Welcome to the Company: Ideas for Successful Onboarding

Hiring new employees can be an exciting time – for both you and the new hire! After all, you found an awesome addition to your team, and you’re excited to show them how great your business is. Although having a new hire can be really fun, it can also be really stressful – especially for the new person.

You want to alleviate stress for your new hire by giving them a smooth transition into your business. So, how do you do that? Here are some ideas for giving your new hire a smooth start in your business.

  • Start with the small stuff: When your new hire starts, there are some seemingly small items that can actually help make the transition a little easier for them. Consider a small welcome gift they can use in the office, such as a water bottle or coffee mug. Also, make sure to show them where the bathrooms are, how to use the copy machine and what to do if they’re having computer problems, to name a few. Although these may seem small, these items can help your new hire feel comfortable in the new environment.
  • Use the buddy system: Consider pairing your new hire with an employee who’s been with the company for a while. The buddy can be the new hire’s go to person if they have questions and concerns about getting acclimated within the company. The buddy can also share some of their tips, tricks and experiences, which can ultimately help the new hire get a great understanding of the ins and outs of the business. Having a buddy can also help the new hire feel more comfortable simply because they know someone within the company and are not all alone.
  • Hands-on approach: What better way to learn than by doing? A great way to get your new hire involved and comfortable is to start them off by doing rather than by watching. Whether it be a computer program or making phone calls, involving them from the get-go can provide beneficial training. It also allows the new hire to ask questions in real time as they arise, rather than scrambling for an answer if an issue comes up. However, try not to give them too much hands-on training right away. You want to help them feel comfortable, not overwhelm them.

 

  • Team involvement: Right from the beginning, it’s important to involve the entire team your new hire will work with. Whether it be going out for lunch on the first day or just holding a brief introduction meeting, letting your new hire meet the people he or she will be working with the most gives a level of familiarity which can help lead to better productivity. When the team works well together, better results are often produced.

 

Gaining a new employee is a fun and exciting step for your business. To reduce stress for them (and you), and to give them a smooth transition, consider some of these ideas. When your employees work well together, you can watch your business thrive.

*Bonus: If you need help with new hire onboarding, let us know. Our outsourced HR services can help make sure your new hire has an easy transition.

Important Items When Hiring

Have you ever thought about hiring staff? You know, bringing in employees to work beside you in your business to keep it awesome and running smoothly? As a business owner, it’s likely the thought has at least crossed your mind. What you might not have thought about is the legalities that come along with hiring staff.

Before you hire staff, the Small Business Administration says you need to take care of some very important to-do items.

  1. Employer Identification Number (EIN) — To hire employees, you will need to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS by filing an application. This can be done on the IRS website. An EIN is the unique code the IRS uses to identify your company – similar to how your social security number identifies you.
  2. Forms W-2 and W-4 — Having employees means you will have to file taxes on their wages. You will need your employees to fill out W-4 forms when they are hired. You will also need to submit W-2 forms for employees to Social Security. Getting these records set up right away will make for smooth(er) sailing during tax season.
  3. Form I-9 — You also need to make sure the employees you’re hiring are legal to work in the United States. To do this, you as the employer will need to complete Form I-9 within three days of hiring someone. You may need to do an online verification during this step as well. This will depend on what state you are in and whether you are a Federal contractor or sub-contractor.
  4. Two Words: Worker’s Compensation — In the somewhat unlikely – but still very serious – event someone gets injured on the job, you typically need to pay worker’s compensation. Your business will need to have specific insurance to cover this, and this insurance needs to be in place as soon as you have employees. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
  5. Form 941 — More on taxes. Employers who pay wages are usually subject to other taxes, such as social security. Because of this, employers have to file Form 941, or the Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return.
  6. New Hire Reporting — You will need to register with your state’s New Hire Reporting Program, which is essentially just a large directory of all employees. Employers must report newly hired or rehired workers within 20 days. What must be reported? Federal and state laws in North Dakota, for example, require you report the employee’s name, address, social security number, date of hire and whether or not health insurance is offered. These criteria can vary from state to state.
  7. Workplace Posters — Employers are required by law to display certain posters in the workplace. Such posters usually inform employees of their rights under labor laws. Some examples include the Equal Employment Opportunity poster, the Fair Labor Standards Act poster and the Family and Medical Leave Act poster. Most of these posters can be found online through the US Department of Labor’s website.

