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The coming holiday shopping season promises to be one of the most challenging ever for retailers—especially small retailers. Facing stiffer competition from e-commerce sites like Amazon, small retailers that can't compete on price will need to ensure a stellar in-store experience in order to succeed. For most, that includes bringing on seasonal employees to handle the holiday rush.

 

But with unemployment low, retailers face challenges in this arena as well. Target’s announcement earlier this month that it would hire 100,000 seasonal employees—a whopping 40 percent increase from the number it hired last holiday season—serves as an early indicator to small retailers that the time to start hiring is now.

 

If you hope to lure quality seasonal employees to your store instead of the likes of Amazon and Target, try these tips.

 

          CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

1.  Pay well. Competitive pay is one of the top concerns for hourly workers seeking jobs, according to a study earlier this year. Start by making sure your pay is at least competitive with—and ideally, a little higher than—similar retailers in your area. Most of the jobseekers in the study said $10-$11 an hour is a fair wage. 49530775_s.jpg

 

2.  Add incentives. In addition to base wages, try offering employees commission and end-of-season bonuses. Incentive-based pay motivates employees and means you don’t have to pay unless they deliver. You can also give employees in-store discounts. This not only makes them happy but also encourages more sales, since they’re likely to shop for their own holiday gifts at your store.

 

3.  Schedule smart. Getting enough hours is the top issue jobseekers in the study care about: The majority would like to work at least 36 hours a week. Hiring seasonal employees who essentially want to work full-time makes your life easier, too, since you have fewer people to train, schedule and juggle. Speaking of juggling, there are plenty of employee time-tracking and scheduling apps available that make it easy to plan schedules in advance, share them with employees online, make quick changes and keep workers in the loop. If you’re still using a homemade spreadsheet or pen and paper to plan your store schedule, search online for retail scheduling software to save you time and headaches.

 

4.  Promote your seasonal jobs like crazy. Add detailed information about job openings to your business website, and then promote them everywhere you can think of. In addition to online job listings, try:

  • Announcing your hiring on the homepage of your website
  • Putting signage in your store windows and at checkout
  • Sharing links to your hiring information on your social media accounts and encouraging people to spread the word

 

5. Hold a job fair. Big companies do it, so why shouldn’t you? Promoting your job fair in local publications and local websites can get more attention than help-wanted ads. If you don't have enough openings to justify a job fair just for your store, consider partnering with other small businesses near yours or the local Chamber of Commerce to hold a community job fair for independent businesses.

 

6.  Tap into your customer base. Do you have customers who come into your store all the time? Ask if they're interested in seasonal work. After all, they obviously love your products and probably know your stock pretty well. An in-store discount for seasonal workers would likely tempt them, too. You can also promote your seasonal job openings in your email marketing newsletters. Even if customers aren’t interested themselves, they may know others who are.

 

7.  Be prepared. Once you’ve hired your seasonal employees, get ready for the roller coaster that is the holiday shopping season. Prep for success by developing a plan to bring your seasonal employees up to speed quickly so you can hit the ground running.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: Recruiting and Retaining Talent in the Evolving Small Business Workplace

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of

America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

While you keep your head down running the macro and micro duties of your business, you may forget you are surrounded by people who can help run your business better—your employees! Your employees are on the front lines, often knowing what tasks are creating bottlenecks and even missed marketing opportunities.

 

Here are eight things that you should ask your employees about immediately. You can do it formally through one-on-one interviews, through a survey or even a good-old-fashioned suggestion box. But, regardless of what form you ask for the feedback, make sure you review and act on it afterwards!

 

1.  What do you spend too much time doing?

Feedback.jpg

 

Employees know exactly what the time-wasters are in business. Whether it’s an onerous form-filling process or other jobs that can be simplified, asking your employees for their input can help you streamline your operations.

 

2.  Where could technology make your job easier?

Technology is another great catalyst for making employees more productive. Ask them what tasks they wish were faster and

easier and see if they can be streamlined with a technology solution.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT CAROL ROTH

 

3.  What are customers complaining about?

Employees who interact with customers know where the business pain points are. If shipping is always making mistakes or you are constantly out of stock on bestselling items, your employees will be able to give you the head’s up on where you should be focused on.

 

4.  What do customers compliment us about?

On the flipside, employees who interact with customers also know what your business is doing well, so use that knowledge to make sure you focus on your differentiators.

 

5.  Are there other employees whose talents aren’t being fully utilized?

You may have talented employees that aren’t being used to their full extent and not even know it. A great way to find out who those employees are is via their peers. This helps you to not only get more from your staff, but also make sure that a good employee doesn’t get bored and leave because they aren’t being challenged.

 

6.  What do you wish we did differently or better?

There isn’t an employee around that doesn’t have an opinion (or twelve!) on what the company can do to improve, so ask them!

 

RELATED CONTENT: LITTLE THINGS MATTER TO RETAIN TOP EMPLOYEES

 

7.  Do you know any good people for a position?

One of the best sources of finding new employees that are a good cultural fit is through the employees who already work there. So, be sure to ask your employees about possible candidates for any job openings.

 

8.  Is there anything else you wish management knew?

Having an open-ended question allows for employees to share their specific insights on everything from their own goals and position to other important strategic aspects of the company.

 

Again, those working throughout the business are living and breathing it every single day and are a fountain of knowledge for business owners willing to listen.

 

About Carol Roth

 

Carol Roth Headshot for post.png

Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File™ legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Speaking at a conference recently, I was wrapping things up and opened the floor to questions. All started well enough, until this one guy got the mic. He just would not, well, shut up. His questions were all prefaced with lengthy monologues and the queries themselves were all about his specific, particular situation. On and on and on he went. Finally, with the audience clearly exasperated, I had to be more direct than I preferred, interrupted him, and told him I had to move on.

 

He was not happy.

 

Everyone else was.

