September 28, 2016

4 Ways to Keep Your New Hires from Quitting

From day one and onward, nonprofit employees look to training to feel capable at their job… and valued. Do you offer them that opportunity?

According to the 2015 Nonprofit Employee Engagement and Retention Report, organizations with high turnover also tended to have fewer training opportunities for employees—so providing new hires with the right tools at the right time is extremely important for retaining good-fit employees.

Employees want to feel like they’re making a contribution, and being trained on the job is a critical part of employee development and reinforcing their sense of worth. But in last year’s study, 29% of nonprofit respondents reported that they received NO onboard training, and about 1/3 said they got only 1-2 weeks.

Longer onboard training for new employees was linked to 1) lower turnover, 2) higher levels of employee job satisfaction, and 3) a lower likelihood of employees planning to quit in the next year. Organizations with 90-day onboarding strategies had the highest employee engagement. And when a company implements a successful onboarding program, they experience 54% greater productivity and 50% greater retention.

Here are 4 simple ways you can implement training at your nonprofit:

  1. Peer training: This is a cost-effective way to onboard and helps develop comradery.
  2. Written procedures and Employee Handbooks: These are critical to smooth transitions, and a handbook is also a way to document rules for when progressive discipline is necessary.
  3. Online Training: There are lots of courses available at an affordable cost. Check out Lynda.com, or you can administer courses to employees via UST’s HR Workplace training platform for less than $100/month for the whole organization.
  4. Conferences and seminars: In-person training helps employees network and bring knowledge of best practices in your sector back to your organization.

Overall, onboarding new employees (especially supervisors) can help them feel welcome and prepared to do their best. Ongoing training is a great way to develop skills, maintain goodwill among employees and keep your new hires from packing up their desks.

Discover a few other top reasons your employees might be headed for the door. For a limited time, download UST’s 2016 report, 6 Reasons Your Nonprofit Employees QUIT, and learn how you can improve your organization’s employee management strategies.

September 23, 2016

Recruiting Difficulty and Skills Shortages

HR professionals across all industries have been expressing concern over the difficulty in recruiting qualified job candidates for some time but with a lower number of applicants actually applying, the task of locating individuals who possess the needed skills, experience and educational credentials, is becoming even more challenging in the current day.

The fact that organizations are saying they have had more difficulty filling full-time regular positions in the last 12 months than in previous years is a sign that conditions have changed. The top cited reasons - lack of sufficient work experience and job skills among job candidates, more competition from other employers and a lower number of applicants’ altogether.

A skills shortage occurs when there are not enough people with a particular skill to fill the needed number of positions within a particular occupation. Some basic skills shortages are writing, basic computer skills, reading comprehension and mathematics. And applied skills shortages are critical thinking and problem solving, work ethic, written communication and leadership. With that said, the most difficult positions to fill were for high-skilled medical (nurses, doctors, specialists), scientists and mathematicians, skilled trades (electricians, carpenters, machinists), engineering and architecture, IT/computer specialist (analysts, developers, programmers) and executives. Basic and applied skills are not only critical but necessary in order to build a foundation for a strong and stable workforce.

Many organizations have had to have their training budgets increased in order to fill the gap between qualified candidates and or training existing employees. While online training courses have become the most utilized option, many employers are still utilizing conferences and professional workshops and on the job training. Investing in education and training should be viewed as a way to meet skills shortfalls.

Though many organizations are utilizing social media and collaborating with educational institutions as recruiting strategies, the most effective strategies have been using a recruitment agency and training existing employees to take on hard-to-fill positions.

Organizations need not to only focus on finding and retaining highly skilled employees but also need to consider how they are going to develop the next generation of organizational leaders as the current workforce ages and the highly experienced and skilled workers retire. Making sure employees are not at risk of burnout will also be critical, taking into consideration that when they’re unable to fill some positions, their existing staff may be forced to do more with less.

September 14, 2016

HR Question: Employee Engagement Surveys

Question: What are some tips for developing and conducting an employee engagement survey?

Answer: An employee engagement survey can be a great tool to check the temperature of your culture. When done right, the survey can help you understand the needs of your employees, which in turn benefits productivity, job satisfaction and supports employee retention. It is also an excellent tool to help you calibrate the quality of your leadership as well as your employee relations and talent management programs.

Before you start, however, ensure that the management team is ready to act on the critical feedback you’ll get. Then decide what it is you need to know. Do you want to better understand how your employees view their relationship with management, understand and support the company’s strategic direction, or learn what aspects of their work environment, compensation and benefits, work assignments, and opportunities for learning and advancement are working (or not working)?

Next, determine how you will create, disseminate, tabulate, and communicate the survey process and results. If you’re creating your own survey, consider gathering employees from different areas of the company to formulate the survey questions and include them in the employee communications process to encourage participation. This team can also be instrumental in reviewing the survey results and providing feedback about how those results should be communicated and acted upon.

Another option is to use one of the many online engagement survey tools available in the marketplace. While the questions may not be as personalized to your company issues, you can get the surveys, along with the tabulated results, done quickly.

If you do create the survey in-house, consider these best practice tips:

  • First, determine whether the survey identifies the respondents. Confidential surveys typically yield higher response rates and include more candid feedback. With these surveys, be sure to include department or other group data to assist you later in analyzing feedback and specific action items that may be tied to one group. The decision to include identifying information is generally tied to the level of openness and trust in an organization’s culture.
  • Ask relevant questions. Ask questions that employees can — and want to — answer about their employment relationship with the company.
  • Make it simple and easy to complete. Keep the survey short. Employees may not take the time to complete a lengthy survey with in-depth questions. Save those types of questions for the follow-up action planning.
  • Provide an open comment area. Give employees an opportunity to comment at the end of the survey and add any additional information not covered by the questions.
  • Make the results actionable. Follow up on survey results so employees know they are heard and appreciated.

