How to Fix 5 Common Talent Management Mistakes

June 28th, 2017 Comments off
Common Talent Management Mistakes

Talent management today is no easy task at a small business. While may have fewer employees to keep track of, there’s still a lot to handle – from workforce planning to recruiting and hiring to onboarding to development to benefits management, and everything in between. With so much on your plate, even the most seasoned HR professionals can make mistakes. Take a look at some of the most common talent management mistakes and the steps you can take to fix them.

Mistake #1: Your Recruiting Process Is Too Long

If your application process is too long, it could be costing you quality candidates: 60 percent of job seekers have started – but not finished – filling out an online application because it was too long, according to CareerBuilder research. How long is “too long”? The majority of job seekers (62 percent) feel the application process should take 20 minutes at the most, and 29 percent even believe it should take no more than 10 minutes. Look at your own application process and see where there might be ways to streamline the process. (If you post your jobs to CareerBuilder, one quick solution is using CareerBuilder Apply, which enables candidates to apply quickly to a posting on the spot.) Once you start bringing candidates in for interviews, know what you are looking for and make sure everyone involved in the hiring process is on board so you can make a decision as quickly as possible. The entire process should last no more than three to four weeks; otherwise, you risk losing your top candidates to competitors.

Mistake #2: You Don’t Have Career Paths for Your Employees

One of the limitations of working at a small business is that opportunities to move up can be few and far between. But that doesn’t mean you can’t carve out meaningful career paths for your employees; after all, not every career path has to follow a conventional route. Work with your employees to understand their career aspirations and map out a plan to help them develop and grow. This may take some creativity. Look for areas within the company that may be opening up or growing. Give employees time to work on pet projects (which they can tie back to the business). Encourage them to come up with new business ideas or products that enable them to showcase their skills and build on their strengths.

Mistake #3: You’re Not Putting Any Effort Into Retention

Perhaps you’ve gotten the hiring process down and have made some quality hires. But are you doing anything to ensure those hires stick around? While it’s important to hire great people, it’s just as crucial to put the same – if not more – energy into retaining them. While it may not seem like you have a problem with turnover, you may be missing the warning signs. Don’t wait until employees start walking out the door to tackle turnover. Utilize employee engagement surveys or conduct stay interviews to understand what keeps your employees engaged and where there are opportunities for improvement.

Mistake #4: You Don’t Always Run Background Checks

More than half of small business employers have found a mistake on a resume, according to CareerBuilder research. Consistent background checking on candidates can minimize hiring mistakes by verifying a candidate’s resume claims. Not only do consistent background checks minimize hiring mistakes by verifying candidates’ resume claims, they also improve workplace safety and minimize negligent hiring claims.

Mistake #5: You Do Everything Manually

Do you ever find yourself wishing you had more hours in the day? Are you keeping track of everything on Excel spreadsheets? Has a huge part of your job become inputting data and filing papers? It doesn’t have to be like this. Human capital management technology has become a necessity in today’s workplace – even for small businesses. Not only can automating HR processes – from onboarding and benefits enrollment to background screening – save you time and money, it can eliminate costly human errors. The less time you spend on administrative tasks, the more time you can spend on other projects.

Take talent management to the next level. Check out the Highly Successful Habits of Small Business Managers.

9 Competitive Benefits for Small Businesses

June 14th, 2017 Comments off
Competitive Benefits

You can’t always offer the competitive salaries that bigger companies can; however, that doesn’t mean you can’t compensate with benefits. Investing in employee benefits can provide a huge return. There are plenty of low-cost benefits you can offer employees that will keep them healthy, happy and engaged in their work, which will benefit your business in the long-term. Not only that, the better the benefits, the more you will be able to attract top talent. Below are just some of the many benefits to consider.

Health care. Deciding on the right health care plan for your small business can be complicated; however, most employees want and expect a health plan as part of their benefits package. Therefore, offering health insurance, even if it’s not required for your small business, can be a competitive differentiator in a tight labor market. For help figuring out how to navigate the laws and regulation that apply to your business under various health plans, check out the Department of Labor’s Health Benefits Advisor interactive website, Health Care and Health Care Reform page and An Employer’s Guide to Group Health Continuation Coverage Under COBRA.

Flex time. Giving employees more flexibility with their work schedules can help them achieve a better work-life balance. Giving employees the resources necessary to create a healthy work-life balance can result in higher levels of job satisfaction, productivity and retention, among other advantages.

Corporate discounts. Gone are the days when only large companies could get corporate discounts for products and services. Companies like PerkSpot, Fond and Corporate Perks help small businesses provide discounts for employees on everything from gym memberships to dining and entertainment to travel services.

Casual Fridays: In a 2015 CareerBuilder survey, the ability to wear jeans to work was among the top five most-wanted perks among employees. Even allowing employees to wear jeans or more casual attire on Fridays can have numerous benefits. Not only can it boost morale, but some believe it can increase creativity and productivity among employees as well.

Free food: Providing free office snacks (or lunch) can be a huge competitive advantage when it comes to attracting top talent. Not only is free food at the office a desirable office perk (catered lunches ranked among the top three most-wanted office perks in the same CareerBuilder study), research has linked it to higher levels of happiness at work, which can lead to higher levels of productivity and retention. But don’t think any snack will do. Healthy snacks (fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, yogurt, etc.) are better to keep employees focused and energized (prevent those 2 pm sugar crashes).

Pet-friendly offices: This is another benefit that will cost you next to nothing but could reap huge rewards in terms of higher productivity and retention. Not only does letting employees bring their cats or dogs to work relieve them of the stress of finding a dog-sitter, having animals around can also decrease stress levels among all employees.

Unlimited vacation: Offering unlimited vacation time to employees certainly comes with risks. What if employees abuse the policy? But more and more companies are offering this option as a way to retain top employees and attract in-demand talent. Not only are employees responsible with the freedom, but they tend to work harder before and after their absences. Moreover, trusting employees with this freedom can promote feelings of loyalty and boost morale.

Volunteering days off: More companies are supporting employees’ philanthropic efforts by providing time off to volunteer. Others are organizing company-wide volunteer days, which is almost as good for your business as it is for the community. Not to mention that being a socially responsible company is an attractive feature for millennial workers who want to make a difference.

Game rooms. Game rooms may seem like a productivity-killing distraction, but they might do just the opposite. Not only can they provide a much-needed break from the daily grind, enabling employees to go back to their desk revitalized and ready to work, but they also promote cross-team interactions, which makes for better collaboration.

Looking for more ways to keep employees happy? Check out 6 Ways to Stop Employee Turnover In Its Tracks


Why Your Small Business Needs an EVP and 5 Steps to Build It

June 7th, 2017 Comments off
Employee EVP


If someone were to ask you right now, “What is your EVP?” Would you be able to answer them right away? Or would you have to stop and think about it? Or would you have no idea what they were talking about?

An EVP is short for “employee value proposition.” It’s the set of offerings a company promises its employees in return for contributing their time and talent. What do your employees love about working for your company? What makes working for your company unlike working anywhere else? What benefits – both tangible (health insurance, quarterly bonuses) and intangible (a good work-life balance, autonomy) – do you offer your employees? What does working for your company represent to the outside world? These are all questions that help shape your EVP.

Why you need to define your employee value proposition. Your EVP is critical to attracting the candidates you need and communicating what makes your company a great place to work. It helps you stand apart from other businesses competing for talent and helps strengthen your employment brand. The process of defining your EVP will help you:

  • Re-engage current employees. In order to understand your current EVP and shape it, you have to first talk to your current employees and understand what they value. Enabling them to be a part of this process will not only help you understand their needs, it will empower them knowing that they are making an impact.
  • Refine your recruitment marketing message. Understanding what people love about working for your organization and what makes your company unique will inform the way you communicate with potential candidates moving forward.
  • Attract the right candidates. Sure, you want to attract top talent, but you also want to attract the talent who fit your culture. The more clearly you define and communicate your EVP, the more potential candidates will be able to identify if they are a good cultural fit.
  • Strengthen your business as a whole. According to a study by Towers Watson, companies that deliver a unique EVP — one that integrates total rewards and aligns with the business strategy — are five times more likely to report highly engaged employees and twice as likely to report higher financial performance than their peers.


Here are 5 steps to creating your employee value proposition.

Step 1: Look at the data. If you have any workforce data you’ve collected through the years – such as employee engagement surveys, performance or 360 reviews or exit interviews – start there. This type of data can provide insight into your employees’ level of satisfaction, their opinion of the company and any areas that may be a need improvement.

Step 2: Ask your employees. Who better to help you understand what you offer employees than your employees themselves? Whether through surveys, one-on-one meetings, roundtable discussions or focus groups, solicit honest feedback from your current employees to get a better understanding of your EVP. Some questions to ask include:

  • What made you want to work here?
  • What compels you to stay?
  • Which benefits do you use the most?
  • Which benefits do you wish we offered that we don’t?
  • What would you change about working here?
  • Would you recommend working here to others? Why or why not?

Step 3: Create alignment. Does what you think your EVP is (or want it to be) align with what your employees say it is? And does that match what’s important to your ideal candidate? If the answer to either or both of these questions is no, you need to re-assess the situation and figure out what needs to change in order for the perception (what you want your EVP to be) to match the reality (what your EVP actually is).

Step 4: Craft your message. Now it’s time to define your employee value proposition. Write it down. Put it in your employee handbook. Include it on the “About Us” section of your website. Your EVP is part of your employment brand. You should be able to articulate your EVP clearly and with confidence. Anyone visiting your career site or social media pages, getting email communication from your organization or otherwise interacting with your company should easily be able to find and understand what you offer employees that no one else does.

Step 5: Deliver on your promise. It’s not enough to simply create an EVP. You need to follow through on it and ensure you’re living it. Conduct regular surveys with employees to test the effectiveness of your it. Train your managers to understand the EVP and what they need to do to carry it out. (According to the same Towers Watson study mentioned earlier, the most effective companies “train their managers to help articulate the EVP and embed it in their culture.”)

Are you providing value to your employees? Check out What Employees Love About Working for Small Businesses

4 Tips for Measuring Employee Productivity

May 17th, 2017 Comments off
Measuring Employee Productivity

At small businesses, there is always a lot to do, so it’s not hard to stay busy. But are your employees staying productive? You invest a lot in your employees, so you want to ensure they are investing a lot in you as well. So how you are you measuring the return on that investment? Below are some tips to measure the productivity of your small business employees and ways to ensure they meet their potential.

  1. Map out goals. While you may have a clear understanding of your business’ short- and long-term goals, they may not be clear to your employees. Communicate these goals clearly to your employees and then work with them to create individual performance goals that tie directly to the business’ goals. Employees who see how their work contributes to company goals are more engaged and, therefore, more productive than those who don’t see that connection, research shows.
  2. Measure tasks completed, not hours logged. Sure, employees are logging 40-50 hours a week, but are they being productive? As CareerBuilder research has shown, time spent at the office isn’t necessarily time spent working (meanwhile, nearly half of employees do work outside of normal office hours). While it’s tempting to want to track employees’ activity online and when, how often and how long they take breaks, this may not be the best measure of productivity. Not all employees work the same way. While some workers like to work on multiple projects at once or take frequent, short breaks, others prefer to work in longer blocks and knock projects out one at a time. Others may find they work best during off hours or remotely. If you’re only tracking hours logged, you may be missing more important metrics, such as deadlines met, projects completed, or results achieved.Divide work into projects with deadlines according to how long the task should take. Ask employees for their input on how long certain tasks may take and why, and have them log their time spent on projects. Asking employees to log hours will likely be met with some resistance – after all, it may feel as if you do not trust them or are simply adding one more step to their to-do list. Explain to them that logging hours on projects will enable you to get a better understanding of how long it takes to complete certain projects and help you set deadlines moving forward. It will also ensure you are not overloading them with too much work.
  3. Check in often. Ask for daily or weekly status updates to keep tabs on what projects employees are working on, how much progress they are making and if they are running into any challenges. These can be in the form of group emails or in-person, “team huddles.” Share this information with the whole team. While no one wants to add another meeting to their agenda or another item to their to do lists, these status updates not only keep your staff accountable to one another, they will give everyone on the team a better understanding of who’s working on what and where there might be opportunities to collaborate.
  4. Take advantage of free software. While employees can use spreadsheets to track productivity, there are plenty of free or low-cost software options to quickly track and manage productivity. Some to try include iDoneThis, a program that sends email reminders for employees to list their daily accomplishments, which are then compiled a daily digest of the whole team’s accomplishments. With 15Five, employees take 15 minutes each week to answer questions regarding their work, which managers then review and provide feedback on. With programs like Basecamp, Trello and Asana, employees can add their tasks for the day/week/month, check them off as they’re completed and share them with others.


Categories: industry news Tags:

How to Succeed as a One-Person HR Team

May 10th, 2017 Comments off
One-person HR Team

While running a one-person HR team certainly has its challenges – from having to juggle multiple tasks at once to ensuring compliance with various rules and regulations – it also has its advantages as well. For one thing, as a one-man (or woman) show, you do not need to worry about adhering to traditional HR departmental structure and can create your own system that works for you. There is also less red tape to cut through when trying to implement new policies or try new software. But even the most independent-minded and organized HR pros need help every once in a while. Below are some tips to help you thrive as an HR team of one.

Create a plan. They say failing to plan is planning to fail, so start by creating a plan with what you want to accomplish and when. Make a calendar to keep tabs on important dates such as EEO1 filing, benefit enrollment periods, form I-9 expiration dates and other important deadlines. Then make a list of short- and long-term goals. Once you know what you want to accomplish, you can create a list of steps needed to reach these goals. Maintaining a list of goals, due dates and steps to accomplish these goals will help your HR team of one stay on track – even when unexpected issues arise (and they always do).

Find a trusted legal counselor or consultant. As an HR team of one, you have to ensure safe, secure and legal employment practices at all times. Having an attorney on hand whom you can trust can save you time researching issues and provide much-needed expertise as well as an outside perspective on such issues. Many HR teams have legal counsel on retainer to help with matters such as administrative investigations and audits, documentation preparation and review, wage compliance and employee/independent contractor classification.

Stay informed. As a one-person HR department, it is your job to stay ahead of the latest news affecting HR. Subscribe to industry newsletters for articles, tools and tips to help you solve HR issues and plan for the future. Sign up for free webinars and look for networking events where you can connect with fellow HR experts, who can provide advice and input. If you have room in your budget, sign up for an industry conference (such as HR Tech or SHRM) for further learning and networking opportunities.

Use social media to your advantage. Today, social media plays a big role in recruitment and employee engagement. Companies use social media for everything from researching job candidates to advertising job postings and attracting job applicants. (Get tips on social media recruiting for small businesses here.) Social media can also help you learn about important HR trends and get insider advice when you follow influential HR bloggers.

Get to know the staff one on one. It’s essential to get to know the management team and staff as deeply as possible. Schedule meetings with each division head and anyone else involved in the process of hiring, firing and performance management. While the meetings do not need to be formal, make sure you have an agenda for each meeting in order to stay focused and ensure you get the most out of each meeting. Learn about the organizational goals and how you can help meet those goals. Regular communication with management will help you stay ahead of upcoming business changes that will affect employees and help you plan accordingly.

Embrace technology. Investing in HR technology might be the smartest move you make as an HR team of one. The right HR technology can reduce time spent on administrative tasks by up to 50 percent and save up to 40 percent on administrative tasks. Not only does it save you time on tasks such as running payroll, enrolling employees in benefits, generating management reports and running background checks, technology also helps to minimize human error. While implementing HR technology requires an investment of both time and money, in the long run, it will save you both, helping you become more efficient and avoid costly hiring mistakes.


Categories: industry news Tags: ,

6 Ways to Stop Employee Turnover in Its Tracks

April 26th, 2017 Comments off
stop employee turnover

At small businesses, employee turnover is no small deal. Staff sizes are already small, so when one person leaves, it makes an impact on both productivity and morale. As you take the time (and money) to hire and train someone new, the rest of the employees are left must pick up the slack. Instead of waiting for employees to quit, stop employee turnover before it starts. Below are the major reasons employees leave their jobs – and what you can do to prevent them.

  1. No opportunities for advancement. One of the major reasons employees leave their jobs is that they do not see any chance to advance at their current companies. This is especially common at small businesses, where opportunities for upward mobility are few and far between. But that doesn’t mean you can’t help employees create a satisfying career path that meets their goals. (Get more tips for creating a career path for your small business.)
  2. They have no work-life balance. Not only does helping employees achieve a healthy work-life balance help them, it’s good for business. Ask your employees what you can do to ease their schedules and see if you can arrange to let them work from home a few times a month or create more flexible schedules. (Learn more ways to help employees achieve work-life balance.)
  3. They are burned out. Employee burnout is all too common in workplaces where workers are constantly challenged to “do more with less.” When push comes to shove, employees may start to look elsewhere for a less stressful environment. If you think this is the case at your company, there are steps you can take to lighten their workload, reduce stress and prevent burnout, such as helping them prioritize projects and manage their time or bringing in some temporary help.
  4. They don’t get along with their bosses. An estimated 50 percent of workers have left a job “to get away from a bad manager,” according to Gallup research. But what defines a bad manager? In a separate CareerBuilder study, workers who showed the least satisfaction with their bosses said they needed improvement in the following areas: communication style, attitude toward employees, equal treatment of employees and recognition of employees’ good work. Make sure your managers are providing your employees the support they need. Survey your employees to find out where management could improve and take the necessary measures to to fix these areas.
  5. They don’t get along with their co-workers. Just as important as getting along with your boss is getting along with your employees. Research shows a direct link between job satisfaction and how well people get along with their colleagues. Unfortunately, not all companies get along “like family.” Learn the signs of a toxic work culture and, if you recognize them, take steps to eliminate the problem.  
  6. They want more pay. This is a tough area for small businesses, where they cannot always pay as much as bigger companies. If you can’t afford to offer your employees a raise, you may be able to offer perks that can help them save money and help fill the compensation gap. These include transportation and tuition reimbursement, telecommuting options and extra PTO. (For more ideas, check out What to Offer Your Employees When You Can’t Offer a Raise.)

With small businesses, where the HR “team” is often a one-person operation, managing your workforce is no easy task. Consider looking into human capital management software, which can help small businesses automate workplace tasks, making it easier to manage everything from employee benefits, to the onboarding process to background checks. This way, your HR teams are less burdened with paperwork and better able to tend to employees’ needs on a human level, which can have a direct impact on employee satisfaction and retention.

Want to find out how your employees really feel about their jobs? Ask them. Check out The Best Questions for Your Employee Engagement Survey.


4 Recruitment Metrics Every Small Business Needs

April 19th, 2017 Comments off
recruitment metrics

Small business owners who leave recruitment metrics to the “big guys” may be missing out on important information that could improve efficiency and minimize hiring mistakes. Don’t become overwhelmed by all the possible metrics to track. Instead, focus your limited time and resources on ones that will yield data you can use to make better decisions. Here are some of the most valuable to small businesses:

Every small business leader wants a good retention rate. Finding and training new employees is costly, and vacant positions affect productivity. Turnover is an area for which both quantitative and qualitative information is crucial. Keep track of all employees by position and length of service.

If new hire turnover rates are problematic, it may mean you need to place greater emphasis on cultural fit when hiring or develop a stronger onboarding program. Anyone who leaves your small business should be given an exit survey, which will help you spot departure trends such as salary concerns or difficulty working with a particular colleague.

Applications completed
Figuring out how many people started an application to your small business versus the number who actually submitted can show if your process has a problem. Perhaps potential talent gets discouraged by too many input fields or a career site that doesn’t run well on mobile devices. Improving the candidate experience may lead to a better, larger pool.

Offer ratios
While small business owners often interview quite a few people for a position because they want to find the “perfect” match, a lengthy process takes up valuable time and effort. Keep tabs on how often you bring in someone but fail to extend a job offer. You may need to work on attracting better matches through a more targeted job description and recruiting campaign, or you may need to redefine your own expectations.

Also, take a look at your rates for another wasteful scenario — how many offers you extend versus the number of candidates who accept employment at your small business. Alarming numbers may signal a need to revise compensation or to work on finding better cultural fits. Pinpoint trends by collecting reasons behind their decision to decline.

Best sources

Finally, small business leaders always want to get the most bang for their buck. Monitoring which recruitment sources are yielding the best results enables better allocation of resources. Gathering such information is as easy as making a spread sheet. List where each hire came from (such as an employee referral, specific job board, social media channel, or internship), and rate the quality of that hire on a 1-10 scale. Over time, patterns will emerge as to which recruitment methods are the most fruitful for your small business.

Ready to go one step further? Check out Why and How Small Businesses Can Use HR Technology

4 Essential Soft Skills for Small Business

April 12th, 2017 Comments off
Soft skills - manager click on button to purchase soft skills training.

Hard skills undoubtedly play a vital part in an employee’s success at a small business. From troubleshooting tech problems to keeping financial records, these competencies enable workers to perform specific job-related duties essential to small business operations.

But a recent CareerBuilder survey showed that the vast majority of employers (77 percent) believe that an employee’s soft skills (less tangible skills associated with one’s personality and ability to relate to others) are just as important as hard skills. In fact, 16 percent of employers said soft skills are more important than hard skills when evaluating candidates for a job.

In order to form a team of employees with outstanding soft skills, you must first determine which soft skills are most vital to your small business. Prized attributes vary by workplace, but four of the most desirable at a small business oftentimes include:


When staff size is limited, every employee’s actions count. Small business owners need workers they can rely on to meet deadlines, deliver quality work, prioritize tasks and act in the best interests of the company. In the CareerBuilder survey, dependability and work ethic tied for the top spot when employers listed the soft skills they look for when hiring.


Members of a small business team must juggle many roles. People who can adapt to the company’s ever-changing needs and aren’t afraid to step out of their comfort zones are invaluable to a small business.


Innovators push small businesses to think outside the box to operate effectively, stay competitive and reach new heights. And because lack of resources tends to be a problem for most small businesses, what company couldn’t use a creative problem-solver who can do more with less?

Positive attitude

In tight quarters, one bad apple quickly spoils the bunch. But workers who can embrace change, remain confident and lift spirits keep themselves and others motivated. Research shows that, of new hires who failed within 18 months, 89 percent of the time it was due to attitudinal reasons (only due to lack of skill 11 percent of the time).

Soft skills, however, can be difficult to measure objectively and even more difficult to spot in potential employees. But small business owners can take the following steps to build a team with the attributes they desire:

  1. Interview with care. Place as much emphasis on evaluating candidates’ soft skills as you would their hard skills. Ask about times the candidate had to overcome a challenge, work with a team, or learn something new. Inquire about time-management strategies. Then, call references to see what they have to say about the potential hire’s attitude and actions.
  2. Teach soft skills. Is someone on your small business staff a to-do list wizard? Assign that person to mentor colleagues less adept at prioritizing and organizing. Or perhaps everyone on the team could benefit from viewing a webinar on expanding creativity or reading a book on increasing positivity.
  3. Set goals. Work with each individual to determine which soft skills could use improvement. Create an action plan, and set a time-frame for evaluation of progress. When members of your small business team know which attributes you require of employees, they’ll work on developing these soft skills just as they would hard ones.


Set your employees up for success. Check out How to Develop Your Small Business Employees Into Leaders.


9 Steps to Improve Communication at Your Small Business

March 29th, 2017 Comments off
improve small business communication

Communication is one of the most essential business skills out there – but not all companies are great at communicating with employees. And that can breed distrust and effectively kill morale. One of the great things about running a small business is the ability to share news easily and efficiently. And with a smaller manager-to-employee relationship, it is easier to give employees individual time and attention. Take advantage of these elements. Here are some tips to improve internal communication at your small business.

  1. Hire with purpose. When hiring, look for candidates with good communication skills. This may be easier said than done. To evaluate a candidate’s communication skills, ask behavioral interview questions such as, “Tell me about a time you had a misunderstanding with a co-worker and how you resolved it.” By looking at past behavior, you can get a glimpse into how a prospective employee may act similarly in the future.
  2. Offer training. Not everyone is skilled at communication, and even those who are could use a brush up on their communication skills from time to time. Have an outside consultant come in and do a one-day workshop with your employees or find a local training program to send them to. Investing in training will not only turn them into better communicators, it will make them more loyal employees once they see that you are invested in their success.
  1. Check in once a day. According to recent Gallup research, employees who have the highest engagement levels at their company typically have some form of daily communication with their managers. Try to check in with your employees once a day, whether it’s face-to-face, over the phone or via email.
  1. Adopt an open-door policy. Having an open-door policy at your company encourage honest, open communication by letting employees come to you at any time with any challenges, concerns or ideas. Not only does this spur productive communication, it also enables you to keep a pulse on any potential problems and address them before they escalate.
  1. Schedule team-building activities. Team-building activities can improve the way individuals work with one another and communicate to solve problems. Not only are they great opportunities to learn, team-building exercises can be fun, acting as a much-needed break from the everyday grind. As a result, you’ll see higher morale and increased productivity, in addition to better communication overall.
  1. Send out regular email communication. Once a month, send out a newsletter (this could fall under the responsibility of one of your employees) to update employees on any company news and plans for what’s to come. This is also a great opportunity to share company wins and recognize individual employees for exceptional work. It’s also a great time to remind employees that they can always come to you or their managers with any questions or concerns.
  1. Be responsive. When employees do come to you with questions or concerns, make sure you respond to them as soon as possible (at least within 24 hours). If you take to long to respond – or don’t respond at all – it sends the message that you don’t truly care about them as employees and will start to look elsewhere for an employer who does.
  1. Hold ‘town forum’ meetings. Once a quarter, get the company together in a relaxed, open ‘town forum’ setting to update employees on the state of the company, discuss future plans, address challenges and celebrate company wins. During these meetings, encourage employees to ask questions, and take the time to address those questions thoughtfully and with candor.
  1. Err on the side of over communication. Leaders tend to overestimate how much they communicate with employees. (And even when they don’t, it is far better to over-communicate than under-communicate.) More often than not, however, employees feel as if they are not getting enough information. Feeling as if they are being kept in the dark can lead to distrust, which can take a toll on morale and affect productivity.

Take communication to the next level. Check out How to Be Candid at Work Without Being Disrespectful.

7 of the Best Online Learning Classes for Small Business Workers

March 22nd, 2017 Comments off
Beautiful smiling female student using online education service. Young woman looking in laptop display watching training course and listening it with headphones. Modern study technology concept

For a small business, providing employees with opportunities to expand their skills and knowledge with continuing education classes and training is invaluable. Not only do employees bring what they’ve learned to their own roles, which benefits the business overall, they also tend to be more satisfied in their jobs and more loyal to their companies. Unfortunately, small businesses do not have unlimited funding to put toward employee education and training. Fortunately, that’s no longer a problem, thanks to the variety of free (or almost free) online learning classes available for individuals of every level to take advantage of. Consider the following:

Udemy: Udemy offers self-paced courses in almost every discipline you could think of – from development to business to creative writing. Some are free while most are reasonably priced – and the site often has price-slashing sales. Sample classes include: Digital Art 101: From Beginner to Pro, The Complete Web Developer Course 2.0 and Ninja Writing: The Four Levels of Writing Mastery

freeCodeCamp: Calling itself “an open source community that helps you learn to code,” freeCodeCamp is one of many code-teaching websites that offer free classes for anyone who wants to learn this increasingly in-demand skill. Users have access to free, interactive courses and tutorials, can get real-time help from experts via chat and can meet other coders nearby, among other benefits. Sample topics include HTML5, JavaScript, CSS3 and GitHub.

HubSpot Academy: HubSpot Academy offers a free inbound marketing certification for marketing pros, entrepreneurs or anyone looking to grow their business through inbound marketing. Course topics include SEO, blogging, email marketing, social media, and reporting and analytics.

edX: Founded by Harvard University and MIT, edX’s mission is to “increase access to high-quality education for everyone, everywhere.” edX offers over 950 free courses, across various disciplines, from its over 90 partners, including UC Berkley, Dartmouth, and Notre Dame. There’s even a MicroMasters program, with courses designed to accelerate your Master’s degree. Sample courses include: Artificial Intelligence, Marketing Analytics: Data Tools and Techniques, Professional Android App Development and Advanced Leadership for Engineers.

Coursera: Like edX, Coursera partners with top universities – Johns Hopkins, Stanford and Duke, to name a few – to offer free classes “taught by top instructors from the world’s best universities and educational institutions” to anyone, from anywhere, in almost any field of interest. Courses start as low as $29 and include Data Analysis and Presentation Skills, Economics of Money and Banking, and Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills.

LearnVest: An estimated 37 percent of employees at small businesses live paycheck to paycheck, and 67 percent are in debt. So even if you’re not in the financial services industry, LearnVest’s library of on-demand and live-streaming courses can turn your employees into better financial planners. LeanVest covers everything from budgeting and home buying to smart investing and retirement. Remember, the less they worry about their own money matters, the more present they can be at their job.

Duolingo: If you’re looking to expand your business overseas, Duolingo is worth looking into. Duolingo utilizes gamification to teach users a second language (or third or fourth) in a way that’s “fun and addictive,” according to its website. And by downloading Duolongo’s Android and iOS apps, users can easily learn while on a lunch break or on the go. Courses include German, French, Spanish, Italian, Russian and Greek.

Want more employee training resources? Check out Inexpensive Ways to Fund Employee Training and Education


Categories: industry news Tags:

3 Ways Salary Transparency Could Benefit Your Small Business

March 15th, 2017 Comments off
salary transparency

For generations, asking the question “How much do you make?” has been a surefire way to bring a conversation to an uncomfortable pause. Whether for fear of judgment or simply because of cultural conditioning, Americans typically shy away from revealing their salaries and peg someone who inquires as rude. Today, however, salary transparency is becoming more common, as many view it as crucial to issues such as fair pay and career decision-making.

More and more businesses are getting in on the trend, as well. But does salary transparency make sense for your small business? Here are reasons to consider salary transparency and what you need to know.

Salary transparency can aid recruiting efforts.

Savvy job seekers want to see what they stand to earn at your small business. Thanks to the growing number of web-based sources of salary data makes finding out increasingly possible. Millennials, who are accustomed to information being at their fingertips, especially seem drawn to companies that are open about compensation. Likewise, accessible salary information oftentimes increases the number of female applicants, perhaps because they feel greater confidence that they’ll get a fair shake.

A few companies have gone so far as to post what individual employees make to their corporate websites. While such “radical transparency” sounds scary, some small businesses have reported extraordinary results in terms of number and quality of applicants. Experts reason that this may be due to elimination of guesswork. Potential candidates can judge whether the figures fit in with their current and long-term expectations. And better matches from the start increase retention odds for your small business.

Employee satisfaction may increase.

Workers commonly overestimate what others at their office earn. This misconception can lead to higher levels of job dissatisfaction. Salary transparency sets the record straight. If your small business uses a salary formula, sharing it can be especially helpful. Employees will see how factors such as seniority, education and performance affect pay. They’ll have a clearer understanding of the reasoning behind their current salary and a solid idea of how to increase it moving forward. In fact, research has shown that switching from pay secrecy to transparency can boost productivity.

Openness contributes to an atmosphere of trust.

Finally, if your small business prides itself on honest communication, salary revelations can seem natural. A team that sees commitment to fair compensation feels more appreciated and loyal. And with a common base to reference, conversations about salary can become more objective. The large raise a co-worker hired during an economic downturn receives to catch up with current standards will probably be viewed as warranted, not contentious. Trust that your small business employees want to make your workplace as great as it can be, and they likely won’t let you down.

Want more salary advice? Check out What to Offer Your Employees When You Can’t Offer a Raise

6 Ways the Best Small Business Managers Set Themselves Apart

March 1st, 2017 Comments off
best managers

The heights a small business can reach depend largely on the competency of management. But what distinguishes an unsuccessful manager from a successful one? Check out these habits of effective small business managers:

  1. They create and promote a vision. A small business leader with a clearly defined mission sets the stage for accomplishing goals. An overall plan keeps everyone on track because tasks can be looked at in the context of what they contribute to the “big picture.” Sharing the vision ups employee engagement by helping workers feel like a part of something great. Similarly, clarity about what your small business stands for builds a solid brand that attracts customers and potential talent alike.
  2. They organize and prioritize. Small business teams juggle an assortment of tasks on a daily basis. To get things done well and on schedule, managers need to possess excellent time-management They also must convey to their staff where to focus efforts, and they watch that workloads do not become too stressful for any individual.
  3. They lead by example. Managers who work hard, treat others with respect and exhibit positive energy set the tone for a thriving workplace. Company culture starts at the top, so smart small business owners assess their own actions and behaviors before looking at anyone else’s.
  4. They encourage others to take ownership. Successful small business managers work diligently to hire people they can trust to perform well. With this capable support system in place, leaders needn’t feel like they must constantly monitor activities or do everything themselves. Some of the best train their employees to be solution-oriented. For instance, when a staff member brings up a problem or complaint, these bosses ask that possible suggestions to fix or remedy it be presented too.
  5. They know when to seek help. Good small business leaders realize that outside assistance can be vital to growth. This might involve hiring experts to implement a tech upgrade or turning to network connections for advice on hiring strategies. In today’s ever-changing global marketplace, reaching out can be the difference between a small business evolving with the times or stagnating.
  6. They communicate. The most successful small business managers put a premium on communication because they see it as the key to building relationships. They solicit input from customers, vendors and employees in order to judge what is working and what needs improvement. They know that listening doesn’t simply mean keeping quiet while others talk, and they truly aim to comprehend and assess what is being said in order to respond accordingly. Lastly, they realize the importance of timely, thoughtful feedback. Constructive conversation prevents minor problems from becoming larger ones, and appreciative praise lets others know exactly what they are doing correctly to make the small business a better place.


Take your management skills to the next level. Check out How to Build Trust with Your Employees.

