A Bright Spot in the Software Market: Data Analytics

by Jeanne Knutzen | July 12, 2013

2 Blog, IT Staffing IT employment agencies in seattle, IT employment agencies in seattle wa, IT employment agencies seattle, IT employment agencies seattle wa, IT employment agencies seattle washington

The global enterprise software market may be experiencing a general slowdown across multiple sectors, but there’s one area that seems to be generating a disproportionate degree of optimism: data analytics. These include data delivery systems, security platforms, CRM applications, collaborative applications, and network management software. While the rest of the software market experienced a 2012 growth rate of roughly half the rate of 2011 and 2010, these areas underwent a surge of about seven percent. The market for new technologies and software solutions is becoming increasingly multi-layered, with certain selective areas experiencing higher demand while others stagnate. Big Data, led by Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, and SAP, appears to be one of these focused areas. The desire to manage and leverage information is driving this demand, and in their hunger for reliable infrastructures, companies are pouring vast investments into network-management tools. The firms listed above have been spending the last two years increasing their storage software offerings and adding customization options and scalability to their existing infrastructures, security tools, and product suites. These efforts were launched in anticipation of burgeoning growth in these areas, and they seem to be paying off. Companies taking advantage of increasingly sophisticated CRM platforms, for example, are turning their software investments into hard conversions and appear to have no regrets. According to the same types of ethnographic research and marketing studies that predicted these outcomes, the next wave of both data management and customer management will happen in the areas of social business software and mobile optimization. This may be a wise moment to consider adopting social business strategy, or a redirect of social media tools for business use. Meanwhile, businesses are also scrambling to bring their ecommerce platforms and CRM tools to mobile devices, including smartphones, tablets, and e-readers. The Seattle staffing experts at PACE can help you attract talented IT professionals to help develop your data analytics. Contact PACE to utilize our network and resources in the Seattle tech industry.

Should You Become a Healthcare Administrator?

by Jeanne Knutzen | July 2, 2013

0 Blog, Healthcare Staffing A Career In Health Administration, healthcare administration jobs in seattle, healthcare administration jobs seattle, healthcare administration jobs seattle wa, Seattle Staffing, Seattle Staffing Agencies, Seattle Staffing Agency, Seattle Temporary Staffing, Seattle WA Staffing, Staffing In Seattle

Healthcare Administrators, also sometimes called Health Administrators or Healthcare Managers, form the backbone of functional healthcare facilities like hospitals, nursing homes, and urgent care clinics. While doctors, RNs, and medical practitioners handle the clinical needs of patients and clients, healthcare administrators oversee the entire clinic and handle the hiring and scheduling of these practitioners. Administrators also manage the operational needs of the facility including vendor contracts, supplies, and budgeting. This is a position of high responsibility and high reward, and the outlook for this role is very promising. Healthcare administrators are in high demand right now, and this demand is expected to grow substantially over the next ten years. Should you pursue a career in this field? Here are few considerations that can help you decide.

  • The pay. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare administrators can expect to make an average of about 45,000 dollars at the entry level, and more experienced administrators can earn salaries between 50,000 and 110,000 per year. This rate varies slightly by geographic area.
  • The available opportunities. Healthcare administrators can pursue management positions in both large and small facilities in both the public and private sector. As a wave of baby boomers approach retirement age, the healthcare industry is expected to expand rapidly, and a parallel trend is occurring as facilities become increasingly specialized. Where people used to face only two choices when they needed treatment—hospitals and private clinics—they can now choose between a wide range of options from urgent care clinics to physical therapy centers.
  • The path. Those who choose to enter this field usually start by earning a four year degree in health administration, public policy, or business management. Some administrators then go on to obtain a Master’s degree, while others launch their careers with state or federal healthcare agencies working to shape the laws that impact public health.
  • The qualities necessary for success. Healthcare administrators who tend to thrive in this field usually possess qualities like a strong work ethic, organizational skills, and high levels of emotional and social energy. They often have excellent business sense and planning skill. Many of them enjoy the personal sense of reward that comes from helping those in need, and this role provides that reward without involving the hands-on clinical side of the healthcare industry.
If a future in healthcare administration seems like a match for your skills and interests; reach out to the Seattle healthcare staffing experts at Pace.

The Search for a Great Recruiter

by Jeanne Knutzen | June 28, 2013

0 Blog, Human Resource Roles job offer letters, job recruiters seattle, Qualities Of Great Recruiters, recruiters in seattle, recruiters seattle, recruiters seattle wa, Seattle Staffing, Seattle Staffing Agencies, Seattle Staffing Agency, Seattle Temporary Staffing, Seattle WA Staffing, Staffing In Seattle, The Search For a Great Recruiter, What To Look For In A Recruiter

A sharp, highly experienced recruiter can be an invaluable member of your hiring team. And establishing an ongoing relationship with a well-connected recruiting firm may be the best hiring move you ever make. But even as your recruiters head out into the world to represent your company and help you find the strongest candidates, you’ll still need to screen and select those recruiters based on your own specific staffing needs. So how can you identify the recruiters and firms that are likely to bring the best results? Here are a few signs to look for before you make a commitment. 1. Great recruiters are great listeners. Your positions come with very specific requirements and skill demands, and in order to understand these requirements, a recruiter has to possess a basic understanding of how your company works and how each position contributes to the larger picture. When you sit with your recruiter and explain a specific role, does he or she listen closely, ask the right questions and remember details accurately? 2. Great recruiters are well connected. They’re socially savvy, tech savvy, and have wide professional networks at their disposal, both online and off. They’re an active presence at industry events, they have long lists of contacts and vast online footprints, and they’re known and respected wherever they go. 3. Great recruiters are experienced. The best staffing and recruiting firms have been in the business for a few years and have had plenty of opportunities to get the lay of the land. They’re also staffed with seasoned recruiters who can share with each other what they’ve learned. A team of five recruiters with an average of ten years in the field should amount to a firm with fifty collective years of experience. 4. Great recruiters can tell the difference between “impressive” and “relevant” credentials. They know how to weigh technical skill sets against qualities like adaptability and resilience. They know that “fit” often matters more than any other quality, and they know how to spot red flags and investigate them further in order to protect their clients from expensive mistakes. 5. Great recruiters use proven methods. They rely on efficient phone screening techniques, first round interviewing models, skill testing, and background checks to separate the best candidates from the rest of the pack. 6. Most important, great recruiters are fast and accurate communicators. When employers need them, they’re there. They answer messages quickly, source and screen applicants on tight deadlines, and make the needs of their clients a top priority. If you’re looking for a top-notch Seattle staffing team, arrange a consultation with the experts at Pace. We can help you find the right people with the skills you need to move your company forward.

What Our Clients Need to Know About the Affordable Care Act

by Jeanne Knutzen | June 28, 2013

0 ACA Affordable Healthcare, Blog, Healthcare Staffing, What's New in Staffing? Affordable Care Act, Affordable Healthcare – ACA Smart, American Staffing Association, ASA, Benefits, Healthcare, Seattle Staffing, Seattle Temporary Staffing, Temporary Staffing

What two years ago seemed like an event too far off to care about, the launch of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) this coming January 1st is now just around the corner. While there are still significant gaps in the clarity needed to fully comply with the 2700+ page law,  we now know that most of the regulations that are going to be activated in January have been written. It’s now time for employers to make decisions about how they will comply with the key provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Because we are still hearing our client’s asking questions about the basic components of the law, we wanted to share information provided to us by our national trade association, the ASA (American Staffing Association), which we think does a good job of outlining the key elements of the ACA and what it means to our clients. Since the staffing industry is significantly impacted by ACA mandates, our industry worked closely with the DHSS throughout the writing of the ACA regs. Key ACA Definitions 1. (Eligible) Full Time Employee: Any employee who averages at least 30 hours per week (130 hours per month; 1560 hours per year). 2. Seasonal Employees: Employees working less than 120 days in a year. Generally excluded from ACA coverage because not considered full time. 3. Healthcare Plan—Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC): References the requirement that a compliant healthcare plan after January 1st must cover healthcare basics, “the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease.” Many of the so called “mini med”, wellness, and preventative plans will not meet the MEC requirement. 4. Healthcare Plan—Minimum Value: References the requirement that a compliant healthcare plan cover at least 60% of the overall costs associated with 1) physician and mid-level practitioner services, 2) hospital and emergency care, 3) pharmacy costs, and 4) laboratory/ imaging services. Many high deductible plans will not meet Minimum Value requirements.

