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Why Companies Need Corporate Wellness Program Apps

Taking care of the wellbeing of your employees shows more than just your corporate culture, it’s also a signal that your company cares for its own future and prosperity. More and more companies include different wellness programs in order to enhance the health status of their workforce. These programs rely on various tools and activities that track and maintain the health status of the working people. Let’s take a more detailed look at all the benefits that wellness apps bring to companies.

Easier implementation of the wellness program

First and foremost, wellness apps facilitate the implementation of your wellness program. Conducting these types of programs is never easy, especially within companies that include a large number of workers or remote employees. Automation, provided by mobile and desktop apps, makes the implementation of the program much easier and brings in a few extra features that would otherwise be difficult to carry out.

Reduced Absenteeism

Absenteeism is a large issue for any company in the world. The productivity drops every time you have a person on sick leave, no matter how capable your team might be when it comes to covering for the absent co-worker. The best way to reduce the number of workers that turn in sick, is for a company todo whatever it takes to improve the well-being of its employees. Using wellness program apps within your company allows your employees to keep track of their health status, which further increases their chances of preventing any future health issues.

Keeping a high level of productivity

According to research, productivity depends, in a large measure, on the physical and mental status of your workforce. Wellness apps provide food recommendations, fitness instructions, track vital signs, all of which can reduce the chance of sickness. Workers that maintain their physical health status, feel better and more eager for work, which is essential for company productivity. Furthermore, as we already stated, even if the rest of your team is able to cover for their colleague, heavier workload and the need to perform faster leaves room for mistakes, which have to be fixed so more time gets wasted.

Apps allow wellness program improvement

Without comprehensive feedback, it’s difficult to improve a wellness program that your company implements. Apps, allow you to conduct surveys and get all sorts of analytics that could show which parts of your wellness program need improvement. It’s important for the success of your program to know which aspects don’t show desired results, which ones take too much time, and where you need to put in an extra effort to make the program work seamlessly.

Ability to create healthy dining options

There’s an old saying “we are what we eat”. Rather than suggesting that I’m a bowl of pasta, this piece of wisdom means that our mental and physical state depends on the food we place on our tables. Wellness apps allow you to create healthy dining menus and suggestions for various types of food. For instance, you can have your employees check in to see what gluten-free options they have, which vegan courses are available, or simply learn how to make a new tasty dish.

This way, your employees avoid the risk of heart diseases, cancer, digestive problems, and other health issues that both you and your workers want to avoid.

Conclusion

A company is doing well as long as the people that contribute to its success are doing well. Therefore, business owners should invest in the wellbeing of their workforce if they wish to maintain a high level of productivity. Moreover, the companies that show care for their employees build a positive image, which is important for business expansion and recruitment of talents. Wellness apps automate and simplify the implementation of your corporate wellness program, making it more efficient and reliable.

Guest Post: About the Author

Becky Holton is a journalist and a blogger at ProEssayWriting. She is interested in education technologies and is always ready to support informative speaking. Follow her on Twitter.

Looking to implement a wellness program in your corporate structure? IOU Financial can help with up to $300,000 in as little as 24 hours.

Benefits of the 401k Retirement Plan for Small Business Employers and Employees

Today’s employees are looking for more than just a salary—they want benefits. Millennials and those from Generation X, especially, are more financially invested in their future than previous generations and are committed to saving for their future.

A company that wants to both recruit top candidates and keep their valuable employees loyal should consider offering a 401k plan to their staff members. Although this is not a terribly big investment for small businesses, it can go a long way in showing that they care about their team members and their future.

What is a 401K?

401k is an employer-sponsored retirement plan, the most popular of its kind in the United States. Employees are able to defer a portion of their salaries to this retirement plan, which is used to invest in mutual funds primarily, as well as stocks and bonds.

This is a defined-contribution plan where the amount of funds the employees invest and the performance of the funds they invest in determine the balance of the account.

Although they are not obligated to do so, some employers choose to contribute to the employee’s plan, often matching the contributions up to a specific percentage.

This plan does come with certain legal limitations, such as an investment cap of $19,000 for individuals and $56,000 for joint contributions for employers and employees for 2019. Individuals who are 50 years of age or older can contribute an additional $6,000 individually and $62,000 as joint contributions.

