Personal Connection

Employee's talking at a desk with laptop

Why Empathy in the Workplace Matters

Why Empathy in the Workplace Matters 1228 808 VP Legacies

Empathy is your ability to understand someone else’s perspective by putting yourself in their shoes. In other words, it means you try to understand how someone thinks and feels without necessarily having had the same experience. As a result, you become more compassionate and understanding. 

When it comes to the workplace, empathy holds the potential to energize your employees with real connections across the board. The ability to put yourself in your coworkers’ and employees’ shoes means you can better take into consideration their point of view and any concerns they have. You can use these perspectives to create meaningful change. At VP Legacies, we value Personal Connection® as a way to satisfy your employees and increase employee retention. Here’s how you can use empathy to improve your workplace culture.

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

Empathy Affects Work Culture 

Studies about empathy have shown that a more empathetic workforce results in better employee retention, communication, culture, quality of work-life, and productivity. The main reason for this is that empathy helps to promote the following in a workplace culture:

  • Employees feel able to openly communicate – not just when they’re successful, but when they face challenges. Empathy improves internal communication by reassuring employees that their colleagues will do their best to understand them and help them through challenges rather than placing blame.
  • Your company leadership understands employee performance in greater detail. Being able to empathize with employees will allow you to use emotional intelligence to have a sense of their needs. For instance, a lack of employee engagement may indicate a need to create a custom eLearning plan for more professional development opportunities.
  • In any task-based situation, it’s easier to process ideas and address problems put forth by fellow employees if you act with empathy. It fosters better internal communication by helping you know the right questions to ask. As a result,  you’ll communicate responses with effective word choice, tone, and content based on the other person’s perspective. 

Learn more about empathy in the workplace with Personal Connection® 101, VP Legacies’ eLearning course for businesses. 

Challenges

Two businesswomen discuss communication challenges in the workplace

Given the potentially productive aspects of empathy, the fact of the matter is that empathy in the workplace is often still lacking. A lot of that has to do with the innate challenges involved in cultivating the skill of empathy. Acting with empathy can be a challenge for the following reasons.

  • Self-awareness and understanding are lifelong skills that need to be strengthened over time. Doing this when it comes to someone else is even more challenging. We’re often focused on the tasks that we need to complete, preventing us from connecting with those around us. Being aware of the way we inhabit space allows us to connect better.
  • Vulnerability is key to empathy, it involves putting someone else’s wants and needs above oneself. This means you need to be truly committed to helping your colleagues, and that often takes some emotional labor. In the workplace context where we often behave in a way to remind others of our authority, we may actually be intimidating others and putting up barriers. 
  • Workplaces are built on putting the ‘business’ and company values first. To some, empathy looks like sacrificing business for employee satisfaction. In reality, the two are inextricably intertwined. After all, you need your employees to reach your bottom line, and their happiness should be a priority.

It takes some effort to be an authentically empathetic leader, but the benefits far outweigh the challenges. Your hard work will show employees that you’re willing to reciprocate their best efforts.

Some Ways Empathy Helps the Workplace

Active listening

Workplaces commonly involve what’s known as passive listening, and many workplace surveys indicate roughly 30% of employees feel that their opinions don’t matter. 

This is where better communication in the form of active listening can help. It’s challenging, but this means ensuring that:

  • You acknowledge colleagues when they are communicating, either by nodding or giving verbal indication. Sometimes, it helps to repeat or rephrase what they say just to make sure you understand fully.
  • Asking clarifying questions and leaving back and forths open-ended. A common practice of doing this is by always responding with ‘Yes, and…’ that allows the conversation to continue.
  • Keeping the environment distraction-free during a discussion. This involves having laptop screens closed, and mobiles put away. 

In addition to all of this, it is ensuring one’s accessible and available for colleagues to reach out and talk to you.

Related: How internal communication strategies boost employee engagement 

Ask specific questions

A man in a black blazer speaks at a project management conference

Beyond active listening, it’s also important to get better at asking the right questions to promote a culture of empathy. The key here is asking questions that deep-dive and get to the core of an issue or discussion. By doing this, you’re better able to understand the other person’s perspective. 

Examples of deep-dive questioning are introducing specificity and focusing on key details. Follow up with questions that uncover the who, what, when, where, and most important, the ‘why’. 

