Blogs

Entries with Blog Label HR Knowledge .

August 07, 2020

Nonprofit eBook Reveals Strategies to Secure Nonprofit Endurance

UST releases a new eBook, focused on positive brand perception in today’s increasingly competitive job market.

Founded by nonprofits, for nonprofits, UST publishes an eBook that discusses the importance of ensuring you have a solid brand reputation and why. This insightful eBook uncovers strategies that nonprofit employers can utilize to attract employees that fit their organization’s culture, mission, and values—and keep them.

Available now for download, UST’s eBook explores 5 key strategies that can help strengthen your organization's culture through inclusivity, innovation and trust.

You'll also discover:

  • Why it's important to evaluate your employer’s brand
  • How to increase productivity and improve bandwidth
  • Methods to create cultural diversity in the workplace

Don’t miss your opportunity to download your complimentary copy of “A Collective Strength: Strategies to Secure Nonprofit Endurance” to discover how to attract better talent and promote a diverse and inclusive workplace.

July 09, 2020

HR Question: Replacing Employees Not Ready to Return to Work

Question: Some of our employees have said they don't feel safe returning to work. Can we just permanently replace them?

Answer: We recommend extreme caution when deciding to replace an employee who refuses to work because of concerns about COVID-19. Generally, employees do not have a right to refuse to work based only on a generalized fear of becoming ill if their fear is not based on objective evidence of possible exposure. However, under the current circumstances, where COVID-19 continues to be a threat across the country, we think it would be difficult to show that employees have no reason to fear coming in to work, particularly but not exclusively in a location with a shelter-in-place rule. Returning employees may also have certain rights under state and federal law. Here are few things to keep in mind:

  • Recalled employees may have a right to job-protected leave under a city ordinance, state law, or the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). See our overview of the FFCRA.
  • Employees who are in a high-risk category — either because they are immunocompromised or have an underlying condition that makes them more susceptible to the disease — may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or state law if their situation doesn’t qualify them for leave under the FFCRA (or if they have run out of that leave). It would be a reasonable accommodation under the circumstances to allow the employee to work from home or take an unpaid leave, if working from home is not possible.
  • Employees who live with someone who is high risk are not entitled to a reasonable accommodation under federal law, but we strongly recommend allowing them to work from home if possible or take an unpaid leave. Otherwise, they may decide to quit and collect unemployment insurance. If you want to keep them as an employee, being compassionate and flexible is your best bet.
  • Under Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules, an employee’s refusal to perform a task will be protected if all of the following conditions are met:
    • Where possible, the employee asked the employer to eliminate the danger, and the employer failed to do so;
    • The employee refused to work in “good faith,” which means that the employee must genuinely believe that an imminent danger exists;
    • A reasonable person would agree that there is a real danger of death or serious injury; and
    • There isn’t enough time, because of the urgency of the hazard, to get it corrected through regular enforcement channels, such as requesting an OSHA inspection.

Check state and local law to see if additional protections may apply.

Instead of replacing employees who express fear at this time, we recommend that you consider methods to encourage employees to come to work and to help put their minds at ease. Consider emphasizing all of the safety methods you have put in place (such as scheduled handwashing, frequent disinfection of surfaces, social distancing rules, reduced customer capacity, staggered shifts, or more extreme measures if warranted by your industry). We recommend relying on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local health department guidance for establishing safe working conditions at this time. You might also consider offering premium pay (a.k.a. hazard pay) or additional paid time off for use in the future to employees who must come to work.

Q&A provided by ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace for nonprofit HR teams. Have HR questions? Sign your nonprofit up for a free 60-day trial today.

 

July 01, 2020

Guidance for Nonprofits When Returning to Work

As nonprofit organizations prepare to return to business as usual, there are quite a few new safety protocols being put in place to ensure that employees return to a safe work environment. The Center for Disease Control – CDC continues to release updated guidelines for employers to help prevent and slow the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. When making decisions around business operations, two main components should be factored in: (1) the level of disease transmission in your community and (2) how prepared your business is to protect both your employees and customers.

Employers are encouraged to coordinate with their state and local health officials to acquire timely and accurate information to provide updates to employees as needed. If your nonprofit’s business operations were put on hold, or are gearing up for workforce re-entry, this is an opportunity to update your COVID-19 preparedness, response and control plans.

When making the appropriate updates to your organization’s COVID-19 plans, the following items should be included:

  • It must speak specifically to your workplace environment
  • It must mention all possible job tasks and areas in the workplace that could lead to possible exposure to COVID-19
  • It must include the appropriate measures that will be taken to eliminate or reduce these exposures

Be sure to take the time to communicate with your employees of any changes and ask for their input—their questions and concerns can ensure all your bases are covered when creating the COVID-19 plan for your organization. Educating our employees on the severity of taking the necessary precautions to keep themselves and others safe is vital. To protect themselves while at work and at home, new policies and procedures related to illness, cleaning and disinfecting should be followed.

To ensure a safe workplace environment, employers should advise their employees of the following:

  • If an employee is sick, they should stay home except if they are going to a doctor’s appointment to receive medical care
  • If an employee’s family member is sick at home, they must alert their supervisor
  • Avoid working in other employees’ work spaces and avoid using their office equipment
  • Practice social distancing and avoid large gatherings while maintaining a distance of 6 feet
  • Wash their hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching their face with unwashed hands
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces or objects

While there is much more to learn about the severity and characteristics of this virus, as a nonprofit employer, you can do your part to follow important guidelines to create a safe and healthy working environment for your dedicated employees.

June 26, 2020

The UST COVID-19 Nonprofit Employer Guide

Are you still trying to figure out how to navigate the uncertainty of COVID-19 and its impact on your nonprofit and its employees? When you download UST’s new employer guide, 3 Critical Steps to Maintain a Resilient Nonprofit During COVID-19, you'll discover helpful tips on maintaining your nonprofits operations during the current pandemic and beyond.

