The Contacts You Need as a Small Business Owner in 2022

SME Owner

The day a person decides to start a business can be a momentous one. Many will quit jobs, cash in savings, take risks and put themselves in a position to be the captain of their destiny. It’s a huge undertaking and carries many risks and rewards beyond the prospect of supporting yourself financially and without management looming over you.

In addition to the entrepreneur, however, are a host of people who they’ll rely on for all sorts of support. Some provide emotional help for dealing with the stresses and strains of being a small business owner. Others will offer professional guidance or services. Much like a suspension bridge, missing any one of those links can cause a lot of difficulties. Knowing who you need around you to get the best out of your business journey. 

 

Speak to my lawyer

In reality, legal trouble is something you’ll want to avoid whatever size or stage your business is in. They’re not incredibly business-friendly, taking a lot of time and resources to see through a full legal process. SMBs are driven by consistent cash flow, unlike large corporations. Even before you get started, a lawyer can help you figure out what sort of business you’ll want to register as and the taxes you’ll pay. If you’re a sole trader – say a skilled professional working on hazardous sites – operating somewhere in the UK, you’re at risk of accidents. Knowing personal injury solicitors in Ireland, Wales or England is critical, due to the complex, detail-oriented nature of personal injury claims. Make sure you’ve got a lawyer who understands your regional base of operations, the laws you’ll need to abide by and the administration you’ll need to carry out to stay compliant. 

 

Counting on someone

Your accountant is going to have a deep knowledge of your business and what will be necessary to stay both financially sustainable and also on the right side of the taxman. Accountants are typically trusted advisory bodies as much as professionals; they’ll be able to help you plan future projects and expenditures, for example buying new equipment or hiring new employees. 

 

Lending Lessons

Money can come and go for small businesses. Many external factors can have an impact on demand and can result in cash flow being difficult to guarantee. What’s more, business loans can be the only way for many owners to get started affording things like premises and initial materials. It’s good to look for an institution that’s business-friendly; as to whether you need loans or not, a checking account is the minimum any SMB needs to pay and be paid.                                              

Family and friends are perhaps the most important of all. You’re going to face many challenges as a new business and will have to call upon a lot of different people for support. Whether it’s figuring out your next steps to sell your product, or simply needing to vent after a long week, it all helps you on your way. Because building a business, like so many worthwhile things, can’t always be done alone. 

Embracing Change, Creating a Workplace of Contentment

Happy worker

By Nicole Alvino, Co-founder and CSO, Firstup

5 steps to employee engagement and development in a world of hybrid working

Remote working has been a necessity in recent months, but as we emerge from the deeper grips of the pandemic and employees begin their return to their office or work in a hybrid way — we shouldn’t underestimate, that despite the flexibility that working from home offers, that for some being in the office is hugely valuable.

We recently conducted research on employee wellbeing, and communication in the workplace and found that in the UK around 40% of those surveyed, would prefer to go into the office every day — with the youngest age group needing the office more. Indeed, the global study of 23,105 workers found that globally 23% of those who most regularly worked in an office felt more valued, and got more attention from managers than their home-working peers.

This correlation between being valued, and being in an office environment makes sense. And for the younger generation, there’s a real level of developmental need that being in an office nurtures. Being surrounded by colleagues all working to a similar goal, working within a team that encourages collaboration and enhances relationships, whilst also creating a business culture that becomes endemic in the organisation. 

Having a working space that allows for productivity has also been key, and that’s where the younger generation who may still live with parents, or share with housemates have been most affected by the pandemic. Hubble’s recent “Shall we ditch the office” report found in its survey of 1000 UK employees, that Gen Z was the most ‘pro-office’ age group, whilst Gen Z and Baby Boomers were the most ‘pro-remote’. It found that the younger generation, the Millenials and Gen Z-ers, not only missed the modern perks of the office, but 37% of the Gen Z-ers missed the office as a place to do quiet focused work. They also found they were more productive in the office compared to their older colleagues.

Working from home clearly isn’t for everyone. A recent survey by Harris found that 80% of employees who have worked from home during the pandemic would like to continue to do so, but a whopping 57% actually felt enthusiastic about the prospect of returning to their normal place of work. This paints an interesting picture, it’s clear there is an undoubted enthusiasm for getting back into the office after being isolated at home for months, but also that maintaining work/life balance has become central to our lives, and was only highlighted during these past months. With maintaining an attachment to home now becoming a key focus for many employees, a McKinsey report found that unsurprisingly 50% of the employees surveyed felt that they’d like to work from home or remotely at least three days a week.

Embracing this change has become imperative for many organisations, to not only retain employees but to make sure their needs are being met. Offering choice, whilst supporting the needs of different age groups will be compelling reasons for employees to stay or leave.

So with hybrid working set to become the norm, how can employers ensure that all the benefits that come along with office-based working are readily accessible and communicated to those working remotely? And how will communications play a role in ongoing employee wellness and development?

Employee communication and engagement have never been more important than today. Whatever generations your employees span, these differing needs must be met. Personalisation will be key, and an internal communications strategy that takes into account differing work environments will need to be considered.

As we embrace hybrid working, human resources and internal communications teams are realising that their digital employee experience (DEX) strategies must be built around the switch. The ability to offer an equally slick and fulfilling experience to all employees, no matter whether they are home, deskless or in the office will be critical to attracting and retaining talent.

With that in mind, here’s our guidance on the key steps organisations should take to successfully bridge the gap between home and the office:

 

  1. Ensure all employees experience the company culture fully, whether at home or in the office: In a hybrid working environment the Digital Employee Experience, or DEX, is more important than ever. There are many things that a company can do in order to develop that virtual culture and facilitate those human connections – regardless of where an employee is based. Be it virtual coffee breaks, team building sessions that involve a virtual tour of Machu Picchu, or simply regular opportunities for employees to provide feedback – it just needs to be intentional and considered from the employees’ perspective. Create a sense of community even among a distributed workforce by sharing employee stories, successes and personal accomplishments.
  2. Ensure work/life balance is accounted for: Now more than ever we seem to be ‘always on’, and while that may have short-term benefits for productivity, it is not sustainable – and eventually will have a distinctly negative impact. it is important to set out clear guidelines for hybrid working and drive behaviours from the top – not just allowing, but encouraging employees to switch off digitally. For example, limit online meeting times, build in time for breaks, and reduce the number of daily priorities.
  3. Personalised experiences create value: using tools to personalise the digital experience based on data including their role, location and preferences will be key. A digital assistant providing continuous access to information, via every endpoint, channel or device they use will ensure only relevant communications are received. 
  4. Content is key: Use curated content to keep your employees connected to the company and ensure they are aligned on your business strategies, objectives and brand positioning. This is the content you might until now have distributed through traditional channels such as printed newsletters, magazines, postcards and flyers. But with electronic messaging, you can easily use segmentation and targeting to ensure employees only receive the information they need, helping them cut through the noise and focus on what’s important.
  5. Communicate frequently: Employees want their organisations and leaders to provide frequent and authentic communications. When employees feel ‘in the know’ and part of the organisation’s mission and vision they are more engaged. Businesses should communicate frequently and authentically. Consistent and frequent communication is the key to change management and employee engagement.

