Last Minute Holiday Gift Ideas for Your Employees

It’s the most wonderful time of the year again, and you know that your hard-working employees deserve at least a small token of your appreciation. But, we also know how busy and stressful December is in the world of business, so it’s not unusual to find yourself heading to the office Christmas party and realize that you completely forgot about holiday gifts for your employees. But fret not! Here’s a list of cool last minute gifting ideas to save the day and help you show your employees that you value them.

Baked goods

Who doesn’t like cupcakes, pies, or Danish? Even if somebody actually doesn’t, then that person must be a doughnut lover. So, instead of racking your brains trying to come up with something unique and fancy, it’s a better idea to try and remember what your employees like to gorge on during their lunch break and hand them an assortment of their favorite baked goods in nice, festive wrapping. Sometimes there’s no need to go over the top when it comes to gift-giving, and a box of, say, blueberry muffins can do the trick.

A desktop terrarium

Let’s face it, offices can be stuffy and gloomy places which is why a decorative desktop terrarium makes a perfect addition to your employees’ attempts to personalize, brighten up, and add a touch of nature to their workspace. What’s great about these miniature greenhouses is the fact that the plants in them don’t actually require too much nurturing or natural light. So even if your busy employees, immersed in their everyday work forget to water them from time to time, no biggie. All these resistant plants require in order to thrive is to be misted every two to three weeks and some indirect light.

A Christmas gift card

When you want to get your employees something that they really want or need and you have no idea what that would be, then simply give them prepaid Christmas gift cards, and make sure that yours will be their favorite gift this holiday season. Every year, thousands of gifts are returned because people either don’t like the choice or they already have the same thing, so this is the best way to avoid disappointing your employees by presenting them with unwanted items. Additionally, gift cards are suitable for any budget, and they can be used in a number of stores.

A digital notebook

Writing important notes down is very useful, but it’s not exactly practical as people tend to lose post-it notes or torn pieces of paper, which is why a digital notebook is the right thing. Namely, this smart gadget allows you to jot down your thoughts, ideas, or lists and it stores them in the cloud where you can access them anytime you want. Your employees will be thankful for this amazing, and yet comparatively affordable gift as they will be able to clean up and declutter their desks.

A Shiatsu massage seat cushion

Sitting at your desk for more than 8 hours a day can put a lot of strain on our health. To help your employees stay healthy and productive, get them a relaxing Shiatsu massage seat cushion that will be just the remedy their sore backs need. Nothing says “Thank you for all your hard work” better than this portable massage device that they can use anywhere – in their car, on the couch, or even at the office.

A heating lunch box

Some people prefer home-cooked meals to fast food, but the problem is that their food gets cold by the lunch break. This can be an issue, especially if you don’t have a kitchen at the office. That’s why a heating lunch box is an amazing idea that will allow your employees to enjoy healthy and delicious meals while they’re at work. This useful device renders a microwave oven completely unnecessary.

A desktop punching bag

Working at the office can be stressful, so a desktop punching bag that will let your employees blow off some steam when someone (maybe even you) steps on their toes should be a mandatory piece of office equipment. This convenient gift can be a part of stress and anger management strategy in your company, and help people who work for you vent their frustration and have some fun at the same time.

The gift of words

Never underestimate the power of warm, sincere, heartfelt words. A personalized and carefully crafted thank you note, preferably accompanied by a box of chocolates or some cool merch, will definitely hit the spot with your employees. Don’t forget to mention what a pleasure it is to work with them and how you appreciate all their efforts.

Creative holiday gifts don’t have to cost you a pretty penny and yet they can make your employees happy and show them that you care.

 

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Guest Author is Alex Williams is a journalism graduate, and a rookie blogger trying to find my luck. Blogs are the perfect opportunity for presenting yourself to wider audience, getting the chance to showcase my expertise and receiving recognition. Alex is a regular contributor at Bizzmark Blog

Getting a Leadership Buy-In For Your #LMS

As an L&D professional, you probably know that Learning Management Systems can truly diversify your eLearning system.

If you already have employee profiles handy, focus points of the program ready, content topics worked out and even a prospective LMS, congratulations! You’re off to a great start. (If not, then don’t worry. You can find out how to do it step-by-step here)

You’re probably very enthusiastic about your brand new training initiative and can’t wait to implement it. So, what’s the next step?

