Tag: human resources

August 2014 Compliance and Culture Newsletter

“The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.” – Peter Drucker

This issue discusses:

  • Editor’s Column: What if All Doctors Went on Strike?
  • Creating an HR Experience
  • Shifting for HR Success
  • Protecting Your Data
  • 5 Things You May Not Know About the ADA
  • Question of the Month

We have also provided you with the Form of the Month.

Please click here to view the newsletter in PDF.

Editor’s Column: What if All Doctors Went on Strike?

I recently spoke to a group of physicians about frustrations with their practices. They complained how the insurance industry has taken their practices from a profession to a business. I realized each one of these physicians was under a great deal of emotional stress.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my physician to be under much stress, especially when treating me. I don’t want my physician to think of me as simply another account to be rushed through the office. And I know my physician doesn’t want to practice medicine that way either. Fast medicine, simply for speed’s sake, is dangerous medicine.

One of the physicians asked me what I thought the solution was. Without hesitation I told them that physicians must heal thy selves. They cannot control out there nor can they blame or justify why they find themselves in their current condition. Their only salvation is to take 100% responsibility for their condition and be determined to do something about it.

I asked them this question “What if all the doctors in United States decided to go on strike tomorrow saying we won’t take this anymore? How long would it take for there to be immediate action in Congress and insurance company boardrooms?”

One problem is there are many physicians who love Big Medicine. They love playing medical entrepreneur. Many are getting rich doing so, whether ethically or otherwise.

Physicians and their lawyers will have to work around the insurance system. Concierge medical programs are one example but that option is limited to the well off. Canadian physicians have been working around the problem for many years with alternative service structures.

Or you can downsize your practice and lifestyle and live a simpler and saner existence where you are whole and can be fully engaged in providing real medical care. You may not make as much money but you can practice like the doctor you grew up wanting to be.

Creating an HR Experience

HR executives are most valuable when they help create a great employee experience. Creating a great employee experience begins with a clear understanding of the company’s vision, mission, values, and goals. Collectively they make up the company’s culture.

While it is important to hire skillful employees, it is equally important to hire for their behavior, attitude, and personal culture. All must align with the company culture. This means HR must visit the shop floor. They have to walk among the employees and observe their behaviors and attitude. They have to train employees on proper behaviors and attitude.

Southwest Airlines continues to set the benchmark for employee experience in the airline industry. They’ve also been the most profitable company in the industry. They continue to attract the most talented people in the industry. Southwest knows that when they create a great employee experience, they can do the same for their customers—and that grows the bottom line.

Shifting for HR Success

successTory Johnson’s New York Times bestselling book, The Shift, talks about how she lost 62 pounds in a year. For her shift she developed five specific questions to help her meet her goals. Let’s look at how each of these steps would apply to your HR career:

  1. How fed up are you, really? Do you have the expertise you want, recognition you want, success and financial rewards you want? Are you truly ready for a change yet?
  2. What are you willing to give up? Fact is, to grow in your career, give things up and become highly focused. If I followed you around today and asked how important is this activity toward your strategic and career goals what would your response be?
  3. What’s your plan? Fact is, few HR executives have a plan for their career, never mind their department. If you are an HR That Works member and haven’t yet done so, I encourage you to sign up for the Strategic HR Course. You may click here to do so.
  4. What’s your daily accountability? While it is important to plan, it is even more important to execute. Identify what your benchmarks are and make sure to accomplish or exceed them.
  5. How will you embrace problems and celebrate your victories? As Johnson states, “We overestimate what we can do in the short-term and underestimate what we can do over the long haul.” Jim Collins referred to this in Good to Great as the flywheel effect. Do you have a long-term horizon so you have the strength to take the daily steps?

Protecting Your Data

An article in Corporate Counsel Magazine advised law firms on how they can do a better job of protectingprivacy their data, and that of their clients. The suggestions apply to any work environment:

  • Control access to those who “need to know.”
  • Control communication including use of mobile devices, personal email accounts, personal computers, or social media pages.
  • Limit delivery and exchange of documents to secure channels.
  • Properly dispose of all documents.
  • Conduct background checks on all personnel who work with proprietary information.
  • Create and implement a security breach plan, including immediate notification to your company and clients in the event of an actual or suspected breach.

5 Things You May Not Know About the ADA

According to Disability.gov, here are a few things you may not know about the ADA:

  1. A New Perspective on Disability Facts and Figures. In preparation for the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in July, the U.S. Census Bureau released its collection of the most recent data pertaining to Americans with disabilities. The numbers are striking. Approximately 57 million Americans have a disability. Since this figure may be difficult to comprehend, let’s look at some facts for comparison: There are more people with disabilities living in America than the entire population of Canada or the Caribbean. The number of Americans with vision impairments is comparable to the entire population of Switzerland, and there are more Americans with hearing impairments than in all of Denmark, Paraguay, or Hong Kong. If you take the population of Ireland and cut it in half, that’s roughly the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s or other neurocognitive disorders. More Americans with disabilities require the assistance of others to perform basic activities of daily living than the entire population of Greece.
  1. Breaking Down the ADA. The ADA of 1990, including its Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA), covers five areas:
  • Title I requires employers with 15 or more employees to treat qualified individuals with disabilities equally in all stages of employment. From the hiring process to full employment, this includes compensation, benefits, trainings, promotions and other aspects, such as offering reasonable accommodations to workers with disabilities. This section also restricts hiring managers from asking certain questions about an applicant’s disability during the hiring process or retaliating against someone for opposing discriminatory employment practices.
  • Title II prohibits public entities like state or local government agencies from discriminating against individuals with disabilities. All programs and services, such as public transportation, recreational activities, courts and town meetings, should be available to people with disabilities. State and local government buildings must be accessible, and accommodations should be available to communicate effectively with those who have vision, speech or hearing disabilities.
  • Title III requires public accommodations and commercial facilities to offer equal access and treatment, effective communication and removal of existing barriers for people with disabilities. Examples of such facilities include restaurants, retail stores, hotels, movie theaters, private schools, convention centers, doctors’ offices, homeless shelters and recreational facilities. Any altered or newly constructed buildings must follow architectural and design standards to ensure accessibility. Classes and examinations for professional, educational or trade-related purposes, licensing and certifications should be accessible to people with disabilities or alternative arrangements must be offered.
  • Under Title IV, telecommunications companies must establish telecommunications relay services for callers with hearing and speech disabilities.
  • Title V includes various provisions not necessarily covered by other titles, but have been used to clarify applying the law. This section notes that the ADA does not invalidate or override any other federal, state or local laws that provide equal or greater protections for people with disabilities. It also defines conditions not covered under the term “disability,” as defined by the ADA.
  1. Job Accommodations enable people with disabilities to perform essential job functions, be productive and accomplish work tasks with greater ease and independence. Examples include modifications such as ergonomic desk chairs, reserved parking, flexible schedules, telecommuting, alternate workstations and periodic rest, food or bathroom breaks. According to the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), a free source of expert one-on-one guidance on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues, nearly 60 percent of the accommodations needed by workers with disabilities cost absolutely nothing, and only 36 percent of employers incurred a one-time cost of roughly $500. JAN’s publication, the Employees’ Practical Guide to Requesting and Negotiating Reasonable Accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)summarizes the provisions of the ADA, common accommodation issues and JAN’s practical solutions for resolving them. For additional guidance on reasonable accommodations and enforcement, visit the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) website.
  1. The Rights of Pregnant Workers are generally protected by three laws: the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act preg(PDA). Although pregnancy is not considered a disability under the ADAAA, pregnancy-related impairments, such as gestational diabetes, severe nausea, sciatica or preeclampsia, may be recognized as a disability and could require an accommodation. Nursing mothers also have protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act. According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, 10 states and two cities have implemented laws requiring employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnancy. These include Alaska, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, Texas and West Virginia, in addition to New York City and Philadelphia. The Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund’s interactive map details pregnancy discrimination laws, as well as breastfeeding and leave rights, in each state. An article from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), Accommodating Pregnant Employees, highlights real-life situations and offers helpful suggestions on reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers. If you feel you have been discriminated against, visit the EEOC’s Pregnancy Discrimination page, which provides contact and other useful information about how to file a complaint.
  1. Technology and the ADA. Let’s first discuss the difference between accessible technology and assistive technology. Accessible technology can be used by people with a wide range of abilities, whether they use assistive technology or not. Assistive technology allows individuals with disabilities to perform tasks or functions they might otherwise be unable to do. For example, someone with low vision may not be able to read a book without a video camera magnifier. Under the ADA, governments and public entities must provide devices temporarily to help individuals with disabilities access their programs and services. A movie theater should loan you an assistive listening device if you have a hearing disability. The Assistive Technology, Accommodations and the Americans with Disabilities Act brochure from the ILR School at Cornell University explains more fully how assistive technology is covered under the ADA. If you are interested in learning more, the ADA Online Learning Center offers webinars on a variety of technology-related topics.

