RW: Let’s start with the basics. What is the WOTC Hero program?
Philip: To answer that, I’ll start with some background. WOTC, the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, is a program started in 1996 as a paper-based, tough-to-navigate system. It was designed as a way to give big companies financial incentive—tax credits—for hiring people from traditionally disadvantaged groups. Most employers with revenue under $250 million didn’t participate because they didn’t have the resources to devote one or more full-time people to participate in the program. But then, in 2012, the IRS gave employers the ability to screen electronically, so the field opened up for smaller companies to participate in the already-available tax credits.
That’s where Clarus Solutions comes in. We were formed in 2013, after our company founders saw an obvious gap in the market. Plenty of firms will file the paperwork for you; we dedicate our services to optimizing your firm’s participation in this existing federal program.
The WOTC Hero program is where we take WOTC a step further. The federal government provides tax credits of between $1.200 and $9,600 per eligible employee, depending on their specific background—the average is approximately $2,100. We at Clarus Solutions work with our clients to optimize those credits.
Participating WOTC Heroes even get a cape. They’re our ambassadors, explaining the benefits to company stakeholders and employees alike. We work with the Hero to seamlessly integrate our best practices with existing processes in a company.
RW: Who is eligible to participate?
Philip: Our client base today includes more than 200 staffing firms from all 50 states. We work with white-collar and blue-collar companies, small companies and larger firms as well. With electronic screening, we can take this program to a smaller market. That means we often work with clients whose candidates are seeking positions as, for example, clerical or light industrial workers, and traditionally, those candidate pools include people in one of the identified groups WOTC is designed to help.
RW: How does the screening process work?
Philip: We tailor our method to each client, but generally speaking, we can integrate an electronic questionnaire into the existing platform for job seekers. It’s up to the staffing firm to determine where we integrate the questionnaire. That way, we can work behind the scenes to determine who’s WOTC eligible among applicants, and our firm then ensures all of the proper documentation is in order. We work with the IRS and the Department of Labor, and we have a great working relationship with each state’s workforce agency.
RW: How does the program itself work?
Philip: Once a WOTC-eligible worker is hired and certified by the state’s workforce commission, the company starts accumulating tax credit. It’s that simple.
RW: What are some of the program benefits?
Philip: The main benefit to our clients is, by participating in this program, a company can be up to five times more profitable. I know that sounds incredible, but with this program, especially if you already have workers who may be eligible for these existing tax credits, your profit margins can increase by 20, 30, even 40 percent. It can really change the game for a company.
RW: What is your stake in this?
Philip: Seeing clients grow their businesses is the biggest thrill for us. We can work with a staffing firm, and they don’t have to make any operations changes or how they screen or hire, and they still see these wonderful returns.
And we’ve put our money where our mouth is. For the company decision-makers who are interested in learning more or aren’t quite sure how we go about implementing our process, we created a clinic. This year, it will be held on September 26 and 27. We fly the company’s CFO and/or owner into Dallas, Texas, all expenses paid, so they can unhook from the office and focus on the information we provide.
Typically we host attendees from 8 to 12 staffing firms. It’s an intimate event, a great networking opportunity, and by the end of the weekend, you’ve learned all of our best practices. It’s very transparent. Our point is, we’re experts and focus on this, and we want to be able to provide this wonderful tool to people.
Recruiting is all about relationships. Trust is a big deal. We are working with people regarding their livelihoods, and we take that seriously. I think the clinic helps us present the facts and uncover what we do, while giving people an opportunity to ask questions along the way. We want to get our message out, and we hope even more companies respond.
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