work-life balance - Joel Patterson

How to Enhance Your Employees’ Work-Life Balance

In today’s non-stop work environment and as we continue to work from home, it’s easy for work-life balance to favor the work side of things. With our devices giving employers and co-workers the ability to contact us any time, it can be hard to turn off work when we’re away from the office.

Be Flexible

The traditional 9 to 5 workday just doesn’t work for everyone anymore, and with today’s technology, it doesn’t have to. There are lots of options that can give employees more freedom in their schedules.

  • Telecommuting can be just as effective as a day at the office as long as you have the tools to get things done. Having employees work from home saves them commuting time and has been shown to boost productivity and morale. A lot of companies found that employees are more productive while working from home during CoVid19.
  • Even if you’d prefer your employees to be in the office, allow them to have flexible work hours. For example, an employee could work 10 hours on Tuesday but 6 hours on Thursday. A flexible schedule allows employees to take care of life’s necessities that aren’t directly work-related by creating a work-life balance that works best for them.
  • Be understanding when family commitments are involved. If your employee needs to leave to pick up their child or asks off to attend to a family member, work with them to make it happen. Happy home lives make for more joyful, more productive employees.

Encourage Employees to Use Their Vacation Days

Often employees don’t take all of their annual paid leave for fear of work piling up. Self-restricting time off from work may be well-intentioned, but this is not healthy or sustainable. If you notice this is a trend at your company or with specific employees, talk to your employees and encourage them to take some time off. Explore their feelings about being away from the office and work with them to delegate responsibilities to others while taking some much-needed time away.

Promote a Healthy Balance

Make your employees’ health a priority. You can show your staff the importance of taking time for themselves by incorporating health-focused seminars, fitness challenges, and active online team-building exercises, such as a company yoga class. If your company stocks the break room with snacks and beverages, be sure to offer a variety of fresh, nutritious options like fruits, veggies, juices, and protein bars.

Leave Room

Some of the most successful companies in the world understand the importance of prioritizing creativity and innovation in the workplace. At Google, employees are offered a 20% program, allowing developers to spend 20% of their time on creative side projects. Leaving room in your team’s workload for creative thinking will ultimately lead to higher employee happiness levels and give them the space to discover ideas that might’ve been overlooked if every second of their time is already scheduled.

Remember Your Role

As a leader, you must make sure that your employees are satisfied with their work-life balance.

  • Have an open-door policy. Let your employees know that you are always there to help if they are unhappy or need advice. Listen intently and try to be as open and understanding as possible to build trust with your team.
  • Check-in with your employees. Keep an eye out for people who show signs of burnout, and talk to those who seem to be working too hard. Let them know that you care about their overall wellbeing and that it’s okay to take breaks sometimes.
  • Keep yourself in check. As is the case with many aspects of leadership, you must lead by example. Set communication boundaries. Focus on your health. Take time away from the office to recharge and rejuvenate. Make sure you’re as balanced as you want your employees to be.
Cloud Computing Best Practices to Avoid Pitfalls - Joel Patterson

Cloud Computing Best Practices to Avoid Pitfalls

The future is now, and businesses everywhere are switching to the cloud. I’ve built my career on developing cloud-based solutions that allow businesses to operate seamlessly at any scale, without having to focus as heavily on IT and infrastructure.

While I believe cloud-based computing has far more pros than it does cons, there are still pitfalls to watch out for.

A Smooth Transition

The process of migrating to a new cloud-based computing system brings with it many changes and risk factors. During the transition to a cloud-based system, you are moving sensitive data, and security measures must be put in place to ensure confidentiality.

Your employees also play a big role in achieving a smooth transition. Switching to the cloud will inevitably change the day-to-day processes of your business. These changes ripple out into every department, and if employees aren’t kept informed and sufficiently trained to use the system efficiently, hiccups could ensue.

The best way to avoid the cloud transition blues is to have a thorough plan and work with an expert that can guide you through each step of the process. At The Vested Group, we work with our clients to plan and implement Oracle + NetSuite solutions in a way that keeps their business running smoothly.

Security

While cloud service providers like Oracle + NetSuite have thorough security measures in place to protect their users’ data, there are still potential security risks involved in using the cloud. Security must be at the core of your company’s approach to using cloud-based software. It’s estimated that 95% or more of all cloud security failures are the consumer’s fault, not the cloud service provider (CSP).

