WorkAnswers https://workanswers.com Everything You Need to Build a Better Business Wed, 08 Jul 2020 17:37:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 https://workanswers.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/cropped-WAlogoarrow-32x32.png WorkAnswers https://workanswers.com 32 32 July 8, 2020: 4 Critical Reasons Why Small Businesses Should Revisit IT Security Now https://workanswers.com/protectmybiz/ Wed, 08 Jul 2020 08:00:17 +0000 https://workanswers.com/?p=6390 How should small business leaders think about mitigating information security risk—and with all that’s going on in our pandemic world, why now? It’s a tough problem. Between reports of hackers […]

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How should small business leaders think about mitigating information security risk—and with all that’s going on in our pandemic world, why now?

It’s a tough problem. Between reports of hackers breaching the networks of even large multinational corporations with staggering resources, the technical complexity of shoring up your defenses, and the high cost of tools that facilitate the process, it can be tempting to conclude that all you can reasonably do is ask IT to keep the virus protection up-to-date and cross your fingers.

However, I want to make a case here for devoting more executive attention and more organizational resources—both people hours and funding—to information security, even in a small business. Here’s why:

  1. The financial and reputational cost of even one security incident—particularly a data breach—can be devastating.

When most small business owners think of the consequences of a hack, they may envision a ransomware incident, which are lamentably common, particularly in the small-to-medium sized business space. Those are damaging enough in their own right: a February article in the NYT reported that in the last quarter of 2019, average ransomware payouts spiked to $84,116. This does not include the cost of lost operational capacity, legal or forensic investigation expenses to resolve the incident, or beefing up security after the fact.

However, an even more damaging type of attack involves hackers not encrypting your data for ransom, but rather stealing it and selling it on the dark web. When this exposes the personal information of your customers and others, you then bear the costs of notifying them and, as required by law in many states, paying for credit monitoring services of the affected parties. The average cost of this process is $150 per record, meaning that the immediate financial toll could be in the millions. And that is before accounting for the lost business resulting from the loss of public trust. This is a major hit for even the biggest organizations to absorb. For a small business, it would likely be unrecoverable.

  1. Your attractiveness as a target might be higher than you think.

You might assume that as a small business, you’re a “little fish in the big pond,” swimming below the notice of the poachers. But in fact, in recent years small to medium businesses are prime targets for hackers, precisely because they are less well protected. According to Nationwide Insurance, 55% of all small businesses experienced data breaches, and 53% having multiple breaches. In 2018, 71% of the victims of ransomware attacks were SMBs, a dramatic increase from 31% in 2012 and 18% in 2011.*

Your risk is even greater if you are in the supply chain of much larger companies, particularly if you have access to their customer and/or employee data. In this circumstance, hackers may perceive your network as a potential weak link in the armor of the deeper-pocketed client. If you are in this situation or likely would be, I encourage you in the strongest terms to pursue an enterprise-level security infrastructure. Not only is it almost certainly the right call for your degree of risk, such clients will increasingly expect and require this of you.

  1. Information security isn’t just technical, it’s behavioral—and people make mistakes.

Let’s say your IT department and/or the managed service provider (MSP) who remotely manage your IT infrastructure are top-notch, and you have the most airtight network known to man. You are still not safe from a data breach. This is because most methods of gaining access to a network involve luring employees or contractors with legitimate access to your system into providing credentials, running malware, or otherwise compromising the controls your team has put into place. Technical tools can help to identify such attacks, but they will never be enough on their own. Employees must be trained to identify suspicious emails and requests, and a culture of information security must permeate throughout the organization, specifically valuing security over speed and convenience. This takes leadership, and it has to be a priority for every executive.

  1. Compared to the potential loss, cyber insurance protection is relatively low-cost. With a greater than 50% likelihood that your small business will be hit by cybercrime costing you upwards of $100,000 per incident and an average policy cost of just $1500 per year, cyber insurance may be the single most inexpensive investment you can make to protect your business against this risk.

