Ep.14: Unlocking the Power of Pay: How Transparent Compensation Builds Employee Loyalty and Satisfaction
Ep.14: Unlocking the Power of Pay: How Transparent Compensation Builds Employee Loyalty and Satisfaction
Malka Trump, Director of Compliance at Viventium, breaks down why pay is such an important topic in post-acute care, how businesses can stay accurate and compliant, and why it's crucial to stay on top of legislative updates.
And you’re listening to Vision, the podcast for leaders and forward thinkers in the care industry. Today we’re gonna discuss everything you need to know to stay on top of all things payroll, and to help us do a deep dive into this issue. We’re joined by Malka Trump.
Malka is the Director of Compliance at Viventium. She’s also a CPA and a certified payroll professional and has more than 13 years of experience in the payroll industry with a focus on payroll taxation. Malka is the director of compliance at Viventium. She is also a C P A and a certified payroll professional, and has more than 13 years of experience in the payroll industry with a focus on payroll taxation. Malka is an active member of the American Payroll Association’s government Affairs tax force, the creator of event’s, pay matters, and a regular presenter on payroll tax and compliance topics. Thank you so much, Malka, for joining us today.
Thank you. You know, Mako, we spend a lot of time talking about how much employees are paid in post-acute care. It’s a, you know, huge topic for everybody, but we don’t spend as much time discussing the intricacies and the importance of how staff members get paid. So why is pay such an important topic to discuss?
Yeah, so I’m really happy you brought this up because pay gets me really excited. It seems like something so basic, right? You work so you get paid, but really it is so much more than that. Pay is so personal. It’s about trust, it’s about confidence, it’s about job satisfaction, and there are real ways that agencies can tap into their paid practices to build that employee loyalty and satisfaction, and thereby increase their employee retention. So creating that culture of pay transparency where your employees really, they understand their pay and they’re confident that they’re getting what they’ve worked so hard for, and there’s open channels of communication for them so they can talk to their employer about their pay, get their questions answered. This pay transparency, it’s, it’s so essential. It’s often overlooked, but it’s really the foundation for the trust that agencies really have to build with their staff, especially during these times where the turnover is so high.
Yeah, sure. So we’re gonna, you know, definitely I wanna highlight pay stubs because you’re really so important, but you know, you’re gonna have basic information on there, but maybe an employee doesn’t really, you know, in their work week, maybe they don’t remember or recall exactly what they worked on every day and who they saw that day, you know, so having a stub, I can really break down the details and get information of, you know, where they were on Monday, where they were on Tuesday, how many hours they worked each day. So you can get back down into those, those nitty gritty. So there’s no misunderstanding or I, I don’t remember, or I didn’t really work that, you know, amount. It’s the, the, the employees are really going to, to see that they’re getting what they they worked for.
Absolutely. Building off of that, obviously you’ve mentioned pay transparency is a priority, but in addition, what are some other really important priorities and the most common stumbling blocks for businesses to be aware of when it comes to pay?
So when it comes to pay transparency, which is so essential to that employee trust and loyalty, the first step is going to be pay accuracy, which is ensuring that their employees pay is accurate. Each and every payroll seems kind of basic, but really it’s not a simple thing to achieve, especially in the post-acute industry with the myriad of regulations out there, there’s regulations on the federal, state and local levels and they’re always changing, right? So there’s so much to say on top of if you wanna make sure that you’re paying your employees accurately every time, just to mention a few compliance areas that affect the post-acute care industry. Of course on the federal side we have our various F L S A overtime provisions related to that. Often caregivers are paid at different rates for different jobs, so that means that agencies have to calculate and pay overtime at what’s called a blended rate, which can change every pay period.
We also see in the industry something called retroactive pay quite a lot, and that’s difficult to get right. That is when a caregiver reports hours for work that was performed for a prior pay period that was always processed, it’s closed out, it’s done, and now they come and say, oh, I forgot to report these hours. So that paycheck has to be adjusted retroactively taking to it into account what was paid during that pay period. And then we have the states always keeping things exciting. Many states have passed seventh day and daily overtime laws, local taxation and states gets very complex in, in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Kentucky. There are thousands of local tax jurisdictions in those states alone. New York, we have additional items like wage parody spread of our requirements. So really getting all of this and more accurate each paycheck is a big task, but it’s also a crucial one because if you think about it, when a caregiver, like if one of us, of course you catch an incorrect paycheck, it’s, it’s really hard to rebuild that trust with that employee. There’s really no room for error. The stakes are high, and I’m not getting into even the aspects of audits and penalties, which are happening all the time. Just coming from that caregiver satisfaction and trust perspective, agency agencies, they really need to ensure they have systems and structures in place to pay their caregivers correctly now with what’s currently out there and in the future as we’re going to, without it out, continue to see changes to regulations.
