Wrapping up the ABC’s of PEOs: H-Z of PEO Terms defined

By: Shraga Jacobowitz

We’re back (did you miss us?) with more PEO terms demystified!  But please take note, when writing up the list of words we wanted included for these two articles, we realized how many industry relevant words their actually are. So don’t see a word that got you stumped here or in our part I of this article (click HERE for a review)? Let us know and we’ll help demystify it for you.

As for now, keep reading for H-Z of the PEO terminology defined. 

  1. HIPAA- You’re probably familiar with HIPAA (could they get anymore letters into this acronym or what?), from the pile of papers you are always made to sign when visiting any doctor. But what you may not have known this multi-letter acronym standing for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act can affect you as a business owner, because besides protecting your privacy at the doctor it also protect personal information and data collected and stored in company medical records. You never want your employees’ medical information being compromised.
  1. HRIS- HR has basically gone high-tech! HRIS is an online solution or software used for data entry, data tracking and the information requirements of a business’s HR management, payroll and bookkeeping operations. A HRIS will help your company process open enrollment, hiring and termination of employees, employment documents, benefit elections, and so much more….It’s basically HR at your fingertips, something any business owner can appreciate.
  1. I-9- The result of a hot button topic, the I-9 is a form required by the Immigration and Naturalization Services to verify your employee’s identity and eligibility to work. Your employees cannot be put on payroll until they’ve submitted this form. In simple English: no paper, no pay.
  1. Independent Contractor (1099 worker) – These workers may do work for you but don’t work FOR you, hence the term independent. They are not your employees and therefore, won’t be on your payroll. Because they are not on payroll, they will not have any income tax withheld from their paychecks, hence them also being known as 1099 workers, referring to the form they receive at the end of the year, instead of the good old W2. 
  1. Job Description – This is exactly what it sounds like – a description of a Seems simple enough, but don’t it let that fool you. You will need to have a clear specification for this term for all kinds of forms and applications. It should include all responsibilities and obligations, as well as the purpose, scope, and working conditions of an employee’s job, along with the job title and the name of the person to whom the employee reports.
  1. Loss Runs- These are reports provided by your insurance company that document the claim activity on each of your policies. Think of it as your scorecard of how much you could be losing if you weren’t insured. 
  1. Medicare Tax – This chunk of tax on every paycheck goes to fund Medicare – the health insurance program designed for people 65 years and older. You may not like it now, but we’re sure you’ll appreciate it at 65! 
  1. Onboarding/Implementation/Enrollment- These terms refer to the act of absorbing a new employee into your company. It includes all training, guidance, orientation, and the entire learning process involved in the employee’s new position.
  1. Open Enrollment- This is the only time of year for individuals to add, reduce or change health insurance coverage without any qualifying events (see the definition of Qualifying Event below).  Insurance rates will also usually change at this point. 
  1. OSHA- You probably think of OSHA as the people who come in to clean up the mess after any disaster, but in reality the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is a division of the DOL and was created to prevent all work-related injuries, illnesses, and death through enforced workplace safety rules. Gotta keep those workers safe at all cost! 
  1. Performance Management- This is the ongoing process of communication between a supervisor and an employee throughout the year. It helps keep employees in line with the company’s goals and vision, and it helps to keep you in touch with your workers. You can benefit greatly in this task by either partnering with a PEO which can provide performance management and crucial review technology. Alternatively, you can invest in a system that can do this for you, but then, you wouldn’t get all the other great advantages of a PEO, of course. 
  1. PTO- Paid Time Off is a policy that combines vacation and sick leave in one option. It basically gives your employees the choice of spending their days off nursing a cold or nursing a fruity umbrella drink while vacationing in Aruba. Again, a PEO’s HR representative can assist you in implementing your PTO and advising you on the best practices. 
  1. Qualifying Event- any change in an employee’s personal life that can impact their eligibility or their dependent’s eligibility for benefits outside of the open enrollment period (see the definition for open enrollment two words up).  This can include loss of health insurance for any reasons BESIDES not paying your premiums or any other voluntarily termination of benefits, change in household size (i.e., marriage, divorce, birth, adoption, of death), moving locations or changing or eligibility status. 
  1. Recruiting- You know what recruiting is – it means looking for the best candidate for a job. It includes analyzing the job requirements, working to attract employees, screening applicants, and then finally hiring new employees and training them in for their new role. What you may not know however, is that your PEO can actually help you with this.
  1. Social Security Tax- This tax funds social security benefits. The social security program is the government’s way of skimming off paychecks during the working years, and then putting that money back in the tax-payer’s pockets when they need it during their golden years. Again you may not like it now….but hopefully if the program is still around, you’ll enjoy it during your golden years.
  1. SUTA- The State Unemployment Tax Authority is a state tax paid by the employer to fund unemployment benefits. Your SUTA rate will be based on your business’ overall claims experience. 
  1. Tax Restart – A tax restart is kind of like setting back the clock. It happens when an employer is required to restart paying taxes mid-tax year, even though they’ve already made contributions for Social Security, Unemployment and more. Government regulations requires this when a new tax ID number is used under which wages and taxes are being filed. It can be a huge headache, but with a PEO handling the logistics, it’s just a mild annoyance. Plus partnering with a CPEO (see our article on that HERE) can actually the headache all together.
  1. Time and Attendance Systems- Also called TNA, time and attendance systems track and monitor the hours an employee begins and stops working. It lets you see who’s always slipping in twenty minutes late and who’s clocking out early every Wednesday. It can even help you cut costs incurred by overpaying employees for hours they don’t work. A TNA can be an old-fashioned timeclock or, any of the numerous apps or software programs designed for just this purpose.
  1. Unemployment Claims Administration – All administrative tasks involved in unemployment claims. A PEO will take care of all that tedious paperwork and will help you protest the claims whenever possible. Because that’s just what they do….make your job easier and save you money.
  1. Voluntary Benefits – Benefits that the employee elects to pay for on their own. Of course, while typically the employee pays for these benefits, the company will still need to full the administrative role which can be a huge HR burden. With a PEO, the PEO administers all the voluntary benefits relieving you from yet another HR burden. Plus, these benefits allow you to offer a more attractive package which in turn allows you to attract and retain top talent for your organization without putting a big dent in your budget.

