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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 10, 2020

UST Supports Nonprofits Who Fight for Social Justice & Equity

UST is deeply saddened by the series of disturbing and tragic events that have taken place over the last few weeks related to the violence and injustice toward the Black community—including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others. The resulting protests have created a long overdue flashpoint for awareness, action, and change. 

UST has supported the nonprofit community for over 35 years and we are proud of the impact that each of our members have in their communities. We know that communities that have nonprofit organizations established within experience less crime, such as murder, violent crime and crimes against property. Sharkey’s work also affirms some of the tenets of community policing: that neighborhoods are vital to policing themselves, and that they can address the complex roots of violence in ways that fall beyond traditional police work. Whether it is taking back the public parks, establishing mentorship programs for youth or implementing job training and employment opportunities, these all make a difference. But. That. Is. Not. Enough.

UST does not do this work directly but we support the organizations who do in their efforts, their ideals and their fight for more social justice and equity in communities across the nation. We are fortunate to have a strong board of Trustees who are all working in their own spaces for change. We think our current Board Chair, Karen Beavor, CEO of the Georgia Center for Nonprofits has expressed our sentiments exceptionally well. View her complete message here.

UST will continue to support the work our nonprofit members do to address these issues; we will listen, and will actively look for ways to be part of the change that is so desperately needed.

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 26, 2020

COVID-19 Fact vs. Fiction for Nonprofit Employers

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 coronarvirus outbreak a pandemic leaving nonprofit employers across the states scrambling to understand the impact on their business. Now that orders are being lifted and we prepare to re-enter the workplace it’s important to understand the do’s and don’ts of implementing new COVID-19 procedures within your organization.

Do you know whether employers are permitted to take employees’ temperatures and ask about symptoms? Or if employers should allow employees to work at the office if they have been exposed to COVID-19, but are not showing any symptoms?

Since it's often difficult to differentiate the credible information from the bogus, UST has compiled a COVID-19 Fact vs. Fiction handout for nonprofit leaders. Uncover the answers by downloading the COVID-19 Fact vs. Fiction Employer Handoutand discover other key COVID-19 facts as well as common misconceptions.

Ensure that Your Nonprofit Stays Compliant! Get a FREE 60-Day Trial of UST HR Workplace, powered by ThinkHR—a cloud-based platform that provides access to a live HR hotline, COVID-19 policy updates, thousands of documents and more. Request your free trial today at www.chooseust.org/HR-trial.

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!

May 07, 2020

COVID-19 Nonprofit Workforce Trends Report

In a recent nonprofit survey, UST uncovered how COVID-19 has affected 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, their employees and operational strategies.

With nearly 800 survey respondents—representing a wide variety of nonprofits from across the U.S.—this report highlights critical COVID-19 information, including:

  • How operations have been impacted as a result of COVID-19 containment efforts
  • Sector statistics on reduced work hours, suspended operations, threatened revenue and more
  • Trends surrounding the most utilized resources for navigating this crisis

This report will provide valuable insight on how nonprofit organizations are coping with the unprecedented challenges during this pandemic. Download your complimentary copy 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.

April 03, 2020

How to Manage Your Brand During a Global Emergency

While in the midst of a global emergency, the current COVID-19 pandemic, nonprofits are challenged with how to successfully continue managing their mission-driven brand. Going the extra mile to prepare your organization for handling such a feat, will help you and your team better tackle any challenges that arise.

This is an opportunity to align your messaging with what your community needs and/or might be seeking during this time. A crisis is temporary and taking the time to show your nonprofit in a new light by providing specific messaging can instill a sense of trust and value that will be long lasting. It’s important to maintain vigilance in protecting your staff and being an example of a model citizen by not participating in unsafe behavior. Above all else, nonprofits must remain diligent of their brand and visible by its community to ensure they come out of this stronger than before. Here are few objectives for your nonprofit to keep in mind:

  • Focus on developing timely content when creating new email campaigns that speak to the crisis at hand
  • Creating webinars that speak to the current crisis—webinars perform well and are sought after by those looking for information from organizations they trust
  • Creating a survey to push out to your membership—people are eager for information and are looking for results and data on their industry
  • Tailoring the tone of your messaging to use more relatable keywords, such as: empathy, community/unity, education, simplicity, reliable, and trustworthy