Couple things going on there, but I know that’s something we’ve discussed here before, is how many employees in the post-acute care industry are living paycheck to paycheck? Any, any mistake in pay, it’s not, it’s not just an administrative error or issue for them, it can really affect their, have a really immediate impact on mm-hmm. <Affirmative> definitely on
That’s a great point. And and also, you know, caregivers, we know they have the ability to find another job in literally minutes, right? So if you disappoint them once with a, an incorrect paycheck, you’re right, the stakes have probably never been higher for an employer. Right? But let’s say that a business’s payroll is, it’s a hundred percent accurate, a hundred percent compliant with all the regulations, can they just rest easy?
Well, if they’ve got everything a hundred percent accurate, that’s good. You know, you’re doing well, but you’re not all the way there yet. Because technically you can pay paying everything accurately and correctly, but if your employees don’t understand why they’re getting paid what they’re getting paid, they’re not gonna be happy and they’re not sticking around. So this is what Amanda, I had touched on earlier, is that in order to make your employees happy to, to build that trust, they need to understand their pay. And one of the main ways to do that is with a pay stub that is of course accurate, but also easy to understand. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> a pay stub, you know, it’s something we take for granted, but really it can be such a powerful tool for pay transparency. It’s gonna just be a way to just give your employees just all the information that they need to have confidence. Of course, different states require different information to be disclosed on the pay stub, and that’s gonna vary by state and also it’s gonna vary by industry. But beyond that, if it can break down those complex details that I had mentioned before, give the employee all the details of their work week so that they can be really confident that in that net pay that’s going into their bank account.
Well, I would think Martha, that an accurate pay stub or in a thorough pay stub, like that would also save time for office staff administrators to not get a lot of questions from their employees. Right. On which hours do these represent or when did I, you know, if it’s all there and black and white on the pay stub, then, then it kind of cuts out all of those questions that might come up after a pay period. Right?
Yeah, definitely. It’s definitely gonna save on the, you know, payroll admin side. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, and you know, it’s, it also could be a way to, you know, have communication from the payroll department. You know, you can have stub messages, you know, about things that are maybe different or upcoming changes or things like having that communication and also like a process for employees to get answers is also essential. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative> mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. But yeah, a stub that just has all the details is just gonna cut down on the questions and employees are gonna, you know, take that stub home every week and be like, oh yeah, this, this makes sense. And I’m, I’m getting what I just, you know, worked really hard for this past week.
So I think one of the main things that will really be a game changer for agencies is having the right technology. So if we’re looking at pay accuracy, that would include something like a software that’s gonna automate all those complex pay calculations that I had touched on earlier mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And a second thing could be a feature, like a geolocation tax feature, which is a really big one, which what it does is ensures the employees taxes are set up correctly right from the get-go. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>, because you can often have employees working in different states or working in different locations, so they might be living in one state or working in another state. So having that software that’s gonna automate that tax set up and the calculation’s gonna be really critical. No one wants a surprise at the end of the year that they didn’t have the right taxes taken out, or they should have had it in a certain city or a certain state and they didn’t, so now they owe so mm-hmm. <Affirmative> that’s important. And lastly, having a software that has rule-based and date effective settings is really gonna ensure that whatever rules you put in the system are gonna kick in at the correct times. This can be minimum wage requirements, it could be something as simple as when a staff member is due for a raise cuz of tenure, you know, that should be automated, not manual. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> manual means just opens it up for more errors, which no one wants.
The pay transparency side, a feature like self-service can really be a game changer in the industry, especially in home-based care where the staff’s always out, they’re always in the field, they’re moving around. So having that mobile app that really puts that pay transparency into their hands, it allows them to access their pay information, update documents from anywhere so they don’t have to make that trip to the office.
Absolutely. Especially with, for businesses with a wide service area, I can imagine that’s a huge, huge barrier. Yeah. Welcome To follow up on that, what would you say to businesses that are doing their payroll manually? Because they either aren’t sure which software to use or they think that they couldn’t afford it.
