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Business operators took away a wealth of expertise and knowledge on everything from handbooks to hacking at NJBIA’s seminars  in 2017.  Below are our Top 10 takeaways of the year.

  1. You don’t have to pay un-used sick or vacation time when employees leave. Attorney Marianne C. Tolomeo of Connell Foley explains that no state or federal law requires businesses to pay unused vacation time or sick time (local ordinances are another matter) when an employee leaves, but whatever a business chooses to do, spell it out in the handbook and do it the same for everybody. See “Three Pitfalls Lurking in Your Payroll Procedures…”
  2. Never, ever trust public Wi-Fi. Rashaad Bajwa, president and CEO of Domain Computer Services, demonstrated why at NJBIA’s Cybersecurity Summit. He set up a fake Wi-Fi account that 33 summit attendees connected to. See “The Pineapple Gag.”
  3. You can stop employees from bad-mouthing you on social media. But there are limits. As attorney Lisa Gingeleski explained at NJBIA’s HR for the 21st Century seminar, employees have the right to discuss wages and working conditions, including on social media. “Any sort of broad general policy is going to be an issue,” she said. “If you have a policy in place, you need it to be specific, and you need to give specific examples of what’s being considered prohibited conduct.” See “Can You Prohibit Employees from Bad-mouthing Your Company on Social Media?
  4. You can block OSHA inspectors from entering your workplace. But it’s not a good idea. As attorney Steve Barnett of Connell Foley explained, if OSHA shows up at your door for an inspection, you can refuse to let them on the property unless they get a warrant.  The problem is, they will return with a warrant. “Then you have created an adverse situation right off the bat,” he said. See “Six Things to Know about OSHA.”
  5. Promoting your best performers usually doesn’t work out. High performers do 80 percent of the work, have a can-do attitude, and consistently produce results. So, is promoting them to management the right move? Not necessarily, says consultant Krishna Powell. Doing well at their current job does not mean they have the skill set for a management position. See “When Promoting, High Performers Can Be Bad for Business.”
  6. Never use the phrase “fired for cause” in your employee handbook. Connell Foley attorney Michael Shadiack said over and over: an employer can terminate an employee who is “at-will” for any reason, so long as it is not an illegal reason (such as discrimination). A phrase like “fired for cause” contradicts the at-will relationship because it implies employees cannot be terminated without cause. See “Four Phrases That Should Never Be in Your Employee Handbook.”
  7. You can choose your own leadership style. Jodi Grinwald, founder of Today is the Day, taught members of the Women Business Leaders Network how Energy LeadershipTM lets them be the kind of a leader they want to be rather than identifying what kind of a leader they are. See “Your Personal Leadership Style and How to Improve It.”
  8. Email marketing delivers a $57 return for every $1 invested. “I implore businesses to start learning about email management and using email marketing as a tool,” Ed Andriessen of the Mercer Institute told NJBIA’s Small Business Network in September. See “Six Essentials for Marketing to the Modern Digital Consumer.”
  9. Online retail needs brick-and-mortar stores more than you think. Bryan Gonterman, vice president and general manager of AT&T New York/New Jersey Market, delivered some good news for those who fear retail is going the way of phone booths and milk delivery. “We have a saying: Retail distribution is not going away; crappy retail distribution is going away,” he said at NJBIA’s Small Business Summit. See “Online Retail Still Needs Brick-and-Mortar Stores.”
  10. You can check out a job candidate on social media, just don’t let the person making the hiring decision do it. Having someone outside the hiring process do the social media background searches allows them to filter out any information that cannot be considered by the hiring manager, such as a candidate’s race or age, attorney Michael Shadiack says. They should pass along only that which can lawfully be considered in deciding whom to hire. See “Should You Check a Job Applicant’s Social Media Before Hiring Them?”