When it comes to collaboration in times of a crisis, you’ll have to get creative. These strategies shouldn’t complicate your current workflow but rather benefit your organization—having these tools in place will be very beneficial when a crisis is upon us. Taking your staff into consideration and how they’ll continue to operate is vital to prevent interruptions with current business tasks. For example, if your employees are required to work from home for any duration of time, what logistics and tools should you have in place to ensure everything runs smoothly?  Tools such as, GoToMeeting and Slack allow your team to stay connected with one another while still being able to conduct important meetings and to ensure your mission continues to move forward. With the access to technology, it can make it easy to work from anywhere.

In times of a global emergency, having a plan in place to manage your organization, brand and team through the crisis is just as important as the ability to remain flexible and creative.

March 26, 2020

UST Launches COVID-19 Resource Center

Here at UST, we understand the importance for nonprofit leaders to remain informed and prepared as the recent outbreak of the Coronavirus continues to impact the communities you serve. Nonprofit organizations nationwide have had to react quickly to a rapidly evolving crisis and change their standard business practices to maintain critical operations.

Like so many of you, we have transitioned to remote work and are continuously gathering resources to stay on top of the quickly evolving legislative developments designed to mitigate the economic fallout triggered by the public health response. We’ve also been in close contact with our strategic partners nationwide to ensure that the unique needs of nonprofit employers are being prioritized by our elected representatives during this time.

In an effort to help keep nonprofits abreast of evolving information, we’ve created a dedicated COVID Resources Webpage on our website, which we’ll continuously update,  provides:

  • General considerations related to COVID-connected workforce reductions
  • Links to the most current state-specific unemployment regulation assessments available from our claims administration partner, Equifax Workforce Solutions
  • Language you can share with your elected representatives to support nonprofit employer advocacy efforts
  • A continuously updated list of frequently asked questions, driven by our members’ feedback

We’ll continuously be updating this page so please check back regularly and bookmark the page above for easy reference. UST has been supporting nonprofit employers for over 35 years and understand the value of being informed during times of uncertainty and challenge. Please know our thoughts are with all who have been impacted by the recent outbreak of COVID-19 and we’re here to answer any questions you may have.

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 20, 2020

Five Steps to Achieve Social Media Capital for Your Nonprofit

 

Social media continues to prove to be an essential part of a nonprofit’s marketing strategy. A key benefit of social media is that it offers new forms of communication and the ability to engage with your organization’s stakeholders. Another benefit that can go unnoticed, but is a crucial and valuable resource is social media capital. Social media capital is a particular form of social capital that is accrued through an organization’s social media network. Nonprofits can look at social media capital as being an immediate outcome derived from their social media efforts, and as a resource that can be converted or used toward strategic organizational outcomes.

Social media capital is built around interests or causes rather than institutions, and this is where nonprofits have the upper hand over other types of organizations. Nonprofits have the opportunity to integrate their missions into their social media presence and strategy to take advantage of the capital that comes with advocacy and awareness efforts. Plus, any public events that relate to a nonprofit’s mission will likely be seen in the media and nonprofits can take advantage of this opportunity for exposure—building their online presence.

To dive deeper into social media capital, highlight its characteristics, and how nonprofits should be intentional when building out their strategy, here are five steps your nonprofit can take to get a better grasp on the benefits of social media capital:

1) Utilize resources and target audience strategy: In order to get your social media up and running you need resources—time, money, and staff. Unfortunately, these commitments are likely to be overlooked by nonprofit managers and passed off to another staff member to handle. Next, is your strategy—what is your organization’s communications role and what audience are you looking to target? The organization needs to develop a plan that shows a clear lay out of desired outcomes, defines the target audience, and communication efforts.

2) Strengthen connections and messaging on social media: To acquire social media capital, you need to utilize two essential tools; making connections and responding to messages in a timely manner. Connections are viewed as relationship building—these connections can be made through organization’s friending and/or following other users. This action shows your nonprofit’s interest in engaging with other users, in turn, creating an online community. Messaging is designed to provide content to your target audience and can be curated to meet the needs of the community you’re looking to reach and engage. And, can be done through any social channel (e.g., YouTube, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).

