With the end of the year approaching, small business owners are preparing to spend time with their families, tie up their taxes, perform reviews and continue to fight for their share of holiday sales. Another activity many will be engaged in is creating a list of goals and resolutions that they plan on carrying into the New Year with the aim of improving the health and competitive ability of their companies. When setting a business resolution, as with a personal resolution it is tempting to aim for a radical change, such as giving up a certain guilty pleasure food or promising yourself to give up a vice cold turkey. For this reason, a large number of resolutions never make it more than a couple of months into the year before being forgotten and repackaged for next year. In order to create a set of resolutions that can work for your business, you must think about the goals you can reasonably achieve and how to build

While retail businesses are entering a time when they need all hands on deck, not every small business requires the physical presence of their staff during the holidays, and in fact may benefit in terms of improving employee loyalty and morale from implementing a more flexible work schedule that can allow their employees to spend more time with their families and loved ones. The balance between personal direction and freedom and productivity is one that small business owners need to think about directly, as more freedom can lead to retaining better talent, but too much lenience can create the issue of insufficient communications and missed deadlines. Create a structured process for taking time to work remotely. Provided that your employees aren’t going on vacation, but are committing to working from home during part of the holiday season, you should think in advance in order to define the priority of assignments that you give them and make steps towards allowing them to be both flexible and accountable.

With the holidays here, small business owners aren’t only making sales; some are making purchases of gifts for staff, business partners and mentors. When it comes to picking a perfect, business appropriate gift, there are a few elements that should influence the type of gift that you get, those being the level of familiarity you have with the recipient, their relationship to you and your business, and how much you know about their personal preferences. Giving a gift during the holidays, even a small gift, demonstrates your commitment to a successful relationship and can be a nice way to show your partners that you value them. The gift you get should reflect your relationship with the recipient. The more time you spend with someone, the more you start to pick up on their personal preferences. When it comes to buying gifts, you can use all that you have observed to help you purchase a gift that reflects their tastes on a deeper level. When you work

The holiday season is one that can be bittersweet for small business owners. While it represents one of the best times of year for sales, and can be the difference between make or break to a business owner’s bottom line, there is no debating whether or not all that pressure can add up to some major stress, not only on business owners themselves but on their staff as well. While it’s not a time to turn back the dial unless you are truly trying to do way too much, in which case hiring some temporary workers might be in order, that’s not to say that you should ignore the signs of stress you and your employees are feeling and push ahead without making an effort to manage it. Start the day with a reminder of your goals as a team. While every staff member is working on getting what needs to get done taken care of, people’s moods can start to rise and create the fuel for

Research studies at the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO), Brigham Young University and the Center for Health Research at Healthways indicate that employees who ate healthy meals and exercised regularly showed higher job performance and lower absenteeism. Workers who maintained a healthy diet throughout the day were 25% more likely to perform better on the job. Those that exercised for at least 30 minutes three times a week were 15% more likely to be more productive at work. Carter Coberley, vice president of Health Research and Outcomes at Healthways, noted that well-being is gaining recognition as an important measure that relates not only to the quality of life for the individual but also to financial measures that are important to businesses. This is seen in the direct correlation between the health and well-being of employees and employee absence and job performance. The study was based on data collected from geographically dispersed US companies and was published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. What

  A recent article from Bloomberg Businessweek assessed the situation in the US regarding maternity leave and other benefits for expecting mothers in the workforce. The situation is not great, with Papua New Guinea the only other country with no guaranteed leave for the care of newborn children, and only 5% of American companies offering fully paid maternity leave, according to the article. When it comes to small businesses, even less is being done, since businesses that are under 50 employees technically don’t have to provide maternity leave at all to their employees. Are business owners overestimating the value of maternity leave? The value of maternity leave in terms of hard currency may be less than the positive value that comes with being flexible. In an environment where many businesses are reporting having problems finding and keeping top tier talent, playing up the flexibility advantage that comes along with a smaller business setting is a prudent move. It is better to plan in advance to cover

The internet is a tool that has limitless possibilities, which in turn makes it especially easy to abuse in an office setting without a well understood internet policy. That said, when a business owner is overly restrictive with their internet policies, it can hurt morale which in turn has the ability to hurt productivity. Often, the reason that employees use the internet in a non-work context is not because they wish to shirk their responsibilities, but because they might be unclear on the priorities that they should be working on. Establishing clear goals and protocols for clarifying tasks during the workday can help to keep employees moving consistently in the right direction. What does your team need to do their jobs, and what represents a distraction that has the potential to impede their productivity? Generally, listening to music and sending a couple of persona emails in the course of a day falls within the realm of appropriate internet usage. It’s only when distractions such as watching

Chipotle is a massively successful business by anyone’s estimation, and as revealed in an article by Paul Petrone that appeared on LinkedIn, one of the key pillars to that success is their powerful hiring and onboarding process. It’s their process that allows them to take entry level employees at a fast food chain and get dedication out of them which allows them to strive and build long term career goals within the organization. The motivation is that at the end of their career path, someone who begins their career earning $9 an hour will be making $87k, creating a clear incentive to stick around. In addition, there are incentives in place for managers to promote from within, meaning that those who are eager to learn will be sought out and trained more intensely by their superiors, creating the means for them to progress more rapidly with the right training. It’s a catalyst for hands on training and involvement at every level, and it is something

According to a Chase survey on Small Business Outlook, one in ten small business owners claimed to be “extremely concerned” with attracting qualified talent to work in their businesses, with commonly cited steps to combat the deficiency being offering higher wages to targeted talent, offering non-financial compensation such as flexibility in hours or a larger stake in the company, and settling for lowered skill sets. It is this last strategy that is troubling, since smaller businesses often rely on hiring the right talent proportionally much more than larger businesses, which may have the effect of any individual employee diluted by the presence of staff with overlapping or redundant functions. Business owners can create strategies to vie for the talent that they need. Instead of accepting talent that may not be qualified, business owners should create strategies for bringing on the employees that they are really seeking. When it comes to things that small businesses can compete on with larger corporations, salary might not be one of

We’ve written before on this blog about some of what goes into creating a pet friendly workplace, and while it’s not always easy to set up the means to support having furry friends in the office, for business owners who either have employees who place a high value on time with their companion animals, who themselves have pets or  see the potential to do more business by creating a pet friendly atmosphere, it can be worth it provided they have an understanding of the potential cons as well. Is your entire staff ready for pets, or will this cause divisions? Having an animal in the office may be logistically safe after you spend the time needed to identify potential hazards and remove them, but will it create problems among your employees? Making sure that your staff is on the same page about wanting animals in the office should be done before changing your policy. It may be the case that an employee is allergic to animals

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