Guest Post: Options for Going Back To School

Finishing your education can be a great way for you to feel a sense of accomplishment in life. If you never finished your degree, you might feel a sense of longing for something more. Your career options are limited without the right credentials, so going back to school can be the right move to make. If you take steps to learn more about Maryville’s choices of online bachelor's degree programs, you can easily see that there are plenty of options in front of you for finishing your education.

Online Degree

What many people neglect to remember in the current day and age, is that there are tons of ways for you to finish your education without having to step foot in a classroom. The internet has brought forth some interesting opportunities for those who wish to go back to school. Not only can looking into taking classes with UAB online help you to find classes that work for your busy schedule, but it can also help to take some of the pressure off.

Depending on your age, you might feel nervous about going back to school. If enough time has passed, you might feel rusty, or like you will not know how to properly sit and learn for a designated amount of time. With online courses, you will be dealing with your professors and classmates on the internet, so you will not have to worry about making a specific impression. All you have to do is study a subject that interests you and begin your reentry into the world of higher education.

Going to Campus

Online degrees can be a great way to go back to school, but you can also go a more traditional route. Returning to an actual campus can put you in the college mindset. There is something about being on a quad, watching the leaves shift into their autumn colors, and feeling as if anything is possible with enough effort. Unfortunately, since you have a job and other responsibilities, you might not feel as if you have enough time to be on campus.

There are still ways for you to return to college and actually be in a classroom. More and more academic institutions are considering the needs of all of their students, including those who cannot afford the luxury of being on campus at any given time. This means that more classes are being offered at night and on the weekends. Should these courses also not work for your schedule, an online degree might be the better route for you to pursue.

No Time Like the Present

When it comes to finishing your degree, the best time to enroll is now. Find a degree path that really speaks to your needs and take some time to learn more about Maryville’s choices of online bachelor's degree programs. Once you have an idea of what you would like to study, you will be able to discover the best method of obtaining your degree. Whether you go online or decide to return to campus, do what is best for your schedule, and do not feel as if you have to rush to the finish line.

The role of fun in the 21st century workplace

Work has long been synonymous with terms like toil, slog and the daily grind.

However, in recent years there has been a shift in how we think about work. In an

effort to attract and retain top talent, many organisations have implemented a

positive psychology approach. In other words, they have focused their efforts on

creating workplaces that are enjoyable as well as productive. According to S. C. H.

Chan, a fun work environment boosts wellbeing among employees and helps to

nurture creativity, enthusiasm, satisfaction and communication among workers. All of

this is not only good news for employees, it’s also positive for business’ balance

sheets, as happy workers are thought to be more committed.

Twenty-first century businesses are incorporating fun into their workplaces in a range

of ways. Here are just three easy-to-implement things they are doing to make

working life more enjoyable:

Providing facilities for relaxation and entertainment

Many workers are expected to put in long hours on occasion to ensure that tasks are

completed on time and to a certain standard. However, hard work and long hours

can put employee wellbeing in jeopardy. To encourage staff to de-stress, re-energise

and develop bonds with colleagues, many workplaces have replaced the traditional

staff room with its more exciting cousin, the breakout room. Housing everything from

games consoles, to table tennis equipment, to pool tables, these areas are intended

to get employees relaxing and interacting and are usually filled with furniture that’s

designed to inspire creativity, encourage communication and help workers unwind.

To create a fun breakout room in your office, why not ask your employees what kind

of games and activities they’d like to have access to. For design inspiration, sites like

Pinterest and Calibre should be able to help.

Setting up social committees

There’s nothing worse than being at a stuffy work social where everyone wishes they

were somewhere else. Instead of holding another poorly attended, dreary cheese-

and-wine evening, why not set up a social committee to encourage staff to take more

control of events organisation? Many workplaces are creating these panels to allow

workers to generate their own ideas for nights out, charity events and the like.

Whether it’s paintballing on a Saturday morning or holding a baking competition on a

Friday afternoon, by allowing staff have a say, you can be more confident that

workers will actually want to get involved in the activities that are organised. The

potential result - an empowered, engaged and bonded workforce.

Remember to listen to staff

In your quest to create a fun work environment, it’s a good idea to consider your

workers’ points-of-view. After all, they are the people you are trying to please. Have

an open door policy in place so they can come to you with suggestions on ways to

improve satisfaction and wellbeing at work and consult with them before making final

decisions. This kind of attentiveness and transparency can pay off in loyalty, respect

and dedication.

Why Should You Consider an Apprenticeship?

Let’s face it, landing a good job these days isn’t easy. Competition for the best roles is intense, and the thought of shelling out large sums of money to boost your qualifications might be enough to bring you out in a cold sweat. The good news is, there’s an alternative study route that can enhance your prospects of securing lucrative and rewarding work, and that won’t break the bank in the process. Apprenticeships are the savvy option for the modern jobseeker, and here’s why.

Get real industry insight

As you build up your knowledge and skills during an apprenticeship, you’ll get an insight into how your chosen industry really works. Unlike purely academic courses that focus on theoretical learning, these development programs offer you the chance to gain valuable experience as you work towards your certification. There are a host of different paths to choose from too. For example, if you’re keen to start a career in financial services, you can look for apprenticeship opportunities on the websites of specialist training schools like www.simplyacademy.com. Other routes include administration, business and management; animals, land and the environment; creative industries; computing and IT; food and drink, construction and building; tourism and many more besides.

Earn as your learn

Another key advantage of apprenticeships is the fact that rather than draining your finances, they allow you to earn a wage as you learn. Don’t expect to make a fortune when you’re completing your program, but you should be able to make ends meet. Also, as your skills progress, you may find that your employer increases your wages. Like other workers, you’ll also benefit from paid holidays.

Receive plenty of support

You can rest assured you’ll get plenty of support when you’re training too. If you ever have any questions about terminology, techniques or anything else related to your role or to the industry in general, you will be able to ask your manager. Bear in mind that it’s in your employer’s interests to make sure you excel in your training. After all, they will benefit from your efforts and abilities.

Look forward to good career prospects

Most importantly, once you finish your apprenticeship, you can look forward to good career prospects. You might be able to continue working and progressing in the same place, or you can look for a job with another organization. The important thing is, as well as vital knowledge and skills, you will have that all-important industry experience that so many students lack. This will put you at a competitive advantage when you’re searching for work. 

