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For most business owners, retirement is either a subject they welcome or the last thing they want to think about. If you’re looking forward to that day, you’ve probably already started preparing to move on from your business. 

 

Many privately held companies reflect the people who’ve built them. In some cases, the owner is the business.

 

If you conclude that the company is viable without you there to run it, your next step is to get an accurate valuation of its worth. That is essential not just for  sale, but also in consideration of taxes and to help you gauge how much retirement income you might expect. A professional valuation and tax expert can help you look past your emotional attachment to the company, gauge its true value as well as the market for such a business, and arrive at a realistic number.

 

What Are Your Retirement Income Needs?

 

If you are planning on selling your business, you should determine how much income you will need to support your lifestyle and retirement goals, and what portion of that will come from the sale of the business compared with your investments and other assets. Keep in mind, too, that merely matching your current salary in retirement may not be enough if the business has also been paying for things like health insurance, car leases, club memberships and tax preparation – expenses that you will have to cover yourself.

 

Even after receiving a lump sum from a sale, many former business owners can stay involved and earn income by serving on the board of directors or consulting. You might even continue helping out in day-to-day operations in a reduced but vital role such as serving clients who’ve been with the company for years and are used to working with you.

 

If you own an office building or other physical assets, another option for generating retirement income is to retain those assets and lease or rent them back to the business. Such arrangements need to be agreed upon beforehand and spelled out clearly in the formal transfer or sale agreement with the new majority owners.

 

Bear in mind that there are very real advantages to beginning to prepare for it now.

 

Taking the time to plot your company’s future can ensure that you leave on your own terms. It also puts you in a better position to retain control, at least during any transition period. So that proceeds from your business -which in many cases are your biggest asset- have the greatest potential to provide you with a strong, steady retirement income.

 

How can you supplement Retirement Income?

If the proceeds from the business (sale of the business, physical assets, etc.) aren’t sufficient to cover retirement expenses, there are proactive steps that can be taken today to help reach the future you want, as well as increase employee satisfaction and retention. The first step is to have a conversation around the various Small Business Retirement Plan offerings to see which benefits best suit your employees, business, and yourself.

 

Small Business Retirement Plan offerings

  1. Small Business 401(k)
  2. SEP IRA
  3. SIMPLE IRA

 

Contact Merrill for assistance in choosing the correct Small Business Retirement Plan for your business.

 

Merrill, its affiliates, and financial advisors do not provide legal, tax, or accounting advice. You should consult your legal and/or tax advisors before making any financial decisions.  Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (also referred to as “MLPF&S” or “Merrill”) makes available certain investment products sponsored, managed, distributed or provided by companies that are affiliates of Bank of America Corporation (“BofA Corp.”). MLPF&S is a registered broker-dealer, Member SIPC and a wholly owned subsidiary of BofA Corp.  Banking products are provided by Bank of America, N.A., Member FDIC and a wholly owned subsidiary of BofA Corp.

 

Investment products:

 

Are Not FDIC Insured

Are Not Bank Guaranteed

May Lose Value

 

© 2019 Bank of America Corporation. All rights reserved.


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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.

 

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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

The way we communicate and language itself is always in flow. It’s alive. Words and entire methods of talking go in and out of vogue. Slang is naturally an issue because it can change quickly. And almost always, humans. feel like the new generation will be the murderers of clear communication. There are lots of feelings of ageism in both directions. We can’t address communication without considering somewhat generic generational differences.

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What’s changed even more than normal, though, is the velocity of all this.

 

I’m sharing this because it impacts internal and external interactions with your customers, employees, and all of your stakeholders. There are some concrete ways we can embrace some of this change while reinforcing what’s good about the way things typically have been. Let’s look at it all like problems.

 

Problem 1 - No One Teaches This

 

There may or may not be “proper business communication” courses in college, but I’m presuming that if there is it’s not one students are lining up to take. For one, it would be boring. For another, I’d presume it would be years out of date, seeing as language changes all the time.

 

But you can put together a quick “best practices for email” course at work (either in person or even a webcast kind of thing) and help people coming into the company (and refresh existing employees) as to how to better interact. You know, “Subject lines save time” and “How to get someone to answer your questions in fewer emails” and “How not to write an email.”

 

Teach everyone in the company how to start, fill, and stop an email so that it’s useful. Teach how to make and receive a business call, and so on. (If you’re cringing, realize this: it’s much better than the frustration of enduring responses that don’t match the company’s culture.)