Avoid any ‘one-size-fits’ all questions, that are far too open-ended and such as ‘Okay, what’s the issue?’ but try to triangulate a specific area to better understand when asking a question. 

Promote assurance and an open mind

Creating a culture that promotes acknowledgment and assurance is also key in helping build up empathy in the workplace. What this means is to approach coworkers with an open mind and acknowledge that what they have done or will do is in one’s own and company’s best interest. 

When issues arise in the workplace, it’s common to make judgments based on one’s own experiences. Promoting an empathetic workplace means that one makes an effort to realize that a workplace consists of a wide range of roles and teams, and effective internal communication should incorporate multiple perspectives. 

Each department and each employee faces their own struggles. Without being in their shoes, it’s hard to fully understand the reasons behind what’s going on. 

Statements of assurance and acknowledgment can be powerful here, so a good practice when a workplace issue arises is to communicate with a preface of “I hear what you’re saying” or “I understand your frustration” before diving in. 

This lets the other person know that you have tried to empathize and keep their perspective in mind. 

Related: 10 Ways to Reduce Employee Turnover

Be more open with colleagues

Two men in a coffee shop laugh together

One of the main factors to a great culture at work is when employees genuinely love to spend time with each other. This means you need to foster deep Personal Connection®, and empathy helps a lot here. 

By not keeping your coworkers an arm’s length away and being more open with them about yourself, your experiences, and your challenges can foster Personal Connection® and strengthen professional bonds. 

It’s a marathon, not a sprint

Developing the ability to empathize with colleagues doesn’t happen overnight. Empathy involves mastering a lot of pieces such as the ability to be more introspective, ask better questions, and listen more actively, and much more. 

It’s important to start slowly and focus on one of these areas. Generally, becoming a more effective communicator at work is the best first step towards mastering empathy. 

And don’t let any setbacks deter progress. It’s a challenging endeavor but once mastered can mean a more productive and fulfilling work environment. 

Help Employees Feel Heard

An empathetic workplace means more compassion and percolates through the office. Colleagues are more cordial and understanding of one another, and this means resolving issues quickly while fostering teamwork. Empathy reminds your employees that you care about their emotional wellbeing. With this knowledge, they’ll feel comfortable coming to you to share challenges and successes.

If you want to get started creating an empathetic workplace, our Personal Connection® 101 course is a great start. You’ll learn how to connect meaningfully with employees in real life and with online platforms, creating a workplace culture that values connectivity.

Find a course that meets your company’s goals at VP Legacies.

How Microlearning Increases Personal Connection

How Microlearning Increases Personal Connection 1226 796 VP Legacies

According to a study in Time, the average human attention span is currently around 8 seconds. This value is slated to fall even further, thanks to screens that never turn off and increased caffeine intake, among other factors. Reading books is now an almost archaic habit – with audiobooks taking the center stage of written content consumption. 

The trend also signifies a large decline in the learning capacity of the human brain. Content creators and educators are faced with the issue of connecting to learners and efficiently capturing and retaining their attention. The bigger problem, however, is that learners tend to forget the dissipated information. Retention of knowledge is a hard challenge to overcome, but one that is crucial to ensure the progression of eLearning. At VP Legacies, we know the value of personal connection for keeping your employees happy and engaged with your company. Here’s how microlearning can help.

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

What is Microlearning? 

The eLlearning sphere is currently dominated by microlearning, an education innovation that is here to stay. Microlearning is a type of focused training/learning method that doles out short bursts of specific content. The content is typically delivered in the form of small eLearning units, short-term activities, and easily digestible, object-oriented media. The units are designed to help users/ learners grasp and remember vast topics in tiny chunks. The lessons are dealt out in 5 – to 10-minute modules and focus on building specific on-the-job skills at the user’s convenience. 

The core principle behind microlearning is the efficient consumption of skill-based eLearning material without overburdening the user. Instead of providing the learner with a bulk of eearning material, and overwhelming them in the process, microlearning concentrates on micro-perspectives and practical contexts. Microlearning is in great demand across corporate settings and other mediated environments. Workplace training modules like software platform initiations and workflow processes can be easily administered through microlearning – and with proven success. 

Training content can take many forms and is usually designed to suit a company’s work style. Typical microlearning content includes interactive media forms like short videos, powerful images/ illustrations, infographics, eBooks, other on-screen text, audio snippets, music tracks, single-screen games and quizzes, simple activities, and multiple-choice tests. The content is highly personalized and target aptitude and application-based facets of the skill in question. 

