Cut stress to increase productivity and profit

Is workplace stress hurting your company's bottom line?

Encourage employees to take regular short breaks away from their desks to decrease stress and increase productivity.

We all know  stress is bad for workplace morale, but did you know it can actually hurt the bottom line? Research has indicated that elevated stress levels may make people more susceptible to illness, leading to higher rates of absenteeism. It also takes a toll on productivity, with unhappy workers getting 10 percent less done on average, according to some workplace wellness experts. Of course, stressful professional environments often also have high turnover rates, which can cost companies thousands of dollars every year.

If your business or department is struggling to improve employee retention and/or productivity, consider investing in stress management training courses from Mastery Technologies. Our online learning resources can help you and your fellow executives and managers identify ways to lower overall stress levels, reducing turnover and creating a more positive environment.

Of course, a certain amount of stress is inevitable in virtually any workplace, which means it is equally important to train team members on how to manage anxiety, so that they can rise to meet high-pressure occasions. Empower your employees to better respond to stressful situations using our array of courses on the topic, which can even help them use stress to their advantage. In the meantime, here are some tips to get you started:

Diet

Eating healthy, regular meals is believed to cut stress.

Exercise

Exercise is a mood booster, and even small increases can make a difference. Encourage your employees to take breaks throughout the day, perhaps walking around the block before getting back to work. They’ll return rejuvenated and better able to focus.

Laughter

Laughter really is the best medicine when it comes to stress! Try to create a culture that values a sense of humor.

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Hydrogen sulfide can prove deadly for oil and gas workers

Hydrogen sulfide is one of the leading causes of workplace gas poisoning in the United States.

Hydrogen sulfide presents a serious safety risk for workers in the oil and gas industry.

At least five American oil and gas workers have died from hydrogen sulfide poisoning since the beginning of 2013, according to a recent report from Energy Wire. Hydrogen sulfide, also known as “sour gas,” can quickly prove fatal, sometimes even in just a couple of breaths. It is a colorless gas that smells of rotten eggs, but in high concentrations or with prolonged exposure, the scent quickly disappears.

According to Energy Wire, it appears that hydrogen sulfide emissions may be on the rise in Texas, New Mexico and Kansas, although record keeping varies from state-to-state, making it difficult to decisively track patterns.

In Montana, oil and gas expert Tom Wilson tells the Bismarck Tribune that sour gas is prevalent. Hydrogen sulfide can cause loss of consciousness at just 500 parts per million and nearly instant death at 1,000 parts per million. Wilson says he has measured sour gas with concentrations at 70,000 parts per million.

One of the most deadly accidents in the history of the oil and gas industry happened in Denver City, Texas, in 1975, when a local well-developed a leak. Thanks to cold and windless conditions, the hydrogen sulfide collected near the ground, poisoning nine people nearby. Jack Watkins was one of the volunteer firefighters who helped recover the bodies of the victims.

“That stuff can get you so fast, you don’t realize you’re in it till it’s too late,” he tells Energy Wire. “You could tell they’d been fighting this gas — they had wash cloths over their mouths.”

Because hydrogen sulfide poisoning can occur at such low concentrations, leaving victims little to no time to react, proper safety training is imperative to prevent costly accidents and loss of life. Check out Mastery’s courses covering hydrogen sulfide safety.

Invest in Mastery Technologies‘ variety of cost-effective, efficient online training courses, to ensure your team is working safely in the field.

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OSHA cracking down on residential construction industry after spike in fatal falls

Safety training can prevent falls and save lives.

Eighty percent of residential roofers killed on-the-job die from injuries sustained in falls.

The number of fatal falls in the American construction industry is on the rise, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The statistics are troubling. Last year, 190 residential construction workers died on-the-job, a 23 percent increase over 2011. One in two such fatalities are due to falls, according to a recent study in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, and a staggering eight in 10 residential roofers who are killed at work fall to their deaths.

In light of the recent increase in residential construction falls, OSHA is trying to crack down on businesses that violate fall protection safety standards, hitting them with heavy financial penalties.