This short employer guide shares valuable insights and key strategies for securing your brand during times of crisis, including: 

  • Equipping your staff with the tools they need to stay productive at home
  • Supporting employee mental health and well-being during a time of uncertainty
  • Preparing to re-enter the workplace

This guide will not only enable you to stay on top of strategy development, but also equip you with the tools you need to help your employees feel safe. Download your FREE copy today!

June 16, 2020

[Webinar Recording] Preparing for Re-Entry to the Workplace

Nonprofit employers have faced unimaginable challenges in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, as states start permitting businesses to reopen, nonprofits across the country are trying to figure out what that looks like for them, their employees and the communities they serve.

This informative webinar recording provides helpful tips for preparing to welcome employees back to the office while maintaining compliance with state and federal regulations related to the Coronavirus. Watch now to discover:

  • Important workplace health and safety measures
  • Ways to return employees to the office in phases
  • How to handle common areas in the office
  • And more general best practices

For additional COVID-19 employer resources and FAQs, please visit our COVID-19 Resource Center today!

June 04, 2020

HR Question: Screening Employees Returning to Work

 

Question: Can we screen employees returning to work for COVID-19?

Answer: Yes. Generally, inquiries about an employee’s health or a medical exam (like a temperature check) would not be allowed, but the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has stated that screening employees for symptoms of COVID-19 is allowed since it is a direct threat to others in the workplace. Because of that, you may inquire about symptoms related to the virus, require self-reporting by employees, and take employees’ temperatures.

Known symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, chills, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and sudden loss of taste or smell. As the medical community learns more about COVID-19, additional symptoms could be added to this list. Employers can check this page for currently recognized symptoms.

If you decide to do screenings, make sure you screen all employees; otherwise you may find yourself in the middle of a discrimination claim. And remember that all information about employees’ health — including a lack of symptoms or temperature — must be kept confidential.

Q&A provided by ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace for nonprofit HR teams. Have HR questions? Sign your nonprofit up for a free 60-day trial today.

May 21, 2020

Five Ways to Offer Your Coworker Support During a Time of Crisis

Our country has been forced to adjust to a new way of life due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With that, a large percentage of our workforce is now working from home and in an effort to help employees adjust to this new normal, nonprofit employers have created a variety of techniques to better support their employees. From increasing mental health benefits, offering flexible work hours and ensuring employees have what they need to be productive at home—nonprofit employers are doing their best to navigate these changes while keeping their employees well-being a top priority.

Even with all these steps being taken to ensure a smooth transition for employees to work from home, social distancing has certainly altered our in-person interactions, such as coffee breaks, breakroom chats and late afternoon strolls with a colleague. Human connection has the ability to boost our spirits—our mental and physical health need it now more than ever so finding alternate ways to connect is important during this uncertain and strange time.

Some coworkers are taking this opportunity to further engage with those who are struggling or that have been impacted in more ways than one during this pandemic—a spouse losing their job, feelings of isolation, increased emotional stress, juggling home-schooling their kids while meeting work deadlines. Times are tough right now and our coworkers are in need of support.

Here’s some ways you can help support a coworker during this pandemic:

1)  Scheduling virtual meet-ups: Coworkers can check in on each other by hosting virtual coffee dates, lunches, happy hours and even mentoring sessions on video-sharing platforms, which their employer may already offer. A virtual happy hour can offer a relaxing environment for you and your fellow coworkers to escape life for a bit, swap stories and share the latest DIY project that you’ve taken on.

2) Encourage healthy activities: Coworkers can offer support for a variety of activities people are embracing these days to improve their health and well-being, including new exercise routines and nutritious recipes. A healthy lifestyle that includes workouts and heart-healthy meals can help us remain focused, increase energy levels and be more mindful.

3) Offer cross-training opportunities: Cross-training can provide an opportunity to offer relief to workers who may have health, childcare and/or family concerns. Also, cross-training allows for employees to carry out essential functions to keep the company moving forward while employees are out on leave.

4) Connect through social media: Creating a private Facebook group for your employees to share wellness and well-being information with fellow coworkers can be great way to stay connected. From sharing tips on fitness and self-care to a new recipe or a cute pet photo—personal connections can improve the mood of employees, making them subsequently happier and less stressed.

5) Send a care package or make a special doorstep delivery: Small tokens of appreciation go a long way toward forging a connection with your coworker. Baking some homemade cookies, or putting together a simple flower arrangement can brighten anyone’s day. A gift can also come in the form of offering your time or help, such as picking up groceries. 

The support of a coworker, while important during normal circumstances, has become even more essential to help keep our coworkers spirits up and overall well-being high during this pandemic.

May 14, 2020

[Webinar Recording] Employee Engagement & Mental Wellness During COVID-19

While we continue to adjust to this new “normal” of working remotely—with little to no face-to-face interaction—the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a major toll on nonprofit employees and their mental health.

This informative webinar provides helpful tips on how nonprofit leaders can help keep employees productive and engaged in day-to-day work activities. Watch now to learn key strategies that include:

  • Ideas for which company policies to update during unexpected workforce changes
  • Methods for communicating with a remote staff to keep them engaged
  • Tips for recognizing the impact of isolation and loneliness and what to do           

For more access to nonprofit specific how-to guides, checklists and resources? Sign up for UST's monthly eNews today!

April 29, 2020

HR Question: Furlough vs. Layoff

Question: What's the difference between a furlough and a layoff?

Answer: First, you should note that the language used when sending employees home for a period of time is less important than communicating your actual intent. Since temporary layoffs and furloughs are only used regularly in certain industries (usually seasonal), you should not assume that employees will know what they mean. Be sure to communicate your plans for the future, even if they feel quite uncertain or are only short-term.

Furlough

A furlough continues employment but reduces scheduled hours or requires a period of unpaid leave. The thought process is that having all employees incur a bit of hardship is better than some losing their jobs completely. For example, a company may reduce hours to 20 per week for a period of time as a cost-saving measure, or they may place everyone on a two-week unpaid leave. This is typically not considered termination; however, you may still need to provide certain notices to employees about the change in the relationship, and they would likely still be eligible for unemployment.

