Top 5 Considerations You Must Know When Hiring & Managing Millennials!

Millennials, the latest generation to come of age and enter the workforce, have also become the largest generation in U.S. history, at 92 million in 2015, overtaking even the Baby Boomers’ showing at 77 million-strong. Based on these numbers, it’s safe to say that employers can expect to see many Millennials cross their thresholds and be seated across their interview tables in the coming years. Therefore, it only makes sense for employers and managers to learn as much as they can about this unique generation of U.S. workers and understand the many ways they differ from the generations that preceded them.

1. Differences between Millennials & Other Generations

Some of the differences between Millennials (born between 1980 and 2000), also known as Generation Y, and the generations that came before them are inherent, while others are the result of outside factors that have influenced their personalities, choices, viewpoints, and values. It’s important to differentiate between these somewhat new forms of “nature and nurture” for a better understanding of Gen Y and what truly matters to them. It’s also important to get a clear understanding of how to successfully engage Millennials and help them become more successful members of the workforce.

Millennials are marked by different behaviors, experiences, and values than those of their parents, grandparents, or much older siblings. Some of the major characteristics that differentiate Millennials from their Gen X, Baby Boomer and earlier counterparts are listed below.

General Traits & Tendencies:

  • Many still live with their parents in their 20s and 30s.
  • Many are putting off marriage longer than other generations did.
  • They are the “renter generation” since home ownership is often unattainable.
  • Many don’t own a vehicle or consider vehicle ownership important.
  • They actively pursue health and wellness via diet, exercise, and other healthy habits.
  • They are the first generation of digital natives, born in the technological era.
  • They are highly social and digitally connected.
  • They have a strong sense of fairness.

Work-Related Traits:

  • They are inveterate multi-taskers, to an unprecedented extent.
  • They are comfortable with and adept at e-networking.
  • They are efficient problem solvers and critical thinkers due to technology.
  • They lack patience for tedious processes that can be easily automated.
  • They embrace and are very comfortable with change.
  • They are more idealistic and socially conscious than earlier generations.
  • They are comfortable in groups and function well as part of a team.
  • They prefer to work hard rather than long and seek merit-based advancement.
  • They have less work experience but often more varied life experience.
  • They need work-life balance to pursue the many things they value outside of work.
  • They respect and value leaders who earn their respect by respecting and valuing them.
  • They are very loyal to the leaders they respect.

All these differences need to be taken into account when dealing with Millennials in the workplace in order to determine the best ways to make the most of their vast potential. These differences are also critical for employers and managers who hope to keep Millennials on their payrolls long-term to understand since they require certain alterations in workplace environment and management style

2. Forces & Factors that Have Shaped Millennials

Life in the 21st century has brought many influences to bear on the lives of Millennials, shaping them into the unique generation of fascinating individuals that they’ve become. The following are several of these factors, which, again, are crucial to understand in knowing what makes Millennials tick:

  • The sharing economy has groomed them for an “access and not ownership” mindset.
  • They’ve literally grown up with social media, which has given them a more global perspective.
  • Rapid change in technology and many other areas has affected their entire paradigm.
  • Globalization has influenced their ideals, their outlook, and their views on business.
  • The economic disruption of The Great Recession has given them a different reality for living and a somewhat altered view of “The American Dream.”
  • They have the largest student debt load of any generation before them.
  • Their parents have typically sheltered them and put them at the center of their lives, helping them avoid having to fend for themselves longer and giving them a certain sense of self-importance and entitlement.

3. Millennials’ Ethics & Ideals

There are many things that working Millennials value—and a number of things they hate—all of which can give their employers greater insight into how to best relate to them in the workplace.

Things Millennials Value:

  • Change, growth and advancement
  • Coaching and not “bossing”
  • Working “with” and not “for” their bosses
  • Positive reinforcement and not “trophies”
  • Autonomy, balance, and democracy
  • Productivity and not simply putting in x amount of hours on the job
  • Automation of tedious processes
  • A challenge or a project that requires a creative approach
  • Being listened to, valued, and appreciated
  • Freedom to use their talents in a meaningful way
  • Fun, enjoyment, and a positive work environment
  • Humanity, civility, and fairness

Things Millennials Hate:

  • Boredom
  • Tedium
  • Busywork
  • Putting in meaningless hours
  • Being looked down on
  • Authoritarianism
  • Lack of respect for their talents
  • Being treated as a number


4. Hiring & Retaining Millennials

Based on all of the above influences and characteristics that are more-or-less unique to Millennial workers, forward-thinking companies that are willing to be innovative and flexible in their approach to hiring and retaining them might want to consider providing some of the following benefits to attract them to the job initially and, once they’ve been hired, implementing the following norms to hold their interest and inspire their loyalty over time:

Benefits to consider offering Millennial job candidates/employees who need them:

  • Loan-repayment assistance programs
  • Debt counseling
  • Tuition assistance
  • Housing purchase assistance programs
  • Home ownership counseling
  • Alternative transportation programs

Norms to implement to keep employees motivated and invested in the company:

  • Multiple growth and advancement opportunities
  • Meaningful, challenging work
  • Work-life balance in its various forms
  • A fun, enjoyable, and employee-centered workplace
  • Unconventional (aka, flexible) work arrangements
  • Definite, shorter-term goals and milestones
  • Opportunities to be involved with good causes locally
  • Health and fitness programs

5. Tips for Managing Millennials

While managing Millennials may require some out-of-the-box thinking, the unconventional ways you view and relate to your Gen Y employees will make a huge difference in your workplace. Consider implementing the following tips for helping your Millennial workers do their best for the company, for you, and for themselves:

  • Provide structure and accountability.
  • Offer guidance and frequent feedback.
  • Reward milestones.
  • Set goals but offer autonomy on how to complete a task.
  • Be a mentor or coach rather than a “boss.”
  • Use teams to take advantage of Gen Y’s affinity for collaboration..
  • Offer flexible scheduling.
  • Reward accomplishments with paid time off.
  • Offer positive reinforcement and recognition.
  • Respect their ideas and contributions.
  • Show appreciation for their ingenuity.

Millennials have incredible potential. If an employer can figure out how to effectively harness their extensive creativity, ingenuity, and passion, there’s virtually no limit to how much they can accomplish. When Millennials are understood, respected, and valued for who they are, given the guidance they need, allowed to use their strengths and talents, and not put into a box, they can not only succeed in the workplace, but they are the generation that can change the world!

Looking to hire new employees? We have partnered with BizAssure, which offers services to our member clients to help them find the right person for the job! Feel free to contact us with further information.

15 Ways Your Company Wins By Investing In Your Team

In a very real sense, your employees are your company. So, anything of value that you invest in your team whether it be time, money, or anything else is an investment you make in your business. The following tips offer 15 ways your company can win by building morale, developing skills, and encouraging better performance in your team:

Boost Morale
Employee morale is one key indicator of the state of any business’s health. Improve yours by addressing the following five areas:

1. Work Environment: Put forth the effort to create a positive workplace environment. Be human in your own interactions with your team, and encourage a collaborative rather than a competitive spirit between employees. Do your best to foster an environment that makes your employees look forward to coming to work in the morning. If you succeed, you’ll be rewarded with a team that willingly does its best for your business.

2. Communication: Encourage communication between employees and management and
welcome employee input. Implement an open-door policy at set times to allow employees to discuss concerns or offer feedback or suggestions. Always encourage the open sharing of ideas, which will help employees feel valued and might just provide the impetus needed to spark innovation. One management method that can help you improve communication with your employees while keeping your finger on the pulse of the day-to-day operation of your business is a technique called Management by Wandering Around, or MBWA. Don’t confuse MBWA with micromanagement, because the two are not the same. When done right, MBWA exerts a positive workplace influence, whereas micromanagement is considered by most experts to be a negative management style that might be described as “over-managing.”

