Coastal HR Blog
7 Email & Phone Scams To Be On The Lookout For
If you belong to any of the myriad of online job sites such as Career Builder, Indeed, or Monster, then you know how flooded your inbox can get with spam. Over the last few years, scam artists passing themselves off as legitimate employers have become smarter at reeling in job seekers who are desperate to secure employment. Their end game is to steal your identity or clean out your bank account. In some cases they will involve you in illegal activity without you even knowing it.
Below is a list of the top seven email and phone scams and what to look for in each:
Offers That are too Good to Pass Up
You’ve seen them before. A job description will pop up in your email that offers extremely good pay, with a top position that is available right away…but you only have to work for 12 hours in the comfort of your own home. In most cases, these hackers have contacted you with unsolicited offers that you didn’t ask for.
Unclear Job Descriptions
If you get a job offer that doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, then that should raise a red flag. Scammers use vague job descriptions in an attempt to pique your interest so that you supply your personal information. The descriptions are general in nature so that they appeal to a wider audience.
Poorly Written Emails
You can almost always tell when an email is a scam just by the pathetic sentence structures, misspelled words, and misused punctuation. In the case of a phone scam, the person on the other will speak in broken in English. Companies do not hire HR representative who cannot write in proper English.
No Return Contact Information
Any reputable employer will make it easy for prospective employees to contact them. They will usually provide company (not personal) emails, phone numbers, addresses, and a website. If there none of this information exists in the email, then block the sender or delete the email.
Company Not Listed in Google Search
No matter who is calling or emailing you, you owe it to yourself to do some background research on the company. Look for an official website that can easily be found using a Google search. Call the company number and speak to the hiring manager. Try to find reviews and other information about the company.
You’re Asked to Submit Personal Information
No legitimate company is going to ask you to submit confidential information in an initial email or phone call. This usually happens after an interview and a confirmation of employment. It is only then that info such as social security numbers, bank account drafts, etc. are requested.
You’re Asked to Pay for Something
Only a scammer would ask you to pay for something up front in order to land your ‘dream’ job. Don’t fall for it. While it is true, that some companies may require you to invest money in items such as equipment, uniforms, or background checks, these expenses don’t come up until after you’ve been hired. No legitimate company is going to request money before you’ve even walked through the door.
Coastal Human Resources, Inc. is a Professional Employer Organization (PEO),
serving as a full-service human resources department for small and medium sized businesses throughout the Southeast. We provide a wide range of services for employers who are looking to expand their workforce. Contact us today at 888-757-7444 to request a free quote or visit www.coastal-hr.com.
FIVE TYPES OF BUSINESS INSURANCE YOU SHOULD CONSIDER
For most of us, our business is a necessity. We don’t start them for fun, but to make a living. As such, we must protect our investments of time and money. When you shop for insurance, here are some of the most important coverages:
- LIABILITY: This is probably the most important insurance your business can purchase. There are several types, including general, product, service, and professional. You will want to have general and any of the others which apply to your situation. If someone is injured on your property, or by an employee, product, or service, these policies cover the defense attorneys in the case, and any awarded settlement. Because there really are people out there looking for an excuse to sue, this policy is non-negotiable. If you want to keep your business and operate in today’s sue-happy climate, protect yourself and your investment. Another consideration in the liability department is a cap insurance, which kicks in if your damages exceed the general policy’s limits.
- PROPERTY INSURANCE: Your building and equipment are necessary to the operation of the company. Theft or damage are covered with property insurance. For even better coverage, pair this one with interruption of business. When something unforeseen happens, and the business is unable to operate for days, or weeks, the lost income is compensated. If you have employees counting on their paychecks, you will want to cover payroll to retain your staff. In the case of fire or smoke damage, repairs and cleaning can take several weeks or longer.
- WORKERS’ COMPENSATION: This policy is mandatory if you have employees. Workmans’ Comp covers any employee injured on the job. Their medical bills and compensatory replacement of lost pay helps get them through the time of healing and protects you from lawsuit.
- FLEET INSURANCE: Most businesses have vehicles. Protect the drivers, contents, and automobiles with this policy, as well as any others injured in a collision. If you also comp employees for driving their own cars, you may want to inquire about a non-owned rider to back up their insurance.
- INFORMATION PROTECTION: It seems that every other day we are hearing about hacking. Yet, as we continue to shelter personal information, we should also have some sort of protection for our business in case that information is compromised.
Many insurance companies offer a Business Owner’s Policy, which can be thought of as the “bundled” plan. They have taken all of the insurances you may need, and discounted the package.
Home-based businesses may need some modifications to the property insurance.
You may desire additional coverages. As business models change, so do the insurances offered. Today there are policies for cyber-theft or other electronic breaches. The information you save is not the only thing that can be obtained. You may find your bank accounts emptied or your system held hostage and requiring a ransom.
Business insurance is relatively inexpensive, but the peace of mind it brings is immeasurable. Be sure you have everything you need, before you need it.
Coastal Human Resource Group, Inc. is a Human Resource Outsourcer (HRO). We serve as a full-service human resources department for small and medium-sized businesses throughout the Southeast. Visit www.Coastal-HR.com or call us toll-free at 1-888-757-7444. We’re here to help ensure that all your human resources needs are met.
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6 Effective Conflict Resolution Techniques
As long as there are humans working in your company, then there will always be tension and conflict on some level. Whether you are working in HR, administration or top-tier management, conflict resolution is a skill you’ll need to refine over time. Below are five proven conflict resolutions techniques that will help you keep the office running smoothly.
