Vice President, Public Relations, Communications and Marketing
Several years ago, I owned my own public relations firm, MerrillCom Communications, on the Olympic Peninsula. My business grew quickly from one part time contracted worker to at times up to three employees and a half dozen contracted/partnered people I worked with on a regular basis. I knew nothing about payroll taxes, human resources, hiring regulations, proper documentation – all of the “HR stuff – and the paperwork alone consumed way too much of my time.
I was not alone. In fact, according to the Small Business Administration, small business owners spend between 7 and 25 percent of their time handling employee-related paperwork. While that’s not likely the most productive use of their time, even more important, not knowing how to deal with HR issues can get small business owners into big trouble.
Here are the top three HR issues that can get a small business into big trouble.
- An Ounce of Prevention is worth a Pound of Paperwork. Because I remember things better when I write them down, I have always written– and kept filed – a lot of documentation, including when I hired people and for how much, when discipline was warranted, or when I let someone go. But, even as a compulsive writer, I now realize I seldom kept the proper documentation that would have protected me if I’d had an issue with a former employee or partnered business. Working now for Associated Industries, where we have professional HR and Legal staff in-house, I’ve seen how many unemployment cases are lost because the owner didn’t have proper documentation of these processes. As they say, An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
- Ignorance is not bliss. Most small business owners are totally unfamiliar with the legal requirements that regulate the workplace, even though there are very few regulations – especially at the federal level – that don’t apply to them. If you asked most small business owners what Affirmative Action, EEO or AAP regulations apply to their business, it’s unlikely they would even know what these acronyms stand for (I didn’t), let alone which of the regulations might apply to them and their employees.
- The Mystifying Misclassification of Employees. The most common and most expensive employer error in relation to wage and hour laws is the misclassification employees. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that 10 percent to 30 percent of employers misclassify their employees. The Government Accountability Office estimates that the federal government loses $3 billion to $4 billion each year in federal income and employment taxes due to misclassification. States are also losing billions of dollars a year in tax and other revenue due to employee misclassification. Even though it’s a law that applies to almost all companies, regardless of size, the widespread misapplication of these laws has also resulted in countless lawsuits against employers, and has also prompted the U.S. Department of Labor to update regulations.
One way small companies can get around the issue of HR affordability is through a professional “leasing” option known as HR Outsourcing. The concept of employee leasing offers some unique advantages. HR Outsourcing can provide a small organization the seasoned HR professional it needs to ensure employer-related paperwork is handled properly, business practices meet regulatory standards and any HR issues are resolved appropriately. Best of all, HR Outsourcing can get a small business owner back to doing what he or she does best – managing business. The concept of employee leasing is not new. There are a number of organizations who offer HR Outsourcing. Associated Industries (A.I.) is one of them. (And just as an FYI, A.I. offers a full range of HR-related services.)If you are a small business owner, do yourself a favor. Find someone you can trust to provide the HR services you need.
Commercial Message: Of course, I might be prejudiced, but I think A.I. can help you make your business run smoothly and properly. If you’re interested, and your company is in the Inland Northwest, contact: Marla Fruit, A.I., 1206 North Lincoln, Suite 200, Spokane, WA 99201, or 509.342.2169 or 800.720.4291 or email@example.com.
As much as we look forward to the joys of the holidays, sometimes the activities around special occasions can also bring on stress.
If so, here are a few holiday tips that might help keep your stress levels down …
- In all things moderation – it may be the season to be jolly, but too much food and alcohol is harmful. Drink driving is a real danger and is illegal. If you can’t (or don’t want to) step off the social merry-go-round, at least try to eat and drink in moderation
- Get some z-z-z-z – plan for as many early nights as you can.
- Keep on moving on – keeping up your regular exercise routine can give you the fitness and stamina to make it through the demands of the festive season.
- Under cover of a rolling stoned – People under stress tend to ‘self-medicate’ with alcohol, cigarettes and other drugs. But hiding from pressure can actually add to your stress. Try to remember that drugs can’t solve problems or alleviate stress in the long term.
