Five Small Business Pitfalls to Avoid

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Businesses of any size are all born from one thing: The desire and drive to solve a problem. The entrepreneurs that started the business were full of fire, optimism, and had amazing momentum for achieving their goals at a rapid pace. At this speed, sometimes there are issues that pop-up unexpectedly, or potential disasters along the way that are easily side-stepped.

 

42% of small businesses fail because there was no real market need, while another 29% simply ran out of cash. Regardless of “why” and “how”, there is no shortage of data on how difficult it is to keep a small business running. And while everyone knows that facing challenges and speed bumps along the way is part of the process, it doesn’t make the learning or recovery process any simpler.

 

Here is our list of five business pitfalls to avoid in order to help your company grow stronger:

 

  1. Tax Blunders

For any business, tax season is all year long. Taxes, and avoiding tax blunders, should always be at the forefront of the employers’ mind. For example, always make sure to separate personal from business expenses accurately and properly. Filing taxes late could mean penalties or fees, which don’t come cheap. Most importantly, however, is making sure you are calculating employee payroll properly. Clearly understanding employee and payroll taxes is important. Not taking the time to do so could a series of consequences in motion.

 

  1. An Incomplete or Poorly Written Employee Handbook

A thoughtful and complete employee handbook should cover everything from paid time off and unexpected absences, to workplace conduct, social media, and sexual harassment. Pay special attention to state and local changing regulations to ensure the organization remains in compliance throughout the year when it comes to drug-related laws, background checks, and leave entitlement.

 

  1. Understanding Overtime
    There are a number of questions around overtime laws, including who is exempt, who is entitled, and if there are any penalties for small businesses. Covered, non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay. Exempt employees or those who are not required to be paid overtime include movie theater employees, salary employees, and farm workers, among others. Non-compliance means employers could be subject to penalties including back pay to impacted employees.

 

  1. Missing Documentation and Paperwork

As a new business gains momentum in the industry, it can be difficult to keep track of all the incoming documents and necessary records for future reference. The most important items to keep include receipts, bank statements, invoices, payroll records, or employment tax records. Some small businesses have reported losing their employer identification number (EIN) issued by the IRS. Try locating the EIN on the original application documents, the paperwork used to open a business bank account, or the forms used to file for any necessary state or local licenses.

 

  1. Getting Distracted

Building a business, client base, and brand takes lots of work and focus—it’s hard! But business owners can easily become distracted and taken away from the main focus of their mission and vision. Some of the main distractions to avoid are success envy and lack of organization, and social chatter. Entrepreneurs naturally will be aware of the success of others who have also just recently launched their business. Financial or business milestones can be inspiring…and create jealousy. A disorganized business owner is obvious from the client’s first interaction with them, in most cases. Customers need to know that the business can handle their needs without confusion or distraction.

 

As easy as it is to feel like things are running smoothly, it is important to keep a close eye on financial records and company data. Things can go quickly from feeling like they are perfect in considering what assets to offload in order to avoid closing the doors. Contact Vensure to get assistance in staying organized, focused, and ensure the bulk of the administrative work is not on the shoulders of the business owner.

 

 

 

Small Business Trends: Startup Statistics – The Numbers You Need to Know

How a PEO Makes for a Better Business

PEO business management

Outsourcing. A word formerly taboo in the business world for thriving enterprises has gained a refreshed outlook through organizations of various sizes looking to supplement some of their day-to-day practices. Ranging from small business entrepreneurs to large multi-state providers have found solace in the benefits and administrative management of outsourced both human resource providers and professional employer organizations (PEO).

 

In the United States, more than 175,000 businesses rely on outsourced human resources and PEOs for their day-to-day business needs. For these organizations, the ability to streamline their business operations, take advantage of the ability to access industry-leading technology, and improve daily process makes the idea of outsourcing worthwhile.

 

Adding a PEO or HR provider to manage regular business operations and administration could lead to:

  • Improved customer service and product reliability.
  • Lessening the employee skill gap.
  • Solving business challenges before they happen.
  • Top-tier technology and qualified industry professionals.

