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December 11, 2017

Payroll Year-End Prep Checklist

If you’re not already preparing for year-end, it’s time to start looking at some items that need to be considered for payroll purposes. Before we know it, the new year will be here! So as you finish up payroll this year, keep in mind the following items:

  1. Employee Data – Confirm identifying employee (both inactive and active) information, such as address, ssn, name, etc for W-2 purposes.
  2. Year-end Bonuses – If you offer bonuses in December, note whether you’d like the amounts to be considered gross or “grossed up” for the required FICA/Medicare taxes. For example, a gross $1,000 bonus (paid at an employee’s current withholding) will handle taxes differently from a net $1,000 ($1,082.84 gross) bonus. Please let us know these amounts before your last payroll of the year or before December 29th.
  3. Year-end Adjustments – These year-end adjustments include, but are not limited to, S-Corp Shareholders Health Premiums, personal use of company automobile, 3rd party sick Pay. Anything you need to include outside of your normal payroll, let us know for your last payroll of the year or before December 29th to make the adjustments.
  4. Tax Rates – Provide us with your SUTA Tax Rate Notice (State Unemployment Rate) for 2018.
  5. Deposit Requirements – In October of every year, the IRS determines if a change for the next calendar needs to be changed, depending on the total tax liability in the company. The company either pays these taxes monthly or semi-weekly, depending on what the IRS has determined. If you have received a notice that indicates your “deposit requirements for Form 941” have changed for 2018, please forward the notice to us.
  6. Time Off Accrual/Balances – Confirm employee PTO/vacation/sick balances. Take note of sick days, vacation time, and other allowed time off, carry over rules, depending on your company’s policies.
  7. Employee updates – Have employees review their withholding allowances before the new year. Please let us know of any new pay-rates or deductions that are effective for the new year.

As you are making plans, prepping for the holidays and other year-end items, we hope this payroll year-end checklist will alleviate some of the stress during this already busy time of the year. In fact, we wish for you, that this is truly the most wonderful time of year!

November 22, 2017

Top Ten Reasons to Outsource Payroll

To outsource, means “to contract out certain business task, previously performed internally, to an independent outside professional organization.” Below are some of the top ten reasons to outsource your payroll with Paragon Payroll & HR!

  1. Save Time and Money – Payroll is an essential part of business, and outsourcing your payroll will save you time and money as it cuts cost to train employees and develop a payroll department within your company.
  2. Improved Company Focus – As a business owner or manager with more time and money at your fingertips, your focus can be on what really matters – the success of your business!
  3. More Internal Resources – With a outsourced payroll company in place, you can free up your employees in-house to do more important tasks directly related to your business.
  4. Access to Professional Payroll Expertise – Paragon Payroll & HR is local and we are here for you to assist with payroll matters as quickly and easily as possible.
  5. Increase Accuracy – Our payroll specialists are trained to make sure your information is done and processed accurately and timely for you.
  6. Access to Several Payroll-related Functions – The right choice in a payroll partner also gives employers access to other payroll-related functions, such as  timekeeping solutions, human resources support, mobile pay stub delivery, etc.
  7. Peace of Mind –  Outsourcing can mean less headache and less worry for you. Leave it to your payroll company to deal with any payroll-related issues. You have better things to do!
  8. Less Liability –  The last thing you want to deal with is a penalty from the IRS or state. Partnering with a payroll company means you have less risk of your taxes being paid late, and thus avoiding penalties. If you receive a notice, forward to it us, and we will take care of it.
  9. Compliance – With the constant changes in governmental rules and regulations, outsourcing your payroll will give you that advantage of staying ahead and keeping your company compliant.
  10. A Partner – By choosing to outsource your payroll with Paragon Payroll & HR, you’re also getting a partner. We hope you consider choosing us today. Call us today for a quote! We are excited to get started!
November 15, 2017

Bi-Weekly vs. Semi-Monthly Basics 201

Bi-weekly and semi-monthly payrolls are the most common pay frequency among employers. The terms “bi-weekly” and “semi-monthly” can be a little confusing when it comes to payroll. Both prefixes, “bi” and “semi” mean “two or twice” but have different meanings, especially when it comes to scheduled payroll dates. Bi- means “every other” or “every two” while semi- means “half” or “twice” in the sense that it happens two times.

