Donor-Advised Funds: Tax Benefits for Givers
Modernizing Philanthropy in the Workplace: Why Investing in HR Technology Is Critical
When asked about the biggest challenges facing human resources professionals in 2022, HR exec Carla Yudhishthu noted something that’s a relatively new concept in human resources management: the importance of connecting employees to a bigger purpose at work. That “soft” HR skill, along with recruitment, retention and employee engagement, is separate from what used to be considered the core of HR work — managing the office, tracking employee data, and managing employee benefits and education. It is, however, becoming a larger and more important part of human resources, especially as people return to the office after a lengthy, enforced office timeout.
In fact, that side of HR — what Yudhishthu refers to as the “art of HR” — has taken on increasing importance, but the need for the operational side of things hasn’t diminished. If your company is still relying on HR workers to essentially do data entry and management, it’s time to look at how modern HR technology supports your entire workforce while freeing your HR department to focus on the things that really motivate and engage your employees.
What Motivates Your Workforce? (It’s Not What You Think It Is)
Common wisdom suggests that employees are motivated by better pay, higher benefits and workplace recognition and rewards. While all of those elements are important, recent research has found that the most engaged employees share some common experiences and attitudes.
1. They work for companies that provide a smooth employee experience
The easier it is for someone to do their work, the more likely they are to be satisfied with their job. Businesses with engaged employees provide them with the tools they need, not only to do their jobs, but to manage their lives in balance with their work. That includes HR software that puts the information they need at their fingertips, both figuratively and literally.
Modern HR technology features apps that allow employees to access and track their own data, so they can see at a glance how many vacation days they have, how much sick time they’ve earned, and more. They also make it easy and intuitive for workers to submit requests for time off or schedule changes, and to see the progress of their request without having to visit the HR office.
By removing friction from basic functions, good HR technology improves the employee experience and increases employee satisfaction. At the same time, it reduces the amount of time your HR department has to spend on routine tasks that can be automated.
2. They find purpose in their work
A recent McKinsey study found that 70% of the employees they surveyed want work that is meaningful — that fulfills a purpose. The top recommendation from that study was for corporations to identify and consider their impact on the world around them, and work to align their corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies with the values that are important to their employees. People who work for companies that empower them to make changes in the world around them are more likely to stay in their jobs and to recommend their company to others.
HR software that helps manage and track CSR and giving can provide a visual reminder of individual and company purpose.
3. Their jobs offer meaningful benefits
While the traditional work benefits — health insurance, paid time off and other typical work perks — are still an important draw, employees also want perks that recognize them as whole people. This includes corporate giving programs of all types, from workplace volunteer opportunities to donation match programs. Employees who work for companies that empower and support them in giving back to the community feel a stronger sense of loyalty to their employer.
HR technology allows employees to manage their own work-life balance, as well as discover and access benefits provided by the company. The combination leads to more job satisfaction, more transparent company culture and improved well-being across the company.
4. They have some flexibility and autonomy in their work
Autonomy and flexibility give workers a sense of control and ownership over their contributions to the company and its purpose. Over the past few years of working from home, many employees have found that they’re more productive and engaged when they’re allowed to make some decisions about when, where and how to approach their work.
At the same time, it’s important to maintain good communication and set clear expectations. A structured HR interface, along with clear company-wide messaging, can provide a framework that allows employees to make decisions that fit with the overall goals and needs of the entire company.
5. They want to work for a company that shares their values
One of the most effective ways for a business to align their values with their people is through creating a corporate culture that values transparency, social responsibility and participation. A workplace giving portal does more than provide an easy way for employees to participate in charitable giving. It can also provide a wealth of data to help the HR department:
Track trends in giving
Evaluate the effectiveness of the company’s corporate giving strategies
Demonstrate the company’s commitment to its values
Empower employees to support the causes important to them
Give leadership the information it needs to see if the current programs align with employee values
The Bottom Line
The right HR technology provides the tools, information and structure your company needs to attract, motivate and retain top talent in your field. Not only does it empower your workforce and provide them with transparency, it also frees up your HR professionals to use their creativity and knowledge to improve the workplace.
For more tips on building strong leadership and employees, check out our blog.
Building Stellar Workplace Leaders: 7 Tips To Be a Good Manager
The best companies have one thing in common: good leadership. Leadership can make or break a company. All leaders aren’t managers. There are, for example, informal leaders who may have no official title or claim to direct others. So while all leaders aren’t managers, in the most exceptional companies, all managers are leaders.
The traditional view of management is confined to the basic functions of planning, organizing, directing, staffing and controlling. That may fit neatly into the comfort zone for some people, but it doesn’t fit the way businesses operate today. As the competitive environment changes and the old work rules are discarded, the role of manager is becoming a lot more flexible.
