All entries for October 2014

The Healthy Schools Project

The importance of sanitation in schools is obvious. Given the current threat of a contagious virus, school authorities are on especially high alert to boost sanitation procedures and ensure student safety. The Kimberly-Clark Professional Healthy Schools Project gave education facility managers and directors insight into how to manage during their workshop at the Education Facilities Management Forum in Chicago, IL. 

Andrea Burich led the workshop filled with guests from James Korfas of ISS and Jessica Holloway from Malcolm X College. She pointed out that the common cold costs Americans more than 189 million school days a year, almost $14.5 billion in lost productivity - the Healthy Schools Project aims to save schools money, time, productivity and to maintain the health of students.

The dirtiest places in an education facility are the door handles and shared water fountains. While most schools have protocols in place to reduce the spreading of germs - like regular wipe downs - the Healthy Schools Project has implemented a plan that places hand sanitizer at key hot spots, making cleanliness easily accessible. By combining the placement of sanitation projects with hygiene programs in schools, the Healthy Schools Project has reduced germs by 51% at the elementary level and 43% at the university level.

The project pairs hygiene programs with sanitation projects and marketing that enhances school image. Using posters and signage throughout facilities, the project raises awareness and reminds student to protect themselves in high-germ environments.

Offering certified green products, Kimberly-Clark Professional works one-on-one with schools to develop a plan that is personalized to the school's needs and budgets.

ACA Open Enrollment Tips for the Busy Executive

With horror stories from last year’s enrollment, the start of open enrollment on November 15th sounds especially daunting. For those of you who are busy working and don’t have time to waste working your way through the kinks in the website – here are a few tips:

Calendar: The open enrollment period for the Health Insurance Marketplace begins November 15th, 2014 and ends February 15th, 2015.

Save Your Registration for a Weekday: If you plan to register online at, beware that the website will not run at full capacity on the weekends. IT departments will be performing routine maintenance and upgrades to the site during this time. This will prevent you from creating accounts, upload documents or apply for coverage.

Call in for Help!: While the website is at high-use, you can call into a Marketplace call center any time, 24/7 at 1(800) 318-2596 or (TTY) 1(855) 889-4325. Beware though, the average call wait is 35 minutes.

Don’t Underestimate for a Lower Price: By missing a zero off of your income or slightly skewing your earnings, you may be setting yourself up for a shock come the 2016 tax season. Subsidies that help people buy coverage are tax credits for the upcoming 2015 tax year.

Avoid Stickershock:  Prepare for a hike in rates this year. Several carriers nationwide are reporting rate increased from 7.5% to 19%. Before switching your carrier, double check with your doctor to make sure your care won’t change.

Featured Speaker: Rants & Raves

Are You Sure ... Your Contact Center is Valued Across the Enterprise? 
By Guest Speaker, Kathleen Peterson of PowerHouse Consulting

There was a time when the Call Center was considered a backroom operation, a cost center that dealt with Customer Service issues. However, today's Contact Center has become the focus of many enterprise initiatives. The Contact Center's cost, the volume of contacts, the potential for revenue, the importance of customer relationships, the Customer Experience, and the changing marketplace all have played a role in altering the enterprise view of the Contact Center. Management must be prepared to respond to these changes and build value-based relationships with others across the enterprise.

The Contact Center is not a stand-alone unit. Every organization has a Customer Contact Continuum. Whether acknowledged or not, it exists. The Contact Center is really part of that continuum, impacted by many activities that reach well beyond the Center.
Consider this assignment. Conduct a brown bag - assemble managers, supervisors, and staff. Wrap the room in paper, get your markers out, and start asking questions. Where do our contacts come from? What is the cause of the call? (This exercise works for all channels.) Where does the work we do go from here? How do we impact others? What revenue generating opportunities and cost considerations exist in our relationships?
This exercise will yield a visual of the Customer Contact Continuum. Once the visual is created, take a step back and assess your current relationships and your visibility. How do others within the enterprise view the Contact Center - as a valuable asset or as a backroom and factory-like operation? Do we get what we need? What improvements would happen if our relationships improved? How would cost and revenue be impacted? What do we have to offer to others? How can we help ourselves and others improve?
The point is that Contact Centers must manage their visibility to influence their value.  