3. Information Sharing: Let your employees know what the company stands for, what its
strengths are, and the challenges it faces. Your candid sharing of this key “inside” information will give employees a reason to care about their jobs and about “their” company’s success. Knowing that you trust them with such vital company information will make them much more willing to take ownership of their own role in making that success a reality.

4. Respect: Always treat employees with dignity and respect, just as you yourself would like to be treated. You may be the boss, but don’t make that a license to mistreat your subordinates. If you do, you will undermine your own authority and diminish your stature in your employees’ eyes. You will also make it far more difficult for your employees to do or love their jobs. So, cultivate an atmosphere of mutual respect, and your business will ultimately benefit.

5. Failure-Tolerance: Be a failure-tolerant leader. Recognize that failure is often simply one
bump in the road to eventual success. Give employees the latitude they need to take calculated risks without fear of reproach if their efforts should fail. This is how innovators are born. When failure occurs, refrain from personal criticism, examine what went wrong, and help the employee learn from the mistake.

Develop Skills
Providing the critical skills that help your employees fulfill their current and future responsibilities is not optional. Give your team the tools they need to succeed by using the next five tips to develop their skill sets:

6. Cross-Training: To keep your company running smoothly under a variety of circumstances, train your employees to do more than one job. Employee cross-training can be particularly effective for smaller businesses, though even larger companies can benefit from the flexibility this forward-looking employee development method provides.

7. Mentoring: Mentoring offers many opportunities for employees and companies. As a boss, you can mentor an especially promising employee yourself or pair an employee who is in need of development or who is ready to take his or her skills to the next level with a more experienced member of the team in a peer mentorship arrangement. A variety of mentoring types exist to help you more closely match your company’s needs.

8. Teambuilding: Provide the training needed to teach your employees how to operate
effectively as a team. The time and effort you invest here will offer multiple advantages that will continue to increase as your team grows into its collective role. Teambuilding is as important to a smaller company’s overall workforce as it is to larger businesses with multiple teams or departments.

9. Formal Training: Consider which of the various types of formal training programs might be most appropriate for developing the specific skills your employees need to succeed, whether offered in-house, off-site, or online.

10. Skill-building: Develop your employees’ areas of greatest strength to bring real value to
your company while providing opportunities for advancement for your team members.
Recognize the natural talents your employees bring to their jobs and help them grow in these areas through training.

Encourage Performance
Motivating your employees toward better performance will benefit you as much as it does them. Focus on following the next five tips for giving your team the right incentives, and watch their performance improve:

11. Line-of-Sight to the Customer: Show your employees how their individual jobs fit into
the bigger picture of serving the customer and contributing to a valuable outcome. This
simple step can revolutionize your team’s entire outlook and boost its performance

12. Empowerment: For effective employee performance, be sure to provide the
guidance, resources, and authority your employees need to do their jobs. Don’t make
the mistake of assigning responsibilities to your employees and then tying their hands.
Let them make the decisions they need to make to serve your company to the best of
their ability. Some modern companies are moving beyond traditional empowerment
by empowering their employees online as well as off.

13. Accountability: Take the time to review employee performance and discuss
outcomes to be sure your team is using its skills and authority well. Holding employees
accountable for completing their assigned tasks and projects and meeting specific goals
inspires better performance while eliminating the need for micromanagement.
14. Recognition/Rewards: Recognizing employees’ efforts and rewarding their
successes can be a real motivator toward excellence. So, let your employees know you
appreciate their work with a thank you or a perk.

15. Work-Life Balance: Encouraging work-life balance in your employees can actually
improve their ability and desire to perform better at work. Many modern companies are
engaging in innovative work arrangements that help their employees juggle the
competing demands of life and work while providing crucial time to rest and recharge.
Investing in your employees may cost you something on the front end, but it will pay handsome dividends down the line by giving you a happy, capable, and productive team that will keep your customers happy, as well.

Why an Employee Handbook Is Integral To Your Business

employee handbook

An employee handbook offers a number of advantages for your small business. In addition to protecting your company from liability, a well-written handbook can help clarify expectations, outline policies and procedures, and motivate employees to follow the rules. While preparing your handbook may seem like a complex undertaking, getting everything down on paper can actually help simplify your day-to-day business operations.

A well-written employee handbook can do several things for your business:

Protect Your Company from Lawsuits
Spelling out requirements for employees will not only make things run more smoothly in the workplace, but it will also provide the ammunition you need to defend yourself in the event of employee lawsuits or unwarranted unemployment claims. Your handbook is the place to outline your expectations for employee behavior and performance, so that in the event that employees fail to comply, you’ll have evidence to support any decision to discipline or terminate.

Keep Employees Informed about Key Matters
Your employee handbook can help ensure that your employees understand your policies and practices regarding pay, raises, overtime, work hours, promotions, and other key factors that affect their employment. Be sure your handbook also explains any specific procedures your employees will need to follow with regard to any of these matters.

Ensure Consistent Application of Company Policies
While your employee handbook cannot realistically provide for every possible contingency, it can serve as a reliable guideline for day-to-day decision-making that can help you apply your company’s policies more fairly and consistently.

Keep Your Company In Compliance with the Law
An employee handbook is one way to make sure the information that’s required by law to be made available to your employees is readily accessible to them at all times. It can also serve as a reminder to you of those areas where you need to remain in compliance.

Clarify the Employee Benefits Your Company Provides
You can use your handbook to spell out the benefits you provide for your employees, from
workers compensation to health insurance and from paid vacation and sick leave to your 401K retirement plan. Any benefits you offer can be categorized, listed, and described in your handbook based on whether you cover the cost fully, partially, or offer the benefit at a
discounted rate.

Don’t put your Employee Handbook on the back burner. It’s one of the single best forms of
protection your company has! Contact us to find out how our partnership with BizAssure can get you a top-notch compliant Employee Handbook for a significant discount, and how they can keep it compliant every year thereafter completely free of charge.

Contact us anytime here.



Trump Signs Executive Order on the ACA

On Jan. 20, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an executive order addressing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as his first act as president. The order states that it is intended to “to minimize the unwarranted economic and regulatory burdens” of the ACA until the law can be repealed and eventually replaced.

The executive order broadly directs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and other federal agencies to waive, delay or grant exemptions from ACA requirements that may impose a financial burden.

An executive order is a broad policy directive that is used to establish how laws will be enforced by the administration. It does not include specific guidance regarding any particular ACA requirement or provision, and does not change any existing regulations.

As a result, the executive order’s specific impact will remain largely unclear until the new administration is fully in place and can begin implementing these changes.

The executive order gives federal agencies broad authority to eliminate or fail to enforce any number of ACA requirements, as permitted by law.President Trump’s executive order begins by emphasizing his administration’s long-stated goal of repealing the ACA. Pending these repeal efforts—which are already underway in Congress—the executive order is intended to:

• Minimize the ACA’s unwarranted economic and regulatory burdens; and
• Prepare to afford states more flexibility and control to create a free and open health care market.

Specifically, the executive order directs HHS and other federal agencies responsible for administering the ACA to “exercise all authority and discretion available to them to:

• Waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay implementation of any ACA provision or requirement that would impose a fiscal burden on any state or a cost, fee, tax, penalty or regulatory burden on individuals, families, health care providers, health insurers, patients, recipients of health care services, purchasers of health insurance, or makers of medical devices, products or medications;

• Provide greater flexibility to states and cooperate with them in implementing health care programs; and…

• Encourage the development of a free and open market in interstate commerce for the offering of health care services and health insurance, with the goal of achieving and preserving maximum options for patients and consumers.”
The executive order specifically states that it does not, itself, make changes to any existing regulations. To the extent that the executive order’s directives would require revision of regulations, that will be done by federal agencies through the normal regulatory process.

