Emergency Coronavirus Leave, Sick Pay and Your Small Business

To all our clients, friends and partners, I wanted to share a quick update to be sure you are aware of the most recent, business and HR-related changes in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and impacts on small businesses.

The U.S. Treasury, IRS and U.S. DOL have announced that small and midsized employers (those with less than 500 employees), can begin taking advantage of new refundable payroll tax credits, which have been designed to reimburse employers for the cost of providing Coronavirus-related leave to their employees. This relief is provided under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and signed by President Trump on 3/18/20.  If you know about this new provision, you are most likely feeling concerned with how to follow and administer the leave as well as what it may mean for small businesses and employees.

If you are unaware or unsure how this impacts you, here is a quick overview of what was signed last week:

The Emergency FMLA & Emergency Sick pay goes into effect on 4/2/20 and sunsets on 12/31/2020.  These new provisions apply to almost all businesses with less than 500 employees, even the smallest of companies with are subject to the paid leave provisions and job protection.  As you can imagine, small companies that are not typically required to provide paid leave or job-protected leave (like FMLA) are unclear how to administer and move forward with these new regulations.

This is an overwhelming concern especially given the current business slowdown and financial burden this new paid sick leave may create.  In response, the IRS & DOL will immediately be offering paid leave credits, dollar for dollar, for companies that are impacted by having to pay the emergency sick leave.

These are important regulations for our economy and the well-being of our employees and overall U.S. workforce, but it does create a lot of questions on how to administer this leave, who is eligible, how to track and ultimately how to be reimbursed.  This law is still be defined and in the days to come, we are told we will have clear and simple guidelines to follow.  The full announcement can be found here: Treasury, IRS, and Labor Announcement on FFCRA Implementation.

Meanwhile, there are some things you can and should do to prepare:

  • If you have more than two employees, you’ll need to be able to track your employee’s leave as it relates to the pandemic, so ensure you have a system in place now to do this.  Most payroll or HRIS Solutions can do this for you but a spreadsheet will work too.  For the reimbursement, you’ll most likely need to track time that an employee is unable to work due to the following reasons:
    • They are under quarantine
    • They are experiencing symptoms or a diagnosis of Covid-19
    • They are caring for someone in Quarantine, with symptoms or a diagnosis of Covid-19
    • They are caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed due to the pandemic
  • Add a line to your P&L call Covid-19, begin tracking all of the additional expenses you have incurred through this pandemic here.

Additionally, as you know, this is a tough time for everyone.  No one is unaffected by what is happening in the world, as your human resource partner, let’s not forget the human component as we work through this together.

  • Ensure your employees have what they need to work remotely, this may mean investing in additional equipment for effective remote working and allowing for flexibility relating to childcare needs.
  • Check-in with your employees, ask and make sure managers are doing the same with their team.
  • Do what you can to keep morale up during this time, we need leaders now more than ever, be that leader!  Use tools to promote social connections (video conferencing, slack, 1:1’s, team meetings, even a virtual happy hour, it can be done!
  • Employees are watching to see what you do during this critical time, pay attention to the small things, celebrate the wins and highlight the positives in your employer branding and social shares.  Give and be generous in what you do.
  • Remind your employees of any sort of Telemedicine benefit that you have available.  Often medical carriers have this option included, if you are unsure if you do, check with your broker.
  • Remind your employees of your available Employee Assistance Program, again this may be a benefit included with your medical carrier.  EAP programs can help your employees through any sort of stress or mental health concerns as well as provide Financial & Legal advice.  Most programs allow for estate and will planning services as well. Not to insight fear, but these are questions employees are asking and thinking about during this time of uncertainty.

My team and I are here to help you through this time, please let us know if we can help in any other way and if you’d like to schedule a call to review this or any other concerns, you can schedule a time on my calendar here.

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Attract and Hire, the perfect match!

Valentine’s Day has come and gone and some of you may still be basking in the post-Valentine’s Day glow (aka sugar coma) and are back in the office.  This is the perfect time to talk about ways you can show you care to those people you are trying to attract the most…your job candidates!!

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Everyone knows a strong foundation is key to any great relationship, and this applies to those we work with and those we are trying to hire!  In recruiting, our experience has shown that a little extra effort to ensure candidates feel you care about them can go a long way!

The Hiring Framework

Developing an effective Hiring Framework sets the stage for your candidate’s experience and ensures you can maintain, automate and deliver with every hire you make!  It’s great to attract talent but being able to find the perfect match in your next hire is what really matters!

