Entries with Topic HR Management .

October 12, 2018

Creating a Unique Compensation Package

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 22, 2018

A Nonprofit Financial Check-Up

Nonprofits play a vital role in society by indirectly boosting the economy. Just like their for-profit counterparts, they have payroll, pay mortgages and utilities and have overhead costs. Unlike for-profits, they rely primarily on grants, donors and the community for financial support – making it all the more important that they understand the financial risks they face.

Earlier this year, the findings from a study put out by SeaChange Capital  Partners, Oliver Wyman and GuideStar, “The Financial Health of the United States Nonprofit Sector:  Facts and Observations,” were released and the results signaled an urgency for improved risk management to reduce the likelihood of financial distress within the sector.  

 

Some key takeaways from this report include:

  • Overview of the size and scale of the US nonprofit sector
  • Key financial metrics segmented by size, sub-sector and geography
  • Learn how you can strengthen your nonprofits financial position
  • Ideas for reducing financial distress within your organization
  • Key financial health indicators

 

If you missed it, download your copy today and learn how you can either put a holistic risk management framework in place or enhance your current risk management practices!

June 01, 2018

We Need a Little More Communication Please

Effective communication in the workplace is an integral element to business success. It isn’t just about managing conflict, although an important benefit, good communication creates an environment that allows employees to be productive and highly effective.

The desire for human connections at work isn’t a new concept and long gone are the days when employees came into work and sat in front of a computer for an eight-hour stretch with little to no communication at all. Nowadays, more than ever, we get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of the day-to-day business that we forget to make time to connect with those around us. When employees come together for the pure enjoyment of one another’s company, they experience an increase in morale and commitment to each other as well as the company itself – keeping them engaged and positive.

Many of the conversations we have at work are naturally focused on the business – impending projects, upcoming events or deadlines and of course, those funding concerns as opposed to interpersonal conversations. However, if you want engaged employees who are committed to your nonprofits mission, we must pick our heads up out of our own busyness and acknowledge those around us. The desire to want to be noticed, valued and appreciated are all fundamental human needs, so just by facilitating more and better conversations through simple human interactions such as talking more, asking more and even thanking more, can help to strengthen your teams morale and loyalty.

Employees look forward to coming to work when they feel like they have something in common with their fellow co-workers or even better – have a valued friend at work. And while there are typically five generations in the workplace today – cross-generational connections can sometimes take time and effort. Ensuring there is time for relationship bonding through open communication can help your organization in unexpected ways. It also doesn’t hurt when they know they can talk to their boss about problems and feel heard.

Communication is about more than just talking, it’s about connecting with people -one of the most powerful benefits in the workplace. Effective workplace communication helps employees form highly efficient teams so start building strong relationships by reaching out and taking the time to connect in meaningful ways.

May 16, 2018

HR Question: Employer Requirements Surrounding OSHA Regulations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 28, 2014

Recruiting the Right Employee: Part 2- Posting and Screening for General Positions

For employers trying to find candidates to fill general skills positions the battle to wade through the tide of resumes is daunting. Sometimes it feels as if there are 500 “good” candidates for every one open position.

This is where the importance of having a well-written and well-defined job description (and by extension, job posting) comes in handy.* Including required experience, education, and other basic skill requirements allows potential candidates to self-screen before putting together a cover letter and resume package for your organization. In fact, even the simple act of requiring a cover letter (and throwing out all resumes submitted without one) can help your organization pre-screen employees based on their communication skills.

The same with including a salary range—a lot of companies don’t do this for a multitude of reasons, but applicants know what they need their base rate of pay to be. You don’t want to find the perfect candidate to only learn that you can’t afford to hire them after going through the entire recruitment process, do you?

After you’ve put together the full job description and have ensured that it will help potential candidates and the hiring committee quickly screen for the least likely candidates, it’s time to post. But where do you post the job description?

The easiest place to start is general job search sites, a short list of which you’ll see below.
 
  • Idealist
  • Monster
  • ASAE:CareerHQ
  • Craigslist
  • Indeed
  • CareerBuilder
  • LinkedIn’s Nonprofit Job Board


Other places you should consider posting the job would be with your local community centers, churches, community colleges and universities, and libraries.

Have more suggestions? Share on our social media channels!

The next segment of this series will discuss finding candidates with refined or specific qualifications. Since many nonprofits often rely heavily on informal networks for hiring & finding new talent, these are sometimes the most difficult jobs to fill.
 
