Welcome to the Company: Ideas for Successful Onboarding

Hiring new employees can be an exciting time – for both you and the new hire! After all, you found an awesome addition to your team, and you’re excited to show them how great your business is. Although having a new hire can be really fun, it can also be really stressful – especially for the new person.

You want to alleviate stress for your new hire by giving them a smooth transition into your business. So, how do you do that? Here are some ideas for giving your new hire a smooth start in your business.

  • Start with the small stuff: When your new hire starts, there are some seemingly small items that can actually help make the transition a little easier for them. Consider a small welcome gift they can use in the office, such as a water bottle or coffee mug. Also, make sure to show them where the bathrooms are, how to use the copy machine and what to do if they’re having computer problems, to name a few. Although these may seem small, these items can help your new hire feel comfortable in the new environment.
  • Use the buddy system: Consider pairing your new hire with an employee who’s been with the company for a while. The buddy can be the new hire’s go to person if they have questions and concerns about getting acclimated within the company. The buddy can also share some of their tips, tricks and experiences, which can ultimately help the new hire get a great understanding of the ins and outs of the business. Having a buddy can also help the new hire feel more comfortable simply because they know someone within the company and are not all alone.
  • Hands-on approach: What better way to learn than by doing? A great way to get your new hire involved and comfortable is to start them off by doing rather than by watching. Whether it be a computer program or making phone calls, involving them from the get-go can provide beneficial training. It also allows the new hire to ask questions in real time as they arise, rather than scrambling for an answer if an issue comes up. However, try not to give them too much hands-on training right away. You want to help them feel comfortable, not overwhelm them.

 

  • Team involvement: Right from the beginning, it’s important to involve the entire team your new hire will work with. Whether it be going out for lunch on the first day or just holding a brief introduction meeting, letting your new hire meet the people he or she will be working with the most gives a level of familiarity which can help lead to better productivity. When the team works well together, better results are often produced.

 

Gaining a new employee is a fun and exciting step for your business. To reduce stress for them (and you), and to give them a smooth transition, consider some of these ideas. When your employees work well together, you can watch your business thrive.

*Bonus: If you need help with new hire onboarding, let us know. Our outsourced HR services can help make sure your new hire has an easy transition.

Three Components You Can’t Ignore

Like you, your business is alive. But is it thriving? Are you giving it the fuel it needs to grow?

Many components of business require the time of owners, founders and management. And three critical components stand out—accounting, culture and systems. Sure, it’s possible to make money without these, but it can be extremely difficult to grow or reach goals. Surprisingly, these three components are typically ignored or left to chance. Don’t leave your success to chance.

Accounting, culture and systems are equally important, although one might take priority over the other two, depending on your business and its current development stage. But no matter where you’re at, it’s important to be aware of how these three components contribute to your progress.

Accounting

Accounting is usually most ignored by small and beginning businesses. However, we’ve seen many well established, profitable companies that don’t have or can’t produce reliable financials on demand. Without that, management loses all ability to gain valuable information that’s provided in financial statements.

So, why is accounting often ignored? While each business likely has its own, unique reasons, there are some common themes we see. Often times, small businesses just can’t afford to have in house accounting people, so these functions get pushed to the back burner. Another common theme we see stems from lack of understanding. Accounting can be tricky, and when businesses don’t understand their numbers, they often times just ignore them and hope for the best. This can lead to some serious financial issues that, if ignored, can take a business downhill fast.

Culture

Culture is your company’s personality. It’s how your staff interacts with each other and customers. If you don’t identify and define your culture, you can stunt your business’s efforts to grow. For example, one business owner almost completely replaced her staff. Her former staff wanted to keep the “mom and pop” feel. In her long-range planning, which her former staff was part of, they identified strategies for growing the business, complete with revenue targets. It wasn’t until the owner began taking the necessary action to achieve the growth did she realize her staff wasn’t actually on board. Her views of change and growth for the company differed from her staff, which created a cultural nightmare.

It is imperative for everyone to believe and share the company culture. Maybe this means creating policies and procedures that directly align with your company culture, or hosting meetings and events to help your staff understand and adapt to the company culture. However you implement it, culture is too important to ignore – after all, your people are at the heart of your business.

