Employee Financial Literacy Will Help Companies Weather Challenging Times

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<strong>Tampa, Fla. &mdash; Feb. 28</strong><br />The best hedge U.S. companies can have against the looming economic downturn is making sure their employees completely understand business acumen and financial literacy &mdash; basically, how a company makes and spends money.<br /><br />Raymond D. Green and Catherine J. Rezak, co-founders of Paradigm Learning, a corporate training and communications company that specializes in business games, business simulations and Discovery Maps, said it&rsquo;s imperative for employees to be able to think like CEOs so they can make smarter on-the-job decisions and recognize how every action can affect the company&rsquo;s bottom line and their own professional futures.<br /><br />On the heels of recent news that the U.S. economy lost jobs for the first time in four years and surveys showing the economy overtaking the Iraq war as Americans&rsquo; top concern, &ldquo;Financial literacy and business acumen are more important than ever,&rdquo; said Green, Paradigm Learning&rsquo;s CEO. &ldquo;More and more, companies want employees to be more productive, but they often have big expectations without giving employees the tools they need to do it.<br /><br />&ldquo;Everyone is counting pennies on a personal level these days, and now they&rsquo;re supposed to do it at work, too, with the stakes just as high. Companies have an obligation to make sure employees have the necessary information and education.&rdquo;<br /><br />Financial literacy, a basic understanding of numbers on a corporate ledger, is at the heart of business acumen, which is an ability to interpret financial information and act upon it &mdash; a key characteristic of effective managers.<br /><br />&ldquo;Sometimes, employees think there&rsquo;s an inexhaustible amount of money for supplies, inventory, marketing and benefits if they see sales are rolling in,&rdquo; said Rezak, Paradigm Learning&rsquo;s chairman of the board. &ldquo;But it&rsquo;s harder for them to see the real costs of operating a business.&rdquo;<br /><br />Such education has strong potential for being boring, however, which is why, almost 15 years ago, Green and Rezak developed &ldquo;Zodiak: The Game of Business Finance and Strategy,&rdquo; a business simulation that puts participants in the driver&rsquo;s seat of a fictional company, forcing them to make key decisions over three time-compressed years. By the end of the day, participants have absorbed the main concepts of financial literacy and business acumen and can connect them to their real-life jobs.<br /><br />Zodiak has been played by more than 1 million people in 600 organizations worldwide and translated into six languages in 13 countries.<br /><br />&ldquo;Business games and simulations are a perfect way to introduce and reinforce concepts to the broadest possible audiences, far more effective than traditional methods such as lectures and memos,&rdquo; Rezak said. &ldquo;By being immersed into hands-on situations, participants can actively receive the information being presented.&rdquo;<br />

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