September 26, 2017

Tech Distractions in the Workplace

No one will argue that distractions in the workplace can kill productivity – from excessive cellphone use and gossiping co-workers to internet abuse and cubicle visits. But it’s that little device, the one that is always nearby – in our pocket, on our nightstand, at the dinner table with us or atop our desk at work. That’s the one that is the biggest distraction of all and while technology helps to simplify our lives, for many employers, it’s killing productivity.

Life as we knew it a decade or so ago, no longer exist. Things have changed drastically since cellphones came into existence and more so now that our smartphones are smarter than ever before. Just last year, dscout, reported that the average cellphone user tapped, swiped, typed or clicked 2,617 times a day. That’s almost three hours a day which implies that employees are spending at least some time at work with personal devices in hand.

While we can’t avoid all distractions – emails, slack chats, meetings, the loud co-worker, we can minimize some of them and many companies are doing just that by implementing policies that either prohibit or limit cellphone use in the workplace. By removing this particular type of distraction, employers decrease the amount of time being spent on messaging apps, social media and other sites that are in no way related to their employees work. Another option being explored are “no-tech” days in which there is no email and or internal instant messaging communication happening. The idea is that there is more time for employees to just focus on pending projects or other pressing matters without the repetitive interruptions.

While neither of these measures are fool-proof, they may help in creating more productivity and better time management. For some, these tactics work, for others, not so much. Policing workers without managing their expectations can make an office feel oppressive but encouraging official breaks can be a healthier way to nudge employees to stay focused during work hours. If you want your staff to spend more time thinking about work and less time being distracted by outside sources, be the example. Then start monitoring what’s happening in your office before making any official changes to ensure you take a course of action that best suits the needs of the company and its employees.

September 22, 2017

4 Common Mistakes Nonprofits Make Using Compentencies in Talent Management

Competencies are designed to help individuals grow in their roles and their organizations. However, when competencies are poorly defined or applied incorrectly, they can undermine a nonprofit’s talent management process.

According to the Stanford Social Innovation Review, 1 in 4 senior nonprofit executives will leave their organizations within the next 2 years. These departures can result in a loss of productivity and require the use of organizational resources in order to fill the position. The time and energy spent recruiting and looking for a replacement can equal an employee’s salary depending on the position. These retention rates can have an effect on the managerial level as well. Research shows that managers believe that finding employment elsewhere is the only way they will grow faster.

To reduce turnover, nonprofits can create a talent management process that defines and uses competencies that will help individuals grow in their roles and organizations. When defined and used properly, competencies can help identify particular skills, capabilities, and experiences needed for employees to perform at their best and to encourage future growth.

Here are 4 common mistakes nonprofit organizations make when defining and using competencies:

1. To use competencies properly when assessing an individual’s performance.

A performance assessment of an individual should be based primarily on how well they are doing against their agreed upon goals and target for the year. Competencies enable this performance and act as a guide for individuals to understand the skills they need to develop to improve their performance over time.  Organizations that do this right use the performance assessment to identify the competencies for each individual to work on.

2. Only thinking of competencies in relation to the work of the individual and organization.

Most nonprofits, that have identified and defined competencies, use a list of job-related competencies. These are generally relevant for everyone in the organization (e.g. communication, dependability, workload management) and can include ones that are specific to certain roles. However, many nonprofit organizations forget that they need to have a set of leadership competencies along with the job competencies — to encourage organizational success.

3. Failing to tailor competencies that are both organization-specific and future oriented.

Some nonprofits have a starter set of competencies that they work with that were either pulled from an HR website or another resource. However, most organizations have not considered if these competencies will enable the organization to achieve strategic priorities. While starter lists provide a good foundation, there needs to be a set of competencies that are specific to their work and encourages future success.

4. Not defining competencies that make them user friendly for development purposes.

While many organizations have a short definition for each competency, only a few have taken the time to create a more elaborate definition for each one. This would provide a better understanding of what it means to progress from an early stage to an advanced stage for each competency.

Nonprofit organizations that approach identifying and using competencies with leadership development in mind avoid many of these pitfalls. In addition, getting the competencies right and using them for development purposes gives nonprofits a better chance at increasing retention and job satisfaction among emerging leaders.

