Dad’s lesson: Do your homework.

I was thinking about my work as a recruiter and remembered a lesson my father taught me many years ago. I was a senior in college and asked him if he had any advice before going to a couple important job interviews.

“Do your homework before you meet them, know something positive about the company that the interviewer may not know.”  My father wanted me make a good impression, stand-out in a good way, to do more.

Today the contents of a library are available on your smart phone. My best clients know I am interested in their businesses. I researched one client and learned the CEO holds several patents in his industry. I incorporated that into a conversation with him and prospective candidates. With another I pointed out career path similarities with two candidates and the company president. They were both hired. I learned the CEO’s five-year plan from a client’s annual report and pointed out how a particular candidate can help achieve his vision. Believe me, it can help!

It doesn’t matter if you are going for an interview, making an important presentation, or preparing for a conversation with an old client. Let them know you do a little more, that  you work a little harder, know more about them, their company and their goals then the other guy.

It can make the difference between average and exceptional.

Thanks Dad, I heard you.

 

How do companies know which Executive Search Firm is best for them?

In today’s world, it is a candidate driven market.  Candidates are getting called repeatedly by recruiters and quite a large amount of them end up with multiple offers to choose from in the end.  As a company searching for talent, the decision to hire a firm to help can be a daunting one.

The Solo Recruiter.  In a robust market, like the current one, recruiting is good business.  People who have little to no experience see an opportunity to cash in, hang out a shingle, and often offer slashed rates to compete with the established firms.  While saving money on an executive search may seem attractive to your HR team, the old adage “you get what you pay for” typically rings true here.  The cost of a bad hire far exceeds the difference in bargain basement search fees and the

The Big Guys.   There are some very large executive search companies that service multiple industries.  Their business model is usually more segmented, with one person courting client business, and once the contract is signed, the client is handed off to an account manager.  A search team is made up of other individuals, usually with a researcher, someone to recruit candidates, and someone who ultimately presents resumes to the client.  This assembly line approach might not be the best way for all companies to fill critical roles as it can be perceived as impersonal and disconnected to the candidates.

The Niched Firms.  Then you have your niche, boutique firms that focus specifically on specific industries, such as our own firm, Joseph Chris Partners.  Our niche is real estate development and construction.  There are multiple benefits to working with a firm that specializes in the field in which you work.  In most cases, niched firms have been in their chosen business for a considerable amount of time.  In our firm’s case, we have over 41 years of speaking the same language as our clients, developing relationships with professionals over the expanses of their careers, keeping current on industry news, attending conferences, and really understanding what our industry is about.  Our teams our small, and clients always get a personalized approach to their search.   For more clients needing a professional with industry-specific experience, it makes sense to work with an Executive Search Firm that already has the relationships with the people they are wanting to hire, one that “speaks their language” and knows who’s who in their industry sector already.

Am I promoting my own firm?  Sure I am! But clients and candidates I’ve worked with over my 16 years in the industry will attest that their partnership with my company and with me has been a very successful one.

Claire Spence

Executive Partner

clairespence@josephchris.net

MILITARY APPRECIATION MONTH: The importance of Veterans’ Hiring Initiatives

I grew up in the military. My dad served for 23 years, and we moved around every 3 years throughout my childhood. It was a really good life, filled with amazing people and places, and I credit my outgoing nature to that life. We’d move to a new post, and I’d go knocking on our new neighbors’ doors, asking if any kids lived there, and if they did (they almost always did), I’d ask them to be my friend.
The hardest thing about my childhood was saying goodbye to good friends when it was time for them, or for us, to move.

That’s nothing compared to the difficulties military service members and their families face today. We’ve been involved in armed conflict on multiple fronts continuously for almost 20 years. Families face multiple deployments in the modern military, and many returning service members struggle to assimilate back into civilian life.

We’ve all read the statistics about veteran suicide rates, and divorce rates among military families are higher than the already high national average. It’s a difficult life, but most military families wouldn’t change a thing about it because it’s their duty to serve, despite the personal sacrifices required to do so.
With very few exceptions, most individuals in this country support our military, even if they don’t agree with the conflicts they find themselves in, which is a welcome change from the sentiment the country expressed towards Vietnam veterans, like my dad, upon their return home. But we can all do more. We can do more individually; there are so many ways to help, and a quick Google search will point you in the right direction there.