Today's Contact Centers have some genuine currency with which to barter for their visibility - information. Information is currency in this digital age and Contact Centers are a pure source of it. The number of contact hours often amounts to years of exposure to customers annually! What we learn from this and how we mine for information has the potential to assist every part of the enterprise in improving performance. The Center must begin to view data collection as part of its value proposition to others. Data about the customer, about product performance, policies, procedures, and every other conceivable aspect of the contact must be as important a focus as service level and abandon rates. Let's face it. Contact Center-specific metrics are barely understood within the Contact Center - let alone outside of it.  

If it is important to work together across the Customer Contact Continuum, it is important to understand the value and benefit of forming strong relationships. The Contact Center possesses great knowledge regarding many aspects of the enterprise. Formalizing the sharing of this intelligence is the basis of the Contact Center's value proposition. The more value we are perceived to possess, the more potent our visibility.  

As an example, I have heard many Contact Center staff complain about how Marketing doesn't provide needed information, etc. You've heard the stories and have possibly told the stories. There is an almost victim-like acceptance of these behaviors. But we must step back and think. Is this really a Marketing issue? Do they have real benefit in ruining us? Are they plotting the demise of the Contact Center this very minute? I doubt it. The reality is that other departments don't even think about the Contact Center - it is not even on the radar screen. Marketing may simply see the Contact Center as a factory floor, a place where production takes place. And we fuel that view by proudly reporting pure production numbers.  

The shift in relationship must be driven by a shift in visibility. Continuing with our Marketing example ... the Contact Center has daily customer contacts that when properly analyzed help to identify effective (and non-effective) offers, campaigns, or promotions. Compiling information to deliver to other departments around product performance, a service, a price, or a procedure helps make all departments improve performance within the enterprise. This also satisfies the quid pro quo. When we want to receive information, offering valuable information provides something valuable in return.

The change must come (in part) via the data we collect - what we find important and what will add value. Acknowledging the continuum is one step. Identifying specific contact information in a manner that makes information sharing easy is another. If you have Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) functionally, your task may be easier (assuming your reporting package is friendly).  

Not all Contact Centers are so equipped. But if you have people, you have experience. Begin using any means necessary to capture important transaction type information to begin building your value proposition. As an example, many Contact Centers lacking sophisticated CRM and CTI applications have very good Call Recording and Call Monitoring systems. These systems are still grossly underutilized as data-gathering tools. Create call type and customer corner fields on your form; invest in getting your forms in a database if your system doesn't already offer that and begin to gather information on customer responses to products and services. Believe me, shipping a couple of sound bytes to Marketing on the success or failure of an activity in your Customer's Own Words is a true winner. While the sample size may be small, it is very compelling evidence and a great way to demonstrate the value the Contact Center can bring to partners along the Customer Contact Continuum. 

Think about how the Contact Center can add value to other departments - Fulfillment, Operations, Manufacturing, Research and Development, Human Resources, Technology, Training, Finance, Legal, and Executives - any group identified within your continuum. It is likely there are improvement opportunities that can reduce cost, enhance the Customer Experience, improve revenue opportunities, reduce exposure to possible legal issues, etc. The list goes on and on, but the mining of information must be an activity of primary importance. It is the currency with which to barter for the Contact Center's visibility and its value.

Take time to review the Customer Contact Continuum, your relationships, your data, and your visibility. Plan a course of action and begin taking steps to systematically improve the value of your Contact Center across the enterprise. It is time for a value upgrade, a method to influence how others see you and how they see their role within the continuum.

"The value of achievement lies in achieving". Albert Einstein

My Best,                                                                                                 


Kathleen Peterson will host a seminar on Backstage at the Customer Experience at the upcoming Contact Center Summit at the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota on November 17-18, 2014. Kathleen is the Founder and Chief Vision Officer of PowerHouse Consulting.

