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The Good, the Bad & the Disgruntled; Your guide to dealing with a disgruntled current or former employee

By Shraga Jacobowitz

In our last couple of articles, we discussed hiring GOOD and firing BAD employee.  This week we’re going to discuss the UGLY (and no we’re not talking about that one employee who can use an overall makeover). But the UGLY TRUTH is that some of YOUR employees may NOT BE HAPPY! I know, I know…it can’t possibly be true, after all you’re an awesome guy and boss. But the reality of the truth is that 70% of current and 75% of fired employees in the US are disgruntled! And that’s a really bad thing.

Besides setting a bad tone and spreading internal negativity in the office, a disgruntled employee can be a liability and risk to a company in the forms of lawsuits, bad press and possible theft of company materials, clients or research.  In other words, you want to avoid them like the plague. But with the percentages listed above that may not be entirely possible. Which means, like or not, in the course of your business’ life, you most probably will have to deal with a disgruntled employee or former employee.

So what’s the trick to that? No worries, we’ve got you covered.

Let’s start with a disgruntled employee who is still a current employee of your company.  Now I know what you’re all saying right about now: Shraga has lost his mind….why would I ever let a disgruntled employee still work for me? While you may still think I’m crazy, you should know a disgruntled employee can end up being your best asset and here’s how:

  1. Find out why they are unhappy. Is it their personality or something at work legitimately making them dissatisfied and grumpy? If it’s their personality, you may be out of luck. The only thing you have to consider is if they bring something valuable to the table. If that’s the case, then you have to weigh the cost of company morale and dealing with a grump, against that value. If they have a legitimate reason for being upset, you’re in luck, because then you can fix the situation, not only improving the work environment for that individual, but for all your employees. Plus, showing that you care enough to find, resolve and correct the issue is a great way to create gruntled (why is that not a word?), happy employees.
  1. Don’t lose your cool. It’s like parenting….no matter how frustrating your two year old is being, you know you’re the adult and therefore you have to remain calm (despite the haircut they just gave themselves or the glitter they just decorated your important report with). Same too, no matter how frustrating your employee is being, you have to remain professional. I know it’s hard, but it is important for both handling this employee and creating a positive work environment. And to prevent an employee related lawsuit or claim such as discrimination, wrongful termination etc.
  1. Model good behavior. Another great tidbit from parenting, the “do as I say, not as I do” method is proven NOT to work. As the boss, you SET THE TONE of the office. How you deal with frustrating situations, treat your employees and your general mood, will affect how your employees do the same. Happy Boss = Happy Office (I know it doesn’t rhyme, but it stands just as true as Happy Wife = Happy Life).
  1. Build a company culture that prevents the Disgruntled. Sounds easy enough….just don’t hire disgruntled employees to begin with. Okay, as we all know, it’s easier said than done (even if you listen to my advice in my previous articles), but as discussed in my article on building the right company culture, creating an environment that is positive and stresses the values and mission of the company will prevent hiring these people in the first place. Having a strong value compass, will help weed out those employees that don’t fit into the culture or can help prevent an employee from becoming disgruntled in the first place.
  1. Ask for Help. If you’re partnered with a PEO, they have the tools and personnel to help you deal with a problem employee. In addition, they can help identify potentially problem employees and can help you protect yourself against the more dire consequences of a disgruntled employee, such as a lawsuit. There’s no shame in asking for help here! When it comes to protecting your company, it’s really the smartest thing to do.

That said and done, DON’T BE AFRAID TO FIRE A DISGRUNTLED EMPLOYEE who cannot be helped.  At the end of the day, this is your company and you need to make sure each and every employee fits your needs and culture.

Which brings us to the other type of disgruntled employee….the one who is getting the ax soon or already has. And while the first type of disgruntled employee (the one still working for you) is a pain to deal with, this type of disgruntled employee can be a lot more of a nuisance and plain old scary for your company.  A disgruntled former employee can pose a big risk to your company in form of bad mouthing your company to potential clients and/or job applicants.