Family-Owned Business? Tips for Success

February 24th, 2017 Comments off
family-owned business

Working alongside family members to create a thriving small business can make success even sweeter. The long hours seem less grueling with people you care about by your side, and contributing to a common goal adds new depth to your interpersonal bonds.

But before adopting Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family” as your small business’s anthem, realize that such an arrangement also provides a unique set of challenges that must be addressed. Here are some common issues family-owned small businesses face and ideas for overcoming them.

Put everything in writing

Who needs a piece of paper when you’re dealing with family, right? Wrong! Spelling things out from the start prevents misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and fights because the written documents serve as a point of reference. Details your small business needs to hammer out include:

  • What are each person’s specific tasks and responsibilities?
  • How will decisions be made?
  • What is the chain of command?
  • How will compensation be determined now and in the future?
  • How will unexpected events such as additional costs and overtime be handled?
  • What are the company’s long-term goals and its succession plan?

Treat people fairly

When it comes to managing family members, small business leaders often fall prey to extremes. They may fail to hold their relatives to the same high standards as other employees, or they may push too hard and be overly critical. Either scenario sets the stage for resentment and discord.

Awareness of this tendency and thoughtful, periodic evaluation can help. Review the job description as for any employee, set benchmarks, and offer positive and negative feedback as merited. Aim for objectivity over emotion, and refrain from dragging personal beefs or family baggage into the discussion.

Prioritize communication

While frequent, prompt communication should be a priority at any small company, it is especially vital at a family business. Undiscussed problems run the risk of causing damage both in and out of the office. Create an atmosphere in which every team member – family or not – is encouraged to speak up. Such openness increases morale and prevents “little” tensions from blowing up.

Leave work at the office

Finally, don’t let your small business get in the way of enjoying time with loved ones outside the workplace. Constantly “talking shop” takes away from nurturing other aspects of your relationship. Try a no-business-at-the-dinner-table rule, cheer on a beloved baseball team together, or simply catch a movie that makes you both laugh. And don’t forget to give each other space. Pursuing individual interests will provide new stories to tell around the water cooler back at the office.

Is work interfering with personal life? Check out 7 Ways to Help Employees Achieve Work-Life Balance.

How to Assess Potential Employees Using Pre-Employment Tests

February 22nd, 2017 Comments off
pre-employment tests to assess potential employees

When staff size is small, each individual makes a huge impact. Anything that helps a leader choose better employees can pay off with greater productivity, increased morale and decreased turnover rates. While no magic formula exists that guarantees which candidates will fit best at your small business, a variety of assessments can assist with hiring decisions.

Some small business owners write off pre-employment tests as too costly or time-consuming, but such thoughts need to be weighed against the resources wasted on training the “wrong” person and starting the recruitment process over again. Here are some different types of screenings and techniques to consider when evaluating talent for your small business.

(Before administering any testing related to hiring employees, be sure they are legal and non-discriminatory according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.)

Background checks

If you’re not conducting background checks on every new hire, you could be putting your business at risk. More than 1 in 2 small business employers (54 percent) have caught a lie on a candidate’s resume. Background checks can reveal red flags such as a criminal record or misrepresenting educational attainment. Even just knowing background checks will be made promotes applicant honesty.

Some small business employers try to handle checks on their own through do-it-yourself sites, but experts warn that information obtained in this manner is often inaccurate and limited. Turning to a company accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) can be a better, and oftentimes less costly, option. Professionals know the various screens available and can pinpoint which ones will yield information valuable to your particular needs.

Personality tests

About 80 percent of Fortune 100 companies rely on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or similar personality inventories to build more effective teams. But since web-based psychometric tests are becoming less expensive and more convenient, small businesses increasingly are turning to them too. Some, such as the 16PF (Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire), even ask about reactions to certain situations on the job.

Things that small business owners may be interested in finding out from personality tests include:

  • How a candidate’s traits line up with those desirable for the position.
  • Strength at interpersonal relationships (a must for a small staff working in tight quarters).
  • Likelihood of leaving for other opportunities.
  • What motivates this particular person.
  • Abundance or lack of attributes that support the company’s values and mission.


Skill assessments

These “show what you know” tests help limit hiring bias and allow candidates to back up their resume claims. Think about which competencies are most important to the role at hand, and look for assessments that measure those abilities. Consider consulting a company that specializes in pre-employment testing. Whether you’re interested in leadership, data entry, or customer service, chances are a premade assessment exists.

Test drives

Perhaps the ultimate way to judge how a person might perform for your small business is a trial run. This could involve bringing someone on temporarily with the option to hire after a specified time period, or you might treat candidates as consultants and pay them to complete a project on their own. These arrangements allow both sides to judge fit before entering into a permanent arrangement. And while such a set-up involves time and money, the investment can be returned many times over by cutting down on turnover and finding someone who truly will benefit your small business.

Ready to hire? Learn how to create a great new hire experience.

9 Steps to Creating an Amazing First Week for Your New Hire

February 20th, 2017 Comments off
create a great first week for your new hire

You’ve found someone with the talent and passion to truly make an impact on your small business. Now, do everything you can to help your new hire feel welcome and important. Use these nine tips to create an effective, unforgettable first week that will set the tone for a prosperous tenure at your small business.

No. 1: Get bureaucracy out of the way. The most memorable thing about the first day shouldn’t be an endless stream of forms. Send whatever paperwork you can ahead of time to fill out at home. (Your new hire will appreciate not being put on the spot for an emergency contact.) Include an employee handbook, too.

No. 2: Send welcome emails. Provide your small business team with background on their newest colleague and the person’s start date. Then, encourage them to send individual introductory messages. Knowing something about others before stepping foot in the office will up the newbie’s comfort level and provide icebreaking material.

No. 3: Check in. Call the day or so before the start date to express excitement and answer any last-minute questions. Providing info on parking, building security, ID to bring and exactly where to go can ease those first-morning jitters. And let your new hires know they needn’t brown bag that first day; you’ll be providing lunch for the office in celebration of their arrival.

No. 4: Prepare a space. Don’t leave your enthusiastic new team members feeling like an uninvited guest. A ready-to-go station with working tech, passwords set up, and ample supplies shows you’re anticipating all the contributions they will make to your small business. For a nice touch, add company swag and a gift card to the neighboring coffee shop.

No. 5: Give the grand tour. Besides learning practical things like the location of the copier, walking around the facilities provides a taste of all the activities going on at your busy small business. To build a sense of purpose, emphasize how your new hire’s role fits into this larger picture.

No. 6: Assign a mentor. Joining a close-knit staff can be a bit intimidating at first. Appointing a friendly team member to act as a “buddy” may ease some of those feelings of being the outsider. This person also serves as a resource to answer those “dumb” (but oftentimes important) questions news hires hesitate to ask the boss.

No. 7: Start training. Don’t let willing hands sit idle when your small business has so many things to do. Patient, detailed instruction and manageable assignments from the get-go allow new hires to get their feet wet and build confidence.

No. 8: Lay out an agenda. Keep your new hire from wondering when you’ll get to the “good” stuff discussed during the interviews by constructing a framework during the first week. Not only will this build anticipation for upcoming assignments and learning opportunities, it shows that you have long-term plans for this person to make a difference to the small business.

No. 9: Review the week. Finally, a one-on-one after a few days gives you and your new employee the opportunity to give timely feedback. Knowing his or her concerns and answering questions demonstrates that you care and want the individual to succeed. Likewise, praising great things you noticed encourages the behavior to continue, and identifying potential problems stops bad habits from forming. Considerate communication early on sets the tone that your small business is built on honesty and trust, not mindreading.

Ready to go further? Check out 5 Ways to Set Your Small Business Employees Up for Success

Forget Skills. Hire for Attitude First

February 17th, 2017 Comments off
Hire employees for attitude and train for skills.

If you have an opening at your small business but nobody to fill it, you’re not alone. According to recent CareerBuilder research, 40 percent of small business employers currently have positions for which they can’t find qualified candidates.

Waiting for the right talent to come along can be frustrating and slow down productivity. Instead, it might be time to adopt a “hire for attitude, train for skills” philosophy. Here’s how it works, what your small business stands to gain, and some guidelines to follow.

The reasoning

Placing attitude at the forefront of hiring decisions does more than expand the candidate pool. It can be a good long-term strategy for your small business. The tasks required of your staff will evolve over time due to technological advancements, market changes and company growth. The skill sets you prize today may become obsolete or unimportant down the line. Options then become training current team members in new techniques or returning to the recruitment process once again.

This isn’t to say that aptitude lacks importance. Someone who never went to medical school should not be expected to suddenly learn neurosurgery. But by looking at applicants with basic competencies who possess traits in line with your small business’s mission and culture, you may discover someone worth training to fill the vacancy.

Evaluating candidates for attitude over skill

So how can you identify which people with skill gaps might be worth training? While there’s no magic formula, keep an eye out for evidence of these things:

Progression: A person who has steadily moved up in her field likely has impressed past bosses with his or her achievements and work ethic. Their comfort entrusting the candidate with increasing responsibility bodes well for you being able to do the same.

Transferable skills: The abilities you desire may be there on a resume, just in a different context. An outstanding communicator or a top-notch proofreader doesn’t lose his or her talents moving to a different industry; the candidates simply needs to be taught how to apply them in new ways.

Penchant for learning: New certifications, additional courses, specialized training — what self-improvement measures has the applicant taken since earning her degree? People with a commitment to lifelong learning tend to be more “trainable.”

Passion: Give a second glance to those who display genuine enthusiasm for your small business and its mission. Interviewees brimming with ideas or asking thoughtful questions may be delighted to partake in whatever training you deem necessary for the position.

And when you’re thinking about who might be worth grooming into the position, pay particularly close attention to employee referrals. Your workers have a keen sense of what it takes to be successful at your small business. People they’ve identified as a potentially good fit culturally may be mere steps away from being the answer to your unfilled-position dilemma.

Ready to start interviewing? Check out 5 Must-Ask Interview Questions for Small Business Job Candidates

Categories: industry news Tags: ,

What Does an Acquisition Mean for Your Employees?

February 15th, 2017 Comments off
Top view of businesspeople shaking hands after sealing a deal. High angle view of casual businesswomen shaking hands after concluding business agreement.

Upon learning that the small business at which they work has been acquired, employees are bound to have a variety of feelings and questions. While they might be excited over the possible opportunities this action may produce, they likely also worry about the effect it will have on them personally.

As the small business’s owner, you may be thrust into the role of middleman. Having grown close to your staff, you undoubtedly have their interests in mind. But new ownership oftentimes spells changes you no longer control. Dealing with the situation is going to be challenging, but these strategies can help ease the transition:

Discourage the rumor mill

In the absence of clear information, employees will turn wherever they can for details about the acquisition. But pieced-together tidbits gathered from network connections and other sources tend to be filled with errors and speculation. Ensure your small business employees that they needn’t go that route because you will keep them in the loop as much as possible.

Prepare for questions

Frequent, truthful communication will help with morale and productivity during the transition. Top on the list of concerns will be job security. Your small business employees want to know if they’re in danger of elimination, pay or benefit cuts, or relocation. Secondly, they will be thinking about how the acquisition affects office life, such as changes to roles, responsibilities, leadership, mission, and company culture.

Answer what you can, and admit that some things won’t be settled until down the line. For instance, you may be able to ensure that anyone laid off will be entitled to a severance package, but you may not know the number or type of positions being cut (if any).

Promote interaction and open-mindedness

A natural reaction from your small business staff may be to distrust or shun the “outsiders” invading the office. Being distant, however, is not going to make the transition easier on anyone, so encourage your team to get to know their new colleagues and leaders. Your team may discover the newcomers have exciting ideas or better ways of doing things. Likewise, learning what has made your office a great place to work in the past will help shape company culture moving forward.

Stress the positive

Finally, remember that people generally fear change. Because of this uneasiness, they tend to focus on the potential negatives of disrupting the status quo. Remind your small business employees of their past successes. Then, help them to see the benefits of the acquisition. Perhaps projects will have more funding or employees won’t have to juggle as many roles. This new chapter might be more than good news for the small business; it might be a substantial chance for talented individuals to take their skills and innovation to new heights.

Has your small business undergone an acquisition? Share your tips with me on Twitter at @CBpetej

How to Embrace the Top 4 Workforce Trends

February 13th, 2017 Comments off
Business concept photo.Businessman working investment project modern office.Touching pad contemporary laptop. Worldwide connection technology,stock exchanges graphics interface.

Examining the biggest workforce trends emerging in 2017 can help leaders make better decisions for their small businesses. Consider how the following hot topics may affect your organization and what you can do to use them to your small business’s advantage.

Workforce Trend #1: Evaluating the “candidate experience”

In an effort to attract top talent, companies are scrutinizing their hiring processes. Measures range from creating hassle-free applications and notifying job seekers about where they stand to leveling the playing field with bias-reducing, skill-based assessments.

Not only do such efforts increase the chances a candidate will say yes to your job offer, they can also have positive repercussions on the bottom line. According to a recent CareerBuilder study, the majority of candidates who have a bad experience are less likely to buy from a company with whom they’ve had a negative experience during the hiring process. On the other hand, 69 percent of candidates say they are more likely to buy from a company that provided a positive experience. Optimizing your career site to reduce navigation frustration or setting up an automated system to keep in touch with interested parties can pay big dividends for your small business.

Workforce Trend #2: Upping retention efforts

An equally popular buzz phrase this year is “employee experience.” With the average tenure for U.S. employees at 4.2 years, employers are eagerly trying to get workers to stay by figuring out what they want. Popular actions companies are taking include investing more in training, improving work spaces, and giving more rewards. Some are even helping with student debt.

Turnover can be particularly difficult for small businesses. Not only can it cost small businesses in terms of time and money involved in hiring and onboarding, it also has a direct impact on productivity. At a small business, however, it’s easier to gather individual input and tailor benefits to individual needs. Ask your employees which benefits they truly want – no sense wasting money on gym memberships when people would rather have tuition reimbursement. And involve your team members in decisions that shape the culture and environment into something that makes them want to stay.

Workforce Trend #3: Contemplating the value of annual reviews

Accenture, Deloitte, Microsoft, Adobe and Gap are some of the major corporations that already have made annual review changes ranging from fewer questions to complete elimination. Might it be time for your small business to follow suit?

Consider moving toward a coaching culture in which workers receive timely feedback and praise, regularly discuss skill development, and explore growth opportunities at your small business. You’ll raise engagement levels, fix employee mistakes before they become habits, and satisfy Millennials’ desire for instant information.

Workforce Trend #4: Welcoming flexibility

Finally, expect work-life balance to gain even more momentum as the 21st-century progresses. Technology has already allowed many employees to contribute remotely, and advances such as virtual reality and wearable gadgets will undoubtedly add to the trend. Likewise, workers increasingly view a good work-life balance as critical to health, stress reduction and overall satisfaction.

Promoting flexible work options can be a great way for small businesses to gain a recruiting/retention advantage over larger competitors. Establish your reputation now for both immediate and future payoff. Generation Z is beginning to trickle into the workforce and will see little reason why work can’t be performed anywhere at any time as long as it gets done.


Get more work-life balance tips. Check out 7 Ways to Help Employees Achieve Work-Life Balance


Categories: industry news Tags:

Hiring? Watch Out for These Red Flags

February 10th, 2017 Comments off
hiring red flags

When you’re a small business leader with a need to hire quickly, it can be hard to spot the red flags that could indicate a candidate might not be the right fit. Get to know some common red flags that can tell you to reconsider a candidate and dig deeper before moving ahead in the hiring process.

Lack of interest

Your small business needs passionate employees who routinely go the extra mile. Don’t expect a job seeker who isn’t doing his or her best to impress you before landing a position to suddenly transform upon being hired. Red flags that someone isn’t giving 100 percent might include:

  • Resume typos and errors
  • A generic cover letter not targeted to the position
  • Arriving late to the interview
  • Failing to ask questions about the company or posing ones which could have been answered with one look at your website

Job hopping

Granted, modern-day applicants tend to change companies more than workers in past decades. However, short spurts of employment also can indicate difficulty getting along with others, lack of loyalty, and indecision about true career goals. Thoroughly explore the issue, or risk quickly becoming the next brief entry on this person’s resume.


Some experts advise extra caution when reviewing functional resumes. Starting out with skills rather than a chronological work history can be a red flag that the candidate is trying to divert attention from a lack of experience or frequent employment gaps. Similarly, probe further when dates don’t jive or you’re unsure exactly what duties a person performed in a given role. Candidates with a solid track record are happy to discuss their specific responsibilities and achievements, while those trying to hide something prefer being vague.

Others aren’t impressed

Some candidates put on their best behavior for the person doing the hiring but act differently around those who seemingly “don’t matter.” Such an attitude can be disastrous to a close-knit staff, so seek input from your small business team before extending a job offer. Likewise, genuinely listen to what the applicant’s references have to say. Information contradicting what you’ve been led to believe or even a general lack of enthusiasm when talking about the job seeker in question should sound an alarm. And definitely take any negative results from a background check seriously, even if you really like the person.

Your gut says “no”

Finally, be sure to listen to the most important voice in the hiring conversation – your inner one. A person can look awesome on paper, say the right things in an interview, and still be wrong for your small business. Trust your instincts; in the long run, they’ll tend to be correct.

Bottom line: Hiring the wrong person can be costly at any company, but at a small business, it can prove devastating. Beyond individual productivity problems, “one bad apple” can quickly jeopardize the morale of the whole office and the future of your small business. Know the red flags before you hire.

Get more out of the interview: Check out 5 Must-Ask Interview Questions for Small Business Job Candidates

Why Small Businesses Need Diversity in Their Workforce

February 8th, 2017 Comments off
Diverse People Friendship Togetherness Connection Aerial View Concept

Small businesses do not always have to abide by the same “rules” as larger businesses when it comes to implementing diversity initiatives. Required or not, though, smart companies of any size should view a staff composed of employees from a variety of backgrounds as an asset. Consider the possible benefits diversity could add to your small business:

Improved innovation

Creativity and problem-solving abilities soar when people bring different perspectives to the table. The life experiences of a recent college graduate, for example, likely will be quite different than those of a seasoned professional. Each can offer a fresh way of looking at things, and this divergent thinking can be just what your small business needs to push itself to exciting heights.

Increased candidate pool

People want to work where they feel comfortable and appreciated. When your small business’s social media pages feature diversity in your workforce, it sends the message that your workplace is a welcoming environment. Even better if you display diversity among your management, which shows diverse candidates that they too could obtain leadership positions in the future.

Greater reach

Employees add more to your small business than just job-related skills. They bring in connections from their personal and professional circles, which can expand your small business’s customer base and exposure. Likewise, satisfied workers can be great employment brand ambassadors. As they tout your company on their own social media accounts, or speak highly of your workplace when dining with acquaintances, your small business lands on the radar of prospective talent. And if you go the extra mile by setting up an employee referral program, you stand to gain an assortment of interesting recommendations.

Boosted morale

When a veteran feels valued in a civilian workplace or an intellectually-challenged individual gets the chance to become self-sufficient through employment, they aren’t the only ones reaping the reward. Their positive attitude and ability to overcome obstacles oftentimes inspires fellow employees to work harder and complain less. Both in the office and out, people come to equate your small business with inclusion and caring.

A better bottom line

All these potential plusses of a diverse staff translate into something any small business owner can appreciate – monetary gain. In its annual Diversity Matters report, McKinsey & Company reported that “companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.” It also showed that “companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.”

When a small business views diversity as an opportunity for a range of talented individuals to work toward the same goals, great things are bound to happen!

Make your diversity initiatives go further. Check out 5 Ways to Set Your Small Business Employees Up for Success.

The Pros and Cons of Performance Reviews

February 6th, 2017 Comments off
performance reviews

Does your small business conduct annual performance reviews because of their helpfulness or because doing so is a standard business practice? If the latter, it may be time to join the ranks of Accenture, Microsoft, and other companies both large and small that are rethinking or even eliminating performance reviews. Consider the following issues when determining what role (if any) they should play at your small business.


Employees thrive on feedback. It instills a sense of confidence that they are doing their jobs correctly and makes them aware of what they need to change in order to perform better. Annual reviews ensure that busy small business leaders sit down at least once a year to offer constructive criticism to all workers in a comprehensive, structured manner.

But managers who already provide feedback on a regular basis may deem performance reviews unnecessary. Small businesses need to address problems as they arise, not allow them to continue until an appointed time. Failure to offer immediate feedback lulls workers into complacency – if the boss hasn’t said anything, I must be performing fine, right? When everything comes out at the review, an employee can feel sideswiped and resentful.


Performance evaluations offer a great chance to gush over exceptional employees. Hearing positive comments boosts morale, and a written document rating abilities and detailing accomplishments serves as both a source of pride and a welcome addition to one’s career file.

As with constructive feedback, however, many small business leaders prefer concentrating on timely praise. Employees know exactly which actions are being applauded, and they realize management consistently notices their efforts.

Forum for future

Small business owners can become so wrapped up in what needs to be done today that they fail to discuss critical long-term issues. Having a central season for one-on-one discussions of salary increases, career development and personal goals keeps employees from getting frustrated about when these things will be addressed.

Grouping these areas with a performance review, however, has possible pitfalls. Workers may be so focused on compensation that they aren’t particularly attentive to other things said. Likewise, some employees may fail to bring up important issues or make truthful self-assessments out of fear that their raise or promotion might be jeopardized.


Finally, the hectic pace of a small business may leave little time for an owner to reflect on his or her team. Performance reviews provide the chance to gain a thorough impression of each member and their role in the company’s success. Trends may emerge that highlight valuable food for thought going forward.

Remember, though, that the subjective nature of “scoring” poses potential problems. Unless they’ve been jotting notes throughout the year, evaluators tend to put a disproportionate weight on recent events. Employees anxious to get top marks may keep problems to themselves or become competitive with co-workers, which does little to promote the “we’re all in this together” mindset small businesses desire.

Learn how to give better performance feedback. Check out The Art of Giving Employee Feedback.


3 Best Practices to Build Your Employment Brand 

January 30th, 2017 Comments off
Business brand strategy concept background.

For small business owners wishing to improve their employment brand, figuring out what distinguishes their company as a great place to work is only the first step. Getting the word out must be a priority. Use these tips to help build your small business’s employment brand and entice prospective talent.

Go all out online

Modern job seekers scrutinize the Internet for information on companies of interest, so be sure they have awesome things to discover about your small business. Keep your message consistent across platforms to establish identity, and aim to really show viewers what you’re all about through each of the following:

Colorful pictures, slice-of-office-life videos, personality-rich profiles of team members, and entertaining blog posts encourage candidates to get excited about your workplace and envision their own career there.

In addition to continuing to provide engaging, welcoming content, focus on personal connection. Respond to comments and questions in a timely manner, which will demonstrate attentiveness and set the stage for continued dialogue.

  • Personal profile

As a small business owner, you are the face of the company. Expect people to check you out, and seize that opportunity to further promote your employment brand. Turn the summary section of your LinkedIn profile, for instance, into a place to express your lifelong obsession with innovation or to tout the importance you place on work-life balance.

  • Job postings

Wherever their placement, job listings should go beyond simply what you want for the position at hand. View them as opportunities to promote your corporate culture, mission and workplace perks.

Build relationships

Think beyond the need to fill current vacancies. Establishing an employment brand involves acquiring a pool of connections. Follow up with people who expressed interest in your small business at a job fair. Guest lecture for a college class, and ask the professor to introduce you to outstanding students. Consider developing an internship program. Engrain your small business in both your industry and community. 

Involve your employees

Who better to sing the praises of working at your small business than the people actually there? Send your most enthusiastic off to serve as employment brand ambassadors at collegiate recruiting events and trade shows. And be sure to enlist your team in social media efforts. Not only are their personal networks likely to be much larger than the number of corporate followers, users tend to trust and pay attention to messages received from those they know. Regularly remind workers that their posts, blog comments, and employee reviews on sites such as Glassdoor are appreciated because they help grow the company’s employment brand. Worried what they say may not be flattering? Ask that workplace concerns be brought to your attention rather than vented. You’ll gain insight about what areas need improvement and further establish yourself as a caring employer.

Learn more about the importance of building your employment brand. Check out 5 Big Reasons to Build Your Small Business Employment Brand. 


How to Innovate as a Small Business

January 27th, 2017 Comments off
Idea Bulb Concept Drawing Working on Blackboard

Small businesses that consider innovation the realm of big guys such as Google and Apple may be jeopardizing their own growth potential. Small companies may lack some of the resources of their larger counterparts, but they also do not have the red tape. Intriguing concepts needn’t pass through several departments and decision makers, so they can be executed rapidly. And without multiple product lines competing for attention and money, small businesses can throw their efforts full throttle into pursuing an innovative idea.

Whether you’re looking to transform into the type of cutting edge small business that attracts buyout and partnership offers from wealthier firms or you simply want to enrich your reputation and customer base, innovation is critical. Here are ways to increase creativity and develop a culture of innovation at your small business:

Establish an innovative environment

Make it clear from day one that you see all team members as innovators by including terms such as “creative problem solving” and “ability to think outside the box” in every job description. Then, provide plenty of opportunities for your small business employees to share their ideas for better products or ways of doing things. Periodically turn staff meetings into brainstorming sessions where people can feed off of one another. Put up a suggestion box. Host an innovation day on which you challenge your team to come up with novel solutions to a problem. Take an occasional field trip as a group to break routine and get creativity flowing.


Learning about the company beyond their own role not only builds competent employees, it encourages innovation. A fresh set of eyes may see operations in novel ways, and inquiries as to why things are done in a certain manner can lead to thoughtful reflection. Plus, insight the “student” gains can shift how he approaches things once back at his own desk.

Discourage complacency

A staff that consistently (but respectfully) challenges the status quo opens the door to innovation. Let your team know you applaud such questioning and that nothing is off limits. In addition to encouraging them to think of how to make or do something better, urge them to solicit ideas from clients. The needs, wants, and suggestions of those with first-hand experience can be great starting points for innovation.

Appreciate effort

Finally, acknowledge that many ideas will be duds – and that’s perfectly OK. If enough thoughts are put out on the table – even if they are unconventional, not fully developed, or seemingly impossible – eventually something great will emerge. Praise team members exhibiting commitment to innovation and the bravery to share. A small business environment dedicated to the notion that the next great idea can come from any person at any time will foster excitement rather than judgment.

Want more small business advice? Find the answers you’re looking for at CareerBuilder’s small business advice and resources page.

Five Great Podcasts for Small Business Leaders

January 25th, 2017 Comments off
Bangkok, Thailand - Dec 9, 2015 : iphone 6 and earpods on wood table, iphone 6 is developed by apple Inc.

As small business leaders, it is important to always keep learning. Podcasts are a great way to expose yourself to different ideas, different ways of thinking and learn from others in your industry — all while you’re on the go. The following podcasts provide great lessons for small business leaders. You’ll hear from others who have been where you are – or have made it where you want to be – and walk away with great advice and insight that will help you both personally and professionally.

1 Simple Thing

If you are like most small business owners whose to-do lists never seem to get shorter, this is the podcast for you. Five days a week, host Dave Kirby interviews experts who offer advice in one specific area of life – from marriage and family to mental health. Each podcast episode challenges listeners to make one small change to “make your life your life better, your business better, or your world better.”

Business Insanity

Host Barry Moltz is a small business expert, best-selling author and nationally recognized speaker. In this podcast, he discusses “the craziness of small business.” He speaks with fellow small business owners and experts to discuss their experiences and advice for dealing with the “exciting, interesting and totally unpredictable” world of small business. Find out the secrets behind Starbucks’ people-first philosophy, what you need to hire the right people and how to zombie-proof your business.

Office Hours

While host and best-selling business writer Daniel Pink hasn’t posted a new podcast episode since 2014, you can still get access to archived episodes here. The lessons from interviews with best-selling authors and renowned thought leaders – including Malcolm Gladwell, Gretchen Rubin and Marcus Buckingham – are every bit as relevant today as they were when first recorded.

Beyond the To-Do List

If fear of failure keeps you up at night, this is the podcast for you. Podcast host Erik Fisher interviews people who’ve struggled with success and endured both personal and professional setbacks. They share what they’ve learned from their mistakes and the strategies they employ to find success and maintain productivity.


StartUp is kind of like This American Life for small business owners. StartUp brings you through what it’s like to start a small business – as it’s happening. The first season of the podcast is host (and former This American Life producer) Alex Blumberg’s own personal account of the ups and downs he experiences as he tries to get his new podcast company, Gimlet, off the ground. The result is as entertaining as it is eye-opening, insightful and educational.

Want more small business advice? Find the answers you’re looking for at CareerBuilder’s small business resource page.



How to Make Brainstorming Meetings More Productive

January 23rd, 2017 Comments off
Brainstorming Brainstorm Business People Design Planning


Small businesses thrive on innovation, and bringing your team together for brainstorming sessions can be a great way to generate new ideas. If not properly executed, however, these collaborative gatherings have the potential to be a waste of time – about the last thing you can afford when everyone at your small business already is juggling many projects. Here are some tips for getting the most out of brainstorming meetings.

Determine the purpose

Just as a student panics when faced with a blank piece of paper, so too can a small business worker whose only instruction is to come up with a fresh idea. Instead, try asking a question such as “How can we improve customer service?” or “What tweak would you most like to make to one of our existing products?” Focusing encourages substantive exploration of a single issue rather than a hodgepodge of random thoughts.

Set some limitations

Tossing around ideas without restraint or editing is a hallmark of brainstorming – to a degree. As the creative juices get flowing, start introducing potential obstacles. Encourage staff members to up their problem-solving ability to work around time, money, and other limitations common to small businesses.

Get everyone involved

Some people enjoy the energy of brainstorming as a group. They love expressing their own ideas and building on what colleagues suggest. Others may be shy or not sure how to jump in among their more vocal peers. Success comes from tapping into the collective brainpower, so look for ways in which everyone can contribute. Consider allowing time for individual reflection on the topic before opening up the floor; reserved team members may relish this chance to collect their thoughts before being expected to speak. Another option is first brainstorming in groups of two, then presenting the most promising ideas to the whole team for further exploration. Having a partner can build confidence by diffusing the spotlight.

Create a supportive environment

Nothing kills someone from contributing more than hurtful comments from a manager or colleague. A brainstorming session needs to be a safe place where people are expected to be civil and supportive. Develop a zero-tolerance policy for making fun of ideas or labeling something as “stupid.” Every idea is a step in the process of building a better small business and should be respected.

Follow up

Finally, realize that your small business team will not take future brainstorming sessions seriously if nothing ever comes from them. Prevent discouragement by acting as much as possible on promising ideas. Look into points raised. Revisit the topic and report progress at a staff meeting. Your employees will come to see brainstorming as a productive activity rather than as a managerial whim that keeps them away from their “real” work.

Want more small business advice? Find the answers you’re looking for at CareerBuilder’s small business resource page.


How to Keep Employee Boredom at Bay

January 20th, 2017 Comments off
Group of young business people in smart casual wear looking bored while sitting together at the table and looking away


Face it:  Even the most “fun” small businesses have roles or responsibilities that aren’t very exciting (or even downright tedious). While these tasks need to get done, watch out for employee boredom. Boredom kills morale, lowers productivity and increases the odds of workers leaving your small business for employment elsewhere.

Great employees who are bored often don’t reveal their feelings because they don’t want to come off as whiners. Thus, you may need to take the lead in figuring out if boredom is an issue at your small business. Some signs can be spotted easily, such as yawning, negative body language and distractibility. Others may be subtler – such as spending extra time on social media, making frequent trips to the water cooler, arriving late and leaving early, or making silly mistakes due to lack of focus.

If in doubt about boredom problems, try asking your employees directly or through engagement surveys. The team will appreciate your concern, and they may have great ideas on how to liven up things at your small business. Here are some additional strategies that can help bust boredom:


Mary Poppins was on to something when she sang, “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and – SNAP – the job’s a game!” Turn an envelope-stuffing session into a race. Agree as a staff on the 10 most boring (but necessary) tasks at the office and award a prize to the person who tallies up the most time spent on them over the course of a week. Allow music, chore swaps or bringing work outdoors — whatever you deem feasible that gets people motivated.

Limit the pain

Spread out boring activities over various days and people. Psyching up to do something dull for an hour is easier than facing the prospect of an entire boring morning. Likewise, distributing monotonous tasks whenever possible helps to keep things fair and fresh. And watch the timing, too. Studies show that boredom hits hardest around mid-afternoon, so especially work on involving team members in stimulating projects during this time.

Increase responsibility

Boredom oftentimes is the result of being insufficiently challenged. Set the bar higher to inspire performance. Encourage individuals to propose new projects they find rewarding or stimulating. Excitement over this pet activity can make less thrilling aspects of their job more palatable. Similarly, expand their knowledge base through training. Learning promotes engagement, and your small business benefits from having multi-talented workers.

Express gratitude

Everyone’s efforts are critical to a small business’s success. Showing staff members how their work — even on mundane tasks — contributes to the company’s overall mission can instill pride and a desire to perform well. Sincere appreciation never gets old.

Want more small business advice? Find the answers you’re looking for at CareerBuilder’s small business resource page.


How Small Businesses Can Recruit and Hire Like Facebook

January 18th, 2017 Comments off
Kiev, Ukraine - August 10, 2015: Facebook like logos for e-business, web sites, mobile applications, banners, printed on paper and placed in the sand against the sea Social network facebook sign.

You may not employ 15,000+ workers, but the people you bring aboard are just as critical to your small business’s success as those professionals are to Facebook’s future. Take cues from the social media giant by making these strategies part of your recruiting and hiring strategy:

Build an employment brand

Facebook has become synonymous with “great place to work.” With sky-high employee satisfaction ratings and an abundance of perks (including an impressive array of free food), unsolicited applications regularly pour into the company. Such interest cuts down on recruitment costs and enables quicker filling as positions become available. Following Facebook’s lead may yield the same situation for your small business. Get your name and mission out there, emphasize your company’s corporate culture (a strong Careers page with worker testimonials is a great start), and certainly treat your current employees right so they’ll sing your praises.

