Women owned businesses have become their own economic sector. There are 8 million of them generating $1.3 trillion in revenue. They employ almost 8 million people and account for 35% of all businesses. Such excitement in numbers is supported by research in the SBA Office of Woman Owned Business
, The National Association of Woman Business Owners (NAWBO
), and Forbes. Job Makers
According to the National Women’s Business Council
, women owned businesses employ 23 million workers or 16% of the total US workforce. And, they will be the source of more than 33% of the 15 million jobs the Department of Labor predicts through 2018. The same studies indicate the women owned workplace will be more diverse, inclusive, and collaborative.What They Do
Women are less likely to stumble into business. Most women business owners are college graduates who have approached their business opportunity with some expertise and structured planning under their belts. They are sharp enough to focus on capitalizing on and bringing something new to worlds of healthcare, retail businesses, virtual work, and women-oriented services where they have some affinity. How They Do It
Evidence shows that men plan less and spend more in business start-ups. Women spend more time on organization, produce earlier revenues, and create positive working environments. They struggle to balance life and work, and they think it important to extend the balance to others. They are likely to pay and benefit employees better, and they motivate employees emotionally and psychologically.
Women take fewer risks than men take in business and are more reluctant to purchase an up and running business. In addition, they prove better at customer retention because their customer relationships are more direct and personal. They are better at differentiating their strategic and unique business proposition. And, they network in a more shared and less exploitive way. What’s Their Future?
The future of women owned businesses is strong. Because they are more likely to co-exist with competitors, they do not burn out with slash and burn competition. They will seek and use the advice of their peers and expert consultants. They will listen to their employees in a no-fear environment and integrate their feedback.
It may be profiling to site that women business owners are likely to have a wider, deeper, and longer-lived vision. They write better – often exhaustive - business plans and invest themselves emotionally. They think more about security, their employees, and their retirement than they do about trophies and toys.What Do They Want?
Women seek support and financial attention. The SBA Women’s Advocacy, National Association of Women Business Owners, and Count-Me-In
are just a few of the hugely supportive information centers that support women.
Women are sharp at recognizing values in outsourcing; they listen well to prudent planning, and they collaborate well with vendors. They are becoming expert at running tight and efficient ships. At this, they will continue to lead the economy.
How long do you want to be a temp? How long was it part of your plan? Chances are you have been a temp more than once. You may have even bagged in a supermarket or worked the counter in a fast food place. But, if you think back, it never crossed your mind it was possible to become a permanent employee. The job paid a few necessary expenses but never gave you benefits nor security.
Still, there comes a time when you may be in the career you want – business, healthcare, retail – just not on a full-time permanent basis. For whatever reason, your employer was only placing temporary workers, and you saw it as a way to get your foot in the door.
What You Don’t See
Some companies are concerned about the economy at the time, and their future in that economy. They need workers but do not want to take on the cost of full-time employees and the labor and cost burden of their benefits.
Companies actually can save money on temporary employees because the agency does not have to pay benefits. If companies pay the agency the hourly rate for that job at that company, the agency pays you less than the hourly wage. In the end, the company has to decide if it costs less to continue you as a temp or if it is worth bringing your demonstrated ability on board as a full-timer.
Companies may be pressed by their budget, but they are not indifferent to employee needs – temp or perm.
- Simply ASK! Let the boss know you like what you see and you want to join permanently. Once you join as a temp, set a date, perhaps two months into the job, on which you will ask for employment. Do not press or seem over anxious, but do the same thing in about another three weeks. If you see yourself going into six months as a temp, you may want to begin another job search.
- Do Your Best! While a temporary employee, you will be observed for basic work behaviors: attendance, timeliness, ability to follow directions and to complete tasks, and so on. Employers want to see work ethic because they know they can train you.
- Enjoy the Chance! Temp employment allows you to determine if this career and this workplace fit your plans. So, as long as your status is temporary, take advantage of the situation. Learn everything you can and be first in line to learn more. It will give you a leg-up on your resume.
- Fix What’s Broke! Given the opportunity, identify something that needs a fix and that you can repair. Then fix it, and let them see what you have done. This differentiates you from the other temps in the running.
- Network! Let the supervisor - and just about anyone you meet – know that you are happy there and would like to stay.
