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Business Owners Employee Challenges

On PRMR Inc.'s blog this week Mariama pointed readers to 101 tips for leaders and reading the post I could not help but think what tips are there not just for a manager, but also for a business owner especially in these harsh economic times. Being a public relations consultant who preaches employee engagement and creating a positive work environment, I am very cognizant about practicing what I preach as a business owner.

But do employees really understand what you the employer go through on a day-to-day basis to keep them employed. How you may have ten accounts one day and within the blink of an eye just three with the same overheads? One of the harsh cold realities of owning your own business is that if you don’t produce for your clients/customers you don’t get paid. As a small business owner I try to get this message over to my staff by breaking pay down to the day, productivity level and value added. But how hard can you be when a staff member has had a death in the family for example and takes a day off for the funeral and to be with family or if they are sick or have some appointment and come in half day.

The business owner has to find the work and has to pay the staff no matter what. I found out the hard way that employees really cost much more than their initial quoted salary. One of the harsh realities of business ownership is National Insurance payment. As an employee I took it for granted, but as an employer it is a real deterrent to hiring. Why are employers asked to contribute to employees national insurance plus pay their own? Who contributes to mine?

One of the things that irks me most are employees who are determined to get their pound of flesh, that watches the clock, that you need to compensate for every minute of their time, yet they expect you to happy when they are late, goes off on long lunches or leave early for some occasion. As an employee I worked a number of events some starting as early as 6am in the morning and my employer would call me as early as 4am to ask whether we were on track. I never got a cent in overtime. Given my history fancy my surprise as a business owner calling an employee at about 6am in the morning for an event she had had a point position on, but I was the one meeting the suppliers at 6:30am, not reaching her on the company cell phone which prompted me to call her house and her later asking me not to call her house “that early” in the morning because her mother would think that something was wrong and freak out. Well what do you say to a person like that? That is the nature of the job and you have to make the decision whether this is the job for you!

Then there are the expenses that go with the perks. The cellular telephones, the gas allowances etc. The overseas telephone calls on the business line, these all add up to expenses for the business owner. Guess what? It is usually those same employees that you cannot call or reach on their time even on the company phone, that use the company phone most for their personal calls any time day or night and you the business owner have to pay the bill.

Then there is the training. How much should you invest in an employee? This is a real risk for employers, and a big expense especially when the employee has not demonstrated any real commitment to the organization. Training however is necessary if you are going to grow the organization, as good employees are a company’s most powerful competitive advantage.

There are also the employees who I call the bees (no disrespect to “bees” who really work hard for their hives); but bees are employees who are busy doing nothing, but they are buzzing around all the time to give the illusion of being busy and cost you a salary every week without any contribution to the bottom line. In a small business environment sometimes your bee is one of the most dedicated employees but not fit to the position. Then there are the dreamers and time wasters who unlike bees have genuine work but spend two months on a two-week project and all the time you are thinking would this service be cheaper out sourced. For the business owner time is truly money. The project outsourced - probably about $2500, two-months salary plus expenses approx. $7000.

The business owner’s dilemma lies in the fact that in a small business environment the relationships are more personal and intimate and decisions to sever even when they are truly the best solutions for the business are much harder. The business owner then has to overcome not just the leadership challenge but also the business challenge. In our aspirations to become managers and business owners we need to be prepared not just to lead but for the inevitable emotional rollercoaster that you ride in making sustainable business decisions.

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