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Category: Motivation

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.

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.

Four Ways to be a Better Communicator in 2017

Successful leaders know that effective communications are a competitive advantage.  As you begin 2017, make a resolution to evaluate the health of your employee communications. Are business goals and actions aligned? Do employees understand priorities and do they have a way to participate and share ideas?

Everyone talks about the importance of communications, but it’s just lip service without an actionable plan.   Here are four ways to commit to better communications in 2017.

1) Map out your communications calendar right now—Begin with a “Welcome to 2017” message. Schedule dates for the entire year now to ensure it remains a priority. Keep the content fresh with a mix of performance results, customer and employee stories, and encouragement.  We all need more of that.

2) Articulate the vision— If a customer asks an employee what your business was about, what would they say? Everyone on your team should use the same headline.  When people can connect their work to big goals, they are more engaged.  Leaders who communicate the vision and values, then put those values into action, see performance climb.

3) Use stories to make an impact—Think back to the most recent story that struck a chord with you.  Was it complicated or overstuffed with facts?  Simple stories make an emotional connection with the audience and hold their attention.  Use your own experiences to make a point.  I recently heard the president of a large hospitality group say that he makes time for fitness daily because “We only get one set of parts and I want mine to last.”  That’s memorable and tells me something interesting about him. Leaders who share a little of themselves in communications are viewed as credible and human.

4) Get visual—Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text.  If you rely on email as your primary form of communication, know that there is a better way. In 2016, there were 4.6 billion cell phone users in the world and most phones have video or photo capability. Your team members are viewing or creating visual media every day. Use photos and video as frequently as you use memos. Video is an excellent way to improve message retention, connect with remote workers, and engage senior leadership with teams.  The best part is you don’t have to have a large budget or be an on-camera pro.  If you’re sincere, it will be memorable.

That will get you started.  Need some help in communications planning for 2017?  Get in touch.

Five Ways to Build Engagement through Year-End Communications

 

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This time of year, a kind of holiday haze sets in. The breakroom counters are bursting with tins of holiday cookies and flavored popcorn.  Employees are focusing on completing 2016 assignments (and scheduling holiday getaways).

December marks the fiscal year-end for many businesses.  Help your employees successfully navigate through the many December deadlines with proactive communications that show you care about more than the bottom line.  Here are five tried-and-true ways to do it.

1.       Clarify year-end deadlines.  Start your team meetings with a reminder or checklist of deadlines for invoice processing, Flexible Spending Accounts, finalize expense reports, and other year-end deliverables. This messaging should begin December 1 and continue through the month.

2.       Communicate vacation benefits. Paid time off is treasured by employees. If your business has a “use it or lose it” vacation policy, remind team members so they can schedule time off before year-end.  If your company allows vacation accrual, communicate the accrual limit. Ensure there are no surprises in January.

3.       Come together through service. Studies show that volunteerism increases pride, commitment and employee engagement.  Contact a local charity, food bank or civic association for ideas on how your team can get involved during the holidays.

4.       Celebrate 2016 achievements. Create a top ten list of your team’s “Greatest Hits of 2016” or ask team members to talk about one thing that helped them be successful this year. Connect the dots to show how every role contributes to delivering performance and your company’s vision.

5.       Say thank you.  To make a connection that lasts, send a personal note of thanks. Low cost, big impact. Be sincere and make it personal by including a strength or a behavior the individual brings to the team.