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March 2020

What Learning Objectives are Compatible with eLearning?

What Learning Objectives are Compatible with eLearning? 1212 798 VP Legacies

There are so many different ways to teach a course for professional development, including live lectures, long online lectures, and the latest trend that’s definitely here to stay – eLearning. At this point, you’ve probably heard a lot about this model, but you may not be sure about the best ways to use eLearning to meet your company’s objectives and professional development goals.

It’s essential to deliver quality learning objectives that will motivate and grab your learners. First, you need to understand that no two learners are the same. By tailoring your lessons, you excite and inspire all learning styles. Here’s a guide to learning objectives and whether or not they’re compatible with eLearning.

What is eLearning?

E-learning is the latest in cutting edge strategies for knowledge dissemination. It’s commonly used by high schools, universities, and businesses as a way to increase flexibility and accessibility. These online courses can be accessed remotely by off-site employees and they can increase engagement by making use of multiple media formats. As a result, you’ll see higher levels of employee satisfaction and retention.

What Are Learning Objectives?

Learning objectives are a clear set of goals that shape how a learner engages with the material at hand. Once you’ve figured out what objectives your learners need to meet, create clear goals so your learners know exactly what is expected of them.

To know if your learners are engaged, ask yourself these questions: are my learners actively taking part in class? Are they asking questions to seek clarification? Are they delving into thought provoking conversations throughout the course?

If the answer is yes, that means your learning goals are clear. To motivate learners, you need to understand the diverse ways people learn. Learning goals aren’t just about what employees learn, but how they learn it.

Specific learning goals include developing professional and task-based skills, like learning how to use social media, understanding the functionalities of a new web platform, or learning how to perform a daily operation at your business.

General learning goals can be broadly applied to all or most eLearning platforms. For instance, all eLearning modules should strive to foster improved communication, better engagement, and a Personal Connection® to your brand. To make this happen, VP Legacies deploys a three-step process to eLearning. Through discovery, development, and deployment, we identify your company’s successes and pain points. Then, we use these for custom elearning development and help you implement it within your team. 

How Learning Objectives Apply to Your Business

The challenge is creating clear learning objectives that all learners understand and are able to attain. It’s important to ask yourself some questions when creating these objectives. Create communication objectives for your custom eLearning program. This will allow your learners to understand the knowledge you wish to convey. They’ll recognize what fundamental information they should be absorbing. Your learners need to be connected to the training itself. This is where engagement objectives are especially handy. They aim to keep the learner invested in their training. Explain to your learners how they will benefit from this training. 

When learners are engaged, they remember more. The more motivated and interested your learners are, the more inclined they will be to take additional courses. Your courses could include any number of professional skills. This includes listening skills and communicating with colleagues. You could also focus on management and computer literacy. Advanced program knowledge, interpersonal relationships, and adhering to timelines are all great topics.

How to Create Clear Learning Objectives

a group of individuals in professional suites collaborating and shaking hands

It is crucial that businesses understand what drives their employees. Ninety four percent of employees would stay with their current employer if there were continued learning opportunities. To provide successful learning opportunities, you need to clearly communicate the objectives of your professional development plan. Courses for professional development should be a mutual opportunity for you and your employees, helping you streamline your business while nurturing career-long skills for your co-workers. Learning objectives, then, should align with your company’s brand but also give employees an opportunity to acquire useful professional skills.

Elearning courses prove especially useful in making learning objectives clear because they break everything down into small steps. Elearning courses make use of microlearning, meaning that employees have the opportunity to complete small modules that are part of a bigger picture. With a clear goal for each step of the way, eLearning gives participants a sense of accomplishment and purpose. Your learners should know exactly what they will have achieved throughout the course.

Related: eLearning vs. Microlearning: What Are the Differences?

Professional Skills and Short-Term Objectives

Opportunities for eLearning allow employees to expand on their knowledge base. It also allows them to feel like contributing members of a team. They’re able to relay new and exciting information to members of their team while putting into practice hard skills. Learners can choose to take short term eLearning classes in order to brush up on a skill or for learning something new. These employee training courses are cost and time effective, and often work around the employee’s schedule.

Long Term Goals

There’s a common misconception that eLearning is only good for short-term, task-based goals rather than long term goals. This is primarily because of the microlearning set up of many eLearning courses. However, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. First of all, you can use eLearning courses to supplement in-person professional development. eLearning can put reading material into practice, allowing employees to try out the skills that they’ve learned in training. eLearning gives the opportunity for repetition and incorporates quizzes to test knowledge, reinforcing what employees have learned to make sure they really know it.

Second of all, eLearning courses may be shorter in form, but they can be implemented over a longer period of time to chip away at long term goals. Short eLearning sessions doesn’t mean you can only use them for task-based skills. It means you can break down information into bite-sized pieces so employees can learn little by little and slowly implement key takeaways into their work. This includes value-based learning objectives like the next two we’ll discuss – communication and engagement. Long term eLearning classes are available for those who wish to receive certificates or degrees. Major benefits include flexibility in a schedule and the ability to learn remotely, from virtually anywhere.

Communication Objectives

As previously mentioned, better communication is a goal that all learning courses share. Whether it’s a specific course on communication or on something else entirely, professional development courses give you the opportunity to connect with your employees and find out what they’re thinking. When it comes to courses about communication, eLearning courses give employees the unique opportunity to test out methods of communication over different platforms. Verbal and written communication are important, and eLearning courses can be used to start conversations at professional development sessions. Since they’re online, you can also incorporate social media and other forms of digital communication. Our course, Personal Connection® 101, includes a section on verbal small talk as well as a section on instant digital communication.

Engagement Objectives

Any good learning course helps employees find ways to engage better. Engaging courses not only help them learn better, but they take this attitude with them into their work. Our courses at VP Legacies incorporate multiple media formats, including videos, text, and quizzes. We know that it’s important to engage employees on multiple levels. This helps you reach your goal as a company for improving workplace culture. Engaging courses will show employees that you’re willing to put in the effort to keep them happy and help them learn. This will motivate them and inspire a healthy workplace culture.

Collaboration Goals

Collaboration opportunities provide a sense of community and Personal Connection® within the workplace. This is something that employees crave. Employees that form bonds with colleagues will collaborate more comfortably. They will express their thoughts and ideas in an environment where they feel heard and respected. 

Professional Advancement

In addition, advancement opportunities should be available to all employees. This is where internal promotions play a huge part in keeping top level employees, and keeping them happy. Internal promotions work hand in hand with professional development. They both push the employee to acquire new skills and to continuously strive for excellence on a higher level. Provide opportunities for both, and you’ll have employees looking to stay for the long-haul. New employees seek a hiring process that makes the transition to their new role seamless. Communicating efficiently with new hires is important to establish effective internal corporate communications.

Providing Constructive Criticism

smiling group of individuals collaborating on a project

Adopt a plan for streamlined onboarding that makes new employees feel like valued members of a team. Assign them responsibilities from the get go. Encourage them to ask colleagues questions, and to open the lines of internal communication. Remind new employees of the importance of their thoughts and ideas. Offer constructive criticism and praise, but be careful how you present this information. Employees may misconstrue this criticism, especially during yearly reviews. Take time to discuss with your employees their strengths. Be patient, and work with them on any weaknesses.

Engaging communication, especially internal, ensures employees understand your company’s expectations. Communicate in a way that is appropriate and effective. All employees should understand their value to the company. There are other ways companies can provide ongoing learning. Achieve this through weekly lunches, sort of as an informal free talk. Provide opportunities for employees to discuss things they’ve recently learned.

Utilizing New Technology

In today’s digital world, new, exciting technology can get employees jazzed about a special project and can help boost morale. Using the latest technology is a worthwhile learning objective that can help streamline the workplace and increase Personal Connection®. This in turn can provide opportunities for collaboration. eLearning tells employees that your company is aware of trends in technology and has an interest in adopting these new tools. Will this keep employees with the company for years to come? Absolutely.

What’s It All Mean?

Employees want to learn. They want to feel like valued members of a team. They want to work collaboratively. They want to turnkey new information to colleagues. They strive for professional development. VP Legacies can provide opportunities for eLearning so employees can better themselves personally and professionally. Engage and motivate learners to create learners for life, eagerly awaiting their next eLearning course. Create clear learning objectives that set measurable goals. Have realistic expectations, and provide pertinent content that your learners will benefit from. Remember to be engaging and know your audience when creating learning goals. A valued employee is a long-term employee. 

Find out more about retaining high-level employees and providing quality eLearning opportunities.

A man who struggles with anxiety holds his head in his hands.

The Top 7 Tips on How to Deal With Anxiety at Work

The Top 7 Tips on How to Deal With Anxiety at Work 940 627 VP Legacies

The Top Tips on How to Deal With Anxiety at Work

Most of our lives are centered around our careers. Our jobs provide money for the things we need. As a result, we often feel the pressure to outperform ourselves and succeed to the highest degree.

Naturally, this can lead to anxiety. Anxiety to perform well, get along with our co-workers, and stay in our boss’s good graces. However, while some of these stressors help drive us to become the best versions of ourselves, they can also lead to crippling anxiety.

At VP Legacies, we strive to make your workplace environment healthy by creating channels for positive Personal Connection®. Follow along as we dive into our top seven tips on how to deal with anxiety at work, where it comes from, and how it can affect you.

Related: Why Empathy in the Workplace Matters

Why Do You Get Anxious?

