Jul 21
Standing Out in a Job Interview- Advice from Real Small Business Leaders
Job interviews are nerve-wracking, no matter how many or how few you have participated in.  It is your one shot to impress your potential employer and help them see that you would be a good fit for their organization and you don’t want to mess it up. So, how does a job candidate go about this exactly? You could read countless career-advice blogs, magazine articles or books, but we wanted to find out from real business leaders what one thing a job candidate can do to stand out in an interview. So we asked some of the smartest people we…
Jun 28
Do I Have to Pay Someone Working as an Intern?
Unpaid internships are popular across the country, providing benefits for companies and valuable experience for college students or recent graduates. This question comes up with our clients each year, as they look for ways to recruit new talent from colleges and universities. There is a common misconception that if a student is willing to work for free to get industry experience, then there’s no harm in taking advantage of it. Unfortunately, this practice leaves many employers open to substantial legal liability. It is vital that you make sure your unpaid internships meet DOL standards to help avoid significant penalties. DOL Guidance The…
Apr 28
What Are the Differences Between a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) and a Payroll Company?
We have met with countless small business owners over the years and learned they have some specific things in common, no matter the industry or size of the company. First, small business owners are busy. They do not have extra time to spend processing payroll, fielding employee benefits questions or researching human resources best practices. If they do happen to have extra time, they would much rather spend it with their family and friends than dealing with administrative headaches. This leads many business owners to consider available options to help with some of the time-consuming tasks related to running a…
Apr 13
What’s Happening with the FLSA Overtime Changes?
You may remember that last year it was announced that there was going to be a change to the overtime exemptions for white collar workers. Ten months have passed since the proposed rule change was announced and yet nothing has changed leaving many business owners are wondering what is going on. The new rule would require that these employees who make under $50,440 annually to be paid overtime for any hours worked over 40 in a week, even if they are considered an executive, administrative or professional level employee under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Under current regulations, certain salaried…
Feb 19
Making Flexible Work and Wage and Hour Laws Work Together
Flexible work arrangements are becoming increasingly popular among employers and employees. As Millennials begin to take over the workforce, employers will see that more and more employees will be asking for this benefit. There are many types of flexible work arrangements. Most often people think of telecommuting, or working from home. That is certainly a popular form of flexible work, but there are many more. Perhaps one employee would do better working four 10 hour shifts while an earlier (or later) start time best for another employee. Among the concerns many employers have when considering implementing flexible work arrangements, particular…
Feb 16
Maximizing the Benefits of Employee Reference Checks
Have you ever wished that you had a crystal ball to tell you which job candidate will be the best fit for your open position? Turnover is expensive and avoiding bad hires can give a small business a distinct competitive advantage, saving time, money and lost productivity. One way to get some good insight into how your top job candidates will perform at your organization is to check into their work at past jobs. But checking references can be tricky as the laws protecting employees and past employers vary by state and there is no way to ensure that you will get…
Feb 9
7 Ways to Pump Up the Energy in Your Workplace
It becomes more noticeable every day that employees are not just coming to work for a paycheck. A job is so much more than an exchange of money for effort put forth by the employee. What businesses are learning is that this old way of thinking doesn’t work anymore. In order to compete for the best employee talent, businesses (especially small companies that may not be able to offer the highest salaries or biggest perks) must manage not only their employee’s time, but also their energy. Take a look around your organization. Does your workforce need to be re-energized? A…
Feb 4
How to Pinpoint a Toxic Employee Before You Hire Them
We’ve all been in a situation where we have either worked with or hired an employee who could be described as toxic. Their bad attitude, lack of respect and overall rude behavior can be extremely detrimental to the workplace. In fact, according to the research, a single toxic employee can cost an organization over $12,000. That is not even taking into account the added costs to the organization related to decreased employee morale, upset customers. Small businesses who are constantly trying to make the most of their limited resources cannot afford these bad hires. A recent article from the Harvard…
Jan 27
Successful Onboarding Leads to Successful Employees
Recruiting the best employees is costly and time consuming, especially for small businesses. Once you have found your great employees, it is in your best interest to make sure they stick around. And this turnover is expensive for so many reasons, not the least of which is the damage to employee morale and productivity. One of the main reasons employers lose great employees during their first three to six months is due to a less than stellar onboarding experience. A recent article from Entrepreneur gives four questions you can ask yourself to determine if your onboarding process is broken. 1-…
Jan 15
Motivating Employees without Raises or Promotions
Often times business leaders think that the best way to motivate employees to perform is through monetary rewards (or threat of monetary loss) and promotions. Bonuses, perks, raises and promotions all have their place in managing employee performance, but there are several things you can give your employees now, that don’t involve a raise or a change in title. The truth is, sometimes no matter how much you pay an employee, they may not be happy, successful or fulfilled in their job. A recent article from Entrepreneur gives three easy things any small business leader can do to motivate their…
Jan 5
What is a 1095 Tax Form?
