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Helping Today’s Workforce Meet The Post Pandemic Fitness Challenge

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Helping Today’s Workforce Meet The Post Pandemic Fitness Challenge

As America shifted from a largely rural population (with no modern conveniences) a century ago to 80 percent living in urban areas today, physical fitness – a near-necessity for rural dwellers – has unfortunately, greatly declined.

Read also: Technology Empowering the Logistics Workforce 

In 2020, only 28 percent of American men and 20 percent of women over 18 met the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.

Then came COVID-19.

However and startlingly, perhaps the only perceivable good thing that came out of the pandemic is the great increase in workouts.

Recent data has indicated that 73 percent of consumers in 2020 were using pre-recorded video workouts versus 17 percent in 2019, while 85 percent were relying on livestream classes weekly versus just 7 percent a year earlier. That data, compiled by the technology platform Mindbody, also showed that consumers in 2020 were working out in-person even more than in the past, with 56 percent of respondents saying they were exercising at least five times a week.

The bottom line appears to be that people want to be physically fit and healthy, despite the fact that physical activity is rarely a part of their everyday work life.

Corporate America has become aware of this fact and appreciative of the value of a healthy, fit workforce, and many companies are now embracing innovative approaches to promoting health and fitness among their employees. They are finding this new emphasis as both an enhancement to attract and retain top talent and an element in keeping those employees in the best mental, physical and emotional shape to handle the everyday and extraordinary stresses on the job.

Our company is working to further improve these numbers.

Millennium Health & Fitness, Inc. is based in Brevard, North Carolina. This 31-year-old firm started with a vision to create on-site programs to foster optimum health. Today, it has grown into a consortium of fitness and health care professionals who specialize in providing customer-tailored health and fitness services, both virtually and in the workplace.

After three decades of providing comprehensive wellness solutions for a diverse range of clients in corporations, federal offices, and the military, Millennium rebranded itself to emphasize an exciting and emerging focus on both virtual and in-person wellness experiences.

But we’re not just redefining our brand; we’re redefining what it means to live a healthy, fulfilled life. Every step we take is a step towards a future where wellness is not a luxury, but a standard.

We hear testimonials speaking to the impact of our work regularly, proudly providing what has been deemed by many as “…informative health awareness; creating and promoting lifestyle change to improve daily living” – testimonials you wouldn’t first think to hear from those on the job in the workforce.

Millennium programs are importantly now available to over 300,000 members of the civilian workforce working for the Department of Defence (DOD), veterans and their families and to over 80,000 employees of the Veterans Administration. Our company also now operates over 3,000 virtual fitness classes a year, an increasingly important factor given the rise in hybrid and remote work in the wake of the pandemic.

But we don’t stop there. Millennium is also proactive in promoting health and fitness, writ large.

We offer customized, strategic health education programs that deliver informative and educational information about various health-related topics, ranging from anti-smoking and anti-drinking presentations to breast cancer screenings and dietary recommendations.

We also sponsor and participate in health fairs that promote health concepts and new medical devices, engage community members in such activities as heart-healthy walks, and teach children about caring for their bodies. To further our long-term goal of instilling an attitude of wellness, Millennium fosters wellness communities, nurtures personal transformations, and provides wellness resources to anyone who seeks them.

Millennium-sponsored biometric health screenings are a keystone of our company’s commitment to helping public and private employers and their employees reduce future healthcare costs and improve employee satisfaction in doing so – the feeling that their employer cares about their health. These screenings include measurements such as height, weight, body mass index, body fat, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, blood glucose, and blood pressure.

These screenings can be done at the worksite – the U.S. Air Force and the Veterans Administration have implemented this strategy, for example – and they can be used as a standalone or part of a broader workplace health assessment to benchmark and evaluate changes in employee health status over time.

Not that many years ago, the average American was more concerned over an excess of back-breaking physical activity that left many physically broken and emotionally exhausted at the end of the workday. Today, that workday all too often involves so little physical activity that people have to find the time and the facilities elsewhere to stay physically fit – or to aspire to reach physical fitness for the first time in years.

If America is to be strong tomorrow, the refocus on wellness as a standard in the workplace will have to become an achievable task for the great majority.

Studies additionally show that effective health and wellness programs drive a positive ‘Return To Office’ (RTO) scenario – They also produce organizational and employee benefits, such as lower healthcare costs, reduced absenteeism and enhanced employee engagement.

Fortunately, America’s wellness trainers are ready to help actualize this data and help both employers and employees achieve their goals – and even reach new goals that they had not dreamed possible in the process.

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The Importance of Educating Gen Z on Employee Benefits to Retain Top Talent

The labor market has undergone a significant shift in the past few decades. In the midst of a turbulent market, low unemployment, and the remaining tailwinds of the Great Resignation, more employers are asking themselves what they can do to support their employees.

For Generation Z, the youngest generation just entering the workforce, those needs include benefits – not just having them, but having customized options and understanding how to maximize their benefits.

This generation, which was born 1995 or later, is just finishing education and entering the workforce for the first time. They experienced radically different circumstances than the previous generations – especially with the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent shift in the labor market – and they have different needs and criteria for job searches.

They’re competitive, in demand, and discerning. To attract top talent in this budding workforce, employers need to provide attractive benefits and educate employees on why they’re better than competitors.

Health insurance is a given, but Gen Z is also looking for other benefits that will enhance their lives, such as tuition reimbursement, income protection, flexible schedules, and other benefits. They understand what’s out there, but that doesn’t mean they understand their options, how benefits work, and how the decisions they make now affect their current situation and their future.

Employers can be a crucial step in bridging that gap. You can help your employees understand why your benefits are competitive and show them how to make the most of what’s available. In return, you’ll have employees that are maximizing your investment into their benefits, satisfied with their jobs, and loyal to your employer brand.

What Makes Gen Z Different?

Gen Z includes members that were born between 1995 and 2012. The eldest among them are just a few years into their careers, while the youngest are just now entering the workforce. They are the most ethnically and racially diverse generation in the US to this point and digital natives.

