Melissa Pepper was recently featured on an episode of the Built in Iowa Podcast. The podcast highlights CEOs, Founders, and Entrepreneurs that starting, building, and growing companies in the state of Iowa.
During the episode Melissa explains her rise to the role of President at Total Solutions, what she's learned along the way, and a little about her biggest successes with Total Solutions.
You can listen to this episode on the Built in Iowa podcast website or any of the major podcast platforms.
There are a lot of questions surrounding a small businesses that participate in a Professional Employment Organization's (PEO) ability to secure a Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) loan. Below are two documents to answer frequently asked questions and provide assistance for the PPP application process.
We know this is a time of immense uncertainty and questions for your business. We’ve compiled resources for Illinois and Iowa employers regarding how to handle layoffs and resources for your employees pertaining to unemployment insurance filing.
Retaining talent has become a difficult task in the competitive job market. Finding a strong replacement with the necessary skillset and values that fit your culture can be daunting as well. To overcome the hiring challenges in today's workplace, organizations need to reset and begin actively recruiting people with the knowledge, ability, and personality that will create growth.
According to CareerBuilder, 75% of people aren't looking for a job but would consider an offer if one was extended. This stat opens the door for your organization not just to fill and an open position, but to find people who can move your business forward.
To begin your recruitment process, you first need to establish your objectives.
When your leadership, management, and HR team are all on the same page, you can develop a clear recruitment strategy. Your plan should consider the resources, like search time and advertising budget, available to fill positions and attract talented candidates. Establishing the priorities will keep everyone on your team moving in the right direction.
When actively recruiting, it is essential to include content that promotes what makes your company a great place to work in your overall marketing plans. Ongoing messaging about your company values and culture will attract ideal candidates even when you don't have current roles to fill.
When you have a position open, you need to be visible to the candidates you are recruiting with authentic and accurate descriptions. Make sure that when your ideal candidate goes online, there are ads for your company in the spaces they visit. Are you recruiting a Gen Z marketing coordinator? Try Instagram ads. Are you searching for a CFO with experience in retail? LinkedIn might be the best way to advertise.
Ready to write your job descriptions? Keep these tips in mind:
The final piece to the active recruitment puzzle is to step outside the digital strategies and get to know potential candidates. Encourage your employees to join professional networking groups, volunteer with nonprofits and participate in community events, and get to know people who could become potentially great team members! The next person you meet might just become the best candidate for a new role later this year.
Need help revising your recruitment process? Our HR experts are always here to help.
Submitted by Alex McLeran, HR Generalist
You are now able to enroll employees in a host of online training options from Total Solutions! Training packages include annual compliance, safety, new hire, and management, with pricing starting as low as $250. Employers can also customize packages or pay for unlimited access to the entire training library.
Total Solutions HR Director, Sarah Kramer, noted how her HR clients were hungry for more flexible training options for employees.
“Safety, sexual harassment, and supervisor training are really popular. With our new online option, employers can roll out training across any size organization smoothly and ensure the knowledge is retained,” she said.
Online programs eliminate the need to tackle scheduling nightmares, spend hours trying to develop your own training, or worry your program didn’t successfully train employees.
Choose from a variety of topics, plus hundreds more!
Learn more about the digital training plans available!
To create engaging and effective content on social media, it takes lots of coordination, creativity, and time. When you’re a small organization, it can be difficult to have enough of all three of those ingredients to go around— so borrow some from your fans!
Just like when you call on a neighbor to get that extra cup of sugar for your baking needs, you can do the same for your social media needs! In the marketing world, this is called user-generated content (UGC). By definition it is simply content created and posted by users online. However, in practice, it is content that is authentic and interesting that your company can share with less energy and focus devoted to the task.
When you’re a small company, results matter much more than the time and effort put into the task.
Creating a campaign to collect user-generated content doesn’t just save you time though. It shows that your brand keeps open lines of communication with followers and develops are an opportunity to collaborate with your most loyal supporters. Recommendations are also the most effective technique for marketing. People trust what their friends trust! Each person who shares positive content about your brand will not only provide you with quick content but also pitch to their friends your products and services.
Sold on user-generated content yet? Here are a few steps to start putting this technique into practice!
Create buy-in from your biggest fans.
Brainstorm a list of your best customers and reach out to them to see if they will participate. If you already have an active following on social media, just message them on the platform. If your social pages need some help, reach out to them in a way in which you frequently communicate like in-person, over the phone, or through email.
This strategy works well for fundraising campaigns like on Giving Tuesday! If you have a few key volunteers or donors ready to share your content and endorse your mission, it is more likely others will participate.
Develop a clear campaign.
Create a very direct call to action for your followers through event participation, hashtags, donations, recommendations, or contests. Think about the content that would most help your organization and align your plan around the easiest way for participants to send you that content. For example, if you want better reviews on google, send an email and hand out flyers with a direct link for someone to leave a review. If you want great photos, create a hashtag on Instagram.
A key tip for campaign success is to promote your social media campaign outside of social media. Especially if you don’t already have a strong following!
You should also make sure that the content you are asking people to share is something that is simple and can promote themselves positively. If your product or service helps people with a sensitive issue, try to reframe in a way that makes your customers feel comfortable.
Ask for permission.
It is a simple task, but can easily be overlooked, to get the okay from your fans. Create a simple statement to send to people that compliments their content, asks for permission to share the content, and explains how the content will be shared (website, social media, marketing materials, etc.)