  • The IRS and DHSS are developing a Minimum Value Calculator and a safe harbor checklist that employers can use to see if their plan meets the Minimum Value test.
6. Affordability: Refers to the ACA requirement that the employee’s share of the costs associated with single-only plan can be no more than 9.5% of the employee’s income. 7. Play: Refers to the decision an employer might make to offer a healthcare plan that provides Minimum Essential Coverage to 95% of its full time employees and their dependent children under age 26 (NOTE: It is not mandated that spouses be offered the plan). Even employers who “play” may be subject to penalties if 1) their plan is not affordable, 2) they fail to offer the mandated coverage to at least 95% of their eligible employees, or 3) if they do not offer coverage that meets the Minimum Value test. 8. Pay: Refers to the decision an employer might make to not offer the Minimum Essential Coverage, making them subject to “failure to offer” penalties. 9. Administrative Period: Refers to the first 90 days of a new hire’s employment within which their employer is required to offer an eligible full time employee the mandated benefits. 10. Exchanges: The mechanism through which insurers will offer small employers (less than 100 employees) and individuals the ability to purchase health insurance. If a state doesn’t provide an exchange, the federal government is required to do so—Washington, Oregon and California have created exchanges. 11. Subsidies: The credits available to individuals who qualify for assistance in order to purchase coverage through an Exchange. The subsidy assists the individual but is provided directly to carriers Key ACA Requirements 1. Employer Requirements: Employers with 50 or more full time employees (and full time equivalents) must offer a healthcare insurance plan that provides minimum essential coverage (MEC) to 95% of their full time employees and their dependent children (the play option) or be subject to penalties (the pay option). 2. Employer Penalties:  Employers are subject to penalties whether they pay or play. The amount of the penalties varies: 3. Penalties for Employers who Play—“Inadequate Plan” Penalties:  If the plan offered is “unaffordable” or does not provide “minimum value” the penalty is $250/month (up to $3K annually) per impacted employee who seeks and is granted a government subsidy. 4. Penalties for Employers who Pay—“Failure to Offer” Penalties:  If the employer does not offer a MEC plan to 95% of their full time employees and their dependent children, the monthly tax is $167 (up to $2k annually) on ALL full time employees (minus their first 30). NOTE: Pay Penalties apply to all employees, not just the employees not covered and are not tax deductible. 5. Individual Requirements: Individuals must enroll in a healthcare plan that provides them and their dependents minimum essential coverage or pay penalties. If they do not obtain insurance through their employer or Medicaid, they are required to purchase an individual plan that will be offered to them through Exchanges. 6. Individual Penalties: The penalty for failing to have insurance is either a flat dollar amount per person or a percentage of household income.
  • 2014: $95 per person (up to 3 or $285) or 1% of household taxable income
  • 2015: $325 per person (up to 3 or $975) or 2% of household taxable income
  • 2016: $695 per person (up to 3 $2085) or 2.5% of household taxable income
  • 2017 and beyond – same as 2016 with Cost of Living increases
7. Individual’s Eligibility for Subsidies:  Individuals with household incomes determined to be 100-400% of federal poverty levels may be eligible for government funded subsidies that they can use to buy insurance through public health exchanges.  NOTE:  Employees are not eligible for coverage if they are on Medicaid or have been offered a healthcare plan that is both affordable and meets Minimum Essential Coverage by their employer and refused it. 8. State and Federal Public Health Insurance Exchanges
  • Provide a place for individuals or small employers to purchase of compliant healthcare insurance. Available plans will be categorized into one of four groupings: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum, plus a catastrophic plan.
  • Determine an employer’s or individual’s eligibility to purchase through the Exchange.
  • Determine the affordability of a plan offered to an individual through their employer.
  • Determine an individual’s eligibility for exemptions or subsidies.
9. New Discrimination Mandates
  • The regulations relating to the new discrimination provisions embedded in the ACA are not yet written and likely won’t be before 2015.
  • 2014 will allow differentiation in the plans offered to different employees and will allow different levels of employer contributions to those plans. Tiered/pay up plans are allowable in 2014.
  • Discriminations in favor of lower paid employees will remain permissible after 2014. Any employer can pay more for their lower paid employees to ensure what they offer meets “affordability” standards.
The ACA and Staffing - Unique Applications  1. Variable Hour Employees: Refers to employees working in a job where the length of employment or the hours of work each week is uncertain. The Variable Hour employee definition is assumed to apply to the majority of temporary or contract workers represented by the staffing industry who work on 1) an undetermined number of “short term” assignments, 2)  with a variety of clients, and 3) likely to be gaps between assignments.
  • Estimates are that only 10% of the current temporary and contract workforce will be benefit eligible.
  • The ASA is advising its members that assignments targeted to last less than six months will not be challenged if classified as “variable.” Assignments intended to last longer than six months are subject to “common sense” interpretations of the requirement of “uncertainty.”
2. Specific Rules for Variable Hour Employees:
  • Measurement Periods and the Look Back Rule: A look back/measurement period is a time period (ranging from 3 to 12 months as selected by the employer) during which a variable hour employee is determined to meet the test of full time status. To become eligible for coverage, an employee must average at least 30 hours per week during the measurement period.
3. Stability Periods. Stability periods must include the same number of months as the elected measurement period but are counted on a go-forward point from date of benefit eligibility. Employees working full time during the look back period will be benefit eligible during the go-forward stability period as long as they stay employed. NOTE: Employee must be covered during their stability period even if their hours of work are reduced to part-time status. 4. Staffing Firm Costs to Play include:
  • The cost of an affordable plan for 95% of eligible employees.
  • Minus the costs that would otherwise be associated with employees who opt out because they have coverage elsewhere
  • Plus the cost of penalties for any employees that receives subsidies because the plan offered is not affordable.
5. Staffing Firm Costs to Pay include:
  • A nondeductible monthly tax assessment of $166.67/month on all eligible employees (over the first 30). Penalties would be applied to ALL employees, covered or not.
6. Impact of Increased Costs on Clients
  • Expect 1-5% increase in bill rate
7. The Staffing Industry Challenge – “There are not a lot of Health Plans Designed for Temporary Workers“
  • Mini med plans no longer allowed. Fixed dollar indemnity plans—do not qualify as providing “minimum value;” preventive and wellness plans—won’t provide “Minimal Essential Coverage.”
  • New plans are expected to be developed between now and January 1st but with unknown costs and coverage.
The American Staffing Association and the ACA The American Staffing Association played an active role in writing ACA regulations. The ASA supports compliance with the law and urges its members not to participate in practices that violate either the substantive components of the law or its intent. The ASA strongly urges its members to avoid any arrangements with clients aimed at avoiding coverage or penalties. Activities the ASA believes will trigger an IRS audit include: 1) splitting hours of work between two entities when the employee is doing one job, 2) reducing employee headcounts below 50 for the purpose of avoiding ACA requirements, and 3) terminating, refusing to reassign, or limiting the hours of work for employees if the purpose is to deny coverage or penalties. Staffing can continue to be used for valid business reasons; fluctuating workloads, staffing special projects, managing turnover, auditioning processes, and legitimate part time work. For more information on the ACA and how it will impact your temporary workforce in 2014, contact us at infodesk@pacestaffing.com.

When It Comes To Purchasing Staffing Solutions – Words Matter

by Jeanne Knutzen | June 27, 2013

0 About Staffing Agencies, Agency Pricing Practices, Blog, Flexible Staffing Strategies, Human Resource Roles, INFO AND RESOURCES FOR EMPLOYERS get connected

What you call your flexible worker makes a difference in what vendor you talk to, how much you pay, and what you can expect! Here's why.... … Read More »

In Pursuit of Accountability

by Jeanne Knutzen | June 26, 2013

0 Blog, Human Resource Roles Contract Employees, Fearless Leadership, Loretta Malandro, Managers, PACE Staffing Network, Seattle Staffing, Seattle Staffing Industry, Seattle Temporary Staffing, Temporary Employees

Despite the countless management and leadership books written about the virtue of accountability, according to most employees there are significant gaps between management’s knowing and doing when it comes to accountability. Most employees don’t rate their organizations highly in terms of their ability to hold individuals or teams accountable. While they believe they are personally accountable, they don’t always believe that others in their organization are held to the same “high” standards. Well intended managers can oftentimes fuel these perceptions. Excuses like “they’re new to the job,” or “I probably wasn’t clear in my directions,” can sound more like “permission” to underperform or the avoidance of a difficult conversation, than the commitment to fairness it might otherwise represent. The opposite track, an organization being too quick to act or terminate an employee whose results are off target (i.e. “John’s outcomes are awful. He needs to go,”) can often keep a team from looking at larger issues in market conditions or organizational performance that aren’t about John’s performance. Additionally, a manager who is slow to coach and fast to terminate can erode an organization’s commitment to its employees. Management 101 teaches us that by helping our employees to become more accountable, we make our teams more productive. The opposite is also true. When management drifts away from the habits of “accountability,” a culture of finger pointing, blame, and gossip often takes hold. Issues in productivity and outcomes, almost always follow. Unfortunately, individual managers—senior, middle, and entry level leadership roles—don’t always understand their personal role in an organization’s “accountability culture.” While most managers believe they do a good job of holding their team members accountable, it’s sometimes difficult to see how others are doing the same. When the going gets tough and results are off target, even high performing managers can look to “others”—a better resourced competitor, an underperforming colleague, an overly demanding customer, or an insensitive senior management—as the reason for their own subpar outcomes.  Anytime a manager takes their eyes off their own performance and looks for explanations of outcomes outside themselves, the organization’s “culture” of accountability suffers. In her book Fearless Leadership, Loretta Malandro, PhD., says that, for a business to create an accountability culture management accountability must be 100 %—each manager must become “personally accountable for their impact on people, even if others accept zero accountability.” Dr. Malandro is clearly stating the management challenge; it always has to start within. Managers also need to understand that the drift in an organization’s accountability culture typically happens slowly, then suddenly. While accountability is an intellectually simple concept, in reality it is both emotionally and behaviorally complex. For managers who take their mission to develop people seriously, they must find that just-right balance between holding people accountable and empowering them to make mistakes. Their goal is to help employees work from their strengths, while making sure their weaknesses don’t knock them over. Even a well thought out decision to terminate an underperforming but high impact employee, requires careful organizational planning that almost always involves others—which means that many accountability decisions can’t be made in a vacuum, outside the context of the team and its customers. This is a long way of saying that the balancing acts that in their aggregate reflect how you or your company is managing “accountability” are as easy and straight forward as others would like. It is my belief that a fully accountable culture represents an aspirational vision that is rarely fully achieved, but can produce a whole lot of small but “made a difference” successes along the way. So how do individual managers go about creating a culture of accountability? We have a handful of suggestions, starting with a good reflection of where you are now. Go through some of the checklists we’ve provided below and rate yourself on a scale of 1 -5—with 5 being the highest of the rankings and 1 the lowest. How are you managing your own team?