This year, as a result of regulations in the Affordable Care Act, employees will be receiving a new tax document in addition to their W-2 form. These forms will contain information that employees need to file their 2015 individual income tax returns. These forms may be sent by the health insurance provider and/or the employer (or A Plus Benefits for some clients) depending in the form required. Form 1095-A If your company participates on a health plan outside of A Plus Benefits that is from the health insurance marketplace, or if your employees have a plan they obtained on their own…
Dec 29
The Real Cost of Employee Turnover
Turnover is inevitable in all organizations, but small businesses should be mindful of the cost that excessive turnover can have to their organization. Sure, there may be the cost of sign on bonus for the new employee or unemployment benefits for the departing employee, but there are also other hidden costs. A recent article from Inc. gives five ways that turnover has the greatest monetary impact on your organization: Lowered productivity- No matter the caliber or position of the employee leaving your organization, it is safe to say they were performing some work at your organization before they left.  Their…
Dec 17
Finding the Best Employees for Your Business
Have you ever looked around at your team of employees and wondering how you could get just a few more of the really great ones? I’m sure most business leaders have been in this position. Hiring new employees is difficult and time-consuming and mistakes in hiring are costly. Like everything else in business, having good strategy behind your hiring process is a great way to minimize risk and maximize efficiency.  Here are some tips to get started: Understand what type of employee fits well within your company. Take a hard look at your company culture and the types of employees…
Dec 7
Three Reasons Your Great Employees Aren’t Sticking Around
Every business owner has felt the sting of a great employee leaving their organization. In fact, we hear from our clients that attracting and retaining employees is one of their main concerns. High turnover decreases productivity and overall employee morale. Additionally, the cost of turnover can be overwhelming; reported at roughly 40% of an employee’s salary for an average wage employee. These costs can be detrimental to any organization, but especially small businesses, which must compete with larger organizations for top employee talent, often with fewer resources. Have you ever wondered what might make a great employee leave? An article…
Nov 20
Change to Overtime Law Could be Delayed Until Late 2016
Many small business owners have been concerned about the news released by the Department of Labor on June 30, 2015 of a change coming to the minimum salary required for executive, administrative, and professional employees (typically white collar employees) to be considered exempt from overtime.  There has never been an exact timeline for the release of the Final Rule, which would require all employers to make the change, but many expected it to occur in late 2015 or early 2016. An article in the Wall Street Journal last week, reported that the final rule on the change to overtime eligibility…
Nov 16
Do Your Employees Know What You Expect?