What you need to do is show that you are the one they have been looking for. Show that you are the candidate who will add value to the business. More important, because you showed them your value, their risk in hiring you is minimized.
Three people died as the result of murder in the workplace in the time it took to write this.OSHA’s numbers from 2012 report:
- 767 workers died because of violence and other injuries, including 463 homicides and 225 suicides.
- Shootings were the most frequent manner of death in both homicides (81%) and suicides (48 %).
- Of the 338 fatal work injuries involving female workers, 29% involved homicides.
Homicide remains one of the leading work-related cause of death in the U.S. The U.S. Department of Labor Statistics also stated that homicide was the #1 cause of death for females in their workplace, or 42% of all workplace fatalities.
Whether in an elementary school in Connecticut, a military base in Texas, or a storage company in Orlando, strangers, spouses, and co-workers are killing people. What used to seem a vagary of rough and tumble blue-collar environments now rears its violent head in all levels of work. Human Resources may be late bringing solutions to the table on this threat.Disappointing survey
In a quick unofficial survey of employers in my circles, I do not find a violence-in-the-workplace policy with any teeth to it. Policies, such as they are, form gentle admonishments that workers should like and respect each other, that bullying and threats are counter-productive, and that repeated violations will provoke verbal and written warnings. This is well short of a zero-tolerance policy.
Given the incidence, the legal filing requirements, and the inadequacy of existing policy, Human Resources has accountability to get a grasp on what is happening and how it can be pro-actively preventive and defensive.What does workplace violence look like?
Violence takes specific forms:
- Employer Directed: the violence targets company supervisors, managers, and executives.
- Domestic Directed: the violator engages in violence against a domestic partner or would-be partner.
- Property Directed: the violence is aimed at the employer’s property and may or may not injure people as well.
- Commercial Directed: violence against the company takes the form of theft of money or property and violence related to that action.
Human Resources leaders should consider their stance. One position is to create a defense against litigation. The higher road is to prevent the pain and suffering as much as reasonably possible.
- Thoroughly vet new hires with criminal background records.
- Ban weapons on company property including parking lots, in company vehicles, and on company business. (Neither the U.S. Constitution or the state constitutions override such company policy.)
- Evaluate security systems. Depending on the size of the business and its facility, there should be silent alarms, monitored ID cards and keys, surveillance cameras, and possibly armed guards.
- Train all employees, supervisors, and management to recognize symptoms and warning signs.
- Require employees to report threats or other violent behavior through any one of several channels.
- Include all relevant policies and procedures in Employee Handbook and periodically in employee meetings and emergency drills.
- Train employees on the frontline, like receptionists and guards, how to spot and respond to suspect behavior.
- Require all employees to report any restraining orders. And, although employers have the right to ban service of legal papers on the company premises, HR may arrange for the service near an exit rather than risk a confrontation outside the building.
- Plan to handle disputes and confrontations in person or with a mediation team.
- Document threats and company response. Terminate any employee who makes a threat, and make it policy to terminate any employee whose relative or friend is disruptive or dangerous.
This last approach underlines the difficulty of HR’s position. It may not seem fair to terminate the threatened worker, but it does move the threat off the employer’s plate. Existing legislation
Existing and impending legislation is news to some HR leaders.
- OSHA 29 CFR 1904.8 requires businesses to verbally report incidents, including those involving workplace violence that cause the hospitalization of 3 or more colleagues or a fatality. Employers must make such verbal reports no later than 8 hours to the closest OSHA Office or State OSH Act Enforcement Agency.
- OSHA 29 CFR 1904.2 mandates employers to log and summarize all recordable injuries or illnesses sustained by their employees. Injuries or illnesses resulting from workplace violence must be recorded where the event occurs on the employer's premises. If the event happens away from the place of employment, it still must be recorded -if the worker was involved in work-related activities or was present at the site of the event because of their employment.
- New York, California, and Illinois have passed legislation providing employer mandates. Cornell University finds each law non-comprehensive and/or retroactive. They suggest OSHA fails to do its job and propose specific regulations for state legislation.
The Cornell Review recommends strengthening and fulfilling current OSHA regulations, but because those regulations require reporting after the fact, they recommend legislative standards that require management to be accountable along with proactive policies and practices. Proposed legislation, such as that recommended in Massachusetts, portends more administrative and engineering responsibility on the part of Human Resources.