However, shop carefully: Many companies learn to their dismay after an incident that their policy didn’t cover what they thought it did. For instance, a policy may, by default, require your business to follow certain protocols or system configurations that might not work for your business. Or, if a breach is determined to be caused by employee error resulting from malware or phishing schemes, claims are often denied—which gets back to the vital importance of employee training. And, it’s important to note that insurance policies may or may not cover the costs of the technical help you may need to fix the vulnerability, ending the hackers’ immediate access to your network and to prevent future breaches. Despite that, you still need coverage to limit your exposure. Be sure to talk with your insurance representative about what is and is not covered and how you can best protect your business, and involve your head of IT and ideally your legal team in the policy selection process. Be sure to review your coverage for gaps on a regular basis as well—cybersecurity insurance is a young industry, and new types of risk are continually emerging.

I hope this inspires you to give additional thought to your company’s information security approach. If you already have a plan, it’s worth taking a fresh, critical review to ensure you’ve rated your risk appropriately and are taking advantage of the newer tools on the market today to mitigate it. If you need to get a program started, I recommend taking a look at the FCC’s Cybersecurity for Small Business page, as well as the Security and Technology section here on WorkAnswers for some great resources in designing one.

*As reported by Beazley Breach Response Services and Symantec.


Additional recommended reading: Designing a Remote Worker Policy.

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BREAKING NEWS: NEW July 4 Law Extends PPP Availability https://workanswers.com/breaking-news-new-july-4-law-extends-ppp-availability/ Mon, 06 Jul 2020 18:09:23 +0000 https://workanswers.com/?p=6426 On Saturday, Trump signed into law an extension for small businesses to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The deadline is now extended through August 8th, pushed back from […]

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On Saturday, Trump signed into law an extension for small businesses to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The deadline is now extended through August 8th, pushed back from the earlier June 30th end date.

Over 4.8 million small businesses have gained $520 billion in potentially forgivable loans since the program’s inception in March.

The good news for businesses is that $130 billion in PPP funding is still available. If your business has not yet received its share, talk to your banker about starting an application.

For a summary of the most recent changes in how you can use PPP dollars, read our earlier post:  NEW Law on 6/5 Makes PPP Even Better 

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Moving from Diversity to Inclusion https://workanswers.com/moving-from-diversity-to-inclusion/ Fri, 26 Jun 2020 08:00:10 +0000 https://www.workanswers.com/?p=5676 As the United States rapidly grows more diverse, it’s only logical that our workplaces follow suit. To make more representative businesses a reality, two-thirds of companies have implemented strategies to create more diversity […]

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As the United States rapidly grows more diverse, it’s only logical that our workplaces follow suit. To make more representative businesses a reality, two-thirds of companies have implemented strategies to create more diversity among their employees. Although these initiatives attempt to remove bias from the hiring process, they’ve actually introduced a different kind of discrimination as hiring managers are compelled to recruit from only specific demographics.

This rigidity narrows a company’s chances of finding the best new employees. Rather than increasing diversity by hiring a man, woman, Hispanic, Asian, or any other category for that matter, businesses should turn their attention to increasing inclusion. Being inclusive means keeping an open mind and approaching hiring holistically; it’s about bringing on people who offer great skills and unique perspectives that enhance the company’s culture.

Inclusion means truly accepting and integrating the differences that diversity brings. This practice involves giving every new perspective a voice in order to create goals that are beneficial for everyone. Because our world is now multicultural, business that reflect this will naturally do the best.

Yes, Millennials Need to be Included Too 

When people think about diversity, the first things that come to mind often center on gender, sexual orientation, religion, and race. However, an important factor that often goes ignored is age. The oldest millennials are currently around 37 years old and many are ready to take on executive management positions. However, due to the lack of appropriate training and opportunity, promotion isn’t happening as quickly as it could.

This lack of inclusion for millennials stems from the cultural differences between them and the baby boomers. These differences often create some tension between the generations, as baby boomers tend to view millennials as lazy or incompetent. However, it’s inevitable that millennials will succeed their predecessors, and baby boomers in senior management roles need to embrace this fact and promote inclusivity. If older millennials continue being promoted slowly – if at all – they will likely seek other jobs.

It isn’t just millennials, though; everyone needs to be given the opportunity for career progression. One great way to do this is for companies to hire from within and provide adequate training to all their employees to create the next generations of leaders.

Education is Key 

Most companies that promote inclusion offer diversity awareness training programs, which help to mitigate people’s unconscious biases. Like the term implies, most people aren’t even aware of their own prejudice. For that reason, it’s worth the investment to hire quality, professional trainers to reshape your team’s perspectives on inclusion.

