Can tossing dental insurance make you a better employer?

Apparently there is more than one way to clean, fill, or whiten a tooth. I just ran across a new service that give you access to deeply discounted dental care. Given the current state of health care insurance and dental options this may be a great way to augment what your employer is or is not already offering. seems to be a mashup of 1-800-DENTIST as their providers are "hand picked", OpenTable for booking, and anti-dental insurance discount plan. Not only are they o.k. with flying in the face of Delta Dental with this service model, that is the whole point. Personally, the idea of negotiated fees paid directly to the dentist sounds great. I'll love to see how their program stacks up against the typical plan offer by small business employers.

Given the confusing nature of health insurance rethinking or abandoning insurance all together in strategic areas maybe smart. Some questions about the's offering remain unanswered:

Are enough dentists accepting the plan to give consumers enough choice?
A list of 12 dentists were offered to me for my zip code here in Santa Monica.

How can I sell my current dentist on becoming a provider?

How long before they have enough users to leverage buying power comparable entrenched insurance providers?

Can the negotiated fees I pay to the dentist be paid out of my Flexible Spending Account?
This could turbo charge the value brings to the table.

Since the program is currently free to offer to my staff can fund a tax advantaged account on behalf of my employees?

Does offering to my staff help me meet by Affordable Care Act requirements in 2014?

I hope to hear directly from the folks at for more insight. Would you consider paying directly for you dental work if deep discounts where part of the deal?


Virtual Wellness Program- What?

Thanks for joining us on Wellness Wednesday. Today Darien Hawkins delivers part 2 of his thoughts regarding virtual wellness plans for you mobile workforce.

With more employees working away from the office due to advances in technology, your organization needs a health and fitness wellness program that can deliver services to these team members. It is quite possible that those team members who are on flex schedules or working from remote locations, will need a wellness program more than ever! Employees who have not developed disciplines to live healthier lifestyles may become less active and prone to more health risks. This could have a negative impact on your organizations bottom line and increase your organizations health care expenditures. The solution, virtual health and fitness wellness programs. 

Virtual wellness programs use the latest technology to offer health and fitness wellness initiatives that encourage their team members to live healthier lifestyles....where ever they are.

Some benefits of having a virtual wellness program are:
- Your team members can participate in the program at their own pace. 
- Employees have access to various virtual health and fitness wellness initiatives.  
- Team members that work from home or remote locations will be able to utilize and reap the benefits of the virtual wellness programs.
- Large organizations can reach more employees and offer tools and resources at their fingertips. 
-Cost effective and time saving by allowing many of the on site services to be just a click away.

To create a virtual wellness program first and foremost you have to gain support from senior management. When senior management is on board, you must develop a plan that addresses the program goals and who you want the program to reach. After you have established your programs objectives, then you should select initiatives that best fit your team members and organizations needs and interest. 

Now that you have your wellness programs road map, select which technology platform you want use and how you want to integrate the program into your office infrastructure. Upon selection of a technology platform, input the wellness information that the program is to cover, make an announcement of the programs kick off date and then begin the program. Get ready to enjoy watching your company's employees becoming healthier and your company's health care expense start to lower!

It's no secret that healthy workers make more cents!

Avoid tax penalties by choosing the right payroll partner

Choosing to partner with a payroll firm to take on the administrative functions that occur when you have employees is a smart move. Investing a few minutes to ask key questions will help you avoid loosing money and incurring the ire of the IRS.

A resent article in the Wall Street Journal "When Payroll Firms Implode" tries to point out the downside of working with small payroll companies, instead what the author highlights is the need to ask better questions. The company you hire to process checks and pay taxes on your behalf should be under the same scrutiny as an employee. To minimize your chances of ending up like the business owners in the article here are some questions to ask when evaluating a 3rd party firm to deposit tax money on your behalf.

How often and by what means do you notify clients about their ability to see that you have made tax payments in a timely manner?

As a business, once you register for an EIN or TIN you will automatically be enrolled in the IRS EFTPS. You can see all tax payments that have been made to your account with the IRS whether by you or a 3rd part agent remitting tax dollars for you. Your payroll company is required to notify you of this fact and provide information so that you can take a look any time you choose.

