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HR

Attract and Retain the Best Employees with Job Flexibility Offers

By | Accounting, HR, MIP Fund Accounting, Nonprofit | No Comments

Have you ever wondered what helps attract and retain the best employees in your industry? Is it a great working environment, challenging work, or a generous benefits package? It’s all of the above plus some surprisingly easy to offer benefits. Job flexibility is one area that requires little financial outlay on your part but does indeed help attract and keep the best and brightest talent.

What Candidates Really Want

Each generation wants different things based on their state of life and future goals. Baby Boomers, on the cusp of retirement or already entering retirement, want security for their old age and legacy to pass onto their children and grandchildren. Generation X, the generation following the Baby Boomers, values both monetary security and flexibility and Millennials, the new group entering the workforce, really likes job flexibility. Depending on what positions you are recruiting for – senior or entry-level – your company may wish to consider various flexible work arrangement offers as part of a benefits package.

What is job flexibility? Each company or organization defines it differently, but in general, it’s an attitude toward working hours that breaks free from the typical 9 to 5 workday. Flextime can include varying working hours, “banking” extra hours to “spend” as employees need, and telecommuting options, to name just a few of the many ways in which companies are now viewing employment arrangements.

How can organizations survive with workers arriving when they want to and leaving when they want? The answer is, they really can’t. That’s why structure and boundaries placed around flextime are critical both for your peace of mind and to serve your clients and constituents. Some simple guidelines can help you launch flextime options within your organization to recruit and retain talented people.

Is Job Flexibility New?

Not according to a survey published in the Journal of Accountancy. In fact, if your organization is now offering some form of flex time, you may be behind the curve. According to this survey, two-thirds of all companies in six out of seven revenue categories offer some form of flex time. Most of the companies answering the survey reduce staff during the off-peak season. Some offer telecommuting, but the smaller the company, the less likely they are to allow it.

How You Can Make Job Flexibility Work

As we mentioned previously, to make job flexibility work, you must put boundaries in place around it. That means having a written human resources policy about job flexibility options and guidelines in place about how to use them.

  • Flex time: Flexible working hour policies include clearing work hours one week or more in advance with supervisors, limits on how many days per that employees may change hours, and similar guidelines.
  • Hour “banking”: Hour banking means allowing employees to work a nine hour day when scheduled for an eight hour day and “saving” the extra hour in a bank that can be applied to personal time or vacation time. Such banking works best when hours are clocked carefully, and you may need to limit the number of hours banked during a calendar year and establish rules about carrying over hours.
  • Telecommuting policies: Telecommuting policies may limit the number of days per week out of the office or may require employees to be available during specific business hours.
  • Cloud Technology Makes Telecommuting BetterCloud technology makes telecommuting a viable option even for the smallest companies. Software that is cloud-based can be accessed anywhere, anytime. Shared data and files are also stored in a central system that can be accessed through any internet connection. Employees can use their personal computers for telecommuting just as easily as their work computers because both can access cloud systems.

    The world has changed from the days when a strict, 9 to 5 policy was in place at most jobs. Now, employees crave work-life balance, and one way to offer it to them is through flexible job options. It’s a benefit that yields many perks for both employees and employers alike.

    Welter Consulting

    Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.

 

 

Productivity Tips for the Busy Nonprofit Organization

By | Accounting, HR, MIP Fund Accounting, Nonprofit | No Comments

It may seem as if your task list keeps growing while time is shrinking. Nonprofit organizations are always busy, often with more tasks than time. Anything you can do to improve productivity is welcome. These tips can help you manage your time more effectively to boost productivity throughout your organization.

