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The 2015 contribution limit for health flexible spending accounts (FSAs) goes up by $50, to $2,550. Also, there will be no change in transit and parking pretax benefit caps unless Congress acts by yearend, the IRS announced.

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It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone to walk into an office or business and see four different generations working side by side. Because of this, generational gaps can occur, which can sometimes cause conflicts or problems within the workplace. The problem can be rooted much deeper, however, whenever open enrollment rolls around. With four generations working together, each can and should want different things included in their benefits package.

The Traditionalists (born 1925-1945) are usually concerned with one thing; A healthy and stable retirement. Traditionalists are now more or less into their 70’s and some are still working simply because they enjoy it or they can’t afford not to. The biggest challenge that employers and experts are finding is the effects on the Traditionalists with the new health care adjustment. Motivation and education will be the catalysts to a successful retirement for these individuals. New medical care and retirement require a more challenging financial responsibility that most may not be used to. It is important to stay up to date with Traditionalist’s knowledge of benefits as well as educating those employees who may be unaware of current benefit trends.

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Last week we were contacted by a person seeking assistance for a very ill relative who was living in their home. They could not take time from work to be at home for the period of time this person was going to need care. We asked why they had not applied for FMLA. After explaining FMLA, they decided to call the employer back and ask that question. Within hours they called us back to tell us the employer had never heard of FMLA (and incidentally they also had not heard of COBRA).

Those of you in official HR positions can now cleanup all that coffee you just spilled when you read this. As incredulous as it may seem many employers are still not aware of some of these basic laws that impact them on a daily basis.

Rather than go into a lengthy explanation of FMLA I’m going to just reprint the overview from the .gov website ( “The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave. Read more

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Consulting : ACA, family medical leave, FMLA, Medical Leave

We’ve all heard the saying that goes something like this: Anyone can be a manager but not everyone can be a leader. The concept of management and leadership is is seen for many people as one and the same, but is that really the case? Is a manager and a leader the same or, when you compare the two, are they completely different? Could it be that we might sometime get a bad apple?

Bad Apples and Piano
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It is said that a picture can say one-thousand words. Is this true? Pictures represent a single moment in time - frozen, if you will, in a single instant. (Yes, this is a nod to The Day of the Doctor.) But, what is a picture..REALLY?


The 1,000 Word 

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Taking A Timeout

I have often said that I love technology. So, to be clear, let me say it again: “I LOVE TECHNOLOGY.”BUT...(you knew there was a “but” coming, didn’t you?) we live in a society that becomes more connected each day. We simply do not disconnect anymore. When was the last time many of us took a sick or vacation day and didn’t do ANY work? Do you feel like you really did not disconnect? I do not and, for many, I would assume the same could be true for you. Could it be we should sometime take a professional timeout???

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Do you find yourself sometimes overwhelmed by social media?  Are you getting ever closer to the moment when you scream "Calgon, take me away!"  (Yes, I'm a child of the 80s!)  Do you have trouble keeping up with all aspects of the constant stream of information??  If you've answered "yes" to any of these..know this.  You are not alone!  I'm right there with you. Maybe you feel like social media has taken over your life?  Has it? Do you need to discover what matters to YOU?

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Hi Everyone,

This week in my masters course, we are talking about how Internal Social Media plays a large role in some companies day to day functions. Promotions, commendations, and even training can be put on Internal social media to ensure that the people that are right for the job are getting the jobs and the recognition that they deserve. 

My question to you is, does an internal social media depict an accurate representation of what the people that are using it are actually using it for, or is it just another way to "watch" what workers are doing on a daily basis?

The fact that we use social media in so many different ways makes it really hard to determine what way a company is actually going to use an internal social media outlet for. 
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Anyone out there sccans and index their personnel files...yes we are still using folders and physical files, but since I've been here one of my many projects is to get us to the next leel and is time to do away with physical files. 

Does anyone knows how should I file them electronically.  My idea is to file them as if I am looking at the physical file, yet only allow permissions and access to our managers to certain parts of the file.



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Social media has become the norm in today's society.  Would you as a human resource professional utilize online social media searches on potential candidates to help in your screening and background check practices?  What is the consensus?
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For 2015, the 401(k) contribution limit for employees will increase to $18,000, and the “catch-up” contribution for those 50 and over adjusts to $6,000, with a higher total contribution limit (employer plus employee) of $53,000, the IRS announced. Here’s our look at all the defined contribution and defined benefit limit changes.

HR professionals should convey to employees their higher plan contribution limits for next year. Not all plan participants will be able to fund their 401(k) accounts up to the maximum, but the contribution ceiling is a goal they should keep in mind, and may encourage those who can defer extra dollars for their retirement savings to do so.

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High-earning employees will find more of their compensation subject to Social Security payroll (FICA) taxes in 2015, when maximum taxable pay will increase to $118,500 from $117,000.

​Before Jan. 1, U.S. employer should:

  • Adjust their payroll systems to account for the higher taxable maximum under the Social Security portion of FICA.
  • Notify affected employees that more of their paychecks will be subject to FICA.

The portion of the Social Security FICA tax that employees pay remains unchanged at the 6.2 percent withholding rate up to the taxable maximum. Correspondingly, the portion of the tax that employers cover also remains at 6.2 percent of employee wages up to the taxable maximum.

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If you think you have figured out some clever scheme to terminate older workers and hire younger ones to lower your benefits costs you might want to think about it again.  Rather than expound in great detail I offer the article provided by Proskaur.

Here’s the deal – as much as any of us may dislike or disagree with the ACA it is law and it will continue to implement. You need to understand the economics that drive this law and prepare for a changing business environment.

And now if you have nothing else to do you can consider this.

Let’s start with good old Mom who told me when I wanted  anything – “Bill you can have anything you want but first you need to tell me how you plan to pay for it?” “You pay for it Mom!” was never the answer! 

And my economics professor who said “If you understand nothing else understand that money in must be bigger than money out!”

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Consulting : employee benefits, reduce benefit costs

Big data helps employers ascertain to what extent their job screening efforts contribute to successful hiring, leading to a validity conversation, according to an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission attorney.
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This week I was tasked with understanding the use of communication audits within human resource management within my Human Resource Management Course.  The idea of a communication audit is pretty self explanatory.  Within a company, there could be many types of communication breakdowns.   As a human resource specialist you need to ask yourself these questions. Now, my question to the human resource experts out there is have you utilized communication audits within your career and if so, do you believe that they are beneficial for a successful organization?

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This week in my class with New England College of Business and Finance we are exploring the world of communications audits. We have really dove into the meaning and the overall effectiveness of these audits and we are finding that they tend to be well needed among companies. My question to this panel is:

Why do communication audits create a feeling of ease when we know that a communication audit has gone well? What makes us feel as though communication audits are needed within our workplaces? And why are communication audits so effective in making sure that the people within a company know how to communicate with each other and others outside the company?
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We realized that in 2015 we will have 27 pay periods.  How are other companies handling this? 

Benefits - Will you have one pay period where you won't take benefit deductions(medical, dental ect) or will you change your calculations to spread over 27 pay periods?
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Determine if or when your health plan will reach the cost thresholds for the 2018 excise tax, using your plan's current cost trend rate.
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The sharing economy is booming, but employers shouldn't require employees to use it on work trips, a management attorney says.
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