Tips for Small Businesses Struggling to Hire Post-Pandemic

Watch the recent webinar presented by Ahola.

A recent webinar presented by Ahola Payroll & HR Solutions and COSE covered the struggles small businesses are having hiring employees post-pandemic, with input from three small business leaders from Northeast Ohio.

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  • Next up: To SHOP or not to SHOP?
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  • To SHOP or not to SHOP?

    While there has been no official word out of Washington, media reports say Ohio will be among the first five states where small business owners can shop for health insurance through the federal government’s online marketplace for small employers.

    While there has been no official word out of Washington, media reports say Ohio will be among the first five states where small business owners can shop for health insurance through the federal government’s online marketplace for small employers.

    The controlled roll-out in late October of the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace is meant to help minimize the deluge of problems that occurred when the government introduced its health insurance exchange for individuals. The hope is that opening the marketplace to a limited number of states will give the Department of Health and Human Services time to fix glitches before Nov. 15; that’s when small employers in the other states that chose not to create their own health insurance exchanges can access the SHOP Marketplace portal of HealthCare.gov.

    For small employers in Ohio, the imminent opening of the federal health insurance exchange about a year after its planned introduction begs the question, “Is the SHOP Marketplace right for my business?”

    It isn’t a question with a clear-cut answer. However, it doesn’t hurt to be armed with information about the program as you ponder whether to SHOP, or not to SHOP.

    From COSE’s perspective, it’s important for small business owners to look before leaping – especially if you are already providing insurance under other group plans such as those offered by Medical Mutual through COSE.

    One thing to take note of when evaluating this decision for your business is the tax credits. While some small businesses will be eligible for them when purchasing insurance via the SHOP, many will not qualify for this relief. It’s important that you clearly understand the parameters around the tax credits – and whether or not you fit into them.

    It quickly is apparent upon a visit to HealthCare.gov that the tax credits are not available to everyone who buys coverage via SHOP.

    Though the SHOP Marketplace is open to employers with 50 or fewer full-time-equivalent employees, only employers with fewer than 25 FTEs are among those eligible for the credits. But not even all these employers qualify for the credits.

    For starters, the employees of a business with fewer than 25 FTEs must make an average of about $50,000 a year or less. Also, an employer must pay at least 50% of the premium costs of his or her full-time employees to qualify for the tax credit, which is worth a maximum of 50% of the employer’s contribution toward the premium costs under a sliding scale.

    HealthCare.gov said the tax credit is highest for companies with fewer than 10 employees who are paid an average of $25,000 a year or less. But even then, the credits only are available to eligible employers for two consecutive years.

    Based on what we’ve seen, unless you qualify for a tax credit, employers can generally do as well or better with their current small group plans and their current carrier outside of the SHOP because SHOP rates seem to be adjusted to reflect perceived additional risk in those plans and additional fees are being charged to support the exchanges.

    Another reason for small employers to think carefully before switching to SHOP is the potential for confusion among your employees.

    A small business that chooses a group policy for all of its employees in the traditional market can help its employees more because it can reach out to the carrier and get questions resolved on the part of its people. However, under SHOP, a small company’s employees can select from any carrier that is part of the marketplace in their area. Consequently, the employees could all end up with different coverage, and employers certainly will face challenges in addressing employees’ questions and concerns.  Employees will be in charge of resolving the issues on their own behalf with the service team of the selected carrier.

    But perhaps the biggest reason to proceed with caution is because some small employers with existing group plans can choose to stay in those plans through 2016 – and once they leave those plans, they won’t be able to go back to a non-Affordable Care Act option. Considering how changeable SHOP has been to this point, employers might want to think about maintaining status quo until the marketplace settles down

    At some point, the SHOP might be the best route for employers who want to relieve themselves of the responsibility to help employees select benefits, while still providing some contribution to fund their benefits. However, more and more small employers are understanding that even with the headaches that sometimes come with insurance benefits, actively offering these benefits is a strong tool to attracting and retaining talent, which is becoming much harder and a more strategic business issue.


