Turing Distinguished Leader Series: Vishal Punwani
Hello, everyone! Thank you for the fantastic response to the Turing Distinguished Leader Series. For this episode, we have Vishal Punwani, CEO and co-founder of Sophya, the Harvard-founded startup where companies of all sizes go to establish their virtual HQs. Sophya was part of Harvard iLab’s inaugural Launch Lab X program in 2018-19. Now, Fortune 50 companies and startups alike enter Sophya’s metaverse to work, socialize, form communities, and throw incredible events.
Today’s Topic: Engineering leaders discuss employee engagement in virtual teams and share tips for engineering managers to enhance remote team management.
Welcome to Turing Distinguished Leader Series. I’m Jonathan Siddharth, founder and CEO of Turing. Today I have a very special guest, Vishal Punwani, who shares a similar love for distributed teams and building the office of the future. Hi, Vishal, welcome! Could you tell us a little bit about your journey?
Hey, Jon! Great to be here. So brief introduction: I’ve always been a technology lover since I was three years old. I started my first company when I was ten, and my brother was 11. I’ve always been a longtime gamer, so all of this has a through-line of video gaming underneath, which kind of leads into why we founded Sophya. I went to medical school, did part of my emergency medicine training, put that on hold to focus entirely on Sophya. And that is what is occupying all of my time and attention right now. But I make a little time to play video games, ideally every day, for about 20 minutes.
That’s awesome. You have such an interesting background. And for people listening, could you tell us a little bit about Sophya, what problem it solves, and why you should use it?
Sure, yeah. The funny thing is that there’s a lot of really fantastic examples of great collaboration in gaming. So you think about any of the big MMOs, whether it’s World of Warcraft or Everquest or Elder Scrolls Online, any of these big ones: one thing that is common among all of them is that you have to get into groups and guilds. You have to execute missions together. You have to form leadership layers. You also have to communicate context and information to your teammates. There’s a lot that you have to figure out, for example, the bylaws of your guild. And so, it may sound silly, but there’s a lot of analogous company pieces there.
During the pandemic, we were like: “Oh my gosh. This is our team, and we feel like our culture is slipping. Our bonds with our teammates are getting frayed,” and that was scary to my co-founders and me because we’re such a culture-heavy team.
We believe the best business strategies are people-first. So if you look after your people and have wonderful relationships with your teammates, that will transcend the social aspect and return those business results. And so we were like: “There’s a much better way to do this than Zoom and Slack.” And the reason we felt so strongly about that was that a bunch of my teammates—we met playing World Warcraft, and that was 17 years ago, and we became best friends, even though we lived on three different continents at the time.
So we said: “What if we took a stab at transforming our work environment into something more like an MMO?” And so, we built this hacky MVP that completely transformed our team. And we’ve never felt closer as a distributed team; we’ve never felt more collaborative and more productive. It has changed the fabric of what our team is.
And so, I don’t know if that specifically answered your question, but to get a little specific, Sophya is a world, a community, where you can get a private office inside that world. And you get all your video chat, text chat, DMS, file sharing, screen sharing, and all the different collaborative tools you might need for your team to be productive.
Along with this, you also get all of those middle moments covered. So, you can see where all your teammates are if they’re in your office or maybe somewhere in the world. You can teleport to them and vice-versa, whatever the case may be. So you can have all the moments that you would miss if you didn’t have the physical office. You get to do that with people distributed all over the world.
Sounds great. What have you learned from customers using Sophya, like anything interesting in terms of the way they use the product?
People need the ability to feel connected and engaged and belonging at all times of the day. That’s how you build and give humans the tools they need to be healthy, internally and externally. So if you don’t feel like you can’t build great relationships at work, then, first of all, you’re going to have not a great time.
Wherever it is that you work, you’re always going to be looking for the next thing. From a business perspective, if you don’t focus on making sure that your team can form profound relationships with each other, guess who’s not going to be able to do their greatest work? Guess what organization will not be able to benefit from having aligned people who trust and care about each other?
