Thursday, January 23, 2014

What a one Hour Consultation Can Do For You!

I offer a free one-hour consultation and I have a hunch that some business owners don’t take me up on it for one simple reason: they are afraid of what I might find out. They think it will be as painful as going to the dentist but instead of me asking “How often do you floss?” I will ask “How often do you check references or backgrounds on your new hires?”

Of course, when the dentist asks his or her question we usually wince and weakly say “I don’t.” The sad truth is that oftentimes, the answer would be the same for my question, too. The dentist then goes into all the benefits of flossing and gives us instructions and free floss before we leave. Then we have the freedom to take his or her advice and start a new healthier habit that will help prevent tooth decay. That is exactly what I do during my one hour consultation—give you instruction (and in many cases, the tools) to use to start a new healthier HR practice which will possibly prevent the “decay” of your workforce.

The main areas I examine during a consultation are:

Hiring Practices

Looking at your turnover and the reasons for it, making sure your job descriptions are up to date and truly reflect the job duties and qualifications needed for the job, having a legally compliant employment application, having proper screening questions, having behavior based interview questions, ensuring you are meeting equal opportunity requirements and retaining appropriate documentation on applications and much, much more.

Policies and Procedures 

Depending on the size and type of your organization, policies and procedures help ensure a safe and productive work environment. They also spell out your expectations. By reviewing your handbook or talking about how you handle such things as absences, employee conduct, safety, customer service, break time, overtime, holidays and vacations, I can offer solutions to keep you and your employees happy and productive.

Compliance with federal and state laws

Again, depending on the size of your organization, there are federal and state laws concerning employees that you are required to comply with. I review the laws that apply to your business and give you cost effective and streamlined ways to comply. After our consultation it is up to you to decide if the value of having me as your virtual HR advisor is beneficial to your organization. One hour with me—while seemingly scary at first—is much easier than an hour in the dentist chair and much less costly!

Stop putting it off – call today to schedule your free one hour consultation!


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Are you working to prevent employee walk-outs?

In 2013 more than seven cities saw groups of workers go on strike demanding a "living wage" of $15 per hour. While these strikes were short lived, it makes me wonder what 2014 will bring. In Arizona our minimum wage increased to $7.90 on January 1, 2014. Would your business survive if it rose to $15 an hour in 2015?

Are you at risk for employees walking out?

The majority of striking employees last year were in the fast food, retail and home healthcare industries. These jobs were once considered temporary or transitional as they used to primarily employ inexperienced or new to the work force workers. Over the last two years a full 43% of net employment growth came from these industries. It appears these jobs once considered "temporary or transitional" jobs are now becoming careers for a lot of people nationwide. Representatives for the food service industry argue that raising wages would ultimately hurt workers since increasing wages would lead to a scaling back of hours, and less hiring in our yo-yo economy. Based on what my clients are telling me, I would have to agree. If your company is at risk there are other less expensive and more cost effective ways to keep employees happy and productive.

The key to happy employees? Knock their socks off. 

Here are a few tips from an article from

  • Family Days – When kids have a half day of school, family days allow employees to take a day off without having to use up vacation or sick days.
  • Yoga classes or chair massages – Bring in a yoga instructor or massage therapist once a week.Either one is inexpensive and will help relax your employees and lower stress levels.
  • Movie days – A group movie outing or free movie passes can be a pleasant perk.For the sake of variety, you might also consider an outing to see a community theater group.
  • Free car washes – The latest in “express exterior” car washes costs around $5 per wash, meaning for $100, you could give 20 employees a shiny car every few months.
  • Fun and games – One Minnesota e-business has both foosball table and pool table in their break room. Ping pong or pinball machines are also good possibilities.
  • Pass the perks – Companies often accrue perks by using corporate credit cards, such as airline miles or tickets to events.Pass these free perks along to your employees.
While an increase in wages is always at the top of an employee’s wish list, implementing some ideas like these may keep your employees off the picket line while protecting your bottom line at the same time.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Employee Relations: Is there an "app" for that?

Today’s technology 

Phones can do a lot of things – we can stay in constant communication with friends and family, pay our bills, translate our words into a foreign language, navigate around an unfamiliar city, read a book or play a game. Phones aren’t just phones any more – they are cameras, audio recorders, car starters, metal detectors, leveling tools and much, much more.

