Earn Employee Loyalty through Benefits Technology

As organizations continue to compete for talent, they are realizing the integral role that benefits play in attracting and retaining the right employees. This is evidenced in our Global Employee Benefits Watch research, which surveyed 2,200 employees from companies around the world and found that only 15% of candidates don’t ask about benefits at all during the interview process. In fact, benefits have a huge role to play not only in attracting talent, but in influencing employees feelings about their current employer. Eighty percent of employees who said they have a good variety of benefits to choose from also said they identified strongly with their organization’s vision and values, as opposed to 40% of those who don’t. Market-leading organizations recognize this and to attract the best candidates and keep current employees happy, more and more employers are working to improve their benefits programs. While offering tailored benefits is important, much of the impact on employee loyalty is lost if these benefits aren’t easily accessible.

Giving employees easy access to their benefits information seems simple enough, yet over 50% of employees say they can’t access their benefits in the way they prefer and just 21% of employees say they can easily access their benefits. Clearly, employers are still delivering benefits in ways that don’t resonate with their people. So, what action does this mean employers should take? How can organizations make sure their people take full advantage of what’s available to them? Our research shows that employees are looking for the same experience they have getting information in their personal lives to be mirrored at work – one of the main aspects being the ability to consume information in a variety of ways. Using a number of communication options, including those driven by tech, is the key to keeping employees engaged and happy.

Integrating technology-enabled communication methods really pays off. For example, 62% of employees prefer to use a laptop for research and information gathering and 40% prefer mobile. Technology’s prevalence in everyday life is pushing employers to make sure their benefits strategy is delivered through  intuitive HR tech with a seamless user experience.

While making sure employees can access benefit information online is critical, it’s also important to deliver this information through other methods too. The only method that beats email and computer access is discussing benefits face-to-face with an employer, with 46% of employees receiving information this way reporting being satisfied. Email and computer access were close behind with satisfaction levels at 44% and 42% respectively. When information is more complicated and personal, people often prefer an in-person conversation.

The numbers say it all. 81% of employees who can easily access their benefits said they feel loyal to their employer and 79% say they were proud to work for their organization. Easy access to benefits information keeps employees happy and has the potential to secure longevity. 77% of employees who understand their benefits offering said they saw themselves staying at their organization for the foreseeable future.

It’s encouraging that employers realize the need to offer better benefits options to their people. But too many are stopping there. Making sure employees have the information they need about their benefits is the next step in solidifying employee loyalty, influencing whether they recommend working there to a friend, and, arguably most importantly, decide to leave or stay. If employers are committed to attracting top talent and keeping their employees, they need to ensure their benefits not only meet their needs, but that they can access them in the most consumer-friendly way possible.

 

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The Correlation Between Office Design & Productivity

Productivity is a fickle little thing and if you’re not careful, one bad decision can ruin all your efforts of making your workplace a thriving, fruitful community. Everything, including your office design, has to create an optimal atmosphere for getting work done, and dim, cluttered spaces certainly won’t cut it. But there is more to it than just keeping the space neat and organized. Studies have shown that many other factors matter – and they affect not only how productive you are but also your health and well-being. So let’s see some of the factors of office design that are related to the productivity of employees.

Office design plan

Several studies concluded that the layout of the office is of the essence. However, the tricky part is that the “best” office plan varies from company to company. You have to weigh your objectives, priorities, your company culture and a slew of other factors when deciding on the layout. If work in your office requires a lot of communication among your employees on a daily basis, your company might benefit from having an open floor plan that encourages teamwork. On the other hand, for companies where employees have to focus in order not to make mistakes in their work, the same plan would drive everyone mad, not to mention completely diminish productivity and ultimately be detrimental to the whole business. Thus, you have to think carefully about what the needs of your business and your employees are and plan accordingly.

Noise and lighting

There are some things you can control about your office, and there are some you simply can’t. Noise is a serious detrimental factor to productivity and morale. If your office has been blessed by being located in a quiet neighborhood, outside noise is not a problem for you. If not, however, you might want to turn to some soundproofing solutions to reduce the distraction the surrounding traffic or nearby construction work creates. Noise-canceling headphones work well too, also for those employees who share their workspace but are distracted by others talking etc. As for lighting, it’s another one of the top three environmental factors affecting productivity. Natural light is, of course, the best since it has a positive effect on mood, resulting in better productivity. If you don’t have plenty of that, you can make up for it with appropriate (preferably layered) artificial lights to keep your employees awake and alert.

