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Beware of the “Working Dead” …

In most zombie movies, there is no antidote. No cure for their nasty zombie virus, it’s simply all downhill from thereYou watch as they slowing begin to turn into the “working dead”. After the same-old, same old, day in and day out, your team quickly begins looking a lot like zombies. Soon your productivity has slowed down, along with your sense of adventure, and finally, it’s all over. The sparkle and excitement drain from your employees’ eyes as they mindlessly do their job. Obviously, no one wants a zombie, both in the horror sense and the work sense. Here are a few things that will help keep your employees immune to the virus.  

 

First of all, remember that a positive workplace is key to great employee morale. Positivity isn’t a slew of awesome perks, though that is nice. Positivity is the energy derived from the respect people have for one another. It’s also having trust in people and allowing them to speak freely about their issues. Often, bad employee morale is caused by a feeling of being defeated. It’s the hypocrisy that can often rear its ugly head in the corporate world. My motto is always to treat everyone as you would want to be treated. That’s a pretty good start for a more positive and productive workplace.                  

 

To piggyback off that, it’s also wonderful when leadership engages with employees. Yes, you’re busy, and yes you pay them so in your mind that should be enough. Well, you’d be surprised at how many people sincerely care about your business alongside that paycheck. The ones that do feel respected and engaged with the company when leadership even gives a simple hello while passing in the hallway. Spend a little personal time getting to know people and engaging with your employees. This will allow them to feel that much more connected to your business and be motivated to take care of it correctly.    

 

Then, of course, there is recognition. This is always a tough one because many business owners and bosses alike feel as though a paycheck is enough recognition. In a perfect world, it certainly would be. Today’s workforce requires a little butt patting. (Not literally, don’t do that!) What I mean is a simple thank you can be an immense boost to someone’s ego. If a few simple words increase productivity, then why the heck not? No one is asking for crazy bonuses, free lunch, or a gym membership. (Although, I’m sure you wouldn’t get turned down for that). Employees just need to know they are working in the right direction and are producing quality. Ultimately, they want to make you happy and your business succeed.  

 

The main takeaway here is to put some genuine care into your employees. Foster an environment where people can speak up about the good, bad, and ugly without negative repercussions. Mostly though, treat others as you would want to be treated and that will create the baseline for your success. 

Unfortunately, the majority of the workforce are unengaged. Rather than work, disengaged employees are usually spending their days socializing, surfing the internet, shopping online, and possibly even job hunting. Many of the reasons for this include a lack of challenging work, too many work hours, and feelings of dissatisfaction. It really is unfortunate because employees simply want a positive environment where they can do their best work. Not only that but low engagement costs United States companies over $350 billion in revenue every year. The amount is staggering but there are several signs that you may want to look out for when it comes to employee engagement.  

1. Quiet 

The first sign is if the employee suddenly withdraws. Some employees have a quiet and shy nature, so be aware of that before you jump to conclusions. However, it is important to keep an eye on disengaged employees over time. If you notice an employee suddenly get quiet and withdraw for a few days, you may have a problem.  

2. Decrease in Quality 

Next is a drop in the quality of work that the employee was producing. Many times, you can notice employees taking longer to complete assignments or simply producing less. If the lack of quality is consistent, you most likely have a disengaged employee. Sometimes though, a brief period of underperformance is possible due to work and life stress. However, if it’s continual it means your employee is starting to care less.  

3. Behavior 

Another more obvious way of seeing that your employees are disengaged is if you see an attitude or anger. If an employee is visibly upset or even lashing out on managers or co-workers, it is not a good sign. This could be because the employee is having issues within the workplace that need to be addressed. Or simply they are unhappy with their current job.  

4. Over Socializing 

Too much socializing could also be a sign of disengagement. If your employees are constantly wandering around the office or gossiping at the water cooler, that is a sign that they are bored and they are trying to get away from their desks. By doing this they are avoiding their responsibilities and contributing to a lack of productivity.  

5. Avoidance  

When an employee avoids coworkers or work-related events its yet another sign of disengagement. Sometimes, people don’t enjoy the social aspects of work life and that’s okay. But if an employee took part in these things before and is recently showing avoidance, it most likely points to disengagement.  

6. Tardiness 

Tardiness and leaving work early are more signs that an employee is lacking at their job. Sometimes it is necessary to come late or leave early, life does throw curveballs every once in a while. But if it is occurring often and/or affecting work, it is yet another sign. You will want to communicate with your employees to ensure there aren’t any outside forces affecting their tardiness.    

7. Sick Often 

Finally, overusing sick days is a sign of disengaged employees. People do get sick or have doctor appointments, so there should be some kind of leeway. But you know when the use of sick leave becomes excessive, or employees begin to abuse it. Long weekends are usually a sign of this. 

