July 18, 2019

HR Question: Interns and Overtime

Question: We hire interns (generally students in their junior and senior years) to do professional work for clients alongside, and under the supervision of, our professionals. They earn at least twice the salary test wage of $455 per week and are paid on a salary basis. Are they eligible for overtime pay?

Answer: Maybe. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and state wage and hour laws exempt certain categories of employees from overtime. These interns may qualify as exempt employees under the "learned professional” employee exemption.

To meet for the learned professional employee exemption and be exempt from both minimum wage and overtime pay, all of the following criteria must be met:

  1. The employee must be compensated on a salary or fee basis (as defined in the regulations) at a rate not less than $455 per week.
  2. The employee’s primary duty must be the performance of work requiring advanced knowledge.
  3. The advanced knowledge must be in a field of science or learning.
  4. The advanced knowledge must be customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction.

See WHD Fact Sheet #17D: Exemption for Professional Employees Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA) for additional information explaining the learned professional exemption.

If the employees meet the exemption requirements, they would not be entitled to overtime. If the employees do not meet the requirements, it still may be possible that they qualify under one of the other white collar exemptions.

Q&A provided by ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace for nonprofit HR teams. Get your free 30-day trial here.

July 12, 2019

3 Reasons Paid Internships Benefit Nonprofits

When looking to hire interns to work at your nonprofit, there are multiple factors that can help determine if your organization wants to offer a paid or unpaid internship. On January 5, 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) “created new guidance for determining whether a worker could be classified as an unpaid intern under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).” The FLSA requires “for-profit” employers to pay employees for their work. However, this is not always the case when it comes to interns. Under the FLSA, interns may not be classified as “employees” which puts them in a situation where they don’t receive compensation for their work. With these new rules in place, employers now have more say when implementing unpaid internships.

Internships can provide highly beneficial, sought after opportunities for individuals and organizations alike, especially nonprofits.  Internships give organizations unique ways to observe new talent, promote training and share resources within their community. Often interns can be college students and these internships can allow students and other individuals creative ways to grow in their intended fields, to learn valuable work skills and to develop their resumes for future success. 

As a nonprofit, deciding to offer a paid internship can be a difficult decision to make, however, here are three reasons why a paid internship could be the way to go:

1) An unpaid internship could limit your pool of candidates to choose from, ruling out college students who come from lower and middle-income backgrounds. Not only are these students looking for compensation to pay for a college, they need money for everyday necessities.

2) Since interns tend to work on teams with paid employees, an unpaid internship can affect the work of those paid employees making their work feel less valued.

3) Keep in mind, when assigning projects to an unpaid intern to make sure the work isn’t something they should be compensated for – which could result in wage claims. Offering a paid internship can prevent issues like this from arising.

Bringing on interns is a great way to help those new to the workforce learn what it takes to be successful in the working world while helping nonprofits get special projects completed. Plan ahead and structure your program so that your internship program is a great experience for all those involved.

June 25, 2019

HR Question: Inclement Weather

Question: Last week our offices were closed because of inclement weather. Do we need to pay our employees for the week? If not, would they be eligible for unemployment compensation?

Answer: When your business closes early, opens late, or closes for the week due to inclement weather, how you pay employees will depend on whether you have an inclement weather policy or an established practice for office closures. If you do not have a policy or practice, whether your employees are eligible for unemployment compensation depends on whether they are nonexempt or exempt. Further, whether employees would be eligible for unemployment insurance depends upon the circumstances and the particular state; employees may be able to qualify for some assistance through the state’s unemployment department.

Nonexempt employees need to be paid only for the time they have actually worked. If they have paid time off (PTO) accrued (whether vacation time or a PTO plan), then the company could deduct hours from the accrued bank to continue their pay, if the employee so desires.

If nonexempt employees come to work but are not allowed to work their full scheduled shift, a number of states impose a reporting time obligation requiring employees to be paid a minimum number of hours if they have reported for work.

However, exempt employees are paid on a salary basis and must be paid the same amount each week, regardless of the amount of work that they do. If you have a PTO plan, you can deduct from the exempt employee’s vacation or accrued time off bank to make the salary whole.

For example, management decides to send everybody home four hours into the day due to a blizzard and the offices remain closed the next day. Joe is an hourly employee in the warehouse with no accrued PTO and Mary is an exempt-level office manager with five days (40 hours) in her PTO bank. Joe would receive the four hours of pay for the day he worked and no pay for the remainder of that day or the following full day. If the company does not wish to pay Mary her entire pay for the time the office was closed, it may elect for her to receive four hours of regular pay for the time worked, and deduct from her PTO bank for 12 hours (the four hours remaining on the first day and eight hours for the next day). Mary will receive her full pay for the week.

Q&A provided by ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace for nonprofit HR teams. Get your free 30-day trial here.

June 19, 2019

Nonprofit Webinar: 3 Reasons Your Board Doesn’t Fundraise and How to Change That

For a limited time, UST opens up registration to 501(c)(3) nonprofits interested in learning how to create a strong fundraising culture starting with your board members.

UST, a program dedicated to providing nonprofits with dedicated HR support and educational tools, presents an exclusive 60-minute webinar that offers an overview of the three top reasons why board members don't fundraise and how to change their mindsets.

Join Barbara O'Reilly, CFRE, Principal of Windmill Hill Consulting, to learn the key steps you need to have in place to build your team of volunteer leaders; to train them and manage their expectations for success; and to determine the roles every board member can—and should—play in creating a strong culture of giving within your organization.

This educational webinar will teach attendees about:

  • How to identify the right board composition for your organization
  • Key ways to use a board orientation to empower board members for fundraising success
  • Ideas on creating a fundraising menu of activities and commitments that are right-sized for each board member

If you’re a 501(c)(3) nonprofit executive with 10 or more full time employees, register for the June 25th webinar before space runs out!

June 17, 2019

Nonprofits Receive Over $13.6 Million in Cash Back Through UST’s Claims Management Services

UST is giving 779 nonprofits $13,655,819 in cash back for their ability to reduce their anticipated unemployment claims within the past year.