3 Interesting Facts About Shopping Psychology

Achieving impressive sales levels is about more than simply offering attractive products. If you want the goods to fly off your shelves, you’ll need to get to grips with the basics of shopping psychology. It’s only by really understanding what makes your customers tick that you’ll be able to achieve the results you’re after. So, to help you boost sales in your stores, here are three interesting facts about retail psychology.

1) ‘Dwell zones’ are key to enticing customers

The way you set your shop up could have a huge bearing on how much money you make. For example, take the ‘dwell zone’. This is the space located just inside your front door. According to retail experts, it is not a good place to position products because when consumers enter this area from the street, their senses are overwhelmed by the changes in smells, temperature, sounds and lighting, meaning they are unlikely to put much thought into the products they see. Rather than filling this space with goods, it’s best to lure people further into your shop using appealing and informative signage. Department stores often utilise this zone for directories, while fashion outlets tend to promote the season’s top trends.

To ensure this part of your store looks the part and helps to entice consumers further in, it’s a good idea to display attractive and dynamic digital signage. Point of sale installation and maintenance experts CJ Retail Solutions note that such signage can offer an effective and affordable way to communicate with shoppers. These solutions also allow you to update your marketing messages at the click of a button, meaning you can keep your content up-to-date.

2) Shelf setup can have a big impact on buying decisions

The way you position your goods on your shelves could also have a major impact on your bottom line. Experiments have shown that when people walk down shop aisles, they often focus on the shelves that are level with their eyes. For this reason, it’s wise to place the products with the biggest profit margin at eye-level.

It’s also worth putting your most profitable goods, and any you hope people to purchase on impulse, at the end of aisles as these areas tend to get plenty of traffic.

Even the way you lay your products out on your shelves could help to drive your sales. Retailers often use a tactic called ‘triangular balance’, which means they put the biggest products with the highest profit margins at the centre of their shelves and arrange other products around them in descending size order to create an attractive display. Because people’s eyes are automatically drawn to the centre of these patterns, they may be more likely to opt for the larger, pricier goods.

3) Music can sway shoppers

Even the music you play in your shop could influence your customers’ shopping decisions. Research conducted by a team from Leicester University found that when French music was played in the wine aisle of a supermarket, sales of French bottles increased. The following day, German folk music was played and this led to a rise in sales of German wine.

This might be a crude example, but it’s certainly well worth trying to find music that has a positive effective on the purchasing behaviour of shoppers in your store.

Are You Ready To Work Abroad?

Whether you’re looking to advance in your career or simply want to try something different, starting a new life in a foreign country can be both daunting and exciting in equal measures. With the chance to boost your CV and expand your cultural horizons, it’s easy to see why working abroad is so popular. Whether it’s a long-term move or a short stint overseas, it’s important that you know what to expect. So, before you book your flights and start packing your suitcase, here are some key considerations to bear in mind.

Is your heart really in it?

If you’re sick of your desk job and want to escape the daily grind, you may decide that working abroad is the way to go. However, it’s important to remember that moving to a new country to live and work is a completely different experience to going on holiday. You’ll also need to think about whether you feel comfortable enough to leave behind family and friends and start a life in a new location. If the prospect of progressing your career and the thrill of living in a new place outweighs these disadvantages, then you’re most likely ready to take the plunge.

Practical Considerations

Of course, there are also some practical considerations you’ll need to take into account. Not only will you have to get accustomed to a different culture, you may also need to learn a new language. As Spanish tuition specialists Spanish Connection note, being able to speak the local language can help you settle into your new way of life more easily and boost your career prospects.

Then there’s the issue of money. It’s a good idea to weigh up how much you will earn against the cost of living to ensure you can afford to make the move. You should also do some research into working visas to find out how long you are legally allowed to stay there, and what papers you may need for work.

Choosing the Right Job

Before you up sticks, it’s important to figure out what your goals in work and life are. After all, there’s no point in going to all the effort to travel overseas to end up working in a job you despise. Research the country’s job market and seek out roles that are suited to your skills, interests and experience. Remember that you don’t have to choose a career that is similar to your one at home - a job you would have never considered at home may present exciting opportunities abroad, so try to keep an open mind.

Still Having Doubts?

If you’re willing to embrace new experiences and throw yourself into a new culture, working abroad can be a highly rewarding and enjoyable experience. As long as you do your research and manage your expectations, you shouldn’t struggle to forge a successful career away from home. 

The Importance of Correct Inventory Levels

The problems caused by inaccurate stock levels are many and they are well worth considering as they can impact your business negatively.

Inaccurate inventory can lead to a number of issues for a business including increased operating expenses, increased cost of capital, lost sales, issues with fault identification and insurance, as well as increased warehousing costs.

Here are the 8 business areas that will be affected from incorrect inventory levels:

  • Money tied up on the shelves. By holding excess stock to cover poor stock management we drive up investment and operating expense due to the cost of capital.
  • Lost sales due to stock-outs: In many cases the customer will not buy another product. If it’s a trend, customers will not come back.
  • Obsolescence increases: Trying to hold stock of items on the shelf to account for statistical fluctuations means there is also a lot of stock to sell at a discount when new technology is released or when it approaches its expiry. Most such stock will need to be sold well below cost to dispose of it - many items will simply be scrapped.
  • Late identification of faults: If the choice is made to produce and keep 6 months’ supply of an item on the shelf it can be up to 6 months before a faulty product is identified. After that time it can be very hard to either identify the cause of the problem if it’s something produced in-house, or to return it to a supplier. A manufacturing problem that could have been remedied after 100 faulty items now has stock levels of 10,000 faulty items.
  • Insurance Costs: Any business should be well insured, but it doesn’t make sense to be insuring a million dollars’ worth of stock when there is only $500,000. A bigger problem that may only become evident in the event of a claim is that you’re under-insured.
  • Theft and Losses: What is actually happening to your stock, why are your costs so high? If you’re not keeping accurate tabs on what your stock should be, how will you know when things go missing?
  • Distrusting the System: How many times have you called a shop and asked for an item only to be told “The computer says we have one in stock but I’ll have to go check on the shelf”. The inventory system exists to save this very thing happening. If your system can’t be trusted then it’s virtually useless.
  • Warehousing Cost: If you’re paying to rent space you don’t need, you’re paying too much.