But we, as business people, need to impress upon the leaders of our companies how important it is to support our military families with veterans/military hiring initiatives. Many returning service members and their spouses struggle to find work despite amassing incredible skills while serving our country. Most hiring managers, however, aren’t focused on what these individuals can bring to their organization and, instead, focus on the words on the resume that don’t appear—at first glance—to fit. Veterans positively impact a company’s culture, are natural problem-solvers, and set the standard for teamwork and work ethic.

Particularly relevant in our industry, where there is a marked shortage of talent, and construction shows no signs of slowing down, so that shortage will continue to grow unless we look for other sources of talent. Several large companies in our industry have recognized this and have implemented focused veterans’ hiring initiatives and are reaping the benefits of those efforts now.

Related Companies Senior Vice President Frank J. Monterisi, Jr., a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and Marine Corps Veteran, leads his company’s veterans hiring initiative. He recognizes that veterans:

are very valuable to our company and the overall construction industry. The men and women who come out of serving our country have dedication, a strong work ethic and are exceptional problem solvers—which are great attributes to have when working on construction projects. Construction projects are all about teams and working together. Veterans have great teamwork and can manage through demanding environments with efficient real-time, problem-solving skills. We are happy to bring them on and will continue to keep this hiring initiative as a key priority for our organization.

“The Benefits of Hiring Veterans,” US Veterans Magazine.

Jim Crigler, Vietnam Veteran, Partner of HC2 Capital, and author of “Mission of Honor,” an account of his trip canoeing the entire length of the Mississippi river to raise awareness about Gold Star Families, is a huge proponent of veteran hiring. “If you want leadership under stress, hire a veteran,” Jim said.

Only about 7.3 percent of Americans have served in our military. These are the men and women who keep the rest us safe and allow us to enjoy the freedoms that make our country great. The debt we owe them can never be fully repaid, and we need to honor and support them every day, not just on a few patriotic days of the year. They’ve done their part; it’s time for us to do ours.

For more information about setting up your own veterans hiring initiative, check out:
http://hr.commerce.gov/Careers/Veterans/index.htm
https://www.dol.gov/veterans/Employer-Guide-to-Hire-Veterans-DEC-2017.pdf
https://www.dol.gov/vets/ahaw/

The Importance of a Disaster Recovery Plan

Office floodRecently, our company and community experienced historic levels of rainfall from Hurricane Harvey. My office building was flooded and the community got lots of media attention. As the storm approached the decision was made to close our offices and relocate operations.

We had a plan and were prepared for events that altered the daily activities of our company. It took less than 30 minutes to shut down the company’s home office operations. Employees and tenants in the building were all vacating. The computers were removed, servers disconnected and were relocated to our CEO’s home. In an hour all operations were up and running.

Our next step included uninterrupted phone contact between our clients and the company, our data is stored in the cloud, software was preloaded on everyone’s laptop allowing employee access from anywhere. Our level of service to our clients was seamless and we did not let anyone down.

Our company has been operating from a satellite office for weeks and we hope to return to our offices next month. I would guess that if I didn’t share this information I doubt anyone would know we moved.

A good disaster plan for a small business is crucial. This event demonstrated to me the importance of preparation. I have seen people panic when their laptop didn’t boot-up. Imagine what could happen if the entire company couldn’t boot up!

Every plan should include having access to your data, technology and the ability to maintain a productive working environment. Restoring operations quickly is crucial to the bottom line and maintaining the highest level of quality and service for the people you do business with.

How good is your disaster plan?

When is it okay to walk away?

I quit

I left the practice of law because of a movie (“The Help”) and a song (“I Dare You To Move”).

After far too long in a profession that didn’t fill me up, I quit.  I walked away and I’ve never looked back.

I’m firmly in the “life’s too short” camp, and over the last 6 years, I’ve cut people and things out of my life if they don’t make me happy.

And I’m much happier as a result.

I contemplated this last week after another volleyball match where my kid never set foot on the court. Since she made the JV team, she’s maybe played 2 minutes in the last 6 matches, and she’s been the only girl out of 17 who never rotates in.  Couple that with residual drama from the last season with the coach and some of the girls, and my kid has been just miserable.

While I was contemplating, I heard the voices of other parents and great coaches who talk about powering through the tough times and building your mental strength and it’s not about playing time and you shouldn’t be a quitter.

And I thought why not?

My kid has had more than her share of tough times. She’s had to suck it up and power through far more by 15 than I’ve had to by 45. She’s mentally tough. She’s not a quitter.

But when I realized just how much being on this team was hurting her, I let her quit.

I let her do what I’ve only recently learned to do:. cut people and things out of her life that don’t make her happy.

