Awarding Vacation Requests the Easy Way

As the holidays begin to quickly approach around the corner, employers need to begin thinking about when their employees will be taking their time off. Balancing who can take time off and when can be a challenge for some businesses, but it does not have to be. We have accumulated some easy planning steps to help you plan for your employees to take time off; which ultimately helps your business thrive.
vacation, time off, Stacia Robinson, The BeneChoice Companies

Begin by planning ahead. If you have yet to ask your employees about their holiday plans, do this immediately. To plan accurately, you will need to begin the planning phase no later than the end of summer / early autumn. Try having a calendar (virtual or paper, whichever fits your business needs best) available for time off requests that has dates 6-12 months out from the current time period. Weddings, anniversaries, baby showers, and holiday plans are usually planned months in advance so if your employee is attending something important, chances are they have already begun planning.

Getting the request in writing will be a short and long term benefit for everyone involved. (Another benefit to having a time off calendar available for employees to write requests on!) Additionally, having a form accessible for employees to fill out will help with consistency. Relying on your own memory is relying on a detail to be forgotten or a message to be misinterpreted. This form should have the employees name (and identification number if your business location uses which), the date they are putting in said request, the date(s) the employee will be out of the office, who they report to, and (if applicable) any allotment of PTO/Sick/Vacation time to be used.

Does it seem like everyone in your office wants the exact same day off? Unless you plan to have your business closed that day, make certain days “Premium Time Off” as a privilege. Reserve this “Premium Time Off” for high-performers or employees who have made significant sacrifices during the rest of the year or constant team players. Reward their good actions and they will continue to contribute well to the success of your business.

Lastly, make sure employees fully understand the business needs and goals. Do not be afraid to black out certain dates when projects are typically due for completion or high business traffic happens.

When these steps are put in place and your employees are fully aware, you will have a successful plan in action for meeting business needs and giving your employees the vacation times they request.

Highest regards,


Student Loans: A Plan of Attack for Each Generation

As a nation, student loan debt is over $1 trillion. Millennials are not the only generation fighting the snowball of student loan debt. 26 percent of Generation X workers and 13 percent of Baby Boomers have student loan debt.


For Millennials, student loan debt can be a suffocating overwhelming battle. Figuring out where to start with paying off student loan debt is a foggy forecast. The graduating class of 2016 has an average amount of $40,000 in student loan debt. Finding a balance of paying off that debt while also looking at short-term goals like finding a place to live, buying a car, or even long-term goals like retirement is like balancing multiple plates on poles.  Often times, millennials chose to not save for retirement as a way to pay off the current debt they face. This is not the best move as many employers offer matching 401(k) options, which is an easy way to save more money for retirement with a small amount dedicated to retirement every paycheck.


Most experts recommend setting aside three to six months of living expenses. Although this amount can initially be daunting, start small with a goal of $400-$500 in savings. Build upon the goal once it is achieved. By building on savings goals, your confidence in saving will grow as well.


Many Gen Xers, have growing families and are in the best time of their lives for earning and saving for retirement. However, they are facing the daunting task of saving for their child’s education, paying off a mortgage, or other financial obligations they may have. As a tip if this is your situation, check with your company about financial help tools they may offer. Speak with a financial advisor to assess your finances and optimize your efforts to save and pay off debt. This will help you identify the how and where to focus future efforts for your finances.
For Baby Boomers, they have $66 billion of the debt as of 2015. When it comes to student loans taken through the Department of Education, the government may even be able to garnish Social Security payments for those that may default on payments. Talk about daunting! A tip would be to look at re-amortizing the student loan; this will lower the current monthly payment but will lengthen the total loan repayment period. Additionally, just like the Gen Xers, speak to a financial advisor, as they can help assess your specific situation in detail.

Warmest regards,


Create A Culture of Health and Wellness

Most employees are working between 1040 and 2080 hours a year in an office setting, depending on if they are working part-time or full-time. That is a lot of time sitting being that there are 8760 hour in a year. That is 11.8% to 23.7% of the time. WOW! Almost 25% of a year sitting! This not taking into consideration overtime or project work those employees may do.


