Empowering Your Employees: It’s The Ultimate Investment

You’re one in a million! Few people would have the gumption and self determination to quit the rat race and carve out your own niche for yourself in the fast paced and ultra competitive world of modern business. Moreover, none could do it with the same flair, panache and expertise that you have. Yet, amazing as you are, you’d be the first to admit that you can’t do it alone. Your fabulous employees have been with you almost every step of the way. When things have been at their worst you’ve always known that you have a fantastic team that you trust and can fall back on. You respect, love and appreciate your team and you want to make sure that you keep them. But while you enjoy their respect and admiration, these alone will not prevent them from straying into the arms of your competitors the moment they stop feeling valued.

This is why employee empowerment is so important to SMEs. Fortunately, there’s a great deal you can do to make them feel more valued and empowered. Some of it is simply a matter of good practice, like ensuring a safe and pleasant working environment for them some will require some upfront investment. But while entrepreneurs tend to be a little gun shy when it comes to racking up overheads, empowering your employees is an investment that will continue to pay dividends for years as your employees take you to dizzying new heights.

Give them the flexibility they need to achieve work / life balance

Some employees will have young families. Others will care for sick or elderly relatives. Some will have disabilities which you need to bear in mind. For many reasons you may need to be a little flexible in your working practices to enable them to work remotely from home every once in a while. This can be done fairly easily and with a modest outlay thanks to solutions like Vertex who offer Cloud Computing Solutions For Businesses. This empowers your employees by giving them a cloud based desktop filled with secure copies of their emails, apps, and data to enable them to do their job anywhere. Allow your employees the opportunity to do their job well while honoring their other commitments and they’ll reward you with loyalty.

Keep your distance, yet always be there when they need you

Nobody likes bosses who are relentless micromanagers, always standing over them, scrutinizing everything that they do. Not only is micromanaging dangerous and a potential impediment to productivity, it’s rarely the best use of your time. Give your employees some space yet give them the guidance and support they need when they need it and they won’t disappoint you.

Give them a voice

A hearty “thank you” is good. A competitive incentives structure is even better. But there’s a difference between making your employees feel like valued collaborators and making them feel like well paid slaves. Make sure that they always have a forum in which to voice their ideas, suggestions and objections. This can be anything from a suggestion box to a Facebook group.

Deny them an opportunity to make their voices heard, however, and they’ll wonder how much you really value their input.

5 Ways to Prepare Your Company for the Summer Months

With summer right around the corner, now is the time to get your company ready for these warmer months when many people have slower schedules and more daytime hours to kill. When your building is pleasant, your employees are comfortable and your customers are well-served, you can reap dividends on all the time and money you put into this investment. By following these five preparation tips, you can increase your company’s popularity during these months and increase customer traffic, leading to improved sales and results all year long.

Prepare for Changes in Customer Traffic

Consider whether you expect customer traffic to go up or down during the summer months based on your service provided, your location and your typical customer base. Consider vacation times, freedom from school and warmer weather as you plot potential traffic. Next, plan how to keep traffic high with marketing campaigns or how to respond to high traffic with increased employee hours or longer business hours.

Plan for Fun Times

The summer can be a hard time for employees to be cooped up in a building when what they really want to do is enjoy the beautiful weather. Plan for special staff meeting times and parties that allow coworkers to network outside the office. Also, see if there are ways to let the fun times into your office by creating outdoor break spaces or by offering flexible work hours during the summer.

Keep It Cool

Nothing makes for an uncomfortable office quite like hot temperatures do, and discomfort can cost you and your employees productivity. Not to mention it might drive away customers. Before summer weather hits, ensure that your HVAC system or your commercial air conditioning unit is up to the challenge by scheduling maintenance.

Install a Smart Thermostat

To further help with the warm temperatures, install smart thermostats throughout your office space to keep employees comfortable while decreasing cooling costs during the hours when no one is in the building. A smart thermostat can be programmed to cool the building to certain temperatures at particular hours of the day. Not only can it keep employees happy, but also it can decrease your company’s costs.

Include Landscaping

Nothing sets the tone for a first impression of your business more than the look of the outside of the building and its entrance. By focusing on installing beautiful landscaping and by taking the time to maintain it, you will show your customers that you believe even the little things are important. Plus, your employees will feel proud to work there.

Some of these tips have to do with how your building looks and feels while others have to do with keeping up employee morale and good customer traffic. Ensuring that you have a mixture of each of these tasks will keep your company well-balanced and ensure good results on your investment. Be sure to start now to ready your company both inside and out so that when summer arrives, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband.