“Falls continue to be the leading cause of death in construction,” OSHA area director Brian Sturtecky said in a release after fining a Florida contractor $188,000 earlier this year. “It is imperative that any employee working from heights more than six feet be provided the proper fall protection equipment and trained how to properly use it.”

Sturtecky’s emphasis on training is key. While all construction companies should provide their workers with fall protection equipment, they must also invest in safety training or the tools themselves are useless. Mastery Technologies offers cost-effective, efficient online courses to meet this need, getting your team up-to-speed and on-site as quickly and safely as possible. Check out all of Mastery’s courses on fall protection, and those featuring the construction industry.

Here are several important safety tips to get you started:

  • Assess fall hazards: Fall hazards can be many and varied, and as an employer or site manager, it is your responsibility to assess all potential risks. These may include: ladders, skylights, wall openings, roof lines, holes, excavations, etc.
  • Choose the appropriate fall protection: Learn how to choose and use fall protection (guard rails, fences, hole covers, personal fall arrest systems, safety nets, harnesses, etc.) based on the setting and job.
  • Consider those below: Remember that fall protection isn’t just about protecting workers up high. Ask yourself whether team members on the ground are at risk of being hit by falling debris.
  • Even low falls can be fatal: The Wall Street Journal shares the story of a seasoned construction professional who was killed after falling from a first-floor roof. Often, even a fall from a relatively low height can be fatal.
  • Provide bilingual training: If any member of your crew is not completely proficient in English, it is crucial you offer safety training in their first language. That’s why Mastery Technologies has training available in Spanish.

In its effort to prevent further fatal falls, OSHA has even made the unprecedented move of trying to wrest control of construction workplace safety from Arizona, arguing that existing safety measures there are insufficient to keep employees safe. In the state, workers are required to use fall protection only once they are 15 feet above the ground or higher — more than twice the six-foot standard set by the federal government. (Until recently, the Wall Street Journal reports, residential contractors were exempt from that rule.)

If you are a contractor or other construction industry professional, be sure to invest in fall prevention training from Mastery Technologies. Falls can cause serious injury or even death to your workers, a devastating experience for any employer. Additionally, such accidents can prove extremely costly in terms of lost productivity, OSHA fines, workers’ compensation claims and civil lawsuits. Don’t wait to protect yourself and your employees. Invest in training your team today.

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Interactive Training: 5 Tips To Keep In Mind

Everyone enjoys an interactive training experience. No employee wants to go into a training experience dreading it - becoming bored, not engaged, etc. The evolution of training and technology has provided companies with the opportunity to present a rewarding training experience for all trainees. 1390298035game-training

For example, by using games within a company’s training experience, employees become motivated, it promotes and helps stimulate learning within the workplace. Game-based learning provides employees with social interaction, increase in energy levels, the opportunity to apply new skills and even the freedom to fail.

Social interaction is important to any employee training process. In the Association for Talent Development (ATD) article entitled, “Five Tips for Success When Using Games in Training” it highlighted 5 tips to implement in order to improve your employee training process. The five steps are summarized as:

  1. Make it relevant - Align your games with your training goals. Keep all activities relevant and engaging.
  2. Consider your audience – When selecting games, don’t forget about your audience. Remember to keep your company policies and trainees in mind.
  3. Use your environment – Take how your trainees learn into consideration. Do they learn visually or kinetically? Maximize the learning experience, utilize groups – small or large.
  4. team-buliding-exercisesConsider your timing – Even though time is of the essence, don’t allow time to control the training. Watch the clock but don’t deprive your employees of their training experience. Lessening the time can change the overall effect on the training and employees can lose focus.
  5. Create a movement – Get your team moving! Use games that require movement to keep their focus and energy high.

Studies show that 91% of listeners at business presentations have admitted to daydreaming during a presentation. Thus, it’s important that managers and trainers engage their artist during their training or orientation sessions.

