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It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year….to sign up for a PEO: The best time to make the switch

By Shraga Jacobowitz

The air is getting crisper, holiday music is playing nonstop and your children have 50 items written on their gift lists already….which for many can only mean one thing… it’s time to go shopping.  Shopping for a PEO that is!

I bet you didn’t see that coming….but yep, with everything else happening at the end of the year, it seems that the PEO industry is also geared towards this “magical time of the year.”

For one, many things handled by the PEO, i.e., payroll, open enrollment, health insurance renewal, and W2s fall out around this time as well, which is why 80% of PEO business is done in December. No, that’s not saying that PEOs are sitting around the rest of the year; there is still plenty for them to do all year round, but last quarter is when push really comes to shove.

For another, with the hectic end-of-the-year business, with many employees taking vacations and companies trying to meet end-of-the-year goals, business owners are even more overwhelmed with their HR tasks and are looking for a way to simplify their lives. Plus with everything going on, errors are bound to happen, and therefore having a professional take over sounds like a great idea. So obviously, it just seems natural that this time would be the best time to switch to a PEO.

But before you pick up that phone, there’s something you should know. If you’re only looking into PEOs now, most likely you won’t be taking advantage of them for this fiscal year.  Unfortunately, while Rome may have been built in a day, the process of partnering with a PEO can take anywhere from 30-90 days. And even if a PEO tells you that they can get the job done in a shorter period of time,

  1. take it with a very large heaping spoonful of salt, because in order for the process to be done correctly, it really does need to take that long, and
  2. we wouldn’t recommend rushing the process, as it can result in partnering with the wrong PEO and ending up with a contract and services that are all wrong for you. Plus with the over 700 PEOs in America, you really want to take the time to research which PEO best fits you.
  3. Similarly, a rushed onboarding equals problem, which in turn equals unhappy employees. And you know what they say, Happy Employees = Happy Work Life (hey, you try rhyming employees). But all kidding aside, rushing the onboarding process will prevent a seamless transition and most likely will result in mistakes costing you time, money and frustrations in the long run.

But you ask, isn’t it preferable to switch at the beginning of a fiscal year?

And while the answer to that is yes, to ensure that you are not being taxed twice or have other financial implications, a January 1st transition is most recommended, it doesn’t mean if you’ve missed the boat for this year (and unfortunately, as mentioned above, you have), then you have to sit around until next year waiting to make the switch.

This is where a PEO consultant or PEO Broker (such as ARC Consultants, of course) comes in handy!  When making a mid-year switch to a PEO, your consultant/broker will work with the PEOs to ensure that there is no financial impact to a company joining the PEO at any time of the year. Furthermore, if you decide that a CPEO  is the right fit for you, the IRS allows for mid-year switches without financial or tax repercussions.

So if you’re looking to switch to a PEO, really any time of the year is the ideal time to make the move.  PEOs are here to make business owners’ life less complicated, why would you wait for a specific time of the year to do so?  If you’re ready to make the switch, just do it! And do it now….because like I said, unfortunately, it’s ain’t happening overnight.

Okay, you can pick up that phone again now! Give ARC Consultants a call and let’s get started on partnering you with the right PEO for you.

6 Reasons Why you Need a PEO Consultant or PEO Broker NOW!

 

By Shraga Jacobowitz

There are many reasons why you should use a PEO (not sure what they are? You can check out any one of the many blogs I’ve written about it such as this one). Every business owner, including hopefully you, has their own unique reason for partnering with a PEO. Perhaps you are just fed up with your administrative tasks eating up huge amounts of your time, overpaying for your company’s health coverage, or losing out on hiring top talent to companies that can offer better benefit packages.  Regardless of the reason is (although I do hope my newsletters had at least a little bit of bearing on the decision), you are now ready to make that leap and join the thousands of companies who partner with PEOs.

You ready? Let’s go, pull out the yellow pages–who am I kidding– turn to the all trusty Google and type in PEO providers. In 0.49 seconds 1.56 Million results come up (trust me, I tried it). Now what?

How do you know which PEO provider is the right fit for your business? Will get you the best service? Best prices? Understand you? With over 700 PEO companies servicing businesses throughout the country, finding the one that meets your business’s needs can be a huge headache.

