Types of Disciplinary Measures

Every organization, may it be private or public, has a set of standards and policies to be followed by each members. Non-compliance will obligate management to enforce corrective actions. There are multiple types of disciplinary measures based on the gravity or seriousness of the problem. The following will help you determine the type of sanctions that maybe appropriate.

  1. Verbal Warning: For less severe misconduct, this avenue will allow human resources supervisor/manager or company representative to speak to the employee and discuss concerns or infractions without affecting their personnel record. It should outline how the employee is misbehaving and what the individual should do to improve thereby prevent future occurrences. Be able to highlight the consequences if the employee fails to do so.
  2. Written reprimand: This disciplinary action will serve as a precedent for future reprimands. It defines the act of misconduct, the corrective action required from the employee and repercussions if the said violation is repeated. The employee should be verbally notified before adjoining the letter to the file.
  3. Suspension: The company will suspend the employee on a temporary basis. This type of action is usually due to repeated misconduct – or because the problem requires further investigation (preventive suspension), and the presence of the em ployee will affect the process. Typically, this suspension will be without pay. But if the results prove that the employee is innocent, the company will be required to compensate for the lost hours/days. When suspending an employee, the company should initially submit a notification to the individual, letting the person know of the reason and the actions that will be under taken.
  4. Financial Penalty:This type of measure is rarely being used. It serves as an alternative when the employee cannot be suspended for business-related purposes (for example, if the company is restructuring, dealing with unlawful withdrawal of service or if an individual is working oversees and cannot be replaced during the suspension period).
  5. Demotion:Decreasing the job level is one of the most drastic disciplinary actions a company may take for grave misconduct or low productivity. It’s usually used when an employee is incapable handling certain position or because of repeated misconduct or poor performance.
  6. Termination:Before terminating an employee, the company has to be completely sure that it went through due process/legal proceedings. A dismissal may occur when an employee doesn’t correct his/her behaviour, despite constant warnings and reminders (verbally and on writing)  even though the company has discussed the problem with him/her multiple times in the past. The employer can immediately terminate an individual if s/he commits a serious act of misconduct – like stealing, harassment or breach of contract. The company’s code of conduct establishes what the consequences for specific misconduct are. This will help employees and management to have a better understanding of the matter.  Bear in mind that dismissing an employee without proper justification will have legal implications and can severely damage the company’s image and finances. Therefore, it pays to carefully consider what kind of action you should take to ensure that you can sustain the termination.

Be fair and just put everyone under the same standards. It is important to ensure that employees are aware of these disciplinary measures. Nobody likes to reprimand and be reprimanded. However it’s a ‘necessary evil’ to ensure that the workplace stays safe and productive at all times.

 

V. Sanchez | DBPC Blog

Finding New Customers

Getting new customers can be a real challenge, especially if you don’t consider yourself a good salesperson. But don’t lose hope, the following strategies will help you find new customers and increase your company’s sales:

 

Finding your target market

Before you can find new customers and begin to promote your business, you need to focus on targeting the right kind of people for your product.  Check out what your competitors are currently offering and determine what makes your product unique (price, quality, quantity, customer service, etc).

Understanding the needs of your target market

Market research runs from very simple qualitative research to in-depth quantitative analysis. It can be utilized fairly inexpensively by going to areas you are interested in selling to and passing out surveys to get a better understanding of what your market wants/needs and what factors affect their purchasing decisions.