 

Instead of worrying about the location of employees, organisations need to focus on their communication strategies that bridge both types of workers. By building leader-employee relationships, providing opportunities for personalised two-way communication, sharing updates frequently, and using relevant communication channels engagement and employee nurturing can be maintained whether they’re in the office or not. As we embrace this change to a more hybrid model of working, employee engagement should not be impacted using the right technology and tools available to us today.

4 Ways to Put Your Business On a Path to Sustainability

People discussing

The word ‘sustainability’ used to be a vague term, but businesses have evolved. Whether it’s addressing climate change or diversifying their workforce, these companies and businesses have created ways to be sustainable.

Car manufacturers, for example, have taken steps to produce energy-efficient and fuel-efficient engines to reduce pollution emissions. Tesla uses rechargeable batteries as a way to fuel their vehicles. Other car manufacturers like Hyundai, Kia, Nissan, among others, have also followed.

Another example is Nike. The leading sports apparel manufacturer has also moved towards sustainability by being transparent with its supply chain and production practices. They also help reduce waste by using post-consumer recyclable materials in some of their products. They’ve also developed an app where you can compare the environmental footprint of different types of fabric.

 

A Sustainable Business

Achieving a sustainable or ‘green’ business isn’t supposed to be complicated. It’s about looking into products and services in your company and thinking about their impact on the environment. Looking inward and assessing existing policies and strategies is already one step towards being sustainable.

There are different strategies you can take to create a sustainable business. Below are some of the ways you can put your business on the path of sustainability:

 

1. Reduce Carbon Footprint

In a factsheet published by the Center for Sustainable System from the University of Michigan, the industries below contributed the following percentages of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States: 

  • 28.9% from the energy industry
  • 27.3% from the transportation industry (where 23% comes from road transportation and 2.4% from air transportation) 
  • 10.3% from the manufacturing industry (where 7.9% comes from overhead allocation and 5.6% from industrial processes)

One way of reducing your carbon footprint is to limit the overproduction of goods and start using recyclable materials. By developing strategies to consume less raw materials, you can contribute to the decrease in demand. You can also encourage consumers to practice recycling instead of throwing their trash away and contribute to the global waste problem.

Another way of reducing carbon footprint is to use renewable energy like solar power. Airis Energy Solutions’ solar power in Miami and other similar solar power providers can help reduce your monthly expenditures by helping you save more on your energy bill. Using energy-efficient lighting can also help reduce your electrical usage and, subsequently, reduce your energy costs.

 

2. Rethink Company Policies

The challenge for some businesses is adjusting to the new normal. More employees prefer working from home instead of going to the office, so they don’t have to worry about commute times.

In a study by the U.S. Census Bureau, an average worker travels 26 minutes to work, 20% longer compared to the 1980s, which is 21.7 minutes. These long commutes have hampered employee productivity and contributed to mental stress.

Before, employees had to wake up early, prepare, and compete with other workers rushing to get to their respective offices on time. Now, employees only have to worry about waking up on time for work. 

Another benefit of working from home is it could save you money from leasing building spaces. These savings could be transformed into additional employee compensation or perks.

 

3. Practice Corporate Social Responsibility

Setting up policies to address a social issue is already part of most companies’ Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). There is no ‘right’ way in developing CSR, but companies strive in their own way to contribute to the public.

For instance, Microsoft aims to have Zero Waste by 2030. To date, they’ve reduced and eliminated waste by reusing materials, reducing sourcing, and recycling. All of their waste is treated with environmentally responsible methods. Coca-Cola is also aiming to reduce its carbon footprint by 25% by 2030. 

CSR creates a positive image for your company and can also serve as free marketing. You and your staff can join clean-up drives during weekends which can also be a form of camaraderie between co-workers. Other CSR strategies include:

  • Environmental Responsibility

You don’t need to restrict yourself to joining clean-up drives to be environmentally responsible. Simple steps such as reducing wasted water or recycling used paper can help you move towards greater environmental responsibility.

Google, for example, has demonstrated their commitment by investing in renewable energy sources and sustainable offices. On the other hand, Facebook has achieved their goal to transition to 100% renewable energy last year. They’re now committed to reaching net-zero emissions by 2030.

  • Ethical Responsibility

Without your employees, your business won’t be a success. The employer-employee relationship should be nurtured. Providing them with fair compensation and other benefits is the right thing to do. Their workplace should be free from harassment and discrimination. They should also be fully equipped to deal with and avoid potential hazards.

Starbucks, for instance, has developed ways for employees to have a voice by getting their feedback and suggestions heard. They’ve also diversified their workforce by attracting and employing workers from various communities. They pay special attention to gender issues and have barred discrimination against gender in the workplace. 

 

4. Be Transparent

Transparency builds trust not only with your employees but with your investors and consumers as well. It can lead to high employee morale, taking feedback as the driving force to improve processes and policies. However, you don’t want to be ‘too transparent’ with your business to the point of jeopardizing your business.

In the internet age, almost all information is available at our fingertips with just a simple online search. Some of these keywords, however, lead to confidential information from unsecured websites.

In a report from Built With regarding CMS usage, 35.63% of websites today use WordPress, and this CMS can be hosted on any server as long as it has MySQL and PHP. In a simple Google search query, “index of /wp-content/” will return over 5 million pages. These pages show what is stored inside the “/wp-content/” of a website running under WordPress.

Some websites have non-disclosure agreements with other companies. Documents such as invoices show what was agreed between parties and other sensitive information. Again, a simple Google search query “index of /wp-content/ intext:invoice intext:pdf” will return over 15,000 pages showing invoices in PDF form that is stored in the website’s “/wp-content/” folder.

While tech companies like GitHub and GitLab allow companies to make their source codes available to the public and encourage developers and other users to collaborate on features and fix critical flaws through the ‘Free and Open-Source Software’ project, there are companies that were not spared from data breaches. For example, LinkedIn, an online platform for career development and professional networking, suffered a data breach twice. The latest June 2021 breach affected 700 million users.

 

Final Thoughts

Even though sustainability is a vague term in business, it can provide significant benefits to your company. Reducing carbon footprint, including CSR as part of your company’s priority to address social issues, listening to your employees’ suggestions and feedback, and building trust are a few ways to be more sustainable and contribute to the welfare of future generations. With a lot going on today, businesses can help reduce chaos through comprehensive planning and concerted effort.

How to Create a Healthy Indoor Environment In Business Premises

Work Environment

The intentions behind building cost-efficient workspaces are commendable. It’s proof of business owners’ growing understanding of the impact of interiors on team members’ productivity and morale.    

However, the true success of building these offices will highly depend on its outcome, including the quality of the indoor environment. When an office’s interiors are properly designed, this can significantly impact your occupant’s well-being. Conversely, poorly constructed stations could pose certain risks that could harm both your business and employees.

