Management – How to Alleviate 10 Trending Issues in HR

Along with the 21st century revolution in technology, there have been dramatic changes in human-resources management in every industry and profession.

This means there are many pitfalls to avoid in our evolving litigious society. Everyday it seems there are changes in law and societal norms.

You have tons of responsibilities in order to stay profitable, maintain employee morale and to avoid legal issues. Whew, it’s seemingly overpowering.

You know, of course, if you make a mistake there could be disastrous ramifications.

In general, bear in mind these emerging issues:

1. Teaching moments

First and foremost, it’s increasingly important to read and stay current on events in business.

When other companies and nonprofits make negative headlines, it’s an opportunity for you to learn and if necessary to implement improvements in policies and procedures.

As a starting point for a safety net, use Google Alerts for any or all the appropriate HR keywords. Plan carefully as it’s a long list of subjects.

This also means using the news events as teaching moments to educate your employees.

2. Handbook updates

Neither you, nor your company, and nor should your employees be relying on an employee handbook with illegal or antiquated policies. To avoid legal issues, make certain you have the best handbook values.

For your handbook, consider mandating arbitration to discourage frivolous complaints and lawsuits.

With all due disrespect for the legal profession, any time lawyers and juries are unnecessarily involved you can expect uncertainty.

Incidentally, companies that don’t have online employee handbooks are missing noteworthy opportunities in human resources.

3. Choosing words carefully

Whether you’re counseling one of your employees, documenting behavior and performance, or writing your handbook, be careful with your choice of words.

For example, a well-written set of performance goals work will help motivate employees and will help them focus better on their responsibilities. You can see 10 sample goal phrases here.

Avoid what an outside observer, such as judge, would consider to be “opinion.” So be specific about events and examples.

Times have changed. Above all, don’t use the word, “attitude.” You’ll be inviting legal trouble.

4. Gender bias

Actually, any form of bias or discrimination should be eliminated from your workplace, but gender bias has seeming been making more headlines.

ASAP, make sure to audit your benefits, policies and salaries to guard against gender bias. Continue to monitor your records. Make sure supervisors know to avoid gender bias.

These steps will help avert litigation or government involvement. But you need to do more to avoid EEOC discrimination suits.

Besides, know that your employees surf the Internet and pay attention to news coverage about inequality.

5. Terminations

Even if immediate termination seems appropriate, in most cases take a deep breath, document events, and pause for strategizing.

Instruct your employee to leave and report to HR the next day. Then, give the employee the opportunity to explain any possible extenuating circumstances.

Keep in mind that if you’re forced to terminate workers, ask yourself the right questions.

6. Pre-emptive legal action

In other words, don’t wait until an event blows up in your face. You’ll be more productive and will save money overall, if you use your outside attorney as an advisor.

Hopefully, you develop an intuitive antenna for HR issues before they become a crisis. When you anticipate a problem, call your attorney and ask questions before a crisis develops.

It’s much less costly to avoid courtroom litigation. By warding off problems, you’ll avoid an expensive legal defense.

You’ll need an HR specialist. Generally speaking, selecting the right business attorney, talent and skill levels are among the crucial traits needed for your success. So, have the right attorney for your business.

7. Anger in discipline

One rule of thumb is that it’s never OK to get angry in disciplining employees.

Not only does it help keep your blood pressure low, you can discipline or fire workers without causing unproductive drama and legal hassles.

Civility is important. So be tough on problems but soft on employees.

Careful planning is necessary before you give an employee an appraisal or before you terminate a person. In difficult situations, it’s vital for you to say the right things.

8. Employment Eligibility Verification forms (Form I-9)

Asking for green cards creates a huge risk factor. Don’t ask a lawful permanent resident for a green card.

Instead, request to see a driver’s license or other documentation. And make sure your I-9 records comply with the federal government. That’s an important step in preparation for an unannounced visit from ICE.

9. Retention of documents

Think about your retention of records. There are, of course, laws for records you need to keep. Laws require certain records anywhere from one to 30 years.

To avoid possible mistakes by destroying employee records too soon, add two or three years to the required duration in your retention of documents.

If you aren’t able to supply relevant documentation, you’ll pay a heavy price.

In some cases, you’ll even be forced to give the job back to a nonperforming or toxic employee so use best practices to guard against legal risks.

10. Rules regarding tattoos

As the adage goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If you have a rule regarding tattoos, avoid a mistake.

It’s not enough for your policy to inform employees that they can’t show “offensive tattoos.” Therefore, prohibit “visible tattoos.”

From the Coach’s Corner, related information:

Tips to Prevent or, if Necessary, Eliminate Employee Toxicity — From time to time, nearly every boss has to cope with an employee’s negativity. That’s annoying enough, but you’ve got a nightmare if toxic attitudes spread among the rest of your workers. Here are solutions.

HR: Is it Time to Rethink Your Marijuana-Testing Policy?  — For HR departments, it was once-unthinkable: Deleting Marijuana from the list of drugs in workplace drug-testing programs. But should you? And what should you do about your handbook policies?

Tips for Productive Meetings to Improve Performance — Here’s a checklist to engage your employees in energetic, inspiring staff meetings that will increase profits.

