Small micro-businesses, (those with less than 5 employees) have a culture or vibe that is decidedly different than larger organizations. Small and “cozy” and often distinctly “non-corporate”, smaller businesses often feel much more familial than larger organizations. Employees in smaller businesses may wear a number of different hats, and although the culture is one where employees have to roll up their sleeves and take a all hands on deck approach to the work, the atmosphere is often much more relaxed. Smaller companies often feel close knit and many smaller business owners pride themselves on a culture that is warm, friendly and collaborative.
These are attributes that make working for a smaller company very appealing but it can also contribute to problems when it comes to how owners perceive and manage staff. Common missteps include:
Not paying your employees on time.
Some – not all small businesses think that it is okay to be a few days late with their employees’ paycheck but federal and state mandates require that staff be paid appropriately. Your employees have obligations too and want to be paid on time for the work that they’ve done. All that it takes is a complaint to the right agency and your business could be subject to fair labor and pay standard violations which could includes fines.
Non-existent employee policies and procedures.
Regardless of the size of the business, there needs to be a level of transparency and clear communication. What are your expectations regarding clocking in? Do employees even need to clock in? What is your workplace safety strategy and policy? What happens when an employee is late or needs to take time off due to an extended illness?
Smaller businesses often eschew things like employee handbooks or any type of policy guidelines because they want the business to feel less corporate and more familial. But if you are faced with an employment lawsuit, the courts will want you to prove that your employees were made aware of their rights as it relates to employment policies. You’ll also need show that your staff are treated fairly and that there is consistency in how you apply employment actions such as terminations and employee hiring practices.
Crossing the line between employees and friend.
Most staff bring their best selves to work and are willing to work above and beyond what is expected; after which they want to go home to their friends and family. Blurring the lines between managing your staff and becoming their buddy can get a little hairy. I’m not saying that you can’t be friendly or cordial with your employees. You should care about the people who work for you. But if you are tempted to cross the line outside of work, beyond an occasional invite to a wedding, just think about how tough it will be to have a difficult workplace conversation with your employee who often comes to your home for barbeques. How do you handle firing a friend-employee because they are poor performers…
Using employees as personal assistants.
Please don’t hire staff for a specific job and then expect your employee to pick up your dry cleaning, babysit, or shop for groceries when you did not hire them to perform personal assistant tasks. Not only does this demoralize employees, but it could expose you and your company to unwanted legal action should something happen while the employee was running an errand for you or should an employee feel that they are being treated unfairly.
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