Ergonomic furniture

The comfort of your employees is another major factor that affects their productivity levels – and also health. Palm rests and screen support for those working on the computer will prevent pain in their neck and wrists, so the morale remains high in the office. Even more importantly, ergonomic desks and chairs are essential in preventing back pain and all the health consequences it will bring. Nothing diminishes productivity like an aching back, and finding quality office chairs in Sydney, New York, or anywhere else in the world is a walk in the park, so don’t skip this step. Moreover, a designated place with comfortable furniture such as sofas or lazy bags where employees can take a break and relax can also give them a boost. Lounging for a couple of minutes and taking their mind off work and their eyes off screen will renew their energy supplies to finish their tasks.

Equipment

One of the most frustrating things in an office is old, malfunctioning equipment. Having to spend ten minutes getting the printer to work or waiting for a page to load not only slows down your employees but it’s also annoying and will destroy the creative mood they were in and disrupt their workflow. Invest in up-to-date, high-quality equipment if you want to prevent this from taking a toll on your business’s productivity. Something as little as faster Wi-Fi will do wonders, but it’s also possible you’ll need to make a bigger investment, such as buying new laptops better suited to what your employees do.

Embracing biophilic design

An all-around approach that should be considered by all business owners is implementing elements of biophilic design into their offices. Basically, all of the aforementioned positive changes, including plenty of light and ergonomic furniture are important elements of biophilia, but there are so many more fronts on which you could take advantage of this nature-centric approach and give a boost to your employees’ productivity. If your office has not been blessed by a scenic view (let’s face it, few have), it is your job to bring nature in and elevate the mood. Green office spaces “generate physiological responses such as increased brain activity and lower stress hormones”, so it’s more than clear that a couple of potted plants or, if you want to go big, a living wall or a green roof can double productivity if implemented right. Don’t underestimate the power of nature and humans’ connection to it.

 

In today’s competitive market, employers need to make the most of what they have in order to stay afloat. Maximizing productivity in your workplace through office design is not a huge investment, but it will hugely reflect on how your business is doing. Takes these pieces of advice and your office productivity will soon thrive.

Personalize the Employee Experience by Going Digital

By: Jen Stroud, HR Evangelist and Transformation Leader, ServiceNow

You know Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), one of the oldest and most rote tasks in the web builder’s playbook. I’m here to tell you that if you’re in Human Resources and building a knowledge base for your employees to use: Ditch those FAQs. Instead of making assumptions about what information employees want and need, figure out what questions they’re actually asking and focus your efforts there.

I call these Actually Asked Questions, or AAQs.

Implementing a knowledge base with AAQs can be a great first step in leading your organization into a new era, one in which organizations become more personalized, predictive, and seamless for their employees. This is a critical transformation. A recent survey of CHROs (chief human resource officers) reveals that more than half of CHROs (56 percent) see their roles as creating a digital, consumerized employee experience. And 77 percent, or more than three in in four, expect to see improved employee experiences from digital transformation in the next three years.

So where should you begin this daunting task of providing all information pertinent to your employee base? Start simple and take a phased approach.

To start, have your HR department take a few weeks and log every question that comes its way, whether via email, phone call, or someone flagging them down in the hallway. Build a database. See what it is that employees need to know, and what’s bubbling up as a question being asked over and over again. Use the top 20 or 30 questions to build your knowledge base. If you have the answers to those AAQs, you’ll be well on your way to creating something your employees will find useful.

When it comes to search functionality within your knowledge base, keep it simple and uncomplicated. Google became a massive company with the simplest of search pages. Learn from that. Equally important, ensure the search results are simple, too. Write answers in conversational, digestible language that employees can easily consume. You do not want to provide as the first search result your company’s entire policy. No one will read it and you’ll start the vicious cycle of phone calls to the HR department all over again.

Building AAQs does take some time. There’s work required up-front that will pay off if done right. Which means curating the content listed, not lifting and shifting information into the knowledge base from some other database or portal without carefully vetting it first. Listen to the employees. They’ll tell you what they need. And then refine that information into something easily digestible, so it’s of maximum utility.

