Utilizing a Personalized Employee Benefit Statement as Part of the Employee Retention Plan

Utilizing a Personalized Employee Benefit Statement as Part of the Employee Retention Plan

Guest writer Ron Wilson offers insight into employee benefits tonight in, “Utilizing a Personalized Employee Benefit Statement as Part of the Employee Retention Plan.”

Employee retention plans have become an important part of the organization’s overall recruitment process. As we know the cost to recruit, hire, and train a new employee can exceed the cost of investing in the current employee, especially when we include the revenue lost while we are trying to fill the position.

Although effective Retention Plans have many elements, it is worth our time to focus on one specific element, a Personalized Employee Benefit Statement. Below is an example of how a Personalized Employee Benefit Statement was utilized in retaining a key employee.

A highly productive Product Support Sales Representative scheduled a meeting with me and during the meeting he presented a letter of resignation. We spent some time reviewing the reasons for wanting to leave the company, where he was going, and reemphasizing the importance of his role within our organization. As we were wrapping up our discussion, I gave the letter of resignation back to the employee explaining that I would not accept the resignation at this time and asked that he compare the benefits his “new” employer would be providing as to what he was currently receiving. 

 We would review what he found out the following day and at that point if he still wanted to resign, I would accept his letter of resignation.

Later that evening the employee called me and asked if he could withdraw his letter of resignation. During his review of the “new” employer’s benefits, he discovered their medical coverage was insufficient to what he was currently receiving and his accrued time off was far less than what he was currently receiving.

The Personalized Employee Benefit Statement played a key role in the retention of this key employee. There was work to be done to address some other issues, but we now had some time and an open dialogue to continue strengthening our relationship.

Content of a Personalized Employee Benefit Statement

There can be many elements within a Personalized Employee Benefit Statement, but we will review only a few:

    • Employee Information- Name, employee number, years of service, job title
    • Company Information- Vision, Mission, Values
    • Salary Information- Including base salary, bonus, commissions, overtime.
    • Benefits Summary- This is the most important piece of the statement. Most employees do not see, and may not fully understand, some of these benefits and the cost.
      • Health Insurance- including premiums, deductible, and coverage, along with Wellness programs that are available. (Dental, vision, prescription drugs, etc.)
      • Retirement Benefits/Stock Options- This would include 401(k) match and other retirement plan information.
  • Life insurance and Disability insurance coverage
    • Paid time off (vacation, sick days, holidays)
  • Tuition Reimbursement and Training that has been provided to the employee.

There is no doubt many other examples you can recommend be added to a personalized employee benefits statement based on your organization’s information.

There were two key elements that contributed to the employee deciding not to resign. The medical insurance coverage provided by the new employer was insufficient due to some family medical needs and the new employer’s time off was insufficient to what the employee was accustomed to receiving.

The ability to quickly access this information and spend time with the employee to ensure their understanding of what is included within the current plan, what they may be giving up provided an environment of transparency and building trust. 

This discussion may also identify areas the current employer may need to address as it relates to a competitive benefit package.

To effectively build a Personalized Benefit Statement requires:

  • Information pulled together from payroll, benefits, training, and other key databases to consolidate into an individual employee statement.
  • Supervisors and Human Resources personnel being comfortable discussing the information and listening to the employees as they identify the areas of most importance to them.
  • Provide the personalized employee benefit at least once a year and be accessible to address the immediate situations that arise.

What would you include in a Personalized Benefit Statement? Have you had similar situations and were able to retain an employee that was resigning?

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A Changing Mindset on Training: Activate the “Hidden Workforce”

A Changing Mindset on Training: Activate the “Hidden Workforce”

Guest writer Ed Gordon comes back this week with valuable advice on employee development in, “A Changing Mindset on Training: Activate the ‘Hidden Workforce.'”

At long last, there are signs that companies are increasing employee training and participating in talent development programs. Why is this finally happening?

 A recent Federal Reserve program held in Chicago focused on how companies in four Midwestern states are partnering with their local communities to upskill younger entry-level workers. Companies from many businesses sectors are collaborating with K-12 and post-secondary institutions to offer both career information and educational programs aligned with current job requirements.

 This program also included a public high school graduate who told the audience how mentorships and a career exploration program interested him in pursuing a STEM career. He is now eager to begin post-secondary education that will qualify him for a career in information technology.

 A barrier that discourages publicly traded corporations from developing human capital is now being challenged. Arcane financial accounting rules currently classify employees of these companies as costs rather than assets. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is now considering proposals to require publicly listed companies to report spending on training and other human capital outlays. This may be a step toward moving the Financial Standards Accounting Board (FASB) to change accounting rules thereby giving companies the option of capitalizing and depreciating employee development as an investment, rather than expensing it as a cost that reduces earnings.

The Current U.S. Labor Market

Employer job training is also growing as an answer to the unprecedented demographic meltdown. Over this decade 10,000 workers are retiring each year (approximately 3.6 million workers annually). This will continue into the 2030s. Up to 66 percent of job openings are to replace these retirees.

 A recent National Federation of Independent Business survey reported that 42 percent of their members (companies with 500 or fewer workers) had vacancies they cannot fill. The number-one problem facing members of the Association of General Contractors is the shortage of skilled labor. Contractors are reporting that this is causing them to turn down new construction projects.

 In 2021 U.S. business experienced over 8 million job vacancies that resulted in a profit and productivity loss of over $1 trillion. By 2022 this had risen to over 12 million jobs and a $2 trillion loss. This trend seems to have abated somewhat this year. However, labor cost per unit rose to 6 percent in 2023. Average hourly earnings have increased 4.3 percent above last year as employers have raised wages to find qualified workers. Wage inflation is likely to continue unless businesses begin to enlarge the pool of skilled workers.

But where can this “hidden workforce” be found? According to U.S. Department of Labor reports, about 100 million Americans of working age are not participating in the labor force. Our research shows that at least 20 million of these workers have given up looking for employment because they lack some of the specific skills a job requires. They can fill such job vacancies if employers offer the job training needed to mobilize these skilled workers.

