IRS’ first FAQ on paid-leave credit answers some key questions

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Employers finally have federal guidance regarding the paid-leave tax credit created under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), but that guidance is likely to fall short of what many firms were expecting.

In fact, in the initial FAQ on the tax-credit, the IRS even said it will eventually offer more comprehensive guidance for employers. But until that additional guidance comes, employers will have to make do with what the feds just rolled out.

12.5% to 25% credit

What employers already knew about the credit: It was established for employers that provide paid family and medical leave, as described under the FMLA, to employees for wages paid between Jan. 1, 2018, and Dec. 31, 2019 and will sunset unless Congress decides to extend it. Employees on leave must be paid at least 50% of their normal wages while on leave.

The tax credit ranges from 12.5-25% of the amount of wages paid to a worker during leave, depending on exactly how much of their normal wages are actually paid out. The credit only applies to those who earn below $72,000 and doesn’t apply if by paid leave is mandated by their state or local law.

While the FAQ essentially reiterated a lot of what was in the TCJA, it did clarify what constitutes “paid family and medical leave” under the credit:

  • Birth of an employee’s child and to care for the child.
  • Placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care.
  • To care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition.
  • A serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of his or her position.
  • Any qualifying exigency due to an employee’s spouse, child, or parent being on covered active duty (or having been notified of an impending call or order to covered active duty) in the Armed Forces.
  • To care for a service member who is the employee’s spouse, child, parent, or next of kin.

In addition, if employers provide paid vacation, personal, medical or sick leave that isn’t specifically for one of those reasons, it will not be considered family and medical leave for the purposes of the tax credit.

The FAQ also clarified how employers must calculate the credit. For example, companies must reduce their deductions for wages paid by the amount of any tax credit for paid leave.

The attorneys over at Winston & Strawn LLP offered a specific example of how the calculation would apply to an employee earning $50,000 that included $5,000 of paid FMLA leave. In this example, the employer received a $1,250 credit for the leave it provided. Therefore, it could only deduct $48,750 of the employee’s wage expense ($50,000-$1,250).

What the feds didn’t include

Despite the clarifications, the IRS said IT has a lot more guidance coming on the finer points of the credit. Specifically, the agency said it will address (“eventually”) the following in future guidance:

  • When the written policy [on paid FMLA for purposes of tax-credit calculation] must be in place;
  • How paid “family and medical leave” relates to an employer’s other paid leave;
  • How to determine whether an employee has been employed for “one year or more”;
  • The impact of state and local leave requirements; and
  • Whether members of a controlled group of corporations and businesses under common control are treated as a single taxpayer in determining the credit.

THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY OF 360 REVIEWS

360-review

Want to make people happy? Make people sad? Care to create an uproar in your organization that rivals in ferocity any change you’ve ever introduced in your history? Want to stir up all of the dormant fear balls hidden just below the surface in your organization? I know; you think I’m talking about laying off half your staff. Right?

Wrong. I am talking about organizations that do a poor job of introducing and implementing 360 degree, or multirater, feedback. Indeed, I’m also talking about organizations that do a good job of introducing 360 degree feedback. Nothing raises hackles as fiercely as a change in performance feedback methods, especially when they affect compensation decisions.

Implemented with care and training to enable people to better serve customers and develop their own careers, 360 degree feedback is a positive addition to your performance management system. Started haphazardly, because it’s the current flavor in organizations, or because “everyone” else is doing it, 360 feedback will create a disaster from which you will require months and possibly years, to recover.

360 degree feedback is a method and a tool that provides each employee the opportunity to receive performance feedback from his or her supervisor and four to eight peers, reporting staff members, coworkers and customers. Most 360 degree feedback tools are also responded to by each individual in a self assessment.

360 degree feedback allows each individual to understand how his effectiveness as an employee, coworker, or staff member is viewed by others. The most effective 360 degree feedback processes provide feedback that is based on behaviors that other employees can see.