 

Outsourcing elements of existing business administration responsibilities means business owners and employers are able to better manage stress and regain focus on the core areas of the business that generate the most revenue: customer service, project management, product development, etc. Instead of dedicating a team to focus on researching better benefits, reworking the organization’s risk management plan, or reviewing the employee handbook, outsourced PEO professionals and HR experts will take the lead.

 

The right HR or PEO partner will allow the business to choose the services that best meet their needs. In turn, the business receives unmatched assistance from outside professionals who have years of experience in their role. Essential business areas like risk management, workers’ compensation, and payroll administration, among others, make sense to outsource rather than the business taking on those responsibilities in-house.

 

Businesses of all sizes, both small locally owned to large multi-state operations, are proud to have the option of working with a best-in-class third-party provider of HR and PEO services. Contact Vensure to starting putting your focus back on your employees and client relationships, while reducing the hit to your bottom line and saving time across multiple departments.

 

 

NAPEO: Industry Statistics

A Realistic Approach to Employee Retention

Two Professionals Meeting At The Table

A staggering “83% of employers believe attracting and retaining talent” is one of the primary challenges for their recruiting and hiring teams.

 

For this reason, a realistic lens must be used when viewing or creating an employee retention strategy. As the lifespan of employees shortens, HR teams are faced with the challenge of turning employee retention from a dusty section in a procedures guide on the shelf to a real-world, best practice plan.

 

To take a realistic approach to employee retention, focus your energy and effort on the hiring process, conducting a regular pay analysis, and enabling growth and development within your organization.

 

Starting at the very beginning with the application, hiring process, and talent management, organizations who have been able to create and uphold realistic employee retention strategies are those where the leaders are creative and inspired, and the employees are motivated and feel valued. Ensure your hiring process includes the vetting of candidates in terms of whether they are a good fit culturally. Workplace culture, or the lack thereof, could be one of the primary factors behind higher attrition at your company.

 

Regular review of employee salaries and pay analysis is necessary to ensure you are paying employees within the industry standard, in addition to what is appropriate based on their skillset and responsibilities. Every organization differs in terms of amount, how positions are paid, and the responsibilities that make up each position. These are necessary elements when reviewing pay structure and roles. The end goal, however, is to pay employees fairly and keep them engaged and motivated.

 

Employees find growth and development to be a major factor in staying motivated and in showing professional progress toward their next career goal. Consider including opportunities for the adoption of new hard skills, the refinement of specific soft skills, job shadowing in complementary roles, or giving employees the ability to broaden their knowledge in an area of their choosing. Regardless of the method, it’s important that the organization supports the employees’ desire to achieve a goal and stay motivated.

 

Job satisfaction and employee engagement feed directly into employee retention. This, in addition to refining your existing hiring process, conducting a regular pay analysis, and enabling employee growth and development will all aid in improving employee retention, overall. Contact Vensure to learn how integrated HR technology can reduce employee turnover and accelerate organizational growth.

 

Positively Influencing Employee Well-Being

Two Coworkers Walking Down Spiral Stairs

Employee well-being is taking over employer focus from employee wellness. Well-being-focused initiatives are those programs that address issues such as financial education, career fulfillment, and the employee’s emotional and mental health.

 

As an employee’s mental health can change at any time, it is important to be conscious of contributing factors such as workload, stress, and the employee’s work-life balance.

 

If you haven’t done so already, consider establishing a workplace environment that caters to employee mental health support. This can be done by promoting an employee assistance program (if you have one), allow employees to reach out for help or guidance from their HR team or managers through a specific portal or digital method, or encourage the start of an employee support group that meets on a regular basis.

 

Managers can attempt to address specific employee concerns by paying close attention to the workload spread across their team, facilitate positive, and constructive conversations in a one-on-one environment between the manager and each employee, or even highlight an employees success to shine a light on their contributions to morale or bettering the team.

 

Additional well-being initiatives your organization could adopt include:

  • Two-Mile Dine. Compile a list of local eateries with healthier options within two miles of your office. Post publicly or share with employees to inspire team-lunches within walking distance.

