May 11, 2017

Employee Engagement Remains Abysmal

There’s no denying that employee engagement numbers have been abysmal for the last few years but did you know that the engagement needle hasn’t moved in sixteen years? Disengaged employees are still leaving their jobs and while there are numerous reasons why, the most common explanations employees give when resigning are for career growth, pay and or benefits, issues with management, company culture or job fit.

According to the recent Gallup Report, State of the American Workplace, “51% of U.S. employees say they are actively looking for a new job or watching for openings.” That means that more than half of your employees could have one foot out the door already. And with hiring on the rise, employees have good reason to feel confident about finding work elsewhere.

The key take away in this report is that “to win customers – and a bigger share of the marketplace – companies much first win the hearts and minds of their employees.” When you have disengaged employees, not only do you have a higher turnover rate but you’re also more likely to have higher incidents of workplace accidents and absences caused by stress which can ultimately greatly impact your bottom line.

In Gallup’s research, they found that the vast majority of workers in the U.S. (70%) are not reaching their full potential – a problem with significant implications for American companies.  Are your people getting the support and coaching they need to do their best? Happy and content employees that feel respected in the workplace create better quality work, greater contributions and commitment to their jobs.

Despite our best efforts, employee engagement is still a major hurdle for most companies. In this age of talent shortages and high turnover, it’s imperative that employers understand what truly drives their staff’s satisfaction levels and which factors influence their departures. Few things are as costly and disruptive as good people walking out the door. Losing an employee means bearing the costs of recruiting, hiring, training and lost productivity all of which can wreak havoc on your day-to-day business operations.

Your approach to employee engagement should be tying into the most common reasons for employee resignations. If you want your best people to stay, you need to think carefully not just about how you develop them but about how you keep them wanting to stay. It’s been proven time and time again that engaged employees have lower turnover, lower absenteeism, higher productivity and higher profitability. It’s time to step up your employee engagement plan.

May 09, 2017

HR Question: Employee Handbook Guidelines on Salary Discussions

Question: Can we include language in our handbook that limits and/or prohibits employees from discussing their pay and other incentives with each other?

Answer: While employers expect their employees to be professionals and not discuss their pay or other perquisites with others, it is not a best practice to add a policy or language to your employee handbook prohibiting or limiting employee discussion about pay or incentives. For instance, the federal National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), enforced by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), specifically provides that employees cannot be prohibited from discussing compensation and other working conditions because such discussions are protected concerted activity under the law.

Further, the federal Department of Labor released a fact sheet detailing how pay secrecy increases an employer’s risks for liability in equal pay claims. Finally, it is important that you research local or state laws to ensure compliance with this delicate legal issue.

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.

May 03, 2017

UST Nonprofit Members Utilized Over $1.1 Million in ThinkHR Resources Last Year

The Unemployment Services Trust (UST), the nation’s largest and lowest cost unemployment Trust provider, today announced that last year alone it helped 2,200+ nonprofits save more than $1.1 million dollars in human resources services through its value-added HR Workplace add-on.

The UST HR Workplace powered by ThinkHR empowers nonprofit HR professionals with the guidance they need to be more effective and efficient in their jobs. By providing expert HR advice, thousands of HR templates, hundreds of training courses and an award-winning online library for all workplace concerns, the UST HR Workplace gives nonprofits the knowledge they need to avoid costly risks and liability issues.

“Maintaining risks in the workplace is crucial to any organization but specifically for the nonprofit sector where one unexpected risk can put the organization in a situation they’re unprepared for,” said Donna Groh, Executive Director of UST, “ThinkHR helps nonprofit HR professionals avoid costly litigation with the tools available to them through use of ThinkHR Live, Comply and Learn.”

Staying on top of the latest HR laws and educating employees on organizational policies can help mitigate volatile unemployment claims and reduce costs long-term. Last year alone, UST members took nearly 5,000 online training courses and submitted close to 1,500 HR questions. The most popular resources utilized included Workplace Safety and Harassment Prevention training, Compliance and compensation inquiries, the Employee Handbook Builder and downloadable HR forms.

The UST HR Workplace has been a go-to resource for UST’s participating nonprofit employers since its launch in 2014 and is a priceless support system that helps to save time and money – offered at no additional cost to UST members.

Nonprofits can get a free 30-day trial of the UST HR Workplace powered by ThinkHR by visiting http://www.chooseust.org/thinkhr/.

About UST http://www.chooseust.org/thinkhr/ Founded in 1983, the Unemployment Services Trust UST provides 501c3s with a cost-effective alternative to paying state unemployment taxes. UST participants save millions annually through claims management, hearing representation, claim audits, outplacement services and HR support. Join more than 2,200 nonprofits nationwide and request an Unemployment Cost Analysis at www.ChooseUST.org.
May 03, 2017

[Podcast] Searching for Your Nonprofit’s New Top-Notch Executive


Through the Noise recently spoke with Pamela Kaul, President at Association Strategies, Inc., to discuss how nonprofits can attract the best-fit candidates when searching for a new executive to head their organization.

Podcast Description:  This podcast discusses how most people can effectively talk about their company, but need to significantly improve upon how they talk about themselves—a skill that is crucial to advancing to and maintaining executive level status. The Founder and President of Association Strategies, Inc., Pamela offers three decades of experience in executive search, transition management and organization development.

Association Strategies, Inc. ASI is a premier executive search and transition management firm dedicated to finding and placing top notch talent in trade associations, professional societies, and nonprofit organizations worldwide. To learn more about Association Strategies, Inc., visit their website at http://www.assnstrategies.com/.

Listen to Podcast: http://throughthenoise.us/mediacast/250-association-strategies-pamela-kaul/

To stay up-to-date on the latest best practice tips and cost-saving ideas just for nonprofits, sign up for UST’s monthly eNews today!
May 03, 2017

Exercising Your Nonprofit’s Tax Alternative Could Mean Thousands in Savings

Recently, your nonprofit received its first quarter unemployment tax notice from the state.

Have you ever wondered about the gap between what you pay in taxes and what your former employees actually collect in unemployment benefits? Last year, after evaluating more than 185 eligible nonprofit organizations, UST found they were losing a combined $4,781,957.

