Apple is Planning a Cheaper MacBook…And Other Small Business Tech News This Week


(This post originally appeared on Forbes)

Here are five things in technology that happened this past week and how they affect your business. Did you miss them?

1 — Apple is reportedly planning to release a cheaper MacBook.

A report in 9to5Mac says that Apple is planning to release a new, cheaper MacBook Air in the second quarter of this year. It’s not yet known whether the new MacBook Air, which will cost less than its current $999, will feature a major redesign or will look similar to existing models but with upgraded internal hardware. (Source: Business Insider)

Why this is important for your business: Read More…


Study: A voodoo doll of the boss will make your employees happier

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

Health insurance? Paid time off? Bonuses? Retirement plans? These all seem like good employee benefits that matter, don’t they? But as it turns out another very inexpensive employee benefit may matter just as much: a voodoo doll of the boss.

Some 229 employees who participated in a recent study were asked to think of a workplace interaction that involved “abuse” from a supervisor or boss. As part of the study, some were then allowed to take out their job frustrations on a makeshift voodoo doll carrying their boss’s name by sticking pins, burning it with candles and pinching it with pliers. okay … now I’m starting to get a little nervous. Read More…

Is small business hiring strengthening or weakening?

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

According to the Census Bureau, small businesses employ more than half of all workers in the United States. which is why small business hiring is watched closely by economists as a bellwether of the overall economy. So is small business hiring strengthening, or weakening? Well, that depends on who you ask.

ADP, a firm that provides payroll services for companies employing more than 650,000, says that small businesses hiring was “a little stronger” this past month. According to an Associated Press report this week, ADP said companies with less than 49 employees added 68,000 jobs in February, an improvement from 63,000 in January. All companies in ADP’s monthly study showed a “healthy gain” of 235,000 jobs with “significant increases in construction, hotels and restaurants, and education and health care.” Read More…

A growing number of companies are cutting back on their drug testing

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

Combine a growing economy, a tight labor market and an increasing number of states that are legalizing marijuana and what do you have? For one thing, you have fewer companies doing drug testing of new and current employees.

“The benefits of at least reconsidering the drug policy on behalf of an employer would be pretty high,” Jeremy Kidd, a professor at Mercer Law School, who wrote a paper on the economics of workplace drug testing, told the Insurance Journal. “A blanket prohibition can’t possibly be the most economically efficient policy.”

Not surprising, companies in states where marijuana has been legalized — whether for recreational or medicinal use — are leading this trend. For example, only two-thirds of 609 employers that were recently surveyed in Colorado said that they were conducting drug tests of their employees. That number is down from 77 percent the year before.

A half-dozen large companies, according to one labor lawyer, have quietly changed their policies in response. Other well-known companies like AutoNation, Inc. and The Denver Post have also relaxed their rules. Of course, no one wants to give the impression that they’re soft on drugs. But circumstances have changed.

The tight economy is making it hard to find and retain good people and drug testing further limits an employer’s options. In addition, recent studies have shown that Americans are more tolerant of certain drugs, particularly when compared to previous generations. Another factor is the rising costs of doing drug tests — which can be as much as $30 to $50 a pop. Many employers are finding that even incentives given from insurance companies for maintaining a “drug free” workplace and the anti-marijuana rumblings from Attorney General Jeff Sessions aren’t enough to outweigh the costs of drug testing.

“We don’t care what people do in their free time,” Liam Meyer, a spokesman for Excellence Health, a 6,000-person company based in Las Vegas, said in the Insurance Journal report. “We want to help these people, instead of saying: ‘Hey, you can’t work for us because you used a substance.’ ”

TECH CHECK: My Bluetooth Headset Doesn’t Connect!


(This post originally appeared on Forbes)

Tech Check is a weekly blog that offers suggestions for solving some of the biggest headaches business professionals face with technology.

Carlos Garcia is the President and CEO of Finhabits. Founded in 2015, Finhabits offers technology that gives investors easy access to superior, low-cost investing and savings options. The company has 7 employees and is located in New York, NY.

The problem:

Garcia has a hard time consistently connecting his Bluetooth headset to his desktop.  He says sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.  His laptop connection seems to work fine all the time. “It is frustrating when technology has the potential to make our lives easier but instead winds up causing problems,” he complained.

Our expert’s advice:

Sinem Gulbay, an engineer at Dell Technologies, has this to say:

Until recently, most desktops did not offer Bluetooth because folks tend to use wired peripherals with a desktop PC. But today, most desktops do come with Bluetooth capabilities, so this should be less and less of a problem. Most all of Dell’s consumer systems as well as 100% of our commercial portfolio, aside from our desktops, include Bluetooth.

If one does have a desktop with a Bluetooth and it’s finicky or the connection is not good, that’s a different story. In general, if there’s a Bluetooth transmitter, it will be found by the Windows Operating System, and the user can turn it on and connect to Bluetooth devices in the Operating System settings menu.  That’s a system-agnostic function; it doesn’t matter what PC you’re on.

My thoughts:

I agree with Garcia. Ultimately, my Bluetooth devices connect, but it’s not always consistent, and it sometimes it takes a few tries.  Wired connections (headsets, speakers, etc.) are always the most reliable solution, assuming you don’t need to be moving around too much.

Read More…

A female entrepreneur creates a man-free island retreat in Finland

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

Here’s one sure way to completely eliminate any potential #MeToo situation: go to a place where men aren’t allowed.

That’s the idea from Seattle-based entrepreneur Kristina Roth, a former chief executive of a consulting company and the founder of SuperShe, a female-oriented lifestyle blog. Roth has created SuperSheIsland – a private location that will accommodate 10 people in four luxurious cabins off the coast of Finland and sorry guys, you’re not invited. Read More…

1 in 3 Americans have $0 Saved for Retirement and It’s Partly Their Employers’ Fault


(This post originally appeared on Inc.)

A client of mine recently celebrated the retirement of Joe – a 25-year employee – with a nice party. Three months later, Joe was back at the door, begging for part-time work. Why? All these years he hadn’t put enough money away for retirement and he needed help. What could my client do? What would you do?

survey conducted last year by personal finance site GoBankingRates found that 56 percent of Americans had only $10,000 put away for retirement and a whopping one in three have nothing saved at all. Some reports highlight the fact that the millennial generation -who represent 50 percent of the U.S. workforce – are also not putting away nearly enough what they need for retirement. But it’s not just a millennial issue. The GoBankingRates study also found that only one in four people over the age of 55 have more than $300K saved for their retirement.

Americans aren’t saving enough for their retirement, plain and simple and it’s their employers – you and me – who are partly responsible.

A big part of the reason is that over the past few decades the emphasis on corporate employee benefits have shifted from retirement (particularly defined benefit plans, which are now mostly extinct in the private sector) to healthcare. But we’re making other mistakes. Here are five of them. Read More…