Month: September 2015

Are Your Best Employees Leaving? You Could Be the Problem

by NPEO Media NPEO Media No Comments

Are Your Best Employees Leaving? You Could Be the Problem

One of the top issues facing any organization is the retention of top talent. It is one thing to attract and hire excellent employees — it is something else altogether to keep them happy, engaged, and loyal to your company.

Because the costs of losing a top performer is so high — the average financial cost to replace an employee is around $5,000, and that is not even considering the potential hit to morale and productivity — it is important to understand the most common reasons that people leave their jobs, an how to avoid them.

Reason #1: Too Many Policies

Some managers see policies as the defining line between a functioning organization and a free-for-all. Granted, some policies are important, as they provide structure to the organization and help ensure fairness and prevent legal problems.

However, when there is a policy for everything, and the employee handbook can be used as a doorstop, employees do not feel like they are trusted. Establishing too many policies creates an environment of fear, and no one wants to spend every day fearing a reprimand for a minor infraction.

Instead, trust your talent to perform, and give them some freedom. Individual problems may arise from time to time, but overall you will see an increase in satisfaction, engagement, and performance, as well as more long-term employees, when you limit the number of policies in place.

Reason #2: Failing to Support Engagement

It is a common refrain: “The recruiting process was great. It seemed like a great company to work for, but now that I am here, I am not so sure. I feel like I was thrown to the wolves.”

Keeping top talent requires more than enticing them with a good salary and benefits. It is important to foster engagement, and that includes:

  • Establish a relevant onboarding process. Integrating a new employee into your company is more than just paperwork formalities. The first few weeks can set the tone for the rest of someone’s time at your company, so it is important to take time to have conversations about how he or she fits into the bigger picture. Pair him or her with a mentor to help ensure a smooth transition, and make leaders available to answer questions and address concerns.
  • Provide training and development opportunities. A “sink or swim” approach to management is not going to keep people happy. Provide training from day one, and offer opportunities for your best people to develop their skills and talents.
  • Set goals and establish expectations. You have to give employees a reason to engage; otherwise, they become drones waiting for their paycheck. Work with them to establish goals and plans for achieving them, and make it clear why they are important to the mission. When employees feel that their contributions matter, they remain engaged.


Reason #3: Failure to Adhere to the Psychological Contract

Employers and employees have a psychological contract, an implicit agreement that the expectations and needs of both sides will be met.

From an employee’s standpoint, those expectations may be to grow in his or her career and earn a promotion while doing meaningful work. An employer expects diligence and commitment to the organization.

A breakdown on either side of the contract leads to problems. Employees who do not feel that their employers are holding up their end of the deal — for example, it becomes clear that a promotion is never going to happen, despite it being dangled like a carrot for months on end — are likely to become disenchanted and will begin looking for other opportunities. Employers who want to keep top talent, therefore, need to understand and acknowledge the psychological contract, and make sure it is healthy and everyone’s needs are being met.

Reason #4: Poor Leadership

There are dozens of theories and millions of pages written about leadership, but despite all of the training and resources available, poor leadership still abounds in many companies — and it is driving people away. Leaders who do not effectively manage conflict — or even “stir the pot” via their own actions, fail to trust their employees, do not listen, are not willing to accept new ideas, or lack consistency are routinely cited as the reason employees leave their jobs.

If your employees do not have strong leaders, they will not succeed, so it is important to ensure that managers are up to the task and receive ongoing training and support to ensure that they keep the best employees happy and engaged, and not looking for new opportunities.

Reason #5: Lack of Opportunity

Very few people take a job expecting that it will be their last. They want to move into new positions as they develop their skills, not stagnate in the same place they have been for years. Yet too many companies base promotions on seniority, not ability, or leaders hesitate to advance talent out of fear of competition or a desire to keep that talent for themselves. Even if a promotion is not possible, engaged employees want to take on new responsibilities and challenges, but when they are thwarted, dissatisfaction sets in. Keeping the best people under your roof requires giving them the chance to grow, not holding them back.

