INSIGHTS BLOG

Discover how to help your employees achieve personal success.

  • Successful Onboarding Helps Retain Those Employees You Worked Hard to Recruit


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    We all know how time consuming and exhausting it is to read through hundreds of resumes and interview candidates day after day. After all of that hard work, finding a new employee who fits the company culture and has great work experience is so rewarding. That feeling of euphoria though can turn to panic when you newly-hired employee turns in their resignation just a few weeks later.

    Keeping employees is one of the biggest challenges we hear about from the small business leaders we work with. Improving your onboarding experience by helping the new employee get up to speed quickly and making transition a positive experience will help you retain more of your new employees.

    Here are a few tips to help you get started immediately:

    Improve your onboarding experience

    • Ask your current employees (especially those that started within the last year) how long it took for them to feel like they were a part of the team. This will give you an idea of how much your current onboarding system needs to be improved.
    • Have employees who will be working closely with the new hire contact them before they start, just to introduce themselves and welcome them to the team.
    • Connect with the new employee on LinkedIn and encourage their coworkers to do the same.
    • Make sure the new employee has a reviewed a copy of their job description so they know what will be expected of them.
    • If you have not already done so, introduce the employee to their direct supervisor and provide them with contact information such as phone and email.

    Get the new employee up to speed quickly

    • Provide the employee with an idea of what they can expect on their first day. Where should they come when they arrive? Who should they ask for? What should they wear? Will they be provided a lunch?
    • If you have an employee newsletter or even some marketing materials that explain a little about your company, send those to new employee before their first day.
    • Help the employee understand some of the jargon associated with your industry you’re your company. New employees may not be familiar with the way your company communicates. Providing them with some of these common terms helps them understand and communicate better early on.
    • Make sure the employee has the tools they need to perform their job.

    Extend the onboarding experience beyond the first day week or even month

    • Remember there is no set time for how long an employee is fully assimilated in their new position. It could take up to a year if the employee is new to the company and has a challenging position.  If an employee is taking on a new role, it may only take them six months.
    • Check in with your new employee frequently to make sure they are not overloaded with work. This will also help you give and receive feedback in real-time.

    Research shows that being more intentional and structured during the on-boarding process can help stave off early turnover. A case study by Corning Glass Works, for example, found that  employees who attended a structured orientation program were 69 percent more likely to stay with the company for three years. That’s probably because good onboarding sets clear expectations for employees and equips them for success, which means they’re less likely to encounter surprises that cause stress and dissatisfaction in their work.

    If you are looking for some additional resources improve your onboarding experience, check out our Onboarding Toolkit. Also register for our upcoming webinar, Why Are Your New Hires Leaving So Soon?: Improving Your Onboarding Experience.

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    A Plus BenefitsSuccessful Onboarding Helps Retain Those Employees You Worked Hard to Recruit
  • Improve Employee Morale and Productivity by Encouraging Saying No


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    Imagine you have an entire team of employees who are always eager and willing to accept new projects. So much so that you hardly ever hear someone say no. Sounds great, right? Maybe, but what if these employees are saying yes to a fault. Consider perhaps that if they are saying yes to everything, they are often saying yes to the wrong things.

    All humans want to be liked. And in the workplace, balancing social relationships with working relationships creates a complicated ecosystem where sometimes employees say yes to things that distract them from the real important pieces of their job. This can lead to employee burnout, as employees continue to say yes, taking on more and more tasks that are having little impact on the larger goals of the organization. One of the main drivers of employee engagement and satisfaction is the ability to connect everyday tasks to bigger goals. Empowering employees to speak their mind about how they view the value of the work they are doing also provides additional autonomy and accountability, two things that high performing employees crave.

     

    A recent article from the Harvard Business Review provides some tips on developing a culture that empowers employees to say no.

     

    Establish a value assessment system.
    Rather than encouraging employees to say yes or no to certain tasks, encourage them to rate the value that task provides to their ultimate goals Employees can then rank their work and as new assignments creep up, they can be placed in the ranking system, with a clear understanding of what Time and attention are finite resources. If we have an employee working at their perfect capacity (quality, quantity and employee morale and all good) and then they are asked to do something else, the current list will suffer. That is to say, something will have to be taken of the list or at least pushed down the priority scale. When employees are presented with a new task, they should be comfortable saying, “Yes, I will take care of that, but it will be at the expense of something else.”

