Get ready: Paid Family & Medical Leave is on its way!

All Washington employers must provide paid family and medical leave under a bill signed by Gov. Jay Inslee on July 5. 

The new law creates an insurance fund that employers and employees both pay into, with a 0.4 percent payroll tax. Payroll deductions will begin on Jan. 1, 2019, and benefits will become available to employees on Jan. 1, 2020.  https://www.paidleave.wa.gov/ 

Washington joins a handful of other states (California, New Jersey, Rhode Island and New York) to have enacted a paid-family-leave law. 

Quick Facts: 

  1. This statewide insurance plan requires employers to report employee wages, hours worked, and additional information every quarter. 

  2. Premiums are 0.4% of gross wages paid. 

  3. Premium collection begins in 2019 and claims for leave benefits start in 2020. 

  4. Workers can take leave for qualified events for up to 12 weeks generally, and up to 18 weeks under exceptional circumstances. 

  5. Businesses with fewer than 50 employees are not required to pay the employer portion of the premium but are required to collect and remit the employee portion of the premium and abide by all reporting requirements. 

  6. Small business assistance grants are available to businesses with 50-150 employees, and businesses with fewer than 50 employees who have opted-in to the employer share of the premium. 

  7. Voluntary plans are available to employers who want to manage a plan internally that meets or exceeds the state plan’s requirements. 

Download the Employer Tool Kit from ESD. This will give you the employee paystub insert.   https://paidleave.wa.gov/employers 

Confused? This shared benefit will bring peace of mind and increased wellbeing for many of our citizens here in Washington State beginning in 2020—but starting something big, new, and aspirational is often hard. We are happy to help! Call Clarity with you questions, for assistance setting up the payroll deduction, and for help with creating your plan for reporting to Washington ESD. (360) 385-9963.

Set Your New Hire Up for Success: The Secrets of Onboarding

You followed our 6 Steps for Hiring The Right Person, and you found a fantastic new candidate to join your team. How do you keep the positive momentum going? A thoughtful “onboarding” process is a critical component of successful entry for your new hire.

These first activities are most likely a new hire’s first impression of your organization and will set the tone for their experience.

1. First, have your hiring documents ready to go:

  • Employee offer letter

  • Job description (this protects you as an employer),

  • W4,

  • I-9,

  • DSHS New Hire Reporting Form,

  • Employee manual  *(We will write a future post with more detail about what to include in an employee handbook.)

2. Next, be sure to provide policy & procedure manuals. Clear and concise policy and procedure manuals are essential—they help protect your employees, and they help protect your business or organization from liability. Again, we will write a more detailed post on employee manuals soon, but for now, know they should cover these key topics:

  • Organizational values and expectations

  • Organizational compliance with applicable law

  • HR best practices specific to your industry.

  • Clear guidelines and expectations around equipment. ( Who owns the cell phone, PC or laptop being used remotely? Who is responsible for maintenance of those electronics?)

  • Policies around work hours, meals and breaks, workplace harassment, and vacation,sick, and family medical leave. (Every employee has a right to one hour of sick leave for 40 hours worked as per new Washington State law.)

3. Finally, create a plan and timeline for a 90-day Orientation Period. The orientation period happens after the initial onboarding meeting. In these first 90 days on the job, you’re providing training and support to your new hire (training should be your focus for the first 30 days, with scheduled check-ins throughout the 90-day period.)

In your initial orientation, outline your schedule for probationary period, and make it clear that there will be a performance assessment with termination if expectations aren’t being met. This will help provide legal cover if you need to terminate. We recommend you schedule check-ins for questions and constructive feedback at end of first week, then 30, 60, 90 days after. Get as much feedback as possible from the employee on what’s working for them and why. If possible, capture the highlights in a written report. This is a performance management component of an initial phase of employment.