Systems

Proper systems are more than writing down the process. The systems should be both quantifiable and qualified. Quantifiable means it should be set up to measure if things are being done the same way every time, and if the desired results are being achieved. A qualified system is one that’s performed the same way and the way it was written, even if you or management is not present. It should be pointed out that it’s not necessary to systematize your entire business. Focus on areas that create consistent and reoccurring frustrations, are important to the operation and growth of the business and where consistent results are needed.

To sum it all up, all components of your business are important. Your accounting needs, culture and systems and processes are three components that stand out because unfortunately, they are often ignored. By devoting more time, effort and resources into these, you can help your business stay on track for growth and continued success.

*Shameless plug: These three components may seem confusing, scary and downright challenging, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We have talented professionals who dedicate their time and skills to helping your business succeed. If you need help, let us know!

Workplace Wellness

You may have heard about a trend that seems to be taking the nation by storm – corporate wellness programs. Corporate wellness programs involve offering certain types of health and wellness benefits and programs to employees, and these programs are rising in popularity.

Just how popular are these programs? A 2016 study by PwC showed that 76% of employers are offering wellness programs for their employees. 93% of small business decision makers even stated that the health of their employees is important to their bottom line (for more on this, check out this awesome survey). Some of the most common wellness initiatives offered by employers were physical activity programs and tobacco quitting programs.

Employers have many reasons for implementing these programs — from employee satisfaction and well-being (some job seekers actively seek companies offering these programs) to reduction of healthcare costs. However, in order to implement a successful program, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Make sure the program is accessible – with seemingly longer work days, remote workers and higher stress, employees might struggle to find time to access these programs. Strive to create programs that can be accessed in the workplace since that’s where workers spend most of their time. If you have remote employees, create programs that offer benefits where they are, such as discounted memberships at nearby gyms or online resources.
  • Creativity is key – Fitness is adored by some and disliked by others. To get your more stubborn employees on board, think outside the box when it comes to creating wellness programs. When you come up with unique and fun ideas, it can be cause for employees to get excited about getting involved and be intrigued for what will happen next.
  • All hands on deck – Implementing a wellness program is no easy task. To make your program successful, you need support from everyone involved. This includes the top level down to the staff. When more people are on board, it can help get the message out.

Wellness programs can be implemented in any business, no matter the size. While larger companies may have more resources to implement larger programs, small businesses can also implement awesome programs for their employees. Some neat ideas for small businesses include:

  • Freshen up vending machines – If your business offers vending machines, take a look at what’s in them. Rather than containing only cookies and potato chips, consider adding healthier options such as granola bars and fruit snacks. If you have soda machines, consider adding bottled juices and water. Not only will this add healthier options, but it can also give employees some variety to choose from.
  • Consider fitness trackers – If you’re not sure about being able to provide gym memberships, consider some type of fitness trackers. Fitbits can be a bit more expensive, but could function as a great employee gift. Pedometers are relatively cheap, and can encourage employees to get up and get some steps. You could also consider creating activity competitions using the trackers to keep it fun and exciting, and to keep people moving throughout the work week.
  • Implement something unique – Being a small business implementing a wellness program can have some cool benefits. If you have a small amount of employees, you might be able to try unique programs and activities that larger companies would struggle to implement. Bring in a masseuse and offer massages one Friday a month, or consider offering fitness classes at work. Coming up with fun and unique ideas can help keep your employees involved and excited to participate.

Once you’ve done what it takes to implement the program, you can rest easy knowing you’re helping improve your employees’ health and giving them some great work benefits. There are many benefits that can come from establishing a wellness program, no matter how small or complex it may be. Here are some of our favorites.

  • Liven up the workday – Let’s face it: sometimes the workday seems like it’s dragging on for ages. When you have a wellness program in place, you have the opportunity to split up the day and give employees a moment to step back from their work and get reenergized. For example, at Eide Bailly, our wellness committee has organized yoga sessions throughout the week around the lunch hour that employees are encouraged to attend right here in the office. This fun, get up and move activity helps break up the day and keeps employees on their toes.
  • Increased productivity – To piggyback off our last point, taking small breaks throughout the day can lead to employees being more awake and alert. This can lead to more focus on tasks throughout the day, and more energy for employees to complete their work.
  • This one is obvious: healthier, happier employees – Wellness programs are meant to maintain and improve your employees’ health. Wellness programs can help keep your employees from being susceptible to common illnesses, such as the cold or flu, which can result in them missing work. The programs can also help them fight off lasting health issues, such as heart disease and arthritis. When employees are healthy, they are likely to be in better spirits as well.
  • Attract – and keep – top talent – Employer sponsored wellness programs are so popular that job seekers often seek to work for companies that offer such programs. In fact, according to The Institute for Healthcare Consumerism, nearly nine out of 10 employees consider wellness benefits and programs when considering an employer. When employees find companies that offer these wellness benefits, they’re more likely to stick around.

