Small Business

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Understanding Employer Record Retention Requirements


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

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

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

Additional resources:

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

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

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A Plus BenefitsUnderstanding Employer Record Retention Requirements
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Three Simple Steps to Improve Performance Feedback


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Providing ongoing feedback to your employees is vital to their success and the success of your company as a whole. Even if your employees currently shy away from receiving feedback, the truth is they really do want and need it. According to research from Gallup, employees must receive both positive and negative feedback from their managers in order to feel engaged.

If you and your management team are not used to providing feedback, it can take time to develop those skills and make giving feedback a part of the company culture. Here are four steps from a recent article in TLNT to get you started:

Reframe feedback as a regular part of your business. Receiving feedback from a manger shouldn’t automatically fill your employees with dread. Make both positive and constructive feedback a daily practice. Once it becomes common, employees will be less likely to fear the communication.

Start with positive feedback. If you managers are really struggling with performance communication, have them start with positive feedback. Work with your managers to make sure they are catching people doing things well and acknowledging those things.

Invest in training for your managers and then ALL employees. Help your management team feel confident providing feedback to employees, no matter if it is negative or positive. Help your entire team understand how to effectively give both positive and negative feedback to one another. Also help everyone understand the best ways to receive that feedback and move forward.

Looking for resources?

Need something a little more customized? Reach out to our HR experts for help putting together a customized training specifically tailored to your team’s needs. You can reach them at humanresources@aplusbenefits.com or 1-800-748-5102.

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A Plus BenefitsThree Simple Steps to Improve Performance Feedback

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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A Plus BenefitsTips for Reducing Stress in the Workplace
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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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Building Relationships for Small Business Success


We’ve said many times that being a small business owner is just plain tough. The amount of literal blood, sweat and tears you must pour into building a small business is incredible. Think of a successful small business owner you know; any small business, any industry. There is no doubt that there were days, weeks, months or even years when that business owner wasn’t sure how much longer they could continue.

The story of Lora Olson, owner of Superior Cleaning Solutions is not much different. Her success over the past ten years hasn’t come without a great amount of sacrifice and hard work. In fact, Olson admitted that this year was the first time she and her husband had taken a “real vacation” where they didn’t answer work calls or emails. Olson’s dedication to her customers and employees shows. Her passion and pride in the relationships she has built with their incredibly loyal employees and the company’s excellent reputation with their customers and vendors shows. For Olson, these relationships are extremely personal. “Our industry is a small, tight knit community and our employees have a very specific skill set. This means we work hard to hang on to both our customers and our employees”

Being a very small business with only a handful of employees, SCS Employeeemployee retention is vital for Superior Cleaning Solutions.  When asked what she does to help keep employees around, Olson’s first answer was simple, “I feed them.” She said it with a laugh and it may seem like a small thing, but providing food for your employees every so often shows you value and appreciate their hard work. Olson takes that to the next level buying lunch or dinner for her team on a regular basis. She takes that same approach with her customers. The company doesn’t just sell customers a piece of equipment. They provide training classes hosted by the company that always include some home-cooked food. “They are friends. They aren’t just customers,” Olson says.

SCS ClassThe company also recognizes the importance of family and personal time for their employees. They encourage employees to spend time with their families and offer flexible time off policies to make sure employees have a good work-life balance. They ensure that employee’s schedules work with their family life and make adjustments whenever possible. This flexible approach shows employees that they are respected and trusted.

This approach is not without its downfalls at times. Olson recalls times when employees have taken advantage of the flexibility. “It’s hard not to take it personally,” says Olson. But after this many years in business, Olson has become skilled at weeding out those that will not be a good fit for the company. She understand s her company culture and what it takes to keep both employees and customers around.

Building a business with a great reputation in the industry with customers who value and trust their service is incredibly rewarding for Olson. But, being a small business owner definitely has it challenges. The immense amount of pressure places on business owners, who literally hold the livelihood of their employees and their customers in their hands, can be overwhelming. Olson says, “Sometimes you just have to white knuckle it and hold on for the wild ride.” With their great reputation and amazing employees, it looks like Olson will be on this ride for many years to come.

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A Plus BenefitsBuilding Relationships for Small Business Success
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Four Tips for Offering Negative Feedback to Employees


We often hear from small business leaders that dealing with an underperforming employee is one of the biggest challenges they face. No one likes to be perceived as the “bad guy,” delivering negative feedback to your employees. It isn’t fun and if you struggle with confrontation it can be very difficult. But as a leader, it is important to understand what you can do to help these underperforming employees succeed. It is far too expensive

to replace an underperforming employee every time they creep up in your organization and a lot of turnover can damage employee morale. Getting comfortable with proving constructive feedback to employees, even when the feedback is negative is vital to your success as a leader and as an organization. Here are four tips from an article in Forbes that help make the process of providing negative feedback a little easier.

Put yourself in the employee’s shoes. If you were in the employee’s position, wouldn’t you want to know if you were doing something wrong? And even more, wouldn’t you want to know what step you can take to become better? Treat the employee how you would hope be treated if you were in their position.

Make giving feedback a habit. Set up regular weekly or bi-weekly one-on-one sessions with the employees that report directly to you to provide them with both positive and negative feedback on their performance. One thing that can make this process easier is to balance any areas for improvement with what employees are doing well.

Be prepared. When you are providing employees with any sort of negative feedback, come prepared. Have clear examples of the inappropriate behavior or performance as well as possible steps for improvement.

Be aware your emotional reaction. Put the situation into perspective and avoid feeling guilty for providing employees with constructive criticism. Avoiding the situation is much worse than addressing it head on. Employees are expected to perform certain tasks as a part of their job. Holding employees accountable is not being cruel.

Being skilled at giving employees both positive and negative feedback will make you a better leader. Feedback is also one important piece of creating a culture of open communication with productive, engaged employees.

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A Plus BenefitsFour Tips for Offering Negative Feedback to Employees
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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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A Plus BenefitsStanding Out in a Job Interview- Advice from Real Small Business Leaders
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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