Is Your Board Equipped to Handle Your Budget?

Being on a nonprofit board can require you to wear many different hats and one of the most important aspects of being on a board is learning the budget approval process. Some board members come equipped with a business background—comfortable dealing with budgets and numbers. On the other hand, some may not have the same appreciation or knowledge base when it comes to understanding the financials.

Since each nonprofit organization has a different approach when it comes to handling their budget, there can be some confusion or differences of opinion amongst board members. Educating your board on the proper key terms, types of budgets and the different approaches, is key to ensuring the best decisions are being made on behalf of the organization.   

Here are a few key terms to understand when learning the basics of a budget and some specific terms used when discussing nonprofit budgets:

  1. Cash basis: A method of recording transactions for both revenue and expenses only when the corresponding cash is received or payments are made.
  2. Accural basis: Under the accrual basis of accounting, revenues are reported on the income statement when they are earned. 
  3. Income-based budget: This budget requires a consistent income based around a particular period.
  4. Zero-based budget: A method of budgeting in which all expenses must be justified for each new period.
  5. Capital expenditures: Money that is spent by a business or organization on acquiring or maintaining fixed assets (i.e. land, buildings and equipment).
  6. Depreciation: A reduction in the value of an asset overtime—due to wear and tear.
  7. Fixed costs: A range of different types of business costs, such as rent, that are constant.
  8. Variable costs: A cost that can vary in relation to changes in the volume of activity.

These terms will help your board increase its financial literacy by reducing the mystery of nonprofit budgets, financial reports and auditing. Since a budget plays such a vital role in a nonprofit’s ongoing financial viability, it’s important your board members can fully understand and approve such budgets.

HR Question: Employer Requirements Surrounding OSHA Regulations

Question: Which employers are required to maintain records of illnesses and injuries under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) recordkeeping and reporting regulations?

Answer: Employers that had more than ten employees at any time during the last calendar year are generally required to prepare and maintain records of serious occupational injuries and illnesses using the OSHA 300 Log. OSHA provides a partial exemption from the recordkeeping requirements for employers who had ten or fewer employees at all times during the previous calendar year and employers in certain low-hazard industries.

To determine if your company is required to prepare and maintain OSHA records, you will need to find your industry’s North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code number using one of these methods:

Once you have identified your industry’s NAICS code, you can use the Partially Exempt Industries Table to determine if your industry is exempt from the recordkeeping rule.

Important: States with OSHA-approved plans may require employers to keep records for the state, even if employers are within an industry that is exempted from doing so under OSHA regulations.

Unless your facility is municipal, state, or federally-owned, it is subject to OSHA regulations as long as it has employees. Having non-profit status or a small number of employees does not exempt a business from OSHA compliance

Q&A provided by ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace for nonprofit HR teams. Have HR questions? Sign your nonprofit up for a free 30-day trial here.

Four Benefits of Human Resources Calling the Shots

One of the many benefits that come with having a designated person or team to handle all Human Resources related issues, is that it allows the organization to operate at its full potential—especially nonprofits. Due to the inherent nature and structure of nonprofits, they can run into challenges when it comes to certain HR tasks and if not handled correctly, the fulfillment of their mission might be hindered.

Nonprofit organizations primary focus is on the communities they serve and the causes they support. When you have an HR professional on your team, it eliminates the burden of you having to worry about whether or not your nonprofit is covered regarding the logistics of legal issues, management of compliance, etc., allowing you to focus on what matters most—your mission.

Along with managing the day-to-day legal and compliance issues that may arise, HR provides many additional benefits as well. Here are four ways HR can enhance talent management, employee retention and a work-life balance.

  1. Finding the Right Employee: Hiring the right employee enhances your work culture, encourages high employee morale, positive thinking, future planning, and accomplishing professional goals. It also ensures that you are making the most of the time and energy being invested in a new employee and making sure, they are a good fit for the work culture.
  2. Onboarding is a Must: Starting a new job is exciting, however, the unknown can be quite nerve racking. An onboarding process offers a more hands on approach then just handing a new employee an employee handbook and sending them on their way. This should be a time when an employee can ask one off questions and an HR professional can offer more information.
  3. Creating a Career Plan: Offering your employees an opportunity to plan a strategy for how they want to move forward in their professional life is a great way to learn more about your staff. It’s a way to show your employees that you care and you want to see them succeed. The more you invest in your employees, the more likely they will do good work for your organization.
  4. Employee Performance Reviews: While performance review methods and approaches can vary from organization to organization, universal principles about how to talk with an employee about his or her performance exist. It is important that the employee knows exactly what’s to be expected of his or her performance. These periodic discussions about performance need to focus on the significant portions of the employee’s job.

[Webinar Recording] Nonprofit Recruitment and Retention Best Practices

With the national unemployment rate steadily declining, and a substantial increase in expectations for competitive benefits and salaries, nonprofits are definitely feeling the squeeze—especially when competing against for-profit organizations for key staff members.

How can we overcome these challenges when funding support is steady at best, and often decreasing?

 

This webinar will teach you how to:

  • Attract stronger candidates and enhance their loyalty to your nonprofit
  • Establish a path to compensation growth for valued front-line staff members
  • Gain board support for increased compensation and investment in employee development

​​​​​Join Kathy Keeley, Executive Vice President, Programs and Senior Consultant at the Georgia Center for Nonprofits, to develop a framework for effective recruitment and retention strategies in the current workforce environment.

Want access to more learning opportunities, tips and legal updates just for nonprofits, sign up for our monthly eNews today!

UST Launches New Website to Unveil New Branding & Nonprofit Programs

In an Effort to Provide More Robust and Readily Accessible HR and Unemployment Resources to the Nonprofit Sector, UST Launches a New Website that Acts as a One-Stop-Shop for Workforce Solutions.

Santa Barbara, CA (May 4, 2018) – The Unemployment Services Trust (UST), a program dedicated to helping nonprofits ensure compliance and protect assets, today announces the launch of their NEW website: www.chooseust.org.

For 35 years, UST has helped nonprofit employers to better manage their unemployment funding, maintain HR compliance and maximize employee bandwidth. WIth UST's recent revamp of the UST Support program, as well as the latest addition of UST's new insurance program, UST Secure, UST decided to give their webiste a fresh look and feel to mimic their evolving nonprofit services.