Techniques for reaching your market

  1. Cold calling: Have a script on hand with your pitch for the product, and be prepared to answer your clients’ questions. Have a goal in mind for the number of people you will reach in a week. The more days you commit in cold calling, the more you get a feel for how clients engage with sales people. This, in turn, will help you develop new methods of making sales in later calls.
  2. Networking: Attend as many social functions as you can and try to mingle and talk to potential clients regarding the product you are offering. Don’t try to sell as soon as the conversation starts; instead, try to connect to the person. In this way, whatever the end result is, you also gain a friendly contact who will be useful for future referrals and networking sessions.
  3. Business contacts: Approach business contacts who have been happy with your products in the past and politely request referrals. When a customer is happy with your product, they will usually be happy to offer a positive testimonial. Word of mouth is an incredibly effective marketing tactic.
  4. Affiliate marketing: Look at non-competitive products or services with similar demographics and see if there are ways you can join forces through mutual outreach efforts such as newsletters, mailings (online and offline) or co-branding opportunities. You can probably find out a handful of like-minded products or services that are already talking to your customer base. The proper cross promotion can result in positive gains for both companies.
  5. Advertising: Nowadays there are an endless variety of ways to advertise one’s business. You can use flyers, Facebook, Instagram, web advertising and more. Try out different mediums and see how different demographics respond to each one.
  6. Samples: Giving out free samples is another way to reel in customers. Having a positive reaction to a test product makes it more likely they’ll tell their friends sooner rather than later. Clients who get samples also tend to brag about their freebies to other people.
  7. Customer rewards: Many customers appreciate loyalty cards that provide them with gifts or discounts. Create loyalty point cards to keep customers coming back to you.

Never give up in your efforts to acquire more customers, and do your best to spread your enthusiasm for the product you are providing.  The market is vast, and even though tastes can be hard to pin down, constantly networking and promoting your product will eventually carry you to your desired goals.

C. Burca | DBPC Blog

Using Sick Days/Leave as Entitlement

During the course of an employee’s tenure, it is inevitable to miss a few days due to various reasons.  The Employment Standards Act provides guidelines in resolving labour disputes and protecting labour rights but does not contain provisions relating to sick leave. Entitlement is generally based on the companies’ discretion and internal policy.  Nevertheless, according to the Act, in Ontario, individuals who work for an organization with fifty or more workers are eligible to receive a maximum of ten days of unpaid personal emergency leave in cases which include personal illness, injury or medical emergency, need to care or urgent matters concerning family members.

On the other hand, the Canada Labour Code provides protection against dismissal, lay-off, suspension, demotion or disciplinary action because of absence due to illness or injury for individuals who have completed three consecutive months of employment for the same employer.  Furthermore, the Code contains the following guidelines:

  • An employee is protected for any absence not exceeding 17 weeks.
  • Sick leave may be combined with parental, compassionate care, critical illness or leave related to death or disappearance.
  • The Code provides job security only and not salary payments. However, you may be eligible to receive benefits under the Employment Insurance Act (EI).
  • Pension, health and disability benefits, and seniority continue to accumulate during the staff’s absence. Both parties are still required to pay their own shares in the benefit plan.  Nonpayment does not affect the employee’s status but if he/she doesn’t remit his/her contribution, the company is not obligated to pay its portion.

 

In spite of the lack of legislation, some of the best practices include:

  • When you are unable to report to work, notify your immediate supervisor as soon as possible in order for them to manage shifts and/or workloads.
  • If you have to be off for an extended period of time, inform your manager about your situation as well as when you are expected to return.
  • Be prepared to provide a medical or doctor’s note in the event that HR requests for one.
  • If you need accommodation, whether permanent or temporary, advise the company so that they can arrange your workload.

 

The approval of sick leave(s) depends on management’s judgment.  Nevertheless, employers can impose restrictions or conditions to such absences and in some cases chastise employees who abuse the system.  To minimize issues, organizations must devise a comprehensive policy which may include requiring absent staff to call within a specific period of time on each day of absence, disciplinary action if unexplained absence continues, exceptions (if any), or documentation required (medical certifications).  Furthermore, such rules must be consistently applied to everyone and the company should take a fair, reasonable and firm approach in administering the guidelines.

Reference:  Ministry of Labour (http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/es/)

Z. Ricafrente | DBPC Blog

When Should a Business Expand?

Starting a business is hard, making it successful is even harder.  Once a company has hit its first few major milestones, many will start to think about going to try and carve out a bigger chunk of the market for themselves.  This has been the downfall of more than one promising business, and before anyone thinks of expanding, they should look for a few key indicators that their organization is actually ready for that kind of growth. 

