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volume seven issue eleven

SMALL BUSINESS

HEALTH INSURANCE UNDERSTANDING YOUR OPTIONS

NEW TAX LAWS WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

2019 BACK TO BASIC MARKETING MOVES

WHY DO

BUSINESSES FEAR TECHNOLOGY? L E A R N I N G

T I P S

F O R

S M A L L

B U www.risbj.com S I N E| S S seven Oissue Weleven N E 1R S volume


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contents

volume seven issue eleven

INSIDE THIS ISSUE

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6 Small Business News 8 Rhode Island Foundation 10 Secretary of State 11 Knowing The New Tax Law 12 9 Back-to-Basics Marketing Moves for 2019

16 Why Do Many Businesses Fear Technology?

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18 Perfectly Planned Travel And Concierge 20 Second Annual Christmas Eve Diner 22 Personnel Practices

ON THE COVER volume seven issue eleven

24 Small Business Administration

SMALL BUSINESS

HEALTH INSURANCE UNDERSTANDING YOUR OPTIONS

NEW TAX LAWS WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

26 Monthly Learning Tips 29 Rhode Island Business Plan Competition

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14 RI Small Business Health Insurance 101

2019 BACK TO BASIC MARKETING MOVES

WHY DO T I P S

F O R

S M A L L

B U S I N E S S

Rhode Island Small Business Health Insurance 101 2019 Back To Basic Marketing Moves

BUSINESSES FEAR TECHNOLOGY? L E A R N I N G

Featured

O W N E R S

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SMALL BUSINESS

NEWS

PLDO Super Lawyers and Rising Stars ATTORNEYS NAMED 2018 SUPER LAWYERS AND RISING STARS IN RI

RHODE ISLAND – Pannone Lopes Devereaux & O’Gara LLC (PLDO) is pleased to announce that several attorneys have been named to the 2018 Rhode Island Super Lawyers and Rising Stars lists. Super Lawyers is a research-driven, peer review rating service of each state’s attorneys who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement in their practices. No more than five percent of the lawyers in each state are selected for inclusion in the Super Lawyers list. The Rising Stars list recognizes no more than 2.5 percent of attorneys in each state. To be eligible for inclusion in Rising Stars, a candidate must be either 40 years old or younger, or in practice for 10 years or less.

and responsiveness are at the core of the firm’s strategy to deliver the highest quality legal services in a most cost effective manner. Investment in cutting edge technology and skilled lawyers trained in multiple disciplines have been the driving force behind the firm’s success that has led to longterm client relationships and recognition by its peers and the legal profession. The firm’s primary areas of practice include business law, special masterships, government relations and legislative strategies, civil litigation, real estate development, commercial lending, municipal law, nonprofit law, cyber law, health care law, white collar defense, estate planning, probate administration and trust litigation.

PLDO attorneys selected as Rhode Island Super Lawyers for 2018 include Principals William P. Devereaux (Civil Litigation: Defense) and William E. O’Gara (Employment & Labor Law), as well as Managing Principal Gary R. Pannone (Business and Corporate Law) and Bernard A. Jackvony, Of Counsel (Estate and Trust Litigation). Attorneys recognized as 2018 Rising Stars in Rhode Island are Senior Associate Rebecca M. Murphy (Estate Planning & Probate), Partner Benjamin L. Rackliffe (Business and Corporate Law) and Partner Matthew C. Reeber (Employment & Labor Law).

PLDO has offices in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Florida. To contact our attorneys, call 401-824-5100, and to learn more about PLDO, visit www.pldolaw.com and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

PLDO is a leading full service law firm that is steadfast in bringing entrepreneurial business principles to the practice of law with a team of attorneys who have in-depth knowledge and experience in their practice areas. Innovation, team work

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About Pannone Lopes Devereaux & O’Gara LLC

Pannone Lopes Devereaux & O’Gara (“PLDO”) attorneys are highly skilled with a proven track record of achievement representing clients with respect to complex matters in a wide range of disciplines and industries. The founders of PLDO were formerly partners in an international law firm and are trained in multiple disciplines. The primary areas of practice for the firm include business law, special masterships, government relations and legislative strategies, civil litigation, real estate development, commercial lending, municipal law, nonprofit law, cyber law, health care law, white collar defense, estate planning, probate administration and trust litigation. The core values of respect, integrity, quality service and responsiveness are stressed each day at PLDO and the firm is committed to supporting the community in a meaningful way.


SMALL BUSINESS

NEWS

Kyle Seyboth Earns Two Awards RECOGNIZED IN THE TOP 10 OF THE “WALL STREET JOURNAL’S TOP 100”

Kyle Seyboth of The Seyboth Team located on 208 Taunton Ave., Route 44, in Seekonk, Massachusetts, has been recognized twice for his real estate volume. He recently earned the distinction of being named in the Top 10 in the United States in The Wall Street Journal’s “Top 10 National Real Estate Transactions Individual Producer.” The recognition comes from REAL Trends, a source of news, analysis and information on the residential brokerage industry for more than three decades. The company is a privately-held publishing, consulting and communications company based in Colorado. This becomes the third straight year Seyboth made The Wall Street Journal List, but the first time in the Top 10. Seyboth said he was “humbled” when he heard the news. Moreover, he noted that hearing his customers are satisfied with the service they received from The Seyboth Team (which includes his wife, Sara) is what he feels to be most important to him. “We completed nearly 400 transactions for residential and commercial customers,” said Seyboth, who is affiliated with the Lincoln, Rhode Island-based Keller Williams Realty, Leading Edge. “While this is a wonderful achievement, I saw the list and thought, ‘there are nine people on this list who are better than me.’ My goal is to make it into their ‘Top 5’ next year.”

support. Seyboth said it was their agency’s way of showing they did for their customers and the benefits they received in return.

Seyboth said this year’s goal is completing 500 transactions. While he said he is now closing in on that goal, there is still more work to be done. He said using social media to generate leads and answer questions from potential clients has been instrumental in his success. In addition to The Wall Street Journal distinction, Seyboth earned the Keller Williams Realty “Top Individual in Closed Units” for 2017. This award, which he also won in 2016, is based amongst Keller Williams Realty agents. Seyboth received the award at the agency’s annual convention held in Las Vegas.

