Why Your Small Business Has the Motivational Edge

March 20, 2013

Are you looking to hire employees this year, wondering how you can keep the employees you do have from heading off for greener pastures, or struggling for ways to keep them motivated?

Sometimes it seems like small businesses are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to hiring, motivation and retention, compared to big corporations that can offer higher salaries, posh benefits plans and luxurious settings. But a recent article by McKinsey (targeted, ironically, at big companies) points out the advantage small businesses have that they may not realize.

McKinsey looked at how business leaders can develop and encourage top performers in their workforce and found that, while both IQ and EQ (emotional intelligence) are important skills for bringing out the best in your team, what truly matters is the “meaning quotient” (MQ) – in other words, offering them the chance to do work that’s meaningful to them. (more…)

Protect Your Business Against Final Pay Issues

January 18, 2013

The end of employment isn’t always the end of your involvement with an employee. If you make any of a number of common mistakes when an employee leaves, or is asked to leave, it could result in liability for your company and, in some instances, liability for you. Final pay, or paying out whatever the now-former employee is owed (while not paying more than is due) can be a minefield.

Below are some of the most common questions about ending employment and answers that will help you protect yourself and your business. Bear in mind that employment law exists at both state and federal levels. Each state has its own statutes and regulations governing at least some, if not all, of the issues in the questions below. It is critical that you understand your state’s requirements. Also note that while employment law is not contract law — not unless there’s an employment agreement — there is this similarity: you can’t arbitrarily change the rules on an employee.

For final pay purposes, does it matter if employment ended voluntarily or involuntarily?

Maybe. In some states, a company’s final pay obligations might differ depending on whether you are reluctantly bidding adieu to a good employee, or gleefully showing a bad one the door. For example, in Connecticut an employer is required to pay a fired employee his or her final paycheck no later than the next business day. (more…)

Managing Millennials: A Crash Course

December 27, 2012

If you are struggling to make the most out of your relationships with Millennial employees, here is a quick guide to turning those born between 1980 and 1992 into some of your biggest fans and assets.

Communicating: Veterans like face-to-face meetings, boomers like phone calls, Generation X prefers email, and Millennials do most of their communicating via cell phone, text messages, and social media. Millenials’ interpersonal skills and presentation skills often need work. But be open to letting them develop relationships through the channels they’re most comfortable with. Their informality can often lead to more frequent contact and faster relationship building.

Recruiting: When you set out to hire younger workers, consider your employer brand. What does your company stand for? What are your values? Young people want to work with those they like and companies they believe in. Also understand that what they learn about your company online—from LinkedIn, your website, or customer reviews on Yelp—will shape their opinions and interests. (more…)

Attract Gen Y Employees with a Great Office Space

December 20, 2012

They’re young, they’re talented, they’re tech-savvy, they’re green. Studies show that by creating an environmentally friendly office, you have a better chance of attracting talented members of Generation Y to your workforce.

According to a MonsterTRAK poll on green employment, 92 percent of young professionals interviewed said they would be more inclined to work for an environmentally-friendly company. The information was confirmed by a Johnson Controls large-scale research project in which more than 3,000 Gen Ys from the United States, the UK, Germany, China, and India were interviewed. Ninety-six percent said they want an “environmentally aware or friendly workplace” and 57 percent said they want their employers to perform well above regulatory compliance.

In short, the younger generations are driven digital innovators, but they want a workplace that is aligned to their core beliefs and is environmentally sensitive. Cubicles with high walls tend to cage their creativity, while flexible and team-focused designed office spaces with fewer barriers allow for the free flow of ideas and information. (more…)

How to Unplug

November 16, 2012

Recently a colleague asked if I’d been on vacation, since I looked so relaxed (which speaks volumes about my usual demeanor, I guess). Laughing, I told him that it was my daughter who had been on vacation — two weeks at summer camp.

We chatted about how, as parents, we seem to have little time to take it easy and enjoy. I joked that I hoped to maintain at least the look of relaxation when my daughter returned. He just smiled and said, “Press save,” and went on his way.

Press Save.

