How to Keep Your Employees Motivated This Summer

Over the coming months, the warm weather and eagerly anticipated outdoor activities of summer may take a toll on your workers’ concentration. If you begin to notice a lack of focus among your employees, consider the following ideas to help keep them motivated:

  1. Encourage your employees to step outside for at least 15 minutes each day. Exposure to natural sunlight can prevent workers from feeling confined to the office during the warm summer months. Holding business meetings outside may also help to boost workers’ morale.
  2. Change things up! Employees may become more motivated when their jobs are more challenging and interesting. Consider lateral moves to build your workers’ skill levels and knowledge base.
  3. Create opportunities for casual interaction. A company sports team, a family day, or an outdoor after-hours social event can keep your employees engaged and build camaraderie in the workplace.
  4. Consider flexible working arrangements. Arrangements such as flextime or staggered work hours may allow employees to enjoy summer activities and attend to family obligations, while coming to work refreshed. It’s a good idea for employers to work with a knowledgeable employment law attorney when creating policies on flexible working arrangements, to ensure policies and practices are in compliance with the law and do not unlawfully discriminate against certain employees

Execupay Introduces Branded & Integrated Payroll for hCentive

Execupay and hCentive have partnered to provide All in one platform with Benefits and Payroll to employers and employees

Execupay’s integration for hCentive benefits both HR departments and the employees. For the HR professional, hCentive’s Uzio Payroll offers a full-service online payroll experience, which includes dedicated, highly trained, payroll support, automated tax services and seamlessly synced payroll data for one system of record.

“Uzio is excited to partner with Execupay, as it would help us serve our customers better,” said Ashish Jaiswal, Head of Product at Uzio. “Our HR and Benefits platform and Execupay’s payroll management technology will enable Uzio to deliver a unified customer experience for our broker partners, employers and employees.”

Execupay’s Channel Partnership program enables industries such as financial institutions, brokers, accountants, retailers and franchisors to offer white-labeled Payroll & HR Services to their businesses customers changing the way their customers think about Payroll. With “Powered by Execupay”, companies have the option to offer branded payroll and HR services without the investments in product or staffing, while strengthening their customers relationship with their brand.  With customized sales material, websites and more, Execupay handles all aspects of the offering from sales to implementation to service for their partners, all backed by a White Glove Service promise.  “Powered by Execupay” is the easiest way for any business to offer payroll and HR service to their small business customers.

“Customer success is the topmost priority for Uzio, including our partnership with Execupay,” said Sushant Jha, Business Head, Uzio. “Our collaboration will empower our mutual customers to manage employee benefits and payroll in more effective ways.”

About Execupay
Execupay has been a trusted leader in providing payroll and HR Solutions for both small and medium sized businesses since 1974, covering payroll, time and labor management, talent acquisition, talent management, and more for thousands of businesses and millions of employees.  Execupay couples innovative products with white glove customer service to empower customers, allowing them to focus on growing their business.   Learn more about Execupay at execupay.com, get great payroll and HR advice at execupay.com/blog and follow us on Twitter at @execupay.

About Uzio (powered by hCentive)
At Uzio (www.uzio.com) we provide the best technology platform for broker, employers and employees. Uzio transforms brokers into a digital broker and helps them differentiate from the “pen & paper” based brokers. Our technology will enable brokers to provide a fast and efficient deployment of the benefits in a true digital landscape that simplifies the clients’ experience. Impress your peers and clients with state of the art technology! Uzio’s empowering partnership helps brokers, grow revenue and acquire new clients.

For SMB’s looking to provide comprehensive benefits in a cost-effective way, UZIO provides a marketplace of products and partners, which simplifies the benefits management by combining the power of technology and the experience of the local Brokers.

Sebastiaan Pleij
Design & Marketing Manager at Execupay, Inc.
877-366-9511
sebastiaan.pleij@execupay.com

Sunny Arora
Sr. Director, Marketing at hCentive, Inc
sunny.arora@hcentive.com

Some Updates For the 2018 Tax Year

2018 Federal Tax Withholding Guidance Released

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released Publication 15 (Circular E), Employer’s Tax Guide, for use in 2018. This publication:

  • Details employers’ federal tax responsibilities;
  • Explains the federal requirements for withholding, depositing, reporting, paying, and correcting employment taxes;
  • Lists the forms employers must give to their employees, those that employees must give to the employer, and those that the employer must send to the IRS and Social Security Administration; and
  • Features the tax tables to calculate the taxes to withhold from each employee.

