Reacting v. Responding in Difficult Employer Situations

Employers often have to make tough decisions based on certain situations that may arise in the company. When interacting with employees, the employer must balance what is best for the company and what is best for the people within that company. An excellent method for achieving the optimal result in these types of situations is to respond rather than react. By highlighting the difference between the two and applying this method to specific situations, an employer can see the benefit of always responding versus reacting. 

The Difference Between the Two

While seeming similar, there is a large difference in the exemplification of reacting and responding. A reaction is instantaneous. Reactions are based on beliefs, biases, and prejudices of the subconscious mind. Think of the phrase ‘knee-jerk reaction’. When you say or do something without thinking, usually tied to emotions such as anger or guilt, that is an example of a reaction. Reactions are made in the moment and do not take into account the long-term effects of what you do or say.

Responding, on the other hand, comes from the result of thoughtfulness, reflection, and consideration of the relevant factors involved in the situation. It weighs the long-term effects and more accurately represents what you believe is best to achieve the balance between the worker and the business. Understanding the difference between responding and reacting and applying that too difficult employer situations can create more favorable outcomes for your company.

Upset Employees 

For the first example, an employee comes into their employer’s office upset about issue x and is threatening to quit. This is never news that an employer wants to hear. An employer could react in various ways: tell them to leave, get defensive, shrug the news off nonchalantly, etc. These are examples of immediate, emotional reactions that an employer may find themselves showing if they do not watch themselves.

Instead, the employer should aim to respond thoughtfully to the upset employee. Asking questions, gaining information, and looking for solutions are examples of positive responses to give. Or, on the flip-side, if the best response is to let the employee leave, then that is acceptable as long as it came from an area of thought and not a knee-jerk reaction.

Low Performance

An employee has been underperforming in their duties and it is hurting the finances of the company. Reactions to this include immediately calling the employee into the office and scolding them, financially threatening them, firing them, etc. Responses take more time to craft, however. Think about if the employee brings more to the company than pure financial gains. Consider if they bring a sense of humor or morale to the rest of the team. After taking notable factors into account, the employer should call the employee into the office and talk to them and figure out what solution is going to be best for the business and the employee.

Conclusion

Employers make important decisions that affect the livelihoods of those around them, most notably the employees. By taking the time to respond rather than react, an employer is better able to control their direct actions in difficult situations and achieve optimal results. If you are a business owner and find yourself in a difficult employer situation, remember to respond rather than react in order to achieve the best results for both the company and your employees.

Easy Time Clock ™   is a cloud-based time and attendance system that provides a comprehensive, accurate, and affordable solution allowing employees to clock in and out with a computer, mobile device, or biometric reader.

What Distinguishes Project Managing from Micromanaging?

A project manager is required to ensure that employees stay focused and on schedule. A project manager is required to motivate employees and to drive a project toward its completion. There comes a tipping point, however, where project management becomes micromanagement and the expected value of having a project overseer becomes negative. Management is a balancing act; finding the perfect equilibrium between micromanaging and not managing at all can lead to success for the entire team. Leaning too far one way or the other is a certain recipe for losing your team all together.

Project Management Versus Micromanagement

A project manager is responsible for assigning individual tasks and corresponding due dates to members of the team. It is also the responsibility of the project manager to ensure that each individual team member is qualified and able to complete their designated tasks.

Micromanaging, however, describes the close involvement of the supervisor with team members. In order for the project to make it through to completion in a timely fashion, micromanagers feel that they need to be involved, in great detail, with each individual aspect of the project.

Pros and Cons

Despite the poor reputation, loose micromanagement could be beneficial for on-boarding new employees. New employees may benefit from having a supervisor nearby who can answer questions or explain processes. If new policies or procedures are put in place, it may benefit even experienced employees to have a supervisor nearby to ensure that a project is completed in a timely fashion and in correspondence with new rules or procedures.