Self-Rating

1. CLEAR EXPECTATIONS. Does each team member know specifically what is being expected of them? How their work will be measured and/or evaluated?
2. ONGOING, HONEST FEEDBACK. Do team members regularly get all of the metrics and/or the feedback they need to evaluate their own work? Do they know at all times how I am viewing their work and outcomes?
3. ADDRESSING PERFORMANCE ISSUES. Do I follow up quickly to work more closely with team members whose results are off target? Do I listen carefully for obstacles, and coach them on ways to overcome them? Do I have clear processes in place to make sure that any potentially job threatening issues are escalated clearly and appropriately?
4. INDIVIDUAL DEVELOPMENT. Do I manage each member of my team as an individual, setting individual performance goals and avoiding comparisons with other team members?
5. PLANNING AND FOLLOW UP. When my team and I are discussing options, do I follow up to make sure what work needs to be done and by whom? That my priorities are clear? Do I regularly follow up on promised deadlines or benchmarks so that I physically inspect work in progress to ensure that each team member is completing work as promised?

Total Score

  How are you conducting yourself as a company leader?

Self-Rating

1. PERSONAL ROLE MODELING. When things go wrong, do I walk the talk of personal accountability—avoid making excuses or blaming others over explaining myself? Do I personally model my own “empowerment; engaging my team in ways to overcome obstacles, solve problems,   and make progress?
2. COACHING. DEVELOPING OTHERS. Do I spend enough time coaching others to success, avoiding   getting disappointed or angry when a team member doesn’t “get it?” Do I look for ways for my employees to work from strengths, even if that means some adjustments in how work gets done?
3. TRANSPARENCY. Do I make sure I always work from a plan, making my personal contribution to company goals transparent to my boss and colleagues?
4. WORD CHOICES. Do my word choices set a tone with the team and others of “positive problem solving” around things we can control, rather than focusing too heavily on issues and obstacles we can’t?
5. TEAMMEMBER SUPPORT. Do I always communicate in ways that demonstrate my respect for others, my ability to find value in “different” people, talents and perspectives? Do I avoid conversations with team members or colleagues that are more about gossip than problem solving? Do I listen when issues are brought forward, but avoid lengthy discussions about another team member’s performance?

Total Score

  Are you avoiding the assumptions that can erode the habits of accountability?

Self-Rating

1. Good team members always understand what’s expected of them. Am I mindful that clarifying expectations is an ongoing process?
2. Good team members will automatically self-correct. When a mistake is made or a ball dropped, do I help others determine what they will do differently next   time?
3. Everyone knows what I do/what I’m accountable for. Do I demonstrate daily the transparency in my own work that I want from others?
4. Everyone knows what changes need to be made now. How often am I communicating about change, and what we need to be doing differently?   How clear am I about my team’s priorities?

Total Score

  Accountability is an important element in the work we do to help our clients find and place the right employee for each request we fill—either for a job candidate to be hired by our client directly, a short term temporary or contract assignment, or a complex project level assignment involving full team engagement. We always want to know what each of our employees is accountable to produce—what outcome our client needs them to achieve. One of the important side benefits of “temporary” workers is that their accountabilities can generally be defined in simple terms, “achieve this result in this way, ” but the degree to which our customers can spell out these simple statements, the greater the probability that our employee will perform as expected. Our client’s chances for a successful temporary or contract assignment are directly impacted by the quality of information they can provide to all of their employees up front about their business (the context) and their expectations (the deliverable). NancyWe also encourage our clients to provide their temporary and contract employees with timely feedback relative to those expectations—as early in the assignment as possible and as ongoing as is needed. Many issues in employee performance, particularly in temporary or contract roles, stems from the employees not clearly understanding the client’s expectations. Keep in mind many temporary and contract employees go from assignment to assignment with their client’s expectations changing at each assignment. Early course corrections to clarify your expectations can make a huge difference. If you’d like to discuss any of these editorial comments, feel free to contact me at nancys@pacestaffing.com. I’m Nancy Swanson, Vice President of Partnership Development for the PACE Staffing Network.      

Qualifications for Your Financial Team

by Jeanne Knutzen | June 21, 2013

0 Blog, Finance/Accounting Roles Financial Qualifications You Need, financial staffing seattle, Hiring Financial Staff, Hiring Your Financial Team, Seattle Staffing, Seattle Staffing Agencies, Seattle Staffing Agency, Seattle Temporary Staffing, Seattle WA Staffing, Staffing In Seattle WA

As your business expands and your market footprint begins to grow, the size of your staff will need to keep pace. Hiring demands will pick up across all aspects of your company from production to customer outreach, and your financial department will be no exception. While you may have handled most of your accounting needs on your own during the early chapters, this just isn’t realistic beyond a certain stage. You’ll eventually need a CPA to manage to your tax responsibilities, a book keeper to monitor your revenue streams and cost centers, and eventually a controller to make sure your shareholders understand what’s happening behind the scenes. What kinds of traits and skills should you be looking for as you move forward with your financial hiring process? Keep these considerations in mind. Chief Financial Officer A CFO manages and oversees all aspects of your company’s financial operations. From keeping costs under control, to improving efficiency in processing, to monitoring all financial reporting, the CFO holds final accountability for this aspect of your company. There are no specific qualifications or licensing requirements for CFOs, but this should be a person you trust as a money manager and also as a leader. He or she should hold a four year degree in business management or finance—at the very least—and should possess exceptional leadership and communication skill. Certified Public Accountant Your CPA is the person who will ensure that your company functions in accordance with state and federal regulations, which include tax payment and filing issues. Since CPAs interact directly with the government and the legal system, they’re required to abide by strict licensing and certification requirements that vary by state. Before you consider any candidate for a CPA position, make sure he or she holds these credentials and ideally has some experience with your specific type of business (LLC, partnership, sole proprietorship, etc). Controller Your controller will handle all your company’s issues related to financial reporting. These will include shareholder communications, long term business forecasting, and budgeting. A controller should possess an MBA or a four year degree in finance or accounting. Advanced CFA, CMA or CPA certification suggest an additional measure of competence. In addition to the positions listed here, you’ll also benefit from the skills of an advanced accounting staff and at least one book keeper, an entry level employee who keeps track of sales figures, invoices, and operating expenses. For specific guidance as you begin the recruiting process for each of these roles, reach out to the financial staffing experts at Pace.

The Secret to Landing a Job in the Cloud: Training

by Jeanne Knutzen | June 11, 2013

0 Blog, IT Staffing information technology jobs in seattle, it jobs in seattle, it jobs in seattle wa, it jobs in washington, it jobs seattle, it jobs seattle wa, tech jobs seattle wa

As of 2013, experts estimate that tech employers are struggling to staff as many as 1.7 million open positions related to the growing cloud computing industry. And the number of workers needed for these positions will probably grow by about 26 percent each year between now and 2015. Why are so many cloud jobs going unstaffed? And why is this gap holding steady even in the face of high unemployment numbers? The answer appears to lie in one word: training. Tech professionals are lining up for work in every region of the country, but too many of them don’t possess the training and certifications they need to take on cloud-related jobs. So what does this mean for both hiring managers and job seekers? Open Positions in the Cloud: Job Seeker Considerations Companies are now in desperate need of employees who can create new software for the cloud and develop applications from the ground up. They also need infrastructure experts who can help employers make decisions about vendor contracts, oversee the fulfillment of these contracts, and handle data migration from old systems to new ones. Talented enterprise architects can also help employers manage their growing need for computing capacity and help employers understand how newer cloud based technologies can fit into their existing structures. Cloud based risk-management and trouble-shooting experts will also be in high demand during the next several years. Staffing Cloud-Based Positions: Employers Employers with a strong need for cloud skills and data architects will face a growing tide of staffing challenges in the years to come, but solutions are available for every one of these challenges. And some of these solutions are already on the team and are simply awaiting the opportunity to step into much needed and currently vacant roles. Instead of conducting long, expensive and fruitless global searches for outside sources of talent, managers might be wise to start at home and sponsor training and development programs for existing employees. Then reach out to a staffing firm who has the resources and network to help you land qualified candidates. Industry and university systems are in the process of teaming up to share the cost and benefits of training programs for cloud skills, and in the meantime, employers are recognizing the benefits of tuition reimbursement programs and onsite courses taught by outside teachers and training experts. For more information on how to sponsor these courses and create continuing education programs from the ground up,  reach out to the Seattle IT staffing  experts at Pace.

Get Ready for your Healthcare Video Interview

by Jeanne Knutzen | June 7, 2013

0 Blog, Healthcare Staffing healthcare jobs in seattle, healthcare jobs in seattle wa, Healthcare Staffing In Seattle, Seattle Staffing Agencies, Seattle Staffing Agency, Seattle Temporary Staffing, Staffing In Seattle, Staffing In Seattle WA, Video Healthcare Interviews

Video interviews are becoming a mainstream way for companies to streamline their hiring process. As the ease of video conferencing increases, healthcare employers are saving money and time by cutting back on in-person interviews, especially during the first round of the selection process. Simply asking a candidate for twenty minutes of online conversation reduces countless energy, cost and travel time for both the company and its applicants. But as it happens, online capability often means shorter notice when interviews are scheduled. While traditional interviews usually involve a few days of prep time, employers often schedule online meetings within 24 hours. So if you have only one day to prepare for your meeting, what can you do to make sure you’re ready? Try these steps.

