October 2022 TogetHR Times

Listening to Employees….Why?

From SHRM, 9.16.2022

According to isolved’s second annual Voice of the Workforce survey released Sept. 7, continuous listening by employers, consistent learning opportunities and frequent check-ins with supervisors are even more important than some organizations may realize, particularly for employees plagued with anxiety or self-doubt.

The 1,000-employee nationwide survey found that 50 percent of workers experience the “Sunday Scaries” before returning to work after time off. It also revealed that 40 percent indicated they struggle with imposter syndrome, which is an internalized, persistent fear developed from doubting their skills, talents or accomplishments.

Research from Robert Half found that 39% of respondents reported suffering from Sunday scaries, or to put it simply, anxiety preceding the workweek.  Sunday scaries are a type of “anticipatory stress event”— one during which individuals experience anxiety in advance of the actual stressor, according to Erica Denner, head of people and culture at Kazoo. No one is immune to the Sunday scaries, Robert Half Professional Staffing Services Senior Executive Director Michael Steinitz said. “The ‘Sunday [s]caries’ can impact any type of worker, though those who are less organized or not able to prioritize their workloads may be more adversely affected”.  Organizations may be able to help workers overcome the Sunday scaries and better handle stress with wellness programming, company policies and other procedures that minimize nerves and allow employees to ease into the workweek with more serenity.

1. Evaluate workloads

2. Model work-life balance

3. Define priorities

4. Publicize opportunities for help

5. Listen to what will make Mondays merrier

Employees will become engaged in their work when they align with company purpose.  If an employee doesn’t know why they go to work, then they are more likely to have the Sunday scaries.

Fifty-two percent of the full-time employees isolved surveyed said the top way their employers can help reduce symptoms of imposter syndrome is to have supervisors hold regular meetings with their direct reports. Thirty-eight percent said their employers can help improve employee well-being by providing resources to minimize burnout.

In an effort to streamline employee check-ins, isolved said some clients are using its virtual assistant (or chatbot) to regularly ask employees how they are doing. Research by isolved showed that while 52 percent of employees welcome regular check-ins with their supervisors, only 30 percent of HR leaders said such meetings are conducted on a continuous basis.

The full article:  Listening


paperless office is a business approach where the usage of papers in the office is completely eliminated.

How to make your office paperless: With the advancement of technology, creating a paperless office is surely possible. Here are 10 Simple Tips to Create Paperless Office you need to follow.

  1. A scanner helps you store all the documents in digital format
  2. Share the necessary documents online
  3. Store all your business cards by scanning
  4. Reduce the printing of sheets in the office
  5. Avoid all paper format statements from banks and make use of e-statements
  6. Make use of cloud apps
  7. Request invoices from vendors through email
  8. Avoid old technology
  9. Make all your digital formats in readable mode
  10. VIP – Stop accepting and issuing paper checks. In preparation for year end and Form 1099 requirements, this will alleviate the necessity of filing/receiving 1099’s and obtaining/submitting W-9’s. Note: some states require that you offer the ability to have a paper check. Be sure to check your state.

The team at TogetHR Consulting would be happy to assist you in setting up this process. Please contact us with any questions.

Hiring People, Laying Off People- so Confusing

It’s a perplexing time. Employers desperate to hire and retain talent are planning layoffs and hiring freezes. Organizations addressing labor shortages are boosting pay and benefits to attract candidates while also taking steps to reduce headcount.

Companies are pursuing a range of strategies illustrating the paradoxical nature of the current labor market, according to a PwC survey of 722 U.S. executives—chief human resource officers, chief financial officers, chief operations officers and corporate board directors.

When asked how they are responding to the current business environment, 83 percent said they’re focusing their business strategy on growth and only 30 percent see recession as a serious risk.

Finding the right talent continues to be a challenge. Talent acquisition and retention was cited as a serious business risk, second only to cybersecurity. Nearly two-thirds of respondents (63 percent) have changed or are planning to change processes to address their labor shortages, up from 56 percent in January.

For example, 50 percent of respondents said they are planning to reduce their overall headcount, 52 percent are implementing hiring freezes, 46 percent are dropping or reducing signing bonuses, and 44 percent are rescinding job offers.

