The Daily Recruiter

The Ezine for Executive Managers … brought to you by The SearchLogix Group.

Wellness at Work

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It’s all part of a welcome health epidemic—sometimes known as the “Thrive Revolution”—that’s taking a 360-degree approach to workplace wellness programs, going beyond gym memberships and weight loss support to create a healthier, happier workforce.

“Thriving is about creating a community workplace culture that promotes succeeding at life as well as work – not just how physical health or wellness is defined,” says Renee Moorefield, chair of the Wellness at Work initiative at the Global Wellness Institute and founder of Wisdom Works, a firm that has spent decades helping global brands including Coca-Cola, Nike and Merck recraft their health offerings.

Companies including Capital One, Zappos, Procter & Gamble, Ben & Jerry’s, Nike, Google and PricewaterhouseCoopers have been quick to embrace this philosophy, which results in increased loyalty because more people love their jobs.

“When I have the space and time to take care of myself throughout the day, that means I am more productive when I need to be and can more fully rejuvenate when I’m away from the office,” says Michele Titolo, lead software engineer at Capital One, which designates “sleeping nooks” throughout the office for midday naps. At its C1 Labs in San Francisco, they even take advantage of ceiling space, where ladders lead to high-above-ground sleep nooks.

A WELCOME WORKPLACE EPIDEMIC

Companies increasingly are willing to go the extra mile to keep workers and their families healthy and happy, to keep health costs down and retention and loyalty up, and create an increased sense of camaraderie. Hip tech giants and digital startups remain on the leading edge of businesses thinking differently about workplace health, thanks to millennials redefining how work priorities socialize with their personal time and life goals.

At its campus in Mountain View, Calif., Google offers everything from kickboxing, nap pods and onsite swimming pools to a slide for people who want an energy thrill getting from floor to floor. Over at Zappos in the company quad, you’ll see people playing tetherball, volley ball, shooting hoops and generally playing around on Recess Tuesdays. On other days, as part of Zappos’ Wellness Adventures initiative, wellness coordinators randomly grab people from different teams away from their work to go and do something fun instead. It could be trampolining, laser tag or taking a quick golf lesson.

WHY BUSINESS IS NOW ONBOARD

Ron Goetzel has spent three decades evaluating the impact of workplace wellness programs and their effectiveness in both helping workers improve their health on the job and lowering health costs for employers and their employees. He’s senior scientist and director of the Institute for Health and Productivity Studies at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

His research has proven that companies that take their employees’ health seriously—and don’t just pay it lip service—outperform the S&P 500 (the equity performance index tracking the 500 largest U.S. companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange or NASDAQ) by a whopping 3 to 1.

“It happens successfully when enlightened leadership says, ‘Wait a minute—the most important asset we have is our gifted people.’ Then they create a culture that reinforces health and well-being, where the boss frequently articulates the company’s health offerings and perks and encourages the full workforce to take advantage of great wellness benefits without feeling guilty.”

Goetzel points to winners of the C. Everett Koop National Health Award, which recognizes outstanding worksite health promotion and improvement programs, such as that of O’Neal Industries (ONI) in Birmingham, Ala. The family-owned chain of metals service centers created a health and wellness program called LIVESMART. Employees get their health numbers checked regularly—blood pressure, cholesterol, body mass index, blood glucose, physical activity levels and tobacco use—but also take part in fun time-out programs, like one that gets workers from the warehouse to the executive suite moving down the hallways to the sounds of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy.” Today, LIVESMART has saved ONI nearly $500,000 in health costs, with a return on investment of $1.52 for every dollar spent on keeping the company healthy. And that means more money to invest back into workers’ wellness.

SAVING LIVES

Target—a $70 billion company with more than 320,000 employees nationwide in its stores, distribution centers and at corporate HQ in Minneapolis—takes workplace wellness very seriously, and its numbers also tell a story of success.

“In less than 12 months, more than 28,000 employees have already had their numbers checked at 2,000-plus biometric screenings and wellness events,” says Stephanie Lundquist, Target’s chief of human resources. “We leveraged $78,000 for our Team Life initiative, and last year alone saved $12.4 million for our team.”

Even more crucial, Target’s programs—like many companies’—have literally saved lives. Kim Wier, a senior technology services manager in Minneapolis, was six months overdue for her annual mammogram, just too busy with life to take time out to go and get it done. Then Target brought a Mammo a-Go-Go bus to her office—a mobile mammography unit from the Jane Brattain Breast Center—and she was quick to sign up.

