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 as little as $35 per month. 

Train your young employees to provide great customer service. Wednesday on the free Business Next audio seminar!

On today's show: How to communicate with young employees and train them to provide great customer service to all customer age groups. Michael Rogers talks with business consultant Tom Borg. And, the challenges and rewards of being a small business person and owning an art gallery. Interview with Tiffany Klein, owner of the new La Fille Gallery in downtown Lansing. Also, Michael talks with Lance Hill and Byron Pettigrew, co-founders of a small and unique company in Traverse City called High Five Threads that sells locally sourced Michigan apparel.  

Listen Wednesday 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.  

Keys to optimum productivity

Article courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner AdvanceHR

How One Nurseryman Encouraged Employees

Dale Siems has been a "down-to-earth" employer. No newfangled theories and consultants for him -- just caring, communicating and a lot of hard work.

Siems has worked at the Sherman Nursery Co., in Charles City, IA, for more than 40 years -- 20 years as its president. Sherman Nursery is one of the largest wholesale nurseries in North America, owned by Bailey Nurseries, Inc., St. Paul, MN.

Siems said of Sherman Nursery: "We were old and well established, with the best land, best buildings, best tools and equipment, best products. But it's not any of those things that made us successful. It's because we had the best people. We got people who liked to come to work, enjoyed what they were doing, and were productive."

Siems called his work philosophy "O.P." -- for Optimum Productivity. The keys to O.P., according to Siems, are attitude, professionalism and teamwork.

"Good attitude makes the difference," said Siems. "Experience isn't that big a deal, but give me somebody with a good attitude."

Siems quoted a statistic from an employer survey he'd saved: "On a scale from one to five, employers hiring a new employee ranked the importance of good attitude 4.6, good communication 4.2, experience 4.0, and recommendation of previous employer 3.4."

Asked if good attitude is something you can hire, train or create, Siems answered, "We cared about our employees and they responded to it. If you treat people right, they'll treat you right."

What did he mean by professionalism? Siems replied, "We work with the soils. We get dirt under our fingernails and things like that, but we like to think we were professionals because we care. You know, anything worth doing is worth doing right."

Mediocrity has had no place at Sherman Nursery, according to Siems. But neither has burnout, "whip cracking" or intimidation. "I don't ask anybody for 100 percent... that's a workaholic. I just ask them to do their best," said Siems. Siems' employees know the value of teamwork -- particularly in the nursery's busy spring season. "They all pitch in and help get the work done, even it if is not their 'job,'" said Siems. "Without total commitment and teamwork by all our employees, we couldn't meet the spring demands," said Siems.

Each year in December, Siems has held one-on-one interviews with each employee "I get a lot of feedback from these interviews," said Siems, "and employees really look forward to it. There's something a little more special about sitting down with the president and just having a cup of coffee together."

In the interview, Siems said he reviews his notes from the previous year's interview and asks the employee, "How's it going? Are we doing things right?" Then he added: "I do a one-on-one interview myself with every employee even if I have 200. It's that important."

Siems encouraged communication and welcomed employee input, but he said the wrong kinds of communication were squelched quickly. For instance, if someone was spreading a rumor about layoffs or about another worker, he called in the employee who was behind the rumor and talked it over.

Rounding out Siem's O.P. philosophy are encouragement, motivation, praise, and optimism. "The biggest challenge of any employer is to motivate and encourage employees," said Siems. "Praise them in public, criticize in private. Spend some time with them. Be interested in their welfare."

He has encouraged and motivated employees by letting every employee know they were important and appreciated. "We need you," Siems would tell them. "Your job is just as important as the president's ... This is your company -- what happens to it affects your futu

Do your compliance efforts meet today’s needs?

Article courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

By George Brown  

Your compliance department needs to manage the growing demands of more and more stakeholders, while positioning itself for the future.  A recent survey sets out to provide insight to support that goal.

Before 2002—or  what some refer to as “pre-SOX”–companies left compliance issues to the accounting department to handle after payroll, month-end and a laundry list of other chores. In 2002, when scandals cut into public confidence in the financial system, oversight became much more popular. It raised the expectations of companies that had a compliance officer. And it made a lot of other companies hire one.  

The "State of Compliance: 2012 Study," an effort between PwC US and Compliance Week, was recently released at the Compliance Week annual conference in Washington, D.C.  The study found that Chief Compliance Officers (CCOs) want to be more efficient and effective as they confront a more complex regulatory world.

The data collected paints a basic picture of the state of compliance today, and how the compliance function can position itself for the future.  According to the data, the compliance team is involved to some degree in evaluating or overseeing virtually every risk or regulatory issue. These would include anti-trust, anti-corruption, ethics, import-export, supply chain, social media, and codes of conduct.

