The following is a guest blog by Madison Davis. Madison is a recent graduate who received her MBA in business management, Madison shares tips on finance,management and hiring the perfect employees.
The year 2013 started off with a thud for a vast majority of small business owners. A tax increase from 35 to 39.6 percent was implemented for anyone making over $400,000 annually, which especially effects S-corporation partners. Several small business owners say they’ve been forced to lay off or terminate employees to make up for the shortfall. However, there are several strategies CEOs are embracing to not only to save jobs, but boost company profits at the same time.
Work From Home Opportunities
Despite the new rules at Yahoo, More than 50 percent of information technology workers are nowworking from the comfort of their homes, according to a 2011 Microsoft survey entitled “WorkWithout Walls.” While many CEOs still see telecommuting solely as an employee benefit, MicrosoftCorporate Vice President Ron Markezich told Govtech.com that telework is “becoming imperative.”The survey found that worker productivity and morale increased, diversity increased, and overheadcosts for businesses dropped when employees worked remotely. James Sinclair, founder of OnsiteConsulting, a hospitality consulting firm, told Microsoft that he and his employees are making moremoney because they can now work on-location with potential clients.
Employers and employeesdisagreed on how much of their work time should be done remotely. Employees said nine days permonth, while business owners thought four days was adequate.
The term “outsourcing” has developed a negative connotation in American vernacular, but it doesn’t always have to mean what you think it does. 78 percent of companies say they will integrate more cloud technology into their own business in 2013, according to a survey by OneLogin, an industry leader in cloud-based identity management. Clouds are services— such as remote hard disk storage and remote network administration— that are outsourced to another company. This can eliminate the need for, among other things, an expensive on-the-premises server and air conditioning to keep it cool.
The companies that embrace these new technologies or develop their own are the ones that will the most profitable going forward. Brian Ferdinand, President and Co-Founder of Liquid Holdings, a stock and commodities trading firm, has been successful because his goal has always been to stay ahead of the curve on technology solutions.
The relatively new phenomenon known as BYOD, or “bring your own device,” has steadily picked up steam as a cost-saving and morale-boosting strategy for small businesses. 89 percent of IT personnel form small and medium businesses said they support implementing or strengthening BYOD policies at their company, according to a survey by Cisco. The obvious and immediate benefit to CEOs is the fact they would no longer have to foot the bill for office computers. Some companies have been hesitant to adopt BYOD policies, however, due to security of confidential and proprietary company information.
Whatever the measures, small companies are finding creative solutions to stay in business and be profitable despite the new taxes they have to deal with now and those that will kick in in 2014.
Prior to the advent of the Internet, internal business communication typically meant inter-office memorandums and lengthy business meetings. External business to business communication involved face to face meetings or impersonal letters. Oftentimes, when dealing with customers business owners and managers utilized form letters or telephone calls. With the boom in social media, business communication and creative freedom among these parties have changed dramatically.
Rather than depending on memos that may be misinterpreted, or spending hours in lengthy meetings, company managers can set up an online conference call. This medium allows for nearly unlimited attendees to be involved. Systems that utilize live chat are often used for these types of meetings, making real-time connections a snap. These types of tools are valuable to guarantee that everyone has an opportunity to participate and to ask questions when there is any uncertainty. Whether staff members are in the same office, work at home or are half-way around the world, these tools bring them into the discussion.
Business to Business
Dealing with other business owners whether they are suppliers or vendors has always been a critical component of a successful business. The use of social media has increased to provide up-to-date information on specials, new products and potential problems. In addition, businesses often make use of social media to compare how they are doing versus their competition. Gauging the competition’s performance and finding ways to counter with unique ways to gain customer response, social media is connecting businesses on multiple levels.
Business to Customer
The true value with chat lies with the communication abilities between clients and potential clients. While clients may find a business through their Facebook page, their LinkedIn page or through Twitter, it is likely that they will have questions. Once the client or potential client goes to a company website, they are searching for information, answers and potentially to purchase a product or service.
Fortunately, social media helps develop a company brand, aids in marketing and provides a great opportunity for answering questions and solving problems. Today’s business owners and managers are far more connected than they were a mere 10 years ago. The most significant benefit that social media has offered is the ability to communicate in real time with staff members, sales forces and, more importantly, with customers.
