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SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Top 2018 Employee Engagement Learning Trends

The New Year is right around the corner, and most employees are thinking about one of three career-related decisions. It is time to search for a new job, stay with my company or go back to school to improve their education.

A complicated reality to accept for most business owners is retaining top talent to save the expense of hiring new employees. Have no fear. We researched the latest employee engagement trends for you to use at your company in 2018.

1. Flexible Workplace Options
Think about the convenience you will add to non-customer facing employees lives such as accountants or telephone customer service reps with work beat the odds 01from home option. It can be a once per week or month program that can be beneficial to single mothers, students, or employees with disabilities. According to Forbes, a recent study by CTrip stated: “remote workers ended up making 13.5 percent more calls than their comparable office workers, which is the equivalent of almost a full extra day’s worth of work in a given week.” Employees working from home feel valued by their employer. The pressure of meeting a quota motivates them to work harder.

2. Healthcare Tailored to Employee Needs
Imagine what your employees will think if you introduce healthcare benefits that will suit their lifestyle. You can lower healthcare costs for employees that exhibit financial hardship. An example of a successful launch is Schneider Electric that noticed a decrease in healthcare claims after implementing an employee program where workers can select personal options that will meet their healthcare benefit needs.

3. Performance Management Technology
The day of paper surveys handed out to employees is a thing of the past. In 2018, companies will use online feedback platforms such as 360-degree feedback to discover their thoughts on improving products and the appearance of your shop. The feedback they offer to your competitors and how to improve the customer service experience will help companies succeed. It might appear to be an expense you would prefer not to spend, but employees speak with customers every day. They are the ears and eyes of your business.

Another trend in technology will be online invoicing platforms that help employees focus on important work versus entering mundane spreadsheets that consume their time.

4. Mobile Fosters Employee Engagement
The workforce attracts employees of all ages. The age of technology through smartphones will change the way employers communicate with their team. Most people prefer to receive information from text because emails can accidentally be deleted or end up in junk mail. Human resources departments will connect with employees with the following strategies:

  • Onboarding documents sent via SMS versus email
  • Friendly reminder of upcoming training or workplace events
  •  Connect with employees on payroll inquiries versus phone calls, emails

5. Time Off Programs
The popularity in Silicon Valley with some start-ups is granting unlimited vacation to help ease stress most people experience with heavy workloads. A few examples include a full day paid off for your birthday, half work days on Friday’s or a day off on the weekend if your state football team has a game. You can be creative or send a poll to employees to find out if 1 Personal Day per year will help with studying for exams, taking their child to the dentist or a day to relieve stress. If you notice your team is burnt out, it will negatively impact your bottom line.

A productive employee is one that will spend a few hours after their shift ends to do a good job cleaning up inventory.. It means an employee that will go the extra mile to put a smile on disgruntled customers face. The more productive employees are, the result can be increasing your profit.

 

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Bitcoin hits $15,000

Will anything stop this rocket to the Moon?

By James Vincent @jjvincent

 

bitcoin

llustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Bitcoin’s value crossed the $15,000 threshold for the first time today, marking another milestone in its dizzying ascent. In recent months, the cryptocurrency has undergone a staggering increase in value; surging from roughly $3,500 in mid-September to its current price. And at the start of the year, a single Bitcoin was worth less than $800.

What happens next is anyone’s guess, and most analysts are united only in their uncertainty over the cryptocurrency’s future. Bitcoin long ago stopped being useful for actually buying things (partly because of its rocketing value and partly because of achingly-slow transaction times), so the questions facing speculators are: is this a bubble? And if so, when will it burst?

bitcoin USD Price

 

Bitcoin’s price earlier today when it crossed the $15,000 threshold. Not long after it fell, back to $14,800. Image: Coindesk

Some traders figure we’re getting close, and are preparing to short Bitcoin; that is, make bets that its value will decrease in the future. “[It’s] one of the greatest shorting opportunities ever,” cryptocurrency Lou Kerner told Bloomberg earlier this week. “You have a lot of zealotry, and a lot of people, including me, who think it’s the greatest thing to ever happen in the history of mankind. You have a lot of people who think it’s a bubble and a Ponzi scheme. It turns out both of them can’t be right.”

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Six apps and trackers to find your lost gadgets

 

app trackers

© Depositphotos So that's where you left it ...

Finding yourself out and about without your smartphone can make you feel naked. We rely on these devices so much that losing them creates a huge problem, preventing you from messaging friends for aid or mapping your way back home.

Losing any similarly essential device, like your laptop, creates an equally huge headache. To rediscover these lost gadgets, we've collected tech that finds your tech. These six apps and trackers can plot your devices on a map, force them to make audible sounds, and perform other tricks to help you reunite.

For Apple: Find My iPhone/iPad/Mac
Apple wants you to keep its devices safe, and to that end, it built a phone and tablet tracker into iOS and a laptop finder into macOS. Enable the feature on all your Apple hardware, and you'll be able to see the current location of any device on a map.

To set it up on an iPhone or iPad, open Settings and tap your Apple ID at the top. Then pick your device and select Find My iPhone (or Find My iPad) to switch on the feature. On a computer, open System Preferences and click iCloud. Then tick the Find My Mac box. During this process, Apple may prompt you to sign in with your Apple ID credentials, so make sure you have your password close to hand.