Question of the Month

hiring-questionsQ: Should we get a HIPAA release from the employee to review the medical information for a work-related injury?

A: HIPAA authorization is not required for Workers’ Comp information used to determine benefits to an injured worker. According to the Department of Health & Human Services, the HIPAA Privacy Rule does not apply to entities that are workers’ compensation insurers, workers’ compensation administrative agencies, or employers, except to the extent they may otherwise be covered entities. However, these entities need access to the health information of individuals injured on the job or who have a work-related illness to process or adjudicate claims, or to coordinate care under workers’ compensation systems. The Privacy Rule recognizes the legitimate need of insurers and other entities involved in the workers’ compensation systems to have access to individuals’ health information as authorized by State or other law. Due to the significant variability among such laws, the Privacy Rule permits disclosures of health information for workers’ compensation in several ways.

  1. Disclosures without Individual Authorization. The Privacy Rule permits covered entities to disclose protected health information to workers’ compensation insurers, State administrators, employers, and other persons or entities involved in workers’ compensation systems, without the individual’s authorization as authorized by and to the extent necessary to comply with laws relating to workers’ compensation or similar programs established by law that provide benefits for work-related injuries or illness without regard to fault.
  2. Disclosures with Individual Authorization. Covered entities may disclose protected health information to workers’ compensation insurers and others involved in workers’ compensation systems where the individual has provided his or her authorization for the release of the information to the entity.
  3. Minimum Necessary. Covered entities are required reasonably to limit the protected health information disclosed to the minimum necessary to accomplish the workers’ compensation purpose. Under this requirement, protected health information may be shared for such purposes to the full extent authorized by State or other law. Covered entities are required reasonably to limit the protected health information disclosed for payment to the minimum necessary. Covered entities may disclose the amount and types of protected health information necessary to obtain payment for health care provided to an injured or ill worker.

Form of the Month

Great vs. Average HR (PDF) – A poster showing the difference between average and great HR.


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February 2014 Compliance and Culture Newsletter

“Your personal brand is what people think of you. Everyone has a brand.” –Larry G. Linne
“Boring is not a brand.” – Don Phin

This issue discusses:

  • Editor’s Column: Should Employers Pay for Employees’ Obesity?
  • Concerns of Corporate Counsel – Can HR Help?
  • Watch Out for Those Zombie Employees!
  • Employers Must Give Lactation Breaks
  • Motivating Entrepreneurial Employees
  • Doing Cool Things in HR
  • Employers Have Duty to Investigate Under FCRA
  • Question of the Month

We have also provided you with the Form of the Month.

Please click here to view the newsletter in PDF.

Editor’s Column: Should Employers Pay for Employees’ Obesity?

As a result to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) both the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and American Medical Association (AMA) now recognize obesity as a disease that requires medical and psychiatric intervention for prevention and treatment.

In a sense, the medical standard has expanded beyond morbid obesity to include one in three workers! It’s easy to see how the medical and drug community would like to expand their opportunities – and why the obese can be quick to claim that they have a disease for which they bear no responsibility. Combine this level of special interest groups working together with an aggressive EEOC, and you can expect to find many frustrated employers dealing with this issue.

Did you know that binge eating, formerly known as gluttony, is a mental disorder characterized by eating large amounts of food quickly at least once per week for three months? I don’t make this stuff up! How do you accommodate a person who shows up sick the day after one of these binges? Did you know that obesity is a defined primarily by body mass index (BMI), which is a far from accurate indicator of a person’s actual health?

It’s important to ask “Why should I have to accommodate (meaning pay for) an employee’s poor lifestyle choices?” The best justification the AMA could come up with is: “The suggestion that obesity is not a disease, but rather a consequence of a chosen lifestyle exemplified by overeating and/or inactivity is equivalent to suggesting that lung cancer is not a disease because it was brought about by an individual’s choice to smoke cigarettes.” My response is that employers should not have to pay for health consequences of employees who choose to smoke either.

Let’s hope that the EEOC will limit obesity accommodation protection to those who truly have an underlying medical disability and not self-imposed poor choices. Time will tell.

Concerns of Corporate Counsel – Can HR Help?

There is no substitute for HR having a good measure of business acumen. HR That Works Members should watch the Webinars we have done on this subject. A recent issue of Corporate Counsel Magazine gives you some of the risk concerns being addressed by corporate counsel across the country. These concerns include the following:

  1. Managing a recalcitrant board of directors.
  2. Preventing internal scandals, ethical compromises, and SEC violations.
  3. Protecting confidential and proprietary property of the company including patents, trademarks, and more.
  4. Deciding who to hire as outside council – Do they deal with the big firms and pay the big prices or do they play with boutique firms who have lower prices and perhaps greater service?
  5. Managing mergers and acquisitions.
  6. Managing compliance concerns.
  7. Social media exposures.
  8. Affordable Care Act changes.

HR would be wise to have a meeting with their corporate counsel to see what role they can play in developing risk reduction strategies in many of these areas.

Watch Out for Those Zombie Employees!

zombieThe Gallup 2013 Engagement Survey produced its usual morbid results. According to the survey, only 30% of employees are “actively engaged” (care about doing a great job every day). Another 52% are “not engaged” (otherwise known as “zombies”) and 12% are “actively disengaged” (purposely trying to work poorly, sabotage, cheat time, etc.).  In many cases, managers bear the responsibility for these unengaged workers either because they hired the wrong people or failed to provide effective leadership. However, assuming that management did not cause the problem, what can you do to improve the situation?

  1. The Actively Engaged – Learn what makes them tick! Thank them and let them know you love them. Find out how you can hire them at twice the rate. Leverage their enthusiasm to motivate the Zombies
  2. The Zombies – Give them something to be excited about, like a decent paycheck or a great company party. Then provide them with a sense of meaning in their daily work. Offer additional financial incentives.  Manage and coach them actively so they have no choice but to perform. You can also go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site on how to manage Zombies (http://www.cdc.gov/phpr/zombies.htm).
  3. The Actively Disengaged – If they walked off the job would you be upset—or relieved?  In the latter case, make sure you have checks and balances to get them off your bus now! Don’t hesitate to fire these people; the longer you keep them, the greater the risk they pose.

Finally, ask yourself what is motivating or demotivating about your company. Step back and become a keen observer of your own reality.

Employers Must Give Lactation Breaks

feedingThe Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires businesses covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act to allow mothers unpaid break time for nursing their child. All employers are subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act break time requirement unless they have fewer than 50 employees and can demonstrate that compliance would impose an undue hardship. This obligation lasts for at least one year after the child is born.

The law requires the company to provide a suitable location  (other than a bathroom) which is shielded from view and is free from intrusion, permit a reasonable break time given the circumstances, and let the worker take as much break time as she needs to express milk.  However, here’s little guidance on what constitutes a “suitable location” and the length of a “reasonable” break. For example, the Department of Labor suggests two or three 15-minute breaks during an eight-hour shift.  There’s also the matter of tracking for the employee’s time: Is she supposed to clock in and out for every nursing break – or can she coordinate a break with a meal or rest period?

To learn more, go to:

http://www.dol.gov/whd/nursingmothers/faqBTNM.htm, http://www.dol.gov/whd/nursingmothers/, http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs73.htm, http://www.usbreastfeeding.org/LegislationPolicy/ExistingLegislation/tabid/233/Default.aspx, and finally, your BNA State Law Summary on HR That Works.

