How to Keep Your Best Tech Employees

In today’s business world, where main focus revolves around technology and its advancements, having employees with exceptional knowledge about information technologies is truly a valuable asset. Every company that manages to get their hands on such tech talent will have an advantage in the market.

However, these employees require a work environment and conditions that suit them the best, in order to remain engaged for the company they work for. That’s why you need to find the best way to make your top tech employees happy and ensure the means of their retention. Here are a few way to keep your best tech employees.

Challenge them

A lot of tasks need to be completed in order for a business to succeed, but if your best tech employees get stuck doing mundane tasks, they won’t be too happy about it. That’s’ why you need to challenge them and assign them to projects that will truly put their expertise to the test. Your best teach employees will appreciate the fact that you lean on their skills to solve complex issues.

Not only will they feel a sense of accomplishment once they finish the project, but they’ll also have means to put their minds to work and find solutions to the most difficult problems. In addition, these tasks will help your tech employees hone their skills and maybe even learn new ones along the way.

Reward them accordingly

If you want to keep your best tech employees, you need to be proactive and reward them for their hard work before they come to you seeking recognition. Even though money is a good motivator, it’s not always a top priority for some employees. Rewarding employees doesn’t always have to be about raising their paycheck. You can also choose more personal rewards that will showcase your appreciation.

Sometimes those rewards can be small tokens, such as T-shirts, such as custom pens, and coffee mugs which will remind your employees that you haven’t forgotten about them. On the other hand, you can also choose something more valuable, such as paid weekends for two at a resort or a spa, extended vacation days and other rewards for completing difficult projects or reaching an important business goal.

Praise their value

If you have tech employees with an exceptional talent, make sure you let them know how valuable they are to your company. That way, your tech employees will know that all the hard work they’ve been doing isn’t going unnoticed and that you recognize their contribution to the overall business success.

Also, praise your tech employees in front of other employees, so that others may become inspired to follow in their colleague’s footsteps. However, if some of your employees don’t like public praise, then try to find a more subtle approach to let them know just how important they are to your organization.

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Their work-life balance is important

Relying on your best tech employees for difficult tasks means you’re giving them a lot of responsibility. However, you can’t expect your employees to sacrifice their personal lives for the sake of work. Many good tech employees will be engaged towards their job responsibilities, but they also need time and space to have a normal everyday life. In order to let your tech employees develop a good work-life balance, allow them to have the flexibility they need.

For instance, let them choose working hours if it’s going to help them out, as long as they complete the tasks for the day. Also, let them work from home for a few days if they need it. Furthermore, when they take a day off, let them disengage from work completely. That means you shouldn’t disturb employees on their day off whenever an issue pops up.

Involve them in decision making

Your managers might know a lot about doing business and delegating tasks among employees, but your top tech employees may have important insight into matters as well. Don’t hesitate to involve your best talent in decision making. After all, they may see something your upper management missed.

In addition, asking top employees for their feedback and opinions is a good way to show appreciation and also show them that their opinions are in fact important and valuable to you. Furthermore, your top tech employees have knowledge and expertise that may give you an advantage in the market. Their unique viewpoint may give you a new angle to further develop and grow your business.

Having highly talented tech workers is truly an asset to any organization. Just make sure your top tech employees can do their job unhindered and that they know their hard work is appreciated. That way, you’ll be able to retain them with ease.

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The Future of Virtual HR

Numerous technological advancements have made it possible for companies to reduce costs and time needed to handle all these repetitive, menial tasks by automating them. Although in certain fields of work the human touch still can’t be fully replaced by hi-tech, the latest developments in AI and machine learning have shown that robots are already capable of performing activities which require certain cognitive functions. Virtual Reality is one of the most interesting advanced technologies, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch estimates that by 2022 this could become a $150 billion industry.  Although the first thing that comes to mind upon mentioning VR are video games, this technology has already started to transform other industries, including HR.

Virtual recruiting

One of the most important, and at the same time challenging, tasks of any HR department is to find the best candidate for a particular position. This is a great responsibility because many times it turns out that the candidate isn’t exactly a perfect fit despite their impeccable education and experience and this scenario is usually the result of a company’s failure to provide potential employees with a sense of what it’s like to be working for them. In order to prevent such unfortunate mismatches, companies should tell stories about themselves and create narratives to showcase their goals and values. Curating their content on social media by sharing compelling blog posts, appealing free business stock images, as well as offering a peek behind the curtain, helps companies create brand awareness and attract candidates’ attention.

