Articles by: Erik Marsh

The Breakdown of a W-2

With April 15th right around the corner, getting your taxes filed is of the utmost importance. For many individuals, your W-2 is a key component to this process, but what do all these boxes mean? While some of the boxes may seem straightforward, many of them can be rather confusing. Here is a breakdown of what the boxes actually mean:

Box 1: “Wage, tips, and other compensation”: This box is for your wage and tips that are taxable by the Federal Income tax for the year. Your pre-tax retirement and benefits are deducted from this, while your taxable benefits are added back.

Box 2: “Federal Income tax withheld”: This is federal income tax that was withheld from your pay based on the W-4 you filed with your employer.

Box 3: “Social security wages”: These wages are calculated by adding the amount in Box 1 with your retirement deductions from Box 12.

Box 4: “Social security tax withheld”: This represents the Social Security tax withheld from your pay.

Box 5: “Medicare wages and tips”: These are the wages that are subject to the Medicare tax.

Box 6: “Medicare tax withheld”: This is the Medicare tax withheld from your pay based on a rate of 1.45%.

Box 7: “Social Security tips”: These are the tips subject to the Social Security tax. Notice that unlike the Federal income and Medicare taxes, Social Security tips are separated into their own box.

Box 8: “Allocated tips”: This amount is not included in Boxes 1,3, 5, or 7. For more information on reporting this amount, see the instructions on Form 1040.

Box 9: This box was discontinued and remains shaded on your W-2.

Box 10: “Dependent care benefits”: This box reports any amounts that have been reimbursed or incurred by your employer for dependent care services.

Box 11: “Non-qualified plans”: This box reports distributions from the employer’s non-qualified distribution plan or a nongovernmental 457(b) pension plan.

Box 12: This box reports contributions, deferrals, and uncollected taxes using a single or double letter code and a dollar amount. A list of codes and their descriptions can be found in the W-2 general instructions.

Box 13: This box offers three possible situations. The respective box should be checked if any of these situations apply to you.

Box 14: “Other tax information”: This box is for employers to report additional tax information. This can include union dues, employer-paid tuition assistance, adoption benefits paid from a section 125 plan, and more

Box 15: “State and Employer’s State ID”: This box displays the abbreviation for the employer’s state along with their state tax identification number.

Box 16: “State wages, tip, etc.”: This box displays wages and tips that are taxable under the state’s income tax.

Box 17: “State income tax”: This box displays the amount withheld from your pay for the state income tax.

Box 18: “Local wages, tip, etc.”: This box displays the wages, tips, and compensation that are subject to city, municipal, school district, county, or other local taxes.

Box 19: “Local income tax”: This box displays the amount withheld from your pay for city, municipal, school district, county, or other local taxes.

Box 20: “Locality name”: This is the code or name of the locality for which your local taxes were withheld.

Many organizations with modern self-service software offer employees the option to receive an electronic W-2. The electronic process is faster, more secure, and more eco-friendly. Ask your employer about your options to receive an electronic W-2. Additionally, employees are able to receive their tax information quickly and access it online from anywhere.

For more information on your W-2, please visit:

This DATIS Blog was written by Adam Hawkins, DATIS, on April 6th, 2016 and may not be re-posted without permission.

The Pros of Pay for Performance

Most business leaders view incentive programs as nonessential, expensive and even taboo. However, a recent shows that 90% of business leaders believe that an incentive program could positively impact their business, yet only 25% of them actually have a strategy in place. Organizations that struggle with productivity, recruitment, and retention should consider implementing an incentive program, also known as “Pay for Performance”.

The Health & Human Services industry is ever-evolving and, with the right rewards and tools, adopting an incentive program could be the gateway to organizational stability and success. The appropriate program can reinvigorate your entire workforce and help to push the overall performance of your organization. In order to successfully implement an incentive program, there are a few areas to focus on:

Attracting Talent

The job market is tough for everyone, including employers. Recruiting top talent has proven to remain a difficult task for organizations. However, surveys show that 42% of applicants consider certain positions because of reward and recognition program opportunities when seeking employment. The small differentials of these positions are what typically make one organization standout among hundreds of others that are also hiring.

Boosting Productivity

Successful managers know employee performance depends on employee attitude and behavior. Incentive programs can help motivate your workforce to perform to their optimum potential. 77% of employees reported that they would work harder if managers recognized their performance more often. Incentive programs can increase positive employee attitudes, engagement, and productivity, which will ultimately drive organizational success. With a structured program, organizations can be better equipped to achieve their goals.

Retaining Talent

Keeping employees happy is crucial and continues to be a challenge for many organizations. With 39% of employees feeling underappreciated at work, it’s no wonder organizational growth can be stunted. Employee turnover rates can often be costly and produce long-term workforce performance issues. With the assistance of the incentive program your organization can motivate its top talent to remain content in their current position.

