6 Good Reasons Employees Will Stay at Your Small Business

small bizRetaining good employees can be a tricky task — especially for small business owners who feel like the carrots they offer their workforce aren’t of the same size, quality and variety as those being offered at larger companies. But providing the kind of work environment where hard-working people feel rewarded and invested in is something any business can do, regardless of size and quarterly earnings. If you’ve had some valuable team members jump ship recently, it may be time to retool the way your small business holds on to good people. Here are six practices your business should implement so you can keep a hold of good employees longer.

Good Communication

One of the most prominent complaints among departing employees is that their boss or manager was an ineffective or poor communicator. If you or anyone on your management team isn’t able to address employees in a respectful, open manner or communicate expectations clearly, you’ll eventually lose employees who want to work in an environment where they know what’s expected of them and where they know they’ll be spoken to with kindness and consideration. In all communication with your staff, you and your management team should aim at being clear, humble and receptive.

You Offer Good Benefits

Offering your team a competitive benefits package does a lot more than just get them in the door. Good benefits also keep good employees happy in the jobs they’re doing for you right now. Don’t doubt that your employees hear regularly about other jobs’ benefits packages from their friends and families. They know which employers offer paid maternity leave and paid vacation. They know whether or not their co-pay is high. While it can seem like a stretch for a small business to offer extra bells and whistles in a benefits package, doing so will keep your best employees with you over the long haul.

The Work Environment Has Little Conflict

The largest source of stress in individuals’ lives across the United States is work-related, and much of that work-related stress is due to conflict between people. If there are people on your staff who routinely cause trouble, exude negativity or otherwise impact the overall atmosphere of your work environment in a deleterious way, be proactive about helping them improve their people skills. The less conflict your employees deal with on a regular basis, the more likely they are to be happy enough to stay.

You Pay Them Competitively — and Give Them Raises

Money is still the name of the game when it comes to keeping your employees around. If your pay scale isn’t at least competitive with other businesses in your locale and industry, you’re likely to lose employees to a fatter paycheck — especially if you don’t offer annual or performance-based raises. Research shows that employees who stay at the same job more than two years are likely to make 50 percent less over the course of their careers than employees who take a different job more regularly. Why? It’s because many companies have almost entirely nixed raises, so if your employees want a bigger paycheck, they have to go elsewhere to get it. Keep your employees working for you by offering them good pay and routine raises. If you don’t, you’re just going to have to eventually hire someone at a higher wage to replace him or her.

Your Company’s Culture Is in Line With Their Values

If yoofficeu run a pesticide company, you’ll be hard-pressed to keep an employee who’s a staunch environmentalist. Sometimes, businesses and employees are simply not cut out for one another, but the ways a company’s culture is at odds with an employee’s values are usually more subtle than that. If the culture at your business isn’t open, honest, direct and people-centered, you’ll find it difficult to keep employees who are. Your company’s culture should embody the values you most desire in your employees. That way, the best interests of the company and its employees will be in line with one another, which will make retention a breeze.

The Work Is Enjoyable

Work can’t always be fun, but it should at least be enjoyable more often than it isn’t. Whether that enjoyment comes through co-worker interactions, company-sponsored events or the sheer pleasure and challenge of the day-to-day work itself doesn’t matter, but employees need to enjoy the time they’re putting in for you or they’re likely to be on the lookout for a different job where the enjoyment factor is more present.

You don’t have to have an on-site café or a ping-pong table to keep employees from taking jobs at other companies. By simply offering competitive wages, regular raises and a positive and enjoyable work environment, you’ll have no problem retaining the kinds of workers you need to keep being successful.

5 Steps to Getting a Handle on Your Finances

coffee notesFinances can be one of the most complicated, confusing and overwhelming aspects of life. Getting a handle on your finances, and keeping control, requires you to be honest with yourself about your spending habits and budgeting needs. You’ll also need to be very organized to keep track of important financial paperwork, and diligent when it comes to insurance policies, your credit report and protecting your identity from thieves.

However, getting your financial life organized isn’t as burdensome as you may think. The hardest part is getting started. Follow these steps to get and keep your finances squared away, from organizing paperwork to deterring identity theft.

