Category

HR

Personalized Training Plans Offer More Meaningful Professional Development

By | Abila, Accounting, Government, Grant Management, HR, MIP Fund Accounting, Nonprofit, Professional Development, Training | No Comments

CPAs, like other professionals, need an additional 40 hours of continuing education units annually to maintain their certification. Even if your industry does not require taking continuing education courses, everyone benefits from refresher courses and keeping abreast of changes and developments in their industry.

There is great value to designing a personalized plan for continuing professional development. These plans build a customized training roadmap for individuals, so that instead of taking a prescribed set of courses to meet your continuing education requirements, you create your own curriculum. Here’s why they work.

The Benefits of Personalized Professional Development Plans

  1. Relevant: Personalized course plans are highly relevant. They take into consideration your currently level of skills, interests, and needs, as well as those of your employer or company. You can choose the courses that are right for you and fit your personal learning goals.
  2. Flexible: You choose when you wish to take the courses, creating a plan that lets you take courses on the weekends, at night, or even during your lunch hour. You aren’t locked into a set schedule.
  3. Higher completion rate: Because the courses in your personalized plan are relevant and on a schedule that meets your needs, they tend to have a higher completion rate than other courses.
  4. More feedback and interaction: Some personal development plans include interaction with a mentor or trainer, providing more personalized feedback and interaction from the one to one mentoring.
  5. Noticeable difference: Personal plans offer you the added bonus of being able to identify specific goals to work towards. You can document progress toward your goals through milestones and checkpoints. Not only does this help you achieve them, it also helps you see both the ‘before’ and ‘after’ picture. You can see just how far you’ve come.

Does Personalized Professional Development Stand Alone?

Most companies blend both personalized development with general professional development activities,  offering both the benefits of personalization and group interaction that’s valuable for team building and shared knowledge.

Why Professional Development Matters

Lifelong learning is important for all professions. While we tend to think of professional development for teachers, accountants, financial managers, others benefit from continually sharpening their skills.

Professions change over time. New governmental and IRS regulations, for example, may change how accountants and financial planners manage specific tasks and functions. Yes, you can read about these changes in professional journals or online bulletins from the managing organizations, but in some cases, in-depth professional development through workshops, conferences, or classes may be the best way to completely understand something new.

Technology is changing how CPAs manage data, how sales and marketing professionals do their jobs, and how human resources managers organize their files. By taking additional professional development courses in technology-enhanced areas, you’ll be able to maximize the use of such  developments to create a stronger, better organization.

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.

Mandatory Fun: Why Requiring Vacation Time for All Means a Better Workplace

By | HR, Nonprofit | No Comments

“I’m too busy to take a vacation!”

Have you caught yourself saying that? If so – stop. Just stop, right now. Because we’re here to tell you that fun is mandatory. Vacations aren’t just a nice thing to do. They’re important for your productivity, creativity, peace of mind, and a happy workplace.

Take Vacation – Please

Time off helps workers recharge their batteries and refresh their creativity. Studies have shown that staying busy all the time, or engaging the left brain (the logical, reasoning brain) for long periods of time depletes the creative energy needed for fresh thinking and ideas. In other words, time spent daydreaming on a beach or strolling the lanes of a foreign city is great for refreshing your left or creative brain.

To Check In or Not to Check In?

In order to fully reap the benefits of taking time off, it’s best not to check in at all, or to check in sparingly. Some executives may feel they should check in at regular intervals, setting times when they are available during vacation for quick calls or messages. Others check text messages but not email or voice mail. It’s important to set your own boundaries when it comes to taking time off.

The Benefits of Time Off

Vacation time may be a company benefit, but it offers the company benefits, too. For example, research has shown that workers who fail to take time off impact not just their own productivity but others at work, too. That’s because people who don’t take scheduled time off often find themselves taking unplanned time off like sick days because they burn themselves out. Then, in turn, their work must be completed by others, which adds to their stress. This can lower the overall morale and productivity of the entire team.

Another unexpected benefit of vacation time is that it may lower workplace fraud. The FDIC and the SEC both have policies in place to encourage vacation time. The FDIC, in fact, states that mandatory vacation rules discourage embezzlement. That’s because embezzlement and fraud require a sustained effort over time. Vacation disrupts that time and may make fraud more easily detected if the perpetrator isn’t there to cover his or her tracks.

Lastly, organizations who enforce mandatory vacation policies benefit their bottom line, too. Policies that allow workers to accrue vacation time can set the stage for an expensive payout when someone with a lot of vacation time accrued finally leaves the company. A “use it or lose it” policy prevents vacation from accruing annually. It both encourages people to take time off and prevents a big payout when someone leaves.

Leaders Set the Tone

If you’re in a leadership position within your organization, it’s important that you set a positive tone around taking time off. Never make anyone feel guilty for attending to family or personal needs. Be generous with time off policies, and respect people’s boundaries when it comes to taking time off. That means don’t call them when they’re on their wedding anniversary cruise and avoid sending emails during their vacation unless it’s necessary.

 

People sometimes think that vacation time is frivolous, perhaps a holdover from the old-fashioned Puritan work ethic that drives some people to work until exhaustion. But if you’re too tired to work, you’ll be of no use to anyone – not to your clients, your coworkers, or more importantly, to your family or to yourself. Take time off this summer for your sake and that of your company.

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.

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.