How to Build a Positive and Healthy Company Culture

If you think back to the different companies you’ve worked at over the years, each likely left a different impression on you. This is because every company has a different company culture consisting of different of unique values, ways of operating, and management style.

Company culture matters because it not only helps create a unified workforce, it can also be a key to success. In fact, Deloitte’s core beliefs and culture survey discovered 94% of executives and 88% of employees agreed that distinct workplace culture is imperative to run a business successfully. The survey also found a correlation between those who described themselves as being happy at work and their company having a distinct culture.

Positive company culture can lead to more engaged employees who are fully-present and passionate about the work they do. After all, ultimately, employees want to have a positive experience when working at an organization — and it’s your job as a leader to provide that. HR plays a significant role in creating an office culture as it begins with hiring candidates whose beliefs and values fit into that culture. As Jessica Herrin, founder Stella & Dot states; “shaping your culture is more than half done when you hire your team.” On that note, here are ways you can build a positive and healthy company culture.

What is Company Culture?

When you think of company culture, what first comes to mind? Perhaps it’s a state of the art gym and having access to unlimited snacks, or maybe it’s the daily flexibility and laid-back atmosphere. While these can be elements of company culture, there is so much more to it.

Edgar Schein, author and former MIT professor defines company culture this way: “Culture is the deeper level of basic assumptions and beliefs that are shared by members of an organization, that operate unconsciously and define in a basic ‘taken for granted’ fashion an organization’s view of its self and its environment.”

In essence, company culture is about deciding what your values and beliefs as a company are and ensuring you have a team of people ready to live by them. Harvard Business Review concludes that there are six components of great corporate culture, which include:

  1. Vision
  2. Values
  3. Practices
  4. People
  5. Narrative
  6. Place

When all of these elements are fused together, you should have a differentiated culture, improved performance, and a lasting organization. But how do you go about creating a company culture that supports the fulfillment of your overall mission and business objectives?

Hire the Right Team

Your staff are the people that will embody and create the company culture, so they’re a good place to start if you want to improve it. It is imperative that you hire new employees based on cultural fit as they will create your company culture.

A job interview is a good way to help you hire for culture fit, but you have to go beyond the information you find on their resume. Ask questions that will give you a sense of their values such as what motivates them to do their best work, or whether or not they’re still friends with old colleagues. Behavioral assessments are another good way to see how they approached work situations in the past and if they’ll fit well with your team.

Once you hire the right people, you also have to familiarize them with the new culture. Shoe and clothing retailer Zappos did this by creating The Culture Book, which consisted of employees’ definitions of company culture. This is a single example of how you can get new recruits to understand your company, what you value, and how to function within the confines of these beliefs daily.

Prioritize Job Satisfaction

Satisfied employees are likely to be happier, better engaged, and more productive. For this reason, if you want a positive company culture, you need to ensure your employees are satisfied. Monster composed a list of top ten companies based on worker satisfaction, and one member of this list includes a holding company run by Warren Buffet. Just a few of the reasons his company made it there are reportedly because of the fun atmosphere, great leadership, diversity, and flexibility.

To achieve employee satisfaction, you need to find out what their needs are and how you can help them create a balance between work and their personal lives. Know that it also doesn’t have to be a guessing game as you can get feedback directly from your staff to enhance their employee experience. For example, if you receive feedback that there isn’t enough opportunity for growth and development, you could put training programs in place. If not, your most valued employees could choose to resign in favor of another company where they see themselves growing. Seeing as turnover causes employers hundreds of thousands every year, it’s a cost worth avoiding.

Next, acknowledging employees for the contributions they make to your organization is important. Research by Gallup found one of the main reasons an employee leaves a job is because they don’t feel appreciated. Recognize yours in a way that’s meaningful to them, such as by verbally praising them or sending out an email. For those that like to be recognized with rewards, you could offer employee stock options or another form of physical of financial incentive. It’s a way of rewarding them for helping the business meet their objectives which can have good returns in terms of productivity.

You can learn more lessons about company culture from successful organizations like Apple, Virgin, and Airbnb. Two key lessons incude the golden rule — essentially, focusing on how essential it is to treat your staff how you want to be treated. Doing so not only ensures your employees are happy, but it’s also a way to preserve the reputation of your company.

Lead by Example

When it comes to company culture, it’s critical that you lead by example. Good leaders should be able and always willing to listen and show empathy, as these are integral components of a healthy business setting. Being empathetic towards employees sends a message that their feelings matter and they are seen as well as heard. This, in turn, can help you develop a staunchly loyal and more connected workforce. Additionally, you’re teaching them how to behave and treat others within your company. When you see others embodying positive company culture, champion and encourage them.

Building a positive and healthy company culture isn’t a single day’s work. It requires the upholding of core values and consistency, and at other times, it requires tearing down values or old traditions that don’t resemble the company culture you’re aiming to build for the sake of integrity. At the end of the day, positive company culture is an impetus behind a thriving business.

