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  The office can be a stressful place that productivity can be severely affected. As a response, many companies today are offering some sort of health and wellness benefit – such as meditation. In this interview David Gelles discusses with Joe Pinsker the multitude benefits of mediation when practiced on a daily basis.

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Since I started meditating two years ago, my practice has been shamefully sporadic. When I do manage to stop what I’m doing and sit down, device-free, I find following my breath to be a relief from—and a contrast to—what happens at work. But as David Gelles observes in his new book, that contrast is dissolving, perhaps for the better.

In Mindful Work, Gelles, a business reporter for The New York Times, catalogues the nascent trend of establishing employee well-being programs that promote mindfulness, an activity that is perhaps best described as doing nothing. More precisely, mindfulness means drawing one’s attention to the sensations of the present moment, and noting, without frustration or judgment, any mental wanderings that get in the way. It can be done anywhere—at your desk, on the subway platform—and at any time. Decades of research suggest that setting aside time for mindfulness can improve concentration and reduce stress.

Gelles first reported on the rise of corporate mindfulness programs in 2012 for The Financial Times, when he described a rare but promising initiative at General Mills. In the years since, similar programs have popped up at Ford, Google, Target, Adobe—and even Goldman Sachs and Davos. This adoption has been rapid, perhaps due to its potential to help the bottom line: Aetna estimates that since instituting its mindfulness program, it has saved about $2,000 per employee in healthcare costs, and gained about $3,000 per employee in productivity. Mindful employees, the thinking goes, are healthier and more focused.

I recently talked to Gelles about why mindfulness programs are sprouting up and what happens when you expose a practice unconcerned with materialism to the forces of capitalism. The interview that follows has been edited and condensed for the sake of clarity.

Joe Pinsker: In your book, you trace mindfulness in America back to Henry David Thoreau, who read plenty of Buddhist and Hindu texts. You also mention that Allen Ginsberg picked up this thread in the 1960s, but can you talk about its first moment of corporate uptake, in the mid-1990s?

David Gelles: There was a, perhaps unusual, very surprising, example. Long before Google was teaching emotional intelligence courses in Mountain View, Monsanto, of all companies, tried mindfulness. They had a very progressive CEO for a moment there, who had a personal interest in this practice. He brought in a very skilled and experienced teacher named Mirabai Bush, and they began teaching mindfulness to the executives of the company.

These executives who had been in the corporate world for the duration of their careers suddenly were exposed to ways of thinking and ways of relating to themselves and to each other and even to their customers and maybe even to the planet, that they had never experienced before. Some people had these real, very emotional openings. Some people, I’ve heard, actually quit the company when this started to happen. It was starting to make a difference in the way some of the top executives at this company were thinking about the world.

And then of course what happened is the CEO got fired, they shut down the program, and no one ever mentioned it again. These things happen in corporate America.

Pinsker: So why then do you think that mindfulness is taking root in the corporate world now? My first-blush theory is that businesses are more likely embrace things that they can quantify, and only really recently has the research into mindfulness been able to put really hard numbers on its benefits. Do you think that’s a good theory, or no?

Gelles: I think that’s a big part of it, absolutely. I think there are three main reasons why we’re seeing mindfulness in the workplace today more than ever before. The first is exactly what you said. Over the last 30 years, there’s been this tremendous volume of research. Academic research, scientific research that’s been really quantifying the effects of mindfulness. And we can now see it actually changes the structures of our brain in ways that we think are largely positive. It actually improves our immune system in ways that we can verifiably measure. It actually seems to reduce the stress we experience and the stress that our bodies seem to be reporting, through measures like heart-rate variability and cortisol levels. So the data is there. We know that it’s making changes and that these changes are largely beneficial.

And now, we’re just starting to see the next step of this. We’re starting to see companies do some work analyzing what happens when they roll out mindfulness at scale. And so at Aetna, the company I profiled in The Times earlier this month, healthcare costs actually went down at the company in the first full year after they rolled it out. All of a sudden, there’s this tantalizing promise that maybe it can even affect the bottom line. So that’s one reason. I think that we’re in a place where we can have much more empirical conversations about this, which I think helps it be less of a woo-woo, New Age thing.

The second thing I think that has helped is that over the last 30 years, mindfulness has become truly a secular pursuit. Yes, it has some relation, some origins, in traditional Eastern practices, but by no means today is what people are teaching and practicing anything like religion. And so I think the secularization, the fact that it’s a purely scientific practice almost, has made it much more accessible to big corporations in particular.

