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Small Business Dimensions


Go overboard with onboarding

Emphasize company culture starting on – or even before – day 1

Succession planning at all stages

In the war for talent, there’s a great deal of importance placed on drawing in the right people, preparing an attractive offer and benefits package and making sure your potential new hires are a cultural fit for your company. You spend the time, the money and the executive attention focused on this process and getting employees as excited about joining as possible. These necessary steps create goodwill and seed company culture as people join your company.

But it turns out there’s one often overlooked area where the ball gets dropped when new people join – and that’s onboarding. While there’s a certain amount of paperwork and rote information that needs to be relayed, how you approach the onboarding process can have far-reaching effects on your company culture over the long term. New hires who have a good time onboarding can be almost three times as likely to feel “prepared and supported” in their job. Here’s how to set your company and new employees up for an enjoyable and maybe even meaningful experience when they join.

Create a plan

Successful onboarding requires a cohesive plan from many parts of the company. Though Human Resources (HR) will lead the charge, employees may be bombarded with requests, information or assignments from different parts of the company from accounting to their direct report. Take time with your HR team to pull all the steps together to create a more welcoming and, hopefully, less overwhelming experience for your new associate.

Once you’ve established all of the components needed, document these steps and the order they need to occur. Think about the employee’s experience of what needs to be done, and establish a reasonable cadence that will not overwhelm; this needs to feel like an intuitive journey by the employee. A documented agenda will go far to make an employee feel like there is a plan for them, and build in expectations about what to prepare for – and when.

Don’t forget the why

While you may be focused on the details and ticking off every necessary HR task for newcomers, don’t forget the overarching narrative of why you hired this person, what their presence will mean to your current employees and how everyone will connect. Meaningful interactions with their hiring manager, direct reports, parallel team members and even the executive team when appropriate will fill in the blanks and create an important sense of belonging.


Batching is one of the most effective tools in your belt when it comes to onboarding. Simply group several new hires with similar start dates together as a cohort; this is a powerful way to create context, connect employees with peers and avoid having to repeat information, wasting your executive time.

Batched new hires get a chance to interact with different facets of your company as well. A marketing manager, logistics worker and assistant may all start in the same week. They’ll have a chance to learn about other parts of the company and what each person does, as well as have a cohort of people in similar situations they can call on if they have questions. Creating and fostering this sense of community early goes a long way to cementing your company culture and helps employees already at the firm as new staff will already be oriented to the rhythms of the company.

It’s personal

Don’t forget the personal touches along the way in this process. A handwritten welcome card, logo-bedecked swag, a bouquet of flowers or a gift card and a note can help make the entire process feel connected and human.


Next steps

  • Talk to recent new hires and ask them what they liked and where you can improve going forward.
  • Huddle with your HR team and review your current onboarding processes – ask for ideas from the team about how to better organize the experience for employees.
  • Consider creating an onboarding binder for each new employee about what to expect with a handwritten welcome note from the CEO.


Year-end planning tips for business owners

Tax mitigation strategies can help the bottom line

What diversity means for your business

While these are by no means exhaustive, these tax ideas can be a great starting point for year-end planning. With a complex and ever-changing tax code, it’s a good idea to schedule a meeting with your financial advisor and tax professional as well.

Buy new equipment? Take a deduction

Investing in your business by buying new equipment is one of the most straightforward ways to take a deduction. Section 179 of the IRS tax code allows you to deduct the full purchase price of qualifying equipment and/or software purchased or financed during the tax year from gross income. What items fall under this category for you? Don’t forget potential depreciation after your spending cap is reached.

Defer income and accelerate deductions

Send your invoices out a few days later in December to delay receiving payment until January. Or, prepay some bills that are due in January to take the deduction for this tax year. A little foresight in this category can add up to big tax savings.

Redesign your company retirement plan

Talk to your advisor about options for your company retirement plan – you may have had changes in employee demographics, income to your business or new highly compensated employees. Sitting down and looking over your current plans together may reveal different options to choose from, including SIMPLE IRAs, profit-sharing and Safe Harbor 401(k)s. A qualified plan offers a deduction for your contributions, and you defer tax on earnings on contributions.

Deduct vehicle expenses

When you use your vehicle to visit clients or attend business meetings away from your office, don’t forget to deduct these expenses. You can take either the standard mileage reimbursement rate for 2022 (62.5 cents per mile) or calculate your actual expenses.

One example: if you drive your car 20,000 miles per year and 10,000 of those miles are for business, you can claim 50% of expenses, such as gas, tires, repairs, insurance, license and registration fees, and depreciation. But you can’t use the expense method if you’re leasing a vehicle and previously used standard mileage. Vehicle deductions can go for multiple cars. Make sure you keep an accurate mileage log and receipts.

There are many other deductions you can take for your business – talking with your tax professional may uncover others. The key is a little planning ahead of time, to realize any benefits you might be entitled to.

Next steps

  • Set up time with your finance and accounting professionals to refine your tax planning for this year and the next.
  • Let them know what changes you anticipate in your business as well as your personal financial life.
  • Revisit your own retirement plan and the one you offer employees to ensure they’re on track and serving you and your employees well.

Raymond James does not provide tax services. Please discuss these matters with the appropriate professional.

Benefits bonanza

How to reevaluate your benefits offering – and maybe even improve it

Is a solo 401(k) right for you?

The “great resignation” has brought employee benefits to the fore in the last two years, a trend that shows little sign of slowing. A recent Accenture survey says retirement benefits are a must-have to retain and attract talent – 68% of workers with pension/retirement plans said those benefits were a critical factor in deciding whether to accept a job and 62% said they were a critical factor in staying with a job.

Employees are also expecting employers to help with inflationary healthcare costs, extending more mental health benefits and espousing flexible schedules. With all of this in mind, it’s good to do a benefits audit to prepare for 2023 and beyond and ensure you remain competitive in your sector. This periodic benefit reevaluation is also a way to signal to employees that you are responding to their needs in real-time – a factor that in and of itself can be a value.

Where to start?

Conduct an audit of your current benefits package. Your HR team should be able to draw up a comprehensive list of what’s available to every employee. Include flexible hours, improved technology and other nonmonetary benefits. Be sure to break out any additional benefits to owners and highly compensated employees when you review.

Survey says

Make sure your current benefits package is meeting your employee population’s needs. This is where you may be surprised to find out employee tastes and desires have changed. A simple, confidential Google survey sent to all employees is an easy and cost-effective way to take the pulse. Only include ideas you’ve vetted among your executive team, and that you’ll be able to implement – and afford. Use a write-in box for employees to brainstorm pie-in-the-sky ideas.


Send the survey from a senior member of management so employees know this is important and are incentivized to take action.

Map it out

Map survey results against current benefits and note any gaps. There may be ideas that are no- or low-cost to you but that are high value to staff like flexible schedules, built-in sick time for vaccine reactions, or employee discounts negotiated with your vendors, maybe even offering insurance for fluffy friends.

Investing the time into a benefits audit is a good routine practice to get into annually or semiannually. And it’s one that could pay off in reduced attrition and happier employees.

Next steps:

  • Conduct a benefits audit to see exactly where you are on your benefits package.
  • Consider a confidential survey or talking to employees to find out if their benefits needs and desires are being met.
  • Talk to your advisor about potential budget and tax implications.


Raymond James does not provide tax services. Please discuss these matters with the appropriate professional.