Do you have any insurance policies in place to protect me from you?

I am always surprised that more business owners don't ask questions like this. It is well worth the expense of a company to put clients at ease by have coverage for them. A policy covering client losses due to criminal activity of the firm or it's staff is a good place to start. In addition, insurance covering errors and omissions specific to tax payments made to a client's tax account with the Feds and State is in order. 

Do you handle your own tax filing for your clients?

You have outsourced your payroll administration to a company who further outsources the tax payment process to a 4th party that you have not clue about. If something goes wrong that just adds one more layer you have to weed through to get YOUR tax liability issue resolved. Even when everything is running smoothly and you have a tax question you will have to wait for the company you hired to get answers from the company they hired to make payments to the IRS and State collection agencies. No thanks, the buck should stop with the company you hire or finds someone else. 

What questions would you ask of a potential payroll provider as it relates to tax payments?

Flexible work schedules and your company's wellness campaign

While some firms like Yahoo are in the headlines for telling people to come back to the office others, are marching forward in the direction of "I don't care where you work, just get your work done" philosophy. Consider these health pros and cons:

- Lower stress levels among team members
- Reduce costs on facility space and use
- It supports a "green campaign" with less traffic pollution eroding the ozone

- People will most likely gain a lot more weight
- Poor eating choices at home
- Less physical activity
- Low to no company moral

Flex scheduling is a good idea for those team members who are able to stay disciplined in making the correct choices when it comes to health and fitness. What about the team members that aren't as dedicated to their well being? This could be a bad situation for a company's bottom line. 

Creativity to find ways of lowering health care cost within the organization has grown more important. Now that these undisciplined team members don't even have to get out of their beds and pajamas to go to work, its almost a sure bet that they will become more unhealthy and create more risk factors, inevitably driving health care cost threw the roof. Currently  35.7% of the American work force is obese, and this number will without a doubt rise even higher  if some intervention isn't made to encourage these employees to live a healthier lifestyle. One way companies can achieve this goal is by offering virtual/mobil wellness initiatives that encourage employees to live a healthier lifestyle where ever they may be.

In the next post of Wellness Wednesday I examine what a mobile health program looks like and how you can make it work for your company.

Healthy workers make more cents!

source*  Prevalence of Obesity in the United States
   Cynthia L. Ogden, PhD;


Customer Service heros and CRM to work their magic

CRM can make you a super hero
Wonder Woman DC
CRM can make you a super hero
Green Lantern DC

Wonder Woman has her bracelets & lasso and the Green Lantern has his ring. These powerful tools turn otherwise ordinary people into superheros. Today's cloud computing technology gives even the smallest businesses powerful CRM tools. Staff with a true service attitude and a good CRM will appear magical to clients.

Know every contact at every account by name and job function like you did when you first opened your doors.

Schedule proactively communication for reminders and personal milestones. "Thanks for 5 years of business."

Track which products and services your clients are using today and which products they may need in the future.

Log all communication and changes with the client so everyone in your firm can be on the same page. This helps you put on a good show with every client interaction.

Acquiring a feature rich application that allows your staff to perform these and other super moves can be done  for only a small investment of time and money. Businesses leaders can enlist the services of lean products like  Insightly, which has a free plugin version for Google Apps. On the other end of the spectrum you have industry giant

Future installments of EmploybetterCRM will include reviews of popular CRM systems as well as new comers to the scene. Do you have a favorite CRM you are using to help your staff perform better? If so, please share which it is and some of the pros and cons.


Shiftgig the mashup of classified gigs and your contact list

Heading into to the weekend there are restaurants and carters all over Los Angeles looking for quality staff, tonight! If your scheduled staffer can't make is there friend qualified, are any of your standbys available? Enter Shiftgig, they are positioning themselves as the hotter all grown up version of Craigslist gigs.

LA Times

Shiftgig is Linkedin for the tech savvy food service industry. Based in Chicago a great food city and Los Angeles is one of the early markets they've entered since launching in 2011. Here's what they've got cookin' (I couldn't resist).

