Monthly Archives: August 2016

How to Keeping Employees Happy

Want to retain your best employees? Your first thought may be to offer them a raise, but as it turns out, the old adage is right: Money doesn’t buy happiness.

“Bonuses, company perks and paid days off aren’t enough to keep employees happy,” said Pete Pedone, president and founder of home audio/video system design firm Interactive Home. “Showing an employee how much the company appreciates, respects and values them on a personal level is much more gratifying.”

Many studies have shown that employees with high job satisfaction are generally more productive, engaged and loyal to their companies. Hiring managers, HR experts and business leaders weighed in on the best ways to keep employees satisfied when salary isn’t the driving factor.

Be transparent
“Our employee engagement survey found that the No. 1 contributor to employee happiness is transparency. Money and promotions are important, but what people want to know is the truth about the state of the company. The cost of improving transparency is almost zero, but it requires an ongoing dialogue between management and staff.” – B.J. Shannon, manager of customer happiness at TINYpulse

Make work-life balance a priority
“To engage the workforce and remain competitive, it’s no longer sufficient to focus solely on benefits. Top employers create an environment where employees feel connected to the organization and have a positive work experience that’s part of a rich, fulfilling life. – David Ballard, assistant executive director for organizational excellence at the American Psychological Association

Encourage communication in common areas
“Businesses should take steps to create spaces where employees can easily communicate and share ideas. Casual conversations in the break room can become collaborative conversations. Make it inviting and effective, with nice furniture, tables, and snacks and beverages, if possible.” – Tom Heisroth, senior vice president at Staples Advantage

Create a career pathway
“[Our research] found that providing developmental support, such as training opportunities and career mentoring, to employees who do not believe there are attractive career opportunities for them within the company led to such employees leaving the organization. It’s critical for businesses to have regular career planning discussions with their employees. As part of training and development, make sure employees are aware of the different types of career paths or job opportunities throughout the company.” – Maria Kraimer, business professor at the University of Iowa

Recognize and reward employees
“Achievement and recognition are high motivators for employees. If they take risks, reward them. Give them a coupon to go out for dinner, an extra day off, tickets to a show, etc. The small stuff adds up.” – Charley Polachi, managing partner at Polachi Access Executive Search

Help employees be healthier
“We are seeing employers increasingly realize the importance that health and productivity programs can play in their efforts to control health care costs and maintain a productive workforce. While the outcomes of any one tactic can’t be guaranteed, high-effectiveness companies with thoughtful, multifaceted programs are reaping clear returns on their investments in workforce health.” – Wendy Poirier, health and group benefits leader at Towers Watson

Offer benefits beyond the basics
“There are many ways to supplement salary by assisting employees in other areas of their lives. You can offer an extra level of life insurance or disability insurance for employees to protect their incomes. Other ancillary benefits, such as dental, optical [and] wellness, are all well received by employees. And gym memberships and transit benefits are great perks to keep employees happy and healthy. It is important to [provide] higher benefits so your employees know that you truly care about them and their families.” – Bobby Hotaling, president and CEO of The Hotaling Group

Cut back on emails and meetings
“Many employees feel that a flooded inbox and a constant string of meetings waste time and hinder productivity. Replace some of those emails and meetings with technology that helps them save time and collaborate more efficiently.” – Sydney Sloan, director of customer and social marketing at Jive

Make employees part of the big picture
“The best benefit you can provide to your employees is the opportunity to make a difference through their work and help guide the course of the company. Benefits such as clear and frequent communication on company happenings, individual and department direction, and big-picture company direction make all the difference in employee happiness.” – Anthony Smith, CEO and founder of Insightly

Keep in touch
“A one-on-one conversation with an employee or group dinner goes a long way. Whether it be a private conversation at the start of the day, taking them out to lunch or even a beer after work, [it] helps keep that bond. Once you stop ‘showing the love,’ you begin to lose employees. A small company has to go the extra step.” – Pete Pedone

Ask employees for their input
“Companies should consider surveying their own workforce to gauge their satisfaction levels. Insights from employees themselves can point employers in the right direction for shaping a more a positive and creative work environment, and for developing more formal career development programs. By partnering with employees to improve their satisfaction levels, employers will reap business benefits today and tomorrow.” – Sandy Mazur, president of Spherion

Tops 6 Proven Ways to Negotiate a Higher Salary

ahJob seekers spend so much time fine-tuning résumés and preparing for interviews that they are often unprepared for the salary proposal that accompanies a job offer. The company has made a significant investment in filling that vacancy and may be willing to come to more attractive terms, but many candidates fail to realize that employers are open to salary negotiation.

