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 Get Customers to See Your Brand in a Positive Light

Your reputation as a business can vault you towards success or pull you under until you can’t keep your doors open any longer. It’s important to make sure your reputation is a positive one. The good news is that there are things you can do to help customers see your brand in a positive light.

Promote Reviews and Testimonials

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me. You’ve heard it before. If only it were true for your business. The fact is that words can help or hurt your business. Most people read reviews before choosing a business, and 76 percent of them trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Make reviews and testimonials work for you by using them to help consumers see your brand in a positive light. Post positive reviews and testimonials on your website and social media pages to help give your reputation a boost.

Use Content Marketing

Your marketing can have a huge impact on how customers perceive your brand. Content marketing, specifically, can be a valuable tool in influencing customer perceptions. By carefully crafting content to share through various channels, you create the opportunity to showcase your brand and your products, letting everyone know what you’re all about. Written content is pretty common, but video content is gaining a lot of traction. More than 50 percent of customers prefer video to other kinds of content. You can use video content to entertain, inform, and engage, making it an avenue well worth your consideration.

Be Transparent

The days of customers being satisfied by simply getting the goods or services they need from a business are over. Customers today have increasing expectations for businesses in terms of their purpose, their methods, and their commitment to social responsibility. That means that you as a business need to be more transparent. Transparency helps build consumer trust in a business as it proves it has nothing to hide and that everything is as it should be. Of course, the nature of life is that things don’t always go as they should. Part of being transparent as a business is acknowledging when things go wrong and letting customers know what is being done to address the situation.

Promoting a positive brand image is important for your business. You can help by promoting reviews and testimonials, using content marketing, and being transparent about your business. That will help you develop a good reputation for your brand and enable customers to see you in a positive light.

Read this next: 3 Essential Things You Need to Expand Your Business

How to Market Your Business at Low Cost

Most business owners know that marketing is important, but if you are new to the business or low on funds, finding affordable ways to market can be a huge struggle. Luckily, there are many things you can do to help bring attention and customers to your business without blowing your budget. Here are a few things you can do to get started affordably marketing your business.

List Your Business

No business can succeed without being findable to its customers. Listing your business with Google My Business, Yelp, and in other places can help you to reach a wider audience and to appear more regularly in searches. Most people find businesses through online searches, and they are often looking for businesses near their current location. Listing your business makes that information easily available so that potential customers can find you on the go. Taking the simple step to list your business will save you a lot of time effort and a big chunk of your budget that you may have otherwise needed to spend on marketing.

Source: https://www.innovationvisual.com/knowledge/why-is-google-my-business-important-for-your-business  

Organic Marketing

If you are looking to grow your business without a lot of spending, organic marketing might be the way to go. Through this method, you don’t spend money on marketing but instead, do things that will bring customers your way over time. One great approach to organic marketing is using social media to find potential customers and simply building a platform. About 72 percent of Americans are active on social media. That means by simply being on social media for your business, you can get tons of eyes on your company and bring in the people you need on your side

Source: https://www.podium.com/article/credit-union-social-media-spending/  

Build a Newsletter

A newsletter is a way to target customers that can be modified to fit your budget. If you have extra time, you can put together a monthly email newsletter that looks great without needing to dip too far into your budget. Make sure to highlight things like discounts, sales, and events in your newsletter so you can incentivize a return to your business. The more you do to make your newsletter interesting and appealing to your readers, the more effective it can be at helping them to frequent your business.

Source: https://www.openglobal.co.uk/articles/182-6-essential-tips-for-writing-the-perfect-newsletter.html  

It’s important to market your business, but you don’t want to spend money you don’t have. Marketing on a budget can be an exciting challenge that gives you the chance to stretch yourself and grow your business. 

Read this next: Industries That Benefit from a Booming Economy

Jobs That Let You Choose Your Own Hours

Let’s face it—the normal 9-5 work schedule doesn’t always work so well these days, especially if you’re working from home. Between the difficulties faced by remote workers and the number of layoffs and furloughs, sometimes finding a new job just makes more sense. If you need more flexibility and control over the hours you work, you may be better off finding a job that lets you choose them.