So I mean, manual payroll, sometimes it’s manageable, definitely for maybe a smaller operation, but you know, again, it’s prone to errors and once you get into, you know, outsourcing and going to a third party that really specializes in this and you can even find, you know, a third party that’s going to specialize in your industry, whether it’s, you know, home care or skilled nursing or whatever it is, the, the features on that software are really just going to be what you need. It’s gonna save you time, it’s gonna make the process more efficient. It’s going to, you know, reduce errors. It’s, yeah, it costs money, but, you know, give and take, you know, weigh the pros and cons and you know, it might be something less worth exploring.
I mean, we talked before about how payroll is fairly high stakes because it can contribute to turnover and we’ve, we’ve spoken before on the podcast for the average like private duty home caregiver, the cost of turnover is about $2,700 per employee. So you add in the cost of turnover, the cost of, you know, any, any penalties for inaccurate pay. My guess is the price would <laugh> out fairly quickly.
Yeah, definitely. Yeah, you gotta train all those people again, you gotta get them through the whole onboarding process. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, you, you would like them to stick around as much as possible. <Laugh>.
Yes. Well we talked about it’s certainly never boring in the, the world of payroll and I know that one of the biggest challenges is keeping on top of all the legislative updates that affect post-acute care. So what’s the latest out there that business owners should be aware of in the world of payroll?
So yeah, again, as we said, things are always moving. You know that saying the only constant in life is change. Well, it’s very true for the payroll world. So what’s changing, what’s the latest? There are a few key state trends that really every employer should be aware of and familiar with and, you know, know what’s on the horizon for whatever state they operate in. The first is the trend where states are implementing mandatory state retirement plans. So it’s no secret that Americans aren’t saving enough for retirement. So states are deciding we’re gonna do something about that. So many states are requiring employers now to offer a retirement plan to their employees. Either they can establish their own, let’s say through a 401k, or if they chose not to go that route, they would be required to automatically, automatically enroll their employees in these newly created state sponsored retirement plans.
Now, 10 states have already passed this legislation and some are already active, others are in various stages of implementation and will be active soon. And this can potentially have a huge impact on employees. And Deloitte Global did a study in 2021 that estimated that the, what they call the retirement gap, that difference between what retirees will need and what they have saved, they estimate that at 3.68 trillion. So it’s a big issue. But research has also shown that employees are more likely to save if they have access to a retirement plan at work. So that’s the direction that these states are heading in and they’re really just trying to help employees and their states save for the future because, you know, if they haven’t saved for the future, the state’s gonna run into issues down the line as well. That’s
So that’s number one. Definitely something to keep on the radar. A second trend is the paid family and medical leave or what we call PF m l. Just to have a little acronym for that for short, what pf m l is it’s paid time away from work or events or circumstances where there’s gonna be like a longer absence, you know, lot the regular, you know, few days out per sick reasons would be commonly they vary by state, but the, you know, generally the reasons include having a child birth or adoption of a child or to care for one’s own serious health condition or the health condition of a family member. So the states are stepping in here because on the federal side the protections are very limited. The, there’s been a lot of talk about paid leave on the federal side, but nothing has yet happened with that. The F M L A Family and Medical Leave Act does provide 12 weeks of job protected unpaid leave. So you can still have your job but you’re not gonna get paid. So many Americans just simply can’t afford to take the leave that they need. So 13 states now and Washington we see have already passed this legislation. Many of them are active, some of them two just went into effect at the beginning of this year in Colorado and Oregon. So we’ll likely see more states jumping on this bandwagon as well.
That’s a big one. And the last trend I wanted to mention is earn sick leave, which is not to be confused with the paid family leave, earn sick leave is that short-term leave. So if you have five days, 10 days off a year from work to use for regular health needs, doctor’s appointments, checkups, few days off of work if you’re under the weather. So many states are now passing requirements for employers to accrue paid sick leave for their employees as they work. And then once they accrue it, they can take the leave as they need. Again, on the federal side, there is no federally mandated paid sick leave law. So many workers have to choose like between their jobs and their health. Like I really don’t feel good today but you know, I can’t afford to take a day off though. I’m gonna either I’m gonna work, I’m gonna go into work, which could make other people sick as well.
