Based on the feedback we hear from our small business clients on a daily basis, we have compiled a list of the top five fears that small business owners face going into 2014. Below are a few tips of the trade to assist employers in these areas.
- Finding the Right People. Many employers are currently expressing the opinion that while unemployment rates are still somewhat high compared with historical levels, all of the desirable employees are taken. However, the data shows that there is a promising market out there for talented job candidates, both employed and unemployed. Remember, your best (and most cost-effective) recruiting source is always your current employees, so start by asking if they know anyone who would make a good job candidate. You may even want to financially incentivize current employees who bring you successful new employees. If starting internally does not work, consider using your professional organization’s job listing service, rather than a general one. Also, be prepared to invest substantial time reviewing and sorting job application and resume submissions when seeking prospective candidates. In your interviewing process, remember that the best predictor of future job performance is past performance. To that end, consider using a behavioral-based interviewing technique and don’t forget to run a background check as well as verify the candidate’s references.
- Staying on Top of Health Care Reform Legislation. We hear you. This legislation is complex and far-reaching. However, your HR Support Center is a great resource for you during these changing times in the health care landscape. We recommend starting with the Health Care Reform Acts: Summary Sheet and the Health Care Reform Timeline: Employer Guide. These two documents will provide you with a thorough overview of the Affordable Care Act provisions. Additionally, make sure you are signed up for our E-Alerts. These will help you to stay abreast of new requirements and provisions that may affect your employees. Your most recent compliance requirement was to distribute the Notice of Exchanges and Subsidies to all employees by October 1, 2013. If you missed this deadline, you dodged a proverbial bullet as no penalties have been enacted at this time for late notification to employees. However, you will want to ensure these documents are disseminated to your employees as soon as possible in order to avoid any civil liability. The Model Notice Templates are located in the HR Support Center. If you have questions about these Notices, see our Notice of Exchanges and Subsidies FAQ which is also housed in the Support Center.
- Losing Top Performers. Now that the job market is picking up some momentum, many employers have expressed concern about losing their most valued and productive employees. While different surveys report varying results, generally the top five factors impacting employee workplace satisfaction are 1) the employee’s relationship with his/her direct manager, 2) the employee’s salary, 3) the employee’s benefit plans, 4) the employee’s opportunity to use his/her skills and abilities, and 5) the employee’s opportunity for advancement. We recommend completing an audit of your workplace and give yourself a grade on each of these factors as they relate to your top performers. You may need to consider making some adjustments to your organization’s pay structure, benefit offerings, management style, job duties and/or career planning based on the outcome of your workplace audit.
- Being Sued by a Disgruntled Employee. This fear is always in the back of a small business owner’s mind. It is imperative to ensure that your workplace is free from discrimination and harassment. Your best chance at successfully defending an employee lawsuit is to secure documentation that would prove to a reasonable person that the employee was treated fairly and consistently with company policy. Remember, juries are made up of primarily employees, not employers. Having the ability and documentation to demonstrate that the company treats its employees impartially and consistently goes a long way in terms of reducing an employer’s exposure to liability. The HR Support Center has several helpful documents to assist you with documenting poor performance and it also contains numerous guides and checklists to help you coach, counsel and terminate underperforming employees. Additionally, you may consider purchasing an Employment Practices Liability Insurance policy to assist you in covering your expenses should you have to defend a claim.
- Department of Labor Audits. It is crucial to stay abreast of federal and state labor laws that impact your business. Incorporating a practice of performing internal HR audits is beneficial in preparing an organization for any claims or workplace incidents that may put an organization to the test. It is also essential to have a Human Resources Professional readily accessible to whom you may field your labor law compliance concerns. Complying with immigration laws, wage and hour laws as well as benefit laws is complex, but a knowledgeable HR Professional or Attorney will provide you guidance and ensure that your organization remains in compliance with the labor laws that apply to your business. This will, additionally, help ensure that your company passes a DOL audit with flying colors.
Nothing can completely eradicate employee-related concerns from a small business owner’s mind. Hopefully, though, these tips will allow you to sleep more soundly at night, even if only a little more peacefully.
By HR Pros of the HR Support Center (November 2013)