Through proper education programs, companies can become more synergistic and productive, increasing their capacity to communicate and set mutually beneficial goals. These programs allow both the organization and the employees to get more in return for their time as they learn to be more effective through considering diverse perspectives.

Fostering Diversity and Inclusion

We no longer live in a world that is one color; we’re a blend. Having a company that represents this blend is the key to not only reaching the highest number of customers, but creating a more balanced workplace as well. However, creating this balance of cultures is not easy.

Focusing on diversity is only the first step. Doing so without eye for inclusion will foster a workplace where people have a hard time understanding one another due to their differences. Thankfully, through mindfulness and education, inclusion can be promoted in order to create an environment where our differences are no longer our biggest hurdle, but rather our greatest asset.

Follow Executives Unlimited on LinkedIn for updates & news in the recruiting world, career tips for Executives and more.


This blog was originally drafted by Executives Unlimited.

Executives Unlimited serves a global roster of clients ranging from entrepreneurial middle market companies to billion-dollar multinational corporations, both publicly and privately held, as well as nonprofits.

With offices in California, Utah, New Jersey and Connecticut, Executives Unlimited provides clients with a nationwide perspective of well-qualified candidates for upper management positions including Presidents, Vice Presidents, Chief Executive Officers, Chief Financial Officers, Chief Operational Officers, Directors, General Managers, and Interim Executives.


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Best Practices: Contracts and Client Relationships During COVID-19 https://workanswers.com/best-practices-contracts-and-client-relationships-during-covid-19/ Wed, 24 Jun 2020 19:22:49 +0000 https://www.workanswers.com/?p=5925 Businesses around the country are slowly beginning to re-open, and your business may be one of them. But for many companies, performance will not be the same for quite some […]

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Businesses around the country are slowly beginning to re-open, and your business may be one of them. But for many companies, performance will not be the same for quite some time.

So, what happens if your business is unable to uphold an agreement with another party, whether contractual or verbal? Here are some best practices to steer your way through these prickly issues.

1.  Communicate concerns

Inform the potentially affected parties of any concerns you have to manage expectations as early and as clearly as possible. Whether the agreement is verbal or contractual, effective communication can preserve relationships and lead to better cooperation. Blindsided parties will be less inclined to be flexible. And if you find yourself at the receiving end of performance concerns, be understanding. Clients will remember how you treated them during times of uncertainty.

2. Review contracts to determine each party’s rights and obligations

Look closely at relevant contracts to determine the presence of any clause that could protect you from breach of contract claims. One of the most popular clauses is the force majeureclause, which excuses nonperformance when events beyond the control of the parties prevent performance. The extent of force majeure protection varies across contracts, but for broadly drafted clauses, a business could argue that the COVID-19 pandemic constitutes an unforeseen, uncontrollable event significant enough to relieve them of their contractual obligations.

Even if the contract does not contain a force majeure clause, there are common law doctrines – such as impossibility, impracticability, and frustration of purpose – that can protect parties against breach of contract claims. Note that these concepts are not universally recognized, so if the other party does not seem inclined to work out alternate arrangements, it is important to check state laws and talk to your lawyer.

3. Negotiate Solutions

Create a win-win solution tailored to the current situation—or at least one that is balanced to both parties. If a written contract exists, consider documenting the changes in an amended contract. If the negotiated solution includes a legal “freeze” on a commercial relationship while the economy stabilizes, consider looking to the American Bar Association’s COVID-19 legal agreement template for guidance.

The pandemic has impeded operations for many businesses. But it is critical to create a solution that not only allows for both parties to survive through the crisis, but ensures that you still have a relationship for when the crisis ends.

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EEOC Issues Updated COVID-19 Guidance Addressing Antibody Testing https://workanswers.com/eeoc-issues-updated-covid-19-guidance-addressing-antibody-testing/ Thu, 18 Jun 2020 21:17:10 +0000 https://workanswers.com/?p=6232 The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on June 17, 2020 posted an updated and expanded technical assistance publication addressing questions arising under the federal equal employment opportunity laws related […]

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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on June 17, 2020 posted an updated and expanded technical assistance publication addressing questions arising under the federal equal employment opportunity laws related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The new question added to the publication, “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws” explains that in view of current CDC Interim Guidelines, the ADA presently does not allow employers to require antibody testing before allowing employees to re-enter the workplace. This information is provided in Q&A A.7. 

