Posts

How Redefining Your Core Values Can Benefit Your Business

As the new year momentum continues, it can be beneficial to review the core values of your business to see what you can amend and improve upon. Redefining your business core values to make them significant and actually mean something to your staff, partners, and customers can play a monumental role in the way your company is seen and how others relate to your brand.

A source for Harvard Business Review, who has helped companies refine their corporate values for over one decade, states that bland or meaningless values can damage the credibility of the company and alienate employees. To prevent this, revisit your current core values, find room for improvement, and take the following steps to redefine them.

Review Your Current Core Values

To start, re-familiarize yourself with the current corporate values you have established. Are they still relevant, achievable, and actually being implemented? For example, if one of the values is transparency, do your firm’s daily operations reflect that goal? Does information freely flow from top to bottom and in reverse? Are you open and honest with your investors, business partners, and clients about any issues, roadblocks or failures?

Remove any core values that are no longer important to your brand, don’t say anything about your corporate identity, or are simply impossible to achieve.

Survey Your Team

An organization is made up of the team members employed there; therefore, it can be beneficial to survey your employees to find out what their personal values are. If you able to align the personal beliefs and values of your staff with your business values, you can create a better corporate culture and overall working experience for your team.

Send out an email or online survey and ask employees to write down three to five personal values that matter to them. Review these answers and narrow down the top five to 10 choices based on popularity, significance, and relevance to your brand.

For example, if the majority of your staff value sustainability and the green movement, you may consider adding an eco-friendly component to your company’s philanthropic efforts. This can increase employee loyalty by supporting a cause that is important to them, and also start to promote your brand image with a new and important initiative.

Implement the Newly Established Core Values

Once you remove outdated and irrelevant values, and have worked with your staff to come up with meaningful new principles, you must create a plan to implement them. Core values must be ingrained in every decision and practice of the organization because they are the foundation of the brand’s identity.

If you added honest communication as a core value, for example, consider investing in training that would improve the communication skills of your managers and other staff members. Teaching them to better read nonverbal cues, actively listen, and understand difference in multicultural communication can lead to a more productive work environment.

Redefining your core corporate values can unite you with your clientele, partners, and employees by exposing the main principles that define your company and creating common goals for all staff to follow. Revisit your business’ core values while you’re still riding the momentum of New Year’s Resolutions and betterment initiatives!

Is Offering Unlimited Paid Time Off Right for Your Company? A Top 5 Pro and Con Review

Offering employees perks is no new concept. Many companies offer great benefits, 401k options, and discounts on everyday purchases through employee rewards programs. For many companies offering perks to employees has been a major selling point when they aim to recruit some of the best talent. But what about offering employees the perk of unlimited paid time off? While this may sound crazy to some, many companies are starting to offer this amazing benefit. But at what cost? In this post we will review 5 Pros and Cons of offering employees unlimited paid time off

1. Pro: Morale Boost

Boosting and maintaining morale is one challenge that every employer faces. Offering an incentive of essentially “unlimited” vacation time at an employee’s disposal is a major draw of talent who may be swayed by other companies offering great benefits packages. Offering and supplying unlimited paid time off is an instant morale boost.

  • Con: Employees may take advantage. While employees would “assume” people would follow the norm of 2-3 weeks off a year, plus a given day here or there, they must be ready to have practices in place if an employee decides unlimited time off means “unlimited.”

2. Pro: No Rush to Take Unused Time

We have all been there. End of year or end of cycle where paid time off is available to be used and we are rushed to use that time before it gets cashed out or blocked by accrual caps. By offering unlimited paid time off, employees are less likely to bank and dump that time. They may spread the time out, take smaller chunks of time off, and use the time when things come up, rather than use it at the worst time or because they were forced to.  

  • Con: No rush to come back. One downside is that once the employee’s foot is out the door, they may be no rush to get that foot back inside. One major risk is some employees may take advantage of this policy or skip out of the office for larger chunks of time. Some employees may come and go so often that it starts to impact their work and those who rely on them.

