4 Simple Strategies for Boosting Your Employees’ Morale

Employee morale makes a big difference in workplace productivity. As an employer, you can’t control your staff’s mood, but you can definitely ensure that they have a happy, healthy, and considerate environment to work in. Here are four simple strategies to consider implementing.

Open Up Communication

People like to feel as if their work makes a difference. This can be a difference in the world at large, or simply a difference for the person they are working for. It’s difficult to put in effort all day without understanding the reasons or seeing the results. Keep staff updated on your business’s successes and pitfalls, and make sure you let them know the results of projects they have personally worked on. Good communication builds trust and rapport. If you set a standard of openness, your employees will understand when something simply must be kept under wraps. 

Stock the Break Room 

Snacks in the break room can be a small but effective way to show that you care. A coffee machine is a good place to start; warm drinks offer comfort, and caffeine provides an energy boost to finish out the workday. To avoid the classic problem of burnt break-room coffee, try a Keurig brewing system. Single-serving Starbucks K-Cup pods let your employees brew themselves a cup when they need one, and don’t share the mess or cost of brewing an entire pot. Don’t forget to stock decaf pods too; everyone deserves something hot to drink. 

Fight for Employee Benefits 

To be an employee is to invest a large part of your time and energy into someone else’s business. The deal doesn’t have to be a bad one; as an employer, you have the opportunity to make a large difference in your employees’ lives. Look for ways that your business can provide benefits that staff would not be able to acquire on their own. This might include package insurance plans, vendor discounts, or even chances to travel. Working for your business should feel like an opportunity, not a cost. 

Encourage Career Growth 

If you’re the business owner, you’re likely already living your dream. Your business is a culmination of your career and the effort you have put in. On the other hand, your employees are likely at the start of their careers. As much as you enjoy seeing them every day, it’s important to remember that your staff want to grow and move forward in life. Try to provide opportunities for growth and success within your business. If an employee has a dream that will one day take them outside of your company, don’t be afraid to encourage them. The person you help go to school today could very easily be your industry contact of tomorrow. 

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to employee morale; what helps one person’s mood might make no impact on someone else. The best strategy is to set a standard of respect, communication, and care for your employees’ needs. If you have a good attitude, a good work environment will follow.

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

Keeping It Cohesive: 3 Customer Experience Tips for Every Season

Just like a personal relationship, customer relations need variety to thrive. You might have wracked your brain in the past for exciting ways to shake things up, only to fall flat and realize that most of the large-scale options tend to come off as gimmicky. Sometimes, you don’t have to think outside the box or break the mold to make a mark. There are many small ways you can tailor your business throughout the year to provide a dynamic and engaging experience to your customers. 

A brand is only as good as the people who support it. Customer service needs to be top-notch if it’s going to stand out in today’s oversaturated market. While most business owners are focused on the four quarters of the year, try shifting your attention to the four seasons for opportunities to enhance your customer experience. 

Seasonal Exclusives

Consider offering limited-edition stock for various seasons. Have summer door-buster sales or major holiday discounts. Offer exclusive complementary items that tie into the season or major holidays. The weather and seasons play a huge role in our everyday lives, so you don’t want to miss out on the chance to connect with your customers through something so human and relatable. 

Dress Up for the Holidays

Simple logos are good for many reasons, one of the primary beings that they’re easy to change without losing their identity. Switch up your graphics and logo colors to make the seasonal holidays. You can even put your own twist on them to stand out and grab attention. Seasonal designs and custom displays are a fantastic opportunity to humanize your brand and help contribute to the spirit of the holiday, whatever the time of year. 

Fine-tune Your Content to Seasonal Needs

A content strategy should be fluid and reflect customer needs and current experiences. You don’t always have to create something entirely new in order to thrive. In fact, your target audience is already looking for what you have to offer anyway, so why not diversify your blog posts a little and branch out? Find ways to demonstrate your business’s value through content that taps into your customer’s current wants or needs based on the season.

Business analytics and metrics go a long way, but it’s important to remember the numbers on your data sheets are driven by real people. Behind every click, every impression and every engagement is a live human being who could possibly benefit from your services. 

