Policies and Practices

SPRING PREPARATION #1

Have you updated the I-9 form you need to use to ensure all employees are eligible to work in the USA? If not, the new form became effective in January:    I-9 form

It is also smart to take a look at your federally required posters. While updated versions are available from several sources, you do not need to spend that money as you can just download these directly.

Not sure which posters you may need? Start with the ‘e-laws’ help section which asks about the number of employees you have and what sort of business you are in to help show the posters you may need. http://webapps.dol.gov/elaws/posters.htm

Here are the most commonly required posters for small organizations, check for others if you have more than 49 employees.

Equal Opportunity
https://www.dol.gov/ofccp/regs/compliance/posters/pdf/eeopost.pdf

Fair Labor Standards Act
https://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/minwageP.pdf

Occupational Health and Safety
https://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3165.pdf

Military Service Rights (USERRA)
https://www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra/USERRA_Federal.pdf

Polygraph (yes, really even if you do not have anything to do with such tests)
https://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/eppac.pdf

 

State Posters

VA
http://www.vec.virginia.gov/employers/Required-Posters-for-Virginia-Employers

MD
https://www.dllr.state.md.us/oeope/poster.shtml

DC
https://does.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/does/page_content/attachments/EMPLOYEE%20INFORMATION%20AND%20EMPLOYER%20POSTING%20REQUIREMENTS.pdf

 

You can put a copy of these posters onto a bulletin board or hang them on a clipboard.  Hang them where employees can see them,  use your kitchen or break room or other space open to all employees.   Keep it simple.

By |March 3rd, 2017|Communications, Policies and Practices|Comments Off on SPRING PREPARATION #1

New Overtime Tips

The salary level test for the Fair Labor Standards Act is rising on December 1 to $913 per week ($47,476 annually.) The duties test and salary basis test are unchanged. This means you must take action by December 1 to review the impact on your organization and make any needed adjustments. Many small organizations do not understand or comply with the duties tests –  this can present significant legal and financial risks if an employee or ex-employee reports you to the state wages and hours agency or seeks out an employment attorney. You may have seen legal ads for failure to pay overtime cases on TV in fact.

I did a webinar for the Alexandria SBDC on the new overtime rules – both the webinar and the annotated slides are available free. The webinar or slides can guide your thinking and action planning so that you are ready.

The New Overtime Law Webinar

The annotated slides

Guidance from the US Department of Labor  –  https://www.dol.gov/WHD/overtime/final2016/

It is smart to get started now on assessing the impact of the new salary level on your organization, as well as reviewing your compliance with existing duties test rules.  This process includes assessing what makes the most sense in terms of your desired or existing culture and extensive communications.  Ideas for these areas are included in the webinar and slides.

By |August 8th, 2016|Compensation, Policies and Practices|Comments Off on New Overtime Tips

Lessons from Biltmore

Recently, on vacation, I visited the Biltmore Estate and saw a staff which was what any organization would want. Each person I came in contact with was positive, helpful, and focused on what they could do to make my visit enjoyable. It made the day a real pleasure.  I spent money I might not have and got experiences I really enjoyed.  I even tweeted about Biltmore and its great staff.

If you want this for your organization, you need to focus on setting the conditions for people to succeed in their work. No matter how small you are now, these aspects are critical:

Hiring the right people
Training each person in their current role and developing them for the future
Providing an environment that supports everyone there
Managing effectively and consistently

Too often these seem like climbing Mt. Everest – more effort and cost than you can sustain. But, in fact, investing in your people leads to higher financial returns and lower long-term costs. For years the management gurus have pointed to the difference in how Walmart and Costco pay and treat their employees. Costco spends more on pay, benefits, and training but has higher profits. Now Walmart has begun to raise pay and benefits to attract and retain better employees to enhance the company’s future growth and profitability.

Take a look at your organization and assess your current practices. What could you do to improve these and help grow your future success? Each small step forward can make a real difference.

Help is available in other articles on this website, the SBA has an extensive online training program, and your local SBDC can assist you. The real issue for most of us is to take the first […]

By |June 7th, 2016|culture, Policies and Practices, values|Comments Off on Lessons from Biltmore

March 2016 News You Can Use

Many of my clients have some form of ‘respectful workplace’ policy or practice to guide employees on discrimination, harassment, and violence in the workplace. Whether you have such a policy or not, you may want to decide what you want to do about guns in the workplace if you are a Virginia employer.

While Virginia allows both open and concealed carry and makes many restrictions on carrying guns limited, employers can prohibit guns in their workplace. You cannot prevent them generally from being locked in cars in parking areas though. As you consider a new policy or statement in your employee handbook, consider adding other potential weapons to it.

