This Memorial Day weekend and you may be looking for some fresh ideas to give your business a jump-start. Whether its hiring the right person or striking the right balance between salary and performance, let our 5 top most visited social links shed some light into how you can make your workplace a productive place for success.
Looking to hire for creativity? Research says you should look for these traits — but be warned, not all of them make someone easy to work with. Observation shows that fresh ideas come more easily to some people than to others. If you’re in the market for individuals to drive innovation at your business, learn how can you hire these naturally creative folks. Find out if these seven characteristics will lead you to your dream candidate.
Maybe you have a case of the Mondays, or today is that workshop you’ve been dreading. Perhaps your new refrigerator is being delivered … sometime between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Whatever the reason, you’re not coming into work today. When your employees heard the news, they popped their heads over their cubes, gave each other a “high five” and began grinning ear to ear. That’s because they like it better when you stay home. Find out if your employees feel this way about you.
The federal law governing workers’ wages and hours of employment is among the oldest legislation on the books. It is also perhaps the one least complied with by employers. According to National Economic Research Associates, employers spent $467 million settling wage and hour lawsuits at both the state and federal level in 2012. That’s nearly half a billion dollars on lawsuits related to wages and salaries and overtime. Is your company one of them?
If you’re an entrepreneur running a bootstrapped company, marketing may be at the top of your to-do list. Bootstrapped companies are by definition lean, so founders don’t usually spend much on formal marketing. After all, great products sell themselves, so why bother? Unfortunately, if you’re not doing much marketing, you’re missing a huge opportunity to scale your business.
Employees should not be afraid to ask for what they want. If there is one word that entrepreneur’s don’t accept it’s, “No!” Any great sales person will ask you at the end of the meeting, “So, how’d I do? Who else have you spoken with? How do I stack up? What do I need to convince you of to get an offer? What is the next step in the process?” Great sales people are trained to “ask for the order.” If you interview a sales person and they don’t ask for the order, should you be worried.
Why Hours are the New Currency in Your Service-Industry Business
And How a Multi-Location Scheduling System Keeps You From Breaking the Bank
What do your employees really want at work? It’s not bonuses, more time off or a pat on the back … they want you to give a shift. A lot more of them, actually.
Be Tron and Fight for Your Users
Author: Sean Ryan, Senior Interaction Designer at PeopleMatter
This probably both dates me and marks me as a bit of a nerd, but I like the 80s movie “Tron.” If you have not seen it, the movie is about a guy who gets transported from our world to inside the software world of a computer.
From the perspective of the real world, Tron is a security program written to block malicious programs from accessing and stealing data. Inside the computer system, Tron is personified and is a hero. Why? Because, as he puts it, he “fights for the users!”
As one of the people who designs the user experiences found in the PeopleMatter Platform, my job is to put the user first. I approach any change or new feature by asking, “How will this impact our users?” I strive to think, not about how I would use our website, but how the user would. My personal goal is to be Tron and fight for our users as we continue to build the Platform.
In the design world, we have many tools to help us stay focused on our audience — though none of them are quite as cool as the light cycles and discs from Tron. The user experience of a website parallels the customer experience of guests in the service industry. With this in mind, it is possible for you to take some of the tools we use to keep ourselves focused on the users and turn them into tools you can use to help your team provide great experiences in the real world for your customers.
Storyboards are an excellent way to walk through how users will use our product and identify their motivations. Rather than just writing it out in words, you draw it. You start by defining the problem, then identify the solution and recap the benefits. Even drawing a simple stick figure goes a long way to help visualize a problem and solution.
Storyboards are also an excellent opportunity for training your team members. If a picture is worth a thousand words, you could easily transform your text-heavy, new-hire training manual into something visual. This has the added bonus of being easily referenced on the go.
If you are worried about having to draw things yourself, then have your team do it. Not only are your employees more likely to retain the information after drawing a storyboard, but it will help you to quickly identify potential misunderstandings long before they make their way to your customers.
Once we have a feature close to ready, it is incredibly helpful to take it and put it in front of people for them to test drive. While watching someone use one of your designs for the first time can be very humbling, it is an absolutely fantastic learning experience. One of the interesting things about usability testing is that you do not necessarily need an actual user. Someone who has not seen the feature — like a new hire — can stand in just as easily.
