All posts by Reinaldo Lopez

Highly Effective Leadership Qualities

The word “leader” is formally defined on the Business Dictionary website as “A person or thing that holds a dominant or superior position within its field, and is able to exercise a high degree of control or influence over others.” The term is actually quite subjective when you consider all of the varied qualities that constitute great leadership. However, there are some common qualities that effective leaders tend to possess.

 

Self-Confidence

The most important trait of all is arguably confidence. For a leader to thrive, they must first believe in their own abilities and know that they have what it takes to succeed. When they’re secure in themselves, it makes it easier for others to follow and know that their leader will take them in the right direction. However, it’s necessary to note that there’s a definite line between self-confidence and arrogance. A true leader will be able to maintain a sense of humility and keep their ego in check.

 

Effective Communication Skills

Because a leader will give instructions and delegate tasks, it’s crucial that they communicate clearly and succinctly with others. They need to be able to clarify points and be adept at communicating one-on-one as well as in a group setting. At the same time, they should be able to listen and gather feedback to stay on the same page with others.

 

Enthusiasm

If a person lacks passion and shows zero enthusiasm about his job, it’s going to be difficult to motivate other staff members. This often leads to low morale, lackluster performance and decreased productivity. Accordingly, effective leaders tend to have a zest for their jobs and are eager to get to work. This enthusiasm is often contagious, resulting in a more cohesive and productive workforce.

 

Poise Under Pressure

What do most of the greatest football quarterbacks have in common? They’re able to remain calm when a play breaks down and maintain focus in the midst of chaos. Regardless of the business and industry, it’s pretty much guaranteed that adversity will hit at some point and issues will arise. However, a person with leadership qualities will be able to maintain their poise and see it through until calm waters return.

 

An Understanding of Strengths and Weaknesses

Each person within a staff brings their own unique strengths and weaknesses. The mark of a great leader is to assign tasks according to each person’s strengths while minimizing their weaknesses. A good leader coordinates operations so that they get the most out of each person and avoids assigning tasks to someone who is ill-fitted for the job.

 

When your business has individuals that possess these types of leadership qualities, you can rest assured that they’re able to perform their job at a high level. This is incredibly advantageous because you’ll have one or more “linchpins” who will keep your workforce united and maximize productivity.

 

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Identity Theft: Are Your Employees at Risk?

Identity theft is a hot topic these days and something that affects countless individuals. In fact, risk management consultant, Jim Crump reports that “There are over 40,000 new cases being reported every single day. There were 50 million cases in the last five years and 14.4 million in 2014 alone.”

While many businesses go to great lengths to keep customer information secure, what about employee information? Let’s discuss some ways that employee identity theft can adversely affect your business and the steps you can take to prevent it.

 

Laws Regarding Confidential Employee Information

Due to the large volume of cases that are reported each year, there has been a push from congress and many state legislatures to create laws to protect both consumers and employees from becoming victims of identity theft. Two specific laws that deal with identity theft are the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

Both of these laws require employers to properly dispose of information and ensure that no unauthorized parties are able to gain access to it. In addition, there appears to be an overarching pattern of courts holding employers to a higher level of accountability in terms of protecting employee information.

 

What Happens When an Employee is a Victim of Identity Theft?

There are three main issues that typically arise when an employee is a victim of identity theft. First, it can lead to out-of-pocket expenses and hurt individuals financially. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission found that “Half of victims experience out-of-pocket expenses, and 10 percent end up paying $1,500 or more.” Second, sorting everything out is often a time-consuming process with 10 percent of victims spending at least 55 hours to do so. Third, it creates a lot of headaches and stress, which can take a mental and physical toll.

Not only does this negatively impact your employees, but it can hurt your business in the following ways:

  • You can get hit with costly fines of up to $2,500 per infraction if identity theft is due to your negligence.
  • Employees will usually have to take time off to resolve the situation, which translates into lost time and diminished productivity.
  • Because of the added stress, it can hurt your employees’ effectiveness at work.
  • It may create a rift between you and your employees if they know the issue stemmed from your negligence.

 

Ways to Prevent Identity Theft

While there’s no way to completely eliminate employee identity theft from happening, there are several measures you can take to prevent it. For starters, you can perform background checks on any individuals who will be handling sensitive employee data, which can reduce the threat of a situation arising internally. Next, you can create a data removal policy so that information will be properly discarded once it becomes obsolete.