Engagement + Sales= Satisfaction
Social media engagement offers a potential for greater sales, higher levels of customer satisfaction and an all-around better customer experience. Business marketing may be enhanced with a strong social media marketing plan. Consumers continue to be more connected than in the past, allowing businesses to take advantage of social media for reaching out to new clients. As more consumers turn to friends and family members for recommendations and become more “connected” through the use of smartphones and tablets, more businesses will find that social media is one of the more effective means of communication.
Businesses must be certain, when using social media, that they are controlling their message. In addition, businesses must be willing to address negative comments and reviews in order to protect their brand. While the additional burden may seem onerous, in the long run businesses that take full advantage of social media for communications will likely thrive in the age of Internet communications.
Guest Blogger – Richard Phillips: With 20 years in project management, Rick took an early retirement from corporate America to work from the comfort of his home office. He is a consultant for mid- to large-size corporations and guest posts for project management blogs.
Last week Mott Coaching Guest Blogger Alan Bryan posted that businesses can drive success when they tie salaries and bonuses to performance.
There are several good arguments for this practice. My caution, however, is that in many instances the value of an employee may be as much in the un-measurable, human merits such as being a respected team player, cheer-leader, and valued by other employees, as the “exceeding expectations” realm. And, I would argue, are also responsible for driving a company’s success.
As suggested by Bruno S Frey, Margit Osterloh, two leading economists: “Pay-for-performance tends to crowd out intrinsic work motivation and the joy of fulfilling a particular task. However, such motivation is of great importance in a modern economy because it supports innovation and helps to fulfill tasks going beyond the ordinary.
Recognition by co-workers is greatly important. Many workers are intrinsically motivated, i.e. they perform work for its own sake because it is found challenging and worth undertaking. This applies not only to qualified employees but also to persons fulfilling simple tasks. They often are proud of their work and performance”
Pride of its employees is frequently as valuable to a company’s success as meeting the goals. Difficult to measure but important to recognize.
Some of the problems with performance-related pay include:
• How performance is measured and whether an employee has done enough to be rewarded
• Rewarding employees individually discourages teamwork
• Unhealthy rivalries are fostered
Most of us want to be recognized and rewarded for our efforts. This includes those who may not “exceed expectations” on the checklist, but have made the workplace a desirable place to work.
Alan Bryan – Guest Blogger
All companies need to grow and change if they wish to move forward. Part of change is finding strategies that will allow a company to align corporate goals and employee expectations . Employers must have some sort of evaluation tool that allows management to evaluate employee performance, based on company goals.
One of the most effective way to accomplish this is by using software that helps companies to establish goals, manage performance reviews, observe employee strengths and weaknesses, and see improvement from previous reviews. Tools such as Cornerstone OnDemand succession planning are also useful for determining which employees are best suited to leadership roles. These types of performance management tools position companies to align long-term business goals with employee activity.
5 Phases of Performance Management:
1. Planning: Employee productivity starts with a good job description. To be optimally effective, it should identify all of the essential duties an employee will perform. The description should provide a timetable for the completion of specific tasks, and clarify the required job qualifications. Salary should be specified, and the employee should be made aware of any provisions for pay increases and job advancement. The planning phase also involves creating an overall strategic plan designed to clarify the company’s direction and end goals. This part of the plan is fluid, and may change every few years as the company moves closer to achieving its goals.
2. Development: In this phase, a company is responsible for creating performance standards and job-specific instructions, so that employees will understand how to meet or exceed employer expectations.
3. Monitoring: Company management observes the employee in order to provide feedback about job performance.
4. Rating: Evaluation is arguably the most crucial aspect of performance management. These evaluations guide employers and managers in improving employee job performance.
5. Development Planning: A successful development plan advances company goals and improves the overall quality of employee work performance at the same time. To accomplish this, supervisors must encourage professional growth and continued learning, while helping workers elevate their job performance.
The overall purpose of performance management is to elevate the quality of a company’s workforce, increase expectations and standards of employee performance, and ensure job satisfaction. Managers like yourself must develop a level of expertise and professionalism that is beneficial to the employee, as well as the company.
Alan Bryan was raised in Silicon Valley and is a business journalist. This is his “take” on monitoring employee performance. Ruth has a different perspective and will BLOG about that next week!