Once you’ve discovered one or more of these things happening it suggested you communicate with your employee and try to understand if there is an underlying reason to be disengaged. However, you do have to ask yourself if that team member is worth saving in the first place. Will their attitude drag down other employees? Will work continue to lack quality? Does the employee even know if something is abnormal? Once you make your decision, work on keeping the rest of your workforce engaged. Recognizing them for their work is always a welcomed idea. If you find out how to motivate them, it will help boost morale and in turn re-engage complacent employees. 

There is a saying that goes “people don’t quit their jobs, they quit their bosses.” We’ve found this to be true, especially as we talk with front line employees about the challenges they’re experiencing with technology. Now, it doesn’t usually become an outright complain fest about the failures of management, but we’ve noticed these nine things that tie poor job morale with lackluster management.

Not in Touch with Their Struggles

It’s the everyday frustrations. Having a single monitor. Waiting for their computer to load. Lack of storage. Systems crashing. A line of business application that stays constantly in the whirligig of waiting. These are things that all front line employees experience, but aren’t usually passed through the management ranks. Why? Let’s face it. Management have the best systems, the quickest support, and (usually) the least hands-on involvement in line of business applications. Good managers recognize these challenges, and either provide enough time to deal with them or mitigate them with regular refreshes or improvements. If you don’t, you’re going to continually drain your employees’ energy, create frustration, and leave them longing for a more efficient day to day.

Lack of Communication

As a manager have you ever spent hours in a meeting making important decisions and then just expected that your employees understand what happened out of osmosis? Maybe you’re too tired to pass on the information and then get lost in the next item on your to-do list. Maybe you assume that they should already know what’s going on. Lack of communication is a quick ticket to frustration. Every time you make a decision, make sure you have a clear path to inform your teams, whether it’s a daily huddle, a summary email, or a classic memo.

Vague Direction

Not communicating is one thing. Giving vague instructions and then expecting your team to deliver exactly what you envision is another equally painful result of poor management. Instead, make sure you’re clearly documenting your vision. We utilize Basecamp and Trello for this purpose, ensuring that our teams receive the message and have enough detail to take action. Beyond the written word, make sure you’re touching base with your team daily on progress, questions, and areas requiring support.

Micromanagement

The opposite of vague direction is micromanagement. No one wants to be monitored constantly, especially in a job that they know like the back of their hand. Put the systems in play where you can manage key performance indicators, job performance, and time sucks (like restrictions on how long people can spend on Facebook during their workday), then let your people do their work.

Taking Credit/Not Giving Credit Where It’s Due

After your employees complete their work, make sure you give them credit. This is the number one reason people hate their bosses. Whether it’s an email or meeting shout-out, give your people their gold stars. It will go a long way toward maintaining employee engagement.

Lack of Advocacy

If your employees bring you a problem, i.e. their systems aren’t performing properly, software is making their lives unbearable, they spend half their time fixing the copy machine rather than doing their day job, do something about it. If you don’t have someone to help you with these challenges, start looking for someone who can, like a full managed services company. Get their challenges taken care of so everyone can get back to work.

Consistent Overwork

While any good employee understands that they may need to put in some extra hours from time to time, make sure you set certain work expectations from the beginning, and hold tight to those expectations. If you do need someone to burn the candle at both ends, at least acknowledge their extra effort.

Not Using Strengths

Each person brings unique skills to the job. Take the time to get to know your employee’s strengths and make sure you’re utilizing them. Granted, everyone is going to have to do their fair share of busy work every once in a while, but the more you can throw them a bone with a task clearly within their zone of passion, the happier they will be.

No Path to Growth

Dead-end jobs lead to zombie employees and a lot of resentment. Make sure you have clear roadmaps in play that drive your employee’s growth and they understand expectations and benchmarks.

In some situations, an employee may just not get along with their boss. Most often, though, the misstep falls amongst one of these nine issues. As such, they are fairly easy to alleviate with the right technology, communication skills, and clear direction driven by the proper managerial motivation.

You’re ready to purchase a BDR. You’ve done all of the research, found a company you’re confident in and are excited to finally have peace of mind. But now you start thinking about exactly what you need to back up. Is all of your data necessary or should you salvage a little server room? All businesses want to back up everything, you never know when you’ll need it. It’s not always necessary to back up everything daily, but there are some you will want to consider.  

 

Depending on what kind of BDR you purchased you will first need to delegate what data is stored, is not stored, and how often. Notice that there are three different kinds of backup in today’s tech world. Those are; straight to cloud services, software-based products, and a hybrid approach that combines on-site hardware and software. By segmenting the market, you can quickly assess which approach will work best. Ideally, you will want to spend money on a company that specialized in a backup. However, keep in mind that the faster the solution is and the more automated, the more expensive it will be.