Once you’ve built a knowledge base, keep it growing. As employees ask more questions, add them to the AAQs, because they’re coming from a place of authenticity. The knowledge base should be a living organism. For instance, perhaps when you assembled your AAQs, no one had asked about jury duty, but suddenly the courts call several of your employees. Go ahead and put that in.  One key to making the knowledge base work: Assign one person to be your knowledge manager. Especially key in the first six to 12 months after the knowledge base rolls out, the knowledge manager needs to keep a close watch on which questions are being asked, what searches are successful, and so on, so they can update and grow the database accordingly.

Here’s a bold idea that we tried, and it really worked: When you’re ready to go live with your new knowledge base, turn off your general 800-number and email accounts previously used to reach HR staff. Force employees to use the knowledge base and continue to refer them to the AAQs. Many organizations, however, find that approach too aggressive. You can still keep the lines of communication open if you like. Then if someone comes to HR with a question that could have been solved by searching in the AAQs, have HR reply with a gentle note along these lines: “I found your answer in our new knowledge base. Here’s the link.”

Either way, the knowledge base should be easily searchable on the employee-facing website/portal so you reinforce the habit of turning there first for all questions. It should also have the option to submit a new inquiry to the knowledge base, with a prompt along the lines of: Would you like to submit a case? Then the knowledge manager can respond, route their question, and take the steps necessary behind the scenes to incorporate the answer into the knowledge base for the next time that question gets posed.

That’s where the project comes full circle. You’re using real-life transactions to help inform and build your living knowledge base, ultimately serving the needs of your employees.  And with that, you’re well on your way to the new era of serving employees through digital transformation!

How to Build a Successful eCommerce Brand

We live in a world of global trading, a world where eCommerce is on a perpetual upward trajectory, fuelled by an ever-increasing demand for goods of all shapes and sizes in a seemingly endless marketplace. This is truly the dawn of a new age for entrepreneurship, as nowadays everyone and anyone with a solid Wi-Fi connection and a laptop can launch and grow their online store, and establish a global reputation.

That said, the eCommerce market is an extremely populated one – some might deem it oversaturated as well – which begs the need for a unique approach to branding, marketing, and positioning in order to set yourself apart from the competition. Acquiring loyal customers requires meticulous preparation and effective implementation, so here is your essential guide to building a successful eCommerce brand that will pave the road to a prosperous future in the industry.

Make it personal

In a sea of mediocrity and monotony, an expansive marketplace where every online store resembles the other and customers have no real way of distinguishing between brands, there is an imperative to build something truly unique and different, something that will resonate with the hearts and minds of your demographic. And your best bet is to create a personal brand people will know and love.

Now, a personal brand can take numerous forms, and even if you don’t want to base the brand’s personality on your own story, you do you want a smiling face and a friendly voice to be the key portrayers of your business. Why? Because in a sea of corporations looking to make a quick buck, people will want to connect and develop a relationship with an image that is relatable, personal, and trustworthy.

So instead of going for the shotgun approach and creating yet another online store that bears no unique trait whatsoever, focus on tailoring a story and an image based on relatable values, a brand your audience will want to be a part of, and share across the online universe.

Find your niche and USP

Of course, a brand cannot hope to find its unique voice and visuals without first discovering its most prospective niche, probing deep into the habits of its target demographic, and establishing its unique selling proposition. In a world of hot commodities and ever-changing trends, you want to find a lucrative and prospective niche, preferably one that will allow you to grow and not get overwhelmed by the sheer number of competitors.

Finding such a niche is not an easy task. Hot commodities such as tech might seem appealing, but the competition is so vast that you might never achieve the success you dream of. But regardless if you choose to sell smart gadgets or baby accessories, you need to develop your unique selling proposition in order to solidify your standing in the market, and motivate people to join your brand.

Design, integration, simplicity

When it comes to building success in the eCommerce arena, website design will play a vital, if not the key role. Your entire business depends on the development and implementation of a strong, recognisable brand. That’s why your online presentation needs to portray this in the best way possible.

Take the Australian eCommerce market as a prime example of the importance of branding, and try to implement their methods into your own strategy. Companies specialising in website development in Sydney and other entrepreneurial centres in the country give priority to meticulous web design that does not only speak the true language of your brand, but boasts full integration, including mobile optimization and transparency. This way, you will win over the crowd with an amazing design, but by keeping it transparent, optimised, and simple, you can even speed up the decision-making process and boost conversions.