 

Consequences of a Poor Indoor Environment

Although these weather-proof commercial buildings were built to conserve energy, these structures aren’t free from flaws. Since most of these workspaces are enclosed, air conditioners will be required to boost comfort and cool the area. 

With no adequate ventilation systems, these air-conditioned offices could trap contaminants and pollutants inside. Exposure to this poor air quality may aggravate allergic reactions and trigger certain respiratory diseases and breathing ailments. When managed improperly, this could affect your staff’s health and work performance.  Thus, this contradicts the purpose of creating these buildings. 

On the other hand, thermal and lighting conditions might also influence your employee’s productivity. For example, a minor deviation in thermal comfort and lighting might make employees either distracted or sluggish

 

Steps to Take to Improve Indoor Environment In Workspaces

However, there are practical strategies you could do to improve your business’s indoor environment. For example, you could invest in a commercial air purifier that can filter out the cold and flu germs surrounding your commercial spaces. Airfixture provides the best commercial air purifier and can decrease indoor air pollution to ensure the health and safety of the occupants. 

Apart from having an air-cleaning device in your business premises, below are other steps that you can take to create a healthy indoor environment.

 

1. Assess Your Premises

Create a checklist for periodical maintenance and health standards in your office. Evaluate whether or not your newly purchased office equipment, materials, wall painting, and displayed aesthetics aren’t emitting harmful chemicals.  This might endanger you and your employee’s health in the long haul.

Keep in mind that a poor indoor environment can manifest itself in your employee’s performance. For instance, your staff might have problems focusing on a task or are feeling lethargic most days.  These signs might be consequences of a poor indoor environment.

While at it, make sure to check the humidity level in your spaces and look into pipes for leaks and faulty systems.  Doing all these maintenance checks can reveal problematic areas. Thus, it would help you identify whether or not this is a symptom of a bigger issue.  This could assist you to check whether or not the building is running efficiently.  Also, it creates a better solution to save money and prioritize your staff’s well-being.

 

2. Control the Source

After your maintenance checks, prioritize eliminating materials that are increasing poor indoor air quality. Pesticides, cleaning products, fabrics, certain aerosol products, solvents, combustion sources, and even furniture pieces could gradually release chemical compounds into the air.

You might think that storing these products in safer areas is enough. However, some of these products could still release harmful gases into the air even when not in use. Hence, declutter and get rid of these items immediately.

Preventing such chemicals from entering your office and eliminating the source of these contaminants could help you minimize pollution. This step is crucial to keep track of the air quality on your premises and create a healthier indoor environment.

 

3. Opt for Safer Alternatives

After eliminating these harmful substances, look for alternatives. You could switch to eco-friendly and organic products that are safer for your occupants. Not only are these more budget-friendly, but these products are also much sustainable for the environment.

As an example, you may choose to replace your cleaning supplies with non-toxic materials. Upon shopping for new pillowcases, focus on organic fabrics, such as cotton and linen. These are hypoallergenic materials and are suited for sensitive skin. You can also look for goods that have been ethically tried and tested to ensure their safety and efficacy. 

If you can, refrain from plastics and treated materials that might be potential sources of harmful chemicals. By reading up and making conscious shopping choices, you could prioritize the health and safety of your occupants.

 

4. Keep Your Premises Clean

Excess moisture can be a perfect environment for mold and bacteria to thrive, posing serious risks and making your staff sick. With this in mind, make sure to have scheduled maintenance and janitorial clean-ups on your premises. You may create workplace policies such as clean as you go, clear away clutter, clean up spills, and throw litter before it starts to pile up.

Remediating the damage and harm brought by mold and mildew is quite pricey compared to preventing their growth. Thus, make sure to keep your premises tidy and germ-free. Notably, an office that’s free from the presence of mold, dust, and contaminants may help you ensure your occupants are inhaling clean air. 

 

5. Introduce Fresh Air

Apart from keeping your areas clean, scout for other ways to increase the indoor air quality in your offices. You can look into an array of options that could help you minimize the presence of particles and pollutants in the air.

You may also buy and display a few indoor plants on your premises. Studies have shown that houseplants can absorb harmful substances from the air, especially in closed spaces.

Aside from minimizing the presence of toxins in the air, plants can transform your space and make it more inviting. Investing in a few greeneries may also make your workspaces visually satisfying, which can boost comfort and aesthetics.

 

Final Thoughts

When building cost-efficient offices, it’s important to consider the health requirements and interior design standards.  This is to ensure the newly-built facility provides value to you and your occupants.  If you’re planning to upgrade your business’s premises, follow the steps above to help you create a well-suited environment that could contribute to your employee’s morale and performance.

4 Methods to Boost Productivity in Remote Businesses

Remote Business

Remote businesses aren’t new, but these companies aren’t fairly prevalent. Regardless, this work setup is here to stay as leaders have recognized its benefits to their employees and long-term profitability.

 

Benefits of Operating Remotely

There can be benefits in allowing your business to run remotely. For instance, gathering a pool of applicants is no longer geographically limited. This convenient arrangement can allow you to hire talented individuals worldwide who you can add to your existing team. This remote setup could also reduce overhead costs associated with renting a building. 

Among all the perks linked to operating remotely, an increase in staff productivity is the one that’s highly sought after by businesses. Employees value the autonomy and flexibility that this modern work setup offers. Given enough freedom to complete their tasks and achieve work-life balance, it could be easy for employees to stay engaged. Certainly, businesses will benefit from team members who are eager to work.

 

Increasing Remote Business Productivity

While it can be easy to consider operating remotely, you also need to remember that remote work may also negatively affect your employee’s performance. Because of this, it’s important to implement certain strategies and leverage technology to keep your staff engaged despite the physical distance.

For instance, your company might benefit from working with IT specialists from Managed it service in Dallas through Cloudsecuretech and other similar services. These professionals can monitor your networks and prevent issues to minimize system downtime.  Thus, making sure your staff is well-supported while at home.

In addition to this, below are other practical methods to increase productivity in your remote company.

 

1. Communicate Regularly

Working remotely will have its set of drawbacks. Because of this, it’s important to constantly communicate with your employees. You may check-in with their progress and discuss concerns that are affecting their performance at work. Creating a safe space and encouraging your employees to speak up may minimize the stress associated with transitioning to remote work.

Moreover, planned meetings and group gatherings could help you build workplace transparency.  This establishes trust and better accountability with their work. When everyone is accountable for their tasks, this might result in better collaboration throughout the company. This is crucial, especially when maintaining the productivity of your remote business. 

Communication is a key foundation to a solid employee-employer relationship. A solid support could also help you preserve high levels of engagement, which is important when handling large hybrid teams.

 

2. Maximize Modern Tools

Take advantage of modern tools to squeeze productivity out of your staff. Equipping your team with the right tools could help them adjust to the new setup.

Today, there’s now a plethora of platforms that you may use at your disposal. From video conferencing applications to productivity trackers and project management apps, these innovations can help you bounce ideas back and forth. Also, check if all of you are on the same page and evaluate areas of improvement. All these can strengthen team collaboration and community bonding.

