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Welcome to the New Lantern blog. Our goal is to shine light on leading innovators and creative artists, and how your business can learn and profit from them. Companies large, medium, and small can benefit from employees who think more creatively. New Lantern may be just the source of inspiration your company needs to spark more innovative products, services, and processes.

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Archive for Tag 'compensation'

Don’t Wait Until the New Year

Posted by on August 18, 2012 at 1:05 pm

How about getting a jump start on your New Year’s resolutions?

It may seem odd to be talking about New Year’s resolutions in August, but humor me for a moment.

I would venture to guess that the last several years have been tough on your business, unless of course you’ve been doing business on a different planet. Cut-backs, lay-offs, salary freezes. Stop me if none of this sounds familiar.

Also, with an unemployment rate seemingly stuck forever over 8 percent, a U.S. Government in the red at record levels, and trade deficits larger than ever before — the near- and mid-term forecasts are still looking pretty cloudy.

As a result, an emphasis today on early planning, wise asset management, and creative thinking will help to ensure that your company not only survives, but thrives.

Your employees are your single most important asset. If you are not currently laser-focused on how to nurture and grow this asset, then you may be missing a once in a generation opportunity. Note that I’m not talking about growing the number of employees; I’m talking about the professional growth of each employee.

Within your current employee base resides the next great product or service idea, or process innovation. Small investments today in an employee’s professional growth via an innovative workshop, seminar, or event could provide just the needed creative spark.

By doing so, you not only stand to reap the benefits of your investment, but you also send an important signal to your most promising employees that they are worth the company’s investment, even during lean times – especially during lean times. This one act could also mean the difference in their staying, or moving on, when the economic climate does start to improve.

In sum, there’s no time like the present to get a head start on your company’s New Year’s resolution list, and in doing so, move ahead of your competitors.

Your Company’s Golden Opportunity

Posted by on August 6, 2012 at 9:26 pm

I admit, I feel a bit nostalgic when I watch the Olympic Games. There’s something about watching the world’s best athletes compete their hearts out, not for a paycheck or a corporate sponsorship, but for the sole purpose of winning — and standing on a podium to proudly represent his or her country.

It boggles the mind to think about the thousands of hours and years of practice that many athletes invest to become the best at what they do. And more boggling is that all that work may come down to a mere 60 to 120-second performance.

What drives a person to work that hard for a reward only of recognition?

The Olympics are unique in this regard. A company or organization could never, ever replicate this level of drive and dedication from its employees. Employment is work. It is a compulsory activity whose purpose is to make a living, provide for one’s family, and ideally save towards retirement.

With that said, there’s a lot that a company could learn from the Olympic ideal. Creating a healthy, competitive environment is a good thing. Rewarding those employees who excel and distinguish themselves is a worthy exercise and will drive increased performance across the ranks.

A corporate culture that celebrates achievement, both of individuals and of teams, is one that will lead to long-term success. It also creates an environment where employees are more likely to enjoy their work, and not dread coming to it.

Seek to ignite a fire within your employees. Light a cauldron that can serve to fuel creativity and innovation. I bet you’ll like the results and the golden opportunity it will provide your company to best your competitors.

The 90% Employment Rate

Posted by on November 8, 2009 at 7:51 pm

90 percentcup of joe

On Friday, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that the unemployment rate was 10.2 percent in October –- reaching the double-digit mark for the first time since 1983.

Several leading economists are now predicting an 11 percent unemployment rate by the middle of next year, which would represent the highest level since World War II. Even though there have been some glimmers of light at the end of the tunnel in recent months, the unemployment rate continues to be a drag on both the economy and our American psyche.

During these rough economic times, I urge corporate executives to not focus on the 10 percent unemployment rate, but to focus attention on the remaining 90 percent of those still employed. The speed of the recovery and job growth will hinge on one key factor – whether employees are motivated to innovate to drive new products, more compelling services, and improved processes.

Companies, now more than ever, must re-double efforts to mine the talent of their existing employees and turn that talent into newfound gains. With tight budgets, it will require creative approaches from management such as enhanced incentive rewards programs, imaginative leadership and manager training, and other innovative programs to spur greater employee performance.

The costs of such programs are modest compared to the cost to your company and its shareholders of standing still.

You can choose to see the glass 10 percent empty, or you can choose to see it 90 percent full. Think of it as saving room for cream – or better yet, two-percent milk.

A Labor Day Message from New Lantern

Posted by on September 7, 2009 at 1:14 pm

Labor Day was first celebrated in 1882 as a day set aside to commemorate the “social and economic achievement of the American worker,” according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Labor Day has since come to represent the end of summer, the beginning of football season, and one of the last opportunities to get in those picnics, barbecues, and backyard family gatherings before the chill of autumn sets in across many parts of the country.

