Leading Employees Through Interpersonal Conflict

Not everyone gets along all the time. This is especially true during times of high stress, which can turn minor differences of opinion into full-blown arguments and trigger all sorts of stress reactions.

High-stress situations and conflicts can also bring to the surface underlying biases and unpleasant reactions to women in positions of authority. Because of this, managing conflict can be a point of particular difficulty for women in the workplace, no matter how well trained and skilled they are as managers or HR professionals.

Managers need to be savvy and adjust the leadership style they employ, as well as carefully investigate the source of a conflict in order to diffuse issues. These are excellent best practices to employ anyway, but the stakes can be especially high for women, who may find more authoritative styles of leadership backfiring.

 

Digging to the Root of a Conflict

The good news is that the extra work women often need to put in to conflict resolution tends to lead to better management as a result.

Quickly and permanently resolving a conflict requires finding and addressing its cause. Otherwise the issue is likely to boil over again. There are different types of workplace conflicts, each with a different impetus. The solution to two people quarreling over differing social values will vary greatly from employees butting heads because they have too few resources for everyone to do their work effectively. Both of these are very different from conflict caused by policy violation or harassment.

The idea is simple: solve the specific problem that causes the conflict. If employees need more resources, but those resources can’t be allocated quickly, some creative solutions to how people work together might be needed. Someone may need to be assigned different tasks in the meantime, or there may be a broader cultural issue if certain people’s needs are routinely neglected. Finding other ways to keep employees motivated will help with stressful work environments.

When the cause of a conflict can be traced directly to the actions of an employee, things can become complicated quickly. Poor internal policing of harassment is a common problem in many industries, and if a harasser enjoys the protection of someone higher up on the food chain it can be extremely difficult to correct their behaviour or dislodge them.

 

Leadership Strategies for Conflict Resolution

Once you know what’s causing a conflict, you can apply the type of leadership that you feel will work best. There are a number of different leadership styles, each with pros and cons, and differing effects on different demographics and workplace cultures.

If a conflict arose due to differences in values or different interpretations of workplace culture, a more restorative and transformational type of leadership may be required. Sitting down with employees to work through their differences and seeking common ground can help them work together in the future. Issues like these may also indicate that company policy may need to be updated to be clearer about workplace goals, and re-affirm which types of conversations are not work appropriate.

If employees butt heads due to resource allocation, workload, or other stresses related to the work environment directly, then a more authoritative resolution could be disastrous for a manager of any gender. Employees may need to be reminded of appropriate conduct, but the structural issues putting stress on them in the first place need to be addressed.

Cases of harassment present a whole host of frustrations. Harassment can be difficult to prove, and firing someone without a strongly documented case against them can land a manager in legal nightmares, not to mention internal scrutiny. In many cases your hands might be tied to even make those decisions.

The two most important things about cases of harassment are documentation and supporting the victim. Accurate, dispassionate documentation is vital, especially if the behaviour dips into criminal territory and the police need to become involved. It also protects you and the company against legal action when disciplinary measures are taken.

You may need to invoke several different leadership styles to navigate the situation, to make victims feel safe, to convince other employees to tell you truthfully what they witnessed, and to handle the perpetrator of harassment according to the specific statutes, legal definitions, and workplace laws in your state.

 

Preventative Measures to Take Against Conflict

The earliest preventative measure against conflict is the hiring process. Every company has a unique working environment, policy, and culture. Hiring people only for the skills they possess might get work done, but could result in a volatile mix of differing work ethics, team dynamics, and people skills. Creating a workplace with little conflict starts from the very first hire. No workplace can be 100 percent issue free, but a candidate with the best resume but a bad attitude can cause a lot more damage than someone with less experience and an eagerness to cooperate. That’s why many companies choose to look for evidence soft skills, leadership ability and even teamwork on applications.

A robust onboarding and training process, even for experienced hires, is also a big part of helping people adjust to the ins and outs of their new environment. Assigning new hires to mentors — peers who can help them adjust and answer lighter questions — is another great way to ensure that employees come to understand the social dynamics of the workplace quickly.

Having enough employees to complete the work, paying enough, providing workplace resources and having policies that promote work-life balance are all also preventative conflict resolution. People who are happy coming to work are less likely to lash out.

There’s no catch-all answer to conflict, but many of the things you do every day to make your workplace better are also conflict-prevention strategies. Being proactive about employee satisfaction and mental health can go a long way to preventing problems in the first place. When resolution is needed, a little investigation and a firm but fair hand can keep the work environment pleasant for everyone.

