American Business Awards Final Entry Deadline Further Extended to May 5

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Thu, Mar 26, 2020 @ 09:00 AM

The Stevie® Awards, organizer of The American Business Awards®, announced today that the final entry deadline for the 18th annual ABA competition has been further extended to May 5. The organizers said it is apparent that the original final deadline extension to April 14 will not be enough time for American organizations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic to submit their nominations of achievement.

No additional late fees will be charged, and nominations submitted through May 5 will not be penalized in any way in the judging process. Organizers still hope to be able to stage the 18th ABA awards banquet at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City on Friday, June 12.

The American Business Awards are widely considered to be the premier business awards program in the U.S.A. All organizations operating in the U.S.A. are eligible to submit nominations— public and private, for-profit and non-profit, large, and small. The 2020 awards will honor achievements since the beginning of 2019. Entry details are available at http://www.StevieAwards.com/ABA.

Request the entry kit

With the announcement of the deadline extension organizers said they have waived all fees for nominations to the Startup of the Year and Tech Startup of the Year categories, for organizations that began operations since the beginning of 2018.

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The further extension of the final entry deadline has prompted the organizers to change several other dates in the 2020 ABA calendar:

  • May 10: Revised end of judging
  • May 15: Revised winners notification and announcement
  • May 15 - June 5: Revised window for public voting in the People's Choice Stevie Awards for Favorite New Products

The American Business Awards recognize achievement in every facet of the workplace. Categories include:

More than 200 executives on 13 juries will rate nominations to determine the Gold, Silver, and Bronze Stevie Award winners.

The list of past Stevie Award winners in The American Business Awards reads like a who’s who of innovation and business success in the U.S.A. Explore the list of last year’s winners.

Topics: The American Business Awards, American business awards, tech awards, deadline extension, startup awards

Enabling the Unbanked and Underbanked with Machine Learning

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Tue, Mar 17, 2020 @ 11:34 AM

Stevie-winner Braviant Holdings is a financial technology company that uses machine-learning to assess borrowers' credit and help them achieve lower rates.

Over 24 million American households are underbanked, and another eight million are unbanked (FDIC National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households, 2017). While the former have restricted access to financial services (primarily due to bad credit scores), the latter have little or no access at all. As one can imagine, this closes a lot of doors. Many of life’s necessities, such as getting a job or renting an apartment, call for a bank account and a good credit history.

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What makes this scenario even more unfortunate is that the unbanked and underbanked often land in these unfavorable financial conditions due to circumstances beyond their control. After all, not everyone with a low credit score is a habitual defaulter. For instance, many have low credit scores because of the 2008 financial crisis. Similarly, all those without bank accounts are not willfully refusing to get one. Many get their applications rejected because they have thin credit files or are migrants who don’t possess all the necessary documents.

Luckily, the fintech industry is now putting big data, machine learning (ML), and augmented analytics to work for these two neglected financial demographics, and the results are promising.

Banking the Unbanked

Online banking and lending services have made it convenient to access and maintain bank accounts, even for those in remote and rural areas. However, despite these advances, around 1.7 billion adults remain unbanked worldwide. Several fintech solutions are working toward making it easier for these individuals to create and to benefit from bank accounts of their own, though. The most notable among these is Onfido, an identity verification company based in London, United Kingdom.

Onfido does not follow the typical identity verification process. They pair highly advanced ML-based document checks with facial verification to compare user-furnished identity documents with their selfies. This makes it easier for individuals to prove their identities and open new bank accounts. This is particularly important for those with thin credit files whom banks are reluctant to trust and migrants who do not possess all the documents required for in-person verification..

Beyond Credit History and Scores

Fintech products are revolutionizing the way credit is assessed, and they are now paving the way for fairer access to financial services.

Zest AI, an artificial intelligence (AI) software platform for credit, based in Los Angeles, California, United States, helps lenders make faster and more accurate decisions on borrowers who are traditionally considered risky. It does so by using and analyzing thousands of data points to better assess predicted risk. Their clients have achieved, on average, a 15 percent increase in approval rates and reduced losses by almost 30 percent.

UltraFICO, a credit scoring system based on augmented analytics, was launched by FICO, a data analytics company based in San Jose, California, United States. It serves as yet another good example. While still in the works, it promises to be a huge step up from the antiquated FICO score system that prevents millions of people from receiving credit because of incomplete credit histories. UltraFICO will create more complete credit histories by using data from FICO, Experian, Finicity, different finance houses, and banks.