Involve your team

Speaking of your workers, remember that employee referrals consistently rank among the most valuable leads. One of Facebook’s tactics for building a database of potential talent is called “Ninja Hunts.” These informal meetings gather a group of employees together to examine their contacts and point out highly-qualified individuals who may make good future employees. Consider conducting similar sessions from time to time at your small business (and maybe even offering a monetary incentive if a recommended candidate gets hired).

Look beyond the resume

Perhaps because CEO Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t hold a college degree, Facebook tends to place less stock in educational degrees and professional backgrounds and more on proof of ability. Internet-based technical contests such as The Facebook Hacker Cup allow hidden gems the opportunity to shine. Look for similar ways candidates can demonstrate their potential worth to your small business. Ask applicants to submit work samples or solve a relevant problem. Create realistic sample tests in line with skills needed for the position at hand. Such actions help remove hiring bias and allow the cream to rise to the top.

Seek team players

Group dynamics are important at any company, but they can make or break a small business where quarters are tight and dependence on one another is high. Ask candidates to talk about their experiences on teams. Look for responses where “we” is used instead of just “I.” Inquire about contributions to the team when talking to references. Bring in a few current employees during the interview process for a mock project or problem-solving session. Facebook oftentimes does this when hiring designers to gauge how a candidate interacts and communicates.

Prioritize onboarding

Finally, don’t let your recruiting efforts go for naught. Positive experiences early on increase the likelihood of new hires sticking around. Facebook’s six-week boot camp gets newcomers jazzed about the company’s vision and operations as well as their own ability to contribute. Implement similar measures at your small business to build competency and foster connections. A welcome lunch, an assigned mentor, a ready-to-go workstation, and activities beyond filling out paperwork can make a strong initial impression.

Want more small business advice? Find the answers you’re looking for at CareerBuilder’s small business resource page.


How to Stop Bias From Getting in the Way of Your Hiring Process

January 16th, 2017 Comments off
Businessman showing stop sign

Despite a leader’s best intentions, unconscious biases can creep in when hiring and influence decisions for the worse. Small businesses in particular can’t afford to let biases get in the way. They must fill their limited number of positions with the best talent available and avoid making potentially devastating hiring mistakes.

Strengthen the hiring process at your small business with these bias-reducing measures:

Structure job interviews

Before seeing anyone, determine key competencies needed for the position at hand. Then, design job interview questions to reveal these abilities. Asking every applicant the same thing in the same order levels the playing field and discourages inadvertently introducing non-relevant subjects that could lead to bias (or a costly discrimination lawsuit for your small business).

This method also lends itself well to using a scorecard. After a candidate responds to each predetermined question, the interviewer immediately jots a rating on a five-point scale (waiting can lead to forgetting or recasting certain individuals’ answers in a better or worse light). The final tally offers a quantifiable basis for comparison.

Create objective measures

Realistic sample tests can be great predictors of how candidates will perform if hired, and they provide applicants equal chances to shine. Choose tasks in line with the actual job, such as editing a document, writing code, or responding to a customer complaint. Keep identities secret until everyone’s work is evaluated in order to judge solely on merit.

Want to gather a non-biased pool from the start? Make submitting work samples or solving a relevant problem part of the application process for your small business. Look at this material before reading a cover letter or resume. You’ll gain a perception of talent that isn’t clouded by info such as age or where the person went to school.

Enlist input from others

Members of your small business staff can be good at determining the cultural fit of aspiring hires. They also can point out potential errors in your judgment, such as selective perception. Extra eyes and ears may pick up on things you missed, offer different interpretations of candidate responses, or raise awareness of factors you may be ignoring.

Likewise, gather information from other sources. Conduct background checks on all applicants. Contact their references and truly listen. Be open to re-evaluating your opinions based on what you learn.

Explore your possible biases

Lastly, realize that bias takes many forms. In addition to developing opinions based on gender, race, sexuality, age and appearance, people oftentimes draw conclusions from factors such as alma mater, career path chosen, and even similarity to oneself. Harvard’s free online Implicit Association Tests can aid small business owners interested in uncovering thoughts they may be unconsciously hiding. Use this self-awareness to check hiring behavior and select people most likely to help your small business thrive.

Want more small business advice? Find the answers you’re looking for at CareerBuilder’s small business resource page.


Categories: industry news Tags: ,

The Difference Between Leading and Managing

January 13th, 2017 Comments off
Businessman looking at a line between a to b painted on a wall

Though the terms “leadership” and “management” are often used interchangeably, not all managers are leaders and not all leaders are managers. Knowing the difference between leading and managing can give your small business the vision and structure it needs to succeed. Here’s how to figure out if you’re a leader, a manager or both.


Propelling a small business to new heights is often a leader’s primary concern. Leaders develop an image of what the company could become and devote much of their time to innovation, expansion and improvement. They embrace change and see risk as necessary for progress.

Because of this great enthusiasm for turning possibilities into realities, leaders rally others into action. They bring out the best in staff members by making each individual feel critical to the central mission of the small business. Some may liken a leader to a coach who inspires employees to expand their talents and help the team reach extraordinary levels of accomplishment.


Creating a vision is one thing, but putting it into action is quite another. Managers “keep it real” and excel at execution. They think about what needs to be done to accomplish goals and may be exceptionally good at sticking to budgets, organizing resources, delegating responsibilities, and staying on track.

Compared to leaders, managers oftentimes focus more on day-to-day operations than on a small business’s long-term strategy. They are aware of the big picture, but they also realize the importance of details, nuts and bolts, and even mundane tasks. Team members depend on managers to help them figure out who, what, where, when, and how so that work gets completed.

The need for both

Undoubtedly, leading and managing can overlap. In fact, small business owners often must do both out of necessity. Resources simply may not exist to hire someone else to carry out plans and supervise daily operations. However, if overseeing execution is not one of your strong points, finding a qualified manager should be high on the to-do list. Not only might this help your small business run more efficiently, it frees up your time to focus on entrepreneurship, networking, and other activities that can help the company grow.

For those great at ensuring the business runs like a well-oiled machine but reluctant to shake up the status quo, hiring charismatic forward-thinkers may be a solution. Also, remember that while leading may seem to come naturally to some people, it is a skill that anyone who wants to can improve. Watch pertinent TED talks. Read books on the subject. Find a mentor to model and offer advice. You soon may find your confidence and leadership abilities soaring.

Want more small business advice? Find the answers you’re looking for at CareerBuilder’s small business advice and resources page.


Creating a Career Path for Small Business Employees

January 11th, 2017 Comments off
Taking decisions for the future man standing with three direction arrow choices, left, right or move forward

While many people love working for small businesses for the ability to be part of a close-knit team, perform a multitude of tasks, and know your efforts are integral to company success. The ability to move up in a small business, however, can be hard, as there isn’t always a place to go. Small business owners who fail to address this reality risk losing talented workers.

While a traditional upward ladder may not be possible, plenty of possibilities exist to forge satisfying career paths at small businesses. Help your employees envision their future with your company using these tips:

Talk about goals

A limited-size staff allows a manager to know his or her employees well. Regularly ask individuals about their aspirations. They’ll appreciate your interest, and you’ll gain insight as to what measures may help with retention. Write thoughts out so both of you can reference and monitor plans and create a career path from there.

Part of the ongoing conversation also should center on your small business’s goals. Sharing a vision reminds workers that exciting new opportunities may arise down the line. Figure out positions you anticipate fulfilling in the future, and begin to determine how current staff might grow into those roles. This action not only supports employee engagement, it sets up your small business to have promising internal talent as the company expands.

Redefine advancement

Not every career path means a straight climb from one level to the next. People who choose to work at a small business often do so because they love the chance to wear many different hats. Increasingly involve top performers in different aspects of the company. They’ll learn additional skills, take on more responsibility and thrive on new challenges.

Encourage role crafting

Lastly, show your small business staff how the lack of a clear career path for promotion can be to their advantage. Without formal “rules,” ambition and interest can be greater determinants for advancement than specific educational attainment or years of experience. Likewise, neither management nor employees must be bound by preset job descriptions. Instead, everyone can really consider how an individual can best contribute to the company.

As employees come to you with ideas on how to form their career path at your small business, support their efforts with concrete measures. Budget time for them to work on pet projects. Pay for memberships to professional associations. Invest in specialized training. Your commitment to their development builds loyalty as well as a multi-talented staff capable of taking your small business to new heights.

Want more small business advice? Find the answers you’re looking for at CareerBuilder’s small business advice and resources page

How to Tell Your Employees No

January 2nd, 2017 Comments off
Hand writing Time To Say NO concept with red marker on transparent wipe board

As a small business leader, you must make decisions in the best interest of the company. This sometimes means having to say “no” to ideas or requests from your employees. Because you depend on your team so much and likely have grown close to them, being the bearer of such news can be tough. You no doubt want your staff to be happy and to remain enthusiastic about their employment, but small businesses simply do not always have the resources or budget to accommodate every desire.

So how can a small business owner turn down employees without losing loyalty? Try these tips:

Provide a straight-forward response

Sugarcoating will not ease the sting, so get to the point when delivering your decision (such as “It’s beyond our current budget” or “We don’t have the manpower to implement”). Employees appreciate a direct answer that includes an honest explanation about how you arrived at your conclusion.


Respect the person’s right to feel disappointed and even to vent a little. Phrases such as “I understand your frustration” acknowledge the emotional aspect of the situation. However, avoid melodrama and apologies. Everyone needs to view tough decisions as a fact of life at small businesses, not as a personal affront.

Stay consistent

Sticking to policies you’ve established for your small business gives everyone a point of reference and reduces charges of favoritism. Denying a vacation request, for instance, becomes much easier when you can simply cite the employee handbook’s paragraph on taking time off around the holidays.

Find an alternative

Instead of completely nixing an idea, might tweaking it be possible? Footing the bill for an out-of-state conference may be beyond your small business’s professional development budget, but perhaps a one-day seminar at a place within driving distance could be an acceptable compromise. Establishing parameters can decrease the number of instances in which you need to say no.

Revisit the issue later

As a small business grows, circumstances change. Let your IT guy know that you’ll be happy to reconsider his upgrade suggestions in six months if mid-year reports show a sufficient profit. While temporary shelving shouldn’t be used as a way of putting off an inevitable rejection or promoting false hope, it can be valuable when someone at your small business genuinely has a valid request that merits further exploration.

Show gratitude

Lastly, consider yourself immensely fortunate to have employees who think about ways to make your small business better. While you may not be able to use all of their suggestions, be sure to thank them for their efforts. Encourage them to keep generating proposals, and assure them that when the fit is right, you’ll offer a resounding “yes.”

Want more small business advice? Find the answers you’re looking for at CareerBuilder’s small business resource page.


New Year’s Resolutions for Your Small Business

December 30th, 2016 Comments off
New Year 2017 Idea Concept on Chalkboard Background

It’s that time again when people think about what they want to quit doing, start doing, or do better in the next 12 months. As a small business owner, developing such resolutions for your company can help 2017 be your best year ever. Here’s a look at a few to consider:

Get your staff involved in growing your business

Share your vision for the company’s future with team members. They’ll get excited about the part they can play in helping your small business to thrive. Point out ways everyone can contribute, such as networking more and sharing company activities on social media. Send your most outgoing brand ambassadors to industry conferences, job fairs, trade shows, and the like to talk about your awesome small business and why they like working there. And if your employee referral system is weak or nonexistent, resolve to create a strong one. This recruiting method has a proven record of generating a high quality applicant pool.

Solidify onboarding procedures

Vow to cut down on costly turnover by developing a thorough, consistent onboarding process for new hires. Positive experiences early on at a job can impact the decision to stay, so create a formal plan to assist new hires in feeling welcome among your close-knit staff. Minimizing paperwork, creating a checklist of materials to have ready on someone’s first day, and assigning an office “buddy” can go a long way toward helping a new employee become engaged and productive.

Check yourself out online

If you don’t know what potential customers and employees are learning online about your small business, it’s time to find out. Do a Google search and see what comes up. Read reviews of both your products or services and of how past and present employees rate your workplace. Recreate a job seeker’s experience by getting out your smart phone or tablet and actually looking at what appears when you try to apply for a position with your small business. If you become frustrated or confused, so will others. And if you haven’t updated your website in some time, resolve to jazz it up. Prospective talent loves to see examples of company culture, so consider adding a blog, videos of office events, or profiles of team members.

Make the difficult moves

Finally, if you spent 2016 shying away from some of the uncomfortable tasks that come with being a small business leader, promise to take charge in the new year. Stop agonizing and just terminate that morale-zapping employee who hasn’t heeded your warnings. Hand out those employee satisfaction surveys, even if you fear they may come back with things you don’t want to hear. Deliver negative feedback when necessary instead of hoping problems will go away on their own. When you commit to facing the music, your small business stands a much better chance of reaching the top of the charts.

Want more small business advice? Find the answers you’re looking for at CareerBuilder’s small business advice and resources page.

How to Build a Great Corporate Culture

December 28th, 2016 Comments off
Company Culture concept on blackboard

Having a great corporate culture can be a differentiator for small businesses when it comes to attracting and retaining spectacular employees. But awesome environments don’t just happen — nor can they be forced. So how do you build one that entices job seekers and keeps employees engaged? Here are some tips for creating a corporate culture that brings out the best in your small business team.

Define your company

A strong corporate culture starts with defining your brand. A small business that knows what it wants to be has an easier time finding employees who can support that mission. Identify your core values, and include those ideals in everything you do. Whether you’re out to deliver exceptional customer service or shake up your industry through innovation, everyone on your team should know the company’s top priorities. Develop a mantra – a succinct reminder of your intentions – as a point of reference and pride (as in Apple’s “Think Different”). And draw your staff into your vision even further by sharing with them your dreams for the company’s future.


Teams thrive when each member feels valued and heard. Give your small business employees plenty of opportunities to voice opinions and engage in problem solving. Likewise, provide thoughtful, timely feedback to create a can-do, results-oriented environment. And since transparency can limit gossip and foster trust, keep everyone as up-to-date on issues as possible.

Lead by example

Simply put, practice what you preach. Who is going to believe you truly prize an all-hands-on-deck mentality if you’re nowhere to be found during crunch time? Leaders set the tone for corporate culture, so be certain you’re sending the right message.

Hire wisely

Make attitude as important to your corporate culture as aptitude when hiring at your small business. The people on your limited-size staff depend heavily on one another, so a poor match could quickly and critically impact the entire culture. Consider adopting a hiring process in which current team members meet with potential hires and offer their input before you make a final decision.

Make fun and appreciation a habit

Building a small business often requires putting in substantial hours, working outside of one’s comfort zone, and rising up to tackle unexpected challenges. Consistently acknowledging your team’s contributions through words and actions demonstrates your awareness of all they do. A thank-you note to someone who goes above and beyond or a surprise staff luncheon after meeting an important goal builds positive feelings. Likewise, encourage people to interact with one another in enjoyable ways, such as group outings, holiday or birthday celebrations, and fun contests. With a small staff, you have the advantage of being able to target your efforts — they’ll be happy to let you know if a ping-pong table or a cappuccino station is a worthy workplace addition. While no two corporate cultures will be exactly the same, the best ones share a common objective – being a place where employees genuinely want to work.

Want more small business advice? Find the answers you’re looking for at CareerBuilder’s small business resource page.


The Importance of Networking for Small Business Leaders

December 26th, 2016 Comments off
Two cheerful business people drinking champagne and talking while other people communicating in the background

Looking for an inexpensive, efficient way to increase awareness of your small business? Upping networking efforts could be the answer. While this activity might not be anyone’s favorite, its importance cannot be denied. Word-of-mouth builds your brand among business peers, potential clients, prospective employees, and the community at large. Additionally, developing a network of professionals to reach out to for advice and support can be a lifesaver for a small business owner when confronted with new challenges.

Ready to take advantage of all the possibilities a stronger network can offer? Use these tips to get started:

Get out there

Professional association gatherings, industry conferences, Chamber of Commerce events – plenty of opportunities exist to meet others and tell them about your small business. Visibility creates recognition and encourages trust. People like to do business with someone they know, so face-time can have huge returns.

Some of the best networking develops outside of the “corporate” sphere, so be ready to explain to anyone and everyone what your small business is all about. Chat with fellow parents prior to a PTA meeting. Converse with other golfers waiting for their tee time. Lend a hand to running a charity event in your neighborhood. The common purpose will help conversation flow naturally.

Social networking should be part of your strategy too, though experts generally recommend that it supplement in-person efforts rather than be a sole method. Use LinkedIn to learn more about people you meet, including who is in their circle and any mutual connections. Contribute thoughtfully to groups or chat boards — adding value comes off better than a hard sell. As you get to know members, work on bonding offline.

Follow up

Meeting people plants seeds, but to be truly fruitful, relationships must be nourished. Business cards gathered cannot collect dust. Take the lead by asking to join your new acquaintance’s LinkedIn network, picking up the phone to further discuss an issue of mutual interest, or sending an email expressing pleasure about having met. Keep people in your network top of mind; they’ll appreciate genuine efforts to help them out and be likely to reciprocate.

Enlist your staff

Finally, view networking not only as your responsibility but as something all members of your small business staff need to do. You may even want to stress from the get-go how vital you consider networking by including it in the job description for each and every employee.

Since skills such as breaking the ice or asking for referrals may not come naturally to everyone (including you), consider working on these abilities as a staff through role-playing exercises or bringing in an expert to offer pointers. Knowing what to do and say develops confidence, which in turn increases the odds of reaching out to others. As further motivation, implement a bonus system, such as a monetary reward for attracting a new customer or for accumulating a certain number of leads.

And for more ideas on how to strengthen your team’s networking efforts, discuss the issue with other small business leaders in your own network. They’ll likely be happy to share what has worked for them!


Want more small business advice? Find the answers you’re looking for at CareerBuilder’s small business resource page.

Tips for Hiring Older Workers

December 23rd, 2016 Comments off
Bubble speech with cut out phrase "we are hiring"  in the paper.

They bring knowledge, loyalty, professionalism, and great communication skills to the table. But even as small business employers realize the benefits of hiring older workers for their organization, individuals past age 50 who want to go back to work may still feel that they don’t have good chances of landing a decent job. Prove them wrong — and give your small business a boost at the same time — by focusing your hiring efforts and targeting workers from this group with these tips:

Advertise to their needs

Priorities often change over the course of a lifetime. While younger workers may be looking for positions focused on mobility and promotion, older ones frequently put an emphasis on social interaction and mental stimulation. Grab the attention of these job seekers by promoting the family-like atmosphere of your small business staff and the constant need to tackle new challenges to help the company grow.

Also, erase their fears of being labeled “overqualified” by creating job ads that show your small business puts a premium on experience. Try searching for “mature individuals with a track record of grace under pressure” or “seasoned professionals capable of wearing many hats because of their diverse career experiences.”

While salary will still be important to workers of any age, flexibility may be an even stronger lure for candidates over 50. Telecommuting, alternate hours, and other such options enable them to achieve a work-life balance conducive to pursuing various interests at this stage of life. Be sure to highlight if your small business offers such arrangements.

Seek them out

Like their younger counterparts, older job seekers often use social media and job boards to find new opportunities. Consider placing targeted ads that they will see. In posts and on your website, feature photos and profiles of older members of your small business team to help prospective candidates visualize themselves working for you.

Job fairs designed for older workers can be great places for you discover talent. Likewise, post your openings at local establishments (libraries, churches, community centers, etc.), develop relationships with senior organizations, or even consider contacting area school districts to let them know you’d love to connect with retired teachers.

Finally, don’t neglect the power of your own resources. Charities in which you’re involved may have a plethora of devoted volunteers who might be interested in paid work, too. People in your network informed of your diversity efforts may be happy to introduce you to older individuals they know. And employee referrals always have great potential, so encourage your team (especially the older members) to sing the praises of your small business to talented potential workers of any age.

Want more small business advice? Find the answers you’re looking for at CareerBuilder’s small business resource page.

How to Hire for Cultural Fit

December 21st, 2016 Comments off
WE WANT YOU! message on the card shown by a man

Though important in any workplace, cultural fit takes on added significance in a small business. With limited spots on your team, an out-of-place employee can have a quick, severe impact on morale and productivity. Spending time finding people who truly believe in your company’s mission and way of doing things can reduce turnover, lead to greater job satisfaction, and promote superior performance. Use these tips when hiring to discover great cultural matches for your small business:

Define your culture

Entrepreneurial spirit? Flexibility? Calmness under pressure? Ask yourself which traits you value most in current staff members and which qualities a newcomer should possess in order to mesh with your team’s existing vibe. A small business owner with a good grasp of what it takes to be a successful employee at this particular company can start looking for appropriate people to fill openings.

Publicize what you seek

You advertise for the nut-and-bolt skills essential for a given position, so why not specify the cultural qualifications too? All parties benefit when you provide a clear idea of what a successful candidate should expect, so offer details and a slice of real life. For example, is collaboration central to your small business? Highlight your open-office structure in the recruitment video, call for team players in your job ad, and post examples of staff members working together on your social media pages. People with a preference for individual contribution will get the message and not apply, saving you the time of weeding them out.

Test the waters

Interviews can provide a wealth of information about cultural fit. To avoid simply receiving appropriate but generic answers (such as “I’m a team player” or “I get along well with everyone”), ask candidates for opinions or to share actual examples. How does the person’s response to “describe a work culture or environment in which you would not be happy” or “tell me the kind of culture you thrive in” match up to your workplace? Can the individual recount in detail past experiences in which she demonstrated values essential to your company, such as going above and beyond for a customer or performing a task outside of her job description?

But don’t stop there. Introduce promising candidates to the whole team. With their first-hand knowledge of your small business, they can provide applicants with thoughtful answers about daily life and give you honest feedback as to how well a particular individual might fare. Conduct a group interview, arrange shadowing for a day, or foot the bill for a casual lunch. Cultural fit should not be an afterthought, so build evaluation of it into your standard hiring procedure.

Team-Building Activities Perfect for Small Businesses

December 19th, 2016 Comments off
Team Unity Friends Meeting Partnership Concept

Hiring outstanding individuals for your small business does not automatically translate into having a strong team. For your company to thrive, people need to get along and work together cohesively. This sync doesn’t always come naturally, so some nurturing may be required. Team-building activities can help.

Now if the notion of trust falls and wilderness retreats makes you shutter, don’t despair. Plenty of other options exist for encouraging your group to bond. Here are a few that may prove perfect for your small business:

Uniting for a great cause creates feelings of pride, purpose, and togetherness. The activity provides instant common ground and promotes natural interaction. Conversation is bound to flow as people clean up a neighborhood park together or work side-by-side at a soup kitchen. Solicit ideas from staff members – the discussion itself will help employees learn about one another. And as an added bonus, performing charity work improves your small business’s image in the community and among potential recruits.

Taking a field trip
Remember the buzz in your fourth grade classroom as a day at the zoo drew nearer? Adults love routine-breaking excursions, too, so gather the troops for an outing. Once again, asking for suggestions can be a valuable experience in and of itself. Whether you end up bowling, touring a local brewery, or catching a new exhibit at an art museum, the change in environment will allow your small business employees to interact with one another in different ways.

Learning something new
Bring in an expert to teach your staff a certain skill. An improv instructor will get everyone laughing while cooperating as they discover how to feed off one another to make scenes work. An art teacher can promote group creativity and teamwork through designing a mural or other piece for workplace display.

Other educational ideas include starting a lunchtime book club, watching TED talks together and discussing afterwards, and holding shadowing days in which staff members teach one another about their specific company role. Look for professional development opportunities outside of the office too. Co-workers attending a conference or training session together likely will stay close to one another and interact while traveling, eating lunch or participating in activities.

For a natural way to bring people together, food takes the cake (sorry, couldn’t resist). A surprise pizza party or an afternoon ice cream social can help your small business team relax and converse. Or provide a budget for a themed monthly luncheon for which staff members work together to come up with a menu and decorations. Interaction with purpose eliminates the feeling of being “forced” to bond and should yield delicious results.

Want more small business advice? Find the answers you’re looking for at CareerBuilder’s small business resource page.

Building a Succession Plan for Your Small Business

December 16th, 2016 Comments off
Hand Writing WHAT'S NEXT? with Marker on Whiteboard

It’s a question no small business owner likes to think about, but what would happen to your small business if you suddenly had to leave – whether due to illness, a family emergency or even death? Would someone else be able to step up to keep things afloat and continue your vision?

Or, here’s a nicer notion: You’d like to retire someday, right? Is the enterprise in which you’ve invested so much of your time and energy prepared to carry on without you at the helm?

Succession planning isn’t just for big companies. In fact, it may be even more essential for small businesses since there are fewer people to take over should you leave – whether planned or due to unforeseen circumstances.

Small business owners already have so much on their plates that succession planning can seem like a huge chore. But taking steps to tackle the issue can result in peace of mind for both you and the workers who depend on your small business for their livelihood. And along the way, you may develop valuable insight about your company’s strengths and weaknesses. Consider these tips to get started:

Evaluate successors

Think about individuals at your small business who might have the talent and drive to carry on what you started. As you identify possible candidates, talk to them about their long-term plans. Don’t make assumptions, though. Your child may want to pursue another career instead of taking over the family business, and your long-time employee may have no interest in managing others. If a suitable replacement isn’t on your radar, start prioritizing leadership potential when adding new hires.

Build skills

Test the waters and pave the way for a smooth future transition by increasingly giving your selected replacement more responsibility. Through greater involvement in activities and decisions, he or she will gain confidence and knowledge. Likewise, co-workers, clients and vendors will begin viewing this person as a leader.

But grooming efforts shouldn’t be limited only to that person. A strong staff can make any new manager’s job much easier. Cross-training and involving your team in as many aspects of operations as possible provides a solid foundation for carrying on business as usual whether you’re out sick or moving on to new ventures. A multi-functional staff also puts your small business in a better position should any team member quit or need a leave of absence.

Revise as necessary

The hope is that you’ll be able to implement an exit plan in stages on your predetermined timetable. However, the future can be hard to predict – especially for a growing small business. Periodically reexamine your succession strategy to assess its effectiveness in light of new circumstances and objectives.

And don’t be afraid to seek help, especially if transferring ownership as well as leadership. Advisors, lawyers, and accountants can steer you through the complexities of succession planning and ensure your small business’s legacy endures.

Want more small business advice? Find the answers you’re looking for at CareerBuilder’s small business resource page.

Thinking of Hiring Interns for Your Small Business? Read This First

December 14th, 2016 Comments off

If you haven’t explored the idea of hiring interns at your small business, it might be time to start. Many college students prefer internships at small businesses rather than large ones because they feel they’ll receive more hands-on training and attention from mentors. While these workers of the future get their feet wet in the “real world,” you stand to gain benefits such as:

  • A stronger talent pipeline. Today’s awesome intern can be tomorrow’s valuable employee. With an intern, you’ll get to experience their work ethic, performance and cultural fit firsthand, enabling you to extend a job offer with confidence down the road. Likewise, interest in your small business and bonds with its employees grow during an internship, leading candidates to keep you top of mind after graduation. And since interns are bound to mention your small business to fellow students, you’ll attract even more attention.
  • Eager, educated help. Small businesses usually appreciate all the assistance they can get. An extra pair of enthusiastic hands can help lighten the load for your busy staff or free them up to perform more complex duties. Also, new people bring in fresh ideas and specialized skill sets that can energize the team.

Finding Great Talent

Just as you would when recruiting for a permanent position, create a job description for the intern you seek for your small business. This action helps you pinpoint which qualities are most desirable and what tasks you’d like the intern to accomplish. Also, a clear picture encourages candidates to self select, which saves you weeding time.

Contacting the career services office of educational institutions in your area or that interest you (perhaps even your own alma mater) often proves a convenient route to gathering a pool of worthy candidates. Other options include posting on internship-specific job sites, promoting your internship program via social media, and turning to your network for recommendations.


If you equate internships with free labor, be warned: The U.S. Department of Labor has a strict six-point test to determine whether an internship can be unpaid. Internships in the for-profit sector most often will be viewed as employment, which requires payment of minimum wage or higher.

But beyond legal considerations, offering compensation sets the stage for attracting a more qualified pool of candidates. Top performers likely are evaluating a variety of interesting possibilities, so payment keeps your small business competitive and shows that you value what they’ll be contributing. You’ll also gain greater diversity among applicants because financial necessity keeps a large number of students from even considering unpaid positions.

And besides the fairness of at least a modest wage for the work interns perform for your small business, think of payment as a long-term investment. Research shows companies that pay their interns have a significantly higher chance of retaining them as future employees.

Want more small business advice? Find the answers you’re looking for at CareerBuilder’s small business resource page.

The Pros and Cons of Open-Plan Offices

December 12th, 2016 Comments off
Elevated View Of Workers In Busy Modern Design Office

The workspace arrangement at your small business can have a major impact on office life. Many modern companies favor an “open-plan” environment of one large area of shared space that lacks distinct rooms. Though many believe open-plan offices promote productivity and collaboration, some believe they may do more damage than good. So before embracing this trend, take time to examine how such a design may help or hinder your company’s objectives. Here’s what to consider:

Open-plan offices promote the “we’re all in this together” mindset.

Literally working side by side without regard to hierarchy can set a tone that every employee is vital to your small business’s success. Millennials especially can be drawn to this concept of easy access to anyone regardless of position, so you may be able to use it as a selling point when recruiting.

Growth can be accommodated.

Small businesses that regularly add employees often find an open layout allows greater flexibility, minimizes construction costs and cuts down on moving around existing workers. New hires can be positioned near the people they need most to get them up to speed, and many supplies can be shared communally.

Spontaneous interaction may increase.

Proponents of open arrangements stress that this setup promotes collaboration. Great ideas can come out of impromptu conversations, and bringing colleagues in on discussions may be easier because they are quickly accessible rather than tucked away elsewhere.

Privacy can be compromised.

People sharing the same quarters often can’t help overhearing others talk, and computer screens and email messages may be viewed by those passing by. Small businesses that deal with sensitive information particularly need to be aware of this potential danger. Possible solutions can include restaurant-style privacy booths and closed-door rooms available as needed.

Productivity may suffer.

Despite a worker’s best efforts to focus, it can be difficult to tune out nearby conversations or not glance around to see what colleagues are doing. Some companies have responded by broadcasting “pink noise” from speakers to make human speech less discernable. Employees too have gotten creative — stacking books or positioning filing cabinets as make-shift distraction blockers and wearing headphones both to cover their ears and to discourage others from interrupting. Such measures, however, can be cumbersome and rather contrary to the theory behind open-plan offices.

It may not be good for your staff’s physical and mental health.

Research finds that companies with open-plan offices can expect employees to take 62 percent more sick leave. Shared resources and close, frequent interaction can cause a lone employee’s sniffles to quickly become the whole staff’s cold. But germs aren’t the only negative to consider in terms of health. Workers often report stress from continually operating in a communal space. When employees feel as if they are on display and unable to control their surroundings, it can contribute to problems such as anxiety and high blood pressure. For small businesses where job satisfaction ratings are low and turnover is high, an alternate office structure may be just what the doctor ordered.

Want more small business advice? Find the answers you’re looking for at CareerBuilder’s small business resource page.

Office Holiday Celebrations and Gifts Perfect for Small Businesses

December 9th, 2016 Comments off
Red coloured "gift" button on a keyboard.

The holidays can be a busy time – both personally and professionally. Not only are you struggling to keep up with work during the busy end-of-the-year “crunch time,” you are probably also trying to balance personal holiday-related errands and travel. With everything that’s going on, how can you possibly be expected to plan — and foot the bill for — an office holiday celebration, too?

Before you decide to forego any sort of holiday celebrations, consider the positive effects it can have on staff morale and engagement. Recognizing employees with a party, gift or holiday bonus is a thoughtful way to show your employees just how much you appreciate all their help. Plus, they’ll come back from the holiday vacation eager and ready to keep working just as hard.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to recognizing your employees during the holidays.

Celebrate together. Even if you have to hold it at your office, try to have some type of party. If you’re on a tight budget, potlucks are great way to celebrate and bring people together while saving money. (You could even have a contest with prizes for the “best” dish in each category.) Not only will employees appreciate the break from the “daily grind,” encouraging employees to socialize in the workplace can boost engagement, job satisfaction and productivity.

Give a few extra days off around the holidays — or allow employees to work remotely. Your employees will appreciate having the extra time saved from commuting to the office to spend running errands, hanging out with friends and family or simply recharging during the stressful holiday season.

Start early by putting aside a little money each week at the beginning of the year (say, $20) toward a “bonus” fund, so by the time the holidays roll around, you won’t be struggling to come up with some cash to reward your employees during the holidays.

Give a little extra. In addition to a holiday party, consider giving a gift (especially if you can’t give a cash bonus). Your employees will appreciate the thought you put into a gift and it will re-energize them to come back to work in the New Year and give it their all. Gift-giving doesn’t have to break the budget, either. Here are some ideas for cost-effective gifts that go a long way in showing your employees you care:

  • Gift cards. Gift cards are a great option that can appeal to a lot of people. Consider Amazon, iTunes, Target or Starbucks.
  • Food or beverage gifts. It’s hard to go wrong with food (assuming you’re aware of any allergies your employees have). Treat them to a gift basket, a monthly snack box subscription or a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant.
  • Hobby-related gifts. If you know your employees have certain passions outside of work – from cooking to gardening to sketching to gold – consider a gift related to their interests.
  • Travel accessories. If you have employees who travel a lot on business, consider giving them something to make their travels a little more comfortable, like a personalized luggage tag, travel pillow travel or mobile electronics charging kit.


