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Onboarding_Body.jpg

For small business owners time is a precious commodity. Yet when it comes to helping a new employee get acclimated to their role and environment, it’s timewell spent. By planning ahead and allowing the newcomer to gradually adjust to their new position, you can reap long-term productivity and revenue gains.

 

A thought-out company introduction helps increase employee retention, improve productivity, and enhance morale. Leslie Lerude, a human resources consultant based in San Francisco, calls this process the “welcoming experience.”

 

“Statistics show that a successful welcoming experience leads to greater tenure with the company,” she says. “Employees build a stronger emotional connection to the company, which enhances their loyalty to the employee brand.”

 

Employee longevity makes good business sense. A study from Society for Human Resource Management estimates that it costs six to nine months’ of an employee’s salary to replace them. High turnover can also damage morale and productivity. “Employees can’t help but wonder why there’s so much turnover,” Lerude says. “It’s far better to be proactive and focus on welcoming than react to turnover.”

 

Onboarding_PQ.jpg

To ensure your company creates a positive, productive experience for bringing on new employees, keep the following practices in mind:

 

Prepare in advance

As soon as you hire a new employee, start preparing for her arrival. Lerude suggests that small business owners create a detailed welcoming checklist. Include everything from ordering business cards, organizing a workstation, and acquiring and setting up a computer and other necessary equipment. “It’s a financial and cultural loss when an employee shows up and nothing is set up for them,” says Lerude.

 

Focus on culture first

During the first week, let your new employee get acquainted with the people and surroundings. Give them a tour of the facility, schedule meetings with management, and treat them to lunch with the team. “A small business should culturally invest in candidates during their first week,” says Lerude. “Give them time to connect with the company’s mission, values, and people. The company will get a different level of productivity back in spades.”

 

The new hire’s direct manager should also discuss general work processes such as email and communication protocol. The manager should give the new hire the tools necessary to learn any proprietary software, scheduling tools, and internal communications platforms.

 

Assign an ambassador

A new employee can disrupt the existing team’s routine. Some staffers may not want to take time out of their day to train a new employee. Others need time to warm up to a new person. To ease tension among the team, Lerude suggests designating a “cultural ambassador.” Appoint the employee that enjoys helping and training others, or who simply wants to expand his role in the company. “Encourage and reward the person that wants to be part of the welcoming experience,” she says.

 

By investing extra time on the front end to fully acclimate new employees, you’ll gain a more productive, motivated team. “Don’t see welcoming as a policy,” Lerude says. “See it as a great practice.”

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Touchpoint Media Inc. to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Touchpoint Media Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Touchpoint Media Inc. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

 

©2016 Bank of America Corporation

 

Hiring talent is an ever-present challenge filled with nuances and complexities – whether you’re running a brand new start-up seeking the best talent to grow your business, or you’re a well-established small business owner experiencing exponential growth. This Bank of America Small Business Social Series Hangout is a panel discussion on small business hiring, moderated by Carol Roth from CNBC. Join panelists Jon Dowst (Bank of America Small Business Executive), Stephanie Bevegni (LinkedIn Small Business Content Lead) and Steve Strauss (USA TODAY Business Columnist) as they guide you through tips and strategies for navigating the hiring process, helping you to attract skilled and experienced candidates that have the highest potential for making substantial contributions to your company.

 

 

 

 

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Employee_Learning_Body.jpgBy Cathie Ericson.

 

Adapt to survive. That’s the mantra for today’s small business, and an important component is continuous learning. And while ongoing education helps strengthen your business, it can also be a key factor in employee retention. In fact, most employees, especially millennials, consider it an essential job component: A survey from EdAssist, a continuing education company, found that nearly 60 percent of respondents would choose a job offering regular professional development over one with regular pay raises.

But let’s face it; most small businesses don’t have a lot of cash to invest in expensive conferences or educational courses. Here are some ways you can incorporate continuous learning on a budget.

1. Institute regular stretch assignments

New employees are often energized by the learning curve when they come on board, but then begin to stagnate. Employers can help keep jobs fresh by offering a project that is one-third or more outside an employee’s expertise, so that they have to learn a new skill to complete it, advises Leigh Steere, co-founder of Managing People Better in Boulder, Colo. “Choose an assignment that relates to a pressing business issue so you both benefit,” she says. “The employee has a new experience and expands their thinking, and you glean a potential business solution.”

2. Customize the training

Generic training can cause most of your staff to tune out, says Bob Hewes, senior partner at Boston-based Camden Consulting Group. When you tailor learning to an individual and their existing level, you can ensure they are learning something new and relevant. For example, when training for presentation skills, take into account the experience of the group and hold one-on-one sessions that are customized to each person’s specific job function and current mastery.

