If you have been running a small business for some time now or will be making your debut in 2013, what do you foresee as some of the major challenges?

While it may not come to mind right away, one of your top challenges if you employ others is making sure your workers are doing just that, working. In some cases, employees forget why they are working for you in the first place, leading to wasted time on the job.

According to an infographic from OnlineMBA.com, the typical employee admits to wasting some three hours a day during an eight-hour shift (that is not counting lunch time and required breaks).

Such times goes towards:

* Forty-four percent note Web surfing;
* Twenty-three percent say they socialize with co-workers;
* Just under four percent admit to ‘spacing out’ during the workday;
* A little more than 1.3 percent claim they look for other jobs during the day.

So, what can you do in the New Year to better monitor what your employees do during the work day?

Among the things to look at include:

* Computer usage - The biggest challenge for employers is properly monitoring what their workers do while online. Given the fact that many jobs now require time spent on the Internet, some business owners just assume their employees are doing things by the book. While the occasional browsing is not unexpected or oftentimes frowned upon, continuous Internet surfing means less time spent towards customer needs. There are different time tracking software packages available that employers can deploy to monitor Internet time. Should you choose such a route, make sure that all employees are subject to this (favoritism can kill office morale), and that your workers are aware of such activities;

* Coming and going to work - Many companies will give their employees the benefit of the doubt that they are properly coming and going from work, while others require timesheets or install computer software to track time on the job. Whichever route you choose, once again make sure everyone plays by the same rules. While paper timesheets have been the norm for many years, they do result in excess time for the person (typically in HR or finance) in charge of them to record. By installing software on each worker’s computer, you can monitor when the arrive and sign on at work, when they take breaks, and when they sign off and check out for the day;

* Employee socializing - While you do not want an office where co-workers are estranged from one another, you also want to avoid frequent water cooler get togethers and non-stop IM (instant message) sessions among your employees. When you are setting up your office layout, consider where you want workers to sit for starters. It is not uncommon for little cliques to form in an office, so keeping two non-stop talkers next to each other can result in less production. You want workers to be friendly amongst each other, but not to the point where their time spent together socializing while on the clock results in less productivity;

* Productive time with clients - Finally, do you monitor the amount of time your employees spend communicating with current and prospective customers? If the answer is no, you could be seeing time and money going right out the window. Just as your small business is busy, many of those you are trying to reach are busy too. As a result, your workers could be wasting time with endless phone calls, emails, and other forms of outreach. Sit down with your staff periodically and review how they go about reaching out to customers. Do they spend excess time during the day trying to get in contact with them? If they go on the road to meet with clients, can they do several in-person calls in one trip instead of going out several times during the day to meet? Whatever it takes to consolidate time and keep production at its highest level, make sure you and your team are doing it.

With a new year to polish up how you have done business in the past, make 2013 the year you and your workers were timely.

Hardly Working
[Source: OnlineMBA.com]