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The Challenges of Self-Employment

Self-employment is becoming more popular than ever. Freelancing currently makes up about 35% of workers in the U.S. Additionally, more than 7 out of 10 small business owners say they’d rather focus on growing their business than going back to a traditional form of employment.

But, just because self-employment is popular, it doesn’t mean it’s easy. In fact, it can be quite scary to branch off on your own to follow your dream or build off of an existing business. The responsibilities solely fall on your shoulder, and if you can’t make it work, you risk not being able to pay the bills.

If you’re tempted to dive into the world of self-employment, there are plenty of benefits. You get to be your own boss, set flexible hours, decide exactly how you want your business to be run, and you don’t have to answer to anyone else. It’s great for people who are tired of their traditional job, people with unique skills, or those who want to try something new. For example, self-employment is often a great option for new moms or stay-at-home parents.

But, there are also challenges you’ll undoubtedly have to face. The more aware you are of those challenges ahead of time, the easier it will be to face them and overcome them.

Paying Yourself What You’re Worth

When you’re just starting out with self-employment, one of the biggest challenges you’ll face is knowing how much to charge people for your services. You can create your own policies that can help to determine your costs, and use a time card calculator to clock your hours. That can be helpful if you’re charging an hourly rate to your clients.

Unfortunately, it’s not always as simple as working a set number of hours. Your pricing should be less about income and more about the quality of life you want to have. You could have 50 clients at one time and be completely burnt out, or you could have a handful of clients, be well-rested, and make more money.

Don’t set your pricing so low that you have to take on more than you can chew just to stay afloat. Consider what your services are worth. How much time and detail are you putting into what you do? What would you pay for your services? Developing pricing strategies that answer those questions is an honest way to know how much you should be charging.

If you burn yourself out because you’re not charging enough, your self-employment will fizzle out quickly because that’s not a sustainable way to live. Set boundaries for working hours and for how much work you can reasonably take on. The best clients are usually willing to pay a little bit more, so go for those big fish and don’t underestimate how much you’re worth.

Facing Personal Challenges

When you decide to take the plunge into self-employment, you should anticipate that it will be stressful – at least for the first few years. First, you’ll have to devote nearly all of your time and attention to making your “business” work. That can impact your relationships and even your mental and physical health.

You might also not be an instant success. Your first few years will undoubtedly consist of building a client base and getting consistent work. It takes time to build up that kind of loyalty from people, and at times you might feel as though you’re failing. That can take a huge toll on your self-esteem.

It’s important to build your confidence by doing things like talking positively about yourself, banning negative self-talk, and staying focused on your goals. Building confidence will help you to stick with it and can provide you with the motivation you need to make your self-employed career a success.

Planning for the Future

Once you get a large client base and it seems as though your business is taking off the ground, the last thing you’ll probably want to think of right away is what you’re going to do when you retire. Self-employed workers often face the challenge of not having a retirement fund. Not only that, but many don’t even have an “emergency” fund for the future in case something were to happen.

It’s hugely important to save for retirement when you’re not working for a business that will do it for you.

As an individual, you can contribute to an IRA with the income you make. Self-employed individuals also currently get social security benefits. While the amount given by social security usually not enough to cover living expenses, it can help when your self-employed business is slow.

Planning ahead as much as possible will help you to stay secure for the rest of your life. Hopefully, you can continue to do what you’re doing for many years to come, but everyone needs to retire at some point.

Have you been thinking about becoming self-employed? The best thing to do is to weigh out the pros and cons. If you believe the advantages of self-employment outweigh the risks, you could be the dreamer the world is looking to with the next big idea.

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5 Ways HR Can Learn from Project Managers

What do the departments of project management and human resources have in common? As it turns out, more than you may expect.

Although it may be news to some, many of the skills needed to manage the various intricate components of a project are the same as those required to hire, promote, and protect the employees of a company. Both positions include juggling a lot of pieces while also providing positive results. Here are five tips that HR personnel can learn from the project management team.

1. Planning

Planning is an essential step for all project managers. As soon as they are faced with a new need or assignment, the first step is to go to the drawing board and think about all possible solutions, and then figure out deadlines for completion, what staffing will be required, and any other additional needs. HR employees must take the same steps when it comes to filling the needs of the company and its assorted departments.

Just like with project management, it is all about defining what success looks like for the current needs and working toward them. How will success be measured? Are you looking to find anyone to fill a vacant position, or are you searching for candidates that can advance and grow with the company? What new positions may be needed in the future? These questions must be answered before the recruiting process can even begin.

2. Avoiding Pitfalls

Because of the complexity and impending deadlines associated with major projects, common pitfalls must be avoided so the process can move along as easily as possible. Some common project pitfalls might include a sudden procedural change or a project member dropping the ball on their personal responsibilities. Project managers must have contingency plans, and so should HR professionals.

Common pitfalls for HR managers might include limited awareness of employee rights, a failure to complete proper paperwork, or limited knowledge of disciplinary procedures. A major concern would be the loss of an employee from a team that is already understaffed. Plans must be created before potential pitfalls cause issues for your business. Create organizational charts and introduce training classes that ensure that every individual in your HR department is fully trained on their responsibilities, so all bases are covered.