HR& Employee Benefits Partners With Training & Development Summit for 2015 Seminar Topics

Seminar (Shortlist) Schedule 2015
Training & Development Summit
HR & Employee Benefits Summit 

Your complimentary attendance at either the Training & Development Summit or HR & Employee Benefits Summit includes attendance at the following seminars (more to come). Our 2015 lineup features industry-specific topics for decision-makers in the field. For more information on the events and to register, click on the event logo below:


Training & Development as a Business Strategy

The Formula for Improving Engagement Scores: Case Study
of 3 Amazing Recoveries

Hot Topic Alert!: Coaching the Coaches:
What do our supervisors really need to direct performance?

Motivating employees on a shrinking budget

Creating a Compelling Vision that mobilizes your employees to
fulfill your Mission!

Centering your organization on what matters most

Why wellness lacks results and a radical new perspective
on creating health outcomes

Too Busy Working IN the Business to Work ON It?

What is Engagement anyway?

Why Participation is so low in wellness efforts and how
to invest your dollars more wisely

The role of HR when morale, engagement and satisfaction are low

Development of the HR Professional:
Lessons from an Executive Coach  

Tips for Top Talent Management

Fostering talent can be one of the largest investments for any business. Implementing a talent management strategy is important for developing future leaders and instilling company goals and growth. Below are several tips for developing a healthy talent management process.

1. Know Your Talent
Identify and get to k now your top performers. Encourage open communication and pay attention to new milestones. Be aware of your competitors, chances are if you appreciate your top talent, someone else will too.

2. Value Your Top Performers
Make sure your top performers know how much they are valued. According to a 2010 study by Charan and Conaty, great talent managers are not just familiar with people, but know them intimately. One company implemented a ‘talking talent toolkit.’  Using this tool, managers were able to distinguish between a ‘performance conversation’ and a ‘talent conversation,’ providing a practical way for managers to understand employee’s aspirations and desires.

3. Keep Your Top Performers in the Know
Do your top performers understand companywide goals? Do they know the realities of your business strategy? It’s important to get your integral players involved with company growth and development. Make sure your top performers are privy to goals and are in the position to reach company objectives.

 4. Assessing the Workforce
A traditional talent strategy can develop reliable talent – but sometimes, unique and unforeseen talent develops leaders. Many companies are now turning to research to better understand suitable candidates. Thomas Reuters has turned to research to identify attributes of a top leader. They have conducted internal and external research to identify the traits of future leaders – one new characteristic relates specifically to an individual’s capacity to interact with technology.

5. Respect Diversity
Nurture the talent all individuals. It is important to identify groups that may be underrepresented and to nurture them to reach their full ability. It is crucial to develop training that helps people excel and participate as an optimum player in the workforce.

Define Your Talent Management Approach

Talent management, talent strategy, HR planning – whatever you want to call it, talent management is a taboo for many businesses and yet a vital process for hiring and nurturing leaders. In a study by Bersin, when businesses were asked to define talent management, 80% classified it as leadership development, 78% as recruiting, 76% as training and development, 74% as performance management, 72% as succession planning, 67% as management training, 58% as workforce planning and 42% compensation.

Below is a breakdown of the various, most popular talent management processes:

Progressive HR: Consider this traditional Human Resources with a twist. Progressive HR fulfills the role of the average HR team, and yet extends into the investment of employees. A progressive HR process believes performance and employee value is critical for business success.

e-HR: We’re talking technological HR. This form of talent management integrates an IT system. In doing so, human resource departments are able to streamline the recruitment process. This form of HR develops an analytical system to better understand talent. For example, Pepsi Americas – one of Pepsi’s major bottlers, requires initiative on all levels. If one of the company’s representatives realize a store is close to a University, they must understand the product placement needs and stock that store with high-caffeine drinks to suit the demands of students and exams. The truck driver who delivers and stocks the shelves at that store, must be able to talk to the store owners about this decision and therefore requires developed social skills. Using an integrated system, HR departments are able to streamline the requirements for new recruits throughout the entire company. Using this system allows connections between job roles to form to better predict a hiring investment in the early stages.

