How to Take Advantage of All Your Workplace Benefits

These days, employers have to either offer benefits or exceptional wages if they are to be considered a competitive employer. Most places opt to offer benefits, which most employees seem to be pretty happy with. Unfortunately, too many employees don’t take advantage of workplace benefits to the extent they could. 

Retirement Benefits

Everyone wants to retire at some point, preferably sooner rather than later. Have you given much thought to how you’ll fund your retirement though? Some employers offer retirement benefits. There may be more to your employer’s offer than just setting up an account and making it easy to make contributions though. Some will match your contributions, at least up to a certain point, which means you’re essentially getting free money.

Source: https://www.blueleaf.com/articles/funding-retirement/

Disability Benefits

Disability benefits are benefits no one hopes to need to take advantage of, but should the need arise then they are incredibly important to take advantage of. Unless your company is in Texas, they’re required to provide workers’ compensation benefits. Offering long-term or short-term disability insurance is another option that some companies may offer. Companies out of California, Rhode Island, Hawaii, New Jersey, and New York must offer short-term disability, but otherwise it’s an optional benefit that is worth looking into, depending on the level of risk there is that you might need to take advantage of.

Source: https://barnesdisability.com/workers-comp.php

Employee Assistance Programs

Life is hard. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying, selling something, or is just living life through the thickest rose-colored glasses known to man (or has insane amounts of privilege that let them just float on through). Some employers recognize this and offer employee assistance programs. These programs are meant to help employees get through challenging points of their life. It’s a win-win for everyone, really. When employees are able to properly and effectively handle life’s challenges, they are able to bring their best selves to work. They tend to be more productive, which benefits the employer. They also tend to be happier, which benefits them and anyone they live with.

Source: https://www.workplacestrategiesformentalhealth.com/resources/what-is-an-employee-assistance-program-eap

It’s becoming more common for the benefits an employer offers to have a real place in the weighing of options when it comes to selecting a job. Given all the thought that is put towards them, it only makes sense to take advantage of the benefits and programs that are offered. Take some time to make sure you understand what your employer offers in regards to benefits so you can make the most of the opportunities they provide.

Read this next: How to Advocate for Yourself as an Employee

How to Advocate for Yourself as an Employee

In the workplace, your best friend and greatest advocate is yourself. You are the one that will make sure your hard work and effort pays off and puts you in the career path you desire. Advocate for yourself as an employee by knowing your worth, understanding your legal rights, and set a timeline for personal goals. 

Know Your Worth 

To a certain extent every employee is replaceable. However, not every individual can be replaced. As an employee you are also an individual that has unique talents and skills to offer your organization. Figure out how your skills and personality can help your business achieve their goals. Know that you deserve to be compensated fairly based on your unique skill set and what you have to offer the company. Making the company a priority in your life should be recognized and supported with a fair returning salary. 

Understand Your Legal Rights 

Every employee is entitled to workplace protection of some kind. Employers are responsible for keeping facilities clean, safe, and free of potential safety hazards. You also have a right to be free from discrimination and harassment of all types. If you find your license or work standing is in jeopardy through unfair means, contact an attorney. An attorney can help you restore your license if it unfairly comes under threat. You have a right to feel safe in your work environment and that applies to physical, mental, and social safety. If at any time you find these rights violated, contact your attorney. 

Set a Timeline 

Everyone knows that without deadlines it is easy to procrastinate and avoid getting a project done. When you are setting goals for your personal development at work, it is vital you set a timeline for those goals. This timeline will help you keep on track with promotions and progress. It will also help you be honest with yourself and your employer if you need to move on and find something better for you. Setting a timeline and sticking to it will help your boss know your objectives and you achieve them more easily. 

You are a vital part of your organization’s success. Feel free to stand up for yourself and ask for improvements that will make your experience better, your boss wants to know and wants to help. Advocate for yourself as an employee by knowing your worth, understanding your legal rights, and setting a timeline to accomplish goals.