“We hope this enhanced website can serve as a one-stop-shop for nonprofit organizations nationwide—helping them to streamline day-to-day operations and stay on top of the latest best practices,” says Donna Groh, Executive Director of UST.

This new website will provide nonprofits the ability to readily navigate the many UST resources and tools that can help them reduce overhead costs, manage their claims and access HR & outplacement tools.

To determine which UST programs will best suit your needs, please submit a free Cost Analysis form today. (Use Priority Code "2018PR-LAUNCH" to expedite your request).

Meet UST(s) Mondays - Jenny

Having recently joined UST as a Customer Service Representative, Jenny is excited to now be working with nonprofit organizations. As for volunteer work, she’s a sucker for animals and spends as much time as possible supporting the cause during her downtime.

Outside of work, Jenny enjoys spending time with her boyfriend and her fur baby, Diego. They often venture out on hikes at the beach or in the hills and she and her boyfriend fancy exploring new restaurants and breweries when time allows. Jenny’s a huge baseball fan, the San Francisco Giants are her team of choice and she loves the fun rivalry sparred in a city of Dodger fans that just happen to include her boyfriend – that can make for some interesting dinner conversation. She also enjoys cooking and hitting the farmers market. She even worked as a baker/chef in a delicatessen for some time.

She’s a self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie and her enthusiasm for adventure has led her on some pretty impressive journeys. Just to name a few, she’s gone skydiving in Australia from 16,000 feet, repelled down mountains, did a 90-mile cattle drive on horseback mustering 200 head of cattle in Australia for two weeks straight, and rode Horseback through the Loire Valley in France that led to her and her family being in an Absolut Vodka ad – we have a celebrity in house. Not surprisingly, she has an extensive list of places she’d like to visit that include Greece, New Zealand and Italy. She’s already been to Australia three times and actually hopes to one day live there.

Jenny seems like an extremely busy person but she finds her Zen on the beach listening to the waves while reflecting on the things going on in her life. Something we should all get in the habit of doing.

Are you an adventurous soul?  Share your stories with Jenny @USTTrust with the hashtag #MeetUSTMondays!

Creating a Cash Flow Business Model for Your Nonprofit

Using a business model has grown to become an essential tool when making any business or financial decisions within the nonprofit sector. When incorporating a new business model, a few key components should be discussed to ensure the business model will not only provide financial stability but also further the growth of operations within your organization. Along with understanding the financial side of a new business model, it is important to factor in the daily tasks that occur in a business, including cash flow—money being transferred in and out of an organization. 

Cash flow can be simply defined as a movement of money within the organization’s accounts. It is where the numbers and financial reports show how the money has moved and how it’s been accounted for. When managing cash flow, the question you will be asked repeatedly is “When?” —when do you pay your staff, when will you be receiving a grant payment or  when is a particular bill due. And while all nonprofit business models are different in one way or another, they all rely on the “when” with the movement of money. 

When creating a nonprofit business model, there are two main components to factor in—what kinds of programs and services does your nonprofit offer to the community and most importantly, how are they funded. Each of these components require the understanding of organizational cash flow in order to have effective financial planning. To further understand what kinds of programs and services a particular organization offers, you would look at where and how money is being spent.

When looking at how an organization is funded, this can provide a better understanding of what’s to come in terms of cash coming into the business. If by chance the cash flow doesn’t quite match up with the services offered, this could be further explained by how the organization receives its funding. Each type of income varies based on certain implications and challenges for cash flow, so if a business model is built primarily around one type of funding, this will have to be factored into the structure of the business model.

Creating a smart and strategic business model requires you to be informed and collaborative in cash flow management. This will ensure that your nonprofit’s long-term strategy isn’t hindered by obstacles that could have been avoided. 

Are Your Health and Wellness Programs Making the Cut?

It’s no secret that people are more health conscious today than ever before. And over the last few years, business owners have gotten on board with a massive influx of corporate wellness programs being offered in the workplace. We’re talking everything from stability balls and standing desks to weight loss programs and opportunities to work from home.

It seems now, that employers are constantly looking for new ways to kick their corporate wellness programs up a notch. And the trends are getting more and more creative with companies expanding the definition of wellness through offerings that are much broader - improving the overall quality of their employees’ lives.

Some things are as easy as implementing standing desks as the standard – the kind you can move up or down so employees aren’t forced to do one activity or the other all day. While the debate continues over the health benefits, no one can argue that having the option to change your form throughout the day helps with muscle stiffness, brain fog and calorie expenditure.

Opportunities to work from home have rapidly become a hot trend but some organizations are still reluctant to let go of that much visibility. For many, it works like a well-oiled machine but for others, it ends up being one issue after another. You really have to take the time to evaluate your staff to see whether or not, they can handle that much responsibility – it’s definitely not for everyone but certainly worth doing the research.

At the top of the corporate wellness trends right now is “wellness technology”. Some companies are looking for ways to put all of that valuable information gathered by all those fitness gadgets to work. By working to keep corporate wellness offerings fresh, some employers are using Chatbots to help keep employees on track with their fitness goals.

Then there are those forward thinking companies who are looking to bring on the latest and greatest wellness programs for their employees. For example, one organization has an in-house masseuse available to their employees while another has a built-in office sauna. Others are subsidizing DNA kits, creating nap rooms, implementing vending machines with healthy snack options or offering an on-site Happy Hour at the end of the day.

It goes without saying that the possibilities are endless. Since workplace stress has become the biggest epidemic to hit corporate America in recent years—it is worth addressing internally through some form of wellness program that will help employees regain focus and energy. When employees don’t know how to manage their stress, not only is their work affected but so are the people around them. And the benefits of making your employees’ well-being a priority are endless – it can help with retention, reduce absenteeism and workers’ compensation claims, increase productivity as well as save your organization thousands in the long run.

Turn the Negativity Around

Some people just exude negativity. They gripe about anything and everything. Rarely do they take responsibility and more times than not, they see themselves as the victim. Through some combination of nature and nurture, negativity is their default response but that negative energy can be detrimental in the workplace.