Some voluntary benefits can include:

  • FSA/ Flexible Spending Account – an untaxed account used to pay for out-of-pocket health care costs.
  • Childcare FSA- This account also lets employees use tax-exempt funds for extra expenses. In this case, the money is used for childcare costs the employee incurs while at work, or for adult daycare expenses for elderly family members who live in their home. 
  • Commuter benefits– Hate your commute? Guess what so do most people but at least commuter benefits, AKA qualified transportation fringes, take off a little of the sting of sitting in traffic or hours on the subway. These benefits are basically a pretax benefit that allows employees to put aside pretax dollars to pay for the cost of commuting to and from work even including parking etc. Although like all good things, the IRS does put a limit on these benefits, so a helicopter commute is probably out of the question.
  • 401k- It’s always good to think about the future. With a 401k, an employee can choose to make contributions from his paycheck to a retirement fund. 
  • EAP/Employee Assistance Program- a work-based intervention program designed to help employees resolve personal issues that may be negatively impacting their performance at work.
  • Added Medical Benefits – while health insurance is great, anyone will tell you that having the extras covered is a huge benefit as well. This can include dental, vision, supplementary health insurance, long (LTD) or short (STD) disability insurance or prescription coverage.
  • Matters of Law – even the average law abiding citizen can need legal help or protection, and these benefits do exactly that. Whether you need protection against law suits (legalshield), identity theft protection or life insurance to protect the next generation, you can be covered by a voluntary benefit to fit your legal needs.
  • Employee Perks Program – any other benefits or perks an employee offers. It can include a flexible schedule, paid sick days, performance bonuses, gym membership and anything else your employees would be thrilled to have. I’m thinking a Froyo bar would be a nice addition, no?
  1. W-2 – The W-2 form is a Wage and Tax Statement used in the US tax system to report on wages paid to your employees and on taxes withheld from them. (See Independent Contractor above)
  1. W-4– We know, the tax forms don’t stop coming. The W-4 form is actually for the employer – it tells you exactly how much tax you should withhold from an employee’s paycheck. It bases this info on said employee’s marital status, the number of exemptions and dependents the employee has, and on several other factors. 
  1. Worksite Employee – Also called a WSE, a worksite employee is simply what a PEO will call your employees. Because the PEO will become the administrative employer for payroll, taxes and HR purposes, you become the worksite employer, as in the actual employer who is onsite making the day-to-day decisions and still maintaining control of your business. By default, your employees and therefore referred to as WSE’s. 

And that’s allllllllllll folks! I guess X,Y and Z are not such popular letters in the PEO world, and we’ve come to the end of our terms with a W. So with that I’ll leave you with one Y word, I’m sure you’ll all understand – YOU!

At the end of the day, you need to do business in a manner that is most effective for you and which makes the most sense to you.  Partnering with a PEO can help you tremendously, but if facing the prospect of wading through the confusion of this industry on your own has you more terrified than relieved, that’s where a PEO consultant or broker comes into play.  So feel free, memorize this list of relevant terms and definitions or contact ARC Consultants today and let them find the best solution for YOU!

Unscrambling the ABC’s of the PEO’s: PART I

By: Shraga Jacobowitz

So you’ve finally decided to partner with a PEO or maybe you’ve been partnered for one for years already. I’m sure you’re excited at the prospect of no longer spending hours of precious company time dealing with issues like payroll and other aspects of HR management, and you’re completely excited about the opportunity to outsource the work to the professionals!! After all, you’ve been told numerous times (in these articles alone) that a partnership with a PEO can save you tons of money and hours of work.

And yet…when researching PEOs or interacting with your current PEO, you’re constantly baffled by the terms the companies are throwing around, and it seems like you are spending almost as much time just trying to navigate and decode the PEO world and terminology.

Like anything else in life, when you partner with a PEO, there is definitely a learning curve, which is of course where a PEO broker and consultant comes in handy — they can literally help you skip to the front of the class and answer all your questions.  But just in case you want to feel like your PEO is speaking English rather than Chinese to you…here is part one of a comprehensive list of PEO terminology and related words broken down into clear, simple English. (Hey, did you really expect us to get all of them into one article?)

Read on for our comprehensive list of PEO terminology and related words broken down into clear, simple English.