Advantages of Microlearning 

Engagement 

The goal of microlearning is to communicate the outcome in the simplest way possible. eLearning methods that are off the beaten path tend to stay in the memory for longer periods, while also creating sufficient engagement from the learner. Modern corporate workers are strapped for time and microlearning is the perfect way to create interest in training modules. 

When learners study in short bursts over being forced to sit through hours of droning material, their brains engage with the content easily. This interest also carries forward to future training modules. The best-designed microlearning modules simulate the rewarding emotion of checking social media/ game apps on one’s cell phone, as opposed to prepping for an exam. As a result, you create engagement by connecting with learners on a more personal level.

Efficiency and Cost-Effectiveness 

Streamlined content means less production time and cost. As the content delivered in micro eLearning is trimmed to the fullest extent, writers and developers can produce hundreds of modules in hours. This isn’t just efficient, it also allows the training material to constantly evolve to match changing trends and training requirements. 

Since microlearning does not always require special premium tools, it cuts costs down further. Efficiency in production is one benefit, but efficiency in consumption is yet another. Users can even undergo microlearning on their smartphones on their commute to and from work. The variety offered by microlearning modalities allows workers to absorb, retain, and apply knowledge much more effectively and efficiently. 

Flexibility

Flexibility and personalization is a huge part of microlearning. Learner motivation and interest in finishing more modules naturally stem from the autonomy and modality offered by microlearning. Bulky online courses are not ideal for learners on the go. Microlearning courses are small in size, and can even be downloaded and used when the user is offline. 

These courses also allow trainers a certain amount of flexibility in terms of usage. Microlearning modules can be used as components of larger, organization-wide training drives or as performance support. Depending on the company’s workflow, these courses can also be used as communication tools. 

Personal Connection

Authentic personal connections within the workplace are crucial for training purposes, as well as maintaining an overall healthy work environment. On the surface, microlearning may appear to disconnect or disassociate workers from one another. Employees glued to their screens while finishing modules might not be the best communication instigator. However, continued implementation of microlearning modules can prove to be beneficial when it comes to personal connections. It gives employees talking points and, unlike longer training modules, allows them to stay in touch with methods of internal communication while completing microlearning lessons.

Microlearning modules are designed with specific criteria in mind. When the gamut of multimedia material hits the training floors, employees are more engaged and reach out to each other in order to learn more. Natural curiosity, coupled with a positive ‘let’s go get it’ attitude (stemming from micro-assessments and quizzes) can boost team performance by bounds and leaps. 

Collaborative modules can also serve to increase effective and productive communication among employees. Certain microlearning activities designed for teams can also increase levels of trust and codependency. When a group of colleagues watches a bunch of short videos together, they are more likely to have in-depth conversations about the topics involved. 

High-quality microlearning content incorporates elements of relevant pop culture media to increase engagement. GIFs, well-produced short videos with comedic relief, and eye-catching infographics aren’t just boosting engagement and retention. They also serve the important purpose of binding the mutual interests of workers and bringing them together on a common basis – a shared interest in learning. As communication tools, microlearning modules can also be used as ice-breakers. 

Related: 10 Best eLearning Tools Online

Disadvantages of Microlearning 

In-Depth Training 

For subjects that require in-depth training and exploration, microlearning might not be the best fit. Some software or processes require several months of training just to grasp the basics. The trade-off between short, interactive modules versus lengthy, in-depth write-ups cannot be justified, especially if employees are falling short of the mark. 

For example, take the American Revolution. It’s possible to learn the timeline of events, the causes, and the outcomes of the revolution using microlearning tactics like short videos and images. However, in order to understand the underlying intricacies, motives, political underpinnings, and cultural impacts, microlearning is not quite the right option. 

Nevertheless, microlearning can be a great companion tool for in-depth training methods. Microlearning can help reinforce what employees learn in other training modules. They can also target more hands-on skills that will help employees put more abstract ideas into practice.

Complex Concepts 

Bite-sized courses are the best option for a surface level understanding of most concepts. But this mode of eLearning cannot always ensure to translate the complexity of all topics in an effective manner. Microlearning isn’t always suited for subjects that require a lot of patience and content that cannot be boiled down to cue cards. 