 

  • Take the Stairs. If you work in building with multiple levels, urge employees to take the stairs if traveling between one to three floors. Confirm employees know where the stairs are in your building and reinforce stair safety and precautions. Communicate the initiative with employees by sharing the benefits of taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

 

  • Practice Gratitude. It has become commonplace to close an email with “thank you” or say the words as a reflex in response to the end of a conversation. Being thankful and meaning it can help foster a positive environment and work culture. Be sincere, be specific, and be humble. Practice gratitude in all encounters by showing respect to those around you, showing you trust your coworkers and leaders, and developing confidence in your team by expressing how they have helped you grow in your role or as a leader.

 

  • Shutdown the “Always On” Mentality. Even though it’s not explicitly written out, business leaders and employees who have access to laptops or mobile devices that are tapped into their work emails are many times afflicted with an “always on “mentality. The expectation is that emails should be answered when received, regardless of what time it is. Employers should attempt to squash the “always on” precedent many employees feel is necessary to prove dedication to the role and organization. Support your employees’ work/life balance by restricting evening and weekend email, when possible, to show employees you value their home time as much as they do.

 

Employers should place an immense amount of importance on supporting their employees’ mental health through improving current benefit offerings or learning about and adding new resources for employees. Contact Vensure to learn more about flexible solutions to help you reach your goals and business objectives.

 

 

 

Effective Goal Setting for Managers and Supervisors

Casual Meeting As Coworker Displays Data On A Large Monitor

Managers should be interested in understanding their co-managers style, reasoning, and processes to become more effective leaders. Employees look to the management chain to not only see how they should act and react but as a goal for their own professional development within your organization.

 

This means managers and supervisors are never exempt from professional development conversations focused on advancing their careers, improving their communication, and reviewing their goals.

 

Some organizations choose to use the SMART method for setting individual goals aimed to hone in on performance and development goals for each employee, including managers and supervisors. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Based goals.

 

Regardless of how your organization comes by their manager and supervisor goals, it is most important that your leaders are driven by goals that highlight their competencies, attitudes and behaviors, employee management skills, and areas for opportunity.

 

  • Improved Communication: Most companies receive complaints about the lack of communication. If there is an announcement that is going to be released that directly affects your manager’s team, the managers should be made aware and prepared to answer questions accurately and effectively. This goal should be used to show an enhanced investment in consistent, clear, and concise communication in face-to-face interactions or written messages.

 

  • Employee Coaching and Core Management: Does your manager lead by motivation, positive reinforcement, or fear? This goal should be used to identify opportunities for managers and supervisors to provide constructive, valuable, and timely feedback to employees on a regular basis, or on-the-spot.

 

  • Productivity: Goals in this area should highlight the manager’s ability to successfully close projects within a set time and budget. Hard numbers drive this goal and can be checked regularly.

 

  • Training: Successful managers and supervisors should never shy away from management training. If made available through your organization or in your local area, manager/supervisor training is an effective way to help the team improve as a whole. Managers should attempt to attend at least one professional improvement training session (e.g. leadership, management, review process, coaching, etc.) each year, using this goal to track the gained skills and knowledge from the course.

 

 

Professional manager development does vary slightly from that of non-manager level employees. Goals like those outlined here help to secure a manager’s confidence and core management skills that make the most sense for the success of the organization. Each manager may require separate goals as their strengths and areas of opportunity will likely differ. Effective goal setting is a useful way to train and motivate managers or supervisors and get a good feel for the company’s trajectory toward achieving corporate goals. Contact Vensure for support in helping your managers become superior leaders.

 

 

Building a Stronger Team with Self-Evaluations

Smiling Chef & Executive Meeting Over Lunch

Employee self-appraisals, or self-evaluations, have undergone scrutiny on whether they are beneficial, help employees achieve goals, or provide an accurate picture of the employee’s performance from their own perspective. While some employees may express they find self-evaluations to be tedious, the real benefit of employee evaluations is in the strength of the team.

 

High-performing teams are found to be more effective and productive as they are able to better communicate and coordinate their efforts in order to meet deadlines and attack projects head-on. Self-appraisals benefit the entire team by allowing employees to identify and refine their strengths, and focus on improving areas of opportunity.

