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Monday, 16 January 2023 10:22

What are Voluntary Benefits?

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Employers typically offer basic benefits packages to all full-time employees. Beyond these basic benefits, however, some companies allow their employees to opt in to some additional benefits, known as voluntary benefits. There are many examples, but some of the most common voluntary benefits include life insurance, gym memberships (or discounts), and vision or dental insurance.

Why Offer Voluntary Benefits?

Offering voluntary benefits can be a win-win, providing advantages to employer and employee alike. Consider some of the reasons why voluntary benefits can be so beneficial.

  • Voluntary benefits demonstrate a commitment to workplace wellness. Even if some employees choose not to volunteer for, say, a discounted gym membership, offering it is one way to make good on your promise of a health-conscious company culture. And when employees do opt in, they tend to be healthier, happier, and more energetic in the workplace.
  • Voluntary benefits can increase job satisfaction. Offering voluntary benefits is an important way to show employees that you value them, which can in turn increase employee loyalty. Certainly, offering benefits like financial counseling or gym memberships demonstrates a holistic view of the employee; it shows that you really see them as people, not just corporate assets.
  • Voluntary benefits can help you attract top talent. Looking for a competitive edge in the labor market? Provide optional benefits that can help employees bridge insurance gaps, meet personal and professional goals, or reduce their level of stress. Such benefits can really help make your company stand apart.
  • Voluntary benefits make financial sense. It’s typical for employees to pay for their voluntary benefits, either in part or in full, which means a manageable financial burden for the employer. But because they are paid for with pre-tax income, it also yields financial savings for employees. Again, voluntary benefits can be structured as real win-wins!

What Types of Voluntary Benefits Should Your Company Offer?

There are a number of ways to assess which voluntary benefits would be most useful for your employee base, but our recommendation is to go directly to your workers to ask them what they’d like to see. Employee surveys can be invaluable here.

Some types of voluntary benefits to consider include:

  • Life insurance
  • Critical illness insurance
  • Vision insurance
  • Dental insurance
  • Pet insurance
  • Identity theft protection
  • Financial counseling
  • Gym memberships

Get Started with a Voluntary Benefits Offering

Ready to add voluntary benefits to your basic package? We’d love to walk you through some options, and to help you develop some ideas that will help you reach your HR goals. Reach out to FullHR whenever you’re ready to chat.

Friday, 02 December 2022 14:59

Does Your Small Business Need an HR Department?

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A well-run HR department can fulfill many different business needs: Ensuring compliance with labor laws, recruiting and onboarding new employees, managing compensation and benefits, and prioritizing employee engagement, as just a few examples. Most large enterprises have in-house HR teams that serve as a backbone for the entire organization, defining and sustaining the company’s culture and values.

For smaller businesses, the need for an HR department may seem a little more nebulous. While HR teams can undeniably add value, they also bring their own sets of expenses. For example, FullHR’s internal research shows that a senior-level HR professional may cost over $225,000 annually, once you factor in salary, benefits, and employer taxes. That’s a tall order for smaller companies working from modest budgets.

What Does HR Actually Do?

In determining whether your small business should develop its own in-house HR team, a good starting point is to define exactly what HR does. Ideally, a team of HR employees (or even a single HR generalist) could add value in a number of ways, including:

  • Ensuring compliance with local, state, and federal labor laws, potentially shielding the business from major penalties or lawsuits.
  • Building a robust team through effective recruitment, hiring, and onboarding policies.
  • Supporting the professional development of all team members.
  • Managing compensation, benefits, and payroll.
  • Handling performance reviews.
  • Writing and updating the employee handbook.
  • Working to build a strong, positive company culture.

At the outset of a small business, the entrepreneur may handle all or most of these tasks on their own. As the company grows, however, it may make more sense to delegate some of these tasks to someone with an HR background, both to ensure these tasks are done with precision and to free the business owner’s time for strategy, vision, and other value-adding tasks.

When is it Time to Delegate HR?

So, when is it appropriate for the business owner to hand over the keys to the HR department? There’s no hard-and-fast rule here, but most HR professionals say that a company should have its own internal HR department once it passes 10 employees.

There may be merit to starting an HR team even sooner. This is true if the executive’s time is especially valuable, and if he or she needs to be putting in as much time as possible designing products or steering the company.

