Guideline for Creating an Employee Benefits Program - Part 2: Benefits with Little to No Cost

Wednesday, January 28 at 08:45 AM
Category: Business Banking

The benefits you provide your employees must serve to attract, retain and motivate them. In addition to wages and other benefits that cost your company money, you can provide additional perks for your employees that cost little to no money.

Benefits that cost little or no money
The work environment and the personal satisfaction an employee gets are also important parts of the total compensation an employee receives.

  1. Make sure the work is meaningful. Even if it is boring and repetitive, make sure the employees know their efforts are needed and appreciated. No one likes to think they just spent eight hours doing something useless that no one cares about.
  2. Provide ways for employees to learn. This doesn't have to be paying for a class. Perhaps, there are tasks that can be switched with other employees. Such a switch will give two people the opportunity to learn something, and you will have some backup if someone is sick or quits. 
  3. Empower employees to make decisions. Most individuals will make the right decisions if they have an understanding of the issues and have some guidelines. Also, by letting employees make decisions, managers’ time is available for other tasks.
  4. Let employees know what is expected of them and how they are doing. Performance reviews are essential. Every employee should receive a formal review at least annually.
  5. Make it a point to recognize employees when they have done an especially good job. Bonuses are nice, but compliments are meaningful. Have you ever noticed plaques for "Employees of the Month" in many businesses? Some businesses even provide special parking spots for "Employees of the Month."
  6. Provide some flexibility. Everyone is busy and unexpected things do arise. If you can do a little extra to allow employees to tend to important personal matters. It may come back to you many times over when you need something extra from them.

Savings programs and direct deposit
Many employees are interested in accumulating funds and yet have a very difficult time actually saving money on a month-to-month basis. You may be able to help them without any cost. Most payroll services offer employees the ability to direct a portion of their wages into an account at their financial institution.  Be sure your employees are aware of this option and also direct deposit. These conveniences make it easier for employees to handle their finances and the company may save some of the costs of payroll processing.

Employee benefits are important. Creating a program doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Together with the work environment, your benefit program may be the difference between having an effective, steady work force or a group of dissatisfied employees you are constantly replacing.

Tags: Arvest Biz, Business Banking

Forell Joins Arvest Bank in Springfield, Mo.

Tuesday, January 27 at 06:25 AM
Category: Arvest Community News

We're excited to have Shelley Forell serving our customers in Springfield, Mo., as a mortgage lender with expansive real estate experience. 

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Arvest Bank is pleased to announce that Shelley Forell has been named mortgage lender at Arvest Bank’s West Republic Road branch in Springfield.

Forell has extensive experience in real estate and most recently worked as operations manager and director of sales and marketing for Sundance Valley Development for five years. 

“Shelley really brings an extensive knowledge of real estate to the Arvest team,” said Carla Green, mortgage loan manager of Arvest Bank in Springfield. “She also understands what customers are looking for when they are shopping for a mortgage and what they need after the sale is closed.” 

Forell attended Ozarks Technical Community College in Springfield, where she studied business and marketing. She is a licensed Missouri real estate broker and is listed with the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry.

She is a member of the Greater Springfield Board of Realtors, the Missouri and National Association of Realtors and has held developer memberships with the Home Builders Association. In January she will become an affiliate member of the Greater Springfield Board of Realtors.

She and her husband, Garry Forell, have three grown children and a grandson. The couple lives in Springfield where they enjoy gardening in raised beds and caring for their berries, orchard and hobby vineyard.

Tags: Associates, Missouri, Press Release, Springfield

Annual Personal Finance Calendar

Monday, January 26 at 11:15 AM
Category: Personal Finance

Managing your personal finances is an ongoing process that requires discipline. Most people are successful at making sure the bills get paid and often saving a little on a regular basis. However, managing your finances effectively is more than just handling the daily or monthly tasks. There are other financial events that occur throughout the year that you should address.   

Here is a monthly calendar that can serve as a guide to addressing some of these other issues.  

  • Establish your financial goals for the year and create a plan to accomplish them. If your goal is to save on a regular basis, establish an automatic savings plan to have a certain amount transferred from your checking account to your savings account each month.
  • Review your investments to ensure your asset allocation matches your time horizon and risk tolerance.
  • Prepare a personal balance sheet.
  • Start to get your information organized for filing your tax return.
  • Be sure your financial information is organized. A variety of paid and free programs are available to help you record and store important financial and family records and information.
  • Create or update an inventory of your belongings for insurance purposes. If you have a video inventory, be sure to store a copy in a secure location away from your home.
  • Review your insurance policies to ensure you have the coverage you need, including an umbrella liability policy. Be sure to check the deductibles.
  • Be sure your tax returns are filed. You can file for an extension if you need more time but that does not delay when you may need to pay the amount due.
  • Dispose of tax information that is no longer needed. The IRS only has three years to begin an audit unless you do not report all your income or file a fraudulent return. You generally only need information for three years from the due date of the return when you report the information. You will probably want to keep copies of your tax returns forever.
  • Check your credit report to guard your financial identity. You can get a free credit report through the website,* and several Arvest checking accounts come with Family IDProtect™, which offers credit reporting and monitoring.
  • Review your borrowing. If it is getting excessive, take steps to bring it under control.
  • Review your mortgage to determine if you should consider refinancing.
  • Review your investments to make sure your portfolio matches your goals.
  • Perform a mid-year checkup of your finances to ensure you are living up to your financial resolutions you set in January.
  • Use an online retirement calculator to determine if your savings plan will provide the funds needed for the retirement lifestyle you want.
  • Use some spare time to learn more about investing or handling your finances in general.  
  • There is still time to make changes that will have an impact on the current year.
  • As your children or grandchildren get ready to go back to school, consider how their college educations will be financed. Look into establishing custodial accounts like Coverdell Education Savings accounts or a Section 529 plan for them.
  • Review the steps you are taking to prevent identity theft and to protect your electronic records.
  • Review your estate plan. Recent changes to the estate tax laws have raised the threshold on what size estates are subject to tax. But estate planning is more than just taxes. Be sure you have other documents that are important – durable power of attorney, power of attorney for health care and living will. If you have moved, divorced or had new children or grandchildren, you should be sure your estate plan has been updated.
  • You should also make sure the beneficiaries on your retirement plans, IRAs and life insurance are still appropriate.
  • Review your charitable deductions for the year. Consider giving appreciated stock that you have held for more than a year if you wish to make a large contribution to your favorite cause.
  • If you are self-employed or have a small business, make sure your retirement plan is up to date.
  • Review the details of your employer’s retirement plan. If you participate in a 401(k) plan, be sure you are contributing enough to get the full employer match contribution. Review your investment allocation as well.
  • Review any insurance offered by your employer to make sure you have made choices appropriate for your situation.
  • Discuss your finances with your family. Keeping them informed can reduce stress and anxiety if something unfortunate happens.
  • Review your investment portfolio and your investment results for the year. If you have realized capital gains and unrealized capital losses, consider taking a loss to offset earlier gains. 
  • Spend a little time to create your financial resolutions for the next year and write them down.
The suggestions on this calendar may not match your personal financial schedule. However, it can serve as a reminder to make sure you address important issues.

