4 Latest Tech Gadgets to Help Your Business

Entrepreneurs and managers have been, in recent years, enabling their businesses to become more efficient with their scheduling and transactions by using new tech gadgets and other forms of technology. There is no longer the need for a small business owner to hire a big team of employees to keep up-to-date with their clients, maintain schedules, have answers to curious questions and more, when a piece of technology can do it all for them – especially if they have partners and clients who live abroad or on the other side of the country.

 

Therefore, businesses should consider adopting these four gadgets to become more efficient with their daily tasks and projects:

Google Home

Bluetooth speakers have revolutionized the way we listen to music, but the speakers lack intelligence and cannot function as an assistant. Google, unsurprisingly, has taken this idea of the Bluetooth speaker and transformed it into a smart speaker – Google Home. It’s not a smartphone; it’s a smart home control centre, an assistant, as well as a music/entertainment player and a task manager. Also, it can provide an answer to any curious questions.  It’s surprisingly inexpensive for a device that has so much built into it. It can be brought home for just $130.

 

ZutaLabs Pocket Printer

This is a great gadget to have when needing a printer on the go, and it’s a “lifesaver” when one brings the wrong document to a meeting or when adjustments to a business contract need to made. This printer is about the size of a computer mouse and fits nicely inside a pocket. Just lay the paper on a flat surface, place the printer on the top left of the page and press print; you can print up to an impressive 100 pages with just one cartridge. This pocket printer is available for pre-order for $199 but is expected to move up to $250 after its release.

 

Wearable technology

Wearable technology – specifically smartwatches – has been great for those who want to keep track of their fitness, heart rate and provide notification updates on the go without carrying around a smartphone. However, a smartwatch can have other functions that are beneficial for a small business. It helps businesses manage tasks, meet deadlines, schedule meetings/appointments and maintain their schedule. Smartwatches even come with a microphone built-in, so important meetings can be recorded and documented. There are multiple options in the markets. And yes, most of the smartwatches are compatible with both Apple iOS and Android. Just choosing one may take some research in order to understand the benefits of each one.

 

iTwin

At first glance of the iTwin, it looks as if it were a USB flash drive.  But, in fact, it holds no storage space. Rather, it connects two remote computers to each other by using “a pair of iTwin units.” It enables a business to share files in real-time as long as both computers have an internet connection. Indeed, it does the exact same job as a cloud service, but it has more security options. So, your documents are safer than they would be in a cloud. However, it is much more expensive than a free cloud service. You can buy a pair for $199.

 

M. Policicchio | DBPC Blog

How to Conquer Business Plateaus

Do you have a business that was launched with tremendous success and maintained a steady growth but despite a continuous flow of customers, lately seems to have become stagnant? If your revenue chart has flattened and your company is struggling to increase its monthly bottom-line, it has likely reached a business plateau.

 

Almost every business will reach a static period at some point but only businesses that are able to rise above and move forward will thrive.  When business growth levels off, many owners and leaders find themselves perplexed and unnerved as to what can be hindering further development. Often hiring more employees or increasing marketing efforts are the ‘go-to’ solutions for an easy fix. However, simple solutions such as these don’t effectively solve the problem. In order to create a more permanent solution that will push the company forward, it is vital to thoroughly assess the situation and determine the underlying cause for this lack in momentum.

First and foremost, assess current processes to identify inefficiencies. Are your employees overly occupied with manual tasks that are limiting their output or removing them from time that could be spent on sales? As businesses grow, simple tasks that may not have consumed significant time as a start-up may now be dominating periods that could be used more efficiently. If tasks that can be simple are involving too many steps, they may be creating inefficiencies. For example, when information is input in a database, it should be integrated with other databases so that it need not be entered more than once. If this is not occurring in all facets of your business, more automated systems could be beneficial.

Get motivated. When a business is launched, founders are typically very motivated to make the business thrive. This sense of enthusiasm usually trickles down to all levels of the organization, creating a culture of highly driven staff. Once the business becomes more established however, owners tend to decelerate their momentum which can cause a more laissez-faire attitude amongst staff. If this is the problem, then the same determination and drive that existed when the company began needs to be injected back into the culture.

Finally, constantly seek improvements. There is always room for improvement and if you don’t find it, your competitor will. When businesses experience steady growth and revenue is established, leaders may start to decelerate the pace at which they seek improvement – seeing that the processes they have implemented brought them growth in the past. When this happens, a business is more likely to reach a plateau. To avoid this, it is important for leaders to acknowledge that in order to maintain continuous growth, constant improvements must be made. No business will ever be perfect and strategies must incessantly be revaluated to keep up with the times.

