The Top 10 In-Effective Habits of Smartphone Zombies

The side effects of extensive smartphone use is a term called the smartphone zombie. If you have suffered from three or more of these habits or symptoms, please go to a smartphone addiction counsellor as you are at risk of becoming a zombie—which is a terminal condition as you will be part the living dead.

1. In a crowded room you hear a beep and grab your smartphone in a nervous twitch. This is an early symptom of being a smartphone zombie, diagnosed as the Crackberry addiction.

2. You are constantly checking your smartphone for email wherever you go, even in meetings with real people. Another early warning sign, you will need to go to a life fear management session or get a medical marijuana prescription so you can calm down.

3. When your battery is dead you suffer from anxiety attacks, as people cannot reach you. This is another symptom of the Crackberry addiction; it is best that you not use the smartphone for 48 hours until the anxiety subsides.

4. You hide in a room and text with your friends. You forget how to communicate verbally with friends and family. This “zombie like trance” of non-verbal communication is a  clear sign that you lack any people skills and will lead to a dysfunctional state of mind.

5. When you misplace your smartphone you have a panic attack when you search your house or work looking for the smartphone. If you suffer from these panic attacks you better go see your doctor, as this is unhealthy as this may lead to other medical conditions.

6. Looking at your smartphone while walking and bumping into a person, mailbox or pole. In the UK due to the high number of zombie accidents on pedestrian walkways they plan to have padded poles on all sidewalks and in China they have smartphone lanes where people cannot stand still in.

7. Crossing the street while texting and not noticing it is a red light. This is one of the more dangerous habits as you may only do this once, except in NY where drivers are accustomed to people walking through red lights.

 8. You sleep with your smartphone in bed as it makes you feel secure. If you tend to have this phobia, you better go to the country or cottage and get some rehab and disconnect for a while. You better get a teddy bear to help with the withdrawal symptoms during your 60 day rehab.

9. Slowing down traffic at a traffic light while checking for a text or email message. You ever notice why a car is standing still at a stop light while its green. Now you know. This can be a cause of driver fury on the roads from these in-attentive drivers.

10. Texting while driving and causing a traffic accident by hitting the car in front of you. It has been estimated that 23% of all car accidents are caused by texting and driving. My guess repeat offenders in the future will have to disconnect their phone before the car can start, just like they do for drinking and driving.

Top 10 reasons businesses should outsource payroll

Owning a small business means wearing many metaphorical hats, some of which may feel like a more natural fit than others. You likely started your business to explore a particular passion or bring a unique offering to your industry, but may have underestimated the administrative burden of the more tedious tasks in your “job jar” like processing payroll for employees.

One of the most deceptively complex tasks in running a business is managing payroll, and ensuring your staff are compensated accurately and on-time for their hard work is imperative. From capturing hours worked, ensuring compliance with federal and provincial legislation and administering employee benefits to managing pay stubs, tax forms and employee turnover, there is far more to payroll than simply cutting a cheque.

Managing the administration of these tasks can be cumbersome, complex and ultimately stressful. And while processing payroll is critical, it’s almost certainly not the “why” of your business. In the spirit of helping small business owners like you get back to doing what you love, we’ve compiled the top 10 reasons why you should consider outsourcing your payroll:

1. Contrary to popular belief, you actually can buy time…

Engaging a third-party payroll expert gives you access to workforce management solutions and knowledgeable advice about how to complete these tasks most effectively. This saves you from having to discover these best practices the hard way, and allows you to focus your strategic attention on what got you into business in the first place.

2.…and still save money in the process

While outsourcing payroll obviously carries a financial cost, a time/cost analysis often indicates the benefits of engaging an affordable and qualified payroll service provider. The maxim that “time is money” is indeed true, and the time you spend calculating payroll each period, preparing and distributing pay statements, creating reports to better understand overtime pay, or preparing and remitting taxes to government agencies may very well be costing you valuable time which could otherwise be focused on sales, customer service or other areas core to your business.

3. Your payroll provider will keep you current and compliant…

One less thing to watch for in the 24 hour news cycle – when federal and provincial legislation changes, a good payroll solution will flag that rates need to be adjusted for your employees based on jurisdiction. It should also provide insightful year-end reports each pay run with details on overages or shortages pertaining to Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) or Employment Insurance (EI) remittances.