Having disgruntled former employees is standard in the business world, meaning, at some point of your career, you’re going to have to deal with someone who is mad at or dislikes you.  I know, I know….we all just want to be loved, but the reality of the situation is not everyone is going to love us, and that holds doubly true for someone you’ve let go from your company.  Listening to some of the advice on how to fire someone, will hopefully eliminate some of the disgruntled employees. But for those employees for whom just smoothing over the firing process is not an option, the following tips can help defuse a potentially explosive situation.

  1. Don’t give them anything to complain about. Okay, I know this sounds obvious, and in any case, isn’t the very definition of disgruntled, someone who has a lot to complain about? While this is true, if you do everything correctly, they’ll be hard pressed to find reasons to complain (I mean, the complaint gets kind of weak when there’s nothing to be said). Be generous where you can be; make small concessions when handling their requests; make sure they are paid their final paycheck before they step out of your door, and treat them with respect, dignity, calm and cool. It may even be worthwhile to reach out through a third party to see if you can resolve any outstanding complaints. But if they’re not open to this, let it go.
  1. Take away their power. Don’t let one disgruntled employee disrupt your entire company. Don’t allow their antics to consume a disproportionate time and energy. Assign one person to handle the matter and let everyone else resume work. This also sends a strong message to the disgruntled employee that life (or work, in this matter) goes on without them. Similarly, when confronted by a disgruntled employee, get a room, i.e., keep it private. Don’t allow for a showdown to happen in front of your other employees, customers or other bystanders.  You may also want to look into offering employees a severance agreement that offers the employee something they want in return for a non-disclosure agreement that includes what can and can’t be said about you, your team and your company.
  1. Change the narrative. The biggest problem (barring the real extreme cases) you will probably face with a disgruntled employee is having someone bad-mouth you. While unfortunately this can’t be changed, it doesn’t have to be the only story out there. However, don’t try to correct the problem by engaging with the disgruntlee (again, why is this not a word?). Instead, make sure you share positive aspects of your company’s purpose, mission, goals and accomplishments. In other words, remind people that there is a bigger picture than just this one employee. Don’t rehash details of the employee’s faults and firing, but do respond to rumors immediately. Without getting into a full out war, address any rumors by giving accurate facts that counter them, without having to repeat the rumor.
  1. Get Help. If you’re noticing a theme here, you’re not imagining it. Getting help when needed is essential to ensure that you and your company are protected. Dealing with a disgruntled employee can be draining.  Seek out professionals that can help you with this matter. As always, I suggest asking your PEO if they can help you with the situation or help find the professionals who can and like I mentioned before, a PEO can even help prevent situations from escalating by putting into place preventive measures that protect your company, identifying disgruntled employees before they become a threat and helping you offer better benefits to your employees to minimize their dsgrutleness (I think the dictionary needs to add some of these words) and maximize their overall job satisfaction. Most importantly, if you think a situation is getting too volatile and can potentially be dangerous, get the authorities involved.  DON’T LET A SITUATION BECOME DANGEROUS BEFORE ACTING!  In the case of any disgruntled employee, it is important to be PROACTIVE rather than REACTIVE.

When it’s all said and done, preventing and dealing with disgruntled employees simply falls back upon what most human interactions depend on, being  respectful, listening (but I mean really listening) to what they have to say, staying calm and being  the bigger man. Easy enough, no?

For more information on how to create a work environment that discourages disgruntled employees and/or how to maintain HR practices that protect both you and your employees, contact ARC Consultants and see if a PEO is the right fit for you.

When it’s time to fire…And how to do it: 4 steps to firing an employee without any drama.

By Shraga Jacobowitz

In our last two newsletters (see here and here), we discussed how to hire the perfect employee, but despite all our good intentions, sometimes the day comes when we have to fire an employee.  (Insert Gasp and sigh of dread here) If you speak to most business owners, they’ll most likely say firing employees is one of the hardest tasks that falls on their plate. In fact, the average employer waits way too long to fire a non-performing employee because they are dreading the task, although retaining them is costing them money, time and even customers in the long run. Which is why dreadful or not, firing is a necessary evil in business and should never be avoided.

However, keep in mind that just like hiring the perfect employee is a process, firing the not so perfect employee is a process as well. But since there are laws that govern who you may or may not fire and what you may or may not be allowed to fire for, firing someone can actually be a lot more complicated than hiring them. So what do you need to know before firing someone in your organization?

