As a new small business owner, you may not yet have an employee handbook of all your policies, procedures, and all other employment and job-related information employees need to know and acknowledge.
There are many reasons to have an employee handbook that new hires read over and sign immediately.
That it sets clear expectations for your employees
States your legal obligations
Defines their rights.
The handbook protects your business against employee lawsuits and claims, like wrongful termination, harassment, retaliation, and discrimination.
This blog will discuss steps to build your personalized employee handbook without adding too much information.
Step 1: Work Hours, Compensation, and Benefits
A fundamental expectation to set is when employees start/ come into the office and when they leave. Time tracking is also extremely important to protect the employee and your business.
There is even an obligation to that effect in California. This section should also include overtime policies, probationary period policies, and leaves of absence (sick, vacation, PTO, etc.) Be sure to research what is mandatory, both federally and state.
Although pay is covered in an employment contract, pay raises and bonuses can be outlined in the handbook if they are standardized. For example, employees may get a pay raise each year after a positive performance review. Or pay may increase with inflation. This is not mandatory but will give employees something to look forward to.
Be sure to research minimum wage and overtime laws. Also, check out exempt versus non-exempt employees and part-time versus full-time employees. Independent contractors and hourly or contract employees all have different privileges and responsibilities.
Step 2: Explain your Company Culture & How Employees Stay Aligned
First, include your Code of Conduct, which “lays out the company’s principles, standards, and the moral and ethical expectations that employees and third parties are held to as they interact with the organization” (GAN Integrity, 2020).
Performance Reviews and progressive discipline keep your employees in line and A-aligned with the culture. Performance reviews are an opportunity to look not only at performance but also at how closely the company’s values and mission align with the employees.
These “hook” an employee at onboarding when the culture is strong and well-defined. Employees feel safe knowing what you’re doing, and they’ll be more likely to stay and perform well.
and state ones here: State Labor Laws. Some US states explicitly state the specific legal content you need to have in your handbook. For example, in California, the Department of Industrial Relations has instructional manuals and pocket guides to help you construct employee handbooks for various industries.
You probably want to consult a lawyer during or after writing your handbook’s legal section(s). Remember, your employees have a copy of the handbook and use it as a guide. Still, you can include a disclaimer such as, “I understand that this handbook is NOT a binding contract but provides guidelines for personnel concerning the company’s policies and benefits.” You can also state that the company “may change, rescind, or add to any policies, benefits, or practices described in the handbook at its discretion, without prior notice.” Finally, include the nature of employment, such as “at-will” in California, and have the employee acknowledge receipt by signing the last page to keep in their personnel file.
Implemented a new form: DE4 (Employee Tax Withholding for your company’s records, incorporating a new law: ABC (an employment status test), and made COVID-19-related changes to a tried-and-true form: the I-9.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of what to include. A more comprehensive list is here:
Equal employment opportunity (antidiscrimination)
At-will nature of employment
Code of conduct
General employment information
Safety and security
Pay policies such as information on paydays, timekeeping, overtime eligibility, meal and rest periods, etc.
Sick leave policy
Paid vacation policy
Family and medical leave — if a business has 50 or more employees, it often needs to have an FMLA policy
Assessment process for promotions and raises
Process for filing a complaint
Welcome letter from CEO or founder
Company’s mission statement
Annual office closures
Behavioral expectations including attendance and dress code if relevant
Standard operating hours including rules about employees being onsite outside of these hours
Review process and how to get a promotion/pay raise
Progressive discipline or policy when behavior doesn’t meet expectations
A form to sign saying they’ve read the staff handbook and agree to the terms (Square, 2021).
If you follow these simple steps, you can avoid lawsuits/claims like wrongful termination, harassment, retaliation, and discrimination. Also, you can set clear expectations with employees, which helps with trust and communication, and thus, job satisfaction and retention. Trust and communication help them perform better too! Startup Tandem provides human resources consulting services to help you write your employee handbook – or we can write it for you! We include policies to keep you compliant and away of trouble.
How to deal with Quite Quitting as a business owner
Last week we showed you how to make a hybrid model (or solely remote or in-person) work for your business. But with hybrid and remote work rising, so does the risk of extreme passivity. Disengagement, slacking, isolating, and withdrawal are all a little easier when you don’t have to face your boss.
