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8 Ways to Improve Your Workplace in the New Year

Business.com 8 Ways to Improve Your Workplace in the New Year Many of us begin the new year with the best of intentions and a host of resolutions because we value the opportunity it presents to start anew. If you run a business, the new year is the perfect time to re-engage your workforce and improve your workplace. To help you find compelling ways to reinvigorate your business, Business.com has compiled a list of strategies and best practices offered by a diverse group of entrepreneurs and business experts. These tips may be just what you need to tackle the roadblocks of the past and reimagine your business's future. Regularly seek feedback Most business leaders talk about the value of getting to know what their employees really think. Very few actually make the effort to gather this insight. One of the best ֠and simplest ֠ways to do this is just to ask your team what they need from you. "Good leaders want to know how they can serve their teams better. They don't guess or speculate," said Dr. Randy Ross, CEO of Remarkable! and author of the Relationomics: Business Powered by Relationships (Feb. 5, 2019). A survey can also be used to gather employee feedback and learn what areas of the business need improvement as well as what works. Companies can use software products that send and manage surveys so they can collect instantaneous information about employee satisfaction, according to Nazim Ahmed, CEO andযunder of WorkshopX . "With real-time input, we can get to core problems and make೵re issues don't get too big to fix. Having this type of connection to७ployees ... allows you to make sure you are nurturing aਥalthy work environment and, ultimately, getting the best out of your team," said Ahmed.༯p> Another way to connect with employees and solicit their feedback, especially in companies where work is becoming more fluid and employees may report to different managers throughout the year, is to set up mentoring relationships between top employees and senior executives, suggests Carlos Castelᮬ managing partner and founder of The Navio Group . Employees strengthen their skills through regular meetings and one-on-one coaching, but they also have a direct link to company leaders with whom they can share ideas, worries and insight into company culture. "This helps keep employees engaged and allows executives to understand any concerns that may arise so they can be proactively addressed," saidástelᮮ Be more flexible Make this the year you take a step back and give your employees a little more freedom, both in when they work and how they work.༯p> Having more autonomy in the workplace can be a game changer, according to Alex Strathdee, solutions consultant at Appian , co-author of Experience Over Degrees (2018) and co-host of the PracticallyСssionate podcast.࢏ne of the most impactful traits௦ any company that is able to maintain a low turnover is the ability for෯rkers to be in control of their own decisions," said Strathdee. Strathdee acknowledges that is not always easy to loosen the reigns, but it can be done with a little planning: "The path toward this෩ll include taking a step back as an employer and asking 'What tasks canɠmeasure by the end result but leave the process for getting them done upയ the employee?'"༯p> Additionally, in an increasingly connected world, a good portion of work can be doneলom any location so it's possible to give employees some latitude in shaping their work schedule. "While office face time is still critical, providingবexibility can be incredibly helpful and dramatically increase your७ployee happiness and productivity," said Shari Buck,࣯-founder and chief product officer of Doximity .༯p> Instituting flexible work policies that allow for staggered start and end times, compressed work weeks, telecommuting, and a host of other arrangements show employees that you understand and appreciate their efforts to balance all aspects of their lives, according to Buck, whose own employees all work from home one day a week. Buck explained, "A meeting-free day in your࣡lendar is a great time to tackle long writing projects, crank through aࢡcklog of emails or get to that dentist appointment you've been putting௦f." Invest in education Make it your business to know your employees' career goals and provide them with the education and training opportunities they need to reach them. Better educated employees are more loyal, confident, engaged and empowered to work more independently. Therefore, explore the sort of professional development opportunities your business is equipped to provide. This can range from online training, conferences, workshops and employee lunch and learns to funding the completion of certification or degree programs at higher education institutions.༯p> Investing in your employees is about much more than increasing their skill base. It's also about demonstrating to them that you care about their growth as individuals. The hope is that your investment, in turn, will help reignite employees' commitment to your business and reenergize company culture. "Ultimately, people are the greatest reflection of your brand. When organizations fail to invest heavily in their people, they run a substantial risk," said Ross. "Invest in your people so heavily that they become equipped to go anywhere and be successful. And love them so deeply that they would never want to leave. Then you will have a workforce that will strengthen your brand in the market and engender customer loyalty." Get serious about gender equality A lot of companies think of themselves as inclusive workplaces but haven't really taken concrete steps to confront unconscious gender bias in their organizations. And, with only 25 percent of senior business roles being held by women worldwide, this is clearly still an issue in most companies. Now is the time for your business to work toward achieving gender parity by re-evaluating its policies, practices and institutional norms. There are many small and large steps you can take to move your business in the right direction in this area, from making sure all your employees have the same access to opportunity, coaching and mentors to auditing payroll to ensure all employees are being paid fairly and equitably for their work. Additionally, you can encourage gender-blind decision-making in your organization, assign men their fair share of office housework , and help relieve the unfair burden women feel outside of work by offering employer-sponsored child care, generous parental leave, and flexible work schedules. Another key component of creating a more equitable workplace is to address sexual harassment immediately and provide resources to your staff so if they witness inappropriate behavior they have the tools needed to respond to the situation appropriately. "Train your employees in bystander intervention so they feel empoweredയ step in when they recognize a potentially harmful situation," said̡uren Slemenda,ଥad consultant with༡ href="https://www.linkedin.com/company/outsidethecircle/" target="_blank">Outside the Circle Consulting. Create a pleasing office environment It doesn't matter what line of work you are in, it's easier to be your best in an environment that is comfortable, functional and aesthetically pleasing. Therefore, take the time in the new year to find ways to improve your office space and help employees feel better about a place many of them may consider a second home. "With increased urbanization, interconnection and technological stimulation,ੴ has never been more important to prioritize the personal well-being (bothనysical and mental) of your employees," said Jessie Moore of Uncommon . "Given that we spend the majority of௵r waking hours at work, it would be irresponsible to neglect this aspect௦ working life." Moore recommends creating quiet, meditative spaces within the larger office awayলom noise and screens, usingబants to improve air quality and bring in the outdoors, and opening the office up to natural light. "Even introduce some soothing scents such as jasmine or cinnamon that Šimprove memory retention and concentration," added Moore. ༯p> Additional upgrades include decluttering the office, painting it a soothing color, improving the lighting, adding a snack cabinet or espresso machine, or letting employees personalize their workspaces. But regardless of the changes, including employees' input in the process is key. "When it comes to making changes in the workplace, my main priority is to protect employee productivity and strengthen team morale," said Lauren Izaks, COO and executive vice president of All Points Public Relations , whose own office recently underwent a renovation. Izaks recommends including employees in the renovation discussions to ensure that changes to the space reflect their needs. "For me, it's about listening to my employees' concerns ... and genuinely caring about their happiness. Plus, as most leaders know, it's important to facilitate any officewide change with a sense of transparency," said Izaks. Say goodbye to negativity Every business owner or manager has had to deal with a Negative Nelly or two in the workplace. You know who these people are from a mile away and so do your other employees. Employees with a poisonous attitude suck the air out of a room, destroy morale among your other workers and negatively impact your vendor and customer relationships. To save your sanity ֠and your workplace ֠you need to know when to terminate negative employees. "Just one toxic person can really wreak havoc on the other people working around them," said Danielle Kunkle, co-owner of Boomer Benefits . "Don't be afraid to let that person go and find a team member with a positive attitude who works well with others." At times, you may be apprehensive about confronting difficult employees, but avoidance only lets the problem fester. It's time to sever your ties with the employee if you've provided the training and guidance needed to correct the behavior, documented any infractions, and clearly outlined the consequences they would face for failing to make appropriate changes. And once it's all said and done, you'll be glad to have cleared out the toxicity from your workplace. "It may cost you some time in training, but you'll never regret the difference in the atmosphere that single change can make inside your office,"ೡid Kunkle.