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Back off my retirement plan, Illinois!

back-off-ILDid you know that Illinois-based businesses with more than 25 employees will be forced to enroll their employees in a state-run retirement plan, unless you offer one yourself? The Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program Act was signed into law in January 2015 and is expected to be enforced starting in 2017.

While the idea of offering a retirement option to employees is appealing to all, there may be a less burdensome and more cost effective way for small business employers to offer this benefit without enrolling in a mandated state-run program. For example, Tandem HR – a Chicago area PEO – offers their small and mid-sized clients a multiple employer retirement plan. This allows their clients to avoid the state’s involvement, while offering a very attractive savings program.

The top 3 benefits to adopting a multiple employer retirement plan vs. the state sponsored option: Read more…

Manager Tip of the Week: Reducing Frustrations

Why do I have to do it all the time? Why can’t someone else do it? Am I the only one who can get things right around here?

These are common questions we ask ourselves when we are frustrated. Frustration is a normal response to feeling overwhelmed. The problem comes when we fail to take any action to reduce our frustrations. Many managers I coach don’t even realize they’ve fallen into this pattern until I ask them, “What are you doing about it?” Then we begin to discuss what they can do to eliminate the frustrations.

If you find yourself frustrated often and would like to reduce these frustrations, try these three simple tips:

  1. Make a list. The act of creating a written list will help you see things in the bigger picture. In that list, ensure you include how you may be contributing to the problem. This act will lend itself well to generating new ideas and alternatives to reduce the frustrations.
  1. Focus on the solution instead of who’s to blame. If you are bothered that you are the one who always gets stuck loading the copy machine with paper, find out if anybody has been assigned the task of copier maintenance.  Ask them if you can help them find a way to eliminate the paper outages. Or, you may discover the task was left unassigned and needs an owner. Focus on what actions you can take as opposed what actions others are not taking.
  1. Manage your expectations. Expecting everything to go as planned all of the time is not realistic. We work with people – real humans – who may tend to forget things and even disappoint us once in a while. Anticipating that life sometimes throws us curve balls, will help reduce many of our frustrations when they arrive.

For more techniques to reduce frustrations and stress, contact Tom Figiel at or 312.914.1341.FigielCoaching-Logo-150

Are EAPs Worth the Investment?

As businesses work to increase productivity and profitability, arguably the most valuable asset is its employees. Without efficient and focused workers, an organization will not operate effectively.  As a result, many businesses offer employee assistance programs so that employees can effectively address personal concerns as well as receiving assistance in finding needed resources of all types. Are EAPs a good idea? Do employers really see benefit when making EAP services available in the workplace?

Why Implement EAPs?

EAPs have been in existence since the first half of last century, when the primary focus was to reduce substance and alcohol abuse in the workplace. Today EAPs assist with a variety of issues including stress, anger management, depression, anxiety, relationship problems, as well as other personal concerns.

EAPs typically provide additional supports such as legal and financial consultation, assistance with locating resources such as daycare and elder care resources and home maintenance and repair. In a recent study of HR executives, unscheduled work absences related to stress had increased by 316% in a five-year period. Stress-related employee absences can be reduced when employees learn skills to effectively manage both workplace and home stressors, ultimately providing benefit for both the employee and the workplace.

Impact of EAPs in the Workplace

So, do EAPs really provide a worthwhile return on investment? The short answer is ‘yes.’  Although some critics cite the lack of controlled research studies, most of the numerous outcome studies examining EAP ROI show a positive return ranging from $3 to $10 per dollar spent on EA services (Attridge , 2009). A number of factors come into play when Read more…

How to Tell if You Need a PEO

As a business owner, you are responsible for an overwhelming number of tasks. Many of these tasks require knowledge and expertise in areas unfamiliar to you. Let’s be honest, this isn’t why you started your business in the first place. You started your business because of your passion and desire to build a thriving and profitable enterprise.

So what’s weighing you down? One of the biggest challenges experienced by business owners is HR related tasks. Thousands of small and mid-sized businesses are engaging with Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs), such as Tandem HR as a solution to these challenges.

Here’s when you can benefit from a PEO relationship:

Administration of your people is taking more time out of your day than your primary job.

Do you cringe when you hear the words ‘payroll’ or ‘employment law compliance’? These issues are very important and lack of proper attention or a seemingly small mistake can lead to big problems, including the possibility of costly penalties. You’re probably spending way too much time dealing with and worrying about these critical areas!HR Admin work

A PEO can provide you with a complete HR infrastructure, which includes specialists in human resources, payroll, benefits and risk management. These services are provided at a fraction of the cost required to bring them in house.

