SERVING AG, CONSTRUCTION AND OUTDOOR POWER EQUIPMENT DEALERS ACROSS IOWA AND NEBRASKA HUMAN RESOURCES
Q4: 2023 | Quarterly magazine
Human resources—or HR—is a vital part of any dealership, no matter the size.
IT’S OUR BUSINESS TO PROTECT How Do You Retain Your Top Talent? Private bonus plans provide strong incentive for top team members to remain with your business — while also helping you stand out among other employers. Commercial Insurance Property & Casualty | Life & Disability Income | Workers Compensation | Business Succession and Estate Planning | Bonding Federated Mutual Insurance Company and its subsidiaries** | federatedinsurance.com 23.05 Ed. 1/23 *View A.M. Best Rating Guide information at www.ambest.com. **Not licensed in all states. © 2022 Federated Mutual Insurance Company Scan to learn more about PRIVATE BONUS PLANS and other employee retention strategies. AN ASSOCIATION MEMBER BENEFIT FOR 119 YEARS DIRECT, LOCAL MARKETING REPRESENTATIVES AUTO PROPERTY AND CASUALTY SELF-INSURED RETENTION POLICYHOLDER SURPLUS LIVE VOICE CUSTOMER SERVICE MYSHIELD® TAILORED, INDUSTRY-SPECIFIC COVERAGE BUSINESS SUCCESSION AND ESTATE PLANNING STABLE FACE-TO-FACE RELATIONSHIPS FINANCIAL STRENGTH MUTUAL COMPANY DIRECT CLAIMS REPRESENTATIVES 500+ EXCLUSIVE ASSOCIATION RECOMMENDATIONS ESTATE PLANNING ATTORNEY NETWORK ANNUITIES WE’RE BETTER TOGETHER LIFE AND DISABILITY INCOME KEY PERSON COVERAGE WORKERS COMPENSATION HIRING PRACTICES FEDERATED DRIVESAFESM TELEMATICS SOLUTION RISK MANAGEMENT RESOURCE CENTER EMPLOYMENT RELATED PRACTICES LIABILITY EMPLOYMENT LAW ATTORNEY NETWORK BONDING EMPLOYEE SAFETY TRAINING RISK MANAGEMENT ACADEMY CLIENT CONTACT CENTER FIELD RISK CONSULTANTS CERTIFICATE CENTER SURETY SPECIALISTS MANAGED CARE CYBER IT’S OUR BUSINESS TO PROTECT INEDA MEMBERS
Explore the profound influence of stress on both personal life and the workplace. Discover practical strategies for effective stress management.
FEATURE INTERNATIONAL WORKFORCE PROGRAMS
Finding and retaining skilled technicians can often feel like an uphill battle. With a shortage of qualified candidates locally, many dealerships are exploring innovative solutions to address this challenge. One such solution is tapping into international workforce programs, which can bring skilled mechanics from abroad to fill crucial roles within your dealership.
NEBRASKA FIELD REPORT
Phil Erdman expands on workforce development strategies, including accountability, compensation, employee engagement, and community involvement, emphasizing their role in creating a cohesive and successful team.
IOWA FIELD REPORT
Bridge the generation gap in your dealership(s) by nurturing a company culture that values teamwork and cohesion.
From Traditionalists to Gen Z, Jamie Mertz discusses the importance of prioritizing mutual learning, transparent communication, empowerment, and work-life balance to create an environment where all generations thrive, ensuring long-term business success.
FEATURE AG SHOW TRENDS
Explore the latest trends in agriculture that will be showcased at the Nebraska Ag Expo and Iowa Ag Expo this winter, including drones, electric equipment, precision spraying, soil health, data-driven tools, and livestock tech, with Expo Director Tom Junge.
TABLE OF CONTENTS | 1
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Jay Funke Chairman, Edgewood, IA
Kevin Clark Vice Chairman, Lincoln, NE
Tim Kayton Past Chairman, Albion, NE
Kent Grosshans Central City, NE
Brian Koonce Grimes, IA
Dave McCarthy Waterloo, NE
Mark Placek Alliance, NE
Matt Vande Hoef Hull, IA
David Adelman IA Legislative Director
Phil Erdman Dir. of Dealer & Gov’t Rel.
Cindy Feldman Marketing Director
Each one of us is a communicator. Humans are texting, tweeting, and speaking more words than ever, and it is extremely challenging to be heard in these times. How do you get anyone to pay attention to anything that matters in this mess?
Laurie Haeder Ag Expo Coordinator
Mark Hennessey President/CEO
Tom Junge Expo Director
Tim Keigher NE Legislative Director
Jamie Mertz Dir. of Dealer & Gov’t Rel.
Donna Miller Operations Manager
Gwen Parks Controller
Sydney Upah Marketing Comm. Designer
8330 NW 54th Ave. Johnston, IA | 50131-2841
E: firstname.lastname@example.org | W: www.ineda.com P: 515.223.5119 | F: 515.223.7832
Individual subscriptions are available without charge to Association members. One-year subscriptions are available to all others for $30.00 (4 issues). Contact INEDA for additional information. This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is furnished with the understanding that the Iowa-Nebraska Equipment Dealers Association, the publisher, is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional services. Changes in the law may render the information contained in this publication invalid. Legal advice or other expert assistance should be obtained from a competent professional.
2 | TABLE OF CONTENTS
Vol. 112 No. 4
How often do you feel like you just don’t have enough time in the day? Do any of the statements above resonate with you?
In our productivity-obsessed world, it’s common to feel overwhelmed at work with workloads and busy schedules. But outside of work, personal stressors are also common. When a person is facing personal hardships like raising children, divorcing a spouse, financial struggles, personal health issues, death of a family member, and/or caring for aging parents, there is little time left to care for one’s personal mental health.
Frequently, these individual stressors can have such a profound influence on an employee’s personal life that they invariably spill over into their professional workplace. I recently engaged in a lunchtime discussion with a colleague on this very topic. During our conversation, I recounted an incident involving a past manager who asserted that, “Employees shouldn’t bring their personal lives with them into the workplace... work is work, home is home,” as if they could effortlessly switch between the two. However, this notion of instantly toggling between personal and professional modes is simply unrealistic.
Stress is often brushed off as a normal part of life, but it can have major consequences for employers and employees if left unchecked. It can impact a person’s well-being and mental alertness, making it hard for them to be present and productive at work. Before we can help these employees navigate through these difficult periods, we need to better understand the impact that stress has in the workplace.
How Stress Affects the Workplace
Stress can affect people in every industry. Planting and harvest seasons are very demanding and stressful times. An employee who is typically upbeat, positive, and full of energy may suddenly seem distant, distracted, and/or aloof. Common side effects exhibited by employees who are experiencing stress or burnout include:
• Low Employee Engagement: Employees who are stressed tend to be less engaged with their projects or coworkers.