First, let’s talk about why you get anxiety.

For many people who suffer from social anxiety, there’s a level of nervousness that presents itself simply from being around others. However, there are a wide variety of jobs, work environments, and causes behind work-related social anxiety.

To learn how to deal with anxiety at work, you must first establish where the anxiety comes from. Here are the two most common sources.

High Expectations

The business arena is a dog-eat-dog world. More than 50 percent of small businesses fail within the first five years. If the company you work for isn’t better than it’s competitors, it will soon go under and you would be out of a job.

There’s a reason your boss pushes for efficient work environments and ever-improving productivity. Unfortunately, these high expectations from above can lead to overwhelming anxiety, which can have several negative side effects.

Tip #1 – Learning how to deal with anxiety at work means learning how to communicate openly with your boss. Don’t agree to improbable deadlines or take on more than you can handle. Ask for clarification if you’re confused or need more guidance. 

Related : Tips for Having a Tough Conversation With your Boss

Facing New Scenarios

Another common source of anxiety in the workplace comes from facing new and potentially “scary” scenarios at work. What if you can’t handle it? What if you somehow embarrass yourself?

In a growing and thriving business, new scenarios are inevitable. They’re also desirable. By embracing new scenarios and responsibilities, you can grow with the company, improve your skillset, and learn new things, making yourself increasingly valuable to your employers.

Tip #2 – Accept that anxiety isn’t reality; it is a limiting fear of a possible event that may never happen. The more you indulge those negative thoughts and feelings, the more you will be crippled by them and lose opportunities to build Personal Connection® with those around you. Stay conscious about the things you’re telling yourself and shape them into positive thoughts.

Related: Crisis Management for Businesses

How Anxiety Can Affect You

As we have already suggested, anxiety can be a debilitating mental disorder. Learning how to deal with anxiety at work is vital for your performance but also your sense of well-being. Failing to address your anxiety can lead to several negative outcomes, such as:

  • Inability to focus
  • Irritability
  • Poor performance
  • Lack of communication
  • Distancing yourself from co-workers
  • Nervous habits (excessive eating, chewing your fingernails, restlessness, fidgeting, etc.)
  • Potential disciplinary actions

Tip #3 – Some anxiety at work is unavoidable. Learn to embrace the natural feeling of discomfort and work through it by turning your thoughts outward toward the task, rather than focusing on your anxiety. 

Facing Anxiety in Different Scenarios

Let’s take a closer look at different scenarios in the workplace that may cause you anxiety. Keep in mind, once again, that some of these scenarios do entail a certain level of expected anxiety. The key is learning how to overcome debilitating or detrimental anxiety.

Daily Interactions

Daily interactions is an especially important area to focus on how to deal with anxiety at work. Soft skills are an important part of everyday life at work.

Soft skills refer to your ability to communicate and get along with others. While it may be your anxiety keeping you from speaking with others, it may be misinterpreted. Your co-workers may find you unfriendly or your boss may see you as uninvested.

Tip #4 –  Educate yourself on and practice soft skills. For example, learn everyone’s name and something important about them. Say “hi” or acknowledge people in passing and avoid gossiping. You can educate yourself on soft skills by taking a look at our Personal Connection® 101 course. If you’re a manager, you can implement it as part of ongoing training.

Small Meetings

Three employees on their laptops hold a small meeting.

For some people, a small meeting may pose a bigger opportunity for anxiety than larger meetings. They’re more intimate and it’s probably inevitable that the attention will fall on you at some point.

However, small meetings are vital for increasing productivity and critical thinking. It’s important that you’re fully present and involved. This is not a good time to retreat into yourself and shy away from the conversation.

Large Meetings

If larger groups of people intimidate you, learning how to deal with anxiety at work may be vital for functioning in bigger meetings. Fortunately, in bigger meetings, you’re less likely to be in the spotlight. However, should the spotlight fall on you, you need to be able to speak and perform.

Tip #5 – Avoid obsessing over the room’s attention falling on you. Instead, focus on what the speaker is saying. This will help you stay in the moment and soften the internal monologue of negative thoughts in your head.

One-On-Ones

One-on-one scenarios, especially with executives or people with management positions, can be exceedingly difficult for people who suffer from social anxiety. In these scenarios, you have the undivided attention of the person across from you. This can be made worse if the one-on-one is with your boss. 

Once again, we encourage you to direct your attention outward. Don’t get sucked into worrying about how nervous you are, how you look, what they’re thinking about you, and so on. Remember that it doesn’t have to be scary, and this is one of the best chances to really get to know someone and build Personal Connection®.

Giving a Speech

A man in a blazer gives a speech.

In America, people’s biggest fear is public speaking. It’s normal for you to have anxiety before speaking in front of a group of people. However, if it’s part of your job, it’s something you’ll have to learn to overcome.

Tip #6 – Focus on the facts and the issue at hand. While it may feel overwhelming to have all eyes on you, remember your purpose for being there. Focus on using neutral language (“I think, I feel”) and ask for input to keep everyone involved.

Realizing Discomfort is Normal

Finally, we spoke earlier about how certain levels of anxiety are normal, and can even be good. If there was nothing new, nothing challenging, and nothing uncertain in life, we would be a truly boring existence. 

Not only is it normal for you to feel anxiety, but everyone around you feels it too. While some may be able to handle it better or in different ways, understand that you’re not alone.

Tip #7 – Practice radical acceptance that certain moments in life and at work are going to be uncomfortable. Embrace these moments for what they are – the ultimate teachers. Most of our significant growth happens through pain and discomfort.

Do You Need Help Learning How to Deal With Anxiety at Work?

If you want to advance in your career and thrive in life, learning how to deal with anxiety at work is paramount. However, depending on the severity of your anxiety, you may not be able to do it on your own, and that’s okay. We can help.

Take a look at some of our courses, like Personal Connection® 101, designed to immediately create positive changes in your life. 

Related: What is the Personal Connection Crisis?

How to Maintain Real Connections with Your Professional Network

How to Maintain Real Connections with Your Professional Network 1214 614 VP Legacies

When was the last time you worked on building your professional network? If you can’t remember the last time you made a new professional connection or made the effort to attend a networking event, this is a post you need to read.

Networking is essential for improving your career, and it’s something that every professional should do regardless of how much experience they have or how long they’ve been working. 

If you find that you don’t enjoy networking, it’s possible that it’s because you haven’t been focused on making real connections. 

Approaching every networking opportunity with a robotic-like focus on getting a business card won’t be helpful for anyone involved. You start to see the true benefits of networking when you focus on making actual connections with everyone there. 

It’s time to change your approach to networking. We’re going to teach you why networking is important, why you should take an approach of Personal Connection®, and some strategies for building authentic connections with people you meet. Here’s VP Legacies’ guide to networking with genuine enthusiasm and authenticity.

Related: What is the Personal Connection Crisis?

The Importance of Networking

Some people have a problem with networking because they feel awkward making connections for business purposes. Or it’s possible that they don’t feel comfortable in social situations. 

Regardless of how you feel about networking, you should know that it’s something that’s absolutely essential for any professional to do. Not only is it essential, but it’s one of the fun parts of your professional life. You get to meet people, learn, and generate ideas together.

Are you curious about why networking is so important? Here are a few good reasons why everyone should try to network.

Climb the Career Ladder

Being noticed at important networking events can be just as important as making connections at them. 

When you go to networking events, you build your reputation as a knowledgeable and reliable person. It shows that you’re interested in growing your skillset and are engaged in the local business ecosystem.

When you expand your professional contacts, you open yourself up to learning about potential new opportunities for business. This can be good if you’re planning on finding a new job soon, or if you want to grow your business.

Remember, you may not meet who you want at an event, but when you make connections you open yourself up to each individual’s network. The Personal Connection® you make tonight could lead you to an even better connection in the future. And, it’s not always about quantity. If you find someone whose interests align with yours, invest the time to really get to know them and maybe find a time to meet later on.

Expand Your Knowledge

Making connections can help you grow your own personal skillset.

When you meet someone in the same industry, you can talk about shared professional experiences. You’ll be able to talk about what’s worked for you in certain situations and brainstorm new ways to overcome some of the problems you face.

Networking opportunities can also be a great place to absorb knowledge from heavy hitters in your industry.

Plenty of professional meetup groups hold monthly talks. You can get important tips on building your career or learn important skills. At some point, you may even consider giving a talk and building your professional standing in the community.

Get New Ideas

It’s very easy to get stuck in a rut professionally. You’re so focused on the day to day work that goes along with maintaining a company or doing your own job that you can lose focus on the ultimate goal of growth.

Build a Talent Pool

It’s important to keep in mind that business owners aren’t the only people that need to pull from a network of professionals from time to time. 

You never know when you’re going to need help at work. Whether you need to hire an executive or need to redesign your website, networking can help you find the talent you need.

Why Personal Connections Matter in Networking 

You’re networking for professional reasons, but that doesn’t mean that the relationships you build aren’t authentic. When you make a Personal Connection® in your professional network, you open yourself up to so many more opportunities. 

When professional opportunities arise, the person you connected with is more likely to come to mind as opposed to someone you had a quick exchange with at a networking event.

You also open yourself up to having a fulfilling relationship that can grow into a friendship. Connecting with people in life can be rare enough, so you should view any opportunity as a time to potentially build a relationship.

