Tag Archive: employee_loyalty

Incentives Expert Q & A: How to Motivate Employees When Money is Tight

Incentives Expert Q & A: How to Motivate Employees When Money is Tight
by Jen Hickey.

To get some ideas on how small business owners can motivate workers when cash is in short supply, business writer Jen Hickey spoke with Cindy Ventrice, the author of Make Their Day: Employee Recognition that Works and president of Potential Unlimited, which offers consulting, speaking and training to help companies create a positive work environment.

JH: How do “recognition” and “reward” function in the workplace?

CV: Recognition is an act between two people. It’s a one-on-one interaction between manager and employee that demonstrates “we value you.” It has an emotional component with lasting value. A reward is a tangible gift for something an employee accomplishes. Rewards are great if they’re tied to recognition. Giving a reward meant to act as recognition is much more short lived.

JH: What are some examples of recognition?

CV: From research I’ve done asking employees about memorable recognition experience, I’ve found it breaks down into four elements:

Praise: Giving employees positive feedback for the work they’re doing.
Appreciation: Thanking an employee for his/her efforts. This is not as performance-based as praise.
Respect: This element must always be present for recognition to take place. Without respect, praise and appreciation won’t work.
Opportunity: Find something that employee wants to learn and give them the opportunity to do that (e.g., special project, challenging assignment).

I’ve experienced a lot of push back from managers who think their employees are too busy and will not see an opportunity for a new project or special assignment as a form of recognition. Employees want their manager to know what’s important to them and to provide them with the opportunities to grow. It shows how well they’re valued.
JH: Why is it important to incorporate recognition into incentives?

CV: An incentive is neither recognition nor reward, but you can add recognition to the delivery of an incentive. An incentive is meant to encourage a certain kind behavior (e.g. getaway trip for top sales), whereas a reward is something given after the fact in appreciation for certain behavior a manager wants to reinforce but did not necessarily promise ahead of time (e.g., a 10-year anniversary gift). Both incentives and rewards have more value when given with recognition. It’s important to find out what an employee has contributed to the organization before giving a tangible reward/incentive.
PQ_QAcindyventrice.jpgJH: What type of nonmonetary reward/recognition can a small business owner offer employees?

CV: Low-cost recognition and rewards have proven to be very effective. Through employee surveys, I’ve found that 57 percent of meaningful recognition had no cost. Hand-written notes can be very powerful. People tend to hold onto them for many years and look back to them for encouragement. Other examples include keeping a white board in the break room for employees to write messages of encouragement or celebrate successes, remembering details about an employee’s project, and symbolic awards. Offering flextime or telecommuting could be an incentive or reward. This requires a certain amount of responsibility on an employee’s part, and a manager may want to set some parameters before offering such incentives.

A good manager knows what’s important to the individual and has tailored rewards to match. Flex-time/telecommuting is a great incentive for those in the back office, but may not work for an employee who needs to meet face to face frequently with customers. A manager must know his/her employees to tailor rewards to an individual’s needs/preferences.
JH: What are some concrete steps a business can take to foster inherent recognition in the workplace?

CV: Showing support and acknowledging employee efforts build inherent recognition in the workplace. Employees see recognition from their manager even when it’s not the original intent if a respectful work environment exists. The same goes at the organizational level.

A good starting point for a company is to look at its policies/procedures for anything that may create a disrespectful work environment. Conduct an anonymous survey among employees to identify patterns of perceived distrust.

Often times, a manager or organization is unaware of negative messages they’re sending. Saying “we value your opinion” and then not acting on or even acknowledging suggestions made or doing anything that says “we don’t trust you” can have a detrimental effect on recognition.

For example, I worked with a company that installed a key card system for security but employees thought it was to track their coming and going. Good communication was needed to clear this up. It’s important to have these conversations to determine what can be done to foster an environment of trust in the workplace.

Recognition can also come from a business’ standing in the community. A business known for its charitable efforts can foster inherent recognition in the workplace. Ask employees to pick a charity and give them company time off to participate. Positive public relations can provide recognition to employees, and a positive reputation tends to bring in higher caliber employees.

Offering training or classes can be an inexpensive way to show employees they’re valued. For example, I worked with a company that offered English classes to employees who were mostly Spanish-speaking.
JH: Explain the difference between tangible and intangible incentives, and which tend to be better motivators?

