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Political Conversations

Knowing the Limits of Political Conversations at Work

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Having political conversations in the office can be difficult, especially in the wake of a divisive post-election season. When employees from various walks of life work in the same space, there’s more opportunity for political disagreements and potentially toxic office conversations.

Determining how your organization will handle political activity in your organization remains a blind spot for many organizations. A 2016 SHRM survey reported that 72% of HR professionals said their companies discourage political activities in the workplace, but only 24% of organizations have a written policy. To further muddy the waters, 8% reported having an unwritten policy that was not communicated explicitly.

 For more tips on how to manage political conversations at work, check out our  HR Break Room podcast episode, Political Conversations at Work: Should HR Pass It or Veto It

These heated conversations make way for an important question for employees and HR to consider: What are your organization’s rules and limits in participating in politics?

Private institutions are king.

It’s important to note that not all organizations operate under the same rules and regulations when it comes to engaging in political discourse or being active in political campaigns. For instance, because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling in 2010, private employers have the right to make their opinions and preferences known to both employees and the public.

This ruling also gives private organizations a great deal of leeway in handling political discourse and policy on their own terms. They are not prohibited from restricting employees’ speech and even can have employees participate in political campaigns on the clock.

What’s even more surprising? The Bill of Rights doesn’t protect workers in the private sector from being fired over speech in or outside the workplace – it only prevents the government from infringing upon citizen’s speech.

What can nonprofits do?

The rights of private organizations differ quite a bit from the rights of nonprofits. Organizations that want to maintain the highly sought-after 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status are forbidden from participating in partisan “political campaigns” or else risk having that status revoked by the IRS.

However, the definition of “political campaign” can be ambiguous, especially when nonprofits are allowed to participate in such nonpartisan activities as voter registration drives and legislative advocacy programs.

Here’s a quick breakdown of nonprofit advocacy groups and what they can/can’t do in the political arena:

  • 501(c)(3) groups – are religious, charitable, scientific or educational organizations and are not supposed to engage in any political activities, though some voter registration activities are permitted.
  • 501(c)(4) groups – are social welfare groups and organizations that may engage in political activities, as long as these activities do not become their primary purpose.
  • 501(c)(5)groups – are labor and agricultural organizations that may engage in political activities, as long as these activities do not become their primary purpose.
  • 501(c)(6)groups – are business leagues, chambers of commerce, real estate boards and boards of trade may engage in political activities, as long as these activities do not become their primary purpose.

 

The next three nonprofit groups exist FOR political purposes:

  • 527groups – are tax-exempt groups organized under section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code to raise money for political activities. These groups are typically parties, candidates, committees or associations organized for the purpose of influencing an issue, policy, appointment or election, be it federal, state or local.
  • Hybrid PACs (Carey Committees) – these nonprofit committee groups are not affiliated with a candidate and has the ability to contributing funds to a candidate’s committee and to make independent expenditures, as long as they have separate bank accounts for each purpose.
  • Political Action Committee (PAC)– these nonprofit committees raise and spend limited money contributions for the purpose of electing or defeating political candidates.

 

To know how to make the best company policy at a nonprofit, it is important to understand how the IRS determines these terms. The IRS uses what it calls “facts and circumstances” to determine whether nonprofit organizations are engaging in partisan political activity. This means certain activities not normally considered political in a non-election year could be considered political two months before or after an election.

When determining how your 501(c)(3) organization gets involved in political activities, it’s crucial to consider the nature and goals of the activity before deciding whether it is worth the potential risk.

Few organizations have policy.

Whether a Fortune 500 company or a local nonprofit, knowing exactly what your organization’s limits are in participating in politics helps employees understand expectations and act accordingly. These allowances and their boundaries also can help you determine how to handle these political conversations when they inevitably arise at work.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to manage these sensitive political topics, please subscribe to Paycom’s HR Break Room podcast and listen to our latest episode with special guest Robin Schooling.


caleb.masters

by Caleb Masters


Author Bio: Caleb is the host of The HR Break Room and a Webinar and Podcast Producer at Paycom. With more than 5 years of experience as a published online writer and content producer, Caleb has produced dozens of podcasts and videos for multiple industries both local and online. Caleb continues to assist organizations creatively communicate their ideas and messages through researched talks, blog posts and new media. Outside of work, Caleb enjoys running, discussing movies and trying new local restaurants.

Veterans

8 Ways Veterans Improve Your Workforce

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Is your recruiting team actively seeking veterans to fill your open positions? If not, you could be missing out on an unbeatable combination of skills and experience. Not only are military personnel often cross-trained in a variety of useful skills, but they also have invaluable experience that can benefit your organization. The available Work Opportunity Tax Credit even provides a federal tax incentive for companies that hire eligible veterans.