*UST’s offering ThinkHR can help UST members build strong well-written job descriptions and evaluate pre-existing job descriptions against similar, if not exact, jobs. Learn more here.
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.
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.
January 16, 2018

An Effective Promotions Policy is Vital to Company Success

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 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.

October 21, 2016

HR Question: Time Off for Voting

Question: Is there a federal law that requires employers to provide employees with a certain amount of time off for voting?

Answer: Currently, no federal law requires employers provide employees with time off to vote. However, most states require employers to allow voters time off to vote and prohibit employers from disciplining or terminating employees for taking time off to vote.

For instance, according to Cal. Election Code §§ 14000 – 14003, if a voter does not have sufficient time outside of working hours to vote at a statewide election, the voter may, without loss of pay, take off enough working time that, when added to the voting time available outside of working hours, will enable the voter to vote. However, no more than two hours of the time taken off for voting may be without loss of pay. The time off for voting will only be at the beginning or end of the regular working shift, whichever allows the most free time for voting and the least time off from the regular working shift, unless otherwise mutually agreed. If the employee, on the third working day prior to the day of election, knows or has reason to believe that time off will be necessary to be able to vote on election day, the employee must give the employer at least two working days’ notice that time off for voting is desired, in accordance with the statute.

Finally, no less than 10 days before every statewide election, every employer must keep posted conspicuously at the place of work, if practicable, or elsewhere where it can be seen as employees come or go to their place of work, a notice setting forth employee voting leave rights.

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.

November 08, 2016

Important Information about Affordable Care Act Reporting for 2016

The final forms and instructions that employers will use for 2016 reporting under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have been released by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Employers that provided basic healthcare coverage on a self-funded basis in 2016 are required to report the names and social security numbers (SSNs) of all covered individuals. While this is the second year of reporting for most employers, many still struggle with the process of how to effectively report SSN’s for all covered individuals and their dependents.

If you are an applicable large employer (ALE) that employed 50 or more full-time or full-time equivalent employees during the current reporting year, you must report to the IRS whether or not you did or didn’t offer healthcare coverage by completing Form 1095-C and 1094-C.

The requirement to report enrollment information on each covered individual, including dependent names and SSNs, only applies to employers that self-fund a minimum essential coverage health plan (e.g., major medical, PPO, HDHP). For an ALE, the self-funded plan enrollment information is reported in Part III of Form 1095-C while a “small” (non-ALE) employer reports the information in Part IV of Form 1095-B.

You can review a copy of the IRS proposed regulation on TIN solicitation here.

This article was adapted from ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace provided to UST members at no additional cost. Get answers to your HR questions and sign your nonprofit up for a free30-day trial. 

November 16, 2016

Ready or Not, Here Comes Change

Change can be either good or bad... but if you don’t know what is changing and when, your organization is at serious risk.

UST helps nonprofits efficiently manage such risk through its industry-leading HR Workplace—a cloud-based compliance library that keeps you up-to-date on urgent regulatory changes that can impact your nonprofit’s operations.

Rather than wading through thousands of internet search results, UST participants can readily view which laws are applicable to them by utilizing the HR Workplace’s state-specific search engine. Additionally, the newly added compliance calendar automatically notifies employers of key filing deadlines at both the state and federal level.

Wouldn’t you like the confidence that comes with having the latest regulatory requirements, specific to your nonprofit, at your fingertips?

To test-drive the most popular HR tools, including the live HR hotline, employee handbook builder and compliance calendar, you can sign up for a free 30-day trial today.

If you’re a 501(c)(3) with 10+ employees, submit a free Unemployment Cost Analysis online and find out whether UST can help your nonprofit avoid costly legal fees and save significantly on administrative costs for 2017. For more information, contact a dedicated UST cost advisor at 888-249-4788.

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.

January 19, 2018

Why it Matters to Have Fun at Work

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

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

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

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

January 05, 2018

5 Worst Ways to Give ‘Constructive’ Feedback

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

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

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

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

3) Lack of preparation – Making an assessment or judgment call prior to gathering all the facts and examining the logic of your assessment, can lead to a very negative outcome. Situations like these could lead to resentment or lose of respect for the manager.

