Discover how to help your employees achieve personal success.

  • The Wake of Sexual Harassment Terminations

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    Matt Lauer, John Conyers Jr., and many more high profile names on the list of men that have been terminated due to sexual harassment allegations. The #metoo movement, a place where victims can come out in the open, has rising numbers showing up on social media, bringing even more attention to this issue. SHRM asks, are companies reacting too quickly to avoid public relation disasters and not investigating or are things finally being done to resolve the issue?

    Investigating further, rather than immediately terminating an accused employee can avoid the filing of wrongful termination case or possible defamation. If you have credible evidence, it may be appropriate to fire the harasser. But, how should employers I handle an investigation?

    React quickly to the accusations by meeting with both parties. Ask questions, a lot of questions. Use a standard form for investigations. Be sensitive in the matter and get both parities sides of the story.  Write everything down- using a harassment form that is standard for your company can help you stay consistent and ask the right questions.  Get witnesses statements, if applicable.  If you need to suspend an employee during at this time do so instead of quickly firing them. If you are not comfortable or familiar with handling harassment claims, A Plus Benefits can step in and assist.

    However you handle the harassment, you need to be consistent with each case in the process, disciplinary actions, and terminations. Keep in mind that harassers can be either gender, so be careful not to assume that every male accused of harassment is guilty. Have a member of each opposite sex from human resources or management involved in the investigation. If this is not possible, have A Plus Benefits step in to assist. This step will help to ensure objectivity and fairness. Again, what is most important is that you are consistent with how you handle every incident.

    Having a plan in place with how you are going to handle a sexual harassment claim will help you handle it to the best of your ability. Take the SHRM quiz to test your knowledge about sexual harassment.  If you have questions about sexual harassment training for your employees or how to handlesa sexual harassment situation in your workplace, contact our HR experts at or (801) 443-1090.

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    A Plus BenefitsThe Wake of Sexual Harassment Terminations
  • Employer Rights During an OSHA Inspection

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    OSHA shows up at your door for a workplace inspection. What do you do?  Well first of all, if you are a client of A Plus Benefits, you should give us a call. Here are some other things to know from SHRM, in case you find yourself in this situation.

    As an employer you do have the right to refuse the OSHA inspection, but the inspector can get a warrant from a judge to grant them access, so it is probably not in your best interest to do so. Employers can ask the OSHA inspector to wait for a member of management or designated safety professional to arrive before entering the worksite. Work that can be observed from plain view such as construction on the building, an OSHA inspector can document violations they see without entering the property.

    Having a good relationship with OSHA inspectors can help the inspections go smoothly. Designating a certain employee to manage the inspection and has an understanding of what the inspection entails and things to be aware of can help your company stay out of hot water.

    Make sure you are courteous the inspector and find out the specific reason for the inspection.  You will want to accompany the OSHA office though the worksite. Be sure to limit the inspection to the specific issue that prompted the visit. If an OSHA officer is there to inspect pipes, but attempts to do a wall to wall inspection, the employer can push back and try to limit the scope. It is best to carefully document everything the OSHA inspector is inspecting, in writing and by taking pictures. If you take the inspector to an area in your workplace where employees are required to wear hard hats, make sure to remember to have the inspector wear a hard hat too. This will show the inspector you are serious about safety.  One thing to remember- anything that is said to the OSHA inspector, such as “I meant to fix that…” can be held against the company.

    Interviews are sometimes conducted by an inspector. When nonsupervisory employees are interviewed, they can be interviewed in private. When employees in supervisory positions are interviewed, they do have a right to have legal counsel or a manager present, since they are speaking on behalf of the company. If a manager admits to a violation, it is equivalent to the company admitting to the violation. Having legal counsel present will help ensure all questions are clear and answered appropriately.

    Being familiar with what to expect during an OSHA inspection and establishing a good relationship with the inspector will make the process easier. Being proactive with your safety procedures to prevent potential issues instead of waiting for an inspection can prevent a lot of headaches. Conducting routine inspections will help you find issues before they become a real issue.

