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Four Steps to Avoid an Uber-like Company Culture Disaster


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You may have heard about some of the challenges at Uber in the news lately. The company grew rapidly from a small start-up to a global organization and is now experiencing what many believe to be some major growing pains. It seems clear that the company failed to build a strong ethical culture prior to their explosive growth. As a result, they are experiencing some very public issues including an allegation that Uber’s male-dominated work environment fostered harassment against female employees and a video recently released of the company’s CEO swearing at a driver who complained about his rates being cut. Uber seems to recognize that that their culture needs a major overhaul and seem to be making steps to improve it and the public’s opinion of the organization.

Uber is not alone when it comes to these challenges. Businesses of all sizes experience many of these same things. Finding and keeping great employees is especially difficult when you have a poor reputation as an employer. A recent article on Forbes.com provides four steps your company can take avoid an Uber-like company culture disaster.

Understand what company culture is (and what it is not).
Your culture is not defined by your foosball table or your holiday party. All too often companies think of culture as the “fun stuff” you do to keep employees happy and engaged. Those are perks, not culture.

Your company’s culture is the set of shared values that guide employee behavior. As the article mentions, culture is what employees do when no one is look. Culture should be looked at as verb, not a noun. It defines what you do (or don’t do) as an organization.

Establish values that will make the company win ethically.
If your company values haven’t been reviewed in a while (or you don’t have any) now is a great time to take a look. Having catchy values like “always be hustin” or “be yourself” (yes, these are real values reportedly held by Uber) sends the wrong message to your employees about what is really important. In Uber’s case these values were part of an aggressive work environment that focused on individual results, rather than the success of the team.

When establishing your values, avoid using generic phrases like teamwork or productivity. Instead describe the behaviors you hope to see from your employees like “proactively help colleagues succeed.” Your values don’t have to be flashy or catchy, they just need to tell your employees what is important to the success of your organization.

Hold employees accountable to the established values.
Once you have decided on the values for the organization, be sure to communicate those to the employees often. Explain their importance and how they will put the company on a path toward success. Make your values a part of the language used by your organization. When providing performance feedback to employees, both positive and negative, reference how the behaviors support or detract from the company values.

Reward those employees that embody those company’s values.
Publicly recognize those employees who embody the company values and make them a part of their work every day. A little peer pressure goes a long way. Other employees will take notice. Make an example of those that are doing things in line with company values. And while you’re at it, make sure you and your executive and management teams are good examples for other employees. It is important that your leaders live and breathe the company values or employees won’t buy-in.

Do you have questions or want to bounce your ideas off an HR expert? You can reach our talented team at 1-800-748-5102 or humanresources@aplusbenefits.com

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A Plus BenefitsFour Steps to Avoid an Uber-like Company Culture Disaster

Your Employees Want to Know How They Are Doing


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Imagine you received a set of Legos without the instructions. You might be able to figure out how some of the pieces go together by looking at the picture on the outside of the box. But as you put the set together, it would be nice to go back to the instructions and check on your progress to make sure you are on the right track and not wasting your r time. It would be frustrating and nearly impossible to complete the set exactly correctly without some instructions.

This analogy demonstrates exactly why feedback is so important for employees. As small business leaders, we need to let employees know what is expected of them. We need to be the set of instructions they can refer back to in order to make sure they are progressing toward their goal.

But too often, giving performance feedback takes a back burner for leaders, even though we all know how important it is. According to research from LeadershipIQ, only 29% of employees say they “always” know whether their performance is where it should be.

Why do leaders avoid giving feedback? The research shows that 90% of leaders say they have avoided giving feedback because they were concerned that the employee would react poorly. What these leaders may be missing is hat giving ongoing performance feedback would actually make these conversations easier. Instead of waiting for a scheduled performance review, leaders need to let employees know in the moment whether their performance is up to par, and that includes both positive and negative performance feedback. When you provide feedback more often, employees get used to it and come to expect it.

