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Top Three Ways to Deliver Exceptional Service

Monday, Aug. 12th 2013

Guest blog by George Harris, VP of Business Development at OnForce

Whether you’re a managed service provider, an OEM, a VAR, or even a full-service company in the 3rd-party arena, achieving exceptional service is always a top part of your organizational mission. Although your product or service may be very different from the company down the street, that goal remains the same.

As George Harris, VP of Business Development at OnForce says, “There are a hundred ways to bake a cake, but some taste better than others.” How can you make sure that your efforts are resulting in a robust, tasty strategy? Here are Harris’ picks for top ways to garner exceptional service.

  • With a certified, qualified tech trained on a specific product. When bringing in a tech, look for one trained by a manufacturer or who’s been through a formal training program — that way, they understand how a product is being used. Also, glance at work history and get a sense of a tech’s skills and knowledgebase. You want someone who can keep pace with innovation, and supplement existing skills with fresh ones in order to stay sharp in today’s rapidly changing business marketplace. So, find indications of that in a tech’s experience.
  • Bring in a tech who understands the business environment in which your product or service is being used — knowing the details of a product is crucial, but a tech should also be savvy about how that product is affecting your business or your industry.
  • Increase your company’s “soft skills” by utilizing techs who have exemplary listening and problem solving skills, as well as true passion for their work. A successful IT consultant will be flexible when on a project, dealing with unexpected issues and seeing solutions instead of problems.

Focusing on these types of strategies helps a company operate with lower margins, keeping costs in line, Harris notes: “You have a workforce that’s available now through an online platform, which helps mitigate most of the concerns through a strong vetting process, verification of certification, background and drug testing, performance reporting, and insurance, so why not make the most of that?”

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Poor Attendance Leads to Poor Results

Thursday, Aug. 8th 2013

By Terry Stockham, Human Capital Advisor at OnForce

According to The American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, the definition of absenteeism is:”Habitual absence from work, thought to reflect employee demoralization or dissatisfaction.”

Absenteeism at work is not only about the direct costs related to an employee’s absence (sick pay, overtime, etc.), but also about the related effects that ripple throughout the organization. Here are just a few examples of the extended impacts of poor attendance:

  • Safety implications: working short-handed, hiring inexperienced temporary staff, or relying on overworked employees on overtime can all lead to increased accidents and downtime, as well as have a negative impact on cost and profitability
  • Productivity loss: because of reduced staff, your company may shorten certain processes to get things done
  • Quality compromised: product and service defects tend to increase when you do not have sufficient staff; also, employees already working a full schedule and asked to put in additional hours tend to make more mistakes
  • Performance loss: high-performing employees with good attendance will gradually become disengaged and their performance will suffer as a result of carrying shifted burdens and workload, especially over an extended period of time
  • Employee turnover: poor attendance may eventually lead to more high-performing employees leaving, compared to low-performing employees. Over time, this dynamic can drastically impact your organization on multiple levels and inhibit its ability to meet the needs of customers in a quality-driven, sustainable, and profitable manner.

As you can see from these examples, attendance issues are reflected not only with employee cost, but also have cost and performance impacts that can affect your entire organization and your bottom line. While attendance is a relatively complex issue with no single solution, there are things you can look for in your organization such as:

CULTURE: Take a hard look at your culture and how employees are treated and recognized for performance. Do you have a culture of inclusion and collaboration rather than “command and control”?

TALENT: To borrow Jim Collins’ phrase: “Are you getting the right people on the bus…in the right seats?” Work environments, cultures, and jobs change over time. The right person, in the right place, at the right time, doing the right things is crucial. Conversely, mismatches result in disengagement and poor attendance.

RECOGNITION: Pay and benefits come to be perceived as entitlements to an employee in a very short time. They are important, but not true motivators. Look at how your organization recognizes the contributions of employees. It is human nature to desire and seek acknowledgment of successes and performance, which is why recognition is a cost-effective way to get lasting results with positive impacts to the bottom line.

JOB STRUCTURE: Review how your jobs are structured. Maybe it’s time for a change. Does the structure of the job challenge and motivate the employee? Does the employee feel he/she can make a difference in his/her current role? If the answer is “no,” it is time for a change. Some jobs may need to be restructured or redesigned to improve employee satisfaction with the work. If this does not help, some duties may need to be outsourced or fulfilled via an appropriate contingent labor model.

If your company has an attendance problem, the key is to act quickly, before it negatively impacts your entire organization.

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Posted by Diana | in Human Resources, Labor Networks, Workplace | Comments Off

OnForce at CompTIA ChannelCon 2013

Monday, Aug. 5th 2013

Members of the OnForce team headed out to Orlando, Florida recently to attend CompTIA’s ChannelCon, formerly Breakaway, event — a big annual training and partnering experience for the IT channel. We like this show a lot because it gives us yet another opportunity to connect with some of our customers and OnForce Pros, and hear about the latest training and resources offered by CompTIA. This year was no exception. We had a steady stream of traffic at our booth, were able to network with many like-minded professionals, and hosted a very lively OnForce Pro luncheon. Icing on the cake was that we were able to award OnForce Pro Robert from FL a brand new Apple iPad Mini. Congratulations Robert!

