Smart practices

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

Employees, ‘New Normal’: A Framework for Planning

This framework outlines employment considerations in planning a return to more normal operations. It is organized in building blocks. Section A applies to all employers. Other sections define issues based on levels of business impact.
In general, you should begin or complete:

Preparing your facilities
Developing new policies, as needed. (i.e. telework, safety)
Creating a physical distancing plan
Controlling access for safety and health issues
Increased cleanliness, reduced touch points
Enhanced employee communications

Many professional and industry organizations have specific return-to-work guidelines too. Check for those in your arena.
A. ALL EMPLOYERS
1. Strategic review
Impact of current/planned business changes on employment and employeesChanges due to states of emergency impact plus 2-5 below
2. Community Preparedness needed to support for return to work

Schools/daycare open
Public transportation – normal schedules
Medical care available
Food services

3. Building/Office Preparations

Increased sanitation and air-handling building-wide
Office cleaning services enhanced
Physical distancing/barriers for employees and visitors
Need for personal protection equipment (PPE), if any
Common space changes (i.e. closed kitchens, conference rooms)
Employee responsibilities and cleaning resources for desks, work area, hygiene

4. Employee Concerns
Consider a survey to determine individual needs and concerns
Vacation/Paid-time-off, if offered:     Fiscal year ends in Jun – Sep and you cap carryover, what changes are smart?     FY = CY, will you need restrictions on use through Dec 2020 to meet business needs?
5.Safety
CDC Guidelines    Guidelines for Business
The EEOC is allowing some medical checks or self-reporting for coronavirus symptoms or exposure. Will you require any checks or self-certification on health each day? If so, how will you maintain required confidentiality? How implement?
6. Legal Issues
All employers:     OSHA – requires provide safe workplaces     HIPAA – treat medical information as confidential     FFCRA – requires paid coronavirus-related leavePaid Leave FAQs
Over 15 employees:     EEO – requires non-discrimination in treatment (e.g. retention, medical checks)     ADA – equal […]

By |May 12th, 2020|Business planning, Smart practices|Comments Off on Employees, ‘New Normal’: A Framework for Planning

Covid-19: New Law and Tips

How are you managing the impact of Covid-19 on your organization? Now that we are a few weeks in and have at least another month to go in stay-at-home and other restrictions, it is a good time to give yourself an hour to think. What is working reasonably well? What needs to be fixed?

If you need loans or grants to help your organization stay afloat, do contact your local Small Business Development Center. They offer expert advice, information resources, and other help to navigate old and new options.

New Law

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act goes into effect today, April 1, 2020. This law offers new paid benefits for employees and their families during the rest of 2020 which you must understand. While there is a proposed exemption from parts of it for small employers – 50 or less including all employees – the implementing instructions for exemption are not yet clear. More guidance is available in these FAQs. The info in numbers 4, 58, and 59 specifically address the small employer issue.
Families First Coronavirus Response Act FAQs

The law requires you to provide a poster for each work location which should be placed in an area where all employees will see it. If you are currently having all employees work from home or regularly have some telecommute, you must provide each such person with a copy by April 1. Here it is:

FFCRA Poster

Communications

One of the biggest issues in times of uncertainty is effective communications. Your employees – and you too – are wondering

if they will get sick,
if their families are in danger,
how long this will last,
whether their job and paychecks will continue to exist, and
how to move forward.

Clarity on what […]

By |April 1st, 2020|Business planning, Communications, Smart practices|Comments Off on Covid-19: New Law and Tips

EPIDEMIC, PANDEMIC – PLAN NOW FOR POSSIBLE ISSUES

The coronavirus ( covid-19) epidemic has the attention of most people now. The uncertainty of what may happen and when makes this a difficult threat.

There is no reason to panic. There is every reason to plan!

Pull out your emergency or business continuity plan as a first step. What does it offer that you need to think about now? Plan for? Update?

Your first two big considerations are the potential impact on your business and what you will do about your employees. Knowing what issues you may face helps you to prepare and will help calm fears.

A recent survey indicated over 2.5 million bot-related disinformation efforts related to the coronavirus within two days. Area stores, here and in other locations, are running low on face masks. People are scared. Your efforts can help employees know what to do and where to go for valid information – both good ways to build resilience and reduce over-reactions.

What are the business risk you face?

Assess this first. Look at your options. A retail business which depends on products made in China may face delays in production and delivery. A hotel may face significant loss of business if travel is restricted or people cancel trips in fear. Be realistic about the issues your business may face and develop plans to deal with each potential problem. Involve employees in developing plans where possible. Communicate to employees – and customers, as needed – the outlines of your plans.

What employee risks do you face?

You need to make clear that employees’ health and safety is top priority.  Legally, you must provide a safe workplace but there are few other legal requirements which apply to this situation.  Start by thinking:

What is the impact if multiple employees […]

By |February 26th, 2020|Business planning, Smart practices|Comments Off on EPIDEMIC, PANDEMIC – PLAN NOW FOR POSSIBLE ISSUES

HIRING TRANSITIONING MILITARY AND MILITARY SPOUSES

Small employers ask me regularly about how to find and hire veterans and military spouses. There is not one easy answer to this – no central hiring line that you can call. But there are some steps you can take relatively easily.