 

Safiya | DBPC Blog

Photo credit: Aisyaqilumaranas

Considerations for Workplace Holiday Celebrations

When celebrating any religious holiday within a multicultural workplace, it is important to make participation optional. The decision-making process to celebrate this type of holiday should focus on ensuring that each individual beliefs are respected. Try to celebrate different types of festivities so everyone will feel included. Employees should not feel excluded if they choose not to participate due to their beliefs. Here are a few things to consider when celebrating office holidays:

Greetings – Try to avoid religious sentiments like “Merry Christmas” or “God Bless You” instead use generalized greetings, such as “seasons greetings” and “happy holidays”.

Decorations – These should be kept moderate and tasteful. Stay away from noisy singing figures and excess use of lighting this may be blinding, garish and not to mention distracting. Decorations for individual desks and cubicles should also be kept simple to avoid disturbing co-workers or overwhelming clients.

Music – Music should be tasteful and kept in the background, if used at all. This too should not be disturbing or distracting staff or clients.

Dress code – Multi-coloured sweaters with flashing lights and jingling Santa hats that light up can be overwhelming. Instead, select a theme for your office, such as “red and white” or a “touch of gold.” This way, everyone is co-ordinated and tastefully dressed.

Gifts – A gift exchange event such as secret Santa is fun. However, participation should be optional. It is polite to still offer non-participants gifts as well; this way they don’t feel forgotten. It is a season of giving and receiving.

While these considerations should place any workplace in good ethical standing for celebrating the holidays, there are a few situations where overkill is acceptable.

For example, if you operate a store where holidays (Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, etc.) are the core of business then you have free reign in the décor, music and dress code departments.

Celebrating the holiday within a multicultural workplace can sometimes be tricky. However, as long as we thoughtfully consider all staff members when planning celebrations, the holidays can be an enjoyable time for everyone.

 

Natasha | DBPC Blog

The Benefits of Investing in Continuing Education for Employees

As businesses continue to strategize about growing in size and strength, finding and retaining employees is a crucial factor. Many companies look at hiring staff as investing in their potential. An entry-level position, if the successful candidate should stay with the organization for many years, can yield significant long-term benefits for both parties.

Some staff may start out in one area of the company but find, through collaboration and osmosis, that they’re actually more interested in another. Rather than lose them altogether, allowing these workers to transition to other departments or roles in which they’d be happier can often benefit the business in the long run. Helping them with additional training and education can aid in this process.

Employee Growth

In ideal cases, companies can help their staff become more versatile and effective by supporting or reimbursing them as they take outside courses. A writer may become interested in graphic design by working closely with the design team on projects, or a clerk may want to help out with sales or finding new clients. While the person may have some of the skills required, taking specific courses or training related to this new field can make them much stronger in it.

Encouraging employees to enroll in related continuing education classes and funding them in the process can actually turn the employee’s position into a dual role. The employer may feel it necessary to increase their salary as a result, but the organization will still save money in the long run by having one person who can perform two different tasks, rather than paying two different people.

Funding Staff Training

As one of the biggest companies in the world, Amazon understands the value of helping its employees grow. The online retail giant funds degree and certificate programs for staff even in areas that are unrelated to its industry. Software firm Adobe offers its workers $10,000 annually for eligible education-related programs and materials, while online education software company Pluralsight reimburses staff up to $3,000 for “pre-approved college classes meeting specific grade requirements.”

Financial news provider Bloomberg and health-care company Kaiser Permanente also provide continuing education opportunities to employees, such as workshops and classes. PayPal offers a rotational education program for qualified candidates, and Microsoft reimburses its staff for courses and grants them access to the company’s own development classes, library, festival, and speaker series.

Investing in Employees

Not all companies excel at retaining employees once they hire them. However, making the company as appealing to work for as possible will help entice more people to stay with the organization. One way to help ensure staff don’t rush out the door for better opportunities is to contribute to their ability to improve themselves. While a company will often benefit from employees improving themselves, the individuals will not only feel a sense of personal accomplishment, but also gratitude towards their employer for investing in them. Some employees may feel increased loyalty to the company as a result; some may not. However, a successful company can afford to take the risk.

Offering incentives like continuing education and taking an active interest in employees’ long-term career development will encourage staff dedication and growth. While it may not always pay immediate dividends, this kind of investment in people is almost always worthwhile in the long run.