Accurate control of inventory is essential in any stock-holding business but with hundreds of SKUs and a lack of data visibility keeping track of what inventory levels are, and what they should be is a daunting task it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

There are many solutions to inventory control but a solution that can grow with your needs and integrate with your existing software is essential. Unleashed’s inventory management system has been designed to meet the needs of small medium and large business and integrates flawlessly with your other software. 

Guest Post: 6 Ways To Choose the Best Employees

Finding the best employees is a difficult task, but it's one of the most important business decisions you can make. Deciding who to hire will affect your business operations for the duration of that person's employment. A great employee can help your business run smoothly, but a bad one can wreak havoc on a business and its effectiveness. The following tips will help you find the best employees who will be assets to your business. Look outside traditional channels to find outstanding employees.

networking

 

Skimming jobs ads and spending hours at career fairs are not the best ways to find great employees. Ask your friends and acquaintances if they can provide a referral to help you fill a vacant position. Networking provides lots of opportunities to connect with great employees that you might not have found otherwise. Because of your mutual connections, they're also more likely to do a great job once you hire them.

Consider various types of experience.

experience

While degrees in a particular field are obvious indicators that a person is educated about certain things, they are not always the best indicators of experience. There are many non-traditional ways people can have the perfect experience for a certain job without traditional education listed on a resume. Non-traditional education can be invaluable in learning practical skills. Trade schools, apprenticeships, volunteer work, and military experience all provide skills and learning opportunities that can be indicators of high levels of experience.

Pay close attention to details during interviews.

dressed

Details tell you a lot about a person. Because job interviews are a time when people tend to put a great deal of time and attention into their appearance, it's a great time to take note of their attention to detail. It's also good to keep careful notes about their organization level, their level of preparedness, and their punctuality at interview time.

Encourage the interviewee to talk during an interview.

questions

 

In order to really get a feel for the person you are interviewing, they need to do most of the talking during an interview. Be sure to ask open-ended questions that require more than a word or two to sufficiently answer. When people are only required to answer yes or no questions during an interview, they're likely to produce the correct answers. If you want to get a good sense of the interviewee's personality and communication skills, that person needs to do more talking than the person conducting the interview.

Be transparent about your company and its culture.

transparent

When applicants don't have an accurate understanding of the company and its culture, they may wrongly see themselves as a good fit. If a person realizes during an interview that they are wrong for the job they have applied for, this lessens the likelihood that the person will accept the job. Conflicts can arise when an applicant is hired without fully understanding the needs of company beforehand. Be sure to let the applicant know the general company situation and basic information about its overall culture during the interview. This can actually serve as part of the screening process.

Carefully screen applicants.

screen

Screening applicants using several different methods can provide even more insight into the individual. A credit check can help verify details about their previous jobs. To some degree, it can give you a sense of whether the person is responsible or not. A background check can serve to further confirm the things that appear on a credit check, and it can also alert you to any criminal charges the person may have in their background. As a final precaution against hiring the wrong type of person, drug screening can help verify that the applicant is not using drugs.

Jon Spivey owns USA Mobile Drug Testing of Atlanta, providing 24/7 on-site drug and alcohol testing throughout the Atlanta area. USAMDT of Atlanta helps employers improve workplace safety through tailored drug free workplace programs.

Chelsea Meeting Spaces: Avoid Starbucks As Their Office

If you’re starting a business or have on started and are currently lacking an office, here is one piece of advice; avoid Starbucks as your office.

Sure, there are always people in Starbucks busily pecking away at their laptops while sipping on their overly-complex vanilla upside down macchiato with soy and a splash of espresso. They certainly look productive and on some occasions, probably are. While it is fine to sit down and check email while enjoying your hot beverage, this should not be your replacement for a real office.

For your sake, and the sake of the baristas, I implore you not to make Starbucks your 9am - 5pm office.

“White Noise” is only good for solo work.

You have probably seen studies or read a handful of articles claiming that white noise can actually make you a more productive person. It can even help with creative cognition. A round of applause for you as this is actually true. Before you gallop away on your high horse, there are some caveats to this.

The first caveat is that the quality of the white noise matters. I won’t get into any complex science mainly because that is not the point of this article. The point is that not all ambient noises will make you more productive. Additionally, you want the quality of that ambient noise to be either real or extremely high in quality if it is fabricated or recorded.

If you are sitting in a Starbucks or a similar local coffee shop, you are getting quality white noise. However, you are not guaranteed that this white noise remains as just white noise. A large, rowdy group of over-caffeinated teens or a mom getting her java fix whilst caring for noisy toddlers can easily break your ambient spell. The white noise just turns into noise.

If you are working on a proposal or report, the white noise is probably a welcome tune. However, it is not good for your everyday office because you will, sooner or later, need to communicate with the outside world. Cell services are notable for their choppy service when you are on your most crucial calls. So whether you are negotiating with a vendor or trying to hone in on what is being said in a conference call, you can expect to have the worst experience in a coffee shop.

If you absolutely “need” to have that coffee shop ambiance to get your work done, there is an app for that.

A cup of Joe does not close a deal.

You know the image well. You are in search for some stock images that show communication, relationships, and business. There it is. Two smiling business professionals reaching across a coffee shop table shaking hands with two cups of steaming coffee sitting next to them.

Unfortunately, the real world does not typically work like that. It is highly unlikely that you will be closing deals with Fortune 500 executives at a coffee shop table. There is way too much at stake to have an impromptu meeting at Starbucks.

Closing a deal over a cup of coffee is a nice sentiment, albeit unrealistic. You will likely be negotiating any sort of deal with a partner or potential client from a conference room filled with assistants and attorneys. Okay, there will probably be some coffee there too.

Your own office will serve as legitimacy.

One of the main benefits that comes with having your own office, is the legitimacy factor that it provides. There is no shame in working out of a home office or garage. However, being able to invite clients over to your actual office helps bring a certain degree of legitimacy to your operations.

Potential clients can see that you are established. The office gives off the notion that you are in fact successful and mean business. Working solely from a home office can potentially give off the impression that this is a side business or that you are not fully committed to your company, even if it is completely the opposite.

There are a lot of office options in the area.

Finally, you should avoid Starbucks simply because you live in the Big Apple and their are a lot of office options out there. More specifically, Chelsea has a sea of office buildings and amenities that you and your employees can benefit from.

