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How to Decide Which Employees to Bring Back from Furlough

Strategizing on how to bring some furloughed employees back?  Check out this great video from colleague, Chelsea Whalley of J Donovan Financial.

 

1. Create a staffing plan that revolves around the needs of the COMPANY first. Ask yourself where you anticipate being busy and where you may be slower. Create a plan accordingly.
2. Choose which staff return based on unique skill sets needed, overall job performance, seniority/tenure, or their willingness to do jobs outside of their normal scope.
3. DO NOT discriminate based on age, perceived disabilities, or by retaliating for taking paid sick leave.

Make sure to DOCUMENT your process ahead of time and COMMUNICATE to your staff your plan to avoid unnecessary stress for everyone.

*REMEMBER TO ALWAYS CONSULT YOUR ATTORNEY OR HUMAN RESOURCES VENDOR FOR ADVICE* If you need these types of vendors, we can refer you to them.



PPP Forgiveness Application Process & Documents to Prepare

Here’s a follow up on yesterday’s post, did you get the PPP loan and now you are concerned about the process and what documents you need to prepare in order to have the loan forgiven?  Check out this great video from colleague, Chelsea Whalley of J Donovan Financial.

The CARES Act requires employers to apply for loan forgiveness with the same lender they applied for the PPP loan at the end of the eight-week period following the disbursement of their loan.

When applying for loan forgiveness, employers will need to provide the following information:

  • The total requested amount to be forgiven
  • Documentation verifying the number and pay rate of FTEs on payroll:
    • Payroll tax filings with the IRS
    • State income, payroll and unemployment insurance filings
  • Documentation verifying covered mortgage interest, rent or lease obligations, and utilities
  • Certification from an authorized representative for the employer that all supplied documentation is true to the fullest extent possible
  • Certification from an authorized representative for the employer that the amount requested to be forgiven complies with PPP guidelines

After submitting an application, lenders must make a decision on whether an employer’s PPP loan will be forgiven, or how much of the loan will be forgiven, within 60 days. In some cases, a lender may ask for additional information. Employers should monitor their application and pay attention to any requests for additional information. For questions on your company’s loan forgiveness eligibility or application, contact your lender.



Maintain Eligibility for PPP Forgiveness

Did you get the PPP loan and now you are concerned about making sure the loan is fully forgiven?  Check out this great video from colleague, Chelsea Whalley of J Donovan Financial.

U.S. small businesses that were able to secure financial relief through the SBA’s Payroll Protection Program should consider the following to help their cause for qualification of forgiveness of the full principal amount of the loan and any accrued interest:
• Use the loan funds only toward: payroll, including salary, wages, tips and covered benefits for employees; rent or mortgage interest; and utilities.
• Ensure at least 75% of loan funds are allocated for payroll costs.
• Maintain the level of full-time employee (FTE) headcount without reduction during the eight-week covered period.
• Maintain the salaries and wages of your workforce during the eight-week covered period. Any reduction of more than 25% for any employee who makes less than $100,000 will reduce the amount forgiven.
• Preserve proper documentation to support the amount of proceeds used for payroll costs, rent or mortgage, and utilities.
• Prior to June 30, 2020, restore all full-time employment and salary levels back from any reductions made between Feb. 15, 2020, and April 26, 2020. As mentioned above, preserving proper documentation is important, as this information will be used by your lender when evaluating whether an employer qualifies for PPP loan forgiveness.
For more information regarding loan forgiveness eligibility, go to the following link: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/…
Video on how to APPLY for Forgiveness will be released tomorrow!


Employer Checklist: How to Support Workplace Mental Wellness as you Reopen

Mental HealthAs talks of reopening start happening and, as an employer, you begin to make a strategy for what this will look like, Mental Wellness should be in the forefront of your checklist.

Mike Veny, Mental health speaker, drummer and best-selling author shares a powerful checklist on how to support your employees during this time.  This list includes:

1. Change the way you view everyone.

2.  Understand there are different levels of anxiety.

3.  Remember everyone has a unique home situation.

CLICK HERE to download the entire list and advice on how to implement!

