Signs it is Time to Take Your Organization Virtual

Signs It Is Time to Take Your Organization Virtual

Signs to go virtual
How to ask your boss that you want to do your work from home?

Is It Time to Take Your Organization Virtual? Here Are the Signs It Is

The on demand skills based economy is here. With today’s top talent adapting to the new climate of the workforce, organizations now must find new ways to engage and retain their staff while bringing in the best talent available as needed to survive and thrive in complex economic times. The workforce has taken their careers and income earning opportunities into their own hands and crave the flexibility that virtual organizations provide. Whether you need to incorporate contract or freelance work into your operations or want to give flexible working arrangement incentives to your existing permanent team, there are many benefits to taking your business virtual.

Below are a few signs it may be time to take your organization virtual.

Your Industry Has Already Shifted

Does the competition incorporate contract and temp work for their teams to execute projects and deliverables? Do they have satellite offices with less overhead dispersed throughout a greater geographic region than you? You may be paying for more office space than is required or missing opportunities for growth by not shifting alongside your competitors that are gaining more market share through virtual teams and contracted project management.

Accessing the Best Ability When You Need It, Cast a Wider Net for Talent

Human capital is and always will be critical for organizations to grow. The top talent of today’s workforce is already embracing the shift of the gig economy for their careers. Contract and freelance work for projects may be one of the only options for reaching some of the most talented professionals that you do not have access to in traditional employment engagements. Leverage the strengths, talents and skills of top performers available to compliment your permanent staff. Changing up your business model to attract and leverage the best talent available for your organization is critical and inevitably necessary. There are specific projects or initiatives that do not require full time engagement, try contracting out this work with the support of your existing team.

There is Flexibility to Be Gained by Both Sides with Less Commitment

A short term project to gauge ongoing working compatibilities allows each side to have less binding ties than an official employment contract. By allowing both sides to test the waters, there is flexibility to expand working relationships or simply part ways conveniently for both parties.

You Already Leverage Collaboration Tools in the Cloud

The cloud is here to stay and the same tools that are used for internal personnel communications and document management, have made their way into the workforce. The same affordable tools already invested in, can be leveraged by personnel logging on from anywhere. Programs such as Office 365, Dropbox, Slack and Google Drive allow teams to collaborate from dispersed locations in different time zones to accomplish tasks and achieve goals remotely. Implementing electronic systems and procedures will be necessary but also provide the necessary guidance and structure to improve operational efficiencies and help designate roles and responsibilities between members of the virtual team.

You Want to Incorporate Work from Home Policies as an Incentive

More and more companies are realizing the benefits of an engaged workforce by offering the flexibility to incorporate part time working from home policies. As with any incentive, it has to be carefully managed so teamwork can be developed through defined deliverables with accountabilities in place. Conference calls, in person meetings, team brainstorming sessions can help teammates engage virtually while allowing them designated time to manage their personal and professional lives more flexibly.

You Need to Scale with Speed Affordably

Small dispersed teams optimally performing are considered a threat in today’s workforce. With the right mix of trust, relationships and business process, virtual teams can deliver unprecedented results with the right controls and check and balances in place. Having a plan in place with defined goals and objectives so the project delivery can be optimized by the virtual team’s performance will be a key to the team’s success.

Your Management Team has the Soft Skills to Manage Virtually

Teamwork and accountability can be fostered through well-defined objectives and project management milestones. Team engagement through regular meetings that encourage brainstorming, strategic discussions, presenting and reporting will help make the virtual team successful. Periodical in person face-to-face meetings and engaging collaboration tools that allow you to share mini bios and personal pictures can help develop comrade from teams that do not regularly work together. Leaders of virtual teams need to have the right balance of soft skills and technical aptitudes to adapt their management style accordingly.

Is it time to take your organization virtual?

About the Author

Eric Apps, Organimi

Eric Apps is a seasoned technology entrepreneur, lawyer and early pioneer of today’s growing modern workforce methodologies. Eric has owned, operated and held board or senior management positions in several public and private technology companies. Today he is partnered in Aluvion and Organimi, Canadian law and technology firms, where he is an early adopter and advocate of building virtual teams and services to grow his companies. By leveraging the power of new technologies to streamline workflows, while utilizing a virtual network of highly skilled, and highly responsive professionals to develop his companies, Eric is a thought leader and advocate for the growing freelance/gig based economy.

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For more information, visit http://organimi.com

To book an interview or to request information, please contact Nicole Ragno at nicole.ragno@organimi.com

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Strategies for Being Productive While Working Remotely

Strategies for Being Productive While Working Remotely

Working Remotely is Trending Upward

I was reading an interesting article the other day on Fast Company’s site regarding work trends. It was estimated that more than 50% of the work force will be working remotely by 2020. Additionally, 25%, of the business leaders surveyed, indicated that more than three-quarters of their employees would not be working in a traditional office by 2020. Of course the definition for the word “remote” has been debated often. Does this mean working somewhere outside the office for 1 or 2 days/week? If you work off-site or in coffee shops does this ‘count’ as working remotely? If you work any at home during the weekend are you considered to be a ‘remote employee’? Therefore, if we widen the scope of the definition says, Sara Sutton Fell (CEO of FlexJobs) then:

In most white-collar jobs, I’d say 99% of people are already working remotely in that they take work home. It creeps into our work style already. I think it’s just not formalized by either the employer or employee… If remote work means that you check email on Sunday night then congratulations! You already have a work-from-home job.