Impact on ACA Provisions
The executive order is very broad, and does not include any detailed guidance as to how it should be carried out. Instead, it gives federal agencies broad authority to eliminate or fail to enforce any number of ACA requirements, as permitted by law. As a result, until the new heads of federal agencies are in place, it is difficult to know how the ACA will be specifically impacted.

There is some indication that the executive order is partially aimed at eliminating or providing exemptions from the ACA’s individual and employer mandates, since those requirements impose tax penalties that may impose a “fiscal burden” on individuals and employers. In addition, it is clear that the executive order is intended to help accomplish an idea that has been long supported by President Trump, which is to allow health insurers to sell policies across state lines in an effort to increase free market competition.

However, the immediate impact of the executive order will likely be small, since it will take time to implement policies, regulations and other subregulatory guidance to carry out the directives. In addition, health insurance policies for 2017 are already in place, and state law, in many cases, prohibits significant changes from being made midyear.
No ACA provisions or requirements have been eliminated or delayed at this time as a result of President Trump’s actions. Therefore, employers should continue to prepare for upcoming requirements and deadlines to ensure full compliance.


Recruiting and Retaining Millennial Workers

There’s no doubt that hiring the millennial generation can bring hardworking, enthusiastic employees who are eager for new opportunities, but recruiting and retaining these workers is different than it was for prior generations.

As baby boomers continue to retire, many vacancies in your work force will be filled by the next generation: millennial workers. Current estimates forecast that millennial workers will comprise 50 percent of the labor force by 2020 and 75 percent by 2025.

There is no doubt that recruiting the millennial generation can bring hardworking, enthusiastic employees who are eager for new opportunities to your company, but recruiting and retaining these workers is different than it was for prior generations. You can make the most of millennial workers by taking a new approach to recruiting and retention.

What do millennials want?

According the Gallup Study, “The State of the American Workplace,” millennials are the most disengaged of all working generations and the most likely to say they will leave their jobs in the next 12 months if the job market improves. However, while nearly half of actively disengaged millennials want to find new jobs, only 17 percent of engaged ones do.
So, how does an employer engage its millennial workers? Millennials who are engaged usually have a strong sense of what their organization stands for. Find ways to help these employees verbalize and internalize what the company’s mission and purpose means to them.

Additionally, in the study, “Maximizing Millennials in the Workplace,” conducted by the University of North Carolina Kennan-Flagler Business School, offers four suggestions.

The study found that millennials want their employers to have four critical traits, including:

1. Coaching. Millennials were raised with constant coaching and feedback and expect it to continue in the workplace.

2. Collaboration. Employers should be clear about the big picture so employees understand their roles.

3. Measures. Millennials were raised with a lot of structure and evaluation rubrics and are accustomed to understanding how they will be judged and assessed. They expect these metrics to continue in the workplace, so employers should define clear and consistent job assessment criteria.

4. Motivation. Millennials want a work environment that is comfortable and inspires them to contribute without fear of being criticized.

Recruiting and Retaining Millennial Workers
Recruiting and retaining employees from this generation can be different than traditional techniques previously used by many organizations. Here are some ideas for recruitment and retention.

• Have existing millennial employees assist in your recruiting efforts.
• These individuals can go to job fairs and discuss the day-to-day details of their jobs while also touching on some topics that may interest other millennial workers, such as company philanthropy efforts or flexible scheduling.
• A company executive should also attend any recruiting sessions to support younger employees and answer questions.
• Avoid PowerPoint presentations when possible, and instead impress them with videos and other new technology.
• Since many younger workers watch YouTube and log on to social networking sites regularly, try reaching them using these platforms. However, a presentation done with animation software can interest them as much as a well-designed website.
• Flash presentations are also instantly customizable, so you can gear your presentation to your audience.
• Recruit employees online using LinkedIn, job boards, career building sites and industry-specific forums. Many millennial workers look to these sites before thinking of applying to companies in a more traditional way.
• Allow potential employees to apply virtually through your company website or through a career site. Avoid using paper applications that are tedious and take a lot of time to fill out.
• Connect your employees with the issues that are important to them.
• Millennial workers want to find substance in their lives, which includes their careers. To motivate them, offer on-staff career coaching so employees can move around within the company and hold different positions. This will produce loyal employees who want to stick with your company for the long haul.

Whatever the look and feel of your organization, recruiting and retaining the future of your workforce is essential. For more assistance and information on how to do so, contact ERM Insurance Brokers today.

Ten Safe Hiring Tools

When recruiters, hiring managers or human resources professionals need to fill a position, its not enough to simply look for the proper skills set, experience or a good fit. Employers must also determine if there are reasons not to hire the candidate. It is estimated that 10% of job applicants have criminal convictions, and up to one-third of resumes contain serious falsehoods or omissions. Without taking some measure to ensure safe hiring, it is a statistical certainty that a firm will make costly hiring mistakes.

Fortunately for employers, there are ten evaluation tools that can be used immediately at no cost. These techniques protect a firm, yet do not discourage good applicants, who also are anxious to work with qualified co-workers in a safe and profitable environment. Here are the tools:

1. Have each job applicant sign a consent form for a background check, including a
check for criminal records, past employment and education. Announcing that your firm
checks backgrounds may discourage applicants with something to hide, and encourage
applicants to be truthful and honest about mistakes they have made in the past.

2. Employment applications should ask about criminal records in the broadest possible
terms allowed by law, and should not be limited to felonies.

3. Towards the end of an interview, advise applicants that the firm will perform a criminal
background and reference check as a standard business practice, and ask whether the
applicant has any concerns to share. Good applicants will shrug off the question, while
applicants with a problem may either reveal something or withdraw.

4. Applicants should also be asked during an interview what they think a former
employer will say about them. For example, “If we were to contact past employers, how
would they describe your job performance?” Since the applicant has signed a release
and has been told such checks may occur, they may be more motivated to reveal
information about past jobs.

5. Applications must clearly state that any false or misleading statements or material
omissions are grounds to terminate the hiring process or employment, regardless of
when discovered. This is particularly important if a criminal record is found.
Under current law, a criminal record may not be used to automatically disqualify an applicant unless there is a sound business reason. However, if an applicant has lied about a criminal matter, the falsehood can be the basis for an adverse decision.

6. If employment begins before a background check is completed, state in writing that
employment is conditioned upon a background report that is satisfactory to the

7. Verifying past employment is probably the single most important tool for an employer.
Generally speaking, past job performance can be an important predictor of future
success. Some employers make a costly mistake by not checking past employment
because past employers may not give detailed information. However, even verification of
dates of employment and job title is critical because an employer must be concerned
about unexplained gaps in the employment history. Although there can be many
reasons for a gap in employment, if an applicant cannot account for the past seven to
ten years, that can be a red flag. It is also important to know where a person has been
because of the way criminal records are maintained in the United States. Contrary to
popular belief, there is not a national criminal database available to most employers.
Searches must be conducted at each relevant courthouse, and there are over 10,000
courthouses in America. However, if an employer knows where an applicant has been, it
increases the accuracy of a criminal search, and decreases the possibility that an
applicant has served time for a serious offense. Finally, documenting an attempt to
obtain references can demonstrate due diligence.

8. Obtain a listing of all past addresses for seven to ten years. This is also needed for a
criminal search.

9. Include future screenings in the consent language. This becomes important if a future
investigation is required for some form of workplace misconduct.

