All Posts By

Signe Pihlstrand

ADVANTAGES OF HIRING REMOTE EMPLOYEES

By | Diary of a Remote Company, Remote Work

NEW YORK, (November 1, 2021) – Signe Pihlstrand, SanovaWorks Vice President

Does Your Company Hire Remote Employees?

Results Matter

SanovaWorks functions with a Results Only Work Environment.  When we created this policy almost a decade ago, the benefits we were anticipating took a little time to emerge. The biggest advantage under our new policy was hiring remote employees. The entire process differed from what we’d experienced in the past, hiring only from our local talent pool. We were able to staff a fully remote Team and thrive over the past decade. Fast forward to the past year and a half, since the pandemic hit, we started to see other companies adapt to a remote workforce. We responded with a series called Diary of a Remote Company, our own company’s insights in how to manage teams, and normalize video chatting.

Creating a Remote Company

First, there are more applicants – considerably more. We were already inundated with every job post, but opening up the search to include anyone that can attend meetings during Eastern Standard Time makes a dramatic difference. We didn’t just have more candidates to choose from, we had many more viable candidates to choose from. For every job opening we have, there is a certain percentage of applicants that apply that are not qualified. Another percentage has applied for the wrong position – responded to the wrong ad. Then, add all of the applicants with letters and resumes full of typos. And then all of the spam responses from recruiting companies. What we are left with is often a much smaller group than we had hoped for.

When we began to hire a fully remote team, we had less of the above percentages, and more in the “keeper pool.” We now get a very large percentage of feasible, quality applicants that have read the ad, have relevant experience, have responded with a clear, well-written resume, and if we’re lucky, include a cover letter that tells us even more about them and how they fit with the role, and helps set them apart from the rest of the group. For sure a difference is because of the numbers – more applicants, more percentage of each group, including the “yes” list. But we can’t help but notice that the percentage of viable candidates is disproportionately larger than the others. More of the applicants make the effort, and more make the cut.

Limitless Location

We focus on finding the very best people for our positions and we are not limited by location. And we are thrilled with our team members. They have varying backgrounds and skillsets, but what they have in common is that they are absolute pros at what they do, they are dispersed across the country, and we feel lucky to have found them.

Does Your Company Hire Remote Employees?

I understand all industries can’t go this route. Retail, or any company that caters to the public, for example. What experiences have you had with remote staffing?

If your industry allows, consider hiring remote workers. Recent studies show employees that who work remote or are allowed the flexibility of working remotely some of the time, are more satisfied in their jobs, less likely to quit, and are often more productive than their in-office counterparts.

And on top of this:

  • As I illustrated above, employing remote staff allows companies to use a global talent pool to fill their open positions, which provides a greater chance of finding qualified, talented and experienced candidates.
  • Employees are able to save money on work wardrobe, and eating breakfast and lunches out – and are more apt to make coffee at home instead of spending way too much for their morning joe.
  • Employees save on commuting costs, and the time it saves them results in a greater work-life balance.
  • It’s Green! Reducing the number of commuters saves fuel, reduces vehicle carbon emissions and traffic congestion.
  • Absenteeism is reduced  – employees can work in any sort of weather – snow and ice can’t keep them from coming in to work. And in general, remote workers are absent from work less: a recent study found that the sickness absence rate for remote workers was 0.9% on average compared to 2.2% who work in an office.
  • Hiring remote staff is a great way for companies that want to expand their workforce, but do not have the office space to bring in any new employees. This allows companies to grow without the increase in added overhead of acquiring additional space.

All the best,

Signe

Signe Pihlstrand, SanovaWorks Vice President

BUILD A CULTURE OF APPRECIATION

By | Team Sanova

NEW YORK, (October 22, 2021) – Signe Pihlstrand, SanovaWorks Vice President

What do employees want? Other than summer Fridays? They want to feel appreciated at work. They want to feel important, to their team, to their manager, to the company. One way to do this is with feedback.

Feedback vs. being office buddies

Feedback is the most important aspect of employee growth. It’s not difficult to implement a process for feedback. And, you likely think you are giving feedback but you aren’t–at least as far as your employees are concerned. Being friendly or becoming office buddies with your team is not the same thing. Having a great relationship with your employees is great, but that’s not feedback. Managers often make this mistake and think because everyone gets along so well, that employees know they are appreciated, and they aren’t getting the feedback for growth they want and deserve.

There have been countless studies and surveys on it – employees say they want more meaningful feedback, more interaction with their managers on how they are doing, whether it’s positive or constructive. Engaged employees want to know the same things, no matter where they work. How am I doing at my job? How does what I’m doing matter to the company? Is my manager happy with my performance?

Appreciation is key

The common denominator is appreciation. When an employee feels appreciated, and that their performance and contributions are recognized, that employee is more likely to feel content at their job. Money and perks may get an employee in the door, but that feeling of contentment is what keeps them in your company.

Our managers are encouraged, and instructed, as part of our management program, and as part of employees’ development, to give regular feedback to their employees, both positive and constructive. Remember, constructive feedback is important, to not only steer in the right direction, but to show that you are invested and notice what they are doing – that you care about their development in their careers, and as part of the company.

Company culture as an environment of appreciation

Additionally, we try to foster an environment where people appreciate each other. We’ve created a company culture that feels like we are all connected and support each other. We encourage celebrating being a great employee. Getting shout-outs on Yammer, and being acknowledged for something you did, and knowing your manager knows, is a great feeling we like to give our Team.

How does your company promote an appreciative environment? Are your managers providing enough feedback to their teams? Are you?

