Mind-numbing presentations

Yesterday I walked out on a presentation I was invited to about changes in technology. This is not the first time I have done this. I have come to the conclusion that I have only so much time and power in my batteries and I won’t waste it on a boring and lack-lustre presentation. So what drove me out the door? The presenter spent most of his time talking to the screen effectively reading the script of the presentation to his audience. There was little interaction between him and his audience. He spoke in a monotone and just rambled on. The problem is that many workshops and seminars I attend look and sound like this. If you are going to spend financial resources on planning these kinds of events to attract new clients why not put the additional effort to captivate them by building a presentation that disseminates information in a way that uses humour, drama and gets the participants involved in the presentation. When you get in front of an audience and just read the deck it says you really didn’t prepare or you really don’t care that much. That’s a terrible message to send out to you audience. When choosing the member of your staff to give a public presentation pick someone who is confident and speaks well in front of people, not someone who is introverted and uncomfortable in public situations. You only get one opportunity to make a great impression and these kinds of interactions can work to attract to new business or send potential customers running in the opposite direction. I am sorry to say that more often that not I underwhelmed at the seminars and workshops I attend. People start putting more time and effort into your presentations.

How employers can help staff dive back into in-person work

Although we’re still in the third wave of the pandemic and many areas of the country still have restrictions, vaccination rates are steadily climbing across Canada. This means plans for return to work are becoming a clear focus for employers. While many employees look forward to reduced isolation and to sharing a workspace with their coworkers again, some are feeling very hesitant or even anxious about returning. Most people will experience some mixed emotions about the prospect of emerging from their work-from-home arrangements.

Here’s some things employers can do to help ease employee re-entry anxiety:

Start communicating early

Even if dates are vague at this point and plans are still being made, employers can manage employee expectations while helping them psychologically prepare to adapt their routines and return to the workplace by starting to communicate plans early. This will help employees to start thinking about what being in the workplace may look and feel like. It will also assist them in planning for things like changes in their routine or workday, child or elder care needs, transportation plans and the like.

Be patient

While a return to the workplace is a positive step toward a return to normal life, after spending long periods of time sheltering in place and avoiding contact with people, employees might be concerned about their safety from infection at work. They may feel overwhelmed about arrangements they need to put in place or by the change itself. If they use public transit to get to work, they may feel hesitant initially. Different people will have different feelings about what a return to the workplace means for them and adapt to change at different paces.

To quell concerns about health and safety, employers can make return-to-work health practices and policies easy to access and understand. They can reiterate the protocols they have in place to keep people safe. Create a safe and judgment-free space for questions and encourage people leaders to check in with their teams about how they’re feeling about the return to the workspace well before the slated return date — and then regularly afterward.

Prioritize well-being

Change can be stressful even when it’s a return to something familiar. Consequently, employees may have challenges rebalancing work and life. Now is a good time for employers to take an inventory of the resources they have in place that can help, including resilience training, stress management and mindfulness, but also supports for grief and addictions.

Employers can promote their employee assistance programs and/or extended health benefits providers for additional supports, communications, webinars or self-help materials that can be easily accessed by staff as needed. Organizations can also highlight self-assessment tools to help employees monitor their feelings and identify potentially unhealthy levels of stress or anxiety, as well as offering other mental-health supports and resources available via employer benefits and wellness programs.

Be flexible

When possible, employers should allow for some self-determination of pacing in the return to the workplace. As employees have probably reorganized their days working from home around their home lives, it will be important to be flexible about the start and end of a workday or allow employees the ability to continue to work from home for some of the work week, at least in the beginning. Additionally, employers can allow employees to set their own boundaries in the early stages.

While someone may feel OK about being in the office, they may not yet be comfortable getting on a plane to travel for work. Employees will appreciate having as much autonomy and control over their return to workplace as possible.

Change can be difficult, even when it’s positive. Re-entry into the workplace is only one aspect of pre-pandemic life that will require re-adaptation for employees. Uncertainty will fade as time passes and people get more comfortable and familiar with their new routines, especially with employer support.