Legal HR Issues? Best Practices in Workplace Investigations — As an employer, one of your biggest nightmares can be issues involving your employees. There can be many reasons to conduct an investigation. “Action expresses priorities,” said Mohandas Gandhi. So you should act quickly.

10 Tips on Responding to EEOC Complaints — Despite all the court cases, warnings and complaints filed at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, EEOC complaints are a nightmare for management.

“The value of a business is a function of how well the financial capital and the intellectual capital are managed by the human capital. You’d better get the human capital part right.” 

-Dave Bookbinder


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

HR: Is it Time to Rethink Your Marijuana-Testing Policy?

For HR departments, it was once-unthinkable: Deleting marijuana from the list of drugs in workplace drug-testing programs.

Not only is it a public-safety issue in vehicle traffic, it’s a quandary for workplace safety.

To circumvent lawmakers in state legislatures, a majority of states have legalized pot use via ballot initiatives from grassroots petitions.

Such states have either legalized the sale and use of recreational marijuana or they have decriminalized the possession and use of pot.

Colorado case study

Starting in 2014, Colorado has been a leader in legalizing the use of pot.

However, a report by the Colorado Department of Transportation indicated traffic fatalities increased 24 percent in the ensuing three years after legalizing pot.

Strangely, the report did not cite marijuana as a cause, but it did indicate that Colorado had an increase in population.

The report also said: “The rise in fatalities is part of a national trend. Fatalities are up nationally by about 8 percent.”

So let’s connect the dots. Since legalizing pot, Colorado’s dramatic increase in traffic fatalities is 300 percent higher than the nation as a whole.

Handbook policies

Hmm. So what should be the handbook policies of companies given the public’s acceptance and the growing legalization of pot use vis-à-vis public safety issues?

While it’s a good idea to revisit workplace policies, you probably don’t have to make changes as you can still tell employees they cannot use pot on the job, can’t bring it to work, and they cannot be impaired while working.

As for testing, marijuana stays in a person’s system for a long time because it’s metabolized differently than alcohol. Even if a worker smokes the drug off-duty over the weekend, the person will test positively days later at work.

Already, many companies have stopped testing for pot use. Why?

They’ve repeatedly had to terminate good-performing workers because they failed drug tests.

However, the employers had great difficulty in replacing the employees because applicants kept failing the tests, as well.

So such companies that stopped testing for marijuana have enjoyed a recruiting advantage. Countless workers now know they can smoke pot without hurting their chances for a job.

It’s reasonable to assume that the number of states legalizing marijuana for medical and/or recreational use is likely to increase.

Conflict with federal law

However, possessing or using marijuana is illegal under federal law.

Under the Controlled Substances Act, pot is deemed a Schedule I drug along other drugs such as ecstasy, heroin and LSD. This means it’s considered to have a probability for abuse.

For jobs that necessitate full safety behavior such as operating equipment or driving, the law requires companies to terminate workers who test positive for marijuana.

For companies that contract with the federal government, drug-free workplaces are required.

Indeed, just like alcohol – even in states where pot use is legal – companies are able to test workers for drug use, prohibit them from using marijuana or being high on the job.

Medical use

The medical use of marijuana complicates the situation and creates more challenges for companies.

Federal law prohibits doctors from prescribing marijuana. Furthermore, marijuana cardholders mistakenly believe they’re immune from employers’ zero-tolerance policies.

So company policies might indicate the necessity to start a dialogue with medical-use employees for an accommodation.

Perhaps an alternative can be prescribed. Or an employer might consider allowing an employee to go on leave.

However, what’s an employer to do with other employees who subsequently ask for medical leave over their marijuana use?

It depends on the company’s willingness to accept risk.

Some companies will want to keep their zero-tolerance policy to stay in compliance with federal law. On this, they’re on solid legal ground.

Other companies will want to adhere to their local and state marijuana laws, especially for certain high-performing employees. But it’d be a fairness issue – they’d have to do it for all other workers, too.

Screening alternatives

There are alternatives to screening for marijuana use, including the training of your managers to spot certain behaviors and factors such as bloodshot eyes.

For a lot of employers, it might come down to the types of duties that are dangerous when workers are impaired. For truck drivers or forklift operators, marijuana use could be a safety issue.

All of this prompts a consideration: Whether you should review your marijuana policy.

Impairment is an issue for safety-sensitive industries. If that’s the case your handbook should explain marijuana use is prohibited in your workplace and for employees who are on the clock.

Personally, after a CPA gave my firm a dysfunctional performance I once had to terminate a him whom I also suspected was a marijuana user.

Furthermore, I would not want a marijuana-using employee handling my finances or IT affairs.

However, on a case-by-case situation, you can consider whether to impose a zero-tolerance and firing policy.

But in this litigious society, clear and effective communication of your policies is paramount.

If you want to keep a zero-tolerance policy, you should be proactive with your policy.

You can acknowledge marijuana use is legal and state you nonetheless have a zero-tolerance policy, but you must explain what it means for your employees.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related HR issues:

10 Best Practices for an Online Employee Handbook — Companies that don’t convert their employee handbooks into electronic documents are missing noteworthy opportunities in human resources. Conversely, businesses that switch to a digital format accomplish at least five HR goals.

Best Employee-Handbook Values to Avoid Legal Issues — Neither you, nor your company and nor should your employees be relying on an employee handbook with illegal or antiquated policies. Here are employee-handbook values to consider.