     

    Give each employee the authority to make these decisions and have these discussions, so leaders are not spending time managing the workload of everyone. Help employees determine which tasks push the company toward their goals and which ones are less important.


    Pay attention to warning signs

    Don’t be afraid to abandon a project that is going nowhere. Encourage employees to speak up if they feel a project is going south. Recognize when a project should be adjusted or abandoned altogether. If you do abandon a project, be sure to do a post-mortem meeting with your team to identify what you could learn from the project in order to prevent it in the future.

    Celebrate saying no.
    It is easy to say no to things that are truly bad. But what about those thing that are good, but not great enough to pursue. That is where many leaders and teams struggle. Sometimes there are project or tasks that have merit, but they aren’t the most important thing to tackle at that exact moment. Saying no to these good, but not great things gives your team the space to grow and expand upon those truly great things that help you reach your goals quickly.

    Saying no can be hard, but fine-tuning where you and your team put your attention will help you find greater success. Want to know more about the impact that saying no can have on your business and your life? Check out the book Essentialism by Greg McKeown.

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    A Plus BenefitsImprove Employee Morale and Productivity by Encouraging Saying No
  • Eight Simple First-aid Tips That Could Save an Employee’s Life


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    Thousands of employees are killed or suffer serious injuries at work every year. Yet, a staggering 58 percent of employees are unfamiliar with their organization’s health and safety practices, according to a study conducted by international safety barrier manufacturer, A-SAFE.

    Review these eight simple first-aid tips with your employees to ensure that your whole team is capable of providing aid to co-workers if necessary:

    1. Unresponsive and not breathing
    • Check breathing by tilting their head backwards and looking and feeling for breaths.
    • Call 911 as soon as possible.
    • Place the victim on his or her back on a flat surface. Make sure the person’s airway is clear.
    • Place the heel of one hand over the center of the chest, and your other hand on top of the first. Using your upper body weight, forcefully push straight down on the chest at a fast pace. Continue compressions until paramedics arrive (unless instructed differently by medical personnel over the phone).
    • If you are well-trained in CPR and feel confident in your abilities, you may alternate two rescue breaths for each set of 30 chest compressions (unless instructed otherwise by medical personnel over the phone).
    1. Unresponsive and breathing
    • Check breathing by tilting their head backwards and looking and feeling for breaths.
    • Move them onto their side and tilt their head back.
    • Call 911, as soon as possible.
    1. Choking
    • Stand behind the choking person and wrap your arms around his or her waist. Bend the person slightly forward.
    • Make a fist with one hand and place it slightly above the person’s navel.
    • Grasp your fist with the other hand and press hard into the abdomen with a quick, upward thrust.
    • Repeat this procedure until the object is expelled from the airway.
    • If you must perform this maneuver on yourself, position your own fist slightly above your navel. Grasp your fist with your other hand and thrust upward into your abdomen until the object is expelled.
    • Call 911, if necessary.
    1. Heavy bleeding
    • Using a clean dry cloth, put pressure on the wound to stop or slow down the flow of blood.
    • Call 911, as soon as possible.
    • Keep pressure on the wound until help arrives.
    1. Burns
    • If the skin is not broken, run cool water over the burn for several minutes.
    • Cover the burn with a sterile bandage or clean cloth.
    • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever to relieve any swelling or pain.
    • Do not place any creams or ice on the burned area.
    • Seek emergency treatment for more serious burns immediately.
    1. Broken bone
    • Have the person support the injury with his or her hand, or use a cushion or items of clothing to prevent unnecessary movement.
    • Call 911, as soon as possible.
    • Continue supporting the injury until help arrives.
    1. Shock
    • Call 911, as soon as possible.
    • Have the victim lie down on his or her back and elevate the feet higher than the head. Keep the victim from moving unnecessarily.
    • Keep the victim warm and comfortable. Loosen tight clothing and cover him or her with a blanket.
    • Do not give the victim anything to drink.
    • If he or she is vomiting or bleeding from the mouth, place the victim on his or her side to prevent choking.
    • Treat any other injuries appropriately.
    • Begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if victim is not breathing.
    1. Nosebleed
    • Have the victim sit or stand upright to slow the flow of blood in the nose. Do NOT tip the head back.
    • Gently pinch the nose with your thumb and forefinger for 10 minutes, maintaining pressure. Have the victim breathe through the mouth during this time.
    • Seek medical care if bleeding lasts for more than 20 minutes or if the nosebleed resulted from a broken nose or head trauma.