VR is another, even more, powerful recruiting medium as it allows organizations to immerse candidates into some real-life work situations, offer them virtual tours of their offices, and get them to experience their company culture in person. That way, it’s easier for candidates to realize whether they can picture themselves working in such an environment. The British Army took recruitment to a whole new level by implementing the VR experience. This cutting-edge method gave a 66% boost to their recruitment applications.

Virtual on-boarding

Another set of challenges emerges once the perfect candidate has been picked. Namely, showing them the ropes, and filling them in on all the rules, regulations, and work procedures can be a tedious and time-consuming task both for the HR department and new employees. Let’s not forget that an increasing number of companies also offer telecommuting and remote jobs, which makes this process even more difficult. Again, the synergy of VR and HR solve this obstacle in a seamless manner, as virtual on-boarding tools are extremely practical, effective, and engaging. Besides these technical aspects, there’s also an equally important factor of socialization and collaboration of remote workers.

The breaking in of new members of the team who are not physically present is essential for establishing the dynamics of the group and boosting productivity. If we bear in mind that 43% of the U.S. employees work remotely, it’s clear that virtual on-boarding can be the answer to the frequent lack of communication with their co-workers and managers. Without this feedback, remote workers tend to feel disconnected and alienated, which leads to disengagement, and the role of VR in team-building and simulating face-to-face communication is immense.

Virtual training

High-quality training is another step crucial for attracting and keeping a skilled workforce, and that’s where VR shows its true potential. Instead of opting for expensive courses that take up a considerable amount of time, easily accessible virtual coaches and tools can be even more effective and efficient when it comes to preparing your employees for their jobs. One of the best examples is that by NASA, as the agency has already “sent” their astronauts to Mars, where they learned how to operate rovers, all with the help of the Oculus Rift. Certain professions require training procedures during which mistakes can be extremely dangerous, which is why Boeing uses VR in order to safely train pilots to fly their state-of-the-art aircraft, the 787 Dreamliner.

Apart from these highly-sophisticated technical uses, virtual reality can also help HR organize training for topics such as diversity, mobbing, or various kinds of harassment, and help employees experience all these situations first-hand and be able to understand, handle, and resolve a wide array of workplace issues.

Virtual reality is a game-changer for many industries, but it its true potential can already be observed in HR, where its role will become even more indispensable in the future.

6 Industries That Need Business Intelligence

Technological trends were always a game-changer in the industrial sphere. From the birth of the first personal computer to the expansion of the internet, every industry out there had to adapt to these technological breakthroughs at one point. Business intelligence is no different. Nowadays, with the market being so competitive, industries have to do whatever it takes to get an edge over their competitors. Business intelligence is one of those things that can give them an edge, especially in the domains of analytics, market and consumer analysis as well as security. So, without further ado, here is a list of six industries that benefit from business intelligence the most:

Retail industry

One of the biggest problems that plagues the retail industry today is theft. Namely, goods often get ‘misplaced’ somewhere between the time of the order to the point of sale. This is why BI is such an important tool in preventing inventory loss with its data warehousing. Now stores can keep close track of their supply chain and even check where these ‘leaks’ tend to occur, as well as which particular item is continuously getting stolen. As a result, stores can then use this info to make new measures and security procedures that can prevent such things from happening in the future and cut their losses significantly.

Food industry

Sustainability is becoming an increasing trend in the food industry. Here, business intelligence helps food industrialists find new solutions for old problems regarding the use of safer ingredients, eco-friendly packaging as well as general distribution. With its data mining and data collection tools, BI assists companies in researching new “green” technologies almost instantaneously. Today, a lot of people are very strict about the way their food is processed. Companies need to pay attention to their demands, lest they risk losing a huge portion of their clientele. Therefore, to no great surprise, there is a steady increase in quality control and yield management in the food production sphere.  

Telecom industry

Business intelligence in telecom industry is being widely used. Huge amounts of data are being handled each second with little to no margin for error. Being such a competitive market as it is, telecom providers need to find new ways of increasing their quality assurance. BI maintains data-processing to its utmost efficiency, providing powerful insight from the data collected. With this newfound knowledge, telecom companies can focus on anticipating customer needs as well as creating new customer retention strategies to get an edge over their competitors.

