Free webinar! How to build a cost-effective, employee-focused return-to-work plan

If a workplace injury happens, you want to limit the impact of the accident for your employee and your bottom line. An effective Return-to-Work Program can help you achieve both these goals, saving you thousands of dollars while ensuring your employees are healthy, safe and productive even after an injury has occurred.

CFIB has developed a comprehensive Return-to-Work Program to help you reduce the cost of an injury on your employees and your business, which we will share for free in this free 30 minute webinar.

What you will learn in this webinar:

  • Proactively protect your business – How being prepared for a workplace injury can save you a lot more than workers compensation premiums.
  • Return-to-Work Plan – How to set one up at your workplace and we review the elements it should contain.
  • Employee Care Package – What documents are needed to communicate with your employee and their health care providers after a workplace injury?
  • Modified Work Offer – How to use our templates to create and customize a modified work offer for an injured employee.

This webinar is 30 minutes in duration, plus 15 minutes Q&A. Registration is free but capacity is limited. Please sign up via the links below:


How to build a cost-effective, employee-focused return-to-work plan
January 24, 2016 at 1pm EST

Registration URL: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/420118274565976835


How to build a cost-effective, employee-focused return-to-work plan
January 26, 2016 at 1pm EST
Registration URL: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/9107890709740449027


Canadian Small Business Public Holiday Checklist

With the festive season fast approaching, keep in mind there are specific days legislated for your employees to take as days off. It’s especially important to know your obligations this year with Christmas Day and New Year’s both falling on Sundays.

Here’s a handy Public Holiday Checklist to make sure you stay compliant this holiday season:

1. Do you have employees?

☐ Yes – proceed to question two
☐ No – no further action required

2. Do you normally open on your business on any of the following days?

☐ Christmas
☐ Boxing Day
☐ New Year’s
☐ No

Continue reading to understand obligations of Public Holiday Pay

3. Are you provincially or federally regulated?

Follow the links below to understand which holidays are observed by your province and how you should compensate your employees according to the Employment Standards Act (ESA).

Information has been provided by CFIB Business Counsellors and/or a government site.

Federally Regulated Rules
British Columbia
Alberta
Saskatchewan
Manitoba
Ontario
Quebec
Nova Scotia
New Brunswick
Prince Edward Island
Newfoundland and Labrador
Yukon
Northwest Territories

4. Contact your municipality or town regarding following:

☐ Can your business type/industry operate during holiday?

5. Are you clear on public holiday rules you should follow?

☐ Yes – keep record of:
☐ Public holiday taken by employees
☐ Rate of pay for day (according to information from ESA)
☐ If a day in lieu was provided (according to information from ESA)
☐ Do you have a written agreement with employees (according to information from ESA)

☐ No – Contact your Business Resources Regional Office at 1-888-234-2232 or email cfib@cfib.ca

☐ Also, contact your local employment standards office and check with city/town bylaws

CFIB has a partnership with Payworks. Payworks is an organization dedicated to providing you with payroll solutions. To learn more, visit Payworks to see how they can help you.

Caution: Not understanding these rules can lead to a potential violation of employment standards, potential audit/inspection and disgruntled employees.

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CesarCesar Gomez-Garcia has been with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business for six years. His current role at the CFIB is helping members with their questions on compliance. These questions can range from employment standards to health and safety, as well as complicated red tape situations that small businesses face. His passion is reading and writing about entrepreneurship. Learn more about Cesar via LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter @josuegomezg.


Small Biz Bravo

Is there anything more endearing, more disarming, more bonding, or more dog-gone Canadian than the phrase “thank you”?

We certainly don’t think so.

Enter the scene, Small Biz Bravo! Bravo is a warm, huggable teddy bear, created by CFIB member Warm Buddy, but whose constitution is forged in the fires of oppressive red tape, whose character was shaped by perseverance, and whose symbolism is a testament to victory. Bravo isn’t just a thank you to Canada’s red tape warriors, Bravo IS one.

