Discover how to help your employees achieve personal success.

  • 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
  • Tips for Getting Back to Work After a Break

    Getting back to work after the holidays or a vacation can be really difficult for leaders and employees. Even with the best of intentions, it can be easy to lose valuable time after returning to work from any type of break or vacation. This is one of the reasons that many employees do not enjoy taking time off. In fact, 55% of Americans do not take all of their allotted paid time off. Returning can be especially draining, making it feel like the time off wasn’t really worth it.deathtostock_meticulous-09

    A recent article on gives some tips to avoid this feeling, allow you the maximum benefit from your time off.

    Expect to be slow, and plan accordingly: Don’t expect to be at maximum productivity when you return from a break. Be generous when you schedule time to complete projects, knowing that it may take you a few days to get back into your groove. Easing back into work and setting realistic expectations for yourself will help you avoid feelings of failure after returning from time off.

    Proactively hold off chatty co-workers: When you have gone several days without seeing people that you are used seeing every day, it can be easy to get caught up in long conversations about what happened while you were away. Schedule time in to talk to co-workers, but make sure you set boundaries. If you are interrupted while you are working on something that requires your full attention, plan a response such as, “I had a great holiday and I can’t wait to hear more about yours after I finish up this project. Can we meet in the breakroom for a cup of coffee in about 30 minutes?” Then set a time limit for your break and stick to it.

    Commit to smaller blocks of time: Rather than scheduling yourself an hour or two before taking a break, on your first day back, schedule small chunks of time. Set a timer for 20 or 30 minutes and take a short break, even if the project isn’t complete. Stand up and stretch if nothing else. This will give you the energy you need to get through the day.

    Commit to easier tasks: Don’t tackle your biggest project as soon as you get back into the office. Ease yourself in by taking on short, easy projects first. This will help you feel accomplished as you see your to-do list dwindling. Then once you’ve moved those shorter projects put of the way, you will be able to focus on the larger ones with your full attention.

    Confirm immediate and immovable tasks: In order to commit to shorter, easier tasks, you need to understand which upcoming projects have immovable deadlines. Keep a list of these in plain sight so you don’t lose track of them. Try to pare anything that has to be done immediately into smaller tasks in order to keep them moving forward.

    Start early or end late: Get a jumpstart on your week by committing to arriving early to staying late your first day (or few days) back. Spending a little extra effort for a few days, could allow you to get caught up and back to your normal productivity level even faster.

    Share these ideas with your employees, especially those that seem to be struggling upon returning from breaks. This can be a great coaching opportunity.

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    A Plus BenefitsTips for Getting Back to Work After a Break
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    Simple Things You Can do Today to be a Better Leader

    Being a small business leader can be overwhelming. Putting out fires while wearing multiple hats leaves little time for leaders to work on their professional development. A recent article from Inc. shares some simple things you can do to be a better leader. Here are some of our favorites. Don’t try to do them all at once. That is a recipe for burnout. Instead, try picking just one to focus on each week.

    young business people group have meeting and working in modern bright office indoor

    young business people group have meeting and working in modern bright office indoor

    Develop your skills– Pick one skill you would really like to improve and create a plan to make that happen. Maybe you would really like to be better at public speaking, or conflict management, or having difficult conversations. There are lots of free resources available.

    Admit when you are wrong– This allows your peers and employees to trust you. They will also be more willing to come to you when they make a mistake.

    Learn how to spot talent– Recruiting great people is the key to running a successful company. Take a look at some of your best employees. What characteristics do they share? Fine-tune your ideal employee profile for your key positions to help you find the very best fit. Check out our Recruiting Toolkit for more ideas.

    Give credit where its due– Don’t take credit for the work of others. Allow others to be the hero when they came up with a great idea or did a majority of the work.

    Be a mentor, not a preacher– Guide your employees rather than telling them exactly what to do. Avoid micromanaging and generously delegate. This will help your employees advance and grow in their careers.

    Invest in people– You want employees who are happy, engaged and loyal. To accomplish this, you have to be willing to invest both time and money in your improving employees’ experience at your organization. Looking for ideas? Our experienced Human Resources team can help.

    Give freedom and be flexible– Give space for your employees to work at their best. This will require you to be a little flexible and allow some freedoms for employees to determine how they do their best work.

    Be quick to praise– When someone does a great job, let them know immediately. It can be so easy to fall into the trap of only providing negative feedback. Focus on providing genuine, positive feedback to employees regularly. Check out our Employee Recognition Toolkit for some ideas.

    Get out of your office– Come in early to get a head start on your early morning tasks so you can mingle with employees as they arrive for the day. This will make you a more approachable and accessible leader.

    Have fun– Take opportunities to have a little fun with your employees. Recognize that these individuals spend a majority of their waking hours at your organization and may need some time to let loose and have some fun. Some ideas that work great this time of year include an indoor snowball fight, an ugly sweater competition, cookie decorating or a soup cook-off.

    Hold people accountable– Clearly define your expectations and hold people accountable if they don’t meet them. Holding people accountable will help your company meet its goals. It also demonstrates to employees that you value hard work. Don’t let those who miss deadlines or show up late to meetings get away with it.

    Give trust to earn trust– If you want your employees to trust you, you will need to show that you trust them as well. Make sure your employees know you have confidence in their abilities.

    Show compassion and care– Remember that your employees are human. They have lives outside of work that will sometimes have an impact on their energy and emotions. Try to find ways to balance their needs and the company’s goals.

    Lead with passion– Explain to your employees what motivates you to get out of bed each morning. Help them understand where your passion for what you do comes from. This will be contagious.

    Share these ideas with your leadership team. Ask each of them to focus on one item each week for the next three months. Hold each other accountable for reporting on the area being worked on and how that is going. Then when the three months is up, take a moment evaluate how far the team has come in that time.

    If you give this a try, we’d love to know how it works for your organization. Email us at and let us know.

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    A Plus BenefitsSimple Things You Can do Today to be a Better Leader