Be ready when employees wonder ‘Should I stay, or should I go?’

If you talk to any business owner today and ask them what their biggest challenge is, they will likely say finding and keeping good people. They would engage you in a long conversation about the challenges they face when losing their good ones and how they have a very difficult time recruiting or finding replacements. This is a time and money drain for any organization.

Don’t wait until your good people leave to learn what it takes to keep employees or why they stayed as long as they did? Conducting “stay” interviews is an easy way to take the pulse of what is happening in your business. If you want more great people, simply ask your current great employees for their input. Stay interviews will help build employee engagement and foster a good culture as you build trust with employees.

How to get started

  • Select a few of your key employees and ask them to participate. You want more of these engaged and honest individuals on your team.
  • Explain why you are asking them to take part: that they are a valued member of the staff and that this is to help you retain and recruit more employees with their gifts and skills.
  • Conduct these stay interviews once or twice each year and do them within the same timeframe. Do not wait until employees become disengaged, or even worse, leave, to understand what’s going on.
  • Make it known you desire their honest feedback. That includes the good, the bad and the ugly. Employees must feel safe to express their opinions and that the manager will have an open mind and not get defensive. They should never feel there will be retribution for any of their comments.
  • Focus on the positives/wins that they express. Create and share your action plan from the results of the stay interviews. People want to know they have been heard and are making an impact.

Following is a list of the best questions to get the stay interview process started. They are open-ended, easy to ask, get the conversation energized questions, and the response will contain valuable insight and make a difference in keeping your employees.

  • What do you look forward to when you come to work?
  • Why do you stay working here?
  • Do you feel that we fully use your talents in your current role? Are their additional talents/interests/experiences that you could offer?
  • What are the frustrations or less desirable parts of your role that you would like to do less of?
  • What is an example of any recent recognition or acknowledgement that you received that increased your engagement to the company?

Make the process a win-win

Stay interviews are an inexpensive and effective way to drive your business improvements forward quickly. The management team receives honest feedback and the employee feels valued and empowered to help make the business better.

Take the feedback and put it into action. Communicate your actions with your company and recognize the impact the feedback has provided. It will be a win-win for both employer and employee.

Do you need additional help and tips for employee retention? Contact your BCN Services representative, your partner for all of your company’s HR needs.

Corey Decker, Sales Manger

Retiring Boomers Continue To Lift Small Business Sales

Sales of small businesses in America remain elevated, according to an updated report from BizBuySell. Specifically, there were 10,312 closed small business transactions in 2018, a 4 percent increase from 2017 and the highest full-year total since BizBuySell started tracking this data in 2007. The report’s authors attributed 2018’s continued acceleration in transactions to a variety of factors, such as strengthening revenue and profit numbers, as well as more people looking to buy and sell.

The uptick in sellers is in part being driven by the aging U.S. population, i.e. Baby Boomers, and 80 percent of surveyed business brokers said that they expect even more Baby Boomers will look to sell their companies in 2019 than in 2018. The main reason for this is that a rapidly growing number of these older Americans who own a business have reached the age at which they will want to stop managing the day-to-day operations of their company. Further, around a third of business brokers and small business owners in a separate BizBuySell survey said that they feel higher minimum wages, rising healthcare costs, and concerns over upcoming regulations are likely motivating many owners to sell sooner rather than later.

Such owners have probably also been motivated by a favorable market that has seen the time it takes for a business to sell fall considerably, along with a 9 percent jump in the median selling price in just the past twelve months. Adding to older owners’ increased willingness to sell is likely a desire to avoid the challenges of managing a company during another recession. Indeed, while there are not any major warning signs of an imminent recession, some sort of economic downturn occurring within the next few years would not be surprising since the current expansion in America has already been going on for more than 114 months, making it the 2nd-longest on record and more than twice the historic average (48-months).

For some owners, passing on the management responsibilities, along with ownership, to one’s children is another option, but many may instead wind up simply selling their company to an outsider. Why so? There are several potential answers to that question but one reason could be to help fund retirement because roughly one in five Baby Boomer small business owners in a recent SunTrust poll admitted that they are still not financially prepared for retirement. In fact, an earlier FPA/CNBC study on succession planning found that more than three-quarters of surveyed small business owners plan on selling their company in order to satisfy 60 percent to 100 percent of their old-age income needs.

