How to Boost Employee Morale


How to Boost Employee Morale….Without Breaking the Bank

Engagement is important, yet your employees might already have one foot out the door mentally. According to the “State of the American Workplace” study by Gallup, 70 percent of the workforce isn’t engaged in their current position. This explains why a 2012 study found 74 percent of employees are actively looking for a new job or are open to new opportunities.

If you can’t engage employees, those talented workers will be out the door the first chance they get. The cost of employee turnover averages about double an employee’s salary, so it’s not exactly a cost you can afford to keep shelling out each time a disengaged worker leaves for greener pastures.

One of the problems is too many companies assume you need the budget of Google or Facebook in order to keep the best people. If you can’t afford an organic juice bar or nap pods, why even try, right? You couldn’t be more wrong — and the success of your business hinges on getting back in touch with your employees.

So how do you boost morale on a budget? Here are a few ways to get your employees engaged again:

A Stitch in Time Saves Rehiring

The old saying, “A stitch in time saves nine” is just as important to hiring as it is to making a really nice scarf. If you hire the right people with sincere passion, you’ll have to worry less about a lack of engagement. The ugly truth is that 46 percent of small business new hires fail within the first 18 months, and in 89 percent of cases, this is because of a company culture mismatch.

So before you hire the great candidate with the stellar resume, take a second to ensure this person would actually enjoy coming into the office every morning. Skills are important, but you can always train for specific abilities. The ability to fit into the company and the passion to care about your mission statement are intangibles you just can’t teach.

Never Stop Challenging

Employees don’t like to be complacent and they certainly don’t feel any accomplishment from doing the same old boring tasks day in and day out. This explains why a global study of employee engagement by AON found access to increased career opportunities was the number one driver of employee engagement.

Employees want a challenge and they want to keep learning. This doesn’t mean piling work on top of employees, since this only leads to more stress and health issues. Instead, a new challenge could be anything from offering an interesting project to promoting professional development training initiatives. Spending a bit of your budget on training your employees is a smart way to save in the long run, as your employees gain more high-quality skills and bring more ROI to your organization.

Don’t Make Your Goals A Secret

How are employees supposed to be engaged by the company’s mission statement if they don’t even know what it is? This might seem extreme, but numbers back up the fact many employees don’t even know what they’re working toward. One study found only 40 percent of the employees surveyed knew the corporation’s goals, strategies, and tactics. It’s hard to be engaged if you have no idea what broader goals your hard work is achieving.

The fix for this engagement problem is simple communication. Make sure to make communicating goals and strategies a big priority when dealing with your workforce. Don’t just tell employees what they need to do, tell them why they need to do it. This will show employees in a more concrete fashion how their parts fit into the whole of the company. It will help them pinpoint how their individual contributions help the company to succeed.

Recognize and Reward

Speaking of individual contributions — recognizing and rewarding hard work costs zero dollars and can really pay off with more engaged and positive employees. In fact, 43 percent of highly engaged employees received feedback at least once a week, according to a Towers Watson study.

Giving employees feedback ties into clearly communicating goals and strategies. If an employee is working hard and coming up with great innovative ideas for your company, you need to recognize these contributions. It could be something as simple as a “well done” at a meeting to something more substantial like added perks.

Feedback is important not only to your superstar employees, but to your workers who find themselves floundering a bit on the job. If given in a helpful and nonjudgmental fashion, feedback will allow them to focus on the aspects of their job performance that need improvement.

Have Fun

Engagement doesn’t have to be a drag! Get employees involved in fun activities both in and outside the office. This could be anything your workforce is interested in, from after-work drinks to in-office parties, or even healthy initiatives like a daily walk or yoga break. Find out what would make work a little more fun for your employees and implement these cheap, easy fixes into your company culture.

Employee engagement can mean the difference between success and failure for your company. Even without a big budget, however, you can still implement little changes through clear communication and smarter hiring decisions, which will lead to higher morale and increased engagement.

What do you think? What are some ways you improve employee engagement on the cheap? Share in the comments!

About the Author: Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.


What Should I Expect During an Exit Interview?


When an employee leaves your company, whether it was on your terms or theirs, it’s important to understand exactly what went wrong. Enter the exit interview. This is your opportunity to find out what’s working in your company and what isn’t. Exiting employees can tell you exactly which issues need your attention.

Here are five best practices for conducting exit interviews:

1. Determine goals before the interview.

Before you do anything else, you need to decide what you want to get out of the interview. There are a number of reasons to conduct exit interviews.

