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Low Corporate Morale? Five Ways to Boost Employee Engagement

Working in today’s world is not easy – the hours are getting longer, the responsibilities more intense and the push to cut costs are brutal. Many business owners find that they have more to do to stay afloat with less resources to hire staff, so all employees end up doing more with less – less time, less money and less help.

Overworked and tired employees develop low corporate morale as they stop looking forward to coming to work every morning, and feel tired and stressed out. This leads to high employee turnover, decreased productivity and an unhappy workplace.

On the other hand, engaged employees are better for business – a source states that businesses where the staff members are truly engaged “have 6% higher net profit margins,” according to Towers Perrin research and “five times higher shareholder returns over five years,” according to Kenexa research. It is up to the business owner to find ways to boost employee engagement, which will create a better corporate culture and better overall morale.

What is Employee Engagement?

An employee who is truly engaged is invested into the success of the company in which they work. They don’t just come in to receive a paycheck, but care about the company’s goals and interests. This type of team member uses discretionary effort, meaning they do things to help the company without having to be asked or required to do so. This can involve staying late or coming in on a weekend, mentoring a new staffer, or addressing a safety concern.

How do You Promote Employee Engagement?

In order to “turn that frown upside down,” use the following tips to improve corporate morale to increase employee engagement:

Reward Your Staff’s Efforts

When small business owners hear the term “reward,” they tend to think of financial rewards; however, rewards don’t have to cost anything! Simply showing your staff that you recognize their hard work and are grateful for their efforts is often more than enough to get them to take ownership of their responsibilities and become more engaged.

Oftentimes, simply saying, “I see you are working hard, and I appreciate it,” will do the trick. However, it can also be advantageous to recognize certain team members publicly during a staff meeting or to create an employee of the month award so that the whole office is aware of someone’s achievement. 


Other ways to reward staff without spending a dime are to let them go home earlier after a long week, give them a day off after a busy season that required continuous overtime or to host a potluck to celebrate a big company win!

Support a Cause

It’s important to remember that companies are made up of people, and that many of them are motivated by social causes. A great way to boost engagement is to survey your employees about causes important to them – be that the environment, local boys and girls clubs or third world countries. After calculating the responses, pick a social cause that you can support as a company.

You can either dedicate a percentage of your profits to the cause, or help bring awareness to it through marketing and social media campaigns. To take it a step further and truly unite your team members to strive for a common goal, dedicate a day to go out and make a difference together. Volunteer at a local homeless shelter or build houses for Houses of Humanity to help those that are less fortunate.

The best way to boost morale and create employee engagement is to take the time to get to know your staff, form relationships with them, and make them feel appreciated!

 

Five Ways to Lead Independent Thinkers

There are different types of leaders – micro and macro-managers. Micro-managers are akin to dictators, they want to be involved in every small decision, and do not provide their staff members with the ability to think for themselves. Macro-managers, on the other hand, lead a democratic team, encouraging their employees to make their own decisions, take chances, and provide innovative solutions to everyday problems.

Time and time again, research studies have proven that macro-managers are the best types of leaders; this manager not only creates a happier corporate culture, but has loyal and productive employees. However, in order for a manager to relinquish control and delegate tasks to staff members, they need to be sure that the workers are up to the challenge of working independently and trusting their own instincts. Whether you are integrating a new candidate into your team, or want to delegate more and micromanage less, you can lead your staff to become more independent thinkers in the following five ways.

Delegate

A common grievance of bosses is that they spend a majority of their day on tasks their staff members should be doing. However, not all supervisors have the skills necessary to take themselves out of the equation and delegate tasks to free up their schedule.

The first step to encouraging employees to think on their own is to make them responsible for their own tasks. This process starts with the team’s leader – this individual must be able to hand out assignments without looking over the individual’s’ shoulders every step of the way. Employees must feel capable and qualified to handle their duties in order to start thinking independently, otherwise they will keep turning to the boss with every question or concern.

Be Open to Different Views

Once tasks have been given out, the manager must be open to hearing and implementing different views. Many leaders feel comfortable following the status quo, and resist any suggestions to innovate. This attitude stifles the minds of the employees, and doesn’t encourage them to think on their own, as they know that any suggestion will be ignored or denied.

Trust the Capabilities of Your Staff

Another component to promoting independent thinking is to fully trust in the fact that your employees are capable of making their own decisions, and are invested in the best interests of the company. After all, you hired them for a reason! When bosses stop second guessing their team members, and trust that they are experts in their field and have the experience and knowledge to work independently, they can start encouraging their staff to trust themselves.

Encourage Original Thinking

To promote independent thinkers in your workforce, you should promote original and out-of-the-box thinking. Ask your employees to come up with innovative ideas and share them with the rest of the team. Consider rewarding employees who offer unique ideas that can benefit your company – you can offer gift certificates, time off or bonuses for the effort!

Provide Inspiration

Innovation often comes from inspiration, but it’s difficult to get inspired inside the bland walls of most office environments. To promote creativity and original thought, provide inspiration in the form of bright colors, vivid images (art and photography), music and unique experiences in the office.