Keller Williams Realty, Leading Edge, has several offices throughout Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. They work with residential and commercial customers find the property they are looking for and have the resources to make the purchase easy. Along with his wife, Seyboth has two daughters, Madeleine and Mackenzie. He graduated from St. Ray’s High School in Pawtucket and Elms College in Chicopee, Massachusetts with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Accounting. He earned his Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Suffolk University in Boston.

He noted the hard work and the feedback he gets from customers and colleagues demonstrates his abilities to understand what they need and delivering on those needs.

Seyboth welcomes the chance to get in front of people whether they are first-time home buyers, sellers and those looking for information about the industry. He noted the hassle-free approach to buying, which includes a no-obligation meeting. He noted that there is nothing to lose and everything to gain by scheduling an appointment.

“Earning the award from the company is positive for the team, and it gives us a push to become better,” he said. “We want to sustain that level of success and grow from there.” Another way The Seyboth Team recognized its recent string of success by hosting a recent Client Appreciation Party at The Capital Grille in Providence. More than 300 clients and customers attended the event to thank them for their continued

For more details about The Seyboth Team and to schedule a free consultation, please contact them at (508) 726-3492 or theseybothteam@gmail.com. Feel free to visit their website at https://www.zillow.com/profile/The-Seyboth-Team/ for review of their recent transactions.

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RHODE ISLAND

FOUNDATION

Affordable Housing Leader W J O E G A R L I C K ’ S WO R K I N C LU D E S C R E AT I N G H U N D

PROVIDENCE, RI – The 2018 Murray Family Prize for Community Enrichment at the Rhode Island Foundation has been awarded to Joe Garlick, executive director of NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley (NWBRV) in Woonsocket. With the honor, Garlick received $50,000 in recognition of his decades-long commitment to revitalizing urban neighborhoods and providing opportunities to improve lives. There are no restrictions on the use of the money. “Joe’s tireless dedication to improving the community around him is an inspiring example for others to follow. Our family takes great pride in honoring him for his drive and his accomplishments,” said Paula McNamara, daughter of Terrence and Suzanne Murray, who along with her family established the Murray Family Prize for Community Enrichment at the Foundation last year.

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A resident of Providence, Garlick has been NWBRV’s executive director since 1994. During his tenure, NWBRV has developed $18 million of single family housing, $98 million of rental housing and 90,000 square feet of commercial space. “It is truly amazing to be recognized for work you love and believe in. I consider myself lucky to be part of Rhode Island’s network of nonprofit community development corporations who work diligently to make sure our neighbors have homes they can afford in neighborhoods filled with opportunity. I’d also like to acknowledge my staff who work as hard as I do to fulfill our community mission,” said Garlick. Among the projects Garlick has led are the creation of more than 100 affordable apartments in the Constitution Hill neighborhood of Woonsocket, the construction of 80 affordable apartments for seniors at The Meadows in North Smithfield and the conversion of the former Stillwater Mill


RHODE ISLAND

FOUNDATION

Wins $50,000 Murray Prize REDS OF AFFORDABLE HOUSES AND APARTMENTS

in Burrillville into 47 affordable rental units at Clocktower Apartments in Burrillville. “It is important to applaud the contributions of Rhode Islanders like Joe, who are working quietly and humbly in service of others,” said Neil D. Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO. “We are grateful to the Murray family for working with us to honor the remarkable leaders whose work makes lives better.”

comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Working with generous and visionary donors, the Foundation raised $38 million and awarded $43 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities in 2017. Through leadership, fundraising and grantmaking activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential. For more information, visit rifoundation.org.

This is just the second time the Murray Family Prize has been awarded. The inaugural award was presented to UCAP School founder Rob DeBlois last year in recognition of his decades-long commitment to educating low-income, urban and predominately immigrant students with a history of school failure.

PHOTO CAPTION: Joe Garlick, executive director of NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley in Woonsocket, is the recipient of this year’s $50,000 Murray Family Prize for Community Enrichment at the Rhode Island Foundation. (L-R) Garlick (third from the left) meets with Murray family members (L-R) Paula McNamara, Suzanne Murray, Terry Murray, Megan Craigen and Terry Murray Jr. following the award ceremony.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most

For more information, visit rifoundation.org. www.risbj.com | volume seven issue eleven

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SECRETARY OF STATE | Nellie M. Gorbea What Clams Me About SMALL Manage A Remote Worker or Office SMALL BUSINESS BUSINESS || How Dear To Mom: A Taught Letter Home From ALeadership One Day Warrior

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SOME OF OUR TOP HIGHLIGHTS FROM 2018 by Secretary Of State Nellie M. Gorbea

Major improvements from 2018

As Secretary of State, my goal is to make government work for people and looking back at 2018, I am proud of our work at the Rhode Island Department of State to support Rhode Island’s small business community. Over the past year, my office has worked to make sure entrepreneurs like you have what they need to start, maintain and grow their businesses in Rhode Island. In case you missed some of our updates, here are a few highlights from 2018.

New business structure available

A new corporate structure made its debut at the beginning of 2018 called a “workers’ cooperative.” This new structure provides another option for those looking to start their business in Rhode Island. Workers’ cooperatives are for-profit businesses that are owned and controlled by those working for the business. Workers make important labor and management decisions and benefit from the business’ profits.

Making it easier to start a business

Over the summer we made significant improvements to our Business Services presence online with updates to sos.ri.gov. The site now features a new online library called “Business Basics” that helps give

MY OFFICE HAS WORKED TO MAKE SURE ENTREPRENEURS LIKE YOU HAVE WHAT THEY NEED TO START, MAINTAIN AND GROW THEIR BUSINESSES IN RHODE ISLAND 10

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new entrepreneurs a chance to educate themselves on the terms and topics they need to know before starting a business in Rhode Island. Business Basics also provides direct links to organizations that can offer technical assistance when starting a business and is available in Spanish as well as English. We also updated the Business Assistant web application that guides future business owners through a series of questions related to the business they are planning to start. Along with the redesign, we now provide users with an estimate of the fees they will need to pay to get their business started.

