Let's face it COVID-19 threw all of us for a loop. No one saw it coming and no one could have predicted it's impact. An impact that was felt by working mom and dads, who now had to work from home with kids. I have been working from home for years with kids so I was already prepared for the stress that it can bring to your working life. My youngest finally started Kindergarten this year and I had pure excitement. I thought my working days would now be uninterrupted finally and I could get more work done. Boy was I ever wrong! COVID-19 changed that and instead of having no kids at home while I worked, I now had three young kids ranging from age 11 to 4. Here are three tips that I have used over the years and now during the new normal of working from home with young kids.
Tap into your inner child
Sometimes when you are working at home with kids, you have to just surrender and tap into your inner child. Take a break and do what they do. My son likes to tickle me when I am working and sometimes it is at the wrong time, such as when I am under a deadline crunch. But I have to admit that when he tries his best to tickle me, it comes as a wanted break from the stress of what I am doing. I look at this little face and see how much he wants me to play with him and I do just that. I chase him around the house and we both laugh. I then I realize how much I needed his little distraction. Take regular recesses with your kids when you are home working with them. It is a win win idea.
Make your children part of the team
Working at home with kids can be made easier if you just include them in what you are doing. Make your children understand how important your work is to you by making them part of your work from home team. For example, I made my eight year daughter print manager. As print manager, her job was to collect everything from the printer that I had printed. She was also in charge of making sure that the printer was well stocked with paper. She rather enjoyed that and was very enthusiastic whenever I printed anything. If you have stapling to be done or letters to stuff or hole punching, put the kids to work and make up creative titles that they will enjoy. This will encourage them to value what you do since they are now part of the team.
Encouraging your children to be entrepreneurs is very beneficial even if they don't become entrepreneurs later in life. It encourages them to become driven. It teaches them not to give up no matter what work environment they are in. While you are working, encourage them to set up their own business at home. Help them to understand the different parts of a business. Sales, Marketing, Accounting and customer service. Help them to understand how important it is to accomplish tasks while they are running their own created business. This will in turn help them to understand why mom or dad needs to get work done while they are at home.
Bottomline, kids don't always have to be seen as a threat to working from home. Make them a strong and fun ally. Take a tickle break, it can increase your productivity.
We have all worked with someone who always sees the glass half empty. They refuse to see the positives in any situation and as a result can be a drain on other employees and your business. How can you deal with the continued "negative Nancy or Steve, or April in your organization? What can you do to help them see the brighter side of things? Here are three tips that can certainly help your negative thinking employees.
Get to the core!
I think we can all agree that people are not born negative thinking or born without a ray of sunshine. So what happened along the way to make them always see the negative side of things? I once worked with a guy who complained about everything. He was really good at what he did but it was a battery drain to have a conversation with him. It was exhausting! Finally, one day I said Bob(not his real name), why is the glass always half empty? He paused for a bit! I don't think anyone had ever asked him that question. He thought about and said, "well, I guess I get it from my dad, he was always negative" It was a learned deposition! His father was negative so therefore he just mimicked this behaviour his entire life. But having this conversation helped him to think about and be more mindful of how he was perceived by myself and other members of the team. Getting to the core is the first step in creating awareness in your negative employee. Help them to start to think about the root of their thinking.
Build them up!
Normally a negative thinking employee has trouble seeing how valuable they are as a person or even as an employee. Add an extra layer to your performance review process by incorporating positive affirmation into their daily work day. It could be that early morning meeting where you tell everyone how great you think they are. Tell your employee one thing every morning that makes them know how much you value them. It could be as simple as saying: "Steve, it was awesome that you got all those shipments out yesterday even though your day was super challenging. We appreciate that so much." Or "Eva, one of our customers called in and mentioned how kind you were to her on the phone and how well you handled her problem" Building up your employee or employees using small daily affirmation goes along way in increasing their productivity and their overall attitude.