Experts said the staffing imbalances arose from over hiring during the pandemic in areas where demand has since fallen off.

Nearly half (49 percent) of respondents to the PwC survey said they are looking to rehire boomerang employees, while 52 percent are considering business acquisitions to gain access to needed talent, 56 percent are dropping COVID-19 vaccination mandates, 64 percent are increasing compensation and 70 percent are offering more remote-work opportunities.

The economic uncertainty is pushing employers to consider layoffs and pump the brakes on talent acquisition, but experts agree that to avoid discouraging future growth, the best recruiting teams will take advantage of the cooler market to reset talent strategy and make opportunistic hires.

Employers should review their open headcount and projections for new hires and adjust them to be in line with the current state of the economy.  If this is not possible, then a cautious approach to recruiting and a review of the company needs around adding new positions should be reviewed and adjusted as the economy shifts.

Read the full article: Confusing Labor Market

IRS Update –  Work Opportunity Tax Credit

About $1 billion in tax credits are claimed each year under the WOTC program

Updated online information from the IRS on prescreening job applicants is intended to help determine if hiring them would enable an employer to receive the federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), which is available to employers that hire designated categories of workers who face significant barriers to employment.

For employers facing a tight job market, the WOTC may help by offsetting some of the compensation costs associated with a new hire. “Those having a hard time finding employees for basic tasks and labor may want to keep the WOTC in mind,” tweeted online training firm Overnight Accountant following the announcement from the IRS on Sept. 19.

The WOTC was first created as part of the Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996 and has been extended on a regular basis. In 2021, Congress authorized an extension of the WOTC until Dec. 31, 2025.

Ten designated categories are determined to present significant barriers to employment:

  • Qualified IV-A Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients.
  • Certain veterans, including unemployed or disabled veterans.
  • People who were formerly incarcerated or previously convicted of a felony.
  • Designated community residents living in Empowerment Zones or Rural Renewal Counties.
  • Vocational rehabilitation referrals.
  • Summer youth employees living in Empowerment Zones.
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients.
  • Long-term family assistance recipients.
  • Qualified long-term unemployment recipients.

Clarifying the Prescreening Process

The online updates added to the IRS’ WOTC webpage address the prescreening and certification process. To satisfy the requirement to prescreen a job applicant for eligibility to qualify an employer to receive the WOTC, on or before the day a job offer is made, a Form 8850: Pre-Screening Notice and Certification Request for the Work Opportunity Credit must be completed by the job applicant and the employer, the IRS said.
After prescreening a job applicant, the employer must then request certification by submitting Form 8850 to the appropriate state workforce agency no later than 28 days after the employee begins work. Other requirements and further details can be found in the Instructions for Form 8850.

Although the tax credit generally is not available to tax-exempt organizations, a special provision allows them to claim the WOTC against the employer’s share of Social Security tax for hiring qualified veterans, the IRS noted. These organizations claim the credit on Form 5884-C: Work Opportunity Credit for Qualified Tax-Exempt Organizations Hiring Qualified Veterans.

How the WOTC Works

About $1 billion in tax credits are claimed each year under the WOTC program, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The credit is limited to the amount of business income tax liability or Social Security tax the employer owes.

According to frequently asked questions the IRS posted last year, the WOTC is equal to 40 percent of up to $6,000 of wages paid to, or incurred on behalf of, an individual who is in their first year of employment, is certified as being a member of a targeted group, and performs at least 400 hours of services for that employer. Thus, the maximum tax credit is generally $2,400.

For “qualified veterans,” up to $24,000 in wages may be taken into account in determining the WOTC, for a maximum tax credit of $9,600. This higher wage base applies, for instance, for hiring a veteran who is a member of a family that received SNAP benefits (food stamps) for at least a 3-month period during the 15-month period ending on their hiring. It also applies for veterans entitled to compensation for a service-connected disability and unemployed for at least 6 months in the 1-year period ending on their hiring date, for example.

There is no limit on the number of individuals an employer can hire to qualify to claim the WOTC. An employer, however, cannot claim the WOTC for employees who are rehired.

