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Entries with Topic HR Management .

January 24, 2023

The Value of Cost of Living Raises

It is nearly impossible to find data about compensation increases without inflation figuring in every discussion. In 2022, amidst the first global pandemic in over a century, the average price of gas skyrocketed to $5.75 per gallon (up from a low of $2.68 in May of 2020). The inflation rate for 2022 finished at 6.5%, and today (for the moment), gas prices sit as low as $3.49 in some areas.  The federal minimum wage will increase to $9.50 per hour this year, varying significantly from state to state.  You can visit The Horton Group page on minimum wages for the state-specific wage rates.

Investopedia.com defines inflation as “a rise in prices, which can be translated as the decline of purchasing power over time.” Among today’s inflationary pressures we can count damage to crops, livestock, lives, and property from recent climate change events, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine spiking the costs of natural gas and grain, and a new strain of avian flu resulting in eggs at $6.00 per dozen.  The pandemic itself was a force majeure expense for everyone, with shortages ranging from microchips to baby formula.

And yet, we have emerged from this tough time with an appreciation for U.S. workers that we haven’t experienced since the 1950s. Employers continue to be affected by the great labor shortage and unexpected increases in opportunities, pay, and benefits for workers.  Driven in no small part by younger workers unwilling to settle for low-wage gigs, companies have been hiring at significantly competitive salaries and vying for new workers by burnishing their employer brand as emphatically as they do their brand. Things have changed.

BDO USA, a global accounting firm, anticipated that budgets for merit increases in 2022 would hover around 3%, but found that in the final quarter of 2021, the increases topped out just below 4%. The talent shortage had pushed raises into the 4% range. Concurrently, inflation was approaching 1982 levels, which BDO anticipated would push salary increases still higher (the term for this is a wage-price spiral, which Americans last heard about in the mid-1970s). BDO conducted a poll of 440 organizations across multiple industries--including 127 nonprofits—in January and February of 2022 and determined that compensation budgets for all participating companies averaged 5.1%, with nonprofit firms averaging 4.4%. The last time salary-increase budgets exceeded 4% was in 2001.

BDO cautioned, “For nonprofits, this may be a significant shock for their 2022 budgets, as a 4.4% budget increase represents a 47% hike (emphasis also mine) compared to the previously standard 3% budget. It is likely that many organizations are not in a position to increase salary budgets to this degree.”

Journalist and social media strategist Lia Tabackman succinctly laid out the good and bad news in her article in 501c.com, Nonprofit Compensation Battles with Inflation: “Salary and wage increases at U.S. organizations have not kept pace with the rising prices of inflation, and recent trends suggest that in many cases there is financial gain to be had from leaving workplaces that can’t keep up. To put a fine point on it: employers who aren’t able to provide compensation increases that account for inflation risk losing their employees to those who can.”

Fortunately, there are plenty of voices in the for-profit and nonprofit worlds who offer useful guidance in addressing the challenge. BDO suggests inflation’s impact on salary gains will vary by situation.  Here are some of their tips to bolster your workforce.

  • As energy prices rise, consider extra financial support for employees that need to commute by car or drive as part of their job duties. This can be delivered in the form of gas cards, parking vouchers, or passes for public transportation.
  • If increasing your budget for merit increases is not feasible, consider doing a mid-year assessment to determine whether a second pay adjustment is needed and can be supported.
  • Identify personnel that are mission-critical, as well as top performers to ensure their contributions are recognized and reflected in pay levels according to the organization’s pay policies and financial condition.
  • While there are always exceptions, lower wage employees are the most impacted by inflation. Their salary increases typically do not result in a significant change in purchasing power. Focus salary increase dollars on those who are most impacted.
  • Allocating more of the budget to pay increases for lower-paid employees can do more than just promote retention, it can help differentiate your organization as one that prioritizes fair compensation practices and demonstrates that management values its employees.

Lauren Mason, senior principal for the Career Business Division at Mercer (an HR consulting partnership) made these recommendations for employers to consider for this year's compensation planning period:

  • Prioritize Hourly Pay.  With unprecedented levels of churn in the labor market, wage growth at record pace and increasing external scrutiny, now is the time to focus on hourly pay strategies.
  • Consider A Segmented Approach.  Ensure budget dollars "are focused on addressing gaps in competitiveness . . . Consider a segmented approach by offering higher wages to both new joiners and high-performing current employees in critical business segments, as well as those whose pay is below market rates.
  • Keep In Mind The Employee Experience.  Employees have heightened expectations around pay, so equip leaders with the resources to communicate pay decisions effectively.

CapinCrouse, a national CPA and consulting firm serving nonprofits, provided the following from their three-part series Inflation’s Ripple Effect on Nonprofits and Their Employees.

  • Nonprofit compensation is enough of a puzzle without the added challenge of market fluctuations. But while every organization is different, there are options for leaders who want to communicate the value of their team members through more than just cash compensation.
  • Many nonprofits are opting to give their employees one-time bonuses rather than setting themselves up to maintain promised increases in future years. This provides an immediate benefit to employees who are feeling the real-time impact of market conditions without setting the precedent of an increased baseline wage.
  • Since times of economic inflation tend to put more strain on lower-level (and lower-earning) employees, nonprofits may also want to consider providing tiered incentives such as:
  • Increased retirement plan contribution percentages
  • Stipends to accommodate elevated gas prices (consult with a tax advisor first to ensure they understand and disclose the potential tax implications for the organization and employees)
  • Higher merit increases or one-time bonuses

In March 2022, hundreds of nonprofit workers gathered in New York City to demand that the city write a minimum wage of $21 per hour and a 6% cost of living adjustment into the city budget for nonprofit workers. Minor Sinclair, Executive Director of The Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) wrote for The Chronicle of Philanthropy to explain how CPR increased their employees’ wages, beginning with a “contingency fund” to augment salaries to help offset the impact of inflation. Staff members received a $1,000 payment from the fund in spring 2022, which CPR planned to renew in the fall. CPR also upgraded employees’ benefits packages, including a “modest allowance” to help cover utility and internet costs for staff working from home. Employees also received an extra week of vacation to be taken at the end of the year. Additionally, CPR made short and long-term disability-pay plans available to staff.

It is important not to lose sight of the fact that the nonprofit sector is the third largest employer in North America, employing one out of every ten working Americans (about 12.5 million workers). Think about the strength in those numbers. If nonprofits can't retain quality employees, their fundraising and program delivery will suffer. During tough economic times and good, investing in people pays dividends for your nonprofit’s present and future successes.

This blog post was written by Amélie Frank, consulting copywriter to UST. To learn more about Amélie’s professional portfolio you can find her online at https://www.linkedin.com/in/amelie-frank/.

January 13, 2023

Consistently Benchmarking Compensation Ranges

It is vital to the success of your organization that you approach employee compensation with the accuracy of metrics. Routine benchmarking of your salaries and benefits against those of your employment competition can help you retain valuable employees. Before you can offer the right pay, you must know what the competition is offering.

What Benchmarking Means to Your Retention

In order to reach your goals and fulfill your mission, you need to know what skills are required and how many people you need to achieve success. To determine the answers to these questions, you must analyze vital metrics including employee turnover, wages, opportunities for promotion and your organization's hierarchy. Knowing this information can help you understand, identify and correct underlying weaknesses in your organization. If you're hiring and training people only to lose them before your expense has been covered, studying key metrics on turnover rates combined with average wages may help you focus on the cause of your problem, be it pay, engagement, or something else entirely. From there, you can find employees and strategies that make for a better fit.

You then need to learn how to interpret and respond to the metrics you uncover. But don't fear the answers you uncover—there is no "ideal" turnover rate, even within your specific mission. However, knowing where you fall within the range of employers in your geographic region and mission can help you make deliberate and informed choices in pay and benefits. Simply put, you won't know what you can do until you see a complete picture of how you compare.

