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Welcome to the Fall edition of the Alcott Advisor. This month's feature article discusses the importance of "Best Practices" to both small and large companies. You can also read about new initiatives at Alcott and some important information for small businesses.

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Enjoy the newsletter.  Al Anastasi

Best Practices Are Vital for Small Businesses

  Large corporations have long relied on so-called "Best Practices." All of the related initiatives such as ISO 2000 and Six Sigma began in the big business environment. In reality, however, small businesses may need best practices more and can meet their demise in the absence of them. This is particularly true across key categories of financial management, information technology (IT) systems management, human resources, marketing, and risk management. Understanding the intent of best practices and basic principles to follow within these categories and on an overall operational basis is vital.

What is a best practice?
Simply stated, a best practice is a policy and/or procedure which improves a specific business process or operational area. It is accompanied by benchmarking to assure that the practice is being followed and is meeting its intended goal.

Best practices are designed to achieve one or more of the following goals:
  • Improve accuracy and prevent errors
  • Increase performance and productivity
  • Reduce costs
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Did You Know?

  • The National Association of Professional Employer Organizations (NAPEO) has been aggressively advocating on the Hill on behalf of small businesses' interests in the nation's healthcare reform. NAPEO's role has been to ensure that the benefits small businesses derive from their relationship with their Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs) will not be compromised due to changes resulting from new healthcare legislation.
  • A study by the White House Council of Economic Advisers found that small businesses pay up to 18% more to provide health insurance for their employees than large companies. The White House study also found that, owing to skyrocketing health insurance premiums, only 49% of businesses with 3 to 9 workers and 78% of companies with 10 to 24 workers offered any type of health insurance in 2008 compared with 99% of companies with more than 200 employees who did offer health insurance.
  • Beginning October 26, 2009, all New York employers must notify new employees of their pay rate and regular pay date in writing and must obtain a receipt from each employee acknowledging their receipt of this information. the notice to non-exempt employees must include both their regular hourly rate and overtime rate.
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What's New at Alcott?

  Alcott has been involved in a major workforce development initiative led by LIFT in conjunction with the New York State Department of Labor. Alcott's Executive Vice President Barry Shorten is an officer of LIFT, serving as its Secretary. Among the earliest initiatives was a survey of area businesses to determine what skill sets are needed in employees. At an event held this past February, Connect LI - Creating Long Island's Future, the group revealed its findings as to what skills were in demand and where the gaps lie.

Among some of the findings of the survey were:
  • There is a strong demand for transformational and industry-specific skills.
  • Over 30% of respondents stated skilled labor remains their biggest problem for growth.
  • Between 1% and 50% of incoming college freshmen need help in basic reading, writing and math skills.
  • 25% to 50% of undergraduate college students in the key demand category of engineering are foreign and return home after obtaining their degrees.
  • Long Island business respondents revealed a cumulative current need for 4,000 engineers and projected 5-year need of 7,000 engineers; a current need for 1,000 lab and test technicians and projected 5-year need for 2,000; and a current need for 2,000 nurses including homecare and projected 5-year need for 8,000.
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