On June 23rd, 2021, Xledger held an in-person event gathering CPAs and HR professionals from across the Pikes Peak region. Both CPAs and HR experts gained formal credit from their associations, and a range of speakers addressed urgent issues in these post-pandemic times. Members networked, split into break-off sessions and gathered for a panel discussion on various aspects of the pandemic and the world after.
Speakers included Cecilia Harry, Chief Economic Development Officer of Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce; Wayne Moore, VP of Finance and Operations at Oureach Inc., Ryan Ellinghausen, CPA and Tax Manager at Mossadams, and George Russo, Regional Director at the Employers Council.
Here are five lessons that stood out from this event.
The world is ready to reopen
We saw full attendance for our first event since a year and a half of coronavirus. Despite the fact that most attendees still work remote or hybrid, our conference room crowded with CPAs and HR professionals for lunch, credit courses, and the panel after. Even amid questions of vaccination and reopening policies, the status seemed unanimous: the world is ready to work again.
The pandemic: hiring, reopening, and the path forward
Speaking as a business owner emerging from the pandemic, Wayne Moore reported that 80% of his employees now prefer to work from home. He and his company have reduced footprint and drastically increased property rentals as a source of business income. Yet even amid a boost during Covid, he mentioned the difficulty of getting help right now. “Nobody’s hiring,” he said bluntly.
“We hear that from all our businesses right now,” said Cecilia Harry, Chief Economic Development Officer for the CS Chamber of Commerce. As she explains it, she sees the years ahead as full of widespread business activity without an “office-based business environment” in the Pikes Peak Region.
George Russo agrees with the new world of work. “Employers choose what works best for them,” he said. Workers expect to speak into this new normal, and, especially in Gen-Z and sizable cohorts of older generations, this means either work-from-home or a rising hybrid platform.
The CPA Course: Making pandemic relief work longer
Ryan Ellinghausen addressed Employee Retention Tax Credit. Although begun as a tax credit for the coronavirus era, the move won the approval of President Joe Biden, who did more than extending it to 2021. He upped its provisions from a max credit of $5,000 to fully $28,000 per eligible employee. While some businesses could receive the credit if their industry shuttered through a government order, Ellinghausen mentioned that many find it preferable to follow the other option: proving that their business lost half of its gross receipts relative to 2019.
The HR Course: Re-opening with and without the vaccine
George Russo explored the variables of an employer’s response to the post-pandemic workforce. In the section attended, he framed the legal responses for employers to approach their vaccination policies. Although employers could adopt four ‘stages’ of vaccination protocols (no regard, inform, encourage or incentivize, and mandate), the vast majority of Colorado employers reported an intention to encourage or incentivize. Employers who want to mandate it should ensure that they account for ADA and religious exemptions before beginning their program.
A new future: hiring from anywhere
During the panel, Wayne, Ryan, and George agreed that they will hire candidates from anywhere without requiring them to move. Wayne described Outreach Inc. as actively searching for clients “everywhere” in the United States. George and Ryan noted that not every state will work; for various reasons, they strike off certain states, whether for a lack of partners or a lack of economic opportunities. Cecilia noted the struggle that some regulation in Colorado poses for a newly opened America. Job posting legislation [like The Colorado Equal Pay for Equal Work Act] has exposed Colorado to a growing number of companies that will not hire here.
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