Employee_Learning_PQ.jpg3. Extend conferences to those back in the office

It’s often not feasible to send a whole team to an industry event, even if most team members would benefit. Tasking participants with teaching the rest of the staff shares the wealth, and also ensures attendees are attentive at the sessions, knowing they have to present key ideas on their return, says Kean Graham, CEO of MonetizeMore, a virtual ad optimization firm.

4. Hold a book club

Choose a book that impacts your business, but also inspires your employees, suggests Austin, Texas-based business strategy consultant Joshua Schall. After the team has read the book, order in food and convene to discuss insights, and then reinforce them regularly in future meetings. Schall recently recommended The Lean Startup by Eric Ries to a client, who then successfully introduced a new product using the book’s concept of “build-measure-learn,” a departure from traditional consumer packaged goods ideologies.

5. Make it a regular event

Learning activities become a priority when you incorporate them into your employees’ weekly schedules, finds Rasheen Carbin, co-founder and CMO of nspHire.com, a job-posting site based in Oak Brook, Ill. He advocates using online learning sites such as Coursera, Udemy or Skillshare and also suggests his employees allocate 10 percent of their time to side projects sparked by what they are learning. “Send a message to your employees that improving their skill set is highly valued by allocating company time,” Carbin says.

6. Encourage chances for cross-pollination

Offer employees an hour or two to periodically shadow people in other functions says Stan Kimer, founder of Total Engagement Consulting, a career development and diversity management consultancy in Raleigh, N.C. For example, he suggests sending a customer service representative to shadow a salesperson to hear how the help desk support is framed in a sales call. “This will give the help desk person an appreciation for how important their role is in winning new clients, and possibly ignite their interest in a future sales role,” he says, adding that it also allows a small business to develop possible backfills in case key people depart.

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Touchpoint Media Inc. to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Touchpoint Media Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Touchpoint Media Inc. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2016 Bank of America Corporation

 

 

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The Spice Girls once asked you to tell them what you want, what you really, really want. Fast-forward a few years and employees are following suit by telling their companies what they desire – and need – to be happy at work.

 

Some of their wish-to-haves are unusual: nap rooms, company-paid lunches and bring-your-pet-to-work days, for example. But when it comes down to it, they’re looking for the things employees have always yearned for, including more vacation days, better 401(k) matches and flexible work schedules (although the very optimistic would like to pay no health care premiums).1

 

Altogether these wants point to an underlying issue. After years of increasing premiums and copayments, many workers are tired of shelling out more and more of their hard-earned dollars for health care benefits. That’s really not surprising given that worker contributions for family coverage increased by 83 percent from 2005-2015.2

 

Since there’s no indication that premiums and deductibles will decline in cost anytime soon, wise employers are looking for ways to enhance their benefits plans in ways that provide value. One simple solution is the addition or expansion of voluntary insurance options. Because premiums are paid by employees who elect to enroll, these benefits can bulk up a company’s list of health care offerings at no direct cost to the company itself. And while the benefits aren’t free, employees can choose from an array of plans that may meet their families’ needs and budgets.

 

To learn more about voluntary insurance and what employees want, check out “Nap rooms, coffee bars and free lunches.”

 

 

This article is for informational purposes and is not intended as a solicitation.

1Mass Mutual Financial Group. “2015 Mass Mutual Generations@Work Study.” Accessed March 6, 2016. https://www.massmutual.com/~/media/files/2015-MM-Generations-at-Work-Study.pdf

2 Kaiser Foundation. “HRET Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Benefits, 2005-2015.” Accessed March 4, 2016. http://kff.org/report-section/ehbs-2015-summary-of-findings/ .

Bank of America, N.A. engages with American Life Insurance Company of Columbus (“Aflac”) to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Aflac Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Aflac. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

Z160190                                                                                                                                                                  3/16

 

 

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Employee_Wellness_Body.jpgBy Cathie Ericson.

 

From noon yoga breaks to kale smoothies in the breakroom, employee wellness is all the rage. And with good reason: According to the 2015 Strategic Benefits Survey from the Society for Human Resource Management, more than three-quarters of respondents rated their wellness initiatives as “somewhat effective" or “very effective” in reducing health care costs. 

 

“Promoting wellness in the workplace is vital for an employee’s health and overall satisfaction. Most employees are looking for ways to feel better during the day so they don't leave work and return home feeling exhausted and depleted,” says Katie Bressack, a Los Angeles-based nutrition and wellness coach who creates corporate wellness programs.

 

Of course, not every small company has the resources to reimburse gym memberships or hire on-site masseuses. Here are four low- to no-cost ways that small businesses can encourage employee wellness.

 

Upgrade your snacks

You might not be able to host a full salad bar or made-to-order sushi lunches, but you can make sure that the food you do offer is healthy. Replace the traditional Monday morning meeting muffins with a fruit plate or make your happy hour “healthy hour” with hummus and veggies. If you have a vending machine, ask your supplier to add in healthier fare, such as nuts, granola or baked snacks, suggests Bressack.

