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Author: wpadmin

Summer Hours: A Perk Your Team Will Love

Our office is located in downtown Roswell and typically by 2 p.m. on a Friday afternoon the streets are already beginning to fill with people getting an early start to their weekend.  If you’re like me, once Friday afternoon arrives and the out-of-office auto-reply emails from clients start hitting your inbox, your mind begins to wander.

No matter what business you’re in, it’s likely that your employees begin thinking about weekend plans early on a beautiful summer Friday afternoon.   Many companies now offer the inexpensive but morale boosting benefit of flexible summer work scheduling often known as “Summer Hours.”

A recent survey by CEB revealed that 42 percent of companies now officially sanction starting the weekend early, up 21 percent in 2015.

Offering a Summer Hours policy is an economical perk that builds engagement and can improve company culture. Typically summer hours schedules run from Memorial Day to Labor Day.  This is also the most common time of the year for employees to take a vacation.  So how can your company introduce a summer hour work schedule?  It’s important to recognize that one plan will not work for every company.  Tailor your specific program to what will work best for your company and employees.

Here are a few idea and suggestions for implementing a summer hours program at your company:

Longer weekdays for time off on Friday.  Employees work extra hours Monday through Thursday in exchange for a half day or the whole day off on Friday.  Employees still work 40 hours total. This method allows each employee to decide the schedule that fits their needs.  Employees can choose to opt in or out of the program depending on what works best for them.

Every other Friday off.  Stagger days so that half of the office is off on one Friday and the other half is off the next Friday.  This is a useful program for companies that see a dip in their workload during the summer, especially on Fridays.

Holiday half days. Many companies embrace a summer holiday half day policy.  This gives their employees a half day off the day before Memorial Day weekend, July 4th, and Labor Day weekend.  In many cases, there’s not much work going on during this period anyway and employees have more time to spend with friends and family.

Friday half days. Is there anything better than receiving an email informing you that you can take a half on Friday? Not every company will have the flexibility to introduce a full summer hours schedule.  If you can’t implement one of these programs but would still like to reward your employee choose a Friday where business is slow and give your employees the afternoon off.

Does your business offer flexible work schedules?  Send us your stories: ben.clayton@insight-communication.com

Your 2017 Summer Reading List: Books and Podcasts for Leaders

You pick up many new and fascinating concepts while at college. Most lectures eventually are forgotten, but some things stay with you forever. One memorable bit of advice a professor gave me was that good ideas should be shared, studied, and reused.

Summer is the perfect time to read about the strategies of successful leaders. So take some time in the next few weeks–while curled up in a sleeping bag or lounging poolside—to dive into a good book like one of these to guide your communications and leadership development.

  • True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership—Bill George and Peter Sims. True leadership requires you to be true to yourself. Bill George and Peter Sims take the stories of entrepreneurs and titans of industry to show how following your internal compass can lead you to succeed and inspire.
  • O Great One!: A Little Story About the Awesome Power of Recognition—David Novak. David Novak outlines the simple yet meaningful effect of acknowledging and appreciating the actions of one’s colleagues. This amusing, straightforward book is a must for anyone who aspires to lead.
  • The Storytellers Secret—Carmine Gallo.  Gallo is one of my personal favorites because he writes about communications. This book showcases stories and techniques from some of today’s most successful brand leaders. A fantastic resource for anyone who wants to make an effective presentation or speech.
  • Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action—Simon Sinek.  A tie-in with the popular TED talk of the same name, this inspiring book charts the common connections of effective leaders and influencers.

For those of you who dread reading, try a podcast.  Here are two of our favorites. The TED Radio Hour is a collection around a central theme.  Each TED Talk is a little jewel.  No matter your interests, this podcast will spark creativity and fresh thinking.

How I Built This is a kind of “my true life story” interview with the creators of some of the world’s best loved brands. The backstories and challenges are sometimes more inspiring than the success their businesses achieved.

A Gift for you on our Birthday

I was a reluctant entrepreneur.  I didn’t have business school training, or someone else’s money, or a killer app to get me started. In fact, in 2000 when I launched Insight Communications, apps didn’t exist.  After many years in corporate communication leadership roles, I knew I wanted more.  I left my job without a detailed plan. It was an eye opener.  Gone was the status that came with my previous role, my dedicated assistant, and a cool Midtown office. My new office was my dining room table. And it turned out just great.

Now Insight Communications is 17 years old! That’s a remarkable milestone when 8 out 10 small businesses fail. Over the years, we transitioned from marketing communications to internal communications. In 2014, we branched out to hatch Nest Egg Communications, a boutique agency focused on ESOP and retirement communications.