Braviant_holdings_logoStevie-winner Braviant Holdings, a fintech company based in Chicago, Illinois, United States, also offers financial solutions that help non-prime consumers graduate to lower rates as they work toward prime credit. They do so by building machine-learning decision models that look beyond a traditional credit score to more accurately assess the prospective borrower’s true ability and willingness to repay.

“Mainstream financial institutions cater to the needs of U.S. consumers with proven credit history, but more than 50 million adults labeled ‘underbanked’ are forced to look outside the traditional banking system to meet their needs,” says Stephanie Klein, CEO of Braviant Holdings. “Braviant offers tech-enabled credit products to help these deserving consumers access the credit they need today and work toward better rates in the future.”

Braviant Holdings recently won a Gold Stevie Award for Company of the Year in the Financial Services category at The 17th Annual American Business Awards®, 2019.

Interested in entering The American Business Awards?

Request the entry kit

Topics: The American Business Awards, American business awards, company of the year, financial awards

Stevie® Awards Extends 2020 American Business Awards Entry Deadline

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Fri, Mar 13, 2020 @ 09:05 AM

Top Business Honors Will Accept Nominations Through April 14

The Stevie® Awards, organizer of The American Business Awards®, announced today that the final entry deadline for the 18th annual ABA competition has been extended to April 14. No additional late fees will be charged. Entries submitted through April 14 will not be penalized in any way in the judging process.

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“We’ve received so many requests for individual deadline extensions that we’ve decided to extend the deadline for everyone,” said Stevie Awards president Michael Gallagher. The original final deadline was March 11.

Interested in entering The 2020 American Business Awards®?

Request the entry kit

The American Business Awards are widely considered to be the premier business awards program in the U.S.A. All organizations operating in the U.S.A. are eligible to submit nominations— public and private, for-profit and non-profit, large, and small. The 2020 awards will honor achievements since the beginning of 2019. Entry details are available at http://www.StevieAwards.com/ABA.

The American Business Awards recognize achievement in every facet of the workplace. Categories include:

The new Achievement categories  recognize singular achievements of various types of entire organizations (for-profit or non-profit, large medium or small, public or private) in nine categories. Among the category groups that feature one or more new categories are Information TechnologyNew Product & ServiceMobile Website & AppPublication, and Video.

More than 200 executives on 13 juries have already begun the process of rating nominations to determine the Gold, Silver, and Bronze Stevie Award winners.

Stevie winners will be announced on April 30, and the awards will be presented at a gala banquet on June 12 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City. Attendance is not required to win.

The list of past Stevie Award winners in The American Business Awards reads like a who’s who of innovation and business success in the U.S.A. Explore the list of last year’s winners.

Topics: The American Business Awards, ABA, American business awards

Why Property Management Is Going High Tech

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Tue, Mar 10, 2020 @ 02:31 PM

London Computer Systems is a property management software company that seeks to help businesses operate efficiently using their integrated technologies. Their Stevie Award-winning product, Rent Manager, is proven to help companies manage all types of properties.

As the property technology world develops, real estate firms are devoting more attention to how technology can help their businesses. Technology impacts real estate agents to an ever-increasing degree, and tools for every aspect of a real estate company are currently being developed.

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When Communications Are Down, Technology Helps

New programs and apps help manage and streamline real estate processes for realtors—not just in the course of their everyday work but also when disasters strike. For example, in areas of the country that suffer from severe weather-related issues, property management can be extremely challenging for industry professionals and their clients. 

Software products recently released on the market, however, can help property managers connect with residents and track communications. With just a few clicks of a button, the software can ensure tenants get the help they need by using targeted text messages and phone calls. This greatly eases the stress on client and owner alike. 

Increasing Industry Use

More than half of commercial real estate agents are now using at least one form of property technology. Two common ways they’re using technology are to analyze performance and to manage accounts and properties on their lists. The goal of moving toward artificial intelligence (AI) in real estate is to give business owners the freedom to customize information technology to better fit the needs of their companies. 

LCS_logo_2At its heart, property technology makes the realtor or property manager's job easier and helps that person do a great job for his or her clients. In the past, the industry relied on time-consuming paper management systems, which didn’t allow for tracking communication between manager and tenant. Today, there are more innovative products on the market. Rent Manager makes the process much more straightforward and transparent. 

