Why Employee Motivation Matters More in a Small Business

Employee happiness is nothing to laugh at. With the average cost of replacing an employee being as high as it is, it’s important that small business owners provide motivation for their workers to be good, long-term employees.

Small business owners may not have as much time to devote to making sure their employees are happy. They are too busy running the business, developing clients and increasing their revenues. While these are all important to growing and running a small business, it is a mistake not to factor employee happiness and motivation into the mix. The high costs of replacing valued employees mean a small business can really take a hit if they ignore keeping their employees happy and motivated. Small businesses often have fewer employees than large companies, so losing a valued employee or having employees who develop apathy or don’t care is even more costly to them. The average cost of replacing an employee can be as much as twice their base salary, and if they are very valuable, it can be even higher.

It is very important for small businesses to understand what motivates their employees. Understanding what employees want and ensuring they are happy and productive pays off in many ways and goes a long way to retaining them. As an employer, you can easily find out what your employees want and find a way to give it to them or enable them to earn it. Here are some ideas when it comes to employee happiness.

Communicate that you care

Employees should know and feel that you care. This helps foster a mutual respect and motivates them to perform at their best. Begin by using clear communication between management and staff. This will help to create a strong workplace culture. It doesn’t have to be expensive to send a positive message that you care about your employees. Little gestures such as providing coffee or having a holiday party help to communicate that the company cares.

Make them feel valued

Don’t hesitate to ask your employees for their opinions and feedback as this helps them feel valued and a part of your company. They can tell you what they need and want. Never make the mistake of assuming all is well when actually negative things may be festering under the surface, ultimately leading to costly employee turnover.  

Keep things casual

Allowing employees to go casual can go a long way toward motivation. This can be as simple as your dress code or allowing them to customize their workspace.

Beef up benefits

Here are some other considerations that can help keep your employees motivated. Choose and implement the ones that may work for your budget and your company:

  • Health dental and vision insurance
  • Flexible working hours
  • Paid vacation time
  • Flexible work schedules or work from home options
  • Tuition assistance
  • Day Care
  • Fitness center memberships
  • Team bonding events
  • Employee outings
  • Free snacks and coffee

These are only suggestions but any gestures you can make that help them feel positive about the company and that they are valued will pay you back tenfold in employee retention, employee motivation and on your bottom line.

Timothy A. Dimoff, CPP, president of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc., is a speaker, trainer and author and a leading authority in high-risk workplace and human resource security and crime issues. He is a Certified Protection Professional; a certified legal expert in corporate security procedures and training; a member of the Ohio and International Narcotic Associations; the Ohio and National Societies for Human Resource Managers; and the American Society for Industrial Security. He holds a B.S. in Sociology, with an emphasis in criminology, from Dennison University. Contact him at info@sacsconsulting.com.


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  • Next up: Why Good Design Is Good Business
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  • Why Good Design Is Good Business

    It takes less than a second for someone to form an opinion of you based on what they see. This means your website, marketing campaigns and marketing collateral are a huge determinant in whether you land the account, customer or investor you’ve been vying for. I am fortunate to carry the title of Creative Marketing Manager, a.k.a Graphic Designer at Outreach Promotional Solutions so I spend a lot of time educating my clients on the importance of good design. While a design investment for your business might not signal a clear ROI, it is crucial for gaining traction with almost any campaign.

    It takes less than a second for someone to form an opinion of you based on what they see. This means your website, marketing campaigns and marketing collateral are a huge determinant in whether you land the account, customer or investor you’ve been vying for.

    I am fortunate to carry the title of Creative Marketing Manager, a.k.a Graphic Designer at Outreach Promotional Solutions so I spend a lot of time educating my clients on the importance of good design. While a design investment for your business might not signal a clear ROI, it is crucial for gaining traction with almost any campaign. 

    I get it. As a business owner or marketing leader, you have hundreds of concerns to deal with on a day-to-day basis. It’s tempting to ignore the need for clean, aesthetically pleasing designs; however, recognizing the value can be an integral step in establishing and growing your brand. Learn more from us in these four points about good design below. 

    Good Design Tells Your Brand’s Story

    Your brand should tell the story of your business, i.e., who you are and why you are passionate about what you do. This goes beyond a logo and a website. Tell your clients why they should purchase a product or service from you. Each individual has a story that makes them unique, just as each business has a story that speaks to their integrity, passion and credibility. Your story should make someone have an emotional reaction and can create an experience. Let your design do the talking. Words can only say so much.

