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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

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!
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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 lcoins-1523383_640ine, it is important to start examining your payroll records and re-evaluating your overtime policies now in order to avoid compliance penalties in 2017 and beyond.

What is changing?

In order for an individual to be considered exempt from overtime under the “white collar exemption” that applies to professional, executive and administrative employees, they must meet three requirements. The second requirement is the only one that changed in the new regulations. The salary basis requirement and the duties test stayed the same

1- They must be paid on a salary basis (not hourly, piece rate, etc.).
2- They must be paid at least a minimum salary of $23,660 (increasing to $47,476 on December 1, 2016).
3. They must pass the FLSA duties test for overtime exemption based on their work.

In order to prevent the salary thresholds from falling behind in the future, the final rule requires that the minimum salary level requirements for the white collar exemptions will be updated every three years, starting with the first update January 1, 2020.

For administrative, executive and professional employees, the final rule allows employers to count up to 10 percent of employee nondiscretionary bonuses, incentive payments and commissions as part of the standard salary level—a practice that is not currently permitted. These bonuses may allow employers to more accurately represent employees’ earnings and help determine whether white collar exemptions should apply.

Employers are allowed to make one catch-up payment at the end of each quarter to satisfy the standard salary level. Payments must be made within one pay period after the quarter.

The final rule also increases the $100,000 salary level for highly compensated individuals to $134,004 per year—the 90th percentile of full-time salaried workers nationally.

What do employers need to do?

Employers should review their salaried exempt employees and determine if they have any employees that they are currently classifying as exempt from overtime under the professional, executive and administrative exemption or the highly compensated employee exemption. Then employers should identify those employees in this group whose salary below the new threshold.

These are the individuals you need to determine the best course of action for moving forward. Here are some examples to help you weigh your options.

Example #1- Employee who works regular overtime

Mary is a Graphic Designer whose work falls under the creative professional exemption.

She is currently paid a salary of $39,000 per year.

Mary’s work routinely takes her 46 hours per week (which means she works 312 Hours of overtime per year).

Option 1: Maintain exempt status and increase Mary’s salary to $47,476 per year.
Increased cost to employer: $8,476 per year
Pros: No need to track Mary’s hours, potentially improved employee morale due to pay increase
Con: Increased cost to employer

Option 2: Maintain Mary’s salary at $39,000/$18.72 per hour and adjust her status to non-exempt
Increased cost to employer
: $8,776.56 per year (in overtime pay)
Pro: Potentially improved employee morale due to pay increase
Cons: Increased cost to employer, adjustment in employee status, need to track Mary’s hours

Option 3: Maintain Mary’s salary at $39,000/$18.72 per hour, adjust her status to non-exempt and limit overtime
Increased cost to employer
: Depends on actual overtime worked
Pro: Minimal cost increase to employer
Cons: Need to redirect some of the employee’s work somewhere else, adjustment in employee status, need to track Mary’s hours

Option 4: Adjust Mary’s pay to $15.31 per hour and adjust her status to non-exempt
Increased cost to employer:
$9.88 per year
Pro: Minimal cost increase to employer
Cons: Potentially decreased employee morale due to perceived decrease in pay and adjustment in employee status, need to track Mary’s hours

Example #2- Employee who works occasional overtime

Greg is a Business Manager whose work falls under the administrative exemption.

He is currently paid a salary of $39,000 per year.

Greg’s work usually takes 40 hours per week. His overtime is rare, only totaling 36 hours per year.

Option 1: Maintain exempt status and increase Greg’s salary to $47,476 per year.
Increased cost to employer: $8,476 per year
Pros: No need to track Greg’s hours, potentially improved employee morale due to pay increase
Con: Increased cost to employer

Option 2: Maintain Greg’s salary at $39,000/$18.72 per hour and adjust his status to non-exempt
Increased cost to employer
: $1,012.68 per year (in overtime pay)
Pro: Small increased cost to employer
Cons: Adjustment in employee status, need to track Greg’s hours

Option 3: Maintain Greg’s salary at $39,000/$18.72 per hour, adjust his status to non-exempt and limit overtime
Increased cost to employer
: Depends on actual overtime worked
Pro: Very minimal cost increase to employer
Cons: Need to redirect some of the employee’s work somewhere else, adjustment in employee status, need to track Greg’s hours

Option 4: Adjust Greg’s pay to $18.28 per hour and adjust her status to non-exempt
Increased cost to employer:
$9.52 per year
Pro: Minimal cost increase to employer
Cons: Potentially decreased employee morale due to perceived decrease in pay and adjustment in employee status, need to track Greg’s hours

As you can see, there are multiple options and each situation is unique. As an employer, you will likely need to review each employee’s situation independently before making your decision. If you need help, contact A Plus Benefits for assistance at 1-800-748-5102 or humanresources@aplusbenefits.com.

