Tag Archives: coo’s corner

COO’s Corner: Support Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace

COO’s Corner: Support Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace

It’s a new era for mental health. Never before have mental health challenges been more prevalent across the country. One study reported 76% of workers experienced at least one symptom of a mental health condition in the last year, supporting the notion that mental health challenges impact nearly all of us on a regular basis.

Our agency continuously promotes the physical and mental wellbeing of our staff by creating a culture of acceptance and access to resources. In honor of Mental Health Awareness Day, I want to share my thoughts on the importance of creating a supportive company culture that promotes mental health.

Understand how mental health impacts our employees

Understandably, poor mental health and stress can have a negative impact on employees. It can impact their productivity, engagement and communication. Strengthening overall mental health is critical to help support our employees to be happy, self-actualized individuals. It’s important that employees feel safe and satisfied at work as they do in other areas of their lives for their personal wellbeing.

Our agency strives to foster a company culture based on trust and compassion. I have an open-door policy and encourage my staff to come to talk about any concerns or personal implications that impact their work lives. There is no stigma and no judgment in regards to mental health.

Prioritizing mental health coverage in our health care plan

The most vital action an employer can take is to offer resources for mental health. Healthcare is part of mental health, so when choosing a healthcare plan, we prioritized one that offered higher coverage, including mental health services.

Additionally, mental health is strongly linked to physical health, and as an agency, we want to support our team’s healthy lifestyle. That’s why our office reimburses for gym memberships, to encourage our staff to get active and clear their mind.

Offer Tips and Strategies 

Since the start of the pandemic, I incorporated weekly staff emails sharing important updates, resources and tips. In my latest email, I shared a piece of inspiration that I recently learned in a yoga class.

Like many, I often feel like I am running out of time, but that is not true. I just need to take a deep breath and relax. I was taught to say “I have” while breathing in and on the breath out say “time.” Again, breathe in “I have” and exhale “time.” Since learning this technique, I have used it frequently and find it helpful and calming. Try it out and see if it does the same for you.

Sustainable Ways of Working 

A critical component in promoting positive mental health practices is providing flexibility and sustainable measures to set employees up for long-term success. A saying that we live by at the agency is, “This is PR, not ER.” Our agency promotes a positive work-life balance where we don’t encourage working nights or on the weekends. Additionally, we offer generous PTO for a much-needed break.

We’ve permanently implemented a hybrid structure, with team members splitting their time working in the office and at home, which provides an adaptable environment and enables staff to be the most effective.

All Points PR prioritizes the health and wellbeing of our staff. We’re committed to doing our part to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health. My door is always open if you have any questions or concerns.

Lauren Izaks is the COO and executive vice president of All Points Public Relations, a franchise-focused PR agency based in the Chicagoland area, www.allpointspr.com.

COO’s Corner: Fostering a Culture of Leadership

COO’s Corner: Fostering a Culture of Leadership

Companies that make leadership development a strategic priority attract and retain the best talent. Often, it’s a strong leadership team that makes an organization.

At All Points PR, leadership is engrained in all of our employees, at every level. We foster a culture of leadership across the agency through mentorship, recognition and investment, both professionally and personally.

Mentorship

Mentoring is critical in helping mentees and mentors develop leadership skills in a variety of ways. One of the key benefits of mentoring is developing and refining mentees’ leadership philosophies.

At All Points PR, we implemented this idea through our mentorship program. Each team member chooses a mentor from the very beginning of their APPR career to talk through challenges, give advice and serve as another resource for help. Mentees become mentors, continuing the cycle and passing on wisdom to the next group of young professionals.

Recognition

Quality leaders encourage their teams to recognize one another for their achievements. By recognizing your employees for the work they’re doing, you will instantly boost employee engagement and morale.

One small, yet effective way we praise your team is through publicly acknowledging a “win of the week.” Since highlighting accomplishments though agency-wide weekly email updates, All Points employees have jumped at the chance to submit each other for the honor and work to earn the honor themselves.

Investment

There’s no better way to nurture employee leadership than investing in their potential. As an agency, we’re always looking for learning opportunities for our staff. Many have taken courses and attended leadership conventions to expand their skillsets. By offering employees additional training opportunities, we’re investing in the advancement of their careers while adding value to our clients. 

We are fortunate to have the ability to continue to grow our team. Be sure to check out our current job openings here to become the next era of APPR leaders.

Lauren Izaks is the COO and executive vice president of All Points Public Relations, a franchise-focused PR agency based in the Chicagoland area, www.allpointspr.com.

