The IRS announces savings adjustments

by Michael Haberman on November 14, 2018 · 0 comments

The IRS annually adjusts the maximum amounts that employees can save in their 401(k) plans. This chart (borrowed from SHRM) shows the defined contribution plan changes.


Defined Contribution Plan Limits 2019 2018 Change
Maximum employee elective deferral* $19,000 $18,500 +$500
Employee catch-up contribution (if age 50 or older by year-end)** $6,000 $6,000 No


Defined contribution maximum limit, all sources $56,000 $55,000 +$1,000
Defined contribution maximum limit (if age 50 or older by year end); maximum contribution all sources plus catch-up $62,000 $61,000 +$1,000
Employee compensation limit for calculating contributions $280,000 $275,000 +$5,000
Key employees’ compensation threshold for nondiscrimination testing $180,000 $175,000 +5,000
Highly compensated employees’ threshold for nondiscrimination testing $125,000 $120,000 +5,000


According to Investopedia:

For 2019, the maximum allowable contribution to a 401(k) account – including employee salary deferrals and after-tax Roth contributions, as well as employer matching and elective contributions – is $56,000, or 100% of employee compensation, whichever is lower. This is up $1,000 from 2018. With a $6,000 catch-up contribution, the maximum yearly contribution for 401(k) participants age 50 or older is $62,000 for 2019 (up by $1,000 from 2018).

It is important to communicate this information to your employees.


Safety is a concern regardless of the job.

Today’s guest post was written by Molly McGuane, a Communications Specialist. 

No matter what your career or position is, It’s important to be cautious on the job. Whether you’re in an office, on a construction site, or putting out a fire, being aware of your surroundings and your health and safety should be a top priority. Occupational risks are a reality of everyday life, but on-the-job dangers are more common than we think, and being aware is the first step in staying safe.

Repetitive Use

Ergonomics is a word that gets thrown around often in an office setting. The importance of keeping your body healthy while at work and paying attention to your posture, your typing, and even how long you sit for are things to take into consideration. This isn’t just important for office workers though, as a repetitive use injury can happen in just about any field of work.

Repetitive use injuries are a result of overexertion and can evolve over weeks due to repetitive motion and putting a continuous strain on certain body parts. Common pains in the office can range from a bad back to neck issues, or potentially carpal tunnel if you type often or regularly use the phone. In workplaces like construction sites, these injuries can result from constant lifting, pushing, pulling, and carrying heavy objects. This is a demanding profession to get into because employees are often expected to work long hours in a variety of environments. As a result of working with materials such as timber, concrete, and steel, laborers are likely to put a strain on their body and overtime be at risk for this type of injury.

Companies are trying to aid in this area and are implementing courses for office employees in ergonomics to understand how to prevent these problems. For construction workers, there are physical ability tests which show how they are doing and if they are able to do the work and perform their duties safely for both themselves and their coworkers.

Luckily, there are some simple fixes.  For an office employee, get a chair that supports your spine and can adjust to your specific requirements. If you are constantly using the phone, keep it as close to your body as possible to minimize reaching and stand up at least once an hour or utilize a standing desk to improve energy levels and productivity. For construction workers, wearing the proper safety equipment, taking breaks throughout the day, and staying up to date on training on how to properly work in that environment will help prevent future injuries as well.


Professionals in several areas of work can be exposed to radiation. People working in manufacturing, construction, medicine, and the nuclear industry have the potential for radiation exposure. There are several forms of radiation including non-ionizing, ionizing, and electromagnet. Frequent exposure to this can cause tissue damage and must be properly controlled.

Long-term impacts of radiation can be life altering and even deadly, so it’s important to know how to protect yourself from unhealthy levels. Humans can not sense ionizing radiation, so if you work in an area that may have a risk of exposure it’s important to use a radiation detector. Most importantly, put distance and shielding between you and the radiation. It’s the most immediate way to prevent a risk of exposure, and limit your time in areas that are high in radiation.


Asbestos was once noted as a miracle property due to its strength and flame resistance. Because of this, it was utilized in construction of homes and other buildings until the mid 1970’s. Although asbestos isn’t being used in new builds, construction workers, firefighters, and electricians, and even mechanics, can be exposed to this harmful toxin. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), roughly 125 million people are exposed to asbestos while at work. Occupational exposure to asbestos is also the leading cause of a rare cancer called Mesothelioma, with more than half of these cases attributed to on the job exposure through inhaling or ingesting the mineral. Unfortunately, many workers might not know they were exposed until years later as symptoms appear 10-50 years after exposure.

On construction sites, it’s most likely asbestos will be found when renovating old buildings or during demolition. Although this material is banned in some places such as the UK, it has yet to be banned in many countries, including the United States. Protecting workers from this dangerous mineral is important, and luckily there are ways to do so. To protect workers provide them with the information they need to know. Sharing the resources available and general knowledge of asbestos, where it can be found, and the risks of being exposed gives workers an upper hand. Safety equipment such as a dust or respirator mask is the next step in ensuring workers are protected. These small precautions can make a great impact.