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Incentive Dos and Don’ts for Your Company

Company incentive programs are intended to keep employees motivated and engage them in their own performance. However, if they are not executed carefully, the reward system can result in jealousy among staff and decreased performance.

When planning incentives for your work staff, you need to consider a myriad of factors to avoid workers ignoring safety or other corporate rules to reach unreasonable sales or performance goals. The goals should be challenging but attainable with the reward gratifying.

To maintain fairness and equity with your incentive program, set up key performance indicators (KPIs) to evaluate employee’s progress and valuation adequately. These metrics will help you drive the success of your program but also company milestones. Consult this list of dos and don’ts when incentivizing your staff.

Incentive Dos

The first thing to do is to know your audience. If your staff is replete with millennials, they may appreciate vintage 90s swag rather than cash rewards or extra money in their 401k. If your workforce is young, hip and the company based near water, consider giving water sports gear or ski jet rentals as incentives. Make incentivizing fun for your whole organization.

Do remember to inform all employees about the rewards program. Make sure you stick to a regular schedule and operate with fairness and equality when doling out incentives. Ensure your incentives are goal-oriented and measurable. Involve your employees in choosing rewards that are meaningful to them. Consider their input when devising the program; they may have great ideas for performance indicators and goals as well.

Make rewards frequent enough to keep everyone motivated. Instead of just an annual bonus, build in daily, weekly and monthly incentives as well. Structure the program so that you can give many small incentives with more substantial rewards less often. For example, when the team reaches a sales goal, hand out company sweatshirts, mugs or other logo-decorated swag and when a particular employee is chosen for his or her annual contribution, perhaps a cash bonus makes sense.

Base rewards on peer input and not just management-focused goals. Letting your team pick the best of the group helps to build respect and teamwork within your organization. Recognition from peers is sometimes even more rewarding than from top level management. Plus, your employees know each other much better than managers do and might be aware of performance improvements that you may not know of.  

Incentive Don’ts

First, don’t forget about the budget. When you build incentives into your company culture, factor in the cost of living and staff growth and make sure you can easily afford it. Don’t make the goals so easy that everyone achieves them, and you have to pay out, leaving nothing for the future.

Don’t offer “one size fits all” rewards — have options. Some employees might like swag and others might like an Amazon gift card instead. Variety can also ensure you are motivating your whole team, not just a select few. Don’t forget that you want your staff to work as a team so don’t create a rewards program that has everyone out for themselves. Team goals are good too, then the whole team wins the reward.

Don’t give inappropriate or unsafe items like e-cigarettes that are dangerous to your health and promotes a bad habit. Don’t set up programs based on one person’s opinion, such as an “employee of the month” where a manager chooses. Instead, use KPIs to evaluate all employees equally and know precisely what you are rewarding.

Don’t ignore your best people, be sure to incentivize them properly when they reach their goals. If everyone gets the same bonus and your top performers have been working harder than most, they will see it as an insult and feel unappreciated. This one misstep can cost you great employee assets, and it will actually hurt motivation in the long run.

Final Thoughts on Incentive Programs

You should reevaluate your incentive program each year. As the business grows, KPIs and other goals will change too, and the program should change to reflect this growth. Be careful not to use incentives in place of a proper salary.

The key to a successful incentive system is communication. Make sure all levels of management understand the program thoroughly and then have them communicate it to the rest of the staff working for them. Clearly spell out the expectations of the plan before implementing it. If no one understand the program, they won’t use it.

During the planning stages, it is important to discuss as a company what your purpose is for incentivizing your workforce. Once you know your own goals, it will be easier to devise milestones and rewards that are meaningful. Have a strategic plan rather than a vague notion of why it makes sense. Your incentive program should motivate and encourage your workers to strive to do their best.

The Future of the Workforce: What You Should Know About Generation Z

Generation Z has arrived and there is reason to believe they will shake things up as they bring new priorities and expectations to the workplace. Forbes defines this group as people born from 1997 and later. As an employer, you are tasked with the responsibility of adapting to the differences between the millennials and z’ers. While these two groups of young workers share an obvious appreciation and aptitude for state-of-the-art technology, there are also many important differences worth recognizing if you expect to recruit the cream of the crop.

Job Stability Takes Center Stage

While job stability is likely to rank high on a lot of employees’ list of priorities when considering career opportunities, generation z’ers are laser focused on job stability. When you consider that they witnessed how their family was affected by the Great Recession that began in 2008, it is no surprise that these young adults place a high value on job stability. In sharp contrast to millennials who were known as job hoppers, this newest group seeks out stable jobs in high-growth industries like health-care and technology.

