Why businesses must prepare for next generation of workers

Many business rely on a mindset that views successes of the past as gateways to the future. After all, if it worked before, it should work again. Yet, given the rapid nature of technology and the changing landscape of all businesses, this is a shortsighted approach very few companies can afford to take.

This is doubly so given the new generation of workers. As the internet age has shown, the world has changed rapidly. More people are interacting, more jobs and opportunities have become available and knowledge is no longer hard to acquire.

The generational disconnect

One survey clearly conveyed this point.

The study, by the firm Fuze, examined the attitudes and expectations of 5,000 workers and 2,500 teenagers. What they found, as Information Age reports,  was “teenage respondents were 25% more likely than today’s employees to view a smartphone as an essential work item”. Further, three quarters of the teenagers asserted the latest technology is essential for work. Only about 2% of the teenagers surveyed even used a landline, “preferring text-based, video and mobile communication.”

This is in line with another study of British employees. This found “a significant disconnect between the needs of a digital-savvy working population and the digital services UK employers are currently providing.”

Clearly, something must change.

Businesses must catch up

Technology changes entire landscapes, from education to business. Employees not keeping up technologically will frustrate their employees. Work will suffer and, thus, harm the company. This isn’t merely about owning the fastest computers. It’s that apps, technology, websites and all manner of services require technology which match today’s standards.

The fact is, businesses refusing to update their technology are like VCR repair stores who doggedly refused to accept DVD’s. This might mean businesses should consider equipment finance in an effort to keep their equipment and materials current.

However, it also impacts a future workforce. Considering your current current workforce will retire and move on, businesses must recognise what the next generation values. Smartphones, as we noted, are essential to people’s lives and their ability to work. Making little effort to accommodate such priorities will mean the next generation of workers might look elsewhere for a job.

It’s essential for a business’ continued existence, not simply because workers want faster computers. Businesses don’t exist in a vacuum. You will be working with clients and associates on technology that requires you to be up-to-date. If you are not, this will bring about a bad reputation for you and your business.

What makes people purchase on the spot

Most of us do not deliberate for too long on most items we buy. We tend to purchase based on factors that aren’t as rational as we’d like. Sometimes we purchase based on what our friends or loved ones have owned. We assume big name brands are better than unknown ones. We also assume the more expensive an item is the better it must be.

All this forms a basis for why impulse buying happens. It’s reinforced by various cognitive biases everyone has.

For example, the confirmation bias hugely affects our behaviour by focusing on positive responses. As io9 points out,  confirmation bias is “the often unconscious act of referencing only those perspectives that fuel our pre-existing views, while at the same time ignoring or dismissing opinions — no matter how valid — that threaten our world view.”

How biases affect impulse buying

It simply cannot be the case that impulse buying is always a good decision. Yet, as Philip Graves, who studies consumer behaviour, points out, impulse buying is driven by confirmation bias. Graves writes:

“the feel-good buzz that comes from spontaneously buying something that turns out to be a great buy leaves a much greater impression in our memories than the product that was bought in the same way but never used.”

People are getting to a point of sale location, finding an item they possibly had not considered before and purchasing it on the spot. No research has gone into the product’s efficacy. If the product ends up being a dud, the consumer’s bias will render this invisible. Instead, all the other positive purchases will be more prominent (note, this is even the case if the negative outweighs the positive, since the bias is about remembering, not factual balancing).

Business and consumer responses

Impulse buying was not concocted or forced on by businesses. It’s the consumer’s own behaviour and their response to a situation. This does not negate businesses obviously want to find ways to extend their profits.

Impulse buying does remove the stress of deliberation. It means not spending enormous amounts of time pondering every intricate detail of a product. We certainly don’t need to do a thorough background check for dishwashing liquid, for example.

Psychologist Ian Zimmerman offers a suggestion to consumers, if they really want to help set up barriers to impulse buying: “An easy way to tell if a purchase is impulsive is to ask ‘Did I plan to buy this, or did I get the urge to buy it just now?’”

How businesses respond to this behaviour, however, will also influence how consumers spend.

Small businesses must invest in BPA. Here’s why:

goBusiness process automation (BPA) includes software solutions such as accounting software and inventory control software. These solutions automate administrative and financial functions within a business and when the company is a large enterprise they often implement a robust solution such as enterprise resource planning software.

