Innovative Methods of Boosting Your Bond With Your Employees

 According to a 2015 survey on employee satisfaction, 60 percent of workers polled said that the relationships they form with their employers positively affect their levels of productivity and focus in the workplace and nearly 45 percent said these relationships have positive impacts on their levels of stress. If a happy employee is a productive one, then clearly, a supportive manager is an integral force that drives employees’ happiness and productivity in the workplace. For managers, striking a balance between developing a healthy rapport with your employees and maintaining professional distance can be a challenge. If you're a leader ready to take on such a challenge, consider applying these ideas for bonding with employees, boosting morale and nurturing your company culture.

Offer Your Cell Phone Number

First off, a simple gesture of comradery that builds trust within a company is for the manager to give out his or her cell number to their crew. Doing so shows your employees that you consider yourself part of the team and trust them with this personal means of communication. It demonstrates transparency, breaks down the normal concepts of the workplace hierarchy and is an informal means of engaging and inspiring direct interaction among the workforce as a whole.

Start a Book Club

Whether you are in the business of technology, the business of pharmaceuticals, the restaurant industry or in waste management, there will be various theories and methods on the best practices for that business. One way to bond with your employees while simultaneously teaching them more about your industry is to start a book club. Choose a different book that covers an aspect of your business for everyone to read, then meet once a month to discuss. The casual nature of the book club will allow for employees to get to know each other as individuals and the open forum will allow employees to voice their opinions. It's an ideal opportunity for the entire team to absorb the same language and concepts of the business while strategically thinking and exchanging ideas.

Office Camping Trip

An overnight team building exercise is a great way for the staff to get outside of the office and their comfort zone, in addition to getting to know their boss as a person ... and a camper. Going on a camping trip also allows for an opportunity to change up the normal roles. Allocate responsibilities for the planning of the trip to generate excitement and promote ownership. Place someone in charge of coordinating team building games, and someone else in charge of organizing breakfast, lunch and dinner. Nominate one individual to acquire and transport the tents, fire pit and all other necessary supplies to host the event.

Craft a Microbrew

Eighty-six percent of surveyed professionals reported that recognition and reward increase employee happiness at work, so imposing an activity that can be both an opportunity to bond with your employees and an opportunity to reward them is a win-win. Creating and crafting a brew offers the team the opportunity to work together and produce something tangible. An activity such as this works best by grouping together teammates who do not normally work together. Microbrewing requires innovation and fresh ideas, so creating new teams means new ideas. And when the exercise is complete, the teams have produced their own reward. When your employees appreciate the reward, the relationship between employee and employer will improve.

A positive work environment is created by the people working there, both employees and employers. Create the best work culture possible by using innovative methods to connect with your team. 

Credit Restrictions Conjures Up Alternative Financing*

 Credit crunch solutions seem to be the wave of the future when it comes down to alternative financing, specifically for highly-leveraged companies in Corporate America today.

In fact, many small-to-mid-size businesses across the country, are facing credit-constraints, and sometimes must conjure up extra cash to keep the lights on in the front office until their next invoice rolls in before they see the hard currency show up in their bank accounts.

These firms frequently require alternative finance plans that work around traditional barriers to capital while backing up injections of funds with hard assets.

“Many small/mid-size business “C” level officers still do not understand secured lending. They really don’t understand the types of financing that are available which are not traditional from the banks,” said Richard W. Lewis, the CEO and President of Financial Engineering Counselors, Ltd. “Many bankers don’t /really understand factoring, purchase order financing, or foreign sales and collections.”

Financial Engineering Counselors, Ltd. is a firm based in Washington, D.C., that develops financing solutions for government contractors, commercial service-providers, constructions companies and occasionally medical firms. The firm leverages its relationships with bank and non-bank lenders to identify alternative financing options for clients, Lewis told The Suit Magazine, adding that many of the firms he worked with are those growing too fast, or with immediate needs to fulfill contracts or orders in the awkward time between closing, invoicing and payment.

Alternative financing tools have attracted more media attention lately. According to a 2014 Harvard Business Review article, alternative financing tools represented $10 billion worth of small business capital nationwide. That’s not much compared to the $700 billion total in small business bank credit assets, but it’s a number that ballooned during the ’08 financial crisis.

