If you are currently not outsourcing your payroll, it may be because you feel that doing so will cause your Human Resources office to lose a bit of its personal touch.  After all, it seems ideal to have a Human Resources office full of warm and friendly staff, eager and willing to help your employees with whatever they need.  Unfortunately, this ideal is not realistic for many companies.  For financial reasons, businesses today tend to have small Human Resources offices, and the staff working there are often drowning in paperwork to the point where internal customer service can no longer be their first priority.

By outsourcing your payroll, you will see a variety of benefits for your company. First, it will free up a tremendous amount of time amongst your Human Resources staff.  This will give them the ability to focus on locating the best new talent for your organization, as well as training, developing, and retaining them once they become employees.  They can also focus more on good employee relations and being available at all times during the work day to handle questions and concerns.

Next, outsourcing your payroll will allow your Human Resources staff more time to make sure they are up to date on all federal policies regarding fair labor and employee benefits.  This is of ultimate benefit to your company, as it will help prevent innocent mistakes that can result in hefty financial penalties.   Finally, you will be able to assign your Human Resources employees new tasks they would not have had the time to complete prior to the payroll outsourcing.  For example, they can collect and analyze data regarding employee time and attendance, training completion, and recruitment efficacy.  This shift in the main duties of Human Resources employees is rapidly becoming the industry standard.

 

If you have decided that outsourcing your payroll will be a good choice for your business, you may be wondering how to find a company that is right for you.  Below are some tips to help you get started in your search.

  • *Don’t necessarily seek out the larger payroll companies simply because of name recognition.  These organizations may bundle services into their packages that you simply do not need, resulting in a higher monthly charge.  The best way to search for payroll companies is by obtaining references from other businesses in the area which are similar to yours.
  • *Make a list of everything you will need from a payroll company in advance. For example, think about how frequently you want paychecks distributed and if you want them to handle employee benefit deductions such as 401(k)s.  You should also consider if you want your payroll company to file taxes on your behalf, as not all companies do so.
  • *Be sure you have a clear understanding of the payroll company’s pricing system.  Some charge by the month, while other charge per pay period.
  • *Be sure to compare the pricing and services of several companies so you can feel certain you are not being overcharged for services you consider to be must-haves.  Also inquire how frequently your fees may increase.
  • *It is a huge bonus if the payroll company can integrate with your existing payroll software, both for a seamless transition and for your continued ability to access payroll data quickly.  If your preferred company cannot integrate with your software, ask for specific plans regarding the transfer or data, as well as how often you can expect to receive reports from the company.
  • Ask about the hours and methods of reaching the payroll company’s customer service.  It is a good idea to test the customer service by calling with questions at various times when they should be available.

If you are a small business owner with a growing company, you may have reached a point where it is no longer possible for you to handle human resources duties on your own.  If so, it is time to make a decision on how to move forward. Should you hire someone to handle your Human Resource processes or outsource them to a payroll company?  Below are some benefits of each method.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of outsourcing your payroll is a guarantee of legal compliance and accuracy.  Payroll companies are much less likely to make basic mathematical or tax-related errors that can cost your business financial penalties, and if they do make a mistake, it is built into most contracts that their company will incur the costs.  Another huge benefit is time savings, as you will no longer have to deal with the administrative work that comes along with payroll.  Finally, depending on your company size, outsourcing your payroll can be much less expensive than the cost of hiring an experienced full-time Human Resources professional for your office.

On the other hand, if you are someone who prefers working with someone one-on-one on a daily basis, you may prefer keeping your payroll in house.  A full time staff member will be available instantly to advise you, help you plan for your future staff development and training, and be a sounding board for your ideas.  Furthermore, you may find that recent advancements in payroll software make the payroll process more manageable for your office.  Additionally, using your own payroll processing software in-house gives you instant access to any data and reports you might need.  Ultimately, this decision will be a personal one based on your management style and what you feel is best for your company.

If you have decided to outsource your payroll, you may be concerned about how this will impact the ability of your employees to obtain information about their employee benefits and have their questions answered in a timely fashion.  One way to alleviate this concern is to seek out a payroll company which offers an employee benefits portal.  This is a secure website which allows your employees access to their benefits details, company information, and educational content 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  There are many benefits to choosing a service which provides a self-service portal.

First, the self-service portal helps employees access valuable information anytime.  For example, if an employee falls ill in the middle of the night, she can use the portal to determine if the closest urgent care center or hospital is covered by her health insurance. Or, if an employee is paying bills over the weekend and realizes he needs a flexible spending reimbursement form for a prescription he just picked up, he can easily access the portal and print it out.  It can also make the process of renewing benefits from year to year a quick and easy experience for everyone.

Additionally, as an employer, you can be assured that implementing this system is making your business more efficient.  First, it is environmentally friendly as the thick employee benefits booklets you printed previously will no longer be needed.  Next, by streamlining the benefits process you will be freeing up time for your Human Resources staff to focus more on the recruitment and retention of your employees.  Finally, you can be assured that all of your employees are receiving consistent and accurate information about their benefits and health.  Ultimately, your investment in their wellbeing will be rewarded with higher morale and decreased absenteeism.

