HIRING Part 3: When You Are Hiring More Than One

Many small employers hire rarely. Others hire multiples regularly due to the nature of their business or during growth. When hiring increases significantly or repeat hiring is common, networking and employee referrals alone may not be enough to meet your needs.
When that happens, you need to build a sourcing process and network.
Here are some common sources of potential employees for you to consider. Evaluate those that meet your needs most effectively and develop relationships to sustain the process.
High Schools: Local/area high schools often have people looking for internships, part-time jobs, and eventually full-time work. Most have someone on staff dedicated to helping employers and potential employees connect. High schools are a great resource for all those jobs which do not require additional training or specialized education. You may also find great help for projects and short-term needs, such as: design and maintain your website, develop social media programs, and to support administrative needs.
City/local area Foster Children programs: In most states children are not allowed to stay in foster care beyond 18. There are a lot of people aging out of these programs even in smaller locations. These young people need jobs, apartments, and almost everything our families help with when we start out. Connect with your local foster care program to see how they can support your hiring needs.
Job skills programs: there are a wide range of non-profit programs designed to help specific populations increase their job skills. Look around for these in your community and learn what they offer. These include:

The Salvation Army, Goodwill, VOA, Melwood
Non-profit local organizations supporting specific populations – such as women returning to the workplace, returning citizens from jails and prisons, victims of abuse, those with disabilities, refugees, older […]

By |November 13th, 2020|Business planning, hiring, Small Biz, Smart practices|Comments Off on HIRING Part 3: When You Are Hiring More Than One

HIRING Part 2: Develop a Process

Hiring is tough work and often stressful to fit in among all the demands on your time. Here is the basic process for your use. Flesh it out with what works in your situation. Then keep a record of it for future hiring which will save time and help improve your ‘batting average’ for better hires.
Step 1: Define the Need
What goal are you achieving by hiring someone? Based on the goal, do you need full-time or part-time support? Or would a temporary, contract individual, consultant, or outsourced service provider be the smarter move?
Create or update a position description. This should include the reason for the position, the major work which it will include, and the minimum qualifications to succeed in the role.
Keep your description at a high level, do not go into details about each possible bit of work that might be required. This reduces your need to update the description repeatedly. It minimizes the complaints of individuals who might focus on ‘its not in my job description’ when changes occur.
Look at the minimum qualifications carefully. Do you really need a degree to do the job or are you using that as a place-marker for quality or maturity? Think in terms of on-going technology change – is the need for someone who can manipulate spreadsheets? Then do not ask for only one software type – someone who knows one usually can be up to speed in another quite quickly. Skip the cliches – everyone wants a self-starter, a customer-oriented person. Instead of saying ‘ excellent communications skills’, be specific.
Step 2: Define Who Will Do What
In hiring, you need to source people (see part 1, 3) obviously. But how will you treat those who apply?
Who […]

By |November 12th, 2020|Business planning, hiring, Policies and Practices, Small Biz|Comments Off on HIRING Part 2: Develop a Process

Coronavirus: The ‘Messy Middle’

Here we are in the ‘messy middle’ – you have survived the shock of the coronavirus and have accepted that we do not know when or how it will go away. Now you need to decide what to do about short-term and mid-term issues. A vaccine will not be a quick fix since it is estimated to take two full years to vaccinate the US once approved and we do not know how many will get vaccinated or how effective any vaccine will be yet.
Whether you closed your office completely or not at all, you need to pay attention to your office and employee needs in this difficult time for everyone.
If you closed your office in full or in part, you may be struggling with planning the return. I am seeing lots of organizations planning for a return Jan 4, 2021 – often after planning for earlier dates. They and others also have multiple employees who want to come in some days each week now. What will you allow, how will you manage it?
A late June Gensler survey showed 44% of employees want to return full time and another 26% want to be there the majority of the week. A separate study in late August puts that total at 83%. At the same time, you will have employees fearful of coming into the office whenever you return. You must think now about what you will plan for and allow.
Human Fatigue
Many people are dealing with anxiety and fatigue from the changes to their lives during the pandemic. This includes founders, leaders, and managers in small businesses.
Here are some ways to help your staff and yourself cope:

Talk to people about how they are, instead of discussing […]

By |September 10th, 2020|Business planning, Communications, Policies and Practices, productivity, Small Biz, SMB|Comments Off on Coronavirus: The ‘Messy Middle’