  1. ACA – The Affordable Care Act, more famously known as ObamaCare (although we’re not sure what our current president has to say about that) is a federal law that became effective in 2010, requiring all American citizens to be covered by health insurance. While talks of repealing the ACA has been taking place since Trump took office, the ACA is still firmly in place, so whether you’re a fan of the new administration or you’ve terminated your Twitter account in the last year, it doesn’t make a difference, you and your employees must comply with the ACA or risk being fined. 
  1. Admin Fee – An administrative fee or service fee is a monthly fee charged to their clients by the PEO. It can be a fixed dollar amount per employee per month (PEPM) or a percentage of your gross annual payroll. 
  1. Administrative Employer – The Employer of Record in a co-employment relationship, in other words, the PEO. This doesn’t mean the PEO has suddenly become your boss, but instead that they will be responsible for all administrative tasks of HR and compliance, including tax payments, payroll processing and more. And like I’ve said before, no need to feel like you are handing over the keys to the castle. You, the PEO client maintains full direction and control of your company. 
  1. Ancillary Benefits- Sometimes called Voluntary Benefits. This refers to a secondary health insurance that covers miscellaneous medical expenses such as vision, dental, STD, LTD, Life, Group Life, 401k, FSA, HSA, hospital indemnity plan such as AFLAC or other similar programs; to name a few. 
  1. Applicant Tracking System- An applicant tracking system (ATS) is software designed to help an enterprise recruit employees in the most efficient way possible. You can use an ATS to post job openings, screen resumes and schedule interviews with potential employees. 
  1. Carve-Out – While carving out is something you do at Thanksgiving Dinner or wood-working class, this term actually refers to a hybrid PEO arrangement where the client company still maintains their own workers’ comp policy instead of obtaining coverage through the PEO’s master policy. This will occur when you simply already have an attractive policy in place, so why would you mess with a good thing? But no worries, the PEO can still assist you with the administrative side of your own policy. 
  1. Classification Code – Often referred to as workers comp code or class code. This code allows your policy holder to see how the risk exposure your work has (think dangers of real deep sea fishing vs. the relative safety of fishing for sales leads) and classifies the type of work being performed. The classification code provides an associated code so that premium rates can be established in accordance to the work’s level of risk. 
  1. COBRA – No, it’s not about finding a venomous snake in your facilities. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) gives qualifying employees and their families who lose their health benefits the right to choose to continue group health benefits provided by their group health plan for limited periods of time. This way, you won’t be leaving your employees without coverage. 
  1. COI – A Certificate of Insurance is a document issued by an insurance company that certifies that an insurance policy has been purchased by a specific party. You can’t use this as a substitute for the actual policy, but it is proof that you’ve got insurance. (As if your monthly premiums aren’t proof enough.) 
  1. CPEO – If you’ve been reading my newsletters religiously (which of course I’m sure you have been), you should already be familiar with this term from my July newsletter on the topic. But in case you missed that one, here’s a quick rundown. This term is only a few months old. Effective June 1st, 2017, a Certified Professional Employer Organization is one who’s been certified by the IRS. Like everything else the IRS oversees, becoming qualified as a CPEO involves lots of paperwork, applications and a strict background check. And just in case you want to read that original article (for review purposes only of course) you can check it out here. 
  1. Dividend – A refund of premiums for workers’ comp policies. How cool is that? It’s almost like getting free money! The refund is paid when the claims of the members on the plan did not exceed the premium payments. Dividends are offered, but not guaranteed, by some PEOs. 
  1. DOL– The U.S. Department of Labor; (some of you may know them as Big Brother, because the DOL is always watching). In reality, the DOL is there to promote the welfare of job seekers, wage earners, and retirees by improving their working conditions, advancing their opportunities for profitable employment, protecting their benefits, and helping employers find workers. The DOL also protects workers’ rights to safe working conditions; a minimum hourly wage and overtime pay; freedom from employment discrimination; unemployment insurance; and other income support. What you have to know: treat your workers well and the DOL won’t be a problem for you. 
  1. EEOC – The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is a federal agency charged with ending employment discrimination in the United States. The EEOC can bring lawsuits against private employers on behalf of alleged discrimination victims. So make sure you always hire fairly! 
  1. Emod –“Experience modifier” is a rate modifier used by the NCCI (National Council for Compensation Insurance) to define the risk of a particular employer. Obviously, the guy who cleans skyscraper windows will have a higher risk than the one who changes the paper in your copy machine. 
  1. Employee Census – Don’t worry; this isn’t a bunch of CEOs knocking on random doors and asking intrusive questions. Rather, it’s a report prepared by an employer that provides the insurance companies the necessary data for the underwriters to determine insurance and benefit rates. In addition an Employee Census may also help ensure that a company’s retirement plan is in compliance with Department of Labor laws and Internal Revenue Codes. 
  1. Employee Handbook – Remember that thick student handbook they gave out in high school? This is kind of the same thing. Sometimes known as an employee manual, staff handbook, or company policy manual, this handbook is distributed to employees and details the company culture, policies, and procedures. 
  1. EPLI– Employers Practices Liability Insurance is insurance purchased by an employer to protect himself/herself against errors in willful and accidental employer practices,  such as wrongful termination, harassment or other ugly situations that can come back to bite you. This way you’re never at risk of losing a year’s profit on one lawsuit! Thankfully, this is something that is usually included and provided to you as part of the services you get when you sign up to partner with a PEO. 
  1. ERISA– The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) is a federal law that sets minimum standards for most voluntarily established pension and health plans in private industries. You don’t need to fund their retirement cruises, but you do have to give your employees enough to live on in their golden years. 
  1. FICA– The Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax is a United States payroll tax imposed on both employees and employers to fund Social Security and Medicare. You have to know that money for these programs is coming out of someone’s pockets, and in this case, it’s yours. 
  1. FLSA – The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor standards for full-time and part-time workers in the private sector and in all levels of government. And while child labor is a thing of the past in the US, many of these other things can be a real problem for a business owner who doesn’t comply. 
  1. FMLA – We all think family is important, and thankfully for your employee, the government thinks so too. Covered employers must grant employees up to a total of 12 work weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for one or more of the following reasons: the birth and care of a newborn child; placement with the employee of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care; caring for an immediate family member with a serious health condition; medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition. 
  1. FUTA – This one sounds waaaaay cooler as an acronym. The Federal Unemployment Tax Act authorizes the IRS to collect a federal employer tax to fund state workforce agencies as well as half of the cost of extended unemployment benefits.

As the title indicated, this is only Part I of this series…Who knew there were so many relevant terms to the PEO industry?  Stay tuned for the continuation of these terms in our next newsletter.

Or can’t wait for the next newsletter and you rather not wade through the confusion alone? Call ARC Consultants and see how we can help clarify the process and navigate PEO partnership for you.

70% of American Companies Have Got this Wrong! Is your company one of them? And can a PEO help you get it right?

By: Shraga Jacobowitz

With Labor Day firmly behind us and the end of summer officially marked, employees around the nation have begun yet another year of work. And while some may have anticipated this return to regular schedule with excitement, (including many Moms & Dads), most employees wake up each morning with a sense of dread at the prospect of facing yet another work day. In fact, according to a recent Gallup survey, shockingly, 70% of the US workforce are not happy with their jobs.   And this, my friends, is simply too many people who are not productively contributing to their companies to facilitate economic growth.  As any good manager or boss will tell you, unhappy employees always equal unproductive employees.

It is clear that being a task master and snapping the whip (figuratively, of course…or at least I hope so), is not the way to get more productive workers.  Employee job satisfaction and work happiness rank highest in creating a productive environment and getting the most out of your employees.  It is for that reason that EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT has become the new buzz word among some of the biggest corporations. In fact, like the apple, check mark and coffee of our last article (click here for a quick review if you missed it), it is some of the biggest firms that rank highest in employee engagement and satisfaction.  We’re not going to drop names here (who are we kidding, of course, we’re going to name drop), but you may of heard of some of these companies, i.e., a little website called Facebook and small search engine called Google rank in the top 5 for Employee Engagement.

Surprising?  Perhaps not. These are known as some of the coolest places to work at. I mean, just check out their cool office spaces here and here. But what you may find surprising is that these same firms also rank high in the amount of work they demand from their employees and the stress that the work entails.  In fact one Google employee’s review of the company was that it is both “the best place [to work] and most demanding.” Similarly many of the Facebook employees in their company review stated both their love for the company and how busy they are at work almost simultaneously.  I know it seems contradictory–to love work when having a heavy workload– but guess what, it’s not!