Prioritise customer experience

Another crucial element that will define the future of your online business is customer experience. The fate of your business literally depends on the positive to negative feedback ratio, and as a growth-oriented company trying to outpace the competition, you cannot afford to receive any negative feedback.

This is why you need to develop effective channels of communication with your demographic, work on continuously improving your processes, and act on valuable customer feedback in order to drive innovation. Not only will this boost your brand recognition and customer loyalty, but you will be able to always stay one step ahead of the competition as well.

Create stellar content

Last but not least, it’s important to recognize the power and potential of content marketing. Just because what you’re selling is inherently appealing to the public, or because it’s something everyone needs doesn’t mean that your products shouldn’t have a unique story, message, and support a certain set of values.

Remember, a product without a creative description or story is just another product on the web, but if you give it a unique name and a purpose, people will have something to connect with on a deeper level, and thus become your lifelong customers. They will become a part of your brand.

In the overly competitive eCommerce arena, you cannot afford to lose time and money trying to beat your peers. Instead, you need to focus on the consumer, and create a brand your target demographic will connect with on an emotional level. Only this way will you be able to pave the road to long-term success in the online world.

Highly Effective Tips for Business Success for Startups

Highly Effective Tips for Business Success for Startups

“Starting your own business is like riding a roller coaster. There are highs and lows and every turn you take is another twist. The lows are really low, but the highs can be really high. You have to be strong, keep your stomach tight, and ride along with the roller coaster that you started.” – Lindsay Manseau, Photographer and Entrepreneur

According to Problemio, there are over 28 million small businesses in the U.S. However, the problem is almost 50% of startups fail during the first year. And the chances of reaching the end of the road only increase with each year on the market.

But why do so many companies face the risk of failure? The answer is not so simple although it all comes down to the issues entrepreneurs haven’t anticipated. So in order to get acquainted with corporate requirements and preventing possible business threats, we offer you a list of highly effective tips to help you secure the startup success and enhanced growth.

Know Your Goals

One of the biggest reasons why small businesses fail is because they didn’t research market demands. Before anything else, entrepreneurs need to be familiar with the industry, target audience, and competition. Who is your perfect customer? How are your products or services different from the rest? What is the ultimate business objective? And is the time for launching your business right?

Offer People a Deal They Can’t Refuse    

When first starting out, it’s important to offer quality. The business should be built around consumers because they are the backbone of every successful brand. Instead of focusing on sales, research what people need in the moment and then invest and promote deals customers will prefer.

Don’t be Afraid to Outsource     

Outsourcing has become the industry standard. Nowadays, those who wish to reduce costs, enhance customer experiences with the business, increase productivity and improve the quality of products and services in general, turn to outsourcing. Outsourcing back office operations, front office processes and marketing business processes are the main and highly rewarding options startups should definitely include in their business plan once the company begins to gain a broader awareness.

Keep a Close Eye on Cash Flow

The major liability that can ruin both a small business and a large enterprise is cash flow. As according to Nelson, a real estate business owner,  you need to have a clear idea of where the money goes and why. The business expenditure should be aligned with the main objectives while retaining a portion for unplanned situations. In other words, keep in touch with your accountant and have backup cash reserves as a safety cushion in case of shortfalls.   

Surround Yourself with a Motivated Team

The employee expertise is equally important as their motivation to complete tasks on time. Look at your staff as a well-oiled machine working towards a common goal which is, you guessed it, business successes. However, don’t forget that they are also people with hopes and dreams. Meaning you need to treat them with respect, include them in every step of the way, and provide opportunities for further occupational growth.

Share Your Success

It’s crucial to be transparent with your employees and customers. People feel more related and open to entrepreneurs who are not afraid to share their successes stories. Not only that transparency could help you raise productivity, but it can also build the necessary trust between a business and its audience. Plus, exchanging stories and listening to other ideas provides a chance to learn something new and to form loyal relationships along the way.

Leverage Technology into Your Advantage

Automation is the key to optimizing business processes. Digital technology and mighty software solutions can help to prevent human errors, enhance collaboration across departments, and better engage consumers. The good news is that you can take advantage of free online programs and affordable systems specifically designed to support SMBs. Just be sure you are picking the right tool for your business. Identify areas within your company that consume a lot of time and effort and use them as references.     