New disruptors awaiting employers in the post-pandemic workplace

As employers and their employees exit the coronavirus pandemic, they’ll be confronted with a host of new challenges, said Linda Duxbury, Chancellor’s professor in management at Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business, during the keynote session of Benefits Canada’s 2021 Benefits & Pension Summit this week.

“Much like with a tsunami, [smaller] waves are going to follow the initial storm.”

Employee burnout, dissatisfaction with return-to-work plans and retention are just a few of the disruptors awaiting employers as they come out the other side of the pandemic, said Duxbury, noting now is the time for employers to develop an action plan to manage the coming challenges and remain competitive in an ever-changing landscape.

During the session, she reviewed the results of an employee well-being survey conducted by the Sprott School of Business that polled more than 700 Benefits Canada readers among other full-time employees.

The results revealed the current public health crisis has increased demands on employees on both the work and family fronts, leading to work-life conflict that’s taking a toll on their overall well-being. “Hours in work and family activities are times you don’t have for yourself to relax and sleep,” said Duxbury. “Overload in work and family is a major predictor of well-being. The more overloaded you are, the less well you tend to be.”

In terms of hours, mothers are spending an average of 77 per cent of the week either working or looking after their kids, while 64 percent of fathers said the same, leaving little time for self-care. And 82 per cent said they’re spending more time on childcare in the wake of pandemic-induced school and daycare closures. With family members home all day amid provincial and local pandemic lockdowns, 40 per cent said they’re now spending more time on chores around the home.

The survey also found many employees are feeling anxious and stressed about caring for elderly dependants. Indeed, 33 percent of dual income female respondents and 26 per cent of men are part of the sandwich generation, shouldering both childcare and elder care responsibilities. Seven per cent of female respondents are single parents with elder care responsibilities. “Elder care is the new childcare,” said Duxbury, adding employers need to ensure they’re adequately supporting these employees since it’s a huge issue that’s only going to become bigger.

The survey also revealed a younger crop of employees has been severely affected by the isolation that comes with remote working. Although some in this group may not want to return to the office, others may steadfastly refuse to continue working in this capacity in the future, noted Duxbury. One-third of survey respondents said they didn’t have a proper home office prior to the shift and data suggested some employees from this generation may demand more support in the way of employer-covered expenses for their remote working setups, she added.

Duxbury cautioned that attraction and retention will be key for employers in the post-pandemic environment. And in light of this, she noted they must consider how they’re going to retain employees in the future. “Everyone in the benefits and pension arena must up their game because the people you’re providing packages for are going to need a new and different and more profound kind of support.”

5 Reasons Enhanced Benefits Programs Are Good for Business

Not all that long ago, employees were happy simply to get a paycheck. Benefits were nice, but they were just that — benefits, not necessities. Today, employees expect health and dental insurance, retirement plans and more from their employers.

Here are the top five reasons that an enhanced employee-benefits program is beneficial for your business.

1. It’s profitable.

As business owners, our goal is to make money. While I am gratified by providing benefits that truly make a difference in my employees’ lives, I always look at the bottom line. I’ve found happy employees make good employees, and good employees are great for business. The numbers back this up: A 2015 report from The Aberdeen Group revealed that companies with high employee engagement achieve higher annual revenue, receive more customer referrals and meet annual sales quotas more often than companies without.

2. It increases employees’ physical and mental health.

Regular exercise is proven to increase energy levels and overall mood, which enables them to perform at their peak. In fact, the American Psychological Association’s 2016 Work and Well-Being Survey found that 91 percent of workers at companies with well-being programs are satisfied with their job and feel motivated to do their best. Even small programs can make a huge difference. Our twice-a-week personal-training sessions help employees maintain a healthy lifestyle and clear their heads during the work day.

