Category Archives: Labor Resources

Southeastern Admin Helps Coordinate Better World Books’ NPLP Trip For 6th Year

Southeastern Admin is proud to have assisted Better World Books with their Non-Profit Literacy Partner (NPLP) international trip for the sixth consecutive year; 5 years as an employee, and now as a contractor.  If you haven’t heard of Better World Books (BWB) and you love to read, you need to check out their site.    They are an online bookseller that literally does a world of good.

They sell new and used books at very competitive prices.  They also do much more.  For each book sold on their site, they donate a book to literacy initiatives world wide, partnering with such respected organizations as Books For Africa, Room to Read and World Fund, just to name a few.

Each year, BWB organizes a trip for a group of its employees, selected by a lottery system, to actually go to a country that has benefited from BWB’s generosity.   The group of employees includes members from all departments, including the warehouse floor.  Some of the people who are selected have never even been on an airplane, so this is a pretty cool benefit for working at BWB.

Some of the countries visited in past have been:  Cambodia, Vietnam, Brazil, Chili, Uganda, Ghana and Liberia.   This year, they are going to Zambia!     While I was never lucky enough to be chosen in the lottery during my tenure with BWB, I am so excited for the travelers, and invite you to share their experiences by visiting their blog.

We were able to help the travelers coordinate everything they needed for their trip, from what to bring (and not to bring) to securing their visas, flights, hotels, transfer and excursions.

Bon voyage BWB travelers!

Lora Zibman   |  www.SoutheasternAdmin.com   |   770-609-0904

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Zambia Trip: Travels and First Impressions of Lusaka


The longest airplane trip in the world. Literally.We’ve mentioned that a group of Better World Books employees is out visiting Zambia where some of our nonprofit partners operate, supporting literacy and education in the region. The first impressions are in, so here’s the first official update on the trip.

From David Ebrite (National Account Executive based in the Atlanta, GA office):

Well, after months of anticipation and planning, we took off for Zambia on the Better World Books annual literacy trip. This is a wonderful chance to see the good that we and our partners are doing in the world.

Had a few snow flakes driving to the airport in Atlanta. Our colleagues coming from Indiana had more than that! We were told the flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg is the longest in the world – over 14 hours. A quick two hour flight then to Lusaka, Zambia and we are ready to begin!

Was dark when we arrived but roads seem fine and the city is bright. I am most excited to begin tomorrow and spend time with our literacy partners.

For all of you freezing at home, it’s a beautiful 75 degrees here….

From Franklin Mejia (based in the Mishawaka, Indiana location):

A trip, nearly 24 hours between flying and changing planes, has been very overwhelming to arrive in a country that has so much to offer and leave to imagination.

The very first impression got me thinking back when I was a child growing in Guatemala city. Lusaka is only 100 years old and rich in language, 72 languages/dialects, and offers so much to learn from.

It has been a long trip, but it is worthwhile to come and start the adventure in such a different–but at the same time similar–to my early memories of my home country Guatemala.

From Michael Schrader (Shipping Specialist based in the Mishawaka, Indiana location):

I have never flown on a commercial airline before so this is an all new experience for me. We first carpooled to Chicago together. The roads were decent until we went through the snow storm in Gary. All I could think about was what to expect in Johannesburg, South Africa. How is the environment there? How is the culture different from mine? I am excited to go but also nervous and soared of into the unknown.

We arrived at the Chicago O’Hare International Airport. Once I got my luggage turned in, I headed over to the TSA with the rest of the group. There was a slight wait and then we started boarding. I heard the engines start and the plane was moving towards the runway. I definitely felt an adrenaline rush. We rapidly increased speed, felt like a roller coaster taking off. I instantly felt the difference in pressure, felt light headed but just for a few seconds. We kept increasing till we reached altitude and we were above the clouds. The clouds astonished me, breathtaking. It looked like huge cotton balls and it was neat seeing it from above, looks way different from below.

My ears popped in and out throughout the ride. We landed in Atlanta around 4 o’clock. We then headed to our gate. With 45 minutes to an hour of wait time, I decided to look around the airport and call my family. Next to my gate, they had artifacts in cases. A stuffed wolf, hand carved statues, wall full of art, and much more. We then met up with the Atlanta group and boarded. This plane came with complimentary TV on the seats and I had access to movies, music, games, and a tracker for the plane so I can visually see where I am on map.

What also surprised me was the complimentary food/drinks. It is getting dark outside my window, all I can see is the moon, and the red and white lights flashing off the airplane. I believe this is the end of my blog, I’ll be in Africa in 11 hours and 22 minutes, and I can’t wait to arrive!