    Good Design Promotes Team Unity

    Establishing your brand with your customers cannot happen until your employees become brand ambassadors. Your creative space, website and stationery should all serve as a reminder to your employees of what you do and why you are doing it. These are the people who are communicating your values and story to your customers through phone calls, emails and meetings. Get your team on board with a firm understanding of who you are through good design, and the rest will begin to fall into place.

    Good Design Gives you Street Cred

    Okay, so maybe it doesn’t give you street cred, but it does establish a sense of credibility among your customers. Consider how many times you’ve looked at bad design and instantly decided the company didn’t quite have it all together. Your goal should be to look professional and effortless. Your customers and clients want to feel like they can tell you exactly what they want and you will have the know-how to tackle it correctly the first time, ultimately saving them time and money.

    Good Design is Memorable

    Good design strategically uses colors, typefaces, imagery and mood across all communication platforms to reiterate a message. The more they hear from you, the more your prospects and customers will remember you and think to recommend your product or service to others. Consistency will ensure a clear message is shared every time, without fail.

    Clean, attractive design shouldn’t be placed on the back burner when it comes to your business. Former CEO of IBM, Thomas Watson Jr. is known (among other successes) for his statement, “good design is good business.” We couldn’t agree more, Mr. Watson.

    Sean Miller is Creative Marketing Manager at Outreach Promotional Solutions

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  • Next up: Win the Security War
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  • Win the Security War

    Data security is a big buzzword today. How secure is your network? Get the knowledge you need to keep the bad guys at bay.

    Data security is a big buzzword today. How secure is your network? Get the knowledge you need to keep the bad guys at bay.


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  • Next up: Windows 10 from Microsoft is Here
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  • Windows 10 from Microsoft is Here

    Windows 10 from Microsoft is here.  It’s getting a fair amount of positive buzz (add or subtract the obligatory Microsoft love/hate, of course). Oddly enough much of the buzz has been generated by the nature of the upgrade as much as the OS itself.  And that information has led to as much confusion as the product itself.

    Windows 10 from Microsoft is here.  It’s getting a fair amount of positive buzz (add or subtract the obligatory Microsoft love/hate, of course).

    Oddly enough much of the buzz has been generated by the nature of the upgrade as much as the OS itself.  And that information has led to as much confusion as the product itself.

    First of all, a disclaimer.  We’re a Microsoft Silver Partner.  I have enough Microsoft Credential initials after my name to choke a horse.  We first started using Windows 10 back in October ’14 when it was first available as a Beta (whoops, “Preview”) edition.

    And it’s pretty good.  Gone (unless you want it) was the touch-biased menu structure, with a great compromise menu that combines both touch and mouse strengths and sensibilities.

    Add Cortana, better integration with Office 365 and speed improvements, it looks even better.  The new “Edge” browser?  So far…meh.  Some sites are great, others not so much (so I keep using IE on some sites, Chrome on others, and Edge on yet others).  Some of the security improvements (like ones that will enable cute kids to log on for the rest of their lives) are forthcoming.

    But there are a lot of sites that will talk about that.  I want to talk about…upgrading.

    Yup, the free upgrade.  That you should absolutely take advantage of.

    Unless you shouldn’t.

    If you can.

    Microsoft announced that a free upgrade for users of Windows 7 and Windows 8.  The offer is free until July 29th, 2016.

    Is it free for everybody?  Ahhhh….no:

    • If you have Windows 7, you need to be updated to Service Pack 1.  If you patch your computer, you should be ok.
    • If you have Windows 8, you need to be updated to Windows 8.1. If you patch your computer, you should be ok.
    • Your version of Windows needs to be a registered copy.  Got a pirated copy of Windows?  Microsoft isn’t going to upgrade you for free.
    • Windows 7 and 8 Enterprise are NOT eligible for the free upgrade.  This one is interesting.  When companies purchase a license agreement with Microsoft, they have the ability to include free upgrading (aka “Software Assurance,” or “SA”) as part of the agreement.  If they did include SA and it’s still active, then the company can upgrade to Windows 10 without cost.  If they didn’t purchase SA or the SA has expired, then they’re out of luck.
    • Windows RT is not eligible for the free upgrade.  Windows RT is for all purposes “Windows Lite,” and not really Windows.  It’s kinda like the “Star Wars Holiday Special”.  Yeah, Chewbacca was in it.  But it’s not really Star Wars.

