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When and How to Bring in New Talent

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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

How and when should a new business welcome a new employee? Is the company a sole proprietorship that finally needs help, or a larger organization with an existing culture? All are relevant questions for a growing company.

  • Understand the Employment Relationship, Especially your Needs vs. the Ambitions of the Employee.

Employers’ needs vary. Some businesses only need certain employees on a seasonal basis. Others require workers possessing a comprehensive set of skills relevant to a specific industry. Some companies need workers on-demand or on-call. Others require ongoing monitoring of business processes. Once a business owner realizes the need for help, they should carefully develop the job description.

Any recruits should understand the expectations and needs of the employer. The best employment relationships strike a balance between the needs of the employer and the ambitions of the employee. Finally, the nature of the relationship could mean the difference between a 1099 and a 1040 for tax purposes.

  • Consider an Ideal “First Day on the Job.”

Assuming an on-site position with organized training, consider methods to place your new employee at ease and make he or she feel at home. Owners should prepare the new hire’s workstation before they arrive.  An agenda for the job description generally helps the new employee orient themselves. Perhaps even small gifts such as candy, company paraphernalia, or welcome letters might help the new employee orient themselves and feel welcome and more comfortable.   Additionally, a tour of the office and introduction to the team may smooth the transition for both parties. At the end of the day, many companies call the new hire into their office and discuss first needs and impressions.

Of course, not all new businesses have the resources for an elaborate welcoming ceremony. Indeed, most small businesses hire their first employees quite informally. Such employees may be independent contractors, temps, or remote employees. Informal rather than formal onboarding may prevail in these situations. Informal onboarding generally involves learning by doing, on a spectrum with the above formal onboarding, based on each organization’s resources.

  • Look to the Future: Consider the Stages of Employee Development

A good resource is the website  This website describes four phases in an employee’s experience over the course of a job:

The first phase is onboarding. For the smallest companies, the value-added should match the company’s expenditure in this process. Letting an employee go after a drawn-out onboarding process wastes money. An effective relationship can be very informal or even personal. Veteran owners should consider their own interests before spending valuable time and resources on new hires that may not work out.

The second phase is initial development. From the start, businesses should consider their contributions to the future of a new hire. The new employee’s ambitions may not match the employer’s needs. Sometimes, the employer really does only need a few minor tasks. Good business operations require honesty and straightforwardness regarding the scope of the business, the needs of the job, and the employee’s future within the company. Many smaller businesses can only promote their employees to a certain point, if at all. However, they can still provide basic needs such as income and references. Employers should recognize that relationships with employees are always a tradeoff. Ideally, in the best of circumstances, we should all get what we deserve.

The third phase is ongoing development and retention. Industries vary in necessary retraining throughout the employment relationship. Relevant factors include the employer’s plans for the employee over the development of the company, and whether the employee’s role falls within a professional specialty that may have education programs. For the former, the employer should consider the prospects of the company and the plans for expansion.

The fourth phase, finally, is separation. Believe it or not, many a business owner starts their business with plans of ultimately selling it. Sometimes, the planned sale occurs after years of development. Keep in mind, though, separation often sparks trauma in employees. Hence, best practice is honesty from the get-go.

In conclusion, strike a deal. Ensure an understanding. Onboarding a new employee should reach a “meeting of minds.” Each party should understand the other’s needs. At the same time, they should understand that their own needs are being respected.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hopes that you have found this article on “When and How to Bring in New Talent” to be helpful and that it provides you valuable information.

VAMBOA invites you to become a member.  There are not any dues or fees.  VAMBOA is the “go to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.   You can also use the VAMBOA seal for your collateral and website.   Below is a link to join and register here:


Question to Avoid Asking Prospective Employees

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By James Pruitt– Staff Writer

The interview process should strike a balance. On one hand, employers must vet potential hires fairly and accurately. On the other, questions about race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, national identity, family status, age, disability, or even genetics can land a potential employer in hot water, as well as alienate some of the best talent.

The EEOC ( provides guidelines that offer protection from sensitive situations. While new employers must necessarily find the right “fit,” certain guidelines can keep your organization out of legal and ethical hot water. There are several rules of thumb that can help interviewers avoid murky waters.

Mindfulness is important with personal banter in initial contacts with the potential hire. and relevance is key. The characteristics and circumstances of the employee only really matter in so far as they relate to the job itself and the tasks at hand. Employers should avoid direct questions when other avenues for inquiry are available.  Most importantly, employers should stay frank about which skills and characteristics are necessary for the job itself.

As a guideline to ensuring a fair interview process, certain specific questions can be pinpointed as hazardous to an employer’s relationship with the EEOC. The following seven common interview questions can land prospective employers in hot water.