The downside to micromanaging is that it can hinder the speedy completion of a project or, in some cases, it can inhibit the ideal results of the project. For example, if a micromanager has a specific methodology that disallows brainstorming or the possibility of creating a new process, then that micromanager may never achieve the best possible results from a project and customers may ultimately suffer the consequences.

Rule of Thumb

 As a project manager, there will always be multiple tasks that you are going to need to juggle at one time. You should prioritize where your attention should go by where it’s needed most. If you have successfully staffed a group of competent individuals that you trust to complete the project on time without your detailed involvement in each individual process, then there’s no need to micromanage every team member or aspect of a project.

Easy Time Clock ™   is a cloud-based time and attendance system that provides a comprehensive, accurate, and affordable solution allowing employees to clock in and out with a computer, mobile device, or biometric reader.

How to Motivate Your Employees

How employees look at their jobs greatly affects their performance in the workplace. Low job satisfaction leads to high turnover which can cost the company up to 150% of an employee’s yearly salary. High job satisfaction can lead to increased productivity and behaviors that exceed the call of duty. By motivating employees in the proper ways, employees are more satisfied in their jobs which is positive for all parties involved.

Meet Employee Needs

It is important for employee retention that their needs are continually met. An employer should assess what an employee’s needs are and try to accommodate them. In relation to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, an employer should try to help an employee meet their esteem and self-actualization needs. Other needs also include the need for achievement and affiliation. These needs, when met, increase job satisfaction and motivate employees to do better work.

Keep Employees Satisfied

Keeping employees satisfied is based on increasing motivators and decreasing negative factors. By giving employees opportunities for achievement, recognition, stimulating work, responsibility, and advancement, they become satisfied with their work, increasing job satisfaction.

On the flip side, what is potentially even more important is decreasing negative factors that could hinder employee satisfaction. Negative factors such as poor company policies and administration, salary, interpersonal relationships, and working conditions can severely hurt work productivity.

Treat Employees Fairly

Fairness is determined by comparing equity ratios of outcomes to inputs. This can be illustrated in equal pay for equal work and keeping ratios equal. But another factor to keep in mind is it is perceived fairness over what is reality that affects employee performance. Perceptions of unfairness lead to less motivation, anger, and dissatisfaction. Managers should proactively manage employees’ perceptions of equity and fairness. This applies to how resources and rewards are distributed, how procedures make allocation decisions, and the quality of the interpersonal treatment people receive when procedures are implemented.

Manage Employee Expectations

Managing employee expectations comes down to convincing them of the relationship between effort, performance, and outcome. If your employees put in the effort, their performance should increase, therefore, the long-term outcome should be positive. This can take shape in rewarding employees who have been exceeding expectations by putting in the effort and demonstrating strong performance levels.

Help Employees Set SMART Goals

Employees should be encouraged to set goals for themselves that follow the SMART acronym. Goals should be Specific and quantifiable; it should be clear when the goal is met. Goals should be Measurable, meaning progress should be measurable throughout the process. Goals should be Attainable and realistic; make sure they are possible. Goals should have specific Results in mind. Finally, goals should be Time-bound; there needs to be a deadline in order that the employee is always working towards it. These five guidelines help set SMART goals that increase workplace performance.

Conclusion

Employers need to motivate their employees in the proper ways in order to maximize employee potential. By meeting employee needs, keeping employees satisfied, treating employees fairly, managing employee expectations, and helping employees set SMART goals, a manager can encourage exceptional performance and reduce turnover. Everyone benefits when an employer motivates their employees the proper way. By working to follow these motivational guidelines, you can increase your employees’ motivation and create a better working environment for everyone involved.

Easy Time Clock ™   is a cloud-based time and attendance system that provides a comprehensive, accurate, and affordable solution allowing employees to clock in and out with a computer, mobile device, or biometric reader.

The Importance of Life Insurance

What is insurance?  This simple question is a baseline of why it is so important to have it.  Insurance is a financial safety net for when bad things happen.  We insure our vehicles, our homes, and our health so that we do not have to pay as much out of pocket when things go wrong.