4…and you’ll never miss a tax remittance

Speaking of CPP and EI, whether you have thousands of employees or just one, you can choose to partner with a payroll solutions provider that submits directly to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and Revenue Québec on your behalf. Late remittance penalties can be costly, at up to 10% depending on the length of the delay and even double that in the case of multiple occurrences. Your annual payroll fees through a third party may end up being less than one substantial penalty!

5. You’re building a great team that deserves to be paid accurately and on time, every time…

A payroll application will stay on top of statutory holidays and bank closures in your jurisdiction, setting and providing the year’s resulting pay schedule to keep everyone on the same page. It also allows for quick and automated direct deposits, eliminating the manual work of writing a cheque or the risk of cheques arriving late. Custom implementation options also exist to ensure your wage calculations, accruals and deductions are set up to meet your business’s specific needs.

6.…and to access their personal information easily, but securely

You can empower your employees to access their own pay stubs, tax forms, schedules and time off requests, all from a mobile interface. Look for a provider that offers the convenience of self-service options – this not only saves time, but the reduced paper waste means a smaller carbon footprint. As a bonus, your team will appreciate the convenience of having their own information stored securely online but also accessible anytime, anywhere, rather than having to wait for subs to mailed or handed out.

7. Not too techie? Not a problem

Rather than having to purchase, install, learn, update and license constantly-evolving software for multiple devices, find a payroll provider that serves their clients the latest and greatest version of their solution every time they log in via a cloud-based system. Not being tethered to a particular computer to access your payroll account not only means a better user experience; it also means the freedom to do so from wherever your day takes you.

8. Your accountant just might hug you

Payroll processing companies can provide you with a wide array of reports to address the most common and comprehensive reporting requirements, many of which may not be available within your generalized software or take a long time to figure out or develop. These providers can likely also develop reports specific to your company as needed. Your accountant will appreciate both the clarity and the consistency provided by these reports – no more fiddling with Excel, wading through a shoebox of paperwork or trying to decipher a messy notebook.

9.  can start looking forward to year-end again

Wouldn’t it be great if the end of the year could go back to simply being a time for reflection on the past 12 months and goal-setting for the year to come (or even a vacation)? Outsourcing your payroll could mean guidance through each step and development of a complete, hassle-free year-end package that you know is in full compliance with all the necessary standards without eating up those valuable first weeks of the new year.

10. You’re not alone!

Being an entrepreneur is incredibly rewarding, but the pressure to become a subject matter expert on every area of your business can be a tremendous weight. Selecting a partner for payroll will allow you to take a breath and share the load with someone dedicated to helping you succeed. Find added value in payroll providers that offer a more personal service model, where each customer is assigned a knowledgeable contact that they can reach out to anytime they have a question on payroll in general or about the provider’s products specifically.

The right payroll partner can be an incredible asset and offer the peace of mind that you deserve while growing your business. We encourage you to research the options that would be the best fit for you and invest in your own potential.


Top 10 Reasons You Need to Revamp Your Employee Training Program

When things change and evolve in your company, you’ll notice the little details telling you that your training program is in need of updates as well. Revamp as a verb means “give new and improved form, structure, or appearance to.” So, it doesn’t necessarily mean a total gut rehab.  It’s kind of like the old paint in your family room. When you get a bright new rug or hang a new piece of art, you notice the drab walls need updating too. And then you want a new sofa, light fixture, and a bigger TV, but I digress.

Here are the top 10 reasons you may need to revamp your employee training program:

1. Leadership Change

When leadership changes hands, it means a number of other changes will cascade through the organization. Will the organization’s focus change? Will some skills be emphasized over others? Will the values of the company change? Under Tim Cook’s leadership, Apple has acquired many innovative companies. This likely shifted the training focus from innovation to diversity and cultural considerations. 

2. Strategic Plan Change

Perhaps your leadership has not changed, but the direction they want to go has. A change in the strategic plan can mean new skills are needed, both for employees and for managers. If a sea-change is happening at your organization, get ready to retool your training program to accommodate the new vision. When Netflix decided to separate their DVD and streaming businesses and started creating their own content, I am sure their employee training programs were revamped to help meet this new vision.