 

Adding an employee evaluation section to your regularly scheduled annual performance reviews will require setting a good foundation, creating a self-evaluation process, determining next steps to keep the employee’s professional growth on a positive trajectory, and monitoring progress.

 

Here are our tips for creating or adding employee self-evaluations to your existing performance review process.

 

Provide accurate, current job descriptions. Employees should always know what their current role is and be able to communicate their job duties and responsibilities. This information will allow the employee to understand exactly which areas they should be focusing on in their self-appraisal. The employee and manager should be in agreement of the employee’s duties to ensure the employee is evaluating the proper scope of their position.

 

Create a formal employee self-evaluation. An employee’s performance development should include a self-evaluation. The results of these evaluations should be used to contribute to the employee’s professional development planning and as a motivational tool. Managers should be able to glean information from the evaluation to help prepare the employee for their next professional move or better understand the areas the employee requires assistance to achieve their goals.

 

Include evaluation questions that require the employee to explore their current role, new goals or challenges, achievements, and how the company can assist in their professional development.

 

Closely monitor the new or integrated evaluation process. Whether your organization currently employs self-evaluations, or you are considering integrating them into your existing employee performance reviews, it will be important to monitor the progress and program success. Managers will want to keep a pulse on the process to confirm cross-departmental consistency and suggest or provide additional training, as necessary, to further ensure managers are prepared to execute the process effectively.

 

Follow-up. Schedule regular check-ins with employees to provide feedback throughout the year, rather than once or twice. Employees will see consistent performance-focused feedback as their manager investing in their career. These employees are 94% more likely to stay with your organization.

 

 

Evaluating an employee’s performance, even reviewing an employee’s self-appraisal, can be an uncomfortable task for managers. Regular performance reviews that incorporate an employee’s self-evaluation should look more like a performance snapshot throughout the year. These evaluations open doors for communication and opportunities for the employee and manager to provide feedback to one another, keeping the entire team engaged and productive. Contact Vensure to learn more about incorporating self-evaluations into your existing processes and procedures.

 

 

LinkedIn: 2018 Workplace Learning Report

 

 

Enhance Internal Communication and Collaboration

Three Coworkers Reviewing Information Together

How many times have you heard employees say they wished internal communication were better? That valuable information should be shared rather than dispersed reactively? It’s an open item on every organization’s “to do” list as cross-departmental communication and collaboration are a vital aspect of any business and the employee-employer relationship.

 

Unforeseen benefits of properly flowing communication include strengthening the foundation of trust between departments, employees, and the management team, and improved productivity. Encouraging employees of different departments to communicate and collaborate with one another ensures any geographic gaps are minimized (all locations know what the others are doing and what the status of open items are) and that teams are on the same page.

 

Employees will always err on the side of wanting knowing more about the company’s operations, financials (stability), and goals in a transparent-like communication strategy, rather than only hearing operationally significant information, (e.g. layoffs, mergers, reorganization, etc.). In addition, while first understanding what information to share with employees, the second hurdle will be how the information is best delivered, and lastly you will want to gather feedback from employees.

 

Options for improving communication and collaboration are endless considering all of the different advancements to available technologies. For example, most businesses are equipped with email and the internet, which opens the avenue of instant messaging and posts to the company intranet. Technology aside, in-person communication avenues include town hall meetings, company-wide updates, and one-on-one meetings between employees and their supervisor(s).

 

For employers starting at the bottom rung of introducing communication improvements to their business, we recommend including these strategies:

 

•   Focus the Teams. Meet with the team stakeholders and primary contributors from each of the departments looking to unite, who will be vocal and share their opinions about necessary communication and collaboration improvements. Use this time to get a pulse on what the teams are looking to share, what they hope to learn about the organization and goals, and what they need to be able to work together effectively and efficiently.

 

•   Commit to Making a Change. With all of the feedback you’ve gained from team meetings, collaboration huddles, and one-on-one check-ins, it is up to you to not only get the department leaders to commit to making improvements but also ensure the right people are included and don’t feel left out. Some non-manager level employees may want to have a voice in improving the organization’s communication and cross-department collaboration strategy. The more involvement, the better! Cut down on frustrations on the back end by opening the opportunity to the people who want to see changes implemented company-wide.

