5 Tips for Building Culture in a Disconnected Workspace

Aug 30, 2022

With the labor shortages and hiring challenges facing employers nationwide, now more than ever, companies are beginning to put their “office culture” under a microscope. But what exactly does that mean, and how important is workplace culture in relation to employee retention?

We sat down with Aaron Swiggum, managing partner at William Vaughan Company to learn what innovative techniques his leadership team has initiated within the firm to create a culture that keeps talent motived and engaged: Give your team the trust and flexibility to work remote.

“At William Vaughan Company, we give our employees the option to work from home or at any of our three offices, depending on the needs of their schedule,” said Swiggum. “To support our staff working remotely, we offer a take-home technology package fully equipped with monitors, docking stations and the like to ensure their success while off-campus.”

Create space for connections within the office.
Meanwhile, for those working on-site, Swiggum has repurposed unused office space into multi-person, collaboration rooms where our team can work together, bounce ideas off each other, and grow together as professionals. Expanding opportunities for engaging connection beyond just the traditional “water cooler” chat is crucial for the ever growing, virtual workspace.

Keep an eye on corporate culture trends to stay ahead of curve.
Corporate cultures at companies like Google and Facebook typically come to mind when you think of progressive work environments and trendy perks. But you don’t have to be a tech giant to incentivize your team. William Vaughan Company noticed what those companies were doing, then polled our team to see which perks would be most beneficial to them. “We’ve increased our maternity leave, added paternity leave for new dads, and created wellness programs that encourage healthy habits during our busiest, and often most stressful, times of the year.

Reimaging what teambuilding looks like.
Modeled after the esteemed, Seattle Fish Market, William Vaughan Company launched a program known as “Fish Groups” which aims to connect 7-8 team members who may not normally work together. Each group meets off-campus periodically throughout the quarter, allowing for deeper connections to form between colleagues that may have only previously communicated via email.

Define your core values and stick to them.
Of all the core values that define William Vaughan Company, “work hard, play hard,” “family,” and “community” are the pillars upon which we’ve built our culture. “We pride ourselves on having created a work environment where our team can have fun, participate in community service activities, and at the end of the day, feel secure about putting their families first,” Aaron says.

Although “culture” has become somewhat of an overused buzzword today, William Vaughan Company knows how important building and maintaining a positive and engaging work environment can be. According to Aaron, “when your team feels valued and supported, that directly translates into the work they’re doing for the clients. And ultimately, our goal is to help our clients and their businesses succeed, so we have to start by creating a space for our internal team to be successful.”

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wvco.com

Categories: Other Resources


IT Alert: Microsoft Permanently Disabling Basic Authentication

Aug 08, 2022

What Does This Mean?

Effective October 1, 2022, Microsoft will permanently disable Basic Authentication (Basic Auth) due to security concerns and outdated technology. The planned replacement is called none other than, Modern Authentication (Modern Auth). So, what does this mean for your organization?

Basic Authentication & Security Issues

Basic Auth simply means an application sends usernames and passwords over the Internet as encoded text. These credentials are also often stored or saved on the device.

While the credentials are encoded, meaning converted to characters or symbols, this form of authentication can expose usernames and passwords. Hackers may intercept the transmission, decoding and stealing the information. Since Microsoft announced its disablement of Basic Auth in September of last year there has been a notable spike in high-level attacks by cybercriminals. According to Microsoft, “As a reminder, Basic Auth is still one of, if not the most common ways our customers get compromised, and these types of attacks are increasing. Every day [you have] Basic Auth enabled; you are at risk from attack.”

Furthermore, Basic Auth does not support multi-factor authentication (MFA) which is the best protection against cyber-attack and is now required under Presidential order 14028. To learn more about MFA, check out our previous blog here.

Modern Authentication

Modern authentication is an umbrella term for a combination of authentication and authorization methods between a client (for example, your laptop or your phone) and a server. With Modern Auth comes additional security features like MFA, smart cards, etc. Modern authentication doesn’t let apps save account credentials and is better designed for Internet-scale and management.

Next Steps

If your organization has not begun the transition to Modern Authentication, it is mission-critical that you begin doing so now.

The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is strongly encouraging organizations to make the move immediately and to enable multifactor authentication.

WVC Technologies can assist you in this transition. Our partner, DMC Technology group and their certified team of technicians can walk you and your team through the process.

