Cash Balance Plans for Business Owners

The new tax law is a lucrative opportunity for many pass-through businesses. As long as the owner’s income does not exceed a certain threshold, businesses can earn significant tax savings. In this installment of CenterStage, Todd Yawit – the director of retirement services at Saxon – has provided the following insightful information on Cash Balance Plans and how they can be used to help businesses earn significant tax savings.

The New Tax Law

With the new tax law, some business owners can now deduct up to 20 percent of their qualified business income (QBI) as long as their income falls below a certain threshold. Todd explained, “The new tax law that went into effect treats certain business types differently than it used to. In order to take advantage of the full deductions, certain business owners might need to lower their income to accommodate getting the deductions.”

deductions.” The full 20 percent deduction is available to companies that have an income that falls below the set threshold amount. Because of this, many businesses will have lower effective tax rates. Business owners whose income does not fall below the set threshold amount can still reap significant benefits by placing the difference of their income in a Cash Balance Plan. This will cause their taxable income to fall below the set threshold.

What Are Cash Balance Plans

Cash Balance Plans are a type of retirement plan that combines the maximum benefit amount associated with Defined Benefit Plans with the flexibility and portability of a 401(k) plan. 

Cash Balance Plans are trustee directed and assets are invested into a single pool. Participants receive individual statements with hypothetical account balances on them.

Cash Balance Plans are often preferred over traditional Defined Benefit Pension Plans. Individual statements received by participants reflect what participants could potentially collect in the form of a lump sum, if eligible.

Here are the top 6 features of a Cash Balance Plan:

  1. Niche Retirement Plan – Cash Balance Plans are a great fit for physician groups, dental groups, and other professional practices, as well as small business owners or self-employed individuals.
  2. Tax Deferred Contributions – All contributions are tax-deductible, and the investment earnings are tax-deferred. Assets are not subject to income tax until they are withdrawn from the Cash Balance Plan or a rollover IRA.
  3. Higher Contribution Limits – Cash Balance Plans allow for high tax-deductible contributions than a 401(k). The maximum contribution amount is dependent on the individual’s age and normally increases as participants get older.
  4. Creditor Protection – Plan assets in a Cash Balance Plan are ERISA creditor protected.
  5. Flexible Plan Design – Cash Balance Plans can easily provide for many different levels of benefits and contributions.
  6. Supplement to a 401(k) Plan – Cash Balance Plans can be used as a companion to a 401(k) plan, providing a more favorable contribution cost design.

How Can Cash Balance Plans Help Business Owners Take Advantage of the New Tax Law?

“One of the best ways for a business to lower their income is to make contributions into a retirement plan. The advantage of a Cash Balance Plan retirement plan is it benefits the owner and key other people, as opposed to a 401(k) where it’s benefiting everybody,” explained Todd.

The 20 percent pass-through deduction is “phased out” for business owners with taxable income between the threshold limit and phase-out limit. By taking advantage of Cash Balance Plans, businesses can fall within these limitations.

Please contact Todd Yawit with any questions regarding Cash Balance Plans. You can reach him at (513) 573-0129 or send him an email at tyawit@gosaxon.com.


Wanted: Female financial advisors to shrink industry gender gap

Recent studies show that just 16 percent of all financial advisors are women, creating a substantial gender gap. Do you want to close the gap?


If you want more female financial advisors, leverage the ones you already have.

That’s among the findings of the J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Financial Advisor Satisfaction Study, which says that despite the fact that women control 51 percent of assets, just 16 percent of all financial advisors are women.

That kind of a gender gap is nothing to be proud of, especially since it also finds that female financial advisors are generally more satisfied and loyal to their firm than their male counterparts.

That said, female advisors have “some unique pain points” that firms looking to better their position in the industry would be wise to correct.

“The wealth management industry clearly recognizes that aligning the gender mix of advisors with the shifting demographics of investors is critical for their success,” Mike Foy, director of the wealth management practice at J.D. Power, says in a statement. Foy adds, “But firms that want to be leaders in attracting and retaining top female talent need to differentiate on recognizing and addressing those areas that women’s perceptions and priorities may differ from men’s.”

The study, which measures satisfaction among both employee advisors and independent advisors, bases its evaluation on seven factors: client support; compensation; firm leadership; operational support; problem resolution; professional development; and technology support.

Considering that even though overall satisfaction with firms is improving, women are “more satisfied and loyal, bigger brand advocates.” The study finds that female advisors’ average overall satisfaction score is 786 among employee advisors—an impressive 59 points higher than among their male counterparts. Among independent advisors, overall satisfaction among women is also higher, at 793, topping their male counterparts by 39 points.

In addition, female advisors also are more likely than male advisors to say they “definitely will” remain at the same firm over the next 1–2 years (68 percent, compared with 56 percent) and are more likely to say they “definitely will” recommend their firm to others (60 percent, compared with 50 percent).

But as far as female advisors are concerned, their firms fall short in a number of areas. Women are significantly more likely than men, the report finds, to say they do not have an appropriate work/life balance (30 percent, compared with 22 percent). And 90 percent of women who do have that balance say they “definitely will” recommend their firm, while only 68 percent of those who do not will do so.