Best Practices with HR Records to Guard against Legal Risks — If you aren’t able to supply relevant documentation, you’ll pay a heavy price. In some cases, you’ll even be forced to give the job back to a nonperforming or toxic employee.

For Best HR Performance Reviews, 10 Sample Goal Phrases — A well-written set of performance goals work to motivate employees and help them to focus better on their responsibilities. They must be written with the right phrasing so they inspire performance and don’t invite costly lawsuits.

“So many writers make dope glamorous; a form of romantic transgression, or world-weariness, or poetic sensitivity, or hipness. Mainly it’s the stuff of ritualistic communion among inarticulate bores.” 

-Leonard Michaels


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Strategies to Prepare Your Franchisees for Strong Growth

Many franchised companies seemingly meet all the requirements to succeed.

They provide the necessary support to their franchisees with a turn-key operation. They continually create products. They advertise to promote their company’s overall reputation.

However, that’s not enough for a sector that is increasingly turning to automation because of minimum-wage mandates and franchisee employees who lack in common sense.

Customer service and marketing skills are at the core of every sustainable business.

Unsuccessful franchisors fail because they don’t adequately monitor and train their franchisees’ workers in customer service and marketing.

Assuming you’ve recruited quality, trainable franchisees, you have to continually help them to market your brand.

So for brand enhancement, it behooves franchisors to empower their franchisees with the right training for sustainable growth to attract loyal, repeat and new customers.

This means periodic reminders on spending money cost-effectively, upgrading local-community marketing and social-media techniques.

Here are training imperatives:

1. Bring in an outside participant

No matter what they claim, don’t assume your new franchisees are skilled in marketing and customer service.

Even if you provide the best of marketing and customer-service playbooks, you’ll find franchisees won’t be able to adequately execute without training supplied by you.

Hire third party experts in customer service and marketing. Have the experts start with your own team.

In this way, you’ll know what your franchisees are learning and your people will be prepared to train future franchisees.

2. Encourage franchisee mentoring

There’s an old saying that’s apropos here: “You can’t keep what you’ve got unless you give it away.”

Motivate your successful franchisees to communicate with new franchisees. By discussing important concepts and ideas, there are multiple benefits to both your successful franchisees and neophytes.

It can be very gratifying for established franchisees to help others and it will help them to stay sharp by teaching others.

If a new franchisee fails in marketing and customer service, it can adversely impact the other franchisees and your business overall.

So, it will save you time and money and will help insure your overall brand reputation after the new franchisees implement best practices.

3. Learn to innovate from your training consultants

Not only will outside participants help your franchisees to implement your playbook, they are a source for information.

More than likely, they’ve been exposed to new ideas which they can share to help your business.

They can also help you to anticipate future obstacles to your business.

4. Inspire your franchisees to excellence

New franchisees are often guilty of not practicing due diligence. To their way of thinking, they’ve bought a turnkey operation. So they robotically go through the motions but don’t take ownership of their operation.

It’s important for your franchisees to regularly monitor and evaluate their progress.

If solutions to challenges aren’t readily obvious to them, they should be checking with you to get help even between the visits by your representatives to their locations.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related resources:

The Right Recipe to Grow Your Business by Franchising — Franchising is an alternative to organic growth. You don’t need nearly as much cash on hand for facilities, products, services and talent. Here’s how with five strategies. 

Many Managers Aren’t up-to-date on Opportunities in Emerging Markets — Seventy-six percent of business managers at global companies don’t have information for their needs – even though it’s necessary for productive decisions in expanding into emerging markets.

Growth Strategies to Successfully Expand into New Markets — So you see opportunities by expanding into a new market. Whether you’re expanding across town or into a different region, there are risks to anticipate in alleviating any uncertainty.

For Profits, Manage Your Growth at the Right Pace — Entrepreneurs frequently try to rush their business growth. Certainly, growth is great but if you scale too fast, you’re looking for trouble. The key is to prepare.

“Strategy requires thought, tactics require observation.”

-Max Euwe


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy stockimages at

Tips for Your Site to Capitalize on SEO Trends

How to stay on top of your search-engine optimization game; plus, a helpful infographic: 16 SEO facts we struggle to understand.

You probably know if your Web site isn’t ranked as the best on search engines, you’re missing opportunities.

Indeed, the top five sites in each niche on the Internet garner 75 percent of the traffic.

That underscores the importance of achieving the best results as the No. 1 site. But to get to No. 1 and stay there is an ongoing task.

Hence, this has heightened the importance of search-engine optimization (SEO).

SEO is one of the most requested topics here on The Biz Coach, as the rules of SEO continue to evolve.

For example:

The rules include on-page optimization and off-page optimization.

On-page optimization requires internal strategies within your site. That includes using the right meta descriptions and keywords.

Off-page optimization results from link-building tactics – from social media to links from other sites.

Bing is not different than Google when it comes to link-building.

It’s vital that you backlink with authoritative, credible sites. Some might be obvious to you, others might not. To avoid issues, take the right steps for safe backlinks to your site.

Increasingly, it’s important to know how to accelerate your site’s download speed.

As you might surmise, create fresh content. But be aware of Google’s priority concerning about frequency vs. value.

For links to specific comprehensive SEO tips, scroll down to the Coach’s Corner.

