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A Leader’s Role In Increasing Employee Engagement

In today’s business environment, strong employee engagement is essential to help drive a company to success. Organizations rely on their employees to exhibit energy, commitment, and engagement. Although an engaged workforce is one of a company’s most important assets, it doesn’t easily happen.

 

In any organization, you will find three types of employees- engaged, not engaged, and actively disengaged. Engaged employees are those who are committed to the organization and invest their time and energy into their role. Not engaged employees are satisfied with their role but don’t often go beyond what is required. Lastly, actively disengaged employees are negative and create a toxic environment.

 

Of the three types, not engaged employees comprise the majority of the workforce (67%).  These employees can present both a threat and an opportunity. With the right approach not engaged employees can be transformed into engaged employees who succeed within the organization. To ensure that your employees avoid becoming disengaged employees, leaders need to take the initiative in promoting engagement.

 

The first step that managers or leaders can take is to put everyone in the right role. An employee’s skills and goals should be reflective of their role. If employees are put in a role that is too challenging or not challenging enough, it may be easy for them to resent the organization.

 

Without building a culture of trust and accountability, improving employee engagement will be more challenging to execute. Providing the proper training to every employee will help ensure that your team is set up for success.

 

After providing your employee with the right role and proper training, ensure you are providing meaningful work. Meaningful work is one of the top factors that influence an employee’s job satisfaction and engagement. With a stronger sense of meaning, employees will feel more committed and produce great results.

 

With your employees satisfied in their roles and with the work they are doing, don’t forget to check in with them. Relying on a mid-year and yearly reviews to gauge employee performances is an outdated method that offers little response. Regular feedback helps employees gain a better perspective on what areas they excel and what areas they need to work on.

 

Above all, leaders need to be transparent in their approach to improving engagement in the workplace. Engagement in the workplace should be an active and ongoing discussion that everyone, no matter their role, can contribute to.

 

Keeping these simple principals in mind will help curate engaged employees that are happy to come to work every day and contribute to the overall success of an organization.

This blog was originally posted by Jeremy Felder on JeremyFelder.com 

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Japanese Billionaire Pays For The First Ticket With SpaceX | Jeremy Felder

Yusaku Maezawa, multi-billionaire, and head of the largest Japanese online shopping mall, has been named the first private paying passenger for Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

 

On September 17th, SpaceX announced their new quest to send the 42-year-old e-commerce tycoon on a trip around the moon. As early as 2023, Maezawa is planning to embark on his journey around the moon accompanied by 8 other artists with varying talents, from a painter to a musician to a fashion designer.

 

As an avid art collector, Maezawa has envisioned a new project named #dearMoon. Maezawa believes in the power of creativity and imagination and hopes that the project will inspire the artists to create something that has never been seen before.

 

Maezawa projected venture to the moon is a major milestone in the pursuit to commercialize space travel. Maezawa and his artists will be flying on the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR). The 387-foot tall rocket will surpass all previous rocket and spacecraft models due to its reusability.

 

As far as a price tag goes, Elon Musk did not disclose how much the billionaire will have to pay. Musk did share that Maezawa is paying for a full BFR and made a “significant” downpayment on the journey. Although Musk didn’t share an exact number, we know that the total development of BFR can range anywhere between $5 billion to $10 billion.

 

Although the trip is already in motion, the BFR still needs to be heavily tested before Maezawa travels to space. Humans have not traveled to the moon since NASA’s Apollo mission in 1972. SpaceX itself is still a year away from reaching their main objective, sending astronauts into low-Earth orbit (LEO). The idea of sending tourists to the moon, without stopping on the surface, is far beyond sending astronauts to LEO.

 

That being said, SpaceX hopes to start testing the BFR later next year and conduct full flights by early 2020. Since its creation in 2016, the BFR has undergone multiple changes, from expanding the diameter of the spaceship vehicle to introducing seven Raptor engines at the base. As the SpaceX team continues to construct the rocket, SpaceX’s test site in Texas is testing the Raptor engines.

 

Between now and the projected launch date, Maezawa plans to work closely with SpaceX and finding the 8 artists who will accompany him on his trip. Although there is much work to be done, from designing, building, and testing, Maezawa remains optimistic for his future venture.