Cutting red tape

The Rhode Island Code of Regulations has been making waves since its launch last August. This nationally recognized, award-winning application displays all rules and regulations published by state agencies, boards, and commissions in a clear, uniform, and digital format. The application also includes guides and resources that make it easier to search the database for rules as well as understand the entire rule-making process.

Notary Public tools created, and a new law passed

A new law passed for Rhode Island notaries. Title 42, Chapter 30.1 “Uniform Law on Notarial Acts” was added to the Rhode Island General Laws and goes into effect on January 1, 2019. This new law strengthens and modernizes the office of Notary Public and provides clear procedures, access to modern notary tools like e-notarization, and greater protections consumers of notary services. To help over 20,000 notaries registered to the Department of State, we developed new

online tools to help ensure the services they provide are of the highest standard. These tools include an updated Notary Public Manual, a quick reference guide, and a series of tutorial videos that detail the steps to a proper notification, copy certification, and how to become a Notary Public. This important information is also provided in Spanish.

Moving Small Business Forward in 2019

Looking ahead to 2019, I will continue connecting with the small business community and find innovative ways in which the Department of State can help you succeed. As always, you may contact me directly with any thoughts or suggestions you have on what my office can do to help small business at secretarygorbea@sos.ri.gov or visit our website sos.ri.gov. We look forward to working with you to grow your business or non-profit in Rhode Island.


The New Tax Law | SMALL BUSINESS

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The New Tax Law by Michael F. Corrente

Signed into law late last year, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) is likely to mean significant changes to the income taxes you pay for 2018. TCJA is the most extensive overhaul of the federal tax codes in more than 30 years, affecting everything from income tax rates, deductions and credits to the alternative minimum tax (AMT) and the so-called “death tax.” TCJA also makes far-ranging changes to business taxes, which are too extensive to cover here.

Your deductions—standard and otherwise

State and local taxes and housing costs are relatively high in Rhode Island. So the changes that are probably causing the most concern here are TCJA’s limits on the deduction for state and local income and property taxes as well as mortgage interest. The new law limits the deduction for state and local income and property taxes to a combined $10,000 through 2025. The mortgage interest deduction is also cut back. Taxpayers can deduct interest only on mortgage debt of $750,000 ($1 million for mortgage debt incurred before December 15, 2017). Some other itemized deductions also will be curtailed for 2018– 2025. For example, miscellaneous itemized deductions subject to the 2% floor, such as investment expenses and unreimbursed employee business expenses, have been suspended. However, you can deduct cash contributions to charitable organizations up to 60% of adjusted gross income. There are also changes to “above-the-line” deductions. For instance, on divorces finalized after 2018, alimony payments won’t be deductible for the paying spouse—though they won’t be taxable for the receiving spouse. On the plus side, TCJA almost doubles the standard deduction compared to 2017, to $12,000 for single filers and $24,000 for joint filers through 2025. These deductions will be adjusted for inflation beginning in 2019.

Your tax bracket and rate

The top individual rate tax bracket decreases to 37% for 2018. Like the previous tax system, the TCJA employs seven income tax brackets. But it adjusts the respective tax rates from 10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33%, 35% and 39.6% in 2017 to 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35% and 37% for 2018–2025. After that, the rates will revert to the 2017 levels unless Congress acts to extend the lower rates. The threshold incomes for the seven brackets also have been adjusted. For example, for 2018 the 37% rate will apply when taxable income exceeds $500,000 for single filers and $600,000 for joint filers. For 2017, the highest rate kicked in at $418,400 and $470,700. The new thresholds will be indexed for inflation through 2025.

Your family-based breaks

The TCJA expands the availability of various family tax credits to help mitigate the loss of the personal exemption. For 2017, taxpayers could claim a personal exemption of $4,050 each for themselves, their spouses and dependents, but the TCJA repeals the exemption for 2018–2025. During that period, it boosts the child credit to $2,000 per child under age 17. And it extends the credit to more families by lifting the phaseout thresholds to $400,000 in adjusted gross income for married couples and $200,000 for other filers. For 2018–2025, the TCJA also establishes a temporary $500 nonrefundable credit for qualifying dependents other than children, such as a dependent child age 17 or older. This has been a brief discussion and is not intended as advice. TCJA is new and nearly 500 pages, so it might be prudent to seek the advice of a qualified professional before filing your personal or business taxes.

Michael F. Corrente, JD, LLM

A Managing Director in the Tax Group at CBIZ & MHM New England Contac Info: 401.626.3242 and mcorrente@cbiz.com www.risbj.com | volume seven issue eleven

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SMALL BUSINESS | 9 Back-to-Basics Marketing Moves for 2019

Back-to-Basics Marketing Moves for 2019 by Carolyn Lavin

I often am asked by current and prospective clients about the next hot, go-to tactic for marketing that will deliver magical results. Yes, there are certainly trends in the business world -such as video and content marketing -- but sometimes the best approach for a make-over or refresh is getting back to basics. Yes, January is a time when businesses think anew about setting goals for marketing and the year ahead; itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the perfect time to ring in the new year with an examination of your marketing fundamentals.

1. Assess the marketplace and where you fit. Have

competitors entered your space or is the competition dwindling? Are you finding that your success is based on something new that you should be sure to leverage in your marketing vehicles?

2. Revisit your key selling points. As you assess the

marketplace, step back to pinpoint and define where you stand out. Be specific in identifying three to five key selling points that are integral to your success.

5. Refresh your brand to remain current. Does your logo,

font, tagline or other element of your branding seem tired and old? Consider a modification to look contemporary in 2019, while avoiding the costs and pain of a total rebranding exercise.

6. Enhance your business writing. In todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s world, where

business success is based on relationships, review your web and print writing to be sure it is concise and readerfriendly, informal in tone, free from industry jargon and, of course, lacking any grammar goofs or typos.

