Office Politics = Risky Business

July 13th, 2016

Office PoliticsThe world often feels like a crazy place these days! It seems like each day brings a new headline that grabs our attention and forces us to take sides and promote our opinions. While it is important for each of us to feel like we have a voice and say in what’s happening around us, it can also be counter-productive and distracting if those opinions creep into our workplaces. We came across this article posted by Derrick Perkins, and found it extremely valuable in light of the most-recent headlines and political banter. We’ve included the article below:

“Talking Politics at Work Poses Risk to Employers and Employees!” by Derrick Perkins

This election cycle seems to be sparking more office conflicts than previous campaigns, but talking politics at work is a risky proposition for employees and employers alike.

Strife from the divisive presidential campaign season is bleeding over into the workplace, according to a recent survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management.

In a poll of 457 human resource professionals, 26 percent reported an increase in “perceived greater political volatility” in the office this election cycle. And the problems with talking politics at work may worsen as November approaches, said Evren Esen, SHRM’s director of survey research programs.

“Businesses need to be aware, even if they haven’t had any issues in the past, that this particular election cycle could be different,” Esen said.

For the purposes of SHRM’s survey, which was compiled in May, volatility means increased tension, hostility, or argumentation among coworkers directly related to the ongoing political battle for the White House, she said. SHRM released its findings at its annual convention earlier this month.

Of those surveyed, about 67 percent reported their organizations lacked a policy—written or otherwise—regulating political activities in the office. Esen believes that those that do likely adopted one after a workplace incident.

Regulating political speech is a tricky situation for employers, said Karen Glickstein, an attorney who specializes in employment law. She recently penned a column outlining tips and advice for supervisors after receiving a glut of inquiries—many related to on-the-job incidents—from clients.

Both employers and employees can take steps to protect themselves, Glickstein said. For supervisors, it can be as simple as reminding their staff about workplace harassment or discrimination policies. Employees, on the other hand, must recognize that the First Amendment does not always apply in the workplace, she said.

It’s a question that seems to come up with each election cycle, Glickstein said, though “I think it’s probably more this year than I can remember in past years.”

Where it gets trickier is during off hours, particularly with the rise of social media. Can action be taken against workers who list their employer on sites where they also espouse political views, like Twitter and Facebook? Not necessarily.

Though only four states explicitly protect workers engaging in political activity afterhours, Glickstein said the National Labor Relations Board increasingly has sided with employees disciplined for politicking outside of the office.

But “every situation is going to be different,” she said.

SHRM, which hasn’t before gauged the amount of workplace incidents stemming from political disagreements, plans to follow up in October. Esen said reaction from members has been positive so far, as many recognize that it could become an issue.

“Not a lot of organizations have policies, but this is something to consider and talk to employees about as well,” Esen said. “Even if they don’t have a formal policy, even if it’s kind of unwritten, encourage employees to be respectful of diversity. Really, this falls into the diversity of ideas and opinions and attitudes. Regardless of whether people agree with each other, they do need to respect one another.”

June 23rd, 2016

At last month’s Americas Mobility Conference sponsored by the Worldwide Employee Relocation Council (WERC), PCH team member Michelle Velasquez, led an interactive discussion on the most recent trends impacting employee travel in relation to temporary housing. Several of the HR Managers in the attendance asked questions about Airbnb and wondered if this “home-sharing” hotel alternative is affecting extended business travel and lodging needs in conjunction with employee mobility.

It was noted that these types of lodging alternatives are spending millions in creative advertising targeting the younger traveler, and they are becoming more attractive to individual employees traveling with their own out-of-pocket expenses. But for company-sponsored assignments, Airbnb is still a risky alternative.

The discussion was focused around the unknowns involved with those Airbnb-type of bookings, and how those unknowns can potentially impact the success of an assignment. With little-to-no regulation or quality oversight, employees take a risk on each booking. Another concern involves “home-sharing” solutions like Airbnb and its competitors being heavily lobbied against by the Hotel Industry. This lobbying is creating legislation that involves restrictions, and in some cities, elimination of these types of alternatives altogether. If Airbnb suffered a big loss in a city (think of the Uber ban in Austin, TX) where a company’s employees were utilizing their services, it could distract from the goal of the assignment while the employees are scrambling for alternative lodging.