UST, a program dedicated to providing nonprofits with workforce solutions that help reduce costs so that they can focus more on their missions, announces that it will be dispersing $13,655,819.69 in cash back to more than 779 of their program participants. After accruing all of their claims savings, audited state returns and cash back throughout the last year, UST members will have $38.8 million filtered back into their nonprofits’ pockets.

These refunds are just part of how UST serves its mission of “Providing nonprofits with workforce solutions that reduce costs and strengthen their missions.” UST aims to provide 501(c)(3) nonprofits with the latest HR training, outplacement resources and unemployment claims management tools they need to stay compliant with the state and federal laws, while also helping to reduce paperwork burdens.

One of UST’s most popular programs, UST Trust, helps reimbursing employers build a reserve—protecting their money on the front end—so they don’t experience the steep ups and downs in their cash flow due to unexpected unemployment claims. Unlike their for-profit counterparts, UST Trust participants can receive cash back through UST when their organization is able to reduce their unemployment claims and still maintain a healthy reserve balance for future claims.

“The $13.6 Million we are returning to UST participants can offer their organizations the flexibility they need to execute additional mission-driven initiatives,” said Donna Groh, Executive Director of UST. “The UST team is pleased to be able to continue returning funds to our hard-working members—further supporting the communities in which they serve.” 

To learn more about the UST program for 501(c)(3) employers, visit www.ChooseUST.org. If you’re a reimbursing or tax-rated nonprofit, and looking for innovative ways to save money, fill out a free Unemployment Cost Analysis form.

May 30, 2019

2019 Nonprofit HR Toolkit

Here at UST we’ve put together our Top 10 Guides for 2019 Nonprofit Human Resource management. And for a limited time, we’re giving them away for FREE.

Since 1983, UST has provided nonprofits with the latest HR resources in an effort to help organizations stay compliant, maximize employee bandwidth and reduce overhead costs. This toolkit includes updated 2019 state and federal minimum wage data and recordkeeping requirements, as well as checklists to ensure compliance. Plus, you can learn the top six strategies to develop and maintain a thriving workplace.

 

  • State and Federal Minimum Wages
  • Federal Recordkeeping Requirements
  • ACA Checklist
  • HR Audit Checklist
  • HR Compliance Chart
  • An Introduction to Employee Benefits
  • Emergency Preparedness Plan
  • UST Competitive Hiring Practices eBook
  • Webinar Recording: Nonprofit Recruitment and Retention Best Practices
  • Unemployment Cost Analysis Form

 

Still have questions? You can get a free 30-day trial of UST HR Workplace powered by ThinkHR, a cloud-based service that aims to reduce HR liability through a live expert hotline, 250+ online compliance courses, compensation tools, employee handbook builders, and employee classification step-by-step guides. Set up your ThinkHR trial today!

May 15, 2019

HR Question: Independent Contractor vs. Employee

Question: How can you determine whether a worker is an independent contractor or employee?

Answer: Generally, independent contractors are self-employed individuals who work on special projects that require no training, may work from either the employer site or another location, and do not need direction or the company’s materials to do the job. Additionally, these individuals are typically paid based on contract milestones.

Under federal “common law” rules, anyone who performs services for you is your employee if you can control what, when, and how the work will be done. This is true even if the person in question has the freedom to determine when certain work actions are taken. According to the IRS, “What matters is that you have the right to control the details of how the services are performed.”

Some states look to the federal common law rules, while others, such as Oregon, New York, and California, have their own additional tests of whether an individual is an independent contractor or employee. Many states publish fact sheets or handbooks with these guidelines to aid employers in making the appropriate classification.

The key in making this determination is to look at the entire relationship, consider the degree or extent of the right to direct and control, and finally, document each of the factors used in coming up with the determination.

In determining whether the person providing service is an employee or an independent contractor, all information that provides evidence of the degree of control and independence must be considered. In short, you will want to examine this decision carefully, so as to avoid tax consequences by misclassifying someone as an independent contractor.

Source: www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Employee-(Common-Law-Employee)

Q&A provided by ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace for nonprofit HR teams. Get your free 30-day trial here.

May 10, 2019

Lessons Learned from Implementing ASU 2016-14 – Functional Expenses

Are you familiar with the Accounting Standards Update (ASU) 2016-14 issued by FASB? It’s a standard created to offer solutions to simplify and improve how a nonprofit organization is able to classify its net assets, financial statements, liquidity, financial performance, and cash flows. Now, that organizations have begun to apply this new standard, they are encountering implementation issues that were not anticipated. 

When organizations are gathering and preparing their financial information, they’re being faced with making difficult decisions on how to best present this information. For example, an analysis of expenses by function and natural classifications can be presented in multiple ways however, what is the most efficient and most beneficial method to do so?

Tammy Ricciardello states “Our advice on the presentation? Keep it simple. Yes, the analysis of expenses by function and nature should show the natural expenses of the entity by program and supporting activities, but this doesn’t mean that every type of expense should be presented on its own line. A straightforward approach will prevent the presentation from becoming overly complex and unwieldy.”

It's important to remain focused on the information that is most useful and make sure that the one reading your financial statements can clearly understand the costs of each activity and where that activity is being allocated to. Remember, keep it simple.

To learn more about the best practices for implementing ASU 2016-14 functional expenses be sure to read the full article here.

Article provided by Tammy Ricciardella, CPA, Technical Director at BDO.

May 01, 2019

The True Story of Nonprofits and Taxes

Did you know that certain nonprofits can legally opt out of paying state unemployment taxes? Do you understand who is benefiting from this tax exemption law? In this article, Jon Pratt, Executive Director at Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, discusses the benefits of nonprofit tax exemption and recent tax activity statistics.