In payroll, bi-weekly means employees are paid every other week, while semi-monthly means employees are paid twice a month. Typically, each month for bi-weekly payrolls, employees also paid twice a month, but two months out of the year, employees are paid three times, instead of two. Confused yet? If you are, hopefully we can clarify a thing or two about the difference of bi-weekly and semi-monthly pay frequencies. Even though they tend to stay together throughout the year, there are several differences and implications in payroll.

Bi-weekly

  • Every other week or every 2 weeks
  • 26 payrolls in a year (52 weeks in a year / 2 weeks)
  • Salaried employees typically work 80 hours each pay period (2,080 hours / 26 payrolls)
  • Hourly employees’ overtime is easily calculated
  • Employees will know it will be (every other) weekday;
  • More consistent and preferred for employees. They know when the payday is coming – (i.e. every other Friday)
  • The number of days in the pay period is consistently 10 workdays or 14 total days (two 7-day workweeks)
  • Less consistent for budgeting for employers and employees, as some months have 3 payrolls in a month & are different dates in the month

Semi-Monthly

  • Twice a month or every half month
  • 24 payrolls in a year (12 months  x 2 times)
  • Salaried employees typically work 86.67 hours each pay period (2,080 hours / 24 payrolls)
  • Hourly employees’ overtime often crosses over pay periods. Sometime that means extra work for those calculating payroll hours (contact us to learn more about how our timekeeping solutions can solve this issue for your company)
  • Employees are typically paid on the 15th/End , 10th/25th of the month, etc and they fall on different days of the month (depending on month, weekends, holiday, etc)
  • The number of days in the pay period changes depending on day of month; it might be 16 days or 15 days, depending on how many days are in the month (31 days, 30 days or 28/29 days in February)
  • More consistent for budgeting for employers and employees; it works great for paying bills (as paydates are always on the 15th for instance)

Just remember, a bicycle is a cycle with 2 wheels, and in payroll, biweekly means you’re paid every 2 weeks. And while we’re on the topic of transportation in Portland, how about those semi-trucks we love driving next to on the freeway? I bet you didn’t know that a semi-truck is a trailer without the front wheels, so about half of it is missing. In payroll, that means you’re paid halfway through the month as well as the final half, depending on your payroll schedule.

Of course, we must not forget about monthly and weekly payrolls. Monthly is once a month, paid 12 times a year, and weekly is once a week, paid 52 times a year. Weekly is the most preferred by employees, but payroll processing cost is the highest, as this requires more times in a year to process payroll, therefore is not very common.

 

November 8, 2017

Tips for First-Time Business Owners

“What do you wish you knew before you started your business?”

Successful, Portland small business owner, Sam Thannickal, shares his insight on what he wishes he knew before he first started his small businesses years ago. Sam has over 30 years of experience in payroll, tax, and consulting.

Find a Structure that Fits. Partners, S-Corps, & LLCs…oh my! How do you know what’s the best fit for your business? Once you choose a businesss structure, it’s relatively difficult to shift to another type of structure. Do the research to find the best form of ownership & organization that will benefit your situation for liability protection and tax savings. Contact your accountant or attorney for professional advice.

– Sole Proprietorship
– Limited & limited liability partnerships (LLP)
– C-Corporation
– S-Corporation
– Limited liability companies (LLC)

Monitor, Modify, Repeat. Your business plan is all about effective strategy and communication. It is an important document presenting the company’s strategy and expected financial performance for the future years. It’s what you do in your business and how you plan to carry it out. As you move along in your business, it is important to monitor its progress, making sure company goals and benchmarks are being met. Update it regularly, as needed.

Think Proactive. Set your business up for success! At the initial stages of your business, plan and implement forward-thinking. Instead of reactive measures after issues arise, it’s a good idea to account for potential issues, as much as you possibly can. Remember, it’s okay to fail and make mistakes. That’s how we learn. But do it with a proactive approach, and think ahead. Creating documentation for business practices by safeguarding your business value is vital to the success of a small business is an example of how you can succeed at business proactively.

Outsource as an Option. To outsource or to keep it in-house? Before you dive deep into your business, it is important to know your options to outsource certain business functions. When making your decision, be sure to weigh in the cost, resources, control and location. Outsourcing makes sense when it increases efficiency and effectiveness in your business. We know outsourcing your payroll functions to us will save you time and money! Call us today to find out more about our services.