Such a large dependence on a single asset could put the financial security of these soon-to-be retirees in a precarious situation should their company not sell for the price they had anticipated (and developed an old-age budget around). Just as stock market investors should diversify the equities they hold in their portfolio, small business owners should aim to diversify their retirement savings vehicles (401(k)s, IRAs, real estate, etc.), and in turn lessen their overall sensitivity to the eventual selling price of their company.

 

Copyright @ 2019 Slavic Investments (http://blog.slavic401k.com/retiring-boomers-continue-to-lift-small-business-sales-1). Republished with permission.

Michigan’s minimum wage increasing on March 29

Effective March 29, 2019, the Michigan minimum wage will increase to $9.45 per hour up, a 20-cent increase from the current $9.25 per hour. The change came following a long debate in the Michigan Legislature, ultimately voted upon and passed into law by a bill signed by Gov. Rick Snyder on December 14, 2018.

For Michigan employers, this means that all hours worked on and after the March 29th date must be paid, at a minimum, the new $9.45 an hour rate or higher. This agreement excluded any changes for tipped workers which will remain at the current $3.52 an hour rate.

Michigan is one of 20 states that will have a 2019 minimum wage increase. With so many changes, BCN Services encourages employers to reach out to their Payroll Specialist if they have concerns regarding their affected employees or if they would like assistance when navigating a state Department of Labor website (in Michigan, visit: https://www.michigan.gov/lara/0,4601,7-154-59886—,00.html) for the most up-to-date information.

For further information on your state or how this minimum wage increase may affect your employees, please contact BCN Services at (800) 891-9911. Our experts can advise on your employees and a best strategy to comply with the increased minimum wage.

For a history of recent minimum wage increases in Michigan, see this previous BCN blog post: https://www.bcnservices.com/minimum-wage-increases-michigan-take-effect-starting-sept-1/

Dani Austin, Payroll Supervisor

Frequently Asked Questions about posting labor law rules

Do I have to post labor law posters in my workplace? This is a very good question and if you have been given responsibility for poster compliance, consider the next questions when determining your labor law requirements:

Do I have employees on payroll?

If you answered “yes,” are any of your employees on payroll not your spouse? If so, then you are mandated by law to post the most up-to-date labor law posters.

Now that you have determined your need for labor law posters, you’re probably wondering where you should post them. According to poster compliance requirements, posters must be displayed in an area where your employees can readily see them. The most common areas to consider are:

  • A breakroom
  • A common room
  • Near the time clock
  • A lunch room or kitchen

Places that may seem like a good idea but don’t adhere to labor law compliance requirements include:

  • The HR Manager’s office
  • A gender-specific bathroom
  • Outside an office in the hallway
  • The owner’s office
  • In one specific department

What if I have two break rooms? Do I have to display the posters in both areas?

The best way to determine this is to ask yourself another question. Do all your employees have access to both rooms? If the answer is no, then we would suggest that you display the labor law posters in both break rooms. If yes, then you should be compliant with the posters in one break room.

What if my employees work on separate floors of the same building, do I need to display the compliance posters on each floor?

Yes, you need to post the compliance posters on each floor because you’re required to post the labor law posters where all of your employees can readily see them.

The key word here is “access.” Your employees must have easy access to labor law posters. If employees are required go out of their way to view and read the posters, then the posters are not easily available to them. As an employer you are not following labor law compliance requirements.

What if some of my employees work in a separate building? Do I need to display the posters there?

Yes, you should display the compliance posters in both buildings so that all employees have easy access to the posters.

What happens if my business is not compliant with labor law posting regulations?

If your business is not in compliance with current federal and state labor law poster standards, you are in jeopardy of receiving a fine or citation. Additionally, keeping your business in compliance by using the appropriate posters helps to remind supervisors of their obligations to uphold the law and protect your workers from injury, discrimination, harassment, and other important state, federal, and OSHA requirements.

If you still have questions about your labor law poster needs, contact your HR professionals at BCN Services. We are available to help you with all your compliance needs and can keep you up-to date on laws as they change.

Lisandra Garrow, Partnership Manager

In the new year, update addresses and be sure benefit elections are accurate

Happy New Year! After family gatherings, company parties, school breaks and other celebrations, it’s time for most of us to get back into our regular routines. The start of the year is also a great time for employees to do an audit of their W2 address information and new benefit plans, as well as finalize any benefits spending from the previous year.

