Why health incentives are a work perk you shouldn’t overlook

When it comes to considering a new job, most people think first of benefits such as salary or paid time off. They’ll use those as the only measurement when considering whether to take what’s offered, or whether they should push harder when they bargain.

But here’s the thing: There are other tangibles that make just as much of an impact on your daily life as do salary and vacation or sick time. For example, what about not ever needing that sick time because your employer has helped you do whatever it takes to be as healthy as possible? Have you ever considered the idea of negotiating health benefits in order to achieve that end?

If you haven’t, you should. Health incentives—whatever you have and whatever you can negotiate—can help you not only feel better but reduce your out-of-pocket costs. Here’s what to consider as you review them.

 

Is Your Business Friendly Towards the Environment?

Whether in business for many years or starting one, how friendly are you with the environment?

In a day and age when there is more focus on how man impacts the environment, it is to your benefit to protect it.

That said your business can take a positive role in this effort each day.

So, is your business friendly towards the environment?

Ways You Can Contribute to a Healthier Environment

In looking to be a responsible business, here are ways you can help contribute to the environment:

  1. Recycling – Does your company recycle all kinds of different products? If you answered no, how about changing this moving forward? Recycling is a great means to help keep the environment cleaner. For example, you should have a place in your office where employees can recycle things. These would include papers, bottles and cans. It is quite easy to put some bins throughout the office for such matters. You might even have a contest each month to see which employee can come up with the most recycling. In doing this, you encourage your team to do their part for a better environment.
  2. Solar energy – What is your office building made of? If you had the chance to, were solar panels installed at the time of its construction? In the event you are building a new office complex, would you go solar if you have the option to? By using the energy from the sun, you can power your complex and save money on utilities in the process. As a business owner, saving money wherever you can should always be on your mind. You can also do your part to better keep the environment clean. If learning about solar and where and how to build an office, reach out to companies like Precision XYZ. Such brands can educate you on how best to make for a safe and money-saving office site.
  3. Education – While you never force workers into anything, do all you can to encourage them. As an example, provide them with reading materials and even a video or two to show during a company meeting. It may be a case where some employees want to do their part, yet they do not quite know how to go about it.

When you decided to go into business years ago or recently, you may not have had the environment on your mind in thinking where your next office will be built.

That said more business owners are stepping up to the plate in this all-important cause. As a result, it is opening more minds up on how they can do their part.

Take time to go online and see how your business could contribute to a better environment.

Not only will you and your employees be the beneficiaries of this, but others will too.

So, think about your role, the role of your employees, and then get to planning how you will all make a difference.

In the end, you might be quite pleased with what you come up with.

And you know the environment will be too.

About the Author: Dave Thomas writes about business topics on the web.

 

 

7 Things That Can Kill Your Company Culture

Every company develops a unique culture that defines how people feel and behave as they work. For the most part, business owners and managers take the lead in creating a culture that reflects their values.

A study published by the Gallup organization revealed that having highly engaged employees resulted in 10% increase in customer satisfaction. Research also shows that the productivity of workers can jump by 12 percent when they feel satisfied. Such efficiency gains reduce the cost of human resources and directly impact your bottom line.

Build a healthy, satisfying work environment for your business by avoiding the following killers of your company culture.

1. Not Hiring Team Players

Some people just don’t work well with others. You might even use labels, such as “jerks” to describe them. They constantly criticize their boss and try to spread discontent. If you have this type of person on your staff, now is the time to weed them out.

Meanwhile, do everything possible to ensure that you only hire team players. Try to screen your applicants by their demeanor during interviews as well as feedback from their personal references.

2. Bureaucracy

A multitiered hierarchy can kill your company culture. Seemingly endless meetings, PowerPoints, emails, and “edicts” from upper-level management can waste time and leave your team members feeling powerless.

Help people do their job by only involving them in meetings that directly impact their work. Also, ensure that each worker directly reports to only one supervisor or manager. Empower your employees to innovate to improve quality and efficiency.

3. Stress

Deadlines are only one of the many sources of stress that can kill your company culture. You need to counter the pressure to promptly complete projects with sensible work-related practices. For instance, encourage your staff to take breaks, drink water and eat healthy food.

Fantastic managers periodically check on their direct reports to answer questions and ensure that work proceeds smoothly. If you leave your employees without the answers they need, they will feel stressed, especially as due dates approach.