But life insurance is different.  We purchase life insurance policies for the benefit of others, not ourselves.  There are no bills after death, only for those left behind.  Life insurance is an important risk management tool that will allow your loved ones to be more financially stable after your passing, especially if the you bring income into the home.

Life insurance can help a family pay for medical expenses.  Often there are medical expenses associated with one’s final days, whether it be medication or hospital stays.  Life insurance can help keep these types of expenses manageable for a family.

Another set of expenses that need to be kept in mind are the costs of the funeral and place of burial.  These have a wide range of prices, but life insurance can help ensure that the family does not have to pay out of pocket for the services associated with paying last respects.

What many parents also like to have covered by their life insurance policy is an inheritance for their children.  Leaving something behind it important to many people, and a life insurance policy can help ensure that something is being left behind for the children.  Depending on the age of the children, this can help save for their higher education or their own life expenses as adults.

There is also just standard living expenses for a family that has lost one of the breadwinners.  Expenses such as mortgages, food, and clothing are all important to keep in mind.  A life insurance policy can be an important safety net to bring peace of mind.

Bills don’t care if we are dead or alive.  Life insurance policies are important because they help those that are left behind take care of final expenses and life expenses moving forward.  We don’t buy life insurance for ourselves, we do it for those that we love to spare them unnecessary financial burden.  If you are an adult without life insurance, greatly consider purchasing some to help those around you.  If you do have life insurance, give it a second look to make sure that it is enough.  The sooner you do, the easier it is for everyone involved.

Easy Time Clock ™   is a cloud-based time and attendance system that provides a comprehensive, accurate, and affordable solution allowing employees to clock in and out with a computer, mobile device, or biometric reader.

Insurance Benefits Companies Can Offer to Their Employees

There are many factors that we consider where we would like to work. Other than directly getting paid, the benefits they offer can be one of the greatest incentives to go work for a particular company. Benefits can help a company look more attractive to potential workers by lowering their expenses rather than offering higher pay. These are some of the insurance benefits you may come across with potential companies.

  • Health Insurance

In regards to insurance benefits, nothing is more common as an incentive than a company offering health insurance. It is tax deductible for the business and lowers costs for their employees. Everyone benefits.

  • Dental Insurance

Dental insurance is less common but highly sought after. Whether you have a high immune system or are constantly getting sick, everyone knows it is recommended to go twice annually for check-ups. Dental issues that go undetected and untreated can turn into major issues which is why this insurance benefit is seen as quite valuable.

  • Vision Insurance

As we get older, our eyesight begins to deteriorate. This can have a significant impact on our work. Even minor vision issues have been shown to slow work productivity by up to 20%, so this is an insurance benefit that can keep efficiency in the workplace high.

  • Life Insurance

The life insurance benefits companies offer is usually equal to a percentage of or equal to a year’s salary. This is the one benefit no one wants to cash in, but it is a considerable benefit to have some of those related costs be covered by the employer.

  • Short Term Disability & Long Term Disability

If you get hurt off the job and will need time off to recover, this is a benefit that will lessen the blow of not being able to work. Short term disability usually is offered for leaves lasting 3 months to a year and still offer around 70-80% of regular pay.

Long term disability can be offered for 1-3 years of leave with 60-75% of what you make. When you aren’t able to work, it can feel like you will lose control of your finances. This benefit from employers can make that seem much more manageable.

Easy Time Clock ™   is a cloud-based time and attendance system that provides a comprehensive, accurate, and affordable solution allowing employees to clock in and out with a computer, mobile device, or biometric reader.

The Skinny on Net Neutrality

Net neutrality has become a hot topic in the news in recent months as Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai repealed a 2015 decision to change how the internet was handled on the federal level. While this issue affects every internet user, many in the public do not fully understand what has happened and what state the internet is currently in.

What is Net Neutrality?

