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Management

Building a Successful Startup: The Dos and Don’ts

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The idea of being your own boss and finding a potentially lucrative gap in the market is clearly too tempting to pass up, and as a result a staggering 100 million businesses are now launched every year, according to the GEM Global Report.

However, it’s definitely not plain sailing for these new-born startup companies. Unfortunately, it’s common knowledge that a disappointingly large proportion of them will go bust within the first few years. Although the exact fail rates vary depending on the source; some say around 50%, others say 90%, while the figures below from Statistic Brain are a bit more positive. However, whatever the real statistics are, it’s safe to say that many startups simply won’t make it to their first birthday.

While there are always going to be challenges involved with setting up a new business, there are things you can do in order to lay a solid foundation and protect it as much as possible. With this in mind, Global Database have put together a guide with some useful dos and don’ts to keep in mind when setting up your venture.

DON’T Rely on Trends

When it comes to choosing the product or service that your business will offer, don’t give too much weight to current trends. Fads come and go, and your startup could disappear along with them. Look for something that consumers’ really need; although being passionate about what you’re selling is great, ultimately you should remember that in order to be profitable your startup needs to appeal to have a certain mass appeal – passion projects do not become successful businesses if no one other than you is interested.

A recent study by CB Insights discovered that the top reason (42%) for startups failing is simply because there was a basic lack of market need for their product. In order to get around this, do plenty of research beforehand and talk to your target audience; put yourself in their shoes and look for solutions to the everyday challenges they face.

DON’T Set Unrealistic Goals

One of the biggest problems in startups today is the lack of realistic expectations and targets. Firstly, there’s the almost laughable belief amongst some founders that setting up their own venture is essentially a get-rich-quick scheme; something that any successful entrepreneur will know is usually far from the truth. Don’t let money be your main motivation for your business; focus on solving the problem that you’ve chosen and commit to thorough research and analysis to set realistic goals. This goes for your timelines as well; all too often startup founders are too impatient and eager to drive the business forward before it’s fully ready.

DON’T Go OTT on Perks

Given the often long hours and uncertain futures involved with working for a startup, it perhaps isn’t surprising that they usually have a higher staff turnover rate in contrast to established businesses; a Wall Street Journal article notes that startup attrition rates can be up to 15% higher. While there is a clear need to provide your staff with a positive work environment, don’t get caught up in the contest to hand out the most perks. This form of keeping up with the Jones’ has become a very expensive trend; last year Dropbox announced that they would be cutting back on their perks, after having worked out that they were costing the company $25,000 a year per employee.

There are plenty of other, much less expensive, ways to ensure your staff are more likely to stick around. Start by focusing on people who are passionate and create a friendly working environment where everyone feels listened to. Allowing your staff a greater level of autonomy in their everyday work lives is also a great way to make them feel valued, and you should also never underestimate the power of simply thanking your staff on a job well done. Gamification can also be great for motivation; turn your targets into a contest and enjoy the fruits of your employees’ competitive sides as a result.

Here are three more simple ideas for employee benefits as featured in the SHRM 2017 Employee Benefits Report:

DO Minimise

Stripping your startup back to basics is not only important for keeping your costs as low as possible, it also makes it easier for you and your team to focus on your goals. Get back to the basics, ask yourself why you do what you do, and get rid of everything that isn’t actually helping your business to become sustainable. Meetings, long negotiations, irrelevant blog posts, time spent on weekend work — filter what you actually need and what actually helps, using the 80/20 rule. When it comes to your everyday organisation, make sure you prioritise correctly and get into the habit of identifying the most urgent tasks ahead of time. Break your activities down into steps to prevent yourself becoming overwhelmed.

DO use the Right Tools

In today’s technology-driven world keeping up to date is essential; your business could fail solely because you don’t have the right tech at hand. Not only does having the correct tools make your startup more efficient, it could also potentially be the difference between your target customers converting or not; for example, if you have a clunky website or lacklustre security tool. Do your research on what your competitors are using and keep an eye on updates in your industry.

When it comes to employing the basic resources your business will need to function efficiently, these will generally include a hosting provider, an email responder, and a payment gateway system. Employing the use of a contact database can also be extremely useful for startups; Global Database’s B2B directory offers a wealth of key tools such as email lists, detailed company details and digital insights, so you can easily reach out to thousands of potential customers in an instant, as well as taking an in-depth look at your competition.

