Weekly Digest – December 8 2021

What happens to the people who don’t quit during the “Great Resignation?” Those left behind are picking up additional responsibilities and putting in extra hours. Over time, managers begin to see the extra hours and work that everyone puts in as the norm, but this can also lead to burnout and the loss of knowledge from the workplace as people with specific skill sets are not replaced. While some people thrive on stretch assignments beyond their experience and skill levels, many end up overstressed and lacking confidence in their ability to do a good job.

THE AMERICAN RECOVERY PLAN ACT (ARPA)

Monthly Child Tax Credit Payments

As a reminder, the deadline to opt out of the December advance Child Tax Credit payment was midnight on Monday, November 29. According to Question H1 in the IRS FAQs, in January, the IRS will send out Letter 6419 with the total amount of advance 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.

TAX MATTERS

Even if you don’t itemize your deductions, joint filers can deduct up to $600 of charitable contributions made by December 31, 2021. A special provision of the CARES Act allows non-itemizers to deduct charitable deductions made through the end of this year. Single filers can deduct up to $300, joint filers up to $600. Contributions must be made by cash, check, credit or debit card, and also include any out-of-pocket expenses incurred by volunteers in the scope of their services to charitable organizations.

If you’re over 70, make sure you take any required minimum distributions from retirement accounts by the end of the year. If you were already taking distributions before the pandemic, you might have chosen to waive those during 2020. But those RMDs are again required for 2021. If you turned 70 ½ during 2020, you can wait until you turn 72 to begin taking them, thanks to a law change.

FRAUD

A perfect storm of toy shortages, pent-up demand, and the busy holiday shopping season provide ample opportunities for thieves to take advantage of consumers. During last year’s holiday shopping season, the FBI received over 17,000 reports with losses totaling more than $53 million. This year is expected to be worse. Staying safe requires vigilance. Make sure any website you visit starts with “https” not “http.” The extra s adds an extra layer of security. Beware of offers that seem too good to be true – chances are they are scams. Pay using trusted methods such as credit or debit cards or PayPal, not Bitcoin or Western Union. The latter two methods have fewer fraud protections. Never make purchases over a public wifi connection. Beware of sellers using one name, but requesting that payment be sent to a different name or company, or to a different country.

THE GREAT REASSESSMENT

With more job openings than applicants, many companies are seeing a rash of candidates ghosting them. Some don’t show up for interviews, and some don’t show up for their first day of work. Speed in the hiring process can help minimize the likelihood of ghosting. Other companies send new hires a “Wow” box containing swag and all the supplies they will need to do their job as a way to foster connection with their new company.

The “Great Resignation” hasn’t been evenly spread. States in the West, and those with a high percentage of jobs in arts, entertainment, and recreation have been seeing the highest levels of quits during 2021. Hawaii and Montana have seen increases of 116% and 44%, respectively in quits in September compared to the previous month. In some states, high levels of job openings correlate to high quits rates as workers seek higher compensation through lateral moves.

REMOTE WORK OPTIONS

About half of all workers prefer working remotely all the time, but a challenge for anyone who works from home is staying focused among the many distractions. Scheduling your most important work around the times of day when you feel most productive, whether that be early morning or late at night, rather than forcing an 8-5 schedule or frittering away the best part of the day answering emails. Establishing boundaries for the times when you prefer not to be interrupted by others at home as well as times when you’re not at work can help prevent work and life from bleeding into each other.

LEADERSHIP

Seeing to influence people for the sake of influencing them generally doesn’t work too well, according to this article in Entrepreneur, which advocates for a more compassionate approach to leadership. Rather than trying to convince or cajole people into action, active listening and acting on that listening helps employees connect with leaders. Build trust by getting to know team members and asking them for input on what they think works, and what does not. Simple acts of appreciation helps encourage people to continue to do their best work.

ECONOMY

Two separate jobs reports for November contain seemingly contradictory results: a survey of businesses shows a relatively low seasonally adjusted increase of 210,000 jobs for November, while a separate survey of households showed an increase of 1.1 million more people employed in November than October. Some of the difference may come from the seasonal adjustments performed by the Labor Department to reduce volatility in the labor force: the unadjusted numbers showed an increase of 778,000 more jobs in November. Anecdotal evidence from employers seems to indicate that people are more willing to return to work.

Meanwhile, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen cited uncertainty about the newly emerged omicron variant of COVID-19 as a possible brake on economic growth in the near term. The new strain could exacerbate ongoing supply chain problems and boost inflation, or it could also depress demand and ease inflation.

GENERAL RESOURCES

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!

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