Read this next: Why You Shouldn’t Wait to Start Your Business

Customer Obsessed: How to Tailor Your Marketing to Meet Demands

Markets are created by business but sustained by consumers. As a business owner, your success relies heavily on your effective efforts to connect with those consumers and then shape your business plan around their expectations of customer experience. Here are a few ways you can effectively market to the customer population in order to meet (or exceed!) those expectations.

Be Responsive

Social media is the perfect tool for publishing and gathering information on your products or services. Through posts, you expose your brand and purpose and the unique elements of your business to interested customers. Through the comments on your posts, you collect valuable questions, comments, and concerns that will help you adapt and evolve your business, working out any issues or altering your sales strategies. Chat with your commenters! Validate what they are worried about or confused by. Answer any questions as thoroughly and patiently as possible. Thank them for their time and investment in your business and let them know that their input is appreciated. This demonstrates your willingness to work with customers and your dedication to improvement.

Ask for Feedback

Request feedback from all of your customers. Understanding what you are doing well and what you should work on will help you prioritize your goals. Consider creating a team of marketing specialists who are focused on gathering the commentary of your consumers. Even if you don’t have much budget, you can still form an online insight community to help increase the quality of your feedback. Train your employees to answer and ask questions well. Find out where your consumers go for information, what kinds of changes they like, and how your business plays into their wants or needs. You might also consider incentivizing feedback from consumers with special discounts, inside scoops or offers, or points towards a loyalty rewards program.

Follow Social Trends

Keep up with the social trends driving the consumer population in their purchase decisions. Look at the most popular products, innovations, variety, and more that are available within your specific market. Find platforms to support that will pull in the attention and respect of your target audience. Once you have identified the things society is passionate about, you can then tailor your messages to show consumers how your business connects them to those passions in a unique way.

Everything you do should be focused on the customer: their experience, their expectations, and their desires. Be obsessed with these things, and with the customers themselves! Your dedication to their success will reflect directly on your own success.

Read this next: Little Touches that Build Trust in Your Company

Little Touches that Build Trust in Your Company

The best way to foster loyalty in the customers that keep your business running is to provide opportunities to build trust. Recognizing their value, acknowledging their input, being transparent with your transactions, and providing great customer service will demonstrate your dedication to your customers and their positive experience with your business.

Respond to Reviews

Whether your reviews are glowing or less than ideal, responding to reviews shows the customer that you are paying attention to them and genuinely value their feedback. 

  • For positive reviews: Thank them for taking the time to highlight your business, compliment them back (for example, expressing gratitude for great customers and clients that make your job easy), and invite them back for more! 
  • For negative reviews: Thank them for taking the time to express their concern and point out an area of potential improvement, assure them of your determination to improve, and invite them to return for a more productive experience in the future. 

Take advantage of this chance to interact with your consumers and show that your focus is on them.

Source: https://classpass.com/afterclass/why-responding-to-positive-reviews-is-worth-your-time/ 

Be Clear About Payments

Transparency solves a lot of problems when customers feel there has been miscommunication. Often, you and your customer will be able to see exactly where the misinterpretation happened through the data on the invoice, and that realization may solve problems before they even start. Furthermore, clearly outlining what they are being billed for can help your clients feel more comfortable. So many businesses throw in hidden fees and surprise charges that frustrate and confuse the client upon payment—be a business that your clients know will be straightforward and fair with your promised pricing.

Source: https://www.podium.com/article/how-to-write-an-invoice/ 

Positive Customer Service

Customer service representatives are the first people that your customers interact with when they have questions, comments or concerns. They bear your brand, establish the reputation, and are the first thing your customers will associate with your name. Positive customer service experiences lead to positive associations with your business. Make sure that these essential representatives are friendly, kind, communicate well, and are excellent problem solvers. As they help your clients solve problems they are demonstrating a dedication to success that clients will not only be impressed by, but will feel that they can rely on for future business.