An annual benchmark report card covers all the basics, but if you find that a particular issue or program requires additional follow-up, which will most likely be the case, you should consider tracking it quarterly in order to continuously monitor key metrics.

Affordable Benchmarking: Nonprofits Helping Nonprofits

While paid data resources can provide detailed information, their costs generally reach beyond the budget of a small- or medium-sized organization. Fortunately, most states offer affordable resources for the information you need. The National Council for Nonprofits, a nonprofit itself, connects nonprofit organizations with localized associations that offer data-based best practices information. A quick review of the map will provide the contact information you need to get in touch with the nonprofit association in your state. For example, the Maine Association of Nonprofits (MANP) publishes a survey that describes the latest rankings of salaries and benefits for all participating nonprofits in the state. "Any nonprofit experiencing staff retention issues should, first, verify that their salaries correspond to regional benchmarks with other nonprofits," said MANP Executive Director Jennifer Hutchins. "Once you have the data, your executive director should have a conversation with your board of directors ensuring that the organization is adequately investing resources in retaining the staff needed to achieve desired outcomes toward reaching mission goals."

Maine's association also provides other resources for nonprofits, such as training, advocacy and legal assistance. Their publication, Guiding Principles & Practices, provides a free online best-practices guide for nonprofit leaders including the chapter, "Staff & Volunteer Management." The associations in most other states offer similar reports. For information on benchmarking against for-profit businesses, contact your state's department of labor or your local chamber of commerce. Membership in associations vary by state and are usually based on a sliding scale so that newer or smaller nonprofits can take advantage of the information without financial hardship.

Nonprofits with larger operating budgets may be able to invest in research conducted by the Employers Council. This nonprofit provides help with Employment Law, HR, Training and surveys. While their fees are higher, you'll find a broad scope of research that includes for-profit salaries and benefits. If most of your employment competition is coming from the for-profit sector, it may be worth the investment.

Start with Salaries

You went through a rigorous hiring process and found employees who formed a team that has created awesome results. But then, one by one, members of your team leave for other jobs. What went wrong? It may be tempting to solely blame the comparatively low financial picture of a nonprofit organization. However, there are winning strategies that the smart HR professional can use to retain employees longer, so the organization benefits from their professional growth and accumulating experience. It's not just about money—nor is it just about the mission. Employees need you to understand that a complex blend of mission and compensation—including professional development—will help them stay with you longer.

Some salary benchmarking strategists argue that employees these days have a lot more access to compensation information on the internet. It's true, there is more transparency than ever, but it doesn't have to act against you. With the right benchmarking plan in place, you can make good use of this information. Bear in mind that low turnover can be a sign that you're paying more than the standard. Finding a balance between overpayment and underpayment will only happen when you benchmark your salaries against the competition.

What Else to Benchmark?

Retaining personnel requires benchmarking information that goes beyond the hiring process. For example, knowing how often you promote from within could be a crucial factor in staff retention. You should dig deeper than this, of course. Say, for example, your organization diligently promotes male employees to management positions but fails to promote females at the same rate; this could signal a serious problem. It's important to study all aspects of "promotions" as a topic in order to uncover issues.

The first step, of course, is to know where your organization stands by benchmarking your situation regularly. The ADP Research Institute (ADPRI) provides the benchmarks needed to gain a better understanding of employee retention in different organizations. This new data will help you measure the effectiveness of your diversity and inclusion programs. If your organization lacks such programs, this data will show how you compare to other employers who do have such systems in place.

It's no secret that pay gaps between men and women still exist in today's society. And yes, even in well-intentioned nonprofits, gender-based pay disparity remains a critical problem. If you catch this with benchmarking, it's critical that you monitor the situation closely.

In an Ever-Changing Field, Knowledge Truly Is Power

You must be aggressive in pursuit of frequent benchmark updates. Stay abreast of your status in relation to compensation by industry and location. The employee you hired six months ago could go online today and discover new information on salaries and other perks that recently developed for a particular skill-set. With the shortages of skilled labor, transferable skills are more desirable today than ever before. The question then arises: How often should I benchmark? The answer is simple (though painful): How often do you want to be caught off-guard when a valued employee leaves?

Pay careful attention to your nonprofit's annual calendar when planning your benchmarking activities. Find those times when you can move ahead with benchmarking, and then be sure to follow through consistently. Be sure to understand the particular needs of your nonprofit and know that it might not reflect what is measured in the for-profit business world. Of course, it's valuable to study the metrics for your particular location. If you're located in a region where the cost of living is higher than the national average, be sure to recognize and measure the degree to which it affects your employees' ability to stay with you.

Retention Is Not Enough

Tracking retention, alone, is not the solution to all of your concerns. Some employees may be staying in place while waiting for a better opportunity to present itself. They're not necessarily doing their best work for you, and they will not hesitate to leave when the chance arises. So, for the weeks, months or even years that they are occupying that position, don’t assume everything is good. More than retention, you need employee loyalty.

Try measuring who is satisfied in their job for the long term. How do you know what to measure? Business expert Jon Picoult listed nuanced metrics to prioritize:

Ask the right questions on employee satisfaction surveys. How likely would it be for the staff member to recommend your organization as a workplace and why.

Track your real referrals. When you interview job candidates, ask them if they were referred by a current or past employee.

Track employee suggestions. A loyal employee is more likely to make suggestions for workplace improvements.

Whether you're making your first foray into benchmarking employee retention, or you're taking it to the next level with regular studies on employee loyalty, you're already doing better than many other organizations. Remember to create and follow a solid benchmarking schedule to track this information frequently, and then you will be properly prepared to build and maintain your organization's robust workforce. There truly is power in knowledge, and this is how you plug in.

This is an excerpt from UST’s eBook, “5 Vital Employee Engagement Practices to Foster a Desirable Workplace” in collaboration with Beth Black, Writer and Editor.

October 14, 2022

2022 HR Compliance Toolkit

Human Resources departments play an important role in the overall success of an organization. One critical function is ensuring compliance by adhering to state and federal regulations which can influence organizational sustainability. To help nonprofit employers streamline strategies that can help to protect your most valuable assets—we've created the 2022 HR Compliance Toolkit.

This free toolkit includes an involuntary termination checklist, strategies to address unemployment fraud, tips for managing unemployment compensation and more:

  1. Best Practice Tips for Unemployment Compensation
  2. Misconduct vs. Poor Performance
  3. Things You Can Do To Help Prevent Retaliation Claims
  4. Ways to Minimize Your Unemployment Costs
  5. The Essential Interview Checklist
  6. An Introduction to Employee Benefits
  7. Involuntary Termination Checklist
  8. Exit Interview Checklist
  9. Addressing Unemployment Fraud in the Workplace
  10. [Webinar Recording] Nonprofit HR Compliance: How to Avoid Critical Oversights

To access more HR-specific articles, templates and checklists, you can sign up for a FREE 60-Day Trial of UST HR Workplace today! You'll also gain access to live HR certified consultants, 300+ on-demand training courses, and a virtual compliance library.

July 21, 2022

Five Tips for Successfully Leading a Hybrid Workforce

A major shift has been underway, fundamentally altering, when, where, and how work occurs. As organizations adjust to today’s new hybrid workplace, collaboration among team members who aren’t co-located is emerging as the primary way to get things done. This way of working brings new opportunities—along with new uncertainties and challenges—for those leading the hybrid workforce. Effective hybrid workplace leadership requires building cohesion among colleagues working together from different locations, fending off burnout, being intentional about inclusion, and strengthen shared culture.

