Advancements in technology and connectivity have undeniably swept in a new golden era for remote working. Last year, 38 percent of Americans were permitted to work from home at least one day a week (PDF) — and almost half of all professionals considered leaving their jobs due to a lack of flexibility.

Yet while generous remote working opportunities may attract top talent and foster a positive office culture, some industries have started to experience an unexpected backlash from encouraging remote working.
The biggest issue has been the overtime expectations that appear to come hand-in-hand with flexible work options.
Because more and more companies have begun to offer remote working as an office perk, there’s been a recent spike in the number of professional positions that are overtime exempt. As a result, workers in America, Europe and Asia have all complained of the introduction of unrealistic overtime demands across a wide range of industries — leading to government intervention, legal battles and more.

Here in the U.S., the Department of Labor has been attempting to issue a new Overtime Rule designed to increase the minimum salary for overtime exempt employees from $23,660 to $47,892 per year in order to compensate for unlogged hours. That particular policy was scheduled to go into effect on December 1, 2016, but a federal judge issued an injunction blocking the policy in November amidst objections from business leaders.
The resuscitation of the rule seems unlikely under the administration of President-elect Donald Trump.
Across the Atlantic, another court battle in France saw workers earn the “right to disconnect” and refuse to check their work emails after business hours without the fear of being penalized by employers.

In December, Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare unveiled plans to establish a new office dedicated to addressing excessive labor after the suicide of an advertising employee whose death was directly linked to being overworked.
Bearing all this in mind, business owners would do well to take it upon themselves to tread carefully in terms of how best to approach the introduction of remote working opportunities.

It’s true that workers value flexibility. Studies indicate professionals are more content and more productive when they’re permitted the ability to work when and where they’d like. For many companies, that increase in morale and efficiency may be foolish to ignore.
Yet as flexible working patterns become more commonplace, it will fall on employers and their staff to strike a reasonable balance between flexibility and out-of-office and overtime expectations. Because if flexibility becomes an excuse for unreasonable demands on employees’ time, evidence suggests the results could be a talent exodus, legal action or worse.

How To Providing Your Employees with a Choice in Their Health Care

Choosing health coverage for your small business team doesn’t need to be complicated. Though selecting benefits isn’t normally considered to be a fun or easy process, there’s now an option that gives small businesses a better way to find plans that are both affordable and satisfactory for employees.

UnitedHealthcare has created a one-of-a-kind online shopping tool specifically for small businesses. The idea is to give small businesses the same abilities and advantages that large corporations get when choosing employee health coverage. The process is fairly straightforward and customizable for small businesses, so you can be sure to find the best possible plan options for your specific situation. Here’s a step-by-step guide for signing your small business team up for health coverage using UnitedHealthcare’s online shopping tool.

Compare Plans Online

With UnitedHealthcare, you don’t need to choose just one healthcare plan for your small business team. You can actually compare plans online and select two or more plans for your employees to choose from based on their own personal preferences. In some states, businesses can even give employees up to 27 different plan options.
UnitedHealthcare offers many different plan options that you can browse on the website. And you can even customize plans to better fit your business. If you need some guidance, the online shopping tool also offers features that you can use to see what similar companies offer their employees.

While you’re looking at plans, you can also see basic pricing information to help you stick to your budget. And when you input your basic business information, such as location and number of employees, you can get a general price quote for the plan or plans you’re considering. However, you won’t be able to see an actual final number until you add more specific employee information.

Add Employee Information

To get that final quote, you can input your employee data manually or even upload it from software programs like Quickbooks or Xero. You’ll need to add information like employee age, gender, zip code and any family members that might go on their plans. Or you can just quickly upload that data from programs you already use, or even an Excel spreadsheet.

Once all of your employee data is added, the online shopping tool will update your pricing information with real costs, instead of just a general quote. And from there, you can set a budget of what your business will actually cover for employees.
You can set a total budget of what you plan to pay each month and then divvy that up among your employees either by a specific dollar amount or an average percentage, depending on your state. So if you set a total monthly budget of $2,880 for your nine employees, you could cover about $320 per average employee each month. You can also make adjustments throughout the process to see how a smaller or larger monthly budget would impact the costs for both your business and your employees. Once you’re satisfied, you can confirm your plan choices and move on to the next step.