There is little question that workers often rank ‘flexibility’ as one of their top reasons they are attracted to more desired jobs. Given the impact of the digitization of work millennials (and other age groups as well) really value the option of, “…taking an afternoon off and catching up on Saturday morning.” Further, a more flexible schedule allows for more spontaneous interactions with co-workers, but also time for focused, head-down productivity as well. For recruiters and other small business owners the power of working remotely is truly endless.

How to Remain Productive when Not in the Office

If the trend is toward more of us working remotely and/or from home what are some tips and tricks we can take advantage of to ensure success?

This article will provide a short list of tactics that have worked for me as well as a few suggested by others who are experienced at being productive while working remotely (PWWR). I’ve worked remotely (in some capacity) as a college professor and content marketer for the past 15 years and learned a few tips and tricks along the way. One thing I know for sure is you need a strategy and plan, for remote work, or it can lead to problems. There are real pluses to working at home/remotely and also pitfalls if not approached with a solid plan.

Strategies for Working Remotely

  • Work off of a Daily List of Tasks to be Done: One of the challenges with working at home (or in any other remote location) is how easy it can be to become distracted and taken off course. Therefore, it’s a good idea to put 2-4 things you want to get done on a list daily. During the day go back the list a couple of times to ensure you are staying focused. As things get accomplished you can cross them out. At the end of the day update the list by checking off what has been finished and what is pushed to the next work day. Psychologically it can be very satisfying to see items get ‘checked off’ the list. The goal is to make steady progress every work day (usually on several small tasks).
  • Don’t become a Silo & Consistently Communicate: It takes personal discipline to work remotely and remain productive. One thing to remember is avoid being a ‘silo‘ and working independently for long stretches. In other words, check in often with co-workers and bosses to let them know what you are working on and to be available to help others if needed. It can be easy to ‘fall off the radar’ when working from home, but if you are intentional about consistently communicating it will serve you well. Also, consistent communication lets everyone on the team know that you are engaged and working toward pre-planned goals.
  • Be sure to take Breaks/Change of Scenery: It may seem obvious but be sure to take breaks when working remotely. Given that you do not have other co-workers around (who can be distracting) often we can really get in a groove and get a lot accomplished while working remotely. This is great, however it’s also easy to work even more hours and ‘forget’ to take breaks. I find taking a 20-minute walk, grabbing a lunch off-campus, getting a quick coffee, or doing a chore or two around the house can serve as an effective change of scenery/break in the monotony.
  • Put Together Reports to Update Colleagues on Progress: Given the way our work places are organized, in this digital era, often we are working on individual/independent tasks that are connected to bigger goals of the company/agency. What’s more, our colleagues may or may not know what we are working on and, more importantly, the progress that is indeed being made. Therefore, if you can provide monthly and/or weekly summaries of tasks that are getting done and how they are edifying the long-term goals of your company this can be super helpful. Also, this helps for summarizing how all of the small tasks are helping move the business in the right direction. It can be easy to get bogged down in the details and not “see the forest for the trees”.
  • Have a Dedicated Work Space: Whether you are working at home or at a coffee shop it’s critical to have a work space that is ‘only for work’ and not used for other things (you may do in your spare time/down time). It helps if your home or remote location is similar to your office at work.

Optimizing Working Remotely Important

As more and more people work remotely (and the time they do so also increases) it is going to become even more important to continue finding ways to optimize this type of work environment. For even more information check out a recent article from The Muse: 10 Reasons Working Remotely is Even Better than You Thought it Was.


Source: Strategies for Being Productive While Working Remotely – Crelate

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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The Inconvenient Truth of Hidden Conflict in the C-suite – And What to Do About It

Written by Hesham El Komy, Senior Director, International Channels at Epicor Software. Specially for The HR Tech Weekly®.

The Inconvenient Truth of Hidden Conflict in the C-suite

A little bit of conflict between members of the C-suite is inevitable. When each member has different priorities and business objectives to the rest of the C-suite, it’s possible for this conflict to cause problems. Part of the tension is caused by a lack of consensus on business growth. According to recent research by Epicor, this misalignment of goals could lead to business problems if left unchecked. But if differing viewpoints are channelled positively, using technology and data to inform decision-making, suddenly ideas can foster growth and innovation rather than continue to be a source of conflict.

Hesham El Komy, Senior Director, International Channels at Epicor Software
Hesham El Komy, Senior Director, International Channels at Epicor Software

So what else could be contributing to conflict within the C-suite? One theory is that the CEO occupies a lonely position compared to the rest of the C-suite and has very little insight into the inner-workings of the internal departments within the business. CEOs tend to be more concerned with their “outward selves” – answering to stakeholders and explaining numbers to the board of directors.

Rob Morris, managing director and general manager of intellectual property at leadership consultancy firm YSC believes CEOs may feel the burden of growth more than other members of the C-suite. He refers to the CEO operating “like an island, despite the stereotypical image of a CEO projecting confidence and stability”. A recent study in Harvard Business Review examined how the burden of being responsible for tough business decisions can make a difference. It found that “93% of CEOs require more preparation for the role than they typically get” and are typically unready for the “loneliness and accountability that lies ahead”.

A variety of new technology roles could also be aggravating the tension within the C-suite. As a Wall Street Journal article reports, CIOs and CTOs are struggling to “differentiate their responsibilities”. The article goes on to say, “With so many roles, even other C-levels may not know where to turn to address a particular IT-related issue or problem. And the overlaps and conflicts may well lead to infighting”.

