Discover how to help your employees achieve personal success.

  • The Fear of Feedback May Actually Result from a Fear of Failure

    If you attended our webinar last week, you know that when you come to an employee with feedback, they often have a fight or flight response similar to being presented with a dangerous situation. Psychologically, this is not a good place to for open and honest communication.

    In order to reduce the fear your employees have, and create an environment where effective communication can occur take a moment to consider how your leaders respond to employee mistakes. Perhaps your leaders need to look at failure and mistakes from another perspective. A recent article from Entrepreneur gives five reasons that mistakes are important for your organization.people-314481_640

    1. It creates a more open and honest environment. Employees who are afraid of the repercussions of even a small mistake are more likely to cover-up or hide those mistakes rather than finding a solution. This means that the mistakes could snowball into bigger situations rather than addressing them immediately and learning from them. Encourage employees to admit when a mistake is made and help top find a solution. Reward employees who come to you and say, “I messed up, this is why it happened and this is how I plan to fix it.” rather than punishing them.
    2. It creates a more positive learning culture. Accepting that some failure or mistakes will happen means that employees will be more willing to admit when they don’t know how to do something. Instead of faking it, encourage employees to actually take the time to learn how a job should be done.
    3. It leads to a more innovative team. If you are encouraging employees to find solutions when mistakes are made, it will push them to think creatively. It will also allow employees to take more calculated risks as they are not so afraid of failing that they avoid trying anything new.
    4. You will actually see fewer mistakes. When your employees are focused so intently on not making mistakes, they actually make more of them. It is true that what you focus on grows. Focus on successes and learning opportunities instead of failures and mistakes.
    5. Your team will be happier. A fear of failure can cause your employees to dread coming to work each day. Releasing that tension will allow your employees to be happier and more productive.

    If your employees fear receiving feedback, you may need to consider how you respond to employee mistakes. Having a culture that fears failure rather than embracing the opportunity to learn from mistakes, can make it difficult for leaders to provide constructive employee feedback.

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    A Plus BenefitsThe Fear of Feedback May Actually Result from a Fear of Failure
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    What Does At-Will Employment Really Mean?

    We often get asked by employers about the meaning of “at-will employment.” The rule states that an employee can be hired for an indefinite period and can be terminated at any time, for any reason or for no reason at all, with or without notice. The employee can also quit at any time, with or without reason or notice. This term is often confused with the term “right to work” which actually means that employers cannot require that employees be part of a union in order to be hired for a position.way-1694101_640

    Employment in most states (except Montana) is generally presumed to be “at-will.” It is important to remember that you can change an at-will arrangement, sometimes even by accident, by implying or stating that an employee will be with the company for a specific period of time. Special care should be given to the creation of employment documents to insure that there is no implied contract. Employee offer letters, policy guides, applications and other documents should also include an at-will statement such as:

    I have entered into my employment relationship with the understanding that I am an at-will employee and acknowledge that there is no specific length of employment. Accordingly, either I or my employer, or those designated by my employer, can terminate the employment relationship at-will, with or without cause, at any time, so long as there is no violation of applicable federal or state law.

    There are a few exceptions to this general at-will rule. An employer cannot fire an employee if doing so would be unlawful discrimination. An employer cannot fire an employee because of race, color, religion, sex, age (over 40), national origin, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, childbirth or pregnancy-related conditions.

    An employer also cannot fire an employee for asking for a reasonable accommodation, for complaining about unlawful discrimination, or for participating in an employment discrimination investigation.

    May states (including Utah) also have laws prohibiting an employer from firing an employee if the termination would violate clear and substantial public policy. For example, you cannot fire an employee for refusing to do something illegal such as refusing to file false tax returns or other federal documents, refusing to mislead a safety inspector, refusing to notarize a signature when the person who signed is not present or refusing to present a consumer with misleading information. You can also not fire an employee for serving on a jury, responding to a subpoena or serving in the military.