We wonder why American workers find it difficult to find time to squeeze in trips to the gym. With health-related expenses costing companies millions of dollars a year, employers should be doing everything in their power to keep their employees fit and healthy.


Let’s look to see what could be done to improve employee health overall:


Here are 4 simple ideas of things employers can do to keep their health care costs down.


  1. Decide what kind of culture your firm and employees want to have.

This can be done through collaboration of departments and make a fun spirit amongst peers.  Provide the space for healthy living.

    1. Investigate what you are promoting. What does your organization supply in your vending machines? Do you put our fruit or donuts for team meetings?
    2. Make sure your leaders are on board. When the management of a company promotes healthy living, it is easier for everyone else to jump on board.
    3. Make health easy. Encourage others by putting in a gym or walking path and praise employees for their healthy choices through words of affirmation.
  1. Find a buddy amongst the ranks.
    1. Put together fun workplace initiatives such as a walking or running group.
    2. Drum up a team weight maintenance or fat loss program during the holidays.
    3. Sign up a team for a recreation league and accept all players who want to be healthy.
    4. Invite local health and wellness professionals to host workshops and cooking demos.
  2. Get buy in.
    1. Ask your teams what they want to accomplish in living a healthy lifestyle through surveys or opinion boxes.
    2. Help them identify the hurdles that may come up and set up a collaborative time to help them over the hurdles
    3. Don’t push the unmotivated employee to change if they don’t want to. Work with the willing.
  3. Give free information.
    1. Set up a company intranet page that showcases healthy living articles, workouts, social media pages, ideas, success stories and even a chat area for others to collaborate on and off business hours.
  4. Make it worth their while.
    1. Employees will do a lot for a little recognition and praise.
    2. If you so feel inclined,make a contest with some layers of prizes or incentives they can win for doing what you want them to…being healthy.


You’ll have buy in, if everyone that supports your company initiative wants to truly live a healthy lifestyle. So be all in and get well and stay well. You are worth it.


Warmest regards,



6 Ways To Politely Say ‘No’!

Written by Peter Economy

All of us want to be agreeable and to be liked by others—both at work, and in life in general. This very fact, however, leads to a problem that can keep us from achieving the goals we set for ourselves: the inability to say “no.”

So, what’s the problem? Isn’t it better to be able to say “yes” to our customers, coworkers, and boss? Not always.

Unfortunately, when we won’t say no because we’re afraid we’ll disappoint people or hurt their feelings, we end up letting others decide what we will do, or what kind of person we are going to be. As Warren Buffett so accurately pointed out, “You’ve gotta keep control of your time, and you can’t unless you say no. You can’t let people set your agenda in life.”

Take a moment to think back over the past few months. How many times did you find yourself saying yes and then regretting it later? If you’re like most of us, probably more times than you would like to admit.

The good news is that you can learn to say “no,” and you can say it honestly, and with style and grace.

Keep in mind that there are very legitimate reasons for you to say no to the requests of others—particularly when saying yes would require you to do something that’s unreasonable, inconsiderate, or inconvenient—or that takes you away from your own priorities and goals at work or in life.

Here are some of the most common reasons why we have difficulty saying no:

  • We feel saying no would be rude
  • We need to repay someone for a favor
  • We think that it won’t take much of our time
  • We believe that it is our responsibility or obligation
  • We are afraid that people won’t like us anymore
  • We feel guilty about it
  • We fear being rejected and losing friends

There’s no magic formula or rule to follow to saying no. It’s a personal choice. But by saying “no” to some requests, we can say “yes” to our top priorities in life.

So if you’re ready to learn how to say no, here are some responses you can use when you don’t want to say yes.

  • I’m sorry, but I can’t commit to this as I have other priorities at this time.
  • I am in the middle of doing something and now is not a good time for me.
  • I feel I am not the right person to help you on this. Perhaps someone else would be better.
  • I have a long-term commitment that I cannot break.
  • Thank you for thinking of me, however, I already made plans.
  • I would love to but I have to say no.

Saying no isn’t easy if you naturally tend to say yes. However, learning to say no is a vital part of getting things done, and staying away from situations that can create unnecessary stress for you. With practice, saying no gets easier and easier.

Give it a try, and you’ll see.