This year, Labor Day for your company should serve as a reminder to re-invest in your employees. Your employees are your company’s single most valuable asset. You already invest heavily in your employees through wages and benefits, but are you truly getting a solid return on that investment? Most likely you are not, and you have no one to blame but yourself.

Treat your employees like a valuable resource, and you will in turn reap the benefits. Nurture their talents, encourage risk-taking, and incent creativity and innovation.

In the article “Where Headhunters Fear to Tread,” this week’s Business Week examines factors that are contributing to an erosion in management talent at some of the country’s top companies. The article notes that “red-flag cultures are those that suffer from bureaucracy, narrow skill-building, risk aversion, or boy’s club aggression.”

Developing talent within your organization does not happen overnight. It takes persistence, a sustained dose of right-brain stimulus, and a senior management team who is willing to provide a culture where talent and creativity can take root and thrive.

Let New Lantern help your company mine and grow the talents of your employees through creative leadership training, performance-based compensation and incentive programs, and other inventive business innovation methods.

The pay-off for your company could be the next hot product or service offering – which would indeed be cause to celebrate the fruits of your company’s labor.

Growing Your ROEI

Posted by on May 3, 2009 at 3:17 pm

ROEI art

Is your company getting a good return on employee investment (ROEI)? Considering the total investment you have in each employee, you need to know that the benefits derived from an employee are in fact outweighing the costs. Costs typically include the base salary, bonus, stock and/or options, health and dental benefits, paid vacation, sick leave, 401(k) match, Social Security, Medicare, payroll taxes (UI), training, computer, phone – and more.

Companies spend a lot of time and energy measuring and growing their non-human investments, and dedicate considerable attention to getting a good return. Boards of Directors and shareholders hold publicly-traded companies’ feet to the fire on these returns as they relate to the investment costs – and rightfully so. But do they hold their investments in human capital to the same level of scrutiny? No, and usually it’s not even close.

How do you explain this, particularly when human capital-related costs are sometimes the largest single expense in a company? It is frankly indefensible. Most companies think they are doing enough by measuring employee performance via a merit-based compensation program. Whereas employee measurement is important, it is no substitute for getting a full return on the investment of that employee.

So what is the answer? A company should start by caring as much for its employees as it does for its non-human assets. Many companies pay handsomely to protect their reputations and to enhance their images with expensive public relations and advertising campaigns. They also spend large sums on buying or leasing space, maintaining and upgrading it regularly; and they spend heavily on facility security, technology and equipment upgrades, and facility grounds and upkeep.

I don’t dispute the need for these investments, but they are no more important than the upkeep and improvement of a company’s single most important investment – its employees.

Companies should constantly challenge employees through value-added training and development. They should utilize creative compensation programs to spur greater productivity and innovation. Companies should meanwhile be aggressive in managing out those employees who are not holding up their end of the bargain – that is, those employees who are taking more from the organization than they are giving to it.

In short, an employer should seek to appreciate its largest appreciating asset by mining and growing the talent that exists in its current workforce. Improving your ROI is smart business, and so is improving your ROEI.

Pay-for-Performance 2.0

Posted by on April 6, 2009 at 5:24 pm

salary art

With the current 8.5 percent unemployment rate, and pay freezes or cuts for much of the remaining 91.5 percent of the nation’s workers, there is no better time for companies to embrace creative pay-for-performance programs.

The current state of the economy is undoubtedly making even the best employees anxious. And anxiety breeds under-performance, which can exacerbate your company’s already mounting challenges. Freezing employee salaries doesn’t mean that you can’t reward over-achievers with other perks and pay incentives. Cash bonuses, stock grants, and highly desirable professional development opportunities are fair game and can provide the necessary catalyst for top employees while encouraging under-performers to step up their game.

You can also use the current economic situation as an opportunity to revamp your overall compensation structure. Does your current pay structure fully differentiate between your performers and laggards? Is your current pay plan designed to pay past performance rather than spur improved future performance? Does your current plan truly encourage innovative thinking and risk-taking or does it simply encourage loyalty to the boss?

Here’s a thought: Instead of simply freezing every employee’s salary this year, how about increasing the salaries of the top-performing 20 percent while lowering the salaries of the bottom 20 percent? Your total salary expenditures would remain flat, but your overall corporate performance would surely increase.

Turn adversity into an inspiring opportunity to make the necessary upgrades to your compensation program that will result in performance 2.0 for your company or organization.