Healthy employees are also present more often. Employees with health insurance are more likely to get regular check-ups and take preventative measures, decreasing overall sick days. Plus, insurance gives employees peace of mind. They don’t have to worry about paying out-of-pocket for an illness or injury. I am very passionate about the security that health insurance provides. In fact, I pass on doing business with vendors if they don’t offer their employees health insurance.

3. Recruiting is more expensive than retaining.

Many companies still think of benefits in antiquated ways. Instead of rewarding an exceptional employee with additional benefits, companies usually offer a small raise to try to keep the employee happy. These companies aren’t listening to what their employees actually want. According to a 2015 study by Glassdoor, 79 percent of employees would prefer more benefits or perks to a raise.

Providing small raises may save a little money overall. But the expense of replacing an employee if he or she leaves for a better, benefit-laden job ultimately will cost you a lot more. In fact, it can cost 30 to 50 percent of an entry-level employee’s salary to replace her or him. For mid-level employees, the expense is upward of 150 percent of salary. These turnover costs add up fast, especially considering the lost productivity inherent in training a new employee.

4. It enhances corporate culture and fosters camaraderie.

Providing extensive perks and benefits creates office camaraderie and give employees the chance to connect away from work. The APA survey mentioned earlier found that 91 percent of workers at companies with well-being programs have a positive relationship with supervisors, and 93 percent of employees reported positive relationships with coworkers.

Many of my employees are friends outside of work. They’ll go to the local pub once they’re off, go to dog parks together and alert one another of upcoming social events. While this has no direct impact on my business, it does create cohesion among my employees and makes it less likely an employee will readily leave.

5. It’s just good business.

I find it odd that so many companies have a hard time justifying enhanced employee benefits, yet are quick to approve expensive company parties, trade-show dinners, questionable travel or other frivolous expenses. This sends mixed messages to your employees: “We can’t give you health insurance, but we can spend several thousand dollars on this one trip.”

It also shows how out-of-touch companies are with their employees’ basic needs. Ongoing benefits resonate with employees over time, make them more secure in life and have a greater impact on business. No flashy event can accomplish all that.

How to communicate the value of a benefits plan to employees

It’s often said perception is reality and that’s definitely true when it comes to benefits plans. If employees can’t easily perceive the value in their benefits package then it’s up to the employer to make it clearer.

That’s where branding comes in. A lot of people — even those in branding — struggle to define what a brand truly is. Marketers and advertisers tend to explain it in squishy ways, by talking about things like  “the intangible sum of a product’s attributes” or “a person’s perception of a product, service, experience or organization.” Some simply define brand as a logo. But let’s be clear, brand is so much more than that.

Regardless of the industry or words used, one word emerges over and over again, perception. The ability to influence one’s perception is the ultimate goal of brand design. So, what does this have to do with communicating plan value? Employee benefits plans are often one of the most expensive talent acquisition and retention tools offered by organizations these days. If this is the case, then why are many of these undeniably valuable plans continually struggling to convey that value?

With a little know-how and sustained effort, a successful brand design can engage plan members long enough to deliver the understanding of value employers are trying to communicate. I hear it time and time again, why don’t our employees value their benefits plan? My immediate answer is: “Do you?”

While we’re taught not to judge a book by its cover — sadly most do. How employers represent their benefits plan says a lot about its value. A good, and thus influential, benefits program brand can act as a megaphone — communicating to employees loud and clear the perks beyond pay that a specific employer is providing to them. Effectively communicating the value of a benefits plan could be the difference between valued employees staying or leaving for perceived greener pastures.

Much of communication is visual not verbal, particularly these days when employees are often consuming information on their smartphones where they’re also looking at slick visual Instagram and TikTok posts. To compete with the plethora of other compelling content catching employees’ attention, effective benefits-plan branding should include these elements:

1.  A name. Make the name of the benefits plan something easy to pronounce, intuitive and recognizable. If a plan represents members from multiple employers, it’s important to help them understand that the plan/trust is separate from the associated unions. Being able to identify the benefits program by name is the first step in defining it.