The third is, I think mindfulness is being accepted in the workplace today because we need it more than ever, it seems. We are so stressed. We are so bombarded with constant information overload. We are so addicted to our technology that the promise of a technique that allows us to come back to the present moment and stop obsessing about whatever it we just read in our Twitter stream or what we’re about to post on our Facebook page has a unique and enduring allure that is totally understandable. I mean, after a totally frenetic workday here at The Times, the opportunity to quiet down is totally lovely.

Pinsker: So if mindfulness is particularly relevant today because it encourages people to be more aware of the way that they’re coping with distraction, then how does the idea of mindfulness mesh with the modern burden of constant multitasking?

Gelles: I would actually say that multitasking is a myth. I think we rarely, if ever, can actually do two things at the same time. I think what we’re doing is very rapid task-switching, which leads to inherent inefficiencies. Now, is that part of the fabric of the modern workplace? To a certain extent, it is. And I think that’s the moment of opportunity. When I focus on actually writing a story, am I capable of focusing my attention just on the act of writing that story rather than checking Facebook every 30 seconds and glancing at Tweetdeck at the same time? It’s possible. Of course, my mind is attracted to these constant inputs, these constant stimuli.

But that’s the whole game. The whole game is to not necessarily give in to those urges. Now, if the phone rings, am I going to pick it up? Yeah. I’m not advocating for some kind of hermetic lifestyle in an office. But I think the point remains that if we can actually focus on doing one thing at a time, I believe the outcomes and the results have an opportunity to be better than if we were constantly distracted.

Pinsker: There have been all sorts of programs over the years that companies have put in place because they think that it’s the right thing to do at that time. Is there any sign that mindfulness will be a corporate fad of some kind, or are there signs that this really will have longevity in the American workplace?

Gelles: There’s always the risk that these things become faddish. And one of the things that I call for in the book is a real focus on getting good teachers into the workplace. Because, absent good teachers, it’s going to be all too easy for the meaning and the richness of these traditions to be diluted and distorted, and that can easily go south very quickly.

That said, I think there’s real reason to believe that there’s an enduring demand for this. And whether or not it’s going to be called “mindfulness,” I don’t think it’s a fad that employees and employers are realizing that we have to take better care of our own minds and our own bodies and that, by doing so, we can actually create better companies and better outcomes. I think that that is a hopefully lasting shift in the way that many of the largest companies are thinking about how they have to do business.

Pinsker: In the book, you talk about the program at Green Mountain Coffee’s packaging and distribution facilities. And you raise that as an example of how mindfulness can be applied to even blue-collar professions. So I was wondering, has this been evenly deployed in white-collar and blue-collar jobs? And is it promising for both in the same way?

Gelles: Let me answer the second part first. I think everyone who’s interested in mindfulness could potentially benefit from it. I say “everyone who’s interested in it” because I’m not here suggesting that absolutely everyone should be meditating. Who am I to say such a thing? But for those who have a curiosity, an appetite for it, I think whether they’re a factory-floor worker or a C-suite executive, there’s merit in at least giving it a shot and seeing if there’s value for an individual.

As for whether or not the programs are evenly deployed, in my experience, the answer is probably no. This, for the most part, has probably skewed towards white-collar industries. But then again, our entire economy is skewing towards white-collar industries. We live in an information economy, so it’s not, perhaps, surprising that Intel, Adobe, Google, with their enormous workforces, are some of the biggest proprietors and proponents of this.

Pinsker: You seem to be worried a bit, especially near the end of the book, that as mindfulness is implemented, people might come at it from an angle of workers being “cured of stress” after a single session when really it’s supposed to be the launching pad for a long and constant process. What can be done, do you think, to prevent that sort of thing from happening?

Gelles: There are all sorts of potential pitfalls as this starts to ramp up in scale. One of them is ineffective teachers, whatever the medium, and another is this sense of over-promising and under-delivering. I think when people hear, “mindfulness reduces stress,” all of a sudden they think they’re going to be able to take one or two classes and jobs won’t be stressful anymore. And that’s just not the case, of course. Mindfulness can help us heal with our own reactions to negative events, either at the workplace or home, but they’re not going to prevent bad things from happening in the first place.