When it comes to managing electronic information, you should use highly secure software that has features like data encryption, user privilege parameters and network intrusion detection. In terms of physical paper containing employee information, you should ensure that it’s kept in a highly secure location and under lock and key at all times.

 

Employee identity theft is no laughing matter and can wreak havoc on your employees’ lives and business operations. That’s why it’s so important to take a proactive approach and implement preventative techniques rather than waiting until disaster strikes to respond. For further information on this topic and links to other helpful resources, check out this guide from the IRS.

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business crisis management

The Importance of an Up-to-Date Business Crisis Management Plan

There are a lot of uncertainties in the world. One minute your business may be running smoothly, and the next minute there can be a major crisis where operations come to a screeching halt. As an employer, it’s crucial that you’re prepared for whatever comes your way and have a plan of action to handle an emergency crisis. Let’s now dive further into this topic and explain some ways to ensure that your business is ready.

 

Examples of a Crisis

The term “crisis” can be used to describe a plethora of situations, but it essentially boils down to an incident that’s negative and/or disruptive to business operations. It can adversely impact your staff, customers, information infrastructure, your reputation and profitability.

Some less serious crises include:

  • Severe weather such as blizzards and lightning storms
  • Power outages
  • Computer networks going down

Some more serious examples include:

  • Natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes
  • Workplace violence such as shootings
  • Acts of terrorism
  • Outbreaks of contagious diseases like Ebola or swine flu

 

What is Crisis Management?

Crisis management is defined as “the application of strategies designed to help an organization deal with a sudden and significant negative event.” Simply put, it’s having an up-to-date plan in place to effectively handle a business crisis regardless of the scale. This might include a list of contact information readily available so you can quickly contact all of the necessary parties, training employees on safety protocol to keep themselves and customers safe and knowing how to address news media when an emergency occurs to keep your company’s reputation intact.

A crisis management plan for your business must also take into account the laws and regulations in place to maximize workplace safety. For example, OSHA requires employers to notify them when an accident results in three or more hospitalizations or if there is a fatality. There’s also the Family and Medical Leave Act, which permits employees to have time off without losing their jobs in certain situations.

 

The Importance of Having a Business Crisis Management Plan

Although there a multitude of reasons that your business should have a crisis management plan, here are some of the biggest:

  • It increases the safety and well-being of employees and the general public
  • It’s good for public relations and can prevent tarnishing your reputation
  • It minimizes downtime and increases productivity
  • It gives you more peace of mind as an employer

 

Potential Resources for Employers

When developing an up-to-date crisis management plan, it’s important to have the right resources to ensure that you understand the details and are compliant with relevant laws and regulations. Here are some extremely helpful resources to get you started:

Because of the often unstable and turbulent world that we live in, it’s an employer’s responsibility to ensure the business is prepared to handle a variety of crises. By establishing a crisis management plan, you can give your company the best odds of making it through unscathed and minimize any damage to your reputation and profitability.

Photo by Krysten_N

 

RMI Partners With MetLife to Offer Identity Theft and Personal Data Protection

Here at RMI, we’ve offered a variety of benefits packages to employers so they could meet the needs of their employees and use it as leverage to attract and retain top talent. Some common types of benefits include healthcare, dental, vision, life and retirement plans. But with technology being increasingly pervasive and touching nearly every corner of life, we’ve decided to add a new benefit — identity theft and personal data protection. Here are the details.

 

The Growing Need to Protect Sensitive Data

As more and more people continue to store highly sensitive data online such as personal, financial and medical information, identity theft has become a growing concern. In fact, Fox Business Reports that “a new identity theft fraud victim was hit every two seconds in America in 2013, and there were 13.1 million total victims during that year.” With data breaches being more and more commonplace, individuals are taking this concern seriously and looking for ways to keep sensitive information safe.

At RMI, we realize that identity theft and personal data information protection is a benefit that many employers are now interested in offering to their employees. That’s why we partnered up with MetLife to offer this as a benefit, which comes with comprehensive coverage.

 

Personal Information That’s Protected

The technology used monitors personal, financial, medical and even social media data to cover the full spectrum. This is much more robust than many other services that only monitor credit and fail to keep tabs on other critical areas. The Internet is continually scanned to monitor things like a person’s Social Security number, bank account and passwords to ensure that everything is secure at all times.

There’s also protection for an employee’s children, which includes warding off online predators and cyberbullies. With these types of issues being a real concern for parents these days, this kind of protection can be extremely valuable. In total, there are more than 25 data points. If a data breach occurs, it will be quickly detected and the information secured to significantly reduce any sensitive data from being leaked. With such an extensive defense system in place, it helps keep would-be cybercriminals at bay and prevent financial loss and a lot of headaches.

