There are plenty of signs that your startup is becoming a genuine success. Some people base it on their presence on social media, others use cold hard cash to measure their success, but there’s one thing that everyone agrees on as a sign of a business on the up and up: the moment you have to move to a new office. Many startups begin their lives being run out of someone’s living room and that’s just fine. When it’s you and a few friends setting up a business, then you really don’t need much more than a laptop and a dream. But over time the needs of your business are going to grow, and you suddenly find that it’s just not realistic to try to do everything from home anymore. Your staffing needs will increase; you’ll need greater levels of infrastructure, not to mention that it lends a far greater sense of legitimacy to your business in the eyes of the rest of the world. With all of that in mind, here are a few ways to make sure that your office space is absolutely perfect for your needs.
Think About Space
The kind of office that you choose for your business is going to be pretty strongly influenced by the kind of business that you actually run. What kind of atmosphere are you trying to create? What are the specific needs of your employees? These kinds of questions are crucial when you’re trying to figure out what it is that you need from your office space. If your business is based around creativity and communication then it’s important that there aren’t too many things separating members of your team. If you need specific pieces of technology throughout the office then you need to make sure that you’re using the space properly to prevent any mobility, or health and safety, problems.
What Changes Do You Need To Make?
Not every office space is going to be there, fully formed, ready for you the moment you find it. A lot of the time it’s your job when looking for the right office to see the potential in places that might require a little bit of work. Are there walls that you want to get rid of to make it into a more open plan environment? Do you need a company like TC Floors West to level the floors so that it’s actually a safe and comfortable place to work? Remember that time and money are always going to be a factor so it’s important to weigh the needs of your office with both the time frame that you’re working with and the condition of your finances.
Location, Location, Location
Depending on the business that you’re running, the kind of location that you’re in is going to make a lot of difference. If your office is the kind of place that’s going to get a lot of clients and customers coming in and out, then you want it to be somewhere easily accessible. If you need a warehouse or other large area then it’s not going to be a great idea for it to be located in a busy, populated area. Remember, just because the office seems perfect doesn’t mean that it is. Make sure that you weigh all of the pros and cons before making any decisions.
02.17.17 | Employee Needs Beyond The Paycheck
It can be hard to gauge the needs of a person. Sometimes that person themselves won’t know what they need. We see this all the time in employees who use their leverage to negotiate only benefits that have some kind of financial perk to them. But the truth is that employees need more than money from you. Here are a few things that everyone needs even if they don’t realize it at the time.
Everyone needs the space and flexibility to do things their way. This doesn’t just mean offering flexible working times, locations, and devices. It also means allowing for a bit more autonomy in how someone does their job. You want to find the most efficient methods, but their ideas on that end might prove more well-informed than yours since they’re the ones actually doing the work. Even if they like their job, limiting them too much can be a real cause of stress because they feel like they’re being constrained by the role. Allowing employees a degree of self-control can really improve morale and can surprise you with the positive impact on productivity and the results of their work. That doesn’t mean you have to get completely hands-off with them. You should be there to offer your take on things when they need it.
Respect comes in many forms in the workplace. It isn’t just about saying your “pleases” and “thank yous”. It means allowing them to take responsibility for their goofs and taking responsibility of yours. It includes allowing that degree of autonomy. It also means implementing a few employee appreciation ideas to show that you know the role they’re performing is important and the results they provide matter. Without respect, people don’t really feel like they have a role to play in the business. Instead, they will just feel like a cog in the machine. That feeling will hurt morale, it will cause them to care less, making them less productive and it will see engagement in the business drop to all-new lows.
Seeing their results affect real change in a company is always going to be rewarding for employees. But you can’t expect them to work for you for years with only the business’ best interests in mind. They have futures they want to contribute to and by helping them do so, you can show that you consider the relationship with them important. Training employees and giving them the opportunities to learn new skills and responsibilities won’t just keep them focused on exploring their potential for themselves and the business. Failing to train them is risky, watching their skills stagnate to the point that they become a liability to the business more than anything else.
By anticipating the needs of your team and offering it to them, you show that you are more than the source of a paycheck. You are a person and you are invested in them as people. Showing that is by far the quickest way to win the loyalty and best possible efforts of your team.
If you’re a small business, from time to time you might find yourself in a position where, all of a sudden, you could lose a significant percentage of your workforce. In a team of four or five, say – one person could quit, one has travel plans arranged well in advance, and the other gets ill. Out of nowhere, you’re running at way below full capacity, and there’s no guarantee that things will pick up anytime soon. It’s a scary time, but remember; it’s much better than downsizing because you have to. And you’ll get through it just fine, if you take our advice.