If you manage people, you will likely encounter a situation in which you will have to manage a negative employee. Some managers have the innate ability to handle difficult situations but your team may lack the skill and confidence required to communicate effectively with someone who is negative and can be easily defensive which can cause conflict.

While communicating with these individuals about their behavior can be uncomfortable, doing so can help to eliminate the impact on other workers and this should be priority number one. It’s imperative to address the issue sooner than later to also avoid the spread of one person’s negative attitude to the rest of the group — ultimately affecting effectiveness and productivity. The last thing you want is to have team moral take a hit.  

Using specific examples of behavior will help the employee better understand where you are coming from and enable them to make some specific changes. You don’t want to lecture your employee but you do want to make sure you provide enough context to ensure they understand what your concerns are and what expectations you have going forward.  Also, encourage them to speak up as issues arise so things don’t escalate in the future. Taking an interest in their well-being by checking in periodically can also strengthen their sense of purpose and belonging. If you simply criticize their approach and don’t acknowledge their concerns, they will end up feeling like their feedback was unwelcomed and ultimately trigger frustration and more negativity.

Don’t take anything said personally and avoid becoming defensive. Keep in mind that most people don’t like constructive feedback even when given with the best intent. Anything can trigger a defensive response so practice what you will say and how – it could save you a lot of headache. A little compassion goes along way – it shows the employee you are interested and concerned about them as a person. There may be some things you can’t help with that perhaps have nothing to do with work but you can listen and sometimes that is all one needs.

Nothing is more challenging than trying to get negative people to respond more positively. However, dealing with issues when they arise and being clear on what those issues are while following through with a plan that addresses them can go a long way. It’s important to acknowledge the value of their perspective and involvement when they communicate effectively.

HR Question: Workplace Assaults and Workers' Compensation

Question: While working, an employee assaulted his coworker in our California workplace. May the injured employee pursue a workers’ compensation claim?

Answer: Yes. An employee who is assaulted at work by a coworker may elect to file a workers’ compensation claim. However, he or she may also file an internal complaint, report the assault to the police, or pursue a civil lawsuit. Whether the workers’ compensation claim (or any other claim) will be successful depends upon the facts. For example, was the injured employee the initial physical aggressor? According to California Law, at Cal. Labor Code § 3600(a)(7), employers are not liable under the state’s workers’ compensation law for an injury that arises out of an altercation in which the injured employee is the initial physical aggressor.

Regardless, after an injury occurred in the workplace, California employers must:

  • Provide a workers' compensation claim form to the claimant within one working day after a work-related injury or illness is reported.
  • Return a completed copy of the claim form to the claimant within one working day of receipt.
  • Forward the claim form, along with the employer's report of occupational injury or illness, to the claims administrator within one working day of receipt.
  • Within one day of receiving the claim, authorize up to $10,000 in appropriate medical treatment.
  • Provide transitional work (light duty) whenever appropriate.
  • Give notice of workers’ compensation eligibility within one working day of the crime (assault) that happened at work.

It is not for the employer to determine whether the injury will be covered under its workers’ compensation insurance. Rather, the claims administrator will determine whether the injury is covered.

Another issue worth mentioning is that California employers are required to abide by a duty of care in the workplace. According to Cal. Labor Code § 6401, “[e]very employer shall furnish and use safety devices and safeguards, and shall adopt and use practices, means, methods, operations, and processes which are reasonably adequate to render such employment and place of employment safe and healthful. Every employer shall do every other thing reasonably necessary to protect the life, safety, and health of employees.” Violations of this duty incur significant monetary damages.

Read more about workers’ compensation and the process on the State of California, Department of Industrial Relations’ website. Read more about workplace assaults and Cal/OSHA Guidelines for Workplace Security.

Q&A provided by ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace for nonprofit HR teams. Have HR questions? Sign your nonprofit up for a free 30-day trial here.

[Webinar Recording] Getting the Most out of Exit Interviews

Exit interviews can be an extremely effective tool when done properly. By gathering meaningful information from a departing employee about their experiences with your organization, you can make improvements that could increase retention.  

 

Presented by Glassdoor and hosted by Christopher Lee, this on-demand webinar highlights the proper execution of exit interviews and their impact on the business. Christopher is the HR Manager for Epsilon with more than 10 years of experience helping businesses to meet their goals through employee relations, performance management and organizational development.

 

You’ll learn why the exit interview is so important, not only for the organization but also for the exiting employee, current personnel and future staff.

Watch the webinar recording today!    

Want access to more learning opportunities, tips and legal updates just for nonprofits, sign up for our monthly eNews today!

HR Question: Electronic Summary Plan Descriptions

Question: Can we provide summary plan descriptions (SPDs) electronically?

Answer: Yes. However, just sending them is not enough to meet ERISA requirements; you must ensure the intended recipients are actually getting them.

Specifically, ERISA requires SPDs to be furnished using “measures reasonably calculated to ensure actual receipt of the material” via “methods likely to result in full distribution.” Electronic delivery is one way to meet this requirement.

Any electronically delivered documents must be “prepared and furnished in a manner consistent with applicable style, format, and content requirements.” Therefore, it is a good idea to test the electronic document and make sure formatting and style are correct.

Unlike first class mail or hand-delivery options, electronic delivery does not work the same for all recipients. Instead compliance differs depending on whether the recipients:

  • Can access the SPD through the employer’s electronic information system (such as email or intranet) located where they are reasonably expected to perform duties: Members in this group must use the employer’s computer system as an integral part of those duties. This covers employees working from home or who are traveling as well.
  • Cannot access the SPD through employer’s electronic information system in their workspace (access to a kiosk in a workplace common area is not sufficient). This may include employees as well as non-employees such as COBRA participants, retirees, terminated participants with vested benefits, beneficiaries, and alternate payees: Members of this group must “affirmatively consent” to receive the documents electronically, provide an electronic address, and “reasonably demonstrate” their ability to access documents in electronic form.

Both groups of recipients must be notified of their rights to receive paper copies of the documents (at no charge), and reasonable and appropriate steps must be taken to safeguard confidentiality of personal information related to accounts and benefits. A best practice is for employers to ensure return-receipt or notice of undelivered mail features are enabled. Employers may conduct periodic reviews or surveys to confirm receipt as well.

