Driving Force: Rep. Dan Leonard Named 2016 Government Leader of the Year

Old habits die hard. And that’s a good thing – for Hoosier businesses and their employees – when linked to Dan Leonard’s propensity to serve others.

He fondly recalls time spent as a child at his parent’s country grocery store. Leonard started ringing up customers as soon as he was tall enough (aided by a trusty bar stool) to reach the cash register.

“I remember the first day we had a $100 day in the grocery store. It was a big deal!” he says with a laugh.

Those early memories sparked a penchant for building relationships and a passion for making a difference – whatever the scale.

Leonard owns South Side Furniture of Huntington, a business he purchased from his father in 1978. Elected to the Indiana House of Representatives in 2002, he serves Huntington County, and portions of Wells and Allen counties. He’s a member of the House Ways and Means Committee (and local government finance subcommittee chair), Judiciary Committee and is the speaker of the House’s appointee to the Native American Indian Affairs Commission…

Read the full story in BizVoice.

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M.J. Schuetz Insurance Services: Maximizing Chamber Investment Through Compliance Resources

Wolcott_Vickie“I trust them.”

That’s why Vickie Wolcott relies on a variety of Chamber resources to help keep M. J. Schuetz Insurance Services, an Indiana Chamber member since 1994, in compliance with state and federal laws.

She began working at the Indianapolis firm, which specializes primarily in commercial insurance, 37 years ago as a receptionist. Today, she’s one of the owners and serves as president.

Purchasing mandatory state and laminated poster sets has become a tradition.

“Whenever they come out, I make sure I order them immediately because I really trust them,” Wolcott declares.

The Chamber’s Indiana Employment Forms publication is another favorite.

“We have our agency policies and things like that in place, but it’s always nice to have them (forms) on hand as a backup and an extra resource,” Wolcott asserts. “I look at those to make sure we’re in compliance with everything. They make it very easy for me.”

She cites one more valuable tool: free, confidential helplines.

Wolcott reveals, “It’s always (provided) good feedback for me and been a trusted resource.”

Exploring a ‘Best’-Kept Secret

mobi

This is going to be good!

Like a kid in a candy store, my eyes widened as I gazed around the spacious surroundings at MOBI, an Indianapolis-based provider of software and services that helps businesses manage mobility.

Maybe it was the infectious energy enveloping employees as they chuckled, collaborated and consumed – in moderation – an adult beverage, courtesy of Frank the Tank (MOBI’s kegerator). Perhaps it was the colorful décor that so aptly captured the vibrant personality of its people. Something was special about MOBI.

Make yourself at home at MOBI with this BizVoice® magazine story about its honor as one of the 2016 Best Places to Work in Indiana.

Plagued by a Poor Attitude?

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If you’re channeling Robert De Niro’s defiant dialogue in the iconic “Taxi Driver” in the way you treat co-workers and handle projects, chances are you’ve got an attitude problem.

But maybe it’s not that blatant. What if you’re blissfully unaware of how you’re coming across?

This U.S. News & World Report article lays out several scenarios. Among them:

You’re grumpy. A lot. Everyone has occasional frustrations at work, but if your job and everyone around you regularly irritate you, and you’re not shy about letting people know it, people are going to dread working with you. If your frustrations impact you to the point that everyone knows about them, it’s probably time to decide whether you can find a way to be reasonably happy at work or whether it’s time to move on. Otherwise, you’ll do serious harm to your reputation and ultimately could even lose your job.

You never want to hear that you could have done something differently or better. If you get defensive when you get feedback on your work, you could be doing yourself serious harm. It’s tough to give feedback to a defensive person, and many people will simply stop trying. That means that you won’t get information that you need to grow professionally, which can significantly limit your prospects and your long-term success. Plus, people who do stick it out and keep giving you feedback anyway are likely to resent that you make it so unpleasant to do it.

You’re preoccupied with “what’s in it for you.” It’s reasonable to expect that over time, good work should pay off – with better assignments, raises and career advancement. But the key words there are “over time.” It’s not reasonable to expect special rewards every time you’re asked to go even slightly outside your routine responsibilities. Doing that is just part of being on a team (within reason, of course).

One pointer provoked a gasp: Don’t roll your eyes during meetings or have other visibly negative facial expressions. That’s beyond exhibiting a bad attitude – it’s insolence, plain and simple.

