Viewpoint: Your First 90 Days as a New Manager

Did you know: the average turnover rate, from the Vice President Level, has decreased from 3.3 to 2.2 years. With this being said, it's important that when coming in as a new manager that the first few words said will impact the image given to colleagues. Read this blog post from SHRM to learn helpful tips on how to make being the new manager a little less difficult.


"The president of the United States gets 100 days to prove himself. You get 90."

That's how author Michael D. Watkins opens his seminal book on leadership transitions, The First 90 Days. The three-month period, as he explains, is a quarter, the time frame used by companies to track performance, and it is long enough to offer meaningful indicators of how a new manager is doing. Research shows that success or failure within the first few months of a new management role is often an accurate predictor of ultimate success, he adds.

"When leaders derail, their failures can almost always be traced to vicious cycles that developed in the first few months on the job," Watkins writes.

These vicious cycles frequently begin in a few similar ways, says leadership expert George Bradt, co-author (with Jayme Check and John Lawler) of The New Leader's 100-Day Action Plan. Some new managers do not realize the impact of their early words and actions, and are inadvertently sending colleagues the wrong message. Others focus on a new strategy before earning trust and support from the team. Others expend too much energy on the wrong projects and neglect the priorities of stakeholders, Bradt writes.

Moreover, recent widespread trends in the business world have made the task of mastering the first three months on the job even more important for new managers, Watkins says. Chief among these trends is that management is turning over at a faster and faster rate.

"The pace of transition has gone up pretty dramatically," says Watkins. As evidence, Watkins cites a recent study of Fortune 100 global healthcare companies. Since 2013, average turnover time at the vice president level decreased from 3.2 years to 2.2 years. "There's a premium on getting up to speed faster," he explains.

Watkins's approach is to break down a new manager's first 90 days into 10 separate directives: Prepare Yourself; Accelerate Your Learning; Match Strategy to Situation; Negotiate Success; Secure Early Wins; Achieve Alignment; Build Your Team; Create Alliances; Manage Yourself; and Accelerate Everyone.

Given this, we asked Watkins and Bradt to contextualize their guidance and highlight key best practices for managers. We also asked a few seasoned managers with successful track records in new leadership roles to provide their insight and perspective on what drove their success.

Preparing and Assessing

Preparation for a new managing role is crucial, and the preparation process should begin before the first day on the job. In most cases, it should start before the first job interview, explains Michael Sarni, CPP, recruiting and training officer for the Emergency Management Agency of the City of Lockport (Illinois), and president of Security Consulting Specialists.

In Sarni's view, a manager candidate conducts due diligence research on the company before being interviewed. The information-gathering process continues during the interviews, with the manager candidate asking informed questions about role expectations and the workplace environment. "A good manager…should always be preparing for future outcomes," Sarni says. "This must start before the first day they walk in the door and continue to the last day they leave the office."

Of course, the manager should also take time before the interview to prepare answers to common interview questions. In Bradt's view, all interview questions boil down to one of three basic questions: What are your strengths? Will you be motivated? Are you a fit for the organization? Given this, managers should prepare answers before the interview that convey three fundamental points: My strengths are a match for this job. My motivations are a match for this job. I am a good fit for this organization.

Another key aspect of preparation is learning about and assessing the company's culture. "I think understanding the culture—and adjusting one's approach accordingly to new challenges and opportunities—is ultimately the key to success in the first 90 days," Sarni says.

Sometimes, a manager can do this by using scouts and spies: customers, former or current employees, or anyone who has been involved with the firm and can speak to its culture, Bradt says. Sometimes, these associates can be a good source of information on an organization's unwritten norms, such as the actual hours most work, as opposed to the hours prescribed in the employee handbook; how employees socialize outside the office; how connected and active staff is through email and texting; and more.

Managers can also learn about the firm's culture simply by being hyper-observant every time they visit the office–taking note of people's interactions and demeanor, their dress, the office's physical set-up and structure, noise level, and other signs. "You can learn an awful lot by simply walking into a place," Bradt says.

In general, new managers who fail to understand a company's culture stand a much higher chance of ultimately being rejected by it. But now, Watkins says, with millennials representing the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, a new dynamic has come into play. A millennial employee joining a new company may in fact make the effort to assess the company's culture—but find it lacking. "They're not terribly tolerant, necessarily," Watkins says with a laugh.

This has created a crossroads, he says: "Is it incumbent on them to adapt to the culture? Or will they ultimately be the agents of change of the culture?" At some firms, the current situation is bi-directional adaptation: millennial employees try to fit in with the culture (at least in some ways), but the company also tries to evolve its own culture so that younger employees stay engaged and not leave. "A lot of companies are grappling with that. It's a real generational shift," Watkins says.

Overall, it behooves new managers to be aware of this generational shift and consider how they might contribute to the company's overall goal of ensuring its culture does not drive away promising employees. "Onboarding is the leading edge of engagement, and engagement is a core part of retention," Watkins says.

Owning Day One

Although preparing, learning and assessing are all key steps before the job begins, they alone will not guarantee a successful transition, experts say. The first several days of the new role will bring their own challenges.

Rex Lam, a Hong Kong-based senior consultant with Guardian Forest Security, has successfully transitioned into a few different management positions since he joined the security industry 15 years ago. While he also supports the importance of preparation, he says that well-prepared managers who are excited about their new ideas must avoid coming off as a know-it-all.

"Avoid the impulse to immediately want to make an impact for the good by changing everything. The attitude should be to learn and listen first, and do not let perfection be the enemy of good," Lam says.

Sarni advises extending the learning process that most new managers undergo in the early days, so that it covers more than just the security department. "Taking a methodical approach to learning as much as you can, not only about your own department and how it fits into the organization, but also about all the other departments with which security impacts operations and culture, should be an early objective," he explains.

He also recommends that new managers try to make the effort to learn what's below the surface. "Always dig a little deeper to learn and understand an operation further. The more one is prepared for the unexpected, the easier it is to adapt when the unforeseen challenge presents itself," he adds.

Bradt agrees with the importance of listening and soaking in information as soon as the job begins, but he also said that too many managers show up with a passive, just-do-no-harm attitude. This is inadvisable; all eyes are on a new manager during the first few days and people start forming opinions based on limited contact. "If you show up looking clueless, people are going to assume you're clueless," Bradt says.

Instead, new managers should come in on the first day with ideas of how they want to position themselves strategically, and what message they want to convey. Then they can listen and learn, and also ask directed questions that support this strategy and message.