DO Allow for Flexibility

Although having a detailed business plan is undoubtedly important, what is equally vital is ensuring that it can be adapted when the situation arises (and believe me, at some point, it will). It’s one thing to have an idea of how things will pan out, but when it comes to putting it into practice there are any number of things that could be detrimental to your startup if not dealt with efficiently. Keep a watchful eye on your analytics, talk to your customers about their experience with your brand and make sure you’re always up to date with both your competitors’ activities and what’s happening in your industry in general.

There are no guarantees when it comes to setting up a new business, but provided you have a problem-solving product and a clear vision coupled with realistic goals and the right tools, you will already be ahead of many of your contemporaries. It’s also important to accept that mistakes are inevitable, but can provide a great opportunity to learn and do the best for your business going forward.

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Management

5 Common Scheduling Issues and How to Avoid Them

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Creating a reliable and effective work schedule is crucial to growing your business. A great timetable will make your employees happy, which will attract more customers.

On the flipside, a poorly-constructed schedule could have serious consequences.

Employee fatigue has been the cause of many disasters, like the Chernobyl nuclear explosion and the Exxon Valdez oil spill. As a manager, you’ve got to be aware of your employees’ feelings, mentally and physically.

Failing to notice these problems could hurt your company, causing financial loss. Read on to learn about 5 common scheduling issues, and how you can make work schedules work for you.

1. Overworked Workers

As a member of the retail or service industry, you’re no doubt familiar with the dreaded “clopening.” A closing shift (ending at 10 or 11 PM) followed immediately by an opener (beginning 7 or 8 AM) is a lot to put on one person.

Driving and taking care of essential needs can take 2 or more hours. This schedule for work leaves your employee with 6 hours or less to sleep. S/he will come in the next morning exhausted, and you’ll suffer lost time, productivity, or both.

Avoid employee fatigue with software that looks for consecutive shifts and corrects them. Combat it with breaks and regular shift check-ins.

2. Imbalances

The US ranks in the bottom 20% for work-life balance. Americans have less time to take care of themselves, even though they need an average of 9.58 hours a day to address personal needs.

Making schedules for employees requires careful planning. As a leader, understanding your workers’ needs will make you more effective.

They’ll thank you for it by being more productive.

3. Sudden No-Shows

Studies show that 38% of employees have called out of work despite feeling fine.

Last-minute absences can cause severe scheduling issues. Doctor’s appointments, children, and car problems are just a few reasons someone may fail to come into work.

Making a work schedule that fits everyone’s needs is truly an art. Smart software can help alleviate the panic of trying to cover a shift. Allowing employee swaps or having separate teams of workers can help.

Hubworks rolled out their staff scheduling app in order to combat many scheduling issues. Check out their helpful guide to discover the benefits of smart work schedules.

4. Worker Turnover

A long-suffering employee can spell disaster for your company. Losing a few employees won’t be a major downfall. However, high employee turnover can hurt your profit and image.

Hiring someone means investing time, money, and resources to training and onboarding them. If you continue to lose people, it’s time to reassess scheduling issues and management style.

Above all, happy employees mean happy customers.

5. Too Few or Too Many

Too many workers on a shift can be just as bad as too few.

Your budget will shrink fast, and you’ll have to send people home. This means less time and money in both of your pockets.

Only schedule the people you need for that shift. You should alternate workers so that no one works multiple shifts in a row. Employees notice fairness – or lack thereof.

The Art of Combating Scheduling Issues

Figuring out how to schedule employees can be the difference between an okay-manager and a great one. It takes finesse, intelligence, and a dedicated team of individuals to overcome scheduling issues.

To get the best results you’ll need an innovative support system and advanced AI. Check out these great employee management programs to simplify your life.

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Management

How to Thrive in a Competitive Industry

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There are many competitive industries in the UK. Keeping a close eye on what your competitors are doing is essential to making sure that your business can stay one step ahead of the competition.

Consumers can now find companies in the comfort of their own home. Your business may be great, but it also needs to be discovered by the right audience online.  If you find yourself getting lost amongst your competitors, try a new angle and give customers something different.

