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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.

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 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 The presentation will address issues and questions about rescinded Executive Orders, regulatory enforcement agenda changes and legislative moves that could impact your nonprofit’s business operations.

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


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

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

Recruiting and Hiring: Get the Recipe for the Secret Sauce

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

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

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

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

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

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 communicate with co-workers/supervisors via smartphones during all hours. However, some of our employees are beginning to feel overwhelmed. Any suggestions?

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 not to send employees emails or message employees after standard working hours so as to put employees more at ease and not feel the pressure to 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? Sign your nonprofit up for a free 30-day trial here.
April 30, 2017

Webinar Recording: Build a Great Safety Program

Make your “___ Days Accident Free” sign happy.

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

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

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


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

This webinar offers 1 HRCI and 1 SHRM-approved credit. Want access to more HR-certified webinar opportunities and a live HR hotline? Visit www.chooseust.org/thinkhr/ to sign up for a FREE 30-day trial of the UST HR Workplace, powered by ThinkHR.
January 27, 2017

Tips for Training and Welcoming New Employees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 20, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 17, 2017

HR Question: Time Off for Religious Holidays

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

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

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

December 22, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Register Now

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

December 14, 2016

7 Simple Steps to a Well-Balanced Work Life

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

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

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


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

November 02, 2016

[On-Demand Webinar] Is Your Nonprofit Ready for the New Overtime Rule?

December 1. This is the date that employers must be in compliance with the higher Department of Labor salary threshold standard for overtime exemption. Are you ready?

Presented by ThinkHR, this 60-minute webinar recording provides additional insights into employer compliance with this rule as a follow-up to the webinar conducted back in May. Learn about the common concerns employers face as well as other employment issues that this rule may cause.

By watching this webinar recording, you will learn:

  • The impact these changes may have on employee benefits such as health, disability and life policies as well as 401(k) plans and paid time off programs
  • Employer work rules, including overtime, tracking time and attendance and telecommuting programs
  • The affect that changes in classification may have on travel pay,  meal and rest breaks, and training/development time
  • Employee communications tips and strategies

Throughout the presentation, ThinkHR’s compensation expert, Renee Farrell, will share examples of calculating the costs involved with the final rule, including cost of overtime versus increasing salaries, and share ideas for controlling overtime costs.

Watch the on-demand presentation here: http://bit.ly/overtime-rule-2016

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

October 25, 2016

How to Distinguish Independent Contractors vs. Employees

Performing small business payroll can be both difficult and critical to effectively avoiding the all-too-tricky claim type, “independent contractor vs employee.”

Nonprofit employers must take the time to learn the distinguishing characteristics of an employee of an organization and an independent contractor, who are self-employed individuals. If and when you make a mistake when classifying these two worker categories, not only will this mix-up lead to high penalties, but you may have to outsource for payroll assistance—costing your organization both valuable time and money.

In general, here’s how you differentiate the two workers:

  • Employee – anyone who performs services and the company can control what is done
  • Independent Contractor – anyone who performs services and the company only has the right to control the result of the work and not the means and methods of accomplishing the result

To avoid overpayments, rework for the employer and state, and potential investigations from the IRS, employers should use either the ABC Test or the Common Law Test to determine whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor.

Both tests are designed to readily identify the worker-employer relationship, focusing on how much control the organization has over a worker and the work accomplished. Check out both the ABC Test and Common Law Test here to ensure your nonprofit’s compliance.

This article was adapted from Equifax Workforce Solutions, UST’s dedicated unemployment claims administrator.

UST members receive exclusive access to an online claims dashboard, e-filing capabilities, a state-specific claims representative and 100% representation at unemployment claims hearings. To find out if your nonprofit qualifies for the UST program, fill out a free Savings Evaluation today or call us at 888-249-4788.

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.

October 13, 2016

Webinar: New Accounting Standards Nonprofits Need to Know

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has issued the Accounting Standards Update 2016-14, which contains significant changes to not-for-profit accounting standards, focusing on improving, enhancing and simplifying financial statement reporting requirements.

In this 60-minute webinar, Jay Azar, Director of Not-for-Profit Practice Services at Lindquist, LLP, talks about how your organization can begin to prepare your accounting and financial reporting systems for these important changes.

Some of the topics discussed include:

  • Displaying the current three fund categories of Unrestricted, Temporarily Restricted and Permanently Restricted funds has changed to two fund categories of “Funds Without Donor Restrictions” and “Funds With Donor Restrictions.”
  • Requiring the use of a classified balance sheet and allowing for display of assets with limited use.
  • Requiring that information provided about expenses for the period will be presented both by functional and natural classifications for all not-for-profits.

After watching the presentation, you'll feel more confident and prepared for handling the accounting and financial reporting processes at your nonprofit.

Watch the webinar on-demand now.

This webinar series is part of UST's efforts to educate the nonprofit sector. Sign up to receive UST's monthly eNews for more free learning opportunities just for nonprofits like you!

September 28, 2016

4 Ways to Keep Your New Hires from Quitting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 23, 2016

Recruiting Difficulty and Skills Shortages

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

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

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

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

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

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

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