It may also make sense to launch an HR team as a way to invest in employee retention. Studies show that employees are quite a bit more likely to stay engaged with a company long-term if they feel like there’s someone at the organization who listens to them and takes their concerns seriously, something a good HR professional can do. To retain top talent, HR services can be critical.

Another Way: Outsourced HR

There’s also a middle-ground between having an expensive HR team and simply having the business owner do everything… and that’s outsourcing HR as needed.

Outsourcing to an agency like FullHR can allow you to fulfill all of your core HR tasks as needed, and in a way that’s scalable and sustainable. Plus, it’s a more cost-effective model than paying salary-plus-benefits for an in-house HR specialist.

We’d love to tell you more. Reach out to FullHR to explore outsourced HR options for your small business.

Tuesday, 15 November 2022 10:05

Reducing Stigma Surrounding Workers’ Mental Health

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Ever since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health concerns have loomed large. Business leaders and HR directors have been increasingly attuned to the realities of depression, anxiety, and trauma, all of which can have a silent yet profound effect on employees.

The catch-22 of mental health in the workplace is that these issues plague many of us; and yet, there remains a reluctance to speak openly about these shared experiences. Indeed, for HR departments that wish to support their employees’ mental wellbeing, one of the big challenges is overcoming the pervasive sense of stigma.

The Stigma Surrounding Mental Health Concerns

The statistics paint a troubling picture: Many mental health disorders go unaddressed because people are just too ashamed to talk about them. As such, they suffer quietly, never talking with their employer or HR manager, let alone a qualified mental health professional.

Consider: The nonprofit organization Mental Health America recently conducted a survey in which two thirds of employees said their company’s leadership fails to speak clearly and candidly about mental health in the workplace. In the same survey, just over a third of employees said they would feel comfortable asking their manager or supervisor for a mental health accommodation.

The bottom line? Stigma looms large in the American workplace, and results in far too many mental health concerns going unaddressed. The question is, what can HR do about it?

Emphasizing Approachability

There are actually some simple steps leaders can take to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health concerns.

One step is to make a casual check-in. As you talk with employees at meetings, daily huddles, or one-on-ones, don’t settle for idle small talk. Be intentional about asking if anyone has faced any workplace stress or anxiety lately. Gather feedback and create an environment in which employees feel comfortable talking frankly about their struggles. These conversations can be great starting points to express your concern, or to relate some of your own mental health challenges.

Simply put, talking openly about mental health struggles can normalize vulnerability and candor. It can slowly lead to more in-depth conversations. It’s also helpful when employees hear respected or senior-level employees discussing their mental health struggles, making it clear that these struggles don’t have to impact professional success or career advancement.

Finally, make sure there are resources available to employees who need them. Supply managers and supervisors with brochures, websites, phone numbers, or any other supportive materials they can offer to employees who articulate mental health hardships.

These are just a few of the ways in which HR teams can play an important role in breaking down stigma, and in creating workplaces that are more supportive of employees facing anxiety, depression, or trauma. With any additional questions, reach out to FullHR today.

Business owners and human resources departments should always be alert to news and happenings from the Department of Labor, especially when it involves potential penalties or fees levied over regulatory violations. As a case in point: The DOL recently announced a steep increase to its labor law posting penalties. What this means, in brief, is that employers who fail to post the required signage may face penalties as high as $38,000.

And that’s actually just the tip of the iceberg. The DOL can impose federal penalties, but there may also be state or municipal penalties for any employer that fails to provide employees with clear and up-to-date information about their employee rights.

The New Penalties

Employers have long been expected to comply with labor laws concerning employee rights and information, putting up posters or signs in areas such as the employee break room, where all team members can read up on their government-backed rights.

What’s changed is simply the severity of the penalties that the DOL is levying. The new maximum penalties include:

  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): $189
  • Equal Employment Opportunity is the Law (EEO) $612
  • Job Safety and Health: It’s the Law (OSHA): $14,502
  • Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA): $23,011

Needless to say, these are some potentially crippling financial burdens, particularly over infringements that may seem relatively minor. Take it as a sign of just how serious the DOL is about keeping all employees well-informed about their rights.

Avoiding Penalties

There is a simple way to avoid incurring these penalties, and that’s to make sure you have the current labor law posters displayed with prominence. You might even send out an email to your team members, or mention at your next town hall meeting or huddle that there are new posters for employees to review.