Sometimes, for various reasons, an employee can get off to a rocky start; you can always choose to extend a probationary period beyond 90 days. But heads up: if someone is not succeeding in their orientation and probation period, they are unlikely to work out for your organization. You are more than likely seeing the best a person has to offer in the first 3 months. Extending the probationary period may just increase the amount of time (and money) you are investing in an employee who likely isn’t a good fit.

If you plan these activities into your 90-day onboarding process, your new employee will have clear direction around how their job functions, what their tasks and roles are, applicable team processes, performance metrics, and workplace expectations. When coupled with a great hiring process, a solid onboarding process helps strengthen your chances of having a productive, successful, long-standing employee. Good luck!

 

Top 5 Employee Motivators

1. Challenging Work—Providing your employees with challenging work does not mean over-loading or over-whelming them; it means that they are inspired to do more by being given challenges that help them feel more successful.

2. Recognition—Recognition is a powerful motivator.  Showing an employee that you recognize they bring their best effort to their work is key to employee satisfaction. Similarly, if an employee is unengaged in their work, recognition can bring an extra boost of confidence.

3. Employee Involvement—Your employees are aware of, and part of, the future goals of your organization. This is closely related to the practice of transparency, which means your employees see you actively engaged in work and trust that you’re keeping them up-to-date on what is going on with the organization. Work to create the sense that you are all in this together.

4. Job Security—Nothing will make employees disengage from an organization faster than fear they will lose their job. While you should aspire to create a work culture of transparency and employee involvement, take care to avoid sharing too much worrisome information about financial concerns, market issues, lagging sales, etc.  Helping your employees feel secure in the work they do will deepen their job satisfaction.

5. Compensation—While fair compensation is important, money sits at the bottom of this list of motivators. Increased compensation may bring employees through your door, but it doesn’t keep them for the long haul; no amount of money will keep someone in a work environment they are unhappy with.  

Six Steps to Hiring the Right Person for the Job

This article is excerpted from an HR best practices webinar that Clarity presented in partnership with Washington Nonprofits.

Human resources are the people that make up your workforce—from the largest corporation to the smallest business or nonprofit organization. They are the engine that power your ability to invent things, produce things, or deliver services. Humans bring the value to your enterprise. As a business or nonprofit organization, your employees are your greatest expense and your greatest opportunity.

Once hired, it takes 6 months for an employee to learn all aspects of their job, and an additional 6 months to become proficient at it. This means it takes a full year to begin to offset the cost and investment of the employer. To receive a return on investment of a full year of expenses associated with hiring, on-boarding, training, and supporting your new employee to proficiency, you really need to keep an employee for two years. This is why it’s important to find just the right fit for your position during the hiring process!

Here are six steps every organization should take to boost their chances of finding and hiring a great match.

1. Assess. First, take the opportunity to assess the needs of your organization. Do you have a strategic plan? Does the position you’re hiring for support the strategic needs of your company or organization? Is the position really needed? It could be that your organizational needs have evolved since you last hired. Would a restructuring of the position or different reporting structure better meet your needs and vision?

2. Determine organizational culture & values. This may be the most important facet of the hiring process. What are your organization’s core values, and how are those communicated to applicants, job candidates, and existing employees? If you have clearly identified your mission, values, and goals, you have a much better chance of honing in on a good match. A good match increases the likelihood that a candidate will be able to align with and adapt to the core values, expectations, and behaviors that make up an organization. A good match will minimize work drama, save money through reduced hiring and training, and increase retention.

3. Create, update, improve the job description. Make sure every employee has a job description containing the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to perform the core functions of that position. It can be short and sweet, or detailed and complex, depending on the needs of the position.

4. Advertise. First you should consider whether internal recruitment will best serve your needs. Internal recruitment brings the advantage of knowing whether a candidate is a good fit for your organizational culture; they also likely have existing knowledge of the job responsibilities and may be able to quickly come up to speed in a new role.

Sometimes there isn’t an internal candidate that would make a good fit. If you decide to advertise externally, cast as broad and diverse a net as possible. Here is a list of common sites for posting and searching job openings: Indeed.com, monster.com, Craig’s List, Philanthropy NW, LinkedIn.