Tip: If you’re not in the habit – start! Hint: a huge key to good feedback is being specific. Yes, “Hey, just wanted to let you know you did a great job on Project X” is terrific to hear. But, “Hey, that work you did on Project X was really amazing. Thank you for spending that extra time to outline all of those key points for the client. I really think that made the difference in the end.” sounds way better, doesn’t it? The more specific it is, the more impact it will have.

Try it now. Did one of your employees do something today that you were happy about? Or, did you hear about something really great that they did? Go and tell them.

All the best,

Signe

Signe Pihlstrand, SanovaWorks Vice President

ARE YOU PROMOTING FOR THE WRONG REASONS?

By | Team Sanova

NEW YORK, (October 22, 2020) – Signe Pihlstrand, SanovaWorks Vice President

One of the biggest mistakes companies can make is to promote someone to manager or leader simply because they are good at their job. Equating solid job skills in one position to success in a different position doesn’t always result in success. It’s wonderful when someone is good at their job. You have this employee, they get the job done, they are reliable, others like working with them. A management spot opens up, and you want to give it to them – could be for many different reasons which I will discuss below – but please, think twice. All of this does not mean that they will thrive this same way in another role with greater or different responsibilities.

This is a lesson that we have had to learn over the years, as we grow and create more management positions. Everyone is not cut out to be a manager or a leader. Some people are meant to be great employees, great team members, great workers. (And there’s nothing wrong with that.) With our emphasis on development – everyone’s one-on-ones with their managers each week are called “Development Meetings” – we foster leadership qualities in all of our employees, regardless of role. We are always on the lookout for those who display a capacity for leadership. We build on these skills, developing our future leaders, and understanding our employee’s abilities and ambitions.

A manager is a critical position in any company. It is not something to be taken lightly, and many companies find themselves with major problems because they did just that – took it too lightly and promoted someone for the wrong reasons. Managers make crucial decisions that impact many aspects of a company, and the trickle-down of poor decisions affect so many things, progress, morale, and bottom lines. Bad managers affect interdepartmental relations, and employee growth and performance. So why do companies fall into this trap?

See if any of these sound familiar to you, or resemble a not-so-great promotion decision you’ve made:

  • An employee has been in the same position for a long time. They are dependable, have a strong work ethic, and it’s time for them to move up to management (and you want to do something nice for them).
  • A great employee has specific career and salary goals, and you want to keep them in your company (but they don’t always work smoothly with others, and can be a bit too competitive, but, you’re sure you can make it work).
  • A manager leaves a department, and an employee is the only one that understands everything about the department, and they do a pretty good job and are smart. It seems like the logical thing to do (and easiest).
  • You promote hiring from within as a practice your company follows. There’s an employee who is dependable and that you like (and it will look good, and will be good for morale).

If any of these decisions are backed with the knowledge that the employee has shown impressive management traits – empathy, amazing communication skills, ability to inspire teammates, strong concern with what is best for the company, not necessarily themselves – then you’ve got a great shot. Just be honest with yourself when making the decision, and don’t be swayed by the wrong reasons. And remember, anyone who will be an adept manager, is already a great leader – no matter their current title.

Has your company promoted for the wrong reasons? What has the fallout been? Do you have specific criteria in place for all management positions?

Promoting someone into a higher position because they’re good at what they did in their prior position, or they have been in the role for a long time, is often the wrong reason. Management roles require an entirely different skill set than other roles. Not everyone is cut out to be a manager. It takes a particular kind of person to successfully manage people, a combination of traits and skills that you must identify in someone before making the big move of promoting them. Be sure to promote for the right reasons, with a lot of time and thought put into the decision, for your company’s sake.

All the best,

Signe

THE TWO MOST IMPORTANT ASPECTS OF COMMUNICATION WHILE WORKING REMOTELY

By | Diary of a Remote Company, Remote Work

NEW YORK, (Mar. 23, 2020) Signe Pihlstrand, Vice President, SanovaWorks

In the wake of COVID-19 and the need for social distancing, many companies are having their staff work from home, and a great portion of them don’t have a routine remote policy or have remote processes set up. SanovaWorks has been successfully 100% remote for over six years now, and we gave ourselves many months of preparing, the better part of a year, before launching our remote work culture. These companies unfortunately don’t have that luxury and need to keep their workforce productive and the wheels rolling with an abrupt start to their remote experience. When I think about the most important things a company can do to lay the right foundation for their remote procedures, the plan for how you will communicate regularly is the first thing that comes to mind. 

Working remotely requires clear communication and clear expectations.

If your team isn’t used to working remotely, you can’t assume that everyone will be on the same page about how to connect. Setting up defined guidelines for when and how you will communicate is so important. 

  1. When – This has the tendency to go both ways: It’s not productive to be bombarded with IMs and emails throughout the day, and radio silence can leave you wondering if anything is getting accomplished. Set up and communicate a clear plan for when you expect to hear from your staff, or colleagues – for instance, a 15-minute touch-base call every morning, emails returned within 24-hours, or maybe a daily end-of-day report from your staff.
  2. How – Pick the ways that your team will communicate and get everyone on the same tools. You don’t want to have to check numerous places for messages. Plus, decide what is communicated by each. Short, occasional messages are best for IMs, while longer messages can be via email – while longer yet should be done in a conversation by video chat.

These ideas may seem obvious, but if not set up to make sure everyone has the same idea about what communication looks like, it can really wreck productivity. If everyone is left to their own devices, you could be fielding phone calls, texts, IMs, video chats, and emails from whatever program someone has on their phone or laptop, at all times of the day, or not at all. Remote working requires its own set of procedures, just like you have at the office.

At SanovaWorks we train everyone on our designated tools and procedures and make it a priority to use video chats whenever possible for the best communication and team member connections!