Motivating Entrepreneurial Employees

In a recent survey for the Inc. 500 Companies, entrepreneurs gave these reasons for wanting to work for themselves:

  1. Entrepreneurship has suited my skills and capabilities:  29%
  2. I wanted to be my own boss:  20%
  3. I had an idea I just had to try:  18%
  4. I wanted financial success:  11%
  5. I admired and wanted to emulate other entrepreneurs:  9 %
  6. Other:  13%

Employers are increasingly challenged to hire quality employees, especially those with an entrepreneurially bent.  The question is: why would somebody with these attributes rather work for you than start their own company? What can your business offer these people that they can’t provide for themselves?

Although some jobs (such as piloting an airliner), require working for a large business, many of today’s fastest-growing companies don’t fall into this category. I believe that today’s most successful companies understand that, instead of controlling people as “employees,” they need to liberate them as co-workers and team members. Ask yourself what you can do to help people do their brightest and best work while working for you.

Doing Cool Things in HR

In November I did a webinar on 10 Cool Things You Can Do to Inspire Your Workforce! In the course of that program I asked three polling questions, the results of which I’d like to share with you.

  1. Docool1 you do any cool videos? There’s an incredible opportunity to use video to help brand your company both for customers and internal purposes. Last month when I spoke to a CEO group and mentioned this opportunity, one of the CEOs (of an Internet marketing company) said that the most popular link clicked on a company’s website is the about link and the ones that get the most attention have videos on that page. When people are thinking about hiring you, working with you, or working for you, they’re going to look at your website. Make sure to have some video on it. Also understand that the video doesn’t have to be super high-end glossy stuff but, more importantly, it has to have the right feel. Have one of the 20-year-olds at your company take out their iPhone, shoot some cool video testimonials of employees talking about why they like working at your company, and then let them upload it to YouTube. You can also use cool videos for training. For example, you could have the entire management team do a very quick 3-minute introduction video that people can watch as part of the orientation process. Fact is, the ideas are endless in this area.
  2. cool2Have you stopped doing an uncool thing lately?
    I’m glad to see that at least 39% of the people said “yes.” Understand this, you cannot have more fun or make more money in your career unless you stop doing the uncool low-value work. This requires discipline. This requires time management. This requires clarity about who you want to be when you grow up and what you want to do when you get there. So again my question to you is: What uncool, low-value work will you stop doing today? How will you delegate it, outsource it, or eliminate it?
  3. Lastly, how much fun do you have at your company? Life’s too short not to have fun. When I do my workshops, I ask people if anybody in the audience doesn’t want to have fun doing their jobs. I then ask them what effort they are making to have fun in the job. Just what would it take to “whistle while you work”? Again, this is about the choices we make. If we choose to have a fun work environment then, guess what? We will have a fun work environment. If 16% of companies can say their workplace is always fun then what’s stopping everyone else? Interestingly, many of the participants wanted to know what companies represented those 16% to they could find out how to get a job there.cool3

Unfortunately, most employees and management view HR as boring. If you want to change that perception then it’s time to start doing something cool and stop doing that which is uncool.

Employers Have Duty to Investigate Under FCRA

Employers may be liable to former employees under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) for failing to investigate a complaint that false or incorrect information was provided to a consumer reporting agency.

courtFacts of the Case: Most employers are aware that they must comply with FCRA’s notice and authorization requirements when they obtain background checks for applicants and employees from a third-party consumer reporting agency. What many do not know, however, is that there are certain obligations that FCRA imposes on employers as to former employees, as illustrated in Maiteki v. Marten Transportation, Ltd. et al.

Three former employers of a truck driver reported inaccurate negative information about the driver’s accident record to a consumer reporting agency. Because of the negative reports, prospective employers refused to hire the driver. When the driver first discovered the inaccurate information, he contacted his former employers and asked them to correct it. He was told by each of them that they would investigate and remove the false reports, but none of them did so. This resulted in further rejections of employment, which caused the driver to repeat his requests to his former employers, again to no effect. He also contacted the consumer reporting agency, which followed up with one former employer. No corrections by the former employers were ever made. The driver then sued each of his former employers under FCRA.

The Court’s Ruling: The federal district court found that FCRA does not provide a cause of action against former employers for providing false or inaccurate information to a consumer reporting agency. If an employer is informed by a consumer reporting agency that there is a dispute about the accuracy or truthfulness of information that they have provided to the agency, however, FCRA does impose an actionable obligation on employers to “conduct an investigation with respect to the disputed information.” In this case, it appears that each of the former employers failed to meet this obligation.

Lessons Learned: Employers should be careful to provide accurate and truthful information about former employees to a consumer reporting agency. (This information may include driving records, licensing, salary, termination information, etc.) In addition, if an employer receives a complaint that the information provided is not correct, it is important for that employer to investigate the complaint and make any necessary corrections promptly.

Article courtesy of Worklaw® Network firm Shawe Rosenthal (www.shawe.com).

Question of the Month

hiring-questionsQ: We have an employee who is interested in joining the Army, and becoming a reservist. Everything I read regarding USERRA appears to apply only to those employees who are already reservists or veterans. Is there any job protected leave/benefits/etc. as it relates to an employee who wants join the armed forces and become a reservist?

A: USERRA prohibits employment discrimination against a person on the basis of past military service, current military obligations, or intent to serve in a “uniformed services”.

Uniformed service includes active duty, active duty for training, inactive duty training (such as drills), initial active duty training, and funeral honors duty performed by National Guard and reserve members, as well as the period for which a person is absent from a position of employment for the purpose of an examination to determine fitness to perform any such duty.

USERRA provides that returning servicemembers are to be reemployed in the job that they would have attained had they not been absent for military service, (the “escalator” principle), with the same seniority, status and pay, as well as other rights and benefits determined by seniority. USERRA also requires that reasonable efforts (such as training or retraining) be made to enable returning servicemembers to qualify for reemployment. If the servicemember cannot qualify for the “escalator” position, he or she must be reemployed, if qualified, in any other position that is the nearest approximation to the escalator position and then to the pre-service position. USERRA also provides that while an individual is performing military service, he or she is deemed to be on a furlough or leave of absence and is entitled to the non-seniority rights accorded other similarly-situated individuals on non-military leaves of absence. The time limits for returning to work are as follows:

  • Less than 31 days service: By the beginning of the first regularly scheduled work period after the end of the calendar day of duty, plus time required to return home safely and an eight hour rest period. If this is impossible or unreasonable, then as soon as possible.
  • 31 to 180 days: The employee must apply for reemployment no later than 14 days after completion of military service. If this is impossible or unreasonable through no fault of the employee, then as soon as possible.
  • 181 days or more: The employee must apply for reemployment no later than 90 days after completion of military service.
  • Service-connected injury or illness: Reporting or application deadlines are extended for up to two years for persons who are hospitalized or convalescing.

Health and pension plan coverage for servicemembers is also addressed by USERRA. Individuals performing military duty of more than 30 days may elect to continue employer sponsored health care for up to 24 months; however, they may be required to pay up to102 percent of the full premium. For military service of less than 31 days, health care coverage is provided as if the servicemember had remained employed. USERRA pension protections apply to defined benefit plans and defined contribution plans as well as plans provided under federal or state laws governing pension benefits for government employees. For purposes of pension plan participation, vesting, and accrual of benefits, USERRA treats military service as continuous service with the employer.

With some exceptions, a service member loses his re-employment rights if his cumulative military service is more than 5 years.  There are important exceptions to the five-year limit, including initial enlistments lasting more than five years, periodic National Guard and Reserve training duty, and involuntary active duty extensions and recalls, especially during a time of national emergency. USERRA clearly establishes that reemployment protection does not depend on the timing, frequency, duration, or nature of an individual’s service as long as the basic eligibility criteria are met.

Online Resources:



Form of the Month

Things To Get Done (PDF) – Use this form at least weekly and perhaps daily to get things done!


Click here to to listen to this month’s newsletter podcast.

REPRINT POLICY: Reprints are welcome! All you have to do is include the following notation with reprinted material:

©2014 Reprinted with permission from HRThatWorks.com, a powerful program designed to inspire great HR practices.

Great HR Executives vs. MOST HR Executives (…and Many Others as Well)

It’s not easy being a great HR executive. Great HR executives are in the top 10% and, by definition, do things differently than most HR executives.