Habits of Executives

(this article was originally published by Christina DesMarais at https://www.inc.com/christina-desmarais/17-daily-habits-highly-successful-people-have-and-rest-of-us-probably-dont.html)

“Christina DesMarais said it all with her article about the “17 Simple Things These Successful Executives Do Every Day No Matter What.” I found her writing in this piece to be so on point, it was a no brainer to share here on my blog. She is an amazing writer, and I recommend you follow her here @salubriousdish”

-Jeremy Felder

These are truly KEYS TO SUCCESS and a must-have read for anybody in the daily grind.

#GetInTheGame! Can’t win from the sideline! Keeping reading for more.

1. Set up predetermined browser tabs to open automatically.

“Thanks to Chrome’s Startup Settings, I’ve created an essential daily habit–having my predetermined browser tabs open automatically for my review. If I know I’ll be working on a particular task every day, I will add it to Chrome as a startup tab, so I can stay organized and on track. This allows me to focus on one task at a time and cut out ineffective multitasking from my workflow. When I’m done working on a specific tab, I close it.”

–Aytekin Tank, founder and CEO of JotForm, a profitable online forms platform with more than 3.3 million users that has been bootstrapped since its founding in 2006

2. Replace “but” with “and.”

“When you say ‘but’ in a discussion, what you are signaling is everything you said before the ‘but’ was irrelevant. Humans are deeply trained to instantly forget what you said before the ‘but.’ An example: In an executive meeting, someone saying ‘I totally agree with everything you said, BUT here’s another perspective.’ Feel that? It’s your brain getting ready to fight. Replacing the ‘but’ with ‘and’ totally changes the dynamic of the communication and of the relationship: ‘I totally agree with everything you said, AND here’s another perspective.’ This really works. People feel more heard, more appreciated, and contentious discussions happen with less emotion.”

–Fred Stevens-Smith, co-founder and CEO of QA testing company Rainforest QA, a Y Combinator company that raised $25 million in funding earlier this year with a team spread across 16 countries on five continents

3. Play like a team.

“I see many parallels between success in business and in sports. Your people are your players, and you’re assembling a championship team. To me, there’s nothing better than being on a team–winning together, learning from your losses together, getting stronger together, and building character together. Establish an employee-based culture, coach your players, set goals, and earn championships.”

–Scott Scherr, CEO and founder of Ultimate Software, an HR tech platform on track to hit $1 billion in annual revenue this year and used by companies such as Subway, First Horizon, MLB, the Phoenix Suns, Yamaha, and Nikon

4. Only check email once a day.

“Hint: The Boomerang app is a lifesaver for those who lack self-discipline. Only checking my email once a day has made a huge impact on my productivity–but more important, my teams’ productivity. I noticed when I was weighing in on email all the time, it tended to kick off a ripple effect of other people reacting and responding, and that ultimately derailed projects. By forcing myself to hold back, I’m more focused, and I’m also able to show my teams I trust them and respect their autonomy.”

–Jon Stein, CEO and founder of Betterment, an online financial advising platform with more than 150 employees, 300,000 customers, and $13 billion in assets under management

5. Put “busy” time on your calendar.

“Too many meetings in your day can feel overwhelming and unproductive. You need time in your day to handle even the most simple tasks such as answering emails or just getting work done, period. What I’ve found very useful is to block off one- to three-hour time slots in my calendar throughout the week and label them as ‘Busy’ to give myself some head-down time to keep goals and initiatives on track. Try this tactic if you’re feeling overwhelmed from meetings and you’ll be surprised how much more productive you feel. Also, don’t always feel compelled to select ‘Yes’ for every calendar invite. It is also OK to say no to meetings if you don’t feel that you’ll be able to add value to the conversation.”

–Mitch Wainer, co-founder and head of brand at DigitalOcean, which has a $175 million run rate and more than one million users at companies such as HP, Xerox, and Slack

6. Do at least one activity every day that isn’t tied to a mandatory to-do list.

“There are never enough hours in the day to accomplish everything you feel you must do, let alone would like to do. Despite the pressure of the ‘mandatory to-do list’ and deadline-sensitive items, I believe it’s critically important to find time for daily activities that are not necessarily as obvious in impact to the business. When you take the time to read the latest article or, even better, spend some time casually catching up with a team member over a cup of coffee or lunch, you may not be scratching something off the to-do list, but you’re building relationships, learning something interesting, discovering something you likely would not have found out otherwise … and, most important, helping to build the foundation for long-term success.”