 

Dedicated Support

If a data breach has occurred, a person will be notified via a timely alert. They will have access to professional customer service 24/7 for around the clock assistance. There is also a $5 million service guarantee in place. This means that if an employee becomes a victim to identity theft and suffers out-of-pocket losses due to an error on MetLife’s part, they are guaranteed to be paid up to $5 million to cover the losses.

 

Cost of Coverage

Coverage is fairly affordable and can include an employee’s family members. Here’s a breakdown of the rates:

  • $15.00 Employee
  • $20.00 Employee + Child(ren)*
  • $25.00 Employee + Spouse/Domestic Partner
  • $30.00 Employee + Spouse/Domestic Partner + Child(ren)*

*Covers all eligible children. Children’s eligibility is from birth up to age 26.

With technology becoming more and more intertwined with our daily lives, identity theft and personal data protection is a type of coverage that many employees are interested in. Consequently, it’s smart to consider implementing this new benefit being offered by RMI.

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Big Changes for the PEO Industry: Congress Passes the Small Business Efficiency Act

On December 16, 2014, Congress officially passed the Small Business Efficiency Act (SBEA), which will become effective on January 1, 2016. This is big news in the Professional Employer Organization (PEO) world because it’s the culmination of a lot of hard work and perseverance. It should also have some major long-term implications that can streamline the tax paying process for employers. Let’s now discuss the details of the SBEA and what it means for PEOs and business owners.   

Changes to the Internal Revenue Code

The key change that this act will bring about is that the IRS must develop a voluntary certification program for PEOs. At the moment, the program has yet to be created, but is expected to be in place by late June of 2016. After completing the program and becoming certified, a PEO will be a Certified Professional Employer Organization (CPEO). According to the National Association of Professional Employer Organizations (NAPEO), this means the following:

  • CPEOs can collect and remit federal employment taxes, and their customers aren’t liable for those taxes
  • CPEO customers will qualify for specified federal tax credits
  • Whenever a CPEO or their customer makes a contribution to a state employment fund, the CPEO receives the federal tax credit
  • FICA and FUTA wage bases won’t restart when a customer joins or leaves a PEO mid-year

 

The Long-term Impact of the SBEA

The fact that the PEO industry is being acknowledged on this level is tangible proof that it’s growing and shows the progress that’s been made. It also shows that this industry is becoming more legitimate and is a viable solution for businesses across numerous industries. And while as of mid-2013, roughly 250,000 small to mid-sized businesses partnered with PEOs, the SBEA would suggest that this number is likely to keep growing into the future.   

Benefits for Employers

Once the SBEA gets rolling, it should greatly simplify the lives of business owners who outsource to a CPEO. Employers can fulfill their tax obligations without having to worry about the incessant changes made to employment-related laws. Instead, they can leave it in the hands of a CPEO and won’t have the burden of handling employment taxes or incurring penalties from the IRS.

Business owners can also be assured that the third party they choose to outsource to meets fairly extensive qualifications. For example, for a PEO to become certified, they must have certain experience requirements, have a solid background, maintain a minimum of a $50,000 bond, pay an annual fee and assume sole liability when handling federal payroll taxes.

This means that employers can run their businesses without having to babysit a CPEO or deal with any repercussions if mistakes happen to be made on the CPEO’s end. It also simplifies the tax collection process, which should eliminate a lot of headaches for employers. 

The bottom line is that the SBEA is significant breakthrough in the PEO industry. It means that the industry is being taken much more seriously and it should have considerable advantages for both PEOs and business owners.

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Getting an HR Administration Group Can Strengthen Your Corporate Culture

Corporate culture is something that shapes the personality of your business and affects how customers, clients and the public in general perceive it. According to Entrepreneur, corporate culture is defined as “a blend of the values, beliefs, taboos, symbols, rituals and myths all companies develop over time. It describes and governs the ways a company’s owners and employees think, feel and act.”

While a strong corporate culture puts your business on the fast track for success, a weak one can have just the opposite effect. In this day and age, there are a few ways to strengthen your corporate culture and establish a cohesive workforce. One of which is through an HR administration group.

 

Let an HRO Handle Your HR Administration

A human resources outsourcing (HRO) firm is designed to aid in a variety of administrative tasks and simplify your job as a business owner. Whether it’s establishing new hire procedures, creating company policies or performing employee evaluation, an HRO is there to provide a customized solution to HR administration. When you combine all of these functions, it can ultimately improve your company culture in multiple ways. Here are some examples.