3. Pro: Monitoring Gets Easier

Human Resources (HR) costs and managing of employee’s time off can be daunting, tricky, and costly all in itself. Watching employees’ time so they don’t abuse it comes at a price. With unlimited time, HR doesn’t have keep track of  how much personal time, sick time, accrued time, etc. so closely.  Some numbers suggest that an unlimited vacation time policy saved companies over 50 hours a year in administrative time.

  • Con: Implementation is tricky. For those employees who have been with a company before an unlimited time off policy goes into effect may be impacted by the banked hours they were able to keep. For many “old timers” who leave they may want to cash out their hours for cash. Those folks would need to be considered if “paid time off” became non-monetized in value.

4. Pro: Less Employee Overhead

Consider all the overhead of housing employees throughout the year and the cost associated with each employee being in the office each and every day. By offering unlimited paid time off, employees may become more efficient, happier, and do not waste as much time in the office because they are tied to a “schedule.” By allowing employees to go when they need, they reduce wasted time, energy, and overall overhead costs.

  • Con: Lack of face time. Employees that are out of the office tend to not be as visible. Therefore, offering unlimited paid time may be a dip in important face time with their colleagues and business partners. If companies rely on face time and presence, this option may put a damper on the party.

5. It Sounds & Looks Good

How good does “unlimited paid time off” sound? It sounds like a perk nobody could pass up, like  freedom for employees, and like it is almost too good to be true. Bragging about this option would make a company sound great to work for and seem very forward thinking.

  • Con: Performance can be bad. One downside with giving employees complete freedom is that for those that may take advantage, could leave a company in worse shape. Performance could go down, which may ultimately impact the overall strength of the company. Having one bad apple may ruin it for the whole barrel.

While there are many pros to offering unlimited paid time off for employees, companies must also think of the other side of the coin. By offering employees such an amazing perk, a company could be positioned to increase productivity, morale, and overall appearances. However that can also be the exact opposite if not implemented correctly. By understanding the above 5 pros and cons, companies can now consider if this is a right move to make at the current time.  By going in this direction, the innovative approach to employee benefits could also impact the company’s interests.

Let’s Talk Money: 5 Ways Businesses Can Maintain Financial Transparency with Employees

Talking about money with friends, colleagues, family, or any other relationship that exists is usually topic that is avoided. When running a business, this trend also seems to remain true. Businesses are often reserved when it comes to sharing the company financials with its employees for a variety of fear-based reasons. While every business has the choice of who they share what numbers with, the businesses that choose to share with employees can navigate this hard-to-discuss topic with clear direction. In this post we will review the 5 correct ways your business can maintain financial transparency with your employees. Let’s take a look!

Share the Information on a Consistent Basis: Good and Bad

While good news is much easier to share, if you are committing to sharing the financial status of your company’s transactions with your employees, you should embrace sharing the information on a consistent basis, whether the numbers are good or bad. Sharing on a set schedule demonstrates that the company will remain transparent, regardless of the color the company is heading into. Good, bad, or indifferent, remaining on a set quarterly, monthly, or even weekly sharing basis will help with the commitment to being transparent with your employees.

Explain the Numbers: Help Employees Understand the Breakdown

Graphs, projections, charts, oh my. Sharing the financial status with employees is more than just arrows up or down. Sharing takes explaining what it all means. When reviewing financials, help employees understand the numbers they are seeing. Are the projections on track for making the growth expected? Does the company see their value in those numbers? Do you even know what the numbers mean? Sharing and explaining what each dollar in and dollar out means for the company can demonstrate the value of your employees in every transaction.

Review Tough Questions Ahead of Time

Make sure you’re ready to answer the tough questions that your employees may ask. Consider what the employee may see when the numbers come through and be prepared to explain what the company is doing, thinking, or considering when they see the same numbers. Reviewing some potential questions in advance of the numbers will help navigate a potential onslaught of “what does this mean?” question session.