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A Plus BenefitsThe Deadline to Comply with the New Overtime Rules is Approaching
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What is Open Enrollment?


This time of year you will hear the term Open Enrollment in the news, among friends and Businessman Wearing Remindersespecially 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 benefit options.
  • Employees may add eligible dependents to existing benefits.

This time of year is important because employees who fail to make changes or enroll by November 23, 2016, will have to wait until the next open enrollment period unless they have a qualifying event.

Additionally, this time period is the only opportunity existing employees have to enroll in the 2017 Flexible Spending Account and Dependent Care Account. Employees should remember that FSA enrollments do not roll over year to year. You must enroll each year that you would like to participate.

If you have questions about open enrollment or what benefits are available to your employees, please contact our Account Management team at 1-800-748-5102 or service@aplusbenefits.com.

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A Plus BenefitsWhat is Open Enrollment?
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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 flower-22656_640doing 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 he wants to be.  He shares goodies he brings from home with others and willingly works the Saturday shifts to keep the sales office staffed.  Charlie is our nomination for someone who does nice things for others at work regularly.

 

LinkTrust
Nomination by Jody Sears

I would like to nominate Jamison Peterson.  Jamison is a relatively new employee who came into our office on such a positive uplifting note. He is always happy and upbeat and constantly willing to help others when it doesn’t interfere with his work time.

He makes such a difference every day because his like this consistently and it is contagious! We love having him as part of our team!!

 

Reddish Pharmacy
Nomination by Kevin Reddish

We had filled a patient’s monthly prescriptions for her and Kolby Reddish had put in a few of the little York peppermint patty candies with a little note that said, “A little treat for one of our sweetest customers, hope you have a great day.”  That customer went on to explain that she had just recently lost one of her parents and that small act of kindness made a huge difference in her day.  She broke down several times while telling me the story, so I know how much it meant to her.  I’m so thankful to hear stories of how we are able to make someone’s day, those are customers that we will have for life!

 

Tides are Rising
Nomination by Cortney Brown

I would like to submit a story on Becca Giles. Becca has gone above and beyond in teaching me my new role as sales admin. She used to work this position and has it down to a science. She didn’t have to train me or help me. She has put all her work aside to help me and make me feel comfortable in my new position. Becca always has a smile on her face and willing to stop whatever she is doing to help someone. I wanted her to be recognized for all that she does and for keeping the morale of the team up.

 

YWCA Sweetwater County
Nomination by Cheryl Tarno

My boss, Lauren Schoenfeld, sent me a personal note to my home address while I was away on vacation. When I returned home I was surprised to see an envelope with her name on it. Upon opening it I discovered that she had written how much she appreciated me as an employee. I was touched by her thoughtfulness and it did make me feel very appreciated. My husband was awestruck that she would take the time to do that.

 

Acaydia Spa & School of Aesthetics
Nomination by Andrea Hulse

Cacci Karcich is a new educator at Acaydia. Last week, she took the time to organize and restructure a practical training room. She saw a need and jumped in to make a difference, not expecting any recognition. Oh…and she always makes delicious treats and brings them to work to share! I’m so glad she is part of our team.

 

We also had a client nominate one of our internal A Plus Benefits employees, which we are always happy to hear.

Olsenbeal
Nomination by Sammy Jo Hunt

Ann Armitage is our company’s Payroll Specialist.  I have found her exceptional and very professional in all our weekly payroll exchanges.  She has always been extremely knowledgeable, and helpful any time in the past 4 years of working together.  If I’ve had any questions that she has not been able to answer immediately she always gets back to me with the answer in a quick and timely manner.

She has been a valuable liaison between A Plus Benefits and Olsenbeal.  I look forward to working with her for many years to come.

 

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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.business-1031754_640

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 a Q&A following an overtime webinar by the Department of Labor: https://www.dol.gov/whd/overtime/final2016/webinarfaq.htm

Question 12 on this web page is:
Q. Straight Commission Employees: How do we handle outside sales staff who are paid straight commissions?
A. Consistent with the current regulations, neither the old or new salary requirements will apply to the outside sales employee exemption.

Question 22 on this same web page is:
Q. Just wanted to verify that any person employed as an outside sales person does not need to have their salary increased?
A. Correct. Outside sales employees are not subject to the salary basis or salary level requirements, so they are not affected by this Final Rule.

There are a few other questions on this page relating to outside sales and several times the DOL states that the outside sales exemption does not have a salary requirement.