Stay in touch with your customers through social media. Interact as much as possible so you’re always in-the-know and equipped to make changes before they’re requested.

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 Office Security Tips to Decline the Risk of an Electrical Fire

As a manager you have many responsibilities to many different parties. However, there is one responsibility that should come before everything else. This is ensuring that your employees have a safe work environment. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 5,147 fatal workplace accidents in 2017. Just because your employees work in an office doesn’t mean they’re necessarily safe either. Electrical fires, for example, can certainly be deadly. With that in mind, below are three tips to use to prevent office electrical fires from happening. 

Be Careful with Plugs and Outlets

One of the most common causes of electrical fires is the misuse of electrical plugs and outlets. This is the case both for residential and commercial fires. While in the office, make sure to routinely check plugs and cords before plugging them into an outlet. Old cords tend to get frayed and can present a fire hazard. Don’t overload an outlet with adapters either. One plug should go into one outlet as a default to prevent fire hazards. You should also consider installing ground fault circuit interrupters to increase your protection against electrical fires from overloaded circuits. 

Maintenance

People tend to falsely assume that once an electrical system has been installed into a building it can be forgotten about completely. This is simply not true. Like all the systems of a building, an electrical system also requires routine maintenance to keep it working properly. Routine maintenance can also allow an electrician to spot and correct problems before they actually manifest into serious issues like electrical fires in your office. 

Create a maintenance checklist and stick to it. A professional will probably have to perform a good deal of this maintenance. Your employees are probably not qualified to work with a custom hermetic cable harnesses for example. 

Surge Protectors

Something else that can help to protect your office is the use of surge protectors. These are devices that can be used to prevent power surges from overloading a circuit. They can prevent electrical fires. They can also help to protect appliances during a power surge. All significant pieces of equipment in an office like computers, printers and fax machines should be plugged into a surge protector instead of directly into an outlet. 

Providing a safe work environment is your number one priority as a manager. Workplace accidents are common, and they can be deadly. This is even the case in office workspaces. Removing the threat of electrical fires can certainly make your office much safer for your employees.

Guest author, Kara Masterson, is a freelance writer from West Jordan, Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah and enjoys writing and spending time with her dog, Max.

10 Networking Tips for Your Next Business Conference

Conferences are one of the best places for networking. You’re surrounded by people with similar interests, including many who can help you advance your career. There’s plenty of opportunity for the taking at conferences. You can learn a lot from your fellow attendees and may even land yourself a new position, since 46 percent of jobs get filled through traditional networking. Here are 10 networking tips to use for your next conference.

1. Have a Plan

Attending a conference can be overwhelming, especially if it’s a large one with a lot of people and events. Do yourself a favor and schedule your time beforehand. In addition to deciding which presentations to go to, build some time into your schedule for networking. You can also plan some of the specifics of your networking. Before the conference, research who’s going to be there and decide who you want to talk to.

2. Start Early

You don’t have to wait until the conference to start networking. Connect with other attendees on social media beforehand and post about the event on your feeds. Send fellow attendees a message saying you hope to see them there and ask them which sessions they plan on attending. You can also reach out to presenters and tell them you’re looking forward to their talks. That way you’ll have the foundations of a relationship already in place when you get to the conference.

3. Elevator Pitch

The elevator pitch is a tried and true networking tip. Your pitch should be about 60 to 90 seconds long, or between 150 and 250 words. Keep it to the point while still showing a bit of your expertise, passion and personality. You can memorize it and practice before you go, but do your best to keep it genuine and natural-sounding too.

4. Look Approachable

Networking has two main purposes — maintaining relationships you’ve already started and meeting new people. To increase the number of people you meet, look approachable whenever you can. Only look at your phone or laptop when you have to. A lot of people look at their devices when they’re bored or uncomfortable, but situations in which you’re waiting around are often some of the best opportunities for networking. Other attendees are probably looking for something to do at these times too.

5. Ask Questions

Conferences are excellent opportunities to tell other people about yourself, but of course, you also want to get to know others. When talking to people at your conference, be sure to show interest in them, engage with what they’re saying and ask questions. Try to think of some things to ask before you go. Often, people lead with basic questions like “what do you do?” and “where are you from?” You can also try asking people what their favorite presentation or session of the conference was so far.

