A few quick tips on avoiding fraud from our Bookkeeping & Reporting advisors
No one likes to think that their company will be the victim of fraud, but it does happen, causing unnecessary stress and, too often, financial hardship. While there is no way to totally protect yourself against this new and menacing ‘F’ word, there are a few simple tasks that should be performed regularly that can help minimize the risk to your organization.
Bank and credit card statements
- Statements should be opened immediately upon receipt or review via online banking. Make sure this happens on a regular basis. Check with your financial institution if you find any items, however small, that you do not recognize. A small fraudulent charge may be a precursor to a larger one.
- Where possible, the person who prepares checks and processes payments in your organization should not be responsible for reconciling bank and credit card accounts. Often just knowing that someone else will be reviewing the account can be a deterrent to fraudsters. If your staff number is small, consider outsourcing this task.
- Petty cash should be reconciled on a regular basis and signed off by a supervisor. Receipts should accompany all charges.
- Inventory spot checking is a good way to discourage internal theft and easy if you have a perpetual inventory.
- Restrict personal internet use on company computers to minimize the risk of hacking and viruses.
With the implementation of a few controls, you may be able to prevent fraud from occurring, or at least stop it before it causes greater financial loss.
An income tax form is like a laundry list - either way you lose your shirt. - Fred Allen
Death and taxes and childbirth! There’s never any convenient time for any of them! - Margaret Mitchell
I am thankful for the taxes I pay because it means that I'm employed. - Nancie J. Carmody
How to recruit ideal talent in today's competitive market, from the MRSB Consulting Services team
Ask any young person in the midst of his or her job search and they will likely tell you, "It's a tough time to find work!" This is undoubtedly true, but just as relevant is the challenge faced by employers looking for that special someone to join their team. It might seem contradictory, but the numbers show that many Canadian companies are having a heck of a time recruiting top talent.
So how does one get ahead when searching for Mr. or Ms. Ideal Employee? Well, part of it is to make prospective ones feel as warm and fuzzy about your product or service, management and culture as you do. The potential for promotion and great leadership are now seen less as incentives and more as expected standards. According to a 2013 article from The Globe and Mail, what the under 30-something crowd is looking for is (at least partly) defined by a few qualities: work-life balance, the company's reputation in the greater community and the quality of workplace environment. There are multiple ways you can highlight these positive attributes within your business, upping your chances of a dream employee brightening your doorway.
This is obviously a big one. Today’s office jockey, no matter how much they strive to make each work day count, demands that their home life not only exist but that their employer recognize ("celebrate" might be too far out even in 2014) it as a crucial part of what makes him so productive in the first place.
As stated by Indeed.com’s director of recruiting in a recent Forbes article, “Work-life balance feeds passion for the workplace and contributes to a better overall work environment and morale…In turn, [employees] are happier, more committed, more productive and therefore will likely stay with the company for a longer period of time.”
What exactly makes for this perfect parity between office and out-of-office-reply? Successful ‘big’ companies who obtain and retain a skilled and dedicated workforce implement perks like flexible work hours (up to and including unlimited vacation time!), the ability to telecommute, on-site or nearby childcare and assistance programs for family-related issues.
Is your business on board with most – or any – of these initiatives? If not, draft a list of balance-enhancing tactics that might work and discuss them with your partners, staff or a consultant to figure out which ones have wings.
In this lightning-fast world of nonstop Internet access, social media engagement and Joe Consumer's ability to shout his praises or air his grievances in a completely confidential, free and round-the-clock manner, it’s no wonder that most businesses develop a name for themselves that is largely out of the control of even its most devoted media personnel. A 2013 survey given by CR Magazine to over 1,000 employed and unemployed Americans found that a majority would refuse to take a job with a company that had a bad reputation. Of the employed people polled, over half said that a 50 -100 per cent increase in salary would make up for the bad publicity. This raises the question as to why you would choose to drastically boost salaries in favor of ensuring your business is seen in a glowing light by consumers. Seems like a no brainer on this end.
