Launching a new startup is always exciting. The upward potential in front of you is practically limitless. When you have the right idea at the right time, a startup that begins life as two people in a garage can eventually become a multi-billion-dollar enterprise.
But before you get to the beginning level — you’ll need to go through some difficult growing pains. Early in your startup’s development, you’ll likely be low on capital. Even if you have an angel investor or a venture capital (VC) firm backing you, you’ll have an abundance of expenses, limited income, and a finite amount of time before the money completely runs out.
Accordingly, you’ll need to be frugal. You’ll need to find creative ways to save money.
So what are the best ways to stay on the lean-side of things?
When to Save and When to Spend
First, you need to know that there are good ways and bad ways to save money. Saving money effectively isn’t just about reducing your expenses to the bare minimum; it’s about knowing what’s worth splurging on, what’s worth eliminating, and everything in between.
When to cut expenses is best understood with an example. Oftentimes, new startups are inclined to cut costs that seem superfluous or unnecessary for the core business model to function. For example, they may avoid digital marketing altogether, saving thousands of dollars in the process.
Cut or Keep?
But when you cut something that is essential in business — it is problematic; digital marketing is the best way for a startup to increase brand awareness and attract new paying customers.
In many cases, digital marketing offers a return on investment (ROI) of many times your initial capital, meaning $1,000 per month in spending could turn into $3,000 per month in revenue. Cutting this expense is often a terrible long-term move.
Knowing your costs and what that cost expendure will do for you — is the best ways to save money without compromising the integrity or long-term growth potential of your business.
One of your best options is to go fully remote. These days, remote work is not only possible, and in some cases practically necessary, it’s downright fashionable. Buying or leasing an office can be an enormous expense that impacts your bottom line, and it’s not something you truly need. If you go fully remote, you can instantly save thousands of dollars each month.
Saving money isn’t the only advantage of going fully remote, either.
Adopting a fully remote model means you’ll be able to hire people all over the world, greatly increasing your potential talent pool. It also means your employees will (in many cases) benefit form higher morale and higher productivity. Team management, collaboration, and communication can be more challenging, but these are becoming easier as our work norms shift.
Minimize the Team
Too many startup entrepreneurs get excited about the prospect of growing the business as quickly as possible, so they move to hire a full team of people immediately. They imagine the team they might need in a year or two and try to build it out immediately.
Employees are Your Largest Investment
Employees are going to be one of your biggest expenses, so this is a financially unsound move. Instead, it’s better to hire only the people who are absolutely necessary to get the job done. Only hire new people when you truly need them.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to hire people based on their talent and their passion, and not necessarily their experience. Someone with 20 years of experience in the industry may seem like a great fit for growing your organization, but they’re also going to demand a high salary.
By contrast, someone fresh out of college will be much less expensive — and they may still have the skills and energy necessary to bring life to your organization. I’ve found the best way to cut through what is best in a startup — is to ask your business friends some questions and talk this move through with someone. Sometimes your excitement can make you overcome good sense.
Keep Your Day Job (If You Can)
It’s an attractive idea to quit your day job and pivot to working full-time on your startup idea. And in many cases, this works out fine. But if you can manage to continue working your current job while moonlighting as a startup entrepreneur, try to do it.
You’ll have a reliable stream of income on which you can depend, helping you fund other aspects of your business.
Your employees probably don’t need the absolute latest models in computers, smartphones, and other technology. Buying used can immediately save you a significant sum of money on your equipment purchases — oftentimes with no significant drop in quality or performance.
Just be sure to review the condition of these products carefully to verify that you’re getting a good deal.
Barter With Other Entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurs tend to admire and support other entrepreneurs. Starting a business is hard work, and it takes a special type of person to go through this effort. Accordingly, if you ask another entrepreneur for help or a special deal, they may be willing to help you out.
For example, if you need to find a benefits provider for your employees, you may find a local entrepreneur who owns an employee benefits business. Rather than paying them directly for their services, you may help them out by giving them a beta version of your startup’s technology for free. It’s a win-win scenario that saves you money and helps you flesh out your professional network at the same time.
Additionally, don’t be afraid to negotiate. Sometimes, simply asking for a better deal is enough to help you get one.