When you’re managing people in a rapidly changing and fluid world, you need more skills than ever. It’s no longer sufficient, if it ever was, to simply be the smartest person in the room. As mentioned, the best managers are great leaders. This means they have both the hard and the soft skills to get the best from their people.
Much has been written about leadership styles. But perhaps more important than any particular style are the things that great managers do every day.
What Does Good Management Look Like in Practice?
If you want to know how to be a good manager, follow these seven essential tips every day:
New paradigms for leadership largely turn the top-down model on its head. Good managers aren’t simply following instructions received from on high. When you cultivate good relationships with your own managers, you’ll better understand the pressures and motivations behind their decisions. When the relationship is good, managers can even offer respectful feedback. In turn, your managers can learn how to best advocate for your success.
Invest in the Next-Generation Leaders
As a manager in the current environment, you don’t have time to micromanage. You must manage to meet goals and objectives. This allows others to learn valuable skills and flex their problem-solving and leadership muscle. More importantly, you have the responsibility of creating new leaders. As a strong manager, you can rely on the people around you because you have taught them well and delegated tasks to them.
Favor Innovation Over Rinse-and-Repeat
A few decades ago, managers were focused on efficiency and productivity. This meant processes that were reliable and repeatable. Make no mistake, businesses still need a high level of efficiency. However, the companies with the most sustainable business models for the future are those that take risks. They aren’t afraid to try something new. It’s not strictly about technology. Rather, it’s about empowering people to discover the possibilities. If you aren’t innovating, you can be assured that some scrappy new startup is finding a way to do what you do, only better.
Manage From the Inside Out
You can’t manage from outside the team. The best managers aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. This isn’t simply an improved version of managing by walking around. It’s managing by getting involved. Managers who master this skill have the opportunity to identify strengths and weaknesses in their team and to better understand their pain points. In order to do it most effectively, however, you must walk a fine line between being a team player and taking over. As a manager, it’s your job to provide the “what,” for example, the deliverables. To the extent possible, avoid telling people “how” to do their jobs.
The rapidly changing business environment means that yesterday’s education and skills quickly become obsolete. You don’t have to be an expert in every new technology or management philosophy that crops up. But you do need to understand the extent of change. When you are busy with job responsibilities and home life, it can seem impossible. Fortunately, you never need to step into a bookstore, library or classroom to learn something new. Take time out of your busy schedule to read, take an online course, follow a blog, or have lunch with a colleague in your industry or another. Then share the information you collect and teach others what you know.
Encourage Team Problem-Solving
Encourage problem-solving among your employees. It removes the pressure from you to always be the fixer. Further, it builds a critical skill that will make your company more profitable in the long run. Solicit ideas, ask for input and encourage team members to share. This has the additional benefit of helping employees think more holistically about where the business is headed and what the future challenges might be. Remember that if your team isn’t making any mistakes, they may be playing it too safe.
Pursue the Greater Good
Good managers are selfless. Certainly, they want what is best for their employees, customers, partners and the company. But the concept of the greater good extends even further. Good managers understand that their actions have consequences for the community and the world. They work to ensure that they do no harm.
What Are the Benefits of Strong Management?
When a company has strong managers, it benefits in many ways.
Attracts and Retains Better Talent
Word gets around when a company is well managed. Managers that invest in their professional growth mentor others around them and have no trouble attracting good employee candidates, while also being able to retain current employees.
Sustains Growth Into the Future
Employees are more engaged with good management. They’re better able to ensure that the company is positioned for long-term growth and able to outperform the competition.
Builds Credibility for the Brand
A strong managerial base provides stability for the company. It fortifies the values and builds products and services that promote the brand and enhance the company’s reputation.
Becomes a Better Corporate Citizen
Managers create an environment where all employees think beyond the walls of the company toward the partnerships they have created, the customers they serve and the broader business community. Corporate giving programs, for example, are one of the ways to practice good corporate citizenship.
One way to include charitable giving as a corporate value is with a charitable giving program. You can match employee contributions or support employee volunteer efforts. Groundswell automates charitable giving and makes it an easily administered part of your employee benefits package.
Good Management Means Change
Management has evolved. The requirements for how to be a good manager have less to do with control and more to do with how well managers can inspire others to perform at the highest levels. These managers are adept at handling a diversity of ideas, opinions and approaches to getting the work done. They freely share their knowledge and help others to be the best version of themselves. These are the managers that will sustain the best companies in the future.
If you’re interested in a corporate giving program that will capture the hearts of your employees, Groundswell is the way to go. We make corporate giving easy. Find out how you can get a leg up on the Talent War. Contact us for more information.