The nonprofit workforce has evolved in ways no one could have foreseen, and leaders continue to adapt to a changing management style. Forced to re-invent not just how they worked, but where, many are embracing hybrid teams—a blended model of in-person and remote workers. For some leaders, the shift to managing hybrid teams is a radical departure from business as usual but with the right use of technology, strong communication, and clear expectations, hybrid teams can be highly effective. Nonprofit leaders can utilize UST's 5 Tips for Successfully Leading a Hybrid Workforce to ensure productivity and engagement. These essential tips include:

  1. Communication is the key to success
  2. Prioritize team building activities and celebrate successes
  3. Create opportunities for collaboration
  4. Provide what they need to succeed

The pressure is on leaders to find innovative solutions to make hybrid teams happy and productive as the hybrid model can be more complicated than a fully remote team. Take this opportunity to pay close attention to your team and continue to find ways to address their unique position. To successfully manage a hybrid workforce, leaders must create processes, build trust, and ensure a strong shared experience across all teams. Sign up for our monthly eNews to continue receiving helpful insights, how-to-guides, and legal updates specific to nonprofits!

May 17, 2022

Build Competitive & Creative Benefit Packages

You probably already know that nonprofits generally work with lower budgets than large corporations, especially when it comes to employee benefits and perks. That means you must make your nonprofit appealing to job seekers in other ways. This is the time to deploy your creative genius and stand out in the employment marketplace. The global pandemic put just about everyone through a life-altering experience. And as a result, many career trajectories are changing. Seize the opportunity to offer something attractive that will improve their quality of life, enriching them in ways that go beyond dollar signs—and it must be more than your mission.

Offered in many shapes, the employee benefits package has kept its golden status as a form of compensation that goes beyond wages to draw job seekers. Often referred to as perks, the varied benefits included are special and not offered by all employers. You should begin by re-examining your basics to see if you’re already offering any of the following:

  • Improved Work-Life Balance. Given that so many spent more than a year at home, it might seem contrary to offer additional personal time off. But the pandemic lock downs, complete with furloughs and layoffs, were not the same as paid leave from a job that inspires you to return with energy. Flexible hours can also help families cope with new work routines. And longstanding employees might appreciate the opportunity to take an educational sabbatical, especially if they return with helpful new skills. That's a win/win!
  • Healthy is Happy. The pandemic exposed a health divide across the nation. Help your workers enjoy greater wellness by providing budget-friendly benefits they will appreciate. Organize a lunchtime walking group or offer healthy snacks instead of the traditional vending machine. Those working in the office again may need a quiet space for relaxing breaks. Put that empty office space to good use. If your nonprofit can afford it, consider partnering with a local gym to reimburse part of their membership fees.
  • Teach and Learn. Offer opportunities for staff to share special skills, such as a foreign language. Or set up links to crafty educational YouTube videos for crafts in the break room coupled with basic supplies for beginners. At lunch, they can learn to crochet or make a mosaic.
  • Form an Affinity Group. If your nonprofit is large enough, you may be able to take advantage of affinity group benefits⁸, such as insurance deals or club memberships. Check into offering a discounted membership in Auto Club (AAA), for example, which would then provide numerous discounts and services to your employees.
  • Have Fun Together. Bring some joy to your workforce culture by offering memorable enjoyable events. For example, cell phones are ubiquitous, so how about a photo contest? Dedicate some wall space, perhaps in the lunchroom (or an online page) for your employees’ artwork—photographic or otherwise. They can share around-town selfies, landscapes, or perhaps local architecture.

When you must work with a limited benefits budget, it’s crucial to choose only the benefits that your employees will care about. Clearly, most workers need help with healthcare costs. If your nonprofit is small, and you don’t provide a group health insurance plan, consider offering a Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangement (QSEHRA) — an affordable way to help defray your employees’ healthcare costs. The pandemic left many Americans in debt and reducing these expenses will help reduce their risks of financial devastation. Even before the pandemic, millennials struggled with deficient wages, affordable housing shortages, and outrageous student debt. They already make up the largest segment of the workforce, so whatever you can do to help them with essential expenses will be appreciated.

Financial Tools That Help

Americans are recovering financially, as the economy revives, though it breaks along socioeconomic and racial lines. About 60% of White and Asian adults report that their finances are in excellent or good shape. By contrast, about two thirds of Black adults and nearly 60% of Hispanic adults report that their finances are in fair or poor shape. Roughly half of non-retired Americans say the economic consequences of the coronavirus outbreak have made it harder for them to achieve their financial goals moving forward. These employees need your help managing their budgets. Consider the following tools for this purpose:

  • Access to Funds. Work with a payroll service that provides free access to funds between paydays. This can help protect your workers experiencing surprise expenses from credit card late fees and overdraft charges, as they return to work and rebuild their financial wellbeing.
  • HSAs and FSAs. Provide a tax-free way to pay for covered expenses.
  • Set Up a Retirement Plan. Whether it’s a 401(K) or a 403(B), you can help your staff prepare for the future with deposits that are automatically deducted from their pay. Make it spectacular by including a plan to match contributions up to a specified amount.
  • Identity Theft Protection. Scams and security breaches are rampant. When you offer free enrollment in a credit monitoring program, you’re showing how much you care by protecting their safety and security.
  • Student Loan Assistance. This will be huge for millennials, their parents and recent graduates from other generations who might be feeling abandoned by governmental agencies that allowed promised funds to dwindle. Just a hundred dollars a month could save your employee three years of payments.

Nearly 86% of workers between 22 and 33 years old say they would commit to an employer for five years if the deal included student loan assistance. Encourage loyalty with a monthly payment that helps reduce their debt.

  • Help Families Flourish. Is your family leave package robust? Find creative means to help with child or elder care. Celebrate families with bring-your-child-to-work days. Whatever helps busy moms and dads get through their week with less stress could be just the ticket.
  • Share the Swag. Does your nonprofit use branded swag for fundraising or other purposes? Share some of those goodies with your employees, so they can really feel like part of the team without having to donate part of their paycheck to do it.
  • Paid Volunteer Time. You’ve hired people who care. Let them put in some extra time without sacrificing a paycheck. It’s good for the community, the employee, and your employer brand!
  • Auto Insurance Premiums. With more employees working from home, their car insurance rates likely dropped significantly – perhaps enough for you to help with the premiums.
  • Supplemental Insurance. Offer these programs at group rates for employees, including spousal insurance, long-term care, disability and more.
  • Make the Workplace Comfortable. As the pandemic slowly subsides, it’s time to rethink office supplies that go beyond hand sanitizer. Save your employees the expense of caring for their comfort by providing blankets for those under air conditioning vents, free healthy snacks to keep energy up, and perhaps serve lattes once a month as a sign of appreciation for all they do. And remember birthdays because it's personal to the employee and it shows you care. Give them reason to connect you with empathy and caring.

With so many members of the American workforce continuing to work from home, you should also consider helping to defray their communication and efficiency costs. Offer a corporate cell phone plan or give them one to use for work. If you’re not already doing this, it’s time to cover the cost of upgrading their internet speed.

Party Heart-y

And one virtually free method of supporting your staff with joyful memories is to ask employees to recognize each other. Co-workers feel highly motivated to earn the esteem of their peers and will network better, gaining newfound appreciation for their teammates, as they seek reasons to recognize each other.

Seize the opportunity to go over the top by coupling it with a seasonal party event. Serve in-season snacks, such as cocoa for winter, and warm each other’s hearts with your very own mutual-admiration society.

Virtual Team Building

If your staff is now working remote, you can find virtual events to enjoy online. Many types of fun shared experiences await, from game shows to virtual escape rooms, virtual tropical beach gatherings, online shared puzzles to solve, trivial challenges, and more. Your team could be lounging on a virtual tropical beach together. Just a few clicks away! If your budget doesn’t allow for a third-party provider, simply visit Google Earth, and plug in far-away cities, then share the domain and enjoy virtual travel together! Wander the streets of Italy’s Positano or a Japanese fishing village. The opportunities are global!