༯p>Give back Corporate philanthropy is good for business, but it's also good for the soul,೯ make an effort to feed your employees' spirits in the new year by creating opportunities for them to engage in meaningful charitable work. "Use the success of your business to bring good into the world and your team෩ll benefit too," said Buck. "Providing service opportunities orഡiloring operations around an important cause is an incentive for all to෯rk hard and be happy while doing so," added Katherine Daniel, director of people operations for N2еblishing . If this is already part of your company culture, you may want to consider strengthening your efforts or finding innovative, new ways to draw in your employees and serve the communities you've decided to support. But if your organization is new to civic engagement, know there are tons of ways to integrate it into the fabric of your workplace. Companies looking to do good can donate to charitable efforts, organize companywide volunteer days, offer paid time off for service work, match employee donations to charity and encourage employees to serve on boards of nonprofits or contribute their professional skills in other ways to organizations they value. Providing employees with pathways to service not only does a lot of good for the community, but it improves morale, boosts company pride, provides leadership opportunities for your team members and creates goodwill toward your organization.࠼/p>Bring on the fun You want people to look forward to coming to work and enjoy spending their day with each other because when people are happy, they tend to do a better job. One way to accomplish this is by making employees' work lives a little more fun and a little less stressful. "In this way, camaraderie andഥamwork get boosted," said Cedrick Capati, online PR specialist with Spiralytics .༯p> What constitutes fun will look different from one workplace to the next. Take the time to get to know your employees and get a sense of what they actually appreciate and enjoy. Some of the more typical options include allowing employees to bring their dogs to work (at least occasionally), using gaming to help everyone unwind, celebrating birthdays and other milestones, enjoying an adult beverage or two on a Friday afternoon or blasting everyone's favorite music on any given day for a quick singalong. Another way to encourage creativity and motivate employees is to create friendly office competitions. "Competition is a great motivator as well as a team-building opportunity," said Matt Edstrom, CMO of GoodLife Home Loans . "Incentivize employees for these competitions by having prizes that your employees will genuinely want to work for." more info... The Pros and Cons of Borrowing from Your 401(k) Plan It's not unusual to think about borrowing from your 401k plan when you run into a financial challenge. By some estimates, nearly 30 million Americans have tapped their retirement savings early, according to financial security expert Pamela Yellen , founder of Bank On Yourself.༯p> "The 401(k) has replaced our homes as our piggy banks. And a very pricey piggy bank at that," Pamela says. "Just because you࣡nഡke a premature withdrawal or a loan from your 401(k) doesn't mean it's a good deal. There are many strings attached to it, including how much you can borrow, what you can borrow it for, and how and when you mustడy it back. And if you leave your job for any reason, you'll typically have to pay the loan back in full, with interest, within 30 to 60 days, or you'll owe taxes and penalties."༯p> Looking for the right employee retirement plan for your small business? Fill out the form below and our vendor partners will reach out to you with more information.༯p> ༯div>Cons of borrowing from your 401(k) One of the biggest disadvantages that participants face when taking a loan from a retirement plan is that the dollars used to pay the interest on the loan from the account are taxed twice. According to Lloyd Sacks, managing director of༡ href="https://sacks-associates.com/" target="_blank">Sacks & Associates,࡮d a certified financial planner professional, the first tax occurs when the participants earns the funds and pays income tax on that earned income.༯p> "Then after-tax dollars are paid to the plan for the loan," he says. "Here is where the second taxation happens: The contributions that are used to pay for the loan interest do not create basis within the qualified plan and will be taxable again when the funds are distributed, generally at retirement. This is a consequence of taking a plan loan that is often overlooked, not only by participants of 401(k)s, but also by financial planners advising their clients."༯p> Sacks believes that a home equity line of credit (otherwise known as a HELOC) is a better alternative than borrowing against your 401(k). "If you have available equity in your home, you may be able to take a loan from your home's equity to qualify for your loan. The loan interest for a HELOC may be tax deductible; therefore, from a personal finance perspective, this is much more advantageous to an individual," he says.༯p>Pros for borrowing from your 401(k) According to David Bakke, personal finance expert at Money Crashers , one of the main pros of borrowing from yourര1(k) planੳ that it gives you access to the resources you probably need to solve your short-term঩nancial஥eds.༯p> "There are a few bright sides," he says. "Such loans do not generate income tax or other penalties, provided you pay the loan off on time. The application process is rather simple. Plus, you can borrow money from your plan for anything that you want ֠there are no restrictions in this area. And 401(k) loans usually come with interest rates that are less thanࣲedit cards, which is a factor when determining your options."༯p> Amanda Palumbo, a researcher for Chambers of Commerce , said that other pros include having no official loan application, no credit check and that the money can be obtained rather quickly. "And don't forget that interest rates for this type of a loan are typically lower than any interest you might find with a credit card or a personal bank loan," she says. [Interested in employee retirement plans ? Check out our best picks.]༯p>Bottom line Robert R. Johnson, professor of finance at Heider College of Business, Creighton University, and the author of numerous financial planning books, including Investment Banking for Dummies , believes that people who want to borrow from their 401(k)s should recognize that there likely are other options, like delaying the purchase of a new home or car, for instance.࠼/p> "One of the biggest behavioral biases that humans succumb to is the bias toward immediate gratification over delayed gratification. That is, our present selves tend to win over our future selves," he says.༯p> If [you are] borrowing from your 401(k), it is extremely important to understand the rules and ramifications of your decision. Although this may seem like the quickest and easiest way to access cash when you need it, the long-term consequences are often misunderstood and can be severe. more info... 3 Tips to Start Live Video Marketing Live video is a great way to showcase your brand and its mission to your audience while communicating with them in an authentic way. It takes away the frills that come with pre-recorded video: editing, rehearsing and publishing after careful review. Perhaps thatҳ why 80 percent of users prefer watching live video over reading a companyҳ blog posts, according to Livestream. Itҳ no secret that live video is gaining enormous popularity. On average, viewers spend at least eight times as much time ௮ live video than on-demand. Facebook shared in a blog post that people are three times more likely to watch a video if itҳ live. The demand for livestreaming isnҴ going anywhere. Why use live video? Itҳ an instant, easy way to communicate with viewers. It shows authenticity. You can market your products and services. You get to know your customers in an intimate, personal setting. Ask them questions about themselves. Get feedback on what could be improved. It increases revenue. According to a survey by Animoto , 76.5 percent of marketers said video had a direct and positive ROI on their business. Clearly, live video has its benefits. If youҲe new to live video marketing , here are three tips to get started so that your business can expand. 