7. Update your photography. Whether you capture your

space, your team, your customers or any other part of your company, paying for new photography often will rejuvenate your business look in a flash. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s still true that a picture is worth a thousand words.

8. Improve team communications. One of the biggest

action items from workplace surveys is always improved communication. Let your team know about the changes ahead and the achievements from the past year. Likewise, reach out to clients to ensure their satisfaction.

3. Keep up with company changes. If you company has

9. Get an unbiased perspective: Invite a trusted colleague,

4. Dig for data on your target audiences. Undertake a

Cheers to jump-starting your marketing momentum in the new year.

added employees, expanded its offerings or capabilities or switched gears to a different focus, be sure you have implemented those changes across all marketing vehicles including print and web, social media and other marketing channels. simple analysis of your last 20, 30 or 50 customers/clients and determine from where they came. If you notice a new path to increased business, be sure your marketing tactics include a special reach to that audience.

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prospective customer or marketing-savvy professional to evaluate your marketing materials and ensure you are projecting the emphasis, image and capabilities you strive to present.

Carolyn Lavin is the president of Lavin Marketing Communications. She can be reached at lavinmarketing@cox.net or 401.451.9660.


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Rhode Island

Small Business Health Insurance

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by Diane Fournaris

Are you considering providing small business health insurance? You’re in good company! Did you know that health insurance is still the number one benefit that employees look for when considering taking or remaining at a job? Here are a few things to know or to consider as you make this decision. In this post, we’ll share an overview of trends that make the cost of providing health insurance worthwhile for many employers, outline national and Rhode Island-specific options, and provide links to further resources as you explore the alternatives.

Who is required to offer health insurance?

According to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), employers with more than 50 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees are required to offer health insurance. Employers with 2-50 employees are not required, but are eligible to purchase coverage for their employees through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), which was formed to make it easier for small businesses (who don’t have the mass purchasing power of larger businesses to negotiate lower rates) to purchase affordable insurance.

Why should I consider providing health insurance?

Health insurance is expensive and complicated. There’s simply no getting around that fact. It’s legitimate to wonder why an employer would take on this “burden” if they don’t have to. And yet, many employers truly appreciate their employees and want to be able to provide a comprehensive benefit package that values their contribution. Here are a few ways to reassess the true cost:

Employers with 2-50 employees are not required, but are eligible to purchase coverage for their employees through the Small Business Health Options Program T 14

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1. The alternate cost of retention may be as high--or higher-than providing insurance. The Aflac 2018 Workforces report details the ways strong benefits packages are related to job satisfaction and retention: 34% of employees report that improved benefits would help keep them in a job and 26% say they have left or rejected a job due to benefits. 2. If you don’t provide insurance, your business may not be attracting the best employees in the first place. A recent Fractl employment survey found that 88% of employees would take better health, dental, and vision benefits into “serious” or “some” consideration over a job that paid a higher salary. If your business requires highly skilled or educated personnel for particular roles, not offering health insurance may disqualify you from consideration for many potential employees.

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2. The size of the deductible

3. Employees with fewer than 25 FTE employees may be eligible for a tax credit that pays up to 50% of the amount spent on healthcare premiums for businesses that:

3. The demographics of an employer’s workforce (age) High deductible plans are very popular because they significantly reduce the size of the monthly premium (in exchange for requiring health care users to pay for more services upfront before their insurance fully kicks in), but all services and pharmacy benefits are still negotiated with the carriers. Many employers choose to select a high deductible plan (with lower premiums) and then offer the employee either a lump sum or a matching amount (often $500-1000/year total) into their health savings account (HSA), which can be used to pay for medical costs incurred as part of the deductible (among other things). HSA plans can also provide additional tax savings for both the employer and employee.

4. Purchase health insurance through the SHOP marketplace 5. Do not exceed an average wage threshold

What are my small business health insurance options in RI?

HealthSource RI serves as the insurance exchange for Rhode Island, for both individuals and employers. HealthSource RI for Employers, recognized as one of the best performing small business exchanges in the United States, is where employers should begin when looking to determine which plans and benefits they will be offering to employees in the historically common defined benefit option, where employers provide a certain level of insurance and certain preset plan options for their employees (and then may adjust that benefit or plans offered as costs rise).

Still feeling overwhelmed?

Small business owners should take a deep breath at this point and remember they don’t need to become experts. Finding a trustworthy broker to walk through the process can be a huge help.

Rhode Island also now offers defined contribution health plan options, in which the employer can choose a specific dollar amount to offer employees as a contribution toward employee health insurance premiums, and the employee can choose their own plan from a much larger pool of options. This can:

To begin researching small business health care plans and the associated costs, start by compiling an accurate list of your employees, that includes the date of birth of each employee and any family members they need covered. This information will allow you to get an accurate quote from a carrier for defined benefit plans. For planning purposes, remember that the process will likely take a good month to complete and will need to be completed by the 15th of the month in order for enrollment to begin on the first of the following month.

1. Help keep costs down for employers 2. Allow employees more freedom to choose a plan that suits their own--or their family’s--health insurance needs 3. Free small business owners up to spend more time running a business and less time trying to select plan options to offer that will satisfy all employees

For further reading and information, check out these resources: 1. Small Business Health Care Tax Credit

While all small business employers who choose to offer a defined benefit plan can search for plans directly on the exchange, Ralph Coppola--Meridien Pensionmark senior advisor and member of the HealthSource RI for Employers advisory team who works extensively with small businesses in the state--recommends that since broker commissions are built into the small group market, it’s worth it to reach out to a broker who can contact and negotiate with carriers on your behalf.

2. Defined Contribution Health Plans in Rhode Island 3. What Are My Employer Health Insurance Requirements as a Small Business in 2018? 4. How to calculate full-time equivalent employees 5. HealthSource RI for Employers

One thing to avoid, according to Melissa Travis, the commercial sales manager of the employer arm of HealthSource RI for Employers, are cheap, short-term health plans that satisfy the requirements of the ACA but offer very little to employees in the way of protection or coverage. While some shady brokers will push these plans because they can earn a commission (and their premium prices appeal to employers feeling the squeeze), they tend to cover very few services, and are often not accepted at many RI hospitals. These plans would leave an employee quite exposed in the case of a serious accident or illness.

