July 2023 TogetHR Times

Encourage Employee Wellbeing: Promote Taking Time Off for a Healthier Work-Life Balance

Encourage Employee Wellbeing: Promote Taking Time Off for a Healthier Work-Life Balance

by Kim Keene

Research shows that many employees are thinking about skipping or at least shortening their vacation plans this year out of fear of being laid off or falling behind in their work. Others simply want to conserve their cash, given the uncertain economy.

Research also finds that workers at all levels benefit by taking time away from their jobs. They often become more engaged and productive when they return, prompting more companies to encourage employees to embrace vacations.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that in 2016 (the latest year for which data is available), 745,000 people died in 2016 from heart disease and stroke related to working long hours.  

Some of the physical, mental and business benefits of taking time off include:

  • Increased employee productivity and creativity upon return.
  • Better worker retention, since vacation time, especially paid time off, is considered a prized perk.
  • Lower health insurance costs.
  • Opportunities for employees to explore new cultures and learning experiences.

There is no federally mandated vacation time in the U.S., so each employer must decide what is best for its employees. The average annual amount of paid vacation time for U.S. workers is 10 to 14 days, according to the jobs site Indeed. However, 25 percent of U.S. workers don’t even receive that amount, CBS MoneyWatch reports. 

Vacation time in other countries varies greatly; Austria ranks first with the most government-mandated paid time off at 38 days per year: 25 days of paid vacation time, plus 13 public holidays. Next are France and Spain at 36 days of paid time off each, followed by South Korea with 31 days, Germany with 30 days and the U.K. with 28. Japan requires 26 paid days off each year but karoshi, or death from overwork, is still a problem because many employees are reluctant to take vacation time.

 A recent Pew Research Center study, “How Americans View Their Jobs,” found that nearly half of U.S. workers with paid time off (PTO) indicated they typically take less time than their employers provide. They gave the following reasons: not feeling a need for more time off (52 percent), being worried about falling behind (49 percent), feeling bad about co-workers taking on additional work (43 percent), being concerned about job advancement (19 percent), fearing losing their job (16 percent) and having a manager or supervisor who discourages them from taking time off (12 percent ).

Employers with a “use it or lose it” vacation policy should prioritize reminding employees who have not taken their allotted vacation days to do so. If your company offers open leave or allows employees to roll over unused vacation days, emphasizing the benefits of regular annual vacations can help promote the practice. “Use it or lose it” regulations vary by state, be sure to check your requirements.  This practice is illegal in Montana.

Ways to encourage employees to take time off include:

  • Provide employee discounts for travel, restaurants, hotels, and museum and amusement park admissions to help make vacations more affordable.
  • Offer unique PTO opportunities, such as for a birthday or work anniversary.
  • Suggest that employees begin a vacation fund and offer to match their contributions up to a certain level.
  • To facilitate sufficient coverage of the employee’s work, create communication to encourage colleagues to step up and provide support for one another.
  • For employees who use up their paid vacation days, consider letting them take unpaid vacation days. 

To read the full article, SHRM: Vacation!!

Keeping Connected With All Of Your Employees

by Christine Muller

Are you struggling to keep connected to employees?  Are you wondering what they are working on and how productive they are being?  Are you trying to keep connected to those distant or remote workers?  Think of ways in which to regularly connect (daily, weekly, bi-weekly, etc) to share important information and support networking.  Avoid long, unproductive meetings by considering ‘huddles’ or short, 15-minute touch base meetings to connect.  “Regular super-short meetings can yield major results-they serve to bond teams, keep projects on track, avert misunderstandings and more” says organizational psychologist Steven Rogelberg. 

We’ve all experienced those meetings that seem to go on endlessly or don’t feel very productive.   Many companies have been struggling since embracing a hybrid or remote work environment to keep people attentive and focused during meetings.  Few people actually like meetings and many feel that meetings prevent them from doing their own work.  Are they necessary?  Absolutely, but how they are structured can be critical to employee participation and engagement.  

One way to make workplace gatherings (meetings) more efficient and productive is to implement a “15-minute meeting.’  This approach was first introduced by Berlin-based financial automation company Monite in July 2021.  Business experts say the 15- minute meeting curbs employee burnout and boosts engagement and can be ‘prime sources of efficiency’ says Dannie Fountain, a Google talent sourcer and founder of Focused on People.   Less time means fewer distractions and increased engagement.  It will also decrease rambling and/or unproductive conversation.

“A 15-minute meeting allows managers to focus on key points and avoid their message becoming lost in conversation’ says Michelle Jimenez, SHRM -SCP and director of human resources.  “It also allows team members to focus on those key points and not spend wasted time and dollars digging through nonessential information.  This equates to higher productivity, higher return on investment and, ultimately, higher morale.”

