Culture & Community | By Tom Murphy,

Is Working From Home Bad For Business?

Work from home options are becoming more and more popular with employees, but are these arrangements good for employers?

According to some research, the answer isn’t yes. It’s “Heck, yes!”

One study by TinyPulse revealed that 91% of telecommuters said they were more productive working remotely than in the office. Given this information, it may be tempting take the telecommuting idea and run with it.

But before you shut down the office and send everybody packing, there are some key things to consider.

The Pros

Today’s employees love being able to make choices about when, where, and how they work. Offering work from home options may give you the edge when it comes to recruiting and retention. In addition to feeling more productive, remote workers also felt more valued, had higher levels of job satisfaction, and said they were more likely to stick around than their in-office counterparts.

Allowing for remote employees can also open up your hiring pool significantly. Have a great candidate who isn’t interested in commuting, relocating, or sticking to a rigid schedule? These things are no longer automatic deal breakers.

Working from home allows your employees to be productive without physically being in the office. Major snow storm? No problem. Make some cocoa and work in front of the fire. Systems down in the office? Grab your laptop and head to a cafe. A little under the weather? Instead of taking a sick day, now employees can choose to log their hours from home— without exposing everyone to the crud.

Employers with telecommuting programs in place have reported lower levels of absenteeism, fewer employee sick days, increased hiring flexibility, lower turnover, and reduced overhead costs. Those are some pretty great benefits.

The Cons

Before you decide to go all in here, it’s important to note that survey responses differed when remote workers were broken out by those who chose to work from home vs. those who were forced to work from home.

Not surprisingly, employees who chose to telecommute were happier, felt more valued, and were more likely to see themselves staying with the company than those who were mandated to work remotely.

The lesson here? Today’s job seekers value choice and flexibility, and are taking these things consideration when making career moves and decisions.

A word of caution regarding choice: If you do plan to offer telecommuting benefits, make sure to standardize the program as much as possible. If only a few select groups or individuals are offered work at home benefits, it can cause friction and resentment on the team.

And since we’re on the topic of team dynamics, it’s also worth noting that remote employees scored lower than their in-office mates when it came to rating the overall quality of their relationships at work.

The Balance

Obviously, it’s harder for remote teams to feel and stay connected, but that doesn’t mean you need to toss your telecommuting plans out the window. Instead, you can use this opportunity to design programs that address these issues from the get-go.

Work from home success relies largely on three key foundations:

  1. Communication

Communication is important for every organization, but even more so when you have remote workers. The good news is that there are a million technology tools to help your team stay connected and on track.

Programs that facilitate video conferencing and screen sharing like Zoom and Skype help coworkers collaborate from different offices, time zones, and even countries. Instant messaging apps like Slack and Teams allow people to communicate and “hang out” in real time. Project management programs like Asana and Trello let everyone follow and contribute to the projects they are involved in.

  1. Connection

Just because everyone isn’t in the same place doesn’t mean they can’t be on the same page. If you hire primarily for cultural fit, you’ll end up with a group of people who are likely to work well together, even if it’s primarily online.

That said, you’ll want to take some of that money you’re saving on office space and furniture and invest it in making sure your team gets together in person from time to time. Tech solutions are fantastic, but nothing beats real, live interaction every now and then. Preferably with delicious food and a little fun thrown in.

  1. Culture

If your company culture is crappy, it doesn’t matter where your employees work. No one is going to be inspired to give their all. The same goes for companies who have fantastic cultures. Dedicated employees will be even more devoted when they are given high levels of trust and flexibility, even if they rarely step foot in the office.

If you’ve got a strong, positive culture and trusted employees, you’re more than halfway there. Put together a telecommuting program and give it a try. You may be surprised at the positivity (and productivity!) it brings.

If you’re looking for a corporate employee benefits consultant who is a true business partner, and not just a once a year policy peddler, Sonus is here for you. We help clients all throughout the Midwest identify organizational challenges and put customized solutions in place. From tailored benefit programs to human resource management services, we’ve got you covered.

Culture & Community | By Scott Schulte,

How Do You Deal With Your Elephants?

Do you have dangerous things happening in your organization? Is there something you are constantly climbing over, ducking around or just plain avoiding?

Maybe it’s an underperforming sales team, an absent leader, or a cranky customer service rep.

Is your problem painfully obvious— like an elephant in the office? Or are your workplace issues more like snakes in the grass, just waiting for the right moment to jump up and bite you?

