Talent Optimization and Retention in the Age of COVID

Maintaining a healthy company culture and happy employees will always matter—even while millions are on unemployment and the power lies with employers. The economy has employers and employees alike feeling a bit trapped. Even if you find yourself with employees who feel they aren’t in a position to leave their job, you should still want them to be engaged and productive while they’re with you.

What happens to companies that have unhappy, disengaged employees? They fail. As your employees are responsible for generating the company’s success, you need them to be positively contributing to the organization. Now more than ever, you need employees to feel dedicated to their roles and your company as a whole.

Here are a few ways to build up both your employees and the company simultaneously.

Professional Development

Offering opportunities to develop and improve skills isn’t just something employees want—it also helps deepen your company’s assets, at a fairly low cost. Companies like Skillshare, Lynda.com, and edx.com, all offer reasonably priced online courses for professional development in subjects ranging from marketing to project management to graphic design.

Take advantage of these easy-to-access tools, offering your employees a chance to learn and grow. Through this training, you’ll be developing stronger relationships with your team, maximizing talent, and preparing employees to flourish within your company.

Hiring from within

While many companies struggle to effectively hire from their pool of existing talent, doing so is not only cost-effective and saves time but helps foster an environment of dedication and growth.

Train your managers so they can recognize when an employee has the potential for something different, and also allow the managers the authority to take action. It can be challenging for managers to allow for this growth when they have highly functioning employees who do their jobs well. The managers have little incentive to take a person out of their role, even if they would be a great fit elsewhere in the company.

Make sure you’re training your managers to train their teams with the goal of growth. And to plan for the eventuality that they will move on to other roles.

Compensation matters

While employers understand that compensation is often a defining reason for turnover, its importance can’t be stressed enough. Employees are working to make money. Above all other perks and benefits, it’s what they need the most. Money is high on the list of factors that play into an employee choosing to stay or leave their position.

Compensation doesn’t just say something about how your company views the role an employee has. It also puts a numerical value on exactly how much an individual employee matters to the organization. Compensation also has a direct effect on how an employee views themselves within the company and factors into their satisfaction, dedication, and loyalty.

What you need to do is simple: make sure you are paying your employees what they’re worth, or they’ll leave for a job that will.

In this together

Whether or not the economy is struggling, you and your employees are in it together. By carefully strategizing, you can make decisions that have a positive impact on your business and the individual lives working within your organization. The talent of your company—what makes people want to work with you and buy from you—comes directly out of the talent working for you.

Lean into that talent. Boost it up and recognize it. Give it a platform to grow, and you’ll create an enriching work environment that mobilizes your company growth and pushes you towards success.

 

Photo by Anton Yankovyi

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

 

Five Easy Ways to Improve Your Website

These days, businesses have more options than ever when it comes to building their website. And while there are great DIY tools you can use to build a website at a low cost, if you’re not trained in design, you might be doing yourself more harm than good. Whether you like it or not, the design of your website will play a significant role in your visitors’ perception of your company and brand.

If you’re building your website yourself, pay attention to these five design concepts to keep your visitors engaged.

1. Make some room

One common mistake companies make is squeezing a ton of information into a small amount of space. While you may think that information is essential and useful to your customer, if it doesn’t have room to breathe on the page, no one will spend the time to read it. Designers refer to this useful little concept as “white space.”

White space is essentially the negative space surrounding anything on a page (or piece of content). It functions as a mental “break” for viewers, creating a visual pause between pieces of information. If you don’t leave enough white space on your page, the information you present will quickly become overwhelming and cumbersome to consume.

This goes for text, images, videos, or any combination of content. Be sure you’re leaving your viewers’ brains “room to breathe” on your site. Create this white space by breaking up your site into sections, or strips of content, using different solid color backgrounds to create visual separation between sections. For further explanation and examples, check out this beginner’s guide to understanding whitespace.

2. Cut. It. Out.

A challenge many companies have is identifying what information should be on the site. Business owners often love talking about their company and tend to feel the need to offer up way too much information than necessary for a website.

The content on your site should be:

  • Concise
  • Clear
  • To the point
  • High level (not in-depth and detailed)

You don’t want your site to tell your customers everything they might ever need to know about your business. You do want your website to intrigue your customers enough to want to start a conversation with you.

Do yourself a favor and keep your About Us page short, keep the subject of your messaging centered around your customer, and keep your explanation of your products and services as Simple. As. Possible.

3. Content, content, content

When it comes to grabbing and holding the attention of your visitors, it helps to do your research. Different types of content have different strengths and functions, so knowing how and where to offer varying types of content can be extremely helpful.

Integrating video content, visual graphics, and written content throughout your site will help visitors consume information and expand their understanding and connection to your brand and product/services. If you’ve got a particularly important piece of information you want to share, consider putting it into a short video to help it stand out from the rest of the information on your site.

4. Simplify the journey

An easy way to turn people away from your site is to overwhelm them with options. To simplify and clarify their journey through your site, avoid having multiple pop-ups on one page, or too many CTAs in one space. Two is fine, but offering three or more directions for a visitor to go may overwhelm and frustrate them.

