/Managing People

What Can Employers Not Discriminate Against?

As a business owner, it’s exciting to hire employees and watch your company grow. But there are legal risks if you give job candidates and employees reason to believe your staffing decisions and policies are discriminatory.

The first step in avoiding a job discrimination lawsuit is to have a basic understanding of what you can’t discriminate against and the nature of the laws that prohibit employment discrimination.

You need to comply with all applicable federal and state (even some local) laws that protect people from job discrimination. So, in your employment ads, job applications, job interviews, background checks, social media account reviews, employment policies and anything else you do in your efforts to hire and maintain your workforce, you need to follow the rules. State laws vary, so make sure you do your research to find out which apply to you. Passed by Congress, signed by the President, and enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), federal anti-discrimination laws prohibit various types of discrimination and affect employers everywhere in the United States.

Here’s a rundown of what you can’t discriminate against and the federal laws that protect individuals:

Race/color, national origin, religion, sex, and pregnancy Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prevents employers from denying employment based on the race, color, sex, religion, and national origin. It prohibits job discrimination against women because of pregnancy, childbirth, or any related medical conditions. In addition, it makes unwelcome sexual advances and other verbal and physical harassment of a sexual nature illegal. The law also makes it unlawful to not offer equal pay and benefits based on sex, race, religion, sex, and national origin. Something else you should keep in mind is that employment policies or practices that apply to everyone might be considered illegal if they negatively affect the employment of people within the protected classes under Title VII.

AgeThe Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 protects individuals age 40 and older from being treated unfavorably based on age during hiring and employment by employers. It applies only to businesses with 20 or more employees, but some states have laws that apply to companies with far fewer employees.

DisabilityThe Americans with Disabilities Act protects qualified individuals with disabilities from being unfavorably treated in the workplace (including with regard to pay or benefits) and during the hiring process as a result of their disabilities. Discrimination protection also applies to applicants and employees who have a history of a disability (such as cancer that’s in remission) or because they may have a physical or mental impairment.

Genetic InformationTitle II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) prohibits discrimination against applicants and employees because of genetic information. It restricts employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, and certain other entities from asking for, demanding, buying, or disclosing individuals’ genetic information.

Standing Up Against Discrimination – Under all the laws that the EEO enforces, job applicants and employees are protected from discrimination and harassment as a result of them asserting their rights not to be treated unfavorably. Federal laws make it illegal to retaliate against job candidates and employees who take certain measures to protect themselves and others (for example: file a complaint, charge, investigation, or lawsuit; resist sexual advances or protect others from being sexually harassed; talk with a manager about discrimination or harassment, etc.).

Know The Rules And Follow Them

Besides knowing the laws and what they’re created to protect against, I suggest seeking the guidance of a trusted legal and/or human resources professional to ensure your employment practices comply. From making sure your job application doesn’t cross any lines to knowing the job interview questions that are illegal to setting salaries and benefit packages, you’ll find plenty of gray areas that may need specialized expertise. Having the peace of mind that your hiring practices are compliant with anti-discrimination laws is well-worth putting in a little extra time and attention when staffing your business.

Can An Employer Ask About Your Age?

If a job candidate is googling this question after a job interview at your company, you may be headed for trouble.

At both the federal and state level, anti-discrimination laws exist to prevent businesses from hiring or not hiring based on personal characteristics that are not relevant to an individual’s ability to do the job. Age is one of them. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects people who are age 40 and older from being treated unfavorably because of their age during the hiring process—and when employed. In 2016, 20,857 age discrimination charges were filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the government agency that enforces ADEA.

For private businesses, the ADEA only applies to those with 20 or more employees, but why put your business at risk? If you intend to grow your business, doesn’t it make sense to establish policies and procedures now to help ensure you don’t become a statistic and possibly face a costly lawsuit?

You need to pay attention to every aspect of employment:

  • Hiring
  • Firing
  • Compensation
  • Work assignments and responsibilities
  • Opportunities for career advancement
  • Training
  • Fringe benefits
  • Layoffs
  • Firing

Any other terms or conditions of employment are also subject to age-related discrimination scrutiny.

