HR & Compliance

Add SBAM offers a full spectrum of human resources services to keep you compliant and help your business run more efficiently and profitably....

Human Resources Solutions

ASE LogoLooking for help with tough HR issues? 

SBAM partner ASE has the answers about hiring, firing, FMLA, ADA and more! Get access to a FREE HR hotline, affordable and cost-effective research consultation services, discounted employee handbooks and workplace posters, and more.

Section 125 Plan, FSA, HSA & HRA Administration


KUSHNER & COMPANY LogoLooking for ways to contain health care costs?
With the cost of health insurance continuing to rise, most employers require their employees to contribute to the cost of health insurance premiums. SBAM partner Kushner & Co. can help you put a tax-favored, consumer-directed plan in place that benefits you and your employees.


COBRA Administration

Personalized, affordable administration for your business. 

If you have 20 or more employees, your company is required by federal law to offer continued health insurance coverage via COBRA and will face huge fines if it's not administered correctly.  Let SBAM help you stay compliant for only $30 per month. 

How’s your work-life balance?

Article courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

By George Brown
So we weathered 2009 and 2010. Then we survived 2011 with a feeling that better days were ahead.  Now, four months into 2012 and with the economy rebounding (at least in Michigan), it seems like everyone you speak to is extremely busy.  So it did not surprise me when I opened my ASE Daily Alert (powered by CCH) and saw this headline: Fifty-six percent of workers say they do not have a proper work/life balance, according to survey results.

In a recent poll of over 1,000 people, 36% say they do not feel they have a proper work/life balance and that they spend too much time working. Forty-one percent said they think they may be passed over for a promotion if they leave work early. In addition, 26% said that they stay at work later than they would like due to peer pressure.

If you are still looking to figure out how to avoid the rush hour traffic on your ride home, this bit of research probably won’t make you happy: More than twice as many people leave work after five o’clock (18% between 5:00 and 6:00, 21% after 6:00) than before five o’clock (18%).

What are some things one can do to bring a little more balance to their daily routine? WebMD suggest these 5 Tips for Better Work-Life Balance:

1. Build downtime into your schedule.

When you plan your week, make it a point to schedule time with your family and friends and activities that help you recharge.  If a date night with your spouse or a softball game with friends is on your calendar, you'll have something to look forward to and an extra incentive to manage your time well so you don't have to cancel.  "It helps to be proactive about scheduling," says Laura Stack, a productivity expert in Denver and author of SuperCompetent: The Six Keys to Perform at Your Productive Best. "When I go out with my girlfriends, we all whip out our cell phones and put another girls' night out on the calendar for one month later," she says.

2. Drop activities that sap your time or energy.

"Many people waste their time on activities or people that add no value -- for example, spending too much time at work with a colleague who is constantly venting and gossiping," says Marilyn Puder-York, PhD, a psychologist and executive coach in New York and Connecticut.  Take stock of those activities and cut them out of your routine if you can.

3. Rethink your errands.

Consider whether you can outsource any of your time-consuming household chores or errands. Could you order your groceries online and have them delivered?  Hire a kid down the street to mow your lawn?  Have your dry cleaning picked up and dropped off at your home or office?  Order your stamps online so you don't have to go to the post office? Even if you're on a tight budget, you may discover that the time you'll save will make it worth the cost.

4. Get moving.

Exercise. Make time for it. It will boost your energy level and your ability to concentrate.  "Research shows exercise can help you to be more alert," says psychologist Robert Brooks, PhD, co-author of The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence, and Personal Strength in Your Life.  "And I've noticed that when I don't exercise because I'm trying to squeeze in another half hour of writing, I don't feel as alert."

5. Remember that a little relaxation goes a long way.

Don't get overwhelmed by assuming that you need to make big changes to bring more balance to your life.  "Slowly build more activities into your schedule that are important to you," Brooks says. "Maybe you can start by spending an hour a week on a hobby, or planning a weekend getaway with your spouse once

EEOC issues updated guidance on using arrest and criminal records in hiring

Article courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

By Michael J. Burns  
On April 25, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued updated guidance to employers on the use of arrest and conviction records in hiring and promotion.

