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January 31, 2014

Did You Know . . . HRN Can Profile Your Candidates?

Filed under: General HR Buzz,Hiring & Jobs10:38 am

Did you know . . .

  • 46% of new hires fail within 18 months?
  • Technical skills are not the primary reason for failure?
  • 30% of job applications contain false information?
  • 17% of employees fail because they lack the necessary motivation to excel?

People will only let you see what they want you to see. Much like an iceberg, what you do not see is more significant than what you see.  Ten percent of the total person is represented through a resume, education, referrals, appearance, and work history. This is useful, but limited information. The other 90% of what you can’t see is important for determining a good fit for a specific job. These factors include thinking and reasoning style, occupational interests, and behavioral traits.

HRN has a powerful tool, powered by Profiles, Inc., to better identify the candidates who best fit a particular job. It is called the ProfileXT.  This assessment will determine thinking and reasoning styles, aptitude, occupational interests, and behavioral traits. It can be used for hiring, promotions, and coaching by creating a “profile” of the Total Person.  This will help you see what is truly underneath the surface.

The ProfileXT can also help your managers by providing insights to employees, both current and future. The results are generated into easy-to-read reports that will help align talent with the needs of the business. You can also benchmark your top performers and create similar job patterns. These reports will simplify the hiring process by providing sample questions that are based on the candidate’s individual responses. Wouldn’t it be great to avoid incompatible candidate matches beforehand?



January 30, 2014

Do You Have a Knowledge Backup Plan?

Filed under: General HR Buzz,Hiring & Jobs,Succession Planning — Tags: 6:00 am

Highly effective leaders realize that knowledge is key to their company’s success.  They know that teams working and collaborating together can accomplish really great things.  Succession plans are generally designed to make sure there is a pipeline of talent so that nothing falls through the cracks and that transitions from one leader to the next are seamless.  Cross-training, mentoring, and the sharing of knowledge are all used to protect a company’s interests.   But, are people the best knowledge backup plan?

To illustrate this, perhaps a new project is being assigned to three employees, A, B, and C.  Perhaps, the seasoned leader of the team project is Employee A, who accepts another position within the organization.  The knowledge of the team leader is not really gone, but has shifted to another department, that doesn’t benefit the progress that has already been made on the team project, nor does it benefit Employees B and C, who’ve been left behind and now have to step up to the plate.  Well, Employees B and C realize the dynamics of their team have changed greatly without Employee A – it’s just not fun anymore.  So, Employee B decides he’s taking another job and give his notice, leaving Employee C, who has no experience on how to further the team project without the rest of the team.  Becoming disenchanted with the situation for which Employee C has found herself, she leaves and joins Employee B at his new gig.

All that knowledge and all that progress and all that time is now for naught.  What is an employer to do to protect their future success?

  • Encourage employees to share knowledge with each other.  Creating operating processes and procedures that will benefit someone who hasn’t been in the organization long, and that will help knowledge to live on.
  • Plan for turnover.  We know employees simply don’t stay put.  Make it a priority to communicate regularly with employees and have a solid plan for when they leave.
  • Assume that when any part of a team leaves, the others will be considered flight risks.
  • Reassure others on the team that you are immediately getting a replacement for the vacant position to reduce panic and restore order.

Do you have a knowledge backup plan?

Source:  Corlett, Bob.  “The Hidden Danger in Employee Turnover (and how to protect yourself).”  The Business Journals.  See article here.



January 28, 2014

The Dentist, The Doctor and The Appraiser

How many of you look forward to your annual checkup with your doctor or your semi-annual visit with your dentist?   Some of you may, but a majority of us certainly don’t jump up and down when it comes time for these visits.

When I am visiting with my doctor and he says, “Megan, your cholesterol is high. If you continue to make the choices you are, your cholesterol may lead to heart disease or a stroke.”  I can stomp my foot and argue with him, or I can listen to his advice.

The same thing is true for the dentist. If my dentist tells me that I need to floss more or I will increase my chances for gum disease, I can listen to her advice or not.