Another limitation is the ability to withdraw funds from this plan, which is only allowed upon the age of 59 ½, when the employee changes jobs, retires, becomes disabled or passes away. Some plans allow for withdrawal of funds during a certain hardship as well. If the funds are withdrawn prior to the allowable time, the funds will be counted and taxed as ordinary income and will be charged a penalty.

The plan calls for required minimum distributions (RMDs), which are mandatory withdrawals once the account holder reaches 70 ½ years of age.

Benefits of the 401k for Employees

The 401k is qualified by the IRS, so the funds transferred are eligible for tax benefits. The advantages of the 401k for the employees include a tax break on the contributions deferred to the account as well as a reduction in taxable income.

Let’s say an employee earns $10,000 per month, and contributes 5% of that amount to the 401k plan. That monthly $500 will be transferred to the retirement account tax free, and the employee’s taxable annual income will be reduced from $120,000 to $114,000.

Benefits of the 401k for Employers

The 401k also offers tax breaks for employers for the contributions they add to their staff’s retirement plans.

In additional to the financial savings, offering an employer-sponsored retirement plan will help companies attract and retain top talent. In the current climate, where 55 million Americans do not have a retirement savings plan, and the number is larger in employees of small companies, this benefit would be a big advantage for staff members.

If you are interested in offering this benefit to your employees but need financial assistance in doing so, contact IOU Financial. We work with small business to help them finance their goals. We offer easy and fast loans of up to $300,000.

Are You Interviewing Wrong?

When a valuable employee has moved on from your organization, or there is a need for additional manpower to handle growing responsibilities, management may want to fill that position as soon as possible. However, it is imperative to give this process the time it deserves in order to hire a candidate that would fit all the criteria needed to make a valuable addition to the team.

It’s frustrating when a new hire doesn’t work out, and this can negatively affect the team’s productivity and company culture. If your department doesn’t seem to be able to hold onto new hires for a reasonable time, it’s time to consider if you may be interviewing wrong. Learning better strategies to this process will help you choose the right candidate from the get go.

Interview Mistake #1: Choosing Someone You Like

As people, we tend to gravitate towards people we like, typically those that are similar to us. You may bond with a person because they are from your hometown, or like the same sports team. While it’s important to like your colleagues, you must strive to use objective criteria instead of subjective criteria during the interview.

It may be advantageous to utilize a job screening assessment when recruiting new employees. This is a test that evaluates a potential candidate’s knowledge and skills in a specific area. Whether you choose a computer test or a paper test, the answers will give you a comprehensive view of the person’s expertise in the area, and a preview of how valuable they could be to the team.

That being said, it’s also not a good idea to hire someone when you have no gut feeling that they will work out. If a person seems rude, arrogant or simply disinterested, don’t hire them just because they aced their job assessment.

Interview Mistake #2: Not Asking for Input From Multiple People

Most employees don’t meet their new colleague until their first day on the job, which is too late for them to provide their input. Instead of single handedly selecting a new employee, utilize the peer-to-peer interviewing technique, which allows existing employees to interview potential candidates on a one-on-one-basis.

This provides several benefits to both the interviewer and the interviewee; your staff members can evaluate their potential new coworker and ask questions to see how they would fit into the team. The interviewee can use the opportunity to ask questions about the working hours, management style, and typical day on the job which they may not have been comfortable asking leadership.

Improving your interview process with simple adjustments can help you make a better decision about bringing on the right candidate. Remember to discuss the criteria most important to the team, and focus on assessing whether the individual meets those criteria.

Guest post: About the Author

Grace Ma is a Managing Director at Ex-Consultants Agency (ECA). ECA is a specialized executive search firm that focuses on placing former management consultants into project-based and full-time roles. Before joining ECA, Grace worked as an Engagement Manager at Strategy& (formerly Booz & Company) and VP of Strategy at JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Parental Leave and Small Business – How to Do What’s Best for Your Business AND Your Employees

Small business owners have come to realize that allowing employees to take parental leave is a good policy despite its costs.

