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The Benefits of Effective Collaboration in the Workplace

Most business professionals would agree that collaboration in a business environment is acollaborating-business-man-and-woman-working-together highly important factor in most in successful accomplishments.  Collaboration takes teamwork to new level, and when done correctly, the combined intelligence of two or more knowledgeable people can solve multifaceted problems and facilitate staggering results.

Let’s explore some of the benefits that office collaborations have to offer:

Efficiency in Numbers

In a collaborative environment, businesses are able to complete projects more quickly and efficiently, especially when assignments can be allocated to several of the most competent employees available for the job.  Splitting further among a group of six, for example, can allow a project to be completed in a fraction of the time since each individual can be allocated the portion best suited to their talents and availability.

Cultivate Abilities

When ideas are brainstormed and suggestions are shared in a group setting, individuals learn how to think outside the box, or at least expand their own thought patterns by learning from others.  Collaborating with workers in different departments allows employees to gain a more insightful comprehension of how the business operates, which can greatly benefit each worker in their individual role.

Create and Problem-Solve

As mentioned, collaborating saves time and this is crucial when faced with solving problems.  Creativity and innovation are vital for problem-solving, therefore, the distinctive expertise of one employee combined with talents and perspective of another can allow for a resolution or strategy that would not have been otherwise attained.

Employee Engagement

Positive collaborative environments promote a team-friendly atmosphere, and grow bonds among employees and teams.  Workers who know their input is necessary and important will naturally feel more valued by their superiors as well as their team.   When these factors are properly in place, employee engagement increases, and turnover decreases.

collaborating-hand-assembling-virtual-puzzleNow that we have reviewed the benefits of collaboration, what are some tips for achieving a productive collaborative environment?

Solid Common Goal

A meaningful collaboration needs a delineated objective everyone can get behind.  Collaborators must be evenly benefiting or the reason for investing their time must be equally worthy to each team member.  A common goal of significance is important when organizing effective collaborations.

Creative and Results-Based Thinking

Approaching your counterparts with an uncluttered mindset is essential.  An open-minded outlook will allow for the most prolific brainstorming and the most successful outcomes.

Balanced Input

Collaborators are by definition equal participants, regardless of what is being contributed.  It’s best to leave job titles out of the equation when attempting to create an open atmosphere where ideas can be shared freely.

Collaboration is a fundamental aspect of building and sustaining a thriving and profitable organization.  Understanding the benefits of collaborating as well as how to create a productive collaborative environment are the keys to optimizing your time, productivity, and ultimate success.


By Fred Coon, CEO


Take your job search and LinkedIn profile to new levels and achieve your career goals with Leveraging LinkedIn for Job Search Success 2015 will transform how you use LinkedIn on a daily basis and create a profile that will WOW recruiters and hiring managers.



Advice for New Recruits: Should You Ever Say Yes to a Lower Salary?

Do you always need to get top dollar?

We are conditioned to the notion that it is imperative to always earn top dollar at our job.  However, while salary is undeniably important, there are several instances where money salary-pendulum-calculator-with_salary_in-number-screenisn’t necessarily the most important factor.  If you know your worth, understand the value of the benefit package, have negotiated to the best of your ability, and are prepared to walk away, then you have reached a level of latitude, and can afford to think about your decision.

Better Job Title

Administrative Assistant, Executive Assistant, and Assistant Manager are all great positions, yet some people would give anything to step out of the “assistant” realm.

Perhaps it doesn’t come with a large pay increase, but with that new title, you’re viewed with greater regard, you have more leverage when it comes to the next salary negotiation, and, if you work elsewhere, it looks great on your résumé.

Cost of Living

Where you choose to ply your trade can have a significant impact on how much you must spend in order to exist.  For example, living in Manhattan is one of the most expensive choices in the country.  You will probably need an approximate salary of $100,000 a year just to be able to afford to rent an apartment with enough income leftover for expenditures.  Food prices are higher; medical costs are higher; utilities are more costly—simply stated, it’s just an expensive place to live.

The Telecommuting Option

On the other hand, if you live in a rural area of Connecticut or Southern Alabama for example, and your job allows you to telecommute, you could technically make do with $20,000 per year; especially if your home is already paid for.  Try to think of your income in terms of value, rather than actual dollars.  When all of your fixed bills are paid, can you still afford a full shopping cart of groceries in the same capacity as someone else in your profession, but working in a different town?  You very well may be, especially when factoring in lack of commuting costs.

Weigh in Your Benefits

Are you are currently taking care of your own medical expenses, drugs, and dental work?  Maybe you don’t have a 401k, but your plan offers company shares or stock, or two salary-pendulum-man-carrying-coins-on-a-financial-graphmonths of annual paid vacation.

Whatever your benefit package is, it has value.  Even if your employer is not offering a great arrangement in the way of remuneration, those company shares or stock options have the potential to be very valuable.

