As the economy improves, small business owners face a new challenge: employee retention.
According to MetLife’s 9th Annual Study of Employee Benefit Trends, only 44 percent of employees feel a strong loyalty to the small business for which they work. That’s down a significant from 62 percent in 2008.
But wait… the picture gets worse. In fact, 34 percent of small business employees surveyed would like to work for a different employer. What is going on? There are many factors in breeding employee loyalty–and it’s not all about money. The MetLife study found a strong tie between employee benefits and employee loyalty.
“The MetLife study is a reality check for smaller employers who may still be viewing their workforce through rose-colored glasses,” says Jeffrey Tulloch, vice president, U.S. Business, MetLife. “Economic recovery will not only present opportunities for employers but also for top performers. One area small businesses may overlook is whether their benefits programs are designed as strategically as they could be. It is not necessarily about spending more, but optimizing offerings to attain three top objectives: employee retention, increased productivity, and cost control.” Read more... top ▲
Anxiety in the workplace. It’s a growing phenomenon in businesses large and small. Indeed, even solopreneurs are facing issues that can breed anxiety and an upset stomach. A rising unemployment rate, slower job growth, and increasing layoffs at a time when employees were just starting to think there may be better opportunities are driving job security fears.
“This optimism is now being replaced by greater apprehension over job security,” says Annie Stevens, managing partner with ClearRock. “Some employers who had growing concerns about how to retain valued workers have now shifted their attention to keeping employees engaged and motivated during a hot, uncertain summer.”
With employee loyalty also tanking, what’s a small business owner to do? How do you keep your best and brightest employees on board and create a work atmosphere where employees feel comfortable, secure, optimistic—and productive? ClearRock is offering some sound recommendations for employers looking for ways to ease workplace anxiety and maintain employee engagement. Let’s look at each one in detail. Read more... top ▲
There are pros and cons to self-insured groups. But a new survey highlights misunderstandings about how these groups work that could come back to haunt small businesses.
The Self-Insurance Institute of America defines a self-insured group health plan as one in which the employer assumes the financial risk for providing health care benefits to its employees. In practical terms, the SIIA explains, self-insured employers pay for each out of pocket claim as they are incurred instead of paying a fixed premium to an insurance carrier, which is known as a fully-insured plan.
But here’s a potential downside: Members of a SIG are financially responsible for the workers’ compensation claims of all the companies in their group—often for years—not just their own businesses. And 41 percent of small business owners in a recent Employers poll don’t realize that. Read more... top ▲
Does your small business offer Internet access to customers? If so, you should get proactive about security.
The National Federation of Independent Businesses has issued an urgent warning to small business owners: take steps to prevent customers from logging on and illegally downloading copyrighted materials.
Why the urgent alert? Because copyright holders—including record labels and movie studios—struck a deal with Internet Service Providers to issue warnings to residential customers whose accounts are allegedly used to pirate content.
Although the agreement doesn’t impact commercial businesses, small businesses could be affected, according to the NFIB. Small businesses that have residential accounts for Internet connections could meet with “mitigation measures” if the provider sniffs out illegal activity five times. Those measures could include reducing Internet speeds or redirecting traffic to a special landing page until the customer contacts the Internet provider to discuss the issue. Read more... top ▲
The common denominator in reducing stress, regardless of which type it is, is a balanced workout program. Moderate exercise, such as walking, is the key to overcoming the negativity and fatigue that so often accompany every type of stress.
Here are the six kinds of stress and some additional prescriptions for reducing each of them.
#1: Emotional Stress
A recent study found that three quarters of Americans experience significant emotional stress weekly. When we’re undergoing emotional stress, our hormones get out of balance. Cortisol levels go up and DHEA levels go down; the coping hormones get depressed and the pleasure hormones don’t get released.
What to do about it: Respond with calmness. Acknowledge that a seemingly overwhelming task will get done in small acts that add up to a big result, like planting a field of corn one kernel at a time. Another solution is to clear your mind with laughter. Laughing almost instantly clears away emotional stress, like a defroster on a windshield. Read more... top ▲
If your small business has been open any length of time, you’ve already had to face the unfortunate reality of late payments—or no payment at all.
About 40 percent of firms the National Federation of Independent Businesses Surveyed say receivables—money the are owed—is coming in late. That can cause plenty of pain for a small business owners that depends on regular cash flow to keep the ship afloat.
So how you can you deal with late paying clients? You can get proactive up front, and also follow up with penalties on the back end, to discourage clients from paying late. Here are a few tips:
1. Be crystal clear about terms. top ▲
Be sure to spell out your payment terms on your invoice and other related paperwork, such as contracts, estimates, statements of work, etc. If you expect a deposit up front, make it clear. If you need to be paid in increments, print it out. If you need payments within 30 days, say so. Put it in writing. Read more...
Headline after headline decries the challenge of small business owners seeking loans.
Only 56 percent of small businesses that tried to obtain a loan got all or most of what they needed, according to a recent edition of the Office Depot Small Business Index. However, America’s small business community still remains intent on obtaining the finances needed to grow their business: 30 percent of small business owners say they are researching more ways to expand their business.
Office Depot is coming to the rescue in a new partnership with the nation’s leading Small Business Administration lender. Office Depot inked a deal with Superior Financial Group to offer qualified small business customers access to capital. Small businesses can apply for SBA loans between $5,000 and $25,000. Read more... top ▲
Entrepreneur magazine today tells the story of the Gruccis, a family that has built a multimillion-dollar fireworks business while keeping the ownership in the family. I thought this was an especially appropriate tale to tell in light of the Fourth of July holiday.
“For me, the dream my father and mother had—one of independence without outside investors—is the dream I wish to keep alive today,” says executive vice president and chief financial officer Felix Grucci Jr.
Entrepreneur also took the time to spell out the three rules the Gruccis have established—rules that have led them to experience success for 150 years. I’ve outlined them below, but jump over to the Entrepreneur article to get the fuller story. It’s worth a read.
1. Always look for ways to trim costs. top ▲
2. 2. Seize opportunities to diversify the business.
3. 3. Stay resilient and count on each other. Read more...
What do you get when a former president hooks up with one of the largest wealth management companies in the world? A philanthropic partnership that is working to help small business owners in underserved communities tap into the knowledge and skills they need to support business creation and job growth.
The William J. Clinton Foundation and UBS Wealth Management Americas just announced the launch of the CEO-UBS Small Business Advisory Program. The two groups will conduct a series of financial advisory mentorship programs. Small business owners that participate in the program will receive tailored pro bono advice from a dedicated UBS financial advisor, as well as access to UBS WMA’s client network of experienced business leaders and the firm’s intellectual capital. Read more... top ▲
You know better than the pundits can tell you how challenging it is to run a small business in the best of times, let alone in the worst of times. Wearing multiple hats, squeezing pennies and putting out fires is part of the daily routine.
Meanwhile, the credit crunch remains en force. Indeed, the quest for small business owners to find the capital they need to expand and hire in a recovering economy continue to make headlines. But some experts are saying that a little cost cutting can go a long way toward loosening up some capital to help your small business survive and thrive.
Terry McElfresh, COO of Alliance Cost Containment, a cost reduction and financial analysis firm, recommends that small business owners take five steps to tackling their annual operations budgets to maximize savings. Let’s go through each of them. top ▲
1. Challenge your vendors to produce year-over-year cost savings. Read more...