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25 Posts authored by: Steve Strauss

Once upon a time, I got a great job in a town two hours from where I lived. Of course, within six months I realized my folly and so suggested that I be allowed to “tele-commute” (see, it really was quite a while ago!). pexels-andrea-piacquadio-3762940.jpg

 

The company agreed but it didn’t work out. I didn’t know enough about the business to work without direction and my boss didn’t know how to manage someone who was only in the office once a week. Within two months I was let go.

 

It was a good call. I was a lousy remote employee.

 

These days, not only are regular employees working from home, but there is a good chance your new hires will work remotely as well. Here are the six steps to hiring the right remote employee:

 

Know what to look for: Not all remote employees are created equal.

 

The ones who work out best have some combination of the following traits:

 

  • Independent problem solver
  • Great communication skills
  • A strong work ethic
  • Self-motivated self-starter
  • Responsive and coachable
  • Technologically savvy

 

2. Write a clear job description:

 

Both the job candidate and the eventual new employee will need to know, exactly, what the job will entail, what is expected, what the deliverables will be, how projects will be handled and coordinated, and what sort of check-ins and communication will be required.

 

3. Cast a wide net:

 

If you have hired before, you know the drill. You need to post your job listing on whatever sites and boards work for you, whether that be industry sites, Indeed.com, Monster, Craigslist, wherever.

 

And yet, while you do want to cast a wide net and attract the best people, with remote workers you also need to keep location and work conditions in mind. Are they in your time zone? Do they have reliable Internet service? Do they have a dedicated space from which to work? Will you want them to come into the office at all for in-person check ins periodically and are they able to?

 

4. Conduct a video interview:

 

One of the biggest obstacles to successful online recruitment is technology, specifically, people needing to cancel or reschedule interviews because of computer issues. To avoid this, let your candidates know well in advance what communication tools they will need, be it a laptop, a Skype account, etc.

 

The e-interview itself will serve the dual purpose of getting to know applicants, but also to see whether they are up to the technological challenge of working and communicating remotely.

 

5. Administer an aptitude test:

 

It might behoove you to give the top candidates some sort of test. It cannot take too long (you need to respect their time), 20 or 30 minutes is probably right, but it does need to give you some idea about their ability to work independently. A couple of examples would be to ask a sales candidate to write you a couple of cold sales pitch emails or have an accounting candidate calculate a simple expense exercise.

 

6. Hire, but with a caveat:

 

Job recruiters suggest that with remote employees, hiring on a probationary basis may make sense as it is simply more challenging to judge applicants via video.

 

That said, it is incumbent upon you to fully train the new staff member in both your procedures as well as your culture. Again, this is more difficult to do remotely, and as such, hiring with a caveat allows you and the new employee to work out the kinks and see if working this way together works.

 

The good news is that in the end, this thorough process should allow you to hire someone far better at remote working than I was.

 

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 steve+strauss+headshot.pngcolumnist for USA Today, his Ask/servlet/JiveServlet/downloadImage/38-3373-418524/steve+strauss+headshot.png 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 materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and 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. ©2020 Bank of America Corporation

Employee Feedback Loop.jpgIt is no secret people today look for authenticity when buying from a business.

 

This is especially true for millennials who expect their corporate partners to be real, genuine, to stand for something. The days of putting out a lame slogan and hoping to catch a few gullible pushovers is gone.

 

There are many reasons for this of course – the ubiquity of advertising, increased online transparency, the rise of micro-influencers, and so on, but the two biggest reasons are the Internet generally and social media specifically; we are living at a time when anyone has a platform to say anything and that means that feedback is immediate.

 

The rise of immediate feedback has had ripple effects in the office as well.

 

Not only do employees expect (and maybe even welcome) feedback, they also expect to be able to give it. Gone too are the days when a manager could threaten to put his cigarette out on my forehead and I would have no recourse. (A true, if sad, story.)

 

For employers, giving feedback has become almost critical, because feedback is a proven way to increase employee morale and engagement. And engagement needs increasing. Get this: According to Gallup, in 2019, only 35% of employees felt “engaged” (and that was a 20-year high). Maybe worse, 13% felt “actively disengaged.”

