Bias In Recruitment: How To Avoid It In Your Hiring Process

Employer checking for unconscious bias in recruitment

We’d all like to believe that we’re immune to bias in recruitment—but science will disagree with you. It’s not that we’re actively prejudiced or inclined to discriminate against others. However, implicit bias is a natural part of human instincts.

Employer checking for unconscious bias in recruitment

Scientists believe stereotyping, for example, serves a purpose. It helps us navigate the world without feeling overwhelmed. The downside is that this potential to be biased is hard-wired into our way of thinking, and if it enters the workplace, it’s problematic. 

Part of Human Resources (HR) role is to mitigate this risk by proactively designing unbiased hiring strategies. In this article, we explain what bias in recruitment looks like, and how it can be eliminated from your process using recruitment tools, knowledge, and training.

What is unconscious bias?

Unconscious biases are previously learned stereotypes that are deeply ingrained in our minds. This is because ‘difference’ is harder for our brains to accommodate. 

One big problem with unconscious bias in the workplace is that it hinders inclusivity and diversity. Consider the trendy setting of a startup, for example. Think bean bag chairs, ping pong tables, and out-of-work hours activities, like happy hour. A hyper-focused CEO might not stop to consider what it’s like for employees with young children who can’t go out and network with their colleagues. These people could be seen as not being team players.

Additionally, some people don’t like to see the office with perks like ping pong tables. They might prefer a more traditional office space with fewer distractions that ultimately keep them from finishing earlier.

Now imagine a company that forces staff to use annual leave days during the Christmas period. What about those employees who celebrate different religious festivals? The ‘one rule to suit them all’ attitude has meant a sizable chunk of this person’s annual leave has been wiped out before they’ve had a chance to celebrate their own events.

As Australian businesses work to improve diversity, they have to consider how its culture could exclude some demographics.

Why is diversity important?

On top of several pieces of research that shows company diversity leads to greater profits, here are a few additional ways a diverse workforce can be good for business:

  • Greater inclusivity
  • Different perspectives
  • Increased creativity and higher innovation
  • Better decision-making
  • Employees feel more personally invested in company culture and corporate objectives.

It’s the norm to have people from a range of cultures, speaking a range of languages in one team. More than 30% of people don’t speak English at home in Sydney and Melbourne.  But if the candidate pool is consistently filled with the same type of person, creating a multifarious culture within the business is far less achievable. 

 

Recruiter starting blind recruitment process

How can employers guard against bias in recruitment?

We’ve listed five activities that businesses can action straight away.

1. Write inclusive job advertisements

Dominic Bareham from Morgan McKinley Australia says: ‘It starts with the advertising process. Make sure your adverts and content appeal to a diverse group of people. Certain words are more feminine or masculine than others, which means bias can begin even before CV’s lands on your desk.’

Your job description has the potential to deter diverse job candidates. Luckily, there is a simple solution to that—rewrite it! Here’s what you should consider when doing so:

Job title

The job title is the first thing a job seeker sees in your advertisement. Knowing you’ve got a matter of seconds to grab the attention of potential candidates, it’s tempting to create an elaborate job title. However, cliché terms such as ‘guru’, ‘hacker’, or ‘rock star’ put women off, says Forbes. Pick gender-neutral job titles, such as ‘executive’ or ‘programmer’.

Job description

Avoid a default pronoun. Instead, use ‘he/she’ or phrases such as ‘the successful candidate’. To be safe, copy and paste the text into a free gender decoder to catch words associated with female or male traits. 

Requirements and preferences

Research shows that women are far less likely to apply for jobs if they don’t match every requirement. Men, on the other hand, are more likely to apply, even if they only meet 60% of the list. Consider the list of requirements that you’ve set. Are they genuinely an absolute necessity? If the answer is no, put them under your list of ‘nice to have’ qualities.

Finally, proofread it and proofread it again. Ask a group of colleagues—ideally from different cultures and backgrounds—to cast their eyes over it too. The more people that review it, the more likely you’ll catch unintentional bias before the job advert is published.

2. Go blind

Blind recruitment is the process of removing any implications of a person’s identity, such as their name, age, gender, ethnicity, education, interests or beliefs. 

You can implement a blind recruitment process by following these steps:

  1. Recruit the help of a colleague who isn’t involved in the hiring process.
  2. Ask them to anonymise the information mentioned above for every candidate.
  3. Replace each candidate’s name with a number.
  4. Transfer the hard skills (such as experience, skills, qualifications plus any set requirements) into a template.

The recruitment manager then bases their decision on who to progress through to the interview stage based on skill and experience alone. 

3. Put candidates to the test

The process can only go so far without seeing and meeting the candidate. So how can you continue driving diversity and inclusivity through recruitment methods?

Two words: Skills tests. 

A skills test is an assessment used to gather an unbiased evaluation of the candidate’s ability to perform well. They usually come in the form of small work samples, such as copywriting, coding, selling or presenting.

There’s a strong case for using skills tests in interview processes. This famous scene from The Imitation Games shows Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley), competing for a spot within an elite team of code-breakers during World War II. The position was advertised by the team’s leader, Alan Turning (Benedict Cumberbatch) through a newspaper crossword. The fastest to complete the test would win a spot on the team. 

Spoiler alert: Keira beats Benedict.

4. Drive awareness internally

One of the best ways to tackle unconscious bias is to drive awareness of it. You could enrol hiring managers onto a course. However, focusing only on demographics within a business has its challenges. For example, it can generate a blame culture. 