  1. Most HR executives are primarily concerned about protecting their ego. The last thing they want to do is look bad or suffer someone’s judgment. As a result, they play it safe and look to protect the status quo more than anything else. This is how you kill a career and HR HRopportunity by a thousand cuts. Great HR executives know that when you stick your neck out critics are sure to show up! They welcome the feedback and judgment as it is a source of growth.
  2. Most HR executives get stuck in their policies and procedures. They listen to the noise about how they should manage the workforce without stepping back and thinking how such an approach affects the growth of the company. Policies and procedures are necessary and fine so long as they help grow companies, not stymie them. Great HR executives know that these policies and procedures will affect company culture. I have all the HR executives I coach read Gordon MacKenzie’s Orbiting the Giant Hairball. The hairball is a metaphor for policies and procedures. When you orbit, you allow yourself freedom and creativity, so long as it is tethered to the vision, mission, values, and goals of the company.
  3. Most HR executives are deathly afraid of change and trying something new. Anytime I’ve ever coached an HR executive, I do a personality assessment on them. Four out of five times it indicates they are very rules-oriented (see policies and procedures above) and resistant to change. The resistance to change is about some fear that will manifest itself in the future. Typically, it’s related to someone’s judgment should things not work out right (see above).Great HR executives know that growth is about constant change…and they invite it!  So, if you adopt a change and fail, whose judgment are you concerned about and how realistic is your fear? How can you take a safe first step?
  4. Most HR executives keep their fingers crossed and hope for the best. While most HR executives are willing to sacrifice and work long hours, they look to be comfortable. Great HR executives realize that while hard work is a requirement, they realize it’s not the hours that matter, it’s the results that do. Different results require moving out of a comfort zone. As Paulo Coelho reminds us “Only the mediocre are ever truly comfortable.”
  5. Most HR executives will begrudge another’s success. It’s human nature. Like the folks in sales or marketing. It feels unfair that they have more _________than I do (insert words like opportunity, pay, access to leadership, etc). What they won’t do, however, is do what Great HR executives will do to get that success for themselves. If they modeled the behavior of the successful folks they envy, they will in turn be the source of someone else’s envy.
  6. Most HR executives do very little reading or personal growth work. As with most people, their learning ended in school. Few read even a book per year. Maybe they will go to a compliance workshop or two. Great HR executives are non-stop constant learners. They read a couple of books a month, numerous HR and industry-related periodicals, as well as their own personal growth material. Remember, in order to do more, you must become more. You must learn more. It’s very hard to help create a learning organization if you are not a learner yourself.
  7. Most HR executives don’t take care of their health. It always disappoints me how many overweight and out-of-shape people there are in the HR profession (have you been to an HR conference lately?). How can we help our company fight high healthcare costs, high absenteeism, presenteeism, and produce true wellness if those are not our personal habits? Again, great HR executives lead by example and that includes how they manage their health. .
  8. Most HR executives don’t have a plan—either for their department or their career. They are simply winging it and find themselves on constant overwhelm. As Mary Kay famously stated, “Most people plan their vacations better than their career”…and HR executives act like most people. Great HR executives have detailed plans for both their department and career. Do you?
  9. Most HR executives are deathly afraid of stepping out there and making a decision. They destroy themselves with constant second-guessing. Great HR executives know what they stand for, are willing to take risks, and willing to make decisions. They’re also willing to stick their necks out and suffer any judgment that may come with it.
  10. Most HR executives wouldn’t know a financial statement if it hit them in the head (unless of course they came to HR from accounting). Knowing numbers is not what gravitates most people toward the profession. Are you capable of having a robust financial conversation with the CPA, director of operations, or company president? If not, it’ll be very difficult for you to get a seat at the table. Great HR executives know their numbers. You can begin by watching The Accounting Game webinar on HR That Works or by reading the book.
  11. Most HR executives do a terrible job of managing their time. When I ask HR executives what blocks them from being more strategic, 80% of the time the answer is their lack of time. Yet few of these executives spend any time learning how to better manage their time! Only great HR executives do that. We have a great Time Management Training Module on HR That Works. If interested, contact me and I’ll email you a fun book I wrote, The Bathroom Book of Time.

P.S. The above is true not just for HR executives but many others as well. Which kind of executive are you?

January 2014 Compliance and Culture Newsletter

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” –Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)

This issue discusses:

  • Editor’s Column: Think For Yourself
  • Poor Timing for a Termination
  • The Top Three Traits of Outstanding Leaders
  • American CEOs’ View of Human Capital: Room for Improvement
  • California Court Allows a Class Action Wage Claim to Include Independent Contractors Provided by a Leasing Company
  • Your Company’s Exposure When It Provides an Employee with a Vehicle to Use
  • Question of the Month

We have also provided you with the Form of the Month.

Please click here to view the newsletter in PDF.

Editor’s Column: Think For Yourself

You either choose your story for yourself or let others choose it for you. As Don Miguel Ruiz reminded us: we can become domesticated into our stories. This means that they’re often not of our own making. As I say, they are gifted to us. Often these stories are so familiar to us that we are unaware they even exist. They can affect us both good and bad for a lifetime.

It took a revealing experience in my mid-thirties which caused me to become an independent thinker. In a workshop, I had the highest winning score ever in a betting game designed to teach win/win thinking. The only instruction they gave, or would give, was to win as much as you can. There was a guy in the corner with a megaphone continually barking out this instruction to the participants.

I dutifully manipulated the game (as instructed) and won more than anyone else by a large measure. Heck, being a lawyer, the game of manipulation came natural. Of course, this meant I helped generate a number of really bad…and upset… losers. During a group debriefing afterwards, I was asked if I could see that I could have played a win/win game where all participants could prosper. I said sure I could see that, right away in fact, yet I justified my high score by saying “I was only following instruction! Those were the game rules and we lawyers are trained to follow rules. In addition I was raised by a 6’3” Marine Corps Sergeant. (I felt like his last soldier at times.) You better believe I learned about following rules early on in life!”

The facilitator then asked me an insanely powerful question: He said “Do you always listen to the noise?” My brain stopped dead in its tracks. Wow. The noise. Why did I blindly follow instruction? What other rules am I following that are not of my own making? Do they really make sense? As Gurdjieff might ask, “Am I truly an automaton?”

From that day on, I determined to think for myself; to become 100% responsible for my lot in life. I decided that I could no longer do the safe thing, the thing I had trained myself to do, the thing I did so well; but rather to evolve and do what I should do. For 17 years as a plaintiff’s attorney, I had been feeding off the story that litigation was how I could make a difference. When I stopped listening to the noise and reality hit, I had a midlife crisis. I couldn’t live my passion using litigation to actualize it. Nobody wins a lawsuit. There had to be a better way!

Sometimes we question our sanity when reinventing ourselves. Change is fearful even if it is exciting. Will they let me champion this idea I have? Is this new career or business going to survive? Am I going to go bankrupt – again? Will a competitor come along to put me out of business? Do I really want to do this anymore? Am I too inexperienced to do it? Am I nuts?

If you try to do the exact same thing, the exact same way for the next three… or thirty… years, you’ll be guaranteed to turn into that automaton and regret missed opportunities.

Don’t listen to the noise. Don’t let others decide what your story will be. Think for yourself.

Poor Timing for a Termination

The California case Rope v. Auto-Chlor System  reinforces the futility of an employer trying to terminate an employee so as to avoid liability. Plaintiff Scott Rope informed his employer at the time of his hire that he planned to donate a kidney to his physically disabled sister. He had requested to be given leave to do so. He later requested that leave be extended and paid under newly enacted Donations Protection Act, which was to take effect January 1, 2011. Rope was fired two days before the DPA came effective; Auto-Chlor clearly hoping to avoid the 30-day payment obligation. The court agreed that the employer could not be held liable under a law that had not yet taken effect. However, it added that, under the circumstance, Rope had a potential claim, because the disability of his relative was a substantial factor motivating the employer’s decision, otherwise known as “associative discrimination.”

The court cautioned:

“Our holding should not be interpreted as a siren song for plaintiffs who, fearing termination, endeavor to prepare spurious cases by talking up their relationship at work to a person with a disability; such relationships do not, by themselves, give rise to a claim of discrimination. An employer who discriminates against an employee because of the latter’s association with a disabled person is liable even if the motivation is purely monetary. But if the disability plays no role in the employer’s decision, there is no disability discrimination.”