Kamran Mirshahi is the director of Canary Claims, specialising in PPI claims. Customers can choose to make a claim themselves or use a reputable PPI claims company. But, even if a customer decides to use a PPI claims service, there are a number to choose from. In July 2018, the government put in place a fee cap for all PPI claims companies – and this created even greater competition as many companies now charge the same price.

Despite challenges and rogue PPI claims companies giving the industry a bad name, Kamran has succeeded and thrived in the market. Below, he outlines how your business can do the same.

Create a Unique Selling Point

What is your business’s unique selling point? There needs to be something different about you to stand out. It could be that all UK deliveries are free or you only stock ethical products. For service businesses, do you offer something free to try and convert customers? Whatever it is, make sure it’s different from your competitors.

As a PPI claims company, making our price substantially lower than many other companies was one way to thrive in the industry.

Offer the Best Price

The price point is essential for all companies. How do you balance making enough profit with giving customers a fair price? Return on Investment (ROI) is an important sum to understand. If you believe that a lower price for customers will result in more sales, it could be the right choice for your business. If you are charging a higher rate than your competitors, you should make it clear to customers why this is – and what value you bring to them by charging more.

Have an Easy-to-Use Website

It’s been thirty years since the World Wide Web launched. The technology has revolutionised the way that individuals and companies operate. For companies, the need to stand out during a user’s search is pivotal to success. Creating an SEO-optimised website has never been so important.

But, even once a user lands on your website, they need to be able to access all of the information they require easily. This means your website needs to be user-friendly and transparent. Your target audience might not be tech-savvy – how does the site look to them?

Having an easily accessible website is a winner. Does it have a clear call to action? Is the language easy to read? Can the customer find out all of the information they need quickly and concisely? If not, address these issues.

Be Upfront with Customers

Honesty and integrity are words that a lot of businesses use. But do they all follow them through? Being upfront with customers about what they can expect from your product or service – as well as the cost – is vital.

One of the reasons for shopping cart abandonment is due to high shipping fees that customers weren’t aware of when they started their online shopping. Giving this information to customers can help to reduce this from happening. For those offering services, be clear with your fees upfront. In the PPI claims market, the percentage on a successful claim can make a huge difference to people and showing off a low price can help to increase the number of sales.

Even in competitive markets, you can make your business stand out amongst the competition. Create the best possible website and tell customers why you are the best in your industry.

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Management

5 Essential Questions to Ask Before You Rent Office Space

office

Your business is running full steam ahead! So much so that you’re looking to rent new office space.

But before you sign that dotted line, do you know exactly what you’re getting into and how it will affect your business?

Many people don’t realize choosing the wrong office space can bring business to a screeching halt.

Before you let that happen to you, here are 5 important questions to ask before you rent office space.

1. Is the Location Convenient?

When it comes to real estate matters, it’s always about location, location, location. And the same holds true for your office space.

Make sure it’s a location your employees will be able to get to easily. You’ll want your clients to have no problems finding it. And having good amenities close by is a win for everybody.

2. Will the Size Work for My Needs?

Of course, you’ll want to rent out a space that will comfortably fit your team. But also think about any future growth.

Do you plan to add team members in the future? Will other members work remote and not need a desk?

It’s a balancing act between renting enough space or renting too much. If you think your needs will change, try using flexible workspaces like beoffices.com.

3. Is the Rent Within My Budget?

You want the best workspace possible, but you don’t want to stretch your budget too thin. That’s why you need to take all costs into consideration when renting office space.

Is the rent and deposit reasonable compared to other offices in the area? Are there any extra fees such as maintenance, security, or parking? What are the average utility bills for the space?

Every penny counts when meeting your budget, so read the fine print to find out exactly where your money is going.

4. Can I Get All the Services I Need?

Most businesses rely heavily on a fast and consistent internet speed. Not to mention mobile phone service, cable, and other infrastructures that help a business run smoothly.

Contact the building owner and find out what they offer. It might also be a good idea to ask other businesses in the building, or the area, how their services are.

Check your cell phone service in different areas of the space. Ask if you can do an internet speed test. If the service is great, the owner won’t hesitate to agree to the test.

