The Pros and Cons of Letting Employees Work From Home

adult-brunette-communication-920381It’s not out of the ordinary for employees today to ask to work from home. Many business owners tell me that their employees feel like they are more productive overall when working remotely.

What can you do to accommodate them, especially if they feel like the arrangement will make them a better asset to your company?

Many employers are making it a priority to keep an open door policy with every one of their employees so that they can be aware of anything that may prevent them from coming into the office. Let’s take a more in-depth look at some of the possible pros and cons of allowing your employees to work from home:

The Advantages 

There’s no better way of ensuring employee retention than meeting them halfway. In my experience, a happy employee is a loyal employee. The satisfaction that an employee experiences from being able to work from home can be a great way of motivating them into being more productive. This can also serve to create a strong sense of employee/employer trust. If an employee feels like their employer trusts them to get the job done, they will feel valued. When you empower your employees, the possibilities for growth are truly endless.

The Disadvantages

If having all hands on deck is essential to your company, letting an employee work from home may not be an option. It can also be an issue in terms of monitoring your employee’s progress. You will have no way of controlling your employee’s production, which can be difficult if you like having the ability to check in with your staff throughout the day. Although Skype and FaceTime can help maintain a connection, it’s not a replacement for face-to-face mentoring. Additionally, personal life distractions, especially technological ones, can be unavoidable for most employees working from home.

As a business owner, you are keenly aware that your employees are the most valuable part of your business. Be sure to maintain an open dialogue with each employee and come up with a working solution that fits both of your needs.

If you’re wondering what more you can do to assist employees who want to work from home, contact me today to join a TAB peer advisory board.

Advertisements

You Don’t Have to Know Everything

adult-brainstorming-business-1181622As a business owner myself and through interacting with business owners nearly every day, I understand that it can be difficult to let go of certain aspects of your business. However, you can’t be everywhere doing every job all the time, especially as your business grows. I’ve seen many TAB members stretch themselves thin this way, which can lead to important matters slipping through the cracks.

In a perfect world, no one would wear more than one hat at a time. If you’re wearing so many hats that you’re feeling weighed down, find out if any of them will fit your existing employees. If no one is a match, or if your current employees are also overwhelmed, it may be time to recruit.

Needing to delegate is not a weakness. In fact, acknowledging that you need to practice delegation can reveal the following positive qualities of a leader:

Forward-Thinking

You have big dreams for your business, but you may be hesitant to take the necessary steps to reach your end goals if you have enough on your plate as it is. By delegating you are preparing your business for future growth. By freeing yourself of tasks that can be trusted to your employees, you will have the time to look for new growth opportunities. It’s hard to see the horizon when your many hats obstruct your view.

Self-Aware

When you show your staff that you understand your own strengths and weaknesses and know they can take the lead in areas that aren’t your strong points, you build a trusting work relationship. By respecting the skills of your employees, their performance and the overall work environment can drastically improve.

One of the best ways to show self-awareness is to listen to your employees. How would they suggest the business processes could be improved? What are their opinions on employee morale? They may even have constructive observations on how you can improve as a leader. I encourage business owners to welcome feedback from their employees.

Approachable

Inviting your employees to provide feedback opens the doors to communication. No matter how approachable you may be, it can be difficult for some employees to feel comfortable around an authority figure. Communicating both your strengths and shortcomings to your staff humanizes you to an approachable level. If they seem resistant in the beginning, I would suggest sending an internal survey that staff can submit anonymously. Once they see that their anonymous proposals are being taken seriously, they may be more willing to come forward for future communication.

To discuss how you can find out how other business owners take initiative with delegation, contact me today to join a TAB peer advisory board!


The Use of Job Descriptions Beyond Recruiting

image-from-rawpixel-id-76035-jpegDo your employees know the extent of their responsibilities? This may seem like an odd question because it can be difficult to imagine they’d be able to do their jobs if they don’t know their responsibilities. The truth is they may have enough of an idea to fly under your radar, but a detailed job description with clearly outlined responsibilities could provide them with enough guidance to truly excel. Through TAB meeting discussions, I’ve noticed that many business owners who don’t provide defined roles or job descriptions are frustrated with their turnover rate.

Some indicators that your employees could benefit from updated or detailed job descriptions are that they don’t improve from one evaluation to the next or they show a lack of enthusiasm or initiative. Additionally, unclear roles and responsibilities can lead to confusion among your team, and some members may even feel like they are picking up the slack of others, which can lead to low employee morale. Here are just a couple benefits I’ve seen businesses experience when they document job descriptions:

Employee Autonomy

How much freedom do you want your employees to have in regard to how they complete their required tasks? If you trust that your employees are qualified and don’t need micromanaging, they may in fact do a better job if they’re given as much independence as you can offer. You can describe each of their tasks as much as you’d like: use more details for tasks that require them to follow stricter processes and less details for tasks that allow for more autonomy.

