Workplace bullying is more common than many think. This should not be too surprising; remember elementary, middle or high school when bullies terrified students and even teachers?
If you were not a target, you knew somebody that was. People don’t grow out of bullying. Bullies, in fact, can be very intelligent, get good grades, and then get hired by companies based upon their knowledge and skills. They are often quite skilled in hiding any signs of bullying during the interview process and for as long as three months when they pass probation and then become a permanent member of the workplace. This is often the time in which the bully comes out of the closet seeking a victim, or pairs up with another bully at work and they both team up to seek victims. Some facts about workplace bullying are:
- According to a 2010 Workplace Bullying Institute Survey, slightly more than one out of three (35%) of U.S. workers have been bullied at work.
- Victims of workplace bullying suffer from psychological and physical symptoms resulting from bullying such as sleep disturbances and stress.
- Victims of workplace bullying are more likely to skip work, decrease their performance and seek employment at a psychologically and physically safer place.
- Victims of workplace bullying will file lawsuits against their employers and managers for discrimination under Title VII and violations of the Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSHA). As a manager, can you afford to expose yourself or your company to increases in health care utilization at a time with double-digit health care premium increases? Can you fully achieve the strategies and goals of your company knowing that your employees are not fully focusing on their jobs but bullying? Can you allow your company to be exposed to preventable lawsuits and other legal actions? Can you permit, condone, allow, ignore, or minimize behavior that is harmful and hurtful toward any employee under your management and leadership? Clearly, the answer is no.
Thus, as a manager and steward of organizational assets, including your employees, you must do something. But what? There are five concrete actions that you must take to prevent workplace bullying when it occurs.
- Adopt a workplace bullying policy. The purpose of a workplace bullying policy is to formally establish the “rules of the road” regarding inappropriate, and in some cases, appropriate behavior at work. Other HR policies such as harassment and safety policies do not usually address workplace bullying. As such, the contents of a workplace bullying policy should spell out which behaviors will not be tolerated (e.g. physical abuse, verbal abuse, email stalking, etc.) and then identify how incidents are to be reported and how they will be handled by the organization. It is critical that the workplace bullying policy align with existing policies so that workers are not confused or do not play one policy against the other. An attorney must review the policy before it is finalized to be sure that it comports with federal, state, and local laws and regulations. Do not minimize the unnecessary legal, regulatory, and public relations risk of failing to attend to workplace bullying in a serious fashion.
- Communicate and educate the workforce about the policy. It is crucial that the policy is effectively communicated. Once the workplace bullying policy is approved a communication plan must be developed, focusing upon the key messages, different audiences, and communication channels used to disseminate the policy; simply slapping the policy on an intranet site or website is not sufficient in terms of communicating the policy. Policies of this type should be presented in person with senior leaders, direct supervisors, and HR so that a discussion can be facilitated about the policy and to signal its importance. Beyond making people aware of the policy which is the aim of communication, the policy should be incorporated into all orientation sessions. Classes on “Preventing and Addressing Workplace Bullying” should be designed with the policy as the centerpiece to the training. Nothing beats face-toface interactions, even in the age of the Internet. Effectiveness and efficiency are not the same.
- Set expectations that the policy will be followed without exception. A policy without consequences, whether positive or negative, is like a dog without teeth. You are familiar with the saying, “All bark and no bite.” Be sure to put “teeth” into the policy to create and sustain a bully-free workplace. Examples of such include aligning the bullying policy with the organizations’ progressive discipline policy and even having awards for the organization or certain departments if there are zero occurrences of workplace bullying in a specified time period – similar to safety awards for having no injuries or accidents.
- Establish an anonymous hotline and investigation process to field complaints. Do not make targets of workplace bullying a victim twice, first for being a victim of such behavior and second for reporting such behavior. It is important that employees are able to report incidents of workplace bullying to a neutral third party outside their chain of command to minimize retaliation and discomfort. Many organizations have a hotline or have a position such as an ombudsperson. Whatever mechanism you use for reporting, it must meet these three criteria:
- Accessible 24/7 particularly if you are a 24-hour operation
- Trusted by both the individual making the claim and by those who are part of the claim
- Record the results of the policy to keep it up-to-date. Report on an annual basis the effectiveness of the policy, the enforcement of the policy, as well as the resolution of workplace bullying complaints. Do not disclose individual information but focus on organization-wide results. These five concrete actions to prevent workplace bullying make good business sense. In this era of fiscal austerity, lean processes, and quests for higher productivity, there is no place at any organization to waste time, talent and resources by having to spend precious organizational and managerial resources on anything unrelated to achieving the mission and strategies of the organization.
