The New Year is a Good Time…

We’ve welcomed 2013, and you may have already forgotten some of your New Year’s resolutions!  Mark one resolution off the list by revisiting your organization’s benefits, policies, and employee handbook. 

For many organizations, January means change, particularly on staff benefits and other human resource issues.  Elections for Flexible Spending Accounts, the terms of health and dental insurance plans, and paid time off may have changed.  You’re being sure that everyone understands those changes.  And while you’re at it, be sure that staff review and update their beneficiary information. 

 This is a great time to invite representatives from your benefit providers to come talk with staff.  I hope that all of your staff of all ages understand the fantastic multiplier effect of every dollar they put into tax-deferred retirement savings.

It’s also a great time to revisit your organization’s confidentiality, whistleblower, and document retention and destruction policies.  Don’t forget that your board, staff, and volunteers should be signing a conflict of interest policy annually.  Nonprofits that are Members of the N.C. Center’s can find samples of all of these policies on our website.

It’s also important all staff understand your grievance procedures.  Reviewing them in a staff meeting gives people a chance to ask questions and encourages open and clear communication.  Does your organization have an inclement weather policy?  If so, remind everyone about it.  Winters are mild here in the south, but Mother Nature is also unpredictable.

One procedure organizations often overlook is an emergency back-up plan for key staff positions.  You may have a plan that focuses on short-term and unexpected absences for the chief staff executive.  It’s a good idea to think about what you would do if other staff have to take an unexpected medical leave or a planned family leave.  We learned about this the hard way when a valued staff member had surgery and was out for three months.

This kind of plan reinforces the need to cross train your staff.  Having others who can fill in when a staff member takes an unexpected medical leave or is out for planned parental leave It will help keep your organization running effectively and with as little disruption as possible.  We all know life is full of surprises, but we can minimize the effect with this important internal control.

Invest time in these steps, and you’ll reap the rewards.  Reminding everyone of your organization’s expectations and policies encourages an open, positive, and productive work culture.  I have found that staff members really appreciate it. For great human resource tips check out the Center’s Principles & Practices for Nonprofit Excellenceand Information Central, as well as www.shrm.org.

A lot can change in one year!

Tracy Careyette is director of finance at the N.C. Center for Nonprofits and has served with the Center for 14 years. 

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