 

It seems that no matter where you work, there is always someone who just doesn’t “get it” – people who are obnoxious, rude, lazy, loud, mean, narcissistic, selfish, manipulative, clueless, whatever. It is a wonder they ever get hired.

 

These are the people with very low levels of emotional intelligence.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT STEVE STRAUSS

 

To understand what this means, think of the opposite of that coworker: The people in the office who really do get it; the ones who are good listeners, good conversationalists, smart, witty, fun, bright, giving, hard-working, and friendly are the ones typically with a lot of emotional intelligence.

 

That’s the kind of person people like and bosses love.

 

So what is emotional intelligence, exactly? Emotional intelligence refers to a certain savviness with emotions, in regard to one’s own emotions as well as those of others. It includes the ability to comprehend and identify emotions, and apply them usefully to life’s daily tasks. Emotional intelligence also entails having a sense of empathy and the ability to understand and appreciate other peoples’ moods.

 

Psychology Today puts it this way:

 

“Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. It is generally said to include three skills:

 

1. Emotional awareness

2. The ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving, and

3. The ability to manage emotions, which includes regulating your own emotions and cheering up or calming down other people.”

 

It goes without saying that these sorts of skills come in very handy at work.

 

The concept of emotional intelligence has been ingraining itself into workplace discourse for a few years now. Relating emotional intelligence to workplace success is not an obscure idea; these days, it makes an actual, material, financial difference. And as such, as a boss or manager, it would behoove you to take emotional intelligence into consideration in the hiring, firing, and management of employees.

 

Consider the many benefits of hiring, supporting, and promoting the emotionally intelligent person:

 

They are empathetic: Hiring someone with empathy carries its own set of obvious benefits. Empathy allows people to understand and connect with others, a trait very valuable when dealing with co-workers - as well as customers. Empathy also helps create a tolerant work environment. Empathetic employees and managers are also, generally, well-liked and great team members. In short, empathy means someone has natural, effortless people skills.

 

28402228_s (1).jpgThey are self-aware: Emotionally intelligent people have a keen sense of self-awareness. They can identify the source of their emotions and reactions, understand how they are affecting other people, and respond to this knowledge accordingly. Compare that to those people who react strongly, irrationally, and without stopping to consider whether they might be justified.

 

With whom would you rather work? Exactly.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: Want to be a Great Boss? Develop these Traits

 

They are thoughtful: Emotionally intelligent people think before they act, which is important in so many aspects of work life: Making quick executive decisions, interacting with fellow employees, juggling deadlines, interacting with customers, and so on. People want to work with people who carefully consider the best course of action.

 

They are dynamic thinkers: People with high emotional intelligence can go beyond linear, black-and-white categorical thinking. They see gray. That type of dynamic thinking allows for resourcefulness, clever problem solving, and innovation – just the type of thing you want in today’s ever-changing and demanding workplace.

 

What I am suggesting is that, as a boss, it would be emotionally intelligent of you to prioritize emotional intelligence.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steve Strauss Headshot SBC.png

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

 

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

By Erin O'Donnell.

 

SuccessionPlan_Body.jpgMore than six out of 10 small business owners have no succession plan in place. That means they don't know what's going to happen to their company when they are no longer running it, according to a recent survey of 500 small business owners by Securian Financial Services.

 

Succession planning for your business is just as important as having a will for your family. Without it, your company's future, assets, and legacy are at risk.

 

What happens when the founder retires, or is disabled or dies? Planning today for these situations will ensure that your partners, employees, clients, and other stakeholders are not left at loose ends.

 

We spoke with Larry Grypp, president of the University of Cincinnati’s Goering Center for Family and Private Business, about the importance of a succession plan and what it should include. Read below for his recommendations:

 

First steps

Grypp says founders should be planning for their exit from the beginning. "Most people have done some thinking about it, but very few have a really organized, comprehensive plan," Grypp says.

 

Ideally, business owners should have the plan in place two to 10 years before they want to exit, to achieve a good transition, Grypp says. According to the Securian study, 33 percent of owners planned to sell to a third party, 25 percent expect to close up shop, 20 percent plan to transfer to a family member, and 20 percent plan to sell to a partner or key employee.

 

Choosing a successor

Succession plans should address both company ownership and leadership: who will make decisions and carry on the firm's vision and strategy. Many, but not all, family businesses are still taken over by the founder's children, other next-generation relatives, or a trusted employee.

 

Grypp recommends that businesses find an objective facilitator. Someone without an emotional stake will be able to guide conversations such as how the purchase will be financed, what the terms of the buyout will be, and how to transition from one leader to another. This could be an attorney, a business specialist, or someone else in your industry that has made a successful transition.

 

SuccessionPlan_PQ.jpgThe facilitator can also help determine whether the chosen successor is ready and capable of taking the reins. "If the founder's retirement is dependent on that business doing well after they leave, they want to make sure that the next generation has the ability to run the company competently," Grypp says.

 

Selling the business

If there is no successor inside the family or company, a small business can position itself to sell to a strategic buyer. Look for a competitor who would find value in acquiring your company. Another option is finding an investor. But be wary of pursuing investment if your company is very small, or highly dependent on you as the face of the business or the main point of contact for customers. An investor probably won't want the difficult task of finding a new leader who can fill your shoes.

 

Alternatively, you can set up an ESOP (employee stock ownership plan), which gives your workers shares in the company trust. According to the National Center for Employee Ownership, ESOPs are often used to buy the departing owner's shares. According to the site,  "The company can make tax-deductible cash contributions to the ESOP to buy out an owner's shares, or it can have the ESOP borrow money to buy the shares."

 

Value your company correctly

It's critical to determine the true worth of your company, Grypp says. Bring in a valuation expert and work closely with your accountant to get an accurate financial picture to ensure a fair sale or buyout price.

