August 28, 2014

HR Question: Terminating Employees for Past Mistakes

Q: Can an employer terminate an employee for making a costly error years ago that has just been discovered?

A: This answer is based upon the fact that there is no specific employment contract in place that outlines specific reasons for termination of employment and that the employer has an employment-at-will policy in place that provides for termination at will based upon the employer's discretion.

From the detailed description of the situation, this employer does have an internal disciplinary procedure in place that specifies termination of employment for performance. This error was made years ago and could have been detected if the employee had been conducting annual audits of the file, which was not done, compounding the error.

Although employers can terminate employment "at will", there should always be a legitimate business reason for the termination that is well documented, nondiscriminatory and carefully considered in order to reduce the employer risk of liability from wrongful termination suits.

The employer should consider the following prior to making the final decision:
  • Is this employee in a protected class (race, gender, age, disability) where s/he might believe that s/he is being targeted because of that class?
  • Was the process for auditing and correcting the errors documented and was this employee trained to conduct the audit?
  • Is this a one-off issue with the employee or have there been other instances of performance concerns? If so, have those concerns been brought to the employee's attention and was s/he given the opportunity to correct the performance deficiencies?
  • Is there anything that the employee's manager or senior management missed that could have prevented this situation?
  • Has this situation ever happened before with another employee? If so, how was it handled?
  • If an audit of other customer files took place today, could there be this same type of error made by other employees (pointing to an overall training or supervision issue)?

If the employer believes that the situation warrants termination of employment because it is well-documented, the employee has been properly trained, the supervision was adequate, and that this is a unique situation, then a termination is allowed, but we recommend confirming the decision with legal counsel prior to the termination.

Question and Answer provided by ThinkHR. Learn more about how your nonprofit can gain access to their expert HR staff here.
August 26, 2014

Think You’re Ready to Hire More Employees? Read This First.

Your organization has been doing really well lately, and you’re looking to create new positions and hire new employees to help fulfill your mission. You’ve written the job descriptions, gotten approval from all of the relevant stakeholders and are ready to begin recruitment.

But slow down just a minute. Are you sure your organization is ready to hire more employees?

Although only your organization can determine if you’re actually ready to hire new employees, Inc. recommends answering the following questions about your organization, where you want it to go, and what is happening now.

What kind of organizational structure do you want?

Do you want your organization to grow extensively? Are you pretty happy with the size it is now, but unable to meet the demands of your mission with your current staff, or are you hoping to grow organically whenever the need arises?

Will you be able to slow down growth if you need to?

Not all organizations have significant control over how much growth they will experience in any given time. For instance, if your organization helps provide disaster relief to a specific area and the area suddenly experiences a large-scale disaster, your response must be immediate and decisive. Or, if your organization helps animals and takes part in a multi-county animal seizure, you must be able to provide shelter and care for all of the animals involved for the foreseeable future.

But if your organization works to help a select group of impoverished students succeed, it’s reasonable to expect that there will not be an unmanageable influx of students to your program in any given year.

Do you really need help?

Do any of your employees have extra time throughout their week or month that can be used to address some of the needs that you’d like to hire new employees for? If so, can these employees be trained to perform some of the needed tasks?

While it might not fully address your needs, it would cut down on organizational waste and potentially allow for a part-time position to be created in lieu of the more expensive full-time position.

Are you fully prepared to recruit, hire, and train more employees?

Our ThinkHR resources and your UST Customer Service Representative can help you ensure your organization is best positioned to do all three without exposing you to excess liability in the future.

Not yet a member? Learn more about the UST program here.
August 22, 2014

UST Infographic: How Nonprofits Are Saving Millions With UST

Founded by nonprofits for nonprofits, the Unemployment Services Trust (UST) aims to help 501(c)(3) organizations manage their unemployment claims and lower their HR costs—providing more funds to devote to their missions.

By offering access to an expert HR hotline, over 200 employee training courses, and a dedicated claims representative, UST helped its members uphold HR best practices, while remaining compliant with state laws. Last year, UST members saved more than $32 million in mitigated claims costs and won over 80% of their claims protests.

With a 96% recommendation rate, UST’s membership base and overall impact within the nonprofit sector continues to grow. Check out the full infographic for the full list of last year’s noteworthy accomplishments:

August 20, 2014

Is Your Nonprofit Falling Prey to These 5 Common Myths?

The Unemployment Services Trust recently released its newest whitepaper, “The 5 Myths That Are Increasing Your Nonprofit’s HR Costs” – which explains how to identify and debunk these costly myths at your organization.

For a limited time, you can download the whitepaper for free and find out:
  1. Which myths might be hurting your organization
  2. How you can proactively reduce HR costs
  3. Whether you are overpaying for unemployment claims

Learn the secrets of other nonprofit executives and HR staff who have reduced their human resource and unemployment claims costs. Download your complimentary copy of 5 Myths That Are Increasing Your Nonprofit’s HR Costs today.

By providing exclusive access to such cost saving resources, UST aims to educate 501(c)(3) organizations on the latest HR best practices and compliance laws—living up to its mission of “Saving money for nonprofits in order to advance their missions.”

Fill out a complimentary Savings Evaluation to find out if you can save with UST.
August 19, 2014

HR Question: Putting the Supervisor’s Name in an Offer Letter

Q: Is there a reason to have a supervisor’s name in an offer letter? In other words, is an offer letter that only lists a new hire’s supervisor as a title acceptable?


A: There is no definite reason to have a supervisor's name on an offer letter or any requirement to have the title on the document either.


The intent of the offer letter is to welcome the new hire and to ensure that the new hire has all of the information s/he will need regarding the terms and conditions of employment. If, in your environment, putting the supervisor's name on the document does not make sense, then feel free to leave it off the document.


We do recommend, however, that you do include a contact person that the new employee can go to for questions about the position or for any assistance the new employee may need.


Question and Answer provided by ThinkHR. Learn more about how your nonprofit can gain access to their expert HR staff here.

August 14, 2014

How an Effective Hiring Team can Recruit Top-Notch Employees

The hiring process can be daunting, time-consuming, and burdensome. For nonprofits especially, hiring the best-fit employee the first time around is vital. Often working with a limited budget and smaller staff size, nonprofit organizations must find a candidate that can quickly adapt and effectively work towards mission advancement objectives.

But how do you find the right employee? Simple. Recruit a hiring team internally before recruiting any potential staff.

The hiring team you assemble should be your recruitment backbone—helping you create the hiring timeline, outline specific role responsibilities, and conduct interviews.

