Are You Aware Of Workplace Larceny?

July 31, 2017

Employee theft, commonly known as larceny, is defined as any stealing or misuse of an employer’s assets without permission. While most might immediately assume that theft in this instance refers to cash only, in fact, workplace larceny involves more than just cash. In most businesses, there are much more valuable items than cash that employees can steal from a company.

What do employees normally steal from their employers?

While money is typically the most common asset stolen from employers, other common items that employees normally steal include office supplies such as stationery or mobile devices as well as company merchandise, such as products that are meant to be sold to customers. Moreover, employees can also steal intangible items from employers such as time and information. When employees steal time from the company, it refers to paying the employee for the time that he or she did not work. This typically happens through falsifying time keeping records. Likewise, employees can also steal confidential company information such product designs or trade and clientele secrets.

Given that some of these items are not tangible, there are many different things that employers have to consider when trying to protect their assets. Moreover, protecting these assets will require a lot of time and money investment. While large companies might have the capital to do so, small businesses unfortunately lack the supplies in these two areas.

Types of workplace larceny

Theft in the workplace is a big problem that affects many businesses. In order to tackle workplace larceny, businesses have to first understand the various methods used by employees to steal from the company. Here are some of the common types of employee theft reported in most organisations.

1. Embezzlement

Embezzlement refers to theft by someone who is in the position of trust and legally allowed access to cash or the items that they are stealing. For instance, if customers were to deposit funds into their bank accounts by entrusting the money to a bank teller, who then takes the cash for his or her own purposes, that is considered embezzlement.

2. Skimming

Removing of cash or property from the organisation before it has been recorded is considered skimming. In this case, skimming can be done by any employee who has access to incoming cash or assets before it is recorded. This often includes salespeople, tellers or cashiers. In the workplace, skimming can lead to greater implications as opposed to embezzlement as it is much harder to detect missing cash or assets that have never been recorded in the first place.

3. Fraudulent Disbursements

This type of workplace theft refers to employees using the company’s internal systems in an illegal way to benefit themselves. Essentially, fraudulent disbursements can come off as legitimate company activity and similarly, can be difficult to detect as well.

4. Stealing of business opportunities.

Finally, this type of theft does not refer to tangible items being stolen but rather, highly confidential and valued information such as client lists, company’s trade secrets as well as business discussions. Such theft occurs most commonly when an employee leaves an organisation to work for a competitor in a similar industry. In this case, that particular employee takes with them the knowledge of client lists and insider information on their previous company.

Preventing employee theft

As businesses comes in various sizes and types, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to address workplace larceny. While some companies, particularly larger organisation, have the capacity to hire a dedicated team to tackle employee theft, small businesses are unable to afford such dedicated security. In turn, this makes them more susceptible to workplace larceny.

However, businesses, regardless large or small, can take certain precautions to prevent employee theft. One method is to be cautious on who the organisation hires, such as running background checks on all potential hires. Similarly, it is important to have anti-theft policies in place and hold regular meetings to reiterate the importance of these anti-theft policies. Apart of this, it is every employees’ responsibility to stay vigilant and to report any suspicious or fraudulent activities. While businesses everywhere might have experienced some form of theft, it has to be a combined effort of all employees to prevent and deter any form of workplace larceny.

This is a guest post from RenQun Huang at Gpayroll
Want to read more articles related to payroll, HR & technology? Visit us at Gpayroll

6 things you can do right now to improve workplace productivity

July 26, 2017

Defined simply, productivity is the amount of value produced divided by the amount of resources required to do so. Technological advancements have improved workplace productivity by leaps and bounds, but sometimes our level of productivity boils down to our individual habits and office culture. According to a research project of 200 knowledge workers in four organisations, boosting productivity requires managers and employees to reduce the five barriers that constrain interactions:

  1. Physical barriers. Geographic distance and difference in time zones both hinder productivity.
  2. Technical barriers. The lack of effective tools for collaboration is an example of a technical barrier that limits productivity.
  3. Social or cultural barriers. Rigid hierarchy or ineffective incentives means that employees are not engaged.
  4. Contextual barriers. This refers to obstacles that prevent employees from sharing and translating knowledge obtained from colleagues in different fields, departments or divisions.
  5. The barrier of time. The perceived lack of time may prevent valuable interactions from taking place, thereby hindering productivity.