Why Live Events Are So Good For Your Business

A smart business owner looks for every opportunity to help grow, legitimize, and lionize their brand. But the truth is that many small business owners overlook one of the biggest stages they could hope to stand on. We’re talking about live events like conferences, trade shows, and speaking opportunities. They should start becoming a key feature of your annual marketing plans and here is why.

Get the team spirit on the rise

If you have a team alongside you, then getting them out there representing their brand has all kinds of benefits. For one, you are having it represented by the people who it best and choosing the right charismatic characters can help you make even more of an impact on event attendees, with a little training. What’s more, it can actually improve the team’s motivation and engagement with their work. Having the opportunity to meet others and to prove that they are on the side of the brand can make them actually feel like members of a team, rather than just employees.

Find new ways to convert new people

When you’re looking for new people to convert, the quality of your leads matters as much, if not more, than the quantity of your leads. You could be wasting huge amounts of time and resources trying to convert people who simply aren’t interested. At trade shows and other live events relevant to your business, you are getting in touch directly with those most likely to be interested. It’s a whole new way to begin the conversion process. Just make sure that you establish a way to keep in touch with those you meet so that you can continue the process further down the line, whether by arranging a meeting, getting new signups to your email newsletter, or simply by sending a follow-up email.

Expose the brand in a new dimension

Besides getting the opportunity to connect personally with members of your target market, you can do a lot more the broader strategy of your brand. Showcasing your brand at an event, whether it’s a launch or a booth at a trade show is a way of saying “we have arrived.” It gives a level of exposure that can make the brand much more recognizable. Just ensure that you’re taking steps to actually expose it. You need the right items for your conference, including booth design materials that make your corner fit your aesthetic and custom lanyards or wristbands that help individual members of the team wear and show off their affiliation. Don’t be afraid of saturating your people and your space with brand imagery. You may need it to stand out amongst your competitors.

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Stand amongst your peers

Exposure isn’t the only thing that a conference or trade show can offer your brand. It can also lend it a sense of trustworthiness. Consumers are becoming a lot savvier and less willing to part with their money to do business with companies that they don’t know. By establishing a physical presence and showing that you don’t only exist in the online world, you can help establish and legitimize your place within the industry. Keep building trust by ensuring that you’re talking one-on-one to potential clients in plenty of detail. Be honest, don’t be afraid to let them down by giving a sub-optimal answer if it’s the truthful one. This might be a marketing opportunity, but it’s also a conversation and if you want to be effective, you have to be able to sustain that sense of trust all the way through it.

Use it as a focus group study

Don’t be afraid to have some questions of your own for the event attendees, either. As mentioned, trade shows and conferences attract only those members of the market most interested in what you have to offer. This includes not just consumers and businesses, but also journalists and bloggers. Take the opportunity to get the scoop and gain some insight that can help you craft future strategies for the business. The event survey is far from uncommon, however. If you don’t make yours a little more creative, it might be hard to collect as much data as you would like.

Find partnerships

Besides standing out from your competitors, you can also use this opportunity to stand alongside them. You can start building bridges with others in the industry or in related fields of work. Business partnerships can have all kinds of benefits. You can score referrals from one another. You can use each other’s platforms to help give a boost to any marketing or branding efforts. You may even have a joint project down the line. Use trade shows and conferences as an opportunity to network and build the foundation of friends that can help your business reach new goals in the future.

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Bring the online and offline worlds together

As mentioned, live events help give an online business a sense of trustworthiness by showing the market that you do, indeed, exist and a real-world presence. However, they can also serve as great material for you to build your online marketing on, too. For instance, you can livestream your conference content or tweet out photos and stories from the event as it’s happening. You can also take some of the conversations you have had and turn them into a case study or a point of future discussion. Above all else, it shows that your business is willing to learn and stay on the top of its game by incorporating recent events and information into its branding and marketing materials which only improves your image.

Even if you don’t believe your business is yet big enough to stand on that tallest of platforms, there is too much to gain to not make use of them. They can help you both share and gain insights. They can help you reach customers, clients, and partners you might never have met otherwise. They cement your brand’s place in the industry. Start attending events and you will see the benefits immediately.

Job Injury: How to Quickly Recover from Getting Hurt at Work

Many people are injured on the job each year. You may believe that most injuries are in high-risk or dangerous jobs, but anyone can be injured regardless of what they do for a living. After all, anyone can slip and fall, get electrocuted or run into other serious issues in the seemingly safest work environment. If you have recently been injured at work, you understandably want to move past the situation and recover fully as soon as possible. These helpful tips will guide you through the recovery process.

Get Medical Treatment

If you are a stoic individual who prefers to stay away from medical offices unless absolutely necessary, you may be inclined to try to rest and recover at home. However, it is best to get the medical treatment that you need so that you can recover fully as soon as possible. In addition, you need to document your injuries as well as your treatment so that you can obtain compensation for them. Documentation may also be essential if you need to pursue legal action.