People commend these behaviors and believe them to be a way to set boundaries and increase work-life balance or separation. Young people have coined this fad as “quietly quitting.” If you see these behaviors, your employee is not necessarily leaving. They’re just starting to say no to things they once did (“other duties as assigned,” overtime, happy hours/events, etc.) and, thus, passively setting boundaries.
While this looks pretty subversive, it is not always malicious or intentional. The good news is that this hidden danger is not something you need to worry about as a small business owner.
We will explore three steps in this blog to ensure you can recognize, address and even prevent “quiet quitting.”
Step 1: Recognize it
In a Forbes article published earlier this year, Robinson outlines six signs:
Minimum standard performance.
Isolation from other members of the team.
Withdrawal from any non-necessary conversations, activities, or tasks.
Attendance at meetings but not speaking/acting as much as usual.
Teammates report having to pick up the slack. (Robinson, 2022).
The easiest of these signs to address is withdrawal from the non-necessary, as this can appear on social media (Ellis & Yang, 2022). You might notice someone is hinting at separation or divorce if they share quotes about letting people go, charting new territory, etc. The same goes for quiet quitting. While Startup Tandem Inc. is not suggesting snooping at your employees’ TikTok accounts, we recognize that part of modern life is blurred work and life boundaries. Some employees might not realize it but share their feelings with you. While they’re not necessarily slowly quitting, they ARE communicating that they do not want to do certain aspects of their job.
The remaining signs are easy to address in performance reviews, which we encourage to hold at least quarterly.
While it shouldn’t be the employer’s responsibility to read between the lines of employees’ passive statements and actions, initiating appropriate and direct communication is essential. Don’t lose the chance to address their feelings about work, especially in a remote work setting. If they know you follow their account or even have a public account, managing these work-related videos and sentiments in a meeting is more manageable than if they don’t know you follow them. You don’t have to be critical – remain open and curious. For example, “I noticed that TikTok video about … can you tell me a little more about that?”.
If you hear about these passive anti-hustle sentiments through another coworker, remember the reporting party’s confidentiality is at stake. Instead of mentioning a specific incident, ask general questions about workload in one-on-one meetings. Some examples might include, “How do you feel about the amount of work provided? How do you feel appreciated? How do you feel best compensated? How do you like feedback? Do you enjoy your tasks? Do you receive the support (resources, training, etc.) needed to complete the task? Do you like the current workplace communication style? What would you change?”.
After this, check in with HR to revise company policies regarding overtime, external events, and other employees’ dissatisfactions. A consensus likely means the company’s very policies need to be adjusted. If the workplace mentality has become jaded, but procedures must remain intact, consider implementing true workplace change with a program such as the one outlined in The Heart of Change (Kotter & Cohen, 2012).
Maybe it is a relief for them to get this out in the open. For example, they might already be passive communicators.
But when it comes to purpose and meaning at work, ensure constant and clear communication. A SHRM survey found that workers would take a 23% pay cut for a job they find meaningful. Communication about a shared purpose is vital so that the employee is aligned and has appropriate expectations. Otherwise, there will be a lot of resentment and disappointment, and quiet quitting is more likely to occur. Compensation is not as crucial to modern workers, but it is much clearer regarding expectations (e.g., I work 40 hours a week and get paid xxx dollars).
If you follow these simple steps, you will recognize, address and even prevent “quiet quitting” – even in a remote team. Although it may take some tough conversations, ensuring your team is still loyal, engaged, and productive is imperative.
Startup Tandem provides human resources consulting services to help you develop and implement culture, compliance, and training programs that fit your specific business needs and budget.
Ellis, L., & Yang, A. (2022, August 12). If your co-workers are ‘quiet quitting,’ here’s what that means. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 29, 2022, from https://www.wsj.com/articles/if-your-gen-z-co-workers-are-quiet-quitting-heres-what-that-means-11660260608
Kotter, J. P., & Cohen, D. S. (2012). The heart of change: Real-life stories of how people changes their organizations. Harvard Business Review Press.
O’Connell, B. (2021, July 6). The search for meaning. SHRM. Retrieved August 29, 2022, from https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/all-things-work/pages/the-search-for-meaning.aspx
Robinson, B. (2022, August 24). 6 signs that a ‘quiet quitter’ is among your employees and what to do about it. Forbes. Retrieved August 29, 2022, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/bryanrobinson/2022/08/19/6-signs-that-a-quiet-quitter-is-among-your-employees-and-what-to-do-about-it/?sh=1fede0a66619
Avoid expensive employee turnover by improving your hiring practice
As a small business owner, you may not have a human resource department to guide you through the best recruitment, hiring, and retention practices. The process of recruiting for the same position comes with a significant cost attached to it. This blog will discuss steps to improve your hiring practices as a business owner. Avoid expensive employee turnover by improving your hiring process thru these steps below.