Getting a leadership buy-in, of course.

However, convincing your decision makers on investing in a new learning technology is not a walk in the park. If you think that you have it covered with your list of ‘reasons why the initiative is important’ and ‘how it will boost productivity of all employees’, then Stop.

You may not have realized it, but you have been focusing solely on how to sellthe initiative.

Have you ever come across salespeople who are fast-talking and pushy. Salespeople who are so engrossed in the merits of their product that they completely forget to listen to what the customer wants and answer his/her questions. These customers may feel that the salesperson is trying to force them into giving in to the product.

You don’t want to be that salesperson and jeopordize your initiative do you?

Take a step back and put yourself in the shoes of the customer — or victim — of a hard sell. You would probably be left thinking:

“Instead of talking, listen to what I need first. Find out what my pain points are. Then we can start talking about how you could help me.”

Now that you know what you are doing wrong, let’s focus on how to do it right by focusing on these key steps:

  1. Listen

It’s not that difficult to figure out what your leaders want. Check your company’s website, your CEO’s tweets, press releases, company newsletters, and internal memos. Do your leaders want to cut down costs? Or perhaps transform the company culture? Maybe, they want to expand into new markets? Or maybe, they have multiple goals in mind.

If your LMS powered initiative directly addresses one or more of these goals, that’s great. Move on to step 2. If your training does not directly address a stated company goal, search for a connect that shows how your training can indirectly compliment a goal.

For example, if your CEO wants to cut down costs and your LMS is capable of improving customer service, do some research into how improved customer service results in reduced costs of handling customer complaints.

  1. Look for a Champion

Search for a senior leader outside of your department to champion the initiative. The mere presence of an influencer on your side would boost your credibility and chances of getting a funding. It would also bridge the gap between the senior management and your L&D department.

  1. Ask Questions

Once you’ve selected your potential champion, discuss your training initiative with her. Be on the lookout for any pain points that she mentions. Ask her about the obstacles she sees to implementing your initiative, any changes she could suggest etc.

  1. Build a Team

Reach out to HR professionals, IT professionals, procurement professionals etc to help evaluate and select the best LMS for your initiative. Having multiple votes on your side always helps in the long run.

  1. Identify Key Metrics

Even though the main focus of your strategy is to gain a buy-in for your initiative, it is vital to prepare for what happens once your initiative has been accepted and put into effect. Your leaders will want to see a clear return on their investment and it’s your job to figure out a way to measure it. To do this, define metrics for your success prior to implementing it. You can use metrics such as cost savings, increase in sales, reduction in training costs, improvement in customer satisfaction etc.

  1. Develop a Change Management Strategy

Introducing a new technology always requires some level of change management. For eg, in some organizations, the introduction of an LMS involves moving away from paper-based training to eLearning. With a decent change management strategy in place, your decision makers will be more willing to accept the introduction of a new learning technology into the organization.

Change management for an LMS implementation begins with pulling two teams together — your IT team and your LMS administrator team.

IT Team

Work with your LMS vendor to ensure that your IT team knows the in and outs of the new LMS. Including aspects like integration, troubleshooting, implementation, data transfer, user transfer, content transfer etc.

Admins

Your LMS administrators will most likely come from your HR /Training department. These guys would be on the front line of your training initiative. Arrange multiple demos of multiple LMSes with all admins to know which LMS suits them best. You need to make sure that they know how to operate the LMS perfectly as they would be the ones training content authors, trainers, HRs, managers and end users.

Delivering Your Case

Now that all of this is done, approach your executives with the help of your champion(s) and present your case for your LMS powered training initiative.

If you receive the green flag for your initiative, good job! Inculcate the habit of reporting to your champion and to the leadership team at timely intervals.

Even if your plan was not approved, keep your seniors informed about changes in the organization which may suggest that it’s time to give your LMS a shot again.

Guest Author, Mahati Vanka, is a Business Development Manager at LearnBee, which enables companies to train their workforce with the help of cloud-based learning solutions. Drop a line to me at mahati@learnbee.co if you are want to inculcate a culture of learning in your team.

The article was originally published on Nectar, where LearnBee’s top team contributes actively to Enterprise Learning.

Are You Promoting Vehicle Safety?

Whether you build cars and trucks or sell them, driving home the message of vehicle safety never gets old.

