Tag Archives: vacation

Make Setting Salaries Easier With These 5 Steps

 

Whether you are hiring for the first time, filling an open position, or conducting annual performance reviews, finding a salary range that attracts and retains valued employees can be a difficult task. Here are some suggestions to help make the process a bit easier for you and your company:

  1. Know what your business can afford. Like any business expense, you need to know how it will affect your budget and cash flow. Make a twelve-month profitability and cash forecast and then plug in the high end of the annual salary range you are considering to see if it’s something your business can absorb. After all, the greatest employee in the world can’t help you if you don’t have the money to pay them. Don’t forget to account for increases in benefit costs, especially the escalating cost to provide healthcare. Once you establish a budget, you can allocate your spending plan to your payroll.
  2. Understand the laws. In general, the federal government sets the minimum requirements (minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, overtime rules and record keeping requirements). States and localities often add their own set of rules. For example, the state of Illinois, Cook County and the city of Chicago all have different minimum wage requirements. If you are located in Chicago you need to adhere to the highest rate. So research all payroll rules that apply to your location at the beginning of the process. When reviewing the rules, don’t forget that different rules often apply depending on the number of employees in your business.
  3. Review and update job descriptions. Take some time to review key jobs and update them as appropriate. With new positions, note the exact tasks and responsibilities you envision for the role. Then, think about the type of person that will succeed performing these responsibilities. Once you have a clear picture of who you are looking for, you can begin to build a detailed job description and narrow in on a specific salary range.
  4. Establish value ranges and apply them. Value is key when determining the perfect salary amount. Define the range of value for the position and then apply that valuation to the current person’s performance within the defined pay range. Use websites and recruiters to establish the correct range of pay, then apply experience and employee performance to obtain a potential new salary amount. Remember, size of company, location and competitiveness of the job market are all factors to consider.
  5. Factor in company benefits. A strong suite of employee benefits is a powerful tool to couple with a competitive salary. Don’t be afraid to communicate their value to prospective and current employees (they help with retention, too!). According to Glassdoor, health and dental insurance are the most important, but flexibility is close behind – over 80 percent of job seekers take flexible hours, vacation time and work-from-home options into consideration before accepting a position.

Finding the right salary can be tricky, but with some preparation and research, you can find the balance that satisfies the needs of your business and your employees.

Can’t Miss Stops for Your Summer Road Trip

School is out, the weather is warm, and it’s time to head out on a summer road trip! Tired of the same old locations? Every state has a number of unique destinations for the everyday explorer. Here are some free ideas for the creative vacation seeker in all of us:

  • The World’s Largest Yard Sale. Stretching 690 miles through six states, the World’s Largest Yard sale includes over 2,000 vendors. Every year at the beginning of August, you can drive for four days (from Addison, Michigan to Gadsden, Alabama) in search of second-hand treasures. Along the route are more than 35 major vendor stops. These stops include groups of at least 25 sellers clustered together. But you can also find sales in individual yards, garages, parking lots or even right on the side of the road.
  • The Wave Organ. Located in San Francisco, California, the Wave Organ is a sprawling sculpture that incorporates multiple pipes that enter the ocean at different levels to create musical tones when they’re struck by the waves. The sculpture itself is made of granite and marble from an old cemetery. When planning a visit, shoot to be there during high tide when the organ is at its best.
  • Miss Crustacean Hermit Crab Beauty Pageant. Do you have a hermit crab that really likes to flaunt its shell? Then Ocean City, New Jersey is the place for you! Every August, contestants vie for the Coveted Cucumber Rind Cup by showcasing their elaborately decorated hermit crabs. Registering your charming hermit crab is free — just make sure you get there early.
  • Carhenge. If you don’t have time to travel across the ocean to see Stonehenge, you’re in luck! Head to Alliance, Nebraska to visit Carhenge instead. Built in 1987 as a replica of the iconic stone circle in England, Carhenge uses vintage cars as building blocks instead of the 25-ton stones used in the original. It’s located in the middle of farmland and includes a walking path with some other, let’s just say, interesting sculptures.
  • The Austin bats. Hidden under the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas from late March until early fall lives the largest urban colony of Mexican free-tailed bats in the world. At its peak, (sometime in August) the colony has as many as 1.5 million bats! Every night around sunset, onlookers pack the bridge, sidewalks and river below to experience the colony taking flight in search of insects. If you decide to watch from the water, you might want to bring an umbrella — unprepared spectators are known to be hit with guano (AKA bat poop)!

Hitting the road is a great way to spend some time with loved ones this summer. Adding quirky stops that will be remembered for a lifetime make it even better!

Hotel Safety Travel Tips

As summer vacation season begins, please take a moment to review Traveler Safety Tips provided for those who stay in hotels and public lodging. These tips are provided courtesy of the American Hotel and Lodging Association. Be safe out there!

