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COVID-19 Question & Answer

Question: Will Launchways continue to provide service if the COVID-19 virus becomes widespread?

Answer: Yes, our business continuity plan does provide contingencies for this type of occurrence. We have the systems and processes in place that enable all Launchways team members to service our clients remotely.

Question: Is there insurance coverage for loss of income as a result of the COVID-19 virus?

Answer: In most cases, it’s unlikely your current coverages will address implications of COVID-19. Property policies are activated by physical loss and/or damage to your insured property. Because the virus is not a covered “cause of loss” nor is it considered a direct physical loss, insurance carriers have taken the position that losses due to the COVID-19 outbreak will not be covered.

Question: Do any of my policies offer coverage for the COVID-19 virus?

Answer: Health and life insurance will likely cover Coronavirus-related claims including medical care and if needed, short-term disability benefits. Workers compensation coverage for employees could apply if the illness was contracted as a result of employment. However, the exact cause of infection can be difficult to determine, especially as the virus becomes more widespread.

Question: Is there loss of income coverage I can purchase now for the COVID-19 virus?

Answer: Currently there are no insurance carriers that will provide coverage resulting from the COVID-19 virus outbreak with the exception of the coverages mentioned above.

Question: Will there be coverage in the future for loss due to a virus?

Answer: The insurance marketplace has a very limited offerings for virus-activated coverage. We are currently exploring options with our insurance carrier partners and will keep our clients informed as new insights emerge.

Question: Am I liable if someone gets the COVID-19 virus at my premises?

Answer: Individuals can contract the virus almost anywhere, and it is rare to be able to connect the contraction of a virus with a particular business or location. While we cannot guarantee what actions potential claimants may or may not take, because of the inability to connect the virus to a specific premise, virus-related claims are unlikely to cause liability.

Question: What should I do as an employer?

Answer: If your business/industry allows, you can encourage employees to refrain from non-essential travel or commuting. Written policies should be explicit about when employees with potentially transmissible conditions can consider returning to work. We encourage employers to stay informed on the virus. Access the World Health Organization and Center for Disease Control websites for more information.

Additionally, Launchways recently published a blog post on best-practices for employers in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Payroll Outsourcing: Ultimate Guide For Beginners

Payroll is a key driver of your business, so it’s important to get it right. Organizations with proper payroll processes in place are free to thrive, while companies with flawed payroll systems can be susceptible to significant legal risks, fines, and employee relations issues.

However, payroll and regulations are extremely complex. With payroll rules and regulations constantly changing, it’s almost impossible for the average business to keep up.

There are upwards of 10,000 federal, state, and local tax regulations that affect the way employers process payroll. And failing to follow these properly can result in large fines from the IRS. According to the IRS, more than 1.8 million tax returns were audited in 2016 for businesses with income between $200,000 and $1 million. In 2016, 978,564 businesses of all sizes were assessed civil penalties.

Growing businesses want to avoid these potential risks but find it nearly impossible to keep up with the wide range of laws pertaining to employment. This is why more and more businesses are turning to outsourced payroll companies to bridge this gap in expertise. Recent research by Robert Half indicates that 39% of U.S. companies outsource payroll services. 

Outsourcing Payroll: Three Reasons Why Businesses Should

  • Save time (time that can then be used to focus on growing your business) 
  • Gain access to the technology and expertise to perform payroll (management services) well
  • Reduce costs and risks associated with failing to follow tax and employment regulations

Ultimately, as your business evolves and grows, your team will become larger and your payroll (management processes) will become increasingly complex. As an employer, you’re expected to understand all hour, wage, and employment laws. Mistakes in these key areas can lead to audits and penalties, something a growing business simply doesn’t need.

For many growing businesses, outsourcing payroll prevents a good opportunity to streamline operations and reduce risk. However, each company must decide if (the benefits of outsourcing payroll) is right for them. We put together this ultimate guide to help you explore the pros and cons of outsourcing payroll, so you can make an informed decision about how to handle your business’s payroll.