CV: A tangible incentive is something that can be held in your hand or put into a bank account. Time off is considered semi-tangible, as it can’t be held but can be measured. Praise, appreciation and respect are intangible incentives.

Refusing to let someone telecommute when work can easily be done from home or falling below industry standard for pay and benefits can be de-motivators. If your business can’t afford to offer paid time off, you must work extremely hard to find incentives to offset this.

For example, a company with a lot of students could offer unpaid time off for studying for exams. Or one with a lot of employees with school-age children could offer flextime or to work from home when a child’s sick.
JH: Why is it important to help employees identify their purpose in the workplace?

CV: Every employee should understand how he or she contributes to the company’s success. In a small business, it is much easier to connect employees to what they do and how they contribute to a company’s success. It’s one of the greatest strengths of small businesses, and why so many people love to work for them. Employees can see how they make a difference and have far more opportunities to build skills.

Think of each employee as cast members in a play. Production suffers if not every member—from the main characters to the stagehands—is performing his/her role well. This puts people with different responsibilities on equal footing.

It’s important to create a narrative for your business and tie that back to what each employee does. Encourage pride among employees for each part they play in bringing your products or services to customers.

Revisiting Retirement Benefits: Is It Time to Sweeten Your Employees’ Plans?

Revisiting Retirement Benefits: Is It Time to Sweeten Your Employees’ Plans?By Sherron Lumley.

Whether a distant dream or just around the bend, retirement benefits hold significant sway with employees making decisions about where to work and for how long. In fact, a 2011 Mercer What’s Working survey of 30,000 workers found that, among American and Canadian employees, retirement plans placed second only to base pay among the most important employee value proposition elements.

Despite this emphasis, modern-day employees are notoriously poor at following through with retirement savings. Jack VanDerhei, research director of the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) in Washington D.C. notes, “Only 13 percent of workers now say they’re very confident about retirement,” an all-time low in 21 years of the institute’s Retirement Confidence Survey. What’s more, well over a quarter—29 percent—of workers surveyed said they have savings of less than $1,000.

Still, the expense and administrative burden often appear unaffordable to small business owners. Yet, these tangible costs should be weighed against the intangible benefits that drive employee satisfaction and performance. For example, Met Life’s 9th Annual Study of Employee Benefit Trends found a strong correlation between satisfaction with retirement benefits and job loyalty. In that survey, more than three out of four employees who were happy with their employer’s retirement plan also reported being satisfied with their job.

PQ_RetireBenefits.jpg“We provide medical and retirement benefits, though we are not obligated to, in order to attract and retain good employees,” explains Jodi Teti, small business owner of Blueprint LSAT Preparation, headquartered in Los Angeles, California. Small business owners like Teti say they recognize that to stay competitive and desirable, it’s time to revisit their employees’ retirement benefits. Below, three retirement specialists contribute their insights about the types of retirement benefits that are most desirable to small business employees today.

What employees want most: matching contributions, risk choices, and quick results

“Adequate investment choices and reasonable investment returns for an appropriate level of risk are important aspects employees want in their plans,” says Wes Rommerskirchen of Benefit Plans Plus, LLC, in St. Louis, Missouri. “Employees also look for a healthy employer contribution to assist them in reaching their retirement goals,” he says.

Peter Macaluso, Vice President of FM International Services in Melville, New York, concurs. When it comes to employee satisfaction and retirement benefits, he finds from his experience that “employer contributions affect employee satisfaction the most.”

What does this look like for a small business?

“Initially, we offered a scaled vesting period,” says Teti, whose company originally planned to match 100-percent of contributions for employees after six years of employment. “However, in today’s fluid employment environment, we found that employees simply weren’t contributing under that rubric,” she says.

To counter this trend, her company changed its policy so that employees could realize their benefits more quickly. “After an employee’s first year of employment, we match their retirement contribution up to three percent; we’re 100 percent vested after the initial year,” she says, adding, “the total number of contributions tripled since we instituted the new policy.”

Traditional 401(k) and profit sharing

With a 401(k) plan, employees contribute part of their pay into a plan sponsored by their employer. Many 401(k) plans provide for employer matching and profit sharing, which are employer contributions not taxed by the federal dovernment or by most state governments until distributed. The annual employer contribution is discretionary.

FM International offers its employees a three-percent profit-sharing contribution, which is what they recommend to their customers and clients. Profit sharing permits employers to make large contributions for employees, up to the lesser amount of 100 percent of compensation or $49,000. Employers can deduct amounts that do not exceed 25 percent of aggregate compensation for all participants. If offered, profit sharing must include all employees at least 21 years of age who worked at least 1,000 hours in a previous year.