3. Collaboration

Since a project manager is working with so many separate parts that are handled by an army of team members, there must be a good system of collaboration. Project managers need to understand that they don’t know it all and that their team should be involved in the planning process. This is the same in the HR department.

There are a variety of responsibilities within the human resources team, from employee relations and benefits to payroll and hiring. The trick is to work as one fluid group to ensure that the proper employees are hired, that they have all the necessary benefits and signed paperwork, and that they end up becoming a happy and productive member of the team. To achieve this balance, proper communication is necessary, so have a meeting with all staff members where a consensus can be reached for creating the best system of collaboration.

It is also essential for human resources staff to communicate effectively with the supervisors of each team in their business so they can know what needs are necessary. Managers should always have the ability to reach out to HR for important employee matters. Additionally, HR should also have an open-door policy for employees who have personal concerns.

4. Tracking

The job of a project manager is not one filled with rest and relaxation. Instead, constant attention is needed for projects that are often complex in nature. The only way for one person to take control of the chaos is with an effective tracking system that accounts for the movement of each team member, including what has been completed and what is still pending.

Human resources also involves many moving parts, and luckily, there are systems available for better employee management. When it comes to hiring, applicant tracking systems can provide stability as they keep track of current applicants, rank them in terms of ability to do the job, and ensure that all paperwork is presented. For current employees, you can take advantage of personnel tracking software that tracks employee paperwork, tax information, and certifications, among other important records.

5. Managing Personality Types

When project managers assemble their team, they understand that even though everyone comprehends the main goal of the project, every member of the team is not the same. Each employee has their own processes, motivations, and work ethic. Still, the manager must be able to understand these traits so they can bring out the best in every member.

Similarly, in human resources, the goal is to keep employees content. The employees of your company also have different motivations and levels of success that they want to achieve. It is important to work to those traits and promote those who deserve the opportunity. Employees also have different motivators. Some may be happy with a monthly bonus, while others prefer a fixed schedule. It is the job of HR to understand the core of each worker.

Yes, the HR and project management teams have much in common, and the professionals who best harness these skills will see the most success. Adding these traits will lead to happier employees in both arenas.

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Prioritizing Mental Health in the Workplace

Mental health was once a sensitive topic that people avoided discussing. Now, it is being perceived more as an elephant in the room that cannot be avoided, especially in the workplace. Thanks to research and awareness, organizations are realizing that mental health and employee productivity are interconnected, and topics should be discussed as such. With this realization, there is more discussion happening amongst supervisors and business owners alike on how workplace environments can improve, so that employee’s mental health can thrive.

The financial implications of mental health and substance abuse amongst employees and in the workplace costs employers between $79 and $105 billion annually, according to the Center for Prevention and Health. The bottom line is that prioritizing mental health in the workplace has more benefits than it does disadvantages, including financially. If you need tips regarding how to go about it, continue reading below.

Look for Ways to Address Anxiety

Doing what you can to help ease anxiety at work is a way to prioritize mental health. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America has found that American employees are most likely to report anxiety symptoms and use prescription medication. It also found that 28% have had an anxiety or panic attack at some point. Although you can’t manage their anxiety for them, you can create a more relaxing environment and reduce potential triggers to ensure a safe and calm workspace to be productive in.

Examples of stressors that could be triggering employees are deadlines, conflicts with employees, high expectations, and a lack of work-life balance. Not only can they increase anxiety symptoms, but it could result in reduced productivity.

To counter the effects of anxiety in the workplace, consider creating more flexibility when it comes to deadlines and encouraging better work-life balance for your employees. This could include outsourcing work in departments that are overburdened, as well as allowing flexible working arrangements, like the option to work remotely or to be flexible in individual work schedules. Another idea would be to regularly assess the needs of employees in both public and private meetings, and, most importantly, to take complaints seriously when they arise.

Implement Changes to Your Policy

You may need to introduce new business practices if you want to see long-lasting changes, especially when it comes to improving mental health environments in the workplace. In fact, only 40% of employees prioritize wellbeing in their benefits strategy, which is a missed opportunity for employers to ensure their employees are having their mental health taken care of. With this realization, consider updating company policies so they better encourage a healthier workplace for all employees, both physically, mentally, and emotionally.

To begin the journey of changing the atmosphere surrounding mental health, consider holding department meetings where you both outline the steps that will be taken to make changes, while also encouraging people to speak up and offer their own suggestions for improvement. These changes could be numerous, but should be implemented over time instead of all at once. An example of a simple introduction could be a policy that all employees must leave the office by 6 PM. Enforcement could include supporting employees who feel like they are falling behind so that they don’t have to stay long after normal hours, offering flexible working conditions, and closing up the office at the same time every evening and leaving in a group.

Making it mandatory that all managers have mental health training is another example of a policy that could work. The more knowledgeable they are on mental health challenges, the more support they can offer employees who work under them. It could also help eliminate the stigma around mental health and make employees feel more comfortable discussing their concerns with managers or HR. The idea should be to see how you can make changes at a policy level so that mental health is ingrained into your business values and practices, so that employees never question where the company or department stands. Doing this will not only help present employees, but could also help attract future employees, all while building a more supportive workplace.