If there are relevant membership organizations, industry organizations, or list-serves, include them, as well as local & regional newspapers. Are there any means of advertising in minority communities? This will encourage diversity in applications.

You may also decide you want to include a supplemental survey that gives you more information about what the candidate is looking for in a job, if they will be a good fit for the culture of the company, or whether they bring other sorts of skills, experience, or perspective that might be beneficial for your organization.

5. Screen. Screen applications with HR staff and the manager, or person on staff who has the greatest knowledge of the job requirements. Ensure the confidentiality of the application and resume screening process. Screen all applications and resumes for qualifications, values and mission fit, job experience and achievements, and references before going to the interview stage.

6. Interview. Only interview top candidates. Establish who will conduct the interview—will it be a single manager or team? Prepare 10 quality interview questions in advance; questions that provide a good sense of skill set and organizational fit. Maintain consistency between candidates of interview team and questions asked.

This may seem like an exhaustive and exhausting process, but we can’t stress this enough—hiring the wrong person can be an expensive, time consuming mistake.  Hiring the right person for your job can bring stability, sustainability, and significant return on investment.

With a little luck, and a lot of legwork, this six-step process can yield an excellent candidate for your position.

Next month we’ll talk about the on-boarding process. Can't wait until then? Watch the recorded webinar here: The Lifecycle of an Employee: HR Best Practices

 

 

 

Why Human Resources Management is Essential for Small Business

By Lisa Minnihan, MBA-HRM

What is Human Resources Management (HRM), and why is it important to your business? Human resources are the people that make up your workforce—from the largest corporation to the smallest business or nonprofit organization. They are the engine that power your ability to invent things, produce things, fix things, sell things, or deliver services. Humans bring much of the value to your enterprise.

When your team is strong, healthy, and efficient, you can stretch to reach your goals. When you must spend a lot of time putting out fires, untangling messes, or managing high employee turnover, you don’t have the time or resources to fulfill your core mission. Chronic personnel issues can serve as a slow bleed for your bottom line; the loss of a key employee or two can be like a hemorrhage as you scramble to recruit, interview, hire, and train replacements.

This is why Human Resources Management can make a difference to your profitability. Human Resources programs help create organizational structure, develop job descriptions, maintain employee manuals, manage employee benefits packages, conduct performance reviews, manage training and professional development opportunities, ensure employee satisfaction and motivation, address discrimination and harassment issues, and ensure businesses are following employment law. They help everyone understand roles, responsibilities, performance expectations, and what to do if there’s a problem.

It’s a lot. Many small organizations don’t have the time, energy, or expertise to create and maintain a dedicated human resources program, and they may not have the resources to hire a dedicated staff person. But that doesn’t mean they should turn a blind eye. Besides protecting you from legal exposure, I believe HRM is a key ingredient to small business success.

Over the next several months we will share a series of short articles that can help you think about Human Resources Management issues in your small business or nonprofit. They will focus on a topic, introduce a few ideas, and provide resources for digging deeper. 2018 is a good year to build a Human Resources Management program that will help you survive and thrive for years to come!

Need some help right now? Call 385-9963, or email me at lisa(at)clarityei.com to set up a conversation.

New Sick Leave Law Begins January 1, 2018

Washington State’s paid sick leave initiative, I-1433, will go into effect on January 1, 2018.  While this initiative covers new minimum wage rates for future years and important language regarding tips and service charges, most of the initiative revolves around the new requirement of Washington State employers to provide paid sick leave to employees. Wondering if this applies to your business? Chances are good that it does!
 
As a part of the State’s Minimum Wage Act, as of January 1st, employers must provide most employees with 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked.  Employees entitled to paid sick leave are those covered by the Minimum Wage Act.  The initiative covers when and how employees may use their paid sick leave, exact increments of sick leave accrual vs. usage, for whom paid sick leave can be used, notification and reporting requirements, regulations on record-keeping, and employer parameters around reasonable notification and lawful use. 
 