3. Rapid Growth

If your organization has grown rapidly in an organic way, chances are good that the growth has outpaced what your employee training program can handle. In this case, you find that you cannot onboard new employees quickly enough and overwhelm employees with a workload that leaves no time for training and risks burnout. It will quickly become apparent that your current program cannot keep up with training needs. 

4. Merger or Acquisition

If your organization has grown suddenly due to a merger or acquisition, the challenge will be different. You have to consider different learning cultures, technologies, and content. Are the cultures compatible? What are the expectations on policies and procedures on training for employees and managers in this new organization? Can one of the technologies easily scale or do you need a new system? Is the content still relevant? How much new content needs to be created?

5. Downsized Department

Company growth can mean that your needs outpace your training capacity. Capacity can also shrink if your department loses personnel due to budget cuts. 

Think about what that might mean for your training program. Will you be able to use a smaller team with less budget and still meet the organization’s training demands? If your organization has primarily focused on instructor-led classes, how can the smaller team keep up? If you’ve become a training department of one, or two, you may need to consider using off-the-shelf training. 

6. Insufficient Reporting

Insufficient reporting is one of the biggest challenges for employee training programs. If you do not define your goals and measure the appropriate metrics to ensure progress toward those goals, you’ll have no way of knowing whether your training is effective… or how it might be deficient. 

ej4 provides microlearning videos that combines instructional design with adult learning theories and is delivered via contemporary video design

7. Poor Ratings

One of the most uncomfortable moments comes when leadership asks about the efficacy of a training program, and you realize you don’t have the right metrics or evidence to back up your claims one way or another. Time to revamp and find the platform that provides robust reporting. 

If you do a survey after training has wrapped up, you might find that attendees just weren’t that into it. Are you seeing comments like “We’ve done this training several times already and it’s repetitive,” or “This training really didn’t seem to address issues going on here right now,” or “I was bored.” Are you seeing more “thumbs down”? Are exam scores dropping? Is attendance down?

I think many trainers put their heart and soul into their courses and would take immediate action to address poor evaluations as quickly as possible. Sometimes the workload and resources do not allow for timely changes. 

8. Disengaged Learners

If you are doing surveys and evaluations, as I just mentioned, you may see indicators of disengagement. In a classroom setting, you can observe the posture, eye contact, and level of participation. You can also, unfortunately, hear the snoring and see the empty seats. It is more difficult with online training to identify disengaged learners. You can run reports on the number of people logging in and taking courses and see high numbers, but learners may still be disengaged and simply going through the motions. 

9. Outdated Content

Sometimes the content itself will tell you there’s a problem. If you have training videos with clothing and hairstyles from a decade ago, that’s a clear sign you’re overdue for an update. (And no, you can’t just wait for it to come back in style someday!) Outdated graphics and music can be a giveaway, too.

Outdated content is more than old visuals, it’s about the actual content and learning points. A current course on the types of communication at work should include text and instant message with little or no mention of faxing. Safe driving training should include cell phones as a possible distraction. It’s probably the main distraction. 

10. Lack of Modern Topics

Your training program as a whole might need to be revamped to take into account more recent topics, issues, and laws. California, Connecticut, Maine, New York state, and New York City all have unique requirements around harassment training. Other modern topics include opioid addiction and active shooter situations given their current relevance. The same goes for digital media and phone addiction.

Some topics naturally have a “window of relevance.” Remember Y2K? Or more recently GDPR? I would bet that more and more training courses will begin addressing how to work with “Generation Z” in addition to “How to work with Millennials.” (Did you realize the “elder millennials” are nearing 40? “Elder Millennial” term borrowed from the comedian Iliza Schlessinger)

Don’t Let an Outdated Employee Training Program Linger

Now that you know what to look for, you might “notice the paint peeling” on your training program, too. Now is the time to fix it. Keep in mind: On average, 40% of employees in the U.S. leave their jobs within the first year because of poor training. Quality training, on the other hand, helps employees feel valued, fosters innovation, and has an appreciably high ROI. 