Do a lot of Listening
You are more likely to earn trust and loyalty by simply sitting down and listening to what someone else has to say. When someone else is talking, avoid interrupting him or her. Ask lots of question for clarity and always communicate when you don’t understand something.
Minimize the Conflict as Much as Possible
Let’s face it, some people are just drawn to drama. When the pot stirs, they are often the first to jump in. So, when conflict arises, the best course of action is minimize how many people are involved. Sure, there are moments when people may need to be called in to confirm or clarify a claim. Most of the time, however, conflict comes down to two people on two different sides of an issue. If you can get into a room and get the involved parties to work out the dispute without involving everyone else, you’re more likely to get it solved quickly and quietly. Once the conflict is solved, encourage everyone in the room to keep it to themselves. There’s really no point in drawing the entire office into an encounter.
Facts, Not Feelings
The ability to listen is an admirable quality. When there’s a dispute between two employees, they are both dying to be heard. And while a listening ear is important in gaining the trust of your staff, your decisions should never be made on how your employees feel. As someone in charge, your duty is to gather the facts and make a decision (if necessary) that is based on those facts. By focusing on the facts, you rid yourself of needless emotional baggage that can effect how you judge a situation and its outcome. When everyone else in the room is angry or hurt, you need to be the calm, steady, level-headed voice in the room that provides clear direction.
Try to Create a Win-Win Situation
Conflict creates duality. Essentially, both sides have a need or desire. Somewhere in the middle is a compromise in which each side can get what he or she wants if only in part. Effective management seeks to do what is best for everyone in the room. Therefore, you’re more likely to create a long-term solution if your goal is to help everyone resolve the conflict in a way in which both parties can benefit at some level.
Focus on Issues, Not People
It doesn’t take long for a disagreement to get personal. This is especially true for employees who have been working together for a long time and know each other well. When tensions get high and people get emotional the tendency is to focus on personalities instead of issues. As a supervisor, however, your #1 goal is to solve the issue. Thus, you should avoid character attacks and personalized statements. Get to the heart of the matter and stay there.
Develop a Plan for a Solution
Some disagreements can be solved within minutes – others within hours. And then there are some conflicts that take a few days. In some instances you may need to develop a plan of action for finding the right solution. Once you’ve developed the plan, then share it with all involved and resolve the problem as a team if possible.
At Coastal Human Resources group we provide a wide range of HR services for business owners in Mobile, Alabama and the surrounding Gulf Coast area. If your company needs staff, then contact us today at 251.478.7444 or visit www.coastal-hr.com.
There are four approaches to effectively discipline an employee though that will prove successful and beneficial for both your company and your employee.
When it comes to disciplining an employee, there’s no easy or fun way to go about the task. When running a company though it’s a necessary evil. There are four approaching to effectively discipline an employee though that will prove successful and beneficial for both your company and your employee.
Be Firm but Fair
You may think that letting employees get away with things will make for a more relaxed atmosphere and you a more-liked boss. In the end though this comes back to bite you. If an employee does something wrong or doesn’t pass the expected muster, it’s understandable to discipline them. Don’t be a tyrant but letting the wrongdoing pass with no firm punishment creates an atmosphere of havoc that benefits no one. Make sure they know the expectations—or rules if you will—and that diverting from them will bring consequences.
Having a teacher’s pet that receives more of your positive attention is one thing, but letting certain employees get away with something that others don’t does nothing but cause confusion amongst employees, and probably even a bit of bitterness. If you discipline one employee for something, make sure you do the same across the board. This will also help you pass on a consistent message that will save you constantly backtracking and trying to remember what you allow and don’t allow.
We can borrow this one from pre-school. There’s no use putting someone in time-out if they don’t know why they’re there. If an employee doesn’t understand why they’re being disciplined then they’re doomed to make the mistake again…and at that point it’s your fault because you could have set them on the right path to begin with. So, when disciplining them, make it perfectly clear what they did wrong or where they failed to meet expectations.
Make sure your employee doesn’t walk out of the room with their head held low because if that’s the case, all you’ll have managed to do is berate them, not discipline them. After you’ve been specific with what they did wrong, tell them how they can make it better or how they can avoid the mistake in the future. This is part of your role as their superior, helping to shape them for the future of your business. If you successfully do this, then you’ll have taken an opportunity to discipline an employee when needed but also made sure to avoid the problem in the future. Don’t get so swept up in this though that you find yourself giving multiple chances on the same issue (at that point they’re taking advantage of you).
While this may be one of the more difficult aspects of holding a higher position in a business, it doesn’t have to be miserable. Use these four approaches to effectively discipline an employee and you will see it pay off tenfold in both employees and the company.
If you want to motivate all your employees and increase productivity, call us today for more information on this and other products we have to simplify your business obligations. Coastal Human Resource Group, Inc. is a Human Resource Outsourcer (HRO). We serve as a full-service human resources department for small and medium-sized businesses throughout the Southeast.
Visit www.Coastal-HR.com or call us toll-free at 1-888-757-7444. We’re here to help ensure that all of your human resources needs are met.
HOW YOUR FIRST TIME AS A MANAGER CAN BE A HUGE SUCCESS
You have just been given a new position with added responsibility. You may be a bundle of nerves, and that is OK. Read these tips, take them to heart, and go forward with joy and excitement as you discover the potential that you and your team have.