    The A Plus Benefits Safety Director can help you establish a safety inspection routine and give you tips on what an OSHA inspector may be looking for. If you are interested in learning more about the services available through our risk management department, contact Nick Baird at or (801) 443-1090.

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    A Plus BenefitsEmployer Rights During an OSHA Inspection
  • 2018 Minimum Wage Changes

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    As 2018 approaches, there are some important changes in employment legislation to be aware of. Some states and cities are implementing new minimum wage rates in 2018. Some take effect January 1, while other change mid-year.

    These changes apply to nonexempt employees. As a reminder, a nonexempt employee is one who does not meet the Fair Labor Standards Act requirement to be exempt from minimum wage and overtime requirements.

    In some areas employers may be able to count tips an employee receives toward the minimum wage. In those areas, if the direct wage an employer pays an employee plus tips equal the minimum wage, an employer’s minimum wage obligation has been met. If not, the employer must pay the employee the difference.

    Utah is not experiencing a change in minimum wage. Here are some states that are:

    Click here to find out if the states your employees work in will experience minimum wage rate changes in 2018.

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    A Plus Benefits2018 Minimum Wage Changes
  • The Mental Health of Our Workplaces

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    Especially around the holidays, employees can experience problems due to the added stress of family obligations. The holidays are also a time when grief can creep back into our lives. While these things don’t necessarily create mental health issues, they can make them present themselves. Mental health has become a serious issue in society and therefore in our workplaces as well.

    According to Metal Health America, one in five adults have a mental health condition. That’s over 40 million Americans; more than the populations of New York and Florida combined. Additionally, 56% of American adults with a mental illness do not receive treatment. With these rising numbers, we are bound to have co-workers and employees who have some type of mental condition. It becomes necessary to create greater understanding and acceptance in the workplace and find the resources to assist those employees with their work-life balance.

    If you have an employee who you think might be struggling, it can be tempting to press them to ask “what’s wrong?”  But handling these situations carefully and choosing the correct words is important.

    What Not to Say                                                   Try Instead
    “How’s your health?”                                             “How can we help you do your job?”
    “You seem depressed.”                                         “You’re not your usual self.”
    “Snap out of it.”                                                      “Do you want to talk about it?”
    “Think positive.”                                                     “It’s always OK to ask for help.”
    “I know exactly what you’re going through.”          “It’s hard for me to understand exactly what you’re going through, but I can see that it’s distressing for you.”

    To help your employees feel like they have a safe place to bring up mental health concerns without the negative stigmat attached, it is important to create awareness about mental health conditions. You can help foster a positive environment by creating educational programs to help employees reach out to coworkers who may be in emotional distress.

    To support employees with mental illnesses, the National Mental Health Association and the National Council for Behavioral Health recommend the following actions:

    • Educate employees about the signs and symptoms of mental health disorders.
    • Encourage employees to talk about stress, workload, family commitments and other issues.
    • Communicate that mental illnesses are real, common and treatable.
    • Discourage stigmatizing language, including hurtful labels such as “crazy,” “loony” or “nuts.”
    • Understand and communicate the mental health benefits available to employees, including the Employee Assistance Programs (EAP).
    • Help employees transition back to work after they take leave.
    • Consult with your employee assistance program.
    • Be sure not diagnose peers or use judgmental language.

    Implementing a teaching program can help educate employees identify co-workers who are in crisis and foster a positive working environment for all employees, regardless of their mental health. Additional resources can be found here.

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    A Plus BenefitsThe Mental Health of Our Workplaces
  • 8 Ways to Celebrate the Holiday Season for Every Budget

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    Holidays are the time where everyone seems to get in the spirit and celebrate. It can also be a great time for employers to thank employees for all of their hard work over the year and inject a little fun into the workplace. You don’t have to throw an elaborate holiday party or purchase expensive gifts for employee to make them feel appreciated. Here are some ideas for every budget to help you celebrate with your team.