Encourage participation by using incentives or contests. With more feedback, you’ll have a better picture of your employees’ engagement level. Train your leaders so that they are prepared to use the survey feedback as a gift to improve performance and have productive feedback and performance improvement planning sessions.

Most importantly, don’t ask for employee feedback unless you are willing to do something with the results. Your employees will expect you to implement changes and take action. Let them know how much you value and respect them by listening and acting on their opinions and ideas.

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.

September 12, 2016

Webinar: Onboarding Tips to Start the Employment Relationship Right

Moving away from a traditional new hire orientation program can be scary... BUT can also be very cost-effective.

By implementing a more robust onboarding process that introduces new team members to the company, their jobs, their co-workers and helps them better understand what the company expects from them, new hires will contribute more quickly in their jobs and are likely to stick around longer.

Presented by ThinkHR, this 60-minute webinar is designed to spark your creative juices to design a more productive and meaningful employee onboarding experience with elements that are simple, fun and tie to your company culture.

In the session, you will learn:

  • Why new hire orientation programs need to change
  • How to reset the new hire orientation focus to reimage the employee onboarding experience
  • What tools you may already have available to use for your program, including your goal-setting, performance management and employee development processes
  • How technology and training enhances the onboarding experience

Throughout the presentation, Dan Riordan, President & COO of ThinkHR, will share tips and key findings with you and answer any additional questions you may have.

When: Tuesday, September 20th at 8:30 PDT / 11:30 EDT
Register: http://bit.ly/onboarding-webinar

Visit www.chooseust.org/thinkhr/ to sign up for a free 30-day trial of the UST HR Workplace, powered by ThinkHR.

September 06, 2016

[Podcast] How to Pay Your Nonprofit Employees More

Through the Noise interviewed Nicolie Lettini and Cathy Galbraith, CEO/Founder and Managing Director of CostTree, to help nonprofit employers better understand the difference between direct and indirect costs and how to accurately anticipate and budget for them annually. Listen below or check out the full library of podcasts.

Podcast Description: This podcast explains the importance of understanding where your nonprofit’s hard-raised money is going, and how you might be able to better allocate funds to your staff’s paychecks. Cathy Gallbraith constantly aims to help nonprofits understand how to create an indirect cost rate, how to use it in everyday strategic development and how to ensure organizational accountability and sustainability.

A cloud-based cost allocation software that simplifies the process of creating an indirect cost, CostTree looks to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of entities that make a difference in our lives and the communities they serve. To learn more, visit CostTree’s website at https://www.costtree.net.

Listen to Podcast button- RGB

To stay up-to-date on the latest cost-saving ideas and best practice tips just for nonprofits, sign up for UST's monthly eNews: http://www.chooseust.org/enews
September 06, 2016

August Job Numbers Stayed Consistent with Past Years Trends

August has continuously undershot expectations by the most of any month on average over the last 13 years and this year has proved no different with a mere 151,000 job gains. The unemployment rate was unchanged for the third month in a row at 4.9 percent and the number of unemployed persons held steady at 7.8 million or 9.7 percent - both showing little movement over the year. Average hourly earnings in August rose by an additional 3 cents to $25.73.

Employment in restaurants and bars continued to trend upward with an additional 34,000 jobs. Social assistance added 22,000 positions, with most of the growth in individual and family services. Employment in professional and technical services grew by 20,000 and financial activities edged up by 15,000. Health care also contributed 14,000 jobs in August, though at a slower pace than the average monthly gain over the prior 12 months. Since peaking in September 2014, employment in mining has declined by 223,000, with an additional loss of 4,000 positions in August.

Employment in several other industries – including constructions, manufacturing, wholes trade, retail and information, transportation and warehousing, temporary help services, and government – showed little change over the month.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) accounted for 26.1 percent of the unemployed population and remained unchanged at 2.0 million. Both the labor force participation rate, at 62.8 percent, and the employment-population ratio, at 59.7 percent, were also unchanged in August.

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for June was revised down from +292,000 to +271,000, and the numbers for July were revised up from +255,000 to +275,000, combined job gains were 1,000 less than previously reported.

Job numbers are being watched closely by the Federal Reserve as they prepare to meet this month to discuss the possibility of a rate increase which is appropriate when the economy shows a solid and continual improvement. Many feel the August numbers still show economic growth but the jobs report likely decreases the probability of a rate hike for right now.

August 15, 2016

Free Resources for Nonprofits

Sometimes the hardest part of being a nonprofit isn’t fulfilling your organization's mission — sometimes it’s just making sure there are enough supplies for everyone to use to get their jobs done. Luckily for you, there are lots of organizations that help nonprofits meet the needs of those they serve by providing free or reduced cost items.

Although we always suggest starting your search for free or reduced cost supplies and services by talking to state and national associations (check out our 80+ association partners here), sometimes you need more.

Looking for extra technology resources?

Check out Techsoup, Google for Nonprofits, Microsoft’s Technology for Good program, the Salesforce Foundation, and Citrix, all of which provide free or discounted tech services to nonprofits.

Looking for financial management help?

Check out The Wallace Foundation, which offers helpful resources on planning, monitoring, operations, and governance.

Also check out 501Commons, which has assembled a vast library of tools & best practices for nonprofits, and the Nonprofits Assistance Fund which was specifically created with the goal of helping other nonprofits thrive.

Want to help your employees achieve their professional development goals?

The Stanford Social Innovation Review makes select webinars for professional development available for free. And, since the Review is constantly adding new things, they offer a great way to continuously access up-to-date information and resources.

Need nonperishables like apparel, books, toys, personal care products, or office and school supplies?