If the entire company won’t be furloughed, but only certain employees, it is important to be able to show that staff selection is not being done for a discriminatory reason. You’ll want to document the nondiscriminatory business reasons that support the decision to furlough certain employees and not others, such as those that perform essential services.

Layoff

A layoff involves terminating employment during a period when no work is available. This may be temporary or permanent. If you close down completely, but you intend to reopen in the relatively near future or have an expected reopening date — at which time you will rehire an employee, or all employees — this would be considered a temporary layoff. Temporary layoffs are appropriate for relatively short-term slowdowns or closures. A layoff is generally considered permanent if there are no plans to rehire the employee or employees because the slowdown or closure is expected to be lengthy or permanent.

Pay for exempt employees (those not entitled to overtime)

Exempt employees do not have to be paid if they do no work at all for an entire workweek. However, if work is not available for a partial week for an exempt employee, they must be paid their full salary for that week, regardless of the fact that they have done less work. If the point is to save money (and it usually is), it’s best to ensure that the layoff covers the company’s established seven-day workweek for exempt employees. Make it very clear to exempt employees that they should do absolutely no work during any week you’re shut down. If exempt employees do any work during that time, they will need to be paid their normal weekly salary.

Pay for nonexempt employees (those entitled to overtime)

Nonexempt employees only need to be paid for actual hours worked, so single day or partial-week furloughs can be applied to them without worrying about pay implications. We recommend that you engage in open communication with the affected employees before and during the furlough or temporary layoff period.

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 today.

April 24, 2020

[Webinar Recording] COVID-19 Unemployment Insights for Nonprofit Employers

Nonprofits are facing unprecedented challenges navigating COVID-19 and its impact on day-to-day operations. Our recent webinar was designed to provide some valuable insight into the latest unemployment legislation and its impact on your organization and its employees.

This informative webinar recording discusses how COVID-19 is impacting nonprofits nationwide, what alternatives there are to layoffs and/or workforce reductions and more. Watch now to discover:

  • How unemployment for nonprofits and nonprofit employees normally works
  • How the COVID-19 response is expected to impact unemployment for Employees
  • How the COVID-19 response is expected to impact unemployment for nonprofit Employers, both tax rated and reimbursing
  • Other COVID-19 response related resources you may consider as alternatives to layoffs and/or reductions in workforce

For additional COVID-19 employer resources and FAQs, please visit our COVID-19 Resource Center today!

April 10, 2020

Managing Stress and Personal Well Being During a Crisis

It’s natural to feel stressed or anxious when presented with unprecedented circumstances. The coronavirus or COVID-19 continues to present new and unique challenges that evolve every day. Nonprofit employers are navigating unchartered waters and their employees are along for the ride. Many are working from home for the first time, isolated from co-workers, friends and family while also home-schooling their children and or taking care of elderly family members. This disruption in our daily routines has caused added anxiety, stress and strain—physically, mentally and financially. All of this combined makes it more important than ever to find new ways to interact and communicate with others while also taking care of our mental health and physical well-being.

You can’t avoid stress completely but too much stress over long periods of time can be harmful to your health—ranging from headaches, decreased energy, irritability, body aches and pains, irregular sleep or insomnia, difficulty concentrating or worse, can contribute to serious health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease and mental health disorders. The good news is you can get ahead of stress by recognizing how you feel and practicing ways to find calmness.

Below are some ways to manage stress and anxiety through positive self-care and healthy social connections:

Be selective about how you consume COVID-19 information – while it’s good to be informed and aware of what’s going on around the world and in your community while we combat this virus, ensure you follow credible sources such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) and limit how much time you spend absorbing that information.

Set boundaries on your work schedule – it’s easy to keep working when you have no reason to get up and leave the office but it’s important that you set a schedule with healthy boundaries and stick to it.

Maintain a routine – having some semblance of structure and consistency from your pre-Coronavirus life will help to keep a sense of control and normalcy while also making it a little easier to readjust to the outside world when it’s time to go back to work.

Limit your time online – set a timer, focus on positive things while you are online and divide your time between the different sites you like to browse. You can even install a website blocker to help temporarily force you off certain websites.

Stay connected – our greatest resource for alleviating stress is still connecting with our loved ones. Don’t just pick up the phone, use Skype, FaceTime or Google Hangouts to get some face to face time.

Leverage Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction – the practice of meditation can help relieve anxiety, boost your mood, improve sleep and promote mental and emotional health—the benefits are endless and you can do it anytime, anywhere.

Stay active – this isn’t just good for your physical health but also for your mental health so don’t let this time at home go to waste. It’s important to keep moving, whether it’s strenuous exercise, Yoga or even just light stretching. You can find an entire universe of free classes online right now with many instructors live-streaming classes from home.

Get outdoors – fresh air goes a long way in easing the feelings brought on by stress and anxiety. Take a long walk around your neighborhood or go for a bike ride and enjoy some new scenery—all while maintaining physical distance from others of course.

Embrace a hobby – partake in something you really enjoy doing just for the fun of doing it. Something that requires attention and physical movement like embroidery, scrap-booking, painting or sewing to name a few.

Learn a new skill – knowledge is power as the saying goes. There are an unlimited number of online classes you can partake at no or minimal cost that range from bread making and drawing to crochet and learning a new language. Skillshare and Udemy are great resources.

Take an adventure through a book – start a mini book club and invite your friends to participate via video so everyone can share their thoughts and interact as a group.

Get in the kitchen – if you enjoy cooking or baking, there’s no better time than now to try out some of those recipes you’ve been waiting to experiment with.

Do some Spring cleaning – it is Spring after all. Organize those drawers that have been begging for order, clean out your closets, and donate what you no longer need or use, or work on getting your filing cabinet in order.

