Tips for Re-Entry into the Workplace

Tips for Re-Entry Into the Workplace Jimmy Lustig

Since the coronavirus’ emergence in the United States in early 2020, life for many people has drastically changed. Very few businesses have been spared from the economic ravages of the virus, and after three months of sheltering at home, some offices are looking to finally reopen. While some are eager to return to work in what’s called “the new normal,” many others are rightfully concerned about what this means for their safety in an age of a highly contagious disease. Even with taking extra precautions to limit the spread of disease, psychological safety for employees is lacking. Workers are likely to be worried about more than just their health, but also about the financial stability of their company. 

To alleviate this fear, it’s a good idea to ease employees back into the workplace slowly. Employers can take a few tips from kindergarten teachers to help prepare their team for a successful transition. 

Early communication

Employers should reach out in advance before sending employees back into the office to work with information that tells them how they are going to maintain a safe environment. Even though communication has always been important, it is now crucial to be even more open than before. These messages should come from the company’s leadership, including the CEO and a direct manager. You can prepare your employees with pictures and descriptions of the updated environment to let them know how the workplace will look and feel. 


Use the first day back as a chance to rethink and reconnect the organization to the things that are most important. After a lengthy hiatus, it will be necessary to re-onboard and reorient everyone. We typically associate the onboarding process with new people, but remember that returning employees will be in a much different mental state now than they were three months ago. This is a great opportunity to reset expectations around the values and behavior of your company. 


In order to reopen safely, companies must implement new policies and protocols set forth by public health officials. It’s necessary to be conscious of these, but this needs to be integrated into the company culture. It doesn’t fall on the responsibility of just one individual to keep the whole company safe. By building a collective spirit, this holds everyone accountable. 

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Mutual Aid

Mutual Aid Jimmy Lustig

Often times, philanthropy is synonymous with charity. Those who are able to contribute will typically donate money to a cause, which usually takes the form of a non-profit organization. Did you know, however, that there are other ways to get involved that deviate from this framework? This is where mutual aid comes in. 

Mutual aid puts power in the hands of the people. In times of need, communities take on the responsibility for caring for one another rather than requiring individuals to fend for themselves. This form of organization is volunteer-run, transparent, and driven by the needs of the community members. Mutual aid is a symbiotic relationship where all people offer material goods or assistance to one another.

It’s important to distinguish mutual aid from charity. Under charity, a centralized organization serves as an intermediary between the giving and receiving parties where the recipient is often dependent on a relationship negotiating their access to access to resources. Many charities are funded in part by grants, which, in a sense is money with conditions attached. This money, often coming from wealthy individuals or corporations, comes with the intention to address social problems and serve the needy. As a result, however, it is these same entities that decide what strategies should be funded. 

While both charity and mutual aid seek to provide help to those that need it, key differences lie in the underlying structure of both frameworks. Mutual aid builds solidarity by allowing people to work together and participate in shared political education programming. By creating a space where people can come together based on shared need and work closely with those whose experiences differ from their own, mutual aid helps to cultivate solidarity. 

Collective care has existed throughout the history of humanity, but in modern times, this is a radical act. Most recently amid America’s climate of political unrest and the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve seen examples of mutual aid in action. Mutual aid funds have been circulating to secure donations and redistribute that money to populations made vulnerable by the economic closures resulting from COVID-19. Communities have organized aid groups by collecting and distributing supplies to at-risk populations such as the homeless and minority communities. As one organizer says, “What we need people to understand is that direct outreach and mutual aid is going to keep you safe.” 

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The Art of Encouragement

Encouragement is one of the most effective and positive ways to spur others forward. Whether you’re leading a business, instructing volunteers, or just showing up to work every day, knowing how to encourage others is incredibly important. Encouragement is the act of giving someone hope, confidence, or support. 

The Benefits

Positivity improves the ways our brains function. While negative emotions can slow down our concentration and harm our cognitive abilities, positive emotions can do the opposite. When we are feeling happy or upbeat, it can improve our overall outlook on life, our mental processing ability, and our cognitive flexibility. 

