impactnews: Letter from Kelly Mitchell, Principal, impactHR

With the holidays upon us, I hope you’ve had a productive, healthy and fulfilling year. From all of us at impactHR, please allow me to say it continues to be our sincere privilege to be of help and service to so many companies and organizations in support of their human resources and business strategy needs.

In looking ahead to a new year, it’s always helpful to look back and assess where we’ve been the last 12 months. It seems safe to say, no matter your personal political views, that 2016 has been a year of palpable flux and uncertainty in HR and in many related fields. Maybe “whirlwind” is the appropriate word. And it appears likely this dynamic will continue in 2017.

To be sure, we saw a number of major HR-related policy initiatives play out this year. Chief among these were the new federal overtime rules that were slated to go into effect this past December 1, and now postponed indefinitely. In addition, voters in 19 states recently approved increases in their minimum wage levels while two states – Washington and Arizona – approved mandatory paid sick leave laws. And, with a new administration coming into office, we’re closely monitoring any expected efforts to repeal or change provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

On the other side of the coin, I’m very pleased to see an increase in the number of companies and organizations which are investing in the overall development of their employees, including new programs for management training and career development. This also includes activities to help employees with personal and professional goal-setting through the year.

I’m also seeing a renewed focus on organizational initiatives to improve employee recruitment and retention. Companies and organizations we work with, for example, are making strategic points to promote more employees from within while simultaneously working to understand better why employees leave for new opportunities.

Collectively, these are very good trends to see play out. As HR professionals, we are passionate about working with employers who want to focus proactively on investing in and building up their people and their organizational cultures.

With this in mind, I’d like to reiterate, in closing, that it’s a great privilege for me and for all of us at impactHR to be of help to our client companies and organizations. We treasure each of our client relationships as well as with our partners and friends. We look forward, with great energy and dedication, to continue being your go-to firm for HR support and consulting in the year ahead.

Thank you and my best wishes to you for the holidays and the new year.

Sincerely yours,

Kelly Mitchell, MS, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Reminder: USCIS Unveils Revised Form I-9 for All New U.S. Hires by Jan. 22, 2017

As a quick year-end reminder, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has published a revised version of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification.

By Jan. 22, 2017, employers must use only this new version (dated 11/14/2016). Until then, employers can continue using the version dated 03/08/2013 or the new, just-released version. Among the changes in the new version, Section 1 asks for “other last names used” rather than “other names used,” and streamlines certification for certain foreign nationals. Other changes include:

*The addition of prompts to ensure information is entered correctly
*The ability to enter multiple preparers and translators
*A dedicated area for including additional information rather than having to add it in the margins
*A supplemental page for the preparer/translator

Your End-of-Year HR Checklist: Getting Ready for 2017

The end of the year presents a great opportunity to evaluate the components of your HR function to prepare for optimum efficiency at the start of the new year. Here is a quick checklist of tasks and processes to consider reviewing and freshening up to help you get ready for 2017:

HR infrastructure – Review your current HR structure to determine the effectiveness and efficiency of services provided throughout the organization with a special focus on staffing levels, technology and operating procedures.

Technology – Review your employee data management, record-keeping and retention policy and data flow management (such as the effectiveness of data exchange across the organization).

Compliance – Complete an overview of the legally required aspects of employee management practices with an audit of all documents, records and policies to ensure you’re in compliance with relevant federal, state and local regulations.

Here is a snapshot checklist of key HR practices/processes to review for compliance, clarity, completeness and accuracy:

*Personnel files
*Medical files
*I-9 files
*Terminated employment records/files
*Employment files and process
*File documentation
*Salary and compensation
*Performance management issues
*Management development
*Employee development
*Reward and recognition practices
*Termination practices

With a new year around the corner, it’s also a good idea to consider reviewing and updating your current employee handbook content. Or if your organization or company doesn’t have a handbook yet, it’s an even better time to begin the process of building one for your employees.

Here are some questions to ask when reviewing or building your employee handbook:

*Are there any policy updates that need to be made?
*Have any procedures changed that need updating?
*Does it contain clear, consistent and concise language?
*Is the employee handbook orderly and well-organized?
*Does the handbook reflect your unique company culture?

Providing a polished, organized employee handbook can help build and maintain good relationships with your employees. Ideally, your handbook should be updated annually to ensure policies and procedures are current. It also needs to reflect applicable changes in law that occurred during the past year. Lastly, it’s important to look at and refine where necessary your handbook’s language and tone. This helps remove imprecise or confusing language in the handbook, promoting clarity and understanding among your employees.

Happy holidays and our best wishes for the new year!

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