Discover how to help your employees achieve personal success.

  • White House Announces an End to Subsidies for Individual Exchange Plans Under the ACA

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    On Oct. 12, 2017, the White House announced that it will no longer reimburse insurers for cost-sharing reductions made available to low-income individuals through the Exchanges under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), effective immediately. Because Congress did not pass an appropriation for this expense, the Trump administration has taken the position that it cannot lawfully make the cost-sharing reduction payments.

    This decision follows the U.S. House of Representatives’ position in a lawsuit it filed against the Obama administration in 2014 challenging the federal government’s authority to fund these cost-sharing reductions.

    On May 12, 2016, a federal district court judge for the District of Columbia ruled that the federal government did not have constitutional authority to reimburse insurers for the ACA’s cost-sharing reductions. However, the ruling was put on hold pending an appeal. As a result, cost-sharing reductions have continued to be paid, until a higher court could make a final determination on this issue. This appeal is still pending.

    What are the ACA subsides?
    The ACA created two federal health insurance subsidies—premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions—to help eligible individuals and families purchase health insurance through an Exchange. Cost-sharing reductions are available for individuals who have incomes of up to 250 percent of the federal poverty level and are also eligible for the premium tax credit.

    Individuals who receive cost-sharing reductions will have lower out-of-pocket costs at the point of service (for example, lower deductibles and copayments).

    The ACA requires insurers that offer Exchange health plans to reduce cost sharing for eligible individuals, and requires the federal government to reimburse insurers for the cost of that reduction on a monthly basis.


    While the immediate impact of this announcement is unclear, it could have a significant impact on individuals who enroll through the Exchange during the upcoming Nov. 1 open enrollment period. Some states have indicated their intention to sue the federal government to force these subsidies to be paid. However, until a federal court intervenes or Congress enacts an appropriation for these payments, it is possible that these cost-sharing reductions will no longer be paid.

    Several states, including New York and California, have indicated that they will sue the federal government to force the cost-sharing reduction payments to be made. In addition, some members of Congress have stated that they would support a measure enacting an appropriation for these payments. However, until a federal court intervenes or Congress enacts an appropriation, the cost-sharing reductions may no longer be paid.

    While no one can predict what changes may come to the ACA, we will continue to update you as new information becomes available.

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    A Plus BenefitsWhite House Announces an End to Subsidies for Individual Exchange Plans Under the ACA
  • Coaching Employees to Keep Them Engaged

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    Employee turnover is a huge concern for businesses of all sizes and there is a good reason for it. Statistics show that over half of employees are not engaged in their work and would be open to finding a new job opportunity. The good news is there are a few small things every business leader can do to help ensure their best employee talent sticks around long-term.

    Engage all employees in one-on-one discussions
    Often company leaders will only offer one-on-one coaching to supervisors in executives in their organizations. To keep employees at all levels engaged, conduct one-on-one meetings with everyone. These meetings give you the opportunity to address any employee concerns early on and offer meaningful, ongoing feedback. You can determine how often these discussions need to occur; weekly, bi-weekly or at least monthly.

    Help employees find fulfillment in their work
    Take advantage of your time in these one-on-one discussions to discover what motivates your employees. What are their true passions? Do they have untapped skills that their current role doesn’t allow them to utilize? Really get to know your employees and help them find ways to be fulfilled by their work.

    Take time to evaluate the ROI of your one-on-one coaching
    Make sure this time with employees isn’t just you checking a box on your to-do list. If it is, and you aren’t taking full advantage of this time, you won’t see the kind of improvement you are looking for in employee engagement and satisfaction. Make sure you are investing time in the preparation for these meetings and actually acting on the feedback you receive from employees.

    Looking for more ideas? Check out our free Coaching Toolkit and Employee Engagement Toolkit.

