Human Resources in a Gift Basket Business
While you may not initially consider having employees when you first begin your gift basket service, you may need to as your business grows. With more success comes more customers and orders, and you are limited in what you can do on your own. Even if you are your business' only employee (for now), you still need to develop policies concern human resources for your gift basket service. Changes can be made as your business staff grows, but it is still necessary to have something in place as you plan your business.
The process of hiring staff for your business can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. While you may have reached the point where you are successful and stable enough to hiring additional help, you are also taking on a new level of responsibility for your business by including employees. In order to go through the hiring process with as few issues as possible, you should consider a few things first.
Who to hire?--When deciding who to hire, you may want to create a list of what you will need them to do. Ask what qualities are needed in a person for these tasks to be completed efficiently and on time? Think along the lines of work ethic, experience, skill set, attitude, etc. One recommendation would be to ask that potential hires have some experience working in a small business setting. The work environment for a small business is going to be different than a big company or chain store. It will be easier for someone to adapt to your business set-up if they are familiar with the workings of a small business, and it will also make the adjustment much easier for you as the owner.
Where to look--Job offers from a gift basket service are not a typical sight you see on employment websites or job boards. As a result, you may have to think a little outside of the box in order to find an acceptable candidate to hire. You can still post job notices in those places, but you should not solely depend on those to help you find a suitable employee. When it comes to hiring, your business and industry network can be a viable option. Talk with your peers in the industry about where they have found employees for their gift basket businesses and even ask if they have any referrals for you. Look at social media, like in Facebook groups or pages that are for the gift basket community. You can even post job advertisements on your own social media pages, as you may have a follower who is both interested and has some of the requirements you are looking for in a potential employee.
The Hiring Process--Once you have a response to your job postings from potential employees, you can actively begin the hiring process. Depending on the size of the response you get, you may have to spend quite some time going through applications and narrowing down the candidates. Typically, once the search begins and you develop interest, the hiring process progresses into reviewing applicants, interviews, background checks, and then selecting your new hire.
You should watch for any red flags in their work history, like unexplained gaps, multiple jobs in a short time, or a lot of moving around. Take notes as you look into the candidate's background and bring them with you into the interview process. Ask them questions, both about their application and their interest in working for you. Take the information you gather from the entire hiring process into consideration as you make your decision. Remember to trust your own instincts--it's your business and if you feel like someone isn't going to fit or that something isn't quite right, then you should listen to that feeling.
Training new employees--When you have made your decision and the candidate has accepted the position, you can then begin the training process. During this time you will need to walk your new hire through the standard procedures of the business and what the schedule is for any given day. Teach them how to assemble gift baskets, where supplies are, what to do with completed orders, and any other responsibilities they may have. Show them how to use any equipment and what to do should something go wrong.
You may want to consider having a probationary period. During this time, they can become acclimated to the work environment and the business itself, and for you to become acclimated to them. It can also be used for additional training and working out any issues that arise. The length of this probationary period is up to you, but you may want to keep it around 1-2 weeks.
You cannot simply hire someone as an employee and give them money for doing stuff for your business. The people you hire are adding to your business and profits with their actions, and you are morally and legally required to provide for them while on the clock. In addition to providing them with the adequate resources for them to do their jobs and have a suitable work environment, you need to have policies, insurance, and a healthy relationship with your employees.
Employee Handbook--In introducing employees to your business, you may need to consider introducing a series of rules and policies for them. An employee handbook is a kind of document that includes information about the company, its procedures, and policies, and any other pertinent information your employees will need to know about. It should be noted that the employee handbook for your gift basket business is not a contract between you and your employees, but a guide. Each employee should be given a copy when hired and you should have one as well.
The handbook--which doesn't necessarily have to be a physical book--should follow any and all guidelines as dictated by law on local, state, and federal levels. 3 Standard inclusions for your employee handbook are usually policies about worker's compensation, medical leave, and non-discrimination. If you have employees spread throughout multiple departments within your business--customer service, delivery, assembly, to name a few possibilities--you may need to have a separate handbook for each or sections within your handbook that covers the specifics for those departments.