An antibody test is different from a test to determine if someone has an active case of COVID-19 (i.e., a viral test).  The EEOC has already stated that COVID-19 viral tests may be permissible under the ADA

In response to inquiries from the public, the EEOC has provided resources on its website related to the pandemic in an employment context.  

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June 18, 2020: Fostering Change From Within https://workanswers.com/june-18-2020-fostering-change-from-within/ Thu, 18 Jun 2020 21:45:14 +0000 https://workanswers.com/?p=6221 A topic of much discussion within our company as of late has been, “How can we make a difference to help end racial injustice and inequality?” Our company has always […]

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A topic of much discussion within our company as of late has been, “How can we make a difference to help end racial injustice and inequality?”

Our company has always been actively involved in several charitable activities whose mission is improving educational opportunities for students in low-income communities. However, given recent events, my work colleagues and I are asking ourselves, “Is that enough?” Everyone unanimously agreed that while these are worthwhile activities they do not directly address racial injustice and inequality. The question then became, “How can we directly foster change?”

We decided to ask every member of the team how they felt we could make a difference.  We began with a management team meeting, then conducted a confidential survey of each member of the management team to gain feedback on what steps we should take.  No clear-cut answers emerged, so we pressed on.

Another management meeting was held where the results of the survey were reviewed, and after much discussion, a new idea surfaced. Why not use our corporate know-how on a pro-bono basis to partner with an underserved organization who needs our skills?

Our next step was to present this idea to every member of the company and get their input via an anonymous survey (which is in progress). We expect to land on a path forward to do our part very soon, and I will share the results with you then.

How we foster systemic change on complex issues like racial injustice and inequality will never be easy. Thoughtful planning and diligence of focus is imperative to forge a new path, a better way to be.

We have decided to own the responsibility that change begins at home—or in this case, at work. We are just one company, but we are determined to do our part. If we can all strive to have those discussions and to be open to making a difference in whatever ways we can, I believe a better world can and will emerge.


Additional recommended reading: Moving from Diversity to Inclusion.

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NEW Law on 6/5 Makes PPP Even Better https://workanswers.com/new-law-pppfa/ Fri, 05 Jun 2020 18:49:23 +0000 http://workanswers.com/?p=6110 You’re used to it by now—again the rules are changing. Here’s one that definitely works in your favor. After rare and unanimous consent in both the House and the Senate […]

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You’re used to it by now—again the rules are changing. Here’s one that definitely works in your favor.

After rare and unanimous consent in both the House and the Senate for a bill to loosen PPP restrictions, President Trump signed into law the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (PPFA) on June 5, 2020. You’ll definitely reap the benefit of this one. 

  • More flexibility on how you use the loan—Now only 60% of PPP funds must be used for payroll, down from the earlier requirement of 75%. That means up to 40% of your loan can be used for other qualifying expenses (still must be rent, mortgage payments, utilities, or interest on loans).
  • Deadline extended to use PPP—You now have until the end of the year to use your PPP, specifically, 24 weeks from the date the funds were received. This is up from the original 8-week requirement.
  • Deadline for rehiring extended through 12/31/2020—This was pushed back from the original June 30th deadline. All the calculation formulas recently published in the SBA’s forgiveness application still apply as is.
  • Loosening of restrictions on returning to prior FTE headcount—You are now eligible for forgiveness even if you: 1) were unable to hire back the same employees you had on or before February 20, 2020, 2) were unable to hire similar replacement employees, or 3) can demonstrate that your business has been unable to return to the same level of activity that you had on or before February 20, 2020.
  • Repayment Term Extended—If some of your PPP loans are not forgiven, you now have up to 5 years to repay at 1% interest. Plus, your first payment won’t be due until after both your bank and the SBA evaluates your forgiveness application. That process is expected to take up to 5 months, giving you even longer before you have to begin repayment.

More info will undoubtedly be coming down from on high about how the SBA will define #3 on the headcount issue—for now document, document, document.

And, because responsibility to prove your position on all elements of the PPP, still resides with you, again we say document, document, document. This is especially the case for loans over $2 million where the SBA may question whether you had other avenues of liquidity available to you before applying for PPP.