Consider Emotional Support Dogs

Emotional support is a tangible way of helping employees and making them feel like more than a dollar sign. Updating policies to allow for emotional support animals in addition to service animals in the office is an option to explore. A single designated office dog could be another means to help with stress management, as dogs are proven to help reduce stress.

Simply petting a dog is said to increase oxytocin levels and reduce cortisol. A 2012 study that looked at how an office dog affects stress levels also found that those who brought their dogs to work found their stress levels declining throughout the course of the day. Other benefits of having a dog are increased productivity due to having to take your dog out for walks and creating more meaningful interactions with co-workers.

Having said that, for the sake of balance, acknowledging the cons of bringing a dog to work is important, too. Two core challenges you may face are dog behavior and the inconvenience it causes for those with dog allergies. You could bypass this issue by eliminating in-person contact. A way to do this would be by having employees who are allergic to dogs work in different parts of the building, giving them an enclosed work space, or allowing flexible working hours.

Provide Information and Resources

As mentioned earlier, you cannot resolve all of your employee’s mental health issues yourself, but you can provide support. Giving them information and resources that educate them on how to manage their mental health on their own could make them feel supported and build their resilience in the process.

For instance, to help them reduce anxiety and stress in and outside of the workplace, you could do a monthly training or workshop on stress management. You could also give them worksheets that they can refer back to when they’re feeling overwhelmed. Another idea would be to give them access to discounted or free gym memberships, encouraging them to exercise, which can be a great stress reliever too.

Aside from giving employees the resources they need to empower themselves, consider providing an EAP benefit. This gives employees access to a handful of free therapy sessions which could do wonders for their mental health. Having a professional to confide in could improve their wellbeing in the long run as therapy can help manage conditions like anxiety and depression as well as help improve relationships. Not having to worry about the cost may also be more of an incentive for them to take up the offer.

If you want reduced absent rates and a greater level of productivity, prioritizing mental health is one of many solutions. The above suggestions could also help you improve the mental health and wellbeing of your employees, which in turn, could result in a more vibrant business.

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The True Cost of Hiring the Wrong Employee

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Making one bad hire might not seem like a huge blip on the radar. However, the negativity associated with the wrong fit could send ripples throughout your organization. This can impact your business’s bottom line in a variety of ways.

Below are several ways hiring the wrong person can impact your business.

Budget

Taking the time to find the right candidate requires resources in time spent and the costs associated with paying for ads on job searching platforms. Then, when you bring the new hire in, there’s onboarding. After all of this, if the employee isn’t the right fit, you’ll have to repeat the process again, requiring more time and money spent.

How much could this cost your business? On average, one bad hire could set a company back $14,900 — and this is for just one employee. This number also doesn’t take into consideration the costs to replace them or to retain other employees. The Undercover Recruiter states bad hires cost organizations on average $240,000.

This is a sizeable expense that not only impacts your company’s bottom line, it can affect other areas of your business as well.

Employee Morale and Culture

Finding the right fit both from a skillset and culture fit perspective benefits both the new employee and your current employees.

However, what happens if the culture isn’t the right fit? A change in culture could lead to more stress on the job for everyone involved, especially if there are clashes in communication styles or a drop in production. In turn, this could result in your employees looking for other employment opportunities.

Rounding back to the budget, retention is a key driver of hiring costs. It isn’t cost-effective to hire the best fit alone, you also want to retain your employees, as this reduces training and onboarding costs and improves employee morale since everyone fits in together; this is why company culture plays a huge role in finding the right fit.

One bad hire could disrupt community continuity. While it’s good to hire candidates who provide fresh, valuable perspectives to your business, it’s also important to examine how they fit into the department they’ll be in. Will their communication styles mesh well with others in their department? Do they share the same occupational values?

These are important considerations because you want to make the transition as seamless as possible. When there are cultural disruptions, it can impact your company and the customers you serve.

Customer Experience

Your customer experiences are vital to your organization’s success. If you hire the wrong person in a client-facing position, then it’s your company that will suffer from a loss in sales.

The reason for this is that brands want to provide a unified approach to communicating with customers. This gives clients the perspective that everyone in the organization is on the same page — a key indicator of a well-run company. If you hire someone who doesn’t grasp or, even worse, doesn’t care about the company’s identity, this will show itself when speaking with customers. This could damage your company’s reputation irreversibly.

Driving Away Potential Hires

When prospective employees search for jobs, they have more tools at their disposal now than ever before. One way they examine whether a company is right for them is by reading employee reviews on sites like Indeed or Glassdoor. Some may also read customer reviews to gauge how well an employer treats their clients.

With these factors in mind, if you made the wrong choice(s) as it relates to hiring, employees will take notice of this. This could reflect in employee reviews of a company, as they question leadership’s decision-making abilities. As a prospective employee, reading these kinds of reviews will make you think twice about applying with them. After all, if there are inherent problems in leadership, how good can the company culture be?