Next-Level Integration

The industry’s goal now is to progress to the next level of integration, wherein platforms connect seamlessly. This evolution will enable different software systems to work together, which will allow businesses to personalize their systems. Modern application programming interfaces (APIs) allow programmers to construct solutions that work perfectly for them and their customers. 

What Is the Future of Property Technology?

In the future, the property management industry is likely to dive deeper into the world of artificial business intelligence. The world, after all, works on electronic automation in nearly all sectors. You can book an appointment with your dentist from a website, use the self-checkout at the market, and buy a car online; to keep up, managing your rental property needs to move in the same direction.

Property management companies are likely to automate processes and to move the workforce into service-focused tasks. In that landscape, attention to detail and a focus on customer service will become the things that make a property management system stand out from the competition. 

The ability to stay on top of trends in the property management industry keeps businesses at the top of their game. In 2020 and beyond, these companies need to operate efficiently and stay connected to clients in order to build a reputation for top quality service. That involves not only relying on property management technology but employing dedicated people to use it. 

This dedication to being at the forefront of property sector tech development, as well as a commitment to excellent customer service, helped London Computer Systems, a property management software company, earn recognition as a leader in their field. London Computer Systems is based in Cincinnati, Ohio, United States.

The Rent Manager Product Support Department was named the winner of a Bronze Stevie® Award in the Customer Service Department of the Year category in The 16th Annual American Business Awards® (2018). The Rent Manager User Conference was also named the winner of a Bronze Stevie Award in the Corporate & Community - Corporate Event category in The 17th Annual American Business Awards.

Interested in entering The American Business Awards?

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Topics: The American Business Awards, American business awards, Customer Service

Retirement Is Changing, and Financial Services Groups Need to Keep Up

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Wed, Feb 19, 2020 @ 10:40 AM

Financial wellness is a luxury that younger demographics seem to have a harder time achieving. Stevie-winner John Hancock is an insurance company refining its approach to develop financial solutions for the modern generation of consumers.

With the ongoing economic impacts of the Great Recession, astronomical student debt, rising housing costs, and myriad other financial factors, retirement looks a lot different today than it used to. Gone are the days of getting into a job, working for 40 years, and retiring with a handshake and a gold watch. Pensions and 401(k)s are increasingly hard to come by. Plus, with often insurmountably expensive real estate costs, fewer people are entering the realty market. As a result, many people don’t have valuable homes to supplement their retirement nest eggs.

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Given these kinds of factors, it’s little surprise that the concept of “retirement” has shifted. In this landscape, one thing is clear: If financial services groups want to continue to stay relevant, they will need to change their approaches, advice, and outlook to match what financial wellness means to millennials and members of Generation Z.

Rethinking Retirement Age

In a 2018 study by Bankrate.com, millennials responded that they think 61 is the ideal age to retire. Despite this aspiration of early retirement, however, approximately two-thirds of millennials have nothing saved for retirement.

Because of increased debt and decreased financial opportunities, more people than ever are being forced to reevaluate what’s realistic when it comes to retirement. For many, this means bumping out that expected age of retirement. Some don’t even expect to retire at all, instead considering part-time jobs, second careers, or other money-making opportunities as they get into the later years of their lives.

Increased longevity further complicates the issue. Across the globe, people are living longer than ever, which seriously skews issues related to realistic retirement age, health insurance, and life insurance.

Rethinking Financial Wellness

Companies that provide financial planning and other money-management services are often viewed as symbolic of a bygone era. After all, someone who has nothing saved for retirement, doesn’t own a home, and is working on paying down $50,000 in student debt can feel as if these companies aren’t relevant to their financial realities.

That doesn’t need to be the case, though. These companies can still help younger clientele reach their financial goals; they just have to shift how they think about accomplishing this endeavor. Stevie-winner John Hancock, which is based in Boston, Massachusetts, United States, is one such company successfully refining its approach. 

John_Hancock_logo-1The people at John Hancock understand it’s time to look beyond outdated concepts like ‘net assets’ and to build financial solutions that fit into customers’ whole lives—with easily accessible products that reflect their values, their approach to wellness, and their holistic well-being. That’s why they’re redefining retirement, insurance, and investing for the modern generation of consumers to address both their health and wealth.

To connect with this modern generation of consumers, one key is reframing the idea of financial wellness as the most important kind of wellness. Financial service providers are finding that the younger generation prizes a more holistic approach to well-being, and providing advice that resonates means tailoring to that mind-set.