It may seem like common sense that employees can only meet your expectations if they understand what they are. But even still, according to a new Gallup report, only about half of employees feel they fully understand what is expected of them at work, even though this is one of the keys to employee engagement, performance and happiness. What can you do to make sure your employees know what is expected. A recent article in Fast Company gives four easy steps that even the busiest small business owner can follow: 1- Set clear, realistic goals: Help employees understand company goals.…
Nov 11
Understanding USERRA for Small Businesses
In honor of Veteran’s Day, we wanted to offer a refresher on one of the employment laws that impact your employees who are also serving in the military, USERRA. Often these laws don’t even cross the minds of business owners until they are in a situation where they have an employee in the military, but it is important to understand your responsibilities as an employer. USERRA (The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act) USERRA was enacted in 1994 to expand and strengthen the employment and reemployment rights of uniformed service member including those in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps,…
Oct 26
Ban the Box Continues to be a Hot Topic for Businesses
One human resources topic that continues to come up is the push for so-called “ban the box” legislation. Ban the box is an effort to protect job candidates with prior criminal history. Those in support of the legislation want to prevent potential employers from asking questions about an employee’s criminal history (literally banning the check box seen on many applications that states “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?”).  Often job candidates who answer yes to this question are often immediately disqualified from a job, without an opportunity to provide an explanation about their criminal history. Currently 19 states…
Oct 23
Small Business Employee Benefits Trends in 2015
One request we receive often from the small business owners we work with is access to information about what other companies are doing, particularly what benefits are being offered by other employers. The National Compensation Survey is conducted each year by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and provides some insight into what types of benefits are offered to employees at small businesses around the country. The most recent data was released in March 2015 and offers some information that could be helpful as small business owners consider their benefits and total compensation strategies. For the purpose of this research we…
Oct 21
Top Ten OSHA Violations for 2015
Last week, OSHA announced the top safety violations for 2015 at the National Safety Congress. The top 10 violations were: Fall Protection Hazard Communication Scaffolding Respiratory Protection Lockout/Tagout Powered Industrial Trucks Ladders Electrical – Wiring Methods Machine Guarding Electrical – General Requirements For the past few years, these top 10 violations have been very similar. If you haven’t conducted training or updated your safety manual for these topics, now would be a great time to do that.  As we discussed in a previous blog post, the ROI of a safety program is almost always positive (only 5% of businesses report…
Oct 5
The Best Benefits Package to Attract Top Millennial Talent
We often hear from small business owners that attracting and retaining great employees is one of the biggest challenges they face. By the year 2020, Millennials will make up almost half (46%) of the workforce, which means that it is vital that small business leaders learn what these employees expect in order to successfully compete for the best employee talent. A recent article from BenefitsPro highlights five things that Millennials want with regard to benefits. Choice and Variety: Millennials appreciate choice in their benefits package and may be turned off by a one-size-fits-all benefits package.  Offering multiple health plan options…
Sep 29
The Do’s and Don’ts of Final Paychecks
One of the most common questions we receive about payroll is when employees must be paid their final paycheck.  The laws regarding final pay for employer varies state to state. It is important to check your state laws so you don’t find yourself with unnecessary penalties. A Plus Benefits can also assist you with making sure you understand the state laws regarding final pay. Here are a few examples: Utah: If an employee is terminated (for any reason), the final check must be given within 24 hours.  If an employee quits, the final check must be given on the next…
Sep 21
New Overtime Rule Affects Salaried White Collar Workers
You have likely heard by now that the Department of Labor released news on June 30, 2015 of a change coming to the minimum salary required for executive, administrative, and professional employees (typically white collar employees) to be considered exempt from overtime. You may have even had some employees bring it to your attention or request to be paid overtime because they feel they fall into the category covered by the new rule. The new rule would require that these employees who make under $50,440 annually to be paid overtime for any hours worked over 40 in a week, even…
Sep 15
Independent Contractor or Employee – Getting it Right
Making the correct determination between an employee classification and an independent contractor classification is one of the issues we get asked about often from small business owners. The rules are complicated and each situation should be reviewed independently to make sure you are making the correct determination. Why does it matter? Employing people is expensive and complicated. Some small business owners, especially brand-new startups, will decide it is easier to just pay a worker as an independent contractor and have their accountant issue the 1099 at the end of the year instead of worrying about matching taxes, W-2 forms, workers’…
