5 Ways to Prevent Employee Burnout

Employee burnout is visible in numerous ways in all levels of your workplace hierarchy. It is most commonly associated with fatigued workers who work overtime regularly and who rarely take a day off. However, it can also be expressed in general job dissatisfaction, intense levels of stress, anger, cynicism or other negative emotions. Some workers may struggle with the inability to cope with seemingly minor stressors or inconveniences. As an employer, the impact of burnout can be felt throughout your operations. Burnout can result in decreased productivity and efficiency, a lower customer satisfaction rating, a declining employee retention rate and other consequences that you understandably want to avoid.

Understanding the Causes of Employee Burnout

Before you can determine the best ways to prevent employee burnout in your company, you need to understand its many causes. Long hours and long to-do lists are only some of several common causes. In many cases, multiple causes contribute to a serious issue rather than only one factor. For example, workers may also feel burnt out and overworked when they have too many responsibilities or when they lack the support and resources necessary to complete their tasks efficiently. Managerial oversight, conflicts with coworkers and other sources of stress may also contribute to burnout.

Effective Ways to Prevent Burnout in Your Workplace

Now that you understand what some of the many causes of employee burnout are, you can take smart steps to reduce its impact on your workforce. These are some of the more effective ways to prevent employee burnout in your workplace:

1. Assign a Realistic Workload

Managers are responsible for assigning a reasonable volume of work to each employee. Some managers see hardworking employees as workhorses who can handle more tasks than others. However, these individuals may work so hard or for longer hours than necessary because they feel intense stress and pressure to get their tasks completed. This stress is combined with an ever-expanding to-do list. Regardless of how efficient your employees seem to be, all employees should be assigned a realistic workload and should be able to complete their tasks within a reasonable number of hours each week.

2. Promote an Effective Work-Life Balance

Some employees may feel burnt out when they work too much and seemingly have minimal time to enjoy life on their own terms or to spend with family and friends. All employees should have ample time away from the office to exercise, to relax, to get an adequate amount of sleep at night, to tackle personal responsibilities and to maintain healthy relationships with friends and family. To promote an effective work-life balance in your team, consider allowing telecommuting periodically. Allow your team to use their paid time off on their own terms and without guilt. Consider offering additional paid time off beyond what is considered to be standard as a perk.

3. Encourage Employees to Disconnect Regularly

Today’s workers are increasingly connected to work activities wherever they go. They may immediately feel stress related to work activities as soon as they wake up and look at their phone. Emails, text messages and more may require attention throughout most waking hours. Their commute to and from work, their lunch hour and their evenings may also be impacted by their connectedness. Essentially, they are always on-duty even during their time away from the office. While you understandably want to maximize the benefits of technology in the workplace, encourage your team to turn off their devices at reasonable hours and on their days off. Work tasks can usually wait until normal business hours.

4. Invest in Efficiency-Based Technology

Workers may easily feel overwhelmed by their to-do list when each task is a struggle to complete. Numerous technological innovations are available that can bolster efficiency and help your team members to be more effective in their positions. These innovations are related to communication, project management, collaboration and more. Talk to your team about aspects of their positions that they struggle with. Then, explore available technology that may improve their work lives dramatically. Because technology continues to be improved, walk through this important step periodically for ongoing benefits.

5. Incorporate Relevant Perks and Benefits

Adding strategic perks and benefits may also improve your workplace in substantial ways. There is a cost associated with some of these perks, but you may discover that the expense is recouped in meaningful ways. For example, you can bring in a massage therapist to give chair massages to your team one day each month. You may host a potluck lunch to break up the monotony of the workday. Create an employee-of-the-month system that gives one person a prime parking space each month. This provides your team with recognition for their hard work and contributions. Perks and benefits can each have different impacts on your team, so a smart idea is to create a full list of combined benefits. These may transform your workplace culture with incredible results.

