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Job Management

Employee Management: Taking on a new team

As a business owner, knowing how to properly manage your employees is an absolute necessity for maintaining a well-run business. In this section, we’ll cover team structure, record keeping, payroll, time management, motivation, discipline, retention, and termination. In other words, everything you need to know when it comes to the basics of managing employees. Keep in mind that while this article is comprehensive, there may be certain facets of employee management that aren’t covered here. A general good rule of thumb is to keep in touch with your employees, and check in on them regularly to make sure that they’re doing well from both a performance and personal perspective.

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Team Structure

The first thing you’ll need to do is decide on your team’s structure, and who will report to whom. For larger teams, you’ll want to group multiple teams under different managers who can delegate tasks and act as in-house experts.

 

For example, you might have an install team and a performance/repair team who fall under different managers with you overseeing more general, business-related  tasks. So, you might handle payroll while they’re responsible for tracking and submitting employees’ hours to you.

 

You can also delegate tasks like…

 

  • Specific kinds of record-keeping
  • Performance reviews
  • Discipline
  • Schedule keeping
  • Motivating and incentivizing employees
From there, you’ll want to decide on permissions based on the business structure. Should technicians be able to see your customer list, or just managers? Who can view financial information? What about sensitive employee information?

Record keeping

It’s extremely important that you keep detailed records of all of your business, employee, and customer information. Start doing this from the moment your business opens its doors, as it may come in handy down the road should you have a legal conflict arise, or are requested to have these materials by state/federal laws.

 

For employee management, be sure to keep documentation of the following events for at least one year after the action is taken:

 

  • requests for reasonable accommodation
  • hiring, including job application
  • promotion
  • demotion
  • transfer
  • lay-off / termination
  • rates of pay and other compensation
  • selection for training or apprenticeship
  • any paperwork surrounding the terms of employment
  • any paperwork related to employee’s termination

 

For charges of discrimination however, it’s imperative that you must retain all related records until final disposition of the charge or action.

Payroll management

At this point in our increasingly digital world, there’s no excuse for not utilizing an electronic payroll system. Not only will it help you with compliance issues and staying up to date with federal and state laws, it can also automate payments for you, as well as make it far easier to generate reports when filing taxes. Below, we’ve listed a few of our favorite payroll systems.

Our favorite payroll systems

Gusto

Gusto is the easiest payroll system. In addition to payroll, Gusto helps you manage employee onboarding including simplifying benefits like medical insurance and worker’s comp. You can even send offer letters, customize onboarding checklists, and upload documents to be signed. Then, after everything is complete, employees can also request time off through the app and you can easily run reports and see what’s happening in your company like employees’ work anniversaries and birthdays. Gusto is $39/mo + $6-$12/mo per employee.

 

QuickBooks

QuickBooks allows you to pay your team members – and automates the process – as well as walks employees through health benefits and tax forms. Depending on whether you want QuickBooks to manage worker’s compensation benefits, the product costs $45/mo + $4/employee or $75/mo + $8/employee

Time management

We know that keeping track of your employee’s hours can be seen as a nightmare. With the anxiety over ensuring that you’ve accounted for every hour, coupled with the time required to simply record and keep track of all this information can make managing time a daunting task. However, when you’ve implemented the proper tools and management techniques, the task can quickly transform from a pain into a breeze.

 

A few best practices for proper management of your time tracking:

Use a time tracking software

The best way to keep up with your employees’ hours and how they’re using their time is a business management tool with timesheets and project management tools, like FieldPulse! Your time management tool should let you keep track of your technicians’ time with easy clock in and clock out options that are recorded with a real-time GPS location. You’ll also be able to track arrival and departure times to maintain accountability, and collect data that will help you budget out future work’s time demands.It should also present your timesheets through many different view options, like time intervals and by job. A system like this will help keep employees accountable, by being able to see if hours were changed or modified. And an added bonus? You can insert employees’ hours worked on a job into invoices to automatically calculate labor costs.

try fieldpulse's time tracking features free for 7 days

Send Reminders

Keeping tasks and deadlines top of mind is one of the best ways to ensure they get completed – and on time. Be sure to send customers reminder emails with your arrival information and how to prepare several times before you arrive: first, when they schedule the appointment, one day before the appointment, and when you’re on your way. This reminds customers they need to be at home and gives them time to clean up, put pets up, and make sure they have payment ready.

