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5 Ways You’re Losing as an Employer

By | Articles, Employee Morale, General HR, Manager Training, Performance, Retention, Turnover | No Comments

There’s a phenomenon that many HR nerds refer to as the employee lifecycle, and if it’s something you’re not managing, you may be losing out as an employer.

The employee lifecycle refers to the various stages of relationship that an employee has with their employer. Human resources plays a key role in every aspect of the employee lifecycle. Here’s what I mean.

  1. Recruiting

Recruiting efforts can have a lasting impact on the entire company, which also affects the company’s future performance. Consider a prospective employee with incredible talent who doesn’t get the right impression of your business from day one. Without a second thought, they may easily turn to other prospective job options. How do you combat this?

  • Show that you’re up-to-date with technology by offering an applicant tracking system, allowing employees to apply online for vacant positions and maintaining communication through all stages of the application process.
  • Provide interviewer training for your managers to maintain consistency and reduce risks.
  • Be competitive with overall compensation packages.
  1. Onboarding

Did you know that 20% of employees depart in the first 45 days of employment? Studies have shown that proper onboarding can reduce turnover. Here’s where to start:

  • Provide digital paperwork so that new employees can complete all new hire paperwork before ever coming to work, allowing their first day on the job to be productive.
  • Ensure your employee handbook is up-to-date so that policies are never a question.
  • Make all employer information and benefit details easily accessible.
  • Train managers on proper onboarding techniques to ensure consistency and reduce risks.
  • Have all the necessary tools ready for the new employee on day one, such as email, computer and phone.
  • Follow these other onboarding tips.
  1. Career development and training.

Employee retention is closely tied to an employee’s satisfaction with the workplace and their individual role. Now settled in, employees are looking to take on more responsibilities to help the business succeed. Here are some tips to make this become reality:

  • Communicate your expectations and how employees are doing with regular one-on-one meetings, performance reviews, goal setting, and so on.
  • Develop employees with trainings and opportunities to position them for future growth.
  • Ensure all staff members are aware of internal job opportunities to encourage growth from within.
  • Maintain employee information in a cloud-based system for management to quickly review details needed for advancement decisions.
  1. Employee engagement, employee recognition and employee relations.

Even if you’ve trained and taught your employees everything they need to know to be successful, they also need to feel valued. Now you need to keep motivation high and cultivate a workplace where respect is paramount, information is easy to obtain, and employees understand how essential they are to the success of the business. How do you do this?

  • Create team building opportunities to help employees engage with each other.
  • Implement employee recognition programs to sustain momentum.
  • Determine how the workplace is doing through employee surveys.
  • Conduct stay interviews.
  • Investigate and document workplace violations and conflicts to ensure resolutions conform with policy.
  1. Termination

There’s an inherent risk associated with employment termination, whether it’s employee- or employer-initiated. The best way to protect yourself and the employee is to maintain positive relationships whenever possible and have policies in place before a split occurs. Emotions, regardless of a positive or less-than-desirable split, naturally run high for everyone involved. Mitigating risks to the employer is the number one goal during this stage. Here’s how:

  • Provide answers regarding benefits, final paycheck, retirement policies and more in a respectful and courteous manner. It’s not uncommon for a former employee to return to a workplace, even years later.
  • Develop termination policies and procedures to help reduce risks.
  • Disseminate and complete paperwork pertaining to departure.
  • Provide timely final pay and other due compensation.
  • Conduct exit interviews.

Not all small businesses are capable of taking on each stage of the employee lifecycle, which is just one of the reasons it’s a good idea to work with a full-service HR outsourcing firm or PEO like You’ll access employee management technology, essential human resource services, affordable and competitive benefits plans, risk management assistance, digital HR tools, and more. Request a free demo today for more information.

5 ways losing as employer

Whether you have an in-house HR team or you outsource your HR, you should be turning to these professionals to ensure you’re optimizing each stage of the employee lifecycle to help you win each phase of employment.

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Fair Workweek Rules – What Employers Need to Know

By | Articles, Employee Morale, General HR, Manager Training, Newsletter, Retention, Turnover | No Comments

Predictive scheduling, or Fair Workweek Rules, seem to be the latest trend in workplace regulations to protect hourly workers. When San Francisco first enacted these laws in 2015, the intent was to provide more advance notice regarding work schedules and to ensure schedules were fair. For employers, however, these laws have signaled greater fines and penalties. With several more cities and two states now following suit, what exactly are the rules? Are they really necessary? And will they soon be coming to a city near you?

What are the Fair Workweek Rules?

There are four primary rules consistently found among the Fair Workweek regulations:

  1. Two-weeks’ notice: Schedules must be made available to employees for a minimum of two weeks in advance.
  2. Minimal changes: If the scheduler must make changes within that minimum two-week notice window, they must be documented and have good reason. Employers may also need to pay premiums to employees for any schedule changes made within that window if it’s for anything outside of filling in for a sick employee.
  3. No “clopenings” allowed: Employers cannot enact the practice of “clopening,” which is scheduling employees to work closing shifts and then having them return hours later to open the business. Employees must be allowed a rest period (11 hours) between the end of one shift and the start of another. If an employee must return prior to the rest period ending, the employer must pay a premium.
  4. Maintain records: scheduling records now must be retained for three years, including original hours, schedule changes, time off requests, shift swap or change requests, shift cancellations, and more.
Fair Workweek Rules

Whether or not you are currently impacted, ask your timekeeping solution about their implemented adaptations to comply with the Fair Workweek Rules, such as flagging potential violations and allowing employees to easily trade shifts.

Who is affected by the Fair Workweek Rules?

The Fair Workweek rules are primarily aimed at large employers in the retail and restaurant sectors and have already been enacted in San Francisco, San Jose, Emeryville, Seattle, New York City, Oregon, Washington DC, and New Hampshire. If your business is not in one of those industries or areas, you may still need to prepare since these regulations are likely to drive changes to other businesses that employ blue-collar workers nationwide.

