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What to look for when hiring college graduates

In business, hiring new recruits is crucial to success — they bring fresh thinking and can challenge the existing paradigms of your corporation. A steady stream of prospective employees is likely knocking on your door daily, and even more so around summer time when college and university students finish their final year.

As a recruitment officer, it’s your responsibility to bring in the talent. With so many resumes and applications to decipher, what should you look for, to ensure you interview — and ultimately hire — the best possible candidate?

Evidence of critical and strategic thinking

Use your application process to pose salient questions, requiring candidates to evidence strategic thinking and the ability to address both sides of an argument. You’re not so much looking for the individual’s ethics or values here, but their capacity to form and deliver their point of view in a creative and compelling way.

The ability to work in a team

An applicant’s college experience will illustrate if they are a team player — whether they played a team sport, or performed in college stage shows, you want employees who understand and respect the significance of working together towards a shared goal.

Look for specialized degrees

Most resumes include an abundance of experience, however, you need to learn how to filter out what isn’t relevant and focus on what is useful. While many people will mention all their experiences, if someone only has leadership skills as a secondary skillset and no actual qualification in this area, then you may have to find someone else who does have the qualifications you’re looking for.

If you feel you need more information, then research the institution where they received their further education. While some colleges offer a multitude of degrees, some colleges have a more focused curriculum, so their students can specialize in certain fields. For instance, if you’re looking for a new head teacher, then someone who has studied at NEC (New England College) and undergone a Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) could have more honed in leadership skills than someone who didn’t.

Resilience

‘Resilience’ is defined as the ability to withstand the pressures of college life, and emerging positive and ready into the professional world. You want to build your company around people who thrive under pressure, rather than falter.

Interpersonal skills, if relevant to your business niche

Not all professions require advanced social skills — indeed, businesses in Silicon Valley are famously seeing past prejudices and assumptions, to hire individuals on the autistic spectrum in their computer technology and software development teams.

However, if the ability to work collaboratively is pivotal to your work then you’ll want to test prospective employees on this skill. Building upon evidence of team and relationship prowess, use the interview to pose challenging questions to delve further — “Tell me about a time you’ve had to manage conflict in a study group?” or “You’ve seen that a friend is going through a bad time, how would you intervene to help?” are both revealing questions to ask.

5 Practical Ways to Increase Staff Productivity

Every business owner’s dream is to have a team of staff that are highly productive, as this contributes to their success as a business. The reality, however, is that people don’t tend to run on one hundred percent productivity one hundred percent of the time. Luckily, you can still reach a level of productivity that meets your standard if you put a few measures in place. It will require demystifying your staff and for you to figure out what motivates them and how to keep that momentum going on a daily basis. To figure this out, you’ll have to engage in a bit of trial and error and then find what works best for you. Below we discuss five practical ways to increase staff productivity.

Show You Care

One of the ways that you can attempt to improve staff productivity is by showing them that you care about their wellbeing. It may come as a shock to you, or perhaps not so much, to know that a recent survey carried out by the NPD Group found that at least 31 million Americans don’t bother eating breakfast in the morning. Seeing as breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day, your staff skipping breakfast could result in them having decreased levels of energy and being less able to concentrate. It will ultimately affect their productivity and how well they perform at work. A solution to this problem could be providing free fruit, bread rolls, and tea or coffee every morning if your budget will accommodate it. It should give staff the boost they need to start the day off on the right note and help increase their output. Try and see if you can get a grocery store or restaurant to deliver fresh fruit and bread every morning. You could also get the office secretary or assistant to look for Office Coffee Deals that deliver. Staff should appreciate this for the most part, or at least have something to look forward to every morning.

Offer Support

You usually hire an employee because they seem to be knowledgeable and suitable for the advertised role and have been able to pass the assessment given to them impressively. It, however, doesn’t mean that they won’t need support throughout the time they’re working for you. Consider supporting your staff by providing them with opportunities to progress such as dedicated training to help them perform better if you can afford to squeeze it into your budget. There is a tendency for organizations to focus on training for people in leadership positions. However, staff who are at the incipient stages of their career may need it more. Other ways to support your staff include giving them flexibility, so they have time to de-stress and don’t feel overworked. You could also think about replacing old equipment so they can work better and be understanding when they’re enduring work-related or personal issues. This kind of support is a way to build trust and loyalty amongst your staff.

Give Feedback

You can’t always control the way people will react to criticism. However, ensuring that it’s constructive could go a long way in improving employee productivity. It is a management skill to understand each employee’s unique personality and be able to find a way to provide feedback in a way that encourages and motivates them. Also, make a note to give feedback as regularly as possible and ensure it is detailed enough as well as balanced. Let them know areas in which they’re excelling as well as where they need to improve. Take the time to find out what their challenges are, and again, what support you can offer to help.

