Sleep Strategies that Assist in Employee Productivity

Catch some Z’s….if you can. Workforces are experiencing epidemic sleep deprivation. Emails, tight deadlines and after-hours communication can void employees’ pursuit of rejuvenating sleep. If an employee loses two hours of sleep four nights in a row, the shortfall equates to having a blood alcohol level of 0.08. If it’s illegal to drive in that condition, why is it acceptable to work when equally impaired? Here are sleep strategies that can foster employee productivity and reduce your coffee expenses:

ENCOURAGE NAPPING

Numerous scientific studies indicate that napping refreshes and improves performance. It worked for Winston Churchill — he said that his daily, 2-hour nap allowed him to get 1 ½ days worth of work done in 24 hours. Twenty minute snoozes can also provide an invigorating boost. Adding sleep pods or quiet spaces to your office can give workers a kickstart. Sleep deprivation is so problematic that France recently passed a law decreeing that businesses with more than 50 employees are forbidden to send or receive emails after hours.

LIGHTEN UP

Exposure to natural light helps employees sleep better at night, making them more productive during the day. In a 2013 study, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found daytime workers slept better after exposure to daylight. Workers occupying spaces illuminated by natural light received 173 percent more white light and slept approximately 46 minutes more at night.

MODIFY WORK HOURS

Explore moving your main working hours back one hour. Older workers may be primed to dive in at 9AM, while younger employees are dragging at that hour. This discrepancy results from a shift of an internal body clock as you age. Accommodating this shift will aid your employees as well as your business.

MONITOR FLYING

 

Curtail the negative effects traveling has on your employees’ sleep by:

 

  • Limiting the number of redeye business flights.

 

  • If a redeye is imperative, suggest that all meetings be scheduled at least one day after landing in a new time zone.

 

  • Never permit an employee to fly overnight and then drive. Have him or her picked up by a taxi or car service after landing.

 

Swan Medical’s 2015 Sleep in Business America study indicated that 50 percent of 30,000 employees surveyed at five US companies didn’t received sufficient sleep. Prevent your employees from becoming a statistic. Enhance your team’s productivity by enhancing their sleep.

Tips for Public Speaking with Confidence

Public speaking is many people’s worst nightmare. Fortunately, this fear and anxiety can be overcome with practice and a few simple tips to help you feel more comfortable and confident in front of an audience:

 

AVOID TOO MUCH TECHNICAL JARGON

 

Regardless of the technical expertise of your audience, nobody wants to hear too many knowledge-driven facts and figures; audiences want to be entertained. To achieve this goal, speakers must be cognizant of using too much industry jargon. A better approach is to use conversational language designed to engage your listeners and make the topic personally relatable to them. The cliche “know your audience” has never been truer. Do a little research to find out the key demographics of your audience and why they are there to hear that particular topic. By knowing and understanding this information, you can tailor the speech to inform, interest, and entertain. Lastly, know your main point and get to it quickly to avoid audience fatigue.

 

FORCE YOURSELF TO SLOW DOWN

 

The most common mistake that novice speakers make is rushing through the subject. It is easy to deliver a speech while talking too fast for the material. Audience members tend to lose interest and zone out when listening to a faster-paced speech. The only way to combat this rookie mistake is to intentionally speak slower than what feels normal. It is equally important to frequently pause when speaking, even if this feels awkward. Pausing while speaking conveys to the audience that you are being purposeful and diligent in your word choice. Before the big event, take the extra time to practice in front of colleagues who will provide honest critiques or consider videotaping yourself so that you can work out the kinks and land on an optimal pace for the presentation.

 

BE CREATIVE

 

While it is important to come across as knowledgeable and genuine, nervous speakers often find it helpful to step outside of the box and create a stage persona to help ease jitters and become more confident. Experiment by practicing different styles to find the one most comfortable for you. The most important thing is that you feel comfortable in this skin and that it exemplifies the strongest aspects of your personality while minimizing the insecurities.