John Hancock believes good health and financial wellness are essential ingredients to overall well-being, and they want to help motivate people to make healthier choices—for themselves and their future.

With this goal in mind, the organization has had success especially with one initiative: a partnership with the Vitality Group, which can serve as a template for similar companies looking to connect with younger investors.

In 2015, John Hancock started a new chapter in their 155-year history when they partnered with the Vitality Group to help clients live longer, healthier lives. As the first life insurance company in the United States to offer a wellness-based rewards program, John Hancock life insurance with Vitality gives customers the financial protection they need while also helping them earn savings on their premiums, shopping gift cards, and travel discounts for their everyday healthy habits, such as going for a walk, eating well, and getting a regular health check.

John Hancock was honored with seven Stevie® Awards at The 2019 American Business Awards®, earning the company a Grand Stevie® Award. This designation is reserved for the top 10 most-recognized organizations at the event. The company’s honors included four Gold awards (in the categories of Mobile Site and App, Innovation of the Year, and two in Achievement in Management), two Silver awards (in the categories of Woman of the Year and Financial Services), and two Bronze awards (in the categories of Information Technology Team of the Year and Customer Service Team of the Year).

Interested in entering the next American Business Awards?

Request the entry kit here.

Topics: The American Business Awards, American business awards, Innovation, management awards

Marketing in the Age of AI

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Wed, Feb 12, 2020 @ 11:05 AM

In an age where AI is changing the business landscape, agencies like Digital Resource are stepping up to help organizations gain online traction. Adopting AI can mean creating personal connections between businesses and clients.

Hollywood’s dire predictions of artificial intelligence (AI) taking over the world might not be coming true any time soon, but there’s no denying that AI’s capabilities are revolutionizing many industries. With newfound access to big data, machine learning, and in-depth insight into consumer behavior, the marketing industry, for one, is undergoing a complete overhaul.

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Most businesses today have the wrong idea about online marketing. It is not so much about the tools and platforms you use as it is about understanding human behavior and motivation. The deeper your knowledge of your target audience, the more impactful your marketing efforts will be. To that end, AI is a powerful ally for marketers who are willing to accept and to adapt to its capabilities.

AI for Your Marketing Team

Businesses across the world are using AI and machine learning insights to sharpen their marketing focus and to increase personalization. For instance, AI can help create ads that convert better by enabling deeper keyword searches, social profiling, and exhaustive online data research—all of which are not scalable efforts when done manually.

Intelligent analysis of search patterns, conversational chatbots to increase retention, individual-level user analytics, and several other marketing use cases of AI are all emerging globally.

“Marketing initially scared me because you couldn’t measure it,” said Susan Johnson, CMO of SunTrust Bank, in a conversation on AI with John Koetsier of Inc.

“I never thought we'd be here, where technology and marketing are completely intertwined,” said Johnson, who trained as an engineer and worked at Apple before making the shift to marketing. “Now, with technology, we have some degree of certainty about what is happening and why.”

This sentiment echoes the thoughts of savvy marketers everywhere.

AI Adoption and Marketing Impact in Numbers

Recent research and survey reports reveal the pace at which AI is changing the marketing landscape. For example, according to the Digital Intelligence Briefing, 2018 by Adobe, top-performing companies are more than twice as likely to be using AI for marketing (28 percent versus 12 percent) and Marketers' adoption of AI has grown at a rate of 44 percent since 2017 from the State of Marketing, 5th Edition, Salesforce Research.

Change Is Good

Digital_Resource_logoStevie-winner Digital Resource, which is based in West Palm Beach, Florida, United States, is a full-service Internet marketing agency that works with businesses looking to gain online traction. Started in 2014 by Shay Berman, who was twenty-two at the time, the agency aims to go beyond vanity metrics and to give businesses unfiltered, measurable results. With that goal in mind, they have been quick to explore and to implement AI in their marketing campaigns for clients.

“We're very interested in the introduction of artificial intelligence. While many are afraid AI will take jobs, we're exploring ways we can use it to complement and to optimize our employees,” says Emily Crieghton, a multimedia specialist at Digital Resource. “We're going to see a big uptick in the use of AI. On the flip side, though, we're also going to see companies striving to create more personal connections between businesses, influencers, and online users. So, we'll be working to find a balance between the two.”