 

As such, many large companies are ditching the standard yearly review and instead are conducting what is being termed, a “continuous feedback loop.” A feedback loop essentially is an ongoing conversation between the employee and the employer as to how the worker is doing, feeling, performing and whether those things are meeting both parties’ expectations.

 

It begins with, of course, evaluating the employee’s work. One way to gauge this is to have SMART goals:

 

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Aligned
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

 

The idea is to set clear expectations for the employee while concurrently giving the manager concrete objectives by which to evaluate the employee’s performance.

 

What these companies want, and what you should consider, is to create an ongoing, regular exchange of ideas that gives each side thoughtful feedback geared towards meeting company objectives.

 

The main difference here is that while the often-dreaded yearly performance review is just that – a yearly event – a continuous feedback loop is an ongoing process that allows both the manager and the worker to make small changes and course corrections as needed (as opposed to the more zero-sum process of a good or bad, up or down, yearly evaluation.)

 

Therefore, to be successful, the feedback loop needs to be an ongoing process, otherwise it defeats the purpose. Indeed, a performance review for something that occurred many months in the past is likely of little value.

 

So, instead of the yearly written evaluation and sit-down, consider regular check-ins and one-on-ones between the boss/manager and the employee. These need not take long and can even be casual; they may even be better if kept more casual, as that makes it a more organic process.

 

For managers, this pivot should be welcome. With ongoing feedback being given, they can expect to put out fewer fires, have happier, more directed employees, and spend less time on “yearly evaluation week.”

 

For the worker, they should know better what is expected of them and can also expect happier higher-ups, given there will be less guessing, and happily, less second-guessing.

 

 

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 Asksteve strauss headshot.png 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./servlet/JiveServlet/downloadImage/38-3359-412423/steve+strauss+headshot.png

 

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 materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used under license from Steve Strauss.

 

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

What can your business do to ensure your workplace is friendly to the women in your workforce?

 

adult-business-computer-2422293.jpg

InHerSight, a website that allows women to anonymously rate how female-friendly their workplaces are, collected data on what makes an ideal work environment for women. These are the top four qualities for a female-friendly work environment:

 

1. Paid time off: Even as society works toward a more equitable division of labor in the office and at home, providing paid time off is critical for women to know that their workplace values their responsibilities outside of the their job. Paid time off allows employees to take a sick day without stress, to stay at home with a sick child if needed, or simply to ensure  vacation time with the kids.

 

Paid time off also includes paid maternity leave. For businesses with 50 employees or more, the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides “up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period to care for a newborn, adopted or foster child, or to care for a family member, or to attend to the employee’s own serious medical health condition.”

 

The FMLA rules may not cover your small business, but even so, giving female employees a paid maternity leave shows your commitment to their well-being and acknowledges the many stresses and complications that can come with building a family. And when your business cares for its workers, they will care for you.

 

2. Salary satisfaction: One of the key work issues for women is closing the gender pay gap, i.e., where men who have the same job titles as women are paid higher salaries. For women to know that their time is just as valuable and they are doing their jobs well as their male counterparts, you must make sure that a gender pay gap doesn’t exist in your company.

 

3. Culture: Due to historical power imbalances in the professional space, women often are focused on an office culture and how employees and management treat each other. According to the InHerSight survey, this includes being treated in “respectful, professional, and unbiased” ways. There are several different types of policies in the office you can set up in order to make this happen. They include:

 

a) Zero-tolerance harassment policies. To ensure women feel supported by management, creating a zero-tolerance policy toward any type of harassment is critical. This allows all employees to know they can be in an office environment where they can be free of any fear of verbal or sexual harassment while they work.

 

b) Bias training. Women often experience gender bias in the workplace, where their skills and knowledge are second-guessed. Workplace discrimination based on sex is a huge barrier to women feeling comfortable in the office, so training your workforce on how to avoid gender bias is crucial in creating a good workplace culture.

 

c) Mentorship programs. Women often have a more difficult time being recruited or promoted in the office. Mentorship programs, by women and for women, allow for those in senior positions to help women below them ask questions, get guidance, and further their careers with the help of someone who has been there.

 

4. Flex-time: Allowing  flexible work hours is a great way to make your office attractive to new employees and current ones alike. Instead of everyone working a required 9 - 5, letting employees work later on some days and leave earlier on others provides flexibility many appreciate.

 

Working remotely is another perk to help working parents spend more time with their families.

