Month: April 2014

Want Your Employees to Work Harder? Make Them Happier

by National Peo National Peo No Comments

 

Every business owner wants his or her employees to give 100 percent to the company. Productive employees show up on time, they tackle their work without complaint and they give their best effort. Research suggests that the level of a worker’s happiness is the single greatest predictor of his or her ability to work creatively and productively and commit to his or her company.

How can you make your workers happier? The answer isn’t in beefing up salaries or just giving more benefits. What employees want is to feel as though they are making progress and doing meaningful work. Luckily, you can support your employees in their accomplishments by removing obstacles to their success, giving them the help they need to succeed and acknowledging their efforts.

The Link Between Happiness and Productivity

Researchers at Warwick Business School in England have discovered a strong relationship between happiness and productivity. Andrew Oswald, a professor of economics at the school and leader of the research team, told The Guardian, “We find that human happiness has large and positive causal effects on productivity. Positive emotions appear to invigorate human beings, while negative emotions have the opposite effect.”

The researchers evaluated the influence of emotional state on productivity by asking a group of students to add five two-digit numbers over a 10-minute period. Afterward, some of the students were shown a short comedy film by a well-known comedian. Another group saw no film, and a third group saw a placebo film consisting of a clip that showed colorful patterns of sticks. After watching the film, the test subjects were asked to report on their happiness levels, before doing the mathematics task again.

The researchers found that test subjects who reported more happiness after watching the comedy film were 12 percent more productive than those who did not report higher levels of happiness after watching the film. Those who reported lower levels of happiness after watching the film were 10 percent less productive than they had been before. Subjects who saw the comedy clip, but did not experience an increase in happiness, did not demonstrate any increases in productivity. The researchers also found that study participants who had been through an illness or death in the family within the previous two years were 10 percent less productive than study participants who had not.

The Cost of Unhappy Workers

Employee happiness and engagement isn’t something businesses can afford to ignore. A 2010 Gallup study found a direct link between worker and happiness and decreased economic performance for the entire company. Lost productivity due to unhappy, disengaged workers costs the American economy $300 billion each year. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index has polled more than 1,000 adults daily since January 2008, and it has determined that at least one-third of people in all age groups and all income brackets are unhappy at work and feeling disconnected and disengaged. Disengaged, unhappy workers don’t show up on time, they’re less productive and the overall quality of their work just isn’t as good.

Ending the Employee Disengagement Crisis

Fortunately, all hope is not lost. After analyzing the data, researchers have come up with a solution. The secret to employee engagement and productivity is to ensure that workers experience their work as meaningful, and to help them feel as though they’re making progress in that work.

As a manager, you can facilitate worker happiness and engagement by giving your employees the support they need to do their jobs well. Let your employees work autonomously when you can but make sure to offer them the resources they need to get their jobs done. Give them the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and challenges, and apply those lessons going forward. When an employee feels the work he or she is doing is meaningful, even a small amount of progress will make him or her happy. That happiness will make him or her more productive and improve his or her performance, which will make him or her even happier, which will lead to even more improvements in performance. That’s a chain reaction you want to spark.

Not only will your employees be more productive when they’re feeling happy and engaged with what they do, they’ll also have more good ideas. Groundbreaking, innovating companies are those who foster employee happiness and encourage their workers’ accomplishments. Supporting your employees’ happiness and well-being can involve providing more resources, answering more questions and supporting a healthier work-life balance. Sometimes, making your employees happier is as simple as addressing technical problems or doing away with those tiny, insignificant day-to-day irritations that, over time, can really sap a worker’s spirit.

One thing’s for sure — when you take steps to make your workers happier, everyone wins. Your employees spend most of their time at work; they deserve not to be miserable all day long. If you don’t take steps to ensure their satisfaction, someday they may well leave to take positions where they will feel more fulfilled. Don’t put your profits and your company on the line. Make employee happiness a priority.

How to Entertain Clients Without Breaking the Bank

by National Peo National Peo No Comments

 

Once upon a time, it was common for companies to splurge on lavish entertainment to wine and dine their clients. Today’s tougher economic realities mean that many businesses can’t afford to splurge on client entertainment — and clients often don’t want them to. When you spend a lot of money on lavish gifts and entertainment for your clients — or even when you just seem like you have – you risk sending the wrong message. 

When you spend money on your clients, they’ll assume that they’re paying for it in the form of higher prices for your products or services. Your employees could get upset if extravagant client treatment isn’t matched with raises and bonuses for them. After all, if the company is doing well enough to lavish posh gifts on the clients, it should be doing well enough to reward the employees too. However, you do want to keep your clients engaged and show them you care. The good news is that you don’t have to spend a fortune entertaining your clients well.