–Andrew Rubin, co-founder and CEO of data center and cloud security provider Illumio, used by nine of the 15 largest financial companies in the U.S., as well as three of the top seven SaaS providers and which has raised $267.5 million from J.P. Morgan Asset Management, Andreessen Horowitz, General Catalyst, Formation 8, BlackRock Funds, Accel Partners, and Data Collective, as well as individual investors including Microsoft chairman John W. Thompson, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, and Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang

7. Use bullet journaling.

“As a software executive, I’ve tried just about every task management app I can find to help organize my time. But for me, I’ve found that bullet journaling–using a Leuchtturm 1917 journal and colored pens–works wonders. Because it’s pen and paper, I can design pages to achieve exactly what I want them to, such as creating monthly and quarterly views that integrate goal tracking. I also start each day by writing down the top five tasks that I aim to complete that day, which helps me focus on completing the most high-impact tasks no matter what arises throughout the day. Finally, I use it also to take notes in every meeting, which makes it super easy to find and recall those notes–and because the Leuchtturm is a nice-looking journal, it helps me feel confident and in control in customer meetings. With this approach, I’m better able to focus on my key goal of helping Quick Base customers win and succeed, as well as drive our product and business forward.”

–Jay Jamison, SVP of strategy and product management at ‎Quick Base, maker of a no-code tool that enables workers to build apps without needing to know how to write a single line of code and that is used by more than half of Fortune 100 companies including Google, Kayak, and Southwest Airlines

8. Mind your manners.

“Be nice. It sounds obvious, but too many leaders these days don’t show kindness and humility. Perhaps it’s a sign of the times, but business and politics both seem to have fallen back on the meanest, lowest common denominator, and that’s only been magnified by social media. It’s important for leaders to show compassion through both success and failure. Praise is easy. But if you care about your people, their careers, and your organization as a whole, you have to address the failures, too. Good intentions always make those painful conversations easier. It comes down to good manners and showing compassion.”

–Gaurav Dhillon, founder and CEO of SnapLogic, an integration software platform used by hundreds of Global 2000 enterprises, including Adobe, AstraZeneca, Box, GameStop, Verizon, and Wendy’s, and backed by blue-chip investors Andreessen Horowitz, Ignition Partners, Microsoft, Triangle Peak Partners, and Vitruvian Partners

9. Plan for the best of times and the worst of times.

“Plan, plan, and plan again for all contingencies, both positive and negative. While you don’t have a crystal ball, you can still identify your important business moments where you can plan for both crisis and celebration. Doing this ahead of time allows you to think with a clearer mind and act quickly when one of those certain situations arises. Some questions I consider are: What do I do if I have a great month? What do I do if I have a terrible month? How do I dissect and understand the drivers of my business?”

–Mark Schulze, VP of business development of First Data and co-founder of Clover, maker of an all-in-one point of sale terminal that was acquired by First Data in 2013 and that has sold more than 750,000 devices and processes approximately $50 billion in annual sales

10. Never give up the hands-on approach in order to see the big picture.

“See the big picture, trust your team, trust your executives, but never give up a hands-on approach entirely. When I founded Sinemia with a team of just two people, I was working on everything by myself, both strategy- and operations-wise. I wrote the first codes of the app, I wrote marketing emails; I read every CV sent with job applications. After two and a half years, Sinemia now has 45 in-house employees and 35 freelancers from five different countries. We have built a successful team with very professional executives, but I never give up being hands-on because I know that when you are in control of the details, you are able to see every gap, every need; so you put the pieces of the puzzle together and see the big picture. This gives one the chance to create a really strong strategy.”