Pinsker: You provide plenty of examples of how mindfulness has led to, or at least played a role in, creating socially responsible corporate behavior. But another argument that’s running throughout the book seems to be that it’s a good business decision. You save money on health costs, and you gain a lot in productivity, for example. Is there anything contradictory about harnessing the power of mindfulness, which is in part meant to diminish the importance of worldly pursuits, to improve the bottom line?

Gelles: We live in a capitalist economy, and mindfulness can’t change that. I think what it can do, hopefully, is give individuals, influencers of organizations, and maybe even companies themselves the perspective that’s needed to make decisions and changes, even, that are beneficial, not just to the bottom line but to our emotional, physical, and social well-being.

Now, doing that is going to be easier at a private company than it is going to be at a big, public company with tons of bureaucracy and public shareholders and analysts who all expect quarterly profits to increase in perpetuity. So that alone is a big, inherent challenge with where we are right now, which is that our current economy values profit and increased quarterly profits above all else. And I think that’s an inherently flawed measure of success in the long term.

So, I don’t think the two things are incompatible because I think it’s about managing expectations. Nowhere have I heard, and I hope I didn’t suggest, that mindfulness is somehow going to lead to the next utopia. It’s not going to fix all our problems. But my hope is that it can help on the edges.

Pinsker: In the book, you mentioned in passing that Goldman Sachs has some sort of mindfulness program. Do you know what specifically their program consists of?

Gelles: They keep promising to bring me in and show it to me, but I haven’t actually seen it yet. My understanding is that they do offer mindfulness meditation classes to some of their employees. One of their board members, Bill George, is one of the loudest advocates for mindfulness in the business world. He actually teaches a course in mindful leadership in Harvard Business School.

Pinsker: I don’t want to single them out, but how do you reconcile a culture of mindfulness with a company like that, whose contributions to society are, shall we say, less than obvious? Is there a risk that a company could delude itself into thinking that it’s doing good in the world by promoting mindfulness among its employees?

Gelles: I think it’s easy to make the mistake of confusing a company with its employees. Only in a few instances in the book do I really try to say that mindfulness led a company to make decisions that stand in contrast to the way that they were behaving previously. The focus, I hope, is on the employees themselves. Mindfulness is most effective when individuals use it to take better care of themselves and treat their colleagues and other people they interact with in a more compassionate and accepting way.

This is where I really try to manage expectations, and I don’t know that any company says, “We’re practicing mindfulness, so look at us, we’re suddenly an absolutely flawless corporate actor.” I haven’t seen people making that argument. But again, I think you asked the right question, which is, is there a risk that companies use it as evidence that they are taking good care of their employees, even while, in other cases, perhaps, they’re not? But I think that’s where people like you and me have to hold them accountable.

Bertrand Management Group is a management consulting company based in Ontario, California, that provides effective solutions to help businesses grow. For more resources on management strategies, subscribe to this blog.

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Companies experiencing high employee turnovers may be wondering why they keep losing good employees and how they can stop it. There are many reasons why people choose to quit their work and leave a company. Likewise, there are ways to make sure it can be avoided if not, stopped.

The following are just some of the reasons:

Money. Other companies may offer better opportunities and benefits, including a bigger salary to excellent employees. One way to avoid this is to make sure you are giving a fair remuneration for the position and the job your employees are doing as well as providing incentives and praises for their achievements.

Office conflict. There are sure to be some office conflicts one way or another, and that these clashes may become a reason for employees to leave the company. A little competition in the workplace can be a good thing, but it’s better to unite the team as a whole than to operate on a divide and conquer strategy. Teambuilding activities and open communication are ways to minimize conflicts in the office.

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Poor management. The problem may not be with the employees at all but may have something to do with the abilities of their immediate superior. Make sure managers are fully qualified for their position and are effective leaders and motivators to ensure low employee turnovers.

Stress. It’s impossible to avoid stress at work, and managers often give more work to people they know to be reliable and capable. But employees are not machines, and there is such a thing as too much work. If employees can’t find a healthy balance between their personal life and work, they may decide to leave due to extreme stress. Distribute the work equally among employees so that no one person is carrying the entire load.

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Bertrand Management Group aims to provide strategic planning and management training to their clients for a more productive workplace. Follow this Twitter account to learn more about business and employee management.