“It was great,” says Wier, 51. “I just walked down to the parking lot and was back at my desk within half an hour.” The following morning, a radiologist called. Her mammogram showed a suspicious lump. After an ultrasound and an urgent biopsy, she says, “The nurse confirmed I did, in fact, have breast cancer. I met with the surgeon right away, and within 10 days had surgery and was on my way to recovery.”

Wier credits Target’s Team Life wellness offerings for saving her life. “It was so, so fortuitous that Target gives us these opportunities and I found my cancer,” she says. “Having that mammogram right there at work saved me from chemo, a probable mastectomy and all sorts of horrible treatments. It makes me feel joyful and grateful to work for Target.”

We Default to Criticism

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” By Lydia Dishman, of Fast Company”

“Susan doesn’t pull her weight. She’s always negative, people don’t like her.”

“Robert is just incompetent. Why am I asked to do my job well when he gets to skate by?”

“This department would be better off if Beth was fired, everyone knows it, what are you going to do about it?”

Tim Cole, now founder and CEO of The Compass Alliance, used to hear criticism like this regularly in a previous work environment. Tasked with taking over a department he admits had a “septic culture,” Cole stepped into a quagmire of low morale. There was legitimate debate on shutting the operation down,” he explains, “despite the contribution to profitability.”

In the case of this particular team, Cole says the focus on individual contribution eroded teamwork. “Everyone was fighting to beat the employee next to them,” he recalls, “Not only was there ineffective praise, but the default was even more damaging: ‘I win by tearing others down.’”
Although their vitriol is a pretty dramatic example, the urge to critique others and their work (or lack thereof) are far too common.

THE BRAIN SCIENCE OF CRITICISM

Julita Haber, clinical assistant professor of Organizational Behavior at Fordham University, points out that focusing on the negative by being quick to criticize and slow to praise has deep roots. “Human tendency for negative bias evolved over time to help our ancestors survive by being responsive to potential threats,” Haber explains. “As such, negative stimuli in our brain are processed almost instantly.” That rapid processing ensures that the criticism will be stored in long-term memory. Positive experiences, on the other hand, have to be held in the brain for at least 12 seconds before they are absorbed in the long-term memory.

THE WORKPLACE EVOLUTION OF CRITICISM

But there are other motivations for knee-jerk criticisms. Wally Adamchik, president of FireStarter Speaking and Consulting, says that managers, in particular, may be quick to call people out. Their job is to add value and make an impact, says Adamchik, and they see criticism as a way to do that. “They are making the bad better and in doing so justifying that position of power and knowledge,” he explains.

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The Best Apologies

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“By , of  Thin Difference”

Apologies have dominated the headlines recently. Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein, Tom Price, Al Franken, Louis C.K., and Tim Murphy, a pro-life Republican Congressman who encouraged his mistress to have an abortion, are just a few of the prominent names to offer a public mea culpa in the past several months.

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Confronting the Jerk

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” By Barbara Mitchell, of Smartbrief”

Accounts of egregious workplace behavior are suddenly all over the news – again. Harvey Weinstein and Mark Halperin are just two of the more notable figures recently identified of being guilty of such behavior.

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Fault Finding

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“By Dan Rockwell, of  Leadership Freak”

Fault-finding is an island of security for incompetent leaders. Feedback launches into the deep.

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Exceptional Bosses

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” By Jeff Haden, of Inc.”

In late 1864 Union General William T. Sherman marched into Atlanta, crippling the southern war economy. The practical effect was massive but so was the psychological impact, and not just on southerners: Abraham Lincoln would ride the resulting wave of public confidence into his second term as President.

As Ron Chernow describes in the excellent biography Grant, this is how General Grant congratulated Sherman: 

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Stop Social Loafing

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” By Ken Downer of  Rapid Start Leadership”

You would think that the more people on a project, the greater the output.  Sadly, that’s not always the case.  A phenomenon called Social Loafing leads some team members to do the minimum possible.  They drag down group productivity like a boat anchor.

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7 Ways Not to Screw Up

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” By Mark Coronna of Chief Outsiders”

Value propositions are critical to the health and growth of your business.  How critical you think they are may be colored by your personal experience.  For me, a value proposition is a powerful summary of who you are and what you offer.  It defines what is distinct and valuable for those prospects and customers that you want to reach.