While it could be easy to use many channels, make sure to use those that are only applicable to your team’s needs. You can assign different platforms for specific purposes to stay organized and prevent filling one with overflowing information. This initiative could also keep everything seamless, especially when reviewing and tracking the project’s progress. When all of you can access data and stay updated, you could eliminate the constant need for follow-ups.

Moreover, these modern tools can significantly build solid connections and allow you to get to know new hires. Thus, it can help foster trust despite the physical limitations.

 

3. Provide Feedback

Since all of you aren’t working together in one setting, it’s important to keep your lines open and create a feedback culture in your company. Looking into their performance and discussing this with them will allow your employees to feel well-supported.

Feedback helps your employees identify their strengths and weaknesses. These factors can guide you and your staff in creating tailored strategies to maximize their skills, performances, and productivity.

Alongside providing them with feedback, make sure to recognize their efforts.  Also, celebrate their accomplishments and give constructive criticism to encourage them to conquer their low points.  This will allow them to grow and improve. All these initiatives can certainly influence team member morale, which affects motivation and efficiency. 

Furthermore, feedback could reveal team issues in the workplace. Uncovering these barriers can help you address them and understand where your employees are coming from. When you can eliminate the friction among them, this can potentially strengthen their relationship and boost team performance. 

 

4. Clarify Expectations

Running a remote business could be quite stressful, especially if you’re new at it. While it can be easy to overwhelm your employees with different tasks, it’s important not to clutter their agendas with a bunch of unimportant ones.

The competing demands of your worker’s attention can only disrupt their focus and affect their performance at work.  Thus, this may result in inefficiency. Likewise, trying to achieve unrealistic productivity standards can be detrimental to their mental health. 

Hence, if one team member can’t commit to an important task, ask others to step up to cater to this demand and balance out responsibilities. Set realistic goals so your team can identify the projects to prioritize and those that can be done later. Empowering them to make decisions is key to managing success. This strategy also prevents the frustration of misaligned goals and prevents conflict along the way.

Moreover, most remote businesses adhere to flexible working arrangements. With this in mind, make sure to ask your team’s availability and typical working hours.  Thus, you’ll be able to set your expectations with the turnaround time and completion of projects.

 

The Takeaway

Your team members highly influence the productivity of your remote business. For this reason, it’s important to look into your staff’s needs and recognize their progress.  You must also know the challenges they’ve been experiencing and give them the right tools to support their performance. By prioritizing these, you could create a stronger workplace culture where employees are happy and productive.

6 Signs Your Business Needs a New ERP System

ERP

In today’s technological era, businesses rely on software to efficiently carry out their day-to-day operations. One such system that’s often used by modern businesses is the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, which helps streamline business operations such as supply chain management and accounting. However, like every other technology, the ERP system does have a limited shelf-life. Because of this, the ERP system you’re using may no longer be compatible with current technologies, thereby negatively impacting your competitive edge and reducing your productivity. 

So how can you tell if it’s time to change your ERP system? Here’s a guide on the clear signs you should look out for to know if you should schedule to change your company’s ERP system soon.

 

1. No Vendor Support 

One of the most evident signs you should get a new ERP system is when the vendor doesn’t provide you with the support you need. This is crucial because, like any software, the ERP system might suddenly experience an issue you or your staff can’t resolve without help from the vendor. However, if the manufacturer is uncooperative, you’ll be left with a malfunctioning ERP system, leading to increased susceptibility to cyberattacks or breaches, greater downtime, and reduced productivity. 

The lack of vendor support can also leave you with an outdated ERP system that doesn’t meet your business needs. If you’re dealing with such downsides, it’s time to switch to a new vendor like NexInfo’s ERP consulting services. That way, you’ll be sure to get a suitable ERP system with the necessary assistance you need to go through the different stages such as discovery, user training, selection, customization, implementation, and ongoing support. 

 

2. Not Meeting Customer Needs 

Without customers, your business would cease to exist. Therefore, it should be your priority as an entrepreneur to ensure that your customer’s needs are met. However, this can be a challenge if you’re using an outdated ERP system since you won’t have direct access to inventory data, shipping, and billing. This is because the design of old ERP systems can’t offer easy access to information from different parties. They also weren’t customer-oriented, thus forcing your clients to seek professional assistance to obtain any information they need. 

On the other hand, a new ERP system does away with these shortcomings and complexities. It does this by integrating cloud services, enabling your customers to get real-time access to information from anywhere. Without an updated ERP system, your company will lose its competitive edge over other businesses. 

 

3. Functional Limitations of Your Current ERP 

The goal of every entrepreneur is to see their business grow, and this is precisely why they invest in an ERP system in the first place. But as your business expands, so do its core functions, including inventory management, finance, and accounting. In addition, other requirements emerge, including warehouse management system (WMS), mobile solutions, e-commerce, and point of sale (POS). These added requirements can’t be handled by an obsolete ERP system that starts to experience certain functional limitations the older it gets. 

Other functional limitations that strain your existing ERP system include greater technical requirements from vendors, unveiling new products or services, and acquisitions. Due to these shortcomings, you might need to invest in a new ERP system to effectively carry out new tasks associated with your growing business. 

 

4. Your Staff Choose to Work Outside the ERP System 

The primary purpose of the ERP system is to streamline company operations. It does this by ensuring your staff members are working as a team and are on the same page towards reaching the business goals you’ve set. However, this efficiency can’t be achieved if your employees use other programs to generate spreadsheets or non-integrated systems like QuickBooks instead of the ERP software because it can’t handle such tasks. As a result, you’re prone to making errors that lead to inconsistencies and inaccuracies that could lead to numerous expenses issues in the future.

With a new ERP system, these problems will be a thing of the past. After all, a new ERP system will integrate the functions of multiple departments. Therefore, you won’t need separate management tools to run your company, which further streamlines your company’s operations. With that said, you can still integrate other platforms such as QuickBooks into modern ERP systems if you specifically want to use them. 

 

5. ERP System Is Too Complex 

Your staff is vital to the success of your business, so you should always ensure their productivity is optimal. However, they can’t accomplish their tasks with a lousy and complicated EPR system. With outdated or unoptimized software, your employees will have a rough time as they try to navigate and finish their assigned duties on time. This might necessitate you to invest in additional training to help them better understand how to use the ERP software efficiently. It may also lead to high staff turnover, thereby increasing the cost of running a business and negatively affecting the company’s performance. 

A modern ERP software addresses these shortcomings, and it helps improve your employee productivity. This is because your employees won’t have to deal with repetitive processes and extremely slow loading speeds. In addition, newer ERP software has customizable and intuitive interfaces, which further simplifies ease of use and accessibility.

Just remember to take the time to choose a reputable ERP vendor. With a respectable ERP vendor, your staff will be sure to get the necessary training on ERP system implementation. This is vital to encourage adoption by your staff, thereby increasing productivity. 