It is important to understand that a tax-exempt status only exempts a nonprofit from paying tax on income that is generated from activities that are specifically related to the purpose for which the group was created. Nonprofits are not alone in benefiting from this exemption—by allowing more dollars to funnel back into the very missions that started nonprofit organizations—communities worldwide are reaping the benefits of endless services being offered by these 501(c)(3) organizations.

Jon Pratt explains, “Even though nonprofits are sometimes considered to be an essentially “tax-free” sector of the economy, they clearly have deep involvement on both sides of the ledger: as a tax expenditure, in the sense of forgone revenue, and as taxpayers and tax collectors, making substantial contributions to government revenues through tax collection from nonprofit employees and activities.”

To learn more about the national value of charitable nonprofit benefits and obligations, read the full article here.

Article provided by Jon Pratt, Executive Director at Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, Co-Director of GrantAdvisor and UST board member
April 24, 2019

HR Question: Allowing Minors to Volunteer

Question: One of our employees has asked to bring her 16-year-old daughter to work so she can volunteer for school credits. Can we allow this?

Answer: It depends. Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employees may not volunteer services to for-profit private sector employers. However, private employers may have trainees or students in the workplace under the School-to-Work program (STW) or an internship program.

If you want to allow your employee’s daughter to do work for you as an intern, you will need to classify her as such. Keep in mind internships can be either paid or unpaid. The United States Department of Labor (DOL) uses six criteria to determine whether an internship is exempt from the minimum wage and overtime requirements of the FLSA (meaning the internship may be unpaid). Under the DOL test, for an intern to be exempt from the minimum wage and overtime requirements, all of the following must be true:

  1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
  2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
  3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
  4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
  5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
  6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

For more information on the DOL six-factor test, see Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Note that the 2nd Circuit (Connecticut, New York, and Vermont) and the 11th Circuit (Alabama, Georgia, and Florida) do not use the DOL six-factor test but instead use the “primary beneficiary test.” Under the primary beneficiary test, a court determines whether the employer or worker benefits more from the internship. If the employer benefits more, the worker is properly classified as an “employee” and is entitled to minimum wage and overtime. If the individual benefits more, he or she is properly classified as an unpaid intern or trainee and exempted from the minimum wage and overtime requirements (nonemployees).  As unpaid internships have proven to be a litigious area of employment law, seek legal guidance before electing to not pay an intern.

Finally, beyond these exceptions to the FLSA, if your employee’s minor 16-year-old daughter will be doing any work for the company not as an intern, she must obtain a work permit, must be paid at least the applicable minimum wage, and is entitled to the protections afforded other employees. You’ll also need to consider that each state has its own laws governing the employment of minors. Check here to review the laws applicable to your state. 

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.

April 19, 2019

Solid Job Growth for March Despite Decrease in February

March resulted in positive job growth with employers adding an additional 196,000 jobs with considerable job gains in the healthcare and professional/technical services. Employment growth averaged 180,000 per month in the first quarter compared to the 223,000 per month in 2018 and this month the unemployment rate remained the same at 3.8 percent. The number of unemployed persons remained unchanged at 6.2 million.

During the month of March, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) showed minimal to no change at 130 million and accounts for 21.1 percent of those unemployed. With the labor force participation rate at 63 percent, it showed slight change over the course of the month and little movement on net over the past 12 months. In addition, the number of persons employed part-time for economic reasons (referred to as involuntary part-time workers) showed small changes at 4.5 million in March. To explain, these are individuals who would have preferred to have full-time employment and were working part-time due to their hours being reduced or unable to find full-time employment.

Job gains occurred in health care adding 49,000 jobs and 398,000 over the past 12 months. This growth increased employment in ambulatory health care services (+27,000), hospitals (+14,000) and nursing/ residential care facilities (+9,000). In addition, there was a significate increase in the professional and technical services of 34,000 and 311,000 over the past 12 months. The growth increased employment in design and related services (+12,000), architectural engineering services (+6,000) and management and technical consulting services (+6,000). Employment also showed an upward trend in food services and drinking (+27,000) as well in construction (+16,000) with an increase of 246,000 over the past 12 months.

In March, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 4 cents to $27.70, following a 10-cent gain in February. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 3.2 percent. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 6 cents to $23.24 in March.

With the revisions of both the January and February’s job reports, the number of jobs went from +311,000 to +312,000 for January and +20,000 to +30,000 for February – combined there were 14,000 more jobs than previously reported. These changes show a continual growth in employment and the upward trend of different sectors benefiting from this positive job growth.

March 29, 2019

Work for Good eBook Download

Employing the third largest workforce with the third largest employee payroll, the nonprofit sector is quickly gaining momentum in the work arena. Work for Good recently released a new eBook, the 2019 Nonprofit Salary Report for California, based on results from an extensive survey of nonprofit professionals in the state. This eBook delivers comprehensive sector salary benchmarking based on nearly 10,000 positions at nonprofit organizations in the state of California. Those are impressive statistics and this report breaks down those numbers for you—helping in your quest for greater impact and organizational excellence. Download your copy today!

March 27, 2019

HR Question: Participation in Occupational Employment Statistics Reporting

Question: We received a request from the State Department of Labor, Division of Research and Statistics, to provide information for "Occupational Employment Statistics Report in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Labor." Is our participation mandatory or required?

Answer: Your state department of labor has asked you to participate in the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Current Employment Statistics survey. Providing information is voluntary under federal law and is mandatory under state law only in North Carolina, Oregon, and South Carolina. 

The report is based on a sample of 390,000 business establishments nationwide. The survey produces monthly estimates of employment, hours, and earnings for the nation, states, and major metropolitan areas. Preliminary national estimates for a given reference month are typically published on the first Friday of the following month, in conjunction with data derived from a separate survey of households, the Current Population Survey. See the Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey page and the Current Employment Statistics page for more information.

Although voluntary in most states, employers are encouraged to complete and submit the report accordingly. No penalties exist for those who choose not to report in states where participation is not mandatory.

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.

