Mention the phrase ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ and most of us automatically think of personal goals like getting fit, taking up a hobby or spending more time with the family. The New Year is certainly a time for reflection and new beginnings; however, it’s just as important to review progress and set goals for your small business as it is for your personal life. In this post we look at how to determine your business New Year Resolutions and we then go on to consider how intranet software can help to achieve them.
Identifying Your Business Priorities
Start the review process by getting together with your staff or managers and brainstorming how things have gone in 2018. Be honest about what’s worked well and what could be improved upon. Next, turn your attention to the external environment. Are there any legislative changes on the horizon that might affect your business? And what about best practice initiatives within the industry? Finally, consider what your competition have been doing. Is there anything you could learn from them? Alternatively, consideration of what your competitors are doing may help you to more clearly define your offering and what it is that sets you apart.
This kind of SWOT analysis whereby you examine the business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats is a tried and tested tool to determine your priorities for next year. Here are some sample questions to help kick-start your brainstorming session:
- What did we do well in 2018?
- What specialized knowledge and experience do we have?
- What do we do better than our competitors?
- Where is the business most profitable?
- What areas do we need to improve?
- Are there any areas in which we lack resources or experience?
- What parts of the business are not very profitable?
- What aspects of the business cost in terms of time and/or money?
- What business goals did we achieve in 2018?
- Could we be doing more with our existing customers or clients?
- How can we use technology to enhance the business?
- Are there related products, services or new target audiences that might provide an opportunity for the business?
- What obstacles do we face?
- What are our competitors doing that we’re not?
- What’s going on in the wider economy that might impact on us?
- What’s going on in the industry?
Completing a SWOT analysis will help you to clearly determine what your priorities are so you can formulate business New Year’s Resolutions.
Top Five Business New Year’s Resolutions
Most businesses will have a list of New Year’s Resolutions that include some or all of the following:
- Improve internal communications.
- Increase employee engagement.
- Provide more opportunities for joint working and collaboration.
- Streamline business processes and operations.
- Provide better connections with remote workers and freelancers.
Let’s look at each of these in turn and find out how an office intranet can be of benefit.
Improve Internal Communications
It doesn’t matter how many staff members you have – it could be one, or it could be 100 or more – internal communications is one of those niggly issues that constantly needs to be worked on, improved and refined.
It’s well worth making the investment though as staff members who feel informed, involved and listened to tend to stay longer with the same employer, have a clearer sense of the bigger picture and feel more invested in the company culture.
How Intranet Software Can Help
So, if improving internal communications is one of your business New Year’s Resolutions, how can an intranet help? Well, an intranet is the perfect platform for keeping open the lines of communication and generating those all-important two-way conversations and here’s how exactly:
- News feeds – keep staff updated on all the latest news, events and developments on a team, company and industry basis. Give team members the opportunity to comment and you will be starting up genuine conversations and providing a mechanism for ensuring their voices are heard.
- CEO blog – senior managers can often some across as remote and uninterested, even in small businesses! A CEO blog which includes a mix of company as well as more personal stories is a great way to bridge the gap and get up close and personal with staff members. Some CEOs have a gone a step further and have introduced vlogs or video messages. Employees often relate better to video as a medium for delivering more personalized messages. So, for important communications, say the Christmas thank you to all staff, a vlog may have more resonance with staff.
Increase Employee Engagement
Employee engagement is key to driving productivity and profits. Research from global insurance giant Aon suggests that a five-point increase in employee engagement rates can generate a three percent increase in revenue. And according to Gallup, organizations that are the best at engaging their employees achieve earnings-per-share growth that is more than four times that of their competitors.
It’s difficult to argue with these kinds of statistics, but Aon sound a word of caution in their report on global employee engagement trends. They advise against making the mistake of seeing engagement as being just about a sense of workplace happiness or job satisfaction:
It’s really about an employee’s psychological investment in their organization and motivation to produce extraordinary results. Companies with employees who are above average engagement levels will see better employee productivity, lower turnover rates and higher customer satisfaction scores – all factors that can significantly contribute to improved financial performance.
So, when planning a program to enhance employee engagement make sure it goes beyond measure to improve workplace satisfaction and happiness.
How An Intranet Can Help
It will probably come as no surprise to learn that internal communications generally, alongside consulting and involving staff in decision-making, are also key drivers of employee engagement. So, news feeds, blogs and open communication channels will also have an impact on employee engagement rates.
Here are some other ways in which intranet software can support employee engagement:
- Employee recognition scheme – finding ways to recognize and reward staff for a job well done or an innovation or money-saving idea is one of the key drivers for employee engagement. Use the intranet to develop and publicize an organization-wide employee recognition scheme. It’s a very public way of demonstrating just how much you value staff and their contribution and it’s a great motivator too. The rewards don’t have to be of the expensive kind either – lunch vouchers, donuts for a shared afternoon tea or even a simple write-up in the CEO’s blog or staff newsletter is often reward enough. It’s the public recognition and thank you that’s really important here.