 

6. It Doesn’t Offer Cloud Computing Capabilities 

Many companies have realized the immense benefits cloud computing has on their operations. Because of this, many companies have opted to use cloud-compatible ERP systems to get better access to online business solutions. But if you’re stuck using an old ERP software, you’ll need to first buy a license and load it onto servers to be able to use such a system. 

With a modern and cloud-based ERP system, you can avoid all these inconveniences as long as you’re connected to the internet. You also don’t need to buy high-performance hardware and licenses constantly, hence lowering your business operational expenses.     

 

Takeaway 

An ERP system isn’t cheap. So, given its cost, many businesses resort to using the software for an extended period without replacing it. However, this isn’t usually recommended because the cost of getting a new one will be much less than the expenses associated with using an outdated and inefficient ERP system in the long term. Keep in mind the clear signs discussed in this article so you’ll know when you should go ahead and get a new ERP system. 

How to Better Manage Your Business Finances

Business Finances

It’s not easy to run a business. Aside from making sure that your business strategy, marketing plan, and management skills are always on point, you also have to anticipate and survive various crises. An insightful post on Forbes notes how the failure rate for small businesses significantly increases as time goes by. In fact, recent data points out that only one in three small businesses will be able to reach the 10-year mark.

So, how can you guarantee that your business thrives and finds longevity?

One way to make sure that your business succeeds is by knowing how to expertly manage your business finances. Failing to stay on top of your business finances can lead to negative cash flow and other money issues. Here, we’ve listed down some tips that can help you secure your business’ financial health.

 

Perfect your budgeting skills

It’s impossible to create a good financial plan if you don’t have a comprehensive and robust budget. To start, you should take note of the current industry standards and forecast all of your business expenses. In addition, you should also make use of budgeting programs such as Centage and Scoro to further organize your business finance. As time goes on, you can hone your budgeting skills and eventually figure out how to create one that is tailor fit to your business. However, it’s important to remember that your budget is more than just a plan for where you spend your money, but rather a structure that allows you to make rational business decisions.

 

Keep an eye on your business credit score

Your business has a credit rating attached to it. This allows lenders and other financial institutions to gauge your creditworthiness in the event that you apply for a business loan. For this reason, it’s important to monitor your business credit score. Not having good business credit will make it harder for you to access financial products such as mortgages, insurance plans, and business loans. A guide to improving your credit score by Petal Card lists down a few tips to help you develop good business credit, such as keeping balances low, always reviewing credit reports, and setting automatic payment reminders. If you don’t want a lender or bank to deny your business, be sure to keep track of your business credit score.

 

Have an emergency fund

As a business owner, you should learn how to build foresight and be ready to go through slow periods. Despite being a very common occurrence in many small businesses, a lot of owners still fail at getting themselves out of this tough predicament. With that said, you should maintain an emergency fund that will allow your business to run smoothly during prolonged periods of financial distress. Inc. Magazine’s article on building a business emergency fund advises that you need to set a monthly goal, cut back on frivolous spending, and make sure that your money is easily accessible when saving up for money for emergency purposes. If you don’t know how much you should stash in an emergency fund, check your budget and look at how much working capital you need per month, then multiply that number by six. That will be enough to cover your business for at least six months during hard times.

In a previous post titled ‘Why Running a Small Business is So Difficult’, we acknowledge that running a small business is no easy task. If you want to find success with your business venture down the line, be sure to heed the advice we’ve discussed above and learn how to be better at handling your business finances.

7 Tips to Better Run a Rental Property Business

Rentals

Managing a rental property is one way to earn money. Many are eager to invest in a property but seem to have doubts about whether or not to step into the real estate market. The earnings you’ll get from a rental property can be a good source you could utilize for your needs.  These include supporting your mortgage payments, financing your travel plans, or saving for an emergency fund.  

However, managing a property is not a simple task, especially if it’s your first time handling one. Once you become a landlord, it brings along a lot of tasks and responsibilities. Some of these tasks include finding tenants for your rental space, providing regular maintenance, monitoring rental payments, communicating with vendors on behalf of your tenants, and many more.

 If you find the responsibility of being a landlord too much to handle, checking out a reliable condo property management service is a good starting point.  This is so you’ll be working with a professional to tackle the management task. 

Also, if you want to earn a decent income from your rental property, it’s crucial to manage it properly. Remember it requires knowledge and some preparation to make your tasks as a landlord effortless to manage. Here are several tips to make the management of a rental property easier to deal with. 

 

1. Create Engaging Listings For Your Rental Property 

The rental market can be highly competitive. With this in mind, many landlords form an effort to advertise their properties.  This is to make them look appealing to potential tenants.  

One way to make your rental property stand out from the competition is to take professional photos so you can readily highlight all the best features. The reason for this approach is to draw in potential renters and eventually gain an income.  

Additionally, ensure you’re providing truthful information about your rental property. Once potential tenants decide to check out the property, they’ll see exactly what was on the listings. Avoid making false accommodations or talking about the features not present on your property.

 

2. Thorough Screening of Tenants 

For most landlords, the root of one of the most challenging issues when managing a rental property is finding genuine and respectful tenants.  Remember that your tenants are the ones who provide you with income. They are also responsible for keeping your property in good shape while they’re living in it. With this in mind, you would want the best when approving tenants who’ll move in. Additionally, your tenants are a reflection of you as a property owner. 

If you want to find the right tenant for your rental property, you must take extra care during the screening process.  A move to consider is getting a rental history report to gain an insight on good tenants. When a tenant has eviction issues, consider it a red flag and look for other suitable candidates. Don’t forget about the legal restrictions to follow during the screening, so make sure to know these before accepting or reviewing any applicants.  

 

3. Stay Up to Date With the Landlord and Tenant Laws 

The landlord and tenant laws can be complex. It could be challenging to go through this process.   Although it’s crucial to do so if you intend to carry out your job and earn money the right way. 

If you want to ensure you’re managing your rental property correctly and in compliance with the rules, consider hiring a property lawyer to assist you in drafting legal documents and tenant applications.   

 

4. Provide a Convenient Payment Method 

When you have good tenants, most are eager to pay their rent on time. One way to let it happen is to make the payment method readily accessible and manageable for them.  

In this digital age, online rent payments work best for most tenants. You could set up an online rental collection system yourself or hire a professional to do it for you.  You may also monitor the flow of payments as they come in at a given schedule.  

 

5. Ensure Clear Communications 

When a misunderstanding occurs, it’s usually the cause of almost all personal and professional issues. Whether you give out incorrect instructions or vague representation, miscommunication can lead to various problems that are mostly preventable.  

In such instances, landlords are likely to experience them at some point. As the landlord, it’s your responsibility to convey late rental penalties or address maintenance issues. Remember, it’s your job to work with your tenants efficiently and professionally. Whether you’re communicating via email or phone, it’s important to make yourself available and always communicate clearly at all times.  

