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environment, spoken communication is more important than ever. Pick up the phone or meet in-person as often as possible for more rewarding relationships and bonds.

Effective internal operations While communication is vital, how the company is functioning and the benefits we offer our employees also impact longer-term retention. By consistently reviewing the company’s inner workings, asking for feedback and implementing change, we show the willingness to be our best and honor a culture of continuous improvement. The list below provides thought provoking prompts to use in reviewing your firm’s operations. l When was the last time you had a new insurance broker analyze

your current insurance plan? We desire, from what types of social had not reviewed our insurance in events to hold to how we can detail for years, and when a new improve our benefits to employees. broker bid for our business, we disWith this knowledge we can make covered significant cost savings with efficient, meaningful, and cost-effecincreased employee benefits. tive changes. l Is your goal setting and review l What retention programs do you process effective and efficient? Last offer? Consider a program such as a year, we streamlined our process profit sharing plan, which most 401k with three focus areas (Aspire, providers will offer at no charge. The Accountability and Acumen), yet we program benefits include additional were still using a cumbersome worktax deduction, vesting schedule for flow. For 2016, we removed the retention and more flexibility than workflow altogether by instead using 401k (you set the parameters for our Dropbox folders with one spreadinclusion, whereas 401k plans sheet with appropriate access perrequire you to offer the same benemissions. We are saving $4,000 annufit to each employee). ally with this small change! l What enhancements can you make l How often do you survey your to your vacation policy? Our more employees? We have found that surtenured employees were thrilled veys throughout the year ensure with the addition of more floating that we know what our employees holidays based on years of service.

In closing, effective communication skills—whether in dealing with a challenge or announcing an organizational change—foster success in life, work and relationships. Internal operations based on intentional communication and a willingness to change lead to an open, vibrant corporate culture that more easily fuels ongoing success. By focusing on compassionate and continuous communication, we can more accurately know our employees, quickly come to resolutions, and build a firm that nourishes our employees all year long. Kerry W. Elam is managing director of operations and human resources with Actualize Consulting. She may be reached by phone at (703) 868-1506, email kelam@actualizeconsulting.com or visit ActualizeConsulting.com. 63

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