If you’re an OnForce Pro, we encourage you to take advantage of our special CompTIA certification package programs (if you aren’t already). Today, we have a Membership and Membership Trustmark Bundle program in market. By joining today, you can save $100 off the first year of the annual Solution Provider membership ($150 versus $250). For more information, please contact our Pro Community Director at Don.Anderson@OnForce.com.

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Workforce Problems: Are You Addressing the Symptoms or the Cause?

Friday, Jul. 19th 2013

Guest Blog: Terry Stockham, Human Capital Advisor at OnForce

The Director of Sales at an FMCG organization contacts the company’s HR manager and requests sales training for his staff. Recent high turnover in the sales team has depleted the experienced staff and left him with the majority of the sales members with less than 3 months on the job. He also instructs the marketing team to create a new ad campaign to bolster slumping sales (sales have been declining over the past six months).

Three months later, the sales staff is fully trained and the new ad campaign is running, but sales are still declining. In addition, costs to conduct the sales training and support marketing efforts amounted to $3.5 million. To address this issue, the Director of Sales decides to talk with the company president and they decide to bring in a consultant.

Very quickly, the consultant discovers the real problem is in the production of the company’s products. The production process has not changed in over 20 years. High demand had taken its toll on the employees, processes, and equipment in the production department. The quantity and quality of the product line were the real cause of slumping sales! The production workforce was completely disengaged; they just didn’t care anymore. They had brought the problems forward to management many times, but their complaints were ignored. They were just told to work harder and faster.

It may seem strange that management did not recognize or address the production problems, but it is a true story! They treated the symptoms of the problem and ignored the true cause of the problem.

What can you do to avoid making the same mistake when addressing business problems? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Don’t react – respond. Do not panic and impulsively react to a symptom. Take the time needed to investigate the entire issue before taking action. Symptoms are very obvious and easy to see but causes are usually not as easy to identify.
  2. Talk to ALL the people involved in the situation. Create a team comprised of a cross-section of the organization to ensure that you capture all of the critical information and perspectives needed to identify the true cause of the problem. This team approach will be important when developing the solution.
  3. Gather data. Make sure that you have all of the data necessary to complete the investigation of the problem. Most serious business problems don’t happen overnight. You need “data history” to identify when, where, how, and why.
  4. Test the problem/solution. Make sure you have the true cause-and-effect identified before implementing a solution across the organization. Test it on a small scale before rolling it out. If you’re “fixing” the wrong cause, you may make things worse.

Bottom line: Do it right the first time or you will be doing it again and again and again…

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Are Your Employees Disengaged?

Friday, Jul. 12th 2013

Guest blog by Terry Stockham, Human Capital Advisor at OnForce

Are your employees productive, content, and motivated? How can you tell? Typically, employee engagement can be measured with surveys, assessment tests, and by simply observing your employees as they work. Do you see strong contributors, poor performers, or a bit of both? If you’re a manager and see less than par players on your team, beware, they are sabotaging your success and your bottom line. All it takes is just one vocal, influential, and disengaged employee to spread his/her discontent to other team members for your group’s productivity to plummet.

According to recent research (the Gallup 2013 State of the American Workplace report and the AON Hewitt Global Engagement Survey), the current global employee engagement level is at 60%, an increase from 58% in 2012. This level of engagement equates to $550 billion a year in lost productivity within American companies. Yet these same companies spend billions of dollars a year in an effort to improve employee engagement and performance, only to get very little improvement in either!

To further illustrate the negative impact that employee disengagement can have on productivity and the bottom line let’s take, for example, a service employee who completes warranty work for a large technology company. This employee’s weekly salary is $1,000 (based on a 40 hour work week, $25/hour) and receives health benefits, insurance, training, etc., all totaling $1,400 ($1,000 + $400) paid by the company.

During the 40-hour work week, the service employee performs approximately 10 hours of non-service work such as traveling to customer sites, completing paperwork, waiting between job assignments, attending meetings, taking training classes, and so forth. This means that the company is paying for 40 hours but actually getting only 30 hours of service performance, translating to about $750 ($1,000 – $250) of “lost” productivity time. But, wait, there’s more.

If we take the 30 hours of actual service work performed and factor in the global engagement level cited at the beginning of this blog, we get only 18 hours ($450) of targeted service performance (i.e., 30 hours x 60%, or $750 – $300 = $450). If we look at the bigger picture, the company is paying $1,400 for $450 of performance! This is equal to $49,500 of lost productivity per year for this employee alone. If this company has 25 service employees, it amounts to $1,235,000 in overpayment for performance!

The past two decades have shown time and again that traditional incentive programs are not working. It is time to look at innovative and flexible labor models (e.g., flex-staffing or an on demand workforce) that offer workers autonomy, while driving positive business results for you and your company. Which jobs within your organization would benefit most from these new labor models? Given the cost implications of traditional labor models, can you afford the status quo?

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