Bradt offered the following example to illustrate: A new manager, taking over a leadership position, does due diligence and finds that while the firm is in decent financial shape, competitors are nipping at its heels and gaining ground. So on day one, the new manager listens and learns, but also asks many other department heads, "I've looked at what you've done so far, and it's amazing. What do you think you're going to do next to stay ahead of the curve?" That type of directed question reflects an active focus-on-the-future strategy and message, rather than a passive approach, Bradt explains.

Similarly, a new manager for a firm that needs to be more customer-focused can decide to spend some of day one meeting with customers, outside of headquarters. Here, Bradt recommends following the leadership maxim "Be, Do, Say." New leaders will be judged on all three, in that order of influence. What a leader says comes third; what a leader does comes second; who a leader is comes first. So, if a new leader continues to meet with customers through the first 90 days, at some point the leader will "be" a customer-focused leader in the eyes of staff. That will be part of his or her identity.

Early Wins

Early accomplishments, even small ones, are usually a big boost toward ultimate success for new leaders. If someone asks an employee, "How's the new manager?," while it's nice if the employee says he or she is likable, it's even more indicative of future success if the employee can say he or she already accomplished X.

Lam offers the example of taking over a management position for a company that wanted to alter operations so that it could plan more than three years ahead of time, rather than focusing completely on the current workload. For Lam, targeting the underlying systemic issue led to an early win. "The key is to identify the bottleneck and focus on eliminating the root cause," Lam says.

In this case, Lam identified the bottleneck—inefficient processes—that prevented the team from having enough resources and time for advance planning. So, he decided to target inefficiencies. He improved the resource allocation process for the service team; the team's quality of work increased, and costs immediately went down because outside service contractors were no longer needed. The team was also spending too much time filling out detailed reports for small expenses such as subway and bus fares; Lam distributed pre-paid cards, and this tradeoff won back time for staff.

The cost and time savings became quickly apparent, resulting in an early win for the new manager and eventually developed into a significant accomplishment. "I was fortunate to make the correct decisions," Lam says.

And the chances for notching early accomplishments increase if they are based on a broader strategy that is appropriate for the type of mission that is needed. Watkins recommends that new managers use his STARS model to match strategy and situation. Using this model, the new manager must assess the business mission at hand (Start-Up, Turnaround, Accelerated Growth, Realignment, Sustaining Success) before designing an appropriate approach and strategy.

Alignments and Allies

Often, Watkins's directives of Achieve Alignment and Create Alliances are related for new managers in the security field, Sarni says. Since security touches on every facet of a company, alliances between the security manager and managers in other departments are critical. These alliances can be made with the goal of interdepartmental collaboration, for the benefit of all.

"Often, the security function is viewed as a hindrance to operations in other areas of the organization," Sarni says. "But, if the security manager takes the time to learn as much as possible about those operations and proceed from the philosophy of being a partner with those other functions, security can find ways to not only better secure the environment, but also improve upon methodologies others are using."

Toward this aim, the new security manager can begin to educate selected managers from other departments about how security can align with and support that department's goals and objectives. "Building those partnerships and empowering other departments to feel that they have a stake in security's outcomes—and showing how it can benefit them—dramatically improves the chances of success," Sarni explains.

However, Sarni concedes that this is no easy mission. It takes people skills, emotional intelligence and some deft explaining. "These concepts may sound simple enough in theory, but the reality is far more challenging and delicate," Sarni says. "The brute force approach, even with a mandate, rarely yields the best results. Finesse, patience and understanding the nuances of the environment generally yield the most desirable outcomes."

Forming alliances and creating alignments with other departments is especially crucial for new managers charged with overhauling operations. "Through most of my career I have acted as a 'change agent' for the organizations to which I have been hired," Sarni explains. "But even in that environment, where I have had a mandate from senior management, generating buy-in from peers in different areas of the organization has taken creativity, sensitivity, and perseverance."

On a one-on-one level, it's always best for the new manager to create alliances that function as a two-way street. When discussing issues with other managers, two questions are often very helpful, experts say: What is a best practice that will help me in this firm? How can I help you be successful?

Building Your Ever-Changing Team

Team building for new managers takes a certain mind-set, says Lam, and for new managers who previously worked on their own, it requires a mind shift toward the collective.

"When you are one person, you are the star. When you are the manager, you are a star maker," Lam says.

In many cases, one of two situations apply. A new manager will take over an existing team, with the hope that it will stay intact. Or, the new manager is tasked with building his or her own team. In either instance, one principle is equally valid, Bradt says: every team member should be playing to their strengths.

This should be kept in mind by new managers busy with building their own teams and actively hiring. And it should also be remembered by new managers inheriting an intact team. They should still do a "role sort" in the first 90 days, and make sure everyone is in the right job. A good skill set/role match could mean a star in the making, whereas a mismatch can make for all sorts of problems down the road. Bradt says that one of the top regrets cited by leaders is "not moving fast enough on people" (i.e., reassigning staffers to best-fit positions) earlier in their tenure.

Finally, Watkins cites two recent trends that may have a big impact on team leading. One trend is that more teams are becoming virtual, with some members in different time zones and less face-to-face communication. This type of team can still be managed effectively, but it can take additional skills that not all managers have.

The second trend is turnover. The rate of turnover for team members is even outpacing the rate increase for management turnover. This is true in part because younger workers are more likely to leave a job if they are dissatisfied with the company. As a result, many teams are in a state of constant flux.

"What I find now, pretty much consistently, is that virtually all teams are at some point of transition at any given point in time," Watkins says. This can mean an added challenge for the new manager: learning to lead a team consisting of parts that never completely stop moving.

The Future

What will the new managers of the future have to contend with?

In the last decade, culture has become more important to the ultimate success of the company, Bradt says. Fast forward 10 years, and that continues to the point where "culture is the only thing that matters." With the continuing advancement of technology, companies will be able to duplicate almost any type of competitive advantage in product and services and operations that their competitors may have.

So the only real meaningful component that will separate companies from each other is culture. "Their culture is the only thing they can own," he says.

As for Watkins, he believes that recent innovations like artificial intelligence and the growth of ever-more-sophisticated analytical machines may have a vast impact on how work is done, giving him some pause when he considers the future. He knows that the exact extent and ramifications of this transformation (including the impact on management), and the time frame, cannot be predicted with certainty. "But I tend to believe it's going to happen sooner rather than later," he says.

"I'm wondering if there will be managers in 10 years," he says. "Your manager could be an algorithm."

Mark Tarallo is senior content manager of  Security Management magazine.