Oil industry

In the oil industry, business intelligence is used quite often to analyse geological data and seismic tests to predict where the largest oil deposits are. With the recent implementation of such predictive analyses, oil companies are getting an increase in profit which in turn lowers the price of oil. Likewise, BI is also used to monitor the constant fluctuation of crude oil prices in real time which allows the marketers to sell oil when prices get high enough, and fold when they are too low.

Fashion industry

The fashion industry is one of the most competitive industries out there. Decision making is absolutely vital for choosing the right kind of design that will eventually catch on like wildfire and become a global trend. This is where BI comes in handy with its analytical tools. It helps both buyers and marketers understand which target audience their consumers fit into. Thus, they gain the much-needed insight that will help them stay on top of their game. Excellent market awareness such as this can sometimes unearth the next big sensation which can help smaller companies make a breakthrough on the fashion scene.

Pharma industry

The main problem within the pharmaceutical industry is keeping track of the expiration dates of drugs which are kept in storage. Business intelligence software helps minimize the risk of an expired product ever leaving the shelves. This way, pharmaceutical companies can operate within safety parameters of health regulations. Also, another area where BI can offer its assistance is with the control of product patents. Sharing of patents will be a lot easier with the use of BI which will result in current patent laws changing drastically, enabling swifter FDA approval of new drug development.

To sum up, business intelligence can be a powerful tool for real-time decision making, analyzing the market and for keeping excellent track of data. It provides an advantage for companies over their opponents in almost every industrial sector and companies which learn to harness its full potential will be leading the pack in the near future for sure.

4 Traits of Today’s Successful Tech Leaders

In the last few years, the IT industry has been changing at an astonishing rate. With its evolution, the role of tech leaders has also changed. Namely, being an IT leader today is different from what it was about a decade ago. It’s no longer about having a superior aptitude for tech and focusing on end-user needs only. There is a plethora of attributes every successful tech leader should possess and here are some of them.

To Understand your Team, you need to Understand Yourself

There is a thin line between an average business owner and an exceptional leader. Overconfident and close-minded entrepreneurs that don’t take their employees’ advice into consideration usually stay mediocre or even end up failing. Of course, this is something you want to avoid. To succeed, you need to know what your strengths, weaknesses and emotional triggers are. Only by constantly investing in your self-awareness will you be able to leverage your strengths as much as possible and surround yourself with the right people with complementary skills. Most importantly, by investing in your emotional intelligence, you will manage to focus on the people you communicate with, recognize their problems and adapt your interactions based on their emotions and expectations.

An amazing example of the importance of self-awareness for one’s entrepreneurial success is Mark Zuckerberg. Even though he was just a teenager when he launched Facebook, he hired experienced advisors who helped him make the right decisions and, over time, he has become a well-rounded leader.

Make Quality and Timely Decisions

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing,” Roosevelt once said. The tech industry is moving at an astonishing pace and, to keep pace with it, you need to be capable of making the right decisions fast and taking risks when the need arises. If you are sitting on the fence all the time, not being able to find quality answers to your employees’ questions and problems, they might consider you incapable of leading them. Even worse, this might heavily affect your company’s growth.

Uber is just one of numerous examples showing how important bias for action is. Namely, when Lyft, their competitor, started offering scheduled rides, Uber’s executives decided to release the same feature within weeks. In this case, they didn’t have the luxury of doing a detailed research and debating the benefits of the product features. They simply built it and launched it.

Create Safe Work Environment

It’s your responsibility as an employer to provide your employees with pleasant, productive and, above all, safe work environment. Even though you cannot prevent all the incidents from happening, you can at least reduce the risk of workplace injury by developing a strict protocol, including safety education, offering adequate resources, and monitoring potential problem areas.  Most importantly, if the incident has already occurred, you need to know how you respond to such a situation. According to Bordas & Bordas personal injury lawyers, in such cases, employees are likely to hire an attorney to help them protect their right to compensation. As they will ask for all sorts of files and documentation on the employee, and you should cooperate with them and hand this information over.

Recognize your Employees’ Efforts

Steve Jobs believed that “great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.” This is exactly why every great leader understands and values their team’s efforts and hard work. By proving that you care about the employee behind the work as the work itself, you will be able to boost your employees’ satisfaction and, most importantly, improve their engagement and retention.