I know firsthand the value that veterans can bring to a business. We are grateful for the servicewomen and servicemen who work for Paycom, for both their service to our country and the talents they bring to our corporation.

Recently, I sat with a roomful of Paycom employees who are also veterans. I spoke with linguists, a combat medic and a radar technician representing the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps and the Army National Guard.

I asked these veterans to share which elements of their service they are most proud to carry into their civilian work. Here’s some of what they shared with me.

  1. Punctuality

The military is no-nonsense when it comes to respecting others’ time. If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late. And if you’re late, you’re in trouble.

  1. Getting the most out of limited resources

Maximizing the use of available resources is a key skill. Veterans know how to get more done with less, because there’s no guarantee that you’ll have everything you could possibly need in a crisis situation.

  1. Adaptability

Important lessons are learned in the field – and not just during training. It’s crucial for an individual to be flexible enough to take new information and apply it to future situations.

  1. Great listening skills

A linguist in our group noted that active listening was an especially important skill in the field. Active listening can improve communication and ensure that projects are completed as expected the first time.

  1. Attention to detail

Being able to reliably pay attention to small but critical details is essential for success in the military. This ability translates into any number of civilian jobs.

  1. Being organized

Our veterans noted that you really don’t have the option of being disorganized in the military – which means that veterans know how to get and stay organized.

  1. Problem-solving

As one veteran shared, “In Afghanistan, our mission was something like 90% boredom and 10% sheer terror. So in that 10% time of sheer terror, you have to be able to fix a problem in a very short period of time.”

In times of chaos, quick decision-making carries the day. This problem-solving ability serves veterans well once they’re back in civilian life, too.

  1. Teamwork

Military personnel work with people from all walks of life and all skill levels. Being easy to work with in diverse groups helps everyone do their jobs better. Veterans know that success depends on an entire team working together to achieve results.

These capable men and women can bring a wide variety of skills that can improve any work environment, and they’ve certainly contributed a lot to ours.

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Posted in Blog, Featured, Leadership, Talent Acquisition, Talent Management

Jim Quillen

by Jim Quillen


Author Bio: As director of tax at Paycom, Jim Quillen is responsible for ensuring payments and returns are filed timely and accurately. Quillen, a CPA by training, has worked in many fields during his career, including finance, auditing, recruiting, sales, business development and software implementation. Prior to his current role, Quillen has served Paycom as the director of business intelligence, director of new client implementation and director of recruiting.

applicants’ criminal history

California ‘Ban the Box’ Law to Take Effect Jan. 1

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Last month, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1008 (AB 1008), placing new restrictions on employers’ ability to make hiring decisions based on applicants’ criminal history. Effective Jan. 1, 2018, AB 1008 also limits when employers may ask applicant about that history.

Prior to this legislation, “ban the box” protections only prohibited state and local agencies from asking about conviction information before the applicant was determined qualified for the position. The new law extends the protections to all applicants applying to an employer in California with five or more employees.

Under AB 1008, consideration of an applicant’s criminal history is permissible only after the employer has made a conditional offer of employment. At that point, employers may not rescind the employment offer based on the criminal history until they have performed an individualized assessment.

Individualized assessments of an applicants’ criminal history

An individualized assessment is a process to justify denying an applicant a position by linking their criminal history to specific job duties. For example, if an employer is considering an individual for a cashier position, which would involve handling large sums of cash, the employer may determine a shoplifting conviction to be reason for disqualifying, because the conviction relates to specific job duties.

An individual assessment must consider:

  • the nature and gravity of the offense and conduct
  • the time passed since the offense or conduct and completion of the sentence
  • the nature of the job held or sought

Also, the employer must notify the applicant in writing once a preliminary decision is made. This notice is not required to contain a justification for the preliminary decision, but the employer must:

  • provide written notice of the disqualifying conviction or convictions that are the basis for the preliminary decision to rescind the offer
  • include a copy of the conviction history report, if any
  • let the applicant know they have the right to respond to the notice within at least five business days
  • explain the candidate may submit evidence challenging the accuracy of the conviction record or present mitigating circumstances

During that five-day period, the employer cannot make any final hiring determinations based on conviction records. If the applicant responds, the employer must consider the information in the response before making a final decision.

California employers

AB 1008 contains a detailed process for California employers to follow when making employment decisions based on criminal history. Employers should review these changes and adjust policies and procedures accordingly to ensure compliance by Jan. 1, 2018.

Disclaimer: This blog includes general information about legal issues and developments in the law. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You need to contact a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction for advice on specific legal problems.