This article is adapted from Security Management magazine with permission from ASIS © 2019. All rights reserved.

SOURCE: Tarallo, M. (19 February 2020) "Viewpoint: Your First 90 Days as a New Manager" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/organizational-and-employee-development/pages/viewpoint-your-first-90-days-as-a-new-manager.aspx


Sharpen Your Recruiting Workflow with Service-Level Agreements

Recruiting can be a long and drawn-out process, but using service-level agreements (SLAs) can speed up the dreary process along with generating accountable talent. Firms are beginning to use SLAs to improve recruiting results and consistency. Continue reading this blog post from SHRM to learn more.


Using service-level agreements (SLAs) in recruitment can speed up a laggard hiring process, generate accountability from hiring managers and create the expectation that talent acquisition (TA) is a top company priority.

Common in sales, marketing and procurement, SLAs are written standards that the TA function and hiring managers agree upon in order to understand the responsibilities of each party.

"Service-level agreements have proven to be one of the most effective ways to improve recruiting results, increase recruiting consistency, and, at the same time, strengthen the relationship between recruiters and hiring managers," said John Sullivan, an HR thought leader and professor of management at San Francisco State University. "If you want to improve your quality of hire, reduce position vacancy days and improve process compliance, it only makes sense to try to get hiring managers to put a greater focus on recruiting. You can reduce the blame game [between recruiters and hiring managers] by spelling out responsibilities, timelines, deliverables and success measures in advance."

SLAs are essentially informal contracts, said Jessica Miller-Merrell, SHRM-SCP, an HR consultant and the founder of Workology, an Austin, Texas-based workplace resource site.

They can be time-bound or focused on quality control, with both parties agreeing to specific deadlines or commitments related to resume review, interview scheduling, candidate interview feedback and final selection.

There is one important prerequisite to using the agreements: getting buy-in from hiring managers and leadership. "SLAs won't work if the relationship and the respect are not there first," Miller-Merrell said. "SLAs have value even in just getting the conversation started with your hiring managers. Frame it as a process improvement that will serve both of your goals."

Without that crucial buy-in, "HR and TA are seen as more of an obstacle rather than as a partner," said Caitlin Wilterdink, director of HR and talent acquisition at Paxos, a financial technology company in New York City, and the owner of Wilterdink Consulting. A longtime believer in the SLA model's effectiveness, she's introduced the concept to several companies, receiving both positive and negative reactions. At Paxos, where both time-bound and quality-control SLAs are in use, reaction was initially mixed. When implementing SLAs there, Wilterdink asked hiring managers to take on extra recruiting tasks due to a lack of TA staff.

"There was a bit of questioning from some hiring managers about why they were being asked to do things that HR usually did for them [in past roles]," she said. "That's fair, and it's important for HR leadership to empathize with that sentiment and be able to help them understand why they are being asked to do this. It's about balance, and the TA leader has to have a good pulse on the organization and know when to strictly enforce an SLA and when to bend the rules."

Benefits of Using SLAs in Recruiting

Experts say organizations that use SLAs in recruiting could see several improvements in the process:

Hiring. "Simply setting minimum and maximum times for recruiting steps will speed up your overall recruiting process," Sullivan said. He added that recruiter and manager satisfaction with the process will improve, hiring costs will decrease, and confusion and duplication will be dramatically reduced.

"Being confused about who does what and when can certainly slow down the hiring process and result in the unintended duplication of work," he said. "SLAs lead to clarity and agreement on what must be done and who must do it."

Coordination. "The process of jointly working together in order to create the SLA agreement by itself helps to improve the relationship between recruiters and hiring managers," Sullivan said. "The initial negotiation process also helps both parties understand the needs, expectations and problems of the other party."

Accountability. When Wilterdink joined Paxos, "there wasn't a lot of accountability for how feedback was used to inform the rest of the recruiting team about a candidate, leading to a lot of false positives coming in for onsite interviews." She explained that some managers were marking "yes" on interview score cards to advance a candidate, but their written feedback would indicate they actually felt more like "meh." In order to control for that, Wilterdink initiated an advocacy-modeled SLA, stipulating that an interviewer must advocate for the person he or she advances before the person is moved forward in the process. "Doing this has reduced the number of false positives," she said.

What to Include in Your SLA

Service-level agreements can range from basic one-pagers with general statements to detailed documents covering many aspects of the recruiting process. Sullivan said that upfront basics of an SLA can include setting the goals and business impact of the process and defining the role of each party.

"Defining roles and making it clear who has ownership can reduce hesitation, as well as duplicate work. Roles that frequently need clarification include interview scheduling, interview participation, reference checking and documentation."

The recruiting process should be listed in clear steps in an SLA. "The required and optional recruiting steps are listed in order to make it clear to everyone what steps must be executed, which ones can be expedited and which ones are optional," he said. "It's probably also a good idea to include a visual process map or flowchart so that everyone can clearly see the steps and the flow of the process."

Be sure to specify deadlines and deliverables, as well. "Getting quick feedback from the manager about the quality of the submitted candidate slate is critical," Miller-Merrell said.

At Paxos, SLAs include a commitment to reviewing resumes within 24 hours and attaining a performance benchmark of application-to-offer in about 27 days.

Sullivan said that SLAs should specify how the success of reaching each goal and activity will be monitored and measured. Miller-Merrell said that measuring the time it takes to receive feedback may help the TA team uncover critical bottlenecks in the recruitment process and avoid both delays and the loss of good candidates who remain in limbo.

SLAs can also identify potential risk factors, conflicts, rewards and penalties for nonperformance. "If your recruiting process lacks structure, it might be a good idea to outline any unacceptable actions or behaviors," Sullivan said. "When you specify the don'ts, everyone knows upfront what they cannot do under any circumstances."

Tips for Making SLAs Work

Wilterdink said that a partnership approach will go a long way to smooth over any negative reactions from hiring managers who are presented with an SLA. She suggested some ways TA can achieve cooperation:

  • Train hiring managers on how to fill out interview score cards.
  • Provide recruiting software, which makes completing score cards and tracking manager participation easier. If you don't have technology that does this, you can use Google Docs, she said.
  • Be flexible with enforcement.
  • Pair managers with recruiters, if possible. "When I have a fully staffed team, I'll have the hiring manager work side by side with a recruiter," Wilterdink said. "The reason for that is that the manager needs to understand the market we're looking for before posting a role, so we spend our time fitting the actual business need.