So just giving like the workers this breathing room to, to really take care of themselves and their families should they need to. There’s right now 17 states and Washington DC with these paid sick leave laws. Illinois was just the most recent one to pass this and some of which they actually even allow employees to take the leave for any reason at all, not just for health and medical needs. It’s kind of like this, you know, open, you know, you get these days, do what you want with them mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and there are even some cities who have passed these laws as well because maybe either the state doesn’t have a law or the city decided it didn’t provide sufficient benefits to the workers. So we’ll definitely continue to see this as a trend as we move through 2023 and beyond.
Thank you. That were really interesting legislative update and I’m sure our, our listeners are, are taking notes, but Maka, do you know, is there any data from the states that have instituted these new laws or is it too early on whether they have a positive effect on recruitment and retention? Especially in healthcare?
Yeah, and I, you know, it may be too early to know. Okay. But hopefully there will be that kind of data as time passes so that, you know, it can show the, the benefit to businesses of Yeah. I mean they’re not gonna have a choice, right. They have to meet the law,
I’m sure there actually is data out there, you know, on the state level. I’m sure many of them, you know, who actually have had this around for years, some of them have had this around four I I think Connecticut might have went been one of the earliest and it’s, it’s been a, been a long time and I’m sure that there’s been research in and analytics done on, you know, when it’s been taken and the effects of it, the workforce. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>, I just haven’t, you know, looked into that, but it’s definitely would be a fascinating thing to look at.
While a lot of states are mandating some of the legislative updates that you’ve brought up, do you think we’re likely to see other states follow with mandating or if, if business owners are in a state that doesn’t have, you know, retirement plans or paid family and sick leave mandated, would you suggest that they still pay attention, I guess, to what’s happening and and prepare for something like that to go into effect in their own state?
Yeah, it seems to be that this is kind of in style now. You know, definitely, you know, in states that maybe like historically have been, you know, a little bit more, you know, sensitive to the employee side of things, there are some states that, you know, they’re just not gonna go there and they don’t really have many employee protection laws on the state level in general. They just kind of go along with what the federal side. But it is a trend and it’s definitely something that’s, that employers should be aware of. Even if you don’t have it now, it could be coming down the pipeline or you might start to operate in one of the states that do have it. So if you do move into another state, definitely check out what’s going on in there in terms of when it’s likely that they’re gonna have, you know, something either on the family leave, sick leave, or even in the retirement plan side, either now or coming up in the next few months to, to a year or two.
So the <affirmative> paid family leave has been brought up many times on the federal level. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> but it’s never quite made it through Congress to actually mm-hmm. <Affirmative> become, you know, a law. Yeah. And you know what I mean, I guess it’s, you know, it depends on your political leaning if you think it’s a good idea or not, but mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, you know, it’s, I kind of k kind of see it kind of hard to see actually happening on the federal level with today’s climate. So, you know, the states are just taking it into their own hands, which maybe is the way to go. Potentially the retirement plans and the sick leave, you know, hasn’t been talked about as much mm-hmm. <Affirmative> on the federal level mm-hmm. <Affirmative> directly about requiring that. Yeah. But, but the paid, paid family leave will see, you know, there’s always that thing everyone’s saying, you know, that United States is like one of the only first world countries that doesn’t offer this, you know, it’s like we’re, we’re so ahead and everything else and we’re backward in this. That’s kind of like a mantra out there, but we’ll see, who knows, it could happen and we’ll have to, we’ll have to see <laugh> <laugh>,
What can businesses do now to prepare themselves for that kind of legislation. And do you have any advice for businesses who are concerned about being able to afford things like paid sick leave, paid family leave and retirement plans?
So on the retirement plan side and the, so the retirement plan side, generally what we’ve seen with the states who have implemented this, that it doesn’t cost anything to the employer. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>, the employees are automatically enrolled. Of course employees can opt out or change how much they wanna contribute mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, but really besides like administrating that withholding from their paycheck and sending the funds to the state or whoever is running the plans, there’s really no cost to the employers. So it’s kind of like, just like a win-win, like they can mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, you know, save more and it doesn’t cost the employers, you know, anything but maybe a little bit on the administrative side, paid family and medical leave. Different states do it differently. A lot of them, the cost is to the employee only. So again, it’s a withholding tax. Now of course the employer has to make sure they’re withholding that and depositing it and if there’s any filing, so again, it’s administrative mm-hmm.