Creating a thorough security strategy for your business is essential to protecting sensitive information. These are just a few factors that should be included in your cloud security strategy:

  • Periodic training for all teams on best practices for system security.
  • Limiting access to information based on individual employee needs.
  • Implementing multi-factor authentication for accounts that have access to sensitive data.
  • Regularly updating security policies and procedures to ensure they are still effective.
  • Performing regular system audits to detect any potentially threatening activity.
  • Having a thorough data recovery plan in place in case of a catastrophe.

Get Your Money’s Worth

You might design and implement a system that fits your company’s needs to a tee. It is equipped to streamline processes and make everyone’s life easier. But, after implementation you find that it doesn’t seem to be making life easier, in fact, it seems to be making things harder.

This can happen when your staff doesn’t know what to do with the new technology they’ve been given. It’s important to provide training for your employees so that your company can reap all the benefits of your new system. At The Vested Group, we provide support and education for team members, allowing for a smoother, more efficient transition for everyone.

My team and I are dedicated to finding cloud-based solutions that fit our clients’ needs while actively avoiding these common pitfalls. Don’t try to transition to cloud computing alone. Reach out today to see what we can do for your business.

Company Culture - The Vested Group

Company Culture: It’s More than Just Employee Perks and Office Décor

When I set out to start my own company, I knew that our culture was going to set us apart. The company culture at The Vested Group has been a defining factor in our overall success, and I know my staff would agree.

 “Corporate culture” is a buzz phrase that’s been going around for over a decade now, though the actual meaning behind this hot topic is often lost. A company’s culture goes far beyond celebrations, perks, and the office layout. In fact, it reaches the very core of a business.

Let’s look at some of the many factors that comprise a company’s culture.

Heritage and Vision

Every business has an origin story, and this narrative has the potential to be a driving force for success. It’s important to incorporate your organization’s heritage into your culture. Sharing your business’s unique history connects your employees to the “why” behind your organization’s conception. By celebrating your business’s roots, you connect your staff to the company’s original purpose and encourage them to embody it in their work.

Values and Practices

Companies often define their core values for their employees, but those mean very little if accepted corporate practices don’t align. It’s important to ensure that communication standards, leadership structure, workplace environment, etc. all promote your company values.

Contribution and Recognition

Sometimes it’s hard for employees to see how the work they do affects the big picture. You never want a member of your staff to feel small or insignificant. Celebrate individuals’ accomplishments, hard work, or great ideas. Make a habit of telling your employees how much you appreciate them and how important their contribution is to the overall success of the company.

Promote Growth

No one wants to stick around at a job they feel is stagnant. It’s important to encourage professional growth so employees feel they are improving themselves and their lives while working for you. This can be through continuing education courses, seminars, a book club, or even just built-in flexibility to explore new topics.

Positive Work Environment

This may seem like a no-brainer, but in order to keep employees happy, they have to want to come to work. Take steps to create a positive workplace that’s fun to come to every day.

Stay Consistent

After you’ve decided on the elements that make up your company’s culture, enstate them across the board. Consistency helps build employee trust. If your staff sees inconsistency in your culture, they’ll know it isn’t genuine.

Remember, each company’s culture is unique, and the perfect culture doesn’t always come right away. Don’t be afraid to reflect and revise as you go.

Navigating Business Growth with Joel Patterson

10 Tips for Navigating Business Growth

When running a business, you are constantly striving to promote growth. Once things start to take off, there’s often a whole new set of challenges that must be addressed. Here are a few tips I’ve found useful when navigating a period of business growth and expansion. 