_________________

http://www.mikeveny.com

213-458-8369

mike@mikeveny.com

J0GbsX3sTYqYnQdERrGO_file



Wonder Woman Wednesday: 2020 Broker of the Year finalist: Teri Weber

I was honored with receiving this award in 2017 and thrilled that Teri Weber is a finalist for this year!  Today, on Wonder Woman Wednesday, we wanted to honor her and share the article she was in at BenefitsPro!

Click Here for the original article!

2020 Broker of the Year finalist: Teri Weber

Have questions about absence management or disability leave policies? Teri Weber is your go-to gal.

When Teri Weber started working from home full time, she found it a bit of an adjustment. It was almost like being absent from work. Which just happens to be one of her specialties. Weber is a partner with Boston-based Spring Consulting Group, LLC,  an Alera Group Company. When COVID-19 began to confine millions of workers to their homes, she was swamped by client calls regarding work absences.

“‘Will quarantine be a disability?’ ‘People all want to take their sick time now; how do we do that?’ ‘What if 50 percent of our workforce cashes in on what they’ve banked? Could people do a time donation?’ ‘What do I do for employees who work from home but need to care for kids?’ It’s always a balancing act of finance and policy. It gets into the weeds quickly,” Weber says.

Related: Business continuity & social distancing: 3 tips for transitioning to a work-from-home model

But it turns out that is where Weber spends a lot of her time: in the weeds with clients, showing them the way out.

Weber became a partner with Spring Consulting in 2008, where she has focused on disciplines such as absence management that can save clients time, money, and management headaches. Absence policies can be shockingly ad hoc, inconsistent, and are often crafted in the breach, rather than the legal or human resources departments. During the COVID-19 outbreak, Weber has had to explain to clients that actions they take to attempt to manage a tidal wave of absence incidents could easily become company policy.

To one client with a question about virus-related time off, she said: “What do you want to accomplish with this? What are you hoping to do? It’s about getting to the root of why you think this policy will help you now. Because the policy can become law long after the crisis is over.” She also lends her absence expertise to the Disability Management Employer Coalition, a group of New England employers and insurance companies focused on disability and leave of absence policies.

“We speak a different language than most people,” she says. “An employee will say, ‘I need time off for something.’ That’s how they think about it. Our work is around compliance, cost and culture. We look for the best programs we can design, from leave time to return to work.”

Another area of focus is student debt and student loan payments as a benefit.

In the quest to land top young graduates, companies experiment with offering student debt payments. Weber likes to include the benefit in a plan design, but only if she believes it is being offered for the right reasons.

“It is often a targeted approach to address turnover among younger people, or to attract young talent. Other employers just want to give it as a benefit without a specific objective.” Weber asks, is the target of the benefit specific or general? Short term or long term?

“That $2,000 can make a huge difference to a young person. But does it serve your overall strategy?” she says.

One could get the impression that Spring deals largely with major employers, those who have the financial clout, employee numbers, and staffing to engage in creative plan design. But that’s not the case.

One of Spring’s most devoted clients is edHEALTH, a three-person health insurance captive based in Rhode Island. edHEALTH is a member-owned consortium that serves as the stop-loss provider for group members, mostly East Coast colleges, universities, and charter schools, including Boston College, Sarah Lawrence, Brandeis, Wellesley and Emerson.

Tracy Hassett, president and CEO of the captive, says Weber served as an early advisor to the original 24 members as they developed their model.

“When we started talking, we were faced with numerous barriers,” Hassett says. “Brokers and consultants at the schools were nervous about taking that business away from them.

Meanwhile, the schools we talked to made it clear they didn’t want to change their plan design. They wanted to be part of the consortium and save money. ‘But we don’t want to make any changes to plan design or to our carriers or upset faculty or staff.’”

Hasset feared it would take long hours over many meetings to arrive at a plan design that would satisfy all the members. Enter Weber. Working with Hassett, she helped the members reach agreement quickly on a common plan design.

“Teri is easy to talk to, offers very clear descriptions, and she made sure potential members at the time knew that we were trying to deliver a program to minimize costs and maximize coverage. That is still the role she plays and she does a wonderful job.”

In the years since, the group has grown, while costs have held steady. Average premium growth per member over the last six years had been 3.5 percent, while admiration for Spring and Weber grows every year.