First, if you have a veteran in your company already, ask what ideas they have to find other military in transition, veterans, and military spouses. Learn what they think is most attractive about your company to such people and consider incorporating that in your efforts.

Second, find some military people to talk to. Your regular network may know some. In Metro DC military people attend the same community, religious and kids’ events as everyone else. Military people know other military people including those in transition or spouses and can help you discover people who can contribute to your goals.

Third, consider contacting the veterans’ rep at your local workforce development office. These people work directly with a variety of veterans and know the right contacts at local military installations to make connections and to get your jobs posted.

There are a lot of groups on LinkedIn for military in transition and veterans. Read these for awhile and learn before deciding whether you want to be active on any of them.

As you begin to think about hiring vets, you may need to check your assumptions.

Male veterans have lower unemployment rates than civilians do. You are not doing them a favor, you have to make the case for what your organization offers them. Women veterans are more likely to be unemployed but fewer women present themselves as veterans either.
Veterans may have injuries and disabilities but they do not have them at rates that are as high […]

By |November 11th, 2019|hiring, Smart practices|Comments Off on HIRING TRANSITIONING MILITARY AND MILITARY SPOUSES

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

I Know It When I See It

Supreme Court Justice Potter said ‘I know it when I see it’ about defining hard-core porn during a court case. Many of our performance management practices appear built on this.

Alan Weiss talked recently about feedback in his Monday Morning Memo – and his biggest point was that feedback says far more about the person giving it than about anyone else.

In managing performance effectively, these two areas create issues for most founders and managers.

Feedback

The best feedback is where you ‘catch someone doing something right’ and tell them specifically to do more of that. It needs to be immediate and specific to help increase productivity. ‘That report you wrote last month was great’ is as useless as ignoring it would be.

When you have an issue with an employee’s performance, the first step to effectively solving the problem is not usually correcting the employee. It is discovering what created the error in the first place.

Do you consider the actual cause first? How do you know that the issue is the employee’s fault? And how do you explain the correct way to perform the task so that the employee learns and applies new knowledge.

I bet you can see where I am going with this – and it is not to simple beliefs. Pairing up good comments with a message of poor performance does not work.

Performance Appraisals or Reviews

Most organizations still have some form of performance reviews, whether annually or more frequent. Decades of research indicating that such appraisals have no positive effect on performance has not been enough to eliminate them.

If you have a performance review program, it is most likely to have a numeric rating (1-5 are most common) or 3-5 phrases (‘fully meets requirements’ is a […]

By |May 13th, 2019|Performance Management, Smart practices|Comments Off on I Know It When I See It

What is the Future of Your Collection

Many entrepreneurs and business owners are collectors. You can see this among your friends, in TV programs about famous collectors, or at estate sales. I know a number of military medal and militaria collectors through a family connection.

Many small business owners neglect to plan for their death or disability’s impact on their company – and many collectors do not think ahead about their collections. If you have been a collector for even a few years, you have heard the sad and bad stories of spouses ripped off by ‘friends’, families riven by arguments on ‘Dad’s collection’, or the whole lot dumped into the trash/Goodwill bin.

Planning what happens to your collection is vital. You know better than anyone what you want to happen to it. And if you love your heirs, you want to be sure that they know too. Collectors have three big considerations in their disposition decisions: emotional ties to the collection, financial aspects, and the time invested. These will influence what decisions you make and how difficult it is to get an action plan developed.

This outline, from an OMSA Convention seminar, is designed to help you think through the process and document your desires effectively. None of us like to think about our death, but it still is necessary.

What Do You Want to Do with your Collection?

A. Gift it

The first thought of many collectors is to pass it on within their family. But if there is not someone already interested, it is unlikely that will change unless yours is a young family. The same is true for friends. So if you are thinking of gifting your collection to someone, do confirm their interest now. Also consider: some family members or friends might […]

By |April 14th, 2019|Business planning, Smart practices|Comments Off on What is the Future of Your Collection

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

Should ‘death cleaning’ be a Business Concept too?

Does it seem to you as if you see a lot of articles about decluttering your home? Have you seen articles for Boomers about the concept of death-cleaning done early and often? Or those about decluttering your business – usually around the new year? Still, few of us deal with our files and storage and stuffed desks unless forced to do so. I just spent some time watching a small business forced into such a ‘clean up’ by an unexpected relocation. It was tough and it was painful. Who knew that there were files from 10-12 years ago in so many places?

Disorganization costs you time – and money.

Sure, it is hard to take the time to fix your systems. This is not exciting work but it can be critical. Get it scheduled a little at a time and move forward.

Computers:
You need a solid filing system, automatic back-ups, and some external resources to cover your data and info if your system fails. I know that, you know that. But several years ago my own system failed and the back-ups were old and I did not have the data for my online software subscriptions handy.

Do it yourself or hire some help to get your systems organized. Install those malware/virus programs and set them up to run regularly.

Finances:
Be sure to talk with your accountant soon, if you have not already, about the many new tax law changes which will impact your business this year.

Every business, however small, needs a system, whether a simple book-keeping application or a more complex one. But you also need to understand and use it. Go for training. Or hire someone to help you set up your own chart of accounts and understand […]

By |June 12th, 2018|productivity, Smart practices|Comments Off on Should ‘death cleaning’ be a Business Concept too?