Experience Success

Whether your employees enjoy them at home or someplace around town, experiences are the hot new perk. Even before the pandemic, Millennials had developed a reputation as seekers of experiences rather than accumulators of goods. That’s not to suggest ignoring their monetary needs; they still have student loans and other high costs disempowering their buying choices. But prior to COVID-19, HR teams were already searching for emotionally impactful activities that could act as bonus incentives. And Millennials largely took them up on experiences that boosted a sense of interpersonal contact and community.

The pandemic galvanized this mindset and spread a desire for recreation to all workforce generations. Of course, the sporadic need for social distancing has complicated fulfilling desires for contact and community. So, be sure to include engaging experiences that they can enjoy from the safety and comfort of their homes. Some companies offer memberships in Peloton or virtual leadership coaching. It could be something fun and relaxing like an in-home cooking class or even a meal prepared by a private chef. Or it could be hiring professional respite care for an elderly family member so that the employee can enjoy a break from routine. The limit to this is your creativity and the dreams of your workers. The truth is, an experience given as a gift or reward is more personal than a gift card or bonus check. Look to provide moments of connection, even if it requires using digital tools to deliver them. Online platforms offering curated activities as incentives are available, and employees can even choose what is most meaningful to them. The menu options are abundant and worth considering. As the nation reopens, many more opportunities will become available – from tours to scuba lessons. Whatever the offerings, each activity celebrates the person who works on your team and will build your employer brand to new levels of success.

Set Up Your New Employee Benefits Packages

Now that you’ve considered the new possibilities, you’re ready to leap in, right? Of course, setting up a new employee benefits package will take some expertise. But you should allow your creativity to provide foundational ideas that will build the package of your employees’ dreams. It’s an opportunity to stand out. First, however, you need to know these startling facts:

• A full 40% of US employees report that their employer is not currently offering employee benefits programs that help.

• An impressive 69% say that having a wider array of benefits would increase their workplace loyalty.

• A frightful 32 million members of the US workforce don’t receive paid sick time off, which is especially horrifying to note in pandemic times.

Of course, there are some basics: Many employers offer life insurance, retirement plans, overtime pay, and PTO or sick pay. The US federal government does require larger organizations to offer medical benefits and unpaid family leave to full-time employees. Some states add to this. Beyond that, benefits are an ideal way to serve budget-conscious nonprofits in the current job market. Excellent benefits that are affordable for an organization can incentivize employees to stay longer despite lower cash wages. Lower turnover saves your nonprofit as well. A great benefits package can build workforce loyalty and push your team toward greater success with your nonprofit’s mission.

Be Their Best Friend’s Best Friend

For something truly unusual, offer a paid day off for a staff member to bond with her newly adopted puppy or kitten, offering to send a treat for rescued pets. Some nonprofits offer subsidized or group-rate pet insurance as an option. The most affordable option may simply to offer a pet-friendly office space for worksite employees. Take precautions to protect employees with allergies and specify the kinds of pets that are allowed, normally well-behaved dogs. Some organizations bring in animal therapy to help de-stress their staff. When a puppy makes the rounds, he’s always followed by a lot of smiles. These benefits aren’t too common, so you’ll make your brand stand out by offering furry wellness perks.

Expand a Popular Offering

What’s better than PTO? Extended PTO! Look into stretching paid time off to include some half-day Fridays. Every other week, staff members who have their assignments completed on time can take the afternoon off, paid. The benefit supports mental wellness with extra-long weekends to rest and relax—some companies offer unlimited vacation time. Even if you only offer these time-related benefits during summers or perhaps on a once-monthly basis, it could keep your staff motivated and excited about employment at your organization.

Perks Work!

The good news is that most benefits you select can be customized to suit your budget, workforce, and nonprofit culture. Business strategist Kenichi Ohmae said, “Rowing harder doesn’t help if the boat is headed in the wrong direction.” If you’re offering the wrong benefits, or you’re trying to find other means of remaining competitive in today’s tight job market, it’s time to consider a new direction in benefits packaging. Ask your staff about their dream rewards, come up with creative offerings that speak to those dreams, and then share the news with everyone.

This is an excerpt from UST’s eBook, “Workforce Management Tactics that Strengthen Nonprofit Brands” in collaboration with Beth Black, Writer and Editor.

May 12, 2022

2022 Employee Engagement Toolkit

As the workforce continues to evolve and nonprofit employers struggle to find (and retain) top talent, leaders must prioritize employee engagement strategies and include development initiatives. To help nonprofit leaders rethink the employee experience, we've compiled our top resources to create the 2022 Employee Engagement Toolkit.

With all that you do for the communities you serve, it's critical that you focus on those who keep your mission moving forward by fostering a work culture where employees feel valued, involved and supported—keeping them intrinsically motivated and engaged. Download the free toolkit and gain access to all of these resources:

  1. 7 Ways to Re-Engage Your Workforce
  2. Employee Engagement Checklist for Leaders
  3. Creative Workplace Benefits
  4. Basics of Creating a Training Program
  5. Basics of Creating a Training Program
  6. Employee Suggestion Form
  7. Workplace Flexibility Fundamentals
  8. Key Steps for Implementing a Mentoring Program
  9. How Employers Can Stand Against Racial Injustice
  10. [Webinar Recording] Nonprofit Retention Strategies

To access more HR-specific articles, templates and checklists, you can sign up for a FREE 60-Day Trial of UST HR Workplace today! You'll also gain access to live HR certified consultants, 300+ on-demand training courses, and a virtual compliance library.

February 04, 2022

HR Question: Sharing Vaccination Status with Managers

Question: Can we share employee vaccination status with managers so they can enforce any policies based on that information, such as masking and social distancing?

Answer: Yes. Obviously, managers will need this information if they are expected to enforce vaccination-dependent policies, and employers should train them on how they should be enforcing the policies and how and when to escalate issues to HR or a higher level of management. However, you should not share this information any more widely than necessary. Vaccination status is medical information that must be kept confidential.

While anonymized information is okay to share widely—e.g., “80% of our employees are vaccinated!”—each employee’s vaccination status should be treated as confidential, even if the fact that they are wearing a mask to work seems to reveal their status publicly.

Q&A provided by Mineral, powering the UST HR Workplace. Have HR questions? Sign your nonprofit up for a FREE 60-day trial here. As a UST member, simply log into your Mineral portal to access live HR certified consultants, 300+ on-demand training courses, an extensive compliance library, and more.

December 14, 2021

Watch On-Demand: 7 Seismic Shifts Necessary to Move from Manager to Leader

Newly promoted managers face challenging circumstances in the early stages of transitioning roles. By understanding the different ways leaders approach business problems, you can learn to speak to each accordingly—integrating the collective knowledge to solve matters of strategic organizational importance.

This session takes a deep dive into each of the seven conceptual shifts necessary to move from managing to leading. You’ll learn practical tips for creating strategies to transition from tactical manager to strategic leader. In this webinar, we’ll discuss:

•     Understanding mindsets at a manager versus leader level

•     How to recognize behaviors that prevent leadership progression

•     Tactics you can use to change behaviors that limit leadership progression

Discover the seven most challenging mindsets of new managers, and how you can create development plans to move to better leadership behaviors.

You can also check out our GoToStage Webinar Channel—your one-stop-shop for viewing UST’s most popular and FREE on-demand webinars—to keep up-to-date on important legal changes and nonprofit trends that may impact your organization.

September 29, 2021

2021 People Risk Management Toolkit

Hiring new employees can be time-consuming, costly, and stressful. Pre-employment assessments can be useful in determining whether or not a potential new hire is a good fit candidate—with the right skills and mind set for your organization. A proven, scientific way to screen candidates and mitigate the risks of hiring mistakes, incorporating pre-employment testing can be the most effective way to gain a more thorough picture of a candidate's strengths, skills and personality.