 

6. Deal With Concerns Right Away 

An unhappy tenant can lower your chances of getting a longer lease extension.  For example, you have a tenant who has been trying to get a leak fixed for almost two weeks only to get unanswered calls and emails.  They may end up being disappointed with how you’re managing your rental property.  

With this in mind, you need to deal with maintenance issues in your rental property right away. Timely action will ensure you care for your tenants. Also, it shows your concern about the home they live in along with their satisfaction and welfare.  

If you can’t handle an issue right away, communicate immediately and provide alternative solutions if possible. If your tenants feel confident that their landlord is doing everything to fix a problem, they’re more likely to be satisfied with both their home and your management. 

 

7. Be Proactive During Lease Renewal Time 

If you don’t have other plans for your rental property and consider renewing the lease, you should inform your tenants ahead of time. Once you bring up the subject of a lease renewal, as soon as possible, you and the tenants will have enough time to think about the future and make appropriate decisions.  

Additionally, it’ll let them know you’re interested in having them around and you value their thoughts. If the tenants decide to leave, it’ll provide you with enough time to start an advertising campaign for new tenants. 

 

Final Thoughts 

When you’re managing a rental property for the first time, it can be challenging. Although, you’ll eventually master the ropes in no time. With the help of these tips, they’ll serve as a guide to help you manage your rental property in the best possible way.

5 Questions to Ask If You’re Considering Taking Out a Business Loan

Business Loan

As a business owner, you may require an adequate amount of capital to shoulder various expenses. For instance, you may need funds to purchase inventory or raw materials, finance an expansion opportunity, or cover emergencies. This is where applying for a business loan makes a lot of sense.  

Essentially, a business loan refers to a type of loan used for business purposes, such as to finance capital expenditures and operating costs. However, like other financial services, navigating a business loan can be confusing and overwhelming, especially if you don’t know what to do in the first place.  

Before you get started with your application, below are five questions to ask yourself if you’re taking out a business loan: 

 

1. Why Do I Need a Business Loan? 

This is one of the essential questions you should ask yourself before applying for a loan for your business. Typically, having a clear idea of why your company needs funds can help you make sound financial decisions. The more you’re aware of your loan purpose, the more you can determine the amount you need, the type of business loan that suits your needs, the payment terms you want, and many more.  

For example, if you’re taking out a business loan to finance growth/expansion opportunities, then you need a considerable amount of money to cover the expenses adequately. Also, given the amount involved, you should consider the payment terms and the ability of your cash flow to handle the repayments.  

Thus, to ensure you make the right financing decision for your business, always ask yourself why you need a loan in the first place. That way, you can find out what’s best for the financial aspect of your business.  

 

2. What Is the True Cost of the Loan? 

This is another question to ask before getting a loan. Generally, a business loan doesn’t just include the principal amount and the interest rates. There are also other fees that can affect the overall costs of the loan, such as the appraisal costs, processing fees, registration fees, legal and accounting fees, and many more.  

Because of this, it’s essential to ask yourself about the true costs of your business loan to figure out how much exactly you’re repaying the lender. If you’re a bit confused about how these costs work and influence your loan, you can have the lender explain them to you. By doing this, you can determine if you can pay your loan back without causing financial trouble to your company.  

Luckily, many online lenders offer flexible interest rates for small business loans and lower fees. Hence, applying for financing for your business doesn’t have to be costly. All you need to do is conduct thorough research to find the right financing solution that suits your budget.  

 

3. Will I Qualify for a Business Loan? 

Typically, most lenders set some minimum qualification requirements for business loans. As such, it’s crucial to ask yourself whether you can qualify for a loan or not. By understanding your potential lender’s requirements, you can have a better idea of what type of financing your business can be eligible for. Depending on your qualification, the following are two common types of business loans that may be available to you: 

  • Installment loan: It’s a popular type of loan wherein you receive the total amount of the loan proceeds, but the repayments will be made every month, depending on your chosen payment term.  
  • Line of credit loan: It refers to a short-term loan that should be paid back quickly. It’s commonly used to buy inventory and fund working capital and other operating costs.  

As you can see, there are some options to choose from when getting a business loan. However, the financing available to you may be restricted by specific eligibility requirements. For example, if you have a poor personal and business credit score, you may be unable to qualify for a particular loan.  

Therefore, if you want to increase your chances of getting approval, check the lender’s minimum requirements and ask yourself if you’re eligible. If the credit score is the problem, it’s best to build it back up before you file in an application form.  

 

4. How Much Money Do Your Business Needs? 

If you’re planning to take out a business loan, it’s also essential to ask yourself how much money your company needs. Knowing the loan amount you need can affect your business in the long run. For instance, if you borrow less than enough, you may end up getting another loan in a few months, increasing your outstanding debts in the long run.  

However, if you take out more than enough, you may have difficulty paying steep monthly repayments. When this happens, there’s a likelihood your cash flow wouldn’t be able to cope up with your monetary obligations. To avoid this situation, you need to figure out the amount of money you need when thinking about applying for a loan.  

 

5. How Can I Repay the Loan? 

Another question you need to ask yourself is how you can repay your business loan. Generally, your ability to make repayments may depend on your loan terms, including the length of payment and other factors. For example, if you choose a shorter repayment plan, you can take advantage of lower interest rates, and you can pay your business loan as quickly as possible. If you go for a longer term, you’ll deal with high-interest rates and a greater risk of default.  

With that in mind, asking yourself about your ability to repay makes a lot of sense. Doing so allows you to figure out whether your cash flow can handle the repayments or whether you have assets and other collateral properties that can be used to pay your obligations when your business is down.  

 

Bottom Line  

If you think getting a business loan can be one of the ways to fund your business and keep it afloat, you should educate yourself about this financing option and how it can impact your bottom line in the long run. By keeping these questions in mind, you’ll know what to expect before you apply for a loan. Consequently, you can make good financial decisions necessary for your business’ growth and success.

6 Smart Ideas for Building a Strong Employer Brand

Employer Branding

Every company wants to hire the best possible people for each position and is always looking to recruit top talent. And even though many businesses offer great job opportunities, they don’t get nearly enough high-quality applicants because they don’t have a strong employer brand.

Companies with a strong employer brand see 50% more applicants. If you want to attract the right talent, you need to focus on building your employer brand. When you position yourself as a brand people want to work for, you’ll have no issues attracting the right applicants.

And here is how to do that.

 

Utilize social media

Today’s younger generations don’t find jobs as people used to in the old days, and one of the most popular ways of getting hired for the Millennial and Gen Z generations is via social media. In fact, 73% of job seekers between the ages of 18 and 34 found their last job through social media.

Your social media platforms are a great place for you to build your employer brand and give insight into it to favorable talent. You can highlight information that shows what makes your company a great employer and also show appreciation for your current employees across all platforms.

However, before you can utilize social media for building your employer brand, you need to grow your following. Without followers, you can’t reach people. For instance, if you use Instagram as your main platform, you need to learn how to grow Instagram followers who will help your business expand. If you can’t do this on your own, try hiring a marketing agency.

