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2020

Employee Raises.jpgIt’s the phrase employers dread hearing from their employee: “Can we talk?”

 

Often what follows is a request for a raise. As small businesses continue to struggle with retaining employees—this will likely come up more often in 2020.

 

If talking about raises has always been uncomfortable for you, knowing the right way to handle the conversation can leave you and your employees feeling satisfied and optimistic about your future working relationship.

 

But first, just how important are raises to employees?

 

Mo’ Money

 

According to a survey from Kelton Global, commissioned by QuickBooks Payroll, while health insurance and paid time off matter to employees, salary is important to showing how much you value them.

 

Not surprisingly, the survey shows 44% of small business employees are not satisfied with their pay and 49% of those surveyed complain their salaries haven’t kept up with the cost of living. And if they haven’t gotten a raise in the past year, 54% are not satisfied with their individual salaries and their overall compensation packages. Which of course leads to unhappy employees who believe they could be earning more money elsewhere (69%). More troubling, only 55% say they’d actually ask for a pay raise, so the first you’d know about their unhappiness with their salary, is when they quit.

 

Low salaries and financial worries are the leading causes of workplace stress, according to Dr. Greg Willard, a Harvard University professor and executive at Cangrade, a job candidate screening company. Stressed employees are usually less productive.

 

If you have been giving annual raises, don’t stop now. When asked what would happen if they didn’t get a raise this year, respondents said: They would immediately start looking for a new job (37%); request a meeting with the boss (30%); or ask for a new benefit to compensate (21%).

 

Bottom line, salary is important, and the survey shows more workers are motivated by making more money (41%) than by getting benefits (31%).

 

How Much is Enough?

 

You should arm yourself with competitive salary information. For an overview of salaries by industry and location, check out the Salary Data & Career Research Center (United States) or at Salary.com. To know what wages your competitors pay (those businesses who want to “steal” your employees), check out job offers on Indeed and Glassdoor.

 

It’s not a must to match the highest salary out there. Hopefully, there are other factors about working for your company that are an incentive for your employee to stay such as company culture, small perks, room for advancement, etc. Even a small raise might make the difference between keeping and losing a valued employee.

 

An Indeed survey about how workers feel about their salaries revealed employees would like enough money to live comfortably. Only 18% said their lives are “comfortable” with their current salaries, the majority (61%) thought a boost of $6,000 would do the trick.

 

According to the Kelton Global study, of the respondents looking for a raise this year, 52% plan on asking for a 5% increase or less, 41% plan to ask for a 6% to 10% raise and 7% will ask for more than a 10% boost.

 

Having “The Talk”

 

It’s important to make the conversation as comfortable as possible. Don’t be defensive or standoffish as employees will feel your vibe and immediately believe you don’t feel they’re worthy of the conversation, let alone the raise.

 

Assume your employee has a number in mind and will likely come to the meeting with knowledge of competing salaries and an expectation. Be prepared to talk about other non-direct compensation perks.

 

If the salary increase is tied to a performance review, underperforming employees will be disappointed, so you need to offer examples of where performance lacked and future expectations. Conversely, if the raise is substantial, the performance discussion should focus on the positive aspects of the employee’s performance.

 

Employees rarely think their raises are high enough. If business is tight, don’t alarm your employees, so they panic and immediately start looking for a new job. Be honest, saying, “business is tight right now, but in a few months we can consider another increase.”  Don’t say this if there’s no intention of following through.

 

No matter how hard the conversation may be for you as the boss, your employees trust you to respect and validate their value.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and Rieva+Lesonsky+Headshot.pngentrepreneurship, 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. ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

3 Great Emplyee Traits.jpgBefore I started the entrepreneurial chapter of my life, I managed a staff of 30 who ranged from recent college graduates to those nearing retirement. And, although they were at different life stages (and therefore had different motivations and goals), I tried to build a cohesive team that thought outside the box and worked collaboratively to build the best product possible.

