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Three Common Payroll Problems And How To Handle Them

In 2013, the Internal Revenue Service administered 6.8 million penalties for payroll reporting errors, costing businesses $4.5 billion, according to IRS data. About 45 percent of businesses incur an average of $845 per year in payroll penalties, according to statistics cited by the SBA. In addition to IRS penalties, payroll problems can hurt your cash flow, create friction with your employees and threaten the livelihood of your business. Here are some tips on how to avoid some of the most common payroll mistakes.

  

Misclassifying Employees as Contractors

One of the most common payroll mistakes is misclassifying employees as independent contractors or vice versa, according to Accounting Today. How you classify employees affects whether you use a W-2 or 1099 to report their compensation, whether they are subject to federal income tax and employment tax withholding, and whether they are entitled to benefits.

Avoid this problem by correctly classifying employees and contractors when you hire them. If you discover you have improperly classified employees, you should check into the IRS' Voluntary Classification Settlement Program. The VCSP lets eligible employers reclassify workers as employees for future taxes, while providing partial relief from federal employment taxes by letting you pay 10 percent of the liability that would have been due during the past tax year under reduced rates.

With respect to contractors, you should obtain a W-9 before paying them to avoid a potential mandatory backup withholding at a 28 percent rate. You must also generally issue a 1099 to contractors to avoid penalties, with some exceptions as in the case of contracting corporate entities. For both employees and contractors, avoid paperwork problems by using the Social Security Administration's website to verify Social Security Numbers.

 

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Money is the Worst Incentive

The most typical motivation plan is to reward top performers and ignore everyone else. It is common knowledge that if you want something done at work, offer a bonus!
The problem is that this commonly used technique for motivating employees does not work! Senior management may be notorious for offering cash incentives in an effort to encourage (or manipulate) us to do more but, it turns out, we are not as manipulable as some bosses think we are.

Dan H. Pink, a leader in motivation, work and management, explains that the way we think about cash bonuses is backwards from what we would expect. Interestingly, studies show bonuses actually de-motivate workers instead of encouraging them. In a clever RSA video Pink explains how rewarding top performers causes worse performance and that when employees are paid enough money, it is possible to incentivize them using other, far more successful, techniques that result in increased engagement and loyalty.

In his video, Pink lists three things that actually do lead to better performance:


Autonomy: the desire we all share to direct our own lives. There is proof that the more autonomous we feel at work the higher the levels of employee engagement will be.

Mastery: We all want to get better at something. This is why some of us use our free time to learn how to play the guitar or study photography; we aspire to learn a new skill or craft for the pleasure and satisfaction.

Purpose: we all want to feel like we are making a contribution. If money and profits matter without a sense of purpose bad things happen. Service becomes lame, products are bad and work becomes uninspiring.

 

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Don't Let Money Prevent You From Hiring The Best

9 Strategies for Hiring the Talent you Can't Afford


Hiring new talent is a tremendous sign that you are growing and prospering.

You want to hire the best you possible can to keep that momentum going but how you define ‘the best’ could be costing you more in the long run. On paper you may decide that you can only afford to pay a new hire x amount of dollars and you may also be aware that talent costs more than you can afford to pay. Do you lower your expectations? Absolutely not. Our research has shown consistently for over 20 years that pay is not what motivates people. In fact compensation is at the bottom of the hierarchy of needs for employees. This is important to know when you are looking to hire ‘the best’ so you don’t let the number interfere with who you want to hire, first of all. Second, you need some strategies to help attract top talent, the people who want more than just a dollar figure when it comes to finding the right job.

 

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What Could be Wrong with Unlimited Vacation Time?

The Pros and Cons of PTO


The idea of unlimited vacation sounds intriguing but is it feasible? Besides sounding like an employee’s dream, strategically, it is a tool that can be used to benefit recruiting, reflect a culture of trust and ease administrative burdens. Like so many ideas that sound too good to be true, it can lead to bigger problems if it’s not managed properly. This is one reason companies are slow to adopt and are watching to see the outcome from Sir Richard Branson’s move to adopt unlimited PTO at The Virgin Group. If all goes well for Virgin, this could be a model for other big companies to follow.

According to an article in Employee Benefit News by Dane Hurtubise, less than 1% of US corporations currently offer unlimited vacation days. It is gaining popularity as companies like Netflix, Best Buy, Evernote and Motley Fool adopt the program, however. In terms of employee engagement, unlimited vacation days has considerable merit because it implies a strong relationship between employee and employer, based on trust, which is one of the foundations for achieving engagement. But just like as adopting an open office plan, ‘each company should carefully evaluate and research if it is right for them’.

 

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The Rewards of Performance-Based Compensation

The Motivating Impact of Reward and Recognition

Our work with employee surveys has clearly shown that employee satisfaction with the level of reward and recognition at their organization oftenshow me the money makes a critical contribution to their overall job satisfaction.

However, few organizations in the U.S. seem to realize this, as employee satisfaction with reward and recognition is not very high – in fact, based on our most recent norms study, the proportion of those who are satisfied (36%) is not much higher than those who are dissatisfied (33%)! Although reward and recognition encompasses more than compensation alone, there seems to be a general lack of knowledge within many organizations about this important issue and its critical role in attracting and retaining a talented workforce.

 

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Are Underpaid Employees a Cybersecurity Risk?

Interesting article from Bloomberg Businessweek. 

Cybersecurity breaches such as those at Target (TGT), Home Depot (HD), andJPMorgan Chase (JPM) are expensive and embarrassing. While attacks may come from outside hackers, the FBI recently issued a warning that internal hacking from current and former employees poses the biggest threat—and is on the rise. The FBI recommends companies take additional security precautions such as changing their passwords more often. There may be a simpler way: Pay employees more to keep them from becoming disgruntled in the first place.

What's your take on this? Is your business at risk from disgruntled employees? Read the full article on Bloomberg

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73% Of Employees Want A Holiday Bonus

Not really any surprise here, but it appears that getting a cash bonus is the top choice for what employees want from their employers as a holiday perk.

Results from a survey by Glassdoor.com indicate that most employees put cash bonuses at the top of their wish list of employer-gifted holiday perks. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of the more than 2,000 adults surveyed listed a “cash bonus” as one of their top choices as an employer-gifted holiday perk this year, followed by a raise in salary (60%), paid time off (36%), grocery gift card (29%) and “work from home for 1 year” (13%).

How about ther traditional (and often regretted by some) holiday party? What do employees think about them? Only five percent (5%) of the respondents indicated that a “company party with open bar” would be on their wish list. In fact, of the nine perks identified in the results, the holiday party was the second least picked option, with “commuter subsidy” (2%) being the only option picked less. Gym membership (7%) was even picked more than a holiday party.

So, if holiday parties are not particulary wanted, will most companies still have them? The answer to that is a surprising “yes.”  96 of the 105 (91%) companies polled said that they will have a company party this year. Bring on the Secret Santas then, but don't drink too much and don't do anything you will regret later!

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Insightlink Communications are experts in employee survey design, data collection and analysis. Since 2001 we've helped companies of all sizes measure and improve their employee satisfaction and engagement.



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