It may be surprising, but employees actually do want to know how they are doing, even if they aren’t performing well. In fact, 57% of employees said they prefer constructive feedback over praise or recognition.

Keep this in mind as you move forward this week and make giving feedback to your employees a priority. Do you need help getting started? Check out the recording of our recent Performance Communication Made Easy webinar or reach out to our team of HR experts at 1-800-748-5102  or humanresources@aplusbenefits.com

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A Plus BenefitsYour Employees Want to Know How They Are Doing

We are Celebrating National Employee Appreciation Day!


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Today is National Employee Appreciation Day! We love having the opportunity to celebrate some of the outstanding employees that work with our clients. Their hard work and dedication truly makes these organizations and our communities better. While we aren’t able to highlight every great employee, here are some of the stories we received.

Jill Greenlaw- Woodrow Studios
Jill Greenlaw has been an exceptional member of our team. Her clients love her and the work she does, it’s obvious that she is dedicated to her craft and continually improves herself for the sake of the art of her work. She’s a major impact on our culture and loves to see everyone party together. Jill Greenlaw is going to be a name to remember. Nominated by Matt Frisbie

Jody Smith- Precision Exams, LLC
Jody Smith is a stalwart, dedicated employee who quietly goes about her work, but is always looking out for others and wanting to make their time at work better. Jody started with our company five years ago as a temporary customer service representative and has done such an amazing job she now is our Director of Support Services! What makes Jody a truly remarkable person and employee is that she looks for things that need to be done, and does them. When she doesn’t know how to do something, she learns how to do it. And, when she finds something that doesn’t work right, she fixes it.

In a small growing company, Jody’s dedication has been one of the significant differentiating factors that has helped us grow into an industry leader. She is the type of person everyone loves to work with because you know she’ll get the job done. Because of that dedication, Jody has grown into several roles including highly technical ones with unique skill sets.

Jody’s number one priority in life is her family. She loves and cherishes that role. As an employer, I find that dedication brings a positive influence to the office. Nominated by Edson Barton

Bill Curry- Argon Technologies
Bill is our warehouse/RMA/inventory/shipping manager. The reason I’m submitting Bill is for all the “/”s in his job title. Bill’s original job here was our shipping manager, where he shipped roughly $10 million in product in his first year. However, our company grew at such a fast pace and our situation changed so much that we outsourced 90% of our shipping to another company in town. Within a couple of weeks, Bill was overseeing the transition to the new shipping company, managing the relationship, as well as stepping into managing the rest of our warehouse operations, including quality assurance and a couple other growing needs. He’s done a great job adapting to a face-moving, fluid situation and that’s why I’m sending his story. Nominated by Nick Hodges

Nicole Hamilton- Mountain Peaks Family Practice
I am writing this appreciation note for our referral clerk Nicole Hamilton. Nicole has been with our clinic through thick and thin (16 years) and never seems to let anything get her down. She is always happy, positive, and sensitive to all our patient needs. She has a beautiful spirit that spreads happiness to all around her. She always does a special little note to all the staff when someone is down or having a bad day. She is our ray of sunshine and life at the Peaks just wouldn’t be the same. Nominated by Melissa Bassett

Barbara Fenstermaker- DynaQuest Technologies
I would like to recognize Barbara Fenstermaker, our Accountant.  Barbara has worked for us since 2007, and has played a crucial part in growing our company.  Starting out at only 20 hours/week, Barbara now works closer to 30 hours to help us with our increased demand.  Not only does she handle all of our accounting tasks (A/R, A/P, Payroll, etc), she provides valuable analysis into our business.  Barbara is a CPA and makes sure to keep up on her education hours to retain that certification.