Not many of us may like these visits or enjoy hearing this kind of feedback.  Why do we do it?  We go because that’s what responsible adults do to maintain our health.

The same thing is true for the appraisal process.  It may not be something we all get excited about but as responsible employees, we need to participate in this process in order to maintain the health of our organization.

And just like a doctor, it is the role of the appraiser to enter into the conversation with our employee with tact and a good bedside manner.  Doctors have to deliver bad news all the time. While there may be emotional outbursts from the patient, the doctor remains unemotional and unbiased.  They don’t judge and they use empathy to convey the factual information their patient needs to hear.  As appraisers, our role is to remain unemotional but relay information in a tactful manner to our employees about the behaviors that may be hazardous to their health or employment within the organization.

So, I have a dentist appointment and she tells me I need to floss more.  If I walk away from that appointment and don’t floss until 3 days leading up my next appointment – will it likely make any difference? Probably not.   The same thing is true for other things in our life. Not many of us enjoy budgeting, but we pay attention to our budget all year round to make sure we don’t get ourselves into trouble.  Even with things we enjoy, like learning a new musical instrument, we wouldn’t be very successful if we only practiced once a year.

Performance management works the same way. If we just pay attention to it once a year, during the appraisal process, we won’t be very successful.  Just like our health, it’s a daily discipline.  Forming relationships with our employees, meeting with them on a regular basis, paying attention, asking questions, and communicating – these are all things that should be happening often, not just when it comes time to do the appraisal.

As appraisers, we are the doctors. Our job is to keep our employees, our team, and our company healthy.  We do this by practicing performance management throughout the year. In addition, when we work with our employees, it is essential to rely on the facts, remove emotions, and have a good bedside manner.  Through these steps, we can improve the overall health of our employees and our organization.





January 23, 2014

A Workplace Perk that Could Payoff!

Filed under: Benefits,Compliance,General HR Buzz,Legal Issues11:04 am

A recent article caught my eye the other day. reporter, Will Yakowicz, wrote an article about Lending Club, a peer-to-peer lending marketplace, who is in talks with Google to offer employees a new employment perk, low-interest rate loans.  The idea is that a company could lend from their treasury reserves, which only pays them one or two percent interest and the employee could use those monies at the rate of two to four percent interest.  Thus, a greater yield for the company and a great perk for the employee who needs some fast cash.

So, I got to thinking what would happen if Google decides to do this.  Like many other trends, if one company offers a new benefit, word gets around, and other companies feel the pressure to enrich their own benefits and they follow suit.  The argument is that it could be a good recruiting and retention tool.   But, what about HR?  Come on, put on your HR thinking caps and let’s see what some of the hurdles could be that an employer may have to clear.

  1. Would there be regulatory requirements for an employer that is not a financial institution to enlist the services of another entity to engage in lending?
  2. What HR policy would need to govern this new perk?  Is it a benefit?  Is their tax reporting involved?  Payroll deductions?
  3. What if the employee quits or is terminated prior to paying the loan off?
  4. How will this conflict with the possibility of new laws restricting an employer’s use of credit reports in employment decisions?
  5. Who is the decision maker as to whether the employee is eligible for a loan?  And, will loans be made to an employee on a personal improvement plan?
  6. How many loans can an employee have at one time?
  7. Will the employer be responsible for having a loan loss reserve to cover uncollected debt?

I’m sure you can probably think of a few other things worth consideration.  No decision by Google has been made, but what if . . . ?


January 21, 2014

10 Common Employer Errors

Lawsuits & Grievances

Employment discrimination lawsuits have doubled in the last 10 years. Juries are ready and eager to shower aggrieved former employees with millions of dollars in settlements at your businesses’ expense. In 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received over 100,000 grievances. 

So what can you do to reduce your potential liability?

In addition to a comprehensive HR Audit, identifying 10 common mistakes employers make can assist your organization in making sound decisions and demonstrating best HR practice.

#1   Failure to conduct an adequate and/or legal background check on potential employees.