Preference for Entrepreneurial Opportunities

Anne Loehr published findings from Millennial Branding, reporting that 61 percent of generation z high school students said they prefer pursuing business ownership as an entrepreneur instead of working as an employee. This information will shape recruiting efforts and definitely influence the future of the workplace. If you want to be successful working in HR, you must understand why the entrepreneurial lifestyle is attractive to gen z’ers. Only then, can you effectively incorporate the benefits of business ownership into career opportunities.

Lower Percentage of College Graduates

Predecessors owing tens of thousands of dollars in student debt have impacted how this generation views formal education. Gen z’ers are less likely to go to college. This shift in attitudes about the necessity of a college education is sure to dramatically impact your recruiting activities in a business climate where there is a shortage of quality candidates.

Generation Z Employees Question Technology and Its Impact

This self-aware group has heard the reports about how “being connected” 24/7 can compromise interpersonal skills and relationships. Digital HR Tech reports that this generation is concerned about not having important people skills. The idea of detoxing from electronics has become a subject of conversation as more generation Z technology addicts try to take control of what they consider to be a threat to their quality of life and success.

The YouTube Generation Likes Videos

One obvious way that you can compete for the hearts and souls of this new generation is through the use of video. You should create recruiting and training materials in the form of videos to cater to an audience who has spent their entire life taking selfies and watching videos with a smartphone. Growing up with video makes for an impatient audience that is more likely to respond to this format than to text ads.

Flexible Work Schedules

There may be some truth to this generation’s inability to relate well with others when you consider that these loners like to work independently. Since this generation embraces technology and has used it all of their life, they resist the idea of a 9-to-5 schedule. It simply does not make sense to them when they realize they can reach out and communicate easily without the inconvenience of fighting traffic to arbitrarily show up physically.

Diversity in the Workplace Is a Must

Generation Z is a diverse group of workers with fewer “white straight males” than ever before. The majority of this workforce does not tolerate anything less than acceptance of everyone without concern for different races, sexual identities and genders. There is no denying that this group is socially progressive and expects no less than this attitude to be embraced by your company’s leadership.

Expectations for Socially Responsible Company Management

Much like millennials, gen z’ers want to work for a company that acts socially responsible. Companies that are perceived to behave badly as it relates to poisoning the planet, discriminating against workers or cheating employees financially will not be able to recruit the best and the brightest of this new crop of new workers.

Final Word

Each new generation brings its own set of expectations and demands. Savvy business leaders recognize the need to recruit top employees so they can effectively compete. While generation z shares many of the same ideals and expectations as millennials, there are distinct differences that you must consider if you want your company to be positioned to attract top talent. Progressive corporate leadership who uses the latest technology and is socially responsible will lead the way in the near future.

3 Performance metrics that can shift your company’s direction

 

 

Want to find out how your business is performing? Setting and analyzing performance indicators for your company is the best way to forecast and get on track with your business goals. Creating KPIs or Key Performance Indicators will help you measure your company’s success. While choosing the right KPIs relies upon a good understanding of what is important to the organization, The question is what to focus on?

Performance measurement is not just related to collecting data associated with a predefined performance objective or standard. It has to be considered as an overall management system involving prevention and detection in order to meet clients expectations of the service or product you’re offering. Many companies have different methods regarding performance measurement, so how you measure performance says a lot about your company’s objectives.

Common Types of Indicators

 

There are two common types of performance indicators: financial and customer focused. 

Financial indicators are the most commonly used metrics for performance including: revenue growth rate, net profit, return on investment, among others. In terms of employee performance these are often quantified using output related measurements. These can be useful for growing your company’s finances but companies that focus solely on profit related indicators often face an innovation problem.

A focus on financial goals can put pressure on managers to focus on short term profitability over creativity. Financial indicators also don’t provide a full picture of a company’s performance. Rather than taking risks on new ideas, these companies can become known for creating ‘one hit wonders’ that sell and repackaging past successes. Eventually, quality and customer satisfaction can become compromised and employee motivation drops.

Microsoft learned this lesson at the expense of its top spot in the tech world. Originally a leader in cutting edge technology, after 2000 it began slipping in the rankings against companies like Google and Apple with its inability to keep up with new trends. As these companies began producing paradigm shifting products like the iPhone and Google Maps, Microsoft continued to survive off of its updated versions of Windows Office. Financial indicators demonstrated the company’s shift in popularity but not the contributing factors.