4. The Boss’s Way or the Highway

As a leader, you should welcome diverse perspectives and opinions, even when they contradict your own. Furthermore, by emphasizing results rather than tasks, you can help your team develop independence and confidence.

When you let everyone participate in decision-making, you help them have a sense of value and belonging. Your employees will begin to identify themselves with the firm and always look for ways to improve the way they work.

5. Lack of “Beyond the Paycheck” Motivation

Some employees only show up to work because they want a paycheck. These workers show little intrinsic motivation and will rarely do anything outside of their job description. Such workers can kill your culture and negatively impact everything your firm does.

Engage your workforce by providing perks and incentives that transcend payday. Motivate your employees by providing each of them with a clear path to advancement. Also, consider offering non-traditional work arrangements such as remote work and flexible scheduling.

6. “Keep Your Head Down and Get it Done” Attitude

Employees who focus on doing their work without providing feedback can cripple your business. You need people on your team who will share their ideas and ask questions in ways that stimulate innovation.

To create engaged employees, never ridicule a suggestion and insist on practicing an open communications policy. By creating a safe, trusting business culture, you harness the thoughts, experiences and ingenuity of your employees for the common good.

7. Micromanagement and Lack of Trust

Healthy relationships among your team members require you to trust them. However, in many companies, business owners and managers communicate distrust by micromanaging everything their workers do.

Avoid closed-door meetings and suspicious whispers in hallways that make employees feel as though you are deciding their futures without them. Instead, treat everyone with respect and assume the role of a mentor or coach rather than an overlord.

In the end, pay attention to all the feedback you receive, including from employees who leave your business. Take your employees seriously and treat them right. By building a healthy company culture, you build a strong reputation for your firm and a solid foundation for success.

Jen McKenzie is a freelance writer from New York, NY. She is fascinated by all things having to do with words,business, education and cutting-edge. When Jennifer is not busy writing, she enjoys taking long walks and spending time with her two pets Brando & Marlon. You can reach Jennifer @jenmcknzie

Staying Fit And Productive When You Work From Home

Working from home has an astonishing potential for increasing productivity, with telecommuters more likely to go above and beyond expectations, while taking shorter breaks and fewer sick days. Those who work from home claim that they find it easier to concentrate and have more energy throughout the workday. However, getting the most out of your time requires you to come up with a schedule and set of practices that allow for the greatest output. Staying fit and healthy ensure that you retain the mental energy required to excel, whether as an employee or when running your own business.

When and how to take breaks

At a traditional office job, you may be assigned a set time to take a break. This could be a legal requirement or an attempt by your boss to boost productivity. At home, it can be tempting to skip breaks and get through everything as quickly as possible. However, this will ultimately lead to you working more slowly.

Regular breaks help the brain to focus when in work mode. You should ideally take a 5-10 minute break each hour. During this time, give your eyes a rest by looking at something in the distance and get your blood flowing with some moderate exercise. You’ll return to work refreshed and energized.

Maintaining energy levels

Staying healthy, while a good aim in itself, is essential for productivity. Start the day right with a healthy breakfast. Oats, fruit and low-fat proteins like eggs or yogurts offer slow release energy, which will keep you feeling full throughout the day so that you can spend less time eating and more time focusing on business. Tiredness slows down your reaction speed and ability to concentrate on and complete tasks, so a trip to the coffee machine for a cup of joe before you sit down to work is recommended.

Throughout the workday, choose healthy snacks such as seeds, nuts, protein bars, and fruit. This will leave you feeling full and won’t lead to a crash in energy levels later on in the way that sugary snacks do. Also be sure to keep a bottle of water on your desk, as hydration aids concentration and reduces fatigue.

Protecting your posture

Sitting for hours at a time isn’t good for your health and certainly isn’t what humans evolved for. Invest in an ergonomic chair and desk so that you aren’t putting any strain on your body as you work. You should consider working while standing up if you feel that you are sitting for too long at a time. When you are in brainstorming mode, walk around your house to keep muscles moving and blood flowing. This will stimulate your creative juices and prevent the onset of bodily aches and pains.