Bring in the Experts
In a small team, every person’s expertise is highly valued. The person who is good with numbers becomes the de facto accountant; the person with a gift for the gab becomes the communications expert and/or receptionist, and so on. As such, losing a couple of members of staff can make it so that you’re severely lacking in a few key areas. These areas are too important to ignore, and you’ll need to outsource the work to make sure they’re taken care of. A service such as Receivr can make sure people can always get through; and will stop you from spreading yourself too thin. Bringing in an accountancy firm or financial advisors will make sure that the crucial details aren’t overlooked until your team is back in one piece.
Keep Things Steady
If your business has been going well and you’ve been seeing steady growth, then it might be frustrating to have to curb your progress through no fault of the company, but it’ll be an essential move until the ship is steadied. By taking on extra business and acting as if everything is fine, you’ll be pushing yourself too much, to the limit, and you risk burning out unnecessarily. There’s always time to grow bigger later on down the line, but if you get too big and are unable to offer the level of service you know you can provide, and then you’ll be doing your business more harm than good – even if profits are temporarily improved.
Part Time Staff
If you’re struggling with the admin side of your business while you’re understaffed, then look into bringing a couple of new faces on a part-time basis. Depending on how desperate your situation is, it might be worth contacting a temporary staffing agency to get people in quickly for a couple of weeks. Otherwise, asking friends or family members if they – or anyone they know – would like part time work is an option.
Be Prepared to Work Hard
…Not that you don’t already work hard, but this might be one of those times where you just have to suck it up and put in the long hours. It’ll feel like your work/life balance is heavily tipped on one side, but this is the nature of running your own business. In a few weeks, when things are back to normal, you’ll be able to look back with pride at your hard work.
With the recent turn of events in politics you may have noticed a lot of the world is talking about business, women, equal rights and promoting our traders and supporting start-ups. Whilst there are many negatives in this situation there are some really interesting positives. We don’t know where the future is heading, so it’s more important than ever we knuckle down and make sure our ships aren’t sinkable.
One of the most important areas of your business, outside of profit and loss, is the performance of your staff. From management right through to the shop floor, you need to be able to count on your team to be in top form. However, a good boss knows that you need to start at the top and nurture your way to the roots.
Taking notes from the recent news reports you may be able to highlight some areas within your own company that could be working against you. Take for example the recent gender pay gap report and the resulting Women’s marches across the globe. Do you feel that your business could be guilty of this? If so, you can do something about it. This will ensure that all members of your team, male or female, respect you for supporting the bridge building between the genders, when it comes to pay and value of ability.
When your staff are happy and feel supported, they will put far more back into your business. If you notice that productivity has increased, reward them. A nice way of doing this is by incentivizing things. Either through an Employee of the Month plan or by sending flowers, wine or gifts to staff members who have really stood out.
We all know the pressures put on families today and whilst there are enforced rules on maternity leave or empathic release, you don’t have to stick to the basic minimum. In fact you will receive far more respect from your staff if you go a little beyond what you have to. Build an environment where your key employees feel they can talk to you about anything. Have an ‘open door’ policy and be on hand as often as you can for a chat. It could be that one of your stronger marketing team execs is struggling at home and not able to see their children so much. Could you make some changes to allow them to work from home one or two days a week? Strong staff won’t sit on their laurels. They will often work harder to show you they are grateful for the support. So think outside the box.
Give regular pay reviews and take time to sit face to face with your employees, don’t wait for them to feel so bad about something until they build up the confidence to come to you. Just be clear and concise about what you can and cannot do, but ensure they know you are listening and proactive when it comes to their needs.
Look after your staff, they will look after you.
There a few reasons why ensuring your employees are happy and productive should be your highest priority, ranging from the turbulent economic and political landscape we face to the fact the majority of the workforce is now made up of millennials. So, yeah, the happier your employees are, the more productive they’ll be and the more successful your business will turn out. Sounds simple, right? Wrong.
Keeping your employees happy and content can be quite the challenge, and that is because happiness tends to come from within. Of course, external factors can contribute big time, but it comes from within. That is why you need to understand your employees and make sure you are doing all you can to make sure you as a boss, and your company as an office is doing all it can to boost morale and happiness.
Read on to see how you can achieve happy and productive workforce:
Make Employees Feel Valued
Employees, especially millennial employees, want to feel valued by you as their employer and the company they work for. This means being encouraging, empathetic and constructive. It could be as simple as praising someone for their work, explaining where there is room for improvement or teaching them how to be better at their job. No employee is perfect, and all of them will make mistakes at some point, which is why it is important you learn how to encourage and not punish. People want to improve, and they will beat themselves up when they make a mistake, so don’t add to that. They will only end up resenting you. If you can help them learn from their mistakes, though, you’ll be celebrated and that will in turn boost morale.