You can take the idea of usability testing and apply it to the service industry by putting your teams in role-playing situations. This is a great way to have both new and experienced team members work through different customer scenarios. Just like with usability testing, your team can role-play with each other, with one person standing in for the customer. This gives the added bonus of both people having the opportunity to learn from the role-play experience.
Fighting For Your Customers
Nothing is more powerful for your business than customers who walk away feeling great about the experience your team provides. To do so, you need team members who can handle both the good and the bad with confidence. The tools discussed in this post can help take great hires and turn them into great employees. Employees that will be your very own Trons — fighting for your customers.
What HR Can Learn From Amazing Retail Service!
PeopleMatter does the Harlem Shake.
Do You Need Beyoncé To Wait Your Tables?
Why Every Hire Should Be A Brand Ambassador
Author: Smiley Guy, The “Smile” Behind PeopleMatter
Connect with Smiley Guy on Twitter.
The Perfect Hamburger
Getting The Best HR Management Software On Your Grill
I am a red meat eater and my wife isn’t. So, as a good husband, that means I have learned to live with a little less red meat in my diet. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy a good hamburger. In fact, by eating fewer hamburgers, it means I have become more of a burger aficionado.
There are some key traits of the perfect hamburger.
- Quality ingredients. If you aren’t using quality ingredients, you shouldn’t be making hamburgers.
- Structure. The hamburger should be proportional to the bun — that is, once cooked, it should be one-third bun, one-third meat and one-third bun. And as you eat it, each bite should be equally composed of one-third bun, one-third meat and one-third bun to have maximum and uniform taste.
- The right condiments. I’m talking more than just mustard, relish and ketchup — in the age of the gourmet burger, the bar is set high.
By now, you’re wondering what the perfect hamburger has to do with software. Well, think about how awesome the perfect hamburger tastes. Now think about how great a squirt of ketchup tastes by itself — not very good right? How about a leaf of green lettuce? It might be good if you’re a rabbit — but you’re not a rabbit. If you’re a proud red-meat-eater like myself, the satisfaction of eating the perfect hamburger comes from the meat, the bun and the condiments working together to create the perfect party in your mouth.
You need to take the same approach with software.
Quality Programming, Structure and Functions
The purpose of software is to automate business functions. There are some software systems that perform a single business function, and others that perform multiple functions. The return on investment of a software system is derived from the number of related business functions that the software automates and the impact of those software systems to the business. You’ll notice that I’ve italicized the word “related” – that’s because there are synergies to be gained when the functions have something to do with one another – such as HR functions like recruiting and employee onboarding or operational functions like scheduling and inventory control.
Having multiple software systems is also costly in terms of your time, treasure and talent. Not only do you have to manage multiple vendors, but entering data also takes up valuable time and you run the risk of fat fingering. Fat fingering data can be costly too because, at some point down the road, you are going to use that data to make business decisions. You need to be confident that the assumptions you are basing your decisions on are right.
What’s On Your Grill?
The more related business functions you can incorporate into software — and the more that software can use one set of data and processes — the better your return.
That’s why you need an HR management platform. It’s the most efficient and delicious answer to your hiring, training and scheduling problems. Do your business a favor today and find out what the perfect HR “hamburger” looks like for your business.
*For more on how to “Beef Up Your Bottom Line,” register for our April 25 webinar at 2 p.m. EST and find out how Carl’s Jr. franchise, Star of the High Desert, saved time, money and its brand by switching from multiple systems to an all-in-one people management platform.
**Photo credit: The Cooking Lab, LLC
On Cows and Clouds
Once upon a time, in our early days here on Earth, we relied exclusively on the land to support us — providing fuel for the plants and animals we needed to survive. Then, since we are a species with fairly big brains, we quickly realized that we could use those raw materials and turn them into something shiny, new and helpful. Rocks became tools and arrowheads, cowhide became saddles and shoes. We had the “goods” to make us more efficient and effective. But, why stop there? Bam! Another new neural pathway was forged and we realized that we didn’t have to keep those pretty things all to ourselves. Instead we could make the goods shinier, bigger and better and trade them for cool stuff that other humans had made. Finally, never satisfied with status quo, we (clunk!) had a V-8 and realized we could improve on how we served or delivered those goods; once again setting us apart from the crowd and making us rock stars and superheroes.