Watch feel-good movies – musicals are a great way to lift your spirits if you’re into that or distract your mind with an old black and white classic.

Count your blessings – take a few moments to focus on all that you have. Be thoughtful and sincere about who and what you appreciate in your life and let them know.

Find an online support group – there are a plethora of websites out there that offer virtual or phone options for group or individual support as well as live chat rooms. Having others to talk to that share your same concerns can help alleviate the anxiety brought on by COVID-19.

As we protect ourselves against potential exposure to the coronavirus, keep in mind that social distancing does not mean social isolation and remember that you’re not alone. Look after yourself, get enough sleep, eat well, and reach out to your support network. Engage in activities that benefit your well-being, bring you happiness, and distract you from existing challenges. Set your sights on long-avoided tasks or projects and try something new. The above mentioned tips about self-care are meant to help you thrive in mind, body, and spirit. Coping with stress in positive ways will make you happier, healthier, and stronger.

March 19, 2020

Q&A with ThinkHR: Navigating the Coronavirus

With the rapid spread of the Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, we have taken appropriate precautions here at UST to do our part of social distancing by working remotely as we know many of you have as well. Here in our local communities we see fear and panic everywhere—empty shelves at the grocery store, people standing in line for hours to get paper products, schools scrambling to move to a virtual method of teaching, large department stores closing their doors and citizens pushing for cities to lockdown.

New details pour in every day and our inboxes are flooded with shared information from our partners and members across the states. Yesterday, there was an article shared by our partner, ThinkHR, “When Business Threats are Contagious: 10 Answers for Employers Navigating the Coronavirus” that shares questions they have been receiving from HR professionals across the country. They range from how to handle employees refusing to come to work, creating a telecommuting policy and the appropriateness of asking about symptoms. The answers come from their certified HR advisors and is a benefit of our UST HR Workplace product. If you are an HR professional in a business still considering how to navigate these challenging times, you may find some answers here.

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 today.

February 27, 2020

HR Question: An Increase in Employee Complaints

Question: We’ve seen an uptick in complaints from employees. Is this cause for concern?

Answer: The mere fact that you’re getting more complaints than normal isn’t necessarily something to worry about. The increase in complaints could be a sign that there are now more issues that require your attention, or it could be a sign that your employees are—for some reason—feeling safer speaking to you about their concerns.

In and of themselves, complaints can be a good thing because they inform you about matters that may have escaped your notice and they indicate that your employees trust you to resolve those matters. The last thing you want is for employees to keep their concerns to themselves or vent about them to their colleagues (or the entire internet). You can’t solve problems you don’t know about, and unaddressed problems can quickly turn into bigger issues. Knowing what’s troubling your employees is essential for effective risk management.

Listen to what your employees have to say, thank them for bringing the matters to your attention, keep the lines of communication open, and do what you can to resolve the issues. If several complaints relate to a single issue (or person), you may want to give that issue more attention or urgency. And, of course, any complaint that suggests there may be harassment or discrimination should be dealt with promptly and thoroughly.

While dealing with the additional complaints, keep in mind that if you can solve or improve the problems that are being brought to your attention, you’ll have happier—and likely more productive—employees.

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.

February 13, 2020

The Do's and Don'ts of Terminating Employees

Terminating an employee is stressful for everyone involved and many managers and human resource professionals consider this responsibility the worst part of their job—whether as a layoff, a bad hire or for cause. With a little planning and preparation, you can make the experience less traumatic for everyone, maintain compliance with state and federal law, ensure your employee feels respected and avoid any bad publicity.

Organizations are under strict protocol when it comes to terminating employees and should therefore have written procedures in place to avoid negative repercussions such as fines and or lawsuits. Get ahead of issues as soon as possible by having open conversations on how to improve performance, attitude, or other matters so as not to blindside employees when the decision is made to let them go. Never take allegations as fact—conduct thorough investigations, secure findings and always document performance and behavioral issues as well as any disciplinary actions taken.

Following are some do’s and don’ts to consider when preparing to terminate an employee.

Tips on how to approach, conduct and communicate a termination:

  • Make sure the termination decision is consistent with the company’s practices and policies
  • Consider protected classes to ensure you have proper documentation before proceeding—these include race, age, gender, religion, physical or mental disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, pregnancy and citizenship
  • Schedule the meeting at an appropriate time for the employee —avoiding birthdays, holidays or the anniversary of their hire date
  • Hold the meeting in a private location where you won’t be interrupted and others can’t observe
  • Plan an early morning meeting on any day other than a Friday to provide the employee the opportunity to move forward rather than facing an entire weekend at a stand still
  • Have a witness present to take notes
  • Start off by telling the employee the purpose of the meeting so they know the decision is final
  • Provide appropriate and detailed information about the termination—even in states that allow “at will” employment, companies should still articulate a reason for termination
  • Have specifics ready on the employee’s final pay and benefit information
  • Treat your employee with dignity and respect by being honest but also sensitive
  • Create a “Separation Package” with relevant materials to be taken home, as often times the stress and emotion involved in being let go interferes with the ability to process all the information provided
  • End on a positive note by offering words of encouragement

Mistakes to avoid when terminating an employee:

  • Making excuses, apologizing for the situation or changing your story
  • Avoiding the issues causing the termination
  • Classifying a disciplinary termination as a layoff
  • Communicating the decision inaccurately
  • Not retrieving company property such as door keys, badges, phones, or laptops
  • Allowing disgruntled employees access to their work area or information systems
  • Assuming the dismissal will remain private and not notifying other employees
  • Dragging out the conversation longer than necessary
  • Arguing with an employee to justify the termination decision
  • Allowing the employee to think that there is an opportunity to change your decision

Termination meetings are uncomfortable and come with risks but you can make the experience more palatable by preparing an effective and supportive approach to a hard conversation. The last 15 minutes you spend terminating an employee will likely be the most important of the employment relationship, so ensure you’ve covered your bases to avoid negative outcomes that could harm your organizations reputation.

