Tips for Effective Workplace Emergency Response and Evacuation Plans

There are so many different reasons why you need an emergency response and evacuation plan. For instance, while hurricanes can be anticipated, earthquakes usually can’t, which is why, if you’re at work at the moment, you would have to evacuate. In some workplaces, there are various hazardous substances used as materials in production. A major leak or contamination might also be a valid reason for evacuation. Then, there’s always the probability of fire or a public safety threat that comes in multiple categories. For all of these reasons, you need to be ready to act in order to save both lives and property. So, here are several tips for workplace emergency response and evacuation.

Natural disasters

When it comes to natural disasters, there are two major groups for you to consider. There are those that are easy to predict and those that are not. For instance, while floods and wildfires don’t gain massive proportions overnight, they might accelerate at the unprecedented pace, which might create a scenario in which you have to evacuate. A major heatwave, on the other hand, can be predicted and, if you determine that such a thing could pose as a health hazard, you can prevent the need for evacuation by simply giving everyone a day off. Sure, some may see this as a net loss for a company, yet, the ramifications of ignoring such a major threat are much worse.

Electrical and fire emergencies

While the probability of fire is something that can’t be ruled out even in the safest of the environments, there are some risk points which, if tended to, might make your office much more resistant to it. For instance, an untidy and cluttered office may not increase the chance of a fire hazard spawning but it could greatly accelerate the pace at which it advances. Combustible materials on the premises are yet another hazard but the greatest thread for your office safety, by far, is faulty equipment or a mistake on your electrical grid. This is why you need to have an emergency electrician on a speed-dial. Blown fuses, corroded wiring and tripped circuit breakers are just some of the potential hazards that could become a major problem, further down the line. On the other hand, sometimes the misuse of your electrical grid is the biggest problem. We’re talking about the scenario where extension cords and power points are overloaded. Either way, you could benefit greatly even from a simple assessment of the situation. Even if, at the moment, you don’t see the issue.

The leak of contaminated material

The biggest problem that could occur within your workplace is probably a leak or contamination by hazardous materials, which is probably the most important reason why you need an emergency response protocol in the first place. Saving lives comes first – however, this is a situation that can’t just pass on its own. With a public safety threat or a natural disaster, the threat will pass (eventually), whereas here, the area needs to be quarantined and cleansed. The best course of action, nonetheless, is to prevent this from ever happening. Instruct your employees on how to behave around these materials. Label everything properly and invest in chemical storage cabinets.

Public safety threats

Previously, we’ve discussed the probability of a public safety threat and they come in four major categories. First, you have a direct threat, where a target is announced in a clear and direct manner. These could sometimes be false and aimed towards making people panic, but it’s still never wise to ignore them. Then, you have an indirect threat. These can be much more dangerous, seeing as how the time and place of the attack tend to be vague. You’re left to guess where it’s going to happen, which might make you be in a state of raised alertness but not as ready to act. Then, there a veiled threat, which most often serves as a warning. It doesn’t even have to imply violence or hazardous misbehavior, yet, it’s never wise to ignore it altogether. Finally, there’s the conditional threat, which, out of the four, is probably the easiest one to predict. Either way, the group, organization or an individual that stands behind them is never a reliable factor in this situation. As we already said, they might just be inciting panic and there’s no guarantee that they will stick to the plan (it could all be just a decoy).

The evacuation plan itself depends on the layout and location of the office, the number of people on your staff and the rest of the safety measures installed in the place. However, it’s much easier, not to mention more efficient, to prepare the place and staff if you have a specific threat in mind. Of course, it goes without saying that you can’t prepare your team for every potential outcome. Still, by anticipating these four threats, you can already make a huge leap in the right direction.

Tracey Clayton is a working mom of three girls, passionate about traveling, marketing and everything tech related. Her motto is: “Live the life you love; love the life you live.”

Food Product Ready for the Shelf? 4 Packaging-Design Strategies

Only sell food products that are ready for the shelf. It takes some marketing skills to know what sells and good strategic skills to find out how to improve sales. Review 4 different ways to create effective packaging designs. 

Clear Design 

Your package design should clearly identify what type of product it contains, leaving no ambiguity. Also, create packaging with large fonts and images that can be seen by visually impaired people. There are millions of people who cannot see correctly either up close or far away. They are more likely to put the product back if they cannot read the labels. Also, larger images are seen as more visually appealing by shoppers. 

