A guest post by Kayla Curry
If you’re a business owner and you’re just getting started, chances are you haven’t hired your first employee or virtual assistant yet. As your business grows, you’ll need to bring on more and more people to help you with the operations you’re currently running yourself.
While the process of hiring help can be intimidating and you may not know where to begin, you can’t let that hold you back.
Think back to your first job, or your last job working for someone else. How did your employer treat you? How did they handle things like communication, time-tracking, and other systems and policies?
I often think about my employment past and use it to make my business better. My first “real” job was at a local park where we sold concessions and ran rides for kids. I was 16 at the time and a few years later, I was the assistant manager at that same park.
It was that position, and other positions I’ve held in the online world more recently, that taught me how to make sure an employee has everything they need to be successful in their new job or career and I’d like to pass that knowledge on to you today.
A clear set of policies, processes, and systems between an employer and their employee is crucial to building a team that works well. Whether you’re a brick and mortar business owner, or someone who does everything online, there will come a time when you need help. I put this list together to help guide you as you prepare to hire your first employee or virtual assistant. Here are the 7 things you need to set up before hiring:
Before you do anything, you need to sit down and come up with a list of what you expect from your employee. Ask yourself these questions:
- What tasks will my employee be responsible for?
- What tasks will they rely on me to do before they can complete their work?
- What rules and guidelines will I impose on my employees? (Dress code, moral code, level of professionalism.)
Budget, Wages, and Legal Set Up
After you have your expectations set, you’ll know about how much their work is worth to you. From there, you can decide how many hours per week you’ll need them and what their wages will be for that work.
Next, you’ll need to get all the legal things squared away. Hiring an employee may mean different things in different states and countries, so be sure to check out the employment laws where you live.
If you’re hiring a virtual assistant, they would be considered a sub-contractor instead of an employee. This means there are different rules for hiring and you’ll have to check to see what procedures you may need to follow depending on where you live. Talk to your tax professionals and attorneys about how to do this.
If you’re hiring an employee, you don’t have to worry about contracts as much. You may want to have them sign your code of conduct or something along those lines, but chances are you won’t have to worry about an actual contract if you’re paying hourly wages. If they will be dealing with sensitive information, you may need to have them sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement). If that’s not the case, focus on making sure you’re compliant with the employment forms required by law.
If you’re hiring a virtual assistant, a contract is essential. You can likely find a template online and some virtual assistants keep their own, but if you have specific expectations, it’s important to have your own made up and have it looked over by an attorney.
Contracts can save you headaches down the line if the sub-contractor takes your money but doesn’t do the work. It’s also important to keep records of the work you assign to your sub-contractor and monitor when the work is completed–but we’ll get to that soon.
If your employee or virtual assistant is working on an hourly wage or working only a set number of hours per week or month, you’ll need a time-tracking system.
There are a number of ways you can do this. Programs online will allow you to monitor and easily calculate hours for wages. Toggl is the free program we used back when I was a virtual assistant, but if you want one that can’t be tampered with, you’ll likely have to pay for the software.
You can also go old-fashioned or not-so-old-fashioned and get an actual time clock. The latest in time clock technology uses fingerprints to ID the user.
Communication is the most important part of the relationship between you and your employee. Make sure your communication system is simple, comprehensive, and organized.
If you’re running a brick and mortar and want to go analog (paper) with your communication, I suggest using a notebook as a daily log. Have employees log any pertinent information into the book and any employee coming onto their shift can read through the log to see what they missed and what they need to know.
If you’re hiring a virtual assistant or want to go digital, I suggest using Slack. They have a free basic plan that will allow you to communicate with your team in categorized channels. It’s like having a social media platform just for you and your employees. There’s also the ability to direct message team members so a conversation can be private if needed.
Processes and Systems
If you own a brick and mortar, it’s important to have a notebook with your processes and systems typed out for easy reference. If an employee is unsure how to do a certain task or how to do it efficiently, a book with systems and processes will save you time and money.
This notebook can be introduced during training and you can even use it to develop training materials like quizzes and videos down the line.
An online business or a brick and mortar that utilizes digital tools might use Quip to record systems and processes. Quip allows you to add clickable checklists right into the document or spreadsheet. The documents can be shared with your employee, VA, or sub-contractor and used over and over again with easy duplication. They also have a mobile app that seamlessly provides access to all your documents. They also have a basic free plan to start you out.
Task Management System
A good analog system for tracking tasks in a brick and mortar is the “shift sheets” technique. In most businesses, different things need to be done each shift. There are recurring tasks which can be typed up and printed out. The checklist can either be laminated and combined with a dry erase marker to be reused, or printed daily to use and file if you want to track who’s been doing the tasks.
At the bottom of the sheet, you can leave a space for one-time tasks to be written in and completed during that shift. Employees would use their initials to check off an item, so you know who did what.
If you’re hiring a VA or want to use a digital system, you can use Airtable, a free online platform that will allow you to build the perfect task management system for your business. It can also track many other things, so you may want to check it out anyway. If you’re using it to track tasks, you can have one tab for recurring tasks and another for one-time tasks. Assign priorities, dates, and team members to a task. Plus you can comment on each record or task to provide updates to the team.
Access to Relative Company Resources
Employees and virtual assistants will need access to certain tools and resources in order to do their job. Take a look at the list of responsibilities you made when you set up your expectations and use that to determine what your employees will need access to and the best way to give them access without compromising security concerns.
For physical tools and resources such as forms, equipment, and other items, you may need a filing cabinet, cupboard, or back office area to keep these things. Chances are you’ve already got the things in place, you just have to make sure your employee knows where they are and how to access them.
For digital tools and resources, you’ll want to make sure your team has access to the right accounts and files. LastPass is free and can be used to give access to your online accounts. This would come in handy for a social media manager or any sub-contractor that needs access to your personal accounts. File sharing can be done in a number of places. Google Drive is free for up to 15 GB, but there’s also Dropbox and plenty of others. You can set different permissions in all the places I mentioned to suit your needs and control who has access and how they can use the files.
In conclusion, having these systems and protocols in place before you hire an employee or virtual assistant will make life easier for you and your new team member while also saving you time and money in the future. Please make sure you’re doing everything “by the book” when it comes to hiring employees and virtual assistants legally.
Let’s review the steps really quick:
- Come up with your expectations.
- Get budget, wages, and legal things squared away.
- Decide how you’ll track time put in by your new team member.
- Set up proper communication avenues.
- Get processes and systems in order and make them accessible to your team member.
- Decide how you’re going to track delegated tasks.
- Set up secure access to tools, resources, and equipment.
Taking this step in your business is BIG and it can seem intimidating, but if you want your business to grow, this is a necessary step. Once you hire your first team member, you’ll get past that fear and be able to do it over and over again. You might consider talking to someone who has already taken the big step to see what other challenges you might expect.
Have you hired your first employee yet? Are you planning to hire someone soon?
Bio: Kayla Curry is a coach who focuses on productivity, setting goals, starting habits, and boosting confidence. She loves figuring out creative ways to overcome problems. To find out more about Kayla and how she can help you reach your dreams, visit courses.kaylacurry.com.