 

•   Foster a Collaborative Environment. Unite departments in a common goal. This is one of the best ways to break down any communication or social silos and, as a by-product, teams should also be able to have more effective and results-driven meetings and interactions. Encourage departments to be mindful of competing schedules, communication objectives, and comfort level spanning team members. Managers can offer opportunities for job shadowing or cross-training between employees or departments that interact frequently. Employees will leave the experience with a basic understanding of how the other team/department functions and a better perspective as to the larger picture of operations and organizational goals.

 

Making communication and collaboration a priority at your business with help to reinforce the importance of performance, productivity, and goal-oriented results through these channels to employees. Commitment to making improvements across the board in communication and cross-departmental collaboration will also have a positive impact on employee culture. Vensure Employer Services helps clients around the U.S. change the way our clients manage people, retain talent, accomplish goals, and improve company culture. The time to start is now! Contact Vensure to learn more.

Tips for Improved Performance Evaluations

Businessman Open To Feedback

Job performance feedback is something everyone needs, but not something everyone wants. Performance evaluations are an important element of an organization’s commitment to employee development and are a great way to measure productivity and morale, over time.

 

As the process for performance evaluations evolves, businesses are taking the opportunity to review their policies and methods when it comes to conducting and learning from and discussing employee performance.

 

“45% of HR leaders do not think annual performance reviews are an accurate appraisal for employee’s work.” – ClearCompany

 

Regular evaluations are a great way to promote employee growth, competence, and help develop relationships across the team and departments. Managers can take the time to really dive into an employee’s role, review expectations, and goals, and ensure the employee is set up for success in the coming months/year.

 

Consider the following tips when preparing to deliver your next performance evaluation to your team:

  • Regularly Scheduled Programming. Evaluations should be conducted at the same time every year for each employee on your team. Try to never skip or move a scheduled review as this can give the employee the feeling that they are not as important as whatever their review was bumped for. Once the evaluation process is over, find a way to monitor and keep track of each employees’ progress in preparation for their next scheduled review.

 

  • Goal Oriented. Each performance review should include a review of the employee’s previous goals (monthly/quarterly/annually) as a benchmark, a status update on the goal(s), and setting goals for the next period. Companies who have performance processes that set quarterly goals rather than annual goals see a 31% greater return. Encourage employees to review their goals regularly on their own to make sure they are invested in managing their own success.

 

  • No Surprises. Urge your team to speak to you for encouragement or motivation between review cycles. This is a great way to ensure your team is focused and not “taken by surprise” in their next performance review. Most employees have no idea how much or how little their actions are contributing to the team or the larger business. When done properly, employees should never be surprised about any of the information they hear in a review. Managers should be providing constant, on-the-spot feedback as frequently as they are able. Give employees the opportunity to course correct by immediately letting them know if they are doing something wrong.

 

Follow established organizational procedures in order to ensure all employees are held to the same standard and understand the expectations around performance evaluations. Successful evaluations are those where the employee understands the results of the conversation and is prepared to achieve the next set of goals discussed with their manager. Vensure Employer Services offers a number of services to help businesses like yours succeed in performance evaluations and retaining top talent. Contact Vensure to learn more.

 

 

Forbes: It’s Time to Put Performance Reviews on Notice

 

Addressing Detrimental Workplace Behavior

Shocked Colleague Trying To To Understand The Conflict

Employee behavior, good and bad, has a direct impact on your organization’s environment and can affect the behavior of their coworkers. Typically, managers try to identify candidates with destructive or negative personality types or characteristics in the interview process. However, this is not always successful. Candidates will mask these characteristics during an interview, regardless of whether they are aware of these toxic traits or not.

 

Many times, managers will struggle with effectively detecting these character traits, or managing an employee who is having a negative behavioral effect on the team. If a manager is unable to reign in an employee who is exhibiting patterns of detrimental or toxic behavior, the organization will eventually start feeling the effects. In other circumstances, managers are aware of the issues, but they choose to avoid rectifying the situation as they are not comfortable with confrontation, claim they are too busy to worry about one person or are unsure how to handle the situation properly.