Offer Incentives

Offering incentives and rewarding good behavior might help increase work productivity. Not only does it make people feel good when they’re recognized and rewarded for achieving, but it also gives them something to look forward to. Common incentives you can try are bonuses for those who meet targets or free coupons to enjoy some form of entertainment. You could also try gift vouchers at stores that you think they’re likely to shop at. Explore different incentives and see which works best to encourage staff to be more productive. Better still, it might be a good idea to conduct a survey and simply ask staff their preferences. Bear in mind, that incentives alone most likely won’t give you long-term results for increasing productivity. Combining incentives with the opportunity to grow and feel like a valued part of the work community should create more long-lasting results.

Don’t be too strict

Putting too many restrictions in place at an office can make employees feel like they’re working in a jail. While it may be helpful in increasing productivity, it can likewise be counterproductive as it may affect their enthusiasm towards work. An example of this is imposing internet restrictions in the office. There is a plethora of valuable information on the internet in this day and age, and on social networks too. You may then find that allowing them to be free to browse and visit social media may help spark their creativity or give them a wider variety of information. It could improve their work productivity, especially if you’re in the media or digital marketing industry or your company has social media platforms. It is understandable that you don’t want your staff spending valuable office hours liking their friend’s pictures. Remember, however, that staff can be unproductive even with all of the restrictions in place.

To increase productivity, you have to think of ways to create an environment that your staff enjoy being in. Although people have different reasons for joining an organization, they’re more than likely to give it their best when they feel its adding value to their lives. This value could be in the form of money, support, and personal development as well as feeling like they’re a part of something significant. Hopefully, these tips help improve productivity, and you’ll have a happy owner and happy employees.  Ultimately, the most productive people are those who feel deeply connected to the work they do and what it contributes to society.

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How Time and Attendance Software Can Improve Your Business

Effectively managing your business (and most importantly, your employees) makes for a happy, healthy, successful working environment. This in turn generates more revenue. Every business owner knows this – but how is it achieved?

It may be the last thing that springs to mind, but using time and attendance software is proven to have a multitude of benefits for both employer and employee. It increases employee security, ensures fairness, and makes everything so much easier for bosses, managers and HR departments to keep track of.

Find out here the several ways that bringing in this software could help your business run smoothly and improve employee satisfaction.

1. Keep Track of Working Hours

See an accurate timesheet for every employee at a glance, all on your computer screen. No more quibbling about lateness and how much overtime somebody is owed.

Attendance software will show you the exact time, to the minute, that a specific worker signed in and logged out for the day. This way, they can be accurately paid. Everyone feels secure when they know they’re being paid fairly; increasing job satisfaction substantially. The clever software also ensures your employees are paid precisely on time – another big plus.

2. Create Employee Timesheets

Many companies use timesheets to track how much time each person spends on each project, and therefore helps the bosses to calculate how much money is spent and made per project.

Use timesheet software to track the time of your employees and gain the most accurate account of what expenditure is going where. Without doing this, you could be spending way over your budget on minor projects, and undercharging clients. You can also see which employees are doing the most profitable work, and who deserves a pat on the back.

3. Easily Allocate Work

Instantly allocate and delegate work amongst employees in the most efficient fashion. Using your software, everyone can see exactly which projects you’d like them to work on, and who they’ll be working with. You can set precisely the amount of time you’d like them to spend on it, and how much budget is set aside for it. Simple!

You’ll wonder how you ever worked without it. This method hopefully removes the need for lengthy group emails and unnecessary meetings. (Of course, you still need those – but having lots per week whittles down the time your employees spend on projects.)

4. Save Time and Money

No more paper schedules, and spending hours trying to make fiddly timetables with Excel. This software saves you the money of printing off loads of paper and buying heaps of files, and lets you keep the time and money spent doing that for more important things. The saying is true – time equals money!

5. Streamline Your HR Team

Can you imagine the simplicity of this software for your HR team? They no longer need to go around chasing people for information about their accurate working hours, expenses, overtime, holiday, sick days, etcetera. It makes their job far easier, and therefore yours.

Their time is now free to go about conducting interviews and sorting necessary paperwork rather than sending frantic emails and running around the office. This one handy piece of software helps to streamline every part of your business.

6. Eliminates Pay Errors

We’re only human – and with that comes inevitable human errors. Within businesses, there are always times when someone feels they have been wrongly paid; whether they turn out to be right or wrong.

With employee time tracking software, this will never happen. All hours are calculated to the minute, meaning everyone gets paid exactly what they’re owed.

7. It is Mobile Optimised

We’re not always in the office, working at our screens. Most businesses require employees to leave the normal work station every so often, and go out for client meetings or other business matters.

Time and attendance software developers know this, and so have created their products to work on mobile and other devices. This way, even if you’re out of office, you can update your timesheet with the touch of a button.