– See more at: http://blog.betterworldbooks.com/2014/01/23/zambia-trip-travels-and-first-impressions-of-lusaka/#sthash.tQ9BxoV3.dpuf

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Timely Tips From Southeastern Admin

I hope you are ready to Get In Gear for the New Year!2014a

Many of us took the respite over the holidays to refocus on our business plan, strategies and tactics.  Now that you have your marching orders, so to speak, the list of items that you want to knock out can be daunting.

To get you started, here are some time organizing tips that might help:

1.  Make a list and prioritize.    Once you have your list of goals for the new year, break them down into small chunks so that you can realistically accomplish them, and mark milestones in your calendar.  Keep in mind that some things may never get done.    If some items are so low on your list, consider delegating or not doing them at all.

2. Make an appointment with yourself.  Actually having the time marked in your calendar for tasks will help ensure that you get them done.   Create recurring time blocks if you need to complete a task every day, every week, etc.

3. Know thy self.  When scheduling time, make sure you block out the time of day when you are the most productive for the task at-hand.  Are you a morning person, or do you tend to have that creative energy flowing late at night?  If all you can manage at 8am is to be dressed, then use that time for low-brain function tasks, such as entering your contacts into your database, or writing thank you notes for referrals or client visits.

4.  Allocate more than enough time and commit full attention.   If, for example, you are scheduling time for social media posting and it takes you 30 minutes to an hour to complete a decent post, then schedule a full hour and add on additional time for proofing and the actual posting.  It’s one thing to put an action item in your calendar, but it’s quite another to get the work done.  Make sure that you do not feel rushed to complete your projects.  Rushing through tasks can make you feel anxious and overwhelmed, as well as cause you to make mistakes.  If you’ve over-scheduled time, then you’ll reap the benefits from any unused time to focus on other items, or pursue unexpected opportunities.

5.   Respect your time.  Emergencies and opportunities will surely overlap the time you have scheduled for yourself, but if you stick to your plan then you will be closer to accomplishing your goals.

6.  Know your limits, and keep the big picture in mind.  Just because you can do something, does not mean that you should.   Is your time best spent somewhere else?  Does it take you two to three times longer to do something than someone with more experience?    Is it a task that you just despise doing?  If so, then either don’t do it or delegate it out.

Remember to keep a positive outlook.  You’ve set these goals to better your business, and ultimately to be happier in life!

Lora Zibman   |   www.SoutheasternAdmin.com  |  770-609-0904

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Temporary / Contract Employment Trend Here To Stay?

Besides Logging, Temporary and Employment Services showed the most gain in new workers in 2013 according to office secretary 2the Wall Street Journal.   I believe that this trend will continue.    With increased regulation on employers and the high cost of benefits, it makes more fiscal sense to hire temporary or contract employees, especially for small business owners.

The difference between a temporary worker and a contract worker is vast though.  Temporary workers are usually procured through a service and are transient workers, requiring income while looking for a full-time position with benefits.   Contract workers usually own their own business, and provide ad hoc or specific assignment work for various employers.

Other benefits of hiring a contract worker over a temporary worker include:

  • Usually no middleman – since you are contracting directly with the employee, there are no service procurement costs, which equates to lower rates.
  • Reduced training time – because there is no turnover, you only need to train once and then can call on the contractor when needed.
  • Higher dedication to work product – work performed is a direct reflection on the contract worker and their business reputation.
  • Experience – Chances are higher that a contract employee will be more skilled in his/her field, than a temporary employee, since the contractor has built his/her business around their skill sets.
  • More references available – If the contractor is good, references and word-of-mouth referrals should abound.  If the contractor is bad, expect bad online reviews.

If you need administrative assistance, consider utilizing an independent contractor, such as Southeastern Admin.

Lora Zibman

Southeastern Admin, the small business administrative solution

www.SoutheasternAdmin.com  |  770-609-0904

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ObamaCare – Ready or Not….

obamacareI am in a closed networking group which I would highly recommend to any to any business owner.   My group is Network For Success which meets weekly here in the Cumming, GA area.   As a new business owner, I truly love to hear the detailed presentations given by the members, as I get a chance to learn not only about their business offerings, but about the people and processes behind the store-front.

One of the group members I really respect is Peter Clavijo.   Peter co-owns Employee Benefits of Atlanta, and is educating our group on what to expect with the all-encompassing changes of Obamacare, or as they call it – “The Affordable Care Act”.    While I’m not so sure how affordable it will be in the end for either the employer or the employed, here are a few great pieces of information that he has shared with us, and has allowed me to share on my blog (all comments are strictly my own).   This information came to Employee Benefits of Atlanta via one of their partners, Kaiser Permanente.

Will you qualify for a federal subsidy to help pay your health premiums?

Here is a link to a Subsidy calculator.   http://healthreform.kff.org/subsidycalculator.aspx

This calculator illustrates the premiums and subsidies for people purchasing insurance on their own in new health insurance exchanges (or “Marketplaces”) created by the Affordable Care Act.  Beginning in October 2013, middle-income people under age 65, who are not eligible for coverage through their employer, Medicaid, or Medicare, can apply for tax credit subsidies available through state-based exchanges.