Good360 has been helping connect companies with nonprofits that need inventory that the retailer has found to be slow-moving, obsolete, and seasonal since 1983. Now, Good360 is considered the nonprofit leader in product philanthropy and distributes goods on behalf of America’s top brands.

Still need more?

Other sites like Grassroots.org, which provides information about free resources to help charities, provide a wide array of resources in one place from team collaboration tools to project tools to marketing and administrative tools. Similarly, the Foundation Center provides a resource called the “Nonprofit Startup Map” which localizes links to state resources on a state-by-state U.S. map.

Want more free resources? Run a quick Google Search for the term “free resources for nonprofits” and see what you come up with!
July 07, 2016

4 HR Mistakes Nonprofits Make

If you work for a nonprofit, you’re probably familiar with the concept of wearing many different hats for your job – whether it’s development, accounting, human resources, or all of the above. But no matter how hard you try, HR mistakes are bound to happen. It’s just the nature of the beast (a very, very regulated beast).

These mistakes can be costly if you’re not careful; think compliance penalties, litigation, unemployment costs and employee replacement costs. We’ve listed some of the most common mistakes so you can try to avoid them at your nonprofit.

1. Bad Hiring Decisions

In the nonprofit world, you’re likely to know just about everyone who works in the same circle. So it makes sense that to offer a job to someone you know, right? Well sometimes skipping the interviewing step means you’re missing out on the most qualified candidate, and missing important information. Interviews, background checks and references are absolutely a must when it comes to hiring the right person. The wrong person for a position can be costly, since you may have to pay unemployment if you have to replace them, and the cost in both time and money to find a replacement quickly adds up.

2. Not Documenting Infractions

It’s not easy addressing performance or company policy concerns with an employee. Although it can be uncomfortable, it’s much more uncomfortable to have to address these issues in an unemployment claim appeal hearing when you try to prove the employee was discharged for cause. The first steps are having clear performance expectations in your job descriptions as well as an employee handbook outlining organizational policies. Then create a performance review to discuss any concerns with an employee, and address the steps they can take to improve. And any infractions must be documented in writing, including:
 
  • Date of infraction
  • Details of infraction
  • Explanation of corrective actions needed
  • Statement of next disciplinary steps
  • Signature of the employee


Finally, don’t wait to have the conversation! It’s easiest to provide immediate feedback and point to a distinct occurrence rather than try to explain later on “Remember that one time…” Do it now, and you’ll thank yourself later.

3. Not Knowing Basic HR Rules

If you don’t have someone with acute knowledge of the laws around the following HR laws, make sure you get acquainted with the rules or have a certified HR professional to help you:
 
  • Discrimination
  • Overtime and minimum wage requirement
  • Family medical leave and Military leave
  • Unemployment
  • Age and gender discrimination
  • Disability
  • Safety in the workplace
  • Pregnancy discrimination
  •  Immigration
Ignoring these laws can lead to costly legal concerns and thousands of dollars wasted. Download the 36 Critical HR Processes, and learn more about UST’s live hotline with SPHR and PHR certified HR professionals.

4. Not Knowing the Difference Between Contracted, Volunteer, Part-Time, and Full-Time Employees

The U.S. DOL has strict rules around Independent Contractors and Volunteers. Not only do you need to be aware of the rules around pay and benefits, you should know who is eligible to collect unemployment benefits. Independent contractors may file for unemployment, and you need to be able to prove he or she is not an employee of your company.

Here at UST we know it’s not easy managing the most important part of your organization: your human capital. Having the right employees can make or break your mission, and so can following the proper HR procedures. Interested in learning more about our tools for nonprofits? Find out about Unemployment Claims Administration and our HR Hotline.
May 10, 2016

HR Question: Early Release of Resigned Employee

Q: If an exempt employee gives a two week resignation notice, do we have to honor it or can we separate early without compensating the employee for the two weeks?

A: An employer may accept the employee’s voluntary resignation, or release the employee in advance of the stated resignation date, or in extreme situations determine if cause exists for early termination (sometimes employees disregard policies after submitting a resignation).

If the employee works through to the resignation date, the employee must be paid for all wages earned through the resignation date. If the employee is released earlier, then the employer must pay wages for all time worked through the termination date. The employer is not obligated to pay the employee for any days not worked through the resignation period when no work is performed, and final wages need only include wages earned through the actual last day worked.

Please note that when letting the employee go prior to the end of the resignation period, the company has effectively changed the resignation into a discharge for the purposes of wage payments, if in fact pay is not provided through the original resignation date, regardless of hours or days worked. The employee may also then be able to file for unemployment since he or she will be missing wages during the resignation period. This liability may not be in the best interest of the employer.

Therefore, it is up to the company whether or not to pay through the resignation period; however, doing so permits the resignation to stand as a voluntary decision on the employee’s behalf.

Question and Answer provided by ThinkHR. Learn more about how your nonprofit can gain access to their expert HR staff here.
October 02, 2014

Develop a Plan Before Developing Your Nonprofit’s Future Leaders

Your nonprofit may have the time, mentors and training courses needed to mold up-and-coming leaders, but do you have a plan of action that takes full advantage of this developmental support system?