    Reminding employees about the importance of safety and looking out for one another should be a regular practice. Visit our Risk Management Toolbox website for more resources to make safety a priority at your organization. If you are interested in formal first aid training for your team, please contact our Safety Director Reed Balls at rballs@aplusbenefits.com. Keep each other safe.

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    A Plus BenefitsEight Simple First-aid Tips That Could Save an Employee’s Life
  • Five Ways to Immediately Improve Your Interview Process


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    Making a bad hiring decision is one of the biggest fears of many small business leaders. That fear is justified. The cost of just one bad hire is estimated to be two and a half times the cost of the employee’s annual salary. A bad hire can impact the morale and productivity of your other employees as well as your reputation with your customers. Improving your interviewing process is one of the best ways to make sure that you avoid bad hires and add only the very best employees to your team. Here are five simple things you can do to immediately improve your interviewing process:

    Avoid common interview questions
    Candidates these days usually have an idea of the typical questions they may be asked. A quick Google search of interview questions will probably pull up a list that looks something like what you are currently working from. This allows candidates to prepare answers in advance so have their best answers, or what they think you want to hear prepared. Instead:

    • Ask about different job-related scenarios such as:
      • Tell me about a time when you had to complete a project with very little direction. How did it go? What did you like? What didn’t you like?
      • Tell me about a time when you had to work on a project you were not passionate about. How did you handle it?
    • Ask questions that help you understand how they think such as:
      • If you could be a superhero, which would you be and why?
      • What is your favorite book and why?
      • What is your favorite place to take a vacation and why?
    • Ask about their previous jobs such as:
      • What did you like least about your most recent job?
      • Who was your favorite boss?
    • Ask about future plans such as:
      • What are your long-term goals? (5 or 10 years from now)
      • If you could take a class to learn something new, what would it be?

    Don’t stay in the conference room.
    An interview doesn’t have to take place only in your conference room or your office. Take the opportunity to get outside the typical interview environment.

    • Give the candidate on a tour of the office and see how they interact with employees. You can pay attention to the candidate’s interest in the company and see if they fit the company culture.
    • Take the candidate out for lunch or coffee and get to know them better. You can see how comfortable the employee is carrying on a conversation and see how they treat others, such as your server.

    Get more than one opinion about the candidate
    Invite other employees to sit in the interview, including some individuals who may be working with the new employee or those that have the same supervisor. Get the other employees’ feedback, since they may see or hear things you did not.

    Give a candidate a small project to complete
    Have the candidate complete a small project that relates to the job. This will give you a sense of what it would be like to work with the person since you cannot always tell when interviewing. Give only basic parameters and then let the candidate set the deadline for the project. This can help you see their work ethic and time management skills.

    Some red flags to consider
    Keep these things in mind as you interview potential job candidates. They can often be a good predictor of problems in the future if they occur in a job interview.

    • The candidate checks their phone often.
    • The candidate is late.
    • The candidate complains about previous employers or uses vulgar language.
    • The candidate comes with a list of things they are not willing to do.

    Finding the best employees is possible. With a few small tweaks, you can take your interview process from good to great, instantly. For more assistance or ideas on hiring, contact the HR team at A Plus Benefits.  You can also catch our upcoming webinar, The Five Best Hiring Hacks for Finding Rockstar Employees.

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    A Plus BenefitsFive Ways to Immediately Improve Your Interview Process
  • Prevent Heat Sickness as Temperatures Rise


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    Hot weather, especially when combined with strenuous physical labor, can cause body temperatures to rise to unsafe levels—leading to heat illnesses. Outdoor workers are especially vulnerable to heat-related illnesses because they spend the majority of the day outside in direct sunlight. Please share this information with your employees as the hot weather approaches.

    There are a variety of heat illnesses, including heat stroke, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat cramps. Each of these illnesses vary in symptoms and severity, but commonly cause dizziness, weakness, nausea, blurry vision, confusion or loss of consciousness.

