How much ‘Paid Time Off’ should your company offer employees?

As summer draws to a close, have your employees taken advantage of all the paid vacation time available to them? Workers who don’t take sufficient time off can suffer from stress and burnout, making them less effective at their jobs. Yet a survey by employee scheduling and time tracking software provider TSheets reports that many U.S. employees don’t take advantage of employee paid time off (PTO). Here’s a closer look at what the survey found.

Continue reading here.

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6 Tips to Get Employees Off Their Phones

No matter where you go, it seems like people are constantly staring at their phone screens these days.

At the office. At dinner. During meetings. While walking down the street. On dates. In bed. (You’re probably only half-paying attention to this article right now as you attempt to multi-task between priorities and the alluring draw of your phone.)

Maybe it’s the new normal but the need to obsessively check your phone for social media updates, emails and text messages seems a bit out of control. Think about yourself for a second – what’s your first response when you hear your smartphone “ring”, “ding” or “vibrate”? Be honest. If you are like most people, your first reaction is to check your phone as quickly as you possibly can – no matter where you are or what you are doing.

Okay, so maybe I am overstating this issue a bit.  But think about this for a second. Recent research suggests that close to 40% of the US population is fearful and anxious to be without their phones for any amount of time. And consider that even the average user touches their smartphone approximately 2,600 times a day. Ask yourself – how much time do you spend a day on your phone? Where is your phone right now? Where is your phone when you go to sleep at night? (Probably right next to you if you are like most people.)

Time spent on your phone can have an impact on your focus and engagement, in both your personal and professional life. So how do you know if you are you are too connected to your phone? Consider whether you ever experienced the following symptoms:

  • Do you feel anxious when you do not have your phone in your possession or your phone’s battery is about to die?
  • Do you constantly check your phone for new texts, emails, social media updates and newsfeeds, no matter where you are at or what you are doing?
  • Do you ever experience phantom phone notification syndrome – thinking your phone is “ringing” or “beeping” when it really isn’t?
  • Do you not hear what people are saying to you or even realize that people are talking to you sometimes because you are looking at your phone?

If any of these symptoms describe you, don’t feel bad. But you should consider doing something about it. Here are some simple things to think about that can help:

  • Put the phone away. Really. Try it. Try 10 minutes. Then 30 minutes. Next time you go out for dinner, leave it in the car. Build your capacity slowly but surely. You might be surprised how this enhances your enjoyment of other things.
  • Stop checking your phone before you go to bed or first thing when you wake up in the morning. Break up your connection and dependency with your phone. It may be weird at first but you quality of sleep will improve. (If you’re thinking “wait, my phone is my alarm clock”, then buy an alarm clock and leave the phone in the other room)
  • Get an App. There are lots of Apps on the market now to help people keep track of their phone time and remind them when they are spending too much time on their phone. Look them up on your App Store
  • Smartphone use during work time. If you are a manager and concerned that your staff is always on their phone during team meetings, consider a phone ban for meetings or encourage team members to minimize their phone time in order to be more focused.
  • Proactively use your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for assistance with issues like this that can have a negative impact on your life. Encourage your employees to do the same if you think their smartphone obsession is impacting their productivity. EAPs are set up to address and resolve these type of employee issues so you, as the employer, don’t have to. EAPs provide 24/7 hotline support and short-term counseling options.
  • Don’t have an EAP? Consider setting one up. The investment may be as low as a few hundred dollars a month and you’ll be providing your employees with the support they need while protecting your bottom line.

Like I always tell my teenage son, there’s a big world out there. So get off your phone and enjoy it.

Miami Payroll Center partners with CCA, Inc, a national EAP provider that has administered these programs for over 30 years. If you have questions about this article or want more information about how to set up an EAP at your company, call us to et up an informational call or meeting.

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Employees have issues…And it’s impacting your business!

Do your employees ever bring their personal drama into the office? Do their personal issues ever impact their focus and productivity? Do you sometimes have to be their “therapist” in the office? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then this article is for you.

Mental Health in the workplace. Yes, I know. Not the most comfortable topic to discuss, but maybe it should be. When you look at some of the recent numbers related to Mental Health in this country, it’s pretty staggering and a bit scary. Consider the magnitude of some of the trends:

  • Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting almost 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older (18% of the population).
  • An estimated 44% of all Americans feel more stressed out today than they did five years ago.
  • An estimated 20.2 million adults (8.4% of the population) have a substance use disorder.
  • An estimated 15.7 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States have had at least one major depressive episode in the past year (6.7% of all U.S. adults).
  • Psychiatric disorders have now surpassed other disorders such as cardiovascular diseases and cancer as the number one cause of disability.
  • Suicide in the United States has surged to the highest levels in nearly 30 years with increases in every age group except older adults.

Obviously, these are pretty alarming numbers, but what does all this mean for your workplace? It actually means a lot. Whether you know it or not, your employees’ issues are having a significant impact on your bottom line. Consider the following:

  • An estimated one million workers miss work each day because of stress, costing companies an estimated $602 per employee per year.
  • Over 10% of employees state that mental health issues like depression and anxiety limit their work productivity.
  • Depression leads to 200 million lost workdays each year, resulting in an estimated cost of more than $23 billion in lost productivity annually.
  • Lost work productivity (including absenteeism and poor job performance) associated with substance abuse costs employers an estimated $197 billion a year.