More Re-Opening Issues

As you plan to re-open your offices or bringing more people in, employees may be concerned about returning. If you already have a telework plan, does it need any changes now? If you do not, now is the time to develop one. While most employees want to work in the office at least part-time, nearly a third are interested in full-time remote work. You need to assess what you want to offer in advance and make that clear early. As soon as you have a basic policy on telework, communicate it. Do the same with your re-opening plan.
There are also some legal issues to be aware of in your preparation and in talking with your staff.
FFCRA
You may remember the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, passed in March. If you have not thought much about it, now is the time. The considerations under FFCRA run until the end of the year. More employees may be asking for added time off as you re-open your office or reduce telework options.
FFCRA covers all small employers (under 500 employees.) If an employee is unable to work or telework, it provides options for paid leave.
Sick Leave:
Up to two weeks (80 hours) at an employee’s regular rate of pay to a max of $511 per day and $5110 in total over the two-week period where the employee:
1) is quarantined and/or is experiencing Covid19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis, or
At a rate of 2/3 regular pay up to a maximum of $340 per day
2) because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine, or
3) care for a child, under 18, whose school or childcare provider is closed due to Covid19
Up to an additional 10 weeks […]

By |June 29th, 2020|Business planning, Communications, Policies and Practices, Small Biz|Comments Off on More Re-Opening Issues

Re-Opening: Offices

Wherever your organization is now, you need a plan for what is next. My clients range from those whose business kept on as essential, those who moved all to remote work from home (WFH), to those with 1-2 people left. Your plan needs to look ahead across various options. What has already changed, what other possible changes may be likely? What are you going to do now? Over the summer? In the fall? If there is a second spike, as predicted, this fall?
No-one knows how many ‘phases’ we are likely to go through to any ‘new normal’. Some think the ‘new normal’ will be pretty much the same as the past, while others see a whole new world of work evolving.
What does ‘back to work’ mean for your organization? How do local or state restrictions and regulatory compliance affect you? How will you incorporate your culture and values into your planning?
Infectious disease specialists think that wearing masks and maintaining social distancing will be with us until a vaccine is available to all. How does that assumption impact your planning? HR people are discussing all sorts of office redesigns, staggered work-days or shift work, more remote workers, core hours, limiting meetings and travel, extra cleaning, and more.
RISK MANAGEMENT
What will you consider in terms of Covid-19 testing? Are you required, by state or local agencies, to do anything specific? Some businesses are considering daily temperature checks and routine testing. Temporary Federal regulations allow you to ask if an employee has Covid-19 symptoms and ask for a doctor’s certification.  You may require sick or quarantined employees to stay home
The EEOC allows temperature checks and Covid-19 testing – through the end of 2020 – as long as they […]

By |May 28th, 2020|Business planning, Communications, Small Biz, Smart practices|Comments Off on Re-Opening: Offices

Covid-19 What to Think About Now

Across social media, people have made reference to how each day seems a month long or how many years it seems since the first physical distancing started. In most small businesses, the rush and uncertainty creates the same effect.
What happens next is partly unknown. You do control your planning and how you are treating employees now. The HR world and a fair amount of public comments have highlighted those employers who have not treated employees well. Zoom meetings to tell everyone watching they were out of a job, cuts in pay at lower levels only, and poor safety are among those you are most likely to have seen. I mention this because how any employer treats people during such an emergency directly hits future retention as well as hiring.

Are you or your managers talking to employees individually?
Do you make time for asking how they and their families are doing?
For a little small talk beyond just a work assignment?
Offering some help with a problem that is hindering their work?
Have you maintained regular communications across the organization too?

Sharing articles is another helpful form of communications. Here is one on working from home –  New rules for remote work-pandemic edition
A guide on coping and developing resilience is from UC Berkeley’s Greater Good center   Guide to well-being
What Are You Planning for the Future?
Now is the time to think about what your organization will look like in one month, three months, and through the end of the calendar year. Yes, this shutdown has no defined end yet. And there are indications a future shutdown is possible later this year.  But you need to plan, based on your values and the current conditions of your organization.  Carpe diem indeed.  
If you […]

By |April 13th, 2020|Business planning, Small Biz, Small Business Development Centers|Comments Off on Covid-19 What to Think About Now

Covid-19 Ideas and Tips #3

While bills to support small businesses are still being debated in Congress, there is help through the SBA’s loans for disasters. This program is in high demand but it is worthwhile to get yourself into line now if you may need such help. More information on the Small Business Disaster Loans and other Covid-19 info via Alexandria’s Small Business Development Center –
Aleandria SBDC Covid-19 info

Working from Home (WFH)

Many organizations have gone to full work from home operations at least temporarily. Others may have a blend, depending on the field they are in. Some have had to close and lay-off almost all employees.  Support your local restaurants and retailers if you can.