As we know, people-related risks within an nonprofit organization can range from bad hires and misconduct to harassment and lack of diversity in the workplace. To help nonprofit employers strengthen their employee risk management practices—and mitigate the risks that can ultimately affect your bottom line—we created the 2021 People Risk Management Toolkit.

This toolkit includes a performance improvement plan, a risk audit questionnaire, risk management best practice tips and more:

  1. Essential People Risk Management Practices
  2. People Risk Management Audit Questionnaire
  3. The People Risk Management Scorecard
  4. The Cost of People Related Risks Tool
  5. EEO Self-Identification Form
  6. Anti-Harassment Policy Checklist
  7. Whitepaper: Emergency Preparedness Plan
  8. The Importance of New Hire Assessments
  9. Performance Improvement Plan
  10. Webinar Recording: Supporting Nonprofit Sustainability During a Crisis

Take the time to thoroughly vet your candidates before hiring. The cost of pre-employment screening is minimal compared to the cost of hiring someone who doesn't stay. Not to mention, that an employee who isn't a good fit—for the job or your workforce—can also impact the entire team and overall morale.

If you’re looking for access to more HR-specific articles, templates and checklists? Sign up for a FREE 60-Day Trial of UST HR Workplace today! You'll also gain access to live HR certified consultants, 300+ on-demand training courses and an extensive compliance library.

June 18, 2021

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Nonprofit Organizations

While the nonprofit sector is dedicated to serving those in need, without encompassing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) into their governance and operations, they risk becoming irrelevant. It has been proven that organizations with more diverse workforces perform better financially. Before strategizing a DEI plan, nonprofits must first understand where their organization is and where it wants to go. You can then track your nonprofit’s proficiency in diversity using both quantitative and qualitative metrics, diagnose risks and find opportunities for improvement. Nonprofits will also need to examine internal biases and adopt practices that promote DEI in their work and employment practices as well as on their boards, and in their communications.

Achieving diversity and inclusiveness in your workplace is a process of creating change through education, collaboration, and vigilance. When we apply equity and inclusion to all aspects of organizational structure, we take action towards ensuring that historically excluded groups are recognized, included, and heard. A diverse workplace encourages people to be more vocal, creative, and involved. Commitment to DEI can be demonstrated through governance policies, leadership, and recruitment.

Often when organizations begin diversity work, it can feel daunting trying to figure out where to start. While the process will be different for every organization, below are some things to consider when starting diversity work in your nonprofit.

  • Diversify Your Board – the majority of nonprofit organizations still lack diversity on their boards. In order to reflect the diversity of the communities you serve, it’s more crucial than ever to change the composition of your board. Working from the top down will also build commitment and trust from within the workplace.
  • Form DEI Committees – everyone needs a champion to support their dreams and efforts—this is no different in the workplace. A dedicated DEI committee can help the organization accomplish its diversity goals by planning and overseeing the strategy and will ultimately be better positioned to have big picture discussions about the organization’s DEI priorities.
  • Perform DEI Audits — a diversity audit helps organizations understand the demographics and culture of their workforce by generating evidence and data which allows them to identify the specific factors that will help create a more diverse and inclusive environment.
  • Update Your Policies – all aspects of your diversity initiatives should be incorporated in all activities and policies of the organization to ensure efforts remain ongoing—there is no end to a process that helps create diversity and supports inclusion.
  • Educate Your Workforce – for organizations to thrive in this time of social responsibility you need to be intentional about creating a race literate workforce. You can start by including race and ethnicity training in your diversity and inclusion initiatives—educated individuals are more invested.
  • Build a Race Equity Culture – starting with a clear and shared understanding of what a Race Equity Culture looks like for your nonprofit will enable you to create and sustain a culture that is focused on proactively counteracting race inequities.
  • Create Open Dialogue – allow your workforce to participate in the conversation. Host a formal event to share the organizations diversity initiatives. Having an external facilitator can help ensure discussions are both objective and effective.
  • Pursue Diverse Candidates – recruiting a diverse staff is essential to nonprofit sustainability. It also gives an organization a competitive advantage while also creating more engagement and greater productivity.
  • Utilize Diverse Suppliers – in an effort to strengthen your diversity initiatives and combat social injustice, nonprofits should utilize diversified suppliers and community partners. Both can be a cornerstone to success, helping to ethically and efficiently source products and services  

When we consider our own diversity, check our assumptions, ask questions, and apply our insights to our work, we can create change. Embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion as organizational values is a great way to intentionally make space for positive outcomes and will ultimately help nonprofits better serve their communities and attract a more diverse staff.

March 25, 2021

Employee Onboarding Toolkit

You only get one shot at a first impression... In an effort to help nonprofit leaders strengthen their employee onboarding process—making new hires feel welcome, while also setting them up for future success and engagement—we've compiled our top resources to create the 2021 Employee Onboarding Toolkit.

This free toolkit will provide you with helpful onboarding checklists, a survey template, and a 30-60-90 day plan. Plus, you'll get access to our on-demand webinar, which provides strategies for streamlining your onboarding processes, engaging new employees, and crafting an employee experience that reflects and supports your company culture.

We've put together our Top Employee Onboarding Tools for Nonprofit Leaders:

    1) 30-60-90 Day Onboarding Plan

    2) Employee Onboarding Checklist

    3) New Employee Orientation Checklist

    4) Flyer: 5 Ways to Make New Hires Feel Welcome

    5) 30-Day Employee Onboarding Survey

    6) Performance Appraisal Checklist

    7) Webinar Recording: Nonprofit Virtual Onboarding Strategies

    8) Organizational Chart Template

    9) Employee Handbook Acknowledgement Form

    10) Payroll and Holiday Calendar

Want access to more HR-specific articles, templates and checklists? Sign up for a FREE 60-Day Trial of UST HR Workplace today! You'll also gain access to live HR certified consultants, 300+ on-demand training courses, an extensive compliance library and more.

February 26, 2021

2020 Nonprofit Workforce Trends Infographic

Last year, as employers continued to grapple with the ongoing impact of COVID-19, UST surveyed more than 165 nonprofit employers across the U.S. to uncover the latest sector trends.

UST compiled these critical survey takeaways to create the Nonprofit Workforce Trends Infographic. Download your free copy today to discover what your nonprofit peers had to say about prominent turnover reasons, workforce issues and more.

To receive up-to-date sector insights, how-to-guides and legal updates specific to nonprofits, sign up for our eNews today!

January 29, 2021

[Webinar Recording] Virtual Onboarding Strategies for Nonprofit Employers

Nonprofits had to react quickly and adapt their internal processes when the Coronavirus hit last March—one being how they hired and onboarded new employees. The logistics of virtual onboarding may seem daunting but how you welcome a new hire is crucial to the success of both the organization and the employee.

This informative webinar recording provides strategies for streamlining your onboarding processes, engaging new employees and crafting a remote employee experience that reflects and supports your company culture.

Watch now and you’ll learn the following key strategies:

  • The importance of checklists and standardized documents
  • Tips for making new employees feel welcomed
  • The key to training and development
  • And, much more!

You have another opportunity to attend this webinar on February 23rd—be sure to register today to secure your spot! Even if you can't attend the live session, when you register, you'll receive the recording and presentation slides as soon as they become available.

November 10, 2020

HR Question: Asking Employees About Their Symptoms

Question: As we begin to return to work, if an employee is out of the office due to sickness, can we ask them about their symptoms?

Answer: Yes, but there’s a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it. In non-pandemic circumstances, employers shouldn’t ask about an employee’s symptoms, as that could be construed as a disability-related inquiry. Under the circumstances, however — and in line with an employer’s responsibility to provide a safe workplace — it is recommended that employers ask specifically about the symptoms of COVID-19.