  • Don’t answer the door in a hotel or motel room without verifying who it is. If a person claims to be an employee, call the front desk and ask if someone from their staff is supposed to have access to your room and for what purpose.
  • Keep your room key with you at all times and don’t needlessly display it in public. Should you misplace it, please notify the front desk immediately.
  • Close the door securely whenever you are in your room and use all of the locking devices provided.
  • Check to see that any sliding glass doors or windows and any connecting room doors are locked.
  • Don’t invite strangers to your room.
  • Be aware of potential phone scams and prank calls to your guestroom. Hotel employees will never request credit card or personal information over the phone, nor will they advise a guest to damage hotel property.
  • Place all valuables in the hotel or motel’s safe deposit box.
  • When returning to your hotel or motel late in the evenings, be aware of your surroundings, stay in well-lighted areas, and use the main entrance.
  • Take a few moments and locate the nearest exit that may be used in the event of an emergency.
  • If you see any suspicious activity, notify the hotel operator or a staff member.

Source: American Hotel & Lodging Association

Five Smart Uses for Your Tax Refund

So you were fortunate enough to receive a tax refund this year. What are your plans for the money? Here are five ideas worth considering.

Pay down debt – Start with debts that carry the highest interest rates first, then move down the line. This is like savings on savings as you are freeing up future cash needed to pay the interest on this debt.

Ideas: Pay off credit card debt. Lower your student loan debt. Make a principal payment on a mortgage.

Add to savings – Save some of your refund for later use.

Ideas: Add to your emergency fund to have enough to cover at least six months of your every-day expenses. Add to a college savings account or a tax-advantaged retirement account.

Invest in yourself – Spend some money improving yourself or your well-being. Investing in yourself can have long-term benefits.

Ideas: Take a class to develop a hobby into a career. Consider a fitness membership. Take up meditation. Become accredited in your chosen profession.

Spend for permanence – Instead of spending your refund on day-to-day expenses, use some of it for capital purchases. Capital purchases are for items that last longer than one year.

Ideas: Replace a worn out couch. Purchase a replacement bicycle. Upgrade an outdated light fixture. Consider a minor home improvement.

Have some fun – Finally, consider using part of your refund for a well-deserved break. When balanced with using a portion of your refund to improve your financial condition, you can feel better about a little splurging in your life.

Ideas: Shop last minute flight deals for a weekend getaway. Take a road trip to a favorite destination.

Ten Clever Vacation Tips

Summer often means vacations. And for those who wish to travel light with few surprises, here are ten clever vacation tips.

The 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 rule – Having trouble packing light? Consider using a popular online technique called 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. There are a number of versions of this packing technique. Simply choose one that works best for you. Here is a typical example:

  • 5 socks/underwear
  • 4 shirts
  • 3 pants/slacks
  • 2 pairs of shoes
  • 1 hat, toothbrush, brush, sunglasses, toothpaste, razor, shampoo, jewelry, etc.

Dryer sheet in your luggage – As your trip goes by, your luggage is going to start filling with dirty clothing. A separate bag with a dryer sheet enclosed can help mitigate the stale smell of your soiled garments.

Bring old clothes – Bring old t-shirts, underwear, shorts and socks. As they are soiled, leave them behind or donate them. The added space in your luggage can be used for newly found treasures.

Leverage hotel disposables – Use a shower cap to store dirty shoes. Use their plastic laundry bag for your own to keep the dirty away from the clean. Find missing toiletries (like toothbrush, toothpaste, and combs) at the front desk.

Use plastic – Place plastic wrap under the caps of things that can leak. Store toiletries in plastic storage bags. Bring a small trash bag for laundry and to keep wet things away from dry.

Carry on snacks – Place some snacks in your luggage and other pre-packaged snacks in your travel bag. As long as they are sealed and not liquid, these low priced alternatives to airport fare can get through security.

Keep an emergency set of clothes – If checking a bag, keep one set of clothing in your carry-on luggage. It might be just what you need if you end up at a destination different from your baggage.

Keep copies of valuable items – Back up your computer, phone and other electronic devices prior to leaving on your trip. Make copies of your passport, driver’s license, credit card numbers and other valuables. If things are then stolen, you can quickly get the information to those who need it.

Roll rather than fold – Rolled clothing in suitcases have fewer wrinkles than items that are folded.

Worry with priority – Everyone usually forgets something when leaving for vacation. Keep a short list of must haves and then go through a mental checklist of these “few” items prior to walking out the door. They might include:

  • Picture ID (and/or passport for international travel)
  • Cash
  • Credit Card
  • Tickets; confirmation numbers

As long as you don’t forget the kids, most everything else can either be replaced or you can live without.

Enjoy your vacation!