 

Speaking in public will grow you personally as well as professionally. While many people try to shy away from the opportunity, true leaders understand that speaking confidently in public is an important facet to their career. Like most things, the more you do it, the better you will become. Next time you have the chance to speak in public, whether that be three people in your office or 500 people at your church, accept the offer! Follow the above tips and watch yourself slowly become a confident public speaker!

 

How to Start your Mornings on the Right Foot

The tone of your morning will determine the tone of your day, so it’s time to start planning accordingly. What are some steps you can take to ensure a positive start to your day?

Hydrate

The benefits of drinking water are plenty, but the benefits of drinking water immediately after waking up, instead of coffee, are even greater. After a full night’s rest, our bodies are often dehydrated. Drinking a glass of water when you wake up will not only quench your thirst, it will rehydrate you, fire up your metabolism and provide fuel for your brain.

Make your Bed

Perhaps you think making your bed is a waste of time, or unnecessary. You won’t be home to see it all day, plus, you’re getting back into it at night. Wrong. Making your bed is a very simple action that you can take in the morning that will help you start your day feeling accomplished. Getting the simple and easy tasks out of the way in the morning also give you the foundation to take on larger projects throughout the day.

Exercise

It does not matter what type of exercise you choose to do in the morning, but get your body moving in some way. Whether it be yoga, a brisk walk with your dog or a set of sit-ups, any type of movement in the morning will help get you started on the right foot. As your blood starts flowing, your mental chatter will slow. If you begin to get bored with one type of exercise, change it up.

Stay Unplugged

If you have gotten into the habit of checking your work email as soon as you wake up, it is time to change that. By doing this, you are immediately cultivating a reactive mindset, instead of a proactive one, which will cause you to start your day in a defensive state, rather than a place of inner peace and control. Stay unplugged for the first hour of the day. This will start your day with a peaceful mind, and don’t worry, those work emails will still be there an hour later!

The morning is the setup for our entire day. So instead of rushing through it, slow down and enjoy. Drink water, make your bed, get your blood flowing with exercise and remain unconnected for as long as possible.

How Reading Affects Your Work

In the past year, about a quarter of American adults did not read even a part of one book. This is an alarming statistic! Why? Reading has so many benefits including many directly related to your job performance. What are those benefits?

Fiction Leads to More Creativity

Reading nonfiction books related to your career and subject matter is a given. If you want to continue to learn and grow in your field, you should absolutely be doing this. However, don’t discount fiction books, According to research conducted at the University of Toronto, study participants who read short-story fiction experienced far less need for “cognitive closure” compared with counterparts who read nonfiction essays. Essentially, they tested as more open-minded than those who solely read nonfiction.

Reading Makes you a Better Leader

When it comes to better connecting with others, one study found that people who read for just thirty minutes per week reported a stronger sense of empathy. This ability to relate to other people—to be able to place yourself in their shoes—is a skill that readers have in common with the best leaders.

It Makes You Smarter

Your brain is like a muscle, and you need to exercise it to keep it healthy. The more you exercise the muscles in your brain, the stronger they become. Reading will not only help you to learn new things, it will improve your overall intelligence, too. Think about reading like lifting weights for your brain. The more consistently you do it, the stronger your brain will become!

Your Vocabulary Improves

This may go without saying, but reading regularly and reading a variety of styles will teach you new words and give you the confidence to use them in everyday life. Strong communication skills and the ability to voice your thoughts in a concise and effective way is a crucial tool for any employee to have in their skillset.

Next time you go to turn the tv on to fall asleep, pick up that book on your nightstand instead. When you’re anticipating waiting in the doctor’s office, bring a book to read. Incorporating reading, both fiction and nonfiction books, into your lifestyle will have many benefits but best of all, it will make you a better employee!

How Robots are Entering the Corporate Finance World

Robots today are commonly used in the automotive and other manufacturing industries on assembly lines. The mechanical devices have also been implemented in medical settings to disinfect areas, monitor patients and perform surgeries. Robotic process automation or RPA is now venturing into the corporate finance field.