Companies need to develop best practices, processes and policies that educate all staff on how to recognise and manage biases. Training Industry recommends seven tips to create an effective training program:

  1. Select a facilitator to lead the training that aligns with your company’s culture and values.
  2. Don’t squeeze training into a single session.
  3. Explain the psychology behind unconscious bias and what factors contribute to it.
  4. Provide actions to manage unintentional bias.
  5. Give options to repeat training regularly.
  6. Prioritise interaction over hour-long speeches.
  7. Outline some goals for learners to work toward.

Businesses could also add relevant virtual training and e-learning courses into their new employee onboarding process. 

5. Monitor artificial intelligence for bias

Artificial intelligence (AI) has transitioned from a concept we saw in science fiction films to a facilitator in our everyday lives. 

AI constantly improves and develops through a technology called machine learning (ML). This type of technology teaches computers to analyse data and do what comes naturally to humans: learn from experience. But, it’s important to consider the bias of the person who wrote or created the AI.

In recent years, the world has seen cases of AIs maintain the same evidence of biases we find in human cognition. Even Amazon came under scrutiny after its algorithm was found to favour the CVs of male applicants over female applicants.  

It’s for this reason that the federal government has released a discussion paper to find an ethical framework for AI in Australia. Just like humans, AI can also be biased. So what can businesses in Australia do to mitigate this risk?

Sharon Melamed, Founder of Matchboard, says: ‘There is a growing awareness amongst HR-techs, who build AI applications for recruiting, that it’s important to have female coders working on their product to minimise unconscious bias within AI algorithms. There is a shortage of coding skills in Australia so this is often easier said than done.’

If your business leverages AI technology, take concrete steps to monitor how it is coded as well as the content it absorbs its information from.

How can we curb bias in recruitment once and for all?

Unconscious bias isn’t going to disappear, and there’s no silver bullet to creating a diverse and inclusive business. However, there are several steps businesses can take to mitigate behaviour that works against it. Below, we’ve summarised everything we’ve suggested in this article into a single infographic.

Bookmark it, share it, and refer to it throughout your hiring process.

6 ways to remove unconscious bias from recruitment infographic

 

If you’re ready to try HR software, such as assessment tools and talent management platforms, check out Capterra’s directory today.

Free Keyword Trackers For Growing Businesses In Australia

Free keyword trackers for SEO optimisation

Free keyword trackers for SEO optimisation

Ever written an epic blog article, only to find nobody reads it? It’s incredibly frustrating, especially when you’re not sure where you went wrong. 

More often than not, your content doesn’t receive the standing ovation it deserves because you’ve not targeted the correct search terms. Using SEO software to carry out keyword research, you can call attention to those masterpieces and drive free, organic traffic to future creations too.

Here’s the slightly trickier bit. Search engine optimisation (SEO) isn’t static, it’s iterative and your position will likely fluctuate over time. For that reason, it’s important to track the positions of your target keywords to maintain and grow your website’s visibility. 

In this article, we cover the benefits of SEO optimisation and how you can track its success using free keyword trackers. 

Why target keywords?

Keywords give Google a summary of what your page is about. Weaving terms that have a high volume of searches into your website content increases the likelihood that Google Australia will display your pages in its results. And when your content ranks for more relevant search terms, it can have a pivotal effect on the overall success of your website. Here are just a few examples. 

You’ll increase:

  • The position of your domain
  • The number of users on your website 
  • Traffic quality (AKA, you’ll receive better-quality leads).

With that in mind, keyword research represents an essential part of growth marketing. 

What is keyword tracking?

Keyword tracking involves monitoring the position of specific words or search terms for your website. The ultimate goal is to sit at the top of the SERPs, so your website is the first a user sees when they use that search term.

featured-snippets-first-position-serps
Source: Search Engine Land

Tracking your target keywords has huge advantages for businesses of any size. For SMEs, it’s particularly advantageous because it doesn’t require a lot of time or money, but provides some truly valuable insights. 

How to use keyword trackers

Here are a few ways businesses can make use of free keyword trackers:

Content optimisation

The data provided in keyword trackers determines which search terms are most used by your target audience. You’ll be able to amplify the visibility of your website and existing content by updating them with the better-suited keywords you discovered during the research stage.

Future strategies

Not only do keyword trackers tell you which of your current target search terms are most successful, but they also highlight ranking opportunities. 

Your list of keywords should show which search terms you haven’t yet covered in your content plan. You can then shape the titles, themes and topics of future creations around your research. For example, if you discover that a large volume of your target audience is typing a specific question into Google Australia, you should write an article that answers it.

Competition analysis

Keyword trackers help to reveal the search terms that other businesses target within their content. Not only does this provide knowledge into your market, but you’ll also get a better grasp of which terms you’ll compete with them on in the SERPs. 

It may be that you’re producing similar content to your competitor, but ask yourself how your content could add greater value to the user. For example, you could create an infographic or video to work alongside an article.

What is the best free keyword research tool?

We’ve selected four free keyword tracking tools to help businesses rank higher in search engines. The platforms we selected had:

  • An established market in Australia
  • A high search volume in Australia
  • At least 50 reviews with 4+ stars.

 Listed in alphabetical order:

1. SE Ranking

 

SE Ranking free keyword tracking tool

 

What is it: SE Ranking is a platform for SEO and online marketing professionals. As well as it’s keyword tracking tool, it includes functionality to carry out:

  • Keyword research
  • Page change monitoring
  • Site audits
  • Competitor analysis
  • Backlink checker
  • Backlink monitoring
  • Reporting.

SE Ranking tracks keywords in Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Yandex and Bing for any region in Australia, down to the exact postcode. It pulls data insights from desktops as well as mobile, so businesses can adjust their user experience accordingly.  

Free trial: 14 days

Cost to upgrade: AUD$62.60 per month for the Optimum subscription. The plan allows users to check the ranking of up to 250 keywords daily. 

