When your HR communication is lacking, it’s time to tackle the problem. Motivating employees is an important part of the success of your business. When you need to update how you communicate with employees, you have some options. Your overall message to your employees should be clear. You value your employees. They are important to your company. They are the driving force of your business and need to understand why your company’s purpose and strategic goals matter so much.
Share Your Core Business Beliefs
Your employees need to know the purpose of your business. This is a message that is established over time, yet is also at the center of all communication with your employees. Using messages that share your company’s purpose and business beliefs and connecting those beliefs to the everyday work your employees are doing makes a difference. Whether it is through a text message, email, or in person, you need to communicate with your employees about the ways they concretely add to the mission of your company.
Share Market Realities with Your Employees
Internal campaigns that rely on customer feedback and market knowledge provide you with the opportunity to share your business strategies with your employees through this essential lens. You will be able to use this information to create new strategies and build new business protocols based on the information received. When your employees are kept informed as to what customers are reporting.
Prioritize Your Messages
When you consider your messages that you send out to your employees, they should fall into three categories: Inspiration, Education, and Reinforcement. When you want to highlight an accomplishment of one of your employees, or you want to inspire your staff in some way, you need to share messages that create an emotional response. Building optimism within your staff is important, and this can be done through strategically sent, inspirational messages throughout the year.
Educating Your Staff
Messages that educate your staff are generally more important than those that simply inspire. These messages will explain any major decisions your company has made, and the plan for which these decisions will be carried out. In these educational messages, you can provide detailed information to your employees on how their responsibilities may change, or what you expect their contribution to be in these changes.
Messages Must Also Reinforce Earlier Messages
While you may have successfully explained the purpose of your company, your business strategy, and how this plays out in the daily workings of your business, the message needs repeating. In order to create change over time, reinforcing your messages with follow up information or inspiration is essential. Your employees are going to be able to understand your purpose more clearly when you continually reinforce what you have to say. Each message sent throughout the year should build upon previous messages, proving your employees with further reinforcement as to your business model.
About the Author
Joel Lee is the marketing specialist at Trumpia, which earned a reputation as the most complete SMS solution including user-friendly user interface and API for mobile engagement, Smart Targeting, and advanced automation. Jumpstart your business by grabbing your free copy of this powerful Mobile Marketing Success Kit.
Businesses use performance evaluations to assess their team’s work performance. These evaluations also help employers pinpoint deficiencies in work performance and determine the company’s expectations for the future. Written performance evaluations are best because a written evaluation creates a tangible record, which can be reviewed and referenced in the future.
The performance evaluation process generally involves a series of steps:
- Developing guidelines and standards against which an employee’s performance may be compared.
- Gathering appraisal information, which when analyzed against the established standards reflects the employee’s performance.
- Discussing the appraisal information with the employee.
- Documenting the evaluation process in the employee’s personnel file.
Businesses use performance evaluations for the following reasons:
- As positive communication tools to help employees improve job performance.
- In salary administration for determining merit increases.
- As regular workforce monitoring tools.
- In the disciplinary process where an employee’s job performance is unacceptable and could lead to discipline or termination.
Whether you’re looking to build a formal evaluation process or improve your existing one, this post will provide the actionable steps you need. In this post you’ll learn:
- What are the benefits of conducting regular performance reviews
- What are the types of performance evaluations
- How to conduct meaningful performance evaluations
- How to implement a formal performance evaluation process at your business
- How to ensure your performance review process is legally compliant
What are the Benefits of Conducting Regular Performance Reviews
An effective performance evaluation system can benefit your business in many ways including:
- Assess Employee Potential. An effective performance management helps business leaders make informed decisions about employee promotions and transfers. A sound performance evaluation system can also help you proactively identify employees with special skills and abilities.
- Identify Training Needs. Performance ratings help evaluate the effectiveness established training programs. Your business might design and target training programs to better address the performance problems caused by a lack of training.
- Assist in Compensation Planning. Linking pay to performance is an effective compensation strategy, especially at growing businesses. Reliable, consistent performance evaluation processes enable your business to predict future payroll costs and reward your high-performing employees.