By Federal law, 501c3 nonprofits do not have to pay state unemployment insurance taxes.

UST helps organizations like yours to keep more money in the nonprofit community without compromising the benefits paid out to deserving former employees. More than 2,200 organizations are already benefiting from a safe, cost-effective way to exercise their unemployment tax exemption and lower the hidden costs of HR, like hours spent filing paperwork.

If you’re a tax-rated nonprofit employer with 10+ employees or already direct reimbursing, please submit the online Unemployment Cost Analysis form and UST will readily determine whether you can save valuable time and money with their program. If you are currently overpaying, a UST Cost Advisor will provide you a custom two-year savings projection for free.

It only takes about 15 minutes to fill out the form—and UST participants often see savings of up to 60%—so we really encourage you to do it today.

When you join UST, you’ll be introduced to your dedicated Unemployment Claims Advisor, and receive access to a live HR hotline and nearly 300 employee training courses within 48 hours. To expedite your free Cost Analysis, go to www.ChooseUST.org/savings-evaluation and enter Priority Code: 2017BLOG.
May 03, 2017

Free Webinar: HR Compliance Impact with Washington’s First Moves

Are you keeping up with the Trump administration’s quick moves to change laws, enforcement actions and regulations to support business and our economy?

Presented by ThinkHR, this on-demand webinar explores President Trump’s first 100 days in office. The presentation will address issues and questions about rescinded Executive Orders, regulatory enforcement agenda changes and legislative moves that could impact your nonprofit’s business operations.

Discover what you need to know and should be doing relating to:
 
  • Wage and hour changes
  • Benefits and time off programs
  • Immigration
  • OSHA and safety
  • Other work-related rules


Watch the webinar recording today: http://links.thinkhr.com/Q0FW0oT0Kj1Rn0Wf900v9S0

Want access to more HR-certified webinar opportunities and a live HR hotline? Visit www.chooseust.org/thinkhr/ to sign up for a FREE 30-day trial of the UST HR Workplace, powered by ThinkHR.
May 03, 2017

UST Uncovers $4.7 Million in Potential Unemployment Claims Savings for 185 Nonprofits

The Unemployment Services Trust UST, a program founded by nonprofits for nonprofits, today announced it has identified $4,781,957 in potential unemployment liability savings for 185 eligible nonprofits.

By exercising their exclusive nonprofit tax alternative, as allowed by Federal law, 501c3 organizations participating with UST have the ability to pay only for their own unemployment claims, which can save them thousands annually. Because they are no longer subsidizing for-profit companies in the state tax system, and are receiving expert claims guidance, UST members can efficiently manage their unemployment claims while mitigating liability.

“Within the last three years, UST has identified over $16 million in potential unemployment claims savings for hundreds of nonprofits across the United States,” said Donna Groh, Executive Director of UST. “It’s incredibly rewarding to know that the UST program continues to provide financial relief to such hard-working nonprofits and the communities they serve.”

In addition to offering claims support, UST also help nonprofits cut costs further by helping organization streamline their workforce and avoid costly legal fees with robust HR resources built into its program.  These expert tools, including the live HR hotline, online job description builder and award-winning outplacement services, provide UST participants the extra bandwidth they need to strengthen their missions.

As the largest, lowest-cost trust nationwide, UST helps 501c3 organizations save valuable time and money through a host of workforce management solutions that include – unemployment claims management, cash flow protection, certified HR assistance, outplacement services and more.  With the ability to find hidden savings for both tax-rated and direct reimbursing employers, UST encourages nonprofits with 10 or more employees to benchmark their costs.
May 03, 2017

Bad Managers Aren’t Good for Business

Few things are as costly and disruptive as good people turning in their resignation. Finding qualified, motivated and reliable employees can be challenge enough but retaining them once hired can often be just as taxing. In order to prevent good employees from wanting to exit, companies and managers need to understand what they’re doing that contributes to an employees’ departure because people don’t typically leave jobs, they leave managers.

Many managers lack fundamental training in managing people. More importantly, they lack the values, sensitivity, and awareness needed to interact effectively with their staff which affects the company as a whole and causes the bottom line to suffer.
 
Let’s take a look at the type of manager behavior that send good people packing.

Micromanagement - Bosses who are always under foot and constantly requiring updates are exasperating to everyone. All managers should start out from a position of trust with their employees. Micromanaging shows a lack of trust and makes an employee feel like they can’t be counted on to do things effectively.

Failing to get to Know Employees as People – Developing a relationship with employees is a key factor in managing. Managers need to know how to balance being professional with being human. Because we spend more time at work than we do at home most days, it’s important that employees feel like they belong. Celebrating successes, both professional and person, and empathizing during hard times can go a long way.

Workload Burnout – If you want push people out the door, nothing does it better than overworking your staff and pushing the limits of excessive production. Managers tend to push their best and most talented to do more but overworking your employees is counterproductive and risky if you don’t compensate with some sort of recognition such as raises, promotions or title-changes.

Failure to Communicate – The best communication is transparent communication. Sharing as much information as possible helps to make employees feel engaged and empowered. It also opens the door for feedback, ideas and suggestions which every company should encourage.

Don’t Recognize Good Work – Everyone likes a pat on the back every now and then and it’s the managers’ responsibility to reward a job well done. It can be as simple as verbal recognition, a small token of acknowledgement such as a gift card for coffee or as grand as a raise or promotion.

Failure to Develop Skills – Talented employees are always looking to learn something new and missing the mark on this one can cause your best people to grow bored and complacent. If you take away their ability to improve, it not only limits them, it limits you too.

If you want your best people to stay, you need to think carefully not just about how you develop them but about how you treat them. Cultivating happiness and good will through methodical efforts will help to avoid any unnecessary losses.
May 03, 2017

On-Demand Training: Introduction to COA Accreditation

Don’t miss out on this NEW self-paced training to introduce you and your nonprofit team to COA Accreditation.

Presented by The Council on Accreditation COA, a nonprofit accreditor of human services organizations, this on-demand training is designed for people with little or no knowledge about COA.

The webinar will provide participants with a better understanding of:
 
  • The key concepts that define COA
  • The elements of COA’s accreditation process and standards
  • And more!