A business associate recently said to me: “Now I get you, you’re all about creating value.”  If our organizations are not creating value, what right to we have to continue to exist?  If every business was lookalike–other than franchises which strive to create the same customer experience regardless of location–why should we exist?

Through years of working with small- and mid-market businesses, one theme continues.  When someone says “We are a metal fabricator,” they only make that reference for your benefit or to provide context, because they will almost always follow that up with “But we’re not like other metal fabricators.”  You can be part of NAICS Code 322, but that does not help someone understand who you really are, what you offer, what your capabilities are, and why they should do business with you.  That last point: why they listen to your story about why should do business with you, is the essence of your value proposition.

Some might ask: “If value propositions are that important, why aren’t they more effective?”  There are seven ways that I have seen clients of all sizes and across all industries screw up (or under-optimize, in consultant speak) their value propositions.  Let’s review the list as well as best practices for building a killer value proposition.

Identify Distinctive Competencies

You may not have had an internal conversation around your business’ distinctive competencies recently—or maybe you’ve never had that conversation.  But simply, they are the foundation of every value proposition.

A distinctive competence is best defined as a strong competency that is maintainable in the face of competition. It is not easily duplicated, at least for a while. It can be thought of as an “unfair advantage.”

Distinctive competencies can come from technology, industry position, market relations, cost, business processes, manufacturing processes, people, customer satisfaction, or just being first to market.

Your value proposition needs to be solidly founded on your distinctive competencies.  Value propositions aren’t aspirational (that’s the role of a Vision Statement).  They translate what is unique about your business into something unique (like design or engineering services offered by manufacturers) and of value to your customers.

value-proposition-model.png

Write Your Value Proposition in Prospect and Customer-Facing Language

You’ve probably read value propositions that you will instantly recognize as being written by committee.  Others seem like they are written by PhDs for PhDs.  Yours must be written at the 10th grade reading level (a good average for readers today).

One suggestion I offer clients is this: think about a value proposition as if you are sitting across the table from a prospect and having an informal conversation.  Never try to impress a potential customer with language they don’t use—you’ll lose them.

Here’s an example of writing in a more direct and simple style…

Instead of saying: “Our collaborative and hands-on engagement with customers, combined with expertise in processes, materials, and technology, creates innovative and high-performing products.”

Try something more direct: “We help you create innovative, high-performing products. Customers value our expertise in processes, materials, and technology.”  That simple revision drops you down almost three grade levels in readability.

The Gunning Fog readability index is free and will help you understand the grade level you are writing to.

You can also use word clouds to understand what messages are really coming across to your readers.  This blog explains how to do that.

Adopt an “Outside In” Approach

It will be challenging, but you have to incorporate more use of the second personal pronoun “You” and less use of the word “We.”  Try talking about yourself but use the word “you” and see just how challenging this can be.  But if you want to be effective in stating your value proposition, you have to try to get there.  Time to stop navel gazing and take your customer’s perspective.  Make the benefits you offer explicit.

We are all much more interested in conversations that engage us than talk “to” us.  If you want your value proposition to be intrusive and memorable, using the work “You” will work much better for You.

And please, please, please, don’t start your value proposition with a sentence about when you were founded and how long you have been in business.  Honestly, we don’t care.  As much as we admire business longevity, we’d like to know right now what you can do for us right now.

Get Your Value Statements in the Right Order

Let’s say there are three or four major areas of value identified in your value proposition.  In Marketing there has been long been a saying that “companies get the benefits list right but the order wrong.”

I’ve been personally guilty of this.  In selling what became a multi-billion dollar deal with the Defense Department, I kept describing the service as a “cost-effective payment network with rich transaction detail.”  The customer kept describing our offering as a “rich information system that got its detail from a payment transaction.”  Both were benefits.  However, the customer saw that the long term value of the information generated would be more powerful than what they would save on lower payment processing costs.

Once I realized that their view of value was different than mine, and that $1billion was at stake, I adopted their language!

Turn Value Propositions into Marketing Language

Once you have written your value proposition, you probably think you’re home free and everyone can start using it immediately.  Hold on there, pardner.  Someone in Marketing needs to polish it, refine it, validate it, refine it again, and add proof points to make it credible and more meaningful.

Proof points for each value statement included should be quantitative examples of benefits.  Here’s an example: “Our collaborative design services often help customers reduce their costs by 22% or more.”  Now are you  more interested?