But while it is normal to have differing opinions and views – it is when these conflicts turn unhealthy and start becoming a strain on maintaining strong and healthy business operations that it becomes a problem. As Morris says, “conflict in a healthy team climate can lead to more effectiveness, but when the conflict remains hidden, confined to disagreements between only one or two key stakeholders, it can quickly become dysfunctional”.

So how can disagreements be turned into opportunities for innovation? Ideas and opinions can be shut down if they lack enough clear data to back them up. Having access to real-time information and insight can solve this. This means that key business discussions can be based on detailed metrics rather than simple “hunches” or gut-feelings. Senior business executives can then propose new ideas based on facts in front of them changing the conversation from perceived issues and problems to actionable steps designed to promote business growth.

As the Epicor research reveals, it is natural to have different ideas from other members in the senior team. But it is equally important to be aware that the battles should not be based on biased agendas that can only hinder business growth.

Some CEOs have already noted the positive impact the use of data can bring to ease the burden of managing business growth. The research, which questioned over 1,800 business leaders, revealed that 40% of CEOs agreed that access to information is of very significant importance to them, compared to 34% of CFOs, COOs and CIOs on average. Furthermore, 35% of CEOs agreed that having the right technology has made growth possible. Interestingly, one-in-ten blamed a lack of technology in hindering business growth.

“It’s essential to be able to interpret the data you have, and make good strategic judgements based on that data. But alignment of goals and information is key if the use of data is to be effective. Like rowers in a boat, C-suite members need to work together, if they are to make conflict a force for healthy business growth,” says Morris.

Still, whilst there are many benefits to using data to inform decision-making, challenges remain. A report has found that it’s possible for C-suite members to suffer from an “information overload” when the data cannot be used effectively, because there’s just too much of it and they lack the technology to make sense of it all. C-suite members must foster a culture of “collaboration and transparency”; using relevant information to build trust and tackle business challenges together.

The emergence of technology and the differing opinions within the C-suite are bound to crank up the tension amongst executives. But a failure to see the wider repercussions on the business can be disastrous. That does not mean differing opinions must be stunted. A healthy conflict based on data and facts can turn a tense situation into a positive experience for the business.

The journey from conflict to healthy debates must start with the provision of accurate and relevant data. So how do businesses achieve this?

If it’s important that C-level executives are exposed to the same information, in real time, the provision of up-to-date data via intelligent software becomes invaluable. The latest enterprise resource management systems (ERP), for example, can be accessed anywhere. So, whether it’s the CEO at a stakeholder meeting, or a COO discussing plans with teams, it is possible for them to base their business decisions on the same information. Once they are aligned in this way, they can discuss business priorities and concerns more effectively, changing the conversations in the boardroom and positively impacting the whole business.


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How To Build An Emergency Evacuation Plan That Will Actually Work

about-workplace-emergency-management

The thing about emergencies is that no one is sitting around waiting and wishing for one to arise. But when it does there are, more often than not, some measures put in place to help mitigate damage, and to prevent said emergency from escalating. The same holds true for small businesses and major corporations. None of them are idling around waiting for something dangerous to happen in their offices, but if something does happen they have to be ready and willing to act. A lack of preparation will endanger their lives, and the lives of all their employees.

One of the biggest hazards that an emergency situation does not arise from the nature of the emergency itself, but rather from the way a company or an organization chooses to handle it. In some cases, the loss of life is increased because there are no proper emergency and evacuation protocols in place. It is always important to be ready to evacuate your business/company if need be, and laboring under the delusion that an emergency will never hit your place of work will not help you at all. Even though you may never know when you might have to evacuate yourself and your employees, it is always best to make sure that you are up to the task.

What are Workplace Emergencies?

A workplace emergency is essentially any occurrence that has the potential to physically harm employees and patrons of your business. In addition to these parameters, if anything is threatening your daily operations, or is causing environmental or physical harm, it is classified as a workplace emergency. Workplace emergencies range from tornadoes, hurricanes, toxic spills (common in industrial complexes), to active shooter situations. Workplace emergencies are not as uncommon as people would like to believe, and it is really hard to think straight when your life and the lives of many other people are on the line. This is the reason why it is always best to prepare for these kinds of emergencies before they happen. Active preparation will ensure a minimal loss of life and it will help maintain the integrity of your company.

What are Emergency Evacuation Plans?

Emergency evacuation plans should be a core part of every company’s emergency action plan. These plans are put in place to dictate what should happen in the event that a workplace emergency arises. It is important to realize that not every emergency will lead to an evacuation, but it is still important for an evacuation plan to be in place. These plans are meant to ensure that people can safely navigate their way through an emergency safely. This is much easier said than done, mostly because of how different each emergency situation can be, so it is necessary for an evacuation plan to be in place for every possible outcome.