6. Reach Out Right Away

Often, after a conference, people come home with a stack of business cards that ends up gathering dust. They put off reaching out to the people who gave them cards, and the connections end up getting lost. Instead, reach out as soon as someone gives you a card. Send them an email with your information and a reminder of who you are to get the conversation started and help them remember you. This strategy can help keep your networking efforts from going to waste.

7. Take Notes

At conferences, you typically meet lots of different people, so it’s easy to forget details about some of them. To help you remember your connections, write a few notes about each person on their business card, on a notepad or on your phone. Jot down something you talked about, what they were wearing, a funny joke they told you or anything else that will help you remember them.

8. Just Go for It

Networking can feel awkward, especially at first. It’s natural to worry about how someone might react if you walk up to them and introduce yourself. One of the great things about conferences is that it’s acceptable — and even expected — that people will come up to you and start conversations. If you see someone you want to meet and they don’t look overly busy, just go for it. Don’t miss out on the networking opportunity your conference offers.

9. Supplement With Social Media

While you want to focus on face-to-face interactions, you can also use social media to your advantage. Post about the conference and use event hashtags. Tag presenters when you tweet about their talks. Ask questions. Doing so can garner online interactions and may have even lead to face-to-face meetups.

10. Follow Up

Just as you want to start your networking before the event, you should also continue it once it ends. Post on social media or your company blog about the conference and reach out to the people you met. This will help keep the relationships alive following the event itself and help you make the most of your conference experience.

Do what you can to make the most of your conference experience, and you will likely come away with lots of contacts, business leads or even a possible new job.

Bio: Nathan Sykes is the editor of Finding an Outlet, a source for the latest in IT and business news and trends.

Enhancing Communication In Your Modern Business

Year after year, the landscape of business changes. Becoming more modernized to suit the needs of the next generation, businesses must adapt to a new way of operation. One of the biggest trends seen in recent years, is the concept of a flexible work arrangement; more employees are opting to work beyond the traditional hours of 9-5, and often choose to work remotely all together. With change comes the need to adapt. Here are three ways to further incorporate technology into your workforce that facilitate stronger communication.

Go Wireless and Unify

Gone are the days of coming into the office and working from your hardwired desktop computer and phone system. Employees are constantly on the go. Whether they’re collaborating in meeting rooms or working from out-of-office locations, your employees need to be able to access their work and team members at their fingertips. Start by considering replacing your phone systems and opting for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Calls through VoIP work by converting voice from analog to a digital signal. Basically, all your employees need is a connection to the internet. If you’re seriously considering VoIP, look into a complete unified communications package. Aside from your phone services, you can include your other tools like web and video conferencing, team messaging, and screen sharing. You can customize your unified suite to include whatever your company needs.

Digitally Manage Projects

Maintain the trend of going digital by looking into online business productivity software. When you’re able to track project status, you are more likely to increase communication amongst team members. Productivity software holds all stakeholders accountable for their contribution to any given initiative. Managers and team members can track goals and deadlines in real time, therefore making it easy to identify when extra assistance and mentorship is necessary. This process translates into larger business productivity; with teams practicing frequent collaboration to achieve goals, and seeking continuous learning opportunities to develop new skills. The ability to track individual processes will further motivate your workforce while making them more alert and hard working.

Create a Digital Workplace

Beyond tracking your employees’ productivity, you should be seeking to incorporate channels that facilitate the type of teamwork you’re looking to encourage. Look into incorporating a digital workplace. Social intranet software is becoming a more widely known concept. Providing employees with digital platforms allows colleagues to work and manage tasks, further streamlining their working relationship. Digital workplaces allow for members to share documents, collaborate on content and provide real time updates for the status of their work. Teams that work closely together can even create sub spaces to further organize projects and communication.

No matter your field of business, the right tools can help employees gain a better understanding for each other and the work they’re doing. This correlates to an increase in productivity by allowing employees to work more efficiently; translating into the achievement of business goals.