1. Outline your livestream Thereҳ no room for embarrassing mistakes, long pauses of awkward silence or mumbling when broadcasting live video. If thereҳ a mishap or malfunction, your audience will see it. If the problems persist, theyҬl exit fast and move on to the next thing. Thatҳ why itҳ so important to plan ahead of time. Ask yourself how much benefit your business will receive through livestreaming. Will it boost engagement with viewers? Does it encourage them to buy your products and services? Is it being shown to the right audience? How does it showcase your brand and its mission? Itҳ important to outline the general information of your live video before you get started for as few mishaps as possible. Who will be on the livestream? What will be the subject matter? Why is this live stream being created? When will it be broadcasted? 2. Be authentic A huge reason people are more attracted to live video is that it shows authenticity in a way other channels and mediums canҴ. You canҴ feel emotion the same way through a text post. You canҴ read facial expressions through a podcast. Only livestreaming lets viewers see and hear things exactly as they are in real time without any frills or ruffles. According to Stacklaҳ 2017 Consumer Content Report, 86 percent of consumers consider authenticity important when deciding what brands to support. With the same report concluding that less than half of brands create content thatҳ meaningful to consumers, itҳ essential your live video brings something genuine to the table. There are several ways your brand can be more authentic toward its viewers through live video: Behind-the-scenes footage Demonstrations of your products Introduce members of your team Broadcast live events Q&A session Giveaway All of these are ways for viewers to not just watch whatҳ happening at the company, but to interact with it directly and feel like part of the experience. 3. Use the right tools In Livestreamҳ report about live video , 67 percent of viewers consider video quality the most important factor when watching a live broadcast. Things like long buffer times, failure to load properly and auditory and visual malfunctions are sure to frustrate viewers and encourage them to bounce off your livestream. You can prevent these things from happening by having the right tools handy. For starters, you want to record in a location with an ample amount of lighting. Test your camera in different areas inside and outside to see what gives you the best viewing experience. YouҬl likely be using your phone to record, so donҴ feel the need to go out and buy an expensive camera just to livestream. You need your wifi operating at full speed to ensure no lagging or long loading times. If not, take advantage of hot spots and data to fuel your livestream instead . When itҳ finally time to go live, make sure youҲe in a quiet area with no background noise or other distractions. Make the experience as smooth as possible by ensuring you look and sound clear enough that viewers understand whatҳ going on. What comes next A live video marketing strategy doesnҴ have to be scary. If anything, it should excite you because of the potential benefits it could bring your business. Itҳ a great way to get in touch with consumers, get to know them better, let them know you and reel them in. Show them youҲe authentic and care about what they want. Give them a livestreaming experience proving that your business wants to solve their problems and help them on their buyerҳ journey. Soon enough, your customer base will grow, your business right along with it. more info... Enough Is Enough: When (and How) to Say No at Work When you're working for an employer you respect, or pursuing a career you love, it can be difficult to turn down assignments or additional opportunities in the workplace. You want to make a good impression, but you can't do it all, no matter how much you might think otherwise. "If you've taken on too much, your gut or your conscience sometimes will let you know," said Jay Cochran, a principal at Deloitte & Touche LLP . "You'll realize your deliverables aren't at the level they might be if you had taken the time to reflect and delegate where appropriate." While it's great to go above and beyond in business, there's a fine line between working hard and working yourself to the bone. Sometimes, you just need to say no. Risks of taking on too much work There are many risks of assuming too many responsibilities in the workplace, from excessive stress to burnout. Often, employees think theyҲe just being ӧood workersԠor setting themselves up for success, but the cost can be detrimental to their mental health. Additionally, your performance will falter in other areas as you scramble to keep up, and you might even miss out on work that's better suited for your talents. "By agreeing to too many responsibilities and projects, you then have to say no to other tasks that may be of a higher priority, other opportunities that are more strategic and ultimately more important," said Cochran. "If you're taking on too many items that are not strategic, you won't have the time and energy to do other things that are better for your career and for your mental health." Knowing when you should say no is the easy part; actually doing it is another story. Here are a few tips to support you through it. 1. Be honest. Cochran advises telling your employer when you think you aren't a good fit for an opportunity. Good leaders always value honesty, and turning down an offer is always better than accepting it, then failing to deliver. "Sometimes, you have to make these tough decisions to say no, and you need to be clear and crisp in saying, 'I don't think this is the best use of our company's time and talents right now,'" said Cochran. Rather than offering a cold rejection, however, Cochranೡid you can recommend another colleague who you think might be a better choice. 2. Be strategic. When asked to take on more work, think about the bigger picture: Will this benefit or hurt you and your company in the long run? If it will be a positive for both sides, pursue it; if not, turn it down to prevent issues in the future. "I try to say no strategically so that I can make sure I'm doing the best job I can," said Cochran. "If saying no today means that I can be more effective later, and make better use of a client's time and of my time, then that's the better choice." 3. Be realistic. Just because you have a minute to breathe doesn't mean you should fill it with more projects. You need to find a balance so you're providing only your best work while still keeping your interest piqued. "There's always more work to be done, but taking on more work does not in turn make you more valuable to your organization," said Cochran. "Growing yourself, your team, and your company and having insightful recommendations are your most important contributions to success, and when you're not focused on that kind of success, you're not focused where you should be." You know your limits ֠be realistic about them. 4. Be your own advocate. At the end of the day, look out for yourself and your wellbeing. If you feel you're working too hard, even if it's not as much as your co-worker is working, speak with your employer about a more flexible arrangement. "We're going to be working for 40 years, and you'll burn out if you don't make time for downtime," said Cochran. "So sometimes you have to sprint, but in the long run, you need downtime to hone your skills and be able to reflect on how you can perform better. Taking time away for reflection actually makes you more valuable." more info... McKinsey Insights & Publications Improving patient adherence through data-driven insights When patients fail to follow prescribed medical regimens, outcomes suffer. A McKinsey study points to areas pharmaceutical companies can address to combat this long-standing industry issue. more info...
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How to Forecast Sales like a Chief Operating Officer

Kamyar Shah How to Forecast Sales like a Chief Operating Officer Sun, 10 Feb 2019 12:07:14 +0000 Learn how to forecast real estate sales like a Chief Operating Officer. Get practical guides and information designed for real estate professionals. Read the full article at: boomtownroi.com Remote COO more info... 5 Key Concepts For Every Chief Operating Officer Sun, 10 Feb 2019 12:12:09 +0000 There were lots of articles about how to succeed as a CEO or a CFO, but there was almost nothing about being a good COO. The responsibilities of th Read the full article at: www8.gsb.columbia.edu Remote COO ֠ Remote CMO more info... 21st-Century Regulations Require 21st-Century Information Sharing Sun, 10 Feb 2019 12:15:51 +0000 The recently-enacted Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act calls for improved data sharing between federal agencies, better public access to government data and new default transparency rules, along with basic privacy protections. Read the full article at: www.shopfloor.org Remote COO / Remote CMO more info...