Millennials and Gen Z have a lot in common, but their experiences in the workforce are quite different. The former were entering the workforce before or during the Great Recession, experiencing job instability and a setback on their career paths.

Gen Z, on the other hand, had a more promising career start amid a booming economy – until the COVID-19 pandemic hit. One advantage they have, however, is that they are familiar with the gig economy and different online opportunities, so they’re not afraid to rely on multiple income sources to make ends meet.

So, what does Gen Z expect from a workplace?

It’s impossible to generalize or summarize an entire generation with sweeping statements, especially when there’s a big gap between the oldest and youngest and a few major events in between, but there are some consistencies across these individuals:

They appreciate a company’s true mission and transparency, rather than platitude or performative expressions.

  • They want to know that the work they do matters.
  • They want learning and growth opportunities that will help their careers.
  • They want to be part of a company with a strong, positive culture.

When it comes to benefits, things get more complex. Gen Z automatically expects health and retirement benefits, which most companies offer. They also want flexibility and options that will help them move forward in life, such as financial education, wealth and income protection, and tuition reimbursement.

Here are some ways that you, as an employer, can help Gen Z employees make the most of their benefits.

Help Them Navigate the Complexities of Health Insurance

Health insurance is the most important of employee benefits, but it’s pretty new to most Gen Z employees. Before they enter the workforce, these candidates have been relying on their parents’ health plans and may not be aware of all the different options they have for health insurance – nor how those choices impact their financial situation.

High school and college don’t prepare young adults for choosing benefits or making decisions based on major life changes, such as getting married or having kids. With health insurance, what works for a single person is drastically different from the needs of a family with young children.

In addition, health insurance plans use a lot of complex jargon and carry fine print that employees need to pay attention to when making the right decision for their individual needs.

As an employer, you can demystify health insurance by educating employees on the key aspects of healthcare plans:

Monthly Premiums

Gen Z employees should be educated on the share of health insurance premiums and how that premium is split between them and the employer. They also need to understand how choosing the deductible and coinsurance affect their monthly premium. It may be tempting for them to choose the lowest monthly premium, not realizing that they have an exorbitant deductible or a high coinsurance percentage to pay.


Deductibles are a big consideration with a healthcare plan. Employees have to understand how deductibles work and how choosing their deductible amount can affect the monthly premium and their out-of-pocket expenses when they need medical care. This is especially important for employees who are insuring an entire family.


Copays are part of virtually every insurance plan. Generally, the higher the upfront premium, the lower the copay. Some copays only go into effect after the deductible is met, while others are required for specific services before the deductible comes into play. These are important distinctions that employees need to fully understand to make an informed decision.

In-Network vs. Out-of-Network

Most health insurance plans have a network with insurer contracts that are negotiated for better rates with different healthcare providers. Any enrollees who seek healthcare services outside of their network may have much higher costs for their care. With some plans, an out-of-network provider may mean insurance won’t pay anything, which could become an issue with specialists, different locations, or other circumstances.

Show the Value of Tax-Advantaged Accounts

If you have health savings accounts (HSAs) or flexible spending accounts (FSAs) for your employees, educate them on the value they offer. Otherwise, your employees may not understand why these accounts are so helpful or the advantages, such as taking a health savings account with them if they take a different job.

Essential Services

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires health insurance plans cover 10 essential services:

  1. Ambulatory patient services
  2. Emergency services
  3. Hospitalization
  4. Pregnancy, maternity, and newborn care
  5. Mental health and substance use disorder treatments
  6. Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices
  7. Prescription drugs
  8. Preventive and wellness services
  9. Pediatric services
  10. Laboratory services

Plans must also offer birth control coverage and breastfeeding coverage.

Employees need to understand what these services are and how they affect their healthcare plan to make an informed decision.

Show the Value of Wealth and Income-Protection Benefits

Like benefits, the American education system doesn’t include a lot of practical financial education for general studies. Unless a student takes courses in accounting or finance, they’re missing out on vital life skills to make sound financial decisions as they enter the workforce.

Benefits education programs can help employees understand the wealth and income-protection benefits that are available to them and how they can take steps now to secure their financial future.

Cover the Guidelines Tuition Reimbursement or Continuing Education

Tuition reimbursement or other education benefits are appealing to job candidates. If you offer benefits for education, make sure your employees understand what options are available to them and the conditions for taking advantage of them.

For example, if your tuition reimbursement only pays for education within a certain field of study or up to a certain amount, employees need to know what they’re financially responsible for. Satisfactory academic progress is another common requirement of tuition reimbursement.

Tips for Educating Gen Z on Benefits

There’s a lot of information to cover, but here are some tips to make benefits education stick with your Gen Z employees.

Offer Customizable Plans

Employees have different needs and circumstances that can impact their decisions for benefits. Instead of choosing a cookie-cutter plan that only dissatisfy employees and waste money, offer customizable benefits plans that employees can adjust for their own needs.

Educate Them on Their Options

Employees need to know what options are available to choose the right benefits. Otherwise, they may just pick whatever is in front of them, missing the true value of the benefits packages you offer.

In addition, a new graduate may not understand why choosing the right health insurance plan or contributing to a retirement plan is a good move while they’re young to secure their financial future as they near retirement.

You can use tools like workshops or forums with questions and answers, archived resources, and enrollment meetings to educate employees. Having a mix of different options allows all employees to access the information they need.

Talk About Benefits Outside of Open Enrollment

Benefits conversations tend to take place around open enrollment, but they shouldn’t be limited to this period. Schedule time to discuss benefits throughout the year and around major life changes, such as starting a family. Any big changes in an employee’s life can lead to changes in their benefits plan.

Educate Your Gen Z Employees

If you want to attract the right Gen Z talent, retain them, and keep them loyal to your company, benefits education is a great start to ensure they make sound decisions to protect themselves now and in the future. 

Author Bio

Frank Mengert continues to find success by spotting opportunities where others see nothing. As the founder and CEO of ebm, a leading provider of employee benefits solutions. Frank has built the business by bridging the gap between insurance and technology driven solutions for brokers, consultants, carriers, and employers nationwide.