10. Check for criminal records. Since criminal records are public information, employers
can check at the local courthouse. An employer may consider convictions or cases
currently pending, but not arrests. Also, certain cases may not be legally used for
employment decisions. There are services that can obtain such information from
courthouses all over the United States, as well as provide other assistance.

These ten tools cost nothing, can be implemented by employers almost immediately, and go a long ways towards avoiding workplace problems.




Eliminating the Pain of Disaster Planning

“Plans are useless, but planning is everything” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

Business continuity is a highly specialized area of an enterprise’s overall strategy, reflecting
unique priorities, risks and hazards that will vary drastically from one organization to the next.

Many executives feel they need to consider a wide range of factors and every conceivable type of event when mapping out their BC strategies and the impact that various types of events may have on their organizations and how they plan to overcome each and every type of situation.

Ultimately, many businesses state that they struggle to envision the big-picture perspective
necessary to build a comprehensive BC plan, and get stuck in repetitive “what-if” conversations that lead to a lack of action and false starts. These decision-makers often feel they need to predict how they will navigate every type of crisis to provide employees with fully operational work environments for any given situation.

The planning process can be made simpler. Rather than planning for every type of event, plan for the impact and duration of the event, i.e. are my staff safe? Is my building no longer accessible? Is my technology no longer accessible? For how long? Planning for the impact and duration of any type of event prevents many of the “what-if” conversations that lead to never ending meetings about hypothetical events that ultimately prevent businesses from building a plan, leaving them in a state of analysis paralysis. Take the lead from what other large, small and midsize organizations have done to overcome these challenges and master business continuity with simple solutions.

For big businesses, an interruption can quickly turn into a public relations fiasco unless decision makers are prepared to guide their workforce back into productivity mode in a swift and efficient manner. With thousands of employees and physical assets to account for, this is much easier said than done, especially when stakeholders are knocking at the door demanding results. This is why many large enterprises build dedicated workgroup recovery facilities, built specifically for their requirements. Private, secure facilities, available at a moment’s notice, ensure you have access to office space and all other resources you need to continue business operations.

While most organizations don’t have the resources to leverage an alternative workspace of
their own, no company should go without a continuity solution that offers a place to keep
productivity levels high. Since small and midsize businesses serve a loyal following of
customers, it’s even more important that these organizations remain resilient through an
interruption causing event. Research from the Small Business Administration found that 25
percent of SMBs don’t reopen following a disaster, clearly demonstrating that effective
business continuity is a make-or-break factor. Companies that utilize shared workspace
solutions and technology recovery solutions are prepared for the worst, having immediate
access to their mission critical data, phones, desktops, internet connectivity and other key
business devices.

Business Continuity calls for quick thinking and agile solutions. Flexibility is the game changer in any alternate workspace plan. Having access to mission critical assets dispersed throughout the country, such as power generators, mobile internet connectivity and office space, provides the agility required to keep your operations and productivity up, no matter what. Working with a team that has been there and done that is perhaps the most important resource a business has when developing their strategy. Having access to countless resources who have seen it all and have perspective from outside of ground zero, allows them to quickly evaluate a situation, and based on their extensive experience, present clear and concise solutions for every situation.

Have questions? Contact us anytime.

7 Strategies Businesses Can Use To Reduce Employee Turnover

Employee turnover can be costly for any company, but small businesses in particular can feel the crunch when they lose employees after investing their limited advertising, recruitment, hiring, and training funds. It’s a discouraging scenario that often leaves business owners wondering where they went wrong. While it’s important to realize that sometimes an employee’s reason for leaving simply isn’t something an employer can control, there are a few steps that employers can take to create a more employee-friendly workplace.

Exactly what can today’s small business owners do to make it more likely that the workers they hire will actually stick around a while? The following seven strategies might just help.

Hire the right people.
While this point may seem self-evident — and is certainly easier said than done — to avoid
problems down the line it’s crucial to get this part of the hiring equation right. One expert
suggests the following method for hiring the right people: “Interview candidates carefully, not just to ensure they have the right skills but also that they fit well with the company culture, managers and co-workers.”

Another HR expert offers seven tips for hiring the perfect person every time, one of which
includes taking your time with the interview process. Putting a lot more time, thought, energy, and effort into the hiring of your employees is one practical way to avoid having to repeat that process over and over again.

Offer attractive compensation and benefits.

Offer the most attractive — and competitive — compensation and benefits package you can. And never underestimate the power providing regular raises to high-performing employees offers for building incentive for these workers to stay with your company long-term.

Give employees a reason to come to work every day.

Be sure your employees understand the importance of their contribution to the company’s
success and that they know you value that contribution. Give them something to look forward to when they come to work each day. The opportunity to earn a living isn’t enough.

They may need to work for a living, but they don’t need to work for you. So, make them want to. Show them the value of working for your company. Help them care about their jobs.

Create a positive work environment.
Providing a friendly, upbeat workplace where employees are treated with dignity is extremely valuable to your workers — and ultimately, to you. Many employees have worked in the past at dead-end jobs where they’ve felt trapped, unappreciated, and unfulfilled. If you can create an atmosphere that’s different — and better — your employees will see your company as a more desirable place to work and will be much more likely to want to stay.

Inspire loyalty by making employees feel heard and valued.
Loyalty can never be commanded; it can only be inspired. Here’s what one CEO has to say about it: “Real loyalty is a response—a manifestation of trust, respect and appreciation. It can’t be conjured out of thin air like a genie by commanding it to appear.” Too many bosses make this mistake. They believe that loyalty can be legislated. In reality, only compliance can be legislated. The difference? Compliance is limited to outward actions, whereas loyalty comes from within. Make no mistake. It’s loyalty — not compliance — that will motivate an employee to help build your company’s success.

Recognize employee accomplishments.
Whether formally and publicly expressed or personally and privately shared, recognition for a job-well-done — or even for a powerful effort — can boost employee satisfaction exponentially. There are many ways an employer can recognize workplace achievement. Whichever method(s) you choose, be sure your employees know how much you appreciate their day-today contributions to your company as well as the special efforts they put forth to help your business thrive.

Provide opportunities for advancement.
Depending on the size of your company, you may be able to accomplish this by either
developing a formal plan for employee career paths or by simply providing training and
development opportunities that help employees increase skills, making them more valuable to the organization and ultimately leading to a promotion and raise. Employees who are offered advancement opportunities in their own companies will often decide not to seek such opportunities elsewhere. We’ve partnered with BizAssure to help your small business retain employees by providing the training your managers and employees need to handle greater responsibility and increase their opportunities for advancement.

For more information on how you can take advantage of this type of training, contact us anytime.


The Importance Of A Well Rounded Employee Handbook

So, you need an Employee Handbook, or maybe you have one that hasn’t been updated in a few years. You purchased or revised it back in 2008; you made sure it protected your business; you and your employees have strived so hard to maintain; the lifeblood of your business’s future. You passed them out to new hires and made sure that they understood it thoroughly.

A new year arrives and the economy has become sick of its own bad habits and
laws have been passed in an attempt to mitigate that. And though it has always been important to update your Employee Handbook, laws are changing rapidly and leaving employers with a muddled mess to make sense of. It’s extremely important to make sure that your handbook is updated and specifically covers the unique needs of your business while being compliant to new laws.

It’s easy to find a cheap generic template on the internet for $30 bucks. The problem is that, this $30 bucks could eventually cost your company thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and fines. According to a group of prominent lawyers, “In any employment case filed in federal court, there is a 16% chance the award will exceed $1 million dollars and a 67% chance that the award will exceed $100,000 dollars; attorney fees are not included.” It’s important to get a handbook that protect and continues to protect your business.

