Rising Health Care Costs Should Not Drain Your Company’s Bank!

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Health care costs, already a significant drain on many small businesses, may increase further following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, expected this summer. The central question of the case examines the individual mandate, which is set to go into effect in 2014 and will require most Americans to buy health insurance or pay a penalty. If the individual mandate is struck down, the Court will also decide whether or not other components of the law must be dismantled as well. If the individual mandate stands, employers will likely find themselves carrying more employees on their health care plans, including those with pre-existing conditions. Employers may already find themselves offering coverage to more people because some parts of the Affordable Care Act are already in effect. Children may now remain on their parents’ health care plans until they are 26 years old, and adults who were uninsured for six months or more because of … [Read more...]

12 Factors of Successful Managers

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If you were to ask any owner or key employee of any business what their average revenue per employee is, chances are they would scratch their head and give the same look that we get when asking our teenagers whether they've cleaned their room. Now, this doesn't mean that they're not effective at what they do, it just reinforces our negligence when it comes to what I call "Workforce Optimization." What do we expect of employees, do we communicate those expectations effectively to them, do they know why the company has those expectations of them and do they have the tools to meet or exceed those expectations? Whether front line, back office, white, grey or blue collar, employees must know how their efforts contribute to the overall success of a business. Although this tends to be one of the most significant factors impacting employee performance, let's take a look at 12 indicators that resulted from Gallup interviews across the world, representing various industry and organization … [Read more...]

HSAs – The “New Way” to do Health Insurance

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What are they? HSAs are tax-advantaged medical savings accounts available to taxpayers who are enrolled in an HSA-qualified high-deductible health plan. The funds contributed to the account are not subject to federal income tax at the time of deposit. Unused amounts in one year can be carried over to following years and added to subsequent contributions. This is a tremendous opportunity to take advantage of tax incentives as well as lower the cost of managing our own health care. Something this good must have limits, right? Of course. However, before looking at what the coming year has in store, What changed in 2011? Effective Jan. 1, 2011, expenses incurred for over-the-counter medicines, with the exception of insulin, will not be eligible for reimbursement under a health FSA, HRA or HSA without a prescription. The penalty for using HSA funds for ineligible expenses increased from 10 percent to 20 percent. Changes for the next year include.... 2012 HSA Contribution … [Read more...]

Arizona minimum-wage workers to get 30-cent raise

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Arizona’s minimum-wage workers will get a raise of 30 cents per hour on Jan. 1. The state minimum wage will go from $7.35 to $7.65 per hour next year, thanks to a cost-of-living formula tied to consumer prices and inflation. That translates into a $625 annual boost for minimum-wage workers in the state, who will make $15,900 in 2011 if they work full-time hours, compared with $15,288 this year. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, but Arizona voters approved Proposition 202 in 2006, which ties the minimum wage to inflation, resulting in annual increases if the cost of living goes up. … [Read more...]

4 Tips For Effective Benefits Program

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The newly-formed Essential Health Benefits Coalition has four tips for feds as they design an essential benefits package: •The essential health benefits package must be affordable. It should provide basic services that Americans need to protect their health, not coverage for every treatment we might want. •The package must be flexible. It should give individuals and employers the choice to purchase a range of plans and options, and it must allow for flexibility in insurance design and cost-sharing arrangements. •The package should make it easier for employers to offer and individuals to obtain coverage. What our economy needs is for businesses to grow and hire more workers – a benefits package that is too expensive will hinder business and job growth. •The package must consider all costs associated with its development. Taxpayer costs will greatly increase if more employers are priced out of offering coverage, further threatening America's fiscal future. It is important … [Read more...]

Carry Your Burden!

Business owners often charge customers what they feel is a fair price to provide various services. These services are usually carried out by the company's employees, which means there is a cost to deliver these services since employees are the most expensive asset (remember that post?) any business has. So, the million dollar question that you consistently should ask, is "What is my payroll burden?" This is the fully loaded amount that each of your employees cost you above the gross payroll that you committed to paying them. This burdened amount, should include: FICA (employer portion) SUTA (State Unemployment Rate) FUTA (Federal Unemployment Rate) Workers' Compensation (rate per $100 of payroll) Benefits (employer contributions) Soft Costs (associated with administering employee responsibilities, such as employee reviews, payroll, disciplinary action, etc.) Once you know your full employee burden, you will get an even more firm grip on your margin, down to the hour or job, … [Read more...]

Employees: Assets or Liabilities?

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Anyone in business will likely give the same answer when asked about their most valuable part of their business: their employees. It seems to be an obvious answer for any successful owner. The employees drive revenue, deliver the product or service that the company has committed to market and leave the necessary impression upon customers that will drive them to return to do business with the company. So, you may find it ironic that the very same group that is considered the most valuable part of any business also poses the greatest threat to its success and long-term health. However, there is a business strategy that, if implemented properly, can guarantee a return on investment that will exceed any marketing or sales strategy that a company has ever attempted. This can be accomplished by managing the capital that matters most, the human kind. Human Capital seems to be the new business buzz, but I believe it is finally receiving its due attention. For many, the transition from … [Read more...]

Employee Wage Update:

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January will see a number of state minimum wage increases across the nation.  Arizona ($7.35), Montana ($7.35), Ohio ($7.40), Oregon ($8.50), Vermont ($8.15), and Washington ($8.67) will all increase. Owners are encouraged to check for state and local variances for certain occupations or situations. The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor has a helpful Web page for state minimum wage requirements.  However, this Web site posts changed rates once they become effective; it does not post future or expected changes. … [Read more...]

Business Owners are Heroes Too

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Many times when we talk about heroes, we tend to think of our military personnel, firefighters, police officers, teachers, parents and countless others whose selfless deeds and service make a significant difference in the lives of others.  I would like to add the business owner to that list.  Yes, you.  You may not put your life on the line on a regular basis for the sake of others, at least not literally, but you are a risk-taker, nonetheless.  As the American soldier fights for the freedom that many take for granted, you uphold that freedom in a pursuit of a dream, driving the economy and providing a foundation upon which our country was founded from the very drafting of our Constitution. You may have never thought of this, but the employees you hired are likely providing for families and others whose lives are affected by the risk you have taken to start the business, the customers you attracted and have kept, the revenues that you have earned from serving them and the paychecks … [Read more...]