Host a Dinner at Your Home

You don’t have to be a French-trained chef in order to host a nice dinner for your clients in your home. If you can’t or don’t want to cook, hire a professional to cook the evening’s meal in your kitchen — a hired cook can even provide the ingredients. Consider bringing a wine expert to recommend the right pairings for your meal and even give a talk on wines.

Exercise Together

Are you good at a sport your client would like to learn? Offer to give him or her some lessons. Alternatively, you could invite your client on a hiking trip or a bike ride. Use your discretion; this is really only a good option for physically active clients. It’s always a good idea to make sure there’s a cafe or coffee shop nearby, in case your client would like to stop for a break.

Use the Same Restaurant Every Time You Entertain

If you do a great deal of client entertaining, choose a restaurant you like and use it every time. This way, you’ll develop strong relationships with the restaurant staff, allowing you more control in the setting. When making arrangements for a meal with the client, it’s always best to work directly with the manager. Don’t make any reservations, event arrangements or table selections with the receptionist. Always speak directly with the manager about the details of your event — this is another reason having a relationship with a particular restaurant is a good idea.

If you have a relationship with a specific restaurant that you always use for client entertaining, you’ll be able to request the servers you like best. Make your arrangements a few days in advance, and call the day before to confirm and order any specialty items your client might want. Having a relationship with a specific restaurant will also make it easier to do things like order off the menu, arrange for more private seating or arrange to have an appetizer waiting at your table when you arrive. Make sure you tip the staff generously. Get to know the owner of the restaurant and don’t be afraid to take the opportunity to introduce your client to him or her.

Take Advantage of Social Media

Social media is an especially cost-effective way to market your business while entertaining clients. Younger clients will appreciate your social media-savvy if you use platforms like MeetUp to organize client entertainment events. Whenever you host group get-togethers, don’t be afraid to encourage your attendees to tweet about the proceedings in real time, using a relevant hashtag. Twitter is an excellent platform for spreading awareness of your corporate events.

Have Snacks Delivered

Save money on client dinners out by skipping the dinners out and simply having snacks delivered to your client’s home or office instead. Send a lunchtime pizza, a box of doughnuts or, during the warmer weather, an ice cream vendor. A box of chocolates, a fruit basket or selections of gourmet coffees are some other great ideas that should fit into any budget.

Organize a Tour

Group tours are an affordable way to get to know your clients and show them your appreciation. Organize a tour of an interesting local attraction, such as a local brewery or historic site. Let your clients’ interests be your guide. Arrange for your clients to receive souvenirs of their trip.

Entertaining your clients does not have to cost an arm and a leg, and in fact, your clients will be more inclined to stick around if it does not — they’ll feel more confident that they’re not being overcharged if you’re not spending a lot of money to shower them with lavish gifts. Think about your clients’ likes, dislikes and interests, and offer entertainment options they will enjoy.

Customer Service Tips to Keep Them Coming Back for More

by National Peo National Peo No Comments

 

No matter what business you’re in or what kind of contact you and your employees have with your customers — whether it’s face-to-face, over the phone, in an office setting or in a retail environment — good customer service skills are essential. Excellent customer service keeps your customers happy and satisfied, and a satisfied customer is a customer who is more likely to bring repeat business. Not only that, but satisfied customers tend to tell their friends and family about the good experiences they’ve had with your business. That kind of word-of-mouth advertising could make all the difference for your success.

Be Cheerful

They say that 93 percent of communication is nonverbal, so when it comes to your customer interactions, your body language and general demeanor are invaluable parts of the customer service you provide. Whether you’re speaking with the customer in person or on the phone, smile. Even if your customer can’t see you, he or she will still notice the difference in your tone of voice if you’re happy, enthusiastic and smiling.

When you interact with the customer in person, make eye contact, relax and wear an easy, natural smile. Maintaining a cheerful demeanor will make you seem approachable and friendly, will set your customer at ease, make him or her feel welcome and set a positive tone for the entire exchange.

Begin each customer interaction with a welcoming greeting. A simple “Good morning,” or “Hello, and welcome to…” followed up with a “What can I do for you today?” is enough to make your customer feel welcomed and communicate that you’re ready and willing to help. Be polite, and let the interaction unfold naturally. While you may want to eventually direct the conversation around to the product or service you’re offering, you don’t want to turn the customer off by being too pushy.