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Compensation and Benefits: 7 Key Factors to Consider When Developing Employee Rewards Programs

The job market today is intensely competitive. Companies all over the world are competing to recruit and retain talented, hardworking individuals. Employees are the backbone to any business and therefore, it’s vitally important that any organization consistently bolsters employee motivation and job satisfaction to enhance overall productivity. 

Planning an effective employee rewards program is an essential strategy for nurturing a culture of recognition and appreciation in your company. If implemented strategically and methodologically, rewards programs contribute towards employee retention. This ensures that your company can maintain its momentum in working towards long-term goals. 

In this article, we will discuss seven factors you need to take into consideration when creating a program that will reward your employees.

Align Rewards with Objectives

It’s important for every company, no matter what the size or sector of operation, to adequately recognize hard work and loyalty. That said, recognition must align with company objectives in order to incentivize the achievement of overarching goals and priorities. If rewards have arbitrary metrics that don’t align with an employee’s contribution they become tokenistic and unproductive formalities. 

Matching rewards to shared goals is an excellent strategy for motivating employees to work towards meeting—and hopefully exceeding—targets. This moves the company one step closer to achieving larger goals. By utilizing the psychological power of rewards programs, you can align employees’ intrinsic motivation with company-wide priorities.

Create Meaningful Rewards

Ensuring that your company’s rewards program is actually meaningful to employees is one of the most important factors to consider when designing this initiative. If you don’t get this right, then your rewards program is likely to be ineffective. In fact, an ill-designed rewards program can actually demotivate employees, which may lead to long-term underperformance.

Naturally, every employee will have their own preferences when it comes to varying types of rewards. Some individuals prefer career-oriented incentives that afford them the opportunity to advance within the company. Others will prefer extrinsic rewards such as gifts, perks, or an increased salary. 

In order to determine which rewards employees value most, it’s important to conduct a thorough needs analysis. At the end of the day, rewards programs should bolster productivity. But they also exist as a channel for employee recognition. In order to show the people in your company that you do genuinely value their efforts, it’s important to ensure that your rewards are meaningful.  

Make Rewards Accessible to All

One of the most common shortcomings of rewards programs is that they only target individuals already operating near the top of the ladder. Your rewards program should offer equal opportunities for participation; regardless of title or pay grade. In fact, well-developed rewards programs should encourage a leveling-out of the playing field. 

This ensures that all employees are continuously incentivized to work hard. Additionally,  it eliminates the passivity that can sometimes take hold once an employee has achieved their personal goals and desired status within a company. 

While rewards should be accessible to all, unique rewards will be attached to distinct achievements for different departments and ‘levels’ within the company. Designing rewards for varying segments may be time consuming. However, it’s a crucial consideration in the development of any effective rewards program. 

Ensure Rewards are Visible

Many companies will design a comprehensive rewards program and fail to adequately market it to their employees. Ensuring that your rewards program is visible is a crucial component of company-wide motivation.  

Furthermore, while you should clearly display the structure of the rewards program, your company should also celebrate those actually achieving the promised rewards. This ensures that rewards feel realistic and tangible for all. 

There are several ways that you can make rewards more visible. You may opt to publicize reward-related news in a company-wide email or through the distribution of celebratory posters. Some companies choose to utilize their digital platforms or meetings to announce rewards. Whichever way you choose to go about it, make your rewards public to maintain company-wide motivation. 

Ongoing Reviews

Internal review processes ensure that rewards are granted when appropriate. If your review process is disorganized, then reward opportunities will likely go unnoticed. Furthermore, if reviews are infrequent, then it’s challenging to grant rewards timeously. 

When rewards get delayed, or worse, wholly unrecognized, the attractiveness of the program gets undermined. Unfortunately, this creates a sense of diminished achievement. This means that the program becomes less effective at encouraging motivation and productivity.

Take the time to strategically schedule frequent employee appraisals. This ensures that employees remain consistently motivated to work towards their targets. Ultimately, this contributes to a collective company momentum.  

Consider a Total Rewards Approach

As mentioned in point two, every employee has their own set of unique preferences when it comes to rewards. While the scale of achievement will inform the type of reward, it’s worth considering a more holistic and hybridized model. The total rewards strategy encompasses a range of rewards including career advancement opportunities, material benefits, and work-life balance initiatives. 

This approach prioritizes an employee’s sense of fulfillment. It aims to enhance a sense of purpose for every employee—regardless of their position within a company. Instead of awarding different types of rewards for different achievements, the total rewards approach essentially offers a diverse set of rewards as if they were one reward. 

As this approach is more resource intensive and requires a greater degree of internal capacity, it’s designed for companies comfortable having a rewards program that targets goals that are more long-term than most. 

Ensure Rewards are Measurable

At the end of the day, your company needs to be able to justify their rewards program and the way that it shows appreciation for employees. You need to validate the financial cost thereof in yearly expenditure reports while ensuring company-wide managerial buy-in to secure the longevity of the initiative.

You can conduct a comprehensive productivity analysis, or you may choose to adopt a more qualitative evaluation approach. This can be done by conducting employee interviews and surveys to understand the impact of the rewards program. 


When implemented correctly, rewards programs truly are an excellent mechanism for ensuring employee fulfillment and bolstering motivation and productivity. Companies that implement these types of programs enjoy better retention rates, greater productivity, and increased morale. In turn, this creates an excellent company culture and drives bottom lines upward. 

Developing an employee rewards program benefits everyone and any business that’s striving for longevity should implement one. 

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Advanced Warehouse Automation: Don’t Forget to Train and Upskill Your Employees

The distribution centers (DCs) at the heart of today’s global retailers reflect the velocity of business, from the instantaneous purchasing made possible by e-commerce to the fulfillment operations that enable same-day deliveries. What makes this high-speed commerce possible is an increasingly wide array of high-performance automated warehouse systems and robotics.