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Greg Gomach

Greg Gomach
Senior Client Executive
Greg.Gomach@dmctechgroup.com

Categories: Risk Services


5 Tips to Attract and Retain Talent During the Great Resignation

Jul 14, 2022

From the fading “help wanted” signs posted in windows of local businesses, to the daily news headlines, it’s no doubt the effects of The Great Resignation have permeated throughout America’s economy. And not only are companies struggling to find new talent, but even retaining their existing workforce has become a challenge; according to research, as many as 95% of employees are considering quitting their jobs or switching careers altogether.

In an effort to understand what these trends mean for Ohio businesses, William Vaughan Company teamed up with regional leaders to host a panel discussion where we discussed innovative techniques companies are starting to employ in order to attract and retain talent. Here are our top 5 takeaways:

  1. Expand your search to include traditionally untapped talent populations.
    Every 1 out of 4 adults in the United States is currently living with a disability, however, in 2021 only 19 percent of those individuals were gainfully employed. Making small changes to your workspace to accommodate these individuals can often be funded by grants and opens up an entirely new pool of talent from which to pull. Other talent pool opportunities include the previously incarcerated or second chance communities which is roughly 70 million Americans, and the veteran population. Thinking outside the box and investing in untapped talent could be a real solution in an extremely competitive job market.
  2. Be proactive in recruiting by keeping your “talent pipeline” full.
    Just as companies keep track of pending deals in their sales pipeline, keeping track of applicants in a “talent pipeline” is equally as beneficial. While an applicant may not be the right fit for an existing job opening, keeping their information on-hand for a future job posting could prove to be useful.
  3. Check-in with new hires within the first 90 days.
    Studies show the majority of turnover happens within the first 90 days of employment. Improving onboarding procedures and checking-in with new hires within that 90-day window is crucial to employee retention.
  4. Get involved on local school boards.
    Last year alone, 80 percent of local college graduates relocated for work. Making connections with board members at local high schools and universities has proven to be a great way for businesses to get their foot in the door with up-and-coming talent.
  5. Leverage professional connections.
    While recruiting firms and temp agencies may provide some momentary workload relief, leveraging connections with industry-specific business consultants may lead to finding that perfect, long-team hire. For example, William Vaughan Company offers CFO, Controller & Bookkeeper Placement services that help our clients make the right decisions for their long-term objectives.

Interested in hearing the entire discussion? Visit our Youtube channel for the full recording. To learn more about William Vaughan Company’s onboarding and placement guarantee, be sure to reach out to our team of trusted business consultants.

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wvco.com

Categories: Other Resources


New USDA Loan Program Focused on Food Supply Chain Revitalization

Feb 08, 2022


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary, Tom Vilsack recently announced that the USDA is deploying $100 million under the new Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loan Program to make nearly $1 billion available in loan guarantees. The objectives are to support new investments in infrastructure for food aggregation, processing, manufacturing, storage, transportation, wholesaling, and distribution, and to also increase capacity and create a more resilient, diverse, and secure U.S. food supply chain.

What is the Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loan Program?

The Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loan Program is a part of the USDA’s Build Back Better initiative to strengthen critical supply chains and our food system. This program guarantees loans of up to $40 million for qualified lenders to finance food system projects, specifically for the start-up or expansion of activities in the middle of the food supply chain.

Who qualifies?

Eligible borrowers must be directly engaged in the middle of the food supply chain, specifically the aggregation, processing, manufacturing, storing, transporting, wholesaling, or distribution of food. Examples of the types of entities that may qualify for the program include meat processors and food hubs. Lenders may provide the loans to eligible cooperatives, corporations, for-profits, nonprofits, Tribal communities, public bodies, and people in rural and urban areas.

How can funds be used?

Funds are available on a first-come, first-serve basis and may be used to:

  • start-up or expand food supply chain activities such as aggregating, processing, manufacturing, storing, transporting, wholesaling, or distributing food.
  • address supply chain bottlenecks.
  • increase capacity and help create a more resilient, diverse, and secure U.S. food supply chain.

How do I apply?

The USDA is accepting electronic applications from lenders through the Food Supply Chain Online Application System until funds are expended. Paper applications will not be accepted.