“Spring has been an incredible partner since before our inception, and an incredible partner in helping us grow,” Hassett says.

Meanwhile, back in her “home” office, Weber is getting new insights into the challenges her plan members face when forced to juggle work and child are duties. Her two daughters, 12 and 14, don’t need a lot of supervision with the family cooped up in the house, but like kids all over, they have been attempting to master online learning while Mom and Dad grow accustomed to virtual meetings, the intricacies of telecommuting, and keeping dispersed teams motivated during a global pandemic.

But Weber manages to keep a positive attitude as she attempts to establish “a new normalcy at home.”

“I’m an optimist. I look for the good people out there. The sun is always shining, even when there are clouds are in the way!”

Finalists



Working from Home Guide

Most people are working from home these days due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. In order to make work more efficient it’s important to follow these steps in order to be most productive.

1. Follow your standard routine.
2. Set up a special workspace.
3. Use video calls to keep in touch.
4. Use task management to keep track of progress.
5. Do not stay in the same position for too long.
6. Make sure to exercise everyday.
7. Find what helps you concentrate.
8. Look after your mental health.



Feature Friday: Business As (Un)usual?

Business as un-usual

Business As (Un)usual?

Guest Blogger:  Kevin Trokey
Original Post:  Click Here

I recently posted an observation on LinkedIn. In one 24-hour period . . .

  • We entered a bear market.
  • A significant travel ban from Europe was imposed.
  • The NBA suspended its season while the NCAA announced March Madness would be played in empty arenas (talk about surreal).
  • And, what may have been at the top of the surreal scale on any other day, a former vice-presidential candidate (Sarah Palin) sang “Baby Got Back” on “The Masked Singer.”

Of course, that surreal 24 hours has grown into an exponentially more surreal week with no end to the escalation in sight.

The questions are endless, personally and professionally. In that post, I offered some suggestions to maintain SOME level of personal grounding. I suggested we all . . .

  • Sit in 10 minutes of meditation
  • Go for a walk
  • Read something for pure enjoyment
  • Call a friend and have a nostalgic conversation (i.e., nothing about current events)
  • Just do something to restore a sense of sanity and control to your day

I encouraged us to all – Be safe. Be smart. Be balanced.

I feel these suggestions are still solid but, given the events of the 72 hours or so that have transpired since then, they only begin to touch on the significance of what we are experiencing. This is a much more significant health crisis than we knew even that short time ago. It seems clear we still don’t just how significant it will prove to be.

It cannot be denied; we are all being impacted personally.

But, what about professionally?

At the risk of seeming impersonal and insensitive, what about our businesses? What adjustments do we need to be making?

We see many government-imposed changes. Restaurants and bars are being closed or put on restricted operations. Schools are being closed or moved online. Gatherings of more than 10 (as of this writing – it was 50 when I started) are being canceled or postponed.

Beyond the government-imposed restrictions, many businesses that rely on “social proximity” (I know, not necessarily the right use of this phrase, but I mean the opposite of social distancing) have chosen to close on their own.

I understand the need to protect health and life at all costs, but that doesn’t stop me from worrying about the long-term business implications of these decisions. How many businesses will fail? How many employees of closed businesses will never recover financially? Again, these aren’t life and death questions (in most cases), but they’re still very real.

A business “gray” area?

And, what about businesses that are either already virtual and remote in their operations or are capable of performing at least some activities without threat to others? By maintaining some “new normal” level of business operations, do they run the risk of appearing insensitive? Or, is it maybe their responsibility to continue operations?

Before I share my thoughts, you should know that our entire business operation runs virtually and remotely. Each of our team members works individually in their own office space. We are among the “socially-distanced elite” in that regard. While this arrangement does present limitations, it has prepared us for where we are today. Over the next few days/weeks, we’ll be sharing some tips that have helped us build a successful business this rather unusual way.

Here’s my perspective and opinion.