3) Gain social media capital: This is the step where your organization should expect to see social media capital—these are the social resources in an organization’s social media network that can be used to achieve organizational outcomes. In order to attain any meaningful organizational outcome through social media activities, your organization must first obtain social media capital.

4) Turn your social media capital into organization resources: This is the step when you turn your followers into customers—converting social media capital into an organizational resource. For example, your organization asks followers to donate to a cause and it results into a success, this is social media capital converting into an organizational/social resource, i.e., financial capital.

5) Incorporate social media capital into your strategy: Nonprofits should look at social media capital the same way they look at financial capital. Financial capital is considered a convertible resource and needs both short-term and long-term planning. Similarly, social media capital is fluid and requires a thoughtful strategy to maximize its support of both short-term and long-term goals.

Social media capital is generated differently and more simply than capital accumulated offline. Social media capital is assembled on messages, connections, and having a trusted role in social networks where you want to start conversations. This can help convert capital into other resources or produce key organizational outcomes.

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 30, 2020

UST Debuts New Animated Video - HR & Unemployment Workforce Solutions for Nonprofits

 

For over three decades, UST has been providing nonprofits with workforce solutions that help manage unemployment funding, ensure compliance, and maximize employee bandwidth. By offering cost-effective services, reliable protection and significant savings, UST allows nonprofits nationwide to save valuable time and money.

As part of UST’s ongoing efforts to educate nonprofits we recently released our newest animated short video designed to provide a holistic overview of UST. About a minute long, this video reveals how nonprofit employers can streamline their day-to-day processes with simplified programs and dedicated support—including HR consultants, on-demand training modules, unemployment claims representatives, and career transition services.

UST already helps more than 2,200 participating nonprofits make the most of their resources to achieve their mission-driven initiatives. And, just last year, identified $2,707,750 in potential unemployment cost savings for 103 eligible nonprofit organizations. Watch the video today to discover how UST can benefit your nonprofit, your employees and the communities you serve.

For access to nonprofit specific how-to-guides, checklists and resources, sign up for UST’s monthly eNews today!

January 29, 2020

Five Obstacles Marketers Encounter in the Nonprofit Sector

When marketing in the nonprofit sector, it can be a difficult road to navigate. With more than a million nonprofit organizations registered in the U.S., it can be challenging to earn the trust and support needed from donors to run a successful nonprofit. From grassroots groups to national organizations, local nonprofit marketing brings its own unique set of challenges. Even national nonprofits often struggle to implement cohesive campaigns across their many locations.

Here are five of the biggest obstacles nonprofit markers have to face on a daily basis:

1) Consistent Messaging: More often than not, nonprofits are faced with bandwidth restraints making it difficult to develop specific messaging that speaks to different marketing channels and constituents.

2) Communicating on a Personal Level: Since most nonprofits suffer from having a small team or budget restraints, marketers rely heavily on the success of email communications to their membership and supporters. While this form of communication can result in a positive response, it lacks personalization. The use of social media can be a great way to connect with your donors on a more personal level—allowing for more one-to-one communication.

3) Using Key Performance Indicators: Measuring success of marketing efforts is an area some nonprofit marketers lack expertise in or the time to devote to capturing this data. Marketing teams that have been able to incorporate the task of measuring their efforts, have more insight into performance and the ability to make data-driven decisions when creating an annual marketing plan.

4) Communication Across all Teams: In order for nonprofit marketers to gather accurate data and segment prospect lists, they have to collaborate with other departments and this can be a difficult task for some organizations. Passing information around the organization can lead to some restrictions or even tension amongst departments–competing for budget increases and donor attribution.

5) Dealing with Budget Restrictions: Nonprofit marketers deal with challenges from all directions, especially when it comes to budget restraints.  Many nonprofits face challenges in reaching their marketing and engagement goals and this is primarily due to budgetary constraints. This is a consistent theme across most organizations, regardless of size or type of nonprofit.