That’s right, the amount of work and stress these employees have does not detract from their job satisfaction and overall happiness at working for these companies. So hard work and high stress can still equal happy employees? Definitely worth exploring, no?

So what are these three companies doing right that you (and apparently 70% of businesses) may not be doing?

According to a poll of their employees, nothing major. However, small changes in how you treat your employees can change the entire atmosphere of your company and create a place where people are happy to return to work.

One Facebook employee summed up Facebook’s attitude towards their employees, simply stating, “You won’t find a place that cares more [than Facebook] about its people.” Now close your eyes and imagine your employees talking about your company like that. If you can’t imagine it, it may be time to make some changes.

You can always take a cue from Facebook and Google whose employee engagement policy includes small perks, such as free lunch and snack to large ones, such as on campus health and dental centers.  Some of the benefits listed by employees as reasons they loved working at these companies include:

  • Incredible benefits including stellar health insurance (even offered to part-time employees), gym/wellness reimbursement, daycare reimbursement (up to $3k a year), donation matching and 401k matching.
  • Amazing maternity and paternity leave. Facebook actually pays out “baby cash” to employees for new births and adoptions.
  • Excellent compensation that rewards strong performance and fair, well thought out review processes.
  • Lots of vacation days and paid time off.

Okay, I know exactly what you are all thinking at this point…thanks a lot. Obviously, these companies have the money to allow them to offer such great perks and benefits to their employees, but how am I supposed to be able to do the same for my employees?

I shall insert a shameless plug here. But it simply is true that this is exactly where a PEO can help…and we mean really help!  A PEO gives you the resources of a bigger company, so yeah, you can compete with a Facebook or Google….at least in the benefits you can offer. In addition, with HR professionals on staff, your PEO partner can help you work out programs that reward strong employee performance and/or think of extra perks that your specific employees would appreciate. Your PEO’s HR specialist can even help create those fair and well thought out employee reviews that Facebook and Google are so famous for, so that your employees feel appreciated, but better yet, you have a clear picture of how happy, satisfied and productive they are being. Now what’s better than that?

So stop being part of the majority, especially, when in this case, they’ve gotten it, oh, so wrong.  Instead, let a PEO help you create an environment that your employees will look forward to coming to work each day.

Want to find out more about how a PEO can help you with your Employee Engagement, contact ARC Consultants for more information.

The Apple, the Check Mark & Coffee: What they have to do with your business & why a PEO can actually help improve it

By: Shraga Jacobowitz

Okay, if I did my job correctly, you are right now scratching your head and are intrigued by the title of my article.  Because what do apples, check-marks and coffee have in common? And further, what in the world can these three things have to do with the business world, my business specifically and even more confounding, PEOs?

However, it’s really quite simple. These three seemingly unrelated items each represent three mega-corporations: Apple, Nike and Starbucks. One of the core things these three corporation hold in common is that these three companies distinguished themselves from the thousands of companies across the country by clearly establishing their company culture.

Think Apple, and you think simplicity, serviceability and quality. The Nike swoosh brings to mind athletic prowess and reaching for impossible goals. Similarly, Starbucks is synonymous with fantastic customer service and even better lattes.

Okay, you’re thinking, you’ve piqued our interest, but you still haven’t answered our more important question, “What do these companies have to do with my company and a partnership with a PEO?”

Again, the answer is simple. Creating your company culture is one of the key components of attracting faithful customers, (ask an Apple user to use an Android, a Nike enthusiast to wear any old sneaker or a Starbucks connoisseur to G-d forbid drink home brewed coffee and you’ll see what I’m talking about). But this culture is not just about retaining your customers. Having a strong company culture is almost as important to retaining your employees as it is to retaining your customers.

Back to our apple, check mark and coffee, all three of these corporations have excelled in retaining their employees, with Apple retaining about 81% of its worldwide employees. Nike was listed as one of the top 100 companies to work for with a mere 9% voluntary turnover rate.  Meanwhile, Starbucks has bucked the trend for quick serve restaurants, which usually has a 150-400% turnover rate, with an astounding 65% turnover rate, beating the industry average by 140%.

So, we know now that creating and maintaining a strong company culture can be the key to increased employee productivity across the board. This is because when there is a strong culture attached to your company, employees feel like they belong to something important, and they want to be part of making it better. In turn, your employees will love coming to work when they are part of something bigger than themselves. When employees feel like they fit into a company’s culture, they will develop deeper relationships with their colleagues, be more loyal to the company, and be more productive than ever.

Of course, employers benefit from a strong company culture, too. Having happy, productive employees who are giving their job their all, is one of the best things you can do for your company.  In fact, having a winning company culture cannot be overstated. According to a Bain & Company Survey America, 81% of 365 companies throughout Europe, Asia, and North America believe that a company lacking a high-performance culture is doomed to mediocrity.

But again, you’re probably asking yourself, “What in the world does all this have to do with PEOs?”

Elementary, my dear Watson (a change from my normal answer of “It’s simple”). Your company’s culture is the personality you infuse in your company. It defines your office environment, the way your employees feel about their work, and creates your company’s goals. It includes a range of elements, including company mission, values, ethics code, and expectations.  And because it fosters a great work environment it increases productivity across the board.

The importance of establishing and maintaining a strong company culture leads many business owners to question if partnering with a PEO or a current PEO partnership will affect their well-established company culture. It is normal to wonder if it’s possible to still maintain the mission, goals, attitude of their company, when their employees are now being dealt with by an outside party.

Worry not, business owners. As I stated in the title, partnering with the right PEO shouldn’t change anything about your company culture. Seems a little too good to be true? Are you having flashbacks to your last co-living arrangement that went south really quickly or your elementary school science project that you “co-worked” on, and thinking co-anything (whether co-living, co-working or co-employment) has to change everything?

Many business owners worry that partnering with a PEO or their existing PEO partnership will make employees feel disenfranchised or set aside or that they will not know who they are working for or what company goals they are working towards.