It’s rare to find a true friend that you can also talk about professional matters with. Imagine having someone you can trust like a friend, and also work with like a business partner.

Build Real Connections with Technology

Now that we’ve gone over the benefits of networking and building real connections, it’s time to think about ways for you to make personal connections with people. 

Thanks to technology, it’s easier than ever to stay in touch with people and build connections. Use these tools when you want to build your professional network and create personal connections.

Utilize Social Media 

Social media isn’t just good for posting memes and keeping in touch with family members. When you utilize it correctly, you can easily build your professional network and deepen your established connections. 

LinkedIn has become the de facto social platform for people that want to network. The platform is a great resource for building professional connections, but it’s not the only one out there.

Consider looking for niche platforms that cater to your industry. Designers should consider making an account on Dribbble and programmers should look into building up their presence on Github.

When you utilize social media to build connections, don’t just focus on finding people to follow or friend. Post your own original content and use the right tags so people can find you. 

Once you get to know someone better, consider adding them on other social networks. Do a quick search for their name on other platforms and see how many different ways you can connect with them.

People can behave in different ways based on the platform they’re on. Following someone’s Instagram or Twitter profile can give you insight into their life that LinkedIn never could. 

Write an E-mail 

A woman composes an email on her laptop

When was the last time you wrote someone a friendly e-mail? Sometimes just writing a few sentences can be enough to build a real Personal Connection® with people.

If you really want to improve your chances of making a professional connection, use social media as a way to figure out the best time to check in with a connection over e-mail. 

Did someone recently add a new job to their LinkedIn? Have you noticed them posting about preparing to welcome a new baby to their family, or that they’re excited about an upcoming vacation? 

When you notice important things happening in their lives, don’t be afraid to send them an e-mail. They may appreciate that you’re thinking of them and give you the same courtesy of keeping up on your life.

Make Connections in-Person 

Technology can connect with other people, but you shouldn’t forget about the power of making connections in person. 

The personal touch of in-person interaction can help strengthen your relationship. Here are some tips on creating one-on-one and group interactions to improve your connections. 

Find a Group Event 

If you want to find a way to passively build connections and potentially expand other people’s networks, find a way to meet in a group. 

This can be as easy as sending a link to meetup or conference information to people over social media or an e-mail. You can start a large discussion thread for people you want to connect with. 

Are you having trouble finding an event to bring people to? Make an event of your own! 

Grab a table at a coffee shop and make a monthly get together for people to chat. This can allow you to curate the guest list and invite people you think would mesh well together. 

Connect on a One-on-One Level

Two employees connect after work.

If you feel that you do better when you can focus on one person, don’t be afraid to send an invitation to a one-on-one gathering. 

Offer to grab a drink after work for an impromptu happy hour, or schedule some time to have coffee in the morning. You don’t have to make these events long, sometimes just having an hour to talk can be enough.

Finding time during the workday may be the easiest way to meet up with someone. Offer to choose a location close to their work to make it easier for them to agree to a time.

Find New Ways to Connect

Building real connections can be the best way for you to make a professional network that can help you grow. Whether you do outreach with technology or try to meet people in person, you can’t deny the power of having a strong network. 

Do you want to learn about other strategies that can help you grow your business or personal brand? Are you curious about ways the people around you can create new social connections?

If you are, Personal Connection® 101 can help improve your social connections inside and outside of work. With lessons on communication during the digital age and how to create successful small talk, you’ll be able to engage with your colleagues, friends, and family in authentic ways.

Related: Why Empathy in the Workplace Matters

Man looking out of window

Social Distancing: Today’s Pandemic and Loneliness Epidemic

Social Distancing: Today’s Pandemic and Loneliness Epidemic 1350 900 VP Legacies

From Internet memes to local news reports, the phrase “social distancing” has taken center stage following the government’s recent measures to address the COVID-19 outbreak. On March 15, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidelines instructing that “for the next 8 weeks, organizers (whether groups or individuals) cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 10 people or more throughout the United States” and that “events of any size should only be continued if they can be carried out with adherence to guidelines for protecting vulnerable populations, hand hygiene, and social distancing. When feasible, organizers could modify events to be virtual.”

In response to the outbreak, the NBA has halted its 2020 season, popular events such as Austin’s SXSW Festival have been canceled or postponed, and a number of large workforces, such as Twitter, have mandated that their employees work from home. But social distancing seems to have developed beyond just avoiding large group gatherings and coworkers at the office. In an effort to avoid COVID-19 infection and prevent viral spread, many find themselves secluded at home without the support of social interaction. Here at VP Legacies, we help you find methods of meaningful connection while staying safe at home.

What Is Social Distancing?

The CDC defines social distance as the act of “remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible.” The CDC doesn’t strictly define “congregating” but has offered some examples of congregate settings: educational institutions, workplaces, mass gatherings, and detention facilities..”

The University of Chicago Emergency Management Program calls social distancing “a public health safety intervention used to reduce the likelihood of transmitting communicable disease.” And Harvard Medical School’s Coronavirus Resource Center categorized social distancing as a step taken to mitigate the impact of the illness: “social distancing…refers to actions taken to stop or slow down the spread of a contagious disease. For an individual, it refers to maintaining enough distance between yourself and another person to reduce the risk of breathing in droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. In a community, social distancing measures may include limiting or cancelling large gatherings of people.”

Woman wearing surgical mask

Though definitions of social distancing differ slightly across various outlets, the general idea is the same. In the face of a global pandemic, humans are called upon to limit the spread of COVID-19 by maintaining distance from other people and avoiding large gatherings. Work from home practices, online conferences, and meetings are our new reality for the indefinite future.

Related: How To Personally Connect In the Midst of A Global Pandemic.

Why Social Distancing?

Why, many ask, must we practice social distancing at a time when connection and community might matter more than ever? The World Health Organization offers a straightforward answer to why we need to maintain a distance from people around us: “When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.” In the case of a communicable disease, one that is easily transferred from one person to another, health experts stress that social distancing can limit the exposure of bacteria and infectious disease to the rest of the community. 

 Flatten the curve infographSource: CDC

In exploring the necessity of social distancing, another catchphrase has emerged: “flattening the curve.” From an epidemiological standpoint, flattening the curve means taking actions that slow the spread of a viral infection so that the rate of cases and health effects on a population is spread out over time, thereby reducing the impact and demands on the healthcare system and other related industries. Social distancing is one means of flattening the curve, as well as “shelter in place” orders that local governments have enacted to slow the rate of infection.

Social distancing can protect vulnerable groups from infection as well. Studies on the first 17 deaths resulting from COVID-19 infection in China showed that the median age of those patients was 75 years old. Immunologists have also communicated that individuals with pre-existing conditions, such as high blood pressure and cardiopulmonary disorder, may be more susceptible to any illness, including COVID-19. As we learn more about the effects of the virus on the world’s population at large, social distancing has become an act of respect, care, and protection to the people around us, especially high risk groups such as the elderly or immunodeficient. 

Who recommends social distancing?

Federal agencies, including the White House, CDC, U.S. Department of Labor, and the Department of Homeland Security as well as state government agencies are recommending social distancing to flatten the curve of COVID-19 infection.             

Beyond a national level, the World Health Organization as well as experts across the globe have studied and are encouraging social distancing during the pandemic outbreak. From mathematicians to specialists in infrastructure and behavioral design to public health officials, social distancing has been touted as an effective means of containing the viral spread. 

How can social distancing protect you?

Social distancing is a virus containment method that can substantially reduce attack rates and protect you and your community from widespread infection. The outbreak has already put a strain on the nation’s economic resources and healthcare facilities. Active measures to participate in social distance will help not only the economy and healthcare industry, but bring business and resources flowing back into the communities once COVID-19 is contained.

Related: Stay protected and connected all at once with VP Legacies.

How has social distancing worked in the past?

The chart below compares the death rate in two different cities during the 1918 pandemic that wiped out one-third of the world’s population (that’s an estimated 500 million people) within a year of the outbreak.

Chart comparing death rates in St. Louis and Philadelphia in 1918Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences            

 During the outbreak of the 1918 pandemic, also known as the “Spanish flu,” local governments varied drastically in their methods of containing the outbreak. The city of Philadelphia experienced cases of influenza as early as September 17, 1918 but downplayed the gravity of the situation and did not take measures to enforce non-pharmaceutical interventions (such as social distancing, school closures, and shelter in place ordinances) until October 3, 1918. Philadelphia even proceeded with a city-wide parade on September 28, 1918, of which almost 200,000 people attended.                       

 As a result, by the time social distancing, cancellations of mass gatherings, and school closures were enacted on October 3, 1918 in Philadelphia, the city’s healthcare and public health resources were already overburdened by a surfeit of flu cases that amounted to 217 deaths out of 100,000 people per week.       

Compare this to the city of St. Louis, where first instances of the flu arose on October 5, 1918. The city responded quickly and by October 7, 1918, authorities had put into place social distancing measures designed to combat viral spread.At this time, people did not have the luxury of having the online resources to help them battle the struggles of Social Distancing. 

 Luckily, the fast response paid off: the city of St. Louis’s peak death rate was only 31 deaths out of 100,000 people per week. Philadelphia’s weekly rate of death was seven times that of St. Louis. Health experts studying this data concluded that aggressive social distancing measures implemented as early as possible following the outbreak were “significantly associated with a lower rate of mortality.”

