Oct 31
The Deadline to Comply with the New Overtime Rules is Approaching
If you haven’t started planning for the upcoming overtime changes, now is the time. As a reminder, on May 18, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released a new rule regarding overtime wage payment in the United States. This new increases the salary threshold that “white collar” employees must meet in order to qualify for an overtime wage payment exemption. Employers must comply with the new rule by Dec. 1, 2016. Given the significant impact this change could have on your company’s bottom line, it is important to start examining your payroll records and re-evaluating your overtime policies now…
Oct 26
What is Open Enrollment?
This time of year you will hear the term Open Enrollment in the news, among friends and especially at work. So what is Open Enrollment, anyway? Open Enrollment provides an opportunity for you to make changes to your benefit plans that are not allowed at other times during the year. For many benefits options that time falls toward the end of the year. For any of the benefits offered through A Plus Benefits, the Open Enrollment period is from November 1-November 23. Changes that may be made include: Eligible employees may enroll in new benefits. Employees may cancel or change their existing…
Oct 5
A Plus Benefits Celebrates Do Something Nice Day
October 5th is Do Something Nice Day. To celebrate, we asked our clients to share stories of their employees doing something nice for a customer or a co-worker. Here are a few of the stories we received: Elite Housing Nomination by Darrell Mecham Charlie Nackos is our newest employee at Elite Housing, but he is also the most seasoned with 77 years of experience.  He is continually trying to improve his surroundings with his friendly approach to people who visit our homes or tidying up with a broom and dust pan. He lives the Golden Rule of treating others as…
Sep 27
Are Sales Employees Affected by the New Overtime Regulations?
“Are sales employees affected by the new overtime regulations?” is one of the most common questions we have received from clients since the release of the final rule in May changing the “white collar” overtime regulations. Many business owners are concerned that their salaried or commissioned outside sales employees will have to receive a pay increase or be paid overtime. According to all of the research we have found, the changes to the law only affects the salary requirement for executive, administrative and professional employees, which would mean that outside sales employees would not be affected. The following website is…
Sep 20
Six Leadership Habits That Instill Trust
Are the leaders in your organization trusted by employees? You may think that there is an adequate level of trust, but if you are experiencing issues of low employee engagement, high turnover, poor communication or low employee morale, distrust in leadership may be to blame. According to research from Globoforce, 80% of employees trust their colleagues, but only 65% trust senior leaders. A recent article from Fast Company provides six habits your leaders can begin developing today to have an impact on the level of trust in your organization. Keep your promises- With…
Sep 14
What is Employee Engagement, Really?
Employee engagement has become a bit of a buzz word in the human resources world. There are thousands are articles and tons of research surrounding employee engagement (we’ve written quite a few ourselves) and its impact on your organization. With so much noise out there, it is important to drill down to the basics and remember what employee engagement really is. What do you think of when you hear the phrase? Free lunches, bringing pets to work, ping-pong tables? Employee engagement is so much more than a fun and positive employee experience. Employee engagement at its core is your employee’s…
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…
Jul 14
Ladder Safety is Important for All Work Environments
Did you know that 43% of fatal falls in the last decade have involved a ladder? And among construction workers, an estimated 81% of fall injuries treated in U.S. emergency departments involve a ladder? But, ladders aren’t only used in construction environments. Many office, manufacturing and retail workplaces have ladders that employees may use occasionally. Any employee that may use a ladder should be trained on appropriate use. Here are some great reminders from the Ladder Safety Hub blog: Before you use your ladder, make sure the ground you are putting it on is level. If you need to, dig…
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…
Jun 21
Answers to Common Questions About the Overtime Rule Changes
On May 18, 2016, the Department of Labor announced the final rule on the changes to overtime exemptions that have been discussed for almost a year. The new rule requires that these employees who make under $47,476 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. Employer have a lot of questions about what this means for their employees. We answer some of the most common questions we have heard so far. What size employer does this…
Jun 20
Safe Practices at Home Lead to Safer Workplaces
Utah Safety Week starts today and this week we will be focusing on things all employers can do to create safer working environments for their employees, regardless of industry. Encouraging safe behaviors at home and on the job will allow employee to return to work each day healthy and ready to perform their job duties. All employers can encourage employees to utilize Personal Protective Equipment at home and on the job.  Here is some information you can share: Personal Protective Equipment For On and Off the Job Stressing safety at work is a familiar focus for business owners and employees alike, especially…
May 27
Tips for Retaining Your Best Employees
Every company has at least one employee that makes the business owner think, “what would I do without him?” If the thought of losing your best and brightest employees keeps you up at nights, there are a few steps you can take to ensure that you are building a happy, motivated and satisfied team of employee that stick around long-term. A recent article in Fast Company offers some great advice. Make a good first impression with employee onboarding Recruiting great employees is a lot of work and you likely put a lot of effort into finding the best fit for…
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…
Apr 8
Keeping Employee Productivity High During the Summer Months
As summer rolls around, it is natural for employees begin to think more about the beautiful weather outside or their next family vacation instead of their to-do list at work. Keeping employees productive during the summer months can be difficult, but here are some simple steps you can take now to ensure your employees stay focused when distractions are high. Review individual and company goals If you haven’t reviewed goal with your employees, both the company goals and their individual goals, now is a perfect time to do so. One quarter into the year, you can take a look at…
Mar 15
Feedback is Vital, but Most Managers Aren’t Comfortable Giving It
One of the biggest factors contributing to job satisfaction is feedback. Research from the Harvard Business Review, Gallup, and many others has found this to be true. Employees want to understand what is expected of them, and they will only know this if you and your managers are communicating effectively with your employees. But, according to a recent article from Harvard Business Review no matter how important feedback is to employees, two-thirds of managers aren’t comfortable communicating with their employees. That is startling.  So what can you do to help your managers become more comfortable with giving negative feedback. The…
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 13
Understanding What the Best Job Candidates Want
Any time you have a job vacancy in your organization, the goal is to fill it with the best possible candidate. Small businesses are inherently disadvantaged when it comes to competing for top employee talent because they often lack the resources and expertise to recruit the very best. Understanding what high quality job candidates are looking for in a company can help small businesses focus on what really matters, maximizing their limited resources. A recent article from Gallup provides some insight into the minds of the best job candidates. It is important to remember that a job interview is a…
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…
Jan 4
4 Ways to Get Employees Back on Track After the Holidays
The holidays can be an enjoyable time for your employees, but can also be a stressful one. Stress from time off, family, and travel can derail even your most productive employees. With all of these distractions, it is important that managers and business owners help get employees back on track after the holidays. A recent article from Entrepreneur gives four easy ways companies improve employee productivity after the holidays. Communicate clearly: Improving employee communications is likely an area most small businesses could work on. Missing information or lack of clear expectations is one of the biggest causes of stress for…
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…
Dec 2
What Makes Someone a Good Leader?