 As many other nations are dealing with a declining working-age population and significant skills shortages, it is important to develop all our own resources. There are hidden workers in our midst who could become productive employees if their skills are updated. Are U.S. businesses now beginning to realize that persistent job vacancies cost them more than it would to start entry-level skills training or to participate in community partnerships that are renewing local talent pipelines?

 Edward E. Gordon is the founder and president of Imperial Consulting Corporation in Chicago. His firm’s clients have included companies of all sizes from small businesses to Fortune 500 corporations, U.S. government agencies, state governments, and professional/trade associations. He taught in higher education for 20 years and is the author of numerous books and articles. More information on his background can be found at  www.imperialcorp.com. As a professional speaker, he is available to provide customized presentations on contemporary workforce issues.

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How Do Employee Engagement Strategies Combat Quiet Quitting?

How Do Employee Engagement Strategies Combat Quiet Quitting?

Guest writer Ed Wallace returns this week with a blog post on building the kind of environment that fosters employee satisfaction in, “How Do Employee Engagement Strategies Combat Quiet Quitting?”

The term “quiet quitting” describes the phenomenon whereby employees become disengaged and disinterested in their work, but instead of leaving the company, they work less productively. One of the best ways to counter quiet quitting is by implementing employee engagement strategies. According to a recent Gallup poll, “quiet quitters” make up at least 50% of the U.S. workforce. In addition, the ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees is now 1.8 to 1, the lowest in almost a decade.  

Quiet quitting is a significant challenge for leaders, as it can cause long-term damage to company culture, morale, and business outcomes. Read on to learn about employee engagement best practices. 

What is Employee Engagement?

Employee engagement is the level of commitment an individual has to their work and the company they work for. 

Countering quiet quitting requires an initiative-taking approach to employee engagement, which can help to boost motivation, job satisfaction, and productivity. 

Engaged employees are more likely to be enthusiastic about their work, more committed to their employers, and more willing to go the extra mile to achieve company goals. This is crucial because it can impact employee retention, customer satisfaction, and business performance. Companies with the highest rates of employee engagement are 21% more profitable and 17% more productive than those with a more disengaged staff.

How to Use Employee Engagement to Increase Motivation.

To combat quiet quitting, business leaders must invest in employee engagement best practices. Here’s how. 

Cultivate a Positive Company Culture 

Company culture is the attitude or environment within an organization. Businesses with positive cultures value diversity, inclusivity, open communication, encourage collaboration, and have higher rates of employee satisfaction. They also ensure employees don’t feel like they don’t matter or are replaceable. 

Positive company culture is one of the most critical employee engagement strategies because it helps employees feel more connected to their work, team, and the company’s mission. 

Promote Employee Well-Being

Workplace initiatives, such as wellness programs, flexible working arrangements, health screenings, and mental health resources show employees that their well-being is a priority. In addition, a more positive environment that rewards employees who perform well can help reduce burnout and anxiety. When they feel supported and cared for, they are more likely to be motivated and engaged at work.

Provide Growth Opportunities

Providing growth opportunities is one of the key employee engagement best practices. When employees see a future for themselves within their company, they are more likely to stay engaged and motivated. Invest in employee training and development opportunities to inspire them to learn new skills, take on challenges, and progress in their careers

Foster Meaningful Relationships 

Strong relationships among team members create a more supportive and collaborative work environment. When employees feel personally connected to their colleagues, they are more likely to be engaged and more committed and loyal to their work and team. 

Recognize and Reward Employee Contributions

Rewarding employee contributions is among the top employee engagement best practices. Acknowledging splendid work also boosts morale, increases confidence, and encourages employees to perform their best. 

Employee Engagement Examples.

Here are some tangible actions to boost employee engagement within your organization. 

Conduct a Survey 

An anonymous employee survey helps you gauge your baseline. You can structure the survey with a rating scale, open-ended questions, or multiple-choice questions. Consider topics such as employee and management interaction and overall company mission. The survey results will help you identify areas that require the biggest boost.

Pay Employees to Volunteer 

Paying employees to volunteer shows them that your company has a greater purpose beyond its bottom line and is making a positive contribution to society. Choose nonprofit organizations that align with your company’s mission and area of focus such as homelessness, books for underserved kids, or veterans. 

Create a Mentoring Program 

Mentorship supports employees as they progress in their careers by supporting them so they can identify their goals and overcome challenges. They also provide guidance and are particularly beneficial for underrepresented groups. A study from the University of California Haas School of Business found that mentoring programs are especially important for young women. 

To design a mentoring program, create a clear structure that addresses key components such as how long it will last and how mentees will connect with and pair with their mentors. Lastly, provide an opportunity for mentors and mentees to give insight into their experience.

The Bottom Line: How to Use Employee Engagement to Increase Motivation.

Business leaders must prioritize employee well-being, foster positive company culture, provide development opportunities, foster meaningful relationships, and recognize and reward employee contributions. By implementing these strategies, leaders can create a more engaging and supportive workplace, ultimately improving employee retention, productivity, and overall enterprise success.

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Lessons from Honeybees

Lessons from Honeybees

Guest writer Alex Weaver continues with his theme of lessons to be learned with this week’s blog, “Lessons from Honeybees.”

My most recent blog “Three Lessons from Dad,” I listed some of Dad’s interests and work. Beekeeping was on the list.

For my dad, bees and beekeeping were a labor of love, respect, and business. My Dad, his dad and a brother kept and tended several “apiaries,” or groups of hives. Maximizing production by moving them from SW Missouri to Iowa in the summer for Alfalfa pollination. Alfalfa produces great tasting honey. They produced and sold honey all year. There is a seasonal focus on beekeeping depending on what plant is blooming. A bee yard was fifty to several hundred hives. Not in one location but scattered across several locations, usually farms in southwest Missouri or southern Iowa. My Dad became a bit of a “Bee Whisperer” and often discussed his observations that became life lessons. He was very observant as he worked with the bees. 

