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Business Information by Gladys Edmunds

Business Information by Gladys Edmunds
At age 15 Gladys developed a travel service that would prosper for more than 30 years. She is a national award winning entrepreneur, keynote speaker, author and columnist. Visit her at www.gladysedmunds.com

Even A Small Business Needs A Little Formality

Even A Small Business Needs A Little Formality

Dear Gladys,

Can you help me with an employee situation? I own a successful exercise studio. And I use the word successful because I make a good living from my business. But, I sometimes fall short in handling employees. I usually don’t address issues related to vacation, time off, firing, or workman’s compensation until something happens to bring it up. My wife says that this is no way to run a business and that I should have a written employee policy manual. I’m sure she believes this because her employer has one. That seems like a lot of formality that I don’t think a small business like mine needs. What do you think?

Thanks - M. H.

Sometimes someone will start a business and think that because it’s a small operation it doesn’t need a little formality. Nothing could be further from the truth. And, if you are hiring people to work for you, both you and your employees will need something written to keep you both on the right track.

You said, “It seems like a lot of formality.” Perhaps it will become more palatable to you if you changed how you see a written manual. Instead of thinking of it as a formal intrusion, think of it as a way of expressing your visions and goals for your operation to your employees. Also, think of it as a tool that helps to keep you on track and to realize your visions and goals.

You can find books and templates to guide you in developing an employee policy handbook. Here are a few things that come to mind to get you started.

Terminating an employee can be a tough situation and it is important to know what the law has to say about this.

Most employment in the United States is considered “at-will.” This means that either party is free to end the employment with or without notice, as long as there are no binding contracts. Double check this with a lawyer and make sure that you and your staff fall under the “at-will” rule.

Workers compensation and unemployment policies and procedures should be written out in detail so that you are both clear on the pros and cons of both.

Several years ago, an entrepreneur called me to learn how she could stop a former employee from getting unemployment. During our conversation, I discovered that the woman had eliminated several positions due to a decrease in business. She got upset when I told her that her former employee was entitled to unemployment compensation.

In another case, I recall working with an entrepreneur who had a couple of employees that were working full time for this entrepreneur and collecting unemployment at the same time. When I questioned the entrepreneur about this he seemed clueless as to how his employees could also be collecting from his unemployment compensation plan. When I questioned the employees, they said that several friends had told them this was done all the time. It appeared that both the entrepreneur and his employees were unaware of the proper procedures.

Do me a favor and please put something in your policies handbook about cellphone use during working hours. This seems to be something that far too many businesses are overlooking.

A friend once invited me to a yoga class. The class was proving to be a welcomed, relaxing relief after a hectic day. But just as the instructor moved us into a shoulderstand, her cellphone rang. There we were, left with our toes pointing to the ceiling as we balanced our weight on our necks and shoulders while she answered her cell.

Listen to your wife. Develop an employee handbook. It could make life easier and even prove more successful with your business.