Linda Jenkins, April 02 2017
Low employee morale can be one of the most detrimental threats to a company. As a small business owner, you want to make sure your employees are motivated, optimistic, and confident. Below are a few simple steps that you can take to ensure a progressive, efficient, positive workplace.
Celebrate accomplishments. When employees feel like their work is not appreciated or recognized, morale tends to plummet. Although it's natural to focus on what's ahead rather than on the past, taking the time to show employees how grateful you are for their hard work and accomplishments is a great first step towards boosting morale. By creating an environment in which people realize the value of their work, you are showing your employees how truly important they are to the overall success of your company.
Let your employees be heard. When your employees know their voices are respected and heard, morale begins to soar. By taking time to ask your employees for their thoughts and opinions on company projects or goals, you are showing them that they matter and that their opinions matter. Having a weekly team meeting or a brief gathering every morning are simple ways to ensure that your employees feel like part of the "bigger picture."
Don't forget to have fun. Work and fun don't necessarily have to be mutually exclusive. Many companies use quarterly incentives and rewards to spice up the daily routine and keep employees motivated towards reaching goals. Team building activities, such as a monthly bowling night or potluck, can also be helpful in promoting a family atmosphere. It sounds simple, but a few minutes away from the desk and some laughter can have a huge impact on the overall atmosphere of your company.
Show your employees you care. Being involved in your employee's lives is a huge factor in boosting morale. When they see that they are appreciated as human beings rather than simply as employees, they feel valued and their confidence is boosted. Recognizing employees' birthdays is a simple way to show them that you care.
Promote from within. It's vital for employees to see that there's room to advance within your company. With this knowledge, employees are more motivated, passionate, and driven. While it's not possible 100 percent of the time, it's a good idea to look to your existing employees first before hiring someone from the outside. This establishes a sense of amiability and unity and can improve employee retention rates.
Carry a positive attitude yourself. Although this may seem obvious, many do not realize the tremendous impact that your own energy has on employee morale. Positive attitudes are contagious (as are negative ones). Walk with a smile on your face, greet your employees when they arrive, and offer words of encouragement and optimism. Be sincere, approachable, and affirmative.
While boosting morale may take some time and patience, it is an attainable goal. Running a business can definitely be challenging at times, but everything runs more smoothly when employees are motivated, engaged, valued, and happy. The small steps above can go far toward creating a work environment that radiates positive energy.
For more tips on improving your workplace, view our must-read list.
Linda Jenkins, September 26 2015
Employees who are difficult to manage, perhaps because they are lazy or demonstrate an "attitude," are a source of frustration for many business owners. Such employees often take up much of an employer's valuable time and can be emotionally draining. Here are five tips for dealing with difficult employees.
Listen to your employees
It may be that on occasion an employee has a reason for being difficult. This is why it is important to listen carefully to their grievance, whatever it may be. The best way for an employer to resolve a difficult situation is to understand it fully, and this includes seeing the problem from your employee's point of view. Sometimes a difficult employee just needs to be heard. By listening, you may find the problem resolves itself, or you may expose a deeper issue that needs to be dealt with. Whatever the outcome, it can do no harm to simply listen.
A common complaint among employees is that their boss only tells them when they do something wrong, choosing to ignore all of the things they do right. If you remember to offer praise when it is deserved, your difficult employee may turn into one who feels appreciated. Sometimes an employee might be difficult because they have an insufficient understanding of the job they are expected to do. If this appears to be the case, provide clear instructions on what is to be done and how it can be achieved. If you need to be critical of work your difficult employee has carried out, do not deliver the criticism harshly, as this will cause ill-feeling; instead, sandwich your criticism between praise.
Keep some things to yourself
An employee's difficult behavior may cause you to feel resentful or angry, but you would be better served if you never allow your work colleagues and staff to see you display such negativity. Bad-mouthing a member of staff has its own consequences, as it suggests to other employees that you don't respect those who work for you and that they could suffer similar treatment at your hands. This does not engender the employee loyalty you would hope for, so never disparage your difficult employee or lose your temper in front of them or others.
Get it in writing
If, after listening and providing constructive feedback, your employee is still being difficult, it should become clear that the problem is unlikely to be with you or your company. Some people are simply difficult by nature. However, laws protect employees from being summarily dismissed, so you need to make a record of the problems you are having. Keep track of all key incidents, noting the date, the nature of the problem, how it was handled, and the names of witnesses, if any. Documenting incidents can be as simple as emailing a summary of your meeting notes to appropriate persons.