A 2013 study by The Creative Group revealed that professionals who accept an initial job offer may be leaving money on the table. More than 60 percent of the executives surveyed are at least somewhat willing to negotiate compensation when extending a job offer to a top candidate.

“Job seekers often have more leverage than they realize when negotiating a starting salary,” Donna Farrugia, then-executive director of The Creative Group and now CEO of Nelson Cos., said in a statement. “Businesses that have gone through the process of selecting a top candidate are motivated to hire that person, even if they have to sweeten the deal.”
Because salary conversations are delicate and can easily go off track, Farrugia said job candidates who are thoroughly prepared for negotiations are the ones who have the most success. The key to a good, mutually respectful negotiation is informed and honest communication. Here are six tips to help you get the salary you deserve. [7 Salary Negotiation Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)]

1. Prepare for your negotiation
Research a reasonable salary for the position considering your education and experience. Do not base your counteroffer solely on the wage you would like to make. By approaching the negotiation with appropriate information and a reasonable expectation, you will make a better impression on the employer as well as position yourself reasonably from the start. In an article on The Ladders, career expert Amanda Augustine suggested looking up how your current role compares to the market rate, and then changing some of the variables to match those of the companies you’re applying to.

“If the roles you are targeting are in different industries or locations, or the size of the company is very different, this could have an impact on what salary you can expect to make,” Augustine wrote.

2. Keep personal issues out of it
Do not use your mortgage payment or other bills as a reason you should be paid more. Employers may be sympathetic, but that is not a reason to provide more compensation. Instead, focus on the increased value you bring to the organization. Stress your unique qualities, experience, education or some other feature to demonstrate benefit to the company’s goals, vision or purpose.

3. Be honest
Honesty is always the best policy. If asked what your previous salary was, don’t lie about it. While you may fear that it will weaken your position, it instead provides a strong foundation for your future working relationship. A reference check will reveal a lie, which could result in the offer being withdrawn altogether.

4. Remember that compensation is more than money
Salary offers include benefits such as vacation time, sick days and other work-life-balance options like a flexible schedule or telecommuting. Those items may also be negotiated. Depending on their importance to you, maybe an extra week of vacation is worth a little less in pay throughout the year. Consider the offer as a whole, and be open to negotiating aspects other than money.

5. Be willing to compromise
How you conduct yourself during a negotiation is as important as what you say. Be kind but firm, confident yet compromising. Your tone and demeanor will keep the conversation going or shut it down completely. Delivering ultimatums seldom works, and if it does, it can result in a negative atmosphere for future interactions.

6. Don’t lowball yourself
Many employers will ask you for a salary range on your application, during your interview or when they first contact you with a job offer. Whatever your very bottom number is, make sure the lowest number in your salary range is still above that (but within a reasonable range based on your research). If you go in with your minimum acceptable offer, the final number may be dangerously close to that.

Tips to Make A Sample Cover Letters for Job Seekers

Your resume may be the first thing hiring managers look at when you apply for a job, but many candidates tend to forget about another important part of the application process: the cover letter.

Matthew Rowles, business development manager at staffing firm Kavaliro, noted that employers don’t always read cover letters due to the massive volume of applications received for each job opening. However, some will use it as the next step in candidate screening after reading resumes.

“People [who read cover letters] do it after the fact,” added Jeff Oddo, president of building maintenance management company City Wide Maintenance. “They look at your skills first on your resume, and then read the cover letter [to decide] if they want to bring you in for an interview.”

Oddo, who is involved in the hiring process for his company, noted that cover letters tend to be ignored when they’re generic and template-style. Rowles agreed, noting that each new application should come with a new, unique cover letter outlining why you are qualified and the best fit for that specific position. [See Related Story: 4 Simple Reasons You’re Not Getting Hired]

“Do not simply send the same generic cover letter for every position,” Rowles told Business News Daily. “Recruiters and HR managers will recognize those cover letters and skip right over them. If you want your cover letter to be read, make it uniquely suited for that particular role.”

In addition to using your cover letter to expand on your key qualifications, you can also address unique topics, such as employment gaps on your resume, a willingness to relocation or the desire for a career change, said Crystal Wittman, head of global recruitment center at talent acquisition and management firm Alexander Mann Solutions.