In business, phones are spell checkers and research tools, calculators and typewriters, calendars and schedulers, PowerPoint remotes and laser pointers. There are even applications that help you hire and staff, track production or sales and even market your products and services.

We’ve become so enmeshed in technological applications that we don’t do much without our phones.

Employee relations: is there an “app” for that? 

With technological advances, you may wonder, “Will there ever be an ‘app’ for employee relations?” I define employee relations as face to face, honest, open communication and performance feedback between an employee and their manager/supervisor. Employee relations also involves the synergy (or lack of) a company’s whole workforce and their understanding and adherence to rules, regulations, policies and procedures and actual work practices within an organization.

Recently I worked with two organizations that were struggling with employee relations issues.Their situations are similar in that the employees of both organizations are looking for consistency, fairness and a good place to work. The heads of each organization are too focused on reducing expenses, remaining profitable and just surviving, ignoring employees’ concerns or how reductions or recent change may have wreaked havoc on the workplace. Employee relations boil down to one thing: communication, communication, communication.

Improving employee relations the old-fashioned way 

How can an employer improve employee relations? First, periodically solicit (anonymously and without fear of retribution) employee opinions on the working environment of the organization. Ask specific questions about the benefits you offer, policies, processes and supervisory relationships. There are a variety of services you can use, but customizing an electronic survey using Survey Monkey is quite cost effective. Using the information you gather from the survey, own up to areas of needed improvement, then develop an action plan and follow through with those plans to address employee concerns.

The communication process involves trust. If you don’t follow through on your word, you’ll never have your employees’ trust. 

Secondly, meet regularly with your employees to announce changes, show appreciation and provide reminders of important issues and processes. This is like spending quality time with your kids. By publically agreeing to hold each other accountable for needed change, it solidifies the relationship and encourages a deeper level of commitment that leads to higher levels of productivity.

Finally, you or your managers (depending on how large your organization is) should also meet individually with employees and give them feedback on their individual performance and contribution to the organization. These talks should also reinforce job expectations and performance levels, as well as give employees an opportunity to ask specific and direct questions of you or their supervisor.

Use technology wisely 

In instances when you can’t meet face to face, use technology and send well thought out e-mails or use Face Time (for I-phone users), or Skype, Tango or Fring (for Android smart-phone users) to give specific, encouraging organizational information.

Technology is great and I never thought I’d hear myself saying “I love my phone,” but I do. Time will tell if an “app” will ever take the place of face to face, honest, open communication between an employee and their employer. In a way, I hope it never does. After all – it’s just a phone.

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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Let's Ring In the New Year

It’s my first post of the new year and—surprise!—I’m not going to talk about procrastination (which is clearly one of my favorite blog topics). I actually want to talk about the second-most popular topic for the New Year: CHANGE.

I’m not talking about changes you want to see in the economy, government laws or practices. I’m referring to changes that may be going on in your workplace that you may not yet be aware of.

Do you know your employees?

While the people in your workplace may seem to be mostly happy and productive employees, keep in mind that the pool of applicants we draw from for hiring is changing. That means that employee needs, goals and desires are changing.

Statistics show that:
  • Since 2011 about 8,000 people are turning 65 every DAY and this trend will continue until 2029.
  • Young people are transitioning into the workforce and earning money at a much later age than young adults 30 years ago.  
  • The age at which young adults are hitting median wage earnings has increased from 26 to 30 between 1980 and 2012.
  • Government projects suggest that Immigrants will account for as much as half of the net population growth over the next few decades.
  • The number of women in the workforce with children under 6 rose from 63% in 2005 to 68% in 2011.
  • Employee longevity is staying fairly flat within the private sector with the median years of tenure at 4.2 years.

Your employees are changing—are you?

This means that in order to stay with you as an employer, your happy and productive workers need and want more flexible schedules and time off due to health issues, family commitments or other outside interests.  Retirement, health savings accounts or other long term savings plans may be important to people as they move to different jobs for various reasons.  

The fact is, workers feel more valued and tend to stay longer with employers who offer benefits that better fit their needs. 

Give me a ring

As I mentioned earlier, I want to “talk” about these changes. That’s “HR speak” for “I don’t have all the answers.” But I am a creative HR consultant that can help look at your company’s situation and give you some creative solutions.  So let’s talk. Email me or give me a ring in the new year.

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