Meanwhile, for “16 SEO facts we struggle to understand” courtesy of, here’s a helpful infographic:

From the Coach’s Corner, here are relevant SEO tips:

For Strong Local SEO Performance, Avoid 6 Errors — A key strategy to make your cash register ring is to have a strong Internet presence. That means strategizing for strong local search-engine optimization (SEO). With strong local SEO performance, your business will have online top-of-the-mind awareness in your community. You want to be easily discovered by potential customers.

SEO Tips to Rank No.1 on Bing and Google — Study — There are striking similarities with Bing and Google — Web sites for top brands rank the highest and No. 1 sites are dominant because they have quality content, as well as strong social media signals and backlinks.

SEO and Other Strategic Tips for a No.1 Rated Blog — To own your blogging niche, you must understand the evolving process — important basics in search engine optimization (SEO) and other strategies. If you’ve been blogging for awhile, you know success doesn’t keep come automatically. Blogging is arduous work.

4 Best Practices to Enhance Your Google Rank with Content — There are four best practices if you want strong ranking from Google’s search rank algorithms, higher click-through rates and more social sharing from your content and press releases. That’s according to the Ranking Factors Study from Searchmetrics.

Critical Factors Google Uses to Judge Your Content Quality — As you no doubt know, Google has long judged your Web site on content quality. But Google looks for comprehensive information, content that’s easy-to-understand. This means your site probably entices users to stay on your site longer and has higher click-through rates. And you have effective internal links and quick-loading pages with less advertisements.

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”

-Steve Jobs


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

The Top-10 Most-Profitable Small Business Sectors

Whether you’re a veteran in business looking to acquire multiple revenue streams, wanting to buy a business or whether you’re contemplating a business launch, it’s important to make the right choices to be profitable.

Certainly, in picking a niche, you must find needs and fill them.

You must be able to easily cut through the clutter of competition to enable you to charge what your products or services are worth.

Successfully merging with another business requires similar cultures. Oil and water don’t mix. That’s why many mergers fail.

If you want to buy a business, you should have relevant deep experience.

As any entrepreneur will tell you, successfully launching a business is the toughest endeavor you can imagine. Many startups also fail.

To succeed in any of the above options: Passion, hard work and risk-management are important.

(Strategies to succeed in mergers, buying a company, or launching a business are below in the Coach’s Corner.)

Meantime, you’ll improve your chances if you choose an inexpensive business model to enable you to become profitable quickly.

So the key is to pick the right industry or sector where your odds for success are greater.

What are the most-profitable small-business sectors?

Here are the top 10 in an infographic from Colette Cassidy at All Finance Tax,

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related business strategies:

HR Lessons from Failed Mergers of Canadian Businesses — Only 20 percent of Canadian mergers and acquisitions succeed, according to a survey of finance executives. Here’s why.

Like Creating a Healthy Salad, M&As Need Key Ingredients — Mergers and acquisitions (M&As) might seem simple in small business. But for success in either small or big business, M&As are a complex process. They require the right ingredients much like building a great-tasting, healthy salad.

Buy a Business to Grab Market Share but Study 10 Financials — One of the fastest ways to grow is to buy a competitor or to acquire another business. But you must exercise due diligence in 10 steps.

Finance Checklist for Strategic Planning, Growth — Strategic planning in finance for growth means avoiding trendy fads. Instead, it requires an ongoing down-to-earth approach in order to create value. Here are seven steps.

Why Startup Companies Fail – How to Win — It’s vital to conduct a thorough needs-assessment of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats – followed by development and implementation of a strategic action plan. Here’s more.

Startup Financial Planning: How to Get a Pragmatic Forecast — Unless you have a lot of startup experience, it can be a little tricky to make down-to-earth financial projections for your new company. Pragmatic assumptions are important in such a forecast.

Checklist to Increase Your Startup’s Cash Flow — It’s true that cash flow is the salient dynamic that leads to the failure or success of a business. Here are 11 ways to maintain positive cash flow.

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”

-Zig Ziglar


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

7 Voice Tips for Professionalism If You Can’t Get Face Time

Face time certainly is best when making sales calls, negotiating with associates and clients or when hunting for a job.

In all such scenarios, building trust and showing confidence are paramount.

So to get what you want even when you can’t meet face-to-face, use the techniques of top-rated broadcasters and phone sales professionals. The successful pros use the same techniques.

That’s right. I speak from decades of on-air broadcasting experience. Candidly, in fact, long before my consulting practice I earned No. 1 ratings as an on-the-air broadcaster (see my bio).

Even while in college, I learned several lessons in calling prospective employers whom I telephoned to request recommendations for classes to enhance my career prospects. By using the techniques, I not only got in-person appointments but job offers, too.

After getting the gigs, I used the same techniques when I was on-the-air as a disc jockey or as a news broadcaster in radio and television. Throughout my career changes, the techniques were applicable in sales and management, too.

Here are the voice tips you need to know:

Breath support for credible authority

Learn to speak from your belly button – or diaphragm – with strong breath support.

By developing proper breath support, you will sound confident and in control with full-voice resonance.

That’s because your heart rate will slow, and your brain will get the needed oxygen for effective speaking.

Effective breath support can only come from your diaphragm. It’s a large, dome-shaped muscle at the bottom of your rib cage. When it contracts, air flows into your lungs.