Why Are Employee Benefits So Important? Here’s What You Should Know
No one disputes the importance of employee benefits. Employee benefits matter because they demonstrate how much the company cares about and appreciates its employees. Benefits support an employee’s health and well-being, their loved ones and even their financial literacy.
Although health care benefits top the list of the most desired, there are other perks that companies can offer that employees really want. Why are employee benefits important? They increasingly reflect changing employee priorities and the things that are most important in their lives.
According to Deloitte, salary is less important to Gen Z than to other generations. However, researchers found that just 20% of Gen Z would work for a company that did not share their values. That may be a tall order for many companies. But it doesn’t have to be so complicated.
Benefits That Actually Matter
Gen Z and millennials are looking for companies that go beyond the absolute minimum. That doesn’t mean beer-and-pizza Fridays, however. So what does it mean? For companies that want to attract the best and brightest, it means you may need to look at benefits through an entirely different lens.
Companies aren’t limited to a small selection of benefits. In addition to the ubiquitous health insurance, there are several categories of perks that will enhance your benefits package. Most of all, it’s about making responsible choices that keep in mind the communities you serve.
5 Advantages of a Great Employee Benefits Package
But first, what are the advantages of a great employee benefits package? We know that benefits matter to employees. Benefits flow to the company as well. For example, you will be better positioned to:
1. Attract and Retain Top Talent
When you value your employees, it shows in how you treat them. It’s not simply about the number of benefits, but the values that these benefits reflect.
2. Support Holistic Wellness
Employees that are mentally, physically and financially sound are better able to perform at top levels. They bring their whole selves to work each day.
3. Increase Productivity
When employees are treated well, they want to be more productive in their roles. They find ways to do more with less and they put in more time during the day.
4. Boost Engagement and Morale
Of course, employees want to be paid a fair wage. But they also want recognition and appreciation. A good benefits package signals that they are respected and that what matters to them matters to the company.
5. Improve Your Image
Good corporate citizenry along with happy employees is a combination that is unbeatable when it comes to building brand equity. Further, research says that when you treat people well, it’s reflected in how they treat customers.
Different Types of Employee Benefits
When you want to enhance your benefits package, there are many options. The benefits described below are not mandatory. Some, however, are considered standard and without them it would be difficult to attract the best employees.
Here are some of the most popular categories of benefits:
In addition to routine medical care, health care benefits may also include dental, vision and hospitalization. Many companies offer accounts that allow employees to put aside money for health care expenses that are not covered elsewhere. These include flexible spending accounts (FSA), health savings accounts (HSA) and health reimbursement accounts (HSA). The main differences between them are who contributes — employees, employers or both — and whether or not the funds roll over from year to year.
A subset of health care, wellness benefits include everything from on-site workout facilities and yoga classes to gym memberships and smoking cessation clinics. In addition, there are paid fitness apps and other wellness tools available online.
Work-life is a broad category that may overlap with some of the other groupings listed here. This benefit includes the types of perks that make it easier for working people to take paid time off to enjoy sufficient rest or tend to personal responsibilities. They include such things as vacation days, maternity and paternity leave, time off for caregiver responsibilities and, in more recent years, flexible scheduling and work-from-home opportunities.
Paid Sick Leave
While there isn’t a sick leave policy for short-term illnesses on a federal level, some states — California and New York are two — mandate paid leave for employees. Employees who lack sick leave are more likely to go to work, a major factor in the spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19, according to public health officials.
Another benefit that has become increasingly popular are “mental health days.” This may be included as part of sick days or may be separate.
According to a recent study, employees spend 25% of their workweek dealing with financial issues. These types of benefits have also experienced a surge in popularity. Bank of America reported that in 2021, 46% of employers included some form of financial wellness benefit in their employee offerings. The types of programs are wide and varied and may include retirement planning, insurance, investing, financial literacy, budgeting and tax planning.
For most Gen Zers and millennials, the defined benefit retirement plan does not exist. Of course, employers don’t have to be involved. But when employees don’t plan properly it contributes significantly to stress levels. Employers can help with 401K plans even if they don’t offer matching contributions. In addition to the aforementioned, there are planning tools, workshops and education. They can also support retirement transitions, for example, with flexible scheduling or reduced hours.
Well-trained employees are able to contribute to the company in significant ways. In addition to learning new skills, they are versed in recent trends and emerging opportunities in the industry.
Training is easier than ever before with the latest publications and options for online learning and podcasts right at your fingertips. Employers can offer tuition reimbursement, company-sponsored workshops and classes, and time off to pursue continuing education classes at a university or trade school.
Companies who care about the environment may offer an incentive to employees to take public transportation, carpool, ride bikes or walk to work. This incentive can reduce the cost of a bus ticket or provide a little extra padding in the budget each month.