Four-Day Workweek Gaining Momentum

Support for a four-day workweek is growing in the U.K., where employees in a pilot program work four days a week but get paid for five.

In the U.K., more than 3,300 employees are getting one extra paid day off per week at the 73 companies involved in the pilot. The majority of the firms reported it is working well, according to the BBC, with 95 percent saying productivity has remained the same or improved. About 86 percent of 41 organizations surveyed said they would continue the four-day week after the trial ends.

The extra days off could become a recruitment and retention strategy for the companies, and could also result in big savings for some workers, according to New York City-based 4 Day Week Global, a not-for-profit running the international pilot in conjunction with a think tank and researchers at Cambridge and Oxford universities. In the U.K., a parent of two children would save an average of £3,232.40 ($3,665.56 USD) per year, or roughly £269.36 ($305.05 USD) per month, in child care fees.

The pilot also is underway in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and the U.S.

The following news articles on the pilot program and the pros and cons of instituting a four-day workweek were found from SHRM Online.

Firms in Four-Day Week Trial Will Make It Permanent

More than 3,300 employees are getting one paid day off per week through a pilot program testing a four-day workweek.

4 Day Week, which is running the pilot, said employees at participating U.K. organizations had benefited from lower commuting and child care costs.

Will Stronge, director of research at Autonomy, said, “A four-day week with no loss of pay could play a crucial role in supporting workers to make ends meet over the next few years.”

From BBC

Four-Day Week Pilot Findings: Successful for Most Firms, but Not All

The four-day workweek is working. That’s the message emerging from the closely watched companies shifting to four-day workweeks in pilot programs run by the nonprofit 4 Day Week Global.

Six-month pilot programs with over 180 companies are currently underway in a half-dozen countries. Participating executives say they face a dual challenge: overcoming staff and industry five-day norms, and removing or improving work processes to get the same output in four days.

From Bloomberg

The Executive View: Companies with Shorter Workweeks Find Less Is More

It improved workers’ well-being and productivity in New Zealand and Iceland. The idea was so popular that employees at one Spanish company agreed to take a 6.5 percent pay cut to take advantage of it.

The four-day workweek is a concept that, while batted about in the U.S. for years, is catching fire now that the COVID-19 pandemic is in its third year.

“The coronavirus pandemic has sped up a transition into more flexible and diverse working hours around the world, opening up ways of working that were unthinkable just a few years ago,” according to a recent Reuters article that explored what happened when companies in several countries experimented with shortening the workweek.

From SHRM Online

More Companies Trying Out Four-Day Workweek. It Might Not Be for Everyone

Companies in the 4 Day Week Global pilot program are asked to test a four-day workweek for six months with no reduction to employees’ pay but a substantial reduction in their hours. The vast majority have gone to four days with 32 hours of work, with Friday as the most common day off.

It seems that it may be easier to try the concept in an office environment, where there is often more scheduling flexibility than in other industries.

When NPR called a manufacturing plant in the Northeast that makes steel products, a floor manager who answered the phone said he didn’t have time to grab a supervisor to speak on the record. Before hanging up, he said the plant was so slammed because of supply chain shortages and backlogged orders that there’s no way it could make a four-day workweek happen.

From NPR

Opinion: What Leaders Need to Know Before Trying a Four-Day Workweek

While we support four-day workweek initiatives, employers need to be aware of two important factors. First, a reduction in hours must also be accompanied by a revision of or even reduction in workload. Second, time at work could become even more intense and stressful for workers, even if there are productivity benefits to be had. Here’s what leaders need to understand before trying a four-day workweek.

From Harvard Business Review

Want to Switch to a Four-Day Workweek? Here’s How to Run a Pilot

Author Joe Sanok first discovered the benefits of a four-day workweek while in college. The schedule then became a routine that he’s experimented with while growing his own consultancy practice and in his role as a podcaster.

Sanok has collected his findings in Thursday is the New Friday: How to Work Fewer Hours, Make More Money and Spend Time Doing What You Want (HarperCollins, 2021).

An organization should run a pilot no less than two to three months, he said, in order to collect enough data to work with.

