June 2009 
5 HR "Must Haves" for Every Small Business

"We're a small company, so we don't need HR."  Don't need HR?! That's impossible! Whether you employ five, fifty, or five hundred, your people are a critical resource that need to be cared for, monitored, reviewed, and developed.  Neglect your people, and they will ultimately fail you, either by lack of performance, or by leaving the company.  Care for them well, and they will serve you well for years to come.  Here are five critical HR areas and the reasons why a small business should NEVER neglect them:
1.      Employee Benefits - Companies spend a lot of money to provide competitive health, dental, vision, retirement, and other benefits to their employees. The purpose of putting these plans in place is to make the company an attractive place to work, to retain employees, and to help ensure that employees don't run into personally devastating financial hardship.  Make sure your employees know about the benefits that you offer, and know how to use them to their advantage.  These benefits often impact their families as well.  Helping them understand these plans and maximize their use doesn't increase your cost, but provides a tremendous payback in terms of employee satisfaction. 
2.      Payroll Management and Communication - On the surface, a paycheck is simply the payment made to an employee for the services that they provide to your company.   Handling this transaction properly, however, helps an employee manage his or her money, and goes a long way toward building a trusting employee/employer relationship.  So many factors can impact net pay: garnishments, insurance deductions, retirement savings, flexible spending accounts, child support payments, employee loans, etc.  So many outside parties want, or are entitled to, information regarding payroll payments:  government agencies, mortgage lenders, insurance companies, creditors, other employers, etc.  Don't trust this transaction to a hands-off, outside provider. Make sure employees have someone to turn to to help them understand every aspect of their pay check week in and week out.
3.      Documentation of Job Responsibilities, Employment Policies and Company Procedures - One of the biggest mistakes a small business makes is in not documenting what people do, and how they do it. Poor performance results from employees not knowing what is expected of them on a daily basis.  If expectations are not set, not only will an employee have a difficult time doing their job, but management will have a difficult time holding that employee accountable for their performance.  Policies that are not documented tend to get enforced haphazardly and unfairly.  This inconsistency is what leads to disgruntled employees, and even law suits.  Once policies are written down, updating them annually is easy.  The result will be a more informed, better performing work force.
4.      Compliance and Record Keeping - Don't think that just because no one has checked your payroll records, no one has inspected your employee files, and no one has reviewed your disciplinary forms or your wage history file, that record keeping is not important.  If you play by the rules, operate your business in compliance with all regulations, AND keep records to prove it, your ability to defend yourself due to ANY employment claim or law suit is greatly enhanced.  It is a published fact that EEOC claims have been soaring due to the bad economy, high unemployment, and frustrated out of work people. No records means no defense.  Don't take that chance.
5.      Recruiting - A small company employing fifteen people that makes a mistake when hiring now has 7% of their workforce that is likely to under perform.  Hasty hiring decisions, driven by a lack of time to properly define the position and screen candidates, can be devastating.  The cost of a mis-step in hiring is extraordinary.  Taking the time to put a candidate through an intense, multi-faceted hiring process should be done whether you are hiring a CFO or a machine operator.  Take your time with the decision making, and get an outsider's perspective if you need it. Remove biases from the hiring process.  Referrals can be good, but are sometimes used as a quick fix.  Review and screen referral candidates just like you would others.  Hire them only if they are truly the best person for the job.
If any of these areas is a weakness in your organization, lets talk about how Advantage Employment can help you improve. Remember, every business that employs people needs HR.

Sandra Teague, SPHR
Advantage Employment, Inc.
Mandated Paid Sick Leave

A bill introduced in Congress on May 18th would require employers with 15 or more employees to provide up to seven days of paid sick leave.  The bill, called the Healthy Families Act (H.R. 2460) was introduced by Connecticut Representative Rosa DeLauro. 

Although support for the bill is mixed, President Barack Obama has stated that he supports the legislation and would sign it if passed. 

Lisa Horn, chair of the National Coalition to Protect Family Leave (NCPFL) and an employee of the Society for Human Resource Management's Government Affairs Department weighed in. "Congress could not pick a worse time to impose untested and costly new mandates on U.S. Employers.  Thousands of American companies are already struggling to avoid layoffs, meet payroll and maintain benefits during the gravest economic crisis since the Great Depression.  The costs associated with this mandate will force companies to increase layoffs, reduce wages and cut important employee beneifts."

DeLauro claims that nearly half of private sector workers do not have paid sick leave benefits.  The US Department of Labor, however, has collected statistics indicating that more than 80 percent of employers offer some form of paid sick leave.

The debate will certainly continue.  Senator Edward Kennedy is expected to introduce a Senate version of the bill soon.

For further information, please e-mail Sandra Teague.
I9's Not In Order Could Be a Costly Mistake
Social Security CardThe Department Of Homeland Security is now targeting Employers in their effort to reduce the hiring of illegal workers.  According to a new Fact Sheet released by the DHS on April 30th, "ICE [Immigrations and Customs Enforcement] will focus its resources in the work-site enforcement program on the criminal prosecution of employers who knowingly hire illegal workers in order to target the root cause of illegal immigration."

With this strategy in place, small business MUST protect themselves by taking care to have all I9's properly completed and on file.  Additional recommendations include responding promptly to "no-match" letters from the Social Security Administration, and meeting Department of Labor wage and record keeping requirements. 

According to Workforce.com, penalties can be severe:

"Employers whose employees are all authorized to work but whose I-9s are not in order face significant civil fines of up to $1,100 per worker.  Employers cannot simply disavow knowledge of their employees' immigration status. They may be found to have "constructive knowledge" of the status. Constructive knowledge is defined as knowledge that may be fairly inferred through notice of certain facts and circumstances that would lead a person through the exercise of reasonable care, to know about a certain condition.  A finding of constructive knowledge can lead to both civil and criminal penalties of up to $2,200 for a first offense, up to $11,000 after two offenses and up to six months imprisonment."

Employers cannot afford to turn their back on the problem, ignore the status of their workforce, or leave I-9 forms incomplete.

To discuss how Advantage Employment can help with compliance, please e-mail Sandra Teague.
How Advantage Employment Saves your Company Money:
  • Eliminate the internal cost of an HR administrator and outsource those duties for less.
  • Stop allocating high level executive time to handle sensitive or confidential HR issues. Focus on your business instead.
  • Stop paying an outside payroll provider steep rates for minimal do-it-yourself service.
  • Don't lose a protestable unemployment claim. Each person who gets unemployment benefits who shouldn't can cost your company $4K to $6K in increased taxes each year.
  • Don't let workers comp claims malinger. Improper case management and lack of a return-to-work plan will increase the cost of the claim and increase your mod.
  • Reduce your exposure to dangerous lawsuits by enlisting the help of HR professionals. Show your employees that policies are sound, and prevent trouble makers from taking advantage of a loosely run organization.
  • Reduce turnover in your staff by maximizing their understanding and utilization of the employee benefits that you already provide to them.
  • Increase employee loyalty by providing them a resource to solve any employment question or problem.
Things You Should Know
Mandated Paid Sick Leave
I9's Not In Order Could Be a Costly Mistake
How Advantage Employment Saves Your Company Money
Contact Us
Advantage Employment, Inc.
205 E. Butterfield Road, #445
Elmhurst, IL 60126
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