Month: March 2014

How to Fire an Employee

by National Peo National Peo No Comments

There’s a wrong way and a right way to fire an employee. Do it the wrong way, and you could ruin your company’s reputation and deter new job candidates. Do it the right way, and you and your former employee can at least part ways with a minimum of hard feelings and some mutual respect. It is almost the end of the month and of the first quarter of 2014 (it also happens to be a Friday today), so if you’re thinking about firing an employee here are some guidelines that can help you avoid some of the common pitfalls of letting someone go.

Do It in Person, Face-to-Face

When you fire an employee, it’s absolutely vital that you do it in person, to the employee’s face. Don’t do it on the phone. Don’t do it via email. Don’t do it over Skype. Don’t send a letter or a text. Your employee is about to be out of a job, standing on the unemployment line— you owe this person the respect of a face-to-face chat.

Remember, even if the employee hasn’t worked hard for your company, he or she probably feels different. If you fail to handle the firing with dignity, your former employee will remember it for the rest of his or her life — as will the other employees. By failing to show your soon-to-be-former employee the proper respect, you could damage company morale and start nasty rumors. The disgruntled ex-employee might even retaliate, which in the age of social media, could harm your company’s image permanently.

Have a Witness Present

When you fire someone, you’re making yourself vulnerable to a wrongful termination lawsuit. It doesn’t really matter whether the firing was actually illegal or not. A disgruntled former employee can still decide to find a lawyer who will take his or her case. To protect yourself, it’s best if you have someone else present when you terminate an employee.

A second person in the room can be a witness just in case you wind up in court. Even without a court case, your witness can help you out if necessary. That’s one of the benefits of contracting the services of a PEO — you’ll have a professional with experience in these matters to turn to for help if you need it.

Don’t Fire Someone Out of the Blue

Unless your employee is guilty of willful wrong-doing, you should provide some sort of feedback and coaching process first, before you fire him or her. Everyone makes mistakes, and it takes time and money to fill a position after you terminate someone. It’s really in your best interest to give the employee a chance to improve instead of firing him or her right away.

This also means you should support and assist your employee to help him or her improve, too. It’s not fair if you don’t do your best to support the failing employee’s performance, and it could give him or her grounds for a lawsuit later. Make your requirements for improvement measureable and specific and document each step of the feedback and coaching process.

Do the Firing in Private

Firing an employee right out in plain sight of all the other workers can breed resentment and distrust among those who remain, and it gives your former employee reason to be bitter. Take the employee aside, into an office, or conference room to deliver the bad news. He or she deserves the chance to process the news in private.

Keep It Short and Sweet

You don’t need to go into long-winded and excruciating detail when you fire an employee, especially since you should have already given plenty of feedback prior. The employee probably understands all too well why he or she is being fired. Deliver the news quickly and concisely and keep the conversation moving forward.

There probably will be a conversation. Even though your employee probably understands why he or she is being fired, the shock will prompt him or her to ask why. Reiterate that you’ve already given feedback on the employee’s performance issues, and emphasize that his or her performance still doesn’t meet company standards for the position. Wish the employee luck. Make it clear that the decision is final.

Don’t Let the Employee Return to His or Her Work Station

Your employee may be upset when he or she is terminated. Avoid upsetting the other employees, and preserve the former employee’s dignity, by making other arrangements for the employee to collect his or her things. Offer to let the employee come back after hours, or on a weekend, to get his or her stuff, or send the possessions to the employee’s home. Make sure you collect all of your company property, files, documents and materials before the employee leaves. If he or she insists on picking up his or her things right away, accompany him or her back to his or her work station.

Firing an employee isn’t easy, but sometimes it just has to be done. If you’re one of the many employers who hate firing people, we can help. It’s one of the many services we offer.

5 Ways to Keep Your Employees Happy

by National Peo National Peo No Comments

The success of your company depends on your employees, and you can’t afford to replace them frequently. It can cost you 1/5 of an average annual salary to replace a manager or other mid-level employee, and it takes time to find another employee who can meet your company’s needs. The best solution, obviously, is to keep your employees happy so they stick around.

How can you keep your employees smiling? It takes more than a few perks or a pay raise. Your employees need to feel challenged, they need to feel like they’re in the loop and they need to feel like they’re valued members of the team. Follow these tips to keep your employees happy, and your company will benefit from increased productivity and lower turnover.