AirBNB Nightmare

AirBNB Nightmare – Vice.com

Another deterrent for employers who may be exploring Airbnb as a lodging alternative for its employees involves the negative press that spreads throughout social media when a “home-sharing” booking goes terribly wrong. Vice.com released an article this morning recounting some of the worst experiences ever reported with Airbnb experiences. If the stories of brothels, drug-dealing hosts and sardine-style sleeping arrangements don’t scare employers away, the images included in the article certainly will. We’ve included a few as a preview, but you can view the entire article by visiting https://www.vice.com/read/strangest-airbnb-experiences-stories-876

Preferred Corporate Housing clients count on us to provide a home-like experience that is move-in ready and free of stress. HR and Talent Managers understand that employees need a stable, comfortable living experience in order to be productive and successful in their new assignments. Our furnished apartment solutions in residential communities provide the standardization, quality oversight and 24-hour service that are necessary for successful mobile assignments. If you are exploring lodging alternatives for your employees in order to create successful and productive assignments, call Preferred Corporate Housing to learn more about our solutions in more than 42,000 North American destinations. (800) 960-0102. www.corporates.com

Most Affordable States for Job Seekers

May 27th, 2016

Graduation season is upon us! This means thousands of college graduates ready to enter the workforce with high hopes and unrealistic expectations. Although job creation is on the rise and many glamorous locations are beckoning college graduates to come and find work, often times these locations’ housing costs are way beyond the scope of what entry-level wages can afford. What a perfect time for Forbes Magazine to release its study on the most affordable states and rental rates for new job seekers. John Wasik, a Forbes Contributor, sums up which locations should be most attractive for entry-level workers:

“It’s tough to be a recent college graduate. You’re scrapping to find the highest-paying job and may be carrying loan debt. You must feel like you’re running uphill with a backpack of rocks.

If you’re looking to relocate, what’s the first economic decision you need to make? You need to know what prevailing rents are in the city you wish to relocate to relative to your income.

Let’s get the spoiler out of the way first: The largest, most glamorous cities are unaffordable unless you’re making way more than $20 an hour. You won’t be able to afford these places at all if your wages are around minimum wage.

According to a recent report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, for most workers, that probably puts Hawaii, California, New York, Maryland and New Jersey out of reach for millions. Here’s what the report found:

“In order to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent, a full-time worker in America today must earn $20.30 per hour—a figure that is almost $5 more than the average hourly wage of renters in the U.S. A full-time worker needs to earn $16.35 per hour to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment.”

 One simple rule of thumb is that average rents (or overall housing costs) shouldn’t exceed more than 30% of your income. In glamor cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle and New York, you’ll get soaked for housing costs, which could easily exceed half of your income.

That puts a huge burden on you. Remember that you need to pay for food, transportation and other necessities. You won’t be able to save money.”

To view this article in its entirety, visit http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnwasik/2016/05/27/most-affordable-rents-states-for-job-seekers/#306c5d293d90

2015 – What a Year!

December 31st, 2015

New Year 2016What a year! Preferred Corporate Housing really made the most out of 2015 from being named “Provider of the Year” by the Corporate Housing Providers Association (CHPA), to winning several key client RFPs that will lead us through the years to come. Our team has grown together, laughed together and worked to create the best temporary housing experiences for each of our guests.

So as we close out this amazing year, we thought we would use the last blog post of the year to pass along some of our favorite quotes. The new year brings new ideas, new ventures and a fresh start. But it also brings new challenges and struggles to overcome to achieve these new goals. Here is a little motivation to get you started breaking through barriers and reaching your objectives in 2016!

1. “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it.” – Charles R. Swindoll

2. “If you can dream it, you can do it!” – Walt Disney

3. “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” – Jim Ryun

4. ” A good beginning makes a good end.” – Old English Proverb

5. “Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one!” – Brad Paisley

6. “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language, and next year’s words await another voice.” – T.S. Eliot

7. ““We spend January 1st walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives…not looking for flaws, but for potential.” – Ellen Goodman

We are excited about the potential of what 2016 will bring. To all our friends around the world celebrating the start of this new year, we wish you a safe and joyous celebration, and we can’t wait to experience prosperity and success with you in 2016!

Preferred Corporate Housing is a ‘Best Place to Work’ for the 4th Consecutive Year

November 3rd, 2015

Best Places to WorkThe Houston Business Journal released its 15th annual “Best Places to Work in Houston’ list last month, and for the fourth consecutive year, Preferred Corporate Housing was included in this prestigious list.

The 2015 Best Places to Work in Houston list was revealed at a Super Hero themed luncheon event where more than 800 attendees gathered to recognize 100 companies who made this year’s list. HBJ’s partner, Quantum Workforce, administered an employee survey process and assigned a score for each nominated company. Scoring was based on employees’ thoughts on their company’s corporate culture, amenities, benefits, worker-retention and attraction strategies. The top 100 companies who received the highest scores were included in this year’s list.