Culture is everything to employees, and reputation is everything to employers. So, here’s how to hire the right candidates the first time.

Employing Best Practices

You want to take your time to find the best fit for your company. Doing this requires a concerted effort among everyone involved in the hiring process from senior and departmental leadership to even your IT team, who can use AI to help you craft accurate and engaging job descriptions.

Along with an accurate job description, you want to create benefit packages that attract and retain the best talent. This makes your employees feel valued and gives them more incentives to participate. Furthermore, when you do find good prospective candidates, it’s important to test their skills. This is where skill assessments are vital. Not only does this allow the candidate to showcase whether or not they can do some of the duties of the job, but it also tests the validity of their resume.

Lastly, you want to build a company culture that finds, welcomes, and nurtures the right fit for your organization’s needs. As part of this process, you’ll want to establish an onboarding program that clearly defines your company’s culture and how your employee(s) fit into it. This will help them transition into the role while also knowing what’s expected of them.

Ultimately, hiring the wrong employee can have a multi-pronged effect that could affect all areas of your business. By using these tips, you increase your chances of hiring the right employee the first time.

Healthy Communication in the Workplace

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Communication is one of the foundational elements of a properly functioning workplace, and as an HR rep, you’re likely going to be at the heart of your office’s communication channels. Whether you’re discussing work-life balance, resolving interpersonal conflict, or training employees regarding company policies, communication is going to be a key to success.

Why Good Communication Matters

A company is a living organism, and as is the case with all living organisms, communication between its various members is essential. Whether a business functions within a single office, maintains several locations across a country, or is completely remote in nature, healthy communication, among other things, helps to:

  • Communicate company objectives and values.
  • Promote teamwork and collaboration.
  • Maintain healthy professional relationships.
  • Encourage work-life balance.
  • Resolve interpersonal conflict.

The list goes on and on. One way or another, healthy communication is involved in nearly every facet of a successful company, which is why HR professionals, in particular, should make it a priority to facilitate and promote proper communication within the workplace.

Tips for Good Communication

From general training to specific person-to-person interactions, here are a handful of the best ways you can facilitate good communication within your company.

Offer Training

Training is a useful tool that allows a large amount of information to be communicated to an entire group of people efficiently and effectively. You can promote communication within your workplace in multiple ways by utilizing training sessions and seminars.

For instance, you can establish clear boundaries and protocols in order to avoid blurred lines when it comes to things like personal and professional relationships within the workplace. All staff members should be clearly informed regarding topics like sexual harassment and how to communicate sexual consent with a work colleague. They should also be made well aware of how to report issues of misconduct to a superior.

Along with protocol like this, you can also use teaching scenarios to help communicate to employees the importance of finding work-life balance and maintaining their mental health while on the job.

Promote Resources

It’s also important for HR representatives to establish themselves as a central source of resources for those in need. For instance, it should be made clear that if an employee is struggling in their personal life, they can come to HR in order to find resources for counseling.

Another example of providing resources would be informing a victim of sexual assault where they can find a sexual assault nurse examiner. Even someone simply trying to maintain a healthy weight should be able to come to HR in order to find important health information.

If employees are continually empowered with resources that help them maintain their health and well-being, it will go a long way in helping to promote interactions and communication with an office as a whole.

Keep Lines of Communication Open

A good HR rep is going to keep their door open at all times. If you want to promote good communication, you want employees to feel that they can come to you whenever they have a need without the fear of being turned away or asked to wait. This kind of communication starts with a good open door policy, which helps promote trust and encourages those with a need to approach you confidently with an issue or concern.

In addition, make sure that you take the time to learn how to look for common signs of distress, even if someone isn’t consciously communicating something specifically with you. If, for instance, an employee is failing to relate their particular issue with you, you may be able to identify what they’re dealing with by looking for other signs.

Say, for instance, that an employee is struggling with the recent loss of a loved one or the fact that they’ve checked out of their marriage. You may be able to pick up on the signs that they’re unconsciously projecting and help them communicate their struggle.

Be a Mediator

While it’s always nice to be a source of comfort, sometimes providing good communication requires some less desirable action. Any HR rep worth their salt is going to be ready to step into the role of mediator whenever the need arises.

The less-than-savory task of leading employees through interpersonal conflict takes focus and skill. A good mediator will be willing to dig to the root of an issue and then provide strategies that are aimed at resolving the conflict and preventing further problems from arising in the future. If you find yourself faced with the task of being a mediator, it’s critical that you step up to the challenge with grace and wisdom in order to maintain the relationships at stake and restore healthy communication between the aggrieved parties.

Practice Active Listening

Finally, it’s always wise to both practice and promote active listening. If you want healthy interconnectivity to percolate throughout your workplace, you’re going to want to start with your own communication efforts.

Start by taking the time to actively listen to your company’s employees. Avoid passing judgment, be patient, ask questions, and don’t be afraid to summarize and clarify in order to make sure everyone has been heard. If you can demonstrate active listening on a regular basis, you’ll provide a benchmark of healthy communication for others around you to follow.