Like gaming, using interactive training for new or current employees will help stimulate their overall learning process. Mastery’s Video On Demand training helps stimulate learning on the go. With courses geared toward adapting to change within the workplace such as Mastery’s The New Workplace: Make the Change or learning to lead with change through Mastery’s The New Workplace: Leading the Change, employees will have the opportunity to learn first hand the benefits of interactive learning within the workplace.

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Inside Mastery: Meet Mastery’s Jeff Holth

At Mastery Technologies, we believe in building amazing organizations. The foundation of any company is its employees. Our newest segment “Inside Mastery”, will give you an inside look at some of the employees that help make Mastery one of the best and brightest companies to work for in Michigan.

We now introduce you to our newest member of the Mastery Team, Jeff Holth.

Meet Mastery Tech (1)

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3 ways to get more out of meetings

How productive are your team meetings?

How productive are your team meetings?

Are mandatory meetings taking a toll on your team’s morale? Unproductive meetings are the bane of many an employee’s existence. Not only are they a waste of company resources, they can also make workers feel that managers don’t value and respect their time. This, in turn, can even lead to high turnover rates and even more lost productivity.

The good news is that you and your fellow supervisors can learn how to lead better meetings, accomplishing more in less time. Here are some tips:

  • Craft a clear timeline: Create a “travel itinerary” for each meeting, with minutes-long increments allotted for specific action items. Try assigning one person to monitor the clock, perhaps ringing a bell when it’s time to transition to the next topic.
  • Give everyone a job: Make sure no one at a given meeting is a passive attendee. Each participant should have one or more specific tasks that they are responsible for. This will ensure that everyone is mentally engaged.
  • Less is more: Connie Williams, an executive at a company that studies meeting best practices, recommends scheduling meetings for 37.5 minutes, rather than the typical hour. This encourages efficiency and emphasizes the importance of every wasted minute. “I think it’s funny. You set an hour for a meeting, and you’re always at an hour and 5 minutes,” Williams tells Fast Company. She says that the leader typically realizes with just minutes to spare: “‘We’ve just wasted 55 minutes and now we’ve really got to make some decisions.’”

These are just a few tips to get you started. Mastery Technologies offers several courses that provide more tips on having effective meetings, such as “Virtual Meetings: The Invisible Meeting” and “How to Have Effective Meetings.”

If you are serious about improving the quality of your meetings, invest in cost-effective, online management training courses available through Mastery Technologies. We offer an array of learning resources to help you improve performance and productivity.

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Online learning can reduce employee absences

Are employee absences hurting your bottom line?

Continuing education can reduce worker absences.

Employee sick days may be costing your company more than you think. In fact, workforce researchers estimate American employers lose billions of dollars each year because of unplanned absences. Some of the most common causes of absenteeism, according to Forbes, are disengagement, burnout, low morale and stress. Believe it or not, ongoing employee training can lead to significant improvement in all of those areas, potentially resulting in fewer worker absences overall.

  • Employee development: Disengagement often results from a sense of professional stagnation. Try to provide clear opportunities for advancement for promising workers and they will be more inclined to invest time and energy in your company. Studies have shown that offering continuing education in the workplace also leads to a greater sense of employee engagement.
  • Health and safety: Unsafe working conditions or even just unhealthy workplace habits can increase stress and decrease morale. Mastery Technologies offers a variety of courses to promote a safer and healthier professional environment. Whether your team needs to learn to prevent dangerous accidents or just wants to know how to improve their diet and fitness habits, we have an array of informative, easy-to-use resources to meet their needs.
  • Stress management: Stress takes a toll on our professional and personal lives, creating a vicious feedback loop that can ultimately lead to significant drops in productivity. Stress may even cause or worsen illness, resulting in a spike in sick days. One stressed out worker can also spread their anxiety to their coworkers, damaging the entire team’s morale. If your employees struggle with stress, consider investing in an online stress management course to help them identify positive coping techniques.

Browse the extensive online learning resources at Mastery Technologies today!

