The Tourism Development Corporation of The Bahamas

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TDC shares HR tips with the small business owner

Over 80% of the businesses in The Bahamas do not have the benefit of on-staff Human Resource Professionals. Literally thousands of Bahamians are operating without a buffer between them and management.

Here are the first three questions and answers to some of the Human Resource issues facing the small business person:

Question 1.

What is the easiest way to fire an employee?

Answer:

There is never an easy way to terminate an employee. No matter how egregious the infraction, or how much the organization cannot financially support the employee, we must always remember that we are dealing with human beings. The three crucial rules that must be respected when severing ties with an employee are:

  • Consult the labour law. Know exactly where both you and the employee stand in light of any challenge to the company’s decision. Sometimes, the employee is unfairly dismissed, and the company is forced to pay.
  • Communicate the message with tact and precision. It becomes more painful to the team member when there is delay and wandering around the process. Swift and decisive action after deep contemplation is always best.
  • Be as kind and respectful as possible throughout the process. Give the employee as much as you can in terms of severance pay, references, words of advice, an exit interview and anything else that will give them closure.

Questions 2.

How do I keep my staff motivated without many opportunities for upward mobility?

Answer:

Most small businesses don’t share the luxury of having hierarchal structures and managerial roles for star employees to aspire to. The small business owner then must find ways to incentivize the diligent employee, encouraging them to remain even in a line staff position.

Some of the ways we suggest include:

  1. create a family environment where people feel a part of the organization. People do not leave what they are vested into.
  2. involve them in decision making. Sometimes people don’t need the title, they just want the opportunity to lead.
  3. compensate their commensurate with their level of productivity. Give them the performance bonus as your company continues to thrive.

Question 3.

How do you now when social media has become more of a distraction than a blessing for employees?

Answer:

In this digital age, no progressive company operates without taking advantage of technology including social media. On the same token, many employees seems engrossed in WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets. There are any number of security controls that employers can use to ensure that social media is not abused by any employee. The organization’s policy manual must speak clearly to social media use and ongoing training efforts must be directed towards encouraging compliance. The best way to ensure that employees do not over use social media is to give them meaningful work assignments. When employees have clearly defined deliverables that they are held accountable for producing, they will find less time to be idle.

Web Development Tips

Taking your business online and utilizing a website that allows customers to access your goods and services is no longer a high technical challenge. In fact, globally, most companies that have a physical store have already made strides to incorporating online sales. Having an online presence will open up markets that you otherwise wouldn’t have access to. Making your products available online means taking your brand to the international stage. As exciting as that may seem, there are some dangers to avoid in the process.

 

In order to set up a store that will maximize your chances of attracting customers and making sales, you’ll have to get familiar with a few product page basics.

 

Here are seven tips to help you with this:

  1. Display the Right Products

Focusing on things like that will help you to attract more customers and increase traffic to your site. More traffic usually means more sales.

 

  1. Include Accurate Product Descriptions

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when creating an online store is including product descriptions that aren’t very descriptive. An even worse mistake is publishing descriptions that are just plain wrong. Create simple, accurate and customized descriptions for each item.

 

  1. Display the Price

Showing how much your products cost, with up-to-date pricing information, is essential if you don’t want to chase off potential customers. The price that you display must be the price that the customer sees when they finally hit the checkout page.

 

  1. Take Better Pictures

Take better photos to show your products online. Technology has made this incredibly easier to do as smartphone cameras can produce amazing pics, along with smaller file sizes, makes them the ideal choice for taking product photos.

 

  1. Encourage User Reviews

One of the best ways to boost your business is to have happy customers, so don’t be afraid to let your customers express how much they love your products. Sharing genuine user feedback builds trust and gives prospective buyers a sense of what to expect in terms of product quality and customer service. Be sure to train towards exceptional service standards.

 

  1. Make the Most of Your Social Media Presence

Social media is a great advertising tool. The best part is that it can be leveraged as a marketing platform that won’t cost you a dime. Don’t be afraid to encourage your users to reach out via social media channels. If you make your social media presence engaging, your customers will readily use it as a way to get in touch with you. Ensure compatibility between your website and social media platforms.

 

  1. Make it Easy to Buy Stuff

Of all of the functions that your website should serve, one of the most important ones is the checkout step. If your customers have reached that point in the buying process, it’s essential that nothing scares them off at the last minute. Ensure that all of your different payment gateways work perfectly, and that any promotions and discounts are working properly.

