Guideline for Creating an Employee Benefits Program - Part 1: Benefits That Cost

Wednesday, January 14 at 10:40 AM
Category: Personal Finance

Your total compensation plan must serve to attract, retain and motivate your employees. Wages and other forms of compensation that cost your company money will be the largest component. Together with the work environment, your benefit program may be the difference between having an effective, steady work force or a group of dissatisfied employees you are constantly replacing.

Why do employees choose to work for your business?
Financial rewards are an important part of the total benefits an employee receives. Yet, an employee’s decision to work for your company is probably based on additional factors, many of which you can control. In addition, there are some things that can increase employee satisfaction that do not cost additional money. The key is to make sure the total compensation an employee receives is adequate, known and appreciated.

Benefits that cost money
Along with wages, company contributions to a retirement plan and company-paid insurance are usually the most expensive parts of "total compensation." If your company has a qualified retirement plan, make sure the type you offer is economically effective. By that, make sure your employees are fully aware of it and recognize your contributions to it are part of what they get for working. You may also want to review other types of plans, such as SEPs, Simple IRAs and 401(k) options.

If you offer company-paid insurance plans, again make sure employees recognize you are paying for some or all of it. If insurance costs rise, you may want to consider having employees pay some portion of the cost. This can be effective if there are choices of health insurance plan options (deductibles and copays) that have varying costs.

Types of benefits to consider offering:

  • Retirement plans
  • Medical insurance
  • Disability and supplemental life insurance
  • Flexible spending accounts
  • Education reimbursement programs
  • Vacation and days-off policies

Summary
Employee benefits are important. Creating a program doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. The trend is for more flexibility for employees to choose what is important to them and for employees to share in the total cost.  While most recruiting conversations center on salary levels, ongoing employee satisfaction is greatly influenced by what comes with the paycheck. 

Tags: Arvest Biz, Business Banking, Managing Employees
 

Creating and Using an Employee Benefits Policy

Wednesday, January 22 at 08:10 AM
Category: Business Banking

Many small business owners claim their greatest challenges are attracting, retaining and motivating their employees. Do you relate? As a business owner, it is essential to keep turnover low and productivity high. And while few, if any, employees will work without being paid a fair wage, the total benefit package is often the key element in an employee’s decision to work for your company. Salary levels are only one part of the overall package.

Why do employees choose to work for your business?
Financial rewards are an important part of the total benefits an employee receives. Yet, an employee’s decision to work for your company is probably based on additional factors, many of which you can control. In addition, there are some things that can increase the satisfaction an employee enjoys that does not cost additional money. The key is to make sure the total compensation an employee receives is adequate, is known and is appreciated.

Benefits that cost money
Along with wages, company contributions to a retirement plan and company paid insurance are usually the most expensive parts of "total compensation." If your company has a qualified retirement plan, make sure the type you offer is effective. This means you should make sure your employees are fully aware of its benefits and recognize your contributions to it are part of what they get for working. You may also want to review other types of plans with your employees, such as SEPs, Simple IRAs and 401(k) options.

If you offer company paid insurance plans, again make sure employees recognize you are paying for some or all of it. If insurance costs rise, you may want to consider having employees pay some portion of the cost. This can be effective by offering choices of health insurance plan options (deductibles and co-pays) with varying costs.

Benefits that cost little or no money
The work environment and the personal satisfaction an employee gets are also important parts of the total compensation an employee receives. No one likes to spend time in an environment that is emotionally uncomfortable.

Here are some ideas that can help boost employee satisfaction:

  1. Make sure the work is meaningful. Even if it is boring and repetitive, make sure the employees know their efforts are needed and appreciated. No one likes to think they just spent eight hours doing something useless that no one cares about.
  2. Provide ways for employees to learn. This doesn't have to be paying for an outside class. Perhaps there are tasks that can be switched with other employees. Such a switch will give two people the opportunity to learn something new, and you will have some backup if one of the two gets sick or quits.
  3. Empower employees to make decisions. Most individuals will make the right decisions if they have an understanding of the issues and have some guidelines.  Also, by letting employees make decisions, managers’ time is available for other tasks.
  4. Let employees know what is expected of them and how they are doing. Performance reviews are essential. Every employee should receive a formal review at least annually.
  5. Make it a point to recognize employees when they have done an especially good job. Bonuses are nice, but compliments are meaningful. Have you ever noticed plaques for "Employees of the Month" in many businesses? Some businesses even provide special parking spots for "Employees of the Month." Regardless of how employees are recognized, the acknowledgement of their hard work will encourage employee morale.
  6. Provide some flexibility. Everyone is busy and unexpected things do arise. If possible, allow your employees to tend to important personal matters. It may come back to you, many times over, when you need something extra from them.