These steps also represent ways to make your workplace psychologically and physically safer for all employees. Beyond workplace safety, a work environment free of harassment, intimidation, threats, and harm is a workplace that allows workers to focus on work, rather than worrying about distractors.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Marty Martin,known for his state-of-the art content presented in an engaging, dynamic fashion, has been speaking and training nationally and internationally for more than 30 years. Currently, he is working on Taming Disruptive Behavior which will be published by The American College of Physician Executives (ACPE) in late 2012. Dr. Martin is the Director of the Health Sector Management MBA Concentration and Associate Professor in the College of Commerce at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois and practices at Aequus Wealth Management. For more information or to contact Dr. Martin, please visit his website at www.drmartymartin.com.
FROM BED LINENS TO TOWELS, IT MAY BE TIME TO FACE UP TO LAUNDRY UPGRADES THAT IMPROVE THE BOTTOM LINE
For hotels today, it’s all about the guest experience. And profitably managing all aspects of that experience is a daily challenge for hospitality managers.
Close to the top of the list of guest amenities needing continual attention and improvement are the bed and bath. Fluffy towels, down comforters, duvet covers, high thread count sheets, extra pillows and hypoallergenic materials -- there’s no question that the condition and quality of hotel linens can make or break a property’s reputation.
Choosing the correct laundry equipment with the right capacity and features plays a vital role in ensuring the good condition and cleanliness of linens. This is especially true for smaller hotels in the 100- to 300-room range where linen turnaround can be a challenge. These hotels don’t want to invest in extra linens inventory. The ideal is to have three par on hand – one on the shelf, one on the bed and one in the washer. Budget hotels may run at only two par. Hotels that experience volume peaks due to seasonal tourist flows must be prepared to handle those peaks.
Depending on your equipment size and features, the wrong mix can make it difficult for laundry staff to meet daily linen turnaround demands. Most smaller properties have only one laundry shift, from 7 or 8 a.m. to 3 or 4 p.m. In the worst case scenario, keeping bed linens and towels at optimal levels could require staff overtime. This includes not only laundry staff, but housekeeping when they have to wait for fresh linens. Obviously, ongoing overtime can inflate a hotel’s labor budget pretty quickly. However with the right mix of equipment, it’s possible to improve laundry throughput, reduce operating expenses and ensure guests aren’t lining up at the front desk complaining about delays in making up their rooms.
MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICE FOR YOUR NEEDS
While it’s easy to use property size as the consideration for hotel and motel laundries, managers should be careful not to undersize or oversize. As laundry
rarely comes in all at once, several smaller washer-extractors might make more sense than several larger units. It’s also important to evaluate the volume and composition of linens to be processed, as well as the variety of items to be washed. A busy hotel might have a 10 to 15-year-old machine that they’ve kept simply because it hasn’t broken down. However older machines have a low extraction rate of 80 to 100 G-force, which is fine for hotel linens that are a 50/50 blend of cotton and polyester which doesn’t hold a lot of moisture. But the 100 percent cotton, high thread count sheets and fluffy terrycloth towels that many hotels use today hold more water and the lower G-force doesn’t extract enough water, which has several repercussions. If enough water isn’t removed, the dryer needs to run longer which can increase utility costs and delay linen processing. Plus, longer dry times means the dryer won’t keep up with loads as they come out of the washer.
On the other hand some smaller hotels are spending money they don’t need to spend to buy large, high-extract machines. High extraction machines of 300 -400 G-force or more are becoming the trend because of the time they can save, but if the linen mix doesn’t require high extract, then it’s wasted money. Additionally, once you get above 300 G-force, efficiency drops off because most water is extracted between 150 and 250 G-force, depending on the fabric. Another factor to consider is if the washer-extractor is not filled to capacity, it’s probably also wasting soap and water.
NEWER TECHNOLOGIES INCREASE EFFICIENCY TO LOWER COSTS
So, when does it make sense to upgrade and what is the right equipment mix? The good news is that today’s laundry technologies have evolved to deliver clear improvements in efficiency, throughput, utility consumption, lowering operating costs while contributing to guest satisfaction.