The average score of all the companies on HBJ’s 2015 Best Places to Work List is 85.87, which is slightly higher than the national average of 85.83. Preferred Corporate Housing received a score of 94.8, significantly higher than this year’s average, landing the spot of the 20th Best Place to Work in Houston.

How to Prevent the “Performance Review Panic”

October 28th, 2015

performance reviewAs we start winding down the 2015 business year, many of us have already started our year-end team member performance evaluations. Few employees actually look forward to the performance evaluation. In fact, when the words “performance review” are muttered, most employees will instantly tense up and begin to scroll through all the negatives in their heads. The only bright spot that may come to mind is the hope that the performance review results may lead to a bump in pay. One reason employees fear the review may be that they don’t know what to expect from the process. In order for you, the employer, and the employee to gain the most out of the review process, you’ll want to ensure they are relaxed and eager to participate. Here are a few tips to pass along to your team before a performance review:

It’s not just about the paperwork – Even though performance evaluations usually involve a certain amount of forms and documentation, these do not make up the entirety of the process. While paperwork has its place, remind employees that its not the point of the exercise.

Come prepared to participate – A performance review shouldn’t be a one-way conversation. At the very least, employees should gather their perspectives on their position and accomplishments and be prepared to discuss them with their supervisor. Preparation should include reviewing their job description, identifying significant achievements, and examining what may be preventing them from doing their best work.

Don’t save up issues – Your team should be talking to their supervisors all the time so everyone is consistently on the same page. If they only air complaints and/or ideas during the yearly performance review, a lot of time could be wasted in between. If you keep the lines of communication open throughout the year, there shouldn’t be any surprises when it comes time for a review.

Take an active role – An evaluation should be a healthy give-and-take session, sharing ideas and opinions freely. Employees should ask questions and take responsibility for understanding what you have to say.

PCH Honored at the 2015 EMMA Awards

September 29th, 2015

FEM EMMA LOGOPreferred Corporate Housing, a leading provider of temporary lodging solutions in more than 42,000 North American destinations, was honored as one of the top 3 corporate housing providers at the recent Forum for Expatriate Management’s (FEM) annual EMMA awards black-tie gala, receiving “Highly Commended” honors from the judging panel.

This is the second major recognition this year for Preferred Corporate Housing, who won the Corporate Housing Providers Association (CHPA) Tower of Excellence award for “Large Market Provider of the Year,” in February 2015.

“We are honored to be recognized as one of the best temporary housing providers by one of mobility’s leading organizations,” said Samantha Elliott, CRP, CCHP, President of Preferred Corporate Housing. “The Forum for Expatriate Management is a go-to resource for knowledge-sharing, best practices and partnership within the global talent and mobility industry, and we are thrilled to be considered one of the best corporate housing providers in their eyes,” said Elliott.

EMMA On Stage The annual Americas Expatriate Management and Mobility Awards (EMMAs) winners, were decided by a prestigious panel of sixteen judges from within the relocation industry, including Human Resources, Talent and Mobility Managers from corporations around the world, including several Fortune 100 and 500 companies.

“We believe we continue to achieve successes and honors such as this because our entire team is committed to innovation and excellence in the temporary housing services we provide,” said Krista Ripper, Director of Business Development for PCH. “We work each day to find new and exciting ways to improve the guest experience, and we never settle for doing things just because it’s the way they’ve always been done,” said Ripper.

“Our goal is clear,” said Elliott. “We want to be the best temporary housing provider with the best team, the best options, the best tools and the best prices. Being recognized by these industry leaders in this prestigious category is proof that we are on the right track,” said Elliott.

About Preferred Corporate Housing:

Preferred Corporate Housing has been providing furnished temporary housing services across North America for more than 20 years. With service to more than 42,000 locations, PCH has become a go-to resource for more than 8,000 local, national and global clients including 413 companies on the 2014 Fortune 500 list.

Press & Media Contact

For questions or commentary about trends in the corporate housing industry, if you would like to collaborate on story development, or if you are looking for a corporate housing subject-matter expert (SME) to serve as a speaker/panelist at your next conference or trade show, please inquire with our media relations contact to arrange an interview with a Preferred Corporate Housing executive. Michelle Velasquez – (800) 960-0102 ext 21, michelle@corporates.com.

How to Get More Out of Every Day!

September 28th, 2015

too much workIf you’re like most of us, you have too much work to do in too little time. Time is our most-valuable commodity, and although we all are allotted the exact same amount every day, there always seem to be those people who are able to get more done than we are! How do they do it? In our quest to maximize every minute, here are a few tips to increase your daily efficiency and productivity.