Both are equally dangerous. And they must be dealt with.

They say the first step to fixing any problem is recognizing that it’s there. But what matters most is what you choose to do at that point. Labeling a problem and then doing everything you can to avoid it only enhances your chances of getting stomped on by that elephant. Or bitten by those snakes.

So what should you do instead?

Speak up. And be persistent.

How many times have you brought up a concern only to have it rationalized as temporary, not worth fixing, or not as bad as you think? Sometimes you might even get sent away with a little pat on the head. “Relax,” they say, “That’s not actually happening.”

Maybe you’ve heard that others have tried to fix things in the past and have gotten nowhere. This might be true, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you should keep quiet or stop trying. Sometimes a problem needs to be identified multiple times, by multiple people before it becomes a priority. You could be that person who tips the scales or addresses the problem in a way that finally hits home. Or maybe you’ll just get lucky and catch the right person on the right day.

Finding the courage to speak up can be difficult, but it’s important to point out behaviors and processes that are causing harm.

Don’t let it pile up

We get it. Your therapist says you should let the little things go. And this can be great advice! But when you’re talking about bad business practices, little things can become big things very quickly.

If your company’s policy is to look the other way and let things slide, there could be serious trouble ahead. Not just for you, but for the entire organization.

If little things are piling up, they need to be addressed.

It’s not about complaining

No one likes a tattle-tale. But everyone loves the UPS man. Why? Because he delivers the stuff you need, when you need it.

Simply pointing out weaknesses or ranting about everything that’s been bothering you since the dawn of time isn’t the method you want to use. Approach your conversation in a professional manor, and put some thought into ways to fix the problem or improve the situation before you start the conversation.

Deliver your message like the UPS man would: quickly, efficiently, and with the best intentions.

Tackle that elephant!

Running a top notch organization isn’t for the faint of heart. If you see dangerous behaviors happening in your organization, find your inner fortitude and speak up.

Identify your concerns and the effects they’re having— or could potentially have. Then offer ideas for solutions. If you’re a company leader, listen to what your staff is saying, then summon the courage to make those difficult, but much needed changes.

Create and track performance indicators to get that sales team back on track.

Re-train your cranky customer service person.

Reel that absent CEO back in— or help him write his resume.

Make this your new normal now. Before the elephant tackles you.

Got an elephant that needs tackling? At Sonus, we help clients all throughout the Midwest identify organizational challenges and put customized solutions in place. From tailored benefit programs to human resource management services, we’ve got you covered.

Culture & Community | By Tom Murphy,

Want Better Business Results? Give Your Employees a Break.

You’ve worked hard to get where you are today. And you expect the same of your employees. But at some point, hard work can become overwork. And overworking can become overwhelming.

If your team never gets a break, you’re going to start feeling it in your bottom line. And not in the way you might imagine.

It’s a fine line…

Perhaps you’ve used words like disruptive, innovative, and revolutionary to describe your company’s product, service, or culture. Many business owners and leaders view these qualities as universally positive. Necessary, even. But from an employee perspective, they can be exhausting.

How many people genuinely look forward to spending extended work days engulfed in disruption, navigating constant change, or leading a revolution?

For a great purpose and over short periods of time? Sure! But non-stop every day until forever? Not so much.

Of course you want your employees to be excited about and invested in their work. But that doesn’t mean they need to live and breathe it 24 hours a day. Your best employees aren’t necessarily the ones hyped up on energy drinks working back to back shifts and staying up all night. They may appear to be overachievers, but in reality, they could be costing you big time.

Stress is money

Workplace stress is real. And real expensive.

Recent research shows:

When employees are stressed out (or tapped out) they are more likely to develop physical and mental health issues. Stress-related health problems can take them out of the game completely. And when they do show up, they’re more likely to be distracted and make mistakes.

Here are 3 keys to making sure your employees are working hard, but not burning out.

1.) Be aware

Recognizing the issue is half the battle. Check in with yourself and your team to assess levels of stress within the organization. Look for specific causes such as:

  • excessive workload
  • outdated technology
  • poor communication
  • workplace conflict
  • unhappy coworkers
  • toxic clients

2.) Take action

Once you’ve identified the causes, work quickly to find and implement solutions. Letting things go might seem less stressful in the short term, but issues simmering under the surface are a breeding ground for increased tension and potential blow ups.

3.) Lead by example

If you tell employees they should strive for work life balance, but they see leadership working 14 hour days and/or rewarding those who do, no one is going to believe you really mean it. Reduce your own stress and you will naturally reduce the stress of your team.