Internally, Microsoft had taken a cut throat approach to performance management called stack ranking. In this system employees were ranked according to their performance, with the top being put in line for promotions and the bottom 5-10% being shown the door. Rather than boosting productivity, this system merely increased competition and discouraged teamwork. Ultimately, instead of being encouraged to collaborate on new ideas, employees had to focus on gaining favor to survive.

Customer success indicators are increasingly seen as the most important performance metric. Some of the main customer centered KPIs include: conversion rate, customer retention, Net Promoter Score (NPS), etc. Due to differing objectives, companies that focus on customer centered indicators focus more on gaining a loyal customer base by producing great quality products, utilizing different marketing techniques and emphasizing a strong customer support service.

An example of this is Riot Games’ ‘Free To Play’ games which helped them to gain a loyal customer base by allowing gamers to play some of their best games for free online. Zappos’ customer service is famous for providing unsatisfied customers with gifts and free shoes to improve their customer experience. Creating a customer service culture is an essential part of their business strategy and the focus of CEO Tony Hsieh’s book Delivering Happiness.  

However, for companies that don’t take off straight away, the money and time put into each product can lead to slower profit generation and financial instability. Furthermore, while customer satisfaction is an extremely important key to success, what customers ultimately want are state-of-the-art products. Though customer focused indicators can help you build a loyal client base, they do not necessarily solve a company’s innovation problems.  

Companies should use a combination of both financial and customer focused indicators but there is a third key measurement which is essential to meeting your company’s goals.

Why people-centered indicators are so important

More and more companies are beginning to realize the importance of employee centered metrics. These types of indicators include: employee engagement, satisfaction and turnover.

Studies show that higher employee engagement is linked to higher customer satisfaction. When employees are happy at work and believe in their product/company this comes across to customers. Gallup revealed that companies with high employee engagement levels outperformed companies with lower levels of engagement in customer ratings by 10%.

Engaged employees take less sick days. A study by Workplace Research Foundation found that engaged employees take an average of 2.69 sick days annually compared to disengaged employees who take an average of 6.19 days. Most important, they’re motivated to achieve more. Gallup’s study also showed that engaged companies outperform others in productivity by 21% and profitability by 22%.

In fact, the treatment of employees is also an important factor for consumers. Deloitte’s 2015 study on millennials revealed that this generation considers the treatment of employees as the top characteristic of industry leaders, even over profit generation and impact on overall society. Furthermore, “While they believe the pursuit of profit is important, that pursuit needs to be accompanied by a sense of purpose, by efforts to create innovative products or services and, above all, by consideration of individuals as employees and members of society.”

Companies that have employee centered strategies are also more likely to foster innovative environments that promote autonomy and employee ownership. Atlassian became famous for its ‘Shipit’ days during which it actually encourages employees to drop their work and spend twenty-four hours on a creative project of their choice. Allowing employees the freedom to try out new ideas sounds like a great financial risk but it turned out to have great returns. The projects developed during these sessions have resulted in some of the company’s most profit generating products. Atlassian not only dominates Australia’s tech industry, it has also been named the best company to work for the past two years in a row.

More and more companies have started focusing on an employee first strategy:

In an interview with Inc. Virgin Atlantic CEO Richard Branson disclosed that the company puts staff first, customers second and stakeholders third. He explains, “If the person who works at your company is not appreciated, they are not going to do things with a smile.” Southwest Airlines, the company consistently reaching the top 10 in employee and customer satisfaction surveys, follows the same ideology. The company does this by motivating employees through its company values and creating an environment that regularly recognizes employees for going above and beyond.

Southwest Airlines follows the same strategy. Founder Herb Kelleher posited, “A motivated employee treats the customer well. A customer is happy so they’ll keep coming back, which pleases the shareholder. It’s just the way it works… They can buy all the physical things. The things you can’t buy are dedication, devotion, loyalty—the feeling that you are participating in a crusade.”

 

The Importance of Targeted SEO to Your Company’s Visibility (& Linkability)

SEO has often been viewed by businesses as an ethereal, mysterious thing that a company does for you, and with a sprinkle of magic marketing dust, you are ranking number one on Google for the right keywords and your niche. However, good SEO has been made up of a number of the same things for several years:

  • Good Web Design: While this goalpost has moved over the years, from optimized for desktop to optimized for mobile, from high-resolution video and photos to speed of loading, a modern web design that is responsive and provides a good user experience is essential.
  • Good Content: A website must have good content, from product pages and descriptions to landing pages and blogs, content needs to be informative, well written, and user-friendly.
  • Backlinks: These can be paid, earned, and social. Google expects businesses to pay for ads, earn links from reputable sites, and appear on social media. Link exchanges and guest posting is one of the best ways to earn backlinks. While the search engine still claims social links and shares do not affect ranking, they certainly can have an effect on organic traffic, and there is some debate about when they might become a legitimate factor.  