 

Communicate the plan

Who should be the first to know? Will you hold meetings or issue a press release? Decide how and when you will tell family members, partners, employees, vendors, clients—and possibly legislators and regulators—about the plans for transitioning your company's ownership and leadership.

 

A succession plan should be a living document that is periodically reviewed to make sure it fits the company's current needs. Just like a personal will, a business succession plan should clearly define the owner's intentions for the future and leave nothing to chance.

 

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Touchpoint Media Inc. to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Touchpoint Media Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Touchpoint Media Inc. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

 

©2017 Bank of America Corporation

It’s 8:00 p.m. on a Thursday night. A client has just sent you an urgent message, and you really want to get your team working on a solution now. Since everyone has 24/7 access to email, texts, and social media messages through their smartphones, getting in touch is a snap. But should you?

 

It’s a dilemma many business owners are faced with today. Finding the right work-life balance is a major concern for an ever-growing number of employees – but as the owner, you also have the needs of your business to consider. And with the lines between personal friends, work friends, and online friends so blurred, it can also be hard to know when it’s appropriate to connect, and when it’s not. So what are today’s ground rules when it comes to connecting with your employees during off hours? Here are the three  most important ones.

 

1. Make sure everyone knows what’s expected.

There are some businesses where after-hours contact is not just a possibility, but an integral part of the job – and that’s fine, as long as everyone is aware of that fact.

Shama Hyder Headshot.png

Whether it’s an ongoing need to keep an eye on emails through the weekend in case something comes up, or simply a position where 24/7 texts are part of the deal, as long as employees know what to expect then no one should complain.

 

The problems begin when employees who aren’t expecting after-hours work start getting work messages during this time.  Asking for a quick response to a texted question may not seem like a big deal, but if it comes unexpectedly at an inopportune time, it can cause resentment. No one wants to be that parent running out of their kid’s recital to take a call from work – but the fear of what would happen if they didn’t often makes the decision for them. By preparing employees in advance for the possibility of after-hours contact, they won’t feel blind-sided by it if you do send that text.

 

2. Stay professional, no matter what.

 

Sure, it may be Saturday morning. And sure, you may be pretty good friends with your employees. But when connecting with them during their off hours, it’s important to keep your messages and your demeanor professional. Whether you’re asking them to do some last-minute work on a project via email, or just commenting on a picture they posted on Facebook, always remember that you’re their boss.

 

Anything that would be considered inappropriate in the workplace – from an off-color joke to a political rant – should also be considered off-limits after hours. Otherwise, you could be looking at reactions ranging from embarrassment or anger, all the way to a lawsuit.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT SHAMA HYDER

 

3. Don’t go overboard.

Everyone needs downtime. And even though a quick email or text only takes a few minutes, the intrusion of anything work-related into personal time can make employees feel like they can never fully unplug. That affects not just employee morale, but also their productivity at work.

 

That’s why it’s a good idea to keep your after-hours messages to a minimum. Even too many casual social messages via Facebook can make your employees feel like their boss is always watching. Necessary work messages, yes. Friendly, professional comments and likes on social media, yes. But always be sure your employees are getting the personal time they need to really recharge.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: Employee Retention: Little Things Go a Long Way Toward Building a Small Business

 

44040400_m.jpgNot only will your employees thank you for following these three ground rules – so will your bottom line. When your team knows what to expect after hours that your messages will always be professional, and that you understand the value of their personal time as much as they do, they’ll be happier and more productive while at work – and so will you.  

 

About Shama Hyder

Shama Hyder is a visionary strategist for the digital age, a web and TV personality, a bestselling author, and the award-winning CEO of The Marketing Zen Group – a global online marketing and digital PR company. She has aptly been dubbed the “Zen Master of Marketing” by Entrepreneur Magazine and the “Millennial Master of the Universe” by FastCompany.com. Shama has also been honored at both the White House and The United Nations as one of the top 100 young entrepreneurs in the country. Shama has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious Technology Titan Emerging Company CEO award. She was named one of the “Top 25 Entrepreneurs under 25” by Business Week in 2009, one of the “Top 30 Under 30” Entrepreneurs in America in 2014 by Inc. Magazine, and to the Forbes “30 Under 30” list of movers and shakers for 2015. LinkedIn named Hyder one of its “Top Voices” in Marketing & Social Media. Her web show Shama TV was awarded the “Hermes Gold award for Educational Programming in Electronic Media” and most recently she was awarded the “Excellence in Social Media Entrepreneurship” award for 2016 by Anokhi Media.

 

Web: www.shamahyder.com or Twitter: @Shama.

 

You can read more articles from Shama Hyder by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Shama Hyder to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Shama Hyder is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Shama Hyder. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice. 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

A few years ago, a large franchise association conducted a survey of its franchisees to find out what separated the best from the rest.

 

Was it advertising, marketing, location? No, no, and no. The missing piece is you.Steve Strauss Headshot SBC.png

 

It goes without saying that there are many factors that contribute to a business’s overall success. Having loyal customers, standing out among the crowd, budgeting wisely and great customer service all come into play. However, there is one factor in particular that is as important as it is overlooked and undervalued, and it is the one that the franchise survey revealed:

 

The most important factor in creating a great small business? Being a good boss.

 

Yep, that’s right. The common denominator between the franchises where profit was solid and consistent, where employees were happy and devoted, and where customers were plentiful and consistent was the quality of the boss. Great bosses create great businesses and bad bosses create, if not bad, at least mediocre ones.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT STEVE STRAUSS

 

What this means will probably vary somewhat from business to business and from boss to boss – after all, everyone has different values, visions, and personalities. Just know that the type of boss you are makes a material and lasting difference in the overall success of your business.

 

Think about it. Bosses that manage in a way that is inclusive, friendly, open, and fun (but not too fun!) will most certainly have a happier staff. And, typically, happier employees make for happier customers and happy customers mean a happy boss. It all comes full circle:

 

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Happy boss = happy employees = happy customers = happy boss.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: IS YOUR CUSTOMER TELLING YOU WHAT THEY REALLY WANT?