Learn to Love Networking. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be an extrovert to be good at networking! Introvert or extrovert, it is vital to your business to build a support network of like-minded business peers in your local area. Share what you do best in your industry, creating conversations and thus, opportunities to build up your business. Remember it’s not about who’s the best at small talk; it’s about building strong, beneficial relationships and connections within your business network.

 

If you are a new business owner, we would love to come alongside with you. Contact us today!

 

November 1, 2017

Don’t “Fall Back” On the Clock – Daylight Savings End

The leaves are falling, morning commutes are a little darker, and November is finally here. That means for the majority of us in America, Daylight Savings Time End is just around the corner. On November 5, 2017, at 2:00AM, we will be gaining an extra hour of sleep! But what does that mean for my employees who are scheduled for the night shift and “on the clock” at 2am on Sunday morning?

Employers are required to pay employees for all hours worked. Non-exempt employees who are on the clock at 2:00am on November 5th are essentially working the 1:00 – 2:00AM hour two times, therefore they must be paid one additional hour, unless there is already anticipation of the change in time in scheduling. Keep in mind the overtime pay implications during this time change, as well. Employees may be entitled to overtimes due to Daylight Savings ending. Be sure to include the additional hours worked into both regular and overtime hours calculations.

Our timekeeping solutions are so intuitive and automatically account for these changes depending on your time zone. Contact us today for more information!

 

 

September 20, 2017

Case Study Call Center

call center human capital optimization South Jordan

Call centers that optimize their human capital can significantly increase efficiency and productivity. This was the intent of our example company, a customer service center which had launched eight years previously with one healthcare client. Last year, when they adopted Workforce Management Suite, they provided inbound and outbound support for six health insurers, three nationwide financial clients, and two auto insurance firms.

In optimizing human capital, the business had four specific goals:

  • Increase precision of scheduling to maximize employee efficiency
  • Decrease overtime and better enforce employee breaks
  • Keep labor costs in check while still providing a high level of service
  • Accommodate associates’ scheduling preferences to increase employee morale and reduce turnover

Our case study had purchased a software-based, onsite WFM system five years before switching to Workforce Management Suite. It was fairly sophisticated when installed, but the manufacturer had not kept up with the latest technology and its value diminished as the organization evolved. Furthermore, the software updates were expensive and the system was down for days when something went wrong.

Solution – Workforce Management Suite

The forward-thinking owners were eager to upgrade to a call center Workforce Management system that made it effortless to implement the latest Workforce Management best practices to get a leg up in a crowded call center market. Though they had spent thousands on their onsite software, they knew their needs would be better met with an SaaS solution. Workforce Management Suite, which contains TimeWorksPlus, TimeSimplicity, and TimeWorksTouch, capably met each of their targets, as outlined below.

Scheduling Precision

With TimeSimplicity, the scheduling solution in Workforce Management Suite, department managers can create standard schedule templates for busy and slow sales periods, which vary per department. With the standard schedule in place, managers can drag and drop to customize for each client, employee group, or other department-specific factors. The system has essentially eliminated coverage gaps, over-staffing, and departmental imbalances.

Strategic Forecasting

TimeSimplicity gives managers innovative tools to evaluate attendance history, identify trends, and forecast future needs. As the weeks go by, supervisors have an ever-increasing amount of key data to help elevate the accuracy of scheduling.

Overtime and Break Management

Companies that fail to control overtime, can really take a financial hit. Workforce Management Suite customizable overtime warnings have reduced labor expenses while proving to be a huge timesaver for managers.

Reduced Labor Costs

Timecard estimation was common at the business prior to Workforce Management Suite. The call center employees would estimate start and end times after the fact if they forgot to punch in. TimeWorksPlus has a schedule adherence function which doesn’t clock employee time outside of prescribed hours and enforces authorized break and meal duration. Tardies and absences are monitored and controlled and buddy-punching has become impossible. The firm is now only paying employees for time actually worked.

Accurate Time Cards and Hassle-free Payroll

TimeWorksTouch has PunchLogic, a feature that makes it ’employee-aware.’ For example, it doesn’t allow staff members to unwittingly clock into the wrong activity. It gives the employees only the options that apply to their current work status (shift beginning, break, meal, or shift ending). Time card accuracy has improved dramatically, saving managers countless admin hours previously spent fixing inaccurate time cards.