Are the Fair Workweek laws necessary?

At first glance, these laws seem a little extreme to employers. However, the working class that these laws are trying to protect are typically those with the lowest incomes (see statistics here).  Many of them work more than one part-time job and/or are caretakers that have to juggle multiple schedules. Because these employees tend to experience greater work-family conflict and related stress due to their irregular shift times, these laws are to help employers consider the implications before mandating any last-second schedule changes.

What should employers do about the Fair Workweek Rules if they aren’t currently affected?

Rather than wait to be acted upon (and be penalized for violations), employers should start today by adopting the principles within these rules:

  • Provide employees with two weeks’ notice of their schedules.
  • Try to make very few schedule changes within the two-week window.
  • Avoid scheduling employees for any “clopening” shifts.
  • Consider allowing employees to choose their own schedules and/or request their input:
    • Would they prefer to have the same, more or less hours?
    • Which nights would they be available as back-up to come in if customer demands require additional working staff?
  • Provide incentives for employees who were needed to clock in when they weren’t otherwise scheduled.

Adopting employee-friendly practices that include employee feedback will not only help employees feel valued, it will also create loyalty and help reduce turnover. Your proactive efforts may also improve manager relations with employees, particularly when it comes to dealing with scheduling problems. For more information about this or any other workplace regulation, please contact our HR experts at

Our team provides expert guidance for compliance and other employee issues. For more information, simply fill out the form below and our business development team will be in touch with you shortly.

Small business: Is your applicant tracking system working against you?

By | Articles, Company Growth, Human Resources Information System (HRIS), Newsletter, Recruiting, Retention | No Comments

I remember when we all hired from resumes. Really, it wasn’t long ago, but it was a very slow and sometimes painful process.

That’s why I was thrilled when the first ATS (applicant tracking system) hit the market. Because they make short work of screening candidates so the cream rises to the top, these solutions were quickly adopted by big businesses looking to fast-track quality hiring.

Small businesses, however, were frequently left behind in this process: an applicant tracking system was expensive, standalone software. Although reading only a handful or resumes for an occasional available position was doable, requiring paper resumes was not only a waste of some occasional spare time, it was limiting the applicant pool. Fortunately that’s changed, since now small businesses can affordably access applicant tracking software, too.

My question now for small business isn’t “when are you going to adopt the technology,” it’s “are you using your ATS right so you get the best candidates?”

How to use an Applicant Tracking System

Back when we read resumes and used our own wits to assess which applicants moved to the screening round, it was pretty rare that a really amazing candidate got past anyone. But it was even rarer that key roles were filled in a timely manner, which put those amazing candidates at risk of finding another job in the mean time.

Problems arise, however, when you either have your ATS do too much or too little. Like all HR technology, your applicant tracking software needs support from experts. Companies that sell you access to an applicant tracking system but don’t provide guidance on how to get the right candidates could saddle your hiring efforts with the following problems:

Thesaurus unwanted — so is creativity. When you set up a job in an applicant tracking system, you’ll include keywords that you want the ATS to find in the application. Candidates are graded on the usage of these keywords/terms, and scored based on the number of times specific keywords appear (“keyword density”). Our ATS is no exception. For some roles, however, we caution against relying on keywords too much: really great candidates may also be very creative causing them to steer clear of repetitive descriptions for jobs. They may also use terminology that was unique to a former employer. You can tell your applicant tracking system to look for synonyms, but I’d also suggest consulting an HR pro and taking a quick glance at any application that doesn’t quite make the cut but seems awfully close. That way you’re not eliminating truly creative minds.

The slacker who found the right article. Have you ever Googled “Applicant tracking system?” It’s why I wrote this article — because of the plethora of articles for job applicants that look at how to talk to the ATS, not to the prospective employer. Each of these articles centers around one thing: maximizing an ATS score without increasing experience. While I could never fault a candidate who speaks the language of their audience, if your small business is only inviting the top 10 applicants from the applicant tracking system to an in-person interview, you want to fill the interview slots with the best applicants. Period. Your ATS scores should single out the top candidates … but it’s still advisable to review anyone who scores a “close second” to ensure you’re getting candidates with the greatest potential to excel at the job, not the application process.

Experience is all wrong … but not really. You need your applicant tracking system to send you people with the most relevant experience. Be sure, however, you consider the following:

  • Limiting experience to 2-8 years could rule out great candidates with 12 years of experience. Not everyone is concerned about upward mobility in a company — sometimes candidates just want to be experts at the one thing they love to do.
  • Rigid job titles and levels might eliminate applicants who held relevant positions in companies that used different titles and hierarchies. “Manager” seems like a pretty straightforward title, but at some companies, every frontline employee is deemed a manager; at other companies, senior managers are labeled as “group leads” or “strategists.” You just never know.
  • Screening for MBAs-only could cause candidates with three undergraduate degrees, a JD or an MFA to score lower, even with relevant experience that far exceed the MBA candidate.
  • Ignoring a candidate with a recent work history gap could mean you might miss a strong contributor who took a few years off to raise a child, write a book, care for a parent, start a business, travel, or finish an advanced degree. Imagine what that background could do for your business.

HR technology is one of the best ways to make employee management easier for companies of all sizes. But if your small business relies solely on technology without expert guidance to back it up, you may be missing the mark in everything from compliance to recruiting and hiring.

Today’s applicant tracking systems are pretty incredible, but it’s still a good idea to consult with an HR professional when you start using one and to ensure your team is trained in more than just how to use the system. Ask the provider of your HR tools if they offer training on how to write effective job descriptions and how to conduct screenings and interviews, too (if they don’t, it’s time to move elsewhere — training and accessible expertise are essential for small teams). While you no longer have to buy a big-business, big-expense applicant tracking system to tap into the productivity advantages that enterprise-level counterparts have, you do have to stay competitive by finding the right candidates for your small-but-growing team. Just be sure technology is working for you, not against you.

applicant tracking system

How to ensure you’re getting the most from your applicant tracking system.
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the real cost of employee turnover

Vacancies can add up to big costs for businesses (see infographic above); when you’re staring down a stack of 90 applications for a single opening, your applicant tracking system is a lifesaver.