Women are also less likely than men to say they “completely” understand their compensation (60 percent, compared with 66 percent) and less likely to believe it reflects their job performance (60 percent, compared with 68 percent). They’re also less likely than men to believe mentoring programs are effective (44 percent, compared with 53 percent).

The mean tenure for female advisors at their current firms, the study reports, is 18 years, while the mean tenure for male advisors at their current firms is 20 years.

SOURCE:
Satter, M (13 July 2018) "Wanted: Female financial advisors to shrink industry gender gap" [Web Blog Post]. Retrieved from https://www.benefitspro.com/2018/07/12/wanted-female-financial-advisors-to-shrink-industr/


What’s ahead for HR technology?

As technology modernizes business, HR has worked hard to keep up. In 2017, there were numerous innovations, so we can't wait to see what 2018 brings! Check out this article from Employee Benefit Advisor on some trends in HR Technology this year.


The past year saw a number of HR technology innovations and significant product introductions — and 2018 promises to bring about even bigger changes.

“The whole field of HRIS is really exciting right now,” says Vanessa DiMauro, CEO of consulting firm Leader Networks and a Columbia University faculty member. “There is so much change and innovation happening.”

Indeed, experts contend, innovations in artificial intelligence and analytics, along with development in cloud, social and mobile technologies, are making HR systems more intelligent and more engaging.

So what will smarter, friendlier HR systems do?

To begin with, they’ll provide more targeted support for employees by helping them gain access to the benefits and services they need. Employees with a new baby, for instance, would not only have their benefits packages updated automatically, but would also receive alerts and recommendations for store discounts, childcare facilities and other products and services geared toward helping them better manage their new family responsibilities.

Smarter HR systems also will deliver the type of workforce analytics that employers need to make better staffing decisions. The manager of a chain of convenience stores, for example, might want to schedule employees who have demonstrated a higher level of job performance for the late shift, because they can be counted on to close a store. The supervisor at a large hospital, on the other hand, might look to assign the facility’s most reliable employees — those who are more likely to show up for work on time — to care units that need to remain in compliance with their government-mandated staffing requirements.

But automatic updates and more efficient workforce scheduling are only two ways in which the latest digital advances will enhance human capital management. There are many others, including:

  • Increased employee retention and more effective recruitment.
  • Less biased performance management and KPIs.
  • Improved knowledge sharing and employee collaboration.
  • Greater workforce diversity and inclusion.

To illustrate this, DiMauro points to a new set of talent acquisition tools aimed at helping employers take advantage of underutilized labor pools by increasing the diversity of their workforce. These include applications to help improve outreach efforts to military veterans and people with disabilities, among other populations.

Offering another example, she cites an emerging category of applications designed to minimize gender, ethnic and other forms of bias, when it comes to performance reviews and considering employees for raises and promotions.

Building a smart system

What gives these new applications their power and joins them together, as part of an integrated HR information system (HRIS), is their ability to feed and draw from the same set of employee records. Building this smart HR system — and setting forth on the employer’s digital “journey,” of which it is a part — is likely to begin with the deployment of an employee-collaboration or knowledge-management platform that serves as the hub for all of the employer’s future HR tech endeavors.

The knowledge platform is linked through a single sign-on to the organization’s employee records database. HR staffers and other employees can organize the information into groups, which employees can join. A new hire might begin by logging into the “new employee orientation” group, which might auto-join the employee into a “benefits” group or a “training” group.

Over time, employees can continue to be auto-joined to different groups and auto-fed applicable content, as they experience different life events (such as a home purchase) or reach various milestones (such as a promotion) in their careers. Each of the groups might be built around a corresponding app — some of which might be designed for a mobile device.

Utilizing a hub and spoke model, different HR applications can be added to the system and tied into the employee database. In this way, employers are able to incrementally build out a 360-degree HRIS “wheel” that eventually includes performance reviews, employee engagement portals and talent acquisition tools that auto-reward employees for successful referrals.

The auto-classification and auto-taxonomy features embedded in the collaboration platform and corresponding apps, DiMauro explains, eliminate many of the purely rote administrative tasks that HR is saddled with today.

Meeting employee needs

Citing consumer research, the consultant notes that most customers — including most employees — want to self-serve. “Who wants to wait until morning, if you have a middle-of-the-night problem?” she asks. “When employees can readily find their own answers to less complex questions, that is a win-win for both the employee and the HR rep who would’ve had to handle the request.”

Behind all these innovations are a number of new technologies that will continue to gain steam in 2018. The most important of these is the cloud.

“From a technology standpoint, this is the biggest trend in HRIS,” says Lisa Rowan, vice president for HCM and talent management at market researcher International Data Corp.

Cloud-based HRIS solutions, which are hosted at remote facilities and maintained by the service provider, offer employers many advantages over traditional on-premise solutions that they had to maintain themselves. Chief among these are lower maintenance costs, faster transaction times, a more streamlined and easier-to-use interface, and software that is always up to date.

Human resource execs are embracing applicant tracking, training management, performance management and other software applications.