“If there’s a need to relocate, use the cover letter as an opportunity to point out that you’re open to relocation, especially if you already have a connection to the area through family or school,” Wittman said. “This will help alleviate any apprehensions that a hiring manager has about hiring someone who is new to the area. If you’re changing careers or industries, relate examples of your experience that will help you prepare [for the change] and are relevant to the new job.”

Wittman also advised including information about any internal connections or referrals from current employees at the company early on in the letter. Do this by including the person’s name and department. For example, you could write, “A former colleague of mine, (name), is a director in your marketing department. She alerted me to a new role in your sales organization for which my skills and experience would be very well-suited,” Wittman said.

Finally, before you submit your cover letter, be sure to check it over for spelling and grammatical errors and take the time to convert the document to PDF format, which makes it easier for the hiring manager to access and forward your letter.

“We like PDFs,” Oddo said. “Often, I am mobile when I’m reading these applications, and sometimes phones don’t open documents the same way a tablet or computer would.”

Cover letter examples
Based on these tips, here are two sample cover letters that you can customize to suit your particular needs and situation. Before you apply for any job, be sure to thoroughly read the job listing, as they may ask you to address specific things in your cover letter.

Traditional cover letter
Here is an example of a traditional cover letter that outlines your skills and qualifications. This type of letter does best for highly professional occupations that value straightforward, to-the-point information.

Dear [hiring manager’s name],

I spotted your LinkedIn posting about the assistant editor opening at Business News Daily, and I am thrilled to submit my application for the position. During my career in the media industry, I have gained a great deal of editorial experience that would make me a strong asset to your team.

During my time at New York University, I held several internships and freelance writing jobs that introduced me to the world of modern journalism. After graduation, I landed a managing editor position at [publication name] that helped me develop and hone the leadership, organization and strategic planning skills that will help me succeed as your assistant editor. With the assistance of the interns and freelancers I supervise, I have raised the monthly web traffic of [publication] by more than 50 percent and nearly tripled its overall social media following.

In addition to having the necessary background for this position, I also feel that working for Business News Daily would be an excellent next step in my career. I have been following your articles on social media, and I think your publication adds a unique and valuable perspective on entrepreneurship, small business issues and careers. As a millennial myself, I especially enjoy the pieces you’ve published on Generation Y in the workforce.

I would love the opportunity to be a part of Business News Daily’s impressive continued growth. If you feel my qualifications are a good match, I’d be happy to meet with you and further discuss what I can do for your company. Please feel free to contact me at any time by email at [email address] or by phone at [phone number] to schedule a time.

Thank you for your consideration, and I hope to hear from you soon.

Best regards,

Nicole Taylor

Narrative cover letter
Like the traditional letter, a narrative-style cover letter still touches on your skills and qualifications, but frames it in a more personal, engaging way. This type of cover letter does best for creative positions that are looking for an applicant’s personality and style.

Dear [hiring manager’s name],

When I was in preschool, my teacher asked the class to draw a picture of what we wanted to be when we grew up. While my classmates gave typical little kid answers like “cowboy” and “firefighter,” I proudly proclaimed that I wanted to be an author. While my younger self never realized her dream of being a best-selling novelist, I have managed to turn my love of writing into a career.

Right now, I’m working as the managing editor of [publication], where I create the majority of the site’s content, as well as assign and edit articles to our company’s shared editorial interns and freelancers. I love the work, but I feel it’s time to make the next move in my career and take my talents to a publication where there’s room for me to grow. After reading the job description for Business News Daily’s assistant editor position, I am confident that it would be a perfect next step for me.

I’ve been following BND for a while now, and I love the refreshing approach you take to entrepreneurship, leadership and workplace topics. I can tell that your staff are truly passionate about their work, and genuinely want to help people from all walks of life start a business or advance their career. I’m hoping to start my own business someday, and would love the opportunity to get a hands-on education by learning about and sharing the experiences of real-life successful entrepreneurs.

It seems that Business News Daily is headed for great things, and between my professional editorial experience and my passion for journalism, I believe I could help your team achieve their growth goals. If you’d like to learn more about what I can do for you, please feel free to contact me at any time via email at [email address] or phone at [phone number].

Thank you for your consideration, and I hope to hear from you soon.

Best regards,

Nicole Taylor