 

Recruiting Top Talent

A key element to a strong workforce is talent acquisition and retention. An HRO will help you create or adjust policies for finding and hiring top tier talent in your industry. Experts will assist you through all phases of the process, while simultaneously ensuring that you remain compliant with OSHA and EEOC regulations. A firm will understand what it takes to build a quality team of professionals while taking into account employee chemistry.

By finding the right people who “buy in” to your company, it’s a natural way to create an excellent culture over time. All the while, you still have ultimate control over who you hire and terminate. An HRO just simplifies things and increases your chance of success.

 

Streamline Employee Development

Regardless of how skilled and experienced a new hire is, you want to do everything in your power to hasten their development. Allowing a third party to assist with HR administration is helpful because they can equip employees with everything they need to thrive. This could include preparing instructional materials, on-site training and virtual training.

They may even train managers on topics like regulatory compliance and workplace safety to minimize complications. The personalized service of an HRO creates a framework for your employees to grow and capitalizes on each individual’s specific talents. In turn, you can extract the very most from your workforce and get them to work as a close-knit unit.

 

Team Performance Evaluation

Because even the best employees have some room for improvement, monitoring their performance is a good idea. An HRO helps your business dramatically in this area because they can implement customized performance evaluations. If there is a behavioral issue or a lack of engagement, they can pinpoint a minor problem before it becomes major. They can then provide employees with the necessary feedback to resolve an issue and suggest ways to improve.

At the same time, an HRO can highlight the strengths of your workers so you can get the most from their talents. This way you can assign employees to the jobs they’re best suited for and build a strong foundation.

If you place an emphasis on corporate culture, it would be wise to consider getting an HR administration group. Not only can it make your workforce more efficient, but it also reduces your tasks so you can focus on other areas and expedite the growth of your business.

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summer company outings

3 Benefits of Summer Company Outings

The workplace can be stressful at times, and it’s important for employees to recharge their batteries every once in awhile. With summer being one of the more carefree times of the year where events and festivities often take place, it’s the perfect time to host summer company outings. Besides just having fun, this serves a deeper purpose and can have a positive impact on your workplace. Here are three specific benefits.

 

Build Team Cohesion

When your employees are able to cultivate meaningful relationships and connect with one another on a personal level, it can have a profound affect on your business. While interacting in an everyday work environment allows team members to bond to some extent, having summer company outings is often the catalyst for genuine team chemistry. Because of the casual, laid back atmosphere, people are allowed to truly act like themselves.

An article from Mashable makes an interesting point that hierarchy goes out the window at these types of events. “Sometimes we need to let loose and not feel like we can’t say something to someone because they’re a superior. Outings facilitate conversations between people across various departments and throughout the company hierarchy.” This lets workers get to know each other better as people regardless of company position, which can create a stronger team.

 

Time for a Break

Like the old saying “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” everyone needs some time off to relax. Without some occasional fun and festivities, it’s easy to burn out. Hosting summer company outings is great because it’s a designated time for employees to take their minds off of work and just enjoy themselves. Once it’s time to get back to the grind, they should feel refreshed and renewed. That way they can return to their work with more energy and zest, which ultimately means happier team members.

 

Increased Worker Productivity

This leads us to our final point, which is happy employees are productive employees. In fact, this statement can be backed up by scientific evidence. A study conducted by the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick found that “happiness made people around 12% more productive.” Professor Andrew Oswald who led the interview also stated that “companies like Google have invested more in employee support and employee satisfaction has risen as a result. For Google, it rose by 37%, they know what they are talking about. Under scientifically controlled conditions, making workers happier really pays off.”

Giving employees time to relax and socialize increases productivity for two main reasons. First, the cohesion that’s built lets workers understand each other better so they can work like a well-oiled machine. It’s easier to establish a rhythm throughout the day, so more can be accomplished with less wasted motion. Second, the time away from work gives them an opportunity to focus their attention on other things, which can have a therapeutic effect. This means they will be ready to get back to the job and work with greater intensity than before.

With these benefits, having summer company outings is definitely something worth considering. The best part is that there are no limitations and there is a smorgasbord of possibilities when it comes to activities. Here are 10 ideas to check out.