Sometimes it’s necessary for the workers to plow through large bodies of well-researched material in order to gain a better understanding of the concept. Extensive comprehension is not always the same as immediate understanding and retention. For example, it’s possible to learn Mandarin for a trip to China using audio snippets and images. 

This would provide the required outcome, where the employees can communicate effectively in a corporate setting with a few key catchphrases. However, if an employee is to be permanently reassigned to China, they will have to study the language in great detail in order to get by. Microlearning can’t help here, tedious study and preparation will. 

Once again, micro-learning can be a great reinforcing tool for longer training methods. To use the example above, textbooks and long lesson plans aren’t enough to learn a language. Short quizzes and other microlearning tools help people practice what they’ve learned as they go along.

Microlearning Strategies and Guidelines

Organizations have to keep in mind certain factors before implementing a brand new microlearning module. The first and foremost factor is to keep the audiences in mind while crafting content. While some users thrive off the streamlined model, others might not take to it so quickly. Identify what kind of groups are present within the organization and design modules accordingly. Analyze previous eLearning efforts in-depth and understand how it was assimilated, and what strategy was most effective. 

Several employees and even executives might not be aware of what microlearning is exactly. It’s important to run a company-wide awareness program beforehand to build a strong business case. Whether the microlearning modules are a viable strategy is an important decision to make. Involve peers, key stakeholders, and management in the process. 

Many times, microlearning could prove to be a huge shift in the existing method of learning (specifically eLearning) within an organization and requires a fundamental change of mindset. Assess the existing content and find ways to leverage available expertise. Don’t throw old playbooks out the window completely. It’s important to ease into the process by merging characteristics of both traditional and modern strategies. 

Always design modules with ease-of-access, internal communication best practices, and deployment strategies in mind. 

How Gradual Microlearning Creates Engaged Communication

Microlearning achieves efficiency, versatility, and personal connection by allowing employees to incorporate and implement new skills as they learn them. As a result, this training strategy improves knowledge retention and helps employees feel engaged with your company while learning valuable skills for their professional career. 

Not only is microlearning efficient, but the short time span of each module means that it can easily be incorporated into your ongoing learning plan. It’s easy to implement and engaging for employees, giving them the opportunity to ask questions as they complete new modules over time and converse with each other about shared courses. It can even be used to drive home complex concepts and give employees the chance to practice and discuss specific skills that are part of a broader learning plan.Get started with microlearning by finding out more about VP Legacies.

Ready to help your employees grow professionally? Check out Custom eLearning Development with VP Legacies.

“The Art of Personal Connection” – CEO Presentation at the 2017 SIM Colorado Women Summer Conference Presentation

“The Art of Personal Connection” – CEO Presentation at the 2017 SIM Colorado Women Summer Conference Presentation 1194 720 VP Legacies

The art of personal connection may seem lost, but as humans, we have the innate want and ability to build relationships. Some may say that life is relationships. We say, “Life is personal connection.” We say, “Personal connection” is life. Therefore, here at VP Legacies we are creating a world where people aren’t afraid to personally connect. 

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Building a Corporate Communication Strategy

Hector Simoudis’s Message

On August 25th, 2017 we were given a great privilege to share stories and insight at the Society of Information Management Colorado Women Summer Conference. Our CEO, Hector Simoudis, shared stories about growing up in the Middle East and fighting against what people were saying about his dyslexia holding him back. His world experience from traveling to 25+ countries, extreme determination and work ethic have made him who he is today—a storyteller with a message to the world that believing in yourself inspires personal connection.

It’s this belief that led to the creation of Personal Connection 101, our interactive video course that holds the secret formula for connecting with others in every facet of your life. Being present when communicating is a way to overcome loneliness and create opportunities for productive collaboration.

Why Personal Connection?

Hector’s presentation is founded on the belief that the art of personal connection is as simple as building trust, sharing your story and embracing emotion. If you do these three things the art of personal connection is simple. The problem is, as Hector put it, human interaction is like an iceberg, we hardly ever go below the service with others. Therefore, we completely close ourselves off to personal connection.

The audience was fascinated by the simplicity of truth in Hector’s presentation. It really hit home when Hector gave them time to share a funny story with one another. At this point everyone began to realize that details really do matter. While facts and figures support our personal connection belief, the release of Oxytocin in the moment allowed everyone to feel it.