How to Practice Social Distancing

The CDC, World Health Organization, and various health experts have been forthcoming with advice on how to practice social distancing. Some general advice for individuals, families, and businesses are:

  • Distancing yourself from others if you think you’ve been exposed to the virus
  • Isolation and quarantine of those that are already ill
  • Avoid coming in contact with those who may have been exposed to the virus
  • Cancel sporting events and other events of 10 people or more 
  • Stay home if you’re sick, except to seek medical care
  • Avoid unnecessary travel and large social gatherings of 10 people or more
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds according to proper hygiene standards after touching frequently used items or coming into contact with someone who is sick
  • If working in proximity to others, attempt to keep a distance of approximately six feet from the nearest person during work

Social distancing may even apply to contact with a family’s beloved pet. Harvard Medical School advises the following when it comes to our four-legged pals: “There have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, but the CDC still recommends that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets and wear a face mask.”     

Find out ways to stay personally connected with friends and colleagues even while practicing social distance. Check out VP Legacies’ course here.

Hand washing

Potential Emotional Effects of Social Distancing

Knowing social distancing helps to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 infection is one thing, but how do we as a society adjust to limited social interaction? There is no question that along with a pandemic of global proportions, fear and anxiety is mounting on an international level. What becomes of us as we distance ourselves in the name of virus containment while navigating an entirely new landscape of solitude, quarantine, and incessant handwashing?

Loneliness

Studies show that loneliness and isolation are serious health risks that especially affect older adults. As older adults are already at higher risk of infection, the effects of social distance upon this population are worrying. But it’s not only older folks who might suffer from social distancing. Cigna reported loneliness as an epidemic as early as 2018, before COVID-19 took root, noting that nearly half of 200,000 adults experience loneliness and the youngest adults in the group were the loneliest of all. 

Various medical studies show that both women and men who are socially isolated had double the mortality rate compared to those who were more socially integrated. More immediately, loneliness can lead to depressive symptoms, impaired immunity, higher rates of need for emergency medical treatment, and impaired optimization of positive emotions. 

Loss of energy

Though staying home all day sounds like a restful experience, an extended lack of social integration can actually lead to an overall loss of energy. Lack of social interaction has been found to cause fatigue, lowered quality of sleep, and increased cortisol responses upon awakening, which can lead to starting the day with a high level of stress. This can cause a person working from home to crash and burn a lot quicker than one who is working amongst social peers.

Reduced productivity

Loss of energy and loneliness leading to depression and a lowered immune system can likely contribute to reduced productivity, whether at a job or on personal projects at home. Whether a loss of friendly support causes illness, depressive symptoms, or general fatigue, these are all factors that inhibit a healthy level of productivity. Supporting medical studies show that “even minor levels of depression symptoms were associated with decrements in work function.”

How to Personally Connect in a World of Social Distancing

In light of distressing pandemic news flooding media outlets and people waiting out the storm alone at home, how can we battle loneliness, loss of energy, and lowered productivity? The good news is, unlike those who suffered from the 1918 pandemic, we have technology to stay connected during this challenging period. If you’re already battling bouts of loneliness, learn more about VP Legacies’ course, How To Personally Connect In the Midst of a Global Pandemic, here.

Woman talking on phone

Stay in touch over the phone

Smartphone technology is something we can take advantage of when feeling isolated or lonely. With the help of 4G connectivity and apps like Whatsapp and WeChat, isolated people across the world can stay connected and check on each other’s well being with the touch of a button. Facetime calls and group text chats are all helpful in maintaining a sense of community during social distancing.

Send check-in emails

The ease of sending e-mails is another means of communicating regularly with loved ones. Regular check-ins with friends and relatives can provide a meaningful connection that is sorely needed during this lonely time. 

Join Online Classes or Take a Virtual Course

Isn’t there something you’ve always wanted to learn but “never had the time?” Well, the time is now. Drawing, singing, and music lessons are available online and a creative outlet can help you express and release what you’re feeling now. Master classes for many subjects are popular as well, including scriptwriting and cooking. Many yoga and other fitness programs can be accessed remotely and are designed for you to do at home. Or take an online course to ramp up your skills at work. VP Legacies’ Elearning courses help you develop your personal and professional connection skills while connecting with caring instructors and classmates.

Share Your Expression

Did you create something beautiful during all those hours spent at home? Got a song to sing, a poem to read aloud, or a meditation practice that can help others? What about that article or video you’ve been wanting to post online? Here’s your time to shine. The world could really use your voice now that we’re in dire need of stimulation and inspiration. 

Hold training sessions and meetings online

Meaningful connections with work colleagues and business partners can also help you maintain a sense of purpose and productivity rather than languishing alone at home. For a culture that spends five out of seven days at work, many are left wondering “what happens if I don’t go to work?” Meeting and learning online may be a solution for those that find themselves worrying about how to spend their time while socially distancing themselves from the workplace. For more ways to connect meaningfully online, check out VP Legacies’ communication capabilities here.

Conclusion

Woman working on laptop from home

Without a doubt, we live in uncertain times right now. As researchers and medical professionals rush to help the sick and seek effective solutions to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, we can do our part by participating in social distancing to flatten the curve. 

But to care for ourselves and each other, we must find ways to connect and communicate with loved ones. For those who find themselves in solitude, it can be helpful to learn ways to establish connections online. To ensure those connections are resonant and meaningful, check out VP Legacies’ course on Personal Connection 101

Whether through phone calls, e-mails, or other forms of online communication, we owe it to ourselves to stay connected. Our health and well-being depend on it. 

How to Retain Top Level Employees (The Right Way!)

How to Retain Top Level Employees (The Right Way!) 1138 642 VP Legacies

The tech industry has the highest turnover rate out of all other business sectors at 13.2%. If you work in tech, this might not surprise you at all. Still, it’s getting more and more difficult to retain top level employees at any business and within any industry. On average, employees switch jobs every 4 ½ years.

But creating a strategy to keep top talent is a must if you hope to maximize your company’s success. Employees are your company’s best asset. Building genuine personal connections with your employees can help them envision a long-term career path at your business.

Empty promises and meaningless employee resources aren’t enough for your most talented employees. By focusing on communication and Personal Connection®, you can create an authentic retention strategy that truly works. VP Legacies creates courses around the value of Personal Connection® in the workplace. With this ideal in mind, here’s our guide to retaining top level employees.

Related: 9 Reasons Why Your Employees Are Your Company’s Most Valuable Asset

Interviewing and On-boarding to Retain Top Level Employees

Applying and interviewing can be an employee’s first impression of a company, so it’s important to get this stage right. The recruiting and application process allows you to show off your company culture. You can then find attributes in your candidates that are well-aligned with those of your company, making both the hiring and retention process easier.

A person’s resume is also a good opportunity to see if they often switch jobs and to ask them why. Maybe they’re looking for the perfect role and your company has that to offer them. But if they seem to be bouncing from one place to another, this may indicate that they don’t have a strong sense of loyalty or follow-through.

Another one of the first impressions of a company is its onboarding program. A positive onboarding experience will stick with an employee and give them a clue in to the kinds of professional development you have to offer.

Increasing Engagement Opportunities

employees having a discussion in a conference room with laptops

Retaining these employees also means increasing engagement. When employees feel disengaged, the company may start to see them leaving in large numbers.

Employee engagement goes beyond the initial weeks of on-boarding. If you’re first starting with creating an engagement strategy, you can rely on the opinions of employees.

Gather information from your employees with a survey of intelligent questions. This will give you a pulse-check on their feelings and help you think about ways to improve workplace culture.

Anonymous surveys can be a great way to allow employees to be open and honest without fear of repercussions. Use the information in these surveys to create an engagement strategy that will work for both the company and employees.

Only 33 percent of new employees feel engaged. To beat this statistic, companies will need to have a strategic approach to engagement. This is an important stage in retaining top-level employees within their first year.

To keep up with engagement, it’s essential to check-in with employees beyond their initial onboarding. Pair your engagement plan with an internal communication strategy to guarantee success.

Once you’ve gained an employee’s loyalty and engagement, they will expect to be paid based on industry standards.

Related: 9 Ways to Reduce Employee Turnover

Fair and Competitive Compensation

With sites like Glassdoor, employees are more informed than ever about industry standards for pay. If you’re not meeting these and making competitive offers, employees will know.

Revenue-sharing can be key here, as you’re tying a part of the employee’s wages to the company’s performance. This can help align their productivity with the company’s revenue and profit. So the incentive to stay with the company as it grows is tied to their compensation.

Another important aspect of compensation is an employee’s benefits package. This also helps to entice top talent during the hiring stage. A competitive benefits package is second to salary but can help to make an employee feel valued.

But an important aspect to keep top of mind is that the benefits program should not be so general that it could be applied to any employee. Targeted benefits packages create a more effective strategy for improving engagement and retention because they show that upper-level management has taken the time to connect with employees as individuals.

The rewards you give to employees should also stretch beyond financial compensation. All employees want to feel valued in ways that are not just monetary.

Genuine Employee Recognition

Employees appreciate the recognition that feels genuine and tied to their hard work. Giving awards in front of a large company audience can go a long way by making a top-level employee feel appreciated.

You can increase engagement by having department or company parties, along with other special events. Lunches with executives, free clothing with the company logo, and volunteer outings are all great options. All these efforts build good employee morale and provide a chance for them to connect with other top employees.

To remain competitive with hiring and retention, flexible schedules and paid time off will be considered.

