Small Business Week – June 2, 2017 – May Job Surge | AI Ups Harley-Davidson NYC Leads 2930% | 4 Mental Tricks of Success

This week, south Florida businesses received good news:  the Tampa Bay Tribune posted that Florida’s economy is the 4th fastest growing in the U.S., and first among large states.

With the advent of summer, the Sun-Sentinel announced that this weekend is when you can purchase ‘tax-free’ hurricane supplies … and, if you’re planning a summer vacation, Fast Company published an article that reveals the ‘Keys to a Restorative Vacation

In Sales & Marketing, Mark Zuckerberg revealed the 5 Strategies He Used to Build Facebook … and, Harvard Business Review posted an article about Harley-Davidson’s New York City store, and how AI helped them improve lead generation by 2930%.

In HR, Risk Management Monitor published the findings of a research study that shows ‘CEOs That Improve Compliance Programs Sleep Better.’

And, in Personal Productivity, Inc.’s Productivity is All About Mastering These 4 Mental Tricks presents the findings of the psychological community about the focus that enables some people to achieve their dreams, while others ‘dabble, but never succeed.’

Here’s to you succeeding in life.  Enjoy your weekend.





As we approach Memorial Day, the president’s new budget has arrived and includes 6 weeks paid parental leave – that story from SHRM.

The Miami Herald reports that South Florida has become the New #1 for Startups in the U.S., passing Austin, Texas, last year’s leader … the Department of Labor is scheduling June 9 as the start date for the agencies’ new Fiduciary rule.  Forbes reports that it’s a rule without consequences at the present time …

Also in HR, SHRM reports that OSHA has Delayed its New Electronic Reporting Rule … and,  the HR Daily Advisor reports that the Supreme Court let stand a rule that requires employers to include ‘opt out’ employee benefit payments as part of overtime pay calculations.  The case involved the city of San Gabriel, California and its overtime compensation to city employees.

In Sales & Marketing, two stories are blog worthy this week: first, Entrepreneur posted a brief video of tips from six highly successful entrepreneurs about ‘Closing the Deal‘; and, Small Business Trends published ‘4 Reasons Why Your Sales Calls Fail‘ – an article that could also be entitled ‘4 Ways to Improve Sales Call Success.’

In Productivity, Inc. contributor Marla Tabaka asks the question, “Are You Too Attached to Your Goals?”  She posits that wisely detaching from them is the 1 Thing (You Can Do) to Immediately Become Happier, Healthier, and More Successful.  Her article does not degrade goal setting, merely encourages a healthier view about the goals we set – an interesting read.

Monday is Memorial Day, the day Americans take time to remember and reflect on the the men (and women) who died defending our freedom. Freedom is never free; it is bought and paid for by those who have given the ultimate sacrifice of their lives defending it.

To all of you, and to your families, we at STAFFLINK express our deepest respect and honor you to you today, and every day.  Yours is a debt none of us can ever repay.

All of us at STAFFLINK salute you.


The Excellent Broward Job Market … Fighting Ransomware … the Death of the Open Office … 5 High Productivity Morning Habits … the Feds Nix Small Business plans … and, the best Video Ad of the Week, ‘Love Story – these are this week’s top Small Business stories.

The Sun-Sentinel reported that 82% of Employers in Broward County are Hiring, but many report having a hard time finding qualified applicants …

Last week, Business Insider published the story about the 22-year old self-taught British man who ‘Saved the World from the Global Malware Virus.’  But most small business owners don’t know that 43% of all cyber attacks are targeted at small organizations.  SHRM’sHow to Protect Yourself from Ransomware‘ provides important information that will help protect your company.  And, Small Business Trends’7 Types of Cyber Attacks Threatening Your Small Business‘ reveals the types of attacks you need to guard against.  STAFFLINK has created a free download that will keep you current on 2017’s Risk Trends, including Cyber Attacks.  Simply click the link above, fill out the very brief form, and download.