Keeping HRIS software current is important, if the employer wants to take advantage of other leading-edge technologies as they become available, including more graphically-oriented, intuitive applications for complex undertakings like a benefits enrollment. But it does require certain tradeoffs.

Traditionally, if an HRIS system didn’t support the precise way an HR organization handled a given task or function, custom software code would be written to adapt the system to the process. This was expensive and time-consuming, and forced companies to delay adopting new versions of the software, since every upgrade required complex rewrites of their customized code. Cloud-based systems eliminate these requirements and are much easier to deploy, but the HR department must adapt to the workflow prescribed by the system — and not the other way around.

As cloud-based systems become prevalent, says Rowan, “HR professionals will have to face the fact that they will have to do things a little differently to fit within the scope of a configurable, but not customizable, system.”

The cost efficiencies and operational advantages associated with a cloud-based system pave the way for other break-through HRIS technologies as well. Chief among them are:

  • Social media, which offers employees new ways to share work and collaborate, and provides employers with new tools for disseminating their message and attracting job candidates.
  • Mobile devices, which let employers tailor their outreach to select groups of employees, and allow employees to clock-in, enroll for benefits and handle many other tasks remotely, at a time and place of their choosing.
  • Artificial intelligence, which is paving the way for new and different ways to respond to employee demands. Chat boxes, for instance, will soon replace human operators at HR call centers. Employees who phone or text in will still feel as though they are dealing with a person, but it will be a computer algorithm at the other end of the line.
  • Data analytics, which give HR pros tools to gauge and influence employee behaviors, improve open enrollment outcomes and deepen employee engagement. But data analytics can also be utilized in a more strategic manner: By correlating workforce composition and activity with specific business outcomes, employers can systematically reshape their workforce to improve those outcomes.

“Analytics allow employers to identify useful trends by asking simple questions,” explains Bob DelPonte, general manager for the workforce ready group at Kronos, a provider of human capital management products and services. “For example, what’s the turnover rate for employees who live more than 20 miles away from work, compared with those who live less?”

The answer, he says, can inform the employer’s hiring and scheduling decisions. “Why risk losing a hard-to-replace employee because you’re forcing her to travel farther than she needs to, if you have the option of transferring her to a closer facility?”

Proceeding with caution

While technologies like artificial intelligence can be a boon to HR, they can also pose challenges. By increasing automation, AI will free HR staff from many repetitive tasks, allowing them to focus on more strategic concerns. But analysts like Rowan are not demure about the fact that some HR staffers will also be replaced by the software.

“How does that play out?” she asks. “You have HR personnel today who are geared toward answering phone calls, and when there are fewer calls, they may no longer be needed. There’s no point to sugar-coating that reality. There are HR professionals that need to think about re-skilling themselves.”

DiMauro also offers a word of caution. “It’s important that HR executives don’t get drunk at the bar of tools. There are so many new applications,” she says, “that they need to keep their wits about them and determine what they really need. Look for the right tool to solve the problem. Don’t just collect and decorate because it’s all out there and available.”

Read the original article.

Source:
Kass E. (17 January 2018). "What’s ahead for HR technology?" [Web Blog Post]. Retrieved from address https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/news/whats-ahead-for-hr-technology?feed=00000152-175f-d933-a573-ff5f3f230000

5 Tips to Improve the Employee Experience from an Employee Happiness Director

From SHRM, here are some helpful tips to improve happiness within your workplace.


 

Gone are the days of delighting customers at the expense of employees. Organizations today understand the value of employee happiness and are increasingly looking for ways to attract and retain top talent. This includes delighting employees at every touch point along the way from orientation and beyond.

And while this may mean something different for every organization, the following few tips may help to improve the employee experience, and if your employees are happy, your investors, customers and clients will follow.

Find employees who follow your north star. Hire employees who align with your core values. Our organization is mission-driven and focused on transforming lives. As a result, we look for good eggs who are driven by doing something for the greater good and leaving the world a better place. Big egos need not apply.

Prioritize happiness. Happiness means something different to every employee. Encourage your employees to find what makes them happy and prioritize that. Employee happiness is our CEO’s number one priority, so we held a workshop to design our culture of happiness together with input every single employee. We now measure employee happiness monthly and look for ways to delight our employees at every turn.

Ask and you shall receive. We constantly ask our employees about what’s working, what’s not working and how we can come together to build a culture of happiness through weekly, anonymous surveys. This provides leadership with valuable insights and empowers employees at all levels to help create an environment where we will thrive. Commit to delivering on employee suggestions that impact happiness when you can. You may not always be able to implement a suggestion but always ensure that the employee’s input is valued and was heard by leadership.

Be culturally relevant. While some may appreciate yoga breaks during all company meetings, others may want time off to volunteer with family and friends. Get to know your employees and understand what is truly meaningful to them. And always check back - life moves fast and personal priorities shift. Make sure your benefits and perks evolve to keep up with your dynamic population.

Give that gold star. It’s not all about perks. Offer work that’s challenging, acknowledge a job well done and reward employees in creative ways that are motivating to them. A company that successfully fosters a positive employee experience reaps the benefits in the form of enhanced engagement, happiness, productivity and retention.

