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The wrong and right ways to mandate COVID vaccines for your employees

(BUSINESS NEWS) Many are considering a COVID vaccine mandate for all employees, but you’d better read up so you don’t put your well-intentioned foot in your mouth.

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COVID vaccine

As businesses grapple with increasing pressure from consumers, employees, healthcare officials, and politicians to help crack down on the recent spike in COVID cases, many are considering the option of mandating vaccines for their staff. Some will leave it up to employees, others will require all employees to get vaccinated and return to the office – either way, read up on how not to screw this up.

Should you choose to implement such a policy, it’s important to know what you can (and absolutely can’t) ask your employees to do – and how best to do it.

To start, you need to consider exceptions. A blanket COVID vaccine mandate for your employees may sound comprehensive, but certain groups are exempt from vaccine requirements. Failing to take that into account will result in an illegal mandate.

The ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) is a good place to start regarding exceptions. According to the Act, you must exempt any employee who cannot receive the vaccine due to a disability of any kind (chronic illness, recovery from having COVID, an infection). Your solutions will vary, but may include having the employee work from home or allowing them to work in a private space.

Employees should understand that, should their inability to receive the vaccine be temporary, they will be expected to receive it as soon as that inability lapses.

The other exceptions about which you’ve likely heard are for pregnancies and religious preferences.

The former is pretty cut-and-dry: If someone is pregnant and their obstetrician says they shouldn’t be vaccinated, follow ADA guidelines and can ask them to be vaccinated before returning from their leave.

Religious exemptions are harder to discern since the official language references a “sincere” belief against COVID vaccines. While you can (and should) discuss fringe issues with this exemption with your attorney, keep in mind that it isn’t your job to determine whether or not your employees are serious about their faith, its extent, or its limitations.

Your state or city may have further exemptions for you to consider, so consult any pertinent legislation before moving forward with your plan to implement a vaccine mandate.

Once you have determined your exemptions, you’ll need to communicate a few things to your employees: A time frame for vaccination, the aforementioned exceptions, and the consequences for failing to follow your mandate. HR expert, Suzanne Lucas posits that three months is a reasonable window for eligible employees to get vaccinated; she also says that termination is an acceptable consequence for noncompliance.

Lucas also recommends writing a “statement of need” to release to employees and/or the general public to address concerns and clear up confusion around what your new policy entails. This statement can be as simple as a quick acknowledgement of your decision, or you can elaborate on all of the above steps you’ve taken.

As long as you’re following these steps and refraining from pressuring employees who are exempt, you should be in the clear to invoke a mandatory COVID vaccine policy for your workers if you so choose. But you also have the right not to. This decision isn’t being made lightly by any company as there is no playbook to use here – you’re not alone if you find this process to be difficult.

Business News

Keep your company’s operations lean by following these proven strategies

(BUSINESS) Keeping your operations lean means more than saving money, it means accomplishing more in less time.

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The past two years have been challenging, not just economically, but also politically and socially as well. While it would be nice to think that things are looking up, in reality, the problems never end. Taking a minimalist approach to your business, AKA keeping it lean, can help you weather the future to be more successful.

Here are some tips to help you trim the fat without putting profits above people.

Automate processes

Artificial intelligence frees up human resources. AI can manage many routine elements of your business, giving your team time to focus on important tasks that can’t be delegated to machines. This challenges your top performers to function at higher levels, which can only benefit your business.

Consider remote working

Whether you rent or own your property, it’s expensive to keep an office open. As we learned in the pandemic, many jobs can be done just as effectively from home as the workplace. Going remote can save you money, even if you help your team outfit their home office for safety and efficiency.

In today’s world, many are opting to completely shutter office doors, but you may be able to save money by using less space or renting out some of your office space.

Review your systems to find the fat

As your business grows (or downsizes), your systems need to change to fit how you work. Are there places where you can save money? If you’re ordering more, you may be able to ask vendors for discounts. Look for ways to bring down costs.

Talk to your team about where their workflow suffers and find solutions. An annual review through your budget with an eye on saving money can help you find those wasted dollars.

Find the balance

Operating lean doesn’t mean just saving money. It can also mean that you look at your time when deciding to pay for services. The point is to be as efficient as possible with your resources and systems, while maintaining customer service and safety. When you operate in a lean way, it sets your business up for success.

