If you haven’t applied for a PPP loan yet, you’re in luck—the deadline to apply has just been extended! Get started by filling out the borrower application form here.
On Saturday evening, July 4th, President Donald Trump signed into law a temporary extension for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The legislation was signed hours after the previous deadline for applications lapsed. The original deadline was June 30th but $130 billion still remained in the fund of the $660 billion allocated. Now, the deadline has been pushed to August 8th, 2020 to give small business owners more time.
The program was created back in March to support small businesses affected by the fallout of COVID-19; lawmakers have modified it twice since, adding money on one occasion and more recently permitting more flexible use of the funding. In early June, the president signed the PPP Reform Bill which gave small business owners more flexibility and longer-term support. You can learn more about the PPP Reform Bill here.
It’s hard to believe that just a few short months ago, our country’s unemployment rate was at an all time low. Pre-pandemic, keeping employees happy often involved pricey company perks like free gourmet lunches, massages, and elite gym memberships. Now because of COVID-19, our entire world has changed: unemployment is soaring and non-essential teams have gone remote (and may remain remote). The entire US workforce and workplace has dramatically changed, which means what we offer our employees in terms of benefits has to undergo a dramatic change as well. Today we’ll go over creative solutions to help shift your benefits package to suit the new economic environment.
For employers, it’s absolutely vital to alter your current benefits package in order to adapt to the current economic climate. Choosing not to do so could leave your company in the dust. In the coming months, as companies begin cautiously opening up offices and rehiring, they’ll face the challenge of potential employees viewing these slimmed down benefit packages as weak. It’s important to strike the right balance of not overspending in this new normal, while maintaining an attractive benefits package. We’ve also found that many employers cut spending in the wrong places because they aren’t aware of important tax opportunities and fail to take advantage of them.
How to Avoid
A lot of employers have been spending over 80% of the employees’ health insurance premiums on expensive plans. You can still offer full health coverage but switching down to silver plans in lieu of gold can cut costs by as much as 20%. Health insurance is a big line item on most employer’s profit and losses statements. It’s typically in the top three, right behind rent and salaries. Being able to change employer contributions and trim 20% out of employer costs is a huge opportunity right now.
At the same time inexpensive benefit plans can be added with minimal to no cost. Employees value plans like dental, vision, life insurance, and employer sponsored disability insurance. Plans that feature these can help employers round out their offerings without being a high cost item.
At the end of the day, don’t sell your benefits package short. Sometimes offering an appealing benefits package is all about how it’s presented. Creating a benefits brochure that points out both the obvious and hidden benefits offered can help current and potential employees understand the full scope of their benefits package.
There is also another great tool called a hidden paycheck. What a hidden paycheck statement does is give the employee an overview of all the money that the employer is spending on them—like taxes, health insurance, retirement plans, and other fringe benefits. For example, if an employee makes $60,000 a year, there’s a good probability they are only pocketing $3,500 a month. On this employee’s hidden paycheck statement, they would see everything the employer is spending on them, often totaling up to as much as $80,000 a year. Employees can then gain a greater sense of their value to the company rather than looking at their $3,500 take home pay.
The opportunity here is to modify plans and contributions based on the current economic environment. Get creative in building your benefit package, use voluntary plans, use ancillary plans, and lastly, shift employee perks to support work from home needs.
You’ll find that many of the traditional perks like company lunches, free snacks in the office, or commuter stipends, are no longer useful, and won’t be viewed favorably. Shifting perks to include things like virtual fitness memberships, mental health and telemedicine, wellness checks, childcare options, are what employees will value going forward.
Finally and maybe most importantly is adding a work from home policy in your benefits package. Many teams have gone remote without a noticeable drop in productivity. This means employees both know it’s possible to work efficiently from home and want to continue working from home. Including a work from home policy in the benefit package is going to be vital for most employers going forward to continue to attract top talent.
As we mentioned at the beginning, this is not a one size fits all. There’s no cookie cutter or plug and play approach, every industry and every situation is going to be unique. It’s important for employers to work with someone who can bring fresh ideas, understand the market, understand the industry and can bring real solutions.
A few weeks ago we updated you on the changes made to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) in the PPP reform bill. The revisions are designed to give small business owners more flexibility and time to use and pay off their PPP loan. With the June 30th deadline drawing near, here’s a friendly reminder to apply so you don’t miss out on this opportunity.