It’s easy to let the busyness of the holidays to get the better of us. But don’t do it! You’ll miss all the fun and the enjoyment of enjoying friends and family.
When you were young did you get asked, “What do you want to be when you
grow up?” My answer was different almost every time I was asked…A milkman…An astronaut…A teacher…A foreign correspondent…A mommy.
“You’ll need to decide,” I was told, but the fact is, I still haven’t decided what I want to be when I grow up. And by the time I’m 90, I probably still won’t.
It’s just that there are simply so many interesting things to do! When I read about fascinating occupations or avocations, I want to learn more. And I want to try everything!
Something’s wrong with the notion that one has to decide on only one path for the rest of his or her life. It may seem a little more graceful, slightly more dignified, a tad more predictable. But doesn’t it run the risk of also being a lot more boring?
I like a saying they have in Mexico: “La vida es corta, pero ancha.” That is, “Life is short, but it’s wide.”
I favor grabbing for all the experiences this life has to offer— going wide — and ending with an epitaph that reads more like a full-length novel than a short story.
Have you ever felt an awkward moment at a party and pulled out your cell phone, pretending to check your email?
Does leaving your phone at home when vacationing or on a special date make you uncomfortable?
Have you found yourself cruising YouTube’s latest videos while conversations go on around you?
We do love our electronics. And cell phones are so darned handy, with all the latest apps and gizmos.
But doctors tell us that, due to our obsession with staying connected, they’re seeing risks beyond texting while driving. They have actually documented some less obvious unhealthy side effects of too much cell phone use.
They note behavior issues like information overload and insomnia, and physical dangers like allergic reactions and hearing problems.
And then, there’s the heart break of something called “text neck” and “cell phone elbow!”
Okay, that’s funny. But there is a more serious lesson in here somewhere. Maybe it’s time we learned to tame our devices — to take a healthy break from those all-too-enticing cell phones occasionally.
I like to think that I own the cell phone – it doesn’t own me. With that as my mantra, I think the next time I travel, I’ll enjoy the view instead of a video. And maybe, just maybe, next time I’m at a gathering, I’ll to talk to the people I can actually reach out and touch!
It’s an offbeat concept, but I think I’ll try it.
Online marketing is hot. You don’t need me to tell you that. But Facebooking and Twittering and Googling without first planning may bring you “likes” but won’t bring results. In truth, spending your valuable time and energies “friending” your homies or creating a snazzy home page, without first determining whether either is a good use of your marketing time and talents, can busy your business right into bankruptcy.
Success in the use of social media first requires establishing desired outcomes, developing key messaging and strategizing the best methods.
Maybe some of the things you are doing now are useful, but without proper planning, most likely most of them are not, or at least are not as useful as they could be.
Non-producing, unfocused Tweets and Likes and LinkedIns will eventually show themselves for what they are — sloppy practices that don’t pay off.
No matter how cool the latest app or social media device may be, only those who plan, track and measure—using accountability—will win customers.
Many people experience “sticker shock” when it comes to their health care premiums – even if their employer pays a portion or most of the premium. But did you know that you can help your company lower their healthcare costs and yours? Not only that, companies can actually improve worker well-being in the process.
How? By incorporating a workplace wellness culture, promoting a healthy-promoting environment.
Studies show that when companies promote wellness, their employees experience an average decline in medical costs of 26.5 percent! That’s good for you and your employer! What’s more, companies that promote even small, healthy steps, such as encouraging participation in exercise programs, can experience an average 40 percent reduction in workers’ compensation costs!
Promoting workplace wellness is not only cost-effective, it can lower absenteeism and raise productivity. In fact, a 2004 study showed that wellness programs provided – among others improvements – a nine percent increase in productivity and a two percent decline in absenteeism!
Pretty amazing, huh? So what are you waiting for? Get moving…Take a brisk walk at lunch time. Park at the end of the parking lot. Spend a half hour after work at the local gym. Ask your HR department if they’ll begin a wellness program. Get involved with volunteering at your kid’s school sporting events. Every little bit helps, and your health counts.