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.

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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!


How to Keep Valued Employees Without Giving Raises

action-adult-african-descent-1089551For small businesses, every dollar counts to achieve a positive bottom line. When a hard-working employee asks for a raise but your budget doesn’t have the wiggle room right now, but you also can’t afford to lose a quality employee, how can you ensure they don’t start looking elsewhere?

Here are what I suggest as alternatives to pay increases to keep the employees you want without paying more than you can afford:

Flexibility

One survey revealed that 58% of millennials would choose a better work-life balance over improved compensation. Do your employees need to be physically in the office every weekday? If they have everything they need to perform their duties from home and the independence to work on weekends, consider allowing them the flexibility to do so when it may be more convenient for their social or family life. Showing your employees that you care about their life outside of work will likely motivate them to care more about their life at work.

Commission

If the employee requesting a pay increase are members of your sales team, consider offering them commission incentives. Commission payouts may sound like they will cost you money, but they encourage your team to hit difficult goals that they otherwise may not have the motivation to accomplish. With increased sales you should be able to afford the commissions that come with them. There are many different commission structures that I recommend you look into before deciding which is ideal for your team.

Bonus

If an employee is putting in extra time on a project and the results are successful for your business, think about sharing some of that success with an employee with a bonus. This could be a cheque or a Visa gift certificate. Let them know why they are receiving the bonus.

Travel Expenses

Does your employee frequently use their own car for business-related travel? Reimbursing their per-kilometre allowance may be costing you more than if you provided them a company vehicle. As a Canadian business owner, many expenses related to company cars are tax deductible. Consider the difference in cost, and if the math doesn’t add up in your favour, then it may be better to consider one of the other alternatives on this list.

Professional Development

No matter which industry you’re in, it’s changing. Businesses that don’t grow or adapt to new technology or best practices become stagnant, and your employees want to stay relevant in the industry just as much as you do. In fact, 70% of employees wish they had more growth opportunities within their company. Offering them free learning opportunities to better themselves and develop their skills will allow them to better benefit your company. There would be costs involved, but group workshops, seminars, and conferences benefit multiple employees as well as your business, whereas individual salary increases only benefit the individual employees.

If you would like to hear about other ideas on how to keep your employees engaged and productive for the long-term, contact me today to discuss becoming a member of a TAB peer advisory board!


Hiring Decisions: What To Do If You’ve Hired the Wrong Person

k-158-pom-2068As a small business owner, it’s so important to find the right people for your team. I have spoken with small business owners who are thrilled to see their employees go above and beyond to improve the business. They say they never knew that an employee was so dedicated, or that someone exceeded even their highest expectations. But sometimes, and more often than you’d expect, businesses hire the wrong person and end up suffering certain consequences, which include:

  • Lost time and lost productivity – We’ve all heard the phrase “time is money,” and hiring the wrong person will cost a business both in training time, and in restarting the hiring process again once they’re gone.
  • An unhappy team and workplace – A difficult employee can put pressure on the rest of the team, who must pick up his or her slack, and deal with extra work and stress that they might find unfair.

So, how do we go about dealing with a bad hire? I always try to keep some important questions in mind:

  • Is the employee in the right role? In some cases, the person just isn’t a good fit for their role, but they may still be a good fit within the business. Consider speaking with the employee and changing their role, as that may lead to a happier and more productive employee and team.
  • Are problems arising from simple mistakes, or cutting corners? Mistakes are part of the learning curve, especially for new employees. It’s possible that the employee has made correctable errors, rather than demonstrate a character flaw.
  • Does the employee fit with the company culture? In the end, if the employee is not a good fit within the workplace, it’s best to let them go. Cut your losses early with a bad hire, so that you can save your time and money on finding a better fit, and a more productive employee.

Now that you’ve dealt with a troublesome hire, how do you go about finding the right person? Here are some tips you may want to consider when reviewing possible candidates:

  • Do your research. It’s a given that you do your research on each candidate beforehand, but take a closer look at their resume, LinkedIn profile, and references. Note any gaps in employment or any ambiguous points on their resume, and check their online presence on websites like Facebook and Twitter.
  • Go beyond the obvious. Ask the candidate questions that go beyond their resume and cover letter. Their answers may reveal more about their personality, and the rapport you build with them may show if they’re a good fit within your company culture.

As a small business owner, hiring is one of the many tasks you have to dedicate time to, and though it may be tiring, finding the right team members will be best for your business in the long run. If you’d like to learn more from other small business owners on hiring, and many other strategies, contact me today!


What Can You Do About Poor Performers?

performanceAs a business advisor I see the issue of poor performers come up all the time. If you’re a small to medium-sized business owner you want to be out there growing and developing your business, not mired in staffing problems. Without big human resources departments and manuals of policies and procedures to follow, I know you often don’t have a roadmap on how to deal with poor performers. The reality is that regardless of the size of your business or your particular industry, at some point you will have to deal with this issue.

What are the causes of poor performance?

Poor performance can be the result of many things including:

  • Not understanding expectations
  • Lack of ability
  • Lack of motivation
  • Not a team player
  • Chronically late
  • Bad attitude
  • Personality issues
  • Non-work related problems
  • Health issues

Why is employee performance so important to your business?

Employee performance affects organizational performance. A poor performer can create a toxic environment in your workplace, dragging down your entire team.

How can I avoid poor performers in my business?

Here are a few measures that I feel may help you to avoid the problem of poor performers.

  1. The hiring process: Choosing the right employees is crucial to a successful business but it’s not easy. If upon re-evaluation, you’ve discovered that you’ve hired several poor performers, perhaps you should consider outsourcing the hiring process to an external agency. The money you pay to the agency may actually save you money in the long run.
  2. Job expectations: Be clear about exactly what the job entails and what your expectations are.
  3. The onboarding process: Onboarding helps new hires acclimatize and orient to your business so that they can quickly become productive, contributing members of your organization. Have an onboarding plan in place for new hires and make sure that the tools they need to do their jobs are in place on their start date. E.g. workstation, computer, security pass, etc.
  4. Regularly scheduled one-on-one meetings: One-on-one meetings between employee and manager can potentially head off problems. Speaking about issues as they arise or have the potential to arise is always better than leaving them to fester and grow.

What can I do if I have a poor performer?

In my experience I’ve found it valuable to try and ascertain the root cause of poor performance before any action is taken. If the reasons are personal or health related and have nothing to do with the job, perhaps a leave of absence is in order. If an employee is lacking in ability, perhaps upgrading their skill set or transferring them to a different department is the answer. If the problem is attitude or motivation perhaps setting performance goals will inspire the necessary change. Try instituting quarterly performance reviews to address any performance issues and monitor improvement. If all else fails, you may have no choice but to let the employee go.

As a first step, I suggest that you review poor performance issues you’ve had in the past or are dealing with now. Evaluate what action to take in order to rectify the present situation and what changes you can make going forward in order to avoid the issues of poor performers.