All of that is part of what we’re building. An environment that is 100x than what the physical office can give you. The physical office can provide you with space, but it cannot give you best practices built into the walls. And, a lot of what’s coming out of publications like HBR and a few others that we like to talk about is ‘best ways to build organizational health into your office walls in the virtual world in Sophya.’ So, we want to make that available to everybody so that their teams keep getting healthier.
Absolutely. Speaking of distributed teams, which is one of the things that Sophya makes possible and easy? What would be your number one piece of advice for founders, product leaders, and engineering leaders who are building and managing distributed teams?
That’s a great question. I’ve boiled this down to three things.
One is relationships between your teammates. That’s something that you have to have figured out, right? If you want them to do their best work, you have to do that right. We do that through Sophya, obviously, but there’s a couple of other ways you can do that.
The second thing is context. You have to get good at providing fantastic context for your team to understand what problems they’re solving, the organization’s overarching goal, and the organizational mission and vision. All of that information has to be front and center.
And then the third thing is accountability tools. I don’t mean accountability tools in a punitive sense or anything like that. What I mean is that people like the clarity of knowing what they’re driving, who they’re working with, what is the context around it, and when the task or activity is supposed to be completed. So that sounds very operational, and it kind of is. We use Asana, which I think is helpful for that because you can sketch out your quarter, your whole year, and then make sure that everybody’s in charge of a different piece of it. So all the communication happens there.
That’s super interesting. So on the relationships front, how do you use Sophya and other tools to ensure you’re building the right relationships? And what is your advice for people to solve for relationships in a fully distributed or a hybrid team?
That is a great question. If you read the news nowadays, one of the biggest things you’ll notice is that company leaders embrace work from home and work from anywhere forever but are worried about the watercooler chats and the spontaneous interactions between teammates. And there’s a research paper that showed that the way you get true innovation is contrary to what one might think. It’s the mixing of very disparate verticals that’s important. Like, you’ve got someone with one skill set, and then someone with a completely other skill set comes along, and then they blend their two worlds and then come out with something.
So, for example, if you’re using calendar links and one form of video chat that doesn’t give you that spontaneous ability where you can see where your teammates are, you risk losing a lot of those serendipitous bump-ins. I call them the middle moments that happen in any working day. And to go back to make sure everybody’s following the through-line here: I was saying that there are two schools of people right now. One is the people thinking about going remote but saying: “Oh, we need to solve this problem to make sure that we’re retaining the creativity and the innovation that we feel we have in the office.” And then the second group is the people who are like: “We are going back to the office because we don’t have tools, and we want that social interaction to make sure that we engineer innovation in that way.”
And so for us, one of the great things is we feel that we have something where both needs can be met. If all you know is Zoom and Slack, then, of course, you’re going to want to go back to the office. But if you know that we’re entering the golden age of remote work and companies are building wonderful tools to solve that exact problem, then you’re going to think twice. That’s why we’re passionate about what we’re building. We love being close to our teammates.
The second part of your question was about how we use Sophya to build relationships. So we use a mix of calendaring inside the application, so for example, if we have team games a couple of times a week, people who are inside the world will get a notification that says: “Hey, games are starting, teleport to them!” and then you teleport to the games and all your teammates are there and they’re running around, and you see emojis flying around, and you can see who’s talking and all that stuff, even if you’re not in a conversation with them, you can see the liveliness of conversations happening outside of your video tiles which is interesting. And so there’s a bunch of different ways that we actively build relationships using Sophya, but there’s a bunch of ways that you passively build relationships in there as well.
So one of those ways is just by seeing the activity around you. One of the drawbacks of using video only is that you can’t show that much personality. Let’s say there’s 20 of us on the screen, and there’s like a Brady Bunch-ish style of chat happening. The remaining 18 people who aren’t having a conversation are just going to be sitting there with their red lights on, and you can’t tell anything about them or attempt to build a relationship with them.
In Sophya, we’ve used an utterly gamified approach, and so everybody gets their avatar. You can customize it to look however you want. So we have like 24 million combinations of what you can look like, which is a lot of fun. And so, just by seeing what people are wearing and how people are presenting themselves, you kind of get to know them more. And so you can constantly be doing these little things that add up in terms of building a foundation of trust and relationship, and that’s just a small example.