2. A logo. In most cases a name or clean wordmark will do. In other cases, there’s an opportunity to design a logo that not only represents the plan name but has a visual resemblance with the company that offers it. This resemblance reinforces ownership. For multi-employer plans the opposite is suggested. Develop a logo that speaks to the industry or type of plan it represents — avoiding resemblance in this case helps to reinforce the often-confused ownership of the plan.

3. Imagery. When it comes to imagery, the benefits plan is meant to support members at work and in life. Focus on them. If the members you’re communicating to make widgets and you choose employment-related images, at least show plan members making the widgets. Seeing themselves, or those like them, reinforces that connection of personal ownership and pride.

4. A unique colour palette­. Colour has impact — it has the power to stimulate and evoke emotion. Plan sponsors can start with an external brand palette, then choose complementary colours that will only be used for plan communication. Colour is one of the most distinguishable brand assets, think Tiffany & Co.’s iconic blue bugs or Coca-Cola Co.’s red-and-white bottles. If sponsors offer both health benefits and retirement savings plans, you can go one step further and use colour to differentiate the two programs.

5. A font: While time and technology continue to play a role in the fonts used to represent a brand, font usage helps to visually tie all communications together and support consistency. Plan sponsors don’t need to create custom fonts. Fonts like Arial and Helvetica are great web-safe fonts but finding a clean, modern font that further differentiates one brand from others is a benefit.

6. Brand guidelines: This is the roadmap to effectively combining everything above. Writing clear brand guidelines down helps organizations better define their direction. Guidelines are the pillars on which a brand is built and should be adhered to with respect. A brand guideline document also allows an organization to clearly communicate important elements of a brand for others to follow. The smallest deviation over time can lead to brand erosion erasing all previous gains.

Now, this is a lot to consider. Brand design is in no way the complete answer to ensuring plan members appreciate the full value of benefits plans through communication alone, but it’s a start. Remember, if  plan members are intended to read important benefits-related information, it should be easy to find and easy on the eyes. For plan members to value benefits plans, employers must start by making their plans appear valuable.

Education could be the key behind employee retention

Months of remote work has made employees contemplate their purpose, and they’re prepared to quit their jobs for better opportunities. In an effort to keep workers engaged, child care provider Bright Horizons offers a program called FastTrack as part of their EdAssist Solutions. The service gives employees the opportunity to obtain high school diplomas and college certificates affordably.

“We think of education as a benefit,” says Patrick Donovan, senior vice president at Bright Horizons EdAssist Solutions. “We manage it to make sure that it’s as easy as possible for the employees to take advantage of what their employers want them to do in any area of development.”Say “Hello” to GenerationYou – Health Care, ReimaginedWe didn’t change the goals of advocacy, we reimagined them. GenerationYou delivers a personalized, targeted solution.

Education has become a leading factor behind unemployment during the pandemic. The difference in the unemployment rate for those with a high school diploma or less and a bachelor’s degree or more was 2.2 percentage points pre-COVID — the gap increased to 8.8 percentage points in May 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

Employees with a lower education level are traditionally in service industry roles that are suffering from lack of revenue due to COVID, according to Donovan. These are also roles that may be automated at a higher rate. For those still employed, it may be financially challenging to upskill and keep up with new technologies.

“One thing the pandemic has done is wake people up to the idea of improving their economic security,” he says. “[Employees] are going to be looking for employers that offer workplace development programs.”

Enrollment in accelerated programs such as FastTrack has grown 40% in the last year as employees seek new education opportunities, greater job security and the potential to explore new options, according to a release. Bright Horizons has approximately 220 schools in their education network they’ve negotiated discounts with. They also provide academic and financial advisors to assist employers and employees with building an education plan.

Educational benefits not only provide a steadier financial future, but make employers more attractive to prospective hires, Donovan says. Employees are more confident at work and more loyal to their employer when their tuition and fees are subsidized.