Hiring employees can be an exciting step for your business. Not only can they help your business succeed, but they may be a sign that business is good and you need more help to serve your customers.

If you have any questions about the hiring process, our HR consultants are here to help you take this step!

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Engage Your Employees in the Hiring Process

When going through the hiring process, the obvious end goal is to hire the best talent. However, you’ve probably never realized this same hiring process can actually help you hold onto and develop the employees you already have!

Think to the most recent interview you had with a candidate. Who was in the room with you? Was it just the hiring manager and the candidate, or were there more people involved? The interview is a key point to get your employees involved.

Once you have your candidates narrowed down to the final options, bring in staff the candidate would be working with. Let them sit in on the interview and get to know the candidate.

Why? Here are a few good reasons:

  • Another Point of View – Allowing other staff members to sit in on an interview brings in another set of ears, as well as a fresh perspective and relevant expertise. If this employee is going to be the new hire’s direct supervisor, he or she will know better than anyone what skills and characteristics this candidate should possess. Involving this employee allows for another person to get a feel for the candidate and to help decide how they would fit in the organization.
  • Team Fit – They say a first impression goes a long way, and this is true for both parties. Having multiple staff members present in the interview helps the candidate get an immediate feel for the company culture and can be a great way to help them feel comfortable in the position, if hired. Another benefit is the potential to see how well the candidate gets along with the staff. In any team, the team is only as strong as its weakest player. You want to make sure all members of the team interact well with each other, and that there are no clashing personalities to hinder the success of the team.
  • Professional Development – Aside from the staff members getting to know the candidate, they are also getting to know the company better. Staff members may learn interesting facts and policies of the company they were not previously aware of. This can cause for curiosity to rise in these employees, and they may have a desire to get more involved and learn more about these issues.

After the interview is where you are really able to work on developing your employees. When the interview has concluded, take time to debrief. By debrief, we mean meet with your employees for discussion. And yes, we said meet – this type of conversation is best held in person, not over email.

If members of the team work in different offices and an in-person meeting is hard to facilitate, try a face-to-face meeting online. Although you are not physically together, the face-to-face communication is still present, allowing for stronger communication.

Debriefing with your employees after the interview is crucial. This allows a designated time and space for everyone involved to get together and compare notes on the candidate. It is also, however, the perfect time for employees to bring up questions they may have formulated relating to teams and the company itself.

When employees get together to discuss the interview, they are also able to discuss problems within the team and ideas for trying to solve them. This allows for employees to get more involved in the business, and have their input heard and valued by other members of the team. Employees will also get a chance to put in their two cents about how this candidate could help solve these problems in the team.

Finally, during the debrief, everyone must present their reasoning for why this candidate should or shouldn’t be hired. The idea here is to be sure everyone is on the same page. If some aren’t, this allows time to address concerns before the hire, rather than after the candidate has already joined the team.

Maybe you’ve read this blog so far and thought “but I’m filling a senior position, why should I do this?” The answer is simple: everyone in the organization is part of the team. For the team to be cohesive and successful, the members must get along and work well together. Involving employees, no matter how big or small the position, can help ensure you are creating a winning team.

 

 

4 Things to Consider Before Hiring a Friend

Have you ever encountered a situation where a friend wants to work for your company? After all, you started this great new thing and now they want to be part of the action. You’re excited – who wouldn’t want to get to spend all day with their friends? You are sure you have something they can do at the company. However, before extending them an offer, take a look at these four very important aspects to consider before hiring a friend.