Sounds great! Do you have any advice for product engineering leaders building distributed teams in terms of things to do to make sure that people have the right relationships with each other?
Totally, yeah. So we take culture very, very seriously, and we think good relationships are at the foundation of a great culture. I love that quote: “Your culture is what happens when the founder isn’t around.”
What that means is that not only do you have to have excellent standards, but you have to have clearly articulated principles or virtues. And so it starts from the selection and hiring process. We make sure that we’re upfront with all of our candidates and tell them this is who we are and what it will be like to work here. There are particular traits that we seek. Humility is one of the biggest ones. Being people-smart is another one. And the next hunger to succeed. We focus a lot on discipline in our company. And so we made sure that people that we bring in are very disciplined because if they’re very disciplined in their work, they’ll probably be disciplined in their approach to their friendships and relationships. So it starts in the selection.
We also do a series of these personality tests to get a sense of where a person may be best placed on the team. So we do three, which is probably overkill, but we think each of them serves a very different purpose.
And so one helps us to understand it’s like the typical personality. So I’m an ENTJ (MBTI), right, and that allows me to know that I need to soften my edges, much of the time.
We also do something called the Working Genius, which is Patrick Lencioni’s group’s test.
And then, we do another test called Predictive Index to understand how much flexibility people prefer. So there’s an intentional process of bringing people in and building and constructing the team. And then every other week, we have something called the Growth Club where we take a reading, and we break it down into lessons. Every teammate writes how the article made them reflect on problems that they’ve faced in their life. We always aim to have things be more personal because we think that if you break down communication barriers between people in a healthy way, they’re going to do their best work together because they’re developing this baseline of trust.
That’s super interesting. Do you conduct these tests to figure out how to best communicate with this person and put them in a position where they will be successful and happy?
Exactly. We don’t do this in a vacuum. All of these other considerations are thought about and discussed with the candidate. All the results are shared, all the thinking is open. We try not to be prescriptive and say: “Oh, you are super high detail-oriented. Therefore, you can only be our company counsel or like a data scientist.” But they’re like: “I’m an artist.” So we want to put people in their sweet spot. And generally, if you get people to sort of vibe on the same wavelength like that, people will feel understood. And that works well.
And that changed my whole thinking about these things because it’s not really about forcing people into positions. It’s about saying: “How do we make sure that different types of people can succeed together when they don’t know each other?”
Absolutely. That makes a lot of sense. So, switching topics a little bit. I know one thing that’s on top of everyone’s mind: fully remote vs. hybrid. How do you think about fully remote vs. hybrid? What is your advice to people thinking through that decision for their companies?
Yeah, I think my company used to believe a lot more in what hybrid could be, but I think our thinking has evolved a little bit. This view might sound contentious, but we think that hybrid is a delay tactic. It’s like: “I haven’t made up my mind yet.” I’m going to take the example to the extreme. You think about Facebook or Google, or Apple. They initially were like: “Oh, we’re going to be returning to the office. That’s what we’re gonna do.” But then their employees were like: “Well, I moved to the other side of the country, and I bought a house with my husband, and I have a kid and a dog. So, no thanks. You know what, I’m gonna work from here because by the way, over the last year and a half, we’ve launched some of the best things that our company has ever done. We had our most profitable quarter since we began as a company. So, no, thanks.”
And so, it’s a tough argument for companies to be making. Companies might even think of doing three days a week in the office or three days remotely.
Well, that doesn’t work for the person who lives on the other side of the country. Meanwhile, all the people in the office are like: “Okay, so which teams go in on what days?” So there still has to be coordination. And then, given that the office will be 30 percent capacity on any given day do you need that much real estate in Palo Alto? What about the huge campus that costs millions of dollars a year?
And while all that’s happening, you have other companies who have engaged fully remote, and what they’re doing is they’re saying: “Hey, come work with us, we’ll pay you a great salary, and you can live life on your terms,” and that’s going to be a competitive edge in hiring.
