Declutter Your Business and Find What Sparks Joy

The new year is almost upon us, and with the new year, a fresh start. People often think of the new year as a new chapter—a chance to start over and set resolutions and goals. With this, it’s only natural to want to leave as much clutter behind as possible so you can start the new year off fresh.

Much like we tidy our homes to get rid of clutter that accumulates over the years, we need to tidy our business and get rid of clutter so we can make room for what matters and keep the things that “spark joy.” Does that phrase sound familiar?

“Spark joy” was made famous by Marie Kondo, a best-selling author of the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Her method, called the KonMari method, teaches people to organize their space to make room for things that “spark joy” or bring meaning to their life.

How can you “spark joy” and use it to declutter your business?

Dedicate yourself to the idea of decluttering

Clutter can start in small ways. You place a document in a random folder in a filing cabinet. And then another. Before you know it, it is full of papers. When a workplace is cluttered, it can affect employees’ cognition, emotions, and behavior, and influence their decision-making and relationships with others. But making sure the workplace is decluttered and tidy can make the workday less stressful. How do you start?

First, make it your goal to remove unnecessary items from your business. Have an end-of-the-year meeting with your team and tell them about your decluttering goals. Get them involved, and together, work to finish what you start. Some obvious areas to tackle first are:

  • Files and documents
  • General office equipment
  • Rules and processes
  • Contact lists
  • Marketing and sales materials

Be mindful

What do you want your business to look like once you’re done? Do you want to have more efficient processes? Up-to-date contact lists? A company that runs efficiently and is a place employees want to work? Having your goals defined and being mindful of them during your cleaning stint will help you focus and stay committed to tossing out the unnecessary.

Start with easy relevancy

Cleaning up your organization can be a big project. Even with the help of your team, the process can seem overwhelming and make you want to give up before you even start. To make it more approachable, begin with the most current and relevant items.

For instance, instead of looking at the old file cabinets of outdated materials, start with the online files your team uses today. Focus on a document audit first to decide what documents can stay and what should be deleted (or moved into an archive folder).

Don’t update those documents yet; just sort them. Do your audit department by department and gain momentum by starting with a category that’s easy and fun for you and your team.

Your next steps with the “keepers” may be to review them for accuracy, update them as necessary, and organize them into an easier-to-find file structure.

Then, after you organize your online documents, shift your focus to the next category of items, such as business equipment, processes, or contact lists. You likely have things you’ve long forgotten about tucked away and gathering dust.

Starting with the easy ones will keep you focused on your goal and from getting overwhelmed.

Keep what sparks joy

Decluttering in the business environment means looking at your items, processes, etc., and asking yourself, “Does this continue to serve a positive purpose?” much like Marie asks homeowners, “Does this spark joy?” Go with your first instinct. If an item “serves a positive purpose,” such as a document you can update, then keep it. If the item does not spark joy; for instance, an outdated document you no longer use, discard it.

Give thanks

Marie suggests that before you discard items, thank them for what they’ve done for you. It may feel a little funny to verbally thank a document or piece of equipment for what it’s done, but it offers recognition and appreciation for how it once helped your business. And it makes the process of letting go a little easier and certainly more fun!

Trust the process

You can use decluttering to organize documents, emails, contact lists, receipts…the list goes on. Decluttering your business isn’t something you can get done over the weekend. It’s a process that takes time. But an organized and decluttered business will spark joy and free up your time and mind to give back to your employees and clients!


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Protecting the Integrity of “The Process”

Processes are a wonderful thing.

They can take mayhem, disorganization, lost time, and frustrated teams and turn them into highly efficient powerhouses. A great process not only creates clarity and ease within a team but also protects crucial elements like the quality of work, boundaries, and trust. But, as with all great things, great processes take time to hammer out. They likely aren’t perfect the first time around. They take tweaking, adjusting, and intentional consideration to develop.

When approached effectively, building a process can be a beautiful example of impactful team building and collaboration. The same is valid on the other end of the spectrum: when processes are developed ineffectively, they can result in dysfunction, frustration, and poor outcomes.