 

At the end of the day, none of these policies are difficult to implement  and  would be very welcome by your team.

 

Check out our Spotlight on Women Entrepreneurs for a collection of articles highlighting how to embrace the unique challenges women face and thrive as small business owners.

 

About Steve Strauss

 

Steve Strauss Headshot New.pngSteven 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.  ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

How do you go from small to big, or if not big, then at least bigger?

 

free-to-use-sounds-kOuCX7fh50U-unsplash.jpg

That question vexes many a small business person. Is it a matter of simply executing a good plan? Yes, but it’s more than that. Is it having a great idea? Partially. A better mousetrap? Maybe, sometimes.

 

But really, it is more than that, and simpler.

 

For any business to scale and get bigger, the journey begins with a single employee. Indeed, if you are going to grow, you need help, period. A great team is what creates a great business.

 

Here’s how to effectively hire that first person:

 

1. Plan: Probably the hardest part for solopreneurs is giving up control. Often it is not that they don't want to share the power, but rather, they just don’t know how. Figuring out what to let go of is a challenge.

 

The secret is to sit down, make a list of those things that you do which mustbe done by you (client acquisition for instance) and which things can and should be done by someone else (sales for example.) Then make a list of what the new person will do.

 

Then figure out how much you can pay the person, what their hours will be, where and how they will work, and what all of their other duties will be. Create a written job description.

 

2. Cast your net: Let your network know you are looking to hire and post the job description on job sites and even local colleges. This will ensure that you get a wide variety of applicants.

 

Learn the best sources for hiring talent, according to Rieva Lesonsky

 

3. Sort: Of course, you want someone with experience and smarts, but think outside the box a bit too. What elseis important to you? Is it skills, personality, connections or what? Pick people to interview who seem great, but who also may intrigue you just because.

 

4. Interview: Look for people who have the skills, smarts, background and experience, and with whom you connect. Ask yourself: Would I like to spend 8 hours a day with them?

 

5. Make it legal: Make sure you have an Employer Identification Number from the IRS. All employers must have one.

 

Next, have your attorney draft an employment contract. Be sure your contract states that the employee is “at-will” – meaning they can be fired at any time for any legal reason – so that there is no implied long-term promise of employment.

 

You also need to set up payroll. Will you do it by hand (the least expensive) or hire a service (the easiest)? How often will you pay them? Also, check with your state labor commission to see what posters you are legally required to hang.

 

6. Fill out the forms: There are plenty of forms you and your new employee must submit:

 

    • Federal law says you must report new employees within 20 days of hiring them. State laws might be shorter.
    • Each employee must fill out Form W-4.
    • If you work in a state with income tax, they need to also fill out a form for state tax withholding.
    • Also, have them fill out a Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, certifying they are legally eligible to work in the United Sates.

 

Good luck, it is a lot of work, but it should be worth it.

 

     Read next:

 

About Steve Strauss

 

Steve Strauss Headshot New.pngSteven 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.  ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

I don’t need to tell you that finding and retaining top talent is a challenge in this era of low unemployment. Not only are we small businesses competing for talent against other small businesses, but large corporations as well.

 

adult-career-clipboard-1919236.jpg

Needless to say, a main way to do it is to offer a good benefits package, and that must include quality healthcare.

 

But offering a good healthcare plan is sometimes easier said than done. As we all know all too well, healthcare costs keep rising, begging the question: How do you keep costs down while still making employees happy and also turning a profit?

 

No small task, that.

 

But it must be done.

 

So, to help you, here are four ways you can reduce your small business healthcare costs.

 

1. Offer a narrower product

 

The essential rule for healthcare costs is that the more options you offer, the more it will cost. As such, it makes sense that narrowing the options in your plan – fewer doctor choices and a tighter network – will help keep costs down.

 

I recently hosted a series of short healthcare podcasts for United Healthcare and one of our shows dealt with this very topic. My guest was a UHC cost specialist, Robert Horton. Robert explained that a narrower network can save an average of 3%, which is not insignificant.

 

2. Offer a high-deductible plan

 

Another option that small business owners utilize quite often is a high deductible plan. A high-deductible healthcare plan (HDHP) is as it sounds – in exchange for lower monthly premiums, the covered employee agrees to pay more out of pocket when the time comes to actually see a doctor. Once the deductible is met for the year, most things are covered; that’s why so many people end up getting expensive tests done late in the calendar year.