A branch of cloud computing, Software as a Service (SAAS) is a software delivery model in which the software and all of its associated data are stored, hosted, and managed by a service provider’s datacenter.  The client then pays the service provider a subscription fee to access their information over the internet.

If you are considering adopting an SAAS model for your payroll outsourcing, know it has a number of advantages.

  • Savings for your Business- With SAAS, you can move away from the expense of having in-house information technology employees to handle the installation, maintenance, upgrades, and technical support needed for traditional software.
  • On-the-Go Accessibility- SAAS applications can be accessed from any internet connected web browser, allowing you to work with the information from anywhere with a variety of desktop and hand-held mobile devices.
  • Scalability- Should your company grow and more people need access to the SAAS application, you can simply adjust your subscription as necessary and let your vendor handle the rest.  This eliminates the time and hassle of adding server capacity and paying for additional software licenses which will come with traditional software.
  • Easy to Upgrade- Your SAAS vendor will handle all necessary hardware and software updates to keep your application current.  As a bonus, you will find that SAAS software is typically updated much more frequently than traditional software programs.  You can expect to receive updates quarterly, if not more often.
  • Eliminate the Fear of Lost Data- Should a disaster strike in your office which causes your servers to be destroyed or wiped of memory, you can rest easy knowing that your data is safely backed up in the cloud.
  • Security- Your SAAS vendor will be happy to discuss information regarding the security of your data by outlining their policies on the encryption, auditing, logging, back-up, and safe-guarding of their systems.

The ability to complete your payroll in a timely and accurate manner is essential to running a small business successfully.  In order to establish trust with and commitment from your employees, they need to be assured that they will be paid the correct amount on the predetermined dates without error or delay.  In addition, mistakes made in payroll calculations can quickly topple your company’s financial stability.  If you are feeling overwhelmed by the magnitude of payroll completion, below are some best practices for small business owners.

  • Put all employees on the same pay cycle.  Payroll is one area of your business where you do not want employees to multitask.  Having some workers who are paid monthly and some who are paid every other week not only creates extra work for those processing payroll, but it can cause sufficient confusion as to result in duplication errors.  Your business definitely does not want to be known for accidentally paying people twice, or not paying them at all.
  • Make sure all of your software is fully integrated.  You do not want to purchase a software system for your payroll unless you know that it will fully meld with the software you already have in place.  Otherwise, you will lose valuable time and money data entering current information into the new system, and in the future, someone will have to place new entries into two different systems.  In all of this, you clearly run the risk of mistyping key information crucial for filing local, state, or federal taxes.
  • Consider outsourcing.  A wonderful way for a small business owner to achieve peace of mind regarding their payroll is to leave it to the experts by outsourcing to a payroll services company.  Outsourcing your payroll will ensure accuracy in records of employee pay, leave balances, benefits deductions, and tax filing.

The vast majority of workplaces in the United States fall under the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).  Per their website, the NLRB is “an independent federal agency vested with the power to safeguard employees’ rights to organize and to determine whether to have unions as their bargaining representative.”  The NLRB also “acts to prevent and remedy unfair labor practices committed by private sector employers and unions.”

It is very important for employers to review their employee handbooks each year and make sure that their company’s policies are in line with the regulations implemented by the NLRB.  This review will be particularly important in the coming year, as the NLRB is currently reviewing the legality of many long-standing labor policies in nonunionized workplaces.  Largely, they are focusing on policies that can be considered overly broad or could be interpreted as infringing on employee rights.  These include:

  • Policies requiring “respectful” or “appropriate” conduct without defining what these mean.
  • Policies prohibiting “gossiping” or “fraternization” between employees without defining what these mean.
  • Confidentiality policies which restrict employees from discussing their salaries or any company disciplinary actions against them.
  • Policies involving in-house grievance procedures.
  • Dress codes which disallow wearing union insignia.
  • Policies limiting employee social media use.
  • Anti-bullying policies which are so broad they can be interpreted as limiting free speech.
  • Policies prohibiting employees from “disparaging” their employer without defining what this means.
  • Policies which disallow “inappropriate” online postings without defining what this means.

As you can see, labor relations law has a great deal of complexity to it.  The best way to make sure your company is fully in compliance is to have an attorney specializing in this field review your company’s policies.  A good place to start is by giving a thorough review to any policies that deal with employee verbal or written communication.

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, commonly known as COBRA, is a federal law which outlines how employees and their family members may elect for continuation of health care coverage under an employer for a limited period of time after their coverage is lost due to reduction in hours worked, voluntary or involuntary job loss, divorce, death, or other life events.  Employers with group health plans and 20 employees or more are required to offer this temporary extension of health coverage.  It is estimated that approximately 20% of eligible employees utilize their option for COBRA.

At its most basic, administering COBRA requires employers to notify employees and their families of their COBRA options, reinstate health plans to those who elect to use COBRA, and calculate and collect the premiums required of those individuals.  However, if you examine the law more closely, you will notice that the legal requirements involved are quite detailed.  Even the most diligent employee could easily miscalculate while tracking the steps involved.  Some common mistakes include keeping inadequate records, failing to send notices in a timely manner, or not offering participants the option to add or change coverage during their open enrollment period.  Unfortunately, mistakes related to COBRA administration can be very costly to your organization.  Both the United States Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service can issue fines for noncompliance, at the rates of $110 and $100 per day, respectively.