 

Robyn Naster Karmazyn | Contributing Writer

The Pros and Cons of Outsourcing

Third-party outsourcing is growing in popularity among big and small businesses alike. Outsourcing, or “contracting out,” refers to the practice of hiring a third-party to perform tasks typically done by in-house staff. Jobs affected range from customer support to manufacturing. Outsourcing was recognized as a business strategy in the late 1980s, and later became an integral part of international business economics throughout the ‘90s.

The most common tasks businesses choose to outsource usually fall into three categories: repetitive, specialized, and expert tasks. Repetitive tasks include data entry, specialized tasks comprise of jobs like IT support, and jobs such as financial analyst fall under expert tasks. One trait these jobs have in common is that it’s not necessary for them to be done in-house.

Businesses can lower labour and overhead costs substantially by outsourcing tasks such as bookkeeping, graphic design, and customer/technical support. Virtual receptionists can also be outsourced: a remote first point of contact that usually performs the tasks of trained customer support personnel – sometimes around the clock – without having to maintain a receptionist’s office.

You may have the skills in-house to do it all, but while you handle all the minute details on your own, you might not be able to concentrate on expanding the core areas of your business, which can hurt you in the long run. However, there are downsides to outsourcing as well. It all depends on the needs of your business.

 

PROS

Cost advantages

Perhaps one of the most obvious benefits to outsourcing is the savings. When you have a good outsourcing partner, you can get the job done at a lower cost, usually due to the difference in wages (since most of the work is done overseas where labour costs are much lower).

Increased efficiency

When you outsource certain work, you’re handing it over to someone experienced and with understanding of the job. This leads to an increase in productivity; you’re not just adding these tasks to the bottom of somebody’s to-do list within the office. Access to skilled resources also means faster and better services, depending on your outsourcing partner.

Focus on main goals

Outsourcing certain tasks means everyone in-house is free to focus on building your company and brand, as well as investing in research and development to take the steps necessary to expand.

Save on recruitment/infrastructure costs

Outsourcing cuts the need for investments in infrastructure since the responsibility of business processes falls on the partner. You can also avoid investing in expensive recruiting and training resources for your business.

 

CONS

Communication issues

A lack of communication between your company and the outsourcing partner may cause delay in the completion of projects or other issues. Different time zones could also contribute to communication problems.

Security risks

If you decide to outsource things like human resources, payroll, or recruitment, you risk exposing confidential information to a third party.

Shortcomings in expectations

If you don’t choose the right partner, it could result in delays and sub-standard quality in output. Add to that the difficulty of regulating these factors outside an office and it defeats the whole point of outsourcing.

No customer focus

Outsourcing partners may be doing work for multiple organizations, so they may not be completely focused on the requirements of your specific business.

Before approaching a service provider or outsourcing partner, it’s beneficial to consider all aspects of outsourcing, and whether your company is in a position to benefit from its services. Once you’ve analyzed your requirements and are confident you would benefit from outsourcing, you can move on to researching a suitable partner. Consider these six elements when searching: reliability, quality, experience, range of services, good communication, and value for money. Don’t just select one that provides the lowest cost. Choosing a successful vendor will lead to first-rate results and benefit your organization in the long run.

Helen Jacob | Contributing Writer

Recruiting Metrics Businesses Should Consider

Recruiting metrics are used to gather and analyze information to improve a business’ hiring process. Recruiters and stakeholders must remain aware of evolving trends to successfully manage turnover.

Sourcing Quality Hires

Recruiting managers are deployed to proactively leverage the sourcing channels used to hire quality recruits. Some of the most common sourcing channels include referrals, recruitment agencies, resume search, social media shares, notifications, career sites, and other job boards. To ensure recruiter efficiency, metrics and activities reported in a timely manner can identify potential problems and opportunities for improvement.

 

Pipeline Development

A key business goal is to develop a pipeline of quality candidates, which hiring managers can call upon when positions have to be filled. This facilitates easy tracking and monitoring of leads, while also managing traditional metrics, such as the Interview-to-Offer Ratio (the number of interviews to the number of offers extended) and Offer-to-Acceptance Ratio (the number of actual hires versus the hiring goal).

 

New Growth Attrition Rates

In some cases, more time is spent on replacing employees instead of growing the team. Some businesses experience higher turnover rates in particular industries, which can result in high vacancy rates. Lower turnover is a main indicator of the effectiveness of the recruitment process. It demonstrates that real value is being contributed to the growth and success of the business.

