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Family-Friendly Workplace

Integritive’s own John Miles was featured in a recent WNC Parent Article titled “Family-Friendly workplaces go beyond typical policies” by Paul Clark

Article photo

Flexible work options? Paid family leave? Some businesses are more family friendly than others.

Some, especially small businesses run by parents, let employees bring their children to work on snow days. And some go as far as to reimburse parents for the costs   of adoptions.

Jodi Rhoden had to miss a lot of time at her business, Short Street Cakes in West Asheville, because of her son’s snow and sick days. The experience prompted her     to extend a benefit to other workers, giving them an hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked. The paid time off, which amounts to about a week’s worth of        work a year, can be used to take care of a sick child and is an unusual benefit for hourly workers in the food industry, Rhoden said. But Short Street Cakes already  pays its workers a certified living wage, so this furthers its appreciation of them, she said.

“If you’re losing hours because your child is sick, it’s hard on the family budget,” she said.

John Miles is CEO of Integritive, a website design and social media marketing agency in Asheville. But, more importantly, he’s a father. “Our business is 13 years  old, and our ethos over all is the family comes first,” he said.

One employee at Integritive works half a day from home during summer so as to tag-team child care duties with the spouse. The employee knows what’s expected, performance-wise, Miles said.

“There’s an ethos here that if your kid is sick or there’s a school event or performance, you can make up the time at another time,” Miles said. That may mean working at night or during part of a weekend but it’s better than disappointing your child, he said.

“From my perspective, if the family is happy and taken care of, people will be happier in the workplace, ” he said. “If your mindset is, I’m missing my kid’s lacrosse game, your work probably won’t be as high quality. I’ve seen families where work was first, and the look on the kids’ faces was one of neglect. You won’t get to your deathbed wishing you had worked more. You’ll wish you had spent more time with family. I want to have a clean slate.”

He leaves work early on Mondays to coach his son’s lacrosse team. He wouldn’t miss it for the world, he said. Workers at Integritive are invited to bring a child on whatever permutation of Bring Your Daughter to Work Day applies. It’s good for the child to see what his or her parent does all day, and it’s good for the parent to know that their child understands, Miles said.

“Generally, the little kids don’t last the whole day,” he said. “We’ve had kids make smoothies for everyone and answer the phone for an hour. It gives them a taste of what their parents’ lives are like.”

With 330 employees in the Carolinas, HomeTrust Bank doesn’t have family-friendly policies per se, but that’s because it is family friendly, said its employment specials Sara Phillips.

“The culture here is warm, kind and caring,” she said. “A lot of us have seen each other’s families expand and the children grow up through the years. That creates a special bond.”

Employees at HomeTrust may use paid time off to care for their children or parents. The bank pays for short- and long-term disability insurance for workers, which allows new mothers to have some income while they’re out with newborns. Through the North Carolina Bankers Association, it offers a scholarship program that helps children of employees attend college. Tuition reimbursement for its workers allows them to set good examples to their children that pursuing additional education is a valuable thing to do, Philips said.

“But more than anything, we provide employees with a safe, stable, happy environment where they can make a good living and leave at 5 p.m. to spend the rest of their time with their families. At 5 p.m., the work is done,” she said. “We celebrate each others family milestones and achievements. Just yesterday I got an invitation for an employee’s baby shower.”

Source: http://www.citizen-times.com/story/life/family/2014/04/12/family-friendly-workplaces-go-beyond-policy/7658437/

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Would you like fries (a website) with that?

fry mountain

McDonald’s has not made their fortune only from their hamburgers. While hamburgers are the basic item they sell to everyone that walks in the door,  the real money comes in the form of add-ons: fries, shakes, and extra large sodas. These happen to also be the same items that we often regret ordering. Sure, fries sound good at the time, but we regret it later when we’re popping the Tums and watching our weight creep up on the scale. The technology world is facing a similar problem: in an effort to increase their profits, many companies are now offering websites as an add-on to their services. But are these really helping clients, or just expanding their technology waistline?

Architects of Design

It’s almost impossible to over-emphasize how important a company’s website is in today’s world – they are the face of your brand and reputation in a global market. A website is the storefront that reaches more customers than any brick-and-mortar building ever could.  With the abundance of out-of-work developers and designers, and free templates online, any company can add websites to their offerings for customers. Newspapers, print designers, and accounting software designers are among the trades delving into the web design trade. However, when you put your website in the hands of someone who’s best skills are not in website design, you line yourself up for a less-than-stellar product. You wouldn’t trust your brick-and-mortar storefront design to an accounting software company, so why trust them with your website?