Honeybees are essential in our lives. Honeybees are big money makers for U.S. agriculture. These social and hardworking insects produce six hive products – honey, pollen, royal jelly, beeswax, propolis, and venom – all collected and used by people for various nutritional and m medicinal purposes. Honeybees pollinate $15 billion worth of crops in the United States each year, including more than 130 types of fruits, nuts, and vegetables. Honeybees also produce honey, worth about $3.2 million in 2017 according to USDA-National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

Why is learning from Honeybees important? Because they have been successful for a long time.

“Bees lived during the time of the dinosaurs. During the Mesozoic era on earth, the earliest dinosaurs appeared about 245 million years ago and disappeared after an asteroid hit earth around sixty-five million years ago. The oldest fossil bees are from circa one hundred million years ago, found in Myanmar.” – Mann Lake LTD

So, what can we learn from Honeybees that apply in our workplace and our homes?

My comments here echo information available in many books today about honeybees. Scientists have studied and continue to study these hardworking and extremely focused insects. But I also include some of my dad’s comments. 

Teamwork –

“Honeybees are nature’s ultimate team-players. They cooperate in everything they do. They also behave as if it were an individual matter, while at the same time keeping the common good of the hive as their priority. If one bee is suffering or falling behind, the others step up and do the work, making sure that collective productivity is never reduced.” – 

Using teamwork, they produce honey. It is the only food that includes everything that is necessary to sustain life – water, minerals, enzymes, and vitamins. Honey also contains pinocembrin, an antioxidant associated with improved brain functioning. 

Without teamwork, the honeybee ecosystem could not achieve its goals.

Roles and Responsibilities – 

Every member of the hive population has a job to do. The queen is dedicated to reproducing, repopulating the population. The queen can lay as many as 2,000 eggs per day. Drones give up their lives to mate with the queens and contribute to succession. Worker bees can serve multiple roles. Scout bees are on the lookout for the next area to harvest pollen. They escort forager bees and soon a “pipeline” is formed. Forager bees haul pollen to the hive and return “empty” for the next load. Guard bees provide security.

Clearly Defined Roles and Responsibilities drive increased production and success.

Efficient – 

“Honeybees don’t multitask. Instead, they focus only on the top priority. They each have different jobs and they stick to them. This is how they are efficient, wasting no time on anything other than living their purpose and contributing where they are most capable.”

You have heard the expression, “Busy as a Bee – because they work hard every day. “It takes three hundred bees visiting two million flowers to make one pound of honey. Rest is part of being efficient. Honeybees spend two-thirds of their time resting. Bees need five to eight hours rest. Or they become inefficient.” – Paul Rigby

Work hard, but rest is important.

Process – 

Honeybees can be fun to observe. My Dad taught me this. Air Traffic Control. If you observe closely, there is no traffic jam around the entrance to the beehive. Bees that are inbound with pollen approach the hive at about 45 degrees, on the left side of the entrance, and once they have deposited their load, they depart, at about 45 degrees on the right side of the hive entrance, as you face the hive. Other bees flying around or near the hive can be on “orientation” flights, which is how recently hatched bees learn   which hive is their home and how to fly in and out.

Process defines productivity.

Communication – 

Scout bees find forage and flowers to harvest. A scout bee can waggle its body to send out the scent of the flower and this permeates the hive. The foragers know what flower to harvest.

Constant, clear communication improves productivity.

Security – 

Ten to Twenty guard bees remain airborne, near the entrance to the hive watching for predators. Bears, skunks, hive beetles, raccoons, and opossums seek Honeybee hives to raid for the honey and the bees. The bees defend their hive by stinging the predator in groups. The larger the predator, the more bees join in to sting and thwart the invader. Honeybees understand they face threats and are prepared to defend their hive, their factory and home. 

Lately Honeybees have come under attack by a “disease” called Colony Collapse Disorder. Much research is being done to identify the cause and protect the bees.

Without vigilant security, the Hive (Enterprise) won’t survive.

Interesting Next Step – 

As mentioned above, the Honeybee population is declining. One industry pundit has suggested that the decline could be slowed if there were more “Hobby” beekeepers. Maybe, many households could each set up and manage two honeybee hives. It is more work than a cat or dog, but extremely rewarding. The first time you remove a full frame of honey from a hive, cut the honey from the frame, and put it in a bowl, your kitchen is changed forever. Honey and honeycomb, fresh from your hive, is wonderful. Honey can be used to flavor recipes, spread on baked goods, base for sauces, including baked Salmon. 

Beehives are a good teaching venue for teenagers and family members. Several years ago, my younger sister and young adult daughter kept two hives in their backyard. Also, I helped my neighbors set up two hives. The hives flourished and they grew to five hives and produced enough honey for their own consumption, and some left to sell. In both instances the hives resided in suburban backyards.

In many communities there is a Beekeeper’s Club. Such clubs offer help to newcomers wanting to get started. There are hundreds of books available in print and online. I will list a few below.

The time is now. Why not give two beehives a chance? You and your family can be successful and help our honeybee population grow. And enjoy your fresh “Honey from the Hive.”

Books for your consideration:

“The Five Habits of Highly Effective Bees” – Thomas R. Seeley

“The Wisdom of Bees” – Michael O’Malley, PHD

What The Hive can teach business about leadership, efficiency, and growth

“Honeybee Democracy” – Thomas R. Seeley

“A Book of Bees” – Sue Hubbell

“Honeybee:  Lessons from an Accidental Beekeeper” – C. Marina Marchese

Books currently in my library:

“The Beekeeper’s Handbook – Diana Sammataro and Alphonse Avitabile

“The Backyard Beekeeper” – Kim Flottum

“Keeping Bees and Making Honey” – Alison Benjamin and Bran McCallum

“Natural Beekeeping” – Ross Conrad

Honeybees have been around for one hundred million years – as quoted above. They have a proven successful operating model. We can learn a lot from these little insects.

Credit where credit is due:  There is text in the above document highlighted by parenthesis. If I knew the author, their name follows the text. Some I did not have, so understand, these are not my words, and I don’t take credit, but agree with the message.

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Skilled Labor Jobs Provide Great Opportunities for Students

Skilled Labor Jobs Provide Great Opportunities for Students

Guest writer Steve Johnson shares a blog post this week on a topic that has been of great interest to our industry: Skilled Labor Jobs Provide Great Opportunities for Students.