March 18, 2019

Job Growth and Resilience in the Nonprofit Sector

From 2007 to 2016, the nonprofit sector experienced substantial growth in employment and a range of industries reaped the benefits of this growth. During this time, nonprofits surpassed the for-profit sector in employment growth with a 16.7 percent increase compared to the 4.6 percent increase in the for-profit sector. With consistent resilience and very little recognition for these efforts, nonprofits had the ability to employ nearly twice as many workers as construction, finance, insurance and transportation.

When looking at how nonprofit employment is distributed across a variety of industries, it can be helpful to see which industries benefited from this growth. Hospitals came in at the highest with 34 percent of the total, along with other health care sectors (e.g., nursing homes and health clinics) at another 21 percent. Next, is education with 14 percent of nonprofit employment then social services with 12 percent. An interesting point made in The 2019 Nonprofit Employment Report is “within the industries noted above, nonprofit workers tend to out-earn for-profit workers” and an example of this is, “an average nonprofit worker in ambulatory health earns $1,364 a week versus $1,101 for a person employed in the same industry by a for-profit firm. That is a 24 percent nonprofit wage advantage. In the social assistance sector, the nonprofit wage advantage is a stunning 55 percent.”

While nonprofits are less impacted by recessions than for-profit firms, they still face other obstacles that are unavoidable. For-profits continue to make advancements and are outpace nonprofits in a number of the traditional nonprofit sectors, such as nursing and residential care field, hospital field, social assistance; to name a few. For-profits also continue to grow in the private sector and while nonprofits are growing in the service(s) sectors, they are growing faster than the economy can accommodate.

With the nonprofit sector continuing to show resilience while battling with the many economic pressures and in constant competition with the for-profit sector, the nonprofit sector continues to push on. However, attention needs to be given to the many factors that impact the future of nonprofit business models.

February 22, 2019

Ensuring a Healthy Work Environment

Most people spend the majority of their weekday hours getting ready for work, commuting to and from work and actively working. As a standard rule of thumb, we make it a priority to ensure we live in a safe environment at home--free from negative energy. But what about our work environment? How can we ensure the environment is safe there as well?  

Some typical issues encountered in the workplace that can be bothersome include poor lighting and fluctuating temperatures, but other issues that are surprisingly common that can seriously undermine employee health are workplace bullying and sexual harassment. These types of behavior can have an extremely negative impact on the well-being, productivity, and health of everyone in the office, not just those directly involved. Creating a safe work environment means focusing on culture and eliminating harmful behavior.

Many people think these negative behaviors stop once the graduation caps have been tossed in the air. Unfortunately, bullying is a common problem that can occur in any setting involving a large group of people, and the workplace is no exception. With digital tools like office chatrooms, texting, and email, there are more ways than ever for abusers to target others. Workplace harassment can encompass a number of harmful behaviors, including threats, humiliation, sabotage, and intimidation. It is this repeated harassment that can affect the victim’s ability to concentrate and/or feel safe at work.

One of the biggest problems with workplace harassment is that many people don’t recognize it when they see it. Not all harassment is obvious. Sometimes, it’s subtle and the effects build up over time. Alternatively, the abuser may be using digital tools that no one else can see rather than engaging in inappropriate behavior in front of others. In other cases, people that are witness to bullying may not feel safe coming forward. Research indicates that a shocking 37% of workers in the United States have been directly bullied in the workplace. When you factor in the people who witnesses bullying, the number reaches 49%. All in all, even if a person hasn’t been bullied on the job, chances are they know someone who has. Because of the negative consequences, these behaviors are a leading contributor of toxic work environments around the country.

Not only does workplace harassment cause victims to lose their confidence and experience increased stress, it can also lead to poor productivity, illness, and possibly, to the person quitting. A toxic culture increases turnover rates and can even open up companies to legal trouble if allowed to continue.

Workplace harassment is a serious issue and should therefore, be handled promptly. Not only can it lead to mental and physical health problems for your employees, it can also impact your bottom line and even hurt your reputation. Eliminating toxic behavior through education and awareness are key when it comes to ending workplace harassment of any kind and of the utmost importance in creating a safe and healthy work environment. Mandatory trainings for managers and employees, strict policies on harassment, and other safeguards can help ensure a safe and healthy environment for all.

This article was created in collaboration with Quinn Cooley of DC Scholarships.

February 04, 2019

Nonprofit Webinar: Navigating the Road to National Accreditation

For a limited time, UST opens up registration to 501(c)(3) nonprofits interested in learning about accreditation and its benefits for your organization.

UST, a program dedicated to providing nonprofits with dedicated HR support and educational tools, presents an exclusive 60-minute webinar that offers an overview of the major phases of the accreditation process and highlights the benefits of becoming accredited—including enhancing revenue opportunities.

Join UST and Jennifer Flowers, Founder & CEO of Accreditation Guru, Inc., to better understand the fundamental organizational requirements necessary for accreditation, key participants to include throughout the process and how to avoid the common pitfalls of accreditation preparation.

This educational webinar will teach attendees about:

  • Understanding the key benefits to becoming nationally accredited
  • Comparing timelines and costs for accreditation from the various accrediting bodies
  • How to recognize why accreditation mandates are becoming more
  • Becoming familar with how to avoid common accreditation preparation
  • How to identify what is needed to successfully prepare for accreditation

If you’re a 501(c)(3) nonprofit executive with 10 or more full time employees, register for the February 13th webinar before space runs out!

January 31, 2019

How to Avoid Common Performance Review Pitfalls

As a nonprofit manager, it is important to be able to give constructive feedback effectively to your employees. Being able to share and receive feedback is vital to self- improvement.  Examples of how to give constructive feedback  include, discussing appropriate behaviors, asking questions, creating an action plan together and building trust, to name a few. On the other hand, there are a number of ways that your feedback could cause more harm than good.

Listed below are five bad habits your nonprofit organization should avoid when giving constructive feedback:

1) Waiting for the annual performance review to give feedback – This method can cause confusion and make things more challenging to work through. Waiting too long to provide feedback could make people feel caught off guard or defensive rather than being open to having a productive conversation.