By nature, the regulations and paperwork that weigh-down a business owner’s ability to operate are not headline grabbing issues. You will never see James Bond zip-line into a library full of cumbersome legislation and torch it, nor will you see Mel Gibson starring as renegade Scotsman who leads an army of kilted peasants against the tyranny of red tape’s rule. But “death by a thousand paper cuts” is very real and as threatening to small business as any movie villain.

Small Business Bravo is a fun, albeit serious, ‘thank you’ that CFIB will be giving out to those across Canada who have gone above and beyond to cut red tape on behalf of small business. On December 5th, Bravo made his its appearance, in thanks, to the Mayor of Colwood, Carol Hamilton. Mayor Hamilton created a permanent business license where small business owners in Colwood only have to register once, eliminating the need to renew each year. This may seem like a small change to the layperson, but to a business owner who faces payroll remittances, GST and PST remittances, WCB code updates, bylaw changes, and reams of red tape, this can alleviate pages of paperwork, hours of time, blood-pressure units of stress, and of course, dollars of money. Bravo Mayor Hamilton!

Has anyone you know gone out of their way to cut #RedTape for #SmallBiz? Let us know! Visit www.smallbizbravo.ca to nominate a deserving #RedTapeWarrior, or tweet us @SmallBizBravo and follow Small Biz Bravo on Instagram to see where Bravo is headed next!


Corporate holiday party planning: How our small business saved money while reducing employee stress

In a recent blog post, I talked about how poorly planned holiday gifting became an infamous learning experience for a small business. Fortunately (no, that’s a typo), it was not the only mistake made that year. This next mistake, however, spawned a new and much loved tradition for the company.

So what happened exactly? The year before I arrived at this organization was a bit of a mess in terms of holiday planning. And a major item that was overlooked happened to be planning the employee and client holiday parties. No one really knew who was responsible for planning the parties and who would book them. Already overwhelmed with end-of-year projects, no one brought it up in company meetings because they were afraid that they would then be volun-told to take the lead. When the controller finally came forward with the budget for the two events (this was in December), the president then realized she had overlooked them entirely.

It was all hands on deck as panicked employees tried and failed multiple times to book a venue and services within the budget and a two-week time frame. Salespeople and other key employees were fearful that the holiday parties would overlap with previously booked vacations or their family commitments. Nothing seemed to be working out and performance in other areas rapidly plummeted as a result of the pressure and failed attempts to book venues, entertainment and catering. This is when the president came up with a brilliant idea: forget the holiday party.

Instead, she decided that the company would bring in the New Year with a bang. January bookings were made at top venues for a lot less than what it would have cost in December. A wider talent pool opened up for entertainment and catering companies were able to accommodate us for a lot less.

Aside from the cost savings, employees were thrilled. They did not have to worry about the corporate party taking precedence over a friend or family member’s gathering, or stress about whether or not their spouse’s corporate party would be booked on the same evening.  A January party also served to start the year with on a celebratory and collaborative note.

The client party had a record turnout of attendees and overwhelmingly positive feedback. The timing of the event was much appreciated and the fact that the party was not a “Christmas” party masquerading as a non-denominational holiday party served to make many of our diverse range of clients and prospects feel much more comfortable and celebratory.

Of course it goes without saying that this was the first of many New Year parties held in this organization.


Smart gifting ideas that can benefit your business!

The holiday season is a great time of the year for business owners to express their appreciation for their employees, their customers, and even their vendors / suppliers.  Holiday gift-giving doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive — in fact, with a little creativity and planning, small business owners can give thoughtful gifts, which can help cultivate stronger business relationships and can also be financially beneficial!  Here are a couple ideas that won’t have you breaking the bank and can benefit your company during tax season:

● Offer a deal

A successful holiday sales season depends on early planning and consistent marketing, especially if you’re a small business competing against retail giants. The holiday season is a great time to offer an exclusive deal to your customers and clients who have supported you throughout the year. You can easily create and customize coupons on your Shop Small Biz Listing. Don’t forget to use social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to promote your deal.