It sounds like a lot of work and it certainly can be without having an effective process in place.  We’ve become experts in defining this process and leveraging the right technology to automate specific steps in the hiring process for our clients. We love to leverage our ATS partner, JazzHR which gives even our smallest clients the ability to do all of the above, each and every time they hire.

A few key areas that an ATS can help simplify this include crafting compelling job postings that syndicate out to multiple sourcing platforms with one click,  leveraging templates to create personalized candidate communication and having a central system for all candidates to be managed.  This also helps in setting expectations for everyone involved from hiring managers to onboarding coordinators!

The hiring processes can be lengthy and time-consuming, so take the time to build relationships with candidates, show you truly care and follow through on promises. Simple strategies like providing clear communication, setting and keeping expectations and giving the candidates timely feedback can ensure your candidates feel valued and build trust, even if they aren’t the right fit for the role.  You never know who may become your next great hire!

“When I tell candidates that I’ll do something, I do it.  If I promise to keep a top candidate in mind for future opportunities, I do.  It builds trust and credibility when I call them back.  It’s important to provide that service to exceed expectations to our candidates, clients and partners.” Lily Rincon, Talent Consultant.

Love what you see? Contact our team to develop the perfect Hiring Framework, implement JazzHR or get more information about our on-demand, hourly recruiting services today! 

What you need to know about the new 2020 W4

It’s everyone’s favorite time of year, tax season. Keeping up with changes to tax regulations is not exactly top of mind until it’s time to prepare taxes. You are also probably not ready to face the fact that there are major changes to this year’s tax code. Don’t panic and call your accountant, again.

Here’s what you need to know about changes to your employees’ Form W-4:

In 2017, Congress approved major tax reform in the Tax Cuts and Job Acts, which has been enacted and takes effect in 2020.

New employees hired in 2020 need to fill out the redesigned Form W-4.

While employees hired prior to 2020 are not required to submit a new Form W-4, their withholdings will continue based on a form that was previously provided. According to the IRS, the new design “replaces complicated worksheets with more straightforward questions that make accurate withholding easier for employees.” Well, that’s promising, but we still would not recommend bringing up tax reform at your next company happy hour.

The new Form W-4 no longer calculates “allowances”

Employees should use the Tax Withholding Estimator to ensure that the right amount of federal income tax is withheld from their wages.  

For a step-by-step guide on how to fill out the 2020 W-4 form, check out our partner, Gusto’s Employer’s Guide to the 2020 W-4.

Can you fall in love with payroll? The answer is a resounding, yes! It’s a practical love but we are truly in love. We are proud to partner with Gusto to offer full-service payroll, including W-2s, 1099s, federal, state, and local taxes and more. Gusto automatically calculates, deposits and files your payroll taxes. That means that you don’t have to add your CPA to your favorite contacts this tax season. Find out more about why 100,000+ businesses choose Gusto.

Creating a pet-friendly work environment

As my 8-month-old Rhodesian Ridgeback lays snoring beside me, I can’t help but be grateful that she is past that young puppy stage that made it impossible to do anything but keep my eyes on her, replace shoes with chew toys and monitor her potty breaks all day.

Through those first few weeks with her at home, I consider myself lucky to have had the flexibility to manage my schedule and work from home as needed, but for others in a more structured office or workspace, bringing home a new puppy or other pet can be tough.  Those first few days are the hardest and trying to establish a routine, develop trust and get your new fur-baby acclimated to their new home while working can be a challenge.

As organizations look to provide perks that will not only attract and retain key talent, many are coming to realize that offering more pet-friendly benefits, like allowing dogs in the workplace, is key.  Pet-friendly benefits can be effective (and inexpensive) options for attracting new talent, improving culture and even promoting employee wellness.

Over the last few years, we’ve seen these pet-friendly trends increase.  Many millennials are delaying having children, opting instead to welcome a dog or other pet into their lives as their “starter” family.  Given that millennials are the largest segment of our workforce, this is significant and may explain the increase in some of these pet-friendly policies.

