Discover how to help your employees achieve personal success.

  • 5 Ways to Increase Employee Autonomy Today

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    The workforce is changing and employees are now expecting more autonomy than ever before. Employees want to have more power over how (and often when and where) they perform their jobs. Research by Gallup has repeatedly found that employees highly value flexibility and autonomy in a job. If you are striving to attract and retain the best employees, you’ll need to move your company in that direction. Here are five ways you can increase employee autonomy in your organization beginning today.

    Hire the right people.
    Increasing employee autonomy requires a great level of trust. This must begin at the very start of the relationship. Ask questions during the job interview that help you begin to build that trust early on. Some examples are:

    • Tell me about a time you managed a project with little to no oversight or direction.
    • Have you ever been in a situation where your role or responsibilities haven’t been clearly defined? What did you do?
    • Can you give me an example of a time you went above and beyond the call of duty to help either a customer or co-worker?
    • Tell me about a time when you felt you needed to immediately address a difficult situation with your boss or supervisor when others wouldn’t.

    Focus on quality training.
    This begins on day one with a strategic onboarding process. Provide new employees with the information they need to begin making good decisions early on in their employment. Reward and celebrate early wins in this area and redirect employees who may be off track. We also encourage employers to set up a mentorship program for new employees. This allows current employee to model good behaviors for new employees.

    Help employees to “Ask for forgiveness, not permission.”
    Empower employees to make decisions rather than requiring management approval for every decision. This requires a certain level of transparency with employees as they will need to understand the goals of the organization as well as relationships with stakeholders. Set clear boundaries and then allow employees to solve problems their way. Role play difficult situations and encourage employees to practice quick, thoughtful decision making. As with anything, your employees will become better the more they practice.

    Openly discuss career plans.
    While we are on the topic of transparency, discussing development options with employees helps improve their autonomy as well. Leaders should have weekly one on one meetings with employees that help to push the employee forward. Ask employees what they hope to get out of their role and where they see themselves going in the future. Small businesses often feel disadvantaged in this area, where there are not many roles that an employee could move into. Career planning doesn’t have to mean switching roles or getting a promotion. There are plenty of ways employers can encourage development without those things. Perhaps they could improve existing skills or learn new skills through an online course. Or maybe they would be interested in joining a professional association and attending trainings and conferences with peers in their industry. Ask your employees to find out what is important to them.

    Provide employees with more choices.
    Whenever possible, increase the number of choices your employees are allowed to make. Perhaps you can improve their benefits options, allowing them more options to choose from. Maybe you could add flexible working schedules where employees could choose their start and end times. Anytime you can allow an employee to choose what is best for them, you will reap the rewards for employee autonomy.

    Increasing employee autonomy not only increases employee engagement, but also frees up your managers for more important strategic planning and execution. It is a win-win situation for everyone. Demonstrating you trust your employees by giving them flexibility and choice also makes them trust your company and your leaders. Looking for more ideas? Reach out to our HR experts at

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    A Plus Benefits5 Ways to Increase Employee Autonomy Today
  • 3 Simple Questions You Can Ask to Increase Employee Retention

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    Employee retention is one of the things we hear most often when we ask businesses owners what their greatest challenge is. National statistics are right in line with that. Research from Future Workplace and Kronos, found that 87% of employers felt that improving retention is a critical priority for their organization. Retention doesn’t have to be that difficult. Here are three simple questions from a recent article in Inc. that your leaders can ask employees today to immediately improve retention.

    Do we have a high level of trust?
    Trust is a critical part of any relationship, including an employment relationship. You need to trust that employees will do the work they have been hired to do and your employees need to know that you will fulfill your promise to compensate them for their work and treat them fairly. Earning and keeping trust requires work. If you find that trust is lacking with any of your employees, your next question needs to be, “how can we rebuild trust and continue to work together?”

    Do you feel like you have space to voice your concerns and be heard?
    This is one of the ways you can earn trust from your employees. Providing them with opportunities to express their concerns gives employees a sense of security. Employees need to be able to tell you if they think your expectations are unrealistic. One way to ensure this opportunity is not missed is for leaders to have weekly one on one meetings with each employee they supervise. Set the expectation that the employee owns this meeting and that it is a time for them to share their ideas and concerns in addition to sharing their accountability report. Spend most of your time in this meeting listening to understand and get to know the employee.

    What can I do to help you be more successful?
    Great employees are usually great because they push themselves to keep getting better. High performers want opportunities to learn and develop their skills. Asking this question not only shows your employees that you care and are invested in their development, but also provide s opportunities to have conversations about the things the employee might like to do moving forward. Especially in a small business, where career advancement opportunities may be scarce, offering professional (and personal) development opportunities can give employees the growth they need to stick around.

    Asking these questions does very little if leaders do not act upon what is learned from the conversations with employees. But taking a few minutes each day and 30 minutes a week to check in with employees and ask them a few simple questions can help your leaders learn what is important to employees, aiding in employee engagement and retention long-term.

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    A Plus Benefits3 Simple Questions You Can Ask to Increase Employee Retention
  • Help Employees Destress to Reduce Employee Burnout

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    We all have times where we feel stressed, because of personal relationships, work, or other obligations. Stress isn’t always bad. It can sometimes be positive. Research suggests that a moderate level of stress that can be overcome often helps an individual feel stronger and more productive. Stress becomes a problem when it impedes our ability to be productive and reduces morale.

    There are many things that can cause negative levels of stress in the workplace. Poor communication, lack of accountability and distrust are just a few.


    You can evaluate the level of stress you may be adding to your team by asking yourself these simple questions:

    • Are my employees working in careers that have high depression rates? If so, what help can I offer to help them minimize stress?
    • Are my employees overworked? Do we have a high turnover rates? Do we have fair compensation?
    • Do I trust my employees and in turn do they trust me?
    • How often am I communicating one on one with my employees about not only their careers by their lives as a whole?
    • Am I holding m y team accountable for their work?
    • Am I treating employees fairly?
    • Is my management style adding or reducing to my employee’s stress?

    We cannot control all the stress our employees experience. Employees may have problems outside the workplace that increase their stress levels. This makes finding ways to minimize stress in the work environment even more important to improving employee productivity and morale.

    Here are some stress-reducing activities to try with your employees:

    • Get out of the office and go on a walk
    • End the day doing ten minutes of meditation
    • Create a game area for your employees to hang out and build personal relationships during breaks
    • Take your team to lunch away from the office
    • Find ways to recognize employees or departments for their hard work or accomplishments
    • Do a fun service project to help everyone get engaged and give back

    What ideas have you implemented to help employees destress? We would love to hear about them on our Facebook page

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    A Plus BenefitsHelp Employees Destress to Reduce Employee Burnout
  • 7 Things Employees Need if You Want Them to Stick Around

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    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 the 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

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

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    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

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  • Recent Changes to State and Local Minimum Wage Across the US

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    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

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    A Plus BenefitsRecent Changes to State and Local Minimum Wage Across the US