Less Personal Space at Work

We live in an era of the cubicle worker, with each employee isolated in their own personal space. Rather than increasing productivity, however, this practice stunts creativity and collaboration in the workplace. Fortunately, millennials are fighting back against the culture of isolation and demanding more flexibility and mobility in their work space. Here are the upcoming changes and their impact on personal space in the office.

1. Collaborative Spaces

Not only is the new generation of workers changing the way we work, but they are changing the physical spaces we work in. Rather than dividing an office into cubicles, forward-thinking companies are developing collaborative, shared work spaces for their employees. This may be an open area in their office or a rented space for remote workers to gather and share ideas. Large desks, whiteboards, projectors, and other collaborative tools are becoming more common in the workplace.

2. Telecommuting

We’re incredibly connected as a culture, and as a result, companies are starting to see the appeal of a remote workforce. Employees can have the same level of engagement, but without the overhead of office spaces or the stress of a morning commute. This structure satisfies the millennial’s need of flexibility, while maintaining a strong connection with their peers through the use of technology. Because of this, companies may have work forces scattered all over the country (or the globe), increasing their ability to share ideas and establish a creative think tank.

3. “Gig Culture”

Not only are employees more interested in picking up freelance work in addition to their full-time jobs, but companies are starting to see the benefit of hiring contract workers for projects both large and small. As a result, the regular staff will have exposure to new and interesting coworkers, encouraging the sharing of ideas and techniques that they may not encounter on a daily basis. This can be a great learning opportunity for full-timers and freelancers alike.

4. More Technology

Each of these developments demands an increased use in technology. Telecommuters and freelancers need video conferencing software, instant messengers, and project management tools to stay on track, while collaborative spaces require the ability to share screens and ideas in a constructive, effective way. As a result, companies will begin investing more time and money in new technology, and employees will spend more time interfacing with these technologies.

Millennials are taking the working world by storm, and in many ways, the changes they cause are beneficial. The working environment is more creative than ever and it fosters a sense of collaboration that makes the development of great ideas possible. For millennials, this is a very exciting time to be developing a career, as you have the very real opportunity to change the way your company works. So embrace these new changes and look forward to the new opportunities and challenges to come.

The Power of Thanks

You know how much you appreciate your employees, but do they know? Every workplace can get hectic and it’s easy to take things for granted, including the great work your employees, co-workers, supervisors and even clients do. But if you make a conscious effort to say “thank you” more often, you’ll realize powerful results.

Research from advisory services firm Bersin & Associates has added numbers to the common-sense idea that saying thanks is good for you, and your business. The Bersin study found that companies with excellent employee recognition skills are 12 times more likely to generate strong business results than companies that don’t.

The specifics of thanking employees

According to Bersin & Associates, businesses that focused on rewarding their employees realized a 14% improvement in employee engagement, productivity, and customer service. The study looked further at these gratitude-prone companies, and found that they all share three common traits:

  • Focused recognition programs that include feedback and thanks from both managers and peers
  • Recognition that ties directly to business goals and company values to reinforce strategy
  • Open and transparent access to the recognition program, allowing employees to recognize anyone, and see who else is being recognized

 

Here are some tips on the best ways to thank your employees, co-workers, customers, or anyone in your business environment—and boost your productivity and profits.

Don’t just say thanks—mean it

People can tell when you’re not being sincere, and offering empty praise just because you feel like you should can backfire. Thank your employees when they do something you appreciate, in a general and heartfelt manner.

Include the why

The best thanks are specific. A lot of employees have heard “great job” or “keep up the good work,” but this vague praise really doesn’t mean anything. Instead, spell out exactly what you appreciate—you might say “thanks for handling that difficult customer in a tactful way,” or “I appreciate you staying late at the office yesterday, we wouldn’t have finished that project on time without you.” Get in the habit of starting your gratitude with “thank you for…”.

Break out the stationery

In a world brimming with texts, emails, posts and tweets, a handwritten thank-you note is really something special. Written thanks, whether presented on a nice sheet of paper or a simple thank-you card, can mean a lot to the recipient. They’ll not only appreciate that you took the time to write a thank-you note, but they’ll also have something they can show others—concrete proof that they’re appreciated.