SOURCE: Maurer, R. (21 February 2020) "Sharpen Your Recruiting Workflow with Service-Level Agreements" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/talent-acquisition/pages/sharpen-recruiting-workflow-service-level-agreements.aspx


The Miserable Middle Managers

Did you know: 18 percent of supervisors and managers report signs of depression. Middle managers tend to struggle with spending too much time on administrative tasks, and not enough time leading their workplace, which can lead to being dissatisfied. Read this blog post from SHRM to learn more.


They make dozens of decisions each day, but usually not the big ones that shape a company's future. They're saddled with all the busywork of managing subordinates, yet also answer to higher-ups whose policies they must enforce—even when they don't have a say in making those policies and their direct reports object to them.

They're middle managers, and research finds they are the unhappiest employees at U.S. organizations.

But they don't have to be, employment experts say—not if they take advantage of new technologies, suggest changes in workplace policies and invest time in professional development.

Misery by the Numbers

In 2015, researchers at Columbia University surveyed nearly 22,000 full-time workers. They found that 18 percent of supervisors and managers reported symptoms of depression. The share of blue-collar workers reporting depression was 12 percent; for owners and executives, it was 11 percent.

A separate 2014 study found that when it comes to job satisfaction, managers fall in the bottom 5 percent. The study authors, both executives at leadership development consultancy Zenger Folkman, based in Orem, Utah, gathered data from more than 320,000 employees in various organizations. They identified those employees whose engagement and commitment scores were in the bottom 5 percent and compared their responses with those of the rest of the study group.

"You might think these would be the people with poor performance ratings or the ones in over their heads—people with inadequate training, education or experience for the job," the authors wrote. "But when we examined the demographic characteristics of these employees, we found instead that they could best be described as those 'stuck in the middle of everything.' "

The most common profile for the bottom 5 percent, they found, was that they:

*Had earned a college degree, but not a graduate degree.

*Had five to 10 years' tenure.

*Worked as midlevel managers.

*Had received a good (as opposed to a superior or a terrible) performance rating in the past year.

Technology Can Help

So what can be done about the dissatisfied middle manager? Experts suggest that part of their discontent stems from spending too much time on administrative tasks, leaving them little time for leading.

Technology can help them conduct tasks that were once considered "managerial," from scheduling to training to performance reviews. Yet some managers still don't take advantage of these tools, according to Montreal, Quebec-based WorkJam, which provides digital platforms for shift scheduling, onboarding, communication and other tasks.

"Across industries, from retail to hospitality to health care, the arduous task of scheduling falls to managers, who have to synchronize individual schedules and often assign shifts without knowing associates' availability," said WorkJam CEO and president Steven Kramer. "By migrating this process onto a digital workplace platform, employers can put the power in the hands of the associates [and] … are freed from this burden."

Andrew Sumitani, senior director of marketing for Seattle-based TINYpulse, which creates employee engagement surveys. He has worked on several projects focusing on middle management.

"By using simple but effective technology, middle managers can balance their roles more effectively," he said. "What's critical is for that technology to create a safe space for transparent, candid feedback to reach all levels of the organization. Subsequently, middle managers won't be spending as much time collecting and providing feedback for upper managers. They'll have that time to properly coach, mentor and lift their direct reports and become outstanding leaders themselves."

For instance, TINYpulse offers software that continuously measures the decisions made by employees on a team, and that gives middle managers information on the strengths and limitations of those decisions.

Accounting giant PwC has created an app that helps companies evaluate strengths and weaknesses within their workforce, while also suggesting learning and development opportunities that can help employees improve their performances.

Too Many Meetings

Some research suggests that these managers find it frustrating and exhausting to constantly switch between the role of "leader" to subordinates and the role of "follower" to their own supervisors. It also suggests that this frustration is exacerbated when middle managers are inundated with meetings.

"Keeping middle managers in meetings is a way for upper managers to listen to the entire organization," Sumitani acknowledged. "However, if upper managers demand increasingly detailed feedback from middle managers, a problem occurs: The middle manager's job of managing a team and reporting to upper management becomes profoundly unbalanced."

Here, again, technology can help, he said.

"More forward-thinking managers are utilizing technology that [helps] employees to provide feedback, solutions and suggestions to upper management to act on," Sumitani explained. "This shortcuts the communication flow in a way that eases the burden on middle managers. This leads to reduced feelings of being overwhelmed, higher productivity and significantly higher middle manager happiness."

Professional Development

Sumitani also suggested that continued learning for middle managers can make their jobs easier.

"Many middle managers have not been in their industries for their entire careers," he noted. "Therefore, they could be trying to learn the industry, do their jobs and stay on top of their craft, all at the same time. Anything that companies can do to invest in learning also shows their commitment [to] and confidence in those managers."

For instance, PwC's app identifies ways managers can focus on digital training and directs them to personalized learning recommendations and access to more than 300 courses, videos and white papers.

"These lessons can no longer come within the office, over an hour of coffee and scones," PwC said in a statement. "It needs to be personalized, digitally accessible and in line with work-life balance and flexibility needs that are now the norm."

SOURCE: Wilkie, D. (19 February 2020) "The Miserable Middle Managers" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/employee-relations/pages/middle-managers-are-miserable-.aspx


What employers need to know to combat coronavirus

As the coronavirus is a trending topic of discussion, it is important for employers to keep their employees safe regarding any illness. Having set protocols and preventative guidelines set in place could keep symptoms from spreading. Continue reading this blog post to learn more about the importance of protocols around this flu season.


The coronavirus is continuing to spread rapidly, spurring employers such as Starbucks and PwC to implement workplace practices that protect their employees and offset growing fear and anxiety over the outbreak.

Since December, over 28,000 cases of coronavirus have been reported, and 565 people have died in China, which is at the epicenter of the outbreak. The disease has currently spread to 28 countries. In the U.S., there have been 293 cases reported and 11 people have tested positive for the virus in five states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“There is a tension we’re seeing between being cautious and panicky,” says Joseph Deng, an employment law partner at Baker McKenzie law firm. “Companies want to communicate in a way that reassures the employee population while taking reasonable measures to protect employees.”

Employers like Facebook, Starbucks and WeWork, among others, have enacted a variety of preventative measures to handle the spread of the outbreak, including closing office locations in China and asking employees to self-quarantine in their homes for up to three weeks. Companies including accounting giant PwC and LG have placed mandatory travel bans to and from China.

“We are confident that the disease can be contained if everyone — including corporations doing business in China — is prudent and makes the safety of their employees their number one priority,” LG said in a statement.