It’s a great way to recruit and retain good employees, plus provides these benefits to you:

  • Employees are more likely to return to work after taking time off after having a baby
  • You have the opportunity to cross-train other employees to fill in for a person out on parental leave
  • You can train junior employees to take on new responsibilities
  • It’s an opportunity to take a fresh look at how you distribute responsibilities within your company
  • Generally, employee morale will be higher if you offer parental leave, a fact than can save you money by helping you to avoid frequent turnover

If your company has 50 or more employees, the Family and Medical Leave Act requires you to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave. Parental leave is optional for companies with fewer than 50 employees, at least from the viewpoint of federal law. However, your state might have parental leave laws that apply to you. These laws provide job protection for a specified number of weeks when parental leave is needed.

Parental leave is indeed popular – 80% of employees at small companies would take advantage of it, according to the Family and Work Institute. Of course, any paid portion of the leave will only serve to increase its popularity. An interesting statistic is that 91% of small businesses that provide paid parental leave report no noticeable effect on performance and profitability, according to ThinkGrowth.

It makes sense for your company to devise a parental leave policy that meets your needs and those of your employees. Your policy should be included in your employee handbook so that all the terms are understood by all.

The policy should spell out features like:

  • Scope: Under what circumstances can employees take parental leave – maternity, adoption, accepting a foster child, etc. – and whether it applies to both parents.
  • Benefit: How much leave time can employees take, and whether they will be expected to work from home.
  • Pay: How many leave days, if any, will be paid.
  • Notification: How far in advance must an employee request parental leave.

When an employee requests parental leave, a manager or the owner should review the employee’s duties and methods with other employees who will be filling in during the leave period. It’s important not to overload other employees, which might require the hiring of temporary workers. The review process should encourage brainstorming to see whether more efficient methods are available.

It’s a good idea to build relationships with freelancers or staffing firms so that a ready source of temporary labor is available during parental leaves. While employees appreciate the opportunity to take parental leave, they don’t want to be burned out by assuming the work of employees on leave in addition to their own workload.

Employee abuse appears to be rare. Employers should require some sort of documentation for non-obvious (i.e. other than maternity) situations. Employers can add flexibility to parental leave by allowing employees to use saved up vacation days and sick time to provide some paid time during the leave.

3 Must-Haves for Smooth Running Operations

This is an exciting time to manage a business—technological advances and new opportunities due to increased globalization lead to greater profits, innovative business models and new customer bases. However, increased competition and higher demands from customers create new challenges for managers and business owners that leave some unsure as to what goals are right for them.

One of the most vital answers to running a successful business in current times is streamlined operations. When staff is properly trained and motivated, smart systems are in place and customer demands are met—the company is headed on a positive path. To keep your operations running smoothly, make sure you focus on the following three must haves:

No Single Point of Failure

One of the most common pitfalls that stagnate growth is a single point of failure in any aspect of operations. Most companies train specific employees in different areas of the business; however, when an unforeseen emergency arises preventing them from their duties, no one else is able to take over their responsibilities.

To prevent this from occurring at your workplace, work with Human Resources to cross train your workers. Additionally, it may be advantageous to switch teams within your organization, thus allowing different team members to handle various aspects of the operations.

This practice would prevent a single point of failure and would make certain that there is always someone at the workplace that can take over for a colleague should they be unavailable for work.

Automation

Operations are always at risk for human failure, which is why automating processes with the latest technological offerings is a beneficial way to streamline this area of your business. Although automating processes usually involves a high upfront cost to purchase software, integrate it into your routines and train staff, the return on your investment (ROI) is usually significant.

Automation leads to higher productivity, reduced costs, better customer service and reduction in errors. It is important to note that even artificial intelligence and machine make errors, so designating a team to review these operations on a regular basis is imperative to running a tight ship.

Motivate Employees

Your business is nothing without its employees, and successful operations result from motivated and empowered staff. An employee who comes to work daily and gets away with minimal effort is one that is failed by management.

Create incentives to encourage your employees to work hard, be proactive and creative instead of those that are satisfied with the status quo. Maintain that with constant feedback, recognition and rewards for your highers performers—the more invested your employees are in the success of your company, the smoother your operations will be!