Follow Your Workplace’s Reporting Rules

Your workplace likely has very specific reporting rules that must be followed after an injury occurs. If you had to leave suddenly to seek emergency medical care, you should contact your employer as soon as possible to discuss the requirements. If you are physically able to complete the paperwork before seeking medical attention, it may be best to cross this item off of your list as soon as possible.

Examine Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Your employer should discuss workers’ compensation benefits with you, and these benefits may pay for most or all of your medical expenses. In addition, they may reimburse you for lost wages. Some people have trouble filing a claim or getting a claim approved. You may need assistance from a family member if you are not well enough to focus on this step in the process.

Talk to a Personal Injury Lawyer

Some workplace injury events may not be resolved to your satisfaction through a workers’ compensation claim. In some cases, you may feel as though you suffered needlessly because your employer was negligent, or you may be permanently disabled. In situations like this, it may be a smart idea to consult with a personal injury lawyer such as Blomberg Benson & Garrett and to learn about your legal options.

Workplace injuries can be painful and stressful. They can disrupt your life and leave you struggling financially. These important steps will help you to recover as soon as reasonably possible.

How to Keep Employees Productive during Renovations

A renovation can be a great way to improve the productivity and effectiveness of your business. Whether it be renovating facilities that have become outdated, performing necessary repairs, or building out a brand new space, renovations can be an exciting time and can serve as a great rallying point for your employees. The problem comes, though, when trying to figure out how to continue to effectively utilize your employees, even when their typical workspace is disrupted in some way. Fortunately, there are a few areas where you can re-direct their attention and energy to ensure they continue to make a valuable contribution to your company.

Let Them Help

If the renovations are fairly minor and low-risk, you can potentially recruit interested employees to assist in the renovation efforts. Now, to be sure, some renovations, like metal roof repair, knocking down walls, or electrical work, should be left to the professionals. However, more simple tasks, such as painting or organizing, can be left to those employees who are displaced. Just be sure to keep the activities especially low-risk to help prevent any worker’s compensation claims.

Let Them Prospect

If your business depends on customer retention to succeed, it’s likely that most of your business’s efforts are focused on doing just that. Of course, you probably have employees dedicated to prospecting new customers as well, however, the more energy you’re able to devote to prospecting, the better. Allow employees who can’t be at their desk to engage with local businesses to network and prospect, even if that’s not what they normally do. By taking this time to allow them to re-focus by doing a different task, they’ll be even more effective and productive at their typical task when they’re able to return to it.

Let Them Dream

Any interruption in normal business activities is typically an opportunity for your employees to talk amongst themselves. Why not take advantage of this talking to gain new ideas for your business, moving forward? Gather affected employees together and guide them in discussion of what ideas they have, what changes they would like to see, and any other contributions they can make to the future of the business. By letting them know their voices are heard, you’ll increase retention and potentially gain some great ideas in the process.

Let Them Serve

If your normal business location is going to be totally out of commission for a while, it can be a great opportunity to do some community service while you wait to be able to return. Get your employees out in the community picking up trash, repairing homes, volunteering at a soup kitchen, or whatever else you’re passionate about. These times of service help your community, improve your public image, and help give your employees greater appreciation for the company they work for.

Keep It Smooth

Whatever you do during a renovation, ensure that you have it planned out well in advance to ensure your employees’ engagement doesn’t suffer. Let your employees know that things are likely to be different but that doesn’t mean your expectations are lower or that they’re free to do as they please. If you still plan on paying them, they still owe you work of some kind in exchange for that pay. If you can make that work stimulating and beneficial, then all parties are sure to benefit.

Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband.

3 Million Americans Quit Their Job Every Month: Top Tips for Employee Retention

Employees deserve to feel satisfied about their work, but it appears that a record-setting number aren’t. According to a survey of employment trends, approximately 3 million Americans quit their jobs each month. For many companies, this is a huge loss–both in talent and in money. After all, it can be expensive to replace your employees. In order to prevent your employees from walking out your door for good, you need to strategize carefully to encourage employees to stay. Yet, it may not be as hard as it may seem. Here are some pointers to help you retain your workforce.

Invest in Your Office Environment

Look over your budget and see if there is room for you to invest in sprucing up the office. It’s been proven that employee performance is significantly impacted by what their workplace looks like. You can start out small: consider redecorating to create an open floor plan, which in turn fosters greater collaboration. A support network like that makes everyone look forward to going to work.