• Pick 3 goals for the day. Start your day (or plan the night before) by identifying three high-priority goals to accomplish. work on this first, without getting distracted by other tasks. If you finish them off, select three more important goals. You’ll feel more productive and less overwhelmed.

• Make quick decisions. Agonizing over every decision wastes time and energy. Try to make every decision in 60 seconds or less. A one-minute deadline will result in speedy decisions that are just as likely to be good as those you spend hours on.

time to think • Schedule thinking time. Spend a specified amount of time thinking about what you want to accomplish each week. Use that time to make plans, do research, analyze successes and failures, and give yourself permission to go off on tangents. Often you’ll get your best ideas when you let your mind roam a bit. The key here is to keep your “thinking time” confined within a specified amount of time. Once the time is up, get back on track!

• Make a “to-don’t” list. Identify those things on your plate that don’t contribute anything of value or don’t represent the best use of your time. Delegate those tasks to assistants/other team members, or cross them off the list altogether. This will give you more time to focus on your priorities.to dont list

• Finish your day right. Don’t wear yourself out by working into the evening. Establish a routine for the end of your work day: Save your work, clear your workspace, make your to-do list for tomorrow, power down and stop thinking about work. You’ll be able to get the rest your need to come back tomorrow ready to do great things!

Hurricane Katrina – A Look Back at Disaster Preparedness

August 28th, 2015

Hurricane Katrina from space On September 16, 2004 Hurricane Ivan made landfall along the coasts of Alabama and Florida. Prior to the storms’ arrival, mandatory evacuation orders were issued all along the Gulf Coast due to Ivan’s unpredictable path. These evacuations caused widespread panic and Preferred Corporate Housing, a national provider of furnished apartment solutions, began receiving higher-than-normal inbound calls at its Headquarters in Houston, Texas. “People were desperately requesting apartments as far away from the coast as they could get in the short amount of time they had,” recalls Megan Margetusakis, PCH Director of Operations. “Our existing corporate clients were calling in to find solutions for their displaced employees along with all of the people who happened upon our information on the web. We were one of the only national furnished apartment providers at the time, and I remember it being extremely chaotic trying to fulfill everyone’s requests.”

Preferred Corporate Housing eventually housed hundreds of people along the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Ivan’s destruction, but knew that they had to come up with a better plan for servicing disaster-related situations for the future. “We knew we had create a specific planning and response process for any future disaster-related situations that might occur,” said Jon Lanclos, Founder of PCH. “When a Hurricane is on its way, its too late to start trying to create a plan, and we wanted to be prepared in the future. We also knew that we were at risk for future storms and we need to be prepared as well. That’s how we came up with the Preferred Placement Program®

This unique disaster preparedness plan allowed us to track the anticipated path of a potential storm, compile an instantaneous list of all existing clients located near the path of the storm, and simultaneously source all viable furnished apartment solutions outside of the storm’s path to offer to anyone who may be evacuating prior or displaced. Using our proprietary database platform, we were able to incorporate automatic alerts, employee phone trees, mobile office solutions and other critical disaster recovery elements that would allow us to be a resource for any company effected by a disaster, no matter where it occurred.

The remainder of 2004 along with the beginning of the 2005 hurricane season, which began with Hurricane Dennis hitting the Florida coast in July, gave Preferred Corporate Housing several opportunities to test and perfect each element of our newly formed Preferred Placement Program®. “Although there were some kinks, I was proud of the plan we had created and our ability to service our clients who were displaced after Hurricane Dennis. If we had not taken the time following Hurricanes Ivan and Dennis to perfect our systems and plans, we would not have been ready for what came next,” said Lanclos.

new orleans post KatrinaOn Monday, August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall near New Orleans. Preferred Corporate Housing had enabled the beginning phases of its Preferred Placement Plan® the week prior and was already operating its “Ready Room,” to prepare for another influx of calls once the storm passed. “It was pretty close to business-as-usual at the beginning of the week,” said Margetusakis. “Although we were receiving a higher call volume and were responding to more housing requests, we were following the plan we had in place and things were going as smoothly as could be expected. As news reports of the failed levees and floodwaters started surfacing, we watched, along with the rest of the world, in horror as people were stranded in their flooded homes and at the Superdome without food or water.”

“As we learned of the levee breaches and widespread devastation, we expanded our search radius to incorporate more cities away from the devastated regions. We knew that we would need more available housing than originally planned, said Lanclos. “With our past storm-response experience and our allocated resources, we had quickly developed a reputation with our clients and apartment community partners of being a go-to resource for furnished apartment solutions following a disaster.”