2) Not providing specific examples – Concepts like “be more of a team player,” “be more professional” or “show more initiative” do not typically sink in without the use of specific examples to illustrate them. Labels without examples can leave people feeling at a loss of how to go about making changes because they are unsure of what you’re looking for. Make sure to be specific with your feedback.

3) Lack of preparation – Making an assessment or judgment call prior to gathering all the facts and examining the logic of your assessment, can lead to a very negative outcome. Situations like these could lead to resentment or loss of respect for the manager. Every statement you share, whether it be criticism or praise, should be backed up with specific details.

4) Making an assumption of how to praise an employee – A natural tactic is to praise an employee the same way you like to be praised. However, what may work for one type of person or personality may not have the same impact on another. This is one of the many areas of managing where learning personality types can be extremely useful.

5) Only giving corrective feedback without any positive feedback – If the only time you give feedback is to say something negative, employees will inevitably develop an automatic defensive reaction the moment you try to give them any type of feedback, whether it be positive or negative. Such conditions can be deemed hazardous for a constructive conversation and effect the overall culture of the workplace.

Some situations in life are just uncomfortable and performance reviews are often one of them. By planning ahead, these conversations can be extremely productive and used to strengthen employee-manager relationships while driving positive outcomes for the business. Set clear expectations, continuously monitor employee performance, regularly check-in, offer praise for good performance and continually work on staff development.  You will be well on your way to creating a positive work environment where both parties are appreciated and respected. 

January 24, 2019

Recruit Your Next Employee via Texting

Technology continues to create more tools for recruiters to use to reach potential candidates—whether it be via email, social platforms like LinkedIn or the most popular, texting. While texting is an informal way to communicate, it can act as simple way to vet someone to see if they are a good fit for your company or at the very least, see if they are interested—this can be an optimal time saver. The number of technology companies creating messaging tools to help organizations reach potential employees by text continues to grow.

With most nonprofit organizations are constrained by limited bandwidth, utilizing a text-messaging platform could be a beneficial solution that could help bring in the ideal employee while managing time more effectively. Adding this type of tool to your hiring process can help fine tune interview logistics and allow for pre-screening questions prior to scheduling a phone or in-person interview. In such a highly competitive market, nonprofits are always looking for solutions to grab the attention of candidates that are the best fit for the job as well as better manage how they communicate with those seeking an open position.  

Compared to email and job board email listings, incorporating text messaging into your recruiting process can increase the likelihood of actually getting a response. Texting offers a quick back and forth conversation, which can help move the process along at a quicker pace, allowing employers to ask basic questions regarding requirements, experience and availability—while candidates can ask about benefits or pay. This could all be discussed before scheduling a meeting or even a phone call—preventing the off chance of wasting either parties’ time. Texting also offers an informal environment that can help decrease the chances of any awkwardness of a first-time discussion.

While text-based recruiting is more commonly used for higher volume job categories such as retail, food service, nursing and customer service, there are some companies using these solutions for professional jobs or high-demand positions such as software programming. These messaging tools are being used to hire a wide-range of positions and continue to become more sophisticated as the demand increases.

December 19, 2018

Using Data to Improve Performance in Nonprofits

Performance management enables business leaders to motivate staff members and maximize worker productivity. Go-getting employees thrive on productive feedback, while others need a clear plan to boost their productivity.

While large corporations devote huge sums of money toward highly complex and feature-rich performance management software suites, these systems typically focus on standardized forms and universal rating systems. Often, this kind of one-size-fits-all management is unproductive and ineffective. Fortunately, there are newer, cost-effective performance management applications that are accessible to even the smallest organizations that do a better job of boosting performance.

With the abundance of available software suites on the market, small organizations can lease performance management applications for pennies on the dollar. Of course, business leaders must also consider the costs involved with managing these kinds of applications. As such, it makes good sense to choose a management suite that is easy to use and integrates well with existing work processes.

To learn more about how low-budget organizations can effectively achieve their goals through data and performance management, check out Rutgers University’s infographic on Using Data to Improve Performance in Nonprofits.

December 07, 2018

5 Ways to Improve Your Nonprofit’s Hiring Process

The role of an HR professional requires wearing many hats and with that comes the challenge of juggling multiple projects, involving various moving parts of a nonprofit organization. One of the biggest and most challenging tasks that lives on the desk of human resource professionals is recruiting/hiring new employees. Most have come to learn that the hiring process has a tendency to be biased, which comes with moments of being unfair to certain applicants. While most of it comes from an unconscious bias, these acts still play an intricate role in making a decision when hiring a new employee.

While bringing awareness to our natural bias and attempting to correct these behaviors can be difficult, there are solutions that can be put into place to offer your human resource’s team a strategic plan to help prevent such biases from occurring.  

1) Reformat your job descriptions: A job description is one of the most crucial parts of the hiring process. It sets the tone for everything that follows and the parameters around the type of person you’re looking to hire—from their skills to their capabilities. The use of different words can have a greater impact than you realize on the candidates that come across your job listing. For example, certain adjectives like “competitive” and “determined” can be more appealing to men where as “collaborative” and “cooperative” tend to resonate more with women.

2) Try “blind hiring”: A technique that “blinds” you from seeing any demographic-related information for a particular candidate. This approach can help improve the chances of not weeding out a great candidate and to retain a more dynamic interview pool without your natural bias interfering with the hiring process.

3) Assessments using work examples: Offering a test to solve work-related problems can be a helpful indicator to both the potential hire and employer— revealing their level of job performance and the opportunity for the candidate to demonstrate his or her skill level. This can help eliminate the bias and unconscious judgement of appearance, gender, age and personality.

4) Create a consistent interview process: While an unstructured interview can allow for a more organic conversation, it tends to be unreliable when predicting job success. Whereas in a structured interview, the candidate is asked a set of defined questions, allowing employers to focus on the key factors that have an impact on performance—this approach offers a consistent interview process and minimizes potential bias.