When the product is ready

So you’ve rolled out the initial version of your product/service, and it is a hit with your core customer base and other early adopters.  The question you must ask now is whether it is ready for mainstream public consumption.  Trying to expand a business centered around a flawed product can lower the ceiling for your potential market share and sabotage your potential.  Analyze your product against the competition, and make absolutely sure that it’s ready to blow everyone else out of the water before you embark on a marketing and hiring blitz.

When you know the market is there

If the growth of your current market is limited, it should only be because of a lack of infrastructure or funding on your part.  It is incredibly risky to expand and try to “find” a larger market.  Lots of money will be spent on marketing and business development for returns that are unpredictable at best.  The market should already be there ahead of time.  In cases where your business has a very particular niche, it is similarly dangerous to try and expand beyond that small market.  It is one thing to convince customers that you have a great solution to a common problem; it is much harder to convince them that you have a solution to a problem they don’t even think about.

When customer base exceeds customer support

One of the most important elements in maintaining a successful business is making sure fast, quality support is available to every one of your customers.  Even the best products can fail if there isn’t sufficient infrastructure in place to help customers who are struggling some element of its use.  Word of bad service will spread quickly and will easily undo good publicity from advertising.  Resist the urge to keep growing your clientele without investing in more support reps to match.

Most successful leaders meticulously plan the start of their business, and they should always exercise similar caution and reflection when dealing with expansion.  The danger is that entrepreneurs will get caught up in the storm of their early success and miss key indications that their company is not yet ready for the big time.  Enthusiasm is great, but it is equally important that you maintain a critical eye when looking at your business.  A bit of caution now can pay big dividends in the long term and can save your company from burning out early.

 

Lance | DBPC Blog

Business Insurance

Insurance can be defined as the equitable transfer of risk from one entity to another in exchange for money.  Insurance is a contract where you pay a premium, so that an insurer will compensate you for particular events such as losses, injury, illness or death.

The term – “business insurance” pertains to protecting a business against any operational loss, property damage, product loss, legal liability, or other employee related risks.

There are several types of business insurance – each with its own type of coverage and restrictions. Every business’ needs are different and choosing the right coverage for your company is very important.

The most common types of business insurance are as follows:

Key Person Insurance – This is for self-employed individuals or small enterprises who rely on a few key people to run the business.  This coverage includes critical illness, disability and life insurance.

Liability Insurance – Every business, even if it’s home-based, needs to have liability insurance.  This coverage protects the business against liability claims, negligence, manufacturing or personnel error, product damage, bodily injury and even property damage.

Product Liability Insurance – This covers damages, injury or death caused by faulty products.

Property Insurance – This will cover the business’ properties in the event of damages due to fire, flood or other natural perils.

Vehicle Insurance – Similar to insurance for personal vehicles; all business vehicles should be insured too against accidents, losses, damages, thefts, collisions.

Business Interruption Insurance – Unforeseeable circumstances may force a business to shut down temporarily.  This insurance will cover loss of earnings until normal business resumes.

Accounts Receivable Insurance – There are certain wholesale and export businesses whose clients take more than 30-60 days to pay, and in some cases, clients disappear without paying.  This leaves the business in a very critical position, since the business has to pay their employees, suppliers, bills and other expenses.  This type of insurance will provide crucial coverage during this vulnerable period.

Professional Liability Insurance – Also known as errors and omissions (E&O) insurance, this covers a business against negligence claims due to harm resulting from mistakes or failure to perform.  This type of coverage is mostly taken by professional business – like doctors, lawyers, real estate agents and many more.

E-Commerce Insurance – In recent years, the Internet has emerged as a major business tool for companies both large and small.  This has led some insurers to introduce policies that protect businesses in the event that their online presence is disrupted by hackers or other problems.

For a business, insurance is the anchor that keeps the entire operation from being swept away in stormy conditions.  Insure your business properly to cover the loss against risk.

U. Lakhia | DBPC Blog