What users liked: User’s of SE Ranking said the platform has a generous tracking allowance and the range of features available. They also noted the automated reporting function, which they said made it quick and easy to access data and insights.

User recommended improvements: Subscribers mentioned they prefer the reporting tool within SE Ranking’s desktop version. They found the mobile application’s ability to organise data more limited.

2. SEMrush

 

SEMrush screenshot keyword tracker

 

What is it: SEMrush is well-suited to businesses who target customers on an international level, as well as Australia. It gives its users access to data on more than 580 million domains and 16 billion keywords in 118 countries. 

As well as keyword tracking, it allows users to:

  • Manage backlinks
  • Analyse on-page SEO
  • Carry out a website audit.

Through this data, subscribers can obtain an understanding of their competitor’s organic search, paid, content, PR and social media strategies. 

Free trial: 7 days

Cost to upgrade: The Pro plan is ideal for freelancers, startups and in-house marketers. It costs AUD$99.95 per month for 500 tracked keywords and 5 projects. 

The next level up is the Guru plan, which is designed for SMEs and growing agencies. It includes all the PRO features plus a content marketing platform, branded reports, historical data and extended limits. Users who subscribe to this plan can execute up to 50 projects and track 1,500 keywords for AUD$199 per month.

What users liked: Capterra reviewers said that many of SEMrush’s features cater well to professionals who are new to keyword tracking. For example, the Keyword Magic Tool provides users with a simple overview of words and phrases that they could include in their content plan to improve the overall position of their domain.

User recommended improvements: Some users said that while tools, such as the Keyword Magic Tool, were simple to understand, the more advanced features were trickier to operate without prior SEO knowledge.

4. WooRank

 

Keyword tracking tool WooRank

 

What is it: WooRank provides insights into how subscribers can improve their domain’s position through SEO optimisation. Subscribers can determine which keywords they already rank for and discover new ones they haven’t yet targeted. 

WooRank enables its users to download branded reports into PDFs and slides. The feature works well for agency’s or professionals who need to compile reports quickly, without the need to put together a presentation manually. 

WooRank’s competitor analysis is another useful feature to use alongside a keyword research strategy. Competitors are given a basic score to show their website visibility and ranking, and users can see how their websites compare.

Free trial: 14 days

Cost to upgrade: The Pro Plan costs US$59.99 per month. With this subscription, users can track up to 50 keywords for the position, volume and performance. For businesses that need to track more keywords, the Premium plan allows for 250 and costs US$179.00 per month.

What users liked: Agency-side professionals like WooRank’s White Label functionality because it allows them to quickly and easily send reports to their clients. The summary score also helped them to determine which of their clients’ sites to prioritise first.

User recommended improvements: Capterra users stated that the platform could benefit from a copy and paste system when uploading several URLs to run a scan. 

There’s no shortcut to getting into the first position in the SERPs, but there’s plenty of tools that will give you the data you need to compete for it. If you’re ready to try a keyword tracker, check out Capterra’s directory of SEO software today.

What is a Scrum Master?

What-is-a-scrum-master

What-is-a-scrum-master

I remember the first time I heard the term used in a meeting. ‘I must have zoned out,’ I thought. ‘When did the conversation turn to rugby?’ 

After the meeting wrapped up, it turns out other bewildered colleagues drew the same sports-related conclusion. I quickly discovered that confusion over this role isn’t uncommon—particularly for those who are new to the world of agile project management

Here’s the good news: Scrum and the roles within it aren’t nearly as complex as you might first believe. To understand what a scrum master does, it’s helpful to know a bit about the methodology first.

In this article, we’ll bring you up to speed on everything you need to know about an agile scrum master.

What is scrum?

Scrum is an agile method of working that originated in software development. Today, it is a way for teams—technical or non-technical—to work on complex projects collaboratively and efficiently. The aim is to deliver the highest possible value without stifling creativity and productivity. 

At the heart of the framework is the Sprint events. A sprint is a time-boxed (rigid) period of one month or less where the team is dedicated to completing a single task, such as product developments. Once one Sprint concludes, the next Sprint starts immediately.

The team setup maximises flexibility, creativity and productivity. Here’s a quick breakdown of the roles:

  • Product owner is responsible for the product that results from the development work.
  • Development team consists of professionals who carry out the work.
  • Scrum master serves the Product Owner and Development Team.

The team is self-organised and choose how to tackle the Sprints themselves.

What is a scrum master?

The Scrum Guide defines the role as a ‘servant-leader for the Scrum Team.’ The scrum master, or facilitator, helps the team understand the theory of the agile framework and adhere to its practices, rules and values. 

They also help employees that are outside the team to understand which of their interactions with the project team are helpful (and which aren’t!) 

What does a scrum master do?

The core task of the role is to remove obstacles for the team, so they can work productively. For this, they must:

  • Removes obstacles, such as a conflict between team members
  • Identify optimisation potentials
  • Trains the scrum team on the agile framework
  • Mediate between product owners, stakeholders, and the team.

The problem with the role is that it all sounds a bit abstract. So let’s look at a concrete example: Part of the agile method is the daily scrum, an obligatory fifteen-minute meeting that takes place in the morning. People within the project discuss their responsibilities for the day and highlight any possible roadblocks. 

The Daily Scrum is an essential part of the method—but only if it stays within the allocated fifteen minutes. If it is not possible to use the meeting for a quick exchange of information, it is up to the facilitator to recognise this, discuss it and find a solution. They also have to keep people on-topic.

In some extreme cases, companies bring a rubber chicken to the meeting. If the conversation drifts off, the rubber chicken is squawked to indicate the topic does not belong in the meeting—even if it may feel important!

Using a rubber chicken in the daily scrum
Source: Atlassian Twitter

What are the tools used in scrum? 