● Gift-giving

When giving gifts to clients, suppliers, or vendors, remember that you can deduct all reasonable business expenses from your business income on your tax return. According to the CRA, if you give a client a gift certificate to a restaurant or a pair of tickets to a hockey game, those gifts are considered to be “meals and entertainment expenses”; as a result, you may write-off half of their value.

In addition to giving gifts to clients, you may occasionally want to give gifts to your employees. The CRA allows business owners to give gifts to employees as long as it is a special occasion, such as a holiday or a birthday, and it also allows business owners to give awards to employees (these can also be deducted as business expense). For more information, please visit “Rules for gifts and awards” from CRA website.

● Charitable donations

Driving out to the store, wandering the aisles for just the right gift, driving back home, forgetting the wrapping paper, driving back to the store, finding other things you might like to buy for yourself… it all adds up to a lot of time and money spent!   So, in lieu of a gift, some business owners choose to make a charitable donation in a person’s name.  This is a great option that allows you to give someone a gift, and also goes towards helping a worthy cause — there is a charity for pretty much everything.  As a business owner, a charitable donation will allow you to claim a tax credit when you file your income tax return. Because this falls under charitable donations rather than gift-giving, the full amount of the donation is tax-deductible, up to 75 per cent of your net income (see here for more information).

● Go for dinner

Nothing says ‘thank you’ like a meal. Why not take your employees and/or clients out for dinner? It’s a great way to spend some time in a more casual atmosphere and gives you an opportunity to get to know the people you work with outside of the working environment. It can help foster relationships, and can even be claimed as a business expense – a happy end of the year for everybody!


How to send holiday e-cards while respecting the Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL)

Many businesses hesitate to take advantage of holiday e-cards because they are scared of CASL. If you are in this camp, this article aims at reassuring you.

The notion of consent is inevitable under law, while still offering a lot of flexibility.

1. A non-commercial e-card for everyone

CASL only covers electronic messages that have a commercial aspect. If your holiday card is limited to thanking your contacts, while offering best wishes for the season, and without any promotions, publicity or commercial messages, it won’t be subject to the law. You could then rest assured when sending them to your contacts.

2. Promotions for your customers, partners and suppliers

The law considers that any person doing business with you has provided you an implied consent permitting you to send commercial information to them. You then have the right to send your holiday cards, with the possibility of eventually containing promotions, coupons or other solicitations to your business relations and customers who have done business with you in the last 24 months. Obviously, if any of them have indicated you that they do not wish to receive such emails, you must respect their wishes and exclude them from your mailings.

3. If you have some express consents

It is possible that some people do not fit in the previously mentioned categories and have provided you their consent for receiving commercial messages. If it’s the case, take advantage of the holiday season to provide them with the gift of a rebate coupon inserted directly into your holiday e-cards. It’s the perfect time to please your subscribers during this giving period and provide first-time buyers the opportunity to do business with you.

It’s the perfect time to obtain express consents. If you use Cyberimpact, for example, you can easily insert in your holiday e-cards, and promotional emails, an automated consent request bloc that will only be visible to contacts without an express consent on file. It’s a perfect and easy way of augmenting the quantity of express consents you have on file without bothering those who have already provided it to you.

If you are a CFIB member, send your virtual holiday cards for free with Cyberimpact. You will find different styles of cards waiting to be personalized, coupons to be inserted, an automated consent module and even detailed statistics letting you know who has opened your e-cards and who has not.

Want more holiday e-marketing tips? Read 10 tips to take advantage of email marketing during the Holiday season

***
cfib_jf-lalondeA sports enthusiast since early childhood, Jean-Francis was a provincial tennis champion in 1991 before heading to Lynn University in Florida to study marketing. He returned to Quebec in 1995 to study urban planning at UQAM where he was the first to use a website to present his final Bachelor’s degree project.