 

Don’t feel bad if you went a little cheap in order to save money. You can still backup without automation or any third party, you will just need to remain diligent about it. If you are making sure to do a daily backup there are several business items you want to account for each day. First is credit card transactions or receipts. Your accounting software should keep an eye on this and automatically back this data up, but you can never be too sure. This also includes things like invoicing, receivables, payroll and just about anything that is financially related. All financials are incredibly important, even one lost invoice could really hurt your business.  

 

Next, you will want to backup any client files. Anything with hackable data or items that could be compromised need to be backed up daily as well. Not only is it invaluable to keep this information safe, but it would certainly affect your client confidence if anything was lost or stolen. Finally, we must backup any project management software. Anything that your business uses to keep track of daily activities and work being done needs backup. Just like financial software, usually, project management software will also back up and recover items if lost. But once again, that’s a chance you don’t really want to take. Then, of course, it affects communications, so you don’t want to want to maintain a log of communication or “paper trail” as people day. 

 

You want to keep all of these things intact. Not only your precious memories but also the really important stuff that your clients and customers trust from you. Keep these items in mind and you should never have to deal with business killing disaster. 

Backup Disaster Recovery is one of those things that all businesses need to have. A BDR backs up any data during the course of a disaster. Whether it’s a natural disaster such as a tornado, a hardware failure, or even an attack from a hacker. Anyone of these could permanently disable your business if you aren’t prepared or have a proper backup plan. For those of you still backing up data manually on tapes or *cringe* not at all, here are some reasons you need a BDR solution and should stop tuning out potential disasters.

 

First of all, a data disaster is more common than you might think and currently, 58% of SMB’s are not prepared for data loss. Even worse, 60% of SMB’s that lose their data will shut down within six months. Something that could have been prevented could potentially wreck your business. Scary to think about when 29% of hard drive failures are caused by accident. It would be silly to have a human error or a simple mishap put your company out of business.

 

You may have security protocols in place and your employees are well versed on avoiding things like malware. Well done. However, you’re still not protected. Human error is a large culprit in data loss. It could be unintentionally deleting items or accidentally overwriting data, but these “oops” can hit hard. Human error can result in other kinds of hardware damage like spills or even accidental reformatting. All of these things are possible and have happened to many SMB’s before you. Sometimes recovery is possible from the software platform you were using, maybe your computer has your back and caught these things. It’s still a time consuming and money wasting error to fix, even if you are so lucky to recover some of what you lost.

 

Viruses and malware can be a significant cause to software or hardware damage depending on what kind of bug found its way in. Usually, this can be avoided with proper employee training as well as an awesome firewall that will help filter malicious attacks. Yet another prey in the night is social engineering. This is the art of sort of conning people. Hackers have been known to get into server rooms and other data-centric areas of the business. Employees may not even notice their mistake until it’s too late. I guess the “HVAC guy” turned out being a hacker in disguise.

 

Sometimes software corruption can come from unknown viruses lurking around your computer. However, most of the time it is due to improper usage. Things like not shutting down the computer properly or leaving unsaved documents open. Sometimes even a power outage can trigger corruption. Once the software processes are interrupted and damaged, it’s virtually impossible to recover data stored in the software.

 

Did you know that 140,000 hard drives crash every week? With that kind of number, it’s just a matter of time until it happens to you. That is not a comfortable position to be in if you know you don’t have backup. Unfortunately, hard drive corruption is usually due to mechanical issues. Things like age and dust build up can (and will) cause technology to fail. We’ve all used the old laptop we still have, that’s been on its deathbed for months, freezing frequently, taking for-ev-er to load a webpage, and of course, acts as a heater for your lap or desk. All of these things are signs leading to a crash. You may not care if it’s an old hand-me-down laptop from the ’90s. But you will care when it’s your pricey equipment with all of your product data and client information being stored on it.

 

Finally, good old-fashioned acts of God. You can’t necessarily prepare for a natural disaster. Even if you hear the tornado siren, backing up your servers to tape will take longer than it does for the tornado to hit your business. Then what? That tape is left amongst the rubble, destroyed. This may seem like an exaggeration, but it has really happened to businesses. And even if only hypothetical, it makes for a great metaphor for any other crash within your business. This is also proof that on-site BDR’s may not always be the final protective cover to your business. You may want to consider off-site or cloud data storage to ensure protection, so your data is safe even if your equipment is destroyed.

 

Protect your business and keep it running smoothly and successfully. Backup Disaster Recovery options are available for all kinds of SMB’s and their needs. Don’t wait to be taught a lesson by the “big one” (as most California residents say). Protect your important data and enjoy the peace of mind that comes along with it. You’ve worked too hard to get your business where it is, protect your hard work.