A comprehensive Emergency Evacuation plan will have information escape routes and escape procedures that should be used in the midst of an emergency. These routes should be indicated on a map that makes it easy for every employee or customer to find their way around. Companies should consult commercial locksmiths in order to make sure that their escape routes have the appropriate locks in place. This is extremely important because having the wrong locks in place could impair the effectiveness of an evacuation. In addition to this, emergency evacuation plans should have an adequate description of how employees will be notified when there needs to be an evacuation. If a company does not plan for an evacuation, this mostly leads to a confused and vastly disorganized evacuation attempt. This then leads to more harm or loss of life. In the process of crafting an emergency evacuation plan, companies should strive to make sure that they cover the necessities:

  1. The first thing that companies need to do is to determine when and where an evacuation will be necessary. As stated above, not every emergency will lead to the need for an evacuation. However, there is a thin line separating these things so it is important to figure out what exactly will lead to an evacuation.
  2. Make sure that you establish an emergency chain of command, so that your employees clearly know who is in charge of issuing evacuation orders and telling them where to go.
  3. Companies need to hammer out escape and evacuation routes. They also need to make sure that these are placed in areas that can be easily seen and that are easily accessible to employees.
  4. It is also highly important that your evacuation procedures look to cater to individuals with disabilities.
  5. Also, make sure that there is a system in place that makes it easy to keep track of people before, during, and after the evacuation. Evacuations tend to be high adrenaline situations, so it is very easy to lose track of people if no one is paying attention. This is why it is important to have a way of keeping track of people in these instances.

How Do You Build An Emergency Evacuation Plan?

In order to build a solid emergency evacuation plan that actually works the way it was intended, companies need to focus on a few central aspects and nail these down. Once this has been done, their emergency evacuation plan should work the way it was meant to.

Notification – It is important for companies to figure out how they are going to notify employees of the fact that there is an emergency evacuation happening. This should be detailed in the company’s Emergency Action Plan. The notification can be done via sound system or by using visual prompts, such as flashing emergency lights. Essentially, companies have to nail down a method that allows them to contact every member of their staff, and let them know that there is about to be an evacuation. The worst possible thing that could happen is that some people might not get the notification, and thus their lives will be placed in more danger because they are not prepared to evacuate. Also, it is important for companies to ensure that their notification methods are also tailored to people with disabilities. In this effect, they can use any combination of auditory, tactile or visual notification methods in order to ensure that no one is left behind.

Evacuation Warden – In order to have an evacuation plan that works, it is important to put someone in charge of overseeing the entire evacuation process. Leadership is an important mantle and it is even more important when people’s lives are at stake. This will help make streamline the evacuation process. This evacuation officer will be in charge of coordinating the emergency evacuation, and they will be the person who makes the call to begin the evacuation. This individual, or group of people, will also be in charge of planning the evacuation route and making sure that everyone is aware of it.

Plan the Evacuation Route – The evacuation route is one of the most important things that will determine whether or not your emergency evacuation plan is going to work or not. This route is essentially the passage that your employees and customers will take in order to find safety, so it is important that your primary and secondary evacuation routes are properly planned out.

In doing so, companies need to take into account the layout of their building, the number of employees that they have, access to fire escapes etc. This will help them plan the best possible route. It is also advised to plan several evacuation routes based on the several possible emergencies that you could be presented with.

Practice the Emergency Evacuation – The expression “practice makes perfect” applies to emergency evacuations as well, it is important to make sure that your employees have an exceptional understanding of what is expected of them during an emergency evacuation. This also gives them the opportunity to become familiar with the evacuation warden as they go through safety drills. It will also help them grow confident in the emergency action plan and trust that it is in place to keep them safe. Also, it will cultivate the habit of people looking out for each other and this will lead to a decrease in loss of life due to disorganization. The process of practicing the emergency evacuation will also help companies figure out if their building is up to safety code, and if there are any additions that they can make in order to make their emergency action plan run smoothly.

Conclusion

Emergency Evacuation plans are more important than people know. They are responsible for ensuring that there is no unnecessary damage or loss to any employees or to their patrons. It might be tempting for some companies to neglect emergency plans because of all the work that goes into them, but it is much less work than what you will have to put in if you are caught unprepared in the midst of a major crisis or emergency. Hopefully, the tips listed above will help you fashion an emergency plan that actually works well for your company, and one that keeps people safe.


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People you hire will be pivotal in shaping business culture and maintaining success!

epicor-software-executive-shares-his-vision-with-hr-from-c-level-perspective

Today our guest is Mr. Sabby Gill, Executive Vice President (EVP) International at Epicor Software.

Sabby Gill brings more than 20 years of international sales, operations and enterprise software industry experience to Epicor. In his role, Gill is responsible for operations including sales and professional services with a focus on accelerating company growth throughout Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) and Asia Pacific (APAC).

Prior to Epicor, Gill was Senior Vice President of International Sales for IGT. He has also held executive management roles with leading technology companies including HP, CA Technologies, Oracle, PeopleSoft (acquired by Oracle), and DEC.

The interview is hosted by Alexey Mitkin, Founder, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, The HR Tech Weekly® Online Media Co.

  1. In your recent article you have told us about how as companies grow and expand, there is a tendency for employees to be disengaged in the workplace due to heavier workloads, pressures, and deadlines. You explained how investing in the right technology can help companies manage this growth. What other drivers can you point to for ensuring employee satisfaction, engagement and wellbeing?

As your business grows you need your team to be strong, so the people you hire will be pivotal in shaping its culture and maintaining its success. Ensuring that your employees are happy and fully engaged is also vital. Take for example a traditional business that acquires smaller, nimble entrepreneurial entities to gain a competitive advantage but find the newly acquired talent assets that the company paid highly for start leaving the company. This is a common mistake made by many companies that are growing through acquisition but failing to consider the wellbeing of, and engage effectively with the organisation’s new employees.

