Technology is helping small businesses do more with less. This helps them compete with larger businesses that used to have a competitive advantage due to their ability to buy and distribute in bulk to offer lower prices. Small businesses are not the only ones benefitting from technology, however. Technology also helps larger businesses streamline their processes, gain better insights into where their business is booming and where it is failing and even cut down on waste. One of the many things that technology is helping businesses to do is to better manage their human resources. Here are 4 ways that technology can help you streamline your staff management.
1. Centralize access to the most up-to-date information
A great deal of time is spent transferring documents and information back and forth between departments and even within departments. HR in particular is often inundated with requests for information regarding benefits and incentive packages. In many cases, employees end up with out-of-date SOP’s or other forms, documents and paperwork stored on hard drives that they end up passing along to others. This is like the members of a football team all working from a different playbook.
No matter how large or small your business may be, setting up a secure internal intranet can help keep everyone in the loop and working from the same playbook. An intranet also offers powerful search features, which can help employees quickly find just what they need exactly when they need it.
2. Better scheduling
Scheduling often remains one of the biggest nightmares of most businesses. The truth is, employees have lives, which often come into conflict with the needs of the business. Large businesses struggle with having a bigger staff to manage, but small businesses struggle with having a single individual overseeing a number of employees. Automating your scheduling can go a long way towards keeping everyone happy.
Business owners and managers can input the scheduling needs of their business and employees can request time off or make shift changes directly in the system. If an employee is trying to trade shifts with someone who is not actually qualified to do their job, the system can check for that as well. Automating your scheduling helps avoid double booking employees or booking employees when you verbally agreed to give them time off. It also ensures you don’t end up with three of your 15 employees all out on vacation at the same time.
3. Better communication
It is important to keep in mind that more communication is not necessarily better communication. Employees are often inundated with so much communication through so many channels that they don’t have any time to actually get their work done. In addition, requests for information can start in an email, get sent back via chat and passed on to someone else via text message. This makes continuity almost impossible and information can’t be adequately searched when so many outlets are involved.
Effective communication requires setting up specific channels for specific types of communications and keeping them consistent. Instead of allowing your administrative assistant to send out several emails a day about general office business, you can set up a digital bulletin board that employees can check once a day. Individual departments or teams can still communication via their preferred method of communication internally, but you can use a secure intranet for inter-departmental communications. The best part about digital bulletin boards, however, is you can also post items in a single office or across the globe right from your desk.
4. Use the right tools
Theoretically, you can remove a Phillip’s-head screw with a standard screwdriver. If you need to remove one screw, it can do the job just fine, but if you need to remove 100 screws, your efficiency will diminish significantly. Having the right tools can significantly increase productivity and create a smooth, streamlined process. Using the wrong tools not only leads to decreased efficiency, but often results in a frustrated staff, which can in turn have a decidedly negative effect on the work environment as a whole.
Getting the right tools, however, also requires balance. The exact right tool for your accounting department might be different from your marketing department, while the tool that is right for the business as a whole may be more suited to sales than to marketing or finance. As in all of life, the needs of the individual (or department) have to always be balanced against the collective needs of the business as a whole. Remember the goal is not necessarily to make everyone happy, its to get everyone working together efficiently. Knowing you are doing your job well, however, creates job satisfaction, which will trump happiness every time. Providing the right tools for your staff to do their jobs well can create a far better environment for all of your employees.
Managers and small business owners can feel overwhelmed by the needs of their staff no to mention severely outnumbered. Technology can help balance the scales. Technology can help your staff operate more independently while still functioning together as a single unit or team. Technology can also help manage traditionally difficult issues like scheduling and the distribution of benefits information. Moving to a new system may cause some turbulence at first, but it can also create far smoother sailing over the long haul.