Every neighborhood in the Chelsea area has something unique to offer whether you are looking in West Village, Flatiron, Nomad, or Union Square. You can opt for a traditional office building or look for unique opportunities that offer private offices and suites with shared conference rooms.

With so much real estate, you cannot use the excuse that there was nothing available. Manhattan is bursting at the seams with office spaces that are not coffee shops. The new year is the perfect time to get yourself into an actual office.

Andrew Fujii is a marketing professional with expertise in digital/web and content marketing. He is also a copywriter for multiple agencies producing copy for blogs, articles, websites, product packaging, mobile apps, and more.

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Are Your Days of Easy Spending Over Yet?

Some of us like to learn the things the hard way. Those people may spend like there is no end to money supply. Flashing the cash or credit card is very easy to do so. However, you must know that you have got to pay those card balances back one day. The longer you delay settling them the harder it will be to wear them down. Power of Negotiation in Managing your Finances

Some people may be shy or even embarrassed about negotiating or haggling over price. They may thing that it is beneath them. You work hard to earn that money. Nobody can tell me that any work is beneath anybody. In other words, we do many things for cash. Why not negotiate for the best prices so that your wages can buy you more things or give you more pleasure?

One of the first rules of negotiating is to know how much the goods or services you are interested in are worth. If you are planning on bargaining you know a lot more about prices and how much such items worth in the market and to you. So, you think about them a lot more and you may even realize in the process that you don’t even want them anymore. You would rather keep your money.

Shopping Around for Best Prices

Shopping around is a bit different from negotiating in that you don’t have to bargain with anyone. You just need to find another supplier who is willing to offer you the same product or service cheaper. This is a lot easier than you may think these days. You can quickly type the name and details of the product you are seeking and you will see plenty suppliers listed.

For example, you may need new set of tires for your car and worried about the costs. Surely, it is easier to go to a tire shop, get them fixed and pay the man. What would you think I paid only half the costs for my tires with a little work? I got online and found the tires I need at less than half the price charged by the tire shop near me. I ordered them and they got delivered to me in couple of days for free.

Before you ask what you would do with 4 tires delivered to your home, the same website gave a list of mobile tire fitters. I called one of them and agreed on a price per tire fitting. It was half the price charged by a tire shop and it was fitted at my home. The whole process was painless and opened my eyes. If I could do it with tires think what else you could get at half the price.

Getting It for Half the Price

Do you think it is possible to buy the exact same things for half the price by negotiating and shopping around? I and many others have done it many a times and can tell you that you can. Do you think you can buy car insurance at half the price? According to http://cheapautoinsurance.net, you can. Why would you spend over the odds for something that you can buy cheaper? Do you think those insurance companies need the money more than you do?

Living within Your Means and Paying Off Debt

By being smart with your money you would avoid financial troubles throughout your life. You may have made mistakes in the past but there are only few things in life you cannot recover from. Again, by being smart you can get out of your current situation. It is already demonstrated here that you don’t need to live an inferior life because you are minding your spending from now. You can still buy the things you want but pay less for them. The rest of the money can go to paying off your debts, saving money for the future or enjoying life more. Think about the ways you can avoid wasting your money and how you can put that money to another use. Things like money and time always have alternative uses. Don’t be wasteful with your money and time.

Setting Up Your Business Online

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of .com & .net, powered by Verisign for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine. These days, any and all businesses should be operating online in some way, shape, or form. However, too many business owners still believe it’s extremely difficult to stand up an online presence. The truth is that it’s easier than they think. It’s a task you can accomplish on your own with a little help from the right resources and an expert third party.

Let’s go ahead and walk through the process here in this post. We'll start with the very first step.

Step one: You'll want to pick a domain name and find a great web address. This is not only positioning your brand on the web, but it's also important so that other companies don't take your ideal online names.

Step two: Build or set up "something" to put on that web address. Verisign has a great article about setting up a social media profile as an alternative to a main website. If you can't build a website right away, this is a solid option.

In my opinion, however, building a website is the way to go in the long run. While the pros of having a social media profile for your online presence is how quick and easy it is and the lack of worry you have for security and hosting charges, the upsides of having your own self-hosted corporate website outweighs them.

Consider this...

Unless you build your own website, you don't own anything inside of it. Think about all of that data that is so essential to your business. Now you can track brand impressions and purchases (if it applies) on your very own website. Why wouldn't you want that data? Better yet, why wouldn't you want to be able to customize your customers' experiences with your website online? It's kind of a no-brainer.

Don't get me wrong. Either way, you'll need to put in hard work to grow your web presence. But at the end of the day, it's always worth it.

In the end, the fact of the matter is that you need to be online. Whether you build your own website or social networks to drive customers to, it's not as important as taking the plunge before it's too late.

I encourage you to read the full article from Verisign as aforementioned above. After that, feel free to leave your comments below.

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5 Ways Learning & Development Boosts Productivity

Learning and development (L&D) is often the first thing to be trimmed from a company's budget. It is frequently seen as an unnecessary expense with hard to quantify benefits (at least in terms of pure ROI), and it therefore seems the logical choice when paring back outgoings.However, L&D actually boosts productivity and, therefore, a company’s growth and income. Here are just five ways in which L&D makes business better.

1. Employee engagement

Every employee, regardless of their position, wants to feel as though they are valued for the skills, knowledge and experience they bring to a role, so it can make all the difference when their employer offers them opportunities for training and development. It will demonstrate that the company cares about them and wants them to improve their skills, and therefore ensure that the employee is more invested in the long-term aims of the company and the part they will play in achieving those aims.

2. Staff retention Engaged employees are also more likely to stay at the company. A recent paper by Thales Learning & Development said, “Investing time and money into developing your people makes them feel valued. It also gives them something to aspire to and provides them with a future in the business.” The paper goes on to quote Oxford Economics research that shows the average time it takes for a new employee to reach optimum productivity is 28 weeks, so retaining staff effectively saves up to half a year's lost productivity.

3. Time savings

The more skilled and knowledgeable an employee is, the less likely he or she will be to make mistakes which take time to rectify. Work holdups, therefore, will be rare (if non-existent) and employees can move seamlessly from job to job. They will also become used to achieving at a high level on a regular basis, which will aid morale and company engagement. In addition, an employee who is skilled and engaged with the company will be less likely to leave it, thus saving management time when it comes to hiring and training new employees.