–Rifat Oguz, founder and CEO of Sinemia, a global movie ticket subscription system used by five million moviegoers in five countries and named on Wired‘s annual list of hottest startups last year

11. Schedule your day around when your brain is firing on all cylinders.

“When is your brain on fire? Three years ago, a mentor asked me that question and gave me life-changing advice: Schedule your day around when your brain is firing on all cylinders and hold off on brainless work until it is fatigued. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made in my business. For years, I ran a one-man political and corporate marketing firm (me!). I typically slept late (8 a.m.) and started off my day by doing mundane tasks that I liked but didn’t move the ball forward. Once I answered the question, ‘When is your brain on fire?’ I rearranged my entire schedule to accommodate it, and the results have been explosive. I now wake up at 4:30 a.m. and arrive in my office by 7 a.m. From 7 to 11 a.m., I’m in prime critical-thinking mode. It’s when my brain works best. I write, study, work on problems, and read (and my schedule is blocked off so I have minimal distractions). After 11 a.m.? I respond to email, I call people back, and I convene the important but tedious conference calls we all have to do. My mornings are my time to think, and that time is non-negotiable. I take ideas, problems, and passions and I spend time working through them, because that is when my brain needs to be proactive and thinking. The result of that one small shift? In less than three years, we’ve added 19 employees and I grew my company 500 percent. When is your brain on fire?”

–Phillip Stutts, CEO of Go Big Media and author of Fire Them Now: The 7 Lies Digital Marketers Sell and the Truth About Political Strategies That Help Businesses Win, who has contributed to more than 1,000 election victories of senators, governors, representatives, and two U.S. presidents

12. Remain mindful of your sleep-to-caffeine balance.

“I am guilty of hitting the espresso or coffee machine more than once a day, but I rarely go past two servings a day. While espresso can be my secret weapon for the 8 a.m. meetings and my go-to afternoon pick-me-up when the 2 p.m. lethargy kicks in, I limit myself; otherwise my sleep schedule could be jeopardized. Rather than trying to work as many hours a day on as little sleep as possible, I always aim for a minimum of seven hours of sleep. Anything less and I won’t be able to focus the remainder of the day. I could never understand how some people could function on four hours of sleep. For me, I need that time to rest my body and mind, and I can’t do that when slinging back espresso all day.”

–Kumesh Aroomoogan, a 2018 Forbes “30 Under 30” winner for enterprise technology and the co-founder and CEO of Accern, a predictive-analytics startup that is anticipating closing Q1 2018 at a $100 million overall valuation with clients including Credit Suisse and IBM

13. Respect your mental real estate and know its value.

“I learned early on how to recognize how much mental stamina I have, and I consider this daily. The more success I have, the more my time is desired by people in my network looking for advice or searching for my help with their new opportunities. I have been offered positions on boards or asked to help start new companies. While I consider each these requests or offers carefully, I am realistic about how much time and conscious energy I have that I need to dedicate to my own projects and companies. It’s important to consider the time and effort these things may take and if they may distract from my overall goals. Investing money in the ideas of others is one thing, but investing my time and mental real estate is something completely different. I remind myself daily of the importance of my time and don’t let anything else distract from my vision or direction.”

–Daniel Saynt, CEO of the New Society for Wellness, the fastest-growing influencer agency for vice-category brands, and whose former roles include CMO for Rebecca Minkoff, founder and CEO of Socialyte, and head of innovation at Nylon Media

14. Keep a strict schedule of self-care.

“I’m almost embarrassed to say that I am a 25-year-old woman who keeps a regular bath time, but my Sunday-night bubble baths are a key part of my rigorous self-care routine that helps me with my sanity and focus throughout the week. Self-care is one of the only times in the day when I don’t have to focus on anyone or anything but myself. It gives me a chance to contemplate where I’ve been and what goals I want to achieve and gives me a break from my constant to-do list. When the proposals, meetings, events, and projects start piling up, it’s almost a natural instinct to push aside mundane activities, like painting my nails, facials, and massages, or taking a relaxing soak. There has to be a moment in each day to take care of myself, and sometimes it’s as simple as a stretch and a mental check-in. Without it, I wouldn’t be as mentally alert and focused as I am when I have that time scheduled to take care of myself.”

–Melissa A. Vitale, founder of Melissa A Vitale PR, a PR firm specializing in top-tier media placements that hit six-figure revenue in its first six months, with clients including Fortune 500 companies and startups across A.I., sexual wellness, and legal cannabis

15. Practice Transcendental Meditation.

“On a macro level, I am constantly thinking ahead and putting myself in the shoes of our customers. On a micro level, I try to evaluate my performance daily or at least once every few days by reflecting on what’s happened and asking those around me for feedback so I can consistently improve. Practicing Transcendental Meditation helps keep my mind clear and calm while continuing to promote a state of relaxed awareness that helps me challenge both myself and my team.”

