It’s All About Innovation

Innovation (and workforce and a few other things) is the name of the game when it comes to Indiana business development. It’s featured throughout the Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 plan. And innovation will be the focus of a late August event.

Centric is an Indianapolis-based innovation think tank and networking group, with the goal of making the city (and beyond) a globally recognized center for innovation. The Indiana Innovation Awards strive to recognize innovation and excellence throughout the state. The two come together at Centric’s Day of Innovation on August 28.

To be nominated for the awards, an organization must have launched a product or service in the past three years that has shown success and is considered innovative in its market. Past Indiana Innovation Awards winners include Cultural Trail, TinderBox, Delta Faucet, Yikes, Brackets for Good, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and many others.

 

 

Congress Can Do It, But You Can’t

An interesting blurb in a recent Kiplinger newsletter on one of the privileges of congressional service:

Congress can do what employers can’t when it comes to health coverage: use tax-advanced funds to reimburse workers who buy individual health care policies on exchanges. Employers face a tax penalty of $100 a day per worker for violations.

Yet the government gives lawmakers and Capitol Hill staffers tax free contributions to help offset insurance premiums, covering about 72% of exchange-bought insurance. The government allowed the payments because of concerns about higher premiums and the loss of the government subsidy for insurance for both lawmakers and staff.

The IRS restated its view that such subsidies aren’t permitted in the private sector after some vendors told employers that the pretax payments would allow them to meet the mandate to provide insurance. The double standards isn’t likely to change.

It’s Your Chance to be All-IN

The Indiana Humanities Council has a mission of encouraging Hoosiers to think, read and talk in order to connect people, open minds and enrich lives. It has been a partner of the Indiana Chamber in past programs and initiatives.

The Council has a question for Hoosiers: Are you ALL-IN? Find out by engaging in a series of challenges that will help you learn more about your state. It’s an important way of adding “doing” to the think, read and talk mission.

Companies and other organizations are already signing up for friendly competitions or to simply engage their employees.

Learn more and be ALL-IN.

Following the Rules in Hiring Veterans

The Indiana Chamber’s monthly Policy Issue Conference Call in May focused on guidance in matching military veterans with available job openings. The American Jobs for America’s Heroes campaign, which is leading the way in that effort, has a publication for federal contractors to ensure they are meeting new guidelines.

American Jobs for America’s Heroes (AJAH) has published a free “business English” summary guide to the new OFCCP VEVRAA regulations requiring that 7.2% of new federal contractor hires are “protected veterans.” (This percentage will be updated annually by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs).

If a company has at least one federal contract with a value of $100,000 or more, then the company is subject to new regulations issued under the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Rehabilitation Assistance Act (VEVRAA) that went into effect on March 24, 2014.
This free AJAH Guide distills 60 pages of confusing regulations into an easy-to-follow guide for meeting VEVRAA requirements.

You can download it here:

“Businesses that capitalize on the employment of veterans are investing in long-term stability and proven reputations. They are investing in a network of extraordinary individuals with the training, experience and values every business is searching for. Let’s invest in the future of our nation by connecting business with veterans,” said U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who authored the Foreword for the Guide. “The American Jobs for America’s Heroes campaign is an effective resource to help businesses accomplish this goal.”

The AJAH campaign enables employers to post jobs at no cost that are provided directly to military employment counselors in the National Guard and other military branches. These counselors are working one-on-one with military candidates to match them with postings. All services are free. You can register to participate in five minutes and access many free educational videos, booklets and webinar replays.

Questions? Contact: Steve Nowlan, Center for America, at 201-513-0379.

BizVoice Keeps Earning Accolades

Six recent honors from the Indiana Society of Professional Journalists and the national APEX competition raise the BizVoice total of national and state recognitions to 69. The honors received for 2013 work include:

APEX Awards of Excellence:

Indiana SPJ

One of the highlights remains a Grand Award in the national APEX competition for the “Let’s Make a (Business) Deal” five-story package in the September-October 2011 edition. Stories were written by Rebecca Patrick and Tom Schuman. There were nearly 3,400 entrants with 100 earning the Grand Award.

Study: Time for Docs to Advise Patients to Kick the Habit

Indiana maintains its unfortunate top 10 ranking as a state with one of the highest levels of people who smoke. A goal of Indiana Vision 2025 is to reduce that 24% adult rate.

A recent study says doctors can help, but many are skipping the opportunity to guide their patients.

Nationally, less than half of adult smokers report that their physicians advise them to stop smoking, while about two-thirds of physicians say lack of patient motivation to quit smoking is a barrier to medical interventions.

The JAMA Internal Medicine study, titled “Patient Engagement During Medical Visits and Smoking Cessation Counseling,” examined the relationship between patient engagement — or how involved people are in their health care — and the likelihood that physicians would counsel patients to stop smoking.

The study by Peter Cunningham, Ph.D., of Virginia Commonwealth University, was conducted for for the National Institute for Health Care Reform while he was a senior fellow at the former Center for Studying Health System Change. Based on a 2012 survey of 8,656 current and retired autoworkers and their spouses younger than 65, the study included 1,904 current smokers and assessed their engagement levels depending on whether they had ever talked with their physician about health information they found on the Internet, had someone accompany them to a medical visit for support, had taken notes during a medical visit to help remember what was said, and had brought a list of questions to ask during a medical visit.

Highly engaged patients were more likely to report that their physicians had advised them to stop smoking, the study found. And, highly engaged patients whose physicians counseled them to stop smoking were the most likely to attempt to quit (75%), while patients with low engagement levels who did not receive counseling were the least likely to attempt quitting (46%). However, if counseled by their physician, 60 percent of smokers with low engagement levels attempted to quit smoking, the study found.