    Bottom line, the free upgrade is aimed at consumers who got Windows 7 or 8 when they bought their computer.  For companies that purchased their desktops and laptops that way (also called Original Equipment Manufacturer, or OEM), you’ll be ok if you control upgrades through your network (through services such as WSUS).

    So…should you upgrade?  Want to see a video presentation on the topic?  Click here.

    Honestly, the answer (as always) is…it depends.  By and large I’ve heard mostly good stories about people doing the upgrade (we’ll get to how in a minute).  Absolutely there are exceptions.  For the most part it’s about the drivers (isn’t it always?).  Drivers are small programs that help Windows use the components (such as the monitor or network card).  Usually (not always) they are fairly easy to fix.

    My rule of thumb for upgrading a computer is “the older it is, the closer it is to the grave.”  That’s especially true for applications on the computer.  If you’ve got an application that was originally created for Windows 2000, the odds are pretty good that it won’t work on Windows 10.

    Some folks think that’s horrible, and make claims of built-in obsolescence, lazy coding, or just plain meanness on the part of Microsoft.

    But it actually makes sense.  Back in 2000, computers were big boxes with (compared to today) tiny brains, not much ram, and very slow disk drives.  And security?  That meant that you only told your best friends about the password on the post-it note under the keyboard.

    So I have this perfectly landing wheel that came from a Sopwith Camel flown back in 1917 or so.  For some reason it won’t fit onto my (relatively) new F-15 Eagle fighter jet.

    No wonder.

    So do you have old applications?  Printing to an old printer?  Have an old brain (like me) that doesn’t really want to learn anything new?

    Then maybe Windows 10 isn’t for you.

    Actually, by most measures Windows 10 should be faster than its predecessors.  Well, kinda.  It’s faster on a lot of things if you don’t have the minimum hardware requirements.

    Also, keep in mind that Microsoft is changing the way that they’re going to patch systems.

    Gone are the days when users could ignore patches.  Microsoft is pretty much going to apply patches to your system automatically.  You can choose to get them immediately or draw it out for a time, but ultimately you’re going to get them.

    Why is this?  The first is to help you.  Patches are actually there for a reason.  They either fix something that was broken, close a security hole, or add a new feature.

    (Unless, of course, the patch actually breaks something or creates a security hole that a hacker might see as a “new feature.”  But what are the odds of that<g>?)

    Actually patches on desktops that actually break things seriously are fairly rare.  There were a couple that Microsoft released within the past year that did conditionally cause problems with certain installations of Office and One Drive.  But otherwise it’s actually been fairly stable.

    Here’s the other issue.  Think about Microsoft (poor old Microsoft).  Think about the people who develop programs that run on Microsoft (poor old people who…you get the idea).  And finally, think of us, the people who support the people who use the computer (people like you!) that lived in the house that Jack built.

    Not only could we be dealing with a computer that was manufactured with a zillion different components from a zillion different manufacturers, but we have (for now) 3 different supported operating systems (7, 8.1, 10).  Each of them have a full history of patches, and computers today can have some, all or none of the patches installed.

    And yet we’re all expected to support all of these workstations and keep them running.

    What if for each operating system we knew that they were relatively up to date in terms of patching?  Supporting and maintaining the system would become much easier.  And security would be much tighter.

    A nice concept.



    To hear more from Bob, attend his workshop at the Small Business Convention, "Business Software Trends - What Tools will Help my Business Grow?" on October 22 at 10:30 a.m.

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  • Next up: Winter is Coming: Lock in Your Fixed Natural Gas Plan Today
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  • Winter is Coming: Lock in Your Fixed Natural Gas Plan Today

    Early forecasts are predicting another colder than normal winter, and natural gas rates could continue to increase. As a business owner, you know that utilities impact your bottom line. And with winter on the horizon, it’s time to ensure that you are locked into the right rate.

    Early forecasts are predicting another colder than normal winter, and natural gas rates could continue to increase. As a business owner, you know that utilities impact your bottom line. And with winter on the horizon, it’s time to ensure that you are locked into the right rate.
     
    Why bother changing rates? 

    Last winter was among the coldest in Ohio’s history.  The polar vortex was responsible for record-breaking low temperatures and high gas consumption, depleting reserves of natural gas.  Currently, the Energy Information Administration reports those reserves are more than 15 percent below the five-year average, which could continue to negatively impact gas rates going into next winter. Additionally, some weather sources predict next winter to be colder than average, which could further impact prices.

    What can you do about it?  