If you are interested in learning more about how implementation of this initiative will impact your business, two local workshops will be held in January: 1/11 and 1/25, at the Chamber / EDC Team Jefferson classroom. Each will include a core presentation from Washington State L&I, followed by question and answer with Clarity's HR expert Lisa Minnihan, and attorney Eileen Baratuci of AIM Services.

Co-presenting partners include Clarity, Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, EDC Team Jefferson, Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, and AIM Services. 

There are a limited number of spaces in each workshop, so don't delay! For details, and to register, send your name, the name of your business, and your contact information to Lisa Minnihan at lisa@clarityei.com.  

10 Tips to Help You Stay on Top of Your Books

Whether you are outsourcing your bookkeeping or doing your own books in-house, as the leader in your organization you need to know your financial information is reliable.  Understanding "best practices" and incorporating them into your own business processes will help you get data you can trust, so you can make the decisions that are best for your business. 

Here are some tips to help you stay on top of the books:

1.     Get or stay involved!  Knowing what the system is and how it works helps keep you, the director of this show, in the know. A broad understanding of the way the books work will help you to make informed decisions regarding processes, and to understand the capabilities and limitations of the data. If you need education ask questions, do some research, or take a class.  Finances are not everyone’s favorite topic – but it is vital to the success of your organization!  And in particular, if you are a board member for a non-profit, it is part of your fiduciary responsibility to each donor.

2.     Make the most of the data.  The information that is being entered into your bookkeeping system is used fulfill state and federal requirements (taxes,) but what else are you using the data for?  Make the data work for you. Set up reports to help you zero in on areas that help you manage your organization.

3.     Have your processes documented.  Focus on the how as well as the what. We know that processes are often undergoing change as the way we do business changes, but it is important to document this as a protection for your organization. Updating this periodically is an opportunity to review and make adjustments as circumstances change.

4.     Never have your bookkeeper as a signer on your account.  Naturally, access to accounts is helpful, but there must be checks and balances and this is a big one. Have your bookkeeper manage the entry and classification of transactions, but allow for having another person to authorize the bill payments or payroll deposits. 

5.     Make sure you see the bank statement each month.  Are you familiar with all the activity you see?  All deposits, transfers and checks written?

6.     Check in with your tax professional mid-year or 3rd quarter in addition to tax time.  Your tax professional needs to know what is going on with your business so that if you need it, you have time to implement their recommendations to save tax dollars.

7.     Cross-train your staff. Plan for the unexpected! It is not unheard of to find yourself in a compromised position due to illness or sudden changes. Remember, this is a team – make sure you have some backup.

8.     Set a regular time to meet and review your financials.  Reviewing sales, projecting cash flow, estimating upcoming expenses and liability payments are some of the things you should be reviewing on a regular basis. This could be weekly, monthly, or something else, depending on your organization’s need. If it is a date with yourself, your in-house support or if you outsource the work, consistency creates a window of time where you know these items will be addressed and allows you to get on with your other tasks.

9.     Create systems to help your organization’s efficiency.  Something as simple as coding your transactions when they are approved relieves so much verbal communication – sometimes words can be misinterpreted, but a number is definitive.  Any effort made to streamline this work makes it more reliable and lets you get to other parts of business that need your attention.

10.  Provide your staff and yourself with support.  Invest in the time to explore how this part of your business can provide valuable information. Invest in documentation and processes to support and assist your mission. Invest in your staff to provide training to help them do the best job they can. 

Happy Spring!

Bring growth and vitality to your business with an infusion of energy, fresh ideas, and new knowledge--take a class, attend a workshop, and participate in a networking event. Perhaps you're ready to hire new staff, or even shift gears in your professional life. Piggyback on the natural energy boost that comes with lengthening days and warmer weather to spring into a new chapter of success with your business, nonprofit, or career. See a list of opportunities below!

Ready to Hire?