  1. Is this role necessary? | Although you really want to find a place for your friend to fit into the organization, it is important to take a look at the position he or she will be filling. If the position is necessary to the company, then you’re off to a good start. One way to assess whether or not the position is necessary or if you are just making it up for your friend is to step back and think, “Would I post this position and hire a skilled person who isn’t my friend?” If you realize you are only creating a position specifically for your friend, you are not doing your friend any favors (more on this later).
  2. Does your friend possess the right fit and motivation to match your company? | It is important to step back and try to remember when your friend became interested in your company. Have they always been by your side, maybe helping you with business steps along the way, or did their motivation to support your business come only when they were in need? If you find that they have been a longtime supporter, you can proceed with caution. It is still important to keep in mind that your friend should match with the company culture and values, not just match up with your own personal values. This friend may be excellent to spend time with out of work, but in a business setting they may not have what it takes to fit in with the company.
  3. Are you planning with a clear mind? | As mentioned before, it is important to be sure that this position is actually necessary to your company. You need to consider what the position title is, what the day-to-day activities include, who your friend will report to, what the limits are on decision making and what some signs are that the friend is not making it in the job. Having these planned out and answered before hiring your friend can save a lot of time if he or she doesn’t work out, or if you realize that there may not be an actual position for your friend to occupy. It is important to do this planning with a clear mind, treating the friend as you would any other candidate when answering these questions.
  4. Are you prepared to have a tough conversation? | Having a tough conversation with your friend could come up in many different scenarios. You may have to inform them that they are not working up to par, or that you feel they do not fit with the company and that you will be terminating them. If your friend isn’t a fit for your company, you need to give them the respect of telling them directly, rather than beating around the bush and trying to make something workout. If you are unwilling or unable to have an honest conversation with them, it may be a red flag that having them working at your company will not work out.

Taking into consideration these four ideas will assist you in making the decision to hire a friend or not, and will smooth out the process along the way.

No Man’s Land: Outgrowing Your Management

Welcome back to our discussion on No Man’s Land. In last week’s blog, we discussed the trials and challenges of market misalignment, and how to overcome this tricky situation (a refresher can be found here.)

So, now that your company has been growing and may even be heading toward misalignment, you need to look at making sure your business stays on track. The way to do this, according to Doug Tatum, author of No Man’s Land, is through experienced management and a control system that protects and enhances the firm’s core value proposition.

Why is this important? Well, the value proposition is, after all, what brought your customers to you in the first place.

To make it through No Man’s Land, a growing company needs to complement the entrepreneur’s skills and ideas by introducing experience based expertise. The best way to do this is for the entrepreneur to delegate to senior management or other positions with high influence the responsibility of implementing and managing the control system. Although delegating this power may bring about a fear of losing control of the company, delegating is the only way to gain back control in a growing business. To be successful with delegating this power, you will need people by your side who have experience and can prove they know what they are doing.

To grow, you need a team that can implement change. This type of team provides many important benefits:

  • A smoother route to securing funding which can drive the company’s pre-money valuation higher. Having an experienced team reduces business risk and acts as a powerful endorsement of the company’s potential.
  • Allowing the entrepreneur to concentrate on what he or she does best as they switch to new roles. With professional staff establishing systems that perform operational tasks more accurately and efficiently, the entrepreneur has the freedom to set the course for the company as a whole and get back to why they went into business in the first place.
  • New ideas and fresh perspectives. This new company DNA gives the entrepreneur the ability to look ahead and prepare for changes.

To decide if it is time for delegation of tasks throughout the organization, look for these symptoms in your current team:

  • Weary and tired
  • All decisions come back to you
  • You are being stretched thin
  • Making decisions based on instinct rather than fact
  • Longtime employees in over their heads
  • Questions that can’t be answered
  • Difficulty in finding and retaining new talent
  • Decision making has been hindered

A combination of any of these signs may point to the fact that it is time to face the painful issue of management transition. It is hard to let go of some employees, but it is important to remember that some people just won’t make it to the next level.

So, now that you realize you have a need for a senior management team, how do you go about hiring these people? Let’s dive into some common myths about hiring so you can learn the best practices to follow.

Myth #1: You need to determine where you are weak and hire in those areas.

    • This advice isn’t terrible, but it can be worded differently to give it better meaning. Rather than focusing on where the business is week, its best to figure out the company’s strengths and protect them with delegating authority.
    • “Companies need to delegate those parts where experience, knowledge, and accurate analytical judgement reign supreme-Doug Tatum

Myth #2: For the company to grow, the entrepreneur needs to be replaced with a CEO.

    • It has been said that entrepreneurs aren’t capable of leading a large company, but this isn’t exactly true. In fact, entrepreneurs often have exactly the skills required to bring a company immense success. Just think of Apple and Microsoft, to name a few.

Myth #3: Credentials are the most important attribute of candidates.

    • Credentials are important, but it’s also important to stay true to company culture when hiring! This culture is the heartbeat of the organization, and envelopes the firm’s common understandings and supports its core values.

Myth #4: Culture is the reason firms fail to embrace outside hires.