With the needs of nonprofit communities constantly changing, we have to remember that the marketing strategies should change with them. To gain continual support, nonprofits need to keep consistent communication with donors, volunteers, and employees. They should attend council meetings, fundraisers, and other events to gain exposure and one-on-one face time with those they hope to serve.

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.

December 10, 2019

Winter is Upon Us - Prepare your Nonprofit Now

It’s that time of year again when we can expect to experience some inclement weather conditions across the states. When severe weather interferes with the day-to-day operations of your nonprofit, having a plan in place for unexpected barriers to your workflow can help to keep your organization productive and or reestablish business operations sooner than later if you are forced to shut down.

Severe weather increases the risk of power outages—knocking out heat, power and communication services—and often for extended periods. Many employers find themselves dealing with a number of weather related inconveniences they hadn’t even considered until it happens to them. While there are no federal or state laws that define how a company should handle such things as notifying employees of office closures or how to handle pay for missed workdays, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be a priority.

By taking a proactive approach now, you can avoid the headache later—scrambling to figure out what to do and where even to begin. You can start by creating a plan that includes policies for what to do before, during and after emergencies—ensuring that everyone in the organization has a role and understanding of the policies once finalized.

Below are some tips to help ensure your nonprofit and its employees are prepared:

  • Outline an emergency communication plan
  • Update your evacuation plan and practice it
  • Where possible set up remote access to desktops for use during forced office closures
  • Sign up for local notifications and updates from the National Weather Service (NWS)
  • Understand what disasters could possibly affect your area
  • Learn how to help before help arrives
  • Create an emergency supply cabinet with first-aid kits and non-perishable food
  • Work with other organizations in your community to strengthen preparedness
  • Hold a preparedness discussion with your employees to ensure everyone understands the procedures and how to stay informed

Regardless of what weather incident you may experience, having a solid preparedness plan in place will help ensure your employees know what to expect and aid in keeping everyone informed. There are dozens of websites dedicated to helping businesses create successful preparedness plans so just remember—a little preparation now will go a long way should your nonprofit come face-to-face with Mother Nature.

November 15, 2019

How to Create Your Nonprofit's Story

In our world of online communication, nonprofits and charities are able to share and show how their organization is making a significant impact on the communities they serve through inspiring stories. This can be a challenging and overwhelming task for nonprofit professionals—they feel the pressure to create inspiring, unique and emotional stories that will set them apart from other nonprofits.

In the beginning stages of telling your nonprofit’s story, you should start by telling your organization’s “origin story.” This gives you an opportunity to explain how your nonprofit came to exist. Where and when did the idea of your nonprofit begin? How did you get to where you are today? Being able to emphatically and confidently tell your origin story will make a significant impact when connecting with your donors and volunteers.

Great storytelling is the best way to capture the attention, as well as the hearts and minds, of your supporters. While providing data on how a charity has impacted a community can be beneficial, people tend to give more when presented with a heartfelt story rather than data. Stories will help you express your mission to people who may know nothing about you or your cause. Statistics may offer some shock value, but statistics rarely get people to take action and donate to your cause.

If you and your nonprofit organization are doing things no one else is doing, it’s your job to make people aware by sharing your story. Tell your story in such a way that people won’t be able to forget it. Start by sharing how the community looked before your organization started and what the world looked like at the time. Then, touch on how the world looks now after you started this nonprofit journey. Maybe even share an example of how your nonprofit has positively impacted the community to help build your story. Using these types of examples makes your nonprofit more relatable—it allows for a more real connection and even empathy.

Empathy is also incredibly important when telling your organization’s story—there should be a moment when people see themselves or someone they know within your story. The more people can relate to your mission and your story to their own lives, the more likely they will be willing to engage and offer support to your organization.

November 14, 2019

[Webinar Recording] Accounting for Nonprofit Grants and Contributions

Last year, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) released Accounting Standards Update (ASU) 2018-08, which clarifies the accounting guidelines for contributions received and contributions made—focusing on the grants and contracts awarded by the government and other entities to nonprofit organizations.