• Lack of Focus and Productivity: Many employees report that they have difficulty focusing on tasks at work because of stress, or they get easily overwhelmed with time management.
• Poor Employee Performance: Employees may make errors and/or miss their deadlines because of stress, resulting in lower employee performance and poorer customer service quality.
• Tense Company Culture: Stress can negatively impact your company culture. For example, stressed employees may have trouble getting along with team members. Others may also be frustrated for picking up the slack of a stressed employee.
executive insight EXECUTIVE INSIGHT | 3
“There are not enough hours in the day!”
“I feel like I take one step forward and two steps backward.”
“I’m spinning my wheels doing things that are keeping me from doing what I really want to do.”
“I feel like I’m constantly fighting fires.”
“I am alwaysbehindor running 5 minutes late.”
• Increased Absences or Tardiness: Stress can cause employees to show up late or miss work altogether.
• Injuries and Illnesses: Stress takes a physical toll on the human body. For example, health problems such as headaches, weight gain, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, depression, and anxiety may occur.
Tips To Relieve Work Stress and Improve Health
Though stress is a daunting, pervasive problem, there are many ways to reduce its impact on human lives and the workplace.
1. Use Employee Assistance Programs: Employee assistance programs (EAPs) that include work-life services are proven to reduce employee stress and decrease absenteeism and turnover. Furthermore, research has shown that EAPs directly reduce disability claims.
“Organizations looking to compete in a volatile marketplace are proactively addressing stress,” said ComPsych Chairman and CEO Dr. Richard A. Chaifetz. “Leveraging the EAP is an important step in dealing with workplace stress.”
2. Track Your Stress Levels: The American Psychological Association recommends that employees track their stressors for at least a week. In a journal, write down situations where you felt your stress level increase. Record the circumstances of the incident. Where were you? Who were you with? How did you respond to the situation? Knowing what made you stressed and how you reacted to it will assist you in deciding how to best handle these situations in the future.
3. Set Boundaries: Time and task management are vital to keep work tension at bay. If you’re overtaxing yourself, burnout is bound to happen. Aim to always keep a healthy work and family life balance. When feeling tired or overwhelmed at work, take a break and go for a short walk. Eat lunch away from your desk each day to give yourself a mental vacation. Remember to prioritize the most important work tasks and delegate responsibilities when it’s plausible.
4. Maintain Your Physical Health: Remember your physical fitness and stay healthy to reduce your stress levels. Your food choices and exercise habits have a large impact on how you feel throughout the day. A common occurance is for stressed individuals to turn to “comfort” food—such as sweets and fried dishes—to alleviate stress. These foods actually cause blood sugar levels to crash and your mood is likely to worsen. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. This may be the best gift you can give yourself to reduce stress, burn off some life stressors and refresh yourself with a different frame of mind.
All of us deal with stress in different ways and varying amounts. But expecting yourself or your employees to leave your personal problems at the door won’t make the stress go away. It probably adds to it.
Hopefully, you now have some ideas on how to cope with stress in the workplace. Best of health to all of you this harvest season and may you have enough time to enjoy life’s moments with minimal stress!
Chief Executive Officer
4 | EXECUTIVE INSIGHT
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Exploring the H-2A and TN Visa Programs To Secure Skilled Technicians for Your Dealership
6 | FEATURE INTERNATIONAL WORKFORCE PROGRAMS
In the ever-evolving landscape of equipment dealerships, finding and retaining skilled technicians can often feel like an uphill battle. With a shortage of qualified candidates locally, many dealerships are exploring innovative solutions to address this challenge. One such solution is tapping into international workforce programs, which can bring skilled mechanics from abroad to fill crucial roles within your dealership.
We had the privilege of speaking with Alan and Kate Neese, owners of Neese, Inc., who have successfully navigated these international workforce programs. Based in Grand Junction, Iowa, the Neeses have been utilizing two primary programs: the H-2A and TN visa programs, to bring in mechanics and skilled technicians from South Africa and Mexico.
The H-2A Program: Bridging the Skills Gap
The H-2A visa program, traditionally used in agriculture, has found its place within the equipment dealer sector. This program allows dealers to hire foreign workers for a defined period, often during peak seasons, when the local workforce is not available.
Neese, Inc. has been using the H-2A visa program for about eight years, with a steady team of eight workers for the past three years. Each year in December, these workers travel back to South Africa, renew their paperwork, and return to the United States in March.
What sets the H-2A visa program apart is the employer’s responsibility to provide housing, transportation, and other essential amenities for the workers.
“We have to pay airfare, we have to house them, and we have to provide transportation to and from work,” Alan explained. This unique setup offers a reliable stream of skilled labor during busy periods, alleviating the pressure caused by seasonal fluctuations.
One intriguing aspect of the H-2A visa program is the requirement to attempt to hire American workers before turning to foreign labor. This stipulation reflects the program’s intent to complement, rather than replace, the local workforce.
The TN Visa Program: A Long-Term Workforce Solution
The TN visa program, part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), offers an alternative
avenue for dealerships seeking skilled technicians. This program allows certain professionals to come to the United States temporarily and work for up to three years at a time.
The TN visa program does not come with the same housing and transportation requirements as the H-2A visa program, making it a suitable choice for dealers looking to hire skilled technicians without the added logistical complexities.
“The TN visa is a fantastic visa,” said Attorney Aaron Bernard of The Bernard Firm. “It’s a three-year visa, so you can just renew it and renew it as long as the government believes [the employee] is not going to be permanently here. So they still have to maintain their ties to their home country.”
One of the major differences between the TN visa and the H-2A visa is that TN visa workers must be working at a professional level.
“This means you have to have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree, and there are about 70 different occupations that qualify,” Bernard said. “But there’s a lot of tangential ones that also qualify. Like engineers; there [are] a zillion different engineering professions, so you can often tie people into [the] engineering [profession].”
You can find a full list of qualifying professions online when you search ‘TN visa approved professions.’
According to The Bernard Firm’s website, “The process for applying for the [TN] visa is different based on whether the applicant is a Canadian or Mexican citizen, however there are some similarities. For both situations, the requesting employer must write a letter describing the position as temporary and professional, as well as detail the business activities, length of stay, credentials of the applicant, and arrangements for pay. The applicant must also provide a copy of their credentials.”
Angel’s Story: A Testament to the Program’s Success
One of the shining examples of Neese, Inc.’s success with the TN visa program is the story of Angel Estrada Delgado, an engineer from Mexico.
Angel joined the team at Western Iowa Equipment in Pomeroy, Iowa in February of 2023 under the TN visa program. His work ethic, dedication, and cultural adaptability quickly made him an invaluable member of the team.
8 | FEATURE INTERNATIONAL WORKFORCE PROGRAMS
“He is such a delight,” Alan said. “If you don’t like Angel, then you aren’t going to like anybody. When I was in Pomeroy a couple of weeks ago, he came up to me at quitting time and said, ‘I just want to tell you, I really love my job. Thanks for letting me be here.’ That just makes you feel good.”