Challenge Your Employees

The number one factor in employee retention is often how challenged your employees feel. Bored employees tend to look for other, better jobs where they can feel inspired, get out of their comfort zones, learn new things and become more valuable members of the work force. How would you feel if someone asked you to do the same repetitive tasks day in and day out, perhaps for the rest of your life?

Give your employees new responsibilities — ones that they can handle, of course and ones that will stretch their abilities and help them become more confident and more skilled. It will help them feel like a more valued part of the team, and will keep them from getting burnt out or quitting due to boredom.

Foster a Sense of Empowerment

No employee likes to be micromanaged. Trust your employees to solve their own problems and do their own jobs in their own ways. Foster individual responsibility in each and every one of your employees.

There are several ways to do this. One is to schedule regular interdepartmental meetings so that everyone can learn about what others in the company are working on. Encourage them to share their ideas, even interdepartmentally.

Another way to foster empowerment is to give your employees some measure of control over their work spaces. Let them choose their own work station arrangements — some employees might work better with a standing desk or a stability ball. Others might prefer to choose the paint or decorations in their offices. Having some control over his or her work space makes an employee more comfortable, and more productive.

Support a Cause

Younger employees especially like to feel that they’re making a difference in the world. That’s what makes philanthropic companies so successful. But you don’t have to re-imagine your entire corporate mission in order to become a more socially responsible enterprise.

Find some way that you and your employees can support a good cause while still getting your jobs done. Start a company fundraiser — get your employees involved in Movember, for example, or a raffle drawing. Maybe you could simply pledge to donate a certain percentage of your profits to everyone’s favorite worthy cause.

Prioritize Wellness

Healthy workers are happy workers; your employees can’t give the company their best if they’re not feeling well. Make sure your employees have comprehensive health benefits so they can get medical care when they need it, recover faster and be back to work sooner. Paid sick days let your employees stay home when they’re contagious, so you won’t have to worry about the whole office coming down with the flu from one person’s misguided devotion to work.

Many companies have wellness programs that include free gym memberships or access to exercise equipment on company property. The Affordable Care Act has implemented tax incentives that will make it easier for you to offer wellness programs to your employees.

Don’t work your employees too hard, either. Overworked employees get sick more often. They burn out faster, too. Encourage your employees to work a reasonable amount of hours each day and week and encourage them to take vacation days when they seem like they’re about to burn out.

Feedback, Feedback, Feedback

The dread that accompanies yearly performance reviews can be extremely demoralizing for employees who get no other form of feedback. What if they’ve been doing something wrong all this time? Could their mistakes be making them less valuable to the company? They have no idea — and no opportunity for improvement.

Don’t limit yourself to yearly performance reviews when it comes to employee feedback. Your employees, and your company, will benefit more from feedback if it’s given on a regular basis. Quarterly, monthly or even weekly feedback can help your employees correct performance issues sooner, before they become ingrained habits.

Keeping your employees happy helps keep your company strong. Give your employees what they need, and they’ll continue working hard for you for years to come.

Ease Your Benefits Burden: Outsource Workers’ Compensation

by National Peo National Peo No Comments

Running a small to medium-sized business entails many challenges, and complying with workers’ compensation regulations is one of them. As a business owner, you don’t have the time to focus on running your business and keeping up with ever-evolving statutes. Outsourcing your workers’ compensation administration takes a huge benefits burden off your shoulders, saves you time and money and helps guarantee you a happier, healthier work force.

When you hire a PEO to handle your workers compensation responsibilities, you’ll be putting professionals in charge of your claims administration, insurance and policy audits, and all your other financial details. Let our PEO handle all the heavy administrative lifting, so you can put your time, energy and attention where it belongs — on running your business.

Get Claims Handled Quickly

When an employee gets hurt at work, getting him or her the needed medical attention is a priority. The sooner you can get your employee taken care of, the sooner he or she returns to work, and the sooner the whole company can move on. When you outsource your workers’ compensation process to us, we’ll get your claims handled quickly and efficiently so you can get your injured employees healed up and back on the job.

Save Money

If you’re like most small or medium-sized business employers who handle their own workers’ compensation administration, you probably pay a deposit, followed by monthly or quarterly payments. You’ll then need to do an audit at the end of the year just to see whether you may have overpaid or fallen short.

You’re wasting time and money when you do it this way. When you outsource your workers’ comp to a PEO like ours, there’s no need for deposits, monthly or quarterly payments or end-of-the-year payroll audits. We’ll calculate your workers’ compensation payments at the end of each pay period based on your actual payroll numbers. Then we’ll let you know what your premiums are and you can pay exactly what you owe for your workers’ compensation costs — no less, no more.

