The government shutdown would never work in real life
I’m fed up with our government, especially Congress. The super-partisan behavior totally forgoes basic economic principals, common sense and tenets of public service in general. To further illustrate Congress’ incompetence, and more to have a little fun and provide an outlet for my own anger surrounding current events, let’s transplant some of the egregious behavior in DC into a startup environment and see how it looks.
1. Freezing cash flow
Action: The government has shuttered many revenue producing, cash flow positive attractions, and the Department of Defense even considered cancelling the Navy-Air Force football game (one of the surest revenue positive events that exists).
Comparison: Startups are often cash-strapped. That is a reality that many of us entrepreneurs face. This is not when management shuts down the few efforts that actually make money, though.
Let’s say a company makes ice cream and they are struggling. The company has a stand in Central Park set up – and already paid for – that generates $1,000 a day in revenue. It costs $100 in ingredients/goods and $200 in salary to open and fund the stand for a day. No entrepreneur would shut down that stand down to save the $300 of daily operating expenses knowing that at the end of the day he’d have $700 in net income (provided the business in general is remaining open, of course). But our government is doing this!
2. Bickering over credit
Action: The government is threatening (again) to not raise the debt ceiling.
Comparison: A small business has an operating line of credit, and the parameters of this line are such that the business can access additional credit at this time if the Board of Directors votes to do so. The company has bills due and interest obligations to meet. The Board knows they are spending too much money, though, and enters intense interdepartmental negotiations to figure out how to cut future spending from the different business units. Until a new, lower budget is agreed upon they will not vote to access their additional credit.
As a result, the company defaults on obligations. Vendors then eliminate credit terms or make them worse, the banks reduce credit limits and increase interest, and the company 401k plan is not funded. Employees are upset. Vendors are upset.
The same credit line that was accessible before is no longer easily available, and when money is borrowed (which is inevitable in this business), it costs the company significantly more money. The company is in far worse financial shape than it was, and operationally it has been wounded too. Even though the Board had the ability to avoid this scenario totally in it’s own control. Ouch. That was stupid.
3. No pay or benefits unless you’re management
Action: Congress’ failure to fund the government leads to a shutdown. That same Congress continues to pay itself full salaries while more than 800,000 federal employees are furloughed, essential aid programs are reduced or cut entirely and services across the country are drastically reduced.
Comparison: An exciting startup has grown from five people to 50 in less than a year. Management screwed up and has spent ahead of investment dollars and revenue. The company doesn’t have enough money to make payroll.
Management announces to employees that they will not be getting paid, and asks them stay on board to help the company get fixed. Management is hopeful that the employees will be paid in the near future.
At this same time, executives pay themselves a full salary; management also cancels health insurance and other benefits for everyone outside of management. Ethics, anyone?
How the real world works
Please forgive a few liberties I have taken in drawing parallels, but there is no mistaking how counterproductive Congress’ behavior is right now. But you didn’t need me to say that, or illustrate it, either. I’m sure you already had the same conclusion. At least 90 percent of you did. Who are these 10 percent of people polled that approve of Congress right now, by the way?
One serous note to take from this: Owners should be the last people paid, management should be next to miss out, and employees should always be first. That is a philosophy all entrepreneurs should take to heart and a rule I hope you all live by, no matter the example set by our government.
Shady salary transparency is running rampant: What to look out for
(EDITORIAL) Employees currently have the upper hand in the market. Employers, you must be upfront about salary and approach it correctly.
It’s the wild wild west out there when it comes to job applications. Job descriptions often misrepresent remote work opportunities. Applicants have a difficult time telling job scams from real jobs. Job applicants get ghosted by employers, even after a long application process. Following the Great Resignation, many employers are scrambling for workers. Employees have the upper hand in the hiring process, and they’re no longer settling for interviews with employers that aren’t transparent, especially about salary.
Don’t be this employer
User ninetytwoturtles shared a post on Reddit in r/recruitinghell in which the employer listed the salary as $0 to $1,000,000 per year. Go through many listings on most job boards and you’ll find the same kind of tactics – no salary listed or too large of a wide range. In some places, it’s required to post salary information. In 2021, the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act went into effect in Colorado. Colorado employers must list salary and benefits to give new hires more information about fair pay. Listing a broad salary range skirts the issue. It’s unfair to applicants, and in today’s climate, employers are going to get called out on it. Your brand will take a hit.
Don’t obfuscate wage information
Every employer likes to think that their employees work because they enjoy the job, but let’s face it, money is the biggest motivator. During the interview process, many a job has been lost over salary negotiations. Bringing up wages too early in the application process can be bad for a job applicant. On the other hand, avoiding the question can lead to disappointment when a job is offered, not to mention wasted time. In the past, employers held all the cards. Currently, it’s a worker’s market. If you want productive, quality workers, your business needs to be honest and transparent about wages.
3 reasons to motivate yourself to declutter your workspace (and mind)
(EDITORIAL) Making time to declutter saves time and money – all while reducing stress. Need a little boost to start? We all need motivation sometimes.
It’s safe to say that we’ve all been spending a lot more time in our homes these last few years. This leads us to fixate on the things we didn’t have time for before – like a loose doorknob, an un-alphabetized bookshelf, or that we’ve put off ‘declutter’ on our to-do list for too long.