Barbara does all of this with a smile and a cheerful heart.  We would like to recognize her years of dedication.  She provides detailed accounting, valuable insight and friendship to the whole company.  We don’t know what we would do without her! Nominated by Michelle Kushlan

Sara Lewis- JG Wholesale
I would like to recognize Sara Lewis as an outstanding employee with JG Wholesale.  Sara is the epitome of a dedicated team player.  While her primary responsibilities include managing all of our marketing efforts and websites (which she does an amazing job with) she is always willing to help out in other areas such as customer service and administrative tasks.  She is well respected by everyone in the office and never misses a deadline.  Sara understands our company goals and objectives and knows that she plays a key role in our success.   She is one of the first people in the office each morning and often is the last to leave.  We are thrilled to have Sara on our team.  Thanks Sara! Nominated by Matt Graham

Berenise (BP) Pagalan- Physicians Choice Home Health Care
BP came to our company 4 years ago in May. She started as a records clerk and now is the driving force as our intake/admissions coordinator and authorization admin. She gave birth to a son nearly 2 years ago next month and within a few weeks was working from home and came back to work within 6 weeks. She brings her son to work daily so that she can be here and work the hours needed to do her job.  We count on her for a very important role within our small team and organization.  If you ask any team member in our company, they will tell you she is one of the best and hardest working employees we have. She always helps others and whenever we have a void she is the first to volunteer to step up and fill it. She is truly irreplaceable. Nominated by Nicola Fox

Lisa Brady- Select Comfort Systems
She is one of the hardest workers and helps make the office run smoothly. She takes so much pride in everything she does from accounts receivable, to accounts payable, she also schedules all the work and makes sure that all employees have what they need for their jobs. As an owner of Select Comfort System, I would like to say thank you Lisa for all you do. Nominated by Tonuah Nance

Monica Hansen- Pennbridge Lodging
Monica has been with Pennbridge Lodging and the Towneplace Suites and Fairfield Inn and Suites in Orem for over two years. She is the Director of Sales at our hotels. She brings professionalism and a smiling face to work each day and is a positive influence to those around her. Monica has built strong relationships with a large amount of corporate clients in Utah Valley which brings fantastic business to our hotels each week. Nominated by Mike Webster

Tamera Hays- Mountain West Law
Tamera Hays, our receptionist, is a wonderful employee. She is the first impression our clients get of our firm when they come through our front doors and she is always happy, pleasant and helpful. She will help with any project needed and fills in whenever necessary, whether that means a weekend project or filling in for other staff on vacation.  She is an asset to our team and we are grateful she is with us! Nominated by Shellee Timmreck

Krista Barnes- Hughes Appraisal Service
Krista Barnes is the kind of employee that every employer would love to have.  She is our main office assistant and is responsible for managing the work flow in our office, fielding phone calls, preparing files, tracking invoicing and following up on collections.  As a worker, she has improved our company and found ways to be more efficient and productive, while still producing quality results.  She can accomplish her work so effectively that she is now doing the work of 2 people in less time.  This is a huge bonus to the company not only in the time and money savings it provides, but also in the continuity of work.  However, this is not even her greatest contribution to our workplace.  She is the employee that brings sunshine and happiness into our workplace.  She always has a smile and a kind demeanor and wants to make everyone happy.  She will constantly remind me to smile and be happy when we have stressful days or when things are not going well.  This positive attitude and willingness to serve others is what makes Krista not only a great employee, but one that every employer is looking for. Nominated by Chad Hughes

Lauren Caggiano- Social5
Lauren Caggiano demonstrates an exceptional commitment to Social5, a positive attitude that won’t quit, and a willingness to take on more than her share of work to make the company successful. As our go-to-girl for almost every out-of-the-box assignment, Lauren has proven herself to be 100% dependable on every project, whether it is designing editorial calendars for Cedar Crest Ice Cream or boosting content for Forward Corporation. She builds strong relationships and carries out responsibilities without much need for direction. Despite her heavy workload, Lauren often reaches out proactively to ask if she can do more to help Social5.  We appreciate her amazing commitment to our company. Nominated by Judson Smedley