The feedback provides insight about the skills and behaviors desired in the organization to accomplish the mission, vision, and goals and live the values. The feedback is firmly planted in behaviors needed to exceed customer expectations.

People who are chosen as raters, usually choices shared by the organization and employee, generally interact routinely with the person receiving feedback.

The purpose of the 360 degree feedback is to assist each individual to understand his or her strengths and weaknesses, and to contribute insights into aspects of his or her work needing professional development. Debates of all kinds are raging in the world of organizations about how to:

  • select the feedback tool and process,
  • select the raters,
  • use the feedback,
  • review the feedback, and
  • manage and integrate the process into a larger performance management system.

 

Now that you know what 360 degree feedback is, learn about the good side of 360 degree feedback.

 

Organizations that are happy with the 360 degree component of their performance management systems identify these positive features of the process. These features will manifest themselves in well-managed, well-integrated 360 degree feedback processes.

 

  • Improved Feedback From More Sources: Provides well-rounded feedback from peers, reporting staff, coworkers, and supervisors. This can be a definite improvement over feedback from a single individual. 360 feedback can also save managers’ time in that they can spend less energy providing feedback as more people participate in the process. Coworker perception is important and the process helps people understand how other employees view their work.

 

  • Team Development:Helps team members learn to work more effectively together. (Teams know more about how team members are performing than their supervisor.) Multirater feedback makes team members more accountable to each other as they share the knowledge that they will provide input on each members’ performance. A well-planned process can improve communication and team development.

 

  • Personal and Organizational Performance Development:360 degree feedback is one of the best methods for understanding personal and organizational developmental needs.

 

  • Responsibility for Career Development:For many reasons, organizations are no longer responsible for developing the careers of their employees, if they ever were. Multirater feedback can provide excellent information to an individual about what she needs to do to enhance her career.

    Additionally, many employees feel 360 degree feedback is more accurate, more reflective of their performance, and more validating than prior feedback from the supervisor alone. This makes the information more useful for both career and personal development.

 

  • Reduced Discrimination Risk:When feedback comes from a number of individuals in various job functions, discrimination because of race, age, gender, and so on, is reduced. The “horns and halo” effect, in which a supervisor rates performance based on her most recent interactions with the employee, is also minimized.

 

  • Improved Customer Service:Especially in feedback processes that involve the internal or external customer, each person receives valuable feedback about the quality of his product or services. This feedback should enable the individual to improve the quality, reliability, promptness, and comprehensiveness of these products and services.

 

  • Training Needs Assessment:360 degree feedback provides comprehensive information about organization training needs and thus allows planning for classes, cross-functional responsibilities, and cross-training.

 

 

A 360 degree feedback system does have a good side. However, 360 degree feedback also has a bad side and even, an ugly side.

 

For every good point I just made about 360 degree feedback systems, detractors and people who have had bad experiences with such systems, can offer the down side. The down side is important because it gives you a roadmap of the things to avoid when you implement a 360 feedback process.

Following are potential problems with 360 degree feedback processes and a recommended solution for each.

  • Exceptional Expectations for the Process:360 degree feedback is not the same as a performance management system. It is merely a part of the feedback and development that a performance management system offers within an organization.

    Additionally, proponents may lead participants to expect too much from this feedback system in their efforts to obtain organizational support for implementation. Make sure the 360 feedback is integrated into a complete performance management system.

 

  • Design Process Downfalls:Often, a 360 degree feedback process arrives as a recommendation from the HR department or is shepherded in by an executive who learned about the process at a seminar or in a book. Just as an organization implements any planned change, the implementation of 360 degree feedback should follow effective change management guidelines. A cross-section of the people who will have to live with and utilize the process should explore and develop the process for your organization.

 

  • Failure to Connect the Process:For a 360 feedback process to work, it must be connected with the overall strategic aims of your organization. If you have identified competencies or have comprehensive job descriptions, give people feedback on their performance of the expected competencies and job duties.