Silos are a process’s worst enemy

Whether your company has 5 or 500 employees, silos can significantly damage your organization. Teams with differing responsibilities are a given, but they don’t need to become silos. The more you allow teams to be walled off from one another, the easier it becomes for destructive processes to begin sneaking into your organization.

Extraordinary processes require collaboration, so your teams— especially your leaders—must be open to collaboration. Processes can only improve when the people involved are expected to question them, challenge them, and offer solutions.

Team review should be an expected part of the development when someone in your organization creates a process. There is nothing more effective at helping improve ideas than having to explain and defend them in a team discussion. It shouldn’t be an argumentative conversation but exploratory and curious in nature. When we question ourselves and open up to outside perspectives and critiques, we can discover holes in our reasoning that we missed or flaws in our assumptions that we haven’t thought of.

Gain new perspective and ease

When creating systems, an outside perspective is a powerful tool; it empowers and creates ease. Even someone not playing a part in new processes can have valuable insight into how to improve them.

You’ve probably experienced processes that weren’t developed with ease of use in mind. Just think about the last time you had to go to the DMV, renew your passport, or apply for a Visa. The very word bureaucratic sends shivers down spines. The Oxford Dictionary defines bureaucratic as “relating to the business of running an organization, or government,” and “overly concerned with procedure at the expense of efficiency or common sense.” 

The phrase “common sense” compounds the concept of community input and collaboration. It’s not the “individual sense” that we all value so highly—it’s the gathered intelligence of the community.


Grow, change, and be flexible

Perspective is constantly growing and changing, so by nature, the systems we build through community input should lack rigidity and can flex and bend as needs and circumstances change. If we allow individual perspectives within our organization to collaborate on finding solutions, challenge and investigate, and upend our ideas, we allow for developing bulletproof systems that serve us and our work.


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Cultivate an Environment with a True Team Culture

Having an environment where employees are happy to be working, enjoy their jobs, and feel like they’re part of a team working to accomplish something bigger may sound like an idea straight out of the movies or from the galleries of stock images. A nirvana possibly attainable by other people, but not your company.

But it is possible to have that type of environment in your company. In any company.

It takes some work, but most importantly, it takes the right work and focusing on the right things. Here are four ideas to think about and some self-assessments to do so you see exactly what challenges you may be facing with your team.

Consider the team environment

A cohesive, well-developed team will consistently outperform any individual, no matter how talented. Ensuring every team member works effectively with the rest of the team is critical for consistent and constantly improving results.

Ask yourself / Ask the team: Thinking about the environment in our organization, is it truly a team working together and helping one another with everyone focused on the same ideas and vision of the company? Or is it a group of individuals who come into work each day and get their jobs done, working in relative isolation or perhaps in silos?

Clarify roles

To perform jobs effectively, everyone needs to have complete clarity of their role and how it contributes to the overall vision and goals of the organization. If people don’t understand how their work impacts the team, the goals, and the clients, then it’s easy to dismiss the work as unimportant and treat it as such.

Ask yourself / Ask the team: How well do our groups and individuals understand their contributions and worth to the organization? Do we have current job descriptions clarifying these ideas for everyone on the team?

Practice accountability

The most successful organizations have built-in accountability systems for every role. Every role should contribute to the company’s success, and without the proper work being performed in each role, the organization cannot thrive.

Ask yourself / Ask the team: What expectations do we have of our people? How do we hold them accountable? Do we have natural systems in place and/or formal systems? 

Be a role model

The organization’s leaders create the vision, set the goals, and set the tone for everything else in the company. They are role models, and how they treat the staff directly correlates to how the staff treats one another and your clients. If your leadership team is excited about your staff, their wellbeing, personal and professional development, and growth, this will positively impact the entire organization. The opposite feelings and attitudes will create a negative environment.

Ask yourself / Ask the team: What is the leadership team modeling with their behaviors? Are we/they a cohesive group or combative and disorganized? How do they/we interact with and communicate with the team? Do current behaviors demonstrate that they/we care about other team members?

Assessing the assessment

If you feel good about your answers, then congratulations! If you didn’t like the answers you had for these questions, then get to work making changes by first asking yourself another question:

What is holding us back from creating an environment where teams thrive?