Whatever the eventual specifics of AI’s incorporation into business marketing strategies, one thing is clear. Artificial intelligence has arrived, and marketers need to adapt quickly and to harness its potential in order to meet customer expectations and to drive business growth.

This year, Berman won the Silver Stevie® Award in the Entrepreneur of the Year - Advertising, Marketing, & Public Relations category at The seventeenth annual American Business Awards®.

Interested in entering the next American Business Awards?

Request the entry kit here.

Topics: The American Business Awards, American business awards, artificial intelligence

Changing Workplace Behaviors, One Story at a Time

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Wed, Feb 05, 2020 @ 01:18 PM

Workplace cultures and behaviors play a big part in determining employee motivation and performance. Media Partners is a production company committed to helping clients build strong, productive work environments through their engaging training films on challenging topics.

No one likes working with uncivil or downright toxic people, but even the best and happiest organizations have their share of them. Toxic workplace behavior lowers overall productivity and performance, affects loyalty and motivation, and opens up the organization to lawsuits and public defamation. To actually change employee behavior for the better, companies should consider investing in training people skills.

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A recent Harvard Business School study of more than 60,000 employees clearly demonstrated this need for workplace behavior training. It revealed that uncivil behavior in work environments can cost companies millions. Nearly half the employees subjected to incivility “decreased their work effort” and deliberately spent less time at work. Another 38 percent “intentionally decreased” the quality of their work, a quarter admitted to taking their frustrations out on customers, and over 10 percent resigned from jobs due to uncivil treatment.

Unfortunately, most corporate behavior training programs are too dry and fail to address or to engage employees in a meaningful way.

“Most corporate training is truly bad,” says Karen Edwards, vice-president of marketing for Stevie-winner Media Partners, a learning and development organization based in Bellevue, Washington, United States.

Media Partners_logoMedia Partners produces story-based, cinematic-quality, engaging training films to address challenging topics, such as sexual harassment, bullying, and workplace violence.

“Most people are surprised to know there really is good, engaging training on some of the toughest topics. With our programs, employees don’t yawn, roll their eyes, or fall asleep,” says Edwards.

Media Partners is one of a handful of learning organizations that are leveraging the power of storytelling to create more high-performing, respectful workplaces.

Why Use Storytelling?

Neuroscientist Paul Zak and his team work extensively on the physiological and behavioral effects of storytelling. Through a recent experiment, they concluded that the more a story resonates with a person, the more likely it is to modify behavior.

While the power of storytelling is only being scientifically proven now, it has been used traditionally and culturally as a behavioral modification tool for centuries. Most people grow up on a healthy diet of stories, which consciously or subconsciously shapes the way they interact with others.

“Nature shaped us to be ultra-social, and hence to be sharply attentive to character and plot. We are adapted to physiologically interact with stories,” writes Jay Bhalla in a Scientific American article titled “It Is in Our Nature to Need Stories.”

It makes perfect sense, therefore, that organizations should utilize storytelling to create positive behavioral changes in employees.

Show, Don’t Tell

Learning and development organizations typically deliver training programs either textually or orally. This means employees either have to read through tomes of textual material or to sit through presentations and lectures, many of which they’d rather not attend.

It’s not too difficult, therefore, to see why companies like Media Partners are veering toward video as the training medium of choice. Videos are one of the most compelling ways to engage people, and they are being consumed on a massive scale. Mobile video consumption is rising 100 percent every year, over 50 percent of people watch videos online every day, and almost 60 percent of senior executives say that, if there are both text and video options about a topic on one page, they prefer to watch the video (Forbes).

Media Partners has leveraged video-based storytelling to deliver over 150 original, high-quality training videos that creatively address workplace behavioral issues.

Their unique approach to workplace training led to a Silver Stevie win in the Training Video category at the 17th Annual American Business Awards®, 2019, for their training video titled “Once & for All: Stopping Sexual Harassment at Work.”

Interested in entering The American Business Awards this year? The entry deadline is February 12, 2020. 

Request the entry kit here.

Topics: The American Business Awards, video awards, American business awards

Moving to the Cloud Is Imperative for Customer Experience Success

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Wed, Jan 29, 2020 @ 03:04 PM

Customer experience (CX) has undergone a huge transformation over the last few years, and that’s largely because technology has led to rapid advances in the way consumers are engaged and served. CXOne, a platform created by NICE inContact, enables brands to adopt new innovations and improve overall operations.