Because of the changing nature of the pandemic and the speed in which it’s spreading, employers need to have essential protocols in place to protect employees and avoid misinformation. Often, employers feel unprepared but typically already have a blueprint for other disasters, Deng says.

“If you don’t have a pandemic policy, you as an employer will very likely have analogous policies that can be used in this situation,” Deng says. “When planning for this scenario, you need to ask what are the objective facts and what are your options.”

A critical first step to carrying out proper protocol is establishing a senior-level point person who can gather information, communicate across teams and report to upper management to implement the plan if necessary.

“You have to have someone who has the right touch and that can be subjective,” Deng says. “Find a person now who is the most knowledgeable and has the time and resources to gather information, assemble a cross functional team, and has access to a decision-making authority.”

Additionally, workplaces should focus on basic disease prevention measures, like promoting proper hygiene and encouraging workers to stay home if they’re not feeling well.

“If you feel you have symptoms, make prudent decisions. Do not travel or go into the workplace where you could spread the illness,” says Kathleen O’Driscoll, vice president of the Business Group on Health.

Taking these smaller, preventative measures early on will prepare both the employer and the employee in the event more extreme measures need to be taken. A more measured approach will make employees feel confident and protected.

“Think about how you want to be seen by your employees when this is over. You don’t want your employees to say, they didn’t tell me what to do or I had no support,” Deng says. “You’re not just preparing for an emergency. You’re working on how to come out with a better, stronger and more resilient workforce.”

SOURCE: Place, A. (06 February 2020) "What employers need to know to combat coronavirus" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/news/what-employers-need-to-know-to-combat-coronavirus


The Power of HR Mentorship: A Two-Way Street

A workplace mentorship can impact the way afflictions, ordeals, and even the achievements are handled throughout different situations. As HR professionals learn how to handle situations, it's important for them to have someone to look up to and to go to when they are struggling. Continue reading this blog post to learn more about the importance of having a workplace mentor.


Professional mentorship can take many forms and can have long-lasting impacts on our career successes, trials and tribulations. Regardless of the role we play in an organization, we can and should play a role in mentoring. Each of us should have a mentor and serve as a mentor to others. It's a powerful relationship.

In my journey as an HR consultant over the past four and a half years, I have had the unique opportunity to develop, rebuild or totally change HR departments for various clients, and mentoring has been involved in these transformations. From mentoring other HR professionals and seeking guidance from my own mentors, here are some of the lessons I have learned.

The big picture (and other metaphors).

  • Experience—our own and how we can benefit from other people's—is valuable throughout our careers and lives. Understanding the big picture will ensure that we are setting up an organization and HR department for success. To drive a successful mentorship program, knock down silos and utilize talent from other departments. Envision a chess match: What moves and strategies do you need to put in place for both organization and individual to succeed? Do not fear receiving or providing feedback. To truly know the needs of the organization, think outside the HR box. Utilize the SHRM competencies of Communication, Relationship Management, Critical Evaluation and HR Expertise to recognize and maneuver within the ever-evolving big picture.
  • Recipes for success. An organization rarely asks for an HR consultant if things are running smoothly; normally we get a call if there is a problem. My consulting assignments usually involve change management and culture change. To ensure that the process is successful, the right people need to be in the right seats. I'm very selective when I recruit, hire and build an HR team. For these professionals to succeed, they need to be provided with training, support and mentorship. This includes continuous feedback on performance; ongoing (weekly, if not daily) communication; training, education and certification; accepting mistakes; and learning from one another. As a result of the change I implemented for one client organization, its HR professionals became certified and some are pursuing master's degrees. The SHRM competencies of Business Acumen, Relationship Management, HR Expertise and Communication are ingredients in the secret sauce in the recipe for success.
  • Relationship transformation. As professionals grow, so must their mentoring relationships, so learn to recognize when the relationship needs to evolve. Over time it can become more of a friendship or a partnership, or even a reverse mentorship. Emotional intelligence and mutual respect for one another will guide you through this transformation. In my experience, taking a less hands-on approach provides flexibility and empowerment. Create metrics that will summarize how mentoring relationships have contributed to the evolutions in your workplace. Use all of the SHRM competencies to ensure mentorship success.

Mentorship is a two-way street; it requires buy-in and communication from both parties. These relationships can and do have tremendous impacts throughout someone's life, both in and outside the workplace. I rely on a network of mentors for advice on many things and have seen mentorships turn into lifelong friendships. Recognize mentorship opportunities and continue to build on them.

SOURCE: Burr, M. (13 February 2020) "The Power of HR Mentorship: A Two-Way Street" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/behavioral-competencies/pages/the-power-of-hr-mentorship-a-two-way-street.aspx


Employees are fearful of being replaced by automation

Technological advances are starting to scare employees regarding job security. Although automation is creating a scare, companies are using technology to transform and improve productivity within their organization. Read this blog post to learn more regarding the benefits of automation technology in the workplace.


Automation is transforming businesses and directly impacting bottom lines as a result of improved productivity. But it also raises employees’ concerns about their job security, according to a new study by research firm Forrester and UiPath, a robotic process automation (RPA) software company.

Some 41% of companies say their employees are concerned that their existing digital skills may not match what their job will require in the future, the study finds. However, by training employees, providing them vocational courses, or encouraging them to pursue digital qualifications, companies can help them to overcome fears around automation and embrace it as a productivity-boosting asset.

“We need programs that not only train you to be a better employee at an institution, but advances your digital skills as well,” said Craig Le Clair, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester, speaking during a recent webinar. “We need a new form of education and training that can keep pace with the technology, particularly due to automation.”

Companies having their own training programs at work — trying to mimic the kind of experience that you have in traditional education — is a legitimate and important development, because traditional education cannot keep pace with what's going on, Le Clair said.

Companies are increasingly investing in automation — including technology like AI and RPA — and is now the driver of most organizations’ digital transformation strategies. For 66% of companies in the study, RPA software spend is going to increase by at least 5% over the next 12 months. Forrester predicts that the RPA services market will reach $7.7 billion, and eventually balloon to $12 billion by 2023.

The dynamics of the labor market, technical feasibility, and acceptance of the more advanced AI building blocks like deep learning and conversational intelligence are just some of the factors that will determine the pace of workforce automation.

Automation can not only benefit employers, but also employees. Automating repetitive, rule-based tasks enables employees to focus on higher-value activities that require advanced skills and improves employee engagement. The study found that a 5% improvement in employee engagement leads to a 3% increase in revenue, indicating that more engaged employees means higher growth.