Every month we receive dozens of inquiries from businesses that need a new or revised
employee handbook. When we do so, they not only get something that will protect them now, but because of our evergreen program (be sure to ask us about this!), they never have to worry about spending money on a handbook again. The evergreen program ensures they get the annual labor law information they need to update their handbook every year, free of charge.

This can be a life saving service for small and large businesses alike. According to the same group of lawyers, “Employee lawsuits have risen 400% in the past 20 years…” The best protection is an ironclad updated employee handbook. Contact us for more information on the importance of a quality employee handbook and on how you can get one today!

What Is A Wrap Doc & Why Do I Need One?


What Is a “Wrap” Document?

A “Wrap” document is required information on by ERISA that employers must provide to their employees if they give them an “Employee Welfare Benefit Plan”. A “Wrap” document must be included, or “wrapped”, with policies or third party contracts or an employer could suffer debilitating penalties and fines.

What is an “Employee Welfare Benefit Plan”?

An “Employee Welfare Benefit Plan” is any type of benefit that can be considered part of a health pan. For example, the following would be considered an “Employee Welfare Benefit Plan”:
• Medical, dental, and vision insurance plans;
• Health flexible spending accounts (also known as health care
reimbursement accounts);
• Prescription drug plans;
• Accidental death and dismemberment (“AD&D”) insurance plans;
• Long-term and short-term disability plans; and
• Group term life insurance plans.

How Much Do Wrap Docs Cost?

If you were to purchase a “wrap” document on their own, it would cost you anywhere from $400-$750. The cost of not having one is penalties, ranging in the thousands every day they aren’t compliant. The good news is, we can help you avoid these fines and costs, which we’ll cover in a bit.

Why Have I Not Heard About This?

ERISA has had many of these requirements in place for some me, however, past penal es for non-compliance were minimal if not non- existent. The ACA changed this, making the ERISA requirements much stricter. Non-compliance can mean huge penalties and fines to businesses. There are many different reasons why the policyholder might get audited, so the threat of fines and penalties is very real.

How Can I Get My Wrap Doc For Free?

We have partnered with BizAssure, together we have created an easy solution for our clients that are BizAssure members to obtain “wrap” documents completely free-of-charge. This is an amazing deal for our clients that are BizAssure members.

If you would like more information on this amazing benefit, please contact us here.

ERISA Compliance – Health & Welfare Benefit Plans


ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) is a federal law that governs both Qualified Retirement Plans (Pension, Profit Sharing, and 401(k) Plans) and Welfare Benefit Plans (e.g., group life, health, dental, and disability insurance plans and other fringe benefit plans). ERISA is enforced primarily by the Department of Labor (DOL). This article deals with the basic compliance requirements for Welfare Benefit Plans only.

Almost every employer and employee benefit plan is subject to ERISA including benefits
that are not provided through insurance, such as Health Care Flexible Spending Accounts and Severance Pay Plans. Even voluntary insurance programs may be considered ERISA Plans, depending on the extent of an employer’s involvement in the plan. There are very few exceptions to ERISA.

An Insurance Certificate is Not an SPD

An employer must have a written Plan Document and Summary Plan Description (SPD) for
each separate Welfare Benefit Plan. These documents must contain very specific information. However, insurance company Certificate Booklets (sometimes called Certificates of Insurance, Certificates of Coverage, or just “Certs”) provided by an insurance carrier to an employer’s employees do not contain all of the required ERISA language. To be in compliance, an employer must add an “ERISA wrapper,” to its Certificate of Coverage. Together, the wrapper and the Certificate of Insurance constitute an SPD.

Reporting and Disclosure

ERISA requires employers to disclose certain information to its Participants in an SPD and to disclose changes to the SPD in a Summary of Material Modification (SMM). It even prescribes when and how these documents must be delivered. ERISA further requires employers with 100 or more Participants to report certain information to the DOL annually on Form 5500 and to deliver a summary of its Form 5500 to Participants in a Summary Annual Report (SAR). Even employers with less than 100 Participants may be required to file a Form 5500 if they do not have an SPD containing specific provisions.

Being in compliance is not optional—it’s the law!
It is mission critical for an employer to be in compliance before trouble arises. By then it is
usually too late. Employers can face DOL penalties of up to $1,100/day for each Form 5500 that it files late. The penalty for late delivery of an SPD, SMM, and SAR to a Participant is $110/day. These penalties apply to each Plan, they are cumulative, and they are not subject to a statute of limitations. For example, an employer that has four separate Plans (life, medical, dental, and disability), which files its Form 5500s just thirty days late, can be fined up to $132,000!

Additionally, not being in compliance with ERISA can expose an employer to unnecessary, time consuming, and expensive employee lawsuits.

For more information, please contact us anytime.

Written by By Chris Bellinger

Employee Drug Testing: What You Need To Know


Mike is a good guy. Everyone enjoys his company; why wouldn’t they? He’s funny, smart, and he makes a good batch of coffee in the morning. He gets his work done quickly and it is always up to office standards. The problem is that you only get to see Mike towards the end of the week. The beginning of the week Mike spends his time recovering from weekend binges.
Unfortunately, it is likely that we all work with at least one person like Mike.

Just because people like Mike practice their drug of choice outside of the workplace, doesn’t mean that the negative repercussions are isolated to their personal life. Believe it or not, even something as simple as a bad hangover can affect work productivity. It increases the likely hood of absences, diminishes cognitive abilities, and affects the productivity of other employees.

Unfortunately, hangovers are only one of the problems associated with drug use outside of the work environment. There is an almost endless list of drugs, prescription and illegal, that are abused by Americans every day. Over 70% of those people hold steady jobs. How many of them are doing these drugs before or even during work? In what way does this affect a business?

To put it simply, the chance of a work related accident is increased, the productivity of your employees as a whole drops significantly, your insurance can be raised, and your profits will likely drop as a result. It is a known fact that many drugs can slow an individual’s reaction time significantly. When a person is in this state, they can be very dangerous. It is especially frightening in jobs such as construction, where one wrong move can cause significant damage to the work site, or worse. An employee that uses drugs in or outside of the workplace is 3.6 times more likely to have an accident on the job, and if an accident does occur they are 5 times more likely to be injured or injure someone else. Drug users are responsible for 40% of all industrial fatalities. For an employer, and employees alike, those are some very unsettling statistics. This not only can harm human lives, but it can cost a company quite a bit of money.

When accidents occur, an employer has to worry about rising insurance costs, workers
compensation, and the possibility of court claims. Making sure that employees outside habits don’t have an affect on the workplace can save a business thousands of dollars.

The direct effects of drug use can be quite devastating, but the less obvious secondhand effects are also something to consider. Just one employee can push the entire staff’s productivity out of balance. If one employee is lacking in their focus due to the effects of drugs, they are likely to make mistakes that other employees may have to cover for. When work doesn’t get done, even if it is just something seemingly small, it can have serious negative repercussions, causing more work in the immediate future, and therefore a loss of profit. A study showed that 14 hours after reaching a blood alcohol content of 0.10 to 0.12, pilots displayed signs of impairment. This is a good indication of how a heavy drinker, even hours after consuming alcohol, could be less than competent while working.

As an employer, what are your options? How can you ensure that the people you hire are safe and productive while at work? It is unfortunate that we must sometimes worry about what people do in their free time, but as business owners, one of our main focuses is the safety of our business and employees. If outside influence affects those two important things, then we must take notice. But simply acknowledging the problem is only the first step in the process.

Where do we go next, or more importantly, how can we take steps to nullify these problems even before they get started? A written policy is always a good way of conveying the consequences of drug & alcohol use. When employees know what the repercussions are ahead of time, they are more likely to never let it become a problem in the first place. A good deterrent to using drugs in and/or out of the office is the threat of job loss. Most people understand the importance of keeping their job and will join necessary programs to ensure that they do not lose it.