There is a bit more to it than that. The smarter Google becomes, the more it looks at websites like a human user does. Artificial intelligence and machine learning mean that user experience and relevance will continue to mean more than they ever have. This means SEO work needs to be targeted, implemented with a deliberate strategy, and treated as a continuous process.

Here are some reasons targeted SEO is important to your company’s visibility and linkability:

The Need for Linkable Content

As mentioned above, there are multiple kinds of backlinks. They are paid, earned, and social. The number of paid links your site has can be absolutely controlled by your ad spend. However, earned links can be partially controlled and deliberately built, and social links can be encouraged but only minimally controlled by you.

What is the key to earned and social links? Your content. It also determines how effective any paid links you have to your site are. Simply put, you need linkable content. Category or service pages, product descriptions, and thin blog posts are not link-worthy pages. Years of experience have taught link building companies what linkable content really is.

Fortunately, in November of 2015, everyone got a look at the Google Search Evaluator guidelines at the time. They confirmed much of what we had already learned. Google and users look for a few key things in your content, and Google uses those things to help determine your page rank. It is known as the E.A.T. principle:

  • Expertise: Not only does Google look at your company, but at the author of the content to determine expertise.
  • Authority: This is in the part where links come in. Outbound links to authoritative content establish you as an authoritative source, as do inbound links to the content itself.
  • Trustworthiness: This is also determined by organic, authoritative links to your content and the accuracy of what you have written.

Not only does content need to meet the E.A.T. principle, but it should also be informative and well written. Remember: Content is also a part of user experience, and thin content produces high bounce rates, sending users looking for the information they need elsewhere. It certainly means they will not link to it on their own website or share it on their social media profiles.

What makes content linkable is how informative it is, the clarity of the writing, and how well it is optimized for both search engines and real people. Without content that is worth linking to, it is difficult to either build or earn links.

Researching Relevancy

How do you know if your content is reaching the right searchers at the right time? Fortunately, this is easier to figure out than it ever has been — and yet more challenging as well. There is more data out there about users and their behavior on the internet than at any other time in history, and nearly any business can access this data through some simple analytics tools.

This means not only do we know what our potential customers are interested in, we know how they interact with the internet. Beyond just demographic analytics, we have access to behavioral analytics which are much more powerful.

All this data not only tells us what our ideal customers are searching for but how they are doing it. This can be taken from the general fact that over 60 percent of Google searches are done on mobile devices, and more people than ever are completing purchases on portable devices as well. You can also determine what devices your customers search on most frequently, whether they are iOS users or Android fans, and how much time they spend reading a blog post, and even how many searches they perform for a product or service before they make a purchase.

What this allows you to do is to target your content more specifically, and even create different content that will appeal to different sets of buyers. Relevant content is much more linkable, whether you are earning those links organically, want your users to share it on social media, or are engaged in a link building campaign targeting specific keywords.

Creating a Strategy

Now that you know why linkable content is necessary and you have established what is relevant to your potential customers, you need to create a targeted content strategy. Why? It’s simple: Without targets and specific goals, how will you know if your linkable content is working?

So what is a content strategy? It is deliberately creating content to support your efforts to rank for a specific keyword or set of keywords, and building and working to earn links to that content. This usually involves several pieces of content of varying lengths and types, internal linking, good onsite technical SEO, and content that is well written and informative.

A good SEO company will not only help you with your onsite technical SEO and link building but can also help you with your content strategy and creating linkable content. This entire process, which you should thoroughly understand, takes a lot of time, and unless you have a capable team in your marketing department, the time and money an outsourced expert will save you is more than worthwhile.

Filling in the Content Gaps

So now you understand the need for linkable content, you have done your research and know what is relevant, and you have a content strategy. Now it is time to fill in the content gaps on your website. Whether you have a robust blog filled with content or are just starting out, once you establish your content strategy, you’re going to find that you have content gaps.

What is a content gap? They are areas where you are missing content that is essential to your content strategy. It is essential that you fill these gaps in order to satisfy not only Google but your potential customers. You need the linkable content in order for targeted SEO to be effective.

Want to rank higher in Google for critical searches in your niche? Want your business to be more visible to searchers? It’s all about relevant content that is part of a content strategy, linkable content, and then building links to that content. Those are all a part of targeted SEO, the key to your company’s visibility and linkability.

