HR Hot Topics: Big Data, Payroll Cards, Employee Robots & What CEO’s Should Ask HR!

By: Melissa Harris, Marketing CoordinatorHR Hot Topics

What hot in HR right now? Big data, payroll cards, employee robots & what CEO’s should be asking their HR pro’s are just a few of the trending topics. Get the scoop with some of the latest articles below.

As always, we invite you to share any interesting articles or tell us how these specific stories affect you in our comments section. Happy reading!

What’s New at Sentric?

Well it’s isn’t exactly “What’s New,” but rather who’s new this quarter. We’re proud to introduce our new Jr. Application Developer…

What's New(Drumroll please)

…Anastasia Levy – or Ana for short.

Ana joined Sentric in February and is located in our Denver office. She’s a talented and dedicated developer who brings a strong background in software development. We could go on and on about how wonderful and fascinating we think Ana is, but figured you’d probably want to hear directly from her! That’s why we held a quick Q&A so you could find out what really makes her tick. So, without further adieu, we present our newest employee, Ana Levy.

 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I was born and raised in Russia and have lived in the States for about 10 years now. I’m married and have a 5 year old child.

How has your past work experience help prepare you for your current role?

My father and brother are both engineers, so I guess you could say that technology is in my blood. It’s funny, but I grew up as a classically trained dancer. I stopped dancing when I was 21, but that training taught me just how important hard work and discipline are, both in work and everyday life. Interestingly enough, my husband grew up as a figure skater, and now he is an engineer as well.

Were there any specific reasons you chose to work at Sentric?

The entire office environment felt very warm and relaxing. It felt like a place I could be comfortable working and I can learn a lot.

What did you always dream of becoming when you were a kid?

I always wanted to be a ballerina. Now I can check that one off, and I’m simply working on being a good person.

If you had to be named after a city, state or country, which would you want it to be?

I’d want to be named Paris. I love it. I lived there for some time while going to school and would love to go back some day.

The best piece of advice I ever received was the one who can wait has all the power.

When I’m not at work I’m usually spending time with my kid.

If I could live anywhere, it would be California because I HATE SNOW!!!

 

Taxing Matters: Multi-state Withholding – A State of Reciprocity

By: Melissa Causer, Tax SupervisorTaxing Matters: Reciprocal Agreements

Every quarter we answer dozens of tax questions ranging from the simple to the complex. And lately, it seems one particular topic arises more frequently than others.

As we quickly approach the payroll tax filing deadline, it seemed fitting to focus on an issue affecting both employers AND employees. That issue? Reciprocal Agreements.

Before we jump right into what the reciprocal agreement is all about, consider this: remote workers alone now make up 2.6 percent of the American workforce. That means nearly four million Americans are working in one location and living in another. Now, if they’re simply working and living in the same state, that’s a relatively easy tax issue, but if they aren’t, well, it can get tricky.

Reciprocity Agreement StatesThat’s where the Reciprocal Agreement comes into play. The Reciprocal Agreement is a tax withholdings agreement some states have with others to address issues that arise when employees live and work in different states.

According to this BNA article, “Reciprocity agreements are often made between neighboring states and can make withholding easier for employees and employers because resident and nonresident taxation doesn’t have to be determined.”

From an employer standpoint, Reciprocity makes withholding taxes easier because you only have to withhold and report for one state. From an employee standpoint, it makes life easier when it comes to filing personal taxes at the end of the year because it eliminates a double tax burden the employee would face throughout the year by paying non-resident taxes to the work state and resident taxes to their home state.

However, not all states allow reciprocity. Those that do also include special rules for each state and who they allow reciprocity with. Additionally, each state/jurisdiction has its own form that must be completed and on file with an employer. For instance, New Jersey only allows reciprocity with Pennsylvania, but Pennsylvania allows reciprocity with Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia.

To complicate matters even further, there are 9 states that do not have withholding at all. So, in a two-state scenario, the withholding defaults to the state that does have withholding tax. The 9 states without withholding tax include Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming.

Multi-state taxation is never an easy matter, but by understanding how your business could benefit from Reciprocal Agreements, you could not only simplify the process of withholding, reporting, and paying taxes for employees who live and work in different states, but also reduce the administrative burden for your company, as well as the double tax burden for employees.

To help answer some common questions regarding Reciprocal Agreements, I’ve compiled a few “fast facts” below. As always, feel free to tell us what you think in the comments section.

Reciprocal Agreements Fast Facts:

  • Do Reciprocal Agreements only apply to remote employees?

No. There are many places where living in one state and working in another is common, even if employees come into the office daily. This is a common issue for businesses in cities like New York or Washington D.C. where commuters come in from New Jersey, Virginia or Maryland. You can click here for a list of which states have reciprocal agreements with one another.

  • Are there special forms employees need to fill out for the Reciprocal Agreement?

Yes. Each state has its own form that must be completed and that the ER must maintain.

  • What happens if an employee makes a mistake on the form that verifies his/her state residency?

They would be liable for any withholding tax that might be necessary upon discovery of the issue. If the employer has the form on file, the employer would be safe from action against them.

  • What do employees need to know / do at tax time?

As long as the two states have reciprocity and the employer has withheld for the appropriate state, the employee can file their taxes as normal to their home state. If taxes have been withheld for two states, employees will have to file in both states and request a refund of tax paid to the nonresident state.

  • What should an employee do if state taxes were withheld for both the state they work in and the state they live in?

This might be accurate if the states do not have a reciprocal agreement. If they do, the employee will need to file a return to both states, and claim a refund of tax paid to the non-resident state.

  • What happens if an employee’s state withholding taxes are wrong?

If the wrong tax is withheld because the employer set them up incorrectly (regardless of a reciprocal or not), it requires adjustments to correct the employee’s pay history, amendments to the returns filed with incorrect states, filings to the correct states, and possibly a W2C to correct the employee’s W2.

  • Do Reciprocal Agreements affect Federal withholding?

Not at all. Reciprocal Agreements only apply to state withholding.

  • Do Reciprocal Agreements affect any other types of withholding like Unemployment Insurance?

No. Things like Unemployment Insurance are an employer tax and have no bearing on employee income withholding.

Prepare for the CPP or FPC Exam with Sentric!