The best way to have a drug free workplace is to never hire drug users. There was an
interesting study done on the applicants of the Postal Service between the years of 1987 and 1989. They found that employees that were hired that used drugs were 66% more likely to be absent and 77% more likely to eventually be fired due to bad performance than employees who did not test positive for drug use. It was estimated that in the two years studied, the Postal Service spent an extra $52 million because they hired drug users. This is an important study to consider when going through the hiring process.

Pre-employment drug testing has now become a powerful tool when considering potential
employees. Over the years it has been shown to save businesses, big and small, a
considerable amount of money and has also kept the employees safe. It is important to know who you are hiring, and that they will consistently provide the results that you expect.

Would you like more information about this, contact us anytime to see how ERM Insurance Brokers can help you.

Set Goals For Success!


What do you want to achieve in your business today? How about this week, this year, or over the next 10 years? If you don’t have any goals set, you’ll never achieve them (pretty obvious, right?). Studies have shown that the majority of successful businesses use the technique of goal setting to gain success in their industry. So let’s go over the science behind goal setting and three ways you can use the strategy in your business.

The Science Behind Goal Setting

There are two key events that happen in our brain when we set goals. The first is how our mind interprets the goals that we set. According to psychologists, neurologists, and others in the field, our brain cannot distinguish between what we want and what we have. So in other words, when we make a goal, we envision the process and the end result in our mind. Our brain looks at this as if we already achieved the goal at some point but have lost it. This means that the brain will want something back that it owns. So, our thoughts and actions will change based on that goal being present in the mind.

The second key event is based on a reward system. Chemicals that make us feel good are released when we do something beneficial to our health or survival, such as eating food, exercising, or sexual contact. When you make more money, and therefore cement your quality of life and health, you make an action that is vital to you and your family’s survival. Just like eating or exercising, this event rewards your brain with dopamine, a vital chemical in the brain associated with happiness. After achieving a goal and subsequently becoming happier because of it, you become addicted and want that feeling more and more. And if you set more goals, and achieve them, not only will you make more money, but you’ll also become happier for it. Addiction isn’t always a bad thing, right?

Top 3 Tricks to Goal Setting

1. Create Some Short, Mid and Long Term Goals

Short-term goals are easily accomplished and have a deadline within a 1-15 day window. These goals could involve daily tasks that work towards the bigger goals you have. For example, if you want to gain 100 new clients/accounts in the year, a good short term goal may be to get 2-3 each day. Your long term goals need to be well thought out so you can manage your short term goals. The also helps to you from becoming overwhelmed and allows you to chip away at your goals.

2. Revise Your Goals for Each Year

They say that no change is more constant than change itself. With this in mind, it’s always a good idea to constantly review goals. A goal you set 6 months ago may need to be tweaked based on recent changes or advancements. Every few months, or when need be; it’s a good idea to sit down and review your big picture goals. Post these goals somewhere so you can see them every day. This will not only help to keep you motivated, but also keep them at the forefront of your mind so you will always know when they must be edited. Plus it’s a good thing for others in your business to seeing the goals and their deadlines for them. This helps to keep everyone accountable and on track. Paint them on the wall if you must!

3. Don’t Over Reach

The problem with setting goals is that we sometimes tend to think too big. These difficult goals sit in our mind, causing stress, anxiety, and discomfort until the goal has been accomplished. This is an important factor in achieving the goals we set, but an unattainable goal will cause these adverse effects without the positive payoff. Too much stress and anxiety will cause un-happy employees/bosses which will further affect the company’s productivity. It’s important that the goals you set are grounded in reality. Start with something you know you can easily achieve, and then find ways to make the process more efficient. If you find that you can add enough efficiency to a goal, then chances are you can dream a little bit bigger and achieve a more challenging goal with a bigger payoff. So make sure you dream big, but don’t forget to keep the short and midterm goals realistic and achievable.

If you start putting some strategy into your goal creating process, you will start achieving the goals you create. This is the best way to make some money and solidify a comfortable and happy life. So peer into the future and ask yourself what you realistically want to see. Your success depends on you, so get out there and get addicted to your accomplishments.

Happy Employees = More Profits


Generating profit is essential for any business to be successful and rise to the top of a competing industry. So when companies brainstorm about how to increase profits; employees and their workforce are not usually on the top of the list of how to do so. Sales, marketing and overall cost reduction usually ends up being the main focus. But when you consider that the Los Angeles Department of Power and Water was losing one million dollars a year because employees were taking time off to tend to their children, or that in 2008 labor costs accounted for 38.99% of total revenue for sole proprietors, it starts to become clear that employees are significantly more important to revenue than some initially believe.

Employees are the face of a company, they are who the customer interacts with on a day to day basis, and therefore the overall perception of a business, large or small, can come down to just one employee. So taking the time and resources to insure that the entire workforce is happy, motivated and loyal can change the way your business is perceived, and subsequently if it makes more money and grows.

Sears conducted a survey ( of more than 800 of their stores and found that when their employee’s positive attitude was raised by only 5%, customer satisfaction jumped 1.3% and revenue increased by 0.5%. This could be achieved by simply changing the work title of the general workforce. For example, Wainwright Industries started classifying their employees as associates instead of workers. This very small change led to more favorable improvements, such as throwing the time clocks away and switching everyone to salary. Needless to say, this further added to the overall happiness of Wainwright employees. They made the workforce feel more involved with the company by encouraging an idea submission campaign, where any employee at any level could help to make improvements to the business at a cost of up to $1,000. If the improvement was more, a form was filled out for approval on the improvement. Wainwright has implemented ( over 8,000 ideas since 1994. Not only did this make the employees feel like they were contributing in a very real way, but these improvements helped the business fill gaps and helped to make things run more smoothly. Another example of employee involvement is from a glass plant Indiana; they started listening to their workforce about the rough work schedule and implemented the changes suggested.

How did these changes benefit this gas plant company? After making the changes to the employee’s work schedule, turnover fell by 50%. As for Wainwright, after a very successful idea campaign, changes in employee titles and a profit sharing program for all employees, profits grew from $5 million to over $30 million. A successful business doesn’t simply run off of a good product, and keen business strategies; a good business first and foremost needs a competent workforce. A happy workforce can make a successful business reach a new level of operation not only in the bottom line, but in the overall sustainability of the business model. Spending time and money on employees is not money out of pocket, but an investment into the future of your business and its profits.


What Is A Business Disaster Recovery Plan?

fireman-firefighter-rubble-9-11-70573-largeThe fire alarm is screaming, or the tornado horn is sounding, maybe there is water rushing under the door. This is not the time to start thinking about getting a disaster recovery plan. Every year thousands of businesses nationwide, big and small, are crippled by unforeseen disasters. It’s been estimated that Hurricane Sandy will cost business somewhere around $10 to $20 billion in losses. With the right disaster recovery plan, a business can drastically cut down the overall damage cost and save their business.

What is a disaster recovery plan?

A business disaster recovery plan is something most companies need but don’t have. It’s a plan that details what needs to be done to protect vital business operating equipment, property, and data. This plan will insure that after the smoke clears or the water evaporates, your business can return to its day to day activities as quickly as possible.

Let’s run through a real life scenario here, CBC (a small bicycle shop in upper New York) was hit by hurricane Sandy. Their makeshift plan in case of an emergency was to back up all of their important files on a computer in the back of the store. They only planned as far as a computer crashing, and didn’t think about other more dire possibilities. So when the storm hit, they ended up with about 6 inches of water flooding in their shop. This may not have been a problem, except for the fact that all three of their computers resided on the floor, including their backup. They had never planned for a flood, and probably never even thought it possible. All of their contacts, financial records, sales history, website coding files, and inventory list were destroyed in the storm.