Some of these include: to end on good terms with the employee; to better manage future employees; to improve recruitment; training, and on-boarding practices; to pass information on to successors and replacements; to increase employee retention; or even to retain the exiting employee.

Before every interview, make a list of the specific goals you want to achieve.

2. Be tailored, but consistent.

Obviously, every exit interview will be different. They need to be tailored to the employee who is exiting. These employees will come from all different departments and seniority levels within your company, so these factors definitely affect the process. That being said, it’s also important to have a consistent system for conducting these interviews.

It’s a good idea to have an employee pretty high up in the chain of command conduct these interviews. Choose someone who has a hand in many departments and oversees a majority of your employees. This allows for the process to be efficient and consistent. If one person handles all exit interviews, they can make better decisions about the feedback and areas to improve. Additionally, all exit interviews should have the same format before tailoring them to the interviewee.

Once you decide the goals of the interviews, who will conduct them, and how they will be formatted, this policy should be documented.

3. Make it a conversation, rather than an interview.

Exit interviews aim to uncover honest feedback from exiting employees. The best way to achieve this kind of feedback is to make the interview less formal and more conversational. The conversation should focus on the exiting employee’s contributions to your company in addition to the feedback you require. An exit interview will be more beneficial when your employee feels appreciated. This will give them more motivation to offer you advice for the future of your company.

4. Ask for valuable feedback.

Going back to those goals you established, it is important to ask exiting employees for valuable feedback. This could involve recruitment, on-boarding, training, benefits, culture, work load, and many more things. Cover all of these areas in order to see the full picture. Look for the good and the bad. Find out exactly why your employee decided to leave (it may be different than you thought). There might be problems you didn’t even know existed. Ask the interviewee to be honest and constructive for the benefit of future employees. Hopefully they can provide you with valuable insight.

5. Finish on a good note.

At the end of the exit interview, it’s important to say thank you and wish them luck in future. Hopefully, you can end on good terms with the employee. It’s important for both parties to avoid burning bridges.

Record all the feedback you receive and compare it to other exit interviews. If you notice a prominent issue, take steps to make immediate changes. It’s important not to put off these changes because they could end up following though the cracks.

Hopefully, with increased changes as a result from exit interviews, you can increase retention in the future.

What are some other best practices you recommend for the exit interview?

For this post, Doostang thanks our friends at Come Recommended.


How Can I Find the Best Candidates?


4 Crazy Perks To Nab You The Best Candidates

In the war for talent, the victor is often the company with the best perks. Great company culture perks attract great candidates, especially for high-demand industries and positions. Talented candidates often find themselves with their pick of potential workplaces, which is why a few great perks can make all the difference.

It’s not enough, however, to offer a great benefits package. Some companies are going above and beyond offering normal, everyday company benefits. They’re offering crazy, wacky, and outside-the-box company culture perks to attract and retain the best people.

Beyond just attracting the right candidates, the right company culture perks can actually help you reduce employee turnover and improve productivity. How? Many of the craziest company culture perks are aimed at reducing stress for workers.

According to a study by Com-Psych, at least half of employees said it was harder to focus when under the gun. Another 20 percent said stress made them more likely to make errors and miss deadlines, while 15 percent blamed stress for interpersonal problems in the office.

So what are some outside-the-box company culture perks to fight stress and help you attract the best candidates? Let’s take a look at four perks companies are using to win the war for talent:

Bring Your Furry Friend To Work

Dogs might be man’s best friend, but they can also be your company’s best bet for a happier workplace. Allowing workers to take their pets to work, like Google does, can keep spirits up and fight stressful emotions. Even the Centers for Disease Control agree, claiming pets can help decrease your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Pets can also lower your blood pressure. A study of highly-stressed New York stockbrokers showed those who got dogs and cats had lower blood pressure and heart rates than the control group. After the study finished, most of the participants in the non-pet group went out and got pets.

Pets can keep us focused and help manage stress. Studies have shown simply petting an animal can work as effective stress relief. Other studies have shown that when completing a stressful task, animals are actually more effective stress relievers than friends and family.

Tired? Take a Nap

Do you get enough sleep? Probably not, since the CDC considers insufficient sleep a public health epidemic. When the organization surveyed American adults, it was shocked to discover over 35 percent were getting less than seven hours of sleep a night.