Enter the PEO Consultant (AKA PEO Broker). And while the word consultant conjures to mind the famous adage “Those who can’t do, teach. Those who can’t teach, consult,” this is one case where a consultant can really DO a lot.  A PEO consultant/ broker will do all the research and negotiating for you so that you sign a contract with the PEO that is perfect for your industry and your particular organization. I mean, after all, your time is so precious; why bother researching and reviewing dozens of companies or even worse having to sit through countless sales pitches and lengthy (read: boring) presentations (although the swag and refreshments are always a nice perk, you have better things to do with your time) when you can have someone do it for you?

But hiring a PEO Consultant / PEO Broker is so much more than just the research. Here’s the top 6 reasons why you should use a PEO Consultant/ PEO Broker when partnering with a PEO:

  1. Comparison shopping made easy 

We all love the option of comparison shopping online, just click a couple buttons and have all the data to make an informed decision right in front of you. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy when it comes to PEOs. Pricing is going to be a huge factor in your decision about which PEO provider to use. But getting quotes from several companies can take loads of time, energy and endless paperwork on your part.  PEO proposals tend to be lengthy and as discussed in my last newsletter can be complicated, i.e., containing many easy-to-miss small details and varying pricing structures making comparison-shopping extremely difficult. A PEO Consultant/ PEO Broker can provide you multiple quotes to review at once, making your decision that much easier, and they can advise you to which PEO is the best fit for your needs and the best value for your company.

  1. Saving you time

When choosing a PEO, you’ll have to choose between a National, Regional or Niche PEO. You’ll need to do research into each kind of PEO, and once you’ve made that choice, you’ll need to do further research into PEO providers within each category. That’s a lot of research for one decision!

Think of the Consultant / Broker as that one guy who just knows everyone at the party….because honestly a good Consultant/ Broker will have already established dozens of relationships with PEO providers within each class. This way, they can guide you with this part of the process so you can make your final decision sooner.  In addition, as mentioned above, knowing which type of PEO is the best fit for your business, eliminates the need to even sit down, never mind listen to sales presentation from PEOs that don’t fit your company’s needs (you’ll just have to do without the keychain, hand sanitizer or Danish).  That’s why working with a PEO Consultant / PEO Broker will save you time and energy (and frustration), ensuring that you only sit down with those PEOs that services, technology and financial structure suit your business’ specific needs. 

  1. Better pricing 

Like every decision you make about your company, it’s all about the money, money, money! And to paraphrase the saying, “If you think hiring an expert is expensive, try doing it yourself.” Not hiring a consultant/broker can sometimes end up costing you more than any savings you might have thought you were gaining by doing it yourself. If you want to get the most value for your money with a PEO provider, hire a PEO Consultant / PEO Broker. An experience consultant / broker can negotiate on your behalf to get you the best service for the best price. And a good consultant / broker will use their exclusive relationships with PEO providers to draw up a deal that is favorable to everyone involved.

Hiring a PEO is a huge decision that will affect your bottom line for years to come. Why not get the most for your money? 

  1. Simplified paperwork 

Ever try to apply for something and simply give up just because of the sheer amount of paperwork?  We know that feeling! In order to provide you with an accurate quote, a PEO will need to gather a large amount of data from you, including your employees’ salaries, insurance policies, health care requirements, workers’ compensation history, and a whole lot more. Since each PEO uses a unique proposal system, you’ll need to fill out all that paperwork each time you research another PEO. That’s paperwork times infinity, or at least it will feel like that.

When using an experienced Consultant / Broker though, you only need to submit this information once. The Consultant/ Broker will evaluate your company’s data and give you quotes based on your specific needs so that you can make an informed decision with minimal paperwork involved.

You’ve got enough on your head already; why not save yourself some paperwork—and lots of time?

  1. They have your best interests in mind 

If you were in the market for a new computer and are not sure which one to get, do you go to a Dell store or an electronic store like Best Buy?  Unless you know you want a Dell, I’d suggest going to Best Buy, because the Dell representative is only going to sell you a Dell which may not be the best computer for you.

Similarly, when you work with a PEO directly, the company will try to convince you that they’re the best fit for your business. In contrast, when you work with a Consultant / Broker, they only have your own interests in mind and will help you make a decision that is best for you. They don’t make more money when you choose a particular PEO over another; they only want to make you happy.

