Monthly Archives: February 2017

How Much Time Is Disposed by Your Employees on Their Mobile Phones?

While their time cards might say they are putting in a full day, many employees aren’t devoting all their time in the office to their work, new research finds.

The study from the staffing firmOfficeTeam revealed that mobile devices are the biggest distraction during the workday. Specifically, workers waste an average of 56 minutes per day, nearly five hours a week, using their mobile devices for non-work activities.

The research shows that employees are using cell phones for a wide range of non-work-related activities. Thirty percent say they spend most of their time checking personal email, with 28 percent admitting to perusing social networks. Checking out sports or entertainment sites, playing mobile games, and doing some online shopping are the other ways workers say they waste most of their time on their mobile devices. [Want to increase productivity? Cut back on meetings and distractions]

“It’s understandable that employees may occasionally use their mobile devices or attend to personal tasks during business hours,” said Brandi Britton, a district president for OfficeTeam, in a statement. “But these activities can easily become big distractions.”

Employees are also using their mobile devices to get around road blocks employers have in place to keep their staff focused on work. Nearly 60 percent of the employees surveyed said they often use their personal devices at work to access websites that are blocked by their company, up from just 22 percent who did so in 2012.

More than half of the employees surveyed said their company blocks them from visiting at least some websites in the office. The research found that 39 percent of employers block social media sites on the company network, 30 percent restrict access to entertainment sites, 27 percent don’t allow visits to online shopping sites, and 23 percent bar employees from checking out sports websites.

Cell phones aren’t the only distractions. Employees also admit to spending 42 minutes a day, on average, on personal tasks. When added together with the time they spend on their mobile devices, employees are wasting nearly eight hours, close to one full day a week, on non-work tasks.

Britton said employees should better manage their time so they aren’t wasting valuable working hours.

“To best manage their time, staff can take advantage of breaks during lunch and throughout the day to catch up on non-work email or errands,” she said.

The study was based on surveys of more than 300 U.S. workers employed in office environments, and more than 300 senior managers at U.S. companies with 20 or more employees.

Snapshot Small Business in Restauration

Our Small Business Snapshot series features photos that represent, in just one image, what the small businesses we feature are all about. Dana Tanner, founder and co-owner of Restauration, explains how this image represents the business.

Restauration is a combination of two of our favorite words that are defining pillars of the Long Beach, California community: restaurant and restore. Situated in the vibrant and creative stretch on 4th Street dubbed Retro Row, our little eatery brings the Long Beach family together to pay tribute to the American culinary spirit while embracing modern fare, using locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, many of which we grow ourselves.

In high school I was a hostess at a local swanky restaurant in Scottsdale, Arizona. Over the years, I graduated from bussing to serving and then to management. I have always worked for locally-owned and operated establishments, including managing The Melting Pot, which I watched grow from a small operation into a large international franchise. I had dabbled in some retail management as well in my early 20s, but was always drawn back to restaurants.

While I learned a lot from managing groups like The Melting Pot and Mohawk Bend, I decided to take the knowledge I had gained and move on to further my development in operations and food in general. I began looking for a space for my own restaurant and stumbled upon a site in Long Beach. I immediately fell in love with the venue and took a leap of faith in opening Restauration, which is celebrating three years this month. A year into the process, we went through some staff changes and found Chef Philip Pretty, who has really taken the local, fresh food mantra to heart and now co-owns Restauration with me.

Our goal at Restauration is to provide the community with farm-to-table high-end cuisine at a reasonable price point. While many restaurants buy fresh produce from local farmers’ markets, Chef Phil (photographed here) cooks a hearty portion of our menu with the produce we grow and harvest in our own farm plots, which is also located in urban Long Beach, just a few miles from Restauration.

This photo not only shows Chef Phil physically harvesting lettuce himself to be used on our menu later that night or the next day, but also gives diners an idea of how fresh all of our ingredients are and how dedicated we are to the quality – so much so that we want to watch it grow from seed to produce ourselves. Right now, Restauration plants and harvests 25 to 30 percent of its own produce. As we continue to grow our 1,000 square-foot farm space tended by Organic Harvest Gardens, we hope to grow this percentage as well!

Our biggest challenge is explaining to customers that because we are a dedicated farm-to-table restaurant, their favorite menu item may not always be available. We have a lot of regulars (and even not-so-regulars) who have favorites, like our Brussels sprouts. While diners may be able to order these veggies elsewhere in California anytime of the year, at Restauration, if it isn’t Brussels sprout season we won’t be serving them. This is because we want to only offer those items when they are at their freshest during their peak season.

We believe this dedication to sourcing locally and seasonally really makes everything on our menu taste its very best, as well as supports our community and presents the opportunity to introduce our guests to new foods that they may not have tried had their favorite menu item been available – which we love!

3 Ways to Encourage Professional Development Faster in the Workplace

Each member of a company is just as valuable as the next, offering their own set of skills, insight and personality. As team members, your employees can work both individually and together to reach a common goal.

Personal growth of each employee contributes to the success of the entire business. Here are three ways to encourage professional development in the workplace.

Having a secure job doesn’t mean employees need to stop learning academically. If workers are interested in furthering their education, they should be encouraged to do so, whether it’s finishing college or simply building their skills with a class or two.

“The baseline of professional development is a college education, yet there are more than 30 million Americans that have partial college credit but don’t have a college degree,” said Adrian Ridner, CEO and co-founder of Earning a college degree allows workers to perfect their skill sets in each industry, which benefits the company as well, he added.

Employers should consider additional programs for their employees to continue higher education at a lower cost. Companies can form partnerships or provide access to workplace education, like online lessons and in-house training sessions, Ridner stated.