Creators of Content

When a company decides to start or re-design their website, they need to be sure to commission the right architect. At integritive, we specialize in designing websites and developing online marketing strategies. One of the reasons we’ve been in business for 12 years and have outgrown our competition is that we use our defined skills to help our clients grow business and achieve a stated result. Websites aren’t an afterthought for us – they are the primary goal, and it shows in results.

image via Flickr

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Thought Leadership Hits The Mark With SEO

seoIn today’s business climate, an effective website is critical to your business’ success. Your website can make or break you. It isn’t just about being pretty anymore. Your site must work hard for you. Your website is your brand; it must provide intelligent content, be easy to manipulate and yield high ranking internet search results.
This emphasis on internet search results spawned a new marking tool a few years ago called Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is the process of affecting the visibility of a website on the internet. The idea, of course, is that the more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users. As a marketing strategy, SEO evaluates how search engines work, what people search for, and keywords.
Since the advent of SEO, there has been an onslaught of web design firms advertising their ability to create effective SEO tactics for your website. There are different ways to do this, but many practices are ineffective. Google and other search engines are on to these tactics that try to “game” the system and continue to change their programming to avoid it. The only sure-fire way to increase your search ranking is to create authentic, relevant content.
At Integritive, we focus on our iOS, or integrated Online Strategy. We work with business leaders to pluck out the most marketable aspects of their business and apply them with intelligence and style. We look at competition, site structure, search engine compatibility, copy, exposure, and use it all to enhance your results. We create organic content for viewers to discover, that is compelling, and that people talk about and share. The most effective SEO measures the engagement on your site; it’s about the metrics of engagement. When we design a web site, we spend time producing real, valuable, relevant content that your clients need.
If you’re not providing value to your audience, then you’re likely just adding noise to the online world. We understand that providing value to your clients secures your position in the market. By providing intelligent, strategic thought leadership to the C-suite, we provide a value beyond measure. We make sure that the websites we create go well beyond a pretty piece of real estate on the internet. An Integritive website has the corner on the market.

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Mobile is Key in Communicating with Your Customers

Grand Street: Texting

I’m often asked about mobile websites.  How are they different and do I need one?

The answer to the latter is a resounding yes!

According to Google, 40 % of all internet searches are currently being done on mobile devices.   We consumers use our smartphones for everything – information, news, entertainment, shopping, research, purchasing decisions, and much more.  Translation: if you’re not found via smartphone, you may not be found.

What’s even more intriguing is that an astonishing 85% of Americans are never more than three feet from their cell phones.  Many of us go to bed with our phone on a night stand, checking them first thing in the morning or just before sleeping.  While that’s not a habit I personally subscribe to, it’s a fact of our very mobile, very smartphone dependent culture.

A mobile website is no longer a luxury for your business to consider.  It is the new way of communicating with your customers.

What makes a site mobile?

Traditional websites are slow to load and hard to view and navigate (without pinch-zooming) on most mobile devices and tablets.  Mobile users are rarely “surfing” on your website.   They are looking for specific information on your brand and want quick access to your business – a phone number, contact form so they can leave a message, hours of operation, directions, etc.  Your mobile website needs to be a streamlined version of your current website.  It must render quickly and provide content that is both concise and relevant.

Mobile users want two things: they want fast information to utilize in a buying decision and they want to know how to reach you.  When planning a mobile website, it is imperative to prioritize content for the multi-tasking, on-the-go user.  While traditional websites often contain a wide array of content, mobile sites should include only the most crucial functions and features.

Simplify, simplify, simplify.

Key information about your brand should be clearly presented but keep in mind that a mobile visitor is typically looking for specific information.  Features such as Click-to-Call and Click-for-Directions make it easy for consumers to call or find you.  These features allow for easy and convenient communication.

No longer just a trend…it’s a language we must learn to speak.

We’ve reached the point where using mobile and tablet technology is not just a trend.  Mary Meeker, head of Morgan Stanley’s global technology research team, predicts that within the next five years “more users will connect to the Internet over mobile devices than desktop PCs.”  Mobile technology is here to stay.  It is the new language of the internet.   Your website, your brand must be able to speak to mobile consumers in their language.

Let’s start talking, shall we?

image via Flickr

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The Underfunded Digital Age

Just a few decades ago, if you wanted to start a business you needed to have a savvy business plan, a rich network of people pulling for the business idea and yes, investors. Investors are people that put money into the enterprise before it is anything but an idea, and continue to fund it when it is off the ground. Businesses just did not get off the ground without funding to either purchase equipment, obtain the personnel before they are needed and have adequate marketing budget to compete or inform the public about the product or service.
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