Are you ready to start using an applicant tracking system? Contact your rep today! If you aren’t currently a client, please fill out the information below and we’ll be in touch with you shortly.

Are you the reason employee engagement stinks?

By | Articles, Employee Morale, General HR, Manager Training, Newsletter, Performance, Retention | No Comments

Personally, I love your pool table. The last thing I want you to do is stop having stress relievers available to employees, especially when they commit so much time to be at work. However, if employee engagement, motivation, or morale seem off, it’s not because you need to add to your collection of stress-relieving toys; it may just be YOU that’s the problem.

Moi? Yes. Workplace leadership both directly and indirectly drives employee engagement. I’m not saying that you or your leaders are bad bosses (those exist, they just don’t read articles like this). But you may be missing some easy opportunities to make your workplace better — even without a climbing wall.

You can start by asking yourself these six questions. Each one points to a pretty simple but necessary solution that you need to keep employee engagement high.

1. Are you giving employees the services they need … and want? If your business is small enough, you may not be required to provide health insurance (if you have fewer than 50 employees). Or you may have opted to keep expenses down by offering only a  high-priced/low-benefit plan. Either of these could indirectly hurt employee engagement. How? Because high-priced or low-coverage health insurance frequently carries the following unintended side effects:

  1. Employees (and recruits) look for employers that offer better coverage plans.
  2. Employees avoid treatment until the situation escalates because of the cash outlay required.
  3. Employees spend time fighting with doctor’s offices over bills.

Advice: Offer a competitive insurance plan. Yes, these do exist, even for small employers.

2. Are morale-building efforts actually a distraction? Anytime you’re attempting to build morale, you’re doing a good thing. Just remember that employees want and need to be productive, too.  Advice: Limit the number of big events to just one or two per year and add smaller-scale, drop-in activities at the workplace that have similar impact without the commitment. For example, schedule company-wide potlucks once a month in the breakroom or a Friday afternoon ice cream social on the front lawn. Small get-togethers not only improve morale, they can increase productivity, too.

3. Do bigger cultural issues slip by? Today’s news is filled with stories of sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. These aren’t isolated incidents affecting just the victim or where responsibility lies only with the accused. Advice: Don’t try to do everything yourself. Work with your HR rep to set up employee training to review your company’s anti-sexual harassment policy and protocol to ensure compliance. This training in should be held on an annual basis.

4. Do employees know they’re appreciated? There’s a need in everyone to feel valued, to know that they’re making a contribution that matters. Advice: Praise employees one-on-one for a job well done. Set up simple appreciation programs, like an employee-of-the-month. (Want an affordable reward? How about access to a reserved parking space during the month that follows.) You could even set a goal for yourself: seek out one employee each day, shake their hand and thank them for a very specific thing they did — that way they know you’re paying attention. That little bit of effort can go a long way towards improving employee engagement.

5. Have you asked your employees how you can make the workplace better? The best workplaces survey their employees regularly and act on the results. Advice: Set up a survey today to gauge employee engagement, but keep it simple — even just three to five questions can provide you with great insight. You may also be able to use surveys to help you decide on workplace changes and new expenditures, like updated office chairs vs. a meeting room scheduler.

6. Do your employees know whether they’re winning or losing at work? This can be defined by whether you’ve set clear expectations and goals for your employees. If an employee always knows what is expected, where they stand, and how their individual work aligns to the company’s overall mission and goals, they are much more likely to be engaged and perform at a higher level. 

Boosting employee engagement starts by ensuring the workplace is working well first. By asking yourself a few simple questions, you’ll get a better view of what you can do to make affordable improvements. Be sure to talk to your expert whenever you need help!

employee engagement

The solution to your employee engagement problems might be discovered in these six simple questions.
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One of the reasons your full-time employees give up 8+ hours of each weekday is because they want to provide comfort and security for their families — and that includes matters of health.

Sometimes formal, event-style, morale-building activities take a big bite out of schedules and result in employees working off the clock to make up for time spent having fun.

As an employer, it’s essential that you provide a safe, comfortable work environment for all employees.

When people are heads-down at work every day, it’s easy to forget that what you’re doing matters.

The answers your employees provide on an employee survey may include great ideas for improving the workplace, even if you don’t want to sign on for a Friday afternoon dessert cart.

If your only clarification of employee performance is from an annual evaluation, that leaves the rest of the year for employees to wonder whether they’re helping the company reach its goals, or if their behavior and actions are actually working against them.

Interested in learning more about how can help improve your employee engagement? Simply fill out the form below and our business development team will be in touch with you shortly.

Sexual Harassment Nightmare at a Small Business

By | Articles, Company Growth, Discrimination, General HR, Manager Training, Risk Management | No Comments

There’s almost nothing worse than a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against your small business.

For me, it happened when I owned a small chain of salons. One of my employees was doing a wash on a client and the unthinkable happened. I wasn’t there so I don’t know exactly what transpired, but the end result was a harassment suit filed against my business.

What I do know is what I, the business owner, went through. It turns out my experience isn’t that different from other small businesses in the same situation.