September 20, 2017

The Two Sides of Telecommuting

Telecommuting has grown exponentially over the last several decades and is more popular now than ever before as employees seek to find more balance between work and their personal lives. In order to achieve, both employees and employers are reinventing what it means to go to work every day.

Technology has made it possible to work from just about anywhere and as such; many employers are providing their employees the opportunity to work remotely. According to the 2017 State of Telecommuting in the U.S. Employee Workforce Report, released earlier this year, from Global Workplace Analytics and FlexJobs, the number of workers who are telecommuting at least part –time has increased by an astronomical 115% in a decade.

Working outside of the office allows employees to have that better work-life balance and often results in more productive and engaged workers who are less stressed and more likely to stay on the job long term. Not to mention that less stressed individuals are typically healthier individuals who take fewer sick days. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, average commute times in the United States are 25.4 minutes which means workers can free up almost 4.5 hours over a 5-day work week.

Employers also see the savings from flexible scheduling – by allowing an employee to telecommute just part-time companies can save more than $11,000 a year on things like real estate space, office supplies and healthcare costs. It’s important not to forget that telecommuting is also the greenest way to work, reducing the carbon imprint for each non-commuting worker.

On the flip side, there can be challenges such as a loss of boundaries between work and home, a lack of discipline on the employees part – they become unavailable for hours at a time, don’t communicate with co-workers for extended periods or more simply put just aren’t working when they should be. Telecommuting can be disastrous for anyone who is unmotivated or disorganized and some individuals just don’t operate well in isolation. When managers lose the ability to control work and oversee timelines for these individuals things can go downhill quickly.

Remote work, like any work, isn’t for everyone and not everyone wants it. The range of flexible work options is broad so companies should consider the needs of each department and individual roles before electing to offer such a program. Also having clear guidelines and policies on what’s expected from remote workers can help to alleviate any unexpected surprises. Remote work is about working smarter, not harder, making the company and its employees, better.

September 15, 2017

[Webinar] Unemployment & HR Risk Management with UST

For a limited time, UST offers their highest attended webinar – a 30 minute presentation just for nonprofit executives, CFOs and HR leaders.

Santa Barbara, CA (September 13, 2017) – The Unemployment Service Trust (UST), a program dedicated to providing nonprofits with dedicated HR support and educational tools, presents a short 30-minute webinar, revealing some of the most common unemployment & HR risks that can cost nonprofits thousands of dollars. With $30 million in potential unemployment liability mitigated last year for over 2,100 nonprofits, it’s likely that a good majority of nonprofit organizations are unknowingly overpaying.

After identifying the risks, the webinar, “Unemployment & HR Risk Management with UST,” reveals UST’s top recommendations to combat these issues. This presentation teaches attendees 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, which is already helping more than 2,200 participating nonprofits lower their unemployment and HR liability. 501(c)(3) nonprofits with 10 or more full time employees are able to register for their preferred webinar date today:

September 11, 2017

Meet US(T) Mondays - Jessica

Jessica joined the Unemployment Services Trust in late July as a Sales Specialist. As an avid volunteer with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the American Cancer Society, she was excited to get involved at a much deeper level and start helping nonprofits save money for their missions.

At the age of nine, Jessica was first recognized for her love of helping others when she was interviewed by the local newspaper and appeared on the front page for feeding the seagulls at the harbor. Outside of her love for volunteering, Jessica enjoys the great outdoors and spending as much time as possible with her family. She also has a love for cooking and states that her friends and family have said that she makes the best of everything…we’re looking forward to tasting some of her food soon.

When asked what TV show her life emulates, she said Full House. As she explained, “This show represents everything I believe in when it comes to raising your children. There’s lots of communication, and you see their family always being supportive in all situations.” When you take into consideration that the holiday season is all about joy, family and the traditions we grow to love, it’s no wonder Christmas is Jessica’s favorite holiday.

A favorite quote of hers by Mother Teresa is a beautiful one…“Be faithful in the small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”

Help us in welcoming Jessica to the team via Twitter @USTTrust or Facebook @ChooseUST with the hashtag #MeetUSTMondays!

September 08, 2017

U.S. Continues to Show Progress with Employment Growth

Employers added 156,000 jobs in August and the economy requires 150,000 new jobs each month in order to continue expanding. Considering the economy is growing at a healthy rate, tax cuts and increased spending in 2017 may cause for inflation.