Encouragement isn’t just about what you say but involves how you say it. The tone of how we speak also affects others. Coworkers are more likely to respond positively to a pleasant tone than to a discouraging tone. Offering encouragement in a positive tone directly correlated to how positively they interrupt your message

The Implementation  

The English word Encourage stems from the French word encoragier, which means to “make strong or harken.” The goal of encouragement is to lift someone in confidence and support. You can encourage those around you in the following ways:

  • When you notice something positive about a coworker, say something.
  • Learn how your coworkers receive encouragement and meet them where they are. 
  • When you introduce someone, add in a few positive words to describe them. 
  • Send notes or letters containing positive comments and reminders.
  • Celebrate great accomplishments!
  • Be an active listener. Pay attention to what the people are saying and try to remember what they say. 
  • When you see people making positive growth, let them know that you notice their effort.

Encouragement is a great way to improve your relationships and the environment around you. Think positive, and the difference will be noticeable.

How Entrepreneurs Can Impact Their Community

If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, you should consider opening your business with the intention of making a positive impact on your local community. You don’t have to have a brick and mortar business, either. It doesn’t matter if you decide that your business will be a purely online venture; you will still need the support of local communities to grow and prosper. You can impact your community by investing in it in various ways.


Donate a Portion of Your Profits

If you can demonstrate to your local community that you care, you will truly reap the rewards of it. For starters, if you keep a record of the amounts you have given to charity, you can claim this as a tax deduction. Many businesses do this for this very purpose. You will be killing two birds with one stone. Find a charitable organization like a homeless shelter or struggling rehab institution and give them a hand. You don’t have to donate money; you can donate things like furniture, supplies, etc.


Participate in Holiday Food Drives

So many people are in need these days, especially during the holidays, and you can help make a difference. Contact your local food banks or food pantries and ask them about the kinds of food items they accept. You can enlist the help of your employees, or you can ask your friends and family for help. Be sure you communicate with the organizations you plan on helping. They just might help you with collection boxes, posters and other equipment that will make your food drive a success.


Sponsor Local Events

Using your time and some of your money to sponsor an event will give your business the exposure it needs. Look at it as a low-budget, but effective, way of building your brand and acquiring more customers. Free advertising for your small business is almost always one of the end results of sponsoring a trade show.


Be sure that there is some kind of way for those who come to the event to know your business is sponsoring it. These could be posters, online advertising or even paid time on radio shows. Remember that organizations and causes you sponsor will truly appreciate you and spread positive words about you and your business.

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Show Your Employees Appreciation with These Tips

Employers have to focus on different things at work. Because of this, they may sometimes forget to show appreciation towards employees. When employees don’t feel appreciated, they may lose motivation and others may seek employment elsewhere. If you show them appreciation, then they will work hard and stay. Keep these tips in mind to show your employees appreciation.


Always Say Thank You

Some managers forget to say thank you to employees. It’s a simple gesture, but it shows that you appreciate your employees’ contributions. Some give a monotone thanks to their employees – avoid doing that. People can tell when you’re genuine, so make sure to give them an honest thanks.

This will show that you care and they will appreciate that you recognize their work. People who feel appreciated work harder and want to continue to impress or assist the one who thanked them. Furthermore, employees that feel genuinely appreciated will pass this feeling forward through their work and interaction with other employees.


Share Success Stories

If your employee does something that goes the extra mile, share that success with others. This will show that you care, allow you to express that appreciation, and encourage other employees to work hard. However, keep in mind that if you do it too often or for only one employee, then others may get mad or feel discouraged.

Find the right balance. As you do so, you can show appreciation while continuing to motivate other employees to work hard.


Speak Highly Of Employees Behind Their Backs

Some people speak badly about others, but you can speak highly of others instead. As you interact with employees, tell them something you appreciate about another employee. The person you talked to will inevitably inform the employee you complimented and they will appreciate what you said.

Just as gossip or mean words go around the office, kind words will eventually reach the ears of others. It shows your employees that you think highly of them and appreciate the work that they do around the office. This sets a good example for the entire workplace as well and promotes a healthy culture.


When you show employees appreciation, they will want to continue to receive that appreciation. They do so by continuing to work and completing tasks that you request. This will help you to create a positive work environment and keep your employees happy.

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What is Impact Investing?

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Investors have the power to improve the world and turn a profit at the same time, they merely need to find the right methods for doing so. Impact investing is one such technique, one that is growing in popularity as more and more people take an interest in corporate responsibility.

How it Works

Impact investing is an investment strategy that focuses on businesses that have a positive impact on the world. Investors look for companies or small businesses that have good environmental policies, provide opportunities to underprivileged communities, or offer other benefits to society. However, they still also look for businesses that can turn a profit.

Both aspects are important because companies need to make money and stay in business in order to provide societal benefits. Investors who turn a profit can dedicate even more money to impact investing or general philanthropy. A talented investor can turn impact investing into a virtuous cycle that provides both social and financial benefits to everyone.