Let there be consequences
An employee who consistently gets away with bad behavior has little incentive to change. This is why you should make it clear there will be consequences to the way they act. Your company should already exercise a disciplinary procedure, such as sending a misbehaving employee three written warnings. Legally, this gives you the right to terminate their employment if their bad behavior continues after their final warning. However, if you do not want to be forced to fire someone, you have to institute other forms of behavioral control. This could include eliminating any chance of promotion or salary increase. Whatever form the consequences will take, be straightforward with the employee so they know exactly where they stand, and make sure all of your employees are aware of your workplace policies.
A difficult employee can have a polluting effect in a company, spreading their dissatisfaction and unhappiness to other staff and affecting the success of the business. By following these five tips to become a good manager who can handle difficult employees, you can ensure the smooth running of your business.
Learn how to retain the best employees.
Linda Jenkins, August 28 2015
Online vs. In-House Processing
Payroll processing can range from complicated to simple; the number of employees and the type of system you use are the main determining factors. If you’re paying workers for the first time, you must perform specific tasks to ensure they are paid appropriately and that your payroll tax obligations are fully met. Here are some key considerations when deciding whether to process payroll in-house or use an online payroll service:
Processing Payroll In-House
1. Perform the necessary legal tasks prior to hiring employees. In the US, this includes obtaining a federal employer identification number from the IRS, registering with the state/local revenue agency and the state labor division, obtaining worker’s compensation if applicable, and posting compliance posters that the federal and most state governments require.
2. Give all new hires a W-4 form and the applicable state and local tax withholding forms to complete. The Internal Revenue Service requires you to withhold federal income tax from all employees’ paychecks, unless an exemption applies. Most states require state income tax withholding and some local governments require local income tax withholding. The W-4 and state and local tax forms that employees complete helps you to figure out the amount of income tax to withhold from their paychecks.
3. Establish a regular payday, such as weekly, biweekly, semimonthly or monthly. Most states have minimum payday laws, which require employers to pay employees by a certain time; check with your state labor department for minimum paydays that apply to you. You may pay employees more frequently than the required time frame, but not less. If the state does not have minimum payday laws, federal law applies.
4. Invest in software if you are processing in-house. Payroll-processing tasks may include paying hourly and salaried workers, and calculating voluntary and involuntary deductions, such as payroll taxes, wage garnishments, and health and retirement benefits. This is often a time-consuming process, which is prone to errors if done manually; software greatly reduces this risk, but still requires vigilance to avoid steep tax penalties from the IRS and/or the state revenue agency. Choose a software package that matches the size of your payroll and has accounting features for W-2 purposes. Examples include Xero, Paysoft, and ZPAY.
Using an Online Payroll Service
This is by far the most efficient and cost-effective solution for your business. You can avoid the hassle of keeping up with ever-changing regulations, adhering to unforgiving tax reporting schedules and dealing with complicated software simply by outsourcing the entire task to an online payroll service...
Over 500,000 businesses trust Paychex for payroll services, HR, and benefits outsourcing, making them one of the top payroll providers and 401(k) record keepers in the nation:
To Get This Offer Call Paychex Now: 800-379-3147
If you choose to outsource your payroll, designate an onsite person that will be responsible for ensuring that all employees hours are reported accurately and on-time.
Working with a payroll provider can save you time and money and free you from calculating payroll, distributing checks, managing retirement plans, preparing and remitting payroll taxes. Paychex can also help you choose the right workers compensation policy for your business, as well as offer effective ways to manage it.
Working with a provider such as Paychex can also help fulfill industry-specific needs, such as in the case of restaurant and construction payroll, allow you to easily add to your workforce, avoid steep tax penalties and mail out special forms like 1099s. Gold Alliance Group is an authorized affiliate of Paychex.
Improve your knowledge of payroll requirements...
Consult with a Certified Public Accountant for instructions on withholding, paying and reporting federal payroll taxes.
Familiarize yourself with US Employment Laws.
Check with your state revenue agency for guidance on withholding, paying and reporting state income tax. The agency can also advise you on other state requirements and tell you what department to contact for further guidance, such as state unemployment tax, disability insurance and local income tax.
Contact Paychex for help with setting up a new payroll.
Consult with the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, and the state labor department for wage and hour information, such as minimum wage, overtime, child labor, record-keeping and break policies.
Compensate employees via a payment method that is acceptable by law. Most states are specific about acceptable forms of wage payment, such as check or direct deposit. Check with the state labor department for pay stub rules that may also apply.