 

Oh, there were some bad seeds every now and then, but I learned as you try to foster certain traits in your employees, you’ll be rewarded tenfold. I was always conscious of the bad bosses I’d had in my career and vowed to never be like them—creating a corporate “golden rule.”

 

These are the traits I found to be the most important to foster in employees.

 

1. Flexibility and adaptability

 

I believe in the “if it ain’t broke, break it” theory of management. Every so often I’d announce to my staff,  “let’s shake it up.” The end result was usually better—and even when it wasn’t, we still learned a valuable lesson.

 

For structured personalities, being flexible might be a difficult trait to learn. But, in a small business, everyone needs to be flexible enough to handle difficult situations and adaptable enough to come up with solutions.

 

The American Psychological Association reports there are three types of adaptability:

  • Cognitive: the way one thinks
  • Emotional: the way one feels
  • Behavioral: the way one acts

 

The idea is to make employees, well, comfortable with being pushed out of their comfort zone. Once they are, you end up with a team able to handle new challenges without flipping into crisis mode.

 

It’s important to lead by example when unpredictable events occur. Be calm and discuss possible solutions with your team. By showing your staff how compromise, collaboration and calmness can prevail, you’re modeling how to handle future challenges.

 

2. Perseverance

 

As an entrepreneur, you know the road to success is fraught with setbacks. You won’t succeed without having the “grit” to persevere and keep moving and the resiliency to bounce back when obstacles appear.

 

Fostering the same attitudes in your employees is just as important. When you assign a large or difficult project to an employee, explain the goal and the difficulty. Offer encouragement and support. Commiserate when needed. (I found feeding my staff kept them going). Fostering perseverance results in confident, resourceful and self-reliant workers who take pride in their work.

 

3. Self-confidence

 

You probably learned this on the playground in elementary school, but the more insecure a person is, the less willing they are to work with others and the more disruptive they are to your business. Sometimes insecurity in the workplace can lead to a toxic environment that breeds distrust and unhealthy competition. My most self-confident employees were the ones more willing to share and encourage others.

 

Some people are seemingly born confident, but it’s possible to “breed” confidence in those who lack it. One way to do that—recognition. Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report shows how “recognition motivates employees, gives them a sense of accomplishment and makes them feel appreciated for their work.”

 

The report says the “act of recognition also sends messages to other employees about what success looks like. In this way, recognition is both a tool for personal reward and an opportunity to reinforce the desired behavior to other employees.”

 

Being acknowledged for a job well-done instills self-confidence and encourages employees to accept more responsibility and greater challenges going forward. Adding a small reward (a $25 gift card; a comp day) encourages people to work harder.

 

Today’s business owners are worried about employee attraction and retention. Many businesses are focusing on the attraction part while ignoring the retention aspect. But making employees a valuable part of your team, fostering these traits and empowering them can lead to a better business with less turnover and more profitability.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and Rieva+Lesonsky+Headshot.pngentrepreneurship, 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. ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

Do you have a business expense reimbursement horror story? I bet you do. We all do. master-card-debit-card-210742.jpg

 

My latest is with a well-known company for whom I speak at events every year. The accounts payable people know me. I’m in the system. I’ve been submitting invoices to them for years. And yet, even so, last year it took five months to get my travel expenses for an event reimbursed.

 

I get it – I’m a small fish in a very large pond, but still. Imagine if I were an employee trying to get repaid for expenses I incurred on behalf of the company. I would not be a happy camper.

 

This issue is especially relevant for small businesses. Employees and accounting folk equally seem to dislike expense reports and reporting. One common solution then is to give company credit cards to appropriate staff members.

 

This intuitively makes sense, but does it work in actuality? Consider the pros and cons:

 

Pro: Ease of use. Let’s face it – expense reports are a pain in the rear for everyone. Employees don’t like filling them out (even if they are digital) and often do so late, and management often does not prioritize paying them. Expense reports take up time and eat up resources.

