Weekly Digest – December 22 2021
Even if you’re fully vaccinated and have your COVID-19 boosters up to date, there is a possibility you’ll still get a breakthrough case of COVID-19. Vox has a list of things you can do now to prepare. First, get a booster and a flu shot. Next, figure out how you can most easily get tested, including possibly purchasing an at-home test kit. Keep wearing your mask, and consider upgrading to a more protective one. Have a plan for isolation if you do test positive.
If you do test positive, this article from the Wall Street Journal explains the next steps. First, plan on quarantining for the next 10 days. Inform your close contacts. Contact your doctor if you have a persistent high fever, difficulty breathing or chest pain, or an inability to drink or eat.
BUILD BACK BETTER BILL
Monthly Child Tax Credit Payments
A surprise announcement by Senator Joe Manchin that he would not support the Build Back Better Bill in its current form means the infrastructure and social safety net legislation will not pass until 2022. This makes it unlikely that advance child tax credit payments will continue without a break into the new year.
As a reminder, the IRS will be sending out letters in January with the total amount of advance child tax credit payments received. The information on this letter will be needed to file your 2021 tax return, where you’ll reconcile the total amount of payments received in 2021 with the amount you can claim on your tax return. For more information on the expanded child tax credits see the IRS FAQs.
Taxpayers impacted by the tornadoes that struck parts of Kentucky counties will have until May 16, 2022 to file various individual and business tax returns and make tax payments. The IRS announced that the following are now due May 16, 2022:
- Individual and business tax returns due between December 10, 2021 and May 16, 2022
- Individual and business estimated tax payments due January 18 and April 18
- Quarterly payroll and excise tax returns normally due January 31 and May 2
For more information, check the IRS Disaster Relief page.
With 2022 is just around the corner, CNN has this list of 9 smart year-end money moves to take care of before 2021 ends. For example, you can deduct up to $300 ($600 for joint filers) in cash charitable donations made in 2021 even if you don’t itemize. Reduce capital gains tax by selling investments that have lost value to offset capital gains on appreciated stocks sold during 2021. If you’re taking distributions from your IRAs, make sure to take any outstanding required minimum distributions for 2021. Flexible Spending Account money must be spent by December 31, unless your employer has allowed for flexibility in carrying over unused amounts.
THE GREAT REASSESSMENT
Instead of an exit interview to find out what went wrong, a better tactic to keep employees from leaving during the Great Resignation is conducting regular stay interviews. These are one-on-one conversations that help pinpoint issues that may cause employees to leave. Stay interviews don’t focus on employee performance, but on intangibles such as morale and company culture. Direct questions, such as “If you were to leave in six months, what would make you leave?” can introduce transparency. Take notes on the issues team members bring up rather than keeping it all in your head, and be sure to take action on what needs improvement.
Just because a valued team member quit a year or two ago does not mean they will never come back. An increasing number of workers are returning as “boomerang employees” to their old employers, and sometimes, to their old bosses. For employees, this can be an opportunity to get a promotion and a higher salary. For employers, the return of a proven employee eases the onboarding process, and brings back previously lost proprietary knowledge and skills.
With attention focused on the number of employees leaving their jobs, few have noticed that firings and layoffs have ground to a halt, dropping nearly 30% from the average. With job openings outnumbering job seekers, many employers are hanging on to people that otherwise would have been let go. Hiring a replacement can be difficult and expensive, so employers are putting in place “performance improvement plans” for problematic team members. In contrast to the past, when a performance improvement plan was often a preliminary step to dismissal, today these plans aim to help employers do more with fewer employees.
REMOTE AND HYBRID WORK OPTIONS
What will work look like in 2022? Here are some predictions from industry leaders, as told to Wired. Hybrid working will be the norm, but it will take work. People will begin to value self-care over career at all costs. Companies will take measures to address proximity bias, where input from in-office team members is prioritized over that from remote workers. Virtual meetings will become shorter and better. Companies will need to improve benefits to retain people.
Companies that have repeatedly delayed their return to the office date are now pushing that date off indefinitely, thanks to the Omicron variant. Instead of firm dates in January or February, companies are telling their employees that they will reassess as time passes. An advantage of an indefinite date is that employees can focus on their work rather than worrying about how to prepare for a return to the office. On the other hand, a firm date gives employees a bit of stability after months of uncertainty.
Growing a company doesn’t always mean adhering to the adage that “the customer is always right.” Sometimes growth comes from sending difficult customers to the competition. Difficult customers can suck up several hours per week, time that may be better spent on productive activities, as the founders of Replify found. Another strategy the founders used was perusing online reviews of their competitors’ software, and proactively solving customer pain points in their own product.
Should all great employees be promoted to manager? For many, this is an obvious career path, but for others, being steamrolled into management can be a disaster. Few companies provide leadership training as part of a promotion, and not everyone wants to move into management. New managers who don’t receive support or training may be set up to fail and may leave the organization completely. Instead, companies may want to consider alternative career pathways that focus on an employee’s particular strengths and allow team members to continue doing what they love, while also receiving the executive-level pay and recognition they deserve.
Increasing prices and staffing shortages are forcing many restaurants to reduce their menu offerings. According to a recent survey, 60% of restaurants reported reducing their menu size. Some are using less costly ingredients, while others are preparing some components ahead of time. A few places are emphasizing upscale items at premium prices.
Despite signs that supply chain problems are beginning to ease, the latest surge in COVID-19 infection rates, inflationary pressures and labor shortages are slowing economic recovery in the U.S. and Europe. The surge of the Omicron variant in the U.K. may offer some clues for the U.S., as it is still too early to determine how widely the variant will spread and how sick people become.
The holiday season is a key period for the U.S. economy, and while supply chain issues are easing, businesses are struggling to fill orders. Some are missing key components such as glass jars for sauces, while others are taking creative steps such as circumventing the usual transportation by renting U-Haul trucks to move products to alternative shippers or building smartphone apps to replace manual timers.
- IRS resources for stimulus payments:
- IRS information about the Advance Child Tax Credit Payments
- The best source for up-to-date and accurate health information is the Center for Disease Control (CDC)
- Entrepreneur put together a listing of free tech resources for remote work
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has warnings about COVID-related scams
- Fast Company has a listing of the best productivity apps for 2020
- PC Magazine explains how to carry your vaccination card on your phone
- How to create a strong password
We sincerely hope that you and your family are well and remain well. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are all in this together!