- Identify and Correct Poor Work Performance. Performance evaluations generate discussions between employees and supervisors that identify poor work habits. During these conversations your and your employees can uncover mutually agreeable ways to correct issue areas.
- Defend Against Lawsuits. The performance evaluation process allows companies to document poor job performance. Employers depend on this documentation to defend themselves successfully against employee claims of unfair termination or disciplinary action.
- Motivate Employees. Performance evaluations can motivate employees in their efforts to meet your business’ performance standards. A positive evaluation assures the employee that your business recognizes their hard work and that they will be rewarded for exceptional performance.
What Are the Types of Performance Evaluations
When it comes to conducting performance evaluations, there are several different methodologies your business might opt to leverage. Some of the most popular ones are elaborated on below.
The rating scale method provides a high degree of structure for evaluations. The scale rates employee traits or characteristics on a bipolar scale where there is a neutral point and the two ends of the scale are at opposite positions of the opinion, ranging from “poor” to “excellent.”
The characteristics evaluated on these scales include employee attributes such as the following:
- Communication ability
- Work skills competence
An employer can select which traits to rate based on factors that are relevant to performance of the employment position. Proper selection of traits may protect against legal action based on a claim of discrimination.
In the essay method approach, the supervisor or manager prepares a written statement about the employee being evaluated. The essay describes specific strengths and weaknesses of the evaluated employee in job performance. It also includes suggestions for courses of action to correct any problem(s) identified in the evaluation. The statement may be written and edited by the supervisor or manager alone. It may also be composed in collaboration with the employee who is evaluated.
Management by objectives (MBO) performance evaluation is results-oriented. It attempts to measure employee performance by examining the extent to which employees meet predetermined work objectives. The objectives are usually established jointly by the supervisors and employees. Once an objective is established, the employee is usually expected to identify the skills needed to achieve the objective. Employees do not rely on their manager to locate and specify their strengths and weaknesses. They are expected to monitor their own development and progress toward achieving the objective.
How to Conduct Meaningful Performance Evaluations
Many businesses have ineffective performance evaluation processes that result in little insights for the leadership team to reward high-performers, address performance issues, and make other informed business decisions. Here are some key things to keep in mind to ensure your evaluation process is effective:
In order to be effective, performance reviews must be honest and candid. Although supervisors may be unduly harsh on employees during an evaluation, excessive leniency occurs much more often. It’s a good idea to note and praise good work done by an employee in the past. However, the evaluation must also identify any issue areas in employee performance. Defending a wrongful termination suit is extremely difficult if the reason for termination was a problem that existed for an extended period of time and was not noted on the employee’s performance evaluations. The employer’s case is further damaged when the employee received favorable performance evaluations, including favorable remarks on the categories of performance that are later involved in the reasons for termination.
Uniformity Among Supervisors
An employer should always monitor managers as they conduct performance evaluations, making sure the process is uniform throughout the organization. If your process lacks uniformity, supervisors in one department may give more favorable (or harsh) evaluations than those in another department. When these inconsistencies occur, it is difficult for an employer to defend against wrongful termination because the suit could attack the credibility of the business’ evaluation system.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Each evaluation must include a discussion of the employee’s strengths and weaknesses. Evaluations should include deserved compliments (rather than only criticism) to be fair, balanced, and objective.
Giving constructive criticism in performance evaluations also has advantages. Some constructive criticism of good employees may help lay the groundwork for negative evaluations of those employees in the future if their overall performance deteriorates. This is particularly true when an employee brings a wrongful termination suit after an unfavorable performance evaluation. When defending against a wrongful termination suit, it may be helpful for the employer to demonstrate that the employee was previously criticized for some of those same faults (which triggered the termination) on prior evaluations, even though the problem perhaps was in its infancy at that time and did not warrant an overall negative evaluation.
How to Implement a Formal Performance Evaluation Process at Your Business
If you’d like to launch a formal employee performance evaluation process or refine your existing one, consider providing the following:
- Clear written instructions to all managers involved in the evaluation process.
- Relevant training for supervisors and human resource leaders involved in the evaluation process to ensure complete understanding of all employee job duties.
- A job-related performance evaluation system.
- Reasonable precautions to guard against improper bias by the evaluating supervisor or manager.