I understand that team sports teach many valuable lessons about life not being fair, and you can’t always be the best at everything, and not everyone is going to like you.

My kid has already learned those lessons. In spades. She doesn’t need them shoved down her throat every day. Sometimes, things should just be fun, and sometimes things shouldn’t be so dang hard.

Sports is one of those things.

She loves volleyball.  She hated playing on this team. So let’s be done. Let’s just be done.

Life’s too short.

Obviously, there’s a line there. There’s always going to be stuff you don’t love doing, and you’ll have to spend time with people you don’t enjoy, and there will be goals that are extremely hard to reach.  You can’t walk away from everything.

But if you can walk away from someone or something that makes you unhappy, that takes the light out of your eyes, that makes you feel you aren’t valued or that you don’t matter, why don’t you?

As adults, we are afraid to walk away. We are programmed to think things are supposed to be hard, and at times, really friggin’ suck.  We’re taught that people are imperfect, so we stop expecting people to treat us the way we deserve to be treated. We’re told there are no fairy tales, no Happily Ever After, so we live less than our happiest life because we think this is as good as it gets.

I wasted so much time in a career that made me miserable and with people who did the same.

So as a mother, I want my daughter to understand the importance of hard work and dedication, of sacrifice and sticking it out. But I also want her to understand when it’s ok to quit.

She handled herself with grace when talking to her coaches. She let them know her heart was not in it, and never whined or complained or cast blame.

On the way home from that game, she seemed relieved. I told her I was proud of her. All I’ve ever wanted was for her to be happy. That’s all any parent wants.

Empowering her at 15 to recognize when a situation isn’t right for her will hopefully prevent her from wasting time in a career that makes her miserable or with people who do the same.

If you feel like you’re stuck in a career you don’t love, or working with people who don’t treat you with respect, or in relationships of any sort that don’t make you better, it’s really okay to quit.  Because life truly is too short.

Management by Objectives Pros and Cons

In its essence, management by objectives (a technique applied primarily to personnel management) requires deliberate goal formulation for periods, such as the next calendar or business year, where your goals are recorded and then monitored. It’s also a popular method of employee performance appraisal, which involves defining strategic objectives for each of your employee and your company. Its central idea is a joint goal and standards setting with frequent measurement against the standards, aligning individual and corporate goals. While this approach has been embraced by many organizations, it’s not without its detractors. To utilize it efficiently for your business, you should know its pros and cons.

List of Pros of Management by Objectives

1. Encourages Face-to-Face Communication.
It encourages face-to-face communication between the manager and employees to identify the degree to which the latter have achieved the standards or objectives. On balance, employees are more likely to receive information that’s detailed enough to improve performance, given the process is done properly.

2. It is Flexible.
Since employees have different performance standards even if their job descriptions are the same. Unlike rating systems that are used across job positions, the standards are completely customizable.

3. Stresses the Need to Clarify Objectives.
Where suggestions for improvement are solicited from all levels of management.

4. It Is Useful and Relatively Easy.
It is particularly useful and relatively easy to apply to tasks that can be measured objectively and relatively easily. The system can also be used for complex jobs, but it takes more skills on the part of the manager to attain effective results.

5. Greatly Improves Management.
Objectives can’t be established without planning, which makes real sense. It forces managers to think about planning for results, instead of planning activities or work.

6. Allows Managers to Have Clear Idea.
It allows all managers to have a clear idea of the essential areas of their work and of the required standards.

7. Clarifies Organizational Structures and Roles.
To possible extents, positions should be built around the key results that are expected of the individuals occupying them.

8. Encourages People to Commit to Their Individual Goals.
Not only that they are working, following instructions and waiting for decision, but they are also having clearly defined purposes. Employees will have a part in actually setting their own goals and putting their ideas into planning programs.

9. Performance Needs Improvement.
It assumes the performance of the staff and highlights the needs for improvement.

10. Aids in Developing Effective Controls.
This involves measuring results and taking courses of action to fix deviations from the actual plans in order to ensure objectives are met.

11. Uses a Set of Targets.
With this in mind, it should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-specific (SMART).

12. Requires Quantifying and Monitoring.
This means reliable management information systems are needed to establish relevant goals and monitor their “reach ratio” in a way that’s objective. This is done effectively using incentives and bonuses.

13. Creates Detailed Reviews and Improves Performance.
Approaches to measuring performance that rely on subjective assessment can confuse employees about what they need to do for improvement. On the other hand, MBO is specific enough that your people can adjust how they behave to meet clear goals.