In 1997, he launched Cyber Generation, a web agency that relies on innovation to meet the diversified needs of its customers. Its versatility meet the needs of small local businesses, large Canadian and American companies, as well as sport and media celebrities such as Serena Williams, Louis-Josée Houde and Georges St-Pierre.

In 1999, Cyber Generation acquired Complice Interactif, a similar web company started by Stephan Lestage.

Jean-Francis is in charge of sales and strategic partnerships, a responsibility that maximises his talents as a negotiator and his sensibility to the needs of others.


Creative corporate gift giving at your small business: It’s not just what you give but to whom

As mentioned in my last article, Do not make this mistake when choosing your corporate gifts, fresh out of university, I landed my first job as a marketing assistant at a high-end sales organization. Our client profile was very specific – CEOs, partners and key decision makers all with unique business needs that our company could fill. Or, sadly, any one of our competitors could fill.

After speaking extensively to our sales team, I learned that they felt confident in making the sale if they could make it past the gate keeper. Unfortunately, the gatekeepers had highly honed skills in repelling cold calls and visits.

Armed with the knowledge that gatekeepers were a major barrier (translation: thorn-in-the-side) of our sales people, I was determined to look for an opportunity to address this problem, despite the fact that my junior status and short time with company did not allow for me to have much say in the direction of our marketing strategy.

My opportunity did come, just a couple of months later. I was tasked with finding unique and creative holiday gifts for our clients and would-be clients, and then presenting a few options to my manager and her manager. Not an insurmountable task, especially considering that several staff members jokingly told me that it really didn’t matter what items I picked, they would be a major improvement over the previous year’s fiasco (read more about that here).

After doing my research, I nervously presented options for gifts and also recipients. It went something along the lines of, “For the last decade we’ve spent X amount of dollars on card and gift buying for potential clients each and every holiday season. I would like to suggest taking a different tact this year. I’m convinced that it will not only cost us less money but also help us gain better access to our recipient list…” Yes, I did practice my presentation in the mirror the night before, if you’re wondering.

Of course I suggested that we purchase holiday gifts for the gatekeepers as opposed to our clients. I appealed for my boss to imagine how much good will it would generate among gatekeepers, who are handing off our competitor’s expensive gifts that their bosses likely care little for, when suddenly there is a gift, accompanied with a hand written note, just for them! I presented gift options, all of which were items that could be kept on a desk year round, and looked at when our sales people requested an appointment. I followed with the suggestion that, if we were determined to give gifts to the decision makers, why not wait until after the holiday season? Why offer one gift basket in a sea of gift baskets when you could be the only company to send golf balls and tees when the grass is green?

My bosses were hesitant at first. After all, gifting is expected during the holiday…isn’t it?

In the end they decided to give it a try. And guess what? We actually had a few gate keepers calling us! We received thank you’s from receptionists, executive assistants and office managers. We followed up with those who didn’t contact us to ensure that they received their gifts and wish them a happy holiday.  Our salespeople then followed up. The outcome was staggering. We had a huge increase in appointments throughout the next year, allowing our sales people to do what they do best – sell!

The moral of the story is, it’s not just what you give but to whom you give. And sometimes a little creative thinking can go a long way in accomplishing your goals.

Next week, I will talk about how a mistake with our holiday party planning led to reducing employee stress while saving our small business money. This advice is easily transferable to virtually any entrepreneur planning to throw a holiday party or two so please tune in!

Happy holidays!


End of Year Advice for the Small Business in Canada

It’s that time of year again. With the holiday rush quickly approaching, don’t forget to take time for yourself, acknowledge how your year went and how you can get off to a great start for the new year. You could be looking to set a higher sales goal, launch a new product or trade with other provinces or country. Or maybe, you’re looking to expand your business and hire a new employee.

If that’s the case, I want to take a quick moment to provide you some  advice based on the three main recurring calls I received this year as a business counselor,  calls from small business owners just like you.

