DiscplineProbably one of the most difficult situation for manager of a family owned business is when the need arises for you to give a friend or family member negative feedback, put them on a performance plan, or discipline them. So how do we keep things from getting personal?  Here are four tips to help you get though those difficult conversations.

  1. Be honest and timely. You might be tempted to put off this impending responsibility, but putting off the inevitable is just going to cause you more anxiety. It’s better off if you confront this situation honestly and quickly.
  2. Prepare. The best way to make sure that this conversation goes as smoothly as possible is to prepare ahead of time:
  • Review the details: Why exactly are you having this talk? Have you noticed the quality of their work has suffered lately? Have other employees registered complaints? Is this about a specific incident that was reported? Have your facts straight and have several examples ready (if applicable). The more information you have, the easier it will be to keep your dialogue focused on work.
  • Have an objective for your conversation. What is your desired outcome to this conversation? Do you need to get them to sign a Performance Improvement Plan? Do you need to make sure they understand certain feedback? Knowing this ahead of time will help you to keep the meeting on track.
  • Do not tell anyone else, besides your own manager and/or HR about this talk, especially not your mutual friends or family. One way to make this situation worse is discussing it with people that you both know. Imagine how you would feel if you found out that everyone you work with knew about a problem you were having at work and talking about it behind your back? If your friend or family member wants to talk to others about it after your conversation is over, leave that decision up to him or her.
  1. Be direct, professional and empathetic. Remember, not only are they receiving negative feedback or disciplinary action, but they might feel even worse knowing that their friend AND boss is disappointed. Stay on task and be professional. If you start to feel the conversation is getting too personal, remember your objective. Be sympathetic, but don’t let it keep you from accomplishing your goal before ending the conversation.
  2. End the conversation once your objective has been achieved. Don’t drag on the meeting, which is likely to make you both uncomfortable. Resist the urge to apologize to them or nag them about how they are feeling. Let them be in charge of their own next steps.

WC Form

No matter your industry, the following five tips can help keep you and your employees healthy and productive.

1.  Hire Smarter

Hiring qualified, experienced employees can dramatically reduce the number of workers’ compensation claims that are filed. Qualified employees not only know how to properly perform their jobs, but they also know the safety measures to follow to prevent injuries and accidents. That is not to say that these employees won’t have to ever file a claim, but there is a direct correlation between experience/qualifications and workers’ compensation claims.

2.  Clearly define job descriptions

You should make sure that all employees have a thorough understanding of their roles in the company and the responsibilities of their position.

3.  Communicate Frequently and Effectively

Don’t underestimate the power of effective communication. Many occupational injuries and illnesses can be prevented through an established communication system.

Creating written protocol for the different tasks associated with a job can go a long way toward reducing accidents.

4.  Regular Safety & Health Training

Most small-business owners probably include some kind of safety training for their new hires, but safety awareness is something to be cultivated. You should meet with employees regularly to discuss safety – even if you only employ three or four workers. You can also encourage (or require) that employees attend industry safety workshops and classes, which are often held by professional organizations in your field.

Think about your current employees. Can they…

  • Identify the top three occupational hazards in their line of work?
  • Detail how they actively prevent accidents from happening?
  • Explain the proper procedure for handling workplace accidents?

5.  Create Return-to-Work Policies

You’ll want an injured employee to return to work as soon as possible. Accordingly, you should have a written policy in place.

Your policy should have a section discussing transitional work. Transitional work consists of work assignments modified to account for the employee’s injury. For example, if an employee has reduced mobility, you can have them temporarily do computer-based tasks.

Safeguarding your business and its employees from workplace risk is necessary to maintain a secure organization and protect against major bottom-line impacts.

Multitasking

As a business owner, it's normal, and in fact, necessary-to wear many different hats when you're first starting out. But if you want a successful and profitable business in the long run, there comes a time when you need to have HR support. 

1. Employment Law

Employment legislation is constantly evolving and changing, and it is hard to keep up with the requirements. However, it is the role of your HR support to stay up to date so that they can provide credible, practical and compliant advice to your business.  All it takes is one mistake when hiring or terminating an employee, and you could get hit with a lawsuit. If you don’t know employment law, you could be putting yourself, your business and your reputation at risk.

2. Employee Files

Did you know you need to keep not just one but three files on each of your employees? You need to have an I-9 file, a medical file and an employment file for each member of your team. If you don’t fill out and keep these forms, files and information accurately and in the right place, you could face fines. HR professionals will know what files you need to store, when you need to update them, and where they should go.

3. Handbooks and Policies

Do you have an employee handbook? If not, you should. Even if you only have a few employees, you still need a manual or handbook to lay out the rules, regulations and expectations you have for your employees. Handbooks make it easier for employees to know exactly what’s expected of them, but they can also be used in case of employee disputes.

4.  Job Descriptions, Interviewing and Hiring

Many small businesses seem to like the idea of “open ended” job descriptions, but you’re better off telling your employees specifically what you expect of them. You can’t possibly hire the right person if you don’t know the specific job you want them to do.  Where do you advertise your openings?  What interview questions can you ask?  Do you conduct background checks?  Drug screens?  HR can help you sort it out, make great hires, and protect your business.

