Critical HR Info for Small Business

March 18, 2020

So much is being written about the virus.  I’ve gotten emails from my car manufacturer (they’re open!), retail stores, my wine shop and more.

But none of them are providing any useful information for small business owners who have staff.  Well, here it is!

We’ve leaned into one of our most valuable partners with HR background. Please read on as she shares precision information about resources and news affecting small business owners.


From Nicole Anderson, CEO/Human Resources Business Partner, Mend LLC.

We realize there is a much uncertainty around what to expect and happen as a result of the COVID-19 virus. We are also sure you are tired of hearing information on the subject. Yet, we feel it is important we share some resources with you to help you communicate effectively and efficiently with your staff as well as provide you information you will need to make decisions.

Communicating with your staff:

Crisis Communication Plan:

Legal Resources:

State Legislation Changes:

Pending Legislation waiting Senate approval: (this will impact small to mid-sized the most, and is likely to pass within the next 72 hours)

About this pending legislation:

  • The new law would take effect no later than 15 days after enactment. The Bill contains a sunset provision of December 31, 2020.
  • The new law would not apply to employers with 500 or more employees.
  • Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act
    • Job Protections for the following:
      • Employers with employees with the company for at least 30 days or more are eligible
      • Employers with under 50 employees may file for an exemption if you can show following: these new restriction with harm your business
        • To comply with a recommendation or order by a health care provider or a public official having jurisdiction because the employee has been exposed to or is exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus and because the employee is unable to perform his or her job functions while complying with the order.
        • To care for a family member who has been exposed to or is exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus.
        • To care for a child under the age of 18 if the child’s school or place of care has been closed or the child’s compensated child care provider is unavailable due to a public health emergency.
      • Required to pay 80 hours of sick leave
        • To self-isolate because the employee is diagnosed with coronavirus;
        • To obtain a medical diagnosis or care if the employee is experiencing symptoms of coronavirus;
        • To comply with a recommendation or order by a public official with jurisdiction or a health care provider because the employee has been exposed to or is exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus;
        • To care for or assist a family member of an employee who meets any of the above descriptions; and
        • To care for the child of the employee if the child’s school or place of care has been closed, or the compensated child care provider of the child is unavailable, due to a public health emergency.
        • If the sick time is taken to care for the employee’s own diagnosis, care, or isolation, the employee is entitled to paid sick time at their regular rate of pay (but not less than the applicable federal, state, or local minimum wage). If the time is taken to care for a family member or child, the employee is entitled to two-thirds of their regular rate. Regular rate is determined using the FLSA definition.
        • Paid sick time is available for immediate use regardless of how long the employee has been employed.
        • The employee may use paid sick time under the Act before using any other accrued paid time off.
        • Emergency paid sick time is in addition to any paid time entitlement under the employer’s existing paid time off policy. The employer may not change its paid leave policies on or after the date of the Act’s enactment to avoid providing the additional two weeks of emergency paid sick time.
      • To help employers cover the costs of the new Paid Family and Medical Leave and Paid Sick Time requirements, the House passed certain tax credit provisions equal to 100% of the qualifying wages paid under the two programs, subject to certain caps and limitations. The credit is taken against payroll taxes owed.

Once the new law has been enacted we will schedule a webinar to go through all the information and answer any questions you may have.

Stay well,

Martha Hanlon and Chris Williams

Contents Under Pressure

March 11, 2020

Warning! Contents Under Pressure!

Don’t you love that little red warning light on your Instant Pot? It’s there to keep you safe…to make sure you don’t open the lid until the pressure is released.

As a leader, you are that warning light and the safety valve for your team and for your business. It can be a daunting task.

It happens to all of us…and more often than we probably want to admit. Sometimes it’s a result of our own thoughts and fears, sometimes from other people and sometimes from external circumstances. Regardless of the source, your team will be looking to you to manage your own stress and help them in coping with theirs.

Here’s how to keep the pressure from getting the better of you:

Acknowledge the pressure – You can’t fix what you don’t admit. There’s a difference between remaining calm under pressure and pretending that the pressure doesn’t exist. Your team counts on you to keep things real. When you acknowledge the pressure, you give your team permission to do the same…and that’s the first step to getting through the situation.

Manage your own stress first – Learn to recognize your personal warning signs that pressure is building up. Do you tend to isolate yourself? Get irritable? Become overly controlling? Once you recognize what’s going on for you, employ your best coping mechanisms before taking on what’s happening with the team.

Focus on the greater purpose – Keeping your eyes on the prize and focusing on the meaning behind the work can provide power to get through the pressure. As Victor Frankl said, “those who have a ‘why’ can bear with almost any ‘how.’”

Adjust expectations – Pressure can often be self-imposed. Look at your expectations and the expectations of your team to see where pressure can be relieved without sacrificing performance. Give up the pressure to be perfect and aim for excellent.

Set clear boundaries – You can’t be all things to all people all the time. Be firm about what you’re willing to do and what the team must do for itself. Know when to say “yes” and when to say “no” and be willing to deal with the consequences of your boundaries.

Simplify – When you keep things clear and specific, your team knows where to focus their energy and attention. They can understand their priorities and work on what really matters.

Delegate, delegate, delegate – Remember that you don’t have to do everything yourself. Resist the temptation to over-control or micromanage. Sharing responsibility gives everyone a role in handling the situation and reducing the pressure.

Pressure is a fact of life for leaders, but it doesn’t need to be a problem that derails your team or your business. Recognize when the warning light comes on and do what you can to relieve the pressure for yourself and your team. That’s what leadership is all about.

Go forth and do great things,

Martha & Chris

The Question is The Answer

March 4, 2020

Being a leader isn’t always easy. The pressure of knowing what to do and how to do it can be overwhelming.

The good news is that you don’t have to have all the answers. In fact, it’s better that you don’t.

Here’s why: When you come to the conversation with a question rather than an answer, you open the door to new possibilities. Asking questions also invites your team to take ownership of the solution.

I’ve discovered that the better I get at asking questions, the more successful my team and my business become.

As leadership guru John Maxwell says, “Good questions inform – great questions transform.”

Here are some tips for asking great questions:

  • Keep questions open-ended – Open-ended questions are more empowering and expansive than questions that call for “yes” or “no” answers. Open-ended questions invite the team to think more deeply and engage more fully.
  • Encourage exploration – Ask follow-up questions using phrases such as “and then what?” or “say more about that.”
  • Avoid editorial responses –The idea of asking empowering questions is to get the maximum input from the greatest number of people. If you feel the need to grade every response before moving on to the next, you’ll shut down the conversation too quickly.
  • Ask one question at a time – Rapid-fire, machine gun style questions lead to confusing responses. Team members need to know what you’re really asking in order to provide the best input they can.
  • Don’t telegraph your opinion –Team members naturally want to please the leader…and the other team members. If you over-explain the question or offer too much information, it will become clear that what you’re really asking for is agreement, rather than input.
  • Keep asking –Be willing to keep the conversation going until everyone has had a chance to weigh in. Don’t let the need for a quick answer get in the way of getting a great answer.

You’ll be a more successful leader when you give up the pressure to have all the answers. Instead, become skilled at asking great questions. You’ll open the door to transformation for yourself and your business.

Go forth and do great things,

Martha & Chris