With more time to utilize the funds and greater flexibility overall, this is a big win for small business owners who will be much better positioned to receive 100% forgiveness.

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June 5, 2020: Return to Work https://workanswers.com/june-5-2020-return-to-work/ Fri, 05 Jun 2020 12:55:18 +0000 http://workanswers.com/?p=6014 Chances are you’ve already invested a lot of time, energy, and maybe money, too, to shift at least some portion of your staff to a remote work environment during the […]

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Chances are you’ve already invested a lot of time, energy, and maybe money, too, to shift at least some portion of your staff to a remote work environment during the pandemic. Now that businesses are beginning to open back up to varying degrees, when should your workforce return to the office?

There are many factors to consider, not the least of which is still safety, but there are others—the quantity and quality of work being done, new post-pandemic human resources issues, and the erosion of corporate culture from too much time apart, to name a few.

Let’s start with the first and foremost issue—safety. Because there is still so much we don’t know about the expected track and impact of COVID-19 in the next year, it’s obvious that the safest and in many cases the simplest approach is to continue to work remotely. But, is that the best business move? Is it even practical? Safety, while critically important, isn’t the only factor.

Each business has to assess the impact of continuing to have a remote work force, either in full or in part. Are work levels on par with what was accomplished in office? What about the quality of work? If the quantity or quality of work has substantially suffered, or you believe the work product cannot be maintained, then the next question is, can your staff easily return to the office?

Bringing staff back isn’t as simple as hanging an “Open for Business” sign. Can you implement and maintain all the safety protocols, cleaning methods, and health monitoring practices to minimize the chance of your staff getting and spreading the virus? How much of your staff is likely to have childcare issues due to school or daycare closings? What does your state recommend? Some states, such as California, recommend continuing remote work when possible.

If the outlook for your business to continue working remotely is good, there’s one last issue to consider—the issue of how to maintain corporate culture and morale, intangibles that are built up when people work together, typically in person. Whereas at one time, staff might congregate in the breakroom, grab a drink after work, and get to know each other during team outings, these traditional team-building by-products and practices are not possible. However, the need for social and team rituals are even more important now than they were before the pandemic—or you risk watching the all-important corporate culture you’ve worked so hard to create slip away. What new practices can you instill for staff to get to know each other remotely? To stay in touch? To team-build? To keep spirits high?

My suggestion is to do what you can to have as much of your staff work remotely as is feasible and for as long as possible, mixing in some fun whenever you can. Then, when it’s time to return to the office, be sensitive to employees’ concerns, stay on top of safety procedures and other issues relating to COVID-19. While the year to come may be challenging, we can still take care of business and each other.


Recommended reading: Designing a Remote Worker Policy, Must Haves for Remote Workers, and Monitoring Employees’ Health: Off-Duty & On-Duty.

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The Executive’s Guide to Corporate Culture https://workanswers.com/the-executives-guide-to-corporate-culture/ Thu, 04 Jun 2020 14:56:17 +0000 https://www.workanswers.com/?p=5636 Gone are the days of long work hours isolated in cubicles, creating reports for distant managers. Instead, with the unemployment rate at 3.7%, employees have the power to demand more […]

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Gone are the days of long work hours isolated in cubicles, creating reports for distant managers. Instead, with the unemployment rate at 3.7%, employees have the power to demand more fulfilling conditions.


With employees in power, many businesses are now catering to their workers with the same attention that they afford to their customers. As they do, organizations hope to attract the best hires, as well as increase employee happiness, engagement, and tenure.


Although some business leaders may find focusing on employees instead of customers to be counter-intuitive, in fact, there are plenty of compelling reasons to develop a company’s culture. But, before getting to those, let’s first understand what corporate culture is.

Defining Corporate Culture

When thinking of corporate culture, many imagine an office with modern furnishings, stocked kitchens, and employee happy hours. While these can be important elements, the concept runs deeper than that.

Put simply, corporate culture refers to the overall personality of a company, which consists of the values, attitudes, norms, and beliefs that employees share. Corporate culture is also rooted in the organization’s mission, vision, strategies, and structure, as well as its customers, investors, and community. 


Overall, it directly informs how open, creative, and engaged employees feel while at work. Are they free to decorate their own desks like at Zappos, or explore their own interests like at Google? Or do they feel apathetic, fearful, and insignificant, like a small cog in a much larger machine?