Watch the webinar recording today: bit.ly/2kDwGhh

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!
May 02, 2017

HR Question: Non-Paid Positions

Question: We are offering non-paid positions volunteer work to interns working at the office on research projects, collecting data and conducting study projects. What liabilities do we need to be aware of as these volunteer interns will be working on company premises?

Answer: One of the primary issues you face is in paying or not paying your interns. The Fair Labor Standards Act FLSA, which sets standards for the basic minimum wage and overtime pay, affects most private and public employment. Covered and nonexempt individuals who are “suffered or permitted” to work must be compensated under the law for the services they perform for an employer. Internships in the for-profit private sector will most often be viewed as employment, unless the test described below relating to trainees is met.

Interns in the for-profit private sector who qualify as employees rather than trainees typically must be paid at least the minimum wage as well as overtime compensation for hours worked over 40 in a workweek.

Test for Unpaid Interns

The determination of whether an internship or training program meets this exclusion depends upon all of the facts and circumstances, and the following six criteria must be applied when making this determination:
 
  • 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.
  • The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern.
  • The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff this is the test that shows the intern is not answering phones, delivering mail, filling in for an absent employee, etc., and that the intern is doing work that is for his or her benefit and not necessarily for the benefit of the employer.
  • 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.
  • The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship.
  • The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.


If all of the above factors are met, an employment relationship likely does not exist under the FLSA, and the act’s minimum wage and overtime provisions do not apply to the intern. This exclusion from the definition of employment is necessarily quite narrow because the FLSA’s definition of “employ” is very broad.

Important: As of May 25, 2016, the Second Circuit New York, Vermont, and Connecticut and the Eleventh Circuit Alabama, Georgia, and Florida have rejected the Department of Labor’s six-factor test and have adopted the “primary beneficiary” relationship test, which takes into account the economic reality between the intern and the employer. The primary beneficiary relationship test has seven factors:
 
  1. The extent to which the intern and the employer clearly understand that there is no expectation of compensation. Any promise of compensation, express or implied, suggests that the intern is an employee — and vice versa.
  2. The extent to which the internship provides training that would be similar to that which would be given in an educational environment, including the clinical and other hands-on training provided by educational institutions.
  3. The extent to which the internship is tied to the intern’s formal education program by integrated coursework or the receipt of academic credit.
  4. The extent to which the internship accommodates the intern’s academic commitments by corresponding to the academic calendar.
  5. The extent to which the internship’s duration is limited to the period in which the internship provides the intern with beneficial learning.
  6. The extent to which the intern’s work complements, rather than displaces, the work of paid employees while providing significant educational benefits to the intern.
  7. The extent to which the intern and the employer understand that the internship is conducted without entitlement to a paid job at the conclusion of the internship.


In examining these factors, no one factor is dispositive and courts should weigh the factors to determine the appropriate result depending upon the facts before them. The factors are also not exhaustive and, in certain situations, additional evidence may be appropriate to consider.

Here is our practical advice before you hire an intern:
 
  • Develop an intern policy and define the job carefully so that both parties are clear about job duties and expectations. This reduces misunderstandings that can lead to lawsuits. The policy should define the basic internship program, such as compensation structure or the fact that interns will be unpaid, eligibility requirements, and the intern’s at-will status. Make sure the policy does not establish what could be viewed as a legally binding contract. Never infer the promise of employment for a specified period.
  • Define supervisory roles and supervisor/intern evaluations. Reliable supervision is the key to preventing problems, including injuries, discriminatory actions, and performance failings. Make sure all supervisors know who is overseeing the work of each intern.
  • If possible, obtain formal documentation from the intern’s college explaining the educational relevance of the internship if the intern will earn credits.
  • Ask whether the school provides liability insurance to cover damage caused by a student. Many schools carry the coverage. Also, if the company has employment practices liability insurance, check whether it extends to interns.


Once the intern is on board:
 
  • Manage interns as closely as employees, if not more so. The company can be held responsible for the actions of any workers, including unpaid interns, while they are performing work for the company. Courts will view interns like employees, as “agents” of the company.
  • To ensure interns are paid correctly, maintain time records. To avoid the possibility of FLSA violations, companies who find themselves in the position of “employer” should ensure their interns accurately capture and are paid for all of their hours of work.
  • Apply the company’s workplace policies to interns, for both consistency and good positive employee relations reasons. Interns who are considered employees have all of the legal protections regular employees have, and even unpaid interns may be able to pursue claims under Title IX, which bans sex discrimination in “any education program” or pursue common-law job-bias claims, such as infliction of emotional distress.
May 02, 2017

Delivering Your Mission Beyond the Web

The web emerged, in the 1990s and provided endless possibilities of engaging potential customers through communication and interaction – a pivotal moment for the nonprofit community.

Since its inception, audiences have come to expect a different kind of experience of being fully embedded in the life of an organization through the worldwide web.  Organizations quickly came face-to-face with not only technical and operational issues but content barriers as well, all of which were far more difficult to overcome than expected. Organizations were also dealing with trying to figure out how to remain relevant to audiences looking to the web for their information and quickly learned that their standard marketing materials did not translate to the web. This required organizations not just to repackage what they were producing but also create new ways to transform how audiences receive, process, and interact with content.

The growth of social media over the last several decades has been boundless and continues to grow by staggering leaps. How we communicate with our audience changes on a constant basis and we are forced to adapt quickly. Just pushing a message won’t create a relationship but you are uniquely qualified to provide the perspective and guidance that your potential clients are looking for by creating public value and promoting an intuitive understanding of what your organization is about.

Building a mission-delivery engine requires a thoughtful process and the ability to create dynamic content to meet the needs of your audience. Organizations that know its greatest resource is its understanding of what its audience wants is the stepping stone to successful engagement.