Human Capital is the Greatest Asset.
It does not matter what industry you are doing business in, retaining human capital is the most valuable asset in an organization. Employees are either interacting with customers directly or indirectly when creating products. Therefore, hiring the best candidate is the first step to avoiding the expensive costs that come with employee turnover.
Employee turnover can get expensive
During the replacement process of an employee, a business loses time and a tremendous amount of money. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reported that “on average, it costs a company six to nine months of an employee’s salary to replace [them]. Let’s consider an employee making $60,000 annually; replacement fees come to $30,000 – $45,000 in recruiting and training costs.”
You may have many reasons to let go of an employee or for them to quit. Still, hiring the right person aligned with your company’s culture and values is the most important thing you can do as an employer to avoid attrition.
Hire and build a diverse team
You should aim to attract a diverse talent of individuals. Companies that have diverse teams are proven to be more successful at making better decisions as everyone has different problem-solving skills and resources. If you build a diverse team, you will also be able to connect with different types of customers. Diversity is the way to go when building a successful organization!
Step 1: Culture, Culture, Culture (and Values)
Of course, you want to make your culture attractive to recruit the best of the best. But you also need to hire people who will be a great cultural fit for the company. Determine the motivation for each prospective employee and see if it aligns with the company’s values (E.g., Here at ABC company, we want people who want to grow and learn).
Step 2: Hire for personality, train for skill
The most successful companies understand that you can’t change personality (a soft or “power” skill). They are forgiving about not having “hard” skills because they realize most people can quickly learn these skills with the proper training. Southwest Airlines coined the term “hire for personality, train for skill” and has done just that for years (Baker, 2014). Trader Joe’s is known to hire for “personality, specifically extroversion” (Ager & Roberto, 2014). Both these companies see that retaining employees with a great culture and training is cheaper in the long run than hiring people who later leave or get terminated. Attracting the “right” people is paramount.
Step 3: Cross your T’s and Dot your I’s
Do good work at both the attracting and deciding phases. Do not skip any of these steps just because you like a candidate.
Ask questions about competencies/knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) needed to succeed in the specific position.
Ask questions about a prospective employee’s personality, vision, mission, values, and culture.
Ask, “Why this specific company?” This question will immediately let you know if they’ve done their research.
Ask, “why remote/hybrid/in office?
Ask, “Why this specific industry?”
Ask both behavioral and situational questions. “Behavioral… focuses on a candidate’s past experiences, behaviors, knowledge, skills, and abilities by asking the candidate to provide specific examples of when they have demonstrated certain behaviors or skills to predict future behavior and performance. Situational questions give the interviewee a hypothetical scenario and focus on a candidate’s past experiences, behaviors, knowledge, skills, and abilities by asking the candidate to provide specific examples of how the candidate would respond given the situation described.” (SHRM, 2022).
Ask for completion of a valid personality test such as the Caliper.
Ask for consent to a background check (criminal, civil, degree confirmation, license confirmation, etc.)
Ask for three professional references and call all of them even if they provide a letter of recommendation. Some people will tell you things verbally they would never write in a letter.
Offer a limited window to sign an offer letter and employee agreements but offer support and be available/approachable for questions and negotiations. This creates a sense of urgency and lets you snag that desirable candidate.
Step 4: Create a hiring matrix
This technique has come very usefully for the Startup Tandem team. This matrix should have the following factors:
Decision criteria can be such as ‘professionalism, skillset’ in certain area etc.
Weight assigned to each criterion ex: 25%,50%
Rating per criteria ex: 5,4,3
multiply weight and rating to get the score per criteria
Comments per interviewer
Be sure to file a new hire report in your state. This determines if the new employee owes money to the government (e.g. child support). If they do owe money, the court or government agencies will mail you information on how much to deduct from their paychecks so your employee can pay back their debt. In California, for example, if the employee will be paid over $600, the form needs to be filed within 20 days via Form W-4 (form will vary by state) or you will face late penalties.