“Organizations can view the future of work as a competency, as something that they have a view on and has a distinguishing approach to,” Le Clair said. “This is going to help with recruiting and retention, and help [companies] deal with these transformations that are occurring. It can change the way you serve customers for the better. You can get more of your humans working on the thing that humans do the best, which is carrying on conversations with other humans. [Automation helps you] extract that labor value and move it into the right places.”

SOURCE: Nedlund, E. (12 February 2020) "Employees are fearful of being replaced by automation" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/news/employees-are-fearful-of-being-replaced-by-automation


Data-Driven Decisions Start with These 4 Questions

With data being considered the new oil, unique advantages are being brought into the business world. Properly using data can result in unimaginable possibilities, but to get the correct answers the right questions must be asked.  Read this blog post to learn more about how data is introducing optimized operations and new possibilities with the help of new questions being asked.


Data has become central to how we run our businesses today. In fact, the global market intelligence firm International Data Corporation (IDC) projects spending on data and analytics to reach $274.3 billion by 2022. However, much of that money is not being spent wisely. Gartner analyst Nick Heudecker‏ has estimated that as many as 85% of big data projects fail.

A big part of the problem is that numbers that show up on a computer screen take on a special air of authority. Once data are pulled in through massive databases and analyzed through complex analytics software, we rarely ask where it came from, how it’s been modified, or whether it’s fit for the purpose intended.

The truth is that to get useful answers from data, we can’t just take it at face value. We need to learn how to ask thoughtful questions. In particular, we need to know how it was sourced, what models were used to analyze it, and what was left out. Most of all, we need to go beyond using data simply to optimize operations and leverage it to imagine new possibilities.

We can start by asking:

How was the data sourced?

Data, it’s been said, is the plural of anecdote. Real-world events, such as transactions, diagnostics, and other relevant information, are recorded and stored in massive server farms. Yet few bother to ask where the data came from, and unfortunately, the quality and care with which data is gathered can vary widely. In fact, a Gartner study recently found that firms lose an average of $15 million per year due to poor data quality.

Often data is subject to human error, such as when poorly paid and unmotivated retail clerks perform inventory checks. However, even when the data collection process is automated, there are significant sources of error, such as intermittent power outages in cellphone towers or mistakes in the clearing process for financial transactions.

Data that is of poor quality or used in the wrong context can be worse than no data at all. In fact, one study found that 65% of a retailer’s inventory data was inaccurate. Another concern, which has become increasingly important since the EU passed stringent GDPR data standards is whether there was proper consent when the data was collected.

So don’t just assume the data you have is accurate and of good quality. You have to ask where it was sourced from and how it’s been maintained. Increasingly, we need to audit our data transactions with as much care as we do our financial transactions.

How was it analyzed?

Even if data is accurate and well maintained, the quality of analytic models can vary widely. Often models are pulled together from open-source platforms, such as GitHub, and repurposed for a particular task. Before long, everybody forgets where it came from or how it is evaluating a particular data set.

Lapses like these are more common than you’d think and can cause serious damage. Consider the case of two prominent economists who published a working paper that warned that U.S. debt was approaching a critical level. Their work caused a political firestorm but, as it turned out, they had made a simple Excel error that caused them to overstate the effect that debt had on GDP.

As models become more sophisticated and incorporate more sources, we’re also increasingly seeing bigger problems with how models are trained. One of the most common errors is overfitting, which basically means that the more variables you use to create a model, the harder it gets to make it generally valid. In some cases, excess data can result in data leakage, in which training data gets mixed with testing data.

These types of errors can plague even the most sophisticated firms. Amazon and Google, just to name two of the most prominent cases, have recently had highly publicized scandals related to model bias. As we do with data, we need to constantly be asking hard questions of our models. Are they suited to the purpose we’re using them for? Are they taking the right factors into account? Does the output truly reflect what’s going on in the real world?

What doesn’t the data tell us?

Data models, just like humans, tend to base judgments on the information that is most available. Sometimes, the data you don’t have can affect your decision making as much as the data you do have. We commonly associate this type of availability bias with human decisions, but often human designers pass it on to automated systems.

For instance, in the financial industry, those who have extensive credit histories can access credit much easier than those who don’t. The latter, often referred to as “thin-file” clients, can find it difficult to buy a car, rent an apartment, or get a credit card. (One of us, Greg, experienced this problem personally when he returned to the U.S. after 15 years overseas).

Yet a thin file doesn’t necessarily indicate a poor credit risk. Firms often end up turning away potentially profitable customers simply because they lack data on them. Experian recently began to address this problem with its Boost program, which allows consumers to raise their scores by giving them credit for things like regular telecom and utility payments. To date, millions have signed up.

So it’s important to ask hard questions about what your data model might be missing. If you are managing what you measure, you need to ensure that what you are measuring reflects the real world, not just the data that’s easiest to collect.

How can we use data to redesign products and business models?

Over the past decade, we’ve learned how data can help us run our businesses more efficiently. Using data intelligently allows us to automate processes, predict when our machines need maintenance, and serve our customers better. It’s data that enables Amazon to offer same-day shipping.

Data can also become an important part of the product itself. To take one famous example, Netflix has long used smart data analytics to create better programming for less money. This has given the company an important edge over rivals like Disney and WarnerMedia.

Yet where it gets really exciting is when you can use data to completely re-imagine your business. At Experian, where Eric works, they’ve been able to leverage the cloud to shift from only delivering processed data in the form of credit reports to a service that offers its customers real-time access to more granular data that the reports are based on. That may seem like a subtle shift, but it’s become one of the fastest-growing parts of Experian’s business.

It’s been said that data is the new oil, but it’s far more valuable than that. We need to start treating data as more than a passive asset class. If used wisely, it can offer a true competitive edge and take a business in completely new directions. To achieve that, however, you can’t start merely looking for answers. You have to learn how to ask new questions.

SOURCE: Haller, E.; Satell, G. (11 February 2020) "Data-Driven Decisions Start with These 4 Questions" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2020/02/data-driven-decisions-start-with-these-4-questions


Employers: Make small talk with your remote workers

Working remotely is becoming a trend across many companies, and with that may come a lack of communication between employees and employers. Being intentional with communication strategies is necessary, especially to overcome different challenges that may arise within the working remotely environment. Continue reading this blog post to learn more regarding practices for managing and communicating with remote workers.


Technology makes it easier than ever to work from home, but it’s not the most important ingredient for managing a productive remote workforce.

