The last few years have been stressful for many businesses and their employees. Just as we thought the worst of the pandemic had passed, we’re beginning to experience the worst cost-of-living crisis since the 1950s with energy bills, fuel prices and food prices soaring. Businesses too are facing higher costs across supply chains, manufacturing, overheads, and more. In fact, rising inflation will be the second most impactful issue for businesses in 2022, up from 22nd globally just a year ago. Attar Naderi, Associate Director Europe & MENA at Laserfiche provides SMEToday readers with some advice on how to Maximise your resources and transform your business during the cost-of-living crisis.
When a crisis hits, it’s critical to keep customer service standards as high as possible to give your company the best chance of success and survival. While today’s economic environment makes investment difficult, managers can implement cost-cutting efficiencies that maximise productivity while minimising expenses.
Some businesses may start with immediate energy-saving efficiencies such as LED lightbulbs and thicker office
insulation, but it mustn’t stop there. With office workers in the UK spending nearly 80 working days per year on administrative or repetitive tasks, business leaders must ensure precious resources are allocated wisely to save costs. Businesses need to reorganise workloads and use digitised automation tools to streamline responsibilities. Let’s take a look at how.
- Removing productivity roadblocks
Digital transformation can have a huge impact on cost savings for businesses. But research tells us that 70 percent of digital transformation initiatives actually fail. That’s because organisations oftentimes neglect to carefully consider the people behind the processes: To begin, it’s important to assess how employees’ days are hampered by hurdles that stop them from performing to their potential.
Managers must review their organisational procedures to see if there are any unnecessary obstacles to productivity. Do employees have immediate access to the information and systems they need to do their jobs? Are projects properly planned before they begin? Do decisions need excessive sign-off before being implemented? The most dangerous phrase in business is “we’ve always done it this way”. It’s crucial to constantly look to reduce organisational drag by streamlining structures, tackling bureaucracy, and supporting employees to focus on the work that matters most.
- Employee skills deployment
Next up is the strategic deployment of employee skills. The ongoing “war for worker talent”, particularly in the face of the “great resignation,” often pushes employers to try and hire as many skilled workers as possible. However, it’s not about having the most amount of raw talent, but rather how you deploy it.
Employers must address their vision and purpose as a company, working together with employees to achieve the best results. Aligning employees’ skills and passions with what they do on a day-to-day basis will help not only the employee’s career but also the overall success of the company.
It’s important to build a culture of independence and accountability. Having a supervisor constantly look over an employee’s shoulder won’t help them become engaged and inspired. People perform best when given control over their work, and feel energised to be proactive and ‘own’ performance across their product or service area.
Empowering employees by giving them purposeful work will enable them to work more autonomously. Setting clear goals that link to wider organisational aims and that make a difference, will boost employee engagement, productivity and retention by ensuring that every member of your team understands their role in the overall strategy.
- Automate processes for optimal performance
Alongside supporting your workforce to optimally perform its tasks, it’s important to consider which tasks they even need to perform at all. Advancements in technologies like AI have brought a boom in business automation, with demand surging in more than 90% of companies worldwide. Now, accurately automating day-to-day jobs, like sending welcome emails or signing off expense requests, not only removes the risk of human error but frees up employees for higher-value work. According to market research firm IDC, automating business processes can even save managers up to 40 percent of their time.
Companies need to prioritise leveraging modern workplace technologies to not only give employees more time to do the work they love but to also retain talent in the long term. According to recent research, one in five (20 percent) of UK working age Generation Z have quit their jobs because of outdated or difficult to use technology in their companies. Employers can’t fall short in deploying new and intuitive tech to improve their workforce.
However, the automation of tasks is also a complex task in itself. So, it’s often worth applying a pre-made template that gets to work immediately. With business process templates, you don’t need to start from scratch or even know how coding the process works—it’s already been pre-prepared for you by an expert using the latest best practices. Think opening Microsoft Word and choosing a ready-to-use business brochure design, rather than selecting a blank page and then spending hours building the document yourself.
Popular templates include new hire onboarding, expense reimbursements, contract management systems, and building inspection processes. These templates are usually customisable too, allowing managers to tweak the process to perfectly fit their organisation’s needs. And once these business processes are live, organisations and their employees can more easily, quickly, and efficiently tackle day-to-day issues, and minimise the number of inessential tasks that can distract from more important, impactful work.
It can be tough to imagine a brighter business future when sombre new economic headlines are appearing each day. But, as with previous disasters such as the COVID-19 lockdowns, businesses can move beyond current crises. Business leaders can help effectively position themselves once difficulties ease by implementing cost-effective organisational changes now.
However, it is critical to remember that becoming more cost efficient will not be the only major solution. Business leaders must also consider new strategies and ideas, such as forecasting cash flow as frequently as possible and monitoring any new tax rules and breaks. Combining cost-cutting efficiencies with new strategic approaches will work wonders in the long run. Then, even in the most challenging trading conditions, business leaders can give themselves the best chance of success.