He ended his future Tedx Talk (we are submitting his talk soon) briefly speaking about the Platia industry (stay tuned for another blog post about that) and explaining that we are in the midst of a personal connection crisis. The solution is simple. People Matter. 
Related: What is eLearning and How is it Changing the World?

What is the personal connection crisis?

What is the personal connection crisis? 1212 788 VP Legacies

Even in a world governed by technology as an extension of our day to day lives, personal connection is a necessity that we all need. Societal pressures have created an illusion that technology (specifically smart phones and other computers) can provide us with everything we need. This is where the crisis begins. At VP Legacies, we’re committed to forging pathways for personal connections that are compatible with the digital age.

Related: Internal Communication Best Practices

Why Is There a Connection Crisis?

Alt text: A woman sits in bed, eyes glued to her computer.

People feel empty. We don’t know why we aren’t happy even though we have everything we need. We can watch whatever TV show we want without waiting. If we want to buy something we don’t even need to go to the store, hope it isn’t sold out, and pray there isn’t a line. If we want a date or something to do this weekend, we can swipe right or look through social media for an event. This sense of detachment translates to corporate culture, too. It’s all too easy to stay plugged into our devices and never talk to someone face-to-face.

Nonetheless, we have started to realize that there is something missing. Some of us have even put a name to it – personal connection.

Related: What is the Best Strategy for CEO Communication?

The Solution

So what do we do? We try and interact with more people by trying out other more genuine dating applications. Our employers even buy us bean bags, install kegs and give us unlimited yoga memberships. People still aren’t happy.

So where do we go from here? Humanity is in the middle of an identity crisis. We know what we need, but have no idea how to get it. There isn’t an app for personal connection (well not yet – we are working on one). You can’t order it with two-day shipping. No, there isn’t a Netflix series you can binge through to learn the secret behind it. Now what do we do?

Well, first we have to admit to ourselves that a crisis exists and we have no idea what to do. Once we do that the solution is very simple – communication and storytelling. We can consult you on your story to help you figure out where to start.

Our Approach to Personal Connection

Alt Text: Employees bond in a collaborative workplace.

While they may seem to be, personal connection and technology are not adversaries. It’s true that technology can encourage isolation, technology can actually be used to enhance and enrich personal connections. Our courses, like Personal Connection® 101: The Iceberg of Personal Connection®, use web-based microlearning to help you learn about strategies for connecting with people in real life. 

Whether it’s having a five-minute conversation with a stranger in real life or an effective phone call with a friend or colleague, we have you covered. Our modules inspire you to face the personal connection crisis with one of its root causes – technology. You’ll learn that it can be your best friend when it comes to connecting with fellow employees, friends, and family members.
Related: 10 Best eLearning Tools Online

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

9 Reasons Why Your Employees Are Your Company’s Most Valuable Asset 1080 675 VP Legacies

When it comes to your company’s most valuable asset, a lot of areas come to mind. Research and Development, marketing, or even a patent might take the top spot. But that’s not even close to your company’s most valuable asset. The answer is the tens, hundreds, or thousands of employees that make up the workforce of your company. In the 20th century, companies considered production equipment to be its most valuable asset.

However, today, it’s considered to be the knowledge of its employees and their productivity. All intangible assets such as patents, copyrights, intellectual property, brands, trademarks, and R&D are created by people. Therefore, people matter most to you and your business. They are the most essential contributors toward profits and shareholder value. That said, people are key assets for any organization. In today’s continuously changing business world, it is human assets, not the fixed or tangible assets that differentiate an organization from its competitors. The knowledge economy distinguishes one organization from another.

How people benefit your business

Employees champion your business and determine the success or failure of it. The work they do determines what customers and partners see, so it’s important for you to treat your employees with the value they bring. Employees leading an organization might be able to be replaced physically, but their skillsets and knowledge can’t be. This is because each person hired brings a different set of skills to the table even though the job yields the same set of skills.

Besides, the skillset of employees accounts for 85 percent of a company’s assets. Therefore, employee efficiency and talent determines the pace and growth of an organization. Organizations need to recognize the value their employees have and praise them accordingly. This includes their knowledge, expertise, abilities, skillsets, and experience. These are all invaluable and intangible assets for securing a future for the company. So when employees feel valued, they will gladly compete in the race and beat the competition.

Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

Reasons employees are considered invaluable assets

1. Essential to providing goods or services.

Improving employee efficiency and performance are major priorities for an organization. Employees produce the final product, take care of finances, promote your business, and maintain the records for decision making.

2. Employees are the first customer of any organization.

If the organization does not have happy and satisfied employees, they will not deliver performance-oriented results. Therefore reducing the profits of the organization.

3. Employees give their 100 percent to any organization.

No matter what size the business is, success is the result of continuous hard and smart efforts put in by happy and valued employees. This results in keeping the organization going, competing with its competitors and elevating ahead of them all.

4. Employees are the face of an organization.

It’s the satisfaction level of your employees that matters the most. So, if an employee isn’t happy, she might spread a negative word about the organization, even after leaving it. What’s more, is that an unhappy employee will lack motivation and will not perform well, leading to unsatisfactory performance. This results in unachievable performance targets, low profits, and employee churn.

5. They are the nurturers of the organization.

Employees are the ones who give their heart and soul to an organization. Similar to how parents raise their children, employees nurture their organization with their values and endless efforts to take it to the top.

6. Skilled people with knowledge.

The most irreplaceable factors employees bring to the table are their skillsets. Their skills include training and development programs, experience in a specific field, and an understanding of companies’ cultures, systems, and work procedures.

7. Employees are the base of a strong and long-running organization.

Employees run the organization, no matter what level. This means their strength, commitment and dedication, and their emotional connection with the organization can’t be judged as assets in monetary value.

8. Motivated employees make a significant difference.

Employees reach new targets, meet customers’ demands and needs, develop new and innovative products, and perform enormous and huge efforts to achieve the company’s objectives.

9. Employees are major contributors to profits and worth of the organization.

It goes without saying, but employees can’t be given a monetary value for the effort they put in to help the business earn profits. This results in excellent customer reviews and creating brand loyalty from customers. Therefore, employees are the most valuable assets an organization has. It’s their abilities, knowledge, and experience that can’t be replaced. So, going forward, organizations need to place emphasis and importance on the contribution that employees that they have in order to propel themselves ahead.

6 Tips for Having a Tough Conversation with Your Boss

6 Tips for Having a Tough Conversation with Your Boss 1080 675 VP Legacies

Just like managers need to have tough conversations with their employees, employees need to have tough conversations with their bosses. Whether it’s a raise, a promotion, or an office conflict, employees need to feel like they can have tough conversations with their bosses without backlash.

As an employee, you want to feel empowered and confident to be able to speak to your boss. You want to build a relationship with your boss where they can be your mentor and advocate. Not only do you want to have that professional relationship, but you also want to have a personal relationship too. This relationship allows you to bring problems to their attention freely and openly.

Without further ado, here are six tips we have for having a tough conversation with your boss.

Explain the situation and context

One of the first steps when approaching your boss with a situation is to state your issue explicitly and give context around the issue. Your boss isn’t going to know what you’re thinking or feeling so you need to explain it to them. You also need to help them understand why you’re feeling a certain way and what prompted that.

Don’t waste time beating around the bush, just go straight into your issue. This doesn’t mean you’re being aggressive; you are just sharing facts from your point of view. By explaining your situation with “I” statements, you can explain your feelings to better explain your situation without coming off as aggressive.

Be honest and truthful

Though this may be a no-brainer, it’s a lot harder than you think to be honest and truthful when approaching your boss. While you want to exhibit candor, you don’t want to do so in a way that comes off as obnoxious. Be graceful and respectful when approaching your boss, choosing your words carefully. Don’t throw people under the bus or play the blame game. Make the conversation about you, not everyone else.

That being said, if something is bothering you, bring it up with your boss sooner rather than later. You don’t want to reach your tipping point before going to your boss with an issue. If you a non-confrontation person, this may be difficult for you because you anticipate the worst-case scenario if you do say something. However, it’s quite the opposite; it might be the best-case scenario if you have the courage to speak up.

Ask for your boss’s perspective

As an employee, you don’t have all the visibility into why your boss makes the decisions they do. You have no idea why they picked your co-worker for a project over you. That’s why it’s key to ask their perspective on the issue you bring to them. Don’t be afraid to ask them why they gave the project to your co-worker and ask what you can do next time, so you are at the top of the consideration list.