The data uncovered a number of challenges: fragmented IT systems, tight budgets, shifting and growing regulations, and always having to prove that the compliance program is effective.

"Few elements of corporate compliance are as elusive as the art of confirming that your ethics and compliance program is effective. Compliance officers today know that just tracking calls to the hotline isn't enough. The question is what is enough." said Bobby Kipp, partner in PwC's Assurance practice. "Compliance officers really need overall assurance that their program is effective. Getting that assurance requires a combination of multiple metrics and insights."

Nearly half (46%) of the CCOs surveyed say they plan to spend more money on compliance technology and tools in the coming 12 months.

Other key findings include:
  • Most companies now have a compliance committee (71%, up from 57% last year).
  • Seventy-eight percent of respondents anticipate more board and audit committee demands for evidence of effective compliance.
  • Only 35% are currently "very satisfied" with the most recent assessment of their compliance programs.
  • Budgets are moving in positive directions — 21% are reporting budgets of $3 million to $10 million (up from 14% in 2011).
  • Staffing levels are increasing — nearly 80% said their compliance departments grew at least modestly in the last year.
  • Reporting relationships are moving in the right direction – more compliance officers (32%) formally report to the board.  Reporting to the general counsel (GC) is also still quite prevalent (33% of respondents report formally to the GC).

SBAM has the information technology and human resources tools you need to get compliant.  Call us at (800) 362-5461 for more information.

This is your brain on drugs: Any questions?

Article courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

By Eric Brown, Anthony Kaylin 

Think of the late-1980s TV spot depicting an egg frying in a hot skillet. The voice-over bluntly states, “This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?”

That public-service ad is still relevant today; drugs are devastating in any context. A worker on drugs in the workplace is a liability simply from being unable to do his or her job, but even more so as a safety concern.

The two situations below are not at all uncommon. What are the professional but common-sense approaches to dealing with them?

Case 1: Joe has been with the company nearly five years. He is a diligent worker who has always had high performance reviews. In the past three months however, there has been a decrease in work quality, a sloppier than normal appearance, absenteeism, and when asked about missed work assignments, he has multiple excuses and blames other people for not meeting deadlines.

What to do: You do not know whether or not Joe has a substance abuse problem. Do not try to diagnose the problem. Instead, address the issues at hand: professional appearance and performance. Make expectations clear and inform Joe when he does not meet them. Set goals and time limits for improvement. Be prepared to support your claims with documentation about Joe’s performance.

If you take the road that Joe has a perceived disability, you may be violating the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).  Therefore, you should focus on performance only.  Make sure you follow up with your legal counsel to ensure you are taking the right steps.

Case 2: Jane, a high-level employee with a positive track record, enjoys her typical smoke break as she’s been doing so for a long time. Lately, instead of standing at the usual spot, she has been taking walks around the office building. Once, as she was walking, you saw Jane was ingesting some substance.  When you go to talk to her immediately after just to have a casual conversation, you notice she has a very high energy level. Jane was complaining of long hours and no energy before, and now she doesn’t complain about the low energy.

What to do: If you believe you have reasonable suspicion that Jane has ingested an illegal substance, you may be able to have her take a drug test. However, your policy must be specific and you should immediately consult with your legal counsel to make sure you take the right steps.  If could be that she is simply taking new medication, and her actions are caused by this drug.

If a drug test finds she is using an illegal substance, the decision on what to do becomes your choice. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employees who engage in illegal use of drugs are excluded from the definition of an “individual with a disability.”

Many policies take a one-strike-and-you’re-out policy.  However, Jane is a high-level employee that your organization may wish to keep. Suggesting using an Employer Assistance Program (EAP) may be in your best interests. Hiring costs for a replacement may run higher than a drug rehabilitation program for Jane.

These two cases are only a few examples of the many possibilities of dealing with substance abuse. Depending on a “legal” or “illegal” drug, as an employer, your rights change. For example, ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against disabled employees. Alcoholism, currently, is considered a disability. Also, attending an alcohol or drug rehabilitation program falls under the ADA.  Furthermore, the suggestions above presume that you have a drug policy in place that specifically lays out what is and is not an illegal drug, your drug testing procedure, what will be tested, who will be tested, and what your organization intends to

Clark Hill PLC presenting webinar on employee substance abuse

On Wednesday, June 27th SBAM Approved Partner Clark Hill PLC will present a webinar Compliance Challenges with Employee Substance Abuse.  The webinar will air from 9:00am - 10:00am EST.

Participate, and you will learn how to avoid legal missteps when managing employees with substance abuse problems. This webinar will discuss considerations under the ADA and ADAAA, FMLA and Employer Drug Free Workplace Policies.

To reserve your space in the webinar, click here.