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From the farm field to the factory floor, 2016 was a year that saw businesses everywhere “running live.”

A review of just a few stories from the year demonstrates how a diverse range of exciting companies have begun streamlining processes – and as a direct result are now helping more people than ever before.

The year began with continued growing consumer interest in purchasing Fair Trade Certified products. In fact, the fair trade label is the most top-of-mind, and environmentally friendly product label in the world.

As the first tea crafter in the United States to offer Fair Trade Certified tea, one company has been widely credited with greatly expanding awareness of fair trade. Their story detailed how having North America’s number one selling organic tea line quickly meant finding a new system for tracking everything from inventory to ingredients was in the tea leaves.

Often associated with fair trade is fair price, and this company’s very name reflects an ongoing commitment to help care for local communities.

The organization remained committed to providing its customers with stocked stores and affordable prices – while the philanthropic foundation that is its namesake continued to make good on its stated mission to provide a better life for the community.

Correspondingly, workplace giving also continued to rise in 2016. However, the question many employees continue to ask is, “how do I know my money is getting to the right place?” That question, as well as a guide to the advantages of making paycheck donations, was addressed in this story.

Increasingly, many people believe that the giving of one’s time is equal to or even more valuable than money. Volunteering was certainly a practice that millennials continued to value in the past year. Increasingly, firms are realizing that employees feel more fulfilled when they use their creative brainpower and time to help others.

So in 2016 we looked at how one company truly values all that millennials bring to the organization, and how much they appreciated their employees as they mentor children, visit hospitals, and make special deliveries to those in need.

Appreciation was a recurring theme and much discussed topic during the year. In fact, this story presented some compelling facts around why despite a rapidly digitizing workplace, making employees feel more appreciated is a critical requirement for every organization.

The research presented also demonstrated that strong performance recognition for great work significantly impacts employee engagement.

A discussion about 2016 wouldn’t be complete without talking about organic foods. A program in India is using the latest technology to help farmers keep pace with the growing demand for organic food.

This story provided details on how taking a holistic approach is not only producing higher-quality food, but also offering a more sustainable future.

2016 saw some incredible advances in technology that have enabled businesses like those in the stories above to simplify and in the process help more and more people.

Therefore, the excitement is already building for 2017 as technology is certain to remain the driving force behind today’s business revolution.

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