- NOT ONLY DO YOU NOT KNOW EVERYTHING, BUT YOU AREN’T EXPECTED TO. So just breathe and look around you. Study your team. Figure out what their best qualities are, and how you can utilize those. You aren’t trying to “use” people, but knowing what they can bring to the table can be a huge asset. Be sure you understand that difference. It will make or break you. Let your team help, and culminate an atmosphere where they want to do so. Be willing to admit that you don’t have an answer, but start now to know WHERE to find those answers.
- IF YOU ARE NOT A BORN MULTI-TASKER, STRIVE TO LEARN THIS SKILL. Many people do it without thinking, but if you aren’t one of them, it doesn’t mean that you can’t juggle six tasks and three deadlines; just that you haven’t practiced it.
- NOW, BEGIN TO DANCE BETWEEN PROJECTS AND PROCESSES WITH PRIORITY. You may have a lot going on, but some of it is going on as planned, some of it may need guidance, and sometimes you may have to shift your focus to a more immediate need. Understand the system you are working in. Put the processes in order, and then find the time zones where completion is needed. As you get better, you will be able to use tracking to follow these processes from start to finish, but for now, you may be better served by going to the finish line, and seeing what should be there. If it isn’t, go find it, and figure out how to get it there as close to the deadline as possible.
- REACH OUT TO YOUR MENTOR. Someone had strong feelings of confidence in you, or you wouldn’t be a new manager. Find those people. Don’t be afraid to ask them for guidance. If you are building a relationship, ask them what one piece of advice they would give you based on their experiences. Let them shape you. You can bet that they have made some mistakes along the way, and you will benefit from listening.
- MANAGE YOUR STRESS. Figure out now how to release the day when you leave. If you don’t learn this now, you are only going to complicate things later when you have even more responsibility. Find something now that helps you relax in a positive way.
- CELEBRATE THE SMALL VICTORIES, AND BUILD ON THEM. Spread that joy around to those you work with. In the same way, deal with issues in such a way that it gains respect. Forgive yourself, and those above and below you. Extend the same mercy that you bestow on yourself to the others, and they won’t forget it. Nothing screams “leader” like the handling of a minor problem with dignity. Let them know you have confidence in them, and they will be happy to give you a reason for it.
Tips For Motivating Your Best Employee
In any office there has to be one person that serves as the touchstone. This can be a point of contention for some but it’s necessary to effectively run any business. They are your best employee and they can be the igniting fuel that runs your business. To have them best serve you and the rest of your staff though it’s important to keep them motivated. Here are some tips for doing just that:
- Keep Them on a Deadline
You have to make sure the rest of your office knows that when a task is assigned it is expected to be completed on time. Keep your best employee on a tight deadline and don’t let there be any wiggle room and the rest of the office will follow suit.
- Put Them in Charge
This should not be an all the time thing, but don’t be afraid to put your best employee in charge of certain tasks. It gives them a sense of responsibility and will make them feel personally responsible for the product the team produces.
- Designate Them As The Leader
This is in the same vein as above but a bit broader. It can be applied to certain task or just to general rules you want applied to your staff. Give your staff a leader that is one of their own and it will keep them from running around like a chicken with no head. You’ll be there as the boss to keep it from going full “Lord of the Flies.”
- Keep Them Humble
All of these rules can lend itself to a big head. Ideally if this person is your best employee they have the right attitude and work ethic to keep that from happening but it’s also your job as boss to keep them in line. Praise them for work well done but don’t give praise when it isn’t due. Critique work that needs to be critiqued and let them know when they could have done a better job. If you want your best employee to continue to grow, this is crucial.
- Give Them Competition
A little competition never hurt anyone and it gives them motivation to work harder. Having two of your best employees aware of the other’s work will give them someone to compare to, and therefore try to increase their work to a higher standard. Which leads to increased performance and expectations.
- Hold Them to a Higher Standard
This person is your best employee; they are supposed to serve as a touchstone for everyone else around them and for the quality of product you’re producing. Don’t be afraid to hold them to a higher standard and let them know that is the case.
- Keep Them Accountable
By keeping your best worker accountable you are making it known even the “class pet” so to speak isn’t allowed to slide on anything. Think of it as the business version of tough love. This will trickle down to all other employees and cause them to police themselves and their work.
Your best employee can be an added decision maker for your business, so take care of them and they will take care of you. Use these tips and you will see production beginning to flow right away.
If you want to motivate all your employees and increase productivity, call us today for more information on this and other products we have to simplify your business obligations. Coastal Human Resource Group, Inc. is a Human Resource Outsourcer (HRO). We serve as a full-service human resources department for small and medium-sized businesses throughout the Southeast.
5 Tips for Handling Employee Grievances and Incidents
Leadership is never an easy task. Most managers and supervisors often feel like they’re steering a ship that has no rudder while waiting for a mutiny on the bounty. This is especially true when conflict ensues. There are essentially three main types of conflict:
- Employee & Employee
- Employee & Management
- Employee & Policy
In all of these conflicts, the one in charge must be the person to find the solution and find it in an efficient manner before the conflict grows and becomes uncontrollable. Below are five strategies to help you navigate through employee grievances and incidents.
Understand Your Place in the Chain of Command
Making executive decisions and solving conflict in a professional manner happens when a supervisor or manager knows his or her place in the chain of command and how much authority they’ve been given. For instance, when it comes to employee vs. employee conflict, supervisors are expected to have the knowledge and ability to handle problems between subordinates.