Lauren Floyd, health and safety director at Bright Horizons, felt left behind after being unable to complete her college degree due to financial reasons. When Bright Horizons presented her with the opportunity to further her education through their Horizons Degree Program two years ago, she jumped at the chance.

“It opened a door I didn’t think I was capable of being able to walk through,” Floyd says.

Despite being furloughed a few months into the pandemic, Bright Horizons allowed Floyd to keep her education benefits. In September of 2020, she graduated with a BA in early childhood education and administration from Ashford University, which led to her landing her position with the company.

Once employers see the payoff — better recruiting, better retention and better productivity — the choice is easy to offer these benefits, according to Floyd.

7 Things You Must Do If You’re Going To Successfully Bootstrap

Running a startup isn’t easy. Sure, it seems thrilling and glamorous: being your own boss, traveling around the world to pitch and raise funds, and making the headlines with your groundbreaking idea.

But it can also be a nerve-wracking process, especially when it comes to fundraising. Anyone who’s started a business will know that cash flow is on your mind, particularly when you start to have a team and office space. If you want to scale, you’re going to have to grow your team and invest in things like marketing to make yourself known.

Chances are, you’ll be looking for investors early on to support you as you develop your business to be able to grow even faster. This is also what most of us believe to be the normal route for a startup, with headlines about investment series breaking every day.

And yet there is an alternative that’s slowly growing in popularity: self-funding.

It may seem daunting to take the plunge, but that’s exactly what we decided to do at Recruitee, in 2017. Based on our experience we’ve put together the top seven steps you can take to become self-funded and run a sustainable startup.

PUT YOUR PRODUCT FIRST

We developed Recruitee out of pain point we felt ourselves as we were recruiting. We’ve always put our product at the center of all our decisions, which means our priority is to ensure it’s user-friendly, fun, and accessible to everyone . . . Focusing on your product first helps you make decisions with that in mind. It forces you to ask yourself what problem you’re trying to solve with your product, rather than chasing after opportunities for investment, or developing solely based on input from partners. This should also mean you deliver a product that works for your customers and has product-market fit, rather than one that resonates with investors’ financial plans.

KEEP YOUR CUSTOMERS CLOSE

Your product is, of course, important, but without people to use it, it’s nothing. It’s always been important to us to ensure our customers are successful in using our tool. We want to reduce the impact of their pain points and help them do their job. If you’re able to do that, they’re more likely to come back or stay with you for the long-term. With happy customers, you can focus on growth and acquisition based on previous success stories and key learnings.

THINK OF YOUR CUSTOMERS AS YOUR INVESTORS

Once your product is successful, you’ll start to grow your customer base. So view them as your investors. What they pay to use your product is what will help keep you afloat in your self-funded journey. Treat them as you would treat investors, all while recognizing that this option offers you more freedom.

THINK LONG-TERM IN YOUR DECISION-MAKING

If you raise funding, you’ll be calculating your burn rate and thinking about how to spend your newly acquired money—not to mention, investors will probably have an opinion on how it should be spent. This often means that decisions are made with a short-term vision, which impacts your business in multiple ways. When going the self-funded route, take the time to think of your vision for the company in the next five or even 10 years. What foundations do you want to build it on? How will you get there? Making financial decisions based on a long-term plan means you will spend your money differently and pick your investments wisely in a way you wouldn’t if you suddenly had $10 million in the bank.

THINK SCALABLE AND SUSTAINABLE

As a small bootstrapped business, you won’t be able to travel across the country at a moment’s notice to meet potential customers in glamorous locations. You also might not be able to hire all the staff you think you need or invest in all of the marketing channels. To make sure you’re still investing in your business and giving it the attention it needs, think in scalable and sustainable terms. For us, that meant we took most sales meetings online via conference calls. That didn’t prevent us from succeeding, as today, we have over 3,000 customers.