Providing small business health insurance doesn’t have to be daunting. If you’re considering offering this benefit to hire, retain, and care for your employees, there is plenty of support available to help you take this step. The Rhode Island Small Business Development Center at URI is part of a national network of nearly 1,000 business assistance centers that provide counseling and training to small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. Partially funded through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, we help businesses to succeed from start-up to maturity.

How are my rates determined?

Travis reported the cost of small business health insurance (when choosing a defined benefit plan to offer all employees) can vary widely, currently from around $123 per employee per month, up to $1400 per employee per month--of which the employer pays 50%. These variations are due to: 1. The level of plan selected (bronze, silver, gold, or platinum)

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Photo: Employees of Peregrine Group, which purchased health insurance for their employees through Health Source RI for Employers.

Diane Fournaris

Assistant State Director of RISBDC

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SMALL BUSINESS | Why Do Many Businesses Fear Technology?

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Why Do Many Businesses Fear Technology? | SMALL BUSINESS

Technology has provided company presidents and management teams with tools that allow them to focus on more value added activities, rather than wasting time looking for information to better run their businesses by Larry Girouard

Technology is playing an ever increasing role in our businesses each year. I can remember my first job as a design engineer for the DuPont Company’s engineering department in Newark, Delaware. The prime focus of this department was to design chemical plants that produce materials like Mylar© (polyester films), Kapton© (polyimide films), and other such products. Using today’s computer technology as a reference, we had no such invention back in 1966. Plant designs were created on drawing boards using 3’ x 4’ engineering drawings. Think about the challenge of designing a chemical plant with all its piping, electrical conduit, HVAC ducts, process equipment, and the like, all represented using only two dimensional drawings. In some cases scale models were constructed to provide a three dimensional representation of the evolving plant design. This is how is was done “way back then”. No personal computers; no hand held calculators, no CAD (computer aided design) software tools, were available. We used carbon paper and mimeograph machines to make copies. We referenced the multi-volume “Thomas Register” to access data for business, or the Encyclopedia to look up historical facts. Cell phones were something out of Dick Tracey. Thinking about this now, 1966 seemed to have been the dark ages, yet we got things done. Plants were designed and built, small businesses were running successfully, and at the time, we were on the leading edge of technology. Fast forward now to 2018. The technology available at our fingertips today has greatly facilitated access to massive amounts of information at lightning speed with the click of a button. Today it is almost impossible to separate technology and business. Technology paves the way for innovation, the lifeblood of any business. Business operations and transactions today are totally dependent on technology. Technology has provided a faster, more convenient, and more efficient way of conducting all business transactions. The ability to effectively mine data allows you to look at the health of any aspect of your business in real time through dashboards. Think about it, you would never drive your car without an operating dashboard, yet we drive our businesses without dashboards every single day. From a 1966 perspective, this is all science fiction, yet all this is proven, available now, and easily accessible for any business. Technology has provided company presidents and management teams with tools that allow them to focus on more value added activities, rather than wasting time looking for information to better run their businesses. We now take for granted accounting systems, management information systems (MIS), point of sales systems (POS) and other such tools.

Information Technology (IT) has resulted in businesses living in an information world where instant access to volumes of information. If used properly, IT will simplify communication within a business, and between all its stakeholders. IT also streamlines your decision making abilities by allowing you to analyze various options before hitting the “GO” button. So, with all this technology available to business owners, why do so many fear it? A recent study by Wakefield Research revealed that for 500 companies with less than 100 employees, 64% still feel “overwhelmed” by technology. The primary reason for this apprehension is that most small companies do not have anyone in their organization to turn to for help and advice. Also, there remains a deep concern among 50% of small business owners that, if they invest too quickly in IT, it will have a negative impact because their business would not be able to adapt fast enough, and therefore not worth the risk. The other 50% feel that investment in IT will provide them with a competitive advantage. It is a risk not to invest in technology if you ever expect to be competitive in the future. You might consider the following to help overcome the technology fear: 1. Do your due diligence ... don’t jump into the deep end of the technology pool. Talk with a tech savvy person about your business needs and see what technology is available. Take baby steps in the beginning because the use of IT as a management tool is an acquired taste. 2. Take advantage of free trials ... Most providers will offer free trials with no risk. This “try before you buy” approach will be helpful because you will get some hands on experience before you commit. 3. Rely on bottom line decision making ... determine how the IT software will help your business become more profitable. Use this to calculate your Return on Investment (ROI). Stay away from the “latest greatest” when the “tried and true” will work fine. 4. Use a phased in approach ... instead of investing in everything all at once, consider the phased in approach so you can beta test the software, if possible. New software is usually accompanied by a change in the way you communicate within the company. Technology, if used properly, will significantly reduce the cost of doing business. It will improve both internal and external communications which will, by default, drive both the top and bottom lines of your small business. Today, business survival depends on IT.

Larry Girouard

CEO of the Business Avionix Company, LLC, | A Business Consulting Firm www.risbj.com | volume seven issue eleven

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SMALL BUSINESS | Perfectly Planned Travel And Concierge

Perfectly Planned

Travel And Concierge Are you planning an event or trip next year? Do you dream of letting someone else take care of all of the small details to create memories for a lifetime? Perfectly Planned offers affordable worldwide travel experiences and event planning— ranging from conferences, family reunions, destination weddings, corporate incentive trips and guided tours throughout the United States and the world.

is left unaddressed, from the moment the trip is booked until their return. I ensure they have everything they need before they leave and during their stay. It’s like having a personal assistant at your disposal to make sure you are prepared, but also to make adjustments as needed to make the memories.”