COO’s Corner: Hiring & Retaining Gen Z

COO’s Corner: Hiring & Retaining Gen Z

Move over, Millennials. On the cusp of their professional careers, Generation Z (born between 1996 and 2012) is joining the workforce at an opportune time. As businesses continue to rebound following the pandemic, this presents a large array of opportunities for the next generation of employees.

Who exactly is Gen Z?

Don’t get confused; while Gen Z shares a number of characteristics with Millennials, their formative years have shaped different attitudes and outlooks on the world today.

Here’s a rundown of Gen Z characteristics:

  • Digital Natives
  • Visually Oriented
  • Financially-Minded
  • Shrewd Consumers
  • Increase in Mental Health Awareness
  • Politically Progressive
  • Diverse

Gen Z has the unique experience as the first generation to grow up with technology at their fingertips. They don’t recall a world without the internet, smartphones or social media. But tapping into this new generation of digital natives has become more strategic than ever before, even platforms like TikTok are piloting their own job site.

As our agency continues to grow, we’re thrilled to open our recruiting efforts to persistent, creative individuals with strong critical thinking abilities. We’re currently growing across all departments with opportunities in PR, content marketing, social media and digital marketing.

So, as businesses push to hire Gen Z, how can we attract them? To draw and retain this new generation, employers need to be more strategically personal, get social and promote opportunities for advancement.

1. Double-Down on Campus Recruitment

Gen Z is on track to be the best-educated generation yet, according to the Pew Research Center. Among 18 to 21-year-olds no longer in high school, 57% enrolled in a two-year or four-year college compared to 52% of Millennials in 2003 and 43% of Gen X in 1987.

For companies looking to recruit this demographic, establishing strong relationships with colleges and universities is a great pathway for referrals and connecting with up-and-coming talent.

At All Points, we’re committed to building connections with nearby universities through our AP University Initiative. This program is designed to strengthen partnerships with on-sight visits, speaking engagements and agency tours. Despite COVID, we’ve upheld our mission and hosted virtual tours and Q&As with our staff to educate the next generation of the public relations industry.

2. Use social media to enhance corporate culture

Considering their connection to the digital world, social media is the most ideal way to attract and engage Gen Z. Use this opportunity to your advantage by promoting your company across social channels, raising your awareness and showing off your company’s unique culture.

According to a survey by Tallo, 87% of Gen Z respondents feel it’s important to build a professional brand online. Take a page from their book and make sure that your culture is accurately reflected across all channels.

If you look at our social platforms, you’ll get a glimpse into the life at APPR. From employee Instagram takeovers to agency seminars, and appearances from our office dogs, Cubby and Ivy, we give a well-rounded perception of what our agency life is like. I always encourage all applicants throughout the interview process to take a look at our blogs, social media and website to fully understand the ins and outs of the agency and our clients.

3. Promote Learning and Development

Gen Z is highly motivated to grow their careers, with 76% seeing learning as the key to their advancement, according to a LinkedIn workplace study. As newcomers to the professional world, emphasizing growth opportunities is key to Gen Z retention.

We offer several programs across the agency for development, including our mentorship program and employee development courses. We see education as an opportunity to invest in our employees’ careers while adding value to our clients.

In reality, there’s no secret to success when it comes to hiring Gen Z professionals. This a dynamic and highly skilled generation of workers, and the best thing businesses can do is understand their needs and be ready to adapt to meet them.

Check out our current job openings here!

Lauren Izaks is the COO and executive vice president of All Points Public Relations, a franchise-focused PR agency based in the Chicagoland area, www.allpointspr.com.

COO’s Corner: Stress Awareness Month

COO’s Corner: Stress Awareness Month

April is stress awareness month, and I’m challenging you all to take a moment and reflect on your overall mental wellbeing. Stress is a natural part of life and can be motivating in the short term. However, it’s important to find healthy ways to cope with long-term stress to remain positive, and productive.

Feeling burnt out or stressed can happen at any point in one’s career, and shouldn’t carry any feeling of shame or failure with it. In fact, you should feel the opposite—acknowledging that something isn’t quite right in your headspace is a first step towards making a mindful change.

Here are a few ways to help cope with stress related to your career:

Plan for the Plop

Planning ahead to stay organized can greatly decrease your stress at work. In our office, I use the phrase “plan for the plop,” which means scheduling time in your day to handle any unexpected demands that require immediate attention. That way, as things come up, you aren’t overwhelmed with working that into your list of priorities.

My biggest piece of advice for my senior staff and account leads is to write out a list of tasks for each client. You’d be surprised how much better you feel just writing a list and getting it out of your mind.