When workers don’t get enough shuteye, productivity decreases and workers make more mistakes. This is probably why more companies are allowing employees to sleep on the job. In fact, a 2011 Society of Human Resources study found 6 percent of companies had a dedicated nap room, while a National Sleep Foundation survey found 34 percent of employers allowed workers to nap in the office.

Offering nap pods or other sleeping arrangements for workers can help them catch the z’s they need, so they can come back to their work refreshed and reinvigorated.

Namaste: Offer Yoga and Focus On Wellness

Even if you can’t allow pets in the office, you should definitely consider the benefits of giving employees time to get into downward facing dog. Offering yoga and other physical fitness programs is a great way to keep employees healthy and happy.

Not every organization will have the funds to install a gym in the building, but you don’t need a fat wallet to help employees get slim. Yoga, aerobics, and most cardio can be done without spending money on expensive exercise equipment. Start a group walk on lunch breaks or even consider offering discounts to the nearest gym.

When it comes to yoga, the meditation and mindfulness aspect of the exercise can help workers let go of stress and refocus. More active employees usually means healthier employees, which translates to less productivity loss from sick leave. Studies have shown employees who exercise earn 9 percent or more on average, most likely because they’re more focused and productive.

Get A Life…Coach

Most people are better workers when their life is in order and they have clear-cut goals. But life can get messy, and sometimes career goals are the last thing on the mind of your star employee.

This is why online shoe retailer Zappos, known for having great outside-the-box perks, began offering free life coaching to employees. This perk landed Zappos on CNNMoney’s 100 Top Companies to Work For list.

But the real benefit of offering your employees a life coach is the renewed energy and focus workers will bring back to the organization. By helping your star employees set goals and push through personal and professional problems, life coaching can result in a more motivated and productive workforce.

Offering “crazy” perks can help you establish a fun, positive, and productive company culture. This culture will allow you to not only attract but retain the talent your organization needs to continue moving forward, innovating, and chasing success.

What do you think? What are some crazy perks you offer employees? Share in the comments!

About the Author: Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.



Doostang Employer Spotlight: Thornburg Investment Management


What sets Thornburg Investment Management apart from other financial services employers?

One of our values is that “we are committed to employees.”  This is our mandate, and we take it seriously.  The fact that we are a privately owned firm – unlike many other financial services companies – means that we can offer our employees growth and opportunity without interference from a third party who may only be concerned about our bottom line.

What is the work culture like at Thornburg Investment Management?

We are a collegial firm that is fairly flat in organizational structure.  This means that anyone in the company has access to upper management. We pride ourselves on our professionalism, but are also able to maintain a friendly work environment.  That “family” atmosphere is a core part of our culture.

What are the common attributes of your top performers?

Beyond their individual talents, the common attributes of Thornburg’s top performers are those that embody the company’s shared cultural norms and values.

We do the right thing
We act with integrity and put our clients first.

We think for the long term
We engage in thoughtful decision making and believe that investment excellence should drive our decisions.

We work together to achieve common goals
We show respect and humility towards each other and our clients.
We believe in creating a supportive work environment that fosters teamwork, collegiality, and effective communication.

We strive for excellence
We make the extra effort, practice continuous improvement, and stay flexible to adapt to changing circumstances.

We are committed to employees
We foster an environment that provides flexibility and opportunity for growth, while also requiring accountability.

We are independent
We will remain a privately owned, independent firm to ensure that we act in the best interest of our clients and employees.

We are community minded
We support philanthropic giving and encourage employee volunteerism.
What are you looking for in a new hire?

We are looking for people who are naturally collaborative, creative, and driven. We want employees who are never satisfied with the status quo.

Three Reasons to work here:

1. Room for advancement: Thornburg is committed to the development of employees and is a great place to build a career. Additionally, an educational reimbursement program is available for eligible employees who seek further education.  Training and educational advancements are also integrated into the employee annual review process.

2. Retention programs: We offer a competitive base salary, discretionary annual bonus, company-wide profit sharing, and the potential for employee ownership.

3. Culture: Thornburg Investment Management’s collegial work environment creates a great place to work.

Any advice for job seekers interested in Thornburg Investment Management?

One open position can garner hundreds of applicants. We receive many qualified applicants so highlight your uniqueness through a cover letter. A resume is more of a list of facts about you, while the cover letter gives us insight into your personality. We hire people, not resumes.

Interested in learning more about Thornburg Invesment Management? Visit their website and connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.