In HR, SHRM reported that the Feds Nix Small Business Plans (Obamcare ‘SHOP’ Plans).  The article explains why the government is taking the step, and explains the alternatives being created designed to help small business owners provide better care and benefit from tax incentives …

Inc. published an article about a huge new study that reveals ‘Open Office Floor Plans are Killing Productivity.’  We reported about the death of the open office floor plan in our 2017 HR TRENDS Toolkit.  Expect them slowly to go the way of the retail mall …

In Productivity,  Time Management Ninja published 5 Simple Morning Habits That Increase Productivity – a user-friendly guide with proven recommendations.

Though we like to leave you, as  a rule, with something humorous, interesting and business related, today we’re going to show you the Top Rated International Web Ad of the Week.  This Ad, called ‘Love Story,’ was produced in Spanish by Young and Rubicam for the Mexican market, with English sub-titles.  It’s an important issue about which all parents should be informed, especially here in south Florida.





Small Business Week – May 12 –

Aetna Leaving Obamacare in 2018 … Weebly’s New Approach to Employee Burnout … 7 Cyber Attacks Threatening Your Business … The High Costs of a Bad Hire … and, What You Should Know About the New Comp Time, Overtime Rule – these are the week’s top small business posts.

In the NewsAetna announced it is leaving the Obamacare exchange in 2018 as their financial losses escalate … and, on Friday we witnessed a global cyber attack that affected 99 countries at last count. We told you in our 2017 STAFFLINK HR Trends Toolkit that cyber security is the major risk issue facing business owners this year.  Download a copy for your company – it’s free.  Small Business Trends‘7 Cyber Attacks Threatening Your Business Right Now‘ provides you a practical guide to the kind of attacks facing your company.  Read this article so you can protect yourself.

In HR, two recruiting articles may help you focus more attention on the process you use to attract and retain talent:  SHRM posted ‘The Astronomical Costs of a Bad Hire‘ … and Entrepreneur published ‘5 Hiring Pre-Tests to Help You Make the Right Hire.’  Of course, the best way to insure you hire right is to contact STAFFLINK.  We help companies attract and retain top talent.  Call us at +1(210)495-1171 … SHRM also published the IRS’ New 2018 HSA Limits.

Employee Burnout is becoming a major problem, but companies like Weebly are taking a wanderlust approach to it.  Find out what they are doing to improve engagement in Inc.’s article … and, Entrepreneur’sData-Driven’ Approach to Employee Engagement and Retention reveals research that shows just how important attention to the employee experience is regarding your company’s growth and profitability.

In Leadership, Harvard Business Review posted ‘Level 5 Leadership’ – a classic article that identifies the two paradoxical traits leaders must possess if a company can move from mediocre to great.  The article reveals the findings of a 5 year study on the subject that surprised even its authors.

In Productivity, Inc.’s The 5 Daily Choices the Smartest People Make takes a look decisions and mental approaches that increase your chances to succeed, and lead a higher quality of life.

May 7-13 is ‘Hurricane Preparedness Week.  We provided you a checklist for your company in our linkedin post this week.

In Trends, one of the most popular viral videos in the world this week focused on what humans will look like in 1,000 years … we leave you with the video, and with STAFFLINK’s wishes for a Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers who have invested their lives into the love and nurturing of someone else.

Enjoy your weekend.

Small Business Week – The American Health Care Act | 20 Habits of High Achievers | 8 Exercise Benefits for Your Brain

Today’s May 5 Small Business week features a look at the Obamacare repeal and its replacement, The American Health Care Act … a study about the detrimental effects of managers that don’t praise employees … 8 surprising benefits of exercise on your brain … 20 daily habits high achievers credit with their success … 4 habits that can help you end procrastination … and, some tips to help you avoid illegal unpaid internships.