The use of ledgers and spreadsheet programs keep financial processes trapped in the 20th century. Employees commonly spend the majority of their days gathering, consolidating and verifying information. Time is also spent analyzing data and making decisions. Robotic processes and artificial intelligence have the ability to train software robots to automatically process transactions, perform audits and track compliance. The technology will also have the ability to upgrade their functions based on new information and experience.

Analytic Functions

Many financial executives plan on adopting the automated technology and some already use RPA. Robotic processes expedite accounts received and paid out while helping to maintain client relations. When an error occurs, many man hours are typically required to find and correct the problem. However, by automating the process, errors are detected quickly along with having the ability to recommend solutions.

Cost Efficiency

Companies have the potential of losing profits through errors, fraud or overpayment. Manual audits are time-consuming and often may not detect errors or wasted profits. Artificial intelligence requires less time to perform the function and is better able to monitor and analyze transactions. Equipped with current trend information, robotic processes discover problems that may otherwise go unnoticed. In this way, companies save money while being more efficient.

Educational Options

Depending on the type of AI processes implemented, the technology has the potential to educate employees. The technology can be useful for training employees to see patterns or trends in order for individuals to make better informed financial decisions. For example, the processes are capable of saving companies money in terms of business travel. By storing and analyzing travel and accommodation data, robotics would be able to make cost-effective recommendations based on location and time of year.

AI Assistants

Much like Alexa and Siri act as vocal digital assistants, artificial intelligence could benefit financial employees in a wide range of instances from the office to the boardroom. The processes might be equipped with the capability to quickly access and analyze data before CEOs make a decision. Robotics might also answer questions on the spur of the moment.

The Top 3 Ways to Invest in 2018

For those with extra cash on their hands, it’s best to invest it before spending it on nonsensical purchases. Of course, research and analysis is needed first to make the best investment possible for one’s risk tolerance and goals. Potential investors should act as quickly as possible. Below are the three best ways to invest in 2018.

 

The Stock Market

 

Even though investing in the stock market is an obvious choice, it’s worth mentioning because many people are still skeptical about getting involved in the market. Some even think that there are too many people involved in stocks, so it’s too late for them to get a piece of the pie.

However, a really good strategy is to invest small amounts of money over a specific timeframe into the stock market. Basically, when the market is hot, as it is right now, an investor buys less shares, and when no one is buying, they buy more shares. This keeps things even and makes a high return more likely.

 

Peer-to-Peer Lending Services

 

Being a loan provider used to be an investment medium reserved for banks. Today, there are many investment platforms that make providing a loan possible for the individual investor.

On the most popular platforms, returns are usually around six percent, but could be even higher.

Another strength of this strategy is that some investments require as little as twenty-five dollars therefore, someone who is considering this option can test the waters with little risk before diving in.

 

Real Estate

 

While real estate investing is not for everyone, there are still big returns to be made in the real estate market. Nowadays, there are other real estate mediums besides becoming a landlord. For example, someone could invest in real estate notes. In this scenario, the investor funds someone else’s real estate investment, and gets paid a dividend or interest on their investment. There’s also turnkey rentals, where an investor puts up the money, but someone else manages the property and tenants.

 

In 2018, those looking to invest should use a combination of traditional and new-age strategies.

For example, real estate and the stock market are still profitable investments. At the same time, there’s now peer-to-peer lending services that provide a new avenue of revenue.

 

How to Improve Your Small Business in 2018

Pepper Rutland How To Improve Your Small Business in 2018Starting a small business is difficult for anyone to do. Small business owners have to do a lot of the work themselves, and this can be very taxing on an individual. With all of the different changes taking place in the economy, small business owners need to be prepared to act quickly in order to gain market share.

 

There are many areas that small business owners can concentrate on in order to improve both sales and profits. Here, I’ve highlighted a few of these areas.