If an employee is challenging company policies, however, a supervisor may want to go up the chain of command to deal with the situation. Equally, administration wants to give as much of the authority to lower level management as possible so that their subordinates respect them. Understanding your place in the chain of command creates respect and trust from everyone around you.
Address the Issue, Not the Person
Let’s face it, not everyone in your company is easy to get along with. Yet even some of the most difficult people can be the greatest company supporters and the hardest workers. When addressing complaints or incidents, put your personal feelings aside and stay focused on the issue at hand. Your goal should be to find a solution, not replace a person. If you are seen as someone who can solve problems, then your place in the company is even more solidified and coworkers will feel more secure around you.
Document Everything…Without Fail
He Said, she said, rarely works in personal relationships between two people. Trying to remember conversations and incidents can be disastrous when recalling facts and events. Therefore, you should document everything. When documenting a complaint or incident, capture every detail down to the word if possible. Some incidents may take weeks to solve, and you can’t rely on your memory – neither may someone else.
Ask Questions and Stay on Point
Aristotle’s greatest weapon was his ability to ask questions. Asking questions is a powerful tool. Here’s why? People can often work themselves out of their own illogical thinking if they have to answer their own questions. By asking questions you can get to the root of whatever it is your employee is complaining about. Case in point (paraphrase):
You: What is the problem?
Employee: I feel I deserve a raise.
You: Why do you feel this way.
Employee: Because I have been here for ten months and haven’t even been considered for a raise.
You: Do you feel that your getting a raise should solely be dependent upon how long you’ve been here?
Employee: Well, no.
You: What other criteria do you feel justifies you qualifying for a raise?
One facet of your company governs everything: the company’s vision. If you are 100% on board with the company vision, understand it well, and are able to carry it out every day, then leading your team becomes a less difficult task. When facing conflict and complaints always refer to the company’s vision and do not be afraid to lead in that manner. Sometimes you just have to pull the executive card without negotiation or hesitation. Complainers often fail to see company vision and want to create their own. It is your job to put them back on track. If they continue to derail and defy the company, then you have no choice but to let them go. Whatever happens, do not be afraid to use the authority given to you to keep employees working and moving toward the vision. By demonstrating hard leadership, you will earn the trust and respect of your entire company. No one likes conflict. A true leader, however, will navigate the ship through the storm no matter how high the waters. You owe it to yourself and to your company to lead and to lead with confidence.
6 TIPS FOR IMPROVING DELEGATION WITHIN YOUR COMPANY
Being a driven leader is wonderful. Having a group of people with you who are also highly motivated is one way to set yourself up for success. However, if you and your employees are not working together, you really just have a bunch of ambitious people working in groups of one. The key to group success is forming the group, and the best way to do that is to delegate tasks. Here are a few tips to help get that process started:
- STRESS THE SKILL AND TALENT DIVERSITY AVAILABLE WITHIN THE GROUP. Although many of us are good at several things, we do have niches of specialty. Build out the talent pool by telling the group what the others excel at. It will be easier for Joe to ask Sarah to edit his article if he knows she edits your text. Jim may put together a great contract, but if Henry has a legal background, he will be more apt to have Henry give it a second look to avoid issues later. It may be interesting to go around a room in a group meeting, and ask two questions: What is your strongest skill, and where are you the weakest?
- SET AN EXAMPLE. It may be hard for your team to take you seriously if you are seen working 80 hours a week and turning down offers of help. Yes, it means you are driven, but if you aren’t delegating successfully, you can’t show them how it works.
- LET GO OF MICROMANAGEMENT. You want a certain result, and you know that nobody else has that same vision. By opening the parameters a bit and letting someone else try, you may find that they achieved your goal. You may also discover other people who want that same result, and you may find them more than capable.
- ENCOURAGE THE EFFORT. Ask your leaders to assign some of their work. If giving an entire task away isn’t in their comfort zone yet, ask them to assign a sub-task, a piece of the puzzle. Sometimes growth comes in small steps, but every step in the right direction should be noted and encouraged. Mentor where you can.
- REWARD THE SUCCESS. When a project is broken down, and everyone is working together for a desired end, be sure to sit up and take note, rewarding the group’s success. Highlight areas of great teamwork. Find small ways to show your appreciation. Your crew will thank you for donuts, pizza, or even a gift card. These tokens don’t have to break the bank but they will be remembered.
- SHOW THE RESULTS. When a project comes together successfully, find various markers which may be traced to show a great result. Be sure that you, as the leader, follow through. Don’t lose focus once a project is wrapped. Go back and assess its value, and report it to your team.
As you foster these relationships, the goal is to see teams formed that bring people into unofficial groups for the success of the whole, through delegation amongst themselves without your persuasion.
FIVE REASONS YOU NEED AN EMPLOYEE HANDBOOK
As your company grows, it makes sense to put the rules in writing. Starting with a couple of employees, it seems like a waste of time, but when you grow to more than that, it is time to sit down and get it all spelled out. Invariably, someone will use one of these before the books are hot off of the presses, so have these ready ahead of the curve, make them available to everyone, and cover sections regularly in group progress meetings and the monthly newsletter. Eventually, most of the staff will know answers to the most common questions. Keeping this book handy will save your HR team hours of unnecessary visits to their office for clarification.