Here are a few suggestions that can benefit all employees at any employer.

W2s for 2018
The federal government requires all employers to mail or electronically provide W2s to current and former employees who worked for them in 2018 by January 31, 2019. For employees not signed up for an electronic W2, be sure to update your home addresses, if needed, with current and former employers.

BCN Services employees who use the online portal option can change their addresses online at any time. All others can email address changes to hr@bcnservices.com, including their full name and the last 4 digits of their Social Security number. Every year, hundreds of W2s are returned to BCN Services due to outdated addresses. While it’s best to update the addresses before the W2s are sent, if an employee updates an address at a later time, we sent them right back out using the updated address.

Even with correct addresses, sometimes W2s don’t arrive at an employee’s home or they are misplaced. It’s important that employees wait long enough to give the U.S. Postal Service time to deliver them, but also not to wait until the tax deadline if they need an additional copy of the W2. BCN Services employees who don’t receive a W2 for any reason can contact BCN Services (email hr@bcnservices.com) to receive a free re-print of their W2 between February 11 and March 7. If requesting a copy, include the full name of the employee and the last 4 digits of the Social Security number.

2018 Benefits – FSA
Employees who have Flexible Spending Account plans with money left from 2018 have until March 15, 2019 to incur reimbursable expenses and until March 30, 2019 to submit receipts for payment from their FSA account. In 2018, this process moved from paper to a more convenient online process for BCN Services’ employees. We encourage all BCN Services employees with FSA accounts to view their account balances and submit reimbursement requests through the website or Wage Works app (www.wageworks.com) prior to the March 15 and March 30 deadlines.

2019 Benefits Contributions
Many employees have updated their benefits elections as of January 1, 2019. It’s a good idea for all employees to review their pay stubs to ensure that deductions coming out of your pay match the elections you’ve made. For the final checks of 2018, employees should generally expect to see deductions that match the 2019 medical, dental and vision plan elections. Employees’ first paychecks of 2019 should reflect those plan elections, as well as 2019 FSA and Health Savings Account (HSA) contributions, Aflac supplemental insurance, life insurance and disability, and prepaid legal plans.

Not a BCN employer?
Taking these actions are excellent practices for all employees. This article highlights a few of the many services BCN Services offers to our clients. To learn more about the full package of services offered and for more information about how these can work for your business, call us at 734-994-4100.

Trisha Crigger, Human Resources Generalist

Reviewing a changing workplace dress code and your policy

Many employees feel that wearing jeans and comfortable street clothes is preferable to the more professional business dress code and we are seeing employers moving towards a more relaxed dress code in the workplace.

The terms “business casual” and “business formal” have traditionally had an expectation that employees come to work dressed in a certain professional fashion.

In the past, they were viewed this way: business casual was outlined as women wearing a skirt or dress with a hem past the knee, or tailored dress pants with a button-down or blouse and men should wear dress pants or khakis, with a collared shirt and a belt. For business formal, placed men in a suit and tie, and women in a tailored dress or pantsuit that was dressier than business casual attire.

But these may not be appropriate norms in today’s workplace. Business casual dress has evolved, as has the way that companies should look at gender-neutral language in their policies.

If you’ve ever heard the phrase “dress for the job that you want, not the job that you have,” it suggests that higher-level jobs are the ones that require the formal dress code. That doesn’t seem to be the trend anymore. Google is an example of a company that doesn’t fit that mold. Google’s philosophy is that you can be serious without a suit and Facebook has adopted a similar expectation for workplace attire that is completely casual (http://www.businessinsurance.org/10-big-businesses-with-incredibly-casual-offices/).

A lot of employers offer “casual Fridays” which offer a relaxed dress code one day each week. Some employers may also require employees to donate to a charitable organization to be able to wear casual dress on Fridays, but either way, wearing jeans and casual dress is portrayed as a benefit to employees. If you look at attitudes and productivity, could there be potential benefits to easing up on expectations of workplace dress?

Another consideration is brand image and how your company is perceived by customers and clients. If your industry is customer-facing, what kind of image do you want to portray? Do your customers expect their point of contact to be dressed professionally? How would customers feel about seeing an employee dressed in jeans and a t-shirt? If you aren’t in a customer-facing industry, should employees be required to dress professionally every day?