Make your handwritten thanks personal, and vary your message so you aren’t writing the same thing to everyone. Here are some example thank-you note starters you can use:

  • We really appreciate your help with…
  • I’m so grateful for…
  • Without you, we wouldn’t have been able to…so thank you.
  • I’ve learned so much from you…
  • I think others will benefit from your work. Can I share it with…
  • You always give 100 percent, and I really appreciate it…
  • We’re so lucky to have you as part of our team…

 

Don’t wait to start saying thank you more often in the workplace. The more often you offer your genuine and heartfelt appreciation, the happier your employees (and clients) will be to work with you—and they’ll work even harder to keep receiving thanks.

5 Surprising Benefits of Manager Employee Interactions

Employee motivation is the key to a happy and productive workplace. But unless your managers are interacting with your employees, the potential for motivation is slim.

It’s important to remember that money isn’t the only motivator—it’s not even necessarily the biggest. Motivation is often personal, driven to a large degree by individual circumstances, but there are some universal motivators that can fuel any employee’s performance. Among them are recognition, non-financial rewards, increased autonomy, and simple human connections, all of which can be achieved through greater manager-employee interaction.

Here are five ways managers can interact more with employees, and the motivational benefits these interactions achieve.

  1. Make Interaction a Daily To-Do

In the business world, nothing happens unless it’s a priority. Managers are often pressed for time and will focus on work-related issues before less urgent matters like talking with their staff.

Employee interaction can become a priority if managers realize that it truly is a work-related issue. Talking with your employees daily helps you build rapport, get to know them better, and lets them get to know you—so that “open door” policy you have truly feels like an open door.

It doesn’t take much. Simply greeting employees at the start of the day, saying goodbye at the end, and working in a few quick conversations about your employees’ work projects, personal life, or even weekend plans can go a long way toward building a happy and productive work environment.

  1. Help Employees Manage Themselves

Autonomy and a sense of purpose can be powerful motivators. Managers can help to build these motivational tools by empowering their employees to self-manage performance, development, and career progression.

Ask each of your employees to draft a yearly set of goals and development plans, and make the time to sit down with them individually for discussion and refinement. When your employees play an active role in their own career performance, they’ll be more motivated to deliver—and less in need of direct management.

  1. Reward Employees on a Personal Scale

Financial rewards for great performance is standard and accepted, but not all of your employees may need, or even want, extra money. Instead of defaulting to monetary rewards, ask your employees directly what they’d like or appreciate in return for recognition-worthy efforts.

Some may still want money. Others might prefer an extra day off or flexible scheduling, branded items or company stock, or even public recognition. Personalizing rewards and recognition for your employees demonstrates that you care about their interests and truly value their contributions to the team.

  1. Take the Time to Talk Shop

You may be surprised to discover that your employees can have valuable business insights that may benefit your department, or the entire company.

Employees are the closest people to actual work processes—and the customers you serve. They’re often able to identify the best opportunities for improvements, innovation, and increased customer satisfaction. So turn your small talk into shop talk, and stay tuned for important insights into your organization.

  1. Make the Little Things Count

No matter what kind of overall environment your company has, it’s the little things that make the difference. When interacting with employees, keep in mind that small, day-to-day actions—from the way you manage performance in general to the tone you set by greeting (or not greeting) employees each morning—can have the greatest impact.

Often, all it takes is a heartfelt “thank you” to restore disengaged employees and spark motivation. The more effort you put into manager-employee interactions, the more your company will benefit from happier and more productive employees.

 

What creative ways have you discovered to motivate and recognize your team members?

4 Ways to Connect Employees to Your Brand, Using Social Media

As a business, you’re looking to brand your products or services in ways that appeal to your target audiences. An effective branding strategy is consistent across every channel and touch point where customers interact with your brand—and that includes your employees.

Employees who are knowledgeable and excited about your brand can be your most powerful assets. These brand ambassadors will spread the word about your company without being told, increasing your brand’s visibility and strengthening its credibility.

But how can you turn your employees into brand ambassadors?

Here are four “real world” ways you can engage your employees to connect to your brand, and create an army of ambassadors to drive word-of-mouth and increased revenues.