If your team is feeling burnt out, there is a good chance that you are as well. It can be challenging to find time in your busy work schedule to focus on improving the lives of your team, but this is an essential step that requires ample attention. After all, everything from productivity to turnover, customer satisfaction and more are at stake. Consider taking small, steady steps toward improving your work environment in these and other effective ways. Your employees and your business will benefit from the effort.

Joe Peters is a Baltimore-based freelance writer and an ultimate tech enthusiast. When he is not working his magic as a marketing consultant, this incurable tech junkie enjoys reading about the latest apps and gadgets and binge-watching his favorite TV shows. You can reach him @bmorepeters

The Reality of Hiring a Consultant for Your Small Business

As a small business owner, you probably like to be involved with every aspect of your business, from the mundane to the most critical tasks. Hiring employees is one step to getting help for your business, but there may be some problems outside your and your employees’ knowledgeable scope.

Perhaps you need the help of more specific professionals — which is the void a consultant can handily fill. Still, you find yourself wondering if you really need a consultant, and if paying them would be worth the knowledge and skills they bring to the table. As a small business owner, you have to learn when to ask for — and find — cost-effective help.

Do You Really Need a Consultant?

Consultants come in a variety of flavors with different niche skill sets to potentially suit your needs. Trying to figure out if you need someone’s specific experience to help your business might be as easy as asking yourself a few questions.

First, make sure you’ve done all the research on the subject you could. If information was beyond your grasp or unavailable, reaching out for paid help might be the way to go. Second, focus on the job you want them to bring to your business. Is this skill something you or an employee can learn in a few days or weeks, or is this an area that takes years to master? If the funds are available, but the skill set isn’t, a consultant may be exactly what you need.

What Does a Consultant Do?

A consultant is an outside expert you hire through an agreed-upon contract to help your business. The consultant is independent of your company, so they keep to their own schedule and may have more clients than just you at one time. You might even hire a consulting team, rather than one person.

There are many different types of consultants for different jobs. Some of the most commonly used consultants work in accounting, IT, human resources and legal services, each able to bring a new and better direction for your business.

There is a general process for every consulting project. The pre-consulting phase is before the work starts, where you and the expert discuss terms and come to an agreement. The consulting period consists of discovery, research and the final presentation for your business. Lastly, the post-consulting phase is where you may choose to extend the agreement or implement your own.

Find a Consultant

Finding a consultant for your specific needs may be easier than you think. You have to know what you need from the hired expert. Searching through friends, business partners and online are sure ways to find the person you need. However, you need to make sure they fit the role. They should be fluent in data modeling, in addition to an ability to connect information from seemingly random sources, also known as dot-to-dot literacy.

An ideal consultant is someone who has experience as a coach and a fellow small business owner to relate to the process. Coaching skills are important so they can take action and get involved with your employees. You can also check their LinkedIn profile for testimonials and recommendations if you’re still in any doubt.

While looking around for a consultant, you may run into a lot of contractors and need to know the difference between the two. Both are temporary experts hired via a contract, but a consultant works outside the business, while a contractor is an internal component. Knowing the difference can keep you from hiring the wrong job title, especially if you’re in the market for a contractor instead.

Payment and Budget

Typically, your consultant is going to work with you for about three to six months, with the open option to renew the contract. The pre-consulting phase is the time where you talk to the expert you’re wanting to hire to hash out pay, time and your budget. An important bit of advice is to remember value determines price, not any pre-set rules.

However, on average, expect the price to be anywhere from $150 to $10,000 an hour, with projects ranging from $1,000 to $250,000. Here is where you have to find your budget. Once you discover how much the expert help is worth to you and how much you can afford, the rest should be easier. Figure out your sales percentages and where you need them to be, versus what you’re willing to pay the expert, and discuss your options with them personally.

What’s Best for Your Business

A consultant will be an expensive add-on to your business either way if you discover you need the help. However, the reward can easily outweigh the cost. Decide what you want the future of your business to look like, and explore all the avenues to get you there. A consultant may be expensive, and hiring one could be a process, but they could bring your business to new heights you likely hadn’t imagined before.