 

High deductible plans are good when you have a young and relatively healthy workforce; they care less about the high deductible as they use the coverage lees.

 

While raising the deductible amount is not ideal (none of the ideas are, but that is the state of the system we are in) at least this way you can still offer healthcare coverage.

 

3. Offer a Health Savings Account

 

Health savings accounts are a simple way for small business owners to provide healthcare coverage at a lower cost. HSAs are akin to an IRA or a personal savings account, except that the funds are earmarked for healthcare costs.

 

“A health savings account (HSA) is a pre-tax savings vehicle for people who have high deductible health insurance plans (HDHP) and want to set aside pre-tax dollars to pay for medical expenses. An HSA reduces employees’ out-of-pocket costs and lowers their year-end tax liability. It also reduces employer payroll taxes.”

 

Accordingly, to qualify for an HSA, you must already be enrolled in a HDHP. With an HSA, your payments are tax-free as long as they go towards qualified healthcare associated costs.

 

This type of plan is also really good for the microbusinesses and the self-employed who need more financial flexibility and lower insurance costs. (This is what I use, for example.)

 

4. Offer wellness incentives:

 

Small business owners know what it means to think outside of the box. There is no better way to think outside the box in terms of healthcare-associated costs than by offering wellness incentives.

 

Wellness incentives can be anything ranging from gym membership discounts or incentives for activity like riding a bike to work or bonuses based on proven participation in the wellness programs.

 

A well-designed wellness incentive plan is a win-win for both employers and employees: not only does help employers with healthcare costs (insurance companies look kindly on these sorts of programs), but also, they encourage employees to live well while also promoting a strong company culture.

 

Ultimately, there are many ways for your business to reduce healthcare costs. These are just a few options that might work for your small business.

 

Tackle Employee Mental Health Issues and Your Small Business Will Benefit by Chris Brogan

 

 

About Steve Strauss

 

Steve Strauss Headshot New.pngSteven 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.  ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

Employee Recognition.jpgDo you ever have a great check-in with a team member and wish that there was an organic opportunity to publicly recognize their contributions to your business? You’re in luck. Employee Appreciation Day is right around the corner.

 

While Employee Appreciation Day is not a legally recognized holiday (nobody officially gets the day off) it can be a great opportunity for management to set aside time to show their staff how appreciated they are.

 

Employee Appreciation Day falls on the first Friday of March each year (so you still have lots of time to brainstorm special ways to thank your team). Here are some thought starters on how to celebrate with your company:

 

1. Go public: Consider posting about your employees’ great work on your website or social media pages – this is a fun and easy way to show your staff that you care. It can mean a lot to your team that you are willing to share your sentiments publicly.

 

Who doesn’t love some social media recognition these days?

 

2. Don’t underestimate the power of food: Food is a tried and true way to give thanks. Sure, it’s a little clichéd, but it never gets old – everyone loves coming to work and being greeted by an array of treats. And the communal nature of food can help get your employees away from their desks to spend a few celebratory moments together.

 

3. Ask them what they want: Before I started my first business, I met with a SCORE counselor and got what I still think was some of the best small business advice ever:

 

Ask them what they want, then give them what they want.

 

I have used that advice, and spread that gospel, for years, mostly as it pertains to customers. But the truth is, it applies equally well to your staff.

 

As simple as it may seem, asking your employees what would make them feel appreciated can go a long way in creating an authentic connection. Taking this kind of initiative shows you aren’t going through the motions to gain empty brownie points, but rather shows that you care whether or not they genuinely feel appreciated. This will not only make it easier for you to determine the best way to show your appreciation but also fosters a positive and respectful workplace environment.

 

4. Customize it: It may be easier to present all of your employees with the same thank you gift, but it would be significantly more thoughtful and effective to customize your gifts for individual employees if you are able.

 

Tapping into each employee’s interests or passions in choosing gifts shows that you have taken the time to get to know them as a unique individual. This could mean gifting tickets to a local sports event, gift cards that help them pursue their hobbies, a certificate for a meal at their favorite restaurant, etc.

 

5. Say thank you: Saying “thank you” is the easiest thing any of us can do, but also seems to be the thing that is easiest to forget amid the bustle of the workday. It is important to do this on Employee Appreciation Day, but more importantly, it is the smart entrepreneur who does their best to make saying thanks a daily practice.

