Putting a Stop to Stealing

A reader writes…

Hi, Anita:

Employee theft has become a topic of discussion lately at my company, as we are evaluating how to reduce costs and increase profitability. What tips do you have to help prevent and stop theft in the workplace?

Stealing 2Hi, Office Police:

Theft in the workplace costs businesses massive amounts of money every year. A package of pens here or there could seem pretty harmless, right? Wrong. If you start to think that your employees wouldn’t possibly steal from you, well think again.

American Databank estimates that:

  • Employee theft costs U.S. companies over $120 billion a year.
  • 95% of all companies are victims of theft.
  • Only 10% of employee theft is actually discovered.
  • Over 2 million crimes occur in the workplace annually.

These statistics are hard to swallow but are important to keep in mind when deciding to develop a stringent anti-theft policy. Here are my tips to help prevent these problems from even making their way into your workforce.

  • Conduct pre-employment screenings. This includes verifying experience, contacting references, conducting criminal background checks, and administering drug tests. As Stealinghard as it is to believe, up to 40% of information on applications and résumés is falsified or misrepresented. Companies like Select Staffing conduct extensive screenings before placing seekers on assignment with a client.
  • Develop and clearly post your zero-tolerance theft policy. Ensure that all employees are informed of your expectations and the consequences of stealing or ignoring theft by other co-workers.
  • Install surveillance cameras in areas that are prone to theft. These areas could include your supply/stock room, employee break room, parking lots, sales floor, or back office. These alone are a huge deterrent to thievery.
  • Implement several steps of controls and auditing into your standard routine. Have reports created and pulled that evaluate inventory levels and cash inflows/outflows.
  • Have auditors from an independent agency audit and evaluate your financial records.
  • Only hire bonded employees for positions where they will manage company finances and inventories. This will protect your company in the event of loss through the employee’s actions.

Employers and managers, what do you do to prevent theft in your place of business? Have you had to terminate an employee for stealing?

Best wishes,

Anita

Obamacare Effects: Employers

A reader writes…

Hi, Anita:

I am a small business owner with about 45 employees and have some questions about Obamacare. I have heard a lot of buzz about the subject but not much concrete information about the effects of its implementation. Can you help shed some light on how my business and I need to adapt to these changes in the law?

Dear, Unsure About Obamacare:Dr_Woman

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, has been on the minds of business owners and  managers across the country. Though the next round of changes isn’t scheduled to begin until January 1, 2014 (can you believe we are halfway through May already!), now is the time to get the facts straight and figure out what steps you need to take to prepare. Below are some basic points all employers and managers need to keep in mind:

  • The Affordable Care Act applies only to employers that have 50 or more employees or full-time equivalents. Because you have 45 employees, you will not be required to “pay” (a $2,000 penalty for each employee after the first 30 not covered by insurance) or “play” (and provide coverage for each of your full-time-equivalent employees) come 2014. However, if your business grows and you need to add 5 or more full-time employees, you will be subject to these rules. Note that “50 full-time-equivalent employees” means that the total hours among all full- and part-time employees equals the amount of hours worked by 50 full-time employees.
  • State exchanges will provide individuals and small employers (those with less than 200 employees) a marketplace to purchase group health coverage plans.
  • Comprehensive health plans used by employers to leverage employment deals and keep the best talent on staff are subject to an additional tax. In 2016, health benefits that are valued at $10,200 for single coverage or $27,500 for family coverage will be taxed at 40%.
  • If the health care plan you offer your employees is too expensive and exceeds 9.5% of their income, you will be subject to a hefty fine. This piece is a growing concern for employers like manufacturing firms, restaurants, and retail establishments that offer positions at a lower wage. Employers will be facing a penalty of $3,000 if the plan is deemed unaffordable or inadequate.

If your head is swimming, you’re not alone. It’s a complex law but an important one for everyone to understand, especially you as a business owner. Because I’ve also received questions about Obamacare from employees and job seekers, I’m going to be writing a series of posts on this subject over the next couple of weeks. So check back next Tuesday!

In the meantime, you might want to watch the video below, in which CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen explains which parts of health care have changed or will change soon as a result of Obama’s health care reform.

Stay well,

Anita

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

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Power of Productive Teams

Hi, Anita:

Thank you for sharing your words of wisdom with my team and me. We look forward to your post every week and have a question for you. What elements or structure do you need to have a highly productive and effective group of employees? We are looking to boost and build our team to the next level!