 

Employee_Wellness_PQ.jpgLeave for lunch

Ditch the sad desk lunch, consumed while you’re on a conference call or triaging emails. “When you encourage employees to leave the office during their break, they’ll return with improved energy and focus to be more productive,” Bressack says. Suggest they take a walk, soak up some sun, or even run an errand to cross something off their to-do list and lighten their after-work load. One study found that lunchtime walks improved mood and decreased stress, a major contributor to poor health.

 

Just move

Have you heard that sitting is the new smoking? Studies have found that being sedentary can lead to an increased risk of a host of conditions, from Type 2 diabetes to cancer and heart disease. Sure, you could invest in standing desks, but you’ll get the same benefit for free when you hold standing meetings or encourage your employees to actually leave their desks and visit their coworkers rather than communicating via a messaging app or email. Hit with a mid-afternoon slump? “A stand-and-stretch break will give everyone a little more energy to make it to the end of the day,” says Bressack, without relying on a caffeine or sugar fix.

 

Host a healthy challenge

Sign up for a 5K as a group or have everyone track their steps for a month. You don’t even need a pricey pedometer since most smartphones have a step-tracking app. Bressack recommends her clients ask a local yoga studio or gym if they will donate free passes as prizes. Sometimes “carrots” in the form of incentives are just as important to a successful wellness program as the orange kind.

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Touchpoint Media Inc. to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Touchpoint Media Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Touchpoint Media Inc. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2016 Bank of America Corporation

 

 

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Wellness programs continue to rise in importance

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StudentDebt_Body.jpgBy Cathie Ericson.

 

Health insurance. Vacation. A 401(k) program. Student loan debt repayment. Wait, what? Believe it or not, student debt repayment programs are increasingly a benefit offered by some larger companies.

 

When you consider that the class of 2015 graduated with an average of $35,000 in student debt, it’s clear that younger employees are increasingly bowing under the crushing weight of student loans. In fact, The Department of Education has reported that approximately $1 billion in loans has been collected in each of the past few years through wage garnishment, a 40 percent increase from 2006. Given that recent graduates often start their careers at smaller firms, the potential collection burden to small businesses is significant.

 

Here are some ways that small business owners can help them with their burden, while earning the continued loyalty of these valued younger employees.

 

Consider offering assistance as a benefit

Seem like something only a larger company can offer? Not if you swap it out for another benefit. Consider that a study from Student Loan Hero, a website that helps borrowers tackle their student loan debt, found that nearly half of the workers it surveyed would prefer student loan repayment assistance to a 401(k) retirement plan match. Student Loan Hero took the results to heart; it offers a three percent match of an employee’s salary and allows each to choose if they’d like it to go toward student loans or a retirement plan.

 

Another small business having success with a student loan repayment option is Little Newtons Early Childhood Education Centers in Minneapolis. Owner Alise McGregor finds it’s a way to build loyalty among her younger workers, which helps keep her clients happy, since these younger workers are caring for their children all day. “Children benefit from consistent caregivers, so it’s important to us to invest in our team," she says.

 

StudentDebt_PQ.jpgAdvance money to allow employees to pay off their student loans early

AJ Saleem, director of Houston-based Suprex Learning, a private tutoring and test prep company, employs this unusual tactic to help his employees minimize interest fees. As a recent graduate who was able to pay off his loan thanks to family assistance, he started the program to help those who lack similar support. About two-thirds of his workforce is comprised of college graduates with student loans to pay off. Loans for part-time workers average around $1,500 a year; full-time employee loans are around $3,500 per year. “I intend for this loan to be a long-term benefit, so I allow them to delay paying me back until either they resign or they finish paying off their loans,” he says. Of course, if they leave they have to pay him back immediately, a condition they agree to prior to taking the loan. “I find their hard work and subsequent loyalty more than make up for the interest-free loan I’ve provided,” he says.

 

Teach them money management skills

As the owner of boutique consulting firm CDJ & Associates in Southfield, Mich., and the mom of five millennials herself, Camille Jamerson understands the need to help this group with money skills. One of the programs she offers her employees is a series of workshops on personal finance to help them with basic money skills many have never learned. She also developed a “Biggest Loser” contest that had participants compete to see who could pay down the largest percentage of their debt, given specific parameters. “These programs have been cost effective and have helped tremendously in garnering millennial loyalty,” she says.

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Touchpoint Media Inc. to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Touchpoint Media Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Touchpoint Media Inc. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

 

©2016 Bank of America Corporation


ParentalLeave_Body.jpgBy Heather R. Johnson.

 

If your small business has fewer than 50 employees you aren’t required to offer paid parental leave, or any leave at all. However, offering parental leave to new and growing families does wonders for employee morale, productivity, and loyalty. While six-plus weeks of paid leave may not be financially feasible for many small businesses, with careful planning, you can design a plan that accommodates parents and employers alike.