Charitable Giving and Volunteerism
This is a benefit that appeals directly to employees who are looking for companies that are good corporate citizens. The benefits include, for example, matching all or a portion of charitable donations and providing time off for volunteering. Some companies sponsor a school, a local nonprofit or other charitable organization and may offer employees the opportunity to volunteer — or even manage a project — with pay.
Offer Benefits That Engage and Retain
Companies are becoming increasingly creative in the benefits they offer. The above list is not all-inclusive. However, these benefits are among the top contenders when it comes to engaging and retaining your workforce.
Why consider a charitable giving program? It allows you to be a good corporate citizen while at the same time giving employees something that’s important to them. Not everyone is interested in yoga classes or budgeting apps. But most employees have a favorite charity and the desire to do their part.
If you’re interested in a charitable giving program as part of your benefits package, contact Groundswell today. Benefits don’t have to be complicated or expensive. Employees appreciate companies that value the things that are most important to them.
Donation Match Programs for Charitable Giving: How It Works and How To Set One Up
Donation matching is a form of corporate giving that effectively doubles employees’ contributions to causes that matter to them. The premise is simple: When an employee makes a financial donation to a charity, the company contributes a matching amount, effectively doubling the donation amount.
What Are the Benefits of Donation Matching?
The benefit of match programs for nonprofits and charities is obvious — they get double the donations for the amount of fundraising work they do. But there are also benefits for the employees and for the company.
For corporations, donation matching is an effective, efficient way of engaging in corporate philanthropy. The company can establish guidelines for the type of organizations it will support but otherwise allow their giving to be led by employees. This type of employee-centered giving:
Makes them feel more empowered
Improves employee morale
Increases employee loyalty and “team spirit”
In addition, there are benefits for the wider community, as noted in a recent research paper on corporate giving: Because employees are often closer to the community, they have a deeper view of organizations that are doing the most effective and beneficial work within that community.
Finally, donation matching is an easy, structured way for a corporation to engage in corporate social responsibility (CSR). Match programs allow companies to build relationships with local organizations that are important to their employees, reaping the goodwill benefit that goes along with supporting good works in the community.
How Traditional Donation Match Programs Work
While there are slight variations, most traditional donation matching programs follow these basic steps:
The employee makes a donation to an eligible organization (more on that later).
They fill out a form, either on paper or electronically, that includes the details of their donation and requests that the company match their donation.
The company reviews the request.
If the request is approved, the company sends a check for a matching amount.
As you can see, this involves a lot of work — and control — on the part of the employer and their HR office. It also creates a number of barriers to giving:
Employees can only donate to organizations chosen by the employer.
They must fill out forms and submit them. Each year, as much as $7 billion in matching donation funds go unused, largely because employees forget to ask for the match.
Charities must wait for the second part of the donation, which also effectively doubles their bookkeeping burden.
Finally, some employees choose not to submit their donations for a match because they don’t want to reveal the causes they support to their employers.
Groundswell Has Reimagined Donation Matching
Groundswell has totally reimagined the way that donation matching programs work. In the Groundswell model, employees have complete control over their own giving and the causes they support. Plus, the charitable organization gets the full amount of the donation all at once, and the HR department is freed up to focus on supporting staff in other important ways.
Here’s how donation matching works the Groundswell way:
Groundswell creates a Donor Advised Fund for each employee.
The company can include tax-free contributions to the employee’s DAF as part of their total compensation package.
The employee can allocate a portion of their pay to their DAF, with rules-based matching opportunities for the company.
Employees distribute the funds in their DAF to the causes that matter to them, when and how they see fit.
Charities receive the funds when and how the employee decides to make donations.
Employees can track their funds, make investments, and access all the tools they need to receive the most benefit from their philanthropy.
That’s it. By removing the friction from the process, Groundswell empowers employees to give more to the causes they truly care about in a way that provides maximum benefit for themselves, their employers and the causes they support.
How To Start a Donation Matching Program
These are the key steps for starting a donation matching program at your company.
Identify your purpose and set reasonable goals. This step is often overlooked but is vital to creating a program that aligns with your company’s overall CSR strategy.
Set a budget for your corporate giving.
Define the guidelines for your program.
Establish the process for submitting, approving and distributing matching gifts.
Publicize the program to employees, charities and the community.
Typical Donation Match Guidelines
A traditional donation match program requires a lot of groundwork in advance of deploying. Groundswell simplifies the entire process, and our team will be there to help you establish sensible rules for eligibility and donation funding.
Managing It All
Managing a matching gift program can be time-consuming for the HR office, but there are ways to make it easier and more transparent for both HR and the employees. Our mobile-first app puts all the information and tools for donor-advised giving into the hands of each employee, allowing them to manage and track the benefits of their giving. Reach out to our team to learn how Groundswell can help you build and deploy an effective, engaging donation match program for your company.