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.

The Job Market – March 2013

by Jeanne Knutzen | April 10, 2013

0 Blog, What's New in Staffing? Job Growth, Job Market, PACE Staffing Network, Seattle Staffing, Seattle Staffing Agency, Staffing Firms, Temporary Jobs, Unemployment, Unemployment Rate

March was another big month for the temporary help industry. Staffing firms added between 20k-50k new jobs between the end of February and end of March. Year-to-year, the number of temporary jobs grew by 6-7% when compared to temporary jobs in March 2012. The growth in temporary jobs is explainable in the context of the broader market where the economy added 88,000 jobs in March. This is the lowest rate of job growth in nine months and far below the 200,000 or more jobs predicted by many economists.  This is just another example where growth in temporary jobs often goes hand-in-hand with a slowing down or increased volatility in the larger job market. Overall employment growth was primarily driven by new jobs in professional and business services (+51,000), health care (+23,000), construction (+18,000), and leisure and hospitality (+17,000). The overall U.S. unemployment rate took a small dip downward from 7.7% in February to 7.6% in March. Other negative news came from tracking layoffs where March reported companies announcing over 49,000 in layoffs. While this represents an 11% downtick of announced layoffs from February, it is a 30% increase over layoffs reported in March 2012. The first quarter of 2013 saw more announced layoffs than any quarter since 2011. A recent survey by PNC Financial Services Group indicates that the owners of small and midsized businesses planned to delay hiring new employees despite what is otherwise their cautious optimism about the economy in general. Three out of four small and midsized businesses expect their staffing to remain unchanged for the next six months. It would appear that the optimism with which most businesses started this year is now being tempered by ongoing reports of actual results falling short of expectations. For more information about the local job market and the availability of employees for temporary or direct-hire, contact infodesk@pacestaffing.com

H-1B Visas 2014!

by Jeanne Knutzen | March 26, 2013

0 Blog, IT Staffing, What's New in Staffing?

Here is a heads up to our customers and suppliers in need of employees working on H-1B Visas. We received the following information in regards to the process used in applying for 2014 Visas. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting H-1B petitions for FU 2014 cap on Monday, April 1st, 2013. The cap, which is the numerical limitation on H-1B petitions that will be accepted for 2014, is 65,000. The first 20,000 H-1B petitions from individuals who have received a master’s degree or higher will be exempt from this cap. If USCIS receives more petitions than it can accept, they will use a lottery system to randomly select the number of petitions allotted to reach the numerical limit. The lottery method was last used in April, 2008. In light of the volume of petitions that are anticipated to be filed in the first few days of April, USCIS has temporarily adjusted its current premium processing practice. While petitioners may still request premium processing for cases filed on April 1st, the 15-day adjudication period will not begin until April 15th, 2013. For more information about how your company can access high quality IT talent, with or without H-1B status, contact our infodesk@pacestaffing.com.

Tips for a Competitive Recruiting Strategy

by Jeanne Knutzen | March 26, 2013

0 Blog, Human Resource Roles Competitive Recruiting Tips, Keys To Successful Recruiting, Seattle Staffing, Seattle Temporary Staffing, Seattle WA Staffing, Staffing In Seattle WA, Temporary Staffing In Seattle, Tips For A Competitive Recruiting Strategy

Recruiting is a tricky business with a definition of “success” that varies widely from one open position to the next. Sometimes a position needs to be filled fast, above all else, and candidate credentials are flexible. Sometimes only one credential matters, and the identification of a candidate with this unique skill set can be considered a home run, even if the process takes six months. Sometimes strong recruiting requires a sharp eye for red flags, sometimes it takes a wide network, and sometimes it takes the ability to pitch a company and position to a star candidate buried in competing options. And of course, sometimes excellent recruiting requires all of these things and more. Here are a few recruiting tips that help you leverage your advantages and overcome the obstacles that stand between you and the candidates you need.

1. Set clear goals.

Before you set off on a sourcing mission, make sure the requirements of the position are crystal clear. Maintain open communication channels with the client if you’re an outside contractor, and if you’re recruiting in-house, stay in touch with HR, the position manager, the department head, and even the financial pros who set the budget for this specific salary. Know what you want—and what you can afford—before you start looking.

