Tag: human resources

How to Manage Employees and Freelancers by Email and Social Media

Last Updated: Jul 11, 2014
When you have remote employees and freelancers, it can be hard to keep tabs on what they’re doing. This advice on managing them via email and social media will help you keep communication open and productivity high.

Gone are the days when businesses required its workers to sit in a cubicle on the fourth floor and gaze out the office window a few minutes before starting the day. The Internet has spawned a new cottage industry – remote workforce labor, otherwise known as freelancing.

But one doesn’t need to be a freelancer to work remotely. Many companies are hiring employees and setting them up in a home office.

Remote work can take on any number of qualities for the benefit of company and worker alike. For example:

Why Virtual Relationships Are Beneficial

As long as the job gets done, does it matter who does it or how they get it done? Many companies are realizing that the pool of their potential candidates can be broadened by looking beyond geographical boundaries. This can often save money by reducing office space, overhead, pay and benefits, and expenditures related to office furniture and supplies since homebound employees may provide their own.

But there are other benefits, as well. Studies show that workers who work remotely from home are happier, more productive, and less likely to quit their jobs.

SEE ALSO: Tips for Outsourcing to Freelancers

While the study above concerned itself with call center employees, there may be reasons to believe other types of workers (employees or freelancers) could perform better at home. Writers and proofreaders, for instance, may be less distracted than if they worked in a busy office. Nevertheless, if you allow your employees to telecommute, or you work with freelancers a lot, then you’ll have to find ways to manage their projects from a distance, and that means communicating often through digital interfaces.

E-mail and social media seem to be the preferred and most familiar of the digital communication media.

How to Manage Projects Remotely Through E-mail

E-mail is fairly ubiquitous. It’s been around long enough that everyone understands it—even the most fearful technophobe. And it’s easy to use. The advantages are legion.

For starters, e-mail allows you and your remote workers a way to focus on your work load without distractions. You can schedule your e-mail time apart from your work time and still manage to get everything accomplished that needs to be accomplished. That’s true of managers and employees, as well as freelancers who may work with you on a per-project basis.

Here are a few suggestions on how to get the best from your employees and freelancers if you find yourself managing them through e-mail:

The important thing is to keep it low-key. Handle important business by phone and keep the e-mail space reserved for project-oriented details.

SEE ALSO: Flexible Work Advantages

How to Manage Projects Remotely Through Social Media

Try your best to use e-mail when communicating with remote workers. If you need to utilize social media for business, do it in such a way that you don’t annoy or embarrass your workers. Also, keep in mind the restrictions of the media. Twitter, even when direct messaging, will only allow you 140 characters.

The best way to manage remote workers through social media—especially if you are managing more than one—is to set up a group for project communication. You can still private message individual workers if you need to. Facebook and Google+ both allow you to start private groups for discussing projects related to your business. Unless the business you are discussing would be interesting to your customers, or the public, try to keep business-related messages off the public airways. Some exceptions to this rule might be:

Freelancers and employees might help you promote your projects if you use social media to send them kudos and give them credit where due. Keep this golden rule in mind: Criticize in private, praise in public.

© 2014 Attard Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be reproduced, reprinted or redistributed without written permission from Attard Communications, Inc.


Dangers of Rapid Business Growth and What to Do About Them

Last Updated: Sep 27, 2018
Once your business becomes profitable, your next goal is probably to see it grow. If that growth comes too fast, though, you could run into some unexpected problems. Here are the top six problems caused by rapid business growth and advice for how to handle them.

The growth and expansion phase is an exciting time for any small business. The primary goal of a startup is to get customers, deliver the product or service and reach the break-even point as quickly as possible. According to the conventional business plans, once the break-even point is achieved, profitability should follow. For some small businesses, however, another goal is rapid growth. And, that can be a problem. Businesses often underestimate the intense pressure that accompanies rapid business growth.

The costs of running a fledgling business can be difficult to manage, especially coming on the heels of cash outlay to open the business. At this point, your business may be surviving on credit as you try to grow sales and revenues. As you push for higher sales, expect monthly expenses to grow and possibly exceed your monthly revenues. If your collections are on track, that’s not an insurmountable problem. However, a cycle or two of delayed collections could leave your business in that proverbial spot between a rock and hard place.

To keep cash flowing anticipate the cash crunch with a realistic plan that accounts for delays in the collection of receivables. Prepare a back-up plan for raising cash from personal sources or through a pre-approved line of credit from your bank. Diversify your client base if possible. If you depend on one big client as a revenue source, you are leaving your small business vulnerable to the whims of the client.

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When your business starts growing quickly, you will be forced to improvise to manage increased demand for your products or services. When business buildup happens too fast and too soon, you will not be able to adhere to your perfect business plan where your operational processes flow smoothly. You may be pressured to hire more people sooner than you anticipated, and you may not be skilled in choosing the right people or you may not have the time to redesign your workflow to accommodate increased demand. While higher demand should lead to economies of scale, this may not happen if rapid growth results in any of these problems:

Manage the ordering system and the order fulfillment process so that you will not end up over-promising to your customers. If possible, talk to owners of other fast growing businesses to see what problems they experienced and so you know what to plan for. Ask advisors at a local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) or SCORE chapter for advice. Their services are free, and they may be able to help you be aware of problems and solutions for your type of business.  Remember, too, it is better to turn down customers than risk annoying them if you can’t deliver on time or can’t deliver quality goods and services.