Rely on Open Source Software
Enterprise software companies tend to charge a lot for their platforms – mostly because they can. But you don’t need to pay for a $5,000-per-month solution if you can find one for free that works just as well.
Open source software has a lot of advantages, the most notable being the fact that it’s typically free to use, even for commercial purposes. You’ll also get to tap into an extended community of supporters if you ever need help managing it or fixing a specific problem with the platform. Before committing to any software purchase, see if there’s an open source alternative that fits the bill.
Pay Attention to Discretionary Expenses
As a startup, you’ll have a lot of discretionary expenses — things that aren’t absolutely vital to the operation and growth of your company but are still worth considering purchasing. Review these expenses carefully. Do you really need this? Is there any viable alternative you could get for free, or for less money?
Outsourcing is one of your best options for long-term development. Rather than hiring someone new, you can pay for an agency or a freelancer to handle the work for you. This move is often less expensive than making a full-time hire, yet it still provides you with adequate support.
Outsourcing is also conducive to scaling; you can hire people for as much or as little as you need, which is perfect if your startup is in the midst of growth.
Tightly Manage Cash Flow
Cash flow is one of the most important financial considerations in a startup, dictating how much money you have coming in and how much money you have going out. Simple tactics, like delaying your outgoing payments as long as possible and following up on unpaid invoices, can help you ensure you have access to enough capital to keep your business growing.
Control Your Growth
Speaking of growth, keep a tight leash on your startup’s growth. Your long-term goal may be to scale enough to serve billions of people all around the world, but you’re not in a race to get there.
Many startups end up failing prematurely because they try to grow too quickly; they invest too much in new areas of the business that are underdeveloped or spend too much money on new hires and new equipment before they’re ready to manage them. It’s better to take your time and scale gradually, making confident and well-informed moves along the way.
These are some of the most effective and most important ways to save money as a young startup, but they aren’t the only ways. Think carefully about the cost-to-value ratio of every decision you make, and try to keep your expenses under control as you try to establish a firm foothold in your industry.
Image Credit: karolina grabowska; pexels
Strategic Brand Management: The Differentiator Between Good and Great Marketing Strategy – ReadWrite
Brand management has always been a complicated concept, even for those who have had the chance to work on it themselves. Some reasons are its ever-evolving nature and complex tasks like defining organizational values, brand vision, and influencing customers’ perceptions of your brand.
It might seem an overwhelming aspect of marketing, but really, which isn’t? With brands overseeing and managing their brand’s voice and reputation round the clock on social media platforms, marketing has become the most crucial and hardest function of running a business.
That being said, strategic brand management can turn into a competitive advantage that can help your brand reach its new height.
What is Strategic Brand Management?
Strategic brand management can be defined as a brand strategy that supports your company’s goals and processes, from brand recognition to boost revenue. While crafting the brand strategy, make sure that there’s room for your brand to grow and evolve alongside your business.
If you are wondering what brand strategy is, then here it is. A brand strategy combines a few methods to define the uniqueness and personality of your brand, using which you can improve the quality of all your customer touchpoints and communications for a better brand image and selling power. In other words, it means providing a value-driven and positive experience to your customers whenever and wherever they interact and engage with your brand.
The success of a brand strategy lies in its ability to maintain consistency in the customer experiences across various platforms, from web pages to social media accounts to customer support.
Remember: Your brand strategy should be agile, beneficial for your brand, and add value to your brand’s overall perception.
Why is Brand Management Important?
- Firstly, brand management strengthens your selling power and improves your brand’s perception in the minds of your target audience.
- Because brand management revolves around providing positive customer experiences, it increases customer retention, loyalty, and the overall value of your brand.
- With brand management, you can communicate the uniqueness of your brand to your customers.
- Through the practice of brand management, you can understand your target audience better, which means your brand’s communication strategies and methods become more impactful than ever.
- Lastly, it increases your employees’ internal and external engagement, which makes them feel closer to your company, thereby reducing the overall attrition rate of your company.
The Art of Brand Management
Now that we’ve established a proper understanding of brand management and its importance, let’s explore the art that is brand management. Here we are going to explore the important actions that combinedly make the art of brand management.