 

Employee Appreciation Day is a great tradition to start, but what it really teaches us is that every day should be Employee Appreciation Day.

 

How do you show employees that you appreciate them?  Let us know in the comments below.

 

 

About Steve Strauss

 

Steve Strauss Headshot New.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.  ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

Reward Employees.jpgHere is how not to reward employees:

 

One summer after law school, I got a job at a law firm with a dubious reputation, but hey, it was a job. The gig was fine, not great, and so I was surprised a few months later when the firm announced it was going to have a holiday party. The first clue we had that something was amiss was that we were explicitly told that no spouses or partners were allowed at the party.

 

A few weeks later we went to the party on, of all things, a Thursday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. Like I said, it was strange. But things got downright weird when the managing partner took to the microphone to announce that we still needed to bill for the two hours we had been at the party and so everyone was expected to go back to the office after it was over and work late.

 

Not surprisingly, I was thrilled when the firm let me go a few weeks later; it was like being sprung from jail.

 

There are right ways and wrong ways to reward employees. The important thing to note is that the right ways can pay big dividends long term as happy employees become loyal employees and loyal employees make for happy customers.

 

Here are six easy and great ways to reward employees:

 

1. Flexibility: Being flexible with your staff is simple and it can be incredibly useful in creating and maintaining a team willing to go the extra mile. Treating employees like adults and making accommodations for their lives and needs may not sound like an “employee benefit,” but if you have ever worked someplace where that is not the case, you know it is.

 

Letting people start work a bit late or leaving a bit early, or understanding that sometimes things come up during the work day, creates a cooperative culture. Your employees will appreciate and respect your flexibility, and that will in turn lead to loyalty and a happier work environment.

 

2. Special days off: It might be fun to let employees take the day off on their birthday, or anniversary, or Martin Luther King Day, or Purim, or whatever. Let them decide. When it comes to employee rewards, it is often the little things that lead to the best results.

 

3. Food/treats: As we all know, food is the way to a person’s heart and so, if you have the means to provide free food in the workplace, this can be a great benefit. Indeed, one thing you will notice if you ever see a profile of bigger businesses that get lauded for their employee benefits (think Google or Facebook) is that they consistently offer staff free food.

 

And note, it need not be free meals. If the budget is a little too tight to keep food in the office on a daily basis, consider bringing in bagels or donuts every week or two. Buy the staff lunch, grab coffee for everybody, etc.

 

4. Employee of the Month: This is one of the oldest tricks in the book, but it’s here because it works. The key to good employee benefits is that they make employees feel appreciated. People want to feel special, especially in a work setting, and they love it when their efforts are recognized. That is where the Employee of the Week or Month comes in. Yes, it may be a bit corny, but offering that recognition, along with a little prize, works.

 

5. Gifts/prizes: Speaking of prizes, offering up small gifts or prizes as incentives is a great way to ensure quality work. They don’t have to be grand or expensive things either. Everyone loves winning prizes/contest, regardless of what the reward actually is. You could offer tangible things, like gift cards, lunch paid for by the boss, candy, or movie tickets. You could offer up extra days off or a long lunch as potential prizes – the options are many.

 

6. Saying thank you: This one is the simplest and probably the most important. As a manager or business owner, it is your job to pay attention to how things are running, and how your employees are working and feeling. Take note of things that are going well, and look out for people who are going the extra mile, or have truly accomplished something special. Take a moment to thank these people earnestly and regularly. It will make a difference.

There are many fun, creative things you can do to keep your employees happy and motivated, and, happily, they don’t need to include working overtime.

 

 

About Steve Strauss

 

Steve Strauss Headshot New.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.  ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Not long ago, I took ten days off to go see our daughter, who is living and working in Spain. Upon my return, I was speaking with a colleague—another small business owner—and told her about the trip. Her response?

 

“Man, I wish I could take some time off.” Followed by a big sigh.

 

Interestingly, I didn’t say that I didn’t work for 10 days because, like most small business owners—indeed like most of us these days—it is difficult to completely unplug and get away; it is just so darned easy to stay in touch, for good or ill.

 

But my friend’s response was telling, especially around this time of year. Indeed, while summer is supposed to be a fun and more relaxing time, scheduling woes often restrict the entrepreneur.