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8 Ways to Improve Your Workplace in the New Year

Business.com 8 Ways to Improve Your Workplace in the New Year Many of us begin the new year with the best of intentions and a host of resolutions because we value the opportunity it presents to start anew. If you run a business, the new year is the perfect time to re-engage your workforce and improve your workplace. To help you find compelling ways to reinvigorate your business, Business.com has compiled a list of strategies and best practices offered by a diverse group of entrepreneurs and business experts. These tips may be just what you need to tackle the roadblocks of the past and reimagine your business's future. Regularly seek feedback Most business leaders talk about the value of getting to know what their employees really think. Very few actually make the effort to gather this insight. One of the best ֠and simplest ֠ways to do this is just to ask your team what they need from you. "Good leaders want to know how they can serve their teams better. They don't guess or speculate," said Dr. Randy Ross, CEO of Remarkable! and author of the Relationomics: Business Powered by Relationships (Feb. 5, 2019). A survey can also be used to gather employee feedback and learn what areas of the business need improvement as well as what works. Companies can use software products that send and manage surveys so they can collect instantaneous information about employee satisfaction, according to Nazim Ahmed, CEO andযunder of WorkshopX . "With real-time input, we can get to core problems and make೵re issues don't get too big to fix. Having this type of connection to७ployees ... allows you to make sure you are nurturing aਥalthy work environment and, ultimately, getting the best out of your team," said Ahmed.༯p> Another way to connect with employees and solicit their feedback, especially in companies where work is becoming more fluid and employees may report to different managers throughout the year, is to set up mentoring relationships between top employees and senior executives, suggests Carlos Castelᮬ managing partner and founder of The Navio Group . Employees strengthen their skills through regular meetings and one-on-one coaching, but they also have a direct link to company leaders with whom they can share ideas, worries and insight into company culture. "This helps keep employees engaged and allows executives to understand any concerns that may arise so they can be proactively addressed," saidástelᮮ Be more flexible Make this the year you take a step back and give your employees a little more freedom, both in when they work and how they work.༯p> Having more autonomy in the workplace can be a game changer, according to Alex Strathdee, solutions consultant at Appian , co-author of Experience Over Degrees (2018) and co-host of the PracticallyСssionate podcast.࢏ne of the most impactful traits௦ any company that is able to maintain a low turnover is the ability for෯rkers to be in control of their own decisions," said Strathdee. Strathdee acknowledges that is not always easy to loosen the reigns, but it can be done with a little planning: "The path toward this෩ll include taking a step back as an employer and asking 'What tasks canɠmeasure by the end result but leave the process for getting them done upയ the employee?'"༯p> Additionally, in an increasingly connected world, a good portion of work can be doneলom any location so it's possible to give employees some latitude in shaping their work schedule. "While office face time is still critical, providingবexibility can be incredibly helpful and dramatically increase your७ployee happiness and productivity," said Shari Buck,࣯-founder and chief product officer of Doximity .༯p> Instituting flexible work policies that allow for staggered start and end times, compressed work weeks, telecommuting, and a host of other arrangements show employees that you understand and appreciate their efforts to balance all aspects of their lives, according to Buck, whose own employees all work from home one day a week. Buck explained, "A meeting-free day in your࣡lendar is a great time to tackle long writing projects, crank through aࢡcklog of emails or get to that dentist appointment you've been putting௦f." Invest in education Make it your business to know your employees' career goals and provide them with the education and training opportunities they need to reach them. Better educated employees are more loyal, confident, engaged and empowered to work more independently. Therefore, explore the sort of professional development opportunities your business is equipped to provide. This can range from online training, conferences, workshops and employee lunch and learns to funding the completion of certification or degree programs at higher education institutions.༯p> Investing in your employees is about much more than increasing their skill base. It's also about demonstrating to them that you care about their growth as individuals. The hope is that your investment, in turn, will help reignite employees' commitment to your business and reenergize company culture. "Ultimately, people are the greatest reflection of your brand. When organizations fail to invest heavily in their people, they run a substantial risk," said Ross. "Invest in your people so heavily that they become equipped to go anywhere and be successful. And love them so deeply that they would never want to leave. Then you will have a workforce that will strengthen your brand in the market and engender customer loyalty." Get serious about gender equality A lot of companies think of themselves as inclusive workplaces but haven't really taken concrete steps to confront unconscious gender bias in their organizations. And, with only 25 percent of senior business roles being held by women worldwide, this is clearly still an issue in most companies. Now is the time for your business to work toward achieving gender parity by re-evaluating its policies, practices and institutional norms. There are many small and large steps you can take to move your business in the right direction in this area, from making sure all your employees have the same access to opportunity, coaching and mentors to auditing payroll to ensure all employees are being paid fairly and equitably for their work. Additionally, you can encourage gender-blind decision-making in your organization, assign men their fair share of office housework , and help relieve the unfair burden women feel outside of work by offering employer-sponsored child care, generous parental leave, and flexible work schedules. Another key component of creating a more equitable workplace is to address sexual harassment immediately and provide resources to your staff so if they witness inappropriate behavior they have the tools needed to respond to the situation appropriately. "Train your employees in bystander intervention so they feel empoweredയ step in when they recognize a potentially harmful situation," said̡uren Slemenda,ଥad consultant with༡ href="https://www.linkedin.com/company/outsidethecircle/" target="_blank">Outside the Circle Consulting. Create a pleasing office environment It doesn't matter what line of work you are in, it's easier to be your best in an environment that is comfortable, functional and aesthetically pleasing. Therefore, take the time in the new year to find ways to improve your office space and help employees feel better about a place many of them may consider a second home. "With increased urbanization, interconnection and technological stimulation,ੴ has never been more important to prioritize the personal well-being (bothనysical and mental) of your employees," said Jessie Moore of Uncommon . "Given that we spend the majority of௵r waking hours at work, it would be irresponsible to neglect this aspect௦ working life." Moore recommends creating quiet, meditative spaces within the larger office awayলom noise and screens, usingబants to improve air quality and bring in the outdoors, and opening the office up to natural light. "Even introduce some soothing scents such as jasmine or cinnamon that Šimprove memory retention and concentration," added Moore. ༯p> Additional upgrades include decluttering the office, painting it a soothing color, improving the lighting, adding a snack cabinet or espresso machine, or letting employees personalize their workspaces. But regardless of the changes, including employees' input in the process is key. "When it comes to making changes in the workplace, my main priority is to protect employee productivity and strengthen team morale," said Lauren Izaks, COO and executive vice president of All Points Public Relations , whose own office recently underwent a renovation. Izaks recommends including employees in the renovation discussions to ensure that changes to the space reflect their needs. "For me, it's about listening to my employees' concerns ... and genuinely caring about their happiness. Plus, as most leaders know, it's important to facilitate any officewide change with a sense of transparency," said Izaks. Say goodbye to negativity Every business owner or manager has had to deal with a Negative Nelly or two in the workplace. You know who these people are from a mile away and so do your other employees. Employees with a poisonous attitude suck the air out of a room, destroy morale among your other workers and negatively impact your vendor and customer relationships. To save your sanity ֠and your workplace ֠you need to know when to terminate negative employees. "Just one toxic person can really wreak havoc on the other people working around them," said Danielle Kunkle, co-owner of Boomer Benefits . "Don't be afraid to let that person go and find a team member with a positive attitude who works well with others." At times, you may be apprehensive about confronting difficult employees, but avoidance only lets the problem fester. It's time to sever your ties with the employee if you've provided the training and guidance needed to correct the behavior, documented any infractions, and clearly outlined the consequences they would face for failing to make appropriate changes. And once it's all said and done, you'll be glad to have cleared out the toxicity from your workplace. "It may cost you some time in training, but you'll never regret the difference in the atmosphere that single change can make inside your office,"ೡid Kunkle.