This is your opportunity to also engage with people who believe in your brand and find out a little more about how your product or service benefits them.
If you’re short on time and creativity, we recommend switching your focus to user-generated content! This strategy will not only save you some time but provide you with great content.
Submitted by Maura Warner, Marketing Manager
When dealing with new hire onboarding, benefits administration, compliance issues, and more regularly, it can be difficult to keep your essential processes and materials up to date. Before a new season begins, it is a great time to check over your basics!
When your organization has these basic processes and materials refreshed and ready, it will make your time tackling HR tasks much easier.
Your employee handbook is a compilation of the policies, procedures, and behavioral expectations that guide employee actions. Design your handbook to be a road map to the ethical and legal treatment for all employees. It should also include basic information about your company like mission, vision, and values. A well-written handbook will help you rest assured that employees are informed about appropriate actions and behaviors.
It’s usually easier said than done to have current offer letters and job descriptions. We recommend setting a routine schedule to go over employee job descriptions and check that your offer letters are relevant. To keep up with an ever-changing business environment, employees often take on new tasks as previous processes evolve and you want to make sure their job descriptions reflect these responsibilities.
Remaining compliant with regulations for your company size and industry is essential. Create a routine of research and creative brainstorming to make sure you are covering the training your employees need and want. Total Solutions offers digital training programs for hundreds of topics and can provide custom materials and support from our HR experts.
Prepare for your annual appraisals for employee performance. There should be no surprises for the employee when it comes to their performance review. Periodically reviewing job descriptions will also help ensure that employees are matching your expectations for results in that position. Salary increases and employee growth paths should be evaluated before beginning the appraisal process.
Less exciting, but just as necessary, checking your process for correcting behavior and discipline needs to be reviewed as well. Progressive discipline is a process for dealing with job-related behavior that does not meet expected and communicated performance standards. This process helps your employees to recognize performance problems and create an opportunity for improvement.
Refreshing these HR essentials will help your organization successfully support employees!
Submitted by Alex McLearn, HR Generalist
CEO, Aaron Tennant, and President, Melissa Pepper, are going over the edge for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Mississippi Valley! On August 24, the adventurous leaders of Total Solutions will rappel off Hotel Blackhawk in Downtown Davenport for a great cause.
For more than 30 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Mississippi Valley has operated under the belief that inherent in every child is the ability to succeed and thrive in life. As a donor-supported volunteer organization, Big Brothers Big Sisters makes meaningful, monitored matches between adult volunteers (“Bigs”) and children (“Littles”), ages 7 through 18, throughout eastern Iowa and western Illinois. The matchings develop positive friendships that have a direct and lasting effect on the lives of young people.
Before Melissa had “littles” of her own, she was a Big and saw first-hand the impact the program made in the Quad Cities community.
“I loved being a Big!” she says. “That's why I have committed to raise dollars for the right to rappel off a perfectly well-constructed 11-story building in downtown Davenport!”
By supporting Melissa and Aaron, you can give hundreds of children the gift of a positive adult in their lives. Don’t leave Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Mississippi Valley hanging, support the Over the Edge Challenge today!
Website contact forms, info@ emails, and department extensions (I just got anxiety writing this)— it can be difficult to keep up with the multitude of options for people to get in touch with your organization. If you don’t have dedicated members of your team monitoring those channels, your “customer-focused” opportunities to get in touch can just become poor customer service. And on top of the variety of traditional ways to contact your business, your social media pages are now a common place for potential clients to reach out. With such an expansion of opportunities for communication, it is officially time for your customer service and marketing teams to become BFFs.
If you’re running a small business or nonprofit, these team members may have multiple priorities, or it might be just you. To keep on top of the constant requests, we have a few steps to create a smooth process to keep engaged with customers.
If tackling this project sounds like too much for you to handle, talk to the Total Solutions marketing department to see how we can help! We can manage some of your contact channels indefinitely or put together a really clear plan on how to stay on top of new notices.
Submitted by Maura Warner, Marketing Coordinator
The bad guys have access to your company data and guess what? They didn’t hack their way into your system. You, or one of your employees, let them in.
Phishing attempts use deception to steal sensitive information about your business through email, telephone, text messages, and social media. These schemes use two methods. Social engineering gains the trust of an employee to provide information. Precision-targeting, called spear phishing, uses public information to communicate with employees to appear as a legitimate request. Attackers are using these methods to steal information like usernames and passwords, financial data like credit card numbers, and phone numbers to bypass two-factor identification.
With this method of malicious data collection, all employees should be careful when entering passwords, sharing sensitive information, and downloading files. The old, very obvious, attempts have gone by the wayside. Hackers are now sending sophisticated messages to employees that appear real. For example, fake emails that look identical to trusted service providers will redirect to a spoofed website that requires an employee to enter their username and password. When the employee “logs in” they are giving attackers their credentials.
As a smaller organization with more limited IT support, we recommend the following tips to keep your company data safe.
The IT team at Total Solutions can provide security solutions and in-depth training for employees at your organization. Our experts will put together a customized program that focuses on the vulnerabilities in your industry and fits within a time frame that works for the schedules of your employees. When it comes to Phishing attempts, the best prevention is knowledge. Knowing the signals of a scheme and having secure measures in place will help your business avoid handing over valuable company information to hackers.
Submitted by Steve Kratz, Sr. Systems Engineer