How do you make sure consumers are aware of the different safety features you offer? Even more important, how do you entice them to use such features?

Although you do not want to put fear in the minds of drivers, you do want them cognizant of potential dangers.

So, are you promoting vehicle safety?

Using Your Website to Drive More Business in Your Direction

Pre-Internet, builders and dealers relied on ads and word-of-mouth marketing to make sales. Although those still work to this day, the web changed how making and selling vehicles works.

For example, do you know how backup camera systems offer more safety in the vehicles they ride in?

With such a system, drivers are able to do the following:

  • See other drivers – Even a small fender-bender has potential to cause problems. Not only is there damage to one or both vehicles, but injuries can occur at slow speeds. The backup camera system allows the driver going in reverse to see oncoming vehicles.
  • See pedestrians – It is not uncommon for pedestrians to dart in and out of traffic. This is especially the case when they are in crowded parking lots such as stores and malls. The backup camera system assists the driver in locating those that he or she may otherwise miss.
  • See stationery poles and other objects – Stationery objects can present problems too. Hitting a pole or other such object backing up can cause more than a scratch or two to your vehicle. That backup camera system will show you how close you are getting to the object before hitting it.

In using the Internet to promote the brand of vehicles you make or sell, be sure to have a website that offers:

  • Easy maneuverability – If your site is hard to maneuver around, do you expect visitors to stay long? Review your site to make sure you do not have broken links, pages that load too slow, and copy that is as free of errors.
  • Contact info – There is a good chance some visitors to your site have questions about a vehicle and safety. As a result, be sure that you provide them with easy to find contact information. Nothing irritates an online visitor more than when they have to hunt for information.

Socializing the Vehicle Safety Experience

You also want to be sure that you do not miss out on all that social media offers your brand.

Whether a vehicle maker or one selling cars and trucks; use social media to the fullest extent. This will allow you to reach out to the millions of consumers spending time on social media sites.

Among some of the best ones to drive forward with:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Google+

You should also incorporate images and even videos into your posts.

If promoting safety like lane-departure warning systems, include a link to a video. This helps potential buyers of your brand can see how the system can help prevent accidents.

Last, don’t be afraid to interact with consumers when they leave feedback or question on any of your pages.

By having dialogue with consumers, you are more driven to make sales.

 

8 Simple Motivational Tips to Get Ahead in Business

When I started my first online business – self motivation was a bit of a problem. I hadn’t been someone who’d had problems meeting deadlines or getting work done in previous jobs when I was working for someone else – but with no clear deadlines in place for a lot of what I was going to do – it became harder. Self-motivation is one of the hardest things to master when it comes to setting up your own business – but if done right, it could help you take a step up to the next level.

If you’re looking to get motivated so you can make your business-life a success, hopefully these 8 simple tips will help you like they did me.

1. Do the hardest task first

A lot of people start small to build up momentum. While this can work, I found that I was often really just putting off the hardest, most important tasks. Do them first, then they won’t play on your mind for the rest of the week, and your other (easier) tasks should fall into place.

2. Find a dedicated workspace

It’s all very well working from home – but try not to work in front of the TV or in a room you use for loads of other things. That’s an in-built distraction factory you could do without. I actually started renting a little remote office-space in my local area. I didn’t use it all the time – but when I knew I needed to completely cut out distractions I’d work from there. It made it feel like I was going to work again, which I think gave me the will to act a bit more professionally and get more done.

3. Have a clear plan

Plans are important. If you know exactly what you’ve got to do that week – you’ll be able to stick to it much more easily. Don’t simply do tasks as and when they come – not only is it easier to forget things, it’s also easier to ignore important stuff.

Work through your plan in order, even if you don’t really feel like doing one of the tasks when you get to it. Doing it and not putting it off will actually make you feel better and increase confidence, making the next tasks even easier.

4. Take regular breaks

Working solid through the day isn’t a great idea. Give yourself a break to walk around and get a drink. Just make sure the break isn’t something like watching a bit of TV, where a few minutes could turn into a few hours of procrastination. Grabbing a bit of food and a drink is fine, but don’t use your breaks as an excuse to do something major that’s going to take more than 5-10 minutes. When you’ve built up a head of steam in your work, you don’t want to lose that because you’ve been doing something else for too long. But you also don’t want to burn-out through being too overworked.

5. Avoid distractions

This one kind of ties into a couple that we’ve already looked at – but distractions are bad news.