Bio: Nathan Sykes is the editor of Finding an Outlet, a source for the latest in IT and business news and trends.

 

Recruit The Best Staff With The Help Of Modern Technology

Companies are constantly finding new ways to attract the best talent and improve their hiring process. Here are some cutting-edge ways in which you can use modern technology to help source the best new employees for your company.

Advertise beyond online job boards

Whilst online job boards like Indeed and Monster are some of the most popular places to attract applicants, they shouldn’t be the only place that you advertise. Advertising on other platforms can increase your chances of attracting more applicants. Social media is now a big place for advertising jobs – you can run ads and promoted posts on Facebook and Twitter as well as posting news of your vacancy in community pages. You can also create web ads for search engines such as Google to help people stumble across your ad. Don’t forget to also use LinkedIn, which is great for scouting out talent.

Create online tests and surveys

You could also try creating your own tests or surveys for applicants to complete – these could be used to make a better judgement of someone’s personality or they could be used to test someone’s knowledge in the field. You can post a link to a survey in your job ad. There are many sites such as SurveyMonkey for generating these surveys.

Keep the application process organised with software

If you’re getting lots of applications coming through, it could be worth using an applicant tracking system to help stay organised. Being able to read and reply to applications in an organised manner will prevent you from overlooking a CV or failing to reply to an important question.

Consider hiring virtual employees

If your work is entirely computer-based/phone-based it could be possible for you to hire employees virtually rather than requiring these new staff members to come into the office. There are many advantages to hiring staff virtually. You can firstly cast your nett wider and employ staff members on the other side of the country, who otherwise would live too far away to commute. Hiring a virtual team could also prevent you from having to expand your office – if you currently work from home and are taking on your first staff members, it could prevent you from having to buy an office altogether. Studies have also shown virtual employees take off less sick days, are able to concentrate more and are generally happier.

Interview applicants via video-communication

Applicants don’t even need to come to your office for the interview – many employers are now conducting interviews via video-communication. This allows you to still have a face to face conversation with the applicant, whilst saving them the cost and hassle of having to travel to your office. Start considering this tool whenever you interview people.

Build Your Bottom Line with These 4 Surprising Business Strategies

When it comes to tracking your company’s growth, very few numbers are as important as the bottom line. As a business owner, you should constantly be on the lookout for new ways to increase your bottom line without sacrificing your core ideals. Here is a quick look at four proven tactics that will boost your bottom line no matter which industry you are in.

Hire a Good HR Team

According to one recent study, companies are now spending more money than ever on litigation costs. There is no surefire way to completely protect your company from all legal troubles, but hiring a good HR team could help you avoid a wide variety of issues. Your human resources team can help you come up with a comprehensive plan to avoid expensive problems such as workplace injuries and unlawful termination lawsuits. They can also gauge employee satisfaction and reduce your turnover rates.

Focus on Cheap or Affordable Marketing

Traditional advertising mediums such as television and radio spots are still effective, but smaller companies don’t always have the resources for those types of campaigns. A strong online presence will allow you to reach millions of people from around the world at a fraction of the price. At the very least, your company must have an eye-catching website and active social media accounts. Those spaces will give current and future clients multiple ways to easily contact you if necessary.

Create a Knowledge Base

If you are losing clients because of inefficient support, then you need to work on a solid knowledge base. Depending on which industry you are in, your clients might benefit from any mixture of white papers, how-to guides, and online video tutorials. Creating that content and then offering it to clients for free will also reduce the amount of time that your employees spend on customer support. Those guides and videos are especially important if you are providing a product or service that has never been seen on the market.

Build Camaraderie with Team Meals

Many business owners are surprised to hear that corporate catering can be an extremely powerful tool when used properly. Instead of sending your employees off on their own to have lunch, you might want to consider scheduling at least a few communal meals a year. In addition to potentially receiving tax deductions for those meals, you are also going to boost your staff’s efficiency and improve company culture. Offering healthy meals can reduce sick days and increase productiveness as well.