Taxes Matter

If you file as “head of household” on your tax return, suppose you are also currently earning $45,000 per year.  Perhaps you get a sizable promotion, but a moderate raise, very firmly set at $50,400 and not one penny more.

Instead of being disappointed with the size of the pay increase, do some investigating, and you’ll find that the “head of household” can earn up to $50,400 and still remain in the 15 percent tax bracket (you get to keep $42,840).  At just $50,401 you would be in the 25 percent tax bracket (and you would only get to keep $37,800).  They would have to pay you an additional $5,500 just so you could keep as much as you were with your previous salary; in which case that raise of $5000 vanishes into the government’s pocket.  It works this way all the way up and down the scale of non-exempt salaries, so it’s important to do your math before you deem your raise an utter disappointment.

Older Workers and Salaries

While many are freshly out of college and are seeking employment on the well-earned merits of their degrees, some of us have already acquired invaluable experience and will continue to develop skills from years in the workforce.  Furthermore, some undeniably competent and super-qualified people spent a long time during the recession trying to find employment.

At that time, the older you were, the less likely you were to be hired.  Young workers averaged 26 weeks of looking whereas older workers averaged 35 weeks of looking for employment.  Fortunately, the recession is over and now the second legion of Baby Boomers is set to retire.  Unfortunately, the next group of replacements is not fully up to speed yet.

Far from being “too pricey”, employers are now realizing that they are about to lose some of their best talent and most valuable workers, and are now, although enigmatically, scrambling for available funds to offer older workers to remain onboard just slightly longer while the younger counterparts are fully trained and up to speed.  According to Forbes, a recent AARP survey indicated that out of 1,000 human resources directors, 69 percent expressed that their companies have forged plans to retain their older employees as consultants and part-time workers; and 46 percent revealed that their companies are looking to persuade the older members of their work staff to remain onboard on a full-time basis.

Simply stated, if you are not ready to retire, there is a strong possibility that your employer is not in a rush to let go of you either, even if it is in the capacity of a part-time worker or consultant.  In many cases, that salary might still outweigh prematurely living off of your retirement benefits, especially if you are not in the pension troupe.

When You Should (and Shouldn’t) Say No

Naturally, having a job is a great thing.  If you’re already employed and looking for something better, more power to you.  You can say no as often as you like until you find the job that suits you perfectly.

If you don’t have a job, your funds are dwindling, the bank may soon foreclose on your house, and your daughter or son needs braces, perhaps you have fewer options.  Sometimes any job is better than no job at all.

Nevertheless, while you are job-seeking, be sure to remain cognizant of the less-likely positions that may, in some way, advance your career or your value as an individual employee.  Perhaps you’ll learn a new computer skill; maybe you will learn to manage people; just don’t continue along a dead-end path by ruling out a moderately-compensating job which offers opportunity for growth and advancement, especially if that ideal salary and compensation package hasn’t shown up yet.

How Do You Negotiate?

While being open to opportunity beyond figures is important, this does not suggest you salary-advice-two-business-men-shaking-hands-in-agreementshould completely sell yourself short when negotiating a new salary.  Here are a few quick and applicable points you should keep in mind:

Know your worth

Before you accept a job, do some research and find out what other people are being paid for the same position.  Have facts and figures on hand.  If you work with a recruiter, get their opinion as well.  They’re quite conversant with how employees in your profession are being valued.

Start high

Let’s suppose your job typically pays $60,000-$80,000.  When asked, tell them that you want $80,000.  Of course you don’t want to appear greedy or overbearing, but picking the middle of the range means that’s the starting point from which they are going to negotiate downward.

If you’re applying for the job, you should believe that you are worth the top pay rate.  That should be a personal axiom; if you apply for it you’re worth it.


You have done great work in the past.  Yet, your boss or hiring manager will have no way of knowing your talents unless you tell them.  Recommendations and examples of previous commendable work will only increase your value in the eyes of an employer, while supporting everything you’ve stated thus far.

The Takeaway

There are lots of factors to contemplate when considering what salary you deserve and what you can live with.  How great is your need for immediate employment?  Can you afford to take your time and locate your ideal job?  Are the benefits sufficient enough in one aspect to offset the fact that they pay less in another area?  Is this job going to advance your career?

You can do this; just arrange and organize in advance, always stay calm, and don’t be afraid to stop and think before you speak.  Remember that preparation is key!

By Fred Coon, CEO


Take your job search and LinkedIn profile to new levels and achieve your career goals with Leveraging LinkedIn for Job Search Success 2015 will transform how you use LinkedIn on a daily basis and create a profile that will WOW recruiters and hiring managers.