  1. Encourage employees to share your brand: use social media at work

For a long time, most companies limited or banned social media usage in the workplace. Sites like Facebook and Twitter were considered unproductive, and even potentially damaging to the company’s reputation.

However, these restrictive policies end up backfiring more often than not. In addition, keeping employees away from social media is closing off a potentially powerful avenue for building your brand and engaging customers. Instead, invite employees to use social media in a positive and constructive way. They’ll spend less time hiding their social media usage, and more time developing great relationships with customers and generating leads.

Not everyone is comfortable using social media, so it’s a good idea to offer training for employees who may be interested in promoting your brand through social networks, but aren’t sure how to get started.

  1. Communicate openly and clearly with your employees

One of the biggest challenges employees face in using social media for business is what they should share publically, and what should stay internal. You can make sure employees know what’s acceptable by communicating frequently, and maintaining transparency about appropriate social media usage.

When you have something that employees can share with their social media networks, broadcast the information on every channel at work. Some people might miss a company email, but attend a meeting. Some may not check the bulletin board, but read every email that lands in their inbox. When you make a concerted effort to get the word out, your employees will follow suit.

Employees feel much more comfortable sharing company information on social media when they know the company approves. Don’t keep them in the dark about what to share, and what to keep private.

  1. Focus on the right channels – know your audience

You can amplify the effectiveness of your employees’ branding efforts by finding out which channels are best suited for your particular business, and asking employees to work through those channels.

The audiences for various social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest can be very different. Your company might flourish on Facebook, but flop on LinkedIn. You may drive great engagement on Pinterest, but fizzle out on Twitter.

Look into the various social media platforms and find our which are most effective for your business. Then, share that information with your employees so they understand not only which platforms they should be using, but how they will drive success.

  1. Make it easy for employees to engage others

Everyone wishes they had more time in a day, including your employees. While some may want to participate in your company’s social media program, they may not have the time to figure it all out, or to come up with interesting content and status updates to share across their networks.

Make it easy by providing content for all of your employees to share. This will not only save them time, but will also help you ensure that your employees maintain a consistent company voice across platforms and channels. Ask employees to follow the main company pages on various social media sites, and repost any content their individual networks might enjoy. The easier it is, the more often they’ll share.

 

Let’s connect our companies on social media – follow launchbox on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Secrets Behind Retaining Millennials

“I’m not going to hire millennials because they are just going to leave in a few years anyway, so what is the point.” If we had a dollar for everytime we heard that we would be retired on a tropical island by now. On the surface, this statement raises a valid point: why hire people that will just leave? Those darn millennials are just so indecisive!

At launchbox, we find quite a few faults with this statement.

The first is that we, as a society, are getting to a point where we are no longer going to have the option to bypass hiring millennials. According to CICSO’s Millennial Research, “75,000,000 millennials are joining or looking to join the work force” and “by 2025 about 75% of the workforce will be millennials”. What are you going to do, scour the 25% of non-millennial workforce until you find a 50 year old willing to accept a starting salary? Good luck with that. Plus millennials think differently, are innovative, and create real diversity in the workplace. How about that for changing results against your competitors?

The second flaw with the reasoning is that millennials wouldn’t leave companies so frequently if these companies would learn to attract and retain millennials. Companies can’t expect to treat millennials the same way they treated incoming employees 30 years ago and achieve the same result. In fear of sounding too obvious, the generations are vastly different!

Millennials grew up in the digital age, and they don’t know any differently than to use the technology they grew up with. Information is at their fingertips, and everything is immediate. They would rather work harder than longer, which frankly makes a lot of sense to me. If I could complete a project in 4 hours with the same level of quality as a co-worker who took 8 hours but wasn’t as efficient, why wouldn’t you.

Millennials work differently, and have different expectations from a workplace. If you and your company met more of those expectations, maybe millennials wouldn’t ‘jump around’ as often.

Is it your duty to meet the needs of your employees? You ultimately get to choose.  Zappos and Google chose, and who wants to work there: most everybody. You may ask, why? Because they just get it.

As always, we’d love to know what you think.

 

Labor Day: The New (labor) Rules for Millennials

With the memories of Labor Day still on our minds while at work today, its important to keep in mind why we celebrate the holiday. Not only do we appreciate all the work we do everyday, but we are given the opportunity to appreciate all the hard work others do that makes the world go round.