  • If a behavior puts anybody else at risk, it needs to be changed. The physical health of everyone has to be our number one priority.
  • I believe our mental health has to be a very close second to our physical health. For me, that means maintaining daily activities that are as close to normal as possible. Sure, we may have to work from home instead of going into the office but, if that’s possible, I feel it is way healthier than not working at all.
  • Finally, we will come out of this and, when we do, we need businesses to be as strong as possible. That can’t be the case if we bring everything to a complete halt.

So, what will I be doing personally?

  • I will be aware of my physical movements and the effects they have on others.
  • I will be respectful of the decision others may make to more drastically curtail their business operations.
  • I will continue to work/live as much of an uninterrupted daily life as is responsibly possible.
  • I will be understanding of those who have a different opinion than mine.

What about us as Q4intelligence?

Our role is to help our clients build stronger businesses, and we’re finding there are a lot of needs right now to that end. We’re helping our agencies make decisions and take actions in the best interests of their own businesses and the lives of their clients. So, our work isn’t slowing down.

  • We hope you aren’t offended when you see us active on LinkedIn.
  • We hope you aren’t shocked when you see our blog posts pop up in your inbox on Mondays and Thursdays.
  • We hope you don’t mind when we respond to your inquiry.
  • We hope you understand the spirit in which we will be working for the foreseeable future.
  • We hope you know how much we are thinking about you during this unprecedented time.

Above all else, we hope for your health, safety, and balance.

Photo baranq.



Section 125 Considerations for Mid-Year Enrollments

Looking for an easy digestible explanation what considerations to make for Mid-Year Enrollments under a Section 125 plan? Check out this great video from colleague, Chelsea Whalley of J Donovan Financial.

 

Special Mid-Year Enrollment Window

1. Get Approval from Health Insurer in writing. If Self-funded, approval comes from stop-loss carrier.
2. Decide if these special deductions will be pre-tax or post-tax. As of right now, the IRS has issued no guidance for pre-tax elections due to COVID-19.

Section 125 Mid Year Election Change Events:
1. Change in employment status if the change impacts eligibility for health plan
2. A significant change in health plan coverage
3. HIPAA Special Enrollment (marriage, birth, etc)

To avoid any unintended liability, employers should check with your CPA and/or attorney to decide what is best for your business.



Wonder Woman Wednesday: Amanda Kindler

This week’s #WonderWomanWednesday is someone near and dear to us in NYC. Amanda Kindler was a Registered Nurse working in Oncology prior to the Covid-19 Pandemic and was part of the first Covid Unit in the NYU Hospital System. When Amanda has some downtime, which is rare, she’s sure to log in her CrossFit workout from the CrossFit Dutch Kills box in Queens, NY where she has been a member for about 2 years. We salute Amanda and all the other healthcare providers putting themselves at risk during this time to help the people of our city!

Amanda Kindler WWW

 

 



Feature Friday! Managing Remote Employees: Key Insights and Advice

For this edition of #FeatureFriday check out our guest blog by The Jacobs Group, the leading provider of talent to the insurance industry.  We greatly appreciate their keen insight to the subject matter and contributing to our blog this week, this content applies to anyone that is managing employees remotely during this time and beyond.

As the insurance industry adapts to a workforce that is primarily – if not completely – remote, many managers are finding themselves overseeing work-at-home employees for the first time. At Jacobson, many of our corporate employees and temporary staff work remotely on a regular basis. We asked a few leaders across our organization for their key insights and advice on effectively managing remote staff.

Prioritize communication.

video-chat-iconDave Coons, Senior Vice President: Stay engaged! Host regularly scheduled one-on-one meetings and team meetings over Skype and Zoom. Video is great because it creates a more personal connection and gives you the ability to read people’s non-verbal cues.

Salil Shenoy, Controller: My open-door policy remains the same whether we’re in the office or working remotely. Making time to be actively engaged and available is crucial. This entails scheduled and ad-hoc one-on-one and team meetings with clear agendas to ensure the time is focused and productive. Communication and trust are key! This is even more true when individuals on your team are dependent on other employees they no longer see in person. Open and honest communication helps create a collaborative and positive environment that is proactive and preventative, rather than reactive and corrective.

tasks-iconSet clear expectations.