–Olivier Reza, CEO of luxury watch membership platform Eleven James, which has raised more than $40 million in capital since its founding in 2014

16. Create a “before your phone” morning ritual.

“First, I drink a bottle of water. I sit in stillness and pray. Then I visualize how I want my day to unfold. Starting your day in a race is a great way to have a crazy day. I don’t drink enough water, so I work on it first thing. By meditating and praying on abundance and visualizing my day, I Ievelset myself to handle whatever comes, and I don’t let too many outside forces determine my mood or productivity. I also do not sleep with my phone at my head; it’s charging in the living room away from me. I pick it up as I am ready to start my workday, and not before.”

–Melinda Emerson, known as SmallBizLady, who reaches more than three million entrepreneurs each week online and is the author of Fix Your Business: A 90-Day Plan to Get Back Your Life and Reduce Chaos in Your Business 

17. Embrace positivity and nurture personal relationships.

“I wake up every day with the attitude that I am going to conquer the world. It’s easy to dwell on negativity, but even easier to succeed when you approach each new day and project with a renewed sense of positivity–what I like to call ‘short-term amnesia,’ the mentality that we will still achieve greatness despite any inevitable setbacks we may face. It’s a given, but positivity is contagious–whether you radiate positivity in the workplace or in your personal life, it will make a difference to those who surround you, and that small change in attitude will lead to success, no matter how big or how small. In our digital world, it’s imperative to recognize the importance of our attitude and communication style and how it affects our relationships. Putting positive energy and dedication into one-on-one relationships transfers directly to the way in which we approach our careers and peers in the workplace. What you put in is exactly what you will get out.”

–Taki Skouras, CEO of Cellairis, a cell phone repair and accessories brand with 500 locations across the U.S. and which has expanded internationally to Canada, Jamaica, Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico, and Dubai, for a total of more than 600 company-owned and franchise locations

Dated: May 15, 2018

Jeremy Felder holds a Master’s Degree from Tiffin University and is the Chief Compliance and Operations Officer at Chase Receivables in Fairfield, New Jersey. He is a member of ACA International (ACA) and is certified and credentialed by the ACA as a CCCO, PCS and ACA International Scholar. Jeremy also holds a Board position as the Vice President, Office of Project Management, for S4 Infinity – an international non-profit organization.

Effective Communication

rawpixel-252127-unsplash-1Communication is a multi-faceted emotion. It involves not just the delivery of a message, but the reception of same as well. It involves more than words. It is improving how we send and receive messages.

It’s the little things that matter. Like knowing that listening is not the same as hearing; learn to listen not only to the words being spoken but how they are being spoken and the non-verbal messages sent with them. Use the techniques of clarification and reflection to confirm what the other person has said and avoid any confusion. Try not to think about what to say next while listening; instead clear your mind and focus on the message being received. Your friends, colleagues and other acquaintances will appreciate good listening skills.

Communication is the lifeblood of every relationship. A lack of healthy communication causes marriages to fail, creates distance between parents and children and can destroy the culture of any organization.

If you want to be an expert communicator, you need to be effective at all points in the communication process – from “sender” through to “receiver” – and you must be comfortable with multi-channel methods of signal-sending (i.e. phone, text, email, face to face, etc).

As with other learn skills, communication can be improved with practice and with great training. Sometimes however, saying nothing at all speaks the loudest:

“Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.”

-Plato-

By: Jeremy Felder

Dated: May 11, 2018

About: Jeremy Felder holds a Master’s Degree from Tiffin University and is the Chief Compliance and Operations Officer at Chase Receivables in Fairfield, New Jersey. He is a member of ACA International (ACA) and is certified and credentialed by the ACA as a CCCO, PCS and ACA International Scholar. Jeremy also holds a Board position as the Vice President, Office of Project Management, for S4 Infinity – an international non-profit organization.

Vendor Management: On-boarding, Auditing, and Oversight

A company’s internal strive for continuous improvement should never really cease. The same expectation of excellence should hold true for the vendors that you partner with to have a hand in your daily business model.

