INSIGHTS BLOG

Discover how to help your employees achieve personal success.

  • Is Anything Happening with the Overtime Rule Change Discussed Last Year?


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    Last year we talked a lot about preparing for the change to the overtime rule that increased the salary requirement for certain white-collar employees to be considered exempt from overtime. At this point, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) overtime rule is unlikely to come to fruition.

    You may remember the rule—which was scheduled to take effect Dec. 1, 2016—was delayed by federal court injunction on Nov. 22, 2016. In December, the DOL filed for an expedited appeal of the court injunction.

    However, on Jan. 25, 2017, the DOL, which is now under the direction of President Donald Trump, requested a 30-day extension to file a brief in its appeal. Recent actions by the Trump administration suggest that it is unlikely that the overtime rule will ever become effective, even if the DOL is successful in its appeal.

    For now, employers can rely on existing overtime exemption rules. It is still a good idea to make sure that your employees who are currently listed as exempt, do meet the current requirements. Misclassifying employees as exempt from overtime is one of the most common compliance mistakes made by small businesses.

    Employers that have already made adjustments to comply with the new rule may find it difficult to reverse any changes. For employers looking to roll back salary adjustments, carefully consider employee morale and the potential impact that rescinding promised changes will have on your company. Our team of HR experts can help clients work through this tough situation.

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

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    A Plus BenefitsIs Anything Happening with the Overtime Rule Change Discussed Last Year?
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    Three Simple Steps to Improve Performance Feedback


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    Providing ongoing feedback to your employees is vital to their success and the success of your company as a whole. Even if your employees currently shy away from receiving feedback, the truth is they really do want and need it. According to research from Gallup, employees must receive both positive and negative feedback from their managers in order to feel engaged.

    If you and your management team are not used to providing feedback, it can take time to develop those skills and make giving feedback a part of the company culture. Here are four steps from a recent article in TLNT to get you started:

    Reframe feedback as a regular part of your business. Receiving feedback from a manger shouldn’t automatically fill your employees with dread. Make both positive and constructive feedback a daily practice. Once it becomes common, employees will be less likely to fear the communication.

    Start with positive feedback. If you managers are really struggling with performance communication, have them start with positive feedback. Work with your managers to make sure they are catching people doing things well and acknowledging those things.

    Invest in training for your managers and then ALL employees. Help your management team feel confident providing feedback to employees, no matter if it is negative or positive. Help your entire team understand how to effectively give both positive and negative feedback to one another. Also help everyone understand the best ways to receive that feedback and move forward.

    Looking for resources?

    Need something a little more customized? Reach out to our HR experts for help putting together a customized training specifically tailored to your team’s needs. You can reach them at humanresources@aplusbenefits.com or 1-800-748-5102.

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    A Plus BenefitsThree Simple Steps to Improve Performance Feedback
  • Four Keys to Attracting and Retaining Great Employees


    Attracting and retaining great employees is a challenge for businesses of all sizes and industries. This is something we hear often from our clients. If improving your attraction and retention efforts is one of your goals this year, you are in luck. They are a few key things every business can do to make sure they are creating an environment where employees want to work.

    Make sure your pay is fair. While there is plenty of research showing that money is not a great employee motivator, being underpaid is a quick way for an employee to be demotivated. According to research by Nielsen, 80% of employees report feeling stressed at work, with low pay being listed as the biggest workplace stress. A popular quote by Dan Pink, author if the book Drive, puts it simply, “The best use of money as a motivator is to pay people enough to take the issue of money off the table.” If you aren’t sure if pay is an issues, you can do some research on website like Glassdoor.com and Salary.com to find some information about what competitors may be paying their employees. A Plus Benefits can also provide salary reports for employees of a cost for $10 per position. Contact an HR Business Partner at humanresources@aplusbenefits.com for assistance.

    Culture matters. Creating a strong company culture is not just a gimmick. Work should be a place people enjoy coming to. It isn’t just about getting your job done, but also about building relationships and having a little fun. Even companies like Google employ basic techniques like free snacks or lunches, birthday celebrations and holiday parties.

    Unique benefits package can set you apart. Offering a unique mix of benefits to employees can help set you apart as an employer. Offering supplemental benefits like 401(k), life insurance, accident insurance, disability insurance, medical and dependent care flexible spending accounts can help to attract and retain great employees. If you are curious about what benefits you could be missing that could really make a difference, contact a Client Success Manager at service@aplusbenefits.com.