Wellness programs are rising in popularity amongst employers and employees alike. With the benefits these programs can provide your company and your employees, have you decided if you’re ready to give it a try? Seem like a lot of work to implement? Don’t sweat it (see what we did there?) – our HR team can help you develop a program that works for your company!

Takeaways from #FargoConnect16

By Kayla Koehmstedt, Marketing Intern

We understand there is more to a business besides the numbers stuff, so we try to cover lots of aspects of your business on this blog. We’re nice like that.

Recently, we were able to attend FargoConnect and now we’re able to bring some fresh new marketing ideas back.

Not sure what FargoConnect is? Well, it’s Fargo’s digital marketing communications and technology event that’s all about learning, collaborating and of course, having fun! (If you want to know more, check this out.)

The theme for this year’s event was “Tech Up Your Marketing Game.”

Here are a few of our key takeaways from FargoConnect!

Takeaway #1: Technology is changing the way we market

This one shouldn’t come as too big of a surprise, but there is more than meets the eye. Scott Stratten, President of UnMarketing, kicked the day off by giving a presentation on how to market your brand while using technology. Not only was Scott hilarious (seriously, we had tears from laughing so hard), but he was full of amazing thoughts and ideas.

Social media is a huge player in the marketing world, but it is also a handy tool for the three C’s: Community, Conversation, and Customer Service. According to Jay Baer, another one of the day’s keynotes, “Social media marketing and social media customer service are two sides of the same coin.” So how do we see this with the three C’s?

  • Community – Social media is an excellent tool for reaching out to customers and making them feel involved, whether it be in the business community, physical community or even just a sense of belonging to something.
  • Conversation – Social media gets people talking. It is a great tool to interact with your customers, get feedback, answer questions and even offer product support.
  • Customer Service – People are taking to social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, to air complaints about companies. With this becoming a growing trend, it is now more important than ever to keep up on social media, have a presence, and give your market the attention they crave.

Social media provides a great outlook to connect with people and provide them excellent customer service to keep them satisfied. However, if you’re going to be on social media, Stratten warns to not “be there just to be there.” If you are going to use social media to engage with your market, make sure your presence has something to offer.

“Don’t try to have a presence without being present” – Scott Stratten

Takeaway #2: People are changing the way we market

Just like technology, people are always changing; usually, where technology goes, they go. It’s clear to see that many people have developed a “want/need it now” demeanor when it comes to many things, and communication is at the top of this list.

People are changing the way we market because they want to be noticed, heard and taken care of. Baer reminded us of BEET: Be Empathetic Every Time. Relate to your customers, give them awesome customer service and let them know they are valued.

How do you practice BEET? Well, according to Stratten, what’s important is finding your market’s preferred way of communicating, and acting on it. In fact, Baer says, “Your customers will tell you what content they want if you just listen to them.”

It is important to note how consumers choose to get information about a product or service. Some will look online, some will go to the store and some will seek information from their peers. However, the preferred method comes from online reviews, ratings and discussions. In fact, 87% of American’s trust ratings and reviews just as much as recommendations from peers. This brings us to a topic that is often overlooked, but can actually be extremely important to how we interact with our customers: customer service. There will always be customers who are upset about something or not satisfied. How you react to this situation is what can bring success to your business.

Many people are now opting to air their dirty laundry about a company online, for all to see, or as Baer calls it, “onstage haters.” These “onstage haters” are posting online because they want an audience. However, the best way to react to this is to offer amazing customer service that addresses their needs and leaves them feeling satisfied.

“People who complain about your business are not the problem – ignoring them is” – Jay Baer

Lou D’Angeli, director of marketing and PR for Cirque du Soleil, reminded us that we should show our audience, not tell them. How then should we do this? By offering great customer service that will keep them coming back and satisfied. It is important to remember that no response is a response in itself.

 Takeaway #3: The (not so distant) future will change the way we market

When we think to the future, we picture George Jetson riding in his flying car, or his robot maid cleaning the house for him. We may not have these things, but the future is here, and we are seeing trends of some pretty cool tools that will change how we market.