Jena Wood- Precision Exams
I would like to nominate Jena Wood as a fantastic employee that helps make our organization successful.  Jena is the best.  She has a smile and an encouraging word for everyone.  Her background is varied enough that she has something in common with almost anyone she talks to so she can make them feel comfortable.  She has a strong work ethic and is willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.  Since coming to our company as a customer support representative one year ago, she has taken over accounts receivable and become the manager of customer service and is helping intimately with developing a partnership that is vital to our company.  She is helpful, creative, competent, compassionate, thorough, a jack-of-all-trades.  She is the glue that helps hold us all together.  We are truly fortunate to have Jena as one of our team! Nominated by Audrey Nielsen

Chad de Lise- Disruptive Advertising
We would like to nominate our AMAZING SMB Team Lead, Chad de Lise. Chad is extremely busy overseeing the success of over 100 SMB client accounts. Despite his crazy workload, he makes it a priority to ensure every email or phone call is responded to in a timely manner.  He is VERY organized and never misses a deadline.  If Chad says it will get done, we know without a doubt, IT WILL GET DONE!  In addition, he never fails to send a thank you email to anyone that assists him with a request.

Chad is an exceptional example to all of us regarding dedication, hard work and gratitude.  We feel fortunate to have him on our Disruptive team! Nominated by Kristi McClure

Peyton Warr- Acaydia Spa & School of Aesthetics
Peyton is the first person our guests see or speak to upon entering our facility. Over the past few months, several guests have taken the time to notify managers of how helpful, kind and welcoming she is. Things can get pretty busy and I am always impressed to see Peyton’s ability to juggle and multi-task with a smile on her face. She is professional in her work habits and is a person that can be counted on to follow through with what she commits to do. I appreciate knowing that Peyton gives such a wonderful first impression to all who enter our facility. Thank you for doing such a great job! Nominated by Andrea Hulse

Brixton Hakes- Dexter and Dexter
I nominate Brixton Hakes as an outstanding employee.  Years ago, he interned with our firm and then returned as a staff member.  He has now He has now returned to work with our firm as an attorney with additional experience, knowledge and expertise.  We look forward to working with him again! Nominated by Chris Dexter

Charles Nackos- Elite Housing
Elite Housing of Springville is very fortunate to have Charles Nackos as a sales consultant. He is extremely warm, kind, and friendly with customers and other employees. He had 100% attendance in 2016, and is always willing to fill in for others who are ill or need an unexpected day off. He is helpful to customers whose first language is Spanish, as he is fluent in their tongue. When snow falls, Charlie is the first to go out and clear walk ways and stairs.  He continually helps tidy and clean the model homes on the sales center. He is a team player in every sense of the term! We wholeheartedly nominate Charles Nackos for employee appreciation recognition. Nominated by Darrell Mecham

Kristine Price- Stewart’s RV
Thank you for the opportunity to tell you about one of our employees, her name is Kristine Price. Kristine is our Parts Department Manager. She has been with our company about 18 years. She is very knowledgeable about our product and has a keen awareness of our customers and their needs.

Kristine remembers most of our customers’ names and is able to make them feel like family within a short period of time. Several times I’ve heard a customer say “the reason I’m here is, my friend has suggested that she can find anything”, and sure enough she can. She can resolve a lot of conflict by just listening and then suggesting appropriate solutions that put the customer at ease. I personally feel she is the reason we have a lot of repeat customers.