    Enroll in a fixed rate plan that guarantees a low rate through next winter.  A 12-month fixed rate with COSE’s natural gas program offers you the lowest rate – if you find a lower publicly offered annual fixed rate1 during your term, we’ll match it or let you out of your contract at no cost to you!

    COSE and Integrys partner to offer you the best available rate of $4.79 per mcf for 12 months, at your office and your residence. 

    *Prices reflected are for Dominion territory customers.  The rate for Columbia customers is $0.623 per ccf.

    Call Integrys to enroll today 1-888-878-5420 and safeguard against volatile costs. 


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  • Next up: You Are Efficient, Now What?
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  • You Are Efficient, Now What?

    The Dominion Non-residential Energy Assessment Program provides the opportunity for businesses to learn what steps to take in order to reduce their energy use and save money. Unfortunately, some businesses do not qualify for this program. So where does that leave a business? I had the opportunity to speak with one of these building owners recently and was impressed with the steps that had been taken. I was happy to provide guidance on next steps including more advanced technologies and savings opportunities.

    The Dominion Non-residential Energy Assessment Program provides the opportunity for businesses to learn what steps to take in order to reduce their energy use and save money. Unfortunately, some businesses do not qualify for this program. So where does that leave a business? I had the opportunity to speak with one of these building owners recently and was impressed with the steps that had been taken. I was happy to provide guidance on next steps including more advanced technologies and savings opportunities.

    This 40,000 sq. ft. facility had upgraded their lighting to a combination of more efficient fluorescent tube lights and LEDs several years ago. The construction of the building provides good insulation properties and the HVAC system is being maintained and managed to reduce wasted energy while providing comfort to the employees. Since the business owner had proactively tackled the traditional “low hanging fruit” of energy efficiency, he did not know what else he could do. In most cases, an energy assessment would be the first step, but in some instances, like this one, the cost of the assessment may not be recovered from the savings that are found. Now what? In this instance, more advanced options are still available and with efficient buildings, electrical generation becomes a reasonable next step.

    Windows:

    Replacing larger components of the build - particularly old windows - may be an investment that's time has come. In this case however, the windows are older but not awful, and replacement quotes caused sticker shock, but there is another option. Window films have made great advances over the years and are now able to provide significant insulation and reduce heat gain from the sun, while also providing UV protection to prevent fading and discoloration of materials inside. At a fraction of the cost of new windows, this building could gain additional insulation to help heat loss in the winter, and reflective coatings can reduce heat gain and air conditioning use in the summer.

    Controls:

    HVAC equipment uses a large amount of energy. Proper maintenance and managing temperature set points is the first step for energy savings. The next step may be to consider a more advanced control system. High-rise office towers and giant facilities have very advanced control systems with costs that can run to the million dollar range. For more modest-sized buildings like this 40,000 sq. ft. example, an internet-based thermostat will provide savings and control at a more reasonable price point, beyond just a traditional programmable thermostat (which is basically a timer that can set the temperature). Internet thermostats allow both greater control and effective feedback regarding how the equipment is running. The controls can be accessed through computers and even smart phones so changes can be made as needed. Another bonus is that information regarding the efficiency of the equipment and mechanical problems can be sent automatically so they can be dealt with before expensive emergency service calls are needed.

    Generation:

    So now your building is energy efficient but you are looking for more savings. Solar photovoltaic is a good option; yes, even in Ohio. The continued decline in costs and increases in efficiency has made solar panels cost effective for most buildings. This particular building is occupied during the day, has a large flat roof and no obstructions (like trees or other buildings) blocking the way. So it is a good candidate for rooftop solar to generate 60-80% of its annual electric need. Thanks to a variety of financing options, projects like this can be cash flow positive from day one.

    Most of the buildings we see in the Dominion Non-Residential Energy Assessment Program have projects that can save energy: from the low cost/no cost opportunities that are primarily behavioral, to projects involving lighting, HVAC equipment, or the building envelope. Even buildings where the owner has previously addressed energy saving projects, is knowledgeable in this area, and motivated to be energy efficient may still be missing out on opportunities. Every building and company is different and having an energy assessment or a conversation about how the structure is operated and used may provide the necessary information to get your building to that next level of energy savings. Dominion Northeast Ohio customers under 25,000 sq. ft. can get a full assessment paid for by Dominion, which is a good idea even if you think you are efficient. If you do not fit into that category, a full energy assessment to provide guidance, project cost and savings estimates may still be a cost effective means of reducing your energy bills and more than pay for the assessment. It might be that you just need to talk with a trusted energy advisor to determine where the hidden savings can be found. You’ll never know until you call.


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