Honor Special Requests

When a customer wants something special, try to go out of your way to give it to him or her. You don’t have to make a whole new policy, just make one exception to help that customer feel valued. That customer will remember that you cared enough to make an exception for him or her when he or she asked. In the future, you’ll enjoy that customer’s loyalty and praise.

Set the Example for Your Employees

Your employees will take their customer service cues from you, the manager. Treat your employees the way you want them to treat your customers. Greet them politely and enthusiastically every day, and make them feel welcome. Be cheerful with them, as you would like them to be cheerful with your customers. Listen to them when they talk, and try to accommodate their requests and meet their needs. When you interact with your customers, model the customer service you would like to see from your employees.

Identify Yourself

Giving your customers the opportunity to learn your name is just as crucial to forming a lasting relationship as learning theirs. Make yourself visible as the manager — put your title on your name tag, and put the titles of your employees on their name tags. Remain accessible to your customers. In many businesses, the manager’s office is accessible to the public, so customers who wish to speak to the person in charge can easily do so.

Call Your Customers by Name

Calling your customers by name makes them feel important, and everyone wants to feel important. Learn your customers’ names and use them. Learn your customers’ names by looking at their credit cards, putting out a sign-in sheet or asking them to sign up for a mailing list. If all else fails simply ask their names when you introduce yourself.

Express Your Gratitude

Small gestures of gratitude let your customers know that you appreciate what they do for you and your business. In the digital age, a handwritten note delivered through the postal system or included in the customer’s package can go a long way toward showing your appreciation. Send your customers birthday and holiday cards; write congratulatory cards or notes for your customers when appropriate. Show your appreciation for your customers with small perks and benefits.

Solicit Feedback

Don’t be afraid to ask your customers what they think of your business and your customer service. Solicit customer feedback via a postage-paid “How Are We Doing?” card left near the register, near the exit or included in your customer’s package or statement. Keep the form short and sweet. Ask them to specify what they like, what they don’t like, how you can improve your customer service and what they would change about your business, product or service. Leave space for the customer to describe his or her most recent experience with your company.

When it comes to the overall profitability of your business, the money isn’t in attracting customers — it’s in keeping customers. The extent to which our customers are loyal to your business will depend on the quality of customer service you can offer them. The better your customer service, the more repeat business — and new business — you can expect to see.

Small Business ACA Myths Busted

by National Peo National Peo No Comments

 

The health insurance exchanges, a fundamental element of the health care reforms implemented by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), are now open for business. Individuals and business owners alike now have new choices when it comes to shopping for health insurance coverage. However, many business owners remain unsure about what they can find on the exchanges, whether they have to provide health insurance for their employees, whether they will be fined or face other penalties for failure to comply with the new law and what, exactly, the new law requires of them in terms of providing health insurance for their employees. Read on or watch this video to learn the truth behind some of the most persistent Obamacare myths.

Under the ACA, All Employers Must Provide Health Insurance

In fact, no company of any size is required to provide health insurance coverage to its employees. Companies who have more than 50 employees will, starting in 2015, be required to pay a tax penalty if they do not offer employee health coverage that meets the minimum coverage and affordability requirements laid forth under the ACA. It’s this provision that has come to be known as the “employer mandate.” Large employers with more than 50 employees may very well choose to pay the tax penalties and not offer health insurance coverage to their employees.

The ACA exempts smaller employers — those with fewer than 50 employees — from the requirement to provide health insurance coverage. Ninety-seven percent of businesses in the U.S. fall into this category, so few employers will be required to pay tax penalties if they do not provide health insurance to their employees.

Employers Must Offer Coverage Through the Exchanges

The new health insurance exchanges are intended as an alternative to the current insurance market. They provide an option for consumers and employers to shop for and compare plans and rates. However, individuals and business owners alike will still be permitted to buy insurance the old-fashioned way, directly from an insurance company or private broker. The exception is the District of Columbia, where small employers who opt to provide health insurance coverage to their employees will have to buy it through the city’s insurance exchange. In coming years, small firms in the District of Columbia will have to renew their employee health insurance coverage through the exchange.

New Health Insurance Plans Are Administered by the Government

The health insurance exchanges are simply online shopping portals. While the exchanges themselves are administered by the state or federal government, the health insurance plans they offer are still operated by private insurers. In no way is the federal government, or your state government, involving itself in the administration of yours or your employees’ health insurance plan.

Employers Will Be Fined $100 a Day for Not Informing Employees About the Insurance Exchanges

This is a persistent Obamacare myth that has scared many small and midsize business owners. While employers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act were required to provide written notice to their employees about the opening of the Health Insurance Marketplace prior to October 1, 2013, there is no penalty associated with failing to provide that notice.