  1. Don’t Lose Sight of Your “Why.” Seeing your business grow and thrive is exciting, but it’s important to stay focused on your mission. A rapidly growing business can sometimes take off in a direction that doesn’t align with your core mission. Periods of growth are an opportune time to reflect and realign with your “why.”
  1. Learn to Delegate. As an entrepreneur, you often begin by handling almost every aspect of your business. As your business expands, you must delegate to manage your workload. If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed by your organization’s growth recently, look over your responsibilities. Are there aspects of your workload that could be handled efficiently by someone else?
  1. Hire with Culture in Mind. Retention of quality talent is essential to the long-term success of a business. When searching for new hires, consider how candidates will do in your company’s unique culture. Of course, credentials are important, but the candidate that looks the best on paper is not always the best fit.
  1. Listen to Your Customers. Your customers are the life force of your company. Never lose touch with what your customers want out of your brand. Especially in periods of rapid growth, be sure to focus on customer experience. You can show customers you care through meaningful communications and requests for feedback.
  1. Encourage Employee Feedback. Speaking of feedback, it’s vital to listen to your employees as well. During periods of growth, lots of things shift and employees are invaluable sources of information. Their insight into what needs revision or improvement can help your business grow with grace and agility.
  1. Analyze Your Inefficiencies. In addition to listening to employee feedback regarding ways to improve your business, seek out inefficiencies in the processes you currently have in place. Is there a manual task that could be automated? Are employees spending too much time on tasks that don’t benefit overall productivity?
  1. Reduce Regulation Risk. A growing business has to be on the lookout for new government and industry regulations! Growth can take many different forms expanding your markets, utilizing new sales channels, teaming up with a distributor, rolling out new products, etc. Big changes like these might mean dealing with new or different regulations. Be sure to do your homework to ensure that you’re in compliance.
  1. Integrate Your Processes. When a business is just starting out, the decision is often made to go with the most economical software solutions. This can mean patching many different systems together, which can be especially problematic during high-growth periods. Disparate systems will struggle to keep up with the demand, causing internal issues as well as a diminished customer experience. Switching to a comprehensive business management system allows all departments to communicate effectively and efficiently. It also allows you to access all the data you need at any time, rather than having to gather it from multiple programs.
  1. Make Scalability a Priority. When thinking about how to navigate growth in your business, always consider the scalability of your decisions. Demand fluctuates over time, and (if things keep going this way) you will need to account for more growth in the future. Make sure the solutions you implement now can support growth in the future as well.
  1. Bring in an Expert. All of this may sound daunting to tackle on your own, but the good news is you don’t have to! At The Vested Group, we help growing businesses find software solutions that make business processes more fluent and efficient. Our NetSuite systems can be tailored to businesses’ needs both today and in the future.

Let’s talk about how we can work together to improve your business!

How Your Leadership Style Affects Company Culture - Joel Patterson

How Your Leadership Style Affects Company Culture

When you think of company culture, many things may come to mind. Of course, there are the flashier aspects of company culture (think in-office happy hours or team bowling outings). There are also more subtle elements, such as how workspaces are arranged. While these are undoubtedly parts of a company’s culture, they are not what is at the core. 

The culture of a business starts at the very top. The leadership styles of executives set the tone for a company’s internal culture. Leadership affects all aspects of business, including perceived values and goals, communication norms, and employee engagement. Let’s look at how your leadership can connect your company’s culture with the big picture.

Begin by being aligned and intentional. If you try to sell your employees on a set of standards and ideals that are not reflected in the way you lead, your company culture will be inconsistent and ineffective. Aligning your leadership style with your company’s core values is paramount.

For example, if you want your staff to sacrifice for the good of the team, you have to be out there in the trenches with them. If you want to foster open communication, you have to create an environment where employees feel that they can honestly share their thoughts. If you want a company that strives for innovation, you have to give your team the space to explore. 

Think about your company’s stated beliefs, values, and intentions. Then, consider whether the way you lead encourages behavior that aligns with those. During this exercise, don’t think about the way you want to lead think about the way you do lead on a daily basis. Consistency is vital to the success of each of your team members and your company as a whole. In short, you must practice what you preach.

After some reflection, you may realize that your company’s culture does not align with your core values. Unfortunately, creating or correcting aspects of corporate culture takes time. When making big changes, you have to take steps to make the change and give your team the reasons behind the shift.

For example, if you tell your employees that you are going to focus more on collaboration, but keep the work environment and team structures the same, you’re not going to see the results you desire. On the other hand, if you change the work environment and team structures without giving employees the reason behind the need for more collaboration, you still might not see the results you want.