1. First, make sure you have the right equipment. This includes a working, reliable webcam and all the necessary software you’ll need to establish a connection. Ask the employer if there are any specific programs you should have access to, like Google or Skype, and do all the downloading and installing you need to do right away.

2. Then set the stage. Make sure your backdrop is appropriate, clean, professional and not too cluttered. A simple blank wall will work fine. And pay attention to lighting. Arrange the lamps and natural light in the room to highlight your best features and factor in the time of day when the interview will be taking place.

3. Choose your outfit. A suit, nice blouse, or simple dress will usually do for an interview setting. Just make sure everything is clean and wrinkle free.

4. Plan for contingencies. Arrange child and pet care so you are not distracted. While you’re at it, make sure your neighbors, friends and family know not to stop by and ring the doorbell. Silence the ringer on your phone and anticipate any other potential distractions.

5. Focus on poise, just as you would during an in-person interview. Make sure you direct your attention toward the camera, not the screen. It may seem strange, but this will feel more like “eye contact” to your viewers, even if it doesn’t feel that way to you. Don’t make your interviewers talk to the side of your face or the top of your forehead.

When you’re finally ready for your moment in the spotlight, complete a dry run with a friend or family member to make sure everything is working as it should. Then use your final hours to conduct a little more research on the company and get some well-deserved sleep. Meanwhile, check in with the staffing experts at Pace for any questions about your healthcare job search.

Opportunities and Challenges – IT and Engineering Staffing

by Jeanne Knutzen | May 28, 2013

0 Blog, Human Resource Roles, IT Staffing Engineering Jobs, Inavero, IT Jobs, IT Professionals, IT Staffing, PACE Staffing Network, Seattle Staffing, Seattle Staffing Agency, TechServe Alliance

With the demand for skilled IT and engineering professionals showing no signs of slowing down, a new study from TechServe Alliance and global survey firm Inavero is poised to help IT and engineering staffing firms, clients, and consultants understand and address the myriad of opportunities and challenges faced by all stakeholders in the talent engagement process. The recently released IT & Engineering Staffing Firms, Clients & Candidates: A 360-Degree Perspective examines the flexible IT and engineering workforce from three perspectives—1) clients, 2) candidates, and 3) staffing companies. The findings were based on 700 survey participants. Here’s a snapshot of the findings: Clients look for value. The study showed that clients look to their staffing providers to help them 1) reduce risk, 2) increase flexibility, and 3) supplement their core competencies with specialized skills. While the right skill match is the number one factor in placement success, clients also ranked their staffing providers knowledge of their industry as second most important to ensuring a successful placement. Staffing companies need to be experts at understanding a client's business. Clients #1 Pain Point – ONBOARDING. The number one pain point for companies working with IT and engineering consultants is the onboarding process—the time it takes to get new talent up to speed. Staffing firms need to continue working with the client and the candidate after the hiring decision is made to ensure an effective onboarding process. Top Talent Is Snatched Up Quickly. One of the studies findings is that both the staffing firm and their clients must move quickly if they want to hire top IT and engineering talent. Eighty-four percent of the IT and engineering professionals surveyed found their current job in less than three months, and nearly one-third (32 percent) found their most recent position in less than two weeks. IT and engineering professionals affirmed their preference to work flexibly. They value the opportunity they receive to gain expertise across multiple platforms and industries through staffing firm engagements. For a free copy of the executive summary of the TechServe/Inavero study, visit http://www.techservealliance.org/research/360-degree-study.cfm### To request specialized IT or Engineering talent from the PACE Staffing Network, contact infodesk@pacestaffing.com.

Summer Hiring: Are You Ready for a Fun But Unpredictable Staffing Season?

by Jeanne Knutzen | May 28, 2013

0 Blog, Human Resource Roles staffing resources in seattle, staffing resources in seattle wa, staffing resources seattle, staffing resources seattle wa, summer hiring trends seattle, summer hiring trends seattle wa

Summer is upon us. And if you haven’t started thinking about what this season may mean for your staffing needs, now’s the time. If your workforce is like most, you’ll need to prepare for some of these contingencies and events:

1. Academic cycles. The ebb and flow of the calendar year may not mean much to employees above a certain age, but for students, the demands of the school year come first. When your summer help said good bye in the fall, some of them planned to return the following year, and some of them didn’t. Most of them were probably unable to make a commitment at that point. So you may see them again, but you may also need to hire and train a completely new staff. The experts at Pace can help with this process.

2. Vacation planning. Summer is vacation season, so if you provide your employees with two weeks per year to hit the road, chances are several of them will want to leave during June and July. Hopefully these absences won’t overlap in a way that slows your productivity, but if this happens, you may need temps and contingent workers to fill in. Contact our office for details about our fast and accurate short-term hiring strategy.

3. Over and under-staffing. The summer can have an impact on any business model, even those that don’t seem cyclical. Some companies slow down during the season, and some experience a maddening rush. And both over and under-staffing can be very expensive for business owners. Make sure you don’t have extra hands sitting idle in your workplace or overstressed employees burning out and making mistakes.

4. Illnesses. Summer is an outdoor season, and with active lifestyles come everything from bad sunburns to waterskiing injuries to post-Memorial Day hangovers. Make sure a rash of unfortunate incidents won’t leave you and your customers high and dry.

Whether you need last minute fill-ins when your team comes down with a "summer bug" or if you'd like to take a proactive approach to planning for upcoming employee vacation time or other seasonal demands, PACE Staffing can help. Contact the Seattle staffing experts today!

Avoid These Financial Resume Mistakes

by Jeanne Knutzen | May 21, 2013

0 Blog, Finance/Accounting Roles Avoid These Financial Resume Mistakes, Avoid These Resume Blunders, financial jobs seattle, Financial Resume Mistakes, Seattle Staffing, Seattle Staffing Agencies, Seattle Staffing Agency, Seattle Temporary Staffing, Seattle WA Staffing, Staffing In Seattle

Mistakes like the ones listed below can spell trouble for any resume, regardless of your industry or the specific position you’re looking for. But in the financial world, these are especially common and can cause disproportionate damage to your candidacy.  Before you attach your resume to your introductory message and click send, make sure you aren’t guilty of any of these blunders.

1. No reference to your target company’s primary product or financial instrument

If you’re looking for a position in financial advisory services, your employers will want assurance that you understand how their specific market works. Whether they deal in futures, equity funds, securities or ETFs, your record will need to show some experience in this core area. If you don’t have this experience, you’ll have to emphasize your other credentials. But if you do, make sure this information comes through clearly.

2. Emphasizing “impressive” credentials over relevant ones

If you need to organize your work history section according to relevance rather than chronology, that’s fine. If you decide to stick with a chronological layout, that’s fine too. But remove irrelevant positions from the line up if they stand in your way or confuse the issue. This will clear away the clutter and allow the important parts of your background to shine.

3. Excessive or inappropriate use of buzzwords and jargon

The financial field is loaded with insider terminology and acronyms, which are perfectly acceptable when they’re necessary. But unfortunately, this field is also crowded with buzzwords, empty terms, and business-sounding nonsense. And this latter category can spell death for a resume, especially at the entry level. Get to the point, be clear, and if you find yourself using empty self-descriptive terms like “change-driver” or “success-driven”, stop and rethink. Be specific. Say things about yourself that don’t also apply to everyone else in the world.

4. Any attempt at spin, smoke throwing, or exaggerations

Any attempts to hide or cover up previous job losses by manipulating employment dates are a bad move. So are exaggerations, especially those referencing the number of people you managed, the revenue your brought in for previous employers, or the projects that you may or may not have completed single-handedly.  Experienced employers can factor your age and other telling details into a realistic assessment of what you’ve actually done. Stick to the facts and you’ll be fine.

5. Sloppy or weak command of the language

Communication skills are vital in the finance industry, so an articulate resume with smooth transitions from one thought and point to the next will earn respect. Choppy, confused statements and clumsy phrasing will do the opposite.

For more specific guidance and editing help with your financial services or accounting resume, reach out to the Seattle staffing and job search experts at Pace.