 

But it need not be. With a little planning, everyone can get some time off this summer – even you!

 

You can do so in 5 easy steps:

 

Step 1: Communicate: Understandably, employees expect to be able to take time off in the summer, what with the kids being off from school, the nice weather, partners getting time off and what have you. So, your job as a small business owner is to run a shop that allows them to do just that, while still getting the job done.32488869_s.jpg

 

That begins with communication. Start early to get an idea of what everyone’s desired time off needs are. And, while you obviously do not want to be a jerk about it, it is important that you set deadlines for employees to submit vacation requests so that you have sufficient time to figure out how to fill absences, resolve scheduling conflicts, etc.

 

Step 2: Preparation: Once you know who wants to be gone when, then you can begin to prepare to schedule for the absences.

 

Also, have the people who are leaving create an outline of what they are working on, duties that need to be covered, and key contacts. Checklists can be very helpful. Files, data, and other relevant info must also be made both simple and accessible to the fill-in help.

 

Step 3: Divvy up the work: Instead of having only one person be responsible for covering for the absent employee, what often works better is to divide up the person’s duties and schedule among several colleagues. This is usually much easier on everyone involved.

 

Of course, if having staff go on vacation would leave you short-staffed, then you should start to look for, hire, and train temporary help now. With regard to vacation, your No. 1 priority should be to be a good boss, take care of the employees who take care of you, and give your team the time off they desire. If that means hiring, so be it.

 

Step 4: Offer incentives: You will likely find that certain weeks are more popular than others in terms of wanting time off. In that case, it would behoove you to offer other employees bonuses and other incentives for filling in during those peak popular periods.

 

Similarly, you can allow team members who have similar positions to trade time off and vacation dates. As long as the work gets done and the office doesn’t suffer, that should work.

 

Step 5: Apply all of this to you: It doesn’t serve you or your business to be like my colleague and bemoan your fate as an overworked entrepreneur.

 

You’re the boss. Be a good one. Especially to yourself. This means following the same protocol as above to the extent possible. Schedule time off. Let your team know when that’s going to be. Have fill-in assistance ready. And then get the heck out of Dodge for a while.

 

 

Related Content:

How to Enjoy Vacation and Keep Your Business Humming

6 Tips for Working Better with Freelancers

6 Things Entrepreneurs Can Do to Attract and Retain Good Employees

 

 

About Steve StraussSteve Strauss Headshot New.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 Success. © Steven 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

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

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:

 

retention.jpg

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

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

I have a friend who loves to tell prospective employers that he is “as honest as the day is long.” It seems to me, however, that having to announce how honest you are during the interview process is tantamount to declaring that you are probably not to be trusted, after all, isn’t being an honest employee a given? Why feel the need to highlight that?

 

Maybe that’s why he always seems to be looking for work.

 

But, it does bring up an interesting question: Just what traits are most important when hiring new staff? It is not an insignificant question, that’s for sure. After all, a new employee can improve morale, can become a new profit center, and can keep customers content.

 

On the other hand, they could do the exact opposite.

 

Steve-Strauss--in-article-Medium.png

 

If you let the wrong people in the door, there is no end to the potential havoc they may sow. They can steal from you, anger customers, hurt sales, not complete projects, or even sue you when they are eventually fired (i.e. alleging “wrongful termination”.)

 

So finding the right person or persons is critical. In a recent article here in the community, I shared three tips for hiring the right way, including thinking it through thoroughly beforehand, casting a wide net, and taking your time. Today, I want to drill down a bit more into the type of person to be looking for throughout that process; the type of employee that makes everyone better.

 

Let me suggest that there are three underrated traits that are more important than any other.

 

Of course you want someone who is smart and capable. Like being honest, that is a given. You likely want someone with some experience (although that is not always critical). Being dependable is also an obvious and important trait. These qualities can be easily discovered in the early stages of the hiring process. A person’s work and school history, and how they answer a few key questions can reveal if they have these “baseline” key traits.

 

Though often overlooked, here are three other characteristics that, if you find in a candidate, you can almost assure he or she will be a successful hire:

 

1. Coachability: A key characteristic of a great employee is the ability to adapt and grow. That is, can they not only take direction but can they incorporate that feedback, pivot, and make different and better choices? The ability to adjust and make changes is key to hiring an employee who fits in and does things the way you want them done.