Here are 6 tips to keep in mind when creating and working with your recruitment team:
  1. Select relevant team members—Pick people who have past experience with the incoming employee’s job role, as well as those who will be working with them directly. In general, the larger the organization, the more hiring team members you’ll need.
  2. Assign individual responsibilities—Decide which members are in charge of drafting the job description, advertising the job opening, organizing resumes, interviewing, making the final decision, etc.
  3. Identify current strengths and weaknesses—As a team, identify what your organization’s strategic goals are. What are your employees doing right? Where is there room for improvement?
  4. Decide what skills will address knowledge gaps—Once your hiring team decides what skill gaps exist within your nonprofit, list the specific tasks the new hire will be responsible for. Being honest about your nonprofit’s needs will make it easier when it’s time to write the job description/requirements.
  5. Create a timeline—Create a detailed schedule that maps out your entire hiring process. This should give deadlines for the job description, job promotional efforts, candidate interviews, and the final decision.
  6. Encourage open communication—Maintaining an open dialogue with your recruiting staff will not only build trust, but also lower the risk of making the wrong hiring decision. Listening to both positive and negative feedback can only strengthen future hiring endeavors.

Having the support of a dedicated hiring team can help speed up the hiring process, while increasing efficiency. Knowing when and how to engage your hiring staff can help you identify the best possible candidate for any potential position—giving your nonprofit the edge it needs accomplish mission objectives.

Learn more about how to select and utilize your recruitment team here.
August 11, 2014

HR Question: Implementing a Mandatory Retirement Age

Q: Can we implement a mandatory retirement age? If so, can we make a case-by-case exception to that?

A: Unless your business handles public safety concerns, we would encourage you to very carefully consider implementing mandatory retirement age policies, and certainly NOT to do it on a case-by-case basis.

The reason is that on a federal level, company wide mandatory retirement age policies violate the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), except in limited circumstances. The ADEA, which applies to organizations with 20 or more employees, protects employees age 40 and older from discrimination based on their age. Prior to 1986 the age discrimination law did not protect employees over the age of 70 in the workplace, but due to the 1986 amendment to the Act, this age cap was removed. As a result, all employees over 40 years old generally are covered by the ADEA. Since this change, companies are no longer able to enforce a mandatory retirement age for all employees.

There is one exception under the ADEA (outside of bona fide reasons for retirement, such as public safety officers, etc). That exception is company executives in a bona fide executive or higher policy-making position. For example, federal law does allow mandatory retirement for a company CEO at age 65 or older under two conditions:
  • If the employee has worked in this bona fide executive position for at least two years prior to the retirement date.
  • If the individual is immediately awarded annual retirement benefits valued at $44,000 or more.

If the reason you are asking the question is because you are concerned with how you deal with the growing number of older workers and the potential for declining performance in old age, the government expects us not to assume that all employees of a certain age are unable to perform their jobs or will be less productive for the organization.

But if an older worker is not performing at the level of expectation, this is a performance issue that should be addressed in accordance with your company's policies and practices as a performance issue, not an age issue. (And this should be done on a case-by-case basis).

Allow the employee the opportunity to improve through training and coaching; do not assume the older employee will not or cannot learn and adapt to change.

The way many employers are helping their older workers while making room for their younger employees is through the use of voluntary retirement programs. These programs offer all employees of a certain age within the organization a retirement package above and beyond other guaranteed retirement benefits. Voluntary retirement packages do not violate the ADEA because they provide an option (not a mandate) for the older worker to receive more (not fewer) benefits upon retirement than someone retiring or leaving the company at a younger age.

We would encourage you to work with your legal counsel to discuss other relevant regulations and requirements of voluntary retirement programs.

Question and Answer provided by ThinkHR. Learn more about how your nonprofit can gain access to their expert HR staff here.
August 08, 2014

Congratulations to the Nonprofits Honored as a Part of The Nonprofit Times Power & Influence Top 50

The 17th annual catalog of The Nonprofit Times Power & Influence Top 50 shows an increased emphasis on the effective implementation of a more civil society. Those elected for the honor “illustrates the power of people pushing society for equal access and opportunity…[as] recently it seems that the insistence for inclusion has need ratcheting up and sector leaders have responded.”

Everyone at UST wou


ld like to extend our heartfelt congratulations to those included. We’d also like to thank all of the organizations that we work with for continuing to fight the good fight and make a difference for those around them.

See the full list of innovators being recognized by this years’ Power & Influence Top 50 here.


August 07, 2014

Spotlight on New Jersey: Reducing Improper Payments and Unemployment Benefit Collection Fraud

For the better part of the past decade, improper and fraudulent unemployment insurance collections have accounted for about 10 percent of all unemployment benefits paid to jobless workers across the U.S. During the most recent Recession, it became abundantly clear why states must cut down on SUI (state unemployment insurance) fraud.

Unfortunately, for many states, the realization came a little too late.

During the height of the Recession, almost 40 states borrowed a combined $50 billion from the Federal Unemployment Trust Administration (FUTA) to continue providing jobless benefits. This much debt required many states to make long-term changes to their unemployment systems by either charging penalties or fees to businesses or by cutting jobless benefits. Many made historic cuts to the number of weeks of aid available, but some—like New Jersey which racked up more than $1.5 billion in debt—took a long, hard look at the administration of their trust.

In New Jersey that long, hard look at the administration of their unemployment trust fund resulted in some spectacular results. Over the past four years New Jersey has identified more than 300,000 people who tried to wrongly collect benefits through identity theft, failure to report a new job, schemes, and honest mistakes. Also:
  • The state has stopped borrowing from the federal government to cover its unemployment benefit costs
  • Their trust fund is once again considered solvent
  • They were able to extend a tax cut to New Jersey businesses because of the trust fund’s solvency
  • Just $376 million in debt remains from the height of their borrowing

But what did New Jersey do that set them on the path to successfully rebuild their unemployment trust fund?

They updated their system.

Namely, they began using a strategy referred to as ‘identity proofing.’ With the help of LexisNexis, the state of New Jersey requires applicants to verify a wide range of personal information through a quiz on the state labor department’s website. The questions are specifically developed to be ones that the individual who owns an identity could accurately answer.

Then, using the billions of public records that LexisNexis collects, the answers—which range from what kind of car an applicant has, to who lives at their address—help weed out potential frauds.

Less than a year-and-a-half into the effort, more than $4.4 million in improper payments have already been stopped, and almost 650 instances of identity theft have been avoided.

Want to know how well your state is catching improper payments? The U.S. Department of Labor provides this state-by-state breakdown for 2013.

Read more about how New Jersey is fighting improper payments and unemployment fraud here.
August 06, 2014

HR Question: HR Professional and Personal Liability

Q: Can you provide me with some information about how I might be held personally liable for employment law violations, as a company HR professional?