Of course, there are times when nothing is going to keep a top employee on staff — sometimes, other options are just too enticing to pass up. However, if you avoid the most common reasons that people leave their jobs, you will retain your top performers.

Why Staying Late Hurts Your Career

by NPEO Media NPEO Media No Comments

Why Staying Late Hurts Your Career

stayinglateIt is 6 pm. “Quitting time” was an hour ago, and yet you are still working at your desk. So are most of your employees — and it will be a few hours before everyone goes home. Most of you will be back in the office early tomorrow, too.

Ask yourself this: Is this really the environment you want to foster? Do you really want to be the type of boss who expects your employees to work 12, 16, even 18 hours a day? Is morale in your office as high as it could be? Is the productivity as high as it should be, given the number of hours that everyone works?

The fact is, staying late on a regular basis is more likely doing more harm than good, in terms of your overall career, your employees’ engagement and happiness, and the productivity of your department. While it might seem that working late is a sign of a solid work ethic and a hard-working department, it is actually a sign that your team is not healthy.

You Are Sending the Wrong Message

For years, young professionals have been advised on the first day of their first jobs to “Arrive before your boss, and do not leave until he or she does.” On the surface, that seems to make sense. You do not want to stroll in to the office an hour after everyone else and cut out at 4:30 when everyone else is working hard. However, if you are consistently working more hours than everyone else, and your productivity is not any greater or your results are not any better, your boss is likely to question what you are doing with your time when you seem to always be working.

The problem, though, is that employees often mirror their boss’ behavior. Most people want to impress their bosses, even if that means burning the midnight oil when they would much rather be at home relaxing. When you stay late every night, you send the message to employees that work is more important than anything else to you is, and it should be to them as well. You also, implicitly, let them know that if they want to succeed and have access to more opportunities — even a leadership role themselves — then they need to follow your lead.

Are you sending the wrong message? Studies show that staying late at the office on a regular basis:

    1. Harms productivity. When staying late is the rule rather than the exception, there is a tendency to push tasks off until later. It is too easy to say, “I will just get that done tonight,” as a means to give yourself permission to slack off during the day. As a result, it takes longer to get everything done. Committing to leaving on time forces you to be disciplined throughout the day, so you will forgo the long chats in the breakroom or the temptation to spend a half hour looking at Facebook.
    • Harms morale. Working late every night makes it virtually impossible to have any type of work-life balance, which is a key part of maintaining good morale. When employees have time outside of the office to pursue other interests, spend time with family, and relax and recharge, not only with their work quality improve, but they will be happier while they are at work. On the other hand, when employees feel like work has taken over their lives, they are likely to be resentful and disengaged.


  • Harms your health. Not only does staying at the office well past closing time hurt work life balance and mental health, it hurts you physically as well. Sitting for too long every day increases the risk of heart attack or stroke, and long workdays can interrupt your sleep. When you do not get enough sleep, mental acuity suffers, not to mention you have an increased risk of other serious diseases.



Leaving On Time: Easier Than You Think

You might be thinking, “I cannot leave on time! There is so much to do!” However, if you commit to leaving on time more often than not, a few simple strategies can help you get out the door.

  • Create schedules, and treat 5 p.m. as a deadline. If you retrain your mind to view the end of the day as a deadline, you will maintain more focus throughout the day. If you plan your day with the goal of leaving on time, you are more likely to make it happen.
  • Practice block scheduling. Set aside time each day to handle certain types of tasks. For example, schedule blocks in the morning and the afternoon to manage email and phone calls, and resist the temptation to “just check” throughout the day.
  • Create manageable to-do lists. You will not win a prize for having the longest list, so focus on the top priorities and let go of the little stuff.
  • Make plans after work. When you are scheduled to meet a friend or do something with your family, you are more likely to put in the effort required to leave on time.
  • Tell your employees to go home. Do not foster a culture in which people stay late for show.

Undoubtedly, there will be times when working a little longer than normal is necessary. However, if you leave on time more often than not, those occasional long days will not be as troublesome — and your employees will not resent you for them.

