Small Business Tips

Human Resources Post Archive
Featuring articles related to the topic of human resources including personnel selection, hiring, firing, training, evaluation, compensation, promotion and relations in order to maximize the return on investment from an organization’s human capital.
Acknowledging Those Who Make a Difference

We all long for someone to tell us that we’re doing a good job… a pat on the back, an encouraging word, recognition for our efforts. And what we crave is more than the simple “thank you” or “good job.” We want to hear specifics – we desire to have our actions actually acknowledged – something heartfelt and authentic, without any ulterior motives behind it. An acknowledgment puts the spotlight on someone else’s talent, thoughtfulness, hard work, etc. You will energize and inspire that individual to work harder and keep doing what they do well.

But, the truth of the matter is, acknowledgments are a rarity, especially in the workplace, which is unfortunate. Most people spend the majority of their lives working – it takes up more time than anything else we do. Sleeping may come close for the ratio of time in a 24 hour day, but how many of us actually get those blessed eight hours of sleep anyway. For something that we spend most of our time doing (our job), you would think that the acknowledgments for a job-well-done would be plentiful. But they, quite often, are not.

Continue Reading: “Acknowledging Those Who Make a Difference”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
What Employees Want from You
Inspire Your Employees
Protecting Your Clientele
Leading by Example in a World of Copy Cats
A New Way for Employees to Get Paid

By Michelle Cramer
Sunday, October 8th, 2017 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Human Resources, Motivation |

Finding An Employee That Matches Your Leadership Style

It’s not a process many employers enjoy – placing a “help wanted” ad, filtering through resumes, conducting interviews. Hiring an employee can be an arduous task, to say the least. And, though there are many important things to consider when looking for the right candidate, many of which a specific to the position you’re trying to fill, employers often overlook one of the most important elements – compatibility.

I’m not speaking of whether or not you would get along with the person you’re looking to hire. You probably can get along with all sorts of people – most of us can. More specifically I’m referring to finding an employee that compliments your leadership style. To do that, you must first understand the two types of employees you will find.

Continue Reading: “Finding An Employee That Matches Your Leadership Style”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Independent Contractors
What Employees Want from You
Expanding Your Business Overseas: Labor Laws
Immigration Laws Proving Difficult for Business Owners
Competing for Business with a Former Employer

By Michelle Cramer
Tuesday, September 12th, 2017 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Human Resources |

Hard to Find Employees

It’s getting harder and harder to find good help these days. And there are many factors contributing to the problem that you, as a business owner, need to be aware of.

First of all, there is an increased number of young people seeking jobs that require more brain skill than brawn skill, which is making an increased shortage of employees for the manufacturing industry. Mechanics, engineers, freight and delivery truck drivers, machine operators and construction workers are some of the hardest positions to fill.

Another issue is a lack of adequate compensation for the demanding job. Teachers, for example, on a national average really get gypped when it comes to their annual salary and benefits. Though many seek a teaching career for the joy of the work, rather than the pay, there is also a lack of valuable, qualified teachers all over the nation because many just can’t afford such limited pay to support their own families, no matter how much they love to teach.

Continue Reading: “Hard to Find Employees”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Using Your Business to Serve the Community
Determining Your Employee’s Salary
Fair Tax Legislation
Consider This When Hiring an Intern
National Minimum Wage on the Verge of Increasing

By Michelle Cramer
Friday, August 18th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Human Resources, Ownership |

Implementing a Wellness Program

The cost of health benefits for employers and employees alike is a rising concern, especially for smaller business owners. Though it can’t get rid of the cost all together, implementing a wellness program into your employees’ working lifestyle can save you money.

Many high deductible insurance programs pair their health benefits with the implementation of a wellness program in order to provide lower premiums to small business owners and employees. However, the high deductible can reach over $10,000 and, in the long run, can really cause some debt problems if an employee needs medical services.

Continue Reading: “Implementing a Wellness Program”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Small Business Health Bill to Return to Senate
Insurance for Small Businesses
Expanding Your Business Overseas: Labor Laws
Professional Employer Organization Services
Preparing Your Company for its First Employee

By Michelle Cramer
Monday, August 14th, 2017 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Human Resources, Operations |

Professional Employer Organization Services

Many businesses, especially small ones that don’t necessarily have the man power for all of their human resources, needs use services provided by professional employer organizations (PEO). If you think you might be in need of payroll and various other services, there are some things you’ll need to think about first.

When You Need a PEO
• If you need to provide competitive benefits, such as health insurance, in order to recruit and keep employees. PEOs negotiate rates with insurance carriers for their entire clientele as a whole, which usually gets a better rate for everyone.
• When your business has strict regulation and compliance requirements on the state and federal level that would be difficult and time consuming to keep up with, such as businesses dealing with hazardous chemicals or explosives.

Continue Reading: “Professional Employer Organization Services”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
A New Way for Employees to Get Paid
Insurance for Small Businesses
Which Business Entity is Right for You? (Part 3)
Preparing Your Business for Impending Disaster
Expanding Your Business Overseas: Labor Laws

By Michelle Cramer
Friday, August 11th, 2017 @ 12:07 AM CDT

Human Resources, Operations |

Getting Past Generation Y Stereotypes

My husband has one of the greatest work ethics I’ve ever seen. Though he doesn’t any longer, he has worked in grocery since high school as a part-time gig. In the five plus years I’ve known him, he has never once called in to work. It doesn’t matter how sick he is, he always says they are counting on him.

His last job at a grocery store was just 10 hours a week, but when they needed some extra help or needed someone to fill a shift, my hubby was the first person they would call because he always would agree to be there. And you know what, most of the time, people are shocked to hear how devoted to his job he was, even though he really didn’t like it at all.