What Does Human Resources have on its plate in 2014 – other than the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act? What more could it need?
Even the most optimistic supporters of ACA do not know where things are going. The rollout has been a debacle by any standards. Eventually it will straighten itself out, or not, but it is beyond your control. So, what else is new in 2014? Here are some controversial thoughts on the near future.
- Insurance brokers and agencies will disappear through merger, sale, or failure. At best, this will push quality professionals to the top. Nationwide multi-line firms will dominate, but they will also lose interest quickly in small and mid-sized company needs.
- Hospitals and providers will disappear through regionalization, mergers, and innovative physician practices. Employees will suffer and react to the inconvenience and poor service. A fundamental reorganization of patient care will directly affect Workers’ Comp care and rehabilitation.
- Insurance providers – as distinct from brokers and agents – will become more selective in underwriting markets and will struggle to comply with ACA requirements on transparency and claims ratios.
- Healthcare providers will finally come to terms with the facts of the act. But, the rollout fiasco will delay their introducing innovative products, systems, and programs. 2015 may see more data-sharing and mobile platforms driven by customer complaints, confusion, and consternation.
- The Employee Benefits buffet may become more of a Whack-a-Mole game late in 2015, but no one is confident enough to make a move in 2014. Once the splinters of ACA have settled, Congress will hopefully address weak and unworkable pieces. But, the ACA is not likely to be rescinded or unwound. Once that is accepted, voluntary benefits will drive more options and product development.
- The narrow HMO world or Kaiser-Permanente model will spread to states and regions where they have not been known. That will shock some employees, and unhappy employees are HR’s problem.
- Professional Employer Organizations (PEO) will multiply and expand, relieving Human Resources from shopping and negotiating employee benefits. The larger employee base represented by the PEO positions them to leverage best benefits packages and costs. The PEO arrangement also puts employees closer to their benefits, able to choose and edit their benefits packages.
On December 20th, the Wall Street Journal reported a 4.1% increase in Gross Domestic Product, the highest jump since 2011. Barring any significant national catastrophe or geo-political event, this confirms momentum and stability in the marketplace. But, 2014 will not see much progress in strategic HR – especially in small business - as it continues to wrestle with the ACA and other compliance issues.
Managing and improving the most important asset of your company – its people – is a difficult, time-consuming and often trying occupation. Still, it is one of the most necessary as it is the most effective way to increase the bottom line. In short, human capital management
should be one of the primary concerns of any business owner or corporate manager. The Usual Perspective
Many small business owners envision the role of their Human Resource Manager and his staff as a purely supportive one. This perspective has the HR department providing such services as:
- recruiting and hiring
- new hire on-boarding
- training development;
- performance management
- regulatory compliance
- benefits delivery
Each of these tasks is important as they have an immediate, long-lasting and significant effect on all facets of a company. Finding the right people is one thing, but getting them oriented and providing them with the right training is just as important.
Similarly, the proper training and counseling, when necessary, will make for a ready, highly motivated workforce. Lastly, the more pedestrian aspects of HR such as paying people on time and ensuring that their benefits are delivered on time leads to a better morale and higher productivity. A More Strategic Focus
While the above tasks mentioned above are significant and necessary, they do not really embrace a strategic view of how human capital management can help a company. As a mathematician would say, they are necessary but not sufficient. Instead, the best human capital managers also contribute at the executive level by providing the following:
- strategic staffing
- policy development
- career development
- transition planning
- company-wide communication
As you can see, these strategic tasks are not as “concrete” as the earlier, operational ones. Instead, they are more ephemeral but have the possibility of effecting far more people and, more importantly, increasing the value of the HCM team.
A Final Note
Developing a strategically-minded HCM department takes time and money and is not always cost-effective for smaller organizations. Instead, these companies should consider the benefits of a professional employer organization.
Since HCM is their sole focus and forte, for small businesses, PEOs already have a staff of experienced HR professionals at their disposal. They can provide a strategic focus from the very start. Consider one when your human capital needs turn from the merely operational to the truly strategic.
To start your search for the right PEO try our free PEO Matching Tool.