    • This idea couldn’t be more false. You want your new hires to be able to push for change while also adhering to company culture. The way to ensure this happens is by establishing trust. This way, newcomers won’t feel the need to overcome culture, but rather can prove they can be trusted to make decisions wisely and according to culture.

Myth #5: Professional Management ensures value and growth by ridding the company of chaos.

    • As nice as it sounds to just get rid of chaos, that is not the case. The key to growing and making money is actually to mess the business up and then clean it up in a balanced manner. A certain amount of chaos is good for a company, as long as it is kept in balance.

Myth #6: A growing company should hire in the middle, not for senior management.

    • This myth also proves false, as hiring in the middle increases the burden on the entrepreneur and can be harmful to the company. Hiring at the top allows a company to bring in someone with experience who can help the company grow.

These myths show that it is indeed important for entrepreneurs to get senior management who can take the company to the next level on board. So, if you find yourself ready to grow, it may be time to consider this step.

Keep in mind that failure to complete the management transition could keep you stuck in “No Man’s Land.”

 

 

 

 

Hiring the Right People

By: Alyssa Johnson and Allison Ausmus, Eide Bailly’s Recruiting Team

We begin with a story. You need help to build your company. So you decide to hire some new staff. You start out with high hopes. After all, this person will be the missing piece to your team puzzle. You write the position, it gets approved and you open it. You go through all the tried & true steps, remain patient and trust that the perfect candidate will come along.

Unfortunately, this is the way too many business go about their hiring process. They stick with what has worked in the past. After all, if it’s not broke, why fix it? They don’t worry about adopting new practices in order to attract the best candidates. Rather, they hold out hope that the right candidate will find them. But what if they don’t?

Hiring the right people has a huge impact, no matter the size of your company. So it’s important to get it right. In order to help you prevent these mistakes from happening, we’ve compiled a list of mistakes organizations make when it comes to finding and hiring the right people.

We’re not saying they’re magical or anything, but by avoiding these mistakes you can hopefully have a much smoother and more successful hiring process:

Not updating the job posting or having an unclear job description. We’ve all been there. Someone leaves and you need someone ASAP to replace them. So you copy paste the old job posting and use it.

Do yourself a favor and take a moment to re-evaluate what you really want when you have an open position. Is this truly the role you need? Did the last person live up to your expectations? If your job posting does not accurately depict what you are looking for, you are going to have a frustrating time hiring & retaining your new employee.

Also, keep in mind what top talent is looking for: advancement potential. Research from Randstad reveals that most staff leave firms due to lack of career advancement. So it would be wise to develop a position that has the opportunity for advancement.

Relying on employee referrals to fill the position. While employee referrals are great, they should not be your only source of candidates. When you rely solely on employee referrals, you can limit the types of candidates you get, as well as the diversity of candidates (which can have some serious legal ramifications). Rather, encourage employee referrals by asking your current employees to share an open position with their network. Then post the position in a variety of places.

Hiring for a perfect paper match. Some qualifications and skills are nonnegotiable when it comes to hiring (think education requirements, certifications or credentials, as well as pervious relevant experience). But remember, you’re not perfect and neither are the people you’re interviewing. So think through what skills are absolute and what skills are “nice to haves” but not deal breakers.

Don’t get stuck in the rut of finding that “perfect candidate.” If you expect to find someone who checks off every requirement on the job posting, it can also draw out the hiring process for a long time.

Not conducting background checks or reference checks. A company, at minimum, should be conducting background checks on every candidate they plan to extend an offer to. Make sure this happens before an offer is even made. Why? Well surveys show that as many as a third of candidates lie on their resume.

Reference checking is more gray. Companies need to be careful when conducting reference checks, as they do not want to jeopardize the candidate’s current employment. A best practice is to ask the candidate for references of past employers (not family, friends, etc.). Let them know the type of people you would like to have as references, such as current or previous supervisors or managers, a client, a vendor, a subordinate or a coworker.

Once you get the go-ahead from the candidate to reach out to their references, make sure you know what you’re asking. Jot down questions you want to ask or any issues you want to address. Let the reference know this will be kept confidential, and then make sure you do just that – keep it confidential and use this information as a piece in decision making.

Not preparing before the interview. You’ve found a great candidate and you schedule an interview for Thursday. It’s now Thursday morning and your week has been crazy so you haven’t prepared at all. This isn’t great. Failing to do a structured interview is a big mistake. Structured interviews have been shown to have twice the predictive reliability than unstructured interviews.So what should you do?