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    A Plus BenefitsCoaching Employees to Keep Them Engaged
  • Increase Productivity by Doing These Three Things at the End of Each Week

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    Small business leaders must wear many hats. They are also tasked with doing more with less. This often means they are strapped for time and resources, and always looking for ways to be more productive. One of the best ways to ensure you have a great week, is to prepare each Friday. A recent article from Fast Company suggests that you set an appointment with yourself, and don’t move it or cancel it. During this time ask yourself these three questions:

    Are my activities aligning with my goals?

    Do a quick gut check at the end of each week to make sure that the places you are focusing your energy are those that are getting you to your goals. If that is not the case, make a plan to change that for the next week.

    Where am I at with my “someday” goals?

    We all have things we’d like to get to “someday” but we haven’t actually set a deadline for. Take time each week to review just one of these goals and decide if you are ready to get more specific with making it happen. Doing this helps ensure that you don’t let these things sit on the back burner forever.

    What loose ends need tied up?

    Review your to do list and see what things you can tackle immediately to get them off your plate. Clean up your email inbox. Check your calendar so you know what is coming up next week. Clear off any loose papers on your desk, so you can start the week out with a clean work environment.

    Ending your week on a positive note is a great way to make sure you can enjoy your week and get your next week off on right foot. Share these ideas with the leaders in your organization and encourage them to give it a try.

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    A Plus BenefitsIncrease Productivity by Doing These Three Things at the End of Each Week
  • DOL Overtime Rule Defeated for Good

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    What you need to know

    A federal judge struck down the Department of Labor (DOL) overtime rule, which would have raised the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) minimum salary threshold from $23,660 to $47,476.

    The federal court’s decision is the final ruling on the subject, unlike the ban in November 2016 that merely halted the rule from taking effect.

    While the DOL can still challenge the ruling, experts say this is highly unlikely. In the decision, the judge noted that an increase to the FLSA salary threshold was legally permissible, but added that the DOL overstepped by nearly doubling it. The DOL is now expected to continue the rule-making process and eventually raise the threshold to a “reasonable limit.”

    However, it is uncertain what limit would be deemed reasonable. The court stated that adjusting the rule’s 2004 salary threshold for inflation would be an acceptable option.

    Another factor in the court’s decision was what it considered a circumvention of additional tests to determine FLSA exemptions. Under the current rule, employees must perform certain duties—in addition to earning the minimum salary limit—to qualify for an FLSA exemption. The court said that nearly doubling the minimum salary threshold made the duties test irrelevant.

    What happens next

    Based on the court’s summary judgment and noted opinions, the DOL will need to present a more reasonable salary threshold if it wishes to pass any future overtime rules. This means employers should continue operating as usual, but they should be aware that an increase might come down the road eventually.

    A Plus Benefits will keep you updated with any future developments on this matter. In the meantime, please contact our HR experts with any questions you may have.

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    A Plus BenefitsDOL Overtime Rule Defeated for Good
  • 5 Ways Millennial Employees Positively Impact Your Company

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    You most often hear negative stereotypes about millennials. They are lazy. They want more pay for less work. They are entitled.  They lack communication skills. They are job-hoppers. Hearing these and so many others shared all the time both anecdotally among business leaders and in articles found in every business publication, it can be difficult to get excited about the next generation of employees. But just like every generation that came before them, Millennials bring positive and negative things to the workplace. For now, we want to focus on the positive and a recent article in Entrepreneur does just that. Here are five ways that Millennial employees can positively impact your organization:

    They have a disruptive mindset.
    You have likely heard the buzzword “disruptor” many times in the business world. It usually refers to a product, person or company that changes the way we think about an industry. They are usually start-up companies that manage to unseat the giants in their industry due to their innovative ideas.

    Millennials are natural disruptors. They question the status quo and are constantly wondering if things could be done better. There is likely a great source of new ideas bubbling right beneath the surface of your Millennial employees. To gain access to their insights, all you need to do is ask. Encourage employees to share their ideas and provide guidance and support to vet these ideas and move those that are most valuable into action.

    They value experiences.
    More than any other generation they understand the importance of the customer’s experience with your brand. Allow Millennials to share their thoughts on how you can improve the user experience with the product or service.