Angel taught heavy machinery maintenance at the Universidad Tecnológica de la Babícora in Chihuahua, Mexico before coming to the United States to work for the Neeses at Western Iowa Equipment. He also has a background as a general mechanic, farm equipment operator, welder, and ranch hand.
While the TN visa program doesn’t impose obligations for housing or transportation, the Neeses went the extra mile to ensure a smooth transition for Angel. After setting Angel up with a social security card and drivers license upon his arrival, the Neeses also arranged a place for him to live, loaned him a vehicle to drive, and purchased him a basic set of tools that he would later repay.
“What else do you do?” Alan asked. “They come up here with nothing. You have to start somewhere and build it together.”
Navigating the Process: Finding the Right Agency
For the Neeses, finding the right agency involved a lot of trial and error. Their journey began with finding an immigration law firm to help them establish a connection with a reputable agency.
The Neeses initially collaborated with The Bernard Firm, which was founded in 2008 by Aaron Bernard, an attorney whose focus is on business immigration with an emphasis on providing H-2A (agricultural) and H-2B (non-agricultural) temporary labor and TN (NAFTA professionals) visas.
While seeking guidance from a reputable law firm is probably a safer, albeit more expensive, option for initiating international workforce programs, there is some crossover between attorneys and agencies, according to Bernard.
“There are better agencies and worse agencies,” Bernard said. “With a law firm, you can expect a very good level of competency. With agencies, it’s just super varied. Some are fantastic, some are awful.”
While there are many agencies to choose from, the Neeses ultimately opted to partner with Golden
Opportunities International, LLC, which specializes in recruiting English-speaking individuals from South Africa and Mexico who want to come to the United States to work.
Both agencies and attorneys play a key role in guiding employers through the intricate paperwork, ensuring compliance with regulations, and facilitating the recruitment process. From screening candidates to handling documentation, agencies and attorneys can streamline the process and minimize potential challenges.
If you opt to use an agency, Bernard recommends talking to your local department of labor to find a qualified agency. “They’ll quite often know who’s a decent agent and who’s not,” he said.
Overcoming Challenges and Embracing Diversity
As Alan emphasized, bringing international workers like Angel into your dealership is not without its challenges. Cultural differences, language barriers, and logistical considerations are all factors to address.
“We were a little nervous sending him off to Pomeroy,” Kate said, “wondering about if it was going to be the right culture fit.”
The Neeses were transparent with their existing employees throughout the process.
“I told them, ‘Here’s what I’m thinking, here’s what I’m working on,’” Alan said. “’This was not my first option. We’ve tried all these other things.’ So I told them, ‘Either you embrace it and you try to make the best of it, or you’re not going to have any help.’ And they all went, ‘Let’s go!’”
As exemplified by Angel’s story with Neese, Inc. and Western Iowa Equipment, the rewards can far outweigh the obstacles. The diversity and global perspective that international technicians bring can enrich your dealership’s environment and enhance problem-solving.
As equipment dealers continue to evolve and adapt, considering international workforce programs is a strategic move that can help bridge the skills gap and ensure a steady supply of skilled technicians. Whether it’s leveraging the H-2A program for seasonal support or tapping into the TN visa program for year-round stability, these options offer a pathway to success.
FEATURE INTERNATIONAL WORKFORCE PROGRAMS | 9
“He is such a delight. If you don’t like Angel, then you aren’t going to like anybody.”
10 | FEATURE CELL PHONES AT WORK
CELL PHONES AT WORK
Cell phones are part of everyday life. That means your employees will probably bring their cell phones to work, so it’s important to have guidelines in place for their use.
Depending on the types of jobs your employees perform, cell phone work guidelines may need to address the use of phones for work and business travel, safety and privacy concerns, and maintaining a productive workplace.
Below, you’ll find tips on what to consider when addressing effective and fair cell phone guidelines for your employees.
Reasons To Have Cell Phone Guidelines
Cell phone usage may affect certain parts of your company’s day-to-day workflow. Here are several reasons to have cell phone guidelines in place at your company:
• Safety: Whether your office is in a warehouse or call center, there may be hazards in the workplace. Using a cell phone when operating heavy machinery or even while doing routine things such as walking up or down stairs could result in injuries.
• Customer service: To provide the highest level of customer service, employees should pay attention to customers and show that they’re accessible and available to clients who come in the door.
• Productivity: With cell phone at-work standards in place, employees have guidelines for when they can take breaks and check their phones for calls, texts, social media, or news. This reduces distractions and makes the workplace more productive.
• Security: When an employee is using their cell phone at
work, they may connect to the company’s Wi-Fi, leaving your company vulnerable to unwanted network access, or they could even cause a security breach. In fact, according to one survey, 60 percent of respondents think that mobile devices are their company’s biggest IT security threat.
The Basics of Work Cell Phone Guidelines
When writing your company’s cell phone at-work guidelines, here are some questions to consider:
• Do your employees supply their own cell phones for work?
• Do you expect employees to be available remotely for their jobs?
• Are there safety concerns to be aware of for employees using phones at work?
FEATURE CELL PHONES AT WORK | 11
• Should there be guidelines for personal cell phone use versus business cell phone use? For example, if you pay for business cell phones, you may stipulate what types of calls can be made. Some companies allow for a reasonable number of personal calls during travel as a courtesy.
• Are there privacy and security concerns with the use of cell phone cameras in the workplace?
Three Best Practices for Cell Phones at Work
Here are three suggestions to consider when creating verbal or written guidelines that speak to cell phone use:
1. Equip Employees for Work
Many employees use their cell phones for work-related tasks, such as storing contacts, taking photos that help them with business-related tasks, performing work-related research, keeping calendars, using apps that enhance productivity, and texting with colleagues who are out of the office on business.
If cell phones make your employees more productive, write guidelines that acknowledge their use for work while requesting that they use common sense to avoid distractions.
2. Communicate Clearly
You may want to communicate your cell phone at-work guidelines in a team meeting, in your employee handbook, or as part of their onboarding. Have team members confirm they’ve been given this
information via signature or email verification. You may also wish to post the guidelines in a visible area, such as the break room, as a reminder. Make yourself available to answer any questions. And remember, a clear set of guidelines reduces miscommunication.
3. Address Cell Phone Use on the Road
It’s important to share your expectations for cell phone use that cover employees at work and during business travel. Consider the following for safety:
• Prohibit all texting while driving, and label vehicles as text-free zones.
• Ensure there are no work procedures or duties that make it necessary for employees to text while driving.
• Communicate safe practices. For example, phones should be set to silent mode when driving and calls sent to voicemail. If drivers receive important phone calls, they should be required to pull over before answering calls.
• Remove incentives or systems that might make employees text while driving.