While some incentive programs do not suit every industry, several organizations currently utilizing these strategies reported a 79% success rate when the correct reward was offered. With an increase in revenue, employee performance, and overall engagement, the importance of these incentive programs is becoming more critical. With the right tools in line to help build your workforce and its proper programs, is your workforce ready to start performing to their full potential?

This DATIS Blog was written by Erica Kavanagh, DATIS, on July 20th, 2016 and may not be re-posted without permission.

Major Players on the Implementation Team

One of the most daunting tasks for an organization is a major software implementation. Although there are a myriad of long-term benefits, sometimes they can seem far off. This negative perception can lead organizations to avoid the process overall.

There is no doubt that software implementations can be overwhelming. However, there are some things an organization can do to promote a smooth transition. First and foremost, it is important to bring the right people together to create a project team and plan of action. By assembling a cross-departmental implementation team within your organization, the process can be efficient and effective while making a world of difference for your organization.

Each department within your organization has a specialized role for an HRIS implementation.

Human Resources
The HR department must clarify the features, functions, and benefits desired before choosing a new system. By defining these elements at the beginning of the process, the software can be tailored with the right tools to aid your organization. Before, during, and after the system implementation, it is important that HR maintains an open line of communication with the entire organization in order to keep all employees on the same page during the process.

IT Department
The IT department’s role in the implementation is to work with the vendor, whether it be virtually or on site, for a smooth integration and migration from any older systems, as well as ensuring that the organization’s necessary specifications are being met. By simplifying and streamlining systems and avoiding ‘data dumping’, the other departments will have access to accurate, real-time data, while also keeping the information safe and secure.

Finance is known for their monetary presence within the organization. Therefore, it is important for this department to be present within the implementation team. Finance should have access to all information required for labor costs, trends, and analysis. Therefore, they are a key player in the integration of systems and data to ensure the payroll functionality is sufficient. Finance should also create a budget, so all departments have access to the financial plan, reducing any financial discrepancies.

Through collaboration and teamwork, the implementation team can help diminish the concerns that typically arise when considering the implementation of a new software. With a divide-and-conquer strategy each department will contribute to the success of the implementation. Stop kicking the can down the road, and implement the right software that works for your organization today.

This DATIS Blog was written by Erica Kavanagh, DATIS, on September 27th, 2016 and may not be re-posted without permission.

Making a Difference With a Diverse Workforce

Over the past 30 years, the United States of America has made some incredible strides in the workplace. Today, organizations continue to evolve to meet the needs of the modern workforce. The workplace has quickly become a multicultural and multigenerational environment in which it is important for today’s staffing initiatives. Understanding these trends can help organizations achieve their goals and continue to stride towards progression. Diversity in the Workforce In 2016, the typical U.S. workforce is made up of different ethnicities, genders, generations, and sexualities. Traditional workforce demographics have drastically transformed, leaving HR departments to face new challenges regarding compliance, workplace culture, and overall cohesiveness. Initiatives regarding workforce management and culture have become stepping stones for senior leadership to achieve success. In fact, a diverse workplace can make a measurable difference in organizational collaboration and innovation, delivering a multitude of benefits that produce positive business outcomes. The Three Main Benefits According to a report by SHRM, 41% of managers say they are “too busy” to implement diversity initiatives. However, considering the vast benefits provided by a diverse workforce, organizations might want to begin prioritizing their workforce management strategies.
  • Increasing Productivity: Employing personnel of different backgrounds can add competitive advantages within the workplace. With a diverse staff, new skills and techniques are brought together to unify and strengthen teams and organizations. Different talents working together can help organizations achieve common goals while offering new services and appealing to a broader range of clients. Diversity fosters development and expansion.
  • Problem Solving: Many people have their own approach to solving problems. It’s extremely valuable to have different employees working together. Organizations are able to establish new ideas and solutions when different minds come together to brainstorm. With a variety of employees working together, new processes can be created when challenges arise. 
  • Building Reputation: Adding diversity to an organization’s workforce inherently builds synergy, creating a sense of purpose which increases overall employee engagement. As a result, organizations experience high employee morale that can establish great workplace culture. Building a good employer brand can help attract new talent while retaining existing talent.
Managing the Difference It’s imperative to understand the importance of a diverse workforce along with the struggles that come with it. However, with a workforce management software, executives have visibility into their teams, which gives HR and executives the ability to help monitor and manage employee performances. With a transforming workforce, it’s time to embrace changes to our workplace diversity and use them to your organization’s advantage. Begin diversifying your staff to drive growth and innovation within your organization today.