Publication Highlights
Highlights of the 2018 publication include the following:

  • Social Security and Medicare Tax for 2018. The Social Security tax rate is 6.2% each for the employee and employer. The Social Security wage base limit is $128,400. The Medicare tax rate is 1.45% each for the employee and employer. There is no wage base limit for the Medicare tax.
  • 2018 Withholding Tables. The publication includes the 2018 Percentage Method Tables and Wage Bracket Tables for Income Tax Withholding.
  • Withholding Allowance. The 2018 amount for one withholding allowance on an annual basis is $4,150.

DOL Updates Employer CHIP Notice

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has updated its model notice for employers to provide information on eligibility for premium assistance under Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This notice is generally updated twice a year. Click here to download the updated notice in PDF format.

Annual Notice Requirement
Employers that provide health insurance coverage in states with premium assistance through Medicaid or CHIP must provide employees with the Employer CHIP notice annually before the start of each plan year. An employer can choose to provide the notice on its own or concurrent with the furnishing of:

  • Materials notifying the employee of health plan eligibility;
  • Materials provided to the employee in connection with an open season or election process conducted under the plan; or
  • The summary plan description (SPD).

The updated model notice includes information on how employees can contact their state for additional information and how to apply for premium assistance, with information current as of January 31, 2018.

 

What Makes Employees Leave and What You Can Do About It

Today, we’re going to discuss a recent survey conducted by LinkedIn, the leading social networking site for businesses. According to LinkedIn’s findings, 85% of the global workforce is actively looking for a new job, reaching out to personal networks, or remaining open to speak with recruiters. And this number includes those employees who say they are satisfied with their current jobs.

As managers and HR professionals, you’re right to be concerned when you hear that number. Think about it: more than 8 in 10 of your employees are looking for a new job or are open to leaving your company.

But why? And what can you do about it?

Fortunately, LinkedIn dug a little deeper when they surveyed 18,000 fully-employed professionals across 26 countries, including the US, Australia, Canada, India, and the U.K. These individuals were either actively seeking their next role or were passive employees-meaning they were reaching out to their personal network or were open to talking to a recruiter – here’s what they had to say, in order of importance…

Passive Employees:

  1.     Better Compensation and Benefits
  2.     Better Work/Life Balance
  3.     Better opportunities for Advancement

Actively Looking Employees:

  1.     Greater Opportunities for Advancement
  2.     Better Compensation and Benefits
  3.     More Challenging Work

Taken together, these findings identify areas that you, as a manager or supervisor, should pay careful attention to. To begin, make sure that your employees are being paid and compensated competitively and that they are aware of their opportunities for advancement.

ABC’s of Minimizing Workplace Stress


Did you know that work is the second most common source of stress after money?  Worries about workload, job security, or work/life balance can all take a toll on your employees, causing symptoms such tension and irritability, inability to make decisions or concentrate, feelings of powerlessness and anger, physical ailments, and risky behaviors such as increased use of alcohol and drugs or even violence– none of which make for a happy and productive workplace.

Of course, certain industries and work environments–such as restaurants, emergency rooms, and retail stores–can be inherently stressful, and every employee has his or her own threshold for tolerating and managing stress. And facing challenges at work or short-term bouts of stress can be part of building a career. However, left unresolved, workplace stress can damage your bottom line.

As a manager, there are things you can do to help employees cope. Stress management should be an important part of your overall health and wellness efforts. Your individual solutions will be unique to your business, but use the ABCs as your guide.

Senior executives and managers need to recognize when workplace stress is hampering morale and productivity, and publicly commit to addressing the problem.

Acknowledgement

Senior executives and managers need to recognize when workplace stress is hampering morale and productivity, and publicly commit to addressing the problem.