Make Your Workplace Safer

When you outsource your workers’ compensation administration you’ll get valuable advice on how you can make your workplace safer. A safer workplace means fewer worker injuries and that means fewer workers’ compensation claims. Committing to a safety plan can lower your insurance payments and boost your employees’ morale. We’ll work with you to help you develop a workplace health and safety plan that can boost overall productivity and improve your bottom line.

There are plenty of ways in which you can make your workplace safer, too. Make sure all of your employees have the right uniforms and safety gear — that’s a given. Inspect your premises regularly to make sure everything’s in good shape. Put anti-slip rubber mats in front of exterior doors and in tiled corridors. Make sure smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are in good working order, and that you’re in compliance with all safety regulations — we’ll help you with that, of course.

Sometimes improving employee health and safety is as simple as encouraging better hygiene. Post hand-washing instructions in employee restrooms; washing your hands with soap and water is the single most important thing you can do to prevent the spread of illness.

Improve Employee Fitness

Did you know that under the Affordable Care Act, your business could get tax incentives for implementing employee wellness programs? Wellness programs keep your employees healthy and happy, so they can be more productive and work harder for your company. When you outsource your workers’ compensation administration with us, we can help you make sense of how the new health care reform law applies to your business and how you can take advantage of it to improve your employees’ health.

Employee wellness programs encourage your employees to exercise more often, and exercise improves balance and coordination. That means your employees are less likely to fall or injure themselves at work. Encouraging your employees to join a gym or learn about proper nutrition can help them cultivate more energy and that can mean dividends for your company.

Workers’ compensation administration tasks are complex and the risks of mishandling them are high. You could be vulnerable to fines and penalties if you don’t provide a safe work environment or process workers’ comp claims correctly. You could lose your best employees if your workplace is unsafe or if workers’ compensation is delayed or handled poorly. Give yourself a break when it comes to calculating premiums and filing claims. Put your workers’ compensation in the hands of professionals by contacting National PEO today as we know the employment laws and can help make sure your small to mid-sized business is in compliance with every one of them. You’ll save time and money and could possibly avoid a lot of trouble, too.

Common Payroll Mistakes And How to Avoid Them

by National Peo National Peo No Comments

If you own a small to mid-sized business, running your payroll operations in-house could be more trouble than it’s worth. If you make a mistake on an employee’s pay or fail to get payroll done in time, you could lose your employees’ trust or even your employees. That’s a hefty price to pay for doing your payroll yourself.

That’s not the only thing you risk by taking care of your payroll in-house. Forty percent of small businesses rack up payroll-related IRS penalties each year. The average penalty is $845. That’s a lot of money to spend on a mistake.

The IRS is cracking down on small businesses, and you don’t want to get caught in the crosshairs. Know what the most common payroll mistakes are — and what you can do to avoid them.

Setup Errors

If you payroll operation isn’t correctly set up, it doesn’t matter how carefully you calculate your employees’ wages or whether you get payroll done right on time each pay period. You need to register your business and set up your federal, state and local tax withholding correctly. You also need to make sure you classify your employees properly. You could be in big trouble with the IRS if you withhold the wrong amount from your employees for state and local income taxes, Medicare and Social Security. You also don’t want to get caught incorrectly classifying an employee as an independent contractor or vice versa.

Failing to Make Tax Deposits Correctly or on Time

Once you’ve set up withholding correctly and you’ve taken the proper amount from both your employees and your business, do you know what to do with that money?

You need to know when and how often you should be depositing your tax payments, what forms you need to use, and whether you should deposit the funds electronically or the old-fashioned way. There are many rules about this, and they can be confusing. One thing’s for sure, you’ll be penalized if you mess it up.

Forgetting to Record Payments

One of your employees wants a payday advance, and you’re in a hurry, so you quickly write out a check. Or it’s the holiday season and you’ve decided to give your employees gift cards this year instead of cash bonuses. Did you remember to record those in your payroll processing system? Many times a small business has found itself struggling to balance the books because of a forgotten record of a payment or two.

Doing Payroll Late

If you get into a hurry with your payroll calculations, you could pay someone too little or too much, and that will throw off your books and possibly damage employee morale. However, you can’t do payroll late, or you’ll be asking for a slew of disgruntled employees. Once you lose your employees’ trust, you could never get it back. Further, failing to do your payroll on time could mean late tax deposits, and IRS penalties.