The need for more workers in the skilled trades is not a new topic. I have been writing about this subject for at least twenty years. There has been some progress in recruiting more young people for these great job opportunities. That being said, Kristin Altus reports in FoxBusiness.com on August 4, 2023, “Job expert pushes back on cultural ‘stigma’ having a ‘disturbing’ impact on skilled work, generational handoff.” Also that, “Blue collar jobs see double-digit demand as industries try to integrate US supply chain.” The need for workers in the skilled trades remains a big issue.  

In talking with my industry contacts, I still hear much the same. The dealer recruitment needs for highly-qualified technicians in automotive, construction equipment, agriculture equipment and heavy truck remain unfulfilled. It’s still a challenge to interest students to explore these jobs and make the commitment to attend a high-quality two-year program in equipment technology. 

Obstacles to becoming an equipment technician are not what you might think. Consider this: 

  • Technician demand is still high, and has been for a number of years. In talking with school instructors, many new technician graduates have multiple job offers. These offers typically come from companies in a student’s local area, where studies have shown they prefer to be employed.  
  • Gaining the necessary education isn’t the obstacle one might think. Career and technical colleges are looking for graduating high school students with good communication and speaking skills who have done well in mathematics and science classes. Finding those schools is not difficult. Well-established trade organizations such as The AED Foundation (Associated Equipment Distributors) provide search tools for excellent academic institutions. Other local technical school options are easily searched on the internet. 
  • College scholarships and loans are available in the equipment industry. Many equipment dealers provide this type of assistance to help the students go from college student to dealer employed technician as quickly as possible. Tools scholarships and/or financial assistance from dealers and manufacturers are common. It’s not uncommon for those studying equipment technology to graduate debt free. Trade organizations such as IEDA, The Independent Equipment Dealers Association, also provide scholarship opportunities. Individual association members can also provide much information and welcome the opportunity to talk with students about careers in their industry. 
  • Looking online, the issue is not pay. I have observed that many newly graduated technicians from two-year technician programs start with a salary in the range of $35,000 – $45,000. Looking online, salary.com shows that the average salary for a Heavy Equipment Field Service Technician in the US in $66,000, with a range from $45,749 to $91,791. With overtime, pay can be even higher. With many dealers, the benefits are also excellent.

So, what’s the largest obstacle when it comes to increasing the supply of qualified technicians? Ms. Altus at Fox Business hit the nail on the head when she states, “A cultural stigma around traditional “blue collar” jobs runs alive and well.” In that article, she cites Mr. Andrew Crapuchettes, CEO of RedBalloon who speaks about this stigma. “Unfortunately, we have this cultural issue where a lot of the baby boomers, which are one of the wealthiest generations ever, is they’ve passed (this stigma) down to the next generation, they said, ‘I worked really hard in a factory, or I worked really hard early on, and then I was able to build a career, and I don’t want that for my kids or my grandkids,’” the CEO explained. “And so there’s this cultural stigma associated with those blue-collar, mixed-collar jobs,” he added. “There are lots of opportunities to work hard, not build $200,000 of school debt, and still be able to support a family and live a really good life. But there’s a stigma associated with this.”

Unfortunately, the old stereotype image of the “grease monkey” lingers; despite the fact that technicians today are highly skilled and are working on highly sophisticated, computer controlled heavy equipment. This includes not only many parents, but also decision influencers like high school and college career counselors. To meet today’s demand for technicians, the equipment industry, and other industries that depend on skilled trade workers, need to focus even more on getting the word out as to the great job opportunities that are available in the skilled trades.

  • Connect with your local college and high school career counselors. Introduce yourself to faculty and staff at middle schools and high schools. Ask for opportunities to visit with groups of students and introduce the technician career. Tailor you presentations to the different age groups you address. Explain to them how technicians today are working with advanced technology in industries that are literally building the future. Show them the variety of career possibilities from the standpoint of salaries, benefits, career growth and career stability. 
  • For those schools with technical programs, also ask faculty how you can support those programs and become active on their Advisory Boards. Provide them with technical information, as well as equipment and parts needed for instruction. Have your technicians provide information to students, and provide learning opportunities for faculty. Participate in career day events. Perhaps you can start a diesel club at your local high school. Develop the long-term relationships that will benefit you in your future recruiting efforts.
  • Develop informational materials that will help show decision-influencers the great career opportunity you can offer students. These can be brochures, videos and information about technical college programs. Look for opportunities to meet with students and their parents. I have always said that workforce development is local. For example, career days at your dealership offer an opportunity for decision-influencers and students to see the “iron” and have individual conversations about career options. Provide opportunities for students to visit and follow a technician for a day, and see firsthand what the job is. Be sure to talk about how you can help students as they prepare for a technician career with assistance in buying tools, summer employment, work-study, scholarships, loans and career advice.

Successful recruitment strategy is a long-term commitment to developing a sustainable technician “pipeline” that meets your needs as your company grows. Take time to lay out a strategy for working with middle schools, high schools and technical colleges and review that plan annually. Talk to the schools and get their ideas for action items to include.  Build a strategy that connects with your decision-influencers multiple times during the year. Some people at dealers will say recruitment is the job of the high schools and colleges. Trust me, as a dealership your success in recruiting is up to you. 

Safety Lessons: From Social Media and Complacency

Safety Lessons: From Social Media and Complacency

Guest writer Bill Pyles joins us this week with a blog that doubles as an OSHA Consultation in “Safety Lessons: From Social Media and Complacency.”

In my opinion, there are two serious threats to the safety of workers regardless of the industry you’re in. They are social media and complacency. Many people, me included, will refer to social media when working on something I’m not familiar with. However, the issue with social media is it’s not regulated, or reviewed by professionals and is not always compliant with basic safety standards.


For example, I was online reading one of my favorite car guy sites. The article was about jack stands and the correct way of blocking up a car before anything is done underneath the car. The article did stress that your jack stands are no place to try and save on expenses. But in the comments section, there was a raging debate regarding the use of cinder blocks to block up a car (or truck). One person rationalized that his house was built with cinderblocks, and it held up just fine. I was stunned to hear many others agree that cinder blocks work great for blocking up cars. The truth is that they are not designed to or rated to be used as blocking stands. Lay a cinder block on its side and you can break it with a small hammer. A cinder block will fall under a car or truck without warning and with deadly consequences.