Working from home is the best thing you can do for productivity, but it requires some thought and discipline. Start the day right with a morning routine that involves a healthy breakfast, then take regular breaks throughout the day. Moderate exercise keeps energy levels high and prevents muscular pain which can harm productivity. Follow these tips to reach your potential each and every day.

Guest Author, Jenny Holt, is a former HR executive turned freelance writer, who now spends more time with her young family and ageing, but ever eager Labrador, Rover.

Keeping Remote Employees Happy And Productive

Keeping your online team happy, engaged, and productive doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, two-thirds of managers say their employees actually become more productive once they go remote, SurePayroll reveals. Being in control of their own schedule — and eliminating the daily commute — gives remote employees more time and flexibility, which increases motivation and productivity. However, remote teams still require conscientious management. You want them to feel valued and part of the team even though they’re not on-site. With the following tips, you can cultivate a happy, engaged, and successful online team.

Communicate effectively

Communication is key in every aspect of business — and online teams are no exception. In fact, poor communication is one of the prime reasons employees get frustrated in their jobs. It also leads to feelings of isolation which means employees are less likely to contribute to the team. The solution? Effective communication channels. Let your team know which situations require video chats or phone calls and which situations can be dealt with via online chat. Email is still useful, but not always ideal as messages can be missed. With online chat, team members can instantly ask questions and get answers if they need guidance. This is great for productivity since they’re able to continue with their work right away rather than having to hang around for an email response.  

Define expectations and goals

Although they’re not in the same building as you, remote employees need the same amount of guidance and direction as you give you regular ones. In order to encourage your online team to work efficiently and independently, you need to be clear on the specifics of their working arrangement. Defining the expectations you have for your remote team — preferably with them being mutually agreed upon — will help your employees stay on track with their work. This also includes explaining your mission and goals for the company. Your remote team will therefore feel included in the company culture, but be comfortable and efficient working elsewhere.

Recognize great work

If your remote team does great work, make sure it doesn’t go unnoticed! Failing to give positive feedback where due can leave employees feeling undervalued and even increase your turnover risk. Appreciating exceptional work can motivate your team to maintain that standard. You can also use bonuses or raises as an incentive. It can help to make the recognition public on company-wide channels, so your other employees are informed about the valuable work the remote team does each day. Your online team will then continue confident their hard work is going noticed and appreciated.

A productive online team can be a huge asset to your business, so make sure you take the steps to make yours the best it can be. While creating an engaged and motivated group of remote employees can be a challenge, once you put the above appropriate systems into place, it’s more than possible to achieve. Once you get into the swing of things, you’ll soon have a motivated, engaged, and high-functioning remote team.

Guest Author, Jenny Holt, is a former HR executive turned freelance writer, who now spends more time with her young family and ageing, but ever eager Labrador, Rover.

4 Ways Business Managers Can Better Connect with Their Employees

The most effective managers are those that make it look effortless. Connecting with your employees is the best way to become more effective at your job. Here are some techniques that you can use to help you better connect with your employees.

Practice Open Door Relationships

Almost every manager will say that they have an open door policy. Employees know that some managers are just saying this instead of practicing it. You have to practice what you preach. Take the time to listen to what your employees have to say. Be sympathetic and try to help them brainstorm solutions to their problems. You may find that they’re more willing to be open with you in return. This could help you to be aware of ongoing issues within your employee group.

Provide an Outlet

There will be times in which your employees need to vent. Let them know that this is okay as long as they’re respectful of their coworkers. Another venue to provide them with an outlet is to host an event or company party. This will allow everyone to get out of their element and socialize. Look into using a rental company like Party People Rentals & Sales to help you with your party needs. It will give you more time to focus on planning activities instead of the logistics.

Be a Mentor

Give your employees an opportunity to grow into a new position if they’re interested. You can help them achieve their goals by providing mentoring and helping to set goals. This will give you a chance to have a meaningful conversation with them about their motivations and desires. You may find that you have more in common with your employees than you had previously thought. This can garner you more respect with other employees.

Get down with It

Some of the most effective managers are those that understand all aspects of the job. Lead by example and pitch in if someone is out sick or there is a large project looming. If employees see that you’re willing to help out when needed, they view you as more approachable. This may be all that you need in order to start connecting with them. A manager that’s willing to get into the trenches tends to be more respected and trustworthy.

The first place to start when connecting with your employees is to make it personal. Having a vested interest in their success will show them that you care about their well-being and livelihood.