Visit the Department of Labor’s website, Choosing a Retirement Solution for Your Small Business for more information.

Offer automatic enrollment and target-date funds

Recently hired participants in 401(k) plans, particularly those under 30, are more likely to want target-date funds (TDFs), according to an analysis by EBRI. TDFs are usually mutual funds that have a portfolio mix that becomes more conservative as retirement approaches. Small business owners should consider plans that offer TDFs for workers who want more control about the risk and return of their retirement investment portfolio. Risk-averse or conservative plans find a lower yield acceptable, whereas more risk is required when pursuing a higher yield.

The Pension Protection Act of 2006 contained provisions designed to encourage 401(k) plan sponsors to automatically enroll their workers in the plan to boost retirement savings and TDFs are often used as a default investment for workers who are auto-enrolled.

Adding a cash balance plan – the best of both worlds?

Although still quite popular in the public sector, the old-fashioned pension (or standard defined benefit) plan is out of reach for many small business owners and has been on the decline for three decades in the private sector, according to EBRI. However, cash balance plans are hybrid plans that combine some aspects of a traditional pension plan with those of a defined contribution plan (401(k)/profit sharing).

“Business owners that have the cash flows to support an additional employer contribution may want to consider installing a cash balance plan alongside their existing 401(k)/profit sharing plan,” says Rommerskirchen. “Using a cash balance plan in conjunction with their properly-designed 40(1)k/profit sharing plan could allow the business owner to contribute substantially more towards retirement than just a traditional 401(k) plan would allow,” he adds.

A cash balance plan defines the promised benefit in terms of a stated account balance, yet fluctuations in the value of the plan’s investments do not directly affect the benefit amounts promised to participants. Another advantage: Benefits of cash balance plans are protected by federal insurance provided through the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

Simplified Employee Pension (SEP), Payroll Deduction IRA or the simple IRA plan

Many small businesses that want to help their employees with retirement turn to Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), such as the Simplified Employee Pension (SEP). With a SEP, employers set up an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) for themselves and each employee, with the employer contributing the same percentage of pay for each employee, up to 25 percent of their salary (or $49,000, whichever is less).

The Simple IRA plan allows contributions by both the employer and the employee, whereas the Payroll Deduction IRA is funded by employee contributions without participation from the employer.

Providing retirement and investment education opportunities for employees

Year after year, employees surveyed by EBRI in the Retirement Confidence Survey continue to rank private employers as their most trusted institution, positioning small business owners in the role of guiding and providing for their own and their employees’ retirement savings.

“As far as sweetening the benefits, it is quite difficult for micro-companies and small businesses under 200 employees,” says Marcia Mantell, President of Mantell Retirement Consulting in Needham, Massachusetts. However, there are other things employers can do to help their employees prepare for retirement, she explains.

For companies who want to help their employees right now, but who aren’t yet ready financially to add employer contributions to a retirement plan, Mantell suggests creating non-monetary benefits for employees. Educational opportunities such as lunch-and-learn or hosted seminars about investing for retirement and retirement readiness, combined with in-house training for using online retirement preparation tools, will help employees gain a realistic view of retirement financial needs.

Don’t go it alone

“One of the most common areas overlooked in a retirement plan is the selection of an appropriate investment professional to advise the business owner,” says Rommerskirchen. With many small business owners wearing multiple hats, it’s difficult to stay on top of retirement benefit changes. Therefore it’s important to know exactly what services the financial advisor is going to provide for the plan, and how often you will meet with the financial advisor to review issues. You’ll also want to know how often the plan’s financial advisor will meet with your employees and how much experience he or she has, Rommerskirchenk recommends.

Overturn Turnover: How to Keep Employees from Leaving for Greener Pastures

Overturn Turnover: How to Keep Employees from Leaving for Greener Pastures. By Sherron Lumley.

Small businesses want the same top talent that large businesses do, but holding on to good employees is challenging when jobs are plentiful. As a result, small business owners have to be especially creative when it comes to attracting—and retaining—the best workers.

The numbers help tell the story. Since the official end of the recession in July of 2009, job openings are up 45 percent, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey. In the first month of 2012, there were a more robust 3.5-million job openings, although that number remains below the 4.3 million mark before the recession began in December 2007. But even in those good old pre-recession days, employee turnover was higher for small businesses than for larger businesses, according to a report by the U.S. Small Business Administration, (SBA).

