Category Archives: HR

5 Changes That Impact HR and Your Business

hrEvery year, the HR field goes through major transformations. From the rise of analytics to an increased emphasis on employee engagement levels, change is always taking place. In conjunction with the new presidential administration, an increasingly younger workforce and the introduction of new technology, here are five changes in HR that may impact your business this year:

1. Affordable Care Act

The Trump administration has repeatedly stated that it will repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare). Therefore, as an HR leader, you must stay up to date with the latest movements in the health care and insurance sectors. The plan to take its place hasn’t been clarified. Nor has the timeframe.

2. Overtime pay

In May 2016, President Barack Obama and Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez updated the DOL’s final rule regarding overtime regulations. This will extend overtime pay to an estimated 4 million workers within the first year of implementation alone. Prior to this motion, businesses did not have to pay overtime if their workers made more than $23,660 per year. This rule update raises the limit to $47,476 a year. This change may likely affect many employees at your organization.

There’s no word on whether the Trump administration will work to undo this law.

3. Minimum wage

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, yet 29 states plus the District of Columbia have a higher minimum wage than the national average. Many state and city governments are in the process of increasing or are debating increasing their minimum wage, which could impact your non-salaried workers.

Chances are likely this will continue to be driven by states, cities and counties.

4. Feedback, not reviews

With a younger workforce on the rise, many companies are doing away with the dreaded performance review. Instead, organizations are turning to continuous feedback, rather than only once or twice a year. As an HR leader, you may be responsible for reworking your existing performance review strategy this year.

Because more companies are looking to do away with reviews, there’s a need for a better audit trail in case you need to lay off or fire workers. In fact, as a best practice many companies institute an employee performance improvement plan with information about the steps the company has taken to help the employee.

5. Rise in technology for remote working

People want the option to work remotely and not be tied down to their desks. Many offices across the country are introducing video conferencing tools and work-from-home policies to improve workplace satisfaction levels and leverage innovative technologies. This is something to be aware of as an HR leader moving forward into 2017 as 60% of the workforce will be working remotely. And more HR departments are working with IT counterparts to help make this happen for their company, including assisting with internal communications plans to roll this out to employees.

5 Tips to Grow Your Business

As a small business, you may feel at a loss as to how you should effectively grow your operations. If you’re looking to expand or improve profit margins in the new year, here are five tips you might benefit from.

1. Simplify and reduce costs

Focusing your strategy, focusing on best-selling products, focusing on your target consumers … there are many ways to simplify your business to promote future growth. Reduce overhead costs and build up your core team in order to lay the firm foundation on which you hope to flourish. Costs can be associated with your outdated phone system to ineffective communications.

You can also simplify your employment strategy by hiring freelancers or giving up the office you don’t need, and the expenses, and enable your team to work remotely. Roughly $24 / month is easier to swallow than thousands for a downtown office. Reducing costs by simplfying is easier than you think.

2. Reach out to prospects and customers

how a business owner can grow a businessSuccessful marketing tactics revolve around meeting the average consumer where they are. And where most consumers are at is on social media. Build meaningful customer relationships online! Don’t forget a content marketing plan, including webinars.

3. Embrace data

Many small businesses are afraid of data-informed decision-making because they believe it’s costly or won’t support their specific needs. This isn’t the case, as many analytics websites are free or low-cost, such as Google Analytics. Start measuring your progress today!

4. Use video marketing

Most consumers would rather watch content than read it today, which is why video marketing tools are so integral for growing small businesses. If you want to stand apart from your competitors, put videos on your homepage, in your marketing emails, on your social media pages and on your blog.

5. Move to unified communications

Whether you move away from desk phones to enable mobile devices or upgrade your web and video conferencing tools, you need to unify and strengthen your business’s communication strategy. By choosing one vendor, you can save money while providing communications to your company.

4 Ways to Improve Communication Today

What’s the #1 issue that causes business failure? Miscommunication. That includes lack of communication, not providing enough or accurate information or just not understanding. It’s also costly. In fact, estimates are that miscommunication costs $37 billion every year. Ouch.

improve communicationWhether this is due to select individuals or a businesswide breakdown in communication, companies don’t have to settle for less when it comes to speaking with and engaging their employees.

After all, a Holmes Report study found that companies with excellent communication strategies experience 47 percent higher returns for shareholders, less employee turnover and more satisfied workers overall. So how can you improve communication at your company?

1. Restructure your hierarchy

Far too often, the main problem regarding poor communication at companies is select individuals who are bottlenecks. That means they don’t pass on important information. If you can, restructure or dismantle your current management hierarchy with leaders who value good communication and actively share information.

2. Lead by example

If you want your team to communicate better, change needs to begin from the top down. Lead by example if you want to create lasting change at your organization. Show your employees what is expected of them by consistently giving feedback, asking for it in return and keeping lines of communication open at all times.