Help your employees help you

If you really want your staff to achieve balance, you can’t just keep talking about it. At some point, you need to give them the tools to make it happen.

Less stress equals happier, healthier employees. And when your team is healthy and happy, your bottom line will be as well.


Running into challenges with employee burnout, turnover, and retention? At Sonus Benefits, we’ve got ideas to help you address these issues and more. Get in touch with Sonus to find out what working with a true employee benefits consultant feels like.


Culture & Community | By Sonus Benefits,

How to Flu-Proof Your Organization. Or at Least Try.

Nothing strikes fear in the hearts of workplaces like the dreaded F-word. You know the one. Flu season. Just reading it is enough to make you want to run out and buy a gallon of hand sanitizer.

Nobody wants to get the flu. And no one wants to see it ripping through their organization. Not only does it make people miserable, it can also make businesses run miserably.

A bout of the flu typically lasts one to two weeks. That’s a lot of missed work! Estimates have put the cost of lost productivity due to flu season as high as 15 billion dollars. That’s enough to make any business owner feel sick.

Luckily, there are ways to help mitigate the damage. And with the health of your employees (and your business!) on the line, they are definitely worth exploring.

1.) Adopt healthy habits

Exposure to the flu isn’t always obvious. People can be contagious without even knowing it. When flu season rolls around, it’s good to establish (or re-establish) healthy office habits that help prevent transmission.

Good Hygiene – Encourage frequent hand washing. Keep hand sanitizer, tissues and disinfectant readily available. Remind people to cough and sneeze into the crook of their arms and not their hands.

Sick time – Offer paid sick time and make sure everyone (including you) knows it’s okay to use it. Make it clear that sick employees should stay home, especially if they have a fever or other flu symptoms. “Working through the flu” may seem admirable, but the ROI just isn’t there. Not only are sick employees less productive, they’re much more likely to spread their misfortune to other staff members. Employees who stay home can help prevent the domino effect.

Remote work – If your employees have the ability to work from home, flu season is a great time to let them take advantage of it. If they are feeling under the weather, they don’t have to make that difficult decision about whether or not to trek into the office. And if they’ve got sick kids or other family members, remote working can offer some much needed flexibility.

Hold fewer meetings – If the flu is spreading like wildfire, throwing a bunch of employees into a room together and closing the door is the equivalent of creating an office Petri dish. Assess which meetings need to happen and which ones don’t. And consider using conference calls, video chats, or other technology to make them happen.  

Skip the handshakes – A good, solid handshake is a business staple. But if it’s contaminated with and undetected virus, you’re better off skipping it. Encourage employees to skip the shake. A smile, nod or wave will often do the trick.

2.) Encourage immunizations

Flu shots are no guarantee that you won’t get sick, but they definitely help. Studies show that the flu vaccine reduces the risk of flu illness by about 40% to 60% among the overall population.

Yes, it IS true that you can get the flu even if you get the vaccination:

  • If you were exposed to the flu before the shot.
  • If you are exposed to the flu before the vaccine has time to do its job (1 – 2 weeks)
  • If you are exposed to a strain of the flu that isn’t covered by the shot
  • If you have a compromised immune system

But there are some serious upsides to getting vaccinated. Studies show that flu vaccines not only reduce the risk of influenza, they also:

  • Make your illness milder if you do get sick
  • Reduce the risk of flu-related complications and deaths
  • Protect pregnant women and reduce the risk of flu illness in their babies for several months after birth
  • Protect the people around you, including babies and children, elderly people, and individuals with certain chronic health conditions.

One study showed that flu vaccinations reduced deaths, ICU admissions, and overall duration of hospitalization stays for flu patients.

If you could reduce the number of employees with the flu by 40 – 60 percent, would you do it?

As an employer, you can reduce the risk of a flu outbreak by encouraging immunizations. You may even want to go an extra step further and host a flu shot clinic, making it easy and convenient for employees to get their shot. If cost is a barrier, consider subsidizing or covering the expense. It’s a small price to pay for a healthier workplace.

Is your benefits broker also a compliance consultant? How about a trusted business partner? Are you confident your policies and processes are doing what they need to ensure that your company—and your employees— are healthy and productive? At Sonus Benefits, this is what we do for St. Louis employers every single day.

Culture & Community | By Tom Murphy,

Why Employee Engagement Matters and How to Bring it Back

Studies show that organizations with high levels of engagement have happier employees, happier, more loyal customers, and more profitable businesses.