5) Implement goals of diversity: Creating these goals will offer guidance and define the parameters in which to abide by—this helps keep diversity and equality top of mind when hiring future employees. 

November 30, 2018

HR Question: Requiring Mandatory Flu Shots

Question: Can we require our employees to get flu shots?

Answer: While there is no law that prohibits employers from mandating flu shots — and in some states, the law requires all healthcare workers to get flu shots — you should carefully determine if the benefits to your business outweigh the risks. There has been a rise in litigation brought by employees who object to this requirement for medical, religious or personal reasons. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed or joined several lawsuits over claims that inflexible mandatory vaccination policies are discriminatory.

Employees may be entitled to exemptions from a flu shot policy for medical reasons under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or religious reasons under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Requests for exemptions must be evaluated individually yet treated consistently, a difficult task. You will need to engage in an interactive process with the employee, just as you would for any other request for accommodations, to determine if they can be granted without presenting undue hardship to your company.

The EEOC recommends against mandatory flu shot policies, instead suggesting employers encourage employees get vaccinated on their own. Offering no-cost flu shots on site can further improve workplace vaccination rates by making it more convenient for employees.

If you choose to enact a mandatory flu shot policy, write it carefully to protect your company from the risk of discrimination claims and be sure to run it by your legal counsel. Make sure the policy:

  • Is worded concisely.
  • Outlines the reasoning behind the policy.
  • Is applied consistently. (Managers who enforce it should be trained on the policy and how to handle requests for exemptions.)
  • Explains the process for requesting exemptions due to medical contraindications or sincerely held religious beliefs. Any medical information obtained as part of the request for an exemption should be kept confidential.
November 08, 2018

Exercise Your Nonprofit’s Tax Exemption for 2019

With holidays on the horizon, this is the time for holiday shopping, family gatherings and ringing in the New Year. With so much on our plates, time can get away from us—causing us to miss important deadlines.  As a 501 (c)(3) organization, November is the deadline month to exercise your state unemployment tax exemption for 2019. This means time is running out.

Unlike for-profit organizations, 501(c)(3) nonprofits have the unique opportunity – as allowed by Federal law – to opt-out of the state unemployment tax system and instead only reimburse the state, if and when they have an actual unemployment claim. It can be a savings opportunity for many nonprofits who have lower claims than what they pay in state unemployment taxes—which are often driven up by for-profit organizations and other companies that go out of business, as well as state fund deficits and improper payments made in error.

UST helps nonprofits to better manage their cash flow through proper claims administration and various funding options. With access to e-Filing capabilities, state-specific claims advice and a plethora of on-demand HR services, UST participants are able to streamline operations and reduce back-office paperwork burdens.

Last year alone, UST helped program participants save $26.2 million in unemployment claims costs. That’s millions of dollars more for the nonprofit sector and the communities they serve.

More than 2,200 of your nonprofit peers are already exercising their unique tax alternative with UST. In a time of such uncertainty and ongoing legal changes, shouldn’t you investigate whether UST can help your organization safeguard valuable time and funding?

Submit your FREE Cost Analysis Form no later than November 15th in order to meet the state deadline for 2019 enrollment – which for most states is December 1st. Unfortunately, if a nonprofit misses the state deadline, they have to wait until the following year to exercise their tax exemption and join the UST program.

October 18, 2018

HR Question: Requesting a Fit-for-Duty Certification

Question: If a new hire volunteers information about medical issues, can the employer ask for a doctor's fit-for-duty certification?

Answer:  Exercise caution in requesting medical documentation from applicants or employees, unless the applicant or employee is specifically requesting some form of accommodation in order to do his/her job or the employer has directly observed or has evidence that the employee is having difficulty in the job due to some type of limitation. If the employee discloses the information in the interview and/or onboarding process without a request for accommodation, we recommend the interviewer ask the employee if accommodation is requested. If not, then we recommend moving the conversation on to the bona fide requirements of the job. An employer should consider the following questions before requesting a fitness- for-duty medical certification:

Did the applicant or employee ask for an accommodation? If so, then requesting medical certification and suggestions in order to aid the applicant/employee may be appropriate. Does the employer request this information for all employees/applicants for the same position? If the employer is considering asking for medical certification based upon the new hire's health disclosure AND the new hire is not requesting any form of accommodation in order to do the job, then we recommend NOT asking for that medical certification unless the employer asks for it for all new hires in that position on a routine basis.

From a practical perspective, an employer should gather medical information only if there are concerns about the employee's ability to perform the essential functions of the job, considering any physical or mental limitations. An employer should request and consider only the information that is "job related and consistent with business necessity". Here are a few scenarios where requesting a medical fitness for duty certification may be appropriate:

  • The employee has admitted that his medical condition may be linked to performance problems and has requested assistance (i.e. his medications are making him forgetful, he is not taking the medications because they make him dizzy and he needs to work in high places, etc);
  • The employer has knowledge that an employee's medical condition may potentially pose a safety or health hazard to himself or others (i.e. an employee with seizures driving a delivery truck);
  • The employer directly observes severe symptoms that indicate that there is a medical condition that impairs performance or could be a threat to the health and safety of the employee or others.

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.

October 16, 2018

Using the Right Metrics for Your Nonprofit?

While nonprofit marketing metrics such as engagement, social shares, and “likes” offer insight into your campaigns—other metrics like dashboards, strategic plan reports, financial and activity reports can offer a basic yet sophisticated snap shot of your nonprofit’s overall performance. 

As a nonprofit leader, looking beyond the metrics of a simple activity or campaign and focusing on the long-term viability (appealing to users and supporters), relevance and sustainability (access to and use of funds) of your organization as a whole—offers great insight into the performance and longevity of your nonprofit.

Here are some metrics that offer valuable information around the viability and sustainability of your organization:

1) Viability and Engagement:

                a) Following the patterns of your users, such as the increase of benefits and engagement.

                b) An increase of social media followers, leading to a higher number of content shares.