5. Does the Building Fit with My Brand?

The style of the building tends to be low on many people’s priority list when renting office space, but don’t discount it. If you’re a business that wants to project a particular brand image, your office space plays a key role in that.

Does the decor of the building blend with your brand? Are you able to make changes if not? Would you be proud to post pictures of your office for clients to see?

If any of your answers are no, you may want to keep looking around.

Get All the Facts Before You Rent Office Space

Before you rent office space, do your research. By asking these important questions, you’ll be sure to find the office space that works best for you and your business.

Now that you’ve got your office space in order, ready to build your employee engagement? Check out these 5 tips to boost engagement today!

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Management

4 Networking Tips for Solopreneurs

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As a solo entrepreneur, everything falls on your shoulders. If you don’t do something, it won’t get done. This includes networking. In order to build a thriving professional network, you have to prioritize time for establishing and nurturing mutually beneficial relationships.

The Value of Networking

Many entrepreneurs and freelancers see networking as something that they could do if they had more time. But it’s time to stop viewing networking as an optional or supplemental activity. Networking is, in fact, one of the single most important investments you can make in the longevity of your career.

Networking is all about building credibility and establishing long-term relationships that are mutually beneficial. It can take months or years for your efforts to pay off, but the results will come.

“Not all of your professional connections will need your services right away,” entrepreneur Neil Kokemuller admits. “However, since you have a connection with them, you have a top-of-mind-awareness advantage when they need your help. This point is especially true if you consistently keep your work and message in front of them.”

You’ll also find value in rubbing shoulders with people who are talented and skilled in areas that you aren’t. Not only can you gather insights and advice from them, but some of their knowledge may actually rub off on you.

4 Tips for Solopreneurs

As a freelancer or entrepreneur, you’re in a unique position. On the one hand, you don’t have access to some of the same networking resources that your employed peers do. However, you have the freedom and flexibility to pursue networking opportunities that others can’t. The key is to make the most of your situation and to continually pursue networking as a long-term investment. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Join Local Groups and Organizations

As a freelancer, you don’t have the benefit of being associated with an established business. This means you lack some of the same connections that employees of large organizations have. You can overcome this deficiency by joining local groups and organizations in your industry. Your membership in these groups will give you access to events, conferences, and career opportunities.

2. Leverage Your Personal Network

There’s also something to be said for leveraging your personal network to discover opportunities and find new connections. Every friend, relative, neighbor, or former classmate is a potentially valuable resource for you and your career. Cultivate these relationships by regularly catching up and/or informing them about what you’re doing.

3. Join a Coworking Space

For many freelancers, working from home is somewhat problematic in the sense that it eliminates your ability to rub shoulders with people on a daily basis. To combat this isolation, join a coworking space that allows you to mingle with other people, yet still remain focused and productive.

“Each tenant gets to be part of a larger network of lawyers, marketers, accountants, entrepreneurs, creatives, artists, and students,” Novel Coworking explains. “You can meet other tenants at networking events, happy hours, and lunch and learns. Your next intern, business partner, or customer could be just across the hallway from your office.”

The beauty of renting coworking space is that you have the flexibility to work when and where you want. If you’re getting cabin fever working from home, you can head to the coworking space for a change of scenery. If the weather is nasty and you don’t feel like going outside, you can simply work from home one day. It’s your call!

4. Build an Online Presence

In today’s world, online networking is just as important as in-person networking. As a solopreneur, you have just as much opportunity as the next professional to take full advantage of this.

The key to online networking is to establish a brand and build up a digital presence. You can do this by creating a website, developing social media profiles, publishing content, and utilizing LinkedIn or other online communities that are specific to your industry.

Adding it All Up

Networking isn’t easy or effortless. It’s gritty, tiresome work that often feels unrelenting and low-returning. However, a long-term investment will ultimately yield a healthy harvest of new opportunities. Prioritize networking, and you’ll infuse greater potential into your career. It’s as simple as that.

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Management

Hospitality Help: Tips to Use from Successful Franchises

startup

What if your franchise investment financially ruins you?

Most entrepreneurs hope opening a franchise is their key to sustainable profit. However, it’s easy to make rookie mistakes that sink your business before it really gets off the ground.