 

Problem 2 - We Get Hung Up on the Look and Feel

 

Similar to problem 1, we all have to realize that incoming generations of business professionals were “born and raised” in a mobile-first communications environment. You and I might have been raised by word documents and emails. Newcomers to business started with text messages and tweets. Brief. Simple. And with quickly changing language.

 

If I tell my teenagers something like “One Punch Man needs a new season,” I’ll hear back “ikr” and that’s it. They’ve said, “I know, right?” but that’s not what is actually sent.

 

To the benefit of all parties and around communication, brevity is a great thing. Sending pictures and gifs and emojis is a good thing. It’s not yet all that acceptable in common business interactions, and there probably aren’t all that many legal documents with emoji or memes written into them, but there is a time and a place for them internally.

 

 

Problem 3 - We Hate the Phone

 

“The phone is just a seldom used app... on my phone.” - Gary Gulman

 

Verbal communication has fallen into deep decline, even though it’s still the second most effective way to communicate with another person. There are great times for a phone call. Sales close a lot better with phone support (nothing beats in-person, I know).

 

It’s helpful to teach everyone proper phone etiquette for different types of calls, including internal requests, consensus gathering, and so on. It might also help to train everyone how to use methods other than the phone for interactions. One big drawback to voice communication is that it must be conducted in real time. There are many situations where it’s easier to message someone than to talk via the phone.

 

Problem 4 - Communication Will Forever and Always Be Multi-Channel

 

This has changed and it will never go back: we all use more than one method to reach and interact with people. Think about messaging apps alone. You could text, Skype, Facetime, Slack, or DM someone on any number of social networks. You can use Whatsapp or Signal or Telegram, Line, or WeChat and so on and so on.

 

People now communicate with multiple channels in action. You might send an email, then text a follow up comment, and later switch to the company’s Slack channel to check in with the group. Companies who embrace this method usually get more done (and done faster) compared with those who force formal single-channel methods of interaction. Frustrating as it is (and there are some cool software tools that help mitigate this), this is how people communicate these days.

 

Problem 5 - Only Our Generation is Right

 

I said ageism plays a key role in fixing communications challenges at a company. It’s pretty much the core of all the other problems. Younger people think older people are too formal and stiff. Older people feel that the new generation doesn’t value interaction the same way.

 

Everyone is right and everyone is wrong and none of that matters. Communication is an art more than a straight recipe. There are great parts worth keeping in every communication method. There are parts that aren’t as preferred where people might have to meet in the middle. Every generation has a point of view, but also no generation is all that monolithic, either.

 

The best way to improve communication? Learn to listen more, ask more questions, and work on these “problems.”

 

You don’t, like, have to talk like anyone other than who you are, and it’s always way better to speak in your own diction than to ever try and use modern slang. (Don’t do it. Oh-kerrrr?) (I cringed even writing that.)

 

But DO understand that a much more conversational, visual, brief, and informal communications method is the nature of things. You can’t stay completely rigid and think that anyone finds your company modern or progressive. And yes, you come off as staid and stodgy if you don’t at least attempt to communicate a little less formally these days.

 

It’s not all going to be your cup of kombucha but understand that communication upgrades are business upgrades. If you help your company communicate better internally and externally, everyone benefits.

 

About Chris Brogan

 

chris-brogan-headshot.jpg

Chris Brogan is an author, keynote speaker and business advisor who helps companies update organizational interfaces to better support modern humans. The age of factory-sized interactions is over. We all come one to a pack. And it’s time to accept that we are all a little bit dented. Chris advisesleadership teams to empower team members by sharing actionable insights on talent development. He also works with marketing and communications teams to more effectively reach people who want to be seen and understood before they buy what a company sells.

 

Web: https://chrisbrogan.com Twitter: @ChrisBrogan

Read more from Chris Brogan

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Chris Brogan to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. The third parties within articles are used under license from Chris Brogan. 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

Before we can do amazing work with the people we most want to serve, we need our employees to feel appreciated and supported. Let’s talk about something on their plate that needs addressing.

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There’s a new challenge to most businesses, and that’s the mental wellbeing of employees.  We don’t talk about it much, yet with the advent of mobile devices, our home stress comes with us to work and our problems at the office find their way to our houses.

 

First off, very few people want to self-identify as dealing with mental health issues. But that doesn’t mean they’re not present. According to surveys like the World Health Organization’s 2017 workplace report, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness in a given year.

 

How can we help? And should we help?

 

Probably the most important ways managers and leaders and coworkers can make the workplace more navigable for people dealing with mental health challenges is to normalize talking about it.“Wow, I’ve been dealing with some stuff at home and it’s really got my anxiety levels up high.”