So what does this phrase have to say to you as a manager, parent or not? Plenty! We’re still in the midst of difficult days and it’s easy to forget the fun times when we hit the office. It’s especially important that you take care of yourself now, so that not only can you survive the long haul, but also help your team do so. (more…)

Get Better Sales Performance Through Balance

November 8, 2012

If you have ever managed employees, or more specifically sales professionals, you know how delicate the balance between pushing and pulling for better performance can be. I remember when I was just starting out as a business owner. I thought that everyone I hired should be able to perform at my level. This, of course, was catastrophic when it came to my demeanor when managing my sales team; as a manager I was certainly much more of a stick man than a carrot. So how do you find that balance and what seems to work the best?

Let’s take a few realities of the typical sales professional into consideration. They tend to be hungry for recognition, are used to winning, are frequently gregarious, are horrible with paperwork, and are often less detail oriented than other folks. These general traits create havoc when trying to manage a group of individuals that don’t necessarily respond to the exact same motivation techniques. Some feed on the competition and beating out their neighbor in the next cube, while some only focus on their own wallet and could care less about what the person sitting next to them is doing. (more…)

Managing Political Discussions at Work

November 6, 2012

With a presidential election less than a month away, many voters are exercising their First Amendment right to freedom of speech and expressing their political opinions at work. But how outspoken should employees be in the workplace?

Few, if any, employers want to discourage political expression, yet the reality is that political disagreements often have a way of exceeding polite boundaries and can produce bruised feelings and an uncomfortable atmosphere. An inflamed argument can disrupt work flow, impede productivity and weaken team interactions. In extreme cases, it even can lead to bullying.

Although employers cannot (and should not) legislate what employees discuss, they should consider taking steps to ensure that employees remain civil and calm during discussions and everyone’s views are respected. Below are points of information and suggestions to help maintain a respectful and productive work environment without inhibiting political expression: (more…)

Concentrate on Business, Not Payroll

October 8, 2012

The popular adage that “time is money” is particularly true for small business owners. And handling payroll tax obligations can be quite time-consuming. Consider contracting with a third-party payroll provider to alleviate the burden of handling your employment tax obligations.

Most small business owners find the most value in outsourcing their responsibilities to withhold and pay Social Security, Medicare and income taxes. The outsourcing doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing arrangement—payroll services offer different levels of service. Your decision will likely be based on your time constraints as well as your comfort level.

Ensure a Third-Party Provider Is Up To Snuff

If you decide to go the outsourcing route, take a couple steps to protect yourself: (more…)

Three Important Technical Skills Veterans Can Bring to Your Business

September 7, 2012

The compelling reasons for hiring veterans cover the gamut, from the benefits veterans can bring to your company to the tax credits you might receive if you complete a little paperwork. Employees exuding qualities like leadership, adaptability and working well under stress can help any business achieve greater heights.

Yet considering veterans for those qualities alone is only tapping into a small portion of their potential. Many veterans can enlist in your workforce with technical skills that can be a boost to your business. But, in many instances, you have to dig to discover what technical skills lie under the surface. As you interview and evaluate veteran candidates, see if they possess any of these important skills.

1. Mechanical skills. What the military uses, the military repairs. If you’re an entrepreneur in a mechanical field—or own a business with many mechanical assets, like a warehouse or towing company— see what mechanical skills vet applicants can bring to your shop. Some skills may not be listed because they’re not within the scope of a veteran’s former assignment. (more…)

Capitalizing on Tax Incentives for Hiring Veterans

August 6, 2012

While many entrepreneurs gripe about the tax burden government puts on small business, Uncle Sam does, on occasion, reward small business owners for doing the right thing. And when it comes to hiring veterans, the federal government provides tax incentives that encourage one of the best decisions a small business can make. But, in most cases, you’ll have to act fairly quickly in order to qualify for these tax credits.

The Returning Heroes Tax Credit

Signed into law on November 22, 2011, you only have until January 1, 2013, to qualify for this two-fold tax credit. The Returning Heroes credit is different based upon the length of the veteran’s unemployment.

· Short-term unemployment. If the veteran you hired was unemployed for at least four weeks, your business qualifies for a credit worth 40 percent of the veteran’s first $6,000 in wages (a $2,400 maximum credit).

· Long-term unemployment. If the veteran you hired was unemployed for longer than six months, your business qualifies for a credit worth 40 percent of the veteran’s first $14,000 in wages (a $5,600 maximum). (more…)