A: In order to reduce the risk of being held personally liable under either a federal or state statute, it is important for HR processionals to:
  • Acknowledge that risk exists
  • Determine the scope of the potential risk
  • Identify ways to mitigate risk and implement them

In order to understand and identify potential risks, HR professionals should have a good grasp of applicable employment law, along with an understanding of their business and the ability to maintain an ethical approach. Additionally, it is critical that HR professionals feel comfortable pushing back on the company when appropriate and vocalizing when something is not right, either legally or from a company values or culture perspective.

Federal Liability

Some of the areas where an HR professional may have exposure to personal liability are:
  • Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) – an individual can be held liable if they exercised sufficient degree of authority over an employee’s terms and conditions of employment. Typically this would more likely be a supervisor but it is possible for an HR professional to be held accountable as well if there is documented proof of awareness and no action was taken.
  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) – Interference with an employee’s ability to exercise their rights under the FMLA may result in individual liability.
  • Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) – HR professionals may be held liable for a breach of fiduciary duty if the plan is not correctly administered and an employee is improperly denied an ERISA benefit.
  • Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) – HR professionals can be held liable as plan administrators for not correctly notifying employees or qualified beneficiaries of their COBRA rights.
  • Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) – An HR professional may be liable for completing an I-9 form incorrectly or for knowingly hiring an unauthorized worker.
  • Additional acts protecting individuals from discrimination based on age, ethnicity, race, etc.

State Liability

HR professionals may have exposure to liability under a number of state or common law statutes ranging from assault, defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, ignored harassment or discrimination, and more.

It is not unusual for a disgruntled employee suing an employer to seek individual liability in order to increase their chances of a settlement. Most liability insurance policies don’t cover employment law violations so it is not unusual for companies to add additional employment practice liability insurance (EPLI) to address these situations. You should determine whether your employer has such a policy and if your position and self are protected under stated company plans.

The best way for HR professionals to avoid personal liability is to:
  • Follow the law consistently.
  • Follow the company practices and policies equitably and consistently.
  • Avoid legal or ethically questionable shortcuts.
  • Adhere to a professional code of ethics.
  • Speak up when something doesn’t appear right.

Question and Answer provided by ThinkHR. Learn more about how your nonprofit can gain access to their expert HR staff here.
August 05, 2014

How to Get Your Employees on Board with Organizational Change

Discomfort; insecurity; apprehension; fear. These are just a handful of emotions people experience when plans for organizational change surface in the workplace. The idea of change tends to scare people because they will be forced to step outside of their comfort zones and embrace the unknown.

Altering such negative perceptions surrounding change requires a heavy emphasis on internal solidarity. And since the only way to effectively maintain change is through widespread support from your staff, learning how to acknowledge and address employee feedback is key. Specifically for nonprofits, internal collaboration is vital when it comes finding new ways to advance one’s mission.

Follow these 5 easy steps to create sustainable changes within your nonprofit:
  1. Provide the facts and research—Explain what changes you are looking to achieve, and why. Providing the reasons behind your decisions will help your employees view each change as a necessity. In addition, offering the chance to provide feedback will also give your employees a greater sense of control.
  2. Spend extra time educating the leadership team—Because your staff leaders are in charge of teaching and supporting their employees, it’s important to make sure they understand the logic behind every change that is being implemented.
  3. Move from generalizations to specifics—The ease that comes with everyday tasks can make it difficult to alter employees’ common behaviors. Identifying your employees’ shared behaviors and habits will help you focus on what needs to change within the company culture as a whole.
  4. Embrace the “slow but steady” mentality—In order to create lasting change, recognize that your employees are experiencing a great deal of uncertainty. Allowing your employees to slowly modify their behaviors can help them more readily adjust to ongoing changes.
  5. Share the positive results with everyone—Positive reinforcement is always a great way to preserve change. When they see immediate wins and profit as a direct result of their changes, your employees are likely to stay committed to their changed behaviors.

Change is what keeps nonprofits moving forward. Taking the time to foster cooperation amongst your employees is the easiest way to create lasting change—which provides ongoing opportunity for organizational growth within the nonprofit sector.

Learn more about how to gain employee support for organizational change here.
August 04, 2014

4 Things Your Nonprofit Must Know About Unemployment Insurance

As an unemployment tax alternative for nonprofit organizations, UST fields a wide variety of questions about unemployment claims and unemployment tax options from members and non-members alike. Stemming from this, we have compiled a list of the top 4 things that every nonprofit must know about their unemployment insurance taxes to ensure that the organization is not wasting money.
What is the Unemployment Tax? And how does the unemployment insurance program work?

The Department of Labor (DOL) provides a short overview of the program on their website, and summarizes it by saying: "Unemployment Insurance is a federal-state program jointly financed through Federal and state employer payroll taxes. Generally, employers must pay both state and Federal unemployment taxes...However, some state laws differ from the Federal law and employers should contact their state workforce organizations to learn the exact requirements."

The program itself works to provide jobless workers who have lost their job through no fault of their own with temporary, partial wages while they search for a new position. For more information on how unemployment insurance works, read our more complete overview on the state program.

Is Your Nonprofit Liable?

501(c)(3) nonprofits are exempt from federal unemployment taxes, but may be liable for state contributions if they meet something called the “4 for 20″ provision. This provision is triggered when four or more individuals are employed on the same day for 20 weeks in a calendar year, though not necessarily for consecutive weeks. It is important to note that who is considered “employed” for these purposes is not always straightforward – see Independent Contractors below.

Why Independent Contractors May Still Be Considered Employees

There are different rules and tests used by government organizations to determine independent contractor status, because different organizations are responsible for separate aspects of law. For the purposes of unemployment insurance, the Department of Labor uses something called the “ABC test”, which makes it sound simple, but is more complicated when applied to real situations.

The ABC Test establishes criteria that an work relationship must meet in order to for the services of that individual to not be considered employment. The three parts of the ABC Test relate to employer control/direction of the worker, place(s) of business or courses of business, and proof that the worker is independently established in the trade. A nonprofit may have to pay unemployment taxes even if the IRS or their state revenue services determine that, for income tax purposes, individuals may be independent contractors.

Cost-Saving Alternatives

The Unemployment Services Trust (UST) provides an alternative to paying into the state unemployment tax system, and can be a cost-saving option for nonprofits with more than 10 employees. Through UST, organizations directly reimburse the state only for the claims of their former employees, rather than paying the state unemployment insurance tax which covers all employers throughout the states.

And, because keeping unemployment costs low is vital to so many organizations across the U.S., we've added state-by-state information for taxable wage bases from the Department of Labor so you can see where your organization falls on the tax scale.