Learn to Move On

Taking care of every single thing and micromanaging projects can be stressful and damaging for the business. Some mistakes are bound to happen but if you want to overcome bumps on the road, learn to move on and trust your team to efficiently complete tasks. To put it simply, learn from mistakes but don’t fixate on problems.

Meet Your Investors

The majority of startups require investments to kick the business off. If you can relate, it’s recommended to find out what investors prefer and where can you find them. Doing online research is a good start, but still, work your way up in the entrepreneurial community and get involved on social media platforms. But before you contact investors, try finding or getting in touch with your mentors. They can tell you if your idea needs some touch-ups and prep you with the essentials investors expect to get from thriving entrepreneurs.  

 

Final Thoughts

“What I learned from Rockefeller that’s off-the-hook important is: You need to know exactly where you stand in a business at all times. Measure everything, because everything that is measured and watched improves.” – Bob Parson, GoDaddy Founder

All you need to succeed is a strategic head and a passionate heart. You need to be aware of everything that’s going on with your business at every moment. However, that doesn’t mean you should be too controlling and focused on every single detail.

Also, once the company experience successes, try not to become greedy. Remember, if you build your business on knowledge, respect, and a well-designed strategy, you will diminish the risk of becoming just one of the businesses who couldn’t keep up with evolving market requirements. Good luck!

Objection Handling – Objections are Not Rejections (Infographic)

Objections are not rejections, but it requires a long time to practice on how to handle rejections from your clients and customers. The business industry is full of competitive people that are firm in targeting customers loyalty by building relationships through advertisements and other marketing strategies. To conquer the battle that is already on hand with this kind of industry, equipped with how to handle your glory and defeats.

The key to cultivating a professional ground within your business and customers is to have an objective kind of approach towards objections, rather than winning personal or emotional attitudes towards your customers. The best thing to further understand what your customers and client’s objects with is to listen first to their concerns. An effective communicator should first be a good listener, especially when handling clients that are objecting to something. Once the information relayed to you, it is time to clarify the facts by repeating what they have just said. These are just some of the different forms of how to handle objections from your clients or customers, to learn more, check the infographic below created by Healthy Business Builder.

Objection Handling - Objections are NOT Rejections

Why a More Productive Workforce is Still Possible: Start by Listening to Your Employees

Author: Tracey Fritcher, Global Director HR Transformation, ServiceNow

The gains in workforce productivity in the last 15 years are numerous. But there are still many organizations today that are filled with a great deal of administrative work to get a task done – much of this work falls into the unstructured category and is a huge time waster.

What if there was a way to look at work and build some structure and automation into processes to drive more productivity? Many organizations are looking at work and finding ways to add some guided insight so people can accomplish more in each day of work.

Searching the phrase “increase workforce productivity” will return approximately 84 million results…in .57 seconds – an overwhelming amount of information about recent improvements and many predictions about future gains.

Many of the articles revolve around management practices and what leaders can do to get to that holy grail of incremental effort – the kind of commitment that fills an employee with the drive to stay up late and take care of a customer problem or come in early when two nurses have called in sick on their floor. This is great when it happens, but people have lives outside of work and circumstances prevent doing any more than what is required for the job.

Smart organizations are seeking productivity gains by identifying the biggest time wasters — the work that often falls through the cracks, is highly administrative, repeatable and many times done via phone, e-mail or still on paper. Some great examples of this type of work are tuition reimbursement, charity gift matching, or following up on a paycheck error.

Employees spend significant time just trying to figure out where to go to resolve these types of issues. Once they think they have the right place to go, the next step is usually an e-mail or a phone call which sometimes lead to an out of office or voice mail. So the next step is another e-mail or phone call and soon more than 30 minutes has evaporated and the employee is still without an answer or resolution.

Automation, intelligent workflow, and guided choices for employees to complete tasks are the keys to future productivity gains within workforces. For many workers, having immediate and direct access to answers is far more high-touch than having to call a service center to speak with a representative. Employees want the power of information and technology at their fingertips – besides, a cloud-enabled portal doesn’t have hours of operations – it’s always open and answers are instantaneous.

