It's 2020. Our economy is still trying to recover, the workforce now spans four generations (hello, Gen Zs), and the way business is conducted is constantly being redefined by emerging technologies... and this is only a small sample of the disruptive forces we as business owners must consider as we make decisions that will impact the future of our companies.
Luckily, there are a few simple steps you can take to help your business thrive in this changing environment, no matter what line of business you're in.
1. Choose the right technology for your goals.
The construction industry has long been notoriously slow at adopting new technologies in the workplace — a sentiment easily embodied by the old adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
There are certainly situations in which this advice makes sense — for example, replacing your fleet of trucks when the ones you have now work perfectly. However, there are plenty of other situations that require business owners such as yourself to take forward-thinking steps if you want to stay in the game.
More and more business in the construction and oil and gas services industries are realizing this and the industry's technological stagnation is quickly disappearing.
For example, drones (also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or UAVs) are one particular type of technology that's been rapidly changing the construction landscape in a multitude of ways. At Paradox, we made it a priority to have some of our existing team members become certified drone pilots so we could leverage this technology across several departments.
Since taking this step, we've been able to provide our on-site teams and clients with real-time updates — a feat that's practically impossible to accomplish without UAV technology. Furthermore, this footage can often be used by our marketing team to create digital content and to support our sales team, all of which helps strengthen our business.
While drones are one strong example of disruptive technology that could help elevate business in 2020, there are plenty of other options out there that may be more suitable for your business's specific objectives. Before going out and investing in a brand-new fleet of drones, ask yourself, "How will this help my team achieve the goals we've set out to achieve this year?"
If one of your main goals for the year is to increase referrals, and you know from collecting feedback that improving communication throughout the life of a project can help accomplish this, perhaps an investment in some type of project management or communication software would be a more valuable investment for your teams, your clients, and your business than something like drones.
Ultimately, the key here is to do your research first to make sure you're investing in the right technology that will help you and your team achieve its goals.
2. Give employees at all levels opportunities to grow.
We all have to start somewhere.
This year, try to give employees at all levels in your organization the opportunity to participate in events outside of their usual workplace. Whether this is trade shows, networking events, or even community engagement opportunities that your business is leading.
This doesn't mean you necessarily have to take your most successful people out of their usual roles. Maybe you have a couple of superstar employees (let's call them Peter and Paula) who consistently brings back dozens of hot leads from a handful of trade shows that they've been attending every year without fail.
Perhaps instead of ending both Peter and Paula to the same trade shows together again, have one of them — let's say Paula — attend and bring one of your more junior employees along. Then at the next event, Peter gets his turn, and he, too, brings a junior employee along.
Of course, make sure the event in question is appropriate for the employee(s) you're considering sending. You're going to want to make sure that they're comfortable with the situation, and also that it makes sense to have them participate in a given opportunity.
This accomplishes two important objectives:
First, it helps build morale among your employees. If you consistently consider Peter and Paula for opportunities before anyone else, employees are likely to become disengaged at work. Giving everyone the opportunity to participate can help your employees at all levels feel valued and allows them to sharpen their soft skills — a win for both your business and your employees.
Second, it sets your business up for long-term success. By sharing these opportunities among all your employees, you're effectively ensuring that the fate of your company does not lie in the hands of only one or two employees. As loyal as Peter and Paula may be, they are not bound to contribute to your organization's success forever. Making sure all your employees learn how to network and build relationships is an important aspect of business continuity.
3. Encourage a healthy work-life balance.
To remain healthy, happy, and productive, we must be able to overcome stresses in both our personal and professional lives. And since most working people spend at least one third of their time at work, it should come as no surprise that high demands at work has been identified as one of the leading causes of stress and stress-related illnesses.
As managers and employers, it's both within your power and in your best interest to help alleviate the stresses your employees feel as a result of their workplace activities and responsibilities whenever possible.
Of course, the way you choose to do this will look different depending on the resources you have available to commit to this cause, and the unique needs of the people on your team. Here are three simple, yet impactful, practices we've adopted at Paradox that any manager at any business should be able to implement — even on the tightest of budgets:
- Suppress the urge to call on your employees on weekends or during their time off.
- Encourage your employees to leave work at work.
- Encourage engagement and relationship-building in the workplace with activities like barbecues or monthly birthday cake days.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of options available to you to help your employees achieve a fruitful work-life balance, but it is a good place to start. If you want more information on this subject, check out this work-life balance fact sheet from the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety.
"Disruption" in this day and age comes in many forms, and embracing these changes rather than resisting them is oftentimes a smart move to make.
Equally as important as embracing change is being strategic about your decision-making. Remember: To get the most value out of embracing new, disruptive forces, it's critical that your decisions support your overall business goals.
The three steps I've shared above can serve as a manageable way for you to strengthen your operations and put you in a position to achieve your business goals in this new decade, regardless of your company's size or budget.
Of course, you can also stay ahead of the curve by joining hundreds of industry professionals in becoming a Paradox Insider. As an Insider, you'll be the first to hear fresh perspectives on new trends in the construction, engineering, and energy services industries so that you can make informed decisions for your business.