To access the online application system, lenders must submit a request to rdfoodsupplychainloans@usda.gov.
USDA Rural Development encourages applications for projects that advance the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, promote equitable access to USDA programs and services, and reduce the impacts of climate change on rural communities. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov/priority-points.

Categories: Agribusiness


New R&E Expenditure Changes Under IRC Section 174 to Begin in 2022

Jan 26, 2022

As 2022 begins, so does the amendment to the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 174, originally introduced by 2017 tax reform legislation, the Tax and Jobs Act (TCJA.)

That amendment requires both US-Based and non US-Based research and experimental expenditures (R&E) for tax years starting after December 31st, 2021 be capitalized and amortized over a period of five or 15 years, respectively.
Previous to the TCJA amendment, taxpayers could elect to either capitalize and amortize R&E expenditures over a period of at least 60 months, or deduct the expenditures in the year paid or incurred, (taxpayers could also choose to make an election under Section 59(e) to amortize expenditures over 10 years.) Under the new legislation, amortization begins at the midpoint of the taxable year in which expenses are paid or incurred, which could create a significant year-one impact.

For example, if a taxpayer incurs $5 million of R&E expenditures in 2022, the taxpayer will now be entitled to amortization expense of $500,000 in 2022. We arrived at this calculated by dividing $5 million by five years, then cutting the annual amortization amount in half. Prior to the TCJA, the taxpayer would have immediately expensed all $5 million on its 2022 tax return, assuming it did not make an election under Section 174(b) or Section 59(e) to capitalize the amounts.

Additionally, software development costs have been added as R&E expenditures under Section 174(c)(3) and, therefore, are also subject to the same mandatory amortization period of five or 15 years. Previously, under Rev. Proc. 2000-50 options existed for taxpayers to either expense software development costs as they incurred, amortize over 36 months from the date the software was placed in service, or amortize over not less than 60 months from the date the development was completed.

Immediate Considerations
Under the new Section 174 requirements, taxpayers should ensure that all R&E expenditures are properly identified, as some may be able to leverage from existing systems/tracking to identify R&E. Taxpayers that have existing systems in place to calculate the research credit will likely be able to use such computations as a helpful starting point for determining R&E expenditures. By definition, any costs included in the research credit calculation would then need to be recovered under the five-year amortization period.

Taxpayers currently not identifying any R&E expenditures should consider the steps necessary to assess the amount of their expenditures that are subject to Section 174. Under some circumstances, it may be wise to begin separating out R&E expenditure amounts to their own trial balance accounts, e.g. to have a separate “trial balance account” for R&E expenditure wages versus non-R&E wages. Determining which costs should be included in the relevant R&E expenditure trial balance accounts will likely involve interviews with the taxpayer’s operation and financial accounting personnel, as well as the development of allocation methodologies that determine which expenses (e.g., rent) relate to both R&E expenditure and non-R&E expenditure activities.

Additional Effects of Section 174 Amendment
It should be noted that under Section 174, the types of expenses eligible for duction are generally broader than those expenses eligible for credit under Section 41. For example, Section 41 allows supplies, wages and contract research, while Section 174 can include items such as utilities, depreciation, attorneys’ fees and other expenditures related to the development or improvement of a product.

Key Take-Aways
The implemented changes of Section 174 may bring some potentially favorable tax developments for those previously employing the capitalization of R&E expenditures. With the new amendment allowing for amortization of R&E expenditures at the midpoint of the fiscal year they were incurred, certain taxpayers may be able to recoup those costs sooner.

It should also be noted that the language in the TCJA indicates that the Section 174 amendment should be treated as a “change in method of accounting” and applies on a cut-off basis beginning for tax year 2022. Any costs incurred before 2022 will remain as-is and fall under the previous rules mentioned above. It is still unknown if taxpayers that previously expensed their R&E expenditures will have to file an “Application for Change in Method of Accounting (Form 3115).”

The IRS is expected to release guidance on how taxpayers should comply with the new rule for the 2022 tax year, presuming the start-date of the provision is not again postponed by Congress. Because of this and other areas of uncertainly surrounding the new amendment, taxpayers should continue to monitor IRS and Treasury updates, or consult with their William Vaughan advisor before filing any 2022 tax returns in order to ensure compliance with the latest regulations.

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Robert Bradshaw, CPA

Tax Partner

bob.bradshaw@wvco.com | 419.891.1040

Categories: Tax Planning