Brainstorming

Meet with your managers and employees at all levels to find out precisely what is causing them stress. It could be unrealistic deadlines, lack of training or management support, or being understaffed. Candid responses are essential, and employees must be assured that they will not be penalized for feedback. Ask your employees what they suggest to improve the situations that trigger stress. If necessary, hire an outside party to conduct the session so your employees can speak freely. Let them know that feedback is an ongoing process, and you want to keep the lines of communication open.

Creative Solutions

As you implement programs, you need to get creative. Consider adjusting work hours, shifting employees internally or hiring part-time help for crunch periods. Give extra breaks during the day to allow your employees to stretch and refocus, and make it fun. Your break room is a great spot to foster personal interaction, so if your business allows, make it an engaging place to be with fun lighting, comfortable seating, or even a billiards, ping pong, or foosball table to let your employees blow off steam. Far from being time-wasters, these features can foster teamwork and creative thought. If it’s solitude your employees seek, offer them a quiet space to rest and recharge. You can also host informal, company-sponsored opportunities for employees to bond and socialize outside of work, such as a pizza party, bowling night, or trip to a sporting event.

Finally, remember that in some cases workplace stress may be part of a more serious psychological issue or disorder. This is not something to ignore or assume will get better on its own. Employees who are struggling should be handled with care and referred to an employee assistance program, or EAP, for professional assistance. For more information on workplace stress, employee wellness, and EAPs, visit us online at execupay.com

5 Tips to Successful Company Communication

According to management expert and dean of Harvard Business School, Nitin Nohria, communication is the real work of leadership. And that doesn’t apply only to Fortune 500 companies. No matter the size of the organization, effective managers must be strong communicators to inspire and lead their teams. Unfortunately, with day-to-day business demands, communication skills are getting short shrift at too many companies. Today we’re going to give you a communication tune-up—a set of strategies and suggestions that will help keep your communications efforts on point.

1. Understand that whether you realize it or not, you’re always communicating. Your office environment, corporate culture, and treatment of customers and employees all say a lot about your company. Each of these contributes to your overall reputation in the marketplace or, if you prefer, your brand. As Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, says, “Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.” So pay some attention to those branding elements, and make sure that the communications you telegraph are in line with your desired goals and reputation.

2. Encourage regular and ongoing feedback from managers and supervisors to employees. This should include both positive and negative, or constructive, feedback. Remember, no employee likes to be ambushed at review time with the news that he or she has underperformed or failed to meet a goal. The time to communicate this information is while the employee can actually do something to change the situation. Equally important, provide the resources necessary for your employees to make the changes and improvements you request.

3. Pay attention to the language you use. In today’s modern workplace, we recognize that certain terms or phrases might be considered offensive or derogatory, and we don’t use them. Similarly, we must be sensitive to how our language is perceived and make adjustments. Psychologists and corporate trainers have long touted the use of “I” statements to communicate without triggering a defensive response. For example, a boss telling an employee, “You didn’t do this project correctly,” lands very differently than, “I was hoping to see this project handled in a different way.” Both statements communicate that the project in question did not meet the boss’ expectations, but in very different fashions. The “I” statement is likely to lead to further positive engagement with the employee. Similarly, consider using the tried and true “sandwich method” of constructive criticism, where you bookend the area to be improved between two positives. For example, “I really like how you ran that seminar. I’d like to see more detail when discussing the financials, but I’m sure you can easily make that change for the next session.” This is so much more effective than saying, for example, “You left out the financials! Fix it!”

4. Listen. Your ability to listen to employees’ cares, concerns, and issues—and let them know that you’re paying attention and responding—is absolutely essential. In one-on-one or small group settings, remember to practice active listening. Make understanding the speaker your primary goal; do not be judgmental; give the speaker your undivided attention; and don’t interrupt. Rather, signal your agreement or input through body language, eye contact, nodding, or even words like “uh huh.”

Along that vein, make sure you provide ample opportunity for your employees to share their concerns and issues to a receptive audience. Just as a supervisor should deliver constructive criticism all year long, so should employees be given a venue to deliver their own input. This could take the form of open-door policies for access to a boss or manager; town-hall style meetings where the company or specific departments meet with higher-ups in groups and ask questions; formal surveys that solicit employee opinions; or even the tried and true suggestion box, which can be anonymous. Of course, make sure you communicate back to employees any answers, solutions, or policy changes that come about as a result of their feedback.