- “We didn’t cover that in training.” Training is on point when it is covered in the handbook. Whether touched on, or elaborated on, the information should be discussed. If training follows the same format each time, then you should never hear this one.
- “I have never heard that before.” An employee a few years out from training may not remember everything that was covered. Keeping a handbook in the breakroom will give your staff the ability to quietly go look up the answer to a question without bringing attention to themselves or a situation that they may not want to discuss yet. Many companies email the handbook to each of their employees so they can always have access.
- “What are our holidays?” President’s Day may give the kids time off from school, and the bank may be closed, but we are working. This is not a holiday for us. The list is in the handbook, and we take the same holidays every year.
- “What is the company policy on harassment?” Although today, most companies have a strict zero-tolerance policy, it should be spelled out explicitly. You need to specify what you consider harassment, and what the process is for those who are victims as well as those who are accused.
- “I was fired without warning.” A written disciplinary policy will specify the steps taken as one progressed through the levels of discipline. While attendance may be a minor infraction, and there may be several warnings before time off, something more serious, such as intimidation or coming to work under the influence may put one immediately in the time off pending investigation mode. If they received a handbook upon hire, they have no grounds for any action if the policy was followed as written.
Having a handbook will save you time and money. You won’t be discussing the same issues over and over, or wondering if things were handled the same every time. You can sit down with your management team, think it all through one time, and put it in writing.
A written policy on discipline, properly implemented each time, will save you the aggravation of handling legal battles in a sue-happy society. We won’t guarantee that it will stop every lawsuit, but it will give your attorney a baseline of what was expected from this employee and where they failed to perform.
If you currently have no manual, and are interested in putting one together, give us a call. We can address your questions, and even help get it sorted out and into print.
SEVEN PAYROLL MISTAKES MANY SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS ARE MAKING
Payroll, taxes, withholding, expenses, benefits, quarterly payments, monthly payments, taxable income, qualified expenses, gifts and awards: if these make your head spin, you are not alone. Mistakes are made daily in payroll, and some are more common than others. Here are some of the most commonly made mistakes.
- Is the person an employee or a contractor? If the person is not receiving benefits, and is not having taxes withheld, they may be considered a contractor, and may be responsible for the payment of their own taxes.
- Are bonuses, gift cards, and other compensations being tracked properly? Bonuses, which are awarded based on performance of the company or the individual employee, are taxable. However, if your company has a drawing, where gift cards and prizes are given based on luck of the draw, those items are not taxable. Small tokens and promotional items given throughout the year are not taxable.
- Are you including any unsupported expense claims as wages? If your employee is traveling with a spouse or driving a company car, these are considered taxable fringe benefits. These items should be included in their bottom line. Also, you should be sure that the approved expenses meet the IRS guidelines, are for supported company expenses, and are properly receipted and submitted. Those which do not should be reimbursed to the company or considered income.
- Expenses for commuting must meet the requirements set forth by the IRS. The guidelines include distance travelled and time commitment of the assignment. If these rules are not being met, the compensation may be a taxable fringe benefit. For instance, a temporary assignment becomes permanent if the employee stays there for longer than a year. While a job five hours away may qualify for travel reimbursements, a job in the next county may not.
- Did you issue 1099’s to your contractors as required? If your contractor earned over $600, they should receive a 1099, and it should be sent timely for tax filing.
- Are you paying your taxes on time? There are penalties for not getting your federal and state taxes filed. Federal withholding may be paid weekly, semi-monthly, or monthly. State withholding may be paid monthly. Unemployment is a quarterly payment.
- The biggest mistake is not using a PEO. Per Wikipedia, “A professional employer organization(PEO) is a firm that provides a service under which an employer can outsource employee management tasks, such as employee benefits, payroll and workers' compensation, recruiting, risk/safety management, and training and development.” By hiring a PEO, you can eliminate the worries about whether your payroll is being done properly. The payroll staff at your PEO are trained in this area, leaving your time to the performance of your company. There are other tasks which your PEO may also assume, freeing up your time and staff even more.
If you think some of these items may be a concern, or you simply have never considered a PEO, give us a call. We would love to show you what we can do for you.
5 Scams Small Business Owners Fall For and How to Avoid Them
As a small business owner, you are inundated with phone calls, emails, and messages throughout the day. Chances are, at least a few of those are scammers! Here are 5 common scams that small business owners face and tips on how you can avoid them.
- Directory Scams –
How many times have you received a phone call from someone trying to convince you that your company needs to be listed in an online directory? These people promise that for a fee, your business will more visible online and you’ll get more customers in return.
Many of these offers are scams. Make sure to always read the fine print before you sign anything. It’s also a good idea to have one person in the company handle these solicitations. They’ll get more familiar with them over time and be able to spot scams much easier.
Quick tip: You can claim your own business listing through Google My Business for free. (Google will also never call you asking for money to do this.)
- IRS Scams –
If the Internal Revenue Service needs to contact you, they’ll do it by mail first. If they do call, the IRS will never ask you for personal information (like bank accounts, credit card information or your social security number) over the phone.
The IRS does not accept payments in the form of gift cards at all. They’re also never going to ask you for any kind of wire transfer.
- Tech Support Scams –
Have you ever received a call from someone claiming that they’re Tech Support and telling you that you need to fix a problem that you never even knew you had? Chances are, that was a scam! Do not trust anyone who calls and asks for access to your company’s computers, saying that your PC or email has been hacked.