“With the advent of technology and online learning, it’s easier and more inexpensive than ever to foster a culture of learning in the workplace,” he said.

No worker is perfect, which is why it’s necessary to address skill gaps. Leaders should sit down with their employees to cover any lacking areas, discuss improvement methods and offer support.

However, don’t forget to acknowledge an employee’s talent and skills in the areas where they excel. This builds confidence, said Ridner, and allows for a more skilled workforce and better employee retention and morale. Forty-two percent of millennials change jobs every one to three years, so empowering employees, especially younger workers who are susceptible to job hopping, will reduce turnover rates.

It’s also crucial for employees to progress with societal developments. Since rapid technology advancements impact most industries, workers must have the professional skills to be flexible and transition with their companies, he said.

Employers should arrange brainstorming groups or mentorship programs to help workers connect with each other, Ridner stated. For example, organizes 24-hour “Rockethons” where the company forms small teams to discuss ideas, create prototypes, improve tools and more.

Bouncing suggestions around the office will inspire employees to be passionate in their work, encouraging personal and professional growth for everyone.

“Creating a culture of learning in the workplace is a shared responsibility,” Ridner said. “If your employer doesn’t have any academic or professional development programs in place, feel free to suggest it.”

Social Leaders Free the Ins and Outs of Social Media

According to the Pew Research Center, digitally native millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. labor force, and outside of work, they represent $200 billion in annual buying power. Simply put, smart business leaders must get comfortable on social media if they want to engage in successful internal communications with their employees and successful external communications with their customers.

True social leaders like Richard Branson and Elon Musk understand the importance of social media and have millions of followers to show for it. Yet there are other senior business execs who outsource this critical task to entry-level marketers – or skip it altogether.

In his 2014 book, “A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive” (AMACOM), Mark Babbitt, founder of the young professionals’ social community YouTern, highlighted three types of leaders who’ve yet to take the social media plunge: the doubter, the broadcaster and the superior.

  • The doubter still doesn’t believe social media is here to stay. Instead, this leader sees social as a fad and a waste of both the leader’s and the organization’s time. While other industry competitors use social strategies to build communities and create brand ambassadors, the doubter’s company misses out.
  • The broadcaster hasn’t fully grasped the power of social. While this leader is comfortable using social networks, he or she participates in one-way communication – putting out content but failing to engage with and listen to the company’s followers.
  • The superior is ruled by ego. This leader feels invincible and believes that the rules of social media don’t apply to him or her. Leaders like this mistakenly think that their executive status can protect against public backlash if they say something controversial or insensitive, but they are quickly corrected when such incidents occur.

“If this was 1999 or 2000, we might be talking about whether a leader needs to get on email and understand how email works,” said Ryan Holmes, founder and CEO of the social media management dashboard Hootsuite. “We all know now that if a leader doesn’t understand email, he’s kind of a dinosaur facing obsolescence. [Similarly], social media is a key tool that all leaders need to have in their toolkit.”

When leaders avoid social media, the impact doesn’t just fall on the companies they run. By failing to engage with the public at large (even those who aren’t direct customers), business leaders miss the opportunity to become established thought leaders and build personal brands outside of their businesses.

“You, as an individual and a leader, can go places that your company’s brand cannot,” said Holmes. “The New York Times is not going to accept a contributed article from Virgin, but if Richard Branson wanted to write an article, they’d take it. And that’s because it’s him, not the company. People want to hear from people.”

With all this in mind, Holmes wrote “The 4 Billion Dollar Tweet: A Guide for Getting Leaders Off the Social Sidelines” (Maple Syrup Mafia Publishing, 2017). Inspired by a Donald Trump tweet that triggered a $4 billion single-day plummet of Lockheed Martin stock after company leadership failed to respond, Holmes’ book is the busy leader’s pocket guide to social media.

Serving as the foundation of the book are Holmes’ Six Pillars of Social Leadership, designed to get wary business executives off the sidelines and into the social media game as quickly and effectively as possible:

A “personal touch is key in social media,” said Holmes, but he acknowledges that few leaders have the time to effectively engage on social media on their own. He recommends leveraging a socially savvy mentee, an in-house communications team, or even a third-party social media management company or consultant for help in determining overall strategy and high-level initiatives. But, adds Holmes, “social media is not something you can pass off to your marketing millennials and expect that they can control and manage it. It needs leadership.”

Should you be irreverent on social media? Humorous? Informative? Determining the audience you want to reach and what change you want to provoke will help shape that voice. Seeking insight from an outside perspective (see Pillar 1) will help as well.

With the seemingly constant launches of new social media platforms, keeping up with all of them can seem impossible. And that’s because it is. Instead, says Holmes, determine where your market is and choose the platform where it congregates most.

As a quick primer, Holmes says, “LinkedIn is a powerful B2B network; Twitter is the domain of the tech- and media-savvy; Facebook and Instagram have broad consumer reach; and Snapchat is dominant among teen users.”

We’ve all heard that content is king, and that certainly applies to social media, whether you’re sharing informative videos, industry insights or hilarious outtakes from your recent vacation. But there’s more.

“The real key to success – and where most leaders fail – is simple consistency,” Holmes wrote. “This can be as minimal as allocating five minutes a day, or even five minutes a week.”

The surest way to make a social post go viral is to actually help drive traffic. Holmes recommends enlisting team members to share posts on their social media channels or paying a fee to have certain posts promoted on each social media network.

Aside from them being short on time, Holmes says that most social-averse leaders stay on the sidelines because they’re afraid of making a mistake.

“The reality is that social leaders don’t have a social net,” he wrote. “The occasional slipup is par for the course. We all make mistakes, after all. What sets true leaders apart is willingness to own them.”