Here is a suggested communication: “Thank you for staying home while sick. In the interest of keeping all employees as safe as possible, we’d like to know if you are having any of the symptoms of COVID-19. Are you experiencing a fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or a new loss of taste or smell?”

Remember that medical information must be kept confidential as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If the employee does reveal that they have symptoms of COVID-19, or has a confirmed case, the CDC recommends informing the employee’s co-workers of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace (but not naming the employee who has or might have it) and directing them to self-monitor for symptoms. Employers should also follow CDC guidance for cleaning and disinfecting.

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 here.

October 29, 2020

COVID-19 Nonprofit Story: DARTS

UST’s new blog series, “COVID-19 Nonprofit Stories,” illustrates how nonprofits and their employees have been coping with the unexpected challenges of the Coronavirus. Each blog spotlights one organization and the personal hurdles and workforce strategies they have encountered throughout this pandemic.

Our next story comes from another dedicated UST member—DARTS. Located in Minneapolis, DARTS provides personalized professional services to the aging demographic in the local Dakota County. By providing transportation and home services to their aging community, DARTS helps participants to lead more independent and fulfilling lives. Their services include such things as light housework, outdoor chores, home repair, caregiving resources, transportation and more.

Q: In general, how has your nonprofit been impacted by COVID-19?

A: DARTS provides services to help older adults stay engaged in the community and live in home of their choice. COVID-19 has caused older adults to isolate themselves and their caregivers are either isolated from their loved one or unable to have respite from them. The need for our services grew and we had to rapidly adapt to be able to provide them safely.

Q: What was the most immediate impact your organization faced during the onset of COVID-19?

A: DARTS provides bus rides for groups of older adults, as well as individuals. The group rides stopped immediately on March 13. We took our bus capacity to help fill a need that older adults were not able or willing to go out to food shelves to get groceries by partnering with area food shelves to help deliver those food supports.

Q: What do you see as the long-term impact COVID-19 will have on your organization?

A: How we gather as older adults will be affected for months to come and so we are becoming more nimble with technology to supplement in-person meetings and group gatherings. COVID-19 will help those with means to rely more on technology and it will make the gap larger between those who have resources and those who do not.

Q: How have you addressed employee mental health and wellness during this time?

A: We added intentional time during team meetings to talk about COVID related stress and social justice issues. We hold regular optional coffee breaks so that people can still connect, leaders are proactively reaching out to their team, we are allowing flexibility for those who can to work from home and we got brightly colored DARTS shirts for employees - a cheerful reminder as to how important they are to our community."

Keep an eye out for future renditions of “COVID-19 Nonprofit Stories,” as we continue to gather insight from the nonprofit sector. In the meantime, check out our COVID-19 Resource Center for more nonprofit-specific content—including unemployment insights, workforce trends, employee wellness tips, COVID-19 FAQs and more!

October 23, 2020

2020 Employee Engagement Toolkit

As the pandemic continues to impact the way we work—with no end date in sight—many employees are left feeling disengaged and unmotivated. To help nonprofit leaders rethink (and prioritize) the employee experience, we've compiled our top resources to create the 2020 Employee Engagement Toolkit

Now more than ever, it's critical that you foster a positive work culture where employees feel valued, involved and supported. This free toolkit includes a helpful checklist, a survey template, best practice tips and more:

  1. Employee Engagement Survey Template
  2. Employee Engagement Checklist for Leaders
  3. 6 Employee Engagement Best Practice Tips
  4. 5 Creative Ways to Celebrate Your Team
  5. Back-to-School FAQs: DOL Guidance on FFCRA Leave for Employees
  6. 7 Tips to Help Keep Your Nonprofit Employees Mentally Sound
  7. Blog: 5 Ways to Offer Your Support During a Time of Crisis
  8. Webinar Recording: Employee Engagement & Mental Wellness Strategies During COVID-19

Would you like access to more HR-specific articles, templates and checklists? Sign up for a free 60-day Trial of UST HR Workplace today! You'll also gain access to live, certified HR consultants, 300+ on-demand training courses, an extensive compliance library and more.

October 08, 2020

HR Question: Reducing Pay Due to COVID-19

Question: Can we reduce pay because of an economic slowdown due to COVID-19?

Answer: You can reduce an employee’s rate of pay based on business or economic slowdown, provided that this is not done retroactively. For instance, if you give employees notice that their pay will change on the 10th, and your payroll period runs from the 1st through the 15th, make sure that their next check still reflects the higher rate of pay for the first 9 days of the payroll period.

Nonexempt employees (those entitled to overtime) - A nonexempt employee’s new rate of pay must still meet the applicable federal, state, or local minimum wage. Employees must be given notice of the change to their rate of pay, and some states require advance notice.

Exempt employees (those not entitled to overtime) - An exempt employee’s new salary must still be at or above the federal or state minimum for exempt employees. The federal minimum salary is $684 per week. Several states have weekly minimums that are higher than that (California and New York, for instance, are in the $1,000 per week range). The minimum may not be prorated based on hours worked.

Exempt employee reclassification - If an exempt employee has so little work to do that it does not make sense to pay them the federal or state minimum (or you simply cannot afford to), they can be reclassified as nonexempt and be paid by the hour instead. This must not be done on a very short-term basis. Although there are no hard and fast rules about how long you can reclassify someone, it is recommended that you don’t change their classification unless you expect the slowdown to last for more than three weeks. Changing them back and forth frequently could cause you to lose their exemption retroactively and potentially owe years of overtime.

Employees with contracts or CBAs - If employees have employment contracts or are subject to collective-bargaining agreements (CBAs), you should consult with an attorney before making any changes to pay.

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

September 30, 2020

COVID-19 Nonprofit Story: National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD)

As nonprofit employers continue to navigate the uncertainty of COVID-19, UST decided to compile a blog series that illustrates how nonprofits and their employees have been coping with the unexpected challenges of the Coronavirus. Each blog will spotlight one organization and the personal hurdles and workforce strategies they have encountered throughout this pandemic.

Our first story comes from one of our dedicated UST members, the National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc. (NORD). Located on the East coast, NORD is very near the epicenter of where the Coronavirus transmission began. A patient advocacy organization, NORD is dedicated to helping individuals with rare diseases and the organizations that serve them through programs of education, advocacy, research and patient services.

Q: In general, how has your nonprofit been impacted by COVID-19?

A: We moved to having all staff working from home. Since two of our organization’s offices are located in Southern New England and the third is in Washington D.C., and these were the areas of the country that were first impacted, the states and locations where we are located basically closed businesses—and offices we were forced to work from home.

Q: What was the most immediate impact your organization faced during the onset of COVID-19?

A: We were required to purchase laptops and other electronic equipment for some of our staff so they could work from home. We also had to change various events from being in person to being remote/virtual.

Q: What do you see as the long-term impact COVID-19 will have on your organization?

A: We will probably have staff working either full time from home or have them come into the office less often. As far as events, I think they will eventually be held in person, though I am not certain.

Q: How have you addressed employee mental health and wellness during this time?

A: We have had one virtual all staff meeting, which was well received, plus we send out a newsletter each week which contains information about what the staff members are doing during this "new normal". In addition, we have software which allows the individual staff members to connect via video with each other during the day which allows them to maintain some sense of "normalness."

Keep an eye out for future renditions of the blog series, “COVID-19 Nonprofit Stories,” as we continue to gather insight from the nonprofit sector. Check out our COVID-19 Resource Center for more nonprofit-specific content—including unemployment insights, workforce trends, employee wellness tips, COVID-19 FAQs and more!