Doostang Employer Spotlight: Janes Capital Partners


Janes Capital Partners (Irvine, CA) is a boutique investment bank, specializing in the aerospace and defense industry.  Their clients are middle market firms, and their primary product is Mergers & Acquisitions.

Interested in learning more about Janes Capital? Visit their website, and connect on LinkedIn.

Interview with Rick Phillips, Managing Director at Janes Capital Partners

What is the work culture like at Janes Capital?

The work culture is team based.  We are a small business, so everybody has to work together in a team.  We are collegial, but success driven because we are bankers.  We are very focused on achieving success for our clients.

What are the common attributes of your top performers?

Everybody at our firm is intelligent and capable.  The number one thing that sets people apart is attitude.  You have to really want to succeed as an investment banker.  You should be willing to do whatever it takes to achieve success for your client.  Also, raw intelligence to figure out problems and the financial skills to do the work counts.  Our top performers have great people skills: the skills to get along with the client, the people in the firm, and the other organizations that are on the other side of the deal.

You also have to be very good at handling and juggling multiple priorities.  The ability to meet commitments makes a good performer.  Work migrates to the people you can count on to do the work right, on time, with minimal errors.

What are you looking for in a new hire?

Attitude, skills, and intelligence, with some amount of experience.  One of the things that sets our hiring process apart is that we have a skills-based project as an integral part of our hiring process.  All of our candidates submit a project that demonstrates basic investment banking skills including quantitative, qualitative and writing aspects.

We’re also looking for people that we think will be fun to work with and who enjoy the industry, which is required to succeed in investment banking.

3 reasons to work here:

-Opportunity to contribute to a growing firm.

-Learn a ton.

-It’s a place that wants everybody in the organization to succeed.

Any advice for job seekers interested in Janes Capital?

You really need to understand both the job you’re applying for and the company you’re applying to when you send in the application and cover letter.  You can tell who actually knows what they are getting into.  We’re a growing boutique investment bank and we’re always looking for people who have the capability to succeed in a small, client focused bank, and who are interested in aerospace and defense.




Doostang Employer Spotlight: McLaughlin Asset Management, Inc.


Interview with Linda McLaughlin: Director, Marketing and Business Development for McLaughlin Asset Management, Inc.


What sets McLaughlin Asset Management, Inc. apart from other financial services employers?

There are many different types of financial services employers in terms of size, mission, service or product offered, and so on.  Our firm is a smaller, fee-based boutique wealth management firm working independently with advisors offering investment advisory, wealth management & retirement plan consulting to individuals and businesses.   Our main office is in Haddonfield, NJ and we serve clients primarily in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Florida as well as in other parts of the US.

What is the work culture like at McLaughlin Asset Management, Inc.?

The primary goal of our firm is to do what is right and best for our clients.  We work together as a team toward that goal every day.  That being said, the work environment at our firm is one that is flexible on both sides of the fence.   Sometimes that means staff members going above and beyond the call of duty to get the job done.  We also, however, respect the personal lives of our staff and that sometimes that means providing for time flexibility.   Being a smaller, independent firm, we are able to do this much more easily than might be possible in a larger institution.  In addition, there is significant opportunity for employees to grow in their positions.  Given our size, independence, and future plans for growth, career opportunity is what you make of it at McLaughlin Asset Management, Inc.

What are the common attributes of your top performers?  

We have two types of people working with our firm……support staff and financial advisors.  There are common attributes among all of our people which include first and foremost integrity and a commitment to excellence.   Our top staff members are professional, organized, detail-oriented, able to work well as a team, have the desire to learn and grow, possess a positive attitude, are self-starters, understand that the client comes first, and are willing to go above and beyond when the need arises.   Our top financial advisors are trustworthy, client-focused, set high standards for themselves, forward-thinking, action-oriented, tenacious and always looking for new opportunities.  They have a desire to continue to learn more about the industry and above all are excellent listeners.  If they can’t listen to our clients and really understand what they need, they can’t help do what is right for that client.

What are you looking for in a new hire?

People who want to become part of our team, are willing to work hard and make a difference, and come into the job with a sense of professional commitment.  We want honest, hard-working, committed employees who want to grow themselves professionally with us.  We want people who plan to stay around, not people who are passing through for short-term hire.  We want team players, people who are open-minded and willing to roll up their sleeves and get the job done.  We are always looking for quality people to work with and represent our firm as we take much pride in who we are, what we represent, and the value we deliver to our clients.