These are just some of the reasons COBRA administration is one of the most commonly outsourced functions within Human Resources.  A survey by the Society for Human Resource Management showed that 55 percent of companies outsource all or some COBRA functions, with 38 percent outsourcing COBRA completely.  Benefits of outsourcing COBRA administration include minimizing your risk of costly tracking errors, being assured of your legal compliance, and the freeing of time for your Human Resources team to work on other tasks.  Outsourcing is especially recommended for companies with a high number of employees and/or a high turnover rate.

NETCHEX NAMED AS FINALIST IN

2014 STEVIE® AWARDS FOR SALES & CUSTOMER SERVICE

 8th annual awards will be presented on February 21 in Las Vegas

[Mandeville, La] – January 23, 2014 – Netchex has been named a Finalist for Customer Service Department of the Year in the eighth annual Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service, and will ultimately be a Gold, Silver, or Bronze Stevie Award winner in the program.

More than 1,500 nominations from organizations of all sizes and in virtually every industry were evaluated in this year’s international competition. Finalists were determined by the average scores of 129 professionals worldwide, acting as preliminary judges.

Netchex’s submission for its Customer Service Department highlighted the team’s achievements in 2012 and 2013, including overcoming a hurricane, organizing trainings for our client conference and instituting a new, company-wide customer relationship management system. The team, which is consistently credited with Netchex’s 97% client-retention rate, accomplished these feats while handling an average of 700 phone inquiries every week.

“Our customer service group is the heart of Netchex,” said Netchex CEO Will Boudeaux. “From day one of our business, they have been a true difference in our ability to earn and keep long-term clients.  Their focus on personal needs and business goals, coupled with technology and leadership, has allowed them to not only scale, but thrive as we have grown.  To have a Stevie Award earned by this group is validation that their hard work and dedication to our customers is not only important, but recognized.”

More than 100 members of seven specialized judging committees will determine the Gold, Silver and Bronze Stevie Award placements from among the Finalists during final judging, to take place January 27 – February 5.

The awards are presented by the Stevie Awards, which organizes several of the world’s leading business awards shows including the prestigious International Business Awards and the new Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards.

The final results will be announced during a gala banquet on Friday, February 21 at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Finalists from the U.S.A. and several other nations are expected to attend.

“In a record-breaking year for nominations, the judges saw extraordinary quality in the achievements portrayed in these Finalist nominations,” said Michael Gallagher, president and founder of the Stevie Awards.  “The final judges should enjoy reading and evaluating such a treasure trove of excellent work.”

“This award is a product of the hard work and dedication of each and every one of our team members – from our leaders and trainers to our newest representatives, “ said Customer Service Department Manager Chris Roig. “Congratulations to the award winning Netchex Service Team!”

Details about the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service and the list of Finalists in all categories are available at www.StevieAwards.com/Sales.

About Netchex

Mandeville-based Netchex was founded by two St. Tammany residents in 2003 and has quickly grown into an industry leader in web-based payroll, human resource, benefits and time and labor management services. Netchex has been listed on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing, privately owned businesses in the country for the past years.

About The Stevie Awards
Stevie Awards are conferred in five programs: the Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards, The American Business Awards, The International Business Awards, the Stevie Awards for Women in Business, and the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service.  A sixth program, the German Stevie Awards, will debut later this year.  Honoring organizations of all types and sizes and the people behind them, the Stevies recognize outstanding performances in the workplace worldwide.  Learn more about The Stevie Awards at www.StevieAwards.com.

Sponsors and supporters of the eighth annual Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service include the BusinessTalkRadio Network, Competence Call Center, and ValueSelling Associates.

A strategic plan is essentially a set of goals for your company’s future.  For example, if you want to diversify your company, you may set a goal of buying another business in an area in which you would like to expand, or developing new products for your company to sell.  If you want to improve your company’s cash flow, you may decide to change customer payment terms or hold less inventory in your warehouses.  Similarly, Human Resource planning is also considering what your business will need in the future.  Some of the ways they do this is by reviewing the cost of employee benefits plans, evaluating the return on investment of voluntary employee benefits, and verifying you are in compliance with all federal and state laws regarding employment and labor.  When the two are considered together, it is clear that Human Resources staff is needed to carry out any item in a company’s strategic plan.  In fact, their activities are essential.

There are some major ways in which your Human Resources team can assist you with implementing your strategic goals.  One is through impact assessments.  If you are considering a new idea, Human Resources can provide you with the costs involved in implementing it in terms of hiring new employees, overtime pay for current employees, and employee training.  A second way is in the execution of your idea, which would include handling the items previously mentioned, hiring and training.  Finally, a crucial way in which your Human Resources team can assist you with carrying out a new idea is through financial and employee monitoring.  They will be able to let you know if the implementation of the plan has created unforeseen costs, as well as if your project has created any issues with employees.

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