Setting measurable goals and creating systematic procedures for leadership development programs will enable you to address leadership skill gaps at a more efficient pace. Follow these 4 steps to implement an effective leadership development plan, while gaining support from your current management team:
 
  1. Get your Board and other Decision-Makers involved. Have your executive staff participate in the brainstorming process when creating leadership development procedures. If your Board members make leadership strategy a priority, and clearly communicate their expectations, your team can better identify and work toward future leadership objectives.
  2. Identify your leadership strengths and weaknesses. Having a firm understanding of your nonprofit’s mission and organizational priorities is crucial when identifying skill gaps. Once you decide what future leadership capabilities are required, you can begin training internally and/or seeking new leadership candidates.
  3. Continuously raise the bar and increase task ownership. Prospective leaders will accrue most of their knowledge and skills through hands-on learning, rather than formal training. Therefore, you must provide consistent assignments that test their leadership competency by taking them out of their comfort zone and creating a greater sense of accountability. Don’t forget to provide ongoing feedback and recognize their successes.
  4. Review and improve procedures when necessary. Like your leadership candidates, development procedures must be carefully monitored and evaluated. Leadership development plans are often intricate—continue to tweak them so they meet your nonprofit’s specific needs. Taking the time to measure your procedures’ effectiveness, and edit when necessary, will help you build prospective pool of future leaders.


Discover more methods on how to create future leaders here.
September 29, 2014

The 6 Signs of a Highly Engaged Employee

Engaged employees mean lower turnover and more productivity, as well as results that directly affect your mission.

But finding and hiring highly engaged employees is difficult. You might ask - How can an employee be “engaged” before they’re even hired? Well, the highly engaged employee is often a person who simply leans in that direction in all parts of their life. That’s why finding them is so important for your nonprofit – because it’s easier to help an engaged employee thrive than to try to build one from the ground up.

Here are some signs of a motivated personality when you’re looking at hiring, or even internal development:

1. They don’t expect their organization or their leaders to provide all the stimulation in their workday or their job. They seek out new opportunities to engage in their job on their own. Complaining about a former manager or job not providing enough work satisfaction in an interview can be a red flag that they didn’t take that extra step to engage themselves at their previous job.

2. They know their performance speaks for itself, and they’re not worried about what their organization can give them, but rather about what they can give to their organization. They have a low sense of entitlement. (Although rewarding and recognizing them is important to keeping them engaged!)

3. They help inspire others to love your mission, including clients and volunteers.  They can’t help but be excited about what they’re doing and that translates to others.

4. They are engaged despite the conditions around them. Even if their last job wasn’t perfect, they found ways to be engaged. And even motivation in other places of their life can show an “engaged” personality – like running a 5k to help a local dog shelter. Your job is simply to foster this engagement at work.

5. They enjoy shaping their own outcomes – and the outcomes of your organization. Being a voice in the direction of your organization, whether it’s something small like finding a better way to file invoices, or more strategic like new ideas for an annual campaign, they will feel happiest when they can give something to your organization.

6. They like to stretch the limits. This can be uncomfortable for leaders, but allowing engaged employees to think outside of the box can lead to some amazing results. And sometimes listening and showing you are truly interested in their input, even if it doesn’t get used in the end, shows that this behavior is not only welcome, it’s appreciated – and it should be!
September 28, 2014

EAP and Performance Issues

Q: How does an employer go about using the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to address an employee’s performance problems that may be related to issues outside of work?

A: The employer should contact the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) directly and request a review of the process for making referrals. In general, during the implementation process, the EAP provides the contracting employer with that information so that employees and employers have a clear understanding of the services the EAP can offer employees and the process by which the employer can make referrals to the service. This service typically includes employer assistance so that employers may communicate directly with the EAP counselor to provide a “heads up” to the counselor regarding the performance issue and obtain guidance for handling the discussion with the employee. Then the employer can have the performance discussion and refer the employee to the EAP as part of the action plan for performance improvement. Discussions between the employee and the EAP are confidential, and the employer should not expect feedback from the EAP regarding those discussions.

While the employer can make the referral, it is ultimately an employee’s choice whether or not to contact and work with the EAP. If the employee chooses not to seek help or address the issue that led to the referral in the first place and performance does not improve, then the employer should follow its progressive disciplinary process, including corrective action up to and including termination of employment.

Question and Answer provided by ThinkHR. Learn more about how your nonprofit can gain access to their expert HR staff here.
September 24, 2014

Emergency Succession Planning: Is your nonprofit ready to stop, drop and roll?

If your Executive Director/CEO, CFO or COO suddenly couldn’t show up to work, would your organization be prepared?

Sometimes it’s sudden, like an accident or health crisis, and other times it’s simply a short term window to prepare for a leader leaving—but it is always important to have a backup plan when it comes to a leader’s absence.

It’s called emergency succession planning, and it’s critical to your organization’s survival.

Like any good emergency plan (think of those fire drills as a kid in school) – there should be clearly laid out steps to your emergency succession plan.  Ready to stop, drop, and roll?  Here are some basic elements to any good leader succession plan:
 
  1. Identify the key responsibilities and functions of the position that would need to be taken over in an emergency loss of a leader.
  2. Who are the people/titles internally who would take over these functions in the interim? Is it one person or multiple?
  3. Create a training and orientation plan for these backups.
  4. Who will the Acting CEO be? Consider whether an Interim CEO would be best for the coming 6-18 months and how you would recruit that role. Best practice states that the Interim CEO should not be an internal employee, so they can be a voice of neutrality for other employees and provide an outside perspective to identify opportunities for improvement.
  5. Determine what the Board’s role in the process will be. How will they be involved in selecting a new CEO, and how will they support the new CEO and the onboarding process?
  6. Have the emergency succession plan reviewed and adopted by your Board.


Learn more about emergency succession planning in this report.
September 24, 2014

The ABCs of Ethics in the Workplace

While a substantial paycheck may entice a job candidate to seek employment at a particular nonprofit, an organization’s reputation for ethical procedures and workplace culture can be just as persuasive. An ethical workplace provides a fair and harmonious environment for every worker, promoting equal opportunity, honesty and open communication. Specifically for leaders, developing and adhering to ethical values in the office is key to helping employees determine what type of behaviors are expected of them.