By: Shannon Maggs, CPP, PHR, SHRM-CP, Manager of HR & Administration

Preparing for the 2015 spring or fall payroll certification exam windows in 2015? We’ve got just the thing to help!

We’re holding free CPP (Certified Payroll Professional) or FPC (Fundamentals of Payroll Certification) Study Courses in our Canonsburg, PA office and we’d love if you could join us. We’ll help you learn and understand the exam topics and materials in a casual group setting to make sure you’re prepared for the exam. Space is limited, so reserve your spot today by calling 412.884.7600 ext 200 or emailing us at bdougherty@sentric.net.

Please note that attendees must be present to qualify for RCH credit. Courses are not offered remotely. Copies of slides will be available; however official APA texts (Paytrain, etc.) are not provided.

Sentric is an Approved Provider of Payroll Education by the American Payroll Association and all Sentric training courses qualify for recertification credits.

Date

Time

Course

7/30/2015

1:00 – 4:00 PM Eastern Time

CPP Exam Preparatory Course – Module 1 – Payroll Concepts

8/6/2015

1:00 – 4:00 PM Eastern Time

CPP Exam Preparatory Course – Module 6 – Payroll Accounting

8/13/2015

1:00 – 4:00 PM Eastern Time

CPP Exam Preparatory Course – Module 3 – Fringe Benefits

8/20/2015

1:00 – 4:00 PM Eastern Time

CPP Exam Preparatory Course – Module 4 – Payroll Reporting & Employee Taxes

8/27/2015

1:00 – 4:00 PM Eastern Time

CPP Exam Preparatory Course – Module 5 – Record Keeping & Payroll Practices

9/3/2015

1:00 – 4:00 PM Eastern Time

CPP Exam Preparatory Course – Module 2 – Payroll Calculations

9/10/2015

1:00 – 3:00 PM Eastern Time

CPP Exam Preparatory Course – Module 7 – Management & Administration

HR Hot Topics: HR Personalities, HR Tech Trends, People Analytics & Workplace Evolution!

By: Melissa Harris, Marketing Coordinator

HR Hot Topics: HR Personalities, HR Tech Trends, People Analytics & Workplace Evolution!What’s hot in HR right now? HR personalities, HR technology trends, people analytics, and workplace evolution are just a few of the trending topics. Get the scoop with some of the latest articles below.

As always, we invite you to share any interesting articles or tell us how these specific stories affect you in our comments section. Happy reading!

Top HR Stats from 2014: Part 5 – Technology

By: Melissa Harris, Marketing Coordinator
Top HR Stats from 2014: Part 5 – Technology
As I wrap up my five part series, I want to first thank all of my fellow data nerds who have loyally followed along. It’s been a fun run but, like all good things, it must come to an end. So, last but definitely not least is a focus on one of the most rapidly changing topics, technology. Here, I’ll be highlighting topics near and dear to my own heart, including HRIS, SaaS solutions and the boom in mobile technology.

First timers, welcome and be sure to catch up on the entire series in which we’ve provided a year’s worth of industry facts and stats to help you better handle key issues, make the case for a new HR solution or just get a better sense of what’s happening in the industry. We’ve already covered a host of great topics, including ACA Compliance & Employee Benefits, Human Resources, Business Taxes & Payroll and Talent, so be sure to go back for complete stats on each section.

Finally, feel free to weigh in and share facts about how our data might help you in your 2015 decision-making process.

Until we meet again, happy reading!

Technology

Love – and Implementation – Tips from Kids

By Missy Haag, Implementation Specialist

love and implementation tipsLet’s be clear; I don’t like Hugh Grant movies, think flowers should stay in the ground and firmly believe that chocolate is a necessity, not a present. Knowing that, you can imagine my surprise when the marketing team tapped me to write a blog post right before Valentine’s Day.

What did they expect – some mushy love letter counting the ways to love your HR software?

Not going to happen. But, since I told them I’d play along with the whole hearts and love theme, I was left to search for an idea on my own. What I quickly found was that trying to relate HR software to love is a lot harder than I expected.

After a few days of thinking I knew I needed help. So, like so many great writers before me, I turned to Google.

I tried everything from “relationship advice” to “dating advice” and even fumbled with the idea of “worst dating advice.” I got a few good ideas but everything just felt so cheesy and forced. I wanted something that wasn’t just fun, but could actually tie back to our industry. I kept coming up empty handed.

…that is, until I threw up a Hail Mary and typed in “dating advice from kids.”

Kids are honest and unfiltered. Their advice might be funny or just plain weird but it can – with a little creative interpretation – actually be applied to the implementation process. Kids know what they want and aren’t shy about it. As it turns out, that’s a pretty good strategy for implementing a new HR solution.

So, after much research, internal debate and creativity, I present to you, love – and implementation – tips from some of America’s youngest sweethearts.

Tip 1: Date a lot before you settle down. – Tina, age 5

Before we jump right into implementations, Tina reminds us that an important first step is to go on a few dates. In our case, let’s assume dating actually mean participating in a product demo. Go ahead, play the field a little and see what’s available.

Tip 2: Do what YOU want to do. – Josh, age 9

This one might need a bit more creative interpretation, but Josh reminds us that even though love is all about compromise, implementation shouldn’t be. Your HR software is just that, yours, and you need it to do certain things. Determine what those are beforehand and work with the implementations team to make them a reality.

Tip 3: Meet their family because they might be scary. – Hayden, age 7

Hayden is definitely wise beyond her years because no one looks forward to meeting someone’s family. Well, except the implementations team. For us, meeting the family means learning about your employees. But we’re not talking nitty-gritty details, just the basics, how many you have, how their information needs to be populated and how they’ll use the software. For us, meeting the family is never scary because it means we’ve reached another milestone in the process.

Tip 4: Don’t rush into love even if you’re really old. – Sarah, age 8

These kids are on to something because just like love, the implementation process often takes some time. I’m not saying we can’t make it a speedy process, but we also don’t want to be rushing through each and every step. By walking through it at a steady pace, we’ll be able to make sure we have exactly what we need – and, more importantly, you’re getting what you want – to set you up with a solution that you can grow old with.

