Posts Tagged ‘customer service’

Office Politics = Risky Business

Wednesday, 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.”

Thursday, 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

Living Our Vision Everyday – How We Show the L.O.V.E.

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

At Preferred Corporate Housing, our definition of LOVE is Living Our Vision Everyday! We love being able to provide temporary housing services for our clients anywhere they have needs, and as a nationwide provider, we get the opportunity to work with a variety of industries and assignments. We have guests from the Professional Sports Arena, Oil and Gas industry, Government and Military sector, Medical field and everything in between. We also love our amazing team, and we’ve given them the opportunity to say what they love most about Preferred Corporate Housing.

Its a great feeling to know that we can help with any type of housing need that someone may have. Whether they’ve been displaced by a fire, are on a temporary assignment in a remote location, or they are relocating their entire family across the county…We can help! – Ashley Trevino, PCH Senior Account Manager.

I love being able to customize and cater to a diverse group of clientele, -said Brittany Bennett, PCH National Account Executive.

What I love most about PCH is that we have the flexibility to do anything, so saying ‘I’ll take care of it’ is always my answer. I never have to tell a client no!- Rina Sanchez, PCH National Account Executive

I love being able to wow our guests with little unexpected surprises to help welcome them to their new apartment. Whether its a bottle of wine, a local guidebook written in their language, or a special item that makes them think of home, I love the reactions I hear when our guests realize how much we care.- Beth Schoephoerster, PCH Account Manager

We love what we do and the people we do it for! Living our vision everyday means offering the highest quality of temporary, furnished housing accompanied by the highest level of customer service and support. If you would like more information about becoming one of our ‘beloved’ clients, call us at (800)960-0102 or visit www.corporates.com to learn more!

Don’t Fall Prey to the Summer Productivity Slump

Monday, July 21st, 2014

summer slackingAccording to a survey done by the Captivate Network, workplace productivity tumbles about 20% in the summertime. Of the 600 workers surveyed throughout various industries, most of us feel distracted, we take longer to complete projects, go on longer lunch breaks, and even have a drop in workplace attendance. You may be less productive because you’re distracted by summer activities or the fact that business has slowed. Maybe your managers and colleagues are on vacation so your normal hustle and bustle office environment is quieter than normal. Whatever the reason, Here are 5 things you can do to boost your productivity at work this summer.

Adjust the thermostat
I know it sounds silly, but research has proven that if the temperature inside your office is too high or too low, your productivity can suffer. Citing research from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, it states the optimal office temperature is between 70 and 72 degrees (Fahrenheit). For every degree over 77 degrees, productivity drops by 2%, and below 68%, error rates increase dramatically. They also found that 10% of employees also waste time arguing over the office temperature, so if everyone could just agree on 70 to 72 degrees, we would all be more productive.

If there’s no work, find some
If you’re not productive simply because things around the office are slow, use this time to get a jump start on upcoming projects or new initiatives that might take more time to launch. The longer you wait for things to pick back up, the longer it will take for things to pick back up.

Switch up your routine, or the scenery
If work is starting to feel a little stale, you may be able to kick-start simply by changing your routine or environment. Try getting outside more during the workday. Go for a walk or have meetings outside. Or if you tend to do the same things at work in a set order, consider switching things up. The summer is a great time to start a new task and challenge yourself.

Don’t fall prey to lowering your output
Managers most-likely won’t accept poor performance because it’s a slower time of year. As long as your are getting your paycheck, your boss is assuming you are working to the best of your ability, regardless if others are vacationing at the beach.

Don’t think showing up equates to productivity
Just keep in mind that achievements trump hours spent. Just because you are in the office for the required eight hours doesn’t mean you’ve done your job. The summer is not a ticket for slacking off, so don’t do it!

It’s a Woman’s World

Monday, July 21st, 2014

women managing womenI recently came across an article published by Inc. Magazine titled “Women Managing Women.” It was written by Nan Mooney in March of 2006. Since Preferred Corporate Housing is a certified woman-owned business, and females make up 91% of our team members, naturally this article piqued my interest.

With the exception of the now outdated Census Bureau statistics, I was pleasantly surprised at how relevant this article still is even though it was published more than 8 years ago. Women employees and leaders make up a large percentage of the corporate housing, relocation and multi-family apartment industries, and I know we can all benefit from advice on how to navigate through the often tough terrain of women managing women. Here is the article in its entirety.

Women Managing Women – by Nan Mooney
Just because a woman business owner hires other women doesn’t mean everyone will magically get along. Here are a few of the more common problems women encounter when managing other women, and how to avoid them.

The latest Census Bureau statistics reveal that women owned businesses are hotter than ever. Between 1997 and 2002 women started businesses at twice the national rate. Women-owned businesses with more than $1 million in revenue went up by 18% and those with more than 100 employees went up by 10%.