Small Business Owners Will All Receive Tax Credits When They Buy Health Coverage Plans on the Exchanges

There will be federal tax breaks to help small business owners pay for employee health insurance coverage purchased on the exchanges, but not all businesses will be eligible for them. The small business exchanges will sell plans to companies with up to 50 employees during their first year, and perhaps during their second year, but will be required to raise that cap to 100 employees by 2016. Very small businesses, those with 10 or fewer employees, will receive the full tax subsidy of 50 percent of their costs. Businesses with up to 25 employees will get a partial tax subsidy.

Employers Can Choose Different Plans for Different Employees

This feature was originally intended for all of the exchanges, and would have allowed small business owners to pick either a single plan for all employees company-wide or a selection of plans in order to give employees a range of choices. However, the Department of Health and Human Services announced last year its intention to delay this feature on the federal exchanges, which are used in most states. For the time being, at least, smaller employers who want to provide health insurance coverage for their employees will have to choose a single plan for the whole company. In the District of Columbia and the 16 states that built their own marketplaces, the multi-plan option is already available.

Health care reform is upon us, and its requirements for small and midsize businesses can be confusing. The circulation of myths about the Affordable Care Act hasn’t helped matters. Separating the truth from the rumors will make the prospect of choosing health care coverage options for your employees much less frightening.

How to Show Your Employees You Care

by National Peo National Peo No Comments

 

The last thing any employer wants is to see star talent walking out the door, but fostering loyalty can be difficult in an office environment. The solution is to let employees know that you care about them as people.

Your employees are your company’s greatest asset, so you want to keep them feeling appreciated. Make time regularly to show your employees you care by getting to know them a little better, doing your best to support them in and out of the office, praising them when they’ve earned it and trusting them to work with less supervision.

Support Your Employees Personally and Professionally

The most important thing you can do to show your employees you care is give them support in all aspects of their lives. Of course, it’s important to offer your employees professional opportunities. They’ll appreciate opportunities to grow their skill sets and become more valuable members of the workforce. Any employee will naturally feel grateful when you offer him or her promotion or some new responsibilities.

Your employees, just like you, have lives outside of work. You can show your employees that you care about them by doing your best to support them in personal matters as well as professional ones. You don’t need to meddle in your employees’ affairs or interfere in their lives in order to be supportive. If you find out that an employee is coping with an illness in the family, offer him or her some extra time off or some scheduling flexibility. Offering benefits like vacation pay, sick days and health insurance is another way to support your employees in their personal lives.

Get to Know Your Employees Personally

You don’t need to become an employee’s best friend, but taking a little time to get to know each of your employees better as people will show them that you think of them as more than just office drones. Be relatable; treat your employees as equals. Try not to lord your position over them.

Instead, make personal time to talk to each one of your employees regularly. Ask them about their professional ambitions, their goals, hopes and dreams. This can give you much insight into how you can support each employee professionally and personally, and what you can do to help each employee improve his or her performance. It also gives each employee a chance to give you feedback about your workplace culture and procedures.

But you should also remain open to more casual conversation with your employees. Keep your office door open so that employees feel comfortable approaching you with their concerns, or just to say hello. Ask your employees about their families; find out the names of their partners and children and remember them for future conversations. Ask about hobbies, likes and dislikes. Encourage your employees to bring their partners to work functions, like the office Christmas party. Schedule an occasional happy hour or office lunch on your dime.

Be Generous With Praise

Everyone likes to be praised, and your employees are no exception. Respond to good performance with positive feedback. Avoid simply saying something like “Good job!” and leave it at that. Bland, vague feedback doesn’t let your employee know why you’re praising him or her.

http://www.123rf.com/photo_8350462_manager-and-secretary-working-in-the-office.html

Give specific praise that identifies the behavior you’re praising. For maximum benefit, praise behaviors that the employee can control. For example, if an employee always shows up on time, mention in your feedback that you appreciate his or her punctuality. If an employee has excellent research skills, make sure you praise him or her specifically for those skills. When you make your praise specific, the employee will feel encouraged to continue behaving in that manner; in fact, he or she will likely feel even more determined to live up to the praise.

You should also make it a point to pass on positive feedback from customers. Often, employees don’t have the opportunity to hear the praise that you receive about them from clients and customers. Your employees will appreciate hearing this feedback. You can even create avenues for employees to share positive feedback about one another.