Create a Filing System for Important Paperwork

Financial responsibility involves a lot of paperwork. You’ll have income tax returns, credit card bills, student loans and car loans, and eventually mortgage documents. Some of this paperwork you’ll need to keep for years or indefinitely; others you can toss sooner. But before you can organize this important paperwork, you’ll need to create a filing system. You probably won’t need an entire filing cabinet, though; just a file storage box will do.

Now, how long should you be keeping these important documents? It depends on what they are. For example:

  • Income tax returns and any relevant receipts, W-2s or 1099s should be kept for seven years, in case you’re audited
  • Mortgage documents should be kept indefinitely, until you sell the house
  • Bank statements should be kept for one year
  • Utility and credit card bills and relevant receipts should be kept for a year, in case you need to dispute an error

Create a Budget

A budget helps you maintain an awareness of how much you’re spending, so you can not only know how much you need to live comfortably, but also where you’re wasting money. Before you make a budget, track your spending for a month or two. This allows you to see where your money is going, so that you have a realistic idea of how much you need to allocate for each expense as well as where you can afford to cut some fat.

piggyOnce you know what your spending habits are without a budget, make a spreadsheet listing all your expenses. Don’t forget to set aside money in savings from each paycheck, both for your emergency fund and your long-term savings goals — saving is an important way to increase your wealth over time. You should also remember to budget a reasonable amount for things like going out or entertainment, and remember that you’ll have to adjust your budget as your needs change over time. If you have trouble budgeting, use personal finance tools like Mint or You Need a Budget.

Review Insurance Policies Annually

Once a year — or more often if you’ve experienced a life change like getting married, buying a house or having a child — you need to review your insurance policies. Going over your insurance policies can help you decide if you need to adjust your coverage to meet your changing needs. You may also want to consider changing your deductibles to save money on premiums, if you have enough money in your emergency fund to cover higher deductibles.

Watch Your Credit Report for Errors

One in five Americans has an error on their credit report from at least one of the three major reporting bureaus, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your credit score and fix any mistakes. Under federal law, you’re entitled to a free annual credit report from each of the three major reporting bureaus — stagger your free reports so you’re reviewing one version of your report every four months. Errors on your credit report can affect your ability to qualify for lower interest rates on credit cards, mortgages and auto loans, and can influence the price you pay for other services, like car insurance.

Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

Identity theft has become a huge problem, with 15 million victims a year sustaining $50 billion in damages. Protect your personal and financial information by shredding any sensitive financial documents before you dispose of them. Shred utility bills and credit card offers. Keep your financial paperwork safe from the prying eyes of houseguests and the hands of burglars. You might even consider using a credit monitoring service — many of these services offer assistance if your identity is ever stolen, as well as some amount of insurance coverage to mitigate costs associated with identity theft.

The prospect of getting your finances in order can seem daunting, but it’s mostly just a matter of getting organized. Once you’ve got your paperwork squared away and your budget sorted out, all you need is a little discipline to stay on top of your responsibilities.

I’m on a cleaning binge

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Good morning Loves.  It’s official…I’m on a cleaning binge.  You know how I told you I like to spend my Sundays in bed binge watching Netflix? Well with our upcoming move I’ve decided to let my binge fever get the best of me and I’ve started cleaning house.

I used to be a “I’ll keep it just in case” kind of girl, but now with our upcoming move I’m purging everything that I haven’t used in the last six months.  That’s right if I haven’t worn, used or touched something in my apartment since January 1, 2014 I am getting rid of it.

To be honest it really breaks my heart to throw my belongings away because I feel like throwing my stuff in the garbage is like throwing away money – and in some way it is.  However it is extremely unhealthy to keep clutter in my home.  I want to move to our new apartment with a fresh start and for me that means less stuff.

When is the last time you binge cleaned your home?

If you’re like me you bought clothes that you didn’t need because they were on sale and you keep shoes that look worn just because they’re comfortable.  But now we just have to man up (or pony up as my BF says) and throw our old and unwanted things away.