    The system will fail if it is an add-on rather than a supporter of your organization’s fundamental direction and requirements. It must function as a measure of your accomplishment of your organization’s big and long term picture.

  • Insufficient Information:Since 360 degree feedback processes are currently usually anonymous, people receiving feedback have no recourse if they want to further understand the feedback. They have no one to ask for clarification of unclear comments or more information about particular ratings and their basis.

    For this reason and for the points listed in the several bullet points following this one, developing 360 process coaches is important. Supervisors, HR staff people, interested managers and others are taught to assist people to understand their feedback. They are trained to help people develop action plans based upon the feedback.

 

  • Focus on Negatives and Weaknesses:At least one book, First Break All the Rules: What The World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently, advises that great managers focus on employee strengths, not weaknesses. The authors said, “People don’t change that much. Don’t waste time trying to put in what was left out. Try to draw out what was left in. That is hard enough.”

 

  • Rater Inexperience and Ineffectiveness:In addition to the insufficient training organizations provide both people receiving feedback and people providing feedback, there are numerous ways raters go wrong. They may inflate ratings to make an employee look good. They may deflate ratings to make an individual look bad. They may informally band together to make the system artificially inflate everyone’s performance. Checks and balances must prevent these pitfalls.

 

 

  • Paperwork/Computer Data Entry Overload:Need I say much more here? Traditional evaluations required two people and one form. Multirater feedback ups the sheer number of people participating in the process and the consequent organization time invested.

 

There are minuses with the 360 degree feedback processes. As with any performance feedback process, it can provide you with a profoundly supportive, organization-affirming method for promoting employee growth and development. Or, in the worst cases, it saps morale, destroys motivation, enables disenfranchised employees to go for the jugular or plot and scheme revenge scenarios.

360 feedback can increase positive, powerful problem solving for customers or set people off on journeys to identify the guilty – the feedback provider who rated their performance less than perfect.

Which scenario will your organization choose? It’s all in the details. Think profoundly before you move forward; learn from the mistakes of others; assess your organization’s readiness. Apply effective change management strategies to planning and implementation. Do the right things right and you will add a powerful tool to your performance management and enhancement toolkit.

 

By Marijan Pavisic MS SPHR

How to Assess Performance With a 360 Review and What is 360 Review

360 Review

What is 360 Review?

A 360 review is a professional feedback opportunity that enables a group of coworkers to provide feedback on an employee’s performance. The feedback is generally asked for by the manager to whom the employee reports. Coworkers who participate in the 360 review usually include the boss, several peers, reporting staff, and functional managers with whom the employee works regularly.

Hence, the name of the feedback opportunity comes from the fact that performance feedback is solicited from all directions in the organization

The 360 review differs from an employee appraisal which traditionally provides the employee with the opinion of his or her performance as viewed by the manager. These employee appraisals tend to focus on the progress the employee achieved on job goals. The manager may seek feedback from other employees, especially managers, about the employee’s performance, but it’s not part of the formal system.

In contrast, the 360 review focuses more directly on the skills and contributions that an employee makes. The goal of the feedback is to provide a balanced view to an employee of how others view his or her contribution and performance in areas such as leadership, teamwork, interpersonal communication, management, contribution, work habits, interpersonal interaction, accountability, vision and more, depending on the employee’s job. The review allows coworkers to assess the employee’s impact on furthering goal accomplishment and positive customer results as observed by team members.

 

How Does 360 Review Feedback Work?

Organizations use a variety of methods to seek 360 feedback about employees. Some are more common than others and all depend on the culture and climate of the organization.

In most organizations that ask for 360 feedback, the manager asks for and receives the feedback. The manager then analyzes the feedback looking for patterns of behavior to note. The manager searches for both positive and constructive feedback. The goal is to provide the employee with the key and important points without overwhelming him or her with too much data.

Often the manager has sought feedback in response to specific questions so the feedback is easier to organize and share. Some organizations use instruments that are tallied electronically and that give employees a score in each area assessed. Some processes are completely online. Others still rely on open ended questions.

