The power of paid time off

by Jim Annis

Unlimited paid time off, or PTO, has almost reached superhero status in the media, showcased by startups and giants like GE and Adobe. This permissive approach to time off has burst forth from the phone booth with a super cape, promising that if employees are getting their work done and have received approval, they can take time off when they want and need to.

Is unlimited PTO realistic?

It is if your work culture allows it, which means looking at the staff holistically. Some employers will never allow employees to take PTO. They believe in the concept itself, and use it for recruiting purposes, yet when an employee uses the time, it is irritating or miserable for the employee to come back to the job. Still yet, some employers reward employees that never take PTO, enforcing a culture of no time off … even if it is available.

One-size-fits all, use-it-or-lose-it two-bucket policies are dead. Companies that make people wait a year before they take PTO are outdated and not competitive. Candidates are negotiating their time off as part of their employment package. Millennial job seekers in particular look favorably on unlimited days versus the 15 days most U.S. companies provide. After recruitment, employers with time off benefits see greater loyalty and retention. Pros of unlimited PTO include no accrued expense (and related balance sheet liability) for banked time, no end-of-year rush to take unused vacation days that do not carry over and employee ownership over their own time.

Read more

Investing in yourself and your skill set

By Jim Annis

 

From the breakroom to the boardroom, you have admired them from afar. They are magnetic personalities who truly take care of themselves physically. They are committed mentally to lifelong learning — including developing their career through certifications or college degrees. At a cocktail party they may be fascinating with a ring of people hanging on their every word. In the HR department, we can spot them before they come into the interview. It may not be fair to judge them based on that fact; however, it is an observation proven repeatedly. On the flip side, during our company’s official casual days, we have observed that employees who consistently wear jeans, t-shirts and ponytails seem to be the same ones that have no real interest in personal or professional growth. We desire to see everyone strive to be the former.

What’s certification worth?

Explore the options and show some initiative with due diligence. Hire a career coach, ask a mentor or a mastermind group — someone you trust to give you guidance and share experiences. Research your company’s tuition reimbursement program. Make sure the degree you seek fits the company and/or career path. There are many industries in which people simply “collect letters” behind their name without any purpose behind them. Don’t be “that” guy. If you are new to the industry, get some experience under your belt first and then get the certification to be sure you are committed to the long term.

Read more

How to manage project managers

By Jim Annis

 

This is a cautionary tale of The Project Manager (external) and The Sponsor (internal). Imagine for a moment both taking the Shakespearean stage, then bowing, encouraging audience members who are cheering, while holding their noses at those who relentlessly “boo.” Neither role is an easy one. Each requires a range of management skills and talents not often possessed at once in a single person. Alas, we need them both. Here is some guidance to prevent a comedic tragedy at your workplace.

The project manager

This protagonist has a job to do: 1) manage the project, 2) manage their time, 3) manage the budget, 4) manage you – his client, and 5) manage the team. Outside vendor partners may be better at selling their abilities than implementing your purchase effectively, so you need an accountability partner.

Read more

5 Ways to Continue the Momentum of the New Year

By Anastasia Warren, Marketing Manager

 

So, it’s a month or two into the new year. The holidays are well over, the year-end bonuses have been spent, and there are no major holidays in sight.

The excitement of a great year is wearing off, and looking into a new year full of possibility and new goals has pretty much disappeared from employees’ minds among their daily tasks.

The momentum an organization feels at the end and start of a new year is important. It lunges us forward, it makes us feel grateful – it offers a mindset of growth and potential.

So how do we keep this feeling going?

  1. Create a year theme.

What do you want to work on this year? Sales? Customer service? Positivity? Decide what you would like your company as a whole to work on, and create a fun theme around it. Remind employees of this throughout the year to keep it fresh and fun.

  1. Set up monthly meetings and be consistent.

Around your theme, create monthly or bi-monthly meetings and training sessions to inform your employees on the theme. What to do, what not to do, how to apply the theme to their daily work. This keeps employees excited and engaged in the overall mission for the year.

Read more

Investing in yourself and your skill set

By Jim Annis, CEO

 

From the break room to the boardroom, you have admired them from afar. They are magnetic personalities who truly take care of themselves physically. They are committed mentally to lifelong learning — including developing their career through certifications or college degrees. At a cocktail party they may be fascinating with a ring of people hanging on their every word. In the HR department, we can spot them before they come into the interview. It may not be fair to judge them based on that fact; however, it is an observation proven repeatedly. On the flip side, during our company’s official casual days, we have observed that employees who consistently wear jeans, t-shirts and ponytails seem to be the same ones that have no real interest in personal or professional growth. We desire to see everyone strive to be the former.

What’s certification worth?

Explore the options and show some initiative with due diligence. Hire a career coach, ask a mentor or a mastermind group — someone you trust to give you guidance and share experiences. Research your company’s tuition reimbursement program. Make sure the degree you seek fits the company and/or career path. There are many industries in which people simply “collect letters” behind their name without any purpose behind them. Don’t be “that” guy. If you are new to the industry, get some experience under your belt first and then get the certification to be sure you are committed to the long term.