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Managers: How praise can improve productivity and the bottom line

Strong managers know that praise is an important ingredient in the recipe for success.

Praise triggers the release of dopamine in the brain, a feel-good chemical that can improve workplace morale.

When was the last time you complimented a subordinate on a job well done? If you are a manager, hopefully it hasn’t been too long! Praise can improve morale and productivity, motivating workers, improving retention rates and ultimately benefiting the bottom line. But there is an art to creating a culture of appreciation — empty words alone won’t cut it. Here are some tips:

  • Act quickly: TLNT, a human resources publication, reminds managers to offer up a compliment as soon as you notice something praiseworthy. Wait too long and the impact of your words will diminish. You are also more likely to forget if you delay.
  • Consider different personality types: Remember to consider personality types when showing appreciation at work. If you personally value concrete rewards, you may assume that employees know that they are important to the company based on their yearly bonuses. However, workers who respond more to verbal affirmation may not feel valued if they don’t hear praise after a job well done.
  • Emphasize details: Fast Company contributors Sebastian Bailey and Octavius Black advise giving detailed praise, both because it is more meaningful and because it encourages similar behavior down the road. “By just saying ‘Thanks for the report; it was great,’ you are not giving the person anything they can use and apply in the future,” Bailey and Black write. “Was the report great because it was long, had pictures, started with a succinct summary, included questions for the reader to answer, or what? The best praise focuses on specifics.”
  • Praise in public: Celebrating employees’ achievements in front of their coworkers can increase their sense of validation, while also helping to create a culture of appreciation. Try highlighting the hard work of an individual or even an entire department, either at a company-wide meeting or perhaps in a group email. Just be sure that praising one worker doesn’t seem to implicitly criticize another — that can quickly turn a positive interaction into a negative one.
  • Set goals: Some experts say that positive reinforcement is most effective when delivered on weekly or even daily basis. Set concrete, scheduled goals for yourself for offering regular praise to each and every employee or department you oversee. You may even want to create a “praise calendar,” on which you can keep track of how often you have highlighted someone’s good work. Many managers might be surprised to learn they are expressing gratitude far less often than they think.

They say people don’t quit bad jobs — they quit bad bosses. If your company is struggling with high employee turnover rates, consider investing in Mastery Technologies’ cost-effective, efficient online management training courses. We can help you create a positive professional environment that gets the most out of your team.

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New Video On Demand Titles This October!

Mastery released 25 new titles on the Video On Demand platform this month. The content covers topics such as hot work, leadership, best practices for hiring, and OSHA general industry and construction requirements.

 

Here are this month’s new releases:

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Arc flash safety training is a matter of life and death

Arc flash safety training can literally mean the difference between life and death.

Employees should continue to receive arc flash safety training throughout their careers.

Donnie Johnson had been an electrician for 19 years when he was hit by an arc flash that nearly killed him. According to his website, Johnson suffered third-degree burns to the muscle on both hands and arms and second degree burns on his face, head and neck. Johnson has since recovered from the accident but will never again work as an electrician.

“Honestly, if I had been wearing the personal protection equipment [PPE] that was provided for me, that I was trained to use and still in the PPE bag between the front seats of my van, my trip to the hospital would have probably been just for a check-up and a few, minor burns,” Johnson writes on his site. “Although my injuries were electrical in nature, whether you are a plumber, a carpenter or a mason there are safety procedures that could protect you from injury or save your life.”

Believe it or not, Johnson was one of the lucky ones. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 139 American workers died last year from exposure to electricity. That’s why arc flash safety training is literally a matter of life or death. It’s an employer’s responsibility to train workers to follow proper safety procedures, always wear their PPE, and teaching them why it matters.

An arc flash occurs when energy jumps through a high-voltage gap, giving off intense heat that can go upwards of 35,000 degrees. The force can also create a sound blast that is damaging to human ears and may hurtle objects through the air, further injuring anyone nearby.

If you are interested in offering training opportunities to your employees, consider investing in Mastery Technologies‘ inexpensive, easy-to-use online courses.

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