Other Risks

One of the main five groups of occupational hazards that we seem to overlook is psychosocial. Jobs can put a great amount of stress on us physically and emotionally. If a job doesn’t have sufficient work-life balance it will impact happiness, health, and even family members. It’s important not to rule this health risk out. Workers must find a balance between work and life and make time to do things that make them happy. Work can’t be the center of our lives, and there must be things that matter to us outside of the office or construction zone. It gives our bodies and minds time to rest and re energize for the next work day.


Education is the first step in staying safe when on the job. Employers need to provide employees with information, equipment, and the proper resources to know how to protect themselves or how to prevent risk. It’s equally as important for employees to do research on their own before entering a role and to know what potential risk is involved in the job. Together companies and their staff will be more productive, happier, and safer when knowing the risks and what to do to combat them.

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Everyone can learn new skills to help them be employable.

I read an interview with Max Ventilla, CEO and Founder, AltSchool. According to their website, AltSchool is “…a partnership between educators, entrepreneurs, and engineers who are driven to deliver whole-child, personalized learning so that every child can reach their potential. …We’re working together to build a comprehensive platform to personalize learning in schools, with the goal of making the best education the most accessible.” In this interview about the future of students, Mr. Ventilla gave some information that I think is cogent to all of us in our careers. It is about what is important to learn.

The hierarchy of learning

The interviewer, Gautam Jaggi, Director at EY, Member of EYQ, writing on the website NewCo, asked Ventilla “What knowledge and skills will people need in the future of work, and how can education prepare them for it?” Ventilla said there is a hierarchy. He said that at the bottom are facts and figures. Then come the skills of math and language. These are followed by what he says is the “apex skill.” This apex skill is “learning to learn.” For many of us, that is what we tell children today in school. We tell ourselves and those around us that knowing how to learn will be the saving grace for many of us as the future advances. Unfortunately, Ventilla says that is no longer enough.

New apex skill

Ventilla says that to be productive, and employed, in the future we need a new apex skill. We need to be able to develop “problem seeking and the ability to find the right problems to work on.” I saw an example of this while watching a show today. A museum had a fossil that had been there for many years. It was of a puzzling creature that no one had ever seen. There were other examples of this creature, but regardless of how many examples they had no one could figure out how to classify this tiny creature. Most examiners thought it was an invertebrate of unknown origin.

The problem was solved when a newly minted college student came to work at the museum. Using new equipment, she and her coworkers discovered that the creature was not an invertebrate, but rather had a primitive spinal cord. This allowed them to reclassify and find a relative in the known fossil record and ultimately a related creature today. She used her creativity, her knowledge of newer equipment and techniques to find the right problem to work on.


In a previous post, I wrote, called Future Friday: Creativity is the key to survival, I talked about the importance of creativity for HR departments and helping employees work in an environment of innovation. It will be critical to helping employees survive the onslaught of AI and job replacement. For yourself, understanding how creativity plays into your job will be critical. You must learn how to know what are the right problems to work on. Quoting from my blog, here are the tips I suggested.

  1. Foster an openness to innovation. “Innovation entails creative tension and a willingness to take risks,” says Mr. Horne, a statement repeated often in the HR literature and advice we often try to give our managers. But how often do we follow it ourselves? We know that innovation must be encouraged not punished. Do you have reward mechanisms in place to do so?
  2. Expand your pipeline of new ideas. Exposure to information outside the organization. This means you need to be exposed to ideas beyond the company walls. READ blogs, newsletters, periodicals, and books. And don’t just read HR stuff. I got this information from InformationWeek.
  3. Triage the Most Promising Ideas. This was a very interesting point. Mr. Horne says that often the problem is not the number of ideas but deciding which among them is the best. He makes the point “A traditional project proposal without measurable ROI may just be a bad proposal, but an innovative idea may have no measurable ROI because it hasn’t been tested…..The idea is to determine whether an innovation warrants further exploration, not to generate a business case or estimate ROI, as too little is known about the innovation to assess the business case effectively.”
  4. Adopt a “Test and Learn” Approach.No one likes to have an idea fail. But it happens. If the person failing is then punished for that failure what are the chances you will have them stick their neck out again? So you need to test. Do some scenario planning. If you have a large enough group you can do a pilot project. If it falls flat then learn from the missteps and revise.

Take these lessons to heart if you want to stay employed.


3 Ways LinkedIn Can Help Your Company Besides Recruiting

by Michael Haberman on November 8, 2018 · 0 comments

LinkedIn is not only valuable to individuals but also to their companies.

This post is brought to you by my friends at

LinkedIn has become one of the most important tools for HR department recruiters. Nearly nine in 10 recruiters use LinkedIn to source and vet candidates, over twice as many who use Facebook, a Jobvite survey found. LinkedIn provides an efficient, affordable way to find, contact, and screen qualified talent.