1. Positive brand perception
Many businesses operate under the wrong impression that brand management is limited to having a recognizable custom logo design, a catchy tagline, or a viral campaign. But it’s much more than that. It is the cumulation of every customer’s experience with your brand based on which they form a perception of your brand.
Now, it’s not quite possible to control your customers’ perception, but you can always influence them by means of creating positive experiences and associations with your brand.
To come across as a genuine and positive brand, you must:
- Always, always deliver on your promises
- Define, communicate, and behave with integrity
- Craft and deliver unique customer-centric experiences
- Invest in understanding your customers’ needs and deliver value accordingly
- Provide consistent multi-channel support
- Seek feedback from customers and work on them
2. Brand positioning and value
Your brand’s positioning in the market should always be aligned with your brand’s values. Brand positioning is one of the most important aspects of the art of brand management which includes identifying the positioning of your brand and what you want to achieve. This stage of brand management will take time, effort, a lot of brainpower, and coffee.
The first step in identifying your current brand positioning is to research and understand the brand positioning of your competitors and industry market leaders and look for the differentiators. This will help you define and create a unique position for yourself in the market to resonate with your target audience.
- Understand your current brand positioning – Make use of surveys to understand your customers’ current perception of your brand.
- List down your direct and indirect competitors – In the beginning, you will compete with the direct competitors but sooner rather than later, you will have to position yourself uniquely against indirect competitors as well.
- Know your competitors – Try to understand who your competitors are, their offerings, their differentiators, etc.
- Look inside to know what makes your product/brand unique
- Define your positioning statement to communicate the unique value of your brand to your audience
- Analyze if your positioning statement works by gathering feedback from your customers
- Humanize your brand to establish an emotional connection with your customers
- Redefine your sales process to reinforce and highlight your brand differentiators
- Create, communicate, and deliver value
- Train your customer-facing employees on your brand’s values
3. Reputation Management
Once you’ve defined and implemented your brand positioning and values, pay attention to your brand’s reputation.
Keep a close eye on what’s being said about your brand, who’s saying it, and where they are saying it. Media monitoring and social listening tools will ensure you know every conversation, mention of your brand. The chief aim behind constantly monitoring your brand’s reputation is to stay one step ahead. If you know what’s coming, you will be able to steer the conversation in the right direction; hopefully, a direction that doesn’t hurt your brand’s reputation.
The role of brand reputation management is to take ownership and accountability of your brand’s perception and dictate it according to your defined brand and organizational values.
Here are the top 5 best practices for effective brand reputation management:
- Focus on content marketing
- Invest time, resources, and efforts to improve overall customer satisfaction
- Actively use social listening tools to manage and revert to negative comments
- Personalize your customers’ interactions with your brand
- Quality online and search presence
Pro Tip: Centralize your brand’s assets, definitions, essentials, creatives, and more to keep your brand’s communication on point. Also, make sure all the digital assets are easily accessible by all the stakeholders.
4. Brand performance and analysis
Once your brand management strategy is off-the-ground and active, start analyzing its performance and optimizing it for better impact. You can perform brand audits in-house or outsource them to an external agency based on the time and money you have.
An ideal brand audit should cover the main three areas:
- Internal branding – values, brand positioning, company culture, etc.
- External branding – advertising, marketing materials, PR, social media, website, content, etc.
- Customer experience – sales process, customer support – both online and offline
If you decide to do it in-house, here’s how you can go about auditing your brand:
- Start by creating a framework of the audit
- Center your brand audit around questioning your customers and getting feedback from them
- Dig deep into your web analytics
- Review your social data
- Review your sales excel sheets and CRM
- Evaluate your competitors and their brand management strategies using competitor analysis tools
Pro tip: While evaluating your brand management strategies, make sure the assets, brand’s voice, and customer experience are consistent throughout.
Create a schedule for brand audits to keep your brand management strategies effective and impactful.
The more you pay attention to brand management, the greater return on investment you will get on your marketing budget.
Image Credit: from the author; thank you!
What is the Effect of FinTech on Banks? – ReadWrite
The time of FinTech being a buzzword only in the banking industry is gone. Nowadays, FinTech has become a well-known phrase in technology worldwide.