2. Lean hard on your network

Don’t leave any stone unturned, and don’t leave any option unexplored. You may start by running a keyword search through your current resume database, but don’t stop there. Attend networking and industry events, visit job fairs, and collect resumes from any likely candidate through any available source.

3. Don’t waste time.

If excellent, top tier candidates have special requirements (like salary adjustments, moving allowances, or the ability to work remotely) then go ahead and negotiate. Present them to the client anyway and be clear about the terms. But if a candidate is a marginal match and comes with a list of deal breakers, just move on.  The right match is out there, and the longer you wait to find her, the more likely she is to land another position first.

4. Most important, when you find your star, move fast.

Don’t lose your top choice to a competing offer after you've made up your mind. Put the HR wheels in motion, cut through the red tape, and get the offer in to her hands before she’s lured away.  During the entire process, treat the candidate with respect and keep her updated whenever your timeline changes.

For more information on competitive recruiting strategies, or for a consultation on how to turn your contingent staffing strategies into a competitive advantage, contact infodesk@pacestaffing.com.

Top Skills Accounting Managers Will Need In 2013

by Jeanne Knutzen | March 20, 2013

0 Blog, Finance/Accounting Roles accountant staffing seattle, Accounting Management Skills, Management Skills for 2013, Seattle Staffing, Seattle Staffing Agencies, Seattle Staffing Agency, Seattle Temporary Staffing, Staffing In Seattle WA, Temporary Staffing In Seattle, Top Skills For Accounting Managers, Value Managerial Skill Sets

You’re no longer just an accountant or an employee; you’re a manager now. And it’s no longer 1995; this is 2013. Before you leap into the year ahead thinking your technical job skills and basic, outdated management approach will carry you to easy victory, think again. Make sure you work hard to actively build each of these core competencies into your career toolkit. Mast Valued Managerial Skill Sets for 2013 1. An entrepreneurial approach It’s no longer enough to simply execute the tasks handed to you by your boss. Recognize that your company is a work in progress, a growing entity that depends on your ideas and energy, not just your willingness to follow orders. Keep the big picture in focus—not just sometimes, but all the time. 2. Coaching ability The world of effective management has evolved, and it’s no longer enough to simply tell employee what to do and expect them to clamor for your approval. Teach, don’t dictate. And coach; don’t just expect employees to pursue new information, new regulations, new software language, and new skill sets on their own. 3. Emotional intelligence Human capital is the most valuable capital your company owns. It’s also the most expensive and the most complex. If you’re not using every part of your brain to understand your employees and help them do their jobs—including your intuition, your experience, and your emotional intelligence—fix this. That includes your ability to read between the lines of human interaction. 4. Replace cost cutting with ROI Build your company’s investments with the future in mind. Don’t just look for ways to save nickels and dimes at the expense of global initiatives and long-term goals. 5. Situation awareness Before you can develop a plan of action and make a move, you need to fully understand all of the current factors at play. This takes a sharp understanding of your business model and target market. It also takes a willingness to listen before you speak, stay awake to nuance, make complex connections quickly, and think before you act. 6. Social media skills The internet is now an established way of life and a permanent presence in the global marketplace. And while individual social media utilities may come and go, your ability to master new ones and understand their general impact on your business will be crucial in the years ahead. 7. A focus on personal development Great managers are always growing, on both a professional and personal level. If you never rest, never become self-satisfied, and keep embracing change and staying flexible, you’ll be poised to thrive no matter what comes your way. Turn to the Seattle staffing and business management pros at Pace for more information on how to get ahead of the curve and stay ahead, whatever the future may bring.

Employment Background Checking – What’s happening?

by Jeanne Knutzen | March 13, 2013

0 Blog, What's New in Staffing? Background Checks, Credit Reports, Employee Screening, Employment Background Check, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Fair Credit Report Act, Seattle Staffing, Seattle Staffing Agency