For employers: The ability to post jobs and have those posts syndicated to multiple job boards.
                          View the profile of potential candidate for various food.
                          Search for qualified people based on skills you desire.
                          Build a profile of your business to attract the best employees.
                          Know your getting the best people for you position with the built in filtering system. 

For Gig seekers: Build a profile and showcase you skills.
                             Search jobs you want.
                             View the profiles of places you are considering.
                             Get pushed to the top of the pile based on the depth and quality of the profile you build
                             Ability to show some love for the places you enjoy working by giving it a favorite.

Like Linkedin the basics are free. There are fees involved for certain premium features. I look forward to learning more to share with you. 

Does Shiftgig sound like a tool you would use or does your informal network/contact list get the job done? 


The 5 Components of a Successful Wellness Program

 A good wellness program should address the needs of the entire population while staying consistent with the vision of the company. Here are a few key components that make-up a successful wellness program.

1) Senior Management Support
In order to get new policies implemented, senior management must support the policy change. Senior management will not only be needed when it comes to financial support, but also can serve as an excellent example. By participating in and leading the way they demonstrate acceptance of the new wellness culture of the company. Senior management buy in is critcal to program success

2) A Well Laid Out Plan
Like the success of any endeavor, a well developed plan is key. The plan should address the needs and interests of the employees and the health and safety improvement of the organization. It should cater to developing wellness initiatives that everyone in the organization can benefit from and enjoy participating in. The plan should serve as the road map for the wellness programs direction and expected outcome. Without a plan, you don't have a chance.

3) Program Evaluations
Evaluations are an ongoing expectation through out the program. The purpose of evaluations are to monitor:
- Program participation
- Participant progression or regression
- Measuring the effectiveness of the wellness program 
- Compares results for the ROI analysis/ report
Evaluations are the metrics needed to determine success of program

4) Maximum Employee Participation
Your organization can have the best wellness program in the world, but if you don't have maximum participation, your organization will not realize the ROI that you wish to achieve. Some of the causes that prevent employee participation in their companies wellness programs are: 
- Lack of or no incentives
- Not interested in the initiatives
- Perceived cost to the employees
If your wellness program peaks the interest of your employees, then you will obtain the participation goals that you are seeking and you will have a direct impact on your bottom line!

5) Return on Investment
The goal of every company is to have more money coming in than going out. If senior management can't see the value of a wellness program, help them understand the numbers. Consult with your HR department to learn your companies area's of opportunity as it relates to absenteeism, productivity and healthcare costs. Most senior management can be convinced when they know they are getting a return on their investment and that it is a win-win situation for both the organization and the employees.

Healthy workers make more cents!


"Healthy workers make more cents."


How to post job listing that will go viral!

Remember that college summer intern seeker who's cover letter went viral? What if your next job posting did the same but only to your ideal candidates? Hiring is coming back so you will have your work cut out for you. Given the vast number of unemployed workers and indications of increased competition for the best candidates, attracting quality people will be a challenge. You had better consider these tips when posting your next job.

from: Small Talk, Big Results

Ask for help in you job posting: Everyone wants to feel important. One of the best ways to do that is solving a problem for someone. Your job as a recruiter is to clearly state how their contribution will help the company. Don't just say you need a top sales performer. Tell potential candidates what specific changes can happen with the revenue coming from their direct efforts. Paint a picture so a rock star can say "because of me the company....".

Show off your feathers: If birds of a feather flock together then highlight qualities of existing staff you want to see in your next hire. Take a moment to describe the type of people who are successful in your firm. Convey the culture of the company as a whole as well. It is all about fit, we often need to be in the right environment to shine. So set the stage and the right performers will thrive on it.

Remove the performance guess work: The office is not the place to play guessing games, unless it is for fun. Tell candidates upfront how they will be evaluated. Knowing what the company values in terms of hard results, career development, etc. is attractive to results oriented people. Even hospitality staff that make your clients feel warm and fuzzy don't want fuzzy metrics from you. They want to know in certain terms how their execution of the "warm and fuzzy" job is valued by you. Give numbers, track them, and reward them. Rock stars want to know.