 

Invest in Marketing

 

A marketing plan is critical to growing a company over a long period of time. There are numerous business owners who feel like they do not have time to develop a marketing plan and rely too heavily on word of mouth and social media posting. While both are key elements to a strong brand presence,  this is the wrong approach to take in order to develop a company. Instead, small business owners should decide what marketing tactics will resonate with customers the most.

 

With all of the different marketing options today, the entire process can feel overwhelming. It is important to have a strong online presence for any business. The vast majority of customers search for a product or service online before making a purchase decision.

 

Hire Quality Employees

 

One of the most important aspects of running a successful company is hiring the right workers. There are numerous small business owners who rush through the hiring process. This is not a good plan for growth over a long period of time. One wrong hire can be extremely costly to any business owner. Business owners should spend an adequate amount of time getting to know each potential job candidate. Over time, this is the best way to make a great hiring decision.

 

Develop a Financing Plan

 

Of course, many small business owners want to grow their company in 2018. A lack of capital, however, often prevents them from personally investing in their business. Borrowing money is not necessarily a bad thing if it will help increase sales and profits. It is important to have a plan to pay the loan down as fast as possible. Some business owners get into financial trouble because they attempt to borrow too much money at one time, and don’t have a viable plan in place to spend it wisely, or pay it back in a timely fashion.

 

The economy is starting to show signs of strength in various areas. Now is a great time for business owners to implement changes for the new year. With the right strategy, a business can increase both sales and profits.

3 Entrepreneurs To Watch In 2018

Pepper Rutland 3 Entrepreneurs to watch in 2018The past few years have seen a surge of startup businesses by young millennials looking to conquer the world. As 2018 begins, we are already seeing go-getters taking their ideas and creating innovative business ideas that could change the world.

 

With so many young entrepreneurs on the scene, there are a few that you should keep an eye on this year. Meet three entrepreneurs that are ready to take 2018 by storm.

 

  1. Nick Mares

 

This young millennial is looking to educate the world on healthy eating habits, one bowl of bone broth at a time. Mares created Kettle and Fire in 2015 with the help of his brother, Justin. Within two short years, their line of bone broths were available in more than 1,700 stores. Their product line has been picked up by Krogers, Whole Foods, Sprouts, and several other popular grocery store chains. Mares plans on introducing a handful of new products this year. Business experts estimate that Kettle and Fire is looking to earn at least eight figures in 2018 alone.

 

  1. Kathryn Minshew

 

To put it lightly, Kathryn has turned the recruiting world on its head. Feeling the pressures of finding the perfect career, Kathryn Minshew decided to take matters into her own hands to help other young, industry hopefuls struggling to find the right positions. She is the founder and CEO of The Muse, a website (and really, an online community) that explores different job prospects in the hopes of giving people the career advice they need.

 

  1. Kai Kloepfer

 

Gun safety is a hot button issue right now and one millennial sees it as a lucrative business opportunity. The MIT sophomore is the mastermind behind Biofire Technologies. With the mission of “building smarter guns with biometrics”, Biofire helps implement smart technology into the manufacturing of guns. For example, one clever innovation by Biofire makes the gun recognize that it is being operated by the correct owner. This technology looks to help make guns safer and smarter.

 

These three twenty somethings are helping change the way the world works. With so many millennials looking to take their innovative ideas to the next level, 2018 is sure to be a year of promising startup companies.

Chatbots and Customer Service

Every entrepreneur and business owner knows that customer service is key to a lasting and successful project, initiative, or company. Being the department that possibly interacts the most with your audience, it’s highly likely that you have spent countless hours looking for the best customer service employees and tools to elevate your service to the next level. When the digital age arrived, however, the rules with customer service began to change. No longer were you greeted with a, “Hello, how can I help you?” from a real live person, but instead with a, “Please press 1 for more options” message coming from a robotic voice. While both methods are efficient, it’s important to note that the customer service rules have changed, and programs like chatbots will soon become the norm.