The case was sent back to the lower court to determine whether the plaintiff’s disability or that of his sister played any role in the employer’s decision. If it was purely an economic choice, there was no disability discrimination. (The court indicated that Rope himself did not have a disability as the result of donating a kidney, nor did the company act as if he had one).

The Top Three Traits of Outstanding Leaders

According to the 2013 Inc. 500 CEO survey, the top three attributes of outstanding leaders are trustworthiness, sincerity, and a capacity to inspire. This survey can be viewed as a self-prophecy. Perhaps this is how most of the CEOs view themselves. Of course, they see themselves as trustworthy, sincere, and inspiring. But is that how their employees view them?

According to Inc. magazine, likability was the last of 21 characteristics for making great leaders. In my experience, you don’t have to like a boss to work for him or her, but the chances are you won’t work there very long. However, if you like the boss, you’re likely to stay remain much longer, even if you could make more money elsewhere. To see the survey results, go to http://www.inc.com/magazine/201309/how-the-inc.500-approach-leadership.html

American CEOs’ View of Human Capital: Room for Improvement

In its research report, The Conference Board CEO Challenge 2013, American respondents ranked concerns about operational excellence, government regulation, customer relationships, and innovation above challenges related to human capital (human resources). This fifth-place ranking is the lowest among CEOs surveyed across the world. Let’s think about the role of human resources in all of this:

  1. HR should be directly involved with improving operational excellence by understanding total quality management and similar tools. Bring that same level of excellence to the HR function.
  2. HR should manage government regulation as it relates to human capital. This job is considerably more difficult in states like California and if you have offices abroad. There’s no substitute for audits, surveys, training, and running data to make sure you are meeting these obligations.
  3. The quality of customer relationships depends primarily on how well HR supports the hiring of these employees. HR can also work with the marketing department to brand the importance of great customer service to the workforce.
  4. Finally, HR has to improve its willingness to innovate. Most people view HR as boring, unimaginative, non-innovative, etc. – largely because it’s true. How many HR experiments have you implemented in such areas as of hiring, retention, performance management, generating employee suggestions, and so forth?

This survey tells me that American CEOs continue to undervalue the opportunity in human resources. The challenge for HR professionals is to step up and give these executives a reason to change their minds.

California Court Allows a Class Action Wage Claim to Include Independent Contractors Provided by a Leasing Company

In the California case of Benton v. Telecom Specialist (TMS), the proposed class consisted of approximately 750 cell-phone tower technicians, most of whom were hired and paid by staffing companies that contracted with TMS. The plaintiffs alleged that TMS was the employer of these contracted employees. While the direct employees received an employee handbook which discussed the rest and meal period breaks, the contracted employees may or may not have received an employee handbook from their companies. Of course, all the staffing companies stated that they had “no way of knowing” whether their technicians were taking breaks or working overtime while working on TMS jobs. The court spent a great deal of time discussing recent changes to California meal and break law. That law pretty much states that employees are responsible for taking their meal and rest periods unless they work under severe time constraints or other management direction that precluded them from taking “proper meal and rest periods.”

Even though the employees were contracted for, the Court stated that TMS was a joint employer with the staffing companies and therefore allowed the class action case to move forward. The plaintiffs argued that TMS was required to personally authorize and permit meal and rest periods because it exerted self-control over the technicians’ worksite and the manner which they reported their hours. As a result, TMS may not delegate its meal and rest break obligations or overtime requirements to a co-employer staffing company.

Tips for employers: The bottom line is that if you use contract employees consider yourself responsible for safety obligations, wage and hour obligations, and others. Make sure you’re covered in any agreement and you also have clear personnel practices.

Your Company’s Exposure When It Provides an Employee with a Vehicle to Use

Most employers understand that when an employee is on the job using a company vehicle that they are liable for any of the employee’s tortious actions. The question arises about what is within a scope and course of employment. For example, if they use a company vehicle going to and from work then that is considered in the cost of employment. However, what happens if they take a side trip in the process? That was the case in a lawsuit brought against in the consolidated cases of Halliburton v. Carly Baker. Halliburton supplied Troy Martinez with a pickup truck to drive, allowing him to run personal errands during breaks as well as to and from work. Halliburton had a written policy that company vehicles were not to be used for personal business but could be used to commute between home and work “and make a stop directly enroute for personal reason traveling to and from work.”

On the day in question Martinez left his shift, traveled home where he met his wife and daughter at a car dealership to purchase a vehicle for his wife. The deal fell through and Martinez and his family went to a restaurant and had lunch. Martinez then began a return trip to work. On his way back to work he was involved in an accident causing injuries to six people. Martinez’s pickup went off the pavement, traveled up a mound of dirt in the center divider and was launched into the air, landing in the opposite lanes of the freeway where it collided with the plaintiff’s vehicle. The plaintiff sued Martinez, and Halliburton as his employer, and also Caltrans as being responsible for a dangerous condition of public property that contributed to the accident. Of course all the defendants sued each other for amenity and contribution.

In summarizing the law, the court stated that “the most common, obvious cases in which respondeate superior liability arises are those in which the employee commits a tortious act while performing his or her ordinary duties for the employer at the employer’s place of business. In certain circumstances, the employers are ordinarily reliable for the employee’s tortious act, even if holy unauthorized and without benefit to the employer. An exception is made when an employee has substantially deviated from his duty for personal purposes at the time of the tortious act. While a minor deviation is foreseeable it will not excuse the employer from liability, a deviation from the employee’s duties that are so material or substantial as to amount to a departure from those duties will take the employee’s conduct out of the scope of employment.” For example, when the employee leaves the employer’s premises on a lunch break, to get lunch or run a personal errand and the employee is not engaged in any errand or task for the employer, the employee is not acting within the scope of his or her employment.

Further, if the main purpose of the employee’s activity is still the employer’s business, it does not cease to be within the scope of employment for reasons of personal incidental personal acts, slight delays, or deflections from the most direct route. In this case, the plaintiffs and Caltrans, who sought indemnification from Halliburton, was not able to plead a case as the court ruled that his going to the auto dealership with his family was a substantial deviation from the commute to pursue his own personal business.

What should employer should do:

  1. First of all, make sure you have full auto coverage for any employees who use any of their or your vehicles as part of their work activities.
  2. Secondly, have a policy that makes it very clear that the employees are not entitled to engage in substantial deviations from their commute to work with the company owned vehicles.
  3. Make sure anybody driving their vehicle on work time or your vehicles during work time has a clean driving record as well as sufficient insurance on any personal vehicle used for work purposes.

Question of the Month

Do you have a comprehensive list of which laws wireless device laws apply in which states?

We don’t, at least not structured like that.  If the state has such a law it can found on the BNA State Law Summary for example here is a screen shot from the California summary.

However, I did some digging and found two good resources:  http://www.lawireless.com/cephlawbyst.html and http://drivinglaws.aaa.com/laws/distracted-driving/. There may be helpful info here too http://www.distraction.gov/

Form of the Month

Annual HR Game Plan Worksheet (PDF) – This is the year to commit to a constant HR improvement process! Take on one strategic objective per month.


Click here to to listen to this month’s newsletter podcast.

REPRINT POLICY: Reprints are welcome! All you have to do is include the following notation with reprinted material:

©2014 Reprinted with permission from HRThatWorks.com, a powerful program designed to inspire great HR practices.

An HR Career Story

career-storyOnce upon a time there was an HR executive that really wanted to make a difference. For herself and the company. Over time she looked for unique strategies, tools, and motivation. One day a friend told her about what she felt was the best HR program ever—HR That Works. Because of the referral she signed up for a 30-day free trial and began digging around in the program. She quickly realized that HR That Works was different. It wasn’t just about what companies can’t do with employees; it was as much about the opportunity that lies in great HR. She understood the potential power of the HR That Works program and became a subscribing member.

Over the following year she took on a new strategic initiative monthly. She followed the HR That Works approach, including giving her CEO monthly progress reports. Fellow managers began to view her as a true resource and no longer called her the Dept. of No. Until finally one day, her CEO came to her and told her that she’s really picked up her HR game and without her having to ask, offered her congratulations… and a raise.

The End.


December 2013 Compliance and Culture Newsletter

“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with pain-staking excellence.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

This issue discusses:

  • Editor’s Column: 24 Recent Thoughts and Statements
  • Does Telecommuting Work?
  • A New HR Story
  • Holiday Party Reminders & Religious Accommodation
  • Managing Outrageously
  • Random Thoughts About the Future of Work
  • Question of the Month

We have also provided you with the Form of the Month.