There is a range of collaboration tools for teams that use the methodology within their business. Here are a few suggestions, based on the software having at least 100 user reviews with 4+ stars and a high search volume in Australia. 

 

Best collaboration tools for scrum teams

Listed in alphabetical order:

  • Accelo combines project planning, tracking, and collaboration. 
  • Bitrix24 has a free open-source version for up to 12 users.
  • ClickUp describes itself as a Productivity Platform intended for agile projects.
  • JIRA is a software development tool used by agile teams.
  • Trello is a visual collaboration tool designed to create a shared perspective for project teams.

How to become a scrum master?

While there isn’t a national or international body, the Scrum Alliance has become the de facto organisation for certification. If you want to become a Certified Scrum Master (CSM), you should first tick off the prerequisites for a CRM course. 

Here are the Scrum aspects you’ll need to have familiarised yourself with before enrolment:

  1. Theory and values
  2. Teams and roles
  3. Events
  4. Artefacts.

You should also download and read The Scrum Guide

These steps are essential because you’ll be required to sit a short quiz at the beginning of your course. Once you pass, you’re ready to begin the training process.

Before you enrol onto a CRM course, first check that it’s been accredited

What is Scrum Master Certification (CSM)

The certification enables its students to learn the framework and gain knowledge of scrum’s team roles, events and artefacts. The course lasts several days and at the end of the program, students sit a short exam (around 60 minutes.)

Students will also need to accept the Licence Agreement and complete their Scrum Alliance membership profile, should they pass the test. 

Scrum Alliance recommends that certified members renew their accreditation every two years.

What is the average salary of a CSM?

Based on data provided by PayScale, the average salary of a CSM in Australia is AUD$103K per annum. The total pay with a bonus ranges AUD$76K – AUD$150K annually. 

The most desired skills to boost salary includes:

  • Agile software development
  • Experience with Scrum
  • Project Management
  • Business Analysis.

Employees who work in Queensland’s capital city, and who have ‘CSM’ in their job title, earn an average of 10.5% more than the national average. Other locations in Australia that have a higher than average salary include Sydney (6% higher) and Melbourne (1% higher).

Learn more about agile frameworks

Co-creators, Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, released The Scrum Guide to explain the agile framework in more depth. You can also learn about the difference between the two most popular agile methods: Kanban vs scrum in this article

Check out Capterra’s directory to discover agile software to amplify your scrum process. If you’re new to the framework, explore platforms that offer a free trial today.

The Ultimate Onboarding Checklist for SMEs in Australia

Calendar to show onboarding checklist for new starters

Calendar to show onboarding checklist for new starters

Have you ever had a nightmarish first day at work? Perhaps you accidentally broke the coffee machine or mistakenly ate someone else’s lunch. Maybe you missed your train and consequently arrived late (and completely drenched because it rained that day.) The first few days on the job are tough! Put your new hires at ease from the moment they walk through the door. In this article, we provide the ultimate onboarding checklist, made especially with SMEs in mind. 

The cost of a poor onboarding is expensive for SMEs. In addition to the time spent pouring over CVs and interviewing candidates, the cost to replace an employee is around 50-60% of their salary, according to the Society of Human Resource Management. As well as a staff turnover reduction, successful onboarding increases productivity and makes for a happier workplace.

This checklist sets your new-starters up for a winning, long-term collaboration with your business. We suggest you download it, share it, and use it alongside your onboarding software

 

Download: The Ultimate Onboarding Checklist for SME’s

The pre-boarding checklist

The Workplace Loneliness research into Australian workers revealed that a timely onboarding process further connects new hires with their team. It’s essential to prioritise social connectedness from the start—the process should begin from the moment you present the successful candidate with a job offer. 

Here are some ideas for pre-boarding communication:

  • Explain what to expect from the onboarding process
  • Introduce the new-starter to their team and the wider organisation
  • Say congratulations from the manager and/or most relevant member of senior management.

It’s also a good idea to gather paperwork for the employee. This might seem premature, but there is a lot of sensitive information to collect, which can confuse new hires and employers.

Below is a list of what you, the employer, should provide before the recruit starts:

  • An offer letter
  • A job description
  • An employment contract
  • An employee induction pack (or preview).

By law, Australian employers must also provide:

Using surveys as onboarding software

The 90-Day onboarding checklist

Make sure the schedule has been entered into the employee’s calendar, and use the checklist to tick off each task upon completion.  

Day One

Arguably, the staff member’s first day is the most important of the 90-day onboarding process. The goal is to make it memorable. You want them to feel excited and motivated. 

Here’s some suggested ground you could cover on day one of the onboarding-checklist:

The welcome

  • Send an all-staff message to introduce the employee to their colleagues 
  • Assign them with a workplace buddy (so they have someone to talk to during a nerve-wracking period!)
  • Have a welcome message displayed in a communal area, such as written on a blackboard or posted on a staff pinboard.

The tour

  • Show the staff seating plan (introduce people by names and teams)
  • Give an office and building tour
  • Point out fire exits.

The equipment

  • Provide a nameplate or staff ID
  • Necessary office equipment (including a computer and phone if appropriate)
  • Staff handbook
  • An employee induction pack.

Presentations

  • Welcome presentation
  • Employee perks & benefits
  • Culture overview.

You may be tempted to skip the culture overview if you’re short on time, but we’d strongly recommend that you don’t. A meta-analysis of 172 studies found that employees who are a good cultural fit are likely to be happier, more productive, and stay longer with the employer. What can we learn from this? Describe and define your unique culture to new employees—never just assume they’ll fit in without explanation.

Other first-day activities for new-starters:

  • Tie a balloon to the employee’s computer. People can introduce themselves when they walk past and make a new hire feel welcome.
  • Allow them to get to know your business better with some time to read through relevant websites, blogs and industry news.
  • Organise a lunch with their reporting line and team.

