On June 16, 2013, the Society for Human Resources Management kicked off the 2013 Annual Conference & Exposition in Chicago, Il.
In the opening session, the focus appeared to be two distinct themes: the emerging impact that the global economy is playing on our domestic workforce and GDP and the importance of employee development and training.
In the first keynote address, Fareed Zakaria (host CNN’s flagship foreign affairs show, Editor-at-Large of TIME Magazine, Washington Post columnist, and New York Times bestselling author) had this to say about the global economy:
“After the recent recession, the GDP is growing but the jobs are not…We need a whole new concept of what it means to educate and train people.”
Following Mr. Zakaria, The Honorable Hillary Clinton (American politician and diplomat who was the 67th United States Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013) spoke on the importance of team cohesion and education in the workplace:
“Success is measured on how well you get people to work together.”
In order for small businesses to remain competitive, it is imperative to stay ahead of the curve of the impact that the global economy has on our own domestic economy. This can be done by building IN by strengthening your current workforce.
My advice to small businesses would be the following:
The world is only getting flatter and our computers are only getting smarter – so embrace and adapt. Zakaria mentioned in his speech that global economies are on the rise as a result of political stability, economic convergence and technology advancement. Small businesses must embrace these changes and respond by keeping an ear on Washington and the changing legislative landscape, keeping an eye on the pulse of their competitors (both domestic and abroad), and taking inventory on internal IT and workforce infrastructure.
Training should not be seen as an expense but rather an investment in competitive advantage. Long gone are the days where training is seen as a vacation and not as an investment. Many small businesses have tight training budgets but I’d caution that this can result in a workforce that has lost it’s step, is out-innovated by competitors and relies on outdated technology that moves at the speed of yesteryear’s business. What should small businesses do in lieu of the usual training conferences and workshops? Get creative. Hire consultants who can train staff on updated technology, processes and research. This will be a way to see real-time training be met with real-life application on the job. Task your staff members with reading the latest blogs and industry trends. Learning how to be effective on your job doesn’t stop once you graduate from school and your staff’s career experience is not wide enough to account for all the nuances that can come in today’s business. Keeping your staff active through reading and writing can be a low to no-cost way to train and grow and can spark innovation that leads to a faster, better, strong and more engaged workforce.
There’s technology that you don’t know about… but your competitors do. This is probably the greatest divider between successful small businesses and not so successful ones. Start-ups who seem to make a big impact in their industry right away are probably doing so with the help of useful tools and apps that tech-averse firms have no clue about. I would recommend consulting with industry thought leaders about tools they use to perform within the industry and consult with any progressive start-up on what tools they use to “do more with less” – as most small businesses strive to do these days. If you send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, I’d be happy to share some of the tools and strategies that have helped Jumpstart:HR along the way. Most tools these days are built with the goal of automating administrative or menial tasks which can either allow you to operate a leaner workforce or a more focused workforce.
Be sure to follow my Twitter feed (@JVPsaid) for more tweets on HR for Small Business as an official blogger for SHRM’s 2013 Annual Conference and Exposition from June 16 – 19, 2013.
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