Encourage healthy mistakes
One of the reasons why your employee might be negative is flat out fear. They have a fear of making mistakes! Using negative language on a constant basis is their way of creating low expectations and therefore mask future mistakes. Encourage an environment that allows your employee or employees to make healthy mistakes. A healthy mistake is one in which you always see the positive aspect of it and one in which you always learn from it. This approach will allow you to help break down some of the barriers that your employee tend to create with their negative thoughts.
Bottomline, having a negative employee or employees can have a dramatic impact on the team overall and your business. Finding out why they are the way there are, validating them and encouraging them to be themselves by making healthy mistakes is very important. Change won't happen overnight, it will be an ongoing endeavour. If the employee is good at what they do, it might be worth the effort to helping them see that the glass is half full instead of half empty.
Let's face it, no one saw COVID-19 coming! The effects of COVID-19 has had huge economic implications on many businesses- small and large. Most businesses went from having normal operations to grave uncertainty. In the middle of this uncertainty is your employees. Some are able to work from home. Some are having to manage kids while their work from home. Virtual meetings are the new norm and what you see on the screen does not always show the true emotional toll that COVID-19 has taken on your employees. Here are three ways you can support your employees and let them know that you care about their well-being!
Create non-work related virtual meetings
Having regular check-in meetings with your employees without it being about work is very important. Let them know that you want to connect to them from a human perspective. Give your employee regular opportunities to talk or vent about some of the challenges that they are facing due to COVID-19. This can be done one on one or through establish small groups. Let them know that you can relate to their struggles and that you are there to support them through this difficult time.
Create COVID vacation time
I know from my own work from home experience that dealing with kids while working is not fun. Couple that with having to guide your children through online learning because schools are closed is not easy either. There are days, where not having to think about work and just focusing on my family life is what I need. Creating COVID vacation time can be a day here and a day there or if that is not feasible, create COVID vacation times that are given in blocks of hours. For example, don't schedule meetings or work between 11 and 1 for your employees or for certain employees allowing those employees just to do nothing. A time for themselves or time alone with their kids to just feel some relief!
Have honest talks about the financials
If your company is experiencing financial loss due to COVID-19, chances are at some point, you will have to make some important financial decisions. Decisions that will ultimately affect all or some of your employees. It is crucial to have those financial talks with your employees about what you think might happen financially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Will there be layoffs now or in the future? Will some have to take a pay cut so that you can afford to keep everyone employed? Help your employees navigate through what is happening financially. Include them if possible in ways in which you can all work together as a team to come up with different revenue streams to help combat dismal sales due to the pandemic. The idea here is to create an inclusiveness that will allow employees to further understand current and future financial decisions. You might not be able to save everyone's job but sharing financials might help make them understand cuts if it ever came to that.
About the Author
Dahlia Drummond is a mom, wife and entrepreneur. She has worked in trade show and events industry for years which was highly impacted by COVID-19. Working from home and supporting her clients through this pandemic has been difficult especially working with kids at home. She has seen reduced workload due to COVID-19 and as a business person has had to understand and deal with reduced revenue streams as well. But she remains optimistic that we will get through this and one day COVID-19 will just be a memory.
I have a client who is always complaining to me about getting frustrated with a couple of his employees that seem to have focus issues. We have all worked with these kinds of people, they have trouble concentrating on one task and get really frazzled when they have too many things to do. So what are they doing wrong? What can they do to always remain focused. Here are three solid tips that helped my client and can help you too.
Tip # 1: Handle mistakes with care!
Sometimes focus issues can be linked to fear of making mistakes. More importantly, how mistakes are handled by the employer once an employee makes a mistake. Is your management style like a dog? Do you bark at your employees when they screw up? If so, you could be contributing to their focus issues. Why you ask? When employees can't keep their attention on a task, believe it or not, they are afraid of finishing something and have their boss yell at them that it is no good. Instead, they bounce around to different projects, hoping that this might impress you more. Create an environment for your employees that actually encourages healthy mistakes. Stress to them that everyone is human and mistakes are a part of life and growth. This kind of culture allows employees to take the pressure off and actually do their job.