Another important aspect for companies to consider is the influx of Millennials in the workplace. I would argue that it’s even more paramount for organisations of all types and sizes to create workplace environments that nurture the free-thinker and their entrepreneurial spirit. But where do organisations start? To begin, they need to understand the characteristics of entrepreneurial teams and what motivates them. You can almost forget about traditional incentive plans; when dealing with entrepreneurial types, “challenge” trumps traditional notions of compensation/rewards, because if the work environment isn’t challenging enough, they are likely to leave. They need to understand what the entrepreneur works for (and what they live for): The vision, the dream, the challenge – it’s their oxygen. To fully engage, entrepreneurs must buy into the vision.

As companies grow and with it create entrepreneurial teams, larger organisations may need to rethink placing talent in the constraints of the traditional hierarchical structure. These teams may be more effective when they are free to look at projects holistically: to craft a vision and define how problems will be solved. Remove as much process, structure, and bureaucracy as is feasible; as they prefer working without walls, and that includes traditional “job description” boundaries. 

  1. What do you expect from HR Managers delivering to the change management initiatives?

Employee ‘buy-in’ is the cornerstone of any change initiative and the onus often falls on HR to manage this process. Changing business processes can have an impact on employees’ familiar work routines whether or not they are directly involved in the project, so this process must be managed for the entire workforce. Employees need to be gradually introduced to new processes and job roles over a period of time so that they can accept and familiarize themselves with these developments. Neglecting this aspect or putting it off until later on in the project may result in organisational resistance to the new system, even to the point of operational risk. 

  1. Do you observe any distinctions when people from different industries, functions, and maybe regions, implement new software? For instance, what scares HR professionals more comparing with other business roles?

Change is never easy and most people are averse to change – this is true regardless of culture, industry and job function! HR’s challenge, given where it sits in an organisation, as opposed to other business roles, is helping employees, navigate and embrace any changes made in the organisation. 

  1. What are the core advantages Epicor®Human Capital Management delivers to HR and business when their demands and expectations grow toward self-service, engagement, micro-learning, and people analytics solutions? 

Today’s economy needs HR to adopt a more proactive and strategic role. To add to this, managers and employees are demanding direct access to human resource (HR) systems and information. Epicor Human Capital Management (HCM), delivers this and more, helping HR departments better manage a dispersed workforce, improve human resource processes, and make HR an integral part of an organisation’s strategic planning.

Epicor HCM is an intuitive, functional, and adaptable HCM solution that helps HR departments to spend more time managing talent than data. With Epicor HCM, HR teams have the ideal tool to manage their organisation’s most valuable resource—the workforce, who are pivotal maintaining a company’s success.

Epicor HCM automates everything related to HR in a single software system, enabling the organisation to track, manage, and analyse all data for the employees, from application to retirement. Through automated workflow, Epicor HCM allows organisations to improve efficiency. With powerful reporting and analytical tools, HR teams can gain a complete picture of the company’s workforce to enable better strategic planning.

  1. What technological trends will influence ERP and particularly HCM vendors in the nearest future, in your opinion?

The Cloud has without a shadow of a doubt been one of the biggest drivers of change in our industry. Organisations across the globe are beginning to realise the benefits of moving to the cloud, specifically:

  • Compelling connectivity — the ability to collaborate in real-time across remote sites, mobile employees, and trading partners
  • Enhanced operational efficiency — seamless operations, unparalleled scalability and flexibility, upgrade management, and business continuity
  • Improved security — higher level of security, network monitoring, and disaster prevention
  • Smart economics — the opportunity to achieve lower total cost of ownership (TCO) and positively affect the bottom line
  • Better resource allocation – improved ability to focus resources on core business activities and applications

These benefits are magnified when it comes to HCM because HCM has always been viewed as a non-critical, labour intensive function. By moving HCM applications to the cloud, organisations can make sure their HR teams focus on more business critical activities, reduce operational costs, and, most importantly, stay connected with an increasingly mobile workforce. 

  1. You have proven C-level experience in business development and managing people within global technological companies in EMEA, Asia Pacific and Latin America. What do you recommend to managers who strive to build their careers at the international markets?

My number one recommendation for managers is to be understanding and respectful of the various cultural differences. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach when it comes to dealing with people across markets. What works in the US might not be the right tactic for China, but sadly too many C-level executives take this for granted.

Secondly, “Be as good as your word – do what you say you’re going to do.” The idea of following through on commitments and being held accountable for your plans and actions is vital. It helps build trust and comfort with the people you deal with knowing that you bring credibility and will ensure that things get done. You want to be that person who others can rely on. People buy from people and your future is in the hands of what they say and what they do. When you enter a relationship, which is what we do when we implement ERP solutions, you need to care about the job you, and everyone else, does for that customer. Everything reflects on the promise you make to your customers, partners, investors and employees. Whichever way you look at it, their emotions, personal ambitions, etc., all play a part in the business at hand.

Thirdly, be an advocate of change and look for excellence in everything you do. Do not dither. C-level positions demand, as well as offer, respect. People expect answers and directions from those in these positions in a timely and articulate manner. Think about a driver of a high-performance car; with a professional driver behind the wheel you can obtain strong performance and look to break lap records. However if you put a novice behind the wheel, you will struggle to get the same results. You need to grow into the expert that people want to rely on to drive the business forwards.

Finally, I would say, continue “to reflect”. What I mean by this is always take a step back when you find yourself in a difficult or complex situation and reassess what it is that you are trying to achieve. Too many times we get fixated on finer details and can’t see the forest for the trees. Taking a step back can help us see the wider picture and realign our focus.


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Customer Support and Millennials: What You Need to Know!