Flexible Schedules and Generous Time Off

women relaxing on bed with a laptop and holding a hot mug

Today’s workforce wants flexibility in their schedules that allow them to be remote. When employees can work from home, you’re showing them that you’re willing to adapt to their home life and help them maintain a healthy work-life balance. Flexible hours and having the option to work from home (at least occasionally) keep employees happier and more productive. That’s because employees tend to be highly productive for 3 hours in an 8 hour day. Flexible schedules can allow them to take breaks when they need to, creating efficiency when they’re actually working. 

It’s also important to set work from home expectations and a clear policy ahead of time so that there’s no ambiguity. An employee will want to be set up for success while having a flexible schedule so that they can continue to enjoy this perk.

Employees also want generous time off for both vacation and sick days. Having breaks from work can be beneficial to an employee’s productivity and the relationship with their company.

It’s unreasonable to expect employees to keep operating at 100 percent efficiency without having time off to relax. Having breaks and relaxation time is important even on a day-to-day basis. Pacing work can be key to keeping employees efficient so they don’t easily burn out and become resentful.

No matter your work-from-home and vacation policy, it’s important to communicate clearly. You’ll run into fewer issues with your top level employees if you set guidelines in a way that’s easy to understand.

Related: Denver Startup Week: What To Do with Employee Engagement Data

Invest in a Professional Development Program

After you’ve hired top talent, you know they’ll be great at what they do. But it’s important to allow them to keep growing and enhancing their skills.

You can devote some of your resources to providing ongoing training, whether they are short eLearning modules, longer lectures and media courses, or a combination of all of the above. Companies have a great opportunity to provide online courses to their employees. This can help them improve their skills.

A mentorship program also helps employees grow. This can create a new pool of potential leaders by pairing more senior employees with newer ones. This type of training program can be a cost-effective strategy for building a positive company culture.

Once employees have loyalty for their company and a desire to build on their skills, they should also be allowed to grow from within.

If you continue to hire outside talent, the best employees will receive the message that their career path will be short-lived. Create paths to promotion and employees will want to stay put.

Employees Remember How You Make Them Feel

smiling man in professional attire and holding a book

Beyond having opportunities to advance, employees want to feel seen and respected. Indeed, people will always remember how you made them feel. Focusing on employee happiness creates an intangible sense of company loyalty within employees.

Having solid support systems from the highest level will allow managers to be respectful and help to grow a positive workspace. The managers will then take the support they’re given and help to support their contributors. Remember that an overworked and stressed employee will likely feel demoralized and disconnected from your team.

Also, if you want employees to be self-sufficient and productive, even while working from home, you want to show that you trust them to do so.

Giving employees new responsibilities shows that you value their abilities and know they are hard workers. It will also encourage them to continue to grow.

Related: What is the Best Strategy for CEO Communication?

Retaining Top Level Employees Will Help Your Company Succeed

It’s important to keep in mind that all this effort will go both ways. When you show employees respect, they will feel more enthusiastic about staying at your company. If you continue to create opportunities for advancement and give employees fair pay, they’ll remain engaged.

About 1200 CEOs left their jobs in 2019. To avoid your top talent leaving, it’s important to take the time to invest in the right strategies that will keep employees engaged and invested in your company. That means creating a strong recruitment plan that clearly shows your company’s identity and providing plenty of opportunities for employee feedback, recognition, and learning every year. Get started with VP Legacies to build an effective employee branding strategy. We’ll help you develop an actionable plan that reaches current and prospective employees on an emotional level.Connect with us to find ways to improve relationships at your company and retain top level employees.

Alt text: A man on the phone staring out the window to demonstrate instant gratification

How Does Instant Gratification Affect Workplace Culture?

How Does Instant Gratification Affect Workplace Culture? 1222 752 VP Legacies

Have you noticed friction in your workplace or workers that seem unable to focus on long projects?

Instant gratification appeals to some of the oldest parts of the human brain, so it’s no surprise we have to work hard to overcome the need for it. Yet overcoming that need has only become more difficult as society becomes better at indulging it. Workplaces can suffer as a result when this selfish instinct runs out of control.

At VP Legacies, we’re committed to helping you form real Personal Connection®, and we know that instant gratification can often get in the way. So what is instant gratification, and how can it affect workplace culture? Let’s take a closer look.

What Is Instant Gratification?

Instant gratification is, metaphorically, the grasping hands of a baby. We may grow out of the physical act, but the psychology of it remains with us.

When we have a desire, we want that desire filled as soon as possible. In nature, that’s a survival instinct. Yet it clashes with our more rational, organized selves and the society we’ve built around the idea of acting civilized.

Why Instant Gratification Is Becoming More Common

Like most animalistic habits, we can control the desire for instant gratification with willpower. Willpower is best cemented with habits, but modern culture has eroded our ability to delay gratification. It has introduced damaging gratification habits in its place.

Digital Culture

Young people sitting around a table with computers to show digital culture

Digital culture is notorious for having transformed our attention spans, which has the inevitable result of indulging the need for instant gratification.

We expect everything to load quickly, to deliver immediate feel-good sensations, and to connect us to the things we want. This goes for everything from replies to our messages to receiving same-day deliveries.

That conditions us to expect “yes” for an answer whenever we want something.

Related: Personal Connection in the Age of Social Media

Automation and Convenience

The increasing ability of society to respond instantly to our needs is the perfect partner in crime for restless, needy brains.

We can fulfill needs at the touch of a button, sometimes without moving anything more than a thumb on a touchscreen. When our own laziness is often all that stands between us and the third take-out meal this week, you can see the problem.

In a workplace, completing tasks with the press of a button can erode genuine problem-solving skills. When a problem comes up, employees can assume something is broken and that it’s someone else’s job to fix it. This promotes a “somebody else’s problem” attitude, and a sense of ownership disappears.

Related: A Retrospective of “Back to the Future” and Value-Based Technology

Globalization

A woman goes online shopping, an example of globalization in action

Globalization has also indulged our instant gratification by shrinking the world. It’s trivial to get what we want from anywhere around the globe. That goes for news and social interaction, new gadgets, or exotic food.

As with other factors, globalization has removed “no” from the answers we expect to hear when we ask for something.

Negative Implications of Instant Gratification

In a psychological sense, the need for instant gratification is at the root of bigger problems. 

Addictive Tendencies

If you’ve ever found yourself feeling itchy at the thought of leaving your smartphone in a different room or you’ve spent hours on a mindless gaming app, then you know the addiction brought on by instant gratification.

Taken to the extreme, the need for what many now call the “dopamine hit” can cause someone to abandon their responsibilities. Addictive personalities can disappear into the world of instant gratification.

Missed Opportunities for Learning Growth

Growth comes from challenge. When our opinions, skills, or visions for the future meet a challenge, we grow to meet them by evaluating, learning, and developing.

Instant gratification tells us there’s no need for any of that. When “yes” is the only answer, there’s no barrier to continuing on as we are—after all, it gets us what we want. Challenging this attitude is the only way to refocus on personal growth and development.

Undeveloped Relationships

Instant gratification is a selfish impulse. It inherently sets people against each other, because your gratification often comes at the expense of someone else. Interpersonal relationships demand sacrifice, even if it’s something as simple as putting your smartphone down to talk to your partner.

Why Maximizing Delayed Gratification Makes All the Difference

As we mentioned, delayed gratification is a matter of willpower, for which forming good habits is the most successful path. Delayed gratification leads to the development of better habits in turn.

Encourages Teamwork

Silhouette of hikers in the sunset to demonstrate teamwork

When goals are out of reach, we’re more willing to work with others to achieve them, and when instant gratification is off the table, it’s less likely to cause interpersonal friction.

In turn, this means employees will work together to achieve goals and take pride in their team. Achieving goals becomes a patient, collective task based on planning, communication, and interpersonal skills.

Related: What to Include In an Internal Communication Plan

Encourages You to Learn

Instant gratification can stunt growth. It’s one reason why the spoiled celebrity stereotype exist. When everything’s on-demand, there’s no reason to learn social skills or to better yourself to achieve your ambitions and unlock new opportunities.

While instant gratification incentivizes doing what you’ve always done, delaying gratification teaches you to do things in new ways.

Encourages You to Enjoy Your Relationships

The feel-good vibes that come with instant gratification are often an illusion. We don’t really enjoy clicking the same button 50 times, but our monkey brains think we do.

Once we break out of the instant gratification mindset, we discover the things we truly enjoy. Often, those are interpersonal relationships. These reward us in subtler ways over longer periods of time.

In psychological terms, instant gratification is to genuine enjoyment what fast food is to a nutritious meal.

Fosters Engagement on Multiple Levels

Delayed gratification can lead to a larger sense of mindfulness. With mindfulness, employees spend more time in the moment and less chasing future rewards.

This can foster engagement at all levels, making people more aware of their surroundings, their current work, and their interpersonal relationships. This can incentivize people to work on improving these without disappearing into the escapism of instant gratification.

The Instant Gratification Trap

A team eating lunch together instead of using electronic devices to show delayed gratification

By now, it should be clear that instant gratification can pose some major problems in the workplace. It can stunt the growth of employees, lead to interpersonal friction, and distract from company goals. On the other hand, putting in more intellectual and emotional work can have a bigger payoff if you just wait a little longer.