Keep your message obvious. Think about what it is you want your readers to do and then stick to that. If a visitor has to exit out of multiple pop-ups, alerts, and chatbots to get to the information on your page, you’re only getting in your own way.

5. Optimize

Making sure your site works well on mobile devices should be a top priority. For the past few years, more than half of all web traffic happens on mobile devices – more than half of all your website visitors are viewing your website on their phones! If your site isn’t optimized to function properly on a mobile device, you’re setting yourself up for readers who won’t get the information you want to share and likely won’t come back.

Take your time, and do it right

75% of people will judge the credibility of your company based on your website’s design. It’s the first real interaction you’ll have with the majority of your customers. If you want that experience to be a good one, then take the time to build a site that represents the brand you love. It’s worth it.

 

Photo by goodluz

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

 

More Than a Logo: How a Strong and Consistent Brand Impacts Your Entire Organization

Often, when the topic of branding comes up, thoughts of logos, colors, and fonts preclude all else. But your brand is so much more than that! Your voice, messaging, company beliefs and values, vision, and purpose come together to create a cohesive story that impacts everything from external marketing to internal company culture.

How your brand affects how others perceive you

A strong brand will do wonders for your marketing. By incorporating your voice, values, and purpose into your messaging, you begin to establish your brand as a consistent presence in your industry or market. This consistency distinguishes your company from your competitors and gives you a leg up in the marketplace. You’ll begin to build trust with your prospects earlier in the buyer’s journey, establish deep lines of customer loyalty, and increase your company’s credibility.

But your brand doesn’t just affect your audience. In fact, its effects on your organization are far more significant and much more important than anything seen from the outside.

How your brand affects your perception of yourself

When you have a cohesive brand, your whole organization is improved from the inside out. You’ll find employees more aligned, teams working together more efficiently, and productivity increased.

Cross-departmental communication can often be a pain point for larger organizations. With a strong brand, though, consistency is easier to achieve, and communication becomes streamlined through the natural guide created by the values and vision that make up your brand.

Clearly defined company values can even improve your recruiting and hiring process! Your brand provides candidates the ability to determine if they will feel good within your company. When you find someone who aligns with your brand and seems like they could play a vital role in achieving your company’s vision, you’ll find that they’ll be a good fit for your culture, and the transition will be natural.

Refining from the inside out

If you’ve never taken your organization through a branding process, it takes a while. It’s not a simple checklist or a short survey. It will entail philosophic conversations around the very existence of your business and might bring up uncomfortable topics that need to be addressed. But the time and energy you pour into it will result in a business and brand that you and your team can proudly stand by and celebrate. Your audience will see the confidence and pride from miles away and will inexorably be drawn towards you.

 

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Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Combating Presenteeism in the Workplace

Most employers have a good idea of the negative impact that employee burnout has on their culture, bottom line, engagement, and turnover rates. Needless to say, it’s big. Many things can lead to employee burnout, but most often left out of the conversation is the problem of presenteeism 

Presenteeism is the act of coming into work when you are not entirely up for it, either because of illness or mental health, and working at a reduced capacity. This leads to increased burnout because it stresses the body and mind when it should be resting, and is instead straining energy resources and stamina. 

Successfully approaching the problem requires a multi-pronged approach.  

Set the tone 

While employees may read in your handbook that their wellness matters, it may not be evident within your culture. If you have managers and leaders within your company that pedestalizes employees who work overtime or come in when they are sick, you might as well be telling others that is the expectation of all employees.   

Make sure you not only encourage people to stay home when they are sick, but also make a concerted effort to identify when people are at work when they shouldn’t be. And when that inevitably happens: Send. Them. Home. 

Sick days aren’t enough 

While sick days are essential, they don’t encompass all the other valid reasons for not coming in to work. Taking a day off for mental health reasons is just as valid as doing so because of physical illness. In today’s culture, younger generations are prioritizing mental health and wellness and want to see their company do the same.  

Make an effort to destigmatize the topic of mental health in your workplace and encourage people to go home when they need the day off. Doing so will help you build strong relationships with your employees based on trust, loyalty, and care. When employees feel taken care of and are free to take care of their personal needs, they will become deeply invested and engaged with your company. The loss of one day of work may be all the difference someone needs to help them return with more energy, drive, and dedication.  

Learn how to ask 

Despite telling your employees it’s ok for them to stay home for personal reasons or due to illness, many people will push themselves to go into work regardless of their condition. It may take time for these employees to unlearn unhealthy working habits, and as leaders, it’s your job to help them do so.  

Take care to notice when someone seems burned out, on edge, or sick. Take the initiative to ask how they are doing. In some cases, you may need to ask twice to get a genuine answer as the robotic response of, “I’m good!” because it’s so ingrained in our unconscious reactions.  

When someone does tell you they’ve been having a hard time, or even just having a hard day, ask them to take the rest of the day off. Or suggest they take the following day off. This small act will help those who may not have even considered taking time off to take a step back and re-evaluate. These actions show employees that not only are you paying attention to their wellbeing but that you are prioritizing it.  