Within DCs, sophisticated systems integrated with advanced software move materials faster, more effectively, and more accurately than ever before. Roaming shuttles deliver items directly to goods-to-person workstations, often supported by an automated army of fork trucks, palletizing robots, and robotic pickers.

Of course advanced automated systems and robots don’t operate in a vacuum. It is easy to forget the human side of these systems and the role it plays in their success. Like all technologies and tools, even the most advanced automated systems and robots must be backed up by people who are skilled in their use and best practices required to realize their full potential, maintenance and upkeep. 

Any system implementation is incomplete if it does not also include strategies to train and upskill employees. To do so, consider the following:

  • Focus on the opportunities that come with automation and robotics. For those in roles that are being augmented with automation, the opportunity to learn about the care and use of such systems represents a significant career advancement to acquire highly marketable skills. Additionally, this limits the manual, highly-repetitive tasks that make warehouse roles some of the most injury-prone according to recent estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Leadership should stress these and other positive impacts.
  • Experience in manual warehouse roles is often very valuable in the operation of automated systems and robots. I recently worked with a client’s pickers during the initial planning sessions for a new, highly automated high-capacity DC. As in other deployments, many of the most experienced and longstanding employees in manual roles possessed the most comprehensive understanding of the business processes that would need to be considered. Their knowledge of workflows was particularly valuable. These individuals are therefore some of the first that should be considered, not only for new roles focused on the operation and upkeep of automation, but also the upskilling required.
  • Look for employees who possess the talents and desire to work with automated systems like robots, AS/RS, autonomous vehicles, etc. Candidates should be driven employees, but those who are mechanically inclined are not the only ones to consider. Gamers, for example, are typically very strategic and adept at seeing patterns – an inclination directly applicable to fast-based warehouse environments. Remember that desire and attitude are key: the skills required to use, perfect and maintain automated systems can be learned and honed. Ideal candidates should also be self-starters who can take advantage of the autonomy automation gives to end users.
  • If possible, involve your top-pick employees and members of your automation team during the construction phase of automated and robotic systems. This is particularly important when new DCs are built or facilities are modernized. A large DC for a multi-channel retailer can include innumerable components. You want your workforce to be immediately familiar with the system when you turn it on – not a year after its operational. Early in your automation project is also the perfect time for your employees to learn from those who implement the systems and robotics and creates an opportunity to upskill in-house staff that should not be missed.
  • Create opportunities to invest in your employees. Access to a formal “Higher Education” course of study is inaccessible for many, and at times over-emphasized in the corporate world. There is, however, an alternative. Many colleges and universities now offer established training programs and certifications in robotics and engineering-related topics that can be used to strengthen in-house automation teams. Often such programs can be designed to directly address your operational imperatives.

Behind every great automated warehouse are knowledgeable and skilled people. Today, when the pace and scale of business requires more automation and innovation than ever before, it has never been more important to focus on the human resources needed to operate it, maintain it and perfect it over time. Keeping that in mind is the first step in realizing the full potential of the most promising innovations now revolutionizing materials handling.

Author’s Bio

Colin Thompson has more than two decades of experience in materials handling. He currently serves as the Vice President of Operations at Vanderlande, North America, where he oversees day-to-day operations. Colin received his Bachelor of Science in Computer Sciences from the University of Liverpool and also serves on the Robotics and Mechatronics Engineering Industrial Advisory Board at Kennesaw State University.



Is Your Future Leader Working In Your Company Now? How To Grow A CEO.

As companies face new challenges in a rapidly changing world, leadership has never been more important. Business owners and boards are looking for strong CEOs, but what’s the best way to find them?

One study shows that CEOs hired from outside a company don’t perform as well, on average, as those who are internally promoted to the top spot. A benefit of grooming a CEO in-house are that person’s familiarity and alignment with the company’s culture and growth processes, but today’s demands and disruptions require special leadership qualities that need to be honed and observed at every step up the corporate ladder, says Benjamin Breier (, ForbesBooks author of Intentional Disruption: Leadership lessons in Healthcare, Business, and Beyond.

“Company owners and boards of directors can be ahead of the game if they grow and produce C-suite leaders, especially CEOs, from within,” says Breier, formerly CEO of Kindred Healthcare LLC. “Targeting that potential early on, providing the necessary experiences and promoting professional development leads to a CEO who can transition smoothly to what will be the company’s most challenging role.

“Soft skills such as emotional intelligence, authenticity, communication, and empathy are paramount in today’s CEO. They have to figure out how to grow the business, how to be strategic, and how to mix the business with the mission.”

Breier offers the following tips to business owners about grooming a CEO from within the company:

Challenge them in different roles. Breier says one way to identify and build high-potential leaders who can become CEOs is to challenge them with tough assignments in different jobs and give them minimal support. Those who produce consistent results will gain confidence and valuable experience.

“Any young person with leadership aspirations has to be willing to perform any job that they as a leader might ask somebody to do,” Breier says. “No job should be beneath you. See what you can learn, how different jobs work, how to problem-solve, and what people in that space are going through.” The result, Breier says, is that when one who has traveled that path becomes CEO, “they can talk to anyone at any level and have credibility as a leader. They can relate to all employees and make a connection.”

Give rising leaders broad authority. “The buck stops with the CEO, so on the way up to that role, it’s important for the company to provide top managers who are CEO candidates with wide decision-making authority,” Breier says. “Create opportunities where your leaders oversee budgets, strategy and people. You want to breed leaders who are decisive. Encourage them to think like CEOs, with a strong focus on metrics and value creation.”

Look for resilience. Climbing the corporate ladder virtually guarantees some falls along the way, Breier says, and owners or board members looking for strong leadership need to find people with resilience – a proven ability to bounce back quickly from setbacks. “When you’re the CEO and times are tough, everybody in the company is looking to see what your body language is going to be, and what your attitude is,” Breier says. “Part of your job as CEO is to be optimistic, courageous, and forward-looking when the big rock needs to be pushed up a high hill.”