Your answer may be as simple as, “We just haven’t thought about it,” or “We know it’s a problem, but we didn’t know what to do about it.” Or maybe you have a more systemic problem where the leadership team is the cause of the negative environment.

  1. In any of these cases, you need to start from the top. Fix leadership issues first. Or maybe you simply need to come to a consensus as a leadership team on what needs to be done and then communicate with the whole organization what your plans are.
  2. Next, create clarity for each role and ensure that every role is tied to the vision and goals of the company. Help everyone see how they fit in and develop a sense of worth for each person and every role. Involve the team in this work and communicate with them throughout the process.
  3. Finally, work on natural and formal accountability. Natural accountability comes from team meetings, coaching meetings with supervisors, and peer-level expectations from team members. Formal accountability comes from performance reviews, improvement plans, merit increases, bonus structures, etc. Involve the team in discussing this accountability and communicate with them throughout the process.

No one likes surprises and new structures being dumped on them. Let the team participate and accept ownership through the development process. As you communicate, ask for their input, and follow through on what you talk about, the environment will shift. Stick with it. Don’t back down. It’s not going to be an easy, quick fix, but putting some consistent practices into place will get you off to a good start and provide a foundation you can continue building on.


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Engage Young Talent with Telehealth Benefits

Employees want benefits that allow them to invest in their overall health and wellbeing. One benefit that younger employees especially appreciate, and that is continuing to grow into 2023 and beyond, is telehealth.

What is telehealth?

Telehealth, or telemedicine, lets employees receive high-quality medical care from the comfort of their own homes. While it is not a replacement for urgent care or emergency medicine, it is an option for people who want fast, convenient, and affordable care for injuries and illnesses.

Two years after the start of the pandemic, there has been an almost 11% increase in the use of telehealth services. In another survey, nearly 45% of people reported using some form of telehealth, whether from a mobile app, a subscription service (such as a mail-order pharmacy), or a computer via telehealth software. Also, the use among young adults ages 18-34 remains high, with 61% using telehealth services.

If you have telehealth services or are considering offering them as part of your benefits package, how can you engage younger employees and inform them about telehealth?

Let them know of the convenience of telehealth

More than 70% of younger generations prefer telehealth because of its convenience, with 44% of Gen Z and Millennials saying they may switch healthcare providers if they don’t continue to offer telehealth.

Telehealth doesn’t tether employees to any one healthcare provider, and they will have 24/7 access to resources and providers so they can be informed, stay on top of their health, and schedule appointments that best suit their schedule. They can talk to a doctor within minutes instead of driving and waiting in a doctor’s office. Depending on their symptoms, they may be referred to urgent care or the emergency room, but the convenience of accessing health care whenever they need to can be an attractive option.

Continually communicate the benefits of telehealth

Did you know that 40% of workplace injuries can be assessed virtually? This means when employees use telehealth, they can get treated faster, stay healthier, and return to work sooner. Communicate about your telehealth benefits by giving examples of how it can be used in easy-to-understand language, such as “If you wake up sick and cannot come into work, here are the steps you can take to get treatment.” This way, employees will understand exactly how your telehealth benefits work.

Address underlying privacy concerns

Since telehealth takes place on a digital platform or mobile app, employees may have privacy concerns and wonder if their personal and medical information will stay private. Telehealth communications between people and their telehealth professionals should all be HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) compliant and secure. Verify with your particular provider so you can confidently share the security message with your employees.

Discuss how telehealth can improve access to healthcare

If some of your employees live in rural or remote areas, they may not have many options for healthcare providers, or the nearest doctor’s office may be too far for them to conveniently drive to. Telehealth can enable your employees to receive the care they need, no matter where they’re located.

Mention safety and social distancing

Employees may still be concerned about COVID long after the pandemic stops. Telehealth services allow social distancing by preventing in-office interactions and potential exposure to COVID and other illnesses such as the flu. This knowledge can ease their minds and give them a sense of security.

Meet employees where they are

As an employer, supporting your younger employees and letting them know you have their backs regarding their physical and mental health demonstrates your commitment to their wellbeing. By offering them telehealth and conveying the benefits of telehealth, you let them put their health first and give them peace of mind to get the care they need anytime and anywhere.