Proof points can also include industry certifications, third party awards, and anything else that makes your claims real and credible.  If you can go the extra mile, customer testimonials help here…a lot.

Time to Reinforce and Police

I’ve worked in start-ups and Fortune 500 corporations, and I’ve never had the Marketing budget I thought I needed to introduce new positioning.

Someone in your organization needs to put the “police” badge on and insure that every time, in every medium and in every channel, your value position is presented in exactly the same language every time.

A branding guru once told me that “Your customers will get your new positioning before your employees will.”  She was absolutely correct.  After re-branding one business and introducing a new value proposition, in 10 months our customers fully understood our position.  Two years after the launch, though, we still had salespeople who used the “old” company name.  And don’t trust your staff to use your new collateral and presentations, either.  That’s where policing comes in.  Trust but verify.

Audit at Least Every Two Years

Value evolves in competitive landscapes.  What is unique about your value offered today may be a market expectation tomorrow.  My recommendation to clients is to complete a brand audit every two years.  It’s not that expensive or time-consuming, and you can also combine sit with satisfaction questions and a net promoter score (NPS) loyalty study.

One example of evolving forms of value is power windows in automobiles.

In Summary

There was a motivational speaker who years ago gave me great advice.  He said: “What is easy to do is often easy NOT to do.”  Value propositions are not rocket science, but they are critical to your business and deserve your attention.  Do them well.

Saying NO

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” By Michael Hyatt of  Michael Hyatt”

I have a hard time saying no. Perhaps you do, too. I think it is more common than we think, especially for those who are empathetic or nurturing. We just hate the thought of hurting someone else’s feelings.

It was a long time before I noticed this problem in myself. For most of my career, I’ve had administrative assistants who said no for me. If someone had a request, they had to get through them first.

This gave me the buffer I needed to consider the request more carefully. I then let my admin decline on my behalf. The fact that I didn’t have to deliver the bad news myself not only kept me focused and productive, it also helped preserve relationships.

But here’s the thing. I didn’t realize what a gift this was. When I left the corporate world, I figured I could make it fine without an admin. That meant the requests all came straight to me. And, left to my own devices, I said yes to far, far too many.

A third of the time I wanted to kick myself as soon as I said yes. Another third of the time I wanted to kick myself shortly afterward. How did I get myself into this mess?

“Saying No has always been important,” says William Ury in his book, The Power of a Positive No, “but perhaps never as essential a skill as it is today.” The reasons he lists are the ones I experienced. All my yeses meant I was overcommitted, shortchanging my relationships, and unable to do my best work.

I bet you can relate.

The Reason We Struggle

Why do we have such a hard time saying no? Ury says it’s because we want to protect our relationships, and that’s definitely a big part of it. But we even say yes to perfect strangers. I think it has to do with keeping up appearances. We want to appear helpful or can-do. But it’s a trap.

When we say yes too often, we tend to hurt our relationships. Not only that, but our performance suffers, so it’s impossible to keep up appearances. We let everyone down, especially ourselves.

After a while of fielding all my own requests, I decided I needed an administrative assistantagain. But before I hired an admin, I started turning my no boat around on my own. How?

I resolved to say no to everything unless there was a compelling reason to say yes. I switched my default response from an affirmative to a negative. Things changed with just that determination, but I was able go even further when I wrote down five reasons for saying no.

Say No for a Better Yes

This list is the why behind the what. It turns out there are very good reasons for flexing your no muscle. If you struggle with this, I think these five reasons might help you as well.

Here’s what I wrote.

If I don’t say no,

  1. Other peoples’ priorities will take precedence over ours.
  2. Mere acquaintances—people we barely know!—will crowd out time with family and close friends.
  3. We will not have the time we need for rest and recovery.
  4. We will end up frustrated and stressed.
  5. We won’t be able to say yes to the really important things.

This last one was the clincher for me.

Here’s what Patti Breitman and Connie Hatch say in their book, How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty:

Out of guilt or fear of confrontation, we take on more projects, invest in someone else’s priorities.… In the process, we dissipate our most valuable personal resources—time, energy, and money—on things that aren’t important to us. Each time we agree to something without enthusiasm for interest, we waste a little more of these precious resources.

Now let’s turn that around. Every time we say no to something that is not important, we are saying yes to something that is: our work, our relationships, our resources, our margin.

Increase Your Influence

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” By Mark Deterding of Leadchange”

If your life was a silent film, could the people in the audience discern your influence?

How?

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