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Trending in business

Three innovative trends are taking hold at businesses across the country, according to Inc. magazine.

  • Unlocking employees’ hidden strengths. By focusing on building relationships with those who work for you, you can not only uncover hidden capabilities but give your employees a feeling of ownership of their work.
  • Giving second chances. More companies are stepping up to solve some of the country’s problems. Cascade Engineering, for example, started a program called Welfare to Career, which hires people who have been on government assistance for long periods of time. The program raised retention rates and employee satisfaction, and was so successful that founder and CEO Fred Keller initiated a second program aimed at hiring ex-felons and giving them a chance to start a new life.
  • Implementing democracy. In the past, companies often operated under the command-and-control style of leadership, but that doesn’t work anymore. By hiring people with curiosity, modesty and passion, you can create a culture focused on individual participation and empowerment, says Clarizen CEO Avinoam Nowogrodski. Under his system, everyone in the organization is equal. The result is that employees don’t feel like there is someone above them is dictating to them, giving everyone a voice in the company.

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Whistleblower protections extended

Whistleblower protections have been extended to employees of many private companies. In the case of Lawson v. FMR LLC, the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that Section 806 of Sarbanes-Oxley, which protects employees from retaliation, also applies to private companies, contractors and subcontractors that provide services to public companies. “Retaliation” is broadly defined to include the discharge, demotion, suspension, threatening, harassment or any discrimination against a whistleblower for his or her actions.

Companies should ensure that whistleblower protections are deeply embedded in their compliance and ethics policies, which should encourage whistleblowers to come forward, provide a reporting mechanism, establish investigative procedures to resolve complaints and promote acceptance of anti-retaliation policies throughout the organization.

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New rules for companies paying foreign vendors

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) went into effect July 1, 2014, and businesses that make payments to foreign vendors or investors must determine whether that payment is subject to FATCA.

The act, created as part of the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act of 2010, requires companies to disclose information related to payments made to organizations outside the U.S., with the goal of identifying and discouraging offshore tax evasion by making payments to overseas accounts more transparent.

Provisions will continue to phase in through 2016.

If your business makes payments to foreign vendors or investors, you can either choose to become compliant, gather information and disclose it to the IRS by filing Form 8966 and 1042-S, or choose not to comply and be subject to a 30 percent withholding penalty on overseas payments.

Rent paid to a foreign entity is exempt from the requirement.