How do you celebrate the holidays at your office? Message me at @CBPeteJ

How to Recruit College Grads for Your Small Business

December 7th, 2016 Comments off
writing job fair on blackboard

Small business owners looking for enthusiastic, highly trainable employees might want to expand their efforts to recruit new college grads. Your company may be just the environment they crave – a place to develop their talents and make an immediate impact — but first these young workers need to know that you exist. Get your name in front of this new crop of talent and stand out from competitors using these tips:

Hang where they hang

Send staff members who truly love to talk about your small business to collegiate job fairs. These brand ambassadors will engage participants and leave them excited about the prospect of joining such a great place. For added exposure, consider running an ad in the campus newspaper a few days before the event briefly explaining who you are and welcoming interested candidates to stop by your booth.

Look for other ways to become visible, too, especially at targeted regional institutions. Offer to discuss topics relevant to your industry as a guest speaker in a class. Become a sponsor of a theatrical production, athletic team, or charity event. Judge an entrepreneurship competition. Participate in a mentoring program. Keep in regular contact not only with career counselors but also with division heads. They may be able to identify students within their department with the specific skills you desire and connect on your behalf.

And, of course, there’s social media. College students spend two to four hours daily on sites such as Facebook and Twitter, so developing a strong presence on a variety of platforms can be valuable. Rather than blatant self-promotion, however, look for interesting ways to grab attention and engage — eye-catching photos depicting company culture, genuine participation in conversations, or perhaps a fun contest. Encourage your small business employees (especially young ones) to get in on the action. Content coming from someone in your personal social circle or from a fellow member of your online college alumni group stands a better chance of being read.

Start an internship program

College students know that “real world” experience can be a great thing to put on a resume. While they’re getting a taste of the future, you’ll gain eager and educated part-time or summer help (paid, unpaid, or perhaps in exchange for college credit). You’ll also enjoy a first-hand glimpse of someone you might want to hire after graduation. Additionally, the intern is bound to mention your small business to fellow students, which can help you attract more interest.

Play up your strengths

Modern grads want to know all they can about a potential employer, so make the information they desire easy to find. A recruitment video is a great way to showcase your workplace culture, values, perks, and awesome staff. Put one front and center on your website, social media pages, and even job ads. Highlight features important to this generation, such as career development, a non-hierarchal structure, meaningful work, project ownership, and a flexible schedule.

Stay in touch

Finally, make a point of valuing every connection with a new grad. While the person may not be the right addition to your staff at the present time, he or she may be just the talent you’ll want down the line as both your small business and the candidate’s professional attributes grow. Maintaining contact keeps the door open.

How Recruitment Videos Can Be a Boon for Your Small Business

December 5th, 2016 Comments off
professional camcorder on the tripod, selective focus on nearest part

If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine how much information a short video could convey to potential employees. Small business owners who assume recruitment videos are something only large companies can afford may be missing out on a valuable, cost-effective way to build their employment brand. Create a presentation that’s right for your small business using these tips:

Choose your route.

Evaluate whether you or anyone on your small business staff has the skill to film and edit the piece. While the video needn’t be Oscar-worthy, it should be good quality and positively reflect your brand. Consider hiring a local company, a freelancer, or even a student majoring in film production for this short-term project.

Define your message.

What makes your workplace special? Perhaps it’s the fast-paced nature that turns every day into an adventure. Maybe it’s your close-knit team’s dedication to the company’s mission. Determine what sets your small business apart and what type of worker you’d most like to attract. Recruitments videos tend to run three minutes or less, so zero in on what you truly want viewers to take away.

Enact your vision.

Once you know what you’d like to convey, focus on how to engage the audience. The sky’s the limit in terms of creativity, but don’t feel you must be flashy. (And definitely don’t go any route that feels false; you’ll give candidates the wrong impression.) Many small businesses have been successful with options such as portraits of everyday life at the company, interviews with staff members, tours with a narrator voice-over, and highlights from company events.

Remember, you’re not trying to be everything to everyone. Rather, you want viewers to taste company culture, envision what working at your small business would be like, and apply if they judge themselves a good fit. Self-selecting saves you the trouble of weeding out bad matches.

Screen your masterpiece.

Finally, make sure your intended audience gets the opportunity to see your final product. Good outlets include:

  • Job ads. According to CareerBuilder internal data, job postings with video icons are viewed 12 percent more than postings without video. On average, CareerBuilder customers receive a 34 percent greater application rate when they add video to their job postings.
  • Social media. Post the video on your company’s Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages. Consider paid advertising options to reach an even larger audience. Encourage staff members to share the video with their networks. People are more likely to view material sent from someone they know, and employee referrals remain one of the best methods of recruiting great talent. And if you don’t already have a presence on YouTube, now would be a great time to add that to your strategy since applicants often go there specifically to view videos on employers of interest.
  • Your website. Put your video front and center on the “Careers” and “About Us” landing pages to quickly show visitors why your small business is a great place to work. You did make sure to end your video with clear instructions on how to apply, right?

Unemployment Hits 9-Year Low in November, BLS Report Shows

December 2nd, 2016 Comments off
BLS april 2016

The latest employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is a mixed bag. While the U.S. unemployment rate dropped to its lowest point since 2007, hourly earnings fell.

The U.S. added 178,000 new jobs in November, according to the BLS, which is in line with what economists projected. While the BLS revised job gains in September to 208,000 (up from 191,000), October’s numbers were revised down to 142,000 (from 161,000). Over the last three months, the U.S. has added an average of 176,000 jobs.

The bright spot of the report was the unemployment rate, which dropped to 4.6 percent; economists had expected it to remain unchanged at 4.9. This number is significant for two reasons: Not only does it mark the lowest unemployment rate since 2007, but according to NPR’s Marilyn Geewax, “4.6 percent unemployment is what most economists consider “’full employment.’”

The biggest disappointment of the report was the average hourly earnings, which dropped by 3 cents – a particularly big blow right after wages saw a remarkable 11-cent rise in October. It’s also surprising to see wages drop, considering a low unemployment rate means more competition for workers, inciting employers to raise wages. Still, it’s worth noting that wages have increased by 2.5 percent over the course of the year.

Overall, the latest BLS employment report was a solid one, and this month marks the 74th consecutive month of job growth. As a small business employer, you play a major role in driving economic growth. For resources and advice on hiring and growing your business, I encourage you to visit my small business resource page.

Small Businesses Added 37,000 Jobs in November, According to ADP Report

November 30th, 2016 Comments off
ADP april 2016

The small business sector added 37,000 jobs in November, up from 34,000 in both October and September, according to the ADP’s most recent Small Business Employment Report. The ADP’s small business employment report looks at job growth specific to businesses with 49 or fewer employees.

Looking at company size, very small businesses (those with 1-19 employees) added 9,000 jobs and other small businesses (those with 20-49 employees) added 28,000 jobs.

Looking at sectors, small businesses in the goods-producing sectors continued its downward trend. Small businesses in this sector lost 14,000 jobs. Alternatively, small businesses in the service-providing sector continued to boom, adding 51,000 jobs.

To put these numbers in context, let’s look at national trends: Overall, the U.S. added 216,000 private jobs across company, up significantly from the 147,000 jobs added in October, according to the ADP’s national report. Medium-sized businesses added 89,000 jobs, and large businesses added 90,000. Overall jobs in the goods-producing sector are down 11,000 but have spiked in the service-producing sector, which added 228,000 jobs.

This report comes right after news that the consumer index hit a nine-year high in November, indicating that Americans are growing more optimistic about the economy. Employers seem to be feeling the same way as evidenced by the growing number of jobs.

If you’re among the small business employers adding headcount right now, here’s a great article on how to recruit as a small business owner. You might also want to check out these tips for avoiding hiring mistakes and asking effective interview questions to unveil top candidates.

5 Ways to Keep Employees Motivated During the Holidays

November 28th, 2016 Comments off
Two best freinds working from home office, star-up idea, modern office interior

The period from the week of Thanksgiving until after New Year’s Day can be among the most exciting – and challenging – times of the year. From travel plans to holiday shopping, employees undoubtedly have their plates full outside the office.

But your small business also has much to accomplish before the calendar turns, and a distracted staff dreaming of a white Christmas isn’t going to send 2016 out with a bang. What can a small business leader do to promote morale and productivity during the busy holiday season? Here are some tips:

Get a handle on scheduling

Employee requests for days off come just at the time when customer service and production needs increase at many small businesses. Balancing can be tricky with a limited-size staff, so careful planning becomes essential. Set an early deadline for time-off requests so that you can satisfy coverage needs in the workplace while doing your best to accommodate staff wishes. Keep everyone in the loop with an easily accessible master calendar of important dates and vacation absences.

Outline objectives

Give staff members clear goals for the final few weeks of the year, and review regularly to ensure they are being met. Knowing that the boss maintains high expectations and hasn’t “checked out” sets a positive tone.

Focus on results

Small business owners have too much on their plates to waste time monitoring online shopping or exactly how long someone took running to the post office at lunch. Instead, have an honest conversation with your staff. Let them know you understand the importance of work-life balance during the holidays and that you will treat them as professionals capable of managing their own time so long as the work gets done. An employee who nabbed that one-hour-only bargain gift or was able to catch his daughter’s holiday recital by leaving a half hour early will likely repay your trust and flexibility tenfold.

Shake things up

Who couldn’t use an Amazon gift card to help with holiday purchases? Offer one to team members who exceed production goals for the week. Turn staff meetings into mini celebrations with pumpkin spice lattes and cookies. Challenge two team members to swap jobs for a week – they’ll stay engaged learning new skills, and you’ll gain a well-rounded staff. Having difficulty deciding which morale-boosting activities your small business team would most enjoy? Just ask.

Show appreciation

While saying “thank you” and acknowledging hard work is important in any season, such recognition takes on added meaning during the holidays. Your small tokens and kind words are proof that you realize the extra focus and effort needed to stay on-task during hectic times. People commonly reflect on their lives as a new year approaches, so really emphasizing each person’s value to your small business will generate positive feelings bound to carry over into 2017.

10 Low-Cost Ways to Reward Employees

November 25th, 2016 Comments off
businessman holding a gift package in hand .

Do your employees feel appreciated? Do you make a concerted effort to recognize them for their hard work? Is “thank you” a commonly used phrase at your business? Companies that regularly recognize their employees tend to see higher levels of employee satisfaction, morale and retention. Employees who feel their work matters tend to put more effort into their work and treat their clients and customers better. As a result, quality of service and product improve, all of which lead to a better bottom line.

As a small business owner, you may not have the budget to provide your employees with extravagant rewards or huge cash bonuses, but it’s important to show your staff that you appreciate their hard work. And believe it or not, a little bit of recognition can go a long way. Here are just a few ideas for recognizing employees that cost little to no money — but that your employees will appreciate in a big way.

  • Half-day Fridays: Let employees start their weekends early by giving them Friday afternoons off (so long as they don’t leave any work unfinished).
  • Flexible work hours: Give employees the option to work remotely once a week, work four 10-hour days or come in earlier and leave earlier (or vice versa).
  • Casual Fridays: Giving employees the option to wear jeans on Friday costs nothing and offers a fun change of pace for employees (while cutting down their dry-cleaning bill!)
  • Corporate discounts: Companies such as PerkSpot, AnyPerk or Working Advantage offer small business employees discounts on everything from workout classes to theater or sports tickets to travel.
  • Tuition reimbursement: Helping your employees take their skill sets to the next level is a win for them as well as your business.
  • Handwritten thank you notes: Few things are as personal as a handwritten thank you note. Your employee will be touched that you took the time to write to them.
  • Extra paid time off (PTO): An extra paid vacation day is always a welcome option.
  • “Bring your dog to work” days: Letting employees bring their dogs to the office not only brightens everyone’s day, it can also lower stress levels and improve morale.
  • Restaurant or entertainment gift cards: Let your employees treat themselves to a night out with a gift card.
  • Catered lunches once a month: Designate certain days of the month to bring lunch into the office for everyone and celebrate various “wins” among your team.


When in doubt, just ask your employees what they want in terms of rewards. The best type of recognition is personal and shows that you care about your employees as people.

What are some low-cost ways you reward employees? Let me know at @CBpetej

How to Poach Employees (Without Being a Jerk)

November 23rd, 2016 Comments off
Woman offering to sign contract

When your small business needs someone for a hard-to-fill role, poaching talent from another company becomes an option to consider. Not only could this person bridge a skill gap, he or she may bring along connections that can help secure clients or position your small business more favorably within the industry. Before embarking on this controversial business practice, however, leaders need to be aware of the possible repercussions. Failure to think about these issues could make poaching your dream candidate turn out to be a nightmare.


Small business owners do not have the time or the money to get into messy legal battles, so be certain from the start that your desired new hire is not bound by a non-compete agreement. Such an arrangement may prevent the employee from working for specific industry or geographic competitors for a set period of time after leaving his or her current employer. Failure to comply could result in a lawsuit, so seek advice from an employment lawyer before continuing talks.

Bad blood

Recruiting and training take effort, so it’s no wonder other employers do not look kindly upon people who try to “steal” their talent. Those you’ve angered may now view members of your small business staff as fair game and lure without remorse. Likewise, getting a reputation as a poacher may lead others in the business community to question your ethics and abilities. Do you really want to be known as the person who resorts to moving in on other people’s superstars because you can’t attract or develop worthy candidates on your own?

So what can a small business leader do to minimize problems?

  • Make sure the candidate is worth the effort. Save your feather-ruffling for the most important cases. Many times, someone from another company may look great on paper but not actually be the best person for the job. Learn everything you can about the worker before trying to convince him or her to come aboard. As you dig deeper, you may discover a poor cultural fit or qualifications different from what you expected.
  • Be subtle. Instead of bulldozing ahead, test the waters. Hiring a search firm to look into the interest level of potential candidates can provide some distance between you and the talent you seek. Introductions through shared network connections or casual conversations at an industry event also can appear more respectable than aggressive wining and dining.
  • Respect others. Finally, remember that the cost of landing an awesome new employee should not be losing the connections you already have formed. Hurting a business partner, vendor, or personal friend can have a greater impact on your small business than missing out on an impressive worker. Ask permission before initiating any contact with their staff members, and back off at any sign of anger or discomfort. Better yet, enlist help from these folks — they may know someone looking for a position who could fulfill your needs.

6 Hiring Lessons Small Businesses Can Learn from Google

November 21st, 2016 Comments off
Mountain View, CA, USA - August 19, 2015: Android Marshmallow (latest android OS) replica in front of Google office on Aug 19, 2015. Google specializes in Internet related services and products.

As a small business employer, you might not have the resources to offer employees the same fancy perks or astronomical salaries that Google does. And you probably don’t get anywhere close to getting one million resumes a year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn a thing or two from the tech giant’s hiring process. After all, in the end, Google is just looking for the best candidates for its business – just like you are.   

So here are a few lessons from Google’s hiring process that you can apply to your small business as well.

  1. Skip the brainteasers. Many employers like to ask employees brainteaser questions to see how well they think on their feet, and for years, Google was famous for this practice; however, not only do candidates perceive these questions as unfair, Google ultimately found these types of questions weren’t a good prediction of success on the job. Now, they give candidates work sample tests and ask structured interview questions.
  2. Involve others in the hiring decision. Google has a ‘hiring committee’ made up of senior managers and other employees who meet all potential candidates and share feedback. This form of collaborative hiring helps ensure no single manager can make a potentially bad decision by themselves.
  3. Look for cultural fit. One of the four main characteristics Google looks for in potential employees is “Googleyness.” The company wants employees who are the right fit for the company’s unique culture. In fact, its hiring managers focus less on education and experience and more on finding people who “are great at lots of things, love big challenges and welcome big changes,” according to Google’s website.
  4. Ask about mistakes, not weaknesses. Instead of asking candidates to talk about their biggest weakness, the team at Google asks potential employees to discuss a time they made a mistake at work – and what they learned from it. Google knows that mistakes happen, but they want candidates who have the gumption to own up to their mistakes and wise enough to learn from them.
  5. Ask for employee referrals. A high percentage of Google’s hires come from employee referrals. Employee referrals not only tend to generate better quality hires, but they can cut down on time and costs related to hiring, making them the perfect option for small businesses.
  6. Be explicit about the process. Google wants potential employees to know exactly what to expect throughout the hiring process – that’s why the company outlines the process on its careers page. Explaining your hiring process to candidates doesn’t just benefit them, it also helps your hiring managers make more informed decisions. After all, the more prepared candidates are going into the interview, the more focused they will be, and the more a hiring manager can learn about them and get an understanding of their potential as an employee.


So You Got Negative Employee Satisfaction Reviews. What Now?

November 18th, 2016 Comments off
Businesswoman drawing check box.

Smart small business leaders regularly conduct employee surveys to gauge satisfaction and understand what they need to do to keep their greatest asset happy and productive. Sometimes, however, hearing the truth about what employees really think can hurt. While disappointment is a legitimate initial reaction, coming to view the information as valuable input rather than as terrible news can set your small business on the road to improvement. Here are steps to turn what feels like a setback into a great opportunity:

Step back for a moment

Sometimes people focus so intensely on what strikes them as negative that they fail to acknowledge the positive. Review survey results with an eye on the good things workers are saying. Not only will this information clue you in on what is going right at your small business, you’ll form a more optimistic mindset. Also, remember that the purpose of employee satisfaction surveys is not a pat on the back; your aim is to get an accurate pulse on your team. Isn’t it better to be aware of dissatisfaction now when you can do something about it rather than down the line when staff members quit or you discover productivity suffering?

Think about changes

Prepare to act on what you learned from the survey. Asking people how they feel about something and then failing to address problems creates hard feelings (and good luck getting them to take future surveys seriously). Develop some possible measures to take, and share these thoughts with your small business team. Coming prepared to the meeting shows you’ve taken their comments to heart. But also listen to their feedback and seek their ideas. Engagement increases when workers contribute to solving problems.

Implement and reevaluate

Though negative survey results may make you eager for huge changes, small steps probably are better than a sweeping overhaul because you can get a better handle on what specifically makes a difference. Break up challenges into concrete, manageable pieces. After a reasonable trial period, solicit opinions on effectiveness. Readjust as necessary, or try a different approach if improvement simply isn’t happening.

Don’t give up

Finally, whether you’re trying to reduce stress or improve morale, remember that issues usually don’t get solved overnight. Acknowledge trial and error as a fact of life. Persistence demonstrates commitment to long-lasting improvement, not just temporary appeasement. Your small business staff members will notice your effort – and hopefully have better things to say when the next employee engagement survey comes around.

4 Effective Ways to Deal with Toxic Employees

November 16th, 2016 Comments off
unhappy smile

While a toxic employee can wreak havoc in any workplace, such a person can be especially damaging to a small business, where interactions are frequent and quarters close. Others on staff have difficulty escaping the negativity, and a small business leader who fails to address the problem may soon find everyone’s energy drained.

Obviously, the best solution would be for small business owners not to hire toxic workers. Warning signs during interviews may include talking negatively about former employers, blaming co-workers for problems, and failing to acknowledge the role of others in accomplishments. Speaking with references can be revealing; they may hint at attitude problems or provide lackluster answers that raise red flags.

Unfortunately, preventative measures don’t always work, so it’s important to stay alert to possible toxicity on your staff. Probe when customers request a different contact. Look at the facial expressions of team members when around the individual in question. Ask yourself how you feel when interacting with the suspect. Complaints, looks of frustration, avoidance, and a general bad vibe spell trouble.

If you discover a toxic employee on your team, take action. While speaking up may be awkward, let this finding spur your courage:  Research shows that good employees are 54 percent more likely to quit when they work with a toxic employee. Do you really want to risk losing valuable talent?

Consider these measures to deal with someone you’ve identified as toxic:

One-on-one discussion

Call the team member in question in for a private chat. The person may not be aware of the behavior and its effect on others. Stick with facts and specifics to drive the point home and lower defensive reactions. Listen when the person responds. A personal problem may be carrying over into the workplace, or perhaps a work-related issue might be brought up that you can help solve. Knowing the behavior has been noticed may be enough to squelch it.

Notification of consequences

Some people, however, need more motivation to change their tune. Outline your expectations, and clearly state what will happen if they aren’t met. Attitude may improve when a promotion, raise or even continued employment is on the line.

Positive reinforcement

An employee who truly wants to improve will likely keep up the good work if rewarded with praise and attention. Such actions also demonstrate that you aren’t holding a grudge based on past actions and instead are interested in moving forward for the sake of the small business.

Outlets for expression

Finally, remember that negativity may simply be a way to get heard, so providing positive means that serve the same purpose may reduce the need to complain and blame. Suggestion boxes, employee surveys, town-hall style meetings, and open-door policies encourage engagement and solutions over aimless expressions of discontent. You may even choose to meet regularly with your “problem” employee. Scheduling a productive conversation every two weeks beats depleting everyone’s time and energy daily.

How and Why Small Business Employers Should Promote from Within

November 14th, 2016 Comments off
Business team applause in meeting

For small business owners who can’t find the high-skilled candidates they need for hard-to-fill positions, a great solution might be closer than they imagine. Promoting from within enables employers to augment the skill set of existing employees to correspond with growing company demands. Benefits of dealing with someone who already “knows the ropes” at your small business include:

  • Ability to hit the ground running. Promoted workers already have a good grasp of your small business’s structure, goals, customer base, employees, and even its temperamental printer. Skipping the onboarding period allows individual contributions to begin faster. Likewise, others on staff can remain on task rather than being pulled to get a newcomer up to speed.
  • Assured cultural fit. An external candidate can be great in theory but for whatever reason turn out not to be a good match when actually brought into a workplace. Small businesses thrive when team members work well together, so someone who has already proven successful in your environment poses less risk of disturbing group dynamics.
  • Better odds of success. Studies show that internal promotions have a lower failure rate than external hires. Employee and employer have a truer picture of each other because of their past relationship. Fewer surprises mean less chance of dissatisfaction that leads either side to sever ties.

In addition to these benefits, internal promotion sends a positive message to your entire small business team. It shows that you reward outstanding work, put faith in your staff to meet new challenges, and foster career development. Morale, retention rates, and loyalty all stand to gain as good workers witness that they can grow with your company.

And while perhaps not the primary reason to look to your own to fill positions, this method may save you time and money by eliminating the hassles and costs associated with recruiting. Your small business can get immediate productivity from the position rather than wait for the completion of the hiring process. Also, such a move may be beneficial in terms of salary. Research shows that external hires make 18 percent more than internal promotes in the same job. While your current employee might get a raise with the promotion, the amount oftentimes is less than what it would take to lure an outside prospect.

Stepping Up to Success

While promoting current employees has advantages, the process should not be willy-nilly. Thinking about how to best develop internal candidates for increased responsibilities maximizes their potential to be a good fit. Strategies for doing so include:

  • Evaluating interest. Consistent one-to-one discussions regarding long-term goals helps a small business owner set the stage for the future. Does the employee seem excited about advancement prospects and willing to take the steps to make promotion a reality?
  • Providing leadership opportunities. Enable employees to test the waters slowly by incrementally increasing chances to take ownership of projects. Grooming in this manner keeps them motivated but not overwhelmed, and you can get a more accurate picture of their potential.
  • Investing in continuing education. Finally, continually be aware of what skill sets would help your small business grow, and provide staff members with necessary training.

A culture of enrichment keeps workers engaged and ready to develop new talents, including ones not currently on your radar. Avid learners dedicated to professional development are gems to treasure because they don’t mind expanding their horizons as you expand yours.

4 Ways It Pays to Hire Veterans for Your Small Business

November 11th, 2016 Comments off
Happy healthy ethnic army soldier with copy space on the right

Nearly 250,000 service members transition out of the military every year. Could one of them be your small business’s next great hire? Providing job opportunities for veterans not only feels like the right thing to do, it makes good business sense. Consider the qualities these candidates typically bring to the table:

  • Resourcefulness

Small business employees often must do more with less. The same holds true for service members as they work with what they have out in the field to come up with viable solutions.

  • Grace under pressure

Adjusting to changes, evaluating circumstances, and making quick decisions are par for the course in military life. Expect ex-military to remain calm and goal-focused (and help others at your small business do the same) when asked to wear many hats or deal with challenging clients.

  • Professionalism

Employers often report that veterans are among their most honest, dependable and productive employees. The work ethic developed in the military can translate easily to other environments.

  • Teamwork

Colleagues at small businesses depend on each other too much and work in too limited of quarters to not get along. In the military, operating as a cohesive unit means survival. The ability of veterans both to lead and to follow directions can improve dynamics at your small business.

Aside from the talents these individual workers bring to your small business, the very act of bringing aboard veterans can be beneficial. Americans respect people who have served the country, so being known as a company that values veterans can increase good feelings about your brand.

Also, government contracts often involve specifics about affirmative action measures. If you’re interested in landing such business, having veterans on your staff may help with compliance.

And don’t neglect the possible tax credits. Amounts and qualifications vary, but you may be able to take advantage of incentives up to $9,600 per veteran hired.

Undoubtedly, though, your main concern is to find qualified workers. Attending veteran job fairs can be a great first step, as can advertising open position on veteran-specific job sites. You can find more information at the Department of Labor’s website, where you can also connect with a local Veteran Employment Representative.

Don’t forget, too, to tap any vets already on staff for hiring suggestions. Applicants hand-selected by people already familiar with your company’s culture and goals tend to work out better than candidates from a random pool. Your former service men and women likely will be more than happy to help out a fellow veteran.

Want to further aid ex-military members? Become a mentor to veterans looking to start their own small business. Connect them to leaders in your own network, help them navigate local resources, and introduce them to support options such as The Veterans Business Outreach Program and the Veteran Entrepreneur Portal. Serving those who have served us may be one of the most rewarding actions you’ll ever perform.

Social Media Recruiting for Small Businesses: 4 Tips to Get Started

November 9th, 2016 Comments off
Istanbul, Turkey - September 18, 2015: Apple Iphone 6 screen with social media applications of Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Periscope while a male finger is about to touch on Facebook app.

Did you know that about 890 million people a day use Facebook? While it may be tempting for a small business leader to write off this huge audience as mostly interested in posting vacation photos and sharing brownie recipes, visitors also gather plenty of news and opinions from such platforms. If social networking isn’t part of your recruitment strategy, your small business may be missing out on valuable opportunities to connect with potential employees and failing to take advantage of an outlet that can cut down on recruiting costs.

Luckily, with some thought and research, any small business owner can start building relationships on social media. If you have yet to try this tactic, here are some tips to get started.

Tip #1: Know the sites

You won’t get far on Twitter without a clear understanding of hashtags, retweeting, and the 140-character limit. Likewise, Instagram may be awesome for introducing prospective Generation Z employees to company culture, but seasoned professionals are more likely to be found on LinkedIn. Get familiar with the top social media platforms to become comfortable with their style and audience.

Especially crucial to recruitment efforts is learning your options on each platform. While some small businesses may be content to post job openings on their company Facebook page, others may want to invest in targeted ads aimed at getting their name in front of people from a certain geographical region or a particular educational level.

Tip #2: Stand out

With so much happening on social media, competition for attention can be fierce. While staying true to your small business’s brand (inconsistency makes it hard for others to trust you and pinpoint your message), look for ways to catch eyes. Video of your office’s Halloween party or pictures of happy co-workers can increase the odds of being noticed. Or perhaps try a contest seeking answers to a real-life dilemma at your business. Viewers become engaged, and you might discover your next great hire.

Tip #3: Establish relationships

Cultivate a network of interested prospective employees by being active beyond your job postings. Get your small business on the radar of potential candidates by participating in an industry-specific Twitter chat or joining relevant social groups. Regular, friendly sharing of thoughts and expertise generates interest in your company and lets you discover members of the community who might make good additions to your staff.

Tip #4: Get personal

Encourage current team members to assist with your social media efforts. Not only are personal networks likely to be much larger than the number of corporate followers, viewers tend to trust and pay attention to messages received from those they know. Establish a clear social media policy that outlines how they can contribute, such as by sharing their experiences at your company or making others aware of job openings.

And don’t forget the power of your own social media accounts. A friend or associate may know just the candidate you should consider for that new job opening. Be responsive to your online community every chance you get, and you’ll find others eager to return the favor.

5 Habits of Highly Successful Small Business Managers

November 7th, 2016 Comments off
motivational set of steps to success: try, fail, try again, success

Being a small business manager is no easy task. While it comes with a lot of power, it also comes with a lot of responsibility. Being a manager at a small business is a unique experience, because managers at smaller companies tend to wear many hats. Therefore, they require a unique set of skills. Whether you are new to management or simply looking to hone your current skills, mastering the following skills will help ensure your success – and that of your team.

  1. They make time for their employees. It’s well known that employees don’t leave jobs; they leave managers. Good managers set aside time for their employees — whether that’s in the form of regular one-on-one meetings or establishing an “open door” policy — so they can address any questions, concerns or challenges that may arise. They also make time to recognize their employees for their hard work and celebrate their achievements. Regular recognition boosts morale and instills a sense of loyalty in employees.
  2. They know how to relinquish control. As a manager, you are held accountable for the performance of the people you manage. As a result, you may feel the need to be in control of everything your employees do. This type of micro-management, however, can kill morale. When you relinquish control and let your employees be more autonomous, you show them that you trust them, which fosters confidence, loyalty and leadership development.
  3. They can think on their feet. Small business managers often have to act at lightening speed when it comes to making decisions; therefore, the ability to think on one’s feet and quickly evaluate a situation and decide is crucial. If you sit on something for too long or keep changing your mind, you could end up losing out on lots of opportunities.
  4. They know how to communicate (well). Communication is an essential business skill for small business managers, but with their packed schedules, it can be hard to stay on top of getting messages out about news and updates that affect employees’ day-to-day lives. Make a concerted effort to keep employees up-to-date on key business decisions and organizational news. Regular, thoughtful communication empowers your employees with the information needed to do their jobs better. Remember, too, that communication isn’t just about talking; it’s about listening, too. Solicit regular feedback from your employees and other managers to identify any challenges or concerns and address them immediately.
  5. They learn from their mistakes. Even managers make mistakes. It’s what happens next that truly differentiates the good managers from the bad ones. Good managers know that admitting to a mistake is not a sign of weakness, but a show of maturity. Good managers own their mistakes, learn from them and pass what they’ve learned on to their employees. Not only will your employees be better for it, they will admire you for the way you handled it.

What habits do you find essential to a successful small business management? Tweet me at @cbpetej

Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

U.S. Sees Strongest Annual Growth in Wages in October

November 4th, 2016 Comments off
BLS april 2016

While U.S. job growth in October didn’t meet economists’ predictions, growth in hourly earnings far exceeded expectations.

The U.S. added 161,000 new jobs in October, according to the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While this number is lower than the expected gain of 175,000 jobs, it is well within the means of healthy job growth. What’s more, the BLS revised upward the job gains in both August (from the originally reported 167,000 new jobs to 176,000 new jobs) and September (from 156,000 new jobs to 191,000). That’s a total of 44,000 additional jobs for those two months!

The real highlight of the report, however, was the 10 cent rise in hourly earnings, bringing average wagest to $25.92 an hour. Wages are now up 2.8 percent year over year, the strongest annual growth in wages recorded since the recession, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The unemployment rate ticked down slightly, back to 4.9 percent. Once again, the industries that saw the biggest gains were professional and business services (adding 43,000 jobs) and health care (adding 31,000 jobs).

October marks the 73rd consecutive month of job growth, and has “averaged over 200,000 job gains a month for most of the past couple of years,” according to NPR’s John Ydstie.

As I always say, small businesses are a major driver of economic growth in this country, so I urge you to keep doing what you are doing to attract, engage and retain your best asset – your people.

Small Business Job Growth Holds Steady in October, According to ADP Report

November 2nd, 2016 Comments off
ADP april 2016

Small business job growth in October was unchanged from September. According to the ADP’s most recent Small Business Employment Report, which looks at job growth specific to businesses with 49 or fewer employees, small businesses added 34,000 jobs in October, the same number the ADP reported in September.

Looking at company size, very small businesses (those with 1-19 employees) added 14,000 jobs and other small businesses (those with 20-49 employees) added 20,000 jobs.

Looking at sectors, small businesses in the goods-producing sectors continue to lose jobs (down 13,000 jobs, significantly lower than the 2,000 jobs lost in September).  In contrast, small businesses in the service-providing sector are making up for the loss, having added 48,000 jobs in October.

These numbers seem to be in sync with national trends. According to the ADP’s national report, the U.S. added 147,000 private jobs across company size from September to October. (Medium-sized businesses added 48,000 jobs, and large businesses added 64,000.) Overall jobs in the goods-producing sector are down 18,000 but have spiked in the service-producing sector, which added 165,000 jobs.

If it feels as if job growth is hitting a plateau, you’re not alone. According to Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, “Job growth remains strong, although the pace of growth appears to be slowing.” Zandi attributes the slowdown in part to “businesses’ difficulty filling open positions.”

If you’re having trouble filling open positions, perhaps it’s time to reconsider waiting for the perfect applicant to come along and hire candidates with potential. Another option to consider: asking your employees for referrals, which could lead to quality hires.

The Telltale Signs of a Great Hire

October 31st, 2016 Comments off
Confident business people shaking hands and woman smiling, recruitment and agreement concept

Regardless of the position for which you are hiring, demonstration of certain characteristics can indicate that an applicant will make an excellent employee. Help your small business reach new heights by looking for candidates who exhibit the following qualities:

Want to hire someone you can trust to represent your company? A candidate who shows up on time, dresses appropriately, acts courteous, and clearly has done his homework knows the importance of a good first impression. But don’t stop your evaluation there. Listen to how the person talks about past employers, co-workers and experiences – both during an interview and on social media. Is he or she quick to claim credit for achievements but equally eager to blame others for problems? A true professional doesn’t jockey for sole command of the spotlight or air dirty laundry.