And what's so cool about you? Before you launch into how your app, product, or service is going to disrupt the market and how much fun everyone will have making that happen, think about the type of person you want to think you are cool. A job posting should tell the right candidate and only the right candidate why you, your company, and the position will be cool. What problem will you solve for you customers, what will successful employees get to add to their resume, how will they be compensated (not just money)? 

Now you have the makings of a job posting that will go viral and only infect the people who will really make a difference in your company. Ideally you want job seekers weed themselves out, leaving you with a select group of candidates you and them wanting more.

Guest Post: Injury Prevention- Well worth the cost!

Our workplace wellness post is submitted by Darien Hawkins of ROIwellness. He was first introduced to you during my interview with him and his business partner Christina. Here he gives some simple "penny wise, pound foolish" insight on injuries at work.

What does a worksite injury really cost?

$ loss of production due to days missed at work
$ low morale
$ worker's comp payouts
$ the burden of having other team members pick up the slack of the fallen comrade
$ the cost associated with hiring and training a new team member to fill the empty position
$ and the most obvious the increase in your companies yearly health care premium cost. 

The Occupational Safety and Health administration (OSHA), claims that it has been estimated that employers pay almost $1 billion dollars per week for direct workers' compensation cost alone. According to the 2011 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, the most disabling workplace injuries and illnesses amounted to more than $50 billion in direct U.S. workers' compensation costs in 2009.

These cost aren't worth the price tag especially when the solution is a simple one - Injury and illness Prevention ! An investment in an injury and illness prevention program will go along way in-terms of your companies bottom line, but most important you are investing in the safety and well being of your organization's most precious resource your human capital.

Healthy workers make more cents!

Source: Making the Business Case for Safety and Health-
Source: 2011 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index [PDF* - 677 KB, 2 pages]. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, (2011).

"Healthy workers make more cents."


How not to embarrass an offensive employee

Here is a question too many of you may have had to ask yourselves as an employer. How do I tell my employee they have offensive body odor?

Employers in today's litigious society are constantly dodging the pitfalls of incorrectly communicating with their staff. Bosses have to avoid circumstances that could be considered employee intimidation, discrimination, inconsistent treatment, sexual harassment and others. In pro-employee states like California, managers and owners are down right scared of speaking up about certain issues. So what should a male boss do when one of his female employees consistently has unpleasant body odor?

Treat it like removing a Band-Aid

  • Address the issue quickly. Prolonging the day of reckoning will only make it more embarrassing and can create resentment. "Why did you wait so long to tell me?!" is rolling around in the back of the offender's head.
  • Have the conversation in private. Don't ever put someone in a situation where the could feel set-up or persecuted. This is not a good time to leverage peer pressure. 
  • Communicate in person. No, letters, memos, or emails. Words in black and white often don't work well when emotions are involved. Besides you wouldn't want to accidentally have that sensitive topic floating around the office.
  • Lead with positivity. Express your satisfaction with some aspect of what they bring to the company (hard work, good attitude, etc.) This will set a positive tone for the discussion.
  • Be brief. This will mostly likely be awkward for both of you. Especially if you are dealing with someone of the opposite sex. Tell them what you have notices and thank them for attending to the matter. "Sally, I understand that your position can be stressful at times and people handle it differently. This is awkward for me to say so I will be brief. I have noticed that you have body odor toward the end of the day. I want to bring this to your attention because we often don't notice these things about ourselves. I am sure you will attend to the matter and I look forward to seeing you tomorrow." SMILE.
  • Have this meeting at the end of the day. If you think they smell bad now, wait until they have to sit at their desk for the next six hours feeling completely mortified. Be kind, allow them to have a graceful exit and start fresh in the morning.
  • This should go without saying, but don't take anyone else's word for it. Make sure you have witnessed the odor you self. Hear say is not a good basis for embarking down this uncomfortable road. It is also important that you notice the odor from a reasonable distance. Remember sexual harassment? Stay away from that landmine.
So this was my thoughtful and hopefully common sense way of dealing with a sensitive workplace dilemma. How have you dealt with this scenario? 