Security Measures To Employ On Your Company Property

Disasters and accidents happen. It’s an inevitable part of both life and of doing business. That’s why you should think of any financing of safety measures as an investment. An investment in the future, that will save you a great deal of grief and anger once and if tragedy does strike. Some of these can be introduced once you actually have your business set up, while some are only effective If you take them into consideration before you even open your enterprise.

We understand that this can be costly, but what costs even more, is damage control once you get robbed or once your assets get damaged. And while natural disasters and the malice of other people can’t really be controlled, you should do everything you can to minimize their effects over you. Below are some tips that you may find useful to keep your business safe.

The location

 

The first thing you should do is think about where you want to open your business in the first place. Of course, you need to take into account your budget and means, as well as any local competitors. So, if you can, try to avoid opening your company in a high-crime area. However, this can be more a matter of budgeting. For example, let’s say you want to open a company in Melbourne. You need to decide whether you want to buy quality automatic gates in Australia, and move into a seedy neighborhood, or pay a higher rate and forgo the gates (or whichever security system you choose). It’s essentially a balancing act.

An interesting thing to point out is that high-crime areas, while dangerous, tend to lack many businesses. So you may end up with very weak and soft competition.

What to get

 

Next, what equipment do you need. There are lots of items people get, but the most useful are usually steel security doors, alarm systems, and folding gates. Doors are pretty obvious, but gates and alarms still require a bit more deliberation. Folding gates are metal sheets that cover their storefront. However, these can be an eyesore, even in poorer areas.

Alarm systems are always a good idea, but they can be expensive. Cameras are an excellent choice for any retail, sales business. In fact, they should pretty much be mandatory. However, for office-based businesses, it’s enough to get a camera for each entrance, just in case.

Bullet-proof glass and safes should be set up in very high-risk areas, for business that have very valuable equipment. Furthermore, getting gates, fences, and other protection around the company yard will help ward off any would-be robbers. Hiring a security guard is even better.

Measures to implement

 

It’s not enough to just throw money at the problem, you also need to rethink the way you do things. First, think about all your electronic gadgets. These are very easy and popular targets, because of the ease and price at which you can sell them. Be sure that they are locked away safely. Never leave them unattended. The same goes for handbags and wallets.

Furthermore, promote security measures. If you have cameras or guard dogs, place signs everywhere to let would-be burglars know. This will make them think twice about infiltrating your place. Furthermore, let your staff know this as well. Promote security and safety-mindfulness.

 

Employee focus

 

Besides making your people be aware of all the safety measures you implement, you should also train them accordingly. Now, this is different from business to business, but they should essentially be trained in how to report and record malicious activity, how to follow security procedures (like locking and setting up the safety protocols), and how to deal with any aggressive individuals.

If you can, set up and promote safety training courses. Get an authorized individual safety coordinator to help you out. Here they can teach them how to handle an aggressive individual that may enter the place of work. It will also teach them how to safely handle money, how to stay safe when walking to their cars at night from work, as well as how to handle themselves.

Finally, you should teach them how to handle sensitive information. This is especially important for the IT sector. Essentially, cyber security measures, tricks and tips.

 

Conclusion

 

Getting robbed can be devastating and damaging, both for your finances and for morale. That’s why you should invest properly in setting up your office’s security system. We’re not talking about only an alarm system, but also getting the right gear, blinders, fences, gates. Furthermore, you should train your people accordingly. They should know what to do in case of danger, and how to handle sensitive information. If you follow these rules properly, you will definitely minimize any risk of damage or thievery.

Strategies for Greater Retention Rates for HR Managers

For an HR manager, the costs of creating and maintaining a staff can be plagued by employee turnover and disengagement. For most companies, revolving doors are a destructive force for financial growth, considering the cost to replace an employee is roughly 50% of that employee’s annual salary. An effective HR department, therefore, needs to hire appropriately, work to engage employees in the success of the business and constantly monitor observable measurements to ensure that they are on track.

So how does an efficient HR department gauge their progress and ensure best practices for employee retention? How do companies evolve past the everyday, worn-out methods of keeping employees engaged and make the work environment a place where employees can truly thrive?

Hiring Process

The trickiest part of the hiring process is ensuring that HR brings on the right person for the role to not only fill in missing personnel, but foster growth. The person needs to fit the values, short and long term goals of the company. A mismatch of skills, values, and commitment can create loss for a company. For hiring members of HR, there is a host of resources out there for hiring managers who want to maximize their hiring potential and run their small business like a larger corporation.