Sep 11
Attracting Top Employee Talent in a Competitive Job Market
Since the economy rebounded and unemployment rates returned to low level, small business owners have struggled with how to attract the top talent they need to take their company to the next level. In Utah with a 3.4 % unemployment rate and an influx of large corporations moving into the state, small businesses have to find new ways to bring in the best job candidates. Here are some suggestions from an article in US News and World Report, to bring in the best of the best when you are recruiting for an open position. 1- Have clear, easy to understand…
Sep 7
A Plus Benefits Celebrates National Payroll Week
A Plus Benefits is celebrating National Payroll Week this week (September 7-11, 2015). National Payroll Week celebrates the hard work by America's 150 million wage earners and the payroll professionals who pay them.  Together, through the payroll withholding system, they contribute, collect, report and deposit approximately $2.08 trillion, or 68%, of the annual revenue of the U.S. Treasury. We are taking this opportunity to recognize the over 20 professional Payroll Specialists at A Plus Benefits who process payroll for thousands of employees each month with a week of fun events for the team. Join us and thank your Payroll Specialist…
Aug 26
Managing Required Employee Notices and Posters
Employer regulations can be overwhelming, especially if you are operating your business in multiple states. It is important for business owners to be aware of the state regulations for employers, including which posters and employee notifications are required in any state in which you have employees.  One example of a state that has a large number of regulations placed on employers is California. Currently for California employers (or any company with employees in California) there are 18 different notices or posters that must be made available to employees; in addition to those that are required by federal law. Here is…
Aug 17
A Plus Benefits Welcomes New Director of Employee Performance
A Plus Benefits brings big business expertise to our small business clients. We understand how important access to knowledge and talent is in the small business community.  For this reason, we are excited to announce the newest member of our Human Resources team, Amber Hunter. Amber joins A Plus Benefits with over ten years of human resources experience. She has extensive knowledge in leadership training and organizational development. In the past she worked for The Table Group, a company founded by Patrick Lencioni, author of the bestselling business books The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and The Advantage.  Amber also…
Aug 7
3 Reasons PEOs Make Sense for Small Businesses
When an individual decides to start a business it is because they love what they do. They have a passion for their industry that drives them to put in the time and resources to build a company of their own. What most small business owners don’t have a passion for is all of the pieces that come along with hiring employees. Finding and keeping great employees is necessary for any business that wants to grow and succeed. But many small business owners struggle to find the time to focus on the growth of their employees and their business. That is where…
Aug 3
The Importance of Safety Focused Leadership
With all of the issues that cross a small business owner’s desk in a day, it is inevitable that some of those tasks get pushed to the bottom of the list indefinitely. Unfortunately for many small businesses, focusing on safety is one of the things that often gets put off.  There is often a perception that focusing on safety will be expensive, time-consuming, and unproductive. But the fact is the exact opposite is actually true. Investing in a safety focused culture will actually save your company time and money and increase your productivity and competitive advantage. Research done by McGraw…
Jul 29
Employees with Flexible Schedules Actually Work More
Have you ever wondered what would happen if you let your employees set their own schedules? I’m sure for many business owners the idea sets off alarm bells in their heads. But consider for a moment how important it is that all of your employees are in the office from 8:00am-5:00pm Monday through Friday. Could one of your employees get the same job done 7:30am-5:30pm four days a week and 8:00am-12:00pm the other day? A recent article in Inc. begs that very question. It focuses on research done by three European professors that suggests that employees who have more control…
Jul 20
Utah Employers Should Update EEO Policy Statement
During the 2015 Utah legislative session, a ground breaking bill was passed by the state House of Representatives and the Senate and signed into law by Governor Herbert that affects all employers with employees in Utah. The bill, SB 296, which has been called the “Utah Compromise,” aims to protect people in the LGBT community from discrimination in employment and housing decisions based on their gender identity or sexual orientation, while still shielding religious institutions that stand against homosexuality. We believe it is prudent for clients with employees in Utah to update their policy guides immediately to reflect the new…
Jul 15
Small Businesses Confused about ACA Tax Reporting Requirements