Place Your Trust in Your Employees

Placing your trust in employees is the best compliment of all. It’s guaranteed to make them feel appreciated — assuming, of course, that you don’t overload them with too much work. If an employee has been performing well on a task, you may decide to let him or her take charge of it without continuing to run it by you. You may decide to put him or her in charge of a procedure, process or project. Either way, trusting your employees to work on some of their own tasks without constant supervision will deepen their sense of commitment to the company.

Showing your employees that you care about them as people is the number one way to win their long-term loyalty. Do everything you can to support your employees; place your trust in them, praise them when they do well and take the time to get to know them personally. When you go the extra mile to show your employees you care, they’ll reciprocate with increased commitment and productivity.

Announcing National PEO’s Partnership With HiringThing

by National Peo National Peo No Comments

 

Have you ever wished there was an easier, more efficient way to manage the recruitment process? Juggling resumes and keeping track of contact information the old-fashioned way can make filling positions at your company a real hassle. Now, there’s a better way to handle the recruitment process.

National PEO is pleased to announce our new partnership with HiringThing. HiringThing is offering online recruitment software that streamlines the entire recruiting process. Using HiringThing, small and medium business owners will be able to post job ads, manage the applications they receive and recruit the best candidates.

A Powerful Tool for Business Owners

We are committed to providing the best products and services to ease the administrative burden of running a small or medium-sized business, so you can do what you do best — run your business. We already offer a full range of payroll, employee benefits and human resources services. Now, we are proud to be able to offer our clients fast, cost-effective and painless recruiting using HiringThing. In today’s tough economy, competition among job candidates is cutthroat. As unemployment remains high, tens of thousands of job-seekers continue to search for work online. Potential employees now use email, social media and video calling to apply to positions advertised online and even to conduct their interviews. As job-seekers rely more and more heavily on technology to seek out professional opportunities, employers must keep up. HiringThing offers small and medium-sized business owners easy-to-use features to quickly and easily drive traffic from the most desired applicants, check and monitor the statuses of desirable job candidates, keep records and maintain efficient communications with the most well-qualified potential employees. HiringThing allows business owners and hiring managers to:

  • Quickly and easily post jobs online
  • Synchronize job ads to multiple job boards
  • Post jobs on social media platforms
  • Buy premium job placements
  • Order background checks on job candidates
  • Manage employee referral programs
  • Forward resumes to other hiring managers
  • Keep notes on potential candidates
  • Find out where applicants are coming from with Applicant Analytics reports
  • Rank job candidates
  • Create customized questionnaires

HiringThing offers a range of intuitive communication tools, and a rich administrative interface. The company’s blog offers helpful tips for hiring managers and business owners, including information on how to write the best job descriptions, what to look for in terms of a potential employee’s personality and how to better conduct interviews with candidates. HiringThing offers a range of annual and monthly plans for all business budgets. All plans come with automatic resume parsing, analytics, disclosure statements, keyword matching, screening questions and SSL encryption, among other features.

Meeting a Need

CTO and founder of HiringThing, Joshua Siler, got the idea for HiringThing when he was working as a hiring manager for a midsized agency in Portland, Oregon. He wanted to streamline the cumbersome hiring process, but found a dearth of affordable, effective recruiting software. He started working on HiringThing to fill that agency’s need for fast, reliable, affordable and easy-to-use recruitment software. HiringThing launched in March 2012 with a total of eight beta customers. “Most of those companies are still with us today. They became our first paying customers in Q2 of 2012. Since then, it’s taken off, and we continue to grow at a huge quarterly rate, and we’re pretty excited about it, so it seems be working pretty well,” said Siler in an August 2013 interview with Startup Frontier. The new software has made it much easier for employees to take advantage of modern recruitment techniques when seeking new candidates. Though it remains important for employers to pursue traditional recruitment methods, business owners and hiring managers can no longer simply post a few job ads and expect the highest-quality candidates answer them. Today’s employers must increasingly rely on new and traditional modes of advertising, referrals, social media marketing and efficient job post advertising to attract and draw in the best candidates. HiringThing has partnered with a number of other companies to help small and medium-sized business owners find and hire the best job candidates. In addition to National PEO, HiringThing has also partnered with Simply Hired, Indeed, Glassdoor, Trovit, Talent Zoo, Just Jobs and Direct Employers. National PEO is pleased to announce our partnership with HiringThing, a new company providing efficient, fast and affordable recruitment software services to small and medium-sized businesses. This partnership will allow our clients to take advantage of HiringThing’s recruitment software to make finding and hiring the best job candidates easier and more painless. In conjunction with our payroll services and human resources solutions, we are confident that our partnership with HiringThing will help us to more efficiently lift the burden of administrative duties from the shoulders of our clients, so they can concentrate more fully on running their businesses
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