If you have people working remotely but it is a new method for many, you need to consider how to support your staff in teleworking effectively. Twitter has provided a lot of ‘epic fails’ stories to laugh and cry over – naked spouses in the background, kids and animals interfering, and so on.  Few of us want to be ‘that guy.’

Many smaller companies and associations are holding all-employee meetings each morning. If you want to do something like a regular ‘all hands’ or ones by function, think carefully about the planned time – what family demands may some employees be facing? How long will it be? Short is always better – for focus, effectiveness.  Periodically add in some time and actions to help employees feel connected. Although I cringed as a recent daily list of what one organization was planning which featured some time each day where one day everyone had to be in costume and another showing animal pictures, the concept behind them was good. Make sure yours are tailored to your culture. […]

By |March 23rd, 2020|Business planning, Communications, Small Biz|Comments Off on Covid-19 Ideas and Tips #3

SECURITY, CYBERSECURITY, AND YOUR BUSINESS FUTURE

Cybersecurity threats against small organizations – businesses, governments, non-profits – are an increasing risk. Few such organizations have in-house resources to address these issues. Most do not even focus on the need because they think no ‘bad guy’ would bother to attack them.

Research indicates that small employers are being attacked on a daily basis – and that many small businesses go out of business as a result.

What can you do?

Learn the basics of what is at risk and what your options are.
Develop a plan to minimize risks and to recover.
Assess what help you need and how to obtain it.
Train everyone.

Here are some useful free resources to help guide you.

This new resource is specifically designed to help you understand cybersecurity and reduce your risks. It includes videos and quizzes as well as basic information and planning guidance:   small-businesses/cybersecurity

A great overview on issues and actions, also focused on smaller employers:   Understanding small biz cybersecurity

An easy plan development tool with lots of info automatically filled in once you pick the topics which apply:  cyber-planner

A webinar I did with Elizabeth Moon of Focus Data Solutions on the security and cybersecurity issues – directed at helping you and your team understand both the human and technology issues:    Security webinar from Alexandria SBDC

In addition, you should consider physical security. Once those concerns were primarily for retail or other open to the public organizations. But now they are important to all. In many locations, your local police department will advise you on physical security issues.

Most important to this discussion is the involvement of all employees in maintaining security practices every day. This includes discussing these issues in orienting new employees, in on-going training of employees, and in employee […]

By |September 10th, 2019|Business planning, Small Biz, Smart practices|Comments Off on SECURITY, CYBERSECURITY, AND YOUR BUSINESS FUTURE

Small Biz Lessons from a Road Trip

Just back from a cross-country driving trip, first in many years. I was pleased to note that there were wind turbines in every state as we drove to Colorado. Much else along I-70 looked very much as it has for decades, except in those cities which have grown. While I enjoyed the break, I noticed some lessons for many of us.

How do you publicize your business?

Talk about realizing how little I have been doing in recent years to attract new business! Reminded me how many organizations I know which have not changed their advertising or publicity much in recent years either. This thought first came to me as I moved into the land of billboards. I do not see billboards much in regular activities so their profusion was noticeable. But as I paid attention, I saw far more. There also were smaller signs on farmer’s fences. There was more advertising on cars and trucks. Several of the hotels we stayed at had far more available in pamphlets and flyers for area businesses and attractions, a few even had 10% discount coupons at the registration desk.

None of these may work for you. But what I am recommending is that you take a look at what you do now and whether it is what you really need.

Do you have an active plan that is relevant to your business or non-profit’s work?
Are you using the right social media and using it effectively?
Do you have a referral program?  Are you working it regularly?
Are you active in local business and professional organizations?
What else can you do that will help you continue to succeed?

What steps are you taking to build in diversity and inclusion?

Even as […]

By |September 4th, 2018|Business planning, hiring, Small Biz|Comments Off on Small Biz Lessons from a Road Trip

Why You Cannot Ignore Cybersecurity

For many enterpreneurs, solopreneurs, and non-profits, even thinking about cyber-anything is frightening. You know there are dangers but who can keep up, how can you understand the problems you face? Still, you must. Small businesses and individuals are targets for hackers, fraud, and other efforts that require some understanding and actions.

These risks are real and they can seriously hurt you and your business if ignored.  You know that but what to do…

Recently Elizabeth Moon of Focus Data Systems and I did a webinar on common issues you need to understand and address. We talked about the issues and trends in cybersecurity and how you can work to minimize risks at every level. If you have employees, we covered some of the major issues we have seen in what and what not to do with employees to enhance your organization’s security.

Watch and listen – Small Biz Nightmares – Cybersecurity

By |June 17th, 2018|Business planning, culture, Small Biz, Smart practices|Comments Off on Why You Cannot Ignore Cybersecurity