 

The key is to do more “I” talking than “you” talking. No one wants to hear, “You sure look stressed.” But if you say, “I’ve been slogging through depression lately. I’ve got to chunk up my day better,” that opens people to say, “Oh wow. Need me to listen?”

 

Chunk up assignments, projects, and everyday work with more checkpoints. One issue when mental health challenges happen is that everything feels a bit more daunting, more of a grind. Even if the deadline is the same, adding more checkpoints means that incremental progress is acknowledged and easier to reference. Sometimes, just knowing you’re getting work done helps reduce stress and anxiety.

 

Add a Reset Button

 

My best advice for helping is to install more “reset buttons.”At work, we get wound up sometimes. Deadlines, tough meetings, conflicting client needs can all contribute to a ratcheting feeling of intense emotions.

 

Culture improves immensely when you build the practice of reset buttons into place. The moment we see a little distress and energy in a person or a conversation, maybe say, “Maybe we can hit the reset button for a second.”

 

If everyone agrees, it’s a moment to stop talking, take a breath (or four) and reset the moment. How many times have you felt really ratcheted up in a moment but it’s just temporary? That’s what this helps.

 

Empathy Drives Amazing Business

 

If you work to help employees have a better environment for managing stress, anxiety and depression, that will result in better work performance and less absenteeism. Sure, this isn’t a quick “write better subject lines” fix or a piece of software to change the business, but is that what will earn you better employees and the best customers?

 

Help your employees feel heard, understood and nurtured, and you’ll have the best customer advocates in the world.

 

 

About Chris Brogan

 

chris-brogan-headshot.jpg

Chris Brogan is an author, keynote speaker and business advisor who helps companies update organizational interfaces to better support modern humans. The age of factory-sized interactions is over. We all come one to a pack. And it’s time to accept that we are all a little bit dented. Chris advisesleadership teams to empower team members by sharing actionable insights on talent development. He also works with marketing and communications teams to more effectively reach people who want to be seen and understood before they buy what a company sells.

 

Web: https://chrisbrogan.com Twitter: @ChrisBrogan

Read more from Chris Brogan

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Chris Brogan to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. The third parties within articles are used under license from Chris Brogan. 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

Take it from me, a CEO with a staff of two—no matter how few employees you have, there’s room to delegate.

 

If you use delegation strategically, your employees will gain needed experience and your business will be better off. Of course, not every task you delegate will be fun (someone has to answerall those emails). However, in addition to rote assignments, be sure to include some more challenging work that allows employees to stretch their capacities.

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I know, I know—you don’t want to give up any aspect of your “baby.” But delegation has many benefits for a small business owner:

 

  • It hones your leadership skills. If you don’t delegate, you’re not really the boss—you’re just an employee.
  • It expands your employees’ skills, enhancing their value to your business and their job satisfaction.
  • It frees up your time for long-range planning, innovation, business development, and other big-picture tasks.
  • It reduces your stress so you’re more effective and productive.

 

Follow these steps to get started.

 

Step 1: Choose duties to delegate

 

Make a list of the duties you’d like to pass on to your team. These could include:

 

    • Administrative tasks: Your time is too valuable to spend scheduling meetings, ordering office supplies, or booking travel arrangements.
    • Tasks you’re not good at: For example, my business is a lot better off if I’m not the one managing the books.
    • Tasks you hate doing: We tend to procrastinate on things we dread, which can hurt our businesses.
    • Tasks your employees are interested in: Find out what skills your employees want to learn that can help your business.

Step 2: Create a delegation plan

 

Once you’ve identified possible tasks to delegate, talk to your employees and create a game plan. If you delegate haphazardly or just hand off busywork, your employees won’t learn from the experience—they’ll just resent you.

 

If you’re nervous about handing off a task, ease yourself in by delegating just part of the job. For example, suppose your work involves gathering information, writing proposals, and creating sales presentations. Delegate the research to an employee and keep writing the proposals yourself. Or do the research and writing, then put an employee in charge of “jazzing it up” in a presentation. Starting small will help you get over your fears of delegation and help your employees gain confidence as they learn by doing.

 

Step 3: Educate your employees

 

When you delegate a task, take the time to educate the employee about how the task fits into the company as a whole and why it matters. People want to feel that the work they’re doing is valuable.

 

You may need to create directions or process guides for certain tasks. Having written documentation of how to do things will help as your business grows. Make sure employees have the tools, information, and authority they need to do the job.

 

Clearly explain your expectations, deadlines, and deliverables and make sure the employee understands them.

