The Alcott Group   Good for Your Business ~ Good for Your People
    •  Ziva Guide: A New Benefit
    •  Dollars and Sense
    •  Client Spotlight #1
    •  Risky Business
    •  Client Spotlight #2
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    •  Did You Know?

Up until this past weekend, our New York winter has been a lamb. Just like the weather, we have been enjoying a fairly good business climate; just remember over the long haul seasons tend to average out. While business is good and you're experiencing growth, it's natural to want to spend all of your time on tasks closely related to your core business rather than on things that you think can wait - like human resources. Well, those things you think can wait have a nasty habit of coming back to bite you. Wouldn't it be to your advantage to have a human resources partner that knows what has to be done, knows when it has to be done by and, best of all, can do it for you?

This issue features two client spotlights which discuss their reasons for wanting to outsource human resources and for choosing The Alcott Group. Also, there are articles related to employee benefits and to identity theft within the workplace, two subjects that most certainly deserve attention. Finally we are announcing the formation of a new position within Alcott and the availability of a new benefit that will help everyone within the Alcott family to receive and better manage information related to their health.

Enjoy, and please let us know if there are employment-related issues you would like us to cover in the future. Send your e-mails to Al Anastasi at or call 631-420-0100.


Subscription-Based Service Provides Customized Healthcare Information

The Alcott Group (Farmingdale and Buffalo, NY), one of New York State’s most prominent Professional Employer Organizations (PEO) with divisions in Long Island and Buffalo, NY, recently announced a new service for its clients - ZivaGuide™. This revolutionary new subscription-based service is designed to provide individuals with access to unbiased, personalized, customized and localized healthcare information and enable them to create customized health profiles. Alcott’s clients and worksite employees will be given a free subscription as a value added enhancement to the company’s expanding selection of employee benefits.

Using ZivaGuide, employees can retrieve information about specific diseases and health conditions for which they may be vulnerable. After learning about a specific health condition, they can then use ZivaGuide to access resources to help them control the associated risks. In this way, ZivaGuide is an outstanding tool, which in helping empower individuals to take more control of their health, also serves to contain health costs.

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  In September of 2000, when Mark Zygaj joined Prism Health Networks (West Seneca, NY) as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, he had a formidable task before him. He was charged with leading a major corporate restructuring. According to Mr. Zygaj, Prism, a provider of specialty network managed-care services, was in need of a complete overhaul, including new infrastructure, policies and procedures. Among the areas which needed to be addressed was Human Resource management.

At the time, there was no consistent method of HR administration and the burden of managing this complex area fell on the former president. With his arrival, and having more HR experience than the former president, the responsibility shifted to Mr. Zygaj. To his credit, he recognized the vast complexities present in the HR role today and immediately sought a better solution. He briefly considered setting up an in-house HR department, but ruled it out believing the company’s size did not warrant it.

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  When Jacobson Consulting Applications, Inc. (JCA, New York, NY, recently decided to seek out a service provider to manage its Human Resources, the company had one advantage over many others. Its management already understood and valued the concept of Professional Employer Organizations (PEO), providers of HR outsourcing. In fact, JCA, the nation’s leading independent technical consulting firm for the non-profit sector, with employees in eight different states, had already been served by two PEOs. The first experience was good, up until an acquisition took place sending service in a downward spiral.

According to President and CEO Steven G. Jacobson, who founded JCA in 1988 and who subscribes to a corporate mission of, “The Best People, the Best Value, the Best Results,” the organization first started using PEO services about four years ago to handle payroll and benefits administration, as well as tax and regulatory compliance.

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  Did you know that HR Outsourcing is helping diverse organizations and businesses succeed in many ways? This according to various businesses sources:

-- Washington Post and Associated Press (01/23/06) . . . “Outsourcing: Matter of Course for Small Biz" . . . Lori Booker says her public relations firm’s profits rose 25% after she hired a company to handle the business’ human resources needs . . .

-- (01/12/06) . . . “Outsourcing HR Can Grow Your Business” . . . If you’ve worked for a large company, you know about the perks such as flexible health and retirement plans. Your small business, though, probably doesn’t have the resources to put together a competitive benefits package on its own. That’s where HR firms . . . can help . . . secure a more affordable and comprehensive benefits package than it could get on its own . . .

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Keeping Employees of All Ages in the Right Benefits . . . Cost-Effectively

Organizations with both older and younger employees can contain their employee benefits expense, while also addressing the needs of a diverse employee base. How? Through HR outsourcing, companies are given access to a comprehensive selection of benefits that accommodate their different employees, based on their age and life circumstance requirements. Through a cafeteria plan option, employees can select the best option for their medical insurance, dental and vision coverage, and choose from some of today’s newer healthcare options, such as flexible spending accounts and health savings accounts. There are also options relating to life insurance and disability income coverage. Additionally, retirement plans such as 401(k) come with their own set of options, such as multiple investments, self- or broker-directed, matching and safe harbor.

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Preventing Identity Theft in the Workplace

The statistics on identity theft are sobering. This type of crime has cost businesses an estimated $47 billion. Victims of the crime are subject to an average out-of-pocket loss of $500 and 30 hours to remedy the problem, according to the Federal Trade Commission. What can businesses do to prevent identity theft in the workplace? The Alcott Group advises organizations to:

Learn and understand the regulations put forth in The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA). FACTA, which became effective June of 2005, imposes certain obligations on employers to combat identity theft. Chief among them is the FACTA Disposal Rule. It requires that employers who utilize consumer reports for employment purposes must institute “reasonable and appropriate” policies and procedures to dispose of the reports and/or the personal information contained therein. The rule applies to the disposal of both paper and electronic information.

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Is a PEO Right for You?
Take Alcott's SELF EVALUATION to learn if your company is a candidate for HR Outsourcing.

Complimentary HR Strategy Evaluation:
Is your HR shop in order? Do you have a focused HR strategy or is it something you just can't seem to get to? Alcott's on-site evaluation will help you create an actionable plan for addressing one of your most critical business processes. Click here to learn more.

Ask the HR Experts
Question: What is a sure-fire way of boosting employee morale?
Answer: Offering employees unexpected benefits.

All employees feel they are entitled to certain employee benefits; specifically health coverage and, in some fields, access to a company-sponsored retirement plan. But, imagine the boost to employer-employee relations when part of your benefit package also includes college scholarships or tuition reimbursement plans, adoption assistance and legal services. And, what employee wouldn’t be thrilled with such perks as discounts to local retailers, health clubs, movie tickets and theatre tickets? For businesses in metropolitan areas, where staff rely heavily on mass transit, discounted transit cards are also well received. These unexpected benefits also accrue value to employers. They gain from better employee retention and recruitment, an enhanced image as an employee-friendly workplace and the increased productivity that is typically associated with a more content workforce.

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