Cultivate a Healthy Work-Life Dynamic for the Health of Your Business

In this era of smartphones, email, texting, and social media, it’s too easy to always be available. The traditional lines that once distinctly separated work and home are no longer so clear. While all the communication tools we now have access to certainly have their advantages, there’s still a need for designated downtime and complete removal from work. We all need time to recharge and concentrate on family and personal needs.  

Employees are looking for a good work-life balance now more than ever before. And employers realize that by cultivating this dynamic, employees avoid burnout and work more effectively when they are on the clock.    

However, recognizing its importance is only part of it. Managers need to actively encourage and support it as well. Try these tips to promote a healthy work-life dynamic in your business. 

1. Find out what your employees need 

The definition of a healthy work-life balance will vary among employees, ranging from scheduling flexibility and total hours worked to supporting those who are responsible for the care of young children or elderly parents.  

The simplest way to determine your employees’ needs is to ask them. This may be best done through one-on-one conversations or having your team complete a survey. You’ll likely get a ton of useful information, and while you may not be able to accommodate everyone’s needs, the information should help you make changes to affect the majority of staff.  

2. Look for signs of burnout 

Employers should not only be assessing employee job performance, but should also be watching for signs of stress or burnout such as physical signs of fatigue, increased absenteeism, or poor job performance. When you notice signs of burnout, it would be an ideal time to talk with them about their responsibilities and assess their workload.  

3. Provide employee education on the importance of work-life balance 

Educate your staff on the benefits and importance of a healthy work-life balance. Offer webinars, on-site speakers, or access to online apps that teach your team how to live a healthier lifestyle.  

4. Promote good physical and mental health 

Critical components in supporting a healthy work-life dynamic include supporting both physical and psychological health. Encourage employees to live an active lifestyle. Support them with reimbursements for gym memberships or other physical activities, organize group participation in local runs/walks, or simply provide space for people to share pictures and stories of their adventures.  

Encourage employees to pay attention to their mental health. Support them with creative outlets at work, offer opportunities to learn new skills, encourage time for personal recharging such as breaks during the day, vacations, or personal days. 

Be it physical or mental health, allowing flexibility to attend healthcare appointments is a great way to show that you value their health and want them to be able to bring their best selves to work. 

5. Consider flexible schedules 

Offering flexibility with schedules can be an easy opportunity to win some big points with your team. When it works for your company schedule, allow some flex time for employees to take care of their responsibilities outside of work – kids’ events, appointments, or caretaking.  

This fairly small gesture acknowledges that you support your team not only as employees but as individuals with families of their own. And that goes a long way to earning some much-desired loyalty.  

6. Support telecommuting 

Working remotely can be a great perk or a necessary business function. With more and more people leaving the traditional office setting, companies and entire industries are being created to cater to this demographic. While it may have seemed like a stretch a few years ago to make this dynamic successfully work for your company, give it a new look and see how it may be beneficial for your employees and your company as well. You may consider allowing remote work a few times a week or month, or you may find that it will enable you to hire much-needed talent from a different part of the country.  

If your concern has been productivity, or lack thereof, then part of the consideration should be to evaluate the systems you have for tracking and logging employee work, the communication protocols you have between employees and their supervisors, and the communication channels for the company.  

7. Take vacation 

Lead by example and let staff see that you consider it essential to take care of yourself and value time with your family. All too often leaders and employees alike accumulate paid time off, but are too hesitant to actually take a vacation. 

And when you are on vacation, set boundaries and limit your availability for phone calls and email. Show your team that vacation time should be cherished and taken without guilt. Plus, you’ll have the added benefit of actually being on vacation. It’s a win-win! 

Your company may not be able to accommodate some of these ideas due to the type of work you do. And that’s okay. But taking the time to show your staff that you care about them should be something every business can do.  

Supporting your employees as individuals shows that you’re paying attention – to them. And what do we want more than just about anything as human beings? To know that we’re seen and that we matter. Find ways to show your team that you care.  

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by melpomen

Create a Culture Where Innovation Thrives

The world of business is changing and changing quickly. Whether in the form of marketing, sales and prospecting, company culture and employee satisfaction, new solutions and practices are sprouting up everywhere. Competition has always been at the heart of our culture but keeping up with such a vast number of moving parts is a huge challenge.  

So how do you keep your business moving and growing in a constantly changing environment without breaking the bank? You take full advantage of the resources already available to you: your employees.  