 

Step 4: Stand back

 

It’s hard not to micromanage employees once you’ve handed off a job. Of course, some processes must be followed to the letter, but if a task offers leeway for creativity, don’t insist the person do it exactly as you would. You’ll be surprised how often an employee comes up with a way to do something faster or better—that’s one of the benefits of delegating.

 

Step 5: Provide feedback

 

Let employees know they can ask you questions at any time. Check in regularly to see how they’re handling the task and what they’ve learned.

 

If an employee messes up, your instinct might be to fix the work yourself or take the job back (“I knew no one could do it right!”). Instead, provide honest feedback. Helping the employee learn from their mistakes will save you time in the long run as they gain experience.

 

Step 6: Delegate for growth

 

If you trust no one else to do the difficult work, your business can’t expand beyond your capacity. Delegate increasingly more challenging tasks and watch both your employees and your business grow.

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

If you’re having trouble finding qualified job candidates for your small business, you’re not alone. According to a survey by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and MetLife, 55 percent of small business owners are focusing more time and money on training existing employees because they can’t find qualified workers to hire. Eight in 10 are working longer or handling more duties to fill the void and 61 percent have asked existing employees to work more hours.

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Finding qualified job candidates starts with where you search. Here are the best places to find employees for your small business.

 

Online job boards

 

The secret to successfully listing jobs online is to choose the right job boards for your needs. If you want a high volume of candidates, Indeed.comis the best known and most popular job search site, and also lets you list jobs for free. Because of the volume of postings, however, your job might get lost so you’ll probably want to spend the money to promote your listing as a Sponsored job. You only pay per click, which helps keep this cost manageable.

 

GlassDoor and ZipRecruiter are also very popular mass job sites; however, they charge to post jobs. On both sites, you can choose a Standard plan where your job appears on the website, or a Premium plan where your jobs are included on job alert emails sent to jobseekers.

 

For a small business that doesn’t want hundreds of resumes, niche job boards can be a better option. Targeted to specific industries, they can deliver more focused results. Popular niche job boards include:

 

 

Outside the box (and around the world)

 

If you can’t find the talent you need in your community, look farther afield. Many jobs can be done remotely. You’ll have access to a much wider range of talent if you expand your job candidate search nationwide or even worldwide. Use We Work Remotely, FlexJobs, JustRemote,and Outsourcely to post remote jobs.

 

On social media

 

Sometimes the best candidates aren’t on job boards because they’re not actively seeking a job. Use social media to reach these “passive” job candidates. On LinkedIn, keep your eye out for people who might fit your needs, or use keywords related to the skills you need to find potential candidates. LinkedIn Recruiter Lite, designed for companies that hire only occasionally, lets you accessup to third-degree connections and gives you 30 free pieces of InMail per month to contact candidates. Another tactic is to post jobs on your Facebook Business Page, then use paid promotion on Facebook to boost their visibility to potential candidates.

 

At school

 

Looking for recent college graduates or entry-level employees? Contacting local colleges, high schools and trade/vocational schools is often a good way to find enthusiastic employees with up-to-the-moment skills. For example, if you’re looking for a marketing person, contact a local college with a strong marketing program.

 

Networking

 

Seeking job candidates in networking groups you belong to is a no-brainer, but why stop there? Find networking groups targeted to the role you want to fill (such as graphic designers or real estate agents) and see if any of their members are looking for a job.

 

Your employees

 

Promoting from within is a smart strategy for building employee loyalty. However, if you don’t have the necessary talent in-house, enlist your employees as recruiters. Have them spread the word that you’re looking to hire and offer a bonus for anyone who recommends a candidate that makes it through your probationary period.

 

Finding new hires isn’t easy—but by trying the routes above, you can boost your chances of discovering the perfect employee for your business.

 

     Read more about finding and retaining employees

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Do 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.

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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

It’s the time of year when business is booming and holiday celebrations abound. During this busy season, employees at many small businesses work harder than ever. Whatever your industry—retail, service or B2B—the year-end rush is real.

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Are you also remembering to celebrate your employees’ hard work?

 

Employee recognition is more than just a “nice thing to do.” Over two-thirds of HR professionals in an SHRM/Globoforce survey say employee recognition has a positive impact on employee retention. For small businesses in today’s competitive hiring landscape, that can make a big difference.

 

Here are 27 ideas for celebrating your staff’s hard work—at any time of the year.

 

Celebrate the individual.

 

Did one employee go above and beyond the call of duty? Treat them like a star.