14. Encourages Greater Participation.
It encourages greater participation, which may improve communication and morale.

15. Makes Performance Reviews Easier.
With goals communicated clearly around measurable results, the process will be straightforward. Your employees will not be surprised by the review results.

16. Plan and Achieve Good Results.
It urges managers to plan to achieve good results, which leads to growth and increased profits.

17. Fosters Commitment.
It fosters commitment because the staff will be involved in the goal setting process. As a result, they’ll become more personally invested in achieving objectives, whether or not financial incentives is involved.

18. Secures Alignment.
As individual objectives cascade from corporate goals, the organization is aligned. Plus, MBO makes it sure that all staff members understand your organization’s overarching objectives.

19. Raises Awareness.
It makes individuals more aware of organizational goals.

List of Cons of Management by Objectives


1. Difficult to Write Performance Standards.
These are both objectively measurable and meaningful. Practically, you can’t have a huge number of standards applying to a certain employee’s performance. Identifying which one to use and writing it in an objective way is a form of art that generally requires training for the one writing the standards. This means training may be needed for both managers and employees.

2. Difficult and Time Consuming.
Its standard-setting process is difficult and time-consuming. The upfront work involved with MBO is much more demanding than other rating systems, where the upfront work can be almost zero. This may seem as a weakness, but it’s more on work shifting from the review phase to the planning phase.

3. To Much Paperwork.
It can take a few years to be effective and too much paperwork might be needed to be done, which can include difficult key operation measurement.

4. Poor Judgment.
It may mean achieving objectives will be at the expense of organizational goals, such as cost-reduction programs that are achieved by deferring maintenance. Remember that sacrificing everything to achieve goals may lead to poor managerial judgment.

5. Causes Targets to be Raised.
It may cause your company to raise targets, and if they are too high, your staff may become frustrated.

6. Not Based on Performance.
Appraisals are sometimes created on personality traits, instead of performance.

7. Difficulty in Measuring Objectives.
It is not easy to set measurable objectives for groups of employees who only exist to “help the line achieve its ends”.

8. Ineffective Review and Counseling Process.
Its review and counseling processes for managers may be ineffective.

9. Numbers Cannot be Applied.
It may overlook some important things to be measured. There are some very important contributions to an organization that simply can’t be tied to a number.

10. Requires Work to Setup.
It requires work to setup. Though MBO makes performance reviews easier, it does require significant up-front efforts on the part of managers and executive teams.

11. Questionable Decision Making.
It may make focus on goals to cause questionable decision making. Take note that setting targets will encourage resources to meet them using whatever means necessary, which can result in poor quality.

MBO may or may not be a wise approach for your business, but if you decide to implement it, consider a strategy to maximize its pros and mitigate its cons. Just put in mind that a well thought-out and executed plan for employee evaluation can help improve the results you want for your company.

Employee Free Choice Act Pros and Cons

In order for workers to get ahead economically, the best course of action would be to unite with their co-workers and bargain with their employers for better wages and benefits. However, in recent times, the economy hasn’t exactly seen better days – continuous increase of gas and food prices, home foreclosures, unaffordable health care and ruined retirement security. Working men and women have seen their wages stagnate while those of CEOs have been skyrocketing.

Something needed to be done.

On March 10, 2009, the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) was introduced to both chambers of the US Congress. Its purpose was to:

“amend the National Labor Relations Act to establish an efficient system to enable employees to form, join or assist labor organizations [unions], to provide for mandatory injunctions for unfair labor practices during organizing efforts, and for other purposes.”

Although the EFCA has died in Congress, had it passed, it would have removed unfair barriers to union representation and collective bargaining therefore allowing workers a shot at improving their jobs and benefits. The passing of the bill was meant for workers to achieve the American Dream through the freedom given to choose a union and bargain collectively.

The National Labor Relations Act, which is the current federal labor law, has become a roadblock to workers’ rights. Employees who try to organize unions how seen themselves harassed, coerced and fired by the companies they work for. And even if workers successfully formed unions, they can’t get a first contract 44% of the time.

Not everyone agreed with the EFCA though. On one side, progressive democrats fully supported the act. However, majority of Republicans weren’t so pleased. Those caught in the middle were pro-business Democrats and Congressional Republicans hailing from working-class states who voted for Barack Obama, a supporter of the bill.

This plight of the workers is an urgent crisis which blocks their free will and their chance to bargain for a better future. Although the EFCA wasn’t supported, we can all look back at what made it a good idea and why it wasn’t.