Author Bio:

Cameron Parish is a business enthusiast who actively seeks opportunities to share insight on communication.

What Are You Doing to Improve Your Business?

Being a business owner can wear on some individuals over time. Given all the responsibilities in running a company, it can seem overwhelming. That said you want to do all you can to improve things before it becomes too late to act.

So, what are you doing to improve your business?

Finances Are Something to Focus in on

If you need to take steps to improve your footing, start by looking at how you are doing with finances. With that in mind, you might want to go online and apply here for a business line of credit.

In taking this action, you can move closer to receiving the help you need to straighten things out. Yes, some owners run into financial difficulties over time for one reason or another. That said you can’t afford to get into a funk where there is no end in sight to your financial challenges.

Even when you gain approval for a line of credit, the work does not end there.

With this being the case, also look at how you are doing when it comes to buying goods and services for your business.

Do you get the best deals possible when working with your vendors? If you rent office space, are you paying too much each month? Could you be using a better credit card to make purchases for your business? Remember, the interest fees with some cards can be quite hefty.

No matter what you do to improve your company’s financial outlook, do not wait until it is too late to take action.

Improving Your Brand’s Reach

As important as your company finances are, do not go to sleep on the importance of brand promotions.

As an example, do you promote your brand on social networking sites?

It is important to remember that social media is essentially free. As such, you do not have to spend tons of money to be relevant on social media. With some time and effort on your part, you can have an impact on social networking sites and not break the bank.

You also want to look at how your customer service efforts are being received by the public.

If your customer service is lacking, it can come back to haunt you. Remember, most of your customers have other options besides doing business with you. As a result, you could end up losing out on future business if some customers deem you did not go the extra mile for them.

Finally, you want to make sure you have productive and happy workers on your team.

Unless you have a one-person show running things, you will need the help of others. Given this fact, you want the best employees possible by your side. When you have them, you can improve your business approach.

Be sure to engage your employees and get their two cents on how you might improve your business.

Having meetings with your staff to discuss your company and how to make it even better are a good idea. You never know what someone might suggest for improvement that you did not think about.

In looking at where your small business will be soon, will you like what you see?

About the Author: Dave Thomas covers business topics on the web.

Become Super Secure: Combat Identity Thieves Before They Strike

One of the biggest crime waves occurring right now is not taking place on the street. Instead, it is taking place in the digital realm. Identity theft and the resulting fraud costs Americans $16 billion a year

Identity theft is a huge problem that affects millions of Americans. If you don’t want to become a victim, you need to take precautions. Below are some preventive measures you can take to protect you and your business from identity thieves. 

Use Third Party Online Payment Systems When You Can

Releasing your business or personal credit card number to a large number of websites can greatly increase your chances of becoming the victim of fraud. It only takes one of those sites being hacked to lead to you being victimized. However, you can use third party payment systems like PayPal to help better obscure your credit and debit card details when making purchases. In fact, you really don’t need a card at all to use PayPal. The service can remove the funds directly from your company checking account. 

Get Security Chips on Your Credit and Debit Cards

The new standard for both Visa and Master Card is to include a microchip on the cards that helps to verify purchases. Traditional cards, however, used a magnetic strip with static data that could be more easily stolen by identity thieves. Purchases made via chip cards however use different data for each purchase. This makes them far more secure. If you don’t have one yet, call your credit card company or bank and ask them to update your cards. 

Upgrade Your Physical Protection

Although we tend to think of identity thieves in terms of the internet, they could also target your physical business as well. This kind of theft can be more nefarious since you may not notice anything missing until it’s too late and you have been defrauded of thousands of dollars. Make sure to shred any important documents you put in your trash. Also make sure your building is physically secured. Consider hiring a locksmith to upgrade your door locks. Smart door locks, for example, can be programmed to only open with the scanning of a thumb print or retina. 

Identity theft is a huge risk for millions of people and especially businesses. If you make business purchase online, use a credit card or store financial information in your office, you could be a target. Do everything you can to protect your company. Being cautious can help you to avoid a financial catastrophe.

Guest author, Kara Masterson, is a freelance writer from West Jordan, Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah and enjoys writing and spending time with her dog, Max.