Cellphones as well as the other social digital media have revolutionized the way many companies do business in terms of fast communication and instant access to information. Unfortunately, many companies are experiencing as many of technology’s drawbacks as its benefits. How does texting really affects the productivity among employees? This article has the answer.

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There’s no question that texting and other social digital media are making inroads in business. But is texting an actual productivity enhancer as some claim it to be, or a distraction that takes away from the connected experience vital to real work?

The consumer-style texting apps vying for a toehold in business include WhatsApp, TextSecure, Wickr, Vibr and Text Me, among others. These applications often allow voice and video calling, too. In the case of Wickr and TextSecure, they also allow higher levels of privacy to ease the worries of corporate IT pros. Wickr even offers a Snapchat-like level of privacy, where texts automatically disappear after a predetermined period of time.

Supporters of texting at work say it enables more immediate responses to routine or emergency questions. Detractors find just the opposite – if every message can be delivered immediately, even mundane things may seem like a priority, shifting attention from the job at hand. That shifting of attention and the sometimes compulsive need to check texts and emails has had a name for almost 10 years now – “infomania.”

Even that far back, infomania was found to affect the cognitive ability of workers, actually negatively affecting productivity. Infomania was quantified in a 2005 study commissioned by Hewlett Packard and conducted by British psychologist Dr. Glenn Wilson. His research concluded that 62% of UK adults were addicted to checking messages out of office hours and on vacation.

Half of workers responded to emails immediately or within 60 minutes, and one in five would interrupt a business or social meeting to respond to an email or telephone message. Actually, for business, that sounds pretty good so far. Here’s the catch: Rather than boosting productivity by shifting attention from meetings and tasks to read and respond to messages, these Infomaniacs saw a measurable drop in their IQ.

Wilson’s tests of the average work showed that functioning IQ fell ten points when dealing with these distractions. Subsequent papers claimed that this kind of drop in IQ is more than double that of having recently smoked marijuana, and similar to having missed an entire night’s sleep. The effects were more pronounced with men in the study than women. (This either anecdotally supports the theory that women are better at multitasking than men, or that women may just function better than men in general when they’re stoned or sleepy. Either way, it’s probably not the best way for a company to run.)

So texting and other interruptions to the business day may not be the productivity booster that application developers claim them to be. But one of the latest consumer texting applications has even less of a foot in the door. In early December, Fundamental Applications announce a texting application aimed at Millennials. Dubbed Serum, it’s a mobile chat application that lets users post questions and have text conversations with their friends anonymously.

Fundamental’s Director, Julian Ing, said that Serum’s audience can solicit and receive honest, truthful opinions by smartphone. Examples of how Serum works (in Ing’s opinion, not mine) includes polling friends about their actual opinion as to how a woman might look in a dress, or whether someone’s friends think her boyfriend is cheating. That’s a pretty sexist value proposition, and I’m not sure it’s very compelling. And let’s also acknowledge that this application is aimed at consumers.

On the other hand, the current trend among consumer-focused applications is to build valuation by reaching into business. Facebook and Twitter have been aggressively pursuing business users. Facebook in particular provides a collaborative environment in private groups to share documents and create conversations around multiple projects. Also, given that Serum is aimed at the Millennial market, which in 10 years will represent the majority of mobile workers, it’s not unreasonable to assume that in a few years, if successful, Serum will start to position itself as a way to crowdsource opinion in business. That’s failure waiting to happen, unless they radically change their value proposition.

Currently billed as an opportunity for your peers to give frank opinions without repercussion, Serum is the opposite of how crowdsourcing is valuable for business. Companies need to understand where opinions come from – maybe not on an individual level, but certainly at a line-of-business level. You need to know whether concerns are coming from a particular department, or from sales people selling a particular product.

It’s comical to even think of how your frank opinion might be taken, unless you’re misusing your right to that opinion. If infomania can make productivity drop through the floor, one more texting app constantly asking Millennials what they anonymously think of things is really going to leave a bruise on business.

It’s really the loosest form of a connected experience. What’s needed is more meaningful interactions – personal interactions, where information can be shared collaboratively and everyone’s opinion carries some weight. Whether done with in-person meetings or through video conferencing, that’s the right next step for business. It creates the connected experience proven to enhance, not detract from, real work.

Texting might be useful within small work groups between these more formal meetings, but it should never be seen as a substitute. And it should never add to the noise that hampers real productivity.