Here are a few ways you can maintain an ethical culture at work:
 
  • Communicate ethical priorities through training, meetings and ongoing encouragement—From the get-go, it’s imperative to train your employees on the fundamental values of your organization. Explain why ethical behavior is a priority, and how to effectively carry out ethical action. Give them realistic examples of potentially tough decisions, and equip them with the knowledge and tools they need to make the ethical choice.
  • Lead by example and be consistent with your follow-through—Your employees can readily identify inconsistency or unfair treatment. Rather than merely telling them how to act, show them that you not only support ethical behavior, but practice it on a day to day basis. This includes addressing bad decisions, and brainstorming ways to improve ethical practice.
  • Hire employees with a similar ethical compass—Being upfront with your nonprofit’s ethical culture during the recruitment process can help you determine best-fit candidates. More often than not, employees will have a difficult time upholding ethical priorities if they do not agree with them. Hiring individuals with the same morals can lead to an easier transition and will further strengthen your nonprofit’s ethical foundation.


Because nonprofits are often small organizations working in a small sector, their reputations are precious. Creating and implementing a strong ethical culture where employees maintain integrity will improve internal morale and help the overall business grow.

Learn more about how to encourage strong ethics within a work environment here.
September 22, 2014

10 Ways to Avoid Costly Employee Turnover

In order to minimize costly hourly employee turnover, there are 10 things you can do, writes Mel Kleiman on his Humetrics blog:
 
  1. Hire tough (so you can manage easy).
  2. Let every new employee know why their job is important.
  3. Avoid the mindset that it is “only an entry-level job” (in both the new employee’s mind and in your own mind).
  4. Pay the highest wages you can afford. (When you can pay more, then you can expect and get more.)
  5. Give a pay raise as soon as the new employee deserves one (not on a time schedule, but on a productivity/ learning schedule).
  6. Give recognition when recognition is deserved.
  7. Train for process, not for speed.
  8. Help the new employee make friends at work.
  9. Learn to fail fast. (When you realize you made a hiring mistake, release and replace that person immediately.)
  10. Make work FUN!!


Here at UST, we believe hiring the right employees is one of the top ways to reduce your organization's overall unemployment costs. That's why we're committed to this blog, and giving nonprofits the tools they need to reduce turnover, reduce costs, and reduce time spent managing them!  We also want to make sure nonprofits aren't overpaying for unemployment taxes. You can find out by filling out a (free) savings evaluation here.
September 19, 2014

The Harsh Yet Necessary Step Toward Nonprofit Growth

Bad habits can be contagious

Even your strongest staff members can be negatively influenced when working with bad employees. Pairing others with someone who is unmotivated and performing inadequately can cause a domino effect of poor performance—making the overall business suffer.

Poor employees could chase away top performers

Top tier employees want to work with others who are just as driven and focused as they are. When talented workers see poor behavior or lack of contribution go unnoticed, they will begin looking for alternative job opportunities—ones where they can work with other high performers and feel more appreciated.

Low performers take up valuable space

By keeping low performing employees, you could be missing out on a new crop of talent. But how can you hire these rockstar candidates if there are no available roles at your organization? Making room for strong individuals who are willing to take initiative and contribute to the team is imperative when building a strong organizational foundation.

Because nonprofits often work with limited budgets and resources, developing and retaining a top-notch staff is key to successfully attaining mission objectives. And while it’s never an easy task to fire a bad employee, you’re doing what’s necessary as a leader to keep your organization moving forward.

Learn more about talent development strategies here.
September 17, 2014

HR Question: Can we transfer a sub-par employee?

It can be okay to replace a sub-par employeee[/caption]Q: Would it be permissible to transfer a long-term part-time employee who is an average to poor performer to another role and replace that position with a full-time employee?

A: Unless there is an employment contract or collective-bargaining agreement that suggests otherwise, employers do have the ability to set an employee’s work hours and job duties based on business needs. In the situation you described, you have a poor performer whom you want to transfer to another position, enhance the job, and bring in another employee to do the work. We assume that you have been addressing the current incumbent’s poor performance issues and the job that you are moving the employee into will be more in line with his or her skills and hopefully provide an opportunity for the employee to be more successful on the job. If you have not addressed your performance concerns, now is the time to do so. Explain why the change is necessary and use the opportunity to discuss the employee’s career goals and development needs. It is critical that the employee receive feedback regarding performance and behavior, as this may continue into either role and should be addressed to correct the concerns or take progressive discipline as appropriate. Have these conversations before you announce the new employee transferring into the expanded position.

The employee may have questions regarding why you are taking a part-time position and turning it into a full-time one and may suggest that he or she could be successful in the job if allowed the additional time each day to complete the duties. Be prepared to address that and provide the employee with a copy of the expanded job duties and explain why he or she is not the right fit for that job. Having a direct and respectful conversation, with specific feedback and action plans to move forward, can go a long way to making the change successful.

Question and Answer provided by ThinkHR. Learn more about how your nonprofit can gain access to their expert HR staff here.
September 16, 2014

How to Create a Smooth Transition for You and Your New Hire

New employees provide fresh ideas, new skill sets, and positive thinking—all of which impacts any nonprofit’s potential growth. However, a new hire’s success rate is greatly influenced by their initial onboarding experience.