Create a Comfortable Atmosphere
The best way to do this is by encouraging an open communication policy. The worst cultures always breed from the ones that don’t embody good communications. Of course, this starts at the top. So communicate changes well, praise people publicly, talk to your employees and ask for their opinions. But don’t stop there. Why not hold team bonding exercises every month to let your employees get to know each other in a non-corporate environment. The other important thing to remember is the little things. They may not be things that clients or customers notice in a fleeting visit, but your employees will notice if the air con isn’t working, or the chairs aren’t ergonomic or if the server is slow. All of these little things will get under their skin. So commit to a commercial HVAC service, invest in comfortable chairs and make sure your server is up to scratch. All of these little things will make a big difference.
Think Like Google
We’re not saying that you have the capacity to house 11 cafeterias all of which offer free food, nor are we saying you can afford to allocate 20% of your staff’s time to personal projects, but you can make little changes. Have a social area where they can escape to every so often, even if it is just to think and stop staring at a screen. Let them have their birthday off. Why not take on flexible hours, or let them work from home twice a week. It could be that you chuck a few bean bags into a room and have the walls painted to create a room dedicated to getting creative juices flowing. All of these will boost morale, happiness and productivity.
There can be many reasons for your business’s rough patch. All businesses experience this at some point. If you have looked at most aspects of your business and still can’t quite put your finger on the problem, you might need to look at your team. Your team of employees is the engine of the business. And if the engine is stalling, then changes need to be made.
It’s not always easy to make big changes to your team, but you need to make the effort to do so if you think this is where your company’s problems lie. Here are some ways in which you can shake up your team and get back on track.
Assess the Size of Your Team Relative to the Size of the Business
You should start by assessing the size of your company and comparing it to the size of your team. It will be no surprise that your team is underperforming if it simply isn’t big enough to take care of all of the things that need to be taken care of. You should look to expand your team and provide more support to your existing employees. You don’t want to put them under too much pressure because eventually they will buckle under the strain. The size of your team should always directly correspond to the size of the business and how much work you expect them to do.
Highlight Any Areas of Weakness
Every business has some areas in which it is weak. This is the case for all business, big and small. The trick is always to highlight the main areas of weakness and find ways in which these areas can be improved. It might mean offering new training course opportunities to people. This can help to plug the gaps that are currently present in your team. In some cases, it will probably be quicker and easier to simply add new talent to the team who can do the things that you want to be done. But don’t just let those areas of weakness persist.
Do Some Hiring and Firing
Next comes the hiring and firing stage of the process. Now that you know where and how the business is weak, you should have a clear idea of the kind of people you want to hire. When posting advertisements for job roles, make sure you are very clear about what you’re looking for. You should also be clear about the level of experience applicants will need to have. That way, you should only get applications from suitable candidates. Lawyers like Ellis Whittam can help you if you need to fire employees who are not turning up and performing how they should be.
Work Hard to Integrate New Employees
When you have a raft of new employees in the office, you will need to work very hard to integrate them into your setup. This is something that anyone can do if they have the right aims and skills in the arena of man management. Show them the ropes and introduce them to the role gradually. You don’t want to throw them in at the deep end. If you do that, they could flounder and experience all kinds of problems. Work hard and make sure that they are given all the support they need in order to hit the ground running.
Find New Motivations Methods
There are plenty of ways to motivate your team when you run a business. Sometimes, all you need is a bit more motivation to improve your team and their performance. There are so many great ways to keep people on track and working at the correct rate. You can offer perks and rewards for good work. You should also try to make yourself a better leader. Strong leadership can help to push people in the right direction, so don’t underestimate how important this could turn out to be for your business.
Provide Employees with the Tools They Need to Succeed
If you want your employees to find success and do well for the business, you will have to make sure that they are provided with the right tools to do the job. You can’t expect them to do well if you don’t give them the technology and basic equipment that they need. As the owner of the business, it’s up to you to make sure that you buy these things and give them to your employees to use. So, stay up to date and make sure that the technology in your office is the best.
Having the right people on board and embedded in your company is vital for successful growth. And there is plenty of evidence that suggests you should put people into positions specifically for growing your business. But what areas should you be looking at, and what sort of individuals will be able to benefit your business during significant periods of change? We’re going to take a look at everything you need to think about, so read on to find out more on the basics of staffing for growth.