For over twenty years the EEOC has monitored whether discrimination could occur when employers used criminal records to disqualify applicants for employment. The EEOC bases its position on current and projected incarceration rates. In 2007, 3.2% or 1 in 31 of all adults in the U.S. were under one or another form of correctional control (jail, parole, or probation). At current rates of incarceration, the number would more than double to where, in the years to come, 6.6% of all persons born in 2001 or later are projected to spend at least some time in the corrections system during their lifetimes. And since Hispanics and African-Americans are arrested 2-3 more often than other groups, and (according to recent surveys) up to 92% of employers subject some or all of their job candidates to criminal background checks, the EEOC is concerned that job discrimination against those groups will be worse in the future than it is now.

The EEOC sees criminal conviction record discrimination occurring in two forms:

Disparate Treatment: This would occur when an employer rejects, for example, a minority candidate because of his or her criminal record but hires a white candidate with a similar criminal record and with the same qualifications.

Disparate Impact: This occurs when a neutral employment policy or practice has the effect of disproportionately excluding members of the protected classes, and the employer cannot show that the discriminatory practice is job related and borne of business necessity.

In issuing this updated guidance, the EEOC maintains that it has not changed its position on the use of criminal records. It does, however, provide more in-depth analysis than its earlier Guidances issued in 1987 and 1990.

The EEOC Guidance provides recommended best practices for employers:
  • Do not have a policy that excludes applicants for any criminal record.
  • Train managers, hiring personnel and decision makers on Title VII and its prohibition.
  • Develop narrowly tailored policies and procedures for screening for criminal background.
  • When asking about criminal records, limit inquiries to records for which exclusions would be job related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity.
  • Keep information about applicant’s and employee’s criminal records confidential.
  • Develop a narrowly tailored written policy and procedures for screening for criminal history information. The policy should do the following:
    • Identify essential job requirements and the actual circumstances under which the jobs are performed
    • Determine the specific offenses that may demonstrate unfitness for performing such jobs
    • Determine the duration of exclusions for criminal conduct based on all available evidence
    • Record the justification for the policy and procedures
    • Note and keep a record of consultations and research considered in crafting the policy and procedures
Employers concerned that the EEOC is overreaching should also note the following:
  • Despite its concern over this issue, the EEOC still concedes that employers have the right to access and use criminal conviction data on applicants as a deterrent to theft, fraud, workplace violence and even negligent hiring lawsuits. Additionally many local, state and federal laws and regulations require criminal background checks.
  • The EEOC avoided a more controversial limitation to the use of criminal records.
  • The EEOC did not change its position o

The four questions you need to answer if you’re going to be a successful entrepreneur: today at 10 a.m. on the free Business Next audio seminar

On Friday's program: retired CPA and longtime small business advocate Paul Hense talks about the four questions you need to answer if you’re going to be a successful entrepreneur; Chris Carrigan, representing the Potterville Gizzard Fest, talks about the positive small business impact of local festivals and fairs; Jennifer Acevedo of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Assistance talks about a fall conference that can help small business owners “green up” Michigan’s environment and economy.

Listen today at 10 a.m., 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on the 
Michigan Business NetworkSBAM members can log in and listen to archived programs anytime on a PC or mobile device by going to the Business Next show page

Get Business Next audio seminars delivered three times a week automatically to your iPhone or other mobile device. Subscribe in iTunes using this URL.      

(Photo by

Look for valuable skills in applicants

Article courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner AdvanceHR

Don't hire new people just for the specialized knowledge or experience they have. Instead, hire new people also for the important skills and assets you want in most or all of your employees. For nine common traits and skills to look for, keep reading.

Increasingly, the most valuable asset of a job applicant isn't a specialized knowledge of one particular field (for example, architecture or engineering). The most valuable assets of a job applicant often are skills increasingly common to all job positions.