Share in Person

Timing is everything. Companies usually have the time they share news to the team down to a day and time of the week. That usually is paired with a nicely worded email, newsletter, or some form of typed-out document. When it comes to sharing the fiscal information, companies should consider doing this in person when possible. Sharing in person can help reduce office chatter about what the numbers “really mean”, or reduce the misunderstanding of one “0” in the fancy pie chart. Sharing in person allows allows real questions in real time. If a company can find a way to share and provide a follow-up meeting or offer in person reviews, it will ensure staff morale stays high around the company’s financial transparency and communication with its employees.

Demonstrate the Employee Connection in Financial Goals and Reviews

People work harder when they see their value in the end product. Highlight the employee’s contribution to the numbers they see. By demonstrating the connection each employee has to every dollar, they will be encouraged to take ownership of that dollar. By highlighting where an employee fits in the grand scheme, it will help define purpose, passion, and projections to shoot for. The employee paycheck should not be the only financial connection they see to a company.

By sharing and remaining transparent with your company’s financial statements, employees can find increased value and connection to the company that they work hard for. By following these five ways to maintain your business’s financial transparency, employers can reduce the fear that goes into sharing their finances with others. While these methods may not make dinner party discussion about how much or how little one makes easier, it can help the employee, company, and its operating managers feel better prepared to use the company numbers to their advantage.

Should You Allow Pets at the Workplace?

As a business owner, there are a lot of decisions you need to make about the best policies for your office. You may offer your employees unlimited vacation, the option to telecommute to work, or free lunch. Another benefit to consider offering your staff members is a pet-friendly office environment. Although this may seem counterproductive to running a successful operation, it’s becoming more common for business owners to allow staff members to bring their pets to work. Is a pet-friendly office right for your business? Consider the benefits that pets can offer to your team members, such as:

dog_blogLower Stress Levels

The workplace is a fast-paced, demanding environment, which creates stress for working professionals. Forty percent of workers stated that they were very or extremely stressed out on the job, and 25 percent said that their work was the number one cause of stress in their lives. The effects of stress on the body are well-known: high blood pressure, sleep problems, weight issues, diabetes and heart attacks.

One effective way to fight stress is to create a pet-friendly office where employees are allowed to bring in their cats and dogs. A 2012 study found that employees who brought their pets to work reported being less stressed out throughout the day.

Dogs have been proven to reduce levels of cortisol, which is a hormone that is responsible for stress, while raising the levels of oxytocin, the “love hormone,” which causes happiness. A 2001 study found that pets can lower blood pressure levels that are caused by mental stress.

Improved Communication

Employees must be able to effectively communicate with each other, ask each other for help, and create a support system in the office. However, most professionals are too busy with their responsibilities to get to know their colleagues.

Bringing pets to work has been shown to increase interaction between employees. “When I first took the job, I often learned the names of the pets before employees, and it helped me build a bond with everyone,” stated Lisa Conklin, public relations manager for Replacements, a dinnerware retailer.

When a team is able to communicate effectively, they are more efficient, productive and happier. This benefits business owners with a better corporate culture, higher employee retention rates and additional profits due to increase productivity.

Work/ Life Balance

Employees are increasingly demanding a better work/ life balance amidst the longer work  hours common in the US. A pet-friendly office helps to improve that balance by allowing staff members to bring their beloved pets to work. A long day at the office does not seem so bad when your employee’s canine best friend is next to them. Additionally, it takes away the burden of hiring dog walkers or worrying about pets being alone for extended periods of time.

Set Policies When Allowing Pets at Work

If you believe that allowing pets at work could benefit your business, it is advantageous to create rules that all employees must abide by. First, the office should be pet-proofed, which means all loose wires must be hidden, small objects must be removed from lower surfaces and all doors must be closed at all times.

Second, a pet policy should be adopted that allows only well-behaved and friendly pets to be brought to work. For example, a dog that is prone to barking will only distract your workers instead of increasing productivity.

Third, find out if any of your staff members have allergies to pets. If this is the case, they may agree to take allergy medications; however, that must be discussed before pets are allowed on the premises.

If you could benefit from more advice on managing a business, click here to find seven tips to small business success.

