Increasing your bottom line – is it time for a Digital Makeover?

Increasing your bottom line – is it time for a Digital Makeover?

How long has it been since you had a digital makeover?  Is your business match fit for the 21st Century?  Research by the Federation of Small Business (FSB) suggests that even minimal expenditure of less than £3k on upgrading hardware can see your turnover increase by 35% within the year and those spending the same amount on software, can see increases of up to 40%.

Investing in technology doesn’t need to break the bank, but can have positive effects on how companies communicate with existing customers and also in targeting new customers.


So what positive steps should you take to optimise your use of and investment in technology?  Where should you start?


The obvious place to start is your window to the world – your website.  A recent report by the BBC found that approximately 20% of UK businesses don’t even have a website, let alone an engaging one.  In this technological age, customers expect you to at least have a website and with the increase in gadgets, they expect to be able to view it on any device.  If your website has not kept up with technological advancement, it may not be compatible with the latest web browsers or easily viewed on mobile devices.  With Adobe Flash no longer being supported by Google Android and Apple devices unable to view websites built using Flash, keeping abreast of technologies has never been more important to ensure your website is responsive.  You need to be using the latest versions of programming languages, HTML5, CSS and Java to make websites accessible across all platforms and devices.


It goes without saying that as well as your website, you also need a presence on social media – Facebook and Twitter should be a bare minimum for consumer-facing companies.  Social media has become a foundation in the way businesses and brands connect with consumer with 74% of consumers citing relying on social media to make purchasing decisions and over 50% of people recommending companies and products on Twitter.

But what about your back office?

The FSB is also reminding companies to apply the digital makeover to their back office as well as the customer facing elements.  “Improving your back office processes – is one of the best things businesses can do to improve productivity”.  However, whilst great deal of progress has been made in optimising paper flow, little or no effort has been invested in ensuring that back-office departments have the right number of employees, with the right skills, to do the right job, at the right time.  Even with the best workflow operations, people are still needed to process transactions – it is just as important to invest in human capital as well, changing the behaviour of employees and developing their IT skills.

Fix your Broken Team

How replacing your staff one at a time can rejuvenate your business

Are your results being hampered by lazy employees? Those employees that do just enough to get by and no more. If your business has good market share, potential and a good strategy but you are still getting poor results then it’s likely the cause is ‘coasting’ members of your team. Sometimes management can see this but often it takes someone else to point it out. But what can you do about these bottom-feeders who are holding your business back? How can you get quality personnel to fill their place? The answer is to rebuild your team employee by employee. Read on to find out how.

Firstly, it’s important to remember that unless you are in a position to close down business while you rebuild your team, this will be a gradual process and will not happen overnight.  However, it will be worth it.  Rather like repairing a plane in flight, you will be able to make changes that will improve your business without slowing down. Unproductive colleagues can cause problems right across your team, hampering motivation and productivity in even your most committed.  With this step-by-step guide you will be able to perform a complete redress of your staffing without interfering with your trading.

1. Identify your ‘Bottom-Feeders’
Review your staffing at least once a week.  Look at each team member and determine his or her appropriateness for the business. Use a spreadsheet to keep notes and strategies current so they can be continuously reviewed. Star any employees that are ‘on the bubble’ or are delivering questionable value.

Find out if the poor producers have potential. It’s incredibly common for management to want to replace without looking at an individual’s potential. Sometimes they are amazed when they see a minimal employee blossom. Do you know what their skills or interests are?  It could be that they are better suited to a different job within your organisation. It is usually better to give the minimal employee a chance or opportunity – if they do not want it they will often resign.

Deal with one employee at a time and you may find that existing under-performing team members become happier and more productive in their roles now that they are not being dragged down by others.

2.  Refresh your contractors continually
Remember the reasons you chose to hire contract workers.  Contract workers are a high value choice as they are often highly specialised and skilled, with a wide breadth of experience and bring a fresh perspective into your business.  However, after 12 weeks they are entitled to the same benefits as your permanent employees.  In addition to this, the freshness they originally brought to your organisation will begin to stale as they stagnate in an aging project.