As they change, follow all state and federal anti-discrimination laws every time you hire an employee. For example, “California law protects individuals from illegal discrimination by employers based on the following: Race, color. Ancestry, national origin. Religion, creed.” CA Civil Rights Dept. Report all employees’ data annually to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This is not something you do upon hire, but rather by the annual deadline. You will find the reporting dates on our Startup Tandem HR Compliance Calendar. The last one was May 17, 2022, but they often get extended.
What to do next?
As a founder, CEO, and owner of your own company, you should allocate time to developing a correct hiring process that is aligned with the values of your company. developing these processes will avoid expensive turnover. There are compliance policies that you should keep in mind when hiring, which can become challenging to navigate. A partner like Startup Tandem can help you set up such processes and build a budget for retaining valuable human capital.
If you follow these simple steps, you can hire the right person who will strengthen your culture for years to come. Although it may take more time and energy than your current hiring process, this is an opportunity to cut those tremendous turnover costs. Ideally, you will lose very few employees over the years.
Startup Tandem CFO can help you create a budget that includes expenses such as software to run a background check, personality, conflict management, and leadership tests. Your budget should also include training and retaining human capital. Following hiring the best people for your company comes retaining your employees. We should also help you track your actual versus your forecasted expenses in the budget to stay on top of your cash flow.
Now that we discussed how to avoid expensive employee turnover by improving your hiring process, you can learn how employees like to feel appreciated by their boss. Everyone has a different way of feeling appreciated by their boss. Our blog Unique Ways to Optimize Retention, Engagement, Productivity – Startup Tandem, will give you some insight on how to increase retention. More on this topic soon! Sign up for our newsletter to receive blogs directly to your email.
Ager, D. & Roberto, M. (2014). Trader Joe’s. HBS No. 9-714-419. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing.
Baker, W. (2014). Southwest Airlines’ Nonstop Culture: Flying High With Transparency and Empowerment. HBS No. W94C04. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing.
Appreciating your unique teammates in unique ways to optimize retention, engagement & productivity
As strategists, especially when we’re in the startup world, we don’t want to reinvent the wheel. We want to use evidence-based practices and constantly check our progress with data, metrics and KPIs. When it comes to people, some things are not so black and white – their needs and motivations are all different shades of gray. Therefore, ways to recognize them are not one-size-fits all, meaning each employee will need something different to stay in the job, to remain engaged, and to be productive, according to a study from Walden University’s College of Management and Technology earlier this year. Ways to recognize them are even more tough if your team is remote.
In comes the trend of personalized employee recognition. C-Suite need to consider that not all employees FEEL recognized by the same things. One may love to be part of the growing team. Another may like to share their ideas and feel heard. Yet another might really enjoy happy hours and holiday parties. And the remaining employees might like praise, a hand-written note, or a massage, respectively.
Building on the popular book of Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages, which explores how you can show your mate they are loved, now Appreciation at Work is looking at how signs of appreciation (instead of love) are felt differently by different people in the workplace.
Words of affirmation: regular one-on-one, and public recognition such as sending an email highlighting a win or simply saying “Thank you” or “I appreciate what you did – it was a huge help.”
Acts of service: team efforts such as support during a project or group trainings and opportunities for professional development.
Quality time: team building such as in-person team events and/ or virtual happy hours.
Gifts: using rewards to recognize employees such as personalized gift cards or hand-written notes.
Physical: encourage feedback opportunities such as consistent 1-on-1 meetings with employees. If they can’t be in person – they should be held via zoom with the camera on, to nurture this one. Fistpumps, high-fives and hugs (real or emojis) fall under this one.
If you don’t know how your team members feel appreciated or can’t get them to take the quiz right away, consider the trends based on data gathered at SurveyMonkey.com:
Most people feel appreciated with Gifts (33%) and Words of Affirmation (32%).
While words are more straightforward, gifts might still be a challenge. One company called PERKS, is looking at how to personalize digital gift cards for employees, using these three examples:
A working mom might appreciate childcare (Care.com), meditation (a Headspace membership), and snacks (Pressed Juicery).
A career guy might most appreciate tools (a laptop stand), training (an Audible membership), and Fitness classes (Crunch Live membership).
Finally, a digital nomad might most appreciate a flexible workspace (WeWork Pass), personal development (Duolingo membership) and experiences (Lonely Planet guides).
So remember that people are complicated, but with a little observation and planning, you can show them they are appreciated, in order to optimize retention, engagement, and productivity – even in a remote and/or growing team.