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Time Management? Try Energy Management

Have you ever heard of the spoons theory?

Though it is popular among people with chronic illnesses, such as arthritis or multiple sclerosis, it can apply to anyone. With the spoon theory, energy is related to spoons, and everyone gets a certain number of “spoons” daily. Some tasks take more spoons, and others take fewer spoons. Once you’re out of “spoons,” you’re out of energy and have no more to give to people or tasks.

In our world of go go go, people tend to cut out sleep. They stay up late and get up early. They work over 40 hours a week and work 12-to-14-hour days. By the time they get home, they are exhausted and maybe have time to eat dinner, shower, and get a few hours of sleep before getting up and doing it all over again. People go into the next day (and the day after that) with fewer spoons.

There has to be a better way

Time is a finite resource—it has a limit. Once it’s gone, you cannot get it back. So we do more to try and manage time by working longer hours to get everything done. And working longer hours does nothing other than deplete your physical, mental, and emotional energy and lead to burnout. 52% of employees feel burnt out.

But what about energy? Energy is an infinite resource, which means it can be replenished. Instead of managing work-life around a clock or a calendar, why not manage it around energy?

Energy management has always been a thing

Managing time means dividing the workday into tasks and determining how much time is needed to complete those tasks. Time management, however, doesn’t factor in the need to recharge because some tasks might need more physical, mental, or emotional energy than others.

How can you and your employees replenish energy and give yourselves more spoons so you can be more present and focused?

Pay attention to your attention

Some like to be powerhouses and to work through the day without ever taking a break. When working, pay attention to your attention. When it seems to drift, or you find yourself feeling tired or hungry, take that as your cue to stop what you’re doing. Take a walk, get a snack or some lunch, or do some meditation. The key point here is to step away from the desk or the screen—your work will still be there when you get back.

Throw away the idea of multitasking

 As mentioned in previous blogs, multitasking is a myth. Brains cannot focus on more than one task at a time; the more we focus on, the faster our energy is depleted. Give yourself time to focus on a task that allows your brain to relax while focusing on a single activity. Fit no-electronics time into your day and do something like pick a favorite book off your bookshelf and read.

Eat well, exercise, and rest

These health and wellness facts might surprise you: 

Instead of succumbing to the urge to sleep less, eat a lot of junk food, and sit down for hours on end, structure good sleep into your night and movement in your day. Make time to exercise, get up and move around, and make time for some “you time,” where you relax and enjoy a hobby. Your energy reserves will replenish, and your body will thank you.

Set your boundaries

Create boundaries for how much you want to get done in a day. If, for instance, you are a content writer and you find writing blogs to be particularly draining, set reasonable expectations for what else you’ll accomplish on days when you write blogs. You can adjust boundaries as needed.

Gain more energy in your days – and more spoons

You want to end the day with some energy and spoons left in your mental drawer. Rethink the idea of time management, and instead of structuring tasks around the time it takes to complete them, structure tasks around your energy—and encourage your employees to do the same.


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Team-Building Activities to Engage Remote Workers

With the growing popularity of remote and hybrid work, leaders need to understand how remote work can affect team building and learn about activities that can strengthen relationships. Leaders must create a virtual culture that encourages employees to build authentic connections and an environment where employees are excited to come together and collaborate, no matter their time zone and geographical area.

Importance of remote team building

When you’re in a physical office, you’re surrounded by your team and have a support system. You get to know each other’s personalities, quirks, and hobbies at the breakroom’s water cooler.

These daily interactions facilitate expectation-setting and relationship-building. Employees are constantly exposed to their peers’ behaviors and can grasp performance and communication expectations. Social interactions also foster workplace engagement, trust, and satisfaction. A Gallup study found that employees with an office buddy are seven times more likely to be engaged in their jobs, better at engaging customers, and produce higher quality work.

Building relationships, no matter where you are at, takes work. Being remote can make it harder, making it essential that leaders engage their employees in team-building activities.