Tip # 2: Assign workload accurately
Do you regularly give your employees more work than they can handle? If so, this could be the cause of your focus issues. Giving your employees more work will only lead to anxiety and ultimately performance issues. Are they bouncing around from one job to the next just because you are giving them too much to do? Should you hire a helper or another employee to help with the workload? Some signs that you are giving too much work are the following: regular overtime or working late, customer dissatisfaction and frequent illnesses. It might be more practical and cost effective to hire someone else to help than burdening the same employee or employees with too much work.
Tip # 3: Walk a mile in their shoe
Sometimes managers are so far removed from the jobs that their employees are performing that they can lose sight of all its nuances. Is it a stressful job? Are customers overly demanding? Are you overly demanding? Would it help the employee if you had regular conversations about their day to day demands and find out if it is the structure of the job causing focus issues. Walking a mile in the employee's shoes allows you to see first hand what they are experiencing and allows them to see that you care.
If your employee is having focus issues, don't just assume that the problem is all them. Fathom the idea that you their manager might also be at fault. Examine how you deal with them first before casting blame. Focus issues are fixable...
The days of having lifetime employees are probably a thing of the past. That concept died with the aging population. People like my mom who worked for the same company for over 25 years, even when working conditions were not so great. Employees nowadays are looking for more in their employment and are generally not settling. As an employer, it is often challenging to keep people and motivate them for years to come. So what are some of the signs of an employee looking to find another job?
Taking more days off
Are you noticing that your generally consistent employee is now taking more days off? This is a sure sign that your employee might be going on multiple job interviews elsewhere. As an employer, you should not panic! This might be an opportunity for you to have an open conversation with your employee about what their future looks like at your firm. Discuss such things as how valuable they are to the team. Give them a written plan on what opportunities if any exists for them with your firm in 6, 9 or 12 months. This might allow them to keep your employment on the list!
The Click Off
We have all done the "Click Off" at work! Browsing the internet when we should be working and hurrying to click off the browser when you see or hear your boss coming. This might be a tell tale sign that your employee is looking for work on your dime. If your company has a policy about online surfing at work, then you should have a conversation with your employee about how they are using their time at work. Help them to understand that although they are unhappy, they are still employed by your firm and as such should focus more on their tasks at hand.
The obvious signs of boredom
There comes a time when the look of boredom and lack of challenge becomes too obvious on your employee's face. Sometimes, it is just time for them to move on. If you have room within your company for growth, then use this opportunity to get your employee more excited about work and their time there. Can they be moved laterally if not up? Or can you give them more responsibilities to cure the boredom? Every job has some elements of boredom and there is nothing you can do about certain tasks, but can you make some tasks more exciting?
Remember that as an employer, you have several responsibilities to your employees. You have to balance your fiscal responsibility with their mental health. Having constant dialogue with your employees with the added element of putting yourself in their shoes is very important. Share with them often allowing them to create a vested interest in the company, this will go a long way in curving turnover. The human experience is not one dimensional and we must all navigate it together!
Many employers are still under the faulty impression that making their employees sit at a desk and put in 40 traditional hours per week equals productivity. I am here to tell you that the traditional 40 hour work is very outdated. Here are the reasons why!
It does not account for modern technology.
Having employees commute in every day and sit in traffic only to sit at a computer and do work that they could easily do from home does not make sense. With the advancement of the internet and having access to information at our fingertips, if your employee is able to work from home based on the job that they do, then let them. Commuting makes people angry especially during winter months. If your employees are angry then they are not productive...
It does not account for work-life balance
With the working family having kids and having to balance all the demands of family life and work, having employees work eight hours per day, five days per week is sometimes not the practical thing to do. What I suggest is moving towards a system that will allow them to work around their family obligations. Allow them to finish tasks at varied hours outside of the traditional 9 to 5 setup. This suggestion goes hand in hand with the use of modern technology. Again, if an employee has a position that allows flexibility in the times that the work can be done, then allow him or her to do so. Giving them the flexibility to prioritize work and family life will create happier and more productive employees.
