Monthly Archives: August 2014

Key Ways to Keep Your Workforce Productive

Countless studies have been undertaken to find out what makes a workforce productive.  Overwhelmingly, the conclusions have been that a happy workforce is a productive workforce.  So in order to make sure your workforce is productive, you should take steps first and foremost to ensure your staff are happy.

But now does a company achieve this goal in continuing difficult economic times, when the obvious incentives of pay rises and bonuses are not always possible?  There are lots of different ways to encourage a happy workforce, but all contain the key element of communication.

As managers you need to know your staff and understand the jobs they do.  Whether you are in charge of an entire workforce in a smaller company or act as a line manager in a larger firm, your positive interaction with the staff you are responsible for is vital.  The importance of good communication between management cannot be over-stressed.  It is a very telling fact that seven out of ten people voluntarily leaving a job do so because of an unsatisfactory relationship with their line manager.

Let’s start at the beginning.  Provide an effective orientation programme for new employees, including introduction and training, so that they quickly begin to feel part of the team.  But don’t stop there.  Ongoing training and development is a key factor in motivating your staff.  You may provide training sessions or perhaps can offer financial assistance for those who wish to undertake formal education to increase or expand their skills or gain further qualifications.  Even offering employees a few hours weekly in which they can further their studies encourages ambition and helps employees to know they are valued and that their goals matter to you.

Still in the area of training and development, offer mentoring to staff who are hoping to progress within the company.  Avoid letting employees feel ‘stuck’ in a dead-end job by offering opportunities to progress and even cross-train.

Another essential tool is validation.  When an employee goes above and beyond; offers superlative customer service; helps increase profitability; or is otherwise seen as a special asset to the team, make a song and dance about it.  Make sure your employees know you appreciate their efforts, Cash bonuses where possible; employee of the month awards; thank you tokens or even a free Friday afternoon are just some of the ways of offering tangible validation for a job especially well done.

Good lines of communication are vital to maintain productivity.  If your employees are not happy – don’t learn about it from a downturn in your production statistics.  Ensure that employees feel that they have an open line to talk to management about any areas that are troubling them.  Equally, make staff aware that their contribution is valued by providing opportunities to discuss ideas and innovations.  An old-fashioned but effective tool is the suggestion box, or perhaps monthly brain-storming meetings where staff are encouraged to voice their thoughts and ideas.  And don’t forget to act on those ideas when they are viable!  You can use these regular meetings to update staff on company progress and plans, making them feel part of the team that engenders progress.

Don’t forget work/life balance.  It’s a cliché for a good reason.  Employees need to feel that their lives are in balance and that, whilst devoting a good amount of time to productive work, they are able to enjoy their lives, families and interests outside work as well.  You need to be aware of this and appreciate that overly long hours regularly spent at work does not increase productivity.  Quite the opposite as, if a staff member’s life outside work suffers, they will be unhappy at work, with a proven decrease in productivity as a result.

Incentivising your staff, listening and responding to their needs, offering opportunities for development and advancement and giving genuine validation for work well done, will produce a happy workforce, which has been proven to be the best way to increase and maintain productivity.  And that’s not the only benefit.  People who are happy at work are more creative and innovative, motivated and dedicated, positive and optimistic.  Not only that, but they give your customers better service, sell more, communicate better and work better as a team.  Happy employees are less stressed and take fewer sick days, which is yet another tangible benefit and will help to maintain your productivity.

So – bottom line – to keep your workforce productive, keep your employees happy.  The above are just some of the ways this can be achieved, but you will not go wrong if you remember that the key is ongoing, effective communication.  Know your staff and help them to achieve their goals and to feel valued.  It’s a simple equation really – and one that will have a very positive effect on your productivity statistics.

The Future of Online Video Content

Recently I stumbled across a startling figure in a report by network solutions giant CISCO, which suggests that by 2018 video content will account for a massive 79% of global consumer internet traffic.  That’s a 13% increase from 2013 and equates to nearly one million minutes of video content crossing global networks every single second.  Naturally, with more people being exposed to video content on such an immense scale, there will be a change in people’s preference as to how they wish to consume information.  In fact already there are statistics that support these beliefs with DigitalSherpa reporting that only 20% of visitors to your website will read content in its entirety whilst 80% will view a video.

And it’s not just B2C businesses that need to take note; further statistics released by DigitalSherpa state that 50% of users are weekly viewers of business-related videos on YouTube. The message out there is that businesses who do not integrated video into their online strategy will lose business to those that do.