Primarily, hiring managers need to think about the kind of skills they need to bring into the company as opposed to simply filling a slot or replacing someone who has moved on. Is the company facing challenges? What skills would be the best counter to those challenges? A potential area of growth? It’s easy to fall back into patterns of hiring to replace, but hiring to grow benefits the company far more.

Observable Metrics

A handful of easily observable paper metrics can give HR departments an idea of how engaged and happy their employees are. Turnover is one of the most obvious metrics. If a company is perpetually bleeding employees, there is something seriously wrong. Likewise, the average length of employment can help indicate employee engagement. If most employees leave within a year, or conversely, stay for many years, these are indicators of the company’s ability to engage. The amount of sick or personal days taken can indicate an employee’s level of involvement in their job as well. Finally, the revenue per employee can help companies determine how engaged employees are on the clock.

Observable metrics are just the beginning of the story. An employee can love and be dedicated to their work, but also have a sick family member that leads to absences. When an observable metric indicates disengagement, look past the numbers into the human element. Is there a solution that would allow the employee to contribute in the way they’d like while acknowledging the issue? Would working from home allow them to care for the relative while hitting goals?

Greater Employee Engagement

Once the right employee is hired, the key to maintaining that employee’s performance and commitment is growing their engagement in the company. The best tool for engagement is communication. It’s important for management to keep lines of communication between themselves and their team open. Fostering trust and making employees feel heard helps them feel important, both to the company and as people. That level of emotional engagement is invaluable.

Help employees understand their role in the company — how their efforts aid the company’s success, and how the company’s success affects them. The ability to draw a direct line between cause and effect, both for the company and the employee, creates real stakes that encourages a better work ethic.

Goal Creation and Attainment

Realistic, attainable goals encourage greater engagement and growth of abilities, output and capability. Achieving goals can be rewarding in themselves; they can also be steps for future growth within the company. Goals should be appropriate for the company and for the employee — they should be a marriage of the interests of both parties. Is this something the employee is passionate about and finds rewarding? Is this an area of interest that benefits the company? Do they have the skills to achieve this goal, in a way that benefits the company?

For the employees, goals can include growth of current abilities, or the push to finish a project. Potential rewards for employees can include extra benefits, like a day off, the chance for a promotion (or more eligible to promotion), or a treat of some kind, like free lunch. Whenever a company uses a reward as an incentive for achieving goals, they should be clearly communicated and legitimately achievable. Carrot-and-sticking rewards like promotions is a dishonest method, and will ultimately lead to decreased morale.

Avoid Demotivation Pitfalls

Demotivation can come from many fronts. Lack of communication and transparency between management and employees creates a vacuum of information — one that is bound to be filled with speculation and guesswork. In a workplace without healthy feedback and communication, that guesswork can be powered by anxiety and untruths, which barely benefit anyone. Recognize employees, listen to their feedback.

Make sure the employee who puts her all into her job is recognized and rewarded fairly. Don’t feel the need to treat everyone the same. Follow through on commitments and promises. Show employees why certain team members are celebrated, and help the others find ways to be celebrated as well.

The bottom line is this: HR might be about acquiring and maintaining people as a resource, much like paper or computers, but remember that you and your crew are not robots. Metrics are useful, and numbers don’t lie, but everyone involved is a human. They have human feelings and human motivations, which don’t often conform to spreadsheet analytics. Address the human side of the equation to balance the metrics, and make the most of your skills as a leader to address real, human concerns to foster greater employee retention and engagement.

The Truth About AIs Impact on Jobs

By Allan Leinwand, CTO, ServiceNow                  

According to a recent report from PwC, AI is expected to raise the global GDP, in 2030, by 14% (approximately US$15.7 trillion). That being said, AI is seen by many as being either a hero or a villain. On one hand, AI is currently driving nearly every CIO’s agenda because it intelligently automates work processes, making it possible to do things that have never been done before. But on the other, many workers are scared of the rise of AI as they believe it is rising from humble beginnings to become a villain that will steal their jobs.

The truth is that some jobs will be lost, but many more will be created. It is important to understand that fundamentally, AI is not strong at creative, interpersonal or physical work. It will be used for “decision support, not decision making.” So lets debunk a few myths.

Reduce and Simplify

As workers, we want to use automation to get our jobs done. AI will free us from having to spend long hours analyzing data and invest that time in achieving a better work-life balance.