Accommodate Scheduling Preferences While Retaining Quality of Service

Call centers generally have a high attrition rate because customer service is an entry-level job for many young workers and a common short-term stint for students and men and women who are temporarily unemployed in their chosen field. Call centers that succeed are able to attract competent employees, quickly train them to be excellent service reps, pay a competitive wage, and maintain low employee turnover.

Increased Employee Accountability

The management at our example office had discovered that accommodating employee scheduling preferences let them to pay slightly less than the median rate in their metro area. The benefits were two-fold: a savings in labor costs and improved worker retention. These savings increase exponentially as they continue to expand their workforce.

Meeting Scheduling Preferences

TimeSimplicity allows supervisors to set minimum/maximum hour preferences per employee. Automated time-off requests simplify life for employees. Mobile Employee Self Service (ESS) enables employees to view their schedule, shift opportunities, and accruals from anywhere. The management team also experimented with allowing fully trained employees within the same skill set group (phone, email, or live chat certified) to handle their own shift trades. When presented with this display of confidence, the reps rose to the occasion and the policy has since become permanent. The practice has not been abused, and turnover has decreased.

Improved Employee Work/Life Balance

The management team believes that prior to the change in policy, most associates were afraid of requesting too many shift trades per week. Now that they are trusted to cover their own shifts when they make a trade, they have more schedule flexibility than ever before. The dedicated crew does not want to give up this valuable perk, even to make a slightly higher wage at a competitor’s business.

Higher morale has improved the quality of service provided by the reps. Employees who are respected and trusted by management can concentrate on doing quality work and meeting production goals.

Workforce Management Suite: Essential For Continued Growth

Now that the office has optimized human capital, the owners plan to expand their services to include order processing and lead response. They are certain that Workforce Management Suite will help them successfully accommodate this growth.

September 5, 2017

7 Ways Employee Self Service Benefits Your Business

employee time card management system South Jordan

One important component of the Workforce Management Suite is the Employee Self Service (ESS) portal. Today’s post looks at the specific benefits of employee self-service workforce management.

1. Empowers Employees

Employees are able to view their schedule, time cards, and accruals without having to go through a supervisor or the HR department. Instead of waiting for their supervisors to circulate shift-change requests on their behalf, staff members simply place requests on the Virtual Trade Board. Managers can conveniently view, monitor and authorize shift request changes online. Managers choose which associates are allowed to manage their own time cards.

2. Prevents Understaffing

Interested employees can request open shifts from the Virtual Trade Board. Managers approve shift changes which triggers automatic notifications to all parties involved.

3. Eliminates Confusion

When time cards, schedules, accruals, and shift changes are centrally managed, managers and associates are all on the same page and can access the information any time. Automatic notifications inform all parties of important scheduling and time card information.

4. Eases Burden on Managers

Supervisors transfer tedious admin tasks to authorized employees and are spared from all the back-and-forth of shift changes and HR info monitoring. Let the associates check their own accruals and total hours worked—they are happy to take you out of the loop.

5. Leverages the Power of Mobility

The Workforce Management Suite mobile app gives employees and supervisors 24/7 anywhere access and convenience.

6. Reduces Admin Time

When the automated system takes over tedious assignments, supervisors can work on other projects. Growing companies won’t need to hire as many HR people as their workforce grows.

7. Accommodates Employees’ Shift Preferences

TimeSimplicity and the Virtual Trade Board make it easy to compose schedules that are best for you and your employees. When a shift comes open unexpectedly, employees who want to pick up extra hours request the shift. This eliminates the need for a manager to try to guess which employee wants the extra shift or beg an unwilling employee. Happy staff members are more engaged, loyal, and productive.

If you are still using manual systems, imagine how Workforce Management Suite could improve your WFM processes and labor force morale.

August 30, 2017

Case Study Chinese Buffet

restaurant employee overtime management South Jordan

Today’s post is a case study of a Chinese buffet restaurant chain that increased profitability with TimeWorksTouch schedule enforcement. The eight location restaurant chain’s margins were shrinking due to rising food costs, so the owner was searching for ways to bolster the bottom line. Competition was tight in the working class community and an attempt to raise menu prices resulted in fewer diners.

He decided to figure out how to limit the cost of labor. All of his employees were hourly except eight full-time head cooks and four managers, each of whom managed two restaurants. Several prep cooks and servers also split hours between locations.