It’s also critical that the employee is on-boarded onto your team communication platforms, on their first day. It also gives managers an easy way to do quick, regular check-ins.

Month One

Weeks 1 – 2

Day two is essentially the first day of the rest of their career with you. The aim is to ease them into the job role they were hired to do.

The schedule for week one and two should include:

  • Meet and greets with leaders or members of other departments to understand their role within the business.
  • Training sessions.
  • Introductions to important tools.

The employee should review and agree to company policies during this period too. 

For these fiddly administrative steps, you could try implementing HR software where the process can be managed within one system. HR software is useful when coordinating several departments within a company. 

Weeks 3 – 4

By now, the employee should have built up some momentum within the job role and so you’ll want to harness that. Step back and encourage them to take more ownership of their responsibilities. 

If they’re required to represent and conduct themselves on behalf of the company, consider a communication workshop. Do you have guidelines for your company’s tone of voice? Now is the time to introduce it if so. You could display the information in a document, PDF or use data visualisation tools to create a visual representation.

It’s crucial in this stage that you build upon the trust you’ve already established. A great way to do this is to demonstrate your investment in their personal career goals. Discuss objectives (long and short-term) and set up sessions to focus on their learning and development. Ideally, training should be face to face but when this isn’t possible, there are plenty of virtual educational platforms and learning management software to help staff develop skills.

Month two

“Employees want to be stimulated by their job and have a clear career path,” says employer brand research company, Randstad. With that in mind, month two is a good point to give employees their first ‘big’ project. Not only does it create a focus, but it also moves them further towards self-reliance. 

Consider how you’ll check in with the employee to get this balance. One way is to break the project down into chunk-size pieces. Not only does this allow you to check in regularly without micromanaging, but each step completed is a chance for you to give encouragement and praise. 

And it doesn’t have to be limited to employer-employee. Make space for peer-to-peer appreciation too: Be it acknowledgement in meetings, whiteboard messages, kudos in employee engagement platforms or shout-outs in a dedicated Slack channel. 

Using Slack to show culture in the onboarding process
Screenshot of a Slack shout-out during the onboarding process.

Month three

In month three of the onboarding checklist, you should extend perks and benefits to the staff member if you haven’t done so already. If you offer flexible working, its best to allow the employee to test the process while they’re still on probation. Not only does it instil trust, but you’ll also be viewed as a modern employer. 

All going well, at the end of the onboarding process, the new hire should have passed their probation. Survey software can help gather relevant information ahead of the end-of-probation review meeting. The employee should also offer his or her feedback on their onboarding experience. Not only does it help improve the onboarding-process for their future colleagues, but it also lets the new hire know that their feedback matters. 

Ensure you send an email announcement to acknowledge the event and show recognition for their contributions so far. Why? The O.C. Tanner Institute’s 2018 Global Culture Report highlights the power of recognition in the workplace. The report found that employees within companies that demonstrated regular recognition had a 16% higher sense of personal well-being and a 20% increase in their connection to purpose. 

How to use the onboarding-checklist

Refer to our onboarding checklist for each person you employ. We’ve included all the crucial aspects within this article, but you can create a customised version for each hire case. If you decide to automate the process, have a look at Capterra’s selection of onboarding software.

 

Download: The Ultimate Onboarding Checklist for SME’s

5 Free POS Software To Help Retailers Prepare For Seasonal Peaks

Retailers prepare for seasonal sales with free POS software

Aussies love a bargain, and who doesn’t? Retailers have been quick to meet this trend, offering savvy shoppers plenty of ways to save money in their stores throughout the year. In this article, we highlight five free Point Of Sale (POS) software systems that retailers can use to prepare for seasonal sales.

Even with reports that consumer spending has dwindled, it’s expected that online shopping will reignite in the run-up to Christmas. News.com.au estimates that Australians spend 30 per cent more on retail purchases in December. For those in the mood for holiday cheer, it’s the perfect time for an annual shopping spree.

Despite originating in America, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have also become popular in Australia. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reinforced this trend in its Retail Trade Report; which revealed the year-on-year turnover for Australian retailers hit a record high in November 2018.

To help retailers prepare ahead of the peak shopping periods, we’ve selected five free POS software platforms. The platforms chosen were selected on the basis that they had:

  • At least 40 reviews with 4+ stars
  • An established market in Australia
  • A free product offering available to retailers.
Capterra chart for 5 free POS software solutions for retailers
5 free options of POS software systems, specifically for retailers in Australia.

Forever free POS software

Loyverse 

 

POS and inventory system of Loyverse
Screenshot of Loyverse POS software.

What is it: Loyverse enables retailers to manage their stores within one account. Users have the option to access it through iOS and Android devices, as well as desktops. Loyverse accepts different payment types; including cash, credit cards and cheques. 

Retailers can create discount codes or price modifiers and apply them to items or product lines. This is particularly helpful during the ‘silly season’ where prices are likely to change regularly. 

Pricing: Loyverse is free and includes the option to manage multiple stores. It also offers sales analytics, POS and inventory system.

What users liked: Capterra reviewers say that the customisable sales screen helps staff to work quickly and efficiently. The built-in Loyverse POS loyalty program aims to convert one-off, bargain-driven consumers to repeat customers. 

User recommended improvements: User reviews suggested that Loyverse requires a little more time to get used to because there are a lot of tools and features to navigate. Subscribers also advised that Loyverse would benefit from a more streamlined system for updating stock.

eHopper

 

eHopper interface screenshot
eHopper’s interface for retailers to manage products.

What is it: While eHopper mostly caters to the hospitality industry, this particular POS serves small retail businesses. It allows retailers to organise inventory, manage customers, and drive profits.