January 16, 2020

HR Question: Employee Engagement Surveys

Question: Can you provide some tips for developing and conducting an employee engagement survey?

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 23, 2019

HR Question: Requiring Vacation Usage on Furlough Days

Question: Can an employer require its employees to use their accrued paid time off during an employer-required furlough? And, if salaried exempt employees work during the furlough, how is pay calculated for these employees?

Answer: Yes, an employer can require employees to use their accrued paid time off, for example vacation, for time not worked during a furlough. If an employee has no accrued time off, the employer can even put the employee into a negative paid leave balance.

Even while furloughed, however, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) applies to employees. The FLSA mandates compliance with the salary basis requirements for salaried exempt personnel. Accordingly, if such an employee performs any work during that week, the employer may not dock the employee’s pay for the absence. When a furlough is for one or more full weeks, federal law generally does not require payment to an employee.

Employers must be mindful that employees on furlough continue to accrue vacation days, sick days, and personal days, and continue to receive other benefits such as health insurance.

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 16, 2019

How to Reduce the Risk of Workplace Violence

Violence in the workplace was virtually unheard of until the 1970s but today, it is a national epidemic that affects everyone involved both physically and psychologically, and often, long term. Workplace violence as defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs in the workplace. OSHA estimates that nearly two million U.S. workers report being victims to workplace violence every year. Workplace Violence takes many forms, including homicide, assault, stalking and bullying. Because this growing issue not only has a profound effect on employee morale, company reputation and overall productivity but also leaves employers to bear the burden of lost wages due to employee absences and increased benefit payments, damage repairs, liability lawsuits and higher insurance rates, employers need to be as prepared as possible.

Taking a proactive approach in implementing procedures that address potential incidents allows employees a work environment that provides protection from harassment, threats and violence. There are many ways to implement safety measures in the workplace that can help to eliminate the risk of workplace violence—ranging from criminal record checks, substance abuse testing, reference checks, secure entrances, security assessments and employee training. The most important, however, is having an Emergency Preparedness Plan. Since these incidents are nearly impossible to predict, the primary components should educate your staff on the early warning signs of potential violence as well as how to respond when a situation does arise. Your plan might also include internal and external communication procedures, exit routes, evacuation plans, training drill procedures and a media relations plan.

Some additional protections that align with an Emergency Preparedness Plan:

  • Identifying your organizations strengths and weaknesses and areas for improvement
  • Assigning key personnel to act as emergency coordinators
  • Creating Emergency Safety Kits
  • Conducting drills on a regular basis

As a nonprofit leader, it’s your responsibility to provide a workplace free from harassment and bullying. Providing open and safe communication channels for discussing suspicious behavior, concerns and problems will go a long way in helping to prevent the unthinkable. Your main goal should be to reduce the probability of risk and ensure that any complaints that fall under the OSHA definition of workplace violence are handled promptly

For more information how to handle this growing epidemic, sign your nonprofit up for a free 30-day trial to ThinkHR, powered by UST HR Workplace.

September 17, 2019

BackHR Question: Preparing for New Overtime Thresholds

Question: What should employers do to prepare for the anticipated January 1, 2020, effective date of new DOL white-collar exemptions?

Answer: On March 7, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced a proposed rule to update and revise Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) white collar exemptions by raising the salary level for an exemption from $455 per week ($23,660 annually) to $679 per week ($35,308 annually, among other changes.

The rule is expected to be adopted and become effective January 1, 2020. While it's too early to make any actual changes in response to the proposal, it's a good idea to start preparing now so you'll be ready if it becomes law, as experts anticipate it will.

  • Analyze cost impacts. You can begin to determing which employees are classified as exempt and ear $35,308 per year or less. Estimate the increased costs of either increasing their salaries to $35,308 per year or reclassifying the employees as nonexempt and paying overtime when they work more than 40 hours per week (or overtime hours worked based on your state's overtime laws.) Again, hold off on any actual changes until the proposal becomes effective.
  • Review job descriptions. Take a look at your organization's job descriptions to ensure that they are accurate for the work that the employees actually perform. Update as needed. Review the classifications as exempt or nonexempt based on the "job duties test" as defined by the DOL.
  • Forecast overtime. Talk with the impacted employees and their managers to get an estimate of how much overtime per week they actually work.
  • Review your overtime policies. While employers must pay overtime per federal and state laws even if the overtime is not authorized, employers can limit the amount of overtime allowed and provide disciplinary action to employees who fail to follow policy.
  • Measure productivity. Now that some exempt employees may be reclassified as nonexempt, ensure that the extra hours worked result in measurable productivity. Many exempt employees did not track hours worked previously and may have worked longer hours when not absolutely necessary. Since that time will now be compensable time, employers should ensure that the overtime is warratned based on business demand.
  • Review meal and rest break rules. Those employees who will be reclassified as nonexempt will be required to comply with state or company mandated meal and rest break requirements.
  • Review employee communications regarding plocies, the enforcement of such policies, and how you will communicate these changes to those employees who will be affected by the change in status.

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 29, 2019

Getting Ahead of Employee Burnout

Nonprofit employers have been dealing with employee burnout for some time now but knowing what factors to focus on can go a long way in prevention. It’s a crisis that can trigger a downward spiral in both the individual’s performance as well as the organizations’ and can end up costing thousands of wasted dollars.  

Job burnout is a special type of work-related stress and one that has long been lacking official recognition even though it has nearly become an epidemic—until now. The World Health Organization (WHO), recently identified workplace burnout as an “occupational phenomenon” that may require medical attention. They state, that burnout is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed and characterize by three dimensions: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job, and reduced professional efficacy.  

Employees experiencing burnout at work are often physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted from the job. They are more likely to take frequent sick days, exude more negativity, reduce team moral and worse, start looking elsewhere for employment opportunities. They become fixated on problems rather than growth opportunities or development. Now, more than ever before, we’re doing more with less, working longer hours, taking fewer breaks and less vacation days. Burnout is a serious workplace concern and is detrimental to the health of everyone involved—managers, co-workers, loved ones and friends.

