Arts Innovation Day Recap: A Nonprofit Heart but a For-Profit Discipline

Arts Innovation Day Recap - HR Policies
The Greater Hartford Arts Council’s “Arts Innovation Day” workshop held at Aetna on June 3, 2016

By: Tracey Mozdzierz of Judy Dworin Performance Project

How does a small nonprofit navigate around the many challenges of employing and engaging their staff?  Who are our staff members?  What is a contractor?  Are we responsible for our volunteers too? We love and need them all but at what point does the organization need to create policies and procedures?  Jill Silliman, HR Director for Prudential Retirement and Joann Gomes, HR Director for the Max Restaurant Group navigated us through some of our tougher questions in their presentation at Arts Innovation Day, June 3rd.

To start, we needed a basic understanding of HR:

  • Contractors vs.
  • Union Organizers vs.
  • Employees

When we think of these individuals we need to realize the two reasons why HR policies exist:

  1. Intended to Maintain Structures:
  • Maintain order for employees, contractors , volunteers and Board members, etc.
  • Create a set of standards and expectations for each group either through broad policies or policies specific to their role.
  1. Manage Risk:
  • Organizations need policies to manage risk and hold individuals accountable
  • Volunteers, without written standards or policies, could inadvertently misrepresent the organization.

Based on why HR Policies exist, what policies are needed and why:

Attendance or Paid Time Off (“PTO”) Policy:  Having an attendance policy and/or PTO policy creates structure for the organization’s workflow.  Organizations with over 50 employees must follow the state of CT’s paid sick time statute – employees accrue 1 hour of sick time for every 40 hours they work whether they are full or part time.  Many organization have gone from separating sick, personal and vacation time to consolidating it to PTO.

Leave of Absence Policy:  Organizations with greater than 50 employees must follow the FMLA unpaid leave policy.  Organizations with less than 50 employees should set their own policy for unpaid leave to establish structure and a set of expectations for employees.

Performance Management Policy:  A policy or contract between the employee and the employer sets a clear outline of what is good work vs. bad work and the expectation to the organization for the employee’s performance.  CT is an at-will state:  Based on state law, every employee is an at-will employee.  Many organizations set up a 90-probation period in which the employee is evaluated at the end to see if they fit the needs of the organization.  After 90 days, the employee is a permanent part of the organization and if they are fired or laid off, the organization must pay them unemployment.  Nonprofits are able to defer paying into the unemployment system if they are small enough BUT if an employee is dismissed and collects then the entire amount of the former employee’s unemployment allotment falls onto the organization.  Also, unemployment claims can be contested but the employer is responsible for providing documentation as well as dates and times when they met and discussed with the employee the issues around their job performance.  If this happens in your organization, it is recommended that you review the resources below to find assistance to walk through the process.

Other types of policies that could be helpful in establishing structure and managing risk are:

  • Social Media Policies (this policy allows you to measure the risk of your organization’s reputation)
  • Violence in the Workplace Policies
  • Dress Code Policies
  • Discrimination Policies

HR Role has expanded over the years from:

  • Payroll
  • Benefits Administration
  • Staffing
  • Employee Paperwork
  • Attendance Tracking

To now include:

  • Business Partner
  • Workforce Planning
  • Leadership and Employee Development
  • Market Intelligence
  • Organizational Design
  • Safety and Wellness
  • Benefit and Design Reporting

In creating policies, it is important to have a nonprofit heart but a for-profit discipline.

Resources that are available for HR information:

  • CT Department of Labor: http://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/.  Here you will find information on trainings and classes for staff on unemployment.
  • CT Business and Industry Association: http://www.cbia.com/.  This is a membership based organization but there are many, many resources regarding HR policies and procedures.
  • Small Business Administration: https://www.sba.gov .  Another resource to look at for HR policies and procedures.

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