INSIGHTS BLOG

Discover how to help your employees achieve personal success.

  • 7 Things Employees Need if You Want Them to Stick Around


    No comments

    One thing we often hear from the small business leaders we work with is how challenging it is to retain good employees. This is especially true in competitive job markets where skilled workers may encounter new job opportunities at every turn. Keeping employees around really boils down to one thing; having great leaders. According to research by Gallup, managers account for up to 70% variance in employee engagement. It is often said that employees don’t leave companies, they leave bad bosses.

    Leaders in small business often have so much on their plates, they have little time to improve their leadership skills. Providing little bits of information leaders can immediately use can be incredibly helpful.

    A recent article in Inc. shares seven things employees need in order to stick around. Share these with the leaders in your organization to help them better understand their teams.

    1. Safety– Employees need to feel secure in their job. This means understanding what is expected of them. Leaders should ask employees about their future goals and help develop them along their career path.
    2. Recognition– We all like to hear when we are doing a good job. Working hard without anyone noticing is discouraging. Leaders should get into the habit of praising employees often. Check out our Employee Recognition Toolkit for ideas.
    3. Understanding– Employees want to know that their manager hears and understands them. They want to be able to come to their leaders with concerns and not be brushed off. The best leaders listen and validate the thoughts, concerns and feelings of their employees.
    4. Purpose– Everyone wants to feel like they are part of something bigger and better than just their individual work. Help employees discover how their work impacts the goals of the organization. Then help them see how the organization has a positive impact on your customers and your community.
    5. Communication– Employees want to feel like they are in t eh know. They don’t want to be in the dark about what is going on in the organization. Open communication and transparency increases the trust your employees have in your leaders. It also helps them feel safe and secure in their job.
    6. Value– Employees want to feel like they matter not only to the organizational as whole but to the leaders as well. Encourage leaders to really get to know their employees. Understand what is important to them and what motivates them.
    7. Love– This may seem a bit out of place for the work environment, but the truth is employees spend a large portion of their lives at work. They need to develop positive relationships in the workplace, including relationships with their supervisors. Feeling like someone at work cares about you drives employees to show up and perform at a high level each and every day.

    Improving employee engagement and retention doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming. Helping your leaders understand these seven things that drive employee engagement and loyalty will immediately help get your company on track with retention.

    Looking for more ideas? Contact our HR experts at 1-800-748-5102 or humanresources@aplusbenefits.com

    Read more
    A Plus Benefits7 Things Employees Need if You Want Them to Stick Around
  • 6 Things Small Businesses Can Learn About Culture From Netflix


    No comments

    When it comes to culture, the giants like Netflix and Google are king. Many articles have been written about their ability to build string company cultures and attract the best employee talent. You may look around at your small business with significantly less employees (and let’s face it, a much smaller budget) and think, how can I apply this to my business?  A recent article from Entrepreneur offers six things that you need to know about how Netflix built its culture, and we will add some insights for how you can apply what they have done in your own business regardless of size.

    1. Avoid “shiny object syndrome”– It can be easy to jump on the bandwagon of the next new thing that your competitor or other businesses may be doing. This often leads to wasted time and money. Instead consider what steps you can take to build the culture you want for your current and future employees. Think about your industry, your leadership style and the characteristics of your current employees. Find the unique thing you can do to stand out and be different.
    2. Everyone is all in– To build a successful company culture, everyone has to be on board. Finding ways to connect personally to all employees is necessary. Make sure any new employees you add to the team fit the culture as well. Ask interview questions that help you determine how a potential employee will fit in (get ideas in our Recruiting Toolkit). Also understand that you can’t control the culture. It will change and evolve as the company and employees change. Encourage employees to find ways to improve the culture rather than trying to preserve it. Don’t do things just because that’s always the way you have done it. Do it because it is the best way.
    3. Think team instead of family– This piece is especially important in a small business. It can be easy to start thinking of employees like family (you may even have some employees who are actually family). The word family implies unconditional support and lifetime employment. These things to not contribute to a successful company culture. Instead think of your employees as a team, where everyone is putting in hard work to reach a common goal.
    4. Trust employees to manage their time– Netflix doesn’t have a set 9am-5pm schedule, nor do they have a set number of vacation days. They encourage employees to work when it is best for them. This may not be realistic in your small business, but you can provide your employees with some flexibility without jeopardizing your business. Consider what you can do that matches your company culture. Perhaps you can allow some employees to work four-day work weeks. Or maybe some could come in earlier while others could stay later, depending on their preference. Think about ways you can provide some freedom to employees and demonstrate that you trust them.
    5. Honesty is the best policy- If honesty isn’t one of your core values, it probably should be. Reward employees for being honest, especially in difficult situations. Encourage open communication and feedback from all levels to all levels.
    6. Schedule time for one on ones- This time isn’t for managers to control the way employees are doing their job. It is a time for employees to share what they have been working on, ask for advice on any challenging situations and for leadership to share what else is going on in the rest of the organization. Schedule these meetings on a regular basis and do you best to not move or change them. This shows your employees that their time is valuable to you.