There are often many factors that cause job fatigue but managers play an important role in helping to avoid this occupational phenomenon. Employees who trust their managers are more likely to experience meaningful work. Below are some key strategies for building that relationship and reducing employee burnout:

1. Check-in daily – we’re not talking about a daily 30-minute meeting but a simple “Good Morning”, “How was the school play last night” or “Any plans for the weekend”. These brief interactions can make a huge impact on someone who may be struggling.

2. Listen actively – being a good listener when an employee comes to you with an issue is a critical step in earning their trust and developing a solid bond.

3. Make time for team-building – creating a team that is unified provides another line of emotional support for an employee who is struggling. Co-workers often understand better than anyone else the struggle of being burnt out.

4. Encourage break time – everyone needs to take a break to stay connected and focused so ensure your employees are taking the time to recharge.

5. Make work purposeful – being connected to your mission isn’t enough so give your employees more reasons for making their job feel important.

6. Always say please and thank you – two very simple terms that are extremely underused in the workplace. Showing appreciation and respect can go a long way.

7. Put the right people in the right place – make sure your employees have the opportunity to do what they do best so you get the best of what they have to offer and they feel fulfilled.

If you don’t address the causes of employee burnout in your nonprofit, you’re missing the opportunity to create a workplace environment that empowers employees to feel and perform their best. Employee burnout is no longer just an HR issue, it’s a public health issue and one that can be managed before it even hits. Develop healthy workplace habits that begin with managers who foster positive experiences and ensure you have policies in place that help recognize the triggers before they get out of control.

July 31, 2019

​​​​​​​2019 Nonprofit UI Toolkit

Here at UST, we've compiled some of our top unemployment guides for managing nonprofit unemployment risk and created the 2019 Nonprofit UI Toolkit. These tools provide valuable information that can help nonprofit organizations like yours better understand the ins and outs of unemployment from the employer's perspective.

These tools offer exclusive access to unemployment claims management tips, how-to-guides and an informative webinar recording. Plus, you can learn about best practices for unemployment compensation and the ideal approach to take when dealing with unemployment hearings.

  1. Best Practice Tips - Keys to Unemployment Compensation
  2. Webinar Recording: Unemployment & HR Risk Management with UST
  3. Unsatisfactory Job Performance vs. Willful Misconduct
  4. Unemployment Hearings - Just the Facts
  5. Understanding Unemployment Insurance
  6. Controlling Unemployment Costs
  7. Employee Considerations
  8. Unemployment Cost Analysis Form

Want access to more nonprofit how-to guides, checklists and resources? Sign up for UST's monthly eNews!

July 18, 2019

HR Question: Interns and Overtime

Question: We hire interns (generally students in their junior and senior years) to do professional work for clients alongside, and under the supervision of, our professionals. They earn at least twice the salary test wage of $455 per week and are paid on a salary basis. Are they eligible for overtime pay?

Answer: Maybe. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and state wage and hour laws exempt certain categories of employees from overtime. These interns may qualify as exempt employees under the "learned professional” employee exemption.

To meet for the learned professional employee exemption and be exempt from both minimum wage and overtime pay, all of the following criteria must be met:

  1. The employee must be compensated on a salary or fee basis (as defined in the regulations) at a rate not less than $455 per week.
  2. The employee’s primary duty must be the performance of work requiring advanced knowledge.
  3. The advanced knowledge must be in a field of science or learning.
  4. The advanced knowledge must be customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction.

See WHD Fact Sheet #17D: Exemption for Professional Employees Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA) for additional information explaining the learned professional exemption.

If the employees meet the exemption requirements, they would not be entitled to overtime. If the employees do not meet the requirements, it still may be possible that they qualify under one of the other white collar exemptions.

Q&A provided by ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace for nonprofit HR teams. Get your free 30-day trial here.

June 25, 2019

​​​​​​​HR Question: Inclement Weather

Question: Last week our offices were closed because of inclement weather. Do we need to pay our employees for the week? If not, would they be eligible for unemployment compensation?

Answer: When your business closes early, opens late, or closes for the week due to inclement weather, how you pay employees will depend on whether you have an inclement weather policy or an established practice for office closures. If you do not have a policy or practice, whether your employees are eligible for unemployment compensation depends on whether they are nonexempt or exempt. Further, whether employees would be eligible for unemployment insurance depends upon the circumstances and the particular state; employees may be able to qualify for some assistance through the state’s unemployment department.

Nonexempt employees need to be paid only for the time they have actually worked. If they have paid time off (PTO) accrued (whether vacation time or a PTO plan), then the company could deduct hours from the accrued bank to continue their pay, if the employee so desires.

If nonexempt employees come to work but are not allowed to work their full scheduled shift, a number of states impose a reporting time obligation requiring employees to be paid a minimum number of hours if they have reported for work.

However, exempt employees are paid on a salary basis and must be paid the same amount each week, regardless of the amount of work that they do. If you have a PTO plan, you can deduct from the exempt employee’s vacation or accrued time off bank to make the salary whole.

For example, management decides to send everybody home four hours into the day due to a blizzard and the offices remain closed the next day. Joe is an hourly employee in the warehouse with no accrued PTO and Mary is an exempt-level office manager with five days (40 hours) in her PTO bank. Joe would receive the four hours of pay for the day he worked and no pay for the remainder of that day or the following full day. If the company does not wish to pay Mary her entire pay for the time the office was closed, it may elect for her to receive four hours of regular pay for the time worked, and deduct from her PTO bank for 12 hours (the four hours remaining on the first day and eight hours for the next day). Mary will receive her full pay for the week.

Q&A provided by ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace for nonprofit HR teams. Get your free 30-day trial here.