“I Quit!” What to Do When an Employee Resigns

by NPEO Media NPEO Media No Comments

“I Quit!” What to Do When an Employee Resigns

Iquite It is going to happen eventually: An employee is going to quit. Sometimes, it seemingly comes out of nowhere. Other times, you suspect that a resignation is coming soon, based on the person’s overall attitude and performance.

Regardless of the circumstances, though, how you handle the resignation as a manager can make a significant difference in how your team functions once the employee has left. Not to mention, your actions can have significant legal, security, and morale implications, so knowing what to do and when is important.

Phase 1: Accepting Notice

Rarely does an employee simply announce “I quit!” and leave the building in a blaze of glory. Anyone who values his or her career and wants to leave on good terms is going to give the appropriate notice.

When that happens, you have two options:

  1. Accept the resignation, and develop a plan for the employee to fulfill his or responsibilities over the next two to three weeks.
  2. Accept the resignation, and end employment immediately. Usually, the latter option is reserved for employees who have performance or other issues, and keeping him or her on staff any longer is only going to hurt morale or cause other problems.

In either case, request written notice of the resignation in addition to the verbal notice. Written notice will protect the company from claims of wrongful termination, unemployment compensation, or other claims of improper behavior.

Resist the temptation to make a counteroffer or otherwise tempt an employee to stay if he or she is leaving for another company. Chances are, when someone has made the decision to leave, they are already committed to the chance and a counteroffer is only going to muddy the waters. Not to mention, it sets a precedent for other employees to seek other opportunities as a means to get a raise or other benefits, which will only breed resentment.

Phase 2: Develop a Communication Plan

Because an employee’s resignation affects the entire team, it is important to handle communication about the change appropriately. Before the resigning employee leaves your office, come up with a communication plan to notify his or her co-workers, clients, and other interested parties. Decide whether you or the employee will make the announcement, when, and how much detail you will provide. It is likely that some or all of your team will have some knowledge of the employee’s plans, but give them the courtesy of making an official announcement.

Phase 3: Address the Transition

Once the news is out in the open, your remaining team members will most likely have concerns about who will handle the departing employee’s workload and the timeline for hiring someone new. It is unlikely that you will be able to hire a replacement in a few weeks, so develop a plan for handing off the work to other employees.

Ask the person leaving for a rundown of all of his or her projects and their status, as well as deadlines, and key contact information. You should also take an inventory of the employee’s skills and knowledge to ensure that the handoff goes smoothly. For example, if the resigning employee is the only person who knows how to use a particular computer program or is the only person who manages a specific task, schedule time for him or her to train someone else to complete the job. If necessary, and a manual does not already exist, a written guidebook with detailed instructions can go a long way to maintaining order once the employee leaves.

Phase 4: Paperwork

In most cases, when an employee resigns, you will need to notify HR in order to begin the process of terminating employment. This may include:

  • Scheduling an exit interview. In some organizations, someone other than the direct supervisor conducts this interview so the employee can feel more comfortable being honest.
  • Determining pay issues. You may need to submit information to payroll regarding unused vacation and sick time, termination dates, and other payment requirements. You may also need to sign paperwork related to COBRA or retirement plans.
  • Addressing security issues. When an employee leaves, it is important to collect security passes, change passwords, and restrict access to any sensitive information that he or she may have used on the job. Ex-employees actually represent a significant security risk to most companies, so be sure to close all of those loopholes to prevent even an accidental data breach.
  • Collecting equipment. If the employee was issued a laptop, phone, or other equipment, collect it on his or her last day in the office. If he or she used a personal device for work, take steps to restrict access to company information from that device.

Phase 5: Saying Goodbye

It is up to you how you want to handle the employee’s last day on the job. Many companies host a goodbye lunch, gathering in the breakroom, or goodbye party at a nearby restaurant when a valued employee leaves. Even if you do not do something formal, make a point of saying goodbye to the employee and wishing him or her well.

Losing a member of your team can be stressful, but if you follow the right procedures, the transition can be a smooth one and your employee will leave on good terms.