Net neutrality is the concept that internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all data equally. Under net neutrality, ISPs cannot slow down, also known as throttling, or charge internet users differently based on how they use their data or what services they use online. The FCC is the official government body that oversees this issue.

For example, in 2004 The Madison River Communications Company was fined by the FCC for restricting access to the website of rival company Vonage. This demonstrates a violation of net neutrality because the company was not allowing their users unregulated access to all websites.

Legal History

As the internet began surging in popularity in the late 1990s and into the 2000s, it was largely an unregulated wild west where ISPs could provide whatever services they saw fit. By default, the internet fell under Title I of the Communications Act of 1934, classifying it under general provisions. This classification is what left most internet regulation to the free market.

This changed in 2010 when the FCC issued the FCC Open Internet Order. This set a standard of four net neutrality principles:

  • Transparency, meaning consumers have the right to know basic performance characteristics of their network
  • No blocking, meaning an ISP cannot block websites discriminately
  • A level playing field, meaning websites cannot pay for higher web speeds from ISPs
  • Network Management, meaning networks are still allowed to offer different tiers of internet speed that still follow the universality of net neutrality

These would be watched by an internet advisory committee to make sure ISPs were compliant.

In 2014, the U.S. court of appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled in favor of Verizon Wireless in a lawsuit against the FCC. The court found that the regulations under the Open Internet Order could not be applied to the internet because it was still under Title I. To enforce the provisions, the internet would need to be changed to be regulated under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, placing it under common carrier.

In 2015, the FCC made that change. By changing the internet’s classification to that of a public utility, the FCC could enforce their net neutrality regulations. The recent decision at the end of 2017 reversed that decision, causing the internet to revert back to Title I and leaving the majority of its regulation to ISPs. The internet is currently in the state it was prior to the 2015 decision.

Arguments for and against Net Neutrality

Supporters of net neutrality claim to want to ensure the FCC regulate the control of data ISPs have, maintain digital rights and freedoms for all, prevent blocking or throttling of certain websites (especially that of competitors), and ensure equal treatment on the internet for all.

Those against the regulations claim that they choke technological investments, deter competition by hindering the growth of small ISPs, and add unnecessary costs that are passed to the consumers that come from unnecessary regulation.

Conclusion

The internet is currently the same service we have immensely enjoyed the last couple decades. The internet did not come crashing down when these regulations were rolled away. Aspects of net neutrality still survive; the federal government is just much less able to regulate. It is now the responsibility of us as consumers to be cautious of internet service providers to ensure that the internet remain fair for all and that the level playing field be maintained.

Easy Time Clock ™   is a cloud-based time and attendance system that provides a comprehensive, accurate, and affordable solution allowing employees to clock in and out with a computer, mobile device, or biometric reader.

Best Practices: Managing Employer Health Insurance

In today’s working environment, offering a competitive employee benefit package is essential for companies who wish to recruit and retain high quality employees. However, it is also important that business owners control the costs associated with competitive healthcare packages. Business owners often experience difficulty settling on a package that offers the optimal balance of affordability and ambition. The following best practices will outline the ideal approaches for employers who wish to offer optimal healthcare packages to employees, while controlling the costs associated with those packages.

A Proactive Approach

The number of times that employees visit the doctor’s office is directly correlated with the cost associated with employer health insurance premiums. Employers can address this cost by encouraging employees to take a proactive approach toward their health. Employers can offer gym memberships or discounts on gym memberships, provide employees with healthy diet information or even provide healthy lunch options for employees.

Further, employers can address this issue within the structure of the healthcare package. Employers can limit the number of visits to health care providers that are not considered medical necessities. For instance, employers can limit the number of times that employees are eligible to visit chiropractors or other physical therapists within a given time frame. Addressing the structure of the package without altering the key coverage area standards allow employers to offer health care packages that adhere to the Affordable Care Act guidelines while still controlling cost.