Just emailing the documents or posting them on the company’s intranet or benefit administration portal is not enough. Each time an electronic document is furnished, a notice (electronic or paper) must be provided to each recipient describing the significance of the document.

Q&A provided by ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace for nonprofit HR teams. Have HR questions? Sign your nonprofit up for a free 30-day trial here.

Recruiting Trends in 2018

There are some hot trends in recruiting this year that HR professionals should be aware of as they will impact how you hire in the years to come. LinkedIn recently released its Global Recruiting Trends Report 2018 which details survey results of more than 9,000 recruiters and hiring managers from 39 countries – identifying diversity, new interview techniques, data analytics and artificial intelligence as being the most impactful trends.

Companies across the country have found incredible ways to bring diversity into the workplace by using such things as inclusive language to target diverse groups, showcasing diversity in recruitment marketing and utilizing staff member’s stories and experiences in the recruiting and hiring process.

Employers need to take a hard look the organizational culture and if necessary, work on building an inclusive one. Ensuring that employees feel accepted, included and engaged because even the most diverse companies lose employees due to the lack of diversity, inclusion and belonging. LinkedIn found that more than half of the companies surveyed already embrace recruiting for diversity – tackling head-on. They also found that the top reasons for focusing on diversity were to improve company culture and performance and to better represent customers.

Gender continues to be the main topic in diversity but age and disabled workers or veterans, are also high on the list of diverse candidate opportunities. “When different perspectives are recognized and supported, advocated, and most importantly, expected, I think it creates a more inclusive environment,” said Steve Pemberton, Former Chief Diversity Officer at Walgreens. “When you are recognized for bringing a different perspective, it leads to higher degrees of engagement.”

While the traditional interview is still wildly popular and the industry standard, it fails to provide a true assessment of the job candidate – under cutting the impact of more useful information and all too often resulting in a decision based only on a person’s looks and personality.

Forward-looking companies are exploring other means of qualifying candidates that include soft skills assessments (measuring traits like teamwork), job auditions (offering an opportunity to perform real on the job tasks), meeting in casual settings (providing an entirely different view of the candidate), virtual reality assessments (immersing candidates in simulated 3-D environments to test skills) and video interviews (allowing the ability to view a larger pool of candidates in less time). And other companies are taking an entirely different approach and hiring based on potential, not experience.

Collecting data is becoming more and more prevalent in today’s ever changing workplace. It can help organizations increase retention, evaluate skills gaps, build better offers and so much more. It provides the opportunity to better understand the reasons behind the questions we couldn’t before evaluate – filling in many recruiting gaps. Putting quality data to work for you can give your organization an edge above the rest.

Artificial Intelligence is a machine that is able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence. They can understand verbal commands, distinguish pictures, drive cars and play video games better than we do. These software programs can move job candidates through the hiring process in far less time than it would take us to and removes human bias in the process. It not only saves time and money but also delivers the best candidate matches. Actual people are still needed to persuade and negotiate but the more you use technology, the more time you have to focus on building relationships.

Allow the data and AI to work for you while you spend more time investing in the personal functions of your job. If you don’t embrace change now, it’ll run you down and leave you behind in the years to come.

How Employee Recognition increases Retention

Most nonprofit leaders recognize that employee retention can be a challenge and with limited resources, can lead to a lack of employee recognition. Nonprofit employees tend to have a passion for their organization’s mission—a sense of pride in their work and view their current employment as a career, not just as a job. So how do nonprofit organizations go about best supporting their employee’s goals and achievements?

Celebrating an employee’s career achievements by offering service awards is an effective strategy on multiple levels. Here are a few ways your organization can continue acknowledging your employees on a consistent basis:

1. Acknowledging reliability: While it can seem like a huge undertaking to implement a career achievement program, organizations that offer such programs are able to keep employees an average of two years longer than organizations that don’t. If the program proves to be effective, employees plan to stay at their current employer for an additional two years on top of that.

2. Reward accomplished career goals: According TLNT’s research, “81% of employees feel career celebrations help them feel appreciated for their work and found that 19% more employees strongly felt their current company cared about employees. Also, 18% more employees strongly felt they fit in and belonged at their current company if the company offered service awards.”

3. Encourage employee & culture connection: Recognizing an employee’s career milestone can offer an opportunity to connect back to the foundation of the organization. This can help employees feel that they are making an impact and doing their part to benefit the organization as a whole.

The benefits of a career achievement program will not only bring focus to your employees and their accomplishments, it will increase the overall morale of the organization and make your nonprofit a desired place to work at for future employees.

Department of Labor Opinion Letters

The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) had issued guidance based on inquiries from businesses about wage and hour issues that arise in the workplace through the distribution of opinion letters for five decades. In 2010, the Obama Wage and Hour Division decided to cease issuance of these letters and alternatively, decided to publish “Administrator Interpretations” of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) topics in its place.

Last year, the Trump administration announced that it would resume issuing opinion letters and began following through on its promise earlier this year when the DOL reissued 17 opinion letters previously withdrawn by the Obama Administration. Those letters addressed a wide range of topics from discretionary bonuses and calculation of salary deductions to administrative exemption qualifications.

Opinion letters are meant to guide employers and employees with respect to both the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) laws by providing a better understanding of what is entailed. As noted on the DOL website regarding Rulings and Interpretations, “As part of the administration of the FLSA and the FMLA, interested parties may seek and officials of the Wage and Hour Division may provide official written explanations of what the FLSA or the FMLA requires in fact-specific situations.”

If you have a question about wage and hour laws that you can’t find answers to, requesting an opinion letter might be the way to go. It is important to remember that opinion letters are not binding but are rather informal guidance provided by the Department of Labor. A positive response can help an employer defend a policy in court while a negative response can get an employer to quickly change bad policies.

While the DOL can’t answer all employer inquiries, any clarity they can provide to employers in areas that are frequently unclear or confusing can be helpful—the hope is that the DOL continues to distribute these letters going forward.