 

Use an app like FieldPulse that can send your team daily or weekly schedule reminders or live updates when new projects, jobs, or subtasks have been assigned to them or their team

 

When sending out invoices, set up reminders and schedule time to go through invoices’ status weekly. Or get live updates through email, the app, or phone pop-up when invoices have been opened with the FieldPulse app.

download service reminder templates

Clarity is Key

Be sure to create clear deadlines, checkpoints, and ways to check in for everyone. This includes yourself, your managers, your technicians, and even your customers. This is a great way to ensure that everything is moving forward on schedule, and allows you to shift priorities should the need arise. Make your communication lines easy and quick enough to navigate so that employees can do it without too much thought or effort – or automate it!

Schedule time for yourself to update

When you own a business, it’s often easy to see administrative tasks as work to be done during downtime in the press of more facing issues. However, this makes it easy to let it fall to the wayside. Good idea to schedule a couple hours during the week to get everything in order. A small time investment can help streamline tasks during the week. One of the great benefits of having a consistent, organized system is that you can analyze its effectiveness over time. For example: Are you giving your clients too long to respond? Your calendar can show those weak spots.

Employee Incentives

It can be difficult to get employees to show up for work on time and obtain reviews and photos from customers. While you can create policies around this, incentives go further in motivating employees and can create a better positive experience instead of resentment that can lead to high turnover rates and low productivity.

 

Small prizes like gift cards to big ticket items like a vacation voucher, television, or AirPods can be a good way to incentivize performance, but there are many ways to design incentive programs, such as the following.

 

  • Leaderboards with top prizes that challenge employees to see who can get the most reviews, sales, etc.
  • Flat bonus for each review review, customer, and new employee they refer.
  • Incentives for going without tardies or not using personal emergency time like weekly or annual bonuses or offering to pay employees at the rate of 110% of their straight-time pay for all unused hours at the end of the calendar year.
  • Monthly drawings for employees around business goals or high qualify performance, like going a month without being late to work.
  • Point-based reward systems where employees can redeem points for digital and physical gift cards, physical prizes, or experiences.
  • Create a cumulative, and funny, award that gets passed between employees like a trophy or fun knick-knack.

 

A few more ideas:

 

  • Extra time off like extended lunch breaks; early release or an extra PTO day
  • Wine Tasting or Brewery Tour
  • Netflix or Amazon Prime Subscriptions
  • Spotify Premium or Apple Music subscription
  • Care Packages
  • Upgraded or high-quality tools and tool gift cards
  • Tickets to a concert, movie, sports game, festival
  • Personal training vouchers
  • House cleaning voucher
  • Gas card

Employee Retention

It costs businesses about one-fifth of a worker’s salary to a worker between the cost of hiring, slower productivity as the new employee is trained, and the overall impact on other employees. It’s important to keep employees motivated and offer incentives, as the expense pays for itself in the long run.

 

A few ideas to increase employee retention include offering:

 

  • Recognition in the form of verbal acknowledgement or a handwritten note
  • Bonuses and awards like gift certificates for performance, attendance, longevity, employee referrals, or great service
  • Discounts on daycare
  • Professional development opportunities, complimentary training, and educational assistance
  • Complimentary tools and equipment
  • Strong employee benefits packages
  • Scholarships for children of employees
  • Free drinks, lunch, snacks
  • Company-sponsored/subsidized events such as trips to athletic events, concerts, and hikes
  • Flexible work schedules

Handling Difficult Employees

Remember when we talked about how it was important to keep detailed documentation of all of your business’ records? Employee discipline is another area where this comes into play. Having a comprehensive record of that employee’s performance and disciplinary actions will help you avoid conflict in the workplace should that employee need to be let go, as well as protect you from any legal action, like a discrimination charge, that that employee may take after the fact. Also, be sure to have regular performance reviews.