 

Read the original article.

Source:
Andrade C. (4 December 2017). "5 Tips to Improve the Employee Experience from an Employee Happiness Director" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://blog.shrm.org/blog/5-tips-to-improve-the-employee-experience-from-an-employee-happiness-direct

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Top 10 Corporate Wellness Habits to Adopt During 2018

With the New Year in full swing, you may be considering how to turn your life around for the better -  drop pounds, kill unhealthy chocolate addictions, quit binging every Netflix season ever, etc... But what about making lasting habits within the workplace?

 

Too often, we make a list of resolutions, and we forget where we spend most our time. Work is work, but that doesn’t mean we can’t implement some of the changes we make in our personal lives in the workplace, as well.

 

Today, we thought we’d offer up 10 different ideas for employers (or for employees to offer to their boss) to try and implement within the workplace – from wellness challenges to recess. Try one, combine a few, or do them all! The best part about making resolutions is making them unique to yourself and your company. So, don’t be afraid to get creative!

  1. Offer healthy alternatives to traditional junk food items

 

Just a simple switch of snack foods in the office can cut unnecessary calories! Snacking on healthy items can make mindless snacking not so bad.

  1. Offer standing desks

 

This easy switch will be one of the new year’s trendiest wellness tactics. Select desk options that allow users to easily switch between standing and sitting while working to allow for better blood flow throughout the day.

PIXNIO - Image usage: Image is in public domain, not copyrighted, no rights reserved, free for any use.

  1. Try a wellness challenge

 

There’s nothing like some healthy interoffice competition to get people motivated. Select a wellness challenge that is easy and effortless to incorporate into your workplace. This could be a monthly or a weekly challenge, switch it up each month/week to keep things interesting!

 

  1. On-site yoga classes

 

Another wellness trend that will continue into 2018 is managing stress through yoga. Mindfulness and meditation offer a slew of benefits to help employees relieve stress. Invite an instructor to your office every couple of weeks to guide the team through a yoga class.

  1. Celebrate “Wellness Wednesday”

 

Make hump day something to celebrate and begin to tackle wellness in the office in a manageable way. One day a week can be a gateway to a much healthier lifestyle.

  1. Listen to your employees

Survey employees to find out what is working and what isn’t instead of wasting time and energy on things that aren’t engaging your employee population. Use a site like Survey Monkey or Google Forms to create a survey to collect feedback from employees.

  1. Participate in a 5K or other group fitness activities

Find a 5K in your community or choose another group fitness activity and cover the entry fee for anyone choosing to participate.

 

  1. Post signs near elevators and escalators encouraging employees to take the stairs instead

Sometimes just seeing this reminder is all the motivation needed to be a little more active!

  1. Schedule recess

Pick a 15-minute time of the afternoon for everyone to get away from his or her desk. Go outside, socialize with each other and enjoy some fresh air! Taking walks has also been shown to increase creativity.

  1. Reward volunteers

 

Pay your employees for any volunteer hours up to a certain amount or allot a certain amount of time each month for employees to get away from their desk and get active in the community. Ideas include volunteering at a local food bank or cleaning up a local park, beach, or trail. You’ll benefits from both team building and group physical exercise!

 

Give one or more of these ideas a try and if they work out for you, let us know! The important lesson here is to remember your work-life is just as important to better as your personal life. When it comes to New Year Resolutions, make sure they encompass every aspect of your life and definitely don’t forget to include your employees in your thoughts.

Stay healthy, have fun, and Happy New Year!

Why a Strong Employee/Employer Relationship Is Important

Tied to the success of a company is the loyalty of its customers. While this customer-first mentality is necessary for the continuation of a company, employers sometimes forget to honor another intrinsic element of success and growth — the employee and employer relationship.

Employers are not drill sergeants who belt out orders for employees to follow. Why waste all that employee talent by burning them out? Work to build a strong and positive relationship with your employees, and they will grow as professionals and give back tenfold.

  1. Rethink Hierarchy: Help Employees Navigate the Organization

Employees have a place in the hierarchy of the company, but that doesn’t mean anyone should feel less than another or be demoralized. Every leader must understand the functions of their organization and its politics. Your organization’s culture sets the precedent for the professional personalities it hires. It should be clear to each employee why they were hired and why they are the best fit for a particular role.

Unfortunately, many employees simply exist in the vacuum of a cubicle and may not grow out of it. They feel boxed in and clueless about how to navigate the hierarchy and how to climb the ladder of success. An employee may need hand-holding or to be left alone, but that’s not the employee’s fault.

An employer has to find a way to meet them in the middle. Each employee has a hierarchy of needs that should be addressed, such as good benefits to meet basic needs, a positive work environment, a sense of place to develop a feeling of belonging and a way to become professionally self-actualized.

  1. Invest in Employee Networks and Loyalty

Just because you’ve moved up the ladder as a leader doesn’t mean you stop building relationships with those around you, including those under your supervision. You are a model of success for your employees, and you never know where your paths will lead or cross in the future.