It’s always best to work with someone who has your best interests in mind.

  1. They’re in the know 

When most people think about partnering with a PEO, it is to get competitive insurance rates or better employee benefit packages, but the pros of a PEO far exceed just saving your time and money. Many PEOs offer employee training, safety compliance assistance, creating company culture and employee engagement, workers comp insurance, assistance with onboarding, hiring and firing techniques, government compliance and regulation guidance and so much more. For more benefits of the PEO, check out some of my past blogs. But it’s hard to take advantage of all these amazing benefits if you don’t even know about them. A PEO Consultant/ PEO Broker can give you the complete rundown of all the myriad of ways a PEO can help your business.  And really, why would you want to miss out on something, simply because you didn’t know to ask for it?

Want to see exactly how a PEO Consultant / PEO Broker can help your business get the most out of your PEO? Call ARC Consultants today and let them not only consult you, but DO all the work for you.

The Economics of PEOs: The 411 on what PEOs cost and how they invoice

By Shraga Jacobowitz

Okay, it’s time to address the elephant (or should we say the piggybank) in the room.  I know as you read all my (I hope, helpful) articles, you’ve been wondering about one thing…..What’s the bottom line?  While PEOs seem too good to be true, offering an array of benefits for so little cost, they really are THAT good!

So how do PEOs do this? And how much is it going to cost you?

PEOs are able to offer so much for so little because of their very structure.  Companies using PEOs are entering into a co-employment arrangement, which actually means that your employees are not only employed by your company, but also by the PEO (much LARGER) company.  This co-employment allows your company to offset some of your liabilities and receive benefits usually only offered to much larger companies.

You may already know the benefits of PEOs. If not, you can always check out our inaugural newsletter article or any of the other newsletters that covered this topic.  And once you understand how a PEO can save you money, you can get down to the crux of things. As the saying goes, “there are no free lunches.”  And we’re back to that all important question, “What’s it going to cost me?”

So, of course, a PEO will charge you for their service, but their cost outweighs the savings you receive from partnering with a PEO tenfold.  Keep in mind when partnering with a PEO that in many cases even after factoring the fees of a PEO for their service, they are delivering a much bigger net savings to their clients.  As part of a PEO, you are being offered savings on your health benefits, workers comp and creating a lower-risk environment. In addition, partnering with the majority of PEOs can eliminate the need to have a HR department and will definitely eliminate the need to use a Payroll processing company, saving you even more money across the board.  As for the PEO cost, like everything else in the PEO world, every PEO is different. But there are three basic price models offered by a PEO:

The Flat Rate

The Percentage

The Bundle

I’m sure you’ve all already picked out your favorite pricing structure, but just in case you’re not sure which is best for you, here’s a quick rundown of the three options:

  1. The Flat Rate: Here the PEO will charge you a flat rate per employee. People like this because they know what they’re paying. The downside of this is you’re paying the same amount no matter how much time each of those employees put in and how much they benefit from your PEO partnership. Rates usually vary depending on company size and/or a number of other variables and fall between $60 and $200 per employee.
  2. The Percentage: These PEOs charge a percentage of your gross payroll each month. The downside is as this will fluctuate payroll to payroll, there’s no consistency in fees and you never know what to expect. In addition, this pay structure may throw you some surprises along the way, in the form of higher service fees when you give an employee a raise or provide bounces further increasing your cost/fee for the PEO. Its simple math, the percentage on a $1000 weekly pay is going to jump up when you raise that employee’s pay rate to $1500/week. The upside is in many cases, it can actually end up cheaper than the flat rate. Again, this is simple math, i.e., dividing your percentage fee by your number of employees may show you that your percentage rate WILL often fall out cheaper than the flat rate amount. Rates are usually based within a range of 2 and 4 percent.
  3. The Bundle: While we generally like bundle deals (I mean, who doesn’t like the TV, Internet, Phone packages), you generally don’t want a bundled PEO rate. This means the PEO invoices you one percentage which includes your payroll taxes, workers comp costs, (and in some cases your employee benefits cost) and their administrative fee in one lump percentage against your gross wages per pay cycle.  Honestly, I don’t see any upside to this price structure, unless you just don’t want to be bothered with the actual cost of things and prefer to pay bills blindly (and if that’s the case, I have a bridge to sell you).   The downside to this is that you have no idea what your costs are and therefore have no way of tracking, reconciling or reporting your individual expenses. Besides that, not knowing what you pay, makes it quite difficult to shop around or negotiate lower rates for those items that are experience rates.

