Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for good employees to battle personal problems, such as substance dependence, financial or legal woes, or mental health issues. These struggles can negatively affect their productivity and the working environment around them. Employers can help by offering an employee assistance program (EAP). An EAP helps assist at-risk employees in finding the professional help they need. An employee who enrolls in the EAP may, for example, immediately be put in touch with a counselor or social worker. A common problem faced by many employers who establish an EAP is lack of participation. Whether because of lack of awareness of the program or the stigmas attached to certain personal issues, employees often don’t actively pursue enrollment. Here are four ways to encourage use: 1. Put it in writing — everywhere. Update educational materials, both electronic and print, to highlight EAP services and the issues they address. Use bold graphics and clear, easy-to-read text. Don’t limit a description of your EAP to your employee handbook. Mention it regularly in other employee communications, such as benefits materials and your company newsletter. 2. Offer electronic entry points. Maximize the use of online technology so employees can discreetly gather information and understanding […] Details
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) liberalized the eligibility rules for using the cash method of accounting, making this method — which is simpler than the accrual method — available to more businesses. Now the IRS has provided procedures a small business taxpayer can use to obtain automatic consent to change its method of accounting under the TCJA. If you have the option to use either accounting method, it pays to consider whether switching methods would be beneficial. Cash vs. accrual Generally, cash-basis businesses recognize income when it’s received and deduct expenses when they’re paid. Accrual-basis businesses, on the other hand, recognize income when it’s earned and deduct expenses when they’re incurred, without regard to the timing of cash receipts or payments. In most cases, a business is permitted to use the cash method of accounting for tax purposes unless it’s: 1. Expressly prohibited from using the cash method, or 2. Expressly required to use the accrual method. Cash method advantages The cash method offers several advantages, including: Simplicity. It’s easier and cheaper to implement and maintain. Tax-planning flexibility. It offers greater flexibility to control the timing of income and deductible expenses. For example, it allows you to defer […] Details
Americans gave unprecedented sums to charity in response to the devastating hurricanes last year. Large organizations, such as the American Red Cross, were equipped to handle the huge influxes of donations. However, some smaller charities were overwhelmed. Although it may seem like an unlikely problem, your not-for-profit needs a plan to handle a potential outpouring of support. Know what’s normal Perhaps the biggest lesson to learn from recent disasters is to always have an expansion plan in place. When the influx of online giving reached critical mass, many organizations found that their websites overloaded and went offline. Their sites had to be moved to more powerful servers to handle the increased traffic. Keep track of “normal” website hits, as well as the numbers of calls and email inquiries received, so you won’t be caught off guard when you start to surpass that amount. Also, know your systems’ ultimate capacity so you can enact a contingency plan should you approach critical mass. Mobilize your troops Having an “early warning system” is only one part of being prepared. You also need to be able to mobilize your troops in a hurry. Do you know how to reach all of your board members […] Details
In the face of a tight job market and a widening skills gap, employers in many industries are catching on to the benefits of “upskilling.” More than just your typical employee training, upskilling takes a broad approach to development. It can involve teaching workers additional skills in areas related to but outside their current positions to help fulfill the employer’s existing or anticipated needs. Or it can simply give employees access to learning that will help them progress in their careers, either with their current employer or elsewhere. Real-world examples Take, for example, Starbucks’ College Achievement Plan. It offers workers tuition reimbursements to earn an online bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University. The coffee company doesn’t stop at tuition — it also provides coaches, advisors and 24/7 tutoring. Another example is Boeing’s recent launch of a program that will give employees access to online lessons, certification courses and degree programs, as well as several programs to help enhance technical skills, starting with digital literacy. Potential perks The potential perks for employers are many, including: • Improved employee retention, • Reduced recruiting costs, • Higher productivity, • Better engagement, and • Stronger branding. Companies also are finding that many customers increasingly […] Details
Complex accounting estimates — such as allowances for doubtful accounts, impairments of long-lived assets, and valuations of financial and nonfinancial assets — have been blamed for many high-profile accounting scams and financial restatements. Estimates generally involve some level of measurement uncertainty, and some may even require the use of outside specialists, such as appraisers or engineers. As a result, examining estimates is a critical part of an audit. Companies that understand the audit process are better equipped to facilitate audit fieldwork and can communicate more effectively with their auditors. Here’s what you need to know about auditing the use of estimates as we head into next audit season. Audit techniques Some estimates may be easily determinable, but many are inherently complex. Auditing standards generally provide the following three approaches for substantively testing accounting estimates and fair value measurements: 1. Testing management’s process. Auditors evaluate the reasonableness and consistency of management’s assumptions, as well as test whether the underlying data is complete, accurate and relevant. 2. Developing an independent estimate. Using management’s assumptions (or alternate assumptions), auditors come up with an estimate to compare to what’s reported on the internally prepared financial statements. 3. Reviewing subsequent events or transactions. The reasonableness […] Details
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