How Business Owners Can Set Workplace Boundaries

TAB_Sept 22As business owners we all have a general understanding that workplace flexibility improves employees’ satisfaction, but how can you offer greater flexibility to your employees without it being taken advantage of? While it is great to be considered a “nice boss”, as a business owner you need to consider the needs of the business and those of your employees.

I’ve outlined below some tips that will help you create a flexible work environment for your employees while making sure your business objectives are also respected.

  1. Create Options

Write down what options you are willing to consider offering to your employees. Whether it is flexible hours or summer hours, these all have an impact on your bottom line. You’ll need to weigh the pros and cons, or even conduct a SWOT analysis, before deciding on what you are comfortable offering.

  1. Communicate

Talk to your employees about the options you are considering and ask for their input. Generate a lively discussion about what type of flexibilities they want in their job. For example, a single mother with childcare might want to leave early or work from home, but a millennial might enjoy coming to work to spend time with work friends. There are so many needs to be considered, but the first place to start is by communicating.

  • Design a flexible work schedule pilot
    • If your employees unanimously felt they wanted flexible hours, then before you offer a company-wide policy on flexible work schedules, test it out for a period of time to see if this is really the most productive option for your workforce and your business.
  • While it is true that research shows flexible work schedules are linked to higher rates of productivity, not every employee is a candidate for a flexible work schedule. For example, some employees that struggle to be productive in the office may not be any more productive when working from home, and some jobs require them to be in the office. Track the pilot project and check in with how your employees are feeling before deciding to implement a policy on this.
  • Before you test this pilot, also consider what technologies you might need to help bridge the communication gap that can come from flexible schedules.
  • Different ways to offer freedom and flexibility in the workplace
    • If your employees chose your other options like days off, leaving an hour early, casual Fridays, summer hours, jean Fridays, etc., then it is up to you to decide which option and also control when it will start and end. For example, summer hours start in July and end on Labour Day. Create a plan and a schedule.

Making sure your employees are happy by offering them flexibility in their job is an excellent idea for long-term growth and employee loyalty, but make sure you control what is being offered and understand the implications before you open yourself up to compromises on your business goals.

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Obstacles Facing Women Business-Owners

9-successful-women-entrepreneurs-in-indiaOverall, there are fewer Canadian female business-owners than their male counterparts. Why does this disparity exist? I want to focus on female business-ownership and how women can begin overcoming obstacles to success, either societal or otherwise.

Of all the business-owners I have worked with over the years, only a small percentage of my mentees are female, and I believe with more female presence in the entrepreneurial community, more women would feel inspired and compelled to see themselves undertaking that challenge.

Based on some very preliminary research, there could be several reasons why there are simply less female Canadian business-owners:

  • Fewer females in positions of power in business: Only 21 of the Fortune 500 CEOs are women and women hold only 14% of executive officer positions*. With statistics like these, perhaps young women do not identify or aspire to become business owners when they do not see female role models.
  • Work-Life Balance: Although we now see much more equality between women and men in the domestic setting, women traditionally still take on a large portion of the household responsibilities, which results in less available time to spend putting in the hard hours of work required to get a new business up and running.
  •  Societal gender expectations: Traits that are often valued in male business-owners, such as assertiveness and drive, are sometimes incorrectly perceived as aggressive and selfish in female business-owners. This can affect a female business-owner’s confidence in reaching her next level of professional success.
  • Lack of mentorship: Starting a business can be a very personal undertaking, and it may be difficult to ask for help. Business-owners, both male and female, would benefit from seeking mentorship and business coaching to gain perspective, learn from others’ experience and get support.

Do you agree with some of the reasons why there may be fewer female Canadian business-owners? Would you have added more to the list? Let me know what you think in your comments below.

* Information referenced from Business Insider Magazine.