For example, you could develop an incentive program. The studies show that 71% of employees would rather stay with a company that offers rewards than switch to one that offers higher pay. Most importantly, apart from being brilliant motivation boosters, incentives don’t require you to have Google’s budget. Young and small businesses in IT could offer a wide range of affordable and yet highly effective incentives, such as in-house skill-building opportunities, certificates of achievement, flexible work arrangement, gift cards, paid time off, and happy hours.

Conclusions

Never try hard to become the next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. You’re simply not them. Instead, you need to know what it is that makes you authentic. Only by establishing recognizable leadership traits and staying true to them will you be able to build a powerful brand that stands out.

Which are some additional traits of distinguished entrepreneurs? Share your favorite ones with us.

Managing Multicultural Teams: Challenges and Solutions

Management

Over the last two decades, we have witnessed a nearly unprecedented shift in how companies operate in pretty much every respect. Among other things, the new technologies have made it more possible and viable for companies to employ teams that are far more heterogeneous than anything that was possible in the past.

In short, the multicultural team has become a norm and managers are having to learn how to manage such teams. This is nothing to hold against them. It is simply a different reality, with new challenges and ways to overcome these challenges.

The Assertiveness Challenge

Perhaps the most impactful cultural difference in the business arena, and subsequently the largest challenge in managing multicultural teams, is how different cultures see assertiveness and displays of assertiveness on the behalf of the manager.

For example, in the United States and the majority of “Western” countries, assertiveness is expected from a manager and the language used in such situations can feel almost aggressive to cultures that are not used to it. These are mostly Asian cultures where requests are formulated more indirectly and where western-style assertiveness is often seen as too direct.

If you manage a multicultural team, make sure to understand these different views of assertiveness and be careful when exerting assertiveness.

The Tone Challenge

Often times, in situations where you manage homogenous teams, you start (consciously or not) adopting different tones depending on the situation and the person you are talking to. Even in team communication, sarcasm, irony and other “complex” types of tone become a norm. Inside jokes, complaining and similar concepts are also present and they pose no problem.

With a multicultural team, this can become a problem, and very easily so. Humor and nuanced overtones get lost in translation before you can say “a massive lawsuit” and this can lead to all kinds of conflicts and uncomfortable situations.

Because of this, when managing a multicultural team, stick to the most neutral possible tone and use language that cannot be interpreted in more than one way.

The Decision-Making Challenge

One would think that at least decision-making is somewhat universal and that managers make their decisions in at least a similar way, regardless of the longitude or latitude. In reality, this is simply not the case.

For instance, in some cultures, managers are expected to be able to make decisions quickly and often without spending due diligence on all the ins and outs that go into making a decision. For instance, in the United States, this is seen as the epitome of strong leadership. In other cultures, managers are expected to gain far more insight before making a decision, often consulting team members and reaching some kind of a consensus.

It should also be pointed out that in some cultures, the decisions made by higher-ups are never disputed, even if they are clearly wrong; while in others, people will be more than ready to jump in and point out that a wrong decision was made.

As a multicultural team manager, you need to make sure everyone understands your decision-making process and you might also want to talk to individual team members to find out what they think about it and whether they are comfortable with it.

The Language Challenge

A multicultural team will operate in a language that was designed as the primary one. Some team members will be native speakers while others may not be. It might be their second or third language and even when their command of the official language is enviable, it will still not be their mother tongue and it may lead to problems.

For example, if such team members notice that some other team members are commenting on their language skills or showing any kind of bias due to the language barrier, they might feel less free to voice their opinions or provide any insights. They might feel discouraged or even discriminated in some way.

As a manager, you will want to do everything in your power to avoid this from happening. Everyone needs to be valued the same, regardless of their command of this “primary” language that you decided on. Of course, people should not have to decipher what is being said, but there also has to be understanding and tolerance. The good thing is that people always find a way to get the message across.

The “Technical” Challenge

In addition to the more culture-based and almost philosophical challenges, the manager of a multicultural team also needs to deal with the more mundane, technical issues. For instance, team members may be used to different kinds of software and work environment.

Something that a western team member may take for granted, like Google’s search engine may be completely unfamiliar to a team member from China, for example.

Then, there is also the matter of email etiquette which is different in different parts of the world. We must also not forget about time zones and the fact that people work at different times.