“Both large and small companies want to hire the same people,” says Casey Alseika, partner of WatsonBarron LLC, an executive recruiting firm in Spring Lake, N.J. His company works with clients ranging in size from major corporations to family-owned small businesses, providing him with a unique vantage point on the matter.

“Larger companies have taken the stance that the job market is not great and they have reduced their numbers and have fewer people doing more work,” says Alseika. “On the other hand, smaller companies are doing the opposite, trying to create a better overall quality-of-life experience for their employees,” he says.
First, hire the right people

Shawn Whisenhunt is the owner of Performace Prototypes, a manufacturing business in Vancouver, Washington that makes parts for excavators, forklifts and other heavy industrial equipment. He’s in his eighth year of operations with 14 employees and has had zero employee turnover since day one. So what’s his secret?

When it comes to hiring, Whisenhunt admits to being selective, taking care to make sure it’s a good fit before a position is offered. After that, “It’s a pretty simple equation,” he says. “Treat employees decently and pay them decently and they will be loyal. I’ve yet to have anyone quit on me.”

He describes the culture at his company as busy yet laid back, and says even though the workers could possibly make a bit more elsewhere, they stay because they like the work atmosphere.

“I let them listen to the stereo all day and they don’t have a set schedule. They can go to lunch when they want, and we have all-you-can-drink coffee,” he says. “As long as they’re turning out good products, I’m happy.”
PQ_Turnover.jpgThen, create the right culture

Kevin Sheridan is Senior Vice President of Human Resources Optimization for Avatar Solutions in Chicago and author of the new book, Building a Magnetic Culture. While he was surprised to see his book shoot to best-seller status, he feels its popularity underscores the mounting concern and interest that businesses have in attracting and retaining talent.

“The top reason people leave,” says Sheridan, “is lack of work-life balance, combined with job stress, which is the perfect storm for disengagement.” Work-life balance, he explains, means employees want to have flexible job hours to deal with things that come up from day to day and they also want the ability to telecommute or work from home, which lets them save money on gas and avoid the stress of a commute.

Besides flexibility, giving employees time off is also part of the work-life balance formula. “This is especially valued by younger workers,” says Sheridan.

The magnetic small business culture that wins the loyalty of its people is one of values and emotional and intellectual commitment from employees, Sheridan explains. “Employee engagement is the attractor and glue of top talent.”
Next, engage employees at all levels

CDL Helpers in Winona, Minn., was created to tackle employee retention in the trucking trade, an industry with some of the highest annual turnover—81 percent last year.

“Employees that feel like their work destabilizes their lives or that their job keeps them from achieving their personal goals will leave,” says CDL Helper’s founder, Tucker Robeson. He recommends a focus on creating stability in the lives of employees and paying people what they need to lead a satisfying, fulfilling life.

Robeson also advises small business owners to reach out to employees personally on a regular basis, in a situation away from their peers. “Give them a chance to have a candid one-on-one discussion with you about what you can do to make their days easier and improve their work environment,” he says.

It’s also important to show your ground floor employees exactly how their small actions are crucial to the big goals of the business, Robeson adds. Tell them directly how important their job truly is to the overall success of the business.

Alseika from WatsonBarron concurs. “People are a small company’s biggest resource. It’s important to give everyone a sense that they are a part of the company’s long term plans.”
Consider your employee benefits

Like it or not, “It’s difficult for a small business to retain employees if they don’t offer healthcare. People will take less money to get good health care benefits,” says Alseika.

Health and retirement benefits are the most important factors contributing to employee turnover, he notes, and SBA research confirms that benefits decrease the probability of an employee leaving by 26.2 percent, reports the SBA’s Department of Advocacy.

Beyond healthcare and retirement, 44 million U.S. workers lack paid sick days, according to the Center for Law and Social Policy, and this is another motivator in the decision to stay or go. Although healthcare benefits may be too expensive for some small companies to offer and still stay in business, paid sick days and family leave are supportive policies that improve job quality and employee morale, which, in turn, reduce employee turnover.
Finally, say ‘Thank you.’

Back in Vancouver, Wash., Whisenhunt says his employees at Performance Prototypes know they are appreciated and he sees this as key to his success. “Thank them,” he advises, “give them a bonus, pay them for Christmas and major holidays and buy them lunch once in a while.”