We encourage nonprofits to be proactive in learning what their options are, and what types of unemployment tax alternatives best suit their needs. Complete a complimentary Savings Evaluation to see if your organization could save money on its unemployment costs.
  This post does not constitute official or legal advice. A version of this article originally appeared on by Molly O'Connell.
July 25, 2014

HR Question: Monitoring Conflict Between Employees


Q: When an employee has reported another employee to the police for a non-work-related activity, what is the employer’s liability?

A: If the employee in question has not done anything illegal or against company policy in the workplace, the employer is not required to take any action. However, the concern may be that the workplace may become a charged environment between these two employees.

The employer should monitor the environment at work, focusing on job performance and productivity, while remaining aware of the possibility of existing conflict between the two employees that may create a hostile environment or a distraction for those working nearby.

If either individual creates a conflict in the workplace, the employer should address it immediately and counsel the offender. Written documentation of any event should occur.

An employee whose behavior is questionable outside of the workplace may not be disciplined or singled out by the employer. However, the employer has the responsibility to ensure that no employee is subjected to a hostile work environment and will want to be aware of any conflict amongst the individuals. Additionally, no action should occur until such time as an employee is convicted of any alleged complaint, nor should any perceived act of retaliation exist.

Question and Answer provided by ThinkHR. Learn more about how your nonprofit can gain access to their expert HR staff here.
July 24, 2014

Budget Today, Succeed Tomorrow

Nonprofits are constantly looking for new ways to develop and achieve their mission-driven objectives. Unfortunately for smaller organizations, big aspirations aren’t generally matched by a big budget. So how can nonprofits manage financial restraints while also maximizing organizational sustainability?

Taking the time to plan out one’s budget, on a more consistent basis, can help an organization better identify, prioritize, and build towards their goals. To create an effective budget, follow these 6 simple steps:
  1. Build a Budget Committee—Committee members should be familiar with budget and goal history, as well as future objectives. The committee often includes the Board Treasurer, CFO, Executive Director, and other finance-oriented positions.
  2. Create Deadlines—Pinpoint the deadline for final approval, as well as mini-deadlines leading up to it. Delegate tasks to each committee member to ensure that everything is accomplished in an efficient manner
  3. Analyze Last Year’s Budget Do’s and Don’ts—Look for patterns in past budget fluctuations and identify potentially unrealistic goals. Which budget items were allocated too much/too little money? How have goal priorities shifted this year?
  4. Draft a Budget Structure and Timeline— Map out target goal dates for each objective, as well as their individually estimated costs. Don’t forget to include a reserve for miscellaneous expenses and potential emergencies.
  5. Present Budget to the Board—Because the Board often must approve the final budget, allow additional time for feedback and questions.
  6. Review Throughout the Year—After everything is finalized, continue to track your budget’s progress throughout the year. Comparing the estimated costs with your actual expenses will help determine the overall soundness of your budget.

In order to grow within the nonprofit sector, organizations must learn how to construct and abide by their determined budgets. Serving as a roadmap to achieving annual objectives, a well thought out budget can help nonprofits succeed without sacrificing excess funds.

Learn more about the importance of nonprofit budget planning here.
July 22, 2014

HR Question: Definition of Hostile Work Environment

Q: What is the definition of a hostile work environment?

A: A “hostile work environment” is one of the two types of sexual harassment prohibited by law. The scope of this type of harassment is broad, but is generally defined by the following examples provided by the Department of Labor:

A hostile environment can result from the unwelcome conduct of supervisors, co-workers, customers, contractors, or anyone else with whom the individual interacts on the job, and the unwelcome conduct renders the workplace atmosphere intimidating, hostile, or offensive.

Examples of behaviors that may contribute to an unlawful hostile environment include:
  • Discussing sexual activities
  • Telling off-color jokes concerning race, sex, disability, or other protected basis
  • Unnecessary touching
  • Commenting on physical attributes
  • Displaying sexually suggestive or racially insensitive pictures
  • Using demeaning or inappropriate terms or epithets
  • Using indecent gestures
  • Using crude language
  • Sabotaging the victim’s work
  • Engaging in hostile physical conduct

The Department of Labor provides more information on when a hostile work environment violates the law and suggested information for creating a policy here.

Question and Answer provided by ThinkHR. Learn more about how your nonprofit can gain access to their expert HR staff here.
July 17, 2014

Do Teams Trump Individuals?

A few years ago a social researcher invited a group of 50 or so participants to enter a room full of balloons, find the balloon with their name written on it, and sit down before 5 minutes passed. The scene was chaotic. Not surprisingly, none of the participants were sitting down at the 5 minute mark.

The speaker then asked the participants to perform the search again as a collaborative group. He suggested they each pick up one balloon and find the owner of that balloon.

If you haven’t already heard about the study findings, which recently began to go viral, all of the participants were sitting down, with their unique balloon, well before the 5 minute mark.

For the past couple of decades, researchers have been performing live social experiments like this one to illustrate the power of teamwork and collaborative effort. Out of this body of work has come some pretty powerful information that can improve your organization—and it’s collaborative results—if used well.

Not least among the information sets that have been discovered, is the fact that companies that have the best collaborative teams are 10 times more likely to reach high financial goals as those who don’t. So what is it that makes the best teams?

According to MIT researchers, the best teams:
  • Are socially responsive to one another and pick up on one another’s cues and body language,
  • Collaborate and contribute more or less equally,
  • Operate in a climate of safety that encourages creativity and out-of-the-box thinking, and
  • Provide candid feedback to one another.

If you’re team is not performing as well as you would like them to, or if your team is fairly homogenous—which researchers have repeatedly found discourages a healthy level of creativity— this article from the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) suggests appointing someone within your team to play devil’s advocate.

Other suggestions to improve the collaborative working environment within your team include:
  • Anticipate conflicts and set down guidelines for how your team will handle them
  • Encourage your team to socialize outside of work—it’s a shortcut to improving collaboration and allowing teams to become more socially responsive to one another
  • Recognize, reward, and celebrate collaborative behavior
  • Think systematically, but make innovation of the utmost concern
  • Let those who benefit from your organization weigh in from time to time
July 10, 2014

HR Question: Holiday Pay & Leave

Q: If a holiday falls during the week of an employee's leave (either vacation or unpaid leave of absence), how does a company pay salaried (exempt) and hourly (nonexempt) employees that week? Does a part-time employee get paid for a holiday?

A: The answers to your questions are ultimately determined by company policy due to the fact that there is no mandatory requirement under state or federal laws to offer employees holiday pay.  Many employers do, however, offer holiday pay to both full- time and part-time employees as part of the company’s competitive total compensation package.