༯p>Give back Corporate philanthropy is good for business, but it's also good for the soul,೯ make an effort to feed your employees' spirits in the new year by creating opportunities for them to engage in meaningful charitable work. "Use the success of your business to bring good into the world and your team෩ll benefit too," said Buck. "Providing service opportunities orഡiloring operations around an important cause is an incentive for all to෯rk hard and be happy while doing so," added Katherine Daniel, director of people operations for N2еblishing . If this is already part of your company culture, you may want to consider strengthening your efforts or finding innovative, new ways to draw in your employees and serve the communities you've decided to support. But if your organization is new to civic engagement, know there are tons of ways to integrate it into the fabric of your workplace. Companies looking to do good can donate to charitable efforts, organize companywide volunteer days, offer paid time off for service work, match employee donations to charity and encourage employees to serve on boards of nonprofits or contribute their professional skills in other ways to organizations they value. Providing employees with pathways to service not only does a lot of good for the community, but it improves morale, boosts company pride, provides leadership opportunities for your team members and creates goodwill toward your organization.࠼/p>Bring on the fun You want people to look forward to coming to work and enjoy spending their day with each other because when people are happy, they tend to do a better job. One way to accomplish this is by making employees' work lives a little more fun and a little less stressful. "In this way, camaraderie andഥamwork get boosted," said Cedrick Capati, online PR specialist with Spiralytics .༯p> What constitutes fun will look different from one workplace to the next. Take the time to get to know your employees and get a sense of what they actually appreciate and enjoy. Some of the more typical options include allowing employees to bring their dogs to work (at least occasionally), using gaming to help everyone unwind, celebrating birthdays and other milestones, enjoying an adult beverage or two on a Friday afternoon or blasting everyone's favorite music on any given day for a quick singalong. Another way to encourage creativity and motivate employees is to create friendly office competitions. "Competition is a great motivator as well as a team-building opportunity," said Matt Edstrom, CMO of GoodLife Home Loans . "Incentivize employees for these competitions by having prizes that your employees will genuinely want to work for." more info... The Pros and Cons of Borrowing from Your 401(k) Plan It's not unusual to think about borrowing from your 401k plan when you run into a financial challenge. By some estimates, nearly 30 million Americans have tapped their retirement savings early, according to financial security expert Pamela Yellen , founder of Bank On Yourself.༯p> "The 401(k) has replaced our homes as our piggy banks. And a very pricey piggy bank at that," Pamela says. "Just because you࣡nഡke a premature withdrawal or a loan from your 401(k) doesn't mean it's a good deal. There are many strings attached to it, including how much you can borrow, what you can borrow it for, and how and when you mustడy it back. And if you leave your job for any reason, you'll typically have to pay the loan back in full, with interest, within 30 to 60 days, or you'll owe taxes and penalties."༯p> Looking for the right employee retirement plan for your small business? Fill out the form below and our vendor partners will reach out to you with more information.༯p> ༯div>Cons of borrowing from your 401(k) One of the biggest disadvantages that participants face when taking a loan from a retirement plan is that the dollars used to pay the interest on the loan from the account are taxed twice. According to Lloyd Sacks, managing director of༡ href="https://sacks-associates.com/" target="_blank">Sacks & Associates,࡮d a certified financial planner professional, the first tax occurs when the participants earns the funds and pays income tax on that earned income.༯p> "Then after-tax dollars are paid to the plan for the loan," he says. "Here is where the second taxation happens: The contributions that are used to pay for the loan interest do not create basis within the qualified plan and will be taxable again when the funds are distributed, generally at retirement. This is a consequence of taking a plan loan that is often overlooked, not only by participants of 401(k)s, but also by financial planners advising their clients."༯p> Sacks believes that a home equity line of credit (otherwise known as a HELOC) is a better alternative than borrowing against your 401(k). "If you have available equity in your home, you may be able to take a loan from your home's equity to qualify for your loan. The loan interest for a HELOC may be tax deductible; therefore, from a personal finance perspective, this is much more advantageous to an individual," he says.༯p>Pros for borrowing from your 401(k) According to David Bakke, personal finance expert at Money Crashers , one of the main pros of borrowing from yourര1(k) planੳ that it gives you access to the resources you probably need to solve your short-term঩nancial஥eds.༯p> "There are a few bright sides," he says. "Such loans do not generate income tax or other penalties, provided you pay the loan off on time. The application process is rather simple. Plus, you can borrow money from your plan for anything that you want ֠there are no restrictions in this area. And 401(k) loans usually come with interest rates that are less thanࣲedit cards, which is a factor when determining your options."༯p> Amanda Palumbo, a researcher for Chambers of Commerce , said that other pros include having no official loan application, no credit check and that the money can be obtained rather quickly. "And don't forget that interest rates for this type of a loan are typically lower than any interest you might find with a credit card or a personal bank loan," she says. [Interested in employee retirement plans ? Check out our best picks.]༯p>Bottom line Robert R. Johnson, professor of finance at Heider College of Business, Creighton University, and the author of numerous financial planning books, including Investment Banking for Dummies , believes that people who want to borrow from their 401(k)s should recognize that there likely are other options, like delaying the purchase of a new home or car, for instance.࠼/p> "One of the biggest behavioral biases that humans succumb to is the bias toward immediate gratification over delayed gratification. That is, our present selves tend to win over our future selves," he says.༯p> If [you are] borrowing from your 401(k), it is extremely important to understand the rules and ramifications of your decision. Although this may seem like the quickest and easiest way to access cash when you need it, the long-term consequences are often misunderstood and can be severe. more info... 3 Tips to Start Live Video Marketing Live video is a great way to showcase your brand and its mission to your audience while communicating with them in an authentic way. It takes away the frills that come with pre-recorded video: editing, rehearsing and publishing after careful review. Perhaps thatҳ why 80 percent of users prefer watching live video over reading a companyҳ blog posts, according to Livestream. Itҳ no secret that live video is gaining enormous popularity. On average, viewers spend at least eight times as much time ௮ live video than on-demand. Facebook shared in a blog post that people are three times more likely to watch a video if itҳ live. The demand for livestreaming isnҴ going anywhere. Why use live video? Itҳ an instant, easy way to communicate with viewers. It shows authenticity. You can market your products and services. You get to know your customers in an intimate, personal setting. Ask them questions about themselves. Get feedback on what could be improved. It increases revenue. According to a survey by Animoto , 76.5 percent of marketers said video had a direct and positive ROI on their business. Clearly, live video has its benefits. If youҲe new to live video marketing , here are three tips to get started so that your business can expand. 1. Outline your livestream Thereҳ no room for embarrassing mistakes, long pauses of awkward silence or mumbling when broadcasting live video. If thereҳ a mishap or malfunction, your audience will see it. If the problems persist, theyҬl exit fast and move on to the next thing. Thatҳ why itҳ so important to plan ahead of time. Ask yourself how much benefit your business will receive through livestreaming. Will it boost engagement with viewers? Does it encourage them to buy your products and services? Is it being shown to the right audience? How does it showcase your brand and its mission? Itҳ important to outline the general information of your live video before you get started for as few mishaps as possible. Who will be on the livestream? What will be the subject matter? Why is this live stream being created? When will it be broadcasted? 2. Be authentic A huge reason people are more attracted to live video is that it shows authenticity in a way other channels and mediums canҴ. You canҴ feel emotion the same way through a text post. You canҴ read facial expressions through a podcast. Only livestreaming lets viewers see and hear things exactly as they are in real time without any frills or ruffles. According to Stacklaҳ 2017 Consumer Content Report, 86 percent of consumers consider authenticity important when deciding what brands to support. With the same report concluding that less than half of brands create content thatҳ meaningful to consumers, itҳ essential your live video brings something genuine to the table. There are several ways your brand can be more authentic toward its viewers through live video: Behind-the-scenes footage Demonstrations of your products Introduce members of your team Broadcast live events Q&A session Giveaway All of these are ways for viewers to not just watch whatҳ happening at the company, but to interact with it directly and feel like part of the experience. 