After cleaning up the water damage, and getting reimbursed for new computers by their insurance companies, CBC needed to send out an email letting their customers know that they were up and running again. Unfortunately, this wasn’t possible. Though the insurance company was able to provide them with new computers, they couldn’t provide them with their lost data. Not only did CBC loose the revenue from the days of the storm, but now they have to wait for customers to return on their own, without being able to call out to them. Basically, CBC will have to start virtually from scratch, and in a bad economy to boot. Only time will tell if this lapse in revenue will be too much for the small bike shop in upper New York.

CBC learned a valuable lesson the hard way. Protecting your business by creating a disaster recovery plan is one of the most important things a business can do. It’s important to let an expert go through all the possible disaster scenarios that could be a risk to your business, and then set up an appropriate plan for you. What would happen if you lost your computers, phone lines, essential business equipment, and other business necessities? Don’t get left out in the cold, make sure your business is under the umbrella of a disaster recovery plan. Your business is your livelihood; protect it! If you would like more information on how we can help you and your business with a disaster recover plan, contact us anytime.



Building Trust and Confidence in Senior Leadership

Confident businessman sitting on a desk with his coworkers in the background

Attracting and retaining top talent continues to be a struggle for many employers. One area that many employers fail to hit the mark on is instilling a sense of trust and confidence in senior leadership amongst its employees.

According to a study from Willis Towers Watson, trust and confidence in senior leadership is one of the top drivers of employee retention. However, only 50 percent of surveyed employees believe the information they receive from senior leadership, and only 44 percent believe senior leadership is sincerely interested in their well-being.

Why is trust and confidence important?

Instilling a sense of trust and confidence in senior leadership is key to protecting your organization’s reputation and bottom line. Employees that do not trust or respect senior leadership are less likely to be engaged in their work and are less productive on the job as a result. Disengaged employees are also more likely to leave your organization for a new job, leading to higher turnover-related costs.

How to Improve Trust and Confidence

Good leaders know that respect and trust does not come automatically with a new job title. Instead, it is something that needs to be earned over time. Use the following tips to build trust and confidence in senior leadership at your company:

• Demonstrate competence—Leaders must be competent at their jobs and have the skills and experience to excel. Nothing builds distrust quicker than if employees believe someone is unqualified for a leadership role.

• Show passion—Leaders should be passionate about the work that they do, and that passion needs to be sincere. Your job is not to be a cheerleader or to provide faux compliments or enthusiasm. Instead it is to inspire others by leading.
Be a great listener—Employees want to feel like their voices are being heard, rather than just being talked at. Promote open communication so employees feel comfortable talking to you about whatever issues may arise.

• Say thank you—There’s nothing worse than a boss who takes credit for others’ hard work. Thank your employees for the work that they do each and every day, and make sure your gratitude is genuine.

• Challenge your employees—Employees want to continually grow and learn new skills. Make sure employees have room to flourish and encourage them to take on new opportunities within your organization. Employees will appreciate working for someone who cares about their professional growth.

• Do not micromanage—Trust is a two-way street. If you believed in your employees enough to hire them, trust them to do their jobs and avoid micromanaging them.

• Be transparent—Keep your employees apprised of company goals and performance expectations. Ambiguity builds distrust, so be as transparent and honest as possible.

• Communicate regularly—Take the time to connect with your employees. While email can be great a way to communicate, don’t overlook the power of face-to-face interactions. Hold town halls, department meetings or one-on-one meetings to encourage open communication.

• Lead by example—Model the behavior you wish to see in your employees. If teamwork is highly valued, encourage collaboration across departments and attend any team-building events.

• Be consistent—Consistency builds trust. Be true to your word and accountable for your actions. Perform at a consistently high level and uphold all your commitments.

By following the tips above, you can build employee trust and confidence in senior leadership at your organization.

Part-time Employees in Your Organization – Strategies and cautions for part-time employment positions


While part-time employment positions sometimes conjure up an image of low-wage or dead-end jobs, this does not have to be the case for your organization. HR professionals can leverage part-time positions to benefit both the organization and the employee by enhancing current part-time positions, creating more professional part-time positions and allowing full-time employees the flexibility to go part time if need be. Recognizing the value that part-time positions can provide for your organization starts with treating both part-time and full-time employees as critical to the organization’s success. Consider these strategies and cautions relating to part-time employment positions or transitions.

What is a Part-time Employee?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not provide a definition for part-time or full-time employment. Therefore, employers may set their own definitions of part-time employees, typically within the constraints of their benefits providers.

However, under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the definition for a part-time employee is one who averages less than 30 hours of service per week or less than 130 hours of service per month. Any employee who meets the ACA criteria of part-time status does not need to be offered health benefits, though the employer may choose to do so.


Organizations develop part-time employee strategies for many reasons. As previously mentioned, part-time employees do not need to be offered health benefits, which can save an organization significant sums that would otherwise go toward employee health insurance premiums. Asking employees to reduce work hours can be an effective way to help organizations avoid layoffs. Providing current and potential employees with the scheduling flexibility of part-time employment is also a very effective recruitment and retention tool. If your organization does not already employ part-time workers, look at current positions and consider where you could accommodate part-time employees.

Transitioning an employee from full-time to part-time status requires careful consideration and planning. HR professionals need to be clear on the criteria that constitute a change from full-time to part-time employment to avoid suggesting that anyone can be approved for part-time status. Failing to do so could open the organization to possible discrimination claims. Consider implementing a formal approval process for transitioning an employee from full-time to part-time status, and make sure that managers understand the parameters for approval and denial. This will help avoid arriving at biased decisions based on favoritism.

Another caution surrounds the need for an updated job description when an employee transitions from full to part time. Because the reduction in hours will inevitably change the employee’s duties, performance goals and pay rate, a new job description is a must. It is not uncommon for an employee who transitions from full time to part time to find they carry the same workload with reduced hours and pay. Avoid this by working with the employee and manager to craft a revised job description prior to the transition. HR professionals should also help managers decide how to absorb the duties no longer covered by the employee, and monitor whether any of the duties have snuck back into the employee’s workload.



Four Components of Cyber Risk Management


If your company stores data and information digitally, you should have a cyber risk management program that addresses prevention, disclosure, crisis management and insurance coverage in the event of a data breach. Good cyber risk management requires the planning and execution of all four of these components.

Develop Strategies to Prevent a Data Breach
Your data breach prevention strategies may include encrypting all devices used by your employees, such as laptops, tablets and smartphones. Encrypting these devices will prevent unauthorized access if a device is lost or stolen. Unencrypted devices are often not covered by a cyber liability policy, so make sure you know whether you need to encrypt the devices or not.
Your strategies may also include educating employees about phishing and pharming scams. Remind them not to click on anything that looks suspicious or seems too good to be true.

Analyze your cyber risks from three different perspectives: technology, people and processes. This risk assessment will give you a clear picture of potential holes in your security. Revisit and revise your plan regularly, because new risks arise often, sometimes even daily.

Know Your Disclosure Responsibilities
If you experience a data breach, you may be legally required to notify certain people. If your company is publicly traded, guidelines issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) make it clear that you must report cyber security incidents to stockholders—even when your company is only at risk of an incident.

The SEC advises timely, comprehensive and accurate disclosure about risks and events that would be important for an investor or client to know. It’s important to evaluate what information and how much detail should be released.
Notifying a broad base when it is not required could cause unnecessary concern for those who have not been affected by the breach.

Some extreme cases of a data breach may cause you to go further than just assessing and disclosing the information. You may have to destruct or alter data depending on its sensitivity.