While more and more PACE customers are requiring an increased number of background checks prior to allowing even their short term temporary employees to work on-site, recent trends are starting to reveal just how slippery a slope we’re all on. Here are the trends we see and want our clients to know about. 1. The EEOC is watching closely. With 9 out of 10 employers conducting criminal background checks on some, if not all job candidates, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has been paying increased attention to the employer communities’ improper use of arrest and conviction records as part of their hiring process. Their concern?  Making sure that an employer does not check for criminal history too early in the process or reveal the results to all players in the hiring process—thus creating unfair or discriminatory barriers for ex-offenders. Don’t expect them to be definitive—just pay special attention. 2. New Regulations (Re: Credit Reports). Seven states, Washington being one of them, currently have laws limiting the use of credit report checks by employers for employment purposes. Washington’s law, passed in 2007, prohibits employers from obtaining a credit report as part of a background check unless that information is substantially job related.  It requires employers to state in writing their reasons for using this information—for example, could their credit information be relevant to their job performance. 3. Social Media – Increasingly prevalent, but still controversial. While some employers have been found negligent by not tapping into information readily available to them via social media venues, employers have also learned to tread with caution.  The information you read is not always 100% accurate and you could face issues related to violation of privacy and possible discrimination.  A recent study by social media thought leader, Jobvite, suggests that 86% of recruiters will, on occasion, view a candidate profile on a social media venue—61% say they do so regularly.  By searching these social media venues for possible job candidates, employers are potentially facing a slippery slope. 4. Automation – Balancing efficiencies with risk. While technology advances have created a robust landscape for employers to select their screening providers—who advertise fast, accurate and inexpensive results–the risks of misusing unfiltered or inaccurate information continue to increase. Whole new industries and services are being created to certify a vendor’s use of “best practices.” For example the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) has created an accreditation rating for its screening provider members. Employers are urged to select their background check vendors against measured forms of knowledge and process execution. 5. Lawsuits – More coming on all fronts! With the advancement of Fair Credit Report Act (FCRA) regulations, employees and their attorneys are now looking closely at how those regulations have been implemented inside specific employer organizations and how they have impacted specific employees applying for work. Not unexpected, however, are the increasing number of FCRA infractions and other related lawsuits. The result is the “perfect storm”—with employers facing the risk of being sued by their own employees for workplace crimes committed by other employees that were negligently hired, while also facing lawsuits from job applicants complaining of inaccurate reports or failures to meet FCRA disclosure requirements.

75% of Your Workforce is “Always Looking”

by Jeanne Knutzen | March 12, 2013

0 Blog, INFO AND RESOURCES FOR JOB SEEKERS, What's New in Staffing? American Staffing Association, American Workforce, Facebook, Job Seekers, Jobvite, LinkedIn, Seattle Staffing, Seattle Staffing Agency, Seattle Temp Staffing, Social Media Recruiting seattle, Twitter

According to social media thought leader, Jobvite, in their 2012 Social Job Seeker Survey, 75% of US workers are constantly looking for work—a number that is up six percentage points over the comparable count in 2011. While 1/3 of these job seekers feel less optimistic about finding a job today than they did a year ago, 41% of employed job seekers believe they are overqualified for the jobs they currently hold.  Jobvite's Social Job Seeker Survey 2012 polled over 2,100 adults, 1300 of that number were either currently employed or unemployed and considered themselves actively looking for work. According to the Jobvite survey, Facebook is the leading social network in the American workforce with 83% participating at some level in Facebook activity. Both Twitter and LinkedIn enjoyed major increases in 2012 compared to 2011 with Twitter now being used by 46% of the workforce; LinkedIn used by 41%. Not surprising, those people considered job seekers were shown to be more social than the overall workforce—88% had at least one social networking profile; 64% had accounts with at least two networks and 44% using three or more. With 1 in 4 job seekers (24%) indicating that they were asked for their social media profiles as part of an application process, more workers reported they had updated their profile content with professional information in 2012 than they had in the year prior. In previous studies, Jobvite has found that 86% of recruiters occasionally look at social profiles for candidates they interview, with 48% reporting they always do so.  According to press releases by Jobvite, Dan Finnigan, President and CEO said that “maintaining an online presence and keeping employment top-of-mind at all times are vital to professional success.” Facebook Stats

