Tag Archives: benefits

Make Setting Salaries Easier With These 5 Steps

 

Whether you are hiring for the first time, filling an open position, or conducting annual performance reviews, finding a salary range that attracts and retains valued employees can be a difficult task. Here are some suggestions to help make the process a bit easier for you and your company:

  1. Know what your business can afford. Like any business expense, you need to know how it will affect your budget and cash flow. Make a twelve-month profitability and cash forecast and then plug in the high end of the annual salary range you are considering to see if it’s something your business can absorb. After all, the greatest employee in the world can’t help you if you don’t have the money to pay them. Don’t forget to account for increases in benefit costs, especially the escalating cost to provide healthcare. Once you establish a budget, you can allocate your spending plan to your payroll.
  2. Understand the laws. In general, the federal government sets the minimum requirements (minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, overtime rules and record keeping requirements). States and localities often add their own set of rules. For example, the state of Illinois, Cook County and the city of Chicago all have different minimum wage requirements. If you are located in Chicago you need to adhere to the highest rate. So research all payroll rules that apply to your location at the beginning of the process. When reviewing the rules, don’t forget that different rules often apply depending on the number of employees in your business.
  3. Review and update job descriptions. Take some time to review key jobs and update them as appropriate. With new positions, note the exact tasks and responsibilities you envision for the role. Then, think about the type of person that will succeed performing these responsibilities. Once you have a clear picture of who you are looking for, you can begin to build a detailed job description and narrow in on a specific salary range.
  4. Establish value ranges and apply them. Value is key when determining the perfect salary amount. Define the range of value for the position and then apply that valuation to the current person’s performance within the defined pay range. Use websites and recruiters to establish the correct range of pay, then apply experience and employee performance to obtain a potential new salary amount. Remember, size of company, location and competitiveness of the job market are all factors to consider.
  5. Factor in company benefits. A strong suite of employee benefits is a powerful tool to couple with a competitive salary. Don’t be afraid to communicate their value to prospective and current employees (they help with retention, too!). According to Glassdoor, health and dental insurance are the most important, but flexibility is close behind – over 80 percent of job seekers take flexible hours, vacation time and work-from-home options into consideration before accepting a position.

Finding the right salary can be tricky, but with some preparation and research, you can find the balance that satisfies the needs of your business and your employees.

What to Do With Your Social Security Statement

The Social Security Administration is now doing a better job in sending out earnings reports by mailing paper statements to workers every five years beginning at age 25. The reports are also available online at https://www.ssa.gov. These reports recap historic earnings and contain an estimate of potential benefits.

When you receive your report, spend a few minutes reviewing the statement. Here are some suggestions on how to do this.

  • Review your earnings history – Towards the back of the report is a recap of your earnings record. This should accurately reflect reported earnings on your tax return. This number is a summary of all your earnings subject to Social Security as reported by your employer on your W-2 forms. But if you are self-employed or have many employers, you must make sure that the income properly reflects what you earned.

Action: Employees: Pull out your W-2s and make sure the totals match. Self-employed: Pull out your tax return and confirm totals match. Review history: Review historic figures as well. Your Social Security benefits use your full work history to calculate future benefits.

  • Review your potential retirement benefits – The Social Security statement will provide you with an estimate of your benefit amount using current dollars and current work history. The value of your benefit will show three benefit amounts. One for the minimum retirement age of 62, one for the maximum amount if you start your benefits at age 70, and one for your full retirement age between the ages of 65 and 67.

Action: Consider these monthly benefit amounts in terms of your retirement plan to help create a realistic picture of what you will have available to you when you retire.

  • Note other benefits – Remember, Social Security is not just about your retirement benefits. There are also estimates presented for disability and surviving family benefits. Please review these estimates to understand the potential benefits these programs may provide.
  • Remember current benefits are just estimates – The benefits noted on this statement are estimates. Actual benefit amounts rise with inflation, change with tax laws, and adjust with your future earnings. Your benefit statement will show you the assumptions used in creating your estimated amounts.

Action: Review the assumptions used by the Social Security Administration. Pay special attention to the future earnings used by them to create the benefit amounts. If you do not think they are accurate, you may need to create revised estimates with more accurate assumptions.

Should you find any errors in the statement correct them immediately. The last page of the statement provides a means for doing this.

Don’t Let Taxes Upset Your Nest Egg!

Are you one of those who have carefully planned ahead for your retirement – setting up tax-advantaged savings accounts and researching the best place to live? You might be surprised to learn about the many tax issues that apply to retirees which should be taken into consideration when planning your retirement.

For example, you could face taxes on distributions from retirement or investment accounts, required minimum distributions from some retirement accounts and potential taxes on Social Security payments.  You also need to consider state and local income, sales or property taxes – as well as state taxes on retirement benefits and estates.

The good news is, there’s still time to anticipate and reduce some of those complications. Take the time now to properly plan your tax burden so your retirement is secure.

Thinking About Retiring? Maximize Your Social Security Benefits

Roughly 10,000 American Baby Boomers turn 65 every day. One important decision they’re facing is when to file for their Social Security benefits, because that can have a significant impact on the amount they receive. For example, if you retire before you reach full retirement age, you could reduce your benefit by as much as 30%. For every additional year you stay on the job until age 70, you could raise your benefit as much as 8%.

Married couples have the added responsibility to strategize to boost the benefit amounts they receive over time.  For example, one spouse may decide to file sooner or later based on both spouses’ lifetime earnings history and health situation.  Or, depending on how they coordinate their retirement planning, one spouse might start taking a spousal benefit based on the other’s earning before reaching full retirement age.

Before filing, research all the options so as to maximize the benefits and avoid the pitfalls.