Another example was when I was watching one of my car guy’s TV shows. I really enjoy the car show where they drag a rusted heap out of the forest and 60 minutes later it looks better than new! But they are still fun to watch. Recently a car was pulled out of a garage and the rescuers were trying to get it started. The car would crank over, but not start. Then one of the rescuers had a bottle of gas and proceeded to pour gas into the carburetor while his buddy cranked the starter. I was shocked again to see this because if the car backfired, (and they always do when an unregulated amount of gas is put into a cranking engine) it could cause significant injury to the guy pouring in the gas. All I could think of was how many others were watching this show and the next time an old car would not start, they’d grab a bottle of gas! Recently, I became another victim of both items mentioned above and it got me an ambulance ride and an overnight stay at the Loyola Burn Center just outside of Chicago, but more on this later.


First, I want to share with you a wonderful way to help your business avoid the hazards of social media safety and complacency.  I believe the following comments are attributed to President Ronald Regan. “The most terrifying words are “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” Many of you reading this may feel the same way and, in some areas, I’d have to agree. But what does this have to do with safety?


The thought of inviting an OSHA representative may send chills down the backs of some business owners and their managers. However, this government agency works hard to protect workers and their families. OSHA has an outstanding program called On-Site Consultation. It’s primarily for smaller businesses that do not have the on-staff resources for safety programs and compliance. 


OSHA’s on-site consulting program is at no cost to the business. It offers small businesses confidential occupational safety and health services. Works with employers to help find and eliminate workplace hazards, gives advice regarding complying with OSHA standards, and most importantly, helps establish and improve safety and health programs and train employees. Safety does not stop at the shop door. Your warehouse, break room, customer and vendor areas, and yard area are all areas to be reviewed.


During my career, I worked for a small company that was expanding rapidly. The expansion often included purchasing other dealerships that would expand the dealer’s territory and inherit many past practices of the purchased dealer that were unsafe work environments. The company was operating in the hands of many different supervisors and managers who had conflicting ideas regarding safety. Sometimes safety took a back seat to production. And too many times this mindset has caused a significant injury to an employee. The company took OSHA’s offer of its free consultation program. The results were almost immediate. The program follows OSHA’s guidelines for record-keeping, including three hundred reports, accident reporting, and my personal favorite, on-site inspections. It was an extremely enlightening experience. During all aspects of the consultation, the company must agree to address all out-of-compliance issues in a timely manner. If your company qualifies for this consultation program, I highly recommend looking into it or emailing me if you have questions or concerns. I’d be happy to share my experiences. For more information go to www.osha.gov/consultation.


As one of the managers responsible for safety, I would always do a brief walk-around inspection of our shops and yards. Occasionally I would take several techs, parts, and office employees on these walkarounds. It’s important for everyone to know and understand why the bench grinder is unsafe to use (a number one violation in most shops). Why? Too often no one takes responsibility for a shop tool. Everyone uses it so it’s “assumed” the next person will correctly adjust the grinding wheel to the tool rest. And are you doing the “ring” test when replacing the grinding wheel?? 


If it’s a pedestal grinder, can I easily push the grinder over, is it secure? All owners, managers, supervisors, and employees must understand the reason there is a safety violation to become real believers in safety compliance.


Are your full oxygen, nitrogen, and acetylene bottles secured, capped, and clearly marked? When you are out in your shop or warehouse, see how your oxygen and acetylene bottles are secured, then Google “oxygen bottle missile.” This YouTube video should make you a believer in compressed gas bottle safety!


I’ve been personally involved in accidental death investigations on the job site and serious injuries in the shop or yard. It’s very emotional when too often the accident could have been avoided. Too many accidents are the result of lack of experience (or too much experience, more on this later), lack of the proper tools, poor conditions; too hot, too cold, too cluttered, etc. 

Many years ago, a study was done to review why pilot error was a leading cause of airplane disasters. Briefly, the findings were that new pilots tended to make errors due to a lack of experience or training. As time on the job increased, errors due to lack of experience and/or training decreased. But oddly enough as the pilots became more experienced and highly trained, the errors began to reappear. The study found that as we become more experienced, we sometimes begin to take shortcuts and pay less attention to policy and procedure. They became complacent, a recipe for disaster. 


Ensure your team is trained regarding hazard identification issues. A hazard is any behavior or condition which increases the likelihood of an incident. An incident is an undesired event that could, or does, result in injury, illness, or property damage. Examples include poor lighting in the shop, warehouse, or even the office area. Trips and falls are still frequently happening due to hazardous conditions. Good stewards of safety eliminate hazardous conditions before an incident occurs.


Now, to address how I succumbed to complacency resulting in serious burns to my hand. I was collaborating with a friend trying to get an old car started. My friend was younger, and I did mention more than once that pouring gas into a carburetor while cranking the engine was dangerous. While the engine was cranking, it was hitting a couple of cylinders. So, I took a small bottle of gas and poured the gas directly into the carb. The last thing I remember was a huge fireball erupting under the hood with me in the middle of it. My hand was on fire as well as my tee shirt and the pants I was wearing. I quickly dove into a stack of tee shirts, rolling around and trying to get the fire out. Complacency got to me that day, and it could have been a lot worse. The car had burnt damage and the drywall in front of the car was burnt from my throwing the exploding gas bottle. And you can only imagine how I felt when someone on TV with thousands of viewers saw a bottle of gas being poured into a cranking engine! Fortunately, I’ve healed with no lasting issues other than a grim reminder of what being complacent can result in.

Remember social media has its place but safety is up to you! 

Listen to your instincts, I wish I did and would have avoided a trip to the hospital!

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The Subtle Power of a RASCI Chart

The Subtle Power of a RASCI Chart

Guest writer Sara Hanks offers constructive wisdom for project success in, “The Subtle Power of a RASCI Chart.”