In August, both the unemployment rate, at 4.4 percent, and the number of unemployed persons, at 7.1 million, were little changed from July. After a decline at the start of the year, the unemployment rate has remained at a consistent range from 4.3 or 4.4 percent since April. The labor-force participation rate- People who had a job or were looking for one—remained unchanged at 62.9 percent.

The U.S. economy added 36,000 jobs in manufacturing while construction increased by 28,000 and health care rose by 20,000. Employment in the professional and technical services industry has shown a gradual increase over the course of the year with 22,000 positions filled for the month of August. Mining industry has gained 7,000—employment in mining has risen by 10 percent since October 2016. Employment in other major industries, such as wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, and government, showed little to no change over the course of the month.

In August, average hourly earnings rose by 3 cents, after rising by 9 cents in July. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 2.5 percent. In addition, the average hourly earnings of the private-sector productions and non-supervisory employees increased by 4 cents.

Keep in mind, Hurricane Harvey had no direct effect on the employment and unemployment data for the month of August. Household surveys data collection was completed before the storm. Establishment survey data collection for this new release was mostly completed prior to the storm, and collection rates were within normal ranges nationally and for the affected areas.

September 01, 2017

Better Together: A Partner Spotlight on Colorado Nonprofit Insurance Agency

Established in 1989, the Colorado Nonprofit Insurance Agency has been a UST partner since 1983. Having recently joined forces with HUB International, the agency is devoted to serving the 501(c)(3) nonprofit community by providing affordable insurance designed exclusively for nonprofits. Originally established as a benefit to the Colorado Nonprofit Association, the organization has grown in leaps and bounds since its inception.

The Colorado Nonprofit Insurance Agency negotiates and contracts with insurance carriers, evaluates products for quality and cost, researches and develops new products and concentrates on educating  their members.  A full-service insurance agency, CNIA offers a wide range of products including liability, property, Workers’ Compensation and employee benefits such as health, life and disability coverage. Additionally they provide employee benefit programs ranging from flexible spending accounts to wellness programs.

Serving the Colorado nonprofit community with their insurance needs is all they do! Dedicated to helping 501(c)(3) charitable organizations for over two decades, the Colorado Nonprofit Insurance Agency has many years of experience helping nonprofits determine the best insurance coverage needed to protect their unique needs.  For more information on CNIA visit

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.

August 22, 2017

HR Question: Recruiting via Text Message

Question:  Is recruiting via text messaging a thing?

Answer: Believe it or not, yes. Recruiting via text messaging is not only “a thing” but is a common method used by recruiters when attempting to quickly reach out to potential job candidates. According to recruiters that text candidates, text messages have a 98 percent open rate. This means that nearly all of the texts are “opened” by the user as opposed to emails, which are opened at a significantly lower rate. Additionally, the average response time for a text is only 90 seconds whereas emails can take infinitely longer — assuming the email is even opened.

Another reason that recruiters are using texts to connect is that many candidates are already employed. Therefore, recruiters are finding it is easier to communicate with an employed candidate via text because the conversation is limited to the screen of the device rather than a phone conversation which can be overheard if conducted during working hours, or worse, an email received on a work-owned device that could be viewed by the current employer.

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.

August 17, 2017

Nonprofits Experience $27.8 Million in Unemployment Claims Savings With UST Program

Utilizing State-Specific Unemployment Claims Administrators, Who Help Protest Unemployment Claims and Attend 100 % of Hearings, UST Participants Save More than $27.8 Million in Unemployment Claims Costs.

Santa Barbara, CA (August 14, 2017) – The Unemployment Services Trust (UST), a program dedicated to helping nonprofits reduce paperwork burdens and protect assets, today announced it has identified $26,219,466.13 in unemployment claims cost savings plus an additional $1,592,247.82 in errors that are refunded to UST participants.

Since 1972, 501(c)(3) nonprofits have possessed the exclusive ability to opt out of the state unemployment tax system and instead pay dollar-for-dollar for their own unemployment claims—as allowed by federal law. UST provides nonprofits the tools they need to exercise their unique tax-exemption status in a safe and cost-effective manner, through dedicated administrative support, e-Filing capabilities and expert claims advice.