Speak with warmth by smiling

Not only will you come across as friendly, smiling actually tells your brain how to think creatively.

Listeners won’t consciously aware that you’re smiling, but they are more likely to respond favorably to your message.

Vary your inflection

It’s boring to listen to people who speak in a monotone. As you smile, vary your inflection. You will be better able to keep the attention of your listener.

So talk with the person as you would a lifelong friend with vocal variety and an up-and-down pitch.

Stand when talking into the phone

When you sit complacently, your brain often gets the signal that it’s time to rest. But that’s not what you want in important phone conversations.

So stand to energize your thoughts and to reach the highest-possible level of communication.

If for some reason you can’t stand, don’t rest your back against the back of your chair.

Pace the floor

You’ll find you do your best thinking when moving. It energizes you and loosens any cob webs in your brain.

Not only will your thinking-level improve, you’ll speak with more conviction which is important for building trust.

Gesture with your hands 

Use your whole body.

If you ever witness recording sessions, you’ll see that the best broadcasters make gestures as they speak into the microphone.

Gesturing enhances their speaking ability by improving voice pitch, tone and timbre.

Invest in a wireless headset

With a wireless headset, you’ll have more freedom and flexibility to stand, walk, and make gestures.

Applicable for great public speaking

And oh, by the way, most of these techniques will help you to be an effective, authoritative public speaker.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are cold-calling tips:

For Strong Sales, How and Why to Cold Call Prospects — Are you lacking in sales? Do you get enough face time with the right prospects? Here’s how and why in-person cold calls will help you make sales.

6 Tips to Create New Sales with Successful Cold Calling — Attending mere networking events or depending on a high marketing budget aren’t sufficient for strong sales. OK, cold calling isn’t always easy, but you must if you want to dramatically increase sales in double-digit percentages. Develop and implement the right strategies. You’ll be in the all-important groove for a happy buying environment.

You Will Overcome Cold Calling Anxiety Using 5 Strategies — One of the worst pieces of advice for business owners and salespeople is don’t cold call. That’s a very short-sighted idea. Cold calling is very effective in footwork to generate revenue.

7 Tips for Setting B2B Appointments with CEOs — As every salesperson knows, face time with B2B prospects gives you a foundation for sales success. Execution in the appointment-setting process is, of course, is key to being successful.

Increase Your Job Chances if You Have to Interview on the Phone — Face time, of course, is best if you’re interviewing for a job. However, headhunters and many companies schedule introductory telephone interviews. Pat yourself on the back. Even if it’s not an in-person meeting, a telephone interview is a good omen. The employer already thinks enough of you to schedule a discussion.

“Oh no. Don’t smile. You’ll kill me. I stop breathing when you smile.” 
-Tessa Dare


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry. 

Improve Employee Morale with Better Break-Room Etiquette

You’d be amazed how employee attitudes are shaped by a lousy break room – dirty dishes, spoiled food and thoughtless co-workers.

But you can enhance your employees’ morale and job satisfaction if they can enjoy sitting in a room relaxing over coffee, snacks and lunch.

Imagine how little time the best employees will want to use such a room. So you might want to consider encouraging a break-room etiquette environment.

Bear in mind you need to be pragmatic. Employees won’t want to clean the break room every day of the work week.

Ask employees to be empathetic with each other – how they’re using the break room and how it affects the feelings of their team members.

Rules or policies should be made clear so employees understand what’s expected. Depending on the size of your staff, display a friendly set of reminders for everyone to see.

More points to consider:

1. In-person employee questionnaires

Try asking employees for their opinions. That’s a great way to learn what your employees like and dislike, such as what they think is evenhanded and what they want from their peers.

Once you know their opinions, you can create and share break-room policies.

2. Noise

Many employees, who don’t have a private office, appreciate the opportunities for a mini vacation – having a place to go to relax and to get away from work.

Some are likely to enjoy having non-work conversations.

For example, your break room should provide a break from work where team members can enjoy lunch without interruptions – others coming to talk with them about work-related matters.

Ask employees to refrain from interrupting those on break, to save their questions in non-emergency situations or to send emails that can be checked after breaks.

So consider a noise policy. How about establishing your break room to be noise-free or as a spot for friendly conversation?

Space-permitting, consider areas for quiet time or for employees to chat.

You’d have to inform employees what’s expected.

3. Cleanliness

Many people might be concerned about cleanliness of their co-workers. Employees need to know what’s expected to clean up after themselves.

4. Specify responsibilities

Employees have to know expectations about getting rid of old food. They’ll need to understand what’s expected about cleaning the refrigerator and microwave.

It must be arranged equitably.

5. Food labels

Especially if you have a congenial staff that organizes pot luck celebrations or share food, ask employees to label their food they store in the break room for their own personal use.

Why? In congenial workplaces, some workers might anticipate the food is there for their taking.

But when it isn’t, employees are really chagrined when their lunches disappear. It’s a source of irritation.

6. Fresh coffee

Most employees like their coffee. But it’s annoying to visit the break room only to find an empty coffee pot.

Avoid employees having to waste their time brewing a new pot in lieu of fully enjoying their breaks.

Your etiquette guidelines should include a mention about refilling the coffee pot. Another option is to install a single-serve coffee maker.