But be aware, not all bundles are created the same, some PEOs will bundle everything while others will bundle Workers Comp and Administrative fees.  If you’re looking for something bundle, the latter may be a better bet.

Regardless of which price structure you decide is best for you, it’s good to know that most PEO quotes will include six standard costs (whether they are bundled or not):

  1. FICA
  2. FUTA
  3. SUTA
  4. Workers Compensation
  5. Employee Benefits Premiums
  6. Administrative Fees

Not sure what these are, you can check out Unscrambling the ABC’s of the PEOs and Wrapping up the ABC’s of PEOs, but for our purposes, all you have to know is the first two, both federally mandated employee withholdings will not (or I should say SHOULD NOT) differ from PEO to PEO. When it comes to the next three, that is when you will see a difference in your quotes. Because SUTA (State Unemployment Tax), Workers Compensation and Employee Benefits Premium rates depend on a variety of factors (such as operating state, number of claims –whether unemployment or workers comp claim, and the workers comp code they are using), each PEO will offer these at different rates. This is where you can start comparing prices.  And finally, as discussed above, the administrative fees will depend on how the PEO decides to charge you.

Like I said above MOST PEOs will have these six standard costs (and if they don’t, that’s an immediate red flag), but it is also important that these six costs are broken down on the invoices you receive from the PEO.  While this seems obvious, many PEOs proposal will show you this breakdown but not include it on their invoices. Before signing on with a PEO, make sure you ask about their invoicing practices or ask your handy PEO consultant (like ARC) how to navigate the billing and invoice process.

My final word of advice, ALWAYS LOOK FOR HIDDEN FEES.  These fees can be anything from additional charges for HR Services, EPLI, additional support or added technology modules, employee training. Many times, these fees will not be included in the original quote. Before signing on, ask the PEO for documentation of all fees and read everything word for word, including footnotes, endnotes, addendums (and any other way a PEO can sneak in additional charges).

Sounds like a lot of work? It can be, but it doesn’t have to be.

My ultimate word of advice that will always stand true: Contact a PEO Broker or consultant such as ARC Consultants (of course) to do the heavy lifting for you. Because these consultants have relationships with many PEOs, they know the ins-and-outs of each PEO’s price structure, whether there are hidden fees, who offers supplementary services for free, who charges for them, and just about everything you need to know about choosing the right PEO at the best rate for you.

Want to know more information about price comparing PEOs and selecting a PEO that fits all your needs? Contact ARC Consultants today.

Should a PEO be your business’ New Year’s resolution? 7 Signs that will tell you if a PEO should be on the list

 

By: Shraga Jacobowitz

With New Year’s just past (Do we all remember Y2K pandemonium? Can you believe it was 18 years ago?), it’s time to reflect on those resolutions. For many that means personal resolutions. But believe it or not, New Year’s is also a good time for business resolutions, especially if your business is showing any of the following seven signs. And with the help of ARC, this is a resolution you can actually keep.

So what are the 7 signs you might need a PEO?

Read on and see if any sound familiar.

#1: Your administrative duties overwhelm you 

If you’re desperately searching for more hours in the day to get through your entire workload, a PEO is the ideal solution for you. A thriving, growing business translates into growing administrative duties that you may not be able to keep up with.

A competent PEO will streamline all of your administrative processes, such as overseeing payroll, new hire and termination processes, HR compliance and medical coverage for your employees. They assume the bulk of hiring and recruiting new workers, supervise employee data management and more.

This might especially apply to you if: You have multiple locations, recently underwent an expansion, or experienced a large growth surge.

#2: You’re not 100% certain you are compliant with regulations and laws related to your industry

Running a lawful business has never been more complicated. New rules and regulations are constantly being passed, and just keeping yourself and your business updated with these laws can consume most of your time and energy.

Free up your brain space and drive for the things that really matter – like launching a new line of products or expanding your clientele beyond its current base – by outsourcing this tedious task to a PEO. They’ll do the hard work for you and ensure that your business is always fully compliant with all relevant laws.

