3 Steps to Thank Employees

3 Steps to Thank Employees

“A man does not live on bread alone. He needs buttering up once in a while” – Robert Henry

Well folks, the season of thanksgiving is upon us once again. The turkeys are gobbling, people are making traveling plans and thanks are being given. This is truly a season of gratitude and love for others and taking time to thank employees is no exception… also, gravy.

So how does the thankfulness of the season crossover into the work place? Can it? Many people view work as a means to an end. They work for the weekend, for a paycheck, and for time off. Of course they engage in holidays and seasons, but not at work. Work is a place for progress, profits, and pay-out. It’s a place of meetings, memos, and managers. Unfortunately, it’s thinking like this that keeps those who manage employees from engaging at all during the holiday seasons.

Don’t get me wrong, there should be a distinct balance between work and home. An employee should not have the expectation that Thanksgiving at home will be the same as Thanksgiving at work. My suggestion? Leave the turkey, keep the thanks.

Giving thanks early and often is appropriate at all times, but especially in November and December. This season gives you a wide open door to thank employees unabashedly, with passion and care. Good employees flourish at work when they know that what they do matters. Letting your employees know that their contributions are important to you, the organization, and to their other co-works, enables them to trend upwardly; both in their quality of work and their value added.

There are 3 steps you can take to ensure that you are thanking others well.

  • KNOW – How can you plan on being a good giver of thanks if you don’t know the person you intend to thank? Take time to understand your employees. Small conversations, shared meals, and project collaboration are just a few ways to organically get to know an individual.
  • PLAN – Unplanned thanks can come off as cheap and half-hearted. Plan well to thank well. If you don’t do your research, your thanks will miss the mark which could lead to the employee actually feeling less appreciated rather than more appreciated. Investigate unique ways to thank employee (my own list is just below). Poll your office as to what they would appreciate. Finally, don’t be afraid to specifically ask people what they find encouraging or appreciative.
  • ACT – Just do it. You have your plan, now it’s time to execute. Below are a few creative ideas to show thanks to your employees.
    • Park like the boss– offer up the best parking spot for a week.
    • Free lunch– they always say there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but who doesn’t like being treated to a restaurant of their choosing?
    • Training and Conferences– pay for them to attend events that will grow them personally and professionally. It’s an investment in them and the organization
    • Extra PTO– people love time off. Give additional hours to employees as a way of saying thanks.
    • Hand written notes– they add a personal touch. Go a step further by having mailed to the employees home address.
    • Gift Cards– whether it’s a fuel card,for a restaurant, or for other entertainment purposes, this is a perfect way to enable your employee do enjoy something they love or to fulfill a need they may have.
    • A Project Pass off– let your employ pass off one project to you and you complete it instead.
    • Off campus outing– plan a whole or half day somewhere that gets people out of their normal routine. Incorporate team building.
    • Office Awards– like the Oscars or the Emmys. They can be goofy, light-hearted, and personal to each person.

In this season of Thanksgiving, it’s a great opportunity to thank employees. If you do it well, you and your whole organization will benefit from it. Don’t be a turkey and miss this golden opportunity!

Top 3 things you need to know during medical insurance renewal season

Top 3 things you need to know during medical insurance renewal season

Medical insurance renewal season is usually considered a “necessary evil” in the grand scheme of medical insurance. We want the coverage, but we hate anxiously waiting for the renewal rates. I had the opportunity to sit down with Founder and President of Servant HR, Jeff Leffew, and talk about this topic. During our discussion, Jeff shared his perspective on three key areas’ the Servant HR team gets asked this time of year.

1.) What’s different this year?

Healthcare and medical insurance is ever evolving, which makes renewal seasons unique every year. And this year is no exception. According to Leffew, the biggest distinction is the length of time this renewal season covers. In fact, the renewal season for small groups that are not currently on an Affordable Care Act (ACA) qualified plan will extend until the end of 2017.

What does that mean?

As an example, a company has an Oct. 1st, 2016 renewal date. Instead of renewing Oct. 1st, 2017 (or 12 months from the last renewal) their plan would actually go to the end of 2017 (or a 15 month period). If their renewal date was Dec. 1st, 2016, it would go to the end of December 2017 (or 13 months).

Why is the renewal season length different this year?

When the ACA was established, there were serval provisions given that delayed the ACA from being fully implemented. Because these provisions will be gone by January 1st, 2018, it doesn’t make sense for companies who renew on October 1 to turn around and renew again for only three months.