Do your employees feel they can trust you? Do you empower and equip them with tools necessary to boost their influence and opportunities for success? Employee interoffice relationships and networks sculpt their reputation over the course of their careers.

Invest in employee networks to build loyalty and employee morale. Leaders should encourage networking inside and outside of the office. By strengthening influential networks, your employees will feel confident about their professional objectives and goals. They must learn that even professional relationships are not mutual all the time, and this negative exchange should be avoided. Loyalty is earned and learned when employees align with others who reciprocate support in networking, and that’s first gained from the employer.

Leaders should look at their own professional paths as an example for personal consideration. Name three others that have been in your network for years, and ask yourself if these are reciprocal relationships. Retrace the steps of your career, and remember leaders who held you back and why. Don’t be that leader. When employees climb the ladder, they will be in your network. Maintain reciprocal relationships with your employees, and teach them to do the same with others in their network.

  1. Broaden the Scope of Employee Experience

Don’t let employees become bored with their jobs. Of course, there are mundane tasks to every role that feel like chores, but employees should be allowed to challenge their knowledge. Let employees develop their skills by teaching them how to do the job of a leader. Broadening the scope of an employee’s experience prepares them for what comes next in their career, and they won’t fall short of expectations or feel their ambitions are neglected by an employer they trusted.

Many employers feel an employee should only understand what’s in their job description and nothing beyond fulfilling those duties. Wasn’t that why the employee was hired in the first place? An excellent leader sees the employee for their ambition and ability to grow, and then teaches them about the ecosystem of the workplace to advance.

Encourage employees to step up to the plate, beyond being a bench warmer, and take a swing at a big project or pitch an idea at a meeting. When an employee has the confidence to speak out and act independently, they gain the confidence to take risks, make involved decisions and lead.

Strong employee/employer relationships are vital to the success of the organization. The people and their relationships behind the scenes are the gears that move the mechanism of your company.

When your employees do their jobs well, achieve a new goal or do something successfully, reward them with networking opportunities and better benefits. Make the employee and employer relationship a strong and reciprocal one to be remembered for an entire career.

 

Read the original article.

Source:
Craig W. (20 September 2017). "Why a Strong Employee/Employer Relationship Is Important" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.forbes.com/sites/williamcraig/2017/09/20/why-a-strong-employeeemployer-relationship-is-important/#480edb564d91


5 Tips For Employers To Earn Respect From Employees

Today, we are going to take a look at how to make respect something that revolves around the workplace. Use these tips to help you identify if you're doing what you need to do to earn and have respect with your coworkers.


In a previous blog (R-E-S-P-E-C-T: How To Earn Respect At Work), I discussed ways employees can earn respect at work. But earning respect shouldn’t be a one-way street – it should also be embraced by employers. Respect isn’t just something subordinates are forced to give managers. It’s a valuable asset for employers to show and earn in the workplace. Earning employee respect isn’t always easy, but when employers find ways to build respect at work, positive benefits ensue. How do you build employee respect at work?

According to Bruce J. Avolio, Ph.D., executive director at the Center for Leadership and Strategic Thinking in the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business, five tips for employers/managers to earn the respect of employees include:

    1. Be authentic: Be an authentic reflection of your organization’s espoused values and principles while promoting transparency and justice.
    1. Promote ‘ownership’: Make all employees feel like ‘owners’ versus ‘renters’, that their voice matters, and that people in positions of power listen to learn and engage with their employees.
    2. Develop potential: Help each individual feel like they are reaching their full potential and achieving their performance goals by investing in development.
    3. Create an energized culture: Create a positive climate where your followers’ energy is directed towards winning against competitors versus defending against internal detractors from what you’re trying to accomplish.
  1. Sacrifice when necessary: Be willing to sacrifice for the greater good of the organization when such sacrifices contribute to everyone’s success.

Bill Mixon, president of Universal Hospital Services, Inc., believes the key to earning employee respect is to empower employees and model the leadership behavior you desire by treating employees with dignity and respect. “If employees respect a person’s leadership, they are more prone to put those same leadership qualities into practice. Empowering employees to make decisions also builds trust. When you show employees you trust their knowledge and skills, you allow them to make smart decisions that benefit the company.”

Developing employee potential is also important. Notes Mixon, “When employees feel valued and appreciated, they take stronger ownership of their work and seek new opportunities to grow in their roles. This not only benefits the employee, but also the company and its customers.”

Howard Behar, retired president of StarbucksCoffee Company, used this same tactic of showing employees they are appreciated to help establish the Starbucks culture, which stresses the importance of people over profits. For example, Starbucks made sure there were no special perks for executives. “All employees are called ‘partners’ and there is no separation in any way of partners and the management team. Outside of pay and stock, every partner gets the same, even the same health insurance. We did this because it was the right thing to do, not because we thought it would help us build respect,” Behar explained.

In addition, the Starbucks management team held ‘open forum’ meetings where any partner could ask anything and they would address it. “It was open dialogue, and I mean really open dialogue during these meetings. If they wanted to debate what I was paid as the president of the company then they could,” said Behar. “No topic was off-limits.”