Source: McKinsey Quarterly

By taking steps to reduce these barriers, your productivity-improvement efforts will be effective in increasing the efficiency of your workers. Here, we give you five tips for how to go about improving productivity in the workplace:

1. Take the lead in organising work processes

Perpetually feeling like you’re out of time? Our CEO recently wrote about how everyone is always ‘swamped’, ‘stressed’, and ‘under a stack of pressure’. Given that productivity is about producing more value with less resources, the natural thing to do is to streamline work processes for your team.

In the office, take the lead in driving more efficient and streamlined work processes. The first step is to set goals for your team while making sure that this corresponds to your team’s capacity to execute them. Next, meet your team members one-on-one to communicate the priorities and expectations for their individual roles. Be explicit about how much time to want them to devote to tasks that crop up unexpectedly, whether this is a client pitch meeting or internal brainstorming meeting. Spending a few minutes jotting down ideas or an hour coming up with a comprehensive mind map makes a huge difference in the quality of the work, and setting clear expectations will help your employees allocate their time more wisely.

Dragon Law’s founding team of nine has a weekly meeting on Monday mornings that we call S.I.T. Everyone turns off their phone for anywhere between 90 minutes to 2 hours and looks at their area of focus and determine what we need from our team to Survive, Improve and Transform. This mechanism forces the team to set goals according to three horizons – the hyper short-term, and medium- and longer-term goals.

Think about what you want your team to achieve, and organise work processes to align with that.

2. Organise better meetings

It is no secret that many employees feel they spend too much time in meetings. If it is possible to do away with the meeting, ask each team member to circulate a report of what he or she has accomplished the previous week and priorities for the week ahead. This avoids having to physically gather everyone, but ensures that everyone is aligned and kept on track.

And where you cannot completely eliminate meetings, you can make those that remain on your calendar more effective. Develop a process for running meetings, including the pre-meeting preparation of sending out an agenda, the decision-making process during meetings, and the post-meeting habit of following up with next steps.

This nifty checklist from Running Meetings, a part of the Harvard Business Review 20-Minute Manager Series, will help you ensure you cover all your bases and make your meetings more productive.

Source: Harvard Business Review

3. Develop a positive work culture

Sometimes, it may be your office culture that is enacting social and cultural barriers that impedes productivity. According to a Harvard Business Review article, a cut-throat office environment may be harmful to productivity over time, while a positive environment will boost employee effectiveness and your company’s bottom line. This is because high-pressure environments tend to come at the cost of workers’ health, and has been linked to health problems such as metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease. More crucially, it causes employees to become disengaged, which leads to more costs in having to re-hire and onboard new members.

Related reading: 5 top tips for onboarding new hires

The first step is to build a workplace environment that allows employees to feel a strong sense of meaning. According to this study, one of the conditions that makes peak performance possible is what is termed meaning quotient, or MQ. This describes the peak-performance experience as involving high stakes, excitement, a challenge, and something that the individual feels matters, will make a difference, and hasn’t done before.

To create meaning in the workplace, build narratives that highlight your company’s ability to make an impact on society, the customer, the working team and themselves. Ensure that employees have the opportunity to be a part of building this narrative so that they will take ownership over the work and be more motivated, and therefore more productive.

Here are some tips for building a positive work culture:

  1. Foster social connections. Positive social connections bring many benefits, including less sick leave, greater mental acuity and better job performance.
  2. Show empathy. Leaders who demonstrate compassion towards employees build resilience in challenging times.
  3. Go out of your way to help. When you make the effort to help your employees, they tend to pay it forward by cooperating with their colleagues more.
  4. Encourage people to talk to you. Helping your employees feel safe with you builds a culture of trust which leads to better learning and performance outcomes.

Source: Harvard Business Review

4. Encourage your employees to take breaks & relax

Many companies proclaim that they work hard, play hard. But even as many employees work hard, it is important for them to take regular breaks throughout the work day as there is only so much the brain can do before it plateaus and becomes less productive. In contrast, predictable time off improves productivity and morale.

Thus, be deliberate about scheduling downtime. During this time, encourage your employees to be active by engaging in stretching, light exercise and even simple yoga moves. This will help your team relax and return to their work with greater focus and clarity of mind. This is known as goal reactivation, whereby a brief intermission while working on a task allows you to think globally of what you’re trying to achieve and stay mindful to your objectives, which makes for better performance overall.