Links marked with * go to a third-party site not operated or endorsed by Arvest Bank, an FDIC-insured institution.
Tags: Financial Education, IDProtect, Retirement, Savings

Cortez Joins Arvest Bank in Westville, Okla.

Friday, January 23 at 05:20 AM
Category: Arvest Community News

Since 2006 Francisco Cortez has been serving the Arvest community. We're excited to see his continued service in his new role as branch manager in Westville, Okla.

WESTVILLE, Okla. — Arvest Bank in Westville is pleased to announce that Francisco Cortez has accepted a promotion to branch manager.

Cortez has worked for Arvest Bank since 2006, starting as a teller in Fayetteville and then as a member of the assistant branch manager trainee program. After nine months in the program, he was named the assistant branch manager of the University branch in Fayetteville where he worked for two years, then was moved to the Township branch where he supervised 11 tellers for four years.

“Francisco has proven himself in every position he has occupied with Arvest Bank,” said Kurt Price, community bank president in Westville. “He understands how to provide the superior customer service for which Arvest Bank is known and demonstrates the ideals we want in a branch manager. We are excited to welcome him to Westville. 

A native of Bakersfield, Calif., Cortez moved with his family to Lincoln when he was 15, where he graduated from Lincoln High School.

He attends the St. Joseph Catholic Church in Fayetteville, Ark.

Tags: Associates, Oklahoma, Press Release

Fuel Economy in Cold Weather

Thursday, January 22 at 07:50 AM
Category: Personal Finance

Cold weather and winter driving conditions can reduce your fuel economy significantly. Fuel economy tests show that, in short-trip city driving, a conventional gasoline car's gas mileage is about 12 percent lower at 20°F than it would be at 77°F. It can drop as much as 22 percent for very short trips (three to four miles). The effect on hybrids is worse. Their fuel economy can drop about 31 percent to 34 percent under these cold conditions.

Why is winter fuel economy lower? Cold weather affects your vehicle in more ways than you might expect: 
  • Engine and transmission friction increases in cold temperatures due to cold engine oil and other drive-line fluids.
  • It takes longer for your engine to reach its most fuel-efficient temperature. This affects shorter trips more, since your car spends more of your trip at less-than-optimal temperatures.
  • Heated seats, window defrosters, and heater fans use additional power.
  • Warming up your vehicle before you start your trip lowers your fuel economy — idling gets 0 miles per gallon.
  • Colder air is denser, increasing aerodynamic drag on your vehicle, especially at highway speeds.
  • Tire pressure decreases in colder temperatures, increasing rolling resistance.
  • Winter grades of gasoline can have slightly less energy per gallon than summer blends.
  • Battery performance decreases in cold weather, making it harder for your alternator to keep your battery charged. This also affects the performance of the regenerative braking system on hybrids.
In severe winter weather, your mpg can drop even further. 
  • Icy or snow-covered roads decrease your tires' grip on the road, wasting energy.
  • Safe driving speeds on slick roads can be much lower than normal, further reducing fuel economy, especially at speeds below 30 to 40 mph.
  • Using four-wheel drive uses more fuel.
What can I do to improve my fuel economy in cold weather? You may not be able to completely mitigate cold weather's impact on your fuel economy, but you can do some simple things to help your gas mileage. 
  • Park your car in a warmer place, such as your garage, to increase the initial temperature of your engine and cabin.
  • Combine trips when possible so you drive less often with a cold engine.
  • Don't idle your car to warm it up. Most manufacturers recommend driving off gently after about 30 seconds. The engine will warm up faster being driven.
  • Don't use seat warmers or defrosters more than necessary.
  • Check your tire pressure regularly.
  • Use the type of oil recommended by your manufacturer for cold weather driving.
  • Remove accessories that increase wind resistance, like roof racks, when not in use.
  • If you drive a plug-in hybrid or electric vehicle, preheating the cabin while plugged into the charger can extend your vehicle's range.
  • If you drive a plug-in hybrid or electric vehicle, using the seat warmers instead of the cabin heater can save energy and extend range.
With some advance planning you can help mitigate some of the impact of lower fuel economy on your car this winter.

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