I used to take my laptop to the local coffee store and do some work there. While I thought the change of environment and extra caffeine was helping me – I was wrong. There was always something going on, something to look at, and something to interact with – and plenty of noise, too. Coffee shops might be fine when you’ve got a few light and easy tasks – but not if you’ve got serious work that needs doing. Leave them as a treat towards the end of the working week when you tie up some loose ends, rather than a regular thing.

If you’ve got a roommate – make sure they know when you’re working so they don’t disturb you. Switch the TV off, and avoid social media. If you use it for work, fine, but there’s a fine-line between productive social media marketing and an excuse to procrastinate. Don’t log-in to your personal accounts.

6. Hold yourself accountable

Tell people what you’re going to do so that they’ll hold you to it. Since you don’t have a boss – give yourself other people to make you accountable to.

7. Listen to music at the right time

You probably don’t want to be listening to music if you’ve got something important to think about. But if you’re on to your easier tasks and what to lighten the mood and give yourself a change of pace – some music could do the job. But don’t let the music become a distraction.

8. Meditate before you get started

5-10 minutes of light meditation at the beginning of the day really helped clear my mind from distractions and get me in a relaxed mood for working. I was no meditation expert – I just looked up a couple of newbie guides online – but it helped get my head in the right space for work and it’s something I continue to use regularly. Give it a try for a week or two, even if it’s not something you’d normally go in for.

 

About the author

These tips were by Keith Elton. Keith has years of experience in the business world and enjoys sharing his motivation tips with those new to the industry. He also recommends looking up some motivational quotes online if you’re looking for even more inspiration.

Cleanse Your Work Palate: What to Do In-Between Jobs

Being laid off or getting fired are, unfortunately, common events that many people will have to deal with at least a few times over the course of their professional career. While you may feel remorse for friends and family members when this type of event happens to them, you can feel a sense of panic or extreme stress when it happens to you.

Of course, some people who are currently out of a job may have quit on their own accord, and this may have been because of poor management or another similar type of issue. In any case, this professional gap can be stressful, but you can more easily navigate through this tumultuous time without scars by following a few tips.

1. Keep Calm and Focus

After losing or quitting a job, you may understandably feel confused or even hurt. It is normal to feel these emotions, so embrace them for a short period of time. During that period, consider everything from meditating to working out, blogging and more to get your mind off of the pain. You can and should spend time reflecting on what may have gone wrong in your previous position so that you can learn from it.

However, you should not dwell on negative emotions tied to those life lessons, but let them go so that you can move on with your life. Embrace this break from a work routine by spending more time with friends and family, relaxing, having fun, and enjoying the resulting reduced stress levels. After all, this break is only temporary, and you may soon find another job. By adjusting your line of thinking so that you focus on the transient nature of this break, you may be able to relax and enjoy a sense of calmness.

2. Enjoy Your Free Time

When you are not working regularly, you may have many hours in your day to enjoy at your leisure. Think of this time as a vacation of sorts that you can use to regroup and focus on your physical and mental health. Use it to reconnect with loved ones and to focus on nurturing these relationships.

You can explore new hobbies or interests that you have been meaning to try, such as taking dance lessons, cycling and more. If you have the funds to do so, you may even travel without concern about getting back to a job. Your trip will be much more relaxing than it would be if you had the stress of job responsibilities looming over you.

3. Make a New Financial Plan

A lot of individuals out of work for even a few weeks may begin to feel financial stress related to a lack of incoming funds. While you may want to enjoy your time off of work, practice moderation so that you can avoid overspending. Consider reducing your personal expenses so that you can conserve your savings. For example, you may cut back on cable TV, your entertainment expense, restaurant meals and more. You may also find a side job that can offset your lack of full-time income.

This could help you to stretch your savings for a longer period of time and reduce the financial strain that you may be feeling. If you are offered COBRA health insurance, consider the benefits associated with taking advantage of extended coverage for as long as it is available to you.

4. Get Back on Track

It is easy to get lazy when you have ample time to yourself each day. You may find yourself sleeping in regularly, spending hours watching TV and more. However, this can create boredom and may even lead to depression.

To prevent it, make a to-do list of items that need your attention around the house. Focus on improving your skills by working toward a new certification. Attend professional networking events and job fairs. You could even volunteer for an organization that supports a cause that you feel strongly about so that you feel productive each day. Another smart idea is to revise your resume and update your LinkedIn profile accordingly.