First:  Interviewers should avoid questions about graduation dates. Some local employers may seep into innocent banter with such a subject, especially with a shared alma mater. However, other employers may use this question for discriminatory purposes. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits interview questions that seek to discern age. Such questions must be avoided.

Second: Questions about legal troubles must stay relevant. Of course, employers need to ask certain questions to ensure a safe and functional workplace. For example, generally, convictions for fraud are relevant for workers who handle money. However, a past conviction for a low-level drug offense may not be relevant for a cashier or warehouse position. Consider the link between the offense and the actual duties.

Third:  Questions about family can lead an employer down a tricky path. Despite the temptation to slip into personal banter in an initial encounter, questions about marital status or family size can leave an employer at risk for an EEOC challenge.

Fourth:  Interviewers should avoid questions or remarks about company culture that relate to age. This can cast a broad net. Some specifics that commonly relate to company culture involve the prospect of having a boss, medical leave and family issues. Leading questions that may entrap candidates into admitting the responsibilities and burdens of an older worker are best avoided.

Fifth:  If the interviewer notices an accent, this is best kept to oneself. In fact, employers should leave geographical origin out of the interview process in general. Such questions may relate to race or national origin.

Sixth:   Use caution about questions regarding salary history. Certain jurisdictions outright ban questions about current salary, such as New York City, Philadelphia, Massachusetts, Delaware, California, Oregon, and Puerto Rico.

Seventh:  Employers should avoid questions relevant to medical history. Many employers may use such questions to gauge fitness or possible attendance. However, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) renders discrimination based on disability or perceived disability illegal unless relevant to the job. Questions about medication use fit into a similar aura. Such questions are best avoided absent clear concerns that a worker’s health directly impairs their ability to fulfill everyday duties.

Discrimination is not the only danger lurking in the interview process. Unfulfillable promises may land the employer in the courtroom under contract law. To win over a favorite candidate, employers sometimes hide the truth to make a position more attractive. Unfulfillable promises could result in lawsuits for breach of contract. Employers must never make promises they cannot keep. Examples may include promises of benefits, permanent status, and opportunities for advancement within the company. Employers must avoid such promises unless the opportunities for the candidate are genuinely realistic.

Also, employers should use the same set of questions for each candidate. Deviating from a certain template of questions in the interview process could sprout suspicions of favoritism or discrimination. For example, asking only female candidates if they can work long hours could raise eyebrows during a discrimination suit. Tailoring specific questions to specific candidates could also lead to accusations of nepotism, favoritism, or other biases. Whether or not a discrimination suit arises, the image of an unfair hiring process will inevitably harm an employer’s reputation.

In conclusion, common sense should prevail during the hiring process. Interview questions should remain relevant to the job at hand, and the employer should be honest and up-front about the nature of the job and what they can offer the employee. Such transparency is crucial to maintaining an employer’s reputation.

Disclaimer:   VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association recommends on any legal matter that you consult a licensed attorney.  We are not attorneys and are not providing legal advice.  Please be advised that this article is written from research and is purely informational.   We encourage you to consult an attorney.

*** We hope you enjoyed this excellent article by James Pruitt, our new writer.   Stay tuned for his bio and learn more about James.

What Attracts & Retains Top Employees Today?

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By Debbie Gregory.

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Today’s employees have much more sway when it comes to their work environments, benefits, and job perks than ever before.


If you are looking to find, hire, and retain top talent in any field, there are some expectations from the candidates that you need to meet:

  • Flexible schedules
  • Flexible and adaptable workplace design
  • Connected to nature
  • On-site health and wellness


Flexible Schedules:

This is one of the number one issues and benefits that employees today demand.  Flexible schedules also ranks amongst the top two reasons why employees will stay with an employer.


Flexible scheduling can be accomplished in numerous ways and you may consider offering:  

  • Flexible hours
  • More paid time off
  • Days that can be worked from home


Flexible and Adaptable Workplace Design:

The days of endless rows of cubicles are in the past. Today’s employees do not want to sit in a small area with fluorescent lighting surrounded by their fellow workers in their cubicles.   You need to think outside of cubicles when planning your workspace areas.


You might consider offering your employees a variety of individual and group workspaces including:

  • Lounge areas with laptop tables
  • Sit-to-stand workstations that are becoming very popular with lounge areas
  • Conference rooms available for general use at any time
  • Informal meeting rooms with comfortable chairs
  • Casual work areas with high-top tables and barstools


Many progressive employers also include pool tables, ping pong and games in the workspaces.