2) Sustainability and Financial Security:

                a) A change in source of funding (i.e., philanthropy, government, fees) followed by observing the strengths and effectiveness of these different funding sources.

                b) A change in seeking of funding (i.e., reserves, endowment), and monitoring the status of each request and how successful the outcome is.

Measurement doesn’t just show progress or results—it shows insights and, perhaps most importantly, shapes behavior. The use of these metrics will reveal if your organization has the relevance and viability to encounter current and future challenges and the ability to make necessary adjustments.

If the leadership associated with a mission-driven organization believes strongly in the mission of their nonprofit, they will endure the struggles to establish the long-term viability and sustainability for the organization—ensuring the mission is the number one priority.

October 12, 2018

Creating a Unique Compensation Package

Different things inspire different people to work for nonprofit organizations—it can be a personal tie to the cause, the desire to make a difference, the work environment, or maybe, it’s the idea of working with really like-minded people. Whatever the reason is, it typically isn’t for stellar compensation.

While some nonprofits have the funds to offer exceptional compensation, many just don’t—there are a lot of reasons why nonprofit organizations struggle with offering competitive compensation packages but the most common are minimal funding and other spending priorities. We know there are many non-monetary rewards of working for a nonprofit, but creating the best compensation package possible can make the difference between attracting and retaining qualified candidates or suffering from high turnover. It’s important to recognize that nonprofit employers compete with for-profit employers all the time when it comes to finding talented job candidates. Equally important to recognize is that compensation isn’t just about salary.

Like all other employers, tax-exempt charitable nonprofits are required to follow federal and state wage and hour laws that include minimum wage requirements. To maintain their tax-exempt status, nonprofit organizations need to ensure that compensation is reasonable and not in excess. Performing your own data research to find out what the “going rate” is for a given position can be extremely helpful in ensuring that you’re aligned with other nonprofits in the same geographic area with a similar budget and mission.

Here are some things to consider when creating a desirable compensation package:

1. Incentive Bonuses – Ensure expectations are clear surrounding any bonus through corporate communications that explain how bonuses are recognized as a discretionary gift to a regular salary--dependent upon budget limitations, and provided in recognition of an employee’s extra-efforts or exceptional performance.   

2. Work from Home Opportunities - Provide employees the option to telecommute in an effort to save time and money on commuting back and forth from work. Make sure that you have a clear policy surrounding a telecommuting program to avoid any possible issues in the future.

3. Recognition AwardsRecognize employee’s successes on a quarterly basis by rewarding them with an additional perk such as a gift card to a local hot spot or perhaps a paid day off. This type of recognition carries extra meaning in building trust and loyalty.

4. Additional Time off Offering additional time off options such as a floating holiday or a paid birthday can go a long way in making employees feel valued and cared for.

5. Perks and MembershipsMore and more companies are providing their associates free memberships to discounted programs and offering special offers.

6. Increase Training Spending - Consider paying for certification programs,  learning materials and conferences. Create more budget space for investing in employees.

Being creative with your compensation package at a budget restricted nonprofit can be less expensive and often better received than a raise, so put on your thinking caps and leave no stone unturned. Remember, money alone will not keep employees engaged so make sure you show them some appreciation.

October 10, 2018

Job Growth in September Despite Natural Disaster

September resulted in positive job growth with employers adding an additional 134,000 jobs—resulting in an average monthly gain of 201,000 over the past 12 months. These jobs were added across a variety of sectors including professional and business services, health care, transportation and warehousing.

The unemployment rate dropped by 0.2 of a percentage point to 3.7% in September, and the number of unemployed persons decreased by 270,000 to 6.0 million. Over the year, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons declined by 0.5 percentage point and 795,000. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) showed slight change at 1.4 million in September and accounted for 22.9 percent of the unemployed. Over the year, the number of people employed part time for economic reasons increased by 263,000 to 4.6 million

Job gains occurred in professional and business services (54,000), healthcare (26,000), transportation and warehousing (8,000), construction (+23,000), manufacturing (+18,000), and mining (6,000) while leisure and hospitality showed little change (-17,000). Prior to September, employment had shown an upward trend, however Hurricane Florence might have had an impact on the number of jobs for this industry. Employment in other major industries, including wholesale trade, retail trade information, financial activities and government, showed little to no change over the month.

In September, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 8 cents to $27.24. Over the course of the year, average hourly earnings had risen by 73 cents or 2.8 percent.

With the impact of Hurricane Florence affecting parts of the East Coast during the reference periods in September for the establishment and household surveys, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will be releasing the state estimates of employment and unemployment on October 19, 2018 at 10:00am (EDT).  

October 04, 2018

Work Addiction and Stress

People get addicted to all sorts of things that aren’t good for them: smoking, drinking, drugs, food. You don’t even need to like something to form an addiction to it—you just need to experience it consistently enough that it becomes your “normal”. We all stress at some point or another and that’s never going to change—it’s just a part of life.

Work related stress somehow makes us feel accomplished and successful. Without the daily rush of adrenaline created by stress, we don’t quite feel like we’ve done enough. This work style has reached epidemic proportions and we don’t need a study to see that. Just listen to the conversations that are happening in your day-to-day surroundings.

If you can answer yes to more than one of the following questions, you are likely addicted to stress and in need of some thoughtful change:

  1. Do you thrive better under pressure?
  2. Is all your time consumed with tasks?
  3. Do you find yourself complaining a lot?
  4. Do you move on autopilot from one activity to another?
  5. Do you find it difficult to turn your brain off when it’s time for bed?

While you are likely doing a fabulous job at getting all the things done that need to be done, the long-term side-effects that unmanaged stress can have on your health can be quite dangerous. The body reacts similarly to stress as it does to drugs and have been shown to have such side effects as elevated blood pressure, increased heart rate, migraines, depression and even loss of brain cells. Unmanaged stress has also been linked to a higher risk of cancer and heart disease—ultimately taking years off our lives. Whatever we experience in our minds eventually manifests itself in the body so it’s important to recognize when you are feeling stressed and make positive changes to ensure you don’t cause yourself long-term health issues.  