  • Digging for paperwork. As a small business owner, when a harassment claim lands on your desk, your first instinct is to start looking for paperwork. Plain and simple, you freak out. I started tearing the place apart, checking to see if my insurance would cover this. I read every article I could find regarding “how to handle a harassment case.” I’m not sure I ever slept.
  • Finding a lawyer. Eventually you regain your wits and call a lawyer. For me, this wasn’t a one-and-done task, though. Attorneys and legal assistants wanted to hear all about the case before they would decide whether they wanted to take it or not, which meant I was re-telling the story. A lot.
  • Paying legal fees. Lawyers want to be paid. The meter starts running the moment they say “I do.”
  • Living in meetings. My favorite part of being a business owner was spending time with our customers. Guess what I didn’t have time for? Yup, work. I spent so much time in meetings that attending to my real job was just a dream. I had meetings with each employee in the shop that day, phone meetings and in-person meetings with lawyers, meetings with the employee accused of sexual harassment to learn his side of the story. Forget about growing your business; when your small business has a sexual harassment claim, you just want to keep it from shutting down.
  • Earning a reputation. Word gets around. When a harassment claim is filed against your business or someone associated with your workplace, you lose customers. There is no way around this.
  • Deciding what to do about the employee. Through all of this, you also have an HR challenge. I had to decide whether I should keep the employee, put him on leave or let him go. Taking the wrong action could result in another lawsuit, but, honestly, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution here. It all depends on the situation.
  • Paying a settlement. Eventually your case either goes to court or you end up settling with the accuser/victim. We did the latter, which involved even more back and forth with my attorney (everything gets billed to you) and a cash settlement. All of this was in addition to our other expenses: my lost time, customer attrition, employee productivity, legal fees, etc.

Everything about the situation was a nightmare and a headache. I realize now that a big part of the problem was that I was trying to handle everything myself (not the legal proceedings — but everything else). But that’s how I ran my business — I was a hands-on owner. Turns out there are better ways.

What I should have done when my small business had a harassment suit

I’ve written about hiring and employee terminations and how much easier the process is when you’re working with a PEO (Professional Employer Organization). Guess what else is easier? Responding to harassment allegations or any type of employment-related lawsuit. Here’s what would have been different.

  1. A full-service PEO would have launched an investigation. If I had been working with a full-service PEO like, I would have picked up the phone, told my rep what happened, and would have handled things. They would have launched an internal investigation (I was supposed to do that?). They would have given me advice on how to handle the employee. They may have even advised me on an attorney.
  2. A PEO would have ensured I knew about EPLI and how to get it. Before the harassment ever happened, a PEO would have educated me on being smart about running my business. A little knowledge about EPLI (Employment Practices Liability Insurance) would have been invaluable.
  3. A full-service PEO could have helped with manager training. You know the best way to avoid a sexual harassment lawsuit at your business? Prevent them. Train your managers and ensure everyone understands what’s right, what’s wrong, and what prevention looks like. While not every PEO does this, some, like, will assist with employee training.
  4. A full-service PEO could have helped with my employee handbook and policies. I laughed when I wrote this one — I didn’t have an employee handbook! But it’s a good idea for businesses, regardless of size, to have one., for example, can conduct a review of policies, make recommendations, and provide sample language. In my situation, having a policy might have helped me figure out what to do about the accused employee. It would have also informed my own employees on how to report harassment and what they should do.
  5. A PEO would have saved me time, money and hassle. If you know anything about PEOs, this goes without saying. Your PEO might handle payroll, benefits administration and workers’ comp. Some of them, like, also answer questions from employees, conduct manager trainings, provide paperless onboarding (so I know for certain that an employee has read the policies and understands them, and I have a record of everything), handle risk management, and a whole lot of other things you might only get with an internal HR team. These are all great services, but until my company was hit with a sexual harassment claim, I never really knew how “over my head” I was. If I had someone to go to for advice and answers, someone who knew exactly what to do and who took action quickly, I would have spared myself a lot of hassle, stress, effort and probably a few other things, too.
Sexual Harassment Small Business

Facts and figures about workplace harassment

  • 75% of U.S. workers have been affected by discrimination or harassment as victim or witness
  • 29.4% of discrimination suits filed in the U.S. in 2016 were sexual, including harassment
  • $125,000 is the average cost for small business to defend a discrimination suit
  • 11.7% chance that a U.S. small/medium businesses will face a discrimination lawsuit

Insurance Journal

Take my advice – don’t wait to look into a PEO before your small business runs into employment nightmares. Start today by getting a free quote from! Simply fill out the form below and our business development team will be in touch with you shortly.

Tax Reform – What it Means for Employees

By | Articles, Health Reform Updates, Newsletter, Payroll, Press Releases | No Comments

With the late December tax reform bill, many employees are wondering how this will impact them in 2018. We’ve written a brief summary below of some of the frequently asked questions regarding tax reform and their impact on individuals.

When does the new tax law take effect?

The tax law won’t apply to the taxes you’re about to file for 2017. Most provisions that affect individuals and businesses take effect January 1, 2018, meaning your 2018 paychecks should see more take-home pay as soon as tax charts are updated by the IRS. If you would like to adjust your W-4 per the new tax law, you are able to do so via Mobile. However, the IRS has emphasized that the new tax reform information “will be designed to work with the existing Forms W-4 that employees have already filed, and no further action by taxpayers is needed at this time.”

What are the new tax rates per tax reform?

New individual tax rates go into effect January 1, 2018. These individual tax rates will sunset after 2025, meaning a new congress will need to determine whether they are extended or discontinued at that point. See the previous tax rates versus the 2018 tax rates (per the new tax reform bill) in the image on the right-hand side.

What is the standard deduction under the new tax law?

The standard deduction, or the dollar amount that can be subtracted from income before income tax is applied (for non-itemizers), jumps from $6,500 to $12,000 for single filers, and increases from $13,000 to $24,000 for joint filers.

What is the child tax credit per the new tax law?

The child tax credit doubles from $1,000 to $2,000 (up to $1,400 refundable – even if you don’t owe taxes, and depending on your earned income) per qualifying child. Learn more about the child tax credit here. There is also a new non-refundable “family” tax credit of $500 for qualifying dependents that are not children.

What changes to tax reform affect the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)?

One major change included in the tax reform law impacts Obamacare: the individual mandate will be repealed with this new tax law as of 2019. This means persons will no longer be required to “secure health insurance or pay a penalty.” Many project this to be the official unraveling of Obamacare, as the individual mandate is a critical element to making it sustainable. (If healthy individuals will choose not to have coverage with the elimination of the individual mandate, the balance of those who are insured will tip towards those who are sick, which will increase the cost of healthcare overall.) Employers with 50+ employees still have to provide ACA- compliant health coverage and reporting requirements will remain intact.