UST participants are able to efficiently combat improper unemployment claims, meet important deadlines and prepare for claims hearings by utilizing their state-specific claims representative—helping them to avoid costly penalties while offsetting the administrative headache. UST’s claims administrator equips more than 2,200 participating nonprofits with the guidance and resources they need to confidently manage their claims process.

“In a sector where employee bandwidth and funding is often stretched, it’s beyond rewarding to know that UST provides such significant savings to our nonprofit members,” says Donna Groh, Executive Director of UST. “We know this money filters right back into the nonprofit community and that’s what the UST program is all about—strengthening nonprofits’ missions.”

501(c)(3) nonprofit employers with 10 or more employees can submit a free Unemployment Cost Analysis form to readily determine whether their organization is overpaying in state unemployment taxes. Those who enroll in the UST Program will receive instant access to expert claims advice.

August 14, 2017

Meet US(T) Mondays - Aron

Aron joined the Unemployment Services Trust in mid-April as a UST Account Specialist and is excited to be working directly with a vast variety of nonprofit organizations. Fittingly, one of his favorite quotes is "Be the change you want to see in the world" which makes him a great addition to the UST team.

Outside of the workplace, Aron enjoys working out and Python coding, a general purpose programming language created in the late 1980’s that is used by thousands of people to do things from testing microchips to building video games. He also does his own shopping and cooking which is fitting since food came up a lot during our Q&A.  His favorite holiday is Thanksgiving and not coincidently, his favorite childhood memory involves food – he shared, “it was the first time I was given a whole torta all to myself.”

When asked what TV show his life emulates, he said General Hospital, explaining “Everyone has heard of it and knows about it but no one really knows who’s in it or what it’s about.” An exciting adventure in his life story would be a visit to the Nurburgring Race Track in Germany where high performance cars are tested for speed but open to the public for those with an adventurous side – a place Aron has wanted to visit for some time.

Help us in welcoming Aron to the team via Twitter @USTTrust or Facebook @ChooseUST with the hashtag #MeetUSTMondays!

August 09, 2017

Understanding and Utilizing Different Office Personalities

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 04, 2017

Better Together: A Partner Spotlight on Minnesota Council of Nonprofits

Founded in 1987, the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits has been a UST partner since 1990 and is the largest state association of nonprofit s in the U.S. Founded to meet the increasing informational needs of nonprofits, MCN provides the capacity to do together what these organizations could not do individually.

Working to inform, promote, connect and strengthen individual groups and the nonprofit sector as a whole, MCN joins nonprofits together to work on issues of common concern. Since its inception, they have served thousands of member organizations, formed numerous chapters, sponsored countless annual conferences and sees a myriad number of unique website visitors per week.

Some of the tools available through the MCN Resource Library include:

  • Fundraising planning
  • Nonprofit Marketing
  • Education and professional development for nonprofit managers and leaders
  • Leadership and Governance
  • Public policy education and civic engagement
  • Cost saving product partnerships
  • Research on nonprofit sector trends and tax budget issues
  • Advocacy at local, state and federal levels
  • And much more…

MCN continuously aims at strengthening nonprofits’ inclusion and engagement practices while increasing the sector’s effectiveness in serving new and underrepresented populations. Dedicated to ensuring that nonprofit organizations from across all interests accomplish their missions for a healthy, cooperative and just society, MCN has grown from a grand idea to a solid foundation with 22 state allies and numerous national affiliations. For more information on the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits visit

July 18, 2017

Social Media Best Practice Tips for Nonprofits

Nowadays, there is a plethora of social media platforms that allow both individuals and organizations to network, share, and promote—but are you truly living up to your nonprofit’s technological potential?

Whether you’re on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or any other public forums, social media is an incredibly effective way to strengthen your n onprofit ’s voice. Ranging from sector news to teambuilding pictures to campaign promotions, social media is a fast, cost-effective method in broadening your audience and developing your brand.