  • 52% of job seekers use Facebook to help find work, up from 48% in 2011
  • 14% searched for jobs on Facebook
  • 17% provided their Facebook profile on a job application or during an interview
  • 70% of Facebook-using job seekers are male, 63% are under the age of 40, 40% earn more than $75,000 and 36% are college graduates
LinkedIn Stats
  • 38% of job seekers use LinkedIn to help find work; up from 30% in 2011
  • 19% had a contact share a job on LinkedIn (vs. 8% in 2011)
  • 11% searched for jobs on LinkedIn
  • 9% provided their LinkedIn profile on a job application or during an interview
  • 60% of LinkedIn-using job seekers are male, 62% are under the age of 40, 51% earn more than $75,000 and 50% are college graduates
Twitter Stats
  • 34% of job seekers use Twitter to help find work; up from 26% in 2011
  • 11% had a contact share a job on Twitter (vs. 7% in 2011)
  • 10% searched for jobs on Twitter
  • 10% provided their Twitter profile on a job application or during an interview
  • 67% of Twitter-using job seekers are male, 69% are under the age of 40, 46% earn more than $75,000 and 44% are college graduates
Jobvite is a leading recruiting platform for the social web, providing companies with applicant tracking, recruiter CRM and social recruiting software.  Information on their press release was provided by the American Staffing Association. For more information on Jobvite and their 2012 Social Media Survey, visit www.jobvite.com.

Lean Manufacturing Principles: Can They Reduce Costs in Healthcare?

by Jeanne Knutzen | March 12, 2013

0 Blog, Healthcare Staffing healthcare staffing agencies in seattle, healthcare staffing agencies in seattle wa, healthcare staffing agencies seattle, healthcare staffing agencies seattle wa, healthcare staffing seattle, healthcare staffing seattle wa, staffing agency seattle wa

While the economy recovers and many business sectors return to normal rates of purchasing, hiring, and expansion, the healthcare industry is still experiencing enormous—and growing—financial pressures. In the face of these pressures, healthcare managers are predictably turning to staff reductions, workforce shaping, and layoffs. But a closer look often reveals that drastic staffing cuts aren’t the only solution. In fact, relying on layoffs may actually not lead to long term cost reduction and may allow mangers to ignore more pressing cost-control issues inherent in weak processes and procedures. If you’re in a healthcare management position and you’re looking for ways to cut costs while avoiding layoffs and improving patient care, consider borrowing from the manufacturing sector and incorporating the principles of lean manufacturing into your facility or clinic. Start with the recommendations below. Cut Costs in Healthcare Using Lean Management 1. Streamline clinic design Attack construction and expansion projects first during times of high financial pressure. Instead of expanding recklessly, reduce capital spending and find ways to make better use of existing equipment and space. This may require revaluating floor layouts, or redrafting plans to make pending expansions more efficient. 2. Reduce preventable events Insurers and Medicare are increasingly unwilling to pay for events and conditions considered “preventable”. These can include anything from pressure ulcers, to falls, to accidental amputations. Since these events tend to occur more often when clinics are understaffed and professionals are overworked, reevaluate layoff plans and instead, take a close look at documentation procedures, training protocols, and other ways to reduce these problems at the source. 3. Take a closer look at your supply chain. Re-examine vendor contracts at least once a year, and in the meantime, consider the ways in which products are ordered and stored. Receiving items in smaller batches, for example, can reduce problems due to rotation, shelf life, and excess capital tied up in overstock. 4. Streamline charting and other processes to cut back on staff overtime. Cutting back on overtime can go long way toward reducing payroll costs without alienating employees through layoffs. While you’re at it, extend your good stewardship of financial resources by removing extra steps from the billing process, and reducing the degree of unnecessary tests and diagnostic procedures performed by doctors and technicians. Reach out to the Seattle staffing experts at Pace for specific guidance on reducing cost, waste, mistakes and billing delays at your healthcare facility. If you can make better use of your existing human capital, you’ll reduce the morale problems and other risks that can result from unnecessary staff reductions.

5 Tips for IT Managers: Hold Onto Your Millennial Employees

by Jeanne Knutzen | March 9, 2013

0 Blog, IT Staffing it staffing agencies seattle, it staffing firms seattle, it staffing in seattle, it staffing in seattle wa, it staffing in seattle washington, IT Staffing Seattle, it staffing seattle wa

Having members of the millennial generation on your team can provide an incredible boost to your bottom line and plenty of intangible benefits for your workplace culture. Millennials—the post collegiate workers at the youngest end of the age spectrum in the professional world—are generally a delight to have on board. Young workers need managers with a distinct approach to retention, one that may not apply as well to mid-career, gen X, and older workers. Here are a few steps that can help keep talented young workers on your team as they gain experience.