Team-building activities

You can keep your employees engaged and connected wherever they are by building a fun virtual team-building plan. Consider these popular activities for remote teams:

Encourage check-ins

When employees do not have opportunities to “bump” into each other at the water cooler, they miss out on those “getting to know you” moments. If you don’t work with someone regularly, interacting becomes even more challenging because they don’t have those few Zoom minutes to chat about life. Consider encouraging your employees to schedule regular calls with one another just to hang out. The point of the call is not to talk about work, though! You want to encourage them to talk about non-work-related topics. Another idea to consider is creating a virtual break room where people can hang out on their lunch break or if they need some quick socializing to relax.

One-on-one or small group check-ins are great for team building because people start to understand who others are outside of work. The check-ins can also create a snowball of new activities when people realize they have shared interests. Maybe some people realize they love movies or reading books; they can take that common ground and create a virtual movie or book club with virtual meet-ups or discussions over a company chat channel!

Consider peer recognition

A key benefit of being part of a team is the sense of community and spirit. Team members come together to support and celebrate one another. Nurturing this community and support system can be more challenging for remote teams, leaving remote employees to be 10% less likely to say someone cares and recognizes their contributions. Remote employees cannot freely get up and go to their peer’s desk to say, “Great job!” or “Thank you!”

One way to foster team celebrations is through peer recognition. When employees appreciate and celebrate each other’s hard work, it brings the team together, regardless of location. Peer recognition can also help with the negative impact of not working close to others.

Create non-work-related communication channels

Remote work can be lonely sometimes, and people need an outlet to share good news. You can give people this outlet by creating Slack or Teams channels for these conversations. The channel does not have to be merely for good news, though. You can create different channels to get people talking, such as a recipe channel or a random channel for people to send snapshots of their day.

No matter the message, it can be a great conversation starter and create a sense of community.

Sustain the team

You can foster a team that thrives together, supports one another, and collaborates to innovate and achieve organizational goals by creating opportunities for your employees to connect. But your leadership does not end there!

Team building, nurturing connections, and maintaining relationships is a process that needs constant attention. Leaders need to implement team-building activities and encourage them regularly. Remind people about their check-ins, participate in the communication channels with your good news, and celebrate your team.


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5 Employee Benefits Trends to Watch in 2023

Soon, it will be 2023, and with it comes deciding on employee benefits that not only help you attract new employees but retain your current ones. Your peers and colleagues are keeping this top of mind, as a study shows that 53% of small business employers and 70% of large business employers are already planning to up or enhance their benefits offerings.

Here are five benefits trends to keep an eye on in 2023.

Full coverage of healthcare premiums

A survey shows that healthcare is still a worry for employees and their families. Currently, the national average of coverage for healthcare premiums is 83%, but something to consider when attracting and retaining employees is paying 100% of an employee’s healthcare premiums. Some employers embracing this trend ahead of 2023 feel it will benefit their bottom line and positively impact employees’ overall well-being.

Financial benefits

The pandemic continues to affect people financially, with half of U.S. workers saying the pandemic will make it harder for them to achieve their financial goals, and 62% of U.S. workers stressed by their current financial situation. Offering a 401(k) and monthly stipends are great financial support. To supplement that, you can help employees feel secure in achieving their financial goals by offering assistive tools like financial tracking software to help them regain financial agency and improve their spending behaviors.

Caregiver benefits

Did you know that caregivers make up half of the U.S. workforce? Did you also know that of those caregivers, 70% of them feel they’ll have to leave the workforce to properly care for their loved ones? You may not even know if your employees are caregivers. If you want to offer a caregiver benefit, survey your employees to find out how many of them are caregivers and how much time they spend caregiving a week. Then, use the information gathered to give your employees the needed resources.

Bereavement and grief benefits

When employees lose a loved one or a beloved pet, they need time to grieve, and they need employers who understand their grief and are willing to work with them. Grief affects employees’ work performance and productivity, and you don’t want your employees to feel like they must soldier on through the workday during a difficult time in their lives. Having bereavement and grief benefits lets your employees know you have their back.

Family planning

Family planning is important for employees, as 30 to 50% of a workplace’s employees are in the stage where they want to start or expand their family. The pandemic shifted priorities and focus, and more people want to spend time with their family, regardless of whether they are beginning or expanding it—both mothers and fathers alike. While you may already have a PTO (Paid Time Off) policy, consider offering a separate policy for family leave so parents can take the additional time they need to spend with their children.