    If you choose to forgo an at-will employment arrangement in favor of an employment contract there are a few things to consider. An employment contract should always be drafted by an attorney who specializes in employment law with special care taken to situations that may arise causing the need to end the employment relationship, on both sides.

    Still have questions? Contact our HR experts at or 1-800-748-5102.

    Much of this information is adapted from the Utah Labor Commission website:


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    A Plus BenefitsWhat Does At-Will Employment Really Mean?
  • Respect is Vital to Employee Engagement

    There are countless articles and research studies available about employee engagement. It seems like a new recommendation comes out all of the time. With all of this information, where is a company supposed to even begin? A recent article in Forbes simplifies the key to employee engagement down to one word; respect.

    Respect is something that is vital to a healthy work culture that fosters engaged, happy and productive employees. Why is respect so important?

    young-791849_640It makes employees feel like a part of the team: One of the keys to employee engagement is that employees want to feel like they are part of the group. That the work they do contributes to the greater good done by the organization. They want to feel appreciated and know that their work is seen as valuable.

    Employees who feel respected will go the extra mile: Employees are much more willing to go above and beyond and put forth their best effort if they know they will be rewarded. The intrinsic reward of we feeling respected and appreciated is powerful.

    Employees who feel respected feel more connected to the organization: Respect is key to employee retention. Employees will stick with you through the tough times if they feel connected to the company.

    There are some easy ways that leaders in an organization can demonstrate to employees that they are respected.

    Show appreciation for hard work: Take the opportunity, whenever possible, to thank your employees for the work they do. Recognition can take many forms, but what is most important is that it is frequent and genuine. Check out our Employee Recognition Toolkit.

    Allow employees some autonomy: Set appropriate expectations and deadlines for your employees and then step back and allow them to do their job. Micromanaging exactly how an employee completes a project from start to finish is exhausting and time-consuming. It also demonstrates you have little respect for the work the employee does. You may even find that the employee’s way of doing things is better than how you would have done it on your own.

    Give employees some flexibility: Having some flexible work options for employees is a great way to show them some respect. This can take many forms. It could be as simple an being accommodating with time off. Or perhaps there is an employee who would work better if they could come in at 9:00 am and stay until 6:00 pm instead of the normal 8-5 schedule. Consider what might work best for your company and your employees and then start a conversation about it.

    Avoid unnecessary rules and policies: If you have a 100-page employee policy guide, you are demonstrating to your employees that you don’t trust or respect them. Take the time to consider if you are communicating and enforcing rules that are unnecessary. What would you lighten up on a little? Check out our blog about Cyber Monday online shopping for an idea of what we mean. Of course we always recommend that you have some basic things covered to reduce your liability. If you need help working through this, your team of HR experts would be happy to help.

    The most important thing to remember is that respect is a two-way street. In order to garner the respect of your employees, you need to show them respect as well.

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    A Plus BenefitsRespect is Vital to Employee Engagement
  • What’s Going on with the Affordable Care Act?

    There is a lot of buzz right now about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and what impact the recent election will have on this law, which impacts all individuals and business in some way. The ACA has so many pieces from individual and employer mandates, to employer reporting requirements, to state exchange marketplaces for individual and group coverage, leaving business leaders wondering what is to come.canstockphoto14940280

    From the research we have done, these are the things that are likely to happen within the next few weeks as president-Elect Trump takes office:

    There are two options that could occur:

    1- Repeal the ACA (or parts of the ACA) without a replacement option in place and come up with a replacement down the road.

    2- Repeal the ACA (or parts of the ACA) and replace it with new healthcare initiatives almost simultaneously.

    Originally it was believed that if any parts of the ACA were repealed this month, the first option would be the only one available. That has recently changed as House and Senate Republicans have been working on replacement ideas that they insist could be put into place very quickly.

    The manner in which Congress can go about repealing ACA is through budget reconciliation, where anything that impacts government spending or individual taxes can be adjusted with a majority vote and signature from the President. This means that while the ACA won’t likely be completely removed immediately, parts could change very quickly.