This is especially true for the way we interact with people. Take a look at our Personal Connection® 101 course to find out some of the ways communication has changed for better and for worse in the age of instant gratification. You’ll learn how to build and maximize your authentic relationships even though we’re surrounded by the digital.

Personal Connection Died On Mount Everest

Personal Connection Died On Mount Everest 1220 750 VP Legacies

Mount Everest is the most glorified mountain in the world and has attracted eager mountaineers from all over. In 1953, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay climbed the summit for the first time. Over 4,000 individuals have followed in their footsteps, daring the harsh climate and dangerous terrain for a few moments of glory. A recent phenomenon is overcrowding on Mount Everest – and this has proven to be deadly.

Mount Everest Traffic Jam Takes Lives

Not everyone who starts to ascend towards the summit makes it back unscathed or even alive. More than 300 people have died attempting to reach the summit of Mt. Everest. According to BBC, May 2019 has had more than 200 people at the peak, causing a traffic jam. Unfortunately, at least 11 people did not make it back to their camp. Most deaths were caused by avalanches, blizzards, injury from fall, altitude sickness, exposure, or frostbite. However, according to Sherpas and the climbers, the deaths this year were attributed to people getting held up in long lines for the last 1,000 feet.

People were not only being held up by the traffic jam, but were working completely independently from one another. Instead of a community of climbers looking out for one another and their livelihood, they were stuck in a line, and were very alone. Selfies and FOMO (the fear of missing out) took over, putting personal connection on the sideline. In short, Personal Connection® died on Mount Everest in May 2019.

Why is it Important to Get Off Mount Everest’s Summit Quickly? 

Mount Everest is the tallest mountain in the world. Therefore, it is literally the highest point on Earth with a height of 29,029 feet. The upper heights of the mountain area is known as the death zone. The death zone is a mountaineering term for altitudes above 8,000 m (26,000 ft) or less than 356 millibars (5.16 psi) of atmospheric pressure. At this point, the oxygen level is not sufficient enough to sustain human life. 

As a result, the human body cannot acclimatize, as it uses oxygen faster than it can be replenished. Therefore, the oxygen levels are only at a third of what they are at sea level, and the barometric pressure causes weight to feel ten times heavier. The combination of the two makes mountaineers feel sluggish, disoriented, fatigued and can cause extreme distress on the organs.

For this reason, climbers don’t usually last more than 48 hours in this area. Unable to get up and down fast enough to refill their oxygen supply, they succumb to the harsh, unforgiving conditions. On the other hand, some climbers are not fit enough to be on the mountain in the first place. Some untrained climbers have no clue how to put on a pair of crampons, or clip-on spikes that increase traction on ice.

When you combine the science behind the health risks with the inexperience Mount Everest attracts, it is paramount that climbers have each other’s backs. Even in our daily professional and personal lives in normal living conditions, Personal Connection® is the glue that makes life possible. It is in our biology and our history as humans to personally connect with people who have similar goals and passions. Therefore, even though climbers come from different cultures and ways of life around the world, the common thread should theoretically be the emotional love for hiking and striving for perfection.

Why Didn’t People Help Each Other On Top of Mount Everest? 

The problem is, our brains are slowly being rewired to want different things. Today, instant gratification is an innate part of our world culture. People want that perfect Instagram photo of themselves, by themselves, on top of the biggest mountain. Social media is a place where you put your best foot forward. It doesn’t matter how hard your life feels, or how depressed or anxious you are. If you are able to get that perfect shot, that perfect showcase of who you want to be, it is worth the 100 likes.

We cannot prove that this is what was going through any climber’s heads. This is our opinion based on what we have read and heard about the experiences people are having on Mount Everest. In addition, we are very fitness oriented and do partake in hiking excursions. We believe in creating a world where people aren’t afraid to personally connect. Therefore, even though Personal Connection® failed on top of Mount Everest and we even went as far to say that it died, there still is hope.

Related: Personal Connection in the Age of Social Media

Governments and Businesses Are Part of the Solution

Both international companies and the local Nepal government are enablers of this problem, but they do not have to be. Nepal has no strict regulations on who can climb Everest, therefore, this is a recipe for disaster. In addition, big travel businesses and the local governments have shifted their focus to making huge profits, turning a blind eye to safety measures. 

Sadly, Personal Connection® with climbers and their welfare are not their primary concern. Hungry for every climbing dollar they can get, more permits are issued to untrained climbers posing a risk to everyone on the mountain.  In addition, this year alone the Nepali government issued a record of 381 permits, hoping to commercialize Mount Everest. The government takes in $300 million each year from people climbing Mount Everest.

Money talks. It also blinds people from common sense and Personal Connection®. Therefore, the easiest solution is tighter governmental regulations on climbers and businesses related to Mount Everest. This won’t happen immediately, though. At least not quickly enough. So the second-best solution is for businesses involved to acknowledge the problem and make changes themselves. But this won’t happen fast enough either. 

The third best solution is for people to be aware of the issues related to having too many people on the mountain. Then they can consciously make the decision themselves to minimize numbers, but… ego and the fear of missing out will prevent this as well.

Related: What is Emotionally Intelligent Leadership?

So What Can be Done to Minimize the Number of Deaths on Mount Everest?

As much as we all love to shift blame, note that you, as the climber, are responsible for yourself and more importantly the others around you. Perhaps the best advice for any thrill-seeker out there is to leave your ego at home or at base camp. Why? Because, it’s your ego that will cause you to keep going at the cost of your life and others. 

Are selfies at the summit that important to sacrifice your life and refuse oxygen to a dying comrade? Maybe people should be more focused on the experience than the race to the top. Skilled climbers say that most of the deaths on Mount Everest were avoidable. How? Some of the victims had signs of exhaustion and altitude sickness but refused to turn back.

Even climbers who were allegedly in a position to help chose not to because it interfered with their plans of summiting. Sure it can be just as fatal, but if you are in a position to help, do it. Community and Personal Connection® is what makes us human. How would you feel if you were in the same situation and people were stepping over you as they pass by?

For years to come, Mount Everest will no doubt continue to do what it has for decades. It will continue to capture the imagination, provide the backdrop for dreams and personal triumphs, and take a few lives in the process. There are already enough dangers to climbing Mount Everest, the lack of personal connection does not need to be another one.

Related: What Is the Personal Connection Crisis?

Want to find out more about feeling engaged with your community and the people around you? Take our Personal Connection® course.

A Basic Guide To The Types Of Learner Engagement

A Basic Guide To The Types Of Learner Engagement 1216 806 VP Legacies

Did you know you can lose 31% to 51% of your employees as a result of low engagement in the workplace? For high retention rates, your staff not only needs to feel appreciated for what they do, but they also need to know they have a chance to improve and grow professionally. This makes them feel a Personal Connection® to your team and fosters a sense of enthusiasm for their roles.

The best way for you to create a positive environment is to implement a learner engagement strategy to raise individual morale through practical training methods. 

With that in mind, find out how VP Legacies can improve Personal Connection® with your employees to customize training strategies. 

Related: How to Incorporate Microlearning into Corporate Training

What is Learner Engagement?

Teaching without engaging your students is a waste of time. This is true for professional development too; any parlayed information won’t have an effect if your audience doesn’t feel a Personal Connection® to the topic.

To create this connection, a specific learner engagement model must be used according to the individual’s preference. Every learner is engaged differently, so how do you reach everyone in one setting?

Offering several learning options is a way to let the learner choose how to best retain and use the information given to them. Learning methods are based on personality types and a combination of teaching techniques. 

Old ways of teaching are based on repetition and memory. This old teaching method does not take into account the limitations of our memory. Placing information into long-term memory takes more than repetition. 

In a learner-based environment, the goal isn’t just to retain facts and information. Instead, it uses engagement to make information relative and practical. This makes the learned content a part of your student’s life.

In the workplace, you don’t want your employees to go through training only to show that they have completed a course. The purpose of the training is for the employee to excel in the field and feel more connected to the work they do.

How Do You Know When a Learner is Engaged?

Showing up to the class is not a clear sign that a student wants to learn or even be there. 

Learner engagement becomes evident through participation, self-initiative, and even feedback on the course.

When employees in training ask questions, make suggestions, and ask for additional resources for the topic, they show their excitement. Sometimes the course sounds exciting to your employees, but the method of teaching does not translate.

Give your employees a voice in how the modules will be taught in addition to the topics and skills to be learned. Communicating with your staff will actively engage them in the course before it even begins. 

You also need to keep in mind that every learner is different. So, keep an eye on the entire class and be flexible. New methods of teaching can be introduced when you need to accommodate various learners. Because we know how important it is to reach everyone, our eLearning courses at VP Legacies include videos, short readings, and multiple choice questions. Helping all kinds of learners engaged on multiple levels is key, as you’ll see below.

Types of Learners

2 women discussing and learning by drawing out designs on the white board

Your learner engagement playbook will include 3 basic types of personalities based on how your student learns best.

You can use these personality types to develop lesson plans and make personal connections in the classroom. These connections will transfer into the office as a form of respect and understanding.  

Remember that these traits are broad and intertwined. One person may reflect the characteristics of all three personality types, but one may be more dominant. Others may have an even combination, and still, others might clearly identify with just one.

So, use these qualities as a base for learning, not as a definitive guide to the complex structure of the human mind. 

Related: How Microlearning Helps with Better Engagement

Achiever/challenge-based

The achiever thrives on setting goals and meeting them. They like a challenge because they aren’t afraid to show off what they learned. 

