Get set for 2016

Peter Crush

Monday 11 January 2016

Business is set to be busy next year, so get some of the difficult planning done early

1) Plan, plan, and then plan again

The New Year is a big one when it comes to requiring businesses to plan ahead. January tends to be the month where suppliers put their prices up, business taxes go up, and even staff will expect to have pay rise conversations. Firms will need to decide whether to control pay rises, try to increase productivity, or attempt to balance the books by cutting benefits/perks (with all the retention and staff engagement impacts these might have). Proper cash-flow planning will be needed to accommodate these concerns to enable businesses to see what solution best works for them.

2) Promise to make the customer king

The old adage the customer is always right is now more relevant than ever. If your organisation doesn’t have an insights analyst (taking a big-data approach to customer acquisition, retention and up-selling), perhaps now is the time to. “Insight professionals know customer problems are company opportunities,” says Ian McVey, UK manager at Qualtrics. “The time is right, because the technology with which to do so has never been so powerful or easy to apply.” He adds: “Voice of the Customer programmes are still in their infancy. Half are responsible for projects that have been running for only 1-2 years.”

3) Develop your talent – before they go somewhere else

For years staff have suffered either wage freezes or slow wage inflation, as well as extra work-load as organisations trimmed themselves back to the bone. “Employers need to start thinking about offering careers that are centred on continuous growth,” says Brian Kropp, HR practice leader at best practice and insight company, CEB. “A survey we conducted last month found 70% of employees say they are dissatisfied with their career opportunities. By providing better career opportunities organisations can reduce turnover by 33%. But remember, talent development means development across the whole age spectrum. Two-out of three people now expect to work beyond the age of 65 (source: Portus Consulting). Older staffs’ development needs differ from Gen Y’s.

4) Give your technology a spring clean

Bringing your cloud and collaboration technology up to date is what you need to do to improve your productivity. Internal social networks like Yammer, can transform connections between employees, by creating a place for instant-message-style chats, project management folders, and opportunities for internal training and knowledge transfer. Next year Office 2016 arrives. Its in-built cloud functionality allows users to store their work online and access it form anywhere. It also gives employees the freedom to share documents with multiple team members.

5) Love your staff – pep up your staff perks

If you can’t pay your staff more, perhaps you can up the ante on their perks. January is often when flexible benefits windows for staff can be bolstered with new cost-efficient options – like car salary sacrifice or Cycle to Work schemes (which are run through other suppliers at no cost to employers). “Employees looking for more money can be helped by a range of money-saving benefits that can be accessed through their current workplace,” says John Woodward, CEO of benefits provider, Busy Bees.

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