5. Start Looking for a New Gig

Many people will take a few days or even longer than week to enjoy their time off of work and regroup after quitting or losing a job. That is perfectly fine; however, you do not want to spend too much time taking it easy. The sooner you start looking for a new job, the sooner you may be able to start working and get your career and finances back on track.

While looking for job postings online, you should also network with personal and professional contacts to learn about jobs and to potentially get your foot in the door. If you are out of a job for an extended period of time, ensure that you follow forums, blogs, trade journals and more so that you can keep up with industry changes that may be relevant when you interview for a new position.

Tomorrow is Another Day

Regardless of why you are currently out of a job, your lack of gainful employment can seem like a stressful setback. You may even take your lack of income and your employment issues personally, and this could lead to depression. When you follow these important tips, however, you can navigate through this rough patch more comfortably, and you may more easily find a great new gig that takes your career to the next level.

Author Bio:

michelle_lauryMichelle Laurey is a freelance writer who enjoys fitness, relaxing in the fresh air, trying to live a healthy life and daydreaming about visiting new places (and actually visiting them). Her best ideas and problem solutions appear while she’s riding her bicycle. You can reach her via Twitter.

The Content Optimization Process: How to Make the Most of What You’ve Already Got

In March 2017, we saw the Google algorithm go through yet another update. This new update, called “Fred”, put even more emphasis on high-quality content, and if you want to make the most of your SEO efforts, you simply have to produce top-notch content today. But what to do with all that stuff you already have on your website, that already does really well? Does it have to just sit there and collect dust? Or can you still do something with it? The concept of refurbishing content that has been proven to work well is becoming more and more popular, which means there’s no reason why you shouldn’t give it a go. So, if you want to juice every drop of goodness out of your top content, here’s how to do it.

Figure out what your top content is

In order to be able to refurbish your top content, you’ll first have to identify it. Luckily, you can now use the power of analytics to evaluate all of your content and figure out which pages are bringing in the most traffic and converting the best. Obviously, content that scores the best on these accounts is the one you should choose for refurbishment.

It’s very important that you understand that it’s not only the pages on your website that might be your most valuable content. This can be anything from a video on one of your pages to a printout people seem to like. And once you manage to identify what has worked best for you, it’s time to think about the ways you can refurbish it.

Decide how you want to use your top content and simplify it

The next thing you’re supposed to do in order to bring your old content back to life is decide how you want to do it. What many experts decide to do is change the form of their top content before publishing it anywhere.

Let’s say your most valuable content is a long-form text on how to be more productive at work. Think about what else people could be doing with this piece and make it come to life. Maybe it’s a video explaining how to get more things done around the office? Or a podcast all those suffering from a lack of productivity at work will find helpful? Our main point is – there are tons of ways you can reuse your old content, you just have to be creative while doing so.

On top of that, you might want to think about simplifying your old content before you send it back on the stage. If you do this, you’ll be able to include a link to the original content that has proven to be so effective and people will consume it once again.

Find popular platforms to publish your “new” content

There’s just so many powerful platforms out there just waiting for content their audience seeks. And if you don’t provide it, somebody else will. So, if you’ve turned an old text into a video, why not upload it to YouTube? There are so many people looking for tips and tutorials, why not capitalize on it. Also, if your “new” content is in the form of a PowerPoint presentation, you can always upload it to SlideShare which ranks so well.

Getting your content out there is what refurbishing is all about, but if you want it to be effective, you’ll also want to measure its impact. So, check out how many views your video has, the time people spend on your page and so on. The data you collect will help you determine what works best for you and how you should keep refurbishing in the future. Luckily, there are automated reporting tools like Reportz available, that are guaranteed to help you collect all the data you will need. Turning to tools like these is always going to save you hours and hours of manual work.

Getting your old content out there is a great way to make sure you keep providing quality to your audience. And with so many content forms at your disposal and platforms you can publish it on, coming up with refurbishing ideas should be a real piece of cake.

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Guest Author is Alex Williams is a journalism graduate, and a rookie blogger trying to find my luck. Blogs are the perfect opportunity for presenting yourself to wider audience, getting the chance to showcase my expertise and receiving recognition. I am a regular contributor at Bizzmark Blog