While full-time remote work is still uncommon, employers are using the benefit to help their workforce achieve better work-life balance. Last year, 69% of employers allowed employees to work from home as needed, according to the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2019 Benefits Survey. And 42% of employers agree to let workers do it part-time, or select days of the workweek. As this perk continues to trend, it’s crucial for employers to adopt a strategy for managing people they don’t see every day.

“As a manager, people skills are crucial when your team isn’t working in the same space,” says Melissa Marcello, associate vice president at Champlain College Online — a Vermont-based employer with a large remote workforce. “When you’re relying on technology to get the work done, you really need to be intentional about your communication strategy to be successful.”

Marcello spoke with Employee Benefit News about best practices for managing remote workers.

What are some of the challenges of having a remote workforce?

While working from home gives employees the flexibility to live wherever they want and maintain better work-life balance, it can be challenging for managers to monitor everyone. Communication has to be more proactive when you can’t walk over to someone’s desk to talk about a project. Teams also need to be more organized and set clear deadlines when team members are working in different time zones.

What strategies do employers need to manage a remote workforce?

Good management skills need to be even more pronounced when you’re managing a team scattered all over the country. Managers need to have a clear vision and set clear goals to make sure everyone on the team is successful. They also need to put effort into developing relationships with individual team members and the group.

How do managers foster relationships with remote workers?

By checking in with them regularly, whether it’s by instant messaging, video conferencing or phone calls. And don’t just talk about work; ask them about what’s going on in their personal lives and about their interests. Send them funny videos over instant messaging. None of these things are wasting time. It’s what you’d do if you saw them every day in an office setting. These are the little things that build strong teams.

What tools do you need to successfully incorporate remote workers?

You need to have a space where everyone can participate in projects even when you’re not all together at the same place, or time zone, working on something. There are many digital platforms that accomplish this; our organization has been successful using G Suite.

It’s one thing to have the tools. It’s another thing to set expectations on how we use those tools and when to provide feedback. A good manager is able to harness digital tools and set the norms for a team, even if they’re in different locations.

How can remote employees ensure they remain productive?

Creating a sacred, designated work space in the home is really helpful. Claim a room in the house where you can shut the door and be dedicated to work, so everyone in the house knows you need to focus. If that’s not an option, coworking spaces are becoming increasingly popular — and you don’t have to worry about keeping your personal life and work separate.

SOURCE: Webster, K. (10 February 2020) "Employers: Make small talk with your remote workers" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/news/employers-communicate-with-your-remote-workers


Job Hoppers Seek Better Rewards, Recognition and Career Growth

Did you know: Only 33 percent of employees state that they are committed to staying at their jobs. If employees are disengaged from their work, it is easier for them to find other opportunities with promising recognition, rewards, and growth. Read this blog post to learn more about why employees might be searching for more generous benefits.


Employees have high expectations when it comes to job perks, and, if their employer doesn't offer what they want, they'll find another that will, new survey findings show.

Only one-third of employees (33 percent) say they are committed to staying at their jobs in 2020, compared to the 47 percent who had the same intention for 2019, according to the 2020 Engagement & Retention Report by employee-recognition software firm Achievers.

As the labor market stays tight, it's easy for disengaged employees to find work elsewhere. And they might try to: Just 19 percent of employees surveyed consider themselves "very engaged," while 14 percent say they are fully disengaged. Even the 32 percent with "average engagement" said they were open to new job opportunities.

The survey, conducted in October 2019, received 1,154 responses from employees across North America who were asked about their intentions for 2020.

"A substantial portion of today's workforce already has one foot out the door," said Natalie Baumgartner, Achievers' chief workforce scientist. Unless employers take steps to reverse these feelings, she said, "the risk of turnover and underperformance in 2020 is immense."

The survey found that the top three reasons employees are considering leaving their jobs are:

  • Compensation (cited by 52 percent of respondents).
  • Career growth (43 percent).
  • Recognition (19 percent).

Employees Feel Unheard, Unrecognized

Ninety percent of workers said they are more likely to stay at a company that asks for, and acts on, employee feedback. But when asked how good their manager and company are at soliciting feedback, the most common answer was just "OK," asking for it once or twice a year. As for their employers acting on feedback, "OK" was again the most common response, at 44 percent. These employees said their manager and company only talk about feedback and make few changes based on it.

Companies should make sure that employee feedback reaches managers, Baumgartner advised, and equip managers to use this feedback to address staff needs "in a personalized and timely way." These actions, she noted, can range "from small acknowledgements to larger changes that improve the employee experience and, as a result, improve engagement and retention."

As for recognition, 82 percent of surveyed employees "strongly" or "somewhat" agreed that they wished they received more recognition at work, and another 30 percent of employees said they feel "not very" or "not at all" valued by superiors.

"When organizations recognize everyday behaviors that align with their culture and goals, they help reinforce them as well as the role each employee plays," Baumgartner said.

Frequent vs. Infrequent Job Changers

After wanting more money, feeling unappreciated is the top reason infrequent job changers could be driven to leave, another recent survey found.

Joblist, a website that compiles jobs from leading job boards, last October asked nearly 1,000 workers throughout the U.S. what would make them consider accepting an offer from another employer and then compared responses from frequent and infrequent job hoppersthose who had held two or more jobs in the past five years and those who had held just one job during the same period.

The average minimum salary increase that respondents seeking other jobs would accept to stay at their current employer was $15,491, which represents a 25 percent increase, on average, over the past five years. Perks such as unlimited paid vacation, student loan assistance and paid parental leave were cited by frequent job changers as factors that would make a potential employer more attractive.

"These perks may appeal more to younger workers who are less likely to have a 'lifer' mentality" toward their employer, according to Joblist.

While both frequent and infrequent job switchers said they would leave jobs for better pay, "people who switch jobs infrequently are more likely to leave because of feeling underappreciated or undervalued," according to Joblist. "For the most part, people who don't change jobs often have made an emotional commitment to their employers, so when they feel slighted because that investment isn't being reciprocated, they're more likely to leave." Conversely, people who leave frequently are more likely to see the employer-employee relationship as transactional, "so they're less affected by those feelings."

Is Turnover So Bad?

Turnover can be disruptive and costly, but it can also be an opportunity for employers to find and develop employees who are enthusiastic about the organization and the direction in which it's heading, according to a November 2019 report from compensation data and software firm PayScale.