Why is this important to you?

When you get your renewal percentages, they might be a tad higher than normal because they could be covering 13 or 15 months. It all depends on your renewal date.

2.) Options are dwindling

For small groups in Indiana, the options for medical insurance coverage are beginning to dwindle. According to Leffew, groups with fewer than 50 employees realistically have only three or four providers that will offer quotes.

The reason?

The environment for an insurance company is so complex that it’s difficult and costly for new companies to break into the market. As a result, they barely get off the starting line because looming regulations and complexities make profitability quite stingy for these companies.

3.) Judgement calls are gone

There was a time when the requirements to obtain medical insurance were less formal—less controlled. Those days are over. Now that companies are being held accountable by the federal government, the standards are black and white.

While the intentions may be good, Leffew believes it has taken away the ability for medical insurance companies to make judgement calls. He says, “Not all businesses look alike. There are unique situations, but the human element has been taken out.” With the reality that everyone has to look the “same”, judgement calls become less of a viable option for companies to make.

If you have questions about our top 3 list or need help this renewal season, we’d love to talk with you.

“How Do We Retain Employees?”

Employee turnover is a common challenge for most employers. You want to keep those top sellers, top culture creators, top producers and top team players. We are often asked the best ways to retain employees.

Survey Says …

The sheer amount of research and resources dedicated to employee satisfaction illustrates the importance of the issue, and the findings might surprise you. For one, more money is usually far down on the list of ways to keep your best talent. Job satisfaction is typically the real issue.

When we perform employee engagement trainings, we focus on what employees are doing and for whom they are working. It is critical to evaluate the culture of the company, the goals of the company and how each employee views his or her purpose and role in the company.  Individually, we learn about what employees draw from their managers or senior advisors, as feedback from these people is critical. Satisfaction isn’t just the work you do. A strong HR strategy is one that helps train managers to help increase team aspects.

Studies have found work/life balance is another critical factor in job satisfaction. How this balance translates into expectations varies from person to person and generation to generation. Managing millennials is a hot topic for just this reason. People come into a job wanting to find a satisfying experience at work, but they don’t want it to detract from their lives outside of work, whether their priority is family, friends or going to every Indianapolis Colts game on the schedule.

Employees want to feel like their jobs support their lifestyles. That desire can be translated into vacation days, a pay increase, more attention to personal and emotional energy, or making sure an employee’s stress level doesn’t burn them out. People want balance. They want to be allowed to be the person they want to be. All of these factors affect their sense of satisfaction at work.

Top 5 Things Employees Seek

Forbes reports on CEB’s findings from its quarterly study of 50,000 employees over the second half of 2012, coming up with the top five thing people are looking for when they are seeking a new job. You can use these items as starting points for figuring out how to work on these areas of your company. Ask yourself the associated questions. And the top 5 are:

  • Stability: Do your employees buy into your company’s long-term goals? Do these goals provide potential for employees to grow?
  • Compensation: Do your employees feel well compensated?
  • Respect: Do your employees feel respected by their peers, managers and leadership?
  • Health Benefits: Are you communicating the value of the health benefits you’re offering? Are the benefits competitive in your market?
  • Work-Life Balance: What kinds of quality-of-life issues are a priority for your employees and are your helping support those priorities?

Demographics Matter

It is also critical to know who your employees are. Demographic information is a useful indicator. When we carry out exit interviews for employers, we often hear from employees that compensation is important. What we have also learned is that younger people don’t care as much about money and health care benefits, but when those same young people start building families, money and health care benefits become more important to them. Once the family is established, retirement packages become more of a priority.

You need to know their demographics so that you respond accordingly. Get creative in what your compensation package looks like based on the demographic you’re employing.

Personal growth and development are also really important. Offering classes, training, seminars, coaching and mentoring all show your developing employees that you want them to excel and succeed in your company. They see that you are invested in them as a person.

What About My Industry?

Different industries have different challenges, but the struggle to retain employees is across the board. The differences typically lie in what people want more of, but the common ground is that people want “more” of something. Your actions and thoughts behind a gesture as an employer must fit your audience. (On a small scale, some employees will wholeheartedly appreciate a tray of homemade cookies while others will expect gourmet cupcakes.)