3. Use the right tools In Livestreamҳ report about live video , 67 percent of viewers consider video quality the most important factor when watching a live broadcast. Things like long buffer times, failure to load properly and auditory and visual malfunctions are sure to frustrate viewers and encourage them to bounce off your livestream. You can prevent these things from happening by having the right tools handy. For starters, you want to record in a location with an ample amount of lighting. Test your camera in different areas inside and outside to see what gives you the best viewing experience. YouҬl likely be using your phone to record, so donҴ feel the need to go out and buy an expensive camera just to livestream. You need your wifi operating at full speed to ensure no lagging or long loading times. If not, take advantage of hot spots and data to fuel your livestream instead . When itҳ finally time to go live, make sure youҲe in a quiet area with no background noise or other distractions. Make the experience as smooth as possible by ensuring you look and sound clear enough that viewers understand whatҳ going on. What comes next A live video marketing strategy doesnҴ have to be scary. If anything, it should excite you because of the potential benefits it could bring your business. Itҳ a great way to get in touch with consumers, get to know them better, let them know you and reel them in. Show them youҲe authentic and care about what they want. Give them a livestreaming experience proving that your business wants to solve their problems and help them on their buyerҳ journey. Soon enough, your customer base will grow, your business right along with it. more info... Enough Is Enough: When (and How) to Say No at Work When you're working for an employer you respect, or pursuing a career you love, it can be difficult to turn down assignments or additional opportunities in the workplace. You want to make a good impression, but you can't do it all, no matter how much you might think otherwise. "If you've taken on too much, your gut or your conscience sometimes will let you know," said Jay Cochran, a principal at Deloitte & Touche LLP . "You'll realize your deliverables aren't at the level they might be if you had taken the time to reflect and delegate where appropriate." While it's great to go above and beyond in business, there's a fine line between working hard and working yourself to the bone. Sometimes, you just need to say no. Risks of taking on too much work There are many risks of assuming too many responsibilities in the workplace, from excessive stress to burnout. Often, employees think theyҲe just being ӧood workersԠor setting themselves up for success, but the cost can be detrimental to their mental health. Additionally, your performance will falter in other areas as you scramble to keep up, and you might even miss out on work that's better suited for your talents. "By agreeing to too many responsibilities and projects, you then have to say no to other tasks that may be of a higher priority, other opportunities that are more strategic and ultimately more important," said Cochran. "If you're taking on too many items that are not strategic, you won't have the time and energy to do other things that are better for your career and for your mental health." Knowing when you should say no is the easy part; actually doing it is another story. Here are a few tips to support you through it. 1. Be honest. Cochran advises telling your employer when you think you aren't a good fit for an opportunity. Good leaders always value honesty, and turning down an offer is always better than accepting it, then failing to deliver. "Sometimes, you have to make these tough decisions to say no, and you need to be clear and crisp in saying, 'I don't think this is the best use of our company's time and talents right now,'" said Cochran. Rather than offering a cold rejection, however, Cochranೡid you can recommend another colleague who you think might be a better choice. 2. Be strategic. When asked to take on more work, think about the bigger picture: Will this benefit or hurt you and your company in the long run? If it will be a positive for both sides, pursue it; if not, turn it down to prevent issues in the future. "I try to say no strategically so that I can make sure I'm doing the best job I can," said Cochran. "If saying no today means that I can be more effective later, and make better use of a client's time and of my time, then that's the better choice." 3. Be realistic. Just because you have a minute to breathe doesn't mean you should fill it with more projects. You need to find a balance so you're providing only your best work while still keeping your interest piqued. "There's always more work to be done, but taking on more work does not in turn make you more valuable to your organization," said Cochran. "Growing yourself, your team, and your company and having insightful recommendations are your most important contributions to success, and when you're not focused on that kind of success, you're not focused where you should be." You know your limits ֠be realistic about them. 4. Be your own advocate. At the end of the day, look out for yourself and your wellbeing. If you feel you're working too hard, even if it's not as much as your co-worker is working, speak with your employer about a more flexible arrangement. "We're going to be working for 40 years, and you'll burn out if you don't make time for downtime," said Cochran. "So sometimes you have to sprint, but in the long run, you need downtime to hone your skills and be able to reflect on how you can perform better. Taking time away for reflection actually makes you more valuable." more info... McKinsey Insights & Publications Improving patient adherence through data-driven insights When patients fail to follow prescribed medical regimens, outcomes suffer. A McKinsey study points to areas pharmaceutical companies can address to combat this long-standing industry issue. more info...
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Putting the shine back into South African mining: A path to competitiveness and growth

McKinsey Insights & Publications Putting the shine back into South African mining: A path to competitiveness and growth Mon, 04 Feb 2019 The industry can achieve global cost competitiveness if the private and public sectors take concerted action. more info...
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4 Reasons Why You Should Consider Outsourcing Saas Development

Business.com 4 Reasons Why You Should Consider Outsourcing Saas Development Software as a service (SaaS) is one of the largest segments of the cloud market, with revenues expected to grow༡ href="https://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3871416" target="_blank">22.2 percent࡮d reach༡ href="https://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3871416" target="_blank">45 percent௦ total application software spending by 2021. The industry as a whole is expected to reach༡ href="https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2017-02-22-gartner-says-worldwide-public-cloud-services-market-to-grow-18-percent-in-2017" target="_blank">$76 billionథr year. With the rising demand for SaaS solutions, competition is increasing, and SaaS companies are saturating the market. For instance, SaaS initial public offerings (IPOs) have more than doubled over the past 12 years. Some of the highest-performing SaaS companies are growing their teams at an average rate of 56 percent per year. As the SaaS industry matures, companies in this field must achieve product-market fit rapidly if they are to survive and stay ahead of their competitors. Many SaaS companies are turning to outsourced development teams to help them meet market demands in a lean and cost-effective way. Here are four key benefits of outsourcing SaaS development. 1. Outsourcing lowers your startup costs SaaS companies often launch with limited budgets and resources, which can make developing their༡ href="https://www.bairesdev.com/blog/startup-mvp/" target="_blank">minimum viable product਍VP) a significant challenge. By working with an outsourced development firm, companies can create an MVP without spending their entire budgets, or reducing their features to the point where the value for customers drops. A leading example of a SaaS company that outsourced its web and app development so it could begin testing its MVP as quickly as possible is Slack. Outsourcing allowed the company to roll out a prototype and test its collaboration software without significant financial risks. The strategy clearly paid off as the company now has millions of users around the world and a current valuation of $7.1 billion. 2. It adds experience and efficiency to the development process Recruiting new talent in-house can be an expensive and slow process. Additionally, it can take even longer to build up a team that collaborates well together. A major benefit of working with an outsourcing partner during the SaaS development process is access to a range of technical expertise. Rather than hiring a new in-house developer to take on specific aspects of the project, outsourcing provides SaaS companies a team of talent whose skills may range from product management and UX/UI design to testing and cross-platform development. The right outsourced development team has likely worked together already on similar SaaS projects and can lead the process with helpful advice every step of the way. For example, the outsourced team can help with decisions about important SaaS features, such as email and chatbot integrations and payment systems. They can also provide guidance on which aspects of the site or software can be created with existing technology and which aspects need to be built from scratch. 3. It helps you meet market demands faster The ability to scale quickly is vital for SaaS companies. According to McKinsey, if a software company grows only 20 percent per year, then there is a 92 percent chance it will cease to exist in the future. Even if a software company grows 60 percent per year, its chances of surpassing 1 billion in revenue are still only 50 percent. Continuous updates are essential for SaaS companies because the market demands them. Not to mention, SaaS companies must continuously deploy new features to compete with the dozens of new players entering the market constantly. Outsourcing software development allows companies to have peace of mind that they are moving their projects along fast enough. 