Lower Turnover

When employees have a clearly communicated idea of what tasks they are supposed to complete and who they report to, they are likely to spend less time worrying about whether or not they are adequately meeting your expectations. Because one in four Canadians leave their place of employment because of work-related stress, the boost in confidence that comes with knowing what’s expected of them can help decrease your turnover.

If you agree that providing your employees with detailed job descriptions might be in their and your business’s best interest, here are some sections you may want to include:

  • Job Title
  • Job Description – List all duties and tasks that the employee is responsible for in order of importance or anticipated time it would take to complete the activities.
  • Reporting Structure – Do your employees know who they’re responsible for and who they’re meant to report to for each specific task? Having it all down on paper leaves little room for error.
  • Experience and Skills – If your employees have already been in their position for a while, they likely have most of the experience and skills they need. However, reading this job description may remind them of a task they weren’t aware of or remind them of some skills or programs they may want to brush up on.

Another plus of providing all of your existing employees with detailed job descriptions is that you have them on hand in case you need to hire replacements. When interviewing job applicants, you can ask questions tailored to the job description to ensure you hire the most qualified candidate.

If you’re curious to know how other businesses format and communicate job descriptions, contact me today to join a TAB peer advisory board.


Should Recruitment Be Ongoing?

RecruitmentIf you’re anything like many other business owners, the thought of going through your recruitment process leaves you feeling drained. Needing to hire a new employee is like being stuck between a rock and a hard place: you need the position filled to keep your business running smoothly, but the time it takes to fill the position with a qualified candidate keeps you away from ensuring your business runs smoothly.

What makes matters worse is that even after you’ve hired a suitable candidate, as much as 25 per cent of new hires leave within 45 days of their start date. When businesses express their frustrations of how much time they spend recruiting whenever there’s turnover, I always suggest practicing continuous recruitment.

Continuous recruitment is simply being open to recognizing talent when you see it, even if you’re not currently hiring. This often takes the form of welcoming resumes and regularly reviewing them in order to stockpile potential candidates as “back-ups.”

Here are just a few reasons why I suggest you consider ongoing recruitment for your business:

Shorter Position Vacancies

Acquiring job applications from candidates with the right qualifications can take weeks – weeks you save by keeping your application channels open at all times. You can save even more time by using an Applicant Tracking System to help you filter out unfit candidates.

Finding Unexpected Talent

Even if you don’t currently have a vacancy, what if a resume comes across your desk that defies all reasonable expectations? Do you risk missing out on possibly one of the best candidates you’ve ever had or see if there’s some way to work with this person? Consider keeping around such exceptional talent as a freelancer until you can find a permanent place for them on your team.

Network-Building

When it’s time for you to hire a new employee, there is no harm in contacting an applicant that applied weeks or even months ago. If they are no longer looking for employment, perhaps they might know someone equally or even better fit for the position. Was it their education or involvement with an association that appealed to you? Consider connecting with the school or association to look for other candidates.

Although there are steps you can take to prevent turnover or ensure you hire the right candidate the first time, it is best to always be prepared for turnover. Practicing continuous recruitment can be as simple as having a message on your website’s “Careers” page that states something like this:

“Please note that we are not hiring at the moment. However, we are always looking to recruit top talent. For general consideration, please send your resume to careers@yourcompany.com and we may reach out to you should a relevant position become available.”

To find out how other businesses carry out their continuous recruitment efforts, contact me today to discuss joining a TAB advisory board!


Business Reorganization After Growth

arrows-box-business-533189As your business becomes increasingly successful, certain aspects of your business will need to change and/or grow to keep up with your demand. Through TAB meeting discussions, I’ve seen this growth take the form of increasing your inventory to meet local demand, expanding to another location to meet national demand, providing more offerings to meet client interests, or outsourcing or hiring more staff to meet all of the above. If you keep hiring more employees, there will come a time when you need to reorganize your reporting structure or even your departments.

In anticipation for future growth, I encourage all business owners to create an organizational restructuring process to ensure your business expansion goes as smoothly as possible. Here are just a few topics you may want this process to cover:

Promoting vs. Hiring ­

When your business requires a new department, you will need to decide if it’s best to promote an existing employee or hire someone new to manage it. It may sound ideal to promote someone who already knows your business, but it could be best to hire someone from outside your business with a more precise set of skills. For example, your highly skilled and dedicated salesperson may not have the right qualifications to lead a new marketing department.

Training

If you do hope to promote from within, how will you prepare your employee for the tasks and responsibilities that come with a higher-level position? If you anticipate expansion in the coming months, I have seen many business owners see success with managers mentoring talented employees to prepare them to take on the same or similar position. An outside hire can learn the ins and outs of your business this same way.

Communication

To ensure everyone in your business is on the same page at every step of growth, you may also want to detail how to communicate to staff that the growth may affect their roles within the company. If big changes are coming and your employees aren’t aware of what they are, they may jump to the conclusion that their jobs or the business may be in trouble when in fact the opposite is true. Your success is their success, and clear communication of any changes in roles or responsibilities can greatly help the progress continue.

