Monthly Archives: January 2017

401(k) Contribution Limits for 2017

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced in late 2016 that several key 401(k) limitations would remain unchanged going into 2017.

The lack of changes is due to the cost-of-living index, which did not increase because many of the required thresholds to justify a change were simply not met.

The most significant limitations that remain unchanged are as follows:

  • Employees that are over 50 years old can still play “catch-up” in their 401(k) contributions. Their limit is $6,000.
  • The contribution limit for employees remains at $18,000 per year. This limit also applies to most 457 plans, 403(b) plans and the Thrift Savings Plan.
  • The annual contribution limit for Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs) is $5,500. Employees over the age of 50 can contribute an additional $1,000.

Employers should provide employees with information every year about contribution limits. Studies have shown that employees often do not understand limits and are ill-informed about how much they can contribute to their retirement accounts on an annual basis. Consider having a professional financial advisor from the company that manages retirement plans come in to meet with employees in a large group. If employees have specific questions, they can set up one-on-one meetings with advisors. This helps ensure that employees are receiving information from qualified advisors that can answer their questions.

The IRS updated its Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) charts for specific retirement plan contribution limits. It is recommended that employers check this information out on their website. They also provide a detailed chart comparing differences from 2015, 2016 and 2017. The chart also explains IRAs, IRA, AGI Deduction Phase-Out, SEP, SIMPLE Plans, 401(k), 403(b), Profit Sharing and other types of retirement plans.

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Ring in 2017 with Improved Employee Satisfaction Part 2 of 2

Employee satisfaction is one of the most profitable endeavors a company can pursue. It helps increase workflow, creates a positive environment and helps to retain good employees.

Our last article discussed the importance of giving employees more control over their environments, as well as offering flexible schedules. The second part of this article delves deeper into how you can boost and maintain employee satisfaction.

Increasing Efficiency

Deadlines are a major source of stress for employees. Employers can help ease this burden by not wasting time in meetings, keeping them on point and making them shorter. Some employers recommend not having chairs in meeting spaces, as this will naturally keep meetings on point and on time. Some companies are turning to conference calls instead of physical meetings, as this helps reduce the need for small talk and people are more likely to keep to an agenda.

To help keep employees on target and not wasting time, make sure that copy rooms are neat and orderly. Organized offices and system procedures make it easier for employees to focus on their jobs and not menial time-consuming tasks.

Good Health

Most companies do not realize that as many as 90-percent of doctor visits are for stress-related illnesses. Employees that are under constant stress may have lower immune systems, fatigue, experience weight gain and have an increased risk of disease. This translates to more time off, which is costly for employers.

Many employers are instituting educational programs to help employees understand different health topics. Providing a kitchen that has a microwave and refrigerator can help encourage employees to make healthier meals. Small breaks that include a little exercise throughout the day are also healthy. Consider offering discounts to local gyms, which will help encourage employees to get out and exercise.

Social Connections

People are social beings and interacting with one another helps produce good endorphins. Instead of isolating cubicles so employees cannot see one another, consider facing them in directions where open communication is easy.

Celebrating birthdays and holidays are great ways for employees to get to know one another better. If employers do not have the additional resources for these events, consider asking employees to bring side dishes and pitch in.

Some employers are also instituting volunteer programs, which gives employees a chance to give back to the community outside of work hours.

Acknowledging Growth

Surveys show that employee satisfaction closely relates to feeling appreciated by employers and peers.

Employers should strive to create an atmosphere that encourages growth by offering additional training, celebrating employee’s accomplishments and acknowledging benchmarks throughout the year.

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Ring in 2017 with Improved Employee Satisfaction Part 1 of 2

Happy employees can dramatically boost company morale, which in turn has an impact on profits. Employees that are satisfied with their jobs and the companies they work for help promote their companies by representing them in a positive manner in public.

Employee satisfaction does not directly link to compensation. Of course, money and benefits are important to employees, but what keeps employees sticking around has become the source of books and lectures across the world.

Give Employees Control

Employees want to feel happy and in control over their lives. They don’t want to feel as though work is their life and they have to sacrifice being happy in their personal lives. Give employees more control. This does not mean give them full control. However, you can offer them flexible schedules that involve telecommuting or flextime. Employees will appreciate a boss that understands they have a life outside of work with personal obligations to fulfill.

If an employee can customize his/her workstation, he/she will also report higher levels of job satisfaction. Decorating with certain colors or personal decor can help improve overall happiness, which increases employee performance.

Employers can also institute employee-driven competitions, which are perfect for sales departments. Employees can set their individual goals. Once they achieve these goals, it leads to feelings of accomplishments, which is more positive than obligations.

Untraditional Work Weeks

One of the biggest sources of stress for employees is commuting. To help decrease this stress, employers may consider instituting flex hours, which gives employees the opportunity to commute to work during non-peak traffic hours. Additionally, some employers are offering more telecommuting options, which are found to help reduce employer’s overhead costs.