#1 Weigh your Options

Like our discussion with hiring, the first step is to consider if you really need to fire this employee. Realize that not all employees are suited for every position. Before firing someone, consider whether perhaps they would be better fit at a different job within your company.  Obviously this is only if the employee has done nothing wrong and exhibits great qualities and work ethic, but is sinking at their current position. Sometimes the difference between an amazing employee and an employee you are rearing to fire is TRAINING, TRAINING and more TRAINING (refer back to my second newsletter on hiring practices to see just how important training is). It may be that the employee you are considering firing, just needs some additional training and/or development. Offering them that training or development can gain you the perfect employee.  And not to toot the PEO horn once again, but PEOs often offer this training and courses to employees of their clients.

#2 Protect Yourself and Company

If you’re in the legal right to fire the employee (again, a PEO provider can assist in determining whether this is the case or not) you want to leave no room for a fraudulent case.

  1. Only fire someone face-to-face! Besides being courteous to your former employee, face-to-face leaves no room for miscommunication.
  2. Do not fire anyone without warning! Again, it’s a simple courtesy, but also, a warning legitimizes your claim against the employee. If you’ve told them already you’re not happy with their performance, they shouldn’t be surprised to be fired when they don’t improve. Also, no one wants to work in an environment where firings happen out of the blue. It just creates an environment of fear and distrust among your remaining employees.
  3. As a follow-up to #2 above, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT! (I don’t need to tell you what it means when I repeat myself three times, you know already that it just indicates how important this advice is. And IT IS! So don’t ignore it.) So what to document? Everything!! Okay not clear enough, here are some examples of important things to have records of:
    • How well or un-well (isn’t that the antonym of well?) they performed their job. If someone is excelling write down….not so much so, write that down as well.
    • Any infraction they did with time, place, details and witnesses names if applicable.
    • Any disciplinary action that was taken at the time of each infraction
    • The amount of time given to rectify the situation
    • Any warnings given before disciplinary action was taken. Make sure to record each time a warning was issued and by default each time said warning was ignored.

As with any other types of documentation, have concrete proof of everything. And if something was relayed verbally, follow it up with an email so you have written proof of all interactions.

  1. Don’t fire an employee without a witness! The reason for this one should be obvious. If you have someone who is there to attest to your reason and method of firing, it is harder for someone to make a claim of employment discrimination.
  2. Protect your property and data. Terminate the employee’s access to all your systems immediately and change any passwords you may have, and don’t allow them to access their work area. Ask the employee to hand over their key, door pass, badge and any electronic equipment that is company owned, i.e., smartphone, laptop, tablet etc.
  3. Keep it short and simple! The more information you give, the more fuel they have to fight you. If you’ve given them the proper warnings (see #2), then they know why they are getting fired and there’s no need to rehash it. Honestly, it might just be cruel to do so.
  4. Don’t end the meeting on a low note! Sounds like odd advice for a termination meeting, but the reality of the situation is no one wants a disgruntled former employee (especially in the world of social media). If the firing is done respectfully, you are accommodating and acknowledge the employee’s positive attributes, you are more likely to have an employee who won’t bash you on social media or TP your house. Unless they’ve truly been awful, don’t deny them unemployment benefits and encourage them in their next steps towards employment. If applicable, you can even offer to be a reference for their next job.  If you are able to and if the situation warrants it, offer a compensation package. Basically, be nice and you’ll make a very hard situation a bit easier (although, I’m not promising that there still won’t be tears, because unfortunately, most likely there will be tears!)

#3 Be Prepared

Like we mentioned above, some classes of workers are protected based on race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability….you get the point. Therefore, when you are firing anyone, especially someone who falls in these protected classes, make sure you have a clear reason why you are firing them and have documentation. Don’t wait until an employee becomes a problem to begin documenting. Have a clearly defined method of tracking and documenting employee performance, establish uniform policies on what is expected and what is a fire-worthy offense, and if possible, discuss and correct problems as soon as they occur. If you’re really not sure if you have a leg to stand on, reach out to a professional (just saying, your PEO can most likely help you with this).

