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Social Media in the Workplace, Beneficial or Productivity Killer?

Can social media be beneficial to your business?

A big controversy today exists on the matter of whether or not social media in the workplace is beneficial or a productivity killer. Pros and cons of each side make a consensus difficult to reach. Some firms view the accessing of social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook during work hours as an attack on productivity. Although employees may be blocked from sites on their work computers, any smart phone still offers easy access. Communicating with business contacts and peers is often considered a productive networking tool. So where do businesses draw the line?

How does social media traffic impact business efficiency? How much time are younger generation employees spending on Facebook? It is technologically feasible to block access to a website that is a productivity problem, but is it necessary? One approach is to view social media sites as a communication tool and determine which groups of people in a business need access to it. For those who need unrestricted access to potential clients or are tasked to improve operations, the resources offered through these sites are critical.

One extreme or the other does not seem to be the answer. For employees who are not executing their job and are incapable of limiting their time on social media sites, global blocking is an option to consider versus terminating these people who do not seem to be able to self-police their own impulses. However, global blocking is impractical in that this easy way out does not solve the underlying problem. Lack of trust has a huge impact on employee satisfaction in the workplace as well as recruiting and retention efforts.

Consider these following solutions when social media in the workplace starts to be an issue:

1) Time Restrictions – Restrict the time that these sites can be accessed to a certain window each day. For example, pick a two hour window around the lunch hour. The time restriction shows employees that the activity is not necessarily supported during business hours but the company realizes that employees need access.

2) Group Restrictions – Restrict the groups that are allowed access to these sites. Have different access permissions based on the different roles of the employees in the business. If a group has not been granted access and feels that it is needed, have them submit a proposal outlining the reasons why.

3) Identify Abusers – Have your employees sign a policy that outlines their code of conduct concerning online activities. Then use the proxy servers to isolate the top users of certain sites to see if they are abusing their privileges.

4) Review Websites – Review the different social media sites to determine their intended purpose. Obviously Facebook and LinkedIn are different sites and offer distinct advantages and disadvantages.

5) Clarify Expectations – Spell out what you require from your employees. Let them know your productivity milestones so they are able to reach them. Use policies to explain how certain sites are to be used in the workplace.

There is a huge benefit to using social media sites but it is important that balance is maintained. Employees need to understand the value of personal productivity and develop a strong work ethic. Generally removing temptation or micromanaging behavior does not solve the problems as inherently employees will find another way to goof off or access these sites. In certain cases, the implementation of selective blocking may be necessary but this is where the above solutions come into play, such as time and group restrictions. It is also important to keep in mind that websites constantly evolve based on the needs of the user and the environment of the Internet. A site that may seem unnecessary at the time might offer a new opportunity in the future.

Next in line for Social Media in the Workplace: “Workplace Policies on Social Media”

The Green Initiative: How going Green can help your business

How the Green Initiative can Help Your Business!

In today’s post-recession economy, it’s important for small businesses to take advantage of every opportunity to embrace innovation. This was a central theme in President Obama’s 2011 State of the Union address, in which he discussed how the emerging green economy will provide the path to success for small businesses in the 21st century.

But how can you leverage the green energy economy to help your small businesses? There are several important options to consider.

A good first step for a small business would be to investigate how you can make green improvements to your existing infrastructure. Green energy, including solar, wind, geothermal, is not only safer and cleaner to produce — it’s often cheaper, saving money for businesses as well as consumers. It is a short-term investment that will likely pay for itself in the long run.

To create incentive for small businesses to retrofit their buildings with environmentally friendly doors and windows — or install solar panels for their own independent energy production, for example — the federal government and state governments have provided incentives, usually taking the form of tax credits, to ease the cost of making green updates.

The incentives vary based on the type and extent of green infrastructure improvements made, so check with your local chamber of commerce or other local government organizations to find out more about government benefits. With the passage of Assembly Bill 32 in 2006, California is on the forefront of nurturing a green energy economy. In fact, nearly 500,000 people in the state are already employed in green energy, the state’s fastest-growing economic sector. This is a direct result of its green-friendly public policy advancements.

Secondly, there may be ways for small businesses to strategically position themselves to benefit from the emerging green economy. There are obvious advantages for companies that are in the energy production and management industry. But the benefits often trickle down beyond energy companies to small businesses that offer a supporting green-friendly service.

For example, a human resources company that specializes in training skilled laborers may introduce solar panel installation to their training curriculum, making their personnel more enticing to small businesses and the population at large.

Third, going green may help your small business by fostering good will as a result of your company’s green-friendly practices. Conscientious consumers spend their money (and more of it!) at businesses that not only offer good products and services, but also those that do so in an environmentally respectful way. For companies large enough to benefit from institutional investors and hedge fund contributions, going green will win kudos from stockholders and investors, eager to support businesses that are embracing technology, innovation and social responsibility.

One of such companies is the Virgin Group, based in the UK. Despite the environmental damage caused by their air travel company, they have invested a significant amount of resources on fighting climate change and ensuring that their operations remain “carbon neutral.” Consumer confidence in the company is nearing an all-time high in 2011.

By investing in the transition into the green energy economy, you will help ensure your small business retains its competitive edge and continues to grow for years and decades to come.

For more information, visit these sites:

The business benefits of going green.

Why businesses are going green.

