3 Keys to Build Better Workplace Morale

Did you know October 7 is “Worldwide Smile Day?”

Smile day is celebrated on the first Friday of October, dedicating twenty-four hours to smiling and acts of community kindness. Why? In a “bad news” world, a little dose of joy goes a long way. Gretchen Rubin certainly believes this.

From outside perspectives, Rubin lived a marvelously successful life. She had a good marriage, a thriving writing career (formerly a Yale graduate clerk to Sandra Day O’Connor), a warm relationship with in-laws, and two lovely daughters. But in 2006, Rubin realized something was missing. She had a mild case of “the blues,” a below-the-surface irritableness she couldn’t shake. While she was generally happy, Rubin struggled to enjoy happiness each day.

Two colleagues giving high five during meeting

“Did I have a heart to be contented? No, not particularly. I had a tendency to be discontented: ambitious, dissatisfied, fretful, and tough to please . . . (It was) easier to complain than to laugh, easier to yell than to joke around, easier to be demanding than to be satisfied.”

Driven by curiosity, Rubin threw herself into a soul-searching experiment resulting in the best-seller, “The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun.” Rubin chose monthly themes, like “energy,” “love,” “work,” and test-drove happiness theories. In the end, this created an entire cottage industry (blogs, videos, starter kits), driving people to aggressively pursue happiness. Rubin found a commitment to simple daily habits (like making the bed) brought a drastically cheerful increase:

“This is about ordinary happiness,” Rubin said. “I wanted to change my life without making major changes. I wanted to show that you don’t have to do something radical.”

Lighten the Mood, Lighten Their Load

Work is life, and life is work. As hard as you try to separate them, work affects your personal life, and vice-versa.

So, what if you could increase happiness at work? What would increased “ordinary” happiness do for an entire company? Statistics say employees who report being happy at work take 10 times fewer sick days, and 36% of employees say they would give up $5000 a year to be happier at work. Happy salespeople produce 37% greater sales and “happy companies” outperform the competition by 20%!

The Keys to Building Morale

Your brain works efficiently when you’re in a good mood. Forward-thinking businesses connect these dots, believing a better “company mood” brings a stronger bottom line. Here are three ways to build better workplace morale:

  1. Cozier Spaces. The office layout, lighting, and aesthetics are a major part of employee satisfaction. Have discouraging cubicles or ugly paint? Throw a little money at this problem and harvest new energy from your team each day.
  2. Parties and Perks. Whether its chair massages, goofy competitions, or summer snowcone festivals, everyone benefits from fun at work. Professional growth opportunities are also significant: in a 2013 poll, 84% of employees claimed the opportunity for advancement was very important. Encourage people to attend conferences, practice peer-to-peer training, or try workshops for growing specific skills.
  3. Improved Communication. As you mobilize teams, tap into the foundational reasons people give their best, like self-improvement, societal impact, or ability to reach challenging goals. When Sandra Day O’Connor was asked what she thought made a happy life her response was simple: Work worth doing.

As you lead, give your team regular feedback. Without guidance, people feel deflated or unmotivated. Personal improvement areas should be private and actionable: explain to employees where to improve and give examples of change. Author Scott Halford says positive feedback is vital:

“Positive feedback stimulates the reward centers in the brain, leaving the recipient open to new direction. Meanwhile, negative feedback indicates that an adjustment needs to be made and the threat response turns on and defensiveness sets in. You don’t need to avoid corrective feedback altogether. Just make sure you follow it up with a suggested solution or outcome.”

 

 

 

 


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Customize Printed Mailings to Maximize Your Impact

One of the best ways that brands can engage their customers is by making people feel valued and unique.
Coupon ticket card. Element template for design. Vector illustration.

Brands that are able to provide their customers with this feeling of connection are going to be one step closer to creating true advocates for their brand. Perhaps one of the best ways that modern organizations can offer a customized experience is through meaningful personalization — far beyond the “Dear Friend” found in some mass mailings.

See how businesses are using personalization in their printed materials to create an experience that customers will appreciate and remember.

Tailored Offers Drive Traffic

Grocery stores are able to effectively track a massive number of items and customers, including when and where they purchased specific products.

While your business may not be quite that complex, you can certainly track in a more simplistic way in order to offer timely and meaningful coupons to your customers. For instance, offering a discount card tied to someone’s phone number allows you to discover which days of the week they are coming to see you and how often. Upsell your services by providing discounts on off-days when they may not visit or to shorten the time between services. This strategy works especially well for service-based businesses such as hair and nail salons.

Treating People Like Family

If you are able to capture additional information about your customers such as the age of children, this allows you a greater opportunity to customize your message.

