Consider a Policy for Cell Phones in the Workplace

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Member Contribution by  
of Triella Corp


Are your employees spending too much time on their phones at work? What can be done to avoid this?

Cell phones are a part of our culture and daily lives. Whatever we are doing, our iPhone, Android, or Blackberry device is always within reach. The constant need to talk with people, send text messages, and post the latest status updates not only takes up a large portion of our personal lives, it has also begun to affect our working lives.

Workplace distractions caused by employees spending time on their phones is becoming more prevalent. How do employers maintain business progression and profits while also respecting their employees’ rights to privacy and to bringing a cell phone into the workplace?

One way is to create a policy.

Policies in the workplace exist in order to provide structure to its employees and the working environment. They outline which behaviours and activities are permissible. With more cell phones present in the workplace, employers are beginning to develop policies regarding how much usage an employee can have while on the job.

While drafting a cell phone policy for the workplace might seem like a good idea, it is a daunting task. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to drafting this policy there are 4 key factors that should be considered.

Covers All Communication Devices, Not Just Cell Phones

This should be explicitly stated in your policy. In today’s world, there are many other devices people use to communicate besides cell phones (ex. Tablets, Laptops, Watches, Social Media, etc.). While cell phones can be prohibited from employee use, other devices can be forgotten. You do not want to run into the problem of an employee refraining from using their cell phone at work but continue to use their tablet or laptop for personal reasons. Make sure to be as specific as possible, if you want your employees to cut down on personal devices at work, make sure you account for all of their devices.

Exceptions for Appropriate and Reasonable Uses for Cell Phones

One of the reasons people have cell phones is for safety. You feel better knowing that in case of an emergency you can always call for help. In terms of the workplace, this factor makes it difficult for cell phone policies to be enforced. How do you prohibit the use of cell phones while still allowing employees to be available to their family members in case of an emergency?

There is no clear answer to this question. Some businesses are more firm on the matter, opting for a complete ban on cell phones regardless of an emergency. If you wish to be fair to your employees, then your policy should have a stipulation regarding appropriate cell phone usage. For example, allowing a 15 minute break each workday for employees to check their messages or make personal phone calls.

Coverage of All Employees

An effective policy should cover all employees in the workforce. If cell phones are not allowed in the workplace it should be for everyone, the policy will not take otherwise. Everyone has to be on equal footing in this respect, even employees who are part-time, consultants, or contractors should be included. If they are in any way associated with the business the policy should apply to them.

Enforced Consistently and Regularly

If a policy regarding cell phones is to be written it must be regularly and consistently reinforced. It does not do a business good if an employer instigates a policy and then leaves it in a proverbial desk-drawer for years on end. Employees should be regularly reminded that the policy exists. By doing this, employers are safeguarding their businesses by ensuring that no employee can complain about not being aware of the policy if they are caught breaking it.

When it comes to cell phones in the workplace, an employer can bet that every employee has one and is regularly using it. If a business’ productivity and profits are being damaged by cell phones then the instigation of a policy might be the best course of action. While each policy will be different for each business, consider these 4 qualities when drafting, they will help provide a framework.

*Adapted from http://ohsinsider.com/cellphonehr.pdf 

Courtney Rosebush is a Marketing and Sales Coordinator at Triella, a technology consulting company specializing in providing technology audits, planning advice, project management and other CIO-related services to small and medium sized firms. Courtney can be reached at 647.426.1004 x 227. Foradditional articles, go to http://www.triella.com/publications. Triella is a VMware Professional Partner, Microsoft Certified Partner, Citrix Solution Advisor – Silver, Dell Preferred Partner, Authorized Worldox Reseller and a Kaspersky Reseller.

How to Acquire and Manage Talent Globally

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So you’re a manager of a retail store. You scan the room, seeing each one of your employees through the several racks of woman’s garments you just put on sale two days ago. You look to your left and see one employee with their shoulders sagged and a mundane look on their face. You look to your right and you see your star sales representative chatting up a storm with a couple of prospective buyers.

It’s easy to manage employees and talent when everything and everyone is literally right in front of your face. Is Pete meeting his targets? Nope. Why? Probably because he spends more time on his phone than an adolescent in love. You see that ‘A + B’ usually equals ‘C’.

But talent acquisition and management takes much more effort when you – the CEO, President, HR Manager, etc. – are located a world apart. Just ask Dennis Ensing, CEO of TransGaming.