One of my friends said the other day: “Off-site is the new on-site.” So I think hybrid will not last for very long; instead, it will turn into companies that allow people to work from anywhere forever. And then the hybrid model will morph into just hangout spots. I think Basecamp has something like this, where they have a couple of little base camps in different parts of the US, and you could go in and co-work together for a day, but that’s not the norm by any means. And I think hybrid will not be a norm, either.
It’s super interesting. Why is it that you think we can sort of sense some top-down management push to get people in the office, at least some percentage of the time? Why do you think that is?
Yeah, so, you know, I don’t think it’s all that complicated. If people who are accountable for really excellent teamwork and results don’t have systems, then they’re going to be worried, and they’re going to want to swim back to shore and grab the pier. But that’s all I think it is. If a team doesn’t know that they have options that will speak directly to their concerns, then they’re going to be worried, and they’re going to want to go back to in-person.
The managers and the upper sort of executive and leadership, they’re humans too. They want to spend time with their families. They don’t want to miss their kids’ first steps. They want to be able to walk their dogs. And so, I think any leadership person will derive the same benefits as the employees. It’s just a different set of pressures that are on each group. And they just don’t yet know that it doesn’t have to be Zoom and Slack, no offense, again, to those companies, but I’m just saying.
I’ve genuinely enjoyed this chat, and I want to close with one question for you. Besides Sophya, what are some tools that you found to be supremely helpful in running a fully remote-first company that you would recommend for people, building the offices of the future?
Well, you know, I’m biased because I know you, but I do have to give Turing a nod here. We’ve found it to be super helpful. It’s easy. We can find precisely the skill sets we’re seeking. We can book consultations, and we get a breakdown of the Google-level staff equivalent of this person. So, it just makes it very easy for us and, it’s taken engineering recruitment to a different level.
The other one that I think has been super helpful is Asana. And I say this because we’ve been trying to move the company entirely off of Slack because I think Slack does a lot of unhealthy things for people in some emotional state. Everything seems urgent, and things get lost and all that stuff. And I know that was probably the intent behind creating it, but for us, that’s not quite working, so we think we can manage communication through Sophya and Asana.
And then we do a lot of our recruiting and searching through Turing. Our engineering team has their whole suite of tools. But, from a perspective of a team-wide set of tools? That’s mostly Sophya and Asana.
That sounds great. Thank you for joining me on Turing Distinguished Leader Series, Vishal.
For more of Jonathan’s conversations with other Distinguished Engineering Leaders, go here.
Image Credit: Provided by the author; from www.freepik.com
9 Healthcare Marketing Strategies to Attract and Engage Patients
If you’re a healthcare provider looking for new and effective ways to find and engage potential patients, you’ve come to the right place. In this blog post, we’ll look at nine healthcare marketing strategies that can help you attract more patients and increase your patient engagement. From leveraging social media to investing in search engine optimization, these healthcare marketing strategies will give you the tools to reach out to and build relationships with potential patients. So, let’s get started.
1) Define your audience
Identifying the target audience for your healthcare marketing efforts is an essential first step in any marketing strategy. You need to determine who your ideal patient is so you can craft effective messaging and use the right tactics to reach them.
Start by considering the demographics of your current patients and those most likely to be interested in your services. Take into account age, gender, income level, location, and other factors that might be relevant.
Then, think about the pain points or needs your services can address. It will help you identify potential customers who could benefit from your offer. For example, if you specialize in sports medicine, you’ll want to target athletes and active individuals who are likely looking for solutions to common injuries or health issues.
2) Foster relationships with referring physicians
Building relationships with referring physicians is great for your healthcare marketing strategy. Physicians are well-respected and highly trusted in the healthcare industry, so building meaningful relationships with them is important. Doing so will help you gain access to their patient referral networks and increase your visibility in the community.
Start by introducing yourself and your practice to referring physicians. Ask for their contact information and make sure to keep it up-to-date. Connect with them on social media, if appropriate. Offer to attend conferences and meetings they are attending, or invite them to yours. Offer them patient education materials, discounts on services, or other incentives that show your appreciation.