Follow these 6 simple methods to ensure a successful employee transition:

  1. Educate everyone prior to the new hire’s start date—Encourage your new employee to learn more about the nonprofit’s history and mission objectives, either through research or conversation. In addition, notify current staff of the new employee’s background and role responsibilities so everyone is prepared for the transition.
  2. Create and communicate realistic goals—Develop both short and long-term goals for your new hire. Be as clear as possible when outlining job priorities, and check in consistently to give constructive feedback on their work.
  3. Assign a senior mentor—Having a senior employee, who is well versed in your nonprofit’s procedures and history, will provide your new hire with a valued resource that can further build their sense of belonging. This additional outlet will also free up some of the time you would be spending on your new employee’s training.
  4. Encourage innovative thinking and listen to new ideas—Explaining correlated challenges and strategic goals to your new hire could help inspire new solutions. A new employee’s fresh perspective can help break the cycle of seemingly unavoidable problems.
  5. Help them feel like they’re part of the team—Construct interactive opportunities in team meetings and planning sessions. It’s also important to have team building opportunities, enabling your staff to develop strong professional and personal relationships with one another.
  6. Celebrate early wins—No matter how small the accomplishment, celebrate early wins as a form of encouragement for the new employee’s hard work. But don’t forget to celebrate the team’s work as a whole to continue the positive momentum.


Taking the time to efficiently train your new employees on your nonprofit’s culture, strategic goals, and personal role expectations will not only help new hires adjust, but also strengthen your organization as a whole.

Learn more tips about how to manage new employees here.
September 09, 2014

HR Question: Can the board request payroll info?

Q: Can executives or board members review our company payroll register upon request?

A: Yes. You may wish to inquire as to what types of compensation information they need so that you are providing the detail and data that is relevant for their review and discussion. You will want to ensure the privacy of your employees’ personal information, such as concealing Social Security numbers, garnishments, etc.

Executives typically need relevant summary compensation information for decision-making with revenue and cost considerations. Reviewing the actual intent of how the data will be used may enable you to provide a summary report without revealing data that could potentially be perceived as inappropriate to reveal.

Question and Answer provided by ThinkHR. Learn more about how your nonprofit can gain access to their expert HR staff here.
September 07, 2014

Employers’ Time to Fill Open Positions is Taking Longer than Ever

The time it takes to fill an open position is taking longer and longer for employers—now at a national average of almost 25 days.

This is the longest it’s taken in more than a decade, 13 years to be exact, says the Vacancy Duration Measure. Compared to the height of the Great Recession, that’s actually almost 10 days longer than it took to fill a job then, when it was at 15.3 working days, reports TLNT.

Why the lag in recruiting and hiring for organizations across the U.S.?

Recruiters say that candidates are driving the employment market as opposed to the organizations– being more picky about the positions they will accept and the compensation and benefits they are willing to take. When turning down an offer, top candidates say the reason is another offer. And employers that are slow to make an offer are losing out and having to start all over with their search.

Increasing turnover a factor

Turnover, as we’ve all seen in the nonprofit world, is also an ever-growing trend. While unemployment subsides, many qualified employees are more comfortable jumping from job to job (or from the nonprofit sector to the private sector). Voluntary separations are on the rise according to the DOL, which reported 2.7 million people quit their jobs in June.

And a larger number of vacant positions is putting a strain on organizations, which are in a more pressured state of recruitment than in years past. Now, when hiring, filling the position isn’t enough. To avoid more future turnover, organizations are having to look at employee engagement and job satisfaction with a closer eye. Succession planning is also critical to ensuring the organization can stay afloat when key employees leave or retire.

Employee training may be key

While candidates may feel more confident in their hireability and be more choosey, it’s also true that employers are being more selective as well—sometimes too much. The gap between an unqualified and a qualified candidate can sometimes be filled through on-the-job training. Looking for the right personal traits and attributes in a potential employee is more important than specific job knowledge for many positions. And finding the right person for the job, not just the right resume, can mean long-lasting job satisfaction and less turnover.
September 01, 2014

HR Question: Can FMLA be used for frequent bathroom breaks?

Question: If an employee states that he or she needs to use existing Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) designation during the day for restroom breaks, is that something the employee can do?

Answer: More than likely the frequent use of a restroom may be a serious health condition; however, one would look to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prior to counting this time against the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitlement.

In general, when counting bathroom time against an employee’s FMLA entitlement, only do so if the frequency and duration extends beyond the employee’s normal lunch and break periods.
 

Question and Answer provided by ThinkHR. Learn more about how your nonprofit can gain access to their expert HR staff here.

August 28, 2014

HR Question: Terminating Employees for Past Mistakes

Q: Can an employer terminate an employee for making a costly error years ago that has just been discovered?

A: This answer is based upon the fact that there is no specific employment contract in place that outlines specific reasons for termination of employment and that the employer has an employment-at-will policy in place that provides for termination at will based upon the employer's discretion.

From the detailed description of the situation, this employer does have an internal disciplinary procedure in place that specifies termination of employment for performance. This error was made years ago and could have been detected if the employee had been conducting annual audits of the file, which was not done, compounding the error.

Although employers can terminate employment "at will", there should always be a legitimate business reason for the termination that is well documented, nondiscriminatory and carefully considered in order to reduce the employer risk of liability from wrongful termination suits.

The employer should consider the following prior to making the final decision:
 
  • Is this employee in a protected class (race, gender, age, disability) where s/he might believe that s/he is being targeted because of that class?
  • Was the process for auditing and correcting the errors documented and was this employee trained to conduct the audit?
  • Is this a one-off issue with the employee or have there been other instances of performance concerns? If so, have those concerns been brought to the employee's attention and was s/he given the opportunity to correct the performance deficiencies?
  • Is there anything that the employee's manager or senior management missed that could have prevented this situation?
  • Has this situation ever happened before with another employee? If so, how was it handled?
  • If an audit of other customer files took place today, could there be this same type of error made by other employees (pointing to an overall training or supervision issue)?


If the employer believes that the situation warrants termination of employment because it is well-documented, the employee has been properly trained, the supervision was adequate, and that this is a unique situation, then a termination is allowed, but we recommend confirming the decision with legal counsel prior to the termination.

Question and Answer provided by ThinkHR. Learn more about how your nonprofit can gain access to their expert HR staff here.
August 26, 2014

Think You’re Ready to Hire More Employees? Read This First.