While the ADEA doesn’t protect younger individuals from discrimination in the workplace, some state laws do. So, you could put yourself in a tricky situation if you in any way let the age of job applicants or employees affect how you treat people. Also, just because your business falls below the 20-employee minimum for ADEA to apply to you, you might be subject to your state’s age-related anti-discrimination laws. For example, individuals in Arkansas can file a claim against employers with a minimum of 9 employees under state law. And in Colorado, all employers, regardless of number of employees, must comply with the state’s anti-discrimination laws.

What can you do to help keep your business from violating the laws protecting against age discrimination?

Below are a few tips that can help:

  • In your employment ads, avoid language that could land you in trouble. (For example, “Looking for a young, energetic professional…”) Generally, ADEA deems it unlawful to mention age limitations, preferences, and outright specifications in job advertisements.
  • Be cautious when asking an applicant to disclose her age or date of birth. While it’s not explicitly prohibited, that type of inquiry will be closely scrutinized to ensure it wasn’t asked in an effort to deter older workers from applying for a position or otherwise discriminate against them based on age. According to the EEOC, “If the information is needed for a lawful purpose, it can be obtained after the employee is hired.”
  • Don’t establish company-wide policies or practices if they will adversely affect applicants or employees who are age 40 or older. [Note that liability might not apply if a policy or practice’s impact is due to a reasonable factor other than age (RFOA)].
  • Make sure your business’s managers and employees understand that age-related harassment is illegal when frequent or severe enough to cause a hostile work environment.

Realize we’ve merely glazed over the tip of the iceberg with the considerations above, so I encourage you to consult with a human resource professional and/or attorney for guidance and feedback on your hiring and employment efforts.

While avoiding a job discrimination lawsuit shouldn’t be a concern that keeps you up at night, it is something you need to be vigilant about through having sound standards, procedures, and staff training in place. I know you’ve worked hard to bring your business this far; don’t let sloppy employment practices stand in the way of your success.

Best Practices For Interviewing Job Candidates

Hiring the right people requires a sure-fire interviewing process. To effectively interview prospective employees, you need more than a little dedicated time and a list of questions; you need an understanding of how you can draw out the information you need about an individual’s knowledge and capabilities. You also need to tune into character nuances that might indicate how well a candidate will work with your team. And, of course, you need to do all of that without breaking any anti-discrimination laws.

Interviewing can be intimidating for not only prospective employees, but also for employers! By following some best practices for interviewing applicants, you can better ensure your interview process does the job well, allowing you to home in on that one individual who will be an exceptional fit for the position.

Get The Job Done Right: 6 Best Practices For Interviewing Job Candidates

  • Prepare.

Whether you alone will interview the job candidate or you decide to have multiple interviewers, everyone involved should prepare in advance.

Interviewers should know what experience, capabilities, and professional characteristics are critical to the job (it helps to rank them in order of most important to least important), so everyone is on the same page when assessing job candidates. Also, each interviewer needs to understand her role in the interview and have questions prepared that will draw out relevant information about the job candidate’s knowledge, skills, and experience. To do this, you all need to be intimately familiar with the job position’s requirements and the information a job candidate provided thus far (job application, resume, phone interview, etc.) that has awarded her an in-person interview.

  • Make It As Less Stressful As Possible.

To get things off to the best start, be on time. Making an on-time candidate wait around for you and other interviewers to finish up phone calls or run for coffee at the last minute will send the wrong impression and add to any nervousness she’s already feeling. Begin the interview on a friendly note with some casual small talk to make the job candidate feel comfortable and at ease. When excessively nervous, even an individual who is fully capable and competent will lose the ability to put her best foot forward in an interview. I would never want to count anyone out simply because of interview jitters. I’ve always found that breaking the ice with some light-hearted, easy-going conversation helps everyone relax and sets the stage for a productive exchange of information.

Also, set aside enough time for the interview so you aren’t rushing through it. If you’re constantly checking the clock, you won’t be concentrating as fully as you should be on the interview. Your applicant will sense that and may not answer questions in adequate detail because she doesn’t want to impose on your time.

  • Comply With The Law 

Federal and state anti-discrimination laws exist to protect applicants from biases of age, sex, race, color, national origin, religion, genetics, or disabilities. Everyone involved in the interviewing and hiring process should understand which job interview questions are acceptable to ask and the job interview questions that are illegal. Use questions that are focused on drawing out information about your interviewee’s skills, knowledge, and experience relevant to the job. That will help you avoid inquiring about personal situations and lifestyle preferences, which could raise suspicions of discrimination if a candidate isn’t hired.