Are you wondering what services to HR consultants offer? Your company needs a successful Human Resources department in order to succeed. That is why utilizing an HR consulting company is important. However, you must first know what services are offered. It is important to understand the services provided so that you get the help your business needs.
What Is an HR Consulting Company?
This is going to be the company that a business turns to for help when they need solutions for their human resources department. The HR consultants will work very closely with clients that they have. This is to ensure that a bond and partnership is formed. This will help companies better understand how to operate. Plus, with technology and the world changing around us, the HR consultant must also be able to adapt to the changes.
An HR consultant company will help businesses keep people in their doors. It will help them fill positions that are empty with ease. It will allow the business to keep positions filled, even if it is only temporary. Plus, it will allow people to find a job that better fits their qualifications as well.
We will be talking about some of the services that a human resources consultant company may offer. These are just a few of the items that could be offered. Also, remember, not all companies will offer the same services. Call the company before making final decisions.
You will find that some human resource positions are not available often. However, if an employee in the business needs to take a leave; the solution is temporary staffing. It is not often that people will leave jobs on bad terms. However, when people do, it can leave a business struggling to operate smoothly. That is why an HR consultant would see this problem and find a temporary person to fill this position until the person returns, or a new hire is found. Keep in mind this is only for those who need to take a leave of absence for more than a week or two.
Many people are afraid to let anyone enter their business without having prior experience. Plus, if someone retires or leaves the job, the position must be filled. This is where your HR consultant will come into play. The HR consultant will hire someone temporarily to see how they do with the job.
If the person does well with the job, they will eventually be hired permanently for the position. However, if the person does not do well on the job, they may be terminated. You cannot know how well someone will do at a job unless you give them a chance.
Those who are placed in this temporary position will be on a trail period. This position will become permanent if the candidate for the job can learn quickly and operate efficiently. If this person takes the time to do the job correctly, it can become a permanent position. It allows employers to see how well an employee will operate under a new position before putting them there permanently.
Retained vs. Contingency Searches
Contingency searches will deal with substantial amounts of candidates getting sent to the company. There will be less accuracy with contingency searches than with retained searches. Some HR consulting companies will offer a retained search. This is where the HR consultant takes the time to find better fits for a certain company. The client who has hired this HR consultant will have less clients. However, the clients will be more likely to qualify for the position that needs to be filled.
Depending on what your business is and what you need now, one may be better for you than the other. If you are low on people and the job is simple and does not require much background information, you may want to do a contingency search. However, if you are looking to fill a position that requires experience and knowledge, a retained search may be the best option to get qualified candidates.
Finding The Best HR Consulting Firm Near You
While there are many different HR consulting agents and companies out there, it is up to you to determine the best one. Taking the time to look at reviews and real-life testimonies is important. Just because a company states they are the best, does not mean they are.
It is important to take the time to look at a few things before hiring an HR consultant.
As always, before you do anything, you need to look at a company’s reviews. You will be hiring a single consultant; however, you need to make sure that the company has good ratings as well. You will also want to check on the consultant that you are given. Make sure that they themselves have complimentary reviews as well. You do not want to work with someone who does not have a great history.
STEP 2: Review Previous Records
You want to work with someone who has experience. You need to ask for previous work experience and how long the consultant has been working for this company. You may also decide to ask how long they have worked at their previous consultant company. This will help you determine if they have the skills needed to help your business out. If someone does not have the experience needed for the job, you will need to find another consultant.
STEP 3: Consult With The Company Beforehand
You will always talk to your HR consultant. This means that you will be able to tell if they are kind. You want someone who is relatable and personable. It will not be fun working with someone who does not care to do their job properly or help your business.
STEP 4: Speak With Several HR Consulting Firms
The next step to finding the best HR consultant is to speak with several firms to get clarification on what they provide. Startup Tandem is a startup consulting firm which offers financial services such as bookkeeping and Fractional CFOs, in addition to HR consulting. We are your one stop shop for all of your startup’s needs!
STEP 5: Find A Local Company
The next and last step for finding the appropriate service is to connect with a local company if you can. Startup Tandem is located in Santa Monica, CA and has a number of clients in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas. They also have a location on the East Coast too- so they are probably a great choice no matter where you are.
Wrapping Up: What Services Do HR Consultants Offer?
If you are looking for the best HR consulting services, you should talk to Startup Tandem. They will help you with all your HR needs with ease. With years of experience under their belts, they are the ones to help you with your business needs.