Tip 5: I think you’re supposed to get shot with an arrow or something, but the rest of it isn’t supposed to be as painful. – Max, age 6

It felt fitting to end with a cupid reference and Max kind of nailed it, except for the whole pain part. The implementation process isn’t painful. Sure, there may be a few bumps along the way but we’ll help make sure your journey is a smooth one. Because it’s our goal to send you off into the sunset staring longingly into the eyes (or screen) of your new companion.

HR Hot Topics: The ACA, HR Technology, TLM & More!

By: Melissa Harris, Marketing CoordinatorHR Hot Topics: The ACA, HR Technology, TLM & More!

What’s hot in HR right now? The Affordable Care Act (ACA), TLM, and HR Technology are just a few of the trending topics. Get the scoop with some of the latest articles below.

As always, we invite you to share any interesting articles or tell us how these specific stories affect you in our comments section. Happy reading!

HR Hot Topics: The New SHRM Certification & 2015 HR Predictions

By: Melissa Harris, Marketing CoordinatorHR Hot Topics: The New SHRM Certification & 2015 HR Predictions

One of our goals for 2015 is to help our readers stay on top of key industry trends by providing you with the best, most relevant and interesting content, which is why we’ll be featuring a few industry “Hot Topics” right here in our blog each month. We’ll do our best to mix it up each installment by focusing on everything from employee engagement and the ACA to workplace culture, talent management, employee benefits, and so MUCH more!

In our first post, we’re featuring news from some of the most-read authors in the HR industry and covering off topics that include the new SHRM Certification and 2015 HR predictions.

As always, we invite you to share any interesting articles or tell us how these specific stories affect you in our comments section. Happy reading!

Top HR Trade Shows of 2015

By: Mike Petrasek, Marketing Communications Consultant

I’m a firm believer in the fact that pumpkin-spiced lattes should only be available in October, or that back-to-school sales should happen when kids are actually getting ready to go back to school. Naturally, I cringed a bit when I looked at our blog calendar and saw that one of the topics for January was HR trade shows. I mean, I know there are a few HR trade shows in the relatively near future, but the bigger ones don’t happen until later in the year.

Top HR Trade Shows of 2015Then I looked at our marketing to-do’s list and quickly realized why we had this topic featured so early in the year; if you snooze, you lose. For exhibitors, that means booking booth space and sponsorships, but even attendees need to plan ahead and register early to guarantee a spot at some of this year’s most influential shows.

To help make sure you don’t miss out, we’ve compiled a listing of some of the top HR trade shows of 2015, including dates, locations and a link to where you can learn more. As always, feel free to suggest others in the comments section and we’ll add it to the list.

 

Trade Show

Dates

Location

Website

2015 Workforce Planning and Talent Conference

February 23-25, 2015

Dallas, TV

http://www.hci.org/

HR West

March 2-4, 2015

Oakland, CA

http://www.hrwest.org/live/

National HR in Hospitality Conference & Expo

March 16-18, 2015

Las Vegas, NV

http://www.hrinhospitality.com/

Los Angeles HR Star Conference

March 19, 2015

Los Angeles, CA

http://www.hrstarconference.com/register.html

2015 HCI Human Capital Summit

March 31 – April 2, 2015

Orlando, FL

http://www.hci.org/

Human Resource Executive’s Health and Benefits Leadership Conference

April 8-10, 2015

Las Vegas, NV

http://www.benefitsconf.com/

CHRA SHRM Spring Conference

April 17, 2015

Baltimore, MD

http://www.chra.com/

2015 HR People & Strategy Annual Conference

April 19-22, 2015

Miami, FL

http://www.hrps.org/page/AnnualConference

SHRM Talent Management Conference & Expo

April 27-28, 2015

San Diego, CA

http://conferences.shrm.org/talent-conference

APA Annual Congress

May 6-8, 2015

Las Vegas, NV

http://www.americanpayroll.org/product/48/23

SHRM Annual Conference and Expo

June 28 – July 1, 2015

Las Vegas, NV

http://annual.shrm.org/

PIHRA & NCHRA Reception at the 2015 SHRM Annual Conference

June 28, 2015

Las Vegas, NV

http://www.pihra.org/calendar_day.asp?date=6/28/2015&event=94

San Francisco HR Star Conference

July 15, 2015

San Francisco, CA

http://www.hrstarconference.com/register.html

2015 Employee Engagement Conference

July 27-28, 2015

San Francisco, CA

http://www.hci.org/hr-conferences/2015-Employee-Engagement/overview

Cleveland HR Star Conference

July 29, 2015

Cleveland, OH

http://www.hrstarconference.com/register.html

California HR Conference

August 31 – September 2, 2015

Anaheim, CA

http://cahr14.org/

Ohio SHRM

September 16-18, 2015

Sandusky, OH

http://www.ohioshrm.org/hr_conf/program.cfm

2015 Leadership & Development Conference

September 16-18, 2015

Chicago, IL

http://www.hci.org/hr-conferences/2015-Learning-Leadership-Development/overview

ASHHRA Conference & Exposition

September 19-22, 2015

Orlando, FL

http://www.ashhra.org/conference/2015/index.shtml

Atlanta HR Star Conference

September 29, 2015

Atlanta, GA

http://www.hrstarconference.com/register.html

Employee Benefits News’ Benefits Forum and Expo

September 30 – October 2, 2015

Orlando, FL

http://ebn.benefitnews.com/conferences/benefits-forum/

HR Florida Conference

October 6-8, 2015

Orlando, FL

http://www.hrflorida.org/page/511/?

HRTech

October 18-21, 2015

Las Vegas, NV

http://www.hrtechconference.com/

HR Southwest

October 25-28, 2015

Fort Worth, Texas

http://www.hrsouthwest.com/

2015 Global Talent Management Forum

November 2-3, 2015

Los Angeles, CA

http://www.hci.org/hr-conferences/2015-Global-Talent-Management/overview

2015 Talent Acquisition Innovation Forum

November 4-5, 2015

Los Angeles, CA

http://www.hci.org/hr-conferences/2015-Talent-Acquisition-Innovation/overview

Pittsburgh Human Resources Association

TBD

TBD

http://www.pittsburghhra.org/

Top HR Stats from 2014: Part 4 – Talent

By: Melissa Harris, Marketing CoordinatorTop HR Stats from 2014: Part 4 – Talent

We’re almost out of stats with just two blogs left of the series! Oh, how I’ll miss these beautifully nerdy numbers. But I digress, this week we’re highlighting Talent and focusing on everything from employee trust & engagement to hiring, mobile devices and employee retention.

