As with most new businesses, a new year means new goals for EBR. Setting the goals is easy, but follow through isn't always. How do you successfully grow a business?
The first rule of any successful organization is that you can't do it all yourself. At some point, you will find that you have more tasks than time. This is when you need to consider hiring some help. Depending on your needs, you may want to start with a contractor or a part time employee and deciding what to outsource can be difficult. Start by creating a list of everything you dislike doing or that you are bad at in your business. How does that break down? Do you need to hire a bookkeeper? A marketer? Or maybe just an administrative assistant? Decide where your time is best spent and hire out the rest.
The second rule of success is to be strategic with your time. Need some help strategizing? Did you you know that SCORE offers free mentoring to business owners? You can find your own mentor at www.SCORE.org.
Surround yourself with experts in the areas of business that you are weak in and you are destined to succeed.
The dead time between Christmas and New Year is almost here. You have a lot of choices in ways to spend the time. But I bet a lot of you are going to be spending some of that slow time cleaning out files, throwing out old calendars and generally getting ready for the new year.
As a small business owner, you may be the file clerk and the HR guru as well. In that case cleaning out the files could mean getting rid of old employee files. You know, those folks who were here two weeks and never showed again - or the long time employee who retired in February of last year.
As with everything else in the business world, what records you keep, how long they’re kept and where you keep them is to some extent controlled by the government. The Department of Labor has a handy one page list you can refer to at www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs21.htm giving you one year, two year, and three year requirements. Be sure you keep your records stored in a secure, dry place. Nothing is worse than trying to recreate old files because the originals are now soaking wet and illegible. Also consider keeping electronic files - just make sure they are in a secure location.
Another consideration for when you are working on the personnel files: where are the I-9’s filed and are they correct? You should keep the I-9 and its documentation for each employee in the personnel area, but in a separate file folder. You should keep one folder for current employee I-9's and one folder for previous employee I-9's. Your W-2's should also be kept in a separate folder.
Different organizations need to see different parts of a personnel file, so if your files are being inspected by ICE, they only need to see the I-9 (and usually will only ask for the current employees) and if your files are being inspected by the IRS, they don’t need to see the I-9! The Texas Workforce Commission has a great article about the I-9 and its supporting documentation requirements at: http://www.twc.state.tx.us/news/efte/i_9_requirements_lists.html
If you have any questions about your personnel files, we will be glad to help!
The landscape in the workplace is changing rapidly - especially during the holidays. While a holiday party can sound like a great way to increase employee morale, holiday celebrations can also create issues for an organization. This is even true for small organizations with only a few employees.
Here are some things to consider while planning your holiday get together:
Decorations: what you allow in the workplace is up to you, but they need to be reasonable, non-discriminate, within your policies, and safe. Be careful about refusing to allow employees to display religious symbols and decorations as these are minor accommodations that are generally acceptable and protected by law. Additionally, according to the EEOC, holiday decorations should not be avoided just because someone objects to them, but organizations should ensure that all holiday decoration displays are reasonable and non-disruptive. Invite your employees to decorate an area of the office with ornaments from their faiths and ethnic backgrounds. A friendly display can be a great way to recognize the diversity of religious practices and customs in your workforce.
Holiday Pay: The law does not require you to pay holiday pay, so begin as you mean to go on. If you start out paying for certain holidays, or giving bonuses at holiday time, it becomes an entitlement and employees not only begin to expect the money, but get upset if it is not forthcoming! The Fair Labor Standards Act and the Family Medical Leave Act both address holiday pay for both exempt and non-exempt employees and how overtime pay should be handled. EBR will be glad to help you with this.
Misconduct and Inappropriate Gift-giving/Behavior: Oh, my, what a mare’s nest this can be! Secret Santa - allow it?? Don’t allow it?? Holiday party - cater it? Alcohol? Pot Luck? If you have a company sponsored holiday party keep these things in mind:
Rethinking the party? It is becoming increasingly popular to turn the party time and money into an opportunity to give back to the community in some way. Instead of having a party, plan events that will make your employees feel good. Collect canned foods for your local food pantry. Donate money to a local charity in your company's name. Contact a local social service agency for information about a needy family, then collect and buy gifts for the family's children. Change the emphasis from holiday giving by scheduling your event when there are no holidays; the need for food drives, helping needy families or even raising funds for pet rescue is year-round.
Small business owners don't have many employees and often those employees can become more like family members or close friends.
What happens when one of those employees no longer performs as you expect?
As a business owner who expects the business to profit and grow, your responsibility is clear. Employees whose performance has slipped - or never reaches the standard you need - must be counseled and coached until they come up to standard, or, they need to move on.