From the Coach’s Corner, related articles for bosses and employees:

Non-financial Incentives Motivate Most Employees — Want motivated workers? Recognition for good work is appreciated by 70 percent of workers – a great motivator for high performance, according to a study by two companies.

Make More Friends at the Office with 6 Etiquette Tips — In many companies, good etiquette is nonexistent and office co-workers fail to make friends of one another. Lack of trust and turmoil is seemingly evident everywhere. You don’t have to like everyone, but it’s best to be respectful, and assertive versus aggressive. That makes for good office relationships.

36 Tips: Develop Confidence to Win an Office Tug of War — For people lacking in self-confidence, winning an office tug of war is easier said than done. Unlike leaders, they unknowingly give away their power. One sign is whether you’re winning hearts and minds at work. For instance, in the event of disagreements, are you able to persuade others?

Why Executives Emphasize Communication Training for Employees — Among human resources training priorities, employee communication is often now more important than skills, say many executives. Two-thirds of executives responding to a survey say communication skills are most needed by certain employees.

What to Do If You’re Thinking about Dating a Co-Worker — Most executives probably cringe at the thought of romances blossoming among their office workers. There are good reasons why. But if you must start an office romance, here are tips to minimize damage to your career.

“Let your personality be your profit and not your punishment.”
-Amit Kalantri


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy nenetus at

Checklist for Productivity During a Flight Delay at an Airport

21 Tips for Productivity When Stranded by a Flight Delay

Ugh, it’s so frustrating to be stranded at an airport or in a hotel room from a flight delay caused by inclement weather or airline computer breakdowns.

As you’re reading this, you’re thinking delays are a huge waste of time, right?

No doubt, you can think of some things to be productive such as pulling up your work on your computer.

But you can use your time really well, if you’re prepared.

Here’s a checklist:

1. Have a personal WIFI

To be sure, you have some emailing to do or topics to surf on the Internet.

True, airports have public WIFI systems.

But the key word here, “public,” is a red flag for security reasons.

So get a personal WIFI.

You can also use your cellphone or other mobile device as a substitute, a mobile hotspot.

2. Consider new productivity apps

Create, edit, share forms, communicate with your staff in real time and perform other tasks with EZ Forms.

If you’re visually oriented, you can do all kinds of things with Inkflow.

Manage your passwords across all your devices with a single password that will delete your personal information from hackers with Keeper.

To keep you from getting lost while looking for destinations, Wikitude can be helpful as a reality app.

3. Consider buying a tablet keyboard

If you’re a tablet user, you can make typing easier with a cheap wireless keyboard.

4. Pack your device chargers

Even more frustrating than being stuck at an airport is having your devices shut down from dead batteries. You’ll want to fully charge and pack your mobile devices before heading for the airport.

Even better, extra charged batteries can be helpful.

5. Expedite Check-in

You can save time checking in and finding your gate by signing up for airport apps, and downloading your boarding pass.

Plus, scores of airports and 19 airlines allow a government pre-check with TSA Pre✓.

6. Use a business lounge

Work in comfort at a business or first-class lounge. Amenities can actually make delays enjoyable.

7. Write a to-do list 

Being stranded is a perfect time to get and feel more organized by working on a to-do list for tasks while you’re stranded.

8. Organize for the rest of your trip

Whether you’re en route to a speaking engagement or client meeting, surely there are things you can accomplish.

9. Organize your trip expenses 

This time is ideal for organizing your receipts and business expenses.

Yes, I know a lot of people do it and I appear to be old-fashioned, but I’m not wild about putting important financial information on mobile apps unless you’re absolutely certain your smartphone is absolutely secure.

No smartphone is secure without taking strong security precautions to prevent mobile attacks.

10. Delegate or request assistance

For tasks you can’t accomplish while sitting in an airport, you can probably think of things that need to be done. So, call or email your staff or associates for help.

11. Pay attention to vexatious emails 

Whether you’re procrastinating on responding to certain emails or you’re unsure what to write, now is the perfect time to at least start drafting an email.

It’s also a good investment of your time to review your emails, organize them and to delete unwarranted emails.

12. Contemplate your overall objectives 

Instead of stressing about the inconvenience of your delay, review your big-picture situation and current business stratagems.

Review your metrics and contemplate possible changes.

13. Make fast phone calls 

If you think about it, there are probably some quick phone calls you can make. Discussions about confidential matters or important phone calls can probably wait.

14. Catch up on your reading 

Review industry news online or have helpful books or articles you can consume.

If you’re all caught up business-wise, relax by reading a good book. To totally escape while reading, my preference is a good mystery or spy thriller.

15. Avoid annoying noise with headphones

Whether you’re sitting next to someone who’s carrying on a noisy phone conversation or hyperactive children, you can cancel out the noise if you have good headphones.

16. Set your phone timer 

If you’re engrossed in your work, set a timer so you don’t waste time continually checking the time or risk missing developments about your flight.

17. Work offline 

Avoid temptations or distractions by working offline.

18. Meditate 

Sitting around an airport can be stressful. Meditation is a great way to relax and to clear your mind.

You’ll be amazed by the benefits.

19. Eat a healthy snack 

Business trips can be draining. Instead of drinking too much coffee, get some brain food or high-protein snacks for energy.