Contributing to work-life balance

Overall, for 2023, it seems the trend is offering benefits that contribute to an employee’s work-life balance. Letting them know they don’t have to choose between work and whatever is going on in their lives goes a long way. As always, survey and ask your employees what benefits they want—and need. Reviewing and updating your employee benefits will help you stay competitive in the job market and may help you improve your bottom line by improving employee productivity, loyalty, and retention.


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What is Leftover Toxicity, and Why Should You Care?

A toxic work environment can hit any business with lethal force, driving up turnover rates, reducing productivity, and damaging reputation. Despite our best effort, toxic behaviors can often creep into our teams unnoticed. They can be subtle—even unintentional—but their existence will only solidify if they aren’t addressed. One of the most impactful things you can do to maintain a positive company culture and work environment is to address it consistently.

A genuinely excellent company culture is a bit of a rare thing. Most people have worked in environments where they were expected to show up sick, work long hours, never call out, and bend over backward to please a cranky manager. It’s even more common in specific industries.

The service industry is a perfect example of an industry that often relies on employees sacrificing their health and well-being to save their jobs. If an employee calls out sick even once, they can seriously damage their standing at work. Not only do their coworkers resent them for having to cover a shift, but their boss begrudges having to make last-minute calls to employees who weren’t supposed to work that day.

Bringing old baggage

Now consider a new hire who just came from that work environment. While their personality might be fantastic, they may have leftover baggage in the form of toxic behaviors they developed to succeed in their last position. So, what happens to these behaviors when that person gets hired at a new company? They don’t go away. While the person might have left the toxic environment, the behaviors they developed to succeed there can linger. And sooner or later, those behaviors will affect the rest of your team.

Despite a person’s best intentions, leftover toxic behaviors can significantly affect their approach to their job. Whether they developed these behaviors at their last company or whether they developed them while growing up in their family, it can be hard to rid oneself of them once they’ve been ingrained.

Here are examples of common behaviors stemming from leftover toxicity:

  • Showing up to work when sick
  • Working long hours unnecessarily
  • Making excuses for not responding right away to an email or communication
  • Not using allotted PTO
  • Scrambling to come up with answers when a simple “I don’t know” or “I can find out” would suffice
  • Bragging about how busy they are

This pattern of behaviors and beliefs stems from a desire to survive. The key is to help people recreate their understanding of what it takes to survive and thrive in their new environment.

Build a communal vision

Ask your employees to describe what a positive workplace environment looks like. Encourage them to get specific. Together, paint a picture of this positive workplace. How would people be recognized for their work? What type of boundaries would there be to protect their well-being? Ask them to discuss past work experiences they disliked and uncover what went wrong. Then ask how they would have improved the situation. Ask them what behaviors they would avoid.

By helping them put a voice to their desired work environment, you can help them build self-awareness around those behaviors that reflect a poor work environment. The leftover behaviors they’ve been carrying around will become easier to identify and halt.

Always respond

Even with the best intentions and heightened awareness, some may still struggle to let go of their toxic behaviors. When this happens, leaders must know how to respond and redirect the employee. The components that make up a positive work environment must constantly be reinforced.

  • Boundaries to protect work-life balance
  • Clear expectations around communication
  • Reasonable deadlines and manageable workloads
  • Psychological safety
  • Prioritized employee wellness

If an employee talks about how late they worked into the night, avoid praising them for overworking themselves. Instead, find time to ask them if they have too much on their plate or if they need help with their work. Remind them that working late consistently isn’t expected, nor will it help them advance in their career. Remind them that a well-rested employee with a strong work-life balance is more productive and valuable than a tired, burned-out employee. Take note of who they were talking to and reinforce that message to them as well.

The key is consistently showing up in the face of toxic behaviors with a response. As your team sees how you respond to toxicity, they will develop new behaviors that help them survive and thrive in a positive environment.


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Make Your Customers Happy With a Stress-Free Customer Experience

Whether you’re a B2B or B2C company, you’ve got customers and an audience. And it’s their happiness, satisfaction, and loyalty that will ensure your long-term success. You’ve got a great product they love and great sales and services teams, but that isn’t enough to ensure your customer has a good experience with your company.