Global purchases in FinTech enterprises have increased to $112 billion instead of $51 billion last year. This is proving more than how the digital substitution is at their enterprise of the financial co-operations area.
What is the Effect of FinTech on Banks?
This change is bringing an enormous impact on all the banks globally. However, before we go through the impacts and other aspects of FinTech on the financial institutes, let’s first dive into the definition of FinTech.
What is FinTech?
The word FinTech is obtained by combining two words: Financial services and digital technology. Therefore, FinTech just signifies the application of digital technology by startups, including innovative products and services like:
- Alternative finance
- Mobile payments
- Big data
- Online banking
- Financial management
FinTech was launched as a technology that was useful for tracking the back-end systems of financial companies and banks. Nevertheless, with time the definition of FinTech in the market has changed.
Now it includes various applications that are customer-based. For example, the tech applications let you trade stocks, contrive funds, and finance for your insurance and other necessities with this technology.
FinTech for banking has influenced various applications and remodeled the way customers obtain their finances. Its impact varies from mobile pay apps to finance and insurance businesses. This intellectual impact of FinTech also a possible peril to the traditional banks. In the digital era, consumers are not enthusiastic about the services rendered by the conventional financial services enterprise. Rather, they favor services that are expeditious and reliable.
This is one of the biggest reasons why FinTech has become popular and disrupting banking and financial services. The majority of business executors use apps to maintain their finances. Also, around 69 percent of enterprises practice the technology at least a few occasions a week.
As we know what fintech is, let’s go through the impact of FinTech on the bank industry.
The ultimate impact of FinTech is on financial services
Incipiently, FinTech startups and conventional banks signified competitors striving for each client, however with time, it has altered and the reason is the FinTech interruption in financial services with these aspects:
- Enhanced financial security
- Possibilities to grow for individuals and institutions
- More conventional client service
- Incumbents alliance
Let’s dive deep into the other significant impact of FinTech!
1) Big Data and risk assessment
All the individual documents stored in device accommodations regard Big Data and, if implemented properly, can exhibit behavioral models of present and possible clients. Thus, AI and ML algorithms development aids FinTechs and finance firms to develop policies directed at further personalized duties, excellent client co-operation, and limited hazardous transactions.
Moreover, superior technologies are used for fraud exposure by recognizing individual user actions based on behavioral models. Fintechs have lately started testing with Big Data for agreement persistence. They’re producing tools and resolutions which benefit incumbents to match the installed elements.
2) Security and client experience
Another case of the influence of FinTech on banks is concrete changes in individual data security and client experience. Various data ruptures that transpired in various parts of the system in the last few years have pushed incumbents and their associates to receive notice. For instance, the scandal of Wirecard shattered the FinTech world. One of the biggest mortgage providers deserted to coincide with the compulsory audit by revealing a $2.1b slot in its records and accepting a complex global scam.
And the rest of the professionals took lessons from this case:
The business members concede the effect of building a “compliance culture”; people follow them to maintain uniformity in the industry. Modernized development indicates that FinTechs examine the growth forecasts and compliance inclinations. AML/KYC checks are essential components of the constitutional structures of FinTechs, allowing organizations to vet and control clients.
The general manager of Klarna, Georg Hauer, understands that earning trust should be the most important preference for FinTechs who necessitate making certain that their technology runs seamlessly, perpetually work in the consumer’s best case and provide their requirements.
However, it was not the last scandal; these are a few examples:
ING subsidiary Payvision, a cash provider institution, was arrested for promoting fraudulent activities meriting €131.2m. Around 289 European customers wasted their funds over four years, from 2015 to 2019. Payvision is named “The Netherlands Wirecard” and charged for “encouraging scammers in high custom fraud.” As FinTechs frequently rely on mobile credentials for investment and financial services, the prospects of illegal access to private monetary documents, reports, and digital pocketbooks have developed with time.
Since then, cybersecurity has improved since then, and consumer involvement can be accomplished by increasing the support of employment and regulation of firewalls. Cloud services need specific examples and techniques for identifying electronic attacks, defending each kind of assistance individually, exhibiting a robust construction.