September 22, 2020

[Webinar Recording] UST Live: Employee Management Strategies

To help nonprofits combat the most prevalent day-to-day workforce challenges caused by COVID-19, UST has launched a NEW interactive webinar series called "UST Live." We're collaborating with reputable nonprofit leaders & HR experts across the U.S. to bring their collective expertise to you—live—in hour-long, virtual panel discussions.

In our first UST Live webinar, the panel discussed the innovative employee management strategies that are being used for onboarding, training, employee development and employee engagement during these difficult times. Plus, the panel answered attendee’s questions related to HR best practices and employee relations management.

Watch now to discover:

  • Tactics on how to effectively onboard new staff during a pandemic
  • How employee training processes have evolved since the onset of COVID-19
  • Common hurdles nonprofits are facing with prioritizing employee development
  • Ideas on how to keep employees engaged and mentally well

Upcoming UST Live Webinars: This webinar series was designed to equip nonprofits with the strategies and resources they need to survive (and thrive) throughout this pandemic. Be sure to register for our next UST webinars—scheduled for October 15th and November 19th—where we'll discuss how to develop a sustainable strategy for 2021 as well as innovative recruitment best practices.

September 18, 2020

2020 UST Workforce Re-Entry Toolkit

 

As states begin to loosen their social distancing restrictions, nonprofit employers are beginning to strategize a return-to-work plan while staying compliant with state, local and federal guidelines. To equip nonprofit leaders with the resources they need to safely re-enter the workplace, we compiled the 2020 Workforce Re-Entry Toolkit

While the decision to reopen will vary from employer to employer, having a thoughtful strategy in place will help minimize employee concern and solidify any new policies well in advance of re-entry. This free toolkit includes essential checklists, letter templates, sample policies and response plans:

  • Return to Work Employer Checklist
  • COVID-19 Employer FAQs
  • Checklist: Preparing the Workspace for Re-Entry
  • Survey: Employee Readiness to Return to Work
  • Employer Guide: Deciding Who Returns
  • COVID-19 Workplace Safety Policies
  • Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) Poster
  • Sample Welcome Back Letter
  • Quick Response Plan for Infected Employees
  • Sample Communication Regarding Infection in the Workplace
  • Webinar Recording: Preparing to Re-Entry to the Workplace

Would you like access to more HR-specific articles, templates and checklists? Sign up for a free 60-day Trial of UST HR Workplace today! You'll also gain access to live, certified HR consultants, 300+ on-demand training courses, and extensive compliance library and more.

September 01, 2020

Back-to-School FAQs About Leave Under the FFCRA

The end of summer traditionally signals the start of a busy period for employers and HR professionals, as they update their policies to reflect regulatory changes, complete their HR initiatives for the year, and start their next-year planning. This fall promises to be especially active given the continuing pandemic and related HR challenges.

The start of the 2020-2021 school year has created confusion and disruption for both employers and their employees. As a result, ThinkHR, powering UST HR Workplace, has been fielding urgent questions about how to handle a variety of situations, including how online vs. in-person school impacts employee leave. Following are some of the most common questions received and their responses.

Q: If children and their parents can choose between in-person schooling or online schooling, can we deny leave to employees who choose online schooling?

A: We don’t know yet. EFMLA can be used when a child’s school or place of care is “closed,” such that the child cannot be there in person. This might suggest that if the option is available to attend in-person, that those choosing online school would not be eligible for leave. However, we expect that many school districts will need a certain percentage of students to take classes online to make in-person school possible at a sufficiently reduced capacity. In effect, these schools will be “closed” to a certain portion of the student body and it may or may not matter whether the parents chose the online option. We expect guidance from the Department of Labor soon that will answer this question definitively.

Q: If kids are going to school in-person two days a week and doing school from home three days a week, do we have to give a parent three days a week off or can we refuse intermittent leave?

A: If you’re in the Southern District of New York, you must grant intermittent EFMLA if that is what an employee needs and asks for. That district includes the counties of Bronx, Dutchess, New York, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, and Westchester.

In the rest of the country, the answer is not clear, but we certainly recommend providing intermittent leave (as does the Department of Labor). Employees with children are in desperate need of flexibility and understanding right now and refusing a request for intermittent leave may lead to low morale, low productivity, or the employee quitting.

Keep in mind that not all employees will want a full day off just because a child is doing school from home — many may request an hour or two in the morning and an hour or two in the afternoon. Being open to these kinds of requests should help you maximize productivity (as much as possible under tough circumstances) and reduce turnover.

Q: Can we set up childcare or tutoring in the workplace?

A: While it may be possible (and we applaud the creativity), you’d want to consult with an attorney or someone else in your state that is familiar with the kind of licensing and insurance that would be required to do this. Even if you were only allowing children in the workplace occasionally, and they remained under the control of their parent, you’d want to check with your general liability carrier to make sure that it would cover incidents that involved a visiting child.

Q: Can I deny leave to an employee who has high schoolers who should be able to take care of themselves during the day?

A: No. However, if the child or children are 15 or older, you should require that the employee provide a statement or affirmation that there are special circumstances that cause the older child to need their care. They do not need to provide any further information beyond that statement (such as what the special circumstances are). If you feel it necessary, you can remind all employees that it is fraudulent to take FFCRA leave if they are not unable to work as a result of the care they will be providing. 

Q: Can we require proof that the school or place of care is closed?

A: No. You can and should (for IRS documentation) require the names and ages of the child or children being cared for and the name of the school, place of care, or caregiver that is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19. You should also require a signed statement that the employee is unable to work because they need to provide care for the child or children. Finally, if the child or children are 15 or older, the employee needs to indicate that there are special circumstance (but doesn’t need to explain them).

We don’t encourage independent sleuthing to verify what an employee tells you, but if you feel that’s necessary, be very careful of doing anything that could infringe on an employee’s right to privacy. Also be consistent in verifying this kind of information — if you are only fact-checking certain employees, you’ll open yourself up to complaints of unfair treatment.

Q:  Can I ask an employee to look for different childcare if their usual provider is unavailable?

A: No. An employee is entitled to leave if the child's usual care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 — they are under no obligation to look for alternatives, and any attempt on your part to require that would be illegal interference with their right to leave.

Q: Can I deny leave if I think or know an employee is lying about the need to care for a child?

A: There is significant risk in denying a request for FFCRA leave if an employee has provided the appropriate documentation. That said, if you believe the request is fraudulent, you should have a discussion with the employee before granting or denying leave. If it turns out that they were submitting a fraudulent request — and you have sufficient evidence to support that — you can take disciplinary action if it seems appropriate. If, after discussion, you think their request is more likely than not legitimate, you should grant it.

Be careful of disciplining an employee who requests leave but doesn’t meet the necessary criteria. These leave entitlements can be confusing, and it would be unlawful retaliation to discipline an employee who was attempting to use their right to leave in good faith.    

Q: If an employee’s stay-at-home spouse is sick with COVID-19 and unable to care for their children, can they take FFCRA leave to do so?

A: Yes, the children’s regular care provider (the stay-at-home spouse) is unavailable because of COVID-19, so the employee would be able to use either EPSL or EFMLA to provide care while their spouse is not able to do so.

Q: What if an employee won’t fill out the required FFCRA documentation?

A: The earliest an employer can require notice is after the first workday of FFCRA leave. (The regulations require employees to provide notice of their need for school closure leave as soon as practicable, but there are no consequences if the employee doesn't do so.) If, after the first workday, the employee does not provide sufficient documentation to support their request for leave, they must be notified of the problem and given an opportunity to provide what is needed. If the employee still does not provide completed documentation after being given a reasonable opportunity to do so, then the employer is not required to provide FFCRA leave.  

Q: Can we terminate an employee who is unable to work because they need to care for a child but have used up their leave under the FFCRA?