Guidelines To Consider
If you have opted for a “no cell phone use at work” environment, you may want to address:
• Whether phones are allowed in the workplace at all or if they must be left in a locker or drawer.
• Whether phones should be turned off during office hours.
If your company provides phones to employees, you may want to
address potential scenarios like:
• What happens to the phone if it is damaged or lost.
• What employees are allowed to use the phone for (i.e. banning social media apps).
• The return of the phone at the conclusion of the employee’s employment.
• If personal calls are allowed at all (i.e. when traveling for work).
• If you expect employees to reimburse the company for the cost of personal calls and the process for doing this.
If you have more flexible guidelines for employees’ personal cell phone use in the workplace, it should address:
• What is an appropriate amount of time they can spend using their phones each day.
• What is an acceptable use of personal phones during work time—responding to messages and having brief conversations, for example, would usually be permitted, but playing games on phones would not.
• No phones in meetings, training courses, etc.
• Whether you require phones to be kept on silent mode.
• Whether they need their phones for work-related tasks.
• Situations where they can’t use their phones for safety reasons.
• That some roles may require cell phone use more than others (i.e. salespeople).
12 | FEATURE CELL PHONES AT WORK
Cell Phones At-Work Frequently Asked Questions
Should there be different guidelines for company and personal cell phone use?
Whether there should be one work cell phone guideline for company phones and another for personal phones depends on how your employees use their phones and whether personal cell phone use is part of their jobs.
Companies may wish to have a separate business-owned cell phone at-work statement that discusses whether employees can install apps or browse the internet for personal use on the phone while not at work.
Should guidelines be the same for all employees?
Varying guidelines depend on your business and the types of
jobs staff members perform. For example, if the majority of your employees handle heavy equipment, a uniform cell phone set of guidelines that address safety concerns is appropriate. However, if you also employ salespeople who frequently interact with clients, the same cell phone at-work guidelines may not be practical. Consider job types and create job-specific guidelines to keep everyone safe and productive.
How can you enforce work cell phone guidelines?
Establish a disciplinary procedure for all your guidelines. Many employers start with verbal warnings, escalate to written warnings for second violations, and consider other disciplinary actions when company rules are repeatedly violated.
No matter how you choose to enforce your cell phone work guidelines, document all disciplinary actions you take.
Can a company have a no-cell phone at-work guideline?
A no cell phone at-work guideline typically prohibits employees from using their cell phones at any time during the workday. Your business can create this type of strict work cell phone guideline, but keep in mind that for many people, cell phones are an important part of life. Completely prohibiting the use of personal cell phones in the workplace could hinder recruitment efforts, reduce employee morale, or increase turnover.
FEATURE CELL PHONES AT WORK | 13
PHIL ERDMAN Director of Dealer and Government Affairs [email@example.com]
THE BENEFITS OF EFFECTIVE MANAGEMENT
During the course of 2023, the Iowa-Nebraska Equipment Dealers Association (INEDA) team collaborated closely with dealer members on strategies to ensure your companies are attractive for current and future employees.
We covered quite a bit of ground in our Workforce Development Summit that was highlighted in the previous edition (Q3 2023) of the Retailer magazine that you’re reading right now.
In this article, I want to provide some additional background on the topics we summarized in that article. Specifically, I want to focus on accountability, compensation (including benefits), employee engagement, and community expectations.
One strategy that a dealer member shared in our Workforce Development Summit was how their dealership asks each employee to write down their motivations and goals (both personal and professional) when they start working at their dealership. Their manager reviews those goals regularly to keep them on track to achieving these goals or adjust as needed. This is also a great way to ensure employee engagement.
In sports, successful teams invest time in reviewing game footage to gain deeper insights into their triumphs and setbacks during intense competition, allowing them to better prepare for similar situations in the future. That is in addition to immediate feedback from coaches during these games. An active coaching model (versus a management
model) can be more effective in understanding the motivation and interests of employees and helping them feel fulfilled in their work and company. Think of it in terms of performance reviews. A coaching model is active and consistent—congratulations and correction—while a management model is merely a recap of actions taken long ago. How successful would your favorite sports team be if they only watched game film after the season was over?
Compensation and Benefits
Historically, compensation has been a driving factor in employee recruitment and retention—not just in the amount, but also the structure of how it’s earned. Have you considered rewarding your more efficient technicians individually as well as offering incentives for their team? Employees often observe the workload and effort of their teammates and compare it to their own output. They expect to be evaluated against their team members, so why not reward on that level as well?
In addition to hiring for skills and aptitude, you must have a mind toward hiring people that fit within (or advance) your company culture. Employees are seeking organizations where they are valued and fit in. By rewarding those who work hard and excel, you will empower the entire team to achieve (and receive!) more while simultaneously developing a strong team culture.
Effective management also includes implementing meaningful time off policies for employees’ personal lives, while also ensuring coverage at your business to meet your customers’ needs, especially during peak seasons. Sick time, vacation, personal time,
ne AROUND NEBRASKA
14 | NEBRASKA FIELD REPORT
bereavement, and maternity/paternity leave have become commonplace for dealers. But you haven’t stopped there! Some dealers are implementing flex scheduling—not only for administrative staff, but also technicians! These decisions are driven by the desire to recruit and retain the best talent possible. They should also raise the question, “How does your overall compensation and benefits package compare to other employers in your area?”
Returning to the sports theme, there is a great deal of engagement among players at both practices and games. Game plans are developed, practiced, and perfected to win games and achieve team goals. Simply put—players are working toward a common goal. Teammates that fit your culture, who are committed to a shared vision, and whose opinions and efforts are welcome and rewarded should be the standard—not the exception.
But don’t forget that on any team, the coach’s voice is arguably the most essential component.
What does that look like for your business? In addition to coaching your employees, do you have a way for employees to share their suggestions and concerns—and have you cultivated an environment where they would feel comfortable doing this?
You should be tracking who is engaged and participating. Those who don’t participate may think that their opinions don’t matter—and may look for another team. Finally, all employees should know of action items that result from these conversations. Close the loop with effective communication—individually and collectively.
Every one of our dealer members is proud of the role you play in your community. Not only do you provide jobs and grow the local economy, but you also sincerely care about and support the people in your community. Regardless of how good of a corporate citizen you are, there are always going to be external critiques of what people think you should be doing.
These critiques include feedback on service or products, the way you treat your employees, or how you should be operating your business. These expectations are driven by the opinions and perspectives of the public—some whom may not even do business with you!
Your company’s biggest fans are going to be those who know you care about their needs—whether they are an employee, customer, or community member. Listen to their interests and goals. Being active outside the walls of your dealership is also a great way to engage with your team—and find new members to join your team.
Effective management is not at odds with being profitable or successful. Quite the opposite. To maximize effectiveness, it’s essential that each team member takes full ownership and responsibility for their role.
