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5 Ways to Keep Your Employees Happy





Employee retention directly affects your company’s bottom line. In fact, a high employee turnover rate can cost your business more than twice an employee’s salary to locate and train a replacement. Of course, fostering a positive work environment should be any leader’s goal, regardless of how it affects productivity and profitability. After all, how people feel when they’re at work plays a major role in how they feel in their personal lives.

In order to keep your employees happy, you need to be innovative and proactive. What works for one office isn’t necessarily the right approach for another. At the same time, there are some universal strategies – besides bonuses, vacation time, and other obvious prizes – that can breed a positive environment for you and your staff. Here are five simple changes that you can implement without breaking the bank:

  1. Express Gratitude Verbally and Regularly

In one workplace study, 70 percent of a 30,000-person group credited their co-workers for creating an engaging environment, rather than perks and amenities. It’s clear that person-to-person interactions are much more important than physical goods when it comes to employee happiness. At the same time, there’s certainly nothing at all wrong with giving corporate awards (more on that topic later).

It’s clear that expressing gratitude in conjunction with the award is what really makes the difference. As the old saying goes, it’s often the thought that counts. It can be so easy to forget to say “thanks” once in a while, so try to make gratitude a habit and a reflex, rather than a special occasion. Lead by example, and try to cultivate an environment where people appreciate each other.

Simple words of thanks are great, but try to be specific sometimes too. Express what you’re thankful for and how it will benefit the company. This shows your employee that your gratitude is thought out, and it also reinforces positive behavior. Simply knowing that hard work is appreciated motivates people to continue performing their best.

  1. Show Your Appreciation with an Award

Sometimes a verbal “thank you” just doesn’t cut it. After all, there should be a different sort of recognition for a basic task such as turning in a report than for a major achievement such as surpassing a monthly sales goal. Positive reinforcement is a powerful motivational tool, so take advantage of it whenever you get the chance. Give your staff or individual employees simple rewards to let them know they’re appreciated.

A small trophy or a customized plaque are both surprisingly affordable, and that type of corporate award can be a point of pride for the recipient, and it serves as an enduring reminder of a job well done. Awards also add prestige to your organization. You can be sure that a potential client, investor, or partner will take notice of awards. Instill confidence in those who are interested in working with your company.

  1. Give Your Employees Room to Breathe

Studies have consistently shown that micromanaging your staff simply doesn’t work. The most successful companies are made up of people who are trusted and given responsibility. Stepping back and hoping for the best can be a daunting move, but it’s usually going to work out in your favor. Overbearing management is a common cause of high employee turnover rates, and it creates a hostile work environment.

5144677794_242acb13e5_zWhile you do want to avoid micromanagement, you don’t want to step back too far outside the picture either. It may take some time, but eventually, you should be able to find a comfortable balance. You want to be involved, but also willing to let your employees do their jobs unimpeded.

Always remember that your team is made up of adults, and they deserve to be treated as such. Instead of focusing on negative aspects of an employee’s performance, try to reinforce the positive traits. You’ll see your team flourishing in no time.

  1. Hire Likeminded People

Not every applicant is going to be right for your office. A good resume is only one part of the equation. In addition to finding qualified employees, you want to hire people who will integrate into your office culture successfully. Choose applicants who genuinely believe in your company’s mission and products/services. The right cultural fit often makes a better employee than on-paper qualifications.

Of course, diversity is absolutely critical to the success of any office, so don’t base your hiring criteria on your favorite employee. Spend some time interviewing each candidate, and try to determine if they’ll bring something new and exciting to the table. People from all walks of life have an amazing ability to learn from each other, which helps your team to develop and progress as people over time. Try to hire people who are going to inspire your current team to thrive.

  1. Be Genuine

Sometimes an artificially positive environment is worse than authentic negative one. People can usually tell when someone is putting on a front, so try to be real at all times. If you’re having a tough day, it’s okay to acknowledge that. While you may need to put on your happy face at times, it’s important that your staff never views you as a phony.

man-person-sunglasses-relaxingSo how do you handle stress at the workplace? When you’re not feeling like your usual cheerful self, take steps to improve your mood, rather than hiding it. Bosses are people too, and vulnerability isn’t always a weakness.

Be mindful of how your mood can affect how your team feels, as one negative interaction – even an unintentional one – can start a domino effect. When you start to feel negative emotions, find somewhere private to unwind. Take a few deep breaths, do some yoga, go for a quick walk – whatever it takes to refocus.

Ask Your Staff for Suggestions

Finally, remember that your employees know what makes them happy better than you ever could. While you should be proactive in creating a positive workplace, don’t forget to include your team in the process. Ask them what you could do to create a better work environment. Listen to them when they have complaints, and then take action. The best leaders know how to communicate and listen, and they recognize the value that their employees bring to the table. The very act of wanting to improve morale is the first and most important step. Now, start leading by example.