Myths and Misconceptions

There are quite a few myths surrounding income investing. Many of them deal with the potential for profits. For example, some investors believe that impact investing necessarily has lower rates of return than other methods. That is not the case. Investors have reported internal rates of return as high as 34% on their investments, which demonstrates the potential for profit.

Other investors worry that they will need to tie their money down for long periods to see a reasonable return. The average holding period for income investors is roughly five years, which is on par with that of venture capital firms. Investors can expect a reasonably rapid return on their investment as long as they choose their investments wisely.

The Results of Impact Investing

Impact investing really can make a big difference for a community. Businesses that operate in developing nations often need relatively small investments of capital in order to thrive. Those that get the investments provide livelihoods for their workers, who can go on to spend their wages in the local economy. That fuels more growth and encourages development.

Impact investors can also encourage companies to focus on protecting the environment, such as by providing alternative jobs to people who work in destructive industries. Impact investing is getting more popular over time, so it is likely that the positive impact will likewise continue to increase.

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Maintaining Productivity While Working from Home

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Working from home has its perks, allowing employees to achieve their desired work-life balance. However, one common downside of working from home is the difficulties employees can face in terms of productivity. Working from home poses many distractions and makes it easy to procrastinate. If an employee has children at home, for example, then it can be a bit overwhelming to ration enough time to complete all of one’s tasks. This can also cause the work quality to dwindle if multitasking is not a strong quality in the person.


One’s full attention tends to alternate between the tasks they happen to be doing, so the focus is dispensed unevenly. This effects quality, performance, and productivity. Awareness of these distractions and problems can help workers to maintain a high level of productivity while working from home, along with these simple fixes.


Turn Your Notifications Off

If you do not need to use your phone for work, you will likely benefit from turning it off. There is no sense in being bothered every five minutes to be bombarded with notifications or phone calls, especially if you are typically not interacting on it when you are in the office. Having your phone accessible may still prompt you to constantly check it. It is best to put the phone down until work is completed so that your undivided attention is allocated to work.


Schedule Your Objectives

Although working from home does allow for flexible planning, there still needs to be structure within your work routine. Sometimes, people underestimate the time that they have due to the comfort of their at-home job. By the time they know it, they are approaching important deadlines. There’s no need to cut it close and rush work. Having a schedule will keep you on track with your objectives and prevent any slacking.


Get Dressed

Working from home also offers the convenience of being able to wear whatever you want – like loungewear. However, lounge clothes may actually have the opposite effect that you are looking for. By getting dressed in business or business casual clothing, your morale can get an instant boost and you feel more productive and more authoritative.


Set Up A Proper Work Environment

A person working at their home should probably invest in an office or set aside space for working. Having the appropriate setup for work will also assist in your organization. It is not wise to do work in bed because, subconsciously, you associate your bed with sleep and relaxation. Even if you are not tired, being in the bed can create lethargic moods. The same applies for couches. This environment makes it hard to be productive as all you will want to do is sleep or decompress from your work. A desk specifically for working would be a better option in these cases.

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How to Give Back During the Holidays

How to Give Back During the Holidays James Lustig

The holidays are a celebratory season that’s usually spent with family. Traditionally, the holidays are a time to give and receive gifts from loved ones. However, holiday festivities can also be about giving to those less fortunate. Unfortunately, there are millions of people living without bare necessities like food, water, shelter, and clothing. Giving these resources is greatly appreciated by those who are in need.


One can challenge themselves to be selfless this holiday season by giving their time, energy, or resources and involving themselves in some of the following charitable activities in their community.


Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen or Shelter

Providing and serving warm meals to the homeless population of your community can be done at local soup kitchens. Shelters tend to fall short of volunteers during the holidays, so anyone interested in helping can dedicate their time to the kitchen.


Visit a Nursing Home

Residents of nursing homes can be discharged and taken home with their families during the holidays for quality time with their loved ones. However, not all elders have that opportunity. This can be a bit saddening especially as the holiday season can bring with it seasonal blues. A person can visit a nursing home and offer their company to those who could benefit. Holiday activities and entertainment can also be coordinated for residents as well.


Spontaneous Acts of Kindness

Becoming involved in a non-profit organization is not necessary to give back during the holiday season. One can do spontaneous acts of kindness such as paying for the meal of the person who may be behind them in line, or a person can give back by donating clothing that they don’t wear anymore.