Recently, a flight crew from a discount airline was waiting for a hotel shuttle bus and talking about where to go for a paycheck dispute. There were six people in the conversation and each person had a different answer of who to contact. Since the high-touch, phone-answering 1-800 number was only open 12 hours a day, there were lots of work around as far as how to circumvent the often 20 or 30-minute hold time for a representative to look into the situation.

If this even happened 50 times a day, for a global 24/7 operation, the cost implications are beyond significant. In this situation, one employee had a similar issue and was on the phone for over an hour resolving a problem…and on the clock the entire time. A paycheck question is one of the easiest things to solve through automated workflow – there is one place to go and technology helps the employee find the right person for that unique question.

Listen

Smart companies start by listening to their employees and finding out what tasks or procedures are causing the greatest frustration. Once you have a short list of “pain points” of high frustration tasks for employees, the work to automate can begin. The great news is that sizable gains can be made just by making information readily available and easy to find. Most companies are looking at overall search capability to serve up answers to an employee without that person having to know exactly where to go.

A search of tuition reimbursement should bring up the policy, a list of FAQs, the link to submit grades and transcripts, a selection of where the reimbursement should go and someone to contact in case of a unique situation (e.g., think of all the recent for-profit college closings in recent years – the right person should be reachable and available to assist in that situation).

When employees are frustrated and administrative items are ridiculously difficult to resolve, the greater productivity impact is around the stories being shared about the awful experience. When an employee’s life event is particularly sudden and there are delayed responses or confusing communications from multiple parties, the result is a worker who is frustrated AND upset.

Terrible experiences with HR cannot be ignored. People share them. It’s too good not to share…and vent…and complain about – and then others hop on the bandwagon of THEIR awful work situation that was confusing and took forever to resolve.

This is all solvable by getting employees used to going one place –one platform instead of multiple systems — to have their issues resolved. When there is a strong service delivery strategy and solution in place within an organization, it really doesn’t matter what the request is – the answer is easy to find, the employee gets a quick resolution and there’s no drama over a ridiculous process.

It is easy to start small and keep building out answers that keep people focused on their actual jobs. Employees should not have to spend a great deal of time and energy to be an employee. At least some of this time and energy can then be expended on real work — like completing projects, making deadlines and serving customers.

Common HR Mistakes Startups Make

Regardless of how small or large your business is, the team that you assemble to work for you is an essential component to its success. As soon as you begin hiring staff members to join your startup, you must take on important human resources responsibilities. In many cases, hiring and developing talent as well as maintaining relationships with each team member can be stressful and challenging, and serious mistakes can be made.

Approaching the hiring and management tasks professionally from the start is essential for the success of your startup. It can reduce the number of issues that you run into and their severity. This means that you need to develop and follow effective human resources policies and processes immediately, and these should be scalable to accommodate growth in the years to come.

Identifying common human resources mistakes that startups make can help you to avoid making these same mistakes yourself. These are among the more common mistakes that startups make in the realm of human resources.

Not Seeking Professional Assistance

It may seem like hiring an employee to join your team is a relatively straightforward process and that you require little to no help with it. However, hiring a human resource professional as soon as possible to facilitate the hiring and management processes can help you to choose the right individuals to join the team. This step could also help you to retain the talent that you have worked so hard to recruit.

A good rule of thumb is to add one HR manager for every 50 employees on your team. This ensures that each individual on your team is properly managed. It also can help your HR team to identify potential issues that need to be addressed, answer their questions to promote happiness in the workplace and more. It is wise to have your HR professionals hired before adding even more individuals to join the team.

Hiring the Wrong Individuals

Entrepreneurs may be stressed with many responsibilities related to starting and growing a young business. With this in mind, it is understandable that you may take the approach of hiring any individual to join your team who has the right skillset and experience. However, there are many other factors to consider when making a hiring decision than simply the credentials on a resume. For example, a new-hire should have the right mentality to fit into corporate culture, solid personal skills to be an asset to the team and more. Your hiring process should successfully screen applicants in all relevant areas.

When you hire the wrong individuals for your positions, you may have operational issues. These individuals or others in the team could become discontent when new-hires are a poor fit, and your employee turnover rate may escalate. This type of employee experience could ultimately cost the company a substantial amount of money. To combat this, you need to have a solid financial plan for your business, and you need to stick to it. This plan should focus on standardizing the hiring process and creating clear, effective criteria to make a hiring decision by.

