While you may think that simply ignoring a text, call, email, or social media notification on your phone is improving your productivity, studies show that merely receiving a push notification on your device is as distracting as responding to a text message or a phone call during a task. So here’s a tip: Embrace your device’s Do Not Disturb mode. Even better, put your device somewhere not within reach (or sight), and get down to work.

4. Avoid this time trap

Don’t fall prey to Parkinson's law, a theory that work expands according to the time available for its completion. Put another way: if you give yourself two weeks to complete a three-hour task, the task itself could balloon to more complex proportions. Try exploring shorter, tighter deadlines to make you—and your team—more efficient.

5. Embrace the art of time blocking

Consider all the things you have to get done in a single day, or week. It can feel overwhelming. And while meetings and appointments find their way onto your calendar, what about dedicated time to accomplish specific work or to-dos? Time won’t magically appear; you have to carve it into your schedule. Give time blocking a shot. Carve out time on your calendar to concentrate on specific tasks or projects. And then protect the boundaries you’ve built.

Exercise: How to master your priorities

If you feel overwhelmed with everything that needs to get done, and you don’t know where to start, try placing your to-do list in a prioritization matrix. This will help you determine what’s most important, and what’s most urgent.

Give this a shot with your own to-do list, or try this exercise with an employee that needs help deciphering critical vs. not-critical and immediate vs. not-immediate tasks. A matrix like this can help them determine what needs to be completed when, and possibly bring to light items that can be removed altogether.

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Step 1: Task Importance // Split your to-do list into “High Importance” and “Low Importance” by identifying the consequences of not doing a particular task.

Step 2: Task Urgency // Now split both your “High Importance” and “Low Importance” tasks into “High Urgency” and “Low Urgency” so that you have four groups of tasks.

Step 3: Number your 4 groups // 1 – Do Now: “High Importance” and “High Urgency tasks that you should do now; 2 – Do Next: “High Importance” and “Low Urgency” tasks that you should do next; 3 – Do Last: “Low Importance” and “High Urgency’” tasks that you save for last; 4 – Do Never: “Low Importance” and “Low Urgency” tasks that you should do nothing with until they either become more important or more urgent.

These hacks are sure to make you more productive, but if you’re looking for more ways to improve, join us with speaker, James Clear, on February 27, at our first Growth Series event of 2019. He’s a habit formation expert, New York Times best selling author, and he’ll be sharing advice on how to get 1% better every day—you don’t want to miss this!  Get more info here and use the promo code GS2019 to register today!

Do’s & Don’ts: Are You Asking the Right Interview Questions?

Have you ever made a bad hire? You’re not alone. Surveys have found that 48% of all new hires have to be replaced in the first 18 months. Hiring the wrong person can be an expensive mistake too—on average, a bad hire can cost a company 30% of the person’s annual salary. There's a lot at stake.

Determining the right fit in the interview and hiring process is so important, now more than ever. And while asking thoughtful interview questions can help you learn if a candidate is a good fit for your work (or not), there’s one thing you have to watch out for: illegal interview questions.

Even inadvertently, some interview questions can skirt the line of discrimination when they touch on issues like race, gender, or health status. That’s especially true in Hawaii, where state anti-discrimination laws go far beyond federal protections.

The good news is you can get the information you need while staying within the law, and protecting the rights of everyone involved.

Check out our tips for what to ask — and what NOT to ask — when interviewing candidates.


1. Legal Status

Citizenship, nationality, and ancestry are protected classes, so you want to avoid any questions that touch on these issues. Focus instead on what’s required for the job. In most cases, that means all you need to know is whether or not they’re authorized to work in the U.S. legally. The exception is for positions that specifically require someone to be a U.S. citizen. If that’s the case, be sure the requirement is stated up-front in the job description.

DO: Ask, “Are you legally authorized to work in the United States?”
DON’T: Ask about the person’s citizenship, where they were born, or where their parents came from. Remember, while talking story is often expected in the interview process here in Hawaii, you can talk story and avoid these types of questions.


2. Schedules

Federal law prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion (which includes not having a religion). At the same time, while your neighborhood may not be a protected class, Hawaii employers may make unfair assumptions about a candidate’s availability based on where they live and the distance of their commute. Keep it fair by sticking to questions about their availability and your actual job requirements, such as whether they can start work at 9 a.m., or are available to work weekends.

DO: State the scheduled requirements in terms of both hours, shifts, and days. Then ask, “Are you able to work within our these requirements?”  
DON’T: Ask about the person’s religion, what holidays they observe, or where they live.


3. Future Plans

You may be leery of hiring an older candidate because you think they’re likely to retire in a few years, but it’s actually illegal to reject someone for this reason. Instead, focus on the person’s plans for the future—after all, an older candidate may turn out to have more staying power than someone younger who’s thinking of changing careers or moving to another state. (In fact, Hawaii law prohibits all age discrimination, not just discrimination against workers over 40, as covered under federal law.)

DO: Ask, “What are your long-term career goals?”
DON’T: Ask how much longer the person plans to work, or when they plan to retire.


4. Availability

It’s illegal to use a person’s marital or family status as a reason for hiring. As in other cases, their availability is what really matters, so if the position involves a lot of overtime, weekend shifts, or late evenings, focus on that.

DO: Ask, “Are you available for travel? or “Will you be able to work outside of regular business hours?” Whatever it is, be as clear and as specific as possible and then ask, “Are you able to meet these requirements?”
DON’T: Ask if the person has children, or about their child-care situation.


5. Ability to Do the Job

People with mental or physical disabilities are protected classes under federal law, while Hawaii law prohibits discrimination against pregnant women. Be specific about requirements—does the position require heavy lifting? long hours on your feet?—and keep interview questions focused on the job itself. After all, it’s the person’s ability to do the work that matters.

DO: Ask, “Are you able to perform the essential duties of this position, as listed in the job description?”
DON’T: Ask about the person’s disabilities, medical conditions, or whether they are pregnant.


6. Pay

The goal of Hawaii’s Salary History Ban is to end the cycle of pay discrimination (11 other states have passed similar laws). Employers aren’t allowed to base a worker’s pay on their past salary, so it’s a topic you want to avoid asking about in interviews. And even though re-framing the question around an applicant’s expectations for pay is still legal, it’s a sticky question that you’ll probably want to avoid. Instead, look at what other companies are paying for similar jobs, and come up with a pay range based on objective criteria like experience, education, and skills.

DO: State the pay range for the role.
DON’T: Ask about how much someone was paid in their last job.


Final Thoughts

As an employer, your goal is to get the right person for the job—and that can be tough to do in Hawaii with our record-low unemployment. Anti-discrimination laws don’t need to make hiring harder. The important thing to remember is that all candidates deserve a fair opportunity (and that diversity can be good for business too). So be sure to:

☑ Keep your questions related to the job you’re hiring for
☑ Ask the same questions of all applicants
☑ And avoid questions that are personal or discriminatory


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