Virtual chatbots, artificial intelligence, cloud-based contact centers, and data-driven personalizations are no longer novelties. Businesses are working overtime to make their processes agile enough to serve customers’ demands for multichannel, real-time service. Does this mean the beginning of the end of legacy customer service systems?

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NICE_inContact_logo“It’s no secret that customer satisfaction leads to customer advocacy and loyalty,” says Heather Hughes, senior corporate communications manager of Stevie-winner NICE inContact, a customer experience company based in Sandy, Utah, United States. “As companies strive to provide excellent CX, we’re seeing advanced technology play a big role in the experience.”

Moving CX to the Cloud: Need and Adoption

Not so long ago, customers needing to resolve issues could only call up business call centers and wait to be assigned to representatives. Today, customers reach out to businesses via a variety of channels, including, but not limited to, social media, voice calls, e-mails, chat, SMS, and video. They’re not happy waiting around either. According to a 2018 Hubspot study, 90 percent of consumers rated an “immediate” response as important or very important when they have customer service queries.

Supporting this multichannel, real-time customer experience demand calls for the quick implementation and seamless integration of new technologies, strategies, and processes into organizations’ existing customer service systems. This entails significant ongoing expenditure and is hardly sustainable, which is why businesses find the alternative of migrating contact centers and their entire CX management to the cloud way more palatable.

According to the State of Customer Experience study, by West Corporation, 39 percent of call centers they surveyed had already migrated to the cloud (as of 2017), and another 53 percent were planning to do so within the next three years (by 2020).

“The speed at which organizations need to perform and to transform continues to accelerate. The ability to adjust course in real time to best serve internal and external audiences is paramount, and it’s best enabled with open cloud platforms,” says Hughes.

CX platforms like CXOne from NICE inContact enable brands to adopt new innovations (e.g., AI and embedded analytics), to deploy service changes quickly, and to consolidate routing and reporting across global operations.

Marrying Technological Innovations and the Human Touch

When businesses think of moving CX to the cloud, investing in virtual chatbots, or personalizing customer interactions, the assumption is the need for human interaction then decreases drastically. That, however, is not true. Technology is simply a suite of tools, and it can’t replace the value and impact of the human touch.

For instance, a January 2019 Forrester study revealed 63 percent of customers are OK with getting service from a chatbot, provided they have the choice to move the conversation to a human if required.

“We believe one-on-one customer interactions have a real and lasting impact on people’s lives,” says Hughes. “It’s a belief that inspires us to relentlessly innovate in the cloud and to find smarter ways to transform one-on-one experiences in order to help contact centers achieve their goals.”

This approach toward customer experience makes CXone from NICE inContact a global leader in cloud contact center software, and it led to a Silver Stevie® win in Product Management & New Products Awards in the Cloud Platform category at the 17th Annual American Business Awards® in 2019.

Interested in entering The American Business Awards this year? The entry deadline is February 12, 2020. 

Request the entry kit here.

Topics: The American Business Awards, American business awards, Customer Service, artificial intelligence

How to Retain Your Best Employees Without Breaking the Bank

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Thu, Jan 16, 2020 @ 09:00 AM

Companies that consistently rank high on the lists of best places to work often have great work cultures, deep-rooted values, and fantastic employee benefits. They go above and beyond state and federally-mandated benefits and offer their employees generous retirement plans, flexible work hours, tuition reimbursements, ample parental leave, and many other tangible and intangible perks. These companies attract and retain the best talent because they truly care for their employees’ well-being.

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What Do Employees Really Want?

While the long list of benefits top companies provide are great, they might not be feasible for most smaller businesses. In these scenarios, companies should identify the “good-to-have” benefits and then investigate what their employees really need and what issues weigh heaviest on their minds.

According to the PwC Employee Financial Wellness Survey, 2019, financial matters cause employees the most stress—more than all other life stressors (health concerns, relationships, job issues, and more) combined. A staggering 30 percent lie awake at night worrying about money, and 23 percent are less productive at work because of financial worries, according to a US employee benefit trends study.

Also, even though the numbers have improved slightly since last year, almost 40 percent of US households still don’t have enough savings to cover an unexpected $400 expense (Report on the Economic Well-Being of US Households).

Investing in employees’ financial health, therefore, is one of the best ways companies can show they care.