Achieving Proper Communication

Training, seminars, resources, mediation, active listening, and open-door policies are all essential ingredients for maintaining healthy communication in the workplace. However, the most important thing of all is for you to take the time to properly prioritize communication in the first place. If an HR rep focuses on keeping proper lines of communication open within a workplace, potentially negative scenarios can be identified and addressed quickly and appropriately, leading to a smooth, functioning office over the long term.

5 Things That Produce Customer Loyalty

Every business understands the importance of attracting new customers. You can reach new demographics, grow your business, and see success when you have a marketing plan that attracts people to your goods or services. 

But, there are a few problems with only marketing to new target audiences. Eventually, those audiences will run out or start to dwindle. You’ll run out of people to attract to your business on your own. Furthermore, small businesses don’t typically have the budgets or resources to compete with big businesses when it comes to attracting new customers. 

So, what’s the answer for a business looking to grow and find success? It’s about focusing more on customer loyalty and their experience as well as building onto your business’ foundation, rather than constantly chasing target markets. 

The best businesses know how to treat their customers well and give them the things they want, so they’ll not only keep coming back, but they’ll tell others about the business. There is no better form of advertising than word-of-mouth, and the best way to achieve that is to create a following of happy, loyal customers. 

1. Make it More Than Marketing

A solid marketing plan is important for the growth of any business. Your marketing plan should have achievable goals you can reach quickly, as well as long-term goals. But when you’re trying to appeal to people and promote your brand, it’s about catering to their psychological triggers. 

What does that mean? Instead of creating a marketing plan solely focused on a new product, service, or deal, determine what the people who already love your business really want. Treat your current customers like royalty. Provide them with superior customer support and dedication. It’s easy to create a marketing plan when you’re trying to attract someone new. But, when you’re developing new ideas, don’t ignore the people who have stood by your business for a long time. By including them in your marketing budget, you’ll ensure that they keep coming back to you. 

2. Cover Your Bases

No business is perfect, but the ones who come close tend to cover their bases in every way so they always appear trustworthy and reliable to their customers.

You’ve probably heard about some data breaches and hacks in various companies over the last few years. Hackers are looking for everything from personal information like social security numbers to financial information like credit cards. When they get that kind of info, they can steal identities, spend money, and learn just about everything there is to know about your customers. While bigger companies can sometimes get away with this kind of hit, not every business is so lucky. 

Protecting your customers is crucial, which is why it’s a good idea to have proper storage solutions in place for records and data. Implementing a business record retention program is a great way to have your customers’ important information at your fingertips. A record retention program can keep track of business records, financial records, insurance records, copyrights, and more. It will also help you to determine how long you should hold on to certain documents and when it’s okay to get rid of them via shredding. 

Covering your bases as a business also means preparing for any possible scenario when you’re ready to launch a new product, service, or campaign. No solid company wants to think about all of the things that could potentially go wrong, but the ones that do are prepared and take less of a blow if one ever occurs. Some companies create user experience scenarios when launching a new product, deal, service, etc. This helps them to see what could potentially go wrong, what they could do better, and how people might respond. As a result, they can go back to the drawing board if needed and make sure their loyal customers will be pleased when the final product or idea is eventually rolled out. 

They’ll also be prepared for any potential problems. For example, take a look at Gap. Back in 2008, the clothing company launched a new logo in an effort to be more modern. The logo instantly received an overwhelming amount of backlash, and it only took the company two days to return to its original imagery. 

Of course, it’s important to protect yourself from a legal standpoint, too. Strong companies fully understand the legalities behind the promises they make and the things they offer their customers. It’s important to have a working knowledge of legal terminology and how to understand contracts when you’re in the business world. It will keep you from getting burned, and ensure the promises you make your customers are always kept. 

3. Offer Rewards

Everyone likes to be rewarded. Attracting new customers and audiences with special incentives and deals is great, but don’t forget about your loyal customer base. Creating a customer loyalty program is a great way to get people coming back. 

For some small businesses, a loyalty program can be something as simple as a punch card — buy five coffees and get your sixth one free! After all, customers are 82.4% more likely to shop at a store that has some type of loyalty system in place. 

If you want to go bigger, you can create a “points” system to reward loyal customers. Popular retailers like Old Navy, American Eagle, and Carters have reward point programs. The more customers spend, the more points they receive that can later be turned into discounts or money to spend at the store. This allows your business to keep adding revenue and tips your hat to those who are consistently spending with you. 

4. Take Feedback Seriously

Customers want to feel as though they have a relationship with the businesses they frequent. So, take their feedback seriously, whether it’s positive or negative. Even small businesses will benefit from some kind of customer support team. When a customer feels ignored or that their comments are falling on deaf ears, it never sits well. Even acknowledging what they have to say will make a difference in their overall experience. 

There are tools you can use to stay within your budget and still handle customer feedback with professionalism. There are a variety of resources that are great for offering customer service on virtually every channel possible. 