If you’re ready to upgrade, look for washer-extractors with a high degree of cycle flexibility and programmability to accommodate a variety of linens. The newest machines provide variable speeds that can range from 80 to 200 G-force, depending on the spin cycle and load. They also feature advanced control systems that can be programmed to automatically dispense chemicals and eliminate problems such as over-sudsing and excessive water use. Such control systems also feature advanced sensors can alert operators when there’s a slow or clogged drain or leaking inlet valve. They also can adjust water levels based on the type of load being processed, saving water and cleaning clothes more effectively.
Dryer technologies have also improved to include better sensors for more efficient drying. It’s not uncommon for hotel laundry staff to set dryer times longer than needed, say 35 or 40 minutes when the load could have dried in 20 minutes. They are essentially “cooking” the linens, hastening fiber loss and shortening linen life. Another feature of the newest dryers is auto-reversing drums to help reduce linen tangling and minimize wrinkling.
RETURN ON INVESTMENTS
Even better, through increased efficiency payback on these new washer-extractors and dryers can be as short as one year. Think about the size of your hotel when evaluating your laundry equipment needs. We know a 100-room property with a swimming pool but no restaurant generates eight to 12 pounds of laundry per room per day. If your laundry staff works an eight-hour day, typically seven hours a day would be spent washing with the last load finishing up in the dryer during the eighth hour
A good mix of equipment that would save money and improve efficiency for that size operation would be two 60-pound washer-extractors and two 75-pound tumble dryers.
With the capacity provided by that equipment, laundry shifts could be reduced from eight hours to six. Using the formula of $10 per hour for each of two laundry room employees, that’s a savings of $240 a week or $12,000 a year. Those savings alone would pay for the machines. A knowledgeable laundry equipment distributor should be able to help calculate the numbers so a hotel property owner doesn’t over- or undersize the purchase. A good distributor can also facilitate financing for purchases as low as $2,500.
Ultimately, you’ll want to ensure you select the capacity and performance necessary to improve your cost of ownership, while staying within a budget that still takes into account the savings to be gained. When you can reduce laundry operation expenses – from utilities and chemicals, to linen replacement and labor – and get consistently dependable performance, there’s no doubt it will show up in one place: your bottom line.
As a business leader, department head, or business owner, you know one of your key tasks is to keep your team motivated. Long hours in a laundry or linen processing plant can take a toll on motivation -- especially with summer on our heels. And, the state of our economy doesn’t help. To keep your team motivated, you need to constantly remind them of the company's vision, hold them accountable to targets and goals, mentor them, and support them in their work. But how do you stay motivated?
When it comes to leaders, motivation is about engagement. How engaged are you in your work? How committed are you to results? Are you pushing forward with a sense of purpose and drive, or are you simply going through motions? To be your best, you need to give serious thought to what makes you flourish and succeed.
When you are motivated, you are a wholehearted participant in your own life. You feel confident, energized and engaged. However, when you are de-motivated, you "lose your edge." Your energy decreases. Your stress rises. Whether you feel your motivation waning or you want to keep your current high level of motivation on a roll, the following suggestions will help you stay at your best.
STAY CONNECTED TO WHAT YOU ARE DOING
It's one thing to do the work you're paid to do; it's another to be fulfilled by the work you do. If you're doing your job for the money or title, you could find that over time it's a harder job to do. But if you're connected to what you do you'll feel motivated because you'll be achieving a bigger purpose for yourself.
Staying connected to your values —the principles, standards, and qualities that guide you – will keep you motivated. Recall a time when everything was ‘just right’ in your work or personal life. Jot down what it was about that memory that made it memorable and significant. Then highlight the words that meet the definition of values as principles, standards, and qualities. Your own words will tell you what your values are.
KNOW WHAT IT TAKES TO GET BETTER
Motivation comes from learning how to be better. Ask yourself, "What am I trying to achieve?" and "What do I need to learn to reach my goal?" It’s not about taking a workshop or reading a book. It's about challenging yourself to stretch yourself into a new level of results.
When you practice learning as an element of personal leadership, you stay motivated and get better results for yourself and for your work. By learning, you empower yourself to have, do, and be whatever you choose. With empowerment comes confidence. You don't second-guess yourself or worry you'll fail, because you know if you get it wrong, you'll have the ability to figure out how to get it right.