It is a matter of company policy regarding pay for a holiday that falls within the week of an employee’s vacation.  You may define eligibility criteria for these benefits, such as requiring that employees work the day before and the day after the holiday to receive the benefit unless on approved time off, or holiday pay will only be provided when the holiday falls on a regularly-scheduled work day.
  • For non-exempt hourly employees:  If your company does not offer holiday pay and your business is closed for the holiday, you would not be required to pay non-exempt hourly employees for that day.  Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), these employees are paid on an “hours worked” basis.  Employees could request that available accrued paid time off be substituted for that day in order to be paid.
  • For exempt employees:  Under the FLSA, exempt employees are paid on a “salary basis”,  Employers may not make deductions from an exempt employee’s pay for absences caused by the employer or by the operating requirements of the business during the workweek, such as the business being closed for a holiday.  If the employer has a policy that employees have to be at work either the day before or the day after the holiday in order for the holiday to be paid, the employer could deduct from the exempt employee’s accrued paid time off bank for the absence on the holiday.  If exempt employees have no accrued paid time off benefits available , the holiday would still be paid by the employer as part of the salary basis requirement, and the paid time off bank hours would be in the negative until additional time off is accrued.  For more information about the FLSA rules, click here.

Nothing under the federal or state family and medical leave laws (FMLA or state “mini-FMLA”) require an employer to continue a holiday pay benefit during an unpaid leave for either hourly non-exempt or exempt employees.

Question and Answer provided by ThinkHR. Learn more about how your nonprofit can gain access to their expert HR staff here.
July 10, 2014

UST Debuts New Animated Video, “Unemployment and HR Solutions Just for Nonprofits”

As the nation’s largest and lowest cost alternative to paying state unemployment costs, the Unemployment Services Trust (UST) is working to educate thousands of nonprofits about their human resource cost-saving options.

On July 9th the Unemployment Services Trust (UST) released its first ever animated video short. As a part of UST’s ongoing efforts to educate nonprofits about the cost-saving alternative exclusively available to those with a 501(c)(3) tax status, the video will be shared with thousands of nonprofits.

About a minute long, the video reveals how more than 2,000 nonprofit employers with 10 or more employees have saved up to 60% on unemployment costs and reduced time spent on HR after joining the UST program.

By developing a highly focused repertoire of services—including an expert HR Hotline and Resource Library, and an expert claims management system with a secure online claims dashboard—UST helped members save $32,598,054 in mitigated unemployment claims last year.

Last month an additional $8,762,873 was returned, in cash, to participants that had an overall positive unemployment claims experience in 2013. Altogether this represents more than $43 million in claims savings, audited state returns, and cash back for members last year.

To learn more about the UST program for 501(c)(3) employers, visit or call (888) 249-4788 to speak with an Unemployment Cost Advisor.

About UST: Founded by nonprofits, for nonprofits, UST is the largest unemployment trust in the nation, providing nonprofit organizations with 10 or more employees a safe, cost-effective alternative to paying state unemployment taxes. UST has partnered with 80 state and national nonprofit-based associations to teach their members about their unemployment insurance alternatives. Visit to learn more.
July 08, 2014

Nonprofits Slated to Receive More than $8.7M in Cash Back this Year from UST

Over the next several weeks 521 current participants in the Unemployment Services Trust (UST) will receive a combined $8,762,873 in cash back.

Over the next several weeks 521 nonprofit members of the Unemployment Services Trust (UST) will receive a combined $8,762,873 in cash back. In total this brings participant savings over the past year to more than $43 million in claims savings, audited state returns, and cash back.

“One of the most exciting times of the year at UST is when we get to tell members that they will be receiving money back,” said Donna Groh, Executive Director of UST. “For members that elect to take the cash back as a check this money often helps them expand important initiatives. And, learning the exact impact that each dollar we’re able to save, and return, to nonprofit employers helps motivate us to find even more ways to lower unemployment costs across the board for our members.”

The UST program, which helps nonprofits with 10 or more employees control unemployment-related HR costs, includes an annual review of its 2,000+ nonprofit accounts–using an advanced actuarial model. Unlike the state unemployment tax system or some private insurance where taxes and premiums cannot be refunded (even when benefits paid out are far below what the employer paid in), UST instead allows for cash back when an organization has a positive unemployment claim experience.

UST members whose claims were lower than anticipated, and that are well-funded for future claims, will receive a direct refund or credit to their nonprofit organization.

“Hearing the individual stories about what members plan to do with their cash back is extremely rewarding, and allows us to better emphasize the mission-driven impact of becoming part of the UST program,” seconded Adam Thorn, Director of Operations.

By aiming to ensure that a nonprofit is properly reserved for unemployment claims costs, but not holding excess funds beyond the necessary cushion for future claims, UST helps serve its mission of “Saving money for nonprofits in order to advance their missions.”

To learn more about the UST program for 501(c)(3) employers, visit or call (888) 249-4788 to speak with an Unemployment Cost Advisor.

About UST: Founded by nonprofits, for nonprofits, UST is the largest unemployment trust in the nation, providing nonprofit organizations with 10 or more employees a safe, cost-effective alternative to paying state unemployment taxes. UST has partnered with 80 state and national nonprofit-based associations to teach their members about their unemployment insurance alternatives. Visit to learn more.
July 03, 2014

How HR Departments Impact the Nonprofit Sector

For most nonprofits, sticking to a smaller budget makes it harder to allocate the necessary time and resources needed to maintain an effective HR department. Responsible for salaries, training, recruitment and paperwork, your HR staff greatly influences your organization’s potential growth.


XpertHR and Nonprofit HR conducted a 2014 survey of Senior HR professionals to reveal the way nonprofit HR departments are constructed and held accountable. Representing 260 organizations throughout the US and Canada, the results showcase the importance of measuring and documenting an HR department’s effectiveness.

According to the survey, just over 1/3 of organizations reported documenting an official HR strategy. And with nearly 40% of HR professionals failing to measure their department’s effectiveness, many nonprofits have trouble building upon their HR best practices.

In addition to sustaining an effective HR department, nonprofits are also burdened by a limited HR budget. Taking the cost of HR salaries, recruitment, and administration into account, the median cost of running an HR department is reported at $91,715.

In order to alleviate financial HR costs, UST offers its members exclusive access to ThinkHR, a value added service that provides HR professionals with expert advice and support tools. This service includes a live HR Hotline, an online HR library, and over 200 employee training courses. Learning how to outsource and prioritize your organization’s HR needs can save you money—money that can be put towards mission advancement and further HR staff development.

Learn more about how your nonprofit can gain access to ThinkHR’s expert HR staff here.
June 27, 2014

The Importance of Operating Reserves

The very idea of a for-profit company existing without a reserve operating budget would send investors running for the hills. So why is it that there is so much pressure on nonprofit organizations to scrape by without even a hint of a reserve operating budget?