Problem-solving ability
Small business employees are often challenged to do more with less. They also get called upon to deal with unforeseen problems – sometimes outside of their comfort zones. Look for workers who attack challenges rather than try to avoid or run from them. A competent problem solver keeps the team level-headed and focused on solutions, not drama. Inquire about how the candidate solved a tricky situation at a previous job, or create a scenario based on the position at hand and ask the interviewee to discuss how he or she would approach it.

A love of learning
The skill sets your employees bring to the table when hired definitely affect your company’s capacity for success. But the best hires will not only be valuable today – they’ll be anxious to keep improving in order to grow along with your small business. Evaluate resumes for examples of being a lifelong learner, such as taking classes, attending conferences or gaining new certification. Ask about the role professional development opportunities play in career plans and the decision on whether or not to accept a position.

A sense of team
Small businesses thrive when staff members put the good of the company front and center. This often means assuming various roles and helping co-workers whenever a need arises. People who regularly assert that “that isn’t my job,” fail to pull their weight, or act inappropriately zap morale – especially when working in close quarters. Ask potential hires for their perspective on how to get along with fellow workers and resolve conflicts. Provide opportunities for them to interact both formally and informally with current staff (and seek feedback). And don’t neglect the “little things,” such as holding doors for others and treating the receptionist with respect.

Entrepreneurial spirit
Lastly, look for individuals who share your excitement for entrepreneurship. They need not run the company, but they’ll add to it with their genuine curiosity and ability to challenge the status quo in a positive manner. Take note of applicants who ask questions about why your small business does things certain ways or who want to hear about your five-year vision. A kindred trailblazer will keep you on your toes and likely be one of your brand’s strongest ambassadors.

Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

7 Surefire Employee Morale Killers

October 28th, 2016 Comments off
Office life: business team during a meeting

As a small business leader, one of the best investments you can make is in the engagement and morale of employees. Disengaged employees are more likely to call in sick, perform poorly and can cost companies thousands of dollars a year in lost productivity. If you’ve noticed an increase in absenteeism lately or an overall sense of gloom in the workplace, you may have a morale problem. Take a moment to consider what could be causing this disengagement. Below are five surefire morale killers that could be infecting your workplace.

Playing the blame game: Mistakes are inevitable in any workplace. Part of being a manager is accepting that mistakes happen and using them as opportunities to improve. Unfortunately, some managers refuse to accept responsibility for their workers’ mistakes and pass the blame on someone else. Not only does that take a toll on a person’s morale, it instills fear in the workplace.

Being dishonest: While you may feel the need to keep employees in the dark about certain things, it’s never okay to outright lie to them. Making false promises — about pay raises, promotions or time off, for example — will come back to haunt you. You will lose your employees’ trust and respect, and it’s hard to motivate people who don’t trust you.

Threatening jobs: Threatening your employees’ jobs in order to motivate them will almost always have the opposite effect. Rather than feeling driven to perform well, they will be distracted by feelings of fear, anxiety or resentfulness for being made to feel disposable. Not only will this take a toll on morale, it will hurt productivity and lessen the quality of their work.

Providing no direction: You may think you are giving your employees freedom by staying “hands off,” but not providing any sort of direction or clarity around their jobs or what’s expected of them can cause frustration and stress.  particularly when, if they make a mistake, they are reprimanded for it.

Micromanaging: Where some managers are too hands-off, being too hands on can be just as detrimental to morale. Employees need to feel that you trust them, which will never happen if you’re constantly looking over their shoulder and telling them how to do their job better.

Never saying thanks: While berating employees for mistakes can be a surefire morale killer, never telling employees when they do a good job can be just as bad. Employees aren’t mind readers. If they are doing a good job, tell them so. While you shouldn’t feel the need to compliment your employees for every small thing or go overboard with extravagant rewards, it’s important to let them know they are appreciated. A sincere gesture that says “thank you” and lets them know their work matters can do wonders for morale.

Holding employees back: Do you discourage employees from trying new pursuits or taking on projects that fall outside of their normal responsibilities? These are instant morale killers. People want to work in a place where they feel their ideas are appreciated and their talents utilized. Encourage employees to bring new ideas to the table or pursue projects that interest them even if they don’t necessarily fall into their normal duties. Giving employees room to explore their passions will make them more passionate in their jobs and about their work.

Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

What Small Business Employers Should Know About Background Checks

October 26th, 2016 Comments off
Close-up of hands searching in a file cabinet

If you think large companies are the only ones who need to worry about conducting background checks, you may be setting up your small business for potential problems. Because of close working quarters, staff members oftentimes have significant access to accounts and confidential information. Bringing to light past instances of untrustworthiness before hiring may save your small business from putting such sensitive things in the wrong hands.

Likewise, we all know the hassle involved in firing and rehiring when a new employee doesn’t work out. Discovering a candidate misrepresented his education or experience before adding him to your staff can save valuable time and money down the line.

And, heaven forbid, an employee or customer gets hurt by someone you hired. Besides the trauma of such a situation, you could be hit with a negligent hiring claim contending that you should have looked into the offender’s risk potential. Such legal cases, unfortunately, are on the rise.

While many small business owners understand the purpose of background checks, some still shy away from them due to costs or perceived complexity. When the well-being of your staff and your livelihood are at stake, however, can you really afford not to make the investment?

To make the process easier and more cost-efficient, many small businesses turn to full-service background-check vendors. (Some small business employers try to handle checks on their own through do-it-yourself sites, but experts warn that information obtained in this manner is often inaccurate and limited.) Look for one accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners to ensure reputability. A knowledgeable background-check provider can help with issues such as:

  • Determining which screens should be performed. Searching motor vehicle records makes sense when hiring a delivery person but probably isn’t necessary when filling a spot in IT. Professionals know the various screens available and can pinpoint which ones will yield information valuable to your particular needs.
  • Legal compliance. Since small businesses may not hire employees as often as larger firms, they oftentimes aren’t up to speed on the latest regulations regarding background checks. But being unaware doesn’t get your company off the hook if it makes errors. The Fair Credit Reporting Act specifies how background checks must be conducted, and skilled human resource personnel can walk you through everything from obtaining necessary written consent from applicants to notifying candidates when something questionable turns up. They also can help your company develop consistent background-checking policies so that you don’t subject your small business to charges of discrimination or personal intrusion.


Don’t be shy about asking questions before selecting a vendor. A good background-checking firm should be transparent about costs, including any access fees. (With certain background checks, jurisdictional and data access fees are charged by select counties, states and data providers – and likely passed on to you.) You should be given an estimate of how long it will take to get results and what details will be included in your written reports. Knowing what to expect takes some of the mystery out of background checks and enables you to make the best decisions for your small business.

Does Emotional Intelligence Matter When Hiring?

October 24th, 2016 Comments off
Puzzle head brain concept. Human head profile made from brown paper with a jigsaw piece cut out. Choose your personality that suit you

A resume tells a great deal about a candidate’s qualifications and background, but it fails to reveal much about emotional intelligence (EI). To find applicants skilled in this area, a small business leader must dig deeper.

What makes such effort worth a small business leader’s valuable time? In a workplace where staff members rely greatly on one another, oftentimes must do more with less, and need to be ready to take on unforeseen challenges, emotionally intelligent employees can be a godsend. The qualities they bring to the table include:

  • Emotional control – they remain calm under pressure, help others focus on results rather than drama, and think before they act.
  • Ability to pick up on the cues of others – they notice when a colleague needs help or could use a break.
  • Savviness at managing relationships – they work well with others and resolve conflicts effectively.
  • Self-motivation – they do not need constant supervision to remain on task and pursue excellence.
  • Self-awareness – they have a good handle on their strengths and weakness and know when to ask for help.


If you think these attributes sound beneficial to a small business, you’re not alone. In fact, 71 percent of hiring managers in a CareerBuilder survey said they value emotional intelligence in an employee more than IQ. The challenge becomes how to judge an applicant’s EI level. Here are some helpful strategies:

Ask appropriate interview questions

Though you should be searching for insight about emotional intelligence throughout the interview, asking a few pointed questions can be useful. For instance, “How would you go about informing a co-worker about an error she made?” provides clues on the applicant’s tact and consideration of others’ feelings. A thoughtful response when asked to “tell me about a mistake you made during your career and what you learned from it” demonstrates self-awareness and motivation to improve.

Set up a scenario

Practical applications give candidates a chance to demonstrate their skills and thought processes and you the opportunity to look for evidence of emotional intelligence. You might present a real-life situation, such as a client moving a deadline up a day, and ask the candidate to take you through how she would handle the request. Look for evidence of thinking the situation through, calmly reorganizing priorities, and dealing with reactions from colleagues.

A similar evaluation exercise is asking a prospective hire to teach you something new, as if you’d never heard of it before. Is he or she patient and willing to restate information in different ways? Does the candidate ask empathetic questions along the way (e.g. “Does this make sense?” or “Am I going too fast?”). Can he or she judge your understanding based on facial cues and body language?

Seek employee referrals

Is your small business fortunate to already have emotionally intelligent people on staff? Pick their brains for people in their network who might make good additions to your team. When describing the type of candidates you seek, put as much emphasis on emotional intelligence as on hard skills. Your emotionally intelligent workers will pick up on your comments and do what they can to help you discover a great new hire.

Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

5 Signs It’s Time to Let an Employee Go

October 21st, 2016 Comments off
Fired businessman packing personal desk items in box

No small business owner wants to go through the draining experience of firing a worker. Not only is such a situation emotionally taxing, it leaves you short-handed and faced with the burden of finding a replacement. Thus, leaders oftentimes avoid taking action in hopes that the problem employee will somehow turn things around.

Prolonging the agony, however, can have major repercussions on everything from productivity to morale at your small business. So when is it time to face the music and do what needs to be done? Here’s how to know for sure when you must let someone go.

The work isn’t getting done: The growth of a small business depends on each team member pulling his or her weight. An individual repeatedly failing to meet expectations cannot be allowed to continue. Take notice, too, of overall staff productivity. Chances are high it also is suffering; others have difficulty performing their best when a co-worker’s input is late or requires multiple revisions. Similarly, staff members may not have as much motivation to do well when they witness poor performers still receiving a paycheck.

The employee doesn’t respond to your efforts: Sometimes a worker simply needs extra guidance to get on track. Before dismissing someone, most small business leaders will try measures such as training, feedback, mentorship, and formal performance improvement plans. But if an employee snubs suggestions, refuses to fill in learning gaps, or offers more excuses than effort, you’re left with little choice but to cut ties.

Others are complaining: Take note immediately when customers or vendors express dissatisfaction with an employee’s attitude or performance. Inaction will leave them questioning your leadership skills. Seriously consider the risk of the person at fault jeopardizing your reputation and your livelihood.

Morale has dropped: Members of your staff likely have plenty of thoughts on a lackluster colleague. Some may choose to share information with you; others may feel uncomfortable or worry they’ll be seen as a tattle-tale. Do some observing or even a survey to judge what might be going on. Better to discover now that people are tired of picking up slack or dealing with office drama than when they hand in their own resignations.

You’re wasting time: Lastly, remember that every minute is a precious commodity for a small business owner juggling multiple obligations. Evaluate how much time you (and others on staff) spend trying to get this person up to par and dealing with fallout from his or her behavior. Might this time be better spent doing other tasks to help the company grow? An honest answer should confirm what you need to do next.


Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

How to Earn Trust with Your Employees

October 19th, 2016 Comments off
Building trust as a concept

When workers trust their leaders, good things happen. They feel empowered to give valuable, honest feedback that can help a small business grow. Creativity and willingness to try new things flourish because employees know management has their back. Individual accountability rises as team members follow the lead from above to take responsibility for actions.

Yet less than half of full-time workers trust their boss, according to a 2016 EY study.

Furthermore, respondents with a low level of trust in their company note serious potential consequences arising from that lack, such as influencing them to look for another job (42 percent), working only the minimum number of hours required (30 percent), and being less engaged/productive (28 percent).

So how can you earn the trust of your small business employees? These strategies can make an important difference:

Keep your word. People need to know that they can consistently believe what you say, so avoid making false claims or promises you can’t fulfill. If you need to revise statements based on unforeseen circumstances or new information, explain the change in detail.

Do the “hard stuff.” No small business leader relishes delivering bad news or giving negative feedback. But regular, honest communication demonstrates that you are a straight-shooter who doesn’t keep secrets or blindside employees. Likewise, admit when you make a mistake rather than cover it up or blame others. A sincere apology and actions to rectify demonstrate character.

Share credit. Acknowledging the contributions of others shows your team that you aren’t out to steal the spotlight and that you genuinely value their efforts.

Be consistent. Favoritism leads to resentment, especially in a close-knit environment. Treat everyone equally and hold all employees to the same standards and rules. Also, avoid waffling when it comes to priorities, objectives, and procedures. When a message changes too often, people don’t know if they should believe it.

Listen to feedback. Soliciting input shows you respect the opinion of others, and following through builds faith that you’re committed to real progress. Employees need to feel secure that they can share information without being ignored or penalized.

Demonstrate your trust. Micromanaging often backfires because employees sense that you lack confidence in their abilities. Alternately, allowing someone the freedom to try out an idea or work from home when a child is sick sends the message that you view staff as professionals capable of monitoring their own behavior. Trust breeds trust, so don’t be afraid to make the first gesture.

Set workers up for success. Finally, remember that small business employees can feel overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done. By keeping workloads manageable, giving workers the proper tools, and checking in to see how things are going, your team learns to trust that you have their best interests at heart. You’ll go even further in generating trust by pitching in and getting your own hands dirty when things are tough. Saying that you’re all in this together is one thing, but living it is quite another.


Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

The Best Questions for Your Employee Engagement Survey

October 17th, 2016 Comments off
Computer key showing the word Feedback. Message on keyboard key.

As a small business owner with many things going on at any given time, it can be easy to miss signs of dissatisfaction among your employees. But the last thing you need is low morale and high turnover, so it pays to get a pulse on your team. Thoughtful, regular employee engagement surveys can help you do just that.

Instead of asking any old questions, however, select ones that will provide insight on how to make your small business a better place to work. Your aim should be to gather usable information, not a pat on the back. What should you include? Consider questions that get to the heart of these small business concerns, such as:

Stress: A smaller staff means employees often must juggle multiple tasks and venture into areas outside of their comfort zones. Wearing many hats can be exciting, but it can also potentially be exhausting. Likewise, long hours and pressure to do more with less can take a toll on morale. To gauge how individuals are handling such demands, ask questions such as:

  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your work-life balance?
  • What word(s) would you use to describe your feelings or mood at the end of most workdays?
  • When something unexpected or confusing comes up in your work, do you usually know where to turn for help?
  • Which of the following (if any) would you consider helpful for performing your job: time-management training, more consistent feedback, clarification of priorities, flexible work schedule?
  • The majority of the time, do you feel you have enough information to make good decisions about your work?
  • What is the number one source of stress for you at the office, and what might lessen it?


Opportunity for growth: Employees who cannot envision career advancement at your small business become likely candidates to leave. Judge how much optimism workers have for their future at your company with questions such as:

  • Where do you see yourself in one year?
  • What types of training or development interest you most?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rank the long-term career opportunities at this company?
  • How challenged do you feel in your current role?


Knowledge of your brand: Studies have shown that employees become more engaged when they understand how what they do fits into the overall purpose of the company. Similarly, workers with a clear understanding of your brand can be your small business’s best ambassadors in terms of generating excitement among both potential customers and prospective hires. Ensure team members do indeed have a firm grasp of operations through questions like:

  • Do you feel you have a solid picture of the company’s future direction?
  • If someone asked you about our brand, how much confidence do you have that your response would be accurate?
  • How important do you feel your work is to the success of the company?
  • Has your role in meeting company objectives been effectively explained?


Company culture: When you work in close quarters and depend heavily on co-workers, maintaining good relationships is a necessity. Bad morale can spread quickly throughout the whole place and take a toll on the company culture. Feedback generated from these questions provides insight on feelings about the workplace and how well everyone gets along:

  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how prominent is office politics in this workplace?
  • What two words would you use to describe our workplace’s vibe?
  • How well does leadership respond to internal issues?
  • How comfortable are you speaking up about problems?
  • Would you recommend working here to a friend? Why or why not?


Whichever questions you ultimately select, be prepared to act on what you learn. Asking people how they feel about something and then failing to address problems can create hard feelings — and good luck getting them to take future surveys seriously.

Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.


How to Turn Employees into Brand Ambassadors

October 14th, 2016 Comments off
Top view of successful team of professionals high fiving and looking at camera smiling. Men and women making a pile of hands in office.

Looking for an effective way to generate interest in your small business that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg? Utilize one of the greatest assets already at your disposal – your employees. Enthusiastic workers make excellent salespeople, not only of your products and services but also of your workplace. Help them become “brand ambassadors” capable of gaining attention from potential customers and prospective employees with these tips:

Get them excited about your vision.

As a small business leader, you undoubtedly have high hopes about how your company will grow and develop. Letting your workers in on these dreams will rev up their own entrepreneurial spirit. Every employee should clearly understand how his or her work fits into the bigger picture. Such knowledge encourages responsibility and pride. Company success will feel like everyone’s victory, so individuals will be motivated to do what they can to stimulate progress.

Show that they are valued.

Employees who feel appreciated tend to have a positive view of their company and are more apt to convey their happiness to others. While you may not have the funds to offer as many rewards or bonuses as you’d like, don’t discount the power of regularly and genuinely saying “thank you.” Another way to demonstrate that you value your workers is to listen to them. Seek input on ways to improve productivity, company culture, public relations, and other important matters. Give their feedback serious consideration, and see what can be implemented.

Give them outlets.

If you’d like employees to sing your brand’s praises, provide opportunities to do so. Send them to industry conferences, job fairs, trade shows, and other events where they can talk about your awesome company and why they like working there. Likewise, encourage staff members to be active on social media. Not only are personal networks likely to be much larger than the number of corporate followers, viewers tend to trust and pay attention to messages received from those they know. Pictures an employee posts from the day he or she spent with co-workers reading to kids at a local school aren’t just entertaining – they serve as examples of your small business’s activities and values.

Provide swag.

Finally, consider giving your team members promotional tools to help with their role as brand ambassadors. An employee standing in line at the grocery store wearing your company t-shirt may spark interest from a fellow shopper about the nature of your small business. Business cards casually passed out when an enthusiastic worker makes the rounds at a college reunion weekend may draw interest in employment opportunities. And don’t forget items such as product samples and pens with the company logo for staff to bestow on friends and family. People love free things, and your small business will stay top of mind.

Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

How to Keep the Peace with Political Talk at the Office

October 12th, 2016 Comments off
Voter Registration Application for presidential election 2016

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock lately, you’re well aware that election season is upon us. In fact, chances are you’ve participated in a few discussions on this topic – perhaps even in the workplace. While a little discourse and debate can be healthy for workers, when it comes to politics, things can go from healthy to heated in a matter of seconds. According to new study from CareerBuilder, 3 in 10 employers have argued with a co-worker over a particular political candidate this election season, and 1 in 5 workers have done the same. Such conflict can be particularly hard at a small business, where it’s harder to avoid those co-workers who insist on talking politics.

While you may be tempted to ban political talk altogether at the office, such actions could make employees uneasy. Fifty percent of employees in the survey said they feel their office has become too politically correct, and a third (33 percent) say they are afraid to voice certain opinions because they feel they may not be considered politically correct. Nearly the same number of workers (34 percent) say this level of political correctness has hindered business, because it forces people to “tip-toe” around issues instead of addressing them head on and making people afraid to speak their minds.

5 Ways to Keep the Peace with Political Talk

So what is a small business manager to do? Remind your employees that while they are entitled to their opinions, they should respect the opinions of others. Follow these guidelines – and encourage your employees to do the same – to promote a healthy and civil political discourse at the office.

  1. Promote a culture of respect. Remind your employees to keep conversations respectful and stay open-minded. Make it clear that everyone’s opinions and ideas are welcomed and accepted, no matter how different they may be from another person’s.
  2. Find things to agree on. Encourage employees to discussing facts and values they can agree upon, which will help ensure the conversation remains respectful.
  3. Deal only with the facts. Remind your employees to stick to the facts when discussing the candidates. Exaggerating and spinning facts are common ways to start an argument.
  4. Step in. While you may not want to hinder your employees from stating their opinions, if you find that political talk has gotten so negative that it is hurting productivity and/or overall morale, you are well within your rights to step in and change the topic to something more neutral or put an end to the discussion altogether.
  5. Set an example. Adhere to these guidelines yourself, and your employees likely will follow suit.


How do you promote peaceful political discourse at your workplace? Tweet me at @cbpetej


Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

Small Business Hiring Forecast Shows Bigger Paychecks in Store for Q4

October 10th, 2016 Comments off

As the holiday season approaches, small business employees may have extra reasons to be jolly, as the majority (58 percent) of small business employers plan to increase salaries for full-time, permanent employees in Q4, according to CareerBuilder’s most recent hiring forecast. Nearly 1 in 4 employers (23 percent) anticipate an average pay increase of 5 percent or more.

Small Business Hiring Plans for Q4

‘Tis the season for seasonal hiring: 1 in 4 small business employers plan to hire seasonal employees in Q4 2016. While many plan to hire for additional help during the busier holiday season, others need seasonal employees to fill in for workers who are out of the office for the holidays, assist with year-end wrap ups, or help the company ramp up for 2017. Industries expected to hire seasonal employees most are customer service, retail sales and administrative/clerical support.

Twenty-seven percent of small business employers plan to add full-time, permanent employees in Q4. Seven percent expect to reduce staff, while the majority (59 percent) anticipate no change and 6 percent are unsure.

Nearly 3 in 10 small business employers (29 percent) expect to temporary or contract workers in Q4. Many of these employers are viewing temporary and contract hiring as a means to test-drive candidates for more permanent roles. Twenty-three percent expect to transition some contract or temporary workers into full-time positions.

Modest Job Gains in September, According to Latest BLS Report

October 7th, 2016 Comments off
BLS april 2016

While U.S. job creation fell short of economists’ expectations this month, the labor market continues to show healthy growth. According to the latest BLS employment situation report, released today, the U.S. created 156,000 jobs in September, which was lower than the 176,000 gain predicted, but well in the margin of healthy job growth.

The unemployment rate ticked up slightly from 4.9 percent to 5 percent in September, but so did the labor force participation rate – from 62.8 percent to 62.9 percent. This increase is an indication that people are gaining confidence in the labor market and returning to look for jobs.

The industries that saw the biggest gains were professional and business services and health care.

While this marks the second consecutive month of modest job gains, it’s important to note that the overall economy has created a healthy 2.44 million new jobs in the last 12 months, and September was the 72nd consecutive month of positive job growth — the longest on record.

And there’s more good news, according to CNN Money: “America also reached a post-recession milestone: Counting September’s gains, the United States has added 15 million jobs since employment hit its low in February 2010.”

Small Businesses Add 34,000 Jobs in September, ADP Says

October 5th, 2016 Comments off
ADP april 2016

Small businesses created 34,000 private sector jobs in September, according the ADP’s most recent Small Business Employment Report. The ADP reports job growth specific to businesses with 49 or fewer employees, due to the important contribution small businesses make to economic growth.

Looking at company size, both very small businesses (those with 1-19 employees) and other small businesses (those with 20-49 employees) added 17,000 jobs.

Looking at separate sectors, very small businesses in the goods-producing sector lost 2,000 jobs, while other small businesses held steady. In contrast, very small businesses in the service-providing sector added 19,000 jobs, other small businesses added 17,000 jobs.

Looking at overall national job growth, the ADP reports the U.S. added 154,000 private jobs in August. Medium-sized businesses added 56,000 jobs, and large businesses added 64,000.

While the U.S. added fewer than expected jobs – economists predicted an addition of 169,000 jobs – the slowed job growth may be related to the low unemployment number. Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi says job growth “should be expected to slow as the U.S. nears full employment,” according to Marketwatch.

It will be interesting to see what the Labor Department’s release on Friday will show. In the meantime, remember that even if adding headcount is not on your mind right now, retaining high performers should always be. Make an effort to understand what compels employees to stay (or leave) and find new ways to ramp up employee engagement.

How to Develop Your Small Business Employees Into Leaders

October 3rd, 2016 Comments off
executive drawing on the wipeboard the learning and the lead are two pieces of the puzzle. All screen content is designed by us and not copyrighted by others and created with digitizing tablet and image editor

As a small business owner, your attention undoubtedly will be pulled in numerous directions as your company continues to grow; therefore, having people on staff who can step up to assume greater responsibility can be a lifesaver. Now is the time to start developing a leadership mindset among your small business team members.

By encouraging and training your employees to think leaders, you’ll create a steady stream of individuals ready to move to the next step on the managerial ladder, which will save you training time and recruiting costs. And even for those whose career paths don’t venture that way, knowing how to problem solve, take initiative and think strategically will still make them more valuable workers. Here are some tips to help your small business employees think like leaders:

Emphasize connections

Because leaders interact with others frequently, they need strong interpersonal skills. Routinely providing opportunities for each worker to be in charge of a project will result in a staff of better communicators with a greater handle on group dynamics. Assigning seasoned employees to mentor new hires also can aid with leadership development.

But don’t focus solely on in-house opportunities. People who can initiate conversations with strangers and talk knowledgably about your small business enhance both their reputations and yours. Consider allowing an employee or two to shadow you at a new client meeting or an industry event to get a sense of those situations. They may become so proficient that you’ll feel comfortable allowing them to go in your place – opening up your time for other activities.

Promote development

Successful leaders keep learning new things. Paying for classes or training programs demonstrates that you want employees to stretch themselves and bring new ideas back to the workplace. Also, consider the value of cross-training. Not only do workers gain new skills, they develop a better understanding of how the whole business operates.

The best employee growth often occurs when you learn to step back. Instead of jumping in with a solution to every issue that arises, allow some time for people to think and evaluate. You’ll develop a team of confident, engaged problem solvers ready to take charge rather than simply follow.

Create a sense of ownership

As a small business owner, you feel vested in your company. You realize your actions can make or break progress and affect the bottom line. When your employees gain this same sense of accountability, exciting things can result.

Leaders have a voice, so listen to your employees’ thoughts if you expect them to act like one. Likewise, when a team member has a reasonable idea, let the budding entrepreneur try it out. Seeing projects through and showing the courage to step outside of one’s comfort zone are great training for future leadership roles.

To really develop interest in how the company fares, consider incentives such as profit sharing and stock options. Tangible rewards keep you inspired to lead the small business to new heights; a direct stake in the outcome can be the motivation your emerging leaders need to do the same.


Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

What Small Business Employers Should Know about Generation Z

September 30th, 2016 Comments off
Notepad with generation z on the wooden table.


Just when you think you finally have a good grasp of Generation Y, along comes a newer batch of prospective employees. Outnumbering Millennials by about a million, the 60 million members of Generation Z – young people born between roughly 1996 and 2011 – make up a quarter of the U.S. population. And while the oldest members of this group are just getting their feet wet in college and the workforce, employers need to start thinking about their impending tidal wave.

Here are a few things you should know about Generation Z in order to prepare your small business to attract and retain talent from this age group:

Tech is expected

Gen Z doesn’t remember life before smart phones and the Internet. For them, technology is a given rather than a brave new frontier. Luckily, your small business needn’t have the absolute newest gadgets to be impressive. Compared to their Millennial counterparts, Gen Z doesn’t get as excited by the latest and greatest because they know an even better version will soon take its place. However, your company must have a strong social media presence to even be on their radar. Likewise, seriously examine your small business’s mobile recruiting efforts. Candidates from Gen Z expect a convenient, positive experience when they attempt to gain information and apply for a position via electronic devices.

A long company history doesn’t mean as much

The idea of entrepreneurship excites these young people, and they’ve witnessed start-ups turn into household names virtually overnight. And the demise of many established companies and brands during the Great Recession has made them skeptical about immediately equating a big name with job security. The good news for small business owners: The recruiting field will likely become more level, and Gen Z job hunters will be willing to entertain offers from companies of any size.

Money still matters

Seeing their parents struggle through the economic downturn made an impression on Gen Z. Expect applicants to be highly conscious of salary. Between social networks and websites providing easy access to compensation information, you’ll be dealing with candidates who know what their services are worth, so be prepared.

They do their homework

On that same note, realize that all of these online resources at their disposal can be a big plus for establishing your small business’s employment brand. Website perusal and Google searches are second nature, so give viewers great things to discover about your workplace culture, values, and social involvement. Keep messages consistent and truthful – this generation spots discrepancies quickly and will hold them against you. Especially pay attention to what employees (past and present) and outside parties are saying about your small business. Gen Z puts a great deal of stock in non-corporate messages and reviews.

Give them chances to grow

Though many in Gen Z are still quite young, they are already being touted as a creative, intelligent bunch. Many may not pursue higher education to the extent of their predecessors for fear of too much student debt without substantial return on their investment, but they still thirst for knowledge. When recruiting, spark their interest by discussing training opportunities. They’ll see your dedication to employee development, and you’ll be rewarded with workers eager to grow your small business.


Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

5 Small Business Leadership Lessons from Arnold Palmer

September 28th, 2016 Comments off
Golf ball on the lawn

This week, sports fans from across the nation are reeling from the news that golf legend Arnold Palmer, died on Sunday at the age of 87. Known as the “King of Golf,” Palmer held seven major championship title s and 62 PGA Tour wins. But it was more than his talent that led to his success and won Palmer the respect and admiration of fans and peers alike: Palmer was an inspiration to many for his dedication, hard work and a passion for the game. Below are some of Palmer’s famous quotes about success and how he got there, and what small business leaders can take away from it.

  1. “The most rewarding things you do in life are often the ones that look like they cannot be done.” As a small business owner, you face a lot of opposition; however, you only fail when you fail to try. A defeatist attitude will get you nowhere.
  2. “The road to success is always under construction.” As a small business owner, your jobs as a leader is never truly “done.” Good leaders are constantly looking for ways to better themselves and their teams and are never satisfied with the status quo.
  3. “I’m not much for sitting around and thinking about the past or talking about the past. What does that accomplish? If I can give young people something to think about, like the future, that’s a better use of my time.” While it’s important to learn from our mistakes, it is even more important not to dwell on them. Focus instead on what you can do different and better next time. Likewise, if there are things that have worked for you in the past, think about how you can build on those successes.
  4. “Winning isn’t everything, but wanting it is.” As a small business owner, you will inevitably face your fair share of ups and downs. Remember that everyone experiences failures, so don’t let them hold you back. Focus on why you wanted this in the first place, and keep that goal in mind.
  5. “Concentration, Confidence, Competitive urge, Capacity for enjoyment.” Leading a small business is hard, and it takes hard work, dedication, and a healthy dose of blood, sweat and tears. But as important as it is to work hard, it is equally as important to allow yourself time to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Remember to make time to celebrate your successes – both for yourself and the sake of your team. Show your team you are proud of their hard work and help them realize how their efforts contributed to the overall success. Taking time to do so will boost morale, foster loyalty and increase productivity.

Got a favorite Arnold Palmer quote or memory that you’ve applied to your business? Tweet me at @cbpetej

How Long Should You Wait For the Perfect Applicant?

September 26th, 2016 Comments off
Woman in business suit looks on the hand of the clock close up

With a limited staff size, small business owners depend heavily on the contributions of every team member. So when a new position opens up, finding a great match becomes imperative. A hiring mistake could cause problems ranging from insufficient output to workplace discord. At the same time, companies that take too long searching for the ideal applicant face risks, as well. A prolonged vacancy means lost productivity, and putting strain on your existing employees to pick up the slack could leave you with even more roles to fill if people get fed up and quit.

Unfortunately, no magic formula exists to figure out how long is too long to wait when searching for the “perfect” new hire. Your dream candidate could walk in the door tomorrow – or never. Instead, a better solution might be putting effort into finding worthy talent and working to help those chosen become what your small business needs. Here’s how:

Look internally: Could the person you’re seeking literally be right around the corner? Current employees already are a good fit culturally, and promoting from within can improve morale and increase retention because it exemplifies how you value workers and provide growth opportunities. Likewise, training someone who already knows a great deal about your small business can be faster and more cost effective than starting from scratch. If you work with freelancers or part-timers, consider informing them about permanent positions, too.

Encourage employee referrals: Applicants referred by members of your team tend to be a better match for your needs than those responding to job postings because they’ve been hand-selected by people who know your small business’s objectives and culture. Before they refer someone, your employees essentially do some of the initial screening for you by figuring out who in their network has the right credentials and work ethic; nobody wants to damage his or her own reputation by endorsing a slouch.

Develop relationships: Let those in your professional network know your hiring needs; they may be able to pinpoint appropriate individuals looking for a job. Similarly, consider partnering with professional associations or local colleges. They can connect you to people who are developing the specialized skills you require and would welcome internship or employment opportunities.

Get to the core: Finally, realize that “perfect” candidates rarely exist (and likely not at the price you’re willing to pay). Instead of creating a massive wish list, craft a job posting focused on critical requirements. Specifics discourage random job hunters from applying and increase the likelihood of a relevant applicant pool. In the process, you’ll develop a clearer picture of what the position truly entails. For instance, you might conclude that professional editing experience is nice but that an otherwise stellar candidate with an eye for detail could be trained in this skill.

Then, make it simple for candidates to learn about your small business. A strong career page on your website can save you filtering time by helping prospective applicants self-select. After all, employers aren’t the only ones hoping to discover a perfect match.

Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

7 Ways to Help Employees Achieve Work-Life Balance

September 23rd, 2016 Comments off
work life balance

Why should you care if your employees have a healthy work-life balance? Because a healthy work-life balance among employees can benefit your small business – in more ways than one. Research has shown that shown that employees who feel they have a healthy work-life balance are more productive, more satisfied in their jobs (which increases retention) and healthier (which lowers medical costs and absenteeism). There’s another benefit, too: Companies that provide a healthy work-life balance are also more attractive to job seekers, making it easier to attract and recruit excellent employees.

Here are seven ways you can help your employees achieve a better work-life balance – and be happier, healthier (and more productive) employees as a result.