 

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) states that businesses with 50 or more employees are required to offer 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to care for newborn or adopted children. FMLA exempts businesses with fewer than 50 employees. Yet, even unpaid leave costs small businesses money, considering contractor wages and the extra hours involved in spreading the work to other employees. However, experts say crafting a parental leave plan that helps new parents is worth the effort and expense.

 

“When employees return from leave, they have a higher engagement level, which means higher productivity,” says Carrie Ahmad, vice president of People for Turning the Corner LLC, a consulting firm for small businesses and job seekers based in Boulder, Colorado. “They also tend to stay with the organization longer because it stood by them.”

 

To design a plan that works for your business, consider one or some combination of the following benefits:

 

Telecommuting and flexible schedules

Employees appreciate flextime or the option to work from home, Ahmad says. “If the employee can work from home or work half days, he or she can continue to bond with their child and the employer can keep moving forward,” she says.

 

One Turning the Corner client offered eight weeks of partially paid leave followed by a period of telecommuting. The employee gradually eased back into full-time work over a 13-week period. Flextime and telecommuting provide a good compromise when the employer can’t afford to lose an employee for 12 weeks.

 

ParentalLeave_PQ.jpgDisability leave

Short-term disability insurance can cover a portion of an employee’s income during maternity or paternity leave at little cost. Employers can either pay for the coverage themselves or offer plans to employees as an optional benefit.

 

Project Frog, an architectural design startup based in San Francisco, offers a generous paternity leave program that combines company- and state-paid wages (up to 55 percent of weekly wages). When platform design manager Justin Mikecz took leave to bond with his first child, he received 75 percent of his salary for six weeks.

 

Under California’s Paid Family Leave program, Mikecz had up to one year to use those six weeks. “I often worked four-day weeks to take at least some of the burden off my wife,” he says.

 

Paid time off

Some companies allow employees to use their accrued Paid Time Off (PTO) to cover a portion of unpaid leave. Other companies require that an employee exhaust PTO before using any disability benefits or unpaid time. This option comes at a lesser cost to the employer, but leaves the new mom or dad with virtually no paid time off if either parent or child gets sick.

 

Giving employees the opportunity to stay home with their baby is a wonderful benefit that’s becoming more in demand. With financial ingenuity, you can design a family leave plan that both the employer and employee can afford.

 

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Touchpoint Media Inc. to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Touchpoint Media Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Touchpoint Media Inc. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

 

©2016 Bank of America Corporation

Advances in medicine mean people today live longer lives, even if they suffer from critical illnesses. Naturally, living longer with a critical illness means paying more treatment-related costs — a possibility that has many Americans concerned. In a recent Sun Life Financial study, 47 percent of participants age 40 to 50 said finances would be their top worry if faced with a critical illness, far more than the 29 percent who named dying as their primary fear.1

 

What is critical illness insurance?

As a benefits decision-maker, you understand the importance of critical illness coverage. And while most workers are well-versed about the need for major medical, home and vehicle insurance, many don’t know that critical illness coverage exists.

 

Critical illness insurance is a way for employees to help themselves stay ahead of the medical and out-of-pocket expenses than can accompany certain medical events. For example, many lump-sum critical illness policies pay benefits when an individual experiences a covered event such as:

 

  • A heart attack
  • A stroke
  • A major human organ transplant
  • End-stage renal failure
  • A coma
  • Paralysis

 

Why consider critical illness insurance?

Critical illness coverage helps provide protection from the financial liability of certain catastrophic health events. Receiving a lump-sum benefits payment helps policyholders worry less about how to pay illness-related expenses and concentrate more on recovery.

 

With new statistics and projections about the likelihood of suffering from a critical illness, there has never been a better time to offer supplemental voluntary insurance at the worksite. As employers evaluate, choose and communicate their benefits offerings to employees, it is important they convey the potential financial impact of being diagnosed with a critical illness.

 

The 2015 Aflac WorkForces Report survey revealed that health care costs have a long-lasting effect on American workers’ creditworthiness. Participating employees said medical costs are affecting their credit scores, keeping them from paying other bills and preventing their efforts to save for retirement or a rainy day. The survey revealed that 52 percent of American workers have $1,000 or less on hand to pay out-of-pocket expenses associated with an unexpected serious illness or accident. What’s more, 44 percent would have to borrow from a 401(k) and/or use a credit card to cover out-of-pocket expenses if they or a family member experienced an unexpected serious illness or accident.2

 

The Aflac report’s findings are echoed by those of the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau, which found that nearly 20 percent of U.S. consumers — or almost 43 million people — have unpaid medical debts. The study also found that more than half of all debt listed on credit reports stems from medical expenses and that the average person with overdue medical debt owes $1,766.3

 

How can critical illness insurance benefit employers?

