Finding Capable Employees Is Greatest Management Hurdle for Small Businesses
When it comes to running a successful business, finding a highly skilled team of employees is crucial. But it isn't always easy. In a recent survey by Robert Half, six in 10 (60 percent) small business owners said the biggest challenge in hiring or managing staff is finding skilled professionals for the job. About one in five (19 percent) cited maintaining employee morale and productivity as the chief concern.
The survey was developed by Robert Half, the world's first and largest specialized staffing firm. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on interviews with more than 300 small business owners and managers from a stratified random sample of companies with less than 100 employees in the United States.
Small business owners and managers were asked, "Which one of the following is your company's greatest challenge when it comes to hiring and managing staff?" Their responses:
Finding skilled workers - 60%
Maintaining employee morale and productivity - 19%
Managing difficult employees - 8%
Retaining staff - 7%
Something else - 6%
Human Resources Kit For Dummies®, 3rd Edition (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.) by Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half, can help small business owners enhance their recruiting efforts and position themselves as employers of choice. Following are four tips from the book:
Make your company stand out. Small businesses offer advantages that larger companies cannot match. Emphasize the potential for new hires to wear multiple hats and advance quickly. Also, highlight the benefits of working with a small, close-knit group, which may be less common at bigger corporations.
Have an accurate job description. The description of your open position should be specific and identify the must-haves for the job. If a description is too broad or doesn't adequately convey the position's requirements, you run the risk of receiving an overabundance of resumes from unqualified candidates. It's better to have five applicants who definitely deserve an interview than 100 who don't.
Network. Participate in local professional association or community groups to build your personal network. Also, ask your existing employees to provide referrals. Employees tend to recommend strong candidates, since they don't want to tarnish their reputation by recommending professionals who are unequipped for the job.
Work with recruiters. Professional staffing firms can significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to find a qualified applicant. Look for ones that specialize in the field for which you are hiring. For example, if you are hiring an accountant, work with a firm that specializes in filling accounting and finance roles.
Gartner Survey: 75% of Government CIO Budgets Flat or Increasing in 2013
Despite a continuing drive to lower the cost of IT services, nearly 75 percent of government IT budgets globally were reported as flat or increasing in 2013, according to the Gartner Executive Programs 2013 CIO Agenda survey.
When compared to other sectors of the economy, the relatively brighter IT budget outlook in government may be short-lived, according to Gartner analysts. Gartner's CEO and Senior Executive Survey 2013 indicates that private-sector business leaders are poised to boost investments in e-commerce, mobile, cloud, social and other major technology categories. Despite this, Gartner projects a modest compound annual growth rate of 1.3 percent for IT spending in the government and education sectors through to the end of 2017, with increased spending for IT services, software and data centers. These increases are offset by reductions in internal technology services, devices and telecom services.
CIOs in government indicated that reducing overall business costs is now more important than reducing IT costs alone, which will permit government CIOs to accelerate enterprise-scale initiatives. The business and technology priorities of government CIOs are strongly aligned with their peers from all industries globally, with a few small differences.
For the third consecutive year, reducing enterprise costs ranks among the top three business priorities for government CIOs in 2013. In conjunction with the imperative to deliver operational results and the need to modernize IT applications and infrastructure, CIOs have affirmed the means by which IT can be used to transform government agency operations and their own bottom-line accountability to do so.
The top three technology priorities in 2013 have all changed since 2012, with business intelligence and analytics moving from No. 5 to the top spot, followed by legacy modernization and IT management. By placing analytics and business intelligence at the top of the list, government CIOs are addressing government's need to proactively manage programs and services.
As part of the CIO agenda survey, strategic priorities are also investigated and ranked. Improving the government IT organization and workforce has moved to the No. 2 spot in 2013 from No. 9 in 2012, which shifts the responsibilities of CIOs and IT professionals away from most legacy technology services to underserved areas of business need.
The CIO Agenda Survey also indicated that 76 percent of government CIOs have significant leadership responsibilities outside of IT, with only 24 percent having no responsibilities beyond IT. The average tenure of government CIOs is 3.8 years, compared to an average of 4.6 years across all industries.