Some helpful tips:
 
  1. Rethink your nonprofits programming strategy and enhance the relevancy of the organization
  2. Create partnerships within your network to help build content and potential audience members
  3. Reach out to stakeholders to solidify partnerships and secure long-term engagement and support
  4. Engage all facets of your organization to create an engine that delivers and communicates value
  5. Utilize the web’s ability to encourage interaction and dialogue, creating ways to tear down the boundaries between your nonprofit and the nonprofit audience
  6. Enrich the conversation by offering opportunities to participate and share ideas

The web is central to how we enable, activate, and resource our mission. With multiple points of views and supporters, we’re enabling results that form something new. Get back to the possibilities that originally inspired us about the web and be intentional by providing a space on the web in which your audience’s needs are met.
May 02, 2017

Recruiting and Hiring: Get the Recipe for the Secret Sauce

What is top-of-mind for almost every HR practitioner in 2017? Recruiting and hiring and getting the recipe right to be successful.

It’s a competitive world for hiring managers and no one wants to get chopped or leave out a key ingredient.

Presented by ThinkHR, this on-demand webinar cooks up ideas and best practices for:
 
  • Creating a great applicant experience from first impression to hire
  • Short-term hiring (including summer interns)
  • Creating and implementing inventive interview questions and interpreting the answers
  • Onboarding communications

Watch the webinar recording today: http://links.thinkhr.com/o01iW00al00fSK09oWT9nR0

This webinar offers 1 HRCI and 1 SHRM-approved credit. Want access to more HR-certified webinar opportunities and a live HR hotline? Visit www.chooseust.org/thinkhr/ to sign up for a FREE 30-day trial of the UST HR Workplace, powered by ThinkHR.
May 02, 2017

Steady Job Growth Continues in February

February proved to be another strong month for job growth with employers adding an additional 235,000 workers to their payrolls, more than the 200,000 expected. Additionally, the original 246,000 positions reported in January were revised upward to 261,000.

The unemployment rate dipped slightly to 4.7% in February, down from 4.9 percent a year earlier and the number of persons employed part time for economic reasons was little changed at 5.7 million.Both the labor force participation rate (63%) and the employment-population ratio (60%) also showed little change for the month. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged at 1.8 million in February and accounted for 23.8 percent of the unemployed. Over the year, the number of long-term unemployed was down by 358,000.

Job gains occurred in construction (+58,000), professional and business services (+37,000), private educational services (+29,000), manufacturing (+28,000), health care (+27,000), and mining (+8,000) while retail trade employment edged down in February (-26,000), following a gain of 40,000 in the month prior. Employment in other major industries, including wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, leisure and hospitality, and government, showed little to no change over the month.

In February, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 6 cents to $26.09, following a 5-cent increase in January. After years of stagnant wage growth, average hourly earnings have risen by 71 cents over the year.

With the unemployment rate at levels the Federal Reserve considers to be full employment and the blockbuster report on job gains, the path is clear for the Fed to raise its benchmark interest rates next week when they meet again.
May 02, 2017

Making the Most of Your Staff’s Diversity

Have you ever critiqued a coworker because of their overbearing tendencies or their abrasive personality? Don’t worry… you’re not alone in your frustrations. However, learning to dissect and identify your own and others’ personality traits can actually increase work ethic and strengthen internal relationships—paving the way for a stronger organization overall.

For nonprofits, employees’ collaborative efforts are often the key element to mission advancement.  But clashing personalities working toward the same goal can lead to resentment and impatience in the work place.

Learning to recognize and understand others’ personality strengths and weaknesses can help you appreciate the diverse environment you work in.  Specifically, nonprofits can take advantage of their diversity when it comes to improving their employment procedures and ensuring ongoing structural soundness.

Basic working styles can often be separated into 4 general categories:

  1. Learning—Learners are the researchers.  Unable to quench their thirst for knowledge, learners are constantly looking for the root of current and potential problems.  For instance, with regard to your organization’s employment practices, learners can help analyze the strengths and weaknesses of your workforce, analyze how better documentation and standardized hiring practices can lead to a stronger, more long-term labor force.
  2. Loving—These individuals are known for their relationship building abilities. They tend to show empathy and kindness towards others and understand how to approach difficult situations with grace. Spreading optimism throughout the office can help your nonprofit maintain a “glass-half-full” outlook on everyday work problems. Internal positivity and support alleviates stress during unanticipated budget or employee loss—providing you with a sense of security and consistency.
  3. Doing—Doers are known to execute and accomplish set goals. They thrive on lists, deadlines, and projects. For example, by utilizing this focus and attention to detail, nonprofits can analyze and restructure their training and continued education opportunities—leading to greater time efficiency and overall HR effectiveness.
  4. Leading—Leaders create and persuade by providing your employees with the tools to succeed.  Able to paint a picture of their visions, using innovation and passion, leaders are able to easily rally support behind their ideas. Great leaders inspire employees to constantly push themselves and take calculated chances to further your nonprofits’ mission. With each leader setting the bar even higher for the next, your nonprofit will be on track for upward mobility and constant procedural refinement.


Whichever working style team members possess doesn’t really matter by itself.  What most affects a nonprofit’s success is the compilation of strengths your team brings to the table and your team’s ability to successfully work together as a cohesive unit. As long as you understand and utilize everyone’s unique abilities, pertinent to your team’s progress, your nonprofit will continue to flourish.
May 02, 2017

[Podcast] Board Recruitment

Through the Noise recently spoke with Jeff De Cagna, Executive Advisor at Foresight First LLC, to discuss the way you think about board recruitment, management, and collaboration. Listen below or check out the full library of podcasts here.

Podcast Description: This podcast discusses how nonprofit organizations might be missing a crucial opportunity for growth and relevance by underutilizing their boards. Jeff De Cagna is an author, speaker and advisor for associations and non-profit organizations across North America and around the world with decades of experience under his belt.

Foresight First LLC is a governing orientation that provides actionable insights on plausible futures by challenging association and non-profit boards to deal productively with the past so they can focus their attention on the future and pursue the generative work of transformation. To learn more about Foresight First LLC, visit their website at www.foresightfirst.io.

Listen to Podcast button- RGB

To stay up-to-date on the latest best practice tips and cost-saving ideas just for nonprofits, sign up for UST’s monthly eNews: http://www.chooseust.org/
May 01, 2017

Webinar Recording: Build a Great Safety Program

Make your “___ Days Accident Free” sign happy.

Do all your employees want to be on the safety team? Are you turning people away from your slips, trips, and falls training? Yea, we didn’t think so.