U.S. Economy Shows Promise with Employment Growth

Employers added 313,000 jobs in February and the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.1 percent making the number of people unemployed the same at 6.7 million.

In February, the number of long-term unemployed was essentially unchanged at 1.4 million which  accounts for 20.7 percent of people that are currently unemployed. Overall, the number of long-term unemployed has been down by 369,000 for 2018. With the civilian labor force rising to 806,000, the labor force participation rate also increased by 0.3 percentage point to 60.4 percent in February.

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons—referred to as involuntary part-time workers was changed slightly at 5.2 million. Also, these individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were only working part time due to their hours being cut or not being able to find jobs that offer full-time employment. In addition, the 1.6 million people that were marginally attached to the labor force only changed slightly compared to the year prior. With these individuals not being part of the labor force, they had either been available for work or looking for employment for the past 12 months.

The U.S. economy added over 50,000 jobs in construction, retail trade, professional and business services while Manufacturing increased by 31,000 jobs. Major industries like, wholesale trade, leisure and hospitality, and government showed little change over the course of the month. In February, average hourly earnings rose by 4 cents to $26.75, following a 7-cent gain in January. Over the year, average hourly earnings have increased by 68 cents/2.6 percent. The average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 6 cents to $22.40 in February.

This month’s job report highlights a winning combination of a large increase in job creation and a growing workforce revealing strength in our economy. In addition, the modest wage growth defused concerns that competition for workers was driving up salaries and igniting inflation.

[On-Demand Webinar] ACA Fines Are Here: What You Need to Know Now

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has begun its efforts to collect on Affordable Care Act (ACA) penalties by issuing Letter 226J to non-compliant businesses. There’s a chance you may have already received one of these letters.

With only 30 days to dispute the letter, having an action plan in place and ready to go is critical in order to protect your organization from costly penalties that could soar into millions of dollars.

Presented by Equifax, the market leader in ACA management, this on-demand webinar reveals best practices for responding to Letter 226J as well as when and how to submit a dispute. You’ll also gain a better understanding of why you received Letter 226J and how the IRS assessment was calculated.

Ensure your nonprofit is equipped with a plan should IRS Letter 226J arrive in your mailbox and watch the on-demand recording today!

This webinar series is part of UST’s efforts to educate the nonprofit sector. For more learning opportunities, tips and legal updates just for nonprofits, sign up for our monthly e-News today!

Transforming Philanthropy - A Spotlight on GrantAdvisor

When looking to apply for future grants, GrantAdvisor can serve as a beneficial nonprofit resource for your organization. GrantAdvisor is an online service that allows for open communication between nonprofits and grantmakers by collecting authentic, real-time reviews and comments on the experiences grantseekers’ have when working with funders. Created to encourage a more productive philanthropy amongst grantseekers and foundations.

This service is designed to grant applicants, grantees, and others to share their first-hand experiences working with funders and for funders to respond on the record. With all feedback collected and shared anonymously, GrandAdvisor hopes this will encourage grantees to be transparent.  Once 5 reviews have been collected for a particular funder, the data will be shared publicly. This provides an opportunity for the foundation to respond to comments and to see how they are perceived in their field—not only as grantmakers but also as leaders and influencers. With this service, GrandAdvisor hopes to improve the relationships between grantmakers and grantees while strengthening the fields the funders work in.

GrantAdvisor is an initiative brought together by its’ project partners, Jan Masaoka, CEO of California Association of Nonprofits, Perla Ni, CEO of GreatNonprofits and John Pratt, Executive Director of Minnesota Council of Nonprofits. “One of the most important differences between nonprofit organizations, businesses and governments is the way they receive their funds,” said John Pratt. “The goal of GrantAdvisor.org is to elevate the reliability and depth of this external grant information through crowd sourcing, pattern recognition and public peer exchange to make the whole process clearer and more transparent.”

With their launch in June 2017, GrantAdvisor is currently available in California and Minnesota—new locations and partnerships are scheduled to be announced this year. We look forward to seeing wonderful things happen for this up and coming organization! To learn more about GrantAdvisor visit https://grantadvisor.org/

Better Together – A Partner Spotlight on the Center for Non-Profits

A UST partner since 1990, the Center for Non-Profits has been providing advocacy, resources and training to New Jersey nonprofit organizations since 1982 and is the only umbrella organization for all charities in the state.

Center for Non-Profit members receive a vast variety of services, resources and support that include:

  • Advocacy – Educating state leaders, working closely with the media and encouraging New Jersey charitable organizations to advocate for themselves are top priorities for the Center but just part of what they do.
  • Education – Offering a one-stop shop of resources that include nonprofit management, compliance, governance and advocacy are just the tip of the ice berg when it comes to how the Center works to educate all charitable organizations in the state. They also offer ongoing webinars and workshops that include lobbying, cross-sector collaboration, planned giving strategies and much, much more.
  • Member Benefits – Cost saving resources for grant seeking, volunteer insurance, non-profit education, free job postings and unemployment rates plus opportunities for members to network and connect with other state nonprofits dealing with the same issues.

One the of the Centers partners in representing grant makers, Nina Stack, President of the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers, said it best - “For those of us who work in, work for, donate to and are served by nonprofit organizations in New Jersey, we are fortunate to have the Center for Non-Profits watching our backs and protecting our independence.”

For 35 years, the Center for Non-Profits has been New Jersey’s champion and “go-to” resource for and about the non-profit community.  They provide non-profits with expert guidance on management and compliance issues, professional educational opportunities through trainings and webinars, inspiration and dialogue through the state’s largest annual non-profit conference, while advocating for a strong non-profit community to leaders in government, business, philanthropy and in non-profits.  Members are eligible for additional benefits and special discounts. To learn more about the Center for Non-Profits visit http://www.njnonprofits.org/.

HR Question: Hiring Gender Specific For Home Care

Question: Can we advertise for a specific gender for home health aide positions? (Some of our clients feel very strongly about having a same sex aide help them with their bathing and changing needs).

Answer: This question has been reviewed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as it relates to employment discrimination, particularly in service and health-related professions. And while the courts have consistently ruled that employers in personal service firms cannot discriminate based on "client preference" relating to race or national origin, this issue of gender preference has been open to more interpretation. Here's why:

While Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race (color), sex, religion and national origin, it does allow an employer to have hiring preferences based upon "bona fide occupational qualifications" (BFOQs).