Independent Contractor, W2 Employee, can you afford to blur the difference?

by Jeanne Knutzen | May 16, 2013

0 Blog, Human Resource Roles 1099 workforce, Employer of Record, Employer of Record Service, Independent Contract, Kyle Fitzgerald, PACE Staffing Network, Seattle Staffing, W2 Employee, W2 Workforce, Workers Compensation

The world of work is changing rapidly, creating new ways of working, new ways for employers to get work done. For both companies and employees, the need to have quick and easy access to talent and work, has created a new way of working outside the traditional employee-to-employer relationship.  Independent contractors, often called 1099’s, are people who work assignment to assignment, project to project. Currently, this workforce is estimated to be 16 million folks, and by 2015 is targeted to be 21 million. Unfortunately, the legal and financial ramifications of this growing new workforce have not escaped the attention of taxing agencies who want to protect the revenues generated from a W2 employee base. W2 employees have their taxes withheld at each paycheck and their employer pays most, if not all, payroll taxes on their behalf. The IRS and multiple state taxing agencies are now challenging the validity of the “independent contractor” status, ensuring that employers are not using a worker’s preference to work independently as a way to avoid otherwise mandated tax calculations, payments, and reports. When employers organize work in ways that blur the distinctions between their W2 and 1099 workers, they are often doing so without being fully aware of the risks of creating a basis for a misclassification audit, which can be costly for both employers and 1099s. We have prepared the following Q and A to outline the issues employers are likely to face when defending the classification status of their 1099 workers. Make no mistake, if you are a large or significant user of the 1099 worker model, there is likely a state or federal taxing agency who either has you and/or one of your 1099 workers on their radar as we speak. Why independent/1099 workers? The independent/1099 worker provides employers with all the traditional benefits of flexibility. They are paid only for hours actually worked or in some cases results produced. Savvy independent contractors price their services at a level to appropriately cover the costs of taxes and benefits, so the per-hour rate is often considerably higher than applied to their W2 employee counterparts.  Employers are willing to pay the higher rates preferring a process where there is little to no paperwork for them, no hidden costs, and no complicated benefit packages to administrate. Convenience aside, the most frequently stated reason why companies hire independent contractors is that it has become a workforce made up of highly talented and sought after technical and managerial professionals—many calling themselves consultants. Most 1099 workers have not only fully mastered their craft, but because of their exposure to a wide range of project and organizational challenges, have created profiles with the skills, expertise, and talents that are highly valuable to most employers. Why do workers choose to work as “independent contractors”?   The popularity of independent contractor status within the employee community is also growing exponentially. At some points in their career, workers like the exposure they get to a wide range of technical or professional challenges, plus the flexibility that comes from being able to work when they want to. For many professionals, the higher per-hour pay they can earn as a “consultant,” in addition to the deductions they can take on their individual tax return for certain business expenses not normally deductible to a W2 employee, creates a level of financial security they would not be able to obtain working as a W2 employee. What is the difference between an independent contractor and a regular W2 employee? Theoretically, the two types of workers should be noticeably different in terms of when and how work is performed, how it is financially transacted (by invoice or paycheck), and the length and scope of the working relationship between worker and employer/client. In the real world, however, the differences between the two types of workers are not always that easy to discern and often comes down to a determination of whether or not the independent worker has legally created their independent contractor status (business license, tax id numbers, professional liability insurances, etc.). Given this breakdown between theoretical intent and pragmatic execution, the intended distinction between the truly independent and the truly W2 worker populations has been blurred, creating real consequences for worker misclassifications at an alarming rate. If I classify a worker as an “independent contractor” do I avoid having to pay all payroll taxes? Not really.  A nuance and little known aspect of Washington State law is that employers who use Independent Contractors to perform personal work are required to pay the Workers Compensation insurance and the state’s SUTA tax on hours and dollars paid to these 1099 workers. Only if a 1099 contractor is a fully licensed and incorporated business entity (an LLC for example), paying the required business revenue taxes, can these costs be avoided. Bottom line, classifying an individual worker as a 1099 in the State of Washington does not automatically bypass the employer’s responsibility to report hours of work for workers compensation insurance or earnings that are used to calculate and pay Washington State’s SUTA tax. There is more involved before those taxes can be fully avoided. Why do we need to classify workers correctly?      The issue at stake revolves around an employer’s obligation to calculate and pay taxes for W2 employees that they do not have for independent contractors. For their 1099 workforce, employers pay an invoice and there is no withholding for federal or state income taxes, calculation and payment of social security, Medicare or unemployment taxes. If a worker is originally classified as a 1099, but under audit turns out to be an employee, the employer is often subject to back taxes, fines, and penalties. The liabilities associated with a misclassification audit are both unforeseen and expensive.  Since September 2011, the IRS has collected 9.5 million dollars in back taxes, penalties, and fines from employers who have misclassified more than 11,400 workers. How do you “test” if a worker is a W2 or an independent contractor?      One of the common misperceptions with 1099 workers comes from employers who believe that if their “contractor” is legal, (i.e. they have the proper business licenses, UBI (tax ID) numbers, insurances, etc.) and a contract between themselves and their contractor that labels them “independent”, they meet all aspects of the 1099 test. Most taxing agencies, on the other hand, operate from the belief that the “legality” of the claim of independent contractor status lies with the nature of the work to be performed and the degree of control the employer has over how and when it is performed—not the legitimacy of the contractor’s right to work as an independent contractor.    There are a number of tests that are administered by different state and federal taxing agencies to determine if a worker is really an independent contractor or a W2 employee. Unfortunately, not all of these tests are fully compatible, nor is case law clear on how any test can be applied, making the whole landscape of proper classification a slippery slope. In the end, most of the classification tests come down to:

  • The degree of control the company has over the worker’s behavior. The more control an employer has over where, when, and how work is performed, the less likely the worker can be considered “independent.” Employers who place their independent contractors on work teams with required hours of work, mandatory attendance at meetings, and required collaborations around work products, often do so at the risk of having that independent contractor be re- classified as a W2 employee.
  • The degree of control over a worker's financial opportunity. The more control an employer has over a worker’s source of income, the less likely that worker will be found to be “independent.” An agreement to pay a fixed cost per week, for example, can be just as suspect as an agreement to pay an hourly rate if the agreement includes a provision to work 40 hours/week—both tie a worker to a single source of income for extended periods. Other considerations related to “financial control” include payments or reimbursements for business expenses, equipment or tools. The more these sources of income are directed and controlled by the company/client, the less independent a worker will appear.
  • The type of relationship (exclusivity or duration) that is formed between worker and company. Case law around the permanency of a relationship suggests that work assignments intended to last six months or longer make the independent status more suspect than shorter term work arrangements. A related factor is whether or not the worker is free to pursue other business opportunities during the term of their agreement. Companies who regularly entertain independent contractors who work a regular 40 hour work week, and for years at a time, are clearly stretching the definitions of “independent.”
What if I misclassify?       The first thing for you to know is that you’re not alone. The IRS estimates that businesses misclassify workers as 1099’s anywhere from 10-60% of the time. The bad news is that if a misclassification is uncovered under audit, the outcome can be serious—back taxes, fines, and penalties in addition to costly law suits stemming from unprotected workplace accidents or injuries. Why is the misclassification issue such a hot topic right now?      With state and federal government budgets fighting the pinch of reduced revenues, they have become increasingly aggressive about collecting monies they believe are owed to their agencies. When we first started writing about the misclassification issue two years ago, we were only concerned about federal agency (D of L, or IRS) audits. Today multiple state agencies have gotten involved because depending on how a worker is classified, this could impact who pays the workers compensation insurance, state unemployment and revenue taxes in the city of Seattle. For example, access to mandated Seattle Sick and Safe benefits is targeted to put increasing pressure on employers to clarify who is entitled to this benefit and who is not, and to defend that claim in a lower court test. The federal government has set goals for the number of employers they will audit, and have set aside significant budget dollars to resource these audits. Most alarming is that federal, state, and local governments have formal agreements to work together when cases of misclassification are uncovered—multiplying the financial ramifications that employers are likely to face under audit. What are some “red flags” that might trigger a misclassification audit—what should we avoid?   Here are some simple rules of thumb:
  • Overlapping a W2 and 1099 status for the same employee in the same report year can be an audit trigger. Avoid firing a W2 worker and bringing them back a week later as a 1099.
  • There is a form, IRS SS-8’s, which can be used to request government determination of a classification status. Keep the number of these forms you file or your 1099’s file on your behalf to a minimum.
  • 70% of misclassification audits get triggered by independent contractors filing for benefits routinely available to W2 workers, (i.e. workplace injury claims, unemployment claims). Make sure your workplace policies and practices avoid references to these benefits.    
What happens if an independent contractor files for unemployment or is involved in a workplace accident? One of the most common ways regulatory agencies become aware of misclassifications has come out of the increased number of unemployment and worker’s compensation claims that are being filed by workers formerly considered independent.  Unemployment officials have not only been granting 1099 workers benefits—implying they’re an  employee, not independent status—but have alerted other agencies as to the possible misclassification of other “similarly situated” workers, turning a claim for unemployment into a much larger misclassification audit. Another serious source of liability can occur if a workplace accident occurs involving a 1099 worker who is not covered under the employer’s Workers Compensation policies. Lacking coverage, the employer is not protected from the limited liability provisions of workers compensation laws, and can find themselves sued for double, if not triple personal injury damages. What can companies do to protect themselves from misclassification issues? The best answer is the simplest—make sure your independent contractors are really independent contractors, working in ways that would normally apply to someone or a company who works independently—free of your control. If that level of independence isn’t possible, as it often isn’t, your choices are 1) to end your relationship with the 1099, or 2) convert the 1099 to your W2 workforce. A third option, new to the misclassification issue, is to insert an Employer of Record Service provider who can turn your 1099 workforce into a low cost W2 workforce. This option is discussed below. If your analysis reveals that there is room for a genuine independent contractor to work in your organization, you need to:
  1. Develop and execute an independent contractor agreement that, among other things, acknowledges the intent of the relationship and waives any rights to company sponsored health or retirement benefits. We recommend including in your agreement a provision that the independent contractor recognizes you as their common law employer with respect to protections under workers compensation laws in the event of workplace accidents. We also recommend you include an indemnification clause that excuses you from any liabilities associated with an independent contractor’s failure to pay their own mandated self-employment or W2 taxes.
  2. Create specific policies and procedures for working with true independent contractors. Train your front line managers on the requirements for “independence” to ensure the lines of differentiation stay clean.
  3. Review benefit plans to ensure a clear definition of plan participants, specifically excluding the employees of third party employers and independent contractors.
  4. Conduct internal audits of your current 1099 workforce, ensuring all contracts are up to date, and that your company is paying the required taxes on those who are providing personal services.
What is an Employer of Record Service?  How can it help with misclassification issues?  Because the issues surrounding employee classifications are not white/black and courts are inconsistent in their rulings on the cases they have heard, one of the ways to avoid any risk of a misclassification audit is to create policies that prohibit the use of personal service 1099’s in your organization, while offering an alternative method for providing quick and easy access to high impact talent. Employer of Record Services do that by converting a 1099 workforce into a W2 workforce at a fraction of the costs associated with most employers W2’s. The Employer of Record Service provider simply handles paperwork, ensures worker compliance, arranges for weekly pay, and oversees the filing of all government required paperwork. As a benefit for the former 1099 worker, the Employer of Record Service provides full administrative and HR support, including a facilitation of their access to the benefit entitlements of W2 workers. The bill rate or “take home pay” either goes up or remains the same, but their financial benefits are substantially increased. Employer of Record Service providers typically will supply electronic paperwork to onboard or off-board workers quickly, preserving the benefits of immediacy and flexibility, while eliminating the risks of liabilities down the road. The IRS is happy with this solution as are all local taxing agencies. Your company is no longer on the target list for misclassification audits. The PACE Staffing Network now offers a full range of menu driven Employer of Record Services that can be used to turn a potentially dangerous 1099 workforce into a “legally compliant”  W2 workforce. We handle all aspects of the “change process” by working closely with your team to explain the financial benefits to your 1099s for becoming W2s, oftentimes facilitating their own ability to move between assignments with different companies. For a discussion about how your company currently uses 1099 contractors and the options you have to mitigate the risk of misclassification, contact our Employer of Record Specialist, Kyle Fitzgerald at kylef@pacestaffing.com.