 

Click here to read more articles from small business expert Steve Strauss

 

Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur, it’s also true that not everyone is cut out to be an employee (yes, that’s me you see raising my hand.) You want to be sure that the person you hire is able to take direction and incorporate feedback.

 

2. Independence: This may seem contradictory to coachability, but it’s not. Aside from finding someone whom you can easily train, you also want someone who can take the initiative and doesn’t need constant supervision. After all, one reason you are hiring employees is to lighten your load and unless they have the ability to think on their feet and do what they see needs to get done, your load won’t be very light.

 

3. Being a team player: The final piece of the hiring puzzle is finding someone who plays well with others. After all, no matter how coachable they are or how much initiative they may take, if they don’t work well as part of your overall team, they will be of little use to you. In the end, they will be a disruptive force and cause more harm than good.

 

So there you have it. You will know you have a winner candidate if you can locate that trainable, independent, team player, especially if they don’t boast about how honest they are.

 

 

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 listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

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.

 

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©2015 Bank of America Corporation


Steve Strauss

You’re Fired!

Posted by Steve Strauss Jul 15, 2015

I was once fired from a job because, my manager said, I did not “write well enough.” Given that this was two months before my first book was about to be published (though my manager didn’t know that fact), you can imagine my surprise, but that made it no less difficult. I had a wife and new child at home. What was I going to do? For me, getting fired was one of those “blessing in disguise” moments; it forced me to start my first real business. (And, yes, I must admit that I sent that manager an autographed copy of my book when it came out.)

 

But let’s be frank: Almost always, firing an employee is a tough situation for everyone involved. Of course it’s a life altering moment for the employee on many fronts – financially, ego-wise, with regard to future employment, just to name a few. But firing is difficult for everyone else involved too – for the manager tasked with sharing the bad news, for the morale of the office (usually), and for other employees who worry about their own jobs. Firing an employee can also be seen as a sign of failure on the part of the company; if the person had been vetted properly during the hiring process, firing may have been unnecessary. Firing isn’t easy on anybody.

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The final thing to note up front about firing someone is that it should be the last action in a fairly formal and very transparent process, the process being:

 

  • Identify the problem
  • Explain what performance / actions / benchmarks are expected instead
  • Provide training, coaching, and resources
  • Have follow-up performance reviews

 

All of these actions must be documented for two reasons:

 

First, documentation puts everyone on the same page: what is wrong and what needs to be righted can be seen in black and white.

 

Second, documentation is critical to the legal aspect of a potential firing – both proving that you were even-handed and fair throughout the process as well as creating a paper trail to prove your case, should you ever need it.

 

If, after documenting the transgressions and the requested course correction, you still do not see the desired results, then it is time to terminate the employee.

 

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You need to call a meeting and explain to the employee that he or she is being let go, and why. But, that said, if you have done your job right (above) the firing should come as no surprise.

 

One thing to note is that in most states, employees are considered “at will.” This means that they work at the will of their employer and can be fired for (almost) any reason, or no reason. I say “almost” any because you cannot fire someone for a discriminatory reason, that is, because of their race, gender, religion, and so on. You also cannot fire someone out of retaliation, for example, if they legally were required to attend jury duty and missed work.

 

The fired employee will need some practical logistical information that you need to have answers to:

 

  • When is their official end date?
  • When will they receive their last paycheck?
  • What will happen with their benefits?
  • Is there a severance package?

 

It is good practice to have a witness with you when firing the employee. The witness can testify that you followed proper procedure during the termination process, that you shared necessary information, and that you did not fire out of retaliation or discrimination. (And if you think a lot of this advice is to protect you legally should the employee later sue for wrongful termination, you are right.)

 

Final tip: Do not argue. Sure, you can and should explain your decision, but to the extent possible, make it short and simple, and reinforce what your documentation process identified. Afterwards, gather your team, talk about the firing, and what it means for them. Be aware that their emotions may also be running high and reassure them to the extent possible.

 

If you have followed this process and the ex-employee understands why you took the actions you did, it is highly unlikely that you will receive any backlash or legal challenge to the firing (and only in very rare cases will you receive a book from your ex-employee.)

 

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 listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

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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.

 

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