In addition to playing havoc with employees’ finances, the high price of critical illness affects companies’ bottom lines. The financial distress suffered by workers can lead to absenteeism, on-the-job distraction and a general sense of anxiety that is difficult to leave at the door.

 

When working with a broker or insurance adviser to strengthen their organizations’ benefits offerings, human resources experts should ask for information about how critical illness insurance fits into the picture. In general, critical illness policies work side by side with major medical plans by offering cash benefits that can be used to pay deductibles, copayments and other out-of-pocket medical costs. Because cash benefits can be used as policyholders see fit, they can also be used to pay household expenses, including the rent or mortgage, utilities, credit card debt and any other bill threatening their financial security.

 

 

 

 

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a solicitation.

 

1 Sun Life Financial. “Well-placed fears: Workers perceptions of critical illness,” accessed Nov. 10, 2015 – http://www.sunlifesummit.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Critical-Illness-Research-Whitepaper_7.pdf

2 The 2015 Aflac WorkForces Report, “Waste not, want not,” accessed Nov. 10, 2015 - https://www.aflac.com/business/resources/aflac-workforces-report/overview/waste-not-want-not.aspx.

3 Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, “CPFB spotlights concerns with medical debt and reporting,” accessed Nov. 10, 2015 - http://www.consumerfinance.gov/newsroom/cfpb-spotlights-concerns-with-medical-debt-collection-and-reporting/.

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with American Life Insurance Company of Columbus (“Aflac”) to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Aflac Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Aflac. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

More employers are offering wellness programs than ever before. This year, close to half of the 1,977 business decision-makers surveyed in the Aflac WorkForces Report said they offer a company-sponsored wellness program, which is up from 30 percent in 2012. Insurance brokers noted a similar trend, and just over half (53 percent) agree1 they regularly recommend wellness programs to their clients.

 

Not only are more businesses turning to wellness programs, but the study found that employers and brokers may also be becoming more effective when executing wellness initiatives. Over half of employers that offer wellness programs (53 percent) believe their program is effective,2 which is up 7 percentage points compared to 2014. And nearly 4 in 10 brokers (39 percent) agree1 they have helped clients lower health insurance premiums as a result of their wellness programs, which is an increase of five percentage points compared to 2013 and 2014 (34 percent).

 

Wellness programs influence employee satisfaction

One advantage to having a wellness program is the influence it can have on employee satisfaction. Of those with wellness programs, 3 in 4 employers agree their programs improve worker satisfaction. And employees who participate in their companies’ wellness programs are more satisfied3 in their jobs (70 percent vs. 59 percent) and with their benefits packages (66 percent vs. 58 percent) than those who don’t participate in their companies’ programs. What’s more, employees whose companies offer wellness programs are less likely4 to look for new jobs in the next 12 months than those without wellness programs (46 percent vs. 52 percent).

 

What are successful programs doing differently?

Wellness programs come in all shapes and sizes, but not all programs are successful with helping companies offer lower premiums to their employees. Surprisingly, the study found that the most popular program components may not be the most effective. For instance, although few companies with wellness programs offer an on-site doctor or nurse (17 percent), over half of those that do (65 percent) agree5 they are able to offer lower health insurance premiums as a result of their wellness program. On the other hand, over half of employers with a wellness program offer Employee Assistance Programs (54 percent), but just half of these (51 percent) agree5 they are able to offer lower health insurance premiums as a result of their wellness program (see Chart 1).

 

 

Chart 1: An employer’s ability to lower premiums varies by type of wellness program offered

 

Employers with wellness programs that include the following components:

Ratio of those employers who agree5 they’ve been able to lower premiums as a result of their wellness program

On-site doctor or nurse

17%

65%

Wellness screenings

64%

60%

Healthy eating incentives

52%

59%

Smoking cessation programs

56%

59%

Preventive care programs

55%

58%

Company events such as fun runs

34%

58%

Stress management programs

47%

57%

Health fairs

41%

55%

On-site gym or discounted gym membership

45%

55%

Employee assistance program

54%

51%

 

Well-rounded benefits + communications = employee engagement

Wellness programs may boast higher engagement when paired with other work site perks and strong communications strategies. The study found that wellness program participation is higher among employers that offer financial guidance and education, voluntary benefits and flexible scheduling. It’s also higher among companies that have increased the frequency of benefits communications in the past year (see Chart 2). Having multiple options may boost communications opportunities and awareness overall, which can be amplified when an employer works to communicate frequently about their benefits programs.

 

Chart 2: Employee participation in wellness programs is higher among companies with stronger benefits communication

 

 

Employee participates

Employee doesn’t participate

Employer only communicates about benefits at open enrollment and new hire

33%

46%

Frequency of benefits communication increased in the past year

21%

11%

Employer communicates too little about employee benefits

28%

34%

Employer communicates the right amount about employee benefits

71%

65%

 

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a solicitation.