 

So how can you become the best boss possible and build that happy workforce? In short, it comes down to creating a great work environment, fostering a positive culture, and doing the little things.

 

For starters, it is important to realize that studies have shown that a more relaxed work environment is very closely associated with a positive culture. Micromanaging is out. Trust is in. Respect matters. Similarly, a more relaxed work environment lessens an employee’s fear of making mistakes, and that in turn can allow people to take risks, innovate and test out new ideas.

 

And yet, while creating an environment where employees feel relaxed is one of the most important things you can do as their boss, it is not the only thing; indeed sometimes, it really is the little things that count even more.

 

Employees, just like anyone, want to feel valued and appreciated.  Simple things like giving someone recognition when they have done outstanding work can be just the incentive someone needs. Offering bonuses when warranted doesn’t hurt either. People like to feel noticed and appreciated; honoring that need is vital in creating a positive, extraordinary work environment.

 

A famous example of a big company that gets it is Google. Google’s philosophy is “to create the happiest, most productive workplace in the world.” The Google offices typically include a lot of little perks that add up to one big, positive culture:

 

  • Outdoor work areas

  • Complementary food and beverage

  • Private study rooms

  • Team activities, personally designed desks, and more.

 

Of course, small businesses do not have the budget that Google does, but the guiding principle can still be emulated in any office. Creating a workplace where employees feel valued and nurtured, where they are respected and listened to, a place where it is fun and creative to work, and where little things are done to show them they count is what makes a difference.

 

Quick Tips to Start Building a Great Culture for a Small Business:

 

1. Hire the right attitude for your business. It all starts in the beginning. A bad hire can dampen the mood and rub off on other employees. Make sure the person is the right fit for your company. For example, you wouldn’t want an unfriendly person working at a family-oriented restaurant.

2. Meet with your employees. This is a great way to build relationships and to give feedback on their performance, but remember to focus on their strengths rather than their weaknesses.

3. Have fun outside the office. As a small business owner, you might not have the budget to spend a day golfing, but you can host a summer picnic or other budget-friendly activities. This gives employees the opportunity to foster relationships with you and each other. People like working with people they like.

 

Employee retention matters. And you don’t have to Google that to know it’s a fact.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Steve Strauss Headshot New.pngTech companies are well-known for offering some of the best employee benefit plans. Why? Because they know that to attract and retain the best and the brightest, they need to be a place where people want to work.

 

Take Facebook for instance. The number of benefits offered by the social media giant is too long to list here, but the highlights include:

 

  • Financial: Pension and retirement plans; performance bonuses; stock options, charitable gift matching.
  • Insurance: Full health (including vision and dental); life and disability insurance; mental health; on-site healthcare.
  • Family: Flex-time; maternity and paternity leave; onsite childcare.
  • Vacation: Paid vacation; volunteer time off; sabbaticals.
  • Other perks: Free food; gym memberships; pet friendly; tuition assistance.

 

Fairly amazing, right?

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT STEVE STRAUSS

 

That said, of course we all know that owning a small business means operating under a tight budget, but what we don’t all know is providing a solid benefits package to your staff does not have to break the bank.

 

You may not be able to afford all the perks Facebook does, however you can probably offer more than you think.

 

At face value, it is certainly easier – and less expensive – to simply give your employees their regular paycheck and required worker’s comp insurance, but the truth is that providing benefits to your employees doesn’t cost, it pays.

 

There are plenty of advantages that come with providing extra benefits:

 

  • Good morale – Doing more than the bare minimum for your hardworking staff is a great and easy way to establish mutual trust and respect. This makes for motivated employees who feel incentivized, thus producing higher quality work.
  • Staff retention – A result of the above also means a lower turnover rate and fewer hours and resources spent on training. In turn, you will get more experienced and trustworthy staff; all of which creates a very positive corporate culture.
  • Healthy employees – Giving your staff health insurance and vacation days will keep their bodies moving and their minds clear.
  • Top talent – Smart, capable, motivated people usually won’t settle for a company that doesn’t provide them with added benefits.

 

45872722_s.jpgRELATED ARTICLES: SMALL BUSINESS RANSOMWARE ATTACKS. HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

 

According to a National Federation of Independent Business poll, health insurance (61 percent), paid vacation (75 percent), and paid sick days (59 percent) are the most common employee benefits offered by small businesses. It is the extra things you offer that often make the biggest difference (and again, they do not need to cost a lot). Here are some examples:

 

Wellness programs: Things like gym access and incentivized fitness programs are very desirable, and as an added bonus, can help reduce your healthcare premiums.

 

Supplemental insurance: Life insurance, for example, is very affordable and a nice perk.

 

Flex-time: Allowing your team to job share for instance, or simply to work when and where they want, is an easy way to be a great employer.

 

Employee discounts: Being able to purchase your company’s product or service at a discount is another desirable bonus; employees will appreciate feeling like a valued member of the team with privileges.

 

Commuting help: Having access to a free parking spot can be very important for a lot of people. By the same token, being bike friendly is becoming more and more popular (and easy to do).

 

Family friendly: Speaking of being friendly, creating a pet-friendly workplace, or one where the kids are welcome to visit, is an easy way to endear yourself to your staff. By the same token, maternity and paternity leave (even unpaid) is a pretty easy way to up your benefits package.

 

Time off: Taking another cue from the Facebook employee benefits playbook, what about offering people time off to volunteer, or building in some three-day weekends into your scheduling?

 

The bottom line: Small businesses need to do whatever they can to attract and retain top talent. Being employee friendly by offering a great benefits package is a critical component to a successful business.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Carol Roth Headshot.pngBy necessity, small business owners often rely on freelancers and independent contractors to expand their own business productivity. Whether you hire freelancers to replace vacationing employees or if you need help on specific projects, you need to ensure a seamless fit while understanding the legal requirements that govern their contracts.

