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NOTE: Remember to look at previous and more current postings for other topics.

Long term strategy
Many of you out there already know but many who should – do not know it.
We have to look down the road, five and 10 years in our businesses, not just in six months or one year. We need to do so in order to grow our businesses, not just the large multinationals but the neighborhood stores and franchises as well.
You have to look at the short term risk and losses and failures and know that they are necessary for the long term rewards.

We need to look at “how do we grow our business?” but in order to grow our businesses; we absolutely must look at growing the people who work in these places of work. Businesses must also be looking at how they invest in the people that work for them. These employees are young and old, smart or not as smart, men and women, teenagers, ambitious or not too ambitious – they all have various roles to play in the daily and annual success of the business. If you do not work on growing your team(s), you may not grow your business. Your employees just want the opportunity to do better.
These employees are the face of your business to the public. It is how they interact with customers; your employees will non-intentionally (or intentionally) either grow or sink your business.

If you do not invest in your business and your employees, to give them better, if not, the best working environment possible, you’ll likely lose them to other businesses that will. Or if they remain, they will not produce to the level they could produce.
Faster computers, a better work environment (nicer chairs) are good starts.
Having a coherent, solid clear vision, goals and strategy for the business is even better. But you have to ensure those visions, goals and strategies are clearly articulated to the employees and more importantly, ensure the employees understand what you have articulated.
Even if you have your own vision, goal(s) and strategy for your business, asking employees for their input goes a long way to making them more loyal and more productive as they will feel part of the business. But you truly have to listen to these folks, not just give them lip service. You have to show that you are listening to them…

People continually talk about hiring foreign born highly educated individuals who obtain their degrees here in the U.S. on H-1B visas. But – what about you and your business investing in your own employees? Those employees who are capable, willing and ready to gain additional training/education? This kind of investment will show your employees you do care about them and they will in turn return that investment by staying with your firm longer. Even if they do leave down the road, they will have given your firm/business at least two – three good years of productivity.

Cognitive Diversity
Businesses need more cognitive diversity; it is not just about hiring the smartest folks around. The smartest folks out there do not know everything – we need to hire individuals who have or come from a broad, diverse background. Or hire those who have different ways of thinking or solving problems, we need people who can help improve and/or streamline businesses or work processes.
Hiring more people with different aspects of cognitive diversity means you will see work being done that uses different ways of solving problems. It will mean having a better return in your bottom line because of using more cognitive diversity in the work place.
You already have great employees in your midst, why not use them? They may not, at this time, be able to afford additional training on their own. But if you provided them that training, training for which many companies seemed to have cut over the past several years, the majority of them will become happier and better educated employees. And I am explicitly talking about real training beyond training like “Ethics in the workplace,” “How to be better employees,” “Relationship exercises” (don’t get me wrong, these are good as well) – your employees need better, more engaging, valuable training to become more productive employees.
Bottom line, it takes synergy (yes, I used a buzz word but it is valid) and collaboration to make improvements. Maybe the improvements that emanate from cognitive diversity are incremental and not revolutionary – they are still steps of progress.

Then look at something as simple as full spectrum lighting. Yes, it is more expensive to install initially – but the long term pay is better and gives you a great ROI. Full spectrum light produces a much better work environment for the people working there; the team(s) gives a greater daily effort whereas fluorescent and incandescent lighting makes a workplace dull, uninviting and unproductive to be at for 8 – 10 hours a day.
Even if the work is boring for the staff, this type of lighting pays dividends down the road by improving the mood (emotional/mental) of your employees. This lighting elevates the atmosphere for everyone to something much more productive to be in.
There are many resources on the benefits of full spectrum lighting out there, here are only two of them:
It is definitely worth your business moving to this type of lighting as opposed to all the negative benefits of fluorescent lighting… Your business will thank you for it.

Be accommodating for your employees. Employers today can no longer be inflexible with employees. These workers are suffering as it is. If you show that you can be flexible with your employees, they will give it back in spades and no, I’m not talking about those who might abuse it. Those employees should be given a second chance and then released if they continue to abuse the flexibility.
Provide those workers with small children some time flex, as long as they make it up.
Give workers some kind of sick time so they do not come to work sick, making other employees sick, or worse still, make customers sick.
Somehow, find a way to be generous with employees who work the holidays (besides overtime pay).
If employees see that the employer is generous and flexible on various things, the employees will become more loyal and harder, more productive workers. Just treat employees fairly.

Overqualified employees
And on overqualified employees that apply for a job. Hire some of them. They went to college or had additional training that could prove invaluable to your firm. Yes, some of these folks may be overqualified and just want a filler job in the meantime. And yes, they may leave when they find something else.
But look at it as follows, these ‘overqualified employees’ could:
a) Impart some new valuable knowledge to your other employees, either by training or simply by emulation – role models are great
b) End up staying for a while out of loyalty for your hiring them.
We are at a time and place in this economy where we have a large number of college educated new hires through no fault of theirs.
We have a large number of people in jobs who are hungering for new ways of working, for new training and an outlet to release that newly obtained knowledge – if the employers provide that additional training.

Money is a commodity that many firms are not releasing quite yet, those that have it that is. Many firms are holding on to these cash reserves in order to see what happens with the economy, down the road.
Firms/stores/businesses need to start using some of their growing revenue and re-energize the work place. Starting to use these monies in a meaningful way could result in better:
1 – Wages for the employees
2 – Work environments: furniture, quiet rooms/zones so employees can regain their sanity for 10 – 15 minutes during the day
3 – Work equipment such as computers, work equipment – improving the tools workers use every day will improve and facilitate the work these workers do

For businesses that do not have a stockpile of cash to work with, you need to re-think how you do spend your money on investing in your businesses’ future. You should also think long and hard on what you do and do not spend on your current and future employees.
You must think long term benefits using immediate short term spending. It might even be painful but you should be thinking short term sacrifice for long term success.

Products, yes, good, solid, well made products, this is what people want from a business. These products do not have to be the most expensive but they also do not have to be the cheapest made products either. If you make a good to great product, customers will buy it, you know that.
But think about making products that are innovative as possible. Something that will catch a customer’s eye, something they will find useful for them, their loved ones, family or friends. Innovative does not mean expensive. It does not mean esoteric either. It means something created that is different but useful and meaningful – at least to me at any rate.
Oh yeah, I could go on and on about product innovation but I’ll stop on this topic at this point.

Long term strategy is tough but there are many variables. It ultimately comes down to the members of the teams who work at the business, what the business invests or re-invests in the business, in its employees.
Employers should be treating their employees like people, with respect, if there is going to be any hope of that business being successful.

ROI – Return on Investment