Consumer Driven Health Plans

Many businesses are saving money by offering their employees consumer driven health plans (CDHP). CDHPs allow employees to maintain flexibility of their health coverage and shift much of the cost associate with employer health insurance to the employee. These plans are high deductible health plans with low premiums. Employees who choose these plans often pair the plan with a Health Savings Account (HSA). HSAs are savings accounts that employees, and their employers, make monthly contributions toward to pay for medical expenses.

The benefit of CDHPs with HSAs is that employees who take advantage of these options often give more consideration toward the treatment that they choose to receive. If employees are controlling the amount of money that they’re contributing to their medical care, they’ll be more considerate of the amount of money that they’re spending on treatment and, perhaps, more discerning.

By following these best practices, business owners can continue to recruit high quality employees by offering competitive healthcare packages and also controlling the costs associated with those packages.

Easy Time Clock ™   is a cloud-based time and attendance system that provides a comprehensive, accurate, and affordable solution allowing employees to clock in and out with a computer, mobile device, or biometric reader.

How to Receive a FULL Tax Deduction for Employer Health Insurance

Small business owners can receive a full deductible on their tax returns for health insurance premiums paid for employees or shareholders as opposed to having those premiums eliminated or limited as an itemized deduction. This can result in major income tax savings of up to 40% of premiums paid. However, it should be noted that the IRS rules and restrictions are stringent and small business owners must comply in order to receive a full deductible for premiums paid toward group health insurance. This article will outline some of the Do’s and Don’ts associated with the regulations imposed by the IRS that employers must adhere to in order to receive the maximum tax benefit.

DO’s

  • Acquire Qualified Healthcare Coverage- Small business owners can verify that they are receiving qualified health insurance by obtaining insurance through a reputable agency or by visiting the healthcare marketplace at www.healthcare.gov. Small business owners can avoid penalties by ensuring that they and their employees or shareholders are covered under a qualified health insurer.
  • Report Premiums Paid on W-2 form- Small business owners must report healthcare related expenses paid on their W-2 forms when filing taxes in order to receive a full deductible. Small business owners must also ensure that they’ve been paying premiums toward group insurance in order to qualify for the full deductible as opposed to having the payments severely restricted as an itemized deduction.
  • Disclose All Pre-existing Ailments and Conditions to Insurer- Disclosing all pre-existing conditions could cause a spike in the cost of premiums, however, by being upfront with insurers, small business owners can avoid cancellation of coverage and avoid large unexpected costs that they may otherwise face later on.

Don’ts

  • Reimburse Employees for Individual Health Insurance Premiums Paid- The IRS views this practice as a means of small business owners circumventing employer health insurance regulations. Business owners must offer group insurance to their employees and if employees decline that group insurance, employers may not reimburse employees for individual health plans. Doing so can result in massive penalties, for business owners, enforced by the IRS.
  • Don’t Discriminate- Small business owners with less than 50 employees are not legally required to offer health insurance to their employees. However, if a small business owner does choose to offer health insurance to any of his/her employees, then he/she must offer the same coverage to all employees.

Business owners who follow these practices should be able to safely avoid any tax penalties that they may otherwise be subject to as constituted by the rules set forth from the IRS. Those business owners may also qualify to receive a full deductible from the IRS.

Easy Time Clock ™   is a cloud-based time and attendance system that provides a comprehensive, accurate, and affordable solution allowing employees to clock in and out with a computer, mobile device, or biometric reader.

How Inferior Cyber Security Affects Small Businesses

Why Even Small Businesses Must Worry About Cyber Attacks

Everyone remembers the effect that security breaches have had on large corporations like Target and Home Depot. However, most small business owners don’t consider the potential impact that a security breach could have on them. Reports of small legal offices and online retailers being hacked has led many small businesses to the brink of bankruptcy. Most small business owners assume that they aren’t in danger of falling victim to cyber crimes because they assume that hackers wouldn’t want, or have use for, their data.