Your greatest resource, your driving force, your differentiator—each one of your employees has their own set of experiences and tools they bring to the table, many of which you may not even know about. It’s critical to develop a company culture that enables employees to expand to their fullest potential so the pool of resources you have access to grows larger and more readily available.   

But how do you access those resources? How do you design a company that’s able to tap into the greatest potential of their employees, and thus the company itself?  

Here’s where to start: 

1. Accepting failure as part of the game 

Creating an environment where failure isn’t discouraged, but celebratedis key to making people feel comfortable trying new things. Failure is a symptom of having tried something, which is in itself a success. Teach your employees not to fear retaliation for having failed at trying something new. Instead, celebrate their initiative and use it as an opportunity to learn how to do better next time.   

The more people feel free to try out new things without being afraid of negative repercussion, the more willing they will be to give their ideas a shot.  

2. Change is expected 

Embracing innovation means there will be change. It’s core to the definition of change itself. Consider the many roles of your employees. Have you structured your company in a way that keeps people in placeor created a more fluid organization that allows for the flexibility and movement of your employees?  

When you bring people onto your team, do you talk about how their roles might change or do you simply give them their handbook and leave them to it?  

If you allow your employees to get too comfortable doing the same thing over and over again, they will resist change. It makes sense, right? Change is difficult and takes work. If employees aren’t used to being asked to adjust to new ways of doing things, they’ll get frustrated and push back.  

Train your employees to expect change from the get-go. Get them excited about how their roles may develop and evolve over time and encourage them to think critically about how things might be improved.  

That way, you have a team full of people who aren’t afraid to go full speed ahead with new initiatives, technologies, and systems. You’ll also start to attract employees who are big thinkers and who value a rich, ever evolving office discourse. Sound like the people you want working for you? 

3. Leadership 

You probably know that company culture comes from the top down. It isn’t enough just to expect your employees to come up with great new ideas. Leadership also needs to devote time and energy to thinking critically and looking for new solutions and opportunities for growth.   

Without the motivation of leadership, the energy and momentum needed for innovation will dwindle. There’s no problem solidifying what you’ve already got—especially if it works. But it’s just as important to keep your eye on the future. How will your company stand out from the crowd? What can you do to optimize your processes, expand your audience, and grow your business? What big new idea are you bringing to the table? 

The real value 

An innovative company is one that can keep up with changing markets and evolving competitors. Investing in practices that cultivate and nurture innovation in your company is investing in your company’s present and future.   

People want to be a part of growth and are inspired by a company that values a healthy exchange of ideas. You never know what you can accomplish if you keep your company flexible and open to the next big idea.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by yarruta

Building A Foundation for Communication

Internal communication is at the very heart of making sure your company is running smoothly. Not just within each department, but between departments, leadership, and HR. You’re probably nodding your head (or rolling your eyes) because this is basic, like really basic, for every company ever. So why are we writing about it? Because lack of communication is something many businesses struggle with and it can cause big problems. 

When a company suffers from a lack of communication, there’s always fallout: 

  • Accountability drops 
  • Resentment builds 
  • Important information gets lost  
  • Initiatives fail 
  • Employees start looking for other employment 

The list can go on and on and on. Lack of communication can leave employees feeling directionless and disengaged at the very least, and at worst, cost the business serious money in wasted initiatives, botched sales, and confused and frustrated customers.   

So how do you ensure your company is communicating effectively? Start by pick your channels. 

In-person meetings 

Setting up a reliable schedule for meetings is a key part of maintaining consistent communication. There’s a lot of talk about how meetings can be a waste of time if executed improperly and without an agenda, but that’s not a reason to stop having them. Instead, make them better.  

  • Set up weekly or monthly meetings between team leaders to review overall company goalsupdate each other on current projects and challenges, and stay uptodate on interdepartmental projects. Come into the meeting with an agenda and stick to it. If new topics come up during the meeting, make a note and address them at another time. 
  • Set up 5minute startofday meetings within departments for managers to highlight daily goals and agenda. 
  • Set up endofday (or week) meetings covering what has been accomplished and/or what needs to get done next.  

Digital communication 

Inperson (or video) meetings are critically important to developing relationshipsbut they shouldn’t be the only way of communicating. Supplement regular meetings with a digital communication channel to keep the communication flowing and document what’s been discussed.  