A little about Ensing and TransGaming. In short, TransGaming today offers high-quality games and apps direct to Smart TVs everywhere. When asked for an elevator pitch, Ensing gave a one-sentence recap – “What Netflix is to movies, we want to be for video games.” As such, Ensing has built a comprehensive operation and has employees in three countries: Ukraine, Israel and Canada.

If this working model sounds familiar to you, or you plan on expanding your company globally, you may have a few questions. After picking Ensing’s brain, this is what we found:

Hire Through Agencies On-Site

Looking for talent? There are many ways to do so – co-op students, LinkedIn, word of mouth, job boards. Ensing sang praises for engineering co-op students at Waterloo when he was looking for nearby talent years ago. Now TransGaming hires by way of on-site agencies. When staffing a foreign office, it’s the most efficient and cost effect way to hire, says Ensing.

“Typically they are much less expensive than they are here, so we do make overseas hiring a practice.”

“In Ukraine, you get two to three people for the price of one, so its the first place we think of hiring and we have some really great and talented people there who are happy to work for us.”

Have a Personal Touch, Be Connected

As the chief, the need to be accessible is heavy in any working capacity, but when you have employees scattered across the globe, that need is likely a little heavier. For Ensing, he also has TransGaming troops in two of the world’s most unstable areas today. Israel’s regular struggles with Gaza and Ukraine’s recent tussle with Russia have exponentially increased the importance of not only communication, but support from Ensing and his management team.

Read ‘What the crisis in Ukraine taught us about our staff’, a story published in the Globe and Mail about TransGaming’s fiery experience with Ukraine’s protests in Kiev.

“I think personal touch is incredibly important. At the end of the day, people respond when they are valued and they are valued when you take the time to know who they are, what matters to them and what makes them tick.”

“I make regular trips overseas, I’ve been to our overseas offices three times this year, and our VP of Finance has also made the trip.”

“Every time I go, I have a team session with everyone in the office. On top of that, we have quarterly ‘town halls’. We also have a scrolling PowerPoint in each office that is updated daily with news and information.”

Tear Down Your Borders

So there are boarders. That doesn’t stop you from Facebooking your mother-in-law in Europe. Over 100 years of modern globalization has torn down these imaginary borders, and that can apply to your working eco-system as well.

“I actually still don’t think we get connected enough. I’m now looking for some new thinking about that myself and one of the things I’ve been leaning towards is an activity that is inter-office. Maybe it’s healthy eating, maybe it’s having a more active lifestyle. We want to take one person from each office and make a team, which allows them to interact together… to try to be the best of all the teams within the company in that activity.”

“I don’t think any one thing works, it definitely depends on the culture.”

Recruitment Resolutions: Getting Ready for the New Year

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Sponsor Contribution by  of TalentMinded

I’m not a huge fan of resolutions however I do value the inspiration and fresh outlook a new year can bring to business.  So I say—forget getting a gym membership and resolving to drink less coffee—for a real change in 2016, look for opportunities to revamp and refresh your recruitment! What changes will you make to your recruitment process in 2016 that will have a measurableimpact on your company’s business? A little reflection and a few changes now can get you off to a great start and working toward big results in the New Year: better hires, faster time-to-fill metrics, improved retention, and a positive impact on revenue.

Here are five suggestions to get you started:

  1. Review your Recruitment Process: Time to take a step back and ask the hard questions. Is your recruitment process really working—and are you satisfied with the results? Does your process meet the needs of candidates? Are there steps that you can tweak or remove to get the same or better results? Do you have the tools you need to make good hiring decisions? Only by digging down into what’s working and what’s not can you begin to create a plan to make 2016 your best year ever. Consider taking this time to map out your current process identifying areas of waste and brainstorming on ways to improve and save time.  This process will help you make room for new ways of doing things better.
  2. Refresh Your Referral Program: Your employees are going to be super active and social over the holidays—make sure they’re always recruiting! You’ll want to have planted those seeds when employees’ friends starting thinking about finding new jobs. Now’s also a great time to review where your referral program succeeded and fell short over the past year—do you notice any patterns? Are your incentives working? Referrals should account for 20% or more of your hiring.  If you’re not there—how can you give the program greater corporate visibility in 2016? Consider giving your program a name or kick starting the New Year with double the bonus for referrals to make sure you don’t miss Q1 hiring targets. A little planning now can help transform your referral program into a candidate-generating powerhouse.
  3. Conduct an EVP Survey: Your unique Employment Value Proposition (EVP) are all the things that make your company a great employer, above and beyond a paycheque. Ask your employees: why did they really choose to join the company, and why do they stay? Gaining a better understanding of what your employees value about working for you is a critical step in developing recruitment and retention strategies that really work, and the insights can also be used to better target messaging on your career page, blog, job ads and more. (And CEOs, don’t discount this exercise—what your employees truly value is often different than you’d think.)
  4. Add an Assessment Tool: Reflecting back on your best hires in 2015, do you know what’s made them successful? If not, find out! Many assessment tools benchmark and build profiles using the profiles of your current staff. If you are looking to hire more people like those that drive success in your organization, now is a great time to profile and analyze your current teams. We recommend solutions like Predictive Success, a candidate-friendly and highly accurate assessment tool.  Also watch out for new tools on the market like Fortay that help you assess culture ‘fit’.
  5. Revitalize Your Social Media: As the excitement of a new platform wears off, dust begins to settle on our social media presences. Don’t let your feeds be ignored! Take a moment to leverage the analytics behind these tools and review what worked and what didn’t about your social media outreach, and plan for how you can better use these tools in the coming year to support other aspects of your recruitment strategy. Or, if you’re not already using Glassdoor, Facebook or Twitter to promote opportunities to potential candidates and share insights about your company, then now is a great time to build a strategy. It’s critical to have an editorial plan, defined roles and responsibilities, and social media guidelines your staff can follow year-round.

Your recruitment resolutions don’t have to be super ambitious or disruptive. There is innovation in simplifying processes, getting back to basics and piloting new trends on a small scale to determine what works.  With a little strategic thinking and foresight, you can be ready to start the New Year with a bang—and get the jump on your competition. Think ahead and make recruiting smarter your company’s key competitive advantage.  Here’s to an awesome year ahead!

We’re TalentMinded!  We help companies modernize their recruitment.  We audit and assess your recruitment function and make smart recommendations to help move your company forward.  And it’s not just about the ‘shiny’ stuff.  Our clients appreciate our pragmatic and analytical approach that provides recommendations that can be easily implemented and most importantly, actually work. 

At TalentMinded we are passionate about helping our clients grow by hiring the right people.  If you need to develop or re-work your recruitment strategy, ramp up hiring fast or need help resourcing a special project, then TalentMinded may be the right solution for you.  Contact us for more information about what we do and how we do it – kim@talentminded.ca or visit us at talentminded.ca.

Telling Customer-Focused Stories

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Member Contribution by  of Volaris

CEO at Volaris Group – We strengthen businesses and enable them to be clear leaders within their focused industry.

In today’s marketplace, it is important to tell customer stories rather than push products. The companies within Volaris are passionate about the products they offer and care a lot about them. In some cases, they spend decades working on their products to ensure that their customers get the most value out of them. Unfortunately, sometimes this mentality can lead you into a trap of thinking that the business is all about its products – well it’s not.

It’s about its customers. Understanding what problems you’re solving for your customers or what value you are adding is what it is all about.

One of the great ways to make sure you’re listening to your customers is to tell customer stories. There’s all sorts of ways to do that, with case studies being a sure-fire option. But it’s imperative to listen to what the customer is saying when they’re telling their story. It isn’t only about how they use one of the products or solutions you have, it’s about how they do their job and how they get done what they need to get done.

Then you really understand where your customer is coming from. Those stories are great because you can use it to make sure that your team understands exactly what the customer is thinking. As well, other customers or potential customers might learn from those stories. It’s so much better than putting a list of product names up and trying to talk about what each product does. Instead, talk about what a customer does and how they use your solution or technology.

I firmly believe that’s the way to go. Not only do you connect with your customers, but you also ensure that your products stay current with what your customers’ needs are.

6 Ways Social Intranets Drive Employee Engagement

Technology shouldn’t just be aimed at the products and offerings companies put on the market for their customers. In addition to serving as tools for getting the job done, technology also presents employers with exciting options for engaging staff members in new ways. In particular, social networks have the potential to transform the workplace, build positive co-worker dynamics, and drive better business returns.

Social Media as a Corporate Tool 

Forbes magazine noted that in this day and age, social media can make or break an organization’s reputation. Often, people think of this connection in terms of online consumer feedback and customer engagement platforms. However, a recent study by Weber Shandwick entitled “Employees Rising: Seizing the Opportunity in Employee Activism” indicated that social media has an important role within the work environment, and its use can lead to a number of positive outcomes for enterprises. Similarly, Business 2 Community contributor Angela Everett suggested that social platforms could prove valuable for internal communications within a company.