Some employers have taken these BFOQs to mean that if a client or patient demands not to be taken care of by someone outside of the patient's race or nationality, then the employer could use the client's demand as a BFOQ. The EEOC and the courts have expressly said that race can never be a BFOQ and that there are very few instances where national origin could be a BFOQ (and those instances are generally around language barriers, not cultural or religious ones).

However, in the case of sex/gender, the courts have ruled that it is unlawful gender discrimination in employment for a healthcare employer to have a policy saying that female patients get only female caregivers while male patients may be assigned either male or female caregivers. However, a health care employer can honor a specific request from a patient for a same-sex caregiver, without violating the laws against discrimination, but only if the care to be given involves issues of intimate personal privacy, such as a patient's preference not to have an opposite-sex caregiver assisting with toileting or cleansing the patient's body. The courts have gone on to say, however, that there must be a request from the patient for a same-sex caregiver, rather than a blanket policy excluding opposite sex caregivers. The blanket policy initiated by the employer could lead to legitimate charges of gender discrimination.

We would encourage you to review the types of work your employees are doing for your clients and document the instances of intimate personal care where the client has requested an aide of a certain gender. Do not institute a blanket policy where female clients are attended by female aides and male clients by male aides. Review each situation on a case-by-case basis to ensure that there is no unlawful discrimination or discriminatory intent.

Q&A provided by ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace for nonprofit HR teams. Have HR questions? Sign your nonprofit up for a free 30-day trial here.

Financially Responsible vs. Frugal Tendencies

As a nonprofit organization, working with a limited budget is a common and familiar task.  Any one organization can attest to the financial responsibilities and limitations that come with managing a budget for a nonprofit. In addition, monitoring spending in accordance with strict grant limitations can be challenging and may limit any new business ventures. Instead of pinching pennies, make sure you are reaching your financial goals by monitoring money and allocating funds for future business opportunities that could help your nonprofit flourish.

Most nonprofit organizations are familiar with providing products and services to their membership and or the community with minimal funding. When relying on inconsistent funding sources such as grants, donations, and membership fees, there may be times when money is tight and your organization has to question every expenditure in an effort to make every dollar count. While there is something to be said for being frugal, you also have the ability to stretch your dollars and make the most of every penny your organization spends.

Here are a few things to keep in mind while allocating your budget towards future business objectives:

  • Clearly define needs vs. wants - With the continual integration of all things digital, it is important to make sure that your technology is efficient enough that each employee is able to do their job and reach their best potential.  On the other hand, assuming that each employee needs a third monitor may not be a necessary expense.
  • Purchasing power requires education - People with purchasing power shouldn’t be left to wonder what they can and can’t spend money on. If your staff is unsure and constantly asking for approval before purchasing anything, consider reevaluating your training procedures. Staff members that need to make purchases should be aware of their limitations.
  • Overhead shouldn’t dictate everything - When dealing with overhead, you shouldn’t have to spend your time minimizing costs to stay on your donors good side. To prevent this habit, it is helpful to demonstrate the necessity behind your purchases while being transparent with your donors.

When it comes to being financially responsible, it can vary based on the budget of your organization and the willingness to spend money on new business ventures. It all comes back to having a better insight into your finances and operations, which can help align financial activities with your strategic goals—essentially making your money work harder.

Simple Tricks to Help With Workplace Organization

Are you frequently overwhelmed by your workload and flustered by the chaos that your desk has turned out? You’re not alone. Many of us feel buried every now and then – it’s  your busiest time of year, there’s new mail, invoices and or reports that end up on your desk every day and before you know it your desk looks like a tornado swept through it. The problem isn’t so much that your desk is messy but that important stuff gets lost. Beyond efficiency, the strain of disorganization can add unnecessary stress to your work day and cause mental exhaustion.

Reason dictates that those who are unorganized cannot be as efficient or as productive as those who are. There are some however, that know exactly where everything is. Some people may feel that a cluttered desk makes they appear busier while others feel a clean desk shows how efficient they are at getting the work done. Either way, the key is to work in a manner that allows you to be the most effective.

Whether you want a white glove worthy desk or just to bring some order to your work area, utilizing these simple tricks will get you on track in no time at all.

  1. Prioritize your workload every morning. Create a to-do list and keep track of your projects on a week to week basis – this can go a long way in helping to stay focused on what’s most important. There are also many computer programs that allow you to set reminders that can be used in lieu of a spreadsheet.
  2. Scan your overnight emails first. Reply to emails that can be handled quickly. Then, delete those irrelevant messages and handle the remaining in order of importance. This provides an immediate sense of accomplishment and prepares you to move into your workday with some structure.
  3. Adopt the one-touch rule. One surefire way to prevent desk clutter is to deal with every piece of paper as it comes across your desk. Trash it, act on it, file it or – if you really must – place it in your inbox until you have time to deal with it.
  4. Get an inbox and look at it every day. Having a place to leave pending items serves as an excellent reminder to get the task done.
  5. Cut back on saving hard copies of everything. Nowadays, most businesses back up all business related files onto a company server at the end of every day. This makes savings those hard copies unnecessary unless there’s a legitimate reason to do so.
  6. Straighten up your desk every night before leaving the office. By spending just a few minutes at the end of your day ensuring everything is in its place, you will alleviate any early morning stress when arriving to work. Organization is best done regularly versus waiting until it’s piled up so high, it will take hours to sort through.
  7. Create a routine. Make it a habit to cover these steps every day and you will find yourself much more efficient than you could have imagined. It will allow for more time spent on the things that really matter. A routine ensures that each and every day you take consistent steps to rid yourself of mental and physical clutter.

If you are like most of us, you are going to spend the majority of your day at work. It’s essential to your organization and sanity to make your work space work for you so that it maximizes your efficiency.

