Business — 17 April 2021
Best Business Practices For Small Businesses: Part II

We last discussed the importance of business practices like obtaining legal counsel, becoming knowledgeable about and following all government regulations and protocols, and ensuring a strong firewall to keep out would-be hackers. Today we’ll discuss the importance of recordkeeping, rewards and compensation, safety, and feedback going both ways. All these things will help prevent lawsuits in the future.

You won’t run a successful business without records that are spot-on. They need to be accurate. For example, you need to know when your employers went on break — and you need to be able to prove it. That’s why you should ask them to clock in and out for break even when they’re being paid. You don’t want an employee to argue that they weren’t receiving their breaks in court. 

Software is available to make the job of a bookkeeper much easier than it used to be. Many of these records can be automated, or at least automated to the point where a bookkeeper might only have to change a few details manually. And don’t forget to audit your bookkeeper every so often. You want to keep everyone honest. 

CEO Deborah Sweeney of MyCorporation said, “File your annual report so your business remains in good standing, and make sure your business information is accurate and up to date, including your present address and any changes made with your registered agent. If you have a business license, make sure you know when it’s time to renew the license and pay its fee to stay in compliance.”

Compensation is a big part of the relationship between employer and employee. The employer absolutely needs to reward hard work — but in a fair, equitable way that won’t grind anyone else’s gears. These rewards might include quarterly bonuses (like Walmart’s), paid time off (PTO) bonuses, and competitive pay. And of course you can always ask your employers what they would like.

Safety is paramount to avoiding lawsuits. For example, a Chicago wrongful death lawsuit might target an employee who caused an accident, an employer who might have prevented an accident, or a company with policies that helped make accidents more likely. 

Being able to tell a judge that all employees are properly trained and that safety precautions are always followed to the letter will go a long way in avoiding lengthy or expensive lawsuits. OSHA routinely updates safety regulations, and business owners should read them as they become available. 

Feedback is important — and it cuts both ways. Employers should feel comfortable asking workers for feedback regarding treatment, safety procedures, fair compensation, etc. And they should feel equally as comfortable speaking with their employers about these topics. Without this type of communication, it’s easier for lawsuits to be built. For example, how can a former employer sue you successfully if you can just say: “Well, why didn’t you step forward and bring this to my attention when you had the opportunity? I always asked for your feedback, but never received any.”

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Dolores Obrien

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