“White glove” customer service, along with the decades of experience in planning major events and group trips sets Perfectly Planned apart from the rest. Hiring a travel concierge means allowing experts to find the best prices and arrange the smallest details to make events or travel experiences unforgettable. Hiring Perfectly Planned means that customers will travel for even less than what may be advertised online and receive better service not only during the planning process, but throughout the experience –without incurring service fees. Perfectly Planned Owner and President Anna Soares has seen it all. With decades of experience in planning major events both locally and internationally, Soares understands that the smallest details can make the biggest impact. With locations in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, Soares has organized domestic and international trips for dozens of people traveling to the same place from different locations to celebrate milestones. Additionally, she plans weddings and conferences from intimate settings to convention centers.

Soares gets to know her clients, learning about their likes and dislikes, dietary requirements and budgetary guidelines and uses that information to figure out the best deals for

“I specialize in doing the research about what makes each destination unique and special so that my clients get the most out of their experiences. People’s interests vary, and my goal is to personize every encounter so that it best fits the client’s desires and needs like a glove,” said Soares, who started her business about one year ago. “I assist in making sure no detail

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that desired destination. Soares said customers are really very open about where they want to travel, and sometimes they are very precise. Soares said she is able to easily work with both kinds of clients and aims to exceed expectations every time, both financially and with the quality of what she delivers. Perfectly Planned also organizes guided tours experiences annually. Soares spent time in the Azores in Portugal before Thanksgiving this year and will be heading to Italy after the holiday to do research for two upcoming trips in 2019. Having travelled to the Azores several times, Soares noted the natural beauty, eco-friendly and unspoiled environment as what makes the destination attractive to tourists. As for Italy, she said the culture, food, history, arts and beauty as great reasons for making that trip.


Perfectly Planned Travel And Concierge | SMALL BUSINESS

Group

travel, memorable events and

an eye for helping the needy. For businesses either planning an on-site or out-of-town conference, Soares said she is able to accommodate groups up to the thousands. Organizing corporate-related events and incentive trips was Soares previous full-time job. In addition to conferences, Perfectly Planned can also orchestrate galas, cocktail parties and other events. “No event is too big or small for us to handle,” she said. “The proof is in the details, which is where we excel and separate ourselves from the pack. As the company expands to accommodate larger groups, Perfectly Planned recently announced Andrea Caesar, MA, as the new Director of Marketing and Sales. She will also be working on social media outreach and branding.” As the holidays approach, Soares is donating a portion of the proceeds through the end of 2018 to help an infant battling Leukemia. According to Soares, “Baby Carter” learned of the diagnosis on Halloween 2016 and has spent more of his time in the hospital. He is currently undergoing chemotherapy and in need of a bone marrow transplant. He was transferred to Boston’s Children’s Hospital from Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence on October 5, 2018.

“The baby has to remain quarantined for at least six months,” said Soares. “Baby Carter’s parents, Stephanie and Michael Wheeler, made the decision to stop working to be with their child. Had they continued to work, they would not have been able to see their baby while he is quarantine. Due to the loss of income, a GoFundMe was set up at: https://www.gofundme.com/ khvrg-baby-carter?rcid=r01-1541089%E2%80%A6. The goal is to raise at least $5,000 to cover costs and expenses during this time. Soares added, “Perfectly Planned provides platinum-level service, which includes more than just a confirmation number. We are more than just your typical ‘travel agency’. Our business centers on the concept of a travel concierge that will enhance their client experience by providing excellent service beyond expectations. At Perfectly Planned, we take pride in designing extraordinary vacations and events, as seamlessly as possible.” The holidays and planning vacations are coming soon. With numerous destination options available for individuals, couples, families and groups, it can be daunting to decide what options works with a given budget and timeframe. Soares said to give her a call for a free, no-obligation consultation. Perfectly Planned also specializes in Corporate Incentive Travel, Guided Vacations, Group Travel, Destination Weddings, Honeymoons, Luxury Travel, European Travel, Ocean & River Cruises and more. For more information about planning the next trip or conference or more details regarding the fundraiser, please call Anna Soares at 401-489-1261 or e-mail her at anna@perfectlyplanned.com. Additional details may be found by visiting their website at www.perfectlyplannned.com.

www.risbj.com | volume seven issue eleven

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SMALL BUSINESS | Local Homeless Advocate Ilanna Ball Sponsors Second Annual Christmas Eve Diner

Local Homeless Advocate

2nd Annual Chris When Ilanna Ball wanted to help those in need, she decided to aid those without a home and those without enough food to eat. These factors can make for tough times, especially when children are involved. Ball’s companies, Total Asset Solutions and Finest Real Estate and Property Management are sponsoring the Second annual Christmas Eve Dinner for the Homeless to assist homeless and “working poor” families because Ball said she also wants them to enjoy the holiday season. This free event happens on Monday, December 24, at The Woonsocket Boys and Girls Club, 72 Kendrick Ave., from 5:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. Attendees will receive a hot meal, presents and family photos with Santa as well as other exciting activities. Ball said the event drew almost 150 guests at the same facility last year. She said the line began forming roughly an hour before they opened the doors and there were many happy and relieved guests who attended. After the event, Ball said she along with several volunteers drove the remaining food to a Providence homeless shelter. “Hunger and homelessness don’t take holidays off,” she said. “I was raised to help others, and this is my passion and cause— helping those in need. My husband (Charles Coulbourn) and I travel around the state delivering hot meals to people who need it most, whether they are living in their cars, a shelter or elsewhere. “I feel fortunate to be in the position that I am in, and want to pay it forward,” Ball added. Ball stressed that the Christmas Eve Dinner is not limited to

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just the homeless. She said many families routinely make tough choices paying bills or eating; paying their rent, etc. These are luxuries some people take for granted. Ball said several people attended the event last year who would have otherwise spent the holidays alone. “Not everyone is fortunate to live near friends and family. Nobody should be left out or be alone for the holidays,” Ball said. The event last year featured donated items ranging from toys and clothes such as winter jackets and gloves for the kids, clothing and toiletries for the adults, meals donated by River Falls Restaurant, as well as other contributions given by other local companies and individuals. Former Cumberland Mayor and current Lt. Gov. Daniel McKee, his wife, Susan, and members of his staff also stopped by to meet with some of the attendees and make a donation to Ball’s cause. Ball said the outpouring of support from the community helped to make the event successful. She added her goal this year of reaching more people. Ball said she is also focusing extra resources in order to ensure that there are gifts appropriate for teenagers—sadly that age group often gets missed. “That is such a tough age, adding homelessness and poverty can make it even harder,” she said. “We are going to make sure every teen who attends leaves with a smile.” Ball encourages anyone who is considering attending the event or would like to contribute items to do so. There is plenty to be gained by participating in something that makes others feel special and wanted during the holiday season, she said.


