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Work from home: What you need to know before letting employees do that

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Is letting your employees work from home a good idea? That depends. Some companies – and people – are more suited to the arrangement than others.

Research has shown that remote working could make employees feel less engaged, isolated and disconnected from their coworkers, and that could lead to more mistakes, miscommunication, and a lack of productivity. Other studies, such as one recently conducted at the Wharton School, have found that for some employees, the loneliness of working from home could have a significantly negative impact on their performance.

Researcher Dan Schawbel, an employment expert and consultant, even found that work-from-home arrangements could decrease the long-term likelihood that an employee will stay with a company. Read More…

Loans, government contracts, advice: The many different ways small businesses can get help from SBA

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This week is National Small Business Week, a period set aside to recognize the contributions that nearly 30 million small businesses in this country make to the economy. For the U.S. Small Business Administration, this week is like the Super Bowl.

That’s because the SBA – which was created more than 65 years ago – uses this time of year to increase awareness of what it can do to help support those businesses, which include 750,000 that are located in the 40 eastern counties of Pennsylvania alone.

Some of my clients are aware of the agency. Many are not. I’m not sure why. But here’s what I do know: The government spends billions of dollars every year on contracts, loans, programs and services specifically devoted to small businesses. So why not take advantage? To that end, here are ways to profit from a relationship with the SBA.

Read More…

Looking to sell your small business? Watch out for these things and you’ll likely get a better price

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It’s still a strong market for business owners looking to exit.

According to a recently released report from BizBuySell, a popular online marketplace for buyers and sellers of companies, the number of firms that were sold during the first quarter of the year continued to remain at historically high levels even after falling slightly from the corresponding period in the previous year. The takeaway is that more business owners than ever are looking to exit. Read More…

Everybody loves to hate the open office, but is it dead yet?

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When I started working at my first job after college in the mid-1980s, the typical office was made up of cubicles, where every employee had his or her own private space. Offices have changed a lot since then. Now open-plan spaces, where workers share desks in large rooms without any barriers or cubicles blocking their views, seem to be everywhere.

Many large companies — from Apple to co-working locations, such as WeWork — have replaced ugly and claustrophobic little rooms with bright, open-space areas that offer wide views and a more team-oriented environment. Open-plan offices promised to help employees collaborate better and be more productive, improve workers’ health, reduce construction costs, and provide more flexibility as the workplace changes. Read More…

Retirement savings: New bill to make it easier for small businesses to help employees put more away

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Earlier this month a key bi-partisan committee of the House of Representatives unanimously – yes, unanimously – passed a bill that would make big changes to 401(K) retirement plans. The bill is particularly aimed at small businesses.

Among other things, the proposed legislation would allow small businesses to join together to better negotiate fees and options for the retirement plans they offer their employees. It would also create a tax credit for companies that automatically enroll their employees in their retirement plans while also offering easier access for part time workers to participate. Read More…

Here’s what small businesses can do to cut their 2019 tax bill

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If you’re like most small-business owners, this is the time of year when you’re grumbling about taxes. I get it. We all do. But this is also the time of year when you should be doing something about it.

Your tax bill – be it federal, state or local – likely amounts to the highest of all of your annual expenses. That’s why you should be taking actions throughout the year to minimize it.

How? Here are a few things you can be doing right now to minimize your tax bill for 2019. Read More…

Marijuana and the workplace: What does legalization mean for Pennsylvania, New Jersey employers?

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I know that times have changed when my 80-year-old mother is legally smoking pot.

It’s true. My mother has a medical marijuana card and, as a resident of Pennsylvania, partakes of the substance to help ease certain of her ailments. That’s all well and good if you’re a senior citizen. But what if that same person is one of your employees?

That’s the issue many employers are trying to figure out and the challenge is expected to be more pressing. This week, New Jersey lawmakers postponed voting on a bill to make recreational marijuana use legal in the state. Pennsylvania lawmakers are currently considering a similar bill, and even legislators in Delaware — who had their efforts defeated last year — are regrouping for another try. Read More…