Workers Crave More than Currency

domination concepts with apples

Losing weight isn’t always fun. Dropping the pounds is rewarding, but the journey can be tough. Very tough.

Wouldn’t it be nice to get paid for your efforts? It turns out that doesn’t always entice employees, according to a new study.

Here’s a taste:

The study, published in January’s issue of the journal Health Affairs, reported the results of a yearlong randomized controlled trial to test the effectiveness of financial incentives to encourage weight loss among 197 obese employees of the University of Pennsylvania health system.

Participants were asked to lose 5% of their weight. Each was assigned to one of four study groups. The control group wasn’t offered any financial rewards. The three other groups were offered an incentive valued at $550.

People in one group were told they would begin receiving health insurance premium discounts biweekly immediately after reaching their weight loss goal. In another group, the people were told they would receive biweekly premium adjustments the following year if they reached their goal. Volunteers in the final group were eligible for a daily lottery payment if they met their daily weight loss goal and weighed in the previous day.

At year’s end, no group had met the 5% weight loss target. Participants’ average weight was virtually unchanged, whether or not they had a financial incentive to lose pounds. Nineteen percent of participants did meet the 5% target, but they weren’t concentrated in any particular group.

Spectrum Technology: Maximizing Its Chamber Investment

Penno_ThomasCall it a stroke of luck.

When Tom Penno, chief operating officer at Spectrum Technology, attended the Chamber’s Annual Human Resources Conference & Expo for the first time, he happened to sit next to Indiana Chamber director of human resources Michelle Kavanaugh.

“We don’t have a full-time HR person, so you get into some areas that you think, ‘I’m not sure how I should proceed with this,’ ” Penno reflects. “I got to talking with her and have touched base several times over the past six to eight months (via the Chamber’s free, confidential HR helpline) regarding how to proceed in delicate situations and for clarification on various issues.

“She’s clear and very good at coaching. She’s assisted us in helping employees through difficult situations.”

Indianapolis-based Spectrum provides IT-managed services. Clients represent industries ranging from manufacturing, law and accounting to marketing, public relations and architecture.

“We focus on companies from 20 people up to several hundred,” Penno explains. “We help them with strategic planning around their infrastructure to keep their core business up and running.”

He emphasizes that the HR Helpline “saves me time because she’s (Kavanaugh) incredibly responsive, and it saves me money because I’m not calling an attorney. It’s wonderful.

“I would say that without question, I don’t bat an eye now when I think of the annual Chamber membership dues. I do find myself wondering, ‘What else am I not tapping into?’”

Hylant: Maximizing Its Chamber Investment

Orr_Shannon2How do you share your company culture with a crowd of 1,200 in a fun, festive atmosphere?

It’s one of the perks that comes with sponsoring the Best Places to Work in Indiana Awards Dinner and program.

“It’s an environment unlike any other,” declares Hylant office manager Shannon Orr. “This was the second year we were the partner sponsor for the event. To be able to celebrate with clients and those on the list – that’s huge for us.”

A bit of background about the Best Places to Work in Indiana program: Honorees are announced each February, with rankings unveiled at the May awards dinner. Winners are recognized in four categories – small, medium, large and major – and selected based on employer reports and anonymous employee surveys.

Hylant, one of the largest privately-held insurance brokerage firms in the United States, was among the 100 companies that made the 2015 Best Places to Work in Indiana list. It ranked No. 3 in the large employer category.

Headquartered in Toledo, Ohio, Hylant has offices in six states. Indiana locations include Bloomington, Fort Wayne and Indianapolis.

“Rolling out the red carpet” for team members and clients through training programs – particularly those that focus on human resources and wellness – is another way Hylant partners with the Chamber.

“It’s a great opportunity to invite clients and prospects to participate in something they’re interested in,” Orr emphasizes, “and to have meaningful, thought-provoking conversations on topics that matter to them.”

Elements Financial: Maximizing Its Chamber Investment Through Wellness

Shickel_ToddWhen people want to be healthy, they usually consider a balanced diet and regular exercise. Too often, though, they do not think of how their personal finances are part of their health.

Todd Shickel, assistant vice president of business development at Elements Financial (a Chamber member since 1999 with 150 employees), believes companies should take a more holistic approach to wellness. Elements Financial’s partnership with the Wellness Council of Indiana (WCI) has allowed it to reach a new audience as an expert in the field of financial wellness.

