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Greeno: Changes businesses should watch out for in 2013

In September, federal officials upgraded the economic growth outlook for 2013, believing the economy will improve faster than first expected. Experts, though, still expect slow growth overall in the coming year.

In light of these projections, as businesses begin setting goals and planning for 2013, there are a few things every leader should watch for.

• Changes in federal and state regulations. Every year, new rules and regulations that impact businesses are instituted at federal and state levels. With changes in workers’ compensation, tax codes and rates, health care coverage and more, it’s important to be aware of what issues could affect your company. As you prepare for 2013, don’t forget to assess the changes coming to your state to plan accordingly.

• Changes in consumer demands. Every business naturally has seasonal ups and downs. It’s important to evaluate your company’s growth from past years to estimate and prepare for your upcoming business needs, like adequate staffing. Having a flexible workforce through the help of staffing agencies can help you get ready for peak seasons.

Another part of meeting demands is understanding and anticipating changes in consumer needs and wants. When planning for 2013, your ability to innovate could play a key role in your company’s success. Knowing what your company wants to achieve and continually moving forward will also help your company stay relevant in the marketplace. Failure to innovate is a symptom of an ill-prepared business, so focus on your target.

If your goal is to add two new branches, then find out what needs to happen in 2013 to make that a possibility. Get ahead of the curve by planning out, quarterly or monthly, where you need to be at each stage of the project. Reforming the way you plan out your business year will help revitalize the business plan that was developed and help you achieve your goals.

• Changes in employee engagement. A company’s most valued asset isn’t its capital or stock worth, but its employees. Just as businesses have had a rough time with the economy so have their employees, and it has affected everything from their productivity to their engagement, all of which can influence profitability. Businesses are still struggling to retain their most talented workers, and lack of engagement is the No. 1 reason.

To keep your employees from getting burned out, don’t forget to make improving employee retention a top priority. Communication plans, recognition programs and scheduling fun activities, including outings and team-building events, can go a long way to developing a strong environment conducive to engagement and increased productivity. This is also a good time to start a schedule of people’s planned vacations and employee recognition days.

Uncertainty is still a factor in the economy, and chances are, it’s weighing heavily on the minds of business leaders and their employees. Take a careful look at the economy in your local market and the changes you expect to see in the coming year, and then create a plan for progress. Begin setting company and individual goals that will move you forward.

By developing a comprehensive plan for the new year, you will be able to anticipate problems before they arise, exercise innovation by staying ahead of your competitors and maintain a strong, team-oriented office by retaining your top talent. Stay in control of your business, expect anything and be surprised by nothing – including success!

• Terri Greeno owns Express Employment Professionals in Crystal Lake.

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