Thanksgiving Workforce Lessons

With the long weekend, families and friends gathering, and copious amounts of food, Thanksgiving has always been a way to reflect and appreciate the different aspects of our life. With the end of the year quickly approaching, it’s around Thanksgiving when people begin to reflect on the year. For organizations, this is the time executives begin analyzing their workforce processes and inefficiencies.

Although these analyses are critical to running an organization, they are not the only benefit Thanksgiving can bring to office. There are many valuable lessons Thanksgiving can teach us in the workplace, including the following:

Being Thankful for Workplace Rights
A positive workplace is crucial for an organization’s success. Over many years there has been remarkable strides to improve the standard workplace. However, it can be easy to neglect the strides we’ve made when we think about where we wish the regulations were. With laws to reduce workforce issues and ensure equal opportunities, it’s important to remember and be appreciative of the changes. These advances establish a safe and productive workplace for all employees.

Being Thankful for Synergy
Family is the most celebrated aspect of our lives on Thanksgiving. However, it’s easy to forget the people we spend nearly 2,000 hours a year with. Being an employee means being a part of a team that works together through the good and bad times. It’s imperative for executives to create and establish a collaborative environment that promotes solidarity between employees and can help organizations flourish.

Being Thankful for Feedback
A very beneficial and somewhat under-utilized tool is open evaluations and feedback. This resource is imperative for the entire organization, and is something that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Looking back on 2016 can help organizations thrive in identifying certain workplace and workforce initiatives.

During the holiday season it's common to see an increase in workforce stress. Therefore, it’s essential to be thankful and express gratitude towards all employees at your organization. Although there are everyday lessons organizations can learn from, Thanksgiving is the perfect time for employees to reflect and appreciate what works, while also establishing new initiatives.

This year, take the time to learn the valuable Thanksgiving workforce lessons that this holiday offers many organizations and begin striving for new organizational goals.

This DATIS Blog was written by Erica Kavanagh, DATIS, on November 23rd, 2016 and may not be re-posted without permission.

Properly Manage Change and Challenges of Mergers & Acquisitions

Mergers & acquisitions have become a rising trend for organizations in the Health & Human Services industry. The ever-evolving healthcare environment continues to drive organizations to seek new opportunities and resources through M&A’s, which allow them to improve services and overall operations to create for a more efficient and holistic business model.

Despite the rising number of M&A’s, an astonishing 70-90% of all mergers and acquisitions fail, as per the Harvard Business Review Report. Due to the complexity of M&A’s, many organizations become strained when trying to proactively manage the process.

Understanding how to properly manage change and challenges of mergers and acquisitions can help organizations develop strategies for successful execution. Some of the most common challenges that organization’s face during this process include:

Blending Workforces
When diversifying services, it’s imperative for organizations to blend skilled teams. M&A’s are commonly implemented to help organizations provide more integrated services, however, it is essential to maintain a high quality of care and excellence. Organizations will need to analyze the merging workforces and determine a plan for creating cross-functional teams that can continue to provide clients with best-in-class service.

Compliance Risks
As an industry strongly governed by regulations, many organizations have unique and complex needs to maintain mandatory compliance. During M&A’s, managing the necessary reporting and complying with requirements such as Wage & Hour laws, credentials, and budgets can become increasingly difficult and can put organizations at fault. It’s imperative for organizations to remain attentive and proactive to all regulations during an M&A.

Culture Clashes
Throughout the M&A process, many aspects of an organization will be integrated. One of the most challenging aspects to integrate and keep consistent is organizational culture. With conflicting missions and values, organizations may struggle to establish a new, inclusive identity. An integrated brand identity strategy can help management and leadership styles align, creating a united front that drives the new organization forward.

Outdated Technology
Technology plays a significant role in M&A success. Understanding technological needs of both organizations is essential for forecasting the integration, allocating resources, and placing talent. Without updated technology, organizations may not have access to the accurate data and information needed. In the long run, this can cause problems regarding employees, finances, and strategic plans, if the technological infrastructure in place does not have the bandwidth to support the needs of the new organization.

There are many long-term benefits to M&A’s for Health and Human Services organizations, including improved and integrated services, strengthened competitive advantages, and new opportunities. It’s essential for organizations to understand the challenges they will face and strategize for the best approach to overcome them.

This DATIS Blog was written by Erica Kavanagh, DATIS, on December 22nd, 2016 and may not be re-posted without permission.

Making Employee Engagement a Habit

Engaged employees are happy employees, and happy employees generally tend to stay at their jobs long-term. As your organization continues to grow in size, it’s important to remember the organization’s key values and what it is that has kept your employees onboard for so long. While most workforce executives understand the significance, few take the time to implement successful strategies to cue employee engagement making it a habit. In the recent 2017 Workforce Trends Survey, executives identified employee engagement as one of their top 3 priorities for 2017. However, 46% of CEOs stated that they did not have a plan to increase employee engagement. A further 18% of CEOs said that while they did have a plan to increase employee engagement, they admitted that it was outdated.