In the News, President Trump’s efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare got a strong start yesterday as the House passed the American Health Care Act.  Read SHRM’s post to learn how it differs from Obamacare, and what’s next …

In HR,  Entrepreneur published a very helpful article for business owners, The Basics of Employee Benefits, that outlines what’s required, what’s optional, and what’s good policy when it comes to benefit packages.  The article is a great primer.  Contact STAFFLINK if you’re looking to add benefits to your company – we’ll save you time and money … SHRM published a post entitled, Employers: Is Your Unpaid Internship Program Illegal?‘  If you’re considering an internship program, review the article to create a program that will keep you out of trouble … SHRM also posted ‘Past Hiring Checks are Critical to the Hiring Process,’ an article that reveals the what and how of effective background checks.

Harvard Business Review published the findings of a study that reveals ‘Why Managers Avoid Giving Praise.’  The article also reports on the detrimental effects that occur when managers neglect to praise employees … on the positive side, HBR also published ‘How to Be an Inspiring Leader‘ – the findings of a 2,000 person study by consulting giant Bain & Company …

In Personal Productivity, Business Insider’s8 Surprising Ways Exercise Benefits Your Brain‘ takes a look at the many ways exercise improves your emotional well-being – take a look … Inc. published ‘20 Simple Daily Habits High Achievers Credit with Their Success’ … and, Quora posted ‘Harness These 4 Habits to Solve Your Procrastination Problem.’  The post digs into the reasons we procrastinate, and provides some common sense solutions that may make you more productive quickly …

In Trends, Elon Musk delivered an enlightening Ted Talk recently about the future of transportation. You can find a video that shows you his new ‘Boring Company’ project here … and, we’ll close this post with a look at one of the best TV Ads of the week – an Ad from Nespresso, the coffee machine company, that takes a look back in time.

Enjoy Your Weekend.

STAFFLINK Small Business Week – April 28

On May 1 the USCIS begins issuing a new green card … the House moves to pass a great new FLSA OT rule addition … research reveals 7 reasons business owners should exercise in the morning … a new study shows the average income of Americans by age group … and, an article in Inc. poses 5 important questions businessmen and women should consider when faced at a crossroads … this is the week of April 28, 2017.

Business Insider’s Which Jobs are Most Disproportionately Popular in Every State provides readers a map with the name of the occupation.  The map doesn’t show which vocation is most popular, that would be retail sales in all states, only which jobs are  highly popular, and over-represented in comparison to other states.

In HR, the Washington Examiner reports that May 1 is the day President Trump begins issuing a new green card in his effort to help stem illegal immigration … and, SHRM reports that  a great new addition to the FLSA overtime rule, that allows employees to select time rather than pay for overtime compensation, has moved out of committee, and will soon be scheduled for a vote.  Currently, only government employees have that option.

And, Inc. posted new research on the average income by age group in the U.S. – where do you stack up?

Physical activity stimulates the release of hormones to boost your mood, jumpstart your energy, fight stress and more.  Entrepreneur’s 7 Reasons Entrepreneurs Should Start Their Day with Exercise provides findings from several recent studies that can help you improve your health, and work at an optimum level.

In Personal productivity, author Tim Sackett poses the question, “What Are You Doing with Your 30,000 Days?  The article provides a sobering look at the brevity of life, and may inspire you to focus more of that time on what is most important to you …

Are you at a crossroads in your life?  Inc.’s 5 Most Important Questions to Ask Yourself is designed to help you simplify and process of selecting the direction that is best for you.

Enjoy Your Weekend.


April 14 Small Business – United Air Lessons | Selling Yourself | Best Exercise for Over 40 | Flying Ostrich

Are you ready for your taxes?  If not, we’ve included a post that will show you what to do.  This week’s top small business stories: lessons learned from the United Airlines debacle; the secret to successfully selling yourself ; winning business insights from America’s top entrepreneur … and, a new study that revealed the top exercise for longevity and physique … plus, the best ad in the world this week may have you ‘flying high.’

In the News, the United Airlines debacle grew worse as United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz issued more statements. Gizmodo’s article, ‘United CEO Doubles Down‘ shows the evolution of the company’s response in the first couple of days; but, there are key insights for business owners to glean from this story, and’s post, ‘Lessons Learned from a Damage Control Expert on the United Airlines Mess‘ provides a few of the best. Read the story to help prepare your company for any future incidents.