You can also offer referring physicians helpful resources and advice, such as regular updates on medical advances or educational materials related to their specialties. Make sure that your content is always accurate and up-to-date. Finally, be sure to follow up with referring physicians regularly. It will show them you value their relationship and help maintain positive working relationships.
3) Research your competition
Understanding your competitors is essential when it comes to healthcare marketing. Knowing what strategies they use and how successful they are can help you improve your tactics and stay ahead of the game.
Start by researching the demographics of your target market – who are they, what do they need, and how can you reach them? Analyze their services and offerings and evaluate their marketing tactics. Ask yourself how you can differentiate your services from theirs, what makes your product better, and how you can beat them in terms of quality, cost, or convenience.
Look for trends in their marketing campaigns and see what works for them. Analyze their approach and create a plan that capitalizes on their weaknesses and maximizes your strengths. Discover what makes them unique and use this knowledge to inform your marketing strategy.
4) Incorporate SEO into your website
Search engine optimization (SEO) is essential for healthcare marketing and can help increase organic traffic to your website. It involves optimizing keywords, phrases, titles, headings, images, and other elements on web pages to appear higher in search engine results.
Optimize your website for search engines to ensure that it ranks high when users search for topics related to your practice. The higher your site appears in the search results, the more traffic it will get –more opportunities to convert leads into appointments.
SEO helps you get found by potential patients and keep existing patients coming back. As an essential part of your healthcare marketing plan, it’s important to understand how to incorporate SEO into your website.
First, you’ll need to create content that is both informative and optimized for search engines. Research relevant keywords related to your practice and target audience, then use those keywords in your website content. Ensure you don’t overuse the keywords, which can negatively affect your rankings.
It’s also important to ensure your site is easy to navigate and contains fresh, unique content. It will improve user experience and encourage visitors to stay longer on your site. Additionally, ensure that your website works on all devices and browsers. It will maximize the number of people who can access your site, increasing your ranking in search engine results.
5) Use social media
Social media is another powerful tool when it comes to healthcare marketing. Not only does it allow you to interact with potential patients directly, but it also builds relationships with current and potential referral sources. Utilizing social media channels allows you to share valuable information about your practice and create content that engages with patients and drives new leads.
Regarding healthcare marketing, social media is important to your overall plan. With a well-executed social media strategy, you can reach a wide audience quickly and easily. It’s essential to have an active presence on major platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube, as they provide excellent opportunities for reaching a wide range of audiences.
The key to success is to create content that resonates with your target audience and can convert leads into actual customers. Post relevant information about your services and helpful health tips, and answer questions from potential patients.
Ensure to include visuals whenever possible, as this will help grab your audience’s attention. Also, use hashtags to make your posts more visible and encourage user engagement. Responding quickly to comments and questions is important to foster relationships with potential patients. Finally, measure and track the results of your efforts through analytics software like Google Analytics or Facebook Insights.
6) Develop a strong brand
When it comes to healthcare marketing, creating a strong and unique brand is essential. It is your opportunity to stand out from the competition. Crafting an eye-catching logo and website and utilizing high-quality visuals can help you make a powerful impression on potential patients.
Another great way to build your brand is by creating custom content. Leveraging educational materials like blog posts and videos can help showcase your expertise. Sharing success stories and patient testimonials can also be effective in building trust with potential patients. Look for opportunities to get your name out in the local community. Attending events and partnering with other organizations are great ways to boost your visibility.
Participating in local events is a great way to interact with potential patients and show them why your services are superior. It also allows you to network with local healthcare professionals and gain referrals.
You can also host educational webinars or live chats to educate your patients and generate leads (healthcaremailing dotcom). Tools like Zoom or YouTube Live will allow you to stream the content and engage with people who aren’t physically present in the room. It can also help you reach a wider audience since many patients won’t be able to attend in person and may not have access to your event unless they know it beforehand.
You can ask questions during the webinar or chat and collect data from those who participate through their answers before ending the session with an action plan for following up with those who respond positively. It allows for better follow-up than just sending automated emails out afterward – you’ll get actual feedback from real people.