Connected to Nature:

Employees are tired of being kept in workspaces that have artificial lighting, heating and cooling in a cubicle type setting They want to enjoy the hours they are required to be indoors at work. Many employers are shifting to more natural light sources with better outdoor views, more plants and outdoor space.  They are finding that the time spent outdoors dramatically increases employee happiness and productivity. Keeping in mind the importance of nature and natural elements in the workplace really increases employee morale.


On-site Health and Wellness:

More employees expect their employers to care about and help foster their well-being, including their mental health and well-being.   This is a win/win for both. Happy and healthy people are more energized and engaged with their work.  This increases productivity and can even reduce the overall cost of healthcare.


Some examples of ways your company can do to help promote better health:

  • Offer mental and financial wellness education, through literature, seminars, and webinars
  • Offer on-site flu shots, biometric screenings, and massages
  • Many large companies have their own medical team with one or more Physician Assistants and/or Nurse Practitioners making it simple and convenient for their employees.
  • Offer healthy food and beverage options if you have a stocked break room or cafeteria.
  • Try to add a regular catered lunch that includes healthy foods, vegetarian options, and salad bars
  • Try adding some fitness challenges that are focused on promoting holistic health
  • Build a wellness room with exercise and stretching equipment including offering classes such as Yoga and Pilates.


Utilizing forward thinking and a bit of creativity when planning your workspaces, employee benefits work schedule, and more will go a long way towards attracting and capturing the eyes of top-performing employees that are excited to work for you.  They will be more productive and will stay with the company putting forth their very best work.  Healthy and happy employees are a recipe for success and avoid the financial of other costs of employee turnover.

15 Non-Deductible Business Expenses

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By Debbie Gregory.

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New changes to the US tax laws have made certain expenses no longer deductible.


Here is a quick list of 15 things you cannot write off on your taxes:

1.) Entertainment

Companies used to be able to deduct the costs of entertaining clients or employees, this is no longer the case. Now, you may not deduct any portion of items such as tickets to the theater or sporting events is deductible.


2.) Meals

Meals for clients and employees, such as entertainment, used to be deductible on business taxes. Now, only 50% is deductible and even that is only allowable in specific cases. There are still a few exceptions, such as company picnics or break room snacks, where you can deduct the entire cost.


3.) Commuting

No matter what form of transportation you use to get back and forth to work or how lengthy or difficult it is to get to your business and home again, you are not permitted to write off the costs of commuting.


4.) Work Clothing

In the past, purchases of business appropriate attire were deductible. Now, only clothing not suitable for any possible street use, such as company specific uniforms, hardhats, etc., can be deducted.


5.) Gifts

The deduction for giving gifts to business associates, vendors, customers, etc. is now capped at $25.00 per gift/person, even if it makes good business sense, in certain situations, to give a more expensive gift.


6.) Medicare Taxes

If your income is high enough, you cannot deduct the 0.9% additional Medicare tax paid on net earnings from self-employment or employee wages and the 3.8% net investment income tax paid on income from any business investments.


7.) Club Dues

Participating in a golf or tennis club, social club, or fitness center may be a great way for you to meet and network with possible clients and customers. However, the dues you pay to be a member aren’t deductible.


8.) Exploratory Costs

A lot of people spend money researching business opportunities before starting their new company. This money is no longer tax-deductible. Though, once you start the business, those exploratory expenses can be treated as start-up costs and then can be deducted in the first year of business.


9.) Property Purchases

Legal fees paid to assist with property purchases cannot be deducted on their own. Instead, these fees are added to the cost basis of the property. A portion of the fees can potentially be recovered through depreciation.


10.) Fines and Penalties

Generally, government-imposed fines and penalties are nondeductible, regardless of the amount or reason for the fine.


11.) Excess Business Losses

Excess business losses for non-corporate taxpayers are treated as a net operating loss carryover and cannot be deducted.


12.) Interest on Tax Underpayments

Sole proprietors and owners of pass-through entities (non-corporate taxpayers) that pay interest on tax underpayments cannot deduct them. The interest is viewed as personal interest even if it relates to business income.


13.) Interest Expense Payments

If your annual gross receipts for the three prior years exceeds $25 million dollars, you cannot deduct any of your interest expenses on borrowing.


14.) Certain Employee Expenses

Reimbursements for employees’ commuting costs or moving expenses are not deductible.


15.) Net Operating Loss Carrybacks

Only farmers can deduct carrybacks. All other business entities are only allowed carryforwards and they can only be used to offset 80% of the taxable income.


All these tax law changes can affect your bottom line. Working with a CPA or a good tax or accounting service can help you better adapt to these changes and offset some of their potential impact. Always consult with professionals if you have questions or need guidance with any federal, state, or local law changes and tax issues.