How To Attract and Retain Employees

Are you struggling to hire quality employees? Has the shortage of employees struck you hard? This is not going to be alleviated anytime soon. COVID-19 accelerated numerous retirements, spurred entrepreneurship, or pursuit of other opportunities while people were furloughed, and with the challenges of finding daycare, many two income homes have found a way to survive on one income, while a stay-at-home parent develops a side hustle replacing a job. And we won’t even get started on the extra unemployment income (but do you really want those employees back anyway?).

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Why Security Matters to Your Employee Benefit Plans

Employee benefit plans are a common perk for many organizations. They are often seen as a necessary employee benefit, but they also come with a strong need for compliance. Specifically, ERISA-covered group health plans and retirement plans can be subject to HIPAA privacy and security laws, assurance and audit requirements and more.

Cybersecurity is often not a focus for many organizations’ employee benefit plans. After all, what would a cybercriminal want with an employee benefit plan?

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The American Rescue Plan – Updates to the FFCRA’s Paid Sick Leave and Expanded FMLA Provisions

The following is a guest blog by Greater Mankato Growth member, Blethen Berens. In it they highlight two important elements of the American Rescue Plan as it relates to employee leave.

On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (hereinafter referred to as the “ARPA”). ARPA provides, among other things, important changes to the paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave originally provided for under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) for employers with less than 500 employees. The most important thing to note is that these leave options are completely voluntary for employers: Employers are not required to offer either emergency paid sick leave or paid FMLA leave to their employees under ARPA, but there are tax incentives available to encourage employers to voluntarily offer this paid leave.

Continue reading “The American Rescue Plan – Updates to the FFCRA’s Paid Sick Leave and Expanded FMLA Provisions”

Changes in the Paycheck Protection Program that benefit the smallest of small businesses

The Paycheck Protection Program has been one of the most visible programs inside the US Government’s response to the pandemic. The overall goal of the program was to get loans to small businesses to help them keep their staff employed as we entered the unknown waters of a pandemic economy. If these small businesses kept their staffs employed, these loans would be forgiven, and the loans would essentially convert into grants. There was recently a change to how much funding a small business would qualify for, and this change will have a dramatic impact on the smallest businesses who were previously either left out of the program or only qualified for a nominal amount of funds. 

These changes revolve around people who report their business income using a Schedule C on their tax return. Schedule Cs are typically used for sole proprietors (fancy way of saying people who do business in their personal name with no formal entity like a LLC or corporation), but some LLCs also use Schedule Cs. Up until this point, these businesses would determine the amount of a loan they qualified for by combining the annual payroll costs of any employees with the net profit of the business. These two figures formed the basis of the calculation, and the idea was that these figures would represent the combined compensation paid the employees and the owner.

The unintended consequence of how the program was initially setup is that many of the smallest businesses operate at essentially a breakeven where income is nearly entirely offset by expenses. Due to this, the “owners” portion (net profit) could be very low or $0 which caused their PPP loan amount to go down. With the new changes, the “owner” compensation portion of the calculation has been switched from using the net profit to the gross profit. This change will dramatically impact the amount of PPP funds a small business can qualify for as well as even allowing some businesses with a negative net profit to receive PPP funds when previously they did not qualify at all.

These changes became effective on March 5th, and they will be in place through the end of the program on March 31st. This can have a massive impact on some of the smallest businesses in our community.  Businesses that use Schedule Cs range from popup stands at the farmers market to businesses on Front Street. This group of businesses provide much of the vitality that makes Mankato special; so let’s get the word out so these businesses survive!

At Pioneer Bank, we have funded over 1,350 PPP loans for our community with a median loan size of $20,000. Most banks have access to this program, but anyone can feel free to send any questions to Clay Sharkey.

EEOC Guidance on Employer Vaccination Requirements

This is a guest blog post by Greater Mankato Growth member, Blethen Berens.

As COVID-19 vaccinations begin to take place in the United States, discussions are emerging about potential vaccination mandates from employers. In light of these discussions and questions, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has released guidance for employers on vaccination mandates and the interplay with various workplace anti-discrimination laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

The EEOC guidance on vaccinations indicates that employers can require that their employees be vaccinated against COVID-19, subject to certain federal and state anti-discrimination laws. Such vaccinations could be required and administered by the employer, required by the employer but administered by a third party (e.g. pharmacy or health care provider), or offered by an employer on a voluntary basis.

The process of deciding whether or not to establish a mandatory vaccination policy should involve consideration of anti-discrimination laws, non-legal business and practical considerations, and if a policy is established, clear communication with employees is critical.

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Radio Mankato Hosting Restaurant Rally

This is a guest blog post written by Ashley Hanley of Greater Mankato Growth member business, Radio Mankato.

Radio Mankato is proud to help our local restaurants during these challenging times.

That is why we have launched the Restaurant Rally. The Rally takes place every Tuesday in December from 9-10 a.m. with Lisa Kaye and Crew on Minnesota, which can be found on your radio dial at 93.1 FM.

All commercials and music will be paused during this time. Restaurant and business owners are encouraged to call the station during that time, free of charge, to let our listeners know of services, deals and ordering information.

This is the first time in Radio Mankato’s history that we have paused live music and commercials. However, we as a station felt this is one small way we could help give back to our local businesses and help rally together. 

The phone number to call is: 507-625-9393.

Any local business is encouraged to participate.

Thank you to sponsors Prime Source Funding, Drummer’s Garden Center and Floral, and United Prairie Bank.

Strong Electrical Efficiency Rebates Remain for Xcel Energy Customers

This is a guest blog post by Greater Mankato Growth member business, Laketown Electric Corporation, to accompany their Business Focus video:

There is little doubt that the advancement of LED has drastically changed the landscape of the electrical contracting market for the better. Five years ago, a two-lamp fluorescent fixture would consume roughly 59 watts would deliver approximately 4,000 lumens and would last approximately 20,000 hours. They were not controllable except for on/off or occupancy sensing both with a special ballast. Once the tubes failed, they needed to be recycled in a special manner. 

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Recently Released PPP Loan Forgiveness Updates

Member guest blog post, submitted by EideBailly. This article originally appeared on EideBailly.com

The government has released several updates to its Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness guidance over the last few weeks. Here is a brief summary to help guide you through the PPP loan forgiveness process. Continue reading “Recently Released PPP Loan Forgiveness Updates”

A Guide to Prepare for Reopening and Repositioning Your Organization

This is a guest blog post by Greater Mankato Growth member business, Eide Bailly LLP.

As economies reopen across the country, many organizations have turned a critical eye to how they should reopen in the wake of the next normal. In a time of great operational uncertainty, how organizations can reopen and reposition themselves in the marketplace effectively will be critical to their long-term success.

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N95 Fit Test Reminder

Provenio Consulting Inc.
Provenio Consulting contributed to this blog

Due to this pandemic, N95 masks have become a piece of required PPE in industries where they have not been needed before. We wanted to remind companies that N95 masks are considered respirators and as a result, fall within OSHA’s respirator guidelines. It is important that companies train their employees on how to properly use N95 masks, ensure that the employees are medically able to wear a respirator, and perform a fit test. While OSHA has temporarily issued guidance lifting annual fit test requirements, initial fit tests are still required. We asked Brad Kramer of Provenio Consulting to provide some additional information about what those fit tests entail as well as additional details about respirator policy requirements. Brad shared the following regarding respirators:

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