Pricing: The Essential package is free. The OmniChannel Package, which includes all features, costs AUD$79.99 per month. 

What users liked: Reviewers said that eHopper features, such as customer notes, help staff improve customer experience through a more tailored service. Customer information can also be pulled up instantly.

User recommended improvements: Some eHopper users have reported teething issues, such as integration and syncing challenges, during the setup period. However, customer service is quick to respond to problems so that stores can run at full-speed again.

Kounta 

Kounta point of sale setup survey.
Kounta’s setup interface for retail brands.

What is it: You may already have heard of Kounta through your friends in hospitality, but it also offers a free POS system to food retailers. 

Retailers can set up multiple sites and registers, add products and variations, set prices, manage taxes and surcharges, as well as link up printers and payment systems.

Pricing: Kounta offers three pricing options: Lite, Sell, Manage and Extend. The Lite plan is free forever, capped at ten sales per day. It includes all features so retailers can test out what they need. 

Once you’ve exceeded the capped daily sales, the Sell plan costs AUD$60 per site, the Manage plan is AUD$120 and Extend is AUD$180 per month. With each price plan, retailers get access to more features.

Each plan comes with an additional registration cost of AUD$40 per site. If you want to register more than five, it’s worth speaking to Kounta’s sales team about Enterprise pricing. 

What users liked: Users report that Kounta has an intuitive design, which helps with setup, and the product also offers deep customisation. If you do run into problems, the platform has a customer service team that is available 24/7. They assist with onboarding and setup and provide ongoing support.

User recommended improvements: Kounta users say reporting in close detail can be a little cumbersome. However, users also noted that Kounta regularly launches updates to the product, to improve usability and functionality.

POS Platforms that offer free trials:

Following the same methodology listed above, we’ve selected two POS systems that offer a free trial before purchase.

Vend POS 

Vend point of sale software system screenshots
Vend POS features for retailers.

What is it: Vend enables single and multi-store retailers to sell, track, and grow their business. 

Pricing: Free for 14 days, then AUD$139 per month thereafter. 

What users liked: Retailers praise Vend for its ease-of-use and comprehensive reporting abilities. It also functions with or without Internet access, which allows retailers to function as normal if they experience an outage. Those expanding into new locations can achieve this through the multi-store functionality.

User recommended improvements: Some reviewers find its integration with hardware and third-parties tricky. However, they also said that the customer support team are quick to respond.

Lightspeed POS 

Retail point of sale platform Lightspeed
Products for retail displayed within Lightspeed POS.

What is it: Lightspeed POS automates day-to-day tasks for retailers. It combines apparel management, catalogue management, retail management, and multi-channel eCommerce with a POS and inventory system.

Pricing: Lightspeed POS offers a free 14-day trial. After this, the most popular plan (Retail POS) starts at AUD$139 per month.

What users liked: Lightspeed POS allows for multiple store management in one system. Capterra users also say its simplicity makes it quick and easy to train new staff, which is especially useful for onboarding temporary hires over the Christmas season. 

User recommended improvements: Reviewers said that businesses that aren’t looking to scale up might not need all the features offered.

Are you looking for a POS and inventory system to boost sales for Christmas, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or any other peak shopping events? Check out Capterra’s infographic of most popular POS systems available today in Australia.

3 Best POS Systems For Restaurant Success In Australia

Choosing the best POS system to run a restaurant

It’s not only the daily operations that need to be considered when running a restaurant. There are also tasks such as inventory management, sales analytics and tax administration to think about. 

Managing these business aspects across multiple applications is enough to give anyone a headache. Fortunately, there are Point of Sale (POS) technologies available to bring these activities into one location. In this article, we explore the best POS systems, so that you can concentrate on the more delicious—sorry, we meant critical—activities involved with running a restaurant in Australia.

What is POS?

‘POS’ is an acronym for ‘Point of Sale’, which refers to the point at which a retail transaction is carried out. POS software is an application that processes the payment made by a customer to a merchant. However, POS platforms aren’t just for retailers.

Why do Restaurants need a POS system?

Restaurants also implement POS systems to manage and simplify activities, such as bookkeeping.

When you consider the number of cash and card transactions that pass through your business every day, it’s easy to see why this type of software is necessary. It streamlines business operations and makes for smoother customer experiences. Every penny of sales is tracked within the system, and communication between staff is simplified. 

A POS affords you more time to focus on other critical business areas, such as enhanced customer service and revenue growth.

Which are the best POS systems for restaurant success?

Below, we’ve listed three picks of POS software, based on them having:

  • At least 50 reviews with 4+ stars, as rated by Capterra users
  • A high search volume in Australia
  • An office located in Australia. 

1. Loyverse 

Loyverse POS point of sale transaction screen

Rating: 5/5

Ease of use: 5/5

Features: 4.5/5

Loyverse is a free POS app that serves small restaurants, bars, cafes, bakeries, coffee shops and street food stalls. It allows food and drinks operators to manage sales, loyalty programs, and inventory. 

Restaurant owners can:

  • Receive and manage orders with open tickets
  • Manage tables
  • Customise and organise the menu items
  • Send orders to the kitchen
  • Organise staff
  • Allow customers to split the bill
  • Send e-receipts directly to customers
  • Collect feedback, and
  • Make decisions based on visual analytics.

It has live customer support, a community board, and video tutorials which makes it one of the best POS systems on the market in terms of usability. Loyverse also enables restaurants to ask for feedback and send e-receipts directly to their customers.

It’s available on tablets and smartphone devices (iOS and Android). The system comes with a range of built-in reports, which can be exported for advanced analytics. 

Our take: Loyverse is suitable for businesses with one or multiple restaurants who are keen to increase customer retention, run loyalty programs and boost sales. It runs at its best when serving 10 tables or fewer.