Please click here to view the newsletter in PDF.

Editor’s Column: 24 Recent Thoughts and Statements

I do a lot of reading. Here are some thoughts inspired by the latest round:

  1. No person who produces from the heart will go for naught.
  2. Career success requires both inner and external engineering.
  3. As the scope of your life becomes bigger, less will be under your control.
  4. “I will be happy….. when” is meaningless. Be happy now!
  5. Comfort is an illusion if sought from the outside. Do you want to be comfortable or awesome?
  6. To map your career path, askWhere can I help the most people with the least amount of energy?”
  7. When overwhelmed by information, we lose clarity of thought, which comes in the spaces between information – yet another reason to meditate.
  8. Do you identify with your limitations – and let them define you?
  9. Have these “limitations” blocked you from career success?
  10. Personal peace is about our internal chemistry. All happiness, despair, and other human experiences have a biochemical basis.
  11. Every person is an energy field functioning at different levels of capability.
  12. How loyal, engaged, and awesome do you want your people to be?
  13. You can’t bullshit yourself into wellbeing.
  14. Situations don’t make you – they expose you.
  15. Use time off to reward employees.
  16. Personality comes from the word persona, which in Greek drama meant a “mask.” Like a mask our personality is a construct – a story we tell ourselves about ourselves.
  17. All creativity is an imitation of nature.
  18. Conduct scavenger hunts, field trips, lunch-and-learns, suggestion meetings, crossword puzzles, jeopardy games, volunteer projects, blood donations, fun clubs, etc.
  19. If people feel good, they will ______________.
  20. Over-committed heroes end up becoming martyrs. Avoid this behavior pattern!
  21. Can you be peaceful where you are or must you go someplace to feel that way?
  22. HR’s focus on the negative does a disservice to human wellbeing.
  23. Work doesn’t cause stress; your reaction to it does.
  24. Have a plan for where you and your business will evolve.

Does Telecommuting Work?

In early 2013 Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer decided to eliminate telework, with an eye towards innovation and collaboration. “Some of the best insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people and impromptu meetings,” said EVP of People and Development Jackie Reses, adding that “speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home.” Best Buy also announced it was canceling its Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) program, largely supported by telecommuters.

Many believe that occasional telecommuting allows people to deal with one-time events and promotes a less stressful work environment – however, it comes with a price!

To learn more about the pros and cons of this issue, check our Telecommuting That Works Training Program, which includes checklists, policies, forms, and a training video. If you don’t have access to HR That Works send an email to don@hrthatworks.com and I’ll email you a copy of the report.

A New HR Story

Once upon a time, HR was viewed as a boring corporate wasteland “Oh no! Sally got transferred into the HR department… her career is over. Poor Sally!” Even though companies hired, managed, and fired people all the time, management still saw HR as an administrative backwater.

That view gradually changed. Books such as Good to Great helped owners and managers understand that hiring great people was essential for greatness; and that to do so required strategic initiative. They began seeing they couldn’t rely on yesterday’s performance management approaches, created in an industrial era, when working primarily with knowledge workers. Managers such as Jack Welch, Herb Kelleher, Howard Schultz, James Sinegal, and Tony Hsieh used a strategic HR approach to build great companies – GE, Southwest Airlines, Starbucks, Costco, and Zappos. The result: cutting-edge executives and managers realized that HR provided a competitive advantage.

Then the recession struck – and management neglected HR to concentrate on survival and building productivity. When the economy began recovering, valuable employees moved on to greener pastures, either working for themselves or for a company where they could feel fully engaged. Once again, businesses became desperate to reduce turnover and find good hires.

Tomorrow’s successful companies will win the talent wars by attracting and challenging the best, brightest, and most productive employees to grow and innovate for themselves and their employer. This shift in culture will have the unintended effect of reducing workers comp, employment practices, cyber-liability, and other insurance exposures – with HR helping lead the way.

Businesses will see HR as a strategic resource that’s as essential as sales, operations, and finance. That’s the new HR story.

Holiday Party Reminders & Religious Accommodation

Eggnog, latkes, old friends, parties – and a lot of beveraging! HR That Works wishes you a safe and happy holiday season! As the host of your company party, you have a legal obligation to make sure that attendees get home safe. Here’s our list of tips to help you meet this responsibility:

  • Make party attendance voluntary.
  • Hire bartenders trained to spot and handle intoxicated revelers.
  • Provide non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Give each guest a limited number of drink tickets, instead of an open bar.
  • Serve filling food – not just chips and pretzels – whenever alcohol is available.
  • Cut off alcohol service at least an hour before the party ends.
  • Stop serving intoxicated guests immediately; don’t wait until they’re ready to leave.
  • Never ask an apparently impaired guest if they’re able to drive home – they aren’t.
  • Provide a taxi service for guests who require or request it.
  • Have a friend or family member pick up intoxicated guests.
  • Arrange for discounted rooms at the event location or a nearby hotel.

Finally, have a fun party. Think like good ‘ol Mr. Fezziwig!

Accommodating Religious Needs

The holiday season is an ideal time to focus on religious accommodation in in the workplace. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on religion. We’ve seen more of these claims in recent years, with thousands of claims filed in 2012. Unsurprising, many of these cases include allegations of discrimination based national origin (i.e. someone claims discrimination because they’re of Arab origin, as well as Muslim).

The EEOC offers this definition of “religion:”

“In most cases, whether or not a practice or a belief is religious is not an issue. However, the EEOC defines religious practices to include moral or ethical beliefs as to what’s right and wrong, which are sincerely held with the strength of traditional, religious views. The fact that no religious group espouses such beliefs, or that the religious group to which the individual professes to belong might not accept such belief, will not determine whether the belief is a religious belief of the employee or prospective employee. The phrase ‘religious practices’ includes both religious observances and practices.” Also, bear in mind that:

  • It’s unlawful for an employer to fail to accommodate reasonably the religious practices of an employee or prospective employee, unless the employer demonstrates that accommodation will mean undue hardship in conducting its business.
  • An employer may not ask about an employee’s religious background unless justified by business necessity.”

For more information on religious expression in the workplace, check out: 1) EEOC guidelines and FAQS on religious discrimination: 2) an EEOC memo on accommodating religious expression; and 3) religious accommodation practices at the University of Missouri ( a great education, period).

Managing Outrageously

I recently read an updated version of the book Marketing Outrageously by Jon Spoelstra. What I would like to focus on is a chapter in that book entitled Employees to Kill For. Anyplace that Spoelstra worked he pretty much followed the Southwest Airlines formula:

  1. Treat your employees fairly, inspire them and let them try outrageous things and they will work harder and smarter, more caringly, more outrageously, and they will not leave the company.
  2. This in turn will cause customers to love your company, because it has such happy employees, buying more, tell their friends about the outrageous company, and bring in new customers who will buy even more.
  3. This will in turn pleases shareholders and owners because of the increased buying, lower costs, higher profits, and more.

This is one of the things that drives me nuts about HR more than anything else—they have the opportunity to drive this initiative, which will in fact generate increased profits—yet few do! A few of Spoelstra’s ideas are as follows:

  1. Create a fun employee handbook. As I’ve often stated, we treat customers and clients in color but our employees in black and white. There’s no reason you can’t get your graphics folks to work on your employee handbook, no matter the size of your company. See the excellent example of the San Gabriel Valley YMCA employee handbook housed on HR That Works.
  2. Provide a free education. Spoelstra would typically pay half or more of an employee’s tuition no matter what subject they wished to study. If they wanted gardening lessons they’d pay for it. Golf lessons, they’d pay for it. The increase in self-esteem and energy this generated for employees more than paid for itself.
  3. Have a no miss policy. If you surround yourself with people who have a great work ethic, you don’t want to have them miss important family events. When he ran the New Jersey Nets, employees were not allowed to let work cause them to miss important functions. If they wanted to miss them for reasons of their own that was okay but they could not use work as an excuse.
  4. Forced vacations – Spoelstra was not a big fan of employees building up a vacation bank. He required them to use their vacation. They could not spend their vacation time at work and while they were on vacation they couldn’t phone in, not even once.
  5. A six-week paid sabbatical after working three years. The only requirement is they have to propose to do something a little more interesting than sitting on the beach, like helping out a nonprofit cause.
  6. Help people in negotiating their next job – Odds are your employees won’t be working for you forever. Spoelstra realized that there are times when it’s in an employee’s best interest to move on and it’s in the company’s best interest to help them do so in a constructive way. As he would explain to young staffers, “Because a lot of you are quickly developing valuable skills, other teams will want to steal you away. That’s okay. We don’t want to lose you, but we know each of you has your own career. If you can take a giant step along the career path with another team, we’ll help you. When another team approaches you, let us know; if it’s something you want to do, we’ll help you negotiate the best deal. We don’t want to lose you, but if we have to, we don’t want it to be for a piddling amount of money. We want you to get a lot more money and a lot more responsibility when you leave.”