Bertrand Management Group is a company based in Ontario, that assists businesses in their management strategies.Follow this Twitter account for more related updates.

This Businessweek.com article explains why business coaching plays a critical role in an entrepreneur’s success:

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“Goals release faith”. Carl F. George, Nine Keys to Effective Small Group Leadership

Am writing this article just after the news that Uganda (the Cranes) has lost the return leg of our AFCON qualifiers game to Togo’s Sparrow Hawks at the Stade de Kegue in Lome. A second loss in less than a week. In four days to be precise. It means, we gave up SIX points. We, who at the start of the game, were topping the table of our group, find ourselves bottom. We had no goals. Togo, had the goals. Such losses, of necessity beg questions. What went wrong? Where is the problem? One issue that is sure to show up in the sports pages is about the coach.

Earlier in the week, thousands of miles away, Roger Federer had just won his ATP Final of the Shangai Rolex Masters (not to be confused with our Ugandan rolex). And it was not surprising, because Roger has been playing well. In fact, excellently. Just watching him this time around made me dig up an article a friend of mine once sent me. I must quote from it: “Roger Federer is 33, and even now, he makes tennis look easy. He doesn’t sweat much, even when it’s hot. He doesn’t struggle, even when he’s losing. Federer’s defeats can sometimes feel strangely meek, for the same reason that his victories can seem foreordained — because he seldom gives the impression that he’s fighting. A warrior-baseliner like Rafa Nadal, his great opposite in this respect, will sneer and roar and hack at the ball like the last defender of a city — anything to keep the match going. Federer might release an occasional “Come on!,” but for the most part he remains silent, poised, observant. He’s a watcher, a glider. He tiptoes very fast. He plays in the noiseless channels of the universe, and if the universe is against him, he doesn’t waste his time arguing about it. That’s not to say he surrenders, only that there’s something inward about his resistance. He makes winning and losing look almost the same — not like a test of strength; like something closer to a form of meditation.” Grantland.com

(By now I guess the editor has glanced back at this article more than once to be sure it’s the right article. We better move to things business

Coaching in Business.

Just like in sports, coaching in business plays a vital role in one’s success. According to Wikipedia, “Business coaching is a type of personal or human resource development. It provides positive support, feedback and advice to an individual or group basis to improve their personal effectiveness in the business setting. Business coaching includes executive coaching, corporate coaching and leadership coaching.”

Like for the seasoned sportsman (even a great one like Roger Federer), hiring a business coach to help further develop and hone your skills could greatly improve your chances of success whether as an executive, a business owner, or manager. You don’t have to be an owner or manager. You could also be a person simply looking for a new job, an employee or seeking to make career move.

Types of business coaching

Today you could get coaching for almost anything. It could range from the more specific areas of: career coaching, leadership coaching, executive coaching, start-up business coaching, interview coaching, management coaching to coaching aimed to improving your public speaking skills, work/life balance, team work, or coaching in Christian leadership. Now you can also get coaching on dating! Why am I even surprised? Our traditional Sengas offered that service for generations. Albeit freely.

Why you as a small business owner may need a business coach.

In continually interacting with many small business owners, I have learned that across the board, the challenges small business leaders face are anything but small. Where a sports coach will perhaps make you work harder and run more than you would on your own, a Business Coach does pretty much the same thing, just in a more civilized way – before you bay for my blood, I mean that they are more focused on helping you do business more successfully without as much physical effort. A good business coach should, by talking with you and listening to you, help you to develop short-term goals for your business. He or she should help you set mid-term goals and long term goals that will paint a beautiful picture of what your business will look like three years later and beyond. The end result being that you, the business person, are very motivated to work towards those goals and be successful. The goals and end results become a motivator. That’s because a good business coach will employ impartiality, acquired expertise and existing structures to help you explore your challenges and learn new ways or techniques to be successful in your business. And they will hold you accountable. Just like Federer’s coach (Roger has a new coach. His name is Stefan Edberg), your Business Coach will make you focus on the “game”.

Areas of focus

Different coaches specialize in different subjects, and business is quite diverse and, as such, it’s incumbent upon you the business owner to know what area of your business you need to be coached. It could be; Sales, Marketing, Branding, Finance, Management, Delivery or Leadership where one might be an expert in public speaking techniques, another might be more accomplished in strategy and management. Before you hire a business coach you should make sure that they have experience with the subject you wish to address.

The Inner Game.

