Employing Staff and Types of Employment
When you start a business you’ll most likely be on your own. There's no denying the advantages to pitching up to work on the odd day in your dressing gown and bunny slippers, just because you feel like it. Working on your own means that you don't have to dispense energy worrying about curbing what you say in order to spare hurt feelings. Also, If you want to lie in on Monday after a sheer night of alcoholic abuse, that's fine! There is no one depending on you at work, so you can do whatever you like. Speaking of which, decision making is a whole less stressful when you don’t have to persuade a business partner to agree with you.
As bliss as working on your own sounds, sooner or later you’re going to need or want someone to work with – and yes, that’ll mean showering before work, black shoes replacing the bunny slippers, and consulting your employees before making significant decisions. The upside, though, is that you’ll be able to take a rest from the endless treadmill of entrepreneurship – having an extra pair of hands means that your business can run without you, for a few hours at least, which enables the phones to be answered, emails responded to, and your shop open, all the while you’re queuing up in Starbucks for your morning Frappuccino. What’s more, your relationships with your employees will mostly likely start out as fairly close-knit, and if you even employed half a brain cell into hiring them, they should be competent enough to provide original ideas and perspectives on improving your business. This is incredibly important, as when starting or growing a business, cash-flow (money that is readily available to you) is going to be a constant concern, so often in small businesses employees are squeezed of every last drop of competence, to be applied to challenging areas of your business you do not have the time or energy to invest in.
One problem with employing people is that you’ll be taking on additional responsibility, and God knows you don’t want to carry that burden unless you’re absolutely sure you have to. In addition to considering the feelings of your employees, and the consequences of your actions on your employees, you’ll also have to familiarise yourself with the law, because it turns out that the office banter the lads direct at the female secretary might end up seeing you in court with a hefty fine. And those live wires that have been hanging out of the socket, which you’ve been meaning to fix, will have to be sorted out before employing staff, as it takes one phone call from www.accident-lawyers-for-you.com
, and you’ll to be faced with a fee so big that’ll put your hairs on end.(See what I did there?) Once you’ve become an employer, you’ll be expected to provide a safe and hospitable working environment. This is because once they’ve signed the contract to work for you, your workers will have ‘employee rights’ – even the female ones. Just kidding girls.
Forms of employment
The types of employment fall into three categories: Full time; Part time; and Temporary. The key to a successful business model is the careful balance between your forms of employment. This balance can be, admittedly dubiously, linked to Goldilocks and our three furry friends: too many full time staff, and fixed costs will fly through the roof, cash flow will dry up and you’ll be handing out costly redundancies like candy at Christmas. Too little full time staff, or non-full time staff, and your firm will suffer from being understaffed, which leads to customer dissatisfaction, and lost revenue will ensue from sales your staff were unable to take. The balance between full time staff and part time/temporary staff has to be just right. Such a business that has a just right combination of part time, temporary, and full time staff are able to be dynamic and versatile, which is what it takes to compete in our competitive markets. This ideal business will have a team of full time staff who are motivated by the growth of the business, are well trained, and who genuinely care for the longevity of the business’ health. This business also packs at team of non-full time workers, which enables it to provide a service to all its customers, such that all surges of revenue the business receives is fully exhausted.
One of the biggest difficulties I had when studying this topic was wrapping my head around the difference between temporary staff and part time staff. Isn’t it just two ways of saying the same thing? Turns out they’re not, as it happens. Temporary staff are employed during peak-times of a firm’s revenue traffic. For example, after the general population feels sufficiently guilty for stuffing themselves during the Christmas holiday, Gym businesses find themselves unusually busy, and so they employ temporary staff during this period. However, they wouldn’t want to hire such an excess of staff all year round, as they would only be of use in the first two weeks of January. It makes sense that they’d hire temporary staff in this instance. Part-time staff on the other hand can be employed all year round; however they typically only work weekends when retail businesses find themselves particularly busy. For example: cafes, restaurants, and supermarkets.
Let’s talk about full time employees. Full time employees are the nuts. The bee’s knees. The Business. Why? Because they’re the most committed employees you’re going to have. They’ll work above and beyond what’s required of them, and when times are tough you can rely on your full time employees to pull the extra weight. Full timers will sweet talk your customers and develop friendships within the business, which in turn motivates them to work at a higher standard (because who wants to be seen by their mates to be slacking?). The drawbacks about full timers, however, is that they’re expensive, and once a crew has been selected for full-time work, that’s your lot in terms of skill-base and innovative ideas. Chances are they’re going to be on-side for the next year or two, so fresh ideas might be hard to come by after extracting what value they are able to contribute to you.
Where the talent-pools for full time employees are limited and stagnant, over in the part-time pond the waters are brimming with fresh faces and untapped resources. The beauty of part-time employees lies in the fact that they come and go frequently, which means there’s a fairly constant flow of diverse talents and skill entering and leaving the business. Where full-time employees are seen as a talent-pool, think of part-time employees as a talent-stream: there’s not enough time for the water to stagnate – have you ever heard of a stagnant stream? Me neither. It doesn’t even make sense. There are two types of workers: Term-time workers, and Zero hours contracts. Term-time workers are employed during term time (confusing, I know) and are given unpaid leave during school holidays.