A sample statement:

Organization name X strictly prohibits the possession, use, and/ or sale of all types of weapons on work premises or while engaged in company business off premises except where expressly authorized by X and permitted by state and local laws. This policy applies to all employees, including those who have a valid permit to carry a firearm. Weapons include but are not limited to all types of guns, explosives, and knives or other edged weapons.

Further you may want to consider whether you need a plan, employee guidance, and training related to ‘active shooter’ issues. There are very good resources listed and linked on this Homeland Security page:
https://www.dhs.gov/active-shooter-preparedness

Many local police departments will assist in assessing vulnerabilities and provide resources to support your planning and training.

NEW: Virginia Safety Poster Requirement

The Virginia Department of Labor and Industry has updated their job safety and health protection poster. This is now effective and you need this new poster. Additionally there are new accident reporting information. All fatalities, injuries, or illnesses that result in patient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an […]

By |March 13th, 2016|Business planning, Policies and Practices|Comments Off on March 2016 News You Can Use

SmallBiz Nightmares: Employees and Security

Recently Elizabeth Chisman Moon of Focus Data Solutions and I did a seminar on this topic for the Alexandria SBDC. Here are some basic ideas on managing your risks of security breaches.

Start by developing policies or practices that address the most important security needs of your business. These might include:

use of company equipment and software,
use of personal devices for work,
social media,
basic security procedures (physical and systems),
what you consider ‘company confidential’ or sensitive information.

Defining what you consider sensitive information is critical. This ensures you know what information deserves extra care in handling and storing so you can protect it. The policy also tells your employees what information you expect them to keep restricted and ensure others do not see. Common types of sensitive or ‘company confidential’ information include:

all data relating to services, applications, procedures, and/or products sold by the organization, excluding marketing literature designed for external use
research and/or development materials
information about clients or customers, excluding that within sales or marketing literature produced for external use
contractual arrangements between the organization and its clients or suppliers or vendors
purchasing, pricing, sales, or financial data
personnel data on any employee or ex-employee
information provided by other organizations under confidentiality agreements.

Development of basic policies can be done using samples from your professional/trade organizations or your network. However – it is vital to ensure that each policy is designed to support your desired culture. Having such policies checked by your lawyer, appropriate consultants, or vendors is important to ensure you minimize your risks. The policies then provide a basis for orientation of new employees as well as training of all employees and regular reminders on need for each employee to protect the organizations’ assets.

Remember that policies that are difficult or complicated lead to […]

By |February 22nd, 2016|Business planning, hiring, Policies and Practices|Comments Off on SmallBiz Nightmares: Employees and Security

Millennials and Our Future

I am not a big fan of business books. So many are one small idea blown into a book and poorly written too. But I recently read a book with some ideas useful to any small business or non-profit.

When Millennials Take Over by Jamie Notter and Maddie Grant

This is an optimistic look at the future of business. It is a short, easy read. Better yet, you may already being doing parts of what they suggest is the future of business – to be digital, clear, fluid, and fast. As you know if we have met, I am not a big fan of the hype surrounding the millennials. They are not so different or so bad but are much like past generations were in their 20-30s. What they do bring is a different view of many technologies and of data-gathering. The book recognizes the hype early but uses them to organize its premise of the changes hitting most organizations over the past five to ten years and how millennials expectations can offer some solutions.

Digital refers to ‘organizing and working in ways that leverage’ the possibilities of digital technology.
Clear refers to the ‘value of clarity’ inside organizations. And many small businesses do this just to stay in business and grow.
Fluid refers to how the ‘heirarchy shifts and morphs decision-making’ as needed to be most effective.
Speed refers not to incremental steps but to the mindset and practices that allow your to leap forward as needed.

The book helps you make sense of ways to reduce the administrivia that stops many people from contributing all which they can. It not only demonstrates the critical aspects of your organizational culture to your success but also shows how that impacts the […]

By |December 29th, 2015|Business planning, Policies and Practices, Small Biz|Comments Off on Millennials and Our Future

Smarter Hiring Checklist

Thinking about hiring new employees or interns? Smart hires require some planning. Too often small businesses are rushed and desperate when hiring and then have performance or retention problems.

Here is a basic checklist outline to help you develop your own process and checklist for more effective hiring.