This insightful blog takes an interesting spin on Millennials and hard work.

The author’s perspective is right in line with lunchbox’s views of millennials. The article touches on research about millennials and their ability to innovate the workplace. It also lists some interesting advice to millennials that is new and refreshing.

Check out the article and let us know what you think!

Millennial Managers

There is no avoiding millennials! For those of you not embracing the millennial generation and all they have to offer: you better start! According to The Deloitte Millennial Survey, by 2025, Millennials will comprise 75% of the global workforce.

At launchbox we typically focus on bridging the gap between millennials and managers, but what happens when a millennial becomes your manager? In Good Company comedically highlighted this situation (although 99.9% of millennial bosses will not date your daughters, but we make no promises).

Millennials as managers have the same attributes as when they were employees, although it now becomes increasingly important to learn to work with them. And before you write off your younger manager with phrases like “they are just a kid, how much can they really know,” remember that the current generation of 26-33 year olds is the most educated generation in history.

TIME wrote an article entitled 5 Ways to Deal With a Millennial Boss Driving You Nuts. Instead of complaining that your younger boss is ‘driving you nuts’ because they don’t work the same way you do, check out this article.

Millennial bosses are quickly becoming unavoidable, so figure out how to work with yours fast, before they find someone else that can.

Don’t Be A Lumbergh: Learn How to Effectively Manage Millennial Employees

At launchbox we aim to bridge the gap between millennials and the workplace.

Lets face it; millennials behave much differently than older generations. Whether it was growing up with technology at our fingertips or coming out of college during a harsh recession, the bottom line is still the same: Millennials have different expectations from the workplace. While Gen X might want a clear direct order of what needs to be done, a millennial might want to work step-by-step with the manager while the task is being completed. Neither method is better than the other; they are just different.

The difficult part is convincing both millennials and older generations that they don’t think the same way as the other generation. Instead of wondering why your employees aren’t fulfilling tasks the way you would, or why your managers are not managing the way you would like, it is important to learn how the other generation thinks and acts in the workplace. Simply tweaking the way that managers interact with millennials can improve morale and efficiency.

The Huffington Post published an insightful article called “What Every Employer Needs to Know About Gen Y”. In the article, millennials listed things they wished managers could know about their ideal workplace.

So listen up!

Millennials are saying things like “I have to like you or respect you as a person”, because ‘hating your boss but loving your job’ won’t cut it for millennials. If employees don’t like the office environment, don’t expect them to stay loyal to the company. Think Office Space, but a little less dramatic. Others include “It’s not about the paycheck, I want to feel like I’m a part of something” and “let me represent my work” because a sense of ownership is very important to millennials. If they can take pride in their work, the work will improve.

These suggestions are simple, and come at little to no costs to companies, but if taken seriously and implemented, will have a profound positive impact on your employees and company.

Other simple suggestions are in the article, here.

As always, let us know your thoughts!

Millennials: The Nation’s Most Dogged Optimists

Most adults, when asked the difference between millennials and Gen X, would say that millennials are more self-centered. They have been described as a ‘me generation’, always needing constant gratification and attention. Time Magazine even featured a cover article called “The Me Me Me Generation! Millennials are Lazy, Entitled, Narcissists”(Is it narcissistic if I get offended by that because I think millennilas are awesome?).

The Pew Research center wasn’t satisfied either with settling on a word like ‘narcissistic’ to describe this growing generation (and neither should you, quite frankly) so they interviewed about 50 million millennials to gain deeper insight into what makes the generation of 20-35 year olds tick.

Their findings offer a new perspective on what it means to ‘be millennial”.

They found that millennials are not attached to wealth. Many would rather make less in a job they love than make more in a job they don’t have a passion for. They value making a difference over making money, with many college grads applying for Peace Corps and Teach for America rather than heading for Wall Street. They are much more health conscious, choosing naturally raised organic meat and produce. As this NYT Article points out, “these habits and tastes look less like narcissism than communalism”. Highlighting popular millennilas like Lebron James, Brandon Stanton (writer of Humans of New York blog), and many more, the NYT exemplifies how millennials are not narcissistic, but empathetic.

Read the insightful article here and let us know what you think!