 

    1. Give them their birthday off with pay.
    2. Buy them a comfy new ergonomic office chair or that standing desk they’ve been wanting.
    3. Give them a small budget to redecorate their office or workspace.
    4. Take them out to lunch.
    5. Buy them a tech tool that’s useful for work but also for fun, like noise-canceling headphones so they can focus (or listen to music).
    6. Say it with food. Give them a gift certificate to a favorite restaurant, pay for personal chef services for a night, or have a basket of their favorite dessert delivered to the office.
    7. Pay for a month’s worth of housecleaning or car detailing services.
    8. Give them the best parking space at work for a month. Put up a sign with their name on it in the space.
    9. Give them an all-expenses-paid weekend away with their significant other.
    10. Give them a gift card for a spa day or stress-relieving massage.
    11. Buy them tickets to an event they’ll enjoy, whether that’s a baseball game or the ballet.
    12. Pay for cooking lessons, golf lessons, dance lessons or whatever they want to learn.
    13. Write them a glowing LinkedIn recommendation.
    14. Give them a year’s subscription to a “something-of-the-month club.” You can find subscriptions for everything from food or cosmetics to neckties or coffee. 
    15. Buy them a membership to a local museum you know they’ll enjoy.

 

Celebrate the team.

 

Want to celebrate the achievements of a particular team, department or even the whole company? Make it a group gift or activity. (If your staff is mostly millennials, keep in mind they tend to prefer experiences to things.)

 

    1. Cater breakfast, lunch or dessert.
    2. Take the team out to lunch or dinner.
    3. Give everyone a comp day to take whenever they want.
    4. Knock off early and take the team to the movies. Buy everyone candy, popcorn and soda.
    5. Take the group to a sporting event.
    6. Go bowling.
    7. Play miniature golf.
    8. Have a paintball battle.
    9. Rent an ice skating or roller skating rink for the afternoon.
    10. Throw a party.
    11. If you think your team will like it, try something extreme. Take them zip lining, go bungee jumping or go for a ride in a hot-air balloon.
    12. Give everyone a bonus.

 

Rules for success

 

No matter what approach you take to celebrating your employees’ efforts, follow these three rules:

 

    1. Do it often. Don’t wait until the end of the year or annual review time to acknowledge hard work.
    2. Let employees have a voice in what kind of celebrations they want. Get ideas from your team to come up with a list of possibilities. Offer the employees you’re honoring a choice among different options.
    3. Be willing to invest. Put some money into employee recognition. According to an SHRM study, devoting at least 1 percent of payroll to an employee recognition program makes it more likely to be effective.

 

 

Read next:

 

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Millennial employees have a reputation as job hoppers. While that rep isn’t entirely undeserved, a new study by OC Tanner  reveals the problem isn’t millennials—it’s their jobs. Keep reading to find out what your company might be doing wrong and what you can do to retain your millennial employees.

 

Millennial misery by the numbers

 

The majority of millennials in the survey (60 percent) have worked at 2 – 4 companies. However, 24 percent have worked at five or more places.

 

Of course, many millennial employees are still in the early stages of their careers, when switching jobs is a natural way to explore options. But OC Tanner uncovered a vicious circle: The more often millennials switch jobs because they’re dissatisfied, the less satisfied they become. For instance:

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The growing dissatisfaction of millennial job-hoppers isn’t all that’s worrisome. When 20 percent of entry-level workers don’t trust their managers, and more than one-third are bored, feel stuck or believe work is damaging their health, there’s something seriously wrong.

 

Millennial retention tipsHow can you nip millennial job-hopping in the bud? It’s actually really easy to do. OC Tanner has identified six key aspects of company culture that people look for in a great place to work:

 

  • Purpose
  • Opportunity
  • Success
  • Appreciation
  • Wellbeing
  • Leadership

 

Companies that are even marginally better than average in these six categories enjoy a host of benefits, OC Tanner reports. Their employees are substantially more engaged. They’re more likely to be innovative. They have higher-than-average revenues. To boost your business “above average,” take these steps:Millennials have a lot to offer your business. Keep them happy at work, and their energy, passion and creativity will help power your company to new heights.

 

1. Purpose: Three-fourths of millennials in a Deloitte survey believe businesses have the potential to help solve society’s economic, environmental and social challenges—but just 47 percent believe businesses behave ethically, down from 62 percent last year. Give your employees a sense of purpose by clearly conveying your company’s vision and mission, how it contributes to making the world a better place, and the role their job plays in the big picture.

 

2. Opportunity: Even entry-level millennial employees want to strut their stuff. Give them ownership of a project or the opportunity to lead a group. Provide the tools and information they need, then let them take charge of the job.

 

3. Success: Providing growth opportunities helps millennial employees develop the skills they need for success. Be sure to celebrate both team and individual achievements.