Why were they surprised? Because stereotypes about the “Y Generation” (those born between 1978 and 1990 – which includes me) have lead people to believe many things about those of us in our twenties and teens, especially when it comes to work, that just aren’t true for the majority. And employers need to start realizing the truth about us young ones, because over the next four years, nearly 10 million of us will be entering the work force.

Let’s examine some of those stereotypes and I’ll point out the misconception and the truth:

Continue Reading: “Getting Past Generation Y Stereotypes”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Startup Myths Keep Entrepreneurs Motivated
Stronger Business Through Honest Communication
New EEOC Guidelines Expand Employee Protection
An Interesting Way to Win Potential Clients
Hard to Find Employees

By Michelle Cramer
Tuesday, August 1st, 2017 @ 12:04 AM CDT

Human Resources |

Helping Ensure Your Employees Get Along

In any business, especially small ones, everyone works closely together. Sometimes employees have to deal with the cubicle situation, with desks nearly on top of one another, because of limited space issues. This can cause some messy situations if you, as the boss, don’t lay down some ground rules right from the beginning.

Here are some things you may want to stick in your employee policy manual, in order to help avoid those popular cubicle conflicts:

1. Allow employees to label their supplies.
One of the most popular cubicle complaints among employees is that things keep disappearing from their desk. We all know that popular phrase from Office Space: “Has anyone seen my stapler?” Well, it happens all the time. For me, my pens are always disappearing, mostly because I sit at the front desk. Allow your employees to label their supplies, such as staplers, pens, clipboards, etc., with their name or desk number, in order to help to sway the temptation of others to snatch it.

Continue Reading: “Helping Ensure Your Employees Get Along”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Building Your Office
What Employees Want from You
Standing on the Job
Scheduling Time to Relax
How to Fire an Employee

By Michelle Cramer
Saturday, July 29th, 2017 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Human Resources, Operations |

The Balance of a Leader

From the time I was a little girl, my mother had this look. If I was not behaving in the manner she approved of, all it took from her was “the look” (and occasionally my name spoken in a not so flattering tone) and I’d straighten right up. That look has carried on to me. My husband says I try and use on him sometimes (though he doesn’t like to admit that I’m usually successful) and even our dog, a 95 pound lab/dane mix, will hang his head in shame when I give him “the look.” It must be an acquired skill.

Equally as important as “the look” in getting my point across, is the affection. Though we don’t have any children of our own just yet, I have a great deal of experience with them from working in daycares and children’s ministries at church. And one of the most important things I’ve learned is there must be affection and love in your discipline. With my nephews, for example, when they stay over at our house and get into trouble, we discuss what they did wrong, how to improve in the future, and always end with a hug and “I love you.”

Being a good, strong, dependable leader is all about balance. Being a leader is not a one-sided position. You cannot be rough on your employees and never show them any tenderness. And you can’t be easy on everyone and never show them any discipline. You have to have a balance of both.

And there are many areas in which a balance is needed as a leader, such as the following:

Continue Reading: “The Balance of a Leader”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Leaders Can’t Do It Alone
Showing Compassion
Business Structures Help Fight War on Terror
Leading by Example in a World of Copy Cats
What Employees Want from You

By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, July 27th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Human Resources, Ownership |

Businesses Embrace the Harry Potter Craze

Harry Potter CrazeAre you a Harry Potter fan? I am. I love the movies, but haven’t read the books yet (I know, any die-hard fans would be appalled). My husband has suddenly gone on a “read all the books NOW” craze and has flown through the first three in a week. But I can’t say that I spend a lot of time at work discussing Harry Potter. But apparently, it has become something more than a little water cooler chatter.

According to Entrepreneur.com’s article Potter Casts Petrificus Totalus Spell on Workplace (nice title, by the way), the Harry Potter craze that has swept the nation for the past few years has escalated with the release of the fifth movie, The Order of the Phoenix on July 11th and the release of the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on July 21st. And with that escalation has come a bit of, shall we say, distraction during business hours.

Continue Reading: “Businesses Embrace the Harry Potter Craze”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Helping Ensure Your Employees Get Along
How to Issue a Press Release
Top Movies About Entrepreneurs
Yoga at Your Desk
What to Expect from Technology in 2007

By Michelle Cramer
Saturday, July 22nd, 2017 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Human Resources, Operations |

Leading by Example in a World of Copy Cats

When you are in a leadership position, what is the one principle that is the root of everything you do across the board? Lead by example. Why is that? Because we live in a world of copy cats and people do what they see their leaders do.

For example, say the CEO of a company is using his petty cash account for personal expenses (such as a 2008 Mercedes), rather than business expenses. Now Bob in sales knows what the CEO is up to. And it’s likely that Bob won’t report the events. Instead, he’ll follow in his CEO’s footsteps and start requesting reimbursements for the dinner he had out last week. No one has to know it was just him, the wife and the kids. He can say it was a business dinner with potential clients. Afterall, if the CEO gets away with it, so should Bob.

Continue Reading: “Leading by Example in a World of Copy Cats”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
What Makes Women Entrepreneurs Different from Men?
Protecting Your Clientele
The Balance of a Leader
Showing Compassion
Inspire Your Employees

By Michelle Cramer
Monday, July 17th, 2017 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Human Resources, Motivation |

Flexibility is What Working Parents Desire

Balancing work and family life can be quite the challenge. Add a social life in the mix and you’ve got yourself one overly busy schedule to deal with most days.