- A procedure that includes multiple levels of review and approval of the evaluation.
- Central monitoring by human resources to ensure uniform performance rating standards among all supervisors and managers conducting the evaluations.
- A procedure that allows the employee to comment or respond to the evaluation.
- A procedure providing the employee with an appeal process of a poor evaluation, within a reasonable time after the evaluation.
- A procedure requiring the supervisor to identify specific performance goals as part of the evaluation process.
How to Ensure Your Performance Review Process is Legally Compliant
Federal civil rights and state fair employment practice laws are in place to prohibit employers from implementing performance evaluation systems that discriminate against employees based on race, color, religion, gender, national origin, or disability. To avoid liability, your business must ensure that its supervisors and managers base their performance evaluation judgments solely on job-related factors.
In determining whether performance evaluation systems are discriminatory, courts generally apply the same standards used to determine whether employee selection procedures and tests are discriminatory. Under such standards, a performance evaluation system is nondiscriminatory if it is both valid and reliable. When the system does not satisfy both requirements, the discriminatory impact of the improper factors might cause the system to violate one or more federal or state laws.
Valid and reliable performance evaluation programs normally share the following characteristics:
- The performance evaluation program is formal and in writing.
- Ratings are reviewed to ensure that high and low ratings are documented with information demonstrating what the employee did or did not do to earn the rating. Reviews also look for statistical patterns of adverse ratings and evidence that a supervisor needs more training rating employees.
- The evaluation relates to the particular job in question. This means that employees are not rated on items that are irrelevant to job performance. An evaluator who must use a preprinted form that is not specific to the job should have the option of checking “not applicable.”
- The evaluator is familiar with the employee’s job duties and actual performance. Evaluators should be allowed to state or check “not observed” when necessary.
- Employees must read their evaluations, sign the evaluation to acknowledge their reading of the evaluation, and have the opportunity to provide written commentary on the evaluation.
- Evaluations are not final until employees have the opportunity to comment.
- Higher-level management reviews all evaluations.
- Supervisors receive training in evaluating employees.
- Evaluators receive clear written instructions as to the implementation of the evaluation.
- Evaluation forms are as clear and simple as possible.
- Definitions and examples are included to clarify the scope and meaning of various rating categories.
- Standards or expectations are identified clearly for each aspect of performance and are communicated to the employee.
- Employees have input in setting performance expectations.
- The relative importance of each aspect of performance is communicated.
- The primary goal of the evaluation is to enable employees to improve. Evaluators help an employee recognize strengths and weaknesses and help employees develop plans for improvement.
If you enjoyed this post don’t forget to register for our upcoming webinar “How to Have a Successful Open Enrollment.”
Quarter four can be a stressful time of year for businesses. A particularly stressful quarter four responsibility is dealing with year-end payroll procedures. Here at Launchways, we understand year-end payroll procedures can be complex and time-consuming. That’s why we decided to put together a simplified payroll checklist to help you tackle year-end payroll like a pro.
Year-End Payroll Checklist*
1. Check employee and employer data:
- Verify the employer and employee data that is used in processing your quarterly tax reports and W-2s. view the “Quarterly Tax Verification Letter” is the document which displays this critical data.
- To which employees does the “retirement plan” indicator in Box 13 of Form W-2 apply?
- Confirm that employee names and Social Security numbers are in the correct format.
2. Check wage, tax and benefits data:
- Confirm that deferred compensation plan type is correct and verify employee contribution amounts.
- Check that Group-Term Life Insurance adjustments have been updated and submitted.
- Ensure that other special tax items have been updated and submitted, such as Other Compensation, Third-Party Sick Pay, Employee Business Expense Reimbursements, Taxable Fringe Benefits, Tip Allocation information, and Dependent Care Benefits.
- Verify the employer state unemployment insurance tax rate and taxable wage limit for each state.
- Compute uncollected Social Security and Medicare taxes for retirees and former employees.
- Verify that withholding has been made properly, or withhold from the final paycheck for taxable fringe benefits. These may include:
- Group-term life insurance in excess of $50,000
- Third-party sick pay (is the third party issuing a W-2?)