One upshot of all this growth is that now there are more women in leadership positions than ever. Whether they head their division or head the whole company, these women are in a position to do something they may have wanted to do for a long time. Hire other women.

Women like working with other smart, savvy women. There’s often less ego involved and more willingness to collaborate. As woman leaders, we can create a culture where success doesn’t have to mean trying to become “one of the guys.” But our idealistic visions of women working together do not always translate smoothly into practice. There’s no guarantee that just because we hire other women, everyone will magically get along. Here are a few of the more common problem areas we can encounter:

Boss or Buddy?
When Giselle became Editor-in-Chief of a new women’s magazine, she told her all female staff that they had a say in every editorial decision and that her door was always open no matter how small the concern or how late the hour. “I didn’t want them to see me as the big bad boss,” she explained. “I wanted them to like me.”

Instead, Giselle created an environment in which there was too little structure. Employees took her open door policy literally and dropped in to chat about personal problems or petty disagreements they should have been able to resolve on their own. Even worse, when Giselle made executive decisions her staff seemed to resent her adopting any authority.

Just because we’re in leadership positions doesn’t mean we stop wanting people to like us. Women are raised to always be nice and nurturing to other women and, like Giselle, we can be wary of coming across as too tough or power hungry. But part of your responsibility as a leader is to call the shots. If employees see you as their best buddy, it can be confusing when you start telling them what to do or calling them on their mistakes. Try envisioning yourself as a leader who is respected by her employees rather than seeking unconditional love.

Banning the Micromanager
Many women abandon the traditional corporate world because they’re sick of a macho work culture where they have to do twice as much to prove themselves while someone’s always looking over their shoulder waiting for them to screw up. But once on our own, it can be difficult to relax these hyper-vigilant standards. This can be especially true with your own business, where everything that goes out the door has your name attached. But you’re going to have to learn to let go.

We’ll assume you’ve hired competent, innovative women to work under you. If you insist on supervising every last detail, you’re sending the message that you don’t trust them to handle anything on their own. That’s a sure way to breed apathy, or even worse, resentment. Because women are often more attuned to relationships and more sensitive to feedback, they can be especially prone to interpreting your micromanaging as criticism. It’s worth the risk to give them some autonomy and even allow them to make the occasional mistake. They’ll work harder if they feel like their input matters.

Work-Family Issues
It would be nice if all things were equal on the work-family front — if men took on just as many domestic responsibilities and were just as eager for maternity leave and flexible working schedules. But we all know this isn’t true. Women are still the primary care givers and they expect female bosses and employers to be more sensitive towards this struggle to balance work and family lives.

Before you institute policies, talk to your employees about what they need and be clear in your own head about what is possible from a financial standpoint. Be as generous and as creative as you can. Women with less personal stress make happier and more productive employees. But also be realistic about what the business can support. One of the worst things you can do in this department is make promises you can’t keep.

Above all, women leaders owe it to their female employees to practice what they preach. A charismatic, well-adjusted woman at the top goes a long ways towards creating a healthy office atmosphere. When powerful and highly visible women are seen helping other women by implementing women-friendly policies, acting as mentors and role models, or simply honoring their word, they set a standard for everyone else to come.

How to Stay Sane Post Vacation

Monday, July 21st, 2014

work after vacaySummer vacations are awesome! Whether you’ve taken a summer getaway to an exotic island, a family trip to one of the Disney parks or even a “stay-cation” in your own backyard you know that coming back to work after time away can cause enough stress to need another vacation. A colleague of mine said, “Coming back to work after a vacation is like a Monday on steroids.” Not only are your emails and daily tasks piled up, but if you’ve just spent the last week laying on the beach sipping pina coladas, its pretty hard to switch back to the office chair/cubicle mentality. Here are some tips to help you ease back into reality and productivity after your summer vacation.

Give yourself time to decompress
When you are planning your trip, schedule an extra day off on the back end of your vacation before returning back to the office. Give yourself time to unpack, do laundry and grocery shop. Taking care of these types of chores will make you feel better prepared to return to your routine. And if you can’t take that extra day off, don’t overbook yourself with meetings and commitments on your first few days back. Easing back into work mode from vacation mode can help save you from being distracted or unmotivated.

Plan your return
Even without a vacation, returning to the office on Monday after the weekend can be stressful. If Mondays are usually tough days for you, try returning from your vacation in the middle of the week instead. All the craziness of Monday will be long gone and it will be easier to ease back into your routine.