Employers here in the State of North Carolina will want to attend to the posters highlighted above, but also a few additional posters that our state requires:

  • Minimum Wage
  • OSHA
  • Unemployment Insurance
  • Workers' Compensation

Finally, keep in mind that a good HR partner can help you maintain compliance and avoid even the barest risk of penalty. FullHR is diligent about sending updated posters to all of our full-service clients. To find out more, we welcome you to contact us directly.

It’s important for your company to have a workers’ comp program in place. With that said, developing a program is really just the first step. It’s equally important to communicate the specifics of that program to your employees, ensuring that everyone on your team understands how the program works and how it protects their interests.

Specifically, your employees need to know what steps to take if they become injured on the job. And, they need to know that the company will do right by them (assuming realistic expectations, of course).

You can’t just assume that everyone in the company understands what workers’ comp is, nor that they will intuit the particulars of your program. Instead, HR must be clear and consistent in its communication efforts.

Strategies to Communicate About Workers’ Comp

There are a number of strategies that HR should consider here. A few suggestions:

1) Brochure

It’s worth taking some time to develop a brochure, which can be made ready to all employees. This brochure should strike a positive tone, emphasizing that the workers’ comp program exists to take care of employees should they get hurt on the job. Communicate briefly about how the program works, and how employees can seek further information as needed.

2) Wallet Card

Brochures are helpful, but keep in mind that, if an employee does get injured on the job, they will likely forget much of what they learned from that brochure. A handy wallet card can keep key details within arm’s reach. Employee wallet cards should specify:

  • How to report a claim
  • How and where to get medical care
  • Expectations with regard to weekly workers’ comp meetings

3) Phone Call

We also recommend making a phone call to any employee who is injured. This call should come from HR, or from a manager/supervisor with whom the employee has a positive relationship. The call can be brief, but should convey the following information:

  • We’re sorry that this happened.
  • We want you to be back at work as soon as you are able.
  • We’re here to help.
  • We care about your wellbeing.
  • We can contact your family, or bring anything you left at work, as needed.
  • We are here to answer any questions about the workers’ comp process.

4) Get-Well Card

To emphasize how much you care for the injured employee, send a simple get-well card. Try to have it signed by as many team members as possible.

5) Weekly Follow-Ups

Finally, make sure you stay in contact with the injured employee. Reach out on a weekly basis just to check in and see if there are any workers’ comp questions you can answer.

Emphasize Communication

Communication is a critical component of HR’s job, particularly when it comes to worker’s comp. With any questions about developing the best workers’ comp strategies, reach out to FullHR today.

Tuesday, 16 August 2022 09:24

Assessing Your General Liability Needs

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General liability insurance is one of the most effective tools for shielding your small business against unnecessary risk. To put it most succinctly, a general liability policy will protect your business against any claims of injury or physical harm that occur on your property. In addition, a general liability policy can sometimes help offset certain legal costs or medical expenses.

While we recommend general liability insurance for virtually all businesses, there’s one question that warrants closer consideration: Exactly what level of coverage does a business require?

No Cookie-Cutter Answers

The short answer: It all depends. All businesses are different, and all businesses encounter different hurdles and obstacles. You can’t predict every bump in the road that your business will experience, but you can still make a smart assessment of how much general liability coverage your company needs.

To take stock of your insurance needs, start by answering these questions about your company:

  • What type of business do you have?
  • How big is the business?
  • How many employees?
  • Where is your business physically located?
  • Who are your customers?
  • What level of training/experience do your employees possess?

Answering these questions can be a good way to size up your business risk; and of course, the more risk you take on, the more general liability coverage you’ll want. With that said, it’s also important to keep in mind that businesses grow and change. As your business expands, evolves, or branches out, you may need an insurance policy with broader reach.

What’s the Average Policy Limit?

Just to provide a general rule of thumb, most small businesses have a general liability policy limit of at least $1 million, with some companies opting for coverage of $2 million or more. Again, all businesses are different, and there aren’t any cookie-cutter solutions. But if you’re unsure of how much coverage to invest in, this is the ballpark you should probably be in.

Talk to a Licensed Agent

General liability insurance is an important way to protect your small business. If you’re underinsured, or don’t have any coverage at all, we invite you to call us. We’d love to walk you through policy options that fit your business’ specific needs. Reach out to FullHR at your next opportunity.