 

These 6 tips can help you retain control over a variable workforce when you need your small business to operate like a larger one.

 

1. Know the law

In May, 2017, a new Freelance Isn't Free Act (FIFA) goes into effect in New York. This law essentially states that if a business hires a freelancer for $800 or more worth of work over six months (for either one project or a cumulative series of projects), a written agreement must be put in place. The term "freelancer" covers an independent contractor or any other worker not in a traditional employee-employer relationship.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT CAROL ROTH

 

It also outlines key items to be included in the contract and penalties for non-compliance, among other things.

 

Any municipality can impose legislation like FIFA that affects the company-freelancer relationship. In fact, other states might follow suit to impose similar laws — and laws can change at any time.

 

Before hiring freelancers, seek advice from a lawyer that knows employment law for any location where you plan to hire freelancers and where your own business is based. These attorneys typically also understand tax considerations, such as the very specific definition for identifying independent contractors used by the IRS. Local taxing bodies might have their own definitions as well.

 

2. Clarify job parameters before hiring

Let's say that you bring in an enthusiastic order entry person to clean up a backlog of orders. You described the order entry requirements in detail and you mentioned that paper filing will be part of the job. If you didn't mention that filing will actually be 75 percent of the job — and that the file room is hot and claustrophobic, the freelancer may walk out on the first day.

 

Training new freelancers costs money, so you want to maximize the chances upfront that the relationship will be a good fit. During the interview, qualifications are important, but you also need to spend significant time discussing the high and low points of the job. Your goal is to identify tasks that excite the applicant, but also paint a realistic picture of the less-attractive ones.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: IS YOUR SMALL BUSINESS READY TO GO TO MARS?

 

3. Pay close attention to payment matters upfront

Before work begins, take care of all payment issues. It all starts by obtaining a W-9 form from the freelancer, which enables you to issue a 1099 form at tax time. Make sure that your contract stipulates such issues as whether you agree to pay a specific dollar amount per project or an hourly rate, in which case, you need to identify the method of tracking time.

 

Don't forget to agree on a specific billing cycle, whether it's weekly, monthly or defined by progress in the project.

 

4. Set clear expectations and milestones

Freelancers are typically good at hitting the ground running, but only if they know what the ground looks like. They need to know the rules and your expectations.

 

Clearly define what they need to do, how to do it — and the quality checks that you expect them to perform. Set more than final deadlines; set intermediary milestones so that you can monitor their progress along the way. And, whenever possible, put it in writing.

 

Also, don't forget that some freelancers tend to take more autonomy for their projects. Make sure that they know when you expect them to seek permission and when they can make their own decisions. If they work directly with customers, do they need to know which specific people to deal with and which ones are out of bounds? Up-front instructions like these can potentially make or break your valued customer relationships.

 

61137173_s.jpg5. Use project management software

At one time, project management tools primarily focused on creating complex charts that detailed every step in a project while making interesting wallpaper. They still do that, of course, but they now perform a comprehensive range of functions, as well.

 

Particularly if you use cloud-based software, freelancers can keep you advised of where they are, what they're doing and how much time they're spending. You can retain project control from your smart phone 24/7.

 

6. Stay connected with remote workers

Some freelancers do their work within your workplace. However, for those that work remotely, you need to establish a good technological connection. Don’t take for granted that they might not have the same tools that you are used to working with, from spreadsheet programs to a secure way to access the Internet. Asking questions is always a good policy, even if it seems obvious.

 

Out of sight does not mean out of mind. Schedule regular one-on-one meetings or email check-ins to monitor progress and answer questions, communicate important project changes quickly and provide a list of resources that they can use to obtain quick answers when needed.

 

Freelancers are part of the team.

You hire freelancers to further your business goals. If they feel isolated from your staff or have inadequate equipment to do their jobs, they cannot provide the full assistance that you need.

 

Welcome them into the fold and make sure that everyone in your company does the same. After all, a valued freelancer might become a full-time employee someday.

 

About Carol Roth

Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File™ legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.pngRetail employee turnover rates are higher than they have been since before the Great Recession, according to the Hay Group. Hourly employees have the highest turnover rate in the retail industry, at 65 percent—and last year, almost 40 percent of HR professionals in a survey of retail organizations said their turnover increased.

 

In these tumultuous times, how can your retail store attract and retain the best retail employees?

 

RELATED ARTICLE: TOP TIPS FOR HIRING STUDENTS THIS SUMMER FOR YOUR SMALL BUSINESS

 

It’s All About the Apps

Start by getting your job posting on mobile device apps. More than 70 percent of respondents in a report on hourly workers used mobile apps to find their current jobs—more than the percentage that used desktops. If you want to attract hourly retail employees, you’ve got to go where they are—and for millennials (who make up most of the hourly workforce)—that’s on their smartphones. (A whopping 90 percent of millennial surveyed apply for jobs on their phones.) Posting job listings on job search websites with mobile apps will give you the widest range of candidates.

 

Hourly workers’ biggest pet peeve about job hunting, according to the survey, is when their application seems to go into a black hole. Once you receive applications, keep each applicant informed about the selection process and tell those you interview when the position has been filled.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

Treating job applicants poorly can damage your reputation on social media or online review sites. By treating prospective employees politely and fairly, you’ll have more candidates on your “short list” when the inevitable turnover occurs.

 

What Retail Employees Want

The types of job applicants you’ll see will vary widely. About half the hourly workers surveyed view their jobs as an entry-level step to a long-term career, while half don’t expect to be in their jobs more than a few years. But whether your job candidates are potential lifers or simply see your store as a steppingstone, here are five things they all want:

 

1. Sufficient hours: Getting scheduled for enough hours is the No. 1 concern of hourly workers—even more than their wages. Over half prefer to work 36 hours a week or more. You may want to consider hiring fewer workers and scheduling them full-time rather than splitting work among part-timers.