5. Help your team members know each other better

Social/cultural and contextual barriers can prevent your employees from sharing knowledge with each other and approaching each other for information, ideas and resources. This can be a hindrance to productivity. Internal knowledge sharing and seamless collaboration can prevent time wasted on doing research online, making the same mistakes over and over again, and communication breakdowns. Studies have shown that companies can generate savings by facilitating the transfer of advice and information between colleagues.

In order to break down these barriers, have a network perspective and take active steps to encourage your employees to interact and learn from one another. Here are some activities that facilitate team bonding that you can do to help your team members get to know each other better:

  1. Take a field trip. Have an annual field day where you get together offiste with food, silly games and prizes.
  2. Get together to give back. Have volunteer outings with local non-profit organisations. Allow your employees to take ownership of the process as this will give them the opportunity to work together in a different context and learn about each other.
  3. Professional development. Send your team for a professional development activity, or invite someone from another company to share their advice and insights.
  4. Share your strengths. Use tools such as Strengths Finder and find fun ways to share each person’s results, for instance by having everyone suggest a celebrity or famous character that best represents them.
  5. Show and tell. At your monthly meeting, set aside 10 minutes at the start for people to share about an item that they have brought that represents themselves.

Source: The Muse

Now that you’ve broken the ice, fruitful collaboration will come a lot easier for your team members.

6. Leverage technology & software

Without a doubt, a key way of raising output while minimizing time and resources expanded is to work smart by leveraging technology & software. Opening a file and manually flipping through tabs to search out the document you are looking for is not the most optimal use of your time. Placing your documents in the cloud where you can easily search for them will save you time. For notetaking during meetings, you can use Evernote to file your meeting notes according to the projects or topics they relate to. If you are collaborating with other team members, working on Google Drive will allow you to see each other’s updates real time.

Related reading: Our CEO’s favourite productivity tools

At the organisational level, accelerating the digitisation of your business processes is the way to go.

If you’re looking for a way to draft legal documents more efficiently, Dragon Law’s web app does just that. As a Dragon Law subscriber, you get access to our document library where you can select documents to customise to your specific needs using our easy-to-navigate Q&A interface. No more manually seeking out the highlighted portions that you have to edit and then going through the document over and over again to make sure you didn’t miss anything! Organising your legal documents in folders in the cloud also allows you to easily access your legal documents when you need them.

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At the end of the day, productivity is not just about stretching your employees thin by making them do more with less. Rather, it is about breaking down the barriers that hinder efficiency and effectiveness, and facilitating the interactions that drive better outcomes.

What tips do you have for improving productivity in the workplace?

Let us know in the comments below!

The 5 Hong Kong Government Grants For Small Businesses You Need to Know

July 24, 2017

Running a small business in Hong Kong or looking to start one there? Given that it is consistently ranked among the top in the world for economic competitiveness and has a straightforward business incorporation process that can be completed in five to seven days, Hong Kong is a popular destination for business owners.

Related reading: 5 reasons to set up your business in Hong Kong

These business benefits are not just limited to large MNCs and other big businesses. Small businesses also stand to benefit, what with a slew of resources and grants that the government provides for small businesses. Here, we identify the top 5 government grants for small businesses, so make sure you don’t miss out!

1. Level up your productivity & tech-savviness with the Innovation and Technology Fund (ITF)

In his 2017 Policy Address earlier this year, Chief Executive CY Leung announced that the government had invested $18 billion on measures to attract innovation and technology enterprises from Hong Kong and elsewhere. The Innovation and Technology Fund (ITF) that which is administered by the Innovation and Technology Commission introduces a range of support schemes to strengthen productivity and competitiveness among Hong Kong companies.

Among these, the Technology Voucher Programme (TVP) that was introduced in November 2016 subsidises the use of technology by SMEs to improve productivity or upgrade business processes. The TVF funds up to $200,000 for each eligible enterprise, provided on a 2:1 matching basis, and can be used to engage a technology consultant, or purchase, rent or subscribe to customised hardware, software and technology services, among other things.

Apply for the Technology Voucher Programme.

Related reading: The 6 Singapore Government Grants For Small Businesses You Need to Know

2. Connect with mentors and acquire resources for social enterprises with the SIE Fund

The Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Fund (SIE Fund) provides resources to organisations that address poverty and social exclusion through innovative solutions. The SIE Fund is allocated through a number of different intermediaries which administer programmes in the priority areas of Capacity Building and Innovative Programmes.