Radical Self-Care

It’s crucial to take time to rest and recharge. You have the responsibility to take care of yourself first before attempting to work on other tasks. Take this scenario for instance: if a road needs repair, the city will close it and repair it. If one aspect of your life is causing stress, you need to close out other things and repair it.

Take a radical approach to manage stress, whether it’s binging a few episodes of your favorite show while eating pizza or opening up a good book, pause and allocate time to fix yourself first. Remember, you’re doing your best. We’re in the middle of a pandemic, and we all deserve a little compassion.

Working Out to Manage Stress

Stress doesn’t always begin in your head. Your body can have its own physical reactions that manifest in mental fogginess or unrest. To help cope, exercise your body to help your mind. Countless scientific studies have shown regular exercise can provide significant changes to your body, your metabolism, your heart and your spirits. Exercise has a unique ability to exhilarate and relax, to counter depression and stress.

Lauren Izaks is the COO and executive vice president of All Points Public Relations, a franchise-focused PR agency based in the Chicagoland area, www.allpointspr.com.

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COO’s Corner: 5 Resolutions for Business Leaders to Consider in 2021

COO’s Corner: 5 Resolutions for Business Leaders to Consider in 2021

Resolution season is well underway. After the year we’ve all had, our goals and areas of focus may be a little different in 2021. Here are five suggested resolutions for those in leadership positions to keep in mind as we all prepare for a successful year ahead!

Establish a mentorship program

Did you know that January is National Mentoring Month? Relationships are extremely powerful, and there’s nothing like the relationship between a mentor and a mentee. Mentors are especially great to establish for new hires to help them learn the ropes, develop those crucial relationships and fine-tune their skills, but also consider how these principles can be applied to your team long term. Of course, organizations already have informal mentorships as employees look to each other for guidance. However, if your team doesn’t have a formal mentorship program in place, consider creating a structure where identified mentors and mentees meet regularly and tackle set goals and objectives. Established mentoring programs directly contribute to the development of a better trained and more-engaged workforce over time.

Encourage development opportunities – and remember to pursue your own

As a leader, you understand the importance of continued learning and development opportunities. I consistently encourage my team to pursue the opportunities that interest them most, whether they be classes, conferences, workshops or anything in between. At the same time, however, don’t forget to attend to your own professional development! No matter how long you’ve been in the game, there’s always room to learn and grow. For example, All Points PR Senior Director Bailey Hewitt and I each recently earned a Leadership Certificate from Northwestern University’s Professional Development Program last year. In 2021, I not only encourage my own team to refine their skills and explore new opportunities, but I’m also seeking out my own continued education. As you would envision for your team, never stop growing and improving upon your craft as well.

Fine-tune your team’s Zoom etiquette

In the spirit of self-improvement, now might be a good time for your team to brush up on Zoom etiquette and best practices. One way you can lead this initiative is by setting up mock calls with your team, individually or in groups. It can be easy for team members to behave more casually during internal meetings via Zoom. If you frame these mock calls in a different setting, such as if they were on a call with a client or key stakeholder, this will allow you to better observe their behaviors. Note areas of success and improvement among each team member during these calls and present your findings afterward. 

Strive to maintain balance

This is certainly easier said than done, but it’s so important that you maintain balance in your life to avoid burnout. With many of us working from home, the lines can become quite blurry when it comes to leaving work mode and entering at-home mode, and vice versa. Strive to create a balance between your life in and out of the workplace by setting appropriate boundaries and sticking to them. And, don’t forget to take breaks! Step away from the computer and do something for yourself during lunchtime, whether it’s getting some fresh air or reading a book. Finally, we’ve left a challenging year behind, but there’s still plenty of stressful issues and uncertainties in today’s world. Know when it’s time to put down your phone, turn off the TV and focus on you – not the news.

 Be ready to roll with the punches

If there’s one lesson I’ve taken away from 2020, it’s that you need to be ready to roll with the punches. Expect the unexpected and know that not everything in life goes as planned. You’ve adapted, faced your own adversities and overcome barriers before – trust that you’re prepared to deal with the new year ahead and any obstacles you may face. Resolve to handle them as best as you can, because all you can do is try your best.

Lauren Izaks is the COO and executive vice president of All Points Public Relations, a franchise-focused PR agency based in the Chicagoland area, www.allpointspr.com.

COO’s Corner: National Emotional Wellness Month

COO’s Corner: National Emotional Wellness Month

October is Emotional Wellness Month, and in a year like 2020, it’s more important than ever to take stock of our stress levels and attend to our emotional health. Not to mention, as the days become shorter (and seasonal affective disorder can set in), the election grows closer and the news cycle churns out one unsettling story after another, many of us are feeling unsure about what the future holds.