But not every company can allow for pets in the workplace.  Most professional office spaces don’t allow for dogs in the office building or space.  But don’t worry, even if you can’t allow pets in the workplace, you can still offer pet-supportive benefits that promote a pet loving culture.  This could be as simple as crafting a new policy or any of the following ideas:

  • Pet health insurance
  • Pet bereavement leave
  • Pawternity policies – allowing employees to work from home for the first week after bringing home a new fur-baby
  • Animal-related volunteer excursion
  • Dogs in the workplace policy

There are so many ways to create an awesome culture, knowing what is important to your employees is key!  If your employees consider their pets as part of the family, having policies that align with this value can improve your culture, employee satisfaction, and even promote employee wellness.  Have fun, get creative and embrace the flexibility of our workforce!

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My sweet office mate on her favorite JazzHR blanket!

Regardless of whether an office allows pets, service animals must be allowed to accompany a person with a disability, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). That said, animals whose sole function is to provide comfort do not qualify as service animals under the ADA, although some state and local laws allow emotional support animals in the workplace.

How to perfect your Framework to Hire

The War for Talent is nothing new and with the labor market the tightest it has been in over 50 years, finding and retaining talent can be a struggle for companies of all sizes.   There may have been a time in your business that you were able to hire and onboard team members easily.  However, there comes a point in every company’s growth when hiring becomes more challenging, the organization grows and becomes more complex with multiple hiring managers who each have their owns needs and wants.

The good news is that as with almost every area of business operations, recruiting and hiring can be very process driven. Yes, it is a People function but defining and following a clear hiring process or framework is key to ensuring your company can scale and hire right!

When we engage with our clients, we develop a hiring framework specific to their needs.  From the recruiting engagement kickoff, we work to define the recruiting strategy, process and steps to ensure the framework to hire can be easily followed, automated and streamlined.

Developing your “Framework to Hire”

Every company that is hiring, needs or may even have a Framework to Hire.  The question is, how effective and streamlined is your hiring process?  Are you sourcing a good candidate pool and hiring the right people?  Do you find by the time you extend the offer, your top candidate has slipped away?  Is your turnover high in the first 90 days? Is it time to up your recruiting game?

We have developed countless recruiting strategies over the years, enabling our clients to onboard thousands of new hires, from seasonal/contract staff to interns, executives and everything in between.

This is a proven Framework to Hire that works!  Here are the primary steps to consider, define and execute and we can help you every step of the way:

  1. Identification of need. This step may seem like common sense, but clients often come to us with the need to fill position XYZ but have no clear idea what this person will be doing in the role, what skills, knowledge or ability they need to have, what the salary range may be etc.  We help our clients craft a clear job posting that outlines the position, responsibilities and skills required.
  2. Cast your net.  We approach the sourcing of candidates as a multi-pronged strategy.  We believe that you cast a wide net, but clearly define what you are looking for.  We include employment deal breakers in the job posting (as applicable by law) and the application so we can funnel out candidates that would not be eligible for hire.  Be clear about required and relevant education, certifications, background check specifications, office hours, job location etc.
  3. Screen, Interview and Vet.  This is where the magic happens!  We design an automated and streamlined screening process so quality time can be allocated to the candidate interview process.  While unique to each organization, it often follows a process like this and can be managed in your ATS:
    • Review resume
    • Pre-screen
    • Phone screen
    • Phone interview
    • Face-to-face interview(s)
  4. Post interview Negotiation. You have found your perfect candidate and are ready to move to offer…now you need to negotiate and close them.  Now is the time to request references, review background check requirements, review compensation requirements and any other items you need to cover before an offer can be extended.
  5. Pre-close!  Our favorite part of the process that sets the stage for onboarding.  This is an opportunity to have a quick call with your final candidate, ask any further questions you may have and allow them to do the same.  Next, let them know you are interested in moving toward an offer and outline the basics of what that may look like, repeating any pre-hire requirements and next steps. This gives the applicant an opportunity to express their interest or bring up any areas they may need to negotiate before moving forward. The pre-close conversation makes it easy to get required approvals needed to put a formal offer together. You likely know the candidate is ready to accept, so this quick conversation is a win/win for everyone.
  6. First Day Welcome.  From acceptance of an offer to the employees first day is just as important in continuing to communicate with your new hire, finalize the background check, confirm start date, and makes sure your onboarding process is ready for their first day! Don’t leave your new hire in the dark during this time, communicate with them to confirm first day specifics including where and what time to report, I9 documents requirements, team information etc.

This hiring process has been proven to improve your quality of hire,  overall candidate experience, and reduce your costs and time to hire.