They may also be competitive in nature and desire to be the best at a new skill. It might seem easy to engage this type of learner, but keeping them actively engaged requires stimulation. This might include multiple choice questions and multimedia presentations, like we have in our Personal Connection® 101 course.  

The method of micro-learning effectively breaks information into pieces. For an achiever, this creates levels and mini-goals to tackle. It also uses steps to focus on one topic at a time. 

For an achiever, moving too fast is a common pitfall. By separating information into segments, the learner can move at a slower pace. Each level is an accomplishment that doesn’t feel rushed. 

Encourage achievers to stay focused on one topic at a time to retain information with learner engagement strategies that reward progress often. Each step should effectively teach a new skill that will lead to the next lesson.

Achievers also have a lot of energy and enthusiasm that can be useful in the classroom. They can be engaging presenters and mentors to more shy classmates and coworkers. 

Explorer

To an explorer, it doesn’t matter how fast or efficient the learning process is. Instead, they enjoy connecting with peers and mentors to discover new information. The reward isn’t in the end result, but the journey of learning and making mistakes. 

In fact, it is the mistake that teaches an explorer a lesson and leads to progress. This makes them great planners and reflectors of the past. They see their mistakes as a map toward the future. 

Let explorers be creative and free. They should be trusted to come out of their learning experience successfully. 

They may also be shyer than achievers, as they prefer to work on their own methodology of learning. While they like to work on their own, explorers can still be guided. This might mean using a microlearning module for individual learning and holding group sessions in which everyone can communicate and discuss what they have learned.

Don’t let an explorer go too far on their own since their way of learning can be beneficial to the whole class. They discover things that may go unnoticed even to you, as a teacher. 

Keep them engaged by asking for updates on their progress. Let them criticize, edit, and alter the course of your teaching. This is the way to get explorers to communicate and open up to you and their classmates.

Socializer

On the learner engagement rubric of personality types, there is always the person who prefers group activities. They don’t like to tackle a problem alone as they see strength in numbers.

This isn’t a fault, but a useful skill, since they feed off of others to grasp concepts and encourage people to connect. They also love to share their insights, as they understand deeply the benefits of cooperation and collaboration. 

Make it easy for socializers to discuss the topic with their coworkers. You can include group activities, presentations, and role-playing to the lesson plan to accommodate the socializer. 

Let them be expressive by allowing them to use a more hands-on approach to learning. They may prefer offline activities over eLearning modules. 

Socializers tend to enjoy group success as they congratulate each other for achieving a goal. Allow socializers to complete tasks that they can then translate into a personal milestone.

Related: What to Include In an Internal Communication Plan

Holistic Teaching Methods

Despite having many personality variations to consider and to cater to in your lesson plans, your approach should be holistic. 

A holistic teaching method includes more than a relay of information. It considers the emotional, behavioral, and cognitive abilities and experiences of the learner. 

Taking these factors into consideration will help you develop a course that fits each personality type. 

As you develop your course, consider these levels of pedagogy that allows employees to conceptualize and retain course material. 

Procedural

This is the basis of your lesson plan. It includes the steps to complete the course without further insight. Think of it as the outline that displays your topics and subtopics. 

While this is necessary to develop a course, this alone doesn’t allow any student engagement. Further structure is needed to expand your employees’ knowledge by actively including them in the topic. 

Conceptual

This part of your course offers your students an objective for learning – in other words, telling them what they will learn. It may explain the skills that your students will acquire, but without practical application. It is important to incorporate conceptual learning, especially to connect with explorer-type learners. This helps them get a sense of how they will engage with the material and what kinds of thinking they will use.

Consequential

Explaining why and how the skills translate to a particular life function will offer your students a sense of purpose. They will be able to see why the lesson is important to their job.

This will also provide excitement for the learning process and, once the class is over, a feeling of accomplishment. This is an especially useful way to engage the challenger-based aspect of learning. 

Analytical

2 colleagues working on 2 laptops, and analyzing their notes

This is the most important part of your class because it leaves the classroom. Allowing your employees to analyze the skills learned and apply them to their life is the goal of the class. 

They should make the skills personal and transferable to various aspects of their life. The student should also be able to expand their knowledge of the topic on their own, making improvements and additions. 

Related: What to Include In an Internal Communication Plan

Getting Help With Learner Engagement

Creating learner engagement strategies in your company takes some trial and error. Fortunately, getting help from our professionals at VP Legacies to develop communication strategies can point you in the right direction. Learners tend to fall roughly into three categories – challenge-based, explorer, or socializer. In order to engage all three kinds, you can use holistic teaching methods that explain procedures, explore concepts, show consequences, and utilize analysis. A learning course that engages your employees on multiple cognitive levels and appeals to different personalities is one that will aid professional development and enhance your company’s ability to reach and exceed long-term goals.

12 Corporate Communication Challenges

12 Corporate Communication Challenges 1194 786 VP Legacies

Properly developing and scaling an organization requires constant (and real-time) attention to both external and internal stakeholders. Employees form the majority of internal stakeholders and are a vital part of the development and progress of any company.

Employers benefit from the development of their employees, which is why good internal communication is crucial for the successful operation of any business. Each side relies on the other one, and together they help with the growth and progress of your organization. At VP Legacies, we’re dedicated to helping you streamline internal communication. Here are the top 12 challenges of which you should be aware.

Why Does Internal Communication Matter?

While we lack the skill to read each other’s minds, there’s a lot we can find out just by paying a little bit more attention. Communication isn’t just important in family relationships, romantic relationships, and friendships, but it is applicable for corporations as well. Without communication, a workplace is not a connective environment for employees.

Each and every company, regardless of how big or small it is, relies on communication for a smooth organizational flow. This helps eliminate countless challenges that an organization has to face when it comes to their internal communication strategy and planning. Just like humans, communication is a multi-dimensional concept that needs to be approached with nuance.

Understanding the challenges helps one gain an understanding of how to identify and overcome them in their own organization.

Related: 9 Reasons Why Your Employees are Your Company’s Most Valuable Assets

12 Corporate Communication Challenges

Corporate employees sit in a meeting and take notes

Here are twelve common corporate communication challenges that employers and employees face. Understanding them is the first step to building a solid corporate communication foundation to solidify strong personal connections throughout the workplace.

1. Lack Of Feedback

For an employee, it’s always a big cause of concern if they are kept in the dark about their own growth in the company. An employee spends upwards of 8 hours every day in any given organization, and they want to know they have opportunities for growth and professional development. 

Growth, without any feedback, is impossible to achieve. Providing timely feedback, whether negative or positive, is a must for effective internal communication. It’s important to connect with employees on a one-on-one basis so they know you care about their growth and they can further hone in their valuable skills.

Lack of growth is one of the major reasons for employee turnover, putting a major dent in talent retention costs and affects the morale of the entire organization. With proper feedback, an employee feels valued and believes that their company is providing them with room for ample growth.

2. Absence Of Strategy

As important as corporate communication is, it often takes a backseat. Many organizations tend to neglect the importance of having a strong internal communication strategy as they feel like it lacks any tangible benefits. 

So, they often just go with the flow and cross the metaphorical communication bridge after there’s a gap. This lack of strategy makes Personal Connection® difficult, since employees won’t know how to communicate information. 

With a solid strategy in place, companies are ready for any situation, foreseen or unforeseen. Developing a strategy is not an easy task. Quite the contrary, it requires a thorough understanding of communication gaps, employee needs, and the effect of existing strategies.

With the help of a proper strategy, one can realize common pitfalls, the urgency of implementation, degree of intervention and more important factors that determine the plan of action for the particular organization.

3. Constant Communication Overload

A woman sitting at her desk gnaws on a pencil with anxiety

One might think the best way to improve communication inside an organization is to bombard employees with loads of emails and messages. Who has ever benefited from a seemingly never ending chain of emails?

Employees often feel overwhelmed with constant back and forth, replying, or reading messages that they have nothing to do with. This wastes a lot of time and energy, not to forget reduces overall productivity. Many organizations fail to notice or address information overload. Frequent but inefficient internal communication can often feel impersonal, creating a disconnect within your organization.

Not every piece of information is relevant to all employees and even if it is, it is often not conveyed to them in the right manner or it is often presented without ample information.

4. Communication Without Context

Alongside information overload, a lack of informational context can also negatively impact internal communication. Many managers or even teammates pass along information assuming that the other person is well aware of the context of the conversation. This puts the receiver at a disadvantage. Many people don’t take the initiative to inquire about the context to avoid seeming ignorant or not knowledgeable.

They handle the task at hand without thinking about the history of communication, in turn leading to serious missteps. Hence, all communication should have concise, but relevant information attached. Alternatively, employees should be given a small brief to counter the contextual hurdle.

Related: 6 Tips for Having a Tough Conversation With Your Boss

5. Internal Transparency

Three employees laugh together while looking into a laptop

The employer-employee relationship is based on trust. For an employee, the company that they’re working in is often their only source of income. Here, any decision made by the company has a huge effect on the employees.

The challenge that many organizations face is to inform their employees about any events that have taken place or are about to be put into action. It is always better than an employee finds out about company news from internal communication rather than external sources, such as the press or social media.

Big news like layoffs, bankruptcy or even small updates are necessary to provide through expedient internal communication methods.