- Surveys and polls – use the intranet’s online polls and surveys function to quickly and easily gather staff views on a broad range of issues. Are you looking to make changes to the employee wellness program? Perhaps you are reviewing the customer experience? Or maybe you are looking to upgrade the telephone system. Not only will the input of staff be valuable in making effective decisions, the mere act of involving staff will see your employee engagement rates increase as well.
Provide More Opportunities For Joint Working And Collaboration
Are information silos a problem in your business? Poor communication and a lack of joint working across organizations can lead to a variety of problems including:
- Duplication of effort
- Conflicting priorities
- Inability to quickly problem solve
- Poor company culture and team spirit
- A lack of agility and an impaired ability to respond to changes in the marketplace.
The old saying that two heads are better than one, in this context has a great deal of truth in it. Providing more opportunities for joint working and collaboration across the business will help to build bridges and break down those information silos for a more responsive, agile operational focus.
How Intranet Software Can Help
The company-wide intranet is a facilitator and enabler of information sharing, joint working and collaboration. Here are just a couple of examples of how an intranet can help:
- Project work spaces – it’s possible to bring colleagues together, regardless of where they are physically located, via project spaces on the intranet. So, say Marketing set up a business-wide working group to look at digital marketing. A project space is created on the intranet where members can meet virtually to exchange information, brainstorm ideas and share insights. What’s more, team members can collaboratively work on a digital marketing plan through Google Docs directly embedded in the intranet page. Not only does this allow for important contextual information to be displayed alongside the Google Doc, it also means that team members can simultaneously work on the draft with the intranet automatically saving any changes to the cloud. It’s a far more efficient way of working than sending draft versions around the business in long and increasingly complicated email threads.
- Employee profiles – an online staff directory that includes employee profiles detailing areas of knowledge and expertise as well as current work projects, is a great way to bring staff together. The service technician, for example, who has discovered an issue with a product upgrade can identify the R&D project lead directly to seek clarification. Similarly, the Marketing department can source participants for the digital marketing working group we looked at earlier, by consulting employee profiles.
Streamline Business Processes And Operations
Is your company still overly reliant on outdated email and paper office systems? In today’s marketplace, any competitive advantage you can glean is worth considering and antiquated, slow business processes are one obvious candidate. The potential for errors, information going missing or not being acted on at all is huge. And just because that’s the way things have always been done, doesn’t mean that there isn’t room to improve. Increasingly, clients and customers expect to complete interactions and transactions online and in an instant. So, if you are still grappling with filing cabinets, paper forms or emails as the primary way to get things done, then it’s definitely time to move on.
How An Intranet Can Help
- Online forms – the intranet comes with an intuitive, easy to use forms builder. You can also use Google Forms to create your online form. So, say for example, that Bob in Accounts wants to book some vacation. Once upon a time, he would have spent time digging out the relevant form from the filing cabinet, filling it in and passing it on to his manager with a confirmation email. However, with the intranet’s online forms feature, he simply locates it via the site’s quick links and in just a matter of seconds completes it online. What’s more, the intranet automatically routes it to the appropriate manager for approval and to HR for recordkeeping. It’s a much more efficient and accurate way to complete a business process.
- File sharing and document storage – the intranet is the central repository for all information and data across the business. Its self-service approach means that staff can locate the information they need with just a few clicks of the mouse and without the need to ask a colleague in another department for assistance. This knowledge bank is supported by intuitive navigation and an advanced search function. The self-service approach means that employees can quickly and easily find what they need to get the job done with just a few clicks of the mouse and the minimum amount of hassle and fuss. And these efficiency gains are just as important in a relatively small workforce as they are in the larger corporates.
Provide Better Connections With Remote Workers And Freelancers
Small businesses often rely on remote workers and freelancers to perform critical business functions. Indeed it makes good business sense to outsource specific tasks to specialist contractors who have the knowledge and expertise. Tasks such as social media, email marketing, copywriting, even accounting, lend themselves to outsourcing. However, with today’s technology, those personnel can be located in a different state or even country. Maintaining meaningful connections and oversight of remote workers and freelancers when there is physical distance as well as time difference can be a challenge.
How An Intranet Can Help
- Mobile optimisation – a cloud intranet is optimized for the smaller screens and reduced functionality of smartphones and tablets. This means that remote workers and freelancers can still access all the tools and company data that they need without having to be physically in the office. A mobile-responsive intranet also means that they have access to features such as the news blog and corporate calendar so they can feel involved and included. And when it comes to providing oversight, the intranet can incorporate reporting mechanisms so that the small business owner can easily keep track of progress.
- 24/7 access – a cloud intranet is open all hours, so even if it’s midnight where you are, the freelance marketer based on the other side of the country is still able to log in and work as normal. What’s more, the intranet has high availability and uptime – typically 99.9 per cent, for minimal interruptions to operations. Data is also automatically backed up in the cloud making the likelihood of losing important files and information a thing of the past.
Get The New Year Off To The Best Possible Start With An Intranet!
The only New Year’s Resolution you really need to make is to set up an intranet! What are you waiting for? All these business benefits are within your grasp. All you need to do is get in touch with the expert team here at MyHub and sign up for a free demo or a no-obligation 14-day trial.