Joseph Pine, in his book, The Experience Economy, tells this story of our economic evolution. He also points out that, in today’s economy, the Internet and “cloud computing” have catalyzed an interesting evolutionary shift: what once were goods are now sold as services. And according to Pine, this shift requires us to reach for a new level of economic value where we are not just serving our customers, but actually delivering memorable customer experiences as part of the product itself.
Think about your business for a moment and what differentiates you from your competitors. Is it price? Is it quality? Is it availability? Those are all important, but they’re also easy to copy. The experience you create for your customers, however, comes from your culture and your people. Those are hard to copy, and in an increasingly competitive marketplace — where more and more products are commoditized — it’s the only way to maintain a long-term competitive edge.
How do these insights impact your business? What role does social media play; and how are you delivering best-of-class experiences to your customers? In today’s world, it matters!
Shoot me an email at Mark.Deaton@peoplematter.com and give me your thoughts.
Mark Deaton is the Senior Vice President for Customer Care at PeopleMatter.
Changes in the I-9 Atmosphere — Expect ICE Storms
Author: Ashley McManus
When it comes to I-9 verification in the service industry, meeting state and federal regulations falls somewhere between herding cats and walking a tight rope. From using the right color ink to learning the ins and outs of a new I-9 form (download the 2013 I-9 form released on March 8 by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services), compliance can become a paperwork nightmare.
The service industry relies on younger workers and immigrant employees — and operates with a primary hourly workforce. The high turnover and rapid hiring practices common in restaurants, convenience stores and retail business make them easy targets for the United States Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
In the last five years audits have increased 1,100 percent. More importantly, the businesses being targeted are changing. According to Claire Xidis Torres, immigration attorney at Torres Law Firm, 50 percent of audits in the second half 2009 were businesses that employ less than 25 people. Smaller service industry businesses are increasingly at risk of being audited. And the repercussions for noncompliance are severe.*
Unlike at the end of the Bush administration, ICE is no longer just deporting non-compliant employees. Of the people criminally arrested in 2012, 240 were restaurant owners, managers or HR leaders. Now, anyone proven to have knowledge of illegal hiring practices can face criminal charges. “Having knowledge” can be as simple as not responding to a letter requesting information from immigration services. It’s critical that the people involved in hiring understand I-9 verification and follow compliance guidelines.
Top 5 Ways You Can Avoid I-9 Fines, Penalties and Brand Damage*
PeopleMatter recently hosted a webinar on best practices in employee verification. In the webinar, Torres joined Anna Turner, PeopleMatter Product Owner, to give the top five ways to avoid I-9 non-compliance. The list covers the importance of being aware of I-9 instructions as well as how to avoid getting “ICE’d.”
The top five I-9 tips are:
1. Assume your business will be an ICE target
2. Train your HR staff
3. Good record keeping (and destroying)
4. Maintain a state of audit readiness
5. Don’t wait until ICE is knocking at your door
(For an in-depth breakdown, listen to the recording of our I-9 compliance webinar.)
Service-industry operators and HR professionals need to be aware of the changes to the Employment Eligibility Verification Form (I-9). Businesses managing HR processes with paper practices should already be using the 2013 I-9 form. Companies that are using software programs have until May 7 to make the change.
It’s important to keep up-to-date on HR practices. If a business is using paper practices, they should be training every person involved in hiring each year. An easier way to ensure accurate, compliant hiring is to invest in hiring software. HR software can keep businesses compliant, with features like automatic I-9 form completion, task reminders, continual updates and step-by-step I-9 instructions. The prescribed workflows in most programs guarantee that HR managers correctly complete each step in compliant hiring. See an example of PeopleMatter’s prescribed workflow below.
When it comes to managing the I-9 process, the best way to avoid “ICE-y” weather is to be proactive. Train your team, use all the tools that are available to you and handle the process in the most efficient manner for your business. Don’t get caught in the storm.
* To hear more from immigration attorney Claire Xidis Torres, listen to PeopleMatter’s webinar, Top 5 Ways You Can Avoid I-9 Fines, Penalties and Brand Damage.