Bold Colors 

Some advertisers place human faces on their packages to appeal to different demographics of people. They want to appeal to people’s emotions by showing sad or happy faces. Those techniques work, but the most effective one of them all is the use of colors. Everyone enjoys looking at colors, and shoppers love buying colorful items. Use a variety of colors to represent an entire line of products. Some companies stick to one or two colors like black or gold to appeal to the visual senses. 

Eye-Catching Messages 

The best advertising is bold and catches the attention of viewers in a unique way. It’s the most effective because it gets the most amount of attention, whether it’s good or bad. Some companies and organizations are known to make their ads controversial to attract attention to certain social problems. The same idea of using specific words or images to attract people can be applied to designs for food packaging. You may also consider including messages that highlight consumer preferences. Whether your product is gluten-free or dairy-free, be sure your product undergoes nutritional profiling so you can back up these statements on the packaging.

Ease of Use 

Consumers always avoid products that are difficult to use. These include wine bottles that cannot be opened or closed easily, glass bottles that slip out of the hand too easily, and pump bottles that eject too easily. The problems may seem trivial, but companies can lose countless customers by not fixing problems with ease of use. No one wants to struggle with a complicated item when an easier, and cheaper, one is ready for purchase. 

Every product seller in every industry has many competitors to deal with. The growth of online businesses has made it harder to compete and win. Making bold packaging designs for your products is one way to grab the most attention from consumers. Make it a top priority to promote good advertising through packaging.

Guest author, Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her 3-year-old husky Snowball.  @LizzieWeakley

7 Foolproof Agility Factors That Accelerate Growth

Having a plan to help speed up your business operations and improve the overall functionality of your business is vital to getting a sizeable amount of growth and allowing a business to not only succeed but to also become the leader in your particular industry. You can always consider financing options like the business factoring, credit line financing etc. from trusted loan providers for a smooth business cash flow, but sticking to the predefined budget always helps. So what are some of the things that you need to consider when it comes to increasing speed and becoming more and more productive?

The following are some of the tips that the industry leaders use in their operations to become better at what they do.

Learn the Word No and Use it on a Regular Basis

It is okay for you to say no and to do so on a regular basis. Many people think that the word no is an evil word and that if they tell someone no that there will be some sort of fallout from it. The simple truth is that it is okay for you to not always feel like you have to say yes when you are asked to do something. Just because someone comes up with a particular idea does not mean you have to go with it. Learn to trust your gut a lot more and you will be just fine.

Set a goal that is your #1 goal

It is vital that you have a goal that is your biggest point. Too often a person will feel that they have to give equal attention to all of their goals. This is not the case, it is acceptable for you to simply find one goal and let that be the centre of your main focus. This will help you to not find yourself wandering all over the board with a variety of ideas. This allows you to stay focused on one single idea and avoids you taking away your focus for other ideas and projects. It may take a little time for you to look at all of the goals that you have, but you will need to narrow these down to a single one.

Don’t hesitate to become a partnership expert

If you feel that there is no real advantage to this, then simply look at Google and where they are as compared to where they were in 2005. This has come from the fact that they are willing to partner with other companies. The same can be said when talking about Amazon. These are companies that showed a willingness for them to partner with other companies to help and better their standing as well as help them to become more of a household name. the more partnerships that you build, then the stronger of a bond you will have in the business world. Taking a chance and building a partnership will go a long way in helping you to be in a better position with your business.

Take the time to create prototypes

It will be tempting to want to just get a product out to the public. This needs to be avoided and you need to make sure that you take the time to create test products that will allow any flaws to be seen before you send the final product out for people to buy. This is generally a great time for all of the bugs to be worked out and help you and your testers to see where some improvements can be made with your product. This may take a little more time for you to get things out to the public, but in the end, it will lead to you not having to send things back to the drawing board to fix any issues that were not discovered due to a lack of a test product.

Eliminate the budget from last year

Many people think that if they simply use the same budget that they had the previous year that everything will work out perfectly. That is a thought that needs to be left in the past as companies have budgets that swell and shrink based on their particular needs. If you are simply trying to use the budget from last year, you may discover that you are not able to get the same level of results as you had hoped. Understand that what worked last year may not be as valuable in the next year. You may even get to the point that you discover that you don’t need nearly as much as you did last year and can roll the savings over into another project or the next year’s budget.