3) Great changes in human resources
FinTech is transforming business models and the foundation of high-street banks, where it triggers significant changes in their human resources. New FinTech businesses invested in banks raise the interest for professionals with experiences and expertise in finance and development. Hence, several creative professions for cybersecurity investigators, product administrators, agreement specialists, data professionals have overwhelmed the employment market.
Also, it excites the younger contemporaries to choose a professional track that is relevant in the future. It urges businesses to establish exercises into preparing the present staff, providing informative events, and increasing human resources’ tech specialties.
4) Products and services of the upcoming generation
Embraced the knowledge of modifications, banks are now fighting for the most advanced commodities or services.
These are the best methods of how FinTech is obstructing banking services:
- Digital-only banks operate without substantial branches producing explanations online. Amongst the well-known banks are N26, Penta, and Chime.
- Common current accounts like Monzo contract with different currencies, ticket types, and user levels, enabling clients to pursue their investments and succeed in savings.
- Voice and face recognition systems are utilized for granting access to users’ reports. Atom Bank is the organization extending these methods.
- AR/VR provides a future to business substances to obtain an edge over competitors.
- For example, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia has created an application that delivers an immersive activity for actual estate consumers and sellers.
- Global change, such as COVID, has driven FinTechs to innovate even more. As a result, the professionals develop new methods of assisting their customers and generating new collaborations.
For instance, Kabbage in the business with Lendio and Fundera started a program where customers can purchase gift vouchers to help local small businesses throughout the coronavirus crisis.
Another case is Revolut and its characteristic for users who desire to assist those afflicted by COVID-19. The prevailing market situation is growing quickly, and to not be left behind, FinTechs are injecting brand-new products: Few well-known enterprises have combined forces to create a turnkey origination and underwriting stage for donors of all kinds to contribute supplies to businesses.
Innovesta from Israel has increased CRI (COVID-19 Resilience Innodex), determining businesses’ venture score and experience to resist the consequences of a pandemic.
Iwoca presented customers with different lending inclinations within the OpenLending platform.
5) Personalised customer support
We know that it’s the market’s need for personalized financial services to bring more clients and startups to connect their enterprises.
Here is how FinTech influences banks’ customer support.
Clients make infrequent requests to the bank support: information should be available, support – referring to their distinct situation and the feedback – second. To satisfy these requirements, authorities use different channels – agents, chats, advice centers. This omnichannel strategy also serves great for developing new products and managing clients’ data.
Apart from that, a few banks expand the co-browsing system that provides the support professional to help as if they’re assembling next to the consumer and looking at the counselor.
It’s fabulous for online methods for credit formalization, starting a bank account, or a security system. Although every event is now available 24/7, there are still a large number of clients who favor conventional methods for handling utility bills, obtaining money transfers, or paying loans. However, changes in digital transactions are performing to bring even the most traditional clients.
The original course that merits special consideration is omnichannel banking, allowing users to conduct transactions in all circumstances are:
- Web platforms
- Social networks.
Another positive difference leads to reduced transactional fees, greater transparency, and a more profound error venture that has been completed because of the blockchain deployment.
Risks and Challenges: The Effect of FinTech on the financial system.
It is certainly not covered in the flip facet of the FinTech startups and banks’ collaboration.
The fast implementation of modern-edge techs increases requests for commercial firms and the entire industry.
Risks to firms:
- Some industry models can’t attain the increased engagement and turn out to unsustainable.
- The formal conditions for business structures might be enigmatic, nebulous or unrealistic.
- The extensive application of technologies leads to severe risks in an operational exercise.
- Banks working globally face difficulties compared to the variations in administrative structures of various countries.
Fintech influence on financial services and business security:
- Attending FinTech providers and prosperous relations among startups and officials are growing systemically significant;
- The modern legislative field doesn’t include all the problems associated with the movement of non-bank companies;
- The advantage of cryptocurrencies may create price evaporations and changes payment methods
Several aspects of FinTech affect banks in the upcoming time:
Transparency and collaborative: The financial cycle is dependent on open discovery beginning concurrently with occupants and third-party providers. Active regulation will facilitate striving data, information, and opinions between business professionals. Accessibility and business guide: Current laws and customs command assistant business firms to quickly access the business and high road banks that perform FinTech features in their marketing models efficiently.