There’s a strong belief among small businesses that handling all their functions manually is more cost-effective than investing in BPA – this is inaccurate

BPA can assist small companies in many different ways but most importantly it underpins a business’ scalability. Most entrepreneurs don’t start their business venture with the hope that it remains a one-man show or a small entity. In fact, entrepreneurial activities are embarked on often with the purpose of attracting investment and exit strategies are included in the game plan so that they are available for acquisition if the opportunity arises. Therefore, using available business finance to invest in BPA solutions to assist with efficiency and ensuring accuracy in areas such as financial consolidation is important. When the likes of bookkeeping and inventory control or even customer relationship management (CRM) are handled manually there is room for inaccuracies caused by human error and inefficiency in finding pertinent documents or have a sub-par archiving system. Efficiency, speed and accuracy are paramount to business success resulting in increased profit margins.

Small businesses with streamlined integrated processes are far easier to manage as they grow and as they increase their staff complement

The different silos of data that a company has to hold onto for operational purposes are many and the information remains disparate which means that consolidating data between operations is difficult and time-consuming. Whereas using BPA solutions that offer modular systems that grow as the business grows and integrate with other systems is ideal as reporting, consolidation and updating information is quick and easy.

Many consumers enjoy dealing with small businesses as they receive personalised, individual attention but cracks will begin appearing should the business lack efficiency

By automating everyday tasks and reporting, more time can be spent on the customer interaction and service delivery. What’s more BPA results in a quicker invoicing and payment system, with information on hand should a customer have a query. Also, customer data can be compiled which will ultimately assist the business with understanding its consumer.

Selling premium products with ease

good_salesman

A lack of confidence can come about for many sales persons who need to sell expensive products. There is a false belief that it is harder to sell expensive products due to the fact that they are high margin items as well as the ones that keep the business in the green. To be able to sell upmarket quality products, the sales approach needs to change, as well as the thinking behind it.

 

An open-minded approach

 

Sales people will look at a customer viewing the product and automatically cut off any thought that the customer is actually going to purchase the product, especially if they look hesitant. Never assume a client is not going to open up their wallet. The mere fact that they are hesitant leaves enough room for a well trained salesperson to swoop in and convince his or her customer to buy the product.

 

Emphasis on problem solving

 

A customer believes a product will ease a burden or solve their problem, will reach deep into their pockets with ease. Even the most frugal people will happily part with their money to solve their problems. The salesperson’s job is to find out what the customer’s problem is and strategically explain how the product can be beneficial to them. One of the biggest flaws in a sales pitch can be to focus more on the features of the product rather than to bring up the benefits that the product has to offer.

 

Nudge the customer in the right direction

 

Business finance can only get a company so far in their venture to becoming a success. The second half of the process is reeling in customers to keep the business afloat. Say you in to a wellness store and there are three home-exercise machines on display. One is an exercise bike for the price of R3000, the other is a elliptical machine for R3600 and the next is a heart rate monitor for R4000. The most likely option for any salesperson to choose to pitch would be the heart rate monitor, due to the fact that the highest end option is not the one that a customer would gravitate to. However, the tactic for pitching the most expensive first has proven its success rate. The less expensive product would then seem more appealing and reasonable in comparison to the more expensive one.

 

“You can do the same in your own business by creating super premium offerings and putting them up for sale at super premium prices. This creates a psychological push toward the item you really want to sell,” says Entrepreneur writer, Brian Horn.

 

How workplaces can encourage healthy living

A healthy staff member is a quality worker. Without health issues, workers can focus primarily on the work at hand, getting the job done. Your business will produce work on time, to clients’ satisfaction and will do so consistently, provided your staff are healthy. Sick staff means entire projects are stalled, as various skills from staff are not available, since the employee is unavailable. Stalled projects spill over into other projects, setting the estimated timeline for your work back significantly.

There is plenty of data to back up what many know to be true. As Christina Merhar points out:

“According to a Quantum Workplace report, employees are 14% more engaged when provided time off to recharge, 10% more engaged when provided health food options, 18% more engaged when provided time for healthy activities,  and 18% more engaged when provided a flexible schedule.”