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

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

December 20, 2017

The Truth Behind Nonprofit Marketing

Leaders in the nonprofit sector can share in the same sentiment when it comes to concerns surrounding the day-to-day operations of a nonprofit organization—especially with marketing. While marketing can affect many aspects of your organization, the most vulnerable could be your reputation and financial well-being.  In the light of such concerns, some nonprofits have managed to achieve marketing success by using the services of a third-party marketing firm. While this option is not feasible for all nonprofits, having some type of marketing strategy in place is crucial for your organization.  Creating a well-organized and strategic marketing plan that remains true to your mission and keeps your organization within budget, will bring your nonprofit to new heights.

While there are many effective marketing strategies, discovering which one is beneficial for your organization is key to ensuring you receive the most from your efforts. Learning how to use analytics, and accessing different testing methods can help point you in the right direction of what your organization may need to get started on its marketing journey. Also, integrating the latest tools into your website and social channels will help your organization stay relevant and current.

A good marketing plan is interlined from top to bottom. For each goal, there are objectives, every objective has strategies, and each strategy has tactics.  Without good tactics, a strategy will not successfully complete an objective, rendering the success of a goal. A true marketing plan should employ the right mix of experience with critical thinking.

If your nonprofit has allocated a portion of their budget towards marketing, they’ll typically put it towards “outbound” marketing, i.e., email marketing, newspaper advertising, and press releases. Where “inbound” marketing, i.e., social media marketing, can be beneficial for nonprofits to generate leads, it can be difficult to turn these leads into donors. With marketing being such an essential part of the nonprofit framework, it requires participation from all aspects of the organization in order to see any return from such efforts.

Nonprofit marketing is an ongoing commitment that requires the development of new ways to keep your following engaged and willing to donate. Nonprofits are well-positioned to tell stories that have the ability to make an impact. By creating a comprehensive content marketing strategy, realigning your marketing dollars, and ensuring your goals, objectives and tactics are in place, your great stories will go further – attracting and motivating your audiences to do even more.

August 30, 2017

How to Help Employees Bounce Back After Failure

Being a part of the working world, we’ve all encountered moments of failure. Take this scenario for example: You’ve been assigned a task, you’ve completed your research, and you believe you’ve done all you could do to prepare—however, things still don’t work out in your favor. While we all recognize the importance of learning from our mistakes, employees can struggle to bounce back from missteps. From a project that didn’t meet its target objectives to an important missed deadline, what is the best course of action to take to help your employees recover?

Employees can take on failure in one of two ways:

1)      People can bounce back from their mistakes with a clear mind and resolve.

2)      People can feel crushed, lose confidence and even stop doing the things that made them successful.

How you communicate with your employees can have a huge influence on their performance. For the nonprofit sector in particular, it’s crucial to maximize what limited bandwidth there is—in order to achieve steep mission objectives. When building resilience in your employees, you must consider the tactics that work and don’t work when restoring an employee’s confidence.

While building up an employee’s self-image or giving a pep talk is harmless, it doesn’t seem to provide much help to the situation at hand. A pep talk can gloss over the failure rather than addressing the problem (and potential solution) head on. To be their guide to move on from the disappointment and better manage his or her emotions is essential. Also, encouraging people to forgive themselves, while still holding themselves accountable for their mistakes, is a beneficial tactic for people to build upon their mishaps.

Follow this simple 3-step model to bounce back from failure:

1)      Acceptance- People need to come to terms with the fact that they made a mistake and understand why.  This helps people own their failures.

2)      Forgiveness- Encourage employees to forgive themselves. Use empathetic wording, such as “This is a tough job; you’re not the only one that is having a hard time” or “Try not to beat yourself up over this.”

3)      Planning- Help employees plan their way forward. Figure out what they can do to fix the damage, if possible, and how to avoid making a similar mistake in the future.

October 27, 2017

How to Invest in Talent on a Nonprofit Budget

Talent plays a critical role in the overall performance of a nonprofit. However, according to the 2016 Nonprofit Employment Practices Survey, 84 percent of nonprofits don’t have a formal retention strategy in place and the turnover rate has gradually increased over the past few years. Behind all this data, there is a noticeable pattern across these nonprofit organizations of why this is happening—limited budgets.

Allocating a portion of your operating budget to invest in talent will ensure that your organization has an engaged team to guide your mission in the right direction.  To achieve true sustainability for your organization, you must compensate your talent appropriately and commit both time and resources to strengthening your culture.