When will the IRS have more guidance about tax reform?

As of December 26, 2017, the IRS issued this statement:
“We anticipate issuing the initial withholding guidance in January, and employers and payroll service providers will be encouraged to implement the changes in February… Use of the new 2018 withholding guidelines will allow taxpayers to begin seeing the changes in their paychecks as early as February. In the meantime, employers and payroll service providers should continue to use the existing 2017 withholding tables and systems.”

For questions or concerns about how tax reform may impact you personally, please contact your tax professional.

Tax Reform - Employees

After the IRS updates tax charts, employees should see more take-home pay.
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Tax Reform Chart

Click the image to compare 2017 tax rates with the new 2018 tax rates.

Why payroll outsourcing may not be all unicorns and rainbows

By | Articles, Company Growth, Payroll, Risk Management | No Comments

Thinking of outsourcing your payroll? You’re not alone. Research indicates that a little less than half of all businesses in the U.S. already put their company payrolls in the hands of others.

Although “time” is usually the top reason for choosing to outsource (sound familiar?), there are plenty of other reasons companies hand off this essential duty to someone else. Still, outsourcing your company’s payroll doesn’t magically usher in unicorns and rainbows. As someone who has worked in the payroll outsourcing world for nearly 20 years, I can attest that payroll outsourcing can come with some potential risks to keep in mind.

Data security

Pros: Most outsourced payroll services and cloud-based applications go to great lengths to ensure your employee data is secure — because nothing says “gotta go” like a client data security breach. (By the way, security breaches are more likely to occur when a well-meaning, internal employee uses a software application resident on his or her laptop and leaves the device or the program unsecured … in Starbucks.)

Cons: Of course, there are exceptions. For example, payroll and HR outsourcing giant ADP fell victim to a data security breach that affected the employee data of dozens of its clients. While the breach occurred outside of ADP’s secure system, it was facilitated because policies didn’t include strong data security enforcement.

In general, if your payroll provider isn’t taking measures like the following, your employee data is no safer than that laptop in the coffee shop.

  • Generate a unique code for each new employee to set up an online profile
  • Provide instructions for setting up an employee profile privately rather than listing them online
  • Require strong passwords
  • Encrypt confidential information
  • Install patches (this should not be the responsibility of the client)
  • Conduct security audits through an outside vendor

Advice: Ask questions about how data is secured, whether you’re planning to outsource to a large company or a single person. At, for example, we encrypt ALL client employee data, do all of the updates ourselves, and we’re SSAE 16 SOC 1 Type 2 certified — which means we’re audited by an independent firm to verify that our systems and controls are secured. (This audit also tells us if there are areas for improvement.) Also, stay away from any solution that stores personal employee data on a desktop rather than in the Cloud. Not only will Cloud security be better, you’ll get other benefits, too, like the ability to access the data and review payroll yourself wherever you are.

State, local and federal regulation compliance

Pros: Any good payroll professional should know which regulations apply to you and your employees, such as tax cutoffs. They should also know which payroll deductions are allowed, how bonuses affect taxes, what you can pay a teen, and more.

If you work with a PEO (Professional Employer Organization) for your payroll outsourcing provider, you should receive notifications of when you reach regulation thresholds and whether or not they directly affect payroll. 

Cons: Giant payroll processors have a ton of people you can talk to but none provides the individual attention that’s required to keep you in compliance. In other words, if you work with a really big payroll outsourcing service, you’re still going to need to keep a close eye on everything.

Advice: Find out how each payroll provider you’re considering works. At, for example, we provide HR outsourcing for a lot of clients and provide services like we’re their in-house HR and payroll departments. I personally process payroll for clients and work one-on-one with them to make sure everything is in order (all of our payroll, benefits and HR reps do this, too). So, yes, I know when there’s a regulation that needs to be addressed or when an individual employee request is going to require a change to payroll.

Costs of outsourcing payroll

Pros: You will pay less when you outsource your payroll since you’re not paying for a full-time person to run your payroll in-house. Outsourcing also beats running payroll yourself, which can  get very costly very quickly in both time and potential for errors.

Cons: In terms of cost, some payroll providers nickel and dime you for everything. (You need to run an extra check because somebody missed their time punch? Extra charge. You’re changing your PTO plan? Extra charge.) Check the fine print of their service fees. You’ll also want to ensure the organization stays on top of the regulations that you need to meet or else you’ll be paying fines for noncompliance. Then there’s also the concern about getting the level of service you want for the price you’re paying. In any of these instances, you may wind up spending extra to get those additional services through another resource and/or have to settle with a frustrating provider that is simply the “best bang for your buck.” (Or so you thought.)

Advice: Do some quick math — how much time is your existing staff spending on payroll? Consider the costs of hiring a full-time (or even part-time) payroll professional, with or without all of the recruiting and potential turnover costs. Then get a quote to compare expected wages v service fee. If you’re still not sure, compare the services you’d get from a team of professionals at the outsourced price versus what an individual employee can do. Although I may be biased, I know first-hand that my clients need more than just my payroll expertise, which is why our full-service HR team is such a perfect fit for growing businesses.

Answering questions about payroll

Pros: Ever notice that paychecks seem to breed questions? Fortunately, when you outsource your payroll, you won’t be the one who has to answer all of them. Most large payroll providers, including, also provide employees with an online, self-service portal where they can view their check stubs, make withholding changes, update their direct deposit account(s), and get the majority of their payroll and HR questions answered on their own time.

Cons: Sometimes a self-serve HR system isn’t enough. And there’s nothing more frustrating than telling an employee with a paycheck problem to call a number that leads to a phone tree that’s staffed by someone who has never heard of him or her and who has to get all of the background information again, open a case, and do some research before returning with an answer. Or worse, when the payroll provider is “not authorized to answer employees’ payroll questions and kicks the question back to you.