Jeffrey Brauer is an office manager from Tacoma, WA who has over 16 years of experience running small to medium-sized companies. Jeffrey is passionate about sharing his refreshing and innovative management strategies. When he’s not hard at work, Jeffrey enjoys spending time with family and the great outdoors.

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How to Grow Your Nonprofit With Little Budget



It should come as no surprise that devoting time to a cause can be fulfilling. When you start one of your own, you will transform your life.

But establishing a nonprofit to take up said crusade comes with lots of barriers, namely financial. Traditional businesses often must figure out where the money will come from to make their vision a reality, and nonprofits are no different.

For nonprofit leaders with know-how and ideas but scarce financial capital, it’s an uphill battle. But it’s those who recognize their new nonprofits’ non-monetary value and how to translate that into viability who can bring those causes to fruition.

A Little Marketing Goes a Long Way

What nonprofits lack in budget, they more than make up for in positioning and branding. Organizations can mask their financial shortcomings by properly marketing each themselves and spotlighting who they are and what they can do.

That starts with communicating your purpose or company “brand.” Identifying your brand lets people know who you are and what you can do for others, which can go a long way in creating long-term relationships. From there, you want to avoid potential conflicts of interest or even the appearance of one: As owner, officer, or director, you should never personally profit from any transaction with your organization.

Once you’ve settled those things, you can market your nonprofit to its fullest potential. The next step is to take those attributes to events and platforms that feature opportunities to rub elbows with financiers with values similar to your own.

For nonprofits with limited funds, I suggest looking to corporations to sponsor a campaign. Dress for Success, for example, held a “clean your closet week” by asking professionals to donate clothing, and the campaign generated $400,000.

And when you find an actual sponsor, it can be a useful way to find other organizations that align with your mission. Let’s say you connect with a corporation known to work with homeless youth. It’ll have relationships with many other corporations that work with this same service sector, which can establish a ripple effect.

Do Good on a Discount

Outside of knowing how to sell your cause, the following tips are useful to help your growing nonprofit continue to scale:

1. Think intangible. When you’re on a tight budget and don’t have money to involve your nonprofit in initiatives requiring a cash investment, start off by marketing non-financial resources, such as your time and industry knowledge.

Not only will it provide your organization some much-needed exposure, but it’ll also give you and your other teammates a better idea of the work involved and a brief overview of your chosen nonprofit sector. Plus, it’s not a bad way to make connections.

2. Give in to the youth movement. Look for volunteers at area high schools. Talk with the local school councils and ask whether it’d be possible to create a partnership that would allow teens to volunteer for a school credit or as an extracurricular activity.

Position the volunteer opportunity as a way for teenagers to prepare for the future. After all, volunteering improves not just communities, but also participants’ social and communication skills. In fact, they often reap better advantages at college and on down the line.

3. See how the pros do it. Follow the activities of larger nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations. Check with international organizations like the United Nations; you may find opportunities for involvement and gain access to their funding pool.

Take NeedsList, for example. The online platform was created to help small grassroots groups connect with NGOs across the world in need of shoes, SD cards, and other supplies. Donors can choose to donate goods, money, or time, which brings us full circle.

As the adage goes, it’s not what you know but whom. No other sector exemplifies this more than nonprofit. For foundations on a shoestring budget, make connections, think about what you have to offer, and deliver on your purpose each step of the way. Then, you can let your personal transformation begin.

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Social Good Doesn’t Require a Non-Profit



You want your business to be a force for social good. Most importantly, you want to meet the needs of some target population with the warmth and care reminiscent of the most nurturing presence as opposed to a cold, heartless corporation. You believe your only option to be registration of your business as a non-profit. Chrystalyn Reid of non-profit Queen Esther Ministry states that she didn’t consider anything other than a non-profit, “Because I wanted to help people without worrying about a profit-making business.”

Social Good Dreams

Other options exist, but I want to first challenge your start-up launch with several organizing questions:

Are you under the impression that non-profits always have low budgets and low pay for employees? The average non-profit CEO makes between $97,000 and $123,462. Seventy-six of 4,587 charities pay their CEOs more than $500,000 per year in compensation. Seventy of those have an annual budget above $13.5 million.

Have you created an Outcome Logic Model for your social good business identifying the revenue streams that are possible within the business operations? The typical non-profit today makes only 21% of its revenue from donations. Over 72% comes from program service revenues which include government contracts. Many of those contracts are open to non-profits and for-profits alike.

Have you considered how your board and funding structure will impact the mission of your social good business? You may have heard recent public broadcasting stories about mission drift or mission creep. You will want to ensure that your business bylaws are written to guard the mission.