For fundraising and investment flows, companies will collect certain funds; these are the aspect that affects the FinTech Bank at the most:
#1. Public Banking offers more opportunity to its clients
The original thought was initially proposed in the UK and then expanded in other areas of European countries. The leadership indicates that banks will associate with third-party businesses by delivering protecting users’ data to the end via application programming interfaces. It is presumed that the open banking method will increase engagement, encourage modifications, and perform better users’ activity.
Although digital banks were implemented and served for the lockdown, they have experienced several global crises. Implying further secondary averages for particular financial objectives, now they see a downwards leaning in daily military banking practice. Fincog has contracted the FCBI (Fincog Challenger Bank Index) and examined the appearance of banks all across the world.
These are some of their findings:
- Trading assistance remains to be durable and sustains interesting investments.
- Regular banking and international money neo-banks have considered the adverse consequence of the coronavirus.
- Digital difficulties bestow excellent protection to provocations
- Customer lending is declined while interest loans are on the increase
The specialists from Financial IT understand that one of the permanent results of COVID-19 will be investments and related products’ performance within Open Banking.
The purpose is that neo-banks detect the contemporary situation as very challenging. To be aggressive, they ought to accept the modern requirements of firms and families undergoing financial stress.
#2. Small banks are prepared to hop on the campaign of FinTech.
After the financial crisis during Covid, several local banks were devised to slow compared to their competitors. And it’s time for them to come back and improve and attain their spot in the financial market once again. Some of the US banks, Evolve Bank & Trust, Cross River, and Sutton Bank, have placed influential connections with startups. With new businesses stand out to their consumer base and increase administrative security, incumbents overcome the mobile banking application business.
#3. Traditional lending has grown faster and more convenient.
The underserved sections of bank customers can live an exhalation of assistance as the lending method is working to become less painful and time-consuming. In addition, the FinTechs and administrators tandem are operating hard on improving modern credit score evaluation models and risk management methods, which leads to firmer decision-making.
#4. Regulatory Technology is to reduce agreement purposes.
The RegTech is here to change current administrative flows with the aid of high-level technologies, Big Data analytics, and cloud modernized in special. The RegTech is to assist financial companies quickly and painlessly adjust to ever-changing law rules. SupTech has converted different mainstream exceedingly helping the economic security of FinTechs and incumbents.
Recently, The Financial Stability Board (FSB) issued a statement on the effectiveness of SupTech and RegTech by FSB features and controlled systems. The report describes the possibilities allowed by the SupTech and RegTech compared to data acquisition, interpretation and storage.
Regulatory organizations get a mechanism to develop analytic abilities and administration procedures. As a result, regulated businesses can heighten risk management systems, enhance decision-making methods, facilitate agreement schemes. This trend particularly involves compliance problems, activities tracking, selling, and recording methods.
Advantage of SupTech: As FSB depicts, the preponderance of respondents have now installed SupTech operation since 2016, which significantly improves their possibilities of determining agreement issues and developing trust.
#5. Banking as a Platform (BaaP) remains increasing in momentum.
Platform-Based banking is developing by leaps and bounds, slowly displacing the regular product-centered strategy and perpendicular business types. The purpose is to provide third-party providers to improve banking resolutions, becoming a full path to the exclusive knowledge of incumbentIn addition, it It means BaaP resonates with the Open Banking idea as both are dedicated to generating profits for all individuals – FinTechs, customers, and banks.
These are a few of the aspects that we will encounter in the near future. FinTech has tremendous potential that will be released soon.
FinTech Latest Projects
The main focus of FinTech is essentially on online finance and crowdfunding explications for different niches, business sectors, and marketing models. FinTech has built several platforms for their clients, but these are the latest projects with a stand-alone FinTech resolution created as per the consumer experience.
LenderKit: LenderKit is crowdfunding and digital finance software for corporations who want to enter the business of alternative financing.
LenderKit appears in a package with essentials such as compelling back-office, programmed KYC/AML methods, the built-in CMS and an inconsiderable market.
InvestMySchool: InvestMySchool is a fundraising program that is based in the UK, helping independent schools and institutional organizations.