Soon enough, this can grow into this smorgasbord of management challenges that a manager needs to overcome in order for everything to run smoothly. This is where a good piece of project management software can go a long way and before you commit to any one, you will want to do some project management software comparison.

Conclusion

Managing a multicultural team can be challenging, there is no doubt about that. However, with a bit of care and common sense and with a lot of tact and preparation, you will soon discover that managing such a team can also be a fantastic experience.

About the Author

Nate Vickery, Bizzmark Blog

Nate Vickery is a business consultant mostly interested in latest technology trends applicable to SMB and startup management and marketing. Nate is also the editor at a business oriented blog BizzmarkBlog.com

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Streamlining HR Management Process Using Latest Trends in Technology

Streamlining HR Management Process Using Latest Trends in Technology

Whether you’re aware of it or not, global investment in corporate HR technology is on the rise and according to the most recent Human Resources Transformation Survey Report, the investment is growing at an exponential rate. Almost 90% of respondents said they plan to spend the same amount (some even said more) on HR systems this year. Furthermore, roughly 60% of respondents plan to start using mobile technologies for various HR transactions in the next 12 months.

The report, however, revealed something maybe even more interesting. While most people are satisfied with the technology they use for their performance management, almost 30% of respondents still use paper. Given the number of HR solutions on the market, it is quite surprising that so many companies out there are still depending on paper to perform certain HR tasks. But as the reliance on software increases, the use of paper is bound to decline.

The point here is, as times goes by, more and more companies will start automating and improving their HR processes by using new technology. To keep up with the competition, you should start looking at the latest trends, and use them to the best of your abilities to streamline your HR process.

Increasing Flexibility with the Cloud

The days of being chained to a desk and a PC are fortunately long gone, as a recent Gallup Poll revealed that more than 33% of workers are using their mobile devices to access work after hours. What’s more, around 96% of employees in the United States say that they use at least one of their own mobile devices to access work-related documents. Modern, cloud-based systems allow you to access important corporate files anytime, anywhere, which means that you can review a new employee resume from the airport, or send approvals for salary increases from your home office.

Real-Time Feedback

As the economy grows, employee engagement and retention have become a top priority. However, even as attention shifts towards the contentment of the staff, engagement is still surprisingly low. As a matter of fact, Quantum Workplace reports that employee engagement is at its lowest level in 8 years. So how can you keep up with your employees’ feelings and needs and how can technology help? In response to these concerns, a number of software providers that offer real-time employee feedback tools have popped up in the last couple of months. Performance review tools like Impraise will allow HR departments to more promptly discover, and respond to workers’ problems, needs and suggestions.

Managing Talent with People Analytics

People analytics, a BI-based approach to evaluating and managing talents presents a groundbreaking opportunity for HR. Furthermore, Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends report indicates that people analytics is more important than people originally thought. The report has revealed that 87% of business leaders are worried about retention and engagement, and 85% about the skill of their staff. And while some organizations have been slow at adapting to the new technology, many companies such as Starling Trust Sciences have developed algorithms that can identify “toxic” workers, predict attrition and even highlight the promotions most likely to produce high-performing workers.

Balancing Satisfaction with Scheduling Needs

Keeping the staff satisfied mostly relies on an increased attention to scheduling, and the ability to view schedules instantly, relieving the HR professionals of the pressure to pad staff levels to cover shifts in case of critical situations. Moreover, according to ADP research, scheduling automation can help organization save over 20% on overtime costs. Fortunately, there are plenty automated staff scheduling software that provide visibility across your organization and give insight into scheduling gaps, cost controls and available resources and can help you optimize organizational performance.

The Correlation between Technology and Satisfaction

Did you know that more than 70% of employees who gave their manager high marks also rated their performance management systems as “very good” and “great”? Well, according to Gallup’s analysis of 50,000 employees, it’s absolutely true. And while we cannot say that all good HR managers have good tools, it’s evident that both HR professionals and employees are more likely to be efficient and satisfied at their jobs when they have the right set of tools at their disposal.

About the Author

Nate Vickery, Bizzmark Blog

Nate Vickery is a business consultant mostly interested in latest technology trends applicable to SMB and startup management and marketing. Nate is also the editor at a business oriented blog BizzmarkBlog.com

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If you want to share this article the reference to Nate Vickery and The HR Tech Weekly® is obligatory.