During several recent project reviews, an unmistakable pattern emerged: projects consistently stumbled at the same exact step. The project leaders were quick to lay blame on the purchasing team, citing a lack of support. But a deeper dive revealed the issue wasn’t about finger-pointing or blame.


After several meetings with several people, my team completed mapping out the process, uncovering a glaring gap. A significant process step, vital to the project’s progress, lacked ownership. To engage the purchasing team, the planner needed to put demand in the system. In services, however, there is no planner function, so the process stopped until it was escalated. Several projects were delayed due to this issue.


This is where the transformative power of the RASCI chart came to our rescue. For those unfamiliar, RASCI stands for:


Responsible (R): The person who performs an activity. It’s vital to have a single ‘R’ for every step, ensuring there’s clear ownership and no overlap in duties.

Accountable (A): The person ultimately accountable for the correct and thorough completion of the task. This usually falls on a senior person who has the authority to sign off on the step. Some sources consider the (A) as Approver.

Supportive (S): Those who assist the ‘R’ in completing the task. They provide the resources or knowledge needed but don’t take on the main responsibility.

Consulted (C): The people who must give input before the task is completed, providing necessary expertise or information.

Informed (I): Those who need to be kept in the loop regarding the outcome of the task, but don’t necessarily have input on its execution.


For each step of the process, identify who is responsible for completing the task. With the clarity provided by the RASCI chart, we meticulously documented each process step and assigned who was responsible. The planner step of the process was assigned to the warehouse manager. We also discovered that by informing the purchasing team sooner, they would have more awareness of the project and could respond more efficiently.


But the benefits of the RASCI chart extend beyond merely assigning roles. With a clearer understanding of responsibilities:


Streamlining Approval Steps: Organizations often have multiple approval layers, some of which may be redundant. With clarity on who is truly responsible and accountable, teams can challenge and eliminate unnecessary approval steps, making processes leaner and faster.

Enhanced Communication: Knowing exactly who needs to be consulted or informed means that communication is more targeted. This can reduce the back-and-forth and make decision-making swifter.


Conflict Resolution: When roles overlap or are unclear, conflicts can arise. Clearly defining who is responsible for what can prevent such overlaps and the ensuing misunderstandings.


Efficient Resource Allocation: With a better grasp on who supports each step, managers can allocate resources more efficiently, ensuring that each phase of a project gets the support it truly needs.


Training & Onboarding: When introducing new team members to a process, a RASCI chart acts as a guide, detailing what each team member’s role is, ensuring faster integration into projects.


The RASCI chart’s benefits, as we discovered, are multifaceted. Not only does it bring clarity to roles, but it also optimizes processes, enhances communication, and leads to better resource allocation. It’s not just about finding out who does what; it’s about understanding how everyone can do what they do, better.


In the end, our experience with the RASCI chart was enlightening. It taught us the significance of clearly defined roles and responsibilities. As organizations evolve and processes become more intricate, tools like the RASCI chart will be essential in navigating the complexity, ensuring efficiency, and fostering a culture of clarity and collaboration.

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New Leadership

New Leadership

Guest writer Sonya Law returns this week with the Human Resources perspective in “New Leadership.”

New Leadership: It’s time to expand our definition of what makes a great leader!

According to Harvard Business Review: “Leadership is a conversation” It is less about issuing and taking orders than about asking and answering questions” which leads us to the first quality… 

Leader as Coach

Whether it is formal or informal both styles of coaching have value. We know in sport that coaching tends to be very structured although this is changing too, as coaching is as much about coachable moments on field as off the field.

As a leader within an organisation the value is in the coachable moments, in real-time its powerful.  

A good leader is self-aware and recognises what is needed to be said at the opportune moment. It is timely advice and the right guidance at the right moment and is well received by the employee and builds a positive feedback loop for the individuals growth.

These moments build trust, as they feel that the leader is going to be with them every step of the way, which creates shared commitment and purpose.  Its these strong emotional bonds that leaders need to maintain a positive feedback loop for learning and growth of their team.  When you have the people, both their hearts and mind you can extract unrealised potential and discretionary effort from each member of the team.


Why is this important?

Gallup Poll 2023, measure’s global engagement levels in organisations, currently at 15% engaged workforce.  Reporting that employees are not emotionally connected to their work and do the bare minimum.  

When you have a strategy to win and be the best, bare minimum, with 85% of the workforce disengaged and only 15% engagement it’s not enough, in a competitive environment to achieve high performance.


Why wouldn’t you want extra effort?

When people are emotionally invested you can extract discretionary effort and unrealised potential of employees, when there is an improvement in Leadership Effectiveness.  There is a positive impact to the overall human effort towards achieving the organisations goals.  

We need to turn our focus towards Leadership Effectiveness and adopting a more humanistic approach, to drive a high-performance culture.

What is key in driving a high-performance culture?  

Creating a work environment that builds emotional connection will elicit high performance because there will be high levels of trust.  Leadership is both an art and science, there is not a perfect formula, it is often knowing our style and being able to adapt, that is the best predictor of success.

When I think about building trust in teams, the gurus are John and Julie Gottman, they are well known for their relationship work with couples in building trust, but before now probably not thought of in terms of business relationships. The science or in this case psychology still stands, building trust and connection has the same elements. 

When an employee makes a bid for connection towards their manager, this is an opportunity for the manager to acknowledge them and transmit a feeling of being valued to the employee.  For example, you walk into the office each morning and say a quick good morning to your team, they try to engage with you, but you race to your first meeting, not allowing anytime for conversation.  This will affect the trajectory of their day and over time unmet bids for meaningful connection at work, will result in poor behaviours, disloyalty, and disengagement. 

However, in a thriving and positive workplace where space is created for meaningful connection between managers and their teams, behaviours you are more likely to see are: –

  • Helping Customers
  • Coming to you with solutions not problems 
  • Being more open to Change 
  • Raising issues before they become bigger.

Leaders energise teams.

They own it, by taking responsibility for their own energy levels. The best leaders I know have a morning routine, the alarm goes between 5am and 6am and they exercise because they know, when they do, they will have more energy to complete the tasks of the day. They report feeling more energised and increase in productivity and receptivity to those around them. Leading them to be able to not only boost their energy levels but that of their team.