The management team also included a feedback card in every partner’s paycheck asking for comments on anything that seemed in contradiction to the company’s values and morals – with Behar reading every feedback card submitted. If an executive didn’t live up to the values and morals of the company, the organization would eject that individual. Behar added, “You could get fired a lot faster for not living the values than not achieving the financial numbers.”

Bottom Line: Are you a manager/employer looking to earn the respect of your employees? Then focus on relationships and trust. The foundation for earning respect is establishing good relationships with employees by building trust within the organization. Explains Behar, “If people are feeling trust, they will be more productive, are more willing to take risks, be creative, and solve difficult problems. It doesn’t mean issues won’t arise, but it means you can withstand just about anything because you can talk things through.”

Read the original article.

Source:
Quast L. (17 September 2012). "5 Tips For Employers To Earn Respect From Employees" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.forbes.com/sites/lisaquast/2012/09/17/5-tips-for-employers-to-earn-respect-from-employees/#5c3c8a1826ac


7 Ways Your Company Can Lead by Example by Supporting the Lives of Others

Be a business the gives back. In this article, adventure into some great ways to support your community and be a charitable employer.


Business moves the world. So how do you want your company to contribute?

To one degree or another, many of us feel the world today lacks quality leadership. But what better way to fight against that trend than by inspiring greatness in our future leaders? It all begins with leading by example. That’s a tall order, though, and not very specific — so let’s explore seven ways your company can assume thought leadership in the ongoing search for a better quality of life for all.

  1. Giving Back to the Community

If no person is an island unto themselves, that goes double for companies. We tend to think of our careers as somehow separate from the rest of waking life, but the truth is that communities and businesses are very much intertwined. Communities are responsible for the growth and success of businesses — and the other way around, too.

So? Give back as often as you can to the community that has made your business what it is today. We’ll talk in greater detail in a moment about what corporate citizenship should look like, but just getting that sentiment into your corporate culture and set of values is a great place to start.

  1. Be a Better Global Citizen

Making your business the source of positive influence in your community is one thing. But how are you being a global citizen?

Some folks in America seem to believe globalization should be feared and fought against, but rational business leaders know better. As the world draws closer together, we’ll be better prepared than ever to tackle some of the problems that affect us all in equal measure. But first we have to recognize our place in the larger global community.

One example would be The Exterior Company, based in Lancaster, PA, which recognizes their role on the global stage by contributing some of their profits to organizations committed to raising the standard of living in the poorer parts of the world.

 

  1. Know Your Values

Let’s get philosophical. Do you know what you value, personally? Would an onlooker identify your company as a “principled” one, even if they might not agree with the principles themselves?

The world needs businesses and leaders who know what they believe in. Not so we can blindly agree with them, but because all viewpoints help make the conversation a richer one. Even Hobby Lobby helped improve the conversation surrounding LGBTQ rights in America — even if they are, manifestly, and according to most Americans, standing on the wrong side of the issue.

American consumers wish for and respect companies that take the time to craft cohesive and forward-thinking sets of values. Why not show thought leadership here, and in the process, improve your company’s standing in the public eye?

  1. Donate Your Time

Money is a very valuable resource. But to many folks who don’t come from privilege, time is an even more precious commodity.

You can help support the lives of others — and lead by example in the process — by committing some of your free time to pro-social pursuits. Think of what would happen in the world if every employer allowed and encouraged their team members to commit some of their billable hours to charity work or another kind of community service.

Think of it like this: Corporate America boasts some of the most gifted and thoughtful people in the world. Folks for whom problem-solving comes naturally. What a shame and a waste it would be if all that talent were used merely to generate profits for private enjoyment.

 

  1. Raise the Standard of Living

If you’re new to business, you’ll recognize quickly that the conversation around workers’ well-being has changed in recent years. For example, global competition has thrown into sharp relief the ways that American corporate culture lags behind the rest of civilization. We have not yet joined the consensus on the fundamental right to paid sick leave and parental leave, for example.

There may be no better way to lead by example than to demonstrate how worthy your employees are of living high-quality lives. Your workers are your brand ambassadors — you want them to be able to go out into the world and proudly say their needs are taken care of. This improves the quality of our conversation everywhere.

 

    1. Raise Your Employees’ Awareness of the World Around Them
 I try not to use this column to tout my own business, but I do take every chance to support my team of employees who are dedicated to supporting the lives of others through our FX Builds program. We have been exceedingly fortunate over the years in attracting a very high caliber of employee — folks who genuinely care about making the world a better place. And so we wanted to help them achieve something tangible in service to that commitment.

With FX Builds, we’ve helped establish a culture within our organization that ties daily excellence to funds-matching for charitable giving. We’ve already helped break ground on schools in distant countries where public education isn’t something that can be taken for granted.

The point, simply, as it is with other entries in this list, is to make your local team more aware of the larger world and to look for ways to live more fully and conscientiously within it. It’s probably easier than you might think. And if you do it thoughtfully, you can leverage the passion your team already brings to the table.

 

  1. Focusing on Sustainable Living

According to the scientific community, Earth is experiencing its sixth major extinction event even as we speak. Is that enough of a wake-up call?