There are a myriad of reasons to increase employee engagement that are critical to achieving overall organizational success and reward. However, executives continue to struggle to identify and implement a strategy that is best for their workforce. While it is important to test different strategies to establish which one works best with your organization, an unsuccessful strategy can damage your workplace culture, employer brand, and overall success. For strategies to be successful, engagement must occur naturally when conditions are right for both employees and the organization.

A few ways to make employee engagement a habit include:

Foster initiative
One tactic executives can utilize to increase employee engagement is nurturing employees with initiative. Through proper onboarding and training programs, employees can become confidently skilled with decision making and critical thinking. This empowers your workforce to go above and beyond, especially in demanding situations.

Familiarize your team
Approximately, 55% of organizations only receive employee feedback once a year. These communication barriers within an organization can prevent employee engagement. With ice breaker and team bonding activities, employees can become acquainted with one another, which can in turn improve the communication among the team. These activities can also build synergy, encouraging participation through collaboration.

Clarify responsibilities
As a workforce leader, it is imperative that employees understand their role within the organization. By clearly outlining duties, employees recognize their value and function for achieving organizational success. This can help eliminate any gray areas regarding expectations and can help employees grow confident and further develop their skills.

Reward achievements
A rewards system is one of the most traditional methods for encouraging employee engagement. However, this tactic is easily abused and should be carefully implemented for optimal success. By providing rewards for workforce accomplishments, employees are acknowledged for their contribution and, in turn, are inspired to continue their efforts towards progress and improvements in the workplace.

Organizations normally have the assets in place to strive to create the ideal workplace for employee engagement. Since executives cannot force employees to engage, these workforce management strategies will help produce an environment to cue employee engagement routine, creating habits organically.

With the right employee engagement strategy in place your organization will be able to create a happy and empowering workplace and drive organizational success today.

This DATIS Blog was written by Erica Kavanagh, DATIS, on February 16th, 2017 and may not be re-posted without permission.

Executive Evolution: Modern Management

At the beginning of management, its purpose was mostly scientific, a way to define a strict and formal hierarchy in order to drive standardization across people and processes. As organizations began to develop into more complex entities, management was forced to change gears to meet the functional demands of a new and dynamic market and workplace.

Many organizations are confronted with changes, whether they’re fiscal, cultural, or digital. By recognizing and identifying these changes as catalysts, executives can understand modern management and its vital role in organizational success. Modern management can be broken down into three aspects: administrative approach, problem solving, and innovation. However, it’s important to consider there is a variety of subcategories underneath, as described below.

Management Approach

This broad term reflects the style of top administration made up of organizational c-suite executives. The evolving role of management has required the leadership methods of these positions to change. Several of these changes include communication, control, and goal setting. With a rise in technology in the workplace, there is now a struggle to find the suitable communicative tools.

Furthermore, the growth and development of an organization can often be difficult. Through growth, new leadership roles will continue to be created, which can cause growing pains and tension within the workplace. It is important that management proactively plan new positions and establish boundaries to drive efficiencies and accommodate future leadership roles.

Executives now have the ability to use technology to set and drive metric-based goals, however this further emphasizes the necessity for open communication to express these expectations to their workforce.

Problem Solving

Since the way in which organizations function is changing, new problems have begun to arise. These complications have challenged management to develop new executive problem solving skills. More often than not, these issues arise in organizations during an introduction of new services, or migration of new technology.

Nevertheless, this forces modern management to be identify, design, and implement a strong and powerful framework for collaborative and strategic problem-solving. To reduce problematic risks, managers can utilize technology as a decision support tool.


Driving an organization forward and maintaining competitive edge requires executives to invest resources into innovation. By embracing the future, modern management can capitalize on various opportunities created by an evolving industry. However these efforts can be attempted simply from the C-Suite.

Modern management requires the creation of an innovative culture that inspires collaboration and encourages employee engagement throughout the entire organization. Executives that encourage, motivate and employ new ideas and strategies can create a sustaining center of excellence and gain the capacity for continued growth.

Acknowledging that an industry is changing means organizations must change too. However, for these modifications to be successful, management and executives must evolve to stay ahead of the curve. Transforming the way management leads their employees, solves their problems and innovates their future is the deciding factor for organizational success. Join the executive evolution and begin modernizing your management today.

This DATIS Blog was written by Erica Kavanagh, DATIS, on March 23rd, 2017 and may not be re-posted without permission.