Healthy employees benefit the business. The question is how a business can encourage this. A good way is to examine how other businesses have done so.

Healthy cycle

One business, which focuses on all things bikes – bicycle parts, equipment and so on – decided to try their hand at facilitating the lifestyle essential to their own brand.

SRAM, the company, moved into new offices and recognised something important. FastCoDesign reports:

“most of SRAM’s 150 Chicago employees bike to work. So Perkins+Will overhauled a space in the building’s basement for 200 bike racks, a full locker room with showers, and even a bike-washing station.”

This is a smart move since it encourages both the brand, fits in with most of the employees and encourages a healthy lifestyle. Creating this kind of space makes it easier for the employees to remain healthy. They don’t have to go out their way to, for example, find a race track.

More effort going into an activity means less incentive to do it. By making the activity convenient, there are fewer excuses you can make to avoid staying healthy.

Practical responses

Not all businesses are cycling ones, however. The average business can rather focus on other ways to maintain a healthy workforce.

The first obvious way is to pay employees properly. That is, enough to actually survive on. Businesses, of course, already do this. Some might try deduct from the total wage with strange payments the employee might not know about. Remember, you’ll end up paying more by short-changing your employee. You’re not actually saving, since not being able to live well in itself leads to more sickness. You will basically be paying for many sick employees, if you don’t give a decent wage.

Business could fund healthy food options at the workplace. Junk food is often acquired because it is convenient and quick.

Instead, businesses can have fruit, vegetables and other healthy items always stocked and fresh. A budget can be set aside for this. Remember, this is paying for healthy staff, which means better work. This isn’t an unnecessary expense, but essential to the bigger picture of a functioning business.

This is why other options, like hiring professional masseuses, dieticians and so on could also prove essential to keeping your staff happy and healthy.

Problems facing Africa in 2016 and how to solve them

Africa faces enormous issues, yet has the potential to also overcome them. As a region, Africa has long fascinated financial analysts. Considering how much European countries obtained from Africa during colonial times, African countries are still struggling to pull themselves together in order to, once again, be functional. All these issues are related to the countries’ economic status.

Paul Collier, an Oxford professor of economics, examined Africa in the Financial Times. He focused on three particular issues in Africa requiring immediate solutions.

First problem: Foreign control

He writes: “The first [problem] is that the region has failed to diversify into labour-intensive manufactures.” Collier notes Africa missed the globalisation boat, as much of the Asian market dominated these regions. The region also lost out because the African coast suffered and suffers from enormous instability.

Unfortunately, due to this instability, the regions are under control by foreign markets, rather than being in control of these markets. Collier highlights various trade policies able to benefit the region, however.

Second problem: Growth and accountability

The second issue is a major one.

“The resource-rich countries have almost all failed to harness windfalls for sustained growth. High commodity prices and new discoveries make this a vital opportunity. Current high growth rates in resource-rich Africa do not imply the problem has been cracked: Africa has had such booms before. Indeed, the norm has been booms followed by a decade of decline. It would be tragic if this history were repeated.”

To break the cycle, Collier suggests “better accountability in public spending.”

The issue of accountability is one often tackled by major institutions. The South African Institute for International Affairs (SAIIA) at Wits University, for example, recently published a book examining accountability in Africa. The book’s conclusion was that the African continent often has good laws and policies, but weak institutions for implementing them.

Third problem: Political instability

Collier’s third point focuses on political instability and upheaval as a constant danger facing the region. He suggests a greater international security presence to keep order and maintain safety.

Another suggestion for maintaining stability is growing the local community. Key to this is focusing on creating a viable business environment, where new entrepreneurs can flourish and raise up those around them. For example, more energy, time and attention could be given to business schools in Johannesburg, Harare, Cairo and other major cities.

While Africa has numerous issues, there are also plenty of opportunities. It’s important to reflect on responses to issues, instead of merely pointing the issues out. This might be the first step to solving them, but too often some might stop there and view it as unsurmountable. As we’ve seen, there are solutions, however complicated they may be.

Best stock take procedure for your business

 

officeWhether you love it or hate it or only do it because you don’t have to be out on the floor dealing with customers, stock taking takes an organised mind to conquer it. Stock taking is an important part of business that will help managers evaluate  physical stock and match it to the inventory records.