 3 Reasons to work here:

1. Being a part of a top wealth management firm providing superior service to our clients;

2. Significant opportunity to grow and creating your own career path in an entrepreneurial atmosphere;

3. Potential for added income based upon firm performance.

Any advice for job seekers interested in McLaughlin Asset Management, Inc.?

Apply if you want to become part of our team.  We are a hard-working and fun group of people to work with every day!

Interested in McLaughlin Asset Management, Inc? Visit their
website for more information.


Doostang Employer Spotlight: China First Capital


Interview with Peter Fuhrman, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of China First Capital.


What sets China First Capital apart from other financial services employers?

We are an internationally-owned China-focused investment bank and advisory firm. Our belief is an investment bank can, and should, be a force for good. This is especially true in China. The purpose and goal of our work each day is to assist in the positive transformation of China. We do this by working selectively, and at the highest level of professionalism and integrity,  with some of China’s most important and successful companies, both private sector and state-owned. We measure our success not by the fees we earn or the bonuses we pay, but by helping our clients achieve their business goals. We choose our clients and transactions carefully, working only on those that promise to deliver wider benefits to China, by increasing wealth, consumer choice, China’s international competitiveness, the efficiency and transparency of the country’s financial sector.

We are in business to make a positive, lasting difference.

We enjoy both a leading position and a strong reputation in China investment banking.  Along with our investment banking and advisory work for clients, we are also a “thought leader” in the industry. Our research reports and commentaries, both in English and Chinese, circulate widely among business leaders, and are published in China’s leading newspapers and magazines. An example, our research into the developing crisis in China’s capital markets and private equity has had significant impacts on large capital flows as well as opening new and productive opportunities for M&A deals across the country.

What is the work culture like at China First Capital?

We are highly collaborative. But, in the end, the source of our strength and success is the strong commitment and very high standards of each individual at our firm. In other words, our company aims to be a place where high achievers with strong self-direction can flourish, their goals nurtured by the chairman and backed by the collective intelligence and experience of the entire team.  We are straight-talkers, both with one another and with clients. Bureaucracy, BS and hierarchy are not tolerated.

We try to combine positive aspects of both East and West. We draw heavily on the Confucian traditions of humility, conscientiousness, simplicity and honesty. Equally, we strive to be path-breakers in the investment banking and advisory industry in China, by making available for China’s private sector entrepreneurs the best practices, deal structures, financial innovation and rigorous analysis of large Wall Street institutions.

Though based in the southern city of Shenzhen, where the private sector first took root in modern China, we have a business that as broad and diversified as China itself. We have clients from every region as well as most industries in China.  (For a look at some of China First Capital’s recent clients and transactions, click here. )

We have more and better opportunities than most firms our size. So, we try continually to expand the range of our skills and the real-world value of our knowledge and experience. This is the fuel we use as an investment bank to help propel China’s long-term growth and prosperity.

What are you looking for in a new hire?

Above all, a person with a “higher calling”, a deep and unchangeable desire to devote one’s energy, talents, education and intellect towards a useful and positive purpose — not purely towards accumulating higher sums in one’s bank account.

We build relationships of deep trust with entrepreneurs and business leaders who are far more accomplished than we are. And yet, they seek to rely on our judgment, professionalism, honesty and strong morals. As a result, we look for people who, though often younger than the Chinese CEOs we work with,  can inspire and earn such levels of trust and respect.

3 Reasons to work here:

Each day you will leave the office knowing that you are engaged in work that will help change China for the better. You will learn more about more than you could just about anywhere else. China is a country undergoing history’s most successful sustained economic transformation. You will both witness and participate constructively in that process of positive change. It’s our belief there is no better work, anywhere, than jobs that allow you do this.

Any advice for job seekers interested in China First Capital?

Take the time to read closely and evaluate the materials and introduction on our website,

If we seem to be articulating goals and a world view that is in harmony with yours, then please send us your resume, along with an explanation (not a canned cover letter) about why you think our company, and the work we do, are the best place for you to learn, grow and flourish in a long-term career.

We are committed first to our clients’ success, not to our own glory, status or wealth. This is our greatest competitive advantage as a company and a reason so many of China’s best companies seek us out and seek our help to achieve their ambitious goals.

Interested in learning more about China First Capital?  Visit their blog for information about key trends in China’s private equity industry, M&A and capital markets. You can also view China First Capital’s recent research reports here.