5. Be clear, correct, and consistent in all your communications. Provide simple directions and easy-to-understand explanations in all forms of communications, both external and internal. Use good grammar and check for errors in spelling and usage by asking a colleague to proofread it. Also, if you have an employee handbook, update it regularly to ensure that its contents are current and in compliance with applicable law. You should also take care to make sure that your communications are consistent across platforms—for example, a policy or procedure in the employee handbook should be echoed on the company intranet, in memos, in emails, and in all verbal communications.

Indeed, effective employee communication has many dimensions, and it must be an ongoing goal and effort at your organization. But keeping the basics in mind, and practicing them in your daily interactions, will serve you well. As we said earlier, you are always communicating—but how well and effectively you do it are up to you. To learn more about HR and benefits management, including how to manage the performance review process, visit us online at execupay.com

Office Romance. Did You Get the Memo?

Image result for office romance

Office romance is becoming increasingly more common. But whether or not workplace romances lead to wedded bliss, they must be handled with care.

Office romance can provide a unique set of challenges to both parties involved, as well as to their supervisors and HR managers. Indeed, no matter how discreet or consensual, these relationships come with some built-in pitfalls. First and most simply, office romances can become a distraction. They can harm the productivity of both the parties involved and their immediate colleagues. Nobody is immune to office gossip…and a budding romance makes for compelling water cooler chat.

More seriously, an office romance can lead to the perception—real or imagined—of favoritism. When a romance occurs between colleagues at different levels of the company, or when one is in a position to positively influence the career, compensation or opportunities for advancement of the other, the perception of favoritism can arise. This is, of course, particularly an issue when the relationship occurs between an employee and his or her supervisor, or someone up the chain of reporting.

A related pitfall is the possibility of damaged credibility or reputation for both the individuals involved as well as the department or company as a whole. Individuals who are dating colleagues may be perceived as less professional for mixing business and pleasure, or even as using their romantic liaisons to advance their position. Next, consider what could happen if a workplace romance turns sour. With a breakup comes the possibility of hard feelings, a stressful environment, disruption of work and productivity or even the potential loss of a valued employee who seeks employment elsewhere to distance him or herself from a former romantic partner. Most seriously, an office romance that ends less than amicably can have significant legal consequences.

Let’s take a moment to discuss sexual harassment, which is illegal under federal law and the law in most states. Simply defined, sexual harassment is any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that either results in a hostile work environment and/or results in a tangible employment action, such as a firing, promotion or demotion based on the employee’s submission to or refusal of sexual advances. In addition, a relationship gone sour can provoke illegal behavior such as threats, unwanted contact or other forms of harassment that don’t belong in a workplace or anywhere else.

So what can you do as a supervisor or HR manager to minimize these pitfalls? First, develop a policy on interoffice dating and relationships, and publish it in your employee handbook. While you cannot regulate employees’ off-site behavior and personal choices, you can clearly state that disruption or distraction due to office romance will not be tolerated. You can also prohibit relationships between supervisors and their direct reports, or between any individuals in a chain of command. Outline a procedure for helping such individuals find different positions within the company or, as a last resort, employment elsewhere. Explain your company’s commitment to integrity and professionalism, both internal and external.

Finally, draft, publish and distribute a zero-tolerance policy for sexual or any other kind of harassment in the workplace, including threats or intimidation. Remember, in some instances, the liability for charges of sexual harassment or a hostile work environment could land on the employer…so you must work to avoid these situations. With a strong policy and good communication in place, you have a great chance of smoothing out any disruption and threats office romance might pose to your organization. For more information, and to learn more about sexual harassment, visit us online at www.execupay.com.

How to Manage the “Excuse Maker”

Image result for making excuses

Ben Franklin may have been right when he said, “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.”  But Franklin’s adage is cold comfort to managers whose employees always seem to have an excuse for failing to meet expectations.  Luckily, there are strategies to help managers turn repeat excuse-makers into productive team members, before giving up on them completely.

Make sure to give clear direction. If your employee often says he couldn’t get the project done because the assignment wasn’t clear, you may be dealing with someone who—at least for the moment—needs more detailed directives than your other team members.  It’s also possible that your directions were, in fact, unclear.  Break down long assignments into smaller tasks, and review them carefully with the employee, giving pointers on the most efficient approach.