Additionally, states have the option to expand their Medicaid programs to cover all people making up to 138% of the federal poverty level (which is about $33,000 for a family of four).  In states that opt out of expanding Medicaid, some people making below this amount will still be eligible for Medicaid, some will be eligible for subsidized coverage through Marketplaces, and others will not be eligible for subsidies.

Using this tool, you can enter different income levels, ages, and family sizes to get an estimate of your eligibility for subsidies and how much you could spend on health insurance. As premiums and eligibility requirements may vary, contact your state’s Medicaid office or exchange with enrollment questions.

 

What are the Individual Penalties for not having insurance in 2014?

Click this link (PPACA Individual Mandate Penalty) to view a flow chart to see if you will have to pay a penalty for not purchasing insurance beginning in 2014.  The estimated penalty per adult goes from $94/year in 2014 to $700/year in 2016.   Purchasing health insurance through an exchange would vary by age, but is estimated to be around $5,000/year for an adult in 2016.

Good news though… if you’re in jail or an illegal immigrant, you don’t have to either purchase insurance or pay a penalty! 

 

What are the Employers’ Penalties for not providing insurance in 2014?

Click this link (employer__penalty_flowchart_1) to view another flow chart, showing the penalties that Employers must pay if they do not offer insurance under Obamacare.    The good news for very small businesses (for now) seems to be that if you have fewer than 50 FTE employees, whose average wages are under $50,000, you will not have to pay a penalty.  Note though that this is for 50 full-time equivalent employees.   One full-time employee, according to Obamacare, equates to 30 hours per week.

Keep in mind that this piece of legislation is still evolving and is undoubtedly extremely complicated.  Make sure to contact your insurance professional to get a better understanding of all the requirements.    Employee Benefits of Atlanta provides individualized guidance and a whole host of benefit products such as life, health, vision and dental for large and small businesses, as well as for individuals and families.  They also customize Executive Bonus and Deferred Compensation plans for valued employees, and have just added identity protection services as well as Pet Care Insurance!

If you have questions or want to know more, contact Peter.

Peter Clavijo, Employee Benefits of Atlanta

770-757-1282   |   peter@benefitsofatlanta.com

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Long-Term Occupational Outlook For The Metro-Atlanta Area

Is your occupation projected to grow or shrink?

Find out more from the Georgia Department of Labor, by using this link: http://explorer.dol.state.ga.us/gsipub/index.asp?docid=389

occupation

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What Qualities Make An Administrative Assistant Stand Out From The Crowd?

Does it all

Think anyone can handle the job of an administrative assistant?   Think again.   With the state of economy, assistants are being asked to handle increased workloads and wear many more hats than they have in the past.    For larger companies, they consistently perform 2-3 different job functions, and the longer they have been in their position, the more responsibility they carry.   Administrative assistants for smaller companies have always had this burden, but usually at a reduced pace.

Whether you are looking to hire a full-time, part-time or virtual assistant, here some qualities that you must actively look for during the hiring process:

Reliability:

Because of the amount of responsibility placed on most administrative assistants, it’s important that they are both reliable and dependable.   You need to know that your assistant will first, be there when you need them, and that they can be counted upon when an urgent situation arises (a weekly occurrence in most office for which I’ve worked).    You also need to know that their work will be reliable when it comes to day-to-day work; you need to be able to trust that things are getting done correctly without having to micromanage.

Communication and Customer Service Skills

Communication, interpersonal relationship and listening skills are one of the top desired qualities in an administrative assistant. Your assistant will likely be the first point of contact for clients/customers and workers.   A great administrative assistant knows that she is in the customer service business, and reacts to external customers the same way he/she does to internal co-workers.  In order to reduce unnecessary pressure and interruptions, a great assistant should be able to manage your time by handling questions or concerns so you can run your business with minimal disruption.  By the same token, your assistant should be able to recognize when issues arise that do require your immediate attention.   Again, this sounds easy, but can be challenging when confronted with clients or workers who are upset, confused or unhappy.  Your assistant should be able to listen, interpret and react appropriately.  In addition, your assistant should be able to accurately relay information.  Internal and external experiences with your administrative assistant are a reflection on you.

Organizational and Time Management Skills:

Stating the obvious here… If you are looking to hire an assistant, it’s likely because you have too much to do on your own and are very busy.  You are looking for someone to help alleviate some of the stress that comes with day-to-day operations and handle a multitude of responsibilities.  Prioritization and organization go hand in hand.   If your assistant cannot prioritize, chances are that they are not the best at organizing either.  You need to look for someone that can keep track of multiple projects and reprioritize as necessary – whether it’s booking meetings, filing, or starting to plan for an important event 6 months down the road, they need to have a handle on their assigned tasks.