This will highlight any discrepancies and identify any issues that you’re not aware of. Informed decisions can be made once there is an accurate account of stock movements and stock on hand. This will allow management to oversee any damaged stock, slow purchased items, warehouse processes and technology obsolescence.

 

Get your stock take tools ready

Keep your stock sheets at hand and don’t forget add the numbers of inventory that is in stock. All the barcoded inventory needs to be clearly written down.

Calculators and clipboards are necessary for working as you’re walking and checking items.

Hand held scanners are to be used for all bar-coded inventory.

Write-off sheets will help you keep track of the condition of each item as you count.

Different coloured pens can be used for keeping track of different stock.

 

Identify stock and its whereabouts

Start every stock take by identifying the different stock, the supplier and where it is from. Remember to update your inventory management software beforehand so that no stock is missing from your list of inventory. Keep stock separate that has been invoiced by a client, but is still located in the warehouse. Similarly you would want to note the stock received, but hasn’t been recorded in the books yet. Always make sure stock held at different locations is accounted for.

 

Do a thorough check

Record any discrepancies that may arise and do the necessary follow up. For good measure, do a double check of boxed items. The package may say 50 items but if there are only 48 items this lead to an inventory miscount. Mishaps like these have led to people losing their jobs.

 

Keep an update of all records

After you have done your stock take, finish up by placing all documentation in a secure location, and not only on the hard drive. If you can, store it on the cloud. That will save you much more than you can possibly imagine. Do update all records and note any changes that will allow for making informed business decisions.

Why communities need to care about scrapyards

Recently, various security and health agencies raided illegal scrapyards in parts of Johannesburg. As Souther Courier reports: “Eight cars were impounded, five panel beating workshops closed down, 10 people fined amounts of up to R1 500 and several others issued with verbal and written warnings.” This was an enormous raid, involving many groups, from the South African Police Service (SAPS) to the City’s Environmental Health Department.

Many don’t realise the importance of clamping down on illegal scrapyards. Within these spaces, there is no oversight as to what enters and is processed in the yard. Without having to report and adhere to any proper rules or guidelines, such places can easily lead to health violations and toxic waste. Whether it’s a rodent infestation or a collection of metals dangerous to the environment, the surrounding communities are the ones that suffer.

This is why proper scrapyards are important. By having oversight from proper authorities, vehicles can be properly disposed of. Caring about vehicles isn’t just about focusing on how well they travel while we use them. We also need to care about how we’ll get rid of them. After all, what happens to vehicles after they’re used will have repercussions on how we make future vehicles. The materials used has the possibility of being reused, instead of having to dig into the Earth to produce yet more material. In other words, all this matters because we can recycle.

Instead of being places where illegal and dangerous activity takes place, scrapyards can be places where recycling and green initiatives can take place. Though we don’t often associate scrapyards or the vehicle industry with green initiatives, there’s no reason we should not. After all, in scrapyards metal can be recycled. In America alone, more than 150 million metric tons of scrap metals are recycled every single year. This means a greater relief on mining demands, using less resources not only in terms of fewer raw materials but the cost in acquiring them, too.

This is a benefit to everyone, especially the motor industry. This allows us to create more vehicles and helps portray the industry as one helping, not harming, the environment.

The implications are far-reaching. This is why raids on illegal scrapyards, like the one in Johannesburg, are worth celebrating. We should want places encouraging eco-friendly activity, not ones sidestepping the law. Otherwise, this poses a danger to the community, inviting unwanted criminal activity, pollution and dangerous waste that harms everyone.

The increasing propsects of space mining

agriDespite appearances, the earth and its resources are finite. Alternative energy has not merely been about finding eco-friendly alternatives, but resource alternatives. After all, there will be a point when many resources dry up and we must begin looking elsewhere.

One place we’re looking is, remarkably, space. Jean-Jacques Dordain, the former director general of the European Space Agency, recently announced the agency’s entry into the space-mining race. Space-mining is about extracting important resources from near-earth asteroids and is no longer the domain of science fiction.