6. Using The Right Tools

Any communication strategy is incomplete without the right tools. There are many applications and software that help with executing communication strategies, including VP Legacies eLearning courses

These online tools have the right bandwidth to help small to large companies and are often more efficient than regular tools and applications. Having the right tools at one’s disposal makes the difference of day and night in terms of implementation any internal communication strategy.

Even if the strategy has some shortcomings, the right tools can overcome them while also making way for the development of real Personal Connection®.

Related: How Internal Communication Strategies Boost Employee Engagement 

7. Lack Of Balance

A businessman yells into his office phone

Just like every other aspect of one’s life, communication requires a balanced approach. This, however, is more often than not how it works. In most organizations, the common challenge everyone faces is either there is too much or too little internal communication happening.

Corporations can’t seem to find the point where the scales balance themselves. Not everything needs to be shared with teams in an organization and similarly, they shouldn’t be left out of important announcements.

To strike the right balance, a combination of the right timing, medium and message have to be crafted. Use appropriate channels for relevant announcements at the right time and there will be a balanced internal communication plan.

With this combination, not only will there be clarity in the message but the resources will be used in an optimum manner. Your employees will get all the information they need without anything that’s irrelevant, helping them feel more connected to your company’s goals.

Related: What is the best strategy for CEO communication?

8. Budget Restrictions

Just like any other strategy, an internal communication strategy requires dedicated resource allocation, which many companies or HR departments don’t have the liberty to do. 

In such scenarios, it becomes difficult to have a strong corporate communication strategy. Money is always a point of contention in an organization, regardless of its size.

In such cases, communication tends to take a backseat. To counter this, one need not look too far. There are many options to outsource communication strategy implementation with the help of third-party providers and software.

Not only does this take the burden off of the internal departments but it also ends up being cheaper and easier to execute.

9. Onboarding New Employees

Senior employee onboards a new employee

When a company onboards a new employee, they aren’t just adding an additional person. They’re bringing in a whole new perception, ideology, communication medium, and personality into the fold.

Companies are constantly hiring, and this means having to familiarize new employees with the company culture time and again. This also means that the new employees have to understand and learn the communication strategy of their new company, which is often different from their old company’s strategy.

This challenge can only be solved by having a clear set of guidelines and manuals in place that can help new hires navigate the do’s and don’ts’ of an organization. Great training programs like microlearning can be helpful. This will help streamline the process and make it easier for all the parties involved in the process. It’s also important to make new employees feel welcome to increase the likelihood of employee retention. When you make it known that new hires are valuable assets to your team, you save resources and create a positive workplace culture.

Related: What to include in an internal communication plan

10. Use Of Jargon

In a professional environment, there are plenty of opportunities for a person to sound smart in the disguise of being professional. The use of jargon is a common pain-point in many organizations.

Whether it’s emails, manuals, presentations or any other form of communication, it is relatively easy for jargon to slip into sentences. Jargon has no real use in today’s corporate scenario – not only is it highly inefficient, but it can detract meaning from content.

If the reader spends half of their time trying to figure out what certain words mean instead of understanding the core meaning of the entire text, then that piece has not served its intended purpose.

To avoid this, an organization must keep things simple. The key here is to actively avoid and discourage jargon throughout the organization. A little bit can be useful as shorthand, but too much can come off as pretentious. By setting this culture, there is an open and collaborative path that leads to efficient communication.

11. The Device Dilemma

A pile of different hand-held devices are stacked on top of one another

Gone are the days when work was limited to the office desktop. Technology is evolving by the minute and access to information is getting handy. From desktops, laptops, tablets, mobiles and even smartwatches, there is simply too much to keep up with from a communication standpoint.

Most companies have developed their communication strategy keeping just the workplace in mind. This limits the outreach of the message and also fails to tap into the potential that is mobility.

On average, people have around five email addresses and two to three devices. This says a lot about how people are consuming information on a daily basis. Optimizing one’s communication strategy to include the preferred devices, aka mobile phones and tablets will have a huge impact on the increased efficiency of the communication strategy. 

This also helps develop a stronger Personal Connection® with the employees as it gives them the freedom to access information as and when they please and even while on the move.

12. Cross-Department Communication

An organization is made of several small departments that co-exist and function together to uplift the company as a whole. While many departments don’t overlap, there are instances wherein they might need to work together or communicate with each other. 

This tends to be a pitfall for many organizations. In providing a distinction between departments, they often fail to establish a connection that is needed for seamless communication.

This gives way to misunderstandings, lack of clarity, finger-pointing, etc. All these hinder productivity and company morale. 

By establishing clear communication guidelines and by introducing different teams to each other and inculcating a sense of togetherness, there is a reduced change of any misstep. 

Successful implementation of an internal communication strategy depends on the strength of the connection that gets formed between the employees. With this, there is peaceful co-existence and a collaborative environment within the organization

Communication with Real Connections

Corporate communication is not the easiest of hurdles to overcome, which is precisely why there needs to be institutional proactiveness in doing so. Organizations need to realize the importance of internal communication and the role that it plays in the success of the company and its bottom line growth.

Whether it is developing a strong Personal Connection® or tweaking the existing communication strategy, no step is too small. Corporate communication is an ongoing affair, and one that needs constant monitoring and upgrades.

Times change, people evolve and an organization’s approach to ensuring proper communication within their ranks too has to evolve overtime.

Related: A Guide to Effective Crisis Communication

For more information on how to build the best corporate communication strategy visit VP Legacies!

Personal Connection in the Age of Social Media

Personal Connection in the Age of Social Media 1232 770 VP Legacies

The rise of social media has fundamentally changed the way we personally connect with each other. What used to be done over a landline or in-person now happens behind a screen of a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. These days, we have social interactions and relationships with people we’ve never met in person. And with friends, our relationships have been diluted to those built on the basis of likes and comments.

That isn’t to say that we still don’t use social media to build personal connections. In fact, it can be adapted strategically to build Personal Connection®. It’s so common to say, “I noticed that you went to Peru. How was it?”, n the most non-stalkerish way as possible. It’s the new normal to bring up what you see on social media. This is what starts conversations to connect with someone on a personal level.

What’s more is that social media can interactively facilitate participation and engagement from your audience. Features like Facebook Live, IGTV, and more, make it possible for your audience to be part of the conversation. These developments on social media help marketers establish a Personal Connection® on channels that are arguably the most impersonal.

Related: 10 Best eLearning Tools Online

The value of social media to businesses

Social media analytics on smartphone

For businesses, tapping into the potential of social media can prove to be an important market resource. But what makes social media different from other marketing resources is that it requires a Personal Connection® to be effective. This provides value to your audience and encourages participation.

Social media should provide value

Social media has gained a reputation for endless promotion and propaganda by companies. If your audience feels this is the case, chances are you are not connecting with them how you want. Instead, make your content seem less like a marketing ploy and something more organic in a way that brings more value to your followers.

Engaging Live with Instagram

Instagram provides a great medium for businesses to provide live streaming in real-time while allowing viewers to take part in a conversation. Consumers now have unprecedented access to the company, organization, or entrepreneur. Viewers are able to see user questions and opinions are important wherein the viewers gain a sense of familiarity with the speaker.

Starting Conversations on Twitter

Another channel that provides value to its audience is Twitter. This social media platform is among the easiest to engage your audience with. There are a variety of strategies to increase engagement, including hashtag campaigns, retweeting users who mention relevant topics, and specifically tweeting to people who are discussing something relevant to your brand.

Twitter is unique in that it’s essentially a worldwide chat room where anyone can participate in a conversation. Incentivize your customers even further to join your conversation by providing them with relevant offers.

Facilitate participation with social media

Other than providing value to your customers, you want to encourage them to participate in the conversation through their own social networks. This includes a variety of ways such as sharing information with their personal network, participating in surveys, or entering contests. Most people initially discover a business by way of their website or blog. To build Personal Connection®, offer users something of value if they join an email list, put social media sharing buttons on images and at the end of posts, and social login options. This creates a sense of authenticity and personalization.

Once a company has information about its users, they are able to easily facilitate participation with those users. One such way is monitoring email interest and data collected from a variety of data points. Tracking social media shares and follows are done in a similar way, as can the number of referred users from those sites. Make it easy for visitors to engage and share your content and then collect the data to discover how well it is working.

Person checking social media on smartphone

The value social media brings to your personal life

While social media has a significant impact on Personal Connection® for businesses, the same principles carry into your personal life. You can use your personal social media to build personal connections with your circle by first and foremost providing value. Gone are the days of random status updates.

Post relevant content to your friends and followers such as articles or photos you want to share. This works especially well if you have a lot of distant family members in your network and want to keep them updated. Articles and other shares are good content to show your interests, values, and more.

The same applies with facilitating participation. Use your social media to be a part of the conversation on topics that interest you. For instance, if technology is one of your interests, sharing an article on that topic to your LinkedIn or Twitter is a great way to show your followers that the topic interests you. It’s even better if you share a comment with the article that shares your point of view. This demonstrates an element of thought leadership and that you have your own opinions on the topic.

Social media is only daunting if we allow it to be. When used smartly and strategically, it has a profound effect on how we can personally connect with our audiences. And these principles aren’t just for businesses; they can translate to your personal social media as well. To start using social media more strategically, you can get in touch with VP Legacies for Custom eLearning Development. Our tools are engaging because they utilize platforms that your employees love. From social media to quizzes to short modules, you’ll build Personal Connection® with your employees both online and offline. 

Related: eLearning vs. Microlearning: What Are the Differences?

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