But LinkedIn also has many valuable uses for HR departments and their companies that go beyond recruiting. LinkedIn can be used to position your brand, build your network, and forge partnerships. Here’s a look at three ways besides recruiting that LinkedIn can benefit your business.

Establish Your Brand’s Social Profile

One valuable use of LinkedIn is serving as a platform to build your brand’s social profile. The LinkedIn platform includes a number of features that you can use to position your brand. LinkedIn provides an SEO-friendly description field that will preview up to 156 characters of text for search engines, with additional space for human readers to click to see more. You can include your company logo and a cover image to reinforce your verbal description. You can add showcase pages to supplement your main page by highlighting features about your company you want to emphasize.

You can also publish content that positions your brand in your market and appeals to your target audience. You can even add career pages that turn your page into a job posting recruitment portal. For an example of a brand that uses all these features of LinkedIn effectively, see the LinkedIn profile for Amway, which regularly publishes content to inform entrepreneurs about its direct selling business model and to attract job seekers to career opportunities.

Build Your Company’s Professional Network

LinkedIn is also a great tool for you and members of your company to build your brand’s professional network. There are four primary ways to build your network through LinkedIn, says personal branding coach William Arruda. The most fundamental step is to start reaching out to add others to your network. Start by adding people who are already on your contact list. You should then begin reaching out to their contacts and to connections suggested for you by LinkedIn, as well as accepting connection invitations from others. Set a goal of cultivating at least 500 contacts. Once you reach 500 contacts, LinkedIn stops displaying the number of contacts you have, only showing that you have over 500.

The most powerful LinkedIn tool for building networks is groups, says Arruda. Joining a group lets you connect with established networks and quickly make targeted, high-level connections. Once you join a group, you can introduce yourself and begin interacting with other members and liking and sharing content. You can also create your own groups. Used properly, LinkedIn groups can serve as a tightly targeted, highly effective promotional tool. For instance, automotive software company MPi boosted its webinar attendance by 20 percent by joining LinkedIn groups related to their target audience.

Forge Business Partnerships

Another powerful application of LinkedIn is using the platform to build business partnerships. For instance, let’s say your company offers graphic design services for companies with websites. By using LinkedIn to connect with IT firms who help companies build websites, you may be able to create a source of steady referrals and contract work for your company.

To find business partners on LinkedIn, IDW Publishing direct market sales manager Joel Elad recommends that you begin by researching potential partners to identify what common interests you have that can be used to build a relationship. Let others in your network know that you’re looking for partners as well. Cultivate introductions from members of your network, or use InMail to reach out with your own introduction.

LinkedIn is a great recruiting tool, but it also has other powerful applications that can benefit your business. Use the LinkedIn platform to establish your brand’s social profile, extend your company’s professional network, and build strategic partnerships. Leveraged properly, your LinkedIn profile can be your company’s most valuable social media asset.


Five acts that violate the overtime provisions of the FLSA- again

by Michael Haberman November 7, 2018

Tweet I am still doing webinars on violations of the FLSA because employers still make these mistakes.  I spent an hour reading material on the many employers who make FLSA mistakes. Stop! Learn the correct ways! CNN Money published a list of the top 10 industries that violate the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards […]

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How to Create a Millennial-Friendly Workplace

by Michael Haberman November 6, 2018

Tweet Today’s post was written by Laura Gayle, author of the blog Business Woman Guide. I am pleased that she has contributed to Omega HR Solutions. Check out her blog site for more interesting information.  Millennials are now the largest population in our workforce, having reached this milestone in 2016 when they surpassed the numbers of Gen X, […]

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Future Friday: What is your company’s megatrend?

by Michael Haberman November 2, 2018

Tweet In a post in 2016, Future Friday: Can you tell the difference between Fads, Micro Trends, Macro Trends, and Megatrends?, I wrote that “Megatrends are the long-lasting, years in developing, things that shift the world.” Just today I read that “Climate one of four ‘megatrends’ for Qantas.” In another article Glenn Gore, who is […]

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What to Do When a Candidate Doesn’t Pass a Background Check

by Michael Haberman November 1, 2018

Tweet For many of us at some point, we are going to be faced with having to give a candidate bad news about their background check results and candidacy with our company, in other words, we are rejecting you. Often we try to soft-sell that bad news by saying “We have a candidate who more […]

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From the archive: Halloween The Carnival of HR

by Michael Haberman October 31, 2018

Tweet I thought it was apropos to replay this Carnival of HR on Halloween. Enjoy these scary stories from last year. For the Halloween version of the Carnival of HR, the host, Mike VanDervort, asked us to submit “scary tales of HR.” Mike said: I suggested that people share a story about a scary HR […]

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From the archive Five mistakes: Incompetent employees are the business’ fault

by Michael Haberman October 29, 2018

Tweet I think this is always good to revisit. I am helping with a situation that is not all that uncommon. I am sure this has happened to you as well. A manager wants to let someone go. Naturally, there is no documentation. So I ask the question “Why?” “Because he is incompetent, he just […]

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