Not Having Strong Company Culture

Many of the largest and most successful corporations have a strong and identifiable company culture. For example, Apple is known for its outside-the-box thinking and for hiring creative individuals with fresh perspectives. You may assume that a company’s culture simply develops over time on its own, but the reality is that culture is created by the business owner though individualized decisions. For example, the interactions between team members and management can lay the foundation for culture. Without culture, your business may flounder.

Because of how important company culture is in even small companies, you need to understand how to create it. Choosing policies and processes that are aligned with the culture that you want to achieve is important. Your management team’s interactions with staff members also should represent culture. As you create corporate policies and business processes, the concept of corporate culture should also be in mind.

Failing to Develop the Team

While you may go to great lengths to hire new team members by focusing on their experience and skills, the business world is constantly changing. You need your existing team to be dynamic, and their ability to grow to meet changing needs is directly tied to the training opportunities that you provide to them. Keep in mind that your team members may also be personally interested in advancing within their career. They do not want to feel as though their skillset is outdated, and they may have a goal of climbing the corporate ladder within your company.

Developing your team begins during the onboarding process, which is a time when a new-hire learns about company culture and professional development programs available to him or year. These development programs could include in-house training and mentoring, assistance obtaining certifications, college tuition reimbursement and more. Development opportunities should be offered, encouraged and available to team members free of charge.

Final Word

While many aspects of your business operations require constant attention and thoughtful effort, hiring the right individuals to join your startup team is essential. Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs make serious hiring and management mistakes, and these can ultimately be detrimental and costly to the business. If you are preparing to hire team members soon or if you are facing HR and management challenges, it may benefit your business to reassess your human resources efforts and strategies.

Real Estate Photography Group

How Proficient Real Estate Photography Can Influence a Leaning to Emerge From the Group

Most home buyers today start their search on Google, sometimes months before even serious looking really starts. People want to get an idea of what options they have out there. This is one of your first opportunities to snack some interest.

Over 90% of new home buyers say that they first found the house they ended up purchasing was found online. Even before a broker search. In a lot of cases, the quality of your home photos is the deciding factor for a buyer on whether to search deeper. On listings with only one photo or even none, most buyers won’t even click on it for more. Keep these things in mind before you start your photoshoot.

Think Like a Buyer

Ask yourself what type of photos you would want to see in a home listing. Then create that type of listing. No one knows your house better than you. You know where all the great natural shots are, attractive angles and great lighting and that’s your advantage. Take the pictures that feature all the great features of your house. Take shots of every space including closets and bathrooms. Take at least two pictures from every room from opposite angles. Try to include one feature or peice of furniture in both to pictures to set a visual reference for each room. The more eye catching information you can provide to a buyer, the more complete their vision is of your home. Outdoor shots should not be limited to a full face shot of your home. Once again take overlapping shots to give buyers a vista of the property, gardens and driveway.

Shoot During the Ideal Time of the Day

Lighting is everything. You want to have clear bright photos without any glare or overexposure that can make the pictures unappealing. As the homeowner, you know the perfect time of day for each room in your house. Depending on the time of day and which direction each room faces in a home, there is an ideal time where each space looks their best. That’s when you’ll be able to catch the most appealing photos. Choose times early in the morning for rooms that get a lot of light. The photos will be clearer with the softer sunlight. Outdoor photos are best taken when the sun is behind you. It’s up to you what time of day is best for your homes property. Mid morning and early evening photos are a good idea so there is still quality light available and you can avoid large areas of shadow.

Clean Up & Staging

Not too many people want guests to see their house looking like a disaster. We almost always clean up before family or friends come over. Think of this part of your photoshoot preparation in the same way as you would if you were hosting a party. You want your home to look clean and attractive to buyers, so run the vacuum and dust the shelves. Your pictures will look great. It’s even a good idea to post some tasteful seasonal photos to show buyers your home decorated. When shooting your dining room/area think about setting the table. It doesn’t have to be fancy, casual is perfect. You want to stage your pictures with your homes best features in mind. Showcase a fireplace, patio or cool design feature to peak the buyers interest. No one wants to look at a messy kitchen,  a bunch of toys on the lawn or a laundry basket overflowing in a bedroom. Tidy up and your pictures will look much more professional.

