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One of the most critical steps in successfully scaling a business is to hire staff, and the hiring landscape has changed drastically amid COVID-19. Many employees are now being interviewed, hired and onboarded as remote workers.
Bank of America’s 2021 Small Business Owner Report revealed that one in five business owners plans to hire in 2021. However, 47% of entrepreneurs polled reveal they are struggling to find qualified candidates.
Hiring a team is often easier said than done. Before you start posting job listings, it’s important to understand what it means to hire employees — both in-person and remote — for your startup.
Take a moment to ask and answer these questions before you start hiring remote workers:
Are you ready to manage and oversee a distributed team?
A common question business owners ask remote workers during job interviews is if they have experience in working as part of a distributed team. Now reverse the question. Do you want your employees to work in-office, remote or in a hybrid workforce? Moreover, which model do you feel most confident will work for all hires and their varying responsibilities moving forward? As a small business owner, do you have the bandwidth to support a distributed team?
Answering these questions must factor in making yourself readily available to communicate with new hires, answer their questions and guide them through the onboarding process to ensure they understand the duties of their new role.
If you’re not sure you’re ready to hire 100% remote employees or do not work in an industry that can support an all-remote staff, consider the hybrid model. Hire a smaller percentage of the team, such as one or two employees, to work remotely. This may help you ease into managing a distributed workforce.
Can you financially afford to hire an employee?
Hiring full-time employees, whether they are working in house or remote, is an expensive endeavor. Rather than presuming the cash flow will always be strong in your business, approach initial hiring from a lean perspective.
Measure the financial projections of the business. Then, compare and contrast existing quarters to previous business quarters. This will allow you to better understand how many remote workers you can hire, as well as determine appropriate pay for each team member.
If you aren’t sure you have enough money to hire full-time, consider hiring for part-time roles. These positions may have the ability to become full-time as the business continues to scale. You may also choose to work with freelancers or contractors. This option is often best if you only have the need for light work assignments or one-off projects.
Does the remote employee have the necessary skills and qualifications?
In the Bank of America small business report, entrepreneurs surveyed expressed difficulty in trying to find and hire qualified candidates during the pandemic. A reported 43% of entrepreneurs have been trying to hire since the pandemic started and have been unable to find qualified candidates. The report notes that entrepreneurs seek certain characteristics when hiring, and the top three are work experience (49%), integrity (46%) and passion for the work (43%).
Hiring candidates with relevant experience is obviously critical to the continued growth and success of your business. As such, it’s important to approach the hiring process, once you feel comfortable in knowing that you will hire, from a thoughtful, objective standpoint.
Worry less about trying to hire employees quickly. Pace yourself. Ask candidates questions about their previous work experience, challenges they have successfully overcome in the workplace and examples of moments where they took initiative. Keep an eye out for candidates who are genuinely interested in the company, are passionate about their professional and personal growth and have a reliable track record for working remotely.
If a candidate doesn’t have the characteristics of work experience, integrity or passion for work, keep looking. Using this method may extend the hiring process, it’s better to keep interviewing and hire for fit and qualifications than to hire quickly and discover the candidate lacks these characteristics.
Key takeaways on hiring remote workers
The great news about hiring remote employees is that you can significantly open up the talent pool. Carefully prepare beforehand, be able to answer each question listed above and dive in to find the right remote hire for your business.