Offer Innovative and Affordable Financial Benefits

With the amount of financial stress they are under, one would think employees would opt for pay raises over perks. Surprisingly, though, almost 80 percent of employees chose perks over pay raises in an employee confidence survey by Glassdoor.

Employer-matching 401K, health insurance, financial planning, and student loan repayment are all excellent financial benefits, but corporations (or even small businesses) can also implement several innovative and unique financial benefits alongside these more traditional options.

One good example is Gusto, a human resources management platform based in San Francisco, California, United States, which allows employees to access the money they’ve already earned for emergencies, without having to wait until payday.

cookie_jar_logo-1Another example of an innovative yet affordable financial benefit is Stevie-winner Cookie Jar by SafetyNet, a financial services company based in Madison, Wisconsin, United States. Cookie Jar combines the simplicity of kitchen-table finances with the sophistication of an employer-matched benefits program by rounding employees’ checking account transactions and credit card purchases to the nearest dollar and then saving the spare change in special accounts. These savings can be automatically matched by the employer, and they can be accessed by the employee whenever an emergency arises.

“Cookie Jar is designed for average workers who need to save but don’t feel they have the financial flexibility to do so,” says Vreni Pigorsch, senior media strategist at Cookie Jar. “A salary and a retirement plan are no longer enough to sustain employees, and employers are taking note. Instead, pet insurances; liquid savings programs, such as Cookie Jar; and other accessible financial tools are being incorporated into employee benefit plans. Employees become happier and more focused at work, and employers are able to attract and to retain great talent by setting their benefit structure apart from their competition.”

Cookie Jar won a Silver Stevie® Award in Product Management & New Product Awards in the Financial Services category at the 2019 American Business Awards.

Interested in winning a Stevie Award in 2020?

Request the entry kit here.

Topics: The American Business Awards, American business awards, product management, financial awards

Master Agents: The Telecom Players You’ve Never Heard Of

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Wed, Jan 08, 2020 @ 12:35 PM

Without their customers even realizing it, many businesses utilize master agents. A master agent works by using the services of a large number of expert partners, such as IT consultants, systems integrators, and technology service providers. All these entities work under one umbrella to provide seamless service to their clients.

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Technology Distribution Services

Telecommunications systems are vital to the world of business. As the cloud continues to drive convergence, organizations strive to upgrade their outdated systems and to add fresh ones. Master agents are organizations that perform the back-office duties for their subagents. As such, they take care of tasks like order tracking, commission tracking, and troubleshooting. The benefits of using a master agent are the ability to build partnerships, to offer a range of future-proof solutions, and to safeguard clients with clear and knowledgeable advice.

Ideal Tech Solutions

Keeping current with technology can be a tall order, and the benefit of having an umbrella company that’s committed to helping organizations access telecommunications, cable, and cybersecurity vendors can be invaluable. A master agent matches an organization to the ideal solutions that can help grow that business, and it also offers end-to-end support for companies. The joy of using specialists like this is that they take the time to listen to their clients and then match them with the technologies most appropriate for the development of their companies.

A Strong Team

The telecom industry is continuously evolving in order to keep up with developing technology. Growth opportunities are enormous, and master agent technology specialists are well positioned to take advantage of those opportunities. Currently, only 14 percent of technology businesses take advantage of master agents, but by continually developing and updating the services they offer, there is room to increase that number and to help companies keep ahead of the tech curve.

The president of TBI, Inc., Geoff Shepstone, feels the purpose of a master agent is to ensure it consistently provides value to its clients and partners.

TBI_Inc_logo-1“Provide value or perish,” says Shepstone. “We remain the largest privately held master agent in the country due to the fact that every single business unit within TBI provides free value-adds to our partner community.”

When considering partnering with a master agent, it’s essential to employ a company whose ethos matches your own. It should also have a positive organizational culture and motivated employees who enjoy frequent opportunities for continued professional development, keep relationships active, and keep creative business ideas flowing. A top-quality technology business ensures staff members can network with colleagues from all departments and organizational levels as this promotes a constant flow of knowledge and information. This helps build a strong team and provides excellent support to both customers and partners.

Responsiveness and the ability to keep their customers and partners looped in as the technology industry develops helped TBI, Inc. win a Gold Stevie® Award for Marketing Department of the Year and a Bronze Stevie® for Marketer of the Year at The 2019 American Business Awards®.

Interested in winning a Stevie Award in 2020?

Request the entry kit here.

Topics: The American Business Awards, American business awards, Marketing, telecommunications