Does that busy schedule affect working moms or working dads more? A survey conducted by Harris Interactive for Adecco USA may shed some light on that. The survey polled 223 employed men and 272 employed women who have at least one child.

Some of the results are as follows:

Continue Reading: “Flexibility is What Working Parents Desire”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Mompreneurs: Balancing Work and Motherhood
Seeking a Dream
Funeral Homes Renovate Look and Services
What Successful People Do – Part 1
What Goes Around Comes Back Around

By Michelle Cramer
Friday, July 14th, 2017 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Human Resources |

Consider This When Hiring an Intern

Today is the first official day of summer (don’t we all wish we still had a summer vacation). And, with classes temporarily out of session, college students are looking for summer internships. For them, it is an opportunity to learn more about the business they are hoping to get into after graduation, without a long-term commitment.

For you, it is a chance to test things out and see if you would be willing to hire this student for a full-time, long-term position when he graduates. You also get the opportunity to pass on what you know about “the business” and provide a hands on education that a college course won’t necessarily provide. Not to mention the fact that hiring an intern has the added perk of an extra set of hands around the office at no or very little cost to you.

Before you hire an intern, however, keep the following in mind:

Continue Reading: “Consider This When Hiring an Intern”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Learning From Experienced Entrepreneurs
Preparing Your Company for its First Employee
Hiring an Ad Agency for Your Business
Finding An Employee That Matches Your Leadership Style
Stop Sitting on the Sidelines

By Michelle Cramer
Monday, July 10th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Human Resources, Operations |

Using Your Business to Serve the Community

There are a large number of possiblities when it comes to getting involved in your community. In fact, there are a number of ways your business can get involved, such as donating some of your profits to charity or donating the product/service you provide to those in need. But have you ever considered actually using your business itself to serve the community?

Continue Reading: “Using Your Business to Serve the Community”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Will You Retire?
Define Organizational Structure & Management – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 3 of 8
MasterCard Global Small Business Survey 2006
Showing Compassion
Ways to Promote Yourself

By Michelle Cramer
Saturday, July 1st, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Human Resources, Ventures |

Preventing Sexual Discrimination in the Workplace

As I have mentioned before in this blog, I am, among many other things, a legal assistant at a law firm. It’s a small firm, consisting of five attorneys, all men, and six legal assistants, all women. Though it wouldn’t be that strange for a female attorney to join the firm, it would be quite odd to have a male paralegal join the gang.

There are many professions that tend to appeal predominately to one sex or the other. Most nurses are women. Most construction workers are men. Daycare teachers – women. Trash collectors – men. Most of these jobs have always been this way, typically because that particular job fits the strengths of one particular sex better than the other. That doesn’t mean, however, that there isn’t a tough broad out there who couldn’t guide a steel beam into place.

Imagine with me, if you will, the opposite gender “infiltrating” one of these or many other professions that tend to be single-sex oriented. For example, if a female attorney joined our firm, it would probably be of little consequence, since female attorneys aren’t scarce, they’re just not part of our particular firm. However, I can imagine that a woman who gets a job pouring concrete at a construction site would receive her unnecessary share of cat calls and sexist remarks.

Continue Reading: “Preventing Sexual Discrimination in the Workplace”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
New EEOC Guidelines Expand Employee Protection
What Makes Women Entrepreneurs Different from Men?
Global Markets and Business Etiquette
But on the Other Hand . . . (i.e. Exploring Options)
Defeating Spam and Phishing

By Michelle Cramer
Friday, June 23rd, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Business Law, Human Resources |

Workplace Bullies and How to Deal with Them

We all know a bully to be a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates what he/she considers smaller or weaker people (definition courtesy of dictionary.com).

Every grade school class has one. The kid that taunts everyone, calls them names, makes them feel worthless. And that doesn’t change much in high school either. But as we become adults that tormenting part of childhood usually fades away.

Unfortunately, a sort of epidemic of bullying from bosses has found its way into the work force. Truthfully, it’s probably been there all along, only now more people are willing to speak out about it.

The signs are obvious according to a survey conducted by the Employment Law Alliance, in which 44% of 534 U.S. workers felt they were being bullied by their boss. A bullying boss is one who publicly criticizes, rudely interrupts, teases, gives dirty looks, uses sarcastic jabs or ignores one or more employees. But what can be done about it?

The Target
If you are the target of a boss’ bullying, you likely deal with a low self-esteem and possibly even depression as a result. Being constantly given the impression that you’re worthless and weak can often make you believe it.

There are no laws against bullying someone. If you are the target of a boss’ bullying, a lawsuit is not currently an option. It would likely be counter-productive to go directly to that superior and tell her what she is doing is making it hard to work there. Chances are she will simply give you a hard time about it.

Before you just up quit your job, however, try going to someone higher up. If there is no superior above your bullying boss’ head, go ahead and give talking it out a shot. If that doesn’t work, a job search may be your best bet.

The Higher-Up
If you are concerned that you may have a bully under your employ, there are some warning signs to look for. Pay attention to turnovers and absentee rates. If a department is seeing a lot of either, chances are the head of that department isn’t very easy to live with five days a week and employees would rather not come to work at all then to have to deal with him.

Clearly, if there is a bully in your midst, confront him about it and give him an opportunity to change. But I would suggest making it a short opportunity. Not only does a bullying supervisor affect the success of your business, but he can also cause emotional or mental distress for your other employees and no one wants that.

If you don’t have a bully in your employ, but want to take the steps to avoid future problems, a good plan is to add bullying tendencies to your company’s sexual harassment policies. This makes all employees aware of what you consider acceptable and unacceptable behavior, and could help to avoid the problem.

