Employee engagement is among the chief concerns of small business owners. Here are five tips to keep employees engaged, happy, and productive....

Employee engagement is among the chief concerns of small business owners. Here are five tips to keep employees engaged, happy, and productive….Our content partner Nav.com has answers!

 

From big-picture organizational strategies to everyday operational tasks, the success of a business depends on the employees who make things happen. When employees are happy and have a vested interest in their jobs and the company, things run smoothly, but when workers become disenfranchised, the picture can become quite bleak.

According to a study by the Conference Board’s Engagement Institute, employees who check out can cost companies a whopping $450 to $550 billion dollars a year. And while your company may not lose billions of dollars at the idle hands of a few disengaged employees, widespread or ongoing disengagement can be detrimental to your brand and your bottom line.

How do you avoid this type of behavior? Here are five Cs to help you keep employees engaged and your company thriving.

 

How to Keep Employees Engaged at Work

Communication

If you’ve ever worked for a company or manager that practiced poor communication, you know how utterly exhausting it can be. Roles and expectations are unclear, strategies and development plans are hard to execute, and a lot of time and money is wasted.

When employees are set up for failure, as is often the case with poor communication, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to fulfill their job requirements and even more difficult to work as a unit. It’s also more likely that they’ll become disengaged.

By focusing on company communication, you can help keep leaders, departments, and employees on the same page, working towards the same detailed goal. Your communication efforts should start from the top down, as directors and managers are often responsible for communication company goals, policies, and expectations to their staff.

 

Collaboration

Engagement aside, collaboration is vital to any organization – when employees combine their skill sets and unique perspective to solve problems, the solutions are often more nuanced and more effective. Collaboration plays an equally important role in engagement.

When employees work together to solve a problem, they become a team working towards the same goal. This team mentality can help employees build relationships with their coworkers and gain a sense of accountability.

In addition, because collaboration, when done right, often results in faster results and more efficient processes, employees also gain a sense of accomplishment that can motivate them and fuel their engagement.  

 

Creativity

There are few things that crush the spirit of motivated workers like the phrase “we’ve always done it that way.” While there is a time and place for protocol and tradition, employees who feel they have no voice in implementing change or suggesting new ways of thinking aren’t likely to stay engaged.

It’s likely you hired your employees because they had a solid educational and or professional background, one they didn’t get from consistently falling in line or failing to think outside the box.

While no one is suggesting a daily initiative to reinvent the wheel, there are times when you should consider giving employees some space to be innovative, whether it be through brainstorming sessions, collaborative projects, or the chance to solve problems or get involved in initiatives that may extend past their given role.

 

Control

Similar to the importance of creativity, employees who are given some control over their day-to-day professional existence are often more likely to stay engaged and remain productive. The answer, of course, is not to move to a “wild west” approach, but instead, to allow for increased control where it makes sense.

What does more control look like? That depends on the company. For some, it may be giving employees a stronger voice in strategy, company policy, and development decisions. In others, it’s more freedom during the workday. For example, some companies allow employees to come in earlier in the day and leave earlier in the afternoon, as long as they meet their eight-hour quota. Others allow for remote work on occasion.

The ability to make decisions creates a sense of value and control, and for employers, that can translate employees who feel an increased sense of investment in their job and the company.

 

Culture

It’s true that “company culture” has become somewhat of a buzzword in today’s professional society, but that shouldn’t signal a lack of value. Company culture is often considered the driving force behind engagement and productivity.

Individuals that work for companies that communicate well, clearly value and support employees, and provide a positive and healthy environment are more likely to be engaged.

If you have poor retention rates and a notable engagement issue, then it’s likely that your company culture is at least partially to blame.

Contrary to what some may believe, “culture” doesn’t mean you need to model your business after some trendy tech company with open workspaces, a ping pong table, and an office pet.

Instead, it should be a unified approach to everyday business that encourages collaboration, free-thinking, and employee confidence. It also should be one that allows employees to have a strong work-life balance, which makes them feel valued and avoids burnout.

How do you create a strong company culture? Clearly outline your vision and your mission, and make sure that it’s designed to support and encourage your employees as they work towards achieving your company goals.