And while poor customer reviews are one thing, what can just as easily kill a company’s prospects for top recruits today is a lack of social responsibility, or community-mindedness. A 2007 study by Scotiabank found that 70 per cent of Canadians would consider changing jobs if their employer failed to operate in a socially responsible way (HRM Online, 2013). As noted by Forbes, corporate social responsibility (CSR) often acts as a “lever” for drawing in and engaging employees. “As consumers are ever more concerned with where products come from, employees now want more from their employer than a paycheque. They want a sense of pride and fulfillment from their work, a purpose and importantly a [company] whose values match their own,” writes consultant Jeanne Meister.
Just as a significant boost in pay might make up for a company’s poor social reputation, job seekers seem increasingly willing to take a pay cut in exchange for a position that gives them a sense of purpose and the potential to make an impact. How can the average employer show candidates that theirs is the office where this can happen? It may be argued that the modern definition of CSR involves a whole lot more than risk-aversion. Today’s businesses are doing things like embracing environmental initiatives through ‘green’ and paperless workplaces, donating significant money and staff time to charities, fundraising and community-minded events, and partnering with like-minded neighbors to brainstorm new ways of giving back. And let’s not forget – today’s socially conscious company has no qualms about shouting their activities from the rooftops (a.k.a. Twitter and LinkedIn).
The right work environment
When it comes down to it, the most important factor for most people in deciding whether to stay or to go is how their job makes them feel, each and every day they come in to work. The old adage, "you catch more flies with honey" applies to individuals and management teams alike, and the wrong message to employees can mean faster turnaround rates and more time and money spent on recruitment for you.
Pride comes with ownership. In the office and at a desk this means feeling a real sense of responsibility for what one does and for how one contributes to his or her employer’s goals. According to James Heskett, Earl Sasser and Joe Wheeler, authors of The Ownership Quotient (2008), there are five “culture-building actions” companies should take to enhance corporate culture and hence, employee engagement:
- Develop strong leadership: Ensure the business remains focused on goals, values and its vision.
- Invest in culture: Celebrate team achievements and reward individual accomplishment.
- Get your workforce on board: Ask employees to evaluate and express opinions about the decisions of their leaders.
- Sanction bad customer/client behavior: Managers should make the decision to stop working with those whose demands are impossible to satisfy.
- Keep on changing: Review and redefine your core values and behaviors regularly.
Apart from ownership, there are plenty of other important, culture-boosting tactics to sustain that ‘full belly’ feeling among employees:
- Appreciation and recognition in the form of rewards for good performance, funded staff events and a good old fashioned slap on the back now and then
- Career development opportunities and a strategic method for performance reviews and promotion
- Keeping up with the Joneses in terms of implementing innovative technologies (not for the sake of appearing cool but to enhance your workers’ efficiency and pleasure at doing their day-to-day tasks)
- On a similar note, providing open, flexible workspaces that allow for sitting and standing, computer screens and white boards, collaboration and alone time and of course, sufficient lighting and comfortable temperatures
- Open communication between all staff at all levels. This might include team building exercises, monthly lunches between entry level staff and upper management, or town hall meetings where everyone is encouraged to bring an idea or a question to the group
- Encouraging employees to raise their professional profiles via paid training sessions, subsidized education or in-house mentorship
If all this advice failed to give you something to think about for your next recruitment campaign, you’re probably doing a lot right already! If, instead, this article caused you a moment of panic, feel free to contact Business Manager Kathryn Mills to find out how we can help you address your recruitment needs. Not to toot our own horn, but we think we have the right idea when it comes to recruiting team members who are happy to be here and who, even outside the office walls, tell people that we’re doing good things. And hey, taking pride in your team is the first step toward encouraging a culture of excellence at your workplace, right? Happy hunting!
Our Accounting & Audit team shares their personal experiences from this exciting celebration of music
When we heard that the ECMAs were making their way to PEI this year, we were as excited as anyone. Well before the festivities began, MRSB Accounting & Audit decided to volunteer as a team with East Coast Music Week. We were soon sending emails back and forth with an ECMW organizer and putting together a schedule of staff participation.