Create an Account

At this point, if you haven’t already signed up for an account, you’ll be asked to do so. This just requires you to set up a login and input some basic information. Doing this ensures that all of your preferences are saved and you can always come back to view your plan options and make any changes going forward.

Sign Up for a Plan

Once you’ve created an account and are satisfied with your plan choices and pricing, it’s time to complete the transaction. You can review all of your details to ensure that your choices are satisfactory for your business and employees. And then submit your business’s payment information to complete the purchase of coverage.

Give Your Employees Access

Then your plan options should be all set up for your team! So you can give your employees access to login under their own UnitedHealthcare accounts. From there, they can see all of the plan options that you selected and choose the one that best fits with their needs and budget. And they can complete their own purchase of healthcare coverage right on the online shopping tool as well.
Selecting healthcare coverage for your team may not be one of the most exciting aspects of running a small business. But choosing the right options can go a long way toward creating an environment where your team feels supported and fairly compensated for their contributions to your small business.

Also, an employee who knows their employer cares enough about the team to provide members with health insurance is usually more productive. Employees who receive benefits might work harder and be happier because they feel more secure at their jobs.
The UnitedHealthcare digital marketplace makes this process much less time consuming for small business owners who have so many other things to worry about on a daily basis. And using this option ensures that you can get the best coverage for your team and your budget at the same time.

The new program is so far only available in California, Arizona, Tennessee, Michigan, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Illinois and Florida. The company expects to add other states this year.

Some Discrimination to Look Out for in the Workplace

Employment discrimination is a battle some people face daily. You may know the more common types of employment discrimination such as discrimination based on race, but did you know there are lesser-known types people face as well? You may even have come up against one of the three types discussed below without realizing it was discrimination.

Watch for These Types of Discrimination in the Workplace
Part-Time Employee Discrimination
Employees who don’t work a full-time schedule of 40 hours a week or more are considered part-time employees. Part-time employees may be stereotyped to be less productive and even lazy when compared to their full-time counterparts.

Your coworkers may think you aren’t serious about the work you do and treat you differently because they feel you aren’t committed to the job and aren’t serious. Your employer may pass over you for special projects or other opportunities because they see you as not dedicated.
This type of discrimination may feel like it’s no big deal because it didn’t prevent you from getting the job, right? While the employer likely hired you knowing you would be a part-time worker, that doesn’t mean you don’t face discrimination. Studies have found that full-time employees resent the flexibility part-timers have, which may lead to discrimination.

Family Responsibility Discrimination
It may sound strange that your family can be the basis of discrimination, but in many cases, it is, particularly in the case of the working mother. Most of the time, working parents prefer a more flexible schedule because family emergencies could come up at any time or one of their children could get sick and they suddenly need to stay home with no notice.

Family discrimination lawsuits have been presented in courts for years and may include anything from mothers or fathers being denied family leave or being penalized because they took family leave. They also cover pregnant women being denied jobs because they are going to have a baby. A more recent complaint is caregivers of elderly parents, who may claim a hostile workplace when they feel they face discrimination for taking care of their parental duties.

Gender Discrimination
When people think of gender discrimination, they may think of women being discriminated against or sexualized in the work place. The truth is gender discrimination happens to both men and women, and can be a real problem.
Some forms are more subtle, such as a male being expected to work long hours because he has a family to support and doesn’t need to spend a lot of time at home because that’s the mother’s role. Or women may be held back from leadership positions because they are perceived as emotional and sensitive, two traits not fit for a leader in management’s eyes.