 

 

 

About the study

The 2015 Aflac WorkForces Report is the fifth annual Aflac employee benefits study examining benefit trends and attitudes. The study, conducted in January and February 2015 by Research Now, captured responses from 1,977 benefits decision-makers and 5,337 employees from across the United States. To learn more about the Aflac WorkForces Report, visit AflacWorkForcesReport.com.

The Broker Survey was conducted online within the United States between January 20, 2015, and February 10, 2015, among 306 insurance brokers or producers employed at a company with three or more employees. No theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.

1 Completely or strongly agree

2 Extremely or very effective

3 Extremely or very satisfied

4 Extremely, very or somewhat likely

5 Somewhat or strongly agree

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with American Life Insurance Company of Columbus (“Aflac”) to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Aflac Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Aflac. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Z150527R                                                                                                                                                                                12/15


Robb-Hilson3.pngBy Robb Hilson, Bank of America Small Business Executive

 

In today’s ultra-competitive business landscape, hiring the right talent is a vital part of growing, running and maintaining a successful business. This is especially crucial for small business owners, who typically have very streamlined organizations. In our daily interactions with small business owners, we’ve seen increased optimism and an inclination to hire, and the numbers support what we’re seeing. According to the latest Bank of America Small Business Owner Report (SBOR), 67 percent of small business owners plan to hire new employees in 2016, and 78 percent predict business growth over the next five years.

 

Though small business owners are excited about their prospects for growth, bringing in—and hanging on to—top-tier talent can be challenging. As the modern workplace continues to evolve, small business owners must adapt to their environment to avoid falling behind in the technology they use or the benefits they offer employees. Recently, I participated in a Google Hangout with Alexandra Levit, a workplace expert, and USA Today columnist Steve Strauss to discuss how the small business workplace is evolving, and how small business owners are adapting. Here are some of my biggest takeaways:

 

  1. Develop a talent strategy. Hiring should never be done on the fly. Take the time to assess your needs and find employees who can round out your team by building on your strengths and fixing your weaknesses. Consider working with potential employees in a freelance or part-time capacity before you hire them, and make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to your company’s goals.

  2. Be flexible with your employees’ needs. Building the right culture is essential—happy employees create happy customers. You should also keep in mind the different attitudes and priorities of employees from a variety of generations. According to the SBOR, small business owners are now offering all types of creative perks like areas to relax and unwind (20 percent) and pet-friendly environments (11 percent). At the end of day, making your employees feel like their ideas are valued and their opinions are heard is the most important thing you can do.

  3. Make technology your ally. Technology can be a windfall for your business and employees. Giving employees the option to telecommute can make their lives easier and their work better—54 percent of the small business owners we surveyed believe their employees are more productive when they have the option to work from home. And, when it comes to bringing new technology into your business, don’t get overwhelmed with all the technological options out there—speak to your team and find the right mix for your business.

 

For additional insights about optimizing your talent and technology in an evolving small business workplace, you can watch our entire discussion here.

According to the Fall 2015 Small Business Owner Report, more entrepreneurs than ever are feeling optimistic about the future of their businesses. They are hiring more, planning growth strategies and looking ahead in big ways.  In the face of all this growth, however, a continuous concern among small business owners is having good talent – and keeping it. In order to retain the talent that keeps their businesses running, it’s important that small business owners adjust to emerging workplace trends, like adopting new technologies and offering unconventional employee perks.

 

This month’s installment of Bank of America’s Small Business Social Series will discuss how small business owners can increase employee retention and productivity through changes to the workplace environment.

 

 

After years of debate and untold numbers of articles, questions and explanations, health care reform is in full swing. But just when businesses think they understand the ins and outs of the Affordable Care Act, a new wrinkle emerges. Unfortunately, sometimes those wrinkles can result in penalties. Reduce your company’s odds of being fined with these quick tips:

 

1.  Know whether your company is accountable for the Employer Shared-Responsibility Requirement. Breathe easy if your company is very small: Only employers with 50 or more full-time-equivalent (FTE) employees are affected. While larger employers with 100 or more FTEs must comply in 2015, employers with 50 to 99 FTEs have a grace period until 2016.

 

2.  Know the standards coverage must meet to be compliant. There are just two criteria:

  • Coverage must be considered affordable, meaning it can’t exceed 9.5 percent of an employee’s household income.
  • Coverage must have an actuarial value of at least 60 percent, meaning it must pay, on average, 60 percent of the cost of essential health benefits.

 

3.  Understand that employers with 50 or more FTEs are required to extend compliant coverage only to those working at least 30 service hours per work and their dependent children under age 26.  Service hours include hours worked and hours for which an employee is paid but doesn’t work – for example, vacation, holiday, illness or disability, jury duty and military duty hours.