5.  Performance Management, Documentation, and Termination

Ignoring underperformance and having no written record of it kills your defense that the employee was disciplined, or fired for cause.  Have you ever wondered if you can terminate someone?  If you aren’t certain, or have not documented performance issues, policy violations or disciplinary action, the answer may be “not yet.”

A good HR professional is there to help you, not hinder you.  We don’t want to make your life difficult, but want to see the business succeed and help you avoid the landmines that are out there by virtue of being an employer.

Pot

Don’t let these 5 common payroll mistakes take your pot of gold!

1.  Misclassification:  Employee vs. Independent Contractor

Perhaps the most common audit issue today is misclassifying workers. There’s incentive to treat workers as independent contractors rather than employees because payroll taxes and employee benefit costs are high.

You don’t have the freedom to select the label for the worker; classification depends on whether you have sufficient control over the worker. This essentially means having the right to say when, where, and how the work gets done.

Find information about worker classification from the IRS. When in doubt, consult your tax advisor.

2.  “All our employees are exempt, we pay them a salary”.

Paying someone a weekly salary does not make that employee exempt.

Remember-job titles alone do not determine the exempt or non-exempt status of any employee. Exemptions are determined for each specific employment situation based on the specific job duties performed and compensation received.

3.  Allowing employees to work off the clock.

The U.S. Department of Labor and the courts do not recognize the concept of voluntary overtime without proper overtime pay. Agreements by employees to give up their rights to minimum wage and overtime pay are void and unenforceable.

Employees generally may not volunteer to perform work without the employer having to count the time as hours worked. Examples include:

  • Rework:  When an employee must correct mistakes in his or her work, the time must be treated as hours worked, even when the employee voluntarily does the rework.
  • Waiting for Work:  Time, which an employee is required to be at work or allowed to work for his or her employer, is hours worked. Is the employee “engaged to wait” or “waiting to be engaged?”
  • Place of Work:  Hours worked include all the time during which an employee is required or allowed to perform work for an employer, regardless of where the work is done, whether on the employer's site, at home or at some other location.
  • Working during Lunch:  Lunch breaks aren’t breaks if your employees work during the break.

4.   Deducting money from pay without written authorization.

Other than court-ordered garnishments and deductions that are either required or specifically authorized under laws or regulations, all wage deductions should be authorized by the employee

5.  Loaning money, advancing wages, or paying wages without maintaining clear, written documentation of the transaction.

Banks do not loan or advance money without a signed, written agreement for repayment and neither should an employer. If loans or wage advances are to be repaid via wage deductions, obtain written authorization for the deductions, specifying amounts and intervals, and do not forget to provide for deduction of any remaining balance at the time of a work separation. Never pay wages in cash without getting a signed, written receipt from the employee.

love job

Love is in the air, chocolate, love notes, cards and flowers.  But do your employees love you?  Do they still love their job?

Employees value work/life balance and overall happiness over high salaries and perceived performance success. Taking the following five actions can help to ensure that your employees continue to be content with you and their job.

Conduct Frequent “Stay Interviews”

While exit interviews are often stressed, “stay interviews” can actually help you to spot ways to improve your workplace before employees leave. It’s important that the right questions are asked during these interviews and employees feel safe answering honestly. The best way to conduct “stay interviews” may vary depending on the workplace culture, but options include passing out random surveys periodically, allowing surveys to be submitted online through a service like Survey Monkey, or having non-biased third parties conduct the interviews.  If that isn’t in your budget, your supervisors, managers, or even HR can conduct the informal check ins.

Questions that may help employers to understand employee’s pain points and improve contentment levels include:

  • What do you love about your job?
  • What would your ideal job look like?
  • What do you dislike about your job and how would you change it?
  • How could your managers make your job more enjoyable?

Work/Life Balance

Now more than ever, employees are leaving jobs for other positions that allow better work/life balance-even if those positions offer the same or less pay. Scheduling flexibility, publishing schedules in advance, and allowing employees to work remotely can all help your employees enjoy a better work/life balance.

Offer Benefits and Perks

Businesses may vary in the kind of benefits and perks that they can offer, unlike larger corporations, small businesses can offer more personalized perks. Paid time off, health insurance options, and employee incentive trips are definitely attractive options, but free lunches and snacks, and company outings may also help to show the love.

Display Leadership-and Appreciation

When employees feel that they are doing all of the work while managers sit back and watch, they often become resentful and unengaged. Employees are much more likely to respect managers that lead than managers that dictate. A simple “Great job,” can go a very long way towards helping employees feel valued and appreciated.

Make Advancement and Learning Opportunities Clear and Attainable

While employees often leave jobs because of issues with managers or employers, employees usually won’t stay if they do not love their job-even if they love their manager. For employees to feel fulfilled, it’s important to make sure that advancement opportunities are available and attainable and even if there is no opportunity for promotion, that there are learning opportunities.

Larger corporations have an advantage because they have more positions and paths, but smaller businesses can stress the importance of an individual’s efforts to the growth and development of the business. Even the smallest raises and job title changes can help employees to feel that they are progressing and making a difference.