None of it would be possible without the customers who have sustained us, challenged us, and inspired us along the way.  I am so thankful to them, particularly to Clay Robbins at Oglethorpe Power who was our first customer.

To celebrate our birthday, we have a gift for you: Our viewpoint on communications that separates great workplaces from good ones.  Enjoy!

Less is more. The secret to effective communications is keeping it simple. Resist the urge to add more superficial detail.  Your audiences will pay attention.

Commitment at the top is the key to success. We’ve worked with both types of leadership teams -those that are aligned and those who just say they are. Your employees recognize when your leaders don’t walk the talk. Get in step.

Personal stories leave a handprint on the heart. The shortest distance between two people is a story. When you share a personal story, people pay attention and remember the point of your message.

Be credible. We’ve seen more than a few companies ballyhoo their fantastic culture externally, while internally, the high performers are beating it out the door. Respect your employees enough to tell the truth. Be brave enough to be transparent, even when the news isn’t good. The most successful businesses tell it straight and involve employees in solutions.

Make your employees the stars. Let’s face it; we’ve all seen enough of the CEO.  How often do you hear from frontline employees? Make employees the stars of your internal communications, recruiting and social media.  It will bring your brand to life for customers, partners, and new talent.

Go Green! Inspire Awareness and Conservation on Earth Day

After graduating from college, a friend of mine moved to Colorado.  As an outdoorsman, he couldn’t wait to move out west.  To fund his outdoor hobbies (skiing, fishing, hiking), he got a job working for a finance company.   He had recently attained a promotion and was doing well but he felt like he wasn’t being fulfilled.  He wanted to do something to give back to the environment.  So he’s making a career change.   He recently was accepted to law school where he will study Natural Resource and Environmental Law.

He’s not alone in seeking a career that’s focused on purpose, not paycheck.  Pew Research reports that millennials are the “most sustainable generation to date.” Sustainability is not a short term trend. Sustainability and green initiatives are important issues for today’s workforce.  Employees expect the company that they work for to do what it can to help the environment.

Earth Day is April 22.  This is a great time to promote your company’s green initiatives. Here are five easy to introduce strategies that will improve efficiency, reduce your carbon foot print, save money and build engagement with employees:

  • Incentivize carpooling or car sharing programs for employees
  • Promote electronic document usage to reduce paper waste
  • Provide recycling collection areas with signs about what can be recycled
  • Reduce plastic waste. Instead of stocking disposable water bottles, provide employees with reusable water bottles with your company logo
  • Inform employees about your company’s recycling and green programs.  Ask for volunteers for a “green team” to make recommendations about green initiatives.

What does your company do promote sustainability? Please share your stories and idea with me: ben.clayton@insight-communication.com

How to Communicate About Incentive Plan Results

For many corporate employees, this is bonus season.  In February, when year-end results are being finalized, the buzz builds. Will we make bonus, and by how much?  In March, the anticipation is unmistakable.

Whether the news is good or bad, bonus season gives leaders a spotlight to connect individual performance and business results.  While the architecture of bonus plans vary, most include a performance-related reward with a pay out when the company’s financial results and the individual’s performance meet set criteria.  For example, when Apple missed sales and profit goals for 2016, Tim Cook saw a cut to his performance-based cash incentive.  Don’t worry about Tim. Overall, he still did pretty well.

Whether the news is good or bad, the way you tell the story will impact employee engagement. Let’s look at communication strategies for both scenarios.

When the incentive target is achieved

  • Explain how it works.  The only people who truly understand the bonus system work in Compensation.  Prior to bonus announcement, send out a review of the bonus program with visual examples.  Provide an online bonus calculator.
  • Celebrate.  Good news should never be buried in an email. Create a brief video from the senior leadership team thanking employees for their contributions last year. An authentic thank you is always appreciated.
  • Set expectations for the current year. High performance cultures innovate, collaborate and continuously improve. Now is the time to be talking about 2017 stretch goals and aligning performance and priorities so bonuses are achieved in 2018. Create talking points for managers to cascade.

When the incentive target is missed

  • Explain how it works.  See above. Talk through the plan structure.  If thresholds were not achieved, clarify how that impacted pay outs. Remind employees that the bonus is just one component of a comprehensive rewards package and it’s performance-based. It’s extra pay for exceptional results.
  • Pre-announcement preparations.  Prepare for this like you would for a customer or shareholder meeting.  Compose key messages, draft FAQs and ensure managers are informed and prepared.  Set up a channel for employee questions.
  • Hold town hall meetings.  Where did the company fall short? Talk about it. Listen, answer questions, and discuss priorities and opportunities for 2017.

Proactive communications help connect the dots for team members. Businesses win when everyone knows, understands and lives the company’s values.  Show them their contributions make a difference.