List of Pros of the Employee Free Choice Act

1. It Would Have Removed Current Barriers Preventing Workers From Forming Unions To Bargain Collectively.
Had the act passed, when a majority of employee has signed authorizations that designate a union as its bargaining representative, that union would be certified by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The act also requires the Board to develop model authorization language and procedures in order to establish the validity of signed authorizations. Lastly, the act changes the current corporate-dominated representation process that allows companies to intimate and coerce workers seeking reform and pressure them to influence their choice.

2. It Would Have Guaranteed Workers a Contract When They Formed a New Union.
If an employer and newly formed union cannot bargain a contact within 90 days, either party can request mediation by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. In case no agreement can be reached after 30 days of mediation, the dispute will be referred to binding arbitration. All time limits can be extended through mutual agreement as well.

With this change, current incentives for employers to delay and stall negotiations will be eliminated. Also, it will reduce the delay, frustration and animosity caused by the company-dominated system.

3. It Would Have Strengthened Penalties Against Companies That Break The Law During Organizing Campaigns And First Contract Negotiations.
These days, company violations are so commonplace because remedies for corporate misconduct like the illegal firing of union supporters are so weak that companies use it as a means to scare employees away from their union support. With the EFCA, tougher remedies will be implemented to protect the rights of workers, and these include:

  • Civil Penalties – up to $20,000 per violation for companies proven to have willfully and repeatedly violated the rights of employees during an organizing campaign or first contract negotiations.
  • Treble Back Pay – back pay is increased threefold when an employee is dismissed or discriminated against during an organizing campaign or first contract negotiations.
  • Mandatory Applications for Injunctive Remedies – the NLRB would be required to seek a federal court injunction if there is reasonable cause to believe a company discharged or discriminated against employees.

List of Cons of the Employee Free Choice Act

The US Chamber of Commerce, as well as major corporations with large, hourly labor forces were opposed to the EFCA legislation. The US Chamber of Commerce says, “The bill would undermine long standing principles of workplace democracy and fairness and result in employees having less ability to determine if they wish to be represented by a union.”

The lobbying group further stated that while EFCA is being promoted by organized labor as a law reform, “it doesn’t represent ‘reform’ in any sense of the word.” Instead, what the act will do is “radically restructure 60 years of carefully crafted labor law balances that have served both unions and employers well for many decades.”

Other complaints about the EFCA include:

1. The Additional Use Of Card Check Elections Will Lead To Overt Coercion Of Union Organizers.
The EFCA will allow workers to join or form a union if a majority of their co-workers checked a card that indicated their desire to do so. As of now, employers can ask their employees to hold a secret ballot election, a process which can be delayed for months. Through the EFCA, these cards can be filled out anytime and anywhere.

Those who opposed the EFCA claimed that the new provision would not protect employee privacy. John Kline, a Republican Representative from Minnesota, said that “It is beyond me how one can possibly claim that a system whereby everyone – your employer, your union organizer, and your co-workers – knows exactly how you vote on the issue of unionization gives an employee ‘free choice.’”

2. The Mandatory Arbitration Of Disputes Involving Terms Of a First Contract Constitutes An Improper Intrusion Of Government Into Private Business Affairs.
Opponents of the EFCA view the mandatory disputes involving the terms of a first contract as harmful for competitiveness and innovation. Also, other opponents think that the arbitration mandate can lead to management resorting to offensive lockouts as a way to pressure unions and employees to accepting company proposals before the deadline for arbitration.

3. The Bill Won’t Increase Union Membership.
Fewer and fewer Americans belong to a union. Membership is down to 11.2% of the workforce, a historic low, and 6.7% of workers in the private sector. A recent study (Labor Union Membership and Life Satisfaction in the United States) by Patrick Flavin (assistant professor at Baylor University) and Gregory Shufeldt (assistant professor at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock) showed that union members are happier.

However, the study’s authors added, “Morevoer, as evidenced by the quick demise of the Employee Free Choice Act in Congress and more recent high profile battles over collective bargaining rights and employee benefits in several states, even the ability to organize and join a labor union has become a politically contentious issue.”

8 Pros and Cons of Contract Work

When you accept contract work, this means that you are going to be in the position you’re in for a fixed amount of time, be it three months, six months or even a year. A lot of jobs offer work on a contractual basis, even athletes sign contracts allowing them to stay with a team for a certain number of years. But the glamorous world of sports is far different from the kind of labor that we do.