  • Prepare and write down a list of standard interview questions to ask every candidate you interview for this particular position
  • Take time to review the resume and develop questions based on items you would like to address
  • Gather information you want to share with the candidate about your culture, team dynamics, projects they will work on, job expectations, advancement potential, etc.

Hiring can be exhilarating, frustrating and oh so rewarding. With these tips in mind, you will be on the way to identifying the ideal fit for your organization, while providing a positive experience for you, your team mates and the candidate.

Finding the Right Accountant

It’s the holiday season and your kids are pouring through catalogs, searching online and making extensive Christmas lists (okay, admit it, we’re describing you). We take care to make lists, check them twice and ensure people know exactly what we might be “surprised” to find underneath the Christmas tree.

All this work for one time a year. What if you put the same effort into finding someone to help your business grow and succeed? Someone who not only understood your books but could help you project, forecast and make sure all the boxes were checked. That person is your accountant (come on, would you expect anything less from us?).

Too often, small businesses adopt the DIY model until the finances become too complicated, or too much of a mess, before they call someone in. Finding the right accountant for your organization early (whether it be someone on your staff or hiring an outside firm)  is a gift that will give continually to your organization.

But how do you know what to look for? Similar to the search for the perfect gift, research is key. Here are things you should be sure to put on your accountant wish list:

They know their stuff. We’re talking degree(s) obtained, GPA, certifications (CPA, CMA), continuing education, accounting software experience/background and more. Further, make sure to take a long look at their resume, as it’s truly your first impression. Do they have proven accounting experience? How long have they stayed in previous positions? What were their job responsibilities at each position?  Basically, you’re looking to ensure they have the background and framework to help you and your organization.

Tip: Ask them to explain in their own words their skill set and experiences from past positions. Raise the red flag if they just start reciting their resume.

You understand what the heck they’re talking about. You’ve taken the first step and reviewed their experience and education. They know their stuff. But the question is, can they help you understand it as well, beyond all the jargon? According to Forbes, “the mark of a really-great-to-work-with CPA is an ability to translate esoteric ideas and terms into something that you can truly understand and work with. You want someone who will go beyond doing a job for you – you want to be able to use them as a resource to expand your knowledge of how to run your business.”

Tip: Have more than one person interview them. Have a separate interview within different departments to see how well they communicate across departments or individuals. Here’s a few questions to ask:

  • Explain a time when your month-end close process didn’t go well, what did you do to fix the problem?
  • What processes have you put in place to strengthen the accounting department and why?
  • How do you handle the tight deadlines within an accounting department?

 

It’s not all about THEM. Yes, you’re looking for an accountant for your organization, so you want to make sure they’re qualified. But remember, it’s not all about them. It’s about YOU too. A good accountant should be able to discuss your business and be willing to learn more about what you do. Sure, they need to know the numbers, but they also should be a genuine partner who can give feedback and advice across various areas of your business.

Tip: Ask some general questions about starting or running a small business. A good accountant should be able to talk about industry trends and answer basic small business accounting questions.

They’re not the best thing since sliced bread.

A truly good CPA will be skilled, but will also know where their shortcomings are. According to Forbes, “Look for someone who openly discusses what they’re good at and what their flaws are – and hopefully how the rest of their team compliments and compensates for them.”

Make sure your accountant not only knows their stuff, but is backed by a team that also knows their stuff. Learn more not only about your accountant, but about the team that will be working alongside them. It’s highly likely you’ll be working more with their staff on day-to-day operations and preparation then with the CPA. So you should probably make sure you all get along.

Don’t take their word for it.

Remember, an interview is a person’s opportunity to show their best self. But they should also be able to back it up. Background checks are incredibly important, as they allow you to verify what a person has told you. Background checks can verify education degrees and graduation dates, credentials and if they’re still active, and employment. Further, calling professional references will give you a clearer picture of the person or firm you’re looking to hire.

Yes, this will take time. However, it will take more time if you hire the wrong accountant/firm and then have to replace them and onboard someone else. Spend the time upfront to ensure you get the right accountant early on.

Seem like a whole lot of work? You can always hire a placement service firm (like us) to do the hard work for you.

Hiring the Right Accounting Firm