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  • Next up: Tri-C Focuses on Key Employment Areas
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  • Tri-C Focuses on Key Employment Areas

    William Gary has heard a familiar refrain from employers in the year he has served as executive vice president, workforce development division, at Cuyahoga Community College. “They are saying, ‘We need qualified individuals now,’” he said during an August 14 meeting of COSE’s Advocacy Committee. “We need skill sets that will help build our bottom lines now.” Tri-C is working to address those concerns. Ohio’s first community college is refocusing on key areas that are expected to be areas of employment growth going forward: information technology, healthcare, professional services, public safety and advanced manufacturing. 

    William Gary has heard a familiar refrain from employers in the year he has served as executive vice president, workforce development division, at Cuyahoga Community College.

    “They are saying, ‘We need qualified individuals now,’” he said during an August 14 meeting of COSE’s Advocacy Committee. “We need skill sets that will help build our bottom lines now.”

    Tri-C is working to address those concerns. Ohio’s first community college is refocusing on key areas that are expected to be areas of employment growth going forward: information technology, healthcare, professional services, public safety and advanced manufacturing. 

    “These are the sectors that drive the Northeast Ohio economy,” he said, adding the college’s executives do not want to train students for jobs that might be in short supply in the future.

    One example of Tri-C’s renewed focus was seen earlier this summer when it held the first 3-D manufacturing conference in Ohio, which was attended by more than 300 people. The conference featured a wide variety of computer-printed goods, including a car.

    “That’s where technology is moving and in order for us to prepare to potentially support this technology, we have to make sure our programming is state of the art,” he said.

    Tri-C is helping students understand the skills they are going to need to be successful in the evolving economy. Gary also discussed the college’s “Right Skills Now” program with Swagelok, in which students are taught the skills they need to know in order to get a job with Swagelok. The program participants are guaranteed employment with Swagelok upon completing the program.

    “We’re helping students get placed in your jobs,” he said. “We’re helping individuals understand the soft skills they need that really contribute to the success of all of us.”


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  • Next up: Twitter Reaction to the 2017 Cleveland Internship Summit
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  • Twitter Reaction to the 2017 Cleveland Internship Summit

    Today’s students are tomorrow’s workplace stars. What’s the best way to get them the experience they need to reach their full potential? That’s the discussion that was the focal point of the 2017 Cleveland Internship Summit on Feb. 9. The approximately 200 attendees of the event had a lot to say about how to improve internship opportunities and they shared those thoughts on Twitter. Take a look for yourself.

    Today’s students are tomorrow’s workplace stars. What’s the best way to get them the experience they need to reach their full potential? That’s the discussion that was the focal point of the 2017 Cleveland Internship Summit on Feb. 9. The approximately 200 attendees of the event had a lot to say about how to improve internship opportunities and they shared those thoughts on Twitter. Take a look for yourself below.

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  • Next up: The 2015 Small Business Convention: Two Days to a Better Business
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  • The 2015 Small Business Convention: Two Days to a Better Business

    There is no limit to what you can achieve as a small business owner, especially when you are equipped with a healthy attitude, a solid plan, and the right tools and support. COSE’s annual Small Business Convention is a two-day event that challenges participants to learn, experience and take action to be the best business owners they can be. We asked COSE’s 2015 Small Business Convention Planning Committee Chairman Dr. Joe Mayer, co-founder and managing partner of the Mayer Business Group, to give us a sneak preview of the event, and offer his top five reasons not to miss this year’s Convention.

    There is no limit to what you can achieve as a small business owner, especially when you are equipped with a healthy attitude, a solid plan, and the right tools and support. COSE’s annual Small Business Convention is a two-day event that challenges participants to learn, experience and take action to be the best business owners they can be.

    We asked COSE’s 2015 Small Business Convention Planning Committee Chairman Dr. Joe Mayer, co-founder and managing partner of the Mayer Business Group, to give us a sneak preview of the event, and offer his top five reasons not to miss this year’s Convention.