As for health or retirement benefits at Performance Prototypes, “No we haven’t got there yet,” he says, “but we’ve talked about doing it and it’s coming.”

Incentives Expert Q & A: How to Motivate Employees When Money is Tight

Incentives Expert Q & A: How to Motivate Employees When Money is Tight by Jen Hickey.

To get some ideas on how small business owners can motivate workers when cash is in short supply, business writer Jen Hickey spoke with Cindy Ventrice, the author of Make Their Day: Employee Recognition that Works and president of Potential Unlimited, which offers consulting, speaking and training to help companies create a positive work environment.


JH: How do “recognition” and “reward” function in the workplace?

CV: Recognition is an act between two people. It’s a one-on-one interaction between manager and employee that demonstrates “we value you.”  It has an emotional component with lasting value. A reward is a tangible gift for something an employee accomplishes. Rewards are great if they’re tied to recognition. Giving a reward meant to act as recognition is much more short lived.

JH: What are some examples of recognition?

CV: From research I’ve done asking employees about memorable recognition experience, I’ve found it breaks down into four elements:

  • Praise: Giving employees positive feedback for the work they’re doing.
  • Appreciation: Thanking an employee for his/her efforts. This is not as performance-based as praise.
  • Respect: This element must always be present for recognition to take place.  Without respect, praise and appreciation won’t work.
  • Opportunity: Find something that employee wants to learn and give them the opportunity to do that (e.g., special project, challenging assignment).

I’ve experienced a lot of push back from managers who think their employees are too busy and will not see an opportunity for a new project or special assignment as a form of recognition. Employees want their manager to know what’s important to them and to provide them with the opportunities to grow. It shows how well they’re valued.

JH: Why is it important to incorporate recognition into incentives?

CV: An incentive is neither recognition nor reward, but you can add recognition to the delivery of an incentive. An incentive is meant to encourage a certain kind behavior (e.g. getaway trip for top sales), whereas a reward is something given after the fact in appreciation for certain behavior a manager wants to reinforce but did not necessarily promise ahead of time (e.g., a 10-year anniversary gift). Both incentives and rewards have more value when given with recognition. It’s important to find out what an employee has contributed to the organization before giving a tangible reward/incentive.

PQ_QAcindyventrice.jpgJH: What type of nonmonetary reward/recognition can a small business owner offer employees?

CV: Low-cost recognition and rewards have proven to be very effective. Through employee surveys, I’ve found that 57 percent of meaningful recognition had no cost. Hand-written notes can be very powerful. People tend to hold onto them for many years and look back to them for encouragement. Other examples include keeping a white board in the break room for employees to write messages of encouragement or celebrate successes, remembering details about an employee’s project, and symbolic awards. Offering flextime or telecommuting could be an incentive or reward. This requires a certain amount of responsibility on an employee’s part, and a manager may want to set some parameters before offering such incentives.

A good manager knows what’s important to the individual and has tailored rewards to match. Flex-time/telecommuting is a great incentive for those in the back office, but may not work for an employee who needs to meet face to face frequently with customers. A manager must know his/her employees to tailor rewards to an individual’s needs/preferences.

JH: What are some concrete steps a business can take to foster inherent recognition in the workplace?

CV: Showing support and acknowledging employee efforts build inherent recognition in the workplace. Employees see recognition from their manager even when it’s not the original intent if a respectful work environment exists. The same goes at the organizational level.

A good starting point for a company is to look at its policies/procedures for anything that may create a disrespectful work environment. Conduct an anonymous survey among employees to identify patterns of perceived distrust.

Often times, a manager or organization is unaware of negative messages they’re sending. Saying “we value your opinion” and then not acting on or even acknowledging suggestions made or doing anything that says “we don’t trust you” can have a detrimental effect on recognition.

For example, I worked with a company that installed a key card system for security but employees thought it was to track their coming and going. Good communication was needed to clear this up. It’s important to have these conversations to determine what can be done to foster an environment of trust in the workplace.

Recognition can also come from a business’ standing in the community. A business known for its charitable efforts can foster inherent recognition in the workplace. Ask employees to pick a charity and give them company time off to participate. Positive public relations can provide recognition to employees, and a positive reputation tends to bring in higher caliber employees.

Offering training or classes can be an inexpensive way to show employees they’re valued. For example, I worked with a company that offered English classes to employees who were mostly Spanish-speaking.