As a reminder, if you’re a first-timer, be sure to check out the first three weeks where we focused on things like ACA Compliance & Employee Benefits, Human Resources and Business Taxes & Payroll. Our goal here wasn’t just to provide great stats, but to help you get a better handle on key issues, make a case for a new HR solution, or just get a better sense of the industry.

After you’ve had the chance to peruse all the latest info, feel free to weigh in and share facts about how our data might help you in making decisions for 2015. And don’t forget to keep an eye out for the last installment of the series. – Tear.

Until then, Happy Reading, my fellow data nerds!

Talent

Top HR Stats from 2014: Part 3 – Business Taxes & Payroll

By: Melissa Harris, Marketing Coordinator

Top HR Stats from 2014: Business Taxes & Payroll Let’s keep the HR stats train moving with our third installment, this week focusing on Business Taxes & Payroll. Here, we’ll highlight everything from the cost and time associated with doing business taxes in house to the adoption of a SaaS payroll system.

For those of you new to the blog, the series features a year’s worth of industry research and previously featured facts all about ACA Compliance and Employee Benefits and Human Resources.

Once you’ve checked out our latest info, I invite all fellow data nerds to comment, share facts or tell us all about how our data might help affect some of your immediate or future business decisions.

Happy reading until Part 4 when I’ll unveil some more exciting facts and figures for all you HR pros out there!

Business Taxes & Payroll

Top HR Stats from 2014: Part 2 – Human Resources

Human ResourcesBy: Melissa Harris, Marketing Coordinator

In case you missed it last week, I unveiled not only my true nerdiness, but also the first of my five part blog series, “Top HR Stats for 2014.” As a reminder, the series features a year’s worth of industry research ideal for everything from helping to make a business case for a new solution to staying on top of the latest and greatest HR trends. The first week was all about ACA Compliance and Employee Benefits. You can check it out here.

This week, I’m switching gears a bit and focusing on Human Resources. The list will highlight topics, including the use of data in HR, company policies and human capital.

As always, I’d like to invite my fellow data nerds to comment, share facts or tell us all about how our shiny new set of data might help affect some of your immediate and future business decisions.

Happy reading until Part 3 when I’ll unveil some more exciting facts and figures for all you HR pros out there!

Human Resources

  • 71% of CEOs cite human capital as their biggest contributor to sustained economic value (Business Standard)
  • 63% of CEOs say the absence of necessary skills is their biggest talent challenge (PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP)
  • 43% of job candidates research their prospective employer/job description just 15 minutes before the interview, but only 20% of Fortune 500 companies have a mobile optimized career site, and the other 80% are completely missing the boat (Forbes)
  • The Hackett Group found that nearly 7% of HR pros are expecting a drop in their operating budgets in 2014 (The Hackett Group)
  • 80% of respondents in a Hackett Group study said they plan to make changes to employee performance policies (The Hackett Group)
  • 75% of employers said they are making changes in their strategic workforce planning (The Hackett Group)
  • By 2020 there’s expected to be an upwards of 50% of employees in a typical company that freelance (ComputerWeekly.com)
  • Nearly 32% of HR professionals listed strategic alignment as one of their key improvement areas (Information Services Group)
  • Businesses reported that their three biggest obstacles in achieving better use of their data is its inaccuracy (54%), the lack of analytic skills among their HR pros (47%), and the lack of an adequate investment in necessary HR analytical systems (44%) (Harvard Business Review)
  • 40% of organizations use data to make critical workforce decision and 57% plan to employ integrated data analytics across multiple systems over the next two years (Harvard Business Review)
  • 90% of 2,662 HR professionals said that their organization had formalized policies in place (Business and Legal Resources)
  • 30% of employers use an internal website to deliver company policies (Business and Legal Resources)
  • 85% of employers require employees to show receipt & acknowledgement of company policies (Business and Legal Resources)

Sentric Superlatives (aka Employee Spotlight)

By Colleen Stroh, director of marketing

You may not have noticed – in fact, we hope you didn’t – but we’ve been managing a lot of moving pieces over the past seven months. Not only did we physically move to a new location, we also migrated clients to a new data server, conducted our yearly SSAE-16 audit, went to some tradeshows, and set up a new phone system. And, while that amount of chaos is enough to drive any single person crazy, it did just the opposite. In fact, it brought a lot of us closer together. That’s why this month, we’re changing up our Employee Spotlight to recognize all those dedicated staffers who were part of our move committee.

But, rather than just telling you who they are and what they did, we thought it might be fun to throw it back to our high school days and dole out a few “Sentric Superlatives.” These “most likelies,” “bests” and “least likelies” recognize the entire team for their ability to complete everything behind-the-scenes while still keeping your needs top-of-mind.

So, without further adieu, I give you the top of Sentric’s class for 2014.

Let’s start with our company leaders, Dave Lewis (Chief Operating Officer) and Mike Maggs (President). They were “Least likely to ever be on an episode of The Office.” For starters, the show isn’t on the air anymore. “Irregardless,” both couldn’t be more opposite of the show’s hilariously ignorant leader, Michael Scott, a clueless, soul-sucking manager completely out of touch with how he’s perceived by staff.

Move committee meetings were pretty fun. We laughed – a lot – and still got a lot done. We had the right balance of autonomy, direction, productivity and creativity. Meetings that could have been downright burdensome on top of existing workloads became a break in the week to change pace. For that we say – thank you gentlemen!

Our next class standout goes to Jeremy Leasure – “Most likely to become Chuck Norris.” Jeremy is a die-hard CrossFit follower and the dude you want on your team if “things get real.” He is also the calm, ninja-like mastermind behind all of our infrastructure build. He handled everything from the placements of outlets to the rollout of a new phone system (more complicated than it sounds) to securing our onsite power generator to migrating clients to new servers. His ninja-quiet productivity extended to the hours he kept – which was all of them. Nights, weekends, bouncing between locations – he did it all without complaint, without pomp or circumstance and with few people knowing what he was doing, let alone how significant it was (he’s the dude you can thank for that 99.9% uptime we promise). There were hiccups along the way and his to-do list still seems to be self-spawning, but Jeremy knows how to handle the pain. That’s why we’re asking him to share more stories like this at the Sentric Holiday Party.