A Plus Benefits recognizes the amount of uncertainty surrounding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for small business owners and we remain committed to helping our clients better understand and comply with any necessary requirements. As you may have heard, a recent Supreme Court ruling upheld the ACA in its current form, which means that certain requirements put into place when it was originally signed into law in 2010 are now set to move forward. One main area of confusion surrounds IRS Code Section 6056, often referred to as the employer shared responsibility reporting. When the news came out last fall…
Jul 6
Do What You Do Best
“Do what you do best and then hire great employees and find great partners to help you in the other areas,” - Rich Maughn, General Manager of Freeway Propane. To celebrate our 25th anniversary, A Plus Benefits is highlighting some of the great small businesses that have been with us through many of those years. Freeway Propane (www.freewaypropane.com) began in 1987 when the three Brown brothers, Joel, Mark and Chad saw the similarities between the work they did in plumbing and the propane industry. They saw a need in the community for new heating options and ran with it, starting…
Jul 1
New Overtime Rule for White Collar Workers on the Horizon
You may have heard that the Department of Labor released news on June 30, 2015 of a change coming to the minimum salary required for executive, administrative, and professional employees (typically white collar employees) to be considered exempt from overtime. The new rule would require that these employees who make under $50,440 annually to be paid overtime for any hours worked over 40 in a week, even if they are considered an executive, administrative or professional level employee under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Under current regulations, certain salaried employees can be exempt from overtime if they meet certain requirements:…
Jun 17
3 Reasons to Eliminate Annual Performance Evaluations
It is becoming a lot more common for companies to eliminate the traditional performance review in place of alternative feedback processes. If your company still uses a standardized performance evaluation form for employees once a year, a recent article in Inc. provides three great reasons why things need to change. Managers don’t want to do them- This reason alone wouldn’t be enough to change company procedures, but it is worth mentioning. You can see the look of dread in your managers’ eyes when you tell them it is performance evaluation time. Managers don’t enjoy doing it because they know it…
Jun 3
Preventing Leader Burnout
In previous blogs we have talked about preventing employee burnout and disengagement and how to reconnect with disengaged employees, but what should a company do if they find their leadership is showing similar signs? According to research by Gallup, the leadership of a company can account for up to 70% variance in employee engagement. If your leaders are burnt-out, it is likely they are not working to keep the rest of your team actively engaged. A recent article in Forbes gives two ways that leaders can prevent burnout and stay engaged. 1- Hire great people Jim Collins, author of Good…
Jun 1
Hiring Summer Employees Under Age 18
As summer rolls around, many companies consider hiring younger workers (under age 18) to help with projects while school is not in session.  Whether it’s a child of one of your employees or someone unrelated to the company, it is important to have a good understanding of child labor laws. They can be more complicated than you think. The Department of Labor has rules for employing children under the age of 18. At age 18 and older, there are no restrictions. For employees under age 18, there are certain “hazardous” occupations/activities that cannot be performed. These occupations include some obvious…
May 27
Internships: To Pay or Not To Pay?
This time of year many companies are considering hiring interns. There are many high school and college students on summer break and recent graduates looking for opportunities to gain valuable experience. An internship program can be a great way for a small business to recruit young new talent, but there are some legal restrictions that must be considered. Many people think of internships as students or recent graduates working for a company for free in exchange for experience, mentorship and a potential future position with the company. The truth is that legally, most internships should be paid positions. There are…
May 11
Consumer Driven Health Plans Gaining Popularity: What You Need to Know
The last few years have led to many changes in the health insurance industry. In addition to the changes mandated by the Affordable Care Act, a certain type of health plan has continued to gain popularity. These plans are called Consumer Driven Health Plans (CDHP) or High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP). The plans are different than traditional plans because they focus on offering lower premiums, due to higher deductibles and the elimination of co-pays. With these plans, most covered expenses (other than wellness) must be paid for by the employee until they reach their deductible. The plans are also HSA…
May 1
Top Five Contributors to Satisfied and Engaged Employees May Surprise You
Recent research conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) explains what it takes to keep employees satisfied and engaged, and the results may surprise you. The top five contributors to employee satisfaction in 2014 were: Respectful treatment of all employees at all levels Trust between employees and senior management Benefits Compensation/pay (overall) Job security Perhaps the most interesting piece of this research for small business owners is that the top two contributors to employee satisfaction do not cost the company any money to provide. It isn’t always about bigger salaries or more extensive benefits. Also interesting is the…
Apr 27
Work is Evolving: Is Your Company On Board?
