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.
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 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?
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.
- OSHA poster
- EEO is the Law
- Employee Right for Workers with Disabilities
- Your Rights Under the FMLA
- Your Rights under the Uniformed Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)
- Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA)
Your business is growing! Yay! But wait.....
The growth phase of a small business can be both exciting and scary. It’s exciting because your business is growing. This is awesome! Except that you’re so busy you have to turn down new work and clients. You’re not able to do it all by yourself or with the current team you have. Sure, you could take on more business if you had more help. It seems logical to grow your team so you can grow your business.
You know deep down you need help but you start second guessing if it’s really the right thing to do. You think to yourself…
- How do I find the right person?
- Do I even have time to look for someone and go through the hiring process?
- Will it be easier if I just do it myself than have to hire and train someone?
Relax. Everyone goes through this when their business grows, so how do overcome the fear of hiring?
#1 Keep It Simple
Don’t overcomplicate the process. Put together a few check points in place of how you’re going to tackle taking on a new person and then just do it.
#2 Prepare a Job Description
Write a brief job description and make sure you’re working on it over a period of time so you have a clear understanding of what you want and need this new person to do. It doesn’t have to be a complex description. Bullet points are fine.
#3 Check References
Checking references is critical in making the final decision between candidates. Reference checks can reveal information that not only can help you determine your top choice but also can help you better understand how the new employee might transition in to the new role and your company
#4 Learn to Delegate
Develop your skills so you’re able to delegate. You need to be able to trust this new person so you don’t end up micro managing.
#5 Leverage the Probation Period
Many employers wait until the end of a probation period to assess if they’re ready to take someone on long term. The problem is, by that time it’s too late, use this time to your advantage by being proactive. Schedule regular “check ins” so you can gauge their progression. Again, keep it simple. Keep it short and sweet. Check that they know what they’re supposed to be doing and have an opportunity to ask questions. Create an environment where they’re comfortable asking questions and pay attention to the questions they ask.
By using the probation period to assess your new employee regularly, you’ll be able to tell if it’s going in the right direction for you and for them. Monitor changes in yourself during their probation period as well. Are you able to work better because they take more responsibilities off your hands? Are you still maintaining the same level of service? If the answer is yes, you know you’re in the right direction. It’s also helpful to set goals or targets for this person during their trial period. See how they’re able to adapt and reach these targets throughout their probation, instead of at the end when it’s too late.