Information technology, manufacturing, financial services and human resources will all see significant improvement and productivity gains because of AI. These industries have many repetitive tasks that can be easily automated, helping workers become more productive. For example, AI can streamline the onboarding process of a new employee. It can alert HR when background checks are completed, and aid them with the creation of benefits packages and employment contracts. It can help IT order and provision new equipment. Similarly, it can help the employee complete and send tax forms and direct deposit information to finance.

The Mundane

Workers want to move to more meaningful roles. In fact, according to the Society of Human Resource Professionals, workers, particularly Millennials, want to “create outcomes within meaningful projects and may become impatient with mundane tasks.” AI can automate the more mundane tasks allowing for new jobs to be created that are more fulfilling, strategic and meaningful. AI can help workers be more productive and efficient at their jobs, while learning new skills. In addition, AI can help workers become better organized, reducing stressors, improving productivity and overall job satisfaction.

Financial compliance is a great example of this. Until recently, the creation of expense reports and review of submitted expenses was a very manual, mundane process requiring hours and hours of review. In the cases of expense report review, only a sample of expense reports could be reviewed in order to hopefully identify some patterns of fraud in submissions. Now, not only can AI generate the invoices, but it can sort through the hundreds of expense reports, invoices and other transactions and  identify potential areas of fraud, waste and mistakes by employees, vendors and others for humans to further investigate, saving their companies billions of dollars each year.

Customer Satisfaction

The idea behind AI is to create more satisfied customers. Because workers can focus more on the interpersonal and creative parts of their jobs rather than the more mundane, they will treat customers better. In customer support cases, this will be done by employing AI to identify and provide a solution for the issue and utilizing a human who can react to nuances for interpersonal communications. Customers will develop loyalty because their needs are met and issues are resolved quicker, more efficiently and with a personal touch.

Let me give you an example. Years ago, many companies implemented phone trees to help route support calls more efficiently. All of us have been frustrated to get to the end of the menu realizing that we must press “star” in order to go back to the previous menu in order to talk to the right person. While this is automated support, it didn’t employ a combination of people and AI to do so. Rather than having to press the right button to move forward, imagine answering a few questions at the beginning of the call describing what the issue is or what you want to accomplish, and immediately being routed to the correct person (yes, person) who will help you or to the right menu telling you store hours. This will speed up support, improve loyalty and create better satisfaction for customers.

Convenience

One of the biggest benefits of AI is the convenience to customers. AI allows nearly every aspect of business to occur faster, from identifying and fixing support issues so that workers don’t have to drive into the office on weekends to fix a server, to providing more accessibility to information, services and more.

As an example, there seem to be ATMs on nearly every corner in most major cities and more bank branch locations than ever before. However, bank teller jobs have not been eliminated because of the rise of ATM machines. Yes, there may be less tellers in general, but their jobs are more valuable to customers and their employers. When one walks into a branch at a bank, there are dozens of workers providing better value-added services with shorter lines helping customers to be more satisfied with the convenient service provided. More than likely the work these employees do have higher margins, enabling them to make more money for both themselves and their local branches.


Allan Leinwand - CTO - ServiceNow
Allan Leinwand, Chief Technology Officer, ServiceNow

In summary, while AI might result in loss of certain jobs, it is more likely that the amount of work each worker will need to complete will be reduced and simplified rather than eliminated. Employees will feel more satisfaction in what they do because they can focus less on the mundane and more on the strategic. Customer satisfaction will increase because customers will have more human interactions, faster, with people who know how to resolve issues they have. In addition, customers will have more convenience than ever before.

 

5 Winning Ways to Successful Key Account Management

account manager

Key Account Management (KAM) was rooted in the concept of soft-selling and is widely recognized in various fields such as banking, health and industrial domains as mutually beneficial to both companies and their clients.

Through Key Account Management, clients achieve their goals through collaboration and support provided by the company in charge and in return, these companies increase their revenues and maintain a strong and lasting relationship with their major clients, keeping them ahead of the competition. In short, it provides communal growth through partnership, therefore making it critical for every company to make their key account management strategies effective and enhance it if needed.

Unfortunately, some companies still end up wasting their key account management training investments due to unfamiliarity with the best practices. Having that said, here are the key takeaways of the infographic from Healthy Business Builder which details five winning ways to successful key account management:

  1. Select the right account!
  2. Find the best person!
  3. Insist on the very best and relevant key account management program
  4. Your account manager must be highly skilled!
  5. Patience, and the right positive attitude!

To learn more about the winning ways to successful key account management, check out the infographic below:

5 Winning Ways to Successful Key Account Management-01

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.