When employees aren’t engaged, they aren’t contributing to the overall growth and development of your brand, but before you place the blame on them, ask yourself if you’ve created an environment in which employees can and do thrive. Though everyone struggles with engagement here and there, if it’s a widespread problem, chances are it’s a deep-rooted issue that you need to address at the company level.

 

This article originally appeared on Nav.com and was re-purposed with their permission.

 

 

For information about Opportunity Fund’s small business loans, please contact us at 866-299-8173 or loans@opportunityfund.org.  For questions about your existing loan or other customer service questions, please contact us at 866-299-8173 or sbhelp@opportunityfund.org.

Loans are subject to credit review. Additional documentation may be required for credit approval. Loans will be made or arranged pursuant to California Department of Corporations Finance Lenders License #6050609.

Opportunity Fund, the nation’s leading nonprofit small business lender, believes small dollar loans help hard-working entrepreneurs make lasting change in their own lives and build stronger communities by growing businesses and creating jobs. Opportunity Fund’s community of donors and investors is creating an inclusive financial system that empowers women, immigrant, and minority small business owners. Our strategy combines microloans for small business owners and New Markets Tax Credit investments in high-impact community infrastructure projects. Since 1994, Opportunity Fund has deployed more than $750 million and helped thousands of entrepreneurs invest in their families’ futures. The organization has committed to lending an additional $1.2 billion to small business owners across the country and investing $174 million in community real estate projects by 2023.

Visit us online at http://opportunityfundloan.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Small businesses have a lot of accounting needs. You may feel qualified to handle them on your own, but you might need some help....

Small businesses have a lot of accounting needs. You may feel qualified to handle them on your own, but you might need some help….Our content partner Nav.com has answers!

 

As a small business owner, you’re probably looking for ways to save money on operating costs whenever possible. You might even have a bit of financial knowledge, so why not handle the books yourself? After all, you know the basics of bookkeeping and pay attention to details. But at what point should you hand over this crucial responsibility to a professional?  

The reality is that bookkeeping is not the same thing as accounting. Bookkeeping involves the recording of a business’ finances, and accounting encompasses much more. Accountants analyze, interpret, plan and summarize an organization’s finances to help leaders make informed decisions when running the business. It’s possible to automate most or all of your business’ simple bookkeeping tasks with software.

When Do I Need an Accountant?

Chances are, if you’re asking that question, you already know that you want help. It’s important to not get in over your head with your business’ finances, as you can end up making errors that lead to massively expensive problems down the road.

In reality, you can benefit from an accountant’s help in nearly every step of operating a small business, from acquiring licensing to selling your organization. Starting off with an accountant can help you learn more about bookkeeping basics, establishing payment structures, meeting regulatory demands, developing your financial strategy and much more.

If you already know a great deal about the fundamentals of bookkeeping and have a solid financial strategy when you’re just starting out, you may be able to hold off on hiring an accountant in the initial stages of your business. On the other hand, if you need help preparing taxes, restructuring your books, acquiring licensing, securing small business funding or planning, the cost of hiring an accountant can easily pay for itself when you consider the mistakes and headaches you end up avoiding in the long run.  

What Are My Options?

Some accountants will work on a retainer, while others require an hourly rate for time spent on your business. If you need help but still feel that you can’t afford hiring a professional, you can look for an accountant consultant who will meet with you to establish your own process, interpret financial data and answer questions as they arise.

When you take away the stress and burden of small business accounting, you’ll have more time and energy to run your organization. Accountants specialize in navigating an already confusing maze, so you’ll benefit your bottom line with the help of a professional.

 

This article originally appeared on Nav.com and was re-purposed with their permission.

 

For information about Opportunity Fund’s small business loans, please contact us at 866-299-8173 or loans@opportunityfund.org.  For questions about your existing loan or other customer service questions, please contact us at 866-299-8173 or sbhelp@opportunityfund.org.

Loans are subject to credit review. Additional documentation may be required for credit approval. Loans will be made or arranged pursuant to California Department of Corporations Finance Lenders License #6050609.

Opportunity Fund, the nation’s leading nonprofit small business lender, believes small dollar loans help hard-working entrepreneurs make lasting change in their own lives and build stronger communities by growing businesses and creating jobs. Opportunity Fund’s community of donors and investors is creating an inclusive financial system that empowers women, immigrant, and minority small business owners. Our strategy combines microloans for small business owners and New Markets Tax Credit investments in high-impact community infrastructure projects. Since 1994, Opportunity Fund has deployed more than $750 million and helped thousands of entrepreneurs invest in their families’ futures. The organization has committed to lending an additional $1.2 billion to small business owners across the country and investing $174 million in community real estate projects by 2023.