End the use of a three-year plan

Planning is a good thing, but you need to also look at the fact that these three-year plans are not nearly as useful as they once were. Plans change and if you8 are locked on a three-year plan, then you will discover that this plan of action will not allow for you to make any concessions and your plans will be up in smoke before you even were able to get them going. A quarter by a quarter plan is a lot more effective and tends to have a lot better results.

Focus more on speed than you do costs

Those that look at the speed of their business as opposed to the costs will see that there is a big difference and this will generally lead to there being a small advantage to them being fast as opposed to cost mindful. There will be a lot of room for you to adapt and adjust this mindset if it is not working as well as you had hoped.

All of these ideas and tips are able to make a huge difference. No matter if you use just one of these or adopt all of them, you will see a drastic change in your business and see for yourself that the more effective you are, then the faster that you will be and the bigger growth you will experience.

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

How to Find Work and Jobs Abroad

The idea of working abroad and leaving the U.S. is one that appeals to a lot of people. Maybe you’re a new graduate and you’d like to go overseas and utilize your skills, or perhaps you’re further along in your career and you’d like to make a change.

The idea is similar to people who come to the U.S. for work. Many people come to the U.S. on temporary work visas, and then they’re able to send money back to their families using services like Remitly and develop valuable skills in the process.

The following are some ways employees in the U.S. can take a page out of foreign workers’ books and go abroad to work.

Learn the Language

The sooner and the more thoroughly you can work toward learning the language of where you want to work, the more appealing you are going to be to prospective employers. You don’t necessarily have to be fully fluent, but if you are bilingual in both English and the native language of where you’d like to go, it’s going to be much easier to find employment.

Some employees may have the plan to go abroad from the start so they’ll start studying a foreign language while they’re in college. If you didn’t do that, don’t worry. There are plenty of online courses and classes that can help you with your foreign language skills as you’re searching for employment.

Consider U.S.-Based Employers

When you want to work abroad, you might automatically start looking at companies that primarily operate where you’d like to go. That’s fine, but there are also plenty of companies in the U.S. that have a reputation for sending employees abroad for a period of time.

For example, Deloitte is one such company. They have partnerships in countries throughout the world, and while their headquarters is in New York City, they also often send people on international placements. You don’t have to be a top executive, either. They send everyone including interns and entry-level employees abroad if they’re interested.

Another example is HSBC, which has an international management program.

Frequent Travel Jobs

Even if you don’t find employment with a company that will place you overseas for a year or two, there are jobs where it’s all about travel. One example is the Uber Launching Team, and another is Airbnb. These companies are known for having positions that are almost entirely travel-based, and they may even offer travel-based perks and benefits to employees.

Finally, you might explore a working holiday visa as well. A working holiday visa is something that people aged 18 to 30 or sometimes 18 to 35 may be eligible for, depending on the country. These options let people work abroad in different positions around the world as they’re traveling. You will have to show that you have a desirable skillset to get one of these visas, and you may need to show your resume as well.

It’s definitely possible to work abroad in different settings and ways, so if it’s a dream you have, doing some research can help you make it happen.

Smart Space Management: Transform Your Home into a Proper Working Environment

Home trumps work any day of the week. So, logically a home office has more benefits than any other working environment. There is no commuting, no boss watching your every move, and balancing professional and private life is a breeze. Setting up an office at home may seem difficult, but with careful planning and research, you can save up money, increase productivity, and in the long run, be much happier with your job.

Things to Consider

When deciding the place of your future home office there are a couple of things worth considering. The space needs to be isolated from the rest of the home, and generally in a less active part of the house. This will significantly minimize distractions, since you want to focus on your job, and separate home and work hours. Also, your personal requirements and affiliations, as well as the nature of your work will guide the decision making process. So, creating a workshop next to the dining room, probably wouldn’t be the best solution, or having the office next to the laundry room.

