A Few Good Managers: The Small Business Challenge

Confirming Inventory In The Digital Age

Managers are often asked to promote from within, train employees to take over in their absence. And as a manager, perhaps you remember a time when you were taken under a manager’s wing and taught everything they know. Small businesses, however, don’t always have this luxury.


Promotions these days rely on more than role-based competence. In fact, managers are looking for certain qualities in future managers that include everything from humility and gratitude, to grit and lending a helping hand. This is especially true when it comes to managing a team at a smaller company. Employees regularly wear more than one hat at a time, making the managerial experience unique.


Ideally, managers would avoid promoting employees into positions where they are no longer competent in the role. This is called the Peter Principle. An example of this would be when a low-ranking employee is promoted up through multiple positions, over time, until they reach a role they are not prepared or trained to handle. Promoting to failure is not the best course of action for many employees and can lead to adverse effects including frustration, burnout, and low employee morale.


Instead, small businesses can rely on a different series of factors to identify managerial candidates and work to train them for their first supervisory role.


Delegate Freely
Small business managers and business owners are held accountable for much, if not all, of what occurs within their business. However, they are unable to control every aspect of the organization. Instead, letting employees operate semi-autonomously will not only help to build the employee’s drive and confidence, but also improve company culture and employee morale across the board.


Automate What You Can
Products, tools, and resources are being created every day to help business owners, especially small businesses, operate more efficiently. A technology that most small businesses could add to their toolbox is a human capital management (HCM) software. This is a cloud-based platform used to engage employees, improve or build company culture, and assist with employee management, administration, and recruiting. Moving to a digital platform instead of trying to manually oversee each of these individual processes will give managers time back to focus on revenue-generating activities.


Prioritize Communication
Manager/employee communication is an incredibly important aspect of any business, but even more so for small business managers. Regardless of how busy one’s schedule may be, prioritizing communication will help to ensure employees are kept up-to-date on happenings within the business, leadership team decisions, and other crucial information that will help them perform their jobs more effectively and efficiently.


Every business needs to have at least a few good managers, regardless of the business size. Even in a small business setting where one employee may have multiple responsibilities, a quality manager will help keep projects on track, customers or clients happy, and projects on budget. Contact Vensure to see how we can help keep your business focused by bringing the right people in to help manage your business.

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%[1] 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.



[1] LinkedIn: 2018 Workplace Learning Report



HR Activities to Regularly Review

Group Of Professional Meetings

Policies and procedures managed by your HR team should be considered dynamic assets. These are documents that grow and change reflecting the company’s evolution over time in terms of organizational goals, industry trends, and both state and federal legislation. For these reasons, the core message or elements of the document, policy, or procedure remain intact; however, the surrounding details and procedure application remain fluid.


At first, the idea of regularly revisiting seemingly well-oiled policies may seem redundant or unnecessary. The reality is, though, that the business requires and deserves to have effective and current guiding principles to protect the business and its employees.


The top areas where your team will want to keep a close eye includes hiring and recruiting, policy and procedure compliance updates, communication, and departmental gap analysis.


Hiring and Recruiting
Hiring and recruiting is not only one of the primary responsibilities of the HR team, but they are one of the greatest sources of value for the entire organization. Good hires improve the company’s bottom line, form stronger relationships, and fortify company culture. Poor hires can result in diminished company culture, the dissolution of important relationships, and can damage the company budget by requiring additional funds to be funneled to recruiting efforts.


As your business continues to grow and thrive, you can expect to devote additional resources and attention to hiring and recruiting. During these times of flux is where your HR team should be spending time understanding the needs of the current workforce in order to continue the positive trajectory.


Policy and Procedure Compliance
Once considered a more expensive task, maintaining compliance across multiple areas of your HR department is no longer a financial drain. With some special consideration to labor or employment laws, team members should feel less overwhelmed with policy updates. Stay current with local and federal changes by subscribing to trusted blogs or signing up for email updates from law firms in your area who focus on these changing regulations. Bookmark the Department of Labor website (and/or local or state agencies) for quick references and resources pertinent to your industry.


Communication is a learned strength for many and an opportunity for everyone else. Your communication skills can help others improve their own communication deficiencies, and will help you connect with people more easily at events, meetings, or even in new hire orientation.


Communication comes into play when reviewing and delivering employee development plans. Speaking with employees will help you understand their skill levels, career aspirations, and opportunities for involvement or improvement from your perspective. Use these objectives to clearly outline how the employee can benefit from these tips and skills. How this information is communicated to the employee can make a difference in their success with a development plan.