Go into the conversation with an open mind. Don’t think that your boss has it out for you because in most cases, they probably don’t. Finding out the reasoning behind their decisions can help you better understand their thought process. As a result, you might end up shifting your attitude and perspective to something more positive by the end of the conversation.

Make sure you reach a resolution and decide next steps

The worst thing you can do when talking to your boss is leaving the conversation unresolved. The whole purpose of meeting with your boss was to resolve the issue by the end of the conversation. You don’t want to leave anything unresolved. Use the time with your boss to bring up any and all issues to make sure you have answers for all of your concerns. Not only will laying everything out on the table will help with your conscious, but it will also help your boss’s too.

A way to do this is by assigning each party action items to complete. Maybe you need to follow up on something or your boss needs to talk to their supervisor. Whatever it is, make sure you decide what needs to get done before you end the conversation, so you have something to circle back on.

Ensure that you and your manager are in a trusting relationship

When talking with your manager, you want to make sure that you can trust them. Like a friend, you don’t want them to spread your conversation around as office gossip. You want to make sure they approach your conversation seriously and with full confidentiality.

In the case that you don’t trust your manager, reach out to another colleague in the company who you can trust and feel comfortable talking to. You want a good gut feeling about the person you’re talking to without questioning their level of trust. If employee-manager confidentiality becomes an issue, reach out to their supervisor to bring the issue to their attention.

Find a time to meet with your boss to make sure you have their full attention

Like many bosses, your boss is probably busy every day between meetings they have and work they need to get done. Set up your meeting with your boss at a time where you know you’ll have their full attention, so they can focus on the conversation with you without getting distracted by other work.

You also want to set up a meeting in person and in private. While a phone meeting is great, it doesn’t lend itself to emotion and body language, both of which convey how you are really feeling. Make sure your meeting is in a private room or your bosses office to have full confidentiality without the office hearing what you have to say.

It’s no easy feat talking to your boss. For some, it’s the hardest thing to do. However, it’s necessary to not only address conflict but build a relationship with your boss. With these tips, you’re sure to feel comfortable talking to your boss the next time a conflict comes up.

Key Takeaways from Recession-Proof Businesses

Key Takeaways from Recession-Proof Businesses 986 574 VP Legacies

It’s hard to start or operate a business, especially during a recession. That’s why people in an industry with an unpredictable market look for protective measures to weather the storm of economic downturns. Even if you started your business during a strong economy, a recession could quickly turn that successful business into a sweet memory. 

Some businesses, on the other hand, are essentially recession-proof. That means they either provide goods and services that people always need (perhaps even more during a recession), or their earnings are always low to moderate, so they always have to take extra precautions with their business strategies.

No matter the current financial health of your business, you never know what’s in store several years from now. In this article, we’re discussing some of the most popular recession-proof businesses and ways that you can learn from them to prepare yourself for the fluctuating economy. At VP Legacies, we believe in the power of communication. By learning how recession-proof businesses communicate effectively to maintain their cash flow and keep employees on board, you can learn how to help your company succeed in even the worst of times. By building personal connections through your communication strategies, you can help keep your business recession-proof.

Is there such a thing as a recession-proof business?

The short answer to that question is yes. During a recession, people turn towards cheaper product alternatives and certain financial services for assistance. 

If at one time someone shopped at a luxury boutique for their clothing, they may now turn to an outlet or department store. If they originally went to custom furniture manufacturers, they’d likely turn to retail furniture stores during a recession.

We will always need and want things, but where we get them will change during a recession. The best recession-proof businesses are discount purveyors who offer cheaper items at a lower price in whatever industry. 

Examples of recession-proof businesses

As we mentioned, the best recession-proof businesses are the ones that take an expensive offer that someone else has and they present it at a discounted price. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to lower your prices during a recession in order to stay afloat.

When audiences transition to a more affordable alternative, they’re likely to choose one they’ve already heard about. That means that the key to staying recession-proof is taking control of communication. Learn more about how recession-proof businesses use internal and external branding to prepare for tough years.

Food and Beverage


People need to eat regardless of what’s happening in the economy, but they don’t have the means to dine out as often. High-end restaurants take a significant hit during a recession because people stop eating out and start cooking at home more often. For that reason, grocery stores are also a solid business model during a recession. 