A few customer complaints occasionally are part of doing business, but when negative feedback starts to pile up, it is an indication that you are not meeting client expectations. This could be due to lack of personnel to manage client interactions. It could also hint at other issues if your staff is spread too thin and is cutting corners to meet customer demand.

Clients who provide positive feedback are bound to be repeat customers. A host of negative feedback could indicate that you are unable to cope with the market’s expectations in terms of the delivery because you are overwhelmed. Make sure to monitor your feedback system regularly, keep an eye on social media mentions of your business, and have a plan in place for handling both positive and negative feedback.

RELATED: 8 Keys to Building Customer Loyalty

A vibrant workplace inspires employees to work their hardest, but when work consumes most of their waking hours, you run the risk of losing your trained and trusted employees. You may find that your business is a revolving door of employees in spite of generous compensation and benefits.

Pay attention to the evolving workplace culture as your business grows. Find the time to discuss quality of life issues during staff meetings. Make sure to address personnel matters as needed, but do it expeditiously.

RELATED: 7 Inexpensive Ways to Retain Employees in Your Small Business

As your business grows the number of employees, desks, filing cabinets, and amount of inventory you keep on hand are likely to increase, too. If you outgrow your office space and to move to a new location before your lease is up, you could be responsible for continuing to pay the lease until a new tenant is found for the space.

The best way to avoid this problem is to plan for it when you are signing a lease for commercial space. If you’re just starting out, you may want to opt for an executive suite or space in a business center that you rent by the month, or year.   If your business is at the point where it make sense to sign a more permanent lease, then then you’ll probably want to limit the term (number of years) for your lease  to 3 years if you expect to be growing more. And, if possible have your attorney negotiate an “out” clause in the lease. This is a clause that would spell out terms under which you could end the lease early, such as by giving the landlord 3 months written notice.

If you are already in a lease that doesn’t have an out clause and you need more space, ask your landlord if they available space and can work with you. If they don’t or you don’t want to stay in the same location, see if your lease will let you sublet your space to someone else, and under what terms.  

As the business grows, the founders eventually transition to a leadership role, delegating most of the operational decisions and functions to someone else. However, growing too quickly could make you lose your focus on essential functions and take on too many tasks, delivering below-par outcomes that lead to frustration within your company and disappointment for your clients. The problem escalates when internal business systems and procedures are mishandled due to everyone being overworked. Inadequate control over budgeting, inventory management, marketing and sales programs could derail your success as a business.

Outsourcing some functions is a viable method to delegate some non-critical administrative functions. This arrangement can be transitional or permanent, depending on your needs, but it is important to scale your processes to align with your growing business. No one is an expert in everything, so this may be the phase where you bring in the best personnel you can find to help guide your company through the changes required to become a bigger and better business.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about half of startups survive the first five years while a third survive for at least 10 years. The survival trend has not changed much through the years, and businesses that are prepared to handle rapid business development and expansion are most likely to thrive.

© 2018 Attard Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be reproduced, reprinted or redistributed without written permission from Attard Communications, Inc.


Human Resources Trends for 2017

Last Updated: Feb 24, 2017
Human resources departments are facing changes and adjusting to expectations of new generations of workers. Here are the HR trends anticipated for the coming year.

With the changing political landscape and new generations of workers in the workplace, Human Resource professionals will need to stay informed about legal issues and proactively plan for trends in the field. Here are some of the upcoming trends to watch out for.

1. Millennials continue to play a big role in shaping the workplace. According to a 2015 survey by FlexJobs, the majority of millennials (85%) report that they want a flexible work schedule, which has led to more tele-commuting opportunities. Rather than a workforce of all full time employees, workplaces will include consultants, contractors, freelancers, and part time employees. Human resources professionals will need to develop plans for on boarding and training all of these workers.

2. Again, because of the influence of millennials, who desire continuous performance feedback, the standard annual performance review may be replaced by continuous feedback systems that build in coaching and suggestions from key stakeholders. HR professionals will need to create new feedback systems and provide staff with communication and training.

3. Companies are looking at providing benefits that complement work/life balance. A recent survey by SunTrust Bank found that seventy percent of working adults experience a moderate or high level of financial stress. Proactive HR professionals will include financial planning tools for workers in their corporate wellness programs.

4. Another trend is the changing look of the workplace. In a TED talk, Susan Cain stated that many open floor plans are “designed mostly for extroverts and their need for lots of stimulation”. Companies may want to create new workplace designs that give employees the ability to choose a workspace that fit their needs. HR can play a role in creating these new work environments.

5. Outsourcing human resources functions has been popular over the last few years and will continue as a trend to save time and money. Internal human resources professionals will be focused on running HR as a service organization, measuring employee engagement, and continuing to embrace the use of HR technology for recruiting, on boarding, wellness, etc.

6. Last, in regards to the changing political landscape and employment law, many experts predict that the federal minimum wage will remain unchanged. We may see some changes from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The new EEOC head, Victoria Lipnic, voted against the EEOC’s 2015 decision that sexual orientation discrimination is gender discrimination, voted against the EEOC’s 2014 guidance concerning pregnancy discrimination that imposed greater accommodations for pregnant women and voted against the regulation that requires businesses with 100 or more workers to submit pay data by gender, race and ethnicity on their EEO-1 report. And last, Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsush, if confirmed, is predicted to be pro-business. It will be critical for HR professionals to stay informed about changing employment laws.