Managing your employees, and the new tax laws


By its very nature, effective management skills require constant juggling — of workload, deadlines and employees’ productivity. But in an ever-changing business climate, it’s important to ensure managers and business owners alike are operating on all cylinders.

“Given the state of the current economy, low unemployment rates and the relative labor shortage in the North Bay, managers should be focusing on retention strategies,” said Brenda Gilchrist and Gary Hochman, co-founders of The HR Matrix LLC, a Santa Rosa-based firm that advises clients in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, technology, health care and nonprofit organizations. “Managers who recognize that hiring is a key strategic contribution will be able to build better teams, and have lower turnover and higher employee satisfaction.”

That starts with doing everything possible to avoid hiring the wrong person, they said. Otherwise, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, the cost of a bad hire will amount to at least 30 percent of the employee’s first-year earnings.

Before placing a job opening on LinkedIn, Indeed or whatever hiring platform you’re considering, thoroughly evaluate the job description and all that the job requires, including how a potential candidate would interact with others, and what skills and attributes fit best with the company needs and culture, said Gilchrist and Hochman.

At the same time, leaders must consider their own contributions to ensure they’re bringing value to their companies every day.

“Don’t forget that you can say ‘no’ to opportunities that pull you away from your organization’s ultimate goals, or that derail your current goals,” said Nicole Smartt, vice president of Santa Rosa-based Star Staffing. “Saying ‘yes’ to every opportunity is a great way to spread yourself too thin, dilute your directional strength, and potentially destroy your forward momentum.”

The HR experts caution against overreacting or rushing to judgment; rather, they advise cool heads, active listening and long-term thinking for the health of the team, as well as the business.

“Before making a big decision, whether hiring new employees, leasing new space, purchasing or renting new equipment, (managers) should consider the long-term impact and what the business will need to look like in the future to sustain those expenses,” said Kerri Berry, CPA, and a senior tax manager at Linkenheimer LLP CPAs and Advisors in Santa Rosa. “These large decisions could have a significant influence on their financial strategies down the road and what their tax game plan will look like when it comes time to file.”

Speaking of taxes, now is the time to prepare for the new tax laws that are just around the corner. If you are a business owner, speak with your accountant as soon as possible and get ahead of a potential mess.

Berry advises business owners to think about the following with regard to the new tax laws:

Should the entity structure change?

Should you change to reporting your income on the cash basis versus accrual basis?

How can you best take advantage of the new pass-through deduction?

“The new laws are complicated and have a wide range of implications,” Berry said, “so the best way to avoid surprises is to consult with your CPA on an ongoing basis as your business and situation evolves.”

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