2. Kounta Point of Sale 

Kounta restaurant POS systems screenshot

Rating: 4.5/5 

Ease of use: 4.5/5

Features: 4.5/5

Capterra reviewers said that Kounta allows for deep customisation, which drives staff productivity and enhances the customer experience. 

Restaurant owners have the ability to:

  • Build table layouts
  • Add products and variations to menus
  • Set prices
  • Manage taxes and surcharges, and
  • Link up payment systems and printers. 

It’s available on iPads, Androids, Macs, PCs (including legacy POS hardware) and smartphones. 

Kounta has different pricing options available, starting at AUD$60 per month.

Our take: Capterra reviewers reported that the back office system might take some extra work setting up. However, if you are looking for a highly customisable POS that integrates with software you already use, it’s worth looking into Kounta. It connects with a wide selection of add-ons, such as Xero, ActiveCampaign and Ximble. Take a look at what you’re using and see if any of your apps integrate with Kounta. 

3. Square for Restaurants

Screenshot of Square POS table layout feature
Image Credits: TechCrunch

Rating: 4.5/5

Ease of use: 4.5/5

Features: 4.5/5

The app caters to just about every employee in a restaurant: bartenders, waiters, chefs, and pot washers. The front end allows servers to take orders and submit them to the kitchen without the need to follow several, unnecessary steps. 

It enables restaurants to: 

  • Track sales across multiple payment types (including cash payments)
  • Print kitchen tickets and receipts
  • Set up menus and add item modifiers
  • Manage orders with features, such as open tickets and split tender
  • See deposits in their bank account within days.

The POS app for Square is free to use. However, if you need to add hardware into the mix you’ll pay a one-off fee for it. Prices range from AUD$59 to AUD$439. 

Our take: Square for Restaurants is intended for people who don’t have much experience with applications. It is designed to be ready to use as soon as it arrives, and so little effort is needed for setup. There are cheaper options, but they may not match Square in terms of support and guidance. Square offers a knowledge portal, a community forum, blog posts and a support centre.

So, which is the best POS system?

No matter what restaurant POS system you select, it will likely have a significant impact on the everyday running of your eatery. If you’re interested in learning more about Restaurant POS tools, there is a full list of user-reviewed options on Capterra.com.au.

CRM Integration: 3 Problems It Solves For Sales Teams

CRM integration optimises the sales funnel

Customer relationships are pivotal to the growth of any company—which is why salespeople work so hard to develop them. In this article, we highlight three business problems that Customer Relationship Management (CRM) integration solves for salespeople.

If you’re in sales, you may already recognise the multitude of benefits CRM software can bring to a business. Well, you’re not alone. 

The CRM industry is growing at a staggering rate. According to Salesforce, it is now the top priority for technology budget allocation for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs). The study demonstrates that SMEs in Australia no longer consider CRMs to be only suitable for larger enterprises. Companies of all sizes can use it to optimise and propel their business forward towards organisational goals.

Using your CRM to save time and money may be appealing, but it can be challenging if you don’t know where to start. In this article, we’ll help give you a head start by covering the basics of CRM integrations, and the types of problems a CRM integration can solve.

What is CRM?

A CRM—otherwise known as customer relationship management — enables businesses to operate more efficiently and boost sales. It works by storing all customer data and prospects in one place. Staff can schedule appointments and make calls using Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP), develop customer relationships via email, track engagement, log interactions, make notes, manage pipelines, and generate detailed reports.

What is CRM Integration?

CRM integration’s most basic purpose is to host all customer data within a shared viewpoint with lead scoring functionality. Many CRMs also integrate with your internal communications platform, website, blog, marketing automation software, document storage and email. It can plug in billing apps and social media networks too. 

Through CRM integration, sales professionals can pinpoint exactly where leads come from and how they have interacted with their site, brand, and other members of staff. In turn, staff can avoid a lot of problems that come with manual customer relationship management.

What problems does CRM solve?

Now that you understand the core benefits of CRM, let’s take a deeper look at three specific problems that CRM can resolve. 

1. Missed sales opportunities

Customers are your most valuable asset within a company. But poor pipeline management stagnates sales, drains funds, and potential clients slip through your fingers.

The most basic function of CRMs, such as Zendesk Sell, is to provide sales funnel visibility in one interface. Having a way to visualise pipelines makes it easier for staff to prioritise and pick out quality prospects. 

Applying Zendesk Sell to improve pipeline visibility

Mundane, manual tasks become automated while your team can be more productive with their timeーwhich means more time to carry out call-preparation and create a tailored pitch.

2. Ineffective Internal Communications

When employees and departments don’t communicate with each other, it harms performance across the business and provides a poor experience for customers.

If your customers have to regurgitate the same information to different members of staff, your organisation will appear sloppy and inefficient. Ultimately, your prospective purchaser could get frustrated and leave. 

CRM’s store customer information in a central location. The information includes a customer’s professional or personal details, to historical conversations they’ve had with your company. It’s available to team members (based on their permission level). It also displays notes, previous appointments, and a list of prior deals or purchases. 

Monday.com, for example, is a visual tool that allows teams to centralise communication. Leads are captured through forms that are embedded into your website, and the information is automatically added to your sales team’s pipeline. It’s cloud-based, which means employees with access to the internet can use it when remote, and it integrates with business tools frequently found in SMEs (such as Dropbox, Slack, Trello and Zapier). 

 

Utilising Monday.com to solve sales CRM problems

Monday.com offers an initial free 14-day trial (no credit card details required). After that, businesses can pay as little as AUS$29 per month for up to five users.