Dear, Eager Leader:

It warms my heart when I get questions from my faithful readers. There isn’t much that will put a bigger smile on my face than you all do. Okay, I’ll lay off the mushy stuff. As for your question, I have seen plenty of professional teams, both good and bad. Through my observations and research, I have whittled down the big picture to find the special ingredients for a flexible, efficient, and effective team. I hope you’ll find them beneficial.Productive_Teams_1

  • Clear goals. As a manager, you must set clear goals and expectations for your team. This will make sure that each person both understands what is expected of them and has the direction to work toward a common goal.
  • Hire competent people. If you team does not have intelligent people that possess skills to contribute to the group, you might as well hang up your hat. Good people are the driving force to being effective and productive. Remember that you are only as good as your weakest link. If you do have a weak link, do yourself, your team, and the “link” a favor and let him go. Though it may be painful at first for all parties, everyone will be better off in the end, including the terminated employee.
  • Unified commitment. Each person on your team must be dedicated to achieving the end goal and willing to put in the effort  to get there.
  • Lead by example and set standards. Set the tone for your group by your example. Only deliver high-quality work and only accept it in return.
  • Create a collaborative environment. Encourage all members of your team to give their input and contribute ideas to the group. Being open and accepting will only make your unit stronger.
  • Recognize and support. When a member of your team or the group in their entirety accomplishes a task or works through a tough problem, by all means, celebrate. Recognition is a great way to motivate your employees and keep the momentum moving.

I hope you will implement (if you haven’t already) these key elements that I believe are the foundation for amazing teams. With a strong structure, clear understanding, and mutual respect, the possibilities are endless.

Manager/Supervisors: What element of your team do you think contributes most to your success?

Capitalizing on Team Member Assets

Hi, Anita:

Over the past few months I have assembled a great team of individuals to work on a very important project I have in the pipeline. Each person brings their own set of strengths to the table along with a few weaknesses. How can I capitalize on what each team member does best and minimize the impact that these weaknesses may have on our overall performance?

Dear, Smart Supervisor:

Ray B. Williams of Success IQ University said it best, “Organizations are merely a reflection of the individuals in them. Most organizations are like a puzzle put together in a dark room. Each piece is squeezed into place, and then the edges are ground down so they feel well positioned. But, Strengthpull up the shades, let a little light into the room and we see the truth.”

Capitalizing on team member strengths can truly transform you from doing a mediocre job to being a powerhouse that produces power-packed results. I commend you for the hard work you have put into finding your A team and for reaching out to me with your question. You have already done the heavy lifting by selecting and assembling your group. Now, you just need to fine-tune it to your exact specifications.

The best way to tackle the weaknesses that are lingering in your team is to first identify each person’s unique strengths and natural talents. Meet with your group members individually and together to discuss what they believe are their best assets and what Business_Liftingthey hope to contribute to the team. This is where you can really bolster your team’s résumé and gain some ground quickly. Distinguish between what the employee’s natural talents are and what skills they have or can learn on the job. These will be your saving grace in times of trouble and your team’s gold mine.

Once you have a list of team member talents, it is time to assign each person with a set of responsibilities and tasks that best suit their strengths. If you have a person who is fantastic at behind-the-scenes organization and management but may not be the best with client interaction, place them in a role that provides background support. For the boisterous people person, let them be the team ambassador and interact with outside contacts.

The bottom line is that high-performing teams truly understand each other and acknowledge their strengths and shortcomings. Take the time to incorporate group member strengths into the overall strategy and avoid overlooking obvious weaknesses. Capitalizing on individual assets will bring your team closer together, develop a sense of interdependency, and allow each person to have their moment in the sun.

To hear more about how leveraging team strengths are better for your business, watch this video below:

Readers, what are your greatest strengths and weaknesses? What do you do to allow your talents to shine when working on a team?

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

Warm Wishes,

Anita

Attracting Talent on a Budget

Hi, Anita:

I have been charged with finding a superstar financial analyst to join our growing company. We are a start-up company and my budget for this new employee is rather slim. How can I attract and retain high-quality staff while not breaking the bank?

Dear, Cost Concerned:People Money Stacks

All companies, large and small, depend on their employees for future success, and every employer wants to get the best people to join their teams. It can be hard to catch the attention of top talent when you don’t have “top talent” salary to offer. For the most part, the saying rings true that when it comes to employees, you get what you pay for. But surprisingly, according to a 2011 Harvard Business Review survey of Human Resource leaders, only 38 percent said that a high base salary was very important in the decision-making process. Just for you, I have found a variety of other ways to position your job opening so that it will hook the best candidates.

  • Flexible schedules. As much as some may try to deny it, employees do have lives outside of work. Work hours at many companies are often strict and have their 8-5 schedules set in stone. For employees that have families, school, or other obligations that make a standard work day difficult to abide by, the option to tailor their work hours (in exchange for some more flexible compensation) to fit their needs is a huge draw.
  • Employee health benefits packages. Health benefits are a hot topic these days and many people are using this as a deciding factor between choosing one employer over another. I think it is one of the number one ways to attract and retain high-quality employees. By providing affordable health insurance to your employees, you are showing that you have a general interest in the well-being of your staff and they are not just a number to the company.
  • Offer more paid time off than your competitors. It will cost you money in the short run, but people will jump for joy at the chance for more vacation time – and will stay more loyal in the long run (don’t forget the high cost of turnover). Another bonus is the benefit your company will receive in terms of increased productivity and a more pleasant work environment with happy and refreshed employees.
  • Career coaching and opportunities for advancement. By providing additional on-the-job training and advancement opportunities, you are not only improving the quality of your employees but also investing in their future at little cost to the company. If you show that you are genuinely interested in developing and having this person grow with the company, the salary numbers will become less and less important.