NEBRASKA FIELD REPORT | 15
JAMIE MERTZ Director of Dealer and Government Affairs [firstname.lastname@example.org]
GENERATIONAL DIFFERENCES IN THE WORKPLACE
The cure is a strong company culture. Over the past few years, there has been a higher number of people leaving the workforce. Many were at the age of retirement, while several others decided they were close enough to take an early retirement. This left a bigger gap to be filled by the younger generations. The question for employers now is, “How do I hire a new generation of employees, retain my older and more experienced employees, and create an environment where both can flourish together?”
There are currently five generations in the workforce right now. Listed below are the five generations and the years in which they were born, along with brief descriptions of the defining traits of each (as it relates to the workforce).
• Traditionalists (1925-1945): About 2 percent of people who are still working were born during this time period. This generation grew up experiencing the aftereffects of the Great Depression and WWII. People in this generation are known to be very determined, hardworking, and cost-conscious in their decision making.
• Baby Boomers (1946-1964): This generation comprises about 25 percent of the current workforce. Most of the baby boomers plan on working beyond the age of 65. This generation is very hard-working, competitive, goal-oriented, and resistant to change.
• Generation X (1965-1980): This age group makes up about 33 percent of the current workforce. “Gen Xers” didn’t grow up with
technology, but they have been immersed in it throughout the majority of their professional lives. As a whole, these folks are more flexible and are looking for a better work-life balance than the previous generation.
• Millennials (1981-2000): About 35 percent of the current workforce are millennials. This generation was raised alongside the growth of technology. Millennials enjoy growth and change; they typically do not stay committed to one employer for their entire career. They tend to move around to different jobs frequently, risking the label of “job hoppers.”
• Generation Z (2000-Present): “Gen Z” makes up about 5 percent of the workforce at the moment, as they are just at the beginning of their careers. This generation is very much reliant on technology. Gen Z seems to be much better at multitasking than previous generations, and they look to be more creative in what they do for a career. Believe it or not, we have all been part of the stereotype from the older generation(s) accusing the youngest generation of being lazy. “They don’t know what hard work really is!” Does this sound familiar?
I remember my grandfather telling me about how he used walk four miles one way to school, uphill both ways, in two-foot deep snow! With each retelling, the miles would get longer, it would get more uphill (how is that possible?), and the snow would get deeper. We all grew up in different times, different eras, with different technology. Some of the jobs that were once considered strictly blue-collar jobs are no longer just solely blue-collar. With technology
16 | IOWA FIELD REPORT AROUND IOWA ia
added to the mix, these jobs are now a mixture of blue- and white-collar. This is especially true for the equipment technician position! It’s no longer solely a mechanical career; you now have the electrical and software components of the equipment to consider. Regardless of the generation you were born into— when we look at what everyone wants out of their career and employer, are we really that different?
Everyone wants to feel appreciated for the work that they do. People want to feel empowered in the position they are in and engaged and motivated in their work. From one generation to the next, this has not changed.
I feel that the biggest asset for a company that wants to bring in new talent—while also retaining older, more experienced employees—is a strong company culture that emphasizes team-building and working together as a cohesive unit.
To strengthen company culture, businesses can establish mentoring programs where more experienced employees guide their younger counterparts. This isn’t a one-way process; it’s about mutual learning. Younger employees are often better at multitasking and using technology, thanks to their upbringing. By sharing knowledge between generations, companies can reduce the impact of losing experienced employees due to retirement or
unexpected events like accidents or illness.
To foster a positive company culture, it’s crucial to empower employees through open and transparent communication. Trust them to take on leadership roles and actively participate in decision-making. Many employees possess valuable experience and insights that can contribute to business growth. Ensure a two-way flow of information between upper management/ownership, employees, and managers. Create an environment where employees feel comfortable expressing their opinions and ideas, and where their input is respected.
Engaging employees, regardless of their generation, is essential for a motivated and productive workforce. Partner with employees in planning their career paths within the organization, providing clear guidance and support to help them achieve their goals.
Furthermore, embrace flexibility in your company culture. Prioritize accommodating employees’ worklife balance needs, demonstrating genuine support and care for their lives beyond the workplace.
Having a multigenerational workforce can be positive for your business and its bottom line. Make sure you are prioritizing fostering good relationships and building a company culture that will promote long term careers and, ultimately, profits for your business.
IOWA FIELD REPORT | 17
Mergers & Acquisitions Business Law Succession Planning Wills, Trusts, & Probate 7155 Lake Drive, Suite 200 West Des Moines, IA 50266 www.KreamerLaw.com (515)727-0900
7155 Lake Drive, Suite 200 West Des Moines, IA 50266 Licensed in both Iowa and Nebraska INEDA Associate Member
Samuel I. Kreamer, J.D., C.P.A. email@example.com
ARA is a high-precision sprayer developed by Ecorobotix, which enables the ultra-targeted application of herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, or fertilizers. Ecorobotix will exhibit at both the Nebraska Ag Expo and Iowa Ag Expo this year.
WHAT’S TRENDING AT AG SHOWS FOR 2023-24
Last year with the partnership between the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Visit Lincoln, and the Nebraska Ag Expo, a portion of Pavilion 3 in the Lancaster Event Center was transformed into an “Innovation Hub” that
highlighted new ag products and start-up companies. With the success of the inaugural Innovation Hub, the Nebraska Ag Expo decided to increase the number of participants by 50 percent for 2023 and incorporate the same concept at the 2024 Iowa Ag Expo with the assistance of Iowa State
University and Ag Venture Alliance.
Due to earlier exhibitor prospecting efforts and successful previous trade shows, both the Nebraska Ag Expo and the Iowa Ag Expo are sold out for 2023 and 2024, respectively, which presented the
18 | FEATURE AG SHOW TRENDS
TOM JUNGE, Expo Director [firstname.lastname@example.org]
opportunity for the us to seek out new technology and start-up companies outside of our normal range to exhibit in the Innovation Hub.
This year, Iowa-Nebraska Equipment Dealers Association (INEDA) staff traveled to the World Ag Expo, three Canadian shows, two agribusiness conventions, and an ag start-up conference in Indiana in search of these innovative companies. Several products, services, and themes began to repeat themselves at these events.
Drones first made their appearance at the Nebraska Ag Expo and Iowa Ag Expo about four years ago as a scouting tool. Then they seemingly disappeared from all farm shows only to reappear last year—but this time as crop spraying tools.
Another change is that precision ag dealers with drones are now providing a spraying service, not strictly sales. I’m also hearing that aerial applicators want to fly drones so they can contract all the farmer’s acres, not just the open areas where they can fly. I’ve heard the same story with commercial applicators. There are so many companies wanting to exhibit at our shows with DJI drones that I am hesitant to add more. And speaking of DJI—they appear to be the only game in town, but that could be changing. I met a drone manufacturer from Canada and another Canadian company that both plan to introduce a new drone. I also spoke with an Israel company that is working on a hydrogen-powered drone. Two companies with fixed wing drones/planes are taking a different approach. A North Dakota company hopes to replace traditional aerial applicators with drones for pilot safety reasons. One thing is for certain—you will see drones at both the Nebraska Ag Expo and Iowa Ag Expo this year.