  • Ask Questions That Allow The Job Candidate To Do The Talking.

The best way to learn more about a prospective employee’s capabilities, attitude, and professional style is to let her have the floor. Consider asking open-ended questions that solicit a more detailed answer than just “yes” or “no.” Also consider including questions that ask applicants to share about some past on-the-job experiences and hypothetical situations. These can help shed light on how well a candidate might deal with certain circumstances and challenges on the job.

Some examples of questions that might draw out meaningful responses include:

  • What interests you most about working for our company?
  • What did you like most about your most recent position with your former employer?
  • Describe a time when you had to share unwelcome but necessary news with a customer.
  • Tell us about when your presentation skills helped change someone’s preconceived ideas about something. How did you prepare for the challenge?
  • Suppose you were recently hired as a manager at a local restaurant. Every week, a certain customer comes in for lunch. And every week, that customer asks to talk to you to complain about the wait time, the server, or the food. How would you deal with this customer?

These types of open questions can help you gauge a job candidate’s communication abilities, problem solving skills, and professionalism. They will also help you get a sense for how an applicant may react under certain circumstances and how well she might adapt to your company’s culture.

  • Listen Well And Take Good Notes.

Minimize distractions so your attention doesn’t wander to other things while you’re conducting an interview. As your applicant is answering your questions, be fully present mentally when listening. And take notes. You may think your memory is good, but it’s probably not going to live up to your expectations! You’ll want to capture what you liked and didn’t like about how the job candidate responded to you. After interviewing multiple candidates, you’ll have your notes to refer back to as you assess each individual and decide whom you want to ask back to attend subsequent interviews.

  • Give The Job Candidate An Opportunity To Ask Questions

Remember, the interview process is also to help qualified candidates learn whether a position might be right for them. Be sure to provide ample opportunity for them to ask questions about the job responsibilities, your company’s policies, and the working environment at your company.

Interviewing, when done effectively, will reveal a lot about an applicant’s skills, experience, knowledge, and interpersonal skills. With proper planning and attention to the best practices I’ve shared here, your interviews can help ensure you hire the most suitable person for the job. For further guidance and to make sure you comply with all the legal requirements (thus avoiding a job discrimination lawsuit), consider enlisting the help of a human resources expert and/or attorney.  Doing it right from the start can save you time, headaches, and employee turnover and training costs.

Job Interview Questions That Are Illegal

As a small business owner, it’s important to understand which job interview questions are illegal. Laws at the federal and state level exist to protect people from being discriminated against during the hiring process. As an employer, you need to carefully formulate the questions you ask during a job interview. In our office, anyone interviewing a potential job candidate must follow a standard set of best practices for interviewing job candidates. Such practices are critical for avoiding a job discrimination lawsuit that could tear down the business success you’ve worked so hard to achieve.

So what types of questions should you steer clear from so your company doesn’t land legal hot water?

Generally, any questions that guide job candidates into revealing information about their race, color, age, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, or genetic information should not enter into your conversation. You also need to be careful about asking for criminal background information.

Several examples of questions you may want to avoid include:

  • Do you have a husband (or wife)? While you might want to ask this question to find out whether the candidate will have enough time to dedicate to the job, don’t ask this question. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, questions about marital status are frequently used to discriminate against women and illegally deny or limit employment opportunities. This type of question might also be construed as trying to get an individual to disclose gender or sexual orientation.
  • How many children do you have? By law, you cannot deny someone a job because they have children, are pregnant, or plan to have children sometime in the future. If the impetus to ask this or a similar question is to figure out how much time a candidate can devote to the job, then consider asking something like, “What hours would you be available to work?”
  • When did you graduate from college? Because this could enable you to figure out a job candidate’s age, you need to nix this question. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects prospective employees from being turned down because of their age.
  • What was the nature of your discharge from the military? The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) protects people from job discrimination based on their past, present, or future military obligations. You can ask a candidate about the skills and training they received during their military service but not why they were discharged.
  • Are there any religious holidays you honor? Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prevents employers from denying employment based on an individual’s religious affiliation. Don’t set your business up for trouble by asking this type of question, even if your intention is simply to get a sense for how much time off a job candidate might expect.
  • Have you been arrested at any time in the past? Federal law doesn’t prevent you from asking about a candidate’s criminal history, but using that information when making a hiring decision might violate Title VII. And some states have made it illegal to ask about arrest records or to wait until later in the hiring process to inquire about them. Generally, you can’t disqualify a candidate because of a conviction record, unless the offense directly relates to the nature of the job. For example, someone with a child molestation conviction could be denied an elementary school teaching position.
  • Do you drink socially? Although you might be asking in a friendly way to break the ice, this question could be trouble for you. The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 protects qualified individuals who have had problems with alcohol abuse.
  • When did you last use any illegal drugs? This is a tricky one. Although asking job candidates if they presently use illegal drugs (current users are not protected by the ADA), you may not ask about past drug use.
  • What is your first language? Avoid this and similar questions that could be interpreted as a way to determine where someone is from or what their nationality is.