- Personal use of company vehicle
- Non-qualified moving expense reimbursements
- Company-provided transportation or parking
- Employer-paid education not related to the employee’s job
- Non-accountable business expense reimbursements or allowances
- Non-cash payments
3. Check for special procedures:
- Schedule any special bonus payrolls for the current year.
- Request any special reports needed for year end.
- Ensure adequate payroll supplies to complete the year and to begin the new year, including blank checks, payroll forms and blank Forms W-2.
- Determine whether all adjustments are applied or that an adjustment payroll has been scheduled.
- Remind employees to fill out a new Form W-4 if their situation has changed.
- Obtain new Forms W-5 for Advance Earned Income Credit (EIC) for the new year.
- Confirm that all “manual” checks written during the year have been accounted for and updated in the system.
- Determine that all voided or reversed paychecks have been accounted for in the system.
*Please note: this checklist is meant to provide basic guidelines only. Payroll procedures and requirements will vary business to business.
Looking for extra payroll support? Launchways is here to help. Connect with a Launchways team member today to learn more about our payroll outsourcing solutions.
The W-4 form is used by employers to withhold the proper amount of federal income taxes from employees’ paychecks. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recommends that employees submit a new W-4 every year or anytime their financial situation changes significantly. The IRS recently published a preliminary draft of the new W-4 form for 2019. The finalized version of the new W-4 form will likely come out by the end of the summer.
The recent federal tax overhaul significantly changed how individual income taxes are calculated. This directly effects the method for figuring out withholding, meaning employers needed an updated W-4 to ensure calculations would be correct. In an ideal world, if an employee follows the instructions on the W-4, it will determine a withholding amount close to their income tax liability. Although it’s not an exact science, the new W-9 form aims to closely mirror the new tax code so that employee withholdings will be accurate.
Major Tax Changes
Although the official final draft of the new W-9 form has yet to be released, the preliminary draft has several key withholding changes including:
- Method of structuring withholding: the approach to withholding will change significantly, with more emphasis being put on individual income tax liability rather than the number of allowances.
- Incremental tax rates: in the new W-4 form, it prompts the highest paying job in the household to disclose any additional family income, including tax credits individuals anticattle claiming.
- Online aids: the IRS plans to offer an online withholding calculator for employees who don’t want to disclose their financial information to their employer or who have more complex tax situations.
- New W-4s not required: the IRS plans to encourage the use of the W-4, but not mandate it. New withholding methods will be designed to be backwards compatible with previously filed W-4s.
- New hires: employees who do not sign a W-4 as new hires will calculate withholding as though single, claiming no adjustments.
- Detailed instructions: the IRS will provide a detailed instruction page to assist employees in filling out the new W-4.
What Should Employers Do
As an employer, you should take the following steps:
- Wait on the final word from the IRS on the new withholding rules and W-4 form.
- Support the new withholding methodologies and use the new W-4 form, even though it’s not required.
- Ensure withholding are adjusted appropriately for employees who choose to complete a new W-4.
- Stay alert for the finalized withholding structure and new W-4 form for 2019. Ensure your payroll system can support the requirements.
- Make sure to double-check state tax code changes. Oftentimes when there is a major federal tax withholding change, states will have to decide how to adapt to the federal process.
As a business owner, you are responsible for ensuring your business complies with all state and federal regulations. However, it isn’t easy keeping track of all the different laws your business must comply with. One of the more complex federal regulations your business may be responsible for complying with is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
If you’re struggling to understand your business’ responsibility to comply with the FMLA, you’ve come to the right place. This post will help you understand the ins-and-outs of the FMLA so you can ensure you’re compliant.
In this post you’ll learn:
- What is the FMLA?
- Which Companies Must Comply With FMLA
- Which Employees Are Eligible for FMLA
- Reasons Employees are Entitled to FMLA Leave
- What are your obligations as an employer?
What is the FMLA?
The Family and Medical Leave Act, also known as the FMLA, was first enacted in 1993 to allow employees to take extended unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons. The FMLA aims to help employees balance the pressures of the workplace with the needs of their families.
The FMLA permits employees to take a maximum of 12 or 26 weeks, job-protected, unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons during a 12 month period. The FMLA outlines the specific circumstances that allow employers to be covered and eligible for leave. It also protects employees that elect to take leave from retaliation from their employer.