And, it’s tax time.  If you think you may miss the deadline, don’t sweat it. You can read Small Business Trend’s article “What to Do If You Miss the Tax Deadline;’ the post tells you what form to file for an extension, and else you’ll need to do.

In HR, TLNT’s article, Flexibility is More Important to Employees Than Almost Anything Else provides some background and tips that may be helpful in improving employee engagement and retention.

In Sales & Marketing, Inc.’s ‘The Surprising Trick to Selling Yourself‘ provides insights about the most effective mental approach to building a successful sales and marketing strategy – recommended.

In Leadership, the United Airlines story isn’t the only one generating valuable lessons for company leaders; Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, wrote a letter to his company in which he answered a question about the company’s future direction.  His post, one of the most popular this week, contains advice for a ‘Winning Business Strategy.’ Bezos should know. Amazon now generates more revenue than WalMart, Google and most of the top brands in America … and, Great Leadership’s post, ‘What Makes a Great Leader’ contains wisdom that can help executives focus and make better use of their time.

In Productivity, there were two exceptional stories this week that can help you improve your health, mood, and longevity.  Inc.’s ‘How What You Eat Alters Your Mood‘ cites recent research from an Australian University study that found strong correlations between the types of food one eats, mood, and overall mental health … and, Lifehacker’s post ‘Interval Training Helps Slow Down the Aging Process‘ presents research recently published in the journal, Cell Metabolism, that found strong links between high intensity interval workouts, overall health and longevity.  The correlations and improvements were especially strong for older participants.  HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) also rated highest for improving one’s physique … Want better sleep?  Entrepreneur’s 12 Habits Dramatically Improve Your Sleep will give you helpful recommendations.

In Trends & Technology, AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) are disruptive technologies having a profound impact on business and culture: by 2020, it is estimated to be a 120 billion dollar business.  Do you know the difference between the two?  Augment’s Virtual Realty v. Augmented Reality is a user-friendly primer that will bring you up to speed so you can understand how these technologies differ … the flying car is officially open for business and taking pre-orders.  Fossbytes reports that Slovakian company, AeroMobil, is launching its its flying car on April 20th at the Monte Carlo Supercar Show.  You can learn more by visiting the Aeromobil site, or pre-order your own flying car for a cool $400,00.

Speaking of AR & VR, the top ad this week features an Ostrich being introduced to virtual reality – a discovery that leaves the rest of his flock with their head’s in the sand, so to speak.

Enjoy the ad, and your weekend.

April 7 – SMALL BUSINESS WEEK – Leadership Gap | 6 Sales Tips | Best Time to Exercise

A new Supreme Court justice; a raid on a Syrian airbase; and, the lowest unemployment figures since 2007 – the week of April 7th.

In HR, the Department of Labor  Delayed the Fiduciary Rule … and, SHRM reports that ‘Small Businesses Find I-9 Paperwork Burdensome,’ and that 75% make mistakes on the forms … the Department of Labor is seeking to Help Small Businesses Start Retirement Plans … President Trump has renewed his interest in repealing and replacing Obamacare, and began holding meetings again with the various factions of the Republican party earlier this week …

Recruiting was the focus of several articles this week … Inc. posted ‘4 Behavioral Questions‘ that uncover what a candidate is truly like … SHRM posted an article, ‘Recruitment Marketing No Longer Trendy, but a Necessity,’ that reveals some of the practices now necessary to secure top talent … and, SHRM also posted ‘New Hire Retention a Problem for 90% of Employers‘ – a post that details the difficulty many employers have keeping new recruits.  The article also offers a few tips that can help you avoid the problem.

You can learn about 2017’s recruiting trends, and pick up tips from the best companies, by downloading our 2017 HR TRENDS Toolkit – simply click the link, fill out the two-line form, and DOWNLOAD!

In Sales & Marketing, Entrepreneur’s 6 Sales Tips Every Entrepreneur Should Follow contains advice and insights that can keep you and your sales team focused and productive.