Linda Jenkins, October 30 2014
No employer likes dealing with high employee turnover rates and it's not hard to understand why. When you're constantly focused on finding, hiring, training and managing new employees, it's next to impossible to keep your business growing the way that it should be. Valuable resources (including precious time) are going to waste as well.
However, many CEOs are reluctant to consider the possibility that their leadership style or expectations may be at the root of the problem. The following are some of the most common reasons modern employers experience high employee turnover. Do any of them apply to you or your company?
Workloads That Aren't Reasonable
While it only stands to reason that employees need to be willing to go the extra mile every so often, every employer needs to make sure they're not giving employees more work to do than they can realistically handle. Occasional overtime requests are fine. Making that the rule as opposed to the exception is not.
Make sure that projects are organized to be as streamlined as possible to ensure maximum efficiency as far as how they get done. Avoid heaping massive amounts of work on a couple of star employees because you're sure they can “handle it”. Instead, find contract workers to help out with increasing demands for manpower.
Pay That Isn't Up to Par
At the end of the day, employees need to be compensated for their work in a way that is in line with what they do for you and they will go elsewhere if they don't get it. Make sure that your company is offering starting wages that are competitive in regards to your industry. You should be giving regular pay raises that are in line with the current industry standard as well. You can use Salary.com to check the median pay for most job titles in your area.
If your company truly is on such a tight budget that higher pay and reasonable raises aren't possible at this juncture, look for other ways you can compensate your workforce for their hard work. Employees also need and appreciate flexible schedules, awards, gift certificates, and bonuses. These concerns become even more important if you require your employees to put in long hours or tackle super-sized workloads on a regular basis.
You'll also want to make sure that your Manager isn't to blame for high employee turnover, especially if your company has an issue with people bailing on the company before they even complete training. Managers need to be personable, as well as competent when it comes to properly training new hires. Poor management quickly leads to unprepared, frustrated employees that prematurely decide a position isn't for them.
Take a more active role in assessing the management style of your company's supervisors. Make sure they're adequately preparing new employees for their jobs, treating staff with dignity and offering them enough support, especially early on in the working relationship. (And yes... after you have done all that, take a good hard look in the mirror since YOU could be the root cause).
Too Much Stress in General
Although some stress will come with the territory, it's important to make sure your employees aren't actually spending their days in a hostile or overly stressful work environment. People need stability in order to be their best and do consistently good work. Focus on setting up a structure and a status quo within your company that your employees can rely on and plan their days around. Making sure that your company has an Employee Handbook (and distributes one to each new hire) is a good start in that direction.
It's also important to keep an eye out for "rotten eggs" on your staff as well. Even one bad employee with an attitude problem can turn an entire office into a place no one wants to be. Instead, get active about cultivating a "team player" environment that finds everyone working together for the common good.
At the end of the day, ensuring that your employees are content with their position in your company is far from rocket science. However, it does require some diligence, consideration, and perspective on your part. Start looking for ways you can facilitate positive change in your company today!
Linda Jenkins, June 09 2014
Small companies encounter plenty of obstacles, and securing top talent is one of them.
After all, they're unlikely to have the same kind of resources as medium-to-large businesses that can throw a lot of money at anyone they really want on the team.
That doesn't mean small businesses are out of the running when it comes to hiring the best and the brightest. Far from it.
Actually, in some ways, a small business can offer the ideal environment for high performing employees. Read on to learn how small businesses can attract and retain top talent, even if they don't have deep pockets like larger companies.
Offer a flexible schedule
. The Monday-Thursday workweek is definitely a sought-after perk. While some large companies can pull this off, small companies are more likely able to offer employees a lot of flexibility with their work schedule because, since everyone knows each other, it's much harder for one person to get lost in the shuffle of day-to-day operations. Sure, it's not possible for all positions to be granted this perk, but for those which it could apply, consider it. High-performing employees are likely to be empowered by the level of freedom afforded to them.
Allow employees to work from home. Another great perk that small companies can provide is the option to work from home. Whether it's granted as an option everyday or something employees can do once or twice a week, offering the employees a chance to work from home lets your team take a break from the stress of commuting.
Offer learning opportunities. All too often, larger organizations pigeonhole their staff into a particular role and, once a person is up to speed, skimp on training. High-performing individuals are less likely to be thrilled with this setup. Entice top talent with constant learning opportunities and chances to take what they have learned and apply them to the business.
Have performance-based compensation perks. Base pay for top talent should be as robust as your budget allows, but often it still won't compete with salaries doled out by huge companies in your field. This is where performance-based bonuses and profit sharing can enter into the picture. These forms of compensation can be enticing to top performers - after all, their hard work will translate into tangible rewards. For company owners, these methods can be equally as enticing because it means compensation is up when business is good, and manageable when times are lean.