Workplace safety is important and ongoing, yet it’s tough to get employees excited and to stay on top of safety plans, regardless of the industry you’re in. Presented by ThinkHR’s workplace trends expert Don Phin, this on-demand webinar provides insight on the many ways to revamp or create a new safety plan.

In this webinar, Don discusses:
 
  • The importance of OSHA training and regular safety inspections
  • Creating and implementing a safety plan
  • Getting your employees excited about safety


Watch the webinar recording today: http://links.thinkhr.com/A20b09KT10W9fSn00R0C0oW

This webinar offers 1 HRCI and 1 SHRM-approved credit. Want access to more HR-certified webinar opportunities and a live HR hotline? Visit www.chooseust.org/thinkhr/ to sign up for a FREE 30-day trial of the UST HR Workplace, powered by ThinkHR.
May 01, 2017

HR Question: Employees That Are Always “On”

Question: Generally our employees are “always on”, meaning they check work emails and communication with co-workers/supervisors via smartphones during all hours. Some are beginning to feel overwhelmed. Any suggestions how on to handle?

Answer: Although employers may see the “always on” employee as highly productive, the constant state of being readily available can leave employees feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. To combat this struggle, employers may:

  • Elect to simplify the workplace and clearly outline expectations of employees during non-working hours.
  • Implement more flexible workplace standards encouraging employees to take time off and teach employees how to prioritize the constant flow of work.
  • Employees inundated with information overload will benefit from streamlined information that is easy to understand and apply.
  • Teach employees how to delegate tasks and help employees learn new skills to manage their time so as to decrease the sense of a “workaholic” environment.
  • Outsource tasks to free up employee time.
  • Direct supervisors to not send employees emails after standard working hours so as to put employees more at ease and not feel the pressure to always answer and be “always on.”
Note: The application of any new or existing workplace policy must be applied consistently and without discrimination throughout the workforce.

Q&A provided by ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace for nonprofit HR teams. Have HR questions?
February 10, 2017

5 Enviable Traits of Top Nonprofit Employer

You may think that a decent wage and working for a mission matters most to nonprofit workers, but there are key things that the best nonprofit employers do to give their staff that extra boost – helping retain them longer and providing a more satisfactory workplace.
Here are our top 5 organizational traits that make a nonprofit the best place to work:

1. Give them room to grow. Employees need to know their duties and their responsibilities are recognized, and that there is a clear path to growth. Recognizing those employees that are eager to take on more can help you craft an upward moving path for them. And remember it’s okay to ask! What do they see themselves doing? What can they offer? Letting them feel involved in their own future gives them confidence in themselves and their leaders.

2. Have mentors. The next leaders are already in our midst. Giving them the tools they need – direct from the experts – is pertinent to maintaining a strong nonprofit sector. Who’s better than leaders within your own organization to provide this? Sometimes assigning a formal mentor to an employee is necessary to build this type of relationship. Consulting with your executives and even executives at other organizations as to who they can stand by and provide career direction, might just open some doors to some true talent development.

3. Ensure a fair workplace. Limited HR staff often means nonprofits are “winging it” when it comes to applying workplace rules. But are the rules fair, and more importantly, do they follow the law? You might think closing the office for a week during Christmas is okay if you require employees to work Saturdays leading up to the holiday (this is a true story), but that would be classified as overtime and not paying them appropriately could cause a damaging lawsuit for your organization. Wrongful terminations are another big source of costly legal exposure.

4. Train your managers to be the best. Employee satisfaction often starts with having the right guidance. Training your managers to be great managers helps provide the framework for the entire organization. People often leave managers, not companies… and because good leaders aren't born (they're created), providing leadership education and management-skill training is vital to helping build the leadership an organization needs to retain employees. UST offers 200+ free online training courses for managers and employees when you join the UST Program, which is exclusive to nonprofit organizations.

5. Acknowledge they have lives outside of work. As an employer you might think your role starts and stops during the 9-5 job. But recognizing that life-work balance is important, and giving employees options like flexible hours, working from home occasionally, discounted gym memberships or sponsorship of activities like registration in a race or creating a softball team, can help foster more happiness and productivity at work. With many for-profit companies making these types of moves, it’s important to recognize how the nonprofit sector can provide equally satisfactory jobs for workers. There are all kinds of ways nonprofits make a difference for their employees. Tell us some of your ways on facebook!
February 07, 2017

The New Year Starts off Strong with Employment Gains

Employers added 227,000 jobs in January, exceeding economists’ expectations and marking the 76th consecutive month of job growth. This extends the record streak of job creation in the US and could reflect an economy that is approaching full employment.

Both the number of unemployed persons, at 7.6 million, and the unemployment rate, at 4.8 percent, were little changed from the prior month. The labor-force participation rate – Americans who had a job or were looking for one - ticked up to 62.9 percent from 62.7 percent in December, but it is still near its lowest level since the late 1970s.

The underemployment rate – people that are unemployed plus those who work part-time – rose 0.2 percent in January. Though the rate has fallen considerably in recent years, this is its highest level since October and nearly twice the level of the official jobless rate. Long-term unemployment – Americans out of work longer than six months – remains elevated at 24.4 percent.

America added 46,000 jobs in retail trade while construction rose by 36,000 and financial activities gained 32,000 jobs. Employment in health care also continued to trend up in January with an additional 18,000 positions being filled. Employment in other major industries, including mining, manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, and information and government, showed little to no change over the month.

In January, average hourly earnings rose by 3-cents, following a 6-cent increase in December. Over the year, average hourly wages have risen by 2.5 percent, a sign of continued momentum from last year.

While this is the first jobs report to be released under the Trump administration, the survey was conducted weeks before the Presidential Inauguration so no doubt all of America will be watching closely to see how the state of unemployment starts to unfold.

January 30, 2017

[Podcast] How Digital Strategy Enables Nonprofit Growth

Through the Noise interviewed Kiki L’Italien, CEO & Founder of Amplified Growth, to provide nonprofit employers the latest digital marketing tips they need to reach and engage current and potential members. Listen below or check out the full library of podcasts.

Podcast Description: This podcast discusses why it’s important to understand and utilize SEO and SEM—search engine optimization and search engine marketing—when looking to amplify your nonprofit’s voice. Kiki L’Italien explains how to get to know who you are trying to reach, where they spend their time, and how to meet them where they are.