Realize this list of examples isn’t exhaustive and it isn’t meant as a substitute for legal guidance. But I do hope it will give you a better idea about the types of questions you should avoid when interviewing potential employees. Typically, you can play it safe by focusing your interview questions on asking about your candidates’ skills, behaviors, and work experience as they relate to their ability to perform the job position you’re filling. Also, do your homework so you understand the laws that pertain to you at the federal level and within your state. I also recommend that you consider seeking direction from a human resources professional and/or an attorney. They can assist you in developing or reviewing your interview questions so you don’t unknowingly break the law and put your business at risk.

Six Tips To Help Business Leaders Gracefully Handle Adversity In The Office

In an ideal business world, everyone working at a company would always get along famously and harmoniously collaborate day in and day out toward shared objectives they all believe in passionately.

Sounds nice, right? Unfortunately, it’s not very realistic—neither for the entrepreneur starting a business nor the business owner running an existing business for years.

In all companies, leaders face adversity within their ranks at times. Adversity isn’t usually fun, but it doesn’t have to be debilitating either.

How can you manage adversity gracefully so it doesn’t hurt your business?

Below are some ways I’ve found to effectively work through it.

  • Leverage Relationships

By focusing on your shared goals rather than what you’re butting heads about, you can neutralize an at-odds situation and discuss issues openly. Realize you’ll have had to lay the groundwork first by building relationships with your employees. I’ve found having mutual respect is of the utmost importance when talking things out with employees.

  • Give Them A Chance To Vent 

Sometimes people just need to get dissatisfaction off their chests. The mere act of listening without judgment can diffuse irritability. I try to give my team the confidence and capacity to vent (with proper boundaries in place, of course) when something is bothering them. It gives me an opportunity to listen and learn about what’s upsetting them, to acknowledge and validate I understand their feelings, and to collaborate on a resolution.

  • Never Make Assumptions

You know what they say about assuming! It’s true. If you jump to conclusions and try to figure out what your employees are thinking without asking them directly, you will shatter their confidence in you. Only they can accurately express what’s bothering them and why it’s causing them to act they way they are.

  • Show Integrity—ALWAYS!

Even when you find it difficult to reason with someone, you need to keep a cool head and act professionally. It’s never OK to talk behind an employee’s back or otherwise discredit their feelings and concerns. Always take the higher road—and always follow through on what you say you will do when resolving an issue.

  • Do A Post-Mortem

Aim to figure out what series of events or conditions caused the adversity to occur. If it was something within your control, make an effort to avoid that perfect storm again in the future. And if justified, apologize! A simple “I’m sorry” can go a long way toward healing hurt and restoring trust.

  • Don’t Let It Ruin Your Day

Sometimes adversity happens despite your best efforts. As imperfect humans, we will sometimes have misunderstandings, be less patient than we should be, and point fingers at one another. Don’t take incidents of adversity personally. Often, they arise because every person’s frame of reference and degree of adaptability is different. Realize adversity happens in every business—and it’s something we can use to become better leaders. Each time we handle difficult situations, we learn more about our employees and ourselves. The key is to harness that knowledge and use it to more effectively communicate and resolve issues in the future.

Unfortunately the ideal world I described at the start of this article doesn’t exist. But by handling adversity more adeptly, we can get closer to creating it.

Why deal with the adversity and headaches that come with trying to file the paperwork required to form an LLC or incorporate your business? At CorpNet, we’re here to complete your business filings accurately and on time. Contact us today

Should I Call My Employee an Associate or Representative?

