INSIGHTS BLOG

Discover how to help your employees achieve personal success.

  • A Plus Benefits Celebrates National Payroll Week


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    A Plus Benefits is celebrating National Payroll Week this week (September 4-8).

    National Payroll Week celebrates the hard work by America’s 150 million wage earners and the payroll professionals who pay them. Thank you to our team of over 20 Payroll Specialists who perform a range of payroll services, from the most basic payroll functions to processing complicated multi-state and certified payrolls. They work with small business to ease the burden of payroll-related tasks and offer support, expertise, documentation, employee communication and more.

    This team processed hundreds of thousands of paychecks in the past year. We know how important the work they do is to our clients and their employees.We will be holding some fun events and giveaways for the team to remind them how much we appreciate them.

    Want to know more about National Payroll Week? Check out this short video.

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    A Plus BenefitsA Plus Benefits Celebrates National Payroll Week
  • 5 Ways to Build Strong Relationships with Your Employees


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    We get it. Leaders of small businesses are burdened with so many tasks, that often building employees relationships is the last thing on their mind.But maintaining positive work relationships is important to employee engagement and overall business success. Research by Gallup shows employees are more likely to be fully engaged in their work when they maintain good relationships with leaders and peers. With 70% of the workforce not fully engaged, this can be a real game-changer. The truth is, people are looking for more than just a paycheck from their job. They want to find meaningful work they actually enjoy. Here are four simple things from a recent blog on Talent Culture that leaders can do to get the ball rolling:

    Celebrate the good times
    Take the opportunity to celebrate with your team whenever possible. Bring in a cake once a month to celebrate everyone who has a birthday (and/or work anniversary) in that month. Get the team together to celebrate when company or team goals are reached.

    Find creative ways to communicate internally
    Don’t rely on just one method of communication. Be sure to use a combination of email, face-to-face, phone and even text communication to connect with employees. Also consider whether using an internal instant messaging program like Skype for business or a software program like Slack could help you connect with your team in another way.

    Encourage feedback
    Encourage employees to provide feedback to you and to one another. Ask employees for feedback on your leadership skills. If you see someone doing something awesome, tell them! Create a culture where feedback is welcome and rewarded. To make this happen, provide some training and guidelines for peers to provide feedback to one another. Emphasize the importance of providing a balance of positive and negative feedback at all times.

    Emphasize shared values
    Employee engagement is the highest when a company clearly ties the employee’s work to the company’s shared values and goals. Everyone wants to know that their work has value. Keep you values and mission statement at the forefront of everything you do.

    The great thing about these suggestions is that they don’t take a lot of time or money. Simply building these into your routines will allow you to build meaningful relationships with your employees. Do you have great ideas for connecting with your employee? Share them with us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

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    A Plus Benefits5 Ways to Build Strong Relationships with Your Employees
  • 6 Productivity Tips for Small Business Leaders


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    Have you ever wished you had just a few more hours in the day? What a silly question. Of course, you have. As a small business leader or entrepreneur, you are used to long working hours and having never-ending to-do lists. What would you do with a little more time in your day? Being more productive with little tasks throughout your day can help you accomplish more. Here are a few of our favorite tips:

    Start with the least desirable task first
    Sometimes this is called “eating the frog.” Starting with the least desirable task each day allows you to feel accomplished quickly and move on to more enjoyable tasks. It also prevents you from putting it off to the next day, only to dread it all day again.

    Hold “No Meeting” Wednesdays
    It doesn’t have to be Wednesday, but set aside one day each week where there are no scheduled meetings. On this day, employees can focus on important tasks with large blocks of uninterrupted time.

    Bundle similar tasks together.
    Grouping similar tasks together can help you do many things at once instead of bouncing around physically and mentally from place to place. Do you have a list of phone calls to make? Do them one after the other. Do you have multiple tasks using one piece of software? Complete them back to back. One thing that often disrupts work is checking email. Setting aside specific times during the day to read and address emails is another great tip.

    Make your workspace comfortable
    Having a workplace that you are comfortable in makes it easier to work. We spend most of our days at work, so why not make it enjoyable? Changing lighting such as adding a lamp or adding a foot rest can make your workspace more comfortable allowing you to focus and get more done.

