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...

Four unexpected ways employee training can benefit your company

When you consider reasons to have a well-documented employee training program in place, your mind might jump to the legal ramifications of being unable to prove your workforce is properly trained should a governing body like OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) stop by for an unannounced inspection. But are many other benefits to implementing a robust employee training plan using innovative tracking software like Conductor Orchestrating Training. Internal communication Good internal communication is key to a business running smoothly. One way you can encourage that in your company is to ensure all your employees are trained to the same standards. Employees generally arrive at your company from a wide range of backgrounds, which can hinder collaboration. Including extensive training as part of your onboarding process ensures all your employees use the same methods, best practices and terminology, so they can better communicate with one another. Employee retention Internal communication is just one factor that contributes to a high company moral, and a positive moral and supportive culture leads to better employee retention. Employees are more likely to stay with your company if they enjoy their time in the office and respect their colleagues. But furthermore, employees are less likely to leave if they know that you’ve invested in them. Giving them the opportunity to enroll in job-related training to help them advance increases their loyalty to your company. Safety If your company deals with chemicals, harmful substances or heavy equipment, it is critical that your employees are trained to a certain standard. Having documented training can not only reduce workplace accidents, but it can save your company from...

How to get your employees to buy into training

As a business owner or manager, you’ve probably thoroughly explored the benefits of training your employees with the most advanced software for training employees and tracking that training. But implementing an employee training program that’s sustainable and successful requires that your employees also see the benefits of the training. And that’s up to you. So here are a few ways you can get buy-in from your employees. First impressions are everything Anytime you implement a new program in your office, the way you introduce it plays a critical role in its long-term success. Rather than dropping by individual offices and casually bringing up the topic in the breakroom, make sure all employees are told about the new program at the same time in a formal setting. That reinforces the importance of the implementation and ensures no one feels left out of the initiative. Call a company meeting and make sure everyone can attend. Prepare what you’re going to say so you can pitch the news with deliberate phrasing to strike the proper tone. Make sure you emphasize that the purpose of this new program is to help employees’ jobs easier, not challenge them by putting extra tasks on their plate. Provide just the right amount of details Make sure you are clear when providing your employees information that this program will benefit not only them, but the company at large. Give them the big picture first and then address the details. Tell them when the program will start to take effect and any other significant dates related to the implementation. Leave something behind Everyone processes news, like changes in...

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,...

Six New Year’s Resolutions for your Small Business

Just as your resolution to eat more green veggies can lead to a healthier body, resolutions to improve your company’s practices can lead to a more successful business. Keeping these business resolutions through the year, in spite of the major tests to your willpower that you’re bound to experience, will not only inspire success, but it will lessen the blow when you inevitably fall off the kale and broccoli wagon. Develop company culture Company culture is your business’s personality, and is defined by the environment in which your employees work and the ethics and goals that your business represents. Culture is key to recruiting and retaining talented, motivated employees, but it is also a quality that must be actively nurtured and developed by you and other members of management. You can create company culture by encouraging inclusiveness, kindness and enthusiasm. Lead by example in promoting company ethics and attitude. Define a mission that your employees can align themselves with, so that they’re not just punching the clock but working towards a larger goal. Set goals Use that company mission to set some specific short- and long-term goals. Use the acronym SMART to guide your goal-making. SMART goals are specific (clearly defined), measurable (milestones have been identified), attainable (realistic and manageable), relevant (aligned with your business model and mission), and time-based (given a hard deadline). Define best practices First, make sure you’ve outlined the processes and methods that your employees should use to help your company succeed. Then, make sure every person affiliated with your business knows and utilizes these best practices. For specific tasks, outline a clear order of...

Improve your employee training by following adult learning principles

What do you take into consideration when designing your employee training plan? You probably analyze the needs of the company and the specific position first. However, to ensure your employees get the most out of their training, you must also build a program that aligns with principles of adult learning. Applying these principles, known as Adult Learning Theory, will greatly improve the effectiveness of your employee training curriculum. The differences in how adults learn versus how children learn have been extensively studied. Malcolm Knowles’s Theory of Andragogy outlines the way in which adult curricula should be designed, centering around five adult learning assumptions. Self-concept When possible, adults should be encouraged to direct their own learning, because they are at a mature development stage. Past learning experience Adults have decades of experience on which their new knowledge can build. Readiness to learn Adults are more likely to view learning as an opportunity rather than a chore, because they’ve experienced the value of knowledge in their careers and daily lives. Practical reason to learn Adult learning should be goal-oriented because adults return to learning for specific reasons, such as gaining skills to progress their careers. Internally motivated While children are driven by external motivations such as punishment or reward, adults are driven by an internal desire to gain knowledge. Based on these assumptions, Knowles states that adult curricula should be designed following these principles: Because they are self-directed and self-motivated, adults should be given some say in the process and content of their education. Adult curricula should take into account past experiences, and build on that prior knowledge. Curricula should focus...

Debunking three myths about HR managers

HR are the Office Enforcers Yes, it’s the job of the human resources manager to police many aspects of the office, but that doesn’t mean they spend their workdays lurking in the shadows of your cubicle, waiting to catch you in the act of rule-breaking, or actively searching for disputes to regulate. It’s more accurate to compare their regulating role to that of a sports referee, whose job is to step in only when needed to ensure the game continues to run smoothly. Enforcing office policies is a small part of an HR manager’s role, anyway, and they’re often very busy with the other facets of their position. HR can help you negotiate your pay While your human resources department often plays a part in payroll, promotions, hiring and firing, the individuals working in HR don’t exist to help you negotiate these touchy subjects. Don’t discuss how much of a raise you seek or how generous of a severance package you deserve. Of course, they’re constantly working to ensure these issues are handled fairly, but they can’t share and freely discuss these details with individual employees. Human resources just hires and fires Human Resources does have a role in choosing new hires and letting employees go, but they also fulfill many other duties that keep the company running smoothly. They help interview potential employees, handle payroll, make sure all state and federal employment guidelines are being met, and meet with managers to find out employee needs. It’s also their job to design and manage employee training. This is a crucial part of their job because if an overseeing organization,...