Other forms of discrimination are more blatant, such as expecting the females in the office to take care of “housework” type tasks such as:

Answering the phones
Planning office parties
Taking notes during a meeting
Ordering lunch for everyone
On that same note, men could be less likely to get a secretarial-type job position they apply for because that’s not seen as a job for a man.
In some cases, women break through that maternal wall and get a position seen as traditionally male, but they still face discrimination. This is called prescriptive bias. A woman who can show strong leadership and acts forcefully may get labeled uncaring or cold. Furthermore, women are expected to be modest and not brag about their accomplishments or self-promote while men are generally expected to flaunt their achievements, even if they are uncomfortable doing so.
What Does Discrimination Look Like?

Employment discrimination can result in a number of different things, including:

Missing out on promotions
Earning less for the same work
Losing your job
Not getting the job even though you’re very qualified
Facing harsher discipline
Dealing with harassment at work
These are just some of the ways discrimination presents itself and causes problems for employees, but remember this isn’t an exhaustive list and you could be dealing with other ways discrimination shows up in the workplace.
Find Someone to Confide In
Every case of employment discrimination varies in severity, so what each person should do may vary. First, you should talk about your situation with someone you trust. They can help you get perspective on the situation and determine if you’re facing discrimination or not. A few pointers:

Don’t talk to a coworker or anyone at your workplace no matter what your level of friendship is.
Present the facts and try not to cloud them with extreme emotion and venting.
Let your friend tell you their opinion and try to look at the situation objectively so you can make a decision.
How Should You Address Discrimination in the Workplace?
What comes next will be up to you and likely vary based on your personal feelings. You can choose to document everything and talk with a lawyer. If you decide to take it to a lawyer, you should do so immediately because the statute of limitations can be short.
Another option is to handle it personally. You may choose this in cases where the person is being thoughtless and their actions are illegal yet you think they’re simply unaware. A few pointers:

Be non-confrontational but direct.
Let them know that what is happening is offensive.
Tell them the behavior must stop.
The final option is to leave the job and put the discrimination behind you. You should still document everything that happens while you work on your escape. You don’t want to just leave the job abruptly without a plan. If you decide to leave for a better environment, you may still want to talk with a lawyer.

Explore Your Options If You’re Facing Discrimination
These are just three of the types of employment discrimination that may not be as widely known. It’s important to note that even a more common form of discrimination, such as gender, can take on different forms that aren’t widely recognized as discrimination. Either way, if you are facing discrimination at work, know you do have options and shouldn’t feel like you have to deal with the unfair treatment for the rest of your career.