#4 Interview, Interview & Interview

And, no I’m not talking about hiring the replacement for your fired employee just yet (that we covered in our last newsletters), but I’m actually referring to Exit Interviews.  All too often, this important step is skipped, but they are a valuable tool for any business owner. They can help bring to light issues within your company. After all, a fired employee has nothing left to lose, so they’ll be as blunt as possible and everyone needs to hear the blunt truth every once in a while.  Now obviously, if your employee is leaving on bad terms and has a “burn the company down to the ground” mentality, you may want to take what they have to say with a heaping tablespoon of salt. But otherwise, be open to the criticism and see how you can improve both the work environment for your current employees, and implement ideas to attract better new hires.  This step holds true whether you are firing someone or they are quitting.

#5 Be Transparent

There’s nothing that strikes fear more in employees’ hearts than hearing that a colleague was fired!  Unless you want to run a company on fear (trust me, you don’t – it’s not really the motivator you think it is), be open with your remaining employees about the circumstances of the firing. You don’t have to share the intimate details, but recognize that a change has been made to the staff and assure them that their jobs are still safe (unless they’re not, and if that’s case, go back to #1 and repeat).

Obviously, the best option is to not have to fire at all, but when you do, keeping these points in mind can definitely make the process a lot easier, smoother and minimize your stress, dread and fear.

Want to find out how a PEO can help you attract and retain quality employees or how they can help you with your HR administrative tasks so that both hiring and firing can be easier? Contact ARC Consultants today.

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.

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

By: Shraga Jacobowitz

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.

Is Trump’s ban on immigrants a ban on business too?

Whether you agree with President Trump’s policies or not, everyone can agree that the new President has definitely started his first term in office with plenty of sound and fury. Whether it signifies nothing or not is yet to be seen. However, many business owners are wondering how his ideology and campaign agenda will affect business. Are they looking at massive changes in regulations, hiring practices, insurance laws or is it just going to be business as usual?

Trump claims to be a friend of business; his recently signed executive order pledging to repeal two existing regulations for every new one, a promise to reduce business tax rates to 15%, his appointment of Linda McMahon to the SBA, Scott Pruitt to head the EPA and nominating Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court all seem to indicate he is moving in that direction.  NFIB CEO and President commended Trump on his address to Congress (2.28.17), stating “President Trump delivered a very strong economic message that hit the right notes,” regarding tax reform, repealing the affordable care act and reducing business regulations.

But its Trump’s other agenda, i.e., his crackdown on illegal immigrants that has some businesses worried. Trump’s push to tighten our borders may provide some unanticipated challenges for business owners, they include:

  1. The controversial travel ban to the U.S. from specific countries
  2. A limit on H-1B and other visas allowing foreigners to come to the U.S. to work
  3. Stricter enforcement of the E-Verify system that is meant to screen these workers.

As such, many businesses are wondering how Trump’s immigration plans will affect their staffing strategies, business travel and expansion plans.

Trump is suggesting that this crackdown and his “America first” agenda is meant to create new jobs, but many are skeptical if that will truly be the case.  While we tend to think of immigrants taking low paying jobs and therefore having little effect on business, according to a recent survey conducted by Envoy, an immigration service provider, 63% of U.S. employers describe foreign workers as being extremely important to their company’s recruiting and hiring strategies.  Many would be surprised to know that a majority of new patents in the U.S. are registered by non-U.S. citizens.

Additionally, immigrants have been responsible for some of the most successful U.S. startup companies, which in turn, has created many jobs for U.S. citizens.

Foreigners have always been a crucial source of talent across all industries, and if qualified options are not available in the U.S. talent pool, companies may be looking to move or expand their offices outside of the U.S. or outsource some of their tasks to foreign companies.  In addition, companies will be hesitant to send current employees to overseas conferences, short term assignments or client meetings, further limiting a company’s growth potential.

Additionally, Trump’s strict policies have more dire consequences, says immigration lawyer, Austin T. Fragomen Jr., (Fragomen, Bernsen & Loewy), “making the U.S. an undesirable location because of the unpredictably, sends a very negative message,” and will further scare qualified foreign workers from taking U.S. jobs.  Giselle Carson, a corporate lawyer who litigates for many companies employing immigrants, echoes this sentiment, stating, “The Trump administration actions sends a message to talented foreign nationals that ‘You’re not welcome,’  and we don’t want to send a message that we’re closing our doors and closing our borders.”