It’s always a good idea to invest financially into projects and strategies that will streamline your operations. IOU Financial is ready to offer financial help into your endeavour. Contact us today to inquire about our quick and easy business loans.

 

Five Tips for More Productive Meetings

Meetings are necessary at the office, but the truth is that everyone dreads them. They tend to get a bad rep for being overly long, boring and often unnecessary. You don’t have to follow the same status quo when it comes to having meetings, you can implement ways to make them more productive with these tips:

Time Meetings

It’s been found that “64% of meetings last more than an hour, with 39% of all meetings exceeding 90 minutes. With the length of these meetings, it’s no wonder that most of us cringe when we get a meeting request.

The duration of meetings don’t match with scientific evidence about our ability to concentrate before getting bored or distracted, which is anywhere between 10 and 18 minutes (fun fact, this is why Ted Talks are 18 minutes or less).

Many modern managers are limiting meetings at 15 minutes, which increases productivity as employees are more alert and able to follow along.

Create an Agenda

Some teams are so used to holding weekly meetings that they forget that it is not a necessity. To make the meeting more productive, require that the organizer create an agenda, which is distributed a few days prior to the meeting. No agenda = no meeting!

This is imperative so that everyone understands the relevancy of the meeting, and only the required employees attend instead of everyone in the department. This also lets the attendees prepare instead of being surprised during the meeting.

Stick to the Agenda

There are a lot of moving parts in an office, and it’s easy to get sidetracked. However, to optimize the meeting in the time you have, stick only to the items on the agenda.

This will structure the meeting and sidestep any unnecessary conversations, which will simply waste time. Designate a person who will be responsible for monitoring chatter, and cut off those that go off topic.

Stand Up During the Meeting

A meeting doesn’t have to be confined to a conference room with chairs. To make the meeting more efficient, require that the attendees stand up. This has several benefits—the first being that we sit too long during the day, which leads to physical and health-related issues.

The second benefit is that after a while, we get tired of standing, and we try our best to end the meeting so we can get back to our comfortable chairs.

The third advantage, and perhaps the biggest one, is that standing allows us to be more creative, energetic and collaborative than sitting.

Create an Action Plan

It’s important to discuss topics during the meeting, but don’t dismiss your employees without creating a game plan on what happens next. Otherwise, you’ll just meet next time without any progress having been made.

In addition to creating goals, distribute a follow up email after every meeting to summarize what was discuss and outline objectives with due dates so everyone is on the same page.

If you are invested in making positive changes within your company and could benefit from a small business loan, IOU Financial can help. We offer quick and hassle-free loans of up to $300,000 in 24-48 hours.

Three Creative Ways to Show Your Employees You Appreciate Them

Business owners are often so focused on correcting their employees’ mistakes that they often forget to react when they get something right. Management is not only about focusing on the negative—in fact, it should be more about boosting your staff members’ ego by celebrating the positive. It is vital for business owners to show their employees that they appreciate their time and effort. Not only will this lead to a happier corporate culture and more loyal employees, but it will create more efficient workers.

A study found that when bosses show their employees they appreciate them, the workers become more empowered and productive. Another study held up these findings, citing that 69% of staffers worked harder when they felt the appreciation from their bosses.

Creative Ways to Show Appreciation to Your Employees

Small business owners tend to feel that they can’t afford to shower their employees with gifts. However, a show of gratitude and appreciation doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. There are low cost and even free ways to show that you care.

Award Ceremony

If you love to watch the Oscars, create your own award ceremony at the office. You can find low-cost medals or awards and engrave them with the achievements of your employees. It’s up to you if you want to focus on recognizing your top players, or create an award that will honor every member of your team. Don’t forget to include everyone, such as cleaning people or delivery drivers.

You can make this fun and silly, creating awards for categories such as “Best Dressed,” “Best Work Husband,” or “Most Deserving of a Break.”

Work-Related Coupons

We’re not talking about coupons to grocery stores here, but coupons that can be redeemed by employees when they need them. They can entitle your staffers to time off, an extended lunch, the ability to come in early or leave late, or time to pitch an amazing idea they have. This won’t cost you anything, but will empower your employees to use them when they may simply need a break or a boost at the office.