How to Keep Your Business Staffed Effectively Through the Holidays

While the holiday season is a joyous time, it can also be a stressful time for many small business owners. Not being properly prepared can leave an employer short-staffed and unable to handle the influx of business. On the other hand, owners who face a slow season during the wintertime can face financial hardship having to pay salaries with no profit coming in. Be ready to keep your business appropriately staffed through the holidays with these considerations:

 

Time Off

Most staff members request to take time off during the holiday season in order to spend time with family, visit friends or take a vacation. Business owners can become overwhelmed by the time off requests, and the business can suffer as a result.

Approving time off during the holidays is tricky – if it’s not managed properly it can not only prevent the business from delivering what clients and customers want but can also create internal strife,” says Samuel Tanios, president and chief executive of Human Elements Consulting, in an article on Glassdoor.

To avoid chaos, make it a policy that employees must request holiday time off at least a month or more in advance. Consider granting time off on a first come, first served basis – just make sure to announce this decision to your team.

If you have a small team, or need all your employees at the office during peak times, establish vacation blackout days, alerting your subordinates that no time off will be granted on certain dates, or offer monetary incentives on these peak days for staff to stay motivated.

 

Staffing for Your Season

Busy Season

The holidays are high-grossing months for many companies. Retail stores, event planning services and catering businesses often experience a peak in business during this time. However, not having the staff to fulfill orders or handle the sales can create a backlog in fulfillment, causing stress for the owner and hurting the company’s reputation.

To avoid this, you must prepare for the holiday time by hiring extra employees at least two months in advance. This will give you a chance to properly train the new hires and be certain that they can handle the fast-paced environment that the holiday season will bring.

 

Slow Season

Some businesses see a significant decline in business during the wintertime. As such, owners have to make staffing decisions to account for lower sales during this time. Being responsible for paying salaries with no funds coming in can put a business in the red, and it can be difficult to make up the difference even when business picks up.

Some small business owners establish mandatory time off for one or two weeks during the holidays, when employees can use their accrued vacation time or simply not get paid. Others offer their staff the opportunity to work part-time, staggering the schedule so that the employees work during different days or times.

Don’t let the holidays hurt your business operations; prepare for a busy or slow season in advance. Two ways to get prepared, no matter what season you are entering are budgeting and lending. Start setting a budget and planning for your expected revenue. You can do this with a Business Budget Smart Sheet, available to help you start getting your spending in order. Another option is a small business loan from IOU Financial, which can help your business stabilize cash flow through the slow season, or hire and train new staff for your busy season.

banner

Top 4 Things to Do When Your Staff Size Doubles

It’s official: your small business is a true success. You have the leading edge against your competition, your business is growing and you’ve jumped from a couple employees to more than you imagined. While this is exciting it is also scary if you don’t know what steps to take. What to do next? Managing new employees while continually growing your business is hard work.  In this post you can learn the top things to implement right away when you double your staff size.

 

  1. Adopt a Policy and Procedures Guidebook

Each company should have a document available for all their employees outlining company expectations.  Think of this as a rule book that has clear and concise guidelines of what you will and will not tolerate as a business. This is a vehicle for you to ensure commitment from employees as well as create a standard to follow. Have employees sign a document of understanding after they read it. This will benefit you and the employee in the long run.

 

  1. Hire a Human Resource Manager

If you are adding more staff, make sure to set aside a position for HR. Every small business should have that one person to filter employee concerns, challenges and daily requests. Having an HR representative is a vital piece of employee satisfaction in the workplace. HR can mediate and act as your conduit to more effective communications with your employees. If you’re on a budget and can’t hire a full time, in-person staff member, you can find plenty of virtual HR companies who can work with you to help support your new, growing staff.

 

  1. Offer benefits

The costs of healthcare and other employee benefits are skyrocketing, but offering employee benefits can help you attract new talent and retain existing staff. Employees that have medical benefits often find that perk too valuable to lose, so they stay longer in the job. In addition to healthcare, consider offering 401k matching and/or profit sharing. 3%, 4%, or even 6% company matching helps and goes a long way. It keeps people working as they see their retirement grow. It is a win-win situation when you have employees that are appreciated.

