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The importance of financial education in the workplace – JP George

mickyates Leader, leadership, Organization, Personal development 0 Comments

Today’s employees are increasingly looking to employers for more than just a job. They want to establish a personal relationship with the company, and feel that their individual contribution is valued. Monetary rewards are important, but non-monetary rewards and recognition are low-cost tools that companies can use to build and sustain these relationships.

Employee Programs

Employers who are expanding their employee recognition programs would do well to consider adding financial education programs to their toolbox of offerings. Many companies offer wellness programs that focus on an employees’ physical health as a way of increasing productivity, with the rationale being that a healthier employee is a more productive employee. Employers are turning their focus to employees’ financial well-being. Studies have shown that high levels of financial stress can lead to an increase in anxiety and depression. In turn, this can lower productivity and focus in the workplace. For employers, this decrease in focus can lead to workplace accidents, costly mistakes in the production process, or poor customer service.

Employee Workshops

Employers offering workshops that address financial topics can help their employees reduce stress, which could lead to a reduction in absenteeism and turnover. Many people haven’t had the opportunity to learn about credit scores, investments, and retirement planning. Having the opportunity to learn about budgeting, managing their relationship with student loan lenders or credit card companies, and how to successfully apply for a mortgage can help employees to solidify their financial positions.

In the past, employers have avoided this topic as too intrusive into the employees’ personal lives, and as risky because employers didn’t want to be seen as giving financial advice. However, in recent years it has become apparent that many employees could benefit from financial education. This lack of education has left many employees without the tools to improve their situation. The rising levels of student loan debt, along with historically low personal savings rates, have left many employees in tight financial circumstances.

Financial Education, Not Advice

The key for employers is to focus on financial education, and not on giving financial advice. Hosting workshops by experts on topics such as budgeting, buying a first home, or retirement planning can give employees the tools they need to move ahead with their own financial planning. The knowledge gained by attending these workshops can help employees determine how they want to move forward, and what their goals will be. Each employee’s financial situation will be different, so it is important that these workshops provide enough general information for employees to use, but not so specific that it crosses the line to financial advice. Highlighting free available tools, such as Mint, can guide employees to resources available to them online, or through certified financial advisors.

As part of the financial education program, employers can highlight the other benefit programs that they offer, such as a company 401k plan, short-term disability plan, or long-term disability plan. If the employees view the application process as too complicated, they are less likely to utilize the benefit. Making the Human Resources staff available to answer questions and provide guidance in completing the applications or plan documents can lead to increased use of these benefits.

Employee Support Groups

Another option that an employer might consider would be to offer support groups for employees. Groups for single parents, employees looking to retire in the next 5 years, or first-time home buyers can allow employees to share encouragement and knowledge amongst themselves.

By providing employees with the knowledge of how they can better their financial situation, employers are empowering their employees. In turn, these employees are likely to provide better attention and service to their employer.

What is “Disruptive” Leadership? Ryan Ayers

mickyates ideas, Innovation, Leader, leadership, Politics 0 Comments

To “disrupt”, especially within the tech industry, has been a trending term in the last few years. At its most basic level, the term means is to change the way people think, or the way things are done, usually in a business setting. Disruption can destroy or change existing markets by producing a better alternative to existing products or services, and it can even change the face of entire industries. Innovation is closely linked to disruption, but they are not the same thing. Startups are disrupting industries, innovative minds are disrupting the way we do things, and nearly everyone agrees that well-executed disruption is a good thing. But how does it apply to leadership? Disruptive leadership might seem like a strange concept, since leaders have always been called on to help people work collectively toward the same, pre-defined goals. If that’s the case, then how does disruption fit into effective leadership?

The Definition of Disruptive Leadership

What defines a disruptive leader? In a nutshell, it describes someone in a leadership position who is always looking for better solutions, and ways to improve processes and the business overall, and isn’t afraid to shake things up to get the necessary results. Steve Jobs is a famous disruptor, and his leadership style and creative vision was largely responsible for Apple’s overwhelming success. Jobs was known for being brutally honest in his criticism—a practice he defended with the results of his team.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Disruptive Leadership

Disruptive leadership has many advantages. It helps keep people on their toes, and always reaching toward their best work. However, disruptive leaders don’t use interruption just for the sake of shaking things up: they use it to get things done. Jobs, for example, wasn’t about to accept normal benchmarks for success; he expected excellence in everything the team did, and that meant disrupting the status quo on a regular basis.

Disruptive leadership can also bring normal operations to a grinding halt, if normal processes get so uprooted that it becomes difficult to keep up with all the changes at once, or if the organization does not have the resources to manage the disruption. An example of this is the executive order from the Trump administration banning travel from citizens of 7 countries. The order was issued without much review and unclear limitations. This wasn’t disruption like a reactionary economic sanction, this was political disruption that had never been seen before. The move was ‘unprecedented’ in American history, and has shaken up both members of homeland security, citizens, and of course, detainees.

Is This Trend a Fad?

The idea of disruptive leadership is nothing new. In fact, it has roots stretching back to long ago, which is not surprising, since human nature has not changed significantly over time. James Lopata of Forbes describes how Zen masters have used the tactics of disruptive leadership to bring out the best in their mentees. Using the element of surprise to keep students (or employees) on their toes is a long-standing tradition, though it doesn’t always go by the same name.

However, there are trends that occur in every industry and culture, with leadership styles going in and out of fashion over the decades and centuries. While innovation is always a focus of new companies, startups today are laser-focused on challenging the status quo, and learning how to do things faster, better and cheaper. So while disruptive leadership can’t really be classified as a fad, it is currently trendy, thanks to the business climate we are witnessing in the United States.

Putting Disruptive Leadership into Practice

Many people who favor and have successfully implemented disruptive leadership have discovered how to use it through trial, error, and their natural personality. It’s important that those who want to give disruptive leadership a try do not just make decisions on a whim, and lose sight of their overarching goals. This leads to poor implementation and lack of trust on the part of the team—nobody feels that they have the security they need, or the faith in leadership to steer the team in the right direction.

As with anything, there’s a wrong way and a right way to practice disruptive leadership, and the line can be very fine. Cross too far over into being predictably critical (or just completely unpredictable), and you’ll find yourself characterized as the mean boss. Stay complacent and your team will too. As with most aspects of being a leader, getting it right isn’t easy—but the rewards for success can be great.