Advice: Choose a payroll provider that gives your employees a self-serve HR system along with a dedicated rep for any questions that need a human touch. It’s how we operate at — all of us who work with payroll know the names of the people whose paychecks we’ve worked on, which means it’s pretty easy for us to get an individual answer about any question quickly, assuming they can verify who they are. also has a handy “chat feature” built into our website for employees to instantly chat with one of our representatives, making it really easy and convenient for them to communicate with our team.

Bottom line: consider the pros and cons of payroll outsourcing and then decide if it’s right for you. Outsourcing isn’t the right decision for every company, but it certainly works great for my clients.

Outsource payroll

My favorite reasons for outsourcing payroll? Not having to deal with compliance laws and deductions, only writing one check, and plain-old expertise.

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How laws change as you grow

At, we ensure the companies we work with are compliant with all applicable regulations as they grow – because nobody likes paying fines. Chat Feature has a “chat feature” built into the website for anyone to instantly chat with one of our representatives.

Is outsourcing right for your business? Find out today! Let give you a free quote customized to your specific needs.

All the Reasons You Shouldn’t Work with a PEO

By | Articles, Company Growth, General HR | No Comments

If working with a PEO (Professional Employer Organization) can boost business growth by 7-9%, lower turnover by 10-14% and make it more likely that a company will increase YOY profits and stay in business from one year to the next, all without adding more work to anyone’s plate (and actually taking a lot of it away), why isn’t every small business using one?

It comes down to this: reputation. A quick search of the Internet will result in some pretty compelling arguments against PEOs. Some of the claims are true, some aren’t. Here are a few examples and whether they’re true, false or something else entirely:

PEO didn’t pay clients’ employment taxes.

TRUE. In 2011, an executive in San Antonio, Texas, was accused of failing to pay more than $66 million in payroll taxes and workers’ compensation insurance collected from his PEOs’ clients between 1999 and 2005. The cash was instead pocketed by the executive and his co-conspirators, who went so far as to create fake insurance certificates and set up fake phone numbers that clients’ could call to speak to their insurance provider. The company operated numerous PEOs in the area all with the same mailing address, each of which participated in the scam. Similar situations are rare, but companies can protect themselves by learning more about the PEO’s history and finding out if they’re in the business long-term or for a short-term win.

PEO workers’ comp fraud.

TRUE. In a $100 million scam, owners of multiple PEOs were selling fake worker’s compensation insurance to clients. The activities, which took place between 2001 and 2004, resulted in charges of conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering for the owners of the PEOs and multiple indictments. You can learn more about the case from the Department of Justice in U.S.A. v Jerry M. Brewer et al., and protect yourself by researching the history and reputation of any PEO you’re considering working with.

The fine print of the PEO agreement was a little sketchy.

Likely TRUE (but maybe only part of the story). A Forbes contributor tells the tale of a small business that handed over its HR to one of the biggest PEOs in the nation, Insperity. A day before the small business’s first payroll was scheduled, says the post, Insperity let them know that they required double funding of the first payroll, which left the small business cash strapped — and incredibly stressed about the PEO relationship it had just entered. The takeaway? PEOs that have this requirement need to clearly communicate it with clients, and client companies need to be fully aware of the implementation process to avoid any stressful surprises.

Paying a PEO to use your own workers.

FALSE. Countless posts warn against employee leasing, with claims ranging from paying a PEO to use your own employees to the need to fire your staff so the PEO can hire them and charge you more to use the same employees. Fortunately, employee leasing (co-employment) doesn’t actually work that way. Employees are paid the wage that you set and negotiate with the employee, while the PEO is compensated for the services it provides (i.e. the HR functions and any benefits that the company negotiates for its employees). Since some PEOs calculate service fees on a per-employee basis and need funding in advance from clients to cover payroll, some people may misconstrue this as “renting back their own employees from the PEO” rather than paying for the HR services the PEO provides.

PEO employee data gets hacked.

TRUE. Another big-name PEO, ADP, was the subject of a serious data breach. Thousands of employees of ADP clients had personal data compromised in 2016, which enabled criminals to set up fraudulent accounts, steal W-2s and file false tax returns. While this security breach was completely preventable, it serves as a reminder to always ask a PEO what security measures they have in place to ensure data breaches won’t happen with your employee data.

Leased employees are re-assigned to a different employer.

FALSE. Plain and simple, this isn’t the way a PEO operates. A full-service PEO is really just like an in-house HR team that splits its time among several companies. For example, at, we ensure our clients’ employee hours are tracked, time off is calculated, employment taxes are paid, and employees receive their paychecks on time. We also negotiate and administer benefits packages at competitive rates, ensure clients are in compliance with all federal employment regulations, onboard new employees, handle new hire orientation, termination and retirement, conduct people-management trainings, administer worker’s compensation claims, provide a portal for employees to log in to access their HR info, pay stubs, benefits enrollments and cards, and act as advisors whenever needed. While we can help clients post job announcements and access an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to make the process easier, we don’t determine who gets hired, promoted, transferred, reassigned or terminated. And we definitely don’t shift employees of one client to another client.

Why a PEO’s reputation matters to your business

Why are we telling you all of the bad? Because there’s a lot of information and misconceptions about PEOs out there — and the list we’ve compiled doesn’t cover the half of it. Overall, PEOs can provide invaluable services to businesses — HR skills and tools, advice and expertise, risk management, access to benefit plans that keep a company competitive in terms of hiring and retention — and a very affordable way to have the equivalent of a fully staffed team of HR experts keeping the people side of your business running smoothly. But, like any business relationship, you have to check each one out carefully.

The lesson is this: do your homework. Research the PEO you’re considering online. Request a face-to-face demo of their tools. Find out what happens when you have a “why” or “how” question — something beyond “what’s my password?” Be nosy. It’s the best way to protect yourself and ensure you’re getting the right solution for the long-haul, too.