Another Option: B Corp

A B Corp is an organization founded for social good. According to the B-Corp website, B Corps “meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability, and aspire to use the power of markets to solve social and environmental problems.” Over 2,221 B Corporations are now certified from over 50 countries and 130 industries.

The choice of a B Corp structure over a non-profit structure for many is a question of funding. They choose non-profit proposing to fund the business through grants. A non-profit is the choice for those who want to provide a tax write-off to their donors and want to be eligible for grants that specify that only 501c3 corporations may apply. Yet, that explanation is a premature determination about how your corporation can make money. More specifically, if you conclude that your social good company can ONLY make money through donations from donors who require a tax write-off,

More specifically, if you conclude that your social good company can ONLY make money through donations from donors who require a tax write-off, non-profit is your only option. On the other hand, you can create value beyond the tax write-off. You may develop revenue streams other than grants. You could have a non-profit partner organization. In these cases, you may consider starting a for-profit with B Corp certification instead.

Mission Creep & Creepy Mission

Many launch non-profits because they believe that the money is not as important as the difference they can make. They focus on the people that they will help, the social good proposition, and the lives that will be changed rather than the bottom line. “My mission was never to make money. It was something that God called me to, to make a difference for women aging out of the foster care system,” Reid says about her non-profit.

This often means that these social entrepreneurs also neglect to focus on sustainability. Therefore, Marvin Olasky can tell the story in Renewing American Compassion of the multi-million-dollar social welfare building with few visitors. He compared this to a beloved, yet poorly funded child services non-profit. The non-profit operated with client numbers above its capacity.

Social workers and others working for social good are coming to grips with the fallacy of money as a dirty word (or after thought). They are also redefining their business models to avoid mission creep. They diversify offerings to access additional revenue streams without overextending the mission. The innovative method involves building programs for sustainability as well as mission achievement. They couple a profit mechanism within the service provision mix as the social good business model. The result are programs that support themselves.

Mental health agencies have been doing a version of this at the insistence of managed care organizations—billing for specific services. The difference in more recent innovations is to go beyond the billable scope of practice. Include a more holistic service cadre for clients. Those extended services, formerly out of scope, are funded through private donations, fundraisers, and now sales of manuals, merchandising, or sponsorship agreements.

The take away is that profits are not the enemy of social good. Failure to meet the mission is. As Reid of Queen Esther Ministry confirms, “As I’ve learned more about my business, I know the value of diversifying my revenue streams in addition to honoring my mission. I’m now exploring other revenue ventures through my business like holding a Summer camp.”

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Why 2017 Is the Year to Join Instagram




Did you know that by the end of 2017 around 70.7% of all brands are expected to have a profile on Instagram, or that businesses who have utilized their post boosting advertising options have been successful in 70% of cases?

A new report looks at these stats and a lot of other interesting data, which suggests 2017 is the year your business should join the popular social network.

A Large and Engaged User-Base

To have success in your marketing campaigns you must be able to get consumers invested in your products or services by creating an emotional response. Interacting with your target audience is the only way you can build their trust and accomplish this goal. This is where Instagram becomes such a powerful tool.

The platform is growing at a fast rate with over 300 million users logging on every single day. These users make an average of 95 million posts, which generate 4.2 billion likes!

The 18 to 30 demographic (the holy grail for a lot of businesses) accounts for 55% of Instagram’s users in the United States.

Furthermore, around 50% of all users follow at least one business’s account.

If you want access to consumers, Instagram offers a direct link which an audience broad enough to benefit any business large or small. Where the network really stands out, however, is its ability to engage users like no other.

Despite having far more active users every day, Facebook, for example, is not able to generate the same rate of likes, shares, and comments on posts. This is because Instagram focuses mainly on visual content, including photos, video clips, live streaming, and stories that expire after 24 hours.

Visual content is simply much more eye-catching and requires less mental attention than walls of text. The savvy marketer who can post professional shots of products, add value with informative videos, and craft a friendly and accessible brand image by showing the inner culture of the business – is almost certain to boost conversions and sales.

The Right Approach

Of course, accomplishing this is easier said than done. Fortunately, the infographic also gives us some insight to get you on the right track.

Building trust requires you to tread a fine line between over-selling and under-selling. Top brands post on average 4.9 times a week, so it’s wise to follow a similar pattern.

You must also remember to post at the most opportune times. Business accounts offer all sorts of analytics, so over time, you can narrow down what time is the best for your individual target audience. However, in general, the most users are active on Wednesdays at 5 pm. For newcomers, this would be a good time to post your most important content.

The data also explores the most popular emojis and hashtags, which can also be important when targeting your audience and getting them engaged.

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