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Communication Key to a Better Work Environment Everyone knows the story of A Christmas Carole. On Christmas Eve, poor Bob Cratchit, who is working late again, spends his day working up the courage to ask his boss, Mr. Scrooge, if he can have Christmas Day off from work to spend with his family. When he finally does get up the nerve to ask, Mr. Scrooge lets forth a tirade over lazy people using Christmas as an excuse to have a day a off from work. This fictional story unfortunately rings true for a lot of people who have to work up the courage to ask for things from their employers. An employee who has to feel about their employer the way Bob Cratchit felt about Mr. Scrooge is not a very happy and productive employee. To get the most of out of your workers, you have to create a much more hospitable working environment. To create a better working environment, keeping the lines of communication open is absolutely crucial. How does communication work in your office? Do you get the impression that everyone is walking around on eggshells around you? While this kind of fear from your employees may be good for your ego in some senses, it is really bad for your business. When your employees don?t feel like they can talk to you, you will lose control over what is going on with your business. You may be the boss, but your employees are the ones who are actually on the front lines. To know what is really going on out there, you need your employees to communicate honestly with you. If they feel that you are unapproachable, they will hide problems and concerns from you, and you won?t be able to act to fix them. You can?t expect to run your business with half of the information about what is actually going on, and so your business will suffer for your ?mean boss? routine. There are still other problems with creating an office environment in which your employees feel like you are unapproachable. In general, there will be a dark cloud over the office when you are around. The stress will keep employee morale low, and employees with low morale are employees with low productivity. Besides, who wants to work hard for someone they cannot approach or who doesn?t show they any respect? Shutting down those lines of communication will definitely affect your bottom line as employees ?phone it in? because they don?t feel invested in making your business a success. If you want a better working environment, you have to improve the lines of communication. If there has been a communication breakdown in the past, take the time to address it with your staff. If you staff is small, talk to them each one on one, letting them know that your door is always open and that you want more regular communication with them. If you have a larger staff, schedule a meeting to address the issue. Weekly office meetings are a great way to keep communication channels open and swap ideas in the office environment. If weekly meetings are not feasible, find some way of touching base with your staff on a regular basis, either through weekly emails or a weekly newsletter. Also, you should encourage your staff to communicate with each other. Sharing information among the staff is a great way to generate fresh ideas and fresh approaches to problems. If your office is suffering from a communication problem, make nipping it in the bud a priority. The pay off will be more productive workers and a whole lot less stress. Who knew work could actually be a pleasant place to be?

Yes, Freebies are Real! If you tell someone that something is free, they immediately start looking for the catch. After all, the words of wisdom ?there is no such thing as a free lunch? have usually been proven true for people time and again throughout life, and so a healthy cynicism towards free stuff usually springs up with good reason. If you are one of these skeptical types, however, you may be missing out on some really great stuff. The truth is that you CAN get free things that are really and truly free, and yes, actually worth having. You just have to know where to look. OK, here is where the caveat comes in. The definition of ?free? often depends on the definition of ?cost.? As any economist can tell you, cost really doesn?t only come down to how much money you have to hand over to get something. There are additional costs, like inconvenience and time spent doing something. And true, some freebies have these ?non monetary? kinds of costs associated with them. You have to balance all of the costs with the value of the free stuff you are getting and decide if it is worth it to you. The two biggest costs associated with freebies? Time and convenience are at the top of the list. Time is a big factor in many free offers. Companies want a bit of your time in exchange for their free products. Indeed, some companies literally want hours of your time. Have you ever taken advantage of one of those ?free weekend vacation? offers in which you received free accommodation in a beach house or condo for a weekend in exchange for suffering through a long presentation and intense sales pitch? For some people, they can handle the presentation and have no qualms about refusing to buy anything and the free vacation more than makes up for it. Other people would rather pay any price to avoid having to listen to one of these spiels. So, while these weekends are freebies, for some people, they cost too much. More often, a company wants your time in a less obvious way ? they want you to spend time filling out forms. These forms may simply be your name, address and email address, or they may be very lengthy, quizzing you about buying habits and the like. The reason the companies want you to do these forms is often for market research, and they are more than happy to give you a freebie in exchange for this. Many people find the time spent filling out these forms will worth it to get a great free product. Convenience is the other cost involved with many freebies. Time and convenience go hand in hand in some cases ? after all, it may not be especially convenient to fill out form after form simply because it is time consuming, but convenience takes another hit from freebies in the form of spam email. Often, signing up for a freebie can land you on a spam email list, and for some people, getting tons of spam is so inconvenient that they would rather pay full price. The truth about all of these costs of freebies is that the freebie is in the eye of the beholder. You have to decide what you are willing to put up with in order to get a free product. Once you know the limits to your freebie costs, than you can cash in on some really great products that don?t cost you a dime. When you spend five minutes filling out a form and get rewarded with a free DVD player that you have been wanting, you will realize that there are free things out there to be had.

Some Info on Those ?Get Paid To? Sites Where You Can Get Free Stuff Anyone who has spent even five minutes online is aware that there are many websites that offer free stuff, and many people cash in on hundreds of dollars of free stuff every single month. But what about taking that one step further? What if you could not only get some free stuff, but also actually get paid to get free things? It sounds impossible but actually you can make a profit on getting free things online. The catch is that you have to devote a little bit of time and effort to finding these deals and completing them, but many people find that getting paid to get free things is well worth a little time investment. One of the top places to cash in for free stuff is so called ?get paid to? websites. These ?get paid to? websites usually act as clearinghouses for all kinds of internet offers that give users the chance to make some quick cash by completing some tasks. Most of the time, the tasks you have to complete on these ?get paid to? websites involve filling out some kind of survey or submitting your contact information to a company. When you visit one of these websites, you can often click through offer after offer and complete them in your own time, racking up the cash along the way. But sure, filling out surveys is a way to get paid for doing something very easy, but what about getting paid to get free stuff? These offers also appear on these websites. Most often, you will get a free meal at a local restaurant and then get paid for submitting a report about your experience there. This kind of ?mystery shopper? deal is also in place at many big chain stores, where you may be given a gift card for a small amount to go into the store, buy something and report back about your experience. Companies use these services to test their customer service in stores and figure out what they could be doing better. So, not only will you get a free meal or a free item at a store, you?ll get paid for telling the company if you were treated well by the staff ? not a bad gig if you can get it! The way to get one of the deals is to keep a close eye on the ?get paid to? websites. There are many of these websites out there, so the best way to figure out which ones are worth your time is to look for ones that have deals on offer from big name companies that you know. Most of the times, a major company will work with one website exclusively, so you getting in with the website that has the biggest number of big name companies mean you will have access to the most valuable ?get paid to? deals on offer. Is there a catch to all of this free stuff? Well, there can be, but you can mitigate the hassle to some extent. The biggest problem with free stuff online is that you have to hand over your email address to a company who is sure to both solicit you in the future and sell your email address to other companies who will also start soliciting you by email. Cut the hassle by setting up a separate email address just for these purposes, so that your primary email address does not struggle under the weight of the spam. Also, never give out your phone number ? you can use a phony one with a 555 exchange or set up an online number that you use only for freebies. Managed properly, you can really get paid to get free stuff with a minimum amount of hassle.