While being green can help your business, Our next article is on whether “Social Media in the Workplace, Beneficial or Productivity Killer?”

Energizing Your Employees and Boosting Morale!

Boosting Morale and Energizing Your Employees!

Boosting Morale: When dealing with a group of employees there are several things that can be done to keep morale up. Keeping morale up will ensure higher production, higher quality, and of course a great working environment.

The first and foremost part of morale would be to know your employees personally. When we take orders from someone it helps if the boss knows us personally and we are not just a number to them. Recognize personal accomplishments and birthdays. Congratulate those who reach milestones. Acknowledge those who are improving or going the extra mile.

The second part would be Employee Relations. Do employees know how to contact a supervisor if needed? Be sure there are clear instructions about open door policies or the chain of command. When employees know these things, they are more comfortable in the environment.

Have company picnics, or ceremonies: Involve the employees in all aspects from planning food, to where it happens. This makes it more of a family event.

Be sure that the focus for the company future involves each and every employee: When deciding to update or write a new mission statement or creed, involve the employees. This motivates them to be involved in the future.

Implement an employee bonus program based on quality, production and attitude: If there is no current employee of the month program, start one. Earning titles such as that one plays an important part of self accomplishment.

Be on their team: When things get rough, assure them that it is a team and not an individual atmosphere. People tend to rise to the occasion when there is a team atmosphere. Allow others and encourage others to work along side of those who may be having a rough day. Instead of meetings, have an occasional pep rally or motivational and recognition ceremony.

Avoid cutbacks and layoffs if possible: Try not to make public bad instances and terminations. When a person is being terminated, try to do so in private and in such a manner that gossip will not spread throughout the workplace.

Be sure the working environment is as comfortable as possible: Keep the place clean, organized, and safe. The temperature should be at a point that it is comfortable. There should be clean, in good order equipment and up to date furnishings. Vending, coffee and a water fountain are always good things.

Be sure to have policies that allow employees to have room for advancement: When someone has a level that they can work to it helps motivate them. Promotions are more important than money according to surveys.

When doing a community project, involve employees: People tend to take pride in volunteering and it boosts self confidence when they feel an accomplishment. Be sure to recognize them when they do.

Show loyalty: When employees see that loyalty is practiced, they tend to be more loyal, and motivated to do anything they can for their employer.

And with everything an employer does, nothing beats a personal recognition: Avoid typed letters with stamped names. Hand write thank you notes, and award letters.

Boosting Morale Among Your Employee’s Benefits You, Your Business and Your Employees!

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Employee Loyalty: How to Create, Maintain and Benefit from Employee Loyalty at Your Business

Employee Loyalty and How it can Benefit Your Business!

employee loyalty

Building Teamwork & Employee Loyalty

Employee loyalty is very important in today’s market. Employers are competing against each other to find the best employees, and employees are wanting to work for the best employers. How do you go about creating and maintaining employee loyalty with your business? How will your business benefit from employee loyalty?

First, let’s examine how your business will benefit from employee loyalty. Loy employees benefit your business because that is less money you have to spend on searching for and training new employees. Also, loyal employees are more likely to stick up for your business if someone says something negative about it or recommend your business to their friends, family, and others they know.

For example, say you own a roofing company. If a friend of your employee’s mentions that his roof is beginning to leak, a loyal employee will automatically recommend their workplace. However, an employee who is not loyal to the company may say something such as “Whatever you do, don’t use my company. My boss is mean, you shouldn’t support him”. Such negative comments from employees can do a lot to damage your company’s reputation.

So, how do you go about earning employee loyalty? The first step is to make sure your employees are happy. Happy employees are loyal and productive employees. Think to yourself what might make your employees happy, or take the time to conduct a short survey of your employees about what would make them happy. Then, try to fulfill the wishes of your employees as best as possible.

For example, say your employees would like health benefits. If you can afford to offer your employees health benefits, you should give them health benefits. However, say your employees feel they are making too little money and want a raise, yet you can’t afford to give them a raise. In a situation like this, you may want to brainstorm a little and come up with another solution that could make the employees happy. For example, instead of giving everybody in the company fifteen cent an hour raises, you may want to give everyone a one time, fifty dollar bonus for being loyal employees. Then tell your employees that you enjoy giving them rewards when they are loyal.

Some companies are coming up with more creative ways to keep employees loyal. For example, Google is reported to have given their employees the benefit of washing machines. Other companies have given away things like free basketball game tickets. You may want to think of a unique and memorable way of your own to increase employee loyalty.

However, note that employee loyalty needs to be maintained. You cannot just give an employee a gift once and expect them to be thankful forever. Making your employees happy is something that should constantly occupy a place in your mind. Even if raises and bonuses aren’t always feasible, is morale running low again, perhaps it could be time for an office pizza party.

One more way to create and maintain employee loyalty is to get to know your employees on a more personal level. Of course, a professional attitude must always be maintained when dealing with employees, however, knowing everyone’s first name and a bit about their lives makes employees feel more like valued people instead of just nameless workers. When employees feel values, they are happy, and when employees are happy, they are loyal.

Some links you might enjoy on this topic are:

Fortune magazines “100 Best Companies to Work for 2009”

25 Ways to Reward Employees (Without Spending a Dime)

Metlife’s “8th Annual Study of Employee Benefits Trends”

Another technique to increase employee loyalty is on how to “Energize Your Employees and Raise Their Morale!”

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