However, Most small business owners don’t recognize that they’re actually the perfect target in the eyes of many hackers. Personal information like social security numbers, credit card numbers, Tax Identification Numbers and other personal information can be uncovered by hackers and used to collect ransom from the affected small business. Ransomware is just one of the many forms of cyber crimes that affect small businesses and, in fact, Keeper Security estimates that 50% of small businesses were impacted by a security breach in 2016. Even further, The Huffington Post reports that 60% of small business owners impacted by cyber security attacks will fail within six months of the attack.

How to Prevent Cybersecurity Attacks on your Small Business

The ideal solution to this is to fortify your network as much as possible. Keeping your Antivirus software, firewalls and security features updated is the best way to protect your small business from cyber security attacks. Hackers are constantly evolving and coming up with innovative techniques for stealing your information and the only way you can hope to combat them is by keeping your security mechanisms up-to-date.

However, we all know that despite your significant investment in a state-of-the-art security system with the most updated security features; inevitably, an employee will open an email attachment which contains a virus that will infect your entire LAN. The only way to prevent these happenings is through regular cyber security training for your employees. Most small businesses don’t consider this a necessity, however it is, perhaps, the most proactive investment a small business owner can make toward protecting his/her SMB.

What to do if it Happens to YOU

So you’ve invested in premium cybersecurity for your small business, you’ve invested in cybersecurity training for your employees, you’ve done everything right and still, your business falls prey to a cyber security data breach. It happens. You wouldn’t be the first. What’s important is that you have a disaster-recovery plan in place so that you can respond as quickly and efficiently as possible. You must be prepared to shut down the infected device and potentially infected devices within the networks. You need to get in touch with your technical support quickly so that you can run a malware scan and quickly dispose of potential threats to your network. Being prepared to respond to a cyber attack can save your business money and limit the damage done by any hacker.

Easy Time Clock ™   is a cloud-based time and attendance system that provides a comprehensive, accurate, and affordable solution allowing employees to clock in and out with a computer, mobile device, or biometric reader.

Why You Need to Stay Up-To-Date with Cyber Security

Cyber security is one of the hottest topics on the market today. Cyber Security startups are popping up left and right as a result of increasing demand, as more and more businesses fall victim to security breaches every year. The increased prevalence of hacking is an unfortunate consequence of rapidly advancing technology which gives birth to innovations in the mechanisms that hackers can use to steal sensitive digital data. However, you need not fear so long as you are constantly informed with the most relevant cyber security information and you are properly prepared to protect your company’s sensitive information.

The Business Implications of NOT Staying Informed.

  • In 2016, over 33% of businesses lost at least 20% of revenue due to cyber security data breaches.
  • Cyber security breaches could also lead to lawsuits if the personal information of clients or employees falls into the hands of the wrong person.
  • Security breaches increased by an estimated 40% between 2015 and 2016 due to the constant evolution of hackers.

How to Stay Up-to-Date

  • Reading blogs and news streams of cyber security experts are a good place to start. A general google search will pull many of sources you can follow to stay informed on the most up-to-date cyber security information.
  • Following experts on social media will also help you stay informed in real-time. Brian Krebs might be a good place to start.
  • Vulnerability alerts and advisories are another reliable source of up-to-date security information. These feeds are generated from organizations like The National Vulnerability Database and SecurityFocus.
  • Attending cyber security seminars is another viable option for staying informed.

The Benefits of Staying Informed

  • Having the ability to innovate without fear. 71% of executives reported that fear of security breaches impeded their explorations of innovations to their business.
  • Having the freedom to focus on mission-critical initiatives without the fear of cyber security breaches impacting those initiatives, as 40% of businesses reported experiencing last year.

Ultimately, being proactive instead of reactive in regards to cyber security can lead to innovation, agility and a competitive advantage for businesses that adapt quickly and stay informed. It’s important to understand how to react to a crisis, but even more important, is staying up-to-date on cyber security information so that you may avert the crisis in the first place.

Easy Time Clock ™   is a cloud-based time and attendance system that provides a comprehensive, accurate, and affordable solution allowing employees to clock in and out with a computer, mobile device, or biometric reader.