They include:
  • Computer literacy. Look for the individual who can analyze and interpret computer information, who can assist the organization in making the best use of this technology.
  • Ability to use information. The person who knew all that could be said about one aspect of the business has been replaced by the computer and the Internet. Look for the applicant who acquires critical information rapidly and knows the difference between relevant and irrelevant material.
  • Capacity to be a team player. Today's emphasis is on team playing -- collaborating, listening and arriving at decisions by group consensus. Team playing also requires that employees express concerns and discuss problems in a non-threatening, constructive manner.
  • Strategic vision. For example, ask applicants, "What ideas did you have at your last place of employment to make it a better place?"
  • Presentation skills. These abilities go hand-in-hand with strategic vision. An employee might have clever, innovative ideas. But they are of no value if he or she can't sell you or others on the vision.
  • Familiarity with change. More and more, in today's business climate, the only constant is change. You want an employee who is comfortable with -- and even encourages -- constructive change in the workplace.
  • Time management. You want an employee who promptly deals with hassles and yet finishes a project on time. Ask an applicant what he or she considers to be the key elements of time management.
  • Independent judgment and discretion. What experience does an applicant have with independent thinking? Ask: "How and when did you act outside of normal procedures?"
  • Personal accountability. For example, ask applicants, "What past mistakes offered you a unique learning experience?"

Capitalize on the Power in Exit Interviews

Article courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner AdvanceHR

As with some other standard human resource activities, exit interviews sometimes are carried out almost on a perfunctory basis, resulting in missed opportunities -- or worse.  There is a better way. This article provides an overview of how employers can gain helpful insights about their businesses, as well as ways to turn what might otherwise be a negative situation into a positive one. 

Why conduct exit interviews?

Ideally, the answer is better than just, "we've always done them." Even with a basic goal in mind, employers may not take full advantage of frank conversations with employees on their way out. According to Robert A. Giacalone, Ph.D., a professor at Temple University's Fox School of Business, the benefits of exit interviews fall into three categories.

Diagnosis and strategy:  This involves using insights gained from interviews to identify workplace problems and develop ideas on how to fix them. Typical issues include general problems like high turnover or a need for better training in some areas, as well as more specific problems like theft or security breaches in particular departments or worksites.

Public relations: Employees who leave with favorable attitudes, believing they have conveyed important information that matters, can become strong advocates for your company within the community, even after they're gone.

Positive separations: This goal is purely to benefit departing employees, particularly those leaving under unhappy circumstances, by allowing them to vent and come to terms with the situation.

Employers often fall short of achieving these benefits either because they fail to do anything with the data they collect from exit interviews, or more fundamentally, don't have clear goals in mind for having them in the first place.

Are They Being Honest?

Recently Dr. Giacalone conveyed another challenge, in a paper published by LPR Publications. That is, departing employees are not always entirely forthcoming about their reasons for leaving. For example, it may be easier to say they have found a job with better pay than to tell the uncomfortable truth that they experienced sexual harassment or an abusive supervisor or other issue. Yet those are precisely the kinds of situations employers urgently need to know about, and address.

What's to be done?  Giacalone's recommendations begin with developing and using "methodical, scientific approaches" that yield reliable data. Too often, employers use informal, intuitive methods that may have limited statistical validity.  The marketplace offers a variety of vendors with tools for this purpose. A simple Google search for "exit interview" will turn up many choices. Naturally, the size of your company will influence decisions about how much to invest in outside resources and the requisite level of sophistication.

Once a reliable questionnaire and interview procedure have been established, employers should create a system to ensure that the data will be collected and used consistently throughout the organization -- an essential step for statistical reliability. While information learned from an individual departing employee may be helpful, pulling interview results together and analyzing them effectively will provide a much clearer "big picture" view of what's happening.

Continuous Quality Improvement

Giacalone also urges employers to keep at it -- both in conducting the interviews, and in improving the process along the way. That involves establishing goals and criteria for judging whether the effort is worth the cost in time and dollars. Regularly evaluating the effectiveness of the effort and impro