Hire a Professional

It doesn’t matter what kinds of fancy cameras are out there, there’s just some folks who have no talent with a camera. If that’s you, think about hiring a professional home photographer to help you out. Hire a freelancer and walk them through what kinds of shots you are looking for. It’s a reasonable cost for the quality you will get, and you can guarantee that your online listing will look great and attract more attention.

5 Tips for Running a Startup from Your Home

Starting a new business out of your home is a financially-savvy decision in many cases. Approximately 69 percent of entrepreneurs make the decision to base their startup out of their home, and for good reason. When you run a new business out of your house, you can save a tremendous amount of money on overhead. With substantial technology now available to facilitate a work-at-home environment, many entrepreneurs are not hindered in any way by running operations out of their house.

In fact, many of the most successful companies known around the world today were started at home. Just a few of these include Apple, Google, Amazon and Hewlett-Packard. As smart as it may be for you to launch a business from home, there may be some challenges to overcome. These helpful tips will guide you on a surer path towards success with your new home-based business.

Establish an Organized Work Area

Even through you are launching a business from home, you still need to have a professional, dedicated space to conduct your work activities. This should be a space that is free from distractions and that will not co-mingle with living activities for you and other occupants in the home. One idea is to remodel a spare room and to transform it into a functional home office space. This space ideally will hold all of your business equipment and furnishings. For example, you may need a computer, a printer, a copier, a landline phone, a desk, a work table, seating for clients, storage space, shelves and more.

Remember to also focus on the environment. For example, lighting and temperature can affect your productivity level and your ability to concentrate. As you remodel your space to create a home office, remember to focus on these important elements.

Create a Realistic and Practical Work Schedule

One of the many benefits associated with starting a business from home and being your own boss is the ability to have a flexible schedule. With a flexible schedule, you may be able to enjoy a better quality of life and better manage a work-life balance. However, this type of schedule may also lead to the likelihood of wasting time throughout the day. For example, you may be inclined to sit down in front of the TV for a quick break, but that break could easily extend for an hour or longer unintentionally.

To avoid wasting your valuable work time and to maximize productivity, it makes sense to create a schedule for your workday. Select a firm starting time as well as a finishing time. You can give yourself small breaks during the day, but most of your personal activities should be tackled outside of your work hours. There are some excellent time management and project management applications and programs that you can use to schedule your time as well as to monitor your breaks and non-work activities.

Find Support

Some entrepreneurs try to handle every task associated with running and growing their business. This requires them to wear many hats and to try to be an expert in everything that they do. This essentially can pull your attention away from the tasks that you are truly good at and that require your personal attention. Some tasks may easily and successfully be outsourced to professionals. Because of their expertise, you may enjoy better results and be able to use your time more effectively in the process.

When you search for independent contractors or freelancers, look for individuals who have expertise in an area that you are weak at and who charge affordable rates for their services. An outsourcing relationship should ideally add value and help you to work more efficiently.

Connect with Others

It is easy to feel isolated and closed off when you work from home, but it can be detrimental to your efforts to seal yourself off. Reach out to other home-based business owners in different ways. These may be individuals in a related field that you may be able to work with professionally. It may be people in unrelated fields who you simply socialize with to get support as needed, get recommendations for service providers and more.

While there are online groups that you can join, try to find live support groups or networking groups as well. These could be professional groups and clubs, or the y could be informal groups that you pull together on your own and that grow over time. You can even use these groups to casually promote your products and services.

Choose Cost-Effective Marketing Strategies

Regardless of whether you run a home-based business or your base of operations is in a more professional environment, marketing is essential. However, you likely decided to launch your business from home at least partially to conserve funds. Understandably, you also want to conserve money on marketing without negatively affecting business profits and growth.

There are many cost-effective marketing options to consider, such as through social media, email marketing, cold calls, networking events in your local area and more. Remember to use your professional network to get the word out as well. You could spend a fortune on marketing, but a cost-effective campaign that is based on thoughtful, focused effort may have just as large of a return.

In Conclusion

When you run your own business out of your home, you have the flexibility and freedom to manage your activities in any way you desire. While there are no hard and fast rules regarding most aspects of your operations, you can see that these tips can help you to remain as productive as possible while also bolstering your chances for success. As you move forward, keep these tips in mind.