<Affirmative> for the most. But now I, we’ve seen what the latest states they’re doing this combined contribution, so where the employee pays a portion and the employer pays a portion. So again, yeah, it is an, it is an added cost and you know, if it happens in a state, you know, it’s not like the employers have much choice, but it would be something that have to be accounted for and, and planned for somehow. SOFA is, you know, coming down the pipes in your estate. Definitely something to to plan for because usually there is some sort of split of that contribution. That’s what we’re seeing these days with the latest estate.
Yeah. Something manageable, but something that also will be able to fund the claims because they’re obviously taking these funds and using it to, to pay out the benefits. Right. So, you know, these rates are gonna get adjusted every year. But, but yeah, I mean I don’t think any state is trying to, you know, hurt the employers or just trying to find a way to be able to help workers and fund that in a way that is manageable for both employees because they’re gonna be paying a bit and also the employers together.
Yeah, so again, the world of payroll is just so exciting and it really even expands into, you know, benefits and HR and all that. It’s like all this interconnected, you know, what we talked about is, you know, everything kind of plays into each other and mm-hmm <affirmative>, it’s again, always changing. So, you know, definitely keep yourself informed, you know, attend webinars, listen to podcasts like this one, you know, make sure that you’re, you’re in the know, you know, ignorance is no excuse. So really like if you get any message from this, it’s like, you know, stay on top of what’s going on so that you know you’re ahead of it rather than catching up.
I just thought of one more question, Malka, if you don’t mind. If someone is hearing this and they think, and they’ve been doing manual payroll or they’re using a payroll service and they’re like, well it’s not doing all of that for me, what are the things that you would suggest? Sort of a checklist that someone should look at when they are trying to decide which software to, to utilize which payroll software.
Okay. So definitely in this industry, definitely we need a software that’s powerful but flexible. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So we need the software that’s gonna have like a lot of automation. There’s a lot of things going on here, a lot of compliance regulations that should be, you know, programmed in. But we should also be flexible enough that we could, you know, within the compliance, be able to work through, you know, what a specific employer or business needs in terms of how it paid its employees and how they want things displayed and how the pace stubs should look. You know, flexibility is gonna be key as well.
Yeah. And customer support is a big one. I would say. If you really want like the best thing it should be, you know, customer support that is going to be familiar, very familiar with your specific niche and what you need and what applies to you and the rules and regulations. You know, maybe your customer service is not gonna be like an expert on every law that applies to you, but they should be familiar and they should know, you know, how our system, how a system will be able to deal with that and help a client with that. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>, definitely that expertise, you know, that industry needs should be definitely some something that should be there.
Yeah. Self-service is like, you know, just that’s where everything’s going lately, right? Everything’s in your phone. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>, you know, you don’t like, it’s like, oh, I would have to pull out my comp, like get to my computer for that. You know, not interested, you know, I just wanna like do everything on my phone and see everything instantly. You know, they can go in there, they can check every history, they can see their W two, they can even send communication back and forth. They can make changes to their W four on an app like that. This is like where we are now, you know, it has to be right there instant and that’s what they get everywhere else and you know, they should have it, but they’re paid as well. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>,
Absolutely. Well that’s a great checklist that people can, can really think about as they’re reviewing either their current payroll partner or looking, you know, pet for a new one. So thank you Maka. Appreciate it.
If folks have more questions about anything we’ve talked about here today or about finding a payroll provider who takes all those boxes, Monka, where’s the best place for folks to reach you or learn more about Viv Eventium?
So you can definitely find me on LinkedIn and you can find Viv Eventium on LinkedIn as well. Viv eventium.com, definitely check that out for more resources. And we have also lots of webinars there with more details if you’re interested on these topics like the retirement plans and the paid family medical leave and a lot more topics there,
Depending on when you’re listening to the episode. We’ll I al either have a webinar coming up with Viv Eventium or one will have already passed as well. And Linda, if folks have questions for you about the podcast or or the stories they wanna share, where’s the best place for them to reach you.
And again, I’m best found on LinkedIn as Amanda Sternklar. You can find previous episodes of Vision on your favorite podcast listening platform or at care pulse.com/podcast. If you have a story you’d like to share on vision, you can also find our guest submission [email protected] slash podcast. Thank you for listening. We’ll talk to you in two weeks,