In Productivity, Inc.’s Lolly Daskal recently published a book that details the differences between leaders who succeed; and, those that don’t.  Her article, ‘The Leadership Gap,’ shared findings about the 7 major leadership types and the things that helped individuals with those leadership styles succeed … Also in Inc., Jeff Haden published our highest rated post this week, ‘The Best Time to Exercise for Maximum Weight Loss and Mood Benefits.‘  The article reveals the results of a recent research study in Belgium that tracked individuals who were asked to increase their food intake by 30%, and their fat intake by 50%.  They then tracked people who worked out, didn’t work out, and who worked out at specific times of day.  The results will probably cause you to change the time of day you exercise … and, you can find some helpful tips on improving your mindset in Inc.’s article, ’13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do.’

In Trends, the New York Times reports on the U.S. jobs war between robots and citizens in ‘Evidence Robots are Winning the Race for American Jobs.’ But, the Times also posted How to Beat the Robots  – strategy for enabling humans to benefit from automation, and insure long-term job viability.   Both articles provide insightful evidence that automation is coming to most corners of the American economy.

We leave you with one of the world’s best TV ads this week from the Leo Burnett Agency in North Africa and the Middle East.  Their ‘Two for One Campaign’ for DU Telecomm was designed to encourage moviegoers to bring a friend; and, their humorous new ad, ‘The Man Sitting Next to You’ gets viewers to understand the potential benefits of attending movies with someone they know – and trust.  The campaign was developed primarily for mobile – one of this year’s biggest trends.

Enjoy the Ad, and your weekend.

Week’s Best – March 24 – Ryan Withdraws Healthcare Bill – 2017 HR Trends – 10 Top Interview Mistakes

As we pass the end of month two in the Trump administration, the Trump administration suffered a legislative defeat on its Obamacare bill replacement; but, there is good news on the economic front.

The fate of Obamacare was to be decided today, but President Trump and Speaker Ryan did not drum up enough votes to pass the American Healthcare Act; instead they withdrew the bill.  Ryan says we’ll have to live with Obamacare for the short-term – Reuters has the story.

Economically, SHRM reports ‘Job Cuts are Down 40% Year Over Year‘; and, at the same time, Business Insider reports that the Gallup organization finds Economic Optimism is at Its Highest Level in 9 Years.  Inc. also reports a 9-Year High in Economic Optimism Among Business Leaders.

SPECIAL EXCLUSIVE:  STAFFLINK has published a great, free resource for small and mid-size companies called THE 2017 HR TRENDS Toolkit.  You can receive a free copy by clicking this FREE DOWNLOAD link.  The Toolkit provides you all the latest HR changes and trends you should know about this year; it is user-friendly, and also contains free resources.


The 2017 HR TRENDS Toolkit covers;

  • Recruiting & Hiring

  • Employee Benefits

  • Compliance

  • Risk

  • Employee Engagement

Get Your FREE COPY and keep it on hand.

In HR, Inc. posted an article about The 10 Most Common Job Interview Mistakes.  The post provides advice on what ‘to do’ instead … and, Inc.’s Marcel Schwantes’ believes The Job Interview Will Soon Be Dead; find out why, and what is replacing it in his post … and, a controversial new bill has been introduced that appears to mandate ‘genetic testing’ of employees – is that true?  SHRM provides the details.

In Productivity, 7 Ways to Use Data Analytics to Grow Your Company is a helpful review of a small business case study.  The article makes data science a little more practical, and less nebulous.

In Tech & Trends, Business Insider published The Retail Apocalypse Has Officially Descended Upon America – a revealing look at the slow death spiral of American malls and retail chains … and Apple unveiled its new iPhone 7 – in red.  You can read and watch one of the better reviews here in The Verge.

Enjoy Your Weekend.

