Guide to Giving Holiday Bonuses

At first thought, it probably seems like giving holiday bonuses is pretty cut and dry. You either have the money to give employees cash or you don’t. But it’s really not this simple at all.

If you don’t give cash, then what do you give? Gifts? Time-off? A holiday party? If you do give cash, how much do you give and should everyone get the same amount? And what happens if you give nothing at all?

The bonuses that employers give at the end of the year sends a message to employees. And, during the holidays, employees are listening. So before you give employees their bonuses, or don’t, think it over very carefully.

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What Is A Small Business?

Click for the PDF SBA FAQ

When most people think of a small business, we think of the little mom and pop shops in our neighborhoods – the small coffee shops and restaurants nobody’s every heard of. We think of the specialty shops and high end stores that struggle to compete with the multinational retail corporations. We think of startups with 5 or 6 employees and local businesses providing everyday services.

But small businesses in the United States constitute a much larger subset of the country’s businesses than you may imagine. Small businesses are just about everything underneath the Walmarts and Starbucks and make up a shocking 99.7 percent of employer firms (see above image).

The 5,684,424 small business firms in the country employ 113,425,965 people and make up for $5,164,897,905 in payroll. (These are statistics gathered by the US Census for 2011.) This is quite a chunk of the nation’s economy.

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Types of Leaders and Their Strengths

How to Motivate employeesSomeone emailed me this infographic last week and, by the title I thought, Oh please, there is so much of this junk bopping around on the internet, I’m not going to post this. But as I looked closer I saw that there is actually some interesting information here.

The graphic is indirectly about motivating employees. It describes leaders by their leadership style and shows ways to become a better leader by becoming more self-aware and broadening emotional intelligence. By so doing leaders have better abilities to motivate employees. I guess that’s why it’s entitled How to Motivate Employees…

Check it out. I think it inspires further reading.

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Closing Payroll Early to Cover Holidays

Did you know that businesses are supposed to follow regular payroll schedules? Businesses who don’t can get into big trouble so listen up if you’re new to this.

Employers can’t just pay their employees whenever they get paid from their clients and they can’t postpone payroll because they ran into a big expense. Nope. Employees must be paid in a timely manner, all the time. This means that a business should have some reserve for payroll because when the unexpected happens, employees still need to be paid.

If you think about it, you can see why it is so vital that employees are paid regularly and on time. Employees, just like anybody else, have bills and specific due dates for those bills. If they don’t get paid on time, they can’t pay their bills on time and that hurts their credit… bad. It is totally unfair to botch up an employee’s credit because your business is suffering and so that’s why there are laws against it.

On the flip side, if you don’t pay your employees on time, you can end up with a lawsuit that you probably won’t win. The DOL favors employees when businesses don’t follow wage and hour laws.

However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t set a schedule to make sure that employees get a check in time for the holidays.

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Paying Employees More Or Less Than the Standard Mileage Rate

The IRS Standard Mileage Rate is the rate provided by the IRS for mileage reimbursement for business use of  a personal vehicle. In 2014, the rate is 56 cents per mile. The rate is a guideline based on average gas prices and average wear and tear on a vehicle (gas reimbursement is a part of this rate).

Some people want to know if they can reimburse less than the standard rate. The answer is yes. Others want to know if they can reimburse more. The answer is also yes.

The IRS sets the rate for two reasons:

  1. To give employers a fair rate for paying back employees when they drive their own personal vehicles for work.
  2. To give employees a rate which they can use to deduct mileage on their taxes if the employer doesn’t reimburse or doesn’t reimburse the full amount.

It’s OK to customize the mileage rate based on what makes sense for your specific set of circumstances.

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Dodging Double Time – Is It Right?

OverworkedOur blog attracts both employers and employees who are searching for answers to their employment related questions. Last week, one of our posts, When is an Employee Paid Double Time, attracted the attention of a Californian employee who felt he was being abused by his employer, or at least, so I gathered from the tone in his comment.

This commenter ultimately raised a moral question: If you are a clever employer, you can effectively overwork your employees without paying them any double time at all. While the Californian government hasn’t created any laws against this sort of “loophole”, is it right?

This is definitely not going to be a common situation because the employee would still be owed a lot of regular overtime, and that overtime would be expensive, but someone left the comment so it must be happening to at least one person!

Here’s how it can happen:
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Supervisor Approvals for Timesheet Hours

Approved recordsMulti-level organizations often require that supervisors review data before sending it up the ladder to be reviewed by higher management. This generally takes place in larger companies. Most small companies don’t require this.

Our time tracking software has the approval/review process built right into the software. This eliminates the need for a paper trail and ensures that higher management is properly informed that the review has taken place. Supervisors can review both hourly time for payroll and project time for billing and mark all or some records approved.
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