The act also prohibits employers from preventing or denying employees the rights guaranteed under the FMLA. FMLA violations can be brought to court by the U.S. Department of Labor to enforce compliance. Employees can also also bring civil action lawsuits against employers found guilty of violating the FMLA.
Which Companies Must Comply With FMLA
Companies must comply with the FMLA only if they had at least 50 employees for at least 20 weeks in the current or previous year. Although smaller employers don’t have to comply with the FMLA, they may be liable for similar state laws.
Which Employees Are Eligible for FMLA
An employee must have worked for at least a year and worked for at least 1,250 hours during the prior year, to be eligible for FMLA leave.
Reasons Employees are Entitled to FMLA Leave
One of the biggest areas of confusion around the FMLA is what circumstances cause the FMLA to kick-in. Reasons employees can take leave under the FMLA include:
-Inability to work due to pregnancy, prenatal medical care, or child birth.
-To care for a newborn child, to care for a recently adopted child, or to care for a recently placed foster child.
-To care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition.
-For a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform their job.
-Eligible employees with a spouse, child, or parent on covered active duty or call to active duty status in the National Guard or Reserves or regular Armed Forces, may use their 12-week leave entitlement to address certain qualifying needs.
-To care for a covered injured service member.
In addition, FMLA leave can be intermittent. Intermittent leave is often overlooked by managers who are not well-versed on the FMLA policy. FMLA covers intermittent leave for:
-Mental health conditions.
-Caring for a child or family member with a serious health condition.
-Leave for treatments, physical therapy, etc.
-Reduced schedules/hours due to restrictions, treatments, or caring for family members.
What are your obligations as an employer?
As an employer, you have several obligations under the FMLA including:
- You must send employees communications notifying the employee whether they’re eligible for FMLA
- If you receive a leave request, you’re required to tell the employee whether you’re going to designate the time as proper leave within five days of receiving the request
- You must track and record all FMLA time used
- You must keep all health information related to FMLA requests confidential
- You must reinstate employees to the same or an equivalent position when they return from leave
It’s important to note that it is illegal to retaliate against employees who exercise their right to take FMLA. This means you cannot hold protected absences against employees in any way. When you’re thinking about promotions, training opportunities, or raises, you must assume employees on leave had perfect attendance and job performance during FMLA-covered time.
Whether you’re pre or post-funding, hiring top talent on a growing business’ budget is challenging. Larger organizations can offer candidates lucrative salaries, stability, and expensive perks. However, there are several strategies you can use to hire great talent while keeping costs down.
In today’s post we’ll explore five ways you can build a top team on a budget. We’ll cover:
- Leveraging independent contractors, interns, and part-time hires
- Seeking out non-traditional employees
- Offering low-cost high-impact employee benefits
- Offering equity
- Aligning compensation with company performance
Leveraging independent contractors, interns, and part-time hires
In cases when you can put off bringing in a full-time team member, an independent contractor or freelancer may be the best option. For example, you might contract a developer to mobile-optimize your website or build an app for your product. In these cases, hiring a full-time team member doesn’t make sense. Contract employees allow you to leverage a wide range of talent without committing to hiring a full-time employee.
Consider contracting commission-only salespeople or manufacturer’s reps if you’re not ready for a full-time sales hire. Another great idea is to hire freelance marketers to write and promote content for your blog or to execute your social media strategy.
Sites like Upwork and Guru can help you find freelancers to fit your budget.
If you need extra help but aren’t quite ready to bring a full-time staff member into the role, a part-time hire may be a great option. There are many highly-skilled individuals looking for part-time work. A part-time hire allows you to get the help you need while also remaining payroll-friendly.
While interns may require guidance and coaching, there are several areas they have natural strengths in. As part of Generation Z, most interns are highly skilled in social media and online presence. If you partner with local colleges, you can find interns in nearly any field from marketing, to accounting, to software development. You may choose to make your internships unpaid or paid. Paid interns can receive an hourly wage or stipend. It’s important to understand that although interns can be valuable, low-cost team members, they will need significantly more guidance than traditional employees.