The thought of shopping for or administrating benefits makes you want to jump off a bridge.

There are so many benefits options in the marketplace. Which will your employees value the most? Which products are dependable and from reputable companies? Why is there such a disparity in pricing? Is the coverage ACA compliant? What percentage of medical costs do most employers cover? Eliminate the need to spend hours shopping and negotiating benefits by partnering with a PEO.

After your benefits packages are established, a PEO will take full responsibility for administering your benefits. In addition to new employee orientations, your PEO will host annual benefit renewal meetings to help educate your employees and ensure timely enrollment. The PEO also assists with benefit claims issues, acting as an advocate on behalf of your employees with the insurance carriers.

You’re unable to compete for and retain key talent – losing great resources to your competitors.

A major incentive for potential employees is the benefits package. Today, benefits go well beyond Read more…

The Compliant Layoff

Following proper and compliant procedures during the layoff or firing process is essential to preventing legal trouble. Every organization should make managers aware of guidelines that will ensure legal practices. There are many laws that protect employees. For example, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) protects workers, their families, and communities by requiring most employers with 100 or more employees to provide notification 60 calendar days in advance of plant closings and mass layoffs.

Here are our top 10 guidelines when performing layoffs in order to remain compliant and minimize liability for your company:

  1. Communicate the changes in your company. If you’re able to provide advance notice that layoffs are inevitable, do so. There may be rare instances of voluntary resignation. At the very least, this will give your employees a chance to process the likelihood of a layoff, resulting in a more well-managed reaction when the time comes. If you’re unable to give advance notice, communicate the changes right after the layoffs.
  2. Treat them with dignity. Allow employees to say goodbye to co-workers. If they are particularly emotional, offer a chance to come back and clean their desks at a later time, or offer to ship their personal effects. How you treat employees (both the ones leaving and the ones staying) will set the tone for morale during this economic storm.
  3. Be sympathetic. This can be an emotional turbulence for all parties involved, including management’s. Consider everyone’s feelings and repercussions.
  4. Select carefully. Make sure you are not setting yourself up for a lawsuit by eliminating a group of people from a protected class (race, gender, sexual orientation, age), close to retirement, with outstanding claims against Read more…

Manager Tip of the Week: Future Focused Feedback

Why would you do something like that? Why didn’t you take care of it like we discussed two weeks ago?

What’s your reaction when your manager asks why you did something in the past? Usually, the first thing we try to do is recall what your manager is even talking about, but who really remembers exactly what we were doing two weeks ago? Sometimes in these situations, you recall events differently than your manager does and feel compelled to take a defensive position. It’s normal to react this way as your natural fight or flight responses kick in. You question your manager on the past issue and they provide their retort. This can go on and on, resulting in wasted time, hurt feelings and a loss of trust.the problem with asking why blog

The problem with asking “why?” is it focuses on the past. What’s done is done and we are all familiar with the negative effects of dwelling on the past. This can be avoided when a manager maintains a future focus. For example:

  • Going forward, please put the data in the spreadsheet using the formulas provided.
  • I noticed you missed a few things we talked about in the initial meeting. In the future, I would suggest taking notes so you can recall it later.

These future-focused phrases allow your employee Read more…

3 Ways To Boost Participant Confidence In Your 401K Plan

Ten years after the Pension Protection Act was enacted to provide innovative plan designs and tools to assist employees in preparing for their future, there still seems to be a significant discrepancy in the way employers and employees view retirement preparedness. BlackRock, a US based global investment firm, recently released a 2016 DC Pulse Survey confirming this gap.  Among the 200 plan sponsors and 1003 plan participants surveyed, there is an obvious inconsistency between what employers think their employees know and the reality of that knowledge or lack thereof.


While 55% of participants believe their employer should do more to assist them in preparing for retirement, what exactly are they looking for? According to the BlackRock study, participants want several things that will boost their confidence in their retirement savings plan including:

  1. Help determining how much to contribute. Not only is it imperative to maintain a retirement goal, but it is essential to periodically assess whether the goal needs adjusting. What a participant may deem as a reasonable retirement savings goal when he or she is in their 20’s and single, may not be realistic after starting a family, experiencing lifestyle changes and accounting for inflation. Additionally, participants may not think of scenarios like rising healthcare or prescription costs and know to adjust accordingly. Participants are looking for guidance on factors that will influence goal numbers and confirmation that goals are appropriate and on target.

Read more…


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