You also need to be assured that your assistant can find information quickly.   It’s wise to ask a potential assistant how they set up their computer filing system.  If they don’t have a system, then that’s a pretty good indicator that they will have challenges finding important files or data when needed.  Your assistant should not only keep their time and work organized, but should be assisting you in the same way.

Being consistently late to meetings or phone calls is also a red flag.  Not only is it a show of disrespect for others’ time, but it’s a reflection on their time management, dependability as well as customer service skill sets.

Confidentiality:

Administrative assistants are present during important discussions, client deals, as well as development plans for your business.  Being privy to this abundance of information comes with great responsibility.   A great assistant knows not to disclose information regarding client or business matters, as well as not to weigh in office griping or gossip.   It can be lonely not being a part of the top team in terms of operational direction, as well as not really being one of the “workers”.   A great assistant understands this balance act and comports his/herself appropriately.

 

Lora Zibman

http://www.SoutheasternAdmin.com

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Secrets to Finding Cheap and Free Labor

Thanks to one of my networking friends, I was introduced to a great new Meet Up group, the Atlanta Business Academy for Women, run by Belinda Mays.  I really enjoyed this networking event as it was just not the regular meet and greet, but there was actual valuable content imparted.

Have to admit that I was initially intrigued because the title of the meeting: “The secrets to finding a full staff of cheap and free labor”.  While Southeastern Admin is not free  (sorry to let you know) or cheap (in terms of the quality offered), I thought the business owners who were interested in this topic and attending the meeting might also be interested in my services – Capitalist that I am.

I came away with some good information that every small business owner could use.  Belinda points out that all of us have “chores” that could/should be outsourced so that you can stay focused on what’s important to your business.  Some of these include:  Affiliate Program Setup, Blog Content, Bookkeeping, Budgeting/Forecasting, Data Entry, Lead Generation, Event Planning, Email Campaigning, Research, etc.

Others are more task based and involve technical skills at a certain level:  Website Design, Graphic Designing, Animation Creation, Photography, Ghost Writing, Branding and Publicity, etc.  For the more technical skill sets, you could set up an internship program!   However, it must be a win-win for both you, the business owner receiving free/cheap labor, and the intern, receiving ownership and credit for the project, and allowing them to further hone their craft.

Make sure that your intern is also getting benefit from the experience.

Make sure that your intern is also getting benefit from the experience.

Remember that as a small business owner, you must compete for interns with the likes of Home Depot, Coca-Cola and Baker McKenzie.  Your posting for intern position should be professional and make your intern want to work for your company.  Go online to Monster or CareerBuilder and look at similar postings for paid positions.  Make sure to list specifics for the internship:  how long will the position be required;  the degree they are pursuing and/or necessary skills required; and is it paid or unpaid.

Does your intern need to come to your place of business?   There are plenty of ways to connect via phone, the internet, web meetings, etc., so don’t limit yourself to local colleges and universities.   Some good online posting sites are: Internmatch.com, Internships.com and rsinternships.com.   Does your project involve multiple facets?  You might need more than one intern to complete the project (i.e., a website designer, a graphic designer and a marketing major).

During the interview process there are some important steps to remember to find the quality intern you require.  The answers to these questions will build to filter out the candidates that will not be a good match for your needs.

  • First provide a brief overview of you and your company’s services.  Before explaining the position in depth, find out what their career goals are and what they hope to gain from the experience.   Do their goals fit in with your overall requirements?
  • Next ask them what assignments they need to fulfill their goals.   Again, do these assignments fit in with your requirements?
  • If their goals and assignments fit in with your needs, now you can begin to detail the duties, and tie them in with their goals, ensuring that your candidate sees the benefit in working for you.  Find out how many hours they can dedicate to your project each week and when they can be available for project review meetings.   Again, you want to create a win-win situation, allowing them flexibility so that they can work efficiently and want to complete the project at no or little cost to you.
  • If everything is a fit, ask them if they would like to be considered for the position and make sure to send them your intern program contract.   This contract should include:  contact information of all parties, term dates, compensation (if any), duties, reporting instructions, location and scheduling (onsite or virtual and expected work hours), any equipment required for them to complete the assignment (are you providing any, or are they expected have their own), and a Nondisclosure agreement that will be signed by all parties (don’t forget this crucial step).

The way you treat the interns is critical to the win-win deal; do not expect them to pick up your cleaning or go get your lunch, treat them as though they were an actual employee (just without the salary).

Think about offering bonuses, based on their completing certain tasks.   Belinda lets her interns choose their own title.  How great of a draw is that?  Imagine listing on your resume that you were the Marketing Director for a company while attending college?  If you are a small business, and you wish to delegate all of your marketing programs to your intern, then this would in actuality be an accurate title.

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