With fellow employees she is like a second mother or your sister, she genuinely wants to know what is happening and how she can help. Kristine is one of the first to suggest ways to help in the personal lives of employees. She has a talent for listening and going to work to help. We are a team company and she is our team captain. I hope you will consider her. Nominated by Arynne Landeen

Luke Phelps- West Coast Towing
We would like to nominate Luke Phelps for the Employee Appreciation Day. Luke is always happy to help, has the best attitude even when we have to call him at 2am for a tow and he has already worked all day! He is always willing to go the extra mile without a gripe or complaint of any kind. He is an extremely hard worker & is a very appreciated member of our team. Nothing that he does goes unnoticed. We are very lucky to have him! So, a HUGE THANK YOU to Luke. We are proud to have you at West Coast Towing. Nominated by the management at West Coast Towing

Chris Riding- Alpine Tiny Homes
I would like to nominate our shop foreman Chris Riding.  He shows up early and often times stays much later than needed in order to accomplish his goals.  We build tiny homes and we wouldn’t be able to do it with Chris.  He might be the most important part of our organization. Nominated by Brian Hawkins

Emerson Hammer- Nomatic
I want to recognize Emerson Hammer as an outstanding employee and highly valuable member of our team. He constantly is going above and beyond what is required of him. I know that when I give him a task it will get done the right way.  He has never let me down. I can’t say enough about Emerson. He is a huge asset and a critical member of our company. Nominated by Jacob Durham

James Briggs- KarmaHolic Media
James has been a tremendous asset to myself and my company. The most valuable thing James has done for me is taking time I spent during the day working so I’m able to spend time with my wife and children.  To me this is what’s most important and James has allowed me the opportunity to have that time, where I wouldn’t have had before.  I’m writing this from the sunny beaches of Maui, so thank you James for giving me “TIME!” Nominated by Cory Bridgewater

Marty Nabhan- eLearning Brothers
eLearning Brothers would like to nominate Marty Nabhan for Employee Appreciation day this year. Marty does Quality Assurance for all of our awesome custom courses to make sure that they delight our clients and that they are visually explosive to the learners. When he is not busy completing QA work, he is always looking for ways he can assist others in the office.

Marty is also our Custom Awards Coordinator. He has an amazing skill and ability with words which has led to us receiving over 15 different awards over the past year and a half. His commitment and skills make sure we have timely and professional submissions.

He has been awarded eLB the first ever MARNAB award (Best Employer Award) and we proudly display it in the front office. Marty is a true asset to our team, and we are so very happy that he has chosen to work with us. Nominated by Rosie Doke

Dean Smart- MULTIVOICE
We are nominating Dean Smart for Employee Appreciation Day from our Company. Dean’s attitude is always company first. His sacrifice, experience and abilities contribute to our Companies success. A recent event has made his contributions vitally appreciated. At approximately 10:00 am, with four of us in the office on the 4th of January 2017. A sudden loud cracking noise startled us. It sounded like some had hit the side of our building. Wayne walked outside to investigate and seeing no evidence of any damage, returned to his office.

Dean noticed that the water sprinklers installed in the ceiling appeared to be lower. No doubt because of his experience in construction. Instinctively he produced a ladder to inspected the trusses above our suspended ceiling and revealed this safety issue to Dustin. Dustin ascended the ladder and took pictures stating, “that doesn’t look good.” The moment his feet were back on the ground, there was another loud crack and the ceiling caved in. The sprinkler system broke and water was blowing everywhere. Dean ran to shut off the water and called 911. Emergency personnel were at the build in a matter of minutes.

All four employees evacuated the building, grabbing our computers and what we could pack off quickly with the hopes of keeping our business running. None of us were injured. This may have been a different scenario if Dean had not presented this hazardous condition prior to the collapse.

Due to the inclement weather, our first objective was to re-locate. Our second objective was to quickly re-organize our business. INVENTORY Nightmare J. In addition to his list of responsibilities, Dean has stepped up again to help with this huge organizing process. Applying his experience with sales, he is now also promoting our awesome products and building alliances with distributors and clients. January is the beginning of our very busy football promotional season.