Lead by example 

If staying home from work makes you cringe, then this is for you. Yes, it is true that as leaders, you have the responsibility to show up consistently for your employees. But you ALSO have the responsibility to lead by example, to take care of your own wellbeing, and to show your employees that taking care of themselves isn’t just encouraged, it’s expected.  

Being open and honest about why you are taking the day off may make a more significant impact than you’d expect. For instance, if you were to tell your staff you’re taking the day off for mental health, you are doing two powerful things: 1) you’re making a statement that mental health should be prioritized, and 2) you’re showing your employees that it’s ok to acknowledge mental health in the workplace. Being known as a leader who expects their employees to act like humans and not robots is a gift both to your employees and your company.  

What goes around, comes around  

The lovely thing about becoming a company that does this is the reciprocal nature of the relationships you’re building within your company. As people are treated well and encouraged to take care of themselves, they will, in turn, treat your company well and value their roles within it. Taking this approach with your employees may have a lasting effect on their lives and your business. 

 If someone comes into your company from a culture that pushed them beyond what was healthy, their potential for growth is massive. They might not even be aware they have been burned out, but when you provide them with the opportunity they need to care for themselves, you may find that their store of energy and dedication grows and deepens beyond what you both imagined.    

Think of it like a wilted tree. The more nutrients and water you give it, the larger and more resilient it will become, bearing fruit that will feed the land around it. Nurture your employees like you would that tree, and watch as they amplify their power within your business and become the force that pushes your organization forward and up. 

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by Volodymyr Melnyk

 

A Call to Leaders: What You Didn’t Know You Owe Your Team

When you think about your role as a leader, what do you feel responsible for? Your growth as a company? Your employees’ wellness? Your company culture? Your customer’s satisfaction?  

 

For most, the list could go on and on. But in every case, there are a few things that employers have a duty to provide to their employees: 

  • A safe working environment 
  • Sufficient training 
  • Fair compensation 
  • Equal opportunity for growth 

 

You probably agree. This stuff is pretty basic. But providing these things to your employees doesn’t necessarily ensure their success at your company.  

 

How you and your leadership team engage with your employees is what makes the difference.  

 

Your personality and vision determine your leadership style  – you may favor coaching or a fast-paced, high-intensity environment. Regardless of the approach, one simple trait is necessary for strong employee engagement: clarity.  

 

Yes, really.  

 

Many leaders who bemoan their frustratingly slow company culture, or their low employee engagement will look to solutions like employee benefits, PTO, and the general concept of “employee experience” to help them solve their problem.  

 

Leaders rarely look to their own style of leading when they respond to flaws in their company. But that’s a mistake. As a leader, you set the pace and tone of your company. You are the key to ensuring your employees are successful. So, it’s only reasonable you should evaluate your impact on the issues your company is facing.  

 

This can be a touchy subject. You care deeply about your employees, and you’ve worked extremely hard to provide them with what you believe they deserve. You’re nice. You’re encouraging. You’re patient.  

 

But if you’re not able to be direct about expectations and feedback, all that niceness you value flies out the window.  

 

Most people are afraid of confrontation, including leaders. We don’t want to hurt people’s feelings or make them angry or upset them in any way. And we don’t want to be uncomfortable.  

 

But here’s the reality: your comfort matters much less than your duty to provide your employees with clarity.  

 

Yes, you owe it to them. 


It may feel harsh to set clear and specific expectations of your employees. But put it in perspective. Remember that teacher in school who everyone loved, but was known for being strict? They let their students know homework was due at the beginning of class and no later. If you turned it in late? No credit. But their classes were terrific. Why
 

 

Because every student knew precisely what to do to be successful. 

 

They were given clear boundaries that worked as markers on the road, steering them in the right direction and keeping them on track. They would know when they didn’t meet expectations because those markers were plainly and directly pointed out from the start.  

 

No one called that teacher mean. No one resented them for their rules. In fact, those rules provide a modicum of relief to students. When the path to success is laid out before you, you don’t have to spend time worrying about whether or not you’re doing okay. You can see when you’re off the road and when you’re on.  

 

It’s the same for employers and employees. Are you able to tell your employee where they need to improve their work? Do your employees know when they aren’t meeting your expectations? Or do they have to go by sense? Do they know the expectations you have of them? Or do they have to assume?  

 

Uncomfortable? Do it anyway. 

 

If you’re squirming in your seat at the thought of sitting down with your employees and getting honest, then this is for you. The most influential leaders will have conversations explaining precisely what they want from their employees, set clear boundaries around expectations for them, and let them know when they’re off track.   

 

Discomfort around these conversations will go away with practice – for both of you. You may see uneasiness from your employees when you begin this honest approach, but that is to be expected from an adjustment like this. With a bit of time, you’ll see individual employees begin to thrive beyond your expectations. You’ll see your employees relax into the new expectations you’ve set. And you’ll see a new bond of trust form between you and your employees.  

 

Transparency works like street-lamps on a dark road. No one likes to drive in the dark. Given light, they can relax, sit back, and drive without fear of crashing. You owe it to your employees to provide that light. You’ll thank yourself in the end. 

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by scyther5