Wednesday, 03 August 2022 15:52

Common Questions About Workers’ Comp Insurance

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As you seek optimal insurance protection for your small business, it’s important to have a good working knowledge of how different policies work. In particular, small business owners should understand both the benefits and limitations of workers’ compensation insurance, and the relevant state laws.

 

At FullHR, we hear a number of common questions about workers’ comp. Here are a few of the most frequently asked, along with some brief answers.

Workers’ Comp FAQ

What is workers’ comp?

Essentially, workers’ compensation insurance protects the business, along with their employees, in the event that an employee becomes sick or injured on the job.

What’s covered in a typical workers’ comp policy?

While the details may vary policy by policy, most workers’ compensation policies will cover medical expenses, lost wages, and ongoing care costs for any employee who is injured on the job or becomes ill as a direct result of their job. Additionally, many workers’ compensation policies will cover funeral expenses for employees who die as the result of a workplace injury. Finally, policies may cover legal expenses for employers who face litigation as a result of a workplace accident or injury.

What’s not covered in a typical workers’ comp policy?

Any time you get an insurance policy, it’s always a good idea to review the terms carefully, assessing what is and isn’t covered. Again, the specifics can vary by policy, but most workers’ comp policies will not cover:

  • Injuries that an employee incurs after starting a fight with another employee.
  • Injuries that result because the employee was intoxicated in the workplace.
  • Injuries that an employee gets intentionally.

What should an employee do after getting injured on the job?

Any employee who is injured in the workplace should immediately report it to their supervisor. The supervisor must then generate a report, including details such as the date and time of the accident or injury. Different states have different criteria for when injuries must be reported, but sooner is always better.

For job-related illnesses, it’s best to report as soon as an official diagnosis is obtained.

If an employee receives workers’ comp benefits, are they eligible for other types of benefits?

Employees who are receiving workers’ comp benefits are not automatically ineligible for things like Social Security, unemployment, and disability benefits. However, it is always best to check with the company’s HR or benefits team to ensure that workers’ comp claims will not adversely affect other forms of compensation.

Are companies required to have workers’ comp?

In most states, businesses with one or more employees are legally mandated to carry a workers’ comp policy. Texas is the one notable exception.

More Questions About Workers’ Comp?

We’re always happy to answer questions that business owners have about their insurance provisions. Reach out to FullHR any time you’d like to talk about the specifics of workers’ compensation.

Any time you launch a business, you open yourself up to risk. Fortunately, there are some simple and effective ways for businesses to mitigate risk. One of the most important solutions is to shore up your insurance coverage.

This can prove easier said than done because all businesses are different, and insurance needs can vary. Rather than seek one-size-fits-all coverage, it’s important to speak with a broker who can guide you toward the most effective insurance solutions to address your business needs.

As you start thinking about different types of coverage, here are some of the most common policies for small and medium-sized businesses.

Common Types of Insurance for Small and Mid-Sized Businesses

Professional Liability Insurance

Professional liability insurance, also known as errors and omissions (E&O) coverage, will protect your business against any claims that your product or service caused somebody harm. Professional liability will also protect you against claims that you injured someone through a mistake that you made, or through failing to perform a certain type of service.

Property Insurance

Businesses almost always need property insurance, regardless of whether they own or lease their space. Property insurance can cover damage to things like signage, equipment, etc.

Worker’s Compensation Insurance

If you have employees, then you probably want to consider worker’s comp insurance. These policies protect you in the event that a worker becomes injured on the job. Worker’s compensation insurance can help defray costs related to medical treatments, legal expenses, or even funeral expenses.

Home-Based Business Insurance

It’s increasingly common for entrepreneurs to set up shop in an attic, basement, or garage. If you run a business from your home, be aware that your work materials probably won’t be covered under your normal homeowners insurance policy. A home-based business insurance policy may be needed.

Vehicle Insurance

There are a couple of reasons why you may wish to invest in vehicle insurance for your business. One, it can be useful if you have employees who operate their personal vehicles for business activities. And two, it can provide protection for any company-owned vehicles that you have.

Business Interruption Insurance

During COVID-19, many businesses had to suspend their normal operations for a short time, resulting in lost revenues and productivity. Business interruption insurance can offer protections for such losses… not just due to pandemics, but also things like road closures, natural disasters, and more.

Product Liability Insurance

No matter how good your product is, there’s always a chance that it could cause some kind of unintentional damage to a consumer’s property, or even to their person. Product liability insurance can be an important protection.