Getting caught up in the excitement of attracting new people to your business can be fun, but it isn’t a sustainable business plan that will allow you success and growth. Keep your current customer base in mind when it comes to everything you do. The loyalty you show back to them will end up rewarding your business in the long run. 

 

How to Fast Forward your Employee’s Career

Your employees’ professional growth doesn’t happen overnight. Developing people’s skills needs investment of thought, time and love in order to create meaningful change. Ideally a manager becomes a mentor. They provide guidance and coaching to evolve employee skill-sets, knowledge and confidence. With managers acting as the catalyst for progression, we’ve pinpointed five ways to effectively advance your employee’s career path.

Align your business goals

When you’re working closely with your employees, don’t forget to feed back the “bigger picture” to them. You can coach people in leadership qualities all day long but it’s pointless if you’re not communicating why. Employees motivation to excel can diminish if they don’t feel valued or believe they can create an impact for the company. Realistically, how empowered would your employees feel if they’re given the freedom to make smart, informed decisions however they still need to run their ideas by you before making moves? Communicate the objectives and company goals before anything else, and provide freedom for them to actually reach these.

Create a career development plan

Having conversations around career progressions is the first step in gauging employee development, but it’s important to follow up with implementing achievable objectives. This encourages employees to formulate their goals so they can actively execute them. Create a space where you can collaborate openly on short-term and long-term career goals and most importantly how these can be achieved. If you’re not sure where role progression can evolve, check out Search Party’s Career Path Tool to see all possible options.

Articulate expectations

Objectives and Key Results (OKR) is a popular technique to setting and communicating goals and results in organisations. The main purpose for OKRs is to connect the company, team and individual’s personal objectives to measurable results, ensuring everyone is moving in the right direction. The structure is fairly straightforward.

  • Define 3-5 key objectives on company, team or personal levels. These must be qualitative, ambitious and time bound.
  • Under each objective, define 3-4 measurable results based on growth performance, revenue or engagement.

When OKRs are a place and remain transparent across all teams, employees have complete clarity of knowing what’s expected of them and have something to work towards. Defining these can take into account career progressions or onboarding new responsibilities or projects and when you’re able to measure you’re also able to mentor. No wonder OKR’s are loved by tech giants like Google, Twitter, and Oracle. It’s a proven process that genuinely works.

Actively identify new opportunities within the organisation

When employees begin to seek new experiences or want to build their portfolio of skill-sets, 9 times out of 10 they’ll leave their current organisation rather than take on a new role in a different area within their current company. And it’s no surprise that losing talent and re-training new starters is timely and costly for managers. However this behaviour can be avoided if there is real encouragement and facilitation of internal transfers. Speak with the individual about what skills they would like to gain or areas they wish to excel in and then identify all possible new opportunities and paths they can explore within the organisation. Mentors are those who can look beyond their own areas or personal needs for growth opportunities, even if it means they’re losing a great asset.

Encourage developmental assignments

Developmental assignments come from the opportunity to initiate something new that an employee takes the majority of the reigns with. Internal projects, new product lines or championing a change such as adopting new technology or a restructure in workflows are all great ways to allow employees to step outside of their comfort zones. These kind of initiatives are the gateway into harbouring new skill-sets and embracing areas not usual to their daily tasks. Enabling employees to lead or manage side projects or totally new initiatives are the stepping stones into project management fields and opens a huge number of doors into other leadership roles.

Although most CEOs understand the importance of employee development, the sad truth is that they don’t devote the necessary time into excelling them into greater things. But the proof really is in the pudding. The more effort you put into developing employees, the higher the employee retention, productivity, engagement, turnover…the list goes on!

If you’re unsure as to where career progression can take you or your employees, Search Party have developed a nifty Career Path Tool. Simply type in your current role, and see how careers of people who’ve been in your shoes developed. Or, type in your dream job and see which paths can take you there. Check it out and let us know what you think!


Originally published by Search Party on 29 August 2016.

Considerations Before You Increase Employee Monitoring

There are all sorts of workplaces out there. Some require clocking in and out so that management can ensure every employee is logging a certain amount of hours each week. On the other end of the spectrum is the type of company that doesn’t invest in any employee tracking at all, other than for security purposes. Their staff can come and go as they please, create their own schedules, and even work from home. 

However, even seemingly lax companies may monitor employee email or software use. When it comes to employee tracking, ethical and legal issues pop up, along with issues surrounding company culture. Understanding how and why companies track employees is the first step toward deciding what’s right for your business.

Types of Employee Tracking

There are numerous ways for a company to keep an eye on what employees are doing. From direct observation in the office to secretly logging every keystroke an employee makes on their computer, some types of monitoring are helpful, while others can feel invasive:

  • Direct monitoring: If a manager wants to directly monitor what’s happening, they may put workspaces in a central, open area. Using hardware that logs keystrokes is another type of direct monitoring.
  • Email monitoring: Email monitoring ensures that everything being sent from a company email address is in-line with the company’s values. It will also clear out spam before it reaches an inbox, which helps the employee do their job more efficiently.
  • GPS monitoring: Depending on the type of job an employee performs, GPS monitoring may or may not be worthwhile. For example, it’s best when used for the employee’s safety and to prevent accidents, like in the fleet industry. GPS tech can monitor how often a driver hard brakes or speeds, and an in-vehicle buzzer can alert the driver to risky driving so they can improve.
  • Network monitoring: In order to keep the company’s network secure and free of viruses, it’s necessary to monitor it. Network monitoring includes tracking the content that’s sent over the network and monitoring who is accessing files.
  • Software monitoring: For companies with dispersed teams or remote workers, software monitoring allows managers to keep an eye on what’s happening even when they’re not in the same physical location as employees. Software monitoring logs information like changes to files, conversations, and screenshots. 

