Hiring Staff: Before You Start the Search

Welcome back to the second installment of a four part mini series of blog posts on hiring staff! Please check back each week for a new entry.

Before you start the search for a new employee, take the following into consideration:

Define the Job. Don't place an ad or start the search until you have developed a job description that defines what your business needs. Be specific about the job duties, the skills set that will be needed, personality attributes that would be helpful to the position, years of required experience or education, and any other information that would identity the ideal candidate. Next, determine the number of hours that will be required to perform the job duties.

Full-time, temp or outsource? Once you know the hours and set of skills that will be required, you can decide whether it makes sense to hire a full-time employee, use a temp or find an independent contractor to perform the required duties. Generally, it makes sense to hire a full-time employee if the work contributes to the core product or service of your business. If the job you are attempting to fill is secondary or not a particularly key one, you might consider hiring a temp or contracting the work to an outside firm. Outsourcing various job projects (Web site design, marketing materials, payroll services, etc.) is one way to obtain professional help without committing to a long-term partnership. If you are seeking lower-level support staff or are attempting to fill a short-term need, perhaps it would make sense to use a temp agency.

Set a Competitive Salary. If you cut corners on salary and benefits, you will short-change yourself. Your goal should be to attract and retain the best-qualified employee for the job. Small business owners can rarely afford the expense and disruption of constant employee turnover. There are a number of salary-related Web sites that can assist you in researching the annual salary range (for your geographic area), that you can expect to pay for a specific job category.

To read part one about when you should hire staff, please visit http://bbb-business-news.blogspot.com/2013/04/hiring-staff-when-to-hire-employees.html.

What Does it Mean to be Green?

Many products advertised as “green” or “organic” can sway purchasing decisions, but companies can also position themselves as socially conscious at a corporate level to attract customers. Such position begs the question though, what does it mean to be green and how can you communicate it in your advertising?

To help promote your company’s green efforts to all audiences, BBB offers the following advice for making “green” claims in advertising and marketing:

Tell the truth. A recent study by a Canadian-based marketing firm found that many products aren't as earth-friendly as they say they are. While most products reviewed made exaggerated claims, a few carried outright lies – mostly involving supposed certification from watchdog organizations. Few things destroy a company’s credibility with consumers faster than false advertising – tell the truth in all marketing efforts.

Make concrete claims. An honest advertiser will not make vague statements such as “environmentally friendly” or “sustainable” without providing solid examples to back up the claim. If your packaging is made from recycled paper, then say so. If your company has reduced energy costs, then brag about! Making fuzzy claims, however, can get you into trouble with any and all consumer segments.

Provide evidence. Being a green company isn't just about putting a recycling bin by the copier. You also need to be able to explain how you’re making the world a better place. Consider creative ways of quantifying your company’s impact such as: How many hours have your employees volunteered? Who has benefited and how have they benefited from your firm’s efforts.

Get a stamp of approval. While there is no universal “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” for green claims, there are independent third-party organizations that will certify your environmentally-friendly statements such as EcoLogo (www.ecologo.org) or Green Seal (www.greenseal.org).

Get expert help. As a result of the green-frenzy, many boutique marketing and advertising firms have sprung up that specialize in branding companies as environmentally friendly and socially responsible. Getting professional PR help is typically costly; however, the rewards could be substantial in terms of revenue, reputation and goodwill.

Hiring Staff: When to Hire Employees

Welcome to a four part mini series of blog posts on hiring staff! Please check back each week for a new entry. 

Small-business owners may be slow to admit that it is time to add staff. It's not always easy to decide to spend capital on a new hire, particularly if you've leading a one-person (you!) operation. Considering the following issues may help you reach a conclusion on whether to increase the size of your staff.

Overworked. If you find that you are constantly juggling too many tasks, are consumed with handling crises as they erupt instead of focusing on daily operations, cannot find time to attract potential clients or market to new customers, or lack the opportunity to keep your business on track to achieve its full potential, it is time to call for reinforcements. There are only 24 hours in a day, no matter how hard you work.

The same is true for your employees. Employees who are overworked, over stressed and overloaded are going to be under-productive. Burgeoning overtime may be another indication that you need to hire more staff. Excess overtime can be inefficient from a financial standpoint and it may lead to worker burnout. Hiring additional staff could eliminate those concerns.

Need for Specific Skills or Expertise. Many small business owners mistakenly assume they can do it all. Eventually, they reach the point where they must acknowledge they lack the time or expertise to perform a function critical to the success of the business. Be honest. Is there an area of your business operation that is suffering because you lack an employee with the right experience and knowledge base?

Sales Backlogs. Order backlogs may indicate the need for extra help. It may be worth your while to add an employee now to take advantage of a surge in demand for your product or service, even if you cannot yet determine whether the surge is temporary.

Spotty Customer Service. Take an honest look at how well and how quickly you are serving your customers? Are you exceeding or even meeting your customers' expectations? Satisfied customers are repeat customers and will often refer others to businesses that do a good job. Hiring extra staff could boost your ability to be responsive to your customers and market to new customers.

Check back for Hiring Staff: Before You Start the Search, where we will cover what to do BEFORE you start the search.

Almost spring

A short family trip with the pregnant wife and sister-in-law with her kids on Herdla. Sunny, crowded and cold, but some birds present. A Red- necked Grebe being the best bird. Slavonian Grebe also present and the first White Wagtail of the year. Other signs of spring were Eurasian Curlew, a Lapwing  and some 60 Starlings. Last, but not least were a group of five Snow Buntings.

Snow Buntings