    They are digitally savvy.
    Most Millennials grew up with technology all around them/. Most have computers in their homes and schools and cell phones from a very young age. Use this to your advantage when you’re looking at ways to improve your products, services, or even your internal processes with technology. You can also implement a reverse-mentoring program, where younger, more technically-savvy employees help those employees that may have a harder time getting up to speed on a new piece of technology.

    Millennials also grew up in the age of social media. They likely have a keen understanding of the platforms and how you might be able to best reach your customers there.

    They care about your purpose.
    Millennials aren’t really concerned with having fun at work as many might think. What really creates staying power for most millennial employees is having a purpose at work. Understanding the impact that one’s work has on their company, community and the world is important to them. You know why you went into business, so share that with your team often and allow them to spread that message.

    They want leadership.
    The stereotype of Millennials being lazy or lacking focus presents a great opportunity for business leaders. Though they may have lacked this in their childhood and young adult like, they really do want structure and accountability. Set high expectations for all employees and hold them accountable. Lead by example. Set high expectations for yourself and hold yourself accountable. Fairness matters greatly to Millennials, so make sure that you fairly assign work and communicate clearly what it takes to succeed.

    There is no avoiding the fact that Millennials will soon be taking over the workforce, and in many industries, they already have. Rather than have a negative attitude about that prospect, we hope that small business leaders will see the opportunities that Millennial employees bring to the organization.

    Want to learn more about this important part of our workforce? We have a webinar coming up on Thursday October 12, 2017 at 11:00 am (MST) about Unleashing the Power of Millennials with special guest speaker Ben Galvin (PhD), Assistant Professor in the Marriott School of Management at Brigham Young University who has done extensive research on leadership, management and unleashing the power of millennials. You can register for the webinar here.

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    A Plus Benefits5 Ways Millennial Employees Positively Impact Your Company
  • 6 Simple Strategies to Motivate Your Employees

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    In preparation for our Fall session of HR Boot Camp, we asked participants what their biggest HR challenge is. One of the things we hear often is what challenge it is to motivate employees to perform at a high level. Each individual employee may be motivated differently, creating a challenge for small business leaders already strapped for time and other resources. A recent article from Entrepreneur provides six strategies for motivating employees.

    1. Promote purpose. Companies that clearly communicate and demonstrate their purpose to employees have higher levels of employee engagement. This allows them to attract and retain the best possible employees. Unfortunately, according to research by Gallup, only 27% of employees say they can apply the company values to their individual job. There is a reason you chose to go into business. Share that with employees. Tell them what motivates you to come to work each day. Help them find purpose in their work.
    2. Actively listen and ask open ended questions. Engage in two-way communication with your employees. Ask them what motivates them and really listen to what they are saying. Find out what they are passionate about (inside or outside of work) and then ask questions about why that drives them. Use that information to help employees plan for their own career development to reach their goals.
    3. Catch a motivational wave. Take advantage of times when individuals are already motivated. Maybe it’s the beginning of the year, when people are setting New Year’s resolutions, or right after attending and industry conference or corporate event. Ride that motivational wave and keep the momentum going.
    4. Stop with the bribes. Rewards only work when they are handled strategically. Have a reason for rewarding and recognizing your employees. Doing it for no reason can lead to a lack of appreciation and a feeling of unfairness in the workplace.
    5. Lead by example. Make sure you are motivated as well. If your heart isn’t in it, others will notice., You must lead by example by pushing yourself to perform at a high level.
    6. Be vulnerable. Solicit positive and negative feedback from your employees. Share with them both your successes and your failures. This will increase the level of trust your team has in you as a leader.

    These strategies may not all work for all employees, but they should give you some ideas of where you can improve the motivation of your team. Once you implement one or more of these ideas, we want to know how it goes. Drop by our Facebook page and let us know.

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    A Plus Benefits6 Simple Strategies to Motivate Your Employees