This Outsourcing Payroll Guide Will Teach You:

  • Advantages of outsourcing payroll  
  • Disadvantages of outsourcing payroll 
  • What to look for in  payroll outsourcing companies
  • Why leverage a payroll provider’s HRIS 
  • Questions to ask a potential payroll outsourcing provider

Benefits of Outsourcing Payroll

Time Savings

Payroll is a time-consuming process. From keeping track of benefits deductions, wage garnishments, new hires, terminations, PTO, and state and federal regulations can be challenging. Outsourcing payroll allows you and your team to focus on core business functions that drive revenue and help you grow.

Reduced Risk

Penalties for errors, omissions, or late payroll tax filings can be very costly. The IRS estimates that 40% of small businesses pay annual penalties for incorrect filings. Beyond tax risks, your organization must also comply with all state and federal wage and employment laws. Failure to comply with these laws can lead to audits and fines. However, working with a payroll outsourcing provider can ensure that your business has all compliance bases covered. This will give you the peace of mind knowing your business won’t be susceptible to these risks and fines.

Access to Experts

As your business continues to grow, you’ll have to comply with more and more state and federal regulations. Have a team of HR and compliance experts by your side to help you navigate these complex changes can be invaluable for your organization.

Data Security

Payroll outsourcing services use secure online portals to store and protect your employees’ sensitive information.

Reduced Payroll Costs

For many small-to-mid-sized businesses, completing payroll in-house can be a money burner. Of course, actual cost is company-specific, but you can calculate how much time your team currently spends calculating payroll, preparing w-2’s, onboarding new-hires, producing reports for accounting, etc. Paying a salaried team member (or doing it yourself) can end up costing your organization a lot more than working with a payroll outsourcing company. For most growing businesses, working with a payroll outsourcing provider is a cost-effective option.

Disadvantages of Outsourcing Payroll

How Great CEO’s Don’t Spend Their Time

The way that a CEO spends her time makes a huge difference in what gets done in a company. Few CEO’s get the chance to see into how other CEO’s are spending their time, they don’t have the chance to compare their decisions to those of others. So when I saw that Michael Porter published an extensive study called  The Leader’s Calendar  in the Harvard Business Review, I dug in.

1. They don’t get much “me” time.

The average CEO in Porter’s study slept just under 7 hours a night and worked out about 45 minutes a day on average. The most disciplined of them had about 3 hours a day of family time, but they were diligent about protecting it!

Running a business whether you are a small business owner, or a corporate CEO is all consuming. For your well-being, health and longevity you need to be diligent about treating your body well, getting good sleep and spending time on activities that nourish you.

2. They don’t hide in their office, work from home, or depend on email to get things done.

The best CEOs spend the majority of their time (61% in Porter’s study) face-to-face with their team, their clients and their partners. In order to do that they need to be very disciplined about the time they spend on email! Leaders naturally get copied on a lot of stuff that they don’t need to answer or take action on. Separating out what needs their attention (a small fraction) from that which can be ignored, archived or deleted is a major skill that CEOs need to develop.

Porter reminds us that nothing substitutes for face-to-face interaction.

3. They don’t let their agenda get set by others.

One of my best bosses used to tell me, “If you go to a meeting with Bill Gates, who’s meeting is it? It doesn’t matter who set the meeting, if Gates is in it, it’s his meeting!” He told me this story to remind me that, as a leader, we set the agenda. In Porter’s study, just shy of 50% of the CEOs time was devoted to driving forward the goals or objectives they had set for the quarter or year. They know what they want to accomplish and make sure that everyone else does too.

Porter calls out as a best practice CEOs who look back every quarter at where their time went the previous quarter so that they can eliminate those things that took them away from advancing their agenda.

4. They don’t ignore the fires.

About a third of the CEOs time was spent “dealing with unfolding developments”. There’s always something that comes up, employees that quit, customers who are disgruntled, competitors who introduce something new… Those things need to be dealt with in a timely way — but without getting distracted from their goals and agenda.

5. They don’t get distracted by the routine or ceremonial duties of the office.

A little over a half a day a week got eaten up by routine duties, or events where the CEOs presence added gravitas but didn’t advance any agenda. The best CEOs worked to minimize the time spent on these activities, substituting someone else, or eliminating the need for it altogether.