It’s time for your company to leverage this resource and begin recruiting effectively. You need to hire, we can help!

Schedule a free discovery call for a free hiring process review

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“I have a dream…”

Monday, January 21, 2019 we celebrate MLK Day.  Every year, I think about what this day means, to some it’s just a day off school.  Others may work for an organization that includes MLK as a company paid holiday.  To me, it’s so much more than a national holiday, it’s a day that I try to reflect upon as it is the root of my core beliefs and what led me to my field of human resources.

We know that Martin Luther King Jr. led the nonviolent civil rights movement and made dramatic improvements possible during his life.  However this legacy he left has impacted us in ways you may not realize, he has forever left a legacy that goes far beyond his life and assassination 50 years ago.

As the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, his initiatives helped form the civil rights movement. He led massive nonviolent protests in the ’60s throughout the South into DC & Chicago. These protests brought light to discriminatory hiring practices; segregated public places, restrooms and public housing; as well as denial of voting rights and so many more inequalities.

If you haven’t recently listened to the “I have a Dream” address that King delivered back in 1963 at the great march in Washington for jobs and freedom, now is a great time, given all our country is going through, the divisions among us and the inequalities still happening today.

I for one am always moved when I listen to his words, his urging to make good on our promise of democracy is certainly something to behold. I listen every year and without fail, I get choked up, my favorite line is always:

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.  I have a dream today.”

King’s influence on civil rights did not end with his death. His legacy has been the enactment of numerous statutes prohibiting discrimination in the workplace, the issuance of Supreme Court decisions furthering the civil rights cause and the advancement of all people.

From SHRM, I found the following timeline which is significant as employer look at the progression of civil rights, and the reach far beyond what Mr. King may have envisioned back in 1957.  This timeline outlines some of the notable milestones for workplaces around the country in the long, ongoing struggle for equal rights.

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As I think about this day and spend it with my family, and think about the divisions in our country and government, I’m going to think about these words and the strong current of hope for our future, I hope you do the same:

“I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.  It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.”

and of course, we all know that:

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Hire Ventures does Payroll #withGusto

Is it time to consider switching payroll providers?

Hire Ventures and Gusto have partnered together to simplify your small business payroll needs with big-time features! Gusto makes payroll so easy, you’ll wonder why you didn’t switch sooner! The set-up is a snap and it integrates seamlessly with all of the most popular accounting software programs.

What is Gusto?

Gusto – an all-in-one platform for payroll, benefits, & compliance.

noun – great enjoyment, energy, and enthusiasm

Ex. Hire Ventures does HR and Recruiting #withGusto

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Payroll Made Easy.

End-of-year is fast approaching, and it’s the perfect time to change payroll providers! There’s no shortage of options out there, but for a small business, we recommend checking out our partner provider: Gusto.

And with Gusto handling year-end filings and W-2s for free, you ’ll save money since many other providers charge for these extras.

We recommend starting the new year #withGusto!

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Start off the new tax year with an easier payroll provider.

Gusto is offering free implementation services to ALL Hire Ventures referrals.  Check it out and if you have any questions we can help you through, let us know!  And, if you are ready to get started, sign up here.

Ghosting and the Candidate Experience

Halloween has come and gone and leading up the big event, I’ve seen so many emails, articles and blogs referencing “ghosting”.  Most of them are work-related ghosting references about applicants or new hires “ghosting” a company.

I find that more often, it’s the company or recruiter that “ghosts” candidates.

In this incredibly tight job market, one that we are working so hard to source and identify quality candidates, the candidate experience is super important.  This applies to all candidates, even those that are unqualified or not the perfect fit for your position.

The candidate experience does matter and you should care.  Here are the top reasons why this is important.

  1. Todays “not the right fit” candidate could be tomorrows “perfect fit” candidate.  Giving them a great experience regardless of if you hire them now is key.  Don’t leave them hanging or wondering when they’ll hear back after that phone or in-person interview.  Cut them loose, that “rejected” candidate may very well know someone who would be perfect for your role, or become a potential customer, client or partner.
  2. Having a good recruiting and hiring experience can often grant you forgiveness if other HR processes are not perfectly executed.  A difficult onboarding for a new hire, not having the right access or equipment ready on their first day, or perhaps an issue with the first paycheck can set the tone for the entire employee relationship.  But, if coming in the door they feel great about the way they’ve been treated in the hiring process, it’s easier for them to look past those bumps in the road early on.  Important because once you hire them, you want to keep them!