"Some turnover is actually good for an organization—especially in the case of overpaid, under-performing employees," said report author Conrado Tapado, content marketing manager at PayScale. "Usually employees stay when they feel satisfied and fairly compensated for their work. But sometimes, employees stay for less positive reasons," he noted, including:

  • They are overpaid. "Being overpaid leaves little incentive for workers to look for another job. They may realize how difficult it will be to find another organization that will match their salary. Thus, they are perfectly happy to stay where they are."
  • They value their benefits. "Benefits are meant to help drive retention, which is generally a good thing. However, sometimes employees remain just for the benefits but would rather be working elsewhere. Eventually, those 'golden handcuffs' will begin to chafe, and your employees may start to feel resentful."

Health care, retirement savings and paid-time-off benefits should be competitive and focused on helping employees remain productive and feel financially secure, without becoming so rich that employees don't feel they can leave, the findings suggest. Pay should be calibrated to reward performance through variable compensation tied to achieving personal, team and organizational goals, with base pay increases made according to merit and not treated as an entitlement.

The Right Benefits Balance

"Creating a benefits package that incentivizes good employees to stay without deterring uninspired employees from leaving can be tricky," said Amy Stewart, PayScale's senior content marketing manager.

That can happen when employers offer benefits with a high monetary value that employees only receive if they stay put and hold tight, such as pensions or stock options that vest over time. People can also stay in an unpleasant situation for benefits that would be hard to find elsewhere, such as a paid sabbatical, a four-day workweek or paid child care, Stewart said.

A possible solution is to "experiment with rewarding some benefits in exchange for high performance, such as Fridays off or opportunities to work from home only if certain metrics are hit," she said.

Compensation is similar, Stewart explained, as employees with above-market pay are often reluctant to leave. "When you have a highly paid employee who isn't performing to a high standard, sometimes the answer isn't a change in compensation or a new job, but a new challenge. If their interest in their current work is waning, they might need new work, but it doesn't necessarily have to be at another organization," Stewart said. "Employees who have stopped learning in their current position may become revitalized in a position that offers them new opportunities to grow."

SOURCE: Miller, S. (06 February 2020) "Job Hoppers Seek Better Rewards, Recognition and Career Growth" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/ResourcesAndTools/hr-topics/benefits/Pages/job-hoppers-seek-better-rewards-recognition-career-growth.aspx


The Saxon Advisor - February 2020

Compliance Check

what you need to know


Section 6055/6056 Reporting. Employers must file Forms 1094-B and 1095-B, and Forms 1094-C and 1095-C with the IRS by February 28, 2020 if they are filed on paper.

Form 1099-R Paper Filing. Employers must file Form 1099-R with the IRS by February 28, 2020 if they are filed on paper.

CMS Medicare Part D Disclosure. Employers that provide prescription drug coverage must disclose to the CMS whether the plan’s prescription drug coverage is creditable or non-creditable.

Summary of Material Modifications Distribution. Employers who offer a group health plan that is subject to ERISA must distribute a SMM for plan changes that were adopted at the beginning of the year that are material reductions in plan benefits or services.

Section 6055/6056 Individual Statements (2019 EXTENDED DEADLINE). Applicable large employers (ALEs) that sponsor self-insured health plans must disclose information about plan coverage to covered employees each year. This deadline was extended from January 31, 2020, to March 2, 2020, this year by the IRS.

ADP/ACP Refunds. Corrective refunds for a failed ADP/ACP test must be made by March 15, 2020, to avoid 10 percent excise tax penalties.

Section 6055/6056 Reporting (Electronic Filing Deadline). Applicable large employers (ALEs) that sponsor self-insured health plans are required by Internal Revenue Code Sections 6055 and 6056 to report information about the coverage to the IRS yearly. IRS Forms 1094-C and 1095-C are used to report coverage information. March 31, 2020, is the deadline to submit these forms if employers are filing electronically.

COBRA General Notice. Employers who provide group health plans must provide a written General Notice of COBRA rights to all covered employees and spouses (if applicable). This notice must be provided 90 days after health plan coverage begins.

Summary Plan Description (SPD). Employers who offer group health plans that are subject to ERISA must provide Summary Plan Descriptions (SPD) to employees who newly enrolled at the beginning of the plan year.

Form 1099-R (Electronic Filing Deadline). Employers must file Form 1099-R with the IRS by March 31, 2020, if they are filed electronically.

Form 5330. The Form 5330 excise tax return and payment for excess 2018 ADP/ACP contributions are due March 31, 2020.

In this Issue

  • Upcoming Compliance Deadlines
  • How to Speak to Your Employees About Their Intimidating Benefits – Featuring Jamie Charlton
  • Fresh Brew Featuring Nat Gustafson
  • This month’s Saxon U: What Employers Should Know About the SECURE Act
  • March’s Saxon U: Saxon’s Humana GO365 Annual Wellness Clinic
  • #CommunityStrong: American Heart Association Heart Mini Fundraising

What Employers Should Know About the SECURE Act

Join us for this interactive and educational Saxon U seminar with Todd Yawit, Director of Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plans at Saxon Financial Services, as we discuss what the SECURE Act is and how it impacts your employer-sponsored retirement plan.

How to Speak to Your Employees About Their Intimidating Benefits

Bringing the knowledge of our in-house advisors right to you...


Employers spend thousands annually to secure and offer benefits to their employees. However, a small amount of time and money are devoted to ensuring employees understand and appreciate their benefits. Properly communicating – what you say, how you say it and to whom you say it to – can make a tremendous difference in how employees think, feel and react to their benefits, employer and fellow co-workers.

In this installment of CenterStage, Jamie Charlton, founding partner and CEO of Saxon Financial Services, discusses the importance of offering sound education of benefits to employees, as well as how to effectively communicate their benefits in a clear, concise manner.

Advice from Jamie

Fresh Brew Featuring Nat Gustafson

“Always be prepared.”


This month’s Fresh Brew features Nat Gustafson, an Account Manager at Saxon.

In his free time, Nat enjoys snowboarding. When thinking about his greatest adventure, he remembers traveling around Italy. He lives by the catchphrase of, “Roll up your sleeves.”

Nat’s favorite brew is Rhinegeist Truth. His favorite local spot to grab his favorite brew is Mount Lookout Tavern on Linwood Avenue.

Nat’s favorite snack to enjoy with his brew is Chicken wings.

Learn More About Nat

This Month's #CommunityStrong:
American Heart Association Heart Mini Fundraising

This January, February & March, the Saxon team and their families will be teaming up to raise money for the American Heart Association Heart Mini!

Saxon’s Humana GO365 Annual Wellness Clinic

Learn what Go365 is, how it works, how to create engaged employees and how to maximize the 15% wellness incentive credit from the program.

Monthly compliance alerts, educational articles and events
- courtesy of Saxon Financial Advisors.