20. Rehearse your foreign language skills 

Whether you’re traveling overseas or just want to better understand other cultures, learning another language is fun and productive for your brain.

Duolingo is a well-regarded free app.

Being able to speak to foreigners in their native tongues will bring a smile to both theirs and your faces.

21. Get compensation 

If you can justify to an airline how you’ve wasted valuable time, perhaps you can get some sort of recompense. It might be possible to get part of a refund or credit for future trips. It’s worth asking about it.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related tips:

Best Tips to Avoid Unnecessary Stress on Business Trips — On overseas trips, business travelers feel anxiety for a myriad of reasons. Here are 14 ways to alleviate stress.

13 Great Business Travel Tips — Jet lag, bad hotel beds, and lost luggage – just a few of the miseries of business travel. But travel is vital to manage operations, close sales and to build relationships.

6 Top Tips for Etiquette in Business Travel — If you’re into people-watching, the airport is an entertaining place to be. You’ll see all kinds of personalities. That’s especially true for the wide variety of business travelers. For successful trips, business travelers share one common trait. They need to be mindful of business etiquette.

8 Year-Round Business Tax Strategies Are Vital — Many business owners find they can plan their futures, operate their businesses more efficiently year-round, and take maximum advantage of tax savings when they file their returns. Ask your tax advisor about these 8 strategies.

8 Strategies for Business Tax Deductions on Your Vacation — Did you ever notice professional organizations hold their conventions at favorite tourist destinations? The reason? An opportunity for a vacation using some tax write-offs.

Etiquette Tips for Conducting Business in the French Culture — Not to be gauche, but compared to the U.S., conducting business in France might seem a bit quirky to you. Nevertheless, business with the French can be very profitable, if you approach it with dignity.

It is better to travel well than to arrive.”

– Buddha


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy khunaspix at

For More Sales, 8 Vital Mobile Marketing Tips

Put your brand where prospects and customers are likely to see it. That means leveraging mobile marketing.

For higher sales, mobile marketing is unique because you’re connecting with them on their most-used devices – smartphones and tablets.

When consumers make a purchase, it’s always based on an emotional decision. For them, tablets and especially smartphones are consumers’ most-intimate devices. Mobile marketing enhances your ability to tap into those emotions.

If you think about it, probably 80 percent of smartphone owners use apps daily. Naturally, you can send special offers and promotions customers and prospects.

For maximum impact, here are eight mobile-marketing tips:

1. Make sure your site is mobile-ready

A mobile-ready site is critical. The design is also critical.

Your mobile site must work well on all devices – smartphones, tablets, desktop and notebooks.

Otherwise, your site won’t be attractive to users.

Your site must be easy to find. Be sure to take the seven precautions for a top Google ranking.

2. Create a mobile application

Admittedly, a good mobile app is not cheap. But if you’re on a tight budget, there are precautions you can take to make your app more affordable.

Look for new app creators who are looking for business. Offer them a fair rate but also offer them site recognition and referrals.

3. Include mobile payments

You can make it easy for your customer to use your site with good mobile payment options. However, you must understand what you need.

Consider ways for maximum efficiency in costs, user-friendliness, and security.

4. Add customer service

In addition to making payments, your customers will expect good customer service. That ranges from being able to tracking their orders to asking questions.

5. Register on mobile directories

Register your site on mobile directories including Google+Local, YP and Yelp.

Include important details: Your name, products and services, a link to your site, business hours, telephone number, and your location.

6. Update your social media

Decide which social mediums are best for your business. Plan to engage your customers.

Start the engagement process by sharing informative posts and comments, and provide FAQs (frequently asked questions).

7. Text marketing

Everywhere you go, you can see people texting using a short message service (SMS). A lot of businesses including financial institutions use SMS as a security step with customers.

This means you should create an opt-in measure that will allow your customers to sign up for your marketing/sales alerts. Don’t forget rewards for customer loyalty.

Hint: People are more inclined to open your texts than emails.

8. Propose deals

While consumers still use coupons from their Sunday newspapers, those with smartphones are much more inclined to redeem SMS coupons.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are more mobile tips:

11 Tips for the Best Business Mobile Web Site — If you operate a retail business, it’s increasingly important for your Web site to be easy-to-use for mobile users. The use of smartphones and tablets is skyrocketing, especially among Millennials — young adults aged 32 and under. Studies also show the majority of mobile aficionados use their devices to access the Internet. Such data continually changes — mobile sales and use of the Internet is consistently rising.

Strategies to Create the Best Possible Mobile Apps — Mobile apps are expected to support initiatives for a company’s return on investment. That includes competitiveness in the marketplace; efficiency; enterprise and consumer relationships; and revenue – better yet, profits would be more ideal.

How Mobile Strategies Fit Best in Cross-Channel Marketing — Businesses are increasingly using mobile apps to sell products, but the most successful know how best. They use cross-channel marketing tools.

Marketing Tips via Mobile Devices, Reviews, Coupons — Digital marketing opportunities keep growing and growing. For instance, 70 percent of consumers research product reviews while they shop in stores. Ninety percent are relying on their mobile devices as they make in-store buying decisions.

You Risk Sales If You Don’t Use This Mobile-Web Strategy — Is your mobile site actually hindering brand perception and emotional engagement? If you’re not using the right mobile strategy, you risk sales.