 

4. Appreciation: Millennials crave feedback about their performance. Tell them how they’re doing daily, not just during performance reviews.

 

5. Wellbeing: Health insurance and flexible work schedules are two of the top benefits millennial employees want, Pentegra reports. See if your health insurance offers an employee wellness plan. Be open when employees want to adjust their work hours to accommodate not just family demands, but also personal passions such as traveling or training for a marathon.

 

6. Leadership: Two-way communication between management and millennial employees is essential to building trust. Transparency and honesty will help create bonds with millennial employees.

 

Millennials have a lot to offer your business. Keep them happy at work, and their energy, passion and creativity will help power your company to new heights.

 

Read next:

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

 

As the labor market continues to tighten, there are a significant number of jobs – about 6.7 million – remaining unfilled. That means for all businesses, and particularly small businesses that may have a harder time attracting talent, creativity in terms of seeking out potential employee candidates is imperative.

 

One group often overlooked is former entrepreneurs. Ex-entrepreneurs provide a wealth of experience that can be leveraged by a business to make a fantastic employee.

 

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Some businesses may be concerned that someone used to running the show wouldn’t thrive as an employee. However, Catherine Morgan, a business consultant with Point A to Point B Transitions, disagrees.

 

Morgan offers six reasons why former entrepreneurs make fantastic employees and should be a top consideration when looking for candidates.

 

1. Ex-Entrepreneurs Know How to Manage Change: As businesses are being disrupted by technology and market needs, Morgan says ex-entrepreneurs fit the bill perfectly. “Ex-entrepreneurs are comfortable in fluid environments. They will be able to more easily navigate management or market changes.” This is a skill that is hard to learn on the job.

 

2. Ex-Entrepreneurs Are Multi-Tasking Mavens: The ability to wear multiple hats might be overlooked on a resume, but shouldn’t be in the hiring process. Morgan points out that, “Many,  if not most,  companies are trying to do more with fewer resources. Entrepreneurs have learned a wide array of skills and have performed many job functions in their businesses. These professionals can be great additions in thinly staffed organizations because they can add value in multiple roles.”

 

3. Ex-Entrepreneurs Can Make Decisions: Decisive employees can help lift the burden of the CEO in a small business. As Morgan shares, “Ex-entrepreneurs are not afraid of making decisions because they made them every single day in their businesses. Decisiveness is one of their super powers.”

 

4. Ex-Entrepreneurs Understand Financial Implications of Decisions: While making decisions is one skill, understanding the financial implications is another. What business isn’t looking for employees who understand return on investment? This is even more critical for small businesses. “Many entrepreneurs have bootstrapped their businesses,” Morgan says. “Ex-entrepreneurs are hard-wired to evaluate costs and returns on investments. They may even show your company where it can save money!”

 

5. Ex-Entrepreneurs Will Bring a Fresh Perspective: Often, those that aren’t close to a business can see things that those inside can’t. It’s that whole “can’t see the forest for the trees” problem. Morgan says bringing in an ex-entrepreneur will give your company an outside perspective. “This can be especially helpful if most of your employees have been at your company for a long time. The ex-entrepreneur’s get-it-done attitude and experience as a business owner might be exactly what you need to shake things up.”

 

6. Ex-Entrepreneurs Are Resourceful: If you need help finding new markets to explore, launching new products or mastering a new technology, a former entrepreneur could be your best hire. Morgan emphatically agrees. “Hire an ex-entrepreneur! They are used to building the plane while flying it. Moreover, they tend to be life-long learners, so if they don’t know how to do something, they will figure it out along the way.” This is a compelling skill that is hard to uncover in a traditional search process.

 

Morgan also adds, “If you have a new position or a new business venture, you can’t find a better candidate than an ex-entrepreneur. In fact, you might want to actively recruit for one.” Having someone that is used to uncertainty and is agile can help you define and execute the role in ways that you can’t currently imagine.

 

Read next:

 

 

About Carol Roth

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

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

Here 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.

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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 becomeloyal 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.

 

Related content:

 

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

The U.S. government measures it, smart devices help us track it, and business leaders obsess about it. Productivity is the holy grail for business owners seeking to make their businesses more profitable.

 

Here are 10 hacks to help your employees be more productive at work.

 

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1. Encourage (or require) breaks. Whether your employees have desk jobs, manufacturing or service jobs, breaks are essential. One study found the most productive people work for 52 minutes at a stretch and then take a 17-minute break. Intense focus on work, followed by a break, rejuvenates both mental and physical energy.