    Realizing your dream of running a successful business can be challenging and overwhelming, but building a company culture you can be proud of doesn’t have to be. These simple things taken from an expert in company culture can easily be applied to your business immediately. Try it out and let us know how it goes at humanresources@aplusbenefits.com

    Read more
    A Plus Benefits6 Things Small Businesses Can Learn About Culture From Netflix
  • Recent Changes to State and Local Minimum Wage Across the US


    No comments

    Although federal minimum wage remains at $7.25 and has not been changed in over 10 years, many employees are entitled to a higher minimum set by state and local laws. Some changes to these laws have taken effect as recently as July 1, 2017.

    Here are some of the most recent changes:

    Chicago: $11 an hour.

    Cook County, Illinois: $10 an hour.

    Emeryville, California: $15.20 an hour for businesses with more than 56 employees, and $14 an hour for businesses with 55 or fewer employees.

    Flagstaff, Arizona: $10.50 an hour.

    Los Angeles: $12 an hour for businesses with more than 26 employees, and $10.50 an hour for businesses with 25 or fewer employees.

    Maryland: $9.25 an hour.

    Milpitas, California: $11 an hour.

    Montgomery County, Maryland: $11.50 an hour.

    Oregon: $10.25 an hour. (Exception: $11.25 an hour in the Portland metro area, and $10 an hour in some counties designated as “non-urban.”)

    Pasadena, California: $12 an hour for businesses with 26 or more employees, and $10.50 an hour or businesses with 25 or fewer employees.

    San Francisco: $14 an hour.

    San Jose, California: $12 an hour.

    San Leandro, California: $12 an hour.

    Santa Monica, California: $12 an hour for businesses with 26 or more employees, and $10.50 an hour or businesses with 25 or fewer employees.

    Washington, D.C.: $12.50 an hour.

    If you have any employees in these locations, it is important to take a look at wages and make sure you are meeting the state and local minimum wage requirement.

    Questions? Contact one of our HR experts at 1-800-748-5102 or humanresources@aplusbenefits.com

    Read more
    A Plus BenefitsRecent Changes to State and Local Minimum Wage Across the US
  • Ensure Your Summer Employees Comply With Youth Employment Laws


    No comments

    Each year, millions of teenagers take on summer jobs. Early work experiences can be very rewarding, while providing teens with great opportunities to learn important work skills. If you’re employing teens, the Department of Labor (DOL) oversees the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) child labor provisions. This specifies the hours young workers can work, the jobs they may perform and the jobs that are designated too hazardous for them to perform. The Act’s regulations are outlined below, along with additional steps you can take to keep young workers safe.

    Age Limitations by Type of Work

    Children age 13 and under are limited to the following types of jobs:

    • Delivering newspapers
    • Babysitting
    • Acting or performing in motion pictures, radio, television or theater
    • Working in businesses solely owned or operated by parents
    • Working on farms owned or operated by parents.
    • When children reach age 14, the following types of jobs become acceptable:
    • Office work
    • Non-hazardous grocery store work
    • Retail store
    • Restaurant
    • Movie theater
    • Baseball park
    • Non-hazardous amusement park work
    • Non-hazardous gasoline service station work

    However, at age 14, these jobs are not allowed:

    • Communications or public utilities jobs
    • Construction or repair jobs
    • Driving a motor vehicle or helping a driver
    • Manufacturing and mining occupations
    • The use of power-driven machinery or hoisting apparatus other than typical office machines
    • Processing occupations
    • Public messenger jobs
    • Transporting of persons or property
    • Workrooms where products are manufactured, mined or processed
    • Warehousing and storage
    • Any other job or occupation declared hazardous by the Department of Labor.