Some Unusual Ways to Promote a Job Opening

Are you really reaching your target audience on the same three websites? We asked 10 entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following question:
“What is an unusual but successful platform for posting a job description?”
Unusual Ways to Promote a Job Opening
Here’s what YEC community members had to say:
1. Geo-Fencing
“Ever walked into a restaurant and your phone pops up with location and asks for review? Geo-fencing just took place. The best way to recruit great employees is to steal them. The best way to steal them is to Geo-Fence all of the competitors in your industry with great ads. Just make a squeeze page and set up re-targeting and you will have more great candidates than you can handle.” ~ Tommy Mello, A1 Garage Door Repair
2. Upwork
“We just used Upwork for a side project that we were working on. There are freelancers for almost anything you could imagine, whether it be internet research, design, content writing, etc. Most freelancers on the site display their hourly wage, and you can choose to pay by the hour or set up project milestones.” ~ Brian David Crane, Caller Smart Inc.
3. The Front Desk
“Our best employees are promoted from within, but when we hire from the outside it helps for new hires to have an understanding of how we operate. Instead of a “Help Wanted” sign in the window, we leave takeaways at the point of sale focused on the benefits of working for us, made for those who already buy in as clients. It’s also a great way to let everyone else know we treat our people well.” ~ Michael Portman, Birds Barbershop
4. Craigslist
“It may sound strange, but there are job pages and even my own page where I have been able to find great candidates by posting a job description. Freelance and outsource companies like to use sites like Craigslist and there’s such a huge audience out there that may or may not be looking and be intrigued by the job description they see in their feed.” ~ Drew Hendricks, Buttercup
5. Instagram
“I’ve posted job descriptions on Instagram and gotten an overwhelming response. It seems like you must go where people are spending the most time and regardless of whether they are actively seeking a job or not. I’ve had candidates that were motivated to switch jobs from seeing a video description on Instagram.” ~ Cynthia Johnson, Ipseity Media
6. The Website of Local Universities
“Whenever we have a need, we always reach out to placement centers at local universities and they post the job on their website. This really helps us get several excellent resumes from local areas. There is no cost involved, and we have hired several bright candidates using this approach.” ~ Piyush Jain, SIMpalm
7. Periscope
“We’ve put up video job descriptions about what we have open and our company and it’s been an engaging way to hear back from people too. We get lots of inquiries, video resumes and pitches back, which is interesting and provides a new dimension to the recruiting process.” ~ Zach Binder, Ranklab
8. Announcements at Public Events
“When I’m speaking in front of a crowd at a public event, I’ve been known to announce what I’m looking for in a particular employee or partner. This way, I get the word out to a large number of people (and their online and offline networks) when I’ve already captured their attention. Using this strategy, I can also effectively advertise the value that I bring as an employer.” ~ Alexandra Levit, PeopleResults
9. Personal Facebook Pages
“I have found that we get the best candidates when team members post job openings to their personal Facebook pages. I believe this process creates a validation system for both the company and the potential candidate. This platform extends the offer through credible friends and allows for easy and friendly references. It adds a personal touch while still reaching a large network.” ~ Justin Lefkovitch, Mirrored Media
10. Angellist
“Angellist is an incredible hiring resource for startups and fast-growth companies. Companies can post jobs descriptions and candidates seeking jobs can also post their profiles and resumes, all for free. Angellist is good for finding engineering, marketing, operations and design talent. I’ve worked with teams that have hired 60 percent of their employees through Angellist.” ~ Adelyn Zhou, TOPBOTS
11. Looksharp and Social Media
“We really like Looksharp for our internships and using Instagram to get people excited about the role. Posting job descriptions on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook allows you to share listings quick within a professional network or target relevant connections.” ~ Maren Hogan, Red Branch Media
12. Snapchat
“Given the ubiquitous nature of Snapchat, utilizing the platform for job postings can be both fun and rewarding. As an example, posting a picture of a new MacBook Pro along with some core accessories — and captioning that post with verbiage that makes it clear that designers and developers who come work for your company get a new computer to use — can be an effective way to build job interest.” ~ Blair Thomas, First American Merchant

AI for Small Business

The era of Big Data is upon us and small businesses are, at least inadvertently, collecting lots of it.
Data is collected in just about every small business function. Customers relay their data to small businesses. Small business functions are delivering data within the company. Company employees are creating and processing data, too.

It’s everywhere.
Now, what do small businesses do with that data? They definitely want to know what to do. And they appear to be seeking help in that area.

Increase in AI and Machine Learning Jobs
According to recent data from Indeed.com’s jobs posting platform, small businesses are increasingly looking for help from artificial intelligence and machine learning experts. Per Indeed’s data, the amount of such job postings at the site is on the rise.
AI and Machine Learning have been identified as technologies with the second biggest impact on small businesses. Big Data is first, of course.
While more small businesses appear to be focusing on collecting data, a growing number are trying to get data to work for them too.

“We’re now seeing that companies have enough data and processing power to actually use deep learning. We’re seeing that they can use big, complex neural networks with multiple layers, and we’re finally there,” Indeed senior vice president of engineering Doug Gray tells Small Business Trends.

“It’s pretty accessible no matter the size of your business, if you architect your systems well to emit data. More companies know how important it is to log every piece of data and customer interaction. And it’s now simple, with Amazon, to spin up a bunch of nodes and build a model that has predictive power and then shut it down again at a very low expense,” Gray says.

Not Hiring? Collect Data in the Meantime
AI and Machine Learning are emerging technologies, especially for small businesses. They’re accessible technologies, too. And they should become more widely accessible over time.
Now may not be the time for your small business to hire here, though. It may never be but there is a takeaway for any small business. Collect all the data you can and keep it safe, of course.

While these remain emerging technologies, the more accessible that AI and machine learning become, the easier it should be to use data to work effectively for your small business.