6. They don’t forget their team.

One of the most important levers for these top CEOs were their direct reports and their direct reports. The best CEOs know that nurturing and developing their team is a prime responsibility for them and allocate their time accordingly (about one-third of their time was devoted here). By staying in contact with this group they were able to develop an “early warning system” to see problems before they grew too large. It also helped to burst the bubble that sometimes surrounds the leader where all the information they get is highly filtered. Finally, it keeps them tuned in to the talent pipeline so that they can nurture the next generation of leaders.

7. They don’t skip meetings.

Meetings are highly leveraged activities for CEOs. They can see a lot of people face-to-face, they can advance their agenda, they can hear information straight from the front lines. When you are the CEO, going to meetings is your job.

I don’t think there are any of us who love meetings, but getting good at running an effective, time-efficient meeting is a core skill for a CEO.

8. They don’t skimp on alone time.

Once a CEO has been with their team and has soaked up information, they need time to think. Most CEOs do that best alone. The best CEOs spent about 25% of their time alone, yet it was often in small segments of less than an hour. Blocking off time for thinking was critical to the success of the highest performing CEOs.

Key takeaways
There is one resource that we all have in equal measure, time.  If you are going to be a great leader you need to be proactive in determining how best to use that time. Working through your team by seeing them in meetings and one-to-one, gathering your own information and spending some quiet time to think it all through will make you more able to advance your agenda and succeed as a leader. If you don’t you may experience business owner burnout.

About the Author
Brad Farris is Principal Advisor at Anchor Advisors, Ltd. Anchor Advisors helps small business owners to make the transition from the center of all things in their business to a leader with experts who report to them. To find out more visit anchoradvisors.com

How to Create an Intentional Company Culture to Support Your Growth

Whether you know exactly what kind of culture you want your company to embody or you haven’t given it much thought before, now is the time to put your company culture under the microscope. Every company can benefit from being more intentional about its culture and from examining new ways to integrate its culture into every part of the organization.

In today’s post we’ll explore five key components of an intentional, positive company culture:

  • Creating an intentional culture: define & redefine your company culture
  • Fostering joint ownership: get company mission/vision buy-in from employees
  • Leveraging people power: put the right people in the right seats
  • Creating meaningful work for employees: put culture first to drive performance and retention
  • Aligning employee benefits with your culture: develop a strategic approach to your employee benefits program

Creating an intentional culture: define & redefine your company culture

Every company has a culture, whether they know it or not. Culture is defined by how a company operates, how it treats its employees and how its employees treat the company in return. When culture aligns with the company’s mission and vision, the result is increased employee performance and retention, innovative solutions, and higher profit margins. More work gets done, and everyone from the receptionist through the CEO enjoys their work more.

But company culture needs to be tended to and directed continuously. It is not enough to hold meetings to decide what your culture will be, or even to implement policies to enforce the culture, and then forget culture altogether. Remember, company culture is a living, evolving thing which will develop over time. If you do not direct its course then it may well stray from your original vision, affecting every part of your company. If you neglect company culture, it can become toxic, encouraging harassment and infighting, stifling collaboration and causing high turnover rates.

That’s why it’s so important to intentionally shape your company culture and ingrain it into every process and policy throughout the company. Here are some actionable ways you can do this:

  • First you need to determine what kind of culture you want your company to embody, based largely on your mission/vision.
  • Next you should examine each process, policy, and promotion and make sure they align with that culture.
  • Finally, you should regularly review whether your current goals, methods, and employees reflect your culture and make sure that you are on the right track.

Fostering joint ownership: get company mission/vision buy-in from employees

The hard truth is that your company’s mission and vision are meaningless without employee buy-in. Luckily, there is an easy way to get employee buy-in: put your mission and vision back into the heart of everything that you do. And, more importantly, give employees ownership over your mission and vision. Seek feedback at every level and empower team members to define how their work contributes to the mission/vision. Provide opportunities for employees to take on new projects that they see as working towards the mission and vision and put the mission/vision at the heart of review and meeting processes.