Written by Evan Oeflein | Originally published at AnswerDash 

millennial_cio

Millennials are the future! You’ve likely heard the phrase countless times and for good reason: if businesses learn to treat millennials well now, they can protect that relationship for years to come. Here’s what you need to know about millennials and customer service.

With recent counts hovering around 77 million, millennials make up about one-fourth of the US population and are a rapidly growing segment of the American economy1. Combined, they wield around $2.45 trillion in annual buying power2, which makes them a valuable market and an important customer base for any business. With their substantial importance now and eventual economic dominance, it’s crucial that businesses learn to meet their needs and preferences as much as possible. However, knowing what they want isn’t always easy — they are very different from Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. Knowing these differences is an effective competitive edge.

The key difference when interacting with millennials is primarily in how they expect to be treated and via which channels.

Millennials are extremely self-reliant, with almost 40% of them first checking a company’s FAQ page when they have a question3. If they can’t find an answer there or their needs go unmet, four out of five millennials choose to use social media for customer service instead of through web, phone, or online chat channels4. In fact, when contacting a company, most millennials use Facebook almost twice as often as the second-most used social media, Twitter4. An important side note: nearly 25% of millennials expect to get a response on social media within 10 minutes, which can be a difficult demand to meet for many businesses4. Failing to meet expectations like these can result in unhappy millennial customers and could hurt your business.

So what steps can you take to mitigate potential issues and cater to your millennial customers?

First things first: don’t make them call customer service. Make sure they can find answers on your website as easily as possible. Consider a self-service solution to help them help themselves, so they don’t need to reach out to you with problems or issues in the first place!

To drive this point home, here are a few things millennials would rather do than call a support line and sit on hold:

  • 34% would rather have their teeth cleaned4
  • 32% would rather go shopping on Christmas Eve4
  • 26% would rather go to the DMV4

Second: Bend over backwards for your millennial customers! It’s common practice to be accommodating and helpful with any customer, but 22% of millennials say that one bad experience is enough for them to leave a brand for good5. Just a heads up that this can also include boycotting a service, with nearly a quarter of all millennials saying they would be willing to boycott a company after just one bad experience4! Yikes. And with the rapid growth of e-commerce businesses, it’s not difficult for them to leave you and shop with competition. In many ways, your relationship with them now is tied to the future success of your business: once they find a company and product they like, 80% of Millennials will keep going back6.

Whatever your approach to customer support, understand that  millennials expect to be able to find what they need themselves. If they can’t, they don’t want to spend time waiting around for you to answer them (they’d rather go to the dentist, remember?), so get back to them quickly! They’re expected to eclipse Baby Boomers in spending power by 2018, at $3.39 trillion annually7, and will make up even more of your customer base.

Since 64% of millennials feel greater brand loyalty than their Baby Boomer or Generation X parents 8, they’re more likely to stick around if you give them the support they crave! Millennials are the future and they will remember everything you do for them now.

To learn how you can help your millennial customers help themselves, take a peek at our website self-service eBook “How to help your customers help themselves”.

Sources:

(1) 2014, Millennial Consumer Report, Nielson
(2) 2014, Millennials Drive Social Commerce, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
(3) 2015, State of Service Report, Salesforce Research
(4) 2015, Customer Survey: Results & Analysis, Desk.com
(5) 2015, Millennials Research Study, Aspect
(6) 2010, 8095 Exchange: Millennial Whitepaper, Edelman Digital
(7) 2010, Gen-Y Financial Services Survey, Oracle
(8) 2014, Millennial Brand Loyalty, Adroit Digital

Source: Customer Support and Millennials: What You Need to Know!

Three Steps to Effectively Measure Philanthropic Impact

Written by Burt Cummings, CEO at Versaic | Originally published at Versaic Blog

According to The Council on Foundations (COF) Report, Increasing Impact & Enhancing Value, corporate philanthropy is as vital as ever to business and society. And yet corporate leaders are under increasing pressure to connect the value of their programs with performance drivers that matter in the business. They must demonstrate that their philanthropic investment is both effective and aligned with business outcomes. Quantifying results is not always easy and many leaders struggle to measure the social impact of their programs. While they’ve often identified broad focus areas for their program, they can find it difficult to create clear social impact metrics that can bridge their philanthropic outcomes to their business strategy.

There are no universally accepted metrics for measuring either the social impact of philanthropy or the Return On Investment (ROI) of philanthropic initiatives. Each company is unique in both their social impact goals and in their requirements for how to demonstrate the ROI. It can be difficult to translate the large-scale vision of what they hope to achieve into tangible success measures.  They struggle to find effective ways to track changes in behavior or condition for the nonprofits and community members they serve.

Burt Cummings, CEO at Versaic for HRTW
Burt Cummings, CEO at Versaic

Versaic client Starwood Hotels & Resorts is an example of an organization committed to investing the time and resources necessary to put a corporate philanthropy program in place that delivers significant value to the community as well as to the company and its employees. Starwood worked with Versaic and The Rensselaerville Institute (TRI) to develop a results-focused approach and implementation plan for their corporate philanthropy initiatives. Starwood’s primary objective was to employ new tools that would automate the process and improve their ability to track, quantify and evaluate impact. Their system is now live, and as a result, their philanthropy team has freed up time and gathered better data so they can have more productive interactions with grantees and effectively measure the results of their programs .