 

Chatbots were born out of a necessity to more efficiently police and traffic calls in high volumes. Quite frankly, it would be nearly impossible for a small office of people to handle transferring incoming calls for a large company such as Wells Fargo or Apple in a timely manner. And with the technology available, companies are able to save money by no longer needing to hire that team of switch-board experts. Chatbots are also attractive to businesses because they allow the customer to have total control of the direction of the call, instead of relying on who is on the other end to understand what they need.

 

At first, chatbots were not very sophisticated and often served as a point of frustration for customers. Since they work off of keywords and not actual context, customers had to readjust their own customer service visions and learn how to interact with the new technology. Chatbots have come a long way since then, and have been integrated with machine learning technology that allows for an easier experience thanks to advancements within artificial intelligence.

 

Chatbots are able to do more than just get a customer from one complaint to a solution, however. They also can yield valuable data and metrics that show where the majority of customer complaints come from. Further even from this, because of the real-time nature of chatbots replacing employees live-chatting with customers to troubleshoot, they’re able to point customers in the direction of other services on your site that they may be interested in as well, all from the keywords that you used during your chatbot inquiry. This will drive sales and increase customer satisfaction.

 

The bottom line behind chatbots and customer service is to not be afraid of the growing technology. There is a healthy balance between an in-person customer service rep and chatbots, and by learning about the best practice for both services, you can create a custom service platform that will serve your customers in the best way possible. And as technology continues to advance, look to chatbots to become even more capable of driving your business towards success in more areas than just customer service.

A New, Old Trend: The Business Card Is Back

Business cards can play a very important part in any professional’s career. A chance meeting with the CEO of a company you admire or a new connection at a young professional’s mixer, the business card once served as a reminder of your encounter. Soon, however, the business card started becoming so common and overused that they started to pile up like drink coasters at a cocktail party. In the digital wave, they were pushed aside for an exchange of numbers and information on smartphones or a connection on Facebook or LinkedIn. The business card seemed like a thing of the past.

 

Thanks to an awakening of new designs, the power of the business card has been reignited. Clever shapes, more valuable messaging, and a lesson in branding is helping the business card make it’s comeback. If you ever ditched a business card before, you’ll think twice about doing it again after seeing (and, in some cases, experiencing) these new design trends.

 

New Materials

The cardstock you use on your business card can make or break it’s effectiveness. If a card is too flimsy, the person receiving your card might think you’re a reflection of the card’s strength. And there are tons of different choices of cardstock to pick from, making any choice possibly overwhelming. To avoid cardstock confusion, some professionals made the move to different materials such as wood, metal, plastic, and even transparent materials.

 

This reinvention of the material in which a business card is made with has revolutionized the industry, especially amongst young professionals who are looking to make important connections and a lasting impression on potential employers against a strong millennial class of competition. By introducing new materials, they body’s sense of touch becomes involved in the card presenter’s first impression, giving it an even stronger, and cooler looking, message.

 

Shapeshifters

Another way to change your view of business cards is to change the way you view a business card. Try making your rectangular card read vertically instead of horizontally, or, just tip the card on it’s side to make it a portrait shape rather than landscape.

 

Where this trend really becomes interesting is when die-cuts and special shapes are introduced. New designs offer square and circular shaped business cards, as well as cards with cutouts. Some cards even go as far as being foldable for convenience and to fit more information, or to be used as a pop-up element to give excitement to your brand. If you really want to go all out, you can design your cards to have arms and legs, as seen on CompanyFolders.com.

 

Valuing Yourself

The last trend that is important to note has to do with your own self confidence. A business card should reflect who you are, as well as give a glimpse into the work you can provide. It’s the connection between your meeting and an interview. Even if you’re not with a company, you should make yourself a business card and give yourself a brand. What symbols and colors represent you? What does a powerful business card feel like to you? Take these questions into consideration before designing your card to make the best choices in representing yourself.