Now that it's all over, we can look back with a smile to some great memories made. In case you’re thinking about giving some of your time to next year’s ECMW (or maybe PEI’s next hosted one), here are some thoughts on the experience from our volunteers, who did everything from artist registration to filling seats…
One of the performers, Irish Mythen, told us we were AWESOME! It was my first time volunteering at an event like this and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
I had a wonderful experience volunteering at the ECMAs. I was a bit nervous beforehand as I was placed on merchandising. My task was to sell t-shirts and CDs from the various artists participating at the ECMAs. My apprehension came from the fact that I was not familiar with a lot of the talent being showcased. That fear was short lived as a lot of the individuals for whom I was selling merchandise actually came up to the table to see how the sales were going so I was able to meet a number of them and learn a great deal about their music. Also, I was able to actually hear a number of the bands perform from where we were set up. The east coast truly has an abundance of extremely talented individuals. They were all very friendly and very appreciative of the volunteers. One of the performers, Irish Mythen, told us we were AWESOME! It was my first time volunteering at an event like this and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Oh and I got to meet Jimmy Rankin!!
I was assigned to the registration table where the artists received their passes, goodie bags and tickets for events. This was also where festival goers picked up their pre-purchased passes. Although the shifts I worked were not very busy the people I met were very nice, both artists and festival goers! My co-volunteers were great to work with, too. I also spent some time at the door of the Songwriters Circle, which was a blast as I got to meet and talk to a lot of different, interesting people. We were also able to enjoy some great music throughout our shifts.
I worked three shifts at the merchandise table and had a great time! The booth was located not far from the Opportunity Stage in the lobby bar area of the Delta, so we were lucky to hear many different artists perform. I heard some very talented people that I might never have had the chance to otherwise. My co-volunteers were lots of fun and we met many of the artists when they dropped off their CDs and other items to sell and then again on Sunday when they were picking up what was left. They were happy to chat and everyone I spoke with said that they had enjoyed a terrific weekend. A few artists gave CDs as a “thank-you” which was unnecessary, because I totally enjoyed myself!
I found a notebook on the floor under the merchandise table on Thursday night that belonged to an artist, Kim Wempe. It had some notes and lyrics to a song in it! .... I found her on social media and sent a message to let her know... and received a reply later that I had “saved her life!” Just PEI hospitality in action.
One story – I found a notebook on the floor under the merchandise table on Thursday night that belonged to an artist, Kim Wempe. It had some notes and lyrics to a song in it! After checking the schedule, and finding out that she was playing at the Globe that night, I ran down the street and left it with another volunteer to give to her. I found her on social media and sent a message to let her know it was there, and received a reply later that I had “saved her life!” Just PEI hospitality in action.
I took in a couple of Eastlink All Access live TV shows. It was interesting to see how a show is put together and all of the moving parts it takes to bring it to your TV. From the stage crew to the lights, director, audio personnel and the hosts, everyone must be ready to do their part for a successful show. Although a little camera shy, some may have seen me in the live studio audience on Eastlink TV when the cameraman would do a panoramic shot of the audience. I was the good looking chap in the third row!
Even though we are in our busiest season at MRSB (tax time) it was great to get out into the community and volunteer at the ECMAs. I had an opportunity to meet some wonderful people as all the other volunteers I worked with were very friendly. I also took time to enjoy some of the east coast talent at one of the venues and had a wonderful time.
I really enjoyed the experience of volunteering with the ECMAs. The other volunteers were friendly and helpful as I had no experience with procedures involved. The ECMA staff were always quick with a smile and a “thank you”.
I had a great time working with both my fellow volunteers and with my colleagues from MRSB Group! During the weekend I worked at registration for artists (where they picked up their info) and also at the marketing table. Both areas were a little slow at times but there were lots of people around and I heard some great music from the lobby of the Delta.
So there you have it – if you’re looking for fun, some fast friendships and lots of good tunes, try your hand at being an ECMW volunteer. It was well worth our time!