Advise your employees to take a walk outside if they are in the process of a creative endeavor, or take your team to an ethnic restaurant to introduce them to flavors and smells from different cultures. All of these experiences can contribute to helping them change the status quo.

How Redefining Your Core Values Can Benefit Your Business

As the new year momentum continues, it can be beneficial to review the core values of your business to see what you can amend and improve upon. Redefining your business core values to make them significant and actually mean something to your staff, partners, and customers can play a monumental role in the way your company is seen and how others relate to your brand.

A source for Harvard Business Review, who has helped companies refine their corporate values for over one decade, states that bland or meaningless values can damage the credibility of the company and alienate employees. To prevent this, revisit your current core values, find room for improvement, and take the following steps to redefine them.

Review Your Current Core Values

To start, re-familiarize yourself with the current corporate values you have established. Are they still relevant, achievable, and actually being implemented? For example, if one of the values is transparency, do your firm’s daily operations reflect that goal? Does information freely flow from top to bottom and in reverse? Are you open and honest with your investors, business partners, and clients about any issues, roadblocks or failures?

Remove any core values that are no longer important to your brand, don’t say anything about your corporate identity, or are simply impossible to achieve.

Survey Your Team

An organization is made up of the team members employed there; therefore, it can be beneficial to survey your employees to find out what their personal values are. If you able to align the personal beliefs and values of your staff with your business values, you can create a better corporate culture and overall working experience for your team.

Send out an email or online survey and ask employees to write down three to five personal values that matter to them. Review these answers and narrow down the top five to 10 choices based on popularity, significance, and relevance to your brand.

For example, if the majority of your staff value sustainability and the green movement, you may consider adding an eco-friendly component to your company’s philanthropic efforts. This can increase employee loyalty by supporting a cause that is important to them, and also start to promote your brand image with a new and important initiative.

Implement the Newly Established Core Values

Once you remove outdated and irrelevant values, and have worked with your staff to come up with meaningful new principles, you must create a plan to implement them. Core values must be ingrained in every decision and practice of the organization because they are the foundation of the brand’s identity.

If you added honest communication as a core value, for example, consider investing in training that would improve the communication skills of your managers and other staff members. Teaching them to better read nonverbal cues, actively listen, and understand difference in multicultural communication can lead to a more productive work environment.

Redefining your core corporate values can unite you with your clientele, partners, and employees by exposing the main principles that define your company and creating common goals for all staff to follow. Revisit your business’ core values while you’re still riding the momentum of New Year’s Resolutions and betterment initiatives!

New Year Resolutions: Don’t Just Make Them Personal

The new year is quickly approaching, and many of us are making plans for how we will welcome 2017. Some individuals are purchasing champagne to ring in the new year, while others are coming up with new year resolutions. It is fairly common to come up with typical goals, such as losing weight, creating more family time, and dedicating more effort to hobbies and interests, but resolutions are not only beneficial to your personal life. In addition to personal resolutions, concentrate on professional objectives, as well. In fact, it is advantageous for managers to encourage their teams to brainstorm together to plan for the upcoming year with these steps.

Prepare General Company Goals

Prior to sitting down with your team and making resolutions for the following year, make sure you are prepared. You cannot ask your employees to provide solutions without being aware of the company’s plans. It is recommended to meet with your own manager, who is likely privy to more information, and will provide you with projected goals for 2017.

Encourage Employees to Participate

Alert your employees of upcoming meetings to discuss goals, and encourage their participation. It may be beneficial to share the organization’s goals prior to the meeting, and ask your team members to consider ways of accomplishing them. In fact, you may require each and every staff member to create a plan for next year, which involves actionable objectives that can be measured and accomplished.

Business meeting

A great leader will remember that their staff is not only invested in the company’s success, but also in their own. To show your employees that you are committed in empowering them, ask them to create individual professional goals as well as plans to benefit the company’s mission.

Host a Meeting 

In order to create new resolutions, you must dedicate a place and time to get your team together. Schedule a meeting, and alert your team about it in advance, so they have the time to prepare their suggestions. As the meeting commences, you can take the lead in reviewing the company’s and the department’s resolutions for next year, but don’t monopolize the conversation the entire time. Instead, allow each and every individual the time to share their thoughts on relevant steps that should be taken in 2017.

To prevent everyone from speaking at once, or interrupting each other, you may go around the room, giving everyone a chance to contribute, or use an object as a “talking stick,” only allowing the person holding it to speak.

Collaborate on creating a general to-do list for next year with measurable results that can be crossed off as they are accomplished. You can choose to meet with each employee individually at a later date to discuss their personal goals.

Follow Up

After the meeting has concluded, follow up with a written plan for 2017. Designate a team leader to oversee employees in the following year to make sure everyone is staying on track with their resolutions, and providing tools or advice to those that are falling behind.