Amplified Growth is a DC-based digital marketing consultancy specializing in SEO, social media, and content strategy for associations and commercial clients. To learn more about Amplified Growth, visit their website at http://www.amplifiedgrowth.net.

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January 27, 2017

Tips for Training and Welcoming New Employees

Transitioning into a new job with a new boss in an entirely new environment can be one of the biggest transitions we experience as an adult. It is often an exciting time but also comes with a blend of emotions reminiscent of the first day of school.

First-time impressions are everything from both the perspective of the employer as well as the new employee. Training is a key component when welcoming new staff and can go a long way if done right. Some ways to help a new employee adjust:

1. All Inclusive Tour. The standard company tour is an essential part of a new hires first day on the job but including the unexpected such as a stroll to local hotspots - the best coffee house or favorite lunch spot - will help ease new employees’ nerves by allowing them to unwind a bit and will help in making them feel more welcome.

2. Make Connections. Meeting a dozen people in one day can be overwhelming so break down introductions over the first week and by departments. Include a cheat sheet that includes some background information on each person with names, titles and any known tidbits - favorite baseball team, hobbies, etc. This will also help to kick-start the process of building relationships.

3. Wine and Dine. Make sure new employees have lunch plans the first few days on the job. Once with you and then with other members of the team they’ll be working closely with or even with other members in the office that you think they should meet. Again this will make them feel welcome and at ease rather than sitting alone and feeling awkward.

4. Provide Resources. Have a Welcome Guide with checklists, sample documents, FAQs and a list of go-to-resources that will help new hires get acclimated before they're off and running. Things like annual reports, marketing plans, the company newsletter and internal contact numbers for tech support and human resources among others. Easy-to-digest information that isn’t over-whelming helps to ease the stress associated with the transition.

5. Make Yourself Available. When faced with a steep learning curve anyone can get frustrated so make yourself available. Starting a new position is stressful enough, so making time to check in can make all the difference in the world. A no-fail way to make an employee feel like a part of the team is by making them feel comfortable in their new environment.

There’s no debate over the nerves associated with starting a new job so the more time you devote in the beginning, the faster you’ll have an at ease team member who feels welcome and wants to stay.

January 20, 2017

Webinar Recording: It's Time to Update Your Employee Handbook

Are you dreading updating your employee handbook? You’re not alone! Most of today’s HR professionals can agree that employee handbooks can be a handful.

Presented by ThinkHR, this on-demand webinar will cover some best practices for creating an employee handbook. This one-hour presentation will go into detail about:

  • Content every handbook should have plus content you might want to include and why
  • How handbooks can help maintain a vibrant company culture
  • New laws that impact employer policies
  • How the Trump Administration may impact employer policies

Watch the webinar recording today: http://links.thinkhr.com/O0y0S9nW0100WKRC0G09eoT

This webinar offers 1 HRCI and 1 SHRM-approved credit. Want access to more HR-certified webinar opportunities and a live HR hotline? Visit www.chooseust.org/thinkhr/ to sign up for a FREE 30-day trial of the UST HR Workplace, powered by ThinkHR.

January 17, 2017

HR Question: Time Off for Religious Holidays

Question: We do not give our staff floating holidays and only observe 10 holidays per year. How do we allow for staff who observe various religious holidays the time to do so, without giving them more personal time than staff who do not?

Answer: Employers are required to accommodate time off for religious practice, but are not required to pay for the time off. For employees who are nonexempt, the company should work with the employee to determine how much time off will be needed, and decide whether they will require the employee to use his or her available personal time off (PTO) before taking the unpaid time off for religious accommodation. It is important to note that although your policy needs to be applied consistently, different religions will require different amounts of accommodation. As a result, your pay practices should be consistent and aligned with the requirements of the religion. If employees requiring religious accommodation are exempt and taking partial days off, deductions may be made from their accrued paid time off banks and they must be paid their full salary according to FLSA rules.

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.

December 22, 2016

[Free Webinar] New Year, New President, New HR Challenges

President-elect Trump’s agenda for employment law is still being formulated, but one thing is certain: change is coming. Business managers and HR practitioners need to be ready, and we can help.

Presented by ThinkHR, this webinar will explore the practical impacts employers need to know now in the following areas:
  • Affordable Care Act regulations and reporting
  • Immigration status verification and reporting
  • Wage and hour changes EEOC enforcement and reporting activity
  • Paid family leave
  • And more!

When: Two dates available (Thursday, January 5th or Tuesday, January 10th at 8:30 am PDT)

Register: http://pages.thinkhr.com/HR-in-2017-Webinar.html

Register Now

This webinar offers 1 HRCI and 1 SHRM professional development credit. Want access to more HR-certified webinar opportunities and a live HR hotline? Visit www.chooseust.org/thinkhr/ and sign up for a FREE 30-day trial of the UST HR Workplace, powered by ThinkHR.

December 14, 2016

7 Simple Steps to a Well-Balanced Work Life

With employees constantly striving to prove their invaluable skill sets, along with the rise of technological advances, employers are finding it more and more challenging to get their employees to slow down and take well-deserved breaks from their work responsibilities.

Often equipped with fewer resources and a smaller staff size, nonprofit employees tend to feel overworked and stressed out. Because high stress levels can lead to a domino effect of general workplace unhappiness and high turnover rates, it’s imperative that employers take the time to encourage a balance between their work and personal life.

Here are 7 best practices that will help your employees maintain a proper work/life balance:
 
  1. Set the example. Rather than just preaching the importance of taking time off from work, you need to take time off yourself and avoid work communications when you’re off the clock.
  2. Encourage vacations. Vacation days are meant to be used. In case your employees are too “busy” or nervous to take their allotted vacation time, make sure you let them know that you want them to take a relaxing break from the office.
  3. Have flexible work hours. If possible, allow your employees to work from home, outside or at a nearby café every now and then. You can also let them create their own work hours, rather than strictly enforcing a typical 9-5 schedule.
  4. Give time management tips. Provide training on the latest methods for organizing priorities or keeping track of both short term and long term tasks. This should help increase work efficiency and lessen the amount of time your employees work outside the office.
  5. Develop personal relationships. Ask your employees about any upcoming trips they may have or what’s new with them. Having consistent conversations with your team will help you gauge whether or not they’re feeling burnt out or overwhelmed at work.
  6. Implement interactive breaks. Whether it’s a quick game of charades or a weekly company lunch, set up fun breaks throughout each month so that your employees have something to look forward to.
  7. Ask for suggestions. No one knows what employees want more than employees themselves. Request feedback on what methods help them stay de-stressed and happy. They’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness and will respond positively when you implement their ideas.