At, we work primarily with businesses that want a full-service option; love technology for their employee and manager self-service needs; desire online tools to get HR done quickly, accurately and securely; need benefits to keep them competitive in their industry and market; and are looking for a custom-fit HR plan (our HR-outsourcing approach isn’t cookie-cutter). Our PEO clients also want staff and expertise to answer their questions, who know their employees’ names and how to prevent costly errors, omissions and mistakes — the same service our clients would get from a large, in-house team.

Not every PEO operates the way we do; larger PEOs may focus on tech tools and benefits without providing personal support; others exist mostly as a means of providing lower-cost benefits plans. What’s important is that you find a PEO or other HR-outsourcing solution, such as an ASO, that gives you the services you need — nothing more and nothing less — that will be available to support you both now and in the future.

Reasons to not use a PEO

If you’ve searched online for reasons to not outsource to a PEO, you’ve probably found some fairly compelling stories. Our advice: do your homework on the PEO. Don’t let apprehension keep you from missing out on all the benefits a PEO offers.
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Questions to ask before you work with a PEO

Ask the following questions to any PEO you’re considering before making a final decision:

  • Can I get an in-person demo of your services?
  • When my company has a question, how will I get an answer?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • What’s your company’s employee turnover like?
  • Will I be working with one HR rep or will I be handed off to any available rep when I call?
  • Why did you start a PEO rather than a payroll outsourcing service or other business?
  • Are your original owners still involved with the PEO? If not, why not?
  • What types and sizes of companies do you serve?
  • Are there different benefits and service options for clients, or do you have a one-size-fits-all business model?
  • What’s the ratio of the tech team (developers, project managers, etc.) to HR experts at your company?
  • Will my questions be answered by an HR expert, a phone tree, or a customer service rep?
  • How does implementation work? Will my employees notice a difference?
  • What is a typical pay period process like? What is my role in the process?
  • How can your business support me as my company grows?
  • Why is your PEO [so big/so small]?
  • What other fees will my company pay?
  • What type of data security do you offer? How do I know my employees’ info will be protected?
  • How will your team ensure I’m not fielding employee questions about HR? What do you do beyond provide me with software?
  • Why are you the [lowest price PEO option/highest price PEO option]?
  • Will I need to invest in other HR tools, too? If so, how can I get a big-picture view of how my HR and business come together?
  • Are you a member of NAPEO?

Having been in business since 1999, we can tell you there’s no single PEO that’s right for every business. But there is a PEO that’s right for your business.

Employee leasing vs. co-employment: what’s the difference?

By | Articles, Company Growth, President's Corner | No Comments

When you’re considering outsourcing your HR, you’ll hear plenty of talk — and advice — about “employee leasing” and “co-employment.”

In general, these two terms refer to the same concept. In “employee leasing” or “co-employment,” your company manages the day-to-day work of each of your employees. But to tap into the benefits that HR outsourcing offers, the HR company becomes the “employer of record” for each of your employees, which means your employees are linked to the HR company’s EIN for payroll, benefits and tax purposes, along with all of the responsibilities that accompany those.

This relationship is more commonly referred to as “employee leasing” or “co-employment.”

What is employee leasing?

Employee leasing is sometimes used to describe the arrangement between a company and a type of HR outsourcing organization known as a PEO (professional employer organization). The PEO becomes the employer or record for its clients’ employees and is responsible for paychecks, payroll taxes, benefits administration and related administrative requirements. At the end of the year, each of the client’s employees also receives their W2 from the PEO — and the PEO’s EIN is linked to it.

How is this “leasing?” It’s not — which is why the term has mostly been replaced with something better (see “co-employment” below).

As a client, your company makes all hiring and termination decisions about employees — the PEO has zero management contact with your employees. That means your PEO does not have the ability to “reassign” an employee to a different department or employer. The PEO cannot terminate an employee (unless YOU specifically ask them to). And fees charged by the PEO aren’t “rental fees” for an employee — your business pays for the administrative tasks associated in the same way you’d pay an in-house HR department to perform these tasks, including onboarding, payroll management and reporting requirements, benefits administration, worker’s compensation admin and insurance, and any risk-management services.

Employee leasing isn’t temporary or short-term employment

While the term “employee leasing” is catchy, it has other downsides, too, namely its short-term feel. But your employees aren’t temporary — they’re full-time, maybe even lifers. Which means your company’s employees in the PEO-relationship will (hopefully) have a long-term relationship with your company, too. If you ever leave a PEO, you take your employees with you.

Fees paid to a PEO in employee leasing

While you will pay a PEO for its services, the fees you pay to a PEO are for the services performed by the PEO. You do not pay a PEO for the use of your employees. If your PEO is managing payroll, you provide the funding for the payroll, just like you would do if you were managing payroll yourself (except with most PEOs, you write just one check for payroll and the PEO divvies it up; if you manage payroll yourself, you’re writing a separate check for each employee).

What is co-employment?

Co-employment is an arrangement in which two organizations — namely your company and the PEO — share responsibilities for an employee. The PEO handles the administration responsibilities and any liabilities that go along with those. Your company manages every bit of the day-to-day duties of your employees.

If co-employment sounds identical to employee leasing, that’s because it is; the two terms are oftentimes used interchangeably. There is one exception: co-employment can also be used to refer to short-term or contractor arrangements — but that’s not what PEOs do.

Hiring and Termination with a PEO’s co-employment arrangement

When you have a co-employment arrangement with a PEO, your company continues to make all hiring, promotion and termination decisions about the people who work for you, while the PEO only handles the administrative tasks, such as onboarding, workers’ comp, and payroll and benefits management. A PEO may also offer an applicant tracking system (ATS) to simplify your hiring process or give you access to reports and visualizations that show you how staffing affects your entire organization, among other services.

