Training Employees in Between Summer Vacations

Summertime is usually an employee favorite for time off and vacations, either with the family or as part of a retreat all to one’s self. And if your business is the kind to offer flexible leave time, then your employees are bound to appreciate being able to tailor their season with vacations that best suit them and their schedules! But there’s always that lull that occurs when someone returns from a long trip, or even just a week away from the office; it can be a real struggle to return to the grind of a normal work day, let alone any kind of training you already had scheduled over the summer. So how can you help keep them on track if they’ve got multiple vacations planned throughout the season? Offer refreshers It might sound somewhat tedious in the abstract, but sometimes all you need is a quick jolt to your memory and you have what you need to keep learning something new. When your employee comes back from a vacation, and it’s time to dive back into training modules, give a quick refresher before you begin. This could be verbal, or you could even send a quick email for him or her to review alone. Either way, it just needs to jog your employee’s memory enough to add on the next lesson or skill training. Encourage detailed notes While we understand all too well how hard it can be to focus when a vacation is looming on the horizon, we suggest encouraging diligent note-taking during training sessions before an employee takes time off. That way, he or she knows...

How to hire and train recent college grads

It’s that time of year when students finishing up their senior year in college are creating their first professional resumes and considering what life outside the classroom might hold for them. You might think there’s too much uncertainty in hiring someone without any work experience, but these recent grads can actually be great additions to your staff. For one thing, if they obtained a degree relevant to your industry, their skillset and knowledge reflects the very latest advances in the field. But to get the most out of your hire, keep these tips in mind. Consider both hard and soft skills If you are hiring in an industry that is constantly changing, like technology or medicine, you will likely be impressed by the cutting-edge hard skills listed on the resume of a recent college graduate. But regardless of the industry, transitioning from using those skills in a classroom to implementing them in the real world is challenging. You want someone who is willing and eager to learn, change and adapt to fit the specific needs of your company. You can glean some of these soft skills during the interview by asking how they would respond to hypothetical scenarios. Implement a structured internship program First, consider bringing recent graduates onto your staff without hiring them full-time. Accepting interns is a great way to do this, but make sure your internship program is structured. Set the expectations of the internship at the outset. Define the internship’s length, hourly compensation, and weekly hours. Also create expectations for what happens when the internship is over. If the intern seems like a good fit...

Tips for hiring and training seasonal employees

If you have a management position in an industry such as tourism, hospitality, service or retail, that responds to seasonal factors, you go through a yearly seasonal hiring and training process. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you start searching for your summer hires. Use social media If your business has social media accounts—which it should—that’s a great place to post seasonal job openings. It’s safe to assume that most of your potential employees are avid social media users, and the most promising of these future hires are the ones that already follow your Instagram or like your Facebook. They already have a certain level of loyalty and understanding of your business, which makes them a good fit for your staff. You can also reach people who don’t follow your brand by posting a job advertisement. For a relatively small amount of money, like 25 to 50 dollars, you can deliver your job posting to thousands of people that you specifically target based on their demographics, interests and location. Cast a wide net A large number of seasonal employees are students who are on break from classes. But there are other demographics that make great seasonal employees, as well. Open up your hiring search to retirees seeking part-time work. These people are generally very reliable and responsible. Plus, it can be easier to retain them from season to season because you don’t have to worry about them moving away. Specify the timeframe and hours up front It’s very important to be up front with seasonal status of the available position. People tend to assume that...

How to evaluate the success of Q1

A fiscal year is split into four quarters, so we are now approaching the end of Q1. The end of a quarter is a great time to evaluate your business’s performance; to see what’s working and what’s not working. But what standards are business owners and managers using to determine the quality of Q1? Here are a things you can take stock of. Analytics Your Google analytics give you a great insight into how online users interact with your website. You can find out what sources lead them to certain pages, what pages cause them to leave the site, what times of day they’re most active on your site, and many other valuable statistics. But these numbers are only valuable to you if you know how to use that information to improve your site’s user experience. Here are a few metrics you’ll find in your analytics. Conversions rate – Your analytics will show you conversions, which means someone taking a desired action on your page. For example, if you have an eCommerce site, a conversion would be a purchase. But to measure the success of your website, you need to know your conversion rate, or the number of people who visit your site that actually become conversions. Simply divide the number of site visits by the number of conversions. If your conversion rate is low—meaning you have lots of people who visit your site but don’t convert—you could add prominent calls-to-action leading visitors to take that desired action. Bounce rate – A bounce means someone leaves your site. You can see the bounce rate for each page and if...

Productivity Hacks for Small Businesses

Create a healthy company culture Counter to outward appearances, an employee who is diligently hunched over his or her computer screen is not necessarily a productive employee. Many people accomplish more quality work throughout the day when they take breaks and prioritize their mental and physical wellbeing. As a small business owner, you can encourage this behavior by creating a company culture that emphasizes health and happiness. Stock the break room with healthy, energizing snacks or beverages. Provide your employees with standing desks and hold walking meetings outside. Create comfortable collaboration spaces throughout your office building where employees can convene to share ideas. Not sure what healthy hack to implement first? Try setting up a ping pong table in an unused office or in the corner of the break room. It’ll bring employees together, which will lead to employee bonding and, hopefully some idea generation. Use digital tools Streamline your workflow with powerful digital tools. Here are a few to get your started. Asana Asana allows you to organize tasks, projects and conversations. Users can be grouped into teams—i.e., sales, marketing, and development—and each user can see assigned project and tasks. All tasks and projects are stored in one place with clear due dates, benchmarks and assignees. If you just want to give it a try, you can download the free limited plan for 15 people. Slack Slack is a messenger service that will streamline in-office communication. At its most basic, it is an instant messenger in which employees can chat directly or in groups. You can also create communication channels organized by topic using hashtags. Slack is great...

Three ways small business owners can save money

Go paperless The cost of endless printouts can add up, so explore ways you can go paperless. Internal handouts, receipts, and other documents and communication can all be digitized. Not only do digital files cut down on paper costs, but they are easier to store and organize long-term. Rethink your marketing Having a small budget for self-promotion doesn’t necessarily mean sacrificing your marketing efforts. You just have to be smarter about how you spend your ad dollars. With new technology and communication platforms constantly emerging, there are plenty of opportunities to spread your message far and wide at little to no cost. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are entirely free for businesses to use. You can put a small advertising budget behind social media posts to ensure they reach a wider audience, but you can accomplish the same goal organically simply by creating high-quality content on a consistent basis. Think of your small budget as a blessing in disguise, because you can’t simply rent out a roadside billboard or produce a cheap television commercial. But you can write blog posts, speak at local events, start a podcast, or populate a company YouTube channel with videos shot on your phone. And in utilizing these free communication outlets, you’ll establish your business as a relatable, helpful industry thought leader rather than a stuffy, glossy brand. Automate when possible Time is money, so make sure you’re using your time wisely by automating tasks whenever possible. You can automate certain aspects of your digital marketing, like social media posts and emails. You can also automate parts of your customer service,...