Five Health Benefits of Technology in the Workplace

In the nonprofit sector, technology has provided many advances and fine-tuned processes for communication, workflows and overall functionality in the workplace environment. It has also created more of an awareness and comradery around health and wellness. Having a workplace wellness plan is an effective way to engage and increase productivity at any nonprofit organization. Workplace wellness can include health-promoting activities or certain policies implemented to encourage healthy behaviors among employees. The ultimate goal of this plan is to provide employees with opportunities for better long-term health, especially in the face of rising chronic diseases.

Wearable gadgets such as the Fitbit or the Apple Watch can help monitor stress levels and heart rates. They can also aid in implementing fitness plans, making them an invaluable tool in encouraging workplace health. With most individuals already having access to smartphones, this will allow for easy accessibility to certain health and wellness apps.

Here are five ways technology can improve workplace wellness and health.

1)  Less sick days. The use of fitness and health-related apps and/or wearable gadgets can decrease employee absence due to health concerns, as well as encourage a better work-life balance.

2) Nonprofit savings. Encouraging workplace health and fitness with the use of technology can help decrease employer healthcare costs, especially in the face of rising premiums.

3) Less stress. While bringing a dog to work would be the ideal option to help reduce stress, your organization may not allow this due to pet allergies. A wearable, such as a Fitbit, can help to decrease employee stress levels through breathing exercises, leading to a more productive and healthy team.

4) Improves company morale. Tracking eating habits, dietary plans, and lifestyle choices with the use of certain apps can help you create a stronger workplace culture, encourage supportive relationships, and boost team morale.

5) Overall health awareness. Using wearable gadgets can decrease the seated lifestyle that often influences the present day working generations. Employees have the ability to track their physical movements and set reminders to stand when sitting for longer periods of time.

The goal for any nonprofit organization in adding a workplace health and wellness plan should be to alter the mindset and focus on the actions that encourage preventative care. If an employer can have a team focused on their health and limit their sedentary lifestyles, both the employer and the employee will thrive.

The Importance of Having a Sick Day Policy

Sick employees are bad for business – plain and simple. They can wreak havoc on the workplace in many ways - spreading germs, putting additional stress on co-workers who have to pick up the slack or even creating tension amongst the team. While it might seem great to have such dedicated employees who are willing to work even when they are ill, what might be a mild case of the flu for one can land another in the hospital or worse, put multiple members of your team out for weeks.

You need an equitable sick leave policy in place that provides employees a reasonable amount of paid sick leave,  allowing them the time to recover when they’re not feeling well. Additionally, having a clearly written policy that specifies the organization’s standards and what is expected of the employee will help to minimize sick leave abuse. Paid sick leave is not typically required under federal law but may be required under state law – different states have different requirements so make sure to do your research to determine what, if any, state laws are applicable to you.

By implementing a few simple guidelines, you can create a solid yet thoughtful sick day policy that helps to maintain a healthier workplace and keep your nonprofit running smoothing when someone is out. First and foremost, you need managers to not only encourage people to stay home when they are ill but to also stay home themselves when ill – leading by example is the most powerful tool managers have at their discretion.

Secondly, have a back-up plan in place for when those instances do arise so key tasks don’t go unattended for days at a time. For example, cross-train your staff so that everyone has someone who can fill in where and when needed. While this may not be an ideal situation for some, ensuring everyone understands the benefits of such a plan and knows what to expect ahead of time, can go a long way in eliminating some of the stress when the need presents itself.

Also important to keep in mind, while it’s not practical to have someone out of the office for weeks due to a general cold, it is wise to require employees who have been out with the flu and/or a fever to remain home until they’ve been symptom-free for at least 24 hours. This will ensure they are no longer contagious and getting others sick upon returning to work.

If an employer doesn’t offer sick leave, they will only accelerate health issues and the spread of illness, thereby lowering productivity and office morale. Remember, when an employee comes to work sick, it puts you and the rest of your staff in a weak environment, which can affect a nonprofit as badly as the loss of a major contributor. Being sensitive to the health of all your staff should be priority number one.  To ensure you are doing everything you can is to genuinely take an interest in the health of the people working with you. Remember, a healthy workplace is a productive workplace.

Tech & Philanthropy: Working Together as One

The digital age has created a new outlook on how nonprofits are viewed from the outside world. Technology has allowed the removal of certain limitations in philanthropy—granting more exposure to the public on their efforts as well as allowing these organizations to be more prosperous. Such technological advances have given the sector the ability to improve and expand their outreach to those that are facing problems such as poverty, access to education or those affected by environmental devastations.

Introducing technology advances can benefit your organization in more ways than one. Such benefits will allow your organization to plan ahead, produce content tailored to your audience’s needs and overall create an efficient philanthropy.

Along with the benefits mentioned above, here are a few approaches nonprofits can consider when introducing your organization to new tech elements:

1) Use surveys to better engage your audience. A cost-effective way to gather intel on your biggest supporters is to send out a survey. This will give you the opportunity to gather insight on what messaging should be used to engage your audience and increase your number of donors. Surveys can help you save time by testing your messaging—your supporters can help you refine your messaging approach without wasting time and resources.

2) Create a website that is user experience focused. The design of an organization’s website should be primarily focused on the user’s view and navigation of the site. Displaying a variety of content, such as blogs, eye-catching images, social media posts and videos will allow the user an opportunity to engage with all forms and see which ones they interact with most. Implementing a test user experience can be a simple and cost-effective task that will help identify issues right from the start.

3) Use simple and engaging content to interact with your audience. Any content placed or shared on your social media pages should be directed back to your website. This will continue to increase the number of people that will engage and interact with your site. With a wide variety of social media applications, nonprofits have ample opportunities to increase awareness around the different programs they offer. Also, social media platforms can allow your supporters to share your mission and generate more communication about your organization.

HR Question: The IRS and Employee Gifting

Question: Are there tax or IRS implications if we give our employees a gift certificate or gift card instead of a cash bonus?

Answer: According to the IRS, cash or “cash equivalents” (such as gift cards) are always taxable. However, you can exclude the value of a de minimis (minor) benefit you provide to an employee. If you offer the employee a different type of recognition reward (such as a dinner out or tickets to an event), it may not be taxable. While the IRS doesn’t specifically put a dollar value on what constitutes “de minimis,” it is defined as  “any property or service you provide to an employee that has so little value (taking into account how frequently you provide similar benefits to your employees) that accounting for it would be unreasonable or administratively impracticable. Cash and cash equivalent fringe benefits (for example, use of gift card, charge card, or credit card), no matter how little, are never excludable as a de minimis benefit, except for occasional meal money or transportation fare.”

