Flexibility During An Economic Crisis

Some of the best advice I’ve seen for employers during this economic crisis is the need to immediately become flexible.

It’s not as easy for large, entrenched companies as it is for smaller companies used to moving and changing rapidly.

But businesses that have adopted flex-options have saved real money by redistributing willing workers’ time. They’ve seen:

  • Increases in both worker and client satisfaction;
  • Retention of well-trained and productive employees; and
  • An increase in employee morale.

Flexibility means creating a cohesive relationship between you and your employees. Before doing a knee-jerk reaction (eliminating jobs altogether), consider what alternatives are available. After all, when the economy rebounds eventually, you’re going to need your best employees to help lead the way. Hiring a bunch of new employees when business picks up will not result in proportionately great results.

Consider, the following – as suggested by Dr. Malcolm Smith in the New Hampshire Business Review:

  • Flexible hours that allow workers to get their job done and still have time for family and personal life needs;
  • A compressed workweek that enables employees to work allotted hours over fewer days;
  • Flexible leave, which allows for paid time off to care for children or aging parents, personal illness, personal issues and parental leave for birth, adoption or care of a foster child (this is required for all businesses in California and businesses with more than 50 employees nationally); and
  • Flexible career-planning, which allows for phased–out retirement, as well as professional-development leaves and sabbaticals.

Most importantly – make sure to communicate frequently with your employees on your intentions – get their input. You’ll be surprised what happens when everyone works together.

401(k) Fees – The Employers Choice

A great deal has been said about forcing financial institutions to disclose their hidden fees and expenses for 401(k) Retirement Plans.

But businesses – small businesses especially – tend to select a 401(k) provider for their company based on the monthly fee (only $100 per month!) or because the owner’s best friend is a money manager and can do ‘it all’ inexpensively.

It’s not the cost of maintaining the program – it’s the hidden costs – especially expense fees – that are rarely if ever disclosed.

Demand from your third party administrator or money manager what those expenses are – they are costing you and your employees a reduced return on their investment.

And that means you are costing your employees and yourself – your retirement.

Courtesy Wall Street Journal.

Same-Sex Marriage & The Affect On Employers

When California’s Supreme Court overturned a state law that banned same-sex marriages in May, the impact on employers was not immediately clear. As lawyers and experts have begun to evaluate this decision, their opinions are starting to come out.

Writing in Harrison Ford’s Management Update, Jeffrey Ashendorf says that “Employers should review the terms of their benefit plans and employee communications and adopt a clear definition of the term “spouse” to avoid any confusion. Additionally, if benefits are or will be offered to same-sex spouses or non-dependent domestic partners, employers should ensure that their payroll or accounting departments can comply with differing tax treatments under federal law.”

Obviously the issue is controversial – and litigious – for employers. Take steps now to ensure you’re in compliance.

Shop Your 401(k) Now!

The trend is finally happening – if you don’t compare your 401(k) plan, not only are YOU losing money, but your employees are losing thousands of dollars through hidden fees.

And now is the time – if you don’t have a defined contribution plan – to establish one for your business. High reward, a valued benefit, and low cost to your business.

401(k) – The Hidden Fees

I don’t manage 401(k) or retirement plans, but I’m a huge proponent of them for all businesses – it is a highly desired and inexpensive employee benefit.

I find that a number of small businesses are content to use a friend or acquaintance to manage the recordkeeping and money management of their 401(k)’s – and this is where it backfires.

You should immediately demand that your fund manager disclose all the fees – most of them borne by participants – in the plan. It should be Priority One as the new year gets underway.

It’s great that government is finally doing something about it – but I fear the solution will be a long time away, and those fees add up every day.