We’ve all seen electric lawn mowers and utility vehicles. Now there is also electric construction equipment for confined areas where diesel exhaust and noise can be issues. There are skid
loaders, mini-excavators, and mini-wheel loaders on the market. Solectrac and Monarch are the two leaders in electric compact tractors for now, but CNH just showed NH and Case IH 75 HP electric tractors at the Farm Progress Show. E-tractors are coming. Solectrac plans to exhibit at both the Nebraska Ag Expo and Iowa Ag Expo this year.
Reducing chemical usage is a hot topic due to the push for a cleaner environment. More companies are getting into the spot spraying game.
First was Greeneye Technologies. Then came John Deere See & Spray, and shortly thereafter, AGCO and CNH’s joint venture with BASF Bosch Smart Spraying. Lately, we are seeing other companies offering alternatives to the “large sprayers.” A few start-ups such as AgTech Logic are offering a conversion for traditional sprayers. Solinftec is offering a small, autonomous sprayer. Ecorobotix, a Swiss company, introduced their ARA Ultra-Targeted sprayer to the United States market in August. Ecorobotix and AgTech Logic will both exhibit at both shows.
Soil Health, Regenerative Ag and Reducing Carbon Imprint
There is probably nothing that stands out more at farm shows than all of the companies promoting soil health and how their biological product can reduce the amount of synthetic fertilizer to be applied.
You’ll hear about reactivating soil microbes and building up
FEATURE AG SHOW TRENDS | 19
soil to be more productive. Some companies promote root stimulants, microbes, nitrogen fixation, and other science that goes way over my head. Most of this is related to regenerative agriculture practices, which means more no-till, strip-till, and carbon credit discussions. You will find plenty of experts at the Nebraska Ag Expo and Iowa Ag Expo on these topics, including Pivot Bio, Azotic Technologies, and Holganix.
Data, Data, Data
That says it all. There are many companies working to collect data, integrate it, regurgitate it, and in the end, provide a simplified prescription for crop producers to increase yield, reduce input costs, and minimize crop production risk.
When I think of data, I think of the farmer that has 6-8 monitors in his tractor. It is overwhelming. It is only a matter of time until we find out who the winners of this category will be. Right now, my feeling is that producers are going to rely on the relationships that they have with suppliers for advice.
Who knows—you just might find the next electronic add-on in our shows’ Innovation Hubs!
For those dealers involved with livestock producers, there are some exciting new electronic monitoring tools that can track animals, record weight and temperature, and even scan for health issues. One company is working on an autonomous feed truck. Electronic and artifical intelligence products for cattle and poultry producers will mainly
be showcased at the Nebraska Ag Expo this year.
To summarize, there is a lot of new technology coming to agriculture, and it is INEDA’s mission to show our members in Iowa and Nebraska what other dealers won’t see in any other state. Maybe one of these products will be a niche market for your dealership.
If there is one thing that we want you to takeaway from this article, it’s this: make time to
attend the Nebraska Ag Expo on December 5-7, 2023 in Lincoln and/or the Iowa Ag Expo on January 30-February 1, 2024 in Des Moines.
If you really want to find out what is coming down the pipeline for agriculture equipment, plan to spend a couple of days at Agritechnica on November 12-18, 2023 in Hannover, Germany. It’s the leading ag trade show in the world, and it won’t happen again until 2025!
20 | FEATURE AG SHOW TRENDS
At the Nebraska Ag Expo, the inagural Innovation Hub was introduced in 2022 to showcase the most innovative ag companies and technology. This year, the Innovation Hub will expand by 50 percent to include 75 exhibitors.
DECEMBER 5-7, 2023 LANCASTER EVENT CENTER LINCOLN, NE WHERE AGRICULTURE MEETS INNOVATION. GET YOUR TICKETS ONLINE AT NEBRASKAAGEXPO.COM TO SAVE $5! www.nebraskaagexpo.com NEBRASKA AG EXPO FEATURE AG SHOW TRENDS | 21
FRAUD PREVENTION AND AWARENESS
Protect Yourself and Your Customers From Equipment Scams
Online equipment sales are on the rise, but just as the e-commerce landscape has expanded and become more sophisticated, so have cyber scammers.
According to Kara Figi, vice president of AgDirect business development, fraud is becoming more prevalent in the agricultural equipment space with scammers targeting both dealers and producers.
“Before COVID, our customer base didn’t buy a lot of equipment online,” Figi said. “They always wanted to kick the tires before they purchased something, but now everyone has become a lot more comfortable with online transactions.”
“Between that and limited availability of equipment, buyers are willing to purchase from sellers multiple
22 | FEATURE AGDIRECT
states away when they can’t find the machinery they need locally, and the bad actors have capitalized on that trend.”
Watch Out for Fake Dealer Sites
One of the ways today’s buyers must remain vigilant with their equipment purchases is avoiding fake dealer websites. Scammers will impersonate dealers, sometimes posing as former legitimate businesses, to trick buyers into believing the fraudulent site is reputable.
The original website domain may be confiscated to make it seem trustworthy, or in other cases, machinery listings may be lifted from other sites. The site may also feature pictures of a real dealership or equipment from an existing lot. When dealing with fake dealerships, phone calls are often forwarded to a voicemail where the scammer can monitor calls. The bad actors call back potential buyers, gain their confidence, and convince them to go through with the transaction. At the same time, this allows the scammers to avoid taking a call from someone they have already scammed into wiring funds for an asset that will never be delivered.
“Dealer scams are not happening locally because buyers expect to see the equipment and meet the salesman as part of the sales process,” Figi said. “With tight inventories, many buyers are willing to look five or six states away for the equipment they need and wire money to get the deal done.”
“Often it is several days later, when the equipment doesn’t show up and the ‘dealer’ no longer returns their phone calls, before the buyer realizes they have been scammed and their money is gone.”
Thanks to new digital content authenticity technology, AgDirect is now able to assist customers with verifying machinery listings by using an application that detects whether a photo of the equipment is real or if it has been manipulated in any way.
Figi said the software has already helped prevent four fraudulent transactions from taking place and that the tool will continue to give buyers confidence as more and more sales are conducted online.
Keep Your Data and Identify Safe
Identity theft is another area posing a threat to dealers and unsuspecting fraud victims. In 2022, the Federal Trade Commission reported consumers lost nearly $8.8 billion to fraud—an increase of more than 30 percent from the previous year.
In the agricultural equipment and financing space, scammers are using stolen identities and information to collect funds dispersed for approved machinery purchases. The used equipment sector is especially vulnerable, but if the logistics or location of the deal don’t add up—for instance, a California buyer looking to make an equipment purchase in New Jersey—that could be a red flag.