Many companies are interested in increasing engagement for these reasons and more, but questions remain.

  • How do you build a culture that encourages employees to become more engaged?
  • Can employers do it on their own?
  • Don’t employees also need to shoulder some of the responsibility?

Increasing employee engagement isn’t easy, but it can be done.

Start with the research

Bain and Company found some pretty fascinating information about who has the lowest levels of employee engagement. A few poignant findings:

Finding #1: As tenure increases, engagement levels decrease.

Problem: Those with the most knowledge and experience are actually becoming less engaged.

Finding #2: Lower level employees have lower levels of engagement.

Problem: High level management may be out of touch with employee morale on the front lines.

Finding #3: Engagement levels are lowest for sales and service people.

BIG Problem: These are the same individuals who are most likely to interact with your customers!

These findings are worrisome for obvious reasons, including employees who get less work done, don’t support the company vision, and/or spread their discontent to fellow employees and customers. And that’s not even considering the cost of higher turnover!

Uh oh. Now what?

As an employer, there are ways you can effectively work to engage employees.

Open, communicative environments are the best places to start. Having honest conversations with all levels of staff about what they like about working for you (and what things they would change) can get you on the right track— if you are a.) open to hearing what they have to say and b.) willing to make some changes.

But can you do it alone? Aren’t your employees partially responsible?

The truth is, toxic work environments take a toll on both sides. There’s no question that managers and employees have both been burned by practices that have created an employer vs. worker mindset, with each side feeling like the other doesn’t have their best interests at heart. But when it comes to repairing the damage, it’s employers who have the upper hand.

The balance of power

One of the top reasons employees say they are unhappy at work is because they have little to no control over their tasks, processes, and outcomes. Many of them are afraid to speak up, or have stopped doing so after trying too many times with poor results. Asking these folks to build a better culture isn’t going to get you very far.

Because you hold the cards, you have the challenge (and the pleasure) of changing the game. And of convincing your employees they want to be part of the new culture and team.

In order to get both sides playing nicely and striving toward the same goal, your employees will need to have an open mind, speak up, and also be willing to make some changes. So how do you get them to do their part?

Rekindle the Love

At some point, each and every one of your employees was a brand new hire, thrilled to have gotten a job with your company. They showed up that first day willing to give their best— and expecting great things from you. At the same time, you were excited about the talent and potential they were bringing with them.

Think about your culture change as a commitment to re-hiring all of those awesome new people again. Find out what specifically made them choose you, what things may have gone wrong, and how you can work together to bring back that new job excitement.

Start Where You Are

Openly acknowledge that things aren’t where you want them to be.

Don’t be vague. Address specific signs of discontent and policies or events you believe have negatively affected your team. Admit that you can do better, and commit to doing just that.

Sincerity is very important here. If this message is delivered in an impersonal way, it won’t be convincing. Your employees will be skeptical, and rightfully so.

Listen. And Be Patient.

Employee feedback is critical to this process.

Employers and staff are often oceans apart on what they believe to be the key issues causing disengagement. Openly talking about these things is the only way to find out what’s really going on. Realize that this tactic may not bear fruit immediately, as your employees may be afraid to speak out or be honest.

Commit to a long-term plan that incorporates several different tactics for information gathering. A mix of focus groups, surveys, and one-on-one conversations will allow for various types of people to communicate in ways that are comfortable to them. It also shows your team this isn’t just a corporate whim, that you value their input, and you are genuinely interested in improving.

Follow Through

Talk without change is just that.

If you want your employees to put their faith in you, you will have to actually deliver. Make sure something tangible happens relatively quickly. This will ignite the spark of hope in your most optimistic players.

As you continue to make changes and clearly communicate why and how they are taking place, others will begin to jump back on the trust bandwagon. Over time, those who don’t believe in the new culture you are creating will eventually select themselves out. That’s okay. Sometimes following through means letting go of things that run counter to your new purpose.

Stay Committed

A culture of engagement won’t magically appear overnight, and achieving it doesn’t mean it will be easy to maintain. But it can be done.

Once you’ve settled on your new vision, share it with the team and stick with it. Your future is yours to create— one step, and one employee, at a time.


Running into challenges with employee engagement, turnover, and retention? At Sonus Benefits, we’ve got ideas to help you address these issues and more. Get in touch with Sonus to see how we can help your organization become a local employer of choice.