Learn More About Insurance Options

What types of insurance do you need to verify that your company is adequately protected? The best way to find out is by speaking with an experienced broker. Feel free to contact our FullHR team whenever you’d like to chat about your company’s insurance needs.

Monday, 16 May 2022 11:47

Is General Liability Insurance Mandatory?

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As you consider insurance coverage for your small or mid-sized business, it’s important to be aware of which types of coverage are mandatory and which aren’t. At the same time, it’s vital to note that, even if you aren’t legally required to carry a certain type of policy, having more extensive coverage can nevertheless be a benefit to your company.

A good case in point is general liability insurance. In this post, we’ll define what this coverage is, and offer some guidelines on if and when it’s necessary.

What is General Liability Insurance?

General liability insurance protects your business in the event that a client or customer claims property damage or physical injury, specifically as the result of your product, service, or professional environment.

Without general liability insurance, your business may be on the hook to pay any damages, replacement costs, or medical expenses that customers incur as a result of your product or service.

General liability insurance provides businesses with an important safety net, allowing them to cover legal fees or settlements that result from a liability suit.

Is General Liability Insurance Required By Law?

While general liability insurance is usually not required by law, there may be situations in which an accrediting body, lessor, client, or licensing board requires a certain level of coverage. Businesses should be aware of these situations.

Also be aware of some potential exceptions, scenarios in which the law actually does mandate general liability coverage. For example, there are some states in which general liability insurance is required for construction contractors and developers.

Some other situations in which general liability insurance may be necessary include:

  • In most states, real estate agents need general liability insurance in order to maintain their license. The same can be true for other professions that require professional licensure at the state level, such as accountancy and dentistry.
  • If a larger company hires you as their subcontractor, or to serve as the vendor for a large-scale project, you may be required to show proof of general liability coverage.
  • In some situations, you may need general liability coverage in order to apply for a lease, whether for commercial retail space or just office space.

Consider the Advantages of General Liability Insurance

Even if you’re not required by law or by an accrediting agency to have general liability coverage, doing so can be a signal to customers and partners alike that you are trustworthy and dependable. As such, it’s something that we recommend to a majority of our business clients.

Questions about general liability? We’re happy to chat. Reach out to FullHR at any time.

At any place of business, workers may become sick or injured, resulting in significant medical expenses as well as lost wages. Workers’ compensation insurance helps to cover these costs, making it beneficial for business owners and employees alike.

It’s not just that workers’ compensation insurance is beneficial; for a majority of small and medium-sized businesses, it’s actually required. While workers’ comp laws vary a bit from one state to the next, a majority of businesses are mandated to have workers’ compensation insurance in place from the moment they hire their first employee.

The Benefits of Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Even if your company isn’t mandated to have workers’ compensation insurance, it can nevertheless be a smart investment. There are a number of reasons for this:

Workers’ Comp Provides Financial Protection

Accidents can happen in any workplace; employees may develop medical conditions ranging from carpal tunnel to broken legs. Frankly, most small and mid-sized businesses don’t have the financial leeway to pay for medical expenses out of pocket, which means that even a minor accident can have devastating financial consequences. Workers’ compensation insurance provides an important safety net, and a layer of protection.

Workers’ Comp May Provide Legal Protection

This is something that can vary from state to state, but in most places a workers’ comp policy will include employer liability insurance. What this means is that the business is protected against employees filing a suit against them, specifically suits alleging negligence or unsafe work conditions. Again, a workers’ comp policy can shield the business from financial calamity, in many cases covering attorney fees, court costs, and more.

Workers’ Comp Often Involves Death Benefits

For businesses, nothing could be more tragic than an employee who dies on the job. Workers’ comp insurance provides a very small silver lining to this unthinkable outcome; most of the time, workers’ comp insurance offers death benefits, helping the deceased employee’s family to pay for funeral and burial expenses.

Does Your Business Need Workers’ Comp Insurance?

Currently, Texas and South Dakota are the only two states in which companies are never required to buy workers’ comp. Many states require companies to buy workers’ comp insurance the moment they hire an employee, while some states require workers’ comp insurance only after two or three employees are hired.

It’s worth checking the specific guidelines for your state, but also to keep in mind that workers’ comp insurance is highly beneficial, whether it’s mandatory or not. With any questions about affordable workers’ comp insurance for your small or medium-sized business, contact FullHR today.

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