2017’s Real Keys to Employee Engagement

Chapter 5


Employee Engagement is the focus in 2017 for small and mid-sized companies.  The tight job market, new hiring, and the cost of losing top talent – roughly half their annual salary – has companies focused on retaining their best people. But, per Gallup’s new 2017 ‘State of the American Workforce’ report, only 33% of American workers are engaged; 47% of employees say now is a good time to find a quality job; and, 51% are actively searching for new jobs or watching for openings. 91% of those that find new jobs find them at another company.

Part of the problem is that old ways of hiring and managing are less effective today.

This Post is one chapter in our new 2017 HR TRENDS Toolkit – 40 pages of Trends, Tips & Findings on Recruiting, Benefits, Compliance Issues, Risk & Employee Engagement.


Fill Out the Form Below, and Download Your FREE COPY!  

Millennials, who will soon make up more than half the employment workforce, approach a role with a highly define set of expectations: they want their work to have meaning and purpose; they want frequent communication with their manager, development opportunities, flexibility and autonomy, coaching, and a sense of stability and security.

But that’s not what’s happening; thus, turnover is high, and employee engagement low. Employees are not motivated to perform to their full potential. Per the Gallup study, there are three major reasons for this apathy: unclear and misaligned expectations; inactive and infrequent feedback; and, unfair evaluation practices and misplaced accountability.

Regarding feedback, only 23% of employees strongly agree their managers provide helpful feedback. On evaluation practices, only 30% say their managers include them when setting goals, or even understand their strengths.

But retaining talent is not the only reason to improve Employee Engagement. Higher workplace engagement leads to 37% lower absenteeism, 41% fewer safety incidents, and 41% fewer quality defects. Organizations that have over 50% Employee Engagement keep 80% of their customers – an 18% improvement. Highly engaged employees can increase profits $2,400 per employee, per year. And, regarding retention, high engagement business units achieve 59% less turnover.


Employee engagement is the new focus in 2017. Managers, per the Gallup study, need to approach their role as ‘coaches,’ rather than ‘bosses.’ The rewards are significant; the consequences of not adapting are too.

Pay is important, but it is not among the top three drivers of Employee Engagement.

A study in a recent Glassdoor Survey revealed that when selecting a job, salary and benefits are important, but that the most important consideration is company culture; and, salary does not even rank in the top 3 when it comes to employee engagement.

In contrast, culture and values, career opportunities, and trust in senior leadership are the biggest drivers of long-term employee satisfaction. What is culture? Glassdoor described it this way:

An employer’s culture and values rating probably represents a combination of factors that contribute to overall well-being such as company morale, employee recognition, and transparency within the organization.

I think you could add career advancement opportunities to that definition.

Companies with the best engagement scores get it. They treat their employees well, provide great benefits and promotional opportunities, and provide an outstanding company culture.

The Glassdoor survey revealed the Top 50 Best Companies work for, according to employees. Delta Airlines ranked 21 on the survey, and one of their employees described their experience this way, “Delta is in a fast-paced industry, and treats employees well, provides good compensation and great benefits … a diverse work environment and everyone loves to travel. Good opportunities to advance.”

Similar comments were made about all the companies in Business Insider’s top 50. But this quote from an associate analyst at Southwest Airlines, #28 on the list, sums up what sets these companies apart:

Great flight benefits, amazing 401K matching, many insurance options, and a great company culture. You can tell they really value their employees.

 The focus on company culture and career advancement opportunities confirm a recent Korn Ferry research study that showed nearly two-thirds of respondents would prefer to get a promotion with no salary increase than a salary increase with no promotion.

The focus on employee engagement is causing a shift in some company spending, too.  Kraft Foods had been buying national ads on the Super Bowl for several years. This year, Kraft decided to abandon their Super Bowl Ad, and put that money into a ‘paid day off’ for their employees.


Career advancement opportunities and great benefits both contribute to an attractive company culture. But one of the findings of Gallup’s State of the American Workplace study reveals the primary role of management in engagement. The report confirms the modern proverb, ‘people don’t quit jobs, they quit managers.’