Aspects of company culture are most effective when they solve a problem that employees care about. When improving your company’s culture, think about the issues that affect your staff and the solutions that could be implemented to resolve them. Then, sell this idea to your team. If they truly believe in the “why” that backs up an idea, they are more likely to get behind it.

All leaders are unique; and therefore, all companies will have different internal cultures. It’s important to create yours with your vision of the company in mind. Remember, a quality corporate culture is vital to a company’s long-term success.

Risks in Business - Joel Patterson

Risk in Business: How to Understand, Evaluate, and Utilize It

Risk is inherent in running a business. Without it, there would be no forward motion, but the results could be devastating if you take on too much. While many large corporations have extensive risk management departments, smaller companies usually don’t have the resources to allocate solely to analyzing potential risks. Even without a dedicated risk management department, small and medium-sized businesses can still take steps to understand, evaluate, and utilize risk.

There are two broad categories that almost all risks fall into external or internal. External risks are things like natural disasters, emerging market competitors, economic fluctuations, etc. In many cases, these are risks that you can’t control but can react to strategically and produce a more favorable outcome. 

On the other hand, internal risks are present within the business’s operations, so they are easier to identify and therefore prevent. Compliance risk, operational risk, financial risk, and reputational risk are all examples of internal risks. In this article, I’m going to focus on identifying and analyzing these internal risks, as well as steps that can be taken to prevent their effects.

Compliance risk refers to anything that could be affected by industry and government regulations. One common compliance risk in the U.S. is tax audits. It’s important to keep thorough documentation in case your company is audited. A cloud-based software system like NetSuite can help you keep track of all the data necessary to support an audit in one place.

Operational risk has to do with the way you run your business from day-to-day. Technological shortcomings make up a large portion of operational risks. For example, if your software systems fail to communicate with one another and cause a delay, this costs you time, money, and possibly valued customers, too.

Financial risk has to do with any funds flowing in and out of your business. These risks include things like outstanding debts (company or customer), employee fraud, risky investments, etc. Having a thorough, automated system for keeping track of your financial standing is crucial to keeping your financial risk in check.

Reputational risk has to do with anything that relates to you, your employees, and your company’s overall reputation. Poor customer service, low-quality products, or a marketing misstep can all eventually lead to reputational risk. By having data to monitor all of these areas of potential risk, you can decide which parts of your company require improvement before any bad press comes flowing in.

With all these potential risks lurking, it’s essential to have the best possible defense tools on your side. By having a comprehensive business management software system, such as NetSuite, you can gather the data necessary to identify your business risks. You can then use this to create a prevention plan and utilize safeguards that can prevent many risks from occurring as frequently.

Why You Should Consider a Digital Transformation for Your Company in 2021 - Joel Patterson

Why You Should Consider a Digital Transformation for Your Company in 2021

As with every new year, it’s important to formulate, plan, and set your business goals. Have you considered how revamping your software solutions could help you achieve those goals? Here are just a few of the reasons to consider a digital transformation for your business in 2021.

  1. Keeping Up with Yourself. Your goals most likely include some form of growth—more customers, more accounts, more revenue, new service lines or products. The systems you currently have in place might be able to handle the business you’re doing right now, but what about when you achieve your desired growth? As your company grows, your internal processes can have a hard time keeping up. Outdated processes and systems will eventually cause issues and stall the growth you’ve worked so hard to achieve.
  1. Smash Inefficiencies. It’s common for companies to use many different applications to meet all their needs. While this may seem like the fastest or most economical way at first, it can end up being unnecessarily convoluted and inefficient. A comprehensive software system can handle all of your business needs. A cloud-based system, such as NetSuite, eliminates the operational inefficiencies you’re bound to run into when working with multiple applications.
  1. Smarter Data. With NetSuite, all of your data is housed in one place and can be easily accessed. A comprehensive business management system makes it easy to get a big-picture view of every aspect of your business and how each facet is working together. Accurate, real-time insights allow you to see precisely what is working and what needs attention.
  1. Eliminate Overhead Costs. No more in-house servers or bulky equipment that needs to be replaced or repaired. Since NetSuite is a cloud-based system, it is housed off-site on high-performance, scalable servers. This off-premise infrastructure means no setup or installation on your business’s computing devices. NetSuite’s infrastructure provides a secure platform for all your business applications and substantially reduces your IT costs.
  1. Only Keep What You Need. When working with standard software systems, you might get the functionality you need, along with lots of other bells and whistles that aren’t relevant to your business. Or your current systems might do the job, but not as well as they could. NetSuite is a comprehensive, yet versatile enterprise software package. You can tailor it to fit your exact needs, keeping what helps you succeed, and leaving anything else out.