Foster Positive Workplace Culture

The mental atmosphere in the office is just as important as the physical one. Organize regular team building events that go beyond building marshmallow towers or egg racing. Get creative with activities such as a volunteer outing or cooking classes. This helps employees feel a greater personal connection to each other and the organization, and will make them want to stay as a result.

Survey Your Employees

Your own initiative goes a long way, but you should also take employee input into consideration. Send out regular surveys to monitor office morale—but not too often, otherwise employees may feel annoyed. Checking in to see how everyone’s feeling shows you care. It lets them know that your staff are valued and are a critical part of the organization so they’re less inclined to take off. Surveys don’t have to be direct, either: you’ll also learn a lot from just taking part in the classic water cooler conversation.

Encourage Professional Development

Employee retention also has a lot to do with creating opportunities for growth. Give them something to work towards as much as you give them to work on. Hiring an executive coach can help with this. Bring one in for a workshop or similar event. Your employees will then recognize their own potential within your organization and be motivated to work harder as a result. It’s also been said that a rising tide lifts all boats, so if even one employee gets inspired, that extends to everyone else, too.

When you’re a business owner, you’re especially concerned about keeping employees on board. Making sure that your organization’s goals align well with their personal interests will keep them from jumping ship.

5 Common HR Mistakes Every Business Owner Can Avoid

Often described as the key mediator between employees and you, the business owner, your HR department relies on your leadership to steer the ship that is your company in the right direction. However, the process of hiring, training, and retaining your employees is a fluid and ever-changing one, especially considering the same changing nature of the laws on which you base your collaboration.

With so much on your plate already, it’s no wonder that many business owners, no matter the size of their company, let a few key HR steps fall through the cracks. More often than not, these issues can be easily avoided, so let’s see which HR pet-peeves you should keep an eye on, and how you can make sure they never affect your business again.

Hasty dismissal

Unless there was a flying copier incident that jeopardized the safety of your employees, you cannot fire an employee on the spot without properly investigating the situation. If you are not satisfied with that particular employee’s performance, there should be a written record of your attempts to help them overcome any issues, followed by a proper training protocol, and an account of why you are not satisfied and how that has affected your business.

Sometimes all it takes is a few training sessions to help your employee perform better, but even if that is not the case, the least you can do is save yourself an unfair dismissal claim from a disgruntled employee.

No hiring strategy in place

It doesn’t matter if you are looking for a single person to handle your social media, or an entire team of graphic designers to build your brand, every company needs a reliable onboarding process. It serves to test the candidates on several levels, filter out the unsuitable ones, and help you focus on the ones with the most potential to fit into your company culture.

In fact, a single mismatch can cost your company as much as $50,000 in the long-run, according to this 2013 study. So, take your time to refine the hiring process, it will be worth your while, as well as your budget.

No binding contract

There are no exceptions to this rule: even if you are hiring remotely or choose to work with freelancers only, every collaboration requires a legal basis. While online platforms such as Upwork have their own pre-defined legal terms of each contract, every employee should have a clear idea of your expectations, their rights, and the scope of work involved.

All of these essential bits of information can be included in your employment letter, but they should be further elaborated and agreed upon in a legally-binding contract. That way, both parties involved kick off the partnership knowing what to expect and what is expected of them.

Lack of training

Another common HR issue is offering regular growth opportunities to your employees, but not just in the form of a simple title. Every team needs a chance to improve their skills and master the latest techniques in their field of work, which is an investment that benefits both your employees and your entire business.

This is one of the key factors that contributes to the happiness of your employees, because they will recognize a chance to grow out of their current role without leaving their post at your company. Consider visits to various conferences and seminars, as well as in-house mentorship programs for employees of all experience levels.

Not matching skills and pay

Complying with the basic Modern Awards and the National Employment Standards is another pivotal piece of the employment puzzle that often gets neglected. As a consequence, many businesses end up with significant back pay claims, and even more importantly, with a severe blow to the reputation of your business.

Even if you do comply with the essential provisions of Modern Awards such as paying the needed rates for the specified position, you also need to ensure that other details of the contract are in accordance with the law. Are they getting paid for working after hours? Are they aware of their leave rights and other benefits? All of these and many other details should be regularly checked and updated depending on the position, seniority, and advancement of your employees.

No matter the size of your business and how long you’ve been in the game, keeping your HR practice up to date and in excellent working order is crucial for your entire company. There will always be roadblocks to tackle during the growth of your business, so make sure this aspect of its operations works smoothly so that you can devote your attention to other, more pressing matters of your company.

Guest Author, Raul Harman, s a B.Sc. in Innovative entrepreneurship and has a lot to say about innovations in all aspects of digital technology and online marketing.  While he’s not enjoying travel, football and great food, you can find him on Technivorz.com.