JH: Explain the difference between tangible and intangible incentives, and which tend to be better motivators?

CV: A tangible incentive is something that can be held in your hand or put into a bank account. Time off is considered semi-tangible, as it can’t be held but can be measured. Praise, appreciation and respect are intangible incentives.

Refusing to let someone telecommute when work can easily be done from home or falling below industry standard for pay and benefits can be de-motivators. If your business can’t afford to offer paid time off, you must work extremely hard to find incentives to offset this.

For example, a company with a lot of students could offer unpaid time off for studying for exams. Or one with a lot of employees with school-age children could offer flextime or to work from home when a child’s sick.

JH: Why is it important to help employees identify their purpose in the workplace?

CV: Every employee should understand how he or she contributes to the company’s success. In a small business, it is much easier to connect employees to what they do and how they contribute to a company’s success.  It’s one of the greatest strengths of small businesses, and why so many people love to work for them. Employees can see how they make a difference and have far more opportunities to build skills.

Think of each employee as cast members in a play. Production suffers if not every member—from the main characters to the stagehands—is performing his/her role well. This puts people with different responsibilities on equal footing.

It’s important to create a narrative for your business and tie that back to what each employee does. Encourage pride among employees for each part they play in bringing your products or services to customers.

Revisiting Retirement Benefits: Is It Time to Sweeten Your Employees’ Plans?

The Pension Protection Act of 2006 contained provisions designed to encourage 401(k) plan sponsors to automatically enroll their workers in the plan to boost retirement savings and TDFs are often used as a default investment for workers who are auto-enrolled.

Adding a cash balance plan – the best of both worlds?

Although still quite popular in the public sector, the old-fashioned pension (or standard defined benefit) plan is out of reach for many small business owners and has been on the decline for three decades in the private sector, according to EBRI. However, cash balance plans are hybrid plans that combine some aspects of a traditional pension plan with those of a defined contribution plan (401(k)/profit sharing).

“Business owners that have the cash flows to support an additional employer contribution may want to consider installing a cash balance plan alongside their existing 401(k)/profit sharing plan,” says Rommerskirchen. “Using a cash balance plan in conjunction with their properly-designed 40(1)k/profit sharing plan could allow the business owner to contribute substantially more towards retirement than just a traditional 401(k) plan would allow,” he adds.

A cash balance plan defines the promised benefit in terms of a stated account balance, yet fluctuations in the value of the plan’s investments do not directly affect the benefit amounts promised to participants. Another advantage: Benefits of cash balance plans are protected by federal insurance provided through the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

Simplified Employee Pension (SEP), Payroll Deduction IRA or the simple IRA plan

Many small businesses that want to help their employees with retirement turn to Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), such as the Simplified Employee Pension (SEP). With a SEP, employers set up an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) for themselves and each employee, with the employer contributing the same percentage of pay for each employee, up to 25 percent of their salary (or $49,000, whichever is less).

The Simple IRA plan allows contributions by both the employer and the employee, whereas the Payroll Deduction IRA is funded by employee contributions without participation from the employer.

Providing retirement and investment education opportunities for employees

Year after year, employees surveyed by EBRI in the Retirement Confidence Survey continue to rank private employers as their most trusted institution, positioning small business owners in the role of guiding and providing for their own and their employees’ retirement savings.

“As far as sweetening the benefits, it is quite difficult for micro-companies and small businesses under 200 employees,” says Marcia Mantell, President of Mantell Retirement Consulting in Needham, Massachusetts. However, there are other things employers can do to help their employees prepare for retirement, she explains.

For companies who want to help their employees right now, but who aren’t yet ready financially to add employer contributions to a retirement plan, Mantell suggests creating non-monetary benefits for employees. Educational opportunities such as lunch-and-learn or hosted seminars about investing for retirement and retirement readiness, combined with in-house training for using online retirement preparation tools, will help employees gain a realistic view of retirement financial needs.

Don’t go it alone

“One of the most common areas overlooked in a retirement plan is the selection of an appropriate investment professional to advise the business owner,” says Rommerskirchen. With many small business owners wearing multiple hats, it’s difficult to stay on top of retirement benefit changes. Therefore it’s important to know exactly what services the financial advisor is going to provide for the plan, and how often you will meet with the financial advisor to review issues. You’ll also want to know how often the plan’s financial advisor will meet with your employees and how much experience he or she has, Rommerskirchenk recommends.