Source: SIE

Some of the initiatives under the SIE Fund include Impact Incubator, which connects social enterprises with resources to develop business schools, and Fast Forward, a structured 3-month programme to support early stage social enterprises in growing and scaling their impact on poverty alleviation in Hong Kong.

Learn more about the various programmes under the SIE Fund.

3. Protect your company’s invention by securing your IP rights with the Patent Application Grant

Intellectual property (IP) is a core asset of every business and has the potential to become one of the most valuable assets of your business when managed properly. Under the Patent Application Grant, the Innovation and Technology Commission with Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC) assists local companies and individuals to apply for patents of their own inventions. All applications for functional patents and inventions with technological elements and industrial application are eligible. Under this grant, a company can receive a grant of up to HK$250,000 or 90% of the sum of the total direct cost of the patent application and the administration fee charged by the HKPC, whichever is lower.

Learn more about the Patent Application Grant here.

Want to learn more about the different categories of IP and how you register a trade mark?

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4. Fight economic downturns with the SME Loan Guarantee Scheme (SGS)

Afraid that your business has got everything going for it only to be badly hit by the next economic downturn? This is a valid concern, given that SME loan applications fell by 37% in the first half of 2016 amidst the economic slowdown. The government has helpfully put together various resources and funding schemes to support SMEs in exactly this type of scenario.

One of these funding schemes, the SME Loan Guarantee Scheme (SGS) provides loan guarantee to SMEs to aid them in securing loans from participating lending institutions (PLIs), which includes commercial banks, for acquiring business equipment or meeting general working capital needs. Under the scheme, the government provides a guarantee to the PLIs so that they can lend money to SMEs which do not have sufficient assets to secure bank loans.

Learn more about the SME Loan Guarantee Scheme.

5. Expand your business into markets abroad with the SME Export Marketing Fund (EMF)

The SME Export Marketing Fund (EMF) provides financial assistance to SMEs participating in export promotion activities in order to encourage SMEs to expand their markets beyond Hong Kong. For each grant that covers one export promotion activity, your business can get up to 50% of the total approved expenditure incurred or $50,000, whichever is less. Each business may receive up to $200,000 of EMF grants altogether, and there is no limit on the number of applications each business can submit.

Find out whether your business qualifies for the SME Export Marketing Fund here.

Do you tap on any government grants that are missing from this list?

Let us know in the comments below!

Benefits of Flexible Work Practices

Once considered a taboo in the Asian working culture, flexible work arrangements are now garnering a lot of traction in the workplace in recent years.

Based on the report, Work-Life Design, The New Balance, by recruitment specialist Kelly Services, “70% of talent in Singapore see flexible work arrangements as positively impacting work-life balance.” Furthermore, their findings indicated that 77% of the workers in the Asia-Pacific region consider work-life balance as an important factor when deciding where to work.

Likewise, workplace flexibility is no longer a gender issue. Women in Singapore want to be able to juggle their family and career while men want to be able to pursue their personal needs. Thus, employers in Singapore are seeing the need to keep up with this innovative workplace benefit in order to attract and retain talents.

Feeling cynical about flexible working arrangements within your organisation? Here are some benefits of implementing a flexible work practice within your company.

Productive Workforce

A flexible work arrangement allows employees to take a break whenever they need to without incurring the wrath of their bosses. Furthermore, it allows employees to work in an environment that is conducive in enhancing their productivity. Likewise, greater flexibility prevents employees from feeling compelled to stay back after office hours, thus allowing them to get sufficient rest to boost their work performance.

Better Teamwork

Exercising the same flexible work arrangements across the board isolates exclusivity and resentment as everyone is offered the same flexibility. With that, it encourages everyone to help pitch in whenever someone is away. This creates a more supportive and connected team within the company.

Happier Employees

A flexible work arrangement allows employees to set their own schedules. In turn, this allows them to pursue their own interests outside of work. Additionally, it provides them time to take on outside courses or learn new skills that might be beneficial to their personal growth and career development.

Wider Talent Pool

With more workers ranking flexible work arrangement as a major attraction factor, offering this benefit might actually increase your talent pool. In addition, it can open up a more diverse range of talents as the talent pool is now not closed off to those who can take 9-to-5 jobs. This could mean hiring stay-home mothers or people with slight disabilities etc.