No single growth strategy is going to work for every business, and that is why you need to test out at least a few different options. As you try out these various tactics, you should carefully track their success to see which are working and which can be left behind.

Guest author Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake.

 

5 Key Areas That You Should Always Look To Outsource

In business, everyone will always have their own way of doing things. Some prefer to micromanage, others want to take a step back, and some will prefer to only keep their toes in what’s going on. And whatever works out for each business the best, is often the greatest solution for them. However, from here, there’s also the great debate of working out where you sit when it comes to the idea of hiring in-house or outsourcing. Both options come with their ups and downs, but when you look at outsourcing, it’s hard not to be impressed by the benefits. Because when you outsource a certain function or area of the business, you’re going to save yourself time and money. And the best part is that you’ve got experts working on it, so you know that it’s going to be done properly. So let’s take a look at the five key areas you should consider outsourcing.

Customer Service

First of all, you have your customer service. And this is always the first thing to think about outsourcing. But we’re not just talking about sending it off to some company that can just take it off of your hands. Instead, you need a dedicated company that is going to be able to do a much better job than you can. Because keeping your customers happy should be at the core of everything that you do. So you need a service that will be able to talk to your customers from all angles and really ensure that their needs are met and queries are taken care of.

HR

When it comes to HR, there’s often a lot that you need to cover off. And it can be overwhelming. There are a lot of rules and regulations that you need to, and making mistakes is not something that any of us wants to do. But when you outsource to a specialist company, you don’t have to worry about it. You know that the team will be taking care of everything, keeping you legal, and ensure that your staff are looked after.

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IT

When you’re busy, you do not want to be dealing with computer issues. So this is where IT support comes in. By hiring the right support company, you don’t have to worry about downtime or having to deal with issues yourself. It will all be taken care of for you.

Finance

Next, you’ve got finance. And this one can be debatable, but unless you want to bring a full team in to take care of things, outsourcing your finance department could be what you need. After all, you need to keep your eye on the prize, so things need to be taken care of expertly.

Sales

And finally, you’ve also got your sales department too. If you know that you’re not great at making sales, and you really don’t have the time to take this on, then bringing in a specialist sales or business development company will not only save you time, but it will be in the best interest of your business.

5 Common HR Mistakes Every Business Owner Can Avoid

Often described as the key mediator between employees and you, the business owner, your HR department relies on your leadership to steer the ship that is your company in the right direction. However, the process of hiring, training, and retaining your employees is a fluid and ever-changing one, especially considering the same changing nature of the laws on which you base your collaboration.

With so much on your plate already, it’s no wonder that many business owners, no matter the size of their company, let a few key HR steps fall through the cracks. More often than not, these issues can be easily avoided, so let’s see which HR pet-peeves you should keep an eye on, and how you can make sure they never affect your business again.

Hasty dismissal

Unless there was a flying copier incident that jeopardized the safety of your employees, you cannot fire an employee on the spot without properly investigating the situation. If you are not satisfied with that particular employee’s performance, there should be a written record of your attempts to help them overcome any issues, followed by a proper training protocol, and an account of why you are not satisfied and how that has affected your business.

Sometimes all it takes is a few training sessions to help your employee perform better, but even if that is not the case, the least you can do is save yourself an unfair dismissal claim from a disgruntled employee.

No hiring strategy in place

It doesn’t matter if you are looking for a single person to handle your social media, or an entire team of graphic designers to build your brand, every company needs a reliable onboarding process. It serves to test the candidates on several levels, filter out the unsuitable ones, and help you focus on the ones with the most potential to fit into your company culture.

In fact, a single mismatch can cost your company as much as $50,000 in the long-run, according to this 2013 study. So, take your time to refine the hiring process, it will be worth your while, as well as your budget.