Start Evaluating Satisfaction

I know it sounds too simple, but giving your employees a platform to have a voice is a win for you and them. We have found that SurveyMonkey is a great tool to help businesses really figure out where they should focus and what they should do. Using simple surveys — some only five questions long — we can learn what employees would recommend to make your company a better place to work.

We can then drill down to figure out exactly what that looks like and start working on an employee satisfaction strategy. The key is to not let that survey just sit around. Let your employees be heard and don’t forget to listen and act on what you hear.

Be sure you are consistent and realistic, too. Once you carry out the survey, communicate the findings with your employees and let them know where you’ve going from here. Say to them, “This is what we heard you say and these are the three things we can do over the next two months. This is what we’re going to do over the next year.” Be sure to evaluate how things progress and get more feedback. Have someone in place to support these types of initiatives.

Annual or more frequent reviews are a great time to get qualitative feedback on employee satisfaction. Open the door to the conversation to find out what your top employees are really seeking. Make reviews meaningful times for each employee. Affirm their place in the company, compliment their work and discuss their goals. Do what you can to make employee retention a more manageable challenge.

To find out how Servant HR can help your company retain employees, please contact us.

Top 6 Ways a PEO Helps You Grow Your Business

Top 6 Ways a PEO Helps You Grow Your Business

grow your business

Many people look at human resources as one of those things you have to do in business. It’s just the way it is. Our clients understand that human resources isn’t just an obligation — which it is to a degree — but when it’s used strategically, it can be a means to unlock opportunities and grow your business. The bottom line is, when you use a PEO, you are being strategic.

Here are six ways a PEO helps you grow your business:

1. PEOs create the freedom for you to focus on your business. PEOs like Servant HR take projects off their clients’ plates. Administrative tasks are the obvious ones. For example, the State of Indiana requires you to report all new hires. This is one of the things that can easily slip through the cracks at businesses in growth mode. When you are focused on building your infrastructure, hiring the best people and moving into new markets, tasks like reporting a new hire can get lost — and get you in trouble. When you have someone else focusing on those things, you can keep growing your business.  There’s no wasted time scrambling to figure what’s required and how to fulfill the requirement. A PEO simply does it, often without our clients even knowing it’s been done. Setting up workers’ compensation is another admin task that often goes overlooked — we just do it.

2. We can help minimize potential attorney fees and wasted time. You probably have an accountant, so when you have an accounting-related question, you call your accountant. In the same way, once business leaders understand their PEO’s areas of involvement, they begin to contact them first when they are dealing with a sensitive HR-related issue.

Going directly to your PEO when you have an issue may help prevent you from wasting money on attorney fees or wasting time researching issues on your own. If we can handle the issue, we will. If we need to work with a client’s attorney to help, we will, and we will have the background information needed to inform our client’s attorney of the issue. In this way, a PEO can help look out for your bottom line.

3. PEOs work strategically with your business goals in mind. Your PEO knows your employee handbook from cover to cover – it probably helped you develop it. And it knows your company philosophy and priorities. When you are dealing with risk issues, such as a discipline challenge, business leaders can turn to their PEO to help them figure out the next steps, and those handbook details and understanding of your business play key roles in how you should strategically respond to risk-laden circumstances. PEOs advise their clients with a full understanding not only of your employee numbers but also an understanding of where you stand financially and other seemingly non-HR matters.

4. PEOs minimize risk. Entrepreneurs recognize the depth and breath of HR today. Healthcare reform helps greatly accentuate that point. All employers are intimately aware of opportunities and threats related to legislation and regulations. If you don’t follow the rules, you could conceivably lose your business in a matter of months. That doesn’t happen often, but it can happen. When you work with a PEO and have a process in place related to payroll, benefits, risk management, workers’ compensation, employee coaching and counseling services, you can keep your eye on the ball in your particular area without worrying about potential penalties or threats related to HR legislation. It’s like using an FDIC-insured bank, as a PEO assumes some of the risk related to HR issues.

Take payroll for example, if you withheld moneys for taxes and didn’t submit them to the government, it’s a federal offense. I’ve seen this happen often. Most of the time, I believe it happens by accident, but there isn’t a risk of this happening when you work with an effective PEO. As another example, you might not know about some FMLA rules that you inadvertently ignored. An employee who bears the brunt of your ignorance might bring a suit against you for failing to comply. A PEO helps take on some of the risk related to these types of issues.