Culture & Community | By Tom Murphy,

Increase Employee Retention by Improving Company Culture

Worried about hanging on to your employees? So is everyone else.

According to a Korn Ferry study, a whopping 90% of executives said they felt employee retention was an issue. And many of them admitted to losing new hires because of issues with company culture.

In fact, nearly 20% of the executives surveyed said company culture was the primary reason new employees left within the first year.

Research by Right Management backs this theory up. When employee were asked their top motivations for changing jobs, 25% said they were leaving to find a better work culture. Let that sink in for a moment:

Nearly a quarter of all employee turnover may be due to company culture.

Companies can no longer afford to let culture simmer quietly on the back burner. Creating and nurturing a positive culture is critical to attracting and retaining employees. Companies that leave culture and cultural fit to chance are leaving their businesses to chance as well.

Is change possible?

Changing something intangible like company culture might seem overwhelming, time consuming, and maybe even impossible.

When it comes down to it, shouldn’t your main priority be making widgets or providing top notch service?

Yes and no.

Yes, you have to keep your core business running, but if you want to stick around for the long haul, you’ve also got to throw yourself into creating a business model that is actually sustainable— and a culture to match. To continue to be successful, you have to make your organization attractive to current and potential employees.

Making culture happen

When it comes to intentionally building your company culture, there are three basic steps:

1.) Know where you are

To improve on what you have, you must first understand the current company culture, including its strengths and weaknesses. Take a good (and honest) look around. You may also need to take off your rose colored glasses and develop a thick skin. Talk to people at all levels and listen to what they have to say. This is your starting point.

2.) Know where you want to be

If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never get there. You’ll need to get your leaders together and define the core values that will drive all of the decisions and behaviors your organization. The clearer you make this, the easier it will be to execute step three.

3.) Start moving

Once you know your starting point and your desired destination, the hard work begins. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that just talking about your culture is enough. Now that you’ve identified the discrepancies between where you are and where you want to be, you’ll have to actually address the issues you’ve uncovered. And it’s going to take real, tangible action.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint

Launching your culture makeover at full speed may sound like the best plan, but be sure to pace yourself. Tackling a big issue like company culture is a long and ongoing process. And even when you get there, the process of maintaining it never really ends.

Here are some tips for managing the process:

Play the long game. Should you get started? Absolutely! But unless your culture is extremely toxic, you don’t need to try to roll all of your changes out at once. Targeting one specific group, issue, or change at a time can seem much more manageable. And you may even get some quick wins to help build your confidence and resolve.      

Give people a voice. It’s much easier to get your employees behind you if they feel listened to, valued and cared about. Empower your staff to be part of the change. Involve them in the strategy and execution of your culture initiatives. Not only will you get some great ideas and insight, you will quickly see who is on board and who isn’t.

Find the bright spots. Okay. So maybe there are a lot of things going wrong. But there are probably also places where things are going right. Identify those areas and try to replicate that success. Are there particular locations or departments that seem to have a lot less employee turnover, or where the culture seems to be more in line with what the organization as a whole is trying to achieve? Put some effort into figuring out why so you can multiply the desired effect.

Examine your benefits. Employee benefits can be a powerful tool for building your culture. A great benefits program tells your employees that you value them, and that you are willing to invest in them. Not only that, but the benefits you offer are a good indication of your company values.

  • Vacation, flex time and PTO say you value work/life balance.
  • Offering childcare reimbursements screams family friendly.
  • Assistance with student debt repayment says you care about financial stability.

And so on.

Take a look at your newly defined culture and see if and how your benefits package is in alignment with your core values. If these things aren’t in sync, make changes until they are.

Continue the cycle

Company culture may seem like a magical, mystical thing, but the truth is it’s just hard work.

Even once you’ve achieved the culture you envisioned, you’ll still need to reassess your goals, vision, mission, and processes to make sure they all match up.

But all of this hard work will pay off. And when it does, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. Because not only will you be able to attract and retain the kinds of employees you need to propel you forward, you will literally be working at the company of your dreams.

Recruiting and retaining employees is easier when you can proudly offer a comprehensive benefits plan that makes your team members feel as valuable as they are. Get in touch with Sonus to see how we can help your organization become a local employer of choice.

Culture & Community | By Scott Schulte,

Is Busy Hurting Your Business?

We all have things we’d like to do but just can’t seem to get around to. Some of them are vague ideas. Some of them have made it all the way on the To Do list. And then there are those pesky other items: The things we know we should already be doing—but aren’t.