Local Homeless Advocate Ilanna Ball Sponsors Second Annual Christmas Eve Diner | SMALL BUSINESS

Ilanna Ball Sponsors

stmas Eve Diner “We aren’t asking any questions or looking for documentation to prove people are in need,” she continued. “We just want people to come down—regardless of their situation—have a good meal and be with some wonderful company.” Based in North Smithfield, Finest Real Estate and Property Management is a premier real estate brokerage located in Northern Rhode Island. The company provides real estate services for all homebuyers and sellers, including first-time homebuyers and investors.

Hunger and homelessness don’t take holidays off. I was raised to help others, and this is my passion and cause—helping those in need.

Also based in North Smithfield, Total Asset Solutions is a fully licensed, insured and bonded company that serves Rhode Island and Massachusetts. They can act as a General Contractor for large projects such as a 203K rehab or simply come over to complete a “honey-do” list. They also offer full-service property management, landscaping and plowing services. The Christmas Eve Dinner is open to anyone interested in attending. Donations and volunteers are needed to help make this event a success. Donations are currently being collected for this event. Although they are appreciated, donations are not required, Ball said. Please contact Ilanna Ball at 401-419-7116 or by email at wecanfixitall4u@gmail.com for more details.

www.risbj.com | volume seven issue eleven

21


LEGAL | Personnel Practices: Employees’ Right To Privacy

Personnel Practices EMPLOYEES’

RIGHT

by Kristen M. Whittle, Esq. and Alexandra Rotondo, Esq.

In the interests of improving workplace safety and security, maintaining productivity, and protecting confidential information, employers are generally permitted to monitor and regulate employees’ electronic activities so long as it does not become excessive or unjustified. Recently, privacy issues for employers and employees have grown as new technology creates additional ways in which employers can store, access, and share their employees’ information. Because this enhanced ability to monitor employees’ electronic activities increases the risk of invasion of privacy claims, employers must be aware of their employees’ privacy rights and clearly communicate the degree of privacy that should be expected in the workplace.

Electronic Communications

It is well-established that when employees use property owned by their employers to communicate electronically, such as company-owned networks or personal electronic

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TO

P R I VAC Y

devices, they should have no expectation of privacy in those communications. For instance, any email an employee sends or receives through a company email account is the property of the employer and therefore can be accessed or read by the company without notice. In fact, even if employees store emails in password-protected, personal folders, there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in the contents of email messages transmitted over the company’s network or intranet system. However, in the context of labor disputes, the federal National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has consistently prohibited employers from taking adverse employment action against employees for engaging in “concerted activity,” which includes an employee discussing workplace conditions, pay, activities, or problems with another employee. For example, the NLRB has held that an employee using the company’s email system to discuss and criticize the company’s personnel policy with coworkers was protected by federal labor law.


Personnel Practices: Employees’ Right To Privacy | LEGAL

Social Media Use

Rhode Island law prohibits employers from asking or requiring employees to share their login information for their personal social media accounts or allow access to their social media accounts. However, employers may monitor any information that employees publicly share on social media, and, in some instances, may use such information in making employmentrelated decisions. In a recent case, the Rhode Island Supreme Court held that it was unlawful for an employer to have denied a former employee’s unemployment benefits because he had posted complaints about his boss on Facebook. While the decision was based on a statute relating to unemployment benefits, and not whether the employee was justifiably terminated, the Court suggested that employers may consider the following factors when determining whether a social media post constitutes workplace misconduct: whether the employee has “blocked” access to his/her social media account; whether a post was directly accessible to any other employee, associate, or customer; whether the employee authored the post from an electronic device belonging to the employer; whether the post violates the employer’s social media policy; and whether the content of the post relates to the employee’s job performance.

With RISBJ

However, employers must be careful not to interfere with employees’ rights under federal law to engage in “concerted activities,” such as discussing the terms and conditions of employment on social media. Therefore, to the extent an employment complaint posted by an employee on social media is considered “concerted activity” (rather than an individual grievance), it will be protected under federal labor law.

Workplace Privacy Policies

Privacy rights in the private-sector workplace are primarily determined through an evaluation of whether an employee’s expectation of privacy is reasonable under the circumstances. As workplace policies often affect an employee’s expectation of privacy, they can be an important factor when evaluating the merits of a privacy violation claim. Accordingly, employers should ensure that they have written policies in place that provide notice and transparency to employees about what privacy rights do and do not exist in the workplace. Specifically, workplace technology policies should expressly preserve the employer’s right to search, monitor, and intercept any information created or shared on employer-owned networks or devices. Further, employers should maintain a social media policy that clearly articulates which employee behaviors concerning social media use are not permitted. However, employers should ensure that their policies regarding social media posts and other online activity do not limit employees’ ability to discuss working conditions. Accordingly, carefully drafted privacy policies regarding electronic communications can reduce the risk of invasion of privacy claims brought by employees against their employers.

Kristen M. Whittle, Esq. Partner, Barton Gilman LLP

Alexandra Rotondo, Esq. Associate, Barton Gilman LLP

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WWW.RISBJ.COM www.risbj.com | volume seven issue eleven

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SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION

From the Directorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Desk

Mark S. Hayward

District Director U.S. Small Business Administration A 504 loan provides small businesses access to the same type of long-term, fixed-rate financing enjoyed by larger firms.

