The Bullseye - January 2012

Sunday, January 1, 2012

In This Issue:
Orion Alumni Attend Hiring Our Heroes Conference,
Alumni Update,
New Tax Credits for Hiring Veterans,
New Trend: No More Performance Reviews,
Congratulations to This Month's Winner,
Most Overlooked Tax Deductions,
Connect with Orion

Orion Alumni Attend Hiring Our Heroes Conference

Orion alumni with Siemens once again traveled to Washington, DC, in conjunction with The Siemens Initiative to Support Military Families. This time, Alan Lateer, Jeff Bell, Christopher Pieczonka, and Jody Compton attended the 4th Annual Business Steps Up, Hiring Our Heroes Conference at the U.S. Chamber of Congress in Washington, DC, on November 10. Previously, James Lamz and Nicholas Espe visited the White House in conjunction with Joining Forces.

The 4th Annual Business Steps Up, Hiring Our Heroes Conference focused on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s goal of lowering unemployment among veterans and their spouses by partnering with Veteran Service Organizations, government agencies, and the business community to hold job fairs across the U.S. This year, the Conference recognized specific businesses that have gone above and beyond to honor military families. Finalists for the 1st Annual Lee Anderson Hiring Our Heroes Awards included PepsiCo, The Home Depot, Bank of America, Dollar General, and Siemens, among many others.

Jody Compton was one of the four Orion alumni to participate in this Conference. Compton was an Automated Logistical Specialist in the Army who is now a Materials Handler Specialist with Siemens. Her civilian position corresponds directly with her military experience, and illustrates how well veterans transition into these types of positions. “Not only do companies get a qualified employee, but they get the dedication, discipline, commitment out of the Veteran, which a company may not find in other employees,” explains Compton.

She goes on to say that attending the Hiring Our Heroes Conference was something she never thought she’d have the honor of doing, much less sitting on stage with the First Lady. “I'm proud of the years I served protecting freedom for others, and now I'm proud to be part of a company that supports veterans and leads the way for other companies,” states Compton.

Christopher Pieczonka, a United States Naval Academy graduate and former Surface Warfare Officer, also attended the Conference. He is currently a part of the Sales and Marketing Development Program (SMDP) at Siemens Energy. Pieczonka attended the morning lectures, as well as the awards dinner at the US Chamber of Commerce. “Attending the US Chamber of Commerce event was a tremendous experience that highlighted some of the incredible things the Federal Government, Chamber of Commerce, and various companies are doing to utilize the talents of military service veterans,” says Pieczonka.

The Hiring our Heroes program is another of the many initiatives that have been put in place to help veterans find employment when they transition out of the military. We salute the Lee Anderson Hiring Our Heroes Awards recipients for their dedication to hiring veterans and are proud that our alumni were chosen to represent the success veterans experience in the civilian workplace.

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New Tax Credits for Hiring Veterans

Employers were given yet another incentive to hire veterans on November 21, 2011, when President Obama signed into law two new tax credits, the Returning Heroes and Wounded Warrior Tax Credit. The Returning Heroes Tax Credit provides incentives of up to $5,600 for hiring unemployed veterans, and the Wounded Warriors Tax Credit doubles the existing Work tax credit for long-term unemployed veterans with service-connected disabilities to up to $9,600.

Eligible veterans under the Returning Heroes Tax Credit include those that are short-term unemployed for which employers will get a credit of 40% of the first $6,000 of wages (up to $2,400) for veterans who have been unemployed at least 4 weeks and those that are long-term unemployed for which employers will get a credit of 40% of the first $14,000 of wages (up to $5,600) for veterans who have been unemployed longer than 6 months.

The Wounded Warrior Tax Credit maintains the existing Work Opportunity Tax Credit for veterans with service-connected disabilities not more than one year after being discharged from the military, which is up to 40% of the first $12,000 of wages (up to $4,800), and adds a new credit of 40% of the first $24,000 of wages (up to $9,600) for employers that hire veterans with service-connected disabilities veterans with service-connected disabilities who have been unemployed longer than 6 months.

