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July 17, 2014

Making Meeting Time Count!

Filed under: General HR Buzz — Tags: , — Charisse Rockett, PHR, HR Content Manager @ 7:55 am

Raise your hand if you think there are entirely too many meetings in your office!  You can put your hands down now.  Why do we feel this way?  Because many times, meetings become so routine that the focus is completely lost on why the meeting is being held and what it is supposed to accomplish.  Let’s face it, sometimes meetings are just simply time wasters!

To avoid having mechanical meetings, we have to plan better.  Following these tips will help re-engage and to re-focus your attendees so that meetings add value and achieve a specific goal.

  1. Create an agenda – Agendas set the rules for the meeting and answer critical questions.  Who (should attend)?   What (is the topic)?  Why (are we meeting)?  Where (will we meet)?  When (will we meet? How (are we to prepare)?
  2. Stay on track – Keep the goal of the meeting at the forefront and steer the discussion back to the agenda as needed.  If the meeting is scheduled for 30 minutes, then end it promptly.
  3. Limit attendees – Invite only those individuals that need to be there.  Don’t waste others’ time, unless they are critical to the mission.
  4. Summarize the meeting – Follow up the meeting with an email detailing the project, timelines, and assignments.  Make yourself available and hold employees accountable for reaching the goal.  Inform the attendees if additional meetings will be necessary. 

Giving meetings focus will help you and your team to accomplish much more in less time.  


July 10, 2014

If You Look Busy and Feel Busy, Are You Being Productive?

Filed under: General HR Buzz — Tags: , — Charisse Rockett, PHR, HR Content Manager @ 6:00 am

For numerous years we have been told that multitasking is an asset.  As employers, we weren’t looking for singularly focused individuals, but those who could change gears quickly.  Multitasking was the answer to efficiency needs and time management skills.

Workers today have computers, tablets, smartphones, and many other distractions that were supposed to help them be more accessible and productive.  But, what does multitasking really accomplish?  It is reported that multitasking can be synonymous with timewasting.  Those who multitask spend “25 percent to 40 percent more time than people who focus on tasks individually.”  Looking busy has always been an admirable trait, but high producers outpace “Busy” dramatically, and are far more valuable to keep on your team.

Here are a few tips to achieve multitasking freedom.  Come on, you can do it!

  • Start small – by setting aside 20 minutes to devote solely on one project. Repeat for the next project, and the next.
  • Be scheduled – and set a specific time for each project or task to take control of your day.
  • No bells or buzzers allowed – during the scheduled work time, so turn off the email!
  • Shhhhhh – people are working, so try to be respectful of their work time and seek a quiet place to work, so you can accomplish your scheduled task.
  • De-clutter­ – your workspace.  A cluttered workspace makes concentrating on your work very difficult.  Cluttered workspace = cluttered mind?
  • Work – during your work hours and save the personal stuff for breaks and lunch periods.

If any of the above tips will throw you into shock, just dip your toe in the water before you dive in!

Source:  Zacharias, Anne.  The Business Journals. “6 Tips to Become More Productive by AVOIDING Multitasking.”  Available here.




June 19, 2014

Ways to Inspire Civility in the Workplace

Filed under: General HR Buzz,Harrasment — Tags: — Charisse Rockett, PHR, HR Content Manager @ 11:38 am

Wouldn’t it be great if everyone said and did the right thing all the time and no one’s feelings ever got hurt?  That would be a perfect world, of which we know we do not live in, but one can wish!  Ensuring that employees practice civility in the workplace is a progressive activity.  Civility means to be courteous; polite.  It doesn’t sound that difficult to be nice, but because of various negative factors, we sometimes digress.  Following are some tips for resisting bad manners and encouraging civility in the workplace:

  • Personality conflicts – I always tell a group of new hires that we have (e.g. 100) employees, which means that we have 100 different personalities with 100 different ideas.  Some personalities are drawn to each other, while others repel.  Keeping the peace through personality conflicts is a challenge, but can be done.  Empathetically putting oneself in the other person’s “shoes” will help them to see the conflict in a completely different light.
  • Holding your tongue – Being aware of comments or phrases that may be common, but hurtful to some, is especially important to show respect for others.  Comments like, “Her elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top,” or “He must ride the short bus,” are completely unnecessary and are very insensitive.  Look for the good in others and focus on their strengths.
  • Lead by example – Instill in employees to do their part to lead by example.  Random acts of kindness and sincere compliments of a “job well done,” are encouraging speech and not speech that tears down.   

To summarize, incivility is degrading to all who are affected by it, regardless of whether it is directed at them or whether they are a witness to its harm.  When incivility reigns, it can quickly turn into a claim of harassment or a hostile work environment.  Train your employees to be respectful of others, and to look for positive qualities in them too.  Someday, they themselves, could be the victim, and what a lonely place that would be!  Teaching employees to be aware of and think about the effects of what they say or do, will certainly help them to be more thoughtful and considerate workmates.


June 5, 2014

Zappos – Non-Traditional Workplace or Innovative Trendsetter

Filed under: General HR Buzz,Hiring & Jobs — Charisse Rockett, PHR, HR Content Manager @ 12:10 pm

A few months ago, Zappos, an online shoe retailer, announced it was restructuring its workforce into “circles” eliminating hierarchy by having no job titles and no managers.  This type of structure is known as a “holacracy.”  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.  This is definitely not a traditional organizational structure!