Here are some of the key things we learned about how to design and implement a successful program from our journey with Starwood and TRI: 

1) Create a strategic focus area(s): To identify focus areas that would address the most pertinent needs of the community while capitalizing on Starwood’s strengths, the Social Responsibility team looked internally for guidance. After multiple stakeholder interviews, focus groups and strategy sessions evaluating different aspects of the business, the team identified five focus areas that align community development objectives with Starwood’s strategic goals:

  • Workplace Readiness
  • Community Vitality
  • Conservation
  • Disaster Relief
  • Human Rights

2) Formulate a Plan: With the focus areas in place, Starwood developed a framework to plan and assess the effectiveness of their giving. TRI helped Starwood shift its mindset from acting as a ‘funder’ to acting as an ‘investor’ in order to seek the highest human gain for the available dollars. With that perspective, the foundation staff created a strategic results framework to clarify goals for their signature program grants.

Here are some basic questions to ask when establishing a result framework:

  • What changes do we want to see for the people or places we want to support?
  • What are the predictive changes in behavior or condition that indicate those people and places are on their way to success?
  • What types of programs and services will we invest in to get the end result?
  • What type of investments will we make to affect the change we seek? Will our portfolio include programmatic, capacity building and systemic change grants?

Below is an example from Starwood showing its results framework for its Workplace Readiness program.

StarwoodWorkplaceReadiness.png

3) Design an Effective System: For Starwood it was essential to make their team and systems as streamlined and efficient as possible. They knew they needed to automate the process, and wanted an automation partner who could integrate their results framework throughout the system workflow. They needed a system flexible enough to track the specific outcome data points they required.

Starwood’s application process and communication system process addresses the following needs:

  • Educate grantees on the company’s philanthropic objectives
  • Clearly communicate their criteria for support
  • Help potential partners understand how they can engage with the organization.
  • Collect all relevant information required to make funding decisions
  • Collect necessary data to assess ROI and support impact reporting

By taking the time up front to design the right questions, Starwood now collects all the necessary information from charitable partners, from initial proposal through impact data collected post-grant. As a result, the team can demonstrate how their investments in local non-profits focused on building employments skills have resulted in a much better pool of potential employees. This is a clear win for Starwood and for the communities where they do business.

Conclusion:

If you’re daunted by the prospect of putting an impact-focused program in place, start by asking yourself, your team and your stakeholders questions about what you want to accomplish in your business and community. Use those answers and the three steps outlined above to develop a process that will deliver the results you want to accomplish. Be prepared to adapt as you go because even with the best plan in place your programs will continually evolve, just as the needs of your business and community change. Connecting and reporting social impact with ROI requires refinement as you learn from experience.

When you take this approach, you’ll respond more effectively to the needs of your community partners, your stakeholders and your social investing team while at the same time increase your impact. It certainly worked for Starwood. Read the full story of Starwood’s journey, Going From Strategy to Impact to learn more. 


Source: Three Steps to Effectively Measure Philanthropic Impact

Are CEO’s Missing out on Big Data’s Big Picture?

Big data allows marketing and production strategists to see where their efforts are succeeding and where they need some work. With big data analytics, every move you make for your company can be backed by data and analytics. While every business venture involves some level of risk, with big data, that risk gets infinitesimally small, thanks to information and insights on market trends, customer behaviour, and more.

Unfortunately, however, many CEOs seem to think that big data is available to all of their employees as soon as it’s available to them. In one survey, nearly half of all CEOs polled thought that this information was disseminated quickly and that all of their employees had the information they needed to do their jobs. In the same survey, just a little over a quarter of employees responded in agreement.

Great Leadership Drives Big Data

In entirely too many cases, CEOs look at big data as something that spreads in real-time and that will just magically get to everyone who needs it in their companies. That’s not the case, though. Not all employees have access to the same data collection and analytics tools, and without the right data analysis and data science, all of that data does little to help anyone anyway.

In the same study that we mentioned above, of businesses with high-performing data-driven marketing strategies, 63% had initiatives launched by their own corporate leaders. Plus, over 40% of those companies also had centralized departments for data and analytics. The corporate leadership in these businesses understood that simply introducing a new tool to their companies’ marketing teams wouldn’t do much for them. They also needed to implement the leadership and structure necessary to make those tools effective.

Great leaders see big data for what it is – a tool. If they do not already have a digital strategy – including digital marketing and production teams, as well as a full team for data collection, analytics, data science, and information distribution – then they make the moves to put the right people in the right places with the best tools for the job.

Vision, Data-Driven Strategy, and Leadership Must Fit Together

CEOs should see vision, data-driven strategy, and leadership as a three-legged chair. Without any one of the legs, the chair falls down. Thus, to succeed a company needs a strong corporate vision. The corporate leadership must have this vision in mind at all times when making changes to strategy, implementing new tools and technology, and approaching big data analytics.

At the same time, marketing and production strategies must be data-driven, and that means that the employees who create and apply these strategies must have full access to all of the findings of the data collection and analysis team. They must be able to make their strategic decisions based directly on collected data on the market, customer behaviour, and other factors.

To do all this, leadership has to be in place to organize all of strategic initiatives and to ensure that all employees have everything they need to do their jobs and move new strategies forward.

Have you implemented a digital strategy for your business? What’s changed since you’ve embraced your strategy, and what are your recommendations for strategy and data-driven technology for business owners and executives like yourself?

Let us know what you think and how you’ve used your digital strategy to set your business apart from the the competition.

To learn more about the world of Entrepreneurship & Data Science follow Bob Nieme on Twitter or connect with him on Linkedin

CEO at O2MC I/O Prescriptive Computing

 

Connect with author Ronald van Loon to learn more about the possibilities of Big Data

Co-author, Director at Adversitement

 

 


Source: Are CEO’s Missing out on Big Data’s Big Picture?