3 Employee Retention Ideas for a Bootstrapped Budget

Employee Retention Ideas for a Bootstrapped Budget

All good small business owners know the value of key employees and their importance to their business’ success. They’ve invested time to find qualified candidates, contributed resources to train them, and are acutely aware of the significant financial and opportunity losses that would be incurred if an employee left the company. While some employee retention strategies rely on high salaries that far exceed the market average, not all organizations can afford this. So what is a bootstrapped company to do when it comes to attracting and keeping valuable employees?

There are many affordable strategies for employers to implement, and many are easier (and perhaps more fun!) to implement than you might think. It’s important to remember that money isn’t the only factor that affects employee satisfaction. Individuals value other benefits, such as flexible schedules, opportunities to grow, as well as appreciation in the form of small rewards. In this article, we will review three ideas for employee retention that don’t involve higher salaries.

 

Flexible Schedule

More and more businesses around the world are beginning to see the value of flexible schedules. While the traditional 9-5 dominates most corporate schedules, that leaves employees with little to no time to run personal errands, such as make doctor appointments or pick up their children from school. Offering your staff the flexibility to set their own schedules, whether it be to come in and leave earlier, or simply take a big break in the middle of the day, can be a big draw to keep them at your firm. In fact, a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management found that 89% of the human resources professionals surveyed reported that having flexible work arrangements positively impacted their employee retention.

 

Mentorship Programs

A big priority for all people, especially those just entering the workforce, is the opportunity to advance their careers. While all good employee retention strategies should involve promoting from within, employee empowerment can be further achieved through the establishment of mentorship programs. Connecting seasoned and experienced employees with those recently out of college will provide invaluable industry advice and connections to your staff. Providing your team members with this opportunity to either share their expertise or learn from industry experts is empowering and can help prevent them from looking for other work opportunities.

 

Small Rewards

For employees to feel valued at the company they work for, management must make the effort to make the staff feel like they are recognized and rewarded for their hard work. While offering a large bonus may not be feasible, showing your appreciation with small rewards can be just as meaningful. Superstar salespeople can be encouraged to outsell their colleagues with gift cards to their favorite stores or restaurants. Even small denominations such as $25 or $50 can serve as motivation for excellent performance.

Acknowledgement of staff’s time and effort, such as offering your employees a half-day off after they just worked two weeks of overtime, will surely be appreciated. Other small rewards can include one-on-one time with the manager, which is something employees rarely get, catered lunches or simply a park picnic for a chance to get out of the office.

Don’t fall into the trap of believing that your employees are only motivated by money — that is far from the truth. While that does play a role, employees want to feel recognized and appreciated by their management. Flexibility, spontaneity, and creativity can go far to make up for limited funds or bootstrapping. Show your staff that you notice their hard work with small and affordable rewards.

 

An important aside to consider is that as your business’s workload grows, you may reach the point where in order to retain your current employees you need to hire more staff. Employees that are overworked on a consistent basis will look for other work, no matter how many rewards are bestowed upon them. It is advantageous for companies to have enough working capital to hire new staff for busy seasons or periods of increased demand. Small business loans through IOU Financial enable businesses to hire new employees in order to ease the burden their current staff may carry. For more information about how a small business loan can help with staffing needs, contact IOU Financial today.

 

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Team Building – Necessary?

When you hear the phrase “team building” does it make you cringe or smile with anticipation?! Chances are likely your answer depends on a number of things. Your previous experience in team building exercises, your previous experience running team building sessions and your personality. While some people love team building, others may fake an illness to get out of it!  And a lot of people fall in between the two. If you have a preference one way or the other, or you feel a certain way about team building that only goes to prove that your employees also have their own feelings on the subject. So the questions are: is team building really worth it for your company and if so, what is the best way to go about it?

The first question – is team building really worth it? YES! Team building, if done properly, can quickly open up the lines of communications between employees and increase morale.  So that was easy! But here is the tough question …

What is the best way to go about it?

Let’s start with what the worst ways are! Imagine you are a small kid in school and you are  asked to climb the rope in gym. You grab onto the rope, pull, but your body won’t cooperate and you fall right off the rope. You feel humiliated.  You graduate from school and think, “thank goodness I never have to do that again!” But then you start working for XYZ Company and they have a team building session that includes rope climbing. Fun, right?! NO! It’s important when setting up any team building exercises that no one may suffer embarrassment and that only positivity will be fostered.

When thinking about team building exercises, consider of what types of activities are right for YOUR employees and which ones will foster communication.  Here are some ideas for in the office – colleagues sitting with other for an hour to see what the other one does on a daily basis, having departmental luncheons or coffee hours, treasure hunts in the office where teams are created made up of people from different departments that have to interact with each other frequently.  For outside the office – a company barbecue, a personality assessment where an outside firm comes in and various work styles are analyzed, a cooking activity. That is just a short list – think about what is best for you and your company.

When it comes to team building the key is to create a positive environment which will foster good communication. In the end, if done correctly, team building can be a positive experience leading to enhanced communication for all involved.

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