 

4.  Know that two things must combine to trigger ACA penalties. First, an employer with 50 or more FTEs must fail to offer complaint health care coverage. Second, at least one full-time employee must qualify for and receive a premium subsidy in the individual insurance market through a federal or state exchange.

 

5.  Weigh potential noncompliance penalties against the cost of offering coverage. Keep in mind that there are nonmonetary benefits to offering employees health care coverage. These include improved job satisfaction, loyalty and morale.

 

6.  Beware the upcoming Cadillac Tax. Named after Detroit’s luxury automobile, a 40 percent Cadillac Tax is scheduled to take effect in plan years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2018. Although regulations could evolve before it’s implemented, employers can begin to determine how their plans might be affected when the tax goes into effect. Get the details on the tax, including how it’s calculated, who pays it and what products are involved, by checking out some commonly asked questions and answers.

 



To learn more about health care reform, go to: https://www.aflac.com/health-care-reform/navigating-health-care-reform/default.aspx.

Please note that HCR material  herein is intended to provide general information about an evolving topic and does not constitute legal, tax or accounting advice regarding any specific situation. All readers are strongly encouraged to discuss their HCR situations with their advisors to determine the actions they need to take or to visit healthcare.gov (which may also be contacted at 1-800-318-2596) for additional information.

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with American Life Insurance Company of Columbus (“Aflac”) to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Aflac Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Aflac. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

 

HCR15029                                                                                                                                                                                                                        8/25/15

Performance_Reviews_body.jpgBy Heather R. Johnson.

 

Here’s a trend that small business owners should take note of: According to the Institute of Corporate Productivity, 10 percent of Fortune 500 companies have done away with annual performance reviews for their employees in favor of more frequent conversations and guidance. 

 

“Sitting down once a year has never been a very valuable feedback tool,” says Kellie Conn, vice president of human resource services for Paradigm Group, an employee benefits, human resources, and retirement services consulting firm based in Nashville. “It’s difficult for managers to track performance and give accurate feedback for the entire year.”

 

And while employees of all ages appreciate acknowledgement and constructive criticism, the millennials are the demographic group that has pushed for more frequent reviews. “Younger workers place a high value on regular feedback,” says Conn. “Many of them are very comfortable asking for what they need. Finally, they are getting through to employers.”

 

As a result, the annual review has become out of step in today’s work environment. Because of this, many companies have shifted from this yearly event to quarterly or even weekly goal reviews or casual “check-ins.”

 

“These evaluations are still written-down, specific-performance indicators, but are done in smaller chunks,” says Conn. “The annual evaluation then becomes a summary of those meetings. That way, if the salary review is tied to the annual review, it will be a lot more accurate.”

 

Performance_Reviews_PQ.jpgJack Elliott, vice president of operations for Muir Medical Group IPA, Inc., in northern California, supports a quarterly review process coupled with consistent feedback. “Address an issue immediately as it comes up, and be very clear about your expectations,” he says. Elliott also recommends weekly roundtable discussions to maintain ongoing dialog. “Take time each week with the employee to go over what worked and what didn’t,” he says. “You’ll avoid any surprises that way.”

 

Goal review points of discussion

During these more frequent review meetings, employers often set three to five goals with the employee that align with the department and the company as a whole. This adds meaning to the employee’s daily responsibilities. “The small business owner is entrepreneurial in spirit,” says Elliott. “So it may be hard to accept that the employee is more invested in a short commute than your vision or product. As a small business owner, you have to sell that employee, too. She needs to see that she can have some effect on growing the business.”

 

No matter how often a performance review is conducted, managers must continue to document the conversation. “For legal reasons the supervisor still needs to document everything thoroughly,” says Conn. “That’s why the annual evaluation hasn’t died completely—companies would lose their performance documentation system.”

 

In general, performance reviews bring structure to the workplace. Whether you decide to review on a monthly, quarterly, or even on a good old-fashioned annual basis, find a system that keeps employees motivated through the year and highlights their accomplishments.

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Touchpoint Media Inc. to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Touchpoint Media Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Touchpoint Media Inc. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

 

©2015 Bank of America Corporation

 

Crutches.jpgAccidents occur every day and without warning – that’s why they’re called accidents. Small accidents that can be treated with supplies from a standard medicine cabinet are the norm. But sometimes the injuries are much bigger and significantly more expensive to treat.

 

Of course, most people are optimistic and tell themselves that serious accidents, the type that require treatment at a clinic or hospital, only happen to other people. But the truth is they can strike anyone at any time. Sometimes they occur in the course of everyday life: think kitchen accidents, sports injuries, or even tripping and falling. Other times, accidents leave us shaking our heads in disbelief. Just Google “freak accident” and you’ll come up with more than 13 million results.