Your organization has been doing really well lately, and you’re looking to create new positions and hire new employees to help fulfill your mission. You’ve written the job descriptions, gotten approval from all of the relevant stakeholders and are ready to begin recruitment.

But slow down just a minute. Are you sure your organization is ready to hire more employees?

Although only your organization can determine if you’re actually ready to hire new employees, Inc. recommends answering the following questions about your organization, where you want it to go, and what is happening now.

What kind of organizational structure do you want?

Do you want your organization to grow extensively? Are you pretty happy with the size it is now, but unable to meet the demands of your mission with your current staff, or are you hoping to grow organically whenever the need arises?

Will you be able to slow down growth if you need to?

Not all organizations have significant control over how much growth they will experience in any given time. For instance, if your organization helps provide disaster relief to a specific area and the area suddenly experiences a large-scale disaster, your response must be immediate and decisive. Or, if your organization helps animals and takes part in a multi-county animal seizure, you must be able to provide shelter and care for all of the animals involved for the foreseeable future.

But if your organization works to help a select group of impoverished students succeed, it’s reasonable to expect that there will not be an unmanageable influx of students to your program in any given year.

Do you really need help?

Do any of your employees have extra time throughout their week or month that can be used to address some of the needs that you’d like to hire new employees for? If so, can these employees be trained to perform some of the needed tasks?

While it might not fully address your needs, it would cut down on organizational waste and potentially allow for a part-time position to be created in lieu of the more expensive full-time position.

Are you fully prepared to recruit, hire, and train more employees?

Our ThinkHR resources and your UST Customer Service Representative can help you ensure your organization is best positioned to do all three without exposing you to excess liability in the future.

Not yet a member? Learn more about the UST program here.
August 22, 2014

UST Infographic: How Nonprofits Are Saving Millions With UST

Founded by nonprofits for nonprofits, the Unemployment Services Trust (UST) aims to help 501(c)(3) organizations manage their unemployment claims and lower their HR costs—providing more funds to devote to their missions.

By offering access to an expert HR hotline, over 200 employee training courses, and a dedicated claims representative, UST helped its members uphold HR best practices, while remaining compliant with state laws. Last year, UST members saved more than $32 million in mitigated claims costs and won over 80% of their claims protests.

With a 96% recommendation rate, UST’s membership base and overall impact within the nonprofit sector continues to grow. Check out the full infographic for the full list of last year’s noteworthy accomplishments:
 

August 20, 2014

Is Your Nonprofit Falling Prey to These 5 Common Myths?

The Unemployment Services Trust recently released its newest whitepaper, “The 5 Myths That Are Increasing Your Nonprofit’s HR Costs” – which explains how to identify and debunk these costly myths at your organization.

For a limited time, you can download the whitepaper for free and find out:
 
  1. Which myths might be hurting your organization
  2. How you can proactively reduce HR costs
  3. Whether you are overpaying for unemployment claims


Learn the secrets of other nonprofit executives and HR staff who have reduced their human resource and unemployment claims costs. Download your complimentary copy of 5 Myths That Are Increasing Your Nonprofit’s HR Costs today.

By providing exclusive access to such cost saving resources, UST aims to educate 501(c)(3) organizations on the latest HR best practices and compliance laws—living up to its mission of “Saving money for nonprofits in order to advance their missions.”

Fill out a complimentary Savings Evaluation to find out if you can save with UST.
August 19, 2014

HR Question: Putting the Supervisor’s Name in an Offer Letter

Q: Is there a reason to have a supervisor’s name in an offer letter? In other words, is an offer letter that only lists a new hire’s supervisor as a title acceptable?

 

A: There is no definite reason to have a supervisor's name on an offer letter or any requirement to have the title on the document either.

 

The intent of the offer letter is to welcome the new hire and to ensure that the new hire has all of the information s/he will need regarding the terms and conditions of employment. If, in your environment, putting the supervisor's name on the document does not make sense, then feel free to leave it off the document.

 

We do recommend, however, that you do include a contact person that the new employee can go to for questions about the position or for any assistance the new employee may need.

 

Question and Answer provided by ThinkHR. Learn more about how your nonprofit can gain access to their expert HR staff here.

August 14, 2014

How an Effective Hiring Team can Recruit Top-Notch Employees

The hiring process can be daunting, time-consuming, and burdensome. For nonprofits especially, hiring the best-fit employee the first time around is vital. Often working with a limited budget and smaller staff size, nonprofit organizations must find a candidate that can quickly adapt and effectively work towards mission advancement objectives.

But how do you find the right employee? Simple. Recruit a hiring team internally before recruiting any potential staff.

The hiring team you assemble should be your recruitment backbone—helping you create the hiring timeline, outline specific role responsibilities, and conduct interviews.

Here are 6 tips to keep in mind when creating and working with your recruitment team:
  1. Select relevant team members—Pick people who have past experience with the incoming employee’s job role, as well as those who will be working with them directly. In general, the larger the organization, the more hiring team members you’ll need.
  2. Assign individual responsibilities—Decide which members are in charge of drafting the job description, advertising the job opening, organizing resumes, interviewing, making the final decision, etc.
  3. Identify current strengths and weaknesses—As a team, identify what your organization’s strategic goals are. What are your employees doing right? Where is there room for improvement?
  4. Decide what skills will address knowledge gaps—Once your hiring team decides what skill gaps exist within your nonprofit, list the specific tasks the new hire will be responsible for. Being honest about your nonprofit’s needs will make it easier when it’s time to write the job description/requirements.
  5. Create a timeline—Create a detailed schedule that maps out your entire hiring process. This should give deadlines for the job description, job promotional efforts, candidate interviews, and the final decision.
  6. Encourage open communication—Maintaining an open dialogue with your recruiting staff will not only build trust, but also lower the risk of making the wrong hiring decision. Listening to both positive and negative feedback can only strengthen future hiring endeavors.