Of note, Jeremy was actually nominated for and tied to win this month’s traditional Employee Spotlight – so my apologies he has to share it (I’ll buy you lunch to make up for it). 

Sentric SuperlativesOur next winner is Dave Ignaski. Dave is “Most likely to be played by Tom Selleck in the story of his life (if Tom Selleck ever wants to play an accountant).” Dave is in the beginning stages of Movember moustache growth (for those of you unfamiliar with Movember, check it out here). His stache isn’t fully mature yet, so the award could be premature, but if it doesn’t come in Tom Selleck style, he’ll get the Monopoly Man Award. Enough about Dave’s face though. As an accountant on the committee, he was the guy who handled our move budgets and SSAE-16 compliance in the new space. At the same time, he also handled our 2014 SSAE-16 audit that took place in September, in the heat of move activity. Not surprisingly, we passed again with zero exceptions – the sixth time with no exceptions in nine years – thanks in large part to Dave. A huge congratulations to him on that front, along with the following warning…. depending on how the rest of November goes, Dave’s award will come with a bow tie or the complete DVD set of Magnum P.I. (watch Facebook for the outcome).

Sentric SuperlativesNext on the list is our HR Director and resident ring leader, Shannon Maggs who takes home our “Most likely to have a pet lion someday.” Beyond having enough animals at home to run a circus (literally, multiple dogs, cats, fish, things I’m sure I know nothing about, etc.), she was front and center throughout the move process – not only within our company, but with the long line of fierce negotiators at every construction, design, architecture, and furniture company involved. Shannon turned the train of vendors into a coordinated act – one that resulted in an engaging, stylish and whole new office experience for our employees. While we can confirm that picture is NOT Shannon, we’re pretty sure that lion would love her just as much.

Like Jeremy, Shannon was also nominated for and won this month’s Employee spotlight (again, lunch is in order).

Sentric SuperlativesFinally, we get to Melissa Causer – “Most likely to become an Olympian in an obscure sport, like curling, or the once tried Skijoring (learn about it here, and you’re welcome). Melissa’s expertise in dealing with obscurity starts with her intimate knowledge of state and Federal tax regulations. However, as the organizer of move logistics – i.e. ensuring the office was purged, packed and coordinating with the movers – she also became the central repository, knowing where everything and everyone was. Needed to shred a few boxes of old records? Melissa was your girl. Wanted to know the room number for holiday decoration storage? Go see Melissa. Unsure of how many crates you could stack on a dolly? Yep. That was her too. In the center of all the crazy, there was Melissa, with her finger on the pulse of, well, everything.

As for me (technically I was on the team too)? “Most likely to write someone else’s biography.” See article above.

Top HR Stats from 2014: Part 1 – ACA Compliance & Employee Benefits Data

By: Melissa Harris, Marketing Coordinator

What most people don’t realize is that marketers are just your modern day nerds. Don’t get me wrong, we like to have fun, we’re creative and are often the ones who come up with big, crazy ideas. We’re just always looking for numbers or data to back those ideas up.

That’s why it should come as no surprise that in my role as Marketing Coordinator, I’m happily tasked with finding that data, making sense of it, and then sharing it with our broader sales and executive teams to help keep our company a step ahead and adequately informed. My research has led me down some pretty massive (but interesting) rabbit holes with key industry issues such as the ACA, but it’s also helped me gain a broader sense of over-arching industry trends like employee engagement and HR technology that will shape what the future of HR looks like.

So, why am I telling you all of this? Because, after much thinking, I’ve decided that it’s finally time I share my data nerdiness with the rest of the world. If you’ve been searching for key HR stats that are just a little easier to access and help you decide how to handle key issues, make a case for a new HR solution, or just get a better sense of the industry, I’ve got you covered with the data below.Top HR Stats for 2014

In true nerd fashion, I’ve not only compiled the data, but also sorted and categorized it for easy navigation and, over the next 5 weeks, will be unveiling it in sections, beginning with the below on compliance and employee benefits. As always, I invite my fellow data nerds to add comments, share additional facts or just tell me how data affects your decision making. Who knows, maybe I’ll include it in my next update.

Until then, happy reading and keep your eyes peeled for more facts and figures next week.

Compliance & Employee Benefits

  • 55% of employers said that the ACA had no effect on business operations and performance (Mercer/CFO)
  • The average amount of employees that signed up for the health insurance their employer provided increased only by .2%. (Mercer/CFO)
  • 69.3% is the average amount of employees enrolled in an employer-sponsored plan for 2014. (Mercer/CFO)
  • 34% of employers with 50 workers or less said they were likely or very likely to terminate their health-benefit plans in the next five years. (Mercer/CFO)
  • Employers with 100 or more employees got some leeway for ACA compliance in 2014 by only having to offer coverage to 70% of their employees, but they will need to meet the 95% mark in 2016 (Washington Post)
  • 99% of U.S. executives believe their compliance burden will increase over time (Robert Half)
  • Currently more than 1/3 of organizations believe they are maintaining ACA compliance and developing appropriate tactics to deal with the reform; however smaller organizations are less likely to have a multi-year plan. (International Foundation of Employee Benefits)
  • About 50% of organizations believe that the ACA has had a negative effect on their company. (International Foundation of Employee Benefits)
  • 1 in 6 companies with 50 or fewer employees say they have had to reduce/freeze pay raises, and one in ten has had to reduce/freeze hiring to stay under the 50 employee max due to the ACA. (International Foundation of Employee Benefits)
  • Employees have had to take on some of the ACA burden. “Nearly 1/3 of organizations have increased employee out-of-pocket limits.” (International Foundation of Employee Benefits)
  • 71% of hourly employees have held their job longer than 12 months – creating a very large number of people who will become eligible for employer sponsored health insurance. (Equifax)
  • Employer benefit costs are expected to raise 4.4% in 2014, putting the average cost per employee at about $9560. (Towers Watson/National Business Group)
  • 49% of employers have increased employee contributions for employees’ dependents
  • 19% of companies are expected to raise employee benefit contributions within the next year. (Towers Watson/National Business Group)
  • 70% of employers believe offering subsidized coverage for spouses is important (Towers Watson/National Business Group)
  • Employees’ shared premiums increased nearly 7% and total employee cost share rose 37% in 2014. (Towers Watson/National Business Group)
  • 33% of California companies use benefits as a recruitment tool. Nationally that rate is 26% (Society for Human Resource Management)
  • 85% of California employers leverage healthcare benefits and 61% leverage retirement savings/planning benefits (Society for Human Resource Management)
  • Only 79% of California employees believe their employer is effective at communicating benefit options (Society for Human Resource Management)
  • Less than 1 in 4 companies include benefits communication in their budget (Society for Human Resource Management)