Do you conduct credit or criminal background checks?  If so, do you obtain proper authorization?  Do you give the candidate a copy of the Fair Credit Reporting Act Summary?  Do you contact his/her references?  Former employers?

#2   Inappropriate interview questions and comments.

Although you want to be thorough in your hiring process, you also have to be careful about what questions you ask. Do you know which questions can and cannot be asked?  

#3   Inappropriately classifying hourly employees as salaried employees.

Just because you slap an “assistant manager” title on an employee doesn’t make him or her exempt from overtime and other benefits. Juries salivate over this issue.

#4   Failure to implement, disseminate, and follow personnel policies.

What are your harassment and discrimination policies? What are your corrective action and disciplinary policies? You might have the most progressive, thorough, & comprehensive policies & procedures in place, but they’re useless if you are inconsistent or don’t follow them at all.                

#5   Failure to train managers.

Do your managers understand the finer points of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Leaves of Absence, such as FMLA? Do they understand that harassment is not limited to sex, but can include religion, age, race, ethnicity, disability?  Do they understand the value of annual performance reviews and how they should be conducted?  Do your managers understand the importance of coaching and progressive discipline?  This training should apply to all supervisors and managers. 

#6   Failure to document promptly and accurately.

Prepare every document regarding warnings, complaints, and disciplinary action as if it is being introduced to a judge, attorney, jury, or the Department of Labor. Be objective – not subjective, (facts only). The document should include the date, the name of the author, the name (and sometimes signatures) of the employee/witness, and details of the issue in question. 

#7   Failure to appropriately evaluate employee performance or adequately discipline employees.

Do you have a formal review process in place? Make sure your assessment of your employees is accurate. Don’t fudge over the problem areas. Remember, the purpose of the discipline, beyond covering your own liabilities, is to help the employee improve. 

#8   Failure to curtail employee favoritism or inconsistent treatment of employees.

We all have seen this one, the ‘favorite’ or ‘cliques.’ Beware: this breeds a lot of resentment among employees and morale WILL suffer greatly.  Expect little respect or teamwork in return from your employees.

#9   Failure to correctly designate, track, & consistently apply Leaves of Absence and/or FMLA.

Do you offer Leaves of Absence or FMLA? Eligible categories include (but are not limited to) the birth of a child, caring for a close relative with a serious health condition, and the employee’s own serious health condition. How do you designate a bona fide LOA or FMLA?  How is it tracked?  Is it applied consistently to all employees?

#10   Keeping inaccurate, incomplete, or incorrect items in employee files.

Do you know what is and is not allowed in an employee file?  Are there documents contained within those files that could potentially be damaging to an employer during litigation?

So, What is an HR Audit?

An HR audit involves an objective look at your company’s HR policies, practices, procedures, and strategies to protect the employer, establish best practices and identify opportunities for improvement. An objective review of the company’s “current state” can help you evaluate whether specific areas are adequate, legal and/or effective.


Visit HRN’s website to learn how we can help!


January 16, 2014

Touting Religion as a Job Requirement

It is pretty straightforward that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion.  This would include forcing employees to conform to a particular religion, which is what one employer did.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently settled a charge of religious discrimination by Dynamic Medical Services, Inc. (DMS) of Miami, providers of medical and chiropractic services.  The EEOC charge stated:

“DMS required Norma Rodriguez, Maykel Ruz, Rommy Sanchez, Yanileydis Capote and other employees to spend at least half their work days in courses that involved Scientology religious practices, such as screaming at ashtrays or staring at someone for eight hours without moving.  The company also instructed employees to attend courses at the Church of Scientology.  Additionally, the company required Sanchez to undergo an “audit” by connecting herself to an “E-meter,” which Scientologists believe is a religious artifact, and required her to undergo “purification” treatment at the Church of Scientology.”

When employees, Rodriguez and Sanchez refused to participate in Scientology religious practices and did not want to conform to Scientology religious beliefs, they were terminated.  DMS will pay $170,000 to the four named claimants and four other class members to settle the lawsuit as well as meet other criteria for resolution.