Keep in mind that unless you only have one employee - your other employees will see how you handle poor performance and will respond accordingly. So, if you ignore it, hoping it will go away, it will multiply.
Here are steps you can follow to handle poor performance:
Your goal is to build on their ability and help them grow into your best employee.
As a small business owner, creating policy can often sound overwhelming. With only a few well chosen employees, policies can seem unnecessary; however, well written policies are the key to consistency and success.
Ensures everybody is on the same page. Policies help employees understand your expectations, and ensure that everybody is being held to the same expectations.
Solidifies company culture. While it is tempting to allow employees freedom to make their own decisions, an employee policy manual establishes guidelines that will enhance productivity and create a feeling of stability.
Allows managers to consistently enforce your wishes and can serve as an internal control method so that managers cannot take free license to make unilateral decisions
Policies you should include: Time Off, Attendance, Dress, Social Media, Cyber Security, and Overtime. Depending on your company's size and product, there are others that could be included such as Payroll Advance, Sick Leave, Work Place Visitor, Pets in the Workplace, etc. (resources.workable.com has a great list of sample templates)
Some policies are required based on legal responsibility, the Equal Employment Opportunity Act and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act are good examples. They spell out penalties to employers who do not establish and enforce violations of fair employment practices or sexual harassment
Who owns the policies and procedures manual in your company? As a small business owner, it is probably you.
Some questions to ask:
What do you remember about the first time you were hired to do a job?
· When is payday?
· Do you get paid holidays?
· Will you be paid overtime wages?
· What are the company’s rules regarding attendance?
· Are there any benefits and will you be eligible for them?
If you remembered to ask all these questions and can remember the answers, you are not the average new employee!
When you were first hired, were you made aware of the company’s expectations regarding your behavior toward the customer and your fellow employees?
Did the person hiring you explain the company’s vision, where they want to be in 5 years,10? Odds are that if you were not given an employee handbook at that hiring meeting, you didn’t remember the answers to the previous questions (except about payday!) And even better odds are that you then went to a more experienced employee for the answers rather than a manager.
Even if you currently have only one employee, that employee should have an employee handbook. These handbooks are not required to be multi-paged, printed in 4 color and bound. They can be one page– as long as they are written in a clear understandable manner and reflect the culture of your business.
An effective employee manual both protects your company from litigation and puts staff members at ease by spelling out in positive terms the company’s policies. Your employee handbook should state that it does not constitute an employment contract, and you always need to have it vetted by your lawyer. For guidelines regarding employee handbooks, a good source is the Small Business Association. www.sba.gov
The basic rule of Texas employment law is employment at will, which applies to all phases of the employment relationship - it means that absent a statute or an express agreement (such as an employment contract) to the contrary, either party in an employment relationship may modify any of the terms or conditions of employment, or terminate the relationship altogether, for any reason, or no particular reason at all, with or without advance notice.
Sounds like an employee can be fired at any time, doesn’t it?
Then we have the exceptions:
This means the same thing to an employee and to an employer. Yes, you can be terminated or terminate at any time. But in the real world, that’s not quite true.
As an employee, you have standards to meet, as an employer, you are required to set the standard, continue to assure that the standards are being met and that the employee has the training and equipment to meet those standards.
As an employee, if you feel you do not have the training or the equipment to safely and correctly do your job in a timely manner, your responsibility is to communicate this with your employer. And document your communication.
As an employer, if your employee is not doing their job correctly, safely and in a timely manner, your responsibility is to communicate this with your employee. And document your communication.
There will always be employers who fail in their task as employer, there will always be employees who fail in their task as an employee. Most don’t enter into a relationship with bad intent. This is when laws and their accompanying exceptions come in to play.
Be aware of your rights and responsibilities as an employee and as an employer, and document your communication. For more information on at will employment, go to www.twc.state.tx.us
~ DD Haines ~
In 2016, the average organization experienced 19% turnover with an average cost per hire of $4,129 according to SHRM. Another study shows that 47% of small businesses struggle to find good candidates.
In 2011, companies spent over $ 45 Billion on recruitment, and yet 46% of new hires still left after their first year.
Employee retention is a common issue these days and according to the data, it isn’t getting any better. Job satisfaction encompasses more factors than good pay as far as today’s employees are concerned.
The six professional motivators are:
These motivators are not in any particular order, but you might want to try ranking them for yourself and see what comes first for your business. Across the country acknowledgement and fun are becoming increasingly important to today’s workers.
Looking at your company’s retention plan regularly and addressing each of these motivators is critical. Need help getting started? We are here to help.
~ DD Haines