Also, according to the Department of Labor Fact Sheet on the website: https://www.dol.gov/whd/overtime/fs17f_outsidesales.pdf

Outside Sales Exemption
To qualify for the outside sales employee exemption, all of the following tests must be met:

  • The employee’s primary duty must be making sales (as defined in the FLSA), or obtaining orders or contracts for services or for the use of facilities for which a consideration will be paid by the client or customer; and
  • The employee must be customarily and regularly engaged away from the employer’s place or places of business.

The salary requirements of the regulation do not apply to the outside sales exemption.

Now the caveat we have to this position is that the person you deem as “outside sales” must meet the duties requirement for this exemption. That means that the employee’s primary duty (“primary duty” means the principal, main, major or most important duty that the employee performs. Determination of an employee’s primary duty must be based on all the facts in a particular case, with the major emphasis on the character of the employee’s job as a whole.) must engage in sales outside of the office. The outside sales exemption does not include sales made by mail, telephone or the Internet unless such contact is used merely as an adjunct to personal calls. Sales made from the employer’s location (inside sales) do not qualify as outside sales.

If your company has an inside sales team, that does not travel away from your worksite, the outside sales exemption does not apply for these employees. An inside sales employee would generally be classified as non-exempt and would need to be paid overtime for any hours worked over 40 in a week. There are some exceptions to this for commissioned inside sales employees in retail establishments that can be found here. This is one of the most common mistake by companies when it comes to exempt vs. non-exempt. There is often a preconceived notion that a sales employee, no matter if they are inside or outside sales, should be exempt from overtime, but that is not the case.

It is hard for us to say with all certainty that your outside sales employees would be considered exempt from overtime because we do not know the ins and outs of their daily work. In the end, it comes down to your ability to defend your position should an outside sales employee ever file a wage claim against your company asserting that they should be paid overtime, or if you are ever investigated or audited by the Department of Labor.

We would suggest you take a look at the job duties of your outside sales employees and make that determination of each individual in question. In fact, now is a great time review the duties of all employees you are currently classifying as exempt to ensure they meet FLSA requirements. If you need help, please contact an HR Business Partner at A Plus Benefits at 1-800-748-5102 or humanresources@aplusbenefits.com.

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A Plus BenefitsAre Sales Employees Affected by the New Overtime Regulations?
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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.

  1. Keep your promises– With any relationship, friendships, parent-child, etc. breaking your word is the fastest way to erode any trust you may have developed. Do what you say you are going to do so that employees learn they can depend on you. If circumstances change and you are unable to keep a commitment, apologize and explain why. Make sure these instances are the exception and not the rule.
  2. Provide context– Help employees understand why change is occurring or why you are making a particular request. This is especially important if the task is challenging or there is a drastic change in procedure. When you provide context and explain why something is happening, employees feel more included in the decision-making process and are more likely to trust your leaders.
  3. Be present– Practice active listening when speaking with employees. Understand what is important to your employees. Avoid distractions such as your phone or email. Make sure employees feel that you value their time and their opinions.
  4. Welcome diversity– Get input from all levels of employees within your organization. Getting feedback from a diverse group of individuals will allow you to better understand your workforce as a whole.
  5. Be human– Admit your mistakes. Ask questions when you don’t understand something. Being vulnerable makes you relatable and will increase the level of trust your employees have for you.
  6. Have their backs– Employees will trust you if you demonstrate that you support them. Make employees feel secure in their position within the company. Set clear, realistic expectations and then provide the necessary training, feedback and support to help your employees succeed.

Gather your leadership team together and look for ways that you can start using these habits today. You might be surprised at the positive ripple effect this may have on your organization. If you are looking for more ways to empower the leaders in your company, contact an HR Business Partner today to discuss our leadership development opportunities.

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A Plus BenefitsSix Leadership Habits That Instill Trust
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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.startup-593299_640

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 emotional investment in your organization. It is the extent to which employees are willing to go above and beyond; expending more of their time, effort and energy than is requires to just get the job done.  According to a recent blog from IBM Smarter Workforce, there are three simple things employees need to become truly engaged:

Growth– Humans are not content staying in one place for very long. Your employees want to have opportunities to grow and learn both personally and professionally. Growth requires having leadership that provides you with constructive feedback so that you are able to continually become better each day. Feedback must be ongoing. An annual performance review with no other feedback from leadership will not result in engaged employees.

Recognition– Employees need to know that their work is appreciated. Without this recognition, employees will not be likely to go above and beyond. Gratitude doesn’t have to be big or flashy. A handwritten thank you note speaks volumes. For other recognition ideas, check out our free Employee Recognition Toolkit.

Trust– Employees need to trust that the leaders are on the right path to success. No one wants to be aboard a sinking ship. Employees need to understand where the company is headed and trust that leaders know how to help employees get there. Employees also need to know that leadership trusts them.