How to Use Peer Interviewing to Hire the Best Candidates

by NPEO Media NPEO Media No Comments

How to Use Peer Interviewing to Hire the Best Candidates

InterviewingHiringBestCandidatesIn your organization, who conducts candidate interviews? Who makes hiring decisions? How involved is your team — the actual people who will be working with the new hire?

There is a growing trend in hiring to conduct peer interviews as part of the hiring process. Allowing employees a chance to meet, interact with, and evaluate potential new co-workers has been shown to help improve hiring and attract better talent. When employees are given the chance to have a say in the selection of their colleagues, it helps build better teams, improves morale, and gives them a sense of ownership in their jobs. At the same time, peer interviewing allows candidates the opportunity to evaluate their own feelings about your company, and get a better sense of what it would be like to actually work there.

In order for peer interviewing to enhance your hiring process, though, it must be done correctly. Even small mistakes can drive away top talent, or even leave your company vulnerable to legal challenges.

Beginning the Peer Interviewing Process

Imagine you are a candidate for a great position. You have made it through interviews with HR and the hiring manager for the job. You have had good rapport with everyone so far, and are excited when you are called in for a peer interview. Only when you arrive, you are ushered to a conference room where eight people sit around the table. They each have a copy of your resume, and a list of questions. For the next two hours, you are interrogated about everything from how you handle conflict to your biggest pet peeves at work. You leave exhausted, feeling like you just survived a round of hazing, and you are not sure you even want the job anymore.

Such scenarios are common in companies that use peer interviewing. In an attempt to get as many perspectives as possible and to see how the new person would fit in with the team, hiring managers bring together the whole department to meet with the candidate. While some people are up for that type of challenge, most end up feeling intimidated and exhausted.

Effective peer interviewing involves a lot more than just throwing the candidate to the team and hoping he or she comes out unscathed. You need to develop a plan, provide training, and a fair evaluation process to ensure that all candidates are evaluated equally.

Planning for Peer Interviewing

Including peer interviewing in your hiring process requires a few important steps.

  1. Consider the process. Because you want all of the candidates who go through the peer interviewing process to be evaluated fairly, you need to develop a standardized process. This includes:
  • Determining who will conduct the interviews. At most, choose two or three employees to conduct your interviews. These should be your highest performers, who are genuinely happy in their jobs and can effectively demonstrate your company’s mission come to life. You do not want to select employees who are unhappy with the company, as they may inadvertently sabotage the hiring process by sharing the problems in the organization. Honesty is important, but you do not want anyone to discourage the candidate from accepting the job.


  • Developing questions. While the interview should be a conversation, not an interrogation, you want the conversations to touch on the same topics so you can fairly evaluate candidates. Work with the people who are conducting the interviews to develop questions based around their priorities, and then run them past HR to ensure that they do not violate any fair employment laws.
  • Developing an evaluation matrix. Again, you want to compare apples to apples, and when your team is interviewing multiple candidates, they need an objective form of measurement against which to evaluate them. Consider using a numerical rating scale to assess answers to specific questions, as well as an overall candidate rank.
  1. Provide training. To conduct peer interviewing, training is vital. Because most of your team are unlikely to be trained in HR and hiring processes, they may be unaware of the potential legal issues inherent in interviewing, such as the questions that are illegal to ask, as well as some of the finer points of evaluating candidates. Your staff should be trained to identify certain communication clues, such as vague or evasive language, and how to effectively guide the answers and keep the interview on track. Mock interviews can help immensely.
  1. Schedule evaluation discussions. It is important to make it clear to everyone involved that the peer interview is only part of the hiring process, and that the hiring manager and HR will make the final decisions. However, be sure to schedule time after the interviews to have conversations with the interviewing team to get their impressions and hear their concerns. Do not simply collect the evaluation questionnaires, but seek your team’s input.

Giving your employees a voice in the hiring process can help improve employee engagement, which in turn leads to higher morale, higher productivity, and in some cases, cost savings, so before you hire your next team member, consider getting the input of his or her potential coworkers.