The list of excuses for not doing things can be as long as the list of things that need to be done. But there’s one roadblock we’ve all run into… lack of time.

“I’m too busy!”

Ask a friend or coworker how they are. Chances are good that the answer is “busy!”

It seems like we could all use an increase in the number of hours in the day. But because that’s not an option, we put things off. Instead of doing them now, we let them slide down the priority list. Or maybe even ignore them all together.

Here’s the thing. The excuse of being too busy can quickly disappear when a particular to-do item becomes an urgent priority.

  • That dentist appointment you haven’t scheduled becomes much more of a priority when you can no longer chew your food.
  • Those gym workouts you always plan to start “next week” become much more of a priority when your doctor says you have high blood pressure.
  • The rattle in your car you’ve been ignoring will become your top priority when smoke starts pouring out from under the hood.

Unfortunately, the do-it-later mentality doesn’t just play out in our personal lives. It shows up in our work lives as well.

What are you avoiding?

  • Is finding the right employee benefits plan your next toothache?
  • Is filling that open position feeling like an extra 20 pounds?
  • Is that noise you keep ignoring the sound of unhappy employees?

What is that thing (or handful of things) that’s been nagging you? You know, the important stuff you’d like to do for your business or your team— if only you could make more time in the day?

Once you’ve identified these items, take a deep breath, then move them to the top of your list. And commit to doing them.

Your time is valuable. How will you spend it?

Think about how you spent your precious limited amount of time last week. Did you get to the big, important stuff or did the little stuff take over?

What would you feel like today if you had replaced some of those time-sucking tasks with one or two big items that would help move you closer to your goals?

Would doing these things actually save you time or make your life easier in the long run?

How would it feel to not have those things hanging over your head?

You may not think you have time to tackle the things you’ve been putting off, but the beautiful thing is that you can make time for things that matter. Block off a few hours on your calendar. Make an appointment with yourself or better yet, schedule time with someone who can help you accomplish one of your goals.

Big things happen a little bit at a time. Carve out those little bits each day and see where they take you.


Need a better ROI on your corporate employee benefits? At Sonus Benefits, we’re not interested in just finding you a policy for this year. We provide strategic employee benefits and human resource management services to help you build a better future. Our goal is to take your business where you want it to go.

Culture & Community | By Sonus Benefits,

Delivering Information Via Webinar? Tips for Better Online Presentations

Hosting a webinar is an easy and efficient way to transfer information, conduct training sessions, and encourage constant learning. Unfortunately, it can also be a fantastic way to put people to sleep.

Will your next webinar be an eye-opener or a snooze fest? It all depends on you.

Whether you’re new to the webinar game or a long-time presenter, it pays to keep a few key things in mind as you prepare.

The pressure is still on

Just because your attendees aren’t in the room with you doesn’t mean you can relax and bring your B game. Quite the contrary, actually. Since you won’t have that face-to-face connection while presenting, you’ll have to work even harder to capture and keep your audience’s attention.

People registered for your webinar because they want to hear the great information you have to offer. But when the day arrives, they’ll be sitting in front of their screen with 57 new items that have creeped onto their to-do lists since signing up— and very little accountability.

If your presentation isn’t interesting or relevant, it won’t take long for them to find something else that is. And once you’ve lost your attendees, they aren’t coming back.

Less formal does not equal less practice

It’s kind of nice that no one is asking you to show up in your business best and present in front of a room full of people. And while this significantly reduces that panic factor for many presenters, it does NOT mean you can just log in and wing it. If you want to keep your attendees engaged for more than the first 6 minutes, you’d better compose a clear, concise presentation— and practice the heck out of it.

People can be pretty forgiving in person, and will often feel a sense of obligation to stick out a live presentation once they are in their seats. But online attendees are not nearly as polite. If they sense you haven’t fully prepared to effectively use the hour of time they’ve marked out for you, they won’t think twice about switching over to email, popping you on mute, or logging out completely.

Show that you value their attendance (and their time!) by putting together a well-organized presentation and then committing to practice, practice and more practice.

Watch your voice

Good verbal communication skills are critical to putting on a successful webinar. Because you can’t rely on your winning smile and personal presence, your tone and delivery become exponentially more important.

Record a run-through of your presentation and listen to yourself. Are you stumbling over your words or are you polished and well-rehearsed? Is your tone friendly and engaging or are you droning on in monotone? Are you an up-talker? Do you say… um… like… so… you know? Are you burning through the material too fast? Are there too many awkward pauses?