The Affordable Care Act and Your Flexible Workforce

by Jeanne Knutzen | May 15, 2013

0 ACA Affordable Healthcare, Blog, Human Resource Roles, What's New in Staffing? ACA regulations, Affordable Healthcare – ACA Smart, Health Insurance, Obamacare, PPACA, Seattle Staffing, Seattle Staffing Agencies, Seattle Staffing Agency, Seattle Temporary Staffing, Seattle WA Staffing, staffing, Temporary Staffing And The Affordable Care Act, Temporary Staffing In Seattle

While we have always known that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka: PPACA, ACA, AHA, Obamacare) would impact the temporary staffing industry and its customers, the regulatory information that has been surfacing over the last several months is starting to reveal the impact of some of the details embedded in the law. We are finding both good and bad news in the newly published regulations—new requirements that will increase the costs of temporary and contract workers; nuances in those requirements that will make flexible workforce strategies an even more attractive model for driving down operating costs. While the law is still very confusing, the reality is that most of the regulations that will be written, have been written to the point where more and more cost conscious employers are starting to re-think how they get work done—what types of employees to put to work when, where,  and how. The following information is being provided to PACE customers as a way to lay out the facts of the ACA and its regs, prepare you for what lies ahead, and offer some ideas for not only staying compliant, but mitigating some of the cost increases we are all anticipating. Our comments will focus primarily on the impact of the ACA on our client's non-W2 workforce, which includes not only your temporary and contract workers but any workers performing work on your behalf through the services of a third party employer. ACA Overview Under the ACA, all “large” employers are required to do three things to stay in compliance with the law as of January 1st, 2014.

  1. Offer “minimum acceptable” healthcare insurance to 95% of their eligible fulltime employees (leaving a 5% margin of error).
  2. Ensure that the cost of the plan they offer is “affordable” (i.e. will not require any employee to pay more than 9.5% of their annual pay towards the costs of an individual plan), and
  3. Ensure that the plans(s) offered and the employer’s contribution to these plans is not set up to favorably treat highly compensated employees.
Large employers will be required to pay the costs for meeting these three requirements (what is often called the “play” option) or face substantial penalties for non-compliance (what is often called the “pay” option). The definition of a “large” employer applies to any employer with fifty or more fulltime employees. A fulltime employee is someone working 30 hours a week or 1560 hours per year. The Bad News for Staffing Companies and Their Customers Some clients have asked “does PACE have to be compliant with the law?” The answer is a resounding yes. And for PACE, like most staffing providers, our bad news is that the types of healthcare benefit packages typically available to the staffing industry will no longer meet the new federal standards for “minimum essential coverage.” Most staffing companies are making decisions now to either “play” (pay the additional costs associated with compliant coverage), or “pay” (pay the penalties for non-compliance, i.e. $2000/year per uncovered employee). Both options mean that as of January 1st, 2014, the direct costs associated with using third party staffing services will increase. We are anticipating that the costs to become fully compliant with the law will require most staffing companies to ask for a 2-4% increase in client bill rates, just to break even; anywhere from $.16 to $.35 cents per hour. Cost increases for all types of staffing - core and non-core—represent the bad news that is part of the ACA and will impact all "large" employers on or about January 1, 2014. Some Good News for Users of Staffing Services—the Variable Worker and Look Backs! All of the news embedded in the ACA is not bad! While an employer’s requirement to provide coverage applies to all full-time employees (individuals who work 30 hours a week, 1560 hours a year), there are special rules that apply specifically to the types of “variable” workers who work for temporary and contract staffing companies. We believe these rules will create new opportunities for cost savings for PACE customers. As the ACA regulations have rolled out, we now know an employer can stay in compliance with the law and still delay offering the mandated benefit packages to some employees who can be legitimately classified as a "variable" worker. A variable worker is someone working in a job that is subject to change, or with an uncertain duration or end date—a condition that is pretty much a given in most temporary or contract staffing environments. The period of time between when the variable worker starts work and the date when they are evaluated for benefit eligibility is called the “look back period” , and can be 3, 6, or 12 months—each employer gets to decide. Staffing companies who go through the administrative process to confirm their workers are  “variable"  and therefore subject to the “look back” provisions in the law, will be able to generate significant cost savings for their customers. While most of our client’s W2 employees will not qualify for variable worker status, and must, therefore, be offered the mandated benefits within an administrative period that cannot exceed three months, most temporary or contract workers will be considered  "variable" and not eligible for insurance coverage until they have reached the required 1560 hours (9 months or more). This variable worker “look back” provision in the ACA creates considerable opportunity for companies like PACE to offer our clients “variable” workers at significantly less cost than would be required for the client to hire an employee directly. The differentials in the direct costs of these two types of employees will be dramatic—creating compelling reasons to rethink their use of third party employers in the early stages of a new hire. The Impact of New Anti-Discriminatory Regulations on Our Clients Benefit Costs One of the more significant impacts of the ACA, not often discussed, are provisions in the law that tighten up opportunities to treat different types of employees differently.  Consultants to our industry are advising us that the anti-discrimination components of the ACA will obsolete any plan that differentiates coverage or costs in favor of highly compensated employees. For the staffing industry, this means that whatever benefit programs offered to our temporary employees needs to be offered to our regular employees. For our customers this means that whatever healthcare benefit package offered to their highest paid employees must be offered to their lowest paid employees. To be compliant with the “affordability provision” of the ACA, no benefit eligible employee in your workforce can be asked to pay more than 9.5% of their gross pay for the cost of your plan’s individual coverage. For a worker earning 20K in a year, this means they cannot contribute more than $1900 a year or $158.33/month in order for the plan offered by their employer to be compliant. How this compliance benchmark is achieved is what will get tricky for many employers. When the compliance calculations are based on what the employer can legally pay for the lowest paid employees, it limits the amount of employer contribution that can be applied to the highest paid employees. If the amount contributed to all employees is based on the amounts of the employer contribution made available to higher paid employees, overall costs of benefit coverage will skyrocket. This is the dilemma the law intends. Employers will be challenged to create benefit programs that will be equally appealing and affordable for all employees. We are already talking to some employers who will elect to outsource their W2 relationships simply to avoid the risks of discrimination. Employer of Record Services—Minimizing the Impact of the ACA! The following are some ideas for PACE customers who are open to looking at new staffing strategies built around the special provisions in the law designed specifically for staffing providers. You will notice that we have laid out these ideas from the perspective of a third party employer service provider, not just a temporary or contract labor provider. The PACE Staffing Network has recently added a new “employer only” service, what we call an Employer of Record Service, partly in anticipation of the service needs of our clients following the implementation of the ACA in January. Employer of Record Services are particularly attractive to employers with strong internal recruiting capabilities because they offer highly discounted bill rates that carve out all extra costs (for recruiting, screening, etc.) to include only those costs associated with providing W2 employer services. Employer of Record Service packages are customized to the unique needs of each client, but the following represents a few ideas of how these services might be applied to your workplace as a way to shave workforce costs.

1. Employers can use a third party employer solution to avoid compliance requirements. For employers who need to add staff, but also want to remain below the 50 FTE (fulltime equivalent) threshold that exempts them from the ACA regulations, using a third party employer solution to channel employees to another employer can delay the point when they must become compliant with the law.

The Employer of Record Service option is ideal for employers who have located an employee they want to hire, but don’t want to absorb the costs or administrative hassles of employing that worker directly. Employer of Record Services is especially ideal for companies who want to either avoid or delay the compliance requirements of the ACA.