Source: https://www.g2.com/articles/customer-service-skills 

Keep your customers coming back to you again and again. Invite their trust through interaction, transparency and cooperation, and you will develop a loyal clientele that you can trust to support your business.

Read this next: How to Be Smarter About Your Approach to Lead Generation

How to Be Smarter About Your Approach to Lead Generation

Generating leads is an important part of any business, but if you aren’t doing it right, it can waste your time and resources. Learning ways to generate leads that are more likely to result in sales is essential to growing your business. Working smarter in your lead generation will help you to be more efficient and generate leads that benefit your company in the long run.

Determine Who Your Audience Is

One of the most wasteful ways to go about lead generation is to cast a huge net without paying attention to your specific audience. By finding your audience you can target your advertising more effectively and generate leads that are interested in your products and services. When you define your target audience you can save yourself the time and energy of placing ads that are unlikely to be successful and instead focus on the most likely group to use your products and services.

Create a Sales Funnel

When you are trying to get more solid leads, your main goal is to start creating a sales funnel. Getting your customers to make a purchase is the whole point of creating a sales funnel. Through a sales funnel, you can guide customers through the process of discovering your company until an eventual purchase. Making your website easy to use and targeting the right audience upfront will all help you to make a sales funnel that makes sense and works for your purposes.

Focus on User Experience

When a website is hard to use or confusing to customers, it won’t help you to convert your leads into customers. When instead you make sure to have a clear user experience that is easy to follow and makes sense to customers, you will have more success with your lead generation. Customers appreciate a website that is made with them in mind and focuses on making the purchasing process simple and straightforward. In many cases, a poorly designed website will be enough to discourage your leads from using your site to purchase anything at all.

 No matter what kind of business you run, generating leads is an important part of the process. The more effectively you generate strong leads, the more purchases you will have and the better it will be for your business. Make lead generation a major priority so you can improve your business and get more out of the time you spend seeking out potential leads.

Ready to take your business to the next level? Check out these free resources!

Why You Shouldn’t Wait to Start Your Business

If you, like many other creative and hard-working people, have been putting off starting a business, it’s not hard to see why. There was, after all, a global pandemic! But, as the pandemic wanes and Americans are anxious to enjoy being out in society again, you have to face the root of the question: what are you waiting for? Here’s why you shouldn’t wait to start your business.

Make Your Dreams a Reality

Dreams are nice and fluffy, but it takes more than just dreams to make a successful business. To turn a dream into a goal, you need several steps. One of which is that you need to formulate a plan, where your goal can flourish until it becomes a reality. A dream cannot be a goal unless the work is put in, consistently, to practice the skills needed to get to success.

You Have to Start Somewhere

Let’s be frank: it would be fun and games if you could skip over the next bit, and achieve instant success and glory in the marketplace! But, instead, you have to begin at the beginning, just like most others (barring those born as millionaires already). You have to start someplace, and that can be scary because you don’t want to start in the wrong place. However, starting is the most critical step. If you wait until you know you can begin perfectly, you never will. Statistically, 27 percent of small businesses don’t have a fully developed business plan. Begin where you are, and build as you go.

You know How to Ask

One of the things great leaders often do not understand is that the best leaders know how to ask for help when they need it. Whether it’s a listening ear, a mentor in the marketplace, or figuring out the special talents your team has, being able to ask for help is a critical part of successful, healthy leadership. You want to continually be asking the hard questions of yourself and others to be leading a healthy, successful, motivated team. When a leader stops learning, they stop growing, and their business does, too.

Being able to have a successful business is not just for other individuals. This is doable! Keep making dreams into goals and goals into plans. Follow your plan and watch your dream become your own!

Starting a business soon? Check out our free resources!