 

Organize lunch and learn programs

A business with a strong employer brand treats its employees right and always finds ways to show appreciation. A great way to treat your employees to a social event that also gives them a chance to learn something new is to organize a lunch and learn program.

Lunch and learns are short programs that take place at the worker’s lunch break during which employees of a company discuss a new strategy or key topics important to the company. They’re a great opportunity for colleagues to bond and share experiences and knowledge.

These programs provide a chance for colleagues to get to know each other on a more personal level, support professional development, and offer a space for discussion. Hoppier has some great lunch and learn program ideas in case you need any inspiration for what to do during these activities.

 

Use current employees as brand ambassadors

You can’t ask for a better brand ambassador than a satisfied employee. The reason why your current employees are great brand ambassadors is that their endorsement is authentic. When potential candidates see how satisfied they are with your company, it will strengthen your employer brand.

The most important thing about using this strategy for strengthening your employer brand is to allow employees to be honest when promoting and recommending your business.

Create a social media campaign that’s centered on individual employees in all departments of your company and let every employee talk about their personal experience with your company. They can talk about what they love about working for you and their favorite perks that come with the job.

 

Interact with potential candidates early on

It’s never too soon to start thinking about the next generation of employees. One of the best ways to make yourself known to potential future employees is to attend university events for your industry where you have a chance to make graduates notice your company.

During these events, you’ll have a chance to present your company and your industry to people who don’t have the necessary experience yet and are looking for guidance. And when the time comes for them to enter the workforce, your company will be the first that comes to their mind.

 

Understand different generations

Generational differences have always been present in all aspects of life, and that includes company culture and employer branding. Within most companies, there are employees from multiple generations, spanning from the baby boomer generation all the way to Gen Z.

Each of these generations has different expectations from their employer, and you need to understand how those expectations differ and find the best ways to cater to them.

For example, while baby boomers and Generation X are used to the classic 9-to-5 workday and prefer it to any other regimen, Millennials and Gen Z like to have a flexible work schedule.

 

Stand out from your competitors

No matter what industry you’re in, you probably have countless competitors looking to hire the same type of people as you are. To make sure you’re the one who gets the best candidates and the best talent, you need to find ways to show why your company is the best choice.

Identify what makes your business so different from all of your competitors. When you figure it out, highlight your differences across your websites, social media pages, and LinkedIn profiles.

 

Final thoughts

Every company wants to have the best employees and hire great talent. But you can only attract the best if you offer great working conditions, an amazing company culture, and most importantly of all, have a strong employer brand. And if you follow the tips you just read about, that is exactly what you will achieve.

Ableism in the Workplace: We Need to Stop Limiting Talent

Disabled man working as an engineer in a factory

Racism and sexism are terms we are all very familiar with and encompass discrimination against someone based on their skin colour or gender. But have you ever heard of ableism? Ableism is discrimination against people with disabilities or those who are perceived to be disabled. Unfortunately, it is rife in the workplace.

 

Ableism in the workplace

A new report from May this year by the International Longevity Centre UK (ILC) – the UK’s think tank on longevity in society – reported that prevalent ableism across the world is excluding a significant number of people from the workplace, particularly as they age. Not only is this unfair discrimination alienating people with disabilities, but it costs employers and the economy.

It’s no secret that a diverse workforce helps create a successful business – so why are so many organisations in the UK failing to embrace this? A review at the end of last year from the UK government reported that in October 2020 to December 2020, there were 2.6 million disabled women in work (an employment rate of 53.1%) and 1.8 million disabled men (an employment rate of 51.3%). For those who didn’t have a disability, the employment rate was 84.2% and 77.8% for men and women, respectively. That is a huge amount of untapped talent in the jobs market.

Companies that promote a positive culture attract and retain the top talent in the job market. By promoting inclusive policies, there will be many benefits beyond attracting top talent from a diverse candidate pool. This includes eliminating offensive and close-minded decision-making, providing a fresh perspective on something that everyone else is looking at in the same way, providing a better platform for innovation and creativity, and an improved customer experience.

Employees must feel comfortable reaching their potential, which should be supported by diverse and inclusive policies. Sadly, not all companies do that, and they are paying the price – Jaguar faced an employment tribunal following a genderfluid employee receiving abuse and a lack of support at work.

 

Disability employment gap has decreased, but not enough

Although the Equality Act 2010 was introduced to set a minimum standard, a genuine diversity

policy goes beyond legal compliance and adds true value to a company while driving workforce wellbeing. A 2019 study of 140 U.S. companies found that companies with inclusive working environments for disabled employees generated an average of 28% higher revenue than those who didn’t. With the U.S. and UK having similar cultures, it is reasonable to assume similar statistics here.

While the disability employment rate gap is decreasing when comparing 1998 figures to 2019, it is still significantly high.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that a higher proportion of disabled employees were made redundant than employees who are not disabled during the COVID-19 pandemic. Between the months of July and November 2020, 21.1 per thousand disabled employees were made redundant in comparison to 13 per thousand employees who are not disabled.

 

Diversify the board

Often among businesses, board members play it safe and promote and hire similar candidates – which can limit a company and render its approach monotonous. Executives should improve their recruitment methods and increase the pool of potential candidates. By seeking diverse workers, they will better utilise the talent pool.

Following research from KPMG and Purple, boards are being encouraged to assign board members and senior managers to those with disabilities in a bid to encourage a commitment to supporting employees with disabilities and uncovering new talent. This will help stimulate the employment and promotion of more people with disabilities and hopefully encourage other businesses to follow suit.

Tony Cates, KPMG Vice-Chair and Board-level Disability Champion, said: “We have set this target because we believe what gets measured gets managed. We’ve seen how the introduction of the mandatory gender pay gap reporting requirements has pushed that issue up the boardroom agenda.

“We have a real opportunity now to use that focus and energy to engage the board in a broader debate around diversity and inclusion – and the opportunities opening up workplaces up and down the country to more talented people can bring for UK plc.”

Previously, to combat gender inequality in the boardroom, in 2008 Norway introduced legislation where companies were required to appoint at least 40% of the directorship positions to women. The same sort of successful regulation could be applied to the issue of disability in the workplace.

 

Diversity training

It’s important to remember that ableism exists in the workplace today and must also be combatted to create a safe and inclusive environment. Ableism isn’t always overt with blatant remarks and aggression. It can be covert and displayed through microaggressions and prejudice. This can be just as damaging for those with disabilities who may feel uncomfortable raising the issue. Addressing the way people think can be done through inclusivity and diversity training at work so colleagues know what isn’t acceptable and how their behaviours and words can actually be offensive. People need to be called out on their biases and learn to become better. In the 21st century, there is no excuse for covert ableism and microaggressions.

Workplaces can be adapted to be disability friendly. Even minor adjustments can create big improvements to a person’s day-to-day work life. Accommodating the needs of others will cultivate productivity and creativity, as happy workers are harder workers. Speak to employees to see how you can upgrade your office.