Reduced Turnover

Flexible work arrangements translate to happier and productive employees which in turn lead to reduced turnover rates. After all, the grass is already much greener within the company. There is no need for them to look for greener pastures elsewhere.
While the benefits of flexibility within the workplace are widely known, the challenge lies in implementing them within the company to avoid complications. Additionally, frequent communication to your employees is essential to avoid making them feel disengaged. There are many ways of implementing flexible work arrangements within the organisation. The key here is to find an arrangement that best fits your company culture.

This is a guest post from RenQun Huang at Gpayroll
Want to read more articles related to payroll, HR & technology? Visit us at Gpayroll

The lowdown on bring your own device policies

July 21, 2017

Bring your own device (BYOD) policies are increasingly popular among companies both big and small for a range of reasons. Startups and small businesses may not have the resources to invest in the necessary digital devices for every new employee they hire, while employees in larger companies which issue a new laptop to every employee might prefer to use a device they are familiar with. With the average employee more eager to use his or her own personal device than before, it is crucial that companies give careful thought to whether to implement a BYOD Policy and how to go about doing so.

What is a BYOD Policy?

A Bring Your Own Device Policy is a set of rules governing the use of employee-owned electronic devices at work, including devices such as personal computers (PCs), smartphones and tablets. A BYOD Policy will outline the company’s position and governance on the use of such devices and will ensure that the company’s network security is not compromised.

Source: IT Training Solutions

Should I implement a BYOD Policy?

It is important to weigh both the benefits and the risks of a BYOD Policy for your company before making your decision.

Some of the benefits of a BYOD Policy include the following:

    • Increased productivity: As employees are more familiar with their own devices, they will be able to work more productively using a device that suits their own needs as opposed to learning how to navigate an operating system that needs getting used to;
    • Lower costs:Providing company-issued devices to every new employee incurs significant costs, and removing this category of expenditure would free up resources;
    • Convenience: Rather than travelling with several devices to satisfy their home and work needs, employees can simply work with a single device.

The challenges and risks of a BYOD Policy include the following:

      • Cost: While some startups think of BYOD policies as a way of cutting costs by avoiding having to incur expenditure on company-issued devices, employees would expect the company to cover the work-related costs associated with using their own devices. This would include the cost of data plans, business-related phone calls, or the costs of onboarding users and their devices;
      • Policy & training: Any employee using his or her own device would inevitably have to adhere to certain guidelines or limits that your company imposes. It would be beneficial for your company to provide training or online educational tools to educate your employees about these expectations, so as to ensure employees take proper care of corporate data and are aware that exposing the company to potential legal risks is unacceptable;
      • Security: Given that you are potentially giving your employees the opportunity to access confidential information and sensitive data on their own devices, it is important to put in place the proper protections to secure such information. This includes identity authentication and steps to take should an information breach occur;
      • Privacy: While you may wish to exercise some degree of oversight over the way your employee accesses and manages information on his personal device, it is important that the management system you put in place does not infringe on your employees’ privacy.

Adapted from Search Mobile Computing

Ultimately, it is a matter of weighing up whether your company can afford to manage the risks and costs associated with implementing a BYOD Policy.

How can I implement a BYOD Policy?

Other than briefing your employees who have opted to bring their own device on your expectations and the relevant company procedures, it is crucial to put in a place a formal BYOD Policy to ensure that everyone is on the same page. A BYOD Policy sets out your company’s rights in determining how data should be used and protected, including during the period after the employee no longer works for your company.

In addition, a BYOD Policy defines the rights and duties between your company and your employees. The BYOD Policy should lay out clearly what the permissible and impermissible uses of personal devices on the corporae network are, as well as the terms of eligibility for using your own device and the supported devices and app.

To balance between exercising oversight of your employee’s access of sensitive data and your employee’s right to privacy, it is important to define your company’s right to access your employee’s device for security reasons. It is also important to determine the relevant procedures should something go wrong, such as the disciplinary consequences for policy violations like a breach of data.

When drafting a BYOD Policy, it is important to focus on a number of key clauses, in particular:

        • Details of your company;
        • Details of the employee who is acknowledging and signing this policy;
        • Activities included as acceptable business use;
        • Video or camera capabilities allowed on the device;
        • Applications allowed while using the device;
        • Excluded applications while using the device;
        • Manner by which the passwords are controlled; and
        • Amount of time before the device is locked if idle.

 

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Do you have any tips for implementing a BYOD Policy?

Share with us in the comments below!

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