Tips for Retaining Millennial IT Employees

1. Pay attention to where they’re headed. Most post collegiate workers don’t expect to stay with their current employers for very long. A first job is first job, and you can expect your millennials to get restless and make a move within one to five years. If you want to hold onto them, be ready for this, stay in touch with their personal career goals, and make sure you have room available for in-house advancement when the time comes.

2. Offer flexibility. Younger workers usually prefer freedom and flexibility over money, retirement plans, and job security. This doesn’t mean you have carte blanche to underpay and exploit them in exchange for offering dress-down Fridays. But it does mean you’ll get positive results if you let them work from home whenever possible and allow them to use their personal devices on your network.

3. Respect their devices. Let them use their iPhones and tablets while at work if this use doesn’t undermine productivity. (This doesn’t mean you can expect them to use their own devices to accomplish work related tasks. If you do this, you’ll need to contribute to their data plans.)

4. Listen to their crazy ideas. Young people don’t know very much about how the world, or this business, really works. But their ignorance sometimes makes them brilliant. Tune in. Encourage them to express their ideas, risk failure, try new things, and speak up when they may have something to offer.

5. Provide them with structure. Just because they seem bold and free spirited doesn’t mean they are. All young people experience uncertainty now and then, but the members of this generation in particular are known for their highly sheltered, over-validated upbringings. They may sometimes chafe against the training wheels and restrictions placed on them, but before you send them out on their own, give them very clear instructions, rules with consequences, and the assurance of support.

Hire millennial workers who will make you proud, and once you bring them on board, take all the steps necessary to train them, encourage them, and retain them as their skill sets grow. Pace Staffing can help. Reach out to our office for more ways to get the most out of your post collegiate workforce.

IT and Healthcare – Where the Jobs Are!

by Jeanne Knutzen | March 8, 2013

0 Blog, IT Staffing, What's New in Staffing? Healthcare, Healthcare Industry, Healthcare Jobs, IT, IT Job Market, IT Marketplace, IT Professionals, PACE Staffing Network, Seattle Staffing, Seattle Staffing Agency

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the IT job market added 62,500 jobs in 2012, a good start, but not yet a number that returns the sector to its pre-recession highs. But for those of us staffing IT professionals for the healthcare industry, we have seen an exceptionally robust demand for IT talent over the last three/four years. In 2012, IT jobs in healthcare and healthcare insurance lead the way as the fastest growing segments of the IT marketplace. 2013 is shaping up to look the same. Part of the reason for healthcare-related IT growth is driven by an overall growth in healthcare services in general—the growing patient population fueled by our aging baby boomers. Overall healthcare employment rose by 338,000 jobs in 2012, and is expected to surpass that number in 2013. According to the Center for Health Workforce Studies one in nine Americans will be working in a healthcare related job by the year 2020.  IT growth is also being fueled by changes directly impact the healthcare industry. Two of the primary drivers of growth in healthcare IT have been the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the 2010 Affordable Care Act, (ObamaCare). The Recovery Act set new technology standards for medical providers, requiring that hospitals, clinics and insurers adapt standardized electronic systems for storing and sharing patient health records. The new ICD-10 billing and coding standards are being implemented now. In similar fashion, the Affordable Care Act has created a whole new set of IT jobs stemming from the state-based online health insurance marketplaces that must be operable by January, 2014. By all counts, the basic infrastructure that needs to be in place just to meet the new service needs of the millions of new patients/consumers who will be entering the healthcare marketplace between 2013 and 2020 ensures strong growth in the IT job market for several years to come. As healthcare providers have been turning more and more to new forms of virtual care as a way to lower their operating costs, IT professionals have been expanding the quantity and quality of ways patients and providers can interface virtually. In the last two years, those interfaces have had to accommodate an increasingly mobile population of healthcare customers, requiring constant changes in mobile friendly interfaces. Other IT projects have been focused on improving clinical data searches, business intelligence, and the development of systems to allow various software, apps, databases and clinical hardware to share and exchange information. Big data has definitely been a trend alive and well in healthcare IT. With some variation between surveys, IT salaries have been slated to grow somewhere between 1-5% over the next 12 months, with the bulk of the higher percentage increases being earned by the IT professionals who are involved with healthcare. For more information about jobs in IT, healthcare, insurance and financial markets in particular, contact infodesk@pacestaffing.com—please include IT jobs in the subject line.