 

Negative or toxic behavior can be identified as larger matters such as resistance or rigidity to change and adaptation or taking extended or unapproved breaks, or smaller matters like using inappropriate language when conversing with employees on the floor or engaging in gossip, or persistent complaining and whining. No matter how minor the situation, each of these habits or occurrences can damage the workplace environment and the professional reputation of those involved.

 

Here are our suggestions for how to address the detrimental behaviors:

 

•     Address issues early and often. Negative behavior can be infectious and will oftentimes develop as a result of resentment for something about which the employee, or group of employees, is not happy. Speak with the individual or group in a private setting to aid in protecting the privacy and pride of those involved. This also helps to fortify a feeling of trust among the team.

 

When discussing, try to focus more on the reason behind the behavior, rather than how the negative behavior affected you, the team, or the organization. While you cannot undo what is already done, you can try to further eliminate the cause from repeating itself.

 

•     Create a calm, respectful, and open environment to discuss the situation and bad habits the employee is expressing. Allow for the conversation to include time to focus on resolution and steps to ensuring the habits will not surface again. Take notes after the meeting including a brief summary of what happened and any facts or comments the employee made that may need to be referenced in the future.

 

•   Leave your emotions at the door. Behavioral issues stem from a problem with something very specific and personal to the employee. Try to be understanding about the situation and understand what the person may be feeling. Managers should be open to helping the employee sort through their feelings to get to the underlying issue. But do not make assumptions about the behavior or reason for their reaction to the situation. Simply acknowledge their feelings and focus on coming to an amicable resolution.

 

Employers should support and assist managers in their efforts to create a safe and conflict-free workplace culture where employees can thrive and work together to improve their skills within the organization. Vensure encourages regular employee and manager training and a collaborative work environment where all employees have the tools and resources they need to be successful. Reach out to Vensure to learn more about the comprehensive business solutions we offer to free up your time, reduce costs, and focus more on employee management and culture.

 

 

 

Corporate Sponsored Volunteering: Making a Difference in Your Community

As companies strive to find new and inventive ways to boost employee morale or strengthen their brand in the community, many times volunteering does not make the list. But it should! Here’s proof:

  • 34 million adults volunteered in 2018.
  • 61% of Millennials who volunteer consider a company’s community commitment when deciding on their next job.
  • Employees most likely to volunteer are those between the ages of 35 and 54.

 

Employee volunteer programs are an amazing way to take advantage of the unique opportunities to get involved in your local community, all while benefiting the core business and your employees in the long run.

 

Encourage Teamwork and Build Employee Character
Volunteering has a way of bringing people together. From cooking breakfast for underprivileged children or feeding the homeless, to joining a sewing circle at an elder care facility or cleaning up a community garden. The ways to show your community support and get involved are endless. Working together in these efforts brews camaraderie among teammates, and builds compassion, empathy, and graciousness—character traits of quality employees.

 

Professional Skills
Volunteer programs are a great way for employees to display their professional skills through the ability to benefit others. Exposing employees to a new environment all while further developing their skills outside of their day-to-day roles and responsibilities. Employees will end their volunteer experience feeling satisfied and fulfilled, reenergized for a new day at the office, and excited for the next volunteer day.

 

Boost Your Brand
Volunteering programs build brand loyalty and show your commitment and support in the local community. Additionally, spending time in the community helps to improve the company reputation, which can lead to sponsored volunteer events or even grants. Strengthening your company’s community ties can only bring positive results.

 

To support these initiatives, many companies will add a volunteer-related time off policy to their handbook for just this reason. To encourage community involvement, some organizations will organize a company-wide volunteer day, while others provide a set number of paid hours for each employee to volunteer during work hours each quarter.

 

Vensure Employer Services offers a number of products and services to help your business stay competitive in the industry by attracting and retaining top talent. We support every business’s efforts to become more engaged with the communities they serve. Learn more about employee manual, policies, procedures, and guideline reviews or assisted development.

 

 

 

https://www.nationalservice.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2018/volunteering-us-hits-record-high-worth-167-billion

https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/About-Deloitte/gx-millenial-survey-2016-exec-summary.pdf

https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/volun.pdf