“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”

-Jimmy Dean


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy nenetus at

Stock Market — 5 Reasons to Invest … in a Financial Planner

For people in their prime earning years, ages 25-54, who are interested in investing in the market should pay off debts and then invest in stocks with money they don’t need.

Translation – that’s money not needed for a rainy day fund, down payment on a house and basic living expenses.

Candidly, I wouldn’t try to beat the market by picking the companies and industries that will succeed during the Trump Administration.

id-100451963More specifically, I’d invest 80 percent or so of such funds in an S&P 500 index fund and 20 percent in a good international fund.

By the time they retire, investors should be in easily liquefied money-market deposits or half in cash. As interest rates increase, then think about CDs.

For a highly sophisticated approach, it makes sense to pay for investment advice – but not pay for investment advice if the advisor will only periodically rebalance your portfolio.

A decent software program can accomplish this for you for less money. A lot less.

Remember the difference between two terms: Advisor and broker. There’s a big difference and it has to do with avoiding someone with a potential conflict of interest.

An advisor is an objective professional to whom you pay a flat fee who is a fiduciary – someone legally obligated to perform in your best interest in choosing bonds, stocks, real estate investment trusts and other investments.

A broker is a person who works for an investment firm. Basically, they’re salespeople who are paid a commission by selling you bonds, stocks, ETFs, mutual funds or other products.

My preference is to pick a proven, bonafide advisor who is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Personally, I wouldn’t hire someone to actively manage my financial affairs. I’d want to maintain control of my finances. But I would consider hiring an advisor for planning purposes.

Otherwise for expert help, there are five reasons to pay for expertise in financial planning:

1. Developing your investment plan

Your savings rate is the first important consideration. You have to set up a savings schedule and achieve your goal before you start investing.

Before creating a plan, the best investment advisors will ask about your objectives and your financial situation.

You’ll learn how much to save, which accounts to use and which investments to pick.

Again, be sure to pick an advisor for objective advice who isn’t married to a brokerage house. Expect to pay a one-time fee to position you for success in the years to come.

2. Behavioral-investment coaching

Like most things in life, investing involves emotion. But the importance of successful investing necessitates being disciplined and focused.

This means staying with proven principles and not haphazardly switching investments just to chase performance.

Long-term, you’d be better off emulating the approach of the greatest investor of all time, Warren Buffett. He looks for long-term value in a sector he understands.

He’s stuck to his plan even during roller-coaster times.

Behavioral coaching will help you to be stable ala Mr. Buffett in order to profit from your investments.

3. Tax considerations

When it comes to taxes, you have two basic options: A) Tax-advantage accounts such as health savings accounts, IRAs and 401(k) s; and B) Taxable investment accounts.

If you put all your funds in the former, the following information doesn’t pertain to you.

In taxable-investment accounts, you don’t pay taxes on gains until you sell your stocks. The good news is that you’re taxed at a lower rate.

If your stocks pay dividends, then you’re subject to a tax, too, but it’s also at a lower rate.

Interest gains from bonds, however, are taxed as ordinary income.

Therefore, you probably will prefer to put bonds in tax-advantaged accounts while leaving stocks in your taxable-investment accounts.

All of these details is where a good financial advisor can assist you.

4. Socially responsible investments

Some investors like to invest with their social values in mind. That’s the case, for example, in renewable or green energy.

Such investors avoid oil and gas investments vis-à-vis solar or windmill-energy companies. This, of course, requires consulting a green-minded advisor.

If you go this route, be very careful. Do your due diligence. Don’t accept an advisor’s claims at face value. Ask well-thought out questions and research the person thoroughly for expertise and philosophy.

5. Retirement withdrawal strategies

It’s important to learn when and how you should plan for retirement. This can be very complex depending on the size of your portfolio.

You’d be best advised on how much money to take out of the most-logical accounts at the right time.

Three provisos to keep in mind: Your individual needs, applicable taxes and the stock-market conditions.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are more financial strategies:

Money – Your Net Worth Matters More than What You Earn — When it comes to finance, most business owners and other individuals strive to increase their wealth to have more opportunities. The trouble with some, however, is that they focus on income and not their net worth. That means, of course, spending less than they earn.

7 Steps to Wealth and High Net Worth — Creating wealth and enjoying high net worth doesn’t result from pure luck. It takes a certain mindset and strong action. Here are seven proven steps.

Finance: 10 Year-End Tips for Entrepreneurs — If your business slows down in Q4, the holidays are a great to assess your year and plan for the New Year. Like wellness checkups with your doctor, it’s a good time to evaluate your financials.

Business Insurance Tips to Keep Money from Walking Away — As an entrepreneur you’ve worked long hours, scrimping, saving and planning in your fight for survival. But do you regularly take time to financially protect yourself and business?

6 Best Practices to Capitalize on a Business Loan — Whether it’s a business loan, a cash advance against your credit-card income, equipment lease or purchase or commercial mortgage loan, don’t have stars in your eyes. Be pragmatic.

Finance Your Vacation with Credit Card Travel Reward Points — If you plan well, you can finance most of your family’s vacation with travel reward points. The trick is to learn all the ways you can earn points. This entails far more than just buying airline tickets or reserving a hotel room.

“A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”

-George S. Patton


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy Chai25182518 at

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Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.