Read more

A better method for employee performance reviews

By Jim Annis, CEO

 

Traditional performance reviews can be a source of conflict. A slightly negative review can break an employee’s morale and be a precursor for their exit. If they are a “keeper,” taking a risk is not an option, especially in this competitive market for talent.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) article entitled, “Is It Time to Put the Performance Review on a PIP (Performance Improvement Plan)?”, the number of employers that are either ditching the numerical ranking of employees or tossing out the entire performance review process has grown from 4 percent in 2012 to 12 percent in 2014, as referenced in a CEB survey of Fortune 1000 companies. Does ditching the traditional 1-5 performance ranking and “expected” raises work for your company or against it? We believe it encourages avoidance and is uncomfortable for everyone, and most people don’t leave feeling empowered or positive.

HR executives need to be adaptable and flexible to match the rapidly changing work environment. Communication – not one-way but true dialogue – in real time via technology, less formality in our work and home life, and increased mobility have made the traditional performance reviews into dinosaurs. Innovative companies are flattening operations, including giving line employees the power to change floor production in real time using APIs. HR can learn from that kind of forward thinking.

Read more

Millennials in the Workplace: What We Really Need To Talk About

By Anastasia Warren, Marketing Manager

 

I’ve recently noticed the amount of people in the world pointing out problems.

Yes, this is needed.

We need to understand the root of the problems we as a society face. We need to identify pain points and different issues.

What I wish I saw more of, are solutions. Discussions about solutions, ideas for solutions.

We often get so bogged down in the problems themselves, that we forget to work together to find an answer — to solve them.

This applies to many things going on in the world right now, but today, I want to talk about the simple topic of millennials in the workplace.

Say “ay” if you have seen an article this week about millennials changing the workplace.

Ay.

Read more

Breaking up with vendors is hard to do

By Jim Annis

 

Ah, Valentine’s Day is in the air. Romance, proposals, new flirtations and sometimes … the inevitable big breakup. Well, nothing lasts forever, so that’s why it’s good to have some guidance on how to manage situations when they go south. Aside from a longtime personal love, breaking up with a long-term business vendor is often of the most painful and uncomfortable breakups you can experience. There are many “types” of vendor relationships: love at first sight, those you trust enough to “marry,” and the ones you divorce; and then there are the ones who are “married” to your business family so you would feel horribly guilty about letting them go. So why is breaking up so hard to do?

You’re comfortable

The “how do we work with each other?” phase is over, things are easy … maybe too easy. Perhaps you have been lax about keeping track of your vendor performance and accountability. Remember, any long-term relationship takes work. Comfortable is OK, but there is a slippery slope that occurs when complacency takes the guise of comfort. Each year my wife makes me meatloaf with ketchup and mashed potatoes for Valentine’s Day. She has done this for each year together for 35 years. It is her way of saying “I love you,” and I simply adore it and her for the effort. How has your vendor pool said “I love you” lately? Do they provide great operational performance? Do they anticipate your needs? Do they listen to your concerns? Do they approach your relationship as a true partnership? If they have not, it might be time to look for someone new with stars in their eyes and common values.

Read more

$14 is the new $10

IMG_4648

Reno, NV from Rancho San Rafael Regional Park

 

Caution: This is a tough love article.

We live this every day. What does it mean? There is a lot of lip service out there about how local companies are paying good, competitive wages but we do not see it in action. We challenge every business owner in Northern Nevada to read this, share it with their colleagues and then immediately create a revised human resources strategy for 2016 that reflects the importance of this fact: $10 per hour as a wage will not keep your business alive much longer. Keeping cash versus investing in the workforce trades short-term security for long-term certain death. A real HR strategy should encompass two proactive components: 1) Know the marketplace to begin with; and 2) Anticipate and stay head of the curve. At minimum, the wage should be $14 per hour for your least-skilled jobs. If you have not reached this level of pay, you’re already behind the curve.

Federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour if insurance is offered, and if not, then it’s $8.25. Neither number is a relevant wage for our community: 1) The cost of doing business is higher; 2) the cost of living is higher; and 3) therefore, we have to increase wages. This is not in any way intended to open up a political discussion. This is pure economics – huge demand and less supply. If you want to do business here in the near future, and cannot get your mind about why this is true, then go play ostrich somewhere else. Here’s why:

Read more

X Factor or ‘Ick’ Factor: What’s your sales personality?

By Jim Annis

 

It’s January and every business salesperson is champing at the bit to get over the holiday slowdown (unless you’re retail) and get new customers. Make way! Here they come!

As a CEO, it is important to give some coaching reminders to your sales team before you release them. To increase your company’s productivity, get training started early in January. David Sandler, John Maxwell, Zig Zigler, and Dale Carnegie are all successful sales coaches and have their own methods of teaching. Originally, I wanted to give you their overarching philosophies in this article so that you could share them. I changed my mind.

The one thing that I want you to coach is how to be authentic and to listen. Back in 1975, I trained as a salesperson with Mutual of Omaha. The basis of that training was sincere interest. Anyone can learn other sales skills, like product knowledge and client education. The goal is to get behind the person’s forehead, and to do that you must listen.

Read more