Over the course of a lifetime, work will probably be the single activity that takes up most of your waking hours. For that sole reason, most people will realize that they should pick a career that gives them some enjoyment and fulfillment rather than one that just pays the bills. Here are some reasons to love your job:
- It Matches Your Personality – Nothing is sadder than a salesman who can't sell and the saddest part is that the person knows it himself. Nevertheless if you are a natural born salesman, the job is just perfect. Everyone should take the same attitude towards their job – go with your inherent strengths. This is not to say that you shouldn't mature in a position and expand your skill set but finding a job that fits your personality will go a long way towards satisfying you and your employer.
- You're Good at It – It's almost considered a truism that most people would rather be recognized for their work than get a raise. While practical matters usually lay bare this claim as false, there is no denying the fact that people want to be recognized for doing a good job. Do not ignore this trait in yourself. Being good at your job is a self-reinforcing cycle. As you succeed at one task, the recognition earned allows you to excel at further tasks.
- It's An Investment – A career is not built in a day but it does take day-to-day effort. You must recognize that “paying your dues” is an essential part of moving up the ladder. Prove that you can handle your current responsibilities and the rewards will be ever increasing responsibilities with a commensurate amount of compensation. In short, envisioning your job as an investment that requires constant attention will reap you great dividends in the future.
- The Result – A job is only as good as you make it. Accepting inferior positions because they are easy will not ultimately be fulfilling. Similarly, retaining a dead-end job because of financial considerations may be necessary in the short term but will eventually cause you to quit or be fired. You should always be looking to improve.
One final note: If you ever have any doubts about what it means to love your job, think of Major T.J. “King” Kong – a man who loved his job despite the evident and overwhelming adversity, in the movie Dr. Strangelove
, and learn to love your job with the same ferocity.
There are a whole host of governmental rules and regulations – most fairly arbitrary – as to when and why you can and cannot fire an employee. To combat the vagueness of these guidelines, most companies institute their own set of rules, generally harsher than the governments, to guide their managers as to when it is acceptable to fire someone.
By and large, these corporate guidelines are just as buried in nonsense and doublespeak as the rules they are purported to explain. It makes it an almost impossible situation for a branch manager. In short, they are caught between enforcing discipline in their subordinates and engaging in CYA to keep their own jobs.
With that dichotomy in mind, here are five egregious behaviors that your company should discipline with almost immediate termination so that your managers can do their jobs far more effectively and with less fear of corporate retribution.1 Ignores the Rules
– It is not just a matter of personal responsibility; companies establish rules to safeguard their customers, their employees and their continued profitability. It is the height of carelessness for any employee to ignore these rules. Examples of these behaviors include bullying or harassment (sexual or otherwise) and accepting any kind of consideration from vendors.2. Unable to Perform Assigned Duties
– Every new employee deserves the appropriate amount of training, coaching and practice to learn how to perform their job duties satisfactorily. Eventually, however, the inability to demonstrate a minimum level of competence falls on the employee himself. While most new hires make the best of the situation, some remain unqualified. Make the right choice. Do not make excuses for new hires and resolve the situation as soon as possible. 3. Displays No Commitment
– Not showing up on time is just the simplest sign of this behavior. More serious implications arise when projects fall behind schedule or an employee just fails to deliver on his responsibilities. Not only does this behavior disrupt the individual’s particular department but his delays can resonate throughout the entire organization. Nip this one in the bud.4. Lacks Integrity
– While not as easy to demonstrate to as an overt act of dishonesty, ethical lapses should certainly be dealt with swiftly. An employee that lies or otherwise obfuscates their actions or their coworkers' must be confronted. Allowing even a “little white lie” will destroy team work and morale as well as make for some very strained meetings. Do not delude yourself, everyone on the front line knows the truth and are expecting you to do the right thing. 5. Doesn't Fit the Culture
– Of course, a diversity of attitudes, experiences and backgrounds are necessary for a company to be successful. Nevertheless, sometimes a new personality does not mix well with others or with the company culture in general. It is a difficult problem to overcome and is best dealt with by dealing with the “odd man out” instead of trying to retool the entire organization. A Final Note
- Knowing when to fire an employee should not be a guessing game for your managers. Instead, they deserve a clear set of guidelines to help them through the process. In addition, they need support when they make a hard decision or even a mistake. In short, do not fall into the same behavioral traps of your worst employees when dealing with your subordinates. A professional employer organization can help design and develop these guidelines for your unique business.