When is Work, Work?

by Jeanne Knutzen | March 7, 2013

0 Blog, Human Resource Roles Employer of Record services, Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, FLSA, Non-Exempt Employees, PACE Staffing Network, Seattle Staffing, Seattle Staffing Agency, Temporary Workforce

Under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), all non-exempt employees must be paid the minimum wage for all hours worked in a work week and must be paid overtime at the rate of 1.5 times the employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a work week. What isn’t often discussed is what hours of work or work related activity must be included in the count of hours of work paid at either regular or overtime rate. We run into these issues periodically when working with our hourly paid flexible workforces. Whether these workers are categorized as exempt or non-exempt, they must be paid for all hours of work. The following is a list of situations where we frequently field questions from our clients:

  • Pre and Post-Job Activities. All job-related activities required as a part of an employee’s work must be calculated as hours of work.  This includes work performed either before or after the employee’s  actual work schedule and includes pre-start orientations, required after hours meetings, or any hours spent by workers for their employer’s (or our client’s) benefit. Examples of time to be paid would be the time it takes to complete a time card, to change in or out of required work clothes or equipment, to assemble materials needed to perform the work, or to receive instructions about the work—all are considered hours worked and the employee must be paid.
  • Waiting Time. Employees who arrive at a work site early—earlier  than the required start time—are not automatically entitled to be paid for any time they spend waiting to begin work.  However, if an employee reports at the required time and then waits because there is no work to start on, the waiting time is compensable.
  • Stand-By Time. Workers who are required to stand-by at a worksite “ready” to work, must be paid for this waiting time.  Stand-by time typically refers to short-term time periods where a worker is not officially working but is asked to “stand-by” ready to work. The defining rule for stand-by time is that if the employee remains under the employer’s control to the point where they cannot use their time for their own purpose or benefit, the stand-by time must be paid. 
  • On-Call Time. On-Call time is different from Stand-By time in that it includes time spent by an employee “available” to be called into work while free to pursue activities for their own benefit. The FLSA requires employers to compensate workers for on-call time when such time is spent “predominantly for the employer’s benefit.” This means that an employee, who is only required to be available for work if asked, is not considered working and is not paid for their time on-call.
  • Meal and Break Periods. Under FLSA rulings, time spent for meal or rest periods may or may not be compensable, depending on the amount of time provided for the break and to what extent the employee is relieved from their work duties while on break.
Bona fide meal periods need to be of sufficient duration (30 minutes or more) and free of work duties in order for the meal period to be exempt from required pay regulations. If, for example, an employee is asked to sit at their desk to answer phones during their lunch break, they should be paid for their meal break. While employers can have policies prohibiting employees from leaving the work site for a meal break, it is only when work is required of them during the break, that their time must be compensable. Rest periods, on the other hand for shorter periods (5 to 20 minutes) are always counted as hours worked.
  • Unauthorized Hours of Work. Employees who, with the direct or implied awareness of their employer, start work before their work is scheduled,  work through unpaid breaks,  or continue to work after their work schedule is officially over, are considered to be working during all these times periods and their time “at work” must be paid. This is true even if these hours of work were performed voluntarily and are considered by their employer to be “unauthorized.” If the work performed during these “unauthorized hours” benefits the employer, the FLSA requires that the employee be paid. This puts the burden on management to make certain that regular work time rules are rigorously enforced, perhaps even promising disciplinary action for employees who work in unauthorized ways.  Merely stating that all work be authorized is not sufficient.
For more information on the work rules outlined by FLSA regulations and as applied to either your temporary or hourly workforce, contact our infodesk@pacestaffing.com.

Prepare for a Changing Hiring Landscape

by Jeanne Knutzen | February 28, 2013

0 Blog, Hiring.Best Practices, Human Resource Roles Adjust Your Hiring Strategy For 2013, Hiring Strategy Challenges For 2013, Prepare For A Changing Hiring Landscape, Seattle Staffing, Seattle Temporary Staffing, Seattle WA Staffing Agency, staffing agencies in seattle, staffing agenciesi in seattle wa, Staffing In Seattle, Staffing In Seattle WA, Temporary Staffing In Seattle

In the world of HR and business management, every era brings a new set of exciting opportunities, and along with those opportunities come challenges unique to the age. 2013 is no exception, and savvy hiring managers are already looking for ways to adjust and streamline their approaches to candidate sourcing, and screening in the year ahead. Here are a few of the most important ways in which recruiters, managers and HR pros will need to adapt.