See if they can disrupt in a direction-changing way. Breier says today’s ever-changing world demands CEOs who cannot only handle disruption but prompt it in a way to move their company forward. He calls this intentional disruption, which he defines as “a bold, purposeful, personal and business strategy to create opportunities and kindle successes while counteracting the inevitable disruptions wrought by external forces in volatile times.”

The most successful leaders, Breier says, are proactive rather than reactive and make the best positive disruptors. “Intentional disruption means going on offense and letting the problem weigh your company down. Top leaders must develop skills and tools to counteract forces that are capable of destroying their companies and their future leadership opportunities.”

“The long journey to becoming a CEO does not come from a straight line of victories,” Breier says. “It comes from an accumulation of experiences, good and bad, that expand the knowledge, sharpen the focus and strengthen the conviction of a well-developed leader who’s earned everyone’s trust.”


Benjamin Breier ( is the ForbesBooks author of Intentional Disruption: Leadership lessons in Healthcare, Business, and Beyond, and the former CEO of Kindred Healthcare LLC. He serves on the board for the Federation of American Hospitals, is a member of the Wall Street Journal CEO Council, and a founding member and chairman of the board of the Louisville Healthcare CEO Council. He oversaw multiple acquisitions that turned Kindred into the largest provider of post-acute healthcare services in the country. Modern Healthcare magazine named Breier one of the 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare on three occasions and, in 2010, rec­ognized him as one of the young leaders aged 40 and under making a difference in healthcare. A graduate of the Wharton School of Business, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics, Breier received an MBA and MHA from the University of Miami.


Tomorrow’s workforce needs collaborative learning

Jeremy Tillman had a vision. “I wanted to create a marketplace that made it easy for people to find the corporate training they needed and to develop technology to allow companies to better manage the learning processes of their employees.” And so, in 2004, after an epiphany while working on another firm’s project, he started

Eighteen years later more than 60,000 companies, including 92 percent of the Fortune 500, have purchased one or more training courses from And Tillman, who grew up in public housing, has from the company’s inception traveled all over the world with training and with technology he says, “helps bring people together.”

His story is a fascinating one. Tillman started an e-commerce company while a computer sciences student at the University of Alabama – Huntsville. He managed the university’s five computer labs and built a training management system to aid in its corporate education programs. There, Tillman got his first taste of working with firms like Boeing, Teledyne, and Raytheon.

Tillman stated that truly took off by 2006 and has continued its growth and vision. The secret to his firm’s future, he lets on, lies with helping people to learn collaboratively. Traditional corporate training had been focused primarily on conveying job-related information, but adult learning theory teaches that information alone is insufficient to produce real change.

The collaborative approach flips the old narrative of, “what can I gain” to “what can I contribute to the larger whole.”

“We learn things faster when we gain the insights from others and brainstorm to find solutions to on-the-job problems. The end-result is often a richer learning experience that has ongoing impacts for individuals and companies alike,” Tillman noted.

That’s the view of training, one that multitudes have undertaken. is also on the cutting edge of creating custom learning, performance, and talent management solutions for building, tracking, managing, and assessing enterprise-wide initiatives for multiple large, recognizable corporations.

And in 2022, as companies across myriad sectors face the challenges posed by the new paradigm of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), Tillman believes his training methods are a perfect fit.

The collaborative approach which has developed over nearly two decades is particularly geared toward Inclusion. Diversity and Equity are largely hiring decisions, while Inclusion requires a change of culture from the bottom up.

“Building inclusive workplace cultures has to include everyone on the job. The key to successful inclusion training is connecting people together rather than presenting training as divisive – and allowing employees to recognize contributions from those they may have previously discounted. These principles apply across the board, from global corporations to small businesses, and even church organizations. Good training is founded in connectivity, and that requires inclusivity,” he tells me.

Tillman cited a recent four-nation, 1,000-person pilot training session for a multinational corporation. In the pilot, 250 people each from China, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States were encouraged to leverage the platform for training. Prior to the event, over 600 of the participants were engaging together and interacting to address serious discussion questions, actions that surely enhanced the collective learning experience and that of the most active participants.

Plus, says Tillman, obtained lots of data on how the people engaged both before, during, and after the event. The platform enables participants in such group trainings to continue their conversations and share their successes and failures. The outcome has been impacts in areas far beyond the scope of the specific training. Once again, the key is creating community out of diverse parts, not just talking diversity.’s latest initiative to addressing contemporary adult corporate learning is its Institutes project, due to launch in April 2022. Therein are four planned courses – leadership skills, inclusive leadership skills, essential skills for first-time managers and supervisors, and customer service skills. The company asserts that unlike most online courses, participants do not have to schedule their lives around expensive live webinars and overpriced course libraries. Instead, these institutes are both on-demand and rooted in community.

In the Leadership Institute, the mantra is “you manage things; you lead people.” The program teaches the difference between people management and visionary leadership – which includes learning and putting into practice essential leadership skills including communication, strategic thinking, and empathy. The institute seeks to provide tools for beginning a lifelong journey.

The Inclusive Leadership Institute prepares students for creating and inspiring diverse workplaces. Students learn the basic building blocks like Cognizance of Bias, Collaborative Training, and Cultural Intelligence. Inclusive leaders must be able to tackle the challenges of diversity, equity, and inclusion with a confidence founded in practical implementation. has learned that jumping from individual contributor to manager is a difficult challenge requiring many skills that all too often are not in the toolboxes of first-time managers. To empower first-timers to achieve the goal of maximum team performance, the curriculum includes such skills as goal setting, time management, giving and receiving feedback, and employee recognition.

The Customer Service Institute teaches participants skills for retaining customers, in recognition that it is much cheaper to keep old customers than to acquire new ones. This institute focuses on elite ‘soft skills’, such as emotional intelligence and communication, and ‘hard skills’ such as time management and support metrics.

Tillman recounts one client company’s focus on customer service as a strategy for retaining top talent. Disaffected salespeople were reassigned to customer satisfaction roles. They had to refocus from short-term sales to helping customers feel value and satisfaction. The result was that the sales force found a new level of pride of accomplishment in satisfying customers that made them better salespeople.