Growth fears: How can businesses align business growth with employee satisfaction?

Written by Sabby Gill, Executive Vice President (EVP) International at Epicor Software, specially for The HR Tech Weekly® blog.

Happy Employees

When a business experiences sudden growth, it creates a myriad of emotions from joy and excitement to dread and fear. The progressive mind-set that stimulates growth can inadvertently cause us to be less sensitive to the negative emotions that might emerge as a result. Because we are creatures of habit, it is probably not surprising that some of the increased complexity and ambiguity can be quite unsettling. Paradoxically, this emergent fear can start to hinder growth, as leaders pick up on it and start taking preventative measures to avoid damaging customer relations, reducing service quality, and minimize the mounting pressure on operations.

The reality is that progress is part of doing business, and with some careful planning and forward-thinking, the growth period does not have to be ridden with pain. The right IT infrastructure can help to facilitate some of these big changes and make the process a lot smoother.

Recent research conducted by Epicor has explored the different approaches organisations take to growth. It’s been found that the three priorities tend to be in turnover and sales, profits, and expansion into new industries and product areas. The outlook for 2016 is positive; 70% of respondents expect growth in 2016, and 79% have made (or are making) investments in integrated IT infrastructure as a key to supporting growth.

But what happens if the growth is unforeseen, or experienced as a surge? Leaders can find themselves on their back foot if they have not developed the appropriate skillset to handle the new changes.

Rob Morris, Head of Innovation and Thought Leadership at YSC, the premier global leadership development firm, believes that hiring for and developing the right skillset for growth goes a long way in dealing with the excessive demands placed on the workplace.

“Although we plan for growth in linear and rational ways, it often looks more like chaos in practice. When growth happens at such an unpredictable pace and scale, you don’t usually hire for that growth. As a result, you will not have the people resources to deliver on the new scale that you have created for yourself. The downside is people end up doing more than they expected, and often outside of the roles they were hired or trained for.”

A growing business can hinder employee satisfaction

A risk associated with business progress is employees becoming increasingly disengaged in the workplace due to heavier workloads, pressures, and deadlines. According to the Epicor research, 43% of leaders are concerned that as their business grows, workloads may increase to a level that places too much pressure on staff, prompting key personnel to leave the organisation.

Morris believes that a key predictor of job satisfaction is whether employees find ‘meaning’ in their work and warns that an employee’s personal values and missions can become misaligned with the company’s goals once the company starts growing.

“If I am asked to do things outside of the boundaries with which I joined the company, suddenly I may be less committed to it. If employees have less of a connection with the tasks involved or when they take on too many new tasks, too fast then it creates job dissatisfaction.”

It is vital to have the right infrastructure in place to support employees during growth. If technology can be used to ease the strain of increased workloads, employees can even find themselves empowered by growth. They may, for example, find themselves working on a wider variety of tasks, working closely with leadership to drive growth, and gaining more access to corporate knowledge if their roles are facilitated by the right technology.

How can businesses reduce the ‘pain’ of growth and plan ahead?

Any big change in a business – especially a surge in growth – can be disruptive and can filter through the organisation. According to Morris, this collective expression of pain typically manifests as resistance or disengagement. But businesses can get ahead of this curve by planning for any potential problems and ensuring they have enough resources to cater to increasing demands by the workforce[1].

The Epicor survey findings revealed that the top two stimulants for growth are ‘technology leadership’ (40%) and ‘skilled workforce’ (39%). This can be a two-edged sword. Organisations that are stuck with legacy systems might find themselves falling behind, unable to adapt to new business processes, or meet the demands of employees who expect modern technology in order to do their jobs. On the other hand, the organisations that leap onto new technology, will find themselves ahead of their competitors, ready to embrace new challenges.

A key facilitator in managing this process smoothly is to make investments in the right technology as the “demand for quick communication and transaction” increases[2].

Many progressive businesses are already doing this – according to the Epicor research 79% of businesses have made or are making investments in integrated IT infrastructure. Increased data visibility, for example through the use of the latest enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions, can allow businesses to perform in-depth analysis of key KPIs, so that they can manage costings and profitability more confidently. Customer relationships can likewise continue to prosper during the growth period with agile and scalable ERP and manufacturing execution systems (MES) that meet their demands.

According to Morris, employees need “emotional support to withstand the pressures of growing.” He also recommends “fostering a robust culture so people can be resilient throughout the growth surge.” It’s clear that this culture can be more robust if people are supported by the technology they need to do their jobs. Although it seems counter-intuitive, e.g., deploying technology in support of an emotional challenge, investment in the right IT infrastructure is therefore essential, and will help maintain the emotional well-being of employees throughout this transitionary period.

[1] http://www.theguardian.com/small-business-network/2013/apr/22/growing-a-business-efficiently

[2] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sponsored/business/the-elevator/12095150/steps-to-business-growth.html

About the Author 

Sabby Gill - EVP - EpicorSabby Gill brings more than 20 years of international sales, operations and enterprise software industry experience to Epicor. In the role of executive vice president, International, Gill is responsible for operations including sales, professional services, and field marketing, with a focus on accelerating company growth throughout Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) and Asia Pacific (APAC).

Prior to Epicor, Gill was senior vice president of International Sales for IGT, a gaming technology company. He has also held executive management roles with leading technology companies including HP, CA Technologies, Oracle, PeopleSoft (acquired by Oracle), and DEC.


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