As a supervisor, your responsibility is to make sure that your employees have the tools and positive work environment they need to efficiently work through their day-to-day tasks. Taking the time to check in with your staff and encourage a balanced lifestyle will not only help your employees stay sane, but also improve general organizational productivity and growth. ​
December 06, 2016

HR Question: Handling Employee Requests for Steep Pay Increases

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Question: One of my best employees is asking for a raise because he found salary data on the internet that he believes shows he is underpaid. How should I handle that conversation? I don’t want to lose him, but I doubt he is that underpaid.

Answer: Handling this type of discussion on such a sensitive subject can be difficult, but it is also an excellent opening for a frank conversation with that employee about his professional needs while you get direct feedback about his view of his job and the company. We recommend this approach:
 
  • Involve the employee’s manager in the discussion and have him/her lead the conversation with the employee.
  • Treat his concerns with respect and schedule time with him to discuss his issues. He may have been searching the internet for jobs as well as salary information.
  • Let him know that he is valuable to the company and you want to hear his concerns and review the salary data that he has compiled.
  • Prior to that meeting, review your company’s reason for paying the employee at his current salary. The compensation rates are probably due to a number of factors, including your compensation survey data, your internal company compensation strategy, and his performance level. For example, your company’s strategy might be to pay below market level because your benefits or time off plans are so rich.
  • If you are satisfied that you are paying him the proper compensation for this job that is aligned with all of the internal company equity considerations, then think about how you will present that information to him during the course of the conversation. If you believe that there may be some valid concerns about his level of compensation, discuss those concerns in advance with your boss and Human Resources and consider what may be done to ensure his compensation is adequate.
  • Try not to minimize the salary data that he is bringing to you to discuss. The information on the internet can be very broad, general and tied to a job title (that could be very different that what the employee is actually doing in your company) where the data your company uses is probably carefully matched to the industry and the specific job description’s duties and responsibilities.
  • You can point out that general compensation surveys can be misleading and may not consider the total compensation package being offered, especially if you have more specific information that you can share with him about how his total compensation package was derived.


During the course of these types of conversations, although compensation may be mentioned as the presenting problem, often the issue is really not that: You could find that the issues are more about the job itself, development opportunities, career goals, or other considerations. Consider the complete picture and be prepared to have a career development discussion with the employee about where he currently fits in the organization, what additional skills he may need to move his career in the direction he wants it to go, or other considerations.

The keys to these types of conversations are to treat the employee with respect and not dismiss his concerns without a good discussion of all of the relevant factors. Assure the employee that you value and respect his contributions to the business and want to do all you can as his manager to help him be productive and feel good about his contributions to the business.

This Q & A was provided by ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace—a cloud-based HR platform provided to UST members at no additional cost. If you’re a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, get your toughest HR questions answered by signing up for a free 30-day trial
December 02, 2016

Effective Executive Onboarding

Organizations can spend several months and significant resources searching for and interviewing a new executive leader. Yet, after the position is filled, the onboarding process often does not receive the same level of effort and energy as the hiring process which leaves new leaders vulnerable - a costly risk for any organization but more so for a nonprofit whose funds are already limited.

All organizations should dedicate considerable thought and resources to managing the transitions of their senior leaders. When hiring and readying top executives, having a strong onboarding program can help improve the odds of success and longevity for those individuals. Onboarding should be well-organized and tailored to your senior team so that new leaders know exactly what is expected of them and what they can expect in the weeks to come.

Onboarding programs should be systematic and essential, not organic. Having a transition timeline and Welcome Guide with checklists, sample documents, FAQs and phased transition plans provides a roadmap for the onboarding experience. Core topics should include unique aspects of the organization, company culture, team building and legal matters. Preparing easy-to-digest information that is packaged into short segments allows new leaders to personally identify the areas in which they desire additional, more in depth training.

We can’t say enough how critical planning is in equipping new leaders to successfully fulfill all expectations of them in their new roles. You can make your onboarding curriculum indispensable by leveraging the experience and wisdom of past leaders who can provide real guidance to incoming staff. Taking them on a personal tour of your organization, allows them to acquire a holistic perspective on your nonprofit and an introduction to board members as well as key partners is pivotal early on so a personal connection to the organization starts to manifest well before any first official meetings.

Don’t wait to see if a new leader can succeed with little to no preparation or support and don’t ask them to attend generic onboarding sessions such as Leadership 101. They have to view the process as an essential element and not a throwaway task.  Instead, zero in on your particular culture and the processes driving your organization and be sure to offer ongoing opportunities for learning and engagement during the executive’s first year.

Onboarding can often times be overwhelming and intense regardless of the size of your organization. Taking the time to develop a structured onboarding plan helps to ease the stress associated with transition and helps to ensure that your next nonprofit leader will have the tools necessary to succeed and continue the legacy you’ve already built.
November 29, 2016

Tips for Handling Employee Pay Issues Caused by Mother Nature

Although warmer weather is on the way for most organizations across the U.S. it's always the right season to think about how to handle employee relations and pay issues that arise when your organization is forced to close due to inclement weather.

What should an employer do? Pay employees to stay at home? After all, in most cases, they are not at work through no fault of their own. Many businesses, however, do not have the financial resources to pay employees not to work. What follows are the rules regarding paying employees who miss work due to Mother Nature, along with some practical tips. From an employee relations perspective, the more generous you can afford to be to your employees who are suffering as a result of a weather-related disaster, the better. Employees (and their families) do pay attention to how they are treated, and a little extra time off and compassion for individual circumstances can go a long way towards enhancing employee loyalty.

If the company has no power and sends employees home for the day, should they be paid? And does it matter if the employee is exempt or nonexempt?