Here are 7 quick tips that will help your organization strengthen its impact throughout the nonprofit sector via social media:

  1. Avoid being a passive presence—Why limit yourself to merely posting information? Social media is meant to be interactive. Support other local organizations and your nonprofit peers to build a greater sense of community.
  2. Use social media all year round—Don’t just post announcements and blogs when a specific event or promotion nears. Incorporate news and articles that are relevant to your targeted audience on a consistent basis throughout the year.
  3. You’re a human, so act like one—People are more likely to empathize with you and support your nonprofit if the articles and posts they see appear to come from a relatable individual (rather than just an automated robot). When using social media, you must show your personality in order to grab people’s attention.
  4. Share, share, share—Your nonprofit’s not the only organization promoting a noteworthy cause. Be sure to share other people’s ideas that you support or that would be of interest to your social media followers.
  5. Create trust amongst your community— Whether you’re replying to comments on your blog or soliciting feedback for new content, your followers will be appreciative of your thoughtful communication efforts. Providing people with the information they actually want will make them view you as a one-stop shop for nonprofit news and tips.
  6. Tell your nonprofit’s story—How did your nonprofit get its start? How have you grown over the years and who specifically have you impacted? It’s important to tell your audience not only what you do but why you do it in order to cultivate respect and support for your nonprofit.
  7. Discuss real-life successes—In order for your audience to get a better sense of how your nonprofit impacts the community, share before and after stories of specific individuals your nonprofit has helped over the years. This way, people can readily put themselves in others’ shoes and determine if your nonprofit is a good fit for them as well.

While many nonprofits are limited by a smaller budget and staff size, social media is a great way to grow one’s network, attract potential donors and supporters, and cultivate a reputable voice that can influence people nationwide.

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 sta ff. 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.

July 11, 2017

HR Question: Different Parental Leave Programs for Women and Men

Question: Is having different parental leave programs for women and men discriminatory?

Answer: Yes. Parental leave must be provided to similarly situated men and women on the same terms. For example, if an employer extends leave to new mothers beyond the period of disability from childbirth (for instance, to provide the mothers time to bond with and/or care for the baby), the employer cannot lawfully fail to provide an equivalent amount of leave to new fathers for the same purpose.

According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an employer may not discriminate against an employee on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions; and women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions must be treated the same as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work. It is important to note that for purposes of determining these Title VII requirements, employers should carefully distinguish between leave related to any physical limitations imposed by pregnancy or childbirth and leave for purposes of bonding with a child and/or providing care for a child (parental leave). Leave related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions can be limited to women affected by those conditions.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) provides the following examples of nondiscriminatory versus discriminatory leave policies as applied to men and women:

  • An employer offers pregnant employees up to 10 weeks of paid pregnancy-related medical leave for pregnancy and childbirth as part of its short-term disability insurance. The employer also offers new parents, whether male or female, six weeks of parental leave. A male employee alleges that this policy is discriminatory as it gives up to 16 weeks of leave to women and only six weeks of leave to men. In this example, the employer’s policy does not violate Title VII. Women and men both receive six weeks of parental leave, and women who give birth receive up to an additional 10 weeks of leave for recovery from pregnancy and childbirth under the short-term disability plan.
  • In addition to providing medical leave for women with pregnancy-related conditions and for new mothers to recover from childbirth, an employer provides six additional months of paid leave for new mothers to bond with and care for their new babies. The employer does not provide any paid parental leave for fathers. In this example, the employer’s policy violates Title VII because it does not provide paid parental leave on equal terms to women and men.

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.

July 07, 2017

Are Your Nonprofit Programs in Align With Your Mission?

There is not one nonprofit organization that wants to cut programs it believes furthers its mission. But too often, nonprofits keep programs long after they’ve stopped being effective and worth the cost. Sometimes it is necessary to scale back or even eliminate programs so that funds can be better spent launching new initiatives that help the organization meet its core mission.

Communities are constantly changing and your nonprofit must be prepared to change with them. Do your homework and research what is working and what is not – never assume the effectiveness of your programs.

  • Survey participants, members, donors, employees, volunteers and other stakeholders about which of your programs are the most—and the least—effective and why.
  • Review your community’s demographic data for changes relevant to your program offerings.
  • Ask the community what they know of unmet needs or new trends that should affect your programming decisions.