FIND THE RIGHT SUPPORT SYSTEM
When you're a leader, your team leans on you. You guide them, support them and instruct them. However, when you're on top, there’s no one for you to lean on. That's when you need to look outside of your organization, your role, or even your industry for the people who can mentor you. Look for those whose style you’d like to emulate, people who inspire you by the way they lead and the results they get. Connect with them and learn how you can become more with the help of others who have already done what you want to do.
The more carefully you build your support team, the more powerful it will be. The people on your support team help you stay motivated because they expand you by giving you access to what you don't know. It doesn't have to be lonely at the top.
MAINTAIN A SENSE OF BALANCE
While maintaining a work/life balance is not a way to stay motivated, it is a way to keep from becoming de-motivated. Being an effective and motivated leader should not come at the expense of quality of life, and quality of life should not come at the expense of business results. The key is to define what that balance looks like for you. If you're a senior leader, balance may not look very traditional. It might not be 9-5, Monday through Friday, with holidays and weekends off. Strive for what works for you and fulfills you in your personal life – whatever that work/life balance is – while understanding that it may not look traditional. Even if you can't carve out chunks of time, at least create some mental space where you can relax, turn off distractions, and let yourself go.
MOTIVATE THE MOTIVATOR
Staying motivated in today's economy and work reality can be difficult for anyone. But when you take responsibility for motivating yourself and others, you become a true inspiration and can better reach your goals. As a result, your vision, your potential, and your efforts all leave a mark.
ALEXANDRIA, VA — AmeriPride Services’ Twin Falls, ID commercial laundry facility is the first ever to earn TRSA’s Hygienically Clean Healthcare designation, recognizing the plant’s commitment to cleanliness measured through third-party, quantified biological testing and inspection.
The new Hygienically Clean Healthcare certification process maximizes objectivity in verifying that textiles cleaned in a laundry meet hygiene standards appropriate for medical facilities. The designation is a variation of TRSA’s standard Hygienically Clean seal, which is suitable to any type of business that uses garments, linens, towels, floor mats, mops and other professionally laundered items.
Compared with the generic certification, Hygienically Clean Healthcare inspection protocols emphasize scrutiny of techniques for compliance with OSHA’s blood borne pathogens standard. To attain either designation, a laundry must deploy best management practices (BMPs) and pass bacteriological testing and facility inspections.
Tests use the United States Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) 61 protocol:
• Allows a minimal amount of bacteria to remain after textiles are laundered
• Pass/fail criteria of less than or equal to 20 colony forming units (cfu)
A laundry is not required to use particular processes, chemicals or BMPs to achieve certification—whatever tactics management feels are necessary can be used to achieve TRSA’s Minimum Performance Specifications as measured by bacteriological testing. But BMPs must be documented in a written quality control manual.
“Congratulations to AmeriPride and their Twin Falls management on the attainment of this industry milestone,” said Joseph Ricci, TRSA president and CEO. “This achievement proves their dedication to building their customers’ confidence that their laundry takes every step possible to prevent human illness.”
Despite sentiment that bacteria need not be measured to verify laundry cleanliness, TRSA sees such assessment as vital. The International Standards Organization (ISO) emphatically states that certifications of processes do not reflect product quality. Only if a product itself is subjected to a certification standard can the product label or package be embellished with a certification conformity mark. While there is no U.S. standard for bacterial content in textiles, TRSA prescribes to internationally recognized thresholds established by Germany’s Hohenstein Institute.
Leaders inspire people to do amazing things; the types of things that their followers would not do on their own. With leadership, a vision and competitive advantage becomes reality. The more change an organization is facing, the greater the need for leaders. The more flexible a firm must be to survive in its environment, the greater the need for leaders. Given that today’s environment is characterized by frequent change, leadership is more important than ever before.
Unconventional leaders go a step further. They lead their companies to repeatedly create things that people love, but no one expected, especially their competition. Unconventional leaders are fanatical about the products and services they provide rather than profit, yet they tend to lead the most profitable firms in their industries. They create organizations built on innovation, flexibility and risktaking which redefine their industries and sometimes the way people live. Through their companies, they often lead other firms in terms of technology, customer service, etc. Unconventional leaders beat the competition on a regular basis.
Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg are prime examples of unconventional leaders. They do not look like typical business leaders and their leadership style is anything but conventional. In fact, their backgrounds are both contrary to what most people would expect of such successful corporate leaders. They both dropped out of college and have no formal management training. Despite this, or maybe because of this, they have unconventional leadership styles that have led to the creation of unconventional firms. In fact, the people with the most education and experience are often the most conventional thinkers.