“We found that sometimes employers have been hesitant in supporting their employees’ financial wellness,” Shickel explains. “We have been able to demonstrate to them the effect it has on their (employees’) performance at work. The stressors connected to that can impact physical health, which affects productivity and performance.”

Elements Financial is a credit union which works with businesses to help employees plan and manage their personal finances. The company is a premiere sponsor of the WCI and Shickel is a member of its board of advisors.

Shickel worked with Chuck Gillespie, executive director of the WCI, to learn about the five components of well-being: physical, financial, community, social and personal wellness. These components guided a company wellness program at Elements Financial that has improved the workplace. Elements Financial has been named as one of Indiana’s Best Places to Work for six years running.

“If you look at the five components of well-being, our company definitely has something in place for each of those and we can talk to other employers about it,” Shickel says. “We are practicing what we preach, and it gives us credibility.”

Shickel’s workplace also incentivizes wellness for its employees by giving “wellness points” that may add up to a gift or a reimbursement to employees’ health savings accounts. He says employees have really incorporated wellness into the office culture.

“Wellness doesn’t have to be this huge mountain that is impossible to climb,” Shickel assures. “If you reach out to the Wellness Council, you are going to find there are a lot of resources out there and ways to keep the costs down.”

Rochester’s Appraisal Management Research Co. Maximizes Its Chamber Investment Through Helplines

Cook_DavidDavid Cook has called Rochester home since 1989. One year later, he incorporated property tax consulting firm Appraisal Management Research Company (AMRC) — an Indiana Chamber member since 1993.

Its core team of six employees works with a variety of companies. “We’re small, but we accomplish a lot,” remarks Cook, who serves as president.

Remaining informed on state and local laws is critical. He describes how AMRC has benefited from the expertise of Bill Waltz, Indiana Chamber vice president of taxation policy.

“I’ve known Bill for a long time,” Cook shares. “He (on many occasions) would help us keep up-to-date on various changes in the property tax laws.”

In addition, Cook seeks free, confidential guidance on human resources matters by calling the HR Helpline.

“I like to get an opinion,” he asserts. “We do, as necessary, work with an attorney also, but Michelle (Kavanaugh, human resources director at the Chamber) was very helpful in reviewing our personnel policy guidelines and helping us update those. That saves quite a bit of money rather than an attorney doing that. It’s very helpful.”

Try This On for Size

iStock_000062439902_Large - Copy“Mirror, mirror on the wall. This lighting doesn’t work for me at all.”

My amusing poem is a fitting way to describe how shoppers are using “smart mirrors” to enhance their experiences.

Where have you been all of my life?

Let’s take a look at how the technology, which can be found in dressing rooms at places such as Ralph Lauren’s flagship store, works:

Equipped with radio-frequency identification technology that tracks items via their tags, the room identifies every item that enters and reflects it back on the mirror that doubles as a touchscreen. Shoppers can interact with the mirror, which functions like a giant tablet, to control the lighting, request alternate items or style advice from a sales associate.

“There’s this narrative that ecommerce collects better data – but online, it’s black and white. The physical world contains all these shades of grey that are truly interesting,” says Healey Cypher, who has built his career around twin concepts, namely that brick-and-mortar shopping isn’t going anywhere and the experience is in desperate need of a technological upgrade.

He’s working on it. Cypher is the CEO and co-founder of Oak Labs Interactive, the company behind the interactive mirrors, which just announced it has raised $4.1 million in a seed round led by Wing Venture Capital to bring refine the technology and bring it to more retailers. …

For retailers, the key draw is the wealth of collected data. By tracking each item that enters a dressing room, Ralph Lauren can determine how shoppers are interacting with its clothes. Is a jacket frequently being tried on, but isn’t selling? This likely indicates the look is popular, but the fit isn’t. Equally valuable: how customers interact with the touchscreen. Are they buying recommended items? How are they interacting with sales associates? Oak Labs analyzes the data and distills it into digestible and actionable insights.

This idea isn’t a new one – Nordstrom has experimented with interactive mirrors in its fitting rooms, and designer Rebecca Minkoff’s flagship store in New York City has employed nearly identical technology for about a year, to huge results. Since its installation, the store reportedly tripled its clothing sales.

Read the full Entrepreneur story.