Preparing for 2016 Affordable Care Act Reporting

by National Peo National Peo No Comments

Preparing for 2016 Affordable Care Act Reporting

Preparing for 2016 Affordable Care Act ReportingFor many small businesses, new Affordable Care Act (ACA) reporting requirements are very challenging. With 2015 being the first year for mandatory 1095 filing, devising your reporting plan should be a high priority. Yet a survey of 480+ employers across 36 industries found that just 10 percent had developed strategies ranging from in-house to outsourced solutions. Some 16 percent of respondents had not considered various plans or even determined which options to compare.

Other research found that ACA’s complex reporting requirements are prompting many companies to consider outsourcing. Employer concerns range from not understanding various reporting options and poor data quality to responding to health care exchanges’ notices properly and excessive administrative burdens.

Delaying your decision increases your risk of owing sizable reporting penalties and ACA excise taxes. If this new annual obligation is more than your staff can handle, turning it over to National PEO’s experts can be a big relief. Our comprehensive benefit services include administering medical insurance plans, so our specialists know and follow the latest legal criteria.

Understanding the New System

ACA information returns: Individuals and employers’ shared responsibilities became effective on Jan. 1, 2015, so the IRS needs information returns about individual health coverage. Forms and submitting parties are:

  • 1094-B and 1095-B: Minimum essential coverage (MEC) providers (including health insurers, self-insured plan sponsors, and government agencies that administer government-sponsored insurance programs)
  • 1094-C and 1095-C: Applicable large employers (ALE)

Online return system: You must use the upcoming ACA Information Return (AIR) system to file ACA returns. It is the only IRS e-filing system that supports and processes the above ACA forms.

E-filing: The IRS requires all MEC providers with at least 250 information returns per calendar year to file them electronically. While e-filing is voluntary for providers with under 250 returns, the tax agency encourages everyone to file electronically.

Issuer and transmitter definitions: In the AIR program, “issuer” refers to any MEC provider. “Transmitter” signifies the third-party service that files information returns for an issuer. Any issuers that have not determined if they will use third-party transmitters or e-file their own returns directly to the IRS should make that decision now.

Reporting deadlines: For the 2015 calendar year, your company must give 1095 copies or substitute statements to all employees by Jan. 31, 2016. With staffer consent, you may provide them electronically. IRS paper returns are due by Feb. 28, 2016. The electronic return deadline extends to March 31, 2016.

Penalties: If you do not distribute employee statements or file your information returns on time, the IRS may impose fines. Penalties can reach $500 per untimely return.

Essential Pre-Filing Steps

Preparing for 2016 Affordable Care Act ReportingBefore e-filing, you must complete these four steps. You may do one through three now, but the IRS has not announced final details for Step four yet.

  1. Responsible company official and key contact determinations: A responsible official assumes authority over information return e-filing for a business at a single location and serves as the IRS’s first contact person. Contacts’ responsibilities might include transmitting returns and/or being available for any IRS inquiries every workday. You must designate a minimum of one official plus two contacts.
  2. IRS e-service registration: The IRS must authenticate your officials and contacts. Online registration validates you individually, which allows you to represent your organization or yourself or so you can conduct IRS business electronically. Personal information you must enter includes your adjusted gross income. You will receive a registration confirmation code from the IRS by mail. To finalize your registration, you have 28 days to log into the e-services portal and enter that code.
  3. Transmitter Control Code application: Your third-party transmitter must access e-services to fill out an online Transmitter Control Code (TCC) application. The IRS issues TCCs by mail. Issuers need TCCs only if they are also acting as transmitters. The TCC application became available recently on June 29, 2015.
  4. Testing participation: At a later date, the IRS will require every transmitter to take a communication test and pass it without any errors. That involves preparing an XML-formatted transmission, submitting it for IRS processing, getting a receipt confirmation ID, and then receiving an acknowledgment that may include an error file attachment if applicable.

Once you have completed those four prerequisites, you are ready to file your ACA information returns electronically. According to the IRS, AIR should become operational during the fall of 2015. To enlist help from experienced benefit professionals, contact National PEO today at 888-221-0945.