 

  1. Conduct Training

New staff want to know how to do their jobs well. Empower your employees to be their best by training them on their specific roles and minimize overload. It’s also important for new employees to learn about the history, mission, goals and future forecast of the company they work for, so training is a great time to share your business’s story. Remember, these folks are new, but they have value to add to your growing business right away.

By taking these steps you are setting up for success as you task out the next move for your growing business. Employee satisfaction, consistency and communication are vital in expanding, and it is important to remind yourself why you are growing and why you are where you are today. Ultimately, success will continue if you hire the right people for your team and treat them well.

Need to get your ducks in a row before your business’ busy season? Let IOU Financial help you secure additional capital so you can hire during your slow season, get employees trained, and serve more customers when demand is high!

Timing and Scenarios to Consider Before Giving an Employee a Raise

In today’s environment, employees tend to feel as they are working WAY harder than they have in years past. They are taking on additional responsibilities and feel under compensated. For companies in the position to use raises to reward and retain employees, the common question is often, “When is the right time to offer an employee a raise?” Ultimately it’s your job as a business owner or manager to identify the right time to initiate that dialogue. Small businesses can’t afford to just give away money, so we’re presenting the following scenarios and times that indicate a raise could add to your bottom line when other employee retention ideas just wont cut it.

 

Three Scenarios to Consider Before Offering a Raise:

 

  1. Longevity and Loyalty

Employees with proven commitment and long-term loyalty are great candidates for a raise. They help your small business grow because they have continued positive attitudes and focus driving business in the door and not out of it. Before making your decision, have a discussion with the employee about their long-term goals within your company. Don’t wait until it’s too late (a resignation letter) before evaluating important team members that have demonstrated their value.

 

  1. Innovative Employees

Do you have an employee that routinely steps outside the box to help make the workplace more productive? Is there a member of your team that spearheads new ideas and concepts on their own without shying away from the additional responsibilities involved? This type of employee is self-motivated, driven, and confident. Reward the mindset of goal orientation. Innovation is something that continually drives companies to develop better products, bring in great ideas and help ride the waves of an up and down market. Set an example that being motivated and results-driven is rewarded in your small business.

 

  1. Employees’ Consistent Results

Does your organization have that one sales person that consistently blows their quotas out of the water? Is there an employee that is always on top of their metrics? Maybe you’ve consistently received high praise about a specific employee from customers. Pay attention to specific feedback and achievement of goals among team members over time to identify employees that aren’t just a flash in the pan, helping to ensure you’ll get a great return on the money spent on a raise. Sales people are particularly performance and money motivated, so monitoring progress towards goals allows you to define additional compensation-related incentives.

 

Three Key Opportunities to Offer a Raise:

 

  1. Employees’ Annual Review

Raises mean more when they are awarded less frequently, but often enough that they might be on employees’ minds. An employee’s annual review is a perfect (albeit conventional) time to discuss compensation and consider a raise. It’s when you both reflect on the past years’ work and the value the employee has had on your company. When a positive employee review illustrates proven results, successfully handling additional responsibilities, and team-oriented thinking, a raise is one way to reward and foster that type of work ethic. A raise tied to a performance review can also help motivate your employee with an increased sense of their value and improve their job satisfaction.

 

  1. Hiring Additional Employees

If you’re accomplishing the goals you’ve set for yourself, hopefully, your small business is growing. As such, you’re going to need more staff. While you might be juggling budgets to find the funds to expand the headcount, don’t forget about the folks who have been holding down the fort while responsibilities continued to increase. These employees have been carrying extra weight, probably working beyond their original job duties, and are responsible for putting your company in a position to grow the team. Before hiring that next employee, consider giving these key performers a raise because you will be relying on them to train and help new staff learn the ropes. Offering this raise rewards those who are going to continue to share the growing pains right alongside you.

