Image of hands together in a team

Winter 2020
Teamwork Makes the Retail Dream Work By Angie Avard Turner

Tips on hiring a team, both virtually and in real life

Retail is a tough business, but it is not without its rewards. Often retail businesses are begun by one or two owners, however as those establishments grow, a need to form a team emerges. With everything becoming automated, systematized, and digitized, retailers are now able to hire team members in different towns, and in some cases other states. However, just because the potential team member may work remotely does not mean the retailer does not need some protection. In fact, retailers should use the same amount of care as they would use to hire an employee or independent contractor that was working for them IRL (in real life).

A trend that has been on the uptick in the last few years is hiring virtual assistants (VA) for a variety of jobs from bookkeeping to social media management to handling publicity. Hiring these VA’s, as they are known, is much the same as hiring anyone else for your business. The only difference is they don’t physically show up at your establishment, so even more of a reason to get things in writing.

PUT THE RELATIONSHIP IN WRITING

When hiring anyone, whether they are a full-time, a part-time employee, an independent contractor, or VA, business owners should execute an agreement of some sort. Committing your relationship to writing accomplishes a few goals. It signals that you have a system in place for how you bring new people into your business; it’s not just happenstance. It establishes your working parameters and details your expectations. A work agreement can detail the length of employment and whether there is a condition that must be met for further employment. Furthermore, executing this type of agreement ensures that you have committed to writing what happens should there ever be a conflict. It is much easier to spell out those tricky terms when everyone is getting along and cooler heads prevail.

HAVE SET DEADLINES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

As part of the work agreement, the business owner should detail what the job description is. What are the tasks for which the person is being compensated? This may be accomplished generally in the work agreement but can be detailed more specifically in a document that has timelines or deadline dates attached to each specific task. There is no one right way to accomplish this; the important thing is to do it. Neglecting to do so, leaves room for misinterpretation of responsibilities or neglect. Neither are desired results as a business owner. Additionally, along the way, as a business owner, you will want to create a document that allows for assessment and review. Maybe an idea that the VA implemented was a home run, then you would want to acknowledge that and determine if that same concept can be adapted and applied in another area of the business. Similarly, if something done was less than successful, then you would want to discuss and figure out how to improve, adjust, or pivot.

REQUIRE LOYALTY

This almost seems too obvious to say, however, loyalty includes keeping proprietary information confidential and not taking information learned during employment for the sole purpose of starting one’s own business. In short, business owners should execute a confidentiality agreement to protect their proprietary information such as email list, vendor lists, procedures and systems. The confidentiality agreement can cover for the term of the employment and even after the employment ends. Enforcement after the employment ends is a little more difficult, however, including that language may deter someone from acting in that way.

Related to the confidentiality agreement is a non-competition agreement. This agreement seeks to stop an GIFTSHOPMAG.COM 135

employee from working for a short period of time for your establishment and then taking what they have learned and starting the same business nearby. This may not be as important if a business owner is hiring a virtual team member, however executing this document could act as a deterrent for someone thinking about acting badly. The main aspects that must be considered in whether a non-competition agreement is enforceable is 1) how long is it in force for, and 2) what are the geographic boundaries. A court will examine these two components. If either or both are unreasonable then the agreement will not be enforced.

Image of hands together in a team

THEIR SOCIAL MEDIA MAY REFLECT YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA

As a business owner, when hiring someone, whether face-to-face or virtually, you will want to execute a social media policy agreement. This agreement details not what they say on their personal social media, but what they say about your company on their social media. Business owners want team members shedding positive light on their business not throwing shade. Furthermore, if you have a team member who is handling your social media for your business, you want them to use a certain tone, avoid offensive language, use only your photos, and a whole host of other specifics that can be laid out in this type of agreement.

GIVE THEM A PROBATIONARY/TRIAL RUN

Particularly if you are hiring someone virtually, trust them with a small assignment. If they perform to your satisfaction, broaden their responsibility. There is nothing that says that you must hire them to do everything at once. Ease into the relationship. That way neither of you are overwhelmed.

Regardless of whether you are hiring locally or virtually, building a team requires some planning, forethought and discernment. It also requires making sure you are covered legally, both for you and your potential new team member.

DISCLAIMER: The materials available in this article are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this website do not create an attorney-client relationship between Angie Avard Turner Law and the user or browser January 26-30, 2020 Toronto Congress Centre To register visit togifthomemarket.ca @cangift Toronto_quarterhoriztlad_10222019_v1.indd 2 2019-12-04 2:54 PM

Angie Avard Turner

Angie Avard Turner is an attorney who exclusively represents clients in the gift industry including retailers, wholesalers, artists and bloggers. She is licensed to practice law in the state of Georgia, but she is able to handle copyright and trademark issues nationally. For more information regarding her practice, visit www.angieavardturnerlaw.com.




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