All too often, the person on the other side of the phone, screen, or table is inundated with unnecessary, complicated, confusing, and overwhelming information. And this can happen without you ever knowing it. Scary!

The difficulty for companies is understanding what’s most important to the client. What seems important and relevant to you doesn’t necessarily track for the customer or client. When you think about it, it’s obvious why. When embedded in a system or project, you can see it from all angles and need as much information as possible to understand how best to execute it. But when you need a functional product, you don’t need to know how it’s made or why it was made with a particular part—you just need it to work.

The happiest customer isn’t necessarily the one with the most amount of information. Happy customers are a result of a successful customer experience that is clear, easy to execute, and personalized.

Turn down the volume

The human brain burns 11 calories a minute, and as a survival technique, will start to tune out superfluous information that isn’t necessary for its survival to conserve calories. So what does that mean for your company? It means that everything your customer receives from you should be relevant to their specific needs and provided when those needs arise.

This concept continues to be critical throughout the customer experience, from the first time they visit your website to receiving the final product from you. It can be applied to every interaction you have, both internally and externally.

As an example, think about your website for a minute. What is the first thing it says about you? If it says, “We’ve been in business for over 30 years and are trusted advisors,” you’re already giving the viewer information that isn’t critical and doesn’t speak to their needs. The visitor doesn’t need to know how long you’ve been in business; they need to know if you have a solution to their problem.

Additionally, if your customer has to slough through a bunch of information they don’t yet need to find out if your solution works for them, they’ll lose interest and move on. And this isn’t just relevant to prospects. It can become even more cloudy once they begin working with you.

If you’re working on a project for a client, there are countless ways you can drown out the critical parts of your communications. Overloading them with too many choices, for instance. Or inundating their inbox with overly detailed progress reports. Or hijacking your review meetings to go over topics that aren’t relevant or essential. The list goes on and on.

Chances are, somewhere down the line of your customer experience, your company is guilty of one or more of these. Don’t freak out though. You’re not alone. Refining your customer experience is hard. So how do you mitigate this problem?

Have one person in charge of communication

Once a client is on board, designate a single person on your team to oversee all communication. This will help clarify your voice and streamline communication efficiencies. It will also help your client develop a more personal relationship with your company and help them build confidence in communicating with you.

Pick one communication platform

These days, companies often work on multiple platforms. One company may use Slack, Trello, and email to communicate about projects and across teams. This may be fine internally, but if you’re asking your client to move between communication channels to talk to you, you’re asking too much. Make it as simple as possible. Pick one and stick with it.

Be clear and straightforward

When you start a project with a client, set clear expectations around how they should communicate with you, when they should expect a response, and what the communication will look like. This will help build trust between your client and business and provide them with a clear understanding of what they’ll get from you as you work together. Setting clear expectations will also reduce the risk of frustrating, confusing, or disappointing your customer. That is, if you stick to what you tell them.

Don’t get comfortable

In the end, the best thing you can do is to ensure you never get too comfortable. The world of communication is constantly evolving and it’s up to you to stay on top of the changing expectations and needs of your clients and prospects. Take the time to ask them how you could improve their experience, listen to the feedback you get from your team, do your research, and don’t be afraid to change up your tactics. It’s a never-ending process, but it’s worth its weight in gold.


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What To Do About Quiet Quitting

“Quiet quitting” is the hottest new buzzword and trend. You see articles written about how more and more employees are quietly quitting and how employers are concerned about this “new trend” and its effect on their business.

But quiet quitting isn’t new. It’s a new term for an old behavior.

The great divide

Quiet quitting is when an employee doesn’t leave their job but stops going above and beyond—stubbornly sticking to their job description.

There is a debate between some employers and employees about the nature of quiet quitting. Some employers worry about employees’ productivity, while some employees argue that quiet quitting is redefining work and life boundaries, as well as protecting their mental health.

Research shows that quiet quitting happens because of the work culture—which starts at the top. Employers who aren’t effective leaders have more people quiet quit (or outright leave to look for new positions).