Another important component of employee buy-in is transparency. Keep your employees up to date on company goals, how those goals contribute to the mission, and how their work ties into those goals. That way new product launches, sales targets, and marketing campaigns will start being part of a bigger picture rather than the means to raise profits. And if you hold everyone in the organization, including managers and c-suite executives, accountable to the mission/vision then you will foster an even deeper culture of shared values and efforts towards a common goal.

Leveraging people power: put the right people in the right seats

Culture is not just the result of policies and practices: it is also defined by people. Who you hire and who you put in positions of power says a lot about what you stand for as a company. Also, your managers will be the standard bearers for your culture and how it defines their team’s operations.

Make sure that your advancement policies match the culture that you are trying to promote. If you encourage your employees to take ownership over the company mission/vision and culture, but do not provide opportunities for upward mobility, then your message will come across as hollow and disingenuous. But if you reward hard work and cultural buy-in with genuine advancement opportunities, then you will be a lot closer to having an authentic and organic company culture.

It is also important to be strategic in who you hire or promote. How you treat all your employees is crucial to your culture. Keep in mind that when you bring someone on or promote them, you send a clear message to the rest of the organization that they represent what you value.

This means that you should make sure that your practices make everyone in your company feel valued and that you should hire and promote people who reflect the culture that you are trying to create. It is also important to promote people who buy into the company culture because your managers are your front line in creating and maintaining an intentional culture that permeates everything that your company does.

Creating meaningful work for employees: put culture first to drive performance and retention

Providing meaningful work is perhaps the greatest challenge facing modern employers. Millennial workers in particular prioritize meaningful work over pay. They aren’t staying at their jobs for nearly as long as employees used to. Instead they are always looking for the next, most exciting opportunity. If all your company is offering them is a paycheck, your employees won’t be motivated to excel and you can’t expect to keep talent around for long.

The good news is that putting your culture, mission, and vision at the heart your company will do wonders for your employee performance and retention because it will make the work meaningful. Research by Deloitte found that 73% of employees that believe that they work at a purpose driven organization are engaged with their work, versus 23% who do not. Employees can see how their work contributes to the goals of the company and can take ownership over the success of a shared venture, with a common culture. Managers will not have to assert that their team’s work is important, it will be clear to everyone.

Aligning employee benefits with your culture: develop a strategic approach to your employee benefits program

How you treat your employees says a lot about your company and is a major component of company culture. One of the most direct ways that you can align your employee policies with the culture that you want to create is through your benefits package.

Benefits are an opportunity to show your employees that they are more than a cog in a corporate machine and will help them buy into your culture, mission, and vision. Vacation time, in-office perks, parental leave, and insurance are all ways to give back to employees and make them feel like a valued part of a community with a shared culture and mutual goals. But, more of everything is not necessarily the right answer. Instead, the benefits package should be strategically tailored to your particular company culture. Think about what values are at the heart of your intentional culture and choose the benefits that match it.

Take, for example, stereotypical silicon valley tech companies have a culture in which work is life, but is also supposed to be fun. They provide all of the amenities employees might need, from meals and showers to pool tables and beer on tap. By and large they successfully foster a culture in which their employees lives truly do revolve around the office; never just working but never entirely off the clock, either. That approach works because it is in line with the culture that the companies espouse through every level of their organizations, but it does not work with every culture. For example, if your company is all about hard work but respect for employee time, then maybe skip the ping pong table and opt for a flexible vacation policy.

Key Takeaways:

In today’s post we examined many components of creating a healthy company culture. Some key takeaways include:

  • Bring intentionality to your company culture. Clearly define the culture you want to create and examine how that culture can be integrated into every part of the company.
  • Make sure to get employee buy-in to the company mission/vision by giving them joint ownership of them. When employees define the reality and success of the mission and vision, they become invested in the company’s well-being and the continuation of its culture.
  • Who you hire and promote defines what you value and who will be in charge of maintaining your culture.
  • A vibrant, transparent culture creates meaningful work for all of your employees, driving performance and retention.
  • Shape your benefits package to reflect your company culture. Choose the benefits that reflect your values and demonstrate to employees how much you value them.