In the FinTech era, financial companies should accommodate digital trends as fast as they can and completely pinpoint the latest digital customer needs. The increasing expectation of economic systems is to change from product-based to customer-based designs that equip themselves to advance fast, easy-to-use, personalized goods and assistance to digital customers via the customer preference channel.
By getting the right mix of benefits, companies, and properties, conventional banks are leveraging innovative explications to discuss the evolving requirements of their customers in this period of digital financial services.
How to Make Enterprise Learning and Development More Accessible to Employees – ReadWrite
Most learning and development (L&D) solutions on the market today don’t take into account the needs of those behind the digital divide. As today’s workforce becomes more decentralized and more remote, some workers miss out on opportunities to learn and grow within their organizations. This is especially true in this new normal of ours, where a lot of in-person contact is may continue here and there — even with the COVID-19 vaccine.
For companies that want to provide equal access to opportunity for all employees, corporate L&D has to evolve. This includes implementing systems and policies that not only reach those best equipped but also those with limited resources as well. For those struggling with this conundrum, here are three surefire ways to make your L&D programs more equitable and more inclusive.
Don’t Assume That Everyone Learns the Same Way
When going through the motions of L&D program development and implementation, it is easy to assume that everyone will digest it in the same way. However, estimates indicate that 30% of the college-educated workforce fits the current federal definition of having a disability. That number doesn’t include workers without college degrees, and only includes those who disclose that they have a disability. Current estimates also indicate that only 39% of workers with a disability disclose it to their manager, and even fewer disclose it to team members or the HR department.
As such, L&D executives should consider providing sensitivity training to their training teams. This will help them better understand the types of disabilities in the workplace, whether visible or not. This will also help instructional designers and trainers tailor content to meet the needs of all employees. There are even some amazing technologies that can help with implementation.
Microsoft’s Immersive Reader, specifically designed to support dyslexia and dysgraphia, is a perfect example. With the Immersive Reader, employees with reading disabilities can have text read out loud, even in other languages. In addition, for those with a limited understanding of computers, Windows 10 has a voice control feature, which is different from dictation. macOS user, you can use Apple’s built-in system.
Text-Based L&D Is the Most Inclusive
Not everyone uses a computer at work or has access to the Internet. However, most have a cell phone of some type and can receive text messages.
As Arist co-founder and CEO puts it, “text-based messaging is the one technology almost all of us have in common. It has the highest rate of adoption, nearly 98%, according to leading figures. This makes it the most inclusive technology there is.”
Artist’s ability to bridge the digital divide helped it win over more than a dozen Fortune 500 organizations. DuPont turned to Arist to supplement its online learning initiatives. DuPont Sustainable Solutions has even designed courses for onboarding employees, compliance training, sales skills improvement, health and wellness programs and refresher training. The training comes in bite-sized chunks over a period of days.
Artist refers to these text-based quick bites as microlearning. In its simplest form, microlearning is a delivery format where users receive short-form content over an extended period. When comparing microlearning to traditional learning, research has found that 82% of users regarded microlearning as user-friendly, compared to less than 25% for traditional learning.
For employees with language or learning barriers, microlearning is more digestible.
“Not only is text a more inclusive technology, when paired with microlearning methodologies, but it also becomes an extremely effective way to eliminate other barriers to learning as well,” added Ioffe.
Make Reasonable Accommodations
Accessible, inclusive L&D initiatives boil down to making reasonable accommodations for employees. L&D professionals will need to evaluate all facets of this, whether non-tech, low-tech or high-tech. The Office of Disability Rights defines reasonable accommodations under those parameters.
Non-technical accommodations include things like slowing the pace of training or providing extra assistance. Low-tech accommodations are typically low-cost and are already available in the workplace or easy to acquire, like speech-to-text technology. And high-tech accommodations are those that involve customized equipment, technology, devices, or sophisticated software. Knowing the workforce’s needs you are training will help you prioritize the things that qualify as reasonable accommodations.
In the end, no matter how big your budget is or how much time you can dedicate to tools and technology, it is important to remember that L&D is all about people. As trainers, educators, and coaches, the primary responsibility for L&D professionals is the development of people. Remembering that will make all the difference.
Image Credit: pixabay; pexels; thank you!