  1. Set the example. Employees model their behavior after their leaders. If you’re not setting the example by creating a healthy work-life balance for yourself, they won’t, either. This means leaving the office at a reasonable hour, taking lunch breaks and actually using your vacation time (see No. 4 below).
    2. Say no to after-hours email. Thanks to smart phones and tablets, we can work from anywhere at any time, making it hard to truly “disconnect” from work – even when we’re not there. Research shows that checking work email at night, however, can actually harm productivity, due to a phenomenon called “telepressure.” Unless there are extenuating circumstances that require you to check in to work at 10 p.m., make a vow to turn your phone off after 6 p.m. – and encourage employees to do the same.
  2. Be open to flexible scheduling. Work with employees to set schedules that better fit their lifestyles without disrupting the business. This may mean letting them come in earlier and leave earlier, or taking Friday afternoons off in exchange for working longer hours on other days.
  3. Offer a work-from-home option. If at all possible, let your employees work remotely once a week or a few times a month, which can save them time commuting, which frees up more time to take care of personal errands.
  4. Encourage employees to use their vacation time. Employees may feel reluctant to take vacation for fear they will appear as if they are slacking off (particularly at a small business, where their absence is more noticeable). But not only is taking time off every once in a while good for employees, it’s good for the business. Employees are likely to come back refreshed and with renewed energy to dive into their work. (In fact, you might even consider going one step further to offer unlimited vacation time.)
  5. Be a friend to pets. Approximately 20 percent of U.S. companies let employees bring their pets to work. Having a pet-friendly office not only eases the burden of looking for a pet-sitter during the day, but it can also lower stress, improve morale and spur creativity – among other benefits of allowing pets at work.
  6. Be vocal. Communicate the importance of work-life balance to your employees. Make sure they know that their time is valuable and that you are committed to helping them achieve a healthy balance. Check in with them on a regular basis to make sure they are satisfied with their work-life balance, and work with them to make any adjustments if they aren’t.

Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.


Does Your Small Business Have a Social Media Policy?

September 21st, 2016 Comments off
Like share follow bubble with clip hanging on the line with blue background.

Small business owners who allow employees to use social media at work stand to benefit from their connections and promotion of the company’s brand. However, smart leaders realize that unflattering, illegal or incorrect information can soon land their businesses in hot water. An ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure when it comes to protecting your small business’s good name, so educate and guide your staff by creating a thoughtful social media policy.

Do’s and Don’ts for Creating a Social Media Policy at Your Small Business

Here are some things to consider when crafting your document on employee social media use:

DO define what company information employees can and cannot share online. Outline what’s considered confidential, and stress that anything remotely in doubt be passed by you before posting.

DON’T make a blanket declaration that staff members cannot say anything negative about your small business or their job on their own pages. Such a statement can be in violation of the National Labor Relations Act, which gives employees the right to discuss their working conditions. Rather, encourage them to bring concerns directly to you instead of venting online.

DO be certain employees know that they are responsible for their online actions. Claiming something “was supposed to be private and only viewed by a few friends” does not get rid of the damage a leak or an inappropriate post could do to your small business, so make consequences clear.

DON’T bury your social media policy in a handbook. Give it to new hires as a separate document, and obtain a signature signaling it has been read and understood. Review the information with staff from time to time to maintain awareness and address questions.

DO spell out standards for posting and conversing on the company’s official accounts. Without the resources for a permanent social media manager, various team members may assume responsibilities at your small business. Be sure anyone representing your company has your permission and is versed in legal issues such as copyright and privacy. Your social media policy also should offer guidance on respectful conduct. The way your employees deal with negative comments and online “troublemakers” impacts your brand’s image. Whether you choose to respond with humor, politely state facts, or ignore the offender, writing out a protocol for how to respond in various situations can provide consistency and ease employee stress over what to do in challenging situations.

DON’T think of your social media policy simply as a list of restrictions. Providing clear guidelines also encourages workers eager to tout your small business understand ways they can use social media to help the company grow. Teach them how to properly comment on blogs or boost excitement for a new product on their own channels, and you’ll create an army of powerful brand ambassadors.


Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

5 Reasons to Rethink Banning Social Media at Work

September 19th, 2016 Comments off
Diversity Friends Connection Global Communication Concept

Think allowing employees to use social media at work is a recipe for disaster? Before turning your small business into a Facebook-free zone, consider these possible benefits the company might reap by allowing workers to stay connected:

Increased productivity: People need short breaks during the workday to maintain energy and focus. One team member may enjoy grabbing a cup of coffee between tasks, while another may prefer checking Twitter. In either case, the brief respite can help them return to work refreshed – giving you a small business of happier, more engaged employees capable of greater output.

Improved relations: Allowing usage of social media demonstrates that you view employees as professionals capable of monitoring their own behavior. The respect shown to your staff is likely to be repaid with greater loyalty and commitment to helping your small business succeed.

Better use of your time: Small business owners are too busy to add “policing social media” to their list of responsibilities. If you impose a ban, employees who really want to check Facebook will switch screens when you come near or sneak out to look at it on their phone. A better strategy is to set work goals for each person. If objectives are met consistently, don’t worry about time spent on social media. But if results are lacking, speak with the offender one-on-one about time-wasters that may be impeding productivity.

Free publicity: Did you know that your employees likely have a 10-times larger social media following than the company itself? When they share pictures of your staff Halloween party or write about the interesting conference they attended, those in their network become more familiar with your small business. Further introduce their acquaintances to your brand by telling your social media enthusiasts that you whole-heartedly support sharing articles from the corporate site. Readers likely will look more favorably on information coming from an employee than the same message presented through direct marketing.

Recruitment tool: Great employees tend to know other hard-working, talented people. Hearing first-hand about your amazing workplace may encourage them to apply. Likewise, your company’s employment brand grows through your employees’ actions, so encourage them to identify where they work. When a staff member writes a thought-provoking post on LinkedIn or earns a reputation as a leader of an online group, your small business gains respect and exposure. And if your employees feels comfortable doing so, they might even give members of their online networks a heads-up when a job opening arises at your small business – adding a valuable new layer to your recruitment efforts.

Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

7 Ways to Make Philanthropy a Part of Your Small Business

September 16th, 2016 Comments off
Happy volunteers in the park on a sunny day

Small business employers who give back to the community are not only doing good for others, they are benefiting their businesses as well. Not only does volunteering and charitable giving help to foster a sense of community and collaboration among your workers, it gives them a sense of purpose, which increases morale and helps with retention. Having a business that gives back also appeals to clients who want to partner with socially responsible organizations. Creating a culture of philanthropy could also give you a competitive edge when it comes to attracting millennials – as both employees and customers.

As a small business, you may not have the resources to give generous charitable donations, but there are other ways you can give back and make an impact on the community around you. Consider these possibilities:

  1. Food/clothing/book drives: Set up bins where workers can drop off non-perishable food items, clothing, books, electronics and other resources for a local homeless shelter, school, library, community center or salvation army store.
  2. Fun run participation: Keep an eye out for local races, fun runs, walk-a-thons or similar events that are raising money for certain causes, then organize a company team to participate. Not only will it promote a sense of goodwill, it will also help with team-building and promote a healthy lifestyle (which also has been shown to benefit business).
  3. Volunteering with a local organization: In addition to fostering teamwork, organizing a company volunteer day takes employees outside of their typical work environment, which can spur creativity and innovation, research shows. Not sure where to start? A site like volunteermatch.com can help you identify local charities in need of help. Or schedule an outing with Habitat for Humanity or the local food kitchen.
  4. Team sponsorship: Do something good for the community while also promoting your business by sponsoring a local little league team or intramural sports league team. In exchange for your business covering the cost of uniforms and league fees, you might see your company’s logo on team uniforms or park banners.
  5. Paid time off to volunteer: Many companies offer employees a certain amount of hours of paid time off to use toward volunteer work. This requires absolutely no planning on your end, and employees will appreciate the chance to give back — in a way that is meaningful to them and works for their own schedules — without having to worry about “making up” for the time away from the office.
  6. Office contests: Creating a little friendly competition at the office not only boosts morale, it enables employees to take a break from the daily grind and blow off some steam, so when they do go back to work, they’ll be re-energized. Add a philanthropic element by making the prize money toward the winner’s favorite charity.
  7. Employees’ choice: Your employees will be that much more invested and feel more connected when the cause is meaningful to them on a personal level. Do a survey to see where your employees most want to make an impact and start there.

Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

How to Turn Your Small Business Employees Into Entrepreneurs

September 14th, 2016 Comments off
Young business lady is thinking about spreading her business

You might be your small business’s owner, but you shouldn’t be its only entrepreneur. When your employees think and act like entrepreneurs as well, the entire company benefits. A staff-wide focus on innovation, curiosity and thinking outside the box boosts everyone’s morale and engagement – and can lead your company to new heights. Fostering that entrepreneurial spirit can be an awesome retention tool as well – by providing workers the challenge they crave and fulfilling their desire to make a difference.

Creating a team of entrepreneurs starts with you. Consider the following ways to help employees at your small business develop that pioneering mindset.

Encourage Questioning

A small business will not grow without a consistent desire to improve. Employees who (respectfully) challenge the notion of business as usual should be applauded for their efforts rather than labeled as troublemakers. Lead by example by treating nothing as off limits for evaluation. Solicit responses to questions that ask “Why do we do something this way?” or “How can we do this better?” Soon, your whole team will be on alert for opportunities to make business-enhancing changes.

Embrace the Unknown

By nature of the setup, small business employees oftentimes must be trailblazers. They may need to wear unfamiliar hats or find ways to do more with less. Encourage these ventures into uncharted territory by reminding employees of past successes, providing them assistance as needed, and reassuring them that perfection isn’t expected. These efforts will help your employees become more comfortable with taking risks and challenging the status quo.

Promote Accountability

When problems arise, entrepreneurs can’t blame others. Instead, they must say, “I will find a way.” Expect the same behavior from everyone on your team, and you’ll soon create a workplace of creative problem-solvers empowered to take responsibility for their actions.

Surrender Some Control

Got an employee with a passion project? Let him or her run with it. The worker will be energized by the chance to try it out, and your small business may reap great benefits from its results.

Host an innovation day

Day-to-day concerns often leave small business staff members with little time for reflection. Break routine occasionally to brainstorm ways to make the company better. You might present a problem and see what ideas people suggest as solutions. Or you might challenge workers to collaborate on creating a plan for improving some aspect of the company, such as customer service or marketing efforts. Whatever the reason, employees will appreciate the chance to contribute ideas and be heard.

Share Profits

Simply put – money talks. Motivate employees to grow your small business’s revenue by offering them shares of the profits. Likewise, present a heap of praise and a cash bonus when an innovative idea saves money. When people see their efforts pay off both literally and figuratively, they’ll be excited to be thought of as part of your entrepreneurial team.


Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

How to Involve Employees in the Hiring Process

September 12th, 2016 Comments off
Businesswoman in a work interview with employers

You depend on your small business team for input on other vital matters, so why not consider involving them in the hiring of new employees? Because they will work alongside new hires, staff members have a vested interest in finding awesome candidates. Likewise, their intimate knowledge of company culture provides them a great sense of who might fit in well at your workplace.

Current employees also can be your best salespeople. Who better to answer questions and sing the merits of joining your establishment than the people with firsthand experience? And when a new hire does come aboard, fellow workers may go to extra lengths to welcome the individual and get him up to speed because they feel responsible.

Collaborative hiring, however, can quickly turn chaotic if not approached correctly. Use these tips for involving employees in the hiring process in a productive manner.

Create a stellar job description.

Solicit input from employees to craft job ads that truly gets to the heart of what it is like to work at your small business. Ask employees with job titles similar to the one being advertised for to help pen the description. Their insight into daily activities and the qualifications necessary to perform them well can attract a promising pool of potential matches.

Keep interviews structured.

Extra eyes and ears can be valuable when interviewing job candidates. Team members may pick up on things you missed or offer different interpretations of responses. This added input can lead to better hiring decisions. You will also get a sense of how well the applicant will fit in with your close-knit staff.

A group interview, however, should not turn into a free for all. Use input from those involved to  develop a list of pertinent questions to ask each candidate. This forethought ensures discussions remain focused, interview length doesn’t become outlandish, and all candidates get judged on the same playing field. Likewise, sticking to predetermined questions reduces the risk of someone inadvertently venturing into illegal territory (age, race, sexuality, etc.) that could land your small business in hot water.

Treat feedback seriously.

Collaborative hiring takes employees away from other tasks they could be doing to help your small business grow, so make sure their involvement is genuinely time well spent. They should not merely be rubber-stamping a decision you have already made. Their thoughts, opinions and concerns should actively play a part in your hiring decision.

Some leaders commit to arriving at a group decision. Others prefer to make the final choice themselves after taking staff input into consideration. If the latter, be prepared to explain your thought process if your decision does not match the preference of the group (or of a passionate individual team member). Hard feelings arise when people feel discounted, especially when you sought their contribution. Let them know how much you value their time, insight and dedication to creating a great place to work.


Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

4 Books Every Small Business Leader Should Read

September 9th, 2016 Comments off
Stack of colorful books, grungy blue background, free copy space Vintage old hardback books on wooden shelf on the deck table, no labels, blank spine. Back to school. Education background

As a leader, I try to read as much as possible and gain new perspectives on business and innovation – and I encourage my team to do the same. Over the years, I’ve read so many books on leadership, influence, management and innovation, and some have made more of an impact than others. The following books speak particularly well to small business leaders, providing fresh insight that will help small business leaders think big – and stay ahead of the competition.

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t
By Jim Collins

If you’ve ever looked at an amazing company and thought, “What do they have that we don’t?” Then this is the book for you. “Good to Great” is a fascinating look at what differentiates a “good” company and a “great” company. Based on a five-year study of nearly 1500 Fortune 500 companies, Good to Great singles out 11 companies – including Wells Fargo, Gillette, and Walgreens — that went from being good companies to truly outstanding organizations, and outlines the characteristics these companies share. The book is not only great storytelling, it provides valuable insight for business leaders and practical advice they can bring to their own organizations.

First, Break All the Rules
By Marcus Buckingham

Think of “First, Break All the Rules” as “From Good to Great: Management Edition.” In this eye-opening book, Marcus Buckingham outlines the qualities that great managers share – and they may surprise you. For instance, contrary to popular belief, great managers do tend to play favorites and don’t necessarily try to help employees overcome weaknesses. These are just a few of the mind-bending findings from Buckingham’s comprehensive research. This book is a must-read for managers at every level, in any industry. It will make you rethink employee engagement and performance management completely.

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
By Chip and Dan Heath

As many small business owners know, even the best ideas fail at times. But what’s even more frustrating than failing is not being able to explain why something failed. In “Made to Stick,” however, authors Chip and Dan Heath attempt to do just that. They look at various success stories to reveal the qualities and factors that help certain ideas come to fruition and thrive. They also look at various techniques people use to increase the odds of success. As entertaining as it is educational, this book will make you look at innovation and leadership in a whole new way, and help you understand how to apply the rules of success to your own organizations.

Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard
By Chip and Dan Heath

It’s a well-known fact that humans are creatures of habit. It’s hard enough to change our own habits, let alone the habits of the people with whom we work. But in “Switch,” Chip and Dan Heath attempt to break down the barriers that make change so seemingly impossible. Using years of scientific research and case studies, the authors shed light on why we are so resistant to change and how to fix it. After reading this book, you’ll have a new understanding of how the human brain works as well as ideas to promote change both within yourself and your organization.

What leadership books would you add to this list? Tweet me at @CBpetej with your suggestions!

Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

Inexpensive Ways to Fund Employee Training and Education

September 7th, 2016 Comments off
training concept with education elements

Small business owners already trying to stretch limited resources may view employee training as expendable. But investing in the continuing education of your team is not only good for morale, it’s good for business. Providing staff with opportunities to learn new things keeps them engaged and demonstrates your commitment to their growth, both of which aid in retention. And the knowledge gained can make them better, more productive workers.

Fortunately, employee training doesn’t have to be expensive. Start by assessing what staff members want to learn and what you feel would benefit your small business. Random training that neither side particularly desires wastes money. Then, consider these low-cost ways to fuel professional development and help team members improve their skill sets.

Explore options.

Vendors, the local chamber of commerce, and even your community library may conduct training sessions on how to use particular products or improve certain skills. Likewise, paying employee membership dues becomes quite cost-effective if professional associations and trade organizations they join offer free or inexpensive seminars, conferences and the like. And with online education becoming more sophisticated by the day, options such as Coursera classes can expand horizons without draining a small business’s budget.

Buddy up with another small business.

Footing the entire bill to bring in an expert instructor may not be possible, but what if you could share the cost with another small business that would like its employees to receive the same training? Combining forces in this manner also might help you qualify for group discounts when signing up for conferences and other educational events. Discuss possibilities with other entrepreneurs in your network. You might even find opportunities to “trade” services, such as your IT expert presenting on the latest cybersecurity measures in exchange for your acquaintance’s social media guru helping your employees learn how to maximize the impact of Twitter.

Start a lunch club.

Gather the team twice a month for a brown-bag (or lunch supplied by you) get-together on a topic of interest. Watch a pertinent TED Talk followed by a discussion on how to apply the lessons learned to your workplace. Or perhaps choose a thought-provoking, business-related book or article for everyone to read beforehand.

Turn your employees into teachers.

When funds are limited but you want multiple people to become versed in a new technique, opt for one staff member to be trained. (Rotate your rep to avoid hurt feelings or charges of favoritism.) This individual can share information with the entire staff upon his return.

Similarly, remember that each person on your team possesses unique strengths. Employees can learn a great deal from each other. Encourage shadowing, mentoring and direct teaching. The instructor will develop pride and confidence, the learner will be challenged, and you will have multi-talented workers with a better understanding of your small business.


Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.


August BLS Report Shows Unemployment Rate Holding Steady

September 2nd, 2016 Comments off
Jobs in Technology

Following two months of better-than-expected job growth, hiring in the U.S. slowed down a bit in August, while the unemployment held steady.

According to the latest BLS employment situation report, released today, private sector employers added 151,000 and the unemployment rate remain unchanged at 4.9 percent. Average hourly earnings increased by 3 cents in August, going to $25.73 – a 2.4 percent increase from a year ago.

The industries that saw the biggest gains were food services, social assistance, professional and technical services, and financial activities. Health care also saw modest gains while mining once again declined.

While August’s job growth number didn’t come anywhere near the number of jobs added in both June (271,000) and July (275,000) and fell short of expectations (economists predicted 180,00 jobs added), it’s worth pointing out that August has long been one of the weakest months for job creation, according to Ryan Detrick of LPL Financial (via the WSJ). Another thing to keep in mind: August marks 78 straight months of job growth, according to NPR.

Whatever industry you are in, it is always important to keep in mind that people are an organization’s greatest asset. So even if you aren’t in a position to hire right now, continue setting your employees up for success and building your talent pipeline for the future.

63,000 Small Business Jobs Added in August, ADP Report Says

August 31st, 2016 Comments off
ADP april 2016

Small businesses created 63,000 private sector jobs in August, according the ADP, which released its monthly Small Business Employment Report today. The number is up slightly from July, when small businesses added 61,000 jobs. As I mentioned last month, these are modest gains, but not uncommon for the summer months.

Looking at company size, very small businesses (those with 1-19 employees) added 24,000 jobs, and other small businesses (those with 20-49 employees) added 38,000 jobs.

Of course, overall numbers do not tell the whole story. Much last in July, small businesses in the service-producing sector had all the gains, while small businesses in the goods-producing sector lost jobs in the month of August. Very small businesses in the goods-producing sector lost 1,000 jobs and other small businesses lost 3,000 jobs. In contract, very small businesses in the service-providing sector added 25,000 jobs, other small businesses added 41,000 jobs.

Now let us compare this report to the report for overall job growth. According to the ADP’s National Employment Report, the U.S. added 177,000 jobs in August – down just slightly from 179,000 jobs added in June. Despite the slight dip, these numbers reflect continued, healthy growth.

These numbers also seem to indicate that that, while employers continue to add jobs, they are being cautious in their efforts – for good reason: It is far too easy to make a costly hiring mistake. Consider these tips for avoiding the most common hiring mistakes.

How to Manage Remote Workers at Your Small Business

August 29th, 2016 Comments off
Remote Workforces

Thanks to technology that enables us to work from anywhere at any time, many small business employers let team members telecommute. The option to work remotely routinely or even occasionally can be a great retention tool as it improves morale by providing employees a better work-life balance. Likewise, this attractive benefit may give your small business a competitive advantage when recruiting new talent. Moreover, by letting workers work remotely, growing your staff becomes easier because you don’t have worry about securing a larger office first.

Managing a remote workforce, however, may prove challenging to those used to monitoring an on-site staff. Without being able to see the work actually being done, leaders fear productivity will suffer. But with a few adjustments to their managerial approach, small business owners may find telecommuting raises their company to a new level of success. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Let results speak for themselves

Build trust by focusing more on what gets accomplished rather than exactly when it gets done. Micromanaging an off-site worker or trying to “catch” someone away from his desk wastes your valuable time and leads to employee resentment. Instead, come up with specific, measurable objectives. Monitor these goals to make sure they are being met consistently and on time. If all is fine, don’t worry that your telecommuter may be doing laundry while finishing an assignment.

Prioritize communication

Regular contact via email, phone, instant message, web conferences and the like enables small business owners and their remote workers to stay connected. Daily check-ins keep both sides up to date and clear on priorities. But also be sure to drive home the point that remote workers can contact you whenever a question arises or they need help. Without being able to see what you are doing, they may fear “interrupting,” which could lead to potential problems not being addressed.

Aim for inclusion

Remote workers who know how what they do off-site fits in to the overall plans for your small business will feel a sense of purpose, be more engaged and, as a result, likely perform better. That said, make sure you keep them in the loop about company activities and progress. Include them in brainstorming sessions, important meetings and staff surveys. And chat with remote workers about non-company matters from time to time to show that you care about them as individuals, not just as workers.

Remember to give feedback

All workers benefit from regular feedback on what they are doing right and how to improve areas of concern. Remote workers will know that you’re monitoring their performance and thinking about their contributions to the company when you routinely offer feedback. In addition to constructive comments, be sure to acknowledge hard work. Your appreciative words help to keep them motivated and assured that “out of sight” (or site, if you will) does not mean “out of mind.”

Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

What to Offer Your Employees When You Can’t Offer a Raise

August 26th, 2016 Comments off
'Ideas ahead' road sign

It’s the question every small business leader dreads: “Can I have a raise?” It’s not that you don’t want to grant your employees a raise — especially when they deserve it — it’s that you simply don’t have the budget right now.

If you’ve ran the numbers and there’s simply no way to offer your employee a raise right now, it is best to be honest with the employee and explain the situation. Your employee will appreciate your honesty and be much more understanding if there’s a valid reason behind it; however, it’s important that you give them an idea of when a raise might be possible and schedule a time to revisit the conversation.

In the meantime, there are other perks you may be able to offer to help fill the compensation gap, ease their expenses and show just how much you value their time and contribution.

One-time bonus. You may not be able to offer a salary bump, but a one-time bonus could provide a temporary boost to both your employee’s paycheck and his or her morale.

Flexible schedule. If you can’t offer a raise, consider giving your employee more flexibility in their schedule to accommodate their lifestyle needs. This might mean letting the employees come in earlier and leave earlier – or vice versa. Another option? Letting the employee work four 10-hour days, as opposed to five 8-hour days.

Telecommuting options. Allowing your employee to work from home once or twice a week would not only save them money spent on transportation costs, it would also give them time back in their day, promoting a better work-life balance.

Half-days. If you can’t offer a whole day off or working remotely isn’t an option, letting the employee work one half-day a week can still help immensely with work/life balance. You’d be amazed how much your employee will appreciate an extra four hours back in their week to take care of personal errands, spend time with family or simply regroup.

Extra paid time off. Granting extra vacation time can be a viable option. Not only will employees benefit from the extra leisure time, your business can benefit, too, as employees return from their time off feeling refreshed and re-energized.

Transportation reimbursement. Between the paying for gas, toll fees and bus and train fares, the price of commuting can add up. Offering your employees money back for their transportation costs can help ease some of their financial burdens.

Tuition reimbursement. Show your employee you are invested in his or her well-being and professional development by offering to foot the bill for ongoing training – in the form of workshops, seminars, conferences, certifications or continuing education classes. Many companies offer partial or full reimbursement for Master’s degrees. Not only will your employee appreciate it, the money you invest will directly benefit your company.

Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

6 Questions That Help You Get the Most Out of Reference Checks

August 24th, 2016 Comments off
Find out more, appearing behind torn brown paper.

Small business owners already pressed for time and eager to fill vacancies may gloss over the process of checking references. But skimping now can result in major repercussions later when a bad hire takes a toll on the company and forces you back to recruiting from square one.

View reference checks as a valuable opportunity rather than as a chore, and go beyond simply verifying titles and dates of employment. Ask the right questions and you may receive insight far beyond what you’ve learned from a resume or even an interview. Here are some good ones to pose when seeking input about candidates for a position at your small business.

Can you describe this person’s daily activities?

The list of responsibilities and tasks given to you by the reference should closely match what you’ve been told by the applicant. If the discrepancy seems large, ask pointed follow-ups such as, “What percentage of the day would you say Ms. Smith spent supervising others?” or “How many hours per week do you think Mr. Jones interacted with your top client?”

What are this person’s strengths and weaknesses?

While you probably posed a similar question to the candidate, getting an outside opinion can add credibility to those interview statements or reveal new food for thought.

Would you trust this person with company money or confidential information?

Intimate quarters at a small business means employees may come into contact with things they wouldn’t likely encounter at larger places. A dishonest worker could cost your company dearly, so make this question a standard when speaking to any references.

How would you describe this person’s ability to relate to others?

This question is especially important when hiring for a small business because staff members work closely together and depend upon one another. Pose it to former bosses and co-workers to gain an understanding of how this applicant might enhance or hinder workplace culture.

How well do you feel this person handles stress?

Members of your small business team undoubtedly will be asked to wear many hats and do more with less. Think twice about hiring someone who has trouble switching gears or earned a reputation as a nervous wreck.

Is there anything else you think I should know about this person?

Finishing with this type of open-ended question creates a chance for the reference to go in any direction. While you might simply receive a polite wrap-up summary, you also could get an unexpected negative or positive answer. Unfavorable feelings or issues of concern might be revealed, or maybe you’ll uncover hidden talents or poignant demonstrations of character. Probe as necessary, but mostly just listen. You might be surprised by what you hear.


Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

4 Features Every Small Business Career Site Needs

August 22nd, 2016 Comments off
Hand pointing at Content word of Website Creation concept on chalkboard

Did you know that the vast majority of job seekers visit a company’s career site during their job search? For small business employers, it’s even more essential to have a dedicated career site — a place where you can educate job seekers about what makes your company unique and why they should work for you — in your own words and on your own terms.

It is not enough, however, to simply have a career site. Your small business needs a career site that makes it stand out from the competition while also providing a great user experience for the job seeker. Consider these essential features for a powerful career site.

An efficient application process.

Have you ever tried to apply to a job at your company from your career site? Is it easy to find information about the company and opportunities quickly and easily? Is the application process short and concise? Does it work from multiple browsers, load quickly and doesn’t have any broken links? This exercise will help you understand what candidates experience – and open your eyes to any holds in the process. Remember the more complicated (and frustrating) the application process is, the less likely candidates are to finish it.

A mobile-optimized site.

Is your career site optimized for mobile devices? If not, you could be losing out on valuable candidates. Considering how pervasive smartphone usage is today (64 percent of Americans own smartphones, according to a 2015 Pew Research Center report, and many use them to access online services), it is more important than ever that you make it easy for candidates to view your jobs via a mobile device. The easier it is for candidates to view and access your career site from their smartphone, the wider your reach. (On the flip side, if your career site is hard to load, contains broken links or isn’t easy to view from a mobile device, candidates are more likely to leave your site – and they may not come back.)

Compelling videos.

Your career site should compel candidate to apply. Use your career site as a platform to show candidates what makes your company a great place to work — and what better way to do it than through video? Nothing is more powerful than video for introducing job seekers to your company and the staff, and to get a feel for what life is truly like at the organization. The added benefit of creating videos is that you can get extra mileage out of them by sharing them across your social media challenges.

An invitation to join your talent network.

Not all job seekers who visit your career site are ready to apply, and that’s okay. In fact, it’s common. So how to you ensure you don’t miss out on potentially great candidates by keeping them interested and engaged? How do you compel them to return and apply when they are read? Many companies set up talent networks — also known as resume databases or talent pipelines — for candidates to join. With just the click of a few buttons, candidates can leave their information and opt in to learn about future opportunities. As a result, you get to build a pipeline of qualified candidates and ensure that, once a candidate is ready to apply, your organization is top of mind.


Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

Why and How to Help Employees Manage Their Finances

August 19th, 2016 Comments off
Man in white shirt and black tie holding an empty wallet.

Think employers have no business worrying about what employees do with their paychecks? While you certainly can’t dictate your small business team’s personal spending, it does make sense to know how your workers fare. Recent CareerBuilder research found that 37 percent of employees at small businesses feel they usually or always live paycheck to paycheck, and 67 percent are in debt. And because financial worries can take a toll on employee morale and one’s ability to focus in the workplace, their problems can become yours, too.

Small business employers may not have the luxury of offering higher salaries or robust retirement packages to help ease the situation; however, you can take steps to aid employees with money management and ease some of their worries. Consider the following.

Treat financial health as part of overall well-being.

Why should “knowing your numbers” be limited to getting blood pressure checked or cholesterol levels tested? Encourage employees to learn about budgeting techniques and debt-reduction measures as part of an overall health initiative to lower stress and improve wellness. Measures might include:

  • Dedicating some staff meetings to viewing webinars on topics such as cash flow management and retirement planning.
  • Recruiting local financial experts for monthly lunchtime talks on insurance, investing, and the like.
  • Setting up an incentive program where people can earn small prizes or extra time off for completing activities like budgeting classes or online financial assessments.

Note that financial wellness programs are just starting to become trendy as a recruitment tool. Adding one to your arsenal may provide your small business with an interesting edge when candidates compare benefits among companies.

Look for money-saving opportunities.

Small businesses already tend to operate on a “make every penny count” mentality, so why not extend this frame of mind to personal finances? Brainstorm with your staff on what measures might be taken to put a little extra cash in everyone’s wallet. Here are a few starter ideas:

  • Relaxing the dress code to save on clothing and dry cleaning expenses.
  • Examining the possibility of carpools.
  • Offering some work-from-home opportunities to cut back on transportation costs.
  • Setting up a box for coupon swapping (put in ones you won’t use and take those you like).
  • Maintaining an in-office beverage station to reduce the number of costly coffee runs.
  • Discussing ways to celebrate birthdays, holidays and other celebratory occasions at the office in a fun but economical manner.

Honor your role.

Money undoubtedly is a precious commodity at any small business. But your efforts to grow the company should not be at the expense of your employees. Paychecks must be on time every time. Reimburse expenses as quickly as possible so workers don’t incur credit card interest charges. While you may not be able to solve all of your employees’ financial woes, the last thing you should do is contribute to them.


Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.


The Most Common Hiring Mistakes to Avoid

August 17th, 2016 Comments off
red pencil erasing a mistake

As a small business leader, you undoubtedly realize the importance of selecting the right employees to help your company succeed. This pressure to make a good hiring decision can turn the hiring process into a stressful venture. A bad hire can damage your company’s progress and force you to waste valuable time and money recruiting a replacement.

Unfortunately, even the most seasoned business professionals make hiring errors. But being aware of common mistakes such as the following can increase the odds of your next hire being a winner:

Hiring too quickly or too slowly

When you know that your small business needs workers immediately in order to keep up with growing demands or to fill vacancies, standards have a way of falling. But hiring based on availability over talent can end up haunting you down the line. Likewise, don’t be tempted to skip steps such as performing background and reference checks, conducting multiple interviews, and probing deeply into qualifications.

On the flipside, some leaders take way too long to hire anyone. Small business owners can be particularly prone to this problem. With such a limited staff, they feel they must choose the “perfect” person. While searching for a great match is necessary, endlessly holding out for an ideal applicant who may or may not exist can stifle the company’s productivity.

Creating a hasty job description

Finding the talent you want starts with knowing what you want. Create a job posting that outlines desired qualifications and experience, presents a clear portrait of what the position entails, and gives an accurate sense of workplace culture. You’ll attract a more focused candidate pool, and you’ll have a solid basis on which to judge applicants.

Neglecting to look beyond the surface

Someone who appears outstanding on paper may lack the soft skills necessary to thrive in the workplace. Similarly, many job hunters are quite adept at making a wonderful first impression with a confident handshake and an arsenal of well-rehearsed responses but don’t have the expertise you truly need. To find a gem for your small business, you’ll need to dig deep. See how job candidates respond to real-life scenarios. Hit them with some unconventional questions or a problem to solve. Look for reasons not to hire someone who initially strikes you as awesome. If you can’t find any, you’ve probably discovered your next employee.

Failing to involve your team

The ultimate decision rests on your shoulders, but seeking input from others can help you spot potential problems you may have missed. This additional feedback can be especially important in a small business environment where staff members interact frequently and heavily depend on one another. Extra examination beforehand may prevent hiring a “bad apple” that can end up spoiling the whole bunch.

Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.


How to Deliver Bad News to Your Employees

August 15th, 2016 Comments off
Bad news from a boss at the meeting

As a small business owner, you hold a double-edged sword when it comes to conveying information. While you get the thrill of announcing a major new client or offering a promotion, you also bear the burden of revealing budget cuts and other negative news items. The family-like atmosphere of your workplace can make communicating bad news particularly hard because of closeness to the people involved.