Arvest Asset Management provides a wide-array of retirement plans to protect and prepare you, your business and your employees for the road that lies ahead. For the services we don’t offer, we’ll gladly refer to you to some of the best in the industry that do. Contact the AAM Employee Benefits Department at (479) 621-1853 to learn about our services.

The views of this article are for general information use only. Please contact and speak with a subject expert when specific advice is needed. Investment products and services are provided by Arvest Investments, Inc., doing business as Arvest Asset Management, member FINRA/SIPC, an SEC registered investment adviser and a subsidiary of Arvest Bank. Trust services provided by Arvest Bank. Insurance products are made available through Arvest Insurance, Inc., which is registered as an insurance agency. Insurance products are marketed through Arvest Insurance, Inc., but are underwritten by insurance companies.

 

Tags: Arvest Biz, Business Banking, Managing Employees
 

Exercise to Build a Strong Team

Friday, January 03 at 08:45 AM
Category: Business Banking

There are many different kinds of office team building exercises that can be used to help improve your company's internal communications, morale, trust, and cohesiveness. Team building exercises are undertaken in a spirit of fun, but also play an important role in strengthening your ability to function as a unit.

Team building exercises can be used occasionally, such as to augment your annual general meeting, or on a more regular basis to help maintain productivity. They can also be used as a form of crisis management, such as to help address fears during a period of change, or as a response to a need for radical restructuring in order to meet the challenge of a new competitor. Team building is useful for introducing new employees, strengthening ties between existing staff, or as a fun way to bring together individuals who don't often interact.

Having the members of your team work together in any endeavor that takes them out of the ordinary office realm can be an interesting exercise in communication and cooperation. To facilitate this, consultants often organize activities that use arts, sports, games or any structured form of interacting that requires teamwork. In some cases this creates a visible or otherwise tangible example of what you can accomplish together. For example, each person playing a percussion instrument that all together creates a piece of music; linking arms to create a chain that demonstrates the importance of each individual link, and so on. In other cases, the activity requires brainstorming and the combined effort of all to solve a problem.

The dual purpose of having fun and learning together makes for a day that is relaxing and enjoyable itself, as well as providing lasting results as you develop your skills as a team. A large amount of research has gone into the development of specialized programs, books and services that can help your company achieve its productivity goals and improve employee relations. The wide variety of creative solutions offered includes everything from cooking together, to outdoor adventures, scavenger hunts to simulations of extreme sports. Take some time to explore the possibilities and find new ways to enhance your office environment.

Browsing the websites of consultants is a good place to start to find some fun ideas you can implement yourself, or with the help of a professional. Most programs are designed for maximum flexibility and can be tailored to meet the needs of almost any group, large or small. Incorporate some creative team building into your next boardroom meeting, or be extra adventurous and arrange for some outdoor activity. The return on investment is not something to take lightly. The benefits of maintaining an enjoyable work atmosphere includes improved mental and physical health, higher productivity and more. Find out what the right team building exercises can do for you.

The views of this article are for general information use only. Please contact and speak with a subject expert when specific advice is needed. Find articles like this and much more in the online Arvest Biz Center.

Tags: Arvest Biz, Business Banking, Managing Employees
 

Arvest Bank Announces New Online Payroll Service

Wednesday, April 10 at 10:15 AM
Category: Business Banking

Arvest Bank is now offering small business customers a new online payroll service which helps subscribers handle payroll processing. The service includes calculating employee wages and deductions, as well as deducting, depositing and filing federal, state and local taxes, among other features.

LOWELL, Ark. -- Arvest Bank today announced it is offering its small business customers a complete online payroll service through an agreement with SurePayroll, Inc.,* a Paychex company. The service is available through ArvestBiz.com, Arvest’s online resource for small businesses.

