In BPO, CareersJanuary 8th, 2014

Perks You Can Give to Your Virtual Assistant

Posted by on January 8th, 2014 | No Comments »

Who doesn’t love getting perks? Almost everybody in this world would want get more out of what they do every once in a while. While you might say that a pat on the back for a job well done is a much appreciated gesture, wouldn’t you want to get something more for your excellent services like a tip, or a free vacation, or a huge bonus at the end of the year?

Virtual assistants are not categorized as employees, but rather independent contractors or service providers, they do love getting perks for the services they give their clients. The following are 3 perks virtual assistants all over the world would want to get from their clients, according virtual staffing expert Chris Ducker.

#1 Paid Vacation Leaves

Every professional out there has vacation plans – a summer holiday in the beaches of Boracay or a tour in Singapore. But most virtual assistants can’t because the usual payment scheme in place is “no work, no pay”. One day of no work means hug financial losses on their part. So they work and work to generate income and throw their holiday plans at the back seat. But it does not have to be that way, Ducker says.

Virtual assistants do require vacations.  Whether they want to recharge their batteries or spend some bonding time with their loved ones, the fact is people need to step back from work every once in a while without worrying about income.

“I give my personal VA’s 5-days paid holiday in their first year,”

writes Ducker in his blog ChrisDucker.com. Ducker says his virtual assistants are very appreciative of this move and they usually take the opportunity to go on vacation when Ducker is out traveling, as so not to disrupt the work flow. The upsides of this set-up, Ducker says, include loyalty, better output and productivity, and asically happy and satisfied employees.

 #2 Health & Insurance Benefits

Because most virtual assistants, if not all, do not work for a Filipino company, they tend not to get the basic benefits usually offered to regular Filipino employees such as health coverage and insurance policies. Most of them also do pay government-mandated contributions to several government institutions.

That is the case in the Philippines. Many Filipino virtual assistants are not covered with insurance policies and health plans. One of the reasons why most of them can’t pay their contributions is the lack of time. Whereas the contributions of regular Filipino employees are taken care of by the employer by simply deducting the contribution amounts from their pay, independent and home-based Filipino workers have to line up to process their payments and paying for all of them could take up a whole day.

Providing health insurance with extended coverage is also a requirement for Filipino employers but not for offshore clients.  That being said, Ducker says that while giving your virtual assistants health insurance benefits can be quite expensive, (health insurance plans could cost you $200 to $500 a year), and he doesn’t mind getting health plans for his virtual team.

“In fact, he urges virtual bosses around the world ‘to get your VA that piece of mind for the whole family and you’ll be forever in their prayers.”

#3 Give Them Incentives

Incentives and other bonuses motivate people to perform well and the same can be said with virtual assistants. Most employees are appreciative of bonuses that are of monetary in nature although that can be a huge drawback if they are presented with the idea of cash gains if they perform well and not get it at the end.

Ducker suggests instead to using cash to propel your virtual team forward, why not do so with other items that your team may find useful. For his part, Ducker gives out iTunes vouchers, flowers and chocolates (for birthday occasions), hotel accommodations as wedding present, and gift certificates from malls and boutiques.

 #4 13th Month Pay (Very Optional but highly recommended)

Filipinos always look forward to their 13th month pay, a mandated year-end bonus given to all regular employees usually in the middle of December. While virtual assistants are technically not employees, giving them their 13th month pay will definitely make their year a whole lot better and make you a boss they will feel stronger about.

Virtual assistants often plan ahead on how they are going to spend their 13th month pay. Some use the funds to buy gadgets or shoes while others put the money in the bank or invest in a business. However they spend the money, it is important to point out that Filipinos revere the 13th month pay. And if you do pay up, you are not just a virtual boss, but also a genie in the bottle.

They are just perks but…

Perks are perks and they are never requirements. But they do have positive effects on people and in most cases, they bring out the best from your workers. Of course, giving out perks must done in a way that you and your virtual team do not lose sight of your business goals as well as theirs. Perks are effective motivation tool and therefore, they should egg your virtual workers to perform the desired actions and bring you your ROI you so desire.

Virtual Assistants: Changing The Way People Do Business

The rapid progress of communications and information technology, coupled with the fact that most people today can’t live without logging to the Internet (figuratively speaking), fueled the growth of the virtual assistant industry. While the virtual assistant profession is not new, it is certainly experiencing a huge boost all over the world.

Back then, business people in the 1980s to 1990s would hire people to provide secretarial services, which are considered by many the root of the virtual assistance industry. While the initial set-up consisted of office assistants or executive secretaries coming to office for work, technological advances have changed the way how their work is being done. The executive secretary job started becoming a remotely-performed operation when telephone lines and fax machines came along. The farther technology gets, the more home-based the virtual assistant job has actually become.