What to do when there is no 2013 W-4

Every time you hire an employee you need a signed W-4 completed by the employee. For 2013 we have a bit of a dilema. The IRS has not made the 2013 W-4 available yet.

So what's an employer to do with with that new employee? Simple, use the 2012 document. Hopefully you have kept a blank copy of the 2012 W-4. It is no longer on the IRS site. Nor are there any clear instructions on what to do in the meantime. Let use common sense and stay calm. The purpose of the form is simple:

"Complete Form W-4 so that your employer can withhold the correct federal income tax from your pay. Consider completing a new Form W-4 each year and when your personal or financial situation changes." -IRS W-4 form instructions

As the employer, you are obligated to withhold taxes based on information taken from the employee's W-4 and keep that document on file in your office. The only time you should need it is if  the IRS or some other authorized government agency comes knocking on your door for an audit.

When the 2013 W-4 is made available by the IRS I will post a link for your convenience. You should then have employees complete the 2013 form. Other than that you will only need updated forms if the employee requests a change to their withholdings. As always, document everything.

What other forms and documents would you like quick links to from


Network like a job seeker for better employees

Employers, especially smaller ones must apply the advice given to job seekers when recruiting to fill a position. The reason we share the tactics listed below with young job seekers in particular is the same reason small businesses need to follow the same advice. Nobody is looking for you by name. President Obama will not have to look for a "job" after his 2nd term, opportunities will stacked a mile high. Legends like Phil Jackson have to tell teams that he will never coach again so he have some peace and quite. If you're not one of the big names in town or your industry you need to network like an unemployed college grad that was just dropped of in a foreign country with no money. Here's how.

  • Attend events where likely candidates may be like college campuses, trade association meetings and shows, the local chamber of commerce, etc.
  • Make friends with hiring managers/owners that have all the people they want and some you might like to have too. I'm not advocating poaching, just figure our where the good hires are coming from.
  • Ask others what they are asking in interviews to filter the best employees.
  • Interview all the time. It will help you hone your interview skills. By doing this you will build a pool of talent you can tap into when the need arises. Also, you may come across a person that is so good you create a position for them until the right one opens up. 
  • Leave an impression on candidates. Send them a thank you note for coming in. When their choice comes down to you and the big dog in your market who knows their stuff doesn't stink that note can tip things in your favor.
  • Develop a reputation. Publish articles and blog posts or leading a group on Linkedin. The more digital bread crumbs you leave the easier it is to build a flock of purposeful job seekers. 
  • Turn your staff into recruiters. If there is an underground job market that job seekers are told to pursue, there has to be a corresponding hidden talent pool. Employ your staff in such a way that they can't help but tell a friend.
We are all selling ourselves each day to potential clients and future employees. What is the most unorthodox way you have found an star employee?


Freedom from paper checks with paperless payroll

Going paperless may be one of the best ideas for your small business payroll. When everyone is on direct deposit why handout paper pay stubs. In addition to the environment, there are some practical performance benefits to take advantage of by ditching paper in your payroll process.

Green up your payroll: Paperless payroll means less paper consumption. Ok, we got the obvious one out of the way.

Increase employee privacy and security: Most identity theft doesn't happen online, it happens on paper. Unsecured paper with personal information is still the easiest way to bring a financial catastrophy to someone's wallet. If employees receive their net pay via direct deposit the corresponding pay stub is often left behind. The worst example shared with me was an employee admitting their glove compartment was overflowing with unopened pay stubs.

Archival: Do your employees, the payroll administrator, or yourself a favor; give your staff access to their stubs online. Employees can retrieve and reprint pay stubs on their own time from the leisure of their couch.

Employee Moral: While watching a dvd of Mad Men I a laughing at one employee who gets another employee's pay check by mistake. He can't resist, opens the check, and is thoroughly disappointed. Part of keeping employees happy and focused on the mission is keeping their individual pay private.

Paying employees accurately and promptly is foundational to maximizing performance. The more tools you can use to instill confidence the more people can focus on delivering the level of service that helps you stand out from the crowd.

Share your ideas on taking your pay stub to the cloud.