Care Packages for the Homeless

A fun project to do during the holidays is creating care packages for the less fortunate. A care package is like a gift bag full of essentials like snacks, toiletries, clothes, and other useful items. A care package may even contain school supplies such as a backpack full of pencils, notebooks, and binders for children who can’t afford these supplies. Care packages come in handy as they contain things everyone uses and needs. There are usually organizations in communities that will sponsor families or children who need items during this time of the year. Getting in touch with these organizations will ensure that your items are delivered to those who need it most.

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The Differences Between Criticism and Feedback as a Leader

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Nobody likes having their ideas or methods challenged. It can be uncomfortable or even embarrassing. However, it is a part of professional growth and is also one of the most useful tools you have in becoming a more effective leader. Is there a difference between feedback and criticism? In many ways, the two are similar, but there are key differences, specifically in how they are communicated to the employee.


Feedback is Purposeful, Criticism is Personal

If a member of your team approaches you about a problem with workload scheduling and feels like they are pulling most of the weight of the team, they can become frustrated with a perceived lack of follow-up by management. Feedback should involve the facts of the situation, and questions to show a desire for a deeper understanding. Criticism would be based on the emotions and feelings behind the actions. The intent in providing feedback is to invoke change in the parties involved, rather than relating an issue to an individual’s personality or skill set.


Feedback is Productive, Criticism is Not

The motivation behind feedback is to see solutions to problems or to praise the parts of your efforts that are perceived to be more on-track. The motivation of criticism is to simply point out problems without any reasonable idea toward a solution. Criticism is rarely provided in a positive light and more often is focused on areas of weakness. Addressing weakness is important in any position, however it should be done in an encouraging way.


Feedback Builds Up, Criticism Tears Down

When employees provide feedback to their managers, it is done with the purpose of bringing about positive change or just getting their voices heard. Feedback given to employees should be constructive as well as informative. Feedback gives credit where credit is due while addressing weaknesses in a professional manner. Criticism focuses on mostly on examples where employees are falling short and can diminish their morale within their position.


Feedback is Often Solicited, Criticism Rarely Is

It is a rare thing that a manager would voluntarily open him or herself up to public scrutiny, but it is possible to find out what people think about you by asking for feedback. Frequent feedback is typically beneficial for all parties involved, creating an environment of transparency and openness.


While the differences are subtle, they exist; feedback and criticism are closely tied. In fact, one could argue that feedback and constructive criticism are one and the same. Learning the key differences between the two is a valuable and necessary skill every leader should have or develop.

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Common Leadership Mistakes to Avoid

There are hundreds of books and articles written on how to be a great leader. Filled with characteristics that make a natural leader, skills to develop to become a better manager, and advice on how to oversee your team properly, these publications are plentiful with great content. However, when accepting a new leadership position, few think to research what not to do. You may have your own idea of leadership do’s and don’ts from past experience in other jobs, but knowing commonly made mistakes is a great way to prepare for these challenges and plan to overcome them as you take on your new role.


Being closed off to feedback

Your direct manager will be the one to continue to evaluate your job performance as you take on your new role as a leader. They report on the day-to-day tasks that you still are expected to complete while overseeing others. Unless your direct manager is a fly on the wall, they will likely be unheeding to the type of leader that you are.

Your team is the best resource to provide you with accurate feedback on how you are performing as a manager. It is important that they know that you are open to and encourage all feedback, both positive and negative, through open communication. It can even be beneficial to provide them with a safe environment or, if necessary, an anonymous way to provide you with feedback.


Not setting (and conveying) consistent standards

To keep team morale high, it is important to hold all members of the team to the same high standard, even yourself. When team members feel inclusive and parallel to one another in their positions, they are more motivated to perform well for their leaders and have an improved employee experience at work. This also holds true for negative feedback and areas of improvement. Holding each team member to the same high standard will open up the floor to comfortable discussions between you both to address areas of concern in their work.


Managing everyone the same

Your teammates are human, and this means that they are all unique. With varying personalities comes an abundance of ideas, creativity, feedback, and other benefits. However, a challenge in individualism is hat the style of management that each member needs can be diverse. It is important that your management style for each individual on your team reflects his or her professional and personal goals, as well as the tasks that they complete on a daily basis. Observation and adaptation will go a long way in developing the right management techniques for your teammates.


Being a first-time manager or gaining a new team will come with challenges and obstacles to overcome. Properly preparing for this change is the key to success as you learn and grow with your new team.

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