Setting up Shop

Conserve space by changing the purpose of less frequently used rooms in the house and turn them into your home office. Storage rooms like the attic, basement, and garage can be easily transformed into a spacious, insulated working environment. Another way to go is to make a dual-purpose room. An extra guest room, and even the dining room are great due to their infrequent use. And by making small adjustments to the furniture, like adding pull-out couch, or getting a larger dining room table, you can have re-furbish the room to accommodate all your needs. Also, it is possible to find appropriate appliances online, like small fridge, which can complete the office design.

2

Office Comfort

Comfort is the main idea behind a stay-at-home office. Consider that you might put in long hours in front of the desk, so buy a chair that is enjoyable, but also drives you to work. Depending on the work, a desk should inspire and be able to handle all the tools of your trade (computer, printer, books, paper, etc.). Apart from being comfortable, your furniture should also be ergonomic. The chair should support your back, and have enough height, so your arms are parallel to the desk. And by borrowing, buying secondhand or re-purposing furniture, you can cut costs and invest in other aspects of your business.

feng shui office desk Luxury Ways To Feng Shui Your Desk

Light up Work

Your office should also have plenty of light. A well-lit room will make for an efficient working environment that is motivational, but also healthy. Utilize natural light sources as much as possible, whenever possible. By positioning the desk next to the window, so that the light hits you from the right-hand side, you will get the greatest amount of light, decrease shadows on your work area, and tone down outside distractions. Although natural light is great, it is in short supply. Although many rooms have an overhead light, a desk lamp should be an essential at your work station. Combining it with other light sources will mean that your work space is always well-lit and you don’t exert your eyes.

Break Time

Depending on space, create a relaxing comfy zone within the office. This will enable you to think, research, read, and plan, when you are not actively working. The corner will also provide a great break area. Get yourself a comfy armchair, or a couch, and soft rug will feel great on your feet when you take your shoes off. You should also include a lamp and a coffee table for those serene coffee breaks.

Office Storage

Storage is an issue with any office, so be sure to get creative and organized. Big stacks of paper, files, and office supplies, are not very inspirational, and the best way to removed them from sight is to put them into a closet. Another great trick to minimize office clutter is to store the non-essentials in a different room, such as a basement. On the other hand, keep the essential documents near you, by putting up shelves and storing them there.

In the end, the home office tops a regular cubical any day, so make it an enjoyable and motivational working area. And if you do it right, you will save money and nerves, manage your own hours, and ultimately be your own boss, working from the comfort of your own home.

Tracey Clayton is a working mom of three girls, passionate about traveling, marketing and everything tech related. Her motto is: “Live the life you love; love the life you live.”

 

 

Give Consumers What They Want With These Ecommerce Trends

The future of online retail isn’t just evolving, it is changing at an extremely rapid rate, a rate which many ecommerce owners are struggling to keep up with. It wasn’t that long ago that buying things online was considered remarkable and there were only a few companies out there that would provide this service. Some of them are even Nowadays, eCommerce sales are in the trillions of dollars, and it doesn’t look like they’re going to stop increasing any time soon.

Today, we look at the future of ecommerce with great optimism. The guys at Subscriptionly put together an infographic showing how brands both big and small are making improvements to their services, and making the entire online shopping process easier, more efficient, and quicker.

Industry experts have been following the movement of eCommerce since its beginning, and by also looking at consumer wants and needs, have come up with some predictions for the future of this industry.

One of the biggest changes that is set to come about in the near future is the rise of digital currency. Already, people all over the globe have started to use cryptocurrencies as a form of online payment method. As an immediate result of this, a few established ecommerce stores have started to accept certain cryptocurrencies, most commonly Bitcoin.

Over time, it is looking likely that the use of digital currencies will become more commonplace, therefore, people may favor stores that will let them pay using this method.

There are many perks with using this way of payment. For example, the transaction fees are much lower than credit card or PayPal fees.

Another benefit that people will be interested in is the fraud prevention that comes with it. All transactions that take place using digital currencies are recorded on a blockchain, a sort of digital ledger, making them safe and irreversible.

Speed is also a positive that comes with using digital currencies. When using a credit card to make a transaction, it will sometimes take hours or even days for the transaction to process. Some digital currencies are a lot quicker and could end up saving the user and store owner a lot of time.

If you are an ecommerce store owner, it may be worth taking the time to look into the various benefits of accepting cryptocurrencies as a form of payment.

You can find out more about this as well as various other trends that are set to change the course of ecommerce in the infographic below.

future-of-ecommerce-0607