Business Trends to Keep an Eye on in 2017

2016 is beginning to close, and many businesses are looking back at what worked this year and what didn’t. We wanted to look at some positive trends for business from 2016 that we think will remain relevant and continue to grow in the coming year. These trends range from new digital technologies that improve productivity and facilitate remote work to changes to the office management status quo, like the death of the performance review. 2017 will only see these trends grow and evolve, and savvy business owners are already starting to prepare. If you want to join them, here are some things you should take advantage of around the office. Things like…

#1: Increasing Employee Engagement

Millennials are now the number one most populous demographic, both in the workforce and in the average consumer base. Appealing to the new majority consumer demographic is a topic unto itself, but there are some internal things you should also be doing to keep your workforce engaged. Studies have shown that millennials, in particular, have concerns that go well beyond a salary figure. One of these concerns is engagement at work. No one wants to be bored at work, and having a workforce that doesn’t feel challenged kills productivity. If you want to keep your employees from being part of the 70% of workers who feel either less engaged than they would like or actively disengaged at work, here are some things you can do:

  • Organize Goals and Competitions: A little friendly rivalry in the office can motivate employees and increase their investment in their work.
  • Recognize Employees: Publicly acknowledging employees for meeting sales goals, bringing in new business, or having a good attitude around the office can improve morale and greatly increase engagement and responsibility.
  • Offer Relevant Training: One of the biggest motivators for employees is the opportunity for advancement. One of the most common avenues for advancement is additional work-related training and education. This is why one of the best ways to get employees to engage is to offer reimbursement and sponsorships for relevant education, whether that’s additional higher education or just professional development courses.
  • Make Management Available: Employees should feel that management is available, whether you’re running a donut shop with three employees or a Fortune 500 company with thousands of employees. Either way, being transparent and available to your employees is important and something every manager should strive for.

#2: Non-Salary Benefits

Many of the things listed in point number one also classify as non-salary benefits, which employees find increasingly important. You can also do benefits like transportation assistance, carpooling programs, product allowances, childcare assistance, maternity/paternity leave, and financial advice. These benefits are often more enticing and financially efficient than an equivalent salary bump.

These benefits are becoming increasingly popular with employees and employers, and it’s easy to see why. Personalized benefits make an employee feel more appreciated and help employers offer greater satisfaction to their workers.

#3: Embracing New Technologies For Flexible Work

One of the biggest workplace trends, not just in 2016 but in the past decade or so, has been the rise of telecommuting. Telecommuting has offered employees and employers greater flexibility in completing work. Working from home has a whole host of benefits, and thanks to some new technologies, it’s becoming easier than ever to take advantage of those benefits.

First, there’s cloud-based filesharing. Hosting files in the cloud allows employees to access them from the office, from home, across the country, or the world. This is more efficient, conducive to collaboration, and environmentally friendly. This also helps to keep your files secure and safe during a disaster.

Second, many employers that offer telecommuting options are taking advantage of Voice Over IP systems, particularly hosted VoIP systems that exist entirely in the cloud, to handle their telecommuters. With a hosted VoIP system, businesses of any size can take advantage of the benefits of an IP phone system, including the ability to route calls to and from anywhere with a stable data connection. This is a great way to keep employees connected and your business running smoothly with simple, reliable communication.

These systems also offer vastly improved analytics, including caller information, call wait times, and response times. This can help businesses of any size see where they can improve their communication with customers promptly and efficiently. This leads nicely to our final trend to watch for 2017.

#4: Leveraging Data and Big Analytics

Data and analytics drive a large portion of our economy now, with companies like Google and Facebook building billion-dollar tech empires on strong data analysis. Of course, you don’t have to be a multi-national (and soon to be multi-planet) tech giant to take advantage of “Big Data.” Every business has something they can advertise, and taking advantage of the consumer data that ad giants like Google, Facebook, Bing, and others offer is a key factor in your online success. The signs point to more customers spending money online, so it’s best for any business with a product to sell, whether selling to end consumers or a B2B outfit, to get that product information in front of the right people. Whether your target customer is across the street or the world, big data makes this possible.

Of course, internal analytics are also important. Tracking productivity, deadlines, and other workplace milestones, as well as customer and employee satisfaction, can go a long way toward keeping managers apprised of what areas need extra attention. Other areas, such as asset logistics, time management, and marketing and recruitment, can also greatly benefit from the additional scrutiny detailed analytics offers, which every business owner should consider carefully.

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