I repeat, if implemented correctly, joining a PEO or being part of a PEO should change NOTHING about your company’s culture. In fact, handing over all your HR duties to a PEO, allows you to focus more fully on developing and maintaining your company culture. In addition, by utilizing the services of a PEO, you’ll be better equipped at finding the right employees for your business that fit your company’s culture. A PEO can assist you with the tedious recruiting process, including interviewing candidates, resume-screening and performing background checks on prospective employees. A PEO can also help you create, implement and change company policy. And in doing so, PEOs enable you to create a team that personifies your company’s culture.

So what is the SECRET to joining or being part of a PEO, without upsetting your current company culture?

It really is simple this time: KEEP THE LINES OF COMMUNICATION OPEN!

Honesty and transparency are crucial to good company culture, so if you’re considering partnering with a PEO, simply TALK to your employees about this decision. Simple, right?

This lesson can be learned from Zappos, another leader in maintaining a thriving company culture. One of Zappos’s ten core values is “Build open and honest relationships with communication.” Zappo’s founder, Tony Hsieh embodied this value when he announced Amazon’s $850 million acquisition of Zappos in an open letter to all Zappo’s employees in 2009, eliminating the normal panic that ensues when rumors of a corporate takeover begin to circulate.

Let your employees know of your decision to partner with a PEO and why you’ve made this decision. Explain to them the benefits to THEM in bringing the PEO on board, including better benefit packages, access to better health, dental and vision insurance plans, and a safer work environment. In addition, because PEO has access to technology that an average company cannot afford, your work process is made that much easier.

Be upfront about what the PEO will handle and what your company will handle. Most importantly, explain that while you and the PEO are now co-employers, your company is still the one leading your employees and therefore your company still holds the same values as before.  A PEO should align with your company’s existing infrastructure to provide complementary expertise– they should not be taking it over.

In fact, if the transition to joining a PEO is handled correctly, working with a PEO can actually improve your company’s culture. After all, happy employees is one of the key elements of having a strong company culture. With the new benefits and the streamlined responsibilities, employees will be glad to know that your company is still looking out for what’s best for them and the company. A PEO consultant/broker and the PEO you choose to partner with should be able to help you complete this transition seamlessly. Communication between your company and the PEO throughout the transition period and the partnership is essential to maintaining your company’s culture in this arrangement. In addition, because PEOs employ seasoned, certified HR professionals who have experience with various industries, these experts can also help in making shifts in company culture, when necessary. This expertise can prove invaluable when structuring, maintaining or changing your company’s culture, and as a partner of the PEO, it’s at your disposal.

So, take the advice of the apple, the check mark and the coffee, and build up your company culture for optimal customer and employee retention, but don’t let this goal stop you from taking advantage of all the benefits a PEO can offer your business. Now, all of a sudden, I’m in the mood of wasting endless hours on my iPhone, running a mile and getting a coffee simultaneously…. I can’t begin to imagine why.

Still not convinced bringing a PEO will not adversely affect your company’s culture?  Call ARC Consultants and let them help you partner with a PEO that aligns best with your company’s culture.

The IRS has given their stamp of approval to PEOs; What does that mean for your business?

By Shraga Jacobowitz

Earlier this month, the IRS released a new standard for PEOs — the ability to become a CPEO, or a Certified PEO. With the conferring of this new, coveted title on a handful of existing PEOs, the IRS has given their stamp of approval, acknowledging that these PEOs have met specific standards set forth by the US government. Ok, this is so HUGE, it’s worthy of being repeated – the IRS is giving their STAMP OF APPROVAL to PEOs!

Why am I so excited about this news? Well for one, having the IRS certify select PEOs lends the entire PEO industry credibility. By certifying PEOs the IRS is acknowledging that there is legitimacy to the PEO business model, and that this not some “back alley” concept that is skirting around the law to manage your business’ employee related tasks, obtaining competitive employee benefits, WC insurance and administer payroll taxes and compliance.  Instead, the IRS is essentially saying PEOs are a valid and reasonable method to obtain these items and services for your business. Something I’ve been saying all along, but it’s always nice to be backed up by one of the biggest government agencies in the USA.

In addition, having the IRS’s stamp of approval also ensures that these CPEO’s are secure and trustworthy. In fact, to ensure this security for PEO clients, PEOs that wish to become certified, must go through the following processes:

  • Annual Financial Audits
  • Quarterly assertions and CPA confirmation regarding payment of all employment taxes.
  • A third party surety bond of a minimum $50,000 or for an amount equal to 5% of the federal employment tax liabilities for the prior year.
  • Background checks of PEO and controlling persons at the PEO
  • Present a client service agreement that meets certain IRS standards.

But that’s not all! Besides the newfound security CPEOs will bring to this industry, this news carries with it tax implications for those looking to join or switch PEOs midyear. In the past, a midyear transition often resulted in a restart on your payroll tax calculation. That’s because in the past the IRS didn’t recognize the PEO as a continuation of your current employment status, but rather that all your employees were now employed by another entity; the PEO.

CPEOs now have clear authority to collect and remit federal employment taxes (Social Security, Medicare, Federal Unemployment Taxes, etc.) for the worksite employees and to do so under the EIN of the CPEO. In addition, because the IRS now recognizes the CPEO as a successor employer, a business joining or switching to a PEO midyear will not have their FICA and FUTA wage bases reset. But before you run out to switch midyear, be aware that while this will affect your Federal taxes positively, it will have zero impact on how your state taxes are calculated, and therefore, the state tax implications of signing up for or switching your PEO must still be taken into account.

In added good news, being part of CPEO ensures that special tax credit programs designed for small business clients will still be awarded to clients of the CPEO.  This means that your small business will still be viewed as a small business, and will not be denied these tax credits just because you are part of a larger PEO organization.

However, the final cherry on this CPEO cake is that having PEOs certified by the IRS, can help to take some of the guesswork out of choosing a qualified PEO. I repeat can, not will, because while having certified PEOs may be helpful, it is important to realize that not necessarily  are they the end all in determining what is the best PEO for you.

Firstly, there are many factors in determining the best PEO, and not necessarily will a CPEO meet your specific business’ needs. Secondly, the PEO industry has had in place already for many years means of keeping tabs on PEOs, ensuring that PEO customers are completely protected and that PEOs are meeting the needs of clients. So even before this news was announced, businesses joining a PEO had other assurances that they were working with either an accredited or at least privately audited PEO.