Organizations also hire external consultants to administer the surveys, usually when managers are receiving a 360 review. The consultants then analyze and share the data with the manager and with the manager and staff in some cases. In the best of these circumstances, the manager and staff join together to plan improvements for both the manager and for the department.

In more progressive organizations, that have built a climate of trust, employees provide 360 feedback directly to each other. But, you must always take care that the feedback must be as descriptive as possible so that the employee has something tangible to improve. When sharing is open, make sure also that you solicit frequent employee feedback about how the process is working and affecting employees.

In any case, how you introduce, monitor, and evaluate the effectiveness of the 360 review process is critical to its success or failure.

NEXT ARTICLE WILL BE ABOUT THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY OF 360 REVIEWS

Thank You For Reading

Marijan Pavisic MS SPHR

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CarePlus Foundation Board Appointement

It is my honor to be nominated and appointed as a member of the CarePlus Foundation Board of Trustees.

Care Plus Foundation, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, supports the innovative and life-changing programs and services provided by of Care Plus NJ, Inc. and it’s subsidiaries.

Since their inception in 1998, their mission has been to support programs and services that help provide care and support for individuals affected by mental illness, as well as education and outreach to decrease the stigma of the disease.

CarePlus Foundation comprehensive approach to decreasing the stigma of mental illness includes direct support, advocacy, and community involvement. Given that, all funds raised provide direct client support through medication aide, housing support, services, training, and educational scholarships.

Please support this great organization

Thank You

Marijan Pavisic MS SPHR

You can learn more about this great organization following links below

CAREPLUS NJ

CAREPLUS FOUNDATION 

10 Tips for Effective Time Management

How good is your time management by Marijan Pavisic MS SPHR

Not planning a schedule, committing to too many tasks or events, and dealing with the many life distractions can all lead to wasted time and anxiety about how to get everything done. Here are 10 tips to keep in mind as you hone your time management skills:

  1. Determine which activities are fixed vs. flexible. 
    This will vary for each individual, but some items on your schedule are fixed, meaning that they will occur at the same time each week. Others will occur occasionally or have flexibility around when they can be scheduled. Fixed events may include work hours, classes, meetings, mealtimes, church, children’s activities, and hours spent commuting. Flexible items could include time allotted for exercise, household chores, appointments and errands, entertainment, and down time.

  1. Be realistic about how much time you need. 
    Planning out your schedule can help ensure that adequate time has been budgeted for required activities. Having a plan prevents you from having to rush, and also reminds you not to spend too much time on tasks that you can accomplish quickly.

  1. Break tasks down into manageable segments. 
    Some projects are complex and involve multiple steps. Scheduling each step separately can provide a series of manageable goals to accomplish.

  1. Establish a routine. 
    A schedule provides a helpful guide, but establishing consistent habits makes it easier to maintain productivity. Just as healthy eating habits can support wellness, effective time management habits can support a sense of confidence and ease.

  1. Reward yourself. 
    Compensation for time well spent can include scheduling weekend time to ensure that you really get time to relax. If there’s something that motivates you more, use that as an incentive to reward accomplishments.

  1. Be flexible, but don’t get derailed.
    Unexpected events will always arise, and you can adjust your schedule to accommodate them by utilizing free time. After a shift in scheduled time occurs, return to your plan in order to stay on track.

  1. Group tasks to maximize efficiency.
    You can group errands by location and priority, and arrange tasks by type. Embrace multi-tasking by combining activities that work well together. For example, complete laundry while doing other household chores or homework.

  1. Listen to your body. 
    Following the natural cycles of your body can help you create an effective schedule. If you’re a morning person, for instance, you may have more energy for certain things earlier rather than later in the day. You may have a job or school schedule that doesn’t exactly match your natural rhythms, but being aware of your energy levels throughout the day can help you anticipate how much time you may need for a given activity.