 

2. Competitive pay: Money does matter—it’s the No. 2 concern for hourly workers when searching for jobs. Most survey respondents say $10 to $11 per hour is a fair wage; nearly 20 percent make under $8 per hour. Look at what similar jobs in your area pay. Paying even slightly more than your competitors can give you a big edge. You can also offer hourly workers the chance to make more money through commission sales or bonuses. Finally, help them stretch their dollars by offering them a discount on products from your store or a voucher for a certain amount of free products each month.

 

41135539_s.jpg3. Flexibility: Flexible shifts are important for the one-third of hourly workers who have outside commitments (like childcare or attending school) that may limit their available hours. Accommodating employees’ scheduling needs helps retain them.

 

4. Location, location, location: Many hourly workers want jobs they can get to by walking or taking public transportation. If your store is near transportation hubs, highlight that in your job ads. Use localized keywords in your online job listings to attract nearby residents; advertise your openings at local colleges, adult education programs and career centers.

 

5. Wear it well: Almost one-third of hourly employees don’t want to wear a uniform. If you specify the colors, cut and style of acceptable clothing and then let employees choose their own wardrobes within those parameters, you can still have a consistent look for your store.

 

A little attention to what hourly employees want can make a big difference in attracting and retaining the best retail workers for your store.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.pngIf your small business relies on hiring seasonal summer employees, it’s not too early to think about hiring students. High schools and college summer breaks are weeks away, and the best job candidates may get snapped up early. Before you post your help wanted ad, check out my top tips for successfully hiring student employees.

 

1. Know the laws for hiring minors. The federal government has specific laws regulating the amount of hours minors can work, which industries they can work in, their minimum wage and the type of work they can do. The Department of Labor website has guidance, fact sheets and tools to help you.  You should also check with your state’s Department of Labor to see if there are any state-specific guidelines regarding employing minors.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

2. Partner with high schools and colleges. High schools and colleges typically have career centers where students can find out about jobs in their communities. List your summer jobs with local centers. If you are looking for students with a particular skill, consider establishing a relationship with a certain department, teacher or professor and reaching out to their students. For instance, if you own a graphic design business, you could work with a professor at a nearby graphic design institute.

 

3. Give applicants a glimpse inside your business. High school and college students have many other interests competing for their time, including extracurricular activities, volunteer work and sports. If you want to attract qualified students to your business, you’ll need to show them why it's a great place to work. Use social media to share photos and videos of your employees having fun at work or talking about why they enjoy their jobs. Or show how your business makes a difference in the community or beyond—that’s very important to young people today.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: REMOTE WORKERS ARE HAPPY WORKERS: MY TIPS FOR MAKING SMART HIRES

 

4. Enable mobile job applications. High school and college students do just about everything on their smartphones —and they expect to apply for jobs that way, too. Be sure to list your job openings on job boards that have mobile apps, such as Proven, Snagajob and Simply Hired. You’ll attract more student candidates that way.

 

42033419_s.jpg5. Set expectations. Don’t expect student employees to know what you want. Clearly state your expectations up front and provide plenty of training to get them acclimated.

 

6. Be patient. Today’s teens and young adults are less likely than earlier generations to have had jobs at a young age, and may need training in elements of the workplace that seem obvious to you, such as the importance of attendance, attitude and work ethic. Because they spend so much time online, on their phones and on social media, they may even need coaching on one-on-one interactions such as communicating with team members and making eye contact with customers.

 

7. Be flexible. If you expect to attract and keep student employees, you’ll need to be flexible with scheduling so you can accommodate their summer vacations and family activities. If you don't already use employee scheduling software, now's a good time to implement it. The right software will help you keep up with crazy schedules without losing your mind.

 

8. Stay in touch. If you find a student employee who’s a real gem, keep his or her information on file after summer ends. You might want to hire that employee back next summer (saving time on training) — or even hire him or her full-time after they graduate.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com.  A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Steve Strauss Headshot.pngDid you hear the story about the guy who went to the same office every day, worked at the same desk staring at the same computer, and clocked in and out at the same time every day?

 

Yeah, so did I…in 1997.

 

Nowadays, there is no real reason for anybody to go to an office every day, or any day for that matter. With the rise of digital technology and globalization, it has become common for teams to collaborate remotely; that is, working with other team members who live in different cities, or even completely different parts of the world.

 

This is the beauty of the modern age.

 

Collaborating remotely certainly has its benefits. A whopping 91% of employees feel that they will get more work done remotely than if they were to do their work in the office, according to Ayers Management. Maybe one reason for this is because over half of remote employees interact with their supervisor daily, whereas regular employees only tend to check in a couple times a month. The stronger the communication, the better the results.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT STEVE STRAUSS

 

While working with a remote team can be a new and exciting shift in the workplace paradigm, it also comes with its own sets of challenges and obstacles. Time zone differences, technical difficulties such as Wi-Fi connection or lagging video chat, and lacking that unbeatable element of face-to-face conversation are just a few of the hindrances that sometimes get in the way of fluid collaboration.

 

Luckily, there are plenty of tools to help you avoid such problems. Here are my top tips for working with a remote team:

 

Hire smart: Because that special X-factor of face-to-face interaction is missing, you must be more particular about whom you hire. You won’t be able to walk over to a cubicle to check on an employee’s work, so you have to make a point to hire people who: 

 

  • You can trust, and
  • Have a proven track record of being able to work independently

 

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Clearly, employees who need to be micromanaged will not be right for this type of job; instead, you will need people on your team who can rock a deadline, and those who can independently find solutions without much direction.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: WHY YOU SHOULD CONSIDER EXPORTING YOUR PRODUCT

 

Aside from trust, the other key is communication. You need to hire people who communicate well, who will respond in a timely fashion to emails and texts, and who ask questions and raise concerns without needing to be prompted. These are the people who will help you achieve success.