7) Invest in content marketing
Healthcare Content marketing is a powerful tool for healthcare providers to attract and engage new patients. It involves creating and distributing content related to your business’s services or products. It aims to educate and inform potential patients about your practice, services, and how you can help them.
Content marketing can take the form of articles, blog posts, infographics, videos, podcasts, social media posts, and other forms of media. This type of content provides value to potential patients and can help establish you as an authority figure in the industry. By creating high-quality content that is informative and engaging, you can help potential patients learn more about your practice and its offerings. You can also use content marketing to build trust with current and prospective patients.
Content marketing can be done in-house or outsourced to a content creation agency. If you choose to outsource, select an agency with expertise in the healthcare industry that can create accurate, relevant, and up-to-date content.
No matter your approach, content marketing can be an effective strategy for reaching new patients and building relationships with them. By investing in content marketing, you’ll be able to keep your website updated, attract more organic traffic from search engines, and give your current and prospective patients the information they need to make an informed decision about their healthcare.
8) Advertise online
Online advertising can be a great way to reach potential patients and those in your care. You can use platforms like Google Ads and Facebook Ads to target potential patients based on location, age, gender, interests, and more.
Online advertising can help you promote awareness of your practice and services, increase brand visibility, and even drive conversions. You can also ensure your messages reach the right people with the right targeting. Just do your research and understand the different types of ad formats available.
For example, some formats are better suited to creating brand awareness, while others may be better for lead generation. Additionally, have clear, concise messaging with strong call-to-action (CTA). It will help ensure that your online ads are effective in driving conversions.
Paid advertising on social media channels or platforms like Google Ads is another great way to reach potential patients. Setting up ads allows you to target specific population segments, which increases the likelihood of getting clicks and converting leads into customers.
9) Implement lead capture forms
Lead capture forms are essential in any successful healthcare marketing strategy. They allow you to collect information from potential patients, such as name, email address, phone number, and other contact information. This data allows you to track your leads and nurture them into becoming paying customers.
To get the most out of lead capture forms, design them for maximum conversion. It means providing an easy-to-use interface with a clear call to action that encourages users to take action. You should also include a field for additional comments or questions so that you can gather more detailed information about your leads.
Your lead capture forms should also be strategically placed throughout your website. Place them prominently on your homepage, or add them to key service and contact pages. Additionally, consider offering incentives to encourage people to fill out the forms, such as discounts or free consultations.
By investing in lead capture forms, you can track your leads and nurture them into becoming loyal customers. The right combination of design, placement, and incentives can make all the difference in finding and engaging patients.
Healthcare marketing is a unique opportunity to build relationships and connections with your audience. These people will benefit from your products and services to be incredibly loyal customers. By putting yourself out there in a way that resonates best with your target demographic — and by keeping an eye on what makes them tick — you’ll find that you have a much easier time engaging them on social media or in person at events like conferences or expositions.
Hopefully, we leave you with insights on the marketing strategies that can help you find and engage patients in a way that leads them to take action.
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Alternatives to Layoffs in Tech: Maintaining a Stable Workforce
The tech industry is volatile and subject to the whims of the market. With the recession that’s predicted to hit the global economy in late 2023, companies everywhere, from small startups to major enterprises, are already taking countermeasures to combat it. Ironically, the most commonly employed countermeasure is large-scale layoffs.
Just recently, Microsoft announced 10,000 job cuts, impacting nearly 5% of its global workforce, as part of “workforce reduction” measures the company is taking. This was soon followed by a similar announcement from Google’s parent company, Alphabet. CEO Sundar Pichai commented on the downsizing, saying the company had “hired for a different economic reality” than what it’s up against today.
During times of economic hardship, it is important for companies to maintain a stable, employed workforce. This is why many businesses are searching for alternatives to layoffs as a method to get through these challenging times. Let’s explore what some of these potential alternatives could be.
A substitute for layoffs is to recruit fewer people each month in the first place. Companies might limit the pace of new recruits and concentrate on keeping their present employees. This is one of the factors that they can adapt to rather than reduce their current staff.