    To stay safe from the heat when working outdoors, consider doing the following:

    • Wear loose, light-colored clothing whenever possible.
    • Shield your head and face from direct sunlight with a hat.
    • Take short breaks to rest in the shade. If you are wearing heavy protective gear, consider removing it during your break to cool off even more.
    • Ease into your work, gradually building up to more strenuous activity as the day progresses. In addition, you should avoid overexerting yourself during peak temperature periods (midday).
    • Drink liquids frequently, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Experts recommend drinking at least 8 ounces every 20 to 30 minutes to stay hydrated. Stick to water, fruit juice and sport drinks. Try to avoid caffeinated beverages, as they can dehydrate you.

    Employees should monitor themselves and co-workers on hot days. If you notice any signs of heat illness, notify your on-duty supervisor immediately.

    Most often, heat illness sufferers can be treated by being moved to a cooler area and given liquids. In extreme cases of heat stroke where an employee is unconscious, you will have to call an ambulance immediately.

    If you have questions about how you can keep your employees safe, contact our Safety Director Reed Balls at rballs@aplusbeneifts.com

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    A Plus BenefitsPrevent Heat Sickness as Temperatures Rise
  • What is Going on With Overtime Regulations?


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    Last year, discussion about changes to overtime regulations dominated a lot of discussions among employers. That all quickly came to a halt when the rule increasing the salary limits for certain white-collar workers which was scheduled to take effect December 1, 2016 was delayed by federal court injunction on November 22, 2016. Actions by President Trump since the beginning of the year suggest that the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) overtime rule change for white-collar employees is unlikely to ever come to fruition.

    That being said, there have been some suggested changes to overtime by the current members of the US House of Representatives. On May 2, 2017, the House of Representatives passed the Working Families Flexibility Act (also known as H.R. 1180). If approved, H.R. 1180 would authorize private employers to offer compensatory time instead of overtime pay for nonexempt employees who work more than 40 hours per week.

    What is Compensatory Time Off?
    Compensatory time off is already a common practice for many federal and state employers, but it is not currently allowed by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for private employers. H.R. 1180 would amend the FLSA to allow this practice, if certain conditions are met.

    Currently, the FLSA requires employers in the private sector to pay overtime wages to nonexempt employees for all hours of overtime worked. If approved, H.R. 1180 would amend the FLSA to allow private sector employers to provide either overtime pay or compensatory time off to nonexempt employees who work overtime hours.

    H.R. 1180 is proposing that compensatory time off be calculated at the rate of 1.5 hours of compensatory time off for every hour of overtime work. As it stands, H.R. 1180 would expire within five years of its enactment. In addition, the bill would limit the amount of compensatory time off eligible employees may receive to 160 hours.

    H.R. 1180 would only apply to private sector employers, meaning that if it were to be adopted, it would not affect current compensatory time off requirements for public sector (federal and state government) employees.

    Voluntary Agreement and Usage
    Under H.R. 1180, both employers and employees would have to agree to compensatory time off instead of overtime wages. In unionized environments, compensatory time off would have to be allowed by any applicable collective bargaining agreement. The agreement would need to be preserved in writing and take place before any compensatory time off begins to accrue.

    Finally, the language of H.R. 1180 would prohibit employers from coercing or forcing employees to agree to receive or use compensatory time off instead of overtime wages. This means that employers would not be allowed to directly or indirectly intimidate, threaten or coerce (or attempt to intimidate, threaten or coerce) employees to agree to receive or use any accrued compensatory time off.

    Eligibility
    Under H.R. 1180, employees would be eligible to receive compensatory time off after 1,000 hours of continuous employment during the previous 12 months.

    Payment for Unused Compensatory Time
    H.R. 1180 would require employers to allow employees to use any earned compensatory time off within a reasonable period, as long as this does not unduly disrupt the employer’s operations.

    However, employers would be required to provide monetary compensation to their employees for any compensatory time off that is not used by the end of the calendar year, although employers would be able to determine a different 12-month period as long as it remains consistent.

    Unused compensatory time would need to be paid at a rate that would at least be equal to the employee’s regular wage rate. The employee’s regular rate would be the higher of:

    The regular wage rate at the time the overtime work was performed; or

    The regular wage rate at the time the unused compensatory time off must be paid.

    Payment for unused compensatory time off would be required within a month of the end of the 12-month period.

    There are not currently any changes in the law. Compensatory time is still not allowed in lieu of overtime pay for private employers under the FLSA. H.R. 1180 needs approval from the Senate and the executive branch before it becomes law and there are likely to be changes made to the current proposal before that happens. We will continue to provide updates as they become available.

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    A Plus BenefitsWhat is Going on With Overtime Regulations?
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