These three keys to employee engagement don’t have anything to do with unlimited vacation polices or other flashy employee benefits. Instead they get to the core of what employee engagement really is. Are you looking to brainstorm ideas for your organization? Do your leaders need a crash course on employee engagement? Contact a member of our HR team for details.

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A Plus BenefitsWhat is Employee Engagement, Really?
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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?shield-1020318_1280

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 know, our clients. We also asked some of the leaders within our own organization to weigh in. We ended up with some common themes.

Being on time for an interview is critical. Robert Brockbank, owner of B&S Painting Inc. listed that as his number one thing a job candidate can do to stand out. Justin Rowley, VP of Risk at A Plus Benefits agreed, but said it is important to a job candidate not to show up too early either. Showing up 15 minutes or more before an interview sends a negat8ve message instead of a positive message.

Being on time isn’t the only first impression that is important. Dressing appropriately, looking the interviewer in the eye and following basic instructions (did they show up when and where they were asked to, did they bring any documents you requested, etc.) are also important to Rhonda Porter, owner of Nutrition West. This can all take place within the first few minutes of meeting, before you even answer any interview questions.

In most interviews, the employer will ask a number of questions designed to help understand what kind of an employee you have been in the past, so they can determine if that is the type of employee that would fit the open position. What kinds of things are employers looking to hear? Alice Johnson with Duane’s Auto Wrecking wants to hear that the job candidate is willing to learn and do whatever it takes to get the job done. Chuck Travlelstead, owner of Wing Pawn is also looking for a history of a strong work ethic. When answering questions, Mehana Curie, Payroll Manager with A Plus Benefits , wants job candidates to provide specific examples. This helps her to learn more about the candidate’s capabilities.

Many of the leaders at A Plus Benefits emphasized the importance of the job candidate demonstrating he or she has some knowledge about the company. Jake Lunt, COO of A Plus Benefits said job candidates should take the time to review the company website, learn something about competitors, and determine if he or she is already connected to any of the employees on LinkedIn. If so, reach out to those employees to find out what working at the company is really like.

Being familiar with the job descriptions and how you would fit within the organization is also important. Amber Hunter, Director of Employee Performance at A Plus Benefits suggests that job candidates be prepared to explain how their education and experience fit with the position and also admit where they may need additional training.

Personality matters as well. Tiffany Bundy, Payroll Operations Manager at A Plus Benefits wants get the impression that you are a positive person. If your previous employer wasn’t a good fit, it is ok to be honest about it, but spending time in an interview listing only the flaws in your previous employers and co-workers, sends a bad impression. Also, if you make a mistake, lose your words or stumble she wants to see you be able to laugh it off and move forward. She also wants to hear that you are passionate about the kind of work you will be doing.

Follow-up was mentioned by several of the leaders, including Jacob Hoehne, owner of Issimo Productions. Steve Anderson, VP of Benefits at A Plus Benefits said he appreciates receiving a follow-up email from a job candidate after an interview. It shows that the candidate was really interested in the position and the company.

The next time you are headed in for an interview take these pieces of advice into consideration. It just might just give you a leg up on your competition.

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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:folding-ladder-1122072_640

  1. Before you use your ladder, make sure the ground you are putting it on is level. If you need to, dig out one side to make the ladder even with the other side. You also can use levelers. Don’t use your ladder on stairs unless you are using an articulating ladder.
  2. When calculating the weight being put on a ladder, make sure to include the tools and supplies the worker will be using. If the ladder is rated for 250 pounds, and the worker weighs 240 pounds, he or she should have no more than 10 pounds of equipment.
  3. Why is the bottom rung the most dangerous? Because that’s the rung that gets missed the most. Almost 20 percent of all ladder accidents are caused by the worker thinking he is on the last rung when, in fact, he has another one or two rungs (so one or two feet) to go. These accidents can lead to sprains, strains and, in the more serious cases, broken bones.
  4. When climbing the ladder, keep your center of gravity between the rails. Often, people will lean to save time so they don’t have to move the ladder. Doing this is not only dangerous, but can cost more time in the long run if there is any sort of accident.
  5. When working on a ladder, don’t stand on the top rung or top cap. The top rung serves no purpose but to hold a warning label. When a worker climbs on the top rung or top cap, he or she risks a ladder accident.
  6. Different jobs require different ladders. Don’t use an A-frame when an extension ladder should be used or an extension ladder when an A-frame would be better.

If you would like help putting together ladder safety training for your employees, contact our Safety Director Reed Balls at 801-443-1090 or rballs@aplusbenefits.com for more information.

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A Plus BenefitsLadder Safety is Important for All Work Environments