Attract the Talent
To attract top talent, you have to have a lot to offer. Putting a ‘We’re Hiring’ sign on the front of your premises isn’t going to cut it. If you want to experience successful growth, you need the right people walking through the door, so consider rethinking your recruitment and hiring strategies if you aren’t finding the right talent. There are some simple ideas which can help – try creating job advertisements that attract people rather than regurgitating the same old dull descriptions. Talk about your company culture, as well as the job role, which will help people imagine they are working for your business.
Invest In Project Management
Growth is a project, and as such, needs its own type of management. It makes sense, then, to hire a project manager to be in charge of everything from your timelines to ensuring everything is going according to plan. The ideal project manager will be an excellent communicator, who can instruct employees and report back to stakeholders with equal ease. They also need to be active decision makers, to ensure that progress isn’t held back by minor problems or superfluous issues that prevent the overall goals being achieved.
A successful growth strategy will rely heavily on marketing, and it can be difficult to control and guide a marketing team if you aren’t evaluating and measuring the right data. The solution? Hire a marketing analyst. This employee will be able to analyze your marketing data and ensure your growth strategy is laser focused on the right demographic and people. They will also be able to spot potential growth areas that you have not considered, as well as testing and optimizing your campaigns to ensure their effectiveness.
One thing every business looking to grow should be doing beforehand is getting a grip on their costs. It is essential to look at all areas of your spending and supply chain to ensure you aren’t overspending, which has a significant impact on your cost of sale. And this is a problem because when you scale up, you won’t be doing so in an efficient manner – and your expenses could escalate even further. So, seek out employees who can help with logistics, procurement, and supply chain matters in your business. You can find them at a supply chain or a procurement agency, or hire in independents to help you through the process. Don’t forget, if you can control your costs, you’ll improve your bottom line by a significant amount and will be in a much better place to grow your business.
As you hire more people, the landscape changes a lot when you are an employer. While a few employees are simple enough to manage, more than a handful can start to get complicated, and dealing with employees becomes a job in itself. Given that, as the business owner, your focus should be on dealing with the many changes that growth can bring, it’s vital that you get help. And the solution for many business owners will lie in investment in a human resources department. Having an HR specialist there to step in and control your employee responsibilities can be a great help, and it also covers your back in ensuring you are compliant with employer’s regulations.
Finally, growth will put a lot of pressure on your IT systems and processes. It is advisable to get help from a technical specialist who can help you ensure your company can scale smoothly, and avoids many of the technology issues that can arise, whether it’s servers, databases, or system networks. Don’t underestimate the pain that a poorly scaling IT system can have on your business as it grows. Capacity speed and security issues can all cause serious problems for your company. Customers will be unhappy, data could be stolen, and any IT system failure will cost you sales – and possibly your reputation.
Hope this helps highlight some of the key hiring challenges you will face when you start growing a business. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
Of course, stress in the workplace is completely normal. It is part and parcel of most jobs. There are pressing deadlines to meet, non-empathetic clients and customers to please, shareholders and investors that want to see a fast return on their investment and sometimes long hours to work. However, stress in the workplace can have some seriously negative effects on a company’s performance as a whole. It can reduce the productivity and quality. But worse than that, it can start taking a real toll on people’s physical, mental and emotional health. An overload of stress can be the thin line between success and failure, and that is why it is so imperative that you ensure stress levels are managed and kept to a minimum.
As such, we have compiled a few ways for you to help reduce any stress amongst your employees and ensure that morale and productivity remain at a high level.
Be the Example
The best way an employer can reduce stress amongst their employees is to lead by example. That means keeping an upbeat attitude, not letting the stresses of your role show, not venting any anger, coming up with solutions wherever there is a problem and practicing what it is you tend to preach. It could also be that you start shaking up your methods a bit. So if you tended to hold meetings in your office, why not hold that same chat while on a walk. Organize some team-bonding activities; let your staff know it is okay – and good – to take a break or a holiday every so often.
One of the most successful qualities in a good leader is their ability to communicate. Tell them about business changes, or changes within your business. Let them know where they are excelling and where a little bit more effort could help them achieve greater things. Be constructive and be open. Employees that are left to ponder their own thoughts about their progress often feel the effects of increased stress. What’s more, if you start communicating with your staff better they will in turn start communicating with you better too.
Reduce Their Workload
Every so often, your company may be required to upscale at short notice, so make sure you have the ability to upscale effectively. This doesn’t mean expecting your employees to dig deep and deliver more. It means having a working relationship with certain staffing agencies that will allow you to outsource some tasks and bring on additional bodies to help manage the increased workload. This will in turn boost morale. It will also see your full-time staff produce better work as a result of seeing new faces and thus more competition.