5. A PEO’s process adds value in the eyes of investors. When investors are shopping for opportunities, their due diligence process is thorough. When they see that you work with a PEO, you are demonstrating that you are focused on growing your business (not HR admin tasks) and you don’t have any HR skeletons in your closet. Having a PEO’s input as a third party also can appear as more reliable than information submitted to a potential investor directly from the business seeking funds.

6. Having a PEO in place is impressive for prospective employees. For businesses that want to grow, seeking out and hiring top employees is key. When a potential hire sees that you have health care plans, direct deposit, an employee handbook and other HR-related items in place, they regard you as credible. They can see that you have your house in order as it relates to one of the most important aspects of your business – your people. A PEO helps put that internal structure in place.

If you have questions about how a PEO relationship works, please contact me, Scott Ingram, at 317-585-1688.

Top 6 Ways a PEO Helps You Grow Your Business

What Size Is the Right Size for a PEO?

peo and employee numbers

I am often asked what size company needs a PEO. Is it the right fit for startups as well as big corporations? When does it not make sense? Due to broad issues including health care reform and the nature of the modern workforce, my answer to that question is changing. Here is a by-the-numbers approach to sizing up a PEO for your business. But first, a little about healthcare reform.

What Healthcare Reform Means to the Numbers

In three words, the Affordable Care Act makes answering the question of what size company needs a PEO much more difficult. With healthcare legislation, the importance of a PEO grows as there is an additional layer of compliance related to health benefits. Compared to staff size, the more important question business owners need to ask themselves is: “Who is going to be my expert on healthcare reform?” With many changes on the horizon, businesses need to consider if it makes sense to use a PEO to handle all of those things an internal person doesn’t need to be learning and focusing on.

3-5 Employees

A PEO model makes a lot of sense for many startup companies with as few as 3-5 people on staff. These businesses are focused on providing a service or product that will help them get off the ground and grow. They aren’t resting on laurels or riding any easygoing waves of revenue growth. A PEO is a good fit because it allows entrepreneurs and small business owners to keep their eyes on the ball doing what they love instead of worrying about benefits, federal regulations and payroll.

Owners of emerging companies and startups typically can see the value of outsourcing their HR. PEOs are good at working with rapidly growing businesses that need to focus on raising money and reinvesting so they can grow. PEOs understand that. As the business grows, a PEO’s service to that business tends to grow as well.

20-75 Employees

This is a PEO’s sweet spot. When a business has 20-75 employees, a full-service PEO can do everything it is made to do for a client. The PEO can be fully engaged in every aspect of the client’s HR.

This is the kind of business that needs every part of a PEO: HR management, benefits, payroll, risk management and retirement services. They are big enough to feel the growing pains of having employees, yet they aren’t so big that a full-service PEO that carries many of the risks associated with having a staff isn’t the best fit. This category covers most of Servant HR’s current clients.

75-200 Employees

When a company has 75-200 employees, discussions usually start within its finance department to determine if it makes sense to go out and hire a full-time HR expert. This analysis is legitimate — but requires a complete analysis of the costs and benefits of such a decision.

A company must avoid the misconception that anyone with HR experience can do the job well. If you are going to keep your HR services in house, be sure your hire is a highly qualified expert. When you have an HR generalist or a less experienced person, you are losing out on a PEO’s experience solving HR challenges on a daily basis in many different industries. In many cases, this kind of hire isn’t economically feasible, which brings companies back to the PEO model.

As a company continues to grow, it may be able to pay a professional HR person to handle at least 20 hours of task-oriented HR work as well as more strategic recruitment and training. That makes sense. The question to answer is what happens as the company continues on the upswing and those necessary tasks become too much for one person — at least this highly qualified person you hired to handle all of your HR needs. Does the business owner want this person to focus on payroll and worker’s comp, which have to be done, or more strategic areas such as development and coaching? What is the priority? When this tipping point begins to happen, these are the sorts of things business owners need to consider and a PEO still remains of great value.

200+ Employees

Once a company gets past 200 employees, it almost always has internal HR people. Different tax advantages for companies of this size also come in to play when considering whether a PEO is the right choice. Often, it makes sense to move from a PEO model into an ASO (Administrative Services Organization) model. What that means is the HR service provider meets the administrative and HR needs of the client while the client retains all employment-related risks and liabilities.

If you are asking yourself whether a PEO is a good fit for you, contact me, Scott Ingram, at 317-585-1688 to find out more.


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