He knew he was paying a lot in overtime and wanted an employee timekeeping system for restaurants that could automatically track and prevent overtime shifts.  During busy times, the managers were juggling so many balls that checking which associates had moved into overtime hours was impossible. Few employees wanted to work overtime anyway, so he knew that proactive overtime management would be welcomed by the workforce.

Solution – Workforce Management Suite

Workforce Management Suite consists of TimeWorksPlus, TimeSimplicity, TimeWorks Mobile, and TimeWorksTouch. Each component integrates seamlessly for comprehensive restaurant Workforce Management.

Schedule Enforcement

Each supervisor was able to enter all their employee and shift information in less time that it had previously taken to establish just one monthly schedule in Excel. The schedule enforcement tool prevents out-of-schedule punches and sends notifications before a worker hits the customized threshold. When a warning goes off on a manager’s phone, the manager is able to send the staff member home before overtime kicks in. Accurate break tracking has also delivered a savings in labor costs.

Timekeeping Accuracy for Mobile Staff members

The mobile functionality has quickly proven to be an invaluable feature for managers and associates that split hours between locations. No more retroactively guessing punch times after the fact.

Workforce Management Suite delivered an affordable solution that quickly paid for itself in a few weeks and continues to limit the cost of labor with every single shift.

If you would like more info, please contact us at 503.968.5409.

August 8, 2017

3 Benefits of Cloud-Based Workforce Management

benefits of cloud based WFM South Jordan

It’s easy to see why companies have been steadily moving from premise-based operations to cloud-based, or SaaS (software as a service) solutions. Today’s message highlights 3 significant benefits of cloud-based WFM systems.

1. Saves Money

Low cost setup.
Eliminates expense of IT maintenance.
Avoid rates for software updates.
Easily grows with your organization.

2. Anywhere/Anytime Access

All you need is a web browser.
Centralized records and management.
Customize features and access per user.
Mobile access increases productivity.
Ideal solution for companies with multiple sites and mobile employees.

3. Quick Implementation

Infrastructure already in place.
With login credentials, you are ready to go.
Integrates with your payroll processing platform.

To learn how cloud-based Workforce Management Suite benefits your specific business and industry, call us today!

August 3, 2017

How a Timecard Goof-Up Can Cost you $30,000

South Jordan labor law compliance tools

Restaurant Owner Owes $30,000 for a $30 Mistake
Bobbi Best owns Blondies’ Bistro in Grants Pass, Oregon. In December 2015, a man named Martin Robinson applied for a cook’s position. In the restaurant industry, it is customary for job seekers to exhibit cooking skill in a “working interview.” As Best had routinely done with previous job aspirants, she asked Robinson to sign a waiver in which he consented to an unpaid working interview.

Signed Waivers of Acceptance Don’t Supersede Labor Regulations
Evidently, Best did not understand that Oregon labor laws obligate payment of at least minimum wage for time spent in working interviews. At minimum wage, the working interview would have earned Robinson about $30. The following day, Robinson worked a standard shift but then declined the job in a text message to Best. Best paid him approximately $60 for the regular shift.

Ignoring It Won’t Make It Go Away
Robinson took Best to court where she was ordered to pay a fine for the violation. Best didn’t pay the initial fine which compounded to $4,400 in the early spring of 2016. As of October 31, 2016, she had paid over $13,000 in legal fees but still owed over $21,000 to Robinson and his lawyer.

There are numerous lessons to be learned from this story:

1. Employers need to keep accurate, comprehensive records to protect themselves in case of a labor dispute. Accurately track employee hours for working interviews, training, and regular shifts with TimeWorksTouch from SwipeClock. Customize settings to reflect state and industry-specific provisions.
2. Be aware that a or employee may exploit even a small infraction. Labor courts almost always favor the worker, even if they act rapidly to make amends.
3. Gain a comprehensive understanding of state and federal labor provisions, comply with them, and keep up with changes.
4. In the unfortunate event that you are fined, pay immediately before late penalties build up.

Are You at Risk?

Source: Based on an October 31, 2016 story written by Jeff Duewel for the Grants Pass Daily Courier, republished by the Medford, Oregon-based Mail Tribune. Jeff Duewel, “Working interview turns into nightmare for Grants Pass Bistro,” Mail Tribune, October 31, 2016, http://www.mailtribune.com/news/20161031/working-interview-turns-into-nightmare-for-grants-pass-bistro, accessed February 28, 2017