The Bully
Most bullies are well aware of what they are doing, but lets say that you don’t realize that you’re bullying your employees – that you see it as just having a little fun. Pay attention to how people react when you’re “having a little fun.” If, instead of laughing along with you, they’re avoiding eye contact and evading you, then you’re probably being inappropriate and causing problems.

Here’s the thing, chances are the reason you never grew out of being a bully (because it’s likely you’ve always been one) is because deep down you don’t really think very highly of yourself either. Most bullies act the way they do because they are trying to feel better about themselves at the expense of others. If that is the case there are clearly some underlying issues that must be dealt with in order to overcome your aggressive behavior. Don’t be afraid to get help.

Regardless of where you fall in the bullying ring, even if you’re observing from the outside, do what you can to help correct the situation in order to preserve a pleasant working environment. If employees aren’t happy, productivity diminishes, and when that happens the business suffers. Efforts to remedy the situation benefit everyone at every level, so make the effort and the results may astound you.

Source:
• Inc.com: Nearly Half of U.S. Workers Feel Bullies at Work – and They Want to Sue


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
What Do Your Clients Need?
What Employees Want from You
Market Analysis – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 2 of 8
Finding An Employee That Matches Your Leadership Style
Protecting Your Clientele

By Michelle Cramer
Wednesday, June 14th, 2017 @ 12:05 AM CDT

Human Resources, Operations |

Small Business Health Bill to Return to Senate

It was proposed last year, and didn’t make it through. But Senator Michael Enzi intends to sponsor the small business health care bill again this year, despite the opposition he’s facing from many angles.

The State Association of Attorney Generals, the American Caner Society and the American Diabetes Association have all expressed concerned about some holes in the bill in its current condition and want some changes made.

Let’s examine the current bill from both angles:

PROS
• Will allow small businesses to pool insurance policies together, much like large corporations and unions currently do.
• Will give many businesses, who otherwise couldn’t, a chance to provide health insurance to their employees.
• The more people in the insurance pool, the better the cost to each business owner.
• The insurance pool spreads the risk involved over a larger number of people, so it doesn’t hurt the pocket nearly as much if an employee in the pool were to get sick.
• It opens up more health care options.

CONS
• Coverage does not have to meet state requirements, which can result in large holes in the coverage provided. Important and all too common medical problems like diabetes and breast cancer might not be covered.
• The lack of requirements also allows business owners to provide their employees with a “bare-bones” policy that may covers very little of the fees associated with even routine doctor visits.
• May cause the price of services not covered under the policy to increase in order for medical providers to make up the difference.
• The lack of state oversight could eliminate customer protection on many levels.

With 41 state attorney generals signing their names in a letter of complaint about the holes in the bill, it is expected that Senator Enzi and his colleagues will have to go back to the drawing board to develop some sort of compromise.

But I truly feel they’re on the right track. Far too many people in this country are without health insurance and something needs to be done about that. Giving small businesses the means to provide coverage to their employees is the first step in disposing of the problem.

What do you think? Is the bill fine the way it is? Should changes be made? Are there other alternatives? Share your thoughts.

Source:
• CNNMoney.com: Senate fight over small-business health care


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Insurance for Small Businesses
Implementing a Wellness Program
Professional Employer Organization Services
Expanding Your Business Overseas: Labor Laws
Preparing Your Business for Impending Disaster

By Michelle Cramer
Saturday, May 27th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Human Resources |

Help Wanted: Advertising Job Openings Online

As the use of the Internet continues to expand worldwide, business owners across the country are seeing opportunities to broaden the prospects for job openings. Instead of just placing a help wanted ad in the paper, many are expanding to online job searches to reach potential employees on the national level.

There are a lot of job searches on the Internet, so how do you know which ones to use? Nowadays, the most popular searches are Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com, and they also tend to be the most reliable. It’s not free though. Monster’s prices range from $300 for smaller cities/towns, to over $500 for larger cities per job posting. CareerBuilder’s job post prices start at $419 for one post, and lower rates per post if you buy in bulk.

What about searching the resumes on these sites? Well, the prices on Monster’s resume search range from $650 for two weeks/400 views to $7,000 for annual/20,000 views on a regional level. That price, of course, goes up if you want to search nationally.

CareerBuilder’s resume search provides unlimited viewing at $900 for two weeks to $8,988 for one year.

But what if these top job search engines are way out of your price range? There are other options available to get your job openings out there online. More than likely, your local newspaper has a website with a classified search available. If you place a help wanted ad in the paper, they may very well also have that ad on their website, or post it online for a small additional fee.

Another option is the career center at colleges in your state. Most colleges provide some sort of resource to their students to help them find a job after graduation, and many of these career centers have online job postings through their website. The fees would probably vary, but the cost would be significantly lower than the more high end search sites. It’s a good idea to post a job with career centers even if you use Monster or CareerBuilder.

Of course, you should also start a “Job Opportunities” section on your own website. This will bring in prospective employees that are interested in your company, which makes for potentially better applicants.

Regardless of where you post your job openings online, take advantage of the opportunity it presents. Posting a job online allows you to be as thorough as you want to be about the position, what is required to be considered for the position, and why someone would want to work for your company (incentives). With a newspaper ad, you only have so much space available, so the information you can provide is limited. But with online postings, the sky’s the limit.