4. Reducing sick leave

Employee absence costs UK organisations £29 billion per annum. L&D directly leads to higher employee engagement, and higher engagement directly correlates with better employee wellbeing, meaning fewer sick days taken. As Jim Harter, Ph.D, of business journal Gallup puts it: “If people are engaged at work and thriving in their overall wellbeing, they're more agile and resilient and are less likely to be sick, but they're also more likely to want to be in the office.”

5. Increased focus

In research conducted for the Harvard Business Review, four core employee needs were identified: Renewal (physical), Value (emotional), Focus (mental), and Purpose (spiritual). The researchers found that when employees felt even one of these needs were met, “they report a 30 percent higher capacity to focus, almost 50 percent higher level of engagement, and a 63 percent greater likelihood to stay with the company.” At a time when studies often reveal how little time at work is actually productive, the importance of meeting these core needs cannot be underestimated. L&D helps to meet two of them directly: Value, which is felt when the company invests in you as an individual, and Purpose, which is felt by through a sense of progression within both your role and the company. The bottom line value of L&D may be difficult to measure, but if a business is to grow, it is clear that it needs its staff to grow first.

How to Engage With Customers that Don’t Want to Engage

Almost every company in retail wants to have a sincere relationship with its customers. A relationship that allows them to really see into their customers’ hearts and minds, and let them feel that their customer will always be loyal to them.The way most brands think they can achieve this is through engagement. Constant, continuous engagement. Whether it’s via email, social media, text, snail mail, or with geo-targeted ads...these companies love to communicate. And whilst they might think they always have something relevant to say, if you’re a customer you’ll know this isn’t the case. How many of us have felt overwhelmed and bombarded with daily emails, marketing letters or cold calls after beginning a relationship with a company? How many times have we followed a brand we liked on social media, only to have our news feed flooded with their updates? It’s an all-too-common occurrence, and is proof that persistent and frequent engagement isn’t always such a great idea. So how should brands go about engaging with customers; that is, the customers that don’t like to engage? Get Out of My Face, Please Most companies believe that the key to a relationship with customers is engagement - it’s not. Research by the Harvard Business Review says that 77% of customers actually don’t want a brand relationship at all. Even when something goes wrong and a customer needs urgent service, many will choose the self-service route, with only one third of people choosing to use the telephone compared with two thirds 3-5 years ago. And that number is shrinking fast. If people are becoming less likely to want a relationship with a company even during a transaction, what makes brands think their customers will want one at any other time? Companies in the process of rolling out geo-targeted mobile ads, including Tesco Mobile and Starbucks, may be surprised to learn that 60% of customers claimed to feel unhappy or indifferent about the prospect according to 2013 research by the Internet Advertising Bureau. It’s important that brands are realistic about their expectations so they can engage and behave accordingly. How to Know Who Doesn’t Want to Know You Secret tip: it’s pretty much everyone. You don’t ever need to worry about a customer leaving because they didn’t receive enough marketing emails. The only thing you need to worry about is failing to respond to communication from the customer, which is obviously crucial if you want to maintain their trust. But in this case they’d be instigating the engagement, and not the other way around. Be open to this. Let your customers lead. Secondly, it’s important to identify just what type of communication your customers expect and even desire from you. Transactional communications, like receipt and shipping notifications, are expected. Many customers will also look for engagement when they need to solve a problem, or ask questions about a product before they buy it. What they often don’t want is unsolicited offers sent to their phone; surprise direct messages on social media and a bunch of marketing emails blasted to their inbox every day. This, unfortunately, seems to be what so many brand-customer ‘relationships’ are made of. How to Lose Customers and Annoy People It’s not hard for customers to list the ways that so many companies get it wrong. But just in case, here are a few... 1. Permission All ticked boxes aside, if you’re sending your customers something they’re not expecting, the chances are they’ll reject it. Be transparent about what your communications will entail and don’t try to cover it up in the small print. Let customers need to know what they’re agreeing to. 2. Relevance Not all customers are the same; that much should be obvious. So why don’t more brands tailor their engagements to suit? One of the most common reasons that customers opt out of communication is because they’re bombarded with stuff they don’t care about. 3. Frequency Another top reason why customers jump ship. Nobody wants to hear from the same brand day in day out, with little variation in information. Customers can and do suffer from information overload. More is not better. Other reasons include bland, boring information; poorly designed emails or mail-outs and a failure to make use of existing information about the customer. And many companies also fail to pay attention to social media stats, email campaign results and other ROI measurements, meaning they have no idea how their attempts to communicate might be working. Engage Smart, Engage Right Rather than trying to find ways they can engage more with customers, brands should be looking at how they can engage smart instead. Greg Ciotti at HelpScout.net points out that whilst many companies believe direct engagement is the key, research has shown that it is actually shared values that help build brand loyalty. Customers will be more likely to stick with brands that fight for a cause that they believe in, and hold attitudes and beliefs close to their own heart. “What companies stand for doesn’t have to be lofty or grandiose,” says Greg..”... You just have to plant your flag somewhere that matters.” Establishing strong brand values that resonate is probably one of the most effective things a brand can do to boost customer loyalty. But they will do well to combine those with the following: 1. Give Choices Let customers choose how and when they will be contacted, and for what purpose. And be respectful of these preferences. Also when it comes to opting out, let them do so in the fewest actions possible. 2. Exercise Restraint Watch the frequency of one’s updates, whether it be social media or email. You don’t want to dominate a news feed. 3. Engage with a cause In line with your brand values, spend time engaging directly with the cause or ideology you defend. This will stimulate engagement from your customers, without you approaching them directly. 4. Be consistent Continue to demonstrate brand values across all of your channels and platforms, keeping an expected level of consistency across them. You don’t need to wave your mantra in front of customers’ faces; eventually it will become a natural association they make with your brand. 5. Eliminate obstacles Make it as easy as possible (the least number of moves) for customers to complete a call to action, or opt out of engagement altogether.

Many mistakes made by companies in their attempts to engage are grown from a deep-rooted fear...fear that their customers will go elsewhere, or that their employees won’t do the right thing. It’s time for more brands to dismiss these fears and let go of their hold on communication channels. By simply being there for your customers, there’s no immediate reason they should be tempted to go elsewhere. And you may just get the customer relationship you wanted.