Data security is of the utmost importance at AgDirect. That’s why as an equipment financing leader, AgDirect is continuing to implement new fraud protection tools, including identify verification software.
“For every customer who submits an application with us online, they will automatically be sent a link that allows them to capture a photo of their driver’s license as well as a selfie image,” Figi shared. “Within a few seconds, the system will scan the images and tell us if they are a match.”
Tips To Protect Yourself and Your Customers
The promise of low prices or the sale of a rare piece of equipment are two triggers that are often used to target buyers in fraudulent schemes. Both scenarios can cause buyers to fall victim to bait and/or switch tactics. Bait: A too-good-to-be-true ‘for sale’ price can mislead the purchaser to think they are getting a good deal and will be rushed to close the transaction. In reality, there is nothing tangible for sale—just a phony transaction.
Switch: A legitimate transaction is about to occur, and all of a sudden, the wiring instructions change. The bad actor has compromised one of the seller’s email accounts and is waiting for an opportunity to interject new wiring instructions at the last minute.
Unfortunately, scammers know how to take advantage of a situation and feed on the emotion involved with making a big machinery purchase. It can be easy for buyers to get caught up in the moment or feel like they’re missing out on a good deal.
“If the deal seems too good to be true, then it probably is,” Figi added. “We’ve seen fraud come and go, but it spikes from time to time so it’s always a good idea to use caution when purchasing equipment online.”
Here are some of the steps you can take to help protect your business and your customers against online equipment scams:
FEATURE AGDIRECT | 23
• How confident are you in the seller?
• Have you worked with them before?
• Have you met the seller in person or seen the equipment in person?
• Is the seller pushing you to act quickly and wire money?
• Google the seller by name and keep an eye out for any reports of recent scams in your search results.
• Reference the Better Business Bureau to verify it is a recognized business entity and that the company hasn’t been compromised.
• Pull up the address of the seller on Google Earth, or better yet, visit the seller in person to confirm a brick-and-mortar location exists.
• Insist on seeing the equipment. Request a video call to view the equipment when shopping from a distance.
Consult With Others
• Read online comments from other buyers or reach out to other known buyers who have made a purchase with the seller before.
• Research the seller and products independently and compare prices with other websites to ensure legitimacy.
• Leverage the knowledge and relationships of your nearest AgDirect territory manager or other dealers in the area to determine whether the equipment is coming from a reputable seller.
Other Best Practices
• Never transfer money to someone you don’t know. A demand for wired funds can be a red flag as scammers often don’t have a way to cash checks.
• Safely store documents that have your personal information, including financial documents.
• Contact your credit bureau to lock or freeze your credit to prevent unauthorized access to your credit reports.
In addition to maintaining high security standards, AgDirect uses technology and countermeasures to help identify and prevent fraud so customers can buy equipment more confidently knowing additional steps have been taken to protect them.
The Federal Trade Commission and Federal Bureau of Investigation offer additional tips and resources for avoiding and reporting cyber scams and other fraudulent activity.
AgDirect offers competitive rates and terms for both new and used equipment. Apply online, check rates, quote payments and compare options with the free AgDirect Mobile application, or learn more about AgDirect equipment financing by locating your nearest AgDirect territory manager or contact the AgDirect financing team at 888.525.9805.
24 | FEATURE AGDIRECT
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE STRATEGY We work together to create INNOVATIVE & STRATEGIC SOLUTIONS • Brand Development • Website Development • Digital Marketing • Social Media • Streaming • Content Creation • Video Production IN PARTNERSHIP WITH Ag We are your FULL SERVICE MARKETING CONSULTANT CONTACT A SALES REP FOR MORE DETAILS 800.888.1380 | JOHN.COSTELLO@LEE.NET
DOL Proposes Over 50% Increase in Salary Threshold for Overtime Pay Exemption
On September 8, 2023, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing an over 50 percent increase in the weekly salary threshold from $684 ($35,568 per year) to $1,059 ($55,068 per year) to qualify for a “white-collar” overtime pay exemption.
FLSA White-Collar Exemptions
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires covered employers to pay employees a minimum wage (currently $7.25 per hour) and, for employees who work more than 40 hours in a week, overtime premium of at least 1.5 times the employee’s regular rate of pay.
The FLSA exempts from the minimum wage and overtime pay requirements “any employee employed in a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity.” The exemption is referred to as the “white-collar” or executive, administrative, or professional exemption. The federal regulations implementing the white-collar exemptions require the following three tests be met:
JERRY L. PIGSLEY Attorney, Woods Aitken Law Firm [email@example.com]
26 | FEATURE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
1. The employee must be paid a predetermined and fixed salary that is not subject to reduction because of variations in the quality or quantity of work performed;
2. The amount of salary paid must meet a minimum specified amount; and
3. The employee’s job duties must primarily involve executive, administrative, or professional duties as defined by the regulations.
The employer bears the burden of establishing the applicability of the exemption. Job titles and job descriptions do not determine white-collar exemption status, nor does merely paying an employee a salary.
New Salary Level
The DOL’s proposal changes the second test (salary level test) by increasing the salary level from the 20th to the 35th percentile of weekly earnings of full-time salaried workers in the lowest-wage Census Region (currently the South).
In 2016, the Obama DOL unsuccessfully sought to increase the salary level to the 40th percentile, which was challenged in the courts and replaced by the Trump DOL. The Trump DOL issued a new rule, returning it to the 20th percentile—which was not challenged in the courts.
The DOL is also proposing to automatically update the salary level every three years based on thencurrent wage data. The DOL is not proposing to change the duties list. The DOL is proposing to set the required annual salary for the highly compensated employee exemption from $107,432 per year to $143,988 per year (based on the 85th percentile of full-time salaried workers nationwide).
Notice and Comment Period
The DOL’s proposal is subject to a 60-day notice and comment period which ends November 7, 2023. Following the notice and comment period, the DOL will consider the comments and likely publish the final rule which will be effective next year. Based on the history of this change, the new rule will be challenged in the courts.
Planning for Change
Iowa-Nebraska Equipment Dealers Association (INEDA) members will need to evaluate their workforce to identify employees who earn less than
$1,059 per week and are classified as exempt (e.g., not paid overtime).
Some of the options available to deal with this change include: increasing an exempt employee’s pay to satisfy the new salary threshold, initiating a fluctuating week pay plan, hiring additional employees to alleviate the need for current employees to work overtime, and converting salaried employees to hourly pay.
Nebraska’s State Law
Nebraska’s minimum wage increases from $10.50 per hour to $12.00 per hour on January 1, 2024, $13.50 per hour on January 1, 2025, and $15.00 per hour on January 1, 2025.
There is a “white-collar” exemption under Nebraska state law from the minimum wage. There is no overtime pay requirement under Nebraska law, only under federal law.