Despite the pressure to constantly face their imminent demise, the smartest nonprofits—the ones that are best positioned to make a long-term impact on their mission—carefully build and manage a healthy operating fund, as well as an ample operating reserve fund. By protecting their organizational finances against sudden or dramatic cash flow changes, these organizations can continue to provide services in the toughest times.

Having a healthy operating budget provides your nonprofit with a more solid base by setting aside unrestricted net asset balances and investing them in the organization’s programs. The greater this reserve, the greater your organization’s ability to grow current programs and promote your mission.

The operating reserve portion—the portion set aside for emergencies and unforeseen circumstances that negatively affect your financial operations—protects your employees and your mission in the direst of circumstances.

Unfortunately, there isn’t one set benchmark for how much money a healthy nonprofit should have set aside as an operating reserve budget.

To help your organization determine a healthy reserve fund, we’ve gathered the following resources from across the web.

The Importance of Operating Reserves for Nonprofits- Read the article here.

Nonprofit Operating Reserves and Policy Examples- Visit the webpage here.

Maintaining Nonprofit Operating Reserves- Download the whitepaper here.

Reserves Planning: A step-by-step approach for nonprofit organizations- Download the whitepaper here.

For more information on strong financial management for your nonprofit, we suggest these resources.

Budgeting “Best Practice” Tips for Nonprofits- Download the PDF here.

Financial Management- Visit the National Council of Nonprofits financial management resource list here.
June 26, 2014

HR Question: Mileage Reimbursement

Q: Are there any limits on the amount an employer can reimburse employees for mileage before taxes are assessed?

A: The type of reimbursement plan you have will dictate whether reimbursement for business travel is or is not taxable.

With an "accountable plan", the reimbursement is not taxable to your employee. Amounts paid under an accountable plan are not wages and are not subject to income tax withholding and payment of Social Security, Medicare, and Federal Unemployment (FUTA) Taxes. Your reimbursement or allowance arrangement must meet all three of the following in order to quality as an accountable plan:
  1. There must be a business connection to the expenditure. This means that the expense must be a deductible business expense incurred in connection with services performed as an employee. If not reimbursed by the employer, the expense would be deductible by the employee on his/her 1040 income tax return.
  2. There must be "adequate" accounting by the recipient within a reasonable period of time. This means that your employees must verify the date, time, place, amount and the business purpose of the expenses (such as on an expense report). Receipts are required unless the reimbursement is made under a per diem plan.
  3. Excess reimbursements or advances must be returned within a reasonable period of time.

The other type of plan that is taxable, subject to all employment taxes and withholding is called a "nonaccountable plan". Your payments would be considered treated as paid under a nonaccountable plan if: (1) your employee is not required to substantiate expenses to you with receipts or other documentation in a timely manner; and (2) you advance an amount to your employee for business expenses and your employee is not required to and does not return any amount s/he does not use for business expenses in a timely manner.

Please check with your state department of taxation for state tax rules.

For more detailed information on federal mileage reimbursement, please refer to Publication 15, Circular E, and Employer's Tax Guide; Publication 1542, Per Diem Rates

Question and Answer provided by ThinkHR. Learn more about how your nonprofit can gain access to their expert HR staff here.
June 25, 2014

Does your social media policy protect your mission?

In January 2013 a nursing home worker was fired for a Facebook post on his personal page after he wrote that he would like to "slap the ever loving bat snot" out of a patient. He also went on to write that being insulted by residents made him less motivated to "make sure your call light gets answered every time."

The nursing home was alerted to the post after a nursing professor saw the post and shared it with the administration.

Although there have been a number of firings of nursing staff based off of their social media posts over the past few years, many of them deal with patient confidentiality. In this case, the employee's violation of the nursing home's social media policy--  which he had signed with the receipt of his first paycheck-- was what protected the nursing home from having to pay costly unemployment benefits to an employee who put patient safety and the reputation of the facility on the line.

If you haven't already, it may be time to review your current social media policy to ensure that your mission, and reputation, are protected from similar situations.

Read more about the case in this article by the Nonprofit Quarterly.
June 24, 2014

HR Question: Temporary Employees

Q: Does an employer need to provide temporary agency employees with a letter clearly stating that the position is temporary so as not to have the temporary agency employee think that the job is with the contracting company?

A: Typically the temporary agency will ensure that their employees know the position they are filling is a temporary assignment. However, if you want to make it perfectly clear, you could ask the temporary agency to give them a letter of understanding structured like an offer letter (on the agency's letterhead) outlining that the position is temporary through the agency and is expected to continue through [date], that they are ineligible for the contracting company benefits as they are not employees of [company], their employer of record is XX temporary agency, etc. This should ensure that there is no confusion concerning the promise of employment with the contracting company.

Question and Answer provided by ThinkHR. Learn more about how your nonprofit can gain access to their expert HR staff here.
June 18, 2014

UST and Alliance for Children and Families help Members Save Money on UI Costs

The Unemployment Services Trust (UST) is pleased to announce its newest affinity partnership with the Alliance for Children and Families (the Alliance). The Alliance, a national nonprofit organization, has chosen to join forces with UST in order to help its members reduce operating costs and direct more unrestricted funding toward realizing their missions.

This newest partnership will allow U.S. based organizations with a 501(c)(3) tax designation to more effectively take advantage of the federal law that allows nonprofits to opt out of the state unemployment tax system. By paying only the dollar-for-dollar cost of unemployment benefits paid to former employees, organizations that join UST lower their average claims cost to just $2,287 per claim versus the national average of $5,174 per claim.

“The ultimate goal of each and every nonprofit association that we work with is to provide their members with the best opportunities to advance their missions. By combining the power of hundreds, and sometimes even thousands, of smaller nonprofits, associations are able to get better money saving tools customized for their members,” said Donna Groh, Executive Director of UST.

“Last year we found more than $3.5 million in tax savings for nonprofits that came to us through our association partnerships. This year we want to double that and find at least $7 million in tax savings for our affinity partners’ member organizations.”

About the Alliance for Children and Families: The Alliance is a national organization dedicated to achieving a vision of a healthy society and strong communities for all children, adults, and families. The Alliance works for transformational change by representing and supporting its network of hundreds of nonprofit human serving organizations across North America as they translate knowledge into best practices that improve their communities. Working with and through its member network on leadership and advocacy, the Alliance strives to achieve high impact by reducing the number of people living in poverty; increasing the number of people with opportunities to live healthy lives; and increasing the number of people with access to educational and employment success. For more information, visit About UST: Founded by nonprofits, for nonprofits, UST is the largest unemployment trust in the nation, providing nonprofit organizations with 10 or more employees a safe, cost-effective alternative to paying state unemployment taxes. UST has partnered with 80 state and national nonprofit-based associations to teach their members about their unemployment insurance alternatives. Visit to learn more.
June 17, 2014

The Delaware Alliance for Nonprofit Advancement endorses the Unemployment Services Trust (UST) to Help Members Save on Unemployment Costs

The Delaware Alliance for Nonprofit Advancement’s partnership with the Unemployment Services Trust will offer both expert HR services and unemployment claims administration to nonprofit organizations throughout the state of Delaware.