There’s a reason why Spoelstra was able to turn around every single organization he ever went to and make himself quite wealthy in the process. And, there’s absolutely no reason why these insights can’t be applied at your company.

Random Thoughts About the Future of Work

  1. Years ago Buckminster Fuller surmised in his book The Critical Path that because of computer and robot technology we would arrive at a place where few of us had to go to work. This is similar to predictions made at the beginning of the manufacturing age. Fact is, instead of being liberated from work we figure out more and more things to do with our free time and then create an economy to support those activities. What these robots are doing is helping to eliminate the middle class!
  2. We’ll continue to spend less and less time making things and more time servicing people. The greatest expansion of service will be in healthcare and technology utilization.
  3. Companies will be ever more transparent. Everything from leadership practices, hiring methodologies, performance management approaches, guiding values, financial numbers, you name it, will be readily available to the public. Even if you’re a private company.
  4. The amount of information/data we’ll face in only a few years is expected to more than quadruple. It is impossible for any one of us to keep up with the vast amount of information today, never mind the quadrupling of it. What will be important is identifying which information is most critical to your success and then finding out the best way to obtain that information. Think of it, for thousands of years, civilization had a very limited sources of information be it word of mouth, stone tablets, or daily newspapers. Only 50 years ago we had twenty a.m. radio stations, three TV stations, and a handful of papers to learn from. Now the information is limitless and, like the universe, tends to expand on itself.
  5. Most of the growth economy will be built around the edges making an already good human existence that much better. Of course there will be poverty, simply because of circumstances or how people choose to think about themselves. There will be two classes of workers, those who produce, manage, publish, analyze and apply information, and those people who service those people who do. There will be two social classes, the educated information class and the uneducated service class. Governments will be there to close the financial gap between the two requiring additional taxation on the haves. The last thing anyone wants is rioting in the streets.
  6. The workforce will continue to look different. As the 2012 election bore out, the country’s demographics are rapidly changing. Older, multi-racial, more women in power. Yesterday’s Mitt Romney image of the executive is changing in light of today’s realities.

These are some of the fundamental changes coming our way. The opportunity is to embrace and exploit these changes, and not react to or get run over by them.

Question of the Month

hiring-questionsWhat kind of limitations can I put on an employee that smokes? Not just at the office, but if an employee is going to a customer’s house?

You can tell an employee that they can’t smoke on jobs, driving in your vehicles, at the office, etc. They can smoke on breaks and at lunch, if away from work or in a designated area. Here’s a good summary of the law in California.

Form of the Month

25 Benefits of Good Health (PDF) – This document lists a variety of benefits from maintaining a healthy lifestyle. We’d blow it up and place in the lunchroom so your employees see it every day!


Click here to listen to this month’s newsletter podcast.

REPRINT POLICY: Reprints are welcome! All you have to do is include the following notation with reprinted material:

©2013 Reprinted with permission from HRThatWorks.com, a powerful program designed to inspire great HR practices.

What’s Most Important to CEOs

A snapshot of what a recent group of CEO’s told me is most important to them:


Here’s my quick question: Do you think the HR folks at these companies know what the most important HR concerns are of their owners? Do you know what is most important to your owners?

Great vs. Average Employees

Which type of employee do you have working for you? Alternatively, which type are YOU?

How Much Reading Are You Doing?

I recently received a marketing email from SHRM (no surprise there) on the top 50 books for HR practitioners. Below is a quick description of those books. Let me discuss the main categories addressed and share my thoughts.

  • Change management
  • Performance management
  • Dealing with poor performers
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Compliance auditing
  • Compliance in general
  • Employee handbook templates
  • Managing new supervisors
  • Motivation and team building
  • Understanding the math of HR

Each of the above is a critical HR function at any sized company. Most of our Members have between 15-500 employees and don’t have the large HR departments many of these books are aimed at. All of these bases are covered on HR That Works. For example, there are webinars on change management, performance management, emotional intelligence, managing new supervisors, how to be strategic and know numbers (hint: take a look at the Cost Calculator). There is everything you will ever need for compliance, including the BNA State Law Summaries. Of course we have a great employee handbook template and a deal with the Worklaw® Network attorneys to help you go final for only $997.

Perhaps the single most important program on HR That Works is the Time Management one. It is the biggest thing stopping any executive from adding more value and growing in their career. Know this: You can’t add more value until you STOP doing low value work. This requires discipline, confidence, and the ability to delegate or say “no”.

My suggestion: If you wish to move beyond the ordinary, spend at least one hour each week reading a report, watching a webinar, implementing a strategic HR tool, etc. If you ever get stuck, give me a call. Here’s to your continued learning and growth.


Transformative HR: How Great Companies Use Evidence-Based Change for Sustainable Advantage
This book demonstrates how some of the world’s most admired and prominent organizations are redefining HR leadership by using evidence-based change to inform human capital

Nine Minutes on Monday: The Quick and Easy Way to Turn Managers into Leaders
The No. 1 reason why managers fail to increase productivity and get the best out of their people is they neglect to keep their leadership priorities in front of them.

The Crowdsourced Performance Review
With The Crowdsourced Performance Review, you’ll create a review system that gathers the feedback of many, so you can make better, more informed decisions.

Emotional Intelligence 2.0
This “other kind of smart” is the No.1 predictor of success, both personally and professionally. This book helps readers identify their emotional intelligence and turn their skills into strengths.

Auditing Your Human Resources Department, 2nd edition
Business units everywhere, and especially human resource departments, are under the gun to prove their effectiveness and strategic value. Now you can accurately gauge how well you’re doing with this new edition of Auditing Your Human Resources Department. The comprehensive guide walks readers through a rigorous, in-depth self-assessment process that is far less costly and intimidating than an outside audit.

Harassment: Sex, Religion and Beyond
This popular training series brings this message home, showing that bad behavior is not OK—whether it applies to sex, religion or anything beyond.

New Supervisor Training
New Supervisor Training will enable you to help up-and-coming supervisors make the transition from individual contributor to leader.

The HR Answer Book, 2nd edition
Written in question-and-answer format, this essential reference book addresses more than 200 areas of concern and provides insight into real HR situations. Includes ready-to-use tools!

Create Your Own Employee Handbook, 6th edition
This book and CD-ROM provide information and policies all managers, HR professionals and business owners need to create their own reader-friendly guide, no matter what state they are in.

How to Deal with Annoying People
The world is filled with annoying people, but there is hope and help! Churches, individuals, couples, employees and managers will benefit from this look at personality styles and close, sometimes conflicted, interaction.

The Essential Guide to Workplace Investigations, 3rd edition
The new edition of this best-selling book documents the 10 steps to legally and successfully investigate and resolve any type of workplace complaint or problem.

Creative Onboarding Programs
Fully updated with new case studies of best practices from successful companies, this book helps employees do their best work from the minute they first walk in the door.

101 Sample Write Ups for Documenting Employee Performance Problems, 2nd edition
This bestseller, with CD-ROM, covers dozens of problems likely to occur in the workplace, and the 101 samples help you generate a corrective action notice.

2600 Phrases for Effective Performance Reviews
This book puts the right words at your fingertips, with ready-to-use phrases, action items and descriptions you can use to evaluate performance, prepare development plans and more

The Definitive Guide to HR Communication: Engaging Employees in Benefits, Pay, and Performance
Two experienced HR communications consultants show how to dramatically improve the effectiveness of every HR message.