They respond to emails with energy, they communicate with the appropriate level of energy and passion it takes to enliven a team.  Being aware about your own state and being intentional in the tone and energy of your emails and verbal communication and body language can motivate or demotivate your team, be aware and conscious of your energy levels.

Leaders who prioritise their self-care and that of their team by role modelling and having regular conversations about the importance of wellbeing.  Will have a more energised team to keep up with the pace and demands of today’s workplace.

Leaders foster inclusivity.

They do not have all the answers, but are prepared to lean in, listen and learn. They engage with experts in the field and want to understand how they themselves can be more inclusive in their language and behaviours. 

Leaders are Emotionally Intelligent (EQ)

They are aware that to be a great leader you need to be self-aware and be able to self-regulate your own emotions to provide a safe working environment. If we are divisive and reactive most of the time this will lead to an unpredictable and unstable environment.  

The most powerful tool in EQ is awareness, when you are aware of bids for connection from your team, these are the micro-moments that enable you to build emotional connection which creates a sense of belonging for your people.


Leaders have empathy.

Leaders who have empathy and build connection with their people, will get the best from them.

Some leaders, already know they wear their heart on their sleeve, and they understand it is a balance and to not demonstrate empathy, is a bigger risk, particularly in navigating the sensitivities of their younger team members (generational). 

When there is emotional connection in the team it elicits discretionary effort and a willingness to go into the trenches and even endure some stress. 

Empathy simply is not prioritising your comfort over someone else.  

Leaders find it hard to step into empathy because it is uncomfortable and makes them feel vulnerable. 

By paying attention to how you are showing up in this space, you could ask for feedback on how well you listen, your language (both verbal and body language) and experience for the other person. 

Empathy is a skill set and can be learned, you can develop your own style, and build it in 3 ways: 

  1. The first step in empathy, is making the other person a priority and showing genuine interest.
  2. Tune into them, it is a human skill like a muscle that can be strengthened with practice.  
  3. Empathy is a sense, of sensing someone else’s emotion. (If you have completed your MBTI, check your results for ‘Sensing’). Or any EQ, emotional intelligence test.

Your own personal and lived experience affects your level of empathy.  

Leaders who embrace diversity of human experience.  Can listen more effectively, expanding their “emotional range” having a “full life” helps with empathy and seeking out a wide range of experiences, making them more relatable. 

Leaders tell me most of their problems are people related and spend most of their time, effort, and energy on them.  When we build our empathy muscle and develop a more humanistic approach.

The benefits of a humanistic approach are: 

  • Improved people outcomes 
  • Focus on critical projects which impact the business.
  • Leading and implementing change 
  • Maintaining an engaged and energised workforce. 

Some leaders are good technically and they rise into leadership roles, and they lack the soft skills, particularly empathy which is a key skill in leading people.  Volvo have recognised this and trained 20% of their People Managers in MHFA (Mental Health First Aid) as they recognise the importance of a safe workplace both physically and mentally.  

Leaders who demonstrate empathy and have a sense of where people are at emotionally, allows them to resolve issues early before it becomes a conflict and litigious.


Leaders are prepared and value a Growth Mindset

Leaders who are focused, intentional and limit distractions get what they want. Why? 

They prepare for conversations, they prepare for meetings they know what they want to say, what they want from the team. They are always aware of the bigger picture and how they can collaborate and involve the necessary stakeholders and decision makers in important decisions and direction of the team and business. 

They do not leave things to chance.  

They have a process of reflection and analysis to ensure they themselves are growing and developing as a leader and engage in their own learning.  They value a growth mindset and know it’s important to being innovative and adaptive. 


Leader’s nurture young talent and innovation

Leader’s nurture young talent and recognise that good ideas can come from anywhere whether it is your first day on the job or you have been there for 20 years.  Providing systems where you develop your youth and innovation will deliver value to any organisation and is worth the upfront investment of time and effort. It’s important to provide opportunities for young people to connect and learn from leaders.


Leaders promote wellbeing. 

They promote wellbeing for themselves and the team, they seek to understand what is important to the people by asking them and make it a weekly focus to check in on their level of burnout.  Leaders prioritise safety and know their most asset is their People, understanding that wellbeing includes both mental and physical safety, they take a wholistic approach.  


Leaders connect people with Purpose.

They look for ways to connect people with their talents and drive purpose and passion where possible to ensure the people feel energised and not burnt out. Much of burnout and overwhelm is not being aligned at work and not having impact. Author Liz Wiseman wrote a book called Impact Players which explores this concept further. 


Leaders get uncomfortable and show up in an authentic way.

They are prepared to have difficult conversations that need to be had.  They do not put their comfort ahead of others and make space for these conversations in their day. 

Leaders create a sense of safety when difficult issues arise, to allow difficult issues to be raised and worked through in a respectful, open, and transparent way.  They look for ways to lead by example which gives those around them permission also, to be authentic at work. 


Leaders humanise the workforce.

They humanise the workforce and understand whilst financial sustainability and good administration is the foundation of any business there is a human aspect to what we do.  Even in the most competitive and brutal environment of Tour De France, Netflix series featuring cyclist Mark Cavendish shares the human side and pressures of competitive cycling. 


Leaders celebrate. 

Leaders celebrate with the team to create a sense of belonging and shared purpose.  The team that celebrates together stays together.  Having fun and being away from the stresses of the workplace and celebrating creates lots of moments of connection and may serve to improve cross functional relationships.  

Creating a high performance and winning culture, that establishes traditions and rituals to celebrate milestones, recognise the team and the wins along the way, will support the group in overcoming obstacles and building resilience.


Leaders are positive.

Finally, leaders who are positive, generous, charismatic, yet realistic, provide the most valuable thing to their people, they give hope.  When you are not winning, the work can feel like a grind and people who lift each other are vital to the group not losing hope.  A leader who is focusing on the positives, and moving forward will encourage the group to do the same. Positivity is contagious. We invest a lot in our people to build them up, be careful not to slip into low energy moods and negativity. Always be thinking as a leader, what can I do today to make it better tomorrow!