 

Get techy: What has made this work revolution possible are advancements in technology, so get your geek on and embrace it.

 

  • Use cloud-based chat software. For example, Microsoft 365 with Teams allows you to work collaboratively, in real time. Other good collaboration tools include Basecamp and Google Docs.
  • Video chat. When working remotely, video chatting is another secret ingredient to success. Not only do video chats help you stay connected, but it is also an essential tool for working together and bouncing ideas off one another. Skype, FaceTime, and Google+ chats are your best options.

 

Be available: Even though managing a remote team might make it easier for you to go about your day-to-day routine, it is vital that you remain available to your employees as much as needed. Thorough and consistent communication is one of the most important factors in establishing a successful remote team, so don’t underestimate the value of what it means for an employee to be able to shoot you a text or email whenever needed.

 

  • As a rule, it is a good idea to check in with your team on a regular basis, probably daily
  • Schedule times to talk with each team member individually

 

It can sometimes be hard to keep up with the rapid changes in the workplace, but working remotely might be one you should embrace. According to Ayers Management, 10.6% of employees who work remotely report feeling more valued at work, and in general report a 7% increased rate of happiness at work.

 

A happy employee almost always makes for truly excellent business.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

By Heather R. Johnson.

 

EmployeeFatigue_Body.jpgAmericans work longer hours, take less vacation time, and retire later than ever before. Our overstressed, overburdened, overconnected society also doesn’t get enough sleep, which makes those extended hours less productive.

 

A recent study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports more than a third of American adults don’t get the recommended seven or more hours of sleep each night. Regularly sleeping less than seven hours a day is associated with increased risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.

 

In the office, sleep-deprived employees have a harder time concentrating and learning and retaining information. These same employees miss work more often due to illness and injury than their rested colleagues. Harvard research shows sleep deprivation costs United States businesses $63.2 billion a year in lost productivity.

 

To keep employee engagement at its peak, it makes sense to ensure employees arrive to work rested. “There's nothing worse than feeling exhausted,” says sleep expert Christopher Lindholst, CEO of Restworks, which provides napping installations for businesses. “Showing your employees some understanding and providing a support solution will reduce both absenteeism and presenteeism,” the condition where employees are at the office but doing less than optimal work.

 

Following these simple solutions can help to promote restfulness among your employees. As an added benefit, you may improve your own sleep habits.

 

1. Offer flexible schedules

Allow employees to occasionally work from home or work around rush-hour traffic or school drop-off or pick-up times. This helps reduce stress and creates more opportunity for productivity-boosting rest.

 

EmployeeFatigue_PQ.jpg2. Limit overtime

Small business owners usually work long hours. Your employees don’t always have to. “Working more than a ‘regular shift’ on a long-term basis can be hard on people's physical and mental health, particularly if it means they aren’t getting sufficient sleep,” says Lindholst. Set a cap on the amount of hours employees work each day and discourage weekend work.

 

3. Create a nap room

A 20-minute nap boosts alertness and performance according to the National Sleep Foundation. Create a private space for employees to catch a quick nap during lunch or break time. An unused office or storage room with a couple sofas can suffice if space and budget are tight.

 

4. Get the team moving

Physical exercise counters the effects of sleepiness. Start a lunchtime walking group and consider holding walking or outdoor meetings when the weather permits. Encourage employees to stand, stretch, and walk throughout the day.

 

5. Use an app

Provide a sleep-enhancing app such as Sleep Cycle, which analyzes your sleep patterns. Sleepio uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help improve sleep. Restworks’ new app provides audio tips and tools to support healthy sleep habits.

 

6. Set a good example

Be a healthy-sleep-habits role model. Don’t send emails at odd hours. Save correspondence as drafts and send in the morning. Share your healthy sleep practices with staff. Also, notice your employees’ physical states. “We have employees with young children,” says Lindholst. “When I see employees who were obviously up most of the night, I encourage them to use our napping pod.”

 

If you notice your employees reaching liberally for the coffee, consider healthy sleep practices as part of your wellness plan. A more rested team is a more productive team, and that’s good for business and the bottom line.

 

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Touchpoint Media Inc. to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Touchpoint Media Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Touchpoint Media Inc. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

 

©2016 Bank of America Corporation

TeamBuilding_Body.jpgBy Robert Lerose.

 

It's one thing for employees to do their jobs competently but without deep commitment. On the other hand, if you can spur them to reach beyond themselves, support one another, and feel a shared sense of achievement that benefits everyone, then you'll know how a cohesive team of workers can ignite and transform your business.

 

Xero, an on-demand global company that provides cloud-based accounting software, recommends these actions for growing and nurturing creative, success-driven teams.

 

1. Define your vision for the business

Share your goals for the business with your employees. When you let them in on your future plans, the kind of culture you want to create, and their role in what you want to achieve, they will feel included and begin to find ways to make your vision a reality.

 

2. Involve your employees from the start

Make your employees part of your business by giving them useful, responsible work from day one. Assign them projects that challenge their abilities and help them grow. Giving new hires a mentor will accelerate their progress. Praising employees for satisfactory results will build loyalty to each other and to your business.

 

TeamBuilding_PQ.jpg3. Designate their roles clearly

Let every employee know what they're responsible for—and what they're not—and hold them accountable. Spelling out their jobs in straightforward terms can keep things on track and reduce disagreements among employees about job functions. 

 

4. Set up team-building activities

Doing assigned work is certainly necessary, but allot some time for non-work related activities that foster relationships. It could be anything from outside group activities such as company softball games to more low-key events like serving soft drinks and snacks every Friday afternoon. Asking employees what kinds of activities they would like to do binds them more deeply to your business.