While emotional health and mental health are terms often used interchangeably, emotional health “focuses on being in tune with our emotions, vulnerability and authenticity” according to licensed psychologist Juli Fraga, PsyD. We must remember that emotional health is a vital aspect of our overall health. People who focus on improving their emotional health can feel more in control of their thoughts, feelings and behaviors, and how they’re able to cope with life’s challenges.

There are plenty ways to improve or maintain good emotional health – many are small adjustments you can incorporate into your daily routine. Here are a few to consider:

Pause and reflect

Whether you’re feeling like you’re in a slump or running a mile a minute, it’s important to take some time to align with your emotions. Pause, take a deep breath, and evaluate how you’ve been feeling. Then, write it all down. Think about why you’re feeling this way – are there any external factors that you can address? While there will always be things out of your control that will impact how you feel, you have the power to choose how you react – and to focus on the things you can change.

Strive for balance

Without a healthy balance between work, play, activity and rest, you’ll soon find yourself running on empty. And, with many individuals working remotely at home during the pandemic, those lines can become blurred real fast. Set yourself up with the appropriate boundaries to ensure you’re striving for balance each and every day. Start by taking a walk during your lunch break or settling in for bed 30 minutes earlier than you normally would (no phones or screens allowed!).

Focus on the positives

It can be easier said than done, but there’s nothing like the power of positivity. Focus on the good things in your life – one way to do this is by keeping a gratitude journal. Write down three to five things you’re thankful for, or reflect on some good things that occurred during your day. These can be as simple as waking up without hitting snooze or seeing a dog on your walk.

Connect with others

Social distancing has left many people starved for human interaction, but thanks to technology, we’re never truly “alone.” Though it can be difficult to avoid “Zoom fatigue” as we navigate this new normal, there are other ways to connect with your loved ones if you want to save the video chats for work. Even a simple phone call to catch up and talk about how you’re feeling with a friend can serve as a better alternative if you find video chats to be overstimulating. Or, if you’re in need of a fun distraction, you can download a digital multi-player game to kill some time and still have that much-needed interaction.

Remember – being emotionally healthy doesn’t equate to feeling happy all the time. Your emotional wellness rests on being aware of your emotions and having the capability to deal with them, whether they are positive or negative. Most importantly, be gentle and forgiving with yourself, because all you can do is try your best. Consider the ways in which you can best approach good emotional health – you’re worth it!

Lauren Izaks is the COO and executive vice president of All Points Public Relations, a franchise-focused PR agency based in the Chicagoland area, www.allpointspr.com.

COO’s Corner: Spring Clean Your Workspace and Routine

COO’s Corner: Spring Clean Your Workspace and Routine

Spring is quickly approaching, so you know what that means. It’s time for some spring cleaning! Organization and tidiness are essential for a clear mind and increased productivity, so I cannot stress enough the importance of keeping a clean environment at work. Here are three ways to spring clean your workspace and routine:

Strive for inbox zero

A cluttered inbox = a cluttered mind. It’s important to stay on top of your emails to ensure nothing falls through the cracks. Utilize your filing system and flags to organize, label and prioritize your emails. Treat your inbox as a version of your to do’s by putting the quickest and most important tasks at the top of your list. Don’t need it? Delete it. Done with your task? File it away! Everyone should strive for inbox zero at the end of each day using these tips.

Keep your workflow organized

We continue to refine the processes and systems related to our workflow, which includes the use of online filing systems and programs. All of these tools are highly collaborative, so in order for them to be the most effective, everyone must do their part in keeping their areas up to date. Ensure you’re properly naming and saving documents, images, etc. in the appropriate shared files – none of these items should ever be left saved on your desktop! In terms of workflow and to do’s, ensure you and your team are on the same page by consistently sharing updates. Take some time throughout and at the end of each day to note the status on your current projects.

Sanitize your desk

Did you know that the average desk contains 400 times more germs than a toilet seat? Recent research reveals that more than two thirds of office workers are at risk of sickness due to dirty desks. Think about the items you touch most often that probably aren’t being cleaned enough, such as your keyboard, telephone and mouse. When was the last time you wiped them down? In the spirit of spring cleaning and keeping everyone healthy, it’s important to regularly sanitize high-traffic areas in the office such as your desk.

With collaboration and effort, we can all work together to keep a cleaner and more organized office.

Lauren Izaks is the COO and executive vice president of All Points Public Relations, a franchise-focused PR agency based in the Chicagoland area, www.allpointspr.com.