Tillman, who knows something about the power of inclusion and overcoming adversity, says he dedicated his career to empowering growth and shaping the future of learning. His reason? “It is what takes someone from where they are today and get them to where they want to be tomorrow.”


And that, he adds, is best done by encouraging everyone in the workplace to maximize their potential and actual contributions to the work at hand – and to their individual futures.


Duggan Flanakin is a journalist and policy analyst who writes from San Marcos, Texas.


Cities With the Most Technology Jobs Per Capita

California’s Silicon Valley has long served as the nation’s technology hub. But while Silicon Valley remains a global leader for tech firms and jobs, technology’s transformative impact on the economy and society is driving job growth across the United States. Led by employers—and even entire industries—that did not exist a generation ago, many of the fastest-growing industries in the U.S. are in the fields of science, technology, and mathematics. The long-running trend of growth in these fields shows few signs of slowing down.

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth in computer and math occupations has outpaced the national average since 2008. The gap has only grown larger over the last decade, and the trend is likely to continue. According to the BLS, employment in computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow by 11 percent over the next decade, adding more than 500,000 jobs to the economy. And unlike many jobs that have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, computer and IT occupations are largely remote-friendly, which positions them well for continued growth.

Some states have seen the benefit of this job growth more than others. Driven by a high number of firms specializing in defense, information technology, and other professional services for the federal government, Virginia leads the nation with 5.6 percent of its workers employed in computer and math occupations. Washington—home to a strong aerospace engineering sector and tech giants Microsoft and Amazon—is second, with Maryland, Colorado, and Massachusetts following behind.

However, statewide trends do not tell the whole story of tech employment either, as employers in high-tech fields tend to cluster in local regions where the labor market can supply the specialized knowledge required for those positions. This often means that metro areas with many well-established innovative companies, strong institutions of higher education, or both—like Silicon Valley—tend to be the areas that incubate many of the firms that drive job growth in tech.

To see which metro areas have the most tech jobs, researchers at Spanning used data from the BLS’s 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey to identify metros with the largest share of employment in computer and math occupations. The researchers also calculated the total number of jobs, wages, and wage premiums for computer and math occupations in each metro. To improve relevance, metros were also grouped into population cohorts of small (100,000–349,999 residents), midsize (350,000–999,999 residents), and large (1,000,000 or more residents).

Here are the large metropolitan areas with the most technology jobs per capita.

Metro Rank Share of employment in computer & math occupations Total employment in computer & math occupations Median annual wage for computer & math occupations Median annual wage for all occupations Computer & math wage premium



San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA    1      12.7% 144,530 $130,100 $61,980 +109.9%
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV    2      7.6% 242,090 $106,220 $56,320 +88.6%
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA    3      7.3% 147,800 $123,340 $53,360 +131.1%
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA    4      6.6% 163,630 $120,550 $57,040 +111.3%
Raleigh, NC    5      6.2% 40,580 $91,290 $41,640 +119.2%
Austin-Round Rock, TX    6      6.2% 66,800 $85,640 $41,560 +106.1%
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO    7      5.4% 81,090 $96,520 $47,440 +103.5%
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD    8      5.0% 68,450 $99,500 $45,810 +117.2%
Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH    9      4.9% 136,850 $98,440 $53,300 +84.7%
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA    10      4.7% 128,030 $89,150 $40,000 +122.9%
Salt Lake City, UT    11      4.6% 33,550 $78,490 $40,120 +95.6%
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI    12      4.3% 85,590 $90,290 $47,010 +92.1%
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX    13      4.3% 158,490 $91,760 $40,430 +127.0%
Kansas City, MO-KS    14      4.3% 46,240 $78,760 $40,640 +93.8%
Columbus, OH    15      4.2% 44,590 $86,490 $40,380 +114.2%
United States    –      3.1% 4,552,880 $88,340 $39,810 +121.9%


For more information, a detailed methodology, and complete results, you can find the original report on Spanning’s website:


Global Leaders Require Transactional Leadership Style

Transactional leadership means just what it says. It is a quid per quo type of relationship between the follower and leader – a carrot on the stick approach. Two prominent scholars by the names of Antonio Marturano and Jonathan Gosling in the University of Rome and the University of Exeter believe that the effectiveness of this leadership style is dependent on two conditions: one being that the current differences in organizational hierarchies and structures are totally accepted by subordinates and the second being that all the employees are able to work towards a mutual exchange of benefits in which they are rewarded for achieving determined goals.

It is somewhat reactive, however, because a benefit can be held back or taken away if the follower did not achieve the determined goals. Scholars look at it as a passing fancy, a myth, or a schematic diagram that has not been tried and true. Unfortunately for scholars, this is not true. Millions of managers were trained in transactional leadership and it has advanced into an organization’s success-both from a performance and management level.

There is a plethora of leadership theories and models that attempt to consider leadership as an enabler of firm performance. There’s an increased emphasis on the important role of leaders when interacting with followers and stakeholders. Transactional leadership involves determining the tasks, rewarding goal achievement, and punishing failure in attaining goals. Transactional leadership style is a new performance paradigm evident in organizations today. Understanding this dimension from a transactional leadership and performance paradigm may provide a significant realization bridging this important field of leadership and management.

Some scholars such as James MacGregor Burns, Edwin Hollander, and Arthur Jue illustrate that transactional leadership is successful in developing mutual exchange between leaders and employees in organizations. This leadership form actually assumes impersonal interactions in a reality where leaders do not consider higher humanistic desires or relationships between leaders and followers. This form of leadership is still based on the grounded theory that does not explore a desired probable situation. While it has its limitations, it is still widely used in organizations. This leadership style is very popular among practicing managers today. Transactional leadership is linked with organizational effectiveness, particularly in terms of achieving goals. The key is for managers to use it sparingly, on occasion, when new details and tasks are assigned but not as the main type of leadership.

