Health Services Payroll and HR: A Look Back on 2021 and a Glimpse into the Rest of 2022
Back by popular demand is our glimpse into the future from our internal experts in the health services industries. Building on the changes that happened in 2020 and 2021, we take a look at what is likely to happen throughout the rest of 2022.
As Our Clients Continue to Adjust to the Ever-Changing Pandemic, What Were Some of the Major Challenges Home Care, Home Health, and Hospice Agencies and Senior Care and Skilled Nursing Facilities Faced in 2021?
(Claire Dolling, Director of Implementation)
As in 2020, COVID continues to intensify workforce challenges.
During 2021, many of our clients in the in-home care and senior care industries struggled tremendously when it came to the shortage of available caregivers and skilled workers. These positions were increasingly difficult to fill as demand continued to rise. Employers have had to get creative by revamping compensation and benefits, providing more flexible schedules, and/or enhancing staff development and opportunities just to stay afloat.
As if agencies and facilities weren’t struggling enough to hire against local competitors, there was even competition between unemployment benefits, which provided greater optionality for caregivers and employees alike.
Besides compensation, another challenge that in-home care and senior care providers faced was keeping staff members healthy and safe from COVID. From Delta to Omicron, it was one variant after another. Agencies and facilities didn’t only have to worry about staff getting COVID once but multiple times.
Agencies and facilities were also concerned with compliance. With all of the staffing challenges, clients did not want to find themselves without proper documentation for potential audits. This meant keeping a constant pulse on the administrative side of the business.
As we move forward in 2022, agencies and facilities would benefit by utilizing technology to its fullest in order to reduce errors, manage documentation, and track data.
Which Government Programs Did Most Health Services Organizations Take Advantage Of? Are There Any Left?
(Malka Trump, Director of Compliance)
In 2021, we saw the extension and expansion of many of the payroll-related COVID-19 relief provisions of 2020.
Paid sick and family leave tax credits were extended through September 30, 2021. The SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) introduced a new round of loan funding, with the final loan application due May 31, 2021. In September, President Biden announced a plan to streamline forgiveness with pre-completed applications for those with loans of $150,000 or less. Many businesses have already opted into this program, leading to an easier forgiveness process.
Probably one of the number one programs that we saw agencies and facilities take advantage of in 2021 was the Employee Retention Credit (ERC). Originally slated to expire at the end of 2020, the ERC was extended and expanded in 2021. More agencies and facilities became eligible as the definition of a significant decline in gross receipts was reduced from a 50% decline in 2020 to a 20% decline in 2021. In addition, the amount of the tax credit itself was also expanded from a $5,000 annual maximum credit per employee in 2020 to a $7,000 maximum quarterly credit per employee in 2021. Though the extended ERC was going to expire on December 31, 2021, under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (Bill H.R. 3684) signed into law by President Biden, the ERC expired 3 months early on September 30, 2021. Only recovery startup businesses (businesses that began operation after February 15, 2020, with less than $1 million in annual gross receipts) are eligible for the ERC credit in the fourth quarter of 2021.
Wrapping up 2021, much of the payroll-related COVID-19 relief provisions are coming to an end. However, the pandemic is still a glaring reality. As we move further into 2022, we will see how the pandemic continues to affect the economy and how federal and state governments will respond.
What Do You See Happening in 2022 Within Health Care Payroll and HR, and What Is Viventium Doing to Help?
(Dan Neuburger, CEO)
There are a number of trends within health care payroll and HR in general that impact Viventium and the clients we serve.
The Strategic Value of Payroll
Forward-thinking technology companies supporting payroll are changing the relationship between employees and employers. This is critically important in industries such as health care, where labor shortages are impeding business growth. Programs that enable employers to retain staff and improve the efficiency of the hiring process will become increasingly important, and they are the driving force behind Viventium’s decision to develop proprietary Benefits Administration and Employee Onboarding software, both of which were launched since the pandemic started.
We also introduced the capability to support learning and development of our clients’ employees in an effort to improve employee retention by increasing employees’ skills and abilities to earn higher wages. At the same time, we believe payroll providers must offer greater flexibility to their clients’ employees and the manner in which they access their earnings and gain information. Viventium now works with a number of early earned wage access partners to make it easy for clients to choose a model that best supports this capability for their employees. And we’ve continued making enhancements to our Employee Self Service tool so employees can easily track the status of their paycheck as well as payroll and other HR information. These capabilities enhance the employee experience and act as retention tools for their employers.
Understanding That Remote Work Is Here to Stay
Many companies are coming to the realization that the workforce is increasingly demanding the ability to work remotely. This trend was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. It isn’t new to many of our clients, such as those in the home health care industry, and we believe this trend will continue well beyond the end of the pandemic. Remote hiring will help many companies address their need to hire more people, and it also means that employers need to be familiar with new state and locality requirements, exposing them to increasingly complex compliance matters. The ability of companies like health care providers to adhere to a myriad of ever-changing laws, regulations, guidelines, and specifications relevant to their business processes remains of paramount importance. Viventium takes great pride in ensuring our technology, processes, and people support operating in a compliant manner.
At its core, the purpose of payroll technology is to make the process easier for payroll managers and their company’s employees while ensuring accuracy. The migration to HR tech providers who provide both flexible technology as well as high levels of client service will continue. And it will become increasingly important to integrate solutions and ensure interoperability. Viventium continues to be well positioned in this regard, and we continue to work toward integrating with other leading software providers focused on the markets we serve. This will ensure Viventium continues to be recognized for our easy-to-use, robust software and our remarkable service.