Forgetting to Update State Unemployment Rates

Your state unemployment rate (SUI) rates can change over time. If you get a new rate from your state agency and you forget to change your payroll system accordingly, your filings will end up misconstrued. Naturally, you’ll get fined for that too.

Protect Yourself from Payroll Mistakes

Luckily, there’s an easy way to avoid payroll mistakes. You can outsource your payroll services to a professional employer organization like ours.

Outsourcing your payroll services saves you time that you’d otherwise spend working on, and no doubt struggling with, your payroll — and that includes all the hours you’d spend wondering and worrying if you did your payroll correctly. Outsourcing your payroll to a PEO is typically much cheaper than hiring a dedicated HR person, and you don’t have to worry about losing the employee to another company, to illness or to extended leave.

When you choose to outsource your payroll services, you don’t have to worry about incurring tax penalties or any other kinds of fines. Your payroll will be in the hands of professionals who know the tax and employment laws inside and out — and that’s even more important these days, when new legislation and health care reform are making employment law compliance more complicated than ever before.

There will be no worries about using the wrong tax tables, updating your payroll software or doing your calculations correctly. You won’t have to run yourself ragged trying to be an accounting expert on top of everything else you do for your business.

Best of all, you’ll be able to easily offer your employees great benefits like direct deposit and 401(k)s. Paychecks will be issued on time every month and there will be no mistakes, so your employees will be happy and you’ll be happy too.

More than a third of small businesses cough up tax penalties each year because of payroll mistakes. Don’t let it happen to you. Outsource your payroll services now, and get a professional in your corner.

5 Reasons to Outsource Unemployment Claims

by National Peo National Peo No Comments

No matter what the size of your business, handling unemployment claims is daunting. A single claimant can cost your company quite a bit of money, especially considering that the average unemployment claimant collects about $330 a week in benefits. Plenty of businesses overpay when it comes to unemployment claims, too — yearly unemployment-related overpayments by American businesses come to about $17.5 billion.

Thankfully, outsourcing your unemployment claims administration can save you money and time. PEOs have the expertise and resources your business needs to successfully and efficiently deal with unemployment claims in the cheapest way possible. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of outsourcing your unemployment claims administration process.

Put Your Unemployment Claims in the Hands of Professionals

As a business owner, you have enough on your mind without having to memorize all of your state’s unemployment regulations and procedures. A single HR employee might not be capable of handling your unemployment claims process all by him or herself, considering that he or she will also be juggling payroll, benefits, worker’s comp and more. What will you do if you lose your HR person for some reason? Bungling an unemployment claim could land you in some pretty hot water.

Unemployment claims administration is just one of many business administration processes you can outsource to a PEO. You’ll have all the benefits of a fully-staffed HR department at a fraction of the cost of a full annual salary and benefits for one or more HR employees. Even if you do have an HR person, working with a PEO can make it easier to give that person time off for vacation, maternity leave or FMLA leave.

Save Money on Unemployment Claims

When you’re running a business, every penny counts. So you don’t want yours to be one of those companies that spends 11.2 percent more than necessary on unemployment claims, do you?

When you outsource your unemployment claims administration you’ll save money not only on the administrative costs themselves, but on the claims, too. Outsourcing your unemployment benefits to a PEO is much cheaper than paying an internal employee to do them. If you have been using an internal employee to handle your unemployment claims, or if you’ve been handling them yourself, you’ll free up valuable time that you or your employees could spend on more important things, things related directly to your business operations.

You’ll get help auditing claims and deciding which claims are warranted and which are unwarranted. You’ll only pay what you owe on legitimate claims. That will save you money that you can reinvest in other areas of your business.

Get Help with Unemployment Hearings

Unemployment claims hearings are one of the most intimidating things you can face as an employer, but when you outsource your unemployment claims services, you can get advice about how to navigate unemployment hearings. It’s vital to prepare for an unemployment claim hearing in advance. You need to know what the hearing process entails. We can help you coordinate your efforts with the relevant folks and have all your documentation submitted as necessary, both before and during the hearing. You’ll know what questions you can expect to be asked during the hearing and you’ll be able to prepare yourself with answers ahead of time. Being prepared is the best way to feel confident during the hearing and achieve a good outcome.

Manage Unemployment Taxes

Outsourcing your unemployment claims administration can also help you get tax management assistance. You need to know what unemployment tax rates you should be paying, especially since these rates can change from one state to the next and over time. You may also want help with tricks and tips to help you save on your unemployment tax contributions.