 

Performance Dashboards

To benchmark performance success, dashboards create a snapshot of key performance indicators for further examination and analysis. For instance, the amount of revenue generated is a clear indication of whether a growing organization should hire. They also act as a tool to measure productivity.

 

Candidate Satisfaction

Satisfaction ratings can provide essential feedback from new hires and employees who are seeking opportunities for internal mobility. From the candidate’s perspective, feedback from the interview process through post-recruitment surveys can influence the company’s recruitment strategy. The surveys can identify gaps in the recruitment process and provide critical information for the improvement of recruitment campaigns.

In the information age, many businesses have implemented software tools, such as the Human Resource Information Systems, which aid in facilitating easy review of pertinent human resources functions. Most importantly, this system software encompasses metrics for monitoring and tracking recruiting data. Success factors can be achieved when a business efficiently and effectively understands the benefits derived from making investments in the Human Resource Information System.

 

L. Chadee | Contributing Writer

5 Steps To Handling Criticism

Taking criticism is rarely easy and can oftentimes be downright unpleasant. But it’s a part of life, particularly in the workplace. To succeed in business – and life in general – you must be able to handle constructive criticism.

In an office environment, this can be feedback from a manager, a supervisor, a co-worker, or a colleague. Regardless of who’s giving it, constructive criticism is an important tool in any workplace, and how you handle it could very well determine the trajectory of your career, for good or ill. There’s no foolproof or guaranteed way to deal with criticism, but below are some steps to dealing with criticism in a positive and professional manner.

 

  1. Whatever Your Initial Reaction Just STOP

This is a tricky one, but it may also be the most important. A lot of times, when you’re being criticized, your first instinct will be to get defensive. Whatever your initial response is, do your best to stop it, immediately. Try to control your facial expressions and/or body language – no reaction is the best reaction – and don’t vocalize any knee-jerk quips or replies that pop into your head.

The natural human response to being attacked is to defend. But the absolute worst way to handle criticism is to attack the person offering it. Remember that criticism in the workplace is intended to help you improve, so don’t take it personally, and make yourself a silent promise to do better moving forward.

 

  1. Listen and Process the Criticism

Listen to what’s being said to you, rather than just reacting to it or getting defensive. Your boss (or colleague) is likely coming from a place of genuinely wanting to see you grow. Acknowledge the feedback (which is not the same as agreeing with it), and don’t look to lay blame or make excuses. Just take it in, and don’t interrupt.

Remember, evaluating staff is literally part of a manager’s job. Criticism is a crucial part of quality control in any business, and if you’re an employee who doesn’t handle it well, you’re marking yourself as a problem for management. Make it clear to your manager that you understand the criticism being offered, and pledge to improve your performance in that regard. Demonstrate an understanding of what needs to be improved upon and commit to making those improvements.

 

  1. Thank Your Critic

This may be tough for some folks, but it’s important. Taking criticism the right way has a lot to do with being a professional. Look your critic in the eye and thank them for the feedback. It shows that you’re a true professional, and it also shows that you acknowledge the time the other person took to share their thoughts and observations with you.

 

  1. Ask Questions

Now is the time for you to respond to the criticism, and a great way to do is to ask questions. Try to get to the centre of the issue at hand, and don’t focus on little details – it’s not a debate.

For example, if you’re being criticized for being too blunt with a colleague, ask if there was something specific that you said or did that was problematic, or if there are any other examples of that sort of behaviour on your part. It’s also crucial for you to acknowledge that you’re not disputing the feedback; in this example, admit that you could have handled the situation better, or that you wouldn’t necessarily appreciate being dealt with in that manner yourself.

Perhaps most importantly on this point, seek out solutions on moving forward. Ask for tips on how to deal with a similar situation in the future, or how to avoid a repeat incident. It shows that you’re sincerely engaged in the process and are making a true effort to improve.

 

  1. Follow Up

This last one is less crucial than the others, especially in a less formal constructive-criticism situation (e.g. from a colleague, rather than your manager), but in many situations dealing with constructive criticism, ask for a follow-up discussion. It will provide you with an opportunity to return to the issue, and for you to ask any more questions once you’ve had time to think about the feedback and truly process it, as well as think about solutions, and even ask others for advice. Once again, it shows engagement and a genuine desire to take in the feedback and improve your performance, which are traits that any manager would want in a member of their team.

It’s not always easy to hear constructive criticism, and for many managers, it’s not a lot of fun to give either. But this type of feedback is one of the best tools for improvement and development available to both managers and employees alike. Keep that in mind, and follow the steps outlined above, and you can become a better employee, colleague, and person.

 

Justin Anderson

 

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