    • Set up a Secret Santa gift exchange the “new” way. Elfster is a site to help you organize your gift exchange. You simply go to the site, enter the date and deadline for signing up, and spending limit. You can send an invite to your teammates to join in on the gift exchange and Elfster will match up people for you.  Your teammates can make a wish list to help make it easier for finding the perfect gift.
    • Have a holiday movie party in the conference room. Provide popcorn, treats, and drinks. Watch a classic like White Christmas or the latest holiday movie.
    • Swap a holiday dinner for a holiday lunch. Go out to lunch as a group. The lunch options at a restaurant are often less expensive than dinner. Or, have your holiday party at the office with a holiday themed potluck lunch. Everyone can sign up to bring something and have fun without leaving the office.
    • Have a yummy treat at the office. Grab some sugar cookies, seasonal bread from a local pastry shop, hot chocolate, doughnuts and cider for a festive employee treat.
    • Get a little artistic. Go to a local ceramics studio and create a fun piece to take home.  Attend a class where you can paint your masterpiece on a canvas.
    • Attend a holiday cooking class. Attend a cooking class at a local restaurant or grocery store, such as Harmons. You can often find vouchers on Groupon for classes in your area to help save even more.
    • Score a swanky hotel site in January. Moving your holiday party to January, after the holiday season, can help save on a cool venue and possibly even catering.
    • Go to the aquarium or museum. Treat your team to a day at the museum or aquarium. Being a tourist in your own city and learning something new can be a fun way for the team to bond.

    Finding new things to do during the holidays can help make work a little more fun and boost employee morale.  You do not have to break the bank.  Doing anything, even if it is something small, will let your employees know you appreciate them, helping end the year on a high note.

    Did you do something unique with your employees this year? Share with us on our Facebook page

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    A Plus Benefits8 Ways to Celebrate the Holiday Season for Every Budget
  • Rather Than Policing Cyber Monday, Turn It into an Employee Reward

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    Thanksgiving is one day away, which means that the holiday shopping season is just around the corner.

    Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving) is the busiest online shopping day of the year. In 2016, shoppers spent $3.45 billion on Cyber Monday alone. Many retailers take advantage of this with incredible sales. Because of the popularity, many business owners are left wondering how to manage the impact of Cyber Monday on their workplaces. You will see countless articles about the cost of lost productivity on this particular day, but we have a slightly different perspective.

    Director of Employee Performance at A Plus Benefits, Amber Hunter, suggests looking at this day as an opportunity rather than a challenge. Employees do personal things often at work, from paying a bill online, to making a doctor’s appointment to sharing a funny story with colleagues. This is what gives our offices and organizations personality. Offering this little bit of flexibility allows us as leaders and small business owners to distinguish ourselves from the competition by truly embracing the well-versed concept of work-life balance. We know our team members have a life outside of work, and they also have a life inside of work.

    Set expectations and then allow employees a little bit of freedom. Rather than police Cyber Monday (which no small business owner really wants to spend their time doing), turn it into a fun, celebration at work. Consider granting employees 30 minutes to shop online and then have employees share what deals they found. You could even turn it into a competition to see who got the best deal.

    You could also look at this as an opportunity to reward employees for their hard work. Many businesses are very busy this time of year. Let employees know you see how hard they are working and you want to allow them a little 30-minute online shopping break for Cyber Monday.

    As small business leaders we need to make sure that we are looking for opportunities to create the employee experience. When you allow employees flexibility in their workday, they will be more willing to give your organization the same flexibility when facing a major deadline. The more you embrace these kinds of things in the work place rather than resist them the more likely you are to attract and retain great talent.

    If you decide to try it this year, let us know how it goes. Email us and or share on our Facebook page.

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    A Plus BenefitsRather Than Policing Cyber Monday, Turn It into an Employee Reward