With technology constantly innovating and changing, the traditional idea of what a workforce is has changed as well. The once traditional ideal of employees has shifted as technology has systematically changed the tools, practices and architecture of businesses. Therefore it’s important to recognize and accommodate this shift and innovation occurring in your workforce.
We at Quartet have listed 6 ways SMBs can prepare themselves for this change in the workforce below.
1. Truly flexible and remote work.
Technology has given employees the ability to work from anywhere and anytime. This is a major shift from the traditional ideal of having someone come into the office for 8 hours and then leave. Having the ability to work from anywhere in the world and at any time has allowed organizations and their workforce to make savings in infrastructure, transportation costs and increased productivity. Long gone are the days where you’re evaluated based on your appearance, but rather now on what you produce and work accomplished.
This is more common known as agile work and when combined with Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend allows a large part of your workforce to truly have the ability, resources and accessibility to work remotely and be more flexible than ever before.
The ability to truly work remotely and be flexible gives organizations the option to focus the majority of their resources and budget towards accomplishing their business objectives instead on infrastructure, equipment, and transportation costs. While their workforce are able to better manage their time and productivity, allowing them to adequately figure out and accomplish their projects and tasks, which differs wildly depending on their lifestyle and engagements. This also accommodates and makes room for parents who have kids and are unable to come to the office because of responsibilities or employees with sick parents or on maternity leave.
Accommodating and implementing different practices and tools to ensure your workforce is truly flexible and remote will be a tremendous benefit for any SMB looking to get a competitive edge in their industry. You biggest contributor to your business is always going to be your workforce and keeping up with the changing trends will ensure you attract and retain your most talented workers.
2. Technology has change the way we communication, collaborate and work.
Over the last few years technology has innovated and changed what it means to work and collaborate in the workforce. With new advances in communication tools such as smartphones, video, business VOIP, messaging and freemium services, there has been a fundamental shift on how we think about workflow and employee communication. This is compounded when we consider remote workers, outsourcers, improved operational techniques and agility, what it means to operate in the business world has changed for both employers and employees.
Therefore it’s important for every business to be aware of any new technology that could impact their communication within their business and make it better, but also take the time to implement and train their workforce on how to use any new technology.
Businesses have to be prepared to deal with and understand that they now have a wide range of workers who are diverse, have many different backgrounds and as such have varying degrees of experience with technology. Thus it’s important for businesses to ensure they’re getting a proper ROI to train their workers on how to best make use of any new technology.
In thinking about your workforce the fact that it now comprised of four different generations you have to segment and be able to adequately prepared and train your workers to learn and stay up to date on all your technology and collaboration techniques. This will ensure that you’ll have a knowledgeable workforce that are utilizing your technology to their utmost abilities.
3. Everyone is a teacher and a student.
With increased collaboration and new tools available, such as cloud sharing with office 365 and Azure, messaging and video tools, and now online universities, once entering the workforce your employees will continue to challenge themselves and learn on the job.
With access to resources such as Udemy, Coursera, and Khan Academy, your employees have access to a wealth of knowledge to increase their core expertise, broaden and deepen their current knowledge and help them branch off into unknown territories.
This means regardless of their previous experience and expertise, they are capable to learning new skills and knowledge that can help them do their job better and adds additional value to their business.
This changes the way IT support works, as no longer are employees constantly sending request for minor issues and are instead trying to troubleshoot figure out their problems on their own, leaving IT support to focus on more pressing concerns.
Running different workshops or teaching new skills to your workforce will enable any SMB to benefit from a more diverse and knowledgeable employees, which will ensure greater productivity, creativity and more communication and collaboration in the work place.
Additionally, this means that managers and executive staff will constantly be learning and on the ball as well. Performing leaderships or managements teaching session will help managers and executive staff do their jobs better and create an environment where constantly striving and learning will be fostered and encouraged, which will translate into a better educated and diverse workforce.
4. Freelancers, contractors and temp workers continue to dominant.
Only the last few years, the number of people who started freelancing, contracting or temping has increased dramatically. Close to a million workers are currently joining the freelancing community annually and has caused new independent contractor legislation to go into effect.
With no end to this new trend, this means as a SMB we’ll have a lot more diverse range to pick and find the best skills to complete and get a job done.
This will also change the way businesses will delegate and complete tasks and when combined with outsourcing can drastically change the way businesses think of their workforce, as you’ll no longer need to have a bloated staff and could only have a reduced workforce and outsource and hire freelances as you need depending on current demands. This will present SMBs will the opportunity to benefit from a broad range of skills and talent without barring any of the incurring expenses such as healthcare, insurance and infrastructure.
This will also make the acquisition of top talent easier to do for SMBS, as you’ll be able to properly determine and get a sense of a workers skills and talent as a freelancer before hiring them on full-time, allowing you to get a taste of what they can offer your company with the costly overhead of having to train them from the ground up.
Another interesting consequences of this is SMBs making use of experts and consultants. This will allow them to make use of expertise and talent without taking on any of the overhead costs of employing them, and consider the large growth of consultants in the coming years, this means SMBs can continual to find and make use of experts for a fraction of the price, leaving them with the budget and energy to focus on more pressing matters such as driving business objectives and goals.
5. More socially integrated workforce.
Let’s face it, social media now plays a large role in any business, such as improving brand awareness, participating in customer conversations, improving outreach, creating customer loyalty and retention. Having a workforce that knows how to navigate these social networks and properly utilizing them can be a huge benefit for any business. This is where your new workforce comes in.
Gen Yers, have grown up with social networks and are used to operating and using social networks to send messages, connect with peers and are the early adopters for any new social media outlet. This puts Gen Yers at the forefront of experimental social media and are the best references to help business use and take advantage of social media to drive their business forward.
This will also impact the way they think and function, as Gen Yers are used to the fully integrated and knowledge sharing domains of social media and will encourage and participating in reducing silos of information in any organization. They also are more inclined to crowd source tips and advice from their peers when in doubt or looking for a fix.
6. Customer conversations have changed.
The way businesses run and interact with their customers has vastly changed. Long gone are the days where customers had a hard time reaching out and engaging businesses, and had to come into stores and buy products.
With the introduction and rise of e-commerce and customer driven research, they are now in the driver seat of determining and figure out the best solutions for themselves.
This changes the entire ball game for businesses, as now they have to properly engage and create a space for this conversation to occur with them instead of their competitor, this means ensuring they have an adequate website and information about their products out, have proper website layout and are constantly putting out information about their industry to help their customers make their choices.
In addition, having a social media presence and ensuring it’s engaging and communicating with yours customer base, acting as a real-time mascot and face of their company is important to keep this customer engagement ongoing.
This shift has changed the way businesses operate, how they drive customer conversations, and think of customer retention and loyalty.
The days where you passively sit back and have customers come to you are long gone.
Although technology has changed the way your workforce operates, it doesn’t mean that change isn’t good. Making use of these tools, practices and strategies will not only help you understand and move your business forward, but ensure you’re doing it in the a way that helps your employees as well.