Regardless of which types of monitoring you decide are right for your business, you have to let employees know how they’re being monitored. You should also have employees sign to acknowledge that they understand how and why they’re being monitored. If your monitoring strategies change, you should update employees right away, preferably before the changes are put in place.

Ethics and Legalities of Employee Tracking

If you don’t approach employee monitoring the professional way, a lot can go wrong. If you neglect to let the employee know they’re being monitored, they may feel betrayed and concerned about working for you. They may wonder, “What else don’t I know?” 

Even if they’re aware of the monitoring, employees may feel like their privacy is being invaded. They don’t want a micro-manager who needs to see every single thing they do at every moment of the workday. They’d rather work for someone who trusts them. 

Furthermore, certain states have specific legal guidelines to follow. For example, in Connecticut, employees cannot monitor employees without getting consent first. Ensure that your organization is legally compliant in order to avoid issues down the road.

Alternatives to Employee Tracking

Consider why you want to track your employees. There may be another way to achieve the same results. For example, let’s say you’re worried that employees are wasting time at work. They seem to be meeting deliverables and deadlines, but every time you walk into their workspace, they’re on social media or chatting with one another. Instead of monitoring what they do to catch them in the act, talk to them to find out if they’re bored or not challenged enough at work. The problem could be that they don’t have enough to keep them busy.

Here’s another example: Let’s say you need to cut costs, so you want to see who’s clocking in late or leaving early. Unless you have a good reason to think this is happening, a better first step is to audit the workplace and see where waste can be reduced. You may discover that you’re regularly replenishing inventory that isn’t actually being used or that you can use alternative packaging that’s less costly and wasteful. 

Final Thoughts

There are times when tracking is useful to both the company and its employees. For example, applicant tracking systems make it easier for companies to source potential hires and go through hundreds of job applications to hone in on the best ones. For the applicant, that means they’ll get a response sooner rather than later because managers don’t have to manually sort through tons of applications. 

On the other hand, some employee tracking feels unethical, giving employees the impression that they’re not trusted by the company they work for. Getting to the root of the issue and determining why you want to track employees will help you decide the best way to monitor them or if they have to be monitored at all.

Top 5 Apps to Boost Productivity

No matter what type of industry you are in, productivity is a must. The more productive your workforce is the higher revenue you can expect from your business. In fact, productivity has become a survival tool otherwise no business can sustain for the long run due to the huge market pressure and the competition. But the question is how would you bring productivity in your business? Here are the 5 apps to boost your office productivity.

Visitor Track – Visitor Management Software

Visitor Track is the cutting-edge visitor management application. This robust application will ease your visitor management process. Unlike paper-based manual visitor management process, this is fast, efficient and takes less than a minute to check in and check out. In short, the Visitor Track will accelerate your visitor management process.

Asset Tracker – Asset Management Software

Think about how much time you have to waste for managing your asset. Using the manual process is never enough. You need something that works faster and can keep you updated all the time so that you can take prompt decisions. Asset Tracker is such an answer to such productivity. Using Asset Tracker you can track your asset location, detail of its owner and can get the report when any issue arises or any repair required. The whole thing can be done from a single platform.  Its mobile version makes it more easy to access information from a remote location, which means you can always be updated. Isn’t it great!

Simple CRM – Customer Relationship Management Software

We all know, the customer is the king, if you cant satisfy your business can’t satisfy you. But for positive customer experience, you need a seamless customer management software that makes the whole process efficient and easy. Simple CRM is the perfect application for customer management. Using this application you can create, manage and communicate customers so effectively and productively. This application makes the process smooth that brings productivity in the process and enable you to deal more customer than before.

CircleCare – Employee Wellness Application

Circlecare is the employee wellness application. Using this app you can motivate your employees, encourage them, take care of their good health along, connect with them and engage with them. No doubt all these activities will motivate your employees and thus boost their overall productivity.

Fleet Manager – Fleet Management Application

Fleet Manager is the Fleet management application. This mobile and PC based application will ease your fleet management process. Make it easy for you and your organization to manage the number of fleets without any hassle. Using Fleet Manager you can schedule a vehicle, manage driver profile, manage vehicle reservation, manage trips, perform remote inspection and many more all from the one place.

So, these are the 5 apps that will surely boost your office productivity. All these apps run on the cloud which means you can use them from the first day without hassle. Now, it is your choice to stick to the age-old conventional system or to embrace these 5 apps for high productivity.