Already growing this spring? Clarity can help you recruit and hire new employees! We offer a full suite of Human Resources solutions; in addition to coordinating hiring activities, we can also help you develop new employee benefits programs, create employee handbooks, and protect you from liability. If you'd like to have a conversation about your human resource needs, contact us at (360) 385-9963, or hr@clarityei.com

Ready for a New Adventure?

Clarity is seeking a resourceful, experienced Finance Director/Consultant to work with a variety of non-profit and small business clients. Flexible schedule; we welcome applicants seeking part-time of full-time work. Accounting degree and senior financial management experience required; CPA qualifications and consulting experience a plus. Based in Port Townsend. Please send resume and cover letter including desired salary to hr@clarityei.com.

Upcoming Events

April 15thFree public screening and networking event featuring the film "Tomorrow," 1-5:30 pm at Chimacum HS Auditorium & Commons, 91 West Valley Rd, Chimacum. Conversation topics covered will include local food, energy, transportation, waste, education, health and wellness, affordable housing, emergency preparedness, environment/climate change and the local economy. For a taste of this inspiring movie, check out the trailer

Event sponsors include: Local 20/20, Chimacum School District, Port Townsend Film Festival, Rose Theatre and Students for Sustainability. 

April 17th: Jefferson County Chamber Lunch Meeting with Lorna Mann, Director of the Port Townsend Visitor Information Center. 12- 1 pm, Fort Worden Commons. "Tales from the VIC: Find out how a presence in the Visitor Information Center can help your business and hear some of the weird and wacky questions that the VIC fields 7 days a week."

April 18th & 19thStarting a Business & Business Planning, with Tina Flores-McCleese. 9:30 - 1:30, Elwha Heritage Center, 401 E 1st, Port Angeles. Part of the "Small Business Series" hosted by the Elwha Klallam Tribe. $25, or $75 for the whole series. Call 360-417-8545 x 2909 for more information or to reserve a seat.

Earth Day! Saturday, April 22, 2017. Consider rounding up your employees and commit to a few volunteer hours to support and build community. Volunteers are invited to help on several downtown Port Townsend cleanup/weeding and painting projects from 9 am to 12 noon. Contact the Port Townsend Main Street office at 360 385-7911 or email admin@ptmainstreet.org if you would like to volunteer for the Earth Day Spring Clean-Up activities – or organize something of your own nearer to home! 

April 24th: Marketing & Social Media for Your Business, with Courtney Nestler of Bright Light Solutions. 9:30 - 1:30, Elwha Heritage Center, 401 E 1st, Port Angeles. Part of the "Small Business Series" hosted by the Elwha Klallam Tribe. $25, or $75 for the whole series. Call 360-417-8545 x 2909 for more information or to reserve a seat.

May 1stJefferson County Chamber Lunch Meeting with Earll Murman & Jay Bakst. 12-1 pm, Port Townsend Elks Lodge. Learn about LEAN thinking, and the work that Earll and Jay have been doing to help grow a LEAN community in Jefferson County. 

May 8th: HR Basics: Managing the Human Side of Business, with Candace Monroe of Clarity Enterprises. 9:30 - 1:30, Elwha Heritage Center, 401 E 1st, Port Angeles. Part of the "Small Business Series" hosted by the Elwha Klallam Tribe. $25, or $75 for the whole series. Call 360-417-8545 x 2909 for more information or to reserve a seat.

May 9th: Jefferson County Chamber After Hours Mixer at the Port Townsend Library. 5:30 - 7:00 pm, PT Public Library. Come for networking, food, drinks, and fun!

May 15th: Advanced: Marketing & Social Media for your Business, with Courtney Nestler of Bright Light Solutions. 9:30 - 1:30, Elwha Heritage Center, 401 E 1st, Port Angeles. Part of the "Small Business Series" hosted by the Elwha Klallam Tribe. $25, or $75 for the whole series. Call 360-417-8545 x 2909 for more information or to reserve a seat.