The grocery chain Hannaford owes its success to decentralized leadership. The 1980s recession hit many businesses in New England hard, but the company expanded into New York State and its profits increased to 18%. Its socio-technical model meant that both managers and employees had a say in hiring, pay scales, and rules – making sure that everyone felt heard. Because this fostered strong personal connection, employees were more likely to stay.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Building a Corporate Communication Strategy

Retail Consignment

We see more and more of these stores pop up all over the country. They are second-hand stores that offer clothing that is either previously worn or improperly designed. When people don’t have a lot of money, they turn to places like these to get their clothes. If you’ve ever heard of the clothing stores Gabes or Marshalls, these are great examples. 

TJ Maxx and Ross outperformed the entire retail industry during the Great Recession because they provided significant discounts. This has influenced the retail industry as a whole, causing consumers to expect deals and discounts constantly. When you enter either store, you’re likely to see advertisements reminding customers they’re doing themselves a favor by shopping there. In other words, customers feel valued when they get a bang for their buck.

Other businesses can extrapolate from this business model the principle of rewarding clients and customers. Instead of simply lowering prices, brands can use clear messaging to remind clients or customers why they chose them. By developing a communication strategy that clearly breaks down the services you provide and why they’re valuable, you can remind clients that they’re getting a good deal.

This strategy also applies to employees. You want your employees to feel just as valued as your customers since they’re the ones who keep everything running. Providing ample benefits and offering resources to attend training and conferences are just a couple of ways to do this.

Repair Industries

There will never come a time when things don’t break, and your car and home will always need someone to come and fix something. For contractors and mechanics, people are actually more prone to fixing something instead of replacing it during a tough economy. Areas like electronic and appliance repair struggle immensely during a good economy, but they thrive during a bad one. 

This factor is also true for automotive repair. The LA Times shared an article about a $36 billion increase in sales at automotive shops between 2010 and 2011. 

Places like Jiffy Lube can thrive during a recession because people will still get their oil changed. The company will advertise coupons and discounts to bring people in (meanwhile, their prices are still higher than your local garage). 

These businesses prosper because they feel absolutely necessary. In your branding, you should emphasize how your products or services are vital for expansion. By presenting your brand as a necessary tool instead of a nice-to-have perk, you’ll create a sense of urgency. But remember not to be too pushy. Like a good auto technician, you should present yourself with hospitality. Use branding to show the utility of your bottom line and to build personal connections with potential long-term clients.

Related: Crisis Management for Businesses

The impact of a recession on businesses

Economists define a recession as two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth. During a recession, we’ll experience job loss, income decline, reduction of manufacturing, and a reduced amount of spending in the marketplace.

Recessions impact all businesses big and small. For large businesses, stocks and dividends fall. When this happens, the investors who hold that stock may sell it and move their money to another stock that is performing well. This will only hurt the large business even more, which will lower the price of the company stock. 

Accounts receivable for both large and small companies will struggle as well. If customers are struggling to make ends meet and stay afloat, they will have a hard time paying bills, which can reduce or slow down revenues. Bankruptcies increase during recessions. From retail advertising and repair industries, we learn how rebranding your products and services in the context of a recession can show relevance. In turn, this helps your accounts payable remain stable.

Employee layoffs are common, and businesses will try to get more work out of each individual. This may lead to burnout and low morale by the employees left behind. Not to mention the employees who are without a job collecting unemployment benefits due to their layoff. As we can see in grocery employee management at Hannaford, communication between employees is vital to retain their trust. Whether to relay bad news or keep them at your company, communicating with true empathy can help you maintain your good name and stay afloat.

Tips for recession-proofing your business

While there is no straightforward answer to recession-proofing your business, there are some things you can do

  • Rebrand to focus on a discounted business model
  • Emphasize the ‘necessity’ of your business
  • Run with low overhead (people are less prone to judgment during hard economic times)
  • Involve employees in crisis conversations and strategic decisions
  • Minimize benefit cutbacks for employees
  • Do not cut back on internal or external marketing

Is there another recession on the horizon? 

As of the publishing of this article, the US economy is doing fine. Consumer confidence is relatively high, people continue spending money, and things are good. Does that mean this will last forever? 

Of course not. There are always warning signs, such as the recent international trade tariffs and political disagreement about financial policies.

Do we know if there is another recession coming? No, but using the tips in this article for strategic communication and branding during a recession will help you stay prepared. To consult with our skilled communication strategists, connect with us to find out more.
Related: 9 Reasons Why Your Employees Are Your Most Valuable Asset