Got a Minute? The 9 Lessons Every HR Professional Must Learn to Be Successful
Designed to help HR professionals deal with challenging employees in the workplace, this best-selling book presents several real-life stories of employee behavior within a broad range of circumstances

Tweet This! Twitter for Business
This handy guide offers basic instruction as well as advanced networking and marketing strategies for consultants, entrepreneurs and small-business owners.

Human Resource Essentials: Your Guide to Starting and Running the HR Function, 2nd edition
From staffing, training, and performance management to compensation and benefits and policy creation and review, this best-seller offers the information needed to design, run and manage the HR function

Reality-Based Leadership: Ditch the Drama, Restore Sanity to the Workplace and Turn Excuses Into Results
Expert Fast Company blogger Cy Wakeman reveals how to be the kind of leader who changes the way people think about and perceive their circumstances without drama or defensiveness.

You’re Not That Great: A Motivational Book
Psychologist and leadership coach Dr. Daniel Crosby offers You’re Not that Great as an anecdote to the saccharine self-help books that promote happiness and self-esteem at the expense of personal integrity. Arguing against complacency, Crosby encourages his readers to consider rules for successful living that are based on the pursuit of excellence rather than the assumption of it.

Leadership Training
Leadership Training shows you how to integrate 10 key leadership competencies to create leadership training programs that get results. Companion CD-ROM included.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
Leaders and teams alike turn to The Five Dysfunctions of a Team for additional tools and materials to bring the dysfunctions to life on their own teams and organizations.

High-Impact Interview Questions
This book shows you how to use competency-based behavioral interviewing methods that will uncover truly relevant and useful information.

The Essential Guide to Family & Medical Leave, 3rd edition
This book provides information and forms you need to comply with the FMLA and answers vital questions such as “Who qualifies for leave?” and “How much leave can employees take?”

HR Transformation: Building Human Resources from the Outside In
Named as BusinessWeek’s No. 1 Management Educator, expert Dave Ulrich and his team of authors bring human resources a whole new way of thinking and practicing — moving the focus from internal issues to actively helping to set business strategies. Businesses of the future need “all hands on deck” when implementing new ways to stimulate growth and cost-efficiency, and this includes human resources.

New Employee Orientation Training
A flexible, icon-driven format and dozens of worksheets, exercises, handouts and assessments allow you to develop customized new employee training. Includes companion CD-ROM

Business-Focused HR: 11 Processes to Drive Results
Business-Focused HR provides the tools for HR leaders and people managers across the organization to become more business-focused with the processes that they execute.

From Hello to Goodbye: Proactive Tips for Maintaining Positive Employee Relations
The lessons provided in this best-selling book will make you more proactive and prepared, and will reinforce the fact that a successful last day of work begins on that very first day of work.

Aligning Human Resources and Business Strategy, 2nd edition
Approved for Strategic Credit
Learn how to strengthen the relationship between people strategy and business success through your approach to performance and development, and impress at the highest levels.

Lean HR: Introducing Process Excellence to Your Practice
Lean principles have been used for years in the manufacturing world, and have started to make an impact in the office as well. These tools can provide the foundation to building a systematic approach to improving your HR practice and lowering costs.

Supervisor’s Guide to Labor Relations
This booklet outlines in practical language the do’s and don’ts of avoiding unfair labor practices during an organizing campaign.

Becoming the Evidence-Based Manager: Making the Science of Management Work for You
This book covers a wide range of critical people management skills, such as hiring, inspiring, training, developing, motivating and coaching. Readers gain a thorough understanding of how to put the science of management to work for themselves and their organizations.

180 Ways to Spread Contagious Enthusiasm
This handbook gives you 180 morale-boosting ideas to help you bring more caring, communication, respect, and appreciation to the place where you work.

Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Employees Want
Studies confirm that career development is the most powerful tool managers have for driving retention, engagement, productivity and results. This book identifies the tools you need.

The Essential Guide to Federal Employment Laws, 4th edition
The new edition of this best-selling guide covers 20 of the most important federal employment laws, including the FLSA, the FMLA and the ADA, and provides plain-language explanations of what each law allows and prohibits; which businesses must comply; record-keeping, posting and reporting requirements; penalties for violating the law; and more.

301 Ways to Have Fun at Work
301 Ways to Have Fun at Work offers a complete resource anyone can use to create a dynamic workplace that encourages and inspires fun-and-games camaraderie among employees.

Dealing with Problem Employees, 6th edition
Filled with proven techniques and effective solutions for managing problem employees, this book covers a broad range of topics — from avoiding bad hires to legally firing workers who won’t improve.

A Necessary Evil: Managing Employee Activity on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn … and the Hundreds of Other Social Media Sites
This first-of-its-kind people management book will help managers guide employees in their use of social media sites while balancing productivity, and it will help HR professionals set policies that do both.

The Employer’s Legal Handbook: Manage Your Employees and Workplace Effectively
This guide shows you how to comply with the most recent workplace laws and regulations, run a safe and fair workplace, and avoid lawsuits.

Employment Law: The Essential HR Desk Reference
As a human resources professional, it’s important to have quick access to the information you need to do your job. Employment Law: The Essential HR Desk Reference is an all-in-one, easy-to-read guide every HR pro should have handy.

The Job Description Handbook, 3rd edition
This all-in-one resource can help you create HR documents that provide the details of every job’s duties, requirements, qualifications and much more. Includes a CD-ROM.

Social Media Strategies for Professionals and Their Firms
Social Media Strategies for Professionals and Their Firms shows professionals and marketers a new approach to familiar marketing tactics, and it offers step-by-step instructions on how to put social media to work for your professional practice.

Perfect Phrases Series
Packed with hundreds of handy phrases, these quick-reference guides can be real lifesavers — on the job, at school, anywhere.

The Power of Stay Interviews for Engagement and Retention
“In today’s world, employees are such an important asset to the success of any business. Every employee who voluntarily leaves their company is a financial and cultural loss to the organization. Retention has become such a burning issue for so many companies. The author reminds us that it’s not rocket science, there is no silver bullet, it simply comes down to knowing what makes an employee want to stay one person at a time, and holding managers accountable for doing so.” — Lisa Doyle, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, St. David’s HealthCare

How to Measure Human Resource Management
The basic methodology in this book enable you to objectively evaluate all your HR activities including staff planning, pay and benefits systems, employee and labor relations, HRIS services, and more!

Up, Down and Sideways: High-Impact Verbal Communication for HR Professionals
This book was written to help HR practitioners — at all levels — become better verbal communicators, thereby making them better at their jobs and more valuable to their companies.

The Performance Appraisal Handbook
The Performance Appraisal Handbook is a must-read for every manager, whether you’re writing a performance review for the first time or the hundredth.

The HR Scorecard
HR’s strategic role begins with designing an HR architecture — the HR function, the HR system, and strategic employee behaviors — that emphasizes and reinforces the implementation of the firm’s strategy.

Handbook of Compensation and Benefits Formulas
In the past three decades, the world of compensation and benefits has experienced a revolution. And, while the role of today’s total rewards professionals has become more strategic and business oriented, some fundamentals of the job will always hold true. One such fundamental is math. In this “Handbook of Compensation and Benefits Formulas,” World at Work Press has combined two of its most popular math-oriented resources: “Calculate This!” and “Excel Tips,” a collection of nearly 100 columns.

Here’s What Can Happen When You Hire the Wrong Employee

You know things are bad when the court’s decision regarding a lawsuit filed by a former employee begins as gavel1follows:

“Plaintiff Quincey Gerald Keeler filed this pro se lawsuit, his seventh, against Defendant ARAMARK alleging twenty-five claims of various, and occasionally fictitious, forms of wrongful termination, defamation, and conspiracy to commit civil wrongs and torts.”

Turns out Mr. Keeler’s lawsuit campaign began in 2008 and five years later they are still being dragged through the courts.  Apparently Mr. Keeler became hostile when “he believed ARAMARK was retaliating against him by declining to offer him overtime shifts and by not featuring him as an ‘Employee of the Month’.” Concerned about his threats and intimidation he was terminated.

Only good news is that Mr. Keeler’s case was kicked out of court on a Summary Judgment motion and according to the court “Keeler specifically represents that ‘This is the last and final Keeler v. ARAMARK case.'” One can only hope so.

To read Quincey Gerald Keeler v. ARAMARK, click here.