The bottom-line benefits are: 

  • Engaged workforce – improving productivity and reducing staff turnover.
  • Openness to change – digital transformation and critical business projects actioned.
  • Reduction in burnout – less absenteeism, increase presenteeism, reduced work cover claims and legal disputes. 


Raising questions?

Why wouldn’t you invest in Leadership Training?

Why wouldn’t you invest in Leadership Coaching?

Why wouldn’t you want to protect your leaders from Burnout? 

‘If you take care of your leaders they will take care of your people, who take care of your business’. 

Contact Sonya Law founder of SL Human Resources Consulting if you are interested in leadership training, coaching and strategies to avoid burnout in your leaders.

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My Perspective from Kansas

My Perspective from Kansas

Brace yourselves! Guest writer Andy Fanter is ready to challenge prevailing behavior with “My Perspective from Kansas.”

I want to establish my “street creds” before I make 18% of the US unhappy.  I have lived most of my 50+ years in Kansas:  Wichita, Kansas City, Lawrence, Baldwin City, Hartford, Great Bend, and Marion.  Oh, so now you have heard of “that Marion, Kansas”.  Trust me; I have seen worse in my eight years living in Marion.  


The attempt to save old buildings and rural America is a waste of time and energy.  There is an old building that has seen 18 months of renovations, $200k+ spent, grants, and the barbeque restaurant still not ready to move in and start cooking.  Meanwhile, two miles away on well-traveled US Highway 56, complete with semi-truck parking sits the closed Pizza Hut. Rumor has it the current owner, a farmer using it to store machinery in the parking lot, would sell for $50k or less.   The old buildings across the US have bad roofs, wiring, plumbing, heating/air, asbestos, etc.   The buildings need demolition and a metal building in place to give a business a chance to survive.


You want to come to Marion and debate rural America over—breakfast.  We can get a coffee and a donut at Casey’s convenience store and eat in the park.  Four diners have come and gone in Marion in my eight years living here.  3 of 4 were in old buildings, one tried Pizza Hut—but covid hurt it.   Marion has industrial land for cheap, some cities have it for free—they attract Dollar General.  You could build a nice manufacturing plant for 50 employees.  Marion is a mini big metro across the US—inventory of good housing is low, and if one is for sale it sells in a week.


You think visiting Kansas would be great to try the fishing and hunting opportunities.   The lakes have big problems with blue green algae blooms.  The last 15 years have seen a huge surge in nonresident hunting on public land, and private land being bought by non-residents to be used for hunting in the fall and winter.  The same nonresidents buy nice homes in the small towns to use during the hunting season.  I have a friend who manages over 600k acres for out of state residents who own the land.  The same nonresidents own 6 homes in a small town.  If you want to enjoy the outdoors in Kansas, better to write a big check for your own land, and hope no one trespasses.


So, what is this Fanter rant?   Good people live in rural areas, and you need to help them get closer to larger population areas to help your business.    Expanding rural broadband is more about corporate agriculture needing the services to control equipment.   None of these issues are unique to Kansas.  Texas would say it saw these issues 30 years ago.   Your future employees are likely in a rural area or working in a restaurant.  They need help seeing a better future working in your business.  For my part of the world, construction and construction machinery offer opportunity over a broad spectrum of dirty jobs to office jobs.  18% of people in the US are living in rural areas—it is time to squeeze that down to 15%.

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What Purchase Frequency Means for Equipment Dealers

What Purchase Frequency Means for Equipment Dealers

Guest writer Debbie Frakes writes about metrics today with her blog post, “What Purchase Frequency Means for Equipment Dealers.”

Purchase frequency is a crucial key metric for equipment dealers to consider when evaluating the behavior of their current customers and their marketing efforts. It refers to the number of times a customer buys products or services from a company within a specified time. Analyzing purchase frequency will help you recognize at risk customers, because it tells you when they start going to competitors instead of you. 


Know if customers are buying from competitors! 


Purchase frequency gives you insight into what your customers are up to. Construction, demolition, utility, and other businesses that use heavy equipment require a consistent supply of parts, service, and machines. That means that if they aren’t buying those things from you, they are going somewhere else. So, if their purchase frequency is decreasing, it could indicate that they are turning to one of your competitors. 


Learn your customers’ purchase behavior! 


Tracking the purchase frequencies of your customers will give you a baseline for their typical behavior, including when and how much they usually buy. Armed with that information, you can then modify your marketing messaging, timing, channels, and overall efforts to fit your customers’ usual purchasing habits and trends, making it easier for them to buy what they need from you. 


Improve specific areas of your business! 


As an equipment dealer, you really have multiple different businesses connected and rolled into one. To be successful, each of those different businesses need to be firing on all cylinders and operating at peak performance. If your parts department and equipment rentals are strong, but service purchase frequency is decreasing, then you must take a closer look at that section of the company and implement steps to improve it. 


How to increase purchase frequency: Distribute Emails


The best way to increase your purchase frequency is through email distribution. When you consistently send out effective messaging, you can double or triple the number of times that your customers buy from you. Email distribution can deliver an incredible return on investment of over 4,000%. 


Emails are effective, because they inform people about everything you offer—products, services, parts, rentals, advice you can offer for better equipment performance. They also keep your company top of mind and serve as reminders to purchase again, stock up on parts, or schedule an inspection. 


Ensure your emails are effective! 


You can only achieve higher purchase frequency if your email distribution is done the right way. Emails must be designed and written professionally, must compel the reader to act, and they require a CTA that links back to your website or landing page. More than anything else, you want to encourage your recipients to buy from you or schedule a demo, and then make it easy for them to actually do it. 


Email distribution also allows your salespeople to identify which customers or prospects are engaged by seeing who opens and clicks on the emails. If they follow up with those who are consistently viewing your messages, then they can possibly move them to purchase again. Plus, sending out specific messaging to customers whose purchase frequency is decreasing may just be the push they need to come back to you. 


If you want to understand your purchase frequency and increase it through email distribution, then contact Winsby Inc. today. They will help you get started creating and sending effective messaging quickly. 


Contact Winsby Today: https://www.winsbyinc.com/contact-us.html

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