Thankfully, there are countless apps and programs companies can use for internal communication channels. While email is a standardit’s also so overused that it’s not always the most efficient way for companies to communicate internally. Think about your inbox—there are probably emails waiting to be sorted, emails you haven’t had time respond to, and emails you’ve forgotten entirely. Add in the back-and-forth messiness that comes with email conversations and you’ve got a recipe for poor communication.  

While email can be a good option for some communications, it shouldn’t be the only one you use. There are plenty of apps such as Slack or Microsoft Teams that are great for more efficient and effective communication.  

With digital apps, you can have direct conversations between individuals. And you can also have conversations in a group format where everyone in the group can see what’s being discussed. Keep this really focused by setting up multiple discussion groups, and have each be for a specific topic. This lets people choose the topics relevant to themselves and their roles. 

Whether it’s a direct or group conversation, the digital apps provide a great way to have a string of conversation that is saved and easily searchable.  

Keep it consistent  

Consistency is at the core of good communication. Once you choose your channels, stick with them. Create an expectation that everyone from the top down consistently participates in the meetings and uses the technology. Make it clear how and when the different channels of communication will be used. The more they’re used effectively, the more people will depend on them, and the more efficient everyone will become. 

Leadership must set the example and take the lead in adopting any new technology. If your leaders are still stuck using email or the whiteboard in the common area, the time you spend training your employees to use the program will be wasted.  

If your company is struggling with a lack of clarity and communication, ask yourself if everyone has a reliable way to contact one another and discuss internal topics in a timely manner. Then ask if your leaders are committed to using those channelsPeople will do as you do far more than they’ll do what you say.  

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by Bonzami Emmanuelle 

 

Create an Atmosphere for Employee Contribution

In our world of rapidly changing business practices and marketing techniques, innovation is essential for keeping businesses in the race. Fostering a business that thrives off change and innovation may seem illustrious and distant, but it isn’t out of reach—even if you’re working with a small team. 

There are plenty of unique ways to get creative, but without first implementing these key concepts, your efforts won’t be as successful as you hope 

1. Create an atmosphere of psychological safety 

This may seem obvious, but its all too often taken for granted. At some point, most of us have worked under a manager who valued their position of power and resisted anything that might threaten it. Like that great idea you had about how to attract a new type of customer.   

“That’s great, but we like how things are now and we don’t want to upset the balance we’ve created.” In other words: “I am comfortable being the shot caller and I don’t want anything to change in case it affects my position.”  

This behavior is not only toxic to the future of the company, but to the employees working around it. No one wants to be shot down for their idea, or to see their ideas get pushed aside over and over again. Eventually, they’ll stop speaking up and start looking for a job where the contribution of their ideas is welcomed. 

Ensuring that every employee from each level of the company has the opportunity to share ideas expands your resources. Each employee is exposed to unique challenges and experiences based on their job, and they just might come up with something that management would never have thought of.  

Your employees are the driving force behind your vision and accomplishing your goals. Without a culture that praises and encourages new solutions, ideas, and tools offered up by employees, no one will want to contribute, and you’ll lose their buy-in. Show them you value their ideas by giving them the opportunity to share and act on them.   

2. Encourage collaboration  

Collaboration fosters imagination, productivity, and inspiration. Think back to the last time you had a great meeting with a group of people that fed off each other’s energy and ideas, where you got more done in an hour together than you had all month alone.  

Take advantage of this collaborative approach in your organization by giving employees opportunities to learn and expand their vision. 

  • Conferences are a great opportunity to get people working with each other and expose your employees to new ideas and techniques. They also provide a chance for you to stay up-to-date on what your competitors and peers are doing. Encouraging employees to attend conferences is also a great way to give them a refresher—get them out of the office and into something new so when they come back, they’ll be full of new ideas and energy.   
     
  • Teams 

Great teamwork is one of the most coveted accomplishments in business. Nothing generates productivity and success like a team that works together to implement new ideas and challenge the status quo. Building teams and a culture of collaboration is a huge part of getting ideas flowing and generating momentum within your company. Assign team leaders who are responsible for bringing new ideas to leadership to ensure they get heard and considered. 

  • Networking 

There are countless professionals in every area of business that are interested in helping and collaborating with each other. There isn’t anything to be gained from keeping your employees separate from other professionals in their field just because you don’t want to share with competition. There is plenty to go around, so don’t hesitate to send your employees out into their professional community to sus out new ideas, technology, and techniques.  