About the Author: Kathy Irish is a company blogger for ej4 . ej4 provides microlearning videos that combines instructional design with adult learning theories and is delivered via contemporary video design. 4 CityPlace Drive,  Suite 450 St. Louis, MO 63141 (314) 878-6700

Top Ten Mistakes In Advertising #10 – Ad COPY Creative Strategy

Today for Number Ten and this one strikes at the heart of creative and that’s quite simply, how to not create lousy ads and the importance of good copy based on a a creative strategy. You’ve seen them, you can probably rhyme two or three off the top of your head just like that. There is no way to put it delicately but most advertising fails, as high as 90% by some reports.

WHAT!!  Ninety percent! Yes, and why? Because they don’t excite and engage the reader. They don’t pique curiosity. They don’t tell the reader to pay attention. They blend into the background and become invisible. They are too boring.  As I said, there’s not a way to put this delicately. But if your message isn’t that engaging to pull someone’s attention, how in the world are you going to get them down to the bottom of the ad when you can’t even get their interest at the top of the ad. 

I mentioned Mr. John Caples earlier in this series. He was a prolific ad tester. He was also a very good ad writer and arguably his most famous was an ad he wrote for a US School of Music correspondence in 1926 where the headline read:

“They laughed when I sat down to play the piano, but when I started to play!”

Then he went through some wonderful storytelling. That headline captivated people through the entire ad and directed them to the clip out coupon to order some music lessons by mail. It was an unqualified success and it was repeated for decades because it continued to pique the readers’ curiosity. 

Caples’ Three-Step Approach to Creativity

Capture the prospect’s attention. Nothing happens unless something in your ad, your mailing, or your commercial makes the prospect stop long enough to pay attention to what you say next.

  • Maintain the prospect’s interest. Keep the ad, mailing, or commercial focused on the prospect, on what he or she will get out of using your product or service.
  • Move the prospect to favorable action. Unless enough “prospects” are transformed into “customers”, your ad has failed, no matter how creative. That’s why you don’t stop with A/I/A (Attention, Interest/Action), but continue right on with testing.
  • Your headline makes or breaks your ad and many a seasoned copywriter will tell you just how important those few words are to a getting the reader into the rest of the story.

Caples’ Five Rules for Writing Great Headlines:

David Ogilvy on the importance of Headlines

1. First and foremost, try to get self-interest into every headline you write. Make your headline suggest to the readers that here is something they want. This rule is so fundamental that it would seem obvious. Yet the rule is violated every day by scores of writers.

2. If you have news, such as a new product, or a new use for an old product, be sure to get that news into your headline in a big way.

3. Avoid headlines that merely provoke curiosity. Curiosity combined with news or self-interest is an excellent aid to the pulling power of your headline, but curiosity by itself is seldom enough. This fundamental rule is violated more often than any other. Every issue of every magazine and newspaper contains advertising headlines that attempt to sell the reader through curiosity alone.

4. Avoid, when possible, headlines that paint the gloomy or negative side of the picture. Take the cheerful, positive angle.

“5. Try to suggest in your headline that here is a quick and easy way for the readers to get something they want.

That’s what you have to do. To fix this dear readers, well quite honestly you simply have to create better ads. It all starts with the words. Those 26 letters of the alphabet are your key to sales. Whether you write it for yourself or you have an agency or a professional do it for you. You want ads that are informative, that get the prospect eager to have more of this. Whatever your this happens to be.  To get them into the ads you need to create a great headline. And a great headline is responsible for upwards of 80% of the success of the ad. It has to stop you and pull you in. It has to have STOPPING power. 

INSIDER TIP: These fundamentals of advertising copywriting can be used in all your marketing communications as the importance of a subject header in an email newsletter, headline in a billboard, banner ad, print ad and flyers. The rules are different for radio and tv and pre-roll video as the words are replaced with sound and video.

About the Author: Dennis Kelly is an advertising expert with 30 years of wisdom to share for Office Today readers and is the author of two books “Nine Secrets To Improve Your Advertising” and “57 Media Spikes”. CLICK HERE to learn more. Office Today Readers receive a FREE 30 Minute consultation with Dennis to discuss what your next media moves should be. Send an e-mail with OFFICE TODAY CONSULTATION in subject line and the best times to chat. Email

1 2 3 13