Fortunately, you can follow the tips of successful franchises to make your own a smash hit! Keep reading to discover our handy hospitality help guide.

Adjust Expectations

We hate to burst your bubble, but there’s something you should know: you’re not going to get rich quick as a franchisee.

Owning a franchise is mostly about embracing the “slow and steady win the race” mentality. Your goal is steady profit, and it’s hard enough to meet that goal. Overnight superstardom is not going to happen for you.

It sounds simple, but adjusting your expectations is one of the best moves you can make early on in your career. Instead of planning for explosive short-term success, you’ll start planning for long-term gains and growth.

All in all, it’s very Zen: only by accepting the very real possibility of failure can you achieve success.

Cultivate Leadership

Many workers see training as a one-shot deal. Someone like a managers gets specific training when they are hired and then they are good to go…right?

However, the challenges facing your franchise are going to change from year to year. And over enough time, your key demographics will change as well.

The solution to this is ongoing training and professional development opportunities for your managers and upper leadership. You can provide such training via multiple methods.

For example, training may be delivered via computer, in-person, or even via productivity apps such as Slack. Not only does this build better leaders, but it shows your employees you are invested in their success.

Customer-Centric

A successful franchise is something of a paradox. On one hand, part of your appeal is that customers are already familiar with your brand.

On the other hand, customers still want a unique experience. And this is where many franchises drop the ball.

You need to appeal to customers at the individual and community level. Don’t just sell them products: host special events, sponsor local charities, and so on.

Ultimately, you will attract more customers because they’ll want to support a company they see as supporting their community!

Talk With Your Peers

Sometimes, the simplest solutions are also the most effective. Want to figure out what makes a successful franchise? Then you should talk to a successful franchisee!

Don’t talk to just anyone, though. Ideally, you should speak with someone who owns a franchise of the same company and is relatively close to your area.

Such a person will know the ins and outs of running a successful franchise while navigating various corporate rules and regulations. And they will also know what makes the local population tick, giving you an advantage when it comes to sales and marketing.

You can also pair such discussions with your own external research. For instance, this helpful page is invaluable for those wanting a hotel franchise!

Everyone Trains

Want to hear the three words that spell doom for a franchise? Here they are: “not my job.”

Every employee has a special role to play in your organization. However, some employees are unable (or unwilling) to do anything outside of that role.

In a successful franchise, everyone should be willing to train everyone else. Employees shouldn’t be limited to their special skills: they must be able and willing to teach those skills to other people.

Make sure you are clear on this policy to anyone and everyone that you hire. When every worker is also willing to be a trainer and a leader, you will create a culture of success.

Set and Measure KPIs

Look, we get it: chances are you went into the franchise business to get away from the corporate world and be your own boss.

Nonetheless, there are certain corporate concepts that will help your business succeed. One of the most important is that you must have Key Performance Indicators.

The basic idea is that your franchise is never truly successful enough. You should have specific goals for the next weeks, months, and years, and you must have ways of measuring your success.

One simple way to do this is to rely on secret shoppers. That way, you can accurately gauge the experience your average customer has been having.

Location, Location, Location

You can build your franchise pretty much anywhere. Of course, that can be a good thing and a bad thing.

Many owners pick a location by going with their gut. But trust us on this one: you’ll want to go with your brain instead.

It’s important to think like a customer. Is your location close enough to the center of town? Do you have enough parking for everyone?

Be brutally honest about what the location will mean for your customer’s experiences. If things are annoying or inconvenient, they will quickly move on to a more convenient rival business!

Focus on Retention

Know the phrase “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush?” That phrase applies to employees as well!

It’s great to think about strategies for hiring new employees. But it’s actually much more important to hold onto the employees that you already have. They are going to be your most knowledgeable and most efficient workers.

Try to pay attention to how long the average worker works in a position before quitting (management software can help with this). It may be possible to provide reorientation, training, or incentives to retain these workers for longer periods of time.

For the most part, your customer’s experience is determined by your employees. It’s worth it to hold onto the best ones for as long as you can!

Successful Franchises: The Bottom Line

Now you know the secrets of the most successful franchises. But do you know where to get more of the info you need?

At Business Blog Hub, we bring you the advice you need to make your company shine. To discover your next moves, check out our management tips today!