 

Who pays for that?
Many people believe the Social Security Administration will step in to lend a financial hand if they’re seriously hurt, but that’s often an incorrect assumption. The Social Security Administration received more than 2.5 million applications for disability assistance in 2014 but approved just 811,000 of the requests.1 What’s more, upward of 90 percent of disabling injuries aren’t work-related, so they’re not covered by workers’ compensation.2

 

Adding insult to accidental injury is the fact that many U.S. families simply aren’t good at saving money. Half of all households fall into the financially fragile category: Just 48 percent of participants in the Federal Reserve System’s most recent survey on economic well-being said they could completely cover a hypothetical emergency expense costing $400 without selling something or borrowing money.3 That echoes the results of the 2015 Aflac WorkForces Report, where 44 percent of workers surveyed said they would have to borrow from a 401(k), or another retirement account, to pay expenses related to a serious illness or accident.4

 

How employers can help

The good news? You can help your company’s employees cope with costs stemming from an unexpected injury by providing access to voluntary accident insurance. It’s a smart business decision when you consider that coverage may help them keep their minds on their jobs and not on personal financial issues.

 

According to the Aflac survey, 20 percent of workers have had difficulty paying medical bills. What’s more, 17 percent have been contacted by collection agencies about outstanding medical expenses and/or received dings on their credit reports for nonpayment. With that kind of trouble on their minds, it’s no wonder that 20 percent of employees named personal financial issues as the top non-work-related issue that distracts them on the job or that 59 percent said they’re likely to take a job with slightly lower pay but better benefits.

 

To find out how to help keep your workers more focused and productive – not to mention away from the “help wanted” ads – check out Aflac’s accident insurance.

 

 

 

 

 

1Social Security Administration, “Disabled-worker disability statistics,” accessed June 30, 2015 - http://www.ssa.gov/oact/STATS/dibStat.html  

2Facts from LIMRA, “Disability Insurance Awareness Month,” accessed June 30, 2015 – http://firstchoicebenefits.com/pdf/FCB_2014-DI-Fact-Sheet.pdf

3U.S. Federal Reserve, “Report on the economic well-being of U.S. households in 2013,” accessed June 30, 2015 - http://www.federalreserve.gov/econresdata/2013-report-economic-well-being-us-households-201407.pdf

4The 2015 Aflac WorkForces Report, conducted in Feb. 2015 by Research Now on Aflac’s behalf, accessed June 30, 2015 – http://workforces.aflac.com

5Likely = extremely, very and somewhat likely, 2015 Aflac WorkForces Report

Bank of America, N.A. engages with American Life Insurance Company of Columbus (“Aflac”) to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Aflac Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Aflac. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Z150618         


4_Day_Work_Week_body.jpgBy Erin O’Donnell.


As American workers place more of a premium on work-life balance, small business owners are discovering that flexible work schedules can help them recruit and retain top talent. In particular, the four-day work week is gaining in popularity among small businesses that promote a flexible workplace.


David Lewis, president and CEO of OperationsInc, a human resources outsourcing firm, often speaks to small business owners about the pros and cons of the four-day work week, and counsels companies on best practices for employee retention and workplace flexibility.


“A flexible work week is becoming more and more part of the norm,” he says. “So, business owners are thinking, what else can we do to be flexible and accommodating?”


Lewis says any business can be a good candidate for a four-day work week. Here are some of the top issues to consider before making the leap:


How will customers be affected? Do your clients expect 24-hour access to your employees or service? Would you still be able to offer the same turnaround time on orders in fewer days? Consider what will happen to customer service or vendors if you are closed one day a week. Or if key people are out on certain days.


Some firms stagger employee’s schedules so that not everyone has the same day off, and the business can maintain a five-day operating week.


4_Day_Work_Week_PQ.jpgWhat’s the tradeoff for employees? A typical compressed schedule is 10 hours a day, four days a week. But at some firms, a shorter week also means shorter hours for employees.


At OperationsInc, Lewis said most of his employees work part-time by choice, because they’re willing to trade off higher pay and benefits for more free time. Many are working parents. Some are commuters trying to save time and money. “I think retention is the biggest driver here,” Lewis says. “You’re trying to figure out ways to attract and retain a wider population of workers.”


If you reduce the number of full-time and/or exempt positions on your staff, remember that may also affect how you calculate holiday pay, sick time, and your obligations under the Affordable Care Act.


Will it improve productivity? Proponents of the four-day work week believe it improves productivity and efficiency by motivating workers to stay focused on the job at hand. Lewis says this may require a culture shift, especially among firms that have mostly hourly workers. “You have to get employees away from the mindset that they’re working to the clock, and instead they’re working to the task,” he says.


Lewis encourages all small business owners to at least investigate the four-day work week. “It becomes a competitive advantage if you have it,” he says. “If it doesn’t work for you, that’s fine. But it shouldn’t be because you haven’t explored it.”

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Touchpoint Media Inc. to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Touchpoint Media Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Touchpoint Media Inc. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

 

©2015 Bank of America Corporation

 

 

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