October 1, 2013 opened the door to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) or Obamacare
, a legislative attempt to bring medical insurance to the huge number of uninsured Americans. As of this writing, there is no way of estimating its effectiveness. But, if yours is a small business that provides medical insurance benefits to your employees, there are three things you should be doing.
Plenty of small businesses do provide benefits. Small law firms, doctor and dentist offices, architectural firms, and other professionals insure their employees as a means of reducing their own premium rates. Other small businesses will bite the expensive premium bullet to insure their employees out of good will or the need to retain their service. Whatever the motive, a large number of small businesses still insure their staffs. 1. Communicate:
2. Broker Interface:
- Explain the PPACA. In a series of payroll inserts, staff meetings, and/or postings, develop the PPACA option to their current coverage.
- If the staff is small enough the make the effort efficient, prepare a spreadsheet customized to each employee showing the benefits detail in comparison to comparable coverage from a PPACA initiated insurance exchange.
- Make it repeatedly clear how your share of the insurance premium is a hidden payroll.
- As policy enrollment period approaches, bring employees into the program design and pricing. For example, the demographic for your staff may exclude maternity coverage, or employees may want to have a voice in the determination of the deductible.
3. Employee Interface:
- Your group medical insurance agent or broker works for you. Put him/her to work. Do not let your broker become a simple order taker; they are well commissioned, and they get paid for retaining your business. It is up to you to make them earn it.
- You are free to move your group benefits business to another provider, but you are pretty much bound by the policy anniversary. You need to understand that you want to be in the drivers’ seat three months before the policy renewal. Do not let the agent call upon you according to his/her schedule. You lay out a calendar that you want him/her to meet.
- Make the agent/broker exhaust the insurance provider’s resources. They have brochures, newsletters, training presentations, and more to offer, so demand your money’s worth. Work with the agent to have something in front of your employees at least once a month. Insist that the agent be present for the open enrollment, to train, and to walk employees through the paperwork. Meet with your agent on a regular basis to review costing and loss experience.
- Your sacrifice means a lot to the staff so make sure to take credit where credit is due. At the same time, try to get out of the way. Insist that the insurance provider have a direct connection with employees – a dedicated customer service representative, a toll-free number for claims and program information, or online access.
- Create a portal in your offices where employees can access their insurance policy to make beneficiary changes or benefits changes.
- Begin to design your renewal program. Analyze how your program got to be what it is and at what cost. Try to define the trajectory it has been following and anticipate where it is headed. Then, you have a benchmark against which you can budget increases or reduce the benefits.
If you provide medical insurance benefits and plan to continue to do so into the PPACA era, you deserve the credit. But, it is up to you to communicate the costs of this benefit. This is anything but self-serving. It pays respect to your staff as well as to the valuable effort you have expensed.
Have you made a PEO part of your start-up business plan? You cannot build and grow your specialty business when you are preoccupied with people problems. You may want to be a job creator, however your new small business could be too much of a risk for new hires. If you want to attract good talent, you need something to entice and hold them. If you want to manage your business, you cannot devote 50+ percentage of your time to personnel issues. The following are three of the best reasons to partner with a Professional Employer Organization. 1. Risk
Small businesses can be paralyzed by compliance with labor laws, tax reporting, and workers’ compensation insurance. FSLA, FMLA, EEOC, HIPPA, PPACA, FUTA, SUTA – all these and more fill the alphabet soup of compliance regulations.
If you have employees, you must provide them with workers’ comp, insurance that will pay wages and medical expenses in the event of hours lost because of workplace injuries. (In Texas where coverage is voluntary, businesses are at a higher risk for employee lawsuits claiming your negligence.) But, insurance is not enough when the insurance company insists on safety policies, risk management
, and return-to-work plans.