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Management

Happy Staff, Productive Business: The Best Employee Management Software Programs

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Did you know that over 21 hours are wasted each week by each employee in a company? It’s no wonder that employers are looking for ways to help put an end to time spent not contributing value to their company. The most successful businesses are those with well-managed, happy employees.

Keep reading for the top employee management software programs for your business.

The Top Employee Management Software Programs for Businesses

Profits in business are important because if you don’t bring in money, it is difficult to stay in business. Just like profits are important, how efficient your staff functions is equally as important. Employee management software helps employers have a more productive and engaged team.

When looking into employee management software, you have to understand what the company’s needs are. Knowing this will make it easier to choose the best features for the business.

Why Is Employee Management Important?

Employees are a company’s biggest asset. Without them, how will the company run? Employee management includes a few different things such as leave and vacation management, employee scheduling, task management, and attendance tracking.

With the right data from employee management software, companies can gain insight into staff shortage, when they need to hire new employees, and skill development.

What to Look for in Management Systems?

As you narrow down your choices for which software to choose, you’ll want to make sure that it offers some of these top features:

  • Employee self-service capability
  • Cloud platform
  • Analytic reports
  • Employee onboarding
  • Payroll capability
  • Applicant management
  • Remote work capability
  • Freelance integration

As mentioned before, make sure that you choose the software that will fit the needs of your company. Every company is different and requires different features to make it work best.

Saba

This is a cloud-based management system. It offers employee performance appraisals, learning management, and succession planning through a user-friendly platform. Their mission is to help their clients create a work experience that’s engaging, empowering and inspiring.

There are add-ons to choose from if your company needs certain extra features.

Gusto

Gusto is a popular cloud-based platform. It has automation for different activities such as payroll, and it’s user-friendly.

When a new employee comes aboard, it has a new employee interface where they can enter all of their information directly into the Gusto system.

Hubstaff

Hubstaff has different packages available starting from $5. Some features available include time tracking, scheduling, application monitoring, and screenshots. The features vary based on the package that’s chosen.

Hubstaff gives you the option to try them out with their 14-day free trial to make sure it’s a good fit for your company. You can set budget limits that are based on time or price.

Connecteam

This software is unique because they also have a user-friendly app that is made for the non-desktop employee in mind. Connecteam has different features available including operations, time tracking, scheduling, communication, and files.

With Connecteam, you can communicate the content you need to every employee. They also offer live chat group conversations, an employee suggestion area, and employee feedback surveys.

They have very affordable options starting from $29 monthly.

Timeclock Hub

This system is great and best of all Timeclock Hub offers a free online employee clock for up to 3 users. They also offer a starter plan for only $15 for unlimited users and a premium plan for $20 monthly plus $2 per user.

They have different features that depend on the plan that is chosen, but some of the features include PTO requests, employee scheduler, punch-in photo capture, and GPS location punch-in restrictions.

All of their plans include live chat, phone, and email support to give your company peace of mind in case there are any questions.

Bullhorn

Bullhorn is geared towards larger corporations and staffing agencies with many users. This software can be customized to fit the needs of your company.

This software system is made for the recruitment process. Some of their features include onboarding, invoicing, and time and expense.

Teramind

Teramind caters to companies that are looking for a user-friendly system that’s easy to learn and use. There are a ton of features including reporting, automation, and analytics.

Teramind offers remote employee monitoring which is perfect for the business that has remote workers. A company can track employee activity, productivity, and behavior from afar.

Another feature is for vendor access. You’re able to give vendors the access they need and have their sessions recorded and locked down.

If your company is worried about safety, Teramind has a feature that alerts a business when it notices suspicious activity.

Time Doctor

Time Doctor is great at telling you exactly how time is wasted which in turn can boost productivity within the company. Some of the features include screenshots, chat monitoring, time use tracking, billing, time use alerts, and track breaks.

Ready to Improve Profit Margins?

The first thing to consider is how efficient your workforce is. Employee management software is worth the investment if your company is looking to improve and grow. The list above gives you an idea of what different companies have to offer.

The best advice is to figure out what your needs are to ensure that you choose the best software.

Are you ready to take your business to the next level? Check out our management section to help your company level up.

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