Be involved.  The employee might not fully understand the expectations and duties of her position.  Or she may lack the confidence to take the initiative and tackle obstacles independently.  Micromanaging gets a bad rep, but sometimes weaker members of your team need closer oversight than others. Schedule status updates with the employee, during which you can help address roadblocks on projects as they arise and guide the employee to next steps. Daily “standing meetings,”—brief, informal gatherings where team members stand and talk about problems encountered or tasks completed—can be useful for this purpose.

Even if your excuse-maker is really just shirking responsibility, these regular check-ins will show her you’re paying attention. They’ll also allow you to keep tabs on the project, so you won’t get a nasty surprise at deadline.  Which leads us to our next point …

Demand a “heads up.” Emphasize that you need to know in advance when the employee suspects an assignment won’t be finished on time. Tell the employee that armed with advance notice, you can do your job as manager—bringing in extra help, getting hold of needed materials–whatever is necessary to get the project done.

Explain the consequences. Give the employee the motivation to perform by pointing out the ramifications of his missed deadlines or incomplete work. Convey the message that repeated failures to complete projects on time and as expected will impact the employee’s performance review.

You can couch this in a positive way as well, by pointing out that meeting deadlines with quality work paves the way for recognition and advancement in the company.

Also make sure the employee understands the wider negative effects of missed deadlines–on the team, department, company and client.

Don’t let it slide. If you make a habit of accepting excuses, you’re enabling the behavior, which will likely continue. Failing to deal with the situation head-on is also unfair to employees who do pull their weight, and who may become excuse-makers themselves. After all, why should they pick up the slack for a slacker?

So keep track of your troublesome employee’s excuses, and put them under a spotlight.  The next time the employee blames traffic for being late to work, point out how many times he has used that excuse in the past week, month, or quarter.  If the employee blames someone else for a missed deadline, call or email that person—in the employee’s presence—to get the other side of the story.

Finally, try turning the tables on the employee. Ask the excuse-maker to figure a way out of the hole she has dug, for you and anyone else affected by the incomplete work. The visuals aren’t ready for tomorrow’s client presentation? You’re out of supplies, but the supply contract hasn’t been finalized? How does the employee propose to deal with the situation?  This strategy forces the employee to take responsibility for her lax attitude. She may not be able to come up with a workable solution, but the exercise should help her understand how important it is to the company that she do her job well.

To learn more about HR and benefits management, including progressive discipline, visit us online at execupay.com

5 Tips to Help Managers Minimize Lawsuits

Image result for bexar county courthouseGreat managers are skilled at connecting with employees and motivating them to work productively as part of a team. Having strong managers is essential for building your company’s profitability and reputation as a great place to work. However, even great managers, with the best of intentions, can inadvertently make mistakes that might expose your company to lawsuits and fines.

Employee lawsuits are an unfortunate reality in today’s workplace, and a source of concern to employers. Even a completely baseless suit can cost six figures to defend; if there’s merit behind the charges, the legal bills, fines, and settlement fees can ruin a small business. Your managers, who are the first line of employee contact, have the power to minimize some of that exposure.

Let’s take a look at five moves your managers can make to reduce your risk of a lawsuit.

1. Document Everything. This starts with the interview and extends to every aspect of management and supervisory functions. Remember, any document can potentially be used as a piece of evidence in the event of a lawsuit, so managers must be thorough. As an employer, stress the importance of documentation, provide forms and guidelines for managers to follow, and establish procedures for where and how long such documents will be stored, being sure to comply with any requirements set by law. Furthermore, ask your managers to be honest in all aspects of documentation. Many managers, for example, are tempted to gloss over areas of weakness in written performance reviews. While they may be motivated out of kindness toward the employee, they are actually putting their companies at risk in the event such an individual is eventually fired. In all cases, the records must be accurate.