It is clear that the individual has failed planet Earth. None of us could reuse enough plastic shopping bags in fifteen lifetimes to reverse the climate change that is already making life difficult in the poorer parts of our planet. And nothing about this is going to improve until we admit there’s a problem and agree on who’s in the best position to make a difference.

That means business leaders must actually lead by example, doing the heavy lifting the individual cannot on their own. It means taking advantage of cheaper-than-ever solar power everywhere you can afford to have it installed. It means not using more paper or other finite resources to do your work than is strictly necessary. It means turning off the computers in your office overnight.

To be perfectly honest, company leaders don’t have to look very far at all to lead the way in sustainable living. And if we can do it in the fight for sustainability, we can do it in every venue that requires decisive, progressive-minded leadership.

If every employer in the world used their resources and influence to help solve this and other crises we face in the world today, the future would be very bright indeed. Word is getting out that pro-social companies — being, after a fashion, like families themselves — are in a truly unique position to change life as we know it for the better.

 

Read the original article.

Source:
Craig W. (5 December 2017). "7 Ways Your Company Can Lead by Example by Supporting the Lives of Others" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.forbes.com/sites/williamcraig/2017/12/05/7-ways-your-company-can-lead-by-example-by-supporting-the-lives-of-others/#786463064bbe


Building A Diverse Workforce In A Small Business

As we grow as a nation, it's important that our workforce grows as well, especially as a small business. Here is a helpful article for employers looking to diversify their workforce and make it more inclusive for everyone.

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There can be little argument against the value a diverse workplace. It’s a critical element of driving innovation, increasing creativity and securing market share, but diversity also makes growth and recruitment more manageable and helps to limit the word all employers want to avoid -- turnover. Diversity is significant enough that two-thirds of people polled in a Glassdoor survey said the level of diversity was important when evaluating job offers. This can prove to be a difficult task for a small business in the tech industry.

So what is workforce diversity? It’s more than simply not discriminating based on race, gender, national origin or disability. Diversity offers an alternative view or difference in opinions. Hiring employees with differing backgrounds in religion, from varying age ranges, sexual orientation, political affiliation, personality and education can become invaluable to an organization.

That being said, it can be nearly impossible to implement or force onto a set of employees. According to Harvard Business Review, researchers examined the success of mandated diversity training programs. While it’s simple enough to teach employees the right answers to questionnaires on bias or and appropriate responses for a given situation, the actual training rarely ever sticks, not more than a few days anyway. There have even been findings that suggest these mandated diversity training courses actually have adverse effects.

In the same article from HBR, managers said that when diversity training was mandatory, it is often met with confrontation and even anger. Some, in fact, reported an increase in animosity toward a minority group. On the other hand, when workers see the training as voluntary, the result is improved attitudes and an increase of 9-13% in the hiring of minorities five years from the training.

So if diversity is crucial to the success of a company or organization, but it's also something that can tough to implement, how does an employer ensure that they are fostering a work environment that is diverse? There are a few things employers can consider when they want to step up their game in building a more well-rounded and diverse workforce.

Evaluate The Hiring Process

Assess the level of diversity in the company. Does it reflect the general workforce of the industry or of the community? Figure out which departments are behind or lacking and what the source might be. Is a team diverse in most areas but still behind in management positions? Are managers hiring based on personal biases?

Top leadership needs to be an advocate for diversity in all hiring decisions, from the entry level to leadership positions. If there is a hiring test, see that managers are adhering to it. The HBR articles noted that even when hiring tests were in place, they were used selectively and that the results were ignored.

Having a hiring panel, or a system of checks and balances, would ensure that no one person would abuse the hiring process to lean too much on their own biases. Employers should also seek out new methods or places to network.

Mentoring Programs

Implementing a mentorship or sponsorship program will create a casual relationship between employees that will help alleviate some biases a manager might have and vice versa. Providing an opportunity for stewardship and responsibility allows the mentor to bestow knowledge on their mentee as they watch them grow.

Mentees will see the value in this experience and come to respect their mentor, laying away any preconceived biases or prejudices. They will become more invested in their work and the organization. Much like training programs, mentoring programs should be optional, not mandatory.

Inclusion

Similar to soldiers who serve together on the frontlines, employees who are part of a self-managed team and working as equals who work to complete projects will learn to dismiss biases on their own. Fostering an environment where employees can connect and collaborate increases engagement and allows for more contact than they may make when left to themselves.

In order to succeed in a global market, a tech organization must move past using "diversity" as a meaningless buzzword and step into action by developing and implementing an equal opportunity employment policy, following the Federal EEOC guidelines. Building and maintaining a diverse workforce is essential to growth and innovation in any industry, especially tech. But when handled poorly, or forced upon employees, it will cause more than a few headaches or even lawsuits. It requires change, a new take on leadership and creating a company culture based the business or service rather than a culture based on individual preferences or ideas.

Read the original article.