Beware of multi-tasking
When you’ve been gone from work on vacation, coming back to the office can be jarring. You have an inbox full of emails, backlogged tasks that need completing, clients that need attention as well as all your other usual day-to-day responsibilities. Your first instinct is to try to get through everything as quick as possible, but all the multi-tasking will only stress you out more. Use the Now/Soon/Later technique to prioritize your tasks and complete them accordingly. Take things one step at a time as to not to get overwhelmed. Focusing on a singular task will ensure you complete it correctly so you don’t have to revisit it later.

Get back into your routines
The best way to get back into work mode is to get back into your work routine. If you go to the gym every morning before heading in to the office, start that back up as quickly as possible. If you have scheduled weekly meetings, don’t put those off till you get caught up. By postponing your regularly scheduled activities, it will take you longer to get caught up, and it will be more difficult to get out of vacation-mode.

Tell the story all at once
If you were fortunate enough to visit an exotic destination, visit long-lost relatives, or just have an interesting vacation story to tell, you’ll probably want to share it with your co-workers. And they’ll probably want to hear it. To avoid telling the story over and overagain, offer to share your story and pictures at lunch. You’ll save yourself a lot of time, but you’ll save them a lot of time too.

PCH Team Members Earn 100 Continuing Education Credits in 2014

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Education OpportunityPreferred Corporate Housing was one of only three temporary housing providers who exhibited its national furnished lodging services at last month’s Worldwide Employee Relocation Council – National Relocation Conference, and in addition to exhibiting, PCH team members participated in the highly regarded educational sessions presented by some of the relocation industry’s foremost experts. Education session topics included data protection best practices, talent management integration, flexible approaches to traditional relocation programs, women in leadership and an industry all-stars executive panel. At the close of this event, PCH reached its goal of earning 100 continuing education credits as a team during the 2014 fiscal year. “We set an education target last year as a way to quantify and measure our team’s engagement and investment in their personal success with PCH and their overall professional development,” said Jon Lanclos, CRP, CCHP – Founder of Preferred Corporate Housing. “We did not anticipate how quickly we would reach the goal.”

“Preferred Corporate Housing has always placed an emphasis on employee certifications/designations and the continuing education requirements needed to maintain them,” said Megan Margetusakis, CCHP – Director of Operations for PCH. “Any opportunities that allow our team members to grow professionally or to increase their knowledge-base of a particular industry ultimately improves the services we provide for our clients,” said Margetusakis.

PCH participates in education opportunities throughout various industries including project management, human resources/talent management, relocation and corporate housing. Several team members hold individual designations throughout these industries including Certified Relocation Professional (CRP) and Certified Corporate Housing Professional (CCHP). PCH’s participation and support of organizations like the Worldwide ERC provide its team members invaluable opportunities for connecting with existing clients, and most importantly, education opportunities that help expand expertise in the global mobility space. “We find tremendous value in learning from our clients, peers and fellow service providers,” said Samantha Elliott, CRP, CCHP – President of Preferred Corporate Housing. “Its not enough to just attend and sell our services at events like this. We invest the time and resources in attending each session to continuously increase our knowledge of what matters most to our clients,” said Elliott.

Preferred Corporate Housing Director wins Tower of Excellence Award at Corporate Housing Provider’s Association Annual Conference

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

Michelle Velasquez, CCHP
Director of Client Services – Preferred Corporate Housing

The Corporate Housing Providers Association (CHPA), the professional trade association exclusively dedicated to supporting corporate housing professionals around the world, held its annual Tower of Excellence Awards luncheon in conjunction with its National Conference in New Orleans last week. The Tower of Excellence Awards recognize success and achievement from within the corporate housing industry, and members from around the world come together to honor their peers and industry leaders.

Preferred Corporate Housing’s Director of Client Services, Michelle Velasquez, CCHP, was honored to receive the Tower of Excellence Award for ‘Volunteer of the Year.’ This award recognizes outstanding members who lend themselves to service and expansion of CHPA and the corporate housing industry, and it acknowledges diligence and service dedication. Velasquez’s active involvement with the National and Regional Conference Planning Committees, Program Task Force and NextGen Task Force led to her win for Volunteer of the Year.

“CHPA is a great organization with such amazing people. It is so easy to get involved, and it is very fulfilling to see the work we all put in result in industry-wide success,” said Velasquez. “I am very honored to win this award, and I am grateful to work for a company like Preferred Corporate Housing that allows me to get involved with organizations like CHPA.”

About Preferred Corporate Housing:
Preferred Corporate Housing is the premier, North American temporary lodging provider for corporate/government relocation programs, extended travel assignments and other corporate travel needs. Since 1996, Preferred Corporate Housing has built a unique model for providing housing solutions in more than 42,000 locations across the US and Canada, specializing in remote destinations and third-tier cities. PCH takes pride in its ability to provide furnished lodging solutions exactly where clients need them, when they need them. Multiple options are available at every budgetary level, making PCH a great partner for any relocation program.

