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Archive for June 2016

Revamping Your Office Environment: An Unexpected Way to Attract and Retain Top Talent

revamp office design


You probably wouldn’t have seen this one coming, but one of the latest corporate pushes has surfaced, and it comes in the form of restylizing your office environment.  Not for the mere sake of aesthetics, mind you, but rather as a draw for top talent.

That’s right.  Companies are starting to catch on that it matters to potential recruits what the office layout and dynamics are where they will be working.  Not only is de-centralizing/de-segregating an office setup a proven strategy to improve collaborative dynamics for a team, it is also a sought-after and productivity-enhancing environment for today’s workforce.

Within five years, the average amount of space each employee will need will drop to 150 square feet (down from 400 in 1985). Not that it would seem to matter, because 60 percent of today’s employees aren’t even using their assigned workspaces.  More employees than ever are working remotely, and companies will cash in big on overhead savings by minimizing their office space.

The very universally-accepted open office model is going away to make room for the more versatile and multi-faceted work space that offers workers more options. Not surprisingly, not everyone works best in the same kind of space, and more distraction-free lounge-work areas featuring flexible furniture are the latest thing.

Long story short: investing in a happier and more productive workforce through enhanced office spaces will go a long way to attracting and keeping the best talent in years to come.  Following are five very affordable ways you can improve your office’s feng shui.

Happy employees are productive employees

Revamping your office space doesn’t have to be expensive.  Small and simple changes, such as placing meeting areas near windows, or investing in some softer furniture, and bright, relaxing colors for your walls and furniture will go a long way to improving the “home-iness” of your office.  You can also consider improving the plantlife around your office to improve liveliness and airflow are also a huge boon.

Encouraging outdoor access for a quick breath of fresh air if possible, and this option can help the attitudes and outlook of your team.

Furthermore, your employees can thrive and engage within the right company culture and sense of belonging in a community, one that you can help create.

Wellness is an Amenity

Work/life balance is not just a catchphrase, it is an increasingly valued commodity among modern professionals.  Being more flexible with your employees about how, when, and where they work will go a long way in helping them achieve this kind of balance.

Technology is such today that it is easier than ever for employees to work from anywhere, and at any time.  Airports, home living rooms, coffee shops, etc., can all be considered viable workspaces, assuming there is a decent and accessible Wifi signal.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

Rather than issuing standardized equipment to everyone in the office, BYOD is a growing trend that encourages companies to provide their employees with favorite laptops/tablets/mobile devices, etc., of their employees’ choosing.  Who doesn’t work better with devices that you’re familiar and comfortable with?  There might be some security obstacles to resolve, but plan on increased productivity, creativity, and overall worker satisfaction.

Work Zones

People tend to work better in different environments and at different times of the day, and their productivity can even depend upon what kind of task they may be working on.  You can create different kinds of work zones within your office to enhance conditions for working on different kinds of projects.

What might that look like?  How about some flexibility in the form of quieter zones for individual tasks, and informal meeting spaces to encourage collaborative efforts?  This kind of flexibility can help the flow of ideas and productivity.

 Break Out Spaces

Specific “break out” areas facilitate employees getting away from their desks for periodic breathers.  Providing filtered water, coffee, and tea will welcome your employees to stay in the office for breaks.  These areas are also great ways to facilitate unintended interactions amongst employees can end up producing very surprising and creative results. Your employees will feel more pampered and appreciated, too.

Purists need not fear: the traditional centralized office hub where your workforce can meet and collaborate is not going away anytime soon.  But remember that being more flexible with your employees’ routines and schedules will only add to their sense of independence and of being trusted and valued.  And that’s how you retain the talent that you really want.

Have any ideas for how to refashion an office space to help with productivity?  We’d love to hear about it!

Related Article: How to Engage and Retain New College Grads


  • Jonathan W. Crowell 

Six Fundamental Ways to Convert Your Team into Top Sales Rockstars

boost sales


You want to increase your company’s sales.  And who wouldn’t?

As you may have discovered by now, longer hours and more pounding the pavement don’t necessarily always mean more sales.

Constantly finding new people to buy your product or service is a critical part of the overall sales process.  You think you have a winner of a product.  You think you know your customer. You think you their pain and how to resolve it.

There are few silver bullets in the world of sales, but try the following steps consistently and see if you can’t begin seeing better numbers.

And you may not even have to slash prices or host fire sales, either.

Let Your Sales Leaders Do the Coaching

You know who your top sellers are.  Get them invested in their sales team’s success by finding ways that they can mentor and coach the rest of the team.  They’ll appreciate the opportunity to develop as leaders, and to be viewed as in-house experts.

Observe and see if they’re doing anything that may apply consistently to most sales scenarios.  Make sure you give the credit where it’s due.