This year, for example, NASA’s mission “OSIRIS-Rex” aims to launch a probe to nearby asteroid Bennu. They’re hoping the probe will reach the asteroid by 2018 and return samples to Earth in 2023. One of the agency’s key goals is to obtain more data about how to mine asteroids.

Asteroids are ideal because they are leftovers from the solar system’s origins from 4.5-billion years ago. This means they are generally richer in valuable materials, more so than the Earth’s crust.

We so closely associate mining with digging down into the Earth, we often don’t consider mining in space to be anything but fantasy. Yet, far from fantasy, it could prove to be necessity. This is why it’s imperative the mining industry begin taking notice about this possible future. After all, if even NASA is focusing some parts of their efforts in this area, mining itself certainly should be.

Of course, many businesses are primarily trying to exist, let alone research the future. Many are more focused on investing in the immediate future, using methods like machinery finance, in an attempt to stay ahead. They can’t stay so far ahead they’re literally in the sky, however. Negotiating this balance might be the key component of mining going forward.

Yet, no business wants to be left behind, when the future is staring them in the face. This is particularly so given the reality of the situation: where resources are depleting, where alternatives aren’t yet feasible, where the future appears to be in the stars. Pouring too little into this might mean we are left behind, but pouring too much means we never go further.

The businesses that will succeed in the coming years will be those recognising the balance. There is no perfect solution but one thing mining can definitely not do is ignore the implications of space and all the untapped resources floating in the dark.

 

sources:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuters/article-3468664/Space-mining-race-heats-asteroid-Andy-Home.html

http://www.bdlive.co.za/business/innovation/2016/02/16/asteroid-mining-plan-not-such-a-crazy-space-oddity

http://earthsky.org/space/update-osiris-rex-mission-asteroid-bennu

http://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/new-nasa-mission-to-help-us-learn-how-to-mine-asteroids

 

machinery finance

https://www.wesbank.co.za/wesbankcoza/forbusiness/retail

 

 

 

What African succcess looks like

When examining the current status of Africa, many might consider it to be in a desperate position. Yet, too often we overlook the success stories and the areas where, financially, Africa succeeds where most other regions flop. Despite various African countries doing poorly in terms of, say, currency, there are still viable financial incentives for foreign investment proving beneficial to everyone.

The housing market

A good example must be property. This can be seen in many African areas, but must be noted in South Africa. Shaun Rademeyer, a property analyst, told TimesLIVE:

“Despite dips in foreign investor confidence‚ with the falling rand and the threat of ‘junk status’‚ South Africa continues to remains an attractive and affordable property destination for overseas buyers‚ and we are likely to see more activity in this sector.”

The reasons are obvious. Whether it’s foreigners able to afford entire homes due to the value of their currency or locals using home loans to acquire new property, there is a newfound interest in property. Of course, there are still more buyers than properties – but, according to experts like Rademeyer, this will have the ultimate effect of balancing out a currently uneven market.

Fixing poverty

While there’s no denying issues of poverty affecting the entire continent, there are incredible efforts already being done to improve the situation. For example, Mozambique has done a great deal, as the World Bank highlights:

“Mozambique’s growth episode is one of the longest for low-income countries in recent years. In the period following the end of the civil war in 1992 and free elections in 1994, Mozambique has posted strong economic growth—averaging around 8% a year.”

The reasons are numerous but have directly to do with the government’s “pro-growth economic policies”. The World Bank lists these as: “sound monetary and fiscal policies to promote overall macroeconomic stability; lowering of restrictions on competition, such as price controls and inefficient monopolies; high levels of public investment in post-war reconstruction and infrastructure rehabilitation.”

What one African country does affects other nations. Using key figures who helped lift the country toward growth will make the whole continent better.

Health successes

The continent suffers from numerous disease problems, but can count on rapid responses as a recent success. The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy highlighted recently:

“Representatives from 26 countries in Africa’s “meningitis belt” met yesterday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to celebrate the fact that vaccination campaigns have nearly eliminated serogroup A meningitis cases on the continent, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) press release.”

There has also been enormous push for immunization and fighting childhood diseases, thanks to informed governmental health policies.

All of this shows that Africa is doing enormously well in terms of responding to the various local situations affecting it. Most of these issues aren’t solved, of course, but we shouldn’t overlook the gains already made by those on the continent.