It’s not hard to do this if you have the right system and processes in place.  The key is not only having a system in place but having it set up correctly, to make it easy for your team to communicate with candidates throughout the process.  Even small companies can have a robust applicant tracking system, for less than the cost of a job posting (check out our favorite system JazzHR).  An ATS that is set up correctly can do so much to ensure a good candidate experience, including hiring stages and easy to use email templates that can be personalized, emails that can be automated and even scheduled in advance (Batch recruiting made easy).

If you haven’t considered your candidate experience in some time, or perhaps ever, do it now!  This is the tightest job market our country has seen in over 30 years.  Investing in a good candidate experience is a win/win for all.

With so much of life,

it’s the small things that make a difference.

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If you need help defining and setting up your recruiting and hiring process, let me know!

Preparing for Election Day 11.6.18

Election Day 2018 is fast approaching and with everything going on in our political landscape, it will be a record turnout at the polls.  This could have an impact on your business so it’s a good idea to review your time off to vote policies now to minimize disruption on November 6th.

As an employer, you not only have an obligation to ensure your employees can take time off to vote but it may also be mandated by state law. While there is no federal law that outlines time off to vote, over half of the states in the US have laws that do.

State laws vary from state to state, some even outline the amount of notice an employee must provide to request time off to vote, others may even require advance postings of their policy to employees.

While some states have no time-off requirements, Georgia law requires that employees are granted time off to vote, if they cannot vote during non-working hours.  Georgia employers must provide two hours of leave to vote in “any municipal, county, state, or federal political party primary or election for which such employee is qualified and registered to vote.”  Employees in Georgia must provide reasonable notice to their employers and to be eligible they must not otherwise have two hours outside of work to attend the polls and vote.

I’ve typically seen Georgia employers have a simple, yet clear policy allowing time off to vote, up to two hours, if employees cannot get to the polls during non-working time.  This time off request may be submitted and approved however you would normally process time off requests but shouldn’t be deducted from PTO or other time off policy balances.

Click here if you would like to receive a free Time Off to Vote policy that you can copy and paste into your employee handbook.  Keep in mind this is a Georgia specific policy so be sure to check your state law and edit as needed.  If you are unsure of your state-specific law, I’m happy to help clarify that for you or you can check with your employment attorney.

Lastly, don’t forget to communicate this to your employees, encourage and support them to get out there and vote!

Election-2018

Georgia Distracted Driver Law and your employer responsibility!



Cell phones are part of everyday life, both at work and at home.  We use our phones for everything, email communication, banking, staying connected via social sites, navigation, texting and occasionally, to make calls. The cell phone has come a long way over the last 40+ years, with most almost all cell phones being considered “smart phones” in 2018.  With all of this love for technology, it is easy to become dependent on these small devices and states are no cracking down.  Beginning July 1st, Georgia’s new ‘Hands-Free Georgia Act’, commonly referred to as the GA Distracted Driver Law is in effect.  This new law will require drivers to use hands-free technology when using cell phones and other electronic devices while driving.

What is a distracted driver?

A distracted driver is someone who has taken their eyes off the road in order to send a text, change navigation, talk on the phone, or use it in any way while driving. Using your phone in the car seems trivial. Most use their phone to play music or to navigate to their destination. As harmless as this sounds, using your phone in a motor vehicle can harness some serious consequences. In 2015, 391,000 people were injured in a car accident due to a distracted driver, yikes!  That’s a lot of potential employer liability if the injuries occurred while driving and working.

What this means for Employers in Georgia:

If you are a Georgia employer, or have employees in Georgia, you need to ensure your policies and practices enforce Safe Driving. This means ensuring your employee handbook or other driving/safety policy language includes some sort of the following information:

“While driving employees are not permitted to hold or support, with any part of the body, a cell phone or stand-alone electronic device (like an iPod or GPS). That employees are further not permitted to write, send or receive any text-based communication while holding a device.

Employees are permitted to speak or text while using hands-free technology, a smart watch or an earpiece.  And may also safely use a GPS system or mapping app (assuming you are not holding this device).”

If your company has any employees that drive to work, drive for work or carry a smart phone with work email or other work-related apps, this new law concerns your business!

If you need any assistance updating your employee handbook to cover this new law, or if you would like a free Driving Policy download, feel free to download it from The HR shop:

Safe Driving

Stay safe ya’ll!