While productivity and profits should always be on your mind as a manager, things are changing at a more rapid pace than ever before. That’s why, in 2020, you really need to start looking at new ways to boost productivity, increase profits, and stay ahead of your competition. Turning your staff into experts with online training courses, understanding what employees want, and getting your head around new technology are all going to play a big part in your success.
What Has Changed?
It may be easier to look at what hasn’t changed, such is the rapidly evolving Australian business landscape. One thing becoming a major priority for businesses is employee engagement. A Gallup poll has found that teams with engaged staff have greater productivity, better retention and even a 21% higher profitability. The top two effects of staff disengagement are a decrease in productivity as people do less work, and they also care less about the quality of their work.
Coupled with these findings, according to research firm Randstad, 54% of Australians consider work-life balance to be the most important employment factor. That’s even above salary. Also, 30% of Australians said they were considering changing roles in the next year. This is a huge difference to the days where staff would remain with their employer for decades. Attracting and retaining top talent is huge for businesses in 2020.
Then there’s the technology side of things. Cloud computing, eCommerce, chatbots, digital marketing strategies – it can feel overwhelming to keep up. However, the businesses who continue to succeed will be the ones who embrace change most effectively.
Let’s look at 5 ways you can boost productivity and increase your profits in 2020.
Migrate to Cloud Computing
What is Cloud Computing?
We’ve all heard about ‘the Cloud’, and many of us have even been scared away by the thought of having our data stored out there in cyberspace. The reality however is many companies are now turning towards cloud computing specifically for the safety aspect.
If you’re currently using internal servers to store all of your company data, cloud solutions really aren’t that different. Think of it as one giant server that exists in cyberspace. Not only is it a way to store data, but also accessing and collaborating on work. Systems and data stored on cloud services can be accessed by multiple users, meaning greater and more effective access.
Why Move to Cloud Computing?
Firstly, security. Most cloud services operate from physical data centres somewhere in the world. Often, in many different parts of the world. These facilities contain the servers where your data is held, and they’re usually locked up like Fort Knox. Millions is spent on cybersecurity as well as physical security to keep your systems and data safe. Take the data centres for Microsoft’s Azure cloud service for example. You’d have better luck wandering into the White House and taking a nap in the president’s bed than gaining unauthorised access to a Microsoft data centre. In comparison, if your single internal server fails, you could be faced with an operational nightmare.
Secondly, access to your systems and data is so much easier. Examples you may have heard of are Google Drive, Dropbox or OneDrive. These services make it easy to share information and even work collaboratively on documents at the same time. Other types of cloud computing solutions allow absolutely everything to be held securely online, and remain easily accessible – even the programs and databases you use every day. For productivity, cloud computing is certainly the way forward.
We live in a highly digital age now, so when we talk about going paperless, we don’t just mean saving money on paper. Of course, a paperless office is good for the environment. Sustainability is a big thing for consumers now, so making changes like this are ultimately going to garner some support amongst your customer base. But there’s a lot more to it than that.
A paperless office is usually a far more productive office. Imagine you’re a company with several employees. Let’s think of a construction company that has several staff, maybe even working at different sites around the country. Many such companies still operate with paper time sheets.
In this scenario, staff spend time filling out their timesheets. These are then sent to head office to be checked by payroll staff. The sheets are then inputted into a computer system, and payroll can occur. Using an app or better software could drastically reduce the manual work required for a large payroll process and also minimise the risk of human error. By removing double handling of data entry, payroll requires less staff, who could be put to better use in other parts of the business.
The same goes for purchase orders, invoices, tracking documents. There are so many digital solutions out there that can save you time, and therefore money.
Invest in Microsoft Office Training for Staff
Most businesses around the world use Microsoft Office for at least some part of their daily operations. As such, you want your staff to be getting the absolute most out of these programs. Let’s face it, these are powerful software tools that can be used for a lot more than writing letters and basic spreadsheets. But do your employees really know how to harness them to increase productivity?
You can find all sorts of Microsoft training courses that may only run for a day – but each course will give your staff new skills. If it’s too hard to organise your staff to leave the office, why not consider some Microsoft courses online? There are virtual classrooms available, meaning your employees can study from their desk, flexibly and easily. In a busy world, online training courses just make good business sense.
Not only will it boost their skills, but it also shows you care about their professional development. This goes a long way towards staff retention in such a competitive employment market.
Allow Flexible Working Conditions
As we mentioned before, work-life balance is a key factor in keeping staff engaged. When it comes to allowing flexible working conditions, you need to find the right balance. The employee market is competitive, and in recent years we’ve seen a shift in thinking. No longer are people simply grateful to have any job that pays the bills. Now, they want real job satisfaction, and they’re willing to move around to find it.
This doesn’t mean you bend over backwards and give staff everything they want. However, if flexible working conditions can be arranged, then why not? Whether it be allowing people to work from home, or offering a 9-day fortnight for working longer hours, there’s plenty of things you can consider. As long as they don’t significantly affect daily operations, you should approach flexible working suggestions with a ‘Yes’ first attitude. For example, parents with young children may strongly benefit from working shorter hours in the office so they can get the kids to and from school, but then make up the time working from home later in the day.
Get creative, look after your staff, and keep the top talent working for you instead of your competitors.
Business Process Automation
We touched on looking for productivity increases by going paperless earlier. Remember the example about the manual data entry of paper timesheets? Going a step further, business process automation is now becoming hugely important for businesses looking to do more with less. This might be anything from integrating the systems you use for daily operations like sales, orders and invoicing, right through to installing a customer relationship management (CRM) system.
A CRM allows you to automate a range of advertising and marketing tasks, looking after each customer’s experience without lifting a finger. This is just one example, but if your staff are spending a lot of time on tedious, mind-numbing tasks, it’s possible there’s a process automation solution out there. This can reduce your overheads in terms of staff time, meaning you may be able to reduce wage costs or move staff into more value-adding roles.
As we move into 2020, the time to start boosting your productivity is right now. Everything from the business landscape, employee expectations and the way specific industries operate is changing. Do you want to be ahead of the curve, or fall behind your competitors? Whether you’re considering Microsoft courses online or a whole revamp of your business systems, don’t delay. Strategize for the future now, and ensure you keep ahead of the game and continue to increase your profits in 2020.