Prepare for the 2013 Hiring Landscape

1. Optimize Mobile Utilities

A few years ago the world started to go digital, and companies that ignored or shrugged off the arrival of the Internet age did so at their peril. Those who weren’t ready to launch websites and start thinking about SEO were swept aside, and online selling and marketing are now commonplace for almost every business model, product, and service. Now it’s time for the next step: taking web utilities and making them accessible by mobile device. If talented job seekers can reach you online, that’s great. If they can reach you from a mobile device while on the go, that’s better.

2. Match Skills with Positions

Workforce shaping and in-house training are becoming watchwords for the next decade. It’s no longer enough to simply hire smart young candidates brimming with potential. In a world of increasingly focused and narrow skill sets, you don’t need ambitious go-getters; you need Level 2 CNC programmers, licensed and certified technicians, designers, engineers, and artists who specialize in your tiny corner of the marketplace.

3. Cultivate a Pipeline

How far into the future does your long-term staffing plan extend? If your answer is “three years or less,” that’s no good. Get the most out of your existing talent by making sure your best employees have a place to go when they’re ready to advance. And if you have a position that’s likely to open up during the next few years, groom and train someone in-house; you’ll mitigate risk and save countless resources when that day arrives.

4. Use Visual Media

Visuals are fast becoming the most effective message delivery system to your pool of talented potential employees. Find a way to incorporate graphs, illustrations, videos and multi-media into your job posts and other targeted information, like the “careers” tab on your webpage. Every open position in the company should have its own frequently updated blog, and that blog should be heavy with visual media and visual messages.

For more information on preparing your hiring strategy for the challenges ahead, reach out to the Seattle staffing and HR experts at Pace. Our years of experience allow us to look into the future and see what’s coming, and we can help you do the same.

Topics to Avoid in a CPA Interview

by Jeanne Knutzen | February 21, 2013

0 Blog, Finance/Accounting Roles accountant jobs in seattle wa, accountant jobs seattle, accounting jobs in seattle, accounting jobs in seattle wa, accounting staffing agencies seattle, accounting staffing agencies seattle wa, accounting staffing seattle

You’re heading into your interview for an accounting position, and for the most part, you aren’t worried. You have confidence in your skills, you have enough experience to qualify for the position, and you’ve been practicing and polishing your generic interview skills. But before you step into the hiring manager’s office, make a note: There are a few topics that it’s best to avoid in a financial interview. Don’t bring these topics up voluntarily, and if they surface on their own, move past them gracefully and quickly. Don’t Dwell On These Interview Topics 1. Your most important mistakes Becoming great at anything means making a few mistakes along the way. Your mistakes provided the lessons that make you valuable as an employee. But ironically, employers don’t really want to hear about them, even if they ask. If you were fired from a previous position, laid off, or reprimanded as a result of an error, failure, or oversight, focus your explanation on the positive. Talk only about what you learned from the episode, not the details of what when wrong in the first place. 2. Salary, benefits, deal breakers and deal sweeteners Don’t attempt to alter the terms of the deal before a deal exists. For example, you may live five states away, and unless the company funds your relocation, you’re unlikely to accept the job. But even so, now isn’t the time to bring this up. If you have deal breakers, like a salary minimum, handicapped accommodation requirements, the need for comprehensive health insurance, or he need for onsite childcare, don’t talk about it now. Of course you’ll have to bring these things up before you sign any contracts or accept the job, but let the offer happen first. 3. Gossip and name dropping beyond the strictly professional If you need to bring up the name of a mutual contact or a client your interviewer may know, keep all discussions of this person positive and short. You aren’t aware of all the relationships and politics at work, so play it safe and you’ll be less likely to accidentally insult someone. This includes organizations as well as individual people. 4. The private affairs of previous clients Of course you would never disclose any privileged information about your current or former clients. But be clear about this with your word choices and your demeanor. Everything you do and everything you choose to say should inspire trust. For more information about what to bring up—and what to avoid—during your industry-specific interview, arrange a meeting with the Seattle job search experts at Pace. We can connect you with leads, help you polish your presentation, and give you the tips and tools you need to land the job you want.