Solve these problems by ensuring you are constantly assessing the type of contractors you need in your team and that they work no longer than 12 weeks with you, in order to ensure compliance with the Agency Workers Regulations (AWR).  Continuously assessing your contractors will allow you to constantly bring in a fresh stream of new talent with no hard feelings when the time comes to ‘part company’.  Here at Langley James we can find you the very best contractor talent to help your business grow.

3.  Who to hire next
When you have looked at your team and identified where replacements need to be made it is vital to source the best possible people to rejuvenate your company.  View employees as resources and profit centres – not just expenses. Minimal employees are usually cheaper but deliver much less value.

The key to building a successful team is to make sure each new hire is an improvement on what you have already.  At Langley James we can assist you to find IT professionals who fit all your exacting criteria. Look at work ethic, values, maturity, drive and creativity… truly amazing things happen when you replace a ‘bad apple’ with a quality member of staff.  Look for ‘breakthrough’ employees that can bring high value quickly. This is usually a factor of skill, experience and work ethic. This can bring a corresponding sharp spike in performance.

Make sure you are hiring to meet the demands of your business.  Constantly monitor the market and what needs to be delivered to your customers.  Think about this on a daily basis and it will become second nature.
4.  How to keep your team performing
Create a culture of delivering.  Annual reviews are not enough!  Measure and evaluate your workforce on a weekly basis.  This is not putting your staff under undue scrutiny if done properly and it is well worth the time and effort.  Make sure each member of staff has specific criteria to measure themselves against, specific to their job description.  Self-evaluation is as important (if not more so) than the evaluation you deliver.  After all, it is the employee’s job to be accountable, not management’s.  It is management’s responsibility to do something about the lack of accountability if it is not there. This makes it much easier to deal with those tough decisions if the time comes.

Whilst, those ‘bottom-feeding’ employees may do everything they can to avoid the attention those who want to do well will welcome the direction and opportunity to improve.  Your star employees will relish these meetings as a way of furthering their career and celebrating their achievements.

Have a career and training plan for each employee.  These weekly meeting are a fantastic way of keeping on track with these and ensuring they are still relevant.  Be approachable: when your staff and contractors are at ease with these weekly communications you will find they start to bring issues to your attention rather than you spending time and effort investigating who isn’t performing.

Make sure that in addition to weekly evaluations you perform formal reviews at least twice a year, preferably quarterly.  Think of the weekly meetings as a GPS system, ensuring that your staff are heading in the right direction and making good progress whilst avoiding obstacles, but the formal reviews are for taking stock of where the team member has arrived.  How much progress has been made?  Where are they heading next?

Make sure every member of your team understands other people’s roles.  Lack of understanding of what others bring to a company can cause friction and resentment.  In addition to this, create a culture where colleagues can train, support and mentor each other.  This can go a long way towards raising standards.

Make sure you include your contractors in your weekly evaluations: 12 weeks is an absolute maximum for keeping a contractor on and if your business needs require a different skill-set to that which your existing contractors can provide then it is only fair for both you and your contractor to have a change and get the best out of your staffing.

5:  Be persistent
The key to maintaining a high performing team is consistency.  Continual evaluation of what your team members deliver will keep their motivation high and you informed.  You will become aware of any weaknesses in your team so you are able to hire to fill a skills-gap rapidly.

Always be in recruitment mode: as you know, things can change rapidly in business.  With persistence you can be in a position to immediately know exactly the sort of person you need to hire in order to react to these changes. When it comes to contract workers you are in a position to assess their value on a daily basis should you choose in order to get the maximum value from these precious resources.  Of course, if you need help or advice we at Langley James are happy to use our wealth of experience to help you find the perfect IT employee.

Has your business been affected by poor employee performance?  We’d love to hear about your experiences or any advice you have to give other managers and business owners.  Tweet us @ITRecruitment or visit us on Facebook