While this is all great to consider from an ethics point of view, you’re probably wondering how it affects the bottom line.

The Case for Corporate Culture

As the great leadership guru, Simon Sinek, once said, “Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.”


Recent research reveals just how true this statement is. Studies show that disengaged workers reduce total U.S. economic performance by about $550 billion each year.


In contrast, happy workers are 31% more productive and make 37% more sales than average, leading to greater profitability and less job turnover. For these reasons, it’s clear why companies with happier employees consistently rank above industry benchmarks.


With all these statistics in mind, it’s easy to see how important corporate culture is. Unfortunately, though, many businesses are quite far behind in this area.

The Current State of Employee Engagement

Did you know that about two-thirds of the world’s workforce is disengaged at work? Beyond that only 13% report being actively engaged with what they do. In addition to this, two thirds of workers are burned out, and one third are highly stressed.


These stress levels will lead many employees to leave their job if a better offer arises. This is illustrated by the fact that many people who are actively looking for new positions say that company culture is the main reason.


Despite these troubling numbers, through proper investment and leadership, it is possible to turn a company’s culture around.

Improving Corporate Culture: A Top-Down Approach

Strong leaders build strong cultures. From Bill Gates to Steve Jobs to Jeff Bezos, we can see how the spirit of a leader is imbued into their followers, creating solid companies on all levels. Because of this, when it comes to improving corporate culture, a top-down approach is essential.

We can see this axiom ringing true across many examples of corporate cultures. For instance, in the infamous case of the accounting firm Arthur Andersen, capricious leadership took the company from prosperity to bankruptcy as greed infected the entire organization. However, on the other hand, Zappos, a business with a CEO who prioritizes culture, has enjoyed sustained success over the years. 


In addition to this, Google, a company that invested more in employee support, enjoyed a 37% increase in employee satisfaction.

Putting Everything Into Practice

In order to mirror these successes, leaders must first consider the traits that would define their ideal corporate culture. Some of these traits might include encouraging openness, creativity, flexibility, and self-starting. After that, they must work to imbibe those traits themselves. If done correctly, the qualities of the leader will permeate through the entire company.


If the CEO is too busy to develop culture, bringing on a Chief Culture Officer can be key in this endeavor. They will create a long-term cultural plan for the organization that aligns seamlessly with its mission and customers. After that, they will work with all levels of the company in order to implement it.


Another important tip for improving corporate culture is hiring individuals who will add value to your culture. All too often do companies bring on people who fit into their existing status-quo, rather than looking for those who will add important new dimensions. In doing so, their office dynamics remain stagnant rather than naturally evolving.

Finally, when developing your company’s culture, it’s important to always have an eye on new benefits or work-life arrangements that will attract top employees.

The Future of Corporate Culture

Millennials often get a bad reputation for shaking up the status quo. However, having grown up with events such as 9/11, the Great Recession, and climate change, it’s no surprise why they don’t seem to trust traditional social structures. So, as this group steadily grows to dominate the workforce, we can certainly expect their ideas to shape the future of corporate culture.


One of the major shifts that millennials are pushing for is flexible work options. In fact, almost 80% of millennials say that they would be more loyal to their employer if they were given flexible work hours. With so much new technology being developed to streamline remote work, it’s clear that this will become a norm in the future.


Furthermore, it’s also easy to see that millennials won’t tolerate stagnation in their careers, so another key cultural change we can expect this generation to champion is increased opportunities for self-improvement and career advancement. This may come in the form of increased feedback from higher-ups or from career training opportunities.


Other advents that will likely characterize the future of corporate culture are increased transparency, a better work-life balance, and more focus on diversity and inclusion. However, beyond these, culture will likely continue to evolve in ways that nobody can predict.


So, for now, it’s best to make a plan and hit the ground running. After that, rather than getting lost in the disruption, your company will be in a much better position to adapt to the changing tides of culture.

Follow Executives Unlimited on LinkedIn for updates & news in the recruiting world, career tips for Executives and more.


This blog was originally drafted by Executives Unlimited.

Executives Unlimited serves a global roster of clients ranging from entrepreneurial middle market companies to billion-dollar multinational corporations, both publicly and privately held, as well as nonprofits.