Sentric HQ Relocation Highlights Company Growth Following Transformation

Regional Payroll Services Bureau Reinvents Itself as National HR Software Provider

Pittsburgh, Pa., November 3, 2014 – Sentric, Inc., a national provider of cloud-based human resources software, moved today. And while companies move every day, the relocation of Sentric’s headquarters from Caste Village in Whitehall to Southpointe Office Park in Canonsburg, comes just three years after the 20-year-old company evolved its business model from a regional payroll service bureau to a national cloud-based HR software provider. The move is the culmination of multiple years of company growth.

Sentric Inc. HQ Relocation

Sentric Inc. recently relocated its HQ to Pittsburgh’s Southpointe office park.

“Our story is a little different than a lot of technology companies in the Pittsburgh region,” said Mike Maggs, co-founder and President, Sentric. “We’re more of an established start-up. We saw a lot of success as a payroll service bureau, but as the market changed – locally and nationally – we had to build on what we did well. So we did. We became a software company. We moved to the cloud. We went after a new buyer and added new capabilities beyond payroll. We grew our sales team, our marketing team, our product development team and we doubled down on service. And we finally outgrew our office space, which had been our home for nearly 20 years.”

Today, Sentric remains headquartered in Pittsburgh and has offices in Denver, Colo. and Huntington Beach, Calif. with customers in all 50 states. Sentric is anchored by its cloud-based human resource (HR) software, SentricWorkforce. SentricWorkforce gives HR managers all-in-one access to employee information, recruitment, performance, benefits administration, training, payroll, time & attendance, and HR reporting. This year alone, about 70 percent of all new revenue has come from this product.

In the last three years, Sentric staff has grown by more than 30 percent and is expected to grow by another 20 percent in 2015. After securing traditional financing from PNC in 2014, Sentric positioned itself for 60 percent growth over the next three years.

“Selling an HR product and service is fundamentally different than selling a pure payroll offering,” said Maggs. “It’s not all that dissimilar to the attention Pittsburgh gets for shifting from manufacturing to a knowledge based economy. We’re proud that we started out with a blue collar, entrepreneurial spirit and evolved into a national technology player without sacrificing what makes us, us – effortless to use software and amazing service from passionate people.”

Since starting out in payroll in 1994, Sentric has organically grown its customer base to 2,500 companies, including the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Sarris Candies, and Seven Springs Mountain Resort. With a 93 percent client retention rate, and a 96 percent satisfaction rate, company leadership saw an opportunity to better service existing clients with a different offering that could build on Sentric’s core payroll experience.

About Sentric

Founded in 1994 and headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA, Sentric serves the middle market with cloud-based HR, attendance, talent management and payroll solutions. Our mission is to secure clients for life by ensuring software and service work together to solve real business problems. We think our high customer satisfaction and retention rates are pretty darn good, but we’re always improving. Learn more at www.sentric.net.

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Is Your HR Excel Spreadsheet Really Free?

By: Michelle Craddock, Midwest Regional Account Manager

When I talk to clients, I like to compare managing employee information through an Excel spreadsheet to playing a game of Tetris. At first it’s easy to put all the pieces in place, but as it progresses and pieces – or in HR’s case, information – appear at a faster pace, it can get overwhelming and messy, fast.

That’s when we come in. I like to think that we’re kind of like that piece you’ve been waiting on for what feels like an eternity. We help slow the game back down, cleaning up rows and rows of blocks – or data – and help you, the HR department, better manage any new information that’s sure to appear through a workforce platform.HR Administration can be a lot like playing Tetris

When we describe it as such, clients and prospects tend to get a pretty good understanding of both the power and efficiency of choosing a workforce platform. They see the benefits, recognize the opportunities and even get excited just thinking about all the possibilities and free time they’ll have to devote to other aspects of their jobs.

But every now and then we run into someone who doesn’t want to buy the cow when the (Excel) milk is free.

Don’t get me wrong, Excel is a great tool for a number of things. For awhile, it might have even been the best tool to help manage aspects of the HR process, especially for smaller companies with even smaller HR budgets. It just isn’t anymore. HR teams are doing more than ever and need a tool that can keep up with them. That means handling everything from payroll and benefits to talent management and performance tracking, all while maintaining compliance with local and federal regulations.

So, before you say no to an automated solution, take a look at these three areas to find out where your “free” solution might be costing you a lot more than you think.

Time is Money

If you’re handling payroll, HR and TLM administrative tasks in house then we’re willing to bet you don’t have time to do much else. In fact, according to a survey done by the National Small Business Administration, “In 2014, 40% of small business firms reported they spend more than 80 hours per year dealing with federal taxes – that’s two full work weeks spent on just federal taxes.” The survey also reported that respondents said they believe they “spend more than $5,000 on administrative federal taxes.”

But it doesn’t just stop with tax documentation. A quick browse through the Society of Human Resources Management’s (SHRM) website uncovers almost 60 (57, to be exact) possible spreadsheets and workbooks for HR professionals.

Ok, so you probably aren’t using every single spreadsheet available, but let’s assume you’re using 10 of them. And, of those 10, let’s say that each has a total of 30 different places where data needs to be keyed for a hypothetical workforce of 100 employees. Let’s also assume that it takes 5 seconds to enter each piece of data and that those spreadsheets need to be updated quarterly.

If my math is correct, that equals a little more than one full week each quarter (41 hours) for a total of four weeks each year spent entering data. Combine that with the 80 hours spent on federal taxes and your HR department is already losing 6 weeks annually to administrative tasks.

And that’s assuming all of the information entered is correct! Unlike word processing applications that put those handy red lines under your misspellings, tools like Excel are much more literal. Seemingly minor errors such as adding an extra PTO day to an employee record or misplacing a decimal point in an employee salary could end up costing your company some serious cash and damaging the credibility of your HR department.