Your Crisis Management and Response Plan
Preparedness is key when developing your cyber risk management program. When you experience a data breach, you need to be prepared to respond quickly and appropriately. This is where your crisis management and response plan come into play.
Determine when and how the breach occurred, what information was obtained and how many individuals were affected. Then assess the risks you face because of the data breach and how you will mitigate those risks.
While managing a crisis, let your clients know what actions you are taking, but also be sure you’re not disclosing too much information. It’s a delicate balance. Focus on improving future actions—this will restore trust in your stakeholders and clients.

Your in-house lawyers, risk managers and IT department should work together to create and refine your plan. Everyone should be on board and know their responsibilities when a breach happens.

Protect Your Data—and Your Business
Your cyber risk management program should include cyber liability insurance coverage that fits the needs of your business.
Cyber liability insurance is specifically designed to address the risks that come with using modern technology—risks that other types of business liability coverage simply won’t cover. The level of coverage your business needs is based on your individual operations and can vary depending on your range of exposure.
Your cyber liability insurance policy can be tailored to fit your unique situation and can be written to include the costs of disclosure after a data breach. Contact ERM Insurance Brokers to learn more about cyber liability insurance and how you can protect your business from a data breach.


top-5-employee-benefit-issuesI can’t believe how much things have changed in the Employee Benefits world over the past 4 years. I’ve just spent the last 8 months resolving a myriad of issues regarding compliance and coverage with my new clients. I was surprised at how many people are not aware of just how much things have changed. I figured that I should at least do what I can to help as many people as I can. What are the things you need to be most aware of right now? Here are the top 5 in my mind:

1. Groups with 50 to 99 employees in California will be changing from Composite Rates to Age Banded Rates. This will result in significant rate increases for most groups, especially if you have a lot of dependents covered under the plan.

2. The Department of Labor is coming. They announced earlier this year that their goal is to audit every company in America before the end of 2018. Whether that is actually possible is not relevant… they are coming… are you ready? Do you know what you need in order to be ready?

3. This year all companies with more than 50 full-time equivalent employees is required to offer a qualified, affordable health plan to more than 97% of their employees. Do you know if your plan meets the requirements and if it is “affordable” under the law?

4. The same companies now have to report to the IRS the status of each employee’s coverage by the end of January in 2017. Do you know what needs to be reported? Do you know how to measure the status each month?

5. There are new plans available that offer “Minimum Essential Coverage” and also have an option available that meets the “Minimum Value Plan” criteria. Do you know the difference between these two options? Have you seen how these plans can help your company during this transition period?

If you have answers to these questions then you are well ahead of the curve. Congrats! If you don’t have the answers to these questions then please contact us and we’ll help you out.



What Do Employees Value Most?

What is the best way I can attract and retain good employees? Has this thought ever crossed your mind? If you are an HR professional or own a business I’m sure this question is fresh on your mind constantly. Well, Glassdoor has conducted a survey and I’m here to share the results with you.

The top 5 things job seekers want to know about a company are:

1. Compensation package – how am I paid?
2. Benefits package – medical, dental, life, disability, PTO, retirement?
3. Company information – background on your company.
4. Why work for you? What makes your company different?
5. Company mission, vision, and values – Where are you going?

Since I have been an Employee Benefits Consultant/Broker for the past 20 years, I’d like to spend a little more time on #2. This actually is the area that can have the most impact on employee satisfaction and is the are you can make changes to without causing too much pain in the company.
What are the most important benefits from an employee’s perspective? What can you offer that will make the most difference? Here are the top 5 according to the Glassdoor survey:

1. Health Insurance – medical, dental, and vision plans
2. Vacation and Paid Time Off.
3. Pension
4. 401(k)
5. Retirement

In reality, you could boil these down to 3 – Health insurance, PTO and Retirement. These 3 area’s mean more to employees than any other benefit or perk. More than Parental Leave, Dependent Care, Stock Options, or Free Food. Getting these “right” can do more for employee satisfaction that anything else you can do.

Now the question is – How do you get these 3 areas right? Well the first thing you need to do is benchmark your offerings with your industry in your area. Know what your competitors are offering and what the employees in your industry value most. For example, in the manufacturing industry Health Plans and 401(k) are the two most important benefits. For the Finance Industry Health Plans, 401(k) and Parental Leave are the most important.

The next thing you need to do is to work with an expert in these fields to find and obtain the plans and offerings that will mean the most to your employees. This usually means working with an insurance broker who has the resources to provide you with what you need. All brokers make commissions on the plans they sell. Is your broker earning his commission by helping you to decide on which plans will have the most impact on your employee satisfaction and helping provide the resources to deliver those things? If not, maybe you need to start looking at other options.

Want to speak to a profession to see what your options are? Feel free to contacts here.

15 Warning Signs Of Workers’ Compensation Fraud

The WC (workers’ compensation) insurance system is a no-fault method of paying workers for medical expenses and wage losses due to on-the-job injuries. While the majority of WC claims are truthful, the National Insurance Crime Bureau reports that billions of dollars of false claims are submitted each year. To help you detect possible WC fraud, experience shows a claim may be fraudulent if two or more of the following factors are present:

Monday Morning: The alleged injury occurs either “first thing Monday morning,” or late on a Friday afternoon but not reported until Monday.

Employment Change: The reported accident occurs immediately before or after a strike, a layoff, the end of a big project or at the conclusion of seasonal work.

Job Termination: If an employee files a post-termination claim:
– Was the alleged injury reported by the employee prior to termination?
– Did the employee exhaust his/her unemployment benefits prior to claiming workers’ compensation benefits?

History of Changes: The claimant has a history of frequently changing physicians, addresses and places of employment.

Medical History: The employee has a pre-existing medical condition that is similar to the alleged work injury.

No Witnesses: The accident has no witnesses, and the employee’s own description does not logically support the cause of injury.

Conflicting Descriptions: The employee’s description of the accident conflicts with the medical history or First Report of Injury.

History of Claims: The claimant has a history of numerous suspicious or litigated claims.

Treatment is Refused: The claimant refuses a diagnostic procedure to confirm the nature or extent of an injury.

Late Reporting: The employee delays reporting the claim without a reasonable explanation.

Hard to Reach: You have difficulty contacting a claimant at home, when he/she is allegedly disabled.

Moonlighting: Does the employee have another paying job or do volunteer work?

Unusual Coincidence: There is an unusual coincidence between the employee’s alleged date of injury and his/her need for personal time off.

Financial Problems: The employee has tried to borrow money from co-workers or the company, or requested pay advances.

Hobbies: The employee has a hobby that could cause an injury similar to the alleged work injury.

Would You Like To Reduce Your Workers’ Compensation Claims By 50%? Click Here to find out more.




Affordable Care Act Changes Beginning in 2015

shutterstock_34855237The provisions implemented by the Affordable Care Act created changes that began in 2010. The health care reform revised the way many businesses are conducted. Specifically, employers have many more requirements with which they are to comply. Other compliances become active between now and 2018, as well, listed below. ERM Insurance Brokers will be happy to help you understand how these changes will affect your business. 


  • Starting this year, employers with 100+ individuals working for them must provide minimum essential health care for employees and their children, covering at least 60% of the health care costs.


  • The definition of a “small group” business will change from between 1 and 50 employees, to between 1 and 100 employees.
  • Employers with between 51 and 100 employees will be penalized if full-time employees are not offered affordable, minimum essential coverage.
  • Increasing from 2015, employers must offer coverage to 95% of their employees and their employees’ children, consisting of affordable, minimum value coverage.


  • “Cadillac” plans, which cost more than $10,200 for individual coverage or $27,500 for family coverage, will incur a 40% excise tax, payable by the insurer or employer.