"When employers hire Veterans, they add exceptional employees with character, courage, creativity, team-building skills, and discipline that will help their businesses grow and succeed. More than ever, America needs Veterans’ proven skills, knowledge, and work ethic to fire up our economic engine and to invest in our future,” stated Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki in a press release. Tax credits like these spotlight the talented workforce available in our nation's veterans.

New Trend: No More Performance Reviews

A new trend is showing up in the workplace and it has employees and employers alike questioning if they like the new idea or not. Many companies, large and small, are electing to forego the annual performance appraisals of employees. Traditionally employees are given an annual review with their supervisor to determine how they are doing. The reviews usually cover goals and objectives, performance, and salary. In general, employees tend to dread their annual review, and supervisors view them as a lot of extra unnecessary work.

In the context of performance management, the overall purpose is to achieve the company’s vision and mission by creating a work environment in which employees can perform at their best by defining a clear role and responsibility with clear goals and objectives. Thus, the traditional employee review or appraisal provides a format for doing so. However, the new thought is that the traditional annual performance review is flawed and doesn’t actually work to achieve a company’s vision and mission. Rather, it works to create a negative working environment with stressed out supervisors and defensive employees.

What to do? The new idea is that supervisors should be engaging in continual performance feedback and review of goals and objectives. It should not be an overwhelming process for the supervisor or employee. At no time during a person’s career should they be wondering if they are doing a good job or meeting their established goals and objectives. There should be an open dialogue between the supervisor and employee, and a good manager will ensure that an employee always knows where they stand.

A clear job description that is shared with the employee is a place to start in terms of sharing clearly defined goals and objectives. Providing a proper introduction to the company and orientation process can also aid in the success of the performance management process. At least quarterly, there should be an open discussion about an employee’s strengths and weaknesses, but not a formal review. Finally, supervisors should be sure to document any performance issues, even if no formal review process is in place.

Congratulations to This Month's Winner



Tom Stocker won the Job Seeker Referral monthly drawing and is the winner of a $50 gift card.  
Ready for your chance to win a $50 gift card? You’ll receive an entry into our monthly drawings for Client and Job Seeker referrals for each referral that you submit – good luck and thank you for the referral!

Most Overlooked Tax Deductions

Tax season is right around the corner, and many taxpayers are scrambling to find receipts and other miscellaneous items necessary to report tax deductions they incurred during the year. The U.S. government shells out over one trillion dollars in tax deductions. Surprisingly, many tax deductions are overlooked by U.S. taxpayers every year. Here are some of the most overlooked deductions:

1. State Sales Tax - The state sales tax deduction has been extended through 2011. This deduction is available to all, but really makes sense for those who live in states without income tax. For taxpayers who live in income tax states, the income tax is a heavier burden than the sales tax and therefore the income tax deduction is a better deal. Keep in mind that taxpayers must choose between deducting state and local taxes or state and local sales taxes.

2. Charitable Deductions – Fifteen dollars for that PTO fundraiser? Yes, that is definitely a deduction. Every charitable contribution including bake sale ingredients and travel for charity count. Just be sure to keep all receipts and remember if the amount is over $250, an acknowledgement from the charity will be required.

3. Student Loan Interest – If Mom or Dad pays back a student loan for their child, the IRS treats it as though the money was given to the child who then paid the debt. A child who is not claimed as a dependent can deduct up to $2500 of student loan interest paid by Mom and Dad.

4. Moving Expenses For a First Job – While job-hunting expenses acquired during a person’s first job search cannot be deducted, the moving expenses incurred to get the first job are. If a person moves more than 50 miles, they can deduct 19 cents per mile of the cost of moving themselves and their household goods to their new home. 

5. Job-Hunting Costs – If a person is searching for a job in their same field of work, job-hunting costs can be deducted as miscellaneous expenses if itemized. Remember total miscellaneous expenses can’t exceed 2% of adjusted gross income.

6. Child Care – This is actually a credit. A person can qualify up to $6000 for the childcare credit, however only $5000 can apply to employer reimbursement accounts.

7. Earned Income Tax Credit – This is another credit that many people miss out on. It is a refundable tax credit up to $5751 depending on income, family size, and marital status that is designed to supplement wages for low-to-moderate income workers.

Connect with Orion



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 Read Orion's Blog

Hire a Hero, Hire a Vet covers everything from veterans in the news to general employer-employee relations. Check it out!