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Posted in Blog, California, Compliance, Featured

Jason Hines

by Jason Hines


Author Bio: Jason Hines is a Paycom compliance attorney. With more than five years’ experience in the legal field, he monitors developments in human resource laws, rules and regulations to ensure any changes are promptly updated in Paycom’s system for our clients. Previously, he was an attorney at the Oklahoma City law firm Elias, Books, Brown & Nelson. Hines earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Oklahoma and his juris doctor degree from the Oklahoma City University School of Law, where he graduated cum laude. A fan of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Hines also enjoys exploring the great outdoors with his wife and daughter.

How The Fred Factor Can Transform Your Customer Service

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In 1982, leadership expert and motivational speaker Mark Sanborn moved into a neighborhood where his view of customer service was transformed. In his first internationally best-selling book, The Fred Factor: How Passion in Your Work and Life Can Turn the Ordinary into the Extraordinary, he tells the story of a postman who revolutionized the way he looked at customer service and the idea of “going above and beyond.”

Sanborn had just moved into a new home in the Washington Park area of Denver when Fred, a seemingly ordinary United States Postal Service carrier with a small, thin mustache, introduced himself one day during his route. However, Fred was no ordinary mailman.

As Sanborn came to discover, Fred was the kind of worker who exemplified everything “right” with customer service. He was “a gold-plated example of what personalized service looks like and a role model for anyone who wants to make a difference in his or her work.”

Join us as Mark Sanborn, provides the answer through four powerful tools that business leaders and HR professionals can use to help others pursue their potential, which in turn, helps improve engagement and a company’s bottom line during our free Nov. 16 webinar.

In The Fred Factor, Sanborn describes how each of us can become a “Fred.”

What makes someone a ’Fred’?

A “Fred” is someone who goes above and beyond the normal call of duty, regardless of recognition or reward. And that’s the key part: regardless of recognition or reward. These employees demonstrate a spirit of service, innovation and commitment. This “Fred Factor” will help you at work and in your personal life.

Here are four principles from the book that can help you become a Fred.

  1. Everyone makes a difference

No matter your position, ultimately it’s up to you to do your job in an extraordinary way. There are no unimportant jobs, just people who feel unimportant doing them. More satisfaction exists in being a first-rate truck driver than a tenth-rate executive.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep the streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep the streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’”

Think about the ways this applies to you and your job, and remember: What you do every day matters and has an effect on others.

  1. Success is built on relationships

Indifferent people provide indifferent service. Building strong relationships with your colleagues will help you work better together and provide an even higher level of customer service.

You can improve the service you provide by getting to know your customers better, too. Service becomes personalized when a relationship exists between the provider and the customer. For example, think about your hairdresser or barber: Would the hair-care experience be a good one if the two of you weren’t on friendly terms? Would you be willing to spend hours with this person every other month or so if he or she wasn’t personable? Probably not.

What can you do to build relationships with the people you work with, including the customers you frequently serve?

  1. Continually create value

Creating value doesn’t have to cost a thing. Ever feel like you don’t have enough money, training or other resources to perform at a high level? Fred had only a uniform and a bag of mail, and still he managed to provide exceptional customer service. His own creativity and drive helped him succeed, and it didn’t cost him or the company a single penny.

Your imagination and creativity can help you go above and beyond too! If all Fred needed was a bag of mail and a uniform, think of everything you can accomplish with the resources you have at your fingertips.

You can be an employee who gives your company a competitive advantage by creating value for your clients and colleagues. Want to bet that will help you in your professional life?

  1. Reinvent yourself regularly

Most of us fall short of what we are capable of accomplishing. If you want to reach your full potential, mediocrity is your silent opponent. Doing just enough to get by means you’ll never know how much you could accomplish.

Think of the effort and originality Fred brought to delivering the mail. If he could bring such value to putting letters in a box, how much more can you bring to your position? Just getting by won’t help you reach your goals; pursuing innovation and creativity can help you gain real value and meaning from your work.

No matter your position or circumstances, you get to start with a clean slate every day. You can orient your professional (and personal) life any direction you choose!

The way to move through life joyfully is by focusing on what you give rather than what you get. You do the right thing not because you have to, but because it’s right. All work is honorable; always do your best, because someone is watching. This is the “Fred Factor”!

After putting these ideas to practice, you may wonder, “What’s next?” If you want to make sure you’re reaching your full potential (even after achieving your goals), join us for our live webinar Nov. 16, when Sanborn provides the answer through four powerful tools that business leaders and HR professionals can use. Register for free here.

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Posted in Blog, Employee Experience, Featured, Leadership

Chelsea Justice

by Chelsea Justice


Author Bio: Chelsea is co-host Paycom’s HR Break Room podcast, editor-in-chief of its corporate culture magazine, Paycom Pulse and is Paycom’s communications supervisor. During her more than eight years in marketing, corporate training and communications, she has created hundreds of magazines, training guides, videos and webinars for multiple industries. In her free time, Chelsea is planning her next travel adventure, perfecting her most recent baking recipe, devouring a good book and, above all, spending time with family.

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