Departmental Gap Analysis
One of the best ways to determine where your department is falling short is to perform a gap analysis. As your company matures in line with industry and trends, a regular review is required to ensure HR practices are meeting the demands of the organization. For example, if the business expands into new geographic locations, the company may become subject to a more diverse group of guidelines than your documentation or department has previously supported. The gap analysis can help uncover elements that require updates, such as training programs, job descriptions, or even updates to the employee handbook.


As important as it is to maintain industry best practices across your organization, it is even more important to ensure business policies are not only consistent but are still as effective as they were when they were put in place. Vensure is able to assist your HR team regular reviews of your policies and reduce exposure by increasing compliance with federal and state laws. Contact Vensure to get started today.




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.[2] 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.



[2] 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.




OSHA Exit Routes: What You Need to Know

Emergency events happen quickly. Exit routes are purposefully designed to allow employees to exit the building or structure safely during an emergency in the event an evacuation is necessary.


Exit routes, comprised of exit access, the physical exit, and the exit discharge, are direct paths, clear of obstructions that lead employees away from the workplace. Here are some* of the base requirements for exit routes:

  • Exit routes must be permanent and contain enough exit options for a quick escape for all employees or workers.
  • Exit doors must open outward.
  • Line of sight to exit must remain clear.
  • Doors that could be mistaken as exits should be marked with “Not an Exit” or other appropriate messaging.
  • Exit doors must remain unlocked.


Your company’s emergency route action plan should contain procedure details focused on emergency reporting, emergency evacuation, exit route assignments, and post-evacuation, among others.*


Read the full OSHA Exit Route Factsheet for more information.


Vensure Employer Services offers multiple OSHA training programs each year for both General Industry and Construction. While free to attend, the knowledge workers gain is invaluable. Learn more about Vensure’s workers’ compensation and risk management offerings to see how we support our clients when they need us most.



*Information provided here is a high-level summary and is not exhaustive. Please reference the official OSHA website for complete details pertaining to means of egress.



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Tips for Developing and Maintaining a Return to Work Program

In 2018 the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported: “approximately 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses”[1] were submitted by employers in the year prior. For this reason, creating and maintaining a return to work program is crucial to not only saving the company money but also flexes the company’s commitment to an employee’s early return to work.


The below elements can serve as the foundation for your company’s return to work program.


Return to Work Team
Dedicating a group of qualified individuals to a return to work team is crucial to the success of a return to work program. The team can provide leadership, define and manage expectations as it relates to injured employees, and serve as an intermediary communication point between involved parties. Having a team focused on the program ensures proper administration of all program-related elements and management of concerns or issues.


Be Transparent. Outline the Process.
Create a flowchart to maximize employee involvement and knowledge, while eliminating confusion about the program. The flowchart should contain vital information about the process and administration steps, and proper actions to take. Once completed, the flowchart can serve as your organization’s action plan.


Data Collection
The best way to measure the success of any program is to collect accurate pieces of data that help build a complete picture, from start to finish, of the program, its successes, and areas that could be improved. Start with tracking the dollars saved per individual for each injured employee. From here, stakeholders can help determine other data points to collect in order to build out the program reporting.


Put the Plan in Action
Once all of the program’s details are ironed out, the program can be launched. Make sure to include employees, supervisors, union officials (where necessary), workers’ compensation professionals, and medical providers (where necessary). It is important to have full support from all involved parties to ensure the continued success of the program. From providing written descriptions or program-specific definitions to reviewing the program with new hires or periodically with seasoned employees throughout the year, the program’s ultimate success revolves around good communication and continued education.


While the time away from work for most employees is only temporary, having a proper back to work program in place minimizes the consequences of what could easily turn into a major disruption for the organization. Contact Vensure to learn how we can help injured employees make a full and timely recovery so they can get back to work through careful claim monitoring and processing.


[1] https://www.bls.gov/news.release/osh.nr0.htm



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Recruiting Process Improvements

Recruiting is a crucial role in any organization. As the hirable population changes, so do recruiting processes and tactics to ensure the business is onboarding the cream of the crop. With only 30%[1] of the global workforce actively looking for a job, it is important to make sure company recruiting strategies are always improving.


Strengthen the Company Brand
Many job seekers are not only looking for a new job but are willing to explore a new industry or entirely new career. Building a strong brand helps attract positive new talent to one business over others. Additionally, if the employer actively manages reviews, company profiles, and regularly updates website content, potential employees are more likely to apply for an open position with that company.


Turn to Social Media
Social media is an incredible resource for businesses, especially as it pertains to recruiting new employees. Millennials are looking beyond traditional job boards to find work. Many use social media to either find opportunities, get noticed, or research potential employers. From LinkedIn, ranked the top social processional network source for quality hires[2],  to Twitter, potential employees can join interest or industry groups, use their network to find someone who is already employed at the company, or read reviews and recommendations.