In fact, the Employer Services Assurance Corporation (ESAC) has been doing exactly that since 1995! ESAC provides accreditation and financial assurance programs for the PEO industry. Their process verifies the PEOs’ ongoing financial solvency and compliance with government regulations and important industry standards. Even more so, ESAC gives more security through underlying surety bonds held on behalf of each ESAC accredited PEO, plus a $15 million excess bond covering all program participants.

But even those PEOs that are neither certified by the IRS nor accredited by ESAC, are often vetted or audited by third parties or privately owned by investment firms, and therefore can be just as reliable, if not more so than a CPEO or ESAC.

After all, becoming a CPEO is a voluntary choice made by the individual PEOs, not a mandatory obligation. Which means while being a CPEO says a lot about that PEO, i.e., there is a standard you must uphold to be certified, (according to the IRS website, “To become and remain certified under the CPEO program, CPEOs must meet tax status, background, experience, business location, financial reporting, bonding and other requirements described in the statute and regulations”), it does not say anything about those organizations that are “just plain old simple” PEOs.

Which begs the question…

What really is the most important letter in this industry? The “C” or the “P”?  What is really more important to your business, the certification, i.e., the “C” or the professionalism, i.e., the “P”?

And even more so, what does the presence of CPEOs on the market mean to you? To your business? To the industry? To us as a PEO consulting firm?

But finally and most importantly, which option is really the best choice for you? A CPEO, PEO, ESAC, or some other combination of letters that we haven’t even heard of yet?

Well, I can’t give away all my secrets in one breath. Sorry, but for that answer you’ll just have to give us a call….after all having someone to help you navigate through the alphabet sea of PEOs, CPEOs, ESACs is exactly why using a PEO consultant is so important.

To find out if your PEO is the right fit for your business, or if you should sign up for a PEO, click here or contact one of the ARC Consultants today.

Is Your Workspace Really SAFE? The experts weigh in on what safety truly means.

As Memorial Day approaches, we thank those who have lost their lives in service so that we can live and work with freedom and in safety. It is in remembrance of these great men and women that we recognize that these privileges afforded to us by their sacrifice should not be taken for granted.  And as employers, we have a duty to ensure that this freedom and safety is being provided to our employees.

Any CEO will attest to the fact that a business’ employees are its biggest asset.  Innovative vision and/or superior products or service means nothing if you don’t have the workforce to implement that vision and produce, market and sell that product or service.  It’s no wonder then that providing this invaluable asset safe working environments should be our number one priority.

But besides the right of employees to work in a safe environment, providing such an environment just makes business sense. One single work accident can cause a company through both direct and indirect cost upwards of $200,000. And with an average of 3 million workplace injuries reported a year (as per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics), that is a lot of money bleeding from American companies due to unsafe conditions.  In the face of those numbers, it is understandable why so many companies are adopting the attitude of “prepare and prevent, rather than repair and repent.”

So how does a company go about preparing and preventing? Some of the safety industry’s top experts weigh in and you won’t be surprised that they all have the same things to say – in order to have a safe work environment you must create a Safety Culture.

What is a Safety Culture, you ask? Judy Agnew, Senior Vice President of Safety Solutions, explains that to truly provide a safe environment, the key rules of safety must be ingrained in the very fabric of the organization.  It is created through positive reinforcement of safe behavior, rather than discipline of unsafe behavior, and incorporating safety into every daily decisions, rather than once a year workshops. OSHA VPP, has stated that “strong safety cultures have had the greatest impact on accident reductions of any process.”

Tom Krause, CEO of Behavioral Science Technology, furthers this idea and differentiates between safety leadership vs. safety management. Safety leadership is showing employees why a safety culture is important rather than dictating the safety protocol employees should follow.  With safety leadership, employees are much more willing to get behind safety initiatives and protocols. As Krause explains, “If senior leadership gets it right, then the culture will change. If senior management doesn’t get it right, then everything else is like swimming upstream. It’s a struggle.”

Neal M. Leonhard, a manager at Safety Systems, adds to this point and stresses that a management that is committed to safety and encourages employee participation will create a stronger safety culture.  Management should provide for and encourage “meaningful employee involvement in the accident prevention system,” he notes. “Employees should be given the opportunity and should be encouraged to provide input into the design and operation of safety processes/programs and the decisions that affect their safety and health.”

Michael S. Deak, corporate director, Safety and Health, Compliance Process Safety and Fire Prevention at DuPont, takes this one step further and states that all companies should make EVERYONE accountable for safety, and he means everyone…from CEO to janitor assistant, all rules should apply equally. Higher management “walking the talk” as he says, is the number one way to get employees to walk the walk.

Donald J. Eckenfelder, a consultant for Profit Protection Consultants, has another take on safety culture. His advice, avoid SAFETY…that is, the word “safety”, at least.   He advises companies to not have anything with the word “safety” in it, i.e., safety meetings, safety committees, etc.  Instead, integrate safety into your normal business processes. This means there is an overall culture of safety and the responsibility to have a safe environment is shared by everyone rather than a select few.

Deak also feels Safety should not be a priority. He theorizes that as companies’ priorities tend to shift and change as the company grows or due to outside influences, many employees actually do not take these priorities seriously. They adopt the attitude, this too shall pass….Therefore, Deak recommends not making safety a priority, but instead just making it part of the everyday company culture.

A final way to improve your safety culture is to POLICE your safety program. And while obviously, all programs should have some form of oversight, James Kendrick, president of the American Society of Safety Engineers, uses this acronym to indicate the steps every company should take to maintain their safety culture. 

Plan

Organize

Lead

Inspect/investigate

Correct

Evaluate

Creating your safety culture is never finished; it is a constant process that involves inspecting and re-inspecting, correcting and re-correcting, evaluating and reevaluating, and is consistently changing based on these steps.

Many of the changes to a company’s safety culture will be based on trial and error within your own organization, while others will be necessitated by the ever-changing government regulations and policies. In fact, Employee Safety and Health Compliance (ESH) has evolved into one of the most complex compliance issues for businesses, meaning many HR departments are unable to keep up with the new regulations, causing many companies to be fined and penalized for policies they aren’t even aware of.