It does not account for the learning curve
Let's face it,if your employee has been doing the same job for years, they probably can do it with their eyes closed. Why subject seasoned employees to the same learning curve hours as novices. If these employees are not promote-able meaning maybe there's no room to go up, give them another reason to enjoy doing what they do. Such as allowing them to do their work in the actual time needed to make it successful. If after years of doing their job and it only takes 32 hours for example instead of 40 hours, then make the work week 32 hours. Here's what is really happening when you force employees to work 40 hours when they only need to work 32 or 30, they spend a lot of time doing other things on your time. Things such as surfing the net or using social media just to make up the time.
It focuses too much on quantity not quality
When people are forced to work more than necessary, it creates a watch the clock system not a watch the task system. What if you could still get the same quality work from your employees in a fraction of the time. Would it not make more sense to incorporate this kind of mental of quality not quantity. For example, if you set a quota for your telemarketing department that they have to book 2 appointments per day or 10 appointments per week. What difference does it make if they accomplish this quota in 30 hours for the week as oppose to 40. Are they not accomplishing the same results in less time?
I am not saying that you should encourage employees to do less work if you ditch the traditional 40 hour work week. Nor am I encouraging cutting employee salary or pay just because they can accomplish the necessary work in less time. I am rather encouraging employers to see the traditional work week for what it is- not a one size fits all. Be flexible and incorporate ideas into your work environment that makes sense... not just follow the norm.
Dahlia Drummond is a wife and mother of three children ranging in age from 19 to 3 and another one due any day. She has a Business Management Degree from Ryerson University. Her approach in life is to keep things simple. She believes that every problem has a solution, even if the answer is to do nothing. She has been supporting small businesses for over 15 years. Click here to contact her.
Having a small business with a limited amount of employees means that everyone has to wear
many hats. It also means that you most likely have limited resources. Not every function within
your organization requires having a full-time employee dedicated to that function. Bookkeeping
is one of those functions that should in most cases be outsourced to a professional firm. Here
are four great reasons why you should outsource your Bookkeeping?
It will save you money
Outsourcing your bookkeeping to a professional firm will actually save you money in the end.
Most bookkeepers depending on their skill level and what you need them to do will costs
anywhere from $15-$25.00 per hour. Having a full-time employee doing your bookkeeping will
costs you that and all the other hidden costs associated with having an employee. Costs such as payroll remittances, vacation pay, workplace safety insurance and sick days. In most cases you are paying an employee even when they are not there.
It provides flexibility
If your business is seasonal or goes through cycles when you are more busy than other times,
having an outsourced Bookkeeper will allow your firm to adjust your costs based on your cycles.
Which means that during your months where it is slow, you would not have as much billable
hours from your bookkeeper, giving you more flexible cash flow. If you have a dedicated
employee, you will have to pay them whether your business is slow or not.
It will save on professional development
When you have employees, you as the employer is responsible for their professional
development. Courses to ensure that they have the most updated government and tax
regulations. If you hire a professional bookkeeping firm, it becomes their costs and their
responsibility to ensure that they are current. Again, another way to save.
It will save on desk space
When you use an independent bookkeeper, you most likely will not have to create a dedicated
space for him or her. With the advancement of modern technology and the use of web based
accounting softwares, most bookkeeping can be done remotely. This means your bookkeeper
will have their own dedicated office space off site, which you will not be responsible for.
Most companies struggle with the idea of outsourcing vs in house. Deciding to outsource has to
make sense. Ask yourself, will it save me money in the end?With bookkeeping it is a no brainer.
Look for a firm that is progressive and communicates well with your organization and most
importantly knows what they are doing.
Are you looking to find out if our outsourced Bookkeeping services are right for you? Contact us
here today for a free evaluation.