“Clinicians should not misinterpret lack of patient engagement during medical encounters as unwillingness to quit because the results of this study suggest that counseling of even less engaged patients is effective in getting them to attempt quitting,” the article states.

The findings strongly suggest “that clinicians respond differently to patients who are highly engaged during medical encounters than they do to less engaged patients in terms of advising patients to stop smoking. Nevertheless, even patients with low levels of engagement can benefit from this counseling,” the article concludes.

Making Those Meetings Work For You

We’re going to touch on an old subject with some new survey results and common sense ways to tackle an ongoing challenge.

Remember your last hour-long meeting? Chances are 15 minutes of it went to waste, suggests a new Robert Half Management Resources survey. Professionals interviewed believe 25 percent of the time they spend in meetings is unproductive. Respondents feel the most common mistakes meeting leaders make are not sticking to an agenda and lacking a clear purpose for the gathering.

The survey featured interviews with more than 400 U.S. workers age 18 and over and employed in office environments. Employees were also asked, “Which of the following mistakes do meeting leaders commonly make?” Their responses (multiple responses were allowed):

  • Not having a clear purpose or agenda: 30%
  • Not sticking to the agenda: 30%
  • Not ending on time: 20%
  • Not starting on time: 15%
  • Inviting people who don’t need to attend: 14%

Paul McDonald, senior executive director for Robert Half, said misguided meetings can do more harm than good: “An unnecessary or poorly conducted meeting can bring everyone down because attendees feel like their time is not valued. Leaders can avoid this situation by clearly establishing the purpose of the discussion, ensuring the right people attend and providing them an opportunity to contribute.”

Robert Half Management Resources offers the following five tips for leading effective meetings:

  • Review the invite list. Limit attendees to those participants who have a stake in the outcome of items on the agenda. Indicating “required” versus “optional” attendance lets employees know when their participation and input is necessary and can help them prioritize their time.
  • Keep on track. Good leaders ensure the agenda and any supporting materials are accessible and publicized in advance, and that the discussion remains focused. Be prepared to cut off or table an unrelated conversation until a later time.
  • Plan accordingly. If it’s an in-person meeting, make sure there are enough seats in the room for everyone. Leave time for setup and pre-meeting technology challenges that may arise.
  • Monitor time. Keep it short and sweet. If a standing meeting is booked for an hour each week, but it usually lasts just 30 minutes, consider rethinking the time allotted. If there’s not much to discuss, consider using email or a memo as an alternative to a meeting.
  • Finish strong. If anyone leaves the meeting wondering what the next steps are, you haven’t done your job as meeting host. Allow time for people to ask questions, and determine who has responsibility for each follow-up item.

Working to Build Business Success Stories

Have you done business with or heard of either Gear Brake or Groom HQ? Probably not — at least yet. These are two of the promising start-ups that went through the Velocity Indiana accelerator program earlier this year and are now co-working in the Jeffersonville space to build their business dreams.

We’ll do a quick Q&A with Chris Bailey (Gear Brake) and Andrew Klawier (Groom HQ) as part of a July-August BizVoice magazine story on Velocity (in just its second year) and its potential. It will be part of an Indiana Vision 2025 focus on Dynamic and Creative Culture that includes:

  • Drones and their Indiana impact
  • Launch Indiana, another effort to develop entrepreneurs
  • A one-on-one with Kent Parker, an Indiana native who experienced business success in several locations around the country
  • A roundtable discussion on entrepreneurial financing

BizVoice goes in the mail June 30 and all stories will be available online on that date.

Focus Shifts to Customer Retention

Although customer acquisition is a laudable goal, retention of existing clients often pays bigger dividends for small businesses. More companies may be taking that approach, according to recent research.

A new report by Manta and BIA/Kelsey reveals that, for the first time, small businesses are investing more of their time, money and resources on strengthening relationships with existing customers versus acquiring new customers.

Of the nearly 1,000 small business owners (SBOs) surveyed, 61% report that more than half of their revenue comes from repeat customers, rather than new business. According to previous research, a repeat customer spends 67% more than a new customer. As a result, only 14% of SBOs now spend the majority of their annual marketing budget on acquisition.

This marks a dramatic change from just two years ago, when BIA/Kelsey’s Local Commerce Monitor survey highlighted that SBOs heavily prioritized customer acquisition over retention.

Even with this shift in small business behavior, business owners are not yet poised to take full advantage of their customer relationships. The study found that only 34% of SBOs have a loyalty program while the majority (66%) do not. Moreover, the majority of SBO loyalty programs are offline rather than online, failing to take advantage of technologies that enable seamless implementation and deeper customer insights.

 

It’s a Big Fat Global Problem

It’s been well documented that Indiana has an obesity problem. It doesn’t diminish that challenge to know that we’re not alone.

According to a recent ABC News story, “almost a third of the world is now fat, and no country has been able to curb obesity rates in the last three decades.”

Researchers at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington reviewed more than 1,700 studies (that took place between 1980 and 2013) from 188 countries. A few findings:

  • Two billion people worldwide are overweight or obese
  • In the Middle East and North Africa, nearly 60% of men and 65% of women are heavy
  • About two in three adults in the United Kingdom are overweight, making it the fattest country in Western Europe

The research showed a link between income and obesity — as people obtain more money, their waistlines also expand.

As we’ve been telling you the last two-and-a-half years, the Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 plan has a goal — reduce obesity levels to less than 20% of the population — as part of its Attractive Business Climate driver. We’re focusing on workplace wellness this summer during our free Connect & Collaborate luncheons.

It’s a big, global challenge — one that each of us needs to try to tackle in our state by working together.