Manage your employees like athletes.

It’s baseball season – hopes are high, anything is possible. Is your team going to the World Series this year? Baseball managers are working hard to keep their teams motivated and playing their best. The season can be grueling. Six months of living out of a suitcase with only three or four days off per month. Managers need to be in tune with their team, and be ready to provide whatever support is needed to keep each player at optimal performance.

The Michael C. Fina blog provides some management insights that apply both on the field Baseballand in the office that we wanted to share with you:

“MVP Candidates  – Contrary to some, workplace superstars shouldn’t just be left alone because they’re exceptional. Your highest performing employees also need to be recognized for the jobs they do. Otherwise, they can begin to feel underappreciated after a while. Recognizing the star employees can also help raise the bar for lower-performing colleagues.

 Role Players – Every team has someone who can singlehandedly pull the group through difficult times, but not everyone relishes that spotlight. For every team leader who runs a project, there’s always a technological expert or proofreader whose behind the scenes responsibilities are equally as important. Great managers recognize and appreciate the individual efforts it takes for the team to be successful.

 Slumping Players – An overwhelming workload, diminished sense of purpose, or personal issues outside of work can result in employees who may struggle on occasion. Admittedly, it takes a manager’s keen eye to spot a slump; but two-way communication and extending a helping hand is the best method of getting an employee back on track sooner than later.”

Now, play ball!

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7 ways to reduce stress: Your employees are stressed out. And it’s costing you more than you think.

Profitability suffers when workers are overstressed. Loss of productivity, absenteeism, disengagement, turnover, and increased healthcare costs from the many health issues stress can cause like heart disease, obesity, depression, and diabetes just to name a few.

In a recent survey released by Keas, 41% of respondents report having above average Stress at worklevels of stress. Of those, 72% are women. The result of this stress is disengagement, with more than three in four employees reporting feeling unenthusiastic/disengaged or only generally satisfied with their job. And 40% say they are not getting enough sleep at night. To relieve the stress, 83% report that exercise increases their happiness and 66% regularly drink alcohol.

The good news for employers is that the survey also found employees who have a normal level of job-related stress have above average engagement, with 48% of respondents saying they are excited and engaged in their jobs. In the group of average stress respondents, 96% are happy at work and only 8% say work issues cause them to lose sleep.

Seeing signs of stress in your office? Here are seven ways to keep calm:

1. Clean up so you have a clutter-free work space to help you stay focused.

2. Take a walk. Get up, stretch and walk away for 10 minutes to clear your head and relax your body.

3. Turn off work and have a little “me time.” Doing something you love, or spending time with your family and completely disconnecting from work is important to keep your life in balance and helps reduce stress.

4. Take a deep breath. Deep breathing increases oxygen in the bloodstream, and has been shown to help clam your body and your mind.

5. Let it go. The past is the past. If you made a mistake, fix it and move on. Learn from it, but don’t let it consume you.

6. Set realistic goals. Scheduling too much for a day sets you up for stress and failure. Figure out what’s doable in a day, and break large projects into manageable tasks.

7. Get up and go. Get your big things done before 9am to set a positive, productive tone for the rest of the day.

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Marketplace Health Coverage Enrollment Deadline: March 31st. If you still need to enroll, use the online application.

If your company is not currently carrying group health insurance or an employee has not enrolled in private insurance the individual mandate to carry insurance still applies for 2014 and the government marketplace open enrollment is about to end.

If you don’t have health insurance, or would like to change your coverage, you still have time to apply. March 31 is the last day you can enroll in 2014 coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. With the deadline so close, use the online application to ensure your application is received before the deadline.

After March 31, you won’t be able to apply until the next open enrollment, unless you experience a qualifying life event.

Get more information on how to apply for health coverage.

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New Overtime Rules on the Horizon

President Barack Obama signed a presidential memorandum last week directing the Labor Department to develop new overtime rules. While the memorandum does not specify what the rules or new salary thresholds should be, it is directed to salaried workers who make more than the $455 a week threshold set by President Bush in 2004 who are ineligible for overtime because they are designated as management even though their supervisory duties are minimal. The new rules would make more workers eligible for time-and-a-half pay for their extra hours of work.

“Unfortunately, today millions of American aren’t getting the extra pay they deserve,” Obama said during a White House ceremony attended by workers and employers.

Under current rules, if an employer declares that an employee’s primary responsibility is executive, such as overseeing a cleanup crew, then that worker can be exempted from overtime. The new rules could require that employees perform a minimum percentage of “executive” work before they can be exempted from qualifying for overtime pay.

Jared Bernstein, the former chief economic adviser to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., and the former executive director of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class, embraced Mr. Obama’s move. “I think the intent of the rule change is to make sure that people working overtime are fairly treated,” he said. “I think a potential side effect is that you may see more hiring in order to avoid overtime costs, which would be an awfully good thing right about now.”