Most of the time, when we look for a job, we tend to search for jobs that are permanent. Or in other words, we want to be rest assured of stability when it comes to our income.

Also, with work where you’re hired as a regular employee, your income taxes and pension plan contributions are deducted automatically from your pay by your employer. None of these things are available to you when you do contract work. In other words, you have to fend for yourself should you choose the contractual employee route.

Whichever way you look at it, there will be positives and negatives for accepting contract work. Below, we break down why getting a job on a contract basis is a good move and why it’s not.

List of Pros of Contract Work

1. You Can Impress An Employer Which Can Lead To Better Opportunities.
Hard work is the key to succeeding in contract work. When an employer sees that they can trust you with several tasks, they might just want to bring you on board for a full-time job. After all, once you grab hold of a good worker, you try your best to hold on to that employee for as long possible.

Every company deserves good workers, but sometimes they can be hard to find. So when a company chooses to give you a shot, don’t think in temporary terms – that you’re just in this for a number of months. Instead of thinking in the negative, go for something more positive. Put everything you’ve got into your work and all of your hard work will surely pay off.

Employees always notice good workers and they want to hang on to them. So even if the gig you signed up for lasts for just a while, try and make the most out of it. This doesn’t mean that any temporary job you sign up for will automatically lead to full-time promotion. But it’s important to show that you care for your job because you just never know who’s watching.

Yes, you may bid the place of your employment in a few months’ time, but making an impression will surely put you in the good books of your current employer. Who knows? Maybe one day you’ll be working for someone else but a call will come from a previous employer offering better opportunities

2. You Do Work And Then You Head Home.
When performing contractual work, you’re only meant to be “at work” for the day until such a time when your contract ends. This means that other office-related things like attending meetings at ungodly hours aren’t part of your routine. You’re tasked with doing a certain thing and that’s what you’ll focus on until you’re no longer contractually obliged to do so.

What makes this setup nice is that when the work shift is over, all you have to do is get home, spend time with your family and do the things that you love.

3. You Acquire Skills a Whole Lot Faster.
Being involved in contract work often means dabbling in various jobs across many industries. Doing so builds up your skills as quickly as possible. When you’re exposes to a variety of projects and work environments, picking up new skills will be so much easier.

4. You Don’t Have To Be Involved In Office Politics.
Every office seems to operate like they’re a government agency. As a contact worker, you need not be bothered by such things. There’s no reason for you to get highly involved in office politics because you’re going elsewhere in a couple of weeks, months or years.

5. You Can Earn Higher Wages.
When you’re a contract worker, there’s a chance you can get a higher pay because your job is not secure. Generally, contract workers receive about 30 to 100% higher gross pay than those who have permanent work. Overtime pay is also provided to contract workers which can increase their take home pay.

List of Cons of Contract Work

1. You Don’t Get Paid When You Don’t Work.
As a regular worker, you are entitled to benefits offered by your company – vacation leaves, sick leaves and such. When you’re involved in a contractual situation and can’t work for a day or even days, that means you get no pay. Absolutely nothing.

This is why the life of a contract worker is always tricky. A next job after the current one isn’t even a guarantee. So there will be days when contractors do suffer from not having any income at all.

2. You Have To Fend For Yourself In Terms Of Benefits.
As a contract worker, you don’t have an employer who will gladly take off a certain amount from your paycheck for government contributions and such. Well, you do have an employer but they are more about writing your check and nothing more. So, basically you have to do these things on your own.

3. You Don’t Have Job Security.
Just like coaching jobs in sporting teams, you can get cut at any time. Take Carlo Ancelotti at Real Madrid for example. While that team is used to parting ways with coaches who don’t produce trophies in a given year, Ancelotti still had a year left on his three-year contract when the football club decided to fire him.

It was a strange gesture given that he was responsible for delivering La Decima and taking a badly injured team to the semifinals of the Champions League. Then again, that is the nature of contracts: if you don’t deliver on what is asked of you, your employer will gladly show you the door.

10 Pros and Cons of Working from Home

Working from home sounds like a great idea to many that spend several hours a day commuting to and from work. However, learning to balance a work and family life poses its down unique difficulties to some. To get a clear perspective to the pros and cons of working from home, here is a look at some key points.

List of Pros of Working from Home

1. It Makes You More Productive.
A study by Stanford University concluded that people who work from home are more productive than those who don’t. CTrip, the biggest travel agency in China, was looking into a work from home policy to decrease attrition rates and lessen office costs. So, researchers randomized 250 call center employees from the company: some telecommuted for days a week while others came to the office each day for none months.