Small business owners often struggle when coming up with a job title for their new employee or when listing an open position at their business. Although we’d all like to think that a job title doesn’t mean that much, it’s actually really important from both an employer and employee point of view.

What Job Titles Mean – and What They Can Do

According to Fast Company, 80% of companies they surveyed use job titles to demonstrate an employee’s position in the company hierarchy. And 92% use job titles to define an employee’s role within the company.

Perhaps even more importantly, job titles can be used as recruitment tools. Since small businesses often struggle to recruit and retain employees, using job titles to find and attract potential applicants is a great tactic. The same Fast Company survey found that only 37% of companies think of using job titles as a recruitment tool, so using this tactic can give small businesses a competitive edge.

Clearly, job titles are more important than one might think at first glance. If your business is growing to the point where titles are important, there are ways to structure your system for clarity, consistency, and communications that will help your business thrive.

Choosing the Best Job Titles for Employees

Job titles help maintain structure within an organization. They serve as a shorthand and communications tool to help employees understand where they fit into an organization and how others do, too. And because they don’t cost anything, they can be used as a recruitment and retention tool.

So how do you go about choosing the best job titles for your employees? Consider these seven points when discovering the best titles for your company.

  1. “C” titles stand at the top of the hierarchy: The “C-suite” is a designation for the highest level of the company and is a common way to show decision-making power and authority. Reserve “Chief” titles for those in charge of multiple people and/or departments and with corresponding levels of increasing responsibility.
  2. Give everyone who manages staff a similar title: A consistent naming structure where people who are responsible for the performance of others all share similar designations helps people within the company understand roles and responsibilities. Whether you call them Managers or Directors, anyone who directly manages the actions of others should share a common title.
  3. Associate or representative? It can be difficult to choose between these two titles. Usually “representatives” designates a slightly higher rank than an associate. People often view associates as a starting position. Representatives “represent” their companies and as such, usually reflect deeper company knowledge and a longer tenure with a company.
  4. Titles aren’t analogous among companies: Job titles vary considerably in the scope of work assigned to the title. Look beyond titles when hiring, and make sure you designate via a written job description exactly what each position and title is responsible for so that there is no confusion.
  5. Use titles as part of a candidate’s compensation package: Many good candidates will negotiate compensation and other perks of the job. One area where it’s easy for you to compromise without affecting salary and benefits is in their job title. Consider changing or adjusting job titles, if warranted, to attract and keep great candidates for a job.
  6. Avoid “title-less” organizations: There’s been a trend over the past few years of “flat” organizations. This means that the organization eschews job titles and prefers to view everyone as colleagues. That’s fine as far as it goes, but it can lead to confusion. Customers, clients, vendors and others are used to a system of titles and responsibilities and will still ask for the Director of IT, Operations, Marketing, and so on. Even if your work environment is highly collegial and collaborative, you still need job titles.
  7. Base titles on job descriptions: It’s helpful to begin with the job descriptions you’ve created for your company and decide on titles based on descriptions. At small businesses, employees often wear many hats, and the scope of their responsibilities is broader than at larger companies where people can specialize. Decide the appropriate category for a job title such as accounting, marketing, finance, operations, etc. Then think about the amount of responsibility someone has and what that might mean in terms of job title.

Love them or loathe them, job titles remain an important consideration for employees and employers alike. As you structure your small business, structure your title system for clarity, consistency, and accuracy. You’ll set up your organization for strong growth ahead.

How Job Titles Can Help You Hire Great Talent

So it’s a new year, and you’re looking to hire new talent. You start off by posting a job online, but you’re not finding many candidates, at least not the great ones your company needs. How come? You may not realize this, but the job titles on your postings might be the reason.

Professionals care about the job title a company will provide them with (as well as one they’ll be proud to boast on their resumes in the new year). If you spend enough time looking at other job descriptions and titles, you’ll begin to notice a trend. There’s an increase in outside of the norm job titles. Riding this trend could help you recruit better candidates.

So what should you do heading into the new year? Spend more time crafting your job titles.

Here’s why job titles are so important in the hiring process.