  1. Don’t be afraid to delegate. 
    In work or family life, find duties that you can delegate or share with others to help alleviate your workload. While you may give up some control by sharing tasks with others, you may also discover that you have more time to focus on high-priority items and those personal goals that matter the most to you.

  1. Keep your eyes on the prize.
    Whether you’re focusing on short-term action steps or long-term goals, use these objectives for motivation. This can help you stick to your time management schedule and foster a sense of achievement.

There are many time management tools that you can use to help schedule time, from mobile apps to calendars and multi-year plans. Below, you’ll find a variety of templates with basic formatting and a professional appearance that can help you manage your personal and professional time better. Download the templates that work for you and customize them to fit your needs.

Thank You For Reading

Marijan Pavisic MS SPHR

New Jersey workers could soon get long-awaited paid sick time

Paid Sick Days

New Jersey workers could soon get long-awaited paid sick time

The New Jersey workers who have come to work sick or taken days unpaid to nurse a cold could soon receive paid sick time from their employers under a bill passed Thursday by the state Legislature.

The legislation, variations of which have been making its way through the Statehouse for years, would allow private-sector workers to accrue one hour of earned sick leave for every 30 hours worked.

They can use that time to care for themselves or a family member who is ill, to attend school conferences or meetings, or to recover from domestic violence.

The bill (A1827) passed the state Senate, 24-11, Thursday after passing the state Assembly last month.

More than a dozen New Jersey towns have put in place their own requirements, but there is no state-level law guaranteeing private-sector workers earned sick leave, and about 1.2 million workers here don’t get paid sick days.

Lower-income workers are much less likely to have paid sick leave. One study found only three in 10 workers with income below $20,000 had this benefit, while eight of every 10 workers earning $65,000 or more did.

Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, has said he would back such a law, and this bill now heads to his desk for his signature.

The measure is opposed by business industry groups, who say small businesses will struggle to afford and conform to this one-size-fits-all approach.

HR and Finance Employees/Managers Targeted in New Scams

Heads up: In recent months, a number of federal agencies — including the FBI and IRS — are warning employers about new scams targeting employees’ direct deposit, W-2 and I-9 information. And these scams have wreaked havoc on scores of companies.

Here are three of the most problematic scams HR pros need to be aware of:

  1. Direct deposit information

The most recent warning for employers came from the FBI. It involves a phishing scam in which cybercriminals attempt to get employees to unwittingly provide the scammer access to the company’s self-service payroll platform.

In the version of the scam HR pros will be most interested in, a person pretending to be from the company’s HR department sends an email asking an employee to click on a link provided in the email and log into their self-service account.

The scammer will claim the employee must do this in order to:

  • view a confidential email from HR
  • view changes to the employee’s account, or
  • confirm that the account should not be deleted.

However, when the employee clicks on the link and enters the requested info, they’re actually providing info on their W-2 and paystub info. The scammer can then change the employee’s direct deposit instructions, and prevent detection by changing the email address used to notify the employee such changes were made.

Scammers may also change an employee’s passwords or other necessary credentials to keep the fraud from being discovered for as long as possible. In many cases, employers aren’t aware of anything until they hear from workers that their wages aren’t being deposited.

To prevent falling victim to this scam, the FBI is warning employers to:

  • Train employees to watch for phishing attacks and suspicious malware links. Checking the actual e-mail address rather than just looking at the display name can be crucial to spotting the attack early.
  • HR self-service platforms should have two-factor authentication. For example, users can be required to enter a second password that is e-mailed to them or a hard token code.
  • Set up alerts on self-service platforms for administrators so that unusual activity may be caught before money is lost. Alerts may be triggered for when banking information is changed to online bank accounts typically used by fraudsters.
  • Set a time delay between when direct deposit information is changed in the self-service portal and the actual deposit of funds into the new account to decrease the chance of the theft of funds.

Stay Vigilant.