It takes time and energy to do this even adequately, and labor and tax laws change repeatedly. If you can plan around the hassle of staying compliant with state and federal regulations, that’s great. But, if this eats into business growth time, you are shooting your own business in the foot. 2. Benefits
By the time you read this, you will know the impact of the Affordable Care Act (PPACA) on your ability to secure insurance benefits for yourself and your employees. More than ever, health benefits will be the deal breaker for employee recruiting and retention. The only way you can do this in the current marketplace is to find a power partner that can spread the risk, negotiate from a position of power, and directly serve your employee needs. You want to partner with the organization that can bring you benefits like 401(k) plans, dental and vision insurance, and other group plans in addition to medical insurance benefits. 3. Human Resources
You do not have to finish your first payroll to know you do not want to do that again. It is too demanding and complex to put on automatic. It requires accuracy and archiving, flexibility and standardization Regardless of the size of your business, payroll can be a huge tedious hassle. The detail must cross business functions and comply with seemingly dozens of regulations.
Moreover, payroll only opens the door to other personnel duties in filing, interviewing, recordkeeping, and lots, lots more. One problem is that to delegate these duties you need an experienced employee who, then, becomes a labor burden with no immediate impact on quality, performance, or customer satisfaction.
Only a Professional Employers Organization (PEO) can solve these problems. By co-employing your staff, you bank on the PEO’s experience and expertise to assess risk and provide risk management services, to design, craft, and place benefits packages at rates reduced by their position as a large employer, and to assume and execute all Human Resources duties. Plan and partner with the power of a PEO behind you before you finish your business plan.
The passing of Nelson Mandela has sparked a lot of talk about what a leader he was. And, that he certainly was. But, there has also been a lot of blogging drawing parallels between his moral values and business leadership needs. Most of this diminishes Mandela’s true legacy to a white paper.
Mandela was sui generis, a person unique to himself. He lived outside history, all the while immersed in it. He designed and delivered himself while radicalism and revolution incarcerated him.
A Noble Heritage
Mandela was actually born into tribal royalty, a member of the Mandiba clan. He carried the heritage in his bearing - tall, handsome, and charming. It gave him an air of authority that he would minimize as self-confidence, but this allowed him to move comfortably among the multi-racial multi-cultural constituencies of South Africa. The noble bearing gave him carriage and comportment from a sense that everyone shared his fundamental moral values. He simply and absolutely knew change was inevitable.
Mandela was involved in activism well before WWII. He shaped and was shaped by apartheid and its tragic implications and public effects. He organized and re-organized opposition until he was imprisoned for treason. Surviving prostate cancer and tuberculosis – not to mention solitary confinement and hard labor, he was finally released in 1990.
In the 30+ years since, he has served as President of South Africa, shared a Nobel Peace Prize, traveled, taught, and retired into some confidence that reconciliation is his greatest achievement and legacy. Elegant and charming, educated and noble, he left his nation inspired by his passion and spirit.
Now, What in this Belongs to Business Leadership?
Mandela was a leader, and he did have a style. Most saints do. They are driven by vision and the assumption that the vision is right and fitting. To the extent that we can imitate that, all the better. However, his life provides no allegory for running a manufacturing plant, a contract pharmacy, a football team, or whatever business model you happen to be in.
Mandela is a model of persistence, courage, dignity, authority, and more – all qualities we would admire in a business leader. But, what arrogance it is to lump him into the leadership publishing market.
The Exercise of Power
What we certainly can learn and imitate is Mandela’s magnificent exercise of power. To quote another seminal leader, Vaclav Havel, “The exercise of power is determined by thousands of interactions between the world of the powerful and that of the powerless, all the more so because these worlds are never divided by a sharp line: everyone has a small part of himself in both.”
Leadership – even business leadership – lies at this intersection. It differs from authority or position, which Mandela certainly had. It is not driven by money or intimidation. It is character or purpose-driven, the character he brought to his work, the character and behavior consistent with the character that leads. According to an Op Ed piece in the Washington Post, “he had the gift of making all those he met feel better about themselves.”
According to the man they call Mandiba, there is either hope in a situation, or there is not. You are united, or you are not. You forgive, or you do not. You are educated, or you are not. You are afraid, or you triumph over it. These are characteristics a business should exercise and can develop. It is either this leadership legacy, or it is not:
- “We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.”
- “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
- “When the water starts boiling it is foolish to turn off the heat.”
- “A leader. . .is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.”
- “It is wise to persuade people to do things and make them think it was their own idea.”
So speaks his memory.