Related Reading:
• Entrepreneur.com: Posting Jobs Online, the Right Way


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Optimizing Your Google Search
Marketing Your Website
Online Meetings, The Board Room Alternative
Is Your Business Online Yet?
Internet Search Advertising: Google vs. Yahoo

By Michelle Cramer
Sunday, May 14th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Human Resources |

Learning from Google’s HR Techniques

Fortune Magazine released it’s “100 Best Companies to Work For 2007″ and Google’s Mountain View, California campus was number one. Their employees are exceedingly loyal. “A team of wild horses couldn’t drag me away,” says one employee. They’re even more than willing to work all night without question or complaint.

What would make someone want to enjoy working that much? Check out these college-like incentives:

Continue Reading: “Learning from Google’s HR Techniques”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Determining Your Employee’s Salary
Implementing a Wellness Program
Preventing Employee Theft
Small Business Health Bill to Return to Senate
Protecting Your Clientele

By Michelle Cramer
Friday, May 5th, 2017 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Human Resources |

What Employees Want from You

Keeping your employees happy is one of the key elements to maintaining a successful business. Though it is important, fair and competitive pay is not the only thing that employees look for to remain happy in a position. In fact, it’s only the beginning.

1. Flexibility
Employees want to be able to balance their job and their family responsibilities in a way that benefits both. Providing a flexible work schedule translates into a happier employee. If feasible, provide your employees with the opportunity to set their own hours, as long as the put in a certain amount of time each week. You will find that those employees will be much less likely to let their personal lives interfere with their work.

2. Job Security
Employees in a larger business want to know that they are not expendable. It’s important that you make laying people off an absolute last resort if something goes wrong, and make sure that your employees know that. It’s hard to be committed and loyal to an employer who has no concern about your job.

3. Fair Treatment
Far too many employers believe they must enforce strict rules and discipline in order to obtain the best performance from their employees. Granted, approximately 5% of employees do require a continual kick in the pants to stay on task. But most employees will respond much better to being trusted. Don’t hold it against your employee if he comes back from lunch five minutes late one day. Chances are he’s also the guy that stays a few minutes late without question when you need him.

Also, do everything you can to avoid office politics. Yes, you are their boss, but you also couldn’t run your business efficiently without them. You’ll get a much better performance out of employees if you treat them more like equals rather than subordinates. And don’t allow your seasoned employees to treat new employees like doormats. Your business shouldn’t be a hierarchy, it should be a team.

4. Appreciation
Recognize your employees’ achievements. Provide positive feedback when ever you observe a job well done, even if it something as simple as a successful telephone call. Make an effort to say hello each day and care about your employee. On Monday, ask her how her weekend was, and actually listen to her answer. Not only will this motivate your employee to work harder for you, but it will also open lines of communication and allow your employee to feel like she can come to you if she has a concern.

5. A Pleasant Environment
The spectrum of a pleasant working environment includes everything from sitting next to someone who wears deodorant every day to colorful walls, sunlight and fresh air. This also comes back to the fact that you should take time to talk to your employees each day and acknowledge their existence.

Encourage employees to get along with co-workers by hiring people with positive attitudes and great people skills. Consider providing opportunities for employees to socialize a bit, such as a birthday party over the lunch hour once a month for employees whose birthdays fall that month.

Recognize that employees want to be treated like adults and need more from you than a paycheck. Establish a positive relationship with your employees and watch your business thrive as employees become more devoted and enthusiastic about their jobs.

Sources:
• University of Pennsylvania: Giving Employees What They Want
• About.com: What People Want From Work
• MoreBusiness.com: Flexibility: What Employees Want in a Job


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Inspire Your Employees
Protecting Your Clientele
A New Way for Employees to Get Paid
Independent Contractors
Helping Ensure Your Employees Get Along

By Michelle Cramer
Wednesday, April 12th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Human Resources |

Determining Your Employee’s Salary

If you are hiring an employee for the first time, one of the most difficult tasks ahead of you is figuring out how much to pay him/her. The salary you offer must be fair and competitive, without paying too much for the job at hand.

SET BOUNDARIES
The first step to determining how much you will pay your new employee is to determine the ceiling and floor. The ceiling is the maximum amount you are willing the pay, and the floor is the least amount you should pay.

Decide how much the job is worth to you by asking yourself how much value someone in the available position will bring to your company. Also do some number crunching and determine how much you can afford to pay while still making a profit. For a salesperson, the pay is based on revenue and easy to determine. For administrative staff, you need to ask yourself what the cost would be to your company if there was no one filling the position.

Market rates are the source for determining the minimum you should pay. Candidates expectations are based upon the market, so you need to be aware of what the competition offers. You will first need to have a job description handy. Basing the market on title alone leaves lots of room for negotiation. For example, a marketing director can earn anywhere from $50,000 to $500,000 a year. Break the job down and be specific about the responsibilities it entails.

There are a number of sources available to determine the market value of the job you are offering. Call your local chamber of commerce and ask about similar jobs in the area. Read the local classifieds to see what others seeking employees are offering.

Search Google for “salary surveys” to compare business and trade magazine surveys of jobs nationwide. Or, you can also use websites such as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and/or Salary.com to determine past and current salaries locally.

TYPES OF PAY
There are several ways to pay an employee. Explore all the options based upon the job you are offerings before determining what works best for you. The following are types of pay to offer an employee.

1. Hourly
Hourly pay is typically associated with work product that is a direct result of the time put in, such as assembly line employees. You must meet the minimum wage requirements, which is $5.15 federal, but some state minimum are higher. This is also solely based on eight hour work days for a total of 40 hours a week. Hourly employees typically get time and a half for overtime and working on holidays.

2. Salary
Salaries are a fixed payment amount, usually determined by an annual salary that is divided into 52 weeks a year. Salary is usually associated with administrative positions, such as clerical or managerial jobs. Salaried employees are paid the same each pay period, regardless of sick days or vacation time (as long as it is within the parameters set by the company policy).