Guest author Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake.

 

The Long Game And Short-Term Concerns: The Ways To Help Minimize Business Weakness

It is an ongoing process, understanding your weaknesses. It can be quite eye-opening to discover what you once thought was a strength, but is actually a weakness in the grand scheme of things. Because running a business requires you, in essence, to clear new paths, to push new boundaries, and to continually explore the horizons, it’s these processes that leave you open for attack. This is why so many young companies refuse to take the risk, either because of financial implications, or they believe that playing it safe will translate to a better version of the long game. But, it is vital, during the infancy of your business, to have a spring clean of sorts, to find out what the best ways are to go about this, and how can you fix yourself up and move on?

The SWOT Analysis

It’s a very simple way to start out. A SWOT analysis (short for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) is a structure that can easily help you to break down the problems. Put simply, you are able to find out what you do really well first, and what you don’t do well second. The overriding idea of taking this structure is to gain an overall appreciation of your business, not just internally, but how you fit under the larger business industry magnifying glass. This is quite a task, but as soon as you start to break down issues such as business mergers, supplier problems, as well as the pesky technology developments, then you can begin to come up with an action plan to ensure your business does better. It certainly sounds like a big task, because it is. But by putting yourself and your business through the wringer, and going through every detail with a fine tooth comb, there are going to be some harsh realities to face up to.

Analyze The Data

After a SWOT analysis has been completed, it’s time to look at the results you gathered. It all depends on how you go about completing this analysis; you may want to open it up to your employees, so they can give you their true opinions from the ground floor. Beware with this, depending on the ship you run, people may not feel inclined to come forward. If you are encouraging honesty, you had best be prepared for a wakeup call. It’s one of those issues that can be incredibly thorny because it can result in a lot of repressed emotions bubbling up to the surface. In going about this approach, what one person views as a strength, the other might view as a weakness, and this is absolutely fine, because it really lays bare what your employees think about the business and how it operates. Pleasing your employees can be a difficult task, but sometimes, these issues can boil down to something that is easily fixable. Technology issues or poor organization are two things that can be fixed with an action plan, as well as a proper information technology security policy. Luckily, there are various resources available now that covers both issues, if you were to visit www.bswllc.com you can see one example of an organization that implements various plans of attack to save a business, from the productivity aspect, to the technological issues. Analyzing the data is one of the difficult approaches to undertake, because to do it properly requires time, effort, and money. And if you are concerned that it is going to be a major investment, it is far better for you to implement it one bit at a time. Doing it this way will help keep up your employees’ morale, because nobody likes major change, but it’s important to keep your eye on the bigger picture. Sometimes, analyzing your weaknesses can bring up results that are a little too close to home…

Look In The Mirror…

Sometimes, fault can lie with us and us alone. And this is a very devastating thing to admit to ourselves. There are many entrepreneurs that feel that, in order for the business to fly, that they have to exercise total control over every single aspect. But this does one of two things, firstly it doesn’t help you in times of emergency, because you are the fundamental card in the proverbial house of cards, and so the business will fall apart, but secondly, it communicates to your employees and your deputies, that you don’t trust them. So how can you get past this? If you look on www.tonyrobbins.com there is the story of Usha Patel who took the opportunity to identify her own individual strengths and use these to benefit the business. Essentially, it’s taking the SWOT analysis structure and turning it on yourself. But if this feels like an incredibly psychoanalytical approach, you are heading in the right direction. In any business, whether you are running a store, a factory, or a trendy startup, the problem can sometimes live with you and your own attitudes, not just to motivation, but to the business as a whole. We are all guilty of feeling overprotective over our babies, and this is something we all need to learn how to relinquish. It can take some time, but if you are the weak cog in the business, it’s far better for you to fess up and make positive steps in the right direction. It’s not pretty, but it’s essential.

We can view our business in terms of a month to month progress, or we can look at it as the long game. The long game is a far more productive mindset to embed, not just in your employees, but in yourself. And so, when it comes to addressing potential weaknesses, as well as the very tangible ones, it creates an attitude within the company to do well. Emotional investment is something that can yield positive and negative results, and whether you are doing a SWOT analysis, or you are ready to hear from your employees what they really think of the business and how it is run, consider it to be a stepping stone to a much better environment and a far more positive business.