Vendor. Third-Party. Partner. These are synonymous terms for people who play a critical role in the success of any business. From software providers to independent contractors, most companies find themselves at the hand of an outside entity to execute a business task. In most instances, a vendor can perform this task more efficiently (cheaper, faster, better) than could the company themselves. Control costs, mitigate internal risks, and drive service excellence – that’s the purpose behind outsourcing the task at hand. But do you really know who you’re jumping into bed with? Having an outlet to streamline processes and systems is great, but it’s important to consider the people behind them. Many companies simply do not have a standardized vendor on-boarding and vetting process.

How do you start your search for a vendor? Is it page 1 of Google results? Recommendation from an industry contact? How many of those potentials are you physically driving by to observe the brick and mortar behind the name?  No matter your approach, keep crystal clear the relationship (and potential liability) you are about to create.

The legal culpability varies by sector, but consider for a moment your business lives in the Financial Services space. In that arena, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) requires that a Company “…oversee their business relationships with [vendors] in a manner that ensures compliance with Federal consumer financial law…” What does that mean? Very plainly, you are vicariously responsible for the actions of your vendor.

Your vendor will play a critical role in you company’s success or failure, so management of vendor tasks, contracts, performance, and relationships is mission-critical.

How to manage the actions of others

A vendor compliance program should consist of several core components:

Value Add – why do you need a vendor? How will the vendor accomplish the needed benefit better than you could on your own?  Is this a short, or long-term need? There is no “normal” length for a vendor relationship – the time frame could be anywhere from a week (or less) to many years, with many contract renewals.

Risk Assessment – will the vendor need to face your customers? Will they receive and store data? Will they require on-site access to your business? How frequently, and to what extent do you need to rely upon their ability to execute?

Due Diligence – do you require that the vendor complete an RFP (Request for Proposal) for your business? A sealed bid? Questionnaire? Other formal documentation of scope of work and price point? Qualify the vendor – what makes them an industry expert int their space? Your DD process will really set the expectations of quality for the relationship moving forward. This stage should be the most formal of the program components.

Contracts – Establish a clear definition of responsibility. Often times business are so clouded by the endpoint – the vendor’s work product – and the assumption that everything will be fine, to very carefully scrutinize the small print. Payment terms? Pay bonus or penalty considerations? Will you supplement pay (or demand a bill reduction) based upon performance?

Set Your Standard – Accountability and transparency. Your vendor needs to be an extension of your business arm, and therefore needs to adhere to the same core values. How will you evaluate that expectation, and overall performance? Make use of clearly defined “KPIs” (key performance indicator) reports to assess vendor success. Open – and regular – meetings and other communication. Establish a Point of Contact (POC) for your vendor for daily inquiries, if needed. Provide a full spectrum of feedback (i.e. don’t just identify and complain about problems! What have been the vendor’s successes and biggest accomplishments to date?) Measure milestones.

Audit – You need to be provided with, and be able to recite your vendor’s policies, procedures, and checklists, as if they were your own. Don’t be afraid to question and demand clarification, additions to, or amendments to the scope of their work standards, as it relates to your business model and requirements. If they want your business, they will work for it. Do you need to be in a constant frenzy of watching over the shoulder of each and every vendor you employ? Well, maybe? In determining what vendors to scrutinize (and how often), a company really has to take a look in the mirror. What is the level of risk involved to YOU, with the actions performed by your vendor? The aim should be to conduct thorough audits with greater frequency for targeted, high-risk vendors.

Termination – Certainly the last thing on your mind when onboarding a vendor is what to do when you need to fire them. But the exit from your business is just as important – if not more so – than the red carpet in. Do you need a reason? Who owns their work product after separation? Non-compete concerns? Data destruction guidelines? Reasonable notice and penalties? Extension of Non Disclosure Agreements? Don’t let a vendor down-play these concerns during contract negotiations. Put future protections in place that meet your needs.

Set your expectations for each of these areas and communicate them very early on in the conversation. Demand nothing less than full transparency, swift and crisp communication, and a robust compliance program as vigorous as your own.

Know when to separate

If there is smoke, there is fire. If you can’t answer for and justify the actions taken by your vendor, it’s time to cut the cord.