A: Assuming that no other leave laws apply, termination is an option. But you may want to instead consider offering the employee an unpaid personal leave of absence or revisiting whether a flexible or part-time work schedule would be better than losing the employee entirely. Recruiting, hiring, and training are all expensive undertakings, so if there’s a way to keep an employee around — even if they need some time off — that is likely better for your bottom line.

If you do decide to terminate an employee who is out of leave, make sure you can be consistent in that response going forward. If you are flexible with some employees while firing others, you will open yourself up to claims of discrimination.   

Q: What if we find out after we’ve granted and paid for an employee’s leave that it was fraudulent? Do we make them pay us back or report them to the IRS?

A: There is not yet clear guidance about how to handle this situation, so we recommend calling your local Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor. They are generally very responsive and may be able to provide some guidance based on your situation.

The U.S. Department of Labor will continue to provide compliance assistance to employers and its employees on their responsibilities and rights under the FFCRA. The full 100-question Department of Labor FAQ can be found here.

This Q&A was provided by ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace for nonprofit HR teams. Sign up for your FREE 60-day trialand test drive UST’s online HR platform! You’ll find HR-specific articles, templates and checklists as well as access to a plethora of tools including a live HR consultant, 300+ on-demand training courses and an extensive compliance library.

August 28, 2020

Help Your Employees Better Manage Stress

As we continue working from home—isolated from loved ones, juggling work/life balance and trying to make sense of this seemingly never-ending pandemic—stress levels are at an all-time high. So it's more important than ever to ensure the well-being of your workforce.

The harmful side effects of long-term stress can lead to increased absenteeism, poor work quality and decreased morale. Taking the time to show you care about your employees' mental health, by developing activities and resources that help alleviate stress, can create a sustainable, positive workplace.

Without effective mental health resources in place, it could cost your organization its best employees. Uncover 7 Tips to Keep Your Nonprofit Employees Mentally Sound to help foster an engaged workforce during these uncertain times.

 

Would you like access to more HR-specific articles, templates and checklists? Sign up for a FREE 60-Day UST HR Workplace Trial today! (Use priority code "2020HR-Content" to expedite your request).

August 13, 2020

UST Launches New Video – Simplify Your Nonprofit’s Recruitment & Onboarding Processes

For over three decades, UST has been providing nonprofits with HR solutions that help manage day-to-day workforce issues, ensure compliance, and maximize employee bandwidth. By offering essential tools such as the job description builder, customizable online employee training tracks, and onboarding checklist, UST helps nonprofits maximize productivity and increase employee engagement.

As part of UST’s ongoing efforts to strengthen and educate 501(c)(3) organizations, we’re excited to announce the recent launch of our newest short video—designed to provide a snapshot of UST’s cloud-based HR platform. About a minute long, this video highlights tools that allow nonprofit employers to navigate the many complex realms of human resource management with ease—including recruitment and employee training.

Check out our newest video today to discover how our virtual HR services can help streamline your nonprofit’s HR processes and simplify day-to-day tasks—so you can focus more time on what matters most: keeping your mission-driven initiatives moving forward.  

Test drive UST’s online HR platform today and explore some of these essential HR checklists and training solutions for yourself! Sign up for your FREE 60-Day HR Trial here!

July 29, 2020

2020 UST Nonprofit HR Toolkit

Here at UST we’ve put together our Top 10 Guides for 2020 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 2020 state and local minimum wage data and recordkeeping requirements, as well as a variety of checklists to ensure compliance. Plus, you can discover facts surrounding COVID-19 laws and the latest workplace protocol.

  • State and Local Minimum Wage
  • Federal Recordkeeping Requirements
  • ACA Employer Compliance Checklist
  • The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
  • COVID-19 Fact vs. Fiction
  • Employee Handbook Self-Audit
  • Involuntary Termination Checklist
  • New Employee Onboarding Checklist
  • Webinar Recording: Preparing for Re-Entry to the Workplace
  • UST Program Evaluation Form  

Still have questions? You can get a free 60-day trial of UST HR Workplace, powered by ThinkHR. This cloud-based HR platform offers a live expert hotline, 300+ online training and compliance courses, compensation tools, employee handbook builders and employee classification step-by-step guides. Set up your ThinkHR Trial today!

May 21, 2020

Five Ways to Offer Your 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 leaders 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 employees are in need of support.

Here’s some ways you can offer support to someone at work during this pandemic:

1)  Scheduling virtual meet-ups: 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: 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 those 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. 

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

September 24, 2019

Getting Ahead of Form 990

Nobody likes filing taxes or paying them for that matter but don’t let that put your nonprofit at risk. While your organization may be federally tax-exempt, you are still required to file Form 990 with the IRS. This is the only way the federal government can ensure exempt organizations are conducting business in a way that is consistent with their public responsibilities. It also ensures your compliance and evaluates how your nonprofit is doing financially while  allowing the public to see information about a nonprofit mission and programs.

The 990 provides a transparent glance into the organization and its accomplishments. Allowing the public to see, not only, the gross revenue generated but where the revenue came from. When individuals, donors or job seekers are trying to find out as much as possible about a nonprofit through their own research efforts, this is an excellent source of information since it serves as a tool to evaluate the best charities to support.

It’s important that you file and file on time. Your 990 is due by the 15th of the 5th month after your accounting period ends. For example, if your fiscal year ends on December 31st, your 990 would be due by May 15th of the following year. Which form you file depends on your gross receipts—you can determine which 990 form to file by visiting the IRS website to see which form category your nonprofit falls under. Take the time to complete this form and avoid losing your exempt status with the IRS—there is no appeal process. If you’re unsure of your status, check the IRS website and get back on track, you will thank yourself later.

Understanding the journey, planning ahead and being proactive, will save you time and make the filing process much easier.  Following the below guidelines can help with that preparation:

  • Review the audit requirements for your state. Be aware of requirements BEFORE you begin 990 prep.
  • Determine ahead of time if you will need to file an extension. If you know you have an upcoming audit, keep in mind that the earliest most audits are schedules is in March or April and can last up to six weeks or longer. If this timeframe falls outside of your Form 990 due date, file an extension with the IRS as early as possible.
  • Close your books. Your nonprofit has been doing this for some time now, regardless of whether or not you’ve been filing Form 990, so you undoubtedly already have a process in place for year-end accounting activities.
  • Gather your documentation. Review your 990 from the previous year to get an idea of what you will need for the current year, including any schedules. You can check the IRS website to confirm which schedules you will need to file.
  • Update any outdated non-financial information. Double check that your organization’s name, address, telephone number and board of directors list (names, titles and compensation) are current.
  • Maintain a timeline. Provide ample time for completing the required paperwork as well as time for your board to review and provide feedback. While a board review is not required, it is strongly encouraged.

Since 990 forms are public documents and widely available, nonprofits should be diligent about filing them out correctly and filing them on time. Remember, a nonprofit’s 990 provides valuable information that speaks directly to your organizations status so the extra time spent preparing will pay off in the end. Don’t think of it as another menial task on your list of things to do but rather consider how it can affect those researching who you are—ultimately impacting the communities you serve. 

March 27, 2019

​​​​​​​Work for Good eBook Download

Employing the third largest workforce with the third largest employee payroll, the nonprofit sector is quickly gaining momentum in the work arena. Work for Good recently released a new eBook, the 2019 Nonprofit Salary Report for California, based on results from an extensive survey of nonprofit professionals in the state. This eBook delivers comprehensive sector salary benchmarking based on nearly 10,000 positions at nonprofit organizations in the state of California. Those are impressive statistics and this report breaks down those numbers for you—helping in your quest for greater impact and organizational excellence. Download your copy today!

October 11, 2018

Creating a Unique Compensation Package

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 22, 2018

A Nonprofit Financial Check-Up

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

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

 

Some key takeaways from this report include:

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

 

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

May 31, 2018

We Need a Little More Communication Please

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

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

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

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

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

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