Part of being a leader, however, is stepping up when issues arise at your small business. A timely, honest conversation will enable both the affected employees and the company itself to move forward. Try these strategies for delivering bad news in a tactful manner:

Stop procrastinating

Fretting over an unpleasant conversation takes away energy from other activities that can grow your small business. Also, biting the bullet now may prevent larger problems down the line. Giving an employee negative feedback early in a project may allow him or her to fix errors before they become unmanageable or jeopardize her job.

Likewise, remember that half-truths and gossip travel fast among a small staff. Your slowness to divulge information employees know should be coming–such as yearly pay increases or the state of a critical account–puts everyone on edge and leaves you with a mess to clean up.

Talk face-to-face

Dump the idea of sending an email. You’ll look cowardly and uncaring. Depending upon who the news affects, invite the individual for a private chat or address the whole group in person. Hard feelings brew when others think you’re being nonchalant or evasive about an important issue.

Avoid fluff

When what you are saying is not a laughing matter, don’t resort to humor as a way to defuse tension. Similarly, beating around the bush increases anxiety levels for all sides and can leave listeners uncertain about your point. Aim for clear, calm statements focused on the problem and the consequence, such as “The client wants the project by Monday, so we will need to put in several hours this weekend” or “Profits have been less than expected for six months, so I cannot offer you a raise at this time.” Putting unpleasant news in context helps people understand why something is happening, which may make the message easier to swallow.

Address the future

After the initial shock of bad news starts to fade, the receiver undoubtedly will start worrying about what comes next. Being prepared to tackle this aspect of the conversation is essential because it shows you care about the impact of what you had to say. Maybe you’ll need to discuss how budget cuts will shift priorities. Perhaps you’ll want to establish a timeframe for revisiting the subject of a denied raise or promotion. Someone you had to dismiss might have questions regarding severance, insurance and recommendations. While you might not have all the answers, willingness to listen to concerns and deal with them to the best of your ability displays respect, which can go a long way in maintaining your reputation with your small business team.


Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.


5 TED Talks Every Small Business Leader Should See

August 12th, 2016 Comments off
Speaker at Business Conference with Public Presentations. Audience at the conference hall. Entrepreneurship club. Rear view. Horisontal composition. Background blur.

Let’s face it: Every small business leader needs a little extra inspiration sometimes. Watching a TED Talk can be a great way to discover new ideas or new ways of thinking in an entertaining and educational format. And because they are relatively short in length, you can watch them when you’re pressed for time or “on the go.” Below are five TED Talks that speak particularly well to small business leaders.

Creative problem-solving in the face of extreme limits

In his captivating TED Talk, innovation strategist Ravi Radjou discusses a concept with which all small business employers are all too familiar: “Doing more with less.” He introduces the term “jugaad,” or frugal innovation, and gives real-life examples of individuals and organizations doing extraordinary things using extraordinarily few resources. He then shares three principles for applying frugal innovation to our own lives to do a lot with just a little.

How to manage for collective creativity

As leaders, it’s not our job to be innovators. It’s our job to set the stage for innovation. That’s just one of the points Harvard Business School management professor Linda Hill makes in her TED Talk. Having spent years studying the world’s most innovative companies, the author of “Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation” discusses how leaders in organizations of any size or industry can create space for innovation. But be warned: It might mean letting go of some of your beliefs about what it means to be a leader.

Got a meeting? Take a walk

Going for a walk isn’t just good exercise, it’s a good business practice, says Nilofer Merchant in her TED Talk. The author of “The New How: Creating Business Solutions Through Creative Strategy” explains how getting out of the “box” of the office and into nature helps promote out-of-the-box thinking. In her short but persuasive talk, she makes the case of turning one-on-one meetings into “walk-and-talk” meetings to introduce fresh ideas along with fresh air.

Why work doesn’t happen at work

Despite the money and resources businesses spend creating a place for people to get work, surprisingly few people actually get work done at the office, 37signals co-founder Jason Fried points out in his TED Talk. People need long stretches of uninterrupted time to get meaningful work done, he says – yet that rarely happens in today’s offices. He draws a comparison between sleep and work, saying that, when people are interrupted too many times during the night, they won’t get quality sleep. Likewise, too many interruptions during the workday result in poor quality work. In his talk, Fried talks about the real distractions at work – which may come as a surprise to some – and offers three ways employers can create workplaces where people actually accomplish meaningful work.

Forget the pecking order at work

What makes some groups more successful than others? That’s the question Margaret Heffernan, a former CEO of five businesses, attempts to answer in her TED Talk. Many company leaders believe the success of their business relies on star performers; however, that might not be true at all. Citing examples from a recent MIT experiment, Heffernan argues that social connectedness and equal treatment among teams is a better indicator of success. Her talk challenges traditional leadership thinking and makes us reconsider how we set our teams up for success.

Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.



5 TED Talks Every Small Business Leader Should See

August 12th, 2016 Comments off
Speaker at Business Conference with Public Presentations. Audience at the conference hall. Entrepreneurship club. Rear view. Horisontal composition. Background blur.

Let’s face it: Every small business leader needs a little extra inspiration sometimes. Watching a TED Talk can be a great way to discover new ideas or new ways of thinking in an entertaining and educational format. And because they are relatively short in length, you can watch them when you’re pressed for time or “on the go.” Below are five TED Talks that speak particularly well to small business leaders.

Creative problem-solving in the face of extreme limits

In his captivating TED Talk, innovation strategist Ravi Radjou discusses a concept with which all small business employers are all too familiar: “Doing more with less.” He introduces the term “jugaad,” or frugal innovation, and gives real-life examples of individuals and organizations doing extraordinary things using extraordinarily few resources. He then shares three principles for applying frugal innovation to our own lives to do a lot with just a little.

How to manage for collective creativity

As leaders, it’s not our job to be innovators. It’s our job to set the stage for innovation. That’s just one of the points Harvard Business School management professor Linda Hill makes in her TED Talk. Having spent years studying the world’s most innovative companies, the author of “Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation” discusses how leaders in organizations of any size or industry can create space for innovation. But be warned: It might mean letting go of some of your beliefs about what it means to be a leader.

Got a meeting? Take a walk

Going for a walk isn’t just good exercise, it’s a good business practice, says Nilofer Merchant in her TED Talk. The author of “The New How: Creating Business Solutions Through Creative Strategy” explains how getting out of the “box” of the office and into nature helps promote out-of-the-box thinking. In her short but persuasive talk, she makes the case of turning one-on-one meetings into “walk-and-talk” meetings to introduce fresh ideas along with fresh air.

Why work doesn’t happen at work

Despite the money and resources businesses spend creating a place for people to get work, surprisingly few people actually get work done at the office, 37signals co-founder Jason Fried points out in his TED Talk. People need long stretches of uninterrupted time to get meaningful work done, he says – yet that rarely happens in today’s offices. He draws a comparison between sleep and work, saying that, when people are interrupted too many times during the night, they won’t get quality sleep. Likewise, too many interruptions during the workday result in poor quality work. In his talk, Fried talks about the real distractions at work – which may come as a surprise to some – and offers three ways employers can create workplaces where people actually accomplish meaningful work.

Forget the pecking order at work

What makes some groups more successful than others? That’s the question Margaret Heffernan, a former CEO of five businesses, attempts to answer in her TED Talk. Many company leaders believe the success of their business relies on star performers; however, that might not be true at all. Citing examples from a recent MIT experiment, Heffernan argues that social connectedness and equal treatment among teams is a better indicator of success. Her talk challenges traditional leadership thinking and makes us reconsider how we set our teams up for success.

Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.



How to Build Your Small Business Employment Brand

August 10th, 2016 Comments off
boost your brand - isolated text in vintage letterpress wood type, stained by color inks, with a cup of coffee

Do you know what your employment brand is? Most companies are aware of their consumer brand – that is, the reputation they have among customers as a product or a service provider; however, far fewer know what their employment brand is – that is, the reputation they have among employees as a place to work. And yet, every company has an employment brand.

Small businesses that pay attention to their employment brands reap big benefits. Companies with a reputation as a great place to work spend less time and money on recruitment because qualified candidates already seek them out. Similarly, happy workers mean lower turnover rates and plenty of employee referrals as they encourage those in their network to come aboard.

When it comes to building an employment brand, however, many small business owners do not know where to start. These tips can help your company promote itself to prospective talent:

Define your message.

Begin by figuring out what makes your workplace special. Maybe it has a family-like atmosphere because staff members really know and support one another. Perhaps the fast-paced nature makes every day exciting. Successful small business leaders know they can’t be everything to everyone, so they focus on determining what sets them apart and what type of workers they’d most like to attract.

Present your brand.

Once you know how you’d like potential employees to see your small business, work on spreading that message consistently through various outlets. Make your message come alive on your website and social media channels by engaging visitors through pictures, videos, and blogs depicting activities at the company. You want people to form a connection and think, “That sounds like a great place for me. I want to know more.” Field inquiries and questions in a timely, personal manner to keep interest alive.

Make applying easy.

Ever try applying to one of your own jobs to test the process? You should. (And do it on mobile devices as well as a desktop to get a full picture.) An estimated 34 percent of candidates who try to apply for jobs don’t complete the application process due to a frustrating application process, according to CareerBuilder internal research. Not only do you lose out on potential talent, the unpleasant experience can affect their actions as consumers, too.

Enlist help from current employees.

Finally, remember that building an employment brand involves those who work for you now as much as those you hope to employ down the line. Employees serve as ambassadors for your small business. Treating them right generates positive (and free!) word-of-mouth marketing that can entice their friends, family, and acquaintances to seek employment or check out your goods and services. Enthusiastic employees also make great company representatives at career fairs and industry conferences as well as on social media because their passion comes across to those they encounter. Few things solidify a small business’s claim to be a great place to work more than employees voluntarily singing its praises.

Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

Hiring Workers with Disabilities: Must-Knows for Small Business Owners

August 8th, 2016 Comments off
Image of the blue painted symbol on a parking spot indicating that the spot is for handicapped only.  The symbol is a blue square, with the international symbol for handicapped parking in the middle of it.  The black asphalt is clean and new.

All people tend to work for the same reasons. Money usually stands at the top of the list, but holding a job also creates pride in one’s skills and satisfaction from contributing to something meaningful. Many individuals with physical or intellectual challenges want these things just like anyone else, but they often find it difficult to secure opportunities. In fact, 2015 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the unemployment rate for persons with a disability to be more than double that of someone without a disability (10.7 percent vs. 5.1 percent – and remember, these are people actively looking for work; many become frustrated and stop trying).

This predicament often generates sympathy from employers, but not action. Already pressed for money and time, small business owners especially may feel they don’t have the resources to take on someone with a disability. The thought pattern goes, “I’m trying to run a business, not a charity.”

What small business leaders need to realize, however, is that bringing aboard workers with disabilities should not be an act of pity. Their services truly can enrich your staff. A few of the benefits other small businesses have discovered include:

Outstanding performance. When you match the right person with the right position, the results can be pure gold. Data shows that 90 percent of workers with disabilities meet or exceed productivity requirements.

Reduced turnover. Loyalty runs extremely high. These workers genuinely appreciate the opportunity to gain financial independence and make a difference.

Increased morale. Their positive attitude and ability to overcome challenges oftentimes inspires fellow employees to work harder and complain less.

Positive brand image. Many clients and prospective employees value workplace diversity. Your small business will develop a reputation for inclusiveness, fairness, and social responsibility.

It’s equally important to clear up misconceptions surrounding employment of people with mental or physical challenges. Of particular concern to many small business owners is the notion of “reasonable accommodations.” The phrase tends to evoke images of expensive equipment or major reconstruction of office space. In reality, the adjustments tend to be much less cumbersome. Information collected by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reveals:

  • One-fifth of accommodations cost nothing (think minor schedule adjustments, scattered breaks, and the like).
  • More than half of them only cost between $1 and $500.
  • The median cost is approximately $240.
  • Some employees already provide their own accommodations in the form of assistive devices or equipment.


You may be able to reduce costs further by taking advantage of tax credits, such as the Small Business Tax Credit, and vocational rehabilitation funding.For more information, check out the U.S. Small Business Administration’s website. Your efforts may pay off in making one of your best hires ever.

Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

Job Growth Exceeds Expectations for Second Month in a Row

August 5th, 2016 Comments off
survey with exceeded expectations checked

For the second month in a row, U.S. job growth exceeded economists’ expectations, according to the latest BLS employment situation report.

According to the report, released today, the U.S. added 255,000 jobs in July, after economists predicted the U.S. would add 180,000 jobs. This is the second time in two months job growth has exceeded expectations – 287,000 new jobs were created in June, up from the 180,000 new jobs expected – and a giant contrast from May’s remarkably weak job job growth (38,000, which would later be revised to a pitiful 11,000).

While the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.9 percent, and the labor force participation rate increased slightly from 62.7 to 62.8 percent – an indication that unemployed individuals who stopped looking for work may be starting to feel more optimistic about their job prospects.

The industry that saw the biggest gains was professional and business services – which has now added more than half a million jobs over the last year.

Average hourly earnings also increased this month, going up 8 cents to $25.69 per hour – a 2.6 percent increase from a year ago.

While month-to-month changes aren’t as significant as changes over a longer term, it is important to celebrate these small wins. It’s no secret that small businesses contribute greatly to the health of the economy, so I urge you to keep up the good work and keep building your talent pipelines, hiring the right people and setting your employees up for success – after all, their success is your success.

Small Businesses Added 61,000 Jobs in July, According to ADP

August 3rd, 2016 Comments off
Circling a career opportunity that wants motivated individuals. Shot with very narrow DOF.

The ADP released its July 2016 Small Business Employment Report today, which shows that small businesses added 61,000 jobs in the month of June. While these are modest gains, and significantly lower than the 95,000 jobs added in June and 76,000 jobs added in May, it is not unusual for businesses to go through a bit of a “summer slump” when it comes to hiring.

Looking at company size, very small businesses (those with 1-19 employees) added 22,000 jobs, and other small businesses (those with 20-49 employees) added 39,000 jobs.

Some sectors fared better than others last month. Small businesses in the goods-producing sector actually lost jobs – 3,000, to be exact (2,000 among very small businesses, and 1,000 a month other small businesses). Meanwhile, those in the service service-providing sector added 64,000 jobs (24,000 in very small businesses and 40,000 in other small businesses).

The report is brighter for overall job growth, however. While small businesses added fewer jobs, overall (nonfarm) job growth exceeded last month’s numbers. The U.S. added 179,000 jobs in July – 7,000 more jobs than in June. These numbers reflect continued, healthy growth.

And according to CareerBuilder’s Small Business Midyear forecast, employers will continue to fill jobs if at a more modest pace than last year. Whether you are actively hiring or maintaining staff size for the moment, it’s important to keep collecting resumes and keeping track of interested candidates. Why? Consider these four big benefits to building your talent pipeline.

3 Ways to Help Employees Manage Their Time Better

August 1st, 2016 Comments off
businesswoman is very multitasking

In a small business, every minute counts. A limited-size staff often must perform the same duties as a larger team, so finding ways to save time can contribute greatly to company success. Some of your employees likely have become quite proficient at time management techniques during their careers. Others, however, might require assistance. Fortunately, time management is a competency one can develop just like any other business skill. Here are some tips to help your employees better manage their time:

Set priorities together

Workers who tend to a variety of tasks – meaning probably everyone at your small business — must be able to rank the importance of each. Encourage employees to develop a daily to-do list, starting with the most critical items at the top and ending with less pressing matters. Since determining the order can be difficult when so much needs to be done, review the list together to confirm agreement.

Insist on a planner

Virtually every great manager of time constructs a schedule. Let employees choose a modern app or a good old-fashioned appointment book, whichever works for them. Then, teach them how to assign a time frame to every individual task and enter it in their calendar. Break big projects into manageable pieces. Be sure to include breaks, lunch, meetings, and other regular commitments. Even schedule a time to schedule!

As for those pesky interruptions that throw off the best laid-plans of mice and men, attempt to schedule those too with this novel approach: office hours. A preplanned block of time in which a worker expects people to drop by can cut down greatly on disturbances during other parts of the day. Fellow employees also benefit because they can adjust their own schedules accordingly instead of trying to “catch” someone.

Sharpen estimation skills

Figuring out how long to allow for each task can be the hardest part of time management. In many small businesses, employees eager to help the company grow can greatly overestimate how much they can accomplish in a day. Similarly, they often budget time based on ideal conditions (no traffic, all supplies already on hand, etc.) or fail to take into account mundane (but time-consuming) tasks such as set up and clean up.

To get a clear picture of how long tasks really take, encourage employees to track their time for at least a week and then review the data with you. Stress the need for accurate measurements, not fudging to look impressive. A log of each activity and the length of time spent provides valuable insight that can be used in future planning. Someone may think he or she is only spending a half hour whipping up a PowerPoint when the clock actually registers closer to an hour. Likewise, no sense kidding oneself that the 10-minute daily check-in with a client doesn’t always run 20 minutes.

Perfect budgeting doesn’t happen often. But armed with this realistic information, odds increase that employees will be able to create a more efficient schedule – and that’s definitely time well spent!

Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

How to Recover From a Bad Hire at Your Small Business

July 29th, 2016 Comments off

As a small business owner, you undoubtedly realize the importance of every new worker to your limited-size team. Finding out you made a bad hire – someone who lacks the ability or motivation to perform up to par, or fails to fit with company culture – can feel devastating. Instead of dwelling on regret, however, leaders must focus on recovery in order to curb the damage. Right the ship at your small business with these actions:

Figure out the root of the problem.

Pinpoint why this person isn’t working out. Does the individual truly lack the skills necessary to hold the position? Is his or her personality or work ethic annoying others or putting a damper on productivity? Might a personal issue be responsible for tardiness or distraction?

Once you identify the culprit through observation and/or a serious heart-to-heart with the new hire, think about solutions. Perhaps supplementary training, additional support from you, or assistance from a mentor could prove beneficial. Maybe there’s another open position within the company that might be a better fit for the person.

Do what needs to be done.

If conditions do not improve, dismissal may be the best option. Small business leaders have too much on their plates already to constantly hold an employee’s hand, and other team members quickly tire of spending their valuable time making up for someone else’s shortcomings. Yes, it hurts to admit that you made a hiring mistake, but it will be even more painful to watch your small business suffer just because you hate to fire someone. Data shows that the average cost of a bad hire can often be five times that person’s annual salary. Cut your losses now and get back to growing your small business.

Think before rehiring.

Treating the situation as a learning experience won’t ease all the sting, but it can set you up to make better decisions in the future. Try determining what went wrong. Out of eagerness to fill the position quickly, maybe you failed to check references or to really hash out the qualifications needed for success. Perhaps modifying interview questions or requiring actual demonstration of certain skills could provide greater insight before making a hiring decision.

Because every small business has its own vibe, examining existing staff can be beneficial. Look at successful people on your team for clues as to the best traits and talents for your workplace. Then seek out these attributes in future employees. Also, consider soliciting input from your employees. Working so close with one another, staff members may be able offer unique perspective on what went wrong with this hire and how a better match might be made the next time around.

Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

5 Ways to Set Your Small Business Employees Up for Success

July 27th, 2016 Comments off
Silhouette of a successful woman or girl arms raised celebrating at sunrise or sunset in front of the New York City Skyline

Smart business owners know that employees rank high on any company’s list of assets. Their productivity and ingenuity can be the critical difference between reaching new heights and closing up shop. With a limited number of team members, small businesses especially must take steps to maximize every staff member’s potential to achieve. Consider the following five actions to set workers – and, in turn, your small company – up for success:

Promote education. Workplaces that value lifelong learning tend to thrive. Employees remain engaged when given opportunities to develop. Their new skill sets add to your small business’s arsenal – a big plus in an environment where people need to wear many hats. Measures such as sending staff members to conferences or footing the bill for a class also can be competitive retention tools. Employees see that the company invests in them, which instills a sense of loyalty and reduces turnover.

Discuss goals. Continue demonstrating your investment in your employees by regularly meeting with them to talk about objectives. Such conversations stir thought about how the person’s present role affects the success of the entire company and how his or her positon could grow in the future to correspond with career aspirations. Studies show that writing down specific goals and steps to achieve them increases the likelihood of attainment, so put pen to paper to keep both of you focused.

Provide do-able challenges. While ambitious employees may be eager to tackle tougher problems, throwing them into the deep end before they’ve mastered shallower waters often leads to frustration. Instead, maintain a positive, can-do atmosphere by continually giving employees attainable challenges. Every success breeds confidence and builds the skills necessary for tougher responsibilities.

Offer support. A small business owner often gets pulled in so many directions that sometimes only the squeaky wheel gets attention. Such a set-up, however, can have dire repercussions. Employees need consistent, timely feedback in order to perform their very best. Regular check-ins catch minor mistakes before they become major headaches. Likewise, your communication reduces stress by taking the guesswork out of which activities to prioritize. This interaction becomes especially important with new hires to get them up to speed quickly and feel at ease. Assigning a veteran team member to act as a mentor can further boost comfort levels by providing an additional source of support.

Encourage downtime. Lastly, remember the importance of sufficient rest. You’ll spark creativity, increase output, and develop an energetic atmosphere conducive to success when employees receive scheduled breaks, “real” lunch hours, and time away from the office.

4 Big Reasons Small Business Need To Build Their Talent Pipelines

July 25th, 2016 Comments off
group of people talking in social network

Sometimes during a recruitment effort, an employer has the good fortune of receiving a bounty of stellar resumes. Unfortunately, the hiring situation at a small business may be such that only one person can join the team at the present time. Discarding the rest of the applications, however, could be a huge mistake. Instead, these candidates can form the basis of a valuable talent pipeline.

A talent pipeline (sometimes referred to as a talent network) consists of qualified people who have shown interest in your company and might make great future additions to your staff. Keeping them on your radar can save your small business time, money, and probably sanity in a variety of ways:

You won’t need to reinvent the wheel. Who wants to go back to square one when a hiring need arises? Writing a job description, posting an ad, waiting for applications to come in, and sorting through resumes wastes precious hours a small business owner could spend on other critical activities. Developing a pool of worthy talent to turn to can be much more efficient.

You can forgo recruiters (and their cost). Staffing agencies sort through applications to bring promising candidates to your attention. Holding on to the information for job seekers who already made it through the prequalification stage serves this same purpose. If your business uses an applicant tracking system (ATS) for initial screening, take full advantage of this technology to keep track of candidates you didn’t hire now but might want to in the future.

You’ll be ready in a pinch. Few things throw a small business for a loop as much as when a team member leaves unexpectedly. Every hand counts on a small staff, so pressure mounts to fill the vacancy quickly and restore productivity. This urgency can lead to hiring mistakes. Having a talent pipeline from which to immediately draw qualified candidates reduces this risk.

You’ll position yourself to grow. Lastly, smart leaders always think about the future, and workforce planning ranks among the top considerations. Regularly communicate with members of your talent pipeline through email, social media, and other outlets to keep your small business and its activities top of mind. Then, when the time comes for expansion, you’ll be connected with people who already have expressed interest in being a part of your company. While some may have found job satisfaction elsewhere since the initial application, others still may be actively or passively looking for new employment. Either way, you’ll increase brand recognition, and your efforts may pay off with an easy, excellent hire.

4 Big Reasons Small Business Need To Build Their Talent Pipelines

July 25th, 2016 Comments off
group of people talking in social network

Sometimes during a recruitment effort, an employer has the good fortune of receiving a bounty of stellar resumes. Unfortunately, the hiring situation at a small business may be such that only one person can join the team at the present time. Discarding the rest of the applications, however, could be a huge mistake. Instead, these candidates can form the basis of a valuable talent pipeline.

A talent pipeline (sometimes referred to as a talent network) consists of qualified people who have shown interest in your company and might make great future additions to your staff. Keeping them on your radar can save your small business time, money, and probably sanity in a variety of ways:

You won’t need to reinvent the wheel. Who wants to go back to square one when a hiring need arises? Writing a job description, posting an ad, waiting for applications to come in, and sorting through resumes wastes precious hours a small business owner could spend on other critical activities. Developing a pool of worthy talent to turn to can be much more efficient.

You can forgo recruiters (and their cost). Staffing agencies sort through applications to bring promising candidates to your attention. Holding on to the information for job seekers who already made it through the prequalification stage serves this same purpose. If your business uses an applicant tracking system (ATS) for initial screening, take full advantage of this technology to keep track of candidates you didn’t hire now but might want to in the future.

You’ll be ready in a pinch. Few things throw a small business for a loop as much as when a team member leaves unexpectedly. Every hand counts on a small staff, so pressure mounts to fill the vacancy quickly and restore productivity. This urgency can lead to hiring mistakes. Having a talent pipeline from which to immediately draw qualified candidates reduces this risk.

You’ll position yourself to grow. Lastly, smart leaders always think about the future, and workforce planning ranks among the top considerations. Regularly communicate with members of your talent pipeline through email, social media, and other outlets to keep your small business and its activities top of mind. Then, when the time comes for expansion, you’ll be connected with people who already have expressed interest in being a part of your company. While some may have found job satisfaction elsewhere since the initial application, others still may be actively or passively looking for new employment. Either way, you’ll increase brand recognition, and your efforts may pay off with an easy, excellent hire.

5 Essential Steps to Building Your Small Business Employee Referral Program

July 22nd, 2016 Comments off
Two handsome men shaking hands with smile while sitting on the couch at office with their coworkers

Recruiting commonly involves two things small businesses tend to lack: time and money. Making the process more efficient saves those valuable resources for other efforts to grow the company. An employee referral program does this by utilizing an existing asset – current staff.

Asking team members to think about which people in their networks might make a good addition to the company generates a candidate pool. These applicants tend to be a better match for your needs than job posting applicants because they’ve been hand-selected by people who know your company (and won’t risk their reputation by recommending unqualified candidates).

As an added benefit, workers hired in this manner tend to have a lower turnover rate. Perhaps that’s because, having someone they know already at the company, it takes less time for these new hires to feel comfortable and get up to speed. They also probably received the inside scoop on your small business before accepting the position, making unforeseen obstacles to job satisfaction less likely to arise.

Ready to find your next great team member through an employee referral? Follow these steps to create a system that generates excitement and positive results.

  1. Make it worth their effort. You may garner a potential candidate or two just by asking your staff for ideas, but you’ll get a much better response by offering an incentive. Hold out carrots such as cash, extra vacation days, gift cards, or even a fancy new office chair for employees who recommend someone whom you eventually hire and who stays with the company for a specific period.
  2. Spell out the process. Be clear about the terms of the system and when rewards will be presented to avoid any confusion. Similarly, let staff members know how to present potential candidates. For instance, is it sufficient for the prospect to state the referral on his cover letter, or should you hand-deliver the applicant’s resume? Create a protocol staff members can follow easily.
  3. Communicate your needs. Provide as much detail about the position as possible, including a job title and description. This information helps staff members zero in on the best matches in their network and enables them to present the prospective applicant with a clearer picture of the opportunity.
  4. Value each referral. While you ultimately may choose not to hire someone recommended by a staff member, the person’s application should be taken seriously out of respect for your employee and the effort he or she made to help the company. If another candidate proves a better fit, let both the employee and the candidate know. Saying nothing can lead to hard feelings.
  5. Publicize it. Lastly, don’t just mention the employee referral system once at a meeting and then drop the issue. Bringing it up routinely, perhaps via email reminders or in a newsletter, keeps the program top of mind. Talk directly to your best performers; skilled workers tend to know others with similar qualifications. And make a big deal when employees receive their rewards; it lets others know the system is going strong and encourages their participation.

The Art of Giving Employee Feedback

July 20th, 2016 Comments off
Hr manager asking questions to female candidate

Having a small staff promotes close relationships between managers and employees. People tend to get to know each other well both professionally and personally, and a family-like camaraderie may fill the workplace. While such bonds provide a great sense of being a team, they can make delivering criticism difficult. Leaders may put off having tough (but necessary) conversations because they don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

Inaction, however, won’t correct mistakes and foster the stellar performances necessary to help your small business grow. And believe it or not, staying silent can even hurt the relationships you intended to protect. When they don’t receive feedback, employees get anxious about their performance and question how you “truly” feel. They value your input – as long as it gets delivered correctly. Take these measures to respectfully and effectively offer feedback:

Stay factual and specific. Talks that sound like an attack on character encourage defensiveness and deaf ears. Instead, present verifiable statements without making judgements. Saying “The report was not on my desk by 9 a.m.” will start a more level-headed conversation than opening with “Are you out to anger clients by not getting your work done on time?” Likewise, without specific examples, workers may not understand exactly what’s bothering you and what measures they can take to right the ship.

Be timely. Studies show that most employees want to get feedback in real time, as soon as possible following the event that inspired it. Wait too long and risk the person not even remembering the incident in question and instead wondering why you’re dredging up the past. Postponing discussion until you’re too irritated to hold your tongue any longer also is a bad idea because you’ll likely come off as angry and out to punish rather than as constructive. Above all, why leave a problem unfixed when your small business depends on everyone’s best efforts?

Use discretion. Nobody wants to be embarrassed in front of peers. Don’t let the closeness of your staff lure you into thinking you can say whatever you want whenever you want. Word travels quickly in small environments, so address issues privately behind closed doors.

Encourage conversation. After sharing your concerns, encourage the receiver to share his or her perspective, ask questions, seek clarification, and develop an action plan. The individual will see your conversation less as a personal attack and more as a healthy discussion on how to improve the business.

Give positive feedback too. Don’t skimp in this area! Regularly letting workers know exactly what they’re doing right boosts morale, raises confidence, and increases the likelihood of great behaviors being replicated. Perhaps best of all, it also softens the blow when you do need to offer constructive criticism.

Want more small business leadership advice and resources? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

Why Small Businesses Should Consider Unlimited Vacation Time

July 18th, 2016 Comments off
Out of office written on a card at the desk

Unlimited vacation time sounds like a worker’s dream and an employer’s nightmare. What company in its right mind would implement a policy where staff members can take off however much time they want? Nothing would get done, and the business would go belly up, right?

Tell that to Netflix, LinkedIn, Virgin Group, Grubhub, Grant Thornton, and others that offer unlimited time off as part of their benefits packages.

Despite the reasonable fear of things getting out of control, studies have shown employees do not abuse the system. In fact, simply knowing they can take unlimited time off provides them with more job satisfaction.

Likewise, don’t dismiss the issue as something only large companies should consider. Such an arrangement has plenty of potential benefits for a small business. Here are a few things you stand to gain:

You’ll look cutting-edge. Only 2 percent of companies currently offer unlimited paid time off, though the figure is slowly-but-surely growing. Adopting such a plan now can help brand your small business as progressive.

You’ll attract talent. Unlimited paid time off can be a great recruiting tool that distinguishes you from competitors, including many bigger firms that can offer higher starting salaries. Millennials seem especially drawn to flexible arrangements, so this setup can be an effective way to gain attention from this in-demand age group. On the opposite end, seasoned workers also can be lured because they won’t have to work their way up again on vacation allotment if they leave their present employer to come work for you.

You’ll do less bookkeeping. While not a primary reason for setting up an unlimited time off policy, such a system does reduce paperwork by no longer tracking days used and carryover. One less administrative task means more time available to grow your small business. Many companies also like that they don’t have to worry about paying out unused days if an employee leaves. Such a lump sum can be difficult for a small business to handle, especially if the departure was unexpected.

You’ll build a better staff. Workers tend to thrive in environments that encourage work-life balance. They truly appreciate the opportunity to take their dream tour of Europe or spend time with an ailing parent. In return, their loyalty grows, which can help prevent costly turnover. Employers often notice workers collaborating with each other to ensure vacation plans do not overlap and the office remains productive. Likewise, leaders report individuals commonly putting forth extra effort before and after their absences. Undoubtedly, much of this behavior stems from professionalism, the desire not to be labeled a “slacker,” and fear of losing the benefit. However, don’t discount the inherent value of time off itself. Enabling workers a chance to refresh and recharge outside of the workplace can reduce stress, spark creativity, and boost energy – all of which can help you get the most out of your small team.

Want more small business leadership advice and resources? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

Categories: industry news Tags:

How to Be Candid at Work – Without Being Disrespectful

July 13th, 2016 Comments off
Dictionary definition of the word Respect

All leaders depend on feedback from staff to help the company grow, but small business owners especially need this input. With all the hats they wear and different directions they get pulled, important matters may slip through the cracks if not specifically drawn to their attention. Thus, it becomes vital to create an environment where people feel free to bring things up – even issues or problems the boss may dislike.

Liberty to be frank, however, should not be mistaken for sanctioning brutal honesty. Mean-spirited conversations cause hurt feelings, zap morale, and hinder resolution. Make sure your employees know the difference between candor and disrespect. Sharing these tips can get everyone on the same page.

Focus on the good of the company. The aim of feedback should be finding ways to solve problems or improve situations in order to build a better business. At no point should the objective be to punish others or get them in trouble.

Stay factual. Favor verifiable statements over judgments. Stating “We received ten customer complaints this week” promotes thoughtful investigation. Saying “I knew your changes to the return policy were going to cause our phones to ring off the hook” encourages defensiveness.

Assume best intentions. Operate under the belief that every person in the workplace wants to do a good job. Extending this professional courtesy leads to non-accusatory conversations and reduces the risk of personal attacks. (And if by chance you have the facts wrong or spoke before knowing the whole story, you won’t look like a jerk when the truth comes to light.) Instead of mocking someone’s idea as “dumb,” state your concern in a manner that recognizes effort, such as “I think it’s great that you’re tackling the issue of X, but I worry that Y might happen if we approach it that way.”

Get to the point. Sugar-coating raises anxiety and often fails because your purpose gets muddled. Being polite but succinct shows others on your small business team that you value their time and realize that they are professionals who can handle the truth when it’s presented properly. “I found a number in your report that seems off” may not be what someone wants to hear, but she’ll appreciate quickly knowing.