Special Perks at Work

If you ever got to be principal for the day at school, you know how special it felt to get that designation, at least for a short time. To show your employees you appreciate all that they do, offer them special perks at work.

This can involve choosing an employee of the month and then allowing them to be CEO for a day. You would obviously limit their power on top level decision making, but they can decide on other things, like what to order for lunch that day, to set a casual dress day, or to create a wacky day when everyone dresses up as superheroes.

The three ideas mentioned above are fun and low-budget, but they truly do work. Oftentimes, it’s not the monetary value of the gesture, but the simple act of showing appreciation. However, if you feel that your employees are deserving of something more, such as bonuses, turn to IOU Financial for a business loan. We work with small companies to offer hassle free and fast loans of up to $300,000. Contact us today to learn more.

Retirement Planning for Small Business Owners

It’s not uncommon for business owners to consider their businesses as their retirement plans. At retirement age, the plan is to sell the business for cash, or to give the business to a family member in return for a share of future wealth. It might work out, but it’s risky, because if your business fails, your retirement plans end up in shreds. Short of bankruptcy, a troubled business would be hard to sell and bring in less money than anticipated. Many owners might face the prospect of delaying retirement until the business “picks up.”

It need not be this way. An orderly approach to retirement planning will help you provide for your later years independent of the ups and downs of your business. Here are five steps to take to save money for retirement:

Do the math:

Figure out how much money you will need for your retirement lifestyle, especially if you don’t receive a lot of money from your business. This is frequently a wake-up call to get your retirement plan moving. Check out online retirement calculators from financial service companies such as Vanguard, TIAA and Fidelity and many others. Use these resources to help you nail down future spending.

Get help:

You are probably an expert on your business, but don’t assume that extends to retirement planning. If you don’t have a solid finance background, hire a financial adviser to organize your retirement planning. It’s a good idea to use one who charges a flat fee rather than one who takes commissions on your trading. The best ones usually have an accreditation, such as Certified Financial Planner.

Begin a diversified retirement plan:

You don’t need to spend a fortune on your retirement plan, but you should make a long-term commitment to it. It will cut your current taxes and allow your money to grow tax-deferred. Here are for options that make sense for small businesses, suitable for sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies and corporations:

  1. SEP-IRA: A good choice for one-employee companies, because you must fund the plan for all employees. Its works like a traditional IRA, but in 2018 you can contribute up to 25 percent of total compensation or $55,000, whichever is less.
  2. SIMPLE IRA: A plan for owners of companies with up to 100 employees. You and your employees make pre-tax contributions directly from your paycheck. The 2018 contribution limit is $12,500, or $15,500 if you’re 50 or older.
  3. Solo 401(k): Good for self-employed. You can contribute up to 25 percent of your compensation, plus up to $18,500 ($24,500 if 50 or older) in employee contributions, for a total maximum up to $54,000 in 2018.
  4. SIMPLE 401(k): For business with 100 or fewer employees. You and your employees can contribute up to $18,500 a year. You can borrow from your account and make no-penalty withdrawals under certain circumstancees.

Invest simply:

Index funds are simple and cheap, and you will always get average performance, year after year. If you know when you are going to retire, you can buy into a target-date fund that adjusts its investments based on your age. Consider also a REIT investment.

Pay yourself first:

When business gets slow, it’s tempting to cut back on your contributions, and that might occasionally make sense. But resist the temptation if you can, your retirement will thank you for it.

Reach Employee Communication Goals With Texting

Now is a great time to assess your process and look for improvement. You can save a lot of money and time by establishing more effective communication policies for your employees. Here are five of our favorite ways to improve your company-wide communication policies this year.

  1. Prepare for Connecting with the Incoming Generations

Younger generations are showing a strong preference for texting, according to Pew Research Center and other surveys done recently. As you work to appeal to upcoming talent, you will want to expand your methods to include text messaging for recruitment. Text messages will help automate your hiring process, speed up your training sessions and allow your new employees to be more efficient and prepared for their positions.

  1. Use More Dynamic Content

Most professionals prefer less wordy emails and won’t read generic newsletters. Instead, create dynamic content to increase engagement levels. You can always text links to video content or blog posts with images to keep readers engaged. You also want to take advantage of the short nature of texting that will force you to cut the fluff and get to the point. Boost employee communication with SMS that will keep departments and teams communicating and collaborating.