Overstock CEO Discusses Bitcoin

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Deep Capture Blog for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine. We all know and love Overstock.com for being a one-stop shop for any and all tangible goods that we might be priceshopping the web for, But do you know the leaders behind the company?Blue Prom Dresses

For example, Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne, has a background in finance. He's been around the markets long enough to know the ins and outs of what is going on on a daily basis.

Fed up, Patrick became a supporter of Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and filmed a video of a talk he did on the idea of economic warfare. Essentially, he is calling out a subset of stock market participants that could be accused of stock market manipulation - an accusation that some would consider to be an organized crime, but that isn't proactively monitored by those in the position to do so.

I have embedded the video of his speech below.

Whether you are knowledgeable of the stock market or not, it's an interesting watch with many valuable takeaways. Also, you may not agree with Patrick Byrne's statements, but at least his opinions will open up a healthy two-sided discussion on the topic at hand. Cheap Bridesmaid Dresses

After watching, please feel free to leave a comment with your opinions in the comment section. You can also follow Patrick Byrne on Twitter.

Visit Sponsor's Site

Overstock's CEO Speaks Out

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Deep Capture Blog for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine. We all know and love Overstock.com for being a one-stop shop for any and all tangible goods that we might be priceshopping the web for, But do you know the leaders behind the company?

For example, Patrick Byrne, the CEO of Overstock.com, has a background in finance. He's been around the markets long enough to know the ins and outs of what is going on on a daily basis.Most Popular Prom Dresses

Fed up, Patrick filmed a video of a talk he did on the idea of economic warfare. Essentially, he is calling out a subset of stock market participants that could be accused of stock market manipulation - an accusation that some would consider to be an organized crime, but that isn't proactively monitored by those in the position to do so.

I have embedded the video of his speech below.

Whether you are knowledgeable of the stock market or not, it's an interesting watch with many valuable takeaways. Also, you may not agree with Patrick Byrne's statements, but at least his opinions will open up a healthy two-sided discussion on the topic at hand.

After watching, please feel free to leave a comment with your opinions in the comment section. Mother of the Bride Dresses

Visit Sponsor's Site

How to Automate Business Processes and Increase Customer Satisfaction with CRM

Implementing customer relationship management (CRM) in your business is an effective way to increase customer satisfaction and speed employee productivity. Done properly, CRM will allow you to respond more quickly and more effectively to customers at every point in the sales process – from initial contact to after-sale support. Like any major change in your business process, however, implementing CRM requires planning and consideration before you roll it out in order to maximize the rewards you reap. A rule of thumb in the CRM industry is that each dollar you spend on pre-planning will save you at least seven dollars during the deployment. If you were building a new building, you wouldn't have the contractor begin work until the architect was finished drawing. The same principle applies to CRM.

Do Your Planning Before You Choose Your Software

You want software to fit your needs; you do not want to find yourself fitting your business to the software. Before you start looking at individual software packages, plan out your company's requirements.

This is particularly crucial in the CRM arena because different CRM solutions often look quite similar, even if they're very different below the surface. Quite a few CRM solutions were originally made for a single job (generally sales management), and they've evolved over time to take on different tasks. Though they have features which allow them to support certain areas, they still remain much stronger in their original competencies and weaker in other areas.

Start out by planning how you see CRM helping your business. Decide what you’d like to do:

  • Increase sales to an existing customer base.
  • Integrate your customer support and marketing efforts with your sales department.
  • Boost customer satisfaction.
  • Create a single overview of customer relationships.

CRM packages exist which can do any and all of these, however you won't find the software for you unless you know ahead of time what you expect from it.

Work Out in Advance Who Will Lead the Roll-Out

Who in your organization will be responsible for choosing the CRM solution and implementing it?

Answering this simple question can save a great deal of trouble down the line. In medium-sized and larger organizations, this person will need the support of others. Choose the team – including the leader – early, and aim to bring on board team members who have broad support in their areas of the firm.

Plan Out IT Interfaces

One of the most common requirements for a CRM implementation is integration with your company's current applications, such as supply chain and accounting. The planning stages are when you should be listing out which applications you want your CRM solution to support, what information will be exchanged, and the data formats which will be used.

It's not necessary to fix everything in stone at this stage of the process. That will come later on. In the planning stages, you want a general picture of what you want.

Decide If You'll Need Outside Help

If your CRM needs are at all complex, you'll likely need some help from an expert who understands the details of CRM and has been through the implementation process several times. For medium or large organizations, this person is usually a CRM-package specific consultant, who you'll hire on after you choose a solution. Smaller companies have the option of bringing on a value-added reseller, or VAR, who knows their way around several different CRM solutions.

Conclusion

CRM is a tremendously powerful business tool, but takes some planning to implement correctly. Avoid being blinded by the technology, put the needs of the business first, plan everything well in advance, and get input from all the stakeholders. Provided you follow these simple steps, you can see all the benefits you expected, and likely a few more.

Best Online Marketing Results With SEO In Sydney

Choosing the best consultant for search engine optimisation (SEO) in Sydney for your local business will be crucial for a successful online marketing campaign. SEO is a very effective way of marketing a company on the internet. However, SEO processes and technology are continually changing making it difficult to get ranked in search results and stay in the top few organic positions. Consultants providing SEO in Sydney must keep abreast of trends and make adjustments to approaches and campaign strategies to accommodate to those updated requirements. The effectiveness of online marketing depends on the content of the website. SEO consultants and experts know what content should be included and know to position it. Such specialists are skilled in changing a weak website into an effective sales mechanism for a company by:

• Identifying the population of most likely potential customers

• Undertaking research to determine the most frequent search keywords used by these prospects

• Using keyword optimisation techniques to guide prospects to key pages

• Developing long range plans for content which will continue to engage prospects

• Continually improving the site to reflect up to date best SEO practices

Consultants offering SEO in Sydney must follow trends and changes and adapt approaches to continue providing the best service. Some of the current trends affecting search engine optimisation include but are not limited to:

• Increased emphasis on social media platforms like Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Google+ andLinkedin; comments, likes, posts, followers and interaction between a potential customer and a business will all have impact on SEO

• Google+ will have increasing importance in strengthening SEO ranking

• Use of mobile devices to access the web will increase, requiring content to be optimized to take advantage of different platforms; for example, QR codes, Google maps, and mobile voice search will gain in importance