1. Employment Standards

Each province has a Ministry of Labour that enforces their own Employment Standards Act. The minute you hire an individual to work for you, you must be familiar with your provincial obligations to your employees. Some provincial information includes templates, guides and information – make sure you try to take advantage of that information. Understanding your employee entitlements allows you to prepare accordingly for break time, overtime, and public holidays.

Recommendation: Documentation and record keeping is crucial to operating your business. Records on things like vacation time/pay or who has clocked in or out from a meal break, or taken a sick day. Furthermore, it is crucial to provide each of your employees with wage statement that outlines government deductions, overtime pay, public holiday pay, vacation pay or termination pay etc. If you ever have to face inspection, having this information at your fingertips can help.

Steps to take:

If you are a member of the CFIB, contact your regional business counsellor.

2. Workers Compensation

If you are a new business owner and have at least one employee, consider calling your regional business counselor or your regional workers compensation board. Workers compensation is a no-fault compensation that allows for employees to receive wages, benefits and medical assistance while they are recovering from a work-related incident. Workers compensation in Canada also prohibits the right to the employee to sue their employer for work-related accident.  As a small business owner you may not be familiar with your obligations or where to even start, allowing this item to fall to the bottom your to-do list.

Recommendation: Do not delay. Take all necessary time to investigate and determine if you are required in registering your business with workers compensation. Ignoring or leaving this for another day will not work to your favor. Remember that workers compensation conduct random inspections and if you are not registered, you can face retroactive premiums, fines or penalties that cannot be avoided in some cases. This is significantly important when you have hired a sub-contractor. If you do not have clearance certificates or proper documentation that support they are their own entity, you may also be liable for your contractor’s premiums.

Steps to take:

If you are a member of the CFIB, contact your regional business counsellor.

3. Internal Employment Policies and Procedures

As a small business owner, you may feel that since you only have fewer than 10 employees you do not need an employee handbook. You’re right, you may not need an entire policy handbook; however, I recommend you take time to establish some documentation at your place of business. Even if you are working with family, friends or “casual employees,” ensure that you are following the necessary steps to protect your business.

Recommendation: Take the right amount of time to thoroughly asses your business and the areas you feel you need to have a policy in place. It is difficult to discipline an employee’s actions, especially where there is no documentation of what is expected of your employees. Check with your local business counselor to receive guidance; and if necessary, seeking legal advice from a labour lawyer can help as well. Each employee should have a copy of an employment contract or job description, as well as knowledge and copies of your policies regarding the scheduling time off, code of conduct, social media policies etc.

If you are a member of the CFIB, contact your regional business counsellor.

We  want your business to succeed. Take the necessary time to identify any possible risks that are involved in your business. This is a great way to eliminate any undesirable attention and ensure you can reach even greater heights.

I have been a business counsellor for over four years, and have  spoken to more than 10,000 members. I understand it is never a dull moment running your business. Let’s ensure that together we keep you compliant so that you can continue to realize your entrepreneurial dreams!

Consider signing up for membership through the My StartUp program. If you have been in business for less than two years, you qualify for six months free membership, details at www.mystartup.ca.

***

CesarCesar Gomez-Garcia has been with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business for six years. His current role at the CFIB is helping members with their questions on compliance. These questions can range from employment standards to health and safety, as well as complicated red tape situations that small businesses face. His passion is reading and writing about entrepreneurship. Learn more about Cesar via LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter @josuegomezg.


10 tips to take advantage of email marketing during the Holiday season

logo-ci-v-rgbNovember his come to an end, and as a small business owner, you might fear that you will soon be too late to send out your Holiday campaign… With the help of this little guide, here’s a way to achieve your goals and send great holiday e-cards to generate greater opportunities for your organisation!

A lot of small business owners ask “Are holidays a great time to send emails?” It’s actually one of the best seasons to do so. Your contacts will feel important and it could even be an excellent opportunity to increase your sales. So keep reading, these tips will surely inspire you!