This leaves many businesses wondering, what’s a company to do in the face of Trump’s obvious commitment to his hard stance on immigration?  While the uncertainty at this time makes it difficult to come up with a concrete plan, there are several things a business owner can do right now to ensure that if the immigration hammer does fall, he is not left crushed by it.

  1. Make sure you are up to date on immigration policy, including not just hiring policy, but firing policy, as well, which can have additional ramifications to the firing of an U.S. Citizen.
  2. Know the legal status of all your foreign employees, including being on the lookout for discrepancies in any employee’s information. Employers have an obligation to verify the identity and visa status through the I-9 process. While this process is old news, the increased enforcement, with risk of imprisonment for not complying is relatively new and can have dire consequences for a business owner. Businesses should be aware that as of this January, a new I-9 form has been introduced, which will most likely mean more government scrutinization, inter-agency cross referencing and stricter enforcement.
  3. Many recruiting firms suggest using these immigration policy changes as an opportunity to train and create better workers from your current talent pool.

Seems a bit overwhelming, no?

This is of course where a PEO comes into play. (You had to know a PEO was going to come up at some point.)  Partnering with a PEO to provide your HR solutions can help you with all of the above items. Through providing assistance with recruiting and hiring, a PEO can help you strategize to hire qualified employees from the U.S., along with generous employee benefit packages that PEOs can provide can also help attract and retain these employees.  A PEO firm stays on top of immigration law, so you don’t have to, ensuring that you’re always compliant. It is always a good idea to reach out to your PEO to review your current immigration and policy procedure to ensure compliance and to review any new and/or applicable laws that may pertain to your specific workforce.

Finally, through offering employee training programs, a PEO can help you build up a better workforce internally, which may be the direction business owners are going to need to begin considering.

So while Trump definitely does seem to be a great friend to business, we can only hope that he keeps in mind how his need to “build a wall” can and will affect U.S. businesses.

Unleashing the Power of Your PEO

By: Shraga Jacobowitz

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.

Currently with a PEO?? Are you satisfied??

By: Shraga Jacobowitz

There are over 900 PEOs currently in the US. PEOs partner with thousands of businesses and co-employ millions of employees. PEOs assist every industry and business size by streamlining their operations, lowering their costs and securing competitive benefit packages for their employees.

With such a vast variety of PEOs, it can be extremely difficult for business owners to identify the proper PEO that best suits their specific business needs. It can be extremely complex and cumbersome to differentiate and fully understand the differences and pricing methods.

PEO brokers are extremely helpful and resourceful, as they have tremendous experience and understand the differences between each PEO provider. In addition, they can assess your needs and match you up with a PEO provider that will meet your specifications, as they are familiar with all the latest products and services from each PEO. With a PEO broker you will receive better service from your PEO provider, as you will have an advocate on your behalf that has clout with the provider based on the aggregate amount of business the broker has with that PEO.

Every business that is currently in a PEO partnership, should do some due diligence into the partnership prior to making any decision on changing or maintaining your provider. Just keep in mind, that even though a PEO shows a proposal with significant savings it does not always come out to be that way.  Some PEOs can be offering fewer services, a skimmed-down package offering, or in some scenarios have some conditions that your current providers does not. Here are some thoughts that may be helpful in your decision process.

If you are pretty much happy, however you do experience some issues, try to identify those issues – whether it’s a quality of service, pricing, services offerings, benefit packages, technology etc. Then reach out to your current provider and express your issues to see what they can do to accommodate. Many times accommodations can be made, especially when the PEO provider feels your business to them is on the line. Although you may be very unhappy with your current provider, ultimately, you may find that re-negotiating a better deal or working with your current PEO provider and solving your issues will result in a far better outcome, far faster and simpler than transitioning to another PEO provider that may have the very same issues.

If you have come to the realization that your current PEO provider is not suitable and cannot meet your expectations, then obviously it would be best to move to a new provider that may be more suitable.