The topic of what makes someone a good leader can be found in countless books, business periodical and blogs. Leadership development can be a great place for a small business to set themselves apart from the competition. But what is a leader anyway? A recent blog from Fast Company suggests we first look at what isn’t a leader: Being a leader has nothing to do with your title, your seniority or your relative position within the company. Getting a promotion does not automatically qualify someone to lead or manage people. Management and leadership skills must be learned, practiced and constantly…
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,…
Nov 5
10 Ways to Take Employee Engagement to the Next Level
Employee engagement is something that is discussed often in small businesses and among HR professionals. According to Gallup, only 31% of the American workforce is actively engaged in their work, but here is a lot of evidence showing that actively engaged employees are also your highest performers. It is important that small business leaders take notice of this and find ways to increase engagement at their organizations if they want to continue to competes and win among larger corporations. In a recent post on the SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) blog, Brady G. Wilson, author of the new book…
Oct 28
Fun, Accountability and Passion Helps Employees Thrive
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. One company who takes their company culture very seriously and has been recognized as one of the best places to work as a result is BrainStorm, Inc. BrainStorm, Inc. is one of the fastest growing entrepreneurial companies in the state of Utah. They provide enterprise-level software training and cloud-based solutions for organizations throughout the world, including 3M, Chiquita, Toyota, Goldman Sachs, and The Home Depot.  After being recognized as a great place to work…
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 7
Be Intentional about Showing Your Employees Appreciation
Research shows that appreciation has a powerful impact on employee behavior and performance. In fact, surveys have shown that 63% of employees would prefer a thank you over a monetary bonus. It sounds simple, but to be honest, it is easy for leaders to get caught up in the day to day tasks and forget about showing appreciation. Being intentional about showing gratitude to your employees takes work. The more you practice intentional gratitude, the more routine it will become. To get started, try out this advice from a recent article in Inc. Say something nice. Make a point to compliment…
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 30
Important ACA Definitions for Small Businesses
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a source of a lot of confusion among business owners and rightfully so. The actual written law and supporting regulations consist of thousands of pages of political and legal jargon. It is enough to make any reader overwhelmed, but also vitally important for all business owners to understand. In an effort to make the ACA more approachable, we have created a list of terms that are important to understand. Much of this information is pulled directly from the IRS website. Important ACA Definitions from the IRS Applicable Large Employee (ALE): If an employer has…
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…
Sep 3
ACA and IRS Prohibit Pre-Tax Contributions to Individual Employee Plans
3 Sep, 2015. 0 Comments. Benefits, Insight Blog, Taxes. Posted By: A Plus Benefits
We often get questions from employers about paying for an employee’s individual health plan with pre-tax money. The IRS recently clarified the rules regarding the ACA and IRS regulations surrounding employers reimbursing employees, on a pre-tax basis for individual health coverage obtained inside or outside the Marketplace. Some health insurance brokers and agents have been promoting pre-tax premium reimbursement arrangements for individual plans obtained by employees. We want to warn companies that these plans have several pitfalls. First, employers with 50 or more employees are required to buy group health coverage for their employers or face a penalty. This type…
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 14
How to Feel Positive about Giving Negative Feedback
One challenge all small business leaders and managers face is providing effective feedback to their employees. We all know the importance of open honest communication and a free-flowing feedback loop with employees, but that doesn’t mean it comes easily. Sometimes leaders avoid providing criticism because they are concerned with how it will be received. A recent article in Fast Company gives some great advice for providing constructive criticism that will motivate rather than deflate employees. Balance the negative with positive: It is unlikely that your employee is doing everything wrong. Find something that you can highlight that is going well.…
Aug 12
5 Tips for Motivating Employees
Often we hear from business leaders that one of their most frustrating challenges is getting employees to perform. From white collar to blue collar and everything in between, every industry and every business owner faces this same challenge. The power of effective persuasion is an important skill for all leaders to master. A recent article in Inc. provides five tips for getting people to do what you want. Here are there ways you can apply these same ideas to your employees. 1- Always tell the backstory. This is great advice for business owners as well as managers. Share with your…