In general, there are two sets of rules for paying employees depending upon their classification under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) as it relates to eligibility for overtime. With nonexempt employees (those eligible for overtime pay), there is no obligation under federal or state law to pay for time not worked. However, under certain state laws, employers may have an obligation to compensate nonexempt employees under call-in/reporting pay laws, especially if the employees were not advised that they should not report to work and were denied work upon arrival at the workplace.

These pay obligations vary by state. With respect to salaried exempt employees who must be paid on a “salary basis” under the FLSA, employers may not make salary deductions for absences that result from an employer’s partial-week closing of operations, including closings due to weather-related emergencies or disasters. The bottom line is that exempt employees must be paid their full salary if they perform any work in a workweek and only miss work time due to the employer’s closure of operations. Closures for a full workweek need not be paid if no work is performed.

Are these rules different if the company can tell the employee not to come to work the next day?

For nonexempt employees, if they are told in advance not to come to work and the employees stay home, then the employer is under no obligation to pay them for the time off. The employer and the employee can choose to use accrued paid time off to compensate the employee for the missed workdays.

For exempt employees, the “salary basis” rule still applies. In some cases, the employee may be working from home during the bad weather days. If state laws permit employers to do so, employers may deduct from the exempt employees’ accrued paid time off balances to resolve the issues related to “salary basis” compliance. The employer should ensure, however, that these employees have not done any work from home during the office closure prior to deducting time from the accrued paid time off bank balances.

If an employee is on Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave, do those “bad weather days” count against the employee’s 12-week allotment of time off?

The FMLA regulations are silent about bad weather office closures. However, the regulations do allow for situations when the employer’s business stops operating for a period of time and employees are not expected to come to work (plants closing for a few weeks to retool, mandatory company-wide summer vacation, etc.). In that case, the week the business is closed and no employees are reporting to work would not count against the employee’s FMLA leave entitlement. If the business is closed for a shorter period of time, the general thinking is that the FMLA regulations relating to holidays would likely apply. Under those rules, if the business is closed for a day or two during a week in which the employee is on FMLA leave, then the entire week would count against the employee’s FMLA leave entitlement. If, however, the employee is on intermittent FMLA leave, then only the days that the business is closed and the employee is expected to be at work would count against the leave entitlement.

How do we handle attendance issues where the office is open but public transportation is not available due to the weather and employees cannot come to work?

If the business remains open but employees cannot get to work because of the weather, employers will need to consider their own attendance policies and practices in determining what flexibility to give employees as it relates to attendance. Employers may encourage employees to car pool or assist them in establishing alternative methods of transportation to get to work.

Under the FLSA rules as they relate to pay, however, employers do not need to pay nonexempt employees if they perform no work. For exempt employees, if the business remains open but an employee cannot get to work because of the weather, an employer can deduct an exempt employee’s salary for a full day’s absence taken for personal reasons without jeopardizing the employee’s exempt status. Employers cannot, however, deduct an exempt employee’s salary for less than a full-day absence without jeopardizing the employee’s exempt status.

Does a company have to allow employees to work from home (exempt or nonexempt) if the office is closed due to bad weather?

No, the employer does not need to allow employee to work from home, regardless of their FLSA status (exempt or nonexempt). The employer can make those decisions based upon the work that can be done remotely and based on the needs of the business. The employer should have clearly communicated policies and expectations regarding working from home during office closures.

Be Prepared

The bottom line is that every employer should think about the needs of the business, its financial resources, and employees’ needs and have plans in place to manage business issues due to inclement weather. Thinking through what the wage and hour laws require and developing your policies and then applying them consistently and fairly with all employees can reap huge dividends in employee loyalty and retention.
November 23, 2016

[Podcast] Mergers & Acquisitions for Nonprofits

Through the Noise interviewed Melissa Panagides, Senior Manager of Management Advisory Services at BDO USA, to discuss mergers and acquisitions within the nonprofit sector. Listen below or check out the full library of podcasts here.

Podcast Description: This podcast breaks down the difficult questions that surround a company acquisition and provides expert information on how to plan ahead, manage expectations, and how to support the people within organization during this difficult time.

BDO USA, LLP is known primarily as an accounting firm. The Management Advisory team supports organizations that are going through or considering change and focus on helping organizations identify the right technology for their needs by transforming their business. In addition, they help to plan and implement mergers and acquisitions for organizations across the globe.  To learn more about BDO USA, visit their website at www.bdo.com.

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November 18, 2016

What is the General Consensus of the Nonprofit Workplace?

Great places to work actively support their associates to do their best by honing in on employees’ skills, strengths, and interests, thus maximizing their potential for growth. Having a strategic approach to talent management and an overall commitment to workplace culture has clear benefits, namely a greater level of employee engagement that leads to a significantly lower turnover rate and higher productivity.

In line with a recent Bridgespan report, the 2015 UST Nonprofit Employee Engagement & Retention Report revealed that nonprofit employees have a high level of job satisfaction and engagement—with 85% of non-supervisory respondents reporting being “Satisfied,” “Highly Satisfied” or “Extremely Satisfied.” The Bridgespan Report, which was based on a Leading Edge “Employee Engagement Survey” specific to Jewish nonprofits, showed us that there are striking similarities with nonprofit organizations in general when it comes to employee engagement regardless of sector.

Both reports show that employees are motivated first by the organizations mission. Having a clear understanding of how employees work directly contributes to advancing the company mission is key to job satisfaction and can be fostered by reinforcing a culture with mission-based accomplishments.

In descending order, the Bridgespan report listed management practices, work-life balance, advancement opportunities and good leadership as ways to keep employees engaged. This information aligns with the UST survey results that ranked job satisfaction factors as culture, flexibility, a sense of purpose in work and benefits.

It’s imperative that nonprofit organizations continue to educate themselves on the latest engagement and retention strategies. By defining your organization’s core values, communicating them regularly, establishing rewards for demonstrating them, and ensuring they are part of an employee’s experience from the interview all the way through their career will help to foster a more positive workplace culture at your nonprofit,

Want to learn more about the latest nonprofit turnover and employee engagement trends? Get your free copy of the “2015 UST Nonprofit Employee Engagement & Retention Report” today.