    Take 15 minutes to plan the next day
    Taking a couple extra minutes at the end of each day to plan can help you prioritize your work for the next day. This helps to begin working immediately and not waste time figuring out what to tackle first. Making lists also helps to make sure you don’t accidentally forget an important task, potentially throwing off your day.

    Get ready for Monday on Sunday night
    Being prepared and not feeling rushed in the morning will energize you on Monday and get you ready to start the week strong. Set some goals for your week. Get your cup for coffee out and next to the coffee maker. Put your keys, bag and shoes by the door. These small things will help you start off on the right foot.

    Share these ideas with your employees, especially other leaders in your organization. Saving just five minutes each day really adds up.

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    A Plus Benefits6 Productivity Tips for Small Business Leaders
  • IRS Issues Clarification on Current State of the ACA Pay or Play Penalties


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    There is still a lot of confusion among employees with regard to the current status of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Because of this, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Office of Chief Counsel has recently issued several information letters regarding the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) individual and employer mandate penalties. These letters clarify that:

    • Employer shared responsibility penalties continue to apply for applicable large employers (ALEs) that fail to offer acceptable health coverage to their full-time employees (and dependents); and
    • Individual mandate penalties continue to apply for individuals that do not obtain acceptable health coverage (if they do not qualify for an exemption).

    These letters were issued in response to confusion over President Donald Trump’s executive order directing federal agencies to provide relief from the burdens of the ACA.

    The ACA’s employer shared responsibility rules require ALEs to offer affordable, minimum value health coverage to their full-time employees or pay a penalty. These rules, also known as the “employer mandate” or “pay or play” rules, only apply to ALEs, which are employers with, on average, at least 50 full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees (FTEs), during the preceding calendar year. An ALE may be subject to a penalty only if one or more full-time employees obtain an Exchange subsidy (either because the ALE does not offer health coverage, or offers coverage that is unaffordable or does not provide minimum value).

    The ACA’s individual mandate, which took effect in 2014, requires most individuals to obtain acceptable health insurance coverage for themselves and their family members or pay a penalty. The individual mandate is enforced each year on individual federal tax returns. Individuals filing a tax return for the previous tax year will indicate, by checking a box on their individual tax return, which members of their family (including themselves) had health insurance coverage for the year (or qualified for an exemption from the individual mandate). Based on this information, the IRS will then assess a penalty for each nonexempt family member who doesn’t have coverage.

    On Jan. 20, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order intended to “to minimize the unwarranted economic and regulatory burdens” of the ACA until the law can be repealed and eventually replaced. The executive order broadly directs the Department of Health and Human Services and other federal agencies to waive, delay or grant exemptions from ACA requirements that may impose a financial burden. However, the executive order does not include specific guidance regarding any particular ACA requirement or provision, and does not change any existing regulations.

    IRS Information Letters

    Office of Chief Counsel issued a series of information letters clarifying that the ACA’s individual and employer mandate penalties continue to apply.

    • Letter numbers 2017-0010 and 2017-0013 address the employer shared responsibility rules.
    • Letter number 2017-0017 addresses the individual mandate.

    According to these letters, the executive order does not change the law. The ACA’s provisions are still effective until changed by Congress, and taxpayers are still required to follow the law, including paying any applicable penalties. We will continue to keep you updated as changes will likely continue to occur throughout this year and beyond. For now, it is best to proceed and plan as though the ACA will remain unchanged.

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    A Plus BenefitsIRS Issues Clarification on Current State of the ACA Pay or Play Penalties
  • 4 Things Great Leaders Say to Get New Employees Engaged


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    Getting employees up to speed quickly is important at every organization. Especially at this point in the employment relationship, your leaders can make all the difference. According to research by Gallup, managers are responsible for up to 70 percent of the variance in employee engagement. From a recent article in Inc., here are four discussions your leaders can have with new employees to get them engaged quickly.

    Describe how the business creates value
    In order for employees to be engaged, they need to understand what the company does that sets them apart. All employees want to be part of something bigger than themselves. Help employees see how the work they are doing directly relates to the value the organization creates in the community. Employees need to understand the why of the business and the why of their specific position in the company.