Another aspect of the transactional leadership style is that managers using this style are passive by exception or laissez-faire when applying leadership. Laissez-faire is characterized by managing the situation where a problem has occurred, and leaders take a reactive approach to correct mistakes or to overcome problems. This was uncovered by Robert Blake and Jane Mouton in the management grid research and still has importance in clarifying the type of transactional leader in some instances. Transactional leadership style has been critiqued by scholars as a leadership approach that is not concerned with proactively identifying or preventing problems. Transactional leaders do advocate for knowledge sharing and joint problem solving with subordinates.

Laissez-faire leaders do not possess high commitment in seeking the proposed solutions jointly with their subordinates. When such leaders assume the responsibility or intervention to solve problems, they rarely consider the empowerment of their employees to assist in problem-solving and goal setting. To overcome this obstacle, a scholar at the University of Aalborg by the name of Josef Frischer suggests that leaders today should empower followers to engage in problem-solving.

Therefore, transactional leadership can be used to review the tasks, goals, and requirements of subordinates. Leaders would begin using transactional leadership to set goals and determine tasks and then, when time allows, move toward more transformational leadership and place more emphasis to engage followers. This supports the approach for leadership to generate two sides of an X and Y-axis. On one side is the concept of leadership that creates change through taking a process-oriented (transformational leadership) and the other as more of a relationship-oriented approach (transactional leadership).

Thus, transactional leadership does affect organizational performance by achieving business goals. And four scholars by the names of Timothy Obiwuru, Andy Okwu, Victoria Akpa, and Idowu Nwankwere affirm this relationship. They shed light on the critical role of transactional leaders in enhancing non-financial performances, particularly in terms of improving organizational commitment. Transformational leadership provides a frank appellation of the importance when beginning a leader-follower relationship, downsizing, upsizing, onboarding, and making significant changes to the structure and organizational improvements, but leaders must be aware of its limitations.

Just as leaders need to be both autocratic and democratic at times they also need to be both transactional and transformational at times also. Knowing both styles and when is best to use them is an important concern here and will defunct the myth of transactional leadership as being an adequate style of leading in and of itself.


Mostafa Sayyadi works with senior business leaders to effectively develop innovation in companies and helps companies—from start-ups to the Fortune 100—succeed by improving the effectiveness of their leaders. He is a business book author and a long-time contributor to business publications and his work has been featured in top-flight business publications.


How Younger Workers Can Mentor Older Ones And Move Companies Forward

Mentoring usually refers to a manager, executive, or experienced employee guiding a younger person in the workplace, helping them acquire knowledge and new skills that foster professional growth.

But with the expanding role of technology in today’s rapidly evolving business climate, a role reversal sometimes takes place – reverse mentorship. That is, older employees are paired with younger ones who teach them about technology – a strong suit for millennials and Gen Z workers, generations who grew up with technology.

Reverse mentoring can be a plus for businesses in bridging generation gaps and knowledge gaps, and also a lifeline for older workers who otherwise might get phased out, says Rod Robertson, Managing Partner of Briggs Capital (, international entrepreneur, and author of Winning at Entrepreneurship: Insider’s Tips on Buying, Building, and Selling Your Own Business.

“The older people better pay attention to these young people and find a mentor so they can teach them about technology,” Robertson says. “Recent studies have shown that the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly accelerated the shift to e-commerce and e-learning.

“The people who don’t climb aboard the tech train will be left behind in the post-pandemic shakeout. A lack of tech knowledge is an excuse for organizations to cut the more expensive, older people and bring in the younger talent. These young tech execs should latch onto a floundering management exec and lead them to the new world order before they become obsolete. In return, young people get access to years of wisdom, and companies can become more cohesive and efficient in the whole reverse mentorship process.”

Robertson offers these tips on how to implement reverse mentoring successfully:

Focus on a business need. What is the mentee learning the technology for? “Reverse mentorships are more successful when they focus on a broader business need,” Robertson says. “For example, a tech-savvy employee could mentor on how to use social media to generate more sales leads. The company doesn’t benefit unless the mentee learns how to develop and use new skills in concert with business strategy.”

Find partners who are a sensible fit. “An ideal mentor has knowledge or skills that you need and is willing to build a relationship with you,” Robertson says. “But can that person teach it in a way that’s fairly easy to understand? Do they listen or talk over you? You need substantive engagement and a lot of question-and-answer time without added tension.”

Be open-minded and respectful. Reverse mentoring empowers young leaders, but at the same time they can learn from and value the older group’s decades of experience. “Without mutual respect and openness it won’t work,” Robertson says. “The mentee has to be willing to go outside their comfort zone. And the mentor should respect that. Both should be tactful and patient.”

Set clear goals and expectations. “Discuss expectations upfront,” Robertson says. “Make sure you’re both committed to the process and goals are aligned. Neither of you should be too busy to meet at least once weekly. Otherwise a real teaching-learning relationship isn’t formed and too much falls through the cracks.”

Track progress. Robertson says organizations should formalize these reverse mentorship relationships and make them quantifiable. “A mentorship relationship falls short if progress isn’t tangibly measured in different stages,” Robertson says. “If progress isn’t where it needs to be, discuss new ways to achieve goals. Both the mentor and the mentee can determine where the gaps are and how to close them.

“Technology has blown the roof off the traditional corporate thinking of top-down learning,” Robertson says. “Reverse mentoring removes barriers in today’s multi-generational workforce, enhances careers, and in some cases of the oldest workers, it can extend them.”


Rod Robertson ( is an international entrepreneur and author of Winning at Entrepreneurship: Insider’s Tips on Buying, Building, and Selling Your Own Business. Robertson is the owner of Briggs Capital, a boutique international investment bank. He has conducted business in over 15 countries while focusing on developing small-to-medium-sized businesses and taking them to market worldwide. Robertson’s 20-plus-year career in transaction experience and entrepreneurship includes guest lecturing around the globe at institutions such as Harvard Business School and other top-flight MBA schools as well as business forums and news outlets worldwide. He sits on numerous boards, guiding firms to streamline operations and make businesses more profitable before selling.


Corporate Culture, Knowledge Management and Talent Management: How Are They Linked?

This article portrays a more detailed picture of the effects of corporate culture on knowledge management and talent management that have been mentioned but not placed in a model in the past.