How To Ask For a Promotion


June is one of the top three months for professionals in the U.S. to get promoted within their company, according to a study conducted by LinkedIn. The other two months are January and July. Take advantage of the next two months and get ready to ask for a promotion.

Even though these are the best months, asking for promotions always requires a good amount of prep work. Here are a few ways to ask for a promotion in June and July:

Emphasize your accomplishments. If you’re asking for a promotion, you must have quite a few accomplishments in your current role to make you believe you’re read to be promoted. Just like when applying for any other job, it’s important to highlight these achievements by talking about the results. Specifically, have solid data or numbers to show measurable ways your work has helped the company. You should keep track of your accomplishments and data throughout your career so they’re handy when it’s time to prove your worth.

Build your network. Get to know the higher-ups in your company. Reach out to these professionals for advice and build strong relationships with them. Look for people in the positions you want to be promoted to in the future. Set up meetings or lunches with these professionals and ask about their jobs. Learning right from the source will help you better understand their role, plus they’ll know you’re determined. Today’s mentor can become tomorrow’s peer.

Learn new skills. Your skills are just as important now as they were when you got your current job. Demonstrate your dedication to moving up in your company by continuing to develop new skills. You can do this by attending workshops, webinars, or taking classes. Look for scholarships or reimbursement programs in your company or professional organizations. Learn the skills that are currently lacking in the position you want and show your boss why you can do the job.

Volunteer for more work. Start taking on more commitments now to show you’re ready to be promoted. Volunteer for extra projects and put lots of care into their completion. By taking on more work in your current position, you will demonstrate your ability to handle the responsibilities of a promotion. This works really well if the extra projects are related to the position you want in your promotion.

Create a new position. One way for professionals to get promoted is to create a new position entirely. Look for a need not being filled within your company and determine a way to fix it. Develop a game plan and present your ideas to your boss. While this might not be a normal promotion, the extra responsibilities might turn into a new title or pay raise.

Once you’ve given your pitch to your boss, all you can do is to wait for the powers that be to make a decision. Patience is an essential quality to develop in any career, and this is definitely an opportunity to test it. Promotions require a lot of balancing on your boss’s end. Just continue to develop your accomplishments, skills, and network. It might take time, but stay determined to reach your goals.

What advice do you have for professionals asking for promotions this month?

For this post, Doostang thanks our friends at ComeRecommended.



Can I Work While I Get My MBA?


5 Tips to Balance School and Work for MBA Students

In many ways working while pursuing an MBA is a great idea.  There are the obvious benefits of earning an income while attending graduate school or getting your company to pay for part of your tuition, but perhaps most importantly, working while pursuing an MBA helps you examine business theory through real world application which may result in a more robust learning environment for you, your classmates and your professors.

So, how do you enjoy the benefits of working as your pursue your MBA, while keeping other aspects of your life in balance?

1. Strategize and Plan

Buy a planner or install a mobile app to keep track of your life.  You have to be constantly aware of your many commitments.  Don’t agree to a meeting time, family event, or business engagement without first checking your calendar.

It is entirely possible to manage all of the responsibilities of your life, but you must accept that your schedule will lose its flexibility; keep a close eye on your obligations to avoid double booking.

2. Make Time for Yourself

Be sure to set aside time every week to “do you” – go to the gym, catch up with friends over dinner, or watch your favorite programs on DVR.  If you don’t recharge your batteries you won’t have enough energy to focus on achieving your goals.

3. Communicate

Discuss your upcoming schedule with your family, professors and employer to address any anticipated conflicts in the coming in the months like a business trip that will cause you to miss class, or needing time off from work to study for finals.

4. Be Realistic

Be realistic about needing help from others.  If your mother offers to watch your children over the weekend, or co-worker offers help with a project – say thank you.  Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

Be realistic about your academic expectations – a B is not a bad grade!  Think about how many times people have actually asked you about your undergraduate GPA.  If you struggle in a class and wind up with a lower grade than you had hoped for don’t get stressed – if you’re learning you’re accomplishing your goals.  Try your best, but don’t kill yourself in the pursuit of absolute perfection

5. Take Assignments with You

Keep your schoolwork with you so you can complete a reading assignment while you wait for a meeting to start, work on a paper during your lunch hour, or respond to emails while you watch TV.  Take advantage of opportunities to get small tasks done throughout the day. If you keep your coursework readily accessible you may be surprised by the amount of work you get done while you are waiting for other things to happen.