Seek out non-traditional employees
When recruiting talent, may business owners make the mistake of overlooking non-traditional employees. Non-traditional employees might include those who are not currently working, those looking to re-enter the workforce, older employees, or employees who are outside of your industry.
While non-traditional employees are often overlooked, these individuals present a unique opportunity for your business. Often they are extremely eager to work and will go above-and-beyond for your business. It’s also not uncommon for their salary expectations to be more in-line with what a startup can afford.
You can leverage LinkedIn to source and outreach to non-traditional employees.
Offering low-cost high-impact employee benefits
People, especially Millennials, are willing to sacrifice a higher salary to work somewhere they truly enjoy working. Making your company a great place to work can be your secret weapon in the struggle to hire and retain the best talent. Offering attractive employee benefits and team perks is a great way to improve workplace satisfaction and attract top talent to your company.
Some business owners have the misconception that they need significant funds to afford expensive employee perks. However, there are many low-to-no cost methods you can utilize to transform your company into a sought-after workplace. Some great options include:
- Flexible scheduling: allow your employees to work non-traditional hours. For example, an employee with a flexible schedule might work 10:00am-6:00pm or 8:00am-4:00pm. Another example of flexible scheduling is to allow your employees to come in late or leave early on some days without taking PTO. Many employees see flexible scheduling as a huge value add as it allows them to take care of their families while also balancing their workload.
- Remote working: allow team members to work remotely, either some of the time or all of the time. Offering a remote working arrangement doesn’t cost your business anything but is seen as an attractive perk by potential employees.
- Casual dress: nowadays most employees don’t want to put on a suit every morning to go to work. Offering casual dress and a relaxed work environment can make your business a more attractive place to work for younger talent.
- Standing desks: having standing work areas in your office requires a small financial investment up front but can be a huge value-add to your employees. Many Millennials realize that “sitting is the new smoking,” and appreciate a work environment that encourages healthy behaviors.
- Bring your dog to work: if your office space accommodates it, allowing employees to bring their dog to work is another no-cost way to appeal to great talent. For employees with a dog, being able to bring their dog with them to work not only gives them piece of mind but also saves them significant costs on pet care.
- Food and drink freebies: offering your team free snacks, soda, or coffee can help boost morale and make your company a great place to work.
- Team meals: whether it’s once a week or once a month, offering a free catered meal to your team is an attractive benefit.
- Corporate responsibility: give employees dedicated paid time off to volunteer on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis. Nowadays, employees are looking for a workplace that affords them a greater purpose in life. Instilling opportunities for volunteerism can make your company more attractive to purpose-driven employees.
While larger companies attract employees with lucrative salaries and stability, startups afford their employees the opportunity to directly reap the rewards of the company’s financial success via equity in the business. Equity is a unique bargaining tactic startups possess that larger organizations don’t, and it should be leveraged accordingly.
If a particular candidate is risk-for-reward driven, they will often forgo a higher salary now for the promise of potentially greater financial rewards in the future. Not to mention, financial equity aligns your team with the company’s long-term objectives. As such, aim to actively involve these team members in important business decisions moving forward.
Aligning compensation with company performance
Another strategy to hire great talent when your cash flows are tight is to offer a lower salary upfront, but with the promise of incremental salary increases in the short-term future. For example, you might offer an employee 60% rate of market compensation up front but include the opportunity for 80% market salary within one year if a financial company milestone is met.
You might also structure employee salaries with a below-market base but the option for a significant year-end bonus if your company’s financial goal is met. Aligning compensation with company performance keep costs down and aligns employee interests with company goals.
In today’s post we explored several ways you can hire great talent on a budget. Some key takeaways include:
- In cases when a full-time hire doesn’t make sense yet, contractors, part-time hires, and interns can be cost-effective options
- Non-traditional employees can be skilled hires willing to accept lower salaries in exchange for experience at your company
- You don’t need a large budget to offer high-impact employee perks like flexible hours, remote work, or causal dress
- Equity can entice top talent to forgo a larger salary up front in exchange for the opportunity for future gains
- Structure incremental performance-based salary increases into employee compensation
What methods do you use to attract and hire great talent on a tight budget? Drop your ideas in the comments box below.