May 30, 2019

​​​​​​​2019 Nonprofit HR Toolkit

Here at UST we’ve put together our Top 10 Guides for 2019 Nonprofit Human Resource management. And for a limited time, we’re giving them away for FREE.

Since 1983, UST has provided nonprofits with the latest HR resources in an effort to help organizations stay compliant, maximize employee bandwidth and reduce overhead costs. This toolkit includes updated 2019 state and federal minimum wage data and recordkeeping requirements, as well as checklists to ensure compliance. Plus, you can learn the top six strategies to develop and maintain a thriving workplace.

 

  • State and Federal Minimum Wages
  • Federal Recordkeeping Requirements
  • ACA Checklist
  • HR Audit Checklist
  • HR Compliance Chart
  • An Introduction to Employee Benefits
  • Emergency Preparedness Plan
  • UST Competitive Hiring Practices eBook
  • Webinar Recording: Nonprofit Recruitment and Retention Best Practices
  • Unemployment Cost Analysis Form

 

Still have questions? You can get a free 30-day trial of UST HR Workplace powered by ThinkHR, a cloud-based service that aims to reduce HR liability through a live expert hotline, 250+ online compliance courses, compensation tools, employee handbook builders, and employee classification step-by-step guides. Set up your ThinkHR trial today!

May 15, 2019

​​​​​​​HR Question: Independent Contractor vs. Employee

Question: How can you determine whether a worker is an independent contractor or employee?

Answer: Generally, independent contractors are self-employed individuals who work on special projects that require no training, may work from either the employer site or another location, and do not need direction or the company’s materials to do the job. Additionally, these individuals are typically paid based on contract milestones.

Under federal “common law” rules, anyone who performs services for you is your employee if you can control what, when, and how the work will be done. This is true even if the person in question has the freedom to determine when certain work actions are taken. According to the IRS, “What matters is that you have the right to control the details of how the services are performed.”

Some states look to the federal common law rules, while others, such as Oregon, New York, and California, have their own additional tests of whether an individual is an independent contractor or employee. Many states publish fact sheets or handbooks with these guidelines to aid employers in making the appropriate classification.

The key in making this determination is to look at the entire relationship, consider the degree or extent of the right to direct and control, and finally, document each of the factors used in coming up with the determination.

In determining whether the person providing service is an employee or an independent contractor, all information that provides evidence of the degree of control and independence must be considered. In short, you will want to examine this decision carefully, so as to avoid tax consequences by misclassifying someone as an independent contractor.

Source: www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Employee-(Common-Law-Employee)

Q&A provided by ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace for nonprofit HR teams. Get your free 30-day trial here.

April 24, 2019

​​​​​​​HR Question: Allowing Minors to Volunteer

Question:One of our employees has asked to bring her 16-year-old daughter to work so she can volunteer for school credits. Can we allow this?

Answer: It depends. Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employees may not volunteer services to for-profit private sector employers. However, private employers may have trainees or students in the workplace under the School-to-Work program (STW) or an internship program.

If you want to allow your employee’s daughter to do work for you as an intern, you will need to classify her as such. Keep in mind internships can be either paid or unpaid. The United States Department of Labor (DOL) uses six criteria to determine whether an internship is exempt from the minimum wage and overtime requirements of the FLSA (meaning the internship may be unpaid). Under the DOL test, for an intern to be exempt from the minimum wage and overtime requirements, all of the following must be true:

  1. 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;
  2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
  3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
  4. 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;
  5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
  6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

For more information on the DOL six-factor test, see Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Note that the 2nd Circuit (Connecticut, New York, and Vermont) and the 11th Circuit (Alabama, Georgia, and Florida) do not use the DOL six-factor test but instead use the “primary beneficiary test.” Under the primary beneficiary test, a court determines whether the employer or worker benefits more from the internship. If the employer benefits more, the worker is properly classified as an “employee” and is entitled to minimum wage and overtime. If the individual benefits more, he or she is properly classified as an unpaid intern or trainee and exempted from the minimum wage and overtime requirements (nonemployees).  As unpaid internships have proven to be a litigious area of employment law, seek legal guidance before electing to not pay an intern.

Finally, beyond these exceptions to the FLSA, if your employee’s minor 16-year-old daughter will be doing any work for the company not as an intern, she must obtain a work permit, must be paid at least the applicable minimum wage, and is entitled to the protections afforded other employees. You’ll also need to consider that each state has its own laws governing the employment of minors. Check here to review the laws applicable to your state. 

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 19, 2019

​​​​​​​Solid Job Growth for March Despite Decrease in February

March resulted in positive job growth with employers adding an additional 196,000 jobs with considerable job gains in the healthcare and professional/technical services. Employment growth averaged 180,000 per month in the first quarter compared to the 223,000 per month in 2018 and this month the unemployment rate remained the same at 3.8 percent. The number of unemployed persons remained unchanged at 6.2 million.

During the month of March, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) showed minimal to no change at 130 million and accounts for 21.1 percent of those unemployed. With the labor force participation rate at 63 percent, it showed slight change over the course of the month and little movement on net over the past 12 months. In addition, the number of persons employed part-time for economic reasons (referred to as involuntary part-time workers) showed small changes at 4.5 million in March. To explain, these are individuals who would have preferred to have full-time employment and were working part-time due to their hours being reduced or unable to find full-time employment.

Job gains occurred in health care adding 49,000 jobs and 398,000 over the past 12 months. This growth increased employment in ambulatory health care services (+27,000), hospitals (+14,000) and nursing/ residential care facilities (+9,000). In addition, there was a significate increase in the professional and technical services of 34,000 and 311,000 over the past 12 months. The growth increased employment in design and related services (+12,000), architectural engineering services (+6,000) and management and technical consulting services (+6,000). Employment also showed an upward trend in food services and drinking (+27,000) as well in construction (+16,000) with an increase of 246,000 over the past 12 months.

In March, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 4 cents to $27.70, following a 10-cent gain in February. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 3.2 percent. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 6 cents to $23.24 in March.