Knowing the general age of your customers or whether they’re empty-nesters, young parents, or an older retired couple provides you with the information that you need to create offers that are more compelling. One example would be a restaurant whose tables are nearly empty on a Wednesday night. Sending information to young families that Kids Eat Free on Wednesdays is likely to bring in a wealth of new business on that evening and keep your tables full.

Move-In Special

There are many businesses that thrive on new families moving into the area — from retail establishments to grocery stores and everything in between.

Consider working with a few complimentary businesses in your region to create a move-in special: a package of offerings that can be mailed to families just as they move into the area. These hot new potential customers have not yet formed an opinion of the area and will need to create new shopping patterns. If your offer comes at the perfect time as they’re moving in and purchasing new products for their home, they are likely to continue visiting your establishment over the years.

There are many different ways that your business can take advantage of a compelling, personalized offer in print.

 

 

 

 


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Every Extrovert Can Learn to Listen

The Courage to Connect

man holds his hand near ear and listens carefully

When research professor Brené Brown opened up to a TedxHouston audience about shame, vulnerability, and courage, she had no idea her message would become one of the most wildly popular TEDx talks of all time (with over 24 million views). Brown has spent the last ten years studying the power of authenticity and empathy, and poses wonderful questions like these:

  • How do we embrace vulnerabilities and imperfections so we can live from a place of authenticity and worthiness?
  • How can we engage people in a way that makes them feel worthwhile, brave, and willing to commit to something bigger than just a project or deadline?
  • How can we choose courage over comfort, stretching our team to connect in ways that powerfully motivate everyone?

Every Extrovert Can Learn to Listen

Brown’s work hits home in the hearts of many who long for authentic relationships and want to see this come alive in their workplace. While there are many hindrances to open communication, one of the greatest barriers is simply our personality differences. Over half the population are considered introverts, but research shows that introverts make up only two percent of senior executives. Which gives extroverts a great opportunity to do lots of talking. But studies show that business leaders who prioritize listening are perceived as considerably more effective than those who dominate the conversation.

Invite Them to Engage

We all have room to grow, and great interactions begin with intentional listening. Here are three ways to quiet your mouth and open your ears as you seek to engage others in meaningful ways:

  1. Start every meeting with a question.

Imagine yourself standing before your team with an invitation instead of a megaphone.

Seek to motivate conversation rather than charging into a meeting with a tight-fisted agenda. Opening your gatherings with dialogue can shake out the nerves and cobwebs of the entire team, sparking creativity and building interpersonal collateral. Increasing dialogue can catalyze more “green light” brainstorming and bring a fresh, life-giving dynamic to your entire company. When you formulate meeting agendas, push yourself to start with a prompt and to leave more tangible space for discussion.

  1. Listen with action.

How can you show your teammates their insights really matter?

Often people are tentative about sharing constructive criticism, fearing negative repercussions or believing “nothing will really change.” Great leaders surround themselves with those who will give honest feedback, and they intentionally close the “listening loop” by following up with some sort of action. Close a meeting by thanking your team for their honesty, or sending personal e-mails telling them you valued their input. Make a list of things to look into, review, or change, and add timelines to these goals so your ideas aren’t lost in the weekly grind. Even if you can’t implement suggestions, make a point to tell people they are valuable and you have actually heard what they are saying.

  1. Embrace vulnerability as a step toward courageous communication.

What do you do when someone asks you a question you can’t answer? Saying, ‘I don’t know” can be the most significant reply of all.

When you acknowledge your limitations, it opens the door for your teammates to step in and shine or to admit their own uncertainties or frustrations. Vulnerability can grow powerful partnerships and prompt growth in areas you hadn’t previously targeted. Ultimately, vulnerability builds engagement, which grows teams and enriches the atmosphere. Push yourself toward bold, transparent communication, and you may be surprised at the results. Brene Brown says it like this:

“Vulnerability is not weakness. It’s the most accurate measurement of courage.”

Ready to open a new pipeline of thoughtful teamwork and open communication? Be brave, be intentional, and sometimes . . . just be quiet.

 

 


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Branding Equity: What It Is and How to Build It

Branding Equity: What It Is and How to Build It

Branding technology concept, keywords with icons. meeting at the white office table

Carl is a business owner who is experiencing firsthand just how much the internet has revolutionized the consumer buying process. It used to be that a simple look at your products’ features was enough to sway consumers to make a purchase. But now, it’s all about the brand. In fact, Carl’s brand has become his most valuable asset. That is why he is doing all that he can to build his brand equity and distinguish himself from his competition.

What is brand equity?