GET CREATIVE WITH YOUR BUDGET

When you’re self-funded, every penny you have counts. That means you’re going to need some out-of-the-box thinking on how to get what you want and how to spend your limited resources. While this may seem scary, it’s actually a good thing. It helps you exercise some restraint and invest only in the necessary items until you’ve reached financial sustainability. For example, which of your marketing channels will give you the most bang for your buck? Which of your employee benefits are the most important to you? Which area of the business needs to be invested in as a priority? You might be surprised by what you can do with less. And if the amounts on your invoices scare you at first, there’s plenty of solutions. You can ask to split the cost or pay in installments, or ask your vendor for a discount.

FOCUS ON YOUR CORE COMPANY VALUES

At the heart of your business are your company values, and if you’ve decided to go the self-funded route, that says something about what you stand for. As a founder, what is it that you believe in and what drives your business? What are the principles by which you want to run the business, and how will that be reflected in the way you work? If you are clear on your values, you’ll be able to use them as guiding principles when you have to make decisions. It will also help you in hiring talent, growing your team, and creating a company culture that can scale.

Becoming self-funded is definitely not an easy decision to make, but it’s one that can really pay off as Mailchimp, Wistia, and others have proven. We’re not suggesting that the above are foolproof steps that guarantee success. Every business is different. But we do know it’s important to ask yourself the right questions and challenge yourself to think differently.

COVID-19: The new world of B2B sales

With unprecedented speed and scale, the COVID-19 outbreak has upended B2B salesforces across the world. Rather than viewing these new challenging times through the lens of adversity, companies are pivoting fast and creating opportunities out of uncertainty.

In the short term, they should turn to the latest innovations to rebound from the crisis smarter, better and stronger. Empowered by the new dynamics virtual selling is creating in their workforces, sales leaders are increasingly leaning on emerging technologies. This will help them remain relevant in a rapidly shifting market while maintaining critical business continuity.

Without a doubt, buyer priorities are evolving. When the pandemic eventually subsides, B2B selling will be changed. To survive and thrive over the long term, organizations should have to fundamentally reinvent the way their B2B salesforces interact with customers.

The traditional ways of selling are giving way to innovative approaches that will alter the way we communicate and do business—often for the better.

Preparing for the next

The time to act in bold new ways is now. To best prepare for the immediate and long-lasting effects of COVID-19, business leaders must adapt and rise to mounting challenges quickly. It’s time to embrace the unpredictable. Enterprises must take strategic steps to combat the economic consequences of the crisis, successfully capture market share and keep pace with constantly shifting customer demand.

To help capture new opportunities, consider these recommended five powerful B2B sales dynamics:

  1. Re-Discover Your Customer The leaders of tomorrow must pioneer new ways of hearing and understanding customer needs while staying close now and in the future as their market and needs change. To continuously nurture real-time customer visibility, proactively reach out with empathetic messaging, enhance selling approaches with AI-powered tools and deepen sales integration to nurture opportunities at scale.
  2. Re-Focus the Salesforce To reinvigorate the new sales journey and double-down on high-value opportunities, look beyond historical leads. Source new ones instead from your most promising social media exchanges, referrals from existing customers and service exchanges. Rewrite your sales playbook, carving out a competitive advantage by elevating the core sales interaction moments that matter. Train your sales teams on the latest and most innovative digital and virtual deal execution methods and tools.
  3. Re-Imagine the Offer Be open to embracing new narratives, approaches and terms. Reposition existing product and service offers to exceed your customers’ unmet needs in real-time. This requires continuous use of emerging customer data sources and predictive AI tools that uncover propensity-to-buy shifts. Never stop innovating, testing and refining your approach as you go.
  4. Re-Set Your Sales Approach Focus sellers on the highest-value and highest-probability opportunities and activities. These include cross-selling, upselling and customer retention strategies. To encourage sales teams to focus on the top customers and new product bundles, double-down on incentives and discounting policies. Go a step further and revisit your existing channel mix in ways that make it easy to shift targeted customers to a direct model.
  5. Re-Enable Your Sales Teams Make it fast, focused and easy for your team to unlock the potential of marketing, sales and service platforms. Putting the right data-driven tools in their hands can help them capture a 360-degree view of your customers—and act fast and effectively on crucial opportunities. At the same time, these innovations can allow sales account teams and leadership to collaborate seamlessly together—and ultimately win.