In short, this sort of technology offers remarkable opportunities for employers to shape their employee culture and foster higher employee engagement levels. Here’s 6 ways social intranets drive employee engagement:

  1. Collaboration and visibility.  Everett described how Nokia implemented an internal social media network to engage employees. By allowing workers to post ideas and comment about their projects, employees throughout the organization were able to work together, seek and give advice, as well as have a sense of what others were working on. This sort of environment can inspire creativity while providing convenient, rapid ways for team members to communicate with each other.
  2. Advocacy.  The Shandwick study revealed that social media activity helped encourage “employee activism,” where workers drew positive attention to their employers and defended their companies from criticism, Forbes explained. One-third of the study’s participants praised or posted positive comments about their employers online.
  3. Storytelling.  On a similar note, Forbes mentioned that social media networks are excellent platforms for brand storytelling. Many employers encourage their workers to share company information and news to engage with the public and keep patrons informed of the latest happenings.
  4. Sales improvements.  When employers encourage their workers to be active on social platforms, those employees are more likely to help increase sales, the study found, according to Forbes. Engaging employees in this manner can help bolster profits.
  5. Employee feedback.  Social systems are excellent tools for managers to collect information about workers’ performance – and their opinions and ideas. Everett suggested that employers use voting mechanisms or other features to solicit feedback from workers. This method can be used to identify what projects, workplace policies, etc., are most important to team members.
  6. Motivational work environment.  Social platforms are excellent resources for encouraging peer-to-peer recognition. This can foster a pleasant co-worker atmosphere marked by mutual trust and acknowledgement. In addition, companies can praise high-performing employees for their contributions, positively reinforcing good behavior and motivating team members to give full energy to their projects.

Overall, any technological initiative should speak to the enterprise’s culture and values. Companies should seek the right solution that can be tailored to a company’s unique workforce, activities, business goals and organizational structure. By focusing on their employees and offering them robust, exciting tools to engage with their colleagues or the public, businesses can create a workforce that is full of talented people who are also great brand ambassadors.

‘Non-Frantic’ Change in Business – Why Do It?

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If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. 

It’s pretty safe to say this mantra has found a home in the brains of many business people today, and with good reason. It’s easy to see a clean break in the foundation of a business — if you’re in the red consistently, or if your customers are clamoring for reform, there’s no real argument. But what if broken is not easily seen? Or what if your company, monetarily speaking, is not really broken at all?

Andrea Potter, General Manager of TripSpark Technologies, runs a company that serves the need for non-emergency mid-sized transit properties and private providers within public transit agencies. Potter’s company is just approaching the year and a half mark and, by her account, TripSpark is preforming very well. But it would be remiss to start the story here.

Potter is no stranger to the transit servicing industry, as her nearly fifteen years of experience working with transit service giant Trapeze can attribute. Starting as a director of sales in 1999, Potter climbed the ranks and became Vice President of Customer Care.

No, Trapeze is and definitely was never broken. However, Potter saw something clear enough to have her separate and plunge into another company.

“Trapeze has been around since the late 80s and in early 2014 we found we were really focusing a lot of our efforts on our very large transit properties (Toronto Transit, LA Metro, New York City Transit) and we weren’t filling the needs of the rest of the market,” said Potter.

It’s very easy for a businessperson to simply rest on the laurels of success. Trapeze is a very stable business with nearly 30 years of efforts working behind it. Sure, Potter could have focused on the positives, but sometimes business isn’t always about the bottom line.

“I could have died very happily working with Trapeze because I love working with our customers… but we weren’t spending enough time on all our customers,” said Potter. “Customers like colleges and universities and K to 12 schools.”

“We broke out into TripSpark to service a market largely ignored. It came down to spending 80 percent of our time on 20 percent of the market, we found that very specifically,” she said.

Officially, TripSpark grew from Trapeze in July 2014 and the transition came relatively easy. TripSpark, like Trapeze, is an operating company of Constellation Software, and as such Potter was able to leverage the value of Constellation’s name and use it to jumpstart her new company.

More Than a Hunch 

“I personally visited about 60 clients and said ‘these are the assumptions we’re making in your industry, are they true?’ and the reality was we were on target by about 80 or 90 percent, but we did have adjust to a couple things. Within our first year, we launched a number of products that fit the needs of our customer.”

“Part of what we’re doing is not doing what Trapeze did. If we wanted to do what Trapeze did, we would have just stayed as part of Trapeze. We do a lot of reach out… and that marketing effort is important to us.”