Tips to Boost Productivity

  1. Set notifications for email and social media accounts: Rather than keeping tabs and apps open for your email and social media accounts, set them up so that notifications ring into your system. You can then glance at the notification messages and choose whether or not to respond immediately rather than constantly checking all of your communications.
  2. Establish times to check and respond to email: It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by your inbox. One way to tame the email monster is to set aside three or four 15-minute increments during your day to read and respond to emails. You’ll stay up to date on important messages without feeling chained to your inbox.
  3. Sync your calendar: Sync your calendar across all of your electronic devices or use a cloud-based calendar app that automatically syncs it for you. Accessing meeting invitations, dates, times and links to calls or screen shares from wherever you are help you manage your time more effectively.
  4. Copy people sparingly on emails: Don’t hit “reply all” automatically. Establish policies in your organization about who to copy on emails. This prevents email overload from simple responses that can happen when the “reply all” button is hit too frequently.
  5. Use instant messenger apps: Instant messenger apps such as Skype, Slack and others are great for quick questions, group brainstorms, even phone calls. Instead of sending emails, quick chats appear and can be taken care of instantly.
  6. Use Evernote or Microsoft Note to write task lists: Microsoft notes, Apple Evernote and other programs are great to jot down ideas and meeting notes. You can save great ideas quickly to use later without stopping what you are working on.
  7. Name files with things you’ll remember: Set up a file naming protocol for shared files that includes the date and other pertinent information so that you can find them later. Tagging files with keywords can also help you search your systems for critical documents quickly.
  8. Never start a meeting without a written agenda: A written agenda can guide meetings and keep them on task and on time. Circulate an agenda before the meeting and stick to it. Keep meetings to a reasonable number of items for the time allotted and don’t be afraid to gently but firmly halt off-topic conversations and guide them back to the agenda.
  9. Use commuting time for learning: Use your daily commute for learning opportunities and professional development. If you drive to work, books on tape or recorded podcasts from your industry are great ways to polish your skills and keep abreast of developments. If you take mass transit, consider taking online courses. You don’t need to take formal classes at a university. Many professional organizations offer recorded seminars, sessions from conferences, and other materials you can review while on the train or bus. Similarly, some low-cost or free workshops are also available from independent consultants, companies, and others.

You may feel that there are never enough hours in the day to get everything done from your task list. If you use your time wisely, you’ll find you can accomplish your list and much more.

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.

You Can Never Be Too Careful: Improving Computer Security

By | Accounting, CPA, Data, HR, MIP Fund Accounting, Nonprofit | No Comments

Cyber threats are on the rise worldwide. The costs of a data breach are staggering with the average cost to repair such breaches at $4 million. And if you think your nonprofit organization is too small to be affected by cybercrimes, data breaches, viruses, and ransomware think again: many of the worst threats are to individuals and small businesses and that includes small nonprofit organizations.

One of the areas most vulnerable to external cyber threats is communications. Contact forms on websites, emails, chats, images – all provide a window into your systems through which cyber criminals can enter to wreak havoc. Here’s how you can improve the security of your overall system with an eye towards shoring up the defenses of your communications network.

Questions to Ask – and Answer

The first step to solving any problem is to understand the full scope of the problem itself. To do this, you will need to evaluate all of the possible threats against your organization. Review security and access points including who has access to your systems, website, email server, social media accounts and any external software you may use such as cloud-based storage, file sharing, and other systems.

  • Do you have a written process for granting access and revoking privileges? A written process with a designated administrator controls access to key services and systems. You can detail who can access which systems and what to do when someone’s employment is terminated or they leave voluntarily.
  • Do you have a master list of all of your software and systems? Create a list of all of the software and systems, as well as administrators and contact people in your organization, for all of the software you use.
  • Do you have a process in place for updating your software? Those annoying popups prompting you to update your systems aren’t just for show. Software updates close gaps in the system that programmers find after the initial software releases. These “patches” are often important coding changes that defend against known threats. Regular updates of all of your software and operating systems are
  • Do you have virus protection in place? A virus protection program can screen websites to ensure they are safe and check inbound emails and attachments. Other types of virus programs scan your hard drive for malware, harmless but annoying programs, and other code that gets injected into your computer without your knowledge. It’s smart to have two packages rather than just one; two can often catch more than one.
  • Do you back up your systems regularly? In the event of a cyber attack, having backups ready to restore your systems is vital. Automatic backups can be installed or you can store some of your non-confidential files on a cloud server to keep copies safe.

Communications Security Tips

In addition to these questions and answers, consider a few other security measures to put into place.

  • Assume anyone, at any time, can read your emails. Do not share passwords or other confidential information by email.
  • Consider email encryption services, which encrypt email on your computer so that it can only be read by the sender and recipient.
  • Only open attachments from people you know.
  • Require two-step authentication to sensitive systems and accounts such as bank accounts.