Extend a vision for future growth. Some employees like the idea of helping build a company, an experience they can't get at an industry behemoth that has been around for a century or more. If your top talent shares this view, it can be valuable to articulate your vision for the future and, during growth stages, bring these key players into the loop so their vision helps shape the company's future, too.
Provide solid mentorship
. Top talent are often keen to learn new things and not all things can be learned in formal training arrangements. Having a solid mentor from whom they can learn the ropes is invaluable. While all companies can and should extend mentorship opportunities, sometimes this important element falls through the cracks. Be sure to make it a priority.
Small companies may often have less to spend on salaries, but that doesn't mean they have to give up on top talent. While money is certainly an important factor in the hiring picture, attracting and retaining the best and the brightest can be about much more than money and, fortunately for small businesses, they're uniquely suited to offer these non-monetary incentives.
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Linda Jenkins, April 05 2014
Your business has grown and you've made the decision to find people to help you manage things. What now? Every business owner should follow this basic hiring process:
Once you do decide to hire an employee, you will first need an Employer Identification Number, assuming that you do business in the United States. You can reserve your EIN from the IRS by calling toll-free 1-800-829-4933. You must also obtain workers' compensation insurance coverage.
Prepare a job description. This document contains a brief description of your company, the duties of the job, the job type - part vs. full-time, required qualifications & certifications, compensation range, application deadline, and required checks (such as drug, credit, criminal and/or reference checks.) Select & post the job description to several advertising sources (such as Careerbuilder, Indeed, local papers, professional organizations, etc.)
Review the applicant resumes. (Refer back to the job description to ensure that the resumes you tag for future contact match up with the qualifications you specified).
- Select the top five candidates for screening via phone.
- Complete phone interviews.
- Select the top three candidates for in-person interviews.
- Complete in-person interviews.
- Have these candidates complete a job application form.
- Select the top candidate for background checks and/or drug testing.
- Complete required checks.
- Extend a verbal & written offer to the top candidate.
Once the top candidate accepts, notify the other candidates that the position has been filled. Retain candidate resumes for future job openings. If you expect frequent hiring, consider purchasing an Applicant Tracking System to make organizing and retaining information on your company's hiring efforts as easy as possible.
You must have your employee complete and sign Form I-9 (from the Immigration and Naturalization Service) and retain that information in the employee's file.
Every new hire must complete a Form W-4 so that you can withhold the proper amount of income tax from each paycheck. You must also withhold Medicare and Social Security. It's important to remember, however, that you are just holding this money, and you must file IRS Form 941 (Employer's Quarterly Tax Return) and pay these taxes quarterly, so don't withhold this money and then spend it later! You will also have to match FICA (Medicare and Social Security). Managing these processes can be made easier by using a payroll services provider.
Retain an official file on each employee that contains: The job description. The employee's resume. The completed job application form. Results of checks. Terms of the official offer. The signed acceptance letter. The signed I-9 & copies of accompanying documents. The signed W-4. Results of completed performance reviews.
Also, make sure you create and distribute an Employee Handbook to all new hires. This is an important document that educates your employees on your company's policies and procedures, and should describe your obligations as an employer, and your employees' rights. In fact, this is the first document your attorney will refer to should your business ever be involved in an employment dispute, so be sure to include the Employee Handbook as a key part of your hiring process.
Invest in training. Offer bonuses or incentives for good performance. Complete yearly performance reviews so the employee knows where she/he stands. Learn what types of incentives small businesses can offer to attract talent.
Is it possible to attract and hire the right people for the right job the first time?
Yes,it is! AND it is a matter of:
-Understanding the position requirements
-Attracting the right candidates and
-Discerning the right fit
It may sound simple, but it never seems quite easy. Most interview processes fail because business professionals:
Do not understand the key elements to adequately prepare for an interview
Have inconsistent execution
Often ask irrelevant questions
Believe interviews are just a gut feel or a formality
Have a haphazard or non-existent onboarding process once the offer is made setting the employee up for failure before they even step foot into the organization
Hire with Confidence
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Whether you’re hiring your first employee, have interviewed but were never trained, or need to sharpen your skills, this 2-part webinar-based online course is for you. This course is great for solo-CEOs, small business owners, consultants, chiropractors, franchisors, franchisees, non-profits, associations, and any other business professional who needs to hire someone.
(Course content for US-based businesses only).
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Also read: Employment Laws All Entrepreneurs Should Know