Iowa’s State Law
Iowa’s minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. Iowa state law requires employers to pay the state hourly wage or the current federal minimum wage, whichever is greater. Iowa state law includes the “white-collar” exemptions found in federal law as to minimum wage. There is no overtime pay requirement under Iowa state law.
Overtime Exemption for Employees Paid Commissions by Retail Establishments
Section 7(i) of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act provides an overtime exemption for commissioned employees: (1) who work at a retail or service establishment; (2) whose regular rate of pay exceeds one and one-half times the federal minimum wage; and (3) whose earnings in a representative period are composed of more than 50 percent commissions.
FEATURE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR | 27
CINDY FELDMAN, Marketing Director [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Each one of us is a communicator. Humans are texting, tweeting, and speaking more words than ever, and it is extremely challenging to be heard in these times. Do it well—or find someone who can.
Everyday decisions––both big and small––have become increasingly complex due to the overwhelming abundance of choice. For Americans, choice is the hallmark of individual freedom and selfdetermination. But having too much choice can be detrimental––resulting in decision-making paralysis, anxiety, perpetual stress, and even clinical depression.
The Rain and Fog of Words Everywhere
Never in the history of humanity have we uttered more words in more places with more velocity. Why does this matter? This new and exhausting phenomenon has jammed our inboxes, paralyzed workplaces, and clogged our minds. We are now a prisoner to words. Writing them. Reading them. Listening to them…Emailed. Tweeted. Texted. Our frazzled minds scroll, skim, click, and share, yet feel more scattered, impatient, and inundated as we scroll, skim, click, and share!
On average we spend fewer than 15 seconds on most of the web pages we click. Another study found that our brain decides in 17 milliseconds if we like what we just clicked on. If not, we zip on. And we share most information, whether it be a story or an email, without bothering to read it! Have you ever been tempted to reply back to an email with “TL;DR” (the abbreviation for “TOO long; DIDN’T read!”)?
I know I have. Our attention spans are now shorter than goldfish... We went from 12 seconds to just 8 seconds. Our waking time is dedicated to this noise and useless stuff, and even our sleep is interrupted by this madness!
This constant chase of instant gratification or just more laughs, a nugget of information, a connection, a like, a share, a snap… This pursuit makes it harder to focus, resist checking our phones, remember stuff, or notice what really matters!
Did you know on average we check our phones 344+ times per day––that’s once every 4 minutes, at least?! What percentage of people do you think check their phone in the bathroom? The correct answer 73 percent! Mostly we’re feeding a fix of dopamine jolts that come from yet more texts, tweets, googling, videos, or posts. Click. Click. Click…
This exploits two human flaws at once: most of us are terrible multitaskers, and we struggle to focus once our attention is grabbed by something else. On average, it takes most people 20 minutes to snap back into focus after a distraction.
This growing fog has two root causes: technology and our stubborn, bad habits.
1. The internet and smartphones opened the floodgates for everyone to say and see everything on sale, for free, instantly, and always. We can share every thought, post when proud or mad, Google when confused, and watch videos on any topic at any time.
2. People keep banging out emails, letters, memos, papers, stories, and books like it’s 1980. Think about it: we know everyone has less time, more options, and endless distractions––yet, we keep coughing up the same number of words, written the same way we have been writing for generations.
The Epic Challenge and the Answer
How do you get anyone to pay attention to anything that matters in this mess? You adapt to how people consume content––not how you wish they did or how they used to once upon a time. Then, YOU change how YOU communicate… using Smart Brevity.
What Is Smart Brevity?
The best solution to handle the fog of words is to motivate people to generate and absorb a considerably lesser number of words. This is known as Smart Brevity. It is a plan for having clearer thoughts, expressing more sharply, and saving time for everyone. It directs you to use fewer words to express more!
28 | MARKETING VIEW
Some people believe brevity dumbs communication down, but that is false. The brevity wave, led by the workforce and consumers, is actually artful and beautiful.
Adapting Smart Brevity
Whether you are a student, salesperson, or leader of an organization, Smart Brevity will make your messages clear and memorable, so everyone stays aligned and inspired. This use of brevity is about “change management and culture management.”
This is our new superpower! Readers everywhere want to know WIIFM (what’s in it for me)?!
Effective Brevity = Do More With Less
Let these be your guiding principles:
• Authority: When you speak, either be the expert— or find one.
• Brevity: Keep your communication short but not superficial.
• Humanity: Write the way you speak.
• Clarity: Format and edit for maximum effect.
Smart Brevity equips people with a lot of power. It teaches you to be smart, concise, witty, and impactful in your communication. It further teaches you to be interesting and considerate while communicating. And it enables you to make a mark on people who hardly read anything in detail and skim everything.
If you want vital information to stick in the digital world, you need to radically rethink––and repackage––how you deliver it.
• Start by accepting that most people will scan or skip most of what you communicate––so make every word and sentence count.
• Share MORE value in LESS time.
• Put your readers first. People are busy and have expectations of the precious time they give you. All they usually want to know is what’s new and why it matters. Give them that.
• Change your methods and style for reaching readers. Now.
Start with yourself! Restructure your subject lines and emails. Reconsider your work communications. And prepare to get noticed!
• Supervisors and peers will pay attention to— and appreciate you—for saving them time and offering useful context.
• 70 percent of EEs desire shorter communication pieces at work!
• Only 50 percent of EEs thoroughly read what their leaders send them.
• Use bullets in press releases and other written documents. It offers the reader better scan-ability.
• Most people share content without reading it.
• Train staff to be clear and concise with SUBJECT lines and write short emails.
• Use a muscular tease, BOLD header, and bullets.
• Think of an email as an INVERTED PYRAMID: the most important info on top (critical info), the less important info next (supporting info), and the “nice to know” stuff (additional information) either attached or at the bottom.
• STOP with the “thank you for the thank you” emails and the “reply all” sends.
Your Social Media
• Social media is a close-range battle of attention combat. You just have a fraction of a second to capture someone’s attention on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. By offering something to your audience, such as a score, a hoot, or a notion, instead of asking them to perform an action or click––to offer something to the reader so they will be involved with your content and the algorithms will start to bear fruit.
Sources: Smart Brevity by Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen, and Roy Schwartz and The Paradox of Choice—Why More is Less by Barry Schwatz
MARKETING VIEW | 29
Iowa-Nebraska Equipment Dealers Association 8330 NW 54th Ave. Johnston, IA 50131-2841 Presorted Std. U.S. Postage PAID Des Moines, IA Permit No. 762 CHANGE SERVICE REQUESTED In 2023, AgDirect ® has been celebrating 25 years of simple, fast and flexible financing. As we approach the end of this milestone, we want to take one more opportunity to thank you for your support and valued business. From our team to yours, Happy Thanksgiving! AgDirect is an equipment financing program offered by Farm Credit Services of America and other lenders, including participating Farm Credit System Institutions.
OH WHAT A YEAR!