Here are a few pointers that are important to review regarding your current PEO:

1) Does your current PEO make many mistakes? The entire point of partnering with a PEO is to reduce risk and exposure, and ensure compliance. If your PEO is consistently making payroll discrepancies and not producing paperwork on time, then it’s time to entertain making a change.

2) Are you taking advantage of all the HR services your PEO offers? Many times companies will purchase a suite of PEO services they don’t even use or know exist. Educating yourself on the service offerings, may assist you in utilizing them.

3) Is you’re current PEO helping your business streamline its operations, and operate more efficiently? If dealing with your PEO causes more headaches than working without one, chances are it’s time for a switch.

4) Does your current PEO respond to your needs in a timely fashion?  In a healthy and conducive PEO-client relationship, communications should be quick, responsive and proactive. Your common goals should be smoothing out any potential issues.

5) How is the PEOs technology? Can you generate the reports needed? Is the onboarding and off boarding process efficient? PEOs that invest and constantly update the latest techniques and software will save you time and money.

6) Now here is an important one – Are your invoices and billing transparent and understandable? If you don’t understand how your PEO fees are broken down, then you may be overpaying. It is important to fully understand your PEOs billing methods.

7) Are your service fees, taxes, workers compensation and health benefits pricing competitive. We recommend an annual or bi-annual PEO Evaluation in order to review these questions and determine whether you need to restructure your PEO partnership.

 

ARC Consultants is a PEO consulting firm, we broker out PEO services for all the leading PEO companies. We have exceptional knowledge in the industry, and all the latest products. With our expertise and knowledge, we are able to better understand our client’s needs and concerns and assist them in navigating through the complexities of making the correct decision in partnering with a PEO. We assist our clients in finding them the PEO that best suits their specific needs, as well as, negotiate on their behalf and service them throughout our relationship. We maintain exceptional relationships with our PEO providers and thereby we have the ability to service our client’s needs and advocate on their behalf.

Reach out to ARC Consultants now, so we can start assisting you in finding the solution that’s just right for you…… www.arcpeo.com

Why you should partner with a PEO for your business…..

By: Shraga Jacobowitz

Focus.

A PEO (Professional Employer Organization) assumes a significant amount of HR and employee related responsibilities and can free up many hours from your weekly schedule. It’s actually truly interesting how much time HR can take and the burden it places on companies. From insurance quotes to on-boarding each new employee to employee related reports. HR is extremely important to your business and should not be overlooked. However, you and your team should focus on what you do best, and dedicate your selves to your core business and give the rest to the PEO because a PEO lets you do just that…..

Compliance Complexities.

Additionally, dealing with the complexities of the government on a State and Federal level can get extremely overwhelming. Even if you do not receive any penalties for non-compliance, the amount of time a company can spend on compliance will significantly limit your ability to grow and focus on your core business. With a PEO you will avoid common compliance mistakes. A PEO shoulders the transactional HR aspects of your business it frees up your time and energy to focus on building your business, especially as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) regulations continues to impact business significantly.

Employee Benefits.
When partnering with a PEO you can get access to Fortune 500 type benefit packages. These packages range from health insurance to pet insurance and everything in between including Employee Assistance Program, Employee Perks Programs, 401k etc., which are all streamlined from one source at competitive pricing due to the economies of scale.

Attracting and Retaining Top Talent.
The PEO partnership gives you the ability to have access to a recruiting package that will assist you in attracting and retaining top talent. This will also assist you in producing the greatest products and services.

ARC Consultants is a PEO consulting firm, we broker out PEO services for all the leading PEO companies. We have exceptional knowledge in the industry, and all the latest products. With our expertise and knowledge, we are able to better understand our client’s needs and concerns and assist them in navigating through the complexities of making the correct decision in partnering with a PEO. We assist our clients in finding them the PEO that best suits their specific needs, as well as, negotiate on their behalf and service them throughout our relationship. We maintain exceptional relationships with our PEO providers and thereby we have the ability to service our client’s needs and advocate on their behalf.

Reach out to ARC Consultants now, so we can start assisting you in finding the solution that’s just right for you…… www.arcpeo.com