3. Commission
Commission pay is most often used in sales positions — a job that contributes directly to revenue. Most salespeople are paid a low base salary and then receive a percentage of the sales they bring into the company. This opens the opportunity for effective salespeople to make six and seven figures a year, which also means they are making 10-20 times that for your business.

4. Bonuses and Benefits
Keep in mind that most every applicant is going to expect some sort of incentive outside of legitimate pay. Consider offering bonuses occasionally as reward for a job well done. You should also look into benefits for your employees. Your first thought is, of course, health insurance and company stocks. But also consider the less obvious benefits such as a set amount of vacation time, paying for the employee to further their education, and even casual dress requirements. All of these make a job much more motivating.

PLAN AHEAD
When determining what the starting pay for your new employee will be, remember to leave room to grow. Everyone expects to and strives for earning a raise. Inflation, when the buying power of your employee’s salary drops while the amount is stagnant, occurs on a yearly basis. Salaries need to adjust to accommodate.

Also, consider the fact that, when and employee first starts he won’t know the ropes very well and will make mistakes, but, as time progresses, he will learn more and become more efficient, thus becoming worth more to your company. He will deserve a reflection of such growth in his paycheck.

Sources:
• Entrepreneur.com: How to Set Salaries
• Microsoft.com: 5 Steps to Determine an Employee’s Salary
• Bliss & Associates, Inc.: Deciding How Much to Pay Employees
• ItsSimple.biz: What Other Employers Are Paying


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Independent Contractors
How and When You Should Pay Yourself
Stronger Business Through Honest Communication
New EEOC Guidelines Expand Employee Protection
Finding the Right Price for Your Product or Service

By Michelle Cramer
Tuesday, April 11th, 2017 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Human Resources |

Hiring an Employee – The Interview Process

If you’re hiring an employee for the first time, the interview process can be just as intimidating for you as it is for those who apply for the job. Here are some tips for smooth and successful interviews.

Get the Word Out
Once you’ve determined exactly what you’re looking for in the person you hire, write out a job description. Be sure to include the work hours, what education and experience is required to fill the position, the characteristics needed to perform the job successfully, and, of course, where resumes should be sent.

It is best to have two job description formats, a brief description for periodical circulations such as your local paper, and a detailed description for online job search engines, such as Careerbuilder.com. Also, check with local colleges and see if they have a career center, as most provide an online job search for students.

Review and Prepare
Set aside time each day to review any resumes you’ve received. It’s a good idea to have the job description in front of you as a reminder of what requirements you presented for the position. Rate each candidate on a scale from one to ten. This will give you a quick reference on whom to call first for an interview.

Also, for those candidates you intend to meet with, jot down any questions you may have about information they indicated on their resume, such as why they were unemployed for two years, or why they want to leave their present position. Additionally, you will want to have a list of basic interview questions that you ask each candidate, to give you a basis of comparison.

Some suggested questions:

• What would be the perfect job for you and why?
• What characteristics in a supervisor motivate you to produce your best work?
• Name and explain your top two strengths and weaknesses.
• Where do you see yourself in five years?
• Describe two instances where your work was criticized and how you responded.

Conducting the Interview
Anyone who walks through your doors for an interview is going to be nervous, regardless of their credentials. Put them at ease by starting with small talk and neutral topics such as what the job entails or how and why you started the business and where you see it heading.

Then move on to questions about the information listed on their resume. Avoid questions with yes or no answers, but, rather, keep the questions open-ended. To avoid rehearsed answers use follow-up questions and keep the candidate thinking on their toes.

Have interviewees bring documentation with them to prove the accuracy of their resume, such as college transcripts or letters of recommendation from previous employers. Not everyone is honest on their resume, in fact, nearly 40% of job applications have some sort of inflated or bogus information, so have then verify it.

During the interview keep your eyes open for the expression of qualities you’re looking for in a potential employee. Is the candidate communicating clearly? Does she express passion for the industry? Pay attention to the nonverbal cues such as their posture and outward appearance. Did he take time to iron his shirt?

You may also want to consider having each candidate take a personality or assessment test as part of the interview process. I highly recommend investing in the Personality Puzzle Test developed by Florence and Marita Littauer specifically for employers and employees. Take it yourself and then provide it to potential candidates to see how well your personalities will click.

Before making any decisions, always call all references listed on the resume and anyone that may have written a letter of recommendation (to verify that he actually wrote it). Also, it’s always a good idea to perform background checks on education, judicial matters, and previous employers. You’d be surprised what some people think they can hide.

Be sure to give the potential employees a time frame for when they can expect to hear from you. They will be anxious, so don’t leave them hanging in the air on whether or not they got the job. Make personal calls or write rejection and offer letters. If it is a rejection, be sure to explain why so that they can see where they might need improvement.

For further information on the requirements for becoming a first time employer, be sure to check out yesterday’s post How to Hire Your First Employee.

Sources:
• Entrepreneur.com: Hiring Your First Employee
• Entrepreneur.com: Interviewing Applicants


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Finding An Employee That Matches Your Leadership Style
Preparing Your Company for its First Employee
Define Organizational Structure & Management – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 3 of 8
SBA Hurting Small Business?
Networking Cards: The Business Card Alternative

By Michelle Cramer
Monday, April 10th, 2017 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Human Resources |

Preparing Your Company for its First Employee

The signs are fairly obvious. Most of your waking moments may be spent running the business, and time is taken from your family and friends. Maybe you’re unable to keep up with demand and are actually having to turn customers away.