Secured lending, purchase order  and accounts receivable financing – when a bank, or other organization, buys an invoice and advances a portion of it upfront, but maintains control over the funds – are just some alternative financing tools Lewis calls upon to help his commercial and government clients.

Lewis brings 40 years of experience as a financial professional, CEO of public software development company, start-up leader, banker, and government services consultant to the table and combines this expertise into actionable plans for his clients.

“You have to keep your eyes on the road all of the time. There are always little things going on with the government,” he said, referring to frequent rule changes and the ever-evolving purchasing habits of government agencies.

Alternative financing agreements can bolster businesses during down economies, when traditional credit routes dry up, as well as opportunities during recovery and fast growth periods.

Richard W. Lewis, President
Financial Engineering Counselors, Ltd.
Falls Church, VA 22043
703.992.8988 Direct
703.625.3782 Mobile
Linkedin Profile

*Does not include Peer-to-Peer (P2P) and Online Platform Based Business (OPB) Lending, about which Lewis has his personal views. 

Top Companies to Work For as a Project Manager

 Finding jobs in project management isn’t incredibly difficult, since a variety of industries have need for professionals with such a high level of expertise. Industries from healthcare to information technology to energy to construction will be on the lookout for project managers, with numerous positions available at any given time.

At this stage in your career, the challenge becomes finding the right company for which to work. Based on the overall strength as a business, employee satisfaction, average salaries, and work/life balance, these companies are some of the best to work with as a project manager.


Founded in the USA in 1898, Bechtel is one of the longest running construction companies in the country. It is also the 9th largest privately owned American company as of 2016, and works with other countries on all seven continents. With such an impressive history and large amount of clients, you can rest assured that this company won’t be going under anytime soon.

Starting salaries for project management related positions are upward of $60,000 a year, with the highest annual salaries at around $165,000. Job satisfaction is also very high, with major aggregate job reviewers reporting an overwhelmingly positive rating. Unfortunately, being such a large company makes advancement difficult without getting to know upper management very well, so it may not be easy to move upward in position without a solid tenure.


AECOM is a highly acclaimed international design firm that manages projects all over the world. It focuses mainly on design and engineering, and was named the #1 Top Design Firm in the Engineering News Record seven years running. Employee satisfaction is high, with many reviewers praising the salaries and work/life balance.

However, many employees also warn about frequent acquisitions that cause dramatic work climate changes, as well as employee turnover. Still, this company is very appealing for its salaries: project managers earn around $97,000 a year on average, with that same amount being the minimum for senior project managers. Advancement may be difficult, but the general consensus is that this is a fun, reasonable, and rewarding company for which to work.


CH2M HILL, an American company founded in 1946, is a global engineering firm that focuses on many industries. These industries include government work, water, transportation, and energy, among others. The wide variety of projects CH2M works on leads to a very interesting place to work, with many employees stating that they find their jobs challenging and rewarding. Work/life balance is also something many employees praise about this company, saying that their schedules are reasonable and management is supportive.
However, some complaints employees have had are that their job positions call for much more work out of them than initially advertised, and advancement can be difficult without getting to know upper management. Despite the extra work and difficulty with advancement, a position at CH2M HILL is still very desirable due to their average starting salary of $79,000 a year for project managers, and $100,000 a year for project engineers.


Jacobs Engineering Group is a massive engineering firm founded in Texas with over 200 branches all around the world. It focuses on aerospace engineering, petroleum, chemicals, industry, and building. From reviews left by former and current employees, the general consensus is that Jacobs has a relaxing work environment with many capable people and lots of room for advancement.

Unfortunately, some employees have stated that long-term job security can be fickle, and that benefits can be lacking. In addition, women may have issues with maternity leave: one woman was required to file for unemployment in order to receive maternity benefits. Starting salaries for project managers are a bit on the low side at around $57,000 a year, but with many advancement opportunities this salary will increase, with the average annual salary being around $112,000.


When looking for a career in project management, these four giant companies are terrific choices. They are well known internationally, making them excellent additions to any professional’s resume. In addition, there are many capable people working with these very successful companies, meaning they offer terrific learning experiences as well. Finally, their starting salaries are nothing to sneeze at, and within each of these companies it isn’t unreasonable to reach an annual salary of $100,000 within 10 years.

Amit Patel is from Crush the PMP Exam which is an online resource dedicated to helping professionals pass their PMP Exams on their first try. Amit provides reviews, study resources and tips. Check out the site at