Life's a Stage

Fortunately producing a video no longer requires hiring a highly skilled, and very expensive, production team. Readily available, reasonably priced video equipment and user-friendly editing software allows those with a little technical knowledge to produce effective videos for online use.  You’re not looking to win any Oscars, just ensure the content is engaging from the outset, appealing to your target market and is ideally no longer than one minute (two minutes as an absolute maximum).  You’ll also need to consider where your videos will sit and what their aim is.  Here are some ideas of where video content works well:

Your Website

Video can play a highly important part in the purchasing decision making process for online consumers.  Online purchases are by nature fairly risky as the purchaser is unable to use their senses to ascertain the products suitability as they would in a high street shop.  Product videos convey far more information to the viewer than a static picture and assist greatly in the purchase decision making process.  According to Internet Retailer, those viewing product videos are 85% more likely to make an online purchase.  Carefully optimised videos can also have an extremely positive impact on your ranking with search engines and, if statistics are correct, you could be 50% more likely to make it on to the first page.


Simply including video in your email campaigns can have a significant impact on conversions with Video Brewery reporting one retailer seeing a 51% increase in subscriber-to-lead conversion rates when video was included.  A study by GetResponse on a sample of 800,000 emails found click through rates were 96.38% higher when video was featured.

Social Media

If you’re already using social media as part of your marketing strategy then you should seriously think about the power of Social Video Marketing (SVM).  Statistics published by Alius Media suggest that people share video links more than any other link or text post, and not just by a little, by a whopping 1,200%.  You’re probably aware of the term viral marketing, but SVM takes this a step further and utilises content to obtain a ‘deeper engagement’.  The connection with the message is what spurs the audience to not just share it but also to interact through leaving a comment or joining an ongoing discussion, which in turn drives further engagement from other like-minded individuals.

Online Advertising

Online advertising no longer means uninteresting, static banner adverts. Video, it seems, is the way to go and with statistics like these it’s surprising more companies haven’t already included this medium in their marketing strategies:

  • 75% of users visit the marketer’s website after viewing a video
  • 80% of users recalled seeing a video advert in the last 30 days
  • Of those 12% went on to purchase the featured product


Some pretty powerful statistics there, so go out, get creative, get filming and be a step ahead of your competition!

The Case for Internet Neutrality

To say that the internet has changed our world would be a massive understatement. Although it has only been around a relatively short amount of time, it has completely infiltrated every aspect of our lives. It is therefore completely understandable that many people are determined that the internet should continue in its current form. The problem is that there is a very real threat from some internet service providers who would prefer that the internet was more controlled, monetised and closed. Those who oppose this are in favour of internet or net neutrality which basically just means the open and egalitarian system we enjoy now. Earlier in the year, a DC Circuit Court ruling voted against the net neutrality rules put in place by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Although this was a case based in the US, the potential consequences are broad and far reaching. If unopposed, ISPs can create an online environment which is not only more expensive but also inherently unfair.


The cost of using the internet affects everyone, from the end user all the way to large, service providing organisations. One of the more worrying threats to net neutrality is that ISPs will begin charging online companies in exchange for preferential treatment. For example they could speed up traffic to websites which have paid a much higher fee. This also means that websites that can’t afford to pay these fees will have their traffic slowed down or even stopped. The effect this will have on the consumer is just as dramatic. ISPS could force customers to choose a higher priced package in order to enjoy the more popular website. So for example, free sites such as YouTube or Wikipedia may be included in a premium package which can only be accessed by customers who pay the higher price. This is a hypothetical scenario but it is definitely within the realms of possibility and therefore incredibly worrying for many people.


Another consequence of companies being allowed to pay for preferential traffic is that their content will become preferential. When a small group of content providers are given the opportunity to buy popularity, they are placed in an extremely powerful position. This type of system does not breed creativity like the type we often find within small websites or breakout internet stars. Without this type of healthy competition, we are unlikely to get a steady flow of new talent coming through and therefore we are likely to see a decrease in the quality of internet content. Furthermore, it’s unsettling to think of a system where only a few companies have so much influence over the internet and therefore internet users. We don’t need to look far from home to see what that type of system can turn in to.

What’s Next?

The ruling against the FCC may have been an American issue but the overall challenge against net neutrality is most definitely a world issue. Although many of us enjoy an open internet, not many users are aware of the threat against neutrality and how it could affect us in the future. It is worth pointing out as the fight is definitely not over as we have seen recently with many of the larger internet companies opposing the overruling of the FCC. This is especially promising as this coalition included companies such as Google, Microsoft, eBay, Facebook, Twitter and Netflix, all of whom could potentially benefit from a world without net neutrality. Fortunately, the overall consensus within this coalition is that they became successful from the ground up thanks to the level playing field of an equal and open online environment and they don’t want to deny this right to future companies.


Further Reading:

Home Sweet Home

Having recently moved offices we’ve had a fair few customers ask what the new offices are like so I thought I’d share a few photo’s.

In terms of location we’ve only moved 10 minutes down the road from a fairly drab 80’s office building in the centre of Milton Keynes to a much nicer (and older) 1830’s converted grain barn with pretty much identical square footage. However those 10 minutes make a huge difference, not only do we now get better quality internet (pretty critical in our line of business) but we also get a lake and plenty of walks to enjoy at lunch time through the glorious country side surrounding the office.

As you might guess from the tidy desks, these were taken just before all the staff moved across.