The best way to avoid these scams is to make sure your employees know that they should never give computer access to anyone from outside the company. Be sure that all calls are directed to one person, like an office manager.
- Charity Scams –
There are always people trying to take advantage of small business owners by asking for donations. These people will try to play on your emotions by telling you that your money will help children, police, firefighters, veterans, etc.
A charity should be able to tell you their status with the IRS and provide you with information so that you can claim your contribution as a charitable donation on your business’ taxes.
You should also be able to call the organization that the person is claiming to represent to verify their fundraising efforts.
- Ransomware scams –
Ransomware is more sophisticated than ever. According to the Department of Justice, there are over 4,000 ransomware attacks EVERY DAY in the U.S. alone.
Protect your business against these threats by training your employees to use caution when opening emails from people that they don’t know or don’t interact with on a regular basis. Any suspicious email or attachment should not be opened!
If you suspect that someone is trying to scam you, alert the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau. These complaints help to make others aware and shape the FTC’s law enforcement agenda. Many scammers will stop hassling you if they know that you will report them.
Coastal HR – 3 Reasons Why Your Business Needs Workers’ Comp
At the turn of the last century, The United States began to implement laws regarding workers’ compensation for employees. These sets of regulations were meant to aid the working people of America if there was ever any injury on the jobsite. Specifically, workers’ compensation is used to replace wages, cover medical expenses, and offer other benefits to employees who suffer from an illness or injury on the jobsite. This program is more than just one of the many expenses of owning a business; it is an important asset and strategic investment for your company.
Most States Require Workers’ Compensation
By law, most states require that businesses have a set workers’ compensation system in their safety plan. Not every state requires you implement this program, such as Texas, but that still does not mean you should avoid using it with your business. The only instance for when it is not necessary to include this wage replacement plan is something such as self-employment, when there is no need to worry about anyone else being injured. When you do not have a workers’ compensation plan set into action, your company could easily get a stiff penalty from the government or be vulnerable to lawsuits by employees. Laws regarding this system vary from state to state, some states offer funds to provide coverage, and some allow you to purchase a plan through a specific agent or broker.
Protection of Your Business
One of the most important things about workers’ compensation insurance is that it protects your business in times where it is vulnerable due to a workplace-related injury. It helps businesses avoid paying in full the high costs of an injured employee’s medical bills and lost wages due to an onsite injury or illness. If the company does not include a strong workers’ compensation plan, even just one injury of an employee on the job could easily cause irreparable financial harm to the company from the costs of medical expenses and recovery of lost wages. When a company gets a workers’ compensation plan from an experienced insurer, valuable loss control services that help reduce expensive claims and keep premiums at a low become a great asset to the company.
Protection of Your Employees and Their Families
This is the key point of including a wage replacement system in your company’s safety plan, protecting your employees and also protecting their families. You want to keep your employees happy and working with your company, so they need to know that if anything ever happened, they would be taken care of by the company. As noted earlier, workers’ compensation covers the cost of hefty medical expenses of an employee if they are injured while working for you. Medical bills can be substantially high in this country, and people will need help with those bills if an injury occurs on your business’ time, and morally it is your duty to aid in paying those bills. If a permanent injury or disability occurs on the jobsite, workers’ compensation will cover the costs as needed, as well. These systems also sometimes pay for employees to have their rehabilitation and training to be done in order for them to return to the job in their original healthy, working condition. As for families, if there is something such as a death on the jobsite, this system will either pay for some of the funeral service costs or even all of the costs of said service. Some insurance packages may also include financial benefits for the family of the lost one, reducing the chances their being a lawsuit against the company for financial stability after a death of a loved one from a workplace-related illness or injury.
Three YouTube Videos Every Business Owner Should Watch
Owning a business is not easy. There are a million things to be done, and seldom enough time to do those things. As soon as you put out one fire, another one starts up. Even in the rare moments of peace, you have to make sure that your business is achieving its full potential and your customers and clients are left feeling satisfied with your services. Luckily, in the digital age, you don’t have to rely on the traditional means of learning the tricks of the trade. YouTube offers instructive videos on an incredible variety of topics. You literally have access to the top experts and most innovative minds in the field at your fingertips. Here are three must watch videos for business owners:
1. Surviving the Entrepreneur Roller Coaster
This short inspirational video from Success Magazine is just what you need to learn how to harness the energy that comes from a brilliant new idea. The video describes this journey as the ‘entrepreneurial roller coaster’, and gives some great tips on how not to fall off. The main idea of the video is how to sustain the momentum and passion that one feels at the start of a new project, business opportunity, or innovative idea. It discusses how to prevent the derailing of your dream by remembering to encourage yourself, and being supportive individuals and refuse to give up.
2. The Seven Secrets of Exceptional Customer Service - VTIC Presentation by Carrie Gendreau
This presentation gives expert advice on offering the best customer service possible—from first impressions, the importance of details, to how to exceed customers’ expectations, and much more. It is a great watch if your business has been struggling to retain customers, or if you are perhaps having issues with your public image. Through various anecdotes about her experiences with customer service in businesses around the country, Carrie Gendreau lays the groundwork for how a business owner can create a welcoming environment that keeps consumers coming back again and again. The video suggests to treat everyone as a guest—not a customer. It is also key that complaints should be treated as gifts, not criticism. Every complaint is simply an opportunity to improve.