Visit us online at http://opportunityfundloan.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Each month, we promote affordable events that help small business owners run their businesses better. This is your monthly calendar for in-person events in California and virtual events you can join from anywhere. Here are the best upcoming events in June.

Each month, we promote affordable events that help small business owners run their businesses better. This is your monthly calendar for in-person events in California and virtual events you can join from anywhere. Here are the best upcoming events in June.

Northern California/Sacramento

Understanding Contracts
Date: Mon, June 17, 2019 | 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM PDT
Location: 455 Market Street, Suite 600. San Francisco, CA 94105  
Contact: sfomail@sba.gov | 415-744-6777
Organization: San Francisco SBA Entrepreneur Center
Fee: Free

Facilitated by a lawyer, this workshop is aimed to help business owners who would like to learn more about how to create contracts for their business. Discussion topics include:

  • Tendering a contract
  • Understanding commonly-included boilerplate language
  • Responsibilities, roles, and obligations of the parties
  • Suggestions for successful management of contracts
  • Extensions of time
  • Negotiation techniques
  • How to understand and use non-compete and non-disclosure clauses
  • Contract enforcement.

Click here to register for this event.

Choosing a Retirement Solution for Your Small Business
Date: Thur, June 13, 2019 | 1:30 PM – 3:00 PM PDT
Location: 455 Market Street, Suite 600. San Francisco, CA 94105  
Contact: sfomail@sba.gov | 415-744-6777
Organization: San Francisco SBA Entrepreneur Center
Fee: Free

A representative from the U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) will provide a presentation focused on choosing a retirement solution for your small business. To ensure a financially secure future, it is critical to make the right choices. The U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration can help you start today. Registration required.

Click here to register for this event.

Understanding the Power of Video Content for Your Business
Date: June 26, 2019 | 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm PDT
Location: 1500 MacDonald Ave. Richmond
Contact: Lucero De Leon | 510-221-2003 | ldeleon@rencenter.org
Organization: Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center
Fee: Free

You’ve got 6 Seconds: Understanding the Power of Video Content and how to Engage your audience.

The purpose of this workshop is to understand the power of video content and how a business can use it to connect with their audiences. We will be discussing the different types of video content for the major Social Media platforms: Facebook and Instagram. We will also discuss formatting, time lengths, and the differences between posting on your timeline vs. posting on stories. Lastly, how you can benefit and curate content for your audiences.

Click here to register for this event.

 

Southern California/San Diego

Top 10 HR Mistakes For California Employers and Avoiding HR Landmines
Date: June 13, 2019 | 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM PDT
Location:   880 National City Blvd, National City
Contact: Analia Corrales | (510) 205-6488
Organization:  North San Diego SBDC
Fee: Free

Ever wondered what the top HR issues small business owners face in Southern California? Then this class is for you! We have compiled information on the top HR issues for small California business owners as well as the potential claims and litigations associated with these issues. Join us as our certified professionals walk through the issues and find out what you need to put in place to protect your business. Workshop Highlights Include * How to prevent top local HR lawsuits for small businesses * What new policies should be in your employee handbook and job descriptions * Latest legal updates for this and next year * Understand what to do to reduce risk from claims and avoid fines * How the latest changes to workers comp, retirement and benefits will affect you next year Avoiding HR Landmines For Small California Employers We pleased to invite you to our most comprehensive Human Resources workshop ever!

Click here to register for this event.

Empowering Mompreneurs: How To Use Flexible And Fixed Focus To Increase Your Income
Date: Wednesday, June 26, 2019 | 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM PDT  
Location: 1003 East Cooley Drive. Suite 109 Colton, CA
Contact: (909) 890-1242
Organization: Inland Empire Women’s Business Center
Fee: $20

Being a mompreneur is more than just work-life balance; it takes organization, management, and a serious commitment. Join scientist and mompreneur facilitator Tonya Moore and learn simple, proven strategies on how to have both a happy family and a thriving (and profitable!) business.

Click here to register for this event.