    Define who the stakeholders are
    Helping employees understand how all of the pieces of your organization work gives them a better idea of the big picture of the organization. Employees need to understand who the stakeholders are, both inside and outside the organization. Make sure they know the important people inside the organization and how everyone’s job interact. Also make sure they understand who your customer s and vendors are\ and what those relationships are like. Providing this clarity gives employees a better understanding of the organization as a whole.

    Immediately set goals and provide feedback
    Help employees set goals very early on (within the first couple days of work) that will allow them some quick wins. This allows you to provide feedback immediately and start the process of constructive performance communication.

    Reinforce the reasons you hired them
    Don’t assume your employees understand the reason they were selected for the position. Remind them what characteristics and experience they have that led you to make the decision to hire them. Praise employees for their skills, experience, attitude and work ethic. Reinforce those positive behaviors you want to see continue, early on.

    It can be a huge competitive advantage for an organization to not only have productive employees quickly, but also engaged ones. Make sure your leaders are doing these four things with all new employees. It can also be a great reminder of the ongoing conversations they should be having with existing employees as well. Looking for more ideas to get employees up to speed quickly?  Check out our Onboarding Toolkit.

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    A Plus Benefits4 Things Great Leaders Say to Get New Employees Engaged
  • Does Your Company’s Vacation Time Need to be Revamped?


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    It’s hard to believe that summer is already winding down. Kids will be back in school soon and your employees will likely be scaling back their time off requests. Summer is typically the most popular times for employees to take family vacations, so it’s likely you had the opportunity to observe your time off policies and procedures in action over the past few months. Now can be a great time to review that and start making plans for what you might want to change for next year. Here are some simple steps you can take to begin that review process.

    Analyze your compensation and benefits strategy
    Most companies (91% in the US according to SHRM) offer some paid time off or vacation time to employees. That is pretty much a given at most organizations. But how you structure your vacation policy is an important piece of your overall benefits strategy. Decide what you hope to accomplish and what you hope to communicate to employees through your time off policy.

    Keep long term viability in mind
    It is important to find a balance of what your company can afford in terms of productivity loss and compensation for employees along with examining what competitor companies are doing to determine if you are more or less competitive from that standpoint. It is much easier to add additional benefits than it is to remove them from employees. Only commit to what you know is sustainable for your organization moving forward.

    Plan the structure of your policy
    Time off policies are often as unique as the companies they come from. You really do have a lot flexibility in your plan design. Here are some of the important questions to ask yourself:

    • How much paid time off will employees receive?
    • How many hours per week must an employee work to qualify for paid time off?
    • Will employee receive a lump sum, or will it accrue over time?
    • What will happen to accrued paid time off when an employee terminates? (check your state laws)
    • Will employees have a deadline to use paid time (use it or lose it)? (check your state laws)
    • Will hourly employees receive the same amount of vacation as salaried employees?
    • Do you need a bona fide leave bank for salaried exempt-level employees?

    Plan and communicate your implementation strategy
    Almost as important as your plan structure, it is important to plan for the actual implementation of that policy. Develop an employee vacation tracking and planning system to help you plan business needs and employee schedules. You will also want to determine how employee vacations during peak business times or during employee absences. Having a plan in place and clearly communicating that to employees prevents future issues.  Some questions to consider include:

    • How will employees submit requests for time off?
    • Will you do a first come first serve basis when employees request time off, or will seniority be considered?
    • Who will determine whether time off will be approved and how will this be communicated to employees?
    • Will you have deadline for vacation requests or blackout dates during busy business periods?
    • How will you divvy out employees’ duties during employees’ vacation periods?
    • Will you offer incentives for employees who work during peak vacation periods?

    Once you have a plan, this needs to be communicated clearly to employees, so they understand the benefit and the process by which to use it.

    Consider other types of leave
    While you are considering your vacation policy, you may also want to take a look at other types of paid and unpaid leave. Other things to consider besides just a vacation policy include:

    Setting up a vacation policy that will best fits your company culture will help ensure your employees are healthy, happy and feeling they are being fairly compensated. If you aren’t sure what types of leave are important to your employees, ask them. This can help you gain insight to how employees really feel about the policy and make them feel included in the process. If you would like assistance with creating a written time off or other type of policy, contact one of our HR experts at humanresources@aplusbenefits.com.

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    A Plus BenefitsDoes Your Company’s Vacation Time Need to be Revamped?
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