Allocate a Space
It’s the Google effect, but it is also part of the rise of millennial workers. Every so often, people may need to grab ten minutes, to switch off from their work and come back at it with a renewed energy, a new focus, a new angle in mind. They stare at screens all day every day and so they will need somewhere to escape that for a second. Allow them it and you’ll see stress levels quickly drop.
Businesses rely on their staff to be productive, creative and reliable, and so it may seem strange, initially at least, to encourage employees to spend time away from their desks. What if the telephone rings, what if there’s a client emergency, what if disaster is waiting to strike at any minute? Taking this approach, however, means your business is focusing only on risk, rather than opportunity.
What’s more, if an urgent request does come in, there’s no reason why your staff cannot respond to it just as effectively away from the office as they would sitting at their desks. Cloud computing and digital communication tools are enabling greater flexibility than ever before and business protocols are starting to reflect this.
Image source: Pexels
Employees Are Demanding It
One of the reasons why businesses should allow their staff to spend more time away from their desks is to match up with current working trends. Almost one in seven people now work from home, with employees demanding a better work-life balance.
Although many of those that are working remotely are doing so because they are self-employed, many others will work full-time but are not required to be in the office every day. If there are no internal or external meetings to attend then commuting to and from work adds up to a lot of wasted hours. Instead, a decent internet connection means that staff can remain contactable wherever they choose to work.
Communication Has Come a Long Way
Communication is more advanced than ever, which means that employees are often able to do their job just as effectively when they are away from the office. Cloud computing enables staff to access business tools remotely, making use of bespoke software from any device they choose.
Similarly, your employees can remain contactable even when miles from their office telephone. Hosted PBX Solutions enable staff to be connected to the office phone system even when using their mobile or home telephones. Automated call redirects also ensure that even if a member of staff is busy, your clients and customers are never neglected.
For Health Reasons
As a responsible business, it is important that you take good care of your employees’ well being. As such, reports that sitting for long periods could increase the likelihood of diabetes, cancer and other conditions should raise some concern.
Members of staff should ideally spend between two and four hours standing up during work, meaning that employers should give them plenty of opportunity to get away from their desks. This could include the adoption of headsets that let staff walk around the office or hosting meetings off-site.
To Boost Productivity
Spending hour after hour sitting down staring at the screen is not good for productivity or creative thinking. It’s easy to get into a rut when things start to seem monotonous, which is exactly when a change of scenery is required. Letting your staff leave their desk to go for a walk, host an internal meeting in a nearby park or just clear their head is vital. It may, ultimately, give them the freedom to think of your company’s next big idea.
02.13.17 | The Secrets To A Stress-Free Office
Offices are becoming increasingly common workplaces for people around the world. As businesses become digital, there’s no longer a need for a store front. But, there’s still need for staff. Offices are great. They provide a professional atmosphere while also making it easier to get work done. But, they come with their own set of issues. Chief among these can be stress levels of your staff if you don’t put the right work in. So, to help you out, this post is going to take you through some ways that you can de-stress your office.
Research has shown that humans can use their brain more effectively if it’s given enough time to relax. It’s recommended that people work for no more than around an hour before they can have a break. So, it’s worth giving your staff the chance to have a 5-minute breather every hour or so. If your business is intense, it could even be worth giving your staff breaks even more often. A lot of people will think that this is a waste of time. But, the performance benefits that it can bring can be astounding. And, your staff doesn’t need to have proper breaks. Just a chance to check their social media or browse the news can be enough. It can get frustrating working on the same thing for a long time. But, having a short break is usually enough to help with this.
Offices are usually filled with computers. And, of course, computers aren’t always the easiest machines to tame. When something goes wrong, and nobody can fix it, business can get very stressful. One way to help this issue is by having some spare computers for people to use. This will ensure that people can get back to work right away. Along with this, you will also need a way to repair the problem machine. For this, you need a reliable IT support company by your side. These companies can help you to avoid having to hire a staff member to do the job. They will be able to come and help you directly or over the phone, depending on the issue. And, these companies can even help you setup your networking.
Some people prefer to work at different times. So, if your business allows for it, it can be worth giving your staff flexible hours. A lot of governments run this sort of system for their staff. And, it’s proven that it can make certain staff members much happier. This sort of system is usually known as flexi-time. And, it’s easy to implement. You just need to figure out a bracket for your business hours. For example, between 9AM and 8PM, and staff have to do at least 8 hours a day. This gives your staff an 11-hour window to do 8 hours work.
Hopefully, this will help you to take the stress out of your office. When an element like stress is introduced to this sort of environment, it can only spell trouble. So, it’s worth making sure that you’re doing everything you can to avoid the issue.
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