During the height of the pandemic, companies like Amazon, Meta, and Microsoft hired and grew their employee base significantly. In contrast, Apple hired at a more modest rate compared to its peers, adding only 17,000 new recruits between 2020 and 2022. Now that uncertain times are ahead, and we see the consequences of overhiring in the form of mass layoffs. On the other hand, Apple has avoided using layoffs as a tool to deal with these dire circumstances.
The implementation of a hiring freeze is an additional alternative to laying off present employees. This entails putting a temporary stop to all new hiring until the business’s financial situation improves. By doing so, companies can cut expenditures while maintaining the current staff.
Another reason why Apple is not laying off its employees like its counterparts — is that it implemented a hiring freeze in November 2022 to prepare for the turbulent times that are ahead. There’s no news on when the freeze will be lifted, with sources even saying that it could go on until September 2023.
Reducing Working Hours
Reducing the number of hours a worker works each week is one such option that can prove to be beneficial. This enables businesses to maintain their personnel while also cutting expenditures. Employees who are able to keep their jobs but with fewer hours worked may also benefit from it, freeing up more time for other activities.
Reducing hours, not workers, is the right for forward-looking business leaders to institute today. 73 companies in the UK ran an experiment with a four-day workweek. The results showed that managers and employees generally described being more or equally productive in a shortened week. A shorter work week gives employees more time to spend with their friends and family and also focuses on any hobbies or part-time ventures that they wish to cultivate.
Voluntary Separation or Leave
Offering voluntary unpaid leave is another substitute for permanently laying off workers. Although this reduces the number of employees, it also gives them the option to return to their positions later. This is advantageous for the employer and employee because it lets workers take a short break while businesses save money.
Alternatively, companies can also implement a voluntary separation program. This enables employees to willingly leave the organization in exchange for severance compensation. This may be a successful strategy for reducing the workforce while still treating the impacted workers with fairness and compassion. Coca-Cola offered voluntary separation packages to 4000 employees in North America, and it included some major incentives like at least a year’s pay plus a 20% bump.
Focusing on Employee Retention
The most optimal way to avoid layoffs is to reduce employee turnover. High turnover can lead to a constant need to fill available positions, which can be costly and time-consuming. Businesses can decrease the number of unfilled positions and the need to hire and train new employees by putting more emphasis on employee retention and taking measures to improve it. Employers can concentrate on keeping their present staff members by offering them competitive wage packages, flexible work schedules, and opportunities for career advancement.
When to layoff employees?
It’s crucial to remember that laying off employees should only be used as a last resort. Additionally, when layoffs are unavoidable, the business should manage the situation with transparency and empathy. It’s vital to avoid doing bad layoffs or for the wrong reasons. The recent Twitter layoffs are a prime example of a bad layoff, with employees either being informed by email that they have been laid off or finding out after discovering that they have been locked out of their work laptops or communication channels.
Layoffs are not always the best option and can often be detrimental to the organization as a whole. Companies can keep a steady workforce while still controlling expenses and adapting to market changes by thinking about possible alternatives to layoffs. Employers should be aware of their options and carefully consider them while putting the interests of their staff first.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Christina Morillo; Pexels; Thank you!
4 Software Tools Solopreneurs Need in 2023
Solopreneurs may be the pluckiest type of entrepreneur there is. They decide to bring their business idea to life on their own without the assistance of a team. Solopreneurs can start their companies as side hustles to develop additional career interests. Or they may go all in, hoping to reap the rewards of flexibility and autonomy.
While complete control can be a huge benefit of solopreneurship, it’s not a walk in the park. Since owners tackle everything alone, finding ways to streamline all the to-dos becomes paramount. Without essential software tools, tasks may pile up because they’re too challenging or time-consuming to complete alone. Below we’ll dive into four tools solopreneurs can use to make their jobs easier.
1. Legal Document Management Apps
Every business sells something. It could be intangible, such as bookkeeping services. Perhaps it’s something more physical, like a commissioned work of art. Or it’s a mixture where someone receives a finished product, but services like web development are a part of it.