These are a few of the countless reasons why a new and improved software system could transform your company. When you have the best possible tools to work with, you will always get better results.

Start 2021 off right. Contact us to talk about how Oracle+NetSuite could benefit your business!

The Value of Continual Learning: Setting Your Employees Up for Success in the Long-Run - Joel Patterson

The Value of Continual Learning: Setting Your Employees Up for Success in the Long-Run

As a leader, you are always on the lookout for ways to improve your business. Providing and encouraging continual learning opportunities, such as classes, conferences, and seminars is a great way to invest in your company’s long-term success while benefiting your staff members. 

Here are just a few of the positive effects that professional learning can have on your employees and your business. 

Stay Relevant

In today’s fast-paced environment, best practices and industry trends are constantly shifting and changing. Continual learning keeps employees up-to-date on the latest information to keep them ahead of the industry curve. Without a continuous flow of new information, your company can get bogged down with outdated ideas and antiquated processes. To stay relevant, all employees must remain educated and informed.  

Retain Talent

The importance of retaining first-rate talent cannot be overstated, and continual learning is a great way to ensure that employees want to stay with your company. By providing employees with relevant training, conferences, and seminars, you encourage them to try out new ideas, methods, and opportunities. Supporting a learning mindset helps to keep employees interested in their work and happier in the long run. 

Engaged Employees

A 2018 study found that 85 percent of employees function below their potential and don’t feel engaged at work. If the majority of your employees are on autopilot, your business will inevitably suffer. By providing learning opportunities, you give employees the chance to explore new ideas and ways of doing things. This brings more curiosity and enthusiasm into the workplace and helps raise employee fulfillment rates and avoid widespread burnout.  

Show Your Dedication

Employees who feel undervalued or underappreciated are not likely to give 100% effort. It’s essential to show your staff that you are dedicated to their development by regularly providing self-improvement opportunities. 

Industry conferences are great for building community and helping employees explore new ideas. While in-person conferences have gone virtual, also consider online training courses or seminars that employees can participate in from their desks and home offices. Whatever opportunities you can provide is a testament to your investment in your employees.

Continuous Improvement

Just remember: whenever your employees are improving, your business is also improving. Employee education promotes success from the ground up. Your employees are the face of your company. Would you rather present a workforce that is stagnant or continually improving? The answer is clear.

Company Culture Hiring Decisions - Joel Patterson

The Role Company Culture Should Play in Your Hiring Decisions

Hiring the right employees is one of the most challenging and involved tasks companies face. When filling a position, not only do you have to find the most qualified candidate with the right background, but you are often looking to find that perfect candidate quickly.

While a sparkling resume and a smooth-sailing interview are high on the priority list, I believe the most critical factor in choosing a new hire is their “culture fit,” or how they will fit into the culture and community at your company. An aligned team will work better together, be more productive individually, and feel more satisfied in their roles overall. Making “culture fit” a top priority will produce superior results and higher employee retention rates, both of which benefit your company as a whole.

Here are a few tips on how to hire for your company’s technical needs while maintaining a harmonious company culture.

Know Yourself

The Vested Group has a company culture that my employees and I are proud of (and excited to work in!). But that didn’t just happen by chance. Your company’s culture is based on corporate values, beliefs, and an overarching mission. Your employees are the face of the company, and it’s crucial for them to be in line with your company’s purpose when interacting with clients and other employees.

If you haven’t defined your company’s values, beliefs, and mission, how will you find candidates that fit with your company’s unique culture? Your company has a culture whether you document it or not. Defining and documenting the culture of your company will bring clarity to your identity and give employees and potential employees a valuable framework.

Review Your Hiring Process

Once you’ve established what defines your company’s culture, then it’s time to review your hiring process. The traditional hiring process includes gathering resumes, screening qualified candidates, and interviewing your favorites. This process usually focuses on candidates’ experience and expertise, but how do you measure culture fit?