Nikki St.Martin, Vice President, Marketing Communications: It is more important than ever to ensure everyone is on the same page regarding everything from work hours to deadlines and production levels. Schedule a weekly call with your team to share the department’s priorities for the week and address workflows and any challenges. Continue to provide regular feedback, both positive and constructive, so employees know if they are performing at the expected levels.

Karen Aiello, Assistant Vice President, Account Management: I’ve been doing this for almost 20 years, and it’s important to stay in constant communication. Make sure there is a good understanding of priorities, expectations and performance/quality goals.

Alison Wetmore, Assistant Marketing Manager: Coach your team for your communication style. Be sure to spell out the level of communication you expect. For example, if you want individuals to confirm they have received emails about new projects, be sure to let them know.

Focus on trust.

Kylee Lacson, Assistant Vice President, Life: It’s important to trust your employees and let them do their jobs. Micromanaging will have a negative impact on productivity. If you are seeing a dip in work product or quality, approach them from the angle of “How can I help?” versus “Why didn’t you do X?”

Tanya Rinsky, Senior Account Manager, Health: Come from a place of support, always assume positive intent and respond quickly, even if it’s just to say you’ll get back to them when you know more. When communicating by phone and body language can’t be used as a guide, it’s important to ask lots of probing questions to ensure you fully understand what the person is trying to communicate.

desk-iconRecognize different work styles.

Abbe Sodikoff, Senior Vice President: For people who prefer to work alone, it can be challenging to get them engaged with the group as a whole. Finding ways for those individuals to lead a discussion or participate and contribute without feeling put on the spot can be challenging. However, taking extra time to meet those people at their comfort level is well worth it.

Judy Busby, Senior Vice President, Executive Search and Corporate Strategy: Each employee has different needs. You must adapt to each employee to maximize team contributions, company culture and professional development.

Set boundaries.

Kylee: Set boundaries around availability to help people unplug for the day. If an email isn’t urgent at 9 p.m., then use the “delay send” feature so your employees can feel comfortable setting boundaries with their time. People who are new to working at home tend to be challenged with turning off work. Small adjustments can help with that.

Leverage technology.

communication-iconBeth Roekle, Senior Vice President, Talent Delivery: Leverage technology wherever you can. For instance, we use group chats, video conferencing and emails to help keep people connected. In addition, we prioritize our regularly scheduled communication as much as possible to ensure adequate opportunities to connect.

Alison: As our team has grown, we’ve needed to find ways to best manage multiple people working on different aspects of a project. Technology such as Basecamp and Trello can help track where projects stand at any given time, as well as who is responsible for each part of a project.

Connect on a personal level.

Dave: I believe that you don’t manage “people,” you manage “personalities.” What I mean by this is not all people are the same, and they have different needs when it comes to being supported and managed. It’s important to realize this and tailor the way you manage your employees using different means and techniques to get the best return on your investment.

Nikki: Small talk happens naturally in the office, in the lunchroom, passing in the hallway. When everyone is working remotely, maintaining a connection takes intentionality. Many of your employees are juggling more than they are used to in the game of life. Take a few moments at least once per week to just call (or even better, Facetime or Skype video) and see how they are really coping. Use group messaging software to say good morning, share a funny story in the afternoon or ask about employees’ plans for the weekend.

checkin-iconJudy: You need to make room for personal interactions, especially since people are now at home with their kids, cats and other distractions. This requires a relaxing of norms for all to feel comfortable videoconferencing. I’m learning so much about team members’ families, interests, pets and more and think it will bond us for many years to come. There’s typically so little time in the workplace to talk about these things, but it’s now integrated into everyone’s work day. As a high-performance leader, this is a great time to grab insight about someone to better lead them.

Catherine Prete, Senior Vice President, Operations: It can be easy to slip into “all business” mode when you don’t see the person. Be intentional about connecting differently in communications that don’t involve seeing your staff. For instance, start calls by asking about personal matters and express appreciation. Now that all of my staff is remote, I have learned that not only can we easily survive in this environment, we can thrive. Everyone has been diligent to keep the human connections in lots of unique ways.

About The Jacobs Group: The Jacobson Group is the leading provider of talent to the insurance industry. They offer executive search, recruiting and temporary staffing services at all levels across all industry verticals.

Click Here for the original post!