Employee Relations--This concept does not necessarily mean the relationship between you and your employees--although that is still an important aspect of your business that you should strive to maintain. Employee relations covers things in regard to workplace issues and what can be done to resolve and prevent them. It includes how you manage your employees and their concerns.
For you to have successful and efficient employee relations, you as the employer need to have some degree of communication and problem solving skills. When problems arise amongst your employees, they will turn to you for help. The problems may be simple and thus require a simple solution--disagreements, for example, may only require you to submit your opinion on a topic. As the business owner and boss of your employees, your handling of employee relations and any solutions you propose need to be in accordance with any laws and regulations.
Hiring employees for your gift basket business will involve some degree of involvement of laws. Local, state, and federal laws are all applicable, and may affect who you can hire and what you can offer them. Before you begin the hiring process, you will need to make sure that you are going to be able to comply with employee laws. Familiarizing yourself with these laws and how they apply to you, your business, and your employees will help you prevent any violations.
Employment Laws--From a legal standpoint, there may be a few legal restrictions that affect your employees. Some of them are fairly basic, like how many hours an employee can work or restrictions for minors. One of the more complicated aspects of employment legalities are discrimination laws. New regulations are being made and existing ones are being updated, so staying up to date is crucial. Violations can result in a range of repercussions, from fines to your business license being revoked.
Tax Information--The addition of employees changes how your business can be taxed. Any and all employees must be reported in your tax information, just as they must report you as your employer in theirs. The inclusion of employees to your business will require you to report the changes to the IRS; failure to do so may be viewed as an attempt to commit fraud on your taxes.
Your gift basket business will probably still be considered as a small business, which means that you will still file tax forms that fit into what is referred to as the 94x series.
This mainly refers to the form number and will not be too different from the forms that you filed before the inclusion of employees.
You will also need to determine if your employee is actually an employee by legal definition. In order to have employees work for you, you will have first needed to obtain and Employer Identification Number (EIN). An EIN is basically another form of business I.D used by the IRS and other governmental departments. It's free to obtain and can be done online through the IRS's website. Independent contractors, individuals who provide a service to other businesses or are self-employed, do not fall under the IRS's classification of an employee and do not require you to have an EIN. This does not mean that you can claim an employee as an independent contractor if you do not have an EIN. Doing so will be seen as a violations of tax and employment laws, resulting in you being held liable by the federal government.
Insurance and Benefits--As their employer, you are legally required to provide certain benefits for your employees. The benefits that you can offer will depend on several factors, like their status as full-time or part-time. For example, employees who work for forty hours per week are considered full-time employees and have access to more benefits than their part-time co-workers. Payment for overtime--the additional hours beyond the standard forty--can be considered a benefit that you are legally required to provide.
Basic benefits that you will be required to offer are health plans and worker's compensation. Employee health insurance offerings will not be included as part of your employee's wages and you cannot legally alter their wages based on the price you pay for providing coverage. Worker's compensation covers any disability that an employee may have, permanent or temporary, that can affect their ability to work. It is usually offered in conjunction with the Department of Labor, which controls and maintains the regulations.
Termination Policies--You may find that you have to fire an employee at some point during your business' lifetime. Doing so can be tricky as you need to have a valid reason for terminating the employee and do so without violating any laws. You are not required by law to disclose your reasoning for firing them at the time of termination, but you will have to disclose it to future employers you contact you about the employee. It should also be noted that, should the employee believe you to be in violation of discrimination laws and brings a lawsuit against you, you will have to disclose your reasoning behind their termination.
Having a policy in place for terminations can make it easier on you and the employee, as well as avoid any problems. Many businesses offer some type of severance package for employees who are fired or quit. As a small business, you do not have to have a very complex severance package. Something as simple as giving them their last paycheck, which is usually the next paycheck that they were to receive under your employment, can be considered a severance package.
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