Fortunately, there are many ways to foster a healthy and effective workforce that won’t have a direct impact on your budget. Besides compensation, there are other important factors that drive employee satisfaction—culture, values, organizational leadership, work-life-balance and career opportunities. Here are several cost-effective solutions to use when finding talent regardless of budget constraints:

1) Define Your Culture- Regardless of your nonprofit’s budget, you can have a strong organizational culture and, in turn, will encourage advancement of your mission. The most effective nonprofits tend to have employees that have the highest level of culture satisfaction. In order to have a positive corporate culture, nonprofits should apply the following components:

  • Vision
  • Values
  • Practices
  • People
  • Narrative
  • Place

 

2) Implement Diversity Initiatives- According to a recent Glassdoor survey, 67 percent of jobseekers indicated that a diverse workforce is an important factor when considering a new employer. While diversity has an impact on recruiting, it also plays a significant role in organizational performance. According to McKinsey & Company, diverse companies are 35 percent more likely to outperform less diverse companies.

 

3) Incorporate New Management and Feedback Processes- While an overhaul to your approach on performance management can be costly and time consuming; you can now make incremental improvements even with a tight budget, and see major results. Improvements may include switching to quarterly reviews, encouraging employee feedback and evaluate current performance management tools. 

4) Encourage Self-Care and Work Life Balance- Actively promote self-care and let your team know that even in times of budget restraints, you value their well-being. Educate your team members regularly on how they can incorporate better wellness practices into their daily routines.

July 13, 2017

Ten Things You Should Be Doing When an Employee Unexpectedly Resigns

Unexpected resignations can present big challenges for any business but especially for nonprofits with an already limited staff. Image the shock slowly turning into disappointment, anger and dread. Abrupt departures can be an emotional blow to the psyche, especially if it is someone who has positively contributed to the company. Now what?

Once you’ve processed the emotional aspects of losing a star employee, you’re then faced with the challenge of making sure things run smoothly through the transition. The following steps can help you effectively manage your staff during an unexpected staff departure:

  1. Accept and reflect - Don’t take it personally, oftentimes employees resign for growth opportunities and if their reasons are related to your management style, they usually won’t say so. How you act now is pivotal in maintaining a good standing with them and sparing the company from any backlash once the employee is officially gone.
  2. Show your support – A good manager will support and wish its employee well. Don’t hesitate to offer a recommendation if the employee deserves it.
  3. Confer with your Human Resources department – It’s important to understand company procedure as related to resignations so you are prepared on how to handle any specific questions that may arise.
  4. Explore the merits of a counter-offer – You should be selective about who to give a counter-offer to and who to let go. Whether or not to make a counter offer comes down to how critical this person is to you and how much of a disruption their absence will cause.
  5. Develop a transition plan – Deciding how to divvy up responsibilities while you are short-handed can be difficult. Start by determining which tasks just can’t go unattended and if any can be put on hold. Discuss those priorities with your staff to divide among existing employees and ascertain if additional interim help will be required.
  6. Communicate – You can’t control how others will react to the news, but you can control how it gets communicated. Be positive and show respect by acknowledging the work the departing employee has done. Being honest about the impact on the team and offering a temporary plan of action will go a long way in easing the minds of your remaining staff.
  7. Transfer knowledge – Once you have figured out who will take on what, it’s a good idea to arrange time for training during the notice period before the departing employee leaves. Capturing unique knowledge the employee has developed over the years isn’t always as easy to capture but having an extensive shadowing mechanism can help in obtaining that information.
  8. Review the current job description and revise if necessary – Transitions are a good time to review a job description. You want to ensure company needs are being met and possibly add new responsibilities. Asking employees for input on what skills, experience and qualities they would like to find in the new hire can help ensure any gaps are covered.
  9. Post the job opening ASAP – Coordinate with HR to formally post a job listing in an effort to show your staff this transition period is temporary.
  10. Throw a Going Away Party – This small gesture should never be overlooked. It’s important to gather your team and say “thanks” to the person leaving. Failure to acknowledge an employee’s departure and his or her contributions sends a bad message to the rest of your team.

When an employee resigns it creates uncertainty which creates stress. While losing some of your best people is inevitable, it doesn’t have to wreak havoc on the entire infrastructure. Managers set the tone for what happens next and with clear communication and mindful delegation; you can ensure an unexpected departure doesn’t turn your business structure upside down.

June 08, 2017

Nonprofit HR Toolkit 2017

Here at UST we've put together our Top 10 guides for 2017 Nonprofit Human Resource management. And for a limited time we're giving them away for FREE.