PCH received a call from an American Express Travel Agent on August 31, around 5:15pm. “Normally we would have been shutting down for the day,” explains Samantha Elliott, President of Preferred Corporate Housing, “but we were all still busy helping people find housing that we had extended our office hours for the week.” The caller explained that she was representing a major energy company who’s Louisiana office was currently underwater in New Orleans and who was looking to relocate its entire team and operations away from New Orleans as quickly as possible. The caller had been turned away by three other national corporate housing providers who explained that they had already reached their inventory capacity and could not accommodate a group of this size.

The company was Dominion Exploration and Production, one of the largest providers of electricity, natural gas and related services at the time. Dominion Exploration’s Louisiana office, Dominion Tower, was located directly across from the Superdome, and was the central office for more than 325 employees who were displaced from their homes following Katrina’s devastation.

astrodomePreferred Corporate Housing was up to the challenge. It was decided that Houston, TX was the best location with enough housing solutions for all 325 employees and their families. Utilizing the designed Preferred Placement Plan®, Preferred Corporate Housing’s team was able to source and furnished all 325 apartments at 21 different apartment communities in the Houston area.  Dominion evacuated the families and brought them to Houston where they arrived to fully furnished, fully equipped apartments. For many, it was the first time they were able to sleep in an actual bed, prepare a meal, and even shower since the storm hit.

“It was the proudest moment for me,” said Elliott. “We saw the living conditions these people were coming from, and for my team to be able to provide a safe, comfortable place for these families while they began the rebuilding process was an accomplishment that I will never forget.” These Dominion employees and their families were home in the PCH furnished apartments for the next 6 months. Although approximately 200 families returned back to New Orleans in early 2006, around 140 employees became permanent Houston residents and did not wish to return.

Its been ten years since Hurricane Katrina caused more than $108 billion dollars in damage, more than 1,300 deaths and displaced more than 400,000 people from the Gulf Coast region. “Looking back, there isn’t much I would do differently,” recalls Lanclos. “We had a plan in place ahead of the storm, and though we could never have predicted the amount of devastation, we were able to provide immediate solutions when others could not.”

“We still use the same Preferred Placement Plan® today,” says Margetusakis. “We’ve improved it as technology and resources have changed, but the shell of the plan is the same.”

“Hurricane Katrina taught us so much about our company – our strengths, our culture, our capabilities,” said Elliott. “I am so grateful we had the opportunity to help those families, and while I hope no one has to experience that kind of devastation again, I know we’ll be ready to help the next time we get the call.”

To read the Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief Case Study in its entirety, visit http://www.corporates.com/dom. To learn more about Preferred Corporate Housing’s furnished apartment solutions in more than 42,000 North American locations, or to receive a customized employee housing proposal based on your specific program needs, contact Krista Ripper at (800) 960-0102, krista@corporates.com.

Capture the “Back to School” Mentality

August 24th, 2015

back to schoolWhether you’ve been out of school for three months (congrats, grad!), 30 years or somewhere in between, there’s something about those back-to-school commercials, sales in the department stores and yellow school buses hitting the streets once again that creates an undeniable energy in the air.

While every day is a new chance to begin reaching for new heights, feeding off that back-to-school adrenaline can be a great way to get a running start! Here are three simple ways to apply that back-to-school mentality to your day-to-day.

1. Wipe your slate clean
One of my favorite things about beginning a new school year was the chance to start over; embracing the feeling of “I can be whoever I want to be and accomplish whatever I want to accomplish this year!” If you haven’t felt that feeling since your own school days, allow yourself to get swept up in the excitement and use this month as an opportunity to reignite your passion for your goals. Back-to-school means a “new start.” Forget about the barriers that have held you back from reaching your goals in the past.

2. Reassess your (lesson) plan
My favorite part of a new school year was getting to read through my syllabus for each class and looking ahead to see how much I was slated to accomplish throughout the next year. While I loved the idea of what was to come, I was also overwhelmed at how much work was yet to be done! That’s why teachers use lesson plans; to break the work down into smaller, more manageable chunks. Use this time to do the same with your “plan of attack.” Review your goals and break down the work into smaller, more manageable action items.

3. Expand your horizons
A new school year always brings new opportunities – new skills to master, new clubs to join, new friends to make. Apply this same principle to your day-to-day. Are there new skills you can master that will help make you more successful in your position? Are there networking opportunities that could lead you to new business contacts? Try something new; expand those horizons; never stop learning!

The craziness of summer is dying down. Back-to-school is the perfect time to get back on track with your goals and get re-energized and re-focused. In the words of Brian Herbert, “The capacity to learn is a gift, the ability to learn is a skill, the willingness to learn is a choice.” Feed off the back-to-school energy all around and make the choice to keep learning!