My son enjoys playing tennis. Recently, one of his trainers advised me that he (my son) now needs a personal coach. And so I sought to understand from him what we had been doing over the last two years with the club to which he goes. The sweaty gentleman (is there such a thing?) explained to me that a trainer is far different from a coach. But this is UG. And you don’t just fall for stuff, right? Right. So I went about doing my homework. My journey led me to a little book published in 1974 called ‘The Inner Game of Tennis’ authored by a one Timothy Gallwey. The book is available as a free download on the internet. The author explains in that little book that “Every game is composed of two parts, an outer game and an inner game. The outer game is played against an external opponent to overcome external obstacles, and to reach an external goal”. He goes on to add that “It is the thesis of this book that neither mastery nor satisfaction can be found in the playing of any game without giving some attention to the relatively neglected skills of the inner game. This is the game that takes place in the mind of the player, and it is played against such obstacles as lapses in concentration, nervousness, self-doubt and self-condemnation. In short, it is played to overcome all habits of mind which inhibit excellence in performance.” Hmmnn…I was thinking again.

Falling back to the article I quoted from earlier, I read on: “There’s a tension in tennis, always, between the physical power of the athletes and the abstract beauty of the game. This is true in all sports, probably, but you feel it more in tennis than in, say, football, where the sheer amount of visual chaos on every play makes it harder to see pure geometries. In tennis, being thrilled by what the athletes can do — how fast they run, how deftly they manipulate the ball — is never quite the same thing as being thrilled by the shape of the point. The game is amazing as a spectacle of bodies and also as a spectacle of math. Of the many reasons why the Federer-Nadal rivalry has been riveting for so long, one is surely that they each seem to represent one side of this dichotomy. Nadal is all sinew and biceps. Federer is all elegant degrees. Of course Federer is also made of flesh and blood; he just moves so efficiently, goes so long between injuries, and (still) constructs such imaginative points that you’re surprised whenever he shows it.

My buy-in was complete. What’s your buy-in in looking for a business coach?

Bertrand Management Group in Ontario, California, is a management consulting firm that helps companies improve their business process. Follow this Twitter account for the latest news and updates in business management.

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Studies have suggested that most companies have the tendency to stay small. That is, only one percent of all companies established reach the $250 million annual mark in revenue sales; and only 0.036 percent will ever reach the $1 billion milestone. Given these alarming figures, most business owners can get discouraged to start a new business. However, many financial analysts agree that even small businesses can successfully transition to relatively well-off medium or large company. There are many techniques suggested to achieve such growth; but all recommend developing a comprehensive business strategy as the simplest and easiest way.

Financial analysts agree that a proper business strategy has to be detailed without being cumbersome to analyze and implement. In the effort to seem thorough, many companies make the mistake of overanalyzing the situation and including too many references in their proposal. Too much attention is paid to forecasts and potential risks that the research and goals arrive at an impasse.

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Analysts agree that one of the major reasons companies do not transition properly is lack of implementation. Companies succumbing to this pitfall usually have beautifully written proposals and strategies that are quickly for naught absent concrete development and application.

Business owners will find many helpful tips on the Internet on how to create a business strategy. These business advice columns vary but all agree that there comes a point where strategies have to leap out of the paper. There is a thin, but distinct, line that separates caution and timidity. This does not mean that creating a business plan or a strategy is ineffective; merely that business owners should know that any endeavor requires taking risks to put fruition into plans.

Aligning planning and application is the easiest way to guarantee business success, especially if both tasks are performed prudently.

Bertrand Management Group creates business solutions that help companies grow. For more information on the firm’s services and business recommendations, follow this Twitter account.

It’s always a challenge for employers to look for qualified candidates to fill in a new position or a recently vacated one. Here are some tips from Business 2 Community on how to successfully transition new employees into the company workforce.

It’s no secret finding the right candidate for a job is often anything but easy. Entry-level positions can be particularly difficult to fill, as applicants customarily have little (if any) related work experience to help your decision making. So when you find a quality person for an entry-level job, you want him or her to stick around for years to come.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, young employees between the ages of 20 and 34—the ages you typically see for entry-level applicants—will only spend an average of 2.3 years with an employer. Some sources indicate employees will decide in as little as 10 days if they intend to stay with an organization or begin looking for a different job! This means successfully onboarding entry-level employees can reduce turnover.