 

HRO

What is HRO? 4 Things to Look for in a Partner

Human Resources Outsourcing, or HRO, is a phenomenon that’s really caught on, especially with small to mid-sized businesses. This term is defined by Answers.com as “outsourcing the HR function to another company that specializes in HR.” The company that  outsources HR does not have its own internal HR department. Besides saving businesses time, this strategy is popular because of the financial savings, improved compliance with regulations, and access to sophisticated analytics.

Teaming up with a HRO partner allows your business to delegate tasks such as payroll processing, personnel administration, employee training, and benefits management. This gives in-house managers and employees time to focus on the core elements of running your business.

Because there can be a disparity among providers, it’s important to know what to look for. Here are four key things to look for when making your selection.

 

1) A Wide Range of Services

Ideally, a HR company will cover the entire spectrum of services so it’s a one stop shop. Whether it’s handling risk management, 401(k) plan administration, analyzing employee performance or finding temp workers, it’s nice to have a partner that can handle all of your needs. As your business grows, you never know which services you may need in the future, so a provider that covers all of the bases can accommodate that growth.

 

2) Compliance and Certifications

Regardless of your industry, there are often multiple regulations and standards that must be adhered to. Accordingly, a HRO partner should have some strong risk management programs in place to reduce the odds of serious issues arising. They should also make efforts to comply with local, state and federal regulations to avoid any legal backwater. Being certified with an organization like the National Association of Professional Employer Organization (NAPEO) is a good sign.

 

3) Extensive Experience

Although a relatively new provider doesn’t necessarily mean they’re ill-equipped, it’s in the best interest of your business to go with a tried and true HR company. Being in business for at least a decade shows that a provider has a reasonable level of experience and should be capable of handling your needs. It’s also smart to go with someone who has specific knowledge and experience in your industry.

 

4) Cutting Edge Technology

Technology plays a big role in human resources, so you should look for a partner that implements the latest systems. This will streamline communication in a way that you and your employees will benefit. It should also make it easier to transition into the future as technology becomes increasingly complex.

 

Taking advantage of HRO and everything that it brings to the table can yield big rewards for your business. Not only can you simplify operations and save money, but outsourcing should give you the edge over competitors and be a catalyst for growth.

Photo Source: Pixabay

 

 

How PEOs Can Increase Small Business Productivity

Are you overwhelmed by the everyday tasks in your business? Whether you’re a new start up that needs guidance, or have an established business that’s growing – you can get help with the workload by using a Professional Employer Organization (PEO).

They provide an outsourced HR solution and handle tasks like payroll processing, benefits management and personnel administration – everything you need to keep employees happy and your organization compliant. Here are some ways that PEOs can increase small business productivity and promote long-term success.

 

Attracting Top Tier Talent

To truly thrive in any industry, your company needs a team of qualified professionals who are experts at what they do. Your team members must possess the right skills and talent, all while having the dedication to consistently perform their jobs at a high level. One of the best ways to attract top tier talent is for a business to provide benefits like a 401(k) or similar plans, health insurance, life insurance and flexible spending accounts.

Many times, these benefits are an influential factor for professionals when deciding between employers. Because retirement and similar plans are relatively rare for smaller businesses, having some in place can be a great selling point.

According to a 2011 Towers Watson Survey, “47 percent of employers cited retirement benefits as an important reason to stay with their current employer, and 35 percent viewed retirement benefits as an important reason they decided to work with their current employer in the first place.”

When a small to mid-sized business is able to use these benefits as leverage, it can expect to acquire a knowledgeable and capable workforce. Consequently, these employees should have what it takes to streamline daily tasks and it’s realistic to experience expedited growth. There is also a stronger likelihood of a higher retention rate among employees because of deeper job satisfaction. With a lower turnover rate, team chemistry can be developed and overall small business productivity should increase.

 

Gain Freedom to Focus on Other Key Tasks

By allowing HR specialists to handle arduous and sometimes difficult tasks like employee training, safety management and performance evaluation, it can quickly reduce your workload. Rather than spending an exorbitant of time in these areas, you have the freedom to work on other things that grow your company – like improving your marketing and your internal processes.

Whether it’s giving customers or clients more attention or launching a new marketing campaign, you can increase small business productivity. You can rest assured that their human resources tasks are left in the hands of qualified specialists. With an outsourced HR solution offering personalized service, your business can get the specific package needed to maximize efficiency.

Having happy employees and not being bogged down with excessive responsibilities are important for your business to thrive. Fortunately, outsourcing to the right PEO can be a huge help and provide the necessary tools to rise above the competition.

 

Photo Source: Pixabay