They Help You Target the Type of Person You’re Looking to Recruit

Millennials are looking for different types of job titles than seasoned professionals, so depending on who you want to attract, you may need to tweak your titles accordingly. Those who have been around the block in their careers may be searching for more traditional job titles, while the fresh-out-of-college set may like funkier titles like “Brand Evangelist.”

Your Job Title is Your Welcome Mat

The first thing a potential candidate sees on a job board is your job title. Consider it your click-bait: if the title is boring or uninspiring, some job seekers won’t click to see what qualities you’re looking for. On the other hand, if you spend time coming up with a concise job title, you’ll attract more candidates to choose from.

Being Specific Narrows Your Applicant Pool

On the other hand, you may not want tons of applicants but prefer to have only highly-qualified folks with a very specific skillset submit their resumes to you. Be sure to use precise terms like “Senior” or industry knowledge keywords you want in the job title to winnow down those that will apply.

But Being Overly Zany Might Put You in the Corner

Yes, companies like Google are replacing older keywords like “Human Resources” with “People Specialists,” but that might not be the best strategy for your company. The problem with getting too off-the-wall is that people won’t be searching for your one-of-a-kind job title. Even if internally, you call your programmers “Awesomeness Creators,” you can still use more traditional job titles in your search to ensure that people find your posting.

Your Job Titles Speak Volumes About Your Company Culture

Just like you will be assessing job candidates, those same professionals will be assessing your company. If your job titles are more creative, you might give off a startup culture vibe, which is appealing to many. Or, your more traditional titles might lure experienced professionals looking for stability and familiarity. Consider the ethos you want to portray with your company as you craft your titles.

Creating Better Job Titles

Just because you’ve had a Marketing Manager for years doesn’t mean the next person that fills that role needs to have the same title. Before you post your next open position on job boards, review what that role currently consists of. It likely has evolved over the past several years, and the job title should reflect that. Maybe now that role looks more like a Content Marketing Guru or a Social Media Manager. The more specific you get with the title, the more appealing it will be to the right candidates.

See what your competitors are calling similar roles and determine if you want to mimic those titles or branch off from them. You want candidates to be able to find your job listing, so you might not want to get too creative.

And skip the acronyms or abbreviated words, as well as internal reference IDs (Marketing Mgr Ex75-4). These only make it harder for job seekers to search for your position.

Above all, keep your job titles short and searchable. Leave the details for the job description itself. Consider what a candidate might search for to find your position on a job board. Search there yourself to see how good a fit your role is in search results. And if over time, you don’t get the caliber of candidates you’re seeking, you can always update that job title; it’s not set in stone.

When you post an open position, you are, in a sense, marketing it to potential buyers — or applicants. If you want qualified leads — applications — you’ve got to put the effort into developing the most relevant and appealing job title possible.

How to Handle Payroll for Your First Employee

Business is booming, and it’s time to hire your first employee. Finding great talent, hiring someone, and making sure that all of your new hire paperwork is in order is often a steep learning curve for entrepreneurs. Fortunately, once you go through the on-boarding process with one employee, you’ll be ready to handle many more as your company grows.

Do You Really Need to Hire an Employee?

First, you’ll need to determine whether or not you truly need to hire a full-time or part-time employee or whether contract labor or a freelancer can do the job.

Understanding the difference between the two main categories of employees versus independent contractors is critical, since mistakes can lead to hefty IRS penalties for not paying the appropriate employment taxes. An independent contractor has more autonomy in how they work, where they work, and how they complete each task, while an employee works directly under your supervision on set tasks, at the time and place of your choosing.

You cannot keep someone as an independent contractor status and treat them like an employee. The IRS takes a dim view of this approach since some companies use it to avoid paying unemployment taxes and other benefits. You must also be quite clear about job hours, since there are different insurance and tax requirements for part-time versus full-time employees.

Consider how you’ll track employee hours. If it’s just one employee, it may be easy to note when they arrive at work and when they leave. If you plan to expand your workforce, a computerized tracking system may needed to accurately track hours for benefits and payroll.

Once you’ve settled upon hiring an employee, create a job description for the position. Include roles, responsibilities, requirements for the job, and a list of tasks associated with the job itself. This will guide your hiring process and help wanted ad, too, so it’s an important task.

Finding Great Help

You can hire locally through newspaper or online classified ads. You can also place ads on job boards such as Indeed, Monster, and other sites. Base your job posting on the description. Receive resumes, review them, and interview the three most promising candidates.