As with any addiction, the first step in recovery is recognizing that you are addicted. Most addicts know the consequences of their behaviors but simply can’t bring themselves to come down from the adrenaline rush. Many of us thrive on stress—the crunch of a deadline, the nonstop emails that hit our inbox, the countless meetings to prepare for, the list goes on and on. We convince ourselves that with such busy schedules and extreme workloads that there’s no way we can succeed if we slow down. One of the challenges in stress management is fighting our tendency to be pulled back into the adrenaline rush but the good news is that there are ways to break this unhealthy cycle once and for all. Techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, taking a walk, yoga and massage have all been shown to be quiet effective when done regularly.

Work addiction, often called workaholism, is a real problem and like any other addiction hard to break but if you commit to breaking your addiction to stress at work and take the time to appreciate what you’re working so hard to accomplish, you’ll be more focused, more creative and more productive.

October 02, 2018

Investigations in the Nonprofit Workplace

As a nonprofit leader, you have an obligation to approach “harassment” with three key factors in mind— prevention, investigation and willingness to address. Investigations of harassment in the workplace can come in many shapes and sizes, meaning they can originate from a wide variety of topics—such as discrimination, substance abuse, harassment or workplace safety. While each investigation can be different and may have different formalities attached to it—standards should be in place to ensure a thorough investigation is applied to each incident.

It is important to respond immediately when an allegation of harassment surfaces. This can help prevent any new acts from taking place and will help with maintaining the trust of your employees. At the same point, you should be reaching out for professional guidance to ensure that all aspects of a harassment claim is carried out appropriately—reaching out to your insurance carrier to provide a “notice of a potential claim.” This is a common move for nonprofits since the insurance company can offer resources and the expertise of legal counsel. Another option is hiring a third-party human resource firm that has experience with handling harassment investigations. Lastly, a nonprofit may decide to handle the investigation in house utilizing its’ own staff with guidance from various legal resources.

Each investigation should be handled promptly, documented, thorough and remain confidential. Your nonprofit should always aim for consistency and consider how to best provide “due process.” This also includes, informing those involved with the outcome of the investigation once it has concluded. Being transparent about the outcome, actions or steps being taken to address a situation, will give your nonprofit the opportunity to demonstrate follow through of its own policies, while remaining confidential and maintaining privacy for those involved.

As a nonprofit, you are required to maintain the safety of your employees by creating a safe working environment—and with that comes the responsibility of acting promptly when approached with a harassment claim. Whether it’s the CEO or an associate being investigated, it should be carried out in the same manner and properly conducted. This will determine that the appropriate policies are in place and encourage fair outcomes for all employees involved.  

September 28, 2018

Better Together – A Partner Spotlight on the Ohio Council of Behavioral Health & Family Services Providers

A UST partner since 2000, the Ohio Council of Behavioral Health & Family Services Providers is a statewide trade and advocacy association that represents 150 private organizations that provide alcohol and other drug addiction, mental health, and family services. 

Established in 1979, the Ohio Council is funded through member dues as well as various products and services and membership training events. Committed to improving the health of Ohio’s communities and the well-being of its families, the Ohio Council offers four core sets of services that include:

  • Policy and legislative advocacy
  • Member support and technical assistance
  • Product and service development
  • Educational opportunities

The Ohio Council also has an active committee structure to ensure every aspect of their service offerings are receiving the full attention they need and include committees such as Alcohol & Drug Addiction Services Policy, Employment Services Policy, Housing Policy, Human Resources/Membership Services, Mental Health Policy, Nominating, and Youth & Family Services. Members also receive benefit programs such as legal consultation, organizational insurance, online learning and drug screening—just to name a few.

For nearly 40 years, the Ohio Council of Behavioral Health & Family Services Providers has been the go-to resource for improving the health of Ohio’s communities by promoting effective, efficient, and sufficient behavioral health and family services through member excellence and family advocacy. To learn more about the Ohio Behavioral Council visit https://www.theohiocouncil.org/.

September 27, 2018

3 Ways to Improve Your Nonprofit’s Communication Strategies

One of the most important concepts to understand when running a nonprofit is being able to see the bigger picture, such as key trends in corporate philanthropy. This allows your nonprofit to differentiate and grow it’s business while benefiting the community at the same time. Giving to others leads to growth and the more strategic you are, the more you, your company and your community will grow and thrive.

As a nonprofit leader, you run into many challenges, ranging from low funding to a limited number of employees that you’re able to keep on staff. Regardless of these daily hurdles, there are a number of ways to capitalize on the use of your current resources from a more creative yet strategic perspective to enhance your communication strategies. 

Let’s dive into a few different approaches that your nonprofit can take to branch out on communications and other marketing efforts:

1) Utilize a variety of resources to nurture relationships with your partners. The most important resource any nonprofit has is their contacts. Ensuring that you’re using the organization’s lists of contacts (partners, media contacts, members etc.) and nurturing them through each marketing channel is key and one of the most important resources for any nonprofit.  This creates more of an awareness and community around your mission and allows for continual growth with these relationships.

2) Be authentic and create original content. Since you are the biggest advocate of your organization and the mission behind it, use your knowledge and passion to create content that will allow others to connect with your brand. The use of owned media is a great way to communicate with your audience using existing channels—a monthly blog, testimonials or case studies about your members. You can also create original content to offer other shared channels—such as a guest blog article and creating this content will only require your time and will be no expense to you.

3) Gather insight from your sponsors to create relatable content. Sponsors can offer great insight when it comes to your marketing efforts and in turn can help to keep your messaging authentic—allowing you to connect with the audience you want to engage. Creating a consistent message across all marketing materials is important for your brand, your mission and to help you stand out amongst all the noise.

Nonprofits offer a sense of community for their many volunteers, donors, and members. These are the individuals that are the passion behind an organization and want to see your nonprofit succeed. The use of your resources will help you ensure that your current marketing efforts and communications are providing optimal return and are reaching the audiences you want to connect with.