Visualize yourself as the webinar attendee. Are you being treated to a smooth, confident delivery or are you keeping a secret tally of how many times the presenter adds, “yeah?” at the end of a sentence? Space-filling speech tics may be less glaring in person, but they will become accentuated online.

Don’t be the presenter who makes everything sound like it’s in question. Speak with authority and confidence.

Fancy up those slides!

Seriously, people. This is a biggie. Your viewers have nothing else to look at but your slides. If they consist of nothing but bullet points, half of your audience will be asleep by the end of your presentation. And the other half will be long gone.

Lucky for you, webinar slides can benefit from a bit more flexibility than live presentation slides. It’s okay to have more pages and move them along faster. And because your attendees have nothing else to look at but the screen, you can also make some of them a little more text heavy. This doesn’t mean you should write your entire presentation out on your slides. If that’s your style, skip the webinar and send an eBook instead.

If you want people to stay awake and interested, find interesting ways to present your information. This is the time to get creative! Be colorful. Ask questions. Use lots of visuals. Humor is also a definite plus, so throw in some Dilbert every once in a while to keep people entertained.

If your slides are monotonous and boring, so is your webinar.

Make a connection

Webinars are a little one-sided by nature, but they don’t have to be impersonal. Here are some ways to ramp up the feel-good factor:

  • Use friendly, conversational language
  • Address your audience as if you are all together in the same room
  • Design your session with built in interaction such as audience surveys, comments, and questions
  • Provide your contact information and invite people to follow up with you personally after the session

And, if you want to make people really happy, wrap things up early and encourage your attendees to take a quick walk or grab coffee with the extra time they have scheduled out. Who doesn’t love the gift of a few extra minutes in the midst of a busy day?

You can do it

We’ve all attended our share of good and bad webinars. Make sure you keep that ratio in the positive if you want to engage your audience and keep them coming back for more. If you’re feeling nervous about your next online presentation, just remember: great information + great delivery = a great webinar.

Now go insert some photos into those slides. You’ve got this!


Having trouble with employee communications? We can help with that. We work with clients all throughout the Midwest to identify organizational challenges and put customized solutions in place. If you’re looking for a corporate employee benefits consultant who is a true business partner, and not just a once a year policy peddler, Sonus is here for you.

Culture & Community | By Scott Schulte,

Want to Win at Business? Bring Out the Best in Your Team.

There’s a reason there are so many sports analogies in business. It’s all about competition. You’re competing for market share, you’re competing for attention, and you’re competing for the best and brightest talent.

Many of your most innovative and hard-working employees also thrive on competition. They don’t just want to do a good job. They want to be the best they can possibly be. And they want to help your company win.

It’s no secret that many businesses head straight for the athletic department when recruiting on college campuses. Why? Because they’re looking for people with that competitive spirit. But you don’t necessarily have to hire a natural athlete to get top rated talent.

Sometimes, it’s about knowing how to bring out the best in everyone on your team.

Be the Coach

Many of us have had coaches that changed our lives for the better. They taught us to love the game, the challenges, and the team. They nurtured our talents and made us feel successful. They fostered loyalty, camaraderie, and respect. They treated tough losses as opportunities to learn, grow, and improve. Yes, they celebrated winning, but also rewarded fair play, determination, and effort.

Some of us have also had coaches who made us wish we had never tried out for the team. No play was ever big enough. No effort was ever good enough. Teammates were pitted against each other, and the only thing that mattered was winning— at all costs. Even when you did win, there was no celebrating. It was all about focusing on the things that went wrong and preparing for the next battle.

If you want to cultivate hard-working, loyal employees, you can’t leave them feeling constantly defeated. You’ve got to nurture your talent in ways that make them want to keep playing, keep improving, and keep being part of the team.  

Playing the long game

Successful coaches know that raw talent alone doesn’t make a great player. Neither does sheer effort. The best players are the ones who know the game inside and out. Not only do they have skills and determination, they also understand the strategy behind what moves will work and why.

If you’re not sharing your organizational vision with your team, you’re missing out on an opportunity to give your team that critical behind-the-scenes knowledge. You’re also setting yourself up for a steady stream of confusion and lackluster results. Everyone will be running in different directions. Or worse yet, stuck at the starting line.

Want to keep your team motivated and on track?

Give them the why behind what they’re doing. Share your company mission, goals, and strategy, and let them know where and how they fit in.