3. Poor Data Visibility

Self-reflection is crucial for any small business with ambitious growth plans. Yet without access to analytics, it’s difficult to make decisions based on captured data. CRM’s, such as Oracle’s NetSuite, provide reporting tools which allow teams to get insights into their customers and their purchasing habits.

 

CRM integration with Netsuite Oracle

 

Detailed analytics enable companies to anticipate their customers’ behaviour and needs better so that they can suitably adapt. It provides your team with an enhanced overview of their client portfolio, which empowers them to upsell, cross-sell and renew business contracts with greater ease. 

The business landscape is as complex and competitive as ever. A CRM can help simplify it by presenting and organising customer data for your sales team. Beyond this, it allows sales teams to keep up with the fast-paced demands, so they can react to the most promising opportunities and close more deals. 

Ready to optimise your pipeline and improve efficiencies? Visit our catalogue of CRM solutions today to empower your sales department.

Kanban vs Scrum: Which agile method is better?

Scrum and Kanban differences in project management

Kanban vs Scrum—what’s the difference and which should small businesses follow? The two workflow management methods are frequently pitted against each other. In this article, we explore the difference between Scrum and Kanban, and which is best for project management

Scrum and Kanban are agile frameworks. The goal of both is to define a project management process in which teams can work as effectively as possible. 

The role of Agile methods in Australia

‘Agile’ is still a popular buzzword in Australia’s corporate culture, and CEO’s all over the country are applying its techniques to their businesses. 

A recent survey by Hays revealed that more than half of Australian employers have restructured their organisation to accommodate for greater flexibility when managing internal projects. As a result, there is a real recruitment focus to hire more talent with experience following agile methods.

Kanban vs Scrum: the similarities

Both of the frameworks support agile methods and are based on the following three principles of lean management:

  • Continuous improvement
  • Process orientation, and
  • Customer and employee focus.

Kanban and Scrum make room for mistakes to happen. Errors are not considered disastrous, but rather as a starting point for improvement. The workflows rely on a continuous and explorative approach to improvement to reduce lead times and minimise wasted work.

Scrum and Kanban rely on the ‘pull’ principle—a method that enables the team to pick up tasks as their capacity allows, and only when there is customer demand for it. The goal should always be to prioritise the requirements with the highest possible value for the customer, rather than the tasks the team like the most!

Agile methods are also characterised by their flexibility. Both variants are not conditioned to adhere precisely to a plan but to make timely changes and adjustments in the customer’s interest. 

Lastly, both approaches strive to design the process so that it comes to fast results. 

The difference between Scrum and Kanban

Scrum is more rigid than Kanban because it contains a greater amount of rules and procedures.

Scrum process
A visual representation of the Scrum process

Scrum is based on doing iterations in a set timeframe (called timeboxes). Although the length of the timeboxes can initially be varied, they should remain constant over a longer period to establish a certain degree of regularity among team participants. 

Kanban does not provide a timeline or timeboxes. So it’s up to you when you plan, reflect, improve or deliver the process. However, it proves useful in practice to establish a certain rhythm or flow here as well.

Although both methods look at change as the norm, they have different approaches to it. In Scrum, the tasks are fixed during a sprint length (usually 1-4 weeks), whereas changes in Kanban can be continuously recorded and integrated into the workflow.

Difference between Scrum and Kanban
A project team using a Kanban board to manage tasks

The three roles Product Owner, Scrum Master and Development Team are mandatory in Scrum. Kanban does not provide binding roles, but you can also find equivalents in the Kanban environment for the Product Owner role. For example, Flowmaster or Product Manager.

Another difference is found in the measurement of productivity. In Scrum, the team estimates the relative workload per work package, taking into account the complexity and associated risk. This effort is added up for a sprint duration and thus results in a team-dependent speed. The first timeline metric is used as a guideline for the following sprints. 

In Kanban, estimating the execution time of work packages is not mandatory. The measurement of productivity takes place in the form of cycle time (the time it takes to complete a work package from start to finish).

Scrum + Kanban = Scrumban, right?

Correct! Under the term ‘Scrumban’, hybrid models have existed since the middle of this decade.

The basic element of Scrumban is an ordinary Kanban board for visualising the process flows. However, the to-do list of the board is arranged according to the backlog principle of Scrum. This means that the entries with the highest business value have the highest priority. 

Unlike Scrum, Scrumban has no iterative sprints. The work is carried out continuously within the limits of the team.

The roles in Scrumban are similar to those in Scrum. Product Owners takes care of the backlog prioritisation, the Scrum Master manages the process and the development team is required for implementation and planning. It also regularly includes scrum events, such as the Daily Scrum and Retrospective, within the process.

Scrumban can be useful for teams that are heavily dependent on third-parties. Often agreements with suppliers or external service providers are based on contracts that are not synchronised with an internal sprint cycle. As a result, the team may have a hard time making accurate estimations of a project deadline. 

How to decide which agile method to use

1. Analyse your team

Is your team less flexible? Does it need a clear guide with time boxes? Should your team have phases in which it should work undisturbed? Then we would advise you to use Scrum since the tasks for two weeks are firmly fixed and external disturbances aren’t focused on.

2. Consider your environment and processes

Teams that have less defined workflows, start and end work sequentially, and often need to prioritise tasks due to changing needs are better off using Kanban.

Scrum, on the other hand, is suitable for projects with a certain degree of planning security. If you have clients, Scrum also works best as you can provide regular progress updates.

3. Consider corporate strategy

For Scrum to be established in a company, it takes time and, above all, buy-in from management to move towards self-organisation. 

If a company wants to be cautious about agility and does not want to make any big, fundamental organisational changes, Kanban is the better strategy to proceed with.

Thinking about applying these techniques to your business? Sticky notes on walls are great visualisers, but make sure you compare some popular online project management tools too, to allow your team to be as productive as possible.