* Why do we need this position?
* What specific skills, training, and abilities do we need at a minimum?
* What additional attributes would we like to have?
* What sources exist to find someone to fill this position?
* What is our hiring plan for this position?   (Include any paperwork)
* Who will take the lead and who else will be involved in this hiring?   (Have all been trained in hiring? Know the specifications?)
* Resume/application review process defined?   (Are you covered by retention requirements for legal or EEO needs?)
* Telephone screening screening interviews of all potentials.
* Pre-employment testing, if required.
* Interview selected applicants.   (Who will schedule, interview, decide?)
* Analyze applicants for skills/ability, attitude/motivation, organizational fit.   (Standards & form to document?)
* Select best match.
* Check references.   (background checks if required)
* Make offer by phone, follow up in writing.   (medical/drug tests if required)
* After offer is accepted, notify those not selected.
* Prepare for new hire (space, equipment, materials, work plan)
* Orient new hire to organization and function, discuss first week’s work plan and why selected.

Happy to work with you to help you achieve your hiring goals and train those involved, just call!

WANT TO HIRE THE BEST?

Planning hiring is a standard part of business planning. But too often we just plug in a standard title and some $$ in the budget and think it is done.
Want to hire the best matches for your needs?
Want to hire people who will succeed and stay?
Top Tips for Smart Hiring

Tip 1. Develop a recruiting plan for new hires – and use it for replacements also. Include these parts for each potential position:

desired attributes, specific skills, attributes to avoid, possible demographics
potential sources of candidates
application and selection process

Commonly we focus on specific technical or professional skills we are seeking and we might add ‘soft skills’ like good communications or ability to maintain confidentiality. But you want to really focus on the ‘whole person’ you need. In defining desired attributes as well as specific skills, you help yourself focus on cultural fit – the attributes needed to succeed in your organization and the position.

You may also want to realize what attributes you want to avoid. “Don’t hire jerks” is a recent push.  Many companies have tolerated jerks if they brought in revenue or were technically brilliant in a core field.

If you want to broaden the creativity of your group, plan for possible retirements, or know you are losing a key person; then you also may want to consider demographics. This is rarely a ‘must have’ but more usually a preference. You might want some maturity in one position and someone with a different industry background for another. I, of course, hope you will also consider hiring a veteran.

Tip 2. Consider potential sources of candidates.

Have your best people come from one or two specific sources?
Do you encourage employees to refer people for your open positions?
Are you working […]

Humans & Computers: Recipe for Trouble

I’ve just spent a week fighting desktop and laptop issues for too many hours.
A client is suing a former executive who took client lists, then approached them to transfer business to his new firm before he left their firm.
JPMorgan Chase, Home Depot… and the list goes on of huge system data breaches.

While many solopreneurs rely on family or friends for ‘IT support”, once you have employees you cannot do that. The employee issues related to computer, communications, smart phones, ‘bring your own devices’, security, and cloud usage are critical to your business.

Do you – and your employees – understand what information is where and how it is safeguarded?
Do you have an information repository? Retention guidelines? Policies to protect your organization?
Do you know which laws apply to your electronic communications and software?
If an employee took a lot of company proprietary information would you know? Could you trace it or delete it remotely from the smartphone or other device used?
What if the person revealed sensitive data on social media?

I regularly have dealt with clients:

* whose employees who took company data on clients, critical intellectual property, or pricing info to use at another employer or to start their own business.
* who are investigating an employee and need to search out any relevant information which may be online or in electronic files.
* with ex-employees who ‘forget’ to return company laptops and data.

All I have lost this week is time, a few documents – and my patience. Before you lose anything, talk to your IT advisor or support company. If you do not have one, now is the time!

What do you need to know about that might affect your organization?
What services can they provide to protect you from employee […]

COMPENSATION & CULTURE

Now is the time many organizations start thinking about the next year’s pay raises. Before you start the hunt for ‘market rates’, projected pay raise averages, budget or other data – think a bit about what you are paying for.

Very few founders, CEOs, or senior executives have thought about their philosophy of compensation directly. Fewer still have tied it to their desired culture.

And so, over the decades, I have talked about these issues with many senior folks. Often I also use a short quiz and set up the scenario:
You have two people in the same role, both are equally productive.
And I ask a series of questions about how one would calculate the pay raise for each. One question is: John comes in early and stays late every day, he works many long hours each week. Tom works his regular schedule but rarely puts in extra time unless asked to help others.

And nearly 3/4 say that they would give John a larger raise.

Do you see the issue? Most do not until I ask why they are rewarding the person who cannot get their work done in a timely manner over the one who does. Remember – the conditions were that both were equally productive. So Tom is doing the same amount and quality of work in less time than John.
As you think about your salary planning for next year, here are some questions to ask yourself. Pick the top three in each and rank order those.

1. Do we want to compensate for:
– individual productivity
– teamwork
– cost of living changes
– our financial success
– increased productivity
– market pricing changes
– seniority
– client growth
– revenue growth (funding growth for non-profits)

2. Will an individual be rewarded with a base salary […]