The Unemployment Services Trust (UST) is pleased to announce that the Delaware Alliance for Nonprofit Advancement (DANA) has endorsed UST as a new Affinity Partner—making DANA the 15th state nonprofit association to bring UST to their members. UST will now join the other cost-saving member benefits offered to DANA member organizations and will offer resources to help them maintain HR best practices and standards, and reduce unemployment-related costs.

The UST program helps 501(c)(3) organizations take advantage of the federal law that allows nonprofits to opt out of the state unemployment tax system. By paying only the dollar-for-dollar cost of unemployment benefits paid to former employees, organizations that join the Trust see their average unemployment claim cost fall to $2,287, versus the national average of $5,174 per claim.

“We are thrilled to have DANA join us as an Affinity Partner because we know there is ample opportunity to help their members thrive. We want to help Delaware agencies, with 10 or more employees, discover whether they are overpaying their state unemployment taxes,” explained Donna Groh, Executive Director of UST. “We make it our mission to provide nonprofits with the latest tools and information required for organizational growth – and having the power to better educate these Delaware nonprofits through DANA can only help us strengthen the nonprofit sector.”

“We are proud to partner with UST to bring their unemployment and HR resources to Delaware,” says Chris Grundner, President and CEO of DANA. “We’ve seen the impact and savings they provide in other states, and we’re glad to now see our members benefit from their expertise and high-quality customer service.”

About the Delaware Alliance for Nonprofit Advancement (DANA):  As a leader of the nonprofit sector, DANA’s mission is to strengthen, enhance, and advance nonprofits and the sector in Delaware through advocacy, training, capacity building, and research. For more information, visit DANA’s website at

About UST: Founded by nonprofits, for nonprofits, UST is the largest unemployment trust in the nation, providing nonprofit organizations with 10 or more employees a safe, cost-effective alternative to paying state unemployment taxes. UST has partnered with nearly 80 state and national nonprofit-based associations to teach their members about their unemployment insurance options. Visit to learn more.
June 13, 2014

Right From the Start: What Your Board Needs in 3 Easy Tables


Written by Karen Beavor and re-published by permission of the Georgia Center for Nonprofits Just as important as developing a deep individual rela­tionship with each board member, it’s also important to understand what your team of individuals amounts to, and what qualities, skills, and connections it still needs to fulfill all your organization’s strategic goals—that is, to become a well-rounded, fully-functional superteam capable of taking on any challenge. If constructed wisely, your board can work as your organization’s personal consulting team.


To figure out what kinds of individuals your team has, and what skills it still needs, you need a process for dis­cerning assets and talent gaps on your board, in relation to your strategic goals. To do that, I advocate laying out your strategic goals and the skill sets necessary to achieve those goals, then determining which of those skill-sets your board already has on-hand. In our years training nonprofit EDs and boards, Georgia Center for Nonprofits has developed a simple method for pro­ducing three handy reference charts that will align your organization’s goals with the skills available from the board. Properly aligned, that board can effectively drive initiatives to success, through advisement, the ability to connect or uncover resources, or literally by leading problem solving.

Moreover, when building a team, it is important to understand that you are also building a culture. Paying attention to the kind of board culture you want, and interviewing candidates for attributes as well as skills, will ensure that the board is in full alignment with the needs and values of the organization.

By implementing an intentional process for discerning strengths and gaps on the board, vetting candidates and prioritizing them appropriately, you’ll find not only that your candidates are better suited to the work at hand, but that new members will begin their tenure with clearly-defined roles.


[caption id="" align="alignright" width="332"] A sample Strategic Needs Table, listing strategic goals and the skill sets needed to execute the strategies involved. Note that contract expertise is useful for more than one goal, meaning that particular skill-set should be a priority.[/caption]

Who You Need

Our foolproof methodology begins with a Strategic Needs Table.

Start by placing your organization’s strategic goals across the top row of a table. Think about the strategies you’ve decided on to reach those goals, and list the skill sets you’ll need to accomplish them beneath.

If your goal is to, say, increase the availability of quality affordable housing, one of your strategies might be to purchase and rehabilitate foreclosed properties, then rent them at an affordable rate. For that, you probably need a number of skill sets: real estate expertise to negotiate deals, banking expertise to assist with financ­ing, an attorney to manage contracts, and a contractor for renovation and maintenance.

As you look across all your goals and strategies, you’re also looking for repeating skill-sets. The need for an attorney, for instance, might arise across a number of goals. Therefore, having an attorney on your board might become a priority position to fill. This person could provide legal advisement, connections to other attorneys, or legal resources and guidance.


Who You Have


[caption id="" align="alignright" width="329"] A sample Current Board Inventory, listing current board members in the left-hand column and skill-sets needed across the top row. Note that no one in this list possesses expertise in contract law, meaning this is a skill-set you should look for in your next board recruit.[/caption]

Before you can determine the types of board members you need to recruit, you’ve got to understand who on the board already understands the ins and outs of each strategy. To do that, you’ll need to construct a Current Board Inventory.

That means creating another table, this one listing the skill-sets identified by your Strategic Needs Table across the top row, and your current board members down the left-hand column. For each board member, put a check beneath the skill sets they possess. If you don’t yet know your board members well enough to make an accurate inventory—and don’t assume you do—I advise creating a short survey that you can send through email or conduct over the phone. Be sure to ask about current and past employment; significant hobbies; major corporate, philanthropic, or donor relationships; professional association involvement; political positions held; and any other boards served on. You may be surprised!

With your board inventory finished, you should be able to see, at a glance, the strengths your board possesses and the gaps that need filling. That table should allow you to create a prioritized list of skills, talents, and connections you must seek in the next board members you recruit.

Who You Want

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="422"] A sample Recruit Attributes Chart, listing recruitment possibilities in the left-hand column, and desired attributes across the top row. From this chart, it’s easy to see that Candidate A and Candidate E make the best “fit” with regards to the qualities you want in a board member.[/caption]


You should also take time to decide what you want in your next recruit, because you are creating a board culture as much as you’re seeking skills—and it won’t matter how many strategic needs a particular candidate fills if there’s no cultural fit. If they can’t connect with your organization, chances are they won’t stick around long enough make an impact.