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Small businesses considering expansion whether by purchasing/ renovating commercial real estate or purchasing equipment should ask their bank or credit union lending professional about the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) 504 Loan Program. A 504 loan provides small businesses access to the same type of long-term, fixed-rate financing enjoyed by larger firms. These projects can be funded up to $12.5 Million and can mature at either 10, 20, or 25 years! Most Rhode Island businesses would be eligible for this loan program. The SBA defines a business as â&#x20AC;&#x153;smallâ&#x20AC;? if its net worth is under $15 million and net profits after taxes are under $5 million. Any type of legitimate small business is eligible for 504 lending, including manufacturing, wholesale, service or retail operations. Financing from a 504 loan may be used to purchase fixed assets such as: land and improvements, owneroccupied buildings, grading, street improvements, utilities, parking lots and landscaping; construction of new facilities, modernization or renovation existing facilities. Funds from a 504 loan can even be used to purchase machinery and equipment with a useful life of at least 10 years. Typical soft costs such as architectural or legal fees, environmental studies, appraisals, interest and fees on the interim/construction financing

can also be rolled into the 504 loan package. Any additional financing for other needs such as working capital, inventory, debt consolidation or refinancing are usually eligible through a separate SBA 7(a) Loan Guaranty Program. A 504 project is usually structured with fifty percent of the project costs provided through a private-sector lender. This senior loan is usually for a 10-year term at a fixed or variable rate, depending on the relationship with the lender. Forty percent of the project costs are financed with a fixedrate debenture secured with a junior lien from a SBA Certified Development Company (CDC). The debenture is backed by a 100 percent SBA-guaranty. And the final 10 percent of the project cost is provided by the small business. The low 10 percent down payment is the big attraction of this program. It is possible for small businesses to receive further support from their city, town or state through businesses incentives or even providing a small piece of the financing in a subordinate position. With a lower down payment and the ability to finance the soft costs, the small business often realizes upfront cash savings of approximately $100,000 on a $1 million project. As previously stated, maturities of 10, 20 or even 25 years are available. The rate on the 504 loan is fixed for the life of the loan and is set when the CDC sells the bond to fund the loan. Hayward was appointed Rhode Island District Director of the U.S. Small Business Administration in March of 2000. Since that time he has served, on several occasions, as acting New England Regional Administrator as well as being appointed Senior Advisor to the 25th Administrator of the SBA, Linda McMahon.


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www.risbj.com | volume seven issue eleven

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SMALL BUSINESS | Monthly Learning Tips For Small Business Owners

MONTHLY LEARNING TIPS FOR RHODE ISLAND SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS:

Be Yourself -

It is Good fo of turning around her life. She began with a volunteer position at a women’s shelter and then volunteered with other groups. She started sharing her story. She took on leadership roles and launched her own initiatives. She enrolled in college at Salve Regina University where she rose to graduate as the class Valedictorian with a degree in Administration of Justice. Upon graduation, she then worked in courtrooms as a victim witness advocate and was subsequently promoted to Press Assistant and then Executive Assistant for the District Attorney.

by Ronald G. Shapiro, PhD1

This month’s learning tips come from Ashley Bendiksen, a professional speaker and consultant who specializes in abuse prevention and personal leadership development. She is a resident of Newport, RI, a place she loves and credits for playing a large role in determining her life’s path. Ashley offers programs locally, nationally and internationally on improving business environments by building a workplace free from sexual harassment, helping employees experiencing abusive relationships at home which interfere with job performance, and cultivating an appropriate organizational culture. Ashley also offers programs for schools, youth groups and other civic organizations on abuse prevention, educating teens and pre-teens on healthy dating and personal leadership. At age 14, Ashley was the victim of sexual assault. This led to a challenging adolescence, more abuse, and an abusive relationship in college that caused her to drop out and set aside her career goals and aspirations. Ashley was able to break free from the abusive relationship with the help of the court system. This was when she decided to take charge

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Today, Ashley advances her mission full time. In 2016, she opened her private practice to serve the world. In addition, she has a passion for service and volunteerism as an activist, advocate for women, nonprofit founder and social entrepreneur. Ashley is skilled in public relations, marketing and community outreach. She is a down-to-earth person with big dreams and ambitions. She was self-taught every step along the way from where she was to where she is today. Ashley offers several recommendations for both building a successful business and for developing a safe and effective organizational climate based upon her experiences as a victim and a professional in the field. Recommendations for building a successful business: • Have a “people first” mentality. Show the people whom you serve that you understand them, their concerns, and that you have a solution that will resolve these concerns. Show that your mission aligns with their goals. • Have a community presence. Get involved. Attend events. Support a local charity by volunteering or donating to it. Not only will you build name recognition, but you will build trust and likeability to attract more opportunities. • Be as authentic as possible. Be yourself. Don’t get trapped into thinking about what you should be like. Incorporate real stories about yourself, your clients and your team in your marketing. Be an independent thinker, trust your heart, and the results will follow.


for Business!!! Recommendations for Organizational Climate: • Be aware and educated. Know how abuse and powerbased harms towards an employee, whether at home or directly by a colleague, can impact your workplace and company. Ensure that employees are trained to recognize warning signs and offer support. • Have thorough policies in place. Don’t wait until an incident occurs. Consider things like reporting protocols, designating confidential persons to handle these matters, outlining sanctions, and importantly, allowing for time off. In many states, there are laws that mandate leave time for victims of domestic violence. • Strengthen the environment, employee by employee. The strongest approach to reducing harm is getting employees on the same page. Train them on bystander intervention skills, toxic behaviors, and how this leads to harm. Collectively, this will shift culture and cultivate a more supportive environment.Show students how you develop the products or process that you make. Ashley would be delighted to address and consult with your business, school or community organization. She is personable, energetic and passionate about meeting and connecting with people. Please check out her website at www.AshleyBendiksen.com, email her at speaker@ ashleybendiksen.com, look her up on your favorite social media, or call (508) 525-9972. I I would like to thank Industrial Consultant Dr. Margarita Posada Cossuto for helpful comments. 1

Dr. Ronald G. Shapiro

Independent Consultant in Human Factors, Learning and Human Resources

www.risbj.com | volume seven issue eleven

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RISBJ V7 No11  

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