 

2. Get employees moving. Breaks work best when they’re taken away from the desk, computer or workstation. Encourage your staff to do quick stretches (even as a group) or head outside for a short walk. Sit-stand desks let staffers get moving while working; Texas A&M University research found employees using them are up to 46 percent more productive.

3. Reduce distractions. For office workers, our always-on digital culture can lead to an endless cycle of checking email, chat, social media and then starting all over again. Reduce technology distractions with “meeting-free” days, “no email” days, work from home days or office quiet hours. Since email and other communication technologies are designed to be addictive, Deloitte suggests using apps to remind employees to take breaks.

 

4. Give workers autonomy. Don’t micromanage. Employees hate it, and unhappy workers are less productive. Research by the University of Melbourne shows managers who provide support and autonomy, rather than micromanaging, are more likely to have happier employees and greater workplace well-being.

 

5. Connect with workers’ deeper motivations. In some industries, such as food service, work requires following a set formula without much room for discretion. For this type of job, tying work in to an employee’s larger motivations, such as supporting their families, has been shown to boost productivity. Hold “bring your child to work” days, company picnics, and other family-friendly events that connect workers’ families and the job. If possible, allow employees flexible hours or other arrangements to meet their personal needs.

 

6. Provide stable hours. Do your employees’ hours and shifts change every week? Keeping schedule changes to a minimum has been shown to make businesses more productive. In a study with the Gap, consistent, predictable hours improved employee retention, making the stores more productive.

 

7. Create a variety of spaces. If you’ve adopted the open office trend, you may want to reconsider. Staples Annual Workplace Survey reports 37 percent of workers in open-plan offices consider their workspace distracting. Provide some quiet places, meeting rooms, and common spaces such as break rooms so employees can escape the open plan when necessary.

 

8. Light it up. Exposure to light strongly influences our alertness levels. Allow as much natural light into your workspace as you can, or purchase desk lamps that mimic natural light.

 

9. Allow remote work. Only 32 percent of employees spend all their work time at the office. More than half (57 percent) say working remotely removes distractions. Some 3.9 million workers currently telecommute at least half-time, according to the 2017 State of Telecommuting in the U.S. Employee Workforce report, which estimates half-time telecommuting boosts productivity by 15 percent.

 

10. Engage your employees. This really isn’t a hack—it’s a long-term project. According to  Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report, 85 percent of employees are either not engaged or actively disengaged at work, causing $7 trillion in lost productivity annually. Disengaged workers have 37 percent higher absenteeism, 49 percent more accidents, and 60 percent more errors and defects in their work, Harvard Business Review reports.

 

To increase employee engagement, treat your staff with respect, provide learning opportunities, offer competitive wages and benefits, and foster community at work. These actions aren’t quick fixes, but they’re worth the effort. Creating a team of engaged employees is the best way to boost your business’s productivity

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©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

Miss the first big problem small business owners struggle with? Find it here.

 

Unemployment is at record low levels—great news for employees, but not so much for employers.

 

For the third straight year, employee retention is the top challenge cited by HR managers in a survey by SHRM/Globoforce. According to the ADP report Evolution of Work 2.0, almost two-thirds of employees are looking for new jobs, and many workers not actively seeking new jobs would consider a job offer.

 

Employee turnover is costly and disruptive—especially for a small business. HR Dive reports that when an employee leaves, companies spend one-third of the person’s salary (an average of $15,000) to find a replacement. With small staffs to begin with, the loss of a key employee can cripple your business, further cutting into profits.

 

How to Retain Employees

 

1. Put your money where your mouth is. If employees can get sizable pay bumps by switching employers, it will be harder to keep them on board. Make sure your wages are competitive. Provide opportunities for employees to make more money through bonus or profit-sharing plans. This is more affordable than offering big raises, since you only pay if the company is doing well.85126505_s.jpg

 

2. Offer employee benefits. Benefits are growing in importance, MetLife’s 15th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study reveals. While health insurance is the top benefit employees want, 54% of the employees surveyed also want their employers to provide benefits that help them build financial security, such as a retirement plan. In addition, 58% want the option to choose from a wide range of benefits. You don’t have to foot the entire bill for employee benefits: The majority of workers surveyed are willing to pay for part of their benefits. Choosing a benefits package that gives your employees options is a great way to meet the needs of everyone on your team.

 

     More on this: Four Things Small Business Owners Should Consider Before Offering Employee Healthcare

 

3. Build relationships. Relationships with coworkers and managers are critical to employee satisfaction and engagement, ADP reports. The top reason employees in their survey left their jobs was because of their direct manager. As a small business owner, you’re uniquely positioned to get to know your employees—and how they get along with each other. Take steps to encourage relationship building among employees. Consider celebrating birthdays and other milestones, holding lunchtime potlucks, or starting a bowling or softball league.