Employers also need to define boundaries. “Are we agreeing to no e-mails after 5 p.m.? Are we saying that we’re not working at all on Friday?” Sanok said. 

From SHRM Online

Employee Resource Groups

Employee resource groups (ERGs) are like the cliques of North Shore High School—only in the broadest sense, and minus the Plastics, of course. There’s one for everyone, and senior leadership would do well to pay them more attention (trust falls not required).

ERGs have grown increasingly popular in recent years: An estimated 40% of employers report having had ERGs in 2021, up 9% from 2020, according to Sequoia. The surge was driven in part by employers wanting to connect disparate workers during Covid-19 and to increase DE&I efforts during the racial reckoning following the murder of George Floyd. It has resulted in the emergence of a new role: ERG program director.

As ERGs have proliferated, employers, including Salesforce, Netflix, and Betterment, have employed ERG program directors whose sole focus is to advance ERG efforts. But for their programs to be successful, ERG experts told HR Brew that directors still need buy-in from senior leadership.

Shifting roles. ERGs have been around since the 1970s, but their role has shifted, according to Farzana Nayani, a DE&I consultant and author of The Power of Employee Resource Groups. They used to be formed by employees, “for social reasons,” Nayani said, without much budget or support from senior leadership. Eventually, program leaders emerged and were incorporated into the HR function, or under the umbrella of learning and development, explained Cecilia Persson-Ramos, a DE&I ERG leader at Intuit, “But it was never someone’s-full time job to actually manage [them].”

The expansion of DE&I efforts and investment in more structured ERG programs in recent years has led to program directors getting their own titles and full-time job descriptions: Many now oversee upwards of 10 ERGs with multiple chapters.

Without clear oversight for ERG programs, Persson-Ramos said, companies could be missing out on the opportunities for ERGs to play a bigger role in shaping employee experience and education. For example, nearly 25% of Intuit’s 50,000 employees are ERG members. “There was both a tremendous opportunity and there was also some risk involved with not having someone who could dedicate the time and energy to support, elevate, and provide management to ERG leaders.”

Beyond that, “there’s also the business case around the ERGs” explained Nayani, especially as employees have become disillusioned with work amid the Great Resignation. Some 75% of companies that responded to a 2021 Salesforce survey said their ERGs have helped with employee retention, and 55% said they’ve helped them recruit and hire. Furthermore, the majority of respondents said ERGs have helped overall employee well-being. “ERGs now are the ones that actually help employees navigate the difficult issues outside of work, too,” Nayani said.

Long-term success. Nayani explained that programs should be “an organizational objective, with goals and values associated with that support.” As programs grow, “an explicit commitment from senior leaders” is critical to success, Persson-Ramos said.

The reporting structure of an ERG program should ultimately lead to the CEO, Nayani said, and high-level leaders should sponsor individual ERGs. And the more participation ERGs have, the more opportunities there will be to connect individuals who wouldn’t typically cross paths, thus creating a deeper sense of community.

One of the hurdles program directors face is understanding and communicating the business value of ERGs. “I think people are hesitant as to how to assign data and numbers to the work that’s happening in the space,” Anisha Nandi, founder and CEO of Verbate, a startup focused on helping companies grow their ERG programs, said. “Things like engagement and retention and tying that to ERG work and showing the data [and] the numbers [prove] this work is real work that’s helped our business.”

Ramos recommended examining ERG activity and participation. “That probably is a good indication that whatever [leaders are] offering is meaningful to those employees.”

Looking ahead. Nandi said companies should look ahead to what she calls an “ERG 2.0” strategy, in which ERGs are wrapped into larger business functions. Intuit, for example, mentions diversity and ERGs during the recruitment process and then reminds new hires of the groups that are available to them in an effort to keep them engaged. “How can [employers] continue to put these communities more and more at the center of a company’s culture and strategy, whether it’s helping with recruiting or product or policy?” Nandi asked.

But to get there, ERG program directors, leaders, and members need support, Nandi emphasized, especially since most are part of marginalized communities. “It’s tough work. It’s emotional work. It’s real work. It’s so important, but there’s not a lot of support to actually help the people in seats that are doing it.”

Read the full article: ERGs from HR Brew

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