Stay Ahead of the Curve with Employment Law Advice

When you outsource your unemployment benefit claims administration, you can even get advice on every aspect of employment law compliance, including hiring, firing and disciplining your employees. Today’s companies must comply with an absolutely overwhelming number of employment regulations, and with the new health care reform coming in, things are getting even more complicated. It’s enough to make your head spin. But you don’t have to deal with it alone.

Outsource your unemployment claims administration and be assured you’re always in compliance with employment regulations when you hire, fire, discipline and manage an employee. In fact, if you want, we’ll take care of the hiring, firing and disciplining for you.

Outsourcing your unemployment benefits administration can free up time and money for your business. You’ll be able to focus on doing what you do best — running your business. You won’t have to worry about whether or not you’re in compliance with unemployment regulations or paying the right amount in taxes and fees. We’ll take care of the books, and let you take care of your company.

5 Ways to Create a Safe Work Environment

by National Peo National Peo No Comments

If you want to foster a safe work environment, you need to make a commitment to take safety seriously. Every member of the company, from the intern to the CEO, must understand that the health and safety of every worker is of the utmost importance. Every member of the company must be willing to make workplace health and safety a priority.

When you take measures to foster workplace safety, you help to keep your employees healthy, happy and on the job. The fewer injuries and illnesses your workers experience, the more productive they can be. Implementing an effective health and safety program can save your business four to six dollars for every dollar you put in. That just makes good financial sense. Plus, it’s the right thing to do. Let’s take a look at some ways you can foster a safe work environment at your company.

Use Safety Gear

Proper safety gear is imperative if you hope to foster a safe and healthy environment for your workers. Construction workers need hard hats, lab workers need safety goggles and rubber gloves, fire fighters need flame-retardant clothes and police officers need bulletproof vests.

You might not be running a lab, fire station or police force, but that doesn’t mean your workers don’t need safety gear too. Restaurant workers need slip-resistant shoes and the thick fabric of a chef’s coat to protect him or her from the heat of the stove. Office workers need ergonomic work stations. Cleaners ought to wear knee pads when they kneel down to scrub floors. Every job has its hazards. Find out what they are and what gear your employees need to protect themselves from occupational injury or illness.

Make sure your employees use their safety gear, too. It won’t do any good if they just toss it aside. Make it a matter of company policy. Put up signs and have your managers and supervisors take pains to enforce the regulations.

Maintain the Premises

Get your building inspected regularly to make sure that no new hazards emerge to threaten your workers. Find ways to improve the safety of the premises. Rubber padding on stairway steps, rock salt on wintry outdoor walkways or rubber mats to prevent falls can all go a long way toward keeping your employees safe.

Obey Health Codes

Of course health code standards are important, but it can be hard to get employees to follow health codes of which they’re not aware. That’s why you see notices in public restrooms advising employees to wash their hands. Find out what the health codes are in your area and post notices in the workplace. Simply encouraging your employees to wash their hands regularly can go a long way toward preventing the spread of illness and keeping everyone in the workplace healthy. Post tips for effective hand washing in company restrooms.

Perform Emergency Drills

Your place of business should have multiple clearly-labeled emergency exits, and you should take the time to have regular emergency drills. It might seem like a pain in the neck and a waste of company time, but emergency drills help all of your employees familiarize themselves with the locations of the emergency exits and the emergency exiting procedure. Holding a regular drill helps ensure that your employees will be able to stay calm in an emergency situation, and exit the building in an orderly fashion. Regular emergency drills save lives.

In addition to regular emergency drills, make a clear map of emergency exits available to all employees. Keep your smoke detectors up-to-date and loaded with fresh batteries. Install fire extinguishers and sprinklers. Follow your local fire codes when installing emergency equipment.

Get Everyone Involved

Workplace health and safety are crucial to keeping your employees happy and your company running smoothly. Make sure you abide by all local workplace safety regulations and post your company’s health and safety policy where everyone can see it. Get your employees involved to implement and improve the health and safety policies. You, your workers and your whole company will benefit from health and safety measures in the form of increased productivity, enhanced worker loyalty and cost savings. Make time on a regular once a month basis to discuss workplace safety policies and procedures with your employees as a group. The point of this exercise isn’t just to help reinforce procedures but to give your employees a chance to offer feedback. They may have observations or concerns that can help you improve your workplace safety policies and procedures. Your employees may be in a position to notice things that you haven’t and to point out areas where your workplace safety policies could use some work. They can also let you know what parts of your health and safety plan are going well.