Marc Freedman, executive director of Labor Law Policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, shared an opposing option stating, “Similar to minimum wage, these changes in overtime rules will fall most harshly on small and medium-sized businesses, who are already trying to figure out the impact of Obamacare on them.”

A proposed rule is not expected until the fall.

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Two ACA Employer Reporting Rules Finalized March 10, 2014

The final rules for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continue to be released. On March 3, the Affordable-Care-Act-March-10U.S. Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued the finalized version of two reporting rules for businesses with 50 or more employees.

Both rules, the Information Reporting by Applicable Large Employers: Health Insurance Coverage Offered Under Employer-Sponsored Plans and Information Reporting of Minimum Essential Coverage, serve as instructions for any employers required to provide minimum essential health coverage on how to report information according to Sections 6055 and 6056 of the Internal Revenue Code.

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HR continues to get more complex.

The Cincinnati Business Courier recently posted an article about five HR issues that demand your immediate attention:  Cyberharassment and social media; the use of personal devices for work; misclassification of employees; the Affordable Care Act; and wage and hour lawsuits. Four Sheakley experts contributed to the story, representing four perspectives on HR today – operations (Rober Sinkhorn, COO), HR (Eleni Liston, VP Human Resource), legal (Harry Lydon, General Councel) and compliance (Sheila Schooley, Senior HR Consultant). Read the full article here.

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Final regulations addressing health care reform’s employer mandate are released.

The IRS recently issued final regulations for the employer shared responsibility provision, commonly referred to as the “Pay or Play” mandate, of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Two pieces of the mandate were affected, transitional relief and eligibility waiting period requirements. While the new rules for 2015 are similar to those currently implemented, they do throw in a few surprises.

Our partner, HORAN, has developed an overview of what the final regulations mean to you regarding the Pay or Play mandate and the eligibility waiting period requirements.

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Remember when gas surcharges were implemented? Now customers may need to pay a surcharge for ACA, too.

ACA-SurchargeHow can employers afford the Affordable Care Act (ACA)? Ask their customers to help. One small business in Florida plans to pass the extra costs onto customers with a 1 percent ACA surcharge. Why would they do this? A sign at the restaurant answers this question. “The costs associated with ACA compliance could ultimately close our doors. Instead of raising prices on our products to generate the additional revenue needed to cover the costs of ACA compliance, certain Gator’s Dockside locations have implemented a 1% surcharge on all food and beverage purchases only.”

Click here to read more from CNN.

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Did you just hire a job hopper?

Every employer wants to retain good employees. Finding new employees is expensive, and when employees leave, there’s not only the time that needs to be spent to find a replacement, but also the lost productivity of a vacant position.

You can protect yourself by asking the right questions during the interview process.

job-hoppersFirst, while you’re screening resumes, note the time an applicant has spent at each previous position. If you see a trend of less than two years at the last several companies, you don’t necessarily need to remove them from your selection set. However, you do need address the issue.

Next, during the interview process, ask questions that allow the applicant to explain their history of short tenures. Questions you can ask (and be sure to ask every applicant the same questions) include:

  • Why are you here?
  • What is it about this position that you find interesting?
  • Why did you leave your other jobs?
  • What did you like best about your previous positions?
  • Did you try talking to your previous employers about issues before applying for new positions?
  • What aspects of your job did you not like in previous positions?

These questions can help you gain insight into whether the applicant was working to better themselves (which is a good thing), if their early departures were from factors beyond their control (like the economic downturn, or the company needing to scale back), or they truly are a job hopper and you can expect them to be looking to move on after about a year so in a new position with you.

Then, talking to references and previous employers to round out the story will help you make a good decision. If previous employers confirm the applicant did not leave amicably, or did not pursue opportunities within the company before applying elsewhere, consider yourself warned.

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H-1B Work Visa Petitions on Behalf of Foreign Employees Begin April 1, 2014

If you have not already started preparing, it’s time to get ready to file an H-1B work visa petition if you have foreign employees who need sponsorship for long-term work authorization in the U.S.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting H-1B work visa petitions on April 1, 2014. With an annual limit of 65,000 H-1B spots available each year for foreign nationals with bachelor’s degrees and an additional 20,000 for those holding U.S. master’s degrees, it is critical to have your application in on April 1. Why so soon? In 2013, the available H-1B spots were filled within seven days, and with the economy rebounding, there is reason to believe this year the spots will be filled even faster.

As an employer, before you file an H-1B petition with USCIS, you must register the company with the Department of Labor (DOL), post required notices, and obtain DOL certification of a Labor Condition Application. If not already in place, these prerequisite steps can take up to three or four weeks, so the time to act is now! And, make sure you work with an experienced business immigration attorney to ensure all prerequisites and application requirements are met.

USCIS offers more information about understating H-1B Requirements here.

The full application process and legal requirements are outlined on USCIS’s website.

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