The same goes for our workspaces. Many of us have had to designate a spot at home to use for work purposes. For those of you who still need to remain on-site, you’ve likely been too busy to focus on your surroundings.
Cleaning and organizing your workspace every so often is important, regardless of the state of the world, and with so much out of our control right now, this is one of the few things we can control.
Whether you’re working from a home office or an on-site office, take some time for quarantine decluttering. According to The Washington Post, taking time to declutter can increase your productivity, lower stress, and save money (I don’t know about you, but just reading those 3 things makes me feel better already).
Clutter can cause us to feel overwhelmed and make us feel a bit frazzled. Having an office space filled with piles of paper containing irrelevant memos from five years ago or 50 different types of pens has got to go – recycle that mess and reduce your stress. The same goes with clearing files from your computer; everything will run faster.
Speaking of running faster, decluttering and creating a cleaner workspace will also help you be more efficient and productive. Build this habit by starting small: try tidying up a bit at the end of every workday, setting yourself up for a ready-to-roll morning.
Cleaning also helps you take stock of stuff that you have so that you don’t end up buying more of it. Create a designated spot for your tools and supplies so that they’re more visible – this way, you’ll always know what you have and what needs to be replenished. This will help you stop buying more of the same product that you already have and save you money.
So, if you’ve been looking to improve your focus and clearing a little bit of that ‘quarantine brain’, start by getting your workspace in order. You’ll be amazed at how good it feels to declutter and be “out with the old”; you may even be inspired to do the same for your whole house. Regardless, doing this consistently will create a positive shift in your life, increasing productivity, reducing stress, and saving you money.
How to identify and minimize ‘invisible’ work in your organization
(EDITORIAL) Often meaningless, invisible tasks get passed down to interns and women. These go without appreciation or promotion. How can we change that?
Invisible work, non-promotable tasks, and “volunteer opportunities” (more often volun-told), are an unfortunate reality in the workforce. There are three things every employer should do in relation to these tasks: minimize them, acknowledge them, and distribute them equitably.
Unfortunately, the reality is pretty far from this ideal. Some estimates state up to 75% or more of these time-sucking, minimally career beneficial activities are typically foisted on women in the workplace and are a leading driver behind burnout in female employees. The sinister thing about this is most people are completely blind to these factors; it’s referred to as invisible work for a reason.
Research from Harvard Business Review* found that 44% more requests are presented to women as compared to men for “non-promotable” or volunteer tasks at work. Non-promotable tasks are activities such as planning holiday events, coordinating workplace social activities, and other ‘office housework’ style activities that benefit the office but typically don’t provide career returns on the time invested. The work of the ‘office mom’ often goes unacknowledged or, if she’s lucky, maybe garners some brief lip service. Don’t be that boss that gives someone a 50hr workload task for a 2-second dose of “oh yeah thanks for doing a bajillion hours of work on this thing I will never acknowledge again and won’t help your career.” Yes, that’s a thing. Don’t do it. If you do it, don’t be surprised when you have more vacancies than staff. You brought that on yourself.
There is a lot of top-tier talent out there in the market right now. To be competitive, consider implementing some culture renovations so you can have a more equitable, and therefore more attractive, work culture to retain your top talent.
What we want to do:
- Identify and minimize invisible work in your organization
- Acknowledge the work that can’t be avoided. Get rid of the blind part.
- Distribute the work equitably.
Here is a simple example:
Step 1: Set up a way for staff to anonymously bring things to your attention. Perhaps a comment box. Encourage staff to bring unsung heroes in the office to your attention. Things they wish their peers or they themselves received acknowledgment for.
Step 2: Read them and actually take them seriously. Block out some time on your calendar and give it your full attention.
For the sake of demonstration, let’s say someone leaves a note about how Caroline always tidies up the breakroom at the end of the day and cleans the coffee pot with supplies Caroline brings from home. Now that we have identified a task, we are going to acknowledge it, minimize it, and consider the distribution of labor.
Step 3: Thank Caroline at the team meeting for scrubbing yesterday’s burnt coffee out of the bottom of the pot every day. Don’t gloss over it. Make the acknowledgment mean something. Buy her some chips out of the vending machine or something. The smallest gestures can have the biggest impact when coupled with actual change.
Step 4: Remind your staff to clean up after themselves. Caroline isn’t their mom. If you have to, enforce it.
Step 5: Put it in the office budget to provide adequate cleaning supplies for the break room and review your custodial needs. This isn’t part of Caroline’s job description and she could be putting that energy towards something else. Find the why of the situation and address it.
You might be rolling your eyes at me by now, but the toll of this unpaid invisible work has real costs. According to the 2021 Women in the Workplace Report* the ladies are carrying the team, but getting little to none of the credit. Burnout is real and ringing in at an all-time high across every sector of the economy. To be short, women are sick and tired of getting the raw end of the deal, and after 2 years of pandemic life bringing it into ultra-sharp focus, are doing something about it. In the report, 40% of ladies were considering jumping ship. Data indicates that a lot of them not only manned the lifeboats but landed more lucrative positions than they left. Now is the time to score and then retain top talent. However, it is up to you to make sure you are offering an environment worth working in.
*Note: the studies cited here do not differentiate non-cis-identifying persons. It is usually worse for individuals in the LGBTQIA+ community.
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