Jon Pederson, Chief Technology Officer of Midco, spoke on the topic of augmented reality and how this will affect not only our professional life, but our home life as well. Augmented reality could provide new platforms to reach consumers, whether it be in marketing or just to hold conversations with them.

Garrett Moon, co-founder of CoSchedule, talked about the importance of embracing the process, which will be important in embracing the changes of the future.

“A culture that is willing to think big and learn is a culture that is willing to win.” – Garrett Moon

 

Four Reasons to Outsource Human Resources

 You have a dream, but you need more than your vision to make it a reality. You need the best people strategies in place and that means taking on human resources (HR). HR, in its most basic sense, is any function related to the employees of an organization, from recruitment to exit.

We’ve mentioned it over and over again, but this is important: happy, satisfied employees make for a thriving, successful business. After all, where would your business be without employees? Your company’s HR services should instill a sense of culture and belonging for your employees and encourage them to be efficient and productive in the workplace.

The well-being of your employees is a lot to put on a team’s plate, especially if it’s a small team … or just you. So what do you do if your HR people are overwhelmed?

We figure HR isn’t why you got into business. In fact, you may not have even the slightest clue where to begin when it comes to HR. Enter the world of HR OUTSOURCING.

No, we’re not making this up. In fact, out of the 40-50% of companies using outsourcing, 11% of them are outsourcing human resources.

Outsourcing your company’s HR practices can be very beneficial to your company, and can give you more time to get back to the reason you got into business in the first place.

Here are four reasons why outsourcing HR services can be beneficial to your company, and can help you get down to business the way you intended:

  1. Rolling in the Dough | Choosing to outsource your HR practices can save your company some serious money that can be allocated to other areas that need it! By outsourcing, you won’t have to hire as many employees to complete various HR tasks, thus saving money when it comes to payroll and benefits. Yes, you will have to pay to outsource, but the cost of outsourcing is cheaper than adding numerous employees to the HR department.
  2. Gettin’ Down to Business | One of the main reasons HR outsourcing is used is to ensure the HR department runs smoothly. For example, if your business suddenly faces an increase of items that need to be processed, your outsourced HR services can work with this, thus allowing your HR workers to focus on their day-to-day tasks. Hence, more efficiency and less fire drills. Keeping your company running as it always has is an important benefit of HR outsourcing that should not be overlooked.
  3. Avoid Turnover Troubles | So you’ve recently had a turnover of employees in your HR department. Now you only have a few employees left, and they can’t do everything on their own. Imagine the effects on your business if payroll suddenly halted! Human resource outsourcing is a great way to be sure that even if you have some employee turnover in your HR department, your company’s core functions won’t suffer. Instead of trying to replace the employee, train the new employee, and get all of the old employees work done, HR outsourcing can take care of the details so you don’t have to worry about what to do next.
  4. Big or Small-One Size Fits All | You may be thinking that your business is too small and that outsourcing HR doesn’t apply to your company. But, the truth is even small to mid-sized businesses and startups can reap many benefits from outsourced HR practices. Your business may be small enough that it simply doesn’t have the budget (or even enough space) to hire an in house HR director, or you may be too busy to worry about HR because you are focusing on getting your company up and running. This is where outsourcing comes in. By outsourcing, you give yourself, as well as your company, more time to focus on growth and other important tasks to make your business successful, rather than putting time into something you may not have the time or resources for.

Seem like a lot? We can help. There are many ways that outsourcing HR practices can help meet the unique needs of your business. Contact Lisa to learn more.

 

Keep ‘em coming back for more – 5 tips for keeping employees engaged

Let’s face it, we’ve all been there … waking up at the crack of dawn, hitting the snooze button a few too many times, dragging ourselves to the shower, and dreading the work day that lies ahead of us. We get to work, go through the motions, and question if this is the job we really want to have.

The feeling of dreading work can take a toll on your employees, as well as your company. It can lead to sickness, lack of motivation and a decrease in productivity, to name a few (source). We’re guessing this is not what you want for your employees or company.

So how do you change this perception? Here are five tips keep your employees happy and excited about coming to work.