The U.S. Employment Situation for August 2016

Since the analysis and comparison of recent statistical employment trends can assist us job-forcast-august-2016-blue-building-graphin forecasting what lays ahead for the country’s job seekers, employers, as well as the basic economy, here we will review employment conditions for August, 2016, as reported by Sterling National Bank.This article will contrast data gathered via Household Surveys against that of Establishment Surveys.

Initial Overview

The unemployment rate remained at 4.9 percent in August, while total payroll for nonfarm employment increased by 151,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Several service-providing industries saw a continued upward employment trend.

The following information is according to Household Survey Data.

Unchanged, was the number of unemployed individuals which remained at 7.8 million for August, as well as the 4.9 percent unemployment rate which has been consistent for the third consecutive month.

Adult men saw an unemployment rate of 4.5 percent, as did adult women; while teenagers were at 15.7 percent.  Among other major worker groups, Whites came in at 4.4 percent, Blacks at 8.1, and Asians saw a 4.2 percent unemployment rate.  Hispanics showed very little variation at 5.6 percent.

Individuals jobless for more than 27 weeks (long-term unemployed), who account for 26.1 percent of the total unemployment population, remained basically the same at 2.0 million for the month of August.

Also remaining unchanged was the population-employment ratio of 59.7 percent, and the labor force participation rate of 62.8 percent.

Individuals who would prefer full-time employment, but maintain part-time work due to economic reasons (involuntary part-time workers), saw little change at 6.1 million for the month of August.  Most involuntary part-time works have seen cut backs in hours or have been unable to find full-time employment.

Experiencing minor change since last year were workers marginally attached to the labor force, coming in at 1.7 million for August (data not seasonally adjusted).  These are individuals who sought employment within the past 12 months, and are ready, willing, and available to work.  However, they are not considered among the unemployed since they had not searched for a job within the four weeks prior to the survey.

August also saw 576,000 discouraged workers among the marginally attached, which had a slight fluctuation from earlier in 2016, although the data is not seasonally adjusted.  This group of unemployed has ceased looking for jobs because they believe there is no available employment.  The 1.1 million remaining marginally attached workers discontinued job searches due to family responsibilities or school attendance.

The following information is according to Establishment Survey Data.

Rising by 151,000 in August was the total rate of nonfarm payroll employment, compared with an average monthly increase of 204,000 during the past 12 months.  Also trending upward was employment in various industries of service.

Food services and drink establishments have seen an upward employment trend of 34,000 during the past month, and have also witnessed the addition of 312,000 jobs during this year.

Social assistance also experienced 22,000 new jobs during the month of August, with the greatest of expansion of 17,000 within family and individual services.

With a growth of 20,000, technical and professional services increased within approximate congruity to its monthly average gain of 24,000 during the 12 months prior.job-forcast-august-2016-women-at-work-on-laptop

Also continuing on an upward trend for the month of August, are jobs in financial activities with an increase of 15,000.  Commodity contracts, investments, and securities experienced an overall gain of 6,000, with the entire financial activity industry encountering the addition of 167,000 jobs.

Although at a slower interval than the average monthly growth of 39,000 over the 12 months prior, health care also trended up during August with the addition of 14,000 jobs.  Hospitals expanded their staffs by a total of 11,000, and ambulatory health care services added another 13,000 jobs in August.  However, this is following a decrease in residential care facilities and nursing, with 9,000 jobs lost during the month of July.

Continuing to trend downward was employment in mining with a decrease of 4,000 jobs.  Mining saw a peak in September 2014, however has since been on the decline, losing 223,000 jobs of mostly mining support activities.

Other industries, including, manufacturing, construction, wholesale and retail trade, warehousing and transportation, government, and temporary help services saw little change in employment during the month of August.

Individuals employed via private nonfarm payrolls witnessed a decrease in their hourly workweek of 0.1, leaving them with an average of 34.3 weekly hours for August.  Manufacturing employees saw their hourly workweek decline by 0.2, resulting in 40.6 hours per week, although overtime remained stable at 3.3 hours weekly.  Private non-farm employees in nonsupervisory and production positions also experienced a 0.1 decrease in hours, with an outcome of 33.6 weekly hours for the month of August.

Conversely, average hourly earnings for private nonfarm employees increased by 3 cents to $25.73.  Over the course of the year, average hourly earnings elevated by 2.4 percent.  During August, nonsupervisory and private-sector production employees experienced an increase of 4 cents, resulting in an average hourly wage of $21.64.

Nonfarm payroll employment for June experienced a downward revision of 21,000 leaving a total of 271,000 jobs, while July’s change was revised upward by 20,000, resulting in 275,000 jobs.  According to these revisions, the combined employment gains for June and July were 1,000 less than originally reported.  Overall employment has witnessed an average gain of 232,000 over the past 3 months.

The contrast and comparison of this data is essential in leading us to forming more reasonable estimations and accurate conclusions on the state of our country’s current employment economy.

By Fred Coon, CEO


Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200