May 17th2017 Washington State Nonprofit Conference, Bellevue Meydenbauer Center. Gather with over 700 nonprofit leaders from our state, and learn about increasing equity, staying current, and going green. To learn more and register, follow the link above.

May 30th: Advanced HR Solutions: Flexible & Creative Strategies to Manage Your People, with Candace Monroe of Clarity Enterprises. 9:30 - 1:30, Elwha Heritage Center, 401 E 1st, Port Angeles. Part of the "Small Business Series" hosted by the Elwha Klallam Tribe. $25, or $75 for the whole series. Call 360-417-8545 x 2909 for more information or to reserve a seat.

Critical Update! Last Minute Block to FLSA Overtime Rules Changes

A federal district court Judge has granted a Nationwide preliminary injunctionagainst the much-discussed new FLSA overtime rules, just eight days before they were scheduled to come into effect.

Many employers have already raised salaries or informed exempt employees that they would receive a pay increase to more than $47,476, effective December 1. Other employers have informed exempt employees whose salaries are under the threshold that they will now be considered hourly employees and eligible for overtime.

For the time being, employers no longer have an obligation under the FLSA to make such changes to pay practices. However, from an employee morale perspective, it could be very difficult for employers that have announced a raise to renege on that promise. Employers who have informed employees of changes and now plan to rescind those changes as a result of the preliminary injunction should seek legal advice.

For 'Up to the Minute' HR news on this issue over the coming days and weeks, visit The Society for Human Resource Management.

Human Resources Health - New Overtime Rules

In May 2016, the Department of Labor released its final ruling on a monumental revision to the Overtime Exemption Regulations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA.) These rules come into effect on December 1, 2016. This article has been created to provide a quick reference to the rules and terms, a summary of the changes, and a resource for employers to ensure their ongoing compliance. 

Exempt employees, because of the type of work that they do and their rate of pay, are not eligible for overtime pay for hours worked in excess of 40 hours in one work week. Non-exempt employees must be paid at least time and a half for any hours worked in excess of 40 in a work week. This rule is not new. The changes that have been made are regarding the minimum rate of pay for an exempt employee. 

What ARE the rules? 

In simple terms, the conditions for exempt status, from December 1, is as follows: 

  1. The employee must work in an administrative, executive or professional capacity 
  2. The employee must be paid a salary of at least $47,476 per year (this has increased from $23,660 previously) 

Employees who do not earn at least $47,476 per year (or $913 per week) must be paid overtime, regardless of if they are classified as a manager or professional.  

The salary threshold will be updated every 3 years to keep in line with inflation. The first update will be on January 1, 2020. 

Some frequently asked questions: 

I have employees in this category, what do I do? 

You must either increase this employee’s or these employees’ salary or salaries to meet the new minimum, or pay this employee overtime for hours worked in excess of 40 in one work week. 

What is a “work week”?  

An employer may determine its own standard work week for payroll purposes. The week must be a consist of seven 24-hour days in a row. For example, an employer may select its work week to run Monday through Sunday, or Sunday through Saturday. The employer cannot change this work week once established, and must inform all new employees of the boundaries of the week. 

Can I use bonuses or commissions as a substitute for a base increase to make up the minimum? 

Nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments can be used to satisfy up to 10% of the salary test requirement. Should an employee not earn enough including nondiscretionary bonuses to meet the salary test requirements in any one quarter, a catch-up payment OR overtime pay for the preceding quarter will be required. 

Where do I go to get more information, or to get help? 

The Department of Labor website at dol.gov and the Washington State Department of Labor at dol.wa.gov provide in-depth information and fact sheets on this and other labor topics.  

Clarity can provide a review of your HR files and practices, as part of our HR Services offering. Please contact us to get a quote or discuss how we can help you. 

Candace Monroe, Clarity Enterprises

Clarity offers a full range of HR solutions to suit individual needs and budgets. From assistance with recruitment through a full-service HR department-on-demand, outsourcing your HR function allows you to concentrate internal resources on your core business, and look outward for expertise.