Once your organizational restructuring process has been developed and implemented, I encourage you to regularly monitor and reassess its effectiveness. Perhaps there’s an area that can be improved or wasn’t ideal for the type of growth your business experienced. Did you actually need to hire more in-house staff, or should you consider hiring contract workers in the future? It’s important to be flexible and allow your processes to grow and improve with your business.

If you would like to discover how other business owners have restructured as a result of growth, contact me today to discuss becoming a member of a TAB peer advisory board!


How Do You Provide Employee Feedback?

pexels-photo-70292It’s a standard business practice among large corporations, and even smaller businesses: annual performance evaluations. Many businesses hold on to the tradition of conducting annual performance evaluations to review employee progress and goals. However, 30% of performance reviews decrease employee morale rather than improve it.

To ensure your employees receive constructive feedback in a receptive manner, here are a few other options for providing feedback you can consider:

Be Timely

I encourage business owners to provide constructive criticism as soon as their employees experience difficulties within their role. This way, they can take appropriate steps right away to improve their actions rather than continue down a slippery slope of poor performance, which can in turn negatively impact your business. For example, if one of your employees seems slightly too blunt with a client, consider speaking with them immediately after the meeting to discuss how to better communicate with clients.

This suggestion of providing timely feedback applies to providing praise as well. Although it may be appreciated at any time, your employees will have a precise image of how to continue their good work if they can clearly remember the work you’re commending.

Clearly Define Expectations

Before we hire employees, we have an idea of the tasks they’ll perform and the role they’ll serve in the business. Sometimes, especially in smaller businesses, the roles and responsibilities of an employee can shift quite quickly based on the needs of the business. If there’s been any change in the roles or responsibilities of an employee, it’s important that you communicate any changes in expectations that arise as a result of a shift in responsibilities.

You can improve your employees’ performance even further by discussing with them how to meet the expectations of their role rather than to simply assign the expectations. Much of business success is rooted in two-way communication.

Ask for Their Feedback

Although intimidation isn’t your intention, some employees believe receiving feedback to be a daunting ordeal. To help them be more receptive to feedback, try asking them to comment on themselves first. If they are already mindful of their workplace struggles, this allows them the opportunity to inform you of the steps they are already taking to improve. You can then offer further guidance, as needed. The goal of this method is for your employee to have a conversation with you rather than feel they’re being criticized.

To find out how you can better provide employee feedback or learn how other businesses approach it, contact me today to discuss joining a TAB advisory board!


Respecting Professional Boundaries

29-11-2011Have you ever patted an employee on the back to praise them? Or, have you ever asked them a deeply personal question simply because you care about their well- being? While your intentions may be good, your staff may perceive these gestures in a completely different way than you would like them to. Sometimes we work so closely with our staff that the boundary between employee and friend can become blurred. Despite having the best intentions, as a person of authority, you should be cognizant about how you interact with your employees.

In order to protect yourself and your brand’s reputation from unsavoury allegations, I encourage all businesses, no matter their size, to implement a workplace harassment policy. In fact, all employers are required to have a workplace harassment policy under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The purpose of a workplace harassment policy is to ensure there are procedures in place to prevent and handle employee harassment complaints. If there aren’t documented procedures that you and your employees can easily reference as needed, you potentially open yourself up to legal repercussions. To avoid any grey area, there are template policies you can use to create your own.

Your workplace harassment policy can cover as little or as much as you deem necessary for your business, but here are a few subjects to take into consideration:

 

Verbal Phrasing

I strongly suggest mulling over every comment in your head before sharing them with employees, because carefree comments from a superior can easily be misunderstood as inappropriate or intimidating. Some employees may give you the benefit of the doubt over simple mistakes, but there may be others who take offense. The same goes for jokes; a joke that went over well at a friend or family gathering may not be appropriate for the workplace.

 

Physical Actions

You may have the most innocent of intentions when you pat an employee on the back or place a hand on their shoulder, but not everyone will realize this. If you have a habit of casually touching people when you speak to them, I would suggest trying to break it. If you’re unaware of any such habits, I would recommend taking a day or week to be particularly conscious of your actions around employees; you might have a habit you didn’t know about.

 

Visuals

Décor such as calendars, posters, paintings, statues, and any other form of decoration brought into the workplace should be chosen with a purely professional mindset. Where possible, I suggest choosing pieces that won’t cause debate over the definition of “tasteful.” And similarly to being cautious of jokes you share with employees, satirical images may not be as well received among employees as they can be among friends.

For specifics on what topics should be avoided in the workplace and to ensure discriminatory or offensive remarks/actions don’t take place, consider reviewing the Ontario Human Rights Code.

If you need help manoeuvring around this delicate subject and want to discuss how to implement an effective workplace harassment policy, contact me today to join a TAB peer advisory board.