By: Jeremy Felder

Dated: April 25, 2018

*This article originally appeared on JeremyFelder.compartnershippuzzleonglass.jpg

About: Jeremy Felder holds a Master’s Degree from Tiffin University and is the Chief Compliance and Operations Officer at Chase Receivables in Fairfield, New Jersey. He is a member of ACA International (ACA) and is certified and credentialed by the ACA as a CCCO, PCS and ACA International Scholar. Jeremy also holds a Board position as the Vice President, Office of Project Management, for S4 Infinity – an international non-profit organization.

Why Utilize Gamification to Improve Employee Engagement

Employee-Happiness-2

Keeping an employee fully engaged in their job is a difficult task to accomplish. Over half the United States workforce is not engaged while at work. More than often employees lose interest and motivation in the work that they do thus impacting how a company acts as a whole. Mental Health America reports that disengaged employees can cause a great lost in productivity. Disengaged employees can cause businesses to lose between $450 to $500 billion a year.

How to increase employee engagement can be a daunting task for bosses and leaders, but there is an answer. Utilizing the concept of gamification in the workplace has proven to be an effective strategy.

Employee gamification is an aspect that plays into psychology. Gamification plays into the drive that humans have to compete and outdo one another, all while getting instantly rewarded. Implementing this psychological strategy helps to motivate workers and drive higher employee productivity rates as well as improve business outcomes.

Workplace Gamification has many impactful benefits that can shape your workplace and maximize productivity. By implementing gamification, it brings a fun environment to the workplace and makes doing work seem like a more pleasurable task. The opportunity to win, to receive rewards or gain recognition helps to push the drive of an employee to work to their best potential.

Using this reward system also helps to instill a sense of control for employees. The work they accomplish is completed of their own will, rather than answering to a demand from an authoritative figure.

As humans are competitive by nature, using the concept of gamification helps to incite competition amongst co-workers. Instilling that sense of competition helps employees to set goals to precede one another and become the “ultimate winner.”

Speaking of setting goals, it is a great way to show employees their progress in their work. However, performance reports are usually set in the form of annual goals. Having annual goals in the workplace makes it easy for employees to forget the goals that they once made and become uninspired.

Gal Romon of Game Effective explains that by utilizing gamification strategies feedback is given back in real time, making it easier for an employee to see the quality of the performance. Within the gamification application employees can recognize their errors right away, rather than waiting for several weeks or months.

Using games is a great tool to use in the workplace to encourage productive behavior. As our understanding of human motivation increases, so can gamification strategies that businesses can utilize to create engaged employees.

By: Jeremy Felder

Dated: April 25, 2018

*This article was originally published on JeremyFelder.com*

About: Jeremy Felder holds a Master’s Degree from Tiffin University and is the Chief Compliance and Operations Officer at Chase Receivables in Fairfield, New Jersey. He is a member of ACA International (ACA) and is certified and credentialed by the ACA as a CCCO, PCS and ACA International Scholar. Jeremy also holds a Board position as the Vice President, Office of Project Management, for S4 Infinity – an international non-profit organization.

Data Breach: A Hidden Monster

Data Breach. It’s a term we’ve become all too familiar with in the recent past. Even as I write this article, we’re learning that Orbitz (subsidiary of Expedia Inc.) has discovered a data breach which seems (so far) to have affected over 880,000 credit cards. I’m not sure what shocks the conscience more; the numerosity of the people affected by data breaches, or the sheer amount of overall breaches which occur annually.

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center’s 2017 Annual Report, the final number of data breaches reported for 2017 was 1,579, a 45 percent increase over 2016’s number of data breaches. Businesses continued to suffer the majority of breaches and more than eight times the number of Social Security numbers were exposed in 2017 than in 2016.

Just to highlight some of the major incidents in the recent past:

  • In late 2016 while negotiating a sale to Verizon, Yahoo announced that it had fallen victim to a breach compromising the email addresses, names, telephone numbers, and birthdates of hundreds of millions of customers.
  • Equifax – The Company announced in September 2017 that 143 million people had personal information stolen. In comparing that to the US Population (323 million) that means that 45% of all Americans were impacted.
  • In 2012, hackers stole the records of 21.5 million people from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), including detailed information about their families, past residences, foreign travel, health records and other sensitive information.