Having the support of a dedicated hiring team can help speed up the hiring process, while increasing efficiency. Knowing when and how to engage your hiring staff can help you identify the best possible candidate for any potential position—giving your nonprofit the edge it needs accomplish mission objectives.

Learn more about how to select and utilize your recruitment team here.
August 11, 2014

HR Question: Implementing a Mandatory Retirement Age

Q: Can we implement a mandatory retirement age? If so, can we make a case-by-case exception to that?

A: Unless your business handles public safety concerns, we would encourage you to very carefully consider implementing mandatory retirement age policies, and certainly NOT to do it on a case-by-case basis.

The reason is that on a federal level, company wide mandatory retirement age policies violate the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), except in limited circumstances. The ADEA, which applies to organizations with 20 or more employees, protects employees age 40 and older from discrimination based on their age. Prior to 1986 the age discrimination law did not protect employees over the age of 70 in the workplace, but due to the 1986 amendment to the Act, this age cap was removed. As a result, all employees over 40 years old generally are covered by the ADEA. Since this change, companies are no longer able to enforce a mandatory retirement age for all employees.

There is one exception under the ADEA (outside of bona fide reasons for retirement, such as public safety officers, etc). That exception is company executives in a bona fide executive or higher policy-making position. For example, federal law does allow mandatory retirement for a company CEO at age 65 or older under two conditions:
 
  • If the employee has worked in this bona fide executive position for at least two years prior to the retirement date.
  • If the individual is immediately awarded annual retirement benefits valued at $44,000 or more.


If the reason you are asking the question is because you are concerned with how you deal with the growing number of older workers and the potential for declining performance in old age, the government expects us not to assume that all employees of a certain age are unable to perform their jobs or will be less productive for the organization.

But if an older worker is not performing at the level of expectation, this is a performance issue that should be addressed in accordance with your company's policies and practices as a performance issue, not an age issue. (And this should be done on a case-by-case basis).

Allow the employee the opportunity to improve through training and coaching; do not assume the older employee will not or cannot learn and adapt to change.

The way many employers are helping their older workers while making room for their younger employees is through the use of voluntary retirement programs. These programs offer all employees of a certain age within the organization a retirement package above and beyond other guaranteed retirement benefits. Voluntary retirement packages do not violate the ADEA because they provide an option (not a mandate) for the older worker to receive more (not fewer) benefits upon retirement than someone retiring or leaving the company at a younger age.

We would encourage you to work with your legal counsel to discuss other relevant regulations and requirements of voluntary retirement programs.

Question and Answer provided by ThinkHR. Learn more about how your nonprofit can gain access to their expert HR staff here.
August 08, 2014

Congratulations to the Nonprofits Honored as a Part of The Nonprofit Times Power & Influence Top 50

The 17th annual catalog of The Nonprofit Times Power & Influence Top 50 shows an increased emphasis on the effective implementation of a more civil society. Those elected for the honor “illustrates the power of people pushing society for equal access and opportunity…[as] recently it seems that the insistence for inclusion has need ratcheting up and sector leaders have responded.”

Everyone at UST wou

 

ld like to extend our heartfelt congratulations to those included. We’d also like to thank all of the organizations that we work with for continuing to fight the good fight and make a difference for those around them.

See the full list of innovators being recognized by this years’ Power & Influence Top 50 here.

 

August 07, 2014

Spotlight on New Jersey: Reducing Improper Payments and Unemployment Benefit Collection Fraud

For the better part of the past decade, improper and fraudulent unemployment insurance collections have accounted for about 10 percent of all unemployment benefits paid to jobless workers across the U.S. During the most recent Recession, it became abundantly clear why states must cut down on SUI (state unemployment insurance) fraud.

Unfortunately, for many states, the realization came a little too late.

During the height of the Recession, almost 40 states borrowed a combined $50 billion from the Federal Unemployment Trust Administration (FUTA) to continue providing jobless benefits. This much debt required many states to make long-term changes to their unemployment systems by either charging penalties or fees to businesses or by cutting jobless benefits. Many made historic cuts to the number of weeks of aid available, but some—like New Jersey which racked up more than $1.5 billion in debt—took a long, hard look at the administration of their trust.

In New Jersey that long, hard look at the administration of their unemployment trust fund resulted in some spectacular results. Over the past four years New Jersey has identified more than 300,000 people who tried to wrongly collect benefits through identity theft, failure to report a new job, schemes, and honest mistakes. Also:
 
  • The state has stopped borrowing from the federal government to cover its unemployment benefit costs
  • Their trust fund is once again considered solvent
  • They were able to extend a tax cut to New Jersey businesses because of the trust fund’s solvency
  • Just $376 million in debt remains from the height of their borrowing


But what did New Jersey do that set them on the path to successfully rebuild their unemployment trust fund?

They updated their system.

Namely, they began using a strategy referred to as ‘identity proofing.’ With the help of LexisNexis, the state of New Jersey requires applicants to verify a wide range of personal information through a quiz on the state labor department’s website. The questions are specifically developed to be ones that the individual who owns an identity could accurately answer.

Then, using the billions of public records that LexisNexis collects, the answers—which range from what kind of car an applicant has, to who lives at their address—help weed out potential frauds.

Less than a year-and-a-half into the effort, more than $4.4 million in improper payments have already been stopped, and almost 650 instances of identity theft have been avoided.

Want to know how well your state is catching improper payments? The U.S. Department of Labor provides this state-by-state breakdown for 2013.

Read more about how New Jersey is fighting improper payments and unemployment fraud here.