Supply and Demand: Whether it depends on short or long-term goals, this process requires identifying needs, and then recruiting new staff members to fulfill those needs. This is a simple form of talent management and does not take into account the further needs of a company, occasionally creating talent gaps in the workplace. To lower that risk – consider focusing on workforce planning and a succession strategy, rather than just filling seats.

Recruitment: Considered the most popular form of talent management, recruitment requires a rebranding of the hiring process. Under this category, “talent managers” are basically recruiters and they streamline the management principles to develop a hiring ‘flow.’ In this scenario – talent is usually defined in reference to key roles.

Development: This strategy focuses on training and growing talent through new learning processes. This strategy identifies people’s skills and then builds on them. Focusing on strengths, development leverages abilities and pushes employees to their full potential. The focus in this aspect is people rather than job roles – developing leaders rather than employees.

Engagement and Retention: Employee engagement is critical for any workforce – not only does it lead to a healthy, well-rounded environment, but it also creates feedback and a common cause. Communication throughout all levels of a company allows for informed decisions and better understanding. This form of talent management focuses on goals and the journey to reach them using communication as a key tool. This strategy focuses on putting key people into key roles.

By identifying the role or process that suits you and your company’s needs, you will be able to better understand the role of a recruiter and establish a strategy for hiring and retaining top talent.

Surviving an Appointment-Based Event Alone

“Even high achieving, apparently extrovert people find it difficult to get into the habit of initiating face-to-face encounters, often using time poverty as an avoidant excuse.”

The thought of attending a conference alone can be daunting. When you add up the pressure of making introductions, hearing pitches, walking through thousands of busy booths and collecting business cards, these events can be exhausting. The need to network is a vital part of business though, yet one in four professionals say they do not network at all, even worse 40 percent of professionals say they would like to network more often, but just don’t have the time. Attending an appointment-based event is the perfect solution to concisely meeting with relevant providers, concentrating up to 30-meetings in just a-day-and-a-half – better yet, there’s no hard sell and no awkward introductions.

Attending an appointment-based event by yourself is simple. Unlike a typical trade show, you are given a pre-arranged itinerary of meetings. Everyone has a reason to be at the event and to meet with you, making all of your appointments relevant and meaningful. Here are some tips to survive attending an appointment-based event alone

1. Be honest when completing your profile

The most crucial step to organizing a Forum is the matching process. In order to ensure everyone has a productive event, the matching process takes into account any upcoming projects or needed-services. This information is used to connect you with solution providers who can actually assist you in meeting your company’s goals. An honest profile means more beneficial meetings and better expert advice.

2. Manners Cost Nothing

At an appointment-based event, you don’t have to worry about the anxiety that surrounds making an introduction. Everyone has a place to be at a Forum, and so each person’s time is valuable – it’s as simple as meeting with someone in your scheduled time and having a conversation. Remember to be polite and courteous, have a real conversation and make a valuable connection.

3. Be Open When Meeting Your Peers

Part of the fun with appointment-based events is the networking activities that separate the full days of meetings. During the networking breakfasts, lunches, the Gala dinner and casino evening, you will casually meet peers from your industry. Be open to hearing about their company and their suggestions. Every piece of knowledge is up for grabs at an appointment-based event and a connection could turn into an opportunity down the road.

4. Navigate the Room

Throughout the two days, you will meet hundreds of attendees. To make the most of an appointment-based event, challenge yourself by separating from your typical group and meet with new professionals. A good example is sitting at a dinner table where you know no one and initiating a conversation, or adding to a topic at a seminar. Be friendly, be open and be approachable.

5. The Staff are Your Best Friends

Every member of the Forum Events team is dedicated to making the attendees feel at home. If you ever feel you are out of your comfort zone, or want to make a connection that you are not scheduled for – don’t hesitate to let a staff member know. Throughout the networking activities, staff will be seated and mingling also, so if you have any questions – be sure to ask.

By scheduling up to 30 appointments over a-day-and-a-half, we eliminate the adversity to time excuse for not networking. The concentrated appointment-based strategy for connecting professionals provides opportunity for expanded knowledge, new business and potential career advancement, all in an intimate and informal setting, perfect for a lone ranger to attend.




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