Working while earning your MBA will be a challenge, but with careful planning and good communication you may be able to balance your life and get the most out of your academic experience.

About the Author:  Mandy Fricke is a community builder for online masters programs. In her free time she enjoys biking, traveling, and reading in coffee shops.



5 Ideas for Rewarding and Motivating Employees That Don’t Cost Money

“I’ve got some great team members who regularly go above and beyond the call of duty, who give me 110%, and are really making a difference for my company. Then I’ve got others who are steady and good, not stellar, but solid. I want to reward the stellar employees and let them know how much I value their contribution without messing up my whole compensation structure. Do you have any ideas for perks or rewards I could use that don’t involve pay?

I have yet to find an effective reward that doesn’t cost money. That seems to be the way we all keep score. People value their own being by their income and if you want to reward or motivate someone, they seem to need to see dollars. For our business, roles don’t help. Time off with pay works, but that still costs something.”
Dan Constance, Owner, Northshore Fireplace

5 Ways to Reward Your Employees:

1. Celebrate Your Success
“Logo t-shirts and coffee mugs are popular, so if we get any for customers, we include staff too. Birthdays are celebrated with cake and cards signed by everyone. We sometimes give out one-of-a-kind certificates for acts of special significance – like the shipping clerk who chased a customer on foot down several blocks with a forgotten package. We recently had a spectacular month, and to celebrate, we ran a week-long lunchtime bag-toss tournament culminating in an outside-catered onsite barbecue lunch. Turned out the tournament was a huge amount of fun, and we will definitely repeat it next year. People always appreciate being able to go home early before major holidays, and since this is not a very productive time, it is of little cost and shows our staff that the company recognizes they have lives outside of work!”
Chrissy Hansen, Marketing Manager, Cozy Products

2. Treat Employees as Co-Workers
“I, personally, really care about our employees and their families. I treat them as co-workers and not employees. I work as hard as they do. For example, during the rush of the end of the month, I will stay at work up to the time the last moving crew comes back. When the employees see you, the boss, waiting for them to come back and they realize that you are as tired as them, they will show up the next day waiting to see you at work as well. And they do. And that makes them feel part of the company. But most of all, my employees know that I will be there for them during good times and hard times. I have been there for weddings, anniversaries, baptisms, wakes, funerals and hospitals.”
Mina Georgalas, Bernard Movers

3. Let Your Team Choose Activities
“I make them come up with ideas! While it’s a small monetary investment, we have a $400 monthly budget for any sort of “fun” activities that’s pretty much first come first serve. It allows us to have all sorts of events (movie nights, ping-pong tournaments, happy hours, etc.).”
Erik Severinghaus, Founder, Simple Relevance

4. Word of Mouth Recognition
“We do a lot of work with helping companies create a culture of innovation and incentivizing employees is a critical part of the process. Ironically, when we query employees, most do not necessarily want to be financially rewarded for their actions. First and foremost, they want recognition by their peers and superiors for a job well done. From a simple mention in a staff meeting to a formal plague or trophy for a job well done – word of mouth recognition is always welcomed. Establishing a formal award system like an “Employee of the Month” program with preferred parking, a Friday afternoon off or other special treatment are also well received. Don’t hesitate to ask your own employees how they’d like to be “compensated” for a good job…customizing the gift to each employee goes a long way to making them feel empowered and supported.”
John Edelmann, Cloverleaf Innovation

5. Hire the Right People
“Motivating our employees effectively without spending too much money is a balance and once again, starts with hiring the right people who embody the values of the company. This enabled us to create an environment where our employees feel that it is their company/business and they care about its progress, growth and reputation.”
Dr. Jason Jared, Chiropractic Physician, ProACTIVE Chiropractic & Physiotherapy

It’s important to reward your top performers, but it doesn’t always have to be about the money.

About the Author: Brad Farris is the founder of EnMast, a community of business owners committed to being better leaders and growing better businesses. He is also principal advisor of Anchor Advisors, with experience leading businesses & business owners into new levels of growth and success. Through his work with over 100 Chicago area small businesses he has experience in guiding founders and business owners through the pitfalls and joys of growing their business. Prior to joining Anchor Advisors, Brad spent over 10 years managing business units for a family-owned conglomerate with sales of $2 million to $25 million. When not working Brad enjoys cycling, cooking and the NFL. He is married with 5 children and lives in Chicago, Illinois. Connect with him on Google+, Twitter