We are encouraging our smaller clients to plan now for what lies ahead. We’ve heard stories of regulatory agencies getting ready to target companies who have been sending large numbers of already existing employees to a third party employer as a way to avoid ACA regulation. We do not recommend this strategy. 

But for employers who haven’t yet reached that 50 FTE benchmark, a third party employer solution applied to your near term hires can successfully delay when your company falls under the ACA.

Word of caution: using a third party employer solution is considered a short term (one-two year) solution. The administrative rules of the ACA dictate that after one year, all workers in your facility, regardless of who employs them, will be counted as part of your FTE.

2. Employers Can Use a Third Party Employer Solution to Mitigate the Costs of Adding Staff.  If you’re an employer who needs to hire but is reeling from the high costs currently associated with each new hire (and targeted to increase after January 2014),  it may be time to seriously consider using a third party employer solution as an extended (6-12 month) onboarding strategy.

While you may have already reviewed and walked away from the more traditional temp-to-hire staffing models, the lower cost, Employer of Record Service model offers all the cost savings advantages of categorizing employees as variable, while providing a very behind-the-scenes model of W2 employment.

Whether you use the full service temp-to-hire service model, or the considerably streamlined Employer of Record Service model, the opportunity to onboard a large number of workers at substantially lowered worker costs compared to the costs of hiring directly is the outcome of either choice.

3. Employers Can Use a Third Party Employer Solution to Avoid Administrative Hassles. The ACA is not just a regulation that adds additional direct costs, but is a regulation rich in administrative detail and reporting requirements.  Administering healthcare benefits where you have to apply definitions of variable workers, calculate look back, measurement and stability periods, and do e “affordability” testing, is going to be a daunting task for whoever takes it on.

And the penalties for not doing the right administration correctly will be significant.

As a staffing company with a large “third party employer” workforce, one of our core competencies is our ability to manage all federal and state staffing regulations, including the ACA. We are getting ready now to be fully compliant with all regulations by January 1st, 2014 and will be ready to help our customers manage through the transition.

jeanneFor a better understanding of how the ACA will impact your company and what you need to know about the options available for you to mitigate the costs associated with the new mandates, contact infodesk@pacestaffing.com to arrange for a personal consultation. Our approach to the ACA is not only to be fully compliant by January 1st, 2014, but to help our customers take full advantage of all aspects of ACA provisions that can drive down staffing costs. This article was prepared by Jeanne Knutzen, Founder and CEO of the PACE Staffing Network using information from a variety of legal, staffing, and other professional sources.

A Day in the Life: Healthcare Administration

by Jeanne Knutzen | May 14, 2013

0 Blog, Healthcare Staffing A Career In Healthcare Administration, Entering Healthcare Administration, Healthcare Administrator, healthcare administrator jobs in Seattle, Healthcare Administrators, Healthcare Staffing In Seattle, Seattle Staffing, Seattle WA Staffing Agencies, Seattle WA Staffing Agency, Staffing In Seattle, Temporary Staffing In Seattle

While physicians, RNs, surgeons, and orderlies are darting around a busy hospital focused on caring for their patients, how do they know who’s responsible for what? Who takes care of the work schedules, management issues, orders, billing, financial matters and policy decisions that allow the hospital to function? Who handles the hiring, firing, budget allocations and business transactions that support the financial health of the clinic and the actual health of its patients? This responsibility falls to the healthcare administrator, a hardworking, well respected member of the industry. This person directs everything that takes place within the clinic or healthcare facility, and she usually holds a master’s degree and several years of experience in a management setting. This position is perfect for those who would like to play a key role in healthcare but aren’t necessarily looking for hands-on treatment responsibilities in clinical environments. If healthcare administration sounds like an ideal career for you, enter the field by making the following moves. Entering Healthcare Administration: Four Steps

1. Learn as much as you can about the field. For starters, it may be useful to know that this profession is in very high demand, and the number of available positions is expected to grow to about 100,000 by 2016. Inquire into your social network to find out who can connect you to an experienced healthcare administer (or administrators).  Once you have a list of names, set up informational interviews with these people to ask for guidance and advice.

2. Earn an undergraduate bachelor’s degree from a reputable, accredited university. Choose a major related to health policy, public health administration, business administration, biology, biochemistry, or any of the life sciences.

3. Pursue a graduate education. While some entry level healthcare admin fields don’t require more than a four year degree, most employers expect candidates to hold at least a master’s degree in public health administration or health policy. To gain access to a reputable graduate program, you’ll need to make sure your coursework, GRE scores, and recommendations are strong.

4. Survive graduate school without burning out. And while you’re working hard and gaining the support your need to pass your exams, make sure you’re also establishing a professional network. Earn the respect of your colleagues and professors, actively seek exposure to professional settings through part-time work and internships, and make contact with anyone in the field who may be able to help you when you’re ready to graduate and start looking for work.

When it’s time to step onto the job market, gather all the resources you need to hit the ground running. A professional staffing agency can be a great place to start. If you are looking for healthcare administrator jobs in Seattle, reach out to the employment experts at Pace for the connections, tools and job search tips you’ll need to get ahead.

Technical Interviews: Make the Most of the Process

by Jeanne Knutzen | May 7, 2013

0 Blog, IT Staffing IT development jobs seattle, Make The Most Of Technical Interviews, Respond To Technical Interview Questions, Seattle IT Staffing, Seattle Staffing, Seattle Staffing Agencies, Seattle Staffing Agency, Seattle WA Staffing, Technical Interviews

Technical interviews are a common part of the job selection process within fields that demand programming skill. While no responsible hiring manager bases an entire hiring decision on technical questions alone, they nevertheless provide employers with a few key insights into a candidate’s readiness, insights that can’t be drawn from a resume, a cover letter, a work sample or a set of questions dealing with personality and behavior. Technical interview questions may begin with a candidate being handed a marker and a whiteboard and asked to solve an algorithm problem. Candidates might be asked to write the binary search algorithm or write code that will rotate an array in place without requiring additional memory. Sometimes candidates will be asked to find the longest palindrome in a string, or solve troubleshooting problems. The First Rule of Technical Interviews: Keep a Cool Head The entire concept of a technical interview often upsets, intimidates, or makes candidates feel a little resentful. After all, most experienced code writers and programmers know that when these problems arise on the job, the answers can easily be looked up. Even the most talented and experienced employees don’t usually carry these solutions and algorithms around in their heads. But when employers ask these questions, they aren’t just looking for straightforward answers. In fact, simply pulling the solution out by rote or from memory won’t really do anything to win them over. Instead, interviewers are presenting these questions in order to expose a candidate to a real world problem and observe the steps she takes to break the problem down and find a solution on her own. So the best way to prepare for this kind of interview won’t come from memorizing every possible answer to every coding problem imaginable. Instead, candidates should keep a cool head and call upon their experience, basic logical ability, and reasoning skills. Prepare for your interview by practicing with a friend, preferably a friend with some relevant technical experience. And remember that even if your potential employers put you on the spot by presenting you with real-time coding problems, they’ll balance your response to these questions with the details of your entire profile. If you looking for IT development positions in the Seattle area, contact the staffing experts at PACE today!

Full Time Employees or Outside Consultants? The Benefits and Drawbacks of Each

by Jeanne Knutzen | April 30, 2013

0 Blog, What's New in Staffing? Full Time Employees Or Outside Consultants, Seattle Staffing, Seattle Staffing Agencies, Seattle Staffing Agency, Seattle WA Staffing, staffing agencies in seattle, Staffing And Hiring Decisions, Temporary Staffing In Seattle, The Benefits Of Outside Consultants

Non-standard working arrangements between employees and the companies that hire them are on the rise. At this point, data suggests that about 30 percent of employer-employee working arrangements in the U.S. fall outside the traditional 1099 model defined by details like eight hour days, onsite task completion, taxes directly withdrawn from paychecks, and employer-provided health insurance. And this number appears to be growing rapidly. As you staff your open positions and search for the most efficient ways to pair workers with vital tasks, how can you decide between traditional employment contracts or consulting agreements with independent providers? Here’s a quick list of pros and cons that can help you move forward. Salary Costs You’ll usually need to pay your outside consultants more per job/hour/project than you would pay a full time employee. But there are several benefits you’ll receive in return for this increase. For example, consultants don’t need to be paid between jobs or kept on board during lulls in your business cycle. They typically show up, provide the skills sets needed, and then move along to the next job when company demand scales back. And they don’t require standard benefits like health insurance and retirement savings plans. In the long run, the amount you save on HR costs, benefits, hiring expenses and the stability that shelters an employee from market highs and lows will equal the extra amount you pay the consultant for his or her services. Skill Sets Consultants can usually offer a higher level of a specific required skill than you may find among your full-time employee pool. So they’re usually called upon to tackle work that’s time critical, skill specific, or too complex for companies to complete themselves. Because they make a living this way, consultants are wise to continually and aggressively build new skill sets, unlike employees who may be less motivated to personally investigate new corners of the industry. But at the same time, employees offer years of experience within their own areas, and they possess intangible institutional knowledge that consultants don’t have. Tax Complications Employers are responsible for deducting all applicable taxes from the paychecks of their traditional employees, which may include federal taxes, unemployment insurance, social security, and state and local taxes. This can add bureaucratic hassle to the full-time staffing process, while outside consultants don’t require this service, since they typically handle tax issues on their own. But again, the more labor and energy the consultant puts into a specific job, the higher the rate he or she can charge an independent employer. And employers will still need to collect W9 forms from consultants and report their earnings to the IRS. This list of pros and cons is by no means comprehensive, but the choice between traditional vs. non-traditional hiring contracts can mean the difference between success and failure for companies with narrow margins. So don’t face these challenges alone. Hiring a full-time or temporary employee can be beneficial to your business. Before you make your decision, reach out to the Seattle staffing and employment experts at PACE. We have the resources and network to help you manage your staff and draw in new talent.