        

          More on this: The importance of employee perks and how you can offer more than you think

 

4. Provide employee recognition. Everyone wants to feel respected and needed. More than eight in 10 workers in the ADP survey say they want to make a difference at work and feel that they play an important role. When it comes to recognition, little things—like praising employees in front of the team—can make a big difference. Check out these employee recognition ideas.

 

How to Recruit Employees

 

1. Plan ahead. Identify your highest-value employees—they’re likely at the biggest risk of leaving. Create a plan for how you would replace them, whether by recruiting outside or inside the company. Cross-training is a great way to build a “bench” so you can promote from within. Create detailed job descriptions for every position on your team if you don’t already have them; that way, you’ll be ready to advertise at a moment’s notice.

 

2. Keep recruiting. Stay alert for potential candidates on social media platforms such as LinkedIn. Pay attention to people in your industry you might like to have on your team one day. Developing relationships now can pay off in the future.

 

3. Promote your company as a great place to work. Job candidates will go online to get an idea of what it’s really like to work at your business. Use social media and your business website to share your corporate culture, spread the word about open positions, and spotlight your staff members.

 

An employee-friendly corporate culture is a strong antidote for the employee crisis. And in the end, it will save you time and money.

 

Read more on this topic: 6 Things Entrepreneurs Can Do to Attract and Retain Good Employees

 

 

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

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

Friday, March 2, is Employee Appreciation Day. Have you made plans to show your employees you care?

 

If you think appreciation isn’t a big deal to your team, think again. In one study, 22 percent of managers didn’t think employee recognition had a big effect on their staffs—but 70 percent of employees said their motivation and morale would “massively” improve if managers provided regular recognition.

 

Unfortunately, employee recognition is often absent from the workplace. Almost half (45 percent) of 2,700 US workers in a study by Globoforce say they haven’t been recognized at work in six months or more. Worse yet, 16 percent say they have never been recognized at work.

 

If you recognize your own workplace in some of those statistics, don’t worry: It’s not too late to change. Here are 11 ways you can show employees your appreciation on Employee Appreciation Day (or any other day):63538296_s.jpg

 

  1. Throw a party: Hold a party at work or better yet, pick an outside venue and enjoy catering.
  2. Show employees you value their health: Give everyone a free fitness monitor so they can track their steps or set alerts to remind them to get up and stretch.
  3. Feed them: Surprise your team with free food – it’s always a great way to celebrate and show how much you appreciate them. You could set up an ice-cream sundae bar or cookie buffet around 3 PM when everyone’s flagging. Bringing in breakfast is also a nice surprise – and everyone loves pizza lunches.
  4. Put it in writing: Craft a hand-written note to each employee thanking them for their hard work, and share something specific that you appreciate about them. For example, “I appreciate how you always step up to take a leadership role,” or “I appreciate how your attention to detail helps make our shipments more accurate.”
  5. Give gift cards: Gift cards are always the number-one seller at holiday time, and your employees will love them any time of year. Look for gift cards that everyone can use, or tailor them to specific employees’ interests if you’re aware of them.
  6. Go to the movies: With the price of movie tickets constantly rising, just about every employee will appreciate the gift of free movie tickets.
  7. Pamper them: Bring in a local massage therapist to give everyone shoulder and neck massages in the office. Or hire a yoga instructor to lead a class.
  8. Give the gift of time: Give your employees Employee Appreciation Day off with pay or let them leave work early. (With Employee Appreciation Day falling on a Friday this year, what better way to show your appreciation than a three-day weekend?)
  9. Upgrade their workstations: Show your employees your appreciation with new, ergonomic desk chairs, new computers, mobile devices or other tools to make their work lives easier.
  10. Offer a choice: Why not let employees choose their own appreciation rewards? Set a dollar limit and within that amount, let each employee buy something they want.
  11. Put it to a vote: Come up with a few different ideas to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day. Share them with the employees, then take a vote and let the majority decide.

 

No matter what you decide to do for Employee Appreciation Day, be sure to follow the most important rule: Don’t make showing your appreciation a once-a-year event. Make a plan for regularly, consistently reaching out to show your employees how much you value their hard work. The results will be well worth it.

 

Related content:

The importance of employee perks and how you can offer more than you think

6 Things Entrepreneurs Can Do to Attract and Retain Good Employees

Do you Hire Writers for your Business? Time to Say Thanks

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

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

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