Recognize individual strengths and who fits best in each position. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking everyone needs to be good at everything. Your catcher is not also going to be a great pitcher. Let him do what he does best. Then groom a pitcher to compliment his talents.

Keep in mind that every team has a different dynamic, with different strengths and weaknesses. As much natural talent as your new hires have, they won’t know any of those nuances when they first join the team. Take the time to teach and mentor each new employee until they feel confident in their role.

At the end of the day, your organization’s success lies in the hands of its leaders.

If you want to build a fantastic company culture and an even better team, be that inspirational coach that made you want to be a better player. And a better person.


Running into challenges with employee performance, turnover, and retention? At Sonus Benefits, we’ve got ideas to help you address these issues and more. Get in touch with Sonus to see how we can help your organization become a local employer of choice.

Culture & Community | By Tom Murphy,

How to Build a Culture of Collaboration

Finding and hiring the right people is integral to the success of your organization. But no matter how capable each staff member may be, if your teams aren’t working together, you won’t get the results you’re hoping for.

Yes, you want to have high value contributors on staff, but successful companies also need successful collaboration, communication, and teamwork.

Wondering how to build a great company culture, even as you add new employees to the mix? Take a look at your current team strategies and practices to see what’s working and what isn’t. Then get brave enough to make the changes you need.

Here are several ways to ensure you’re building the kind of team you need, and the kind of team your employees want to be part of.

It’s all about the “why”

When you’re the one creating the company vision, it can be easy to fall into the trap of assuming everyone in the organization understands why  you’re doing what you’re doing, and why it’s so critical.

This isn’t necessarily the case. The truth is, you can never explain in too much detail what gives you your fire and drives your organization. You can never tell that story too many times.

Bottom line: Once you help your team understand the “why” behind your vision, you may be shocked at how quickly and efficiently they will be able to execute on the “how.

Stay focused

You have a vision for where you want to go and how you want to get there. But creating and communicating that vision isn’t enough. You’ve got to commit to it 100%. Or more.

Recruit, hire and promote with this vision in mind.

Unfortunately, sometimes you’ll have to let people go with this vision in mind as well. If you have team members who aren’t willing or able to help execute the vision, cut them loose. Don’t kid yourself into thinking you’re taking care of your people by hanging on to employees who are no longer a good fit. Doing so destroys your leadership credibility and weakens the team, and that’s not fair to anyone.

Bottom line: The sooner your entire team is aligned, the sooner you can get moving in the right direction.

Keep your best and brightest

As you begin let go of those employees who are no longer a good fit for the organization, be careful that you don’t inadvertently lose some of your golden nuggets. Change is disruptive by nature, and it can test employee confidence and loyalty. Never assume your best employees will easily pass that test.

Look for opportunities to reinforce your confidence in your top performers. Let them know you recognize and appreciate their capabilities, and help them see how they fit into the changing picture.

Be sure your compensation program is designed to motivate and incentivize, not deflate and desensitize. Realistic goals, genuine appreciation, and healthy dose of positivity will go a long way here.

Bottom line: The more valued your employees feel, the more secure and loyal they will feel.

Get connected

Horizontal connections are often ignored in companies ripe with silos. There are silos that separate departments, teams, and even individuals.

More importantly, there are silos separating leadership from everyone else.

Make sure your leadership team remains in touch with people at all levels in the organization. Every great employee and incredible leader had to start somewhere. Ignoring certain segments of the organization can cause you to miss out on innovative ideas and future stars. Today’s entry level staff person could be tomorrow’s CEO.

Build bridges between teams and individuals to allow the transfer of knowledge, ideas, and confidence.

Bottom line: Whether your employees have been with you a week or a decade, they will appreciate feeling connected and being part of something bigger.

Inspire communication

Keep communication channels open, not only between leadership and staff, but across teams and between employees.

This should be a top priority and part of your overall company culture and commitment to employees. Make communication part of your onboarding process and embed it into everything you do.

Bottom line: Transparency is one of the best ways to build trust. Establish clear communication patterns and lead by example.

Admire your work

The kind of team and culture you create will determine the kind of employees and customers you attract— and how loyal they will be to your brand.

Make sure your organization embodies your values from the ground up. If you’ve built a solid framework, more people will willingly jump onboard.

And that is a thing of beauty.


Need a better ROI on your corporate employee benefits? At Sonus Benefits, we’re not interested in just finding you a policy for this year. We provide strategic employee benefits and human resource management services to help you build a better future. Get in touch with Sonus to find out what working with a true employee benefits consultant feels like.