3. Empower your people

Are there consequences for sharing bad news? Maybe that’s why there are communication gaps around the office. And really … would you rather not know bad news or know it and be able to do something? The consequences for not understanding bad news could be catastrophic for your business.

4. Have a communication strategy

So your company has poor communication. Do something about it! Funnel resources, effort and time into reinventing your company’s communication strategy. Your internal communications team, for larger companies, or HR department for smaller ones might be a good place to start. While it might be a challenging transformation process at first, the results will be incredibly rewarding.

A strategy includes having tools available to enable — not hinder — communication. The tools you choose should depend on your culture and what your people need as well as thinking through an array of tools.

Need more tips?

We have a plethora of resources available from general ideas about when to use email and meetings to active listening.

6 Things to Consider When Launching a Product

6 thing to know when launching a new productYou might be working on a product that you believe will be the next big thing in your particular industry. Congratulations! While you may have a great idea, you need more than that to be successful in a highly competitive marketplace. Therefore, here are six things to consider when launching your product:

1. Timing is everything

You want to start early preparing for a product launch, but also be careful about precisely when that launch will be. Analyze your market carefully to determine the right season to release your product to the public.

It sounds silly, but timing is everything. Think about when consumer companies announce a new product (like the iPhone). It’s usually before the Christmas rush, but in enough time for people to understand it and buy it.

2. Good branding is essential

Many consumers are highly visual people, which is why you want to ensure that your packaging and branding is appealing to the eye. Meanwhile, your product’s name should be catchy yet simple to promote good brand recognition.

3. Are you targeting the right consumer base?

Maybe you assumed your product would be best for a particular age group, but quickly discover it’s more well-suited for a different demographic. If this is the case, don’t force your product on a consumer base that doesn’t want or need your product. Roll with it and refocus.

4. How will you market it?

Maybe you will make use of social media marketing or prefer more traditional advertising approaches. Whatever the case, carefully strategize exactly how you plan to get word out about your product before the launch date draws near.

5. What about your competition?

You don’t want to release a product into an overcrowded marketplace unless you have something revolutionary to offer. Make sure you know what competition you’re up against and how you should best handle their competing sales.

6. Don’t forget to be patient

While you might be expecting a highly successful release, remain patient if this isn’t the case. Sometimes, good ideas and products take time to catch on and you need to remind yourself not to grow discouraged in the meantime.

Speaking … or writing … of new products. We know a lot about new products. This year, we’ve launched unified communications, our cloud communications offering called ReadyTalk Hosted Voice. We also launched our new replay feature with a platform, ReadyTalk Illuminate. FoxDen, a ReadyTalk product, continues to innovate and release new features. And we’re not slowing down. In following weeks, you can read from our product managers who make it all come to life. (They’re awesome.)

4 Ways to Keep the Holidays Merry … at Work

It’s no secret that the office can get a lot quieter over the holiday season. With holiday parties, vacation days and a general feeling of seasonal cheer, it can be difficult for many businesses to stay productive during this time. Despite this difficulty, it is possible to get things done without being a Scrooge.

1. Communicate

Many people take time off around the holidays to spend time with friends and family. While this may be normal, it doesn’t mean your office shouldn’t be upfront about communicating — including reminders about paid time off and asking people to communicate their schedules. It’s especially important in December with several main holidays in the same month. (Although communicating schedules, including time off, should happen all year long.)

keep the office merryOf course, if possible encourage people to stagger their time off or plan ahead if you know key figures will be out of the office at similar times.

It’s also more common in December for people to work remotely. Ensure your office has key information — your schedule and a mobile number. Of course, if your office has unified communications, those issues aren’t as urgent.

Also, ensure your company has online collaboration ability, like video and web conferencing.

2. Prioritize end-of-the-year projects

Though your office as a whole might not be incredibly busy, you still need to prioritize your important end-of-the-year projects or deadlines. It’s hard because it’s so easy to distracted. It’s also easy to let things slide into the new year, but make sure you don’t let holiday cheer keep you from doing what needs to be done. Besides, you don’t want to spend the holidays stressing over it.

3. Take care of yourself and ensure others do, too

Though it’s far too tempting to load up on eggnog, sugar cookies and rich holiday meals all season long, you need to take care of yourself as well. After all, if you’re eating more, exercising less and staying up later for holiday parties, you might get sick.

It’s not just about physical health, it’s about mental health, too. The holidays are stressful. Your schedule is full, but more is expected of you. Take a breather when you need it.

If you’re a manager or leader in your company, help your employees and co-workers as needed.

4. Embrace the holidays

All of the above is true … and yet ignoring the holidays won’t help either. It’s okay to slow down a little, just expect your productivity hits so you don’t over promise and under deliver.

This way, people can have their fun, but still know that they need to do their work.