While you don’t want to eliminate anyone’s opinions, you do want to be careful about how the feedback is used to rid your organization of obsolete programs and create new ones. If one of your programs is clearly ineffective and another is wildly successful, the decision to redeploy funds to the successful program is obvious. And keep in mind that new programs can be variations of old ones, just re-vamped to better serve your nonprofits core mission, values and goals.

Undoubtedly, you already have goals in place that measure each of your programs progress. If you don’t, now is the time to set them up. Being able to easily identify what is working and what is not, is pivotal to your nonprofit’s success.

Before deciding whether to cut a program or start a new one, be strategic and realistic about your expectations. Being able to recognize when it’s time for a change and how to best use what funding is available will help ensure successful programs.

July 05, 2017

[Webinar Recording] What to Do When Employee Behavior Crosses the Line

PT Barnum’s quote, “There is no such thing as bad publicity” is not the case when an employee comes forward with a claim of harassment or hostile work environment and, to make matters worse, discusses the company’s handling of the situation on social media or in the press.

If you’re a company like Uber, you can hire the former Attorney General to manage the issue. But if you’re not, what can you do to get things under control? And how could your company have avoided the issue to begin with?

Presented by ThinkHR, this on-demand webinar highlights the latest best practices and tools to prevent harassment and discrimination claims.

You’ll learn the key components of respectful workplace cultures for prevention as well as practical ideas for conducting investigations into claims of improper conduct to help resolve issues when they arise.

Watch the webinar recording today!

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

June 30, 2017

Better Together: A Partner Spotlight on Connecticut Community Nonprofit Alliance

A UST partner since 1983, the CT Community Nonprofit Alliance is the largest advocacy organization for nonprofits in Connecticut, representing hundreds of nonprofit organizations across all categories—ranging from Health and Human Service programs to Arts and Culture. After the Connecticut Association of Nonprofits and Connecticut Community Providers Association joined forces in early 2016, the 600+ nonprofits represented by the new Alliance serve more than half a million individuals every day in areas of mental health, substance use disorders, intellectual disabilities and child and family health and well-being.

“The Alliance is the voice of nonprofits in Connecticut. Our mission is to advocate excellence in community-based nonprofits through advocacy and capacity building,” said Josh Lipshitz, Director of Membership and Business Development at CT Community Nonprofit Alliance. “One example is our partnership with UST, which helped 38 of our member organizations to save over $957,000 in unemployment costs in 2016 alone.”

The Alliance currently offers the following programs and services:

  • The Nonprofit Center – Serves as home to 26 nonprofit organizations and more than 200 employees
  • Preferred Purchasing Program – Promotes employment opportunities for people with disabilities
  • Public Policy and Advocating – Champion nonprofit causes and represent their interests at the Legislature level
  • The Center for Professional Development – Workshops, conferences, resources and tools
  • Networking and Information – Cultivates communication and cooperation among its member nonprofits

Dedicated to representing nonprofit organizations for more than 35 years, The Alliance has successfully promoted the health and well-being of the 169 communities that compromise the State of Connecticut—focusing their energy on the people and communities they serve. With a plethora of programs and services to offer and a long history of involvement in the nonprofit communities of Connecticut, we’re proud of our long-time partnership with The Alliance.

CT Community Nonprofit Alliance is the collective voice of community providers and nonprofits in Connecticut that strengthen and sustain healthy communities by advocating for community-based, nonprofit organizations. For more information on The Alliance visit

June 22, 2017

Webinar Recording: How to Best Prepare for Your Fast-Approaching Audit

It’s June once again, and for many of you that means the year-end closing of the books on June 30th—which means the AUDITORS will soon be coming!

Presented by Jay Azar, Lindquist, LLP Director of Not-for-Profit Practice Services, this on-demand webinar reveals how your organization can better prepare for the year-end audit and make the process more beneficial for you.

Jay provides expert TIPS on:

  • Administrative planning for the audit
  • Internal control and systems documentation reviews
  • Preliminary trial balance and general ledger reviews
  • Drafting financial statements
  • Supporting schedules for accounts on the Statement of Financial Position
  • Communications before, during and after the audit
  • Handling audit findings during the process
  • Keeping the process moving after audit fieldwork
  • Audit reports and responses to findings

Watch the webinar recording today and learn how you can get the most out of your upcoming audit.

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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!

