Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Yes, I do love Christmas and all the sparkly lights and Hallmark movies that come with it. But Thanksgiving is different. It’s an opportunity to turn yourself off and solely focus on what matters: friends and loved ones and great food! No rushing out to buy last minute Christmas presents; no balancing your gift budgets. It’s about rediscovering the art of conversation, catching up with siblings, watching football teams that play better than the embarrassing Jets and Giants! And a chance to use my oven and fill my fridge with food! (We single busy freelancers don’t get to do that too often!).

Thanksgiving is also a chance to reflect. As I writer, I know I’m thankful for a few things, including excellent spelling skills and a working Internet connection. But I’m also thankful for the lives I touch. When I write an employee recognition piece, there isn’t anything more satisfying than receiving a follow-up call or email from someone thanking me for acknowledging him/her. “I took the article home to show my family,” wrote one employee. “We read it at the dinner table.” That’s when you know your work really hits home – literally!

Recognizing that people like a pat on the back, let’s hope workers everywhere get thanks – and give thanks – this season. Here’s to slowing down and appreciating the little things in life during Thanksgiving, Christmas and beyond!cornucopia

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When smartphones aren’t so smart

Earlier this year, I wrote a post about digital distractions in social settings. While texting dinner partners is still a common sight, I can’t help but notice the same behaviors taking place in business settings.

Enter a clothing store, the sales help are on Facebook. I’m at the gym, and the trainer is perusing Twitter while not one, but three clients are running on treadmills. Suppose one of the women had fallen or had become short of breath while the trainer’s head was down? Not only is that bad business etiquette, it’s just not safe.

I was dining in a restaurant recently and my friend failed to get the waiter’s attention because he was staring at his phone, no doubt on Facebook, or checking his texts. The restaurant wasn’t even busy – all he had to do was remain attentive to our table. But he was more interested in the contents on his screen – a smart phone, but a dumb move on his part. He is working for tips after all. And we haven’t been back since.

This brings me to my point – if you’re running a business establishment – a clothing store, a gym, a restaurant – you’d better make darn sure your employees are doing their jobs. If patrons feels ignored, it will impact your business. They will not be rushing back to give you any business.

If you’re a business owner or manager, it is important to establish digital guidelines for your staff from the get-go. You don’t necessarily have to ban electronic devices during work hours, but it is good practice to limit smartphone use. If you work in retail, check your phone during your break. If you’re a personal trainer, wait till after your sessions to check your messages.

While staff may be annoyed by the restrictions initially, they have to understand the bigger picture. If customers see they’re engaged, then they will be engaged. It’s as simple as that. Satisfied customers come back; unhappy ones take their business elsewhere.