Agility will be even more important in the new economic landscape

Your business will need to adapt to the new normal as the Canadian economy gradually reopens during the COVID-19 pandemic.

After managing your business through the lockdown and planning for the recovery, you are most likely going to be doing business in a changed landscape.

Plans and forecasts that you have already made likely won’t apply for the long run anymore. Planning cycles will require speed because the future is still blurry and remains uncertain in these new conditions.

Implementing change as the recovery progresses

Volatility will be part of the new normal for a while, as industry conditions and ways of doing things still need to settle down.

There will be circumstances that you can’t control, such as any government regulations dealing with COVID-19 that may become the new norm, and you will need to quickly adapt your business to them.

Consumer sentiment and expectations may also be different as businesses reopen and, again, you will need to adapt to them.

Your planning will have multiple iterations and will be evolving based on situations that aren’t static.

Meet any challenges and find opportunities

How will you get to this “new normal?”

There are three key steps for your business to take to adapt to the situation.

1. Finish your recovery plan

You will need to create a detailed plan to return your business to scale quickly. Based on what you now know about your market, ramp your business back up.

Everything might still be bit blurry as you do this. You may not have a clear sight right away, but the important thing is to ramp it up.

You will also need to return your employees safely to work, either from working at home or rehiring them, based on public health guidelines.

You will also need to take any necessary steps to ensure that your business is financially as sustainable as possible.

2. Adapt and pivot your business:

There are important questions to answer: What do your customers want now and can you give it to them?

Do you understand how the consumer market has changed and can you satisfy your clients’ needs?

You will need to be agile enough to adapt your business to keep your market share and increase it if you can.

If you aren’t able to adapt, your future may be uncertain.

3. Put your plan into action

While you will be introducing change into your business due to COVID-19, it’s important to understand any regulatory changes that will apply to your business and that they are expected to be maintained in the future.

As you put your plan into action, you will also need to understand any permanent shifts in your industry and how the competitive landscape may have changed.

Businesses trying to keep their current customers will need to adapt to capture new ones in a changed consumer and economic landscape.

Agility and fluidity will be watch words for businesses

Your business will likely be operating in a fluid situation for some time. You need to make sure you have taken the right steps to flourish in this new normal. Make sure your planning cycles are constantly being iterated to capture the latest changes in your environment.

These are 6 employee needs that companies need to serve

Research on conflict analysis tends to frame issues from a human needs perspective. That’s because the purpose is to examine how systems serve or impede the basic needs of the people who live within them.

The same framework applies to business organizations. As leaders, you need to look at the fundamental psychological needs of your employees. When your company satisfies your workers’ needs at work, they’re more likely to be engaged, productive, healthy, and loyal. However, when you fail to meet the needs of your workers, you’ll see them exhibit low morale and high turnover.

1. VALUE

An easy way to understand the universal need for value is to remember that everyone needs to feel like they matter. Think about all the “systems of life” that you belong to—family,
local community, or the workplace. To belong and thrive in these communities, you need to feel heard.

We all want to know that others respect us as human beings, no matter our environment. Workers need to feel like the company cares about them as humans and as employees. They can do this by giving workers some voice or impact over their work-life and by rewarding or recognizing them for jobs well done. So if you’re a business owner or organizational leader, ask yourself, do your workers feel they matter to the company? Are systems and processes set up to ensure employees have a voice and understand how much the company values and respects them?

2. COMPETENCE

All employees who value their jobs need to know that they can do their jobs well, and that the company will recognize them for doing so.