“Premium Leakage”

Ever heard of the term “Premium Leakage”? If not, it’s something we often use to describe a situation where a company forgets to terminate insurance when they terminate an employee. Premium Leakage can – and often is – a very costly mistake that quickly adds up, too. In some instances, we’ve even heard of companies having to shell out nearly $10,000 per terminated employee. So, what often causes this costly problem? You guessed it, manual entry into multiple spreadsheets.

Know the Rules

Despite what you may have heard, rules are not made to be broken. This is especially true when it comes to maintaining compliance with the U.S. Department of Labor and major regulations, including COBRA and ERISA. Consider the following from the site Compliance Dashboard, “COBRA compliance is an actively litigated area with many pro-employee and beneficiary interpretations by the courts.” In two separate cases, a court even ordered plan administrators to pay up with a sum of $279,840 for failure to provide COBRA notices to two qualified beneficiaries in one case, and medical expenses of $125,000 and attorney fees of $27,000 in the other.

Much like COBRA, not complying with ERISA regulations can also cost companies a pretty penny. Once again, our friends at Compliance Dashboard have some compelling details that show many employers don’t even understand that most of their group insurance benefit plans – medical, dental, vision, life, LTD, STD – are subject to ERISA. They note that “Failing to follow ERISA’s reporting and disclosure requirements, such as filing form 5500, can result in penalties of $1,100 per day for each plan not properly reported.”

This isn’t a few hundred dollars we’re talking about either. Failing to comply with either of these regulations can end up costing companies sums in the hundreds of thousands. Money that could otherwise be saved by simply choosing to work with a partner whose job is to stay on top of the latest regulations and communicate details and needs to clients.

Have you run into issues with your own manual solutions or saved time and money by switching to a workforce platform? Tell us all about it in our comment section below.

The Development Balancing Act

By Linda McClelland, manager of technical services and product development

I know we’ve got some time, but the team here at Sentric is already whipped into a frenzy talking about October’s HRTech conference. It’s an exciting time, in an exciting place and we’ve got some exciting things to share.

I guess you could say we’re pretty excited.

And while we’d love to spill the beans early and tell you all about what’s in store for us at this year’s show, we’ve taken a vow of silence until the big day. So, like a kid before a birthday, we’ll be patiently awaiting the official “OK” to start tearing the paper off of our new toys.

…But that doesn’t means we can’t shake the boxes a little, right? That’s why I’m here, to discuss a subject near and dear to my heart, something we’ve affectionately named the Development Balancing Act.

Let’s start by talking about balance. Go ahead and think about that word for a second. Seriously, close your eyes and picture something that shows balance.

It can be whatever you want; an old-fashioned scale, a tightrope walker, or even an animal balancing items on its furry head. Here’s a link for some inspiration – http://stuffonscoutshead.com/home/.

Now think about all of the above examples. Do they all correctly represent balance? Sure. Are they all drastically different from the next? You bet. My point is that while we all understand the concept of balance, we don’t necessarily give it the same meaning.

As an HRIS provider, the idea of balance can get even trickier, especially when it comes to product development. What X client wants might not be the same as Y client, and vice versa. But regardless, it’s our job to navigate these murky waters to create something that represents a blend of the two.

Often, we do this by evaluating the information we have to best balance short-term wants with long-term needs.

Here’s a good way of looking at it, let’s say I give you $10,000 right now because I’m feeling generous and because it isn’t real money. But with my gift of $10k comes a caveat that you must do one of two things with it right away – either spend it or invest it.

Do you spend the cash on something you want, maybe that pony you’ve always dreamed of, or do you put that money into an investment portfolio that has a high earnings potential?

Both offer an eventual reward – unless you’re taking financial advice from MC Hammer – but the timeframe on that reward varies greatly.

I know, this is just a fictional example, but it does help us illustrate a bigger challenge we often face in the development process. Do we implement a short-term solution for that quick win or do we tie things back to a larger, more strategic vision so that we can deliver clients more long-term value?

Our answer? Yes.

That’s because there really is no right or wrong answer. In a perfect world it would be cut-and-dry, yes or no, but the reality is, sometimes we need to make a change right away and in certain instances, that value will come further down the road after we’ve taken some time to consider all of the possibilities. In both cases, clients can rest assured that upgrades aren’t just implemented when they’re getting industry buzz, but when you, our clients, actually need them.

Now, let’s put some context to this by checking out two of the biggest issues we face when searching for balance – functionality and user experience.

Functionality is what users almost always ask for and what the industry loves to talk about. Need proof? Take a look at this sample RFP from www.CompareHRIS.com. Like a lot of others, it asks participants to outline a host of specific product functionality details. It even includes a section dedicated to functionality on page 4. I’d argue that makes it pretty important.

User experience? Yeah, it’s mentioned…once…on page 14!

So, what gives? Why is functionality such an important piece of the puzzle, yet user experience takes a back seat? Well, because if it’s a good experience then no one really thinks about it, and if it’s bad then no one is using it anyway.

For the most part, functionality is high pressure and urgent (we’re falling behind or have the chance to beat the competition!), while user experience tends to linger, waiting for another day, with big promises, lots of aspiration and no real pressure (think about how much easier it could be to do x…or how much more value people could get out of the system if only we…).

But what’s interesting, is that this focus appears to be shifting as companies look to HRIS as a way to improve the employee experience, reduce cost and better support their business. Look no further than a February 2014 survey from Information Services Group (http://www.isg-one.com/web/expertise/hr-technology/hr-servicedeliverytrends.pdf?aliId=4279154) titled “Human Resources Technology and Service Delivery Trends in 2014.” What topped this year’s list? You guessed it, user experience and the expected benefits of implementing new HR technologies, as well as new HR delivery models.

So what does this all mean? Well, for starters, it proves that a balanced solution is getting even harder to, well, balance. But it also means that users are starting to value the bigger picture and understand that by pushing for things, like a more intuitive user experience, they can improve the employee experience and affect the bottom line.

At Sentric, we’re always keeping balance top-of-mind but know it isn’t something we can figure out on our own. That’s why we’re constantly engaging with our internal teams, partners, and clients to gather feedback and evaluate what’s next. But it doesn’t stop there, we’re also sorting through research, pulling industry information and staying heavily involved in major conferences. Because much like the definition of balance, what our clients need is always changing and it’s our job to stay a step ahead.