I shouldn’t say unwanted because that’s not what I meant.  All my stuff is wanted because I bought it.  Unusable is probably the right word.  Have you ever kept something that you loved even though it was old and worn and you probably won’t ever wear it again? Meet my cream colored belt.  I bought it three years ago at TJ Maxx because I saw J.Lo wearing a similar one in an interview; but other than that one summer I haven’t worn it since.   I keep it hanging in my closet just in case I need to wear a cream colored belt some day, but the truth is I shouldn’t keep it because I’m probably never going to wear it.

Why now?

When I told my mother (who is the neatest, cleanest person you’ll ever meet) she asked me “Why are you going on a cleaning tirade?”  I’m not sure it’s a tirade, more like a tornado; I’m the Sharknado of cleaning right now.

So back to the “why”?  We are moving in 30 to 45 days (no we still haven’t found a place) and the less stuff I have the less stuff I have to move.  Since we’ll be paying the movers by the hour I figured it was a good idea.

I have a lot of (unused) stuff

When I tell you that I have stuff I mean I have A LOT of stuff.  I am not a crazy hoarder or anything, don’t worry.  I just keep a hefty supply of lip gloss, nail polish, body wash and moisturizing cream on hand.  I don’t need all of it and honestly it’s just taking up space in my (tiny) apartment.  I am hoping the heartbreak of throwing out my belongings will be dramatic enough that it will stick with me and I’ll think twice before I buy another lip gloss…or whatever.

I am probably not going to become a minimalist, but I am definitely going to stop living in excess of certain things.  Stay tuned  over the next few weeks as I rifle through my clothes, shoes, bags and other stuff to get rid of unused items all around my apartment.

Long weekend vacations

Boston Harbor 3

Good morning Loves.  It’s already the middle of August and soon we’ll be celebrating Labor Day.  Before we know it summer will be over.  If you’re like me you love summer and you try to soak up every last ray over the warm months.  I live in the north east so unlike my friends out in sunny California we don’t get to see the sunshine and warm weather all year round.  Since there are only a few weeks left of summer I for one plan to take advantage of every last minute.

There is something fun about planning a trip in advance and having something to look forward to over the next few weeks.  However, there is something very exciting about booking a last minute trip for an extra long weekend, packing your bags and jumping in your car or hopping on a plane.  Am I right?

Living on the east coast puts me in close range of several great cities such as Boston, New York City and Burlington, Vermont.  There are also some cities on the east coast that I have yet to visit but hope to get to soon such as Washington, D.C., Charleston, South Carolina and anywhere in Connecticut.  I’m not sure why I want to go to Connecticut, but it just looks so great on T.V. and by T.V. I mean on Gilmore Girls.

Where would you go for a last minute vacation?

Here are three places I would love to spend a long weekend:

Boston, MA

Boston Aquarium 3There are so many great things to do in Boston.  It’s the perfect combination of historic America and a modern big city.  The buildings are old, it’s on the coast and the residents are extremely patriotic.  The vibe in Boston is very laid back – maybe it has something to do with all the water, churches and green spaces.  Everywhere you turn in Boston there is a church and they are all old and gorgeous.

Some of my favorite things to do in Boston are visit the New England Aquarium, walk along the harbor front and of course eat mac and cheese at the Quincy Market.  I love walking the streets of Boston and listening to people have conversations – you know I’m a sucker for a man with an accent.

New York City

IMG_0375I absolutely love NYC and I try to visit as often as I can until I move there someday, hopefully someday soon.  You can visit NYC several times a year and never see the same thing.  There are so many different places to stay, so many vibrant neighborhoods to visit and so many great restaurants to eat at that it’s like taking a new vacation every time you go.

My favorite places to visit in NYC are Central Park, downtown including the financial district, Little Italy and Canal Street, the upper west side and the American Museum of Natural History.

Burlington, VT

Vermont 2If you want a quiet, relaxing long weekend then head to Vermont.  Burlington is the cutest little city I ever did see and it’s full of small town charm.  It’s quaint and it’s the perfect place to relax in a wood cabin or stay at a four star spa.

The shopping in South Burlington is great and it has all the stable stores you’ll need to finish off your weekend getaway with a little retail therapy.