PEO and liabilities

With co-employment, the PEO will hold all liability for ensuring your employees and benefits are paid (you’ll still need to write a check to the PEO to fund payroll, however), employment taxes are covered, workers’ comp insurance is current, and any other relevant compliance concerns are met. In short, your PEO assumes liability for all of the services it provides to your company.

There are, however, areas in which you’re still be liable — particularly in regard to day-to-day operational and management tasks. But in addition to 24/7 access for consulting and advice, many full-service PEOs will assist you with employee and manager trainings, as well as help you develop employee handbooks and policies to protect your organization from potential risks like these and others.

Are PEOs expensive?

PEOs are service providers, so you’ll pay for their services. They will cost more than you personally sitting down at 2 a.m. with a spreadsheet and an abacus to manually calculate payroll. However, the PEO also provides other services like affordable rates on a variety of health insurance and supplemental plans (including large group health plans, which most small businesses aren’t eligible for any other way), as well as other benefits that most small companies can’t access or afford without the services of a PEO.

How much will a PEO cost? Depending on the PEO you work with and the size of your team, your company could get the equivalent of a full-service HR team and tap into Fortune 500-worthy benefit options at the cost of a part-time employee, or even less if you’re a smaller company.

Get advice about co-employment

This isn’t always part of the deal, but the best full-service PEOs are consultants, too — they offer answers and advice about your HR concerns and will let YOU know when you could be running into potential risks. If you want to see this in action, contact us today. We’ll answer questions, look at your company’s current HR situation, and let you know if it makes sense for you to partner with a PEO or if there’s another arrangement that would fit your company better.

employee leasing

Outsourcing HR, co-employment, employee leasing – they’re actually all synonymous. Would you like a really technical description of co-employment? Read this article from NAPEO.

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Stopping Harassment in the Workplace

By | Articles, Corrective Action, Discrimination, Employee Morale, General HR, Manager Training, Newsletter | No Comments

U.S. businesses and government agencies paid out more than $482 million to resolve work-related discrimination and harassment claims in 2016, a number that the EEOC indicates is on the rise. As an employer, it’s essential to have policies in place to prevent workplace discrimination, but where do you start? Here’s what you need to know…

Steps to prevent discrimination and harassment in your workplace
  1. Set a zero-tolerance policy. Here’s a sample policy:

“It is our company’s policy to maintain a workplace free from harassment and any other form of discrimination based on gender, race, religion, color, national origin, age, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, ethnic background, citizenship, military service, genetic information, or any other class related to discrimination. Accordingly, our company has zero tolerance for harassment in any form or other such unlawful discrimination. Anyone in violation of this policy will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.”

  1. Train managers and staff about the zero-tolerance policy. Although your anti-discrimination policy may be included in the employee handbook, employees most likely skimmed over that section. Become proactive by providing official employee and manager anti-discrimination trainings. Trainings should cover all protected classes (preferably over several different trainings), including gender, race, religion, color, national origin, age (40+), pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, ethnic background, citizenship, military service, and genetic information. Send out follow-up messages via email to help remind employees of the company’s stance on any protected classification.
  2. Create a complaint process. Have an internal system for reporting complaints of discrimination. This could be as simple as reminding employees about which person in the company internally fields complaints and the acceptable form of complaints for your company (text, email, discussed in person but then documented afterwards, etc.). Encourage employees to always report any inappropriate behavior or remarks. Any scoffs or mistreatment towards those who report inappropriate remarks must also be subject to disciplinary action for retaliation. NOTE: Be sure to have a method for complaints to be submitted anonymously, in the event an employee is not comfortable discussing the situation in person. Although follow-up with the complainant will not be possible from anonymous tippers, you’ll at least be making the situation more reportable.
  3. Investigate immediately. The HR manager or person responsible for fielding and responding to inappropriate remarks must be trained to take all complaints seriously and to investigate immediately.
  4. Provide disciplinary action for violators. If this is a first-ever situation for your company, remember that you’re setting a precedence. If you let the violator easily off the hook, you’re setting your company up for a lawsuit.
  5. Document everything. Managers need to document the initial complaint, the process for the investigation, what was discovered during the investigation, and what disciplinary action was implemented. If an issue ever escalates to a lawsuit, this will be critical evidence to counter any “he-said, she-said.”
Costs beyond discrimination lawsuits

While workplace discrimination can quickly add up to large settlements (and more, if legal fees are included), it also has costs that go beyond lawsuits. Workplace Answers indicates that discrimination may impact turnover, employee productivity, and employee dissatisfaction. The effect is felt by more than just the victim and extends to others in the workplace. Recruitment efforts may also be stifled: a study found that 58% of employees who witnessed harassment would “discourage potential employees from joining the company.”

If, as a business owner, you’ve opted to turn a blind eye toward inappropriate remarks and behaviors, you’re placing your business at risk. You may also be harming your most valuable resource: your employees. Workplaces need to ensure complaints are taken seriously and acted upon immediately to remedy the problem, all of which can spare a company from heightened issues that have gone unresolved (just ask Uber). In addition to supervisor-employee relationships, harassment may also come from co-workers and even non-employees. Complying with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 means the workplace must protect workers from all forms of discrimination.

At, our experts provide compliance assistance to clients to help prevent employment-related lawsuits. This includes ongoing regulation review, policy development and guidance, employee handbook updates, manager training, and new-hire onboarding to ensure all regulations and requirements that affect a business are met. We do this in addition to the more traditional HR outsourcing services.

For more information, please contact our HR experts at or request a free demo of our services today.

Prevent harassment lawsuit

Facts and figures about workplace harassment:

  • 75% of U.S. workers have been affected by discrimination or harassment as victim or witness
  • 29.4% of discrimination suits filed in the U.S. in 2016 were sexual in nature
  • 97,000+ charges of discrimination were resolved by the EEOC in 2016
  • $125,000: the average cost for a small business to defend a discrimination suit
  • $160 million: highest settlement paid for a discrimination case in 2013
  • 11.7% chance that a U.S. small/medium businesses will face a discrimination lawsuit