Today, with the evolution of the Internet and new Internet-based communications and applications such as email, cloud, and video chat, working remotely from home, even if you are thousands of miles away from your employer. With the Internet and the recently introduced smart phone, working from home has become quite a breeze for many young professionals in this generation.

For many small to medium entrepreneurs and business executives, hiring a virtual assistant has been a game changer to the way they do business. Among the advantages that come with getting a virtual assistant to your team are low labor costs. Chris Ducker, a notable online entrepreneur and virtual staffing experts, mentioned in his blog that hiring a virtual assistant is “9 out of 10 times” more cost effective in contrast to acquiring the services of local talents.

To drive a point, an executive secretary in the United States will cost you around $34,660 a year or roughly $16.66 an hour, according to the facts presented by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In contrast, Ducker says that hiring a skilled virtual assistant in the Philippines will require you to pay $450 to $750 a month, or approximately $9,000 a year.

Looking at the huge margin between both salary rates, you can easily see how cost effective hiring a virtual assistant can be to your business. The thousands of dollars one can save by getting a virtual assistant instead of an executive secretary can be coursed to fund other business priorities and endeavors like marketing strategies, product research, and hiring more people.

Aside from the low labor costs, hiring a virtual assistant can also be beneficial to entrepreneurs in terms of logistics. Logistical issues such as providing employees with office space, equipment, and office supplies are not felt by those who opt to contract the services of virtual assistants. Professional virtual workers have their own office in their homes and have their own office equipment and tools such as laptops, personal computers, and PC software.

Picking the Right Candidate: What Experts Advise You To Do

hiremeWhile virtual assistants can be essential to any business organization, there can be bad eggs everywhere and anywhere you look. The trick is to pick the right virtual assistant to help you with a specific area in your business. That being said, many virtual bosses have found that choosing the right virtual assistant is a taxing endeavor that requires a lot of screening, interviewing, narrowing the list of candidates and then ultimately picking the candidate who perfectly fits the position.

The good news is that as years go by, more and more entrepreneurs and online bosses have found some ways to really determine how one can pick the right virtual assistant. For Tracy Lawton, an office staffing and organization specialist, the very meaning of virtual allows you to pick the candidate regardless of location. Some entrepreneurs and business executives are still divided whether it is best to hire someone from the local scene or get a person who is thousands of miles away from you.

“if you feel that working with a local VA is what you need, then you should focus your search on just local VAs,”

Lawton says.

“However, be aware that by doing this you may be limiting your options when choosing the right VA.”

Chris Ducker, online entrepreneur and virtual staffing advocate based in the Philippines, says that there is nothing wrong whether you hire local talents or get some contractors from other countries.

“You’re going to do whatever you think is best for you, your business and your bank balance, at the end of the day.”

However, he prefers his virtual unit to be close at home instead of several time zones and thousand miles away. This particular set up allows him to keep tabs with his team and allows them to update him real time. This arrangement is much better than hiring people in different time zones, which demands both parties to compromise to accommodate their time. Having your virtual unit close also reduces miscommunications, a fact Ducker appreciates.

“When working with domestic VA’s the chances of things being lost in translation are way slimmer, than when you go overseas,”

Ducker says.

For Owen McGab Enaohwo, owner of a virtual staffing and consultancy company based in Washington DC, it is of utmost importance that business owners and employers determine first what they need and want in a virtual assistant before anything else. It is critical that you be very specific with the tasks you want your potential VA to perform on your behalf.

“Knowing what task you will be asking the VA to be responsible for will give you a clear idea on the specific skill sets the job requires,”

Enaohwo says to his clients.

Most virtual assistants perform general office functions, such as managing emails, setting appointments, scheduling conferences, and providing their employers with the latest news. However, there are virtual bosses who need to address specific issues and require specific talents. You may find it very useful if you hire a virtual assistant who has an extensive background and experience in accountancy and finance if you need help with your organization’s account books and payroll management.

It is a common practice to not settle for one candidate. It is always best to have a list of potential VAs and then narrow down the list according to their skills level, experience, and affordability. It is also common practice that you already have a set of criteria ready to see if your candidates pass your personal and professional standards.

However, if you feel this is a big task and you do not want to spend so much time and effort in finding the best fit for your business needs, you can always tap staffing agencies to help you out. While this option means you have to shell out money, you are also spared from time-consuming tasks such as doing background checks and interviews to name a few.

Once you find your VA, make him understand his role, arrange the payment structure, and hope you made the best choice.

“A Virtual Assistant’s role is to support you and your business, by taking the pressure off you so you can spend more time working ON your business instead of IN it,”

states Lawton.

Building a productive relationship with your VA is more than just giving perks. Check out the other ways to build a relationship with your VA that is beneficial to both parties here.

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