Career SignAs you begin your search for your next superstar, keep these ideas in mind. Though you may have a tight budget, you don’t have to let salary be the reason you do not find high quality candidates.

Wishing you the best of luck in your search!

Anita

Managers and Supervisors, what other incentives do you offer to attract top talent?

Making the Right Hire

Hi, Anita:

I have just received notice from one of my employees that he will be resigning from his position in 2 weeks. What tips can you offer that will help me make sure I am making the right hire to fill the opening in our team?

Hi, Hoping to Hire Smart:

Thank you for the question. At one point or another, all managers or supervisors are faced with the challenge of selecting and hiring a new employee. Once you have spent hours sifting through résumés and aInterviewpplications to weed out the definite “no”  candidates, it is time to begin contacting the promising ones to schedule an interview.

The information gathered during the interview provides the strongest insight into whether or not hiring this person is a smart decision. Not only do you need to look at the candidate’s professional experience, but you also need to take into consideration whether or not this person meshes well with your company’s culture and current team dynamics.

One bad hire can throw a wrench into your well-oiled machine, so take note of the following:

  • Understand that making the right hire is not a race. Take the time you need to find a candidate that best suits the position and your company culture. Don’t let pressure or the copout of “I had no other options” be the reason you make a hiring mistake.
  • Utilize behavioral interviewing techniques. Ask questions that require honest, on-the-spot answers, not carefully rehearsed responses.
  • Before the interview, carefully review the candidate’s résumé and be prepared with questions that will provide insight into past, present, and future performance.
  • Test the skills of the candidate. Just because they listed them on their résumé doesn’t mean they can actual do them.Oops Sign
  • Talk to your team to get a feeling of what they want in a new hire.
  • Ask for and check references. Explain the job description the candidate is applying for and how well this person would perform in the role.
  • Be honest with yourself about your selection and interviewing skills. If you are not confident that you can make the perfect hire, contact a professional staffing agency like Select Staffing. They take the worry and hard work out of finding your next employee. With their skill evaluation tools and strict screening process, you can be sure that the bad apples stay away from your basket.

Here is great video from Microsoft Small Business about the importance of hiring the right people.

I hope this information helps you make the best hire for your open position!

Readers, what do you think is the reason why bad hires happen and what do you do to avoid them?

Becoming the Boss: Advice for New Managers

A reader writes:

Hi Anita,

After working as a Sales Associate at a high-end interior store for 4 years, I have finally received word that I am being promoted to Store Manager. I am very excited to have this opportunity and to have reached my goals. What are some tips you have for new managers in transition and just starting out?

Boss LadyDear, Proud to Be Promoted,

Congratulations on your promotion! This is a wonderful accomplishment that you should be extremely proud off. The hard work you have been putting in has certainly paid of!

Becoming a manager comes with a large new set of responsibilities and tasks that must be executed to keep your store or business running on a
day-to-day basis. Not only are you responsible for your own work and performance, but you must manage those who now are under your supervision too. It may seem overwhelming at first, but from the looks of things, I think you are on the right track.

Before you begin your first day as the new manager, schedule some time with your new boss to discuss expectations and roles they expect you to fill. Ask questions about how they feel about the team you are directing and what issues they feel need to be resolved first. Once you have a list, I suggest formulating a plan that you can submit to your boss before you assume your managerial role. This shows responsibility and initiative and confirms with your boss that they made the right decision by selecting you for the position.

Take some time to reflect on your past and figure out the managers in your life that you look up to. Ask yourself what these individuals did or did not do to make their office a great or terrible place to work. Find the key elements that you admire most in your mentors and implement these into your management strategy. Remember that this strategy is not set in stone. It will need to be shaped and molded to fit you and your team appropriately.

First off and most importantly, you have to refrain from letting the ego boost go straight to your head. Sometimes, as people are given more power in the workplace, they can be more aggressive and demanding. Do your best to maintain an even keel. On the flip side, don’t be a pushover and forget that you ARE the manager now. Be confident in providing direction, offering constructive criticism and feedback, and monitoring and managing performance/attitude issues.

If you haven’t already, get to know the people you will be working with and allow them to get to know you. Staff meetings are a great way to come together as a team and learn from one another. I think hosting staff meeting about once a week isStaff Meeting ideal, but schedule according to what your work requires. It helps build team strength and confidence. Next, take the time to meet with each employee individually. This will help build a one-on-one professional relationship and an open forum for questions and concerns. It will give you the opportunity to learn about their work style, what they need from you as a boss, and what you want from them as an employee. The collaborations help you and your team members get on the same page.

Once you have gone through the above steps, take out the management plan that you had created at the beginning of assuming your new role. With all the information gathered from your employees, bosses, other managers, and your own insights, make a few final tweaks and fine-tune your course of action. This is another good time to sit down with your boss to get any advice or suggestions from him or her. Once you are given the green light, grab the bull by the horns and take on your responsibilities full force.

And before I sign off, whatever you do, do not become this guy!

Have you been promoted to a managerial position recently? What did you find the most useful in making the transition?

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

Best of Luck on Your New Adventure,
Anita

Disclaimer

Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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