How to Navigate Benefits at Your First Job Out of College

Starting your first job out of college is exciting—a major stepping stone into adulthood. For a first-timer, the benefits that come from your new company can be confusing. You can navigate all of the benefits offered at your new job by understanding 401(k)s, choosing the right health insurance, and capitalizing on travel rewards.

All About 401(k)s

If your employer offers a 401(k) plan, you can choose to contribute a portion of each paycheck to your plan. According to the NARPP, the benefits of investing in a 401(k) include creating retirement savings that you can deduct from your taxes. However, when you take money out of your 401(k), you are taxed the current income tax. There are penalties for withdrawing from your plan before 72, so keep in mind you must hit the sweet spot to maximize your benefits. Investing early in your 401(k) will start a snowball effect on the road to wealth and establish a comfortable lifestyle when you retire.

Choosing Health Insurance

When starting, it is important to ask what, if any, insurance plans they offer. According to Insurance Center Associates, after 26 you’ll no longer be eligible to stay on your parents’ insurance. Hence why it is important to start exploring options early on.

Insurance plans include indemnity of fee-for-service (POS) plans where the insurance company pays for a set portion of your medical bills and you pay the rest. Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) is an association of healthcare professionals and medical facilities that have a fixed health care service package. Preferred provider organizations (PPOs) allow you to go to any healthcare professional outside of your network when necessary, although your benefits will be less.

Travel Rewards

If your job currently requires or will require traveling in the future, it is a good idea to get a credit card that will help you redeem points on your travel purchases. According to Money Crashers, signing up for frequent flyer miles will also help you stockpile rewards for seating upgrades and potentially free flights in the future that you can use to go on vacation. While most travel expenses are reimbursed, it helps to take advantage of the money you do spend to reward yourself in the future.

Your first introduction to the professional work environment is crucial for your career success. Maximizing the benefits offered is crucial for your financial success. Understand 401(k)s, choose health insurance, and capitalize travel rewards to gain the most from your first job.

Read this next: Industries That Are Ideal if You Favor Stability

Industries That Are Ideal if You Favor Stability

Entering into the right job force is crucial if you want a reliable plan for the future. Stable jobs are particularly needed if you want to provide for someone other than yourself. While many jobs could last a while and pay well, there are three industries that you can turn to for reliable help throughout the years.

Healthcare

As long as there are people who need medical attention, there will also be a demand for healthcare jobs and services. Anywhere and everywhere, you live will need doctors, nurses, dentists, and so on. The healthcare industry provides a wide range of occupations to choose from. The common interest between all these jobs is the welfare of the people. Healthcare is a good job for anyone who enjoys helping others and is good at practicing patience. You get the satisfaction every day knowing that you made someone’s life better. There is also plenty of room for promotion in the industry, allowing you to grow as your time in the field continues.

Source: https://getreferralmd.com/2016/07/5-unique-benefits-of-working-in-healthcare/ 

Insurance Sales

Another job industry that is always in high demand is insurance. People want to be able to protect their assets, pay for healthcare, and cover vehicle damage and mishaps. To some degree, the amount of money you make is based on your own ability to sell insurance and work with clients.  Similar to healthcare, insurance sales offer different options depending on what you specifically enjoy more. Life insurance jobs are some of the easiest to find. You can work with a particular company, or you can help people find the best plan from different insurance lenders.

Source: https://www.podium.com/article/life-insurance-leads/ 

Real Estate

While Real Estate may seem like a business with many risks, it is a stable career. The reason why it often seems unreliable is that people think that real estate only applies to selling homes, which can be difficult depending on the economy. However, real estate can also include home rentals and flipping homes that sell for cheap prices. You can set your own hours for the most part and your work can be independently done. People will always be looking for a new home or office when the economy is good and can boost sales.

Source: https://www.realestateexpress.com/career-hub/become-a-real-estate-agent/the-pros-and-cons-of-becoming-a-real-estate-agent/ 

In an ever-changing world, stability is difficult to come by. However, there are still a few things you can control, your job being one of them. As you choose a stable line of work, you will see the comfort that comes from knowing that your job is valued and needed.