As a team, we have all made contributions. Our employees are amazing.  After taking a brief poll, we are nominating Dean as our MVE. (Most Valuable Employee) for making a significant contribution to the success of our company. Nominated by Mary Smart

April Kuntz- Legacy Smiles Family Dental
Here, at Legacy Smiles Family Dental, we have an amazing team.  Each person has a unique piece of the puzzle that makes us who we are.  One of the most amazing team members we have is April Kuntz.  She is our lead dental assistant and she has been with our practice for 14 years.  We don’t know what we’d do without her.  She is very reliable, dependable, considerate, kind, patient, and a very hard worker.  Everyone’s day is better when April is working.  We can’t say enough good about her, she’s a ROCK STAR in our eyes. Nominated by Kristen Jones

Sherry Parker- Bel Aire Senior Living
I would like to nominate my resident care director Sherry Parker. In Sherry’s position as care director she is over the following elements in our business among several other things:

  • New resident evaluations and admissions.
  • Supervises and trains the entire care giving staff (~30-35 people).
  • Oversees the daily care of our 55 assisted living and Alzheimer’s residents.
  • Communicates on behalf of our residents for – doctor visits and outcomes, dental visits, home health and hospice agencies, family updates on resident conditions, pharmaceutical orders & change orders, and takes phone calls from direct care staff 24/7 on medication questions and staff or resident incidents.
  • Oversees the work of our consulting Registered Nurse.
  • Continually updates resident online profiles and care plans as they change or decline.
  • Mentors, consults with, and trains care giving staff on all aspects of their job.
  • Oversees all aspect of resident medications, their medication regimens, medication storage and disposal.

Sherry also contracted cervical cancer in 2013, which she fought through and doing very well.  In early November 2016, her scheduled annual PET scan showed her cancer had returned.  In December, she received four rounds of Extensive Radiation Therapy on both lungs, then began chemotherapy treatments in early January.  Every three weeks she goes through intensive chemotherapy treatments.

Sherry continues to be a main, positive influence and continues to work hard.  She only misses Thursday and Fridays on here every-three-week chemo treatments, then is back to work on the following Monday.  She is an inspiration to all of us! Nominated by Steve Sabins

Some clients also asked if they could recognize one of our internal A Plus Benefits employees.

Kathy Wright- Payroll Specialist
I would like to let you know how much I appreciated working with Kathy Wright as our payroll specialist for over 16 years (we have been with A Plus since 1997). When she was ill and had to take leave a leave of absence I felt so bad and missed her tremendously.  She was more than a person that I worked with she was my friend.  Kathy is so kind and caring to everyone. This is how I felt when I would talk to her or she would call me if she had any questions: “Some people come into our lives and quickly go…. Some people stay for a while and leave their footprints on our hearts and we are never, ever the same.” She will always have a place in my heart.  Thanks Kathy and we wish you the best of everything.
Nominated by Connie Wells, Office Manager, Construction Plus, Inc.

Mary Pons- Payroll Specialist
Can I also nominate one of your employees? Mary Ponds. She is always so pleasant to work with and puts up with all the constant changes my providers give her. She is so patient and will always send me a reminder if I’m late for the payroll and never gets upset. I appreciate kind heart and all that she does for our clinic. Thank you Mary. Nominated by Melissa Bassett, Mountain Peaks Family Practice

 Thank you to all of the amazing employees who work so hard for our clients. It is impossible to name everyone who has made an impact. Also thank you to all of the A Plus Benefits employees who make it enjoyable to come to work each day.

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A Plus BenefitsWe are Celebrating National Employee Appreciation Day!

Understanding Employer Record Retention Requirements


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Federal laws, such as the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA), the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Equal Pay Act (EPA), impose recordkeeping duties on employers. These recordkeeping duties require employers to create and retain certain information related to their compliance with federal laws.

We have created a printable PDF document to help employers understand some of the most common recordkeeping and retention requirements, indicating the longest retention period established by federal law. The table does not attempt to outline all documents an employer may need in all situations.

State law requirements are not addressed in this table. To determine the time period for which records should be retained, it is important to reference applicable state laws in addition to federal laws. State laws may include recordkeeping requirements that operate in addition to or in conjunction with federal requirements.