Be considerate. Candor does not mean disregarding other people’s feelings. Avoid saying things you’ll later regret by taking a moment to gather your thoughts and composure before presenting negative feedback. Keep language and tone civil. Likewise, avoid embarrassing someone in front of others; address concerns behind closed doors. Leaders should be treated to this courtesy also, meaning they shouldn’t be blind-sided during a meeting or subject to public belittling. If a subject of group importance needs to be addressed, give everyone prior warning.

Don’t kill the messenger. Finally, realize that it requires courage for someone to come forward with unpleasant news. Take the individual’s comments seriously, but not personally, and applaud his efforts to make the company better.

Want more small business leadership advice and resources? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

Small Business Employers Reveal Hiring Plans for Second Half of 2016

July 11th, 2016 Comments off
We Are Hiring Concept

Now that it’s the half point of 2016, it’s a good time to check in and get a pulse on how small business employers and workers are feeling about their plans for the second half of the year.

According to CareerBuilder’s Midyear Job Forecast, nearly half of small business employers plan to hire full-time, permanent staff over the next six months, and more than a quarter plan to hire temporary or contract workers. Meanwhile, nearly 1 in 4 workers at small businesses plan to change jobs in the next six months.

Below are highlights from the survey:

  • 45 percent of small business employers plan to hire full-time, permanent employees in the second half of 2016
  • 30 percent plan to hire part-time employees in the second half of 2016
  • 27 percent plan to hire temporary or contract workers in the second half of 2016
  • 17 percent of small business employers plan to hire interns in the second half of 2016

Starting Salaries

Nearly 2 in 5 small business employers (38 percent) expect to increase starting salaries on job offers in the second half of 2016. One in five (20 percent) plan to increase salaries by 5 percent or more. More than 3 in 4 small business employers (78 percent) say they are willing to negotiate salaries on initial job offers.

Hot Areas for Hiring

Customer service (27 percent), sales (25 percent), information technology (18 percent), production (18 percent), human resources, clinical, business development, marketing, top the list of business functions for which small business employers plan to hire in the second half of 2016.

Hiring in Q2 2016

Thirty-eight percent of small business employers added full-time, permanent headcount in the second quarter. The majority (60 percent) made no change, while 8 percent decreased headcount, and 2 percent were unsure.

Hiring in Q3 2016

Looking ahead, 33 percent of small business employers plan to hire full-time, permanent employees in the third quarter of 2016. The majority (62 percent) anticipate no change, while 7 percent are undecided. Only 6 percent expect to downsize staffs during this time.

Employees Looking Elsewhere

Nearly a quarter of employees at small businesses (24 percent) said they are likely or very likely to change jobs in the second half of 2016. Dissatisfaction with salary, limited opportunities for growth and limited career advancement opportunities topped the reasons employees indicated they planned to change jobs.

Want more small business management advice and resources? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

Categories: industry news Tags:

Better-Than-Expected Job Growth in June, BLS Report Shows

July 8th, 2016 Comments off
Businessman draws a graph rising

After disappointing job growth in May, the U.S. economy got a much-needed boost in June, adding 287,000 jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent employment report – and far surpassing economists’ expectations of between 175,000 and 180,000 jobs.

These numbers are also a giant leap from May’s dismal job numbers, which the BLS originally reported as 38,000 jobs and revised to an even more gloomy 11,000 jobs. April’s numbers were also revised to reflect an uptick from 123,000 jobs created to 144,000.

The industries that saw the biggest growth were leisure and hospitality, health care and social assistance, and financial activities.

Wages increased as well this month, going from $25.59 per hour to $25.61 per hour on average, and showing a 2.6 percent increase from a year ago.

Another number that came as a surprise to some was unemployment, which rose from 4.7 percent to 4.9 percent – slightly higher than economists’ expected 4.8 percent.

Following two months of disappointing (to say the least) job growth, this month’s report provides a much-needed boost to not only the economy, but the morale of business owners everywhere.

As small business owners, your impact is significant. Take a moment to celebrate this report and use it as motivation to keep doing what you’re doing – hire the right people and continue to give them the resources they need to succeed and move your business forward.

Small Business Job Growth Up from Last Month, New ADP Report Shows

July 7th, 2016 Comments off
Development and growth concept. Businessman plan growth and increase of positive indicators in his business.

According to the ADP’s latest Small Business Employment Report, released today, small businesses added 95,000 jobs in June, up from the 76,000 jobs created in May and 93,000 created in April.

Broken down by company size, businesses with 1-19 employees added 50,000 jobs, and businesses with 20-49 employees added 43,000 jobs.

Looking at individual sectors, small businesses in the goods-producing sector produced 8,000 jobs, those in the service-providing sector added 91,000 jobs.

While overall (nonfarm) job growth was a modest 172,000, economists believe this rate is “more than enough” to sustain the low employment rate (which currently stands at 4.7 percent). Indeed, the low unemployment rate may have to do with the slower pace we’ve been seeing. With fewer workers looking for jobs, employers are struggling to find talent to meet their demands.

If you’re struggling to meet growing talent demands on your team, check out these six ways to reach hard-to-find candidates for your small business.

Low-Cost Ways to Engage Your Employees

July 1st, 2016 Comments off
Selfie of the sucessful elegant business team. Selective focus, shallow depth of field.

Employee engagement can be difficult at any time of year, but summer poses particular challenges in most workplaces. Clockwatching may become the activity of choice at your small business as workers count down the minutes until they can putter around in their gardens or fire up the grill. How can you compete with sunshine?

While going to work may never be as fun as basking on the beach, plenty of opportunities exist to make the dog days of summer more pleasant for your employees. Don’t let the fact that your small business lacks the budget to offer big perks like Google or Microsoft keep you from trying creative, low-cost morale boosters that really can make a difference. Consider the following low-cost ways to engage your employees.

Food. Free food is a tried and true pick-me-up, and it still gets almost everyone excited. Whether it comes in the form of a spontaneous treat or a planned event, people love to chow down and get social. Try a weekly potluck where a different staff member picks the theme each time. Bring out the blender for Hump Day smoothies using seasonal fruit. Conduct an old-fashioned ice cream social – you furnish the Breyers, workers bring in toppings. Post a food truck schedule for your neighborhood and encourage chatter about which ones the group may want to try together.

Field Trip. Remember the grade-school excitement before, during, and after an outing? Try a museum (ask if your local museums offer free visitor days) to inspire creativity, bowling to promote friendly competition, or a minor-league baseball game (seats tend to be cheap) simply to enjoy a hot dog in the great outdoors. Similarly, consider volunteering as a group. Cleaning up a park, reading to kids in summer Head Start programs, or contributing labor to a Habitat for Humanity project will satisfy the desire to break routine – with the added benefit of promoting your small business’s name within the community. Schedule activities during work hours so as not to interfere with people’s personal commitments. Unsure what the team would enjoy? Just ask.

Provide Challenges. Lastly, avoid the temptation to give in to the summer slump. Your small business depends on consistently meeting goals in order to grow. Encourage everyone to “kick it up a notch” with a culture that rewards productivity. Offer occasional telecommuting as an option for those who prove they can get work done remotely. Challenge the staff to complete the week’s tasks by noon on Friday so everyone can get an early start on the weekend. (If it’s necessary to keep the office open, some can remain and come in late on Monday instead.) View times when an employee is away on vacation as an opportunity to let another shine. Teaching someone a new task or letting him try a different responsibility bolsters confidence and engagement while increasing the skill level and flexibility of your team. Don’t forget to thank those who rise to the occasion; acknowledgment is the ultimate morale booster in any season.

Want more small business leadership advice and resources? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

Categories: industry news Tags:

How to Have More Productive Office Meetings

June 29th, 2016 Comments off
Business People Meeting Growth Success Target Economic Concept

When CareerBuilder recently surveyed employers as to the biggest productivity killers in the workplace, nearly one in four respondents (24 percent) cited meetings. (Cell phones/texting ranked first, in case you’re wondering.) Useless meetings can take an especially harsh toll on small businesses, where people are already wearing many hats and struggling to make every minute count. Recognizing that time and effort could be better spent on other matters, 17 percent of employers surveyed said they’ve taken action to limit meetings. While this is a great first step, leaders need to focus on getting the most possible out of the meetings they do hold. The following tips can help:

Limit attendance. Before scheduling, ask yourself who really needs to be at the meeting. Few things frustrate busy workers more than feeling like a chair warmer during a discussion that lacks relevancy to their job. Think of it this way:  Five people in a one-hour meeting translates into five work-hours unavailable for other business-growing activities. Gaining back just one or two of those hours can mean a great deal to a small team.

Define the purpose. Finish the statement “The purpose of this meeting is…” If you find yourself struggling to complete the sentence, you probably don’t need one. You can even perform this litmus test before regularly scheduled weekly meetings to judge whether they’re actually a good use of time or simply a sacred cow. Prior to any meeting, everyone invited should receive a short summary of the objectives, an agenda, and pertinent background information. This allows attendees to come in focused and prepared to contribute. Worried that someone (including you) might stray off track? Write the meeting’s purpose on the white board in the room, and let attendees know they can point politely to it any time topics veer off track.

Be conscious of time. Want to minimize tardiness? Be there and ready to go yourself. This shows that you respect everyone’s time and expect others to do the same. Stick to the stated length of the meeting time, as well. Doing so enables team members to correctly formulate their schedule. Going over time could keep workers from fulfilling commitments to customers – something small businesses definitely cannot afford. Still having difficulty keeping meetings from running over? Some leaders swear that requiring everyone to stand the whole time works wonders.

Consider alternatives. Finally, resist making group meetings your default means of communication. Items such as status reports may be just as effective presented via email. Likewise, use the size of your staff to your advantage. While a manager at a large company may not be able to do daily check-ins with each employee, small business leaders oftentimes can forgo group meetings in favor of short, efficient one-on-ones.

Want more small business leadership advice and resources? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

Categories: industry news Tags:

Do You Have a Toxic Work Culture? 4 Telltale Signs

June 24th, 2016 Comments off
tired girl

Any size workplace runs the risk of acquiring a toxic culture. When such an atmosphere permeates a small business, however, the effects can be particularly dangerous. You depend on your close-knit team to function as a harmonious unit. Discord or discontent can spread quickly and impact operations profoundly.

An effective small business owner needs to be alert to infiltration. Unfortunately, clues are not always obvious, and busy leaders are often so tied up with other things they fail to recognize subtleties. Knowing what to look for can be helpful, so take heed of these possible signs of a toxic work culture at your small business before they kill morale and damage your bottom line.

Hushed conversations

Feel an uncomfortable silence take over when you enter a room? Notice certain employees whispering to one another when a co-worker isn’t around? Unless someone’s birthday is next week, secretive discussions tend to spell trouble.

Punching the clock

Speaking of conversations, has your watercooler turned into simply a place to grab a drink? Do employees high-tail out the door each evening and barely utter “hello” in the morning? Is it getting harder to find workers willing to do overtime? Toxic environments discourage camaraderie and promote clockwatching.


If you seem to have the staff doomed to catch every bug going around, perhaps employees have lowered immune systems due to chronic stress. Likewise, an increase in absenteeism may mean workers find it difficult to drag themselves to an unpleasant workplace – or need some time off to look for another job.

Lack of effort

Small businesses thrive when everyone on staff contributes equally. While a decrease in productivity or an increase in error-filled work certainly merits investigation, watch out for these less obvious signs of disengagement:

  • Meetings have become monologues; nobody besides you wants to say anything.
  • New projects bring more sighs than excitement.
  • People seem reluctant to jump in to help a co-worker in need.
  • The phrase “That’s not my job” enters the workplace vocabulary.

Smart bosses take action when they discover the possibility of a toxic work culture. Oftentimes, getting problems out in the open can be a valuable first step. Small businesses have the advantage of being a manageable-sized group that can be gathered together in a room for an air-clearing discussion. Present what you’ve noticed in a thoughtful, yet factual, manner. (Being accusatory will lead to defensiveness or silence.) Encourage people to present their concerns and work together to come up with possible solutions.

Another strategy is to administer regular (annual or semi-annual) employee engagement surveys to get honest feedback from employees on their satisfaction. Keep the surveys anonymous so employees will feel more comfortable being honest and you can get a more accurate read on their engagement level. Try to get as specific answers as possible so you know how to proceed and address any areas of concern.

Finally, consider conducting one-on-one “stay” interviews. This measure of employee satisfaction resembles an “exit” interview – but you get valuable information in enough time to actually do something with it. Ask individuals what they like best and least about the company, how the workplace might be improved, and what might tempt them to leave. You’ll gain insight, and employees will feel they have a voice.

Want more small business management advice and resources? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

Tips for a More Productive Work Day

June 22nd, 2016 Comments off
work smarter reminder on a green sticky note against burlap canvas

People who enjoy wearing many hats often thrive at small businesses. The opportunity to perform a variety of tasks can make for an exciting day. However, this juggling act also can get overwhelming, even for the best employees. They may require assistance on figuring out what to do first and how to get everything done.

As their leader, you can help employees at your small business learn how to work smarter to boost productivity. Try these strategies for getting more accomplished without increasing stress or hours.


Of course, the classic answer to “When do you need this by?” is “Yesterday.” Setting up such an atmosphere, though, leads to panic and confusion over where to focus efforts. Instead, encourage workers to rank what they need to do in order of importance to ensure the most pressing matters are addressed to first. Let them know you’re available to discuss priorities if concerns arise, and view their lists regularly to confirm that you’re all on the same page.


Forget the myth of multi-tasking. People tend to be the most productive, engaged and happy when they concentrate on one thing at a time. Constantly shifting focus wastes mental energy and can lead to errors.

Limit interruptions

Similarly, remember that bothering someone “just for a second” actually causes a much longer delay because the person will need to regroup thoughts before getting back up to speed. Become a good judge of what truly needs to be addressed at the given moment and what could wait until a scheduled check-in or other opportune time (such as before getting back to work after lunch). Set the tone for your small business by avoiding unnecessary disruptions and expecting others to do the same.

When projects call for extra concentration, encourage the use of a “do not disturb” sign that everyone (including management) agrees to respect except in the case of an emergency. To help others know when to return, the person posting the sign should include the time at which she will become available again.

Pick a time to check messages

Technology can zap as much time as it saves, if you let it. Rather than constantly monitoring email messages, schedule blocks of time during the day during which to respond. Inform staff members of your system and urge them to follow suit. Agree that matters requiring immediate attention will be addressed in person or with a phone call.

Take breaks

Finally, recognize the impact relaxation has on overall performance. Take the lead in this area by eating a proper lunch away from your desk or going for an afternoon walk – and maybe even inviting others to join you. Regularly refreshing both body and mind makes great business sense.

Want more small business management advice and resources? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.


Categories: industry news Tags:

6 Ways to Reach Hard-to-Find Candidates for Your Small Business

June 20th, 2016 Comments off
CB_small biz_supply and demand

If you feel as if you’re not getting as many resumes for your job postings as you used to, it may not be your imagination. There’s increased competition for in-demand talent out there. The latest BLS employment report shows the unemployment rate to be a remarkably low 4.7 percent. Even counting those workers who’ve “fallen off,” these numbers are still low and reflect a tighter labor market.

What’s a small business employer in need of talent to do?

One thing is clear: The traditional “post and pray” method of putting out a job listing and waiting for applicants to come in is no longer sufficient.

Small businesses need to be more diligent than ever to capture in-demand candidates. This means expanding your recruiting efforts across multiple platforms, becoming more diligent in your sourcing strategy and applying data to your strategy. Here are a few ways to capture in-demand candidates in a tight labor market.

  1. Start at the beginning – with your job postings. You may already be advertising open positions, but are you paying attention to your job postings? Believe it or not, the way you structure your job postings can have an impact on your application rate. Check out this post about creating powerful job postings that drive more applications.
  2. Re-engage prior candidates. Chances are you have an ATS or internal resume database, but are you actually using it? In a recent CareerBuilder survey, nearly half (49 percent) of HR managers said they don’t re-engage prior candidates for new open positions. The majority of these managers said they only focus on current candidates, or that they don’t have time to target old applicants. Consider using an external resume database, where you can quickly and immediately search for the candidates you need – without waiting for them to come to you, thereby shortening your time-to-hire.
  3. Build your talent pipeline. Even if a candidate isn’t the right fit for a current position, the perfect role could open up for him or her down the line. Shorten your time to hire by building a talent pipeline from which you can easily source candidates in the future – on your very own turf! With a solution like CareerBuilder’s Talentstream Engage, for instance, you can build your talent pipeline with quality candidates who are interested in your company. Candidates have the option to join your talent network in just a few quick and easy steps, enabling you to easily re-engage with them about future openings.
  4. Focus more on skills than job titles. Sometimes a candidate’s job title is less important than the skills he or she possesses. There are likely many candidates out there who might not have the job title or hold the role for which you’re hiring, but do have skills that could easily transfer to your open position. By tapping into these candidates, you’ll expand your pool of potential applicants, fill your positions more quickly, and get fresh candidates who bring a new perspective and set of experiences to your company.
  5. Pay attention to your employment brand. Having a strong employment brand has numerous benefits for your small business. Not only can having a strong employment brand lead to higher productivity, less turnover and a better bottom line overall, it can also help you reduce time and costs associated with hiring and recruiting. Why? Because when you have an employment brand that’s well-known and highly revered, current and former employees are more likely to refer your company as a great place to work, and candidates will be more likely to seek your company out – so you don’t have to go to them.
  6. Don’t ignore the data. Are you tracking your recruiting efforts so you know which methods are most effective? For example, are you tracking where applicants are coming from, and which of those applicants convert to hires? These are metrics you should be paying attention to so you can focus your recruitment marketing dollars there. It’s also important to be mindful of where the talent is located. A tool such as Supply & Demand, for example, can help you see which markets have the greatest supply of candidates for a particular position, and which markets have the lowest. You can then use that information to help you decide where your recruitment marketing dollars are best spent.


Want more small business management advice and resources? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

Hiring? Be Aware of Asking Illegal Job Interview Questions

June 16th, 2016 Comments off
illegal interview questions

During the course of conversing with a job candidate, asking a question such as “Are you married?” can seem perfectly natural. In the eyes of the law, however, the question is not innocent – it is illegal. Regardless of intention, hiring managers who venture into “off limit” territory put their company at risk for legal action because an applicant can argue that certain questions were used to discriminate against him or her.

No company wants to deal with a lawsuit, but such action can be especially troublesome for small businesses. Such firms likely do not have a legal team at their disposal and will need to spend their already limited time and money to assemble one. This redirection of resources may greatly affect the company’s ability to operate and grow. Bouncing back may not be quick, easy, or even possible.

Yet while hiring managers at small businesses really need to take the seriousness of the issue to heart, many fall short. Recent CareerBuilder research showed that nearly 1 in 5 small business employers (18 percent) have asked a question in an interview, only to find out later that it was illegal. Likewise, the following questions are illegal for hiring managers to ask; yet, when asked if they knew if these questions were illegal, at least one third of hiring managers in small businesses indicated they didn’t know:

  • What is your religious affiliation?
  • Are you pregnant?
  • What is your political affiliation?
  • What is your race, color or ethnicity?
  • How old are you?
  • Are you disabled?
  • Are you married?
  • Do you have children or plan to?
  • Are you in debt?
  • Do you social drink or smoke?


Preparation now can prevent problems down the line. Consider these actions to rid interviews of illegal questions:

Know the sticky areas. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission states, “It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against a job applicant because of his or her race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.” Avoid questions that reveal such information.

 Train all interviewers. If others from your company will be asking questions, be sure they know what types of things they can’t ask. Better yet, have them run a list by you beforehand. Sticking primarily to preplanned questions prevents treading into murky water and helps ensure equal treatment of all being interviewed.

 Focus on the position. Often the legality of the question is in how the interviewer asks it. For instance, asking candidates where they live could be interpreted as a way to discriminate based on their location and is therefore illegal. Asking them if they are willing to relocate, however, is fine. Similarly, go ahead and inquire whether or not an applicant will be okay putting in extra hours occasionally, but don’t ask if she has adequate childcare arrangements to handle overtime. Remember that your task consists of finding someone capable of performing essential duties for your small business, not evaluating a candidate’s personal life.

 Want more small business hiring advice and resources? Learn about the The Anatomy of a Powerful Job Posting. You can also request to get more information on our Small Business Subscription Package.

Hiring? Be Aware of Asking Illegal Job Interview Questions

June 16th, 2016 Comments off
business woman

During the course of conversing with a job candidate, asking a question such as “Are you married?” can seem perfectly natural. In the eyes of the law, however, the question is not innocent – it is illegal. Regardless of intention, hiring managers who venture into “off limit” territory put their company at risk for legal action because an applicant can argue that certain questions were used to discriminate against him or her.

No company wants to deal with a lawsuit, but such action can be especially troublesome for small businesses. Such firms likely do not have a legal team at their disposal and will need to spend their already limited time and money to assemble one. This redirection of resources may greatly affect the company’s ability to operate and grow. Bouncing back may not be quick, easy, or even possible.

Yet while hiring managers at small businesses really need to take the seriousness of the issue to heart, many fall short. Recent CareerBuilder research showed that nearly 1 in 5 small business employers (18 percent) have asked a question in an interview, only to find out later that it was illegal. Likewise, the following questions are illegal for hiring managers to ask; yet, when asked if they knew if these questions were illegal, at least one third of hiring managers in small businesses indicated they didn’t know:

  • What is your religious affiliation?
  • Are you pregnant?
  • What is your political affiliation?
  • What is your race, color or ethnicity?
  • How old are you?
  • Are you disabled?
  • Are you married?
  • Do you have children or plan to?
  • Are you in debt?
  • Do you social drink or smoke?


Preparation now can prevent problems down the line. Consider these actions to rid interviews of illegal questions:

  •  Know the sticky areas. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission states, “It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against a job applicant because of his or her race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.” Avoid questions that reveal such information.
  • Train all interviewers. If others from your company will be asking questions, be sure they know what types of things they can’t ask. Better yet, have them run a list by you beforehand. Sticking primarily to preplanned questions prevents treading into murky water and helps ensure equal treatment of all being interviewed.
  • Focus on the position. Often the legality of the question is in how the interviewer asks it. For instance, asking candidates where they live could be interpreted as a way to discriminate based on their location and is therefore illegal. Asking them if they are willing to relocate, however, is fine. Similarly, go ahead and inquire whether or not an applicant will be okay putting in extra hours occasionally, but don’t ask if she has adequate childcare arrangements to handle overtime. Remember that your task consists of finding someone capable of performing essential duties for your small business, not evaluating a candidate’s personal life.

Want more small business hiring advice and resources? Learn about the The Anatomy of a Powerful Job Posting. You can also request to get more information on our Small Business Subscription Package.

5 Signs an Employee Is About to Quit Your Small Business

June 14th, 2016 Comments off
CB_small biz_employee quit

Regardless of the size of a company, the departure of a talented worker hurts. The employer loses a proven asset and must now direct efforts to finding someone to fill the gap. Such loss can be especially hard on small businesses. The dynamic of the whole operation can change as the limited number of remaining team members scramble to pick up the slack, sometimes in areas in which they lack experience.

Small business owners also may take resignations more personally than leaders at larger places. Strong bonds often form in small workplaces, and genuine disappointment can result from no longer having this worker around to help the business grow. The situation can leave the person in charge wondering if he or she “should have seen it coming” and fearing that others may follow suit.

People change jobs for so many different reasons that predicting who might quit and when can be quite difficult. Yet looking for signs that someone may be on the way out and acting on these clues may allow you to possibly influence the outcome. Be aware of these warning signals:

  • Changes in routine. A casual dresser who starts sporting a better wardrobe probably isn’t doing so to impress you. Likewise, someone who suddenly takes longer lunch breaks or calls in sick more than usual may be using the time to job search or interview.
  • Uncomfortable talking about the future. When a usually enthusiastic employee seems disinterested in discussing the company’s growth or becomes reluctant to commit to long-term projects, it may be because she does not see continued employment here as part of her plan.
  • Subpar work. With other opportunities in the works, someone getting close to quitting may not see a need to put full effort into his current position.
  • Exceptional effort. On the flipside (and reinforcing how difficult it can be to decipher behavior), an employee who will soon be on the move may feel obligated to put things in order before departure. He may finish a project much earlier than expected or take time to teach a new skill to a less experienced co-worker without being asked.
  • A milestone. Major events in someone’s personal life can lead to rethinking career goals. Marriage, parenthood, or even having a “big” birthday can precipitate professional changes.


If you notice any of these potential red flags, initiate a conversation without being accusatory. Stress how important the person is to the company and inquire about job satisfaction. At worst, you might confirm your suspicion that the person wants to leave, in which case at least you have a bit of a heads-up. However, your concern may lead the employee to reconsider any current thoughts of new employment. And if it turns out resigning never crossed the employee’s mind, the valuable feedback gained from your discussion may ensure it never will.

Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

Do You Know the Biggest Productivity Killers at Your Small Business?

June 10th, 2016 Comments off
multipurpose businessman

Companies of all sizes depend on the efforts of their employees to ensure operations run successfully. In a small business, however, keeping workers on task becomes especially crucial. Individual contributions matter greatly on a limited-size staff, and wasted time translates into lost productivity that is difficult to recapture.

What types of activities commonly lure people away from what they should be doing? When CareerBuilder asked small business employers to name the biggest productivity killers in the workplace, they cited the following:

  1. Cell phones/texting: 57 percent
  2. The Internet: 40 percent
  3. Social media: 38 percent
  4. Gossip: 37 percent
  5. Smoke breaks/snack breaks: 27 percent

Before taking sweeping measures to eliminate these activities, though, it pays to note that their overall impact remains a subject of debate. As this article from The Atlanticdemonstrates, research often conflicts. For instance, one study reports that a small company could be losing 15 percent of its profits due to email and social media abuse. Another touts that “short breaks allow people to maintain their focus on a task without the loss of quality that normally occurs over time.”

How might a small business owner walk the fine line between losing valuable work time and allowing employees to refresh? Consider these methods:

  • Build breaks into the day. When workers have a scheduled period during which they can do what they wish, they reap the benefits of a brief mental respite and become less tempted to “sneak in” productivity-killing behaviors. And by all means, insist that employees take an actual lunch break instead of expecting them to eat with one hand and work with the other. Perhaps even encourage them to take a walk– studies show that a lunchtime stroll can boost mood and improve the ability to handle stress at work.
  • Talk to offenders. CareerBuilder research shows that nearly 3 in 4 employers (74 percent) have taken at least one step to combat productivity killers, such as blocking certain Internet sites (33 percent) and banning personal calls/cell phone use (23 percent).While such measures ultimately may be necessary if employees abuse trust, a better initial action may be to discuss the problem with individual offenders. Across-the-board movements can lead to resentment from conscientious workers who do a good job at monitoring their own behavior.
  • Judge on output. Finally, remember that what one leader considers useless watercooler chat another may see as important to team morale. Focus on the results you want to see from staff members. If goals get met consistently, chances are you needn’t worry about policing “time-wasting” activities.

Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

The Importance of Creating a Good New Hire Experience

June 8th, 2016 Comments off
CB_small biz_new hire

When you’re a small business, you lose so much more than headcount when a new employee leaves. Time and money (two things most small businesses are already short on) invested in recruiting, hiring, and training the employee cannot be recaptured. The vacancy affects productivity, and the momentum of your whole operation may suffer. Not to mention the frustrating fact that you’re back at square one.

It makes sense, then, to do what you can to encourage new hires to stick around. Positive experiences during the first days on the job can impact the decision to stay, so onboarding needs to be more than filling out required forms. Show enthusiasm for your new hire and the contributions he will make with thoughtful actions that promote success.

Be around. Don’t “dump” a new employee on someone else the first day. Studies show that new hires generally prefer their direct manager to be the one to show them the ropes. Taking this time confirms your interest in the individual and his importance to the company.

Foster bonding. Joining what is likely a close-knit staff can be intimidating. Try going beyond cursory introductions in order to help the new member feel welcome at your small business. Some companies encourage co-workers to send the newcomer an email prior to start day to offer support and provide a bit of personal background. A group lunch on day one also can be a fun icebreaker.

Appoint a mentor. Having someone to turn to besides the boss can be reassuring in a new environment. In an onboarding survey by BambooHR, 56 percent of respondents thought assigning a buddy or mentor was one of the most important things a new employee needs to get up to speed and begin contributing quickly.

Secure necessary items. Providing people with the tools necessary to jump into their role keeps that eager-beaver mentality alive. A new hire’s desk, phone, computer, and password logins should be ready upon arrival (and by all means remember that bathroom key).

Limit boredom. Yes, many things need to be done during the initial days of employment, but too much too fast becomes overwhelming. Analyze what must be accomplished now and what can be done at a different time. Paperwork oftentimes can be completed at home prior to the start date, freeing up valuable time to delve into specific job-related training.

Ask questions. Want to know what will help your new employee stay with your small business? Just ask. Increase motivation by asking new hires to identify their key monetary and non-monetary motivators. Learn why the person quit his or her last job; you’ll gain insight on what to watch out for in the coming weeks.

Is the extra effort worth it? If eliminating the stress of going through the whole hiring process again isn’t enough to make that answer a resounding “yes,” consider this parting thought:  A study by the consulting firm BCG shows that firms with outstanding onboarding can expect to nearly double their corporate revenue growth and profit margins compared to counterparts with only average onboarding. Time well spent, huh?


Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

The Hidden Costs of Bad Hires On Small Businesses

June 6th, 2016 Comments off
Cutting Costs

Has your business ever been affected by a bad hire? If so, then you understand the havoc they can wreak on your business. In smaller businesses, bad hires can have more of an impact and make more of a dent than they would in larger companies. And the impact could be costly. In fact, in a 2012 CareerBuilder survey, 1 in 3 small business employers estimated bad hires cost them more than $25,000 and nearly 1 in 5 said it cost them more than $50,000.

These losses, however, aren’t always obvious and come in many forms. Consider the various ways in which bad hires can affect your small business:

  1. Employee morale. In small companies, a bad employee can have a negative impact on the entire workplace – not just his or her immediate team. Employees often have to pick up the slack of a bad hire, which can lead to feelings of resentment toward management.
  2. Increased turnover. People don’t normally think about this aspect of a bad hire, but your performers may leave your company if they feel this is the type of person you’re willing to bring on to work with them.
  3. Burnout. A bad hire experience can leave us with a “once bitten, twice shy” mentality, leading us to think everyone we bring in after the experience will fail as well. This feeling of negativity can be hard to shake and bleed into how we lead and manage our other employees.
  4. Costs related to recruiting and training. There’s a lot of time and money that goes into recruiting and training new hires. When a new hire doesn’t work out, all of that time and money not only goes down the drain, but you now need to invest more to find a replacement.
  5. Lost productivity. In that 2012 survey, lost productivity was considered among the top losses small business employers experienced when they made a bad hire. Not only do you lose out where the bad hire failed to contribute sufficiently, but productivity also slows down because other employees have to pick up the bad hire’s slack.


Ways to Avoid Bad Hires

Bad hires happen to the best of us. We can’t always see them coming, but there are steps we can take to ensure we stop making the same hiring mistakes over again.

  • Learn from past mistakes: Look back on past hiring mistakes and try to figure out what led to them. Perhaps the employee misrepresented him- or herself or exaggerated his or her qualifications during the hiring process. Or maybe the overwhelming pressure to hire quickly blinded the hiring manager to the candidate’s shortcomings. Once you understand the factors at play that led to bad hires in the past, you can create a game plan to eliminate or overcome those factors in the future.
  • Do your homework: Checking a candidate’s references can be time-consuming, but consider the time you save looking for a new employee to replace a bad hire. Not every reference will be willing to talk, but at the very least, a candidate’s references can verify dates of employment and salary, as well as the validity of the skills and experience the potential employee claimed to have during the interview.
  • Ask the right questions: When checking references and speaking to a candidate’s former employer, one great question to ask is, “Would you rehire this person if the opportunity arose?” If the answer is no, then it might be time to pass on this candidate.
  • Ask employees for help: You already trust your employees, so why not ask them to refer people they trust? Employee referrals are one of the best sources of long-lasting, quality hires. If you don’t already have an employee referral program, consider instating one and giving employees incentives for referring candidates who turn into hires. These rewards could be in the form of bonuses, gift cards or extra PTO.


Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

BLS Report: U.S. Only Added 38,000 Jobs in May

June 3rd, 2016 Comments off
CB_small biz_BLS May

Following the release of the ADP Small Business report yesterday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly report today, with vastly different figures.

According to the BLS report, the U.S. only added 38,000 jobs last month (far below the ADP’s figure of 73,000), making May the lowest month of jobs created since September 2010.

And while the unemployment rate dropped by .3 percentage points, to 4.7 percent, that figure likely comes from people giving up their job searches and dropping out of the labor force.

One of the only high notes from the report was that average hourly earnings increased by 5 cents in May, to $25.59.

Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

ADP Employment Report: Small Businesses Added 76,000 Jobs in May

June 2nd, 2016 Comments off
Businessman standing and looking at the city

Small businesses continue to be a significant source of job growth in the U.S., the latestADP Small Business Report shows.

According to the report, released today, small businesses with 1-49 employees created 76,000 new jobs in May 2016, making up 43 percent of overall job growth. (According to the ADP’s National Employment Report, the U.S. added 173,000 jobs in the nonfarm private sector employment.) This underscores the important role small businesses play in job creation and the health of the economy.

Broken down by company size, businesses with 1-19 employees and businesses with 20-49 employees added 38,000 jobs each.

Looking at individual sectors, small businesses in the goods-producing sector produced 1,000 jobs, those in the service-providing sector added 75,000 jobs.

While these numbers are lower than in recent months, it is not uncommon to see job growth slower in the summer months. According to CareerBuilder’s small business hiring forecast, however, small business employers expect to add headcount throughout 2016. And looking even further ahead, newly released research from CareerBuildershows growth in a wide variety of industries over the next several years.


Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.