Most people become managers because they’re great at a core skill – sales, marketing, coding, and so on. It usually isn’t because they’re great leaders. But leaders are necessary for an engaged workforce. The Gallup study found that employees who are supervised by highly engaged managers are 59% more likely to be engaged themselves. The study also found that 80% of those dissatisfied with their managers are also disengaged from their employers; and, 50% of adults have left their job to get away from their manager.  Conversely, employees who believe their managers can name their strengths are 71% more likely to feel engaged and energized, and 67% of employees who strongly agree that their manager focuses on their strength or positive characteristics are highly engaged.

The importance of managers to employee engagement and profitability is so important, per HR guru Tim Sackett, that he thinks it is time to ‘adjust the rules.’ In a recent post for Inc., Sackett lists ‘free fixes’ to develop better employee retention. At the top of his list is “fire the manager with the lowest retention rate.’  Per Sackett:

You have the data and you know who is turning people over. Your organization needs to send a message that managers, not HR and not the CEO, are responsible for retaining talent. This has to be the first step! Your leaders must have a clear understanding it is their job to retain their employees, and it’s your job to hold them accountable for it.

How can you evaluate the effectiveness of management and employee engagement practices at your company? The Gallup study created 12 specific questions for their survey. These questions provide insight into what constitutes effective leadership and an engaged workforce.

  • I know what is expected of me at work
  • I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
  • At work, I have opportunity to do what I do best every day.
  • In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
  • My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
  • There is someone at work who encourages my development.
  • At work, my opinions seem to count.
  • The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.
  • My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.
  • I have a best friend at work.
  • In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.
  • This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.

Gallup describes this need for actively involved leader-managers as those who see their role not as ‘bosses’ and ‘task masters,’ but as ‘coaches’ who are actively engaged in helping employees improve their performance through constant, positive feedback and collaboration, with a view toward future performance.

As one writer put it, “Managers leave accomplishments; leaders leave people transformed through love and character.”


Companies have tried several different things to increase engagement and retention, but not all of them work. Before we get to those that do, we’ll take a moment to review a few trends informed companies are phasing out.

Junk Food

In our chapter on ‘Employee Benefits,’ we mentioned that free food and entrees can save employees time and improve productivity. But some companies are abandoning ‘junk food’ because it contributes to reduced productivity, tiredness, and late morning and afternoon ‘blahs.’

Unlimited Time Off

Unlimited time off is a recent trend touted in business publications the past few years, but studies show that this benefit is harming employees because they do not know how much time is truly ‘OK’ with senior management; and, they can’t decide what to do with the unlimited possibilities.  Thus, they are taking less time than before UTO policies, and experiencing lower levels of productivity and higher levels of burnout.

Kickstarter is one company that experienced this problem. As a result, they amended their policy to allow 25 days of paid leave – a substantial improvement over the standard two weeks. They now report employees are taking more time off, and coming back refreshed – the goal.

Closing the Open Office

Perhaps the ‘worst’ idea for improved engagement has been open offices. Studies show that 77% of employees prefer quiet when they need to focus, and 69% are dissatisfied with noise levels at their primary workspace. Studies reveal workers are up to 66% less productive when exposed to just one nearby conversation.

The European Union has also found open offices to be a costly business. They commissioned a study that found lost working days, healthcare costs, impaired learning and reduced productivity from open office environments cost European businesses about 52 billion dollars (US) annually. Buried within that figure are lots of sick days.

Workers in open-plan office spaces take 70% more sick days than home workers. And, the Gallup study found that 41% of employees would change jobs to have a door they could shut.

As far as employee engagement, open offices are one thing companies should consider jettisoning in 2017.


Beyond the importance of leader-managers, there are several Employee Engagement ideas practices proving valuable: flexible schedules, adjustable benefits, employee development programs, paid time off, and genuine praise are some of the most significant. And you can expect the best companies to utilize some of these strategies in 2017.

Flexible Schedules

Flexible schedules are the #1 preference among millennials, and 51% say they would change jobs for this benefit. The ability to leave early for a child’s game or activity and make up that time somewhere else is highly desired by this demographic with children. If you can run your business in a way that allows for flexible work schedules, you have a talent advantage.