About CHPA:
The Corporate Housing Providers Association (CHPA) is the only trade association dedicated to the corporate housing industry. As the industry continually evolves, members gain insight and resources on how to stay competitive through their involvement with CHPA. CHPA, as the voice of the corporate housing industry, offers networking, educational and informational opportunities to corporate housing providers around the world.

Tips to Overcome the Mid-Winter Work ‘Blahs’

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

winter work bluesThese tips were taken from a Forbes.com post written by Lisa Quast.

“I’m beginning to wonder if this grey winter weather is ever going to end,” remarked the woman in front of me as we waited in line at the coffee shop. “I just feel so blah. I don’t think I could make it through the work day without coffee,” she added.

Sound familiar? Unfortunately, the feelings that come from a prolonged lack of sun during the winter can get especially terrible, causing many people to lose steam at work. Need a pick-me-up to take you from ho-hum to energized at the office? Try these six simple tips:

Get moving. Let’s face it – most Americans don’t get enough exercise, so skip the elevator and use the stairs, park further away from the office and ask a co-worker to go for a walk during lunch (bundle up first). Get moving to increase energy and creativity.

Seek the sun. Winters mean short days and not a lot of sunlight, which can lead to a lack of vitamin D. It turns out 41.6% of U.S. adults are deficient in vitamin D, which is important in everything from regulating the immune system to keeping the brain functioning well. Talk to your doctor about checking your levels to see if you should add a supplement to your daily routine.

Laugh more. “Although we can’t yet say that a certain number of laughs every day will keep the doctor away, studies show that people who say they laugh a lot also tend to be in good health and generally feel well,” states Madeline Vann, MPH. Go ahead! Laugh with co-workers and share those funny stories before or after meetings (just keep them “G” rated).

Get more zzzs. Feel like napping at 2 p.m. each day? Studies reveal that nearly 20% of Americans get less than six hours of sleep per night. To improve your energy, health and immune system, sleep expert Dr. Ranit Mishori recommends seven to nine hours of sleep every night for adults.

Set a challenging goal. University professors Edwin Locke and Gary Latham studied 35 years of goal-setting and task-motivation research and found “that the highest or most difficult goals produced the highest levels of effort and performance.” To get motivated… challenge yourself.

Express gratitude. Being grateful increases happiness and motivation. Take some time each day to write down things that make you thankful. After following this process for a few weeks, people generally “feel better about themselves, have more energy and feel more alert,” says Robert Emmons, a leading gratitude researcher at the University of California at Davis.

2014 – PCH New Year’s Resolutions

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Coming off such a successful 2013 year, it would be easy for us to just continue doing exactly what we’ve been doing and probably be okay. But at PCH, we don’t strive for “okay.” We want excellence, we want to be the best! So in order to ensure our success and commit to being ‘Your Permanent Solution for Temporary Housing Nationwide,’ we’ve made a few New Year’s Resolutions as a company to make 2014 even better than 2013.

Resolution #1: Treat our Clients more like guests in our home
We offer our fully furnished apartments as a more home-like alternative to cramped hotel stays. We include all the furnishings, housewares, and services that make up a corporate apartment, but in 2014, we are resolving to do a better job making each guest feel more at home when they arrive. By offering concierge services, customized local area information, and spending more time getting to know each client we hope each person who stays in a PCH apartment feels like our special guest

Resolution #2: Learn more about what our clients want
At PCH, we know that the most important thing you can do to have a mutually beneficial relationship with your clients is to consistently ask them what they want, and how we can be better. Too many companies think they know what their clients need but really don’t know because they never ask them. We resolve to ask more often, and more importantly, LISTEN to their answers.

Resolution #3: Make it easy for clients to offer feedback
Client feedback is the most important resource we have. It lets us know how we are doing on a day-to-day basis. We know that our clients are extremely busy and don’t want to spend too much time completing mindless surveys, so we resolve to make it easy and convenient for our clients to reach out to us with their feedback and suggestions for improvement. We will let them reach out to us when, where and how they want to. We will develop as many ways to open the lines of communication as possible.

Resolution #4: Have fun
If you’ve met us in person or ever worked closely with our team, you know that we love to have fun as a company. We work hard together and we love one another like family! We know that companies, like ours, that enjoy tremendous client loyalty offer their clients something they can’t get anywhere else: FUN! We resolve to provide our clients and guests an unexpected, positive experience; to have fun with them! We will continue to find ways to bring fun and joy into our work, and we will bring our clients along for the ride!

Overall, we resolve to learn from the past 12 months and look forward to the next 12. We will continuously strive to offer the best service at the lowest price, and hope that as we keep our 2014 New Year’s Resolutions you will continue to think of Preferred Corporate Housing as “Your Permanent Solution for Temporary Housing Nationwide!”