 

  1. Promotions

When employees think promotion, they’re usually thinking more money too. When employers think promotion, they’re probably thinking about increased productivity and additional value to their company (and yes, more money). When an employer offers up a promotion it says the employee’s work is highly valued and that management is confident that they will succeed at the next level. Of course, the next level comes with additional or different types of responsibilities, which often means a new level of salary, making it the perfect time to offer up a raise. It is a great reinforcement and return on your employee investment.

 

With even the most optimal situation, triple check to ensure you have the funds to provide a raise that is sustainable. Give your employees a roadmap to achieve future raises. Give yourself time to evaluate employee performance by making it part of your annual review process, and maintain consistency and fairness.

 

If you know you need to increase the salary of a few key employees, but need to stabilize your cash flow to make that happen, consider a small business loan from IOU Financial. Many small businesses use working capital to hire more staff, and give promotions when needed.

 

1200x60-budgetsmartsheetad

3 Employee Retention Ideas for a Bootstrapped Budget

Employee Retention Ideas for a Bootstrapped Budget

All good small business owners know the value of key employees and their importance to their business’ success. They’ve invested time to find qualified candidates, contributed resources to train them, and are acutely aware of the significant financial and opportunity losses that would be incurred if an employee left the company. While some employee retention strategies rely on high salaries that far exceed the market average, not all organizations can afford this. So what is a bootstrapped company to do when it comes to attracting and keeping valuable employees?

There are many affordable strategies for employers to implement, and many are easier (and perhaps more fun!) to implement than you might think. It’s important to remember that money isn’t the only factor that affects employee satisfaction. Individuals value other benefits, such as flexible schedules, opportunities to grow, as well as appreciation in the form of small rewards. In this article, we will review three ideas for employee retention that don’t involve higher salaries.

 

Flexible Schedule

More and more businesses around the world are beginning to see the value of flexible schedules. While the traditional 9-5 dominates most corporate schedules, that leaves employees with little to no time to run personal errands, such as make doctor appointments or pick up their children from school. Offering your staff the flexibility to set their own schedules, whether it be to come in and leave earlier, or simply take a big break in the middle of the day, can be a big draw to keep them at your firm. In fact, a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management found that 89% of the human resources professionals surveyed reported that having flexible work arrangements positively impacted their employee retention.

 

Mentorship Programs

A big priority for all people, especially those just entering the workforce, is the opportunity to advance their careers. While all good employee retention strategies should involve promoting from within, employee empowerment can be further achieved through the establishment of mentorship programs. Connecting seasoned and experienced employees with those recently out of college will provide invaluable industry advice and connections to your staff. Providing your team members with this opportunity to either share their expertise or learn from industry experts is empowering and can help prevent them from looking for other work opportunities.

 

Small Rewards

For employees to feel valued at the company they work for, management must make the effort to make the staff feel like they are recognized and rewarded for their hard work. While offering a large bonus may not be feasible, showing your appreciation with small rewards can be just as meaningful. Superstar salespeople can be encouraged to outsell their colleagues with gift cards to their favorite stores or restaurants. Even small denominations such as $25 or $50 can serve as motivation for excellent performance.

Acknowledgement of staff’s time and effort, such as offering your employees a half-day off after they just worked two weeks of overtime, will surely be appreciated. Other small rewards can include one-on-one time with the manager, which is something employees rarely get, catered lunches or simply a park picnic for a chance to get out of the office.

Don’t fall into the trap of believing that your employees are only motivated by money — that is far from the truth. While that does play a role, employees want to feel recognized and appreciated by their management. Flexibility, spontaneity, and creativity can go far to make up for limited funds or bootstrapping. Show your staff that you notice their hard work with small and affordable rewards.

 

An important aside to consider is that as your business’s workload grows, you may reach the point where in order to retain your current employees you need to hire more staff. Employees that are overworked on a consistent basis will look for other work, no matter how many rewards are bestowed upon them. It is advantageous for companies to have enough working capital to hire new staff for busy seasons or periods of increased demand. Small business loans through IOU Financial enable businesses to hire new employees in order to ease the burden their current staff may carry. For more information about how a small business loan can help with staffing needs, contact IOU Financial today.

 

1200x100-budgetsmartsheetad