Then there are Zero hours contracts, whereby there aren’t any fixed hours which the employee is expected to work, but the hours worked changes as demand does - basically the employer’s way of saying, “When I need you, I’ll let you know. Ok champ?” When starting a business, part-time employees is the way that to go, as it enables the business to grow slowly without having to be weighed down by the additional fixed costs that’ll come as a result of employing full time staff. Aside from the flexibility of part-time staff, broadening your scope of employment to them is also a great way to reach a wider pool of labour, as you’d attract potential employees that would not be accessible if you were just gunning for full timers. This is because there’s a huge segment of the employee market that have other commitments, such as family affairs, studying, or day-long World of Warcraft raids. Sadly though, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows on the part-time front either. The administration that is required for part-time employees is no easier than that for full time-employees, for example it’s no quicker to administer a part time salary than a full-time one. Also, you know how I said that full-timers are quick and capable of sweet talking customers? That isn’t the case for part-timers. It takes a great deal of time to know your firm’s customers, and given that part-time employees aren’t around for very long, they won’t have the time nor the inclination to develop close relationships with your customers. It’s also worth noting that part-time employees have the same rights are full-timers. Would you believe it? Anyway, what this comes down to is that as a business you’ll have less flexibility than you would have done a few years ago with part-timers. (Flexibility is a euphemism for firing them because you were in a bad mood that day.)
The last in the trio of employee’s are the temporary employees - think of these as the final addition to the just right repertoire; the stabilisers for the business. Once a business has employed its full-time staff, and put in place its part-time staff, if it still needs additional staff during seasonal hotspots for example, then it’ll call on temporary employees to fill in the blanks. Another use for Temporary staff is when a business undertakes a new project for a finite about a time, for instance: installing a new IT system which will need designing and made familiar within the firm. This will mean a period of solid work, but once it’s done, it’s done, you know? Once the project has been done and dusted, the business will be left with fifteen computer geeks twiddling their thumbs, which it clearly doesn’t want, so they’ll be working under a temporary contract.
I just talked about temporary staff filling in the blanks. Another way in which they do this is when one of your full-time staff take leave for an extended period of time. For example, say your lead designer called in pregnant, because you didn’t notice before, and she’ll be taking her maternity leave. You don’t want to fire her and employ another designer, because: A) You can’t. That’s illegal. B) Your current lead designer is the nuts, and you don’t want to lose her. You can see where I’m going with this I hope - you’d employ a temporary designer to fill in for her while she’s off wobbling around at home, craving peanut butter, chocolate and jam on toast and such. Here’s the thing, though - say your business is in the service industry - your customers may not like the changing workforce. If your employees' personalities play a role in adding value to your business, then you can imagine how getting ‘some temp’ to fill in for your star 'all-singing-all-dancing' salesperson won’t exactly be a perfect replacement. Your temporary employee won’t have the experience, or the motivation, to do as good a job as your permanent employee will. Also, say there’s a really tricky piece of technicality in working your office printer; it’s old, but you can’t afford a new one, so you’re employees just deal with it. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, all your documents which you’ve asked to be printed turn out smudged and crap. You’re pissed, and so you should be, because you’ve told the printing department three times how to work the printer. It’s not rocket science, so what the hell’s going on? You take a trip to the printing office, shout at the printing clerk for the fourth time, tell him how to do it, for the fourth time, and threaten him with a dismissal if single piece of your documents ends up faulty. Later that day, your secretary knocks on your office door, and just lets you know that, “The boy you shouted at earlier today, he’s a temporary replacement for our last clerk, who took leave a week ago.” You realise that by accident you’ve lost track of what you’ve said to which employees, because they’re constantly changing. And now you look like a prat in front of all your employees. Constant changeover of temporary employees can make communication within the business more difficult.
Consultants and advisors are grouped together as a forth type of employment (what do you mean I said there was only three?), however they’re not exactly related to the aforementioned forms of employment – consider the relationship between this form of employment and the above, as you would yourself and your cousin second-removed, if at all related. I don’t know my second removed cousin, do you? No? Exactly. Consultants and advisors are used in rare situations where your firm is undergoing a project of some kind, and they need specialist advice and skills in order to see it through. For example, let’s say that a firm from the UK wants to expand their business to China, the firm will most likely hire an advisor to give them a few pointers and a step in the right direction, because it’ll be out of line with the Chinese customs and ‘how we do things round here’ vibe. The problem with consultants and advisors is that they usually 1) are ridiculously expensive and 2) do not know the firm as well as you or your employees do, so their advice may not be entirely appropriate. Take this fictitious scenario for example:
Innocent Smoothies: “We’re having trouble maintaining our profit margin after expanding to America.”
Advisor: “It’s simple, just stop using expensive natural ingredients and replace them with natural-tasting chemicals, your customers won’t even taste the difference. Your unit costs will more than half themselves. You’ll be laughing.”
Innocent Smoothies: “Well yeah there’s that…but that’s not how we do things round here. We’re a green company.”
Advisor: “Look, do you want to increase your bottom line or not? I’m not paid £500 an hour to worry about your airy-fairy moral high ground.”
It probably wouldn’t be as exaggerated as that, but the principle’s there, and that’s what matters. Advisors aren’t in tune with the company’s ethics and vision, as they’d usually only be working for them for a couple of months before moving on to a different company. Given this, you should be aware that you may not receive the most sound advice, so you should really consider the implications of what you are advised to do by the consultant or advisor
You can read more employment here:
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