• The quality of content of a website will become increasingly more important

• Guest blogging will add authority to a site, and help increase traffic

There are many consultants and companies offering SEO services in Sydney. Choosing the right one can be critical to maintaining a competitive edge in your business industry both locally and nationally. Below are a few things to expect from a preferred expert:

• Proven capability to work in a similar industry sector with companies of the same size

• Detailed plan for site analysis

• Demonstrated to optimise keywords

• Plan for improving website content and links

• An acceptable value of service and cost

• Plans for communicating progress and ongoing reporting

There have been considerable changes in recent years in the way SEO has been provided, and there will changes to requirements in the future. You need an expert that stays on top of these changing trends and can revise strategy to flow with them. The current direction suggests following accepted white hat SEO strategies, and improving capability for mobile and social platforms. Choosing a consultant for SEO in Sydney who follows these basic guidelines will ensure success of a company's SEO services.

Learn more from the Sydney search engine optimisation company, ROI.

What to Look for When Choosing a Location for Your Corporate Meeting

No matter how many means of electronic communication are available to us now, there's still no better way to get to know someone than to meet with them face to face. This is true for every kind of relationship, including business relationships between individuals and between companies. When you are planning a corporate meeting, whether it is a small meeting including only in-house staff, a meeting with representatives of a single company, or a large conference with many attendees, giving people a chance to work and interact with each other in a variety of ways is one of the keys to achieving success. With that in mind, here are some things you should look for when you choose the site of your next corporate meeting.

The Basics

Regardless of the type of meeting, there are some basics you need to cover, and they’re not surprising if you have already planned or attended a lot of meetings. The first step is to choose an accessible city with transportation available by air, train, or car. If you are not hosting the event participants in a single location, look for the availability of other hotels nearby. Choose a comfortable, reputable hotel if you’re hosting the event at one location where everyone can stay. If you plan to hold your meeting in the same facility, check the quality of their meeting rooms and technical support. Walkable cities are a plus for meeting participants who fly in and don't wish to rent a car. Selecting a city with a range of affordable and diverse dining options is another bonus.

Getting the small details like location right is essential to the success of any meeting. Overlooking these items could cause problems and small nuisances for your guests throughout their stay, making a difference in the way they view the event and your company.

It's best to select a venue in an appealing place, one your meeting participants will look forward to experiencing. If your guests arrive looking forward to their trip, their enthusiasm will carry over into your sessions. On the other hand, if your guests arrive expecting a dull time, you will have difficulty in raising energy and enthusiasm for the meeting itself. If you must choose a smaller city or unfamiliar venue, make a point of looking up information about recreational opportunities, and provide information to "sell" the site to your meeting participants. Give people a reason to look forward to the event, wherever you choose to hold it.

Formal and Informal Activities

One way to get meeting participants interacting and involved is to schedule special events outside your specific meeting times. If you choose a unique activity or location, it will add extra verve to your event and give your guests something to both enjoy and talk about for the rest of the meeting.

Think outside the box for activities to plan in order to intrigue your guests. Look for unique tours of local attractions or facilities such as museums, galleries or historic sites. Sometimes you can get an exclusive "behind-the-scenes" or off-hours tour for your guests, who will appreciate the touch of exclusivity and ability to view an attraction with fewer people than during regular public hours.

If you hold your meeting in an area with a great climate or beautiful scenery, take advantage of the many outdoor activities. While some participants will appreciate traditional business outings such as golf, you can also look for more memorable opportunities. Horseback riding, fishing, outdoor team sports, rope and obstacle courses, walking and hiking tours of scenic areas, and other activities can get meeting participants moving, energized, and interacting with each other to build a strong sense of camaraderie.

Informal Time

Some of the best breakthroughs happen when meeting participants get together on their own time, so planning your meeting in an area with plenty of opportunities of which your guests can take advantage is a plus. If you’re holding your meeting in one location, the availability of a game room, pool or spa, restaurant, or bar can help provide a convenient place for participants to meet and socialize. Having a range of other activities and attractions nearby, either within walking or short driving distance, is also a plus. To help your guests see what's available and reduce the time they need to research, compile a list of activities at the facility or nearby and provide it alongside your meeting materials to encourage your participants to enjoy themselves.

Having a successful corporate meeting is about more than just what happens inside the sessions. Setting your event in the right place and providing the right opportunities for recreation and socializing will energize your guests and help them make strong personal—and business—connections.

Kristine Jenkins is a mom of two lovely boys, whom she lives with in Texas. Kristine is a travel enthusiast and enjoys exploring new cultures, cities and activities. Kristine writes for several travel blogs and is always eager to share her experiences with the world.

What kind of business insurance do I need?

If you are setting up a business, or looking to move from a sole trader to a limited company, then you should spend some time reading up on the legal requirements so that you don’t come unstuck a short way into your journey. There will be tonnes to get your head around in terms of tax, premises fees, expenses and VAT, but one thing you mustn’t forget is insurance for your business. Without adequate insurance your business bubble could burst in no time at all. Claims against businesses are often reported on the news, and unless you’re a multi national corporation with a huge turnover, the figures involved would ruin any company without insurance. So what do you need? Here a few of the biggest types of business insurance for starters:

Public liability

In order to have a business you will have customers who pay you to deliver a product or a service to them. As such, you will have dealings with these people, either on your own premises or when you visit them on theirs. Whenever anyone sets foot in your business premises you are liable for their safety, and should they have an accident you are responsible for any compensation. This is even the case if your premises are your home, but you are conducting business at the time of an accident. Similarly, if you break a client’s property when on a business visit, you are responsible for paying the damages. Public liability insurance covers against all these things.

Professional indemnity

You might need professional indemnity insurance if you run a business that offers advice or a similar service, rather than a physical product or solution. This insurance protects you against claims should you give bad advice to a customer, or they experience hardship as a direct result of your information. This is also an important insurance for those that deal with client’s intellectual property, or have to handle sensitive, personal or financial information that needs to be kept safe.

Employee liability

Employee liability is a must for anyone who has one or more staff members in order to give them peace of mind about any accidents or illness that may befall them at work, and will help you rest in the knowledge that any claims of this sort would be paid for. Obviously, as a boss, you do all you can to prevent any mishaps or danger in the workplace, but accidents happen and not everything can be pre-empted.