    “The Convention planning committee is extremely excited about the lineup of speakers and topics, exhibitors and overall size and scope of the event this year,” says Mayer. “We’ve got something for every small business to help them manage and grow their business. This year also marks the 10th anniversary of the Convention, and we are thrilled to be holding it for the first time in downtown Cleveland.”

    Here are Mayer’s top five reasons to attend the Convention: 

    1. Dynamic Networking. “No matter the type of business we’re in, small business owners all face similar challenges. Understanding how others approach those challenges and how they found solutions can help you master them, too. With more than 1,000 small business owners expected to attend the event, the Conference is the biggest networking opportunity of the year.”
    2. Practical Learning. “Our breakout sessions will be lead by some of Ohio’s premier experts on topics that range from Pricing for Value and Profits to Developing Your Employer Brand. Our goal is to make sure that each learning opportunity offers takeaways that you can apply to your business the next day that will make a real difference.”
    3. Inspiration. “Our lineup of keynote speakers is truly inspirational. They each have a unique entrepreneurial story to share, as well as lessons on leadership and strategies for success.”
    4. Expert Advice. “Where else can you seek advice from more than 80 exhibitors and partners who understand the specific needs of small owners and stand ready to offer solutions to help you in your business?”
    5. Refresh and Recharge. “The COSE Small Business Convention is not your typical business gathering. Our goal is to put on an event where small business owners can come to recharge their battery and mind with two days filled with inspiration, fun and making new friends and connections.”

    For more information or to register for the 2015 Small Business Convention, go to www.smallbizconvention.com.

    This article originally appeared in the July 6, 2015, edition of Small Business Matters.


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  • Next up: Ultraviolet (UV) Safety Awareness Month
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  • Ultraviolet (UV) Safety Awareness Month

    July is Ultraviolet (UV) Safety Awareness Month. To celebrate, we are sharing helpful information about how UV-blocking and polarized lenses can help protect your eyes this summer.

     

    Did you know wearing sunglasses is one of the easiest ways to support your eye health? This July, make sure you have access to sunglasses with UV-blocking lenses to stop the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UVA and UVB) rays from reaching your eyes. Take your summer adventures a step further by making sure your lenses are also polarized to reduce glare and enhance clarity.

    Protect your eyes from Ultraviolet (UV) light.
    According to the CDC, UV rays are “an invisible kind of radiation that comes from the sun, tanning beds, and sunlamps.” Sun damage can be harmful to your eye health and can put you at risk for a corneal sunburn, redness and irritation, and long-term effects like age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, blindness, and even eyelid skin cancer. The best way to reduce your risk and protect your eyes from the sun is to wear sunglasses that provide both UVA and UVB protection.

    Reduce the glare with a polarized pair.
    While UV-blocking lenses protect your eyes from the sun, polarized lenses remove glare so you can see more clearly without squinting. Polarized lenses are popular with those who enjoy being outdoors or on the water with improved clarity and contrast. When light reflects off surfaces such as lakes or cars, the light waves align in horizontal patterns, creating glare. The filters in polarized lenses block these horizontal waves, which reduces glare. For optimal eye health benefits and comfort, make sure your summer shades are both UV-blocking and polarized. 

    Looking for the perfect pair of polarized and UV-blocking sunglasses? 
    As a VSP® Vision Care member, you can take advantage of the following offers:
       Get an additional 20% off of glasses or sunglasses at your local VSP network doctor* or at Eyeconic®.
       Get $25 off Dragon sunglasses through July at Eyeconic® through September 30, 2021.
       Get an extra $40 added to your frame allowance now through October 31, 2021, when you choose frames from popular brands Cole Haan, Flexon®, Lacoste, Pure®, and Salvatore Ferragamo.

    *20% savings on additional pairs of prescription or non-prescription glasses/sunglasses within 12 months of your last eye exam.

    See Well. Be Well.® Make your eye health and eye care a priority by scheduling your annual comprehensive eye exam. If you haven’t already, take advantage of your COSE member benefit and opt-in to VSP vision insurance. Contact your COSE sales representative or broker for more info.

     
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