More or less, your stress level is beginning to climb rapidly as the papers stack up and nothing seems to get done. It’s time to get some help.

Before looking at prospects, consider these things:

What are you looking for?
Make a list of the things that need to be done for your business to run smoothly. Indicate which of those tasks you must do, which of the tasks you’d prefer to do, and which of the tasks can be delegated elsewhere. The latter is what you need that first employee for.

Think about what kind of manager you are in order to determine the best type of person to fit your style. If you’re the type that delegates and then does your own thing, then you will need someone who can think independently. If you get stressed occasionally, then you may want someone that works well under pressure.

Next, decide exactly how you want the business to grow with the additional help. If you’re looking to take this transition slowly, then you need someone for the clerical and administrative tasks that you just can’t seem to get to, such as filing and mail. If you’re ready to plow full speed ahead, you’ll want to find someone that can handle larger areas such as sales and distribution.

Once you’ve figured out exactly what you’re looking for, write out a job description. This will come in handy when you are coming up with help wanted ads and during the interview process, but it will also serve as a personal reminder of the load that will be taken off your shoulders once the right person is found.

What are the legal prerequisites?
There are several things you will need to do in order to legally be ready to hire someone.

• Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for tax returns.
• Obtain Workers’ Compensation Insurance.
• Register with the Department of Labor for your state.
• Invest in payroll software in order to properly withhold taxes. See the IRS Employer’s Tax Guide for further withholding information.
• Provide a safe working environment based upon the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA).
• Familiarize yourself with IRS Form 940-EZ, which you will need to file each year.

What are the business prerequisites?
In addition to legally preparing for an employee, it’s a good idea to implement additional business practices prior to seeking help.

• Determine what your time-off policy will be, such as vacation time, sick days, maternity leave, etc.
• Set up employee benefits, if feasible, such as health insurance or a 401(k) plan, including a sign-up procedure.
• Determine the disciplinary and review procedures for your business.
• Create an employee handbook, which indicates your business policies, including those items previously listed. Include a signature page for the employee’s indication that he/she read the handbook.
• If you have any information you need to protect from the competition, such as the recipes for your gourmet restaurant or lists of clientele, have an attorney draw up a Non-disclosure Agreement and/or Non-compete Agreement for every future employee to sign.

Hiring an employee can be intimidating, as it will knowingly take up precious time and resources. Make sure that your reservations don’t keep you from waiting too long. Missing the right window of opportunity may force you to hire in a hurry, resulting in the wrong person for your business.

Even if your situation only seems moderately stressful, evaluate your business and whether or not even a part-time employee might make things run more smoothly. At the very least, you will be able to determine when you may need someone in the future and start planning ahead to make the transition easier.

Sources:
• Inc.com: The First Employee
• Nolo.com: Hiring Your First Employee – Ten Things You Must Do
• Microsoft.com: Five tips for Hiring Your First Employee
• AllBusiness.com: Ten Tips on Hiring Your First Employee


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Consider This When Hiring an Intern
How and When You Should Pay Yourself
Finding An Employee That Matches Your Leadership Style
Determining Your Employee’s Salary
New EEOC Guidelines Expand Employee Protection

By Michelle Cramer
Sunday, April 9th, 2017 @ 12:10 AM CDT

Human Resources |

Preventing Employee Theft

Employee theft is more prominent than most business owners realize. The average business loses approximately 6% of revenue to fraud each year, and typically employees are to blame. Nearly one-third of business bankruptcies are due to employee fraud. Chances are at least one of your employees is stealing from you right now.

The first step to preventing employee theft is to know the common avenues, keeping in mind that it is not limited to just these forms.

Forging Receipts — charging extra and pocketing the difference.
Pocketing Loose Change — Employee assumes that a dollar here or there won’t be missed from the petty cash box.
Stealing Supplies — taking a pen or paper clips on a regular basis because they don’t believe it will negatively affect the business.
Stealing Equipment — taking equipment to a job site and then taking it home, often claiming it was misplaced or stolen.
Reimbursement Fraud — claiming they provided items to the company, but never actually doing so. This also includes embellishing on expenses they incur while working, such as mileage.

There are a number of preventative measures you can take in order to sway your employees’ temptation to steal from the company.

Implement Easier Systems
Confusing and complicated accounting or bookkeeping systems, often those done by hand, make it easier for employees to cover their tracks when committing fraud. Small businesses are at greater risk because they typically rely on only one person to handle the accounting responsibilities since the system is so complex.

Avoid this temptation by implementing a simpler accounting system, such as accounting software. Also, consider cross-train people in your company on that system, including yourself, so that there are checks and balances. If more eyes are examining the books, the errors, whether intentional or not, will more easily be found.

Use a “Check-Out” Method
For businesses that have equipment that is used outside the work place, consider requiring you employees check it out. Have them write down the date, their name, the piece of equipment, the job site, etc. When they are through using it, have them check it back in. This will allow for you to hold a particular person responsible for the equipment, should it not be returned to the business.

This system may not work as well unless someone is in charge of it. If possible, you should have them come to you to check equipment out. If your busy schedule does not allow for you to keep track, put one or two people in charge of it that you can count on to be honest.

Eliminate Exit Options
Many businesses that have a night shift see a sharp increase in employee theft during that time. Often it is because the employee has too many unmonitored exiting options. Night shift employees should only have one or two exit locations. Those locations should be equipped with video surveillance or guards to be sure that no one leaves the building with unauthorized company belongings.