Businesses also need to consider how they are wording their dress code policy and be careful to use only gender-neutral terminology. The definitions above for business casual and formal, for example, are not appropriate nomenclature now given our clarified view of gender identity.

Telling women they must wear a skirt and men, pants, could be seen as a discriminatory policy, even though this was widely accepted until recently. Please contact the human resources department at BCN Services if you would like to review your policy and make an update to your employee handbook.

Kari Stanley, Partnership Manager

Be proactive to keep job candidates interested in your company

With the U.S. unemployment rate at its lowest rate since 1969, employers find themselves in the hottest job market in decades and candidates are holding all the cards. Contacting potential candidates and following through to the hiring stage is becoming more and more difficult, and important, for employers.

A growing number of candidates are “ghosting’ their prospective employers, ignoring scheduled interviews, accepting offers but not showing up on the first day or work or even vanishing once hired for a position, giving little or no notice.

Act quickly: The best candidates won’t hang around for a long employment vetting process and may accept a position elsewhere before you get a chance to make an offer. Every day a position goes unfilled, the company misses out on full production and runs the risk of burnout of current employees who have taken on additional tasks to keep things running smoothly. Investing in technological solutions to help with the recruiting and hiring processes may be money well spent. A Human Capital Management (HCM) System offers many benefits to improve productivity in each stage of the process, starting with recruiting and hiring.

Maintain a pipeline: It is important to maintain regular contact with a network of potential candidates. When you find good candidates, whether you are filling a job or not, contact them to discuss what they are seeking long term. Create a relationship with them, stay in contact and keep them on a short list as turnovers arise so you have a pool of possible candidates to contact before even placing an ad.

Communicate your timeline: Often candidates are interested in your company or an open position, but a lack of communication on your part can cause them to abruptly halt any contact when something else comes along. Commit to a timeline and inform them of the progress along the way.

Sell the role: More often than not, the best job candidates aren’t the ones who will choose your company because of entertainment, employee lounges and foosball tables. They are more interested in a job that’s exciting, fulfilling and challenging, and one that helps them achieve their personal and professional goals. When speaking with a candidate, focus on the possibility of how this role will help the company meets its goals and how they will fit into the culture of the organization. Help create a mental image of the candidate in the role to pique their interest and prevent them from losing interest.

BCN Services has a full service HR Department to help you with your recruiting and hiring needs. Please contact us at 800-891-9911 for help and advice.

David Pilon, Controller

Setting goals for 2019? BCN Services can help you with HR efficiency

Yes, it is December already.

It’s that time of year when you reflect on the challenges your business has achieved, crushed, fallen short of or come close to over the past 12 months. You have probably started proactively assessing goals for the coming 12 months.

Those plans should include strategies for growth, doing things differently and maximizing your resources for efficiency when it comes to the world of human capital.

Here are a few powerful and thought-provoking questions to help develop your 2019 plans:

  • Do you have infrastructure and resources in place to meet your company goals?
  • What are the biggest challenges facing your company today?
  • How do you keep up to date with ever-changing employment regulations that affect employees?
  • What would you change about your employee retention and recruiting strategy?
  • How confident are you that you are complying with wage-and-hour, immigration and wrongful termination practices?

BCN Services has been providing comprehensive human resources services to businesses for over 25 years and can help you answer these questions. We are your one-stop resource for all HR services including: payroll processing, risk management, human resources administration and employee benefits administration. This helps you focus on your day-to-day business priorities, avoid costly HR mistakes and maximize your company’s profits.

Let us handle all of these services for you, which are typically done by an in-house HR department:

  • Oversite, compliance and guidance of EEOC, HIPAA, COBRA, FMLA and other federal regulations Recruit and retain employees with better healthcare, 401K, and voluntary benefits packages
  • Electronic onboarding, administration and compliance including I-9 tracking, drug screen program set-up, record keeping of new employees using a state-of-the art HRIS and payroll system
  • Risk assessment of your HR policies and procedures
  • Employee relations coaching and training for team members who manage staff and deliver disciplinary actions
  • Proactive assistance with a workplace safety training program
  • Lower unemployment rate with complete unemployment case management program

We can help you identify and prioritize your challenges and opportunities for the upcoming year in when it comes to payroll, risk management, HR administration and employee benefit offerings. How can you look at your business in a different way? BCN Services will put together an individualized plan so you can focus on operating and expanding your business.