Only Work on Selling to Pre-qualified Leads

Increasing your reach to new potential customers isn’t always a good use of your time, since you’ll expend your energy on those who don’t want to buy what you’re offering.  Rely on your pre-qualified leads to best prioritize opportunities based on a predictable history.

Don’t Waste Anyone’s Time (Especially Your Own)

If your customer doesn’t need it, commit ahead of time to not try to sell it to them.  You should know (or learn) how to quickly gauge whether or not there’s a real need.  You’ll save time, and improve the trust your customer has in you and your relationship.

Talk, but Listen More

Don’t let your conversation be driven by how great your product is. Find out what your customer really needs.  Ask the right questions, and let them tell you what they need.  This is another way to invest in the quality of your relationship with them.

Offering one of your free products or services to customers for winning a contest is always a great idea, as everyone loves to win free stuff.  But make it fun!  If you can get them to buy something they want as part of the game, you’ve not only helped with your branding efforts, you’ve effortlessly boosted your sales with minimal cost.

You should also consider creative incentives such as customer reward programs and free samples.

Content Marketing (More Free Stuff!)

Informational and authoritative products like well-researched and written white papers and free e-books are easy to get into your customers’ hands, to pique their interest in your company, or as a bonus with a purchase.  You look like an authoritative expert on a subject that interests them, and you get to begin building a relationship of trust with potential customers.

Use social media to your advantage, too.

You’ll get free access to qualified leads, more customers at lower cost to you, and many more channels in which to sell your product.

And if there’s one takeaway you should always remember, it’s to over-deliver to your customers.  Be available to answer questions and to offer insights and advice. Remember, you’re building a relationship with them, not just making a sale.

We love to hear from you!  Drop us a line and let us know what you do to boost your own sales!

  • Jonathan W. Crowell

Looking Forward Instead of Back: Rethinking the Traditional Performance Review

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There seems to be a split in regard to the perceived value of traditional performance appraisals. It continues to be a pressing debate in Human Resource circles these days.

As it turns out, 95 percent of employees and managers today are unhappy with the way their companies assess their performance each year – 90 percent don’t believe the process even deals with accurate information.

In addition, 65 percent of employees claim that the old school performance review process undermines their productivity. 65 percent of managers claim that the information considered isn’t even relevant to their jobs.

Why is everyone so averse to them, particularly milennials?  In their defense, besides the fact that they’ve been shown to be condescending toward talent, ineffective, expensive, inconsistent, and that they undermine team dynamics and momentum, perhaps not too much else.

Consider that if performance reviews as we know them are not slated for utter elimination, they are definitely trending toward quite an overhaul sooner than later.

A number of trendsetters have already begun to move away from the traditional annual employee assessment, including Deloitte, GE, and Accenture, and don’t be too surprised to see that the hot new emerging corporate trend is a new approach to giving employees feedback and making it worth their while to stick around.


It’s a Talent Retention Strategy Thing


Employee performance reviews date back to the 20th century when employees were considered to be easily interchangeable parts in a company machine – and the process has run its course.  You won’t turn many heads with your talent retention rates with the same approach today, as the traditional approach demotivates and instills dread.

A 2013 study by Kansas State University Associate Professor Satoris Culbertson and colleagues showed that high-performing employees were affected negatively by critical feedback on their annual performance appraisals.

In exchange for what modern skilled talent is expected to bring to the table, the expectation in return a more trusting relationship with their employers, as well as more meaningful autonomy in their professional lives.

Furthermore, when employees are treated as replaceable, faceless appendages, their unique strengths and talents go to waste, if not completely undiscovered. And the dynamics of business suffer.

Gone are the days when a manager fulfilled the role of overseer and taskmaster. The modern demands of being competitive look to leaders to be coaches and stewards, to understand each team member’s strengths and weaknesses, and to get them to buy into and align with organizational goals.

Forget about controlling your people.  When you look out for them instead, you get them to a place where it’s easier and more natural to unlock their potential.


A New Model for Employee Review


If the performance appraisal is done for, what should replace it with? According to 15Five’s CEO, David Hassell, a more relevant modern approach would involve:

  • Holding a predictable cadence of weekly and quarterly conversations with employees
  • Checking the pulse weekly on the morale of employees, and better understanding their engagement levels
  • Giving employees time throughout the quarter to reflect on performance to improve it
  • Having a formal performance conversation quarterly
  • Disconnecting compensation conversations from performance conversations
  • Connecting employees to a shared purpose to illuminate why their work matters


As businesses look for ways to improve their corporate culture and employee experience, the vertical relationship between managers and employees will become more cooperative than heirarchal, and they will unavoidably need to update how they assess their employees’ contributions. The performance discussion needs to empower employees to improve month over month, not year over year, according to Hassell.

Employees don’t want or need to be carrot-and-sticked, and companies that understand this sooner than later will focus more on working steadily with employees on improvement in the future rather than on merely reviewing the past.


  • Jonathan W. Crowell