Source:
Cruikshank G. (4 December 2017). "Building A Diverse Workforce In A Small Business" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2017/12/04/building-a-diverse-workforce-in-a-small-business/#2b42986a4250

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Employers using fast-feedback apps to measure worker satisfaction, engagement

In this article from Employee Benefit Advisors, we take a look at measuring worker satisfaction and engagement through the use of feedback applications. Let us know what your verdict is!


The days of employers conducting employee engagement surveys once every year might be coming to an end.

Thanks to “fast feedback” applications, employers can conduct quick online surveys of their employees to measure how engaged they are at their jobs. The data from these polls is then collated and presented, often in real time on dashboards, to employers to show their workforce’s level of engagement and satisfaction. Some of these web-based programs also can present CEOs with steps they can take to improve their environment and culture.

These tools are available from Culture Amp, Glint, TINYpulse, PeakOn and others.

One of the main benefits of fast feedback, according to Glint CEO Jim Barnett, is that it cuts down on “regrettable attrition,” which occurs when talented employees leave for better jobs.

Glint customers include eBay, Glassdoor, Intuit, LinkedIn and Sky Broadcasting. These clients send out e-mail invitations to workers and ask them to take a voluntary survey, which can feature either stock employee engagement questions or queries that can be fine-tuned for a specific workplace.

Glint recommends 10 to 20 questions per Pulse — what it calls employee engagement survey sessions — and results are sent back to the employer’s HR directors and senior executives. According to Barnett, the Pulses are confidential but not anonymous. Barnett explains that while anonymous surveys do not record the respondent’s name and job title, a confidential survey means that only Glint knows who took the Pulse. The employer is only presented data from specific job groups or job descriptors within an enterprise, such as a production team or IT support.

This month, Glint announced two new capabilities to its real-time employee feedback program, called Always-On and On-Demand Surveys. Always-On allows workers to express their concerns at any time and On-Demand Surveys gives managers and executives the opportunity to perform quick, ad hoc surveys of staffers.

“Some of our companies use the Always-On Survey if they want people on their team to give feedback at any time on a particular topic,” he says.

Firms also use fast feedback for onboarding new hires, Barnett says. Companies have set up Glint’s program to gauge new workers at their 30 and 60 day-mark of their employment to “see how that onboarding experience impacted their engagement,” he says.

Culture Amp also provides fast feedback tools via a library of survey templates that cover a range of employee feedback topics including diversity and inclusion, manager effectiveness, wellness and exit interviews. Culture Amp’s clients include Aligned Leisure, Box, Etsy, McDonalds, Adobe and Yelp.

“We encourage customers to customize surveys to make the language more relevant, and to ensure every question reflects something the company is willing to act on,” says Culture Amp CEO Didier Elzinga.

Culture Amp presents its survey results to employers via a dashboard that displays the top drivers of employee engagement in real time. “Users can then drill down to understand more about each question, including how participants responded across a range of different demographic factors,” Elzinga says.

Sometimes CEOs are presented with news they were not prepared to hear, according to Elzinga. Some customers take to the employee survey process with the mindset of ‘myth busting,’ he says. “They want to know if some truth they hold dear is actually just a story they’ve been telling themselves. Every now and then, an employee survey will provide surprising results to an HR or executive team,” he says. “Whether people go into a survey looking to bust myths or gather baseline data, the important part is being open to accepting the results.”

Glassdoor takes the pulse of its workforce

Glint customer Glassdoor, the online job recruitment site that also allows visitors to anonymously rate their current employer’s work environment, compensation and culture, not only urges its employees to rate the firm using its own tools, the company also uses Glint’s software to view employee engagement at a more granular level.

Glassdoor conducted its first Glint Pulse in October 2016 and has rolled out three since then. The next is scheduled for January 2018, according to Marca Clarke, director of learning and organizational development at Glassdoor.

“We looked at employee engagement and the things that drive discretionary effort [among employees who work harder],” Clarke says. “This is strongly correlated with retention as well.”

Clarke said that one Glint Pulse found that the employees’ view of Glassdoor culture varied from location to location. Of its 700-person workforce, people working in the newer satellite offices were happier than the employees in its Mill Valley, Calif., headquarters. She speculates that this response could be due to newer, more eager employees hired in brand new, recently opened offices.

“People think culture is monolithic that should be felt across the company but we could see that there was some variation from office to office. With Glint, we were able to slice the data not just by region and job function but [we could] go to the manager level to look at how people with different performance ratings think about the culture,” she says.

Recent research from Aon Hewitt found that a 5% increase in employee engagement is linked to a 3% lift in revenue a year later. According to Barnett, Glint clients that regularly conduct surveys and take steps to engage their employees often see a boost in the price of their company shares.

“Companies in the top quartile of Glint scores last year [saw] their stock outperform the other companies by 40%,” he says. “They now have the data and can see that employee engagement and the overall employee experience really do you have a dramatic impact on the result of their company.”

 

Read the original article.

Source:
Albinus P. (5 December 2017). "Employers using fast-feedback apps to measure worker satisfaction, engagement" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/news/employers-using-fast-feedback-apps-to-measure-worker-satisfaction-engagement?brief=00000152-1443-d1cc-a5fa-7cfba3c60000

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