Creating Policies

Before deciding on disciplinary actions, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with what actions you can legally take to discipline employees. For example, levying fines or requiring uncompensated overtime, such as for additional training, is illegal. While demotions, suspensions without pay, and payroll reductions are all legal in response to poor performance, this often needs to be explicitly defined in your employment contract and explained to your employees before hiring. Even then, you’ll want to consult with a lawyer and keep detailed records of employee behavior to protect yourself should you end up in a legal battle over discriminatory practices.

How To Document Performance

It’s important to have an open line of communication with employees so they know where they’re performing well and underperforming. Also, you should document both positive and negative behavior to determine if the employee is actually bad or happens to be a good employee who screwed up. Positive examples include annual performance reviews, recognitions received, promotions, and positive customer feedback.

 

If an employee is performing negatively, start by determining the fault. Was it an issue they could actually control, or something larger than their position? Did the employee not understand their responsibilities or how they were supposed to handle the situation that arose? An example of this would be telling an employee to “show up on time” is unclear, instead you would say that they need to be “in the front office at 9am”.

 

Address any issues early on – start the process early enough you can start it as a conversation instead of a lecture and resolve potential issues. When this happens, there is no need to voice consequences of actions if the behavior or poor performance continues. Be specific about what the employee did wrong and what steps the employee needs to do to improve. Describe the conduct, not the employee, and avoid using broad judgements like “always” or “never” (which can be easily disputed by the employee’s attorney).

 

Record the date, where it happened, how the behavior impacted others, and try to provide a well rounded picture that includes what employee did right. Record the employee’s explanation of why expectations weren’t met, and work together to find ways to solve the problem. Make clear performance improvement plans for your employee, and document them with deadlines.

 

There are a number of ways to deliver this feedback, including written and oral warnings, but you should absolutely document and save them all.

free employee review template

Employee Termination

As a rule, you should always fire employees face to face unless you have a reasonable fear of safety for you, your employees, or company property. In these cases, you’ll want to establish any necessary security measures before calling the employee to let them know they’re being let go of. The firing should be held in private to avoid negative impact on employee morale with a witness present, such as an HR representative, who can take notes on the event. Be clear and concise delivering the news upfront to avoid potential misunderstandings. Be sure to address final pay and benefits. You should also recap the reasons for the termination, incidents that contributed to the decision, and record state specific dates of meetings with the employee and attempts to provide additional training or coaching. Be specific – “bad attitude” or “culture fit” are often used as grounds for lawsuit.

Address Final pay and benefits

Verify that you have the correct mailing address so you can send final pay (if applicable), a Form W-2, and any other correspondence to the individual. Also, ask the employee to notify you if he or she has a change in address. Federal law requires final pay at the next regular payday, but several states have their own rules, some of which require final pay at the time of termination. Non-exempt employees (employees who are entitled to minimum wage and overtime), the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) permits deductions for unreturned equipment as long as it does not reduce the employee’s pay below the minimum wage and does not cut into any overtime pay. Under the FLSA, employers are generally required to obtain an employee’s consent before making a permissible deduction.

Notify key staff and contacts

First, notify key staff like HR or administration who have to terminate employees’ login or file paperwork. Next, after the employee has been let go of, inform staff about changes and how it will impact them. It’s a good idea to be specific about why the employee was let go when discussing with staff.

Prepare for unemployment claim

Unemployment compensation only happens when a worker loses a job through no fault of their own. Remember that when an employee files for unemployment, you as the employer will receive a notification from the state unemployment commission. Typically, the commission includes a questionnaire (usually called a separation report) requesting additional details from the employer to help make a determination on the employee’s eligibility for unemployment income benefits. Be sure that you verify all information, as there are certain situations where you can contest claims, like voluntary resignation or when a worker intentionally broke a work rule (“willful misconduct”). This is where your record keeping really comes into play. You’ll want to gather evidence including: Attendance records, resignation letter, disciplinary action, etc.

 

Now that we’ve covered all of the basics of employee management, you’re ready to start streamlining and putting processes in place. While you may not think it’s necessary to hire an HR professional when you’re just starting out, we’d highly recommend doing so. This will help to shift all the employee record keeping off your shoulders, so you can spend more time focusing on other aspects of your business.

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