Your 1099 Workforce – Avoiding the High Costs of Misclassifications

by Jeanne Knutzen | April 24, 2013

0 Blog, Human Resource Roles, What's New in Staffing? 1099, 1099 workforce, Independent Contractors, PACE Staffing Network, Seattle Staffing, Seattle Staffing Agency, Seattle Temporary Staffing, Temporary Staffing, Workers Compensation

While companies who have effectively used independent contractors to provide quick and easy access to specialized talent or consulting expertise are often considered amongst our most nimble, some of these same companies have recently found themselves facing hefty bills for back taxes, or complicated law suits stemming from workplace accidents or injuries involving a member of their 1099 workforce. Here’s the deal, if the IRS determines that a worker originally considered “independent” was actually an employee, companies can find themselves liable for unpaid Social Security, Medicare, and Unemployment taxes. The IRS couldn’t be clearer, they see “employee misclassification” as a source of hidden revenue, and has budgeted several billion dollars to “identify and prosecute” employee misclassification issues. But unpaid taxes aren’t the only risk associated with the 1099 workforce. Additional issues have developed around workplace accidents where, because a worker was classified as an independent contractor and not covered under the employer’s Workers Compensation policies, the employer was not protected from the limited liability provisions of Workers Compensation and found themselves sued for double and triple damages. A nuance in Washington State law is that employers who use Independent Contractors are required to pay the Workers Compensation insurance and the state’s SUTA tax on hours and dollars paid to their 1099 workers. Not all states have this provision, nor do all employers in the State of Washington abide by this little known component of our state law. Bottom line, employers are at risk of incurring serious damage costs from a workplace injury by an “independent contractor.” One of the confusions we have seen employers make regarding their use of “independent contractors” stems from the mistaken notion that if the “contractor” is legal, meaning they have a business license or legitimate UBI (tax ID)  number, then they automatically pass the “test”, and can be considered “independent”.  The IRS, on the other hand, makes it clear that the “legality” of the claim of independent contractor status lies with the nature of the work to be performed and the degree of control the employer has over how and when it is performed.   The IRS offers several tests an employer can use to determine a worker's status:

  • The degree of control over the worker’s behavior, which addresses the extent to which an employer controls the work performed. The more control an employer has over how a worker performs the work—specifying where, when, and how the work is done—the less likely the worker will be considered “independent.” Employers who place their independent contractors on work teams with required hours of work, mandatory attendance at meetings, required collaborations around work products, etc., often put an independent contractor at risk of being re-classified as an employee, subject to all the provisions and benefits available to an employee.
  • The degree of control over a worker's financial opportunity, which relates to how a worker gets paid for the work performed or reimbursed for the costs they incur in performing the work. The more control an employer has over a workers total source of income, the less likely that worker will be considered “independent.” An agreement to pay a regular wage/salary for example, can be just as suspect as is an agreement to pay a worker hourly, but with an estimated work schedule of 40 hours each week. Work agreements that tie a worker to an employer who then becomes their sole source of income, suggests a less than “independent” relationship with that employer. A related financial consideration is how much personal investment the worker has in the tools they use.  Are they using their own tools/equipment or the company’s tools/equipment?
  • The type of relationship that is formed between worker and company, oftentimes construed as the exclusivity of the relationship, or the duration of the work commitment. Case law around the permanency of a relationship suggests that work assignments intended to last six months or longer better support the notion that a worker is an employee, compared to shorter term work arrangements. A related factor is whether or not the worker is free to pursue other business opportunities during the term of their agreement to provide their personal services to a company. If an employer is asking or assuming someone will work 40 hours/week on their behalf, it is hard to make the argument that they are free to pursue business opportunities elsewhere.
Unfortunately, case law on the use of these IRS tests to determine employee or independent status is riddled with inconsistent outcomes, making it hard for businesses to make quick, definitive classification decisions. An employer who wants to fully protect themselves can file IRS Form SS-8, Determination of Worker Status for Purposes of Federal Employment Taxes and Income Tax Withholding. The downside, it often takes several months to get a response on a particular request. In light of the growing number of state or federally generated tax audits, we are seeing more and more companies who have historically relied on independent contractors for specialized work in the IT, engineering, or other professional services areas now looking differently at that staffing solution. Some companies have elected to hire these workers directly; others have elected to end long term relationships with 1099 contractors, sometimes leaving significant expertise holes in their organizations. A third option involves a new category of staffing service that allows an employer to continue to utilize their highly valued but flexible 1099 workforce, while avoiding the legal or financial risks being created by the revitalized audit efforts of state and federal agencies. The PACE Staffing Network now offers a full range of  Employer of Record services that can quickly and cost-effectively convert a client’s current 1099 workforce into a “legally compliant” W2 workforce without adding the additional costs normally attributed to a core workforce. The PACE Staffing Network regularly provides Employer of Record services to customers who are looking to optimize workforce flexibility, while avoiding the risk of unforeseen liabilities. For a complimentary discussion about how your company currently uses 1099 contractors and the options you have to mitigate the risk of misclassification, contact infodesk@pacestaffing.com.

What Financial Managers Should Look For In a New Hire

by Jeanne Knutzen | April 19, 2013

0 Blog, Finance/Accounting Roles, Human Resource Roles financial staffing seattle, financial staffing services seattle, Hire Talented Financial Employees, Hiring Financial Employees, Jobs In Seattle WA, Screening Financial Employees, Seattle Staffing, Seattle WA Financial Jobs, Staffing In Seattle WA, Temporary Staffing Seattle, What Financial Managers Should Look For

As you factor in the state of the financial job market, the unique needs of your company, and your available position, what kinds of traits should you consider valuable in a potential candidate? Which qualities should you consider red flags? When you see signs that seem promising, should you act fast and make a decision? Or should you consider the depth of your candidate pool and hold out for more? Keep these considerations in mind as you move through the selection process.

1. First, review the hiring successes and failures of the past. Gather a few profiles for careful examination, including those of the best candidates hired in the past five years and the worst (those who stayed for only a month, were difficult to get along with, or were dismissed after expensive mistakes). What made the great ones stand out? Why did the weak ones fail? And were there any signs of either success or failure that were visible before the candidates were brought on board?

2. Second, separate cultural considerations from technical knowledge and skill. A great candidate means a great “fit”, and fit includes a combination of both attitude and aptitude. Technically skilled candidates won’t thrive if they resist the culture, and likeable candidates will only prosper if they can master the job without excessive stress.

3. Choose candidates who will stay. This may mean letting go of the highly qualified or overqualified superstars, and turning instead to slightly less trained or less experienced applicants. These applicants can be hired at a premium, trained while on the job, and end up just as skilled and a little more grateful and loyal than their superstar counterparts. No matter who you hire, superstar or not, be sure to implement retention strategies to keep your valuable employees.

4. Choose candidates that are flexible and ethical. New regulations affect the financial industry on a regular basis. Are your candidates ready to let go of old models and embrace new ones quickly and fluidly? Are they interested in doing what’s right and going the extra mile to stay aboveboard? Or are they entrenched, entitled, sullen about change, and reluctant to break old habits and patterns?

5. Choose candidates who show respect—Not just for the company, but also for its business model, its customers, its clients, its stakeholders, and the larger community. Look for candidates who consider the big picture and are interested in how the entire company works, including revenue generation.

Reach out the Seattle staffing experts at Pace for more information on screening, hiring and retaining only the most talented financial employees.

More on Employee/1099 Misclassifications – The New “Right to Know” Proposal

by Jeanne Knutzen | April 16, 2013

0 Blog, What's New in Staffing? 1099, 1099 Misclassification, Department of Labor, HR Professionals, PACE Staffing Network, Seattle Staffing, Seattle Staffing Agency, Staffing Agency, The Society for Human Resource Management

As part of our watch on the governments crack down on employee misclassifications and the impact on the 1099 workforce, we thought our readers might be interested in the latest efforts of the Department of Labor to expand its attack on all forms of employee misclassifications that impact a workers access to taxable levels of pay and benefits.  The DOL’s Wage and Hour Division has proposed to conduct a survey to collect information from employees on 1) whether they are classified as an employee, independent contractor, or some other status, and 2) whether or not they understand the implications of their classification status on access to certain pay or benefits.   CommunicationThe survey is being tagged as a first step in the larger “Right to Know” initiative, which they consider a way to “foster more openness and transparency in demonstrating an employer’s compliance” with  certain recordkeeping requirements associated with the Fair Labor Standards Act.  When fully implemented, “Right to Know” regulations would require HR professionals to disclose to their workers how they determined their classification and how their pay and access to benefits will be calculated.     The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has been asked to comment on the survey proposal and will question the necessity for the survey, its format, and its use.  For more information on the DOL Misclassification Initiative you can visit their official website at www.dol.gov/whd/workers/misclassification. For information about the impact of a 1099 misclassifications and how to avoid the hidden liabilities of misclassifications in general, contact our infodesk@pacestaffing.com.