Additional resources:

  • Department of Labor’s (DOL) web page on OSHA injury and illness recordkeeping requirements
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) web page on fair employment recordkeeping requirements.
  • DOL’s web page on recordkeeping under the FLSA

If you have any additional questions about recordkeeping, please feel free to reach out to our team of HR experts at 1-800-748-5102 or humanresources@aplusbenefits.com.

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A Plus BenefitsUnderstanding Employer Record Retention Requirements

Company Culture Might Be More Important Than You Think


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Company culture is the unifying element that holds everyone in an organization together. Culture encompasses the written and unwritten behavioral norms and expectations of those within the company.

 

Why Is Company Culture Important?
According to Alternative Board’s 2016 Small Business Pulse Survey, 93 percent of entrepreneurs believe that promoting company culture is good for productivity and creativity.

Recent studies have revealed that employees highly value company culture in their decision to stay with—or leave—a company. Moreover, it has been proven that employees who identify with and feel a sense of belonging to a company’s culture are more productive, happier and want to work for the company for longer.

Retaining employees who are happy and productive is not only good for employee morale, but also for your bottom line. High turnover is costly and can also harm your company’s culture and cause remaining workers to become disengaged and unproductive.

A positive and strong company culture not only improves retention rates; it also improves recruiting rates. Prospective employees care about your reputation as a company and are evaluating potential employers on their corporate culture. In fact, many millennials view cultural compatibility with a company as just as important as salary.

How Can I Improve My Company’s Culture?
According to Staples Business Advantage, companies can do the following five things to improve their culture:

Inspire collaboration
Creating a collaborative organization allows the free flow of ideas leading to a more innovative and creative organization. Employees want to work where they feel like they are part of something important. Help employees tie their work back to the company goals.

Respect employee input
Having open communication with employees helps build a string culture. Because leaders will be providing employees with constructive performance feedback, it is important for leaders to be open to receiving feedback from employees as well.

Improve meetings
On average employees currently spend 35-50 percent of their time in meetings. Imagine the toll this can take on the productivity and morale of your team if your meetings are not effective. Check out our Effective Meeting Toolkit for ideas for improvement.

Support flexible work arrangements
According to research by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), 55 percent of employees cited workplace flexibility as a very important aspect of their job satisfaction. Flexible work arrangements can be customized to meet the needs of the organization and the employees. Check out this recent blog for some ideas on getting started.

Recruit strong leadership
Research from Gallup has shown that managers can account for up to 70 percent variance in employee engagement. Hiring great leaders and providing ongoing leadership development opportunities not only increases the retention of those leaders, but also of the employees they manage.

These suggestions are just a handful of ideas for improving your culture. For more information on company culture, contact the HR experts at A Plus Benefits at 1-800-748-5102 or humanresources@aplusbenefits.com.

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A Plus BenefitsCompany Culture Might Be More Important Than You Think

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

Revised I-9 Form Must be Used By Employers Starting Jan. 22, 2017


Earlier this month, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a revised version of the I-9 form used for employment eligibility verification.

The new version of the form dated 11/14/2016 must be used by employers no later than January 22, 2017.

writing-828911_640Until then, employers are able to use to use the version dated 03/08/2013 or the new version. A Plus Benefits is working to revise our new hire packets both online and in print to comply with this change by the end of the year.

Here is a copy of the new form if you are interested in seeing the changes.

Please note that this new version only needs to be used for newly hired employees. You do not need to have current employees complete a new I-9 form.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our HR team.

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A Plus BenefitsRevised I-9 Form Must be Used By Employers Starting Jan. 22, 2017
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Tips for Reducing Stress in the Workplace


This time of year can become incredibly stressful for business owners and employees alike. From family
obligations, to the holidays, to year-end budgets and deadlines, it easily become overwhelming. When you are going through stressful time, or you know your employees are, there are a few things you can do to make the best of it. Here are some easy ways you can reduce your stress-level at work:frog-1339892_640

Take a break and talk to someone: Make an effort to periodically get up from your desk and have a short conversation with a co-worker. Try to avoid eating lunch alone. Use that time to build relationships with others at work. Having friends at work makes the workplace more enjoyable and less stressful because you have someone you can go to for support.