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Unlocking the Full Potential of Your Business Software

When it comes to building up a business, there are many different factors that will determine your overall success. However, one of the least considered points that many business owners overlook is the way they utilise technology. In particular, one problem area that they fail to notice is the use of software. Now, it’s not to say that companies don’t use software. In fact, it’s clear that in order to survive in the current business landscape, the use of software is paramount. However, there’s a clear divide between companies that understand how to make the most of their software and companies that barely use 10% of the features.

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Common Examples of Underutilisation

Let’s take the common word processing software packages that companies use. The three most common applications (as of writing) are Microsoft Office, OpenOffice and Google Docs. We could write an entire article comparing the three and what type of businesses they cater towards, but that wouldn’t be the point of this article. Instead, we’re going to show how businesses fail to utilise their full list of features and how it’s both costing them money and time.

Collaborative Features

Despite Google Docs being a free-to-use cloud application, many people fail to realise the full potential of a cloud-based office productivity suite: collaboration. Google Docs offers one of the simplest ways for multiple people to collaborate on a single document. Whether it’s a technical document that is being written by several authors or a project document that has to be edited by several people, Google Docs offers the necessary tools to take advantage of it. Sadly, far too many people use Google Docs as a simple word processing tool and nothing more. This can, of course, be done with other office programs, but it’s a good example of how even a free piece of software contains unique features that are often underutilised.

Remote Working

A great feature that has been enabled by cloud services is the ability to work from almost anywhere. There are still people that save their work to flimsy USB flash drives and pass them around between the office. Those days are over (for the tech-savvy, at least) and it’s now possible to not only use the cloud to transfer files across greater distances and keep team members updated, but you can also access and edit files from virtually any piece of hardware. You can edit it on your Mac laptop, Windows desktop, Android smartphone or even iOS tablet. No matter what operating system or type of device you use, there’s a good chance that the software you use can actually be used across multiple different platforms. The industry calls this cross-platform compatibility and it’s something that far too many companies forget about.

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Finding Problem Areas to Fix

Now that you understand the effect of software and how it can optimise your business, let’s take a look at ways that you can actually find problematic areas to fix.

For starters, always start from your workflow. From start to finish, your workflow should be seamless and without any hitches. You can’t just take a look at your workers and just guess if something is going right or wrong, however. The key here is to use analytics in order to get a better idea of what your business is up to or capable of. For example, keep track of where the bottlenecks in your business are. If a certain department or employee is constantly causing the rest of your company to halt, then it might not be their fault. It could be the fault of a piece of software or it could be that their job is just so tedious they can’t finish it on time. It might not be a case of getting an extra employee either—they could just need some new software

Realising What Software Can Do

At the end of the day, computers are dumb, Without input from somewhere, they don’t know what to do because they don’t serve a purpose. A computer that calculates numbers has a purpose, but even then, it needs input in order to function. You should think of software in the same way—it needs to serve a purpose and it’s often to make something easier.

Let’s say your financial department is having issues with calculating your incoming and outgoing money. As a result, it’s causing delays in paying and receiving invoices and you’ve even had a couple of complaints from the rest of your staff because they aren’t getting paid on time. You might think about hiring a new employee because it seems like your finance department isn’t being productive enough. However, there’s a better way to solve that issue.

Fixing the Issue With Software

Take note of how much it costs to hire an employee and keep it aside. Next, take a look at what the financial department’s workflow is like. If you find that they’re having troubles calculating numbers and filling out spreadsheets because they’re doing it manually, then it’s possible that a piece of cloud accounting software could fix the issue. If it’s a specific problem, such as payroll management or asset management, then things like fixed asset management software or a dedicated program to manage staff wages could be a great alternative. In other words, software is fantastic for fixing things or improving productivity as long as you’re willing to research the possible solutions and consult a tech-savvy employee for assistance.

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Some Final Words

This article has been brief, but it should have given you some insight into how you can unlock the full potential of your business software. It’s an expensive investment, which is why you need to make the most of your software. Read guides, learn if you find that you’re not utilising more than half of the tools available to you, then you might want to consider downgrading to another piece of software that will help reduce your business expenses.

Michael Timms

Recruiting is Broken, Succession Planning is The Future

Yes, I realize that saying “recruiting is broken” may sound like something Donald Trump would say if he was in the HR business. But as inflammatory as it may sound, it’s true. Think about it. Is your recruiting process delivering, on a regular basis, the top-tier leaders that your company is desperately seeking? Most people that I talk to are telling me “no.” They’re not happy with the results that their recruiters are producing, or at the very least, they’ve come to terms with what their recruiters can realistically produce.


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About the Author

Michael TimmsMichael Timms is a management consultant, author and speaker specializing in organization and leadership performance and the founder and principal of Avail Leadership. Michael is also the author of the new book, Succession Planning That Works. You can learn more about Timms and his book at www.availleadership.com and connect via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.