    For example, if Congress removed the penalties involved with the individual and employer mandates, there would be nothing in place to compel people to comply.

    What can’t be removed by this process are the parts of the law that, for example, allows adult children to stay on their parent’s health plan until age 26.

    On January 12, 2017, the Senate approved a budget resolution that sets the stage for parts of the ACA to be either repealed or unenforceable. This is expected to also be approved by the House this week, but there are still big questions about how and when certain ACA pieces will be replaced.

    At this point we just have to wait and see what comes in the next few weeks. Until we know for sure which parts of the ACA are being adjusted and whether they are being replaced with something new or not, it is difficult to predict what the impact will be to our clients and our medical plan. A Plus Benefits will be staying on top of this information and will provide details as they become available.

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    A Plus BenefitsWhat’s Going on with the Affordable Care Act?
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    Before Giving Employees Feedback, Ask for Feedback from Them

    Giving your employees both positive and negative feedback is an important part of being a leader, but for so many people, it can make them feel uncomfortable. But how will your employees know how you expect them to perform or behave if you don’t tell them?

    conference-1886023_640If you are looking at ways to create a culture that is comfortable with giving and receiving feedback, start by having your leaders ask employees for feedback. A recent article from Forbes suggest that leaders can start their employee meetings with a few simple questions to set a good tone for open communication.

    • What did I do well last week?
    • What didn’t I do so well?
    • What do you think I could do to get better?
    • What can I do for you this week?

    This can be a great way to start a conversation about performance expectations and accountability. Asking these questions shows that you as a leader want to improve. It also shows that you are holding yourself accountable. It also shows that you are open to feedback and creates a vulnerability that will increase trust. Modeling all of these things for your employees will demonstrate what is important to you and your organization.

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    A Plus BenefitsBefore Giving Employees Feedback, Ask for Feedback from Them
  • Attracting and Retaining Great Millennial Talent

    Within the next five years, Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce. No matter the size of your company or what industry you are in, now is the time to start thinking about how you will attract the next generation of great employee talent.millennial

    A recent blog from The Huffington Post gives employers some ideas about how they can attract and retain Millennial employees and they don’t include flashy work spaces or outrageous salaries.

    Upward Mobility
    Employees want to understand what development opportunities are available within the organization. According to a recent poll by Gallup, 87 percent of Millennials rate professional or career growth and development opportunities as important to them in a job. Help your employees understand from the very start what opportunities might be available. Don’t have a lot of opportunities available? Find ways to support employees developing professional (and even personal) skills, so they feel that are learning and growing.

    Social Responsibility
    The new generation of employees are far less motivated by a paycheck and far more motivated by the change they can make in their communities and the world. Make sure your employees understand the “why” behind what your company does.  Additionally, look for ways that your company and your employees can give back to your community.

    The term flexibility can be scary for employers who may not feel like this is something they can offer in their organization. The truth is companies of all sizes and in all industries are finding creative ways to offer some flexibility to employees. That may mean allowing telecommuting or work from home options for some employees, but it could also be as simple as offering flexible time-off policies or even flexible lunch breaks. There was a story a while back where an industrial company with assembly line workers was struggling with turnover and they couldn’t figure out why they were losing so many employees. It turned out that employees wanted the ability to request what time their breaks occurred. Some liked having a break at 3:00pm in the afternoon so they could call and check in on their kids, while others preferred mornings so they could make phone calls to set up appointments. Offering flexible work arrangements doesn’t have to mean allowing telecommuting.

    Let employees know what is expected of them and then allow them to get there in their own wait. Having clear and transparent communication empowers employees to better understand their accountability. It also helps them understand how their work fits within the organization and moves the company toward its goals. Employees want to know that their job matters.

    The great thing about this is that these same things are attractive to employees of all generations and therefore are a great investment for the organization. If you are looking for ways to motivate and communicate with employees of all generations, check out our Generational Management Toolkit.

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    A Plus BenefitsAttracting and Retaining Great Millennial Talent