4. Outsourcing provides affordable talent Not only is it time-consuming and expensive for SaaS companies to hire in-house, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to find qualified developers that possess the skills and know-how necessary to fulfill today's ever-changing technology requirements. From security and compliance requirements to data management and automation, SaaS team members must be able to handle a variety of tasks, many of which may fall outside of the role for which they were hired. When team members are stretched too thin for too long, it damages the company's productivity levels and decreases morale. Working with a consistent and reliable outsourcing partner allows SaaS companies to fill key roles with the appropriate talent. Not to mention, it can help keep existing employees happy and minimize employee churn. With an outsourced development team, companies can also build more features and expand their services faster because hourly rates are lower. Outsourcing development to developers in the U.S., for instance, can cost anywhere from $80 to $150 per hour, while outsourcing to developers in Latin America can cost between $40 to $70 per hour. The future of SaaS development Whether it's during the MVP stage or growth stage, working with an outsourced development team provides a number of benefits for SaaS companies. According to Cisco's Global Cloud Index, 59 percent of all cloud workflows will be delivered as SaaS by the end of this year. As the industry continues to grow, not only is it becoming more common to outsource certain aspects of the SaaS development process, but it is practically unavoidable for companies that need to save time and resources to continuously deliver value to their customers. more info... HBR.org You Can Be a Great Leader and Also Have a Life Dimitri Otis/Getty Images Tesla and Space X CEO Elon Musk tweets that no one changed the world working 40 hours a week. He ಡrely sleeps or sees his kids and had a famously public meltdown . Appleҳ Tim Cook is on email before the sun rises. And billionaire Mark Cuban worked until 2 am launching his first business and didnҴ take a vacation for seven years . These intense work styles are often celebrated as the only way to get to the top and be a super-productive leader. Indeed, surveys show that managers and executives describe the өdeal workerԠas someone with no personal life or caregiving responsibilities. And a majority of leaders themselves נthe ones who set the tone for organizations and model behavior for everyone else נthink work-life balance is ӡt best an elusive ideal and at worst a complete myth.Լ/a> In an interview, three CEOs rated as top performers by HBR said the job was 24/7 and admitted they werenҴ great role models. But does it have to be that way? Thatҳ a question Jessica DeGroot sought to answer nearly 20 years ago when she started the nonprofit ThirdPath Institute, an organization dedicated to helping people find time for work, family, and life. She formed a group of about two dozen men and women in senior management at law firms, public and financial service entities, small businesses, and Fortune 500 companies like Booz Allen Hamilton, Eli Lilly, Marriott, IBM, and Ford who wanted to challenge the notion that work-life balance is impossible for leaders. ӗe all wanted to do work and life differently,ԠDeGroot told me. ӂut werenҴ sure how.ԠThey had no role models. And few people she talked to, she added, thought they could. In regular phone calls and meetings for nearly two decades, as well as aࢩennial Pioneering Leaders summit, the group has been helping each other figure out how to work more effectively so they could have time for their lives, sharing successful strategies and learning from failures. During one of their monthly webinars I observed, the group began by sharing photographs of their families and talking about their lives outside of work. Then the group launched into an intensive discussion of boundaries, episodic and chronic overwork, and how theyҲe managing their work-life balance in the face of work or life emergenciesנand sometimes both. One man, juggling work with caring for a sick child, said heҳ now reaping the benefits of all the years heҳ communicated and modeled how work-life balance is one of his core values. Ӊtҳ enabled me to have a bond with my daughter now thatҳ really amazing,Ԡhe said. It is part shared confessional with peers and part trading research, strategies, tips and lifehacks that DeGroot collects and analyzes for best practices. For instance, DeGroot noticed that a handful of the pioneering leaders were really good about taking vacation, being able to turn off work, connecting with their families and friends, and returning refreshed. Their strategies have since become the Ӽa href="http://www.thirdpath.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Vacation-Check-List.pdf">Vacation ChecklistԠDeGroot shares with others at the nonprofit. Some of the most effective strategies, theyҶe discovered include planning vacations, where possible, around the seasonality of work; delegating and reviewing essential team work two weeks before leaving; creating a ӷhat can waitԠlist one week before vacation; and avoiding scheduling meetings and phone calls one day before and one day after vacation to concentrate on essential priorities. Sheҳ done the same for strategies to create concentrated quiet time to focus on priorities at work rather than be in constant firefighting mode of responding to e-mails, meetings and emergencies, for managing email overload, for setting priorities and other thorny issues. ӗe kept trying. We kept tweaking,ԠDeGroot said. Ӕhen we started to see, яh, this is not only a better way for me to work, this is a better way for everybody to work.ҠAnd when you get leaders to behave differently, it sends a signal to the rest of the organization that they can behave differently, too.Լ/p> For leaders to stand up to status quo pressures and make work-life balance a priority, DeGroot discovered, these pioneers had to cultivate skills around three relationships: learning to work differently with their teams at work, making a plan with their families to put home and family first, and shifting their own mindsets to not only believe change is truly possible, but to give themselves permission to try, and speak up about it. Ԩe stories of three leaders exemplify how this can be done. Learning to Work Differently. Like many men of his generation, Ivan Axelrod, 72, a managing director of a financial management firm in LA, spent most of his life climbing the corporate ladder as a work-focused primary breadwinner. It wasnҴ until he became a grandfather that he decided to change. His own parents had died when his children were young and never knew them. He wanted something different for his own grandchildren. Ӊ wanted them to know their grandfather.Լ/p> So, when his daughter began lining up child care and preparing to go back to work after a three-month leave, the two grandmothers offered to take two days a week each. Axelrod volunteered to be the caregiver for the fifth day. He had to sell the idea to both his family and the other managers at work. Ӊ said, щ have good people here. Iҭ going to push more responsibility onto them, which should help them develop faster. I believe itҳ going to work,Ҕ Axelrod said. Ӓeluctantly, they said OK to me. That was in 2008. And IҶe been doing it ever since.Լ/p> As a result, Axelrod has worked to create a culture where everyone can have time for work and life, promoting flexible and remote work and opening an office closer to where people live to cut down on commutes ֠efforts which have reduced turnover and recruiting and training costs, and increased employee morale and productivity. Ӊf you have a structure that allows people some flexibility, they will produce better results for the organization. I see it all the time,ԠHe said. Ӕhe bottom line increases when you make these changes.Լ/p> On Mondays, Axelrod takes his two grandchildren, now 11 and 9 years old, to school, works at home, picks them up afterwards and takes them to activities like swimming lessons. Ӊҭ heavily involved in their lives. It has been huge for me, and terrific for them,Ԡhe said. ӗhen Iҭ gone, theyҲe going to have a lot to remember.Լ/p> Believing in Your Plan and Speaking up. With few role models, and cultural expectations arrayed against them, someone like Axelrod had to first imagine something new: how he really wanted to combine work and life. Then he had to believe that not only was it important enough to try, but alsoנthrough a series of trials and errorsנactually possible to sustain over the long-term. This was also true for Michelle Hickox. In 2004, Hickox was a certified public accountant in Texas and at a crossroads in her career. She loved her work and wanted to make partner, but the only role models she had were men with at-home wives, and one woman with round-the-clock nannies, all of whom worked all the time and rarely saw their families. Ӊ didnҴ want that,Ԡshe told me. When her eldest daughter turned five, the transition from year-round child care to the traditional nine-month kindergarten schedule forced Hickox to think hard not only about how to manage child care in the summer months, but what she really wanted out of work and life. Her own parents had been teachers, and she loved the summers the family spent together. So she imagined something no one else had: taking summers off and staying on the partner track. She negotiated an 80% schedule and took 11 summers off in a row while her daughters were growing up, and still made partner. Ӊҭ not sure when I first asked if I thought it would be successful,Ԡsaid Hickox, now CFO of Independent Bank in McKinney Texas. Ӊ learned I needed to speak up. That just because something didnҴ exist meant maybe nobody had ever thought about it.Լ/p> None of this is easy. Like all leaders, Hickox has hit a wall. A few years ago, when her work had been intense and she was feeling completely out of balance, she almost didnҴ come to the pioneering leaders summit I attended and first interviewed her for this piece. Ӊ had such guilt. I thought, їow, Iҭ supposed to be one of these pioneering leaders and I have totally sucked this past year. I shouldnҴ even be at this conference,ԠHickox said. ӂut thatҳ when you need this stuff the most.ԠWhat she has found ֠and behavioral science research reinforcesנis that having a supportive, like-minded network of peers via the summit and their regular conference calls makes it more likely for behavior changes to stick. Hickox, now 51, has since become the kind of role model she was looking for. Flexible work, remote work, paying attention to performance, rather than when people come and go in the office have become the norm. When she discovered the bank didnҴ have a paid family leave policy, a word to the CEO changed that. Ӕhe culture in the bankҳ accounting and finance team has changed totally since I got here,Ԡshe said. Ӊ donҴ think you have to work like a crazy person to get ahead. I just think, in the time you are working, you have to learn to be effective.