If you can’t, you’ll soon be fighting for talent that is second-tier.

Adjustable Benefits Packages

Due to wild growth in employee benefits, the best companies have better opportunities to create ‘customizable’ benefits, where an employee selects benefits from a ‘pool’ that work best for his or her situation. This approach usually comes with a budget, so it is not a costly benefit.

Paid Time Off (PTO)

Companies that can improve on the customary 2 weeks of paid time off are at a strong advantage in this year’s recruiting wars. AirBnB, considered by some to have the best benefits package in the U.S., provides their employees a month of paid time off to travel anywhere in the world. Paid time off is one of the most important benefits to millennials, and you can expect the better companies to increase it to lure the best talent.

Genuine Praise and Recognition

Take notice of this one. This can be powerful, yet inexpensive. Across the entire spectrum of employee demographics, praise and recognition are two important elements in good company culture and high employee engagement.

A Harvard Business Review article revealed that a study of 60 strategic business unit leadership teams found that teams with the greatest number of positive interactions had significantly higher scores in financial performance, customer satisfaction ratings, and feedback ratings from team members. The average ratio for the highest-performing teams was 5.6 positive comments to every negative comment; medium performing teams averaged 1.9 positive comments to every negative comment; and, the lowest performing teams averaged one positive comment to every three negative comments.

Companies that focus on positive, encouraging interactions and training for managers will retain their employees to a greater degree, and experience higher engagement.


The importance of autonomy in company culture, employee engagement, productivity, and overall well-being is receiving greater visibility in 2017. A recent post in Inc. cited two studies showing that autonomy is the most important key to personal happiness, and employee productivity.

An article in Fistful of Talent revealed that autonomy, more than anything else, improves engagement. Per the author, “Asking employees the question, ““How much control do you want over what you do every day?is guaranteed to ‘blow up’ your engagement scores.

Think about it, owners, managers, and entrepreneurs have the highest engagement because they have the most ‘control.’  Yet, in difficult times many managers ‘micro-manage’ to get the result they want. Studies, however, show the key to engagement is to provide employees greater control. One study found an association between “high levels of perceived control with high levels of job satisfaction, commitment, involvement, performance and motivation, and low levels of physical symptoms, emotional distress, absenteeism, intent to turnover, and actual turnover.”

A University of Michigan study found an association between “autonomy and high levels of job satisfaction and organizational commitment, lower turnover, increased performance, increased effectiveness, and increased motivation … When employees are genuinely empowered, they’re more likely to act, work independently, and still feel fulfilled by what they do.”

Autonomy, company culture, flexible work schedules, and leader-managers that coach are the  leading Employee Engagement trends in 2017.

Performance Reviews

In recent years, there has been a movement to abandon performance reviews. But research shows that eliminating performance reviews reduces employee productivity by as much as 10%. The key to effective reviews, says the literature, is changing ‘how’ they are conducted.

The 2017 Gallup State of the American Workplace report identifies three changes that improve the effectiveness of performance reviews: greater frequency throughout the year (at least twice); a greater focus on the future than on the past; and, the inclusion of ‘peer’ reviews because peers understand the work and challenges of their co-workers.


Autonomy, company culture, flexible scheduling, career growth opportunities, genuine praise, and managers that work as coaches rather than top-down bosses, are the keys to employee engagement, and the trends one finds among the best companies in 2017.

Managers hold the key to the door of improved employee engagement. Rather than viewing employees as hired, replaceable help, engagement grows as managers invest and coach employees.

An earlier quotes sums it up well, “Managers leave accomplishments; leaders leave people transformed through love and character.”


STAFFLINK is a PEO (Professional Employer Organization) that helps small and mid-size companies:

Recruit, Train and Retain Top Talent

Create Fortune 500 Benefits Packages

Prevent Compliance Issues

Minimize Risk

Improve Employee Productivity

Call me, Abram Finkelstein, President, at 1-877-899-LINK if you have HR questions, or would like to know how we can save you time, and help grow your company.