To come up with a list of desired cultural attributes, think about the foundational values of your organization, the work style of your staff and programs, and the qualities you most appreciate in the board members you have. These might include an affinity for improvisation (or for long-term planning); an attitude of positivity and agreeableness (or skepticism and challenge); a certain geographic reach; a kind of diversity (racial, gender, socioeconomic, political); a particular community connection; or the ability to make a personal gift, or to get others to give. (At one nonprofit we work with, the key attribute is “nice.” That’s their code for assertive and positive, rather than contentious or argumentative.)

Once you’ve decided on these key attributes, you can create a Recruit Attributes Chart, much like the Current Board Inventory, accounting for these qualities in the candidates you interview. With that table, you can prioritize recruits who fulfill the same skill-set by their “fit”: that is, how many cultural attributes one marketing expert fulfills compared to the other marketing experts you’re interviewing.

Of course, all of this is just preparation for your real work with the board: empowering your organization to fulfill all the promise of its mission. From here, it’s up to you to develop a purposeful, intentional plan that takes advantage of all the skills and strengths your board members possess.

Access more GCN resources on board building and engagement at



Karen Beavor is President and CEO of the Georgia Center for Nonprofits. Since 1998, Beavor has led GCN’s growth into a leading state association empowering nonprofits through education, advocacy, research, consulting and business support services. Karen has served as a board member or advisory board member of a variety of civic and nonprofit organizations including the Unemployment Services Trust; National Nonprofit Risk Management Center; and The Foundation Center–Atlanta. Karen has received the Martin Luther King Leadership award and the Harvard Business School Club of Atlanta’s Community Leader Award. She is a member of the 2000 class of Leadership Atlanta and 2003 Coca-Cola Diversity Leadership Academy, and a graduate of Agnes Scott College. About Georgia enter for Nonprofits

The Georgia Center for Nonprofits builds thriving communities by helping nonprofits succeed. Through a powerful mix of advocacy, solutions for nonprofit effectiveness, and insight building tools, GCN provides nonprofits, board members, and donors with the tools they need to strengthen organizations that make a difference on important causes throughout Georgia.  Learn more at


June 09, 2014

Seeing Voluntary Turnover as an Opportunity for Improvement

Last year 48 million Americans across all sectors left their jobs.

For large organizations, or organizations that expect high turnover year-over-year, that number may not be particularly compelling. But for organizations in which high turnover is a sign of a bigger problem, this kind of turnover needs to be looked at as an opportunity for improvement.

Looking more closely at the reasons for separation, nearly 60% of all turnover last year was voluntary. And—including both voluntary and involuntary separation data—about 40% of separations happened when the employee had been in the position less than 6 months.

The cost of turnover can be monumental.

Even for employees that have only recently joined the organization, the cost of replacing them can be mind boggling.

Consider this: the average cost of turnover is typically reported between 15 and 21% of the employee’s salary. But the ‘actual cost’ consists of the time and resources that are spent recruiting and hiring a replacement, greater demands on other employees to pick up the slack (which could lead to burn out and more employee openings), the need to train and develop the new employee, and potentially lost revenue and opportunities.

To stay competitive and to reduce the amount of voluntary turnover as efficiently and effectively as possible, it’s time for employers to dust off their research skills and learn more about what factors are encouraging employees to leave your organization.

Conduct exit interviews, and find out why employees are leaving your organization. Dig deep into the reasons that employees are leaving—is there a toxic employee rotting the rest of their department? Is the amount of work incongruent with the amount of pay? Are poor benefits or strict working hours causing employees to look elsewhere?

Once definitive information has been collected and examined, take the time to address it throughout the organization. Make changes where necessary. And if changes can’t occur, for instance if better benefits are too hard to provide, look for opportunities to become more flexible with employees.

The savings will quickly add up.

Read more about how to see voluntary turnover as an opportunity here.
June 05, 2014

96% of Members Would Recommend the UST Program to their Nonprofit Peers as a Valuable Cost-Saving Opportunity

In a recent member-wide survey, it was revealed that 96 percent of UST participants would recommend the Unemployment Services Trust to their peers as a cost and time saving opportunity.

The Unemployment Services Trust (UST) is proud to announce that 96 percent of current participants would recommend the program as a valuable cost-saving opportunity for nonprofits. UST credits the improvement over last year’s 93 percent recommendation rate to an intense focus on the overall member experience and greater attentiveness to members’ needs.

“From the very beginning, the UST program was designed to support nonprofits by reducing the time and cost associated with managing an unemployment claim,” said Donna Groh, Executive Director. “To have found that our members would overwhelmingly recommend our service to other nonprofits is extremely rewarding.”

“We’ve worked hard to improve our customer service model and increase the quality of interactions that our customer service team has with our current members over the past year,” said Adam Thorn, Director of Operations. “By incorporating best practices and higher customer service standards, we have been able to  support more in-depth interactions with our members, whether that means providing more detailed responses to questions or better educating organizations about the benefits of reimbursing for unemployment claims versus paying taxes.”

“On the heels of this increase in customer service standards was the increase in direct savings that our members experienced last year as well,” said Groh in reference to mitigated unemployment claims costs and cash back to participants.

Last year, UST was able to help members mitigate $32,598,054 in unemployment claims through best-in-class claims management. The same claims management services allowed UST to return an additional $1.7 million of charges made in error by state unemployment offices, which were audited by UST and credited back to the individual organizations.

Select participants also received $11,041,738 in cash back after their reserve accounts were reviewed for positive claims experience.

May 30, 2014

Employee Engagement: Is Your Model Working?

How your employees approach their responsibilities and relationships within your organization dictates its level of success. However, how you choose to conduct yourself as a leader sets the tone for your employees’ overarching sense of accountability—which can create either a trusting, or toxic, work environment.

In order to be a great leader, one must educate, coach, empathize, encourage, and sometimes discipline employees. According to Simon Sinek, who was recently featured in TED2014, being a good leader is like being a parent –the main objective is to provide your workers the necessary tools to be successful and grow. Holding your employees accountable for their actions allows them to take ownership of their actions, and forces them to take responsibility for their successes and failures.

For nonprofits, who are often restricted by budgetary concessions, high morale and cooperation are driving forces required for mission advancement. Such internal drive can only be cultivated through feelings of security.

When employees feel as though they are being looked after and respected by their leaders, they develop a greater willingness to take initiative.

Great leaders also sacrifice for the well-being and safety of their staff. Selfless actions from a leadership figure will cause a domino effect of trust within an organization. And when the relationship between employer and employee improves, employees spend more time and energy devoted to strengthening the organization as a whole.

To learn more about what it takes to be a great leader, watch Simon Sinek's video.

Read more about leadership management tips here.