Look Within
Recruiting fresh faces for any business can be relatively difficult. Recruiting from within the organization, however, is a benefit for the employee and the company. Ensure all open positions are posted on the employee-facing intranet or careers page. Offer internal candidates the same opportunity to interview for an open position as any external candidate. Prior to starting this practice, the organization will want to have a policy in place to regulate how long someone must reside in their current position before being promoted or moving to another position within the company.


Recruiting and retaining top talent are the main concern for employers around the world. Vensure Employer Services offers human resources administrative services to further improve your competitive pull in the market. Contact Vensure to learn more!


Stay tuned for future announcements regarding full recruitment services for Vensure Employer Services clients.


[1,2] https://business.linkedin.com/content/dam/business/talent-solutions/global/en_us/c/pdfs/Ultimate-List-of-Hiring-Stats-v02.04.pdf



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HR’s Digital Revolution

Once a paper trail-centric organization, human resources teams, have shifted from hard copy files to a complete digitized experience for employees and prospects. Why? As technology seems to intervene in every area of our lives, human resources are no exception. In the modern HR world, departments are jumping at the chance for concrete oversight, ownership of the technology that helps the business achieve organizational effectiveness, and embeds the HR roles deep in the roots of the business.


It turns out that shifting to a digital workflow for the HR department only helps to solidify the company’s place in the modern business world. Here are some examples:


• For prospects, especially millennials, it is essential that the company for which they are applying to work not only embraces technology but is at the forefront of the technological curve. The candidate’s first encounter will be with the HR department. An HR team equipped to handle digital document scanning and processing, and cloud-based software puts the organization in the modern technology bucket.


• Employees, prospects, and clients will feel their information is secure if digital transaction management software is used to validate contracts, close deals, or confirm identity.


• Introducing a digital workflow to an already well-organized HR team gives the opportunity for automated processes, workflow operation routinely and efficiently, and new processes are integrated directly into the digital workflow reducing ramp-up time.



Businesses will watch their human resources teams shift from paper only or partial paper to strictly technology-based. Slowly but surely HR becomes an integral cog in the growth and performance of the company, and now they have the data to prove it. As this happens, the business becomes strategically positioned to reap the benefits of the digitized HR department.


Vensure Employer Services recognizes the importance of staying on the cutting edge in the PEO industry and does so by continuously making improvements to provide clients the latest in technology. Find out more by contacting Vensure Employer Services today!



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Removing Unconscious Bias: Employing Diverse Hiring Practices

While people would prefer to say they are free of bias, that is just not the case. Our minds have a way of unconsciously interpreting information, which directly affects personal, and business decisions. Coupled with social media, hiring managers now have the ability to make hiring decisions based on personal factors, of which many are not job-related.

Our tips below will help your company in hiring without bias, to create a more diverse and experience-based candidate pool.

Assess the Current Process
Auditing your company’s existing hiring process will give you a better idea of what changes are immediate and what changes you can implement over time. Enlist your HR team not only understand potential bottlenecks or discrepancies in the process but to analyze the diversity hiring data. Where are the gaps? What could be done differently?

Autonomize Resumes or Applications
Encourage your HR team or recruiters to redact certain candidate details by removing names, email addresses, graduation dates, and photos from resumes, applications, or submission profiles. Blind recruiting, or removing the identification details from the process, allows for the recruiters and hiring managers to focus on the candidate’s professional aspects that they will bring to the existing employee base. Creating a fair hiring practice will yield a more diverse pool of candidates.

Test Job Descriptions
Write job descriptions that appeal to a wide variety of candidates. Create a balanced description that speaks to both genders equally by using words and phrases that are positively charged, and use potentially gender-dominant words appropriately. The language used in job descriptions could inadvertently turn away diverse candidates before you get a chance to review their professional credentials.

Unique Talent
Learning how to recognize a candidate’s unique professional talents or experience is a far stronger indicator of success than a more traditional candidate who attended one of the nation’s top universities. Identify the qualities of a top-ranking candidate and use these to rank them in the talent pool. For example, a candidate who exemplifies grit, humility, integrity, and determination will far outshine someone who is relying solely on their elite work history.

Making necessary adjustments to the company’s existing process and evaluating techniques to aid in a more diverse recruiting and hiring process will lend itself to a more diverse culture. These types of changes serve as a beacon to current employees, letting them know that diversity and inclusion is taken seriously and will have a positive effect on employee morale and culture.

Continue to improve your company’s diverse employee landscape by contacting Vensure Employer Services today!

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