How to go about setting up a 15-minute meeting:

1. Get Agile!  

  • Come into the meeting knowing what you want to achieve
  • Keep conversations meaningful but brief
  • Shut down tangential discussions – identify issues, but not necessarily solve them

2. Strive for Efficiency!

  1. Clarify key points of the meeting
    • Decide what you as a manager, want to accomplish. What are the priorities?
    • Recognize the best and most efficient way to accomplish those goals
  2. Lay groundward for effective meeting: 
    • Create SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) meeting objectives
    • Prepare an agenda and send to participants in advance
    • Share notes, materials, links and other information in advance so participants can prepare ahead of time, and you don’t waste time discussing details during the meeting
    • Select a person to be the timekeeper and another to be the note taker.  Record who is assigned follow-up tasks by what date.

Examples of what to focus on:

  1. What has happened and any key wins?
  2. What will happen?
  3. Key metrics
  4. Obstacles

Tips to Remember:  

  • Shorter meetings should be designed to replace longer meetings!  Don’t just add more meetings to an already tight schedule.
  • Honor the 15-minute time frame!

Article by:  Brian O’Connell – May 26, 2003 SHRM HR Magazine Summer 2023  https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/hr-magazine/summer-2023/Pages/how-to-run-a-15-minute-meeting.aspx 

Ted Talk:  The Power of You to Truly Make Meetings Work



Salary Caps: How To Retain An Employee That’s Reached The Top of The Pay Scale

by Christina Carmona

Employees who are earning the maximum compensation for their pay range are often highly valued top performers and retaining them in today’s competitive market is challenging but critical. Start by ensuring that the employee understands the big picture. Being transparent with employees will improve trust, which can boost retention. Communicate the compensation practices of your company, including how salary ranges are developed and how pay increasesare decided.

Below are several examples an employer can take in this situation: 

  • Provide a lump-sum bonus instead of a pay increase. This provides additional compensation and recognition but keeps an employee within the salary range. 
  • Provide opportunities to advance. Offer stretch assignments (a project or task that’s currently beyond their level of knowledge/skill), cross-training (training the employee in more than one role or skill) and learning and developing benefits that fit the employee’s career interests and the company’s needs.
  • Develop plans for numerous different career paths that allow the employee to move either vertically or horizontally within the company.
  • Offer other nonmonetary benefits, such as flexible work arrangements, additional paid time off, opportunities to train other employees in their functional area, or the ability to attend a work conference at a desirable location. 
  • Recognize an employee’s contributions by providing regular feedback, recognition and other positive forms of reinforcement. 

In general, it’s a great idea to review pay structures on a regular basis to ensure that all employees are paid at levels comparable to those for similar positions in the market. 

Ultimately, retaining employees in a volatile market is critical regardless of where they are in the pay range for their position. Developing an open and transparent culture, offering competitive pay and benefits, and rewarding employees fairly will help improve employee retention.   

Source: SHRM Magazine 

Tax Implications to Consider When Starting a New Business

by Rhonda Anderson

What type of business am I starting?

Types of Business:

  • Sole Proprietorship – Only Owner
    • File Form 1040 – Schedule C
    • Self-employment tax paid on net profit
  • Partnership – Two or more partners
    • File Form 1065
    • Profit or loss is passed through to partners on Schedule K-1
    • Self-employment tax paid on net profit
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC)
    • Single-member LLC file Form 1040 – Schedule C
    • Multi-member LLC – Form 1065 and Schedule K-1
    • LLC can elect taxation as a S-Corp or C-Corp – File Form 1120 or 1120S
    • Self-employment tax paid on net profit
  • Corporation
    • File Form 1120
    • Corporation tax paid on profit and the shareholders on dividends (double taxation)
  • S Corporation
    • File Form 1120S
    • Profit or loss is passed through to partners on Schedule K-1
    • Tax assessed at individual income tax rates – avoid double taxation

What accounting method am I using?

  • Cash Accounting – Record income when received and expenses when paid
  • Accrual Accounting – Record income when the service or goods are completed and expenses when incurred

Am I paying self-employment tax?

  • Self-employed sole proprietors, members of partnerships are subject to self-employment tax at 15.3%
  • If you pay self-employment tax, you get to deduct half from your taxable income on your personal tax return

What other tax deductions am I eligible for?

  • Health savings account deduction
  • Contributions to a SEP, Simple, IRA and qualified retirement plans
  • Self-employed health insurance deduction
  • Home office deduction

Do I qualify for the 20% deduction for pass-through entities?

  • Some sole-proprietorships, LLC's, partnerships and S-Corps may be eligible for a 20% deduction on Qualified Business Income, QBI

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