Read this next: How to Get Customers to See Your Brand in a Positive Light

Professions That Demand You Keep Up with Constant Changes

Most healthy industries change dramatically over time. Some professions, however, are finding new ways to radically change the way your job is done. Because the changes can be so consistent, you have to be aware of potential shifts so you don’t get left behind. The things you learn may not be obsolete, just applied differently.

Medicine

The medical field has developed dramatically over the past 100 years. Not only do doctors and nurses have more advanced technology at their disposal to help with surgeries and other procedures, but there are more training tools than ever before. Additionally, medicine regulations and recommendations change consistently as new tests are performed.

Some of the most notable changes in medicine have occurred through the use of AR technology. Students of health can now harmlessly practice surgeries. COVID-19 has also shifted the research dynamic to learn how the disease affects people long-term. Some professionals have devoted their time to build vaccine trust in various communities.

The Law

Laws in your area, whether that be locally, nationally, or somewhere in between, are always subject to change. You need to take some of these changes into account when developing plans for your own cases. Because so much of the law is based on precedent, a shift in precedent can cause you to reanalyze current policies and future cases.

Keep up with major cases in your area. There are a number of good legal podcasts that can help you stay up to date with new changes. You can also develop better critical thinking skills as you attempt to apply legal principles to your case.

Computer Software

If your job is based on using a computer, chances are you will face many different forms of change. Computer software faces numerous updates to make your work life easier and more flexible. However, the amount of change you may face can seem daunting, and the programs you have learned from may be obsolete if you aren’t careful.

You need to embrace these forms of change. If you don’t, it can be quite easy for a potential employer to abandon your current skill set. Always adapt to new software—it keeps you useful to your employer.

Change is never easy. People like predictability and schedule. However, this is just not possible in the current world. Digital progression isn’t going to wait for people who are clinging to past programs and procedures. Don’t get stuck in the past!

Read this next: How to Make a Career Change to a Completely Different Industry

How to Make a Career Change to a Completely Different Industry

You may have found that the industry in which you work isn’t all you wanted it to be. While it may feel challenging (or even impossible) to change course once you are in a career, it is possible to enter a new industry successfully. Networking, educational qualification, and establishing your value in this new field will make the transition feel less like moving a mountain.

Start Networking in the Industry

Networking is the best opportunity builder. Communicate with people you know who have any connection with or relation to the industry you are interested in entering. This serves a couple purposes: first, it allows you to research niches that you may feel most successful in as you learn about organizations and the requirements of different jobs. Second, it inserts your name into circulation with people you may want to work with in the future, familiarizing your name with the people within the industry and thereby making your entrance less intimidating.

Get Educational Qualifications

Make sure you are capable of fulfilling the requirements of the career you intend on switching to! Educational qualification will help potential employers feel confident in your work. Because school can be difficult to manage while in the middle of a full-time job, you should consider taking online courses, as this will give you more flexibility. There are many options of courses and certification programs that can help you feel more “in the know” in your new industry, even allowing you to specialize in specific areas that will give you an edge in the crowd of employees.

Establish Your “Crossover”

Utilize your past experience! Likely whatever you want to switch to will have something in common with what you have been doing. Make that a selling point in your self-marketing to employers. You already have a specialized area of expertise in your “old” field—create a narrative or pitch promoting that knowledge as a special skill you have to offer, a new perspective that can benefit this industry in ways it did not have available before. Not only does this make you stand out, it will increase your own confidence that you can work well, and you have been successful before. Rather than starting from scratch, build off of what you have and what you know, and you will hit the ground running.

Entering a new industry is not an impossible task! Get to know people, get to know the industry, and let the industry use your perspective to its benefit. You will find the transition is not as intimidating as it seems.

Read this next: Jobs That Let You Choose Your Own Hours