 

5. Show team members that you value them

Getting to know your employees one-on-one—such as finding out about their family life or hobbies—is a sure way to bond with them, as long as you respect their privacy and comply with the law. Find ways to help your employees grow and develop their skills. If you help them achieve their career goals, they will help you achieve your vision.

 

6. Give your team freedom

Once you set a goal, don't micro-manage your workers. Instead, state the goal, set the guidelines—then step back and let your team figure out how they will accomplish it. Show them that you trust their abilities, and they will work hard not to disappoint you.

 

Establishing an environment that respects and fosters team building can lead to faster, long-range success for your business.

 

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Touchpoint Media Inc. to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Touchpoint Media Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Touchpoint Media Inc. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

 

©2016 Bank of America Corporation

Touchpoint

Hiring Seasonal Help

Posted by Touchpoint Nov 4, 2016
Retailers, restaurants, and other service businesses bring in up to 30 percent of their sales during the holidays, according to the National Retail Federation. Other businesses may experience a midyear surge or an unexpected sales boost from a new client or a merger.

 

To find quality employees that will help you make the most of a b usy season, think creatively and plan ahead. That means taking stock of the employees you have now—both full- and part-time—and determining where and when you’ll need additional help. Here are some of the items to start thinking a bout now, so you’re prepared when your busy season hits.

 

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Sources:
1: https://nrf.com/resources/consumer-data/holiday-headquarters
2: https://nrf.com/media/press-releases/90-percent-of-holiday-shoppers-still-have-lists-wrap
3: http://research.nrffoundation.com/Default.aspx?pg=9004#.V7txHlefREw
4: http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2014/ted_20141203.htm

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Touchpoint Media Inc. to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only.
Touchpoint Media Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license.
The third parties within articles are used under license from Touchpoint Media Inc.
Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.
Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2016 Bank of America Corporation

Jon-Dowst.gifHiring the right talent to grow your small business is an ever-present challenge filled with nuances and complexities – whether you’re a zealous entrepreneur running a brand new start-up, or a well-established organization experiencing exponential growth.

 

Last week I was on a Google+ Hangout panel along with Stephanie Bevegni from LinkedIn and Steve Strauss from USA TODAY, for the latest installment in the Bank of America Small Business Social Series: “Strategies for Navigating the Small Business Hiring Process.” Carol Roth from CNBC moderated our lively discussion, and you can view the full video replay here. Below I’ve provided a recap of several strategies and tips we shared, to help you attract skilled and experienced candidates that have strong potential for making substantial contributions to your small business:

 

1. Know What You Are Looking For

One of the first and most important steps for you to take is to identify the criteria and background you are looking for in candidates. According to the spring 2016 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report, nearly half of small business owners nationwide believe skill level is the most important factor when hiring a candidate. Twenty-four percent said the candidate’s fit with their company’s culture is the most important, and an additional 24 percent cited previous work experience. Only 3 percent rated educational background as the most important factor they consider when hiring a candidate. Take some time upfront to decide what specific factors and background will make a potential employee the right fit for your company, before you begin looking for candidates.

 

2. Screen Soft Skills and Do Your Homework on Potential Candidates

Once you’ve decided what you’re looking for – whether it’s a highly specialized skill set in computer programming, five years of experience managing a restaurant, or simply the right personality to greet clients and answer phones – it’s understandable that “soft skills” may not be top of mind when you’re hiring. Qualities such as leadership, collaboration, creativity and fit with company culture can be tough to screen for. One way to screen for soft skills is to ask behavioral questions during the interview such as “Tell me about a time when you were asked to do something you have never done before. How did you react? What did you learn?” Alternatively, ask an unexpected question such as “What is your favorite book, and why?” These types of questions will tell you a lot about a candidate both as a person and as an employee, about how they think on their feet, and if they will fit with your company’s culture. It is also important for you to do your homework – call past employers, check out their profiles on social media, and follow-up on references to make sure your potential hire possesses the qualities and characteristics they say they do. By looking at a candidate’s past behavior, you can more easily determine what they will be like to work with.

 

3. Perks, Benefits and Culture Win Over Candidates

When speaking with small business owners, we often hear that they experience challenges attracting top employees due to competition from larger companies. However, according to results from a LinkedIn survey, 87 percent of professionals said they wanted to work at a company of 200 employees or less. To attract these professionals to your business, it is important to offer competitive wages and benefits and to have a culture that makes your company a great place to work. While these types of offerings are critically important to attract and retain top talent, they also cost money.  A “free” way to attract and retain top talent is to simply be a great boss; make your business a comfortable and fun place to work.  If you are concerned about how you can grow your business or offer competitive wages, reach out to your small business banker as a resource. Your banker is available to offer advice and solutions for effectively managing growth.

 

4. Understand the Implications of Employee Classifications

The spring 2016 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report found 22 percent of small business owners plan to hire more employees in the year ahead. It’s a mixed bag among the various employee classifications – part-time employees, full-time employees, freelancers or independent contractors. There are pros and cons to hiring different types of workers. A full-time employee will give you more of a commitment, but it is more expensive to hire them – you will pay workers compensation insurance, unemployment insurance and match social security payments, not to mention the benefits you should offer to attract top talent. Independent contractors are less expensive, but it’s important to understand that you are not their boss and they will have other clients besides you. Regardless of approach, make sure you are hiring to meet your business needs and that you understand the full tax and financial implications. Small business bankers, accountants, mentors and peers can offer advice to help navigate the pros and cons.

 

Want to learn more? Click here to watch the full video replay of the Bank of America Small Business Social Series’ Google+ Hangout on “Tips for Navigating the Small Business Hiring Process.” Once again I’d like to thank CNBC’s Carol Roth for moderating our panel, as well my fellow panelists Stephanie Bevegni (Small Business Content Lead at LinkedIn) and Steve Strauss (Senior Small Business Columnist at USA TODAY) for offering tips and strategies that we hope will help you find and hire top talent for your small business.

 

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