Companies that invest in their employees' professional development have an edge when recruiting IT professionals, new research from Robert Half Technology suggests. Sixty-eight percent of IT workers surveyed said the ability to acquire new skills is very important when evaluating a job opportunity.
Additionally, 64 percent of respondents said they are very concerned about keeping their skills current in the next three to five years. However, in a separate Robert Half Technology survey, 44 percent of chief information officers (CIOs) said their companies do not have training and development programs for IT professionals.
The IT worker survey was developed and conducted by Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of information technology (IT) professionals on a project and full-time basis. The responses are from more than 7,500 IT workers to a web survey. The CIO survey was developed by Robert Half Technology and conducted by an independent research firm. The survey is based on more than 2,300 telephone interviews with CIOs from a random sample of U.S. companies in 23 major metro areas with 100 or more employees.
IT workers were asked, "When evaluating a job opportunity, how important is the ability to gain new skills in that role?" Their responses:
Very important - 68%
Somewhat important - 30%
Not important - 2%
IT workers were also asked, "How concerned are you about keeping your skills current in the next three to five years?" Their responses:
Very concerned - 64%
Somewhat concerned - 29%
Not concerned - 7%
CIOs were asked, "Does your organization have a training and development program for IT professionals?" Their responses:
Yes - 55%
No - 44%
Don't know - 1%
Robert Half Technology offers employers three tips to help IT staff keep their skills sharp:
Pay for relevant learning. Reimburse staff for relevant online classes, educational conferences and courses offered by professional associations or local colleges. If employees seek (or already hold) industry certifications, consider reimbursing them for the costs to obtain and maintain them.
Be flexible. If your team members are expected to complete professional development courses on their personal time, they may forgo training opportunities altogether. Be willing to make scheduling accommodations or adjust workloads when necessary.
Look inside. If you simply don't have the budget to reimburse employees for continuing education expenses, tap internal subject matter experts. Hold brown-bag training sessions so one employee can educate others on a particular topic. Mentoring arrangements are another proven and cost-efficient way to transfer knowledge and support development.
U.S.-based workers show more initiative and are more innovative and more understanding of the business than offshore workers, a new study that looks on sourcing services in the U.S has found.
These qualities are helping to boost use of domestic IT services, especially as companies move to cloud-based services, said HfS Research, an IT services research firm and consultancy.
Domestic workers also work harder than offshore staff, but not by much. The difference was 83 percent to 79 percent when responders were asked to assign attributes to their U.S.-based and non-U.S.-based staff, said the report, which was based on a survey of 235 enterprise buyers of $1 billion or more in revenue.
In most areas associated with productivity, U.S.-based staff exceeded offshore staff by wide margins in this survey. When it came to cultural and communication skills, U.S. based staff was rated 82 percent versus 33 percent for offshore staff. In taking initiative, it was 77 percent to 40 percent, and for being innovative, it was 77 percent to 45 percent.
When the survey looked at specific IT services functions, the findings narrowed some, but with U.S.-based workers maintaining leads nonetheless. Survey takers were asked, for instance, how satisfied they were with application development work, 77 percent said they very satisfied and satisfied with U.S.-based staff, versus 61 percent for offshore. For IT help desk, it was 71 percent to 54 percent, in favor of U.S. workers.
New Research Shows How Social Media, Mobile, and Advanced Self-Service Help Shape the Customer Experience
The International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) has released its 2013 research report, Extreme Engagement in the Multichannel Contact Center: Leveraging the Emerging Channels Research Report and Best Practices Guide. The study results were collected, compiled and analyzed from a 2013 second quarter poll with over 300 respondents – a mixture of call center executives, directors and managers. Their input painted a compelling picture of how channels such as social media, mobile, and advanced self-service help shape and improve the customer experience, first contact resolution, and customer engagement.
Key findings from the research study include:
Only 25% of companies feel their customers are extremely engaged in their brand
90% of customers find the features of social customer service extremely useful or somewhat useful
93% of customers would be MORE satisfied with customer service if they were offered their channel choice
Self-service is said to increase deflection rate or lower volume to other channels by 57% of study participants
Agents use social media personally, but don't feel comfortable doing so in the contact center
72% consider Mobile a necessary channel; although only 39% of companies support it as a channel.