The quiet quitting test—and cheat sheet

Whatever side of the divide you may fall on, quiet quitting comes down to employees’ mental health, employee engagement, and employee satisfaction. If any of these are low, employees may reduce their energy spend at work, doing the bare minimum. They may already have one foot out the door. If you’re concerned that an employee might be quiet quitting, ask yourself the following questions, and then take steps to answer and address them.

Do your employees seem burned out?

Notice the signs. Do your employees seem exhausted (beyond just needing that extra cup of coffee in the morning)? Do they seem more isolated and cut off from their colleagues? How do they respond to new projects? Do they take the initiative to contribute or offer up their ideas?

What you can do: First, you have, hopefully, established a culture of trust with an open-door policy where employees feel they can come to you if they have issues. Regardless, keep the lines of communication open. Talk with your employees. Maybe they’re in the process of moving, or a loved one is ill. Work with them to find solutions, whether readjusting their workload or giving them paid time off to deal with what’s happening at home. When employees feel supported, they can give their focus to their issues and come back with a clear head and less stress.

Do your employees seem consistently disengaged?

Are they attending meetings but not contributing? Do they put off projects and wait till the last minute to do them—and then not turn in quality work? Do they engage with their colleagues about work and non-work areas in their lives?

What you can do: When employees are disengaged, it usually means they feel bored, stuck in their position, or unvalued. Consider offering opportunities like access to online courses or tuition reimbursement so that they can add to their skill set. Look at their job role. If their position and role haven’t changed much, reevaluate and see if any new skills can be added, or offer them new projects that will be challenging but that you know they can accomplish. Let your employees know you value their contribution, and they will give you their best in return.

Has their personality taken a U-turn?

Are they turning in work that’s full of errors and mistakes? Are they making excuses? Are they showing up later and later to work—or not coming in at all (and not notifying you)? Are they becoming more argumentative?

What you can do: First, gather your observations instead of jumping to conclusions. For example, if they turn in work full of errors and mistakes, note the assignments and projects. Then, talk to the employee. Tell them you’ve noticed their quality of work has changed and ask them what’s going on—sometimes, the employee may not even realize they’re turning in work full of errors and mistakes. Making them aware of what they’re doing and developing a plan of action together will help create clarity about what needs to happen next while also providing them a chance to air their frustrations or talk about the challenges they’ve been struggling with.

Are they financially struggling?

Do your employees often take or ask for paycheck advances? Are they borrowing or withdrawing money early from their 401(k)—or not investing at all? Is there an increased frequency of days they’re taking off?

What you can do: One word: compensation. Employees have multiple expenses: housing, healthcare, student loan debt, and gas, just to name a few. To ease the burden of these expenses, consider your compensation, which has two parts. The first part of compensation is benefit offerings. For instance, you can offer health insurance or healthcare savings cards, so the cost of getting sick goes down, or you can provide monthly stipends that employees use for personal expenses (bills, student loan debt, etc.).

Also, consider the other part of compensation: salary. Are your employees being paid a fair and competitive salary (one that is at least the average market pay for their position)? If you are not already, conduct compensation conversations (at the very least) yearly. Review their role and what else factors into their total compensation, like retirement funds or Paid Time Off. Remember to show your appreciation for the work they do and how they contribute.

Questions to ask yourself as a leader

If your employees still seem burned out, disengaged, or completely changed, you may worry about your leadership style and if that may lead employees to quietly quit. If this is the case, take a step back and give yourself an honest, objective test. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you go out of your way to ensure employees feel valued?
  • Do employees feel comfortable talking to you?
  • Do you have positive relationships and connections with employees?
  • Do you keep your word and do what you promised?
  • Do employees trust your opinions and advice?
  • Do you feel comfortable talking with employees about compensation?

If the answer to one or more of these questions is no, turn this into a learning opportunity. Ask your employees for feedback on how you can get better, and then implement that feedback. By learning how you can improve, your employees will see this and learn to trust you and your approach, and the possibility they will quiet quit decreases.

Even the best organizations will have employees who are quiet quitters. That is inevitable. But when you trust your employees, care about them, and help them feel comfortable engaging with you and their colleagues, they feel like a valuable part of your organization. And an employee who feels valued is an employee who will want to contribute—and stay.



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