    Communication is key. Clean employee communication increases trust in an organization. It also increases employee engagement and satisfaction. According to research from Gallup, employees don’t feel like they are getting as much communication as they would like from their employees.  Be as transparent as possible. Include employees in the decision-making process for important changes whenever possible. Also be sure to provide employees with timely feedback on their performance. Waiting for an annual performance review to address what employees are doing well, or not doing well leads to frustration. Check out our recent webinar on Performance Communication Made Easy for some helpful tips and tricks.

    If you are looking for more advice on finding and keeping the employees you need to take your business to the next level, reach out to an HR Business Partner at1-800-748-5102 or humanresources@aplusbenefits.com

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    A Plus BenefitsFour Keys to Attracting and Retaining Great Employees
  • Understanding Workplace Flexibility


    As you look for ways to attract and retain great employee talent, workplace flexibility probably crosses your mind. You may have had a prospective employee ask about flexible work options, or even had a former employee let you know that they left your company for a more flexible environment. This will only become more common as the workforce redefines what is important to them.notebook-405755_640

    Technological advances and flexibility in the workplace have redefined the workday for many organizations . Having a flexible working environment means that your organization defines “work” differently and, as a result, new guidelines are established for when, where and how employees get tasks done. This also means that results are often determined less by how much face time employees put in at the office; and instead their work is reviewed based on its quality and whether it gets done.

    For employees, flexibility allows for an easier time managing work, family, and other obligations. Allowing workplace flexibility is a great marketing tool for the company and a solid way to recruit and retain talented employees.

    Types of Flexible Working Arrangements
    There are many types of flexible working arrangements being implemented across the nation which include:

    • Part-time employment (reduced work hours)
    • Flexible scheduling (employees are available within core hours during the day, but may vary the times they arrive in the morning and leave in the afternoon)
    • Telecommuting (working from a remote location)
    • Compressed workweeks (working a full schedule in fewer than five days)
    • Phased return-to-work from leave (gradually increasing the number of hours worked after taking a leave of absence from work)
    • Job sharing (dividing tasks and hours among several staff members who all work part-time)
    • Summer hours (reducing work hours during summer months)
    • Phased retirement (gradually decreasing the number of responsibilities and hours worked)
    • Virtual work (working entirely through an electronic system without a formal work schedule or location)
    • Hoteling (employees share a workspace because they are only in the office for a portion of the week)

    Employers may offer these options on an as-needed basis or as part of formal programs for all employees. Employers can also create a workplace that is entirely flexible with no defined work schedule (known as a results-only work environment). Most employers tend to land somewhere in the middle and have formal yet flexible arrangements.

    Benefits of Flexibility
    Many companies have had a lot of success implementing flexible arrangements in the workplace. For companies with employees who are no longer forced to come to the office and do not have set work hours, turnover has declined and employee engagement has increased. These companies also received the following benefits from offering a flexible working environment:

    • Increased retention
    • Increased productivity
    • Enhanced recruiting success
    • Employees are more accessible throughout the day
    • Reduced expenses for real estate costs
    • Reduced carbon footprint

    Creating a Successful Program
    Developing a program to make your workplace more flexible is fairly simple and requires minimal or no resources.

    • Create a link between flexibility and your organization’s goals. Determine how existing and future flexibility plans will align with your current and future company goals.
    • Look at your current flexible work schedule offerings—who is eligible, how the program is used, how the program is administered, and what is expected of management and employees.
    • Determine how flexible you want to be. You will need to balance corporate guidelines, individual needs, management desires, etc.
    • Enlist management personnel to promote and administer flexible working arrangements. These people should have the training and tools to do so properly.
    • Communicate with your employees about flexible arrangements as part of your total benefits offerings.
    • Link flexible arrangements to your business results by creating a measurement system that gauges that connection.
    • Sell the program to senior executives by highlighting how the program can positively benefit your bottom line. They could also utilize the flexible program to show other employees that flexibility will not negatively affect their careers.

    As baby boomers retire and younger generations enter the workforce, employers have to be more adaptable to their busy schedules. Employers are finding that some workers may not like a traditional schedule, elder care responsibilities require greater flexibility and parents insist that they have more time with their families. Furthermore, employee priorities are shifting and many value more flexibility in lieu of a raise or bonus, which means savings for the company.

    If you are looking for ways to increase the flexibility in your workplace, contact one of our HR experts for guidance

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    A Plus BenefitsUnderstanding Workplace Flexibility
  • 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 humanresources@aplusbenefits.com or 1-800-748-5102.

    Much of this information is adapted from the Utah Labor Commission website: https://laborcommission.utah.gov/FAQ/discrimination_in_employment.html

     

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    A Plus BenefitsWhat Does At-Will Employment Really Mean?
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