Arvest’s Business Online Payroll focuses exclusively on online payroll processing for small businesses. Business Online Payroll helps subscribers to this service handle all aspects of payroll processing, including calculating employee wages and deductions, as well as deducting, depositing and filing all federal, state and local taxes. Business Online Payroll tracks employee benefits, and subscribers can pay employees either by direct deposit or by check.  The service also provides comprehensive online reports that are readily accessible to small business owners and helps to prevent IRS penalties and handle IRS notices. 

For any small business, the time and logistics of payroll administration can be a great challenge. Payroll is a critical process, as it is essential for companies to pay their employees correctly and in timely fashion in order to retain them and ultimately, run their business. Managing payroll means keeping up with additional regulatory and compliance issues. If small business owners find themselves dedicating more time than they can afford to managing payroll, it may be time to consider a payroll service that will help make payroll a simple and streamlined process. 

“Payroll can be an overwhelming task for small business owners, especially when you start thinking about all the taxes and compliance issues that go along with it,” said Susan Craig, Arvest Bank director of Treasury Management. “We always want to provide our business customers with the resources they need to operate effectively and meet their goals. Our new Business Online Payroll is another tool our customers can utilize in order to do that.”

So, how exactly does Arvest’s Online Business Payroll work? This service provides Arvest Bank customers the ability to handle their payroll in-house, and it can be integrated with current customers' online banking information so all their accounts and payroll information are available to them in one place. The service costs only $54.99 per month for business with up to ten employees; there is an additional cost of $1.50 per month for each employee over ten.

For more information on Business Online Payroll, visit www.ArvestBiz.com.

The views of this article are for general information use only. Please contact and speak with a subject expert or your banker when specific advice is needed. Find articles like this and much more in the online Arvest Biz Center. Links marked with * go to a third-party site not operated or endorsed by Arvest Bank, an FDIC-insured institution.

Tags: Arvest Biz, Business Banking, Cash Management, Managing Employees
 

Has Your Staff Hit the Productivity Wall?

Thursday, December 20 at 07:00 AM
Category: Business Banking
To survive lean times, business owners find themselves needing to tighten staff, expecting employees to accomplish more with fewer people. In a recent survey of human resources professionals, 8 out of 10 respondents reported that their companies had increased workloads compared with before the recession.*
 
The good news: Productivity continues to increase in the U.S. largely due to technology advances and employers’ reluctance to hire. The bad news: Reluctance to hire results in a larger burden on existing staff and can lead to workplace burnout – and, potentially, decline in productivity. 
 
The Tipping Point 
Identifying the tipping point when there is simply too much work for current employees and productivity starts to fall off is key to maintaining a healthy and secure workplace. Here are some signs that your staff may be hitting their productivity wall:
  • Costly errors begin to happen. If the frequency of errors is increasing and mistakes are becoming more serious, that could mean your employees are cutting corners to get things done or that they do not have adequate time to follow important quality control steps. They may also only have time to put out the immediate fires of each day rather than come up with long-term solutions and effective processes that can improve productivity. 
  • Employee engagement drops. There may be less camaraderie among employees because they can’t afford to leave their desks or work stations. They tend to cocoon and isolate themselves from others. Morale, the sharing of ideas and best practices, and teamwork all suffer.
  • More health issues and sick time reported. When employees are strained to their limits and struggle to keep up with increasing workloads, they may feel like they are failing their employer, co-workers and families. This stress often leads to serious, long-term health issues. They may neglect their own health by exercising less and adopt unhealthy habits to cope with increased pressures, such as eating poorly or too much, drinking or falling into other addictive behaviors. 
  • Clients begin to complain of poor service. Once internal employee stress is apparent to your clients or customers, your staff is definitely beyond the tipping point. This is especially true if your company is a service business that relies on strong client relationships. You may need to step back from less valuable clients in order to allow your employees to give more time and attention to your company’s pivotal ones. 
 
Don’t Risk Future Growth
In the long run, having to replace valuable employees who may choose to look elsewhere in an improving job market is more expensive than adding the staff necessary to balance workloads now. Employers who remain too frugal may be jeopardizing future growth, corporate reputation and employee engagement. 

The views of this article are for general information use only.  Please contact and speak with a subject expert or your banker when specific advice is needed.  Find articles like this and much more in the online Arvest Biz Center
 
Tags: Arvest Biz, Business Banking, Managing Employees

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