Get a History Before Hiring
Before hiring a new employee, obtain both their criminal and credit history. Surprisingly, the credit history is probably the more important of the two. If a potential employee is overwhelmed with debt, then the pressure to steal from your business increases dramatically, often convincing himself that he needs it more than you do.

Implement a Company Theft Policy
This is probably the most effective preventive measure you can take. In the policy, explain the company’s code of ethics. Specify the rules regarding office supplies, company equipment, etc. Be sure to indicate that employees who steal from the company will be prosecuted. Have each current employee, and all new employees upon hire, read and sign the policy to be effective immediately.

Have a Company Meeting
If an employee is discovered stealing from the company, it would be a good idea to call everyone together and let them know what’s going on. Outline how these actions negatively affect the company by providing them with the actual numbers. You’ll be surprised how many employees don’t realize that their unethical actions could destroy your business, and their job.

Implement an Anonymous Reveal Method
Provide a means for loyal employees to anonymously notify you of employee theft within the company. The pressure among co-workers to protect each other is strong, but anonymity will provide an employee with piece of mind on all levels. Employee Theft Anonymous is a great online source for allowing loyal employees to combat the fear of being a tattle-tail.

Don’t allow employee theft to get the best of you by hoping it will just go away without any effort on your part. The longer you let it go unchecked, the bigger the threat to the well-being of your business. And remember, more often then not, it is the veteran employee, who knows your business well enough to find the cracks, that takes advantage of an opportunity. Take action and smother the temptation before it has the chance to surface.

Sources:
• Inc.com: Are Your Staffers Stealing?
• Small Business Association: Common-Sense Measures for Preventing Employee Theft

Related Readings:
•CNN Money:Arresting Employee Theft
• About.com: Employee Theft – The Profit Killer
• Inc.com: Employee Theft Still Costing Business


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Expanding Your Business Overseas: Protecting Your Product
How and When You Should Pay Yourself
Protecting Your Clientele
Competing for Business with a Former Employer
New EEOC Guidelines Expand Employee Protection

By Michelle Cramer
Friday, March 24th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Human Resources |

Inspire Your Employees

Some of the most wealthy people I know got there by having superior people management skills. Every employee that works for you is a potential brainstormer, the one person who may think of the great idea that makes millions.

How can you inspire your employees to innovate?

1) Business owners must set personal egos aside

An employee may keep a great idea to himself if she/he doesn’t like you!

2) Create open brainstorming sessions for employees

Allowing them to give their own input makes them feel as if they truly are a part of the system.

3) Recognize the unique gifts your employees possess

Once you find someone with a unique gift or talent, nurture that talent and capitalize when the time is right.

4) Set parameters

Specify what you’re looking for, and guide your employees. You’ll be amazed at the new concepts they’ll throw at you.

“The direct benefit [of employee innovation] is competitive advantage, but the secondary benefits are greater employee empowerment and satisfaction.”

Source:
Sparking Bright Ideas


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Acknowledging Those Who Make a Difference
What Employees Want from You
A New Way for Employees to Get Paid
Differentiate Your Business With Quality Customer Service
Protecting Your Clientele

By Chris Brunner
Thursday, March 9th, 2017 @ 12:09 AM CDT

Human Resources |

Motivating Employees

I’ve come across an excellent guide from on motivating employees.

This guide is packed full of fantastic ideas to get more and better quality work from your employees by doing more than just offering a raise.

Sections include:
• Corporate Culture
• Morale Boosters
• Recognition
• Non-Cash Incentives
• Motivation by Compensation
• Creating a Fun Workplace

Inc.com – Guide to Motivating Employees


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Hard to Find Employees
Leaders as Strong Public Speakers
Learning From Experienced Entrepreneurs
Managing Business Cash Flow
Leading by Example in a World of Copy Cats

By Chris Brunner
Monday, February 20th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Human Resources, Motivation |

How to Find Good Employees

Finding good employees can make or break a small business.

Better employees mean better production and more success for your company. On the other hand, bad employees end up costing you time and money.

AllBusiness.com offers this list of 8 ways to find good employees:

1) Temporary personnel agencies
2) Employment agencies
3) Headhunters
4) Internal candidates
5) Bounty rewards
6) Your Web site
7) Want ads
8) Job Web sites

Read more: Finding Good Employees

Recommended Reading:

Closing the Deal: How to Get Prospective Employees to Sign On
Hiring and Retaining Good Employees
How to Find the Right Employees for Your Business


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Hiring an Ad Agency for Your Business
Business Tips from Presidential Campaigns
Hard to Find Employees
The Lawsuit Risks of Having a Website
The Business of Dating While Owning a Business

By Chris Brunner
Wednesday, February 8th, 2017 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Human Resources |

How to Fire an Employee

In the words of Donald Trump, “You’re Fired!” As a small business owner with employees there may come a time when you have to terminate someone’s income stream. It’s that dreaded day that some of us hope will never come.

If and when the firing time comes, be prepared by following these 9 steps:

1) Check your past feedback.
What are your relations with this employee? If on decent terms don’t fire immediately, rather, give them time for change under a new way of doing things to your standards.

2) Give them a warning.
Give the employee an ultimatum to change, else risk loosing their job. 30 days is a fair time span for change.

3) Focus on specific behavior goals.
What do you want them to change about their performance? Be prepared for your meeting with the worker to discuss the issues and ways to fix them.

Continue Reading: “How to Fire an Employee”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Independent Contractors
Inspire Your Employees
New EEOC Guidelines Expand Employee Protection
Expanding Your Business Overseas: Labor Laws
Revitalize Your Stagnant Business

By Chris Brunner
Tuesday, December 13th, 2016 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Human Resources |