Like what we have to say? Have feedback on functionality vs. user experience? Tell us in the comments section below.

5 Tips to Improve (and Rock) Open Enrollment

By: Shannon Maggs, CPP, PHR

If you’re like me, then the term “Open Enrollment” doesn’t exactly make you feel all warm and fuzzy. It might actually make you feel the opposite, landing somewhere between cold and scratchy and chilly and prickly. But really, it shouldn’t.

Why? Because open enrollment isn’t just another month in the year, it’s HR’s time to shine.

That’s right, HR professionals, during open enrollment you’re no longer the opening act, but the headliner. And as such, it’s your job to provide all employees with the vital information and options they need to decide on the benefits that will impact their lives in the coming year.

Like all true rock stars, we know that you didn’t just show up on stage one day. You’ve paid your dues, gone through years of training and are well prepared for this month. We know you’re ready, you know you’re ready but, just in case you still get a little stage fright, we’ve put together 5 helpful tips to help you rock this year’s open enrollment period.

Now get on stage, HR rock star, it’s your moment in the spotlight.

1) Build a Set List: Successful rock stars don’t just jump right into a show, they build a set list and you should, too. Include fan favorites, like updates to any existing plans and pricing, but be sure to add in new tracks to address more recent challenges facing HR. Challenges like higher premiums, entirely new benefit plan options to address those premiums, new and ongoing reporting requirements from the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and the range of new and confusing options and terminology. By understanding and tackling these issues early, you’ll not only have a better handle on the benefits landscape, you’ll also be better prepared to communicate these details with your employees when the enrollment period opens up. Once built, go through each item to determine next steps. That might mean getting quotes, building cost-comparison sheets or even developing FAQ documents to help with any questions that arise.

2) Strike the Right Chord: Most employees fear change and, unfortunately, the benefits world is changing. As an HR rock star, it’s your job to strike the right chord with your audience by providing the necessary information to help calm those fears. Usually, that can be done through education. Rather than starting with plan details, consider giving a big-picture overview of the industry, comparing benefits to national averages and the current trends in healthcare. Define key terms and explain how recent legislature – like the ACA – is impacting both employees and providers. Consider going a step further and showing how company-paid benefits impact an employees’ total compensation package. Once you’ve done that, reinforce HR’s role as the company advocate in the benefits battle. You’re all in this together and employees should feel confident knowing that they have a dedicated and passionate ally in HR.

3) Put on a Show: Tired of the same old song and dance? You’re not alone. According to a survey from GuideSpark (http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20140402005535/en/Study-Reveals-Employee-Handbook-Irrelevant#.U-DVcvldWwP), the employee handbook is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Although the handbook isn’t exactly an essential part of open enrollment, this survey makes it pretty clear that employees want a new and exciting way to obtain and digest information from HR. Consider trying something new this year such as incorporating videos, social media or even holding an open enrollment kick-off party. Pair information with snacks, bring in reps from your insurance providers to answer questions and throw in a few small giveaways along the way to help promote benefits for the upcoming year. Just be sure to have the educational materials available so that after the party, employees can evaluate their options and ask any questions they might have.

4) Give an Encore Performance: Just because the curtain closed after your first performance doesn’t mean the show is over. Be sure to follow up with employees in the weeks to come to help ensure they have all of the information needed to elect the proper benefits. Even in the most engaged workforce, companies will have a few employees who aren’t entirely aware of details and deadlines. In fact, according to a recent article in Workforce magazine, only one-third of employees actually understand that they’re only able to change enrollment options during the open enrollment period or after a qualifying event. As their HR rock star, it’s your job to make sure all employees understand the rules, so preach, educate and follow up until the clock strikes twelve and the open enrollment period ends.

5) Expect the Unexpected: Just like every rock star expects to eventually deal with a bout of laryngitis, it’s important to remember that there may be a few bumps along your open enrollment tour. It’s nothing to get discouraged over; employees simply don’t know what they don’t know. They might not know what question to ask or, in some cases, who they should be asking. This can often lead to last minute issues or larger problems. Do the best you can to be proactive, not reactive, and be sure to keep a healthy reserve of backup singers – like your benefits brokers and providers’ representatives. Having these additional resources piled into your tour bus will provide employees with another resource to clear up any confusion and help keep you well-positioned to give the performance of the century this year and beyond during the open enrollment period.

Prepare for the FPC or CPP Payroll Certification Exam with Sentric!

Preparing for a payroll certification exam? Join the Sentric staff for a CPP (Certified Payroll Professional) or FPC (Fundamentals of Payroll Certification) Study Course! Available in our Pittsburgh, PA and Huntington Beach, CA offices, we’ll help you learn and understand the exam topics and materials in a casual group setting, and help you to be better prepared for the exam. Space is limited, so reserve your spot today by calling 412.884.7600 ext 200 or emailing us at bdougherty@sentric.net. Sentric is an Approved Provider of Payroll Education by the American Payroll Association, and all Sentric training courses qualify for recertification credits.

Upcoming CPP / FPC Preparation Courses:

PITTSBURGH, PA and HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA:

Thursday 8/7/2014

1:00 PM Local Time

CPP Exam Preparatory Course – Module 1- Payroll Concepts

3 hrs

Thursday 8/14/2014

1:00 PM Local Time

CPP Exam Preparatory Course – Module 2 – Payroll Calculations

3 hrs

Thursday 8/21/2014

1:00 PM Local Time

CPP Exam Preparatory Course – Module 3 – Fringe Benefits

3 hrs

Thursday 8/28/2014

1:00 PM Local Time

CPP Exam Preparatory Course – Module 4 – Payroll Reporting & Empl Taxes

3 hrs

Thursday 9/4/2014

1:00 PM Local Time

CPP Exam Preparatory Course – Module 5 – Record Keeping & Payroll Practices

3 hrs

Thursday 9/11/2014

1:00 PM Local Time

CPP Exam Preparatory Course – Module 6 – Payroll Accounting

3 hrs

Thursday 9/18/2014

1:00 PM Local Time

CPP Exam Preparatory Course – Module 7 – Management & Administration

2 hrs