With the revisions of both the January and February’s job reports, the number of jobs went from +311,000 to +312,000 for January and +20,000 to +30,000 for February – combined there were 14,000 more jobs than previously reported. These changes show a continual growth in employment and the upward trend of different sectors benefiting from this positive job growth.

March 27, 2019

​​​​​​​HR Question: Participation in Occupational Employment Statistics Reporting

Question: We received a request from the State Department of Labor, Division of Research and Statistics, to provide information for "Occupational Employment Statistics Report in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Labor." Is our participation mandatory or required?

Answer: Your state department of labor has asked you to participate in the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Current Employment Statistics survey. Providing information is voluntary under federal law and is mandatory under state law only in North Carolina, Oregon, and South Carolina. 

The report is based on a sample of 390,000 business establishments nationwide. The survey produces monthly estimates of employment, hours, and earnings for the nation, states, and major metropolitan areas. Preliminary national estimates for a given reference month are typically published on the first Friday of the following month, in conjunction with data derived from a separate survey of households, the Current Population Survey. See the Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey page and the Current Employment Statistics page for more information.

Although voluntary in most states, employers are encouraged to complete and submit the report accordingly. No penalties exist for those who choose not to report in states where participation is not mandatory.

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.

February 21, 2019

Ensuring a Healthy Work Environment

Most people spend the majority of their weekday hours getting ready for work, commuting to and from work and actively working. As a standard rule of thumb, we make it a priority to ensure we live in a safe environment at home--free from negative energy. But what about our work environment? How can we ensure the environment is safe there as well?

Some typical issues encountered in the workplace that can be bothersome include poor lighting and fluctuating temperatures, but other issues that are surprisingly common that can seriously undermine employee health are workplace bullying and sexual harassment. These types of behavior can have an extremely negative impact on the well-being, productivity, and health of everyone in the office, not just those directly involved. Creating a safe work environment means focusing on culture and eliminating harmful behavior.

Many people think these negative behaviors stop once the graduation caps have been tossed in the air. Unfortunately, bullying is a common problem that can occur in any setting involving a large group of people, and the workplace is no exception. With digital tools like office chatrooms, texting, and email, there are more ways than ever for abusers to target others. Workplace harassment can encompass a number of harmful behaviors, including threats, humiliation, sabotage, and intimidation. It is this repeated harassment that can affect the victim’s ability to concentrate and/or feel safe at work.

One of the biggest problems with workplace harassment is that many people don’t recognize it when they see it. Not all harassment is obvious. Sometimes, it’s subtle and the effects build up over time. Alternatively, the abuser may be using digital tools that no one else can see rather than engaging in inappropriate behavior in front of others. In other cases, people that are witness to bullying may not feel safe coming forward. Research indicates that a shocking 37% of workers in the United States have been directly bullied in the workplace. When you factor in the people who witnesses bullying, the number reaches 49%. All in all, even if a person hasn’t been bullied on the job, chances are they know someone who has. Because of the negative consequences, these behaviors are a leading contributor of toxic work environments around the country.

Not only does workplace harassment cause victims to lose their confidence and experience increased stress, it can also lead to poor productivity, illness, and possibly, to the person quitting. A toxic culture increases turnover rates and can even open up companies to legal trouble if allowed to continue.

Workplace harassment is a serious issue and should therefore, be handled promptly. Not only can it lead to mental and physical health problems for your employees, it can also impact your bottom line and even hurt your reputation. Eliminating toxic behavior through education and awareness are key when it comes to ending workplace harassment of any kind and of the utmost importance in creating a safe and healthy work environment. Mandatory trainings for managers and employees, strict policies on harassment, and other safeguards can help ensure a safe and healthy environment for all.

This article was created in collaboration with Quinn Cooley of DC Scholarships.

January 31, 2019

How to Avoid Common Performance Review Pitfalls

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

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

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

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

3) Lack of preparation – Making an assessment or judgment call prior to gathering all the facts and examining the logic of your assessment, can lead to a very negative outcome. Situations like these could lead to resentment or loss of respect for the manager. Every statement you share, whether it be criticism or praise, should be backed up with specific details.

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

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

Some situations in life are just uncomfortable and performance reviews are often one of them. By planning ahead, these conversations can be extremely productive and used to strengthen employee-manager relationships while driving positive outcomes for the business. Set clear expectations, continuously monitor employee performance, regularly check-in, offer praise for good performance and continually work on staff development.  You will be well on your way to creating a positive work environment where both parties are appreciated and respected. 

November 30, 2018

HR Question: Requiring Mandatory Flu Shots

Question: Can we require our employees to get flu shots?

Answer: While there is no law that prohibits employers from mandating flu shots — and in some states, the law requires all healthcare workers to get flu shots — you should carefully determine if the benefits to your business outweigh the risks. There has been a rise in litigation brought by employees who object to this requirement for medical, religious or personal reasons. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed or joined several lawsuits over claims that inflexible mandatory vaccination policies are discriminatory.

Employees may be entitled to exemptions from a flu shot policy for medical reasons under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or religious reasons under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Requests for exemptions must be evaluated individually yet treated consistently, a difficult task. You will need to engage in an interactive process with the employee, just as you would for any other request for accommodations, to determine if they can be granted without presenting undue hardship to your company.

The EEOC recommends against mandatory flu shot policies, instead suggesting employers encourage employees get vaccinated on their own. Offering no-cost flu shots on site can further improve workplace vaccination rates by making it more convenient for employees.

If you choose to enact a mandatory flu shot policy, write it carefully to protect your company from the risk of discrimination claims and be sure to run it by your legal counsel. Make sure the policy:

  • Is worded concisely.
  • Outlines the reasoning behind the policy.
  • Is applied consistently. (Managers who enforce it should be trained on the policy and how to handle requests for exemptions.)
  • Explains the process for requesting exemptions due to medical contraindications or sincerely held religious beliefs. Any medical information obtained as part of the request for an exemption should be kept confidential.
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