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Business News

How to apply to be on a Board of Directors

(BUSINESS) What do you need to think about and explore if you want to apply for a Board of Directors? Here’s a quick rundown of what, why, and when.

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board of directors

What?
What does a Board of Directors do? Investopedia explains “A board of directors (B of D) is an elected group of individuals that represent shareholders. The board is a governing body that typically meets at regular intervals to set policies for corporate management and oversight. Every public company must have a board of directors. Some private and nonprofit organizations also have a board of directors.”

Why?
It is time to have a diverse representation of thoughts, values and insights from intelligently minded people that can give you the intel you need to move forward – as they don’t have quite the same vested interests as you.

We have become the nation that works like a machine. Day in and day out we are consumed by our work (and have easy access to it with our smartphones). We do volunteer and participate in extra-curricular activities, but it’s possible that many of us have never understood or considered joining a Board of Directors. There’s a new wave of Gen Xers and Millennials that have plenty of years of life and work experience + insights that this might be the time to resurrect (or invigorate) interest.

Harvard Business Review shared a great article about identifying the FIVE key areas you would want to consider growing your knowledge if you want to join a board:

1. Financial – You need to be able to speak in numbers.
2. Strategic – You want to be able to speak to how to be strategic even if you know the numbers.
3. Relational – This is where communication is key – understanding what you want to share with others and what they are sharing with you. This is very different than being on the Operational side of things.
4. Role – You must be able to be clear and add value in your time allotted – and know where you especially add value from your skills, experiences and strengths.
5. Cultural – You must contribute the feeling that Executives can come forward to seek advice even if things aren’t going well and create that culture of collaboration.

As Charlotte Valeur, a Danish-born former investment banker who has chaired three international companies and now leads the UK’s Institute of Directors, says, “We need to help new participants from under-represented groups to develop the confidence of working on boards and to come to know that” – while boardroom capital does take effort to build – “this is not rocket science.

When?
NOW! The time is now for all of us to get involved in helping to create a brighter future for organizations and businesses that we care about (including if they are our own business – you may want to create a Board of Directors).

The Harvard Business Review gave great explanations of the need to diversify those that have been on the Boards to continue to strive to better represent our population as a whole. Are you ready to take on this challenge? We need you.

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Business News

Average age of successful startup founders is 45, but stop stereotyping

(BUSINESS) Our culture glorifies (yet condemns?) startup founders as rich 20-somethings in hoodies, but some are a totally different type.

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startup founders average age is 45

There’s a common misconception that startups are riddled with semi-nerdy, 20-something white dudes who do nothing but sip Nitro Brews and walk around the open office showing off the hoodie they wore yesterday. It turns out that it’s extremely rare that startup offices resemble The Social Network.

However, the academic backdrop for the real social network story (AKA Harvard), produced statistics that will serve to put the aforementioned misconception to rest. According to the Harvard Business Review, the average age of people who founded the highest-growth startups is 45. Say what?! A full-fledged adult?!

In fact, aside from the age category of 60 and over, ages 29 and younger were the smallest group of founders that are responsible for heading the highest-growth startups. I guess you can accomplish a lot when you’re not riding around the office on a scooter all day.

The study also found that older entrepreneurs are more likely to succeed. The probability of extreme startup success rises with age, at least until the late 50s. It was found that work experience plays an important role.

Many will argue, “Well, what about someone like Steve Jobs?” You could easily argue right back that it took Jobs until the age of 52 to create Apple’s most profitable product – the iPhone.

The study continues to answer questions like, why do Venture Capitalist investors bet on young founders? This goes back to the misconception at the start, and there’s a notion that youth is the key for successful entrepreneurship. Wrong.

There is also the idea that younger entrepreneurs are likely working with less financial options, so it may be common for them to take something from a VC at a lower price. As a result, they could be viewed as more of a bargain than older founders.

“The next step for researchers is to explore what exactly explains the advantage of middle-aged founders,” writes Pierre Azoulay, et al. “For example, is it due to greater access to financial resources, deeper social networks, or certain forms of experience? In the meantime, it appears that advancing age is a powerful feature, not a bug, for starting the most successful firms.”

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