  • Aligning Departments 

Interdepartmental collaboration is so important, not just for creating an innovative culture, but to help align your business with your core goals and values. Set up meetings between departments to talk about the challenges they face and crowdsource ideas about how to address them. You never know, Sadie from marketing might just have the perfect solution for dealing with a common roadblock that is stopping sales from closing their leads. 

Taking full advantage 

It’s critical to remember that each employee at your company has something unique to offer. Each person has their own strengths, interests, and motivations. By building a culture that encourages and enables each employee to bring all their tools to the table, you’re diversifying your pool of potential solutions to any problem.  

The key is to remember the individuality of your employees and incorporate it into the heart of how you run your company. When employees can tell their ideas and solutions are valued, they are more likely to feel a sense of loyalty to their workplace. Not to mention heightened engagement. That’s what smart business is all about.  

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by Aleksandr Davydov

 

The Webinar: A Lesson Learned

Last week I did something professionals do all the time. I attended a webinar. It was advertised by an HR company I follow and the ad was effective and engaging. It highlighted three HR professionals who would be hosting the webinar and the core topics they were covering.  

It seemed like it was set up to be an extremely informative webinar where I could learn from HR leaders about core challenges and concepts relevant to HR professionals around the world today. So it’s not surprising that I was expecting to walk away from the webinar with new ideas and direction for how to approach the challenges facing HR.   

Sadly, I was both mistaken and disappointed. What could have been a great opportunity to learn, turned into what I can only describe as listening in on a loose and freeflowing conversation between all three hosts that was not only hard to track, but that lacked clear direction. Although the conversation was lively, it covered very basic topics that I come across every day in my reading but without the structure you’d get in an article.  

R.E.S.P.E.C.T 

You can have as many brilliant and successful people on your webinar (or presentation) as you’d like, but if you skip over what’s needed to prepare, you’re going to disappoint your audience.  

If you plan to host a webinar, presentation, panel, or anything that has people taking time out of their day to sit down and listen to you, you’ve got to take steps to prepare. Respect the time your audience has dedicated to listening to you, hoping to learning something.  

Define your goal 

You may have a great topic for your presentation, but if you don’t define your goalyou’re going to have a hard time untangling your topic into a clear story that your listeners can follow. This is especially true if you’re presenting with multiple people.  

You may all be experienced leaders with informed opinions, but without sitting down and defining your goal as a group, everyone is going to come to the presentation with a different goal in mind. This lack of structure is guaranteed to come across in your conversation.  

So sit down, and hash it out. Figure out what you want your listeners to walk away with. Is it a list of actionables they can use in their practice? Or a new way of thinking about an old topic? Or a better understanding of the drivers behind an issue? Whatever it is, figure it out beforehand and structure your presentation to support your goals.  

Visuals, visuals, visuals 

It may seem like a lot of work, but a webinar without visuals is like a foreign movie without subtitles. You may be able to follow along with the plot, but you’re going to lose a lot of the subtext at the very least.  

It takes work to capture and maintain people’s attention. You aren’t going to get it just by putting a few slides together with bright pictures and the questions you’ll be talking about on them.  

Break down your talking points. Go back to your goals and trace them into what you want people to take away from your presentation. Then write it down and put it on their screen. This will help your listeners process what you’re talking about and it will help you to stay on track as you talk. Listeners truly appreciate useful and informative slides. I have yet to attend a webinar and not had someone ask if the slides will be available after the presentation.   

Practice! 

Ok, you may be rolling your eyes at this one, but it can’t be stressed enough. I felt as though I was listening in on a phone conversation between three people who wanted to chat about their jobs. They interrupted one another, went on tangents, and it was hard to follow them 

Practice the presentation all the way through multiple times. Ask yourself at the end of each run-through what you think your audience walked away with. Ask yourself if it was clear and concise or if you went on unnecessary tangents that should be cut out of the actual presentation.  

This is a great opportunity for you to parse away any extra material that might clog the flow of the presentation and muddy your talking points and common goal. Figure out who is going to talk and when so you’re not interrupting each other and can step in for support if someone strays off topic.  

Even if it’s just you presenting, practice will help you clarify in your mind how you want to talk about the subject and what parts of it matter the most. When it is clear for the presenters, it’s clear for the listeners.   

If you’re going to ask people to take time out of their day to listen to you, you owe it to them (and you) to come prepared. You know you’ve got something worth talking about, otherwise you wouldn’t be there.  So show it! Treat your presentation like the valuable offer it is. Your audience will thank you, I promise.  

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by Teeramet Thanomkiat