Please continue following us for the second part of our article.

Ninja Gig specializes in offering job applications online. Human Resources professionals can direct potential job applicants to this online job application, which greatly improves office efficiency and makes it easy to find the right candidate for companies.  Sign up today for your 30-day free trial!

Ninja Gig Predicts What a Trump Presidency Means for HR

Over the last one-and-a-half years, we have done a lot of research on the presidential candidates and their impact on human resources. Now that our country is going to have a Trump presidency starting January 20, 2017, we have gathered a list of what HR items we think President-elect Trump will tackle his first 100 days in office.

  • Overtime – The Department of Labor (DOL) changed the overtime exemption rule. This new rule could increase the exempt salary threshold to $47,476 per year. However, we believe that the Trump Administration will decide not to offer federal funding to defend this position, which means this new rule, will simply die. However, employers should work towards compliance because one never knows how Trump’s Administration will handle the enforcement of this new rule.
  • Affordable Care Act – While Trump has promised to repeal and replace Obamacare, this likely will not happen overnight. Chances are repealing everything and not offering an alternative would shift the healthcare industry immediately into chaos. The Trump Administration will likely offer a slow phase-out of the original Obamacare plan, simply offering reforms and replacement options. Employers must still abide by current laws, as Trump’s Administration cannot make these changes overnight.
  • Leave and Wages – Expanding the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and sick leave requirements for employers were not at the top of Trump’s campaign list. If he does address these issues, chances are it will be late in his first term. However, employers should check with state and local laws for additional sick or medical leave issues that passed in November 2016.
  • Labor Movement – President Obama was a pro-union president. President-elect Trump will likely appoint members to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that are more employer-friendly. This goes along with Trump’s ideologies about rebuilding businesses and the economy.
  • Immigrant Workers – Trump will mandate that E-Verify is regularly used by employers to check the employment status of every person working in the U.S. We anticipate there will be an increase in raids conducted by the U.S. Immigration and Customers Enforcement (ICE) agency and more I-9 audits. Make sure that all company-related documents are in order. Also, remember that there is a new I-9 form, which all employers are required to start using effective January 22, 2017.

These are simply the predictions of Ninja Gig and only President-elect Trump’s first 100 days in office will confirm if these come to fruition. Ninja Gig allows employers to easily accept job applications online, helping increase productivity and workflow within human resources’ departments.

New State Minimum Wage Changes

Beginning January 1, 2017, state minimum wages will increase across several states. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, but the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not preside over state or local laws. This means that if a state’s minimum wage requirements are higher than federal wages, employers must pay the higher amount to employees.

Effective January 1, 2017, the following states have a minimum wage increase:

  • Alaska - $9.80 per hour
  • Arizona – $10.00 per hour and this amount will increase to $10.50 per hour on January 1, 2018
  • Arkansas – $8.50 per hour
  • California – $10.50 per hour and this amount will increase to $11.00 per hour on January 1, 2018
  • Colorado - $9.30 per hour and this amount will increase to $10.20 per hour on January 1, 2018
  • Connecticut – $10.10 per hour
  • Florida – $8.10 per hour
  • Hawaii – $9.25 per hour and this amount will increase to $10.10 per hour on January 1, 2018
  • Maine – $9.00 per hour and this amount will increase to $10.00 per hour on January 1, 2018
  • Massachusetts – $11.00 per hour
  • Michigan – $8.90 per hour and this amount will increase to $9.25 per hour on January 1, 2018
  • Missouri – $7.70 per hour
  • Montana – $8.15 per hour
  • New Jersey – $8.44 per hour
  • New York – $970 per hour for Greater New York; $10.00 per hour for Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties; $10.50 for New York City small employers and $11.00 for New York City large employers
  • Ohio – $8.15 per hour for companies that have gross receipts of $297,000 or more and $7.25 per hour for companies that have gross receipts under $297,000
  • South Dakota – $8.65 per hour
  • Vermont – $10.00 per hour and this amount will increase to $10.50 per hour on January 1, 2018
  • Washington – $11.00 per hour and this amount will increase to $11.50 per hour on January 1, 2018

 

Effective July 1, 2017, the following states have a minimum wage increase:

  • Washington D.C. – $12.50 per hour and this amount will increase to $13.25 per hour on July 1, 2018
  • Maryland – $9.25 per hour and this amount will increase to $10.10 per hour on July 1, 2018
  • Oregon - $10.25 per hour and the Portland metro area’s rate will increase to $11.25 per hour, while nonurban counties will increase to $10.00 per hour. The minimum wage will also increase to $10.75 per hour on July 1, 2018, the Portland metro area to $12.00 per hour and nonurban counties to $10.50 per hour.

Make sure your company is in compliance by researching detailed state laws.

Ninja Gig offers employers the ability to accept job applications online, which makes it simple for human resources professionals to manage these types of employment applications.  Sign up today for your no-obligation, 30-day free trial.