Exercise: Increasing your exercise level has been shown to reduce stress. Start a lunch-time walking group. Do you have a FitBit or other activity tracker? Get a group together for some healthy wellness competitions inside and outside work.

Eat healthy: Make an effort to eat as healthy as possible to improve concentration and focus. What you eat also affects your mood. Get your co-workers involved by sharing easy, healthy lunch and dinner recipes.

Get sleep: This can be difficult when you are feeling busy or overwhelmed, but getting enough sleep allows you to stay focused and productive and you will feel less stressed. You can use a FitBit or other activity tracker to track your sleep as well. Shoot for at least 8 hours per night. Also ty to stick to a consistent bedtime and wake time.

Prioritize: Writing out daily to -do lists with short term goals will help you stay on track. Prioritize your tasks to make sure you tackle to most important ones first and don’t get caught up spending time doing tasks that could wait until later.

Think positive: What we focus the most on has the greatest impact on our day. Focus on the positive things. Celebrate small wins and progress throughout the day.

Stay organized: If you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed, take a look at your work space. Is it cluttered? Often your physical environment can add to your stress level. Take a few minutes to get organized.

If you know your team is feeling the stress of the end of the year, share some of these ideas with them. Let them know that you understand how they feel and offer suggestions and support when possible. Simply offering listening ear or asking what you can do to help can make a world of difference.

 

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A Plus BenefitsTips for Reducing Stress in the Workplace
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Five Tips for Staying Healthy During Cold and Flu Season


woman-698943_640The holidays are just around the corner and the weather is getting colder around the country. With the changing weather, the potential for contracting a cold or the flu increases substantially.

The flu is an infection of the nose, throat and lungs caused by the influenza virus—with symptoms like fever, cough, sore throat, fatigue, loss of appetite, and a runny or stuffy nose.

While the common cold and the seasonal flu share many of the same symptoms, colds are often characterized by mild headaches and body aches. Unlike the flu, colds don’t usually require a trip to the doctor and can often be treated simply by using over-the-counter medications.

While colds and the flu aren’t generally a concern for individuals in good health, they can be dangerous for the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions like asthma. So, while you may be able to handle these illnesses, co-workers, friends, family members or those you come into contact with may not.

As such, it’s important to protect yourself from contracting a cold or the flu altogether in order to prevent the spread of the disease. The following are just a few strategies you can use to keep yourself and those you interact with safe and healthy:

  1. Get vaccinated during flu season. This is often cited as the best way to prevent contracting or spreading the disease. Health officials recommend that everyone older than 6 months get a flu vaccine each year. If you are on the A Plus Benefits Medical Plan and have questions about ho w the flu vaccine is covered by your health plan, contact us at 1-800-748-5102.
  2. Stay home if you feel ill. Not only does rest help your body recover from colds and the flu, but staying home can help prevent spreading the illness. Make sure your employees understand this expectation as well as how their paid time off may come into play.
  3. Wash your hands. Using soap and water to wash your hands is critical when preventing the spread of illness. This should be done often and especially after using the restroom or prior to eating. Placing signs around the office can remind employees.
  4. Avoid others. If you’re ill, be smart and avoid shaking hands or coming into contact with your co-workers.
  5. Be mindful of where you cough. By coughing and sneezing into your arm and not your hand, you are limiting your chances of spreading your germs to others.

If you do catch a more serious cold or the flu, it may be a good idea to see a doctor and to discuss treatment options. If you are on the A Plus Benefits Medical Plan, you can use the Well Via Telemedicine program and speak to a doctor from the comfort of your home for $0 copay. Share this information with your employees to promote a healthier workplace this cold and flu season.

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A Plus BenefitsFive Tips for Staying Healthy During Cold and Flu Season