For more information, the 2017 IRS Publication 15-B Employer’s Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits offers a chart that shows the tax excludable value of some fringe benefits.

Q&A provided by ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace for nonprofit HR teams. Have HR questions? Sign your nonprofit up for a free 30-day trial here.

Why it Matters to Have Fun at Work

Have you ever considered different ways to engage your employees at your nonprofit? High performing companies like Google, Zappos, LinkedIn and other organizations have found a way to have both high productivity among their employees along with profitability and it’s all due to creating a fun work environment. When looking at these highly successful companies, they have been able to incorporate fun into the foundation of their culture. While having fun at work may not produce results on its own, it will make your nonprofit organization stand out among your competitors and spark the interest of future employees who are looking for new employment.

Prioritizing fun in the workplace can have a direct impact throughout your organization in ways that you may not expect - such as organizational health. Fun at work can be used to encourage participation amongst employees, making them want to engage in wellness programs. Productivity; fun can offer your employees a break or distraction from everyday tasks, creating valuable break time. Engagement; when employees are engaged they tend to be more enthusiastic about their work.

Many workers have a tendency to imagine the ideal work environment and can’t seem to shake the idea that there’s always something out there that is a better fit for them. This can make employees only look at the flaws of their current work environment rather than seeing its potential. Discussing such concerns with your manager and/or leadership will help them better understand the issue at hand and work together to create a fun workplace.

While fun at work can build solidarity, connections and an outlet for workplace stress, the BIG question is… how do you get started? Since this is a cultural change, no one single event or two can single handed lee change a work environment. You can begin by assessing your culture. Ask yourself if you see how the value of fun can fit and then explore how the fun can become a part of your operations. The next big revolution in the working world is focusing in on culture.

An Effective Promotions Policy is Vital to Company Success

Promotions are the cornerstone of professional growth - they motivate employees by appealing to their sense of ambition. While there are many things organizations can do to improve employee morale, if you don’t have a solid process in place for promoting your staff, you’ll never see their best efforts.

Over the past year, 400,000+ workers were surveyed in the U.S. and the results revealed that when workers believe that promotions are managed effectively, they are two times as likely to work harder and put forth the extra effort required to advance in the workplace.  In addition, these same workers said they are also more likely to stay put long-term.

For employers, having a clear promotion policy in place is one of the most powerful ways they can drive their company’s success. The payoff is priceless – employee turnover rates are lower, productivity and morale increases and businesses see revenue growth.

Promotions are extremely personal and should benefit both the employee and the employer – no matter how large or small the company is. Leaders should not focus only on an employees’ qualifications but should also take the time to understand their current role, their interests and career aspirations as well as their weaknesses. You then put yourself in a position to be their top supporter and can advocate on their behalf when an internal opportunity arises. By refocusing your energy on the people the process is meant to support, you can improve the effectiveness of the promotion process itself. Taking ownership of the process and encouraging your staff members to step forward when there is an opportunity, creates a trust between the two of you and ultimately the process.

You want to refrain from promoting your buddy or the guy whose ethics are questionable or promote on the basis of seniority. You’ll only leave the rest of your staff feeling like the truly important things don’t matter like productivity or integrity. They’ll start believing that they need to focus more on developing personal relationships or become lazy thinking they just need to put in the time to gain seniority. Even worse, they’ll think that it doesn’t matter how the work gets done just as long as it gets done making the quality of work less of a priority.

A solid promotions process allows leaders to elevate each employee to their full potential – while showing the company what type of results and behaviors are valued. Promotions are about people so when leaders take a caring approach to coach and advocate for their employees, everyone reaps the benefits.

[Webinar Recording] New HR Laws in 2018: What CA Nonprofits Need to Know

Did you know that the California Legislature enacted a number of new bills that became effective in 2018?

Watch Ethos Human Capital Solutions webinar on the new employment laws enacted by the California Legislature and how they will impact your business in 2018. Also, the webinar discusses legal cases that have been or will be decided by the courts and will affect CA employers.

You can download the recorded presentation which covers new laws affecting:

  • What you can/can’t ask on applications and during interviews
  • Immigrant worker protections
  • Changes to minimum wage
  • Parental leave

Learn from Lindy Duffy of Ethos Human Capital Solutions and Marla Merhab Robinson, Esp. with Merhab Robinson, Jackson & Clarkson about these changes and what you’ll need to know and do to stay in compliance.

This webinar series is part of UST’s efforts to educate the nonprofit sector. For more learning opportunities, tips and legal updates just for nonprofits, sign up for our monthly e-News today!

 

Economy Remains in Good Shape as we Head into the New Year

December marked the 87th consecutive month of job growth, adding an additional 148,000 positions during the month - bringing the total number of jobs filled in 2017 to 2.06 million. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.1 percent for the third consecutive month but fell over the year by 0.74 percent, a 17-year low.

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons was essentially unchanged at 4.9 million in December but was down by 639,000 over the year. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job. The number of long-term unemployed remained essentially the same at 1.5 million in December but declined by 354,000 over the year.

Among the marginally attached, there were 47,000 discouraged workers in December, little changed from a year earlier. Discouraged workers are those not seeking employment opportunities because they believe there are no jobs available. The remaining 1.1 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in December had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.

Payroll employment growth totaled 2.1 million in 2017, compared with a gain of 2.2 million in 2016. Job gains occurred in healthcare (31,000), construction (+30,000) and manufacturing (25,000), collectively creating over half a million jobs in 2017. Employment changed little for most other major industries, including food services, professional and business services, retail trade, mining, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, and financial activities.

The labor force participation rate, at 62.7 percent, was unchanged over the month and year. And while the employment-population ratio was also unchanged at 60.1 percent in December, it was up by 0.3 percentage point over the entire year.

Wages rose in December by 9 cents, increasing over the year by 65 cents, or 2.5 percent.

This all alludes to an economy that is healthy and likely to continue growing but we won’t know for sure for a while.