Due to this need for constant evaluation and the complexity of government regulations, many companies are now turning to PEOs for help maintaining their safety culture. PEOs are staffed with certified risk management specialists who can help oversee and ensure that you are compliant with safety and health regulations. These experts will even come on-site to see where safety measures can be implemented and what is lacking in your current safety culture.  As an added benefit, many PEO clients receive decreases in their workers compensation insurance modifiers as a result of these services being provided by their PEO.

To find out more about how a PEO can help you with your safety culture and compliance, contact ARC Consultants today.

The Popularity of PEO’s: It’s history, growth and effect on your business.

 

A recent survey conducted by the National Association of Professional Employer Organizations (NAPEO) this past February has some not so surprising results.  Well, not surprising to anyone who is currently working for, with, or partnered with a PEO.  The survey revealed that the PEO industry is experiencing continued growth across all areas including: revenue, gross profits, operating income, average number of worksite employees, and average number of clients.  What these survey results all boil down to is one simple fact: PEOs are becoming increasingly more popular and an increasingly more common way for businesses to provide their employees with the best HR, benefit, and insurance packages.

Of the 71 PEO executives who took part in the survey, a whopping 99% are optimistic about the prospects for strong industry growth in 2017.  We assume that the remaining 1% were just having a bad day the day of the survey.  The remaining executives all agree that more and more businesses are recognizing the value of a PEO, creating a bright future for the PEO industry.

So why are PEOs becoming so popular? And more importantly, what does all this mean for your business?

Unbelievably enough, the concept of PEOs has been around since the 1960’s, then known as Employee Leasing Firms. The industry was established as a way to help companies cope with the rising costs of workers’ compensation coverage.  However, it was not until the 1980’s when regulatory laws were increased and businesses were forced to deal with even more complex legal red tape than ever, that PEOs really began to gain popularity.

A PEO firm can handle payroll, and even assist with the hiring, training, and firing of employees. With a PEO, the employer is no longer left to deal with such tedious tasks as onboarding new hires, handling all the necessary paperwork, providing employment information, conducting performance reviews, managing expenses, recruiting, conflict resolution, providing substance abuse services, conducting company policy review, dealing with OSHA and EEOC and I-9 requirements…and the list goes on and on.  Plus, a PEO allows companies to offer insurance and benefit packages that rival those of bigger companies. With a PEO, it’s no longer only the bigger fish that get the bigger benefit package.

PEOs basically take on the tasks that are too time consuming, expensive, and complicated to handle in-house, so that your time is freed up to grow your business, allowing you to save money. But even better, with a PEO, less mistakes occur, allowing you to build a better company with better employees and better incentive packages to retain employees.

But PEOs do a lot more for business owners than rescue them from HR and red tape purgatory. Since the PEO’s job is to stay on top of business regulatory laws, including all those new ones that seem to endlessly pop up, a business that partners with a PEO is more likely to always be compliant. A PEO also helps their clients navigate the hundreds of regulations and labor laws that are applicable to their specific industry, undertakes audits to determine if the company is in violation of any laws, and then helps their client address any issues they may have.

And as any business owner understands, better compliance means fewer penalties and fines, saving businesses time, money, and frustration, while increasing employee contentment, productivity, and as a result, the company’s bottom-line.

In recent years, PEOs have begun including even more sophisticated services, such as employee screening and training, safety training and audits, lawsuit protection, processing payment of premiums, certificates of insurance and injury claims, giving businesses further reason to partner with a PEO. With workplace lawsuits and increasingly complicated government regulations becoming more and more common, it’s no wonder that the idea of using a PEO to handle these tasks have also becoming more and more common.

So as I stated at the start of this article, the results of the recent NAPEO survey are not very shocking.  PEOs are definitely becoming the standard way of business for many smart businesses. The only question remains is: Is your business one of them?

To find out more about how a PEO can help your business or if you are getting the most out of your PEO partnership, click here or contact one of our PEO consultants today.

Unleashing the Power of Your PEO

ARC PEO Newsletter 1

 

So, you’ve just joined a PEO or perhaps you’ve been part of a PEO for a while already. We’re sure you’re happy to have all the nitty gritty of your Human Resources department off your plate, (after all you didn’t start your business to become a Human Resource manager).

But, are you sure you’re really taking full advantage of your PEO partnership?

If you’re simply using a PEO to handle your human resources needs such as benefit packages, insurance, liability and risk management, to name a few, the answer to that questions is a resounding NO!

When partnered with the correct PEO, your company should not only be benefiting from the ability to handle your current needs, but should be able to leverage this partnership to gain top talent, maximize the potential of your current workforce and prevent employee turnover.

The primary reason a company chooses a PEO, over, for example, outsourcing their HR management jobs is because PEOs are a co-employment arrangement allowing companies to maximize their benefits without losing control of their employees. Thus, the partnership should be geared to helping your company, not only maintain control of, but getting the most out of your workforce.

So, how does a company leverage their PEO to maximize their workforce potential?  Here’s three ways your company can use your PEO partnership to do exactly that.

  1. Offer attractive benefit packages. In the changing market of millennial hires, attracting top talent is about more than just the paycheck. Potential employees are looking for great employee benefit packages as well.  And these new hires want it all….the best health insurance plans, a retirement plan that makes sense, life insurance, etc.  Because PEOs aggregate employees from multiple companies, partnering with the right PEO allows you to offer the benefit package of larger corporations at competitive prices.  The PEO’s ability to leverage the combined amount of employees also allows you to offer flexible benefit packages, so you can create the perfect match for your employees’ needs and lifestyle.

So how do you ensure you’re offering your current and potential employees the best packages? When discussing benefit packages, make sure your PEO is offering you and your employees the following:

  • A wide range of options for each employee to choose from.
  • Coverage for new hires with little or no waiting period.
  • A stable health care provider network with an updated administration system.
  • Familiarity with your needs, including a mastery of the complex issues associated with a dispersed workforce, if you are looking to expand out of state or overseas.
  • And finally, make sure that your PEO partners only with companies that resemble your own industry and workforce profile. In this way, your low risk business isn’t being lumped together with high risk companies, or high wage employees with blue collar employees, which can cause your insurance rates to rise and benefit packages to be limited.
  1. Take advantage of professional development and employee training opportunities. Many PEOs offer live/on-site, virtual/video or other learning opportunities for your employees so that they can develop their skills and expand their knowledge and expertise. The ability to offer such development and training is a great way to attract potential employees as well as utilize the full potential of your current ones. Make sure to ask your PEO about such opportunities so that you can take full advantage of what they have to offer.
  1. Utilize their HR professionals. While all PEOs have HR professionals on staff, when you choose a PEO to partner with, make sure that their pros understand YOUR business.  With the right HR professional in your corner, they can help you anticipate and resolve problems before they even develop. These pros can also help you with the interview, training, performance management processes so that you’re assured that you’re hiring the best employee for your business and its potential growth.

