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Arlington Heights business law attorneyAs a business owner, you might want to show your employees how much you appreciate their hard work with a special bonus. Of course, as much as you would like to shower your employees with cash rewards during the holidays, most businesses cannot afford expensive holiday bonuses. Many startups do not post a profit until the third year they are in business, and even established businesses can find themselves short on holiday funds. A 2017 Bank of America survey found that about 35% of small businesses give employees a cash bonus during the winter holidays. Nearly a quarter of businesses surveyed said they planned to give their employees no holiday bonus at all. If you are trying to think of a way to motivate and reward your employees this holiday season, consider some alternative holiday bonus ideas.

Studies Show Cash Is Not Always the Best Gift

You may be surprised to learn that giving employees a cash bonus does not necessarily result in improved employee morale or performance. Studies show that non-monetary rewards often have a greater positive influence on employee satisfaction. Some business owners give their employees extra days off during the holiday season instead of cash bonuses. Others close their businesses entirely on major holidays like Christmas and New Year’s Day. Businesses like retail stores that cannot afford to close their doors may find that personalized gifts may be a more feasible representation of gratitude to employees. Considering employees’ families in holiday perks-related decisions is another way to help employees feel valued.

Sincere Praise May be the Best Gift of All

Simply praising your employees for their hard work may be one of the best holiday gifts that you could give. Research regarding employee productivity and happiness has consistently shown that employees who are praised for a job well done work harder and enjoy their work more than those who receive no recognition. Including a personalized message with your holiday bonus or other perk can help show employees that they matter to you not just as employees but as individuals. Alternatively, a public display of gratitude in the form of an awards ceremony or dinner can be a great way to recognize and reward employees.

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Posted on in Business Law

Arlington Heights business law attorneyFor business owners, the holiday season can mean an influx of new customers as well as an increase in the strain put on employees. In order to help manage the increased demand during the holidays, many business owners choose to hire seasonal employees. There are many benefits to hiring temporary workers to help ease the load on full-time staff, however there are also many pitfalls to be wary of. If you are planning to hire seasonal employees for your business, keep the following things in mind.

Make Sure the Job Description is Detailed and Accurate

When writing job advertisements for seasonal positions it is especially important to be specific about what the job actually entails. In the job description, be clear about the nature of the job, the work environment, the work schedule, and what tasks employees will be expected to complete. Include a description of the skills or experience you desire in an ideal candidate. Include information about any incentives or bonuses for which seasonal employees may qualify.

Start Earlier Than You Think You Should

It may be too late to start the hiring process for the current holiday season, but experts say it is never too soon to start strategizing about hiring seasonal employees. Creating a seasonal hiring plan along with deadlines for hiring seasonal employees can help you stay on track. Start advertising holiday seasonal jobs at the end of summer in order to guarantee that you will have staff by crunch time.

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Arlington Heights business law attorneysRecently, employees at the fast food company McDonald’s voiced their concerns regarding sexual harassment by protesting outside restaurants across the country. The employees, both men and women, held signs that said things like “#MeToo” and “Keep your hands off my thighs.” McDonald’s employees participating in the strike claim that too many incidents of sexual harassment have been overlooked or flat-out ignored. It is a problem that many experts say plagues fast food chains. For business owners, the protests are a profound reminder of the importance of creating effective sexual harassment procedures and policy.  

McDonald’s Employees File Complaints Over Unwelcome Advances

Complaints made to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) by McDonald’s employees allege that some supervisors have not only made sexual advances toward subordinates, but also retaliated against those who reported or criticized the harassment. Many employees say they were scared to speak up about harassment they witnessed or experienced themselves for fear of having their work hours cut or being fired. The Civil Rights Act of 1965—the primary federal law that prohibits workplace discrimination such as sexual harassment—not only protects employees from sexual harassment at work, but also guards against employer retaliation. Various federal and local laws establish the rights of “whistleblowers,” or people who file complaints about discrimination or unsafe workplaces.

Fast Food Employees May Be Especially Susceptible to Sexual Harassment

It is no secret that fast food companies often hire younger or less experienced employees. Many people’s first job is working at a restaurant such as McDonald’s. Naïve employees or those with little work experience may be unaware of their rights with regard to sexual harassment and are taken advantage of as a result. Fast food workers living paycheck to paycheck may be afraid to risk losing their only source of income by standing up against harassment.

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Illinois business lawyerFor many business owners and, in fact, people in everyday life, a promise and a handshake mean more than anything that could be captured in a legally binding document. The physical manifestation of a person giving his or her word regarding an agreement or transaction still carries a great deal of psychological weight, even in today’s litigious society. While it would be wonderful to be able to consistently rely on another’s good word in business dealings, the reality is that contracts are often necessary, and, sometimes, one party fails to comply with his or her end of the deal. When that happens, your only option may be a breach of contract claim.

Three Main Elements

All contracts represent some form of a legally enforceable promise. Some, of course, are more complicated than others, but all provide certain rights and responsibilities to each involved party. In the context of business, most contracts address the purchase of items, goods, or services rendered. When the other party fails to comply with the terms of an agreed-upon contract, you may be able to bring a claim for breach of contract before the court. To win your claim, you will be required to show:

  • A Valid Contract Exists: Contracts can be written or oral, although oral contracts may be more difficult to prove. To prove the validity of the contract, you will need to demonstrate that there was an offer, that the offer was voluntarily accepted, and the contract included reasonable consideration for each party;
  • Breach of Terms: You must be able to point to specific parts of the contract that the other party has violated. For example, if the other party was contractually required to deliver a certain product by designated date, once the date has past and the product has not been delivered, the court may determine the missed deadline to be a breach of contract. In general, the breach must have had an effect on the value of the contract to you in order for the claim to be considered; and
  • Breach of Contract Damages: Beyond the fact a provision of the contract was violated, you will also need to prove that you or your business suffered harm due to the breach. Damages generally include lost money, time, and other measurable losses, and, in some cases, the court may also award punitive damages as well. Provisions in the contract that address breaking the contract, including specified penalties or fees, could also be enforced.

While you have every right to enforce a valid contract, you will also want to be sure that you have fulfilled your contractual obligations before moving forward with a claim. You cannot expect a court to hold the other party responsible for breach of contract if you have breached its terms as well.

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Arlington Heights business law attorneyAs the owner of a small or medium-sized business, you probably do not have unlimited capital to do the things you would like to do. After paying your bills, honoring your contracts with suppliers, and covering payroll, you might not have a whole lot left at the end of each month. This is especially true of companies in their fledgling stages. Without extra money, you may find it difficult to think of ways to motivate your staff and to keep your employees working hard. While it is true that workers appreciate financial incentives like bonuses or gift cards, you may be surprised to learn that there are other effective strategies for motivating your staff that cost far less than you would expect.

Be a Leader, Not Just a Boss

Have you have ever been to a restaurant that was obviously short-staffed? It might have been obvious by the frazzled look on your server’s face, not to mention longer-than-usual wait times and other indications. Can you remember what you saw the manager or owner doing? If he or she was cleaning off tables, carrying trays, or mopping up spills in the bathroom, there is a good chance you were seeing a solid leader, not merely the boss. A “boss” might have been content to give directions and tell others how to handle the problem while the “leader” was not afraid to get dirty and help.

The same idea could be applied to your business, and the way in which you lead matters. When you treat your staff as if they are stupid and replaceable, you will probably see that type of work from them. If you assume that your employees are intelligent, focused, and capable of doing their jobs—to the point that you are willing to dig in alongside them and help out—your attitude is likely to spread. Productivity will probably increase as well.

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