This might especially apply to you if: Your industry is high-risk and is governed by many complicated rules and regulations.

#3: You want access to a Fortune 500 benefit employee benefit package 

Small businesses sometimes have to resort to hiring less-than-ideal candidates because they don’t have access to the handsome benefits package offered by larger firms. In an employee’s market, job-hunters can afford to be choosy and might not even give your business a chance if you can’t offer an attractive package.

By using the services of a PEO, you’ll have access to a much wider pool of benefits you’d otherwise never be able to reach. This way, you can give your employees what they really deserve.

While this is true with all employee benefits, it’s especially true with regards to medical coverage. A smaller business is often stuck with less-than-ideal coverage at ridiculously high premiums.

This might especially apply to you if: You are a smaller company but have exorbitantly high premiums and/or deductibles. 

#4: You’ve outgrown your current administrative system but don’t yet have the financial resources to build an internal HR department

Your business used to run perfectly well with its current administrative practice, but now it’s outgrown itself. You might be entertaining the thought of building an internal HR department and are wondering what this might run you in costs.

While the exact price tag varies with need, establishing an HR department is always time-consuming and relatively expensive. It can mean recruiting and hiring an HR director, using the services of a payroll company, and paying host of cost and fees that can be incurred by doing your HR in-house – all of which can total up to $200,000!

Do you stick with the system you have in place even though it’s not working too well or drop a ton of money on establishing an HR department?

You might think you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, but there’s a simple solution: Hire a PEO! You’ll outsource all of your HR and you’ll have a greater depth and breadth of services at a reasonable price.

This might especially apply to you if: You’ve already experienced the fallout of administrative practices that aren’t sufficient for your current level of growth.

#5: You recently acquired a company

Acquiring another company is an exciting step for growing businesses and opens a plethora of new opportunities. Unfortunately, though, this process often leads to the realization that the current HR process was undermanaged or insufficient for the business’s needs. This can present a significant risk to acquirers, particularly in a stock purchase. You don’t want to end up losing out on the acquisition because of faulty administrative practices. By using a PEO, your HR will be handled efficiently and competently, removing all the employer risk inherent in an acquisition.

This might especially apply to you if: Your administrative process was already floundering prior to the acquisition. 

#6: You’ve just lost a long-time employee who handled all aspects of HR

Every business owner likes to think their best employees will stick around forever, but this is hardly true. Employees leave their places of work all the time – even ones they’ve worked in for decades. If you have an employee you depend on to manage HR, you might be lost if this worker leaves your company. It’s best to have a PEO working together with your employee so that you’re not up a creek if this key worker leaves.

If the inevitable happens and you did not employ the services of a PEO before it did, it’s not too late to start now. A PEO can swoop in and save the day when you feel like you’re completely lost without your key employee managing HR.

This might especially apply to you if: You’ve never played any part in the HR department at your business.

#7: Your industry has higher Workers Comp exposure causing higher workers comp rates and premium

Every business does it best to keep its employees safe, but understandably some work environments provide higher risk to their employees than others. When you are in an industry that has higher risks to your employees, the cost of your workers comp insurance can be quite high.

Because PEO’s are shopping for this insurance in higher quantities they can provide better rates on workers comp insurance plans. And since the company partnering with the PEO can often take on the EMR (Experience Modification Rate) of the PEO, even those companies with high EMRs can benefit from the PEOs lower rate.  In addition, PEOs can provide safety compliance guidance, improving your environment’s risk factors and your personal EMR to qualify your business for lower rates even if taking on the PEOs EMR is not an option.  So essentially a PEO can both make your business a safer place to work and save you money on workers comp insurance. Now what’s not to love about that?

This might especially apply to you if: You are in the construction or manufacturing industries which have high risk environments.

Okay, you have to admit it, at least 2 or 3 of those signs apply to you. If that’s the case, you definitely can benefit from a PEO.

Still not convinced? Contact ARC Consultants today so that they can determine if a PEO is right for you and if so, which PEO is the right partner for your exact business! Now, that’s something to cheer about! Happy New Year to all!  Wishing you a stress-less and successful new year.

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 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.

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.

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

By: Shraga Jacobowitz

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

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.

Will TrumpCare trump the need for PEO’s?

By: Shraga Jacobowitz

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.