You can use these tools to make sure your nonprofit is in compliance all year long. Plus, you'll learn the top trends in nonprofit job satisfaction so you can retain your mission's best assets: your staff. Click below to download the full toolkit, courtesy of UST and ThinkHR:

  1. Quick 2017 HR Practices Checklist
  2. Federal HR Compliance Chart
  3. Federal Recordkeeping Requirements Checklist
  4. Small Employer ACA Checklist
  5. Large Employer ACA Checklist
  6. Workers' Compensation Audit Checklist
  7. 2017 State and Federal Minimum Wages
  8. 6 Reasons Nonprofit Employees QUIT eBook
  9. Webinar Recording: Updating Your Employee Handbook
  10. Unemployment Cost Analysis Form

Download Now

Still have questions? Don't forget we're here for any of your unemployment cost questions or to set you up with a free 30-day trial of our HR Workplace, where nonprofits can get HR questions answered in just 24 hours, and explore our step-by-step Employee Classification, Handbook, and Salary Tools.

June 13, 2017

Effective Teams Communicate

Humans are social creatures by nature. We work together, play together, and live together – we communicate on a daily basis with little to no effort. Verbal and non-verbal, quietly or loudly, we’ve been communicating our whole lives, so why, is it sometimes so difficult?

When people communicate effectively, in a way that makes all parties feel heard, even conflict and criticism can be constructive and lead to positive results. In business, a lack of effective communication can be detrimental. People are hired for jobs that they are knowledgeable about and have the skills to perform - but if they can’t interact with those around them in a productive manner, the whole team suffers and so does the bottom line.

Communication isn’t just about the words we say. It also includes the way we say it and the physical signals we use. Being able to read people’s nonverbal communication, such as body language and facial expressions, can give a much deeper understanding of the message being transmitted. Often times, conflict arises when written text is taken out of context because there are no visual signs that come along with it. Say the wrong thing, and the infrastructure of a team can quickly fall apart - effective communication can actually help build trust and employee engagement.

Tips on how to increase positive communication:

  1. Listen carefully – pay attention and ask clarifying questions
  2. Speak clearly – be concise and show confidence
  3. Watch your body language – make frequent eye contact
  4. Be respectful– put away the distractions
  5. Up your empathy – verbal or non-verbal feedback

People communicate differently depending on their personal and professional backgrounds. Some may need more mentoring than others on best practices. It all comes down to getting to know the people you’re communicating with and being able to adjust your communication style accordingly. Developing good communication skills is a must and good managers know that communication is a key factor in success and a vital part of teamwork.

May 19, 2017

Webinar: Unemployment & HR Risk Management with UST

With $30 million in potential unemployment liability mitigated last year for over 2,100 nonprofits, it's likely that your nonprofit could be overpaying. This short 30-minute webinar reveals some of the most common unemployment & HR risks that can cost your nonprofit thousands of dollars. After identifying the risks, this webinar reveals UST's top recommendations to combat these issues.

Nonprofit Executives, Directors, and HR staff with 10 or more employees should register to learn about:

  • Reducing unemployment tax liability as a 501(c)(3)
  • Benchmarking unemployment costs
  • Protecting funding from claims and liability
  • Efficiently managing unemployment claims, protests, and hearings
  • Avoiding costly HR mistakes
  • Enhancing goodwill by utilizing outplacement services

The webinar will also explore UST's holistic program, created by and for nonprofits, which can help further lower your unemployment and HR liability. You can also get your questions answered live by an expert HR advisor at UST.

Register for your preferred webinar date at: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/3707595373010251522

Even if you can't attend live, when you register we'll send you the recording as well as any handouts you'll need to make sure your nonprofit is in compliance.

May 17, 2017

Webinar Recording: Best Practices in Outplacement Services for Nonprofits

Is your nonprofit facing seasonal employment or in fear of funding cuts?

Marilyn Stemper, National Director of CareerArc, reveals how nonprofits who are utilizing outplacement services can more effectively reduce unemployment claims costs while establishing goodwill among former employees. (With CareerArc, you can help your displaced staff members find work up to 73% faster!)

CareerArc can help your former employees find new jobs quickly, with:

  •   Online & on-demand professional career coaching
  •   Interactive, flexible resume building and job search tools
  •   Networking guides and automated social media searches
  •   Interview tips and practice tools

As a nonprofit, every dollar that you're not paying in unemployment benefits is a dollar in support of your mission.

Watch the webinar recording today and learn how you can generate great savings and goodwill.

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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 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

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 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 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?
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