Call us at 1-800-891-9911 so we can begin helping you.

Wishing you all the best in 2019!

Corey Decker, Sales Manager

Consider year-end payroll as you make holiday plans

The holiday season will soon be here and while most people are thinking of planning holiday parties and gift-giving, it is also important to think about your end-of-year payroll now.

Both the year end and holiday payroll processing can be stressful between planning for business closures and compiling end-of-year financials. Starting to think about the topic now and communicate with your BCN Payroll Specialist early to alleviate stress and make this busy time of year go smoothly.

Some things to consider:

Business closure dates: What dates will your business be closed over the holidays? Will you need to receive any payroll deliveries early? How will this impact your employees’ pay?

Pay date changes: Do you have any pay dates that should be changed due to the holidays? Have you reviewed your payroll processing schedule to determine the dates the banks will be closed when you will not be able to issue funds?

Bonus payments: Do you plan to pay any employees a bonus? When do you want that bonus payment to be made? Do those checks need to be printed on paper for you or will they be paid through employee direct deposit?

Fringe benefits: Are there any fringe benefit amounts that need to be reported? By what date do those need to be processed?

Once you have begun planning, it is crucial to involve your BCN Payroll Specialist in this conversation as early as possible. Even before you have amounts and final details, your Payroll Specialist can help answer questions and give advice on your plan. This will also allow them to start planning the processes they must have in place to ensure all your requests can be met in a timely manner.

BCN Services sends communications about all closures and holiday scheduling to help make your season run as smoothly as possible. Please call us at 800-891-9911 so we can assist with your holiday and year-end planning.

Dani Austin, Payroll Supervisor

Michigan’s Earned Sick Time Act will change policies for many employers

UPDATED – 11/30/2018 – Michigan Earned Sick Time Act

In early September 2018, Michigan’s Legislature adopted the Earned Sick Time Act, which applies to all private employers employing one or more individuals, and takes effect on April 1, 2019. It was originally advanced as a ‘citizen initiated/petitioned ballot measure’ to be placed before the voting public. The legislature opted to avoid the ballot initiative by adopting the law as written.

On November 28, 2018, Michigan state senators voted for a bill introduced by Senator Shirkey to dramatically scale back the Requirements for Earned Sick Time Act, specifically that small businesses (fewer than 50 workers) will be exempt. This act will also not apply to employees exempt from overtime or who work for a private company but are covered by a labor contract.

What will the Earned Sick Time Act do?

  • Require employers, with over 50 employees, to provide every employee 1 hour of paid sick time for every 40 hours worked, or 36 hours per year. This will allow employees to use up to a certain amount of paid sick time in a year for a specified number of purposes, such as illness, medical treatment, absences caused by domestic violence or sexual assault, or meetings related to a child’s school or care.
  • Allow employees to take leave with little advanced notice.
  • Permit employers to request documentation only if the absence is longer than 3 days, and then requires that the employer to cover the employee’s out-of-pocket costs incurred in providing such documentation.
  • Require employers to provide written notice to employees of their rights under the Act, including protections against employer retaliation.
  • Permit aggrieved employees to file claims with the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs or take legal action.

As written, the Earned Sick Time Act could prove challenging for many employers to implement, especially those who have established time-off policies. Employers can comply with the Earned Sick Time Act by providing paid leave (such as vacation, personal days, PTO, etc.), as long as that leave, (1) Accrues at a rate equal to or greater than what the Earned Sick Time Act requires; (2) Is at least the same amount as the Earned Sick Time Act; (3) May be used for the same purposes and under the same conditions. Employees must begin accruing leave on the law’s effective date or when employment begins (whichever is later) at a rate of at least 1 hour for every 40 hours worked.

What does this mean for employers?

It is still somewhat unclear what the Earned Sick Time Act will look like come April 1, 2019. Rest assured that BCN Services will continue to monitor and report on further developments. Meanwhile, employers should take stock of their existing time-off policies, especially if they have separate sick time, vacation time, and personal time policies.

Thom Moore, Partnership Manager