If you’ve checked “yes” to many of these items, then congratulations – you’re ahead of many other nonprofits in the cyber security department.

One last step is to have an emergency plan on hand to restore critical systems in the event an attack cripples your nonprofit’s systems. The FBI virus, a form of ransomware, can infect computers merely through visiting an infected website and it is difficult to remove. It locks a computer so that you cannot use it until the ransom is paid to the criminal. A skilled computer technician or service can remove it but will cost both time and money.

This is just one example of possible threats. As the threats grow, having a backup plan and a plan to keep working while your systems are fixed is critical to keeping your doors open and your work continuing without pause.

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.

Encrypt an Email and Secure Your Gmail – Tips and Tricks for Email Communication

By | Abila, Accounting, CPA, Data, HR, MIP Fund Accounting, Nonprofit | No Comments

The greatest threat facing the CPA community isn’t legislation or competition. It’s security as it pertains to our technology. CPAs must be cognizant of the latest security measures to protect sensitive, confidential client data. Technology has made it easy to send information to clients with the touch of a button, but where does that information end up – and how long does it remain accessible?

Such considerations are no longer academic questions. Instead, they are essential to running a secure and confident CPA practice.

Email Encryption: Protecting Sensitive Communications

Emails are by far the biggest offender when it comes to potential data breaches. Most email systems aren’t sent using encryption. Because emails are automatically shared across multiple devices these days, your email lives on long after you attempt to retract or erase it. It’s almost impossible to completely erase all traces of an email from hard drives, backup servers, and the recipient’s servers and devices.

The best way to protect emailed information is through encryption. Encryption “locks” messages so that only the recipient can read them. The recipient’s software automatically unlocks the message so that it can be read. If some third-party swoops in and somehow accesses the email, it cannot read it.

To encrypt your email transmissions, you can use a service that includes encryption. Gmail and Outlook are both good, solid email programs that incorporate encryption into their programming. Both services also include cloud storage, spam filtering, and IMPAP/POP support.

The drawback to using these services is that they use their own extensions rather than your company’s extension address. To rectify this situation, you can important Gmail or Outlook messages into Outlook Desktop.

The steps include:

1. Turn on two-step verification: Go to google.com/landing/2step, click the Get Started button, and follow the steps to set up two-step verification. A code is texted to your smartphone, which you enter to verify the account.

2. From your Outlook 2010, 2013, or 2016 ribbon, select File, Add Account to launch the Auto Account Setup screen.

3. Enter your name, email address (Gmail or Hotmail/Outlook.com), and password, and then click Next.

4. Set up a Gmail alias with your company name:

a. Open your Gmail account.

b. Sign in.

c. Click the Settings gear in the top right corner.

d. Choose Settings.

e. Select from the horizontal menu the Accounts and Import tab, Import mail and contacts,

f. Enter the email address you want to use as a Gmail alias.

g. Enter the password, and if necessary, enter the Pop username and Pop server.

h. Click Continue.

i. Sign in to the account you added

j. Open the confirmation message you received from Gmail

k. Click the link in the email to confirm and establish the connection.

l. To complete the setup, change the From line to reflect your newly added alias email address. For more details on how to set up a Google email address alias, visit Google support.

The process to set up Outlook aliases is similar.

1. Open Outlook.com.

2. Click the Settings gear.

3. Select Options.

4. In the Options menu in the left menu pane, select Connected Accounts, Other email accounts.

5. Enter the alias email address and your email password then click OK.

Keep in mind that encryption through Gmail or Outlook only works if both sender and receiver are using the same service. In other words, your message is encrypted only if you are using Outlook and your client is also using Outlook. If only you are using Outlook or Gmail, messages are encrypted on your end, but not the client’s end.

If you’d prefer, a computer consultant can help you set up a secure, encrypted email system for your business. Or make it a rule that confidential information must be delivered in person or via snail mail, rather than through email. If you’d prefer that no one else see your message, a phone call or letter through traditional mail may be appropriate.

We live in an age where technology can make our businesses more productive and efficient. It can also compromise sensitive client data. Fortunately, a few steps are all that’s needed to secure your email information.

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.