Work is no longer just a place a person goes and punches a clock, stays for 8 hours a day, punches out and goes home. Increases in technology mean that flexible work arrangements are becoming even more common. Even employees who are not in this arrangement are likely checking emails from home or texting co-workers after hours. Work is becoming so much more of who we are that employees are demanding more from their employers. A recent article in Workforce called The Dawn of the Great Workplace Era highlights some of the reasons this is happening. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella…
Apr 24
The One Thing Employees Want From Their Managers
In previous blog posts, we have discussed the importance of healthy employee-manager relationships to improve employee engagement, performance and satisfaction. One area that is important to any relationship (both personal and professional) is communication. According to the State of the American Manager report by Gallup, employees that don’t feel like they are getting enough of it from their managers are less likely to be engaged. So how much communication is needed between managers and employees in order to achieve the desired high levels of engagement? According to the research, managers that meet with their employees on a regular basis (ie:…
Apr 22
Training Managers to Be Effective Employee Coaches
Recent research by Gallup shows that good managers account for a striking difference in employee engagement, performance and productivity. In fact, a good manager can account for up to 70% variance in employee engagement. Additionally, one in two employees say they have left a job to get away from a bad manager and improve their overall life at some point in their career. This means that now more than ever, it is important for your business to have the best management team possible. One way that you can stand out and turn good managers into great leaders is to encourage…
Apr 15
The Forgotten Employees: Why Investing in Your Managers is Vital to Success
If you are concerned about the engagement of your employees, you may want to take a look at what you are doing to support your management team. In past blogs we have discussed the importance of good managers when it comes to employee engagement and how difficult it can be to find the right managers. According to Gallup’s State of the American Manager, managers with high talent lead teams that achieve higher employee engagement, higher productivity and higher employee retention rates, and have more engaged customers and 48% higher profitability. Managers with high talent lead teams that achieve higher employee…
Apr 10
Making Workplace Flexibility Work for You
Many small business owners cringe at the words “workplace flexibility.” Most probably assume that this means telecommuting or employees working from home. And often the assumption is that workplace flexibility is not something that will work for their company or their industry. But statistics show that workplace flexibility is important to employees and still not widely available. Four out of five employees says that flexibility is very important when considering a new job, but less than one in four have access to a flexible working arrangement. The key to making workplace flexibility a possibility in your organization is changing the…
Apr 1
Boundaries are Key to Managers Developing Meaningful Friendships with Employees
For years leaders have been warned about developing personal relationships with their subordinates and with good reason. The risks of perceived favoritism and authority are real, not to mention the bigger liability associated with discrimination and harassment. On the other hand, the most recent State of the American Workplace Report produced by Gallup found that friendships increase employee satisfaction by 50% and that people with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be engaged. So has discouraging personal relationship sin the workplace because of the fear of potential pitfalls harming employee engagement? That definitely may be…
Mar 27
What Perk Do Your Employees Really Want? Honest Communication.
A recent survey conducted by 15Five found that employees value open communication over many monetary perks. Of the employees surveyed, 81% said they would rather join an organization that valued communication and honest feedback over one that offered perks like free lunch and gym memberships. The good news for small business owners is that this “perk” costs nothing and is something even the smallest organization can commit to. There are a few important things to remember if you want to work on developing a company culture that values communication and honest feedback. First, feedback must be continuous. Conducting only an…
Mar 11
Why Eliminating One-on-One Meetings with Employees Will Not Save You Time
Small businesses are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to resources like time and money. As a small business owner, you are wearing many hats throughout the day and time can often slip away from you. In an effort to be more productive, you might consider reducing the one-on-one meetings you have with employees, in favor of more group meetings, emails or impromptu hallway chats. But research shows that any time savings you gain will be negatively offset by decreased productivity. A recent article in the Harvard Business Review addresses why this is the case. When you eliminate one-on-one…
Feb 25
Employee Rewards Don’t Have to Be Expensive
We know that small business owners care about their employees and want to show them appreciation for all that they do. Not only that, employee recognition is also the best way to keep employees both motivated and loyal. But reading news stories or hearing anecdotes about outrageous perks like on-site fitness centers, unlimited vacation time and cash bonuses offered by bigger companies often make small business owners feel like there is no way they can offer the kinds rewards that will matter to their employees. The good news is the old adage “It’s the thought that counts,” really does apply…