Congratulations! You’ve found your candidate and extended a job offer. If they accept, it’s time to begin the hiring process, step by step.

The Hiring Process, from Start to Finish

There are certain legal and tax rules you must follow when you hire a new employee.

  1. Obtain an EIN: An EIN, or employer identification number, is a number used on many legal and tax documents. You apply for an EIN on the IRS website
  2. Register with your state’s labor department: You must register with your state’s labor department to pay the appropriate unemployment compensation taxes.
  3. Purchase Worker’s Compensation insurance: States require employers to carry Worker’s Compensation insurance to cover their employees in the event of an accident or injury on the job. Each state sets its own policies regarding Worker’s Compensation insurance, so check with your state’s labor department for the rules for your state.
  4. Set up your payroll system: You can set up your own payroll system or work with online payroll software to handle weekly payroll filing needs.
  5. Complete forms: Each employee should fill out a W-4 form, the withholding allowance form, and an I-9 form with verification of eligibility for employment. Photocopy proof of eligibility, such as driver’s licenses, etc., and return the originals to your employee.
  6. Report the employee: You must report employees to the state’s hiring agency. The state then checks against records of people who owe for child support.
  7. File IRS Form 940: You’ll need to complete IRS form 940 each year to report federal unemployment tax.
  8. Set up personnel files: Setup files for your new employees that includes copies of their resume or job application, employment verification, IRS forms, and emergency contact information.
  9. Sign up for benefits: If your company offers benefits, review them with your employee and ask them to enroll.
  10. Finish the process: Create an employee manual and hang up required “Employee’s Rights” posters. Follow all OSHA workplace safety regulations. Get your new employee the tools they need to do their job – a desk, computer, cash register, car or whatever else you need. Then welcome them aboard!

Other Considerations

Depending on your business needs, you may need to include in your hiring process an NDA. NDA stands for “Non Disclosure Agreement”. It is a legally binding contract that prevents employees from sharing trade secrets with anyone else. This protects your business if you have any important information that you don’t want getting out into the public.

9 Ways to Show Your Employees You’re Thankful for Them

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, our thoughts naturally turn to what we’re grateful for in life. As a small business owner, I know you’re thankful for your employees. After all, how would you run your business without them? In honor of Thanksgiving, here are 9 ways to say “thank you” to your employees.

  1. Give out bonuses. Let’s face it: Most people are highly motivated by money. There are a couple of ways to handle bonuses. You can set performance goals and give employees bonuses for meeting them—for example, giving a bonus to salespeople who surpass their quotas for the quarter. Or you can give out smaller, “surprise” bonuses, like handing a $25 gift card to a customer service person who goes above and beyond to make a customer happy.
  2. Show some PDA. (That’s “public display of appreciation.”) A thank-you means more when it’s shared in front of the whole team. Whenever you praise employees, take a moment to call everyone’s attention to what you’re doing. It not only makes the employee you’re praising feel great, but also shows the rest of the staff what type of behavior you want to see at work.
  3. Spread the word. Go beyond spotlighting your employees’ achievements in the workplace: Highlight your high-performing staffers on social media, on your website or in your marketing materials. Choose an “Employee of the Month” and profile him or her on your website or in your email marketing newsletter.
  4. Have a food fest. In my experience, one of the best ways to show employees appreciation is through their stomachs. Offer bagels or doughnuts every Friday morning or order pizza every Friday for lunch. Have a potluck where employees bring in their all-time favorite family recipes or dishes from their ethnic heritage. Holiday season? Hold a bake-off with different departments competing for a prize.
  5. Make it personal. Who wants to get an engraved plaque with their name on it? Yawn. Make employee rewards more meaningful by tailoring them to the recipient’s hobbies and interests. Get passes to a big game for a sports fan, or a gift card to a spa for a busy mom.
  6. Write a note. It’s easy to say “Thank you” in passing or send a nice email, but a thank-you note is something a recipient can save and savor. Take time to make your notes concrete and specific; this shows you’re really paying attention to what your employees are doing.
  7. Upgrade them. Having the latest equipment helps employees be more productive and do their jobs better—but, it also shows them how much you value their hard work. Update computers, provide mobile devices for work, spring for better-quality headsets or buy ergonomic office chairs.
  8. It’s about time. Comp time off is always a great way to thank employees for a job well done. Flexible work hours can also show employees how much you value them. Try offering different shifts, such as 8 AM to 4 PM or 10 AM to 6 PM, instead of the standard 9-to-5.
  9. Offer employee benefits. Beyond health insurance, there are tons of other benefits you can provide for your staff. For example, even the smallest business can set up a 401(k) plan to help workers plan for retirement. Life insurance, disability insurance, financial services and even pet insurance are other benefits that can show your employees you care.