Freelance Writer and Editor

Was English your favorite subject? Do you have an eye for grammar and syntax? If so, you may find that working as a freelance writer and editor is a good use of your skills. Some of the things you could find yourself writing or editing include blog posts or web copy. As a freelance worker, you set your own hours and can negotiate your own pay. If you’re writing, you can choose to get paid by the number of words you write or the number of finished pieces you produce. As an editor, you’ll most likely get paid for each project you complete.

Real Estate Agent

Maybe the housing market is booming where you live. In that case, you may find becoming a real estate agent to be an enticing prospect. As a real estate agent, you have more control over when you work, especially if you are working for yourself. You might be surprised by how much goes into becoming a real estate agent. One of the first things you’ll need to do is get licensed. To get your real estate license, you need to understand your state’s requirements. After you have your license, you’ll need to decide what sort of real estate you want to work in, as well as whether you want to represent sellers or buyers.

Ridesharing or Delivery Driver

If you love to drive and wish you could make money doing it, the good news is that you can. You can get paid to take people where they need to go as a rideshare driver, or you can bring food and goods to people as a delivery driver. If you work for companies like Lyft, Uber, DoorDash, or GrubHub, you can decide when you want to work and what jobs you want to take. It doesn’t get much more flexible than that. Whatever you choose, make sure your insurance will cover you if you drive for work. You may have to start carrying additional insurance, depending on your policy.

There are a lot of jobs that let you choose your own hours. Working as a freelance writer and editor, a real estate agent, or as a ridesharing or delivery driver are just some of the options out there. The job that works best for you will depend on your specific situation and needs, so keep them in mind when choosing a new job.

Read this next: 3 Valuable Skills to Work from Home and Make Money Online

Industries That Benefit from a Booming Economy

By this point, it’s more than obvious that the economy has taken a hefty beating. The recession brought on by the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent shutdowns left the country reeling and many of its citizens without jobs. That said, the one guarantee, as always, is that everything changes. Sooner or later (hopefully sooner) we should see an economic upswing. That could mean that this is a good time to start looking for a job in industries that do well during a booming economy.

Retail

In 2018, over 10 million people had various jobs in the retail industry ranging from entry-level salespersons and cashiers to those management positions. With such a wide variety of positions, there are endless opportunities to work in retail. You don’t have to have a formal education to break in, though it certainly helps if you’re gunning for a supervisor or management position. The retail industry got hit pretty hard by the most recent recession, but as the economy recovers, you can expect people to return to something that more closely approximates their previously normal spending habits. Given the vast range of businesses that fall under the umbrella of the retail industry, your chances of finding a job that aligns with your interests are high.

Real Estate

Real estate careers are seen by many as an ideal way to become financially stable. Everyone needs somewhere to live, so real estate professionals will always be in demand. Of course, there is more demand when people feel more secure in their ability to find and retain a job, which is one characteristic of a booming economy. To land a career in real estate, you’ll need to become licensed in your state. You’ll need to take a course to gain the requisite education to pass your licensing exam. An online real estate course gives you more flexibility to work when you have other responsibilities.

Internet of Things

When the economy is thriving and people have residual income, they are more likely to spend money on things they don’t technically need. Enter the Internet of Things. Of course, with the surge in work-from-home jobs and increased reliance on the internet and technology, the IoT is likely to enjoy a transition from a luxury to something more approximating a necessity for some. As such, you can expect jobs in the IoT industry to do well as the economy recovers. If you have a mind for technology, that’s an industry worth checking out.

 

Not every industry benefits from a booming economy (we’re looking at you, medical industry), but many do. Retail, real estate, and the internet of things are just three examples. As you look to advance your career, consider looking for one in one of these fields to allow yourself to take advantage of the economic upswing that is hopefully right around the corner.

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