TOP 10 EMPLOYEE COMPLAINTS

complaiint

Are you interested in discovering your employees’ most serious complaints? Knowing what makes employees unhappy is half the battle when you think about employee work satisfaction, morale, positive motivation, and retention. Listen to employees and provide opportunities for them to communicate with company managers. If employees feel safe, they will tell you what’s on their minds. Your work culture must foster trust for successful two-way communication.

I had fun analying recurring themes in employee surveys and compiled the following top ten list. These are the items employees consistently complain about on surveys and in interviews. How many are true in your workplace?

  • Higher salaries:pay is the number one area in which employees seek change. You can foster a work environment in which employees feel comfortable asking for a raise.

 

  • Internal pay equity:employees are concerned particularly with pay compression, the differential in pay between new and longer term employees. In organizations, with the average annual pay increase for employees around 4%, employees perceive that newcomers are better paid – and, often, they are.

 

  • Benefits programs, particularly health and dental insurance, retirement, and Paid Time Off / vacation days:specifically, many employees feel that their health insurance costs too much, especially prescription drug programs, when employers pass part of their rising costs to employees.

 

  • Over-management:Employees often defined by interviewees as: “Too many chiefs, not enough Indians.” Workplaces that foster employee empowerment, employee enablement, and broader spans of control by managers, will see fewer complaints. A popular word, micromanaging, expresses this sentiment, too.

 

  • Pay increase guidelines for merit:Employees believe the compensation system should place greater emphasis on merit and contribution. Employees find pay systems in which all employees receive the same pay increase annually, demoralizing. Such pay systems hit the motivation and commitment of your best employees hardest as they may begin asking what’s in this for me ?As you adopt a merit pay system, one component is education so that employees know what behaviors and contributions merit additional compensation. Employees who did not must be informed by their manager about how their performance needs to change to merit a larger pay increase.

 

  • Human Resources department response to employees:The Human Resource department needs to be more responsive to employee questions and concerns. In many companies, the HR department is perceived as the policy making, policing arm of management. In fact, in forward thinking HR departments, responsiveness to employee needs is one of the cornerstones.

 

  • Favoritism:Employees want the perception that each employee is treated equivalently with other employees. If there are policies, behavioral guidelines, methods for requesting time off, valued assignments, opportunities for development, frequent communication, and just about any other work related decisions you can think of, employees want fair treatment.

 

  • Communication and availability:Let’s face it. Employees want face-to-face communication time with both their supervisors and executive management. This communication helps them feel recognized and important. And, yes, your time is full because you have a job, too. But, a manager’s main job is to support the success of all his or her reporting employees. That’s how the manager magnifies their own success.

 

  • Workloads are too heavy:Departments are understaffed and employees feel as if their workloads are too heavy and their time is spread too thinly. I see this complaint becoming worse as layoffs; the economy; your ability to find educated, skilled, experienced staff; and your business demands grow. To combat this, each company should help employees participate in continuous improvement activities.

 

  • Facility cleanliness:Employees want a clean, organized work environment in which they have the necessary equipment to perform well.

 

Thank You For Visiting

Thanks for joining me!

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.— General George Patton

Mr. Marijan Pavisic is  Multifaceted, growth-driven, and dynamic executive, with broad-based experience in human resources management within diverse and expansive workforce organizations.

Skilled in employee relations, union dealings, recruitment, as well as strategic planning and implementation.  Experienced in employment and immigration laws and regulations. Proficient in Domestic and International labor laws and E-Verify.

Highly commended for overseeing regulatory compliance, staff training, and corporate human resources operations. Excelled at formulating and implementing innovative recruitment strategies and leadership development programs to effect dramatic improvements in efficiency, productivity, and business processes toward successful attainment of organizational goals and objectives.

Hands-on manager with outstanding leadership, interpersonal, problem resolution, and relationship-building skills.  Enjoy challenges and capable to multitask in fiercely competitive and fast-paced environment.

Fluent in German, Croatian, and English,currently working on Spanish communication abilities.

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