2. Understand Discrimination and Harassment Laws. There are numerous federal and state laws that offer protection from discrimination based on gender, race, age, religion, disability, ethnic or cultural background, sexual orientation and other factors. Make sure your managers receive anti-discrimination training and know what they can and cannot ask or require of their employees. A simple remark, made casually, could wind up being the basis of a lawsuit. Similarly, your managers need to understand the laws surrounding sexual harassment in the workplace, how to prevent it from occurring, and what steps should be taken if an employee complains of harassment. Even behavior that may be the norm in your organization or corporate culture could be perceived as crossing the line, and may trigger a lawsuit.

3. Follow Appropriate Disciplinary Procedures. If you do not already have such procedures in place, consider developing a progressive discipline policy and direct your managers on how to implement it consistently and fairly. For example, an employee with a performance or behavioral issue will first receive a verbal warning, then a written warning. If the underperformance or behavior persists, the issue will then be elevated to another level of supervision or management intervention. Under no circumstances should a manager fire an employee on his or her own. Even the most egregious infractions should be dealt with according to proper procedures.

4. Understand and Administer Corporate Policy. Every organization should maintain and distribute a print or digital format corporate handbook. The policies outlined in that document are the blueprint to how your organization is run, and the handbook itself can become a legal piece of evidence in the case of a lawsuit where an employee claims that he or she has been treated unfairly.

5. Display Fairness, Approachability, Accountability. These personal attributes will go a long way toward both managing effectively and building goodwill among employees. This is particularly true when an employee has a complaint or issue, or when something goes wrong. No matter how busy a manager may be with other responsibilities, he or she must make time to listen and work with employees who have complaints or problems. Similarly, when mistakes are made, a strong manager will take responsibility for his or her part in the situation when appropriate, rather than deflect blame onto those employees under the manager’s supervision.

Remember, there is no magic formula for perfect management, and no guarantee that your company won’t become the target of an employee lawsuit. But taking time to help your managers cover these bases will go a long way toward protecting your company and your future.

10 Fun Facts About Payroll

Image result for fun business ownersThis week, businesses everywhere are re-evaluating their Payroll and HR providers or making the decision to outsource. While technology has made it easier than ever for HR teams to pay their employees, crunching the numbers can still be a laborious task for payroll professionals. Execupay offers you your own personal Payroll team to help you however you need it. Want to look into how to switch to Execupay and evaluate pricing? Head here.

To help you celebrate, we’ve rounded up 10 fun facts about payroll.

Fact 1: National Payroll Week was founded by The American Payroll Association in 1996. It is designed to celebrate the partnership between America’s workers, companies, payroll professionals, and government aid programs such as social security and Medicare. The weeklong event even has its own theme song.

Fact 2: President Roosevelt raised the top tax rate to 79 percent for Americans making over $5 million in 1935, but it only applied to one person at that time—John D. Rockefeller.

Fact 3: The Payday candy bar was invented in 1932. At first, the inventors didn’t know what to call their new creation. It happened to be payday, so one of them suggested they call it a Payday bar—and the rest is history!

Fact 4: The most common pay frequency in the U.S. is biweekly, which is used by 37 percent of private businesses. Surprisingly, weekly beats semimonthly as a runner-up at 32 percent.

Fact 5: 78.2 million workers in the U.S. are hourly employees. This represents nearly 60 percent of all wage and salary workers.

Fact 6: According to ancient “paystubs,” employees in Egypt and Mesopotamia used to be paid in beer and other commodities.

Fact 7: Many employees still receive paper checks, largely because around 20 percent of U.S. households are “unbanked” or “underbanked,” meaning they either don’t own or don’t regularly use a checking or savings account.

Fact 8: The first employee time clock was built by Willard Legrand Bundy and was patented in 1891. At the time, it was dubbed the the “Workman’s Time Recorder.” You can actually view the original patent illustrations here.

Fact 9: In the 1890s, American was deeply divided over whether the nation should support its currency with gold (supporters were known as “gold bugs”) or with gold and silver (“silverites”). This question became a deciding factor in the 1896 presidential election. Ultimately, the gold bugs triumphed with the election of William McKinley.

Fact 10: The President of the United States earns an annual salary of $400,000 during his or her term, and an annual pension of about $200,000 after leaving office.

These are just a few interesting facts about Payroll and it’s history. Make your former Payroll Provider history and switch to us. You can learn more about how Execupay helps build, pay, manage, and retain your team at the link here.