Unconventional leaders are unconventional thinkers, but what does that mean exactly? Unconventional thinkers stand out compared to most people. Their ideas are an amalgamation of ideas from a wide range of areas. They often use bits and pieces of very simple concepts in unique combinations to create new solutions to new or old problems. Their unique thinking is often reflected in their eclectic mix of interests and people with whom they form relationships. They like information and ideas, and often focus on things that most people overlook. Unconventional people like to think about things and understand them fully. To illustrate further, below is a comparison of conventional and unconventional thinkers.
- Like safety, avoid risk
- Say things like, “this is just the way we do things” and “everyone does it this way”
- Accept things as they are presently
- Will avoid expressing their ideas unless agreement is likely
- Follow trends, there is safety in numbers
- Are less willing to think, rather continue doing things the same way
- Agreement is very important, as is consistency
- Have a negative perception of differences; these are weird, strange, odd, etc.
- Do not question why things are the way they are, do not think of a better way
- Value established knowledge
- In the quest for improvements or even perfection
- Think and act differently from most people
- Re-evaluate everything, including their beliefs & assumptions, and change them if necessary
- Integrate disparate ideas and knowledge into new ideas and solutions
- Are not restricted by other people, do not care what they think or do
- Like change, see it as an opportunity for improvement
- Willing to try new things & learn from them whether or not they work out
- Believe that constructive conflict is good, leads to more ideas and a better understanding of issues
- Openly express what is on their mind
- Value thinking and creating new knowledge
Although it might not be an easy change, conventional thinkers can become more unconventional in their thinking. Everyone is born an unconventional thinker. Just observe very young children and you can see the amazing creativity and free thinking they have. Unfortunately, as kids get older, they are taught to think like everyone else in their family, at school, etc. They learn to become conventional thinkers. However, if this can be learned, it can be unlearned. You might not become as unconventional and innovative as Steve Jobs, but you can become far more unconventional in your thinking. Therefore you can become a more unconventional leader and below are some ideas that you can use to start on that path.
BECOME A MORE UNCONVENTIONAL THINKER
- Force yourself to try new things: music, food, activities, travel, etc.
- Question everything you do and believe, stop doing things to fit in or just because everyone else does it
- Get used to people not agreeing with you. Always tell people what you think, even if they might not like it
- Debate with people who disagree with you in order to understand their point of view. Accept their ideas even if they are different
- Talk to people who are totally different from you and learn from them: younger, older, retired, foreigners, different professions, etc.
- Try new ideas even if you are not 100% sure they will work
- When new ideas don’t work out, view this as part of the learning required to try new things, the cost of creativity, not as a failure or mistake
- Don’t take yourself too seriously, use humor to make fun of yourself when things don’t work out
Doing the above activities is easier if they are done with other people, so look for groups that you can join or create to help you become more unconventional. While changing is not easy, becoming an unconventional leader has the potential to help you create significant competitive advantage based on innovation, flexibility and risk-taking.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Eric J. Romero, PhD is an Unconventional Leadership Consultant, Author & Reality Speaker. He helps managers become unconventional leaders who beat the competition. Eric teaches them how to create competitive advantage based on creativity, flexibility and risk-taking. Eric has written over 35 articles and presented his ideas around the world for over 15 years. He is the author of Compete Outside the Box: The Unconventional Way to Beat the Competition. Originally from New York City, his presentations are delivered with a sense of humor, 100% unedited honesty and street smarts! For more information go to www.CompeteOutsideTheBox.com.
Quick Rinse - News From Around The World
Mac-Gray Corporation’s Lighten The Load™ Initiative
WALTHAM, Mass. — Mac-Gray Corporation, a provider of laundry facilities management services to multi-unit housing locations announced that it received the Carbonfund.org Foundation’s first annual For People and Planet award in the education category. Since Mac-Gray launched its Lighten the Load(TM) initiative in 2008 with Carbonfund.org, they have partnered with 29 academic institutions to offset more than 40 million pounds of carbon.
“This award highlights Mac-Gray’s commitment to environmental sustainability. Our Lighten the Load™ initiative is helping to reduce the carbon footprints of college and university laundry programs, while educating students on the benefits of being ‘green’ in the laundry room,” said Stewart G. MacDonald, Mac-Gray’s chief executive officer.