You can find out more about public liability, professional indemnity and employee liability insurance at hiscox.co.uk, where there are many other business insurances detailed too. What cover you need very much depends on the type of business you are running and your day-to-day activities. If in doubt it is best to speak to a specialist in business law, as you don’t want to be caught short in the case of a claim, unable to pay the court fees or compensation. Err on the side of caution for ultimate business peace of mind.

Needle in a Haystack: Getting Your YouTube Video Noticed

YouTube is used by marketers the world over to upload videos online. But although posting a video on the site couldn't be easier, getting people to find and view your video is a different problem entirely. Here are some tips to help you get your video noticed so you can start to see those views rack up.Cheap Long Prom Dresses

Focus on Content

The content of your videos is what will determine its overall success. Create a video that is boring, uninspiring or unoriginal, and nothing you can do will get the sorts of viewing figures that you are hoping for.

You need to create a video that has a good chance of being shared. Once people see your video and start sharing it with everyone they know, they will essentially be doing the work for you. Your video could be funny, emotional, useful, or anything else that has some value for the viewers and makes them want to watch and share it.

If it is really useful, people may even download it from YouTube to watch offline using a service like YTD. This is particularly effective when it comes to instructional or educational videos. This could then help to increase its reach even further.

However, let's say that you've got the content sorted out already. What can you do to increase your video's visibility on YouTube?

SEO Your Video

SEO is as important for videos as it is for written content. You need to optimize your video to improve its visibility not just in YouTube but also in the search engines.

You can do this by including important keywords in the video's title – at the same time as making it catchy and descriptive. The same goes for the description, which you should make keyword rich as well as informative. This is especially true for the first few words, which will be the ones that show up in the search results.

Tags are also crucial for SEO. Search engines can use these to find out about your video to increase its visibility, so try to make these keyword rich.

Boost Engagement

Viewer engagement is crucial when it comes to YouTube videos, and you can improve this in a number of ways.

Firstly, get involved with the comments. Interact with those who comment on your video and show that you appreciate their involvement, just like you would on a blog. Secondly, consider making use of annotations within the video. You could link to another of your videos from within it, which could help to keep viewers watching your content for longer.Most Popular Evening Dresses

Also, don't forget to share your video via your blog and social media channels. This could attract more views, and the more popular the video becomes, the higher it will rank when people search for it. The higher it ranks, the more people will see it when they make a search, and so the cycle continues.

Choose the Right Thumbnail

A picture is worth a thousand words, so make sure you choose a good thumbnail for your video. When people have carried out a search and are presented with a list of videos, you want yours to be the one that stands out, and a good thumbnail can draw them in.

Choose from the three that are automatically chosen by YouTube, and try to choose one that is clear, bold and makes the video look more appealing.

Build Up Your Channel

Some people post a single video that becomes an instant hit. However, if you want to use YouTube as a marketing platform, you should focus on building up your channel on the platform – and this will take some time.

Don't just post one video and hope for the best. Post videos regularly and build up your community. You want people to be coming back to your channel on a regular basis to see your videos. You can then market your channel rather than just marketing specific videos, and over time you will begin to attract more viewers.

Get More Attention for Your Video

It's easy to upload videos to YouTube, but it's a lot harder to get them noticed. However, you can help your videos to get more attention by following the above tips. Remember to start with excellent content, and then keep making more videos over time and you should start to see results.

Remember to respect intellectual property with video downloads.

Tony Goldman is an experienced social media manager. He especially enjoys writing about marketing and communication techniques in a digital world.eliteprom.co.uk

Special Considerations for Website Design in Austin

Web Design for Austin SEOHaving a website has become standard practice for today’s Austin business owners. With more and more people searching online via smart phones, tablets, and PCs, the Internet is the modern day Yellow Pages, and your website is a global listing, representing your business to the online world. It’s a brochure that can be viewed by potential customers anywhere at any time, providing free advertising to targeted visitors day in and day out. Due to the importance of having an online presence, your website must be designed using effective web design techniques that will allow it to receive as much traffic and produce as many profits as possible. Let’s take a look at some specific considerations when designing your business website and kicking off your online Austin marketing campaigns.

Cross-Browser Compatibility

First of all, you should consider cross-browser compatibility, because not all Web searchers use the same Internet browser. Your website may look terrific when it’s shown in Safari or Fireox, but if it can’t be clearly viewed in Internet Explorer, you’ll lose out on over 50 percent of all potential customers. In fact, 55 percent of people around the world use Internet Explorer, and the remaining 45 percent use different browsers, so it’s imperative that your site supports multiple browsers.

Keep Navigation in Mind

People should be able to move freely and easily between the pages of your site. Therefore, you should make each page clear and concise, and have clear navigation links as well. At any point during a visitor’s browsing experience, they should know exactly where they are and how to go back to the previous page or home page.

For example, if you have a page about things to do in Austin, users should be able to easily find the page and return to where they came from when they’re done. Studies have shown that visitors leave whenever they experience any confusion, so easy navigation is essential.

Break Up Text for Easy Reading

Website text should always be broken up into short paragraphs, subheadings, bullet points, and so on. For instance, for a “Things to Do in Austin” page, you would want to use bullet points for listing attractions and have short paragraphs with headings for each activity category. Online, people want to be able to quickly scan content to get the information they need, not decipher large blocks of text or feel as though they’re reading an essay.

Optimize Images

If your website has any images on it, which it should, you need to ensure that they’re optimized to the smallest size possible and that there aren’t too many per page. Images look nice, but they also create slow loading times, which only annoy visitors and turn them away.

On the subject of loading times, Austin marketing and Web design firms will also tell you to stay away from scripting languages for visual effects and images, because they only create slow loading times and have even caused browsers to crash. If scripting languages must be used, the code should be exported to a different page where you can reference it when needed. However, some scripts simply aren’t compatible with certain browsers, so you may want to avoid using them altogether.

Lastly, all of your pages should be styled with CSS in order to reduce the amount of code on each page and speed up loading times. CSS will also save you considerable time when making any future website adjustments.

Mark Winston is a professional SEO consultant and founder of http://www.seoservicesaustin.org, a Texas-based digital agency focusing on improving client websites' search placements and internet positions. Outside of work, he enjoys ultimate frisbee and running with his dog, Lester.