As an HR representative, the bulk of work associated with onboarding often falls on you. Now is the time to create a positive onboarding experience for entry-level employees. These tips will help you get started. 

1. Start the Process Before the New Hire’s First Day

For entry-level employees, few things are as full of promise and excitement as the first day at a career-starting job. First days are also typically full of questions, many of which can (and should!) be answered before a new hire arrives. That’s why you should begin the onboarding process before the new person starts work. Send an agenda of what you’ll be covering on the first day. Also send a list of FAQs so you can spend less time answering questions about paid time off and more time discussing job-specific responsibilities and expectations.

2. Explain Why The Employee Was Hired

New employees want to know why exactly you chose them over the other candidates. This information can be especially worthwhile to entry-level employees who are likely new to job search. “Don’t let new employees lose sight of what makes them different,” says Jeff Haden on Inc.com. “They have qualities and attributes other candidates didn’t. Explain what those qualities are and how they helped you make your hiring decision.”

3. Assign a Mentor or Buddy

Starting a new job can sometimes feel like starting at a new school: Current employees already know each other quite while, and they already have their groups of friends, which can cause a new employee to feel alienated. You can account for this by assigning a mentor or buddy to show the new person around, make introductions and begin training. This relationship should continue after onboarding into training and may continue much longer if the pair form a connection.

4. Automate Onboarding Documents

First days come with a lot of paperwork for the new employee to fill out and for you to process. Between company handbooks, insurance and benefits information, employee agreements and tax forms, it’s easy for a form to go astray. By automating onboarding documents, you can eliminate paper shuffling entirely. Onboarding by Hyrell allows you to organize the distribution and collection of all documents needed to process newly hired employees. As an added bonus, by distributing these forms electronically, entry-level employees will get a great first impression of your company’s tech savviness.

5. Ask the Employee for Feedback

It’s important to recognize that, no matter how efficient and effective you think your onboarding process is, there is always room for improvement. After training has ended and the entry-level employee has worked for the company for a period of time, get back in touch to ask for feedback on the onboarding process. Ask questions to determine if the process met the employee’s needs and how the employee would change the process to make it more enjoyable for future hires.

Working to create a positive onboarding experience for entry-level employees may reduce turnover and make your job less stressful. Use these tips to get started today!

 

The Bertrand Management Group is composed of industry professionals specializing in business coaching. Find out more about their work by liking this Facebook page.

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Abusive bosses are those who display hostile verbal and non-verbal behaviors toward their subordinates on a regular basis, excluding physical contact. “Bullying bosses” are omnipresent: an estimated 20 million Americans face abusive work situations almost every day.

Abusive bosses often humiliate their subordinates in public, ridicule, shout, or swear at them constantly, or make uncalled for and unfair remarks regarding their work performance. They often go to great lengths to prevent their subordinates’ success so as to not have to relinquish control. They even ensure that the targeted worker feels isolated from others, sometimes even encouraging other workers to become abusive toward the target.

Abusive supervisors can be found, not just in blue collar industries, but in academia and information technology as well, where workplace bullying is commonplace. Sometimes, abusive tactics by supervisors and managers are overlooked because they seem to be getting things done, but research has shown time and time again that the far-reaching effects of abusive supervision are overwhelmingly negative, both in the short term and in the long term.

The direct effects of abusive supervision on job performance on a worker include:

• increased job frustration

• increased co-worker abuse

• Decreased perception of organizational support.

Abusive supervision and other types of workplace bullying can also cause psychological harm. According to a WBI survey on the health impact of workplace bullying, 80 percent of those targeted by bullies experienced debilitating anxiety, 52 percent suffered panic attacks, 49 percent had clinical depression, and 30 percent developed post-traumatic stress disorder. And these often translate to absenteeism, work avoidance, lowered quality of work, and increased spending on health care to address psychological trauma.

An abusive boss can also have negative effects on the workplace as a whole: low employee morale, decreased productivity, and high turnover among others. A Gallup poll has found that the number one cause of employee turnover is a bad boss or an immediate supervisor.

Supervisors and managers who find themselves exhibiting some of the traits of abusive leaders should take a step back and consider whether their management styles are spurring company growth and motivating workers, or decreasing productivity and urging employees to leave.

Bertrand Management Group is an Ontario, California-based consulting firm that focuses on business development strategies. For articles on positive leadership, subscribe to this blog.