Լ/p> Making a Plan to Put Family First. Imagining a different way to work and live also means adopting a mindset that recognized both work and family were important. Will Rowe, 59, a principal at Booz Allen Hamilton in Washington, D.C., and his wife Teresa, a pediatrician, began their marriage with vows promising to be equal partners and to put family, faith, friendships and flexibility first. They both wanted important, but not overwhelming careers. Roweҳ parents were workaholics, he said, who rarely saw each other and wound up divorced. So once Rowe and his wife started a family of their own, the couple committed to spending as much time with family as possible. Will worked four days a week, Teresa an alternate three, and a neighbor cared for their two children one day a week. The flexible schedule has allowed him to be active in his neighborhood and faith community, and gave him the courage to ask his boss for a six-month sabbatical to travel the country with his family. As his kids grew and he rose through the leadership ranks, Rowe continued to work a flexible schedule, deftly juggling conference calls in the school pick up line, and Ӵime shiftingԠhis work to accommodate both his clients and his family. Being clear on family priorities, routinely talking them through and planning together as a family have been keys to making his work and family life work. Ӊ sit down every week and color code my calendar. Family events and activities are in green. If I find it competes with my work, I will cancel, delegate or move work around,ԠRowe said. ӓome things in life are more important than work.Լ/p> What we seeנour role modelsנshape what we think is possible. And right now, so many of us are stuck in the workplace overworking because thatҳ all we see in our leaders. So perhaps, if we are to change, what we need are fewer breathless articles about inhuman and insane CEO schedules that ignore the costs to health, families, and ultimately, innovation and business productivity. And we need to hear more stories like that of Alexrod, Hickox and Rowe. More about CEOs like David Solomon, the new head of Goldman Sachs who takes yoga classes with his daughter , led an effort to reduce punishing work hours , calls colleagues when theyҲe working too much to tell them to stop, and regularly performs and records electronic dance music as DJ D-Sol . More about how leaders like YouTubeҳ Susan Wojicki can run a $100 billion company and still be home for dinner at 6 p.m. with her kids . Perhaps the more we hear stories of leaders like these, the more the༡ href="https://www.gallup.com/workplace/238085/state-american-workplace-report-2017.aspx">majority of us who tell surveyors that we want both time to do great work and live a great life, people may start believing itҳ possible. more info... How Western Multinationals Are Responding to the Escalating U.S.-China Trade War Yuji Sakai/Getty Images The furious reaction from China to the arrest of Huaweiҳ chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, in Canada at Washingtonҳ request immediately raises the prospect of like-for-like retaliation against executives from North American companies, a fear reinforced by the arrests of a former Canadian diplomat-turned-NGO-researcher and a Canadian businessman. Western business people are ensnared in low-level court proceedings in China far more regularly than is reported in the West, the risk remains low of a retaliatory move against a Western executive of similar status to Meng. It would undercut the high-ground that Beijing has occupied as self-appointed defender of Ӵhe rules-based international order.Լ/p> However, there are other ways for Chinese authorities to take reprisals against Western multinationals operating in China should they so choose. Day-to-day business operations can readily be interrupted through inspections, audits, and other tourniquets of red tape, and by the selective application of the letter of Chinese civil, administrative and criminal law. Thereҳ also the possibility of travel bans on executives (including on those under unresolved court proceedings), and good, old-fashioned intimidation. Add to this the current trade tensions between the U.S. and China and Western multinationals נsuch as the big U.S. technology companies נthat use China as a source of assembly, semi-manufactures or components have an additional vulnerability: their value chain. For every such company, especially those critically reliant on Chinese sub-contractors, their value chain is now actively at increased political risk. Local suppliers and their sub-contractors are susceptible to pressure to behave ӰatrioticallyԠwhen authorities convey the message, however tacitly, that lack of cooperation with foreign multinationals is in the national interest. Something similar has occurred when Chinese consumers have on earlier occasions read the signals for when they were meant to boycott Japanese and South Korean products. There are many ways to apply informal pressure along the value chain from delaying delivery to the easing of quality standards.ࠓuppliers and subcontractors could find themselves suffering sudden and ӵnexpectedԠshortages of inputs and disruptions from labour. Companies need to take urgent steps to measure their potential exposure. Doubling up value chains, including alternatives outside China, would mitigate the risk of political and regulatory disruption. (It would also have the added benefit of providing insurance against ever-more-frequent natural disasters.)ࠉn our analysis and consulting work, we have come across some forward-looking companies that have started to reconfigure their value chains where possible ֠particularly those who are vulnerable to U.S. national security concerns because they incorporate Chinese technology into their end products. Doing so is neither necessarily easy nor cheap. China has accumulated a vast manufacturing ecosystem servicing foreign companies, encompassing everything from hard infrastructure to soft skills. Its growth has accelerated in recent years as China has embraced automation as way to offset rising wages that could make it less competitive as an offshoring center. For that reason, building up a parallel value chain is not simply about shifting to another low-wage country. Both the quality and quantity of Chinaҳ manufacturing skills, particularly in the areas of automation and robotics, deter companies from relocating from China to elsewhere in South or Southeast Asia. Lower-wage countries like Vietnam and Cambodia have little spare production or skilled human capacity left, even in relatively low-skilled sectors like textiles and garments, let alone the advanced precision tooling, materials handling, and process engineering and development skills that a U.S. technology company needs. Nor do those countries have the resources to develop them rapidly. Tim Cook, chief executive of Apple, a company so committed to manufacturing in China that it labels many of its products, ӄesigned in California. Assembled in ChinaԠrecently noted that if he called a meeting of all the tooling engineers in the U.S., he wouldnҴ fill a room, whereas in China he could fill multiple football fields. Regardless of these impediments, and even before the heightened trade tensions between China and the U.S., there was business logic to the case for value-chain diversification נand a parallel process of value-chain reconfiguration already underway in some sectors with a regional focus. Production of end-products and components נranging from bicycle parts to computer hard drives נhas started to relocate, with low-tech production shifting from China to Indonesia, Cambodia, Bangladesh, and India, and higher-tech ones moving to South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia. Vietnam straddles the two. Burgeoning middle-classes in South and Southeast Asia provide a growing market for Chinaҳ consumer and industrial goods, especially for non-luxury goods that do not need the cache of a U.S. or European brand. Countries such as India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand are all forecast to be among the 20-25 largest economies during the second quarter of this century. Moving production nearer to those markets makes sense. At the same time, for other Asian nations, China is starting to look like the ӭarket of last resortԠfor selling what they manufacture. The U.S. has been that market been since the Second World War. But the Trump administrationҳ Ӂmerica FirstԠpolicy, with its emphasis on domestically produced goods, seems to put that in doubt. Chinese companies, too, will be compelled to seek alternatives to the U.S. in response to Trumpҳ tariffs, especially those that have become U.S.-reliant, further accelerating the changes to regional trade and the value chains that support it. The overall effect will be that more value chains will begin and end in China rather than beginning in China and ending in the U.S. There will be fewer global value chains and more regional ones. Regional value chains do have an advantage: they are shorter than global ones. As global value chains have gotten longer and leaner, they have also grown more fragile, just as the pressures on them are increasing from technological change נparticularly AI, robotics and big data, shifting relative labor costs, environmental concerns, such as carbon footprints, and reputational exposures. The Trump administrationҳ trade policies will provide new impetus to the developing patterns of multiple, shorter regional value chains, but the transformation will not happen overnight. Value chains cannot be reconfigured any more quickly than a manufacturing plant can be rapidly rebuilt. Companies will hesitate to jump into new developing markets where investment laws can be unclear or nascent נlike Myanmar, Cambodia, or Vietnam נand where labor and environmental standards lax.ίr will it be easy to replicate established relationships with factories, suppliers, and governments. Complicated electronics value chains, in particular, are so entrenched in China, it is unlikely that all business will shift away from the country as a result of the new tariffs alone. For its part, China itself is still dependent on specific imported technologies such as chipsets and sensors. This constraint will ease as China develops, with some urgency, local capacities in these technologies, not least because the U.S. is set on preventing the export of crucial U.S. technologies and blocking Chinese companies from gaining access to them through inward foreign direct investment. One scenario is that the current U.S. counter to Chinaҳ ӳtrategic competitionԠנtariffs and technology export and investment controls נwill further fracture value chains as it will lead to a dual global technology world with one part running U.S. technology on U.S. technical standards and another running Chinese technology on Chinese standards. There would be no certainty that the hardware, software, and services of these two worlds would be interoperable, and, once a market is locked into one or other of the systems, it would be difficult for users to switch. This would add complexity to value chains, making it more likely they would default to specializing regionally. more info... McKinsey Insights & Publications A next-generation operating model for source-to-pay A next-generation procurement operating model that capitalizes on advances in digital, data, and analytics delivers new levels of performance across the value-creation lifecycle. more info...
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