 

Leverage Your Social Media Handles

Within each company, regardless of size, industry or product and service offerings, people are using social sites to advance business opportunities. Social media use engages employees, both on the social and professional level. Employers need to understand that employees who use social media effectively – and positively – are an important asset to the company brand.

Eighty-eight per cent of employees use at least one social media site for personal use, while 50 per cent post messages, pictures or videos about their employer on social media, according to Weber Shandwick’s study. The research further indicates that most employers do not encourage their employees to use social media but, for those that do, they see an almost immediate increase in revenue. As social media usage has become a global phenomenon, trends in the Bahamian context are likely quite similar.

The lesson to take away from this information is that the more we encourage employees to use social media, the more they will share and the greater the returns for the business. How do we accomplish this goal and shift the prevailing mindset that social media presence constitutes a waste of man hours? Here are a few suggestions:

Get management buy-in: Some of your company leaders may already use social media, so it is wise to present them with your plan for engagement. Allow the ‘with-it’ leaders to encourage those non-users on the executive team to see the value in properly using social media.

Identify the social media champions on your team: Your employees probably range from very active to minimally active on social media. Why they use it will vary, too. Some may use it for industry or career-related purposes, while others may share jokes or selfies.

Identify and reach out to your most active social media participants, especially those who regularly post work-related content: Ask them what you can do to help them post more company-related content. They may also have ideas on how the company can gain social followers while maintaining relevancy to your audience.

Offer social media training for employees: Employees may be looking for an opportunity to start using social media or deepen their usage. Identify best practices for each channel, including how to set up a good profile and ways to engage those that ‘hit up’ the social media pages.

Enlist the expertise of an outside consultant, your current social media manager or your most active social employees to lead social training or best practices sessions. Finally, be sure to clearly outline company policies regarding responsible social media presence and the sharing of confidential information.

Give employees material to share: From company websites and blogs to internal newsletters, let employees know where to find and share news. Everything from company awards, job openings and good press mentions give the company the positive public coverage it needs. Include shareable text and links, Twitter-ready posts, hashtags and uploadable images.

Engage: Acknowledge employees who post about your company by re-sharing, commenting or liking their posts on social media. This public conversation creates value for both you and your employees. To keep track of social activity, consider using available monitoring tools.

Be real and personal: Social media updates should not sound like they were written by a corporate-speaking robot. Translate corporate efforts and company values into simple, real-world language to ensure you come across on social media with an authentic voice. Speak the language of the generation your business targets.

Experiment: Social media best practices and platforms are constantly evolving. Whenever a new feature is announced, brainstorm ways to get employees involved. Do no be afraid to try out new or underused social platforms.

Bring new employees and social media-hesitant employees along. As they come on board, be sure to let new employees know about your social media efforts and how they can get involved in amplifying your company message and brand to company followers, prospects and customers.

Nuggets for Business Success

Goal setting is one of the most important activities you can do in your small business, regardless of how old your business is, where you are located, how profitable it is, or what you sell. Goals help you stay focused and they can prevent your business from becoming stagnant.

In the midst of your planning, here are 5 basic tips for staying ahead of the game.

  1. Ramp up productivity. This productivity refers not only to the production of goods and services, but also the productivity of your team. You can become more productive by eliminating distractions during the work day, improving the way you use business tools.
  2. Reduce or eliminate ongoing business expenses. Unnecessary rent payments, releasing unproductive workers, managing energy sources are just a few ways you can mitigate expenses this year. Be prudent with your spending, you might want to honor diligent employees with some of these savings.
  3. Create a New Customer Service Process. Set a goal that focuses on making your customer service process exceptional, handling customer complaints more effectively, or incorporating customer service into your social media practices. Don’t forget about the power of asking your customers for feedback in order to identify what your business can be doing better. ​
  4. Increase Traffic to Your Business Website or Blog. More website traffic often translates into increased sales and customer loyalty, making this a great goal for small businesses. There are many ways to get more eyes on your website or blog. Start by creating a plan to ramp up your content marketing strategy.

Do a Thorough SWOT Analysis. A SWOT analysis is a tool that helps you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your business, a new product offering and of the competition. It can be used in any stage of business to help you determine what makes your business unique, identify potential new areas of the market that are untapped, and explore what your competition is doing better than you are. Do a SWOT analysis this year as part of a larger process to improve your decision-making ability.