In each case, a solopreneur has something to offer clients. But managing these relationships usually involves legal agreements, including contracts. Without them, it’s hard to hold either party accountable. Contracts spell out expectations for performance and payment, giving each side some protection and recourse.
The problem is that not many solopreneurs have a background in contract law. In addition, organizing all the paperwork associated with binding agreements can get messy. Most will find it easier to use a contract management platform to handle this side of the business. With the right app, the processes behind creating and signing contracts become more efficient. Owners can automate repetitive tasks, secure e-signatures, and gain cloud storage space.
2. Invoicing Software
Solopreneurship doesn’t eliminate the need for invoice management. Whether a business is a large enterprise or a one-person endeavor, it depends on the exchange of money. Funds flow out to vendors and other companies for supplies. More importantly, revenues come in from those purchasing what the business sells.
Money can exchange hands at the point of sale, but many solopreneurs offer services. With this type of business model, revenue usually comes in after the fact. A graphic designer may perform recurring work for six different clients. However, the designer won’t receive payment until each client approves the agreed-upon deliverables. This setup requires invoicing, which can become tedious for any business owner.
It’s even more cumbersome for solopreneurs, who must juggle projects and chase down payments at the same time. A report from the Independent Economy Council found getting paid is one of the top challenges for freelancers. An astonishing 74% of gig workers say they’re not receiving on-time payments. Unbelievably, 59% say they’re still waiting for $50,000 or more.
Yet 38% are still creating invoices from scratch using word processing tools, and such invoices must be tracked manually as well. Invoicing software saves solopreneurs from having to do this. They can reuse templates, track when invoices go out, and determine which payments are late. Invoicing apps streamline the process of following up with late or missed payments and signal the need for tough client conversations. Also, these software tools automatically make deposits into bank accounts and simplify income tax preparation.
3. Task Organizers
Making to-do lists takes time away from doing the work. Even so, it’s a necessary step in the planning process. Solopreneurs who devote their attention to every aspect of running a business will find it difficult to succeed without organization. Spreadsheets and word processing programs might seem like a convenient solution. But these software tools are often too simplistic to meet the needs of a busy owner handling it all.
Project management solutions are great for larger companies because they keep teams in collaboration mode. A business with one person may find project management apps too complex. After all, they’re the only ones tracking tasks, creating timelines, and delivering outcomes. Solutions that organize to-do lists are usually a better fit.
These apps let solopreneurs initiate tasks, categorize outstanding items, and establish priorities. They can see what’s on their plate each day before it begins. If a deadline needs reprioritizing, it’s not too difficult to rearrange. A business owner can immediately see how a shift in priorities will impact the rest of their scheduled responsibilities. Furthermore, task organizers will send reminders of critical deadlines so nothing gets missed.
4. Social Media Tools
Statistical research shows 33% of marketers spend between one and five hours weekly on social media. While this represents the majority, about 23% dedicate six to 10 hours weekly to social media marketing. This time may seem like a drop in the bucket for larger companies, but it can be more significant to solopreneurs.
Sole business operators aren’t relying on the talents of a social media manager to post for them. Marketing, including social media posts, is something they must plan as part of their day. Simultaneously, social media may become like a rabbit hole they can’t escape. A solopreneur’s productivity can take a nosedive if they get too caught up in posting content.
Fortunately, there are apps that can automate posts for owners who want to avoid distraction. Solopreneurs can still engage with their customer base while getting back a portion of their time. Social media software tools let them automatically schedule posts for each week. If business owners have a long-range content calendar, these platforms can execute it. Sudden changes aren’t a problem, as it’s possible to cancel or modify automated posts.
What Solopreneurs Need
Operating a business is daunting enough for owners who have teams to rely on. Those who do it by themselves are, without a doubt, a different breed. They’re not afraid to face challenges, knowing they can learn to handle whatever comes their way. But it doesn’t mean solopreneurs can’t gain advantages from adding specific software to their toolkits. Apps that make everyday processes less of a chore can also make running a solo venture less overwhelming.
Featured Image Credit: by Judit Peter; Pexels; Thanks!