1. Holiday e-coupons

The Holiday seasons are about gifts, so adding a promotional coupon to your electronic holiday cards can be very effective . Pre-Christmas sales and Boxing Day specials, such has a 2 for 1 or a free item or free shipping or even 15% off, could be added as an “exclusive offer” to your e-subscribers. Keep thinking that there are a lot of ways to make your coupons perceived as a special gift that can make your customers happy and bring more business to you.

2. Suggest your gift card or certificates

Your customers are searching for gifts that they will give to their families and friends. It’s time to suggest them your gift cards as a good alternative. You could offer a special discount on the purchase of your gift cards or even a free card for those buying a certain quantity. If you don’t have gift cards, you could sell gift certificates to increase your sales during and after the holiday season.

3. Thanks! Simply say it to your readers

What a great idea to use the holiday to humanize your relationship with your customers by saying a big fat “Thank You!” Take opportunity of that period of the year to enhance your customer relationship.

4. Announce a Super Saturday on the 24th!

This year, the calendar is favourable and the 24th will occur on a Saturday. Why not use that day to throw a Super Saturday with extended hours in the morning. Early birds could get exclusive offers like free coffee and 10% off for every sale. All that before 9 am. What a great way to serve more clients this busy day.

new-picture5. Create a holiday video with your staff

Take your iPad or your smartphone and get creative by recording a video. People will love the efforts you’ve thrown into that original piece. Maybe wearing that little elves shirt will be your opportunity to get that wanted role in your local talent show. Send a link to access that little piece of art thru your emails.

If you have not yet received an elves shirt as a gift, you can buy this marvellous one at http://www.tipsyelves.com/mens-ugly-christmas-sweaters

6. Make 2017 a great and happy year

If gifts and Christmas rebates are not relevant for your kind of business, use the opportunity to send out your best wishes for the upcoming year. Sharing a story about 2016 or your dream for 2017 can help your customers discover and understand better your business.

7. Make an advent calendar!

Start on the 1st of December and send daily emails with different content. Use them to set the sense of urgency to buy your products with a countdown based on your Shipping deadlines, limited discounts or an affordable or inspiring pre-sale item. The Free Shipping email is not the only way to make your patron act faster.

8. We miss you! Turn the situation to your advantage

Passive subscribers are tough to reactivate, but at the same time they are a sleeping Gold mine. Why not use the opportunity of the Holiday season to reconnect with them through a specific email with a special offer to re-engage them with your business?

9. Start your email marketing or move it up to the next level with Holiday cards

Cyberimpact offers you many professional designed templates to support any kind and any style of emails or virtual card you want to send. So activate your free account to send easily and freely your Holiday cards and discover how email marketing with Cyberimpact is easy and very effective.

10. Don’t forget yourself

You work hard all year round to develop your business and serve your clients. The Holiday season is the perfect time to redeem yourself with the love and care of your relatives.

Season’s Greetings to you all!

If you’re a member of CFIB or CFIB’s My Startup program, don’t forget to take advantage of FREE HOLIDAY E-CARDS from Cyberimpact and CFIB!

________________________________

cfib_jf-lalondeA sports enthusiast since early childhood, Jean-Francis was a provincial tennis champion in 1991 before heading to Lynn University in Florida to study marketing. He returned to Quebec in 1995 to study urban planning at UQAM where he was the first to use a website to present his final Bachelor’s degree project.

In 1997, he launched Cyber Generation, a web agency that relies on innovation to meet the diversified needs of its customers. Its versatility meet the needs of small local businesses, large Canadian and American companies, as well as sport and media celebrities such as Serena Williams, Louis-Josée Houde and Georges St-Pierre.

In 1999, Cyber Generation acquired Complice Interactif, a similar web company started by Stephan Lestage.

Jean-Francis is in charge of sales and strategic partnerships, a responsibility that maximises his talents as a negotiator and his sensibility to the needs of others.