Emerald Coast Business Briefs

Business Briefs 

Compiled by Jason Dehart

How to Handle a Disgruntled Employee
Workforce Central Florida offers these four common-sense tips for managing stressful encounters with angry employees:
1. Try to avoid hiring potential problem employees. Check references to make sure the potential employee seated across from you will be a reliable, safe and satisfied worker.
2. Establish a grievance policy.
3. Hire an Employee Assistance Program counselor.
4. Install a security/surveillance system.

Are You ‘Ready to Work’?

A new job-skills assessment program offered by WorkForce Plus gives private-sector job seekers a chance to have the state give its blessing to their professional qualifications.

The Ready To Work Program is a WorkForce Plus initiative funded through the Florida Department of Education. Here’s how it works: A job-seeker takes tests to assess his or her job skills. If he or she meets certain state standards, that person’s skill set will be officially certified by WorkForce Plus as being “ready to work.”

 “That certainly must give an employer some comfort,” said Bill Colledge, chairman of the WorkForce Plus board of directors.

“And how about the prospective employee? It certainly gives them maybe a little bit of an edge over the person standing next to them. It gives the employer a great signal that he is ready to go to work, and we think that’s very valuable as well.”


Taking a Home Office Deduction?

You may or may not be able to “write off” that home office you built back in that extra bedroom. You may be tempted to deduct many household expenses, but how are you supposed to know if you can take a home office deduction? Here are some guidelines from the IRS:

Generally speaking, expenses related to the rent, purchase, maintenance and repair of a personal residence are not deductible.

You may be able to take a home office deduction if you use part of your home for business purposes. Deductible expenses include the business portion of real estate taxes, mortgage interest, rent, utilities, insurance, painting, repairs and depreciation.

To claim a business deduction, you must use part of your home: 1. exclusively and regularly as your principal place of business, as a place to meet or deal with patients, clients or customers in the course of doing business, or in connection with your trade or business where there is a separate structure not attached to the home, or 2. on a regular basis for certain storage use such as inventory or product samples, as rental property or as a home daycare center.

If you work as an employee you can claim this deduction only if the “regular” and “exclusive” business use of the home is for the convenience of your employer and the portion of the home is not rented by the employer.

“Exclusive use” means a specific area of the home is used only for trade or business. “Regular use” means the area is used regularly for trade or business. Incidental or occasional business use is not regular use.

Non-business profit-seeking endeavors such as investment activities do not qualify for a home office deduction, nor do not-for-profit activities such as hobbies.


Did You Know?

According to the National Association of Realtors, almost 70 percent of all tax revenues raised by local governments in the United States are derived from property taxes. Homeowners contribute about 43 percent of property taxes and commercial property taxes account for the other 57 percent.


News Flash: Mental Health A Factor at Work

Don’t have a cow! You might find yourself saying that more often than not to a frazzled coworker – or he or she may be saying that about you. A recent survey by the Partnership for Workplace Mental Health and Meritain Health indicated that 94 percent of 411 full-time employees surveyed believe their stress level affects job performance.

The same national survey revealed that 52 percent of employees think their employer doesn’t address stress, work/life balance or mental/behavioral health with employees. Also, 40 percent said they aren’t aware of the mental or behavioral health benefits being offered by their employer.

“These survey results illustrate the need for employers to better make the connection between untreated mental health conditions and lost productivity, offer more comprehensive mental health benefits and better promote these benefits to their employees,” said Dr. Larry Luter, chief medical officer of Meritain Health in Buffalo, N.Y.

Meritain Health is an independent provider of services for self-funded health plans. The Partnership for Workplace Mental Health is a program of the American Psychiatric Foundation.