 

Giving employees credit cards may remove the need for cumbersome expense reports. And equally, it is easy for the bookkeeping team to review credit card bills and charges online. All in all, credit cards can make everyone’s lives easier.

 

Con: Overspending. Because the point of a credit card is to make spending easier, some employees may abuse that privilege.  Check with your credit card company to see if they offer employee misuse protection.

 

Watch this video about managing a credit line for your corporate credit card.

 

Pro: Happier, appreciative employees. On the other hand, having a company credit card makes taking clients out to dinner easy. Indeed, it can be stressful for some staff members to entertain clients or buy expensive items on their own dime, knowing it may take time to be reimbursed. Removing that stress will be much appreciated.

 

Similarly, the time savings of not having to fill out expense reports – and not having to wait to get them paid – will be very welcome as well.

 

Con: Comingling. Another downside is that, because using a company card is in fact so easy, it can sometimes be too easy for employees to accidentally (or accidentally on purpose) mix personal and business expenses. As such, two things are critical:

 

  • The employee must be someone you inherently trust
  • You need to remember the immortal words of Ronald Reagan about the Soviet Union regarding the SALT arms control treaty: “Trust but verify.” It will be incumbent on your bookkeeper to keep close tabs on credit card expenses.

 

For the employer, one benefit is that expense monitoring can be done more easily. Checking online for what has been charged can be done effortlessly, quietly, and as often as desired.

 

Learn how to easily manage your business with account alerts.

 

Pro: Card benefits. These days, credit card rewards are common, often generous, and so, if employees are using cards for company expenses, those card benefits will go to the business.

 

All in all, while there are definitely some risks to consider, they usually can be mitigated fairly easily and as such, the pros of issuing company credit cards usually outweigh the cons.

 

Next: Find the credit card to fit your business needs.

 

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 Steve+Strauss+Headshot+SBC.pngcolumn 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

Let’s say you hired a great team, operations are going smoothly and all your employees are thriving. You lean back in your chair, relax and say, “My job here is done.”  woman-sharing-her-presentation-with-her-colleagues-3153198.jpg

Soon your stellar team starts lagging and the quality of work no longer meets your expectations. Rather than hire new employees, which can be time-consuming and costly, you may start asking yourself “How can I motivate my team members?”

 

There are many ways to motivate employees that are not just focused on rewards and incentives. Here are five ways to bring the spark back and help boost performance.

 

1. Acknowledging good work – A simple thank you can go a long way. By showing an employee you notice the good work he/she is putting in, you inspire them to keep it up. You can also upgrade your typical ‘thank you for your hard work’ and go public by posting about your employees’ great work on your website or social media channels. With this extra step, you create a sense of appreciation and value in your employee.

 

2. Opportunity to grow – Knowing there are opportunities for promotion, employees are self-motivated to become more adept at their job. Take time to work with them to define a career path, and provide an overview of what their options are.

 

3. Encourage breaks – Create a work environment where it’s advised to take short breaks from working at a desk. Encourage going outside for fresh air or getting up to stretch and recharge. Another option is to Incorporate sit-stand desks that get employees moving while working. Texas A&M University research found employees using them are up to 46 percent more productive.

 

4. Provide external learning – Offering opportunities for employees to attend paid training sessions, lectures or networking events is a great way to help grow skills to further develop their career. In return, having a knowledgeable employee will benefit the business. Also, attending sessions and trainings is a great way to break up the day-to-day monotony.

 

5. Accept differences – Every employee is different. What works for one, might not work for another. Getting to know the people working for you is critical for having motivated employees. Acknowledging the individuality of each member on your team, and knowing that people are inspired by different things, is a vital step in effectively motivating employees.

 

So, take some time to grab coffee with your employees, ask them how they’re doing and find out what makes them happy. The benefits you reap from open communication far outweigh the costs of finding that extra time. 

 

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