An added benefit to having HR pros on your side….it’s their job to stay on top of new regulations and compliance issues, so you don’t have to.  Keeping you up to date, notifying you of and dealing with any regulation and/or compliance changes should be part of your PEO package. Again having pros who understand YOUR business, ensures that they’re aware of any and all regulations or compliance laws that affect YOU specifically allowing you to always be on top of your game.

Taking advantage of these three points are just some ways to maximize your benefits from your PEO partnership.  Knowing all the benefits that can be gained from the PEO partnership is an important component of maintaining your PEO partnership.  Whether you’ve been partnered with a PEO for one day or for several years, reviewing the benefits you’re currently receiving and exploring others that you’re not, can definitely maximize what you are getting out of your PEO partnership.

That way, when you’re asked next whether you know if you’re taking full advantage of your PEO partnership or not, you can answer a resounding YES with absolute certainty.

Not sure how to take the next step in taking full advantage, ARC Consultants can help you review your current PEO and ensure that you are.  Give us a call or email to see how we can assist you in maximizing your benefits.

Will TrumpCare trump the need for PEO’s?

Donal Trump

Donald Trump has been saying from Day One of his campaign that if he is elected President, one of his first acts will be to repeal ObamaCare.  Combined with Trump’s hard stance on immigration, a staple of Trump’s campaign platform which can affect some business’ hiring policies, business owners are left to wonder how the new administration will affect their HR, insurance coverage and benefit packages. After Trump’s shocking (shocking to Hillary staunch supporters, at least) win, experts are not so surprised to hear that Trump doesn’t plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in its entirety. Trump stated to The Wall Street Journal that he would consider keeping two of [ACA’s] most popular provisions, hinting that a complete repeal and replace is not in the future plans.

In all honesty, repealing Obamacare is not as simple as Trump’s platform had suggested. As a report released by PricewaterHouse Coopers last week stated, “The White House is just one part of a much larger machine. To really put his stamp on health policy, Trump must work with a patchwork of federal lawmakers, regulatory agencies, trade and advocacy groups and the Supreme Court.”  In other words, change to the Affordable Care Act are going to be long and slow in coming.  In addition to the holdup that will occur with Trump needing to work with these various institutions, his administration will definitely balk at the political ramifications of leaving over 20 million people suddenly without coverage. Without a viable replacement proposal that can lower the number of Americans left without coverage, repealing ObamaCare is in no way going to be as instantaneous as Trump’s campaign rhetoric indicated.

In fact, as the Obama administration was quick to report via Twitter the day immediately following Trump’s election, many Americans are still enrolling on The Exchange.:

“Best day yet this Open Enrollment. Nov 9: Over 100K plan selections on http://HealthCare.gov . Consumers shopping & enrolling. #GetCovered

While an entire repeal and replace is not in the immediate works, the Republican administration can deliver on Trump’s campaign promises through several smaller changes, which may include, but are not limited to:

  1. Stopping the Legal Fighting: While the outgoing administration has been appealing both the ruling stating that it is illegal to pay insurance companies to help keep health insurance costs down for low income clients and fighting lawsuits against the mandate that employers pay for birth control for women covered under insurance plans, the Republicans would be smart to drop the appeals and stop the fighting, upholding the Federal court’s May decision and making Conservatives happy.
  1. Exchanging the Exchange: The web-based system for buying health insurance has been highly unpopular and unnecessary. Trump has put forward the idea of allowing people to buy health insurance across state lines that could lower costs by creating more competition. 
  1. Repealing the Mandate: While not repealing the entirety of ObamaCare, the Trump administration may target the individual mandate to buy health insurance and employer mandate to offer insurance to employees (business over 50 employees), which has proven extremely burdensome on small to mid-level companies. However, targeting the individual mandate, may have one caveat. Experts warn that if Trump decides to uphold the regulation that carriers must accept preexisting conditions, then by default he will also need to uphold the individual mandate to buy insurance as well. Keeping the former without the latter will simply cause a devastating dynamic where Americans will not buy insurance until they actually need it. 
  1. Doing NOTHING: That’s right, the easiest way for the Trump administration to steamroll ObamaCare is simply to stop promoting open enrollment on the Exchange. Timothy Jost, a professor emeritus at the Washington and Lee University School of Law and an expert on health care policy explains why, stating, “It has been a full court press by the Obama administration since 2010 to get this thing implemented and it has taken a Herculean effort. As soon as it stops moving forward, it could start moving backward pretty quickly. Almost just by doing nothing, there could be some very negative effects.”

But Jost also has a word of warning for those Americans and business owners who feel that Trump’s win means an end to the troubles ObamaCare has caused, stating, “Frankly, everything that has gone wrong with the health care system for the past six years has been blamed on ObamaCare,” Jost says. “Everything that goes wrong with the health care system for the next four years will be blamed on TrumpCare. People who think we can just repeal Obamacare and everything will be great are in for a very, very, very rude surprise.”

So whether the Trump administration delivers on overall change (repeal & replace, which isn’t looking very likely) or implements smaller changes (meaning we won’t be seeing the end of ObamaCare just yet), businesses will need to be able to navigate the complicated health insurance regulations that can affect them. And despite how Trump will fulfill his campaign promise (which still remains to be seen), the fact remains that every new administration brings with it change that impacts both employer and employees. Having the resources, strength & security that a PEO provides behind your company’s insurance & benefit packages, can help your company weather whatever change Trump’s administration does end up implementing.

Furthermore, using an independent PEO consultant during these times of healthcare and policy uncertainty, can ensure minimal upheaval with whatever changes may be coming down the pipeline. As the Trump administration unfolds their plan for a “better” health care system, a PEO consultant stays up to date with the changes and new regulations so that they can ensure that their clients’ PEOs are still working for them regardless of the new political climate.

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