In these unprecedented times, employers are forced to make difficult decisions around how much of their team they can sustainably keep on. Unfortunately, when teams working remotely, the first department that seems easiest to trim down is the HR department. Once the HR department is eliminated or whittled down, it leaves employers without the tools or resources they need to navigate the pandemic and vulnerable to litigation. Before eliminating your HR department outright, we’d advise seeking out creative solutions that can help keep the functional use of your HR team while keeping within your budget.
Google can not replace a trained HR professional. Which of us hasn’t quickly typed an HR or payroll question into Google and found the answer that we needed? But be warned, Google is good until it’s not. Letting Google be your HR department can easily lead to large claims and getting sued by employees.
The employee/employer environment is as litigious as ever, making the wrong moves can come back to bite you. Add a pandemic with constantly updating rules and regulations to the mix and you have a real recipe for disaster. In our future post-COVID world, many employees who have exhausted unemployment may look for ways to get more compensation which could lead them to file claims against former employers.
How to Avoid
Don’t fire your HR team. It sounds simple but many business owners are trying to save every dollar they can and when making difficult cuts, HR can seem non-essential in the short run. This couldn’t be further from the truth, we believe it may be the most vital time in the history of your business to have a strong HR person(s). With so many new regulations, you need a trained HR professional to help you navigate the complex policies. Trust us, it will ultimately save you a ton of time, frustration, and money.
Right now is the time to make sure you have all your ducks in a row by completing an HR audit. Even if you still have a full-time HR person, a CorpStrat HR representative can help you take a good look at your HR infrastructure, discover any vulnerabilities, and find ways to improve on it. In times of crisis, it’s important to find creative, sustainable solutions. For example, if you can’t afford to keep on your entire HR department during the pandemic, there may be a way to combine fewer HR team members with an HR outsourcing firm to maximize efficiency and stay financially viable.
Hire a good labor law attorney—it’s worth the added expense. A good labor law attorney can help employers avoid a lot of headaches. Many business owners hire HR consulting firms and assume that they are compliant but not all HR consulting firms are created equal. Without a labor law attorney, you could unknowingly be overlooking important legal documents and leave yourself open to litigation. This is why we’ve included unlimited phone and email support with a labor law attorney in our CorpStrat HR Plus and Pro services.
There’s no doubt about it: our workplaces are going to look very different post-COVID-19. This might mean keeping some of your team remote indefinitely, changing the layout of your offices, or switching up your workflow to fall in line with health and safety guidelines. We can’t force things back to how they were but we can focus on setting you and your employees up for success in the “new normal”.
A few weeks ago, we gave a webinar on “Effective Ways to Manage Employees in a Remote Environment” in which we shared how companies can streamline their HR processes and maintain company culture. We’re excited to bring you the webinar in four parts: Workforce Automation, the New HR, Benefit Package and Company Culture.
Part 1: Workforce Automation
According to Capterra, 91% of professionals who work at small and medium sized businesses say workforce automation software is crucial, but almost 58% of them are not using it. That’s a huge gap. In our post-COVID-19 new normal, we believe more teams will adopt work from home policies which will make automated HR management software even more necessary.
What’s the danger of not having a workforce automation system? Companies have done it the old-fashioned way with paper for over 50 years. What’s the fuss?
The reality is too many things can fall through the cracks. The fact is, relying on paper processes when you have a remote team becomes inefficient very quickly. A simple paid time off (PTO) request can mean piles of paperwork, redundant requests, and scrambling to calculate accrued balances—all leaving opportunities for potential oversight. With the technology available today, it’s a no-brainer to make the switch to an automated workforce system. With an automated system in place, your employees can submit a paperless request via their self-service portal, their time gets deducted, and it automatically updates in payroll.
How to Avoid
Help your employees help you by giving them self-service logins that allow them to access and edit their information. There’s a dual-sided benefit: if employees are able to make edits to their W4, change their address, view and sign items, submit PTO requests, and enroll in benefit plans, then they’ll feel empowered AND it will relieve the stress of managing manual processes.
In addition to making things run more smoothly, there’s also an opportunity to eliminate potential lawsuits. Instead of worrying that employees can cite “you never told me”, you can keep track of everything in one database. This ensures nothing gets lost in the mix. Integrating employee lifecycle events into one system means that events are readily accessible at all times.
We’ve seen many employers embrace workforce automation, but only in part. The market is filled with systems that offer piecemeal solutions: some just do new employee on-boarding, others only do benefit enrollment. Adopting separate services that don’t work together creates more manual work for your team.
We think employers should focus on making sure to streamline all employee lifecycle events into a single database that connects payroll and employee benefits into one system and has a powerful mobile application.
Interested in streamlining your workforce automation? Schedule a call with a CorpStrat agent: email@example.com
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