Brand equity is what your business is worth without its inventory. Or, more simply stated, it’s about how valuable your brand is in the eyes of consumers and the relationships that you have with your customers.

To build brand equity, you must leave a lasting, positive impression regarding your brand in the minds of consumers. Your products and services and their demand and usefulness, of course, play a role in how well you can satisfy your customers, but they alone do not generate brand equity.

Top Tips for Using Marketing to Build Brand Equity

The steps outlined below are not in any particular order. They are three examples of essential steps that Carl has used to build brand equity, and each of them is an ongoing process. You don’t build brand equity overnight, and then suddenly get to take a vacation. You must work at creating this type of equity on a daily basis just like Carl has done.

  1. Release Information About a New Product

You can have a quality product that you know consumers will want to purchase, but they have to know about it first. This is why you should always distribute information about your products. Whether it be creating a product brochure or a how-to guide that goes into the packaging of a new product, you will want to provide as much detail as possible. In fact, Carl has found that the more in-depth and more detailed his brochures and how-to guides are, the more engaged his customers are.

  1. Monitor Trends and Perform a Competitive Analysis

Building brand equity means you can adapt to changes as they occur, especially changes related to new trends that hit the marketplace. The best way to monitor trends is to keep a close eye on Google searches. You will also want to perform a competitive analysis to see how your competitors are keeping up with the latest trends. Chances are, you can benefit from employing many of the same tactics your competitors are using. Carl, for example, performed a competitive analysis and discovered three of his competitors were enjoying an increase in sales by offering seasonal discounts. Carl then went to a local print shop and had 1,000 business cards printed with a discount code on the back. Over the period of six months, the discount generated an eight percent increase in his sales.

  1. Collect, Use and Distribute Customer Feedback

Lastly, since brand equity is all about how you appear in the eyes and minds of consumers, you will want to use their feedback and respond to it appropriately. Carl publishes his customers’ feedback in the brochures and how-to guides he creates. Customer testimonials have been proven to be a huge asset in generating sales.

 

 


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How Building Effective Teams Can Supercharge Your Business

How Building Effective Teams Can Supercharge Your Business

Team building can be an overused cliche in business circles, but there is something truly magical about what a cohesive team can create together. Individuals working alone are able to contribute specific tasks towards a goal, but a team working together adds energy and power to push their achievements higher. This is one of the reasons there are so many books and manuals focused on building effective teams. If you have never seen this in action you may not believe the synergy that can be attained — it is almost like a force of nature. See how building effective teams will maximize employee productivity and happiness as well as helping you retain your hardest workers.

Smiling business colleagues high fiving each other in an office

Effective Teams Bring Their “A” Game

A Gallup article from a few years ago stated that up to 70% of employees are showing up to work disengaged, costing the American economy billions of dollars every year in lost productivity. When you find ways for these individuals to connect to one another, they become invested in seeing each other become successful. Engaged, enthusiastic employees are ones who are constantly looking for ways to innovate and exceed expectations. If you could move the needle on even 20% of your mediocre performers, the impact to your bottom line would be significant.

Effective Teams Provide Diverse Ideas

The age-old saying that ‘two heads are better than one’ is extremely valid in today’s business world. The complexity of ideas and interconnectedness of our systems means that it is difficult for any one person to have the knowledge needed to innovate and excel. Bringing together your team in a safe space allows for the free flowing of ideas between members — and the ability to synthesize these great ideas into something actionable for leadership.

Effective Teams Blow Through Restraints

Where one person working alone may be worried about going down a specific — and potentially risky — path, a cohesive team has the bravery to take the leap. These leaps are what drive lasting change in an organization. Without this shared risk-taking and an ability to literally blow through restraints, your business can become stuck in the rut of doing things the way they’ve always been done.

Effective Teams Inspire Others

Let’s face it, everyone wants to be a part of a winning team. When you see one team that seems to get all the awards, recognition and respect, you want to see what makes them special. Many times, it’s their ability to work effectively together and collaborate to achieve a shared vision and goals. When one team in your organization is able to attain this level of cohesiveness, it will inspire and motivate others to do the same. This breeds a more positive working environment for all.

Effective Teams Have Fun Together

 

When work ceases to be work and becomes something that you enjoy doing during the day, you are able to devote your heart more fully to the tasks at hand. This joyful passion shines through in everything that you do. Ineffective teams can cause this light to dim, but having fun together can create a bond where individuals connect at a deeper level.

There are so many ways that effective teams create a sum that is greater than the individual parts. When the team truly works together as a single unit, the strengths of each person are multiplied allowing for an oversized impact on your organization’s effectiveness. Bring your teams together if you want to truly supercharge your business!

 


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