It’s important for industries to learn to be inclusive to those with disabilities, not just to generate more profit but to encourage others to follow suit in helping create a new normal in the world of work. Businesses will stagnate when everyone thinks the same way and is limited by their own experiences. Employing workers from diverse backgrounds and demographics will add new perspectives – an invaluable resource for companies. Sectors should take a look at what the Top 50 Inclusive Companies are doing to adopt a culture of inclusivity and diversity.

Pronoun Badges: Supporting Gender Identity in the Workplace

Illistration of a person with a badge with their

Equality and inclusivity are high on any workplace’s priorities — after all, employers are keen to make sure their workers are comfortable and happy in order to be more productive. However, according to Totaljobs, 60% of transgender employees have suffered workplace discrimination. The same study revealed over half of trans workers felt they had to hide the fact they are trans from their co-workers.

More positively, 51% of those asked said they felt that acceptance of transgender workers had improved recently, thanks to media coverage. Yet, there is still work to be done, as Totaljobs’ report found that transgender workers felt the biggest challenges remaining in the UK workplace are:

  • No support
  • Misgendering
  • Discrimination
  • Lack of awareness
  • Transphobia
  • Rejection
  • Fear

Let’s look into the issue of transgender support in the workplace, and how employers can implement measures to ensure their company truly has a foundation of equality.

 

A quick guide to gender identity

It’s important to understand the concept of gender identity — it goes beyond merely female or male. ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) offered a guide to gender identity terms, covering transgender, gender fluidity, and non-binary terms:

  • Trans — this is often used as an umbrella term. It is used to describe a person who does not identify as the gender assigned to them at birth. Not identifying as your birth gender does not necessarily mean you identify as the opposite gender
  • Transgender — someone who is transgender does not identify with the gender assigned to them at birth. For example, someone who was born biologically male, but identifies as female, would be transgender. Note that this term is usually preferred over the older term
  • Cisgender — this term refers to someone who identifies with the gender assigned to them at birth. So, someone who was born biologically male and identifies as a male would be regarded as cisgender
  • Non-binary — someone who is non-binary does not identify as male or female, identifies as both, or views their gender as something else
  • Gender-fluid is often considered to be related to non-binary, in that someone who is gender-fluid may feel more masculine or more feminine from one day to the next
  • Intersex — being intersex means a person is born with both male and female biological traits, such as chromosomes, hormones, or genitals. This term replaces the now out-of-favour term

 

Misgendering

Misgendering a transgender person may be unintentional for the most part, but it signals part of a greater problem — assuming something about a person based on their appearance, manner, or voice. Using the wrong pronouns for someone can be highly upsetting, and wholly disrespectful in the event that misgendering has occurred out of a refusal to use specified pronouns.

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) points out that using pronouns is one of the most personal ways to address someone. If someone requests that you use a different pronoun for them, it is the most basic form of acceptance to use them.

It’s important to know someone’s preferred pronouns, but it can feel a little awkward asking. But it can be worse finding out via misgendering. HRC advises creating opportunities to ask about a person’s pronouns, such as during the interviewing process, or during induction paperwork by having a box to declare which pronouns would be preferred. If your company has an online profile for employees, allowing them to select pronouns on their profile can be helpful too.

Another effective way to prevent misgendering problems is the use of pronoun badges. Brighton & Hove City Council recently made the news when it announced its staff would be able to choose pronoun badges to wear at work. The move has also been used by the University of Sussex, which distributed pronoun badges during International Transgender Day of Visibility. The badges, which were optional to wear, included a range of pronouns, plus a blank version for people to fill in their own choice if needed.

 

Pronouns: he, she, they, zie, ve…

If you’re planning to have pronoun badges available in the workplace, you need to know which pronouns might be required. After all, he/she does not cover non-binary employees. The option to have a customizable badge left blank for employees to fill in is fine, but it’s worth familiarising yourself with some of the pronouns most commonly used. The University of Wisconsin’s LGBT Resource Center provides an excellent table of pronouns, with reference to he/she pronouns and their gender-neutral alternatives:

He / She Him / Her His / Her His / Hers Himself / Herself
They
Them
Their
Theirs
Themself
Ze or Zie
Hir
Hir
Hirs
Hirself
Zie
Zim
Zir
Zis
Zieself
Xe
Xem
Xyr
Xyrs
Xemself
Ve
Ver
Vis
Ver
Verself
E
Em
Eir
Eirs
Emself

This list isn’t inclusive, and it may seem like a lot of variation to start with. But if you look a little closer, you’ll see a lot of them follow a similar pattern of endings, or sound similar. It’s really a very small task to address someone correctly, and it makes a huge difference in comfort and support.

 

Workplace support of trans workers

Issues with trans and intersex employee support stem from a variety of observed sources, such as:

  • Stigma concerning trans issues
  • Leaving it up to trans employees to push for changes in the workplace
  • Lack of consideration regarding toilets, uniforms and data management
  • Poor manager training — managers who lack an understanding of the needs of trans employees

There are plenty of ways a workplace can support trans workers, and most of it is simply down to courtesy, respect and awareness. Like Brighton & Hove City Council, you could choose to have optional pronoun button badges offered at work to help trans employees with a quick and easy way to communicate their pronouns. You could also run events in the office to raise awareness or collaborate with an LGBT charity to help with this. But a sense of workplace support needs to be integral to the company’s attitude, as a whole.

For example, ACAS highlights the need to make sure written policies are trans-inclusive. According to its research, only 20% of leading LGBT+ charity Stonewall’s Top 100 employers have trans-specific HR policies. Having policies regarding gender reassignment can help support workers who need to change their gender within the workplace by having processes in place to update records and informing colleagues where needed. Even something as simple as a review of terminology in processes can help — if your written policies are old, they may contain out-of-date terminology that needs an update.

One of the biggest workplace supports, however, is arguably the simplest and yet the hardest: having acceptance be the ‘norm’. Speaking in ACAS’ study, one manager noted that policies were not enough, rather, there has to be a strong sense of work culture — that acceptance of people of any and all genders is simply how this company works day-to-day.

It’s hugely important to be aware that your workplace may indeed have transgender, gender-fluid, intersex, or non-binary staff without you being aware. Not everyone will feel comfortable coming out, so it’s important to encourage the right attitude of acceptance and support within the workplace even if you think there’s no one in your workforce who is trans — you simply can’t assume.

Another way to encourage a healthy work environment could be to set up a support network within the business. This could be as simple as having a representative as a go-to person to confidentially talk to about any concerns or worries they feel too anxious to go to their line manager about. ACAS notes that while having a transgender member of staff volunteer to be this representative is hugely beneficial, care must be taken not to overwork them in terms of expecting them to be at every event or meeting regarding the matter. Cisgender allies are also able to provide this support, with the right approach, even without personal experience.

 

Is your workplace truly inclusive and supportive of all walks of life? What changes can you make to ensure your company is welcoming for everyone you hire? It’s always good to do a review of workplace practices to make sure they’re still working for everyone, so why not take another look and see if you can support the trans community more effectively within your business?