You can now listen to the webinar on-demand to learn how to determine if an asset received should be accounting as a contribution or as revenue from customers.

This on-demand webinar will explore how to:

  • Distinguish between reciprocal (exchange) versus nonreciprocal (contribution) transactions.
  • Determine whether a contribution is conditional.
  • Dictate when these amendments should be applied.
  • Decipher the three scenarios that illustrate the possible differences that may affect how the standard will impact your organization.

This webinar is part of UST’s efforts to educate the nonprofit sector. For more learning opportunities, tips and legal updates just for nonprofits, sign up for our monthly e-News today!

October 29, 2019

[Webinar Recording] Trends and Forecasts for Charitable Giving

Giving in the U.S. in 2020 will be different in many ways than previously—mainly because of campaigns, economic conditions, and tax law implications. Don't miss this deep dive into the trends and forecasts of giving in the United States presented by Melissa S. Brown, Principal of Melissa S. Brown & Associates.

This on-demand webinar shares insights into how tracking these trends can help identify future opportunities as well as insights into:

  • 2018 "Giving Pie"
  • Multi-Year trends to help identify what donor types give and where
  • Methods to identify donors using DAFs or Foundations for Giving
  • Tools to inspire more gifts from donor-advised funds, required minimum distributions, and other tax-advantaged giving

For access to more learning opportunities, tips and legal updates just for nonprofits, sign up for our monthly eNews today!

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.

October 08, 2019

How an Executive Director Becomes a Financial Leader

What is an executive director? An executive director is “responsible for overseeing the administration, the program and the strategic plan of a nonprofit organization. Other key duties may include fundraising, marketing, community outreach, and this position reports directly to the board of directors.” As we all know, an executive director is required to wear many hats and needs to wear them all equally. Leadership styles have a huge impact on how well an executive director can carry out their duties—committed executive directors can set themselves apart when they’re able to evaluate their own leadership styles and seek input from others.

In this role, you’re tasked with the responsibility of both leadership and management and each duty requires a distinct skill level in order to be fulfilled properly. Leaders offer visionary qualities that can provide an overall scope to the organization’s specific problems and future planning. They tend to be a charismatic communicator and have the ability to motivate the team in anticipation of achieving future goals for the organization.  Managers are very hands on—they make sure things get done. Not only do they manage people but they also manage property and assets helping to fulfill the goals that management and the board of directors have set before them. They are the busy bees of the organization, who control, organize and monitor day-to-day activities of the operation. Think of an executive director of a nonprofit organization as being the “jack of all trades”.  

Along with managing and overseeing everyday tasks, an executive director is responsible for monitoring the finances for an organization—they oversee the development and on-going maintenance of the business model. This ensures the organization produces exceptional mission impact and sustains financial health. To make sure this is done successfully, the executive director has to be aware of the necessary business concepts.

Here are a few key business principles that could help guide financial leadership practice for your nonprofit:

1) Remain high-level and thoughtful with your board.

2) Make sure you’re managing your risks the right way.

3) Be sure to plan for your nonprofit’s reserves.

Executive directors learn that leading a nonprofit requires a constant balancing of current needs, external demands, and planning for the future. Financial leadership is crucial to the role and can not be fully delegated. Certain principles can help executive directors become accustom to the demands of the changing environment and maintain the balance needed for the organization.

September 27, 2019

[Webinar Recording] Fundraising Registration 101

Thousands of nonprofits have registered with their states in order to legally solicit donations... do you know what state requirements extend to your organization?

Presented by Affinity Fundraising Registration and hosted by Maia Lee, President of Relations, this on-demand webinar explains the essentials of fundraising registration and what you must do to ensure that you’re registered before filing your next Form 990. With over a decade in nonprofit marketing and development experience, Maia understands the challenges nonprofits face in fulfilling their missions with limited resources and is committed to educating nonprofits about charitable solicitation registration requirements.

 

You’ll learn crucial details needed to raise funds legally in any state with key information surrounding possible exemptions and how you may be subject to fines and penalties.  

Watch the webinar recording today!    

Want access to more learning opportunities, tips and legal updates just for nonprofits, sign up for our monthly eNews today!

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.