No binding contract

There are no exceptions to this rule: even if you are hiring remotely or choose to work with freelancers only, every collaboration requires a legal basis. While online platforms such as Upwork have their own pre-defined legal terms of each contract, every employee should have a clear idea of your expectations, their rights, and the scope of work involved.

All of these essential bits of information can be included in your employment letter, but they should be further elaborated and agreed upon in a legally-binding contract. That way, both parties involved kick off the partnership knowing what to expect and what is expected of them.

Lack of training

Another common HR issue is offering regular growth opportunities to your employees, but not just in the form of a simple title. Every team needs a chance to improve their skills and master the latest techniques in their field of work, which is an investment that benefits both your employees and your entire business.

This is one of the key factors that contributes to the happiness of your employees, because they will recognize a chance to grow out of their current role without leaving their post at your company. Consider visits to various conferences and seminars, as well as in-house mentorship programs for employees of all experience levels.

Not matching skills and pay

Complying with the basic Modern Awards and the National Employment Standards is another pivotal piece of the employment puzzle that often gets neglected. As a consequence, many businesses end up with significant back pay claims, and even more importantly, with a severe blow to the reputation of your business.

Even if you do comply with the essential provisions of Modern Awards such as paying the needed rates for the specified position, you also need to ensure that other details of the contract are in accordance with the law. Are they getting paid for working after hours? Are they aware of their leave rights and other benefits? All of these and many other details should be regularly checked and updated depending on the position, seniority, and advancement of your employees.

No matter the size of your business and how long you’ve been in the game, keeping your HR practice up to date and in excellent working order is crucial for your entire company. There will always be roadblocks to tackle during the growth of your business, so make sure this aspect of its operations works smoothly so that you can devote your attention to other, more pressing matters of your company.

Guest Author, Raul Harman, s a B.Sc. in Innovative entrepreneurship and has a lot to say about innovations in all aspects of digital technology and online marketing.  While he’s not enjoying travel, football and great food, you can find him on Technivorz.com.

Hiring Your First Employee Without Losing Your Mind

Hiring a new employee is supposed to make your life easier, but it doesn’t always go that way. Sometimes, it can feel like they’re more trouble than they’re worth! But fear not, because you don’t have to be forever facing an uphill battle when it comes to employees, and not even the very first one that you hire. Below, we take a look at a few simple steps you can incorporate into your hiring process to ensure your employees bring nothing but good tidings to your company.

In Advance

You don’t hire your first employee when you need them. You hire them before you need them! That way, they’ll be ready to help you when the busy times arrive really. If you wait until you’re swamped, you’re going to have to try to do all your work and train a new employee at the same time. If you can sense that you’re taking on more work and it’s projected to carry on, then begin to think about hiring an employee. You can always have everything ready to go and then begin the process when you’re sure it’s the right thing to do.

Hire Correctly

Of course, you’ll be making it much easier for your staff to bed into your new company if you have a hiring process that delivers the best workers. There is an art to writing a job description, so don’t just write down the first thing that comes to mind and post it on the job sites. You can use a recruiter to help you find the highest quality candidates if you’re not confident in your own abilities. In any case, your company will be well served by having a long-term hiring process.

Time on your Side

You’ll quickly find that while a new employee does free up some of your time, it also means you have some extra responsibilities. You’ll need to train them, for starters, and then sort out things like payment, tax, and any other employer duties you need to fulfil. You can help yourself by having training take place during a quiet time for your business, and by using software like a speedy pay stub generator to simplify the payment process. You’re going to have to give up some of your time, but by being smart, you’ll find that you get it back pretty quickly – and for the long-term, too.

Bedding in Time

Even with your excellent training skills, there’s going to be a bedding in period for your new employee. Nobody, no matter how talented they are, will be able to pick everything up straight away. Make sure they have a few weeks to get up to speed before expecting too much of them.

Cutting Ties

Sadly, not every employee will work out. There’ll be times when you need to cut your ties. If you have doubts, first try speaking to your employee. If they don’t respond to your encouragement, then it’ll likely be better for everyone involved if you go your separate ways.