The results of the study showed that telecommuters increased their performance by 13% due to lesser sick days and breaks, working more minutes per shift, and taking more calls because of a quieter environment.

CTrip decided to roll out the changes, but not everyone opted to work from home. And not surprising, those who experienced an increase in performance were the ones who stayed home.

2. It Helps Companies Keep Great Workers.
There are good workers who can’t possibly move because they are tied down with something, be it having kids in school or problems with the mortgage. For Stack Exchange, they saw this as a benefit for remote working. Now, they have great people who work from their homes in Oregon and even the UK.

Also, remote working allows you to keep people who need to move because of a family situation. Stack Exchange lead developer David Fullerton cites two employee who have moved away from New York but are still working with the company thanks to their policy of working remotely.

3. It Helps When Disaster Strikes.
Severe weather conditions are to be expected these days, and no one can bear the thought of leaving their loved ones alone at home. Also, companies that have a remote working policy can rest easy knowing their employees can and will perform work, even to the minimum amount.

4. It Makes You Work Harder, Especially If You Love What You Do.
Distractions do abound when working from home such as with the kids, pets, the TV, the internet and so on. But being motivated to get up and start doing work each morning surely helps. Once you’ve got the motivation juice going, it’s all about developing a routine just like you do in the office.

5. It Can Foster Collaboration.
Contrary to what others say, collaboration is possible for remote workers. Without a boss dropping by to ask how everything’s going, you need to be the one to reach out and ask necessary questions and give regular updates.

List of Cons of Working from Home

1. It Really Isn’t Good for Working.
It’s difficult to be both a parent and a worker in the same space. Children will want you attention and when you can’t give it, resentment ensues. Also, if you can’t get work done, your peers at the office won’t be too happy either.

2. It Makes It Harder to Not Think About Work Once the Workday Ends.
Freelancers often find it hard to separate home from work. They constantly check their emails or can’t stop thinking about work. These actions lead them to feel more exhausted.

3. It Keeps You Within Close Distance of Home Distractions.
Working from home means being able to resist office gossip, but your home also presents tons of distractions ¨C chores, the TV and of course, the internet. With no one to complain about your frequent browsing of BuzzFeed, you’re tempted to just burn through all the animal videos and pictures posted that day.

4. It Can’t Solve All Problems.
Although we have been blessed with so many free and useful tools, this doesn’t mean that collaboration will flow smoothly. For example, there might be some issues that are best looked at physically rather than electronically.

5. It Doesn’t Offer the Work/Life Balance You Seek.
Most prefer the work from home option because it gives them the work/life balance they always crave. While it’s true that you can be happier, you’re more or less doing the exact same work, but just in a different setting.

A Case Study with Yahoo!

In 2013, Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer made waves not for a feat achieved by the company she’s the head of, but for issuing a memo putting a ban on working from home. While the memo was made for internal consumption, many irked remote workers released it to be devoured by the entire web.

The note starts out positive, laying out what the company has done to make the workplace more “productive, efficient and fun.” Then the kicker: “To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to work side-by side.”

If Yahoo’s telecommuters were not happy, can you imagine how the rest of the world reacted? Sure enough, Mayer received criticism in the form of op-ed pieces and even tweets from the likes of Richard Branson who said “Give the people the freedom of where to work and they will excel.”

But with some detractors came defenders, some in the form of ex-Yahoo workers. One noted that those working from home abused the benefit by not giving 100% to Yahoo projects and worked on their side startup instead.

A year after asking telecommuters to get back into the office, a Gallup State of the American Workplace report was released. What it proved was the Marissa Mayer’s decision was right, and at the same time wrong.

For instance, the poll found that those who worked remotely are more engaged, enthusiastic and committed to their work, but only if they work out of the office for 20% of the time or less. Then again, the study also found out that productivity was at its peak from remote workers, because they worked longer hours and were not bothered by office distractions, aren’t commuting and aren’t running errands during lunch.

The poll also proved Mayer right as it showed those who work off-site were less engaged and feel more disconnected from their work.

There will always be disagreements when it comes to discussing the pros and cons of working from home. Whichever side you’re on, we’ve put this list together that makes a case for both sides.

9 Pros and Cons of Outsourcing Jobs

In 2013, more than 2 million jobs were outsourced. A majority of these positions were given to workers in India and China. The IT sector is among one of the largest industries to experience outsourcing on a large scale. At a rate of 43% to be exact, this is closely followed by research and development (R&D), distribution, and call center positions. Outsourcing has gained popularity in terms of operating a global business, with many small to large businesses taking advantage of its many benefits.