The Art of Pricing
Date: June 18, 2019 | 9:00 am – 11:00 am
Location: 5121 Van Nuys Blvd., Suite 300A Sherman Oaks, CA
Contact: info@vedc.org | 818-907-9922
Organization: VEDC Women’s Business Center
Fee: Free

Are you getting the best bang for your buck? Pricing your product or service correctly is tied to many factors like:

  • Competition
  • Cost of goods
  • Perception of value
  • Time
  • And more…

Join us and learn how to calculate your costs to get you where you want to be.

Click here to register for this event.

 

Virtual

ICE Is Here! How to Prepare for and Handle Immigration Audits
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Melissa Ford | admin@saceac.com
Organization: Sacramento Employer Advisory Council
Fee: $10

In California’s “sanctuary state,” recent headlines still have employers and workers alike in a state of panic that ICE will soon be knocking at their door. Attend this webinar to create a plan for ICE audits, so you can remain calm and keep your workers informed about what is really going on.

This informative webinar will cover such topics as:

What to do if ICE shows up;

  • How to implement the new Sanctuary State requirements under AB 450;
  • How to identify a warrant or subpoena;
  • The difference between a raid and an audit;
  • How to prepare for any agency visit;
  • How to prepare your workers for when any agency shows up;
  • Your rights during an agency visit;
  • Common I-9 errors;
  • How to audit yourself;
  • What an I-9 Audit looks like;
  • And the new notice requirements for an I-9 Audit.
  • With a little bit of preparation, you will be ready and able to keep in the peace in your workplace.

Click here to register for this event.

How to Get Leads Online Month After Month Without an Agency
Date: June 6, 2019 | 11:00 am – 12:00 pm PDT
Location: 5121 Van Nuys Blvd., Suite 300A Sherman Oaks, CA
Contact: info@vedc.org | 818-907-9922
Organization: VEDC Women’s Business Center
Fee: Free

How to get leads online month after month without an agency.

In this free webinar, we’ll cover how to create the perfect lead funnel that turns cold leads into sales.

You can use these proven marketing methods that your competitors have forgotten about to crush your competition.

  • Learn how to ethically spy on your competitors’ traffic and get it all for yourself.
  • Learn how to turn traffic into leads.
  • Heck, I even show you how to use proven ads your competitors use for your own.
  • … and much, MUCH More!

Don’t miss this breakthrough webinar that will finally show you how to put your sales funnel on auto pilot and continue to generate sales without doing a thing.

Click here to register for this event.

Navigating Worker Classification and Independent Contractor Status
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Melissa Ford | admin@saceac.com
Organization: Sacramento Employer Advisory Council
Fee: Free

In this ever-changing regulatory landscape, the challenges of ensuring proper worker classification and Independent Contractor engagements are becoming more complicated. The potential consequences of misclassifying workers range from IRS fines and assessments to liability for unpaid overtime and state-specific penalties. Employers need to ensure they are engaging with properly classified workers.

This presentation will explore:

  • The difference between and employees and ICs
  • How IC status is determined
  • Current regulatory landscape and recent CA court decisions
  • Misclassification and enforcement risks
  • Best practices for IC engagement

Click here to register for this event.

 

We’re looking for upcoming events to promote to small business owners like you. If you have an event you’d like to share with fellow business owners, contact us at sblending@opportunityfund.org.

For information about Opportunity Fund’s small business loans, please contact us at 866-299-8173 or loans@opportunityfund.org.  For questions about your existing loan or other customer service questions, please contact us at 866-299-8173 or sbhelp@opportunityfund.org.

Loans are subject to credit review. Additional documentation may be required for credit approval. We are an Equal Opportunity Lender. Loans will be made or arranged pursuant to California Department of Corporations Finance Lenders License #6050609.

Opportunity Fund is tackling economic inequality so that hard work and perseverance means a shot at getting ahead, not just struggling to get by. Our programs are supported by a community of donors and investors whose contributions help to fund small businesses and build stronger families and vibrant neighborhoods. Since 1994, the team has deployed $700 million and helped thousands of families invest in their own futures. Opportunity Fund has earned a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator, for our commitment to accountability and transparency.

Visit us online at opportunityfundloan.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Opportunity Fund. Working Capital for Working People. opportunityfund.org