By now it should be clear why developing an intentional culture is so important and what areas of your company you need to focus on to accomplish it. But creating a great culture is a massive task, where do you even get started? Well, luckily a fantastic group of panelists will help you chart your course to a positive company culture in our upcoming webinar.

Launchways Welcomes New Client Artisan Talent

CHICAGO, IL (October 25, 2018) Launchways, a leading provider of human resources, employee benefits, and business insurance solutions for growing businesses, today announced it has added Artisan Talent as a client.

Artisan Talent has selected Launchways as their employee benefits broker, benefits administration solution, and ongoing compliance support partner. When asked why Artisan Talent chose to work with Launchways Bejan Douraghy, Artisan Talent CEO, said “We chose to work with Launchways because they presented a comprehensive solution to the compliance and benefits challenges we were facing. Now we can focus our time and attention on growing our business knowing Launchways has the people side of things covered.”

Gary Schafer, Launchways President, noted “Artisan Talent is a fast-growing organization which values relationships and understands how important getting the people part of their business right is. They’re the exact type of business we’re excited to work with to improve their processes around employee benefits and human resources compliance.”

The Launchways team will conduct an analysis of Artisan Talent’s workforce needs, then build a strategic benefits plan designed to meet those needs. Additionally, the Launchways team will administer Artisan Talent’s benefits program, conducting open enrollments and providing ongoing support for employee benefits inquires. Additionally, Launchways compliance experts will conduct a comprehensive compliance audit and ensure all necessary human resources processes are in place.

About Launchways

Launchways provides business leaders with the resources and guidance they need to build scalable people processes to support long-term growth. Founded in 2009, Launchways has helped thousands of businesses better approach the people side of their business through strategic solutions for human resources, employee benefits, and business insurance. For more information, please visit www.launchways.com.

About Artisan Talent

We are a unique digital, creative, and marketing staffing agency. Artisan has a “boutique” approach to both our talent and clients where we advocate for the best talent and we nurture relationships with the best clients, from small agencies to major corporations. We have offices across the country and place talent nationwide. Our specialty is the match, and our relationships are paramount. To learn more visit their website: www.artisantalent.com.

Launchways Partners with LifeCare to Provide a Best-in-Class Employee Discount Program

Launchways today announced a partnership with LifeCare to offer clients employee discounts through LifeMart. LifeMart is the premier employee discount platform, offering thousands of discounts on child care, care rentals, hotels, computers, cell phones, event tickets, gyms, and more.

Launchways will offer the LifeMart program to its employee benefits clients as an additional perk of being part of the Launchways benefits brokerage. “We are so excited to be offering this additional value add to our benefits clients via the LifeMart employee discount platform. We hope LifeMart discounts will allow our clients to provide their employees immense value” said Launchways President, Gary Schafer.

LifeMart helps employers:
• Offer a free high value benefit to employees
• Save administrators time by managing the discount program
• Take all the credit for helping their employees save time and money

Launchways CEO, James Taylor, noted “Innovation is what we do here at Launchways, so we’re always looking for new ways to help our clients provide more value in their employee benefits programs. We believe LifeMart is the perfect addition to our suite of benefits solutions.”

About Launchways
Launchways provides business leaders with the resources and guidance they need to build scalable people processes to support long-term growth. Founded in 2009, Launchways has helped thousands of companies better approach the people side of their business through strategic solutions for human resources, employee benefits, and business insurance. For more information, please visit www.launchways.com.

About LifeCare
LifeCare provides employer-sponsored work-life benefits to 61,000 clients, including Fortune 500 companies and large branches of the federal government, representing 100 million members nationwide. In addition to MilkShip, LifeCare also provides a full suite of work-life solutions that save members time with personal life needs such as Backup Care Connection, Senior Care Management, Homework Connection, BenConnect, and Mothers@Work. LifeCare also operates LifeMart, an online discount shopping website that provides real savings on everyday products and needs. LifeCare is headquartered in Shelton, CT.