Outsourcing has experienced its fair share of strong supporters and opponents making it a controversial issue to many. While it has harmed the American economy on various levels and enriched the financial profits of large corporations, paying less than $4 a hour is attractive to any company who is looking to reduce their overhead. However this can also make local production illogical, and lead to many loss jobs within the United States itself. A question faced by many businesses is, “Why pay more when you can have the same job done for less?” Unfortunately, outsourcing can also mean losing control of your business operation. To get a full understanding of this issue, here is a look at the biggest pros and cons of outsourcing jobs.

The Pros of Outsourcing Jobs

1. Higher Returns on Investment
Many believe that subcontracting is all about reducing costs, and it can definitely reach such a goal. But this method of doing business offers a lot more than this. When labor is cheaper, companies will be able to save money that they can transfer to their consumers. This can result in higher sales that will lead to better revenue realization. How long before you can see better ROI? A lot faster than if you were to tap into domestic talent that will cost you more.

2. Improved Efficiency
What is great about outsourcing is that you can choose a company or team that specializes in a particular skill set or knowledge. When subcontracting IT jobs, for example, you will be subcontracting IT-related tasks to specialists or experts, not just anyone who knows a thing or two about IT. There are plenty of companies that provide IT services performed by IT experts. With access to a pool of IT talents, you will be able to operate more efficiently. Moreover, you can tap a knowledge base for improved and better innovation.

In terms of manufacturing, you will be able to produce more in a short of amount of time, giving you an opportunity to meet increasing demands. After all, manufacturing firms are equipped with the tools, skills and knowledge to complete a task, which will save you from having to build your own assembly line.

3. Increased Speed of Delivery
With improved efficiency, delivery of products and services can be done quickly and more conveniently. But because tasks are done in another time zone and holiday schedule, business operations can still continue even if your office is closed due to a domestic holiday or because it is after office hours. This is especially true if the outsourcing companies operate 24/7.

4. More Management Time
When everything is done in-house, there is a huge possibility that some core competencies are not given as much attention as needed. But if you outsource activities that are routine, administrative or require specialized skills, you can focus more on core functions and ensure that your company thrives and succeeds.

5. Ease of Employment Handling
When things don’t go as planned, you have the option to cancel the contract or just fire an employee. No need to embroil in labor disputes or be in a dilemma of whether or not to let go of someone because you have formed a bond. With outsourcing, you can let go of anyone on the fly.

The Cons of Outsourcing Jobs

1. Loss of Control Over Business Processes
If outsourced personnel are working remotely, monitoring them could take time and effort. Even if there are apps and programs that you can use, there is no guarantee that an employee is doing the job right until you get the deliverables. What are the odds that your project is given adequate attention?
You should also be aware of the ‘4x Rule’ in the outsourced labor. That is, expect work to take four times longer to complete because of possible miscommunication, inaccuracies in implementation, etc. If work is done in-house, monitoring would be consistent and corrections can be done right away.

2. Concerns on Privacy and Intellectual Property (IP)
There are rules and regulations about IP and privacy in the U.S., which are respected and followed by domestic business owners, heads and employees. But if you employ people overseas or beyond the borders, you are practically leaving yourself unprotected. What are the odds that someone would copy your product idea or software codes?

Unless the country you are outsourcing to has similar rules in place, you can’t take legal action. So think long and hard before you outsource anything that involves sensitive data or trade secrets.

3. Quality and Turnaround Time Issues
Remember the ‘4x Rule’? This means, delivery of products would take longer, requiring you to create a schedule where the time gap is reduced if not eliminated. There are also concerns on product quality, especially on the kind of materials used. Products in China, for instance, have been involved in many controversies. Even if tags are changed into something else, the knowledge that they are produced in China can also diminish the trust that consumers have on the items and the company as well.

4. Job Loss
As previously mentioned, outsourcing jobs can mean higher domestic unemployment rate. Some businesses also take advantage by offering work at a rate that is lower than minimum. If they can get away with it, that is. Basically, what is beneficial to one country could spell bad news to another, where outsourcing is concerned. This is why there is a need to find balance in the local economy without costing your company huge overheads.

Outsourcing is both a boon and a bane, depending on who you are asking. Most companies and contractors see them as advantageous, but there is still a need to determine if the method will really work for a business. Are you willing to sacrifice one thing to achieve another?