  1. Empower Employee Advocacy

You want to increase your reach, brand recognition and influence, so make sure your employees are turning into advocates. Start by creating a workplace that your employees are excited about and making sure your professionals feel valuable in their jobs. Then, empower your employees by giving them access to key industry news and insight, encouraging them to share and participate in various platforms. You can use employees to help write articles in your newsletters or share their best posts to encourage more interaction. You will only have truly influential advocates if you help promote their value as a professional in their field and on your team.

  1. Increase Flexibility and On-the-Go Communication

Texting can help employees gain freedom they wouldn’t have through email and phone calls alone. Use a texting platform and company phone plans to enable your employees to do more work while they are on-the-go. Give employees as much freedom as possible to work as they can from home or while traveling, allowing for more flexible hours and scheduling. The improved work-life integration will appeal to younger generations that value flexibility and are willing to have increased interruption with working during strange hours on their devices.

  1. Speed Up Policy Changes and Strategies

Automated mass texting can really help your company get the word out about new policies and strategies. Simply send out texts to your entire team or the specific department that it will apply to in order to notify them of changing rules, training dates, industry information, deadline reminders or prompts for paperwork. Text messages are typically read within seconds, allowing your important company notifications to be distributed quickly and effectively. Emails often get lost and phone calls waste time, so use text messaging to send out these notices in a way that is sure to get the message across.

In an age of technology, don’t let your employees waste their time by worrying or gossiping – work to improve communication each year. Text messaging and great content will help you communicate in a stronger way with your employees.

Guest Post: About the Author

Joel Lee is the SEO marketing specialist at Trumpia, which earned a reputation as the most complete SMS solution including user-friendly user interface and API for mobile engagement, Smart Targeting, advanced automation, enterprise, and cross-channel features for both mass texting and landline texting use cases.

3 Steps to Creating a Strong Company Culture

Any time a group of people interact with one another on a regular basis, an individual culture forms. As such, each company has its own company culture, which can determine to a large extent the success of the organization and the satisfaction of the employees. While a culture can organically form, managers and business owners can take steps to shape a strong and positive company culture with the steps below.

The Importance of a Winning Company Culture

A company culture is “an intangible ecosystem” according to a source, which involves “the ideology of an organization.” When your company has a strong company culture, it influences a multitude of factors that can truly make or break the success of your business. Everything from more effective teamwork, productivity, employee loyalty, reduced turnover and help with attracting top talent.

Steps to Create a Strong Company Culture

The truth is that regardless of how talented and experienced your colleagues are, if you don’t have the culture to promote their attributes, they won’t be able to thrive. Follow these steps to create a company culture that develops winners:

1. Decide What Your Core Values are

A company culture should be based around the core values of the company, which are created by the business owners. Other than making a profit, what do you want to see from your employees and how do you want to shape their lives and overall society?

If you want to involve a philanthropic initiative, build your culture around that. Is your focus is more closely aligned with teamwork and productivity? Consider how to foster relationships between your staff members to promote collaboration. Do you want to be known as a company that offers the best customer experience? Put strategies into place that reflect that desire.

The fact is that a corporate culture develops best when it is based on certain beliefs and is focused on a specific course.

2. Choose the Right Colleagues

Every hiring decision needs to consider whether the candidate would make a good addition to your team. Would this person be able to fit in and uphold the values you deem important for your company?

Oftentimes, employers tend to hire the same type of person, who either resembles them or another star employee. However, a successful environment is one that contains diversity, and hiring employees who have different strengths and points of view can help foster creativity and innovation, which will drive a positive culture.

3. Promote Transparency

A thriving company is one where every single employee feels valued and appreciated. The old world model of a hierarchy that keeps information locked at the top is outdated, and transparency is the new normal in the professional world.

A healthy company culture is one that democratizes decision making and gives everyone a voice. Instead of shielding your employees from sensitive news, involve them in the process and witness how much more invested they will become in the success of your company.

If you would like access to more articles about managing a business, or would like to inquire about getting a small business loan, contact IOU Financial.