If an employee feels incompetent at her job and doesn’t believe she can learn or achieve what the job demands, she will inevitably feel dissatisfied. The more senior one is at their job, the more competent they will feel. Workers must have a sense that they can excel at their jobs, and that progress will lead to greater autonomy.

To serve your workers’ need for competence, you need to put the right person in the proper role and make sure that they’re clear on what their role entails and requires. It’s also crucial that you give them the tools to meet and exceed expectations, so that they can execute with autonomy.

3. GOAL ACHIEVEMENT

Although the practice of mindfulness and living in the “now” has proven quite a vital practice, human beings are forward-thinking. We often have goals we hope to achieve in our personal and professional lives. If you want your employees to stay with your company, they need to understand how their role enables them to make progress in these goals. Some individuals are quite happy in their current position and would be satisfied staying there for the next 20 years, assuming it will help them pay off their mortgages and take that ultimate family vacation. Others will want to move up professionally and will need a clear, reasonable path to making Vice President someday.

Whatever the ultimate goals are for each person, you can serve the need for goal achievement by giving each worker a clear opportunity to accomplish both short- and long-term goals. Without this clarity, an employee will inevitably be looking around for other opportunities that align with their needs.

4. STIMULATION

In some cultures, people don’t view work as something that is supposed to be stimulating. As long as the job provides steady pay and sufficient attention to basic human needs, some workers are quite satisfied. On the contrary, others expect to be challenged and engaged by the work they perform.

As an organizational leader, you can serve this need by placing the right individuals in the right positions, consistently adding to their competencies, and providing new learning and growth opportunities. If you are in a relatively young industry with a relatively young workforce, assess whether you have systems in place to track how stimulated workers feel, what they’d like to learn, and when they’re ready for the next challenge.

5. FREEDOM & FLEXIBILITY

More and more companies now are catering to new expectations by toting remote work flexibility. Gone is the clock-in, clock-out mentality—companies now measure workers’ performance by output and productivity. Allowing employees to work where, when, and how they would like serves a growing need for freedom and flexibility, and ultimately for work-life balance.

6. VISION ALIGNMENT

In other words, does the higher purpose of the company serve or support the employee’s deeper purpose? Employees who find meaning in their work lives will ultimately require that they are spending their time helping a company whose mission they believe in.

Start by making your company’s vision or mission explicit, and when it comes to hiring, make sure that you hire individuals who align with that mission. Assess your hiring systems—are they currently set up to ensure that individuals understand how the company’s vision aligns with their own?

Workforce culture can truly make or break a company. That’s why it’s essential to have systems in place that facilitates the needs of your employees. It’s not enough to give your workers a paycheck—if you neglect to develop these systems, your company’s fundamental need for a consistent workforce will inevitably suffer.

The Future of Government Funding:The Public Promise Will Change

I have recently read the Mercer white paper regarding the future of the Canadian healthcare system and here is my summary of what to expect over the next few decades and it’s effect on employee benefits. Healthcare spending approaches 50% of some provinces’ total budgets, something must change. The system has changed little in the past 50 years. Add in the cost pressures from an ageing population and government will be forced to reduce coverage, extend wait times and remove the “free” aspect of universal care. What can employers do to get ahead of the coming challenges? No one knows what the healthcare landscape will look like by 2025, but you can be assured that it will cost more. Understand the interplay between your private plan and the public system ad begin internal discussions to get out front of the pending of the pending ‘train wreck”.Employers will need to make decisions in terms of picking up some elements that the government no longer covers. If not mandated, do you step in and fund the gap? Do you cost-share with your employees? When the public plan shrinks, make certain that your plan doesn’t include provisions to automatically pick up the difference. You might elect to do so, but protect your plan by ensuring the correct wording that clearly stipulates responsibilities from all parties. There are many specialty vendors and advisors that have created niche products and services that help businesses save money, improve the quality of care and enhance patient/user experience. Their numbers and expertise will increase exponentially over the coming years, providing new technology, thinking and improved client service.