    At age 16, a teen may work in any job that has not been declared hazardous by the Department of Labor.

    Hazardous Occupations

    Hazardous occupations, as declared by the Department of Labor, are not allowed for anyone under the age of 18. A partial list of hazardous occupations includes the following:

    • Manufacturing and storing of explosives
    • Driving a motor vehicle and being an outside helper on a motor vehicle
    • Coal mining
    • Mining other than coal mining
    • Logging and saw milling
    • Power-driven woodworking machines
    • Exposure to radioactive substances
    • Power-driven hoisting apparatus
    • Power-driven metal forming, punching and shearing machines
    • Meat packing or processing, including the use of power-driven meat slicing machines
    • Power-driven bakery machines
    • Power-driven paper-product machines
    • Manufacturing brick, tile and related products
    • Power-driven circular saws, band saws and guillotine shears
    • Wrecking demolition and ship-breaking operations
    • Roofing operations
    • Excavation operations

    Once a person turns 18, he or she may work in any job for as many hours as desired. Child labor rules no longer apply.

    Work Hour Regulations by Age

    Under Age 12

    • If a child is younger than 12, he or she may only work on farms, provided the farm is not required to pay the federal minimum wage. Only “small farms” are exempt from the minimum wage requirements. By definition, “small” means any farm that did not use more than 500 “man-days” of agricultural labor in any calendar quarter during the preceding calendar year. “Man-day” means any day during which an employee works at least one hour.
    • If the farm is “small,” workers under 12 years of age may be employed in non-hazardous jobs, but only during hours when school is not in session, and only with a parent’s permission.

    Age 12 or 13

    • If a child is 12 or 13 years of age, he or she may only work in agriculture on a farm if a parent has given written permission, or a parent is working on the same farm. Again, the work can only be performed during hours when school is not in session and in non-hazardous jobs.

    Age 14 or 15

    If a child is 14 or 15 years of age, he or she may work no more than:

    • 3 hours per day on a school day, 18 hours in a school week
    • 8 hours on a non-school day
    • 40 hours in non-school week

    Additionally, they may work outside of school hours from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. The only exception is from June 1 through Labor Day, when 14- and 15-year olds may work until 9 p.m.

    Age 16 and Older

    If a worker is age 16 or older, he or she may work any day, any time of day, and for any number of hours. There are no restrictions on the work hours of children age 16 or older.

    In addition to understanding labor laws, there are additional steps you can take to protect young workers:

    • Eliminate any issues present in your workplace that could injure a young worker.
    • Make sure that equipment used by workers is safe and legal.
    • Inform supervisors and adult workers of the tasks that teens should not perform.
    • Make sure that young workers are appropriately supervised at all times.
    • Label the equipment that teens cannot use, or color-code their uniforms so that others know they may not perform certain tasks.
    • Educate young workers to ensure that they recognize hazards and are competent regarding safe working practices.
    • Training should include how to prepare for fires, accidents, violent situations and protocol for injuries. Teens need to know that they have a right to file a claim to cover their medical benefits and lost work time if they are injured.
    • Have young workers demonstrate that they can perform assigned task safely and correctly.
    • Implement a mentoring or buddy system for new young workers. Have either an adult or an experienced teen worker act as a buddy, and answer questions to help the inexperienced worker learn the ropes of the new job.
    • Identify and solve safety and health problems that arise or typically have been an issue in the past.

    For more information visit www.dol.gov/dol/topic/youthlabor or contact one of our HR experts at 1-800-748-5102 or humanresoiurces@aplusbenefits.com

    Read more
    A Plus BenefitsEnsure Your Summer Employees Comply With Youth Employment Laws
  • Successful Onboarding Helps Retain Those Employees You Worked Hard to Recruit


    No comments

    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.

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


    No comments

    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.

    Read more
    A Plus BenefitsImprove Employee Morale and Productivity by Encouraging Saying No
OsmondMarketingBlog