Can sunshine hurt employee productivity??

With summer in full swing, the kids are out of school and our daylight hours are longer, employees should be able to get more done, yes?  School schedules aren’t in the way, there’s more time to do things after work in daylight, and we are getting more exercise.

But employees are also taking more vacation time which can hinder productivity.  Replicon, a software company which focuses on time and expense, noted that more than 52 percent of employees will take a vacation during June and August.  This can potentially hurt productivity, especially if you are a small business or a company with specialized skills.

So how does an employer keep productivity up during summer?  Below are some tips to consider:

  1. Friendly competition ­­ Consider having contests that challenge and reward employees and at the same time increase productivity.  See who can complete the most tasks in a given week or day then reward the winner(s) with a prize such as tickets to an event or an extra hour at lunch.
  2. Fun Fridays  ­­Here at BCN Services, we celebrate Fridays during the summer months with recognizing a current event or “holiday” such as National Ice Cream day where we have ice cream sundaes served in the break room or take 20 minutes and play a “minute to win it” challenge with a prize for the winning team or person.  Sometimes a break from the daily grind can help an employee refocus and actually produce more.
  3. Recognize hard work­­  If you notice an employee going the extra mile or completing a task before its deadline, reward them with a Starbucks gift card, or buy their lunch one day.  This not only encourages this hard work but will motivate other employees to step up their game as well.  This can do wonders for employee morale.
  4. Share vacation pictures  Put up a board in an area or create an internal web page where people can share photos from their vacations.  This encourages employees to communicate with each other and can boost attitudes and keep people engaged.

While these ideas seem basic enough, sometimes you just have to take the first step and implement ideas like those suggested above.  If you would like help in creating an environment in your office that promotes more productivity and better morale, please contact us and we will be happy to assist.

Enjoy your summer and BE Productive!



Wendy Allen, Marketing Manager

BCN has solutions for your Affordable Care Act challenges

Do you know about the latest solution for employees and employers struggling with the increasing deductibles of ACA-compliant plans?

BCN and Aflac have partnered on a new offering called Aflac Group to help with these Affordable Care Act concerns.  This plan is only being offered through BCN Services to our client partners.

The benefits of these plans are:

  • Guaranteed-issue for employees.
  • Fixed rates for employees and employers.
  • Can be used in conjunction with major medical plans to help offset the deductible!

These plans address two of the biggest challenges facing employees and employers under the ACA: increase in deductibles and variable pricing on quotes.

As employers move to plans with deductibles or increase their deductibles, employees often cannot afford the upfront costs of medical care if they are hit with a serious health incident.  One solution would be to add the Aflac Group Hospital Indemnity plan which allows for $1,000 upfront payment and $200 per day for a hospital admission.  This will bridge the gap between a deductible plan and provide coverage until the deductible is met.  This coverage can be either employee paid or employer paid.

The second challenge employers face is the variable or individual pricing employers are receiving on major medical quotes.  The Aflac Group products are guaranteed issue and guaranteed pricing.  You will know exactly what the costs are for your employees.

There are presently three different Aflac Group options offered:

  • Aflac Group Hospital Indemnity
  • Aflac Group Critical Illness
  • Aflac Group Accident Advantage

To learn more about any or all of these offerings and how they can be offered in conjunction with your major medical plans, please contact BCN at 800-891-9911, contact us here or email us at

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Fielding top-ranked questions about employee 401(k) plans

Believe it or not, we are now halfway through 2014.  I know some of you started 2014 with the resolution to start contributing to your 401k plan or maybe you’re a business owner who wants to offer employees a way to save.  Offering a 401k retirement plan with BCN is an easy and safe option to help assist you and your employees on the path to a secure retirement.

Here are the top questions we regularly receive from owners and employees with regard to a 401k plan:

How much money can I put into my 401(k) account?

The maximum pre-tax contribution dollar amount is set by law and adjusted annually for inflation. The 2014 pre-tax contribution limit is $17,500. If you are age 50 or older you may also make an additional catch-up contribution of $5,500 per year. In addition, there are special non-discrimination rules that apply to the plan. If you earn more than $115,000 a year, or own more than 5 percent of the company, for example, contribution caps may apply for you.

Which is better: Investing pre-tax in a 401(k) plan or after-tax outside of the plan?

The difference between the two types of investments is when you are taxed. Pre-tax contributions and earnings are taxed only when you withdraw it. Since the money that would normally be paid in taxes goes directly into the 401(k) plan, pre-tax contributions can compound your interest and allow the account to grow quickly.

However, if you need to withdraw money prior to age 59½ you may incur a 10 percent withdrawal penalty in addition to owing current income taxes. After-tax contributions are taxed before they are invested. You are taxed on the growth and earnings in your account as you save.

I would like to transfer an old 401(k) into my new plan. Can this be done?

Yes, this can be done and is referred to as a trustee-to-trustee transfer, or more commonly, a rollover. You need to request a rollover form from and a distribution form from your former employer. There are no penalties with a trustee-to-trustee transfer.

Why are there so many Vanguard Funds in the new plan?

Vanguard is well known for their low-cost funds. Morningstar did a study titled “Fees Matter.” They found that expenses are a better predictor of future returns than past performance. As an investor, there are three elements that you can control in the 401(k) plan: the amount of risk you take (type of investment), the amount you contribute and save, and the fees charged on the funds you select.

The passively managed S&P 500 Index has outperformed 80 percent of actively managed funds over a 20-year period primarily because of the low fees charged. For example, the SSgA S&P 500 Index fund in the typical plan costs only 0.09 percent to own. The Trustee of the plan elected to include many low-cost funds as options for your investments.

Can I withdraw money fwhile I am still working?

Most plans offer loans allowing you to borrow money from your 401(k) account, but you have to pay yourself back with interest. If you fail to pay back the loan, it is treated as a withdrawal and the outstanding loan balance will be subject to current income taxes as well as a 10 percent early withdrawal penalty.

If your plan doesn’t offer loans, you may be able to qualify for a severe financial hardship withdrawal if no other resources are available to you. According to the IRS a hardship withdrawal includes the following:

  • Down payment of primary residence
  • College tuition for you or your dependents
  • Unreimbursed medical expenses
  • Prevent eviction or foreclosure from your home

What if I choose to leave my job?

Your distribution options are the same whether you voluntarily leave or are terminated. If your account balance is more than $5,000, you can leave your money in the plan. If you want to take your money with you, your vested account balance can be rolled into another 401(k) plan with your employer or directly transferred into an IRA to avoid early withdrawal penalties.

If you would like more information regarding the 401k plan, please contact us here.


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Independence Day: A holiday to celebrate

Today we pause to remember our Country’s roots, fly our flags, have our barbeques, and consider how lucky we all are to live in this great country, the U.S.A.   Celebrate your freedom while respecting others’ rights and remember the fight that the Colonists made to free themselves from tyranny.

Our country is successful because each of its citizens make contributions to its success.  May we think of ways to better contribute, and if we know those that are not contributing, may we help them to their feet, and let them take their own walk to success.

Be safe, and enjoy the holiday.  Happy Fourth of July!



Andrew (Andy) C. Hans, CEO