Today’s business owners and executives must navigate a ton of complexity and wear many hats to manage their HR function. RKL’s Human Capital Management team is here to help, with the latest updates, important reminders and actionable insights you need to maximize your most important asset – your people. Feedback is important to our continued education and engagement efforts – drop us a line and let us know what you think of this newsletter! 

Here are the trends and hot topics we’re tracking this quarter.

  • Workforce reskilling: COVID has led many organizations to de-emphasize recruiting and talent acquisition, which requires them to do less with more. One trend we’re tracking is the use of upskilling (learning new skills) and reskilling (learning new skills for a different role). As more organizations try to leverage their current workforce, these strategies can play a key role. Learn more in this post from SHRM.
  • Review benefit package for pandemic coverage: A recent study from WorldatWork on COVID-19’s impact on health benefits found that 44 percent of employers adjusted their plans to include coverage, clauses and policies related to a pandemic. Sixty-four percent of organizations prioritized full coverage for COVID-19 testing. Read the full study here. 
HR is a company’s biggest expense area, so we want to spotlight ways you can save money or cut costs. Let’s take a look at the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC).  

Under ERTC, eligible employers can receive a 70 percent credit (up to $7,000 per employee per quarter) for qualified wages for all of 2021 (expanded with the recent American Rescue Plan Act). PPP loan recipients are newly eligible to take the ERTC, so organizations with first round PPP funds can retroactively claim the credit at 2020 levels (50 percent credit for qualified wages up to $5,000 per employee) via an amendment to the Q4 2020 Form 941. For 2020, this could mean an additional $5,000 per employee; for 2021, the amount jumps to $28,000 per employee. Depending on average FTE count, employers may need the input of employees regarding their productivity to calculate this valuable payroll credit – learn how one client tackled this in Around the Water Cooler. For guidance and assistance, consider our ERTC support package, which includes a decision tree updated for the American Rescue Plan.  

Purchase ERTC Support Package
What’s on the minds of your HR peers? Check out this recent client inquiry. 
Q: What are some tips for asking employees (especially exempt/salaried) to provide input on work productivity for the purposes of ERTC calculation?
A: The ERTC is based on the extent of disruption to a company’s workforce, revenue and operations due to COVID-19. Large employers must calculate their ERTC credit based on wages paid for non-productive work time. For 2020, a large employer is any average FTE count over 100; for 2021, that count jumps to 500. Many employers are hesitant about asking employees to help them quantify dips in their own productivity, but as one client recently demonstrated, transparency and communication have broader benefits.  

Beyond requesting personal work records, the client developed FAQs to educate employees on the ERTC, outline the possible financial benefit to the company and stress how their input would maximize that benefit. This approach elevated a self-reporting task into helping protect the company’s financial standing. 

This is a valuable lesson beyond the ERTC and COVID-19: When you ask your employees to do something or provide certain information, make sure you tell them why you need it, how it benefits the organization and how they are part of the solution. 

Submit Your Questions
Upcoming due dates:
Third round stimulus checks on the way: On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act into law. The biggest part of the bill is another round of direct payments. Get details on the timing and method of payment on this IRS resource page. We will provide more information on other aspects of the bill affecting employers and employees in upcoming editions of the Human Capital Minute and on our blog at

   Lauren Stricker, HR Consultant

Connect with Lauren on LinkedIn

What is your area of HR expertise?
I focus on the intersection of HR and data: compensation, labor and job analysis; organization and process assessment; and survey development, scoring and interpretation.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
Each organization is unique, so I love getting creative around new ways to solve problems.

What are you reading or watching right now? Any recommendations?
I’m currently reading “The Rose that Blooms in the Night” by Allie Michelle and “My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry” by Fredrik Backman. I just finished the series “Selena + Chef” on HBO Max, which was a fun watch. 
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