It isn’t just conglomerate corporations and government agencies at risk. Consider the March 24th through April 18th, 2017 breach of the Chipotle restaurant chain (discovered relatively quickly on April 25th). There were 2,250 nationwide locations affected by malware that stole customer credit card information.

The list goes on. A recurring theme within these incidents is that the actual breach and theft of data occurring far before any detection of the intrusion. In the Orbitz example, we’re learning via press release today that the data was stolen in early 2017. With Yahoo, a 2014 intrusion detected in late 2016. The gap between intrusion and detection is unsettling, considering that stealing and moving massive amounts of data isn’t easy, or quick. Consider in Equifax’s case, those data transmissions occurred over 2 ½ months (from May 13th to July 30th).

Why does it take so long to detect? Network logs can answer the questions of who/what/where/when, including data sizes, influx and outflow. Shouldn’t your IT Department notice when abnormal amounts of data are moving?

Attacks go unnoticed for several different reasons. Because so few attacks disrupt a company’s day-to-day process, intruders often remain undetected for long periods of time. Also, companies might receive endpoint alerts related to intrusions, but they receive so many of these alerts and other security data that they can’t (or don’t) analyze all of it. Buried by alert data and logs, analysts seem to have difficulty prioritizing the risk or likelihood of the intrusion. Time and financial constraints prevent them from investigating every lead, and most companies don’t employ a dedicated team of individuals specifically designed to investigate and sort through data incidents. Consider these statistics:  a 2014 Damballa report cited the average company generating an average of 10,000 security events per day, with the most active generating 150,000 events per day. By comparison, the Pentagon experiences 10 million “cyber break-in attempts” per day.

What can you do today to prepare?

  • Audit, Audit, Audit! Document your policies and procedures, and regularly report on them. I’m proud of every single audit report that I author which finds something wrong! It means I’ve unturned a stone that can be corrected, on my terms, hopefully prior to having caused serious harm.
  • Assess and Mitigate Risk – When was the last time you conducted a test intrusions, either internally or externally? Engage a professional to test your security protocols. Many times, problems lie hidden in plain sight, taking the naked eye of an outsider to bring to focus.
  • Evaluate Insider Threats – If a user can access a resource, they can compromise that resource. Sometimes users do it maliciously — for example, selling off data or sabotaging a database to get revenge for perceived mistreatment. More often, however, the insider threat is a mistake. A user might create a weak password, leave their account logged in on a shared computer, login via an insecure connection, or screw up in any one of thousands of other ways.
  • Install software patches in a timely manner. Consider – by the time the patch is distributed, hackers are likely working on the next best intrusion method.
  • Segregation of Duties (Access Control) – The fewer users who have access to a particular piece of sensitive information, the less likely that information is to be compromised. The fewer permissions a user has, the less damage a hacker can do if they compromise that user’s account.
  • Know Your Vendors – Third Party vendors need access to your landscape for you to run your business — for example, to process financial transactions or provide support. Unfortunately, hackers can target the portals they use as a means to gain access to your landscape. What controls, policy, and procedure do you require of your partners, if any? And how do you know they’re complying with those asks? Do you regularly audit your vendors?

Most Importantly? – Making Prevention a Priority

Instead of focusing on fending off attacks as they happen, companies need threat intelligence tools that identify internal vulnerabilities and data assets. Then, they should compare that with data from the external threat landscape to anticipate the company’s likelihood of being attacked. Hackers make it a full-time job to steal your data; what are you doing today to prevent that?

*Update*

Since final publication of this article, there have been a handful of additional data breaches, which continue to be evolving situations, and therefore were not included in this post. USA Today reported that BestBuy, Sears, and Delta Air Lines report to believe that the personal payment details of “thousands of customers” may have been exposed due to an incident at [24]7.ai – a chatbot service (vendor) utilized by these companies.

By: Jeremy Felder

Dated: April 08, 2018

About: Jeremy Felder holds a Master’s Degree from Tiffin University and is the Chief Compliance and Operations Officer at Chase Receivables in Fairfield, New Jersey. He is a member of ACA International (ACA) and is certified and credentialed by the ACA as a CCCO, PCS and ACA International Scholar. Jeremy also holds a Board position as the Vice President, Office of Project Management, for S4 Infinity – an international non-profit organization.