 

                               

How to Attract and Retain Skilled Workers Through Culture

If you want your startup business to succeed, it is vital to cater to millennials, now the largest generation in the American workforce, according to Pew Research Center. Professionals born between 1980 and 1996 crave engagement at their jobs, and if they aren’t satisfied, they’ll leave, 2016 Gallup research shows. Fortune Magazine reports that leaders of the top 100 best companies to work for in the United States cite culture as their most important tool to achieving success. By showing employees you value their work-life balance, giving them opportunities to learn and grow in their careers and recognizing their good work and rewarding it with fun activities at the office, a company culture thrives and motivates employees to produce better work and stay at your business.

Happier employees are 12 percent more productive, too, according to 2014 research by the University of Warwick. Decreased stress leads to less time off due to illness or accidents, as the Harvard Business Review reports that 60 to 80 percent of workplace accidents are caused by stress. Moreover, high-pressure companies spend more than two times the amount on healthcare costs than other businesses.

Taking all these factors into consideration, here is how to make your business culture stand out to those searching for jobs and how to sustain it for those who work for you.

Show off on Your Careers Page and Social Networks

Give potential candidates a glimpse of what they can expect from your company culture through the descriptions and imagery throughout your website, especially your careers page, and social networks. Write in a voice that conveys the personality of your company. Display your mission statement on your website. Create a video that gives a tour of the office. A great example of this is Toms shoes. Its homepage features the slogan “one for one” prominently, showing off its goal of donating a pair of shoes for every pair that is bought.

Include testimonials from staff about why they are passionate about working for your company. Photos of smiling faces provide evidence your business is an attractive place to work for. You can share content about your culture on everything from your Facebook profile to your LinkedIn page. If you’re looking for a good example of what to include, Amway posts updates about the company on its LinkedIn page. Posts cover everything from pictures of new employees to information about new products to trips its team leaders take.

Provide Training and Development at Work

Jobs are no longer only ways to make money for today’s employees. To stay engaged, employees require learning opportunities that help them add to their skill repertoire. This benefits your business as training enhances your employees’ competence and creativity. The Gallup poll found that 87 percent of millennials say on-the-job development is crucial to increasing their loyalty and stimulation at work.

Ways to implement development range widely and include:

  • Department-wide enrollment in online courses related to the profession
  • Cross-department training to improve how employees understand and work with each other
  • Company-wide training on skills that benefit the whole workplace, such as interpersonal communication or conflict management

Your business could employ a training professional to conduct lessons or send out a casting call for employees to lead training sessions for each other, which might make the learning more meaningful.

Respect Employees as Humans, not Just Workers

A company culture that chains employees to desks and doesn’t recognize personal needs is draining and restrictive. Employees who feel like they are able to fulfill their familial duties or personal passions while still working full-time for you will be more engaged when they’re at work. Ways to improve a work-life balance at your business include:

  • Provide childcare benefits and maternity and paternity leave
  • Offer incentives for prioritizing health, such as a paid gym membership
  • Partner with local businesses to get discounts for your employees on services such as auto repair or massages

One of the best things you can do to improve the work-life balance of your staff is to offer flexibility in hours worked, whether that means allowing them to set up their own schedule throughout the week or work remotely part of the time or when needed. A 2014 study by telecommuting job site FlexJobs found that 74 percent of people say work-life balance is affected by the flexibility of their work hours. The ability to work remotely at least part of the time decreases stress related to commutes and family or personal obligations. Working from a home office may also increase productivity for some employees.

Company culture can constantly be improved upon, so it’s a good idea to periodically survey your current employees about what is working and what is needed. When you involve your employees in creating the culture themselves, they’ll be more likely to support it and be invested in it.

 

                               

By | November 15th, 2016|Managing People, Running A Small Business|2 Comments