How Corporate Culture Elevates Knowledge Management?

Culture is the resource that builds upon the foundation that helps organizations prosper. Edgar Schein, one of the prominent management scholars, describes corporate culture as a “pattern of shared basic assumptions that the group learned as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems.

Corporate culture is, therefore, reflected in shared assumptions, symbols, beliefs, values, and norms that specify how employees understand problems and appropriately react to them.

Executives can manifest themselves as change agents who manipulate corporate culture with the aim of improving knowledge management. Organizational culture includes three dimensions of collaboration, trust, and learning. Executives can facilitate collaboration by developing relationships in organizations. Executives can contribute to the cultural aspect of trust, by considering both employee’s individual interests and the company’s essential needs. Also, executives identify the individual needs of their employees and develop a learning culture by intellectually stimulating them to generate new knowledge and share it with others. Executives can, therefore, highly manipulate a firm’s culture to conform to the needs and expectations of strategic goals and objectives.

Knowledge management is enhanced by providing further opportunities and information sharing. Executives can enhance knowledge sharing by providing access to knowledge, and stimulate new ideas and knowledge generation, transfer an individual’s knowledge to other members and departments and improve knowledge capturing, storing, and accumulating, aiming at achieving organizational goals. Executives can propel knowledge sharing in the company to generate more innovative ideas and solutions for new and demanding issues that come up constantly in our hypercompetitive economic environment. By doing this, executives can build a strong corporate culture to share experiences gained by imitating, observing, and practicing.

Executives have found that corporate culture impacts knowledge management through facilitating knowledge sharing throughout all levels of the organization. Corporate culture focuses on defining and recognizing core knowledge areas, sharing organizational knowledge, and scanning for new knowledge to keep the quality of their product or services continuously improving. Therefore, corporate culture is an essential requirement of corporate learning by which knowledge is shared among people.

Particularly, the three cultural aspects of collaboration, trust, and learning play a critical role in enhancing the effectiveness of corporate learning. For example, collaboration provides a shared understanding of the current issues and problems among employees, which helps to generate new ideas within organizations. Trust towards their leader’s decisions is a necessary precursor to creating new knowledge. The key is for executives to inculcate a culture of trust and transparency of knowledge sharing within organizations so that information can be found and used instantaneously.

Moreover, the amount of time spent learning is positively related to the amount of knowledge gained, shared, and implemented. Therefore, executives can reshape, and in some cases, manipulate corporate culture to facilitate corporate learning within departmental and business units of organizations. Executives can now see how corporate culture constitutes the foundation of a supportive workplace to share and synthesize organizational knowledge and subsequently limit the gaps between success and possible failure.

How Knowledge Management Elevates Talent Management

Executives have found that knowledge management is modifying behaviors resulting in newer insight and knowledge. Changing the existing behaviors of followers generating new knowledge is a key factor in improving a firm’s competitive advantage. This is a fact but it happens through the way talented employees are managed by executives. Why is this, you may ask? Because knowledge management is a process that leads to acquiring new insights and knowledge, and potentially to correct sub-optimal or ineffective actions and behaviors that cause companies to spiral out of control.

Executives need to first support this approach for knowledge management. Talent management in organizations is the ultimate outcome of the knowledge management by which it is created and acquired by connecting with others that want to share successes and failures. This leads to converting acquired knowledge into organizational processes and activities to improve or discontinue processes that either contribute or inhibit success. Many executives see talent management as an outcome of various factors such as knowledge management and a climate inspiring innovation and creativity within organizations. However, a more comprehensive approach needs to be introduced to put together the various aspects of potential contributions to talent management.

Knowledge management requires various processes such as knowledge acquisition, collaboration, dissemination, sharing, generation, and storage to acquire knowledge within an organization. A question remains: how can we establish the relationship between knowledge management and talent management?

Well, there are scholars that highlight the strategic role of knowledge management in enhancing the effectiveness of talent management. For example, one scholar by the name of Bayyavarapu at the University of Western Ontario suggests a learning-based approach to talent management to understand how knowledge management is related to various practices of talent management. More importantly, the effective implementation of talent management requires the sharing of best practices and experiences among employees. Knowledge management improves organizational processes by sharing knowledge that can increase both follower engagement and personal development.

Executives can, in fact, enhance knowledge management when they would like to concentrate on sharing it to empower followers in order to build a learning climate. Most importantly, knowledge is managed through “learning by doing” which is more engaging. Executives around the globe realize that they play a critical role to achieve the best learning climate and for improving knowledge management that creates learning and growing the organization. Engaging followers and getting them to participate in knowledge management activities is an important part of talent management. Thus, knowledge management positively impacts the effectiveness of talent management through facilitating knowledge sharing by all executives and employees of the organization. Shared knowledge can contribute to the development of a learning organization in which people continuously grow and develop both personally and professionally. Executives require people who are engaged and inspired to meet the demands of day-to-day operations.

For now, executives can develop conducive learning climates that foster collaboration and knowledge management in which knowledge is shared and exploited. Unshared knowledge is like lettuce in the refrigerator—if eaten and shared, everyone enjoys it, if not, it could go bad and not have any use. Executives found that shared knowledge enables companies to improve knowledge management, and that talent management is highly dependent on stimulating continuous learning within organizations. Executives play a crucial role in elevating talent management by enhancing knowledge management to empower employees to pursue organizational goals.

The following figure provides a snapshot of how executives steering corporate culture enhance knowledge management and talent management.

In Conclusion

Insufficient consideration of the impact of knowledge management on the organization’s talent management has been also exposed. Thus, I suggest that scholars take our ideas and continue to conduct research using executives as the focal point so that academic scholarship can meet the needs of managerial implications at the higher echelons of organizations worldwide.


Mostafa Sayyadi works with senior business leaders to effectively develop innovation in companies and helps companies—from start-ups to the Fortune 100—succeed by improving the effectiveness of their leaders. He is a business book author and a long-time contributor to business publications and his work has been featured in top-flight business publications.