Once you've enabled the tracker, you can forget about it until you need it. If you do lose a device, grab your remaining machine(s) and open the appropriate app: Find My iPhone on a phone, Find My iPad on a tablet, or the iCloud web app in any browser window. Sign in, click the All Devices menu, and pick a device to see its location on a map. Within this app, you can also select a device and prompt it to make a sound, lock itself, or erase all its data.

The lock option is particularly useful because you can make the lost device display a custom message. For example, if you lose your iPhone, make the gadget share a message requesting its safe return and providing an email address where finders can contact you. And to prevent those finders from snooping further, locking the screen will protect your data.

For Android: Find My Device
Like Apple, Google has included a device-locating tool, called Find My Device, on Android. To enable it, open Settings and tap Security & location. Turn the feature on to start tracking your phone or tablet. Then install the Find My Device app on a backup phone or tablet.

To see where your gadget is, you have a few options. Open the app on your backup device, visit the Find My Device web portal, or just sign into your Google account and then type "where's my device?" into the search engine. As with the Apple service, you can make the lost machine play a sound (even when it's in silent mode), lock the device while its screen displays a message, or completely erase your information. Check out a map to view its last known location, battery level, and even the name of the Wi-Fi network it's currently connected to. Based on this information, you can decide whether it's gone forever or still can be retrieved.

Unfortunately, Google doesn't offer similar protections for Chromebooks — at least for the time being. So if you lose one of these Chrome OS-powered laptops, you won't be able to find it through Google. However, keep reading to learn about a third-party app that may be able to do the job.

For Samsung: Find My Mobile
Samsung owners can use the aforementioned Google tracker or Samsung's built-in Find My Mobile tool, which works very similarly. To access it, first set up a password-protected Samsung account.

Next, enable the tracker by opening Settings, tapping Lock screen and security, and choosing Find My Mobile. On this menu, make sure to toggle the Remote controls switch to On so that you can operate your phone or tablet from another device.

If your gadget goes missing, head to the Find My Mobile website and sign in with your Samsung credentials. Here, you can check out the last known location of your phone or tablet on a map. Like with the other tracker apps, you can ring your device even if it's in quiet mode, lock it so nobody else will be able to access it, and wipe it remotely if you don't think you're going to get it back.

From the same website, you can perform other useful tasks, such as unlocking a device whose PIN you've forgotten and backing up data. Just pick the relevant option from the list on the right-hand side of the site.

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WeWork is buying Meetup

WeWork

 

WeWork has agreed to buy Meetup for an undisclosed amount, the coworking company announced. It’s a natural fit between WeWork, valued at $20 billion, and Meetup, a community platform with 35 million members that has hosted more than 300,000 “IRL” events (in real life), Mashable notes. WeWork has continued to rapidly expand its empire — including purchasing Lord & Taylor’s flagship New York store, opening a private kindergarten, and leading a $32 million investment in a women’s coworking space. Meetup will stay a standalone company for now, but will go on a hiring spree, per Wired.

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4 Reasons Small Businesses Fail at Local SEO

Local SEO is the wave of the future. People are glued to their mobile devices 24/7 and are looking for services near them more than ever. Those who are still stuck in the pre-mobile-first era are bound to be left behind unless they ramp up their local SEO efforts. Unfortunately, many small business owners have absolutely no clue how local SEO works and end up making mistakes that can set them back. Find some examples below:

Incorrect or Outdated Information

One of the most important things with local SEO is the consistency of your contact information. If your SEO Failinformation is all over the place and is inconsistent across platforms, your rankings will be affected. Make sure that you double check every outlet where your address is listed, whether it is a business directory, Facebook page and, of course, your Google My Business address.

Not Having a Google My Business Page

For those of us who are familiar with local SEO, we may take our Google My Business page for granted, but there are still a surprisingly high number of businesses who don’t have one setup. Whether it’s by ignorance, or simply because they don’t see the benefits of it, many business owners still are absent from Google’s business directory.

Others wrongfully believe that the information generated by local searches comes from their website. However, all listings in local results come from Google My Business page information. So, if you don’t have one, you have no chance to rank locally. You should create one immediately; it only takes a few minutes to complete. Just make sure that you don’t skip the verification at the end as it will be used to authenticate your address. 

No going the Extra Mile to get Reviews

Reviews are another crucial aspect of local search rankings. Sites at the top not only have more reviews on average, but also good reviews. If you have bad reviews, you’ll have no choice but to address recurring problems and commit to quality. Don’t be afraid to interact with negative posters and don’t make the mistake of coming off as defensive. Sincerely show that you’re listening to your customer's concerns and are ready to make some changes.

If you don’t have enough reviews, you’ll have to be more proactive in getting reviews from your clients. One of the great ways to get reviews is to add it as part of your packaging. For instance, if you’re in the restaurant business, something as simple as a message that prompts your visitors to review your restaurant on Google could make the world of difference.

Conclusion

Local SEO should play a central role in any marketing strategy. It’s one of the most effective marketing methods out there and is completely organic, allowing you to reap the benefits over time.

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