It is against the law for an employer to mandate employee participation in, or the practice of, a specific religion, as well as refusing to accommodate an employee who requests to be excused, because of objecting to the practices.    Employers should be sure they have a current anti-discrimination policy explaining employees’ rights to be free of discrimination of any kind.  The EEOC is diligent about addressing these types of charges.  Be assured, employers violating such federal laws will be held accountable.

Need help with your employee handbook?   HRN is here for you!




January 14, 2014

New Job, New State – Consider the Tax Rate

Filed under: Compensation,Hiring & Jobs8:52 am

At this time of year with new salary budgets available for hiring employees, movement of jobs from state to state are more prevalent. Human Resource professionals need to be aware of the impact local and state taxes can have on the cost-of-living differentials.  Economic Research Institute in a recent article illustrated the effect of a move from a state where there is no state income tax, to a state of high state taxes, which can significantly influence the movement of new personnel. It is, therefore, very important to include these differences when discussing cost-of-living details in negotiating relocation packages.

  • States with no State income tax:  Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming
  • States with high income tax rates:  California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Oregon

Additionally, Human Resource professionals need to be aware of local tax rates within states, as these can also vary and have an impact on the decision of a potential new employee accepting or refusing a relocation move to a new position.



January 9, 2014

Credit Checks – Should They Affect Employment Decisions?

Filed under: Hiring & Jobs,Legal Issues11:21 am

Several articles have recently captured my attention discussing the propriety of using credit checks for employment purposes.  Just because someone may have poor credit (we are in a recovering economy) doesn’t mean it will adversely affect their ability to perform a particular job.  Each of the articles I have read discussed the bill currently in the Senate, the Equal Employment for All Act (EEAA) that was designed to amend the current Fair Credit Reporting Act.  The EEAA, as proposed, was designed to prohibit a current or prospective employer from using a consumer report or an investigative consumer report for employment purposes or for making an adverse action, if the report contains information that is based upon the consumer’s credit information.

The bill declares exceptions to allow the use of credit information/history when an employee or applicant applies for, or currently holds, employment that requires a national security clearance, or a consumer report is otherwise required by law.  Having previously worked in the financial institution industry, it was especially interesting to me that there was no mention of credit unions or banks, being excepted from this prohibition.

Though some believe this bill will not pass this term, it will be interesting to watch it work its way through legislation and to see how it will affect credit unions and banks.



January 7, 2014

Zappos – Thinking Outside the Box or Thinking Inside the “Circle”

Filed under: General HR Buzz,Management Practices — Tags: 8:04 am

Ever since hearing Tony Hsieh of Zappos speak at the 2011 Annual SHRM convention, I have been a fan of Zappos and began following them in the news.  Of course, I was already familiar with Zappos and had even ordered shoes – maybe several pair – at one time or another.  But I never knew much about the culture of Zappos until I heard their CEO’s presentation, and subsequently read his book titled “Delivering Happiness.”

Zappos certainly has some non-traditional workplace practices including new hire rotation through all departments, paying new hires $2,000 to leave if they choose to do so, and over-the-top customer service.  So it was of great interest when I heard of their latest change – elimination of titles and managers.   Quite a step away from the traditional organizations with multiple layers of varying titles representing levels of management.

Reading on, I learned that the 1,500 employee company would be restructuring into “circles” consisting of teams of people working together and assuming various roles within those circles.  This type of management is known as a “holacracy”, in which there are no job titles and no managers.   The website,, states that “holacracy places the seat of organizational power in an explicit process, one which organizes around an explicit purpose. This allows emergent behavior of the whole system, without being controlled by either a single heroic leader or even the collective group.”  It also defines it as “purposeful integration through social technology.”

Within a holacracy, leadership still exists.  What it does is distribute leadership into each role, holding employees personally accountable, and rotating leadership among those in the circle.

I will continue, with interest, to follow Zappos to see how this transition unfolds.  Will we be seeing more companies, especially start-ups, emerge with fewer managers?  Time will tell…but this may be a new “non-management” style for the business textbooks to capture.