  1.  Emphasize the all-important balance between work and life. Life happens. Whether it be a child’s dance recital, or being under the weather, employees have matters that need to be attended to outside of the workplace. Instead of offering the usual 9-5 routine, offer your workers some flexibility so they can have time for life’s activities. Provide them with options to create a balance- whether it be the option to work from home, or maybe flexible, non-conventional hours. Giving employees this flexibility not only lets them participate in life outside of work, but also helps them understand the value placed on them by their employer. A company that understands and relates to its employees can lead to satisfied, motivated workers.
  2. Get feedback from employees….and do something about it! We get it. Sometimes harsh feedback can be a challenge to take action on. However, if an employee takes the time to give feedback, by all means, act on it! If an employee is willing to give feedback, this means he or she would like to see something changed, or that he or she likes what they have been working with. See employee feedback as an opportunity to better the workplace, and to improve on the workplace atmosphere.
  3. Hire according to the company culture. Your company possesses a strong set of values and ethics that should be adhered to at all times. It’s important your employees do just that. Employers want their employees to be living, breathing examples of the culture embodied by their company, and having employees who do just that will help build a strong, successful workplace environment. So, even though you may like the interviewee with the inappropriately funny humor that doesn’t quite fit with your company, choose the one that fits the culture that your company is known for.
  4. Have Show & Tell. Throwback to 1st grade- except this time, it’s the adult version, and by adult, we mean ideas! Lots of ideas! The thing is, ideas can come from virtually anywhere in a company, and often times, that fact gets overlooked. You never know what might be brewing in someone’s head … you hired some smart people after all. Consider hosting a day once a month in a common area where any and all employees can come and share ideas, plans, and projects that may benefit some aspect of the company. A simple event like this generates creativity, and shows employees that their ideas and thoughts are truly valued. This can also help build employee to employee relationships, as employees will often comment on, and build off of others’ ideas.
  5. Get some face time. And no, we don’t mean using your iPhone. To encourage face to face communication, and even some physical activity, pick one day out of your workweek and designate it as “no talking through technology day”. On this day, employees will not be able to communicate via phone, email, or instant message, but instead in a face to face setting. Seems a little crazy, right? Well, not only will employees be actually talking to each other in person rather than from behind a screen, but they will also be getting up and moving around rather than sitting in one place all day. The walks employees take to meet with coworkers encourage physical activity, and it has been shown that small breaks throughout the work day actually increase productivity.

Remember, these are just suggestions … though we think they’re pretty good ones. So use these, or brainstorm other ideas to keep your employees coming back for more, without feeling the dread of going to work!

Why HR Matters for Startups

One of the most important pieces of a startup or early stage company is human capital. After all, these are the individuals helping you achieve your dreams and goals. And they make a big impact if they choose to leave. So what resources are you devoting to them?

Often, startups don’t focus on HR practices or resources early on. While the reasons can be many (cost, no one sees the importance, etc.) the impact can be devastating to a company and its employees.

This boils down to a fundamental disagreement about what HR actually is, and what it’s not. Human Resources isn’t just responsible for onboarding and ensuring every form is signed on the dotted line by the individual’s start date. They’re also not babysitters hired specifically to watch your every move.

Human Resources allows employees to feel comfortable at their job, to help set expectations and to ensure a safe workplace for everyone.

Don’t believe us? Here are a few examples:

  • What happens if your employees are unhappy at their jobs? Or if they are having problems with someone else on staff? What outlet do they have to communicate their frustration? “As water cooler gossip migrates online … disputes can spread with alarming speed, distracting the rest of the team when they should be focused on delivery of a product” (source).
  • Who do you hire? Startups often employ friends to help expedite growth. When this happens, personal and professional issues get thrown together. “Leadership teams will tap their networks for the first 50 or even 70 employees. So you’ve got duality of professionalism and also friendships that run deep. It can be really funky” (source).
  • Are you developing an inclusive work environment? A recent study found that women are more often “the most vulnerable employees due to startups’ lack of HR and general anti-harassment procedures” (source).

So how do you fix it? Well, it starts with a tone at the top. Communicate the way your business will function and the types of behavior that will be tolerated, and what won’t be. Have a process in place for how you, as a founder, will handle complaints that come to you.

Then, back it with HR strategies, tactics and resources so your company isn’t blindsided. Decide what’s best for your organization, what your needs are and what gaps you need to fill in. There are several technology solutions out there that can help you streamline the standard practices and procedures and while ensuring you’re in compliance.

But make sure to look beyond just the technology solutions. Never underestimate the power of an actual person.

“An automated platform cannot replace the human experience of talking with someone, especially dealing with sensitive issues … when dealing with cultural difference and employee needs, the best solutions are likely not software or dashboard based” (source).