3. Seth Godin—How to Win at Business
This inspiring video with the author Seth Godin, entrepreneur and thought leader, discusses the idea that anything can be art if it is done with thought and care. It is suggested that we slow down and accomplish work with a higher level of consideration and attention. If you rush through assignments you are “painting” and when you elevate the quality of your work you are an “artist.”
By watching these videos, you have a few tools to help make your business more successful without ever having to leave the comfort of your home or office. From learning how to keep the momentum from a great idea constant to key tips and tricks to distinguish your customer service from the many businesses you are competing against, these videos are a valuable resource to aid you in creating an environment of artists, not painters.
7 Things Employers Should Know About Paying for Employees to go Back to School
When considering whether or not to offer tuition assistance to employees, there are several factors. It can be costly, with some employees completing Masters Degrees or PhD’s with the help of employers.
So let’s look at some of the reasons why a company would want to implement this strategy.
A stellar benefit package attracts stellar employees. Tuition assistance is a coveted perk which will be appreciated by motivated applicants who are looking to constantly improve their career and financial situation.
The federal government allows $5250 per year per employee to be written off. Tuition assistance is a great way for an employer to leverage their costs while offering a great benefit for the employee. For graduate degrees, the investment can become very costly to the employer, and often there are caps on yearly amounts. One way to ensure a return on this investment is a commitment contract requiring continued employment for 2-5 years post completion of degree.
Offering reimbursement for coursework that benefits the company as well as the employee is a win-win. Whether the classes assist in a current position, or train for a future position, the increased knowledge base of the employees is always beneficial to the company.
Educating current employees gives a solid base for promotion from within. Upward mobility of great employees with proven track records of reliability, attendance, and a solid work ethic gives confidence to upper management. An investment made in such an employee is repaid when the employee is promoted and successful.
Employee retention is higher when employees feel valued and see opportunity for growth within the organization. An employee who has a desired career path, and is given the means to achieve it, will remain loyal to the company. It is also a benefit to the company when these employees stay for long periods, continuing to educate themselves and grow into new positions.
Although nearly every employer requires a specified grade point average for reimbursement, the other conditions of assistance may vary greatly. The number of courses or dollar amount per year may vary. The selection of schools may be open to the employee, or there may be a set number of choices available. The cost of the course may be the only item paid, or the entire cost of the class may be reimbursed, including books, lab fees, and supplies. Some employers make allowances for working hours to be varied in order to allow employees to be in class.
Online courses allow more versatility for employees in terms of scheduling actual class time and study time as well, while the costs associated with online learning are lower in most cases, benefiting the employer.
Once implemented, a tuition assistance program is very beneficial for both the employers and employees. It is a great way to entice the most ambitious and talented workers to spend their career at your company. It also leads to a rise in promotions from within which will make your employees more loyal knowing all of this growth of knowledge and skill comes with a future purpose in mind.
5 THINGS THAT COASTAL HR DOES TO MAKE YOUR LIFE EASIER
As a Human Resources Outsourcer (HRO) with over 19 years in business and more than 300 clients, Coastal HR has the experience to simplify and de-stress the front office performance of your company. From a small storefront to a large manufacturing business, we can streamline and manage a complete offering of services. Here are a few reasons that we lead the pack and set the standard for HRO performance:
- PAYROLL: Known for our short lead time, our personal service, and assigned payroll clerks make our service seem like we are in the next office. We offer a complete package with paper checks, direct deposit, and pay cards. We handle sick leave, vacation, and personal time tracking and pay, garnishments, and audits. We make your payroll tax deposits, and provide audits and reports (including year-end) to complete the process. Web access allows you and your employees to check deposits, print paystubs, and W-2s, and submit paperwork.
- EMPLOYEE SCHEDULING: Our TimeSimplicity Advanced Scheduling program offers drag-and-drop user-friendly functionality. You control the shifts, and this cloud-based program will make sure that your coverage is correct, reducing overtime costs, or understaffing frustrations. Integration with our time and attendance management means less stress for you.
- EMPLOYEE BENEFITS: We have access to the best benefits programs available. Not only do we take the management of the benefits off of your plate, but offering an amazing selection of choices ensures that your competitive package draws in the most highly-skilled employees.
- COMPLIANCE SCREENING: We can manage your drug and alcohol testing program and complete background checks according to your policies. We run a complete testing service, including lab-based and rapid screen urinalyses, alcohol testing for DOT and non-DOT compliant results, hair follicle testing, and we can test on site. Our background checks include checking educational background, criminal and motor vehicle records, employment verifications, civil court documentation, and sex offender registry checks. We also provide employee and supervisor training for compliance testing.
- HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT: From writing your handbook to implementing its policies, we can manage your HR needs. Hiring new employees can be time-consuming, and we can lift the time constraints off of your back by scheduling interviews, initiating the screenings, and then setting up the new employees for our training services, which include but are not limited to Responsible Vendor, forklift certifications, and regularly scheduled site safety meetings. In addition, our risk management site visits and unannounced pop-in inspections will check for OSHA violations and verify safety in the workplace. We inspect for EEOC, Dept. of Labor, and HIPAA/COBRA red flags. Missing small things can have big consequences, and we will manage your compliance issues and reduce costs. In addition, we handle unemployment, from filings to court hearings and appeals.
Although we are a local company with a small hometown feel, we are large and experienced enough to simplify all your needs. Our web based operations allow us to reach out to any client in the Southeast region of the United States.