June 20, 2017

Avoid Losing New Hires to Counteroffers

It can take months to find the perfect candidate but even after the acceptance letter has been signed and a start date agreed upon, nothing is for certain, until they are through the doors on that first day. This is especially true of a candidate coming to you from another company – typically a company that is now unhappy over the loss of a good employee.

Often times, these other employers, already have a strategy for handling this very type of situation and are likely prepared to counteroffer in an effort to change their employee’s decision to leave.  And nowadays, employers are far more sophisticated about counteroffers than in days gone by. They used to be based mostly on compensation, but companies are now addressing these issues in a more global way, by looking at everything from different work assignments to title changes.

Understanding a candidate’s motivations for a career move is vital to fending off the threat of a potential counteroffer. If someone is leaving their current employer for money, they are likely to stay for it, too. If you want to avoid losing a new hire to a counteroffer, consider the following:

  • Discuss the possibility of a counteroffer with the candidate during the interview process
  • Find out more about any other opportunities a candidate is exploring
  • Maintain regular contact with the candidate through their notice time
  • Send links to articles or share a recently published annual report
  • Share company updates and department developments
  • Arrange a lunch with their new boss or colleagues
  • Schedule “meet-the-team” meetings immediately

For you it might just be another hire, but for the candidate it is a life-changing event – a new route to work, new coworkers, new places and new routines. With this comes some degree of uncertainty, fear, and apprehension. Conveying a genuine interest in the candidate and making them feel like they are already a part of the team, even before their start date, can reduce the temptation to follow up with other recruiters or go on any remaining interviews.

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.

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 02, 2017

[Webinar Recording] How the Trump Administration May Reshape Employment Laws

Is your business a franchise operation? Do you have employees who also work for another company where joint employer liability could be triggered? Are you concerned about the risks you may not even know you have with the employment rules as a joint employer, franchisee or franchisor? Or do you think you have it all figured out now and are concerned with how the Trump administration may change the employment law landscape relating to your business?

Presented by Gary Wheeler, Partner at Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete LLP, this on-demand webinar addresses the key topics and situations you will face in 2017, including:

  • Employment rules
  • Wage and hour issues
  • Employee leave and accommodation issues

This presentation will break down these challenging concepts into plain English and give you information you can use to minimize the risk of costly lawsuits. This is a must-attend event for franchisees and franchisors as well as joint employer groups.

Watch the webinar recording today!

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

May 31, 2017

Better Together: A Partner Spotlight on LeadingAge, Inc.

At the Unemployment Services Trust (UST), we’re immensely proud of and thankful for our 80+ Affinity Partners. Each association nurtures a mission that stems from the desire of wanting to make the world a better a place. And every year, we join forces to support our nonprofit communities across the nation.

Because we sincerely believe that we are better together, we’re excited to announce the start of our new Better Together monthly blog series—spotlighting our partners’ ongoing mission-driven achievements.

Endorsing the UST program since 2002, LeadingAge is the trusted voice for the aging in America. Founded in 1961, LeadingAge has a long, dedicated history in providing older adults with quality services.With 6,000 members and 38 state partners, as well as representing 43 states from Arizona to New York, LeadingAge has impacted the entire field of aging services across the globe.

An association of community-based nonprofit organizations, based in Washington, D.C., LeadingAge is dedicated to making America a better place to grow old through a wide variety of services which include assisted living, adult day services, home health, transportation, home-delivered meals, hospice and much more.

In the last 50 years, LeadingAge has:

  • Raised thousands of dollars for the aging community
  • Awarded countless innovation grants
  • Provided meeting space to community groups and nonprofits
  • Served on more than 20 boards for national and community-based organizations
  • Collected clothing, toys, and equipment for Martha’s Table
  • Provided employment opportunities
  • Performed hundreds of hours of community-based volunteer services

LeadingAge leads in innovative practices to transform how they serve the aging population while also providing the essential framework and resources needed to help people achieve a successful future. For more information on LeadingAge visit

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:

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 11, 2017

Employee Engagement Remains Abysmal

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 09, 2017

HR Question: Employee Handbook Guidelines on Salary Discussions

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

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

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

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

May 03, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nonprofits can get a free 30-day trial of the UST HR Workplace powered by ThinkHR by visiting

About UST 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