I start by asking interview questions that revolve around their experience and expectations in the workplace. When interviewing candidates, I ask questions about what they value in a company’s culture, how they work with others as a team, and their past relationships and experiences with clients and co-workers.

You might also consider alternatives to the traditional conference room interview. By choosing a more informal setting, such as meeting over coffee or lunch, you can get a better idea of who your candidate is as a person. Just remember, if conducting an interview over lunch isn’t in line with your company’s culture, it might send the wrong signal.

Another great way to see if someone will mesh with the rest of the team is to arrange a meet and greet. By introducing potential candidates to your staff, you can see what day-to-day interactions might be like once they’re on board. Also, your current employees then have a chance to voice their thoughts (which I’ve learned are invaluable).

Communicate Your Culture

Remember, interviews are a two-way street – you have to tell your candidates what to expect when working at your company. Our company purpose is “…best job ever…” which is our commitment to make the time our employees spend working at The Vested Group the greatest experience of their career. 

I would recommend breaking down your company’s purpose and diving into what the culture is so that potential employees can understand what to expect and what’s expected of them once they’re hired.

Good luck and happy hiring!

The Key to Successful Software Implementation - Joel Patterson, The Vested Group

The Key to Successful Software Implementation

I’ve been involved with hundreds of software implementations throughout my career. Most of them have gone off without a major hitch, but there are always bumps in the road. One of our Core Values at The Vested Group is “Appreciate that Failure is Learning,” and the obstacles faced in these projects over the years have taught me many lessons along the way. Through experience, I’ve learned a few essential elements that help ensure a successful software implementation.

1. The Right Plan

When embarking on any sizable project, it helps to have a clear-cut plan with attainable and measurable goals. Implementing a new software system is a huge undertaking for a company, and the planning stage is essential to the health of the entire project.

At The Vested Group, we take planning seriously. We encourage our clients to begin new projects with something we call Phase Zero. Phase Zero takes an average of one to two weeks to complete but can also take over a month, depending on the situation.  Each Phase Zero is conducted according to the client’s specific needs, and no two Phase Zeros are exactly the same. During this time, our consultants work with clients, giving them their undivided attention and brainpower. We begin with a project kickoff, which includes introductions, establishing goals, and determining the “why” of your project.  We identify your 3-4 signature processes, and these become the main focus where we define, prioritize, create, and review solutions custom-tailored to your business needs.  

I emphasize this stage so much because it’s crucial to the project’s success as a whole. A thorough plan helps everyone involved tackle obstacles that might come up later.

2. The Emotional Side of Software

My employees and I are “Agents of Change,” and every significant change comes with its own set of unique challenges. Unlike many other software consulting firms, The Vested Group works closely with clients to address each implementation’s emotional side.

There are unexpected twists and turns to any project, and software implementation is no different. In addition to designing and transitioning a company’s systems, we are there to support the client if they ever feel uneasy about how their project is progressing. A thorough and realistic plan of attack helps clients by giving them a blueprint to refer to in tense moments.

A client’s employees also have to adjust to new processes, sometimes after doing things the same way for many years. This learning curve can (understandably) cause a bit of panic. Because they’re not well-acquainted with the new system, employees can be resistant to learning how to make it work to their advantage. We approach this element of the client journey with empathy and understanding, and we will work with clients and their employees to show them how new systems can work in their favor, not against them.

3. What Comes After Go-Live

Imagine that your software implementation is complete. Your staff is thoroughly trained and seems to be transitioning well. You say goodbye to your implementation team, and now, you’re on your own. Maybe you still have questions on some of those lower priority punch list items.  Or now that you’ve been using your new system for a while, new questions have come up.  Perhaps there are some enhancements you’d like to make now that you are comfortable with the way everything is working.  Who can you turn to?

Nothing is more frustrating than being left to your own devices when using new, complex technology. The Vested Group offers clients a full range of post-implementation support, from troubleshooting any roadblock that pops up to executing those next-phase enhancements. When putting together your project team, make sure you choose partners who aim to form lasting relationships beyond your project end date. Cultivate a team of trusted advisors – this will help your business run smoothly and give you peace of mind.