5 Tips to Give an Effective Employee Evaluation
Anyone who has ever been evaluated at work - whether formally or just verbally - understands how feedback can affect your performance. Good feedback can prove what great work an employee has been doing. A bad review can tear down confidence and create friction within the workplace. However, they’re necessary monuments to keep track of performance and to keep an open line of communication between bosses and employees. As a boss, understanding how these evaluations affect performance can help you ask better questions and create better comments.
1. Stay Positive
If an employee is ineffective, mention any indiscretions, but point out positive aspects, too. By reminding them of what a good job they’re doing, you’ll help keep confidence up, which can improve performance. However, talk about areas that need improvement. After all, that’s the whole point of the evaluation. Find a way to balance both sides for an optimum outcome.
2. Take Daily/Weekly/Monthly Notes
It can be difficult to sit down and decipher an employee’s performance all in one setting. Rather than forcing yourself to remember how they’ve done over the past few months, keep a running tab. That way you can go back over your notes for specific examples and peace of mind that you’re providing accurate feedback.
3. Talk About Previous Evaluations
How has their performance changed since the last evaluation? Have things gotten worse? Did they greatly improve on areas you asked them to? Take these benchmark dates into account for the ability to provide real-time changes and how work has gotten better or worse after their previous feedback notes.
4. Be Specific
Making blanket statements won’t be very helpful, especially if a worker asks for further feedback. Be able to back up your statements, or to be able to source your comments so all parties can be on the same page about what’s being discussed. Reference that time they showed up 20 minutes late or the time they gained extra business by making an additional call.
5. Ask Employees What Information They Want
You’re often your own worst critic, and asking workers for what type of feedback they are looking for can boost confidence in areas that they feel they are lacking. Additionally, it can point out weaknesses where you might have known that they existed.
Setting up employee evaluations can be a quick and effective way to improve employee performance and gain a clear understanding of how your office is functioning as a whole. It provides your employees with helpful feedback on how they’re doing at their job. Contact Coastal Human Resources for additional info on employee evaluations. Get in touch today to learn more.
5 Things to Check on a Potential Candidate’s Facebook Profile Before Hiring Them
With the ever-growing access to social media, it’s just plain smart to use its reach in as many ways as possible. Not only are these platforms used for their original purpose: connecting with friends, they can be used for several other instances, such as advertising, and even researching new hires. Thanks to all the information that’s now public, you can learn a great deal about someone just by checking out their social media profiles.
When you’re looking to hire your next employee, take a gander into their online accounts to see just how much you can learn about them – for the better, or for determining they aren’t a great fit. Log in online to check out the following about your potential hires.
1. How They Present Themselves
While it’s true that personal and professional lives are separate, it’s also true that at some point, they can overlap. Therefore, you want to be sure you have respectful people on your team. Look at applicants’ photos, how they dress, the theme of photos, what types of posts they share and what language they use, and more. If you get an inappropriate vibe, you might quickly find they aren’t someone you need in your company.
2. What Groups They Belong to or Support
Like the above, it is true that hires have personal freedoms that won’t affect work. However, when those interests become blatantly controversial, it raises red flags. You’ll also want to look out for groups that contradict your business values.
3. Does Everything Line Up?
Do school profiles, towns, etc. all match what’s listed on their application? This can be an easy check to ensure everything is as it should be. Use LinkedIn on professional subjects to determine if their skills are endorsed by others.
4. What are Their Security Settings?
This might not gain person points or take them away. However, it’s an interesting note to see just how much of their private life they’ll let the public see through social media accounts. You can also pay attention to how adept a potential hire is at changing their settings, and more.
5. How and Where Does a Person Spend Their Time?
By taking note of check-ins, location tags, and post summaries, you can gain a good indication as to where they choose to hang out. Again, this might not make or break a decision, but if an employee is a regular barfly or club attendee, it’s something you’ll want to know about. Likewise, if they are spending their time volunteering, etc., it can paint a better person of what they have to offer as an employee.
As you begin your search to hire new workers, don’t overlook some of your very best researching tools, including social media. Take a look at accounts, profiles, and what each has to share in order to gain a better understanding of personality types. That way you can be sure to take in the right hires, even before they start the job.
5 REASONS TO AVOID PAPER TIME SHEETS
Although electronic timekeeping has been around for many years, there are still employers who use handwritten time cards. Change isn’t easy for some of us, but when it can be shown to affect profitability, the choice is easier. Here are some reasons that the bottom line may be affected by those paper time cards.
- Electronic records are more accurate. We all know people whose handwriting is horrible on a good day, and impossible on a bad one. Timekeeping based on the handwritten entries of hundreds of employees means errors on the part of the persons charged to interpret hurried writings. And how many employees do you know who seem to lose their cards on a regular basis?
- Electronic timekeeping is more efficient. Once the system is set up, automated adjustments for overtime, holiday pay, and vacation time will save calculating each group of time cards. Automated payroll cuts the time involved in finishing out the paychecks and allows the timekeeper to work more efficiently. Also, one may consider the time spent chasing down employees to verify questions about their entries.
- Employees are more accountable. When employees are responsible for writing their time on a card, it is easy to get into the habit of fudging a minute or two. Taking that phone call on break or enjoying an extra moment of conversation may become the norm. However, knowing that the time clock isn’t as forgiving means more accountability for start time and lunch breaks. On the reverse side, it gives the employee concrete data to show good performance