So what does all this mean for your specific company or office? Not to treat the issue lightly, but in today’s workplace, your employees do have “issues”. Your employees have them more than ever in the past. And smart employers are beginning to understand that they should invest in programs and services that promote a psychologically healthy workplace as healthy employees produce healthy businesses. What are some easy things that you can do to start addressing these issues in your office? Consider the following tips:

  1. Look for and recognize warning signs. When one of your employees is dealing with an issue, there are always early indicators such as missed work time or diminished performance.
  2. Don’t play therapist. Set a professional boundary with your employees. You can show concern and empathy for their issues but don’t turn work time into a therapy session. If you get too involved, it will make it harder to performance manage them later.
  3. Proactively encourage professional help and use resources like your Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Let your employees know you recognize there is an issue and, because you are concerned for their well-being, that they should utilize resources available to them to help address stress and mental health related problems. Small issues can turn into big office challenges so get involved early. Encourage employees to take care of themselves and refer to your EAP, if you have one. EAPs are set up to address and resolve these type of employee issues so you, as the employer, don’t have to. EAPs provide 24/7 hotline support and short-term counseling options.
  4. Don’t have an EAP? Consider setting one up. The investment may be as low as a few hundred dollars a month and you’ll be providing your employees with the support they need while protecting your bottom line.

Miami Payroll Center partners with CCA, Inc, a national EAP provider that has administered these programs for over 30 years. If you have questions about this article or want more information about how to set up an EAP at your company, contact our team at (305) 273-4066 or via email at

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How to Leave Work on Time

Every so often, leaving work on time is one of the most difficult to-do’s on the list. The Miami Herald’s Cindy Krischer Goodman shares her advice on what to do to leave work on time:

Ramp up communication. “I often have scrambled out the door way past the time I was supposed to stop working. One year, I resolved to leave by 6 p.m., which required starting my day promptly. I talked to my manager about my plan. By doing so, rather than just trying to bolt when no one was looking, I got his buy in. He understood my goals and changed his habits of making late afternoon requests. Managers, customers and co-workers become less likely to drop to-dos on your lap toward the end of the day when you establish a pattern of leaving on time and communicate your schedule.”

Give yourself a 20-minute window for departure. “If you wait until 6 p.m. to start packing up, you likely will get delayed by distractions. Once you’ve set your departure time, block out the 20 minutes prior to that time on your calendar to clean up any last daily details.”

Read Goodman’s full article here.

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The new overtime rules are here!

Key Provisions of the Final Rule

The Final Rule focuses primarily on updating the salary and compensation levels needed for Executive, Administrative and Professional workers to be exempt. Specifically, the Final Rule:

  1. Sets the standard salary level at the 40th percentile of earnings of full-time salaried workers in the lowest-wage Census Region, currently the South ($913 per week; $47,476 annually for a full-year worker);
  2. Sets the total annual compensation requirement for highly compensated employees (HCE) subject to a minimal duties test to the annual equivalent of the 90th percentile of full-time salaried workers nationally ($134,004); and
  3. Establishes a mechanism for automatically updating the salary and compensation levels every three years to maintain the levels at the above percentiles and to ensure that they continue to provide useful and effective tests for exemption.

Additionally, the Final Rule amends the salary basis test to allow employers to use nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) to satisfy up to 10 percent of the new standard salary level.

The effective date of the final rule is December 1, 2016.

The initial increases to the standard salary level (from $455 to $913 per week) and HCE total annual compensation requirement (from $100,000 to $134,004 per year) will be effective on that date. Future automatic updates to those thresholds will occur every three years, beginning on January 1, 2020. 

Complying with the new Overtime Rules

Overtime RulesWondering how these new rules impact your labor force, and what you can do to ensure you remain in compliance? We can help! Complete the form to your right or call and ask for help- one of our HR Consultants will be glad to sit with you and analyze the impact to your impact and recommend solutions for your particular situation. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to complying with this rule, as what is best for every business can vary depending on many factors.


Final Rule: Overtime

Defining and Delimiting the Exemptions for Executive, Administrative, Professional, Outside Sales and Computer Employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act


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Hire Top Talent Without Breaking the Budget? Think Remote!

Few small businesses have the budget necessary to compete with the biggest companies when it comes to hiring top talent. But money isn’t everything! Offering a flexible work environment that increases work-life balance could be worth its weight in gold.

Let’s face it – the days when 100% of the workforce actually went in to the office every day to work are long gone. Thanks to advances in technology, and a shift in employee priorities as the Millennials joined the workforce, our culture is rapidly changing to one that favors working remotely.

w-l-balanceBy offering a flexible work environment where employees can work one or more days outside the office, you can send a message that not only are you aware of your employees’ need for a better work-life balance, but that you trust them and believe in their professionalism. South Florida is rife with traffic jams, long commutes and terrible drivers. Imagine what reducing an employee’s commute would do for their morale, their wallet and their level of happiness! One less day of gas and tolls, one less day of a frustrating commute that can save an hour or two of time, one less day of professional attire to be dry cleaned.

The results of a 2015 US Department of Labor survey showed that 23% of employed Americans did some or all of their work from home in 2014.  While we don’t have a new report yet this year, it’s a safe assumption that this number has risen to more than 25% of employed Americans. Data from the 2015 report also shows that, on the days they worked, 39% of employed people age 25+ with a bachelor’s degree or higher did some or all of their work at home.

Few companies have a business model that could support a completely remote workforce. However, providing the option to work from home even one day a week might be enough to retain or recruit top talent to your organization.

Have you been successful in offering remote work options for your employees? We’d love to hear what’s been working for you. Post your comments below.

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