With offices in California, Utah, New Jersey and Connecticut, Executives Unlimited provides clients with a nationwide perspective of well-qualified candidates for upper management positions including Presidents, Vice Presidents, Chief Executive Officers, Chief Financial Officers, Chief Operational Officers, Directors, General Managers, and Interim Executives.


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Monitoring Employees’ Health: Off-Duty & On-Duty https://workanswers.com/monitoring-employees-health-off-duty-on-duty/ Wed, 03 Jun 2020 15:37:54 +0000 http://workanswers.com/?p=6034 Many states are beginning to re-open and employees are beginning to return to work. But COVID-19 is still alive and well, leaving employers with a big question: To what extent […]

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Many states are beginning to re-open and employees are beginning to return to work. But COVID-19 is still alive and well, leaving employers with a big question: To what extent can they monitor the health of their employees?

The short answer: It depends on whether you are seeking to monitor the employee while they are off-duty or on-duty.

Monitoring Employees Off-Duty

This method is not practical and can open up a legal can of worms. Here’s why not to pursue this avenue.

Social Media

It is difficult to monitor what employees are doing when they are not at work. You may try to look to your employees’ social media to see whether they are practicing social distancing, but this can lead to actions founded in discrimination and speculation. First, not all employees have social media accounts, making the off-duty monitoring practice inconsistent and potentially unfair. Second, even if you learn that an employee visited a popular beach over the weekend, it could be difficult to make a definitive judgment on whether they were practicing cautious behavior. Making a judgment often requires speculation and would lead to unevenly enforced policies.

Contact-Tracing Applications

But social media is not the only way that employers can monitor their employees. You may have heard that tech companies have been developing contact-tracing applications that use smart phone technology to conduct electronic contact assessment and notification. While no such app is publicly available on the market, they are currently being developed and tested. Nonetheless, here are some things to consider for when such apps become available:

  • Business Necessity
    Determine whether it is critical for you to monitor the health of your employees. If you are a professional services firm, where a vast majority of employees work remotely, the app is probably not a necessity. If you are a medical services provider for the elderly, you could potentially make an argument that the app is a necessity.

  • Non-Discriminatory Practice
    If you find that the app is critical for your business operations, the next step is to ensure that it is used in a non-discriminatory manner. You would likely have to cover the costs associated with the app, or perhaps even acquire smart phone devices for those employees who do not already own smartphones. You also have to make sure that the data you obtain from the app – medical or other personal information – is stored confidentially and is not used for any purposes other than the intended use of the app.

  • Legal Considerations
    Because contact-tracing apps can touch on intimate aspects of people’s lives – where they go, what they do, who they meet ­– you must consider a multitude of laws related to this technology. Such areas of law include: anti-discrimination laws, employment laws, contract rights, health care laws, and privacy laws. Also note that different states may have different rules with regards to these areas.
  • Practicalities
    Monitoring employees’ social media or requiring them to download and use such a contact-tracing app will be time-consuming and add an across-the-board increase in the cost of doing business at a time when most companies can least afford it. The cost of defending the business against potential lawsuits alone is reason enough to tread cautiously. It can also damage company morale and lead to bad publicity.

To protect employees at the workplace, your best bet is to consider measures you can take to monitor employees’ health while they are on-duty.

Monitoring Employees On-Duty

In terms of monitoring the health of your employees while they are on-duty, there are practices you can take to ensure that you maintain a safe workplace.  

  • Daily Health Checks
    Depending on whether knowledge about employees’ health is a business necessity, you may be able to have employees fill out daily health surveys. These surveys include questions such as: Have you been in close contact with someone who has a confirmed or presumptive case of COVID-19? Have you been experiencing symptoms of COVID-19? If they answer “yes” to any of the questions, you should require them to self-isolate away from the workplace.

    In addition, you can also conduct COVID-19 testing or body temperature checks on employees, again, provided that such examinations are job-related and consistently applied.
  • Social Distancing, Handwashing, and Masks  
    At work, you have the right to require employees to conform to social distancing and routine handwashing practices. But if you implement policies to require the use of wearing personal protective equipment, be prepared to provide it yourself or offer reimbursement.

All in all, whether you decide to monitor employees’ health or not, ensure that you weigh the necessity of the monitoring with the available resources. If you are interested in additional resources on preparing the workplace for COVID-19, see OSHA’s guidance.

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