Now, Zappos is making another unique change – eliminating job postings.  The retailer plans to hire about 450 workers this year.  Though Zappos will be using social media, it is not what you may think!  They have created Zappos Insiders, a social network that candidates can join and become acquainted with current employees of the company.   The theory behind this method is to allow recruiters to be more efficient and effective by creating a constant pool of candidates that could be ready-made hires.  Recruiters can gauge cultural fit and skills of the candidates by asking specific questions and holding contests then using a separate software to organize the responses.  So, not only are job postings gone, but so are the plethora of resumes’ to wade through!

It will be interesting to see how this cutting-edge practice evolves and if other organizations will follow suit.  But, we in HR always have questions:

  • Will a social network glean more personal information about candidates than a company needs?
  • Will it help Zappos avoid costly bad hires?
  • Will candidates grow tired of waiting to be selected?

Before you try to walk a mile in Zappos shoes (eliminate job postings in your company) you may want to just curiously watch the success of Zappos in pioneering this new trend!

Source:  Auriemma, Adam. The Wall Street Journal. “Zappos Zaps Its Job Postings.”  Available here.


May 29, 2014

BYOD and Distracted Driving – Making the Connection

Filed under: General HR Buzz,Safety — Charisse Rockett, PHR, HR Content Manager @ 2:13 pm

Some workplaces have begun encouraging employees to BYOD, “Bring Your Own Device” to work.  The use of smartphones and tablets are common and necessary in most businesses to enhance accessibility and communication.   BYOD, the practice of employees using their own mobile electronic devices for both personal and business purposes, has become more accepted as the workforce evolves into a more technologically advanced age.  With this new practice comes new risk.

One such area for BYOD workplaces, is making the connection of acceptable use of such mobile devices and driving safely.  The fact cannot be overlooked that distracted driving is at epidemic levels, much of it due to the use of electronic devices while driving.  Implementing a BYOD/distracted driving policy should reflect in part, that regardless of ownership of the device, employee or employer, certain restrictions shall apply such as:

  • Prohibiting the use of a hand-held device while operating a motor vehicle, to include answering and making phone calls; reading and responding to email; sending or receiving texts;
  • Requiring employees to drive to a safe place to park the motor vehicle to use a cell phone or other mobile device;
  • Changing voicemail greetings to inform callers that the phone will not be answered nor will messages/calls be returned while the employee is driving. 

It is noteworthy, that just because an employee is using their personal device, an employer can still be liable for an employee’s distracted driving that has fatal consequences.

Having a policy is a great start, but it needs to be enforceable.  The policy should be clearly stated so that it is not difficult for the average employee to follow, nor should an employee be punished for not answering the boss’s call immediately while driving!


Sources:   DiBianca, Molly.  “The Role of a Distracted-Driving Policy in a BYOD Workplace.”  Available here.


May 16, 2014

Did You Know – HRN Customizes Employment Policies?

Filed under: General HR Buzz — Terri Harris, Marketing Administrator @ 6:00 am

Did you know?  You can dress for warm weather without breaking your organization’s dress code.

With the warm weather rapidly approaching you may be tempted to whip out those crop tops, short shorts and flip flops – DON’T!  You can dress stylish and still be within dress code.  Instead of a halter or crop top, opt for a breezy tank covering the shoulders or short sleeve top.  Instead of shorts, capri pants or a skirt can be just as cooling.  As for the men, khakis and a nice cotton dress shirt go much farther in the workplace than a pair of gym shorts and your favorite t-shirt.

There are numerous ways to dress comfortably without offending your coworkers and management. There is nothing worse than trying to keep that “too short” skirt pulled down or the far too small top in place, you know the one I am talking about. And, while your undergarments may be in the height of fashion, they should not be seen by your neighbor in the next cube. Don’t be “the one” in the office that everyone is thinking to themselves “I can’t believe she/he wore that to work!”  We have all seen and privately thought that before.  The best rule to remember this summer is, dress for the body you have, not the body you want!  I’m just saying…

If you need help with your dress code policy or any of your other employment policies, HRN can help!!  Contact one of our consultants here.



April 24, 2014

Wanted: Soft Skills!

Filed under: General HR Buzz,Hiring & Jobs — Charisse Rockett, PHR, HR Content Manager @ 8:18 am

Positive, Reliable, Respectful, Grateful, Professional.  No, this is not a list on how to flatter your boss, but rather what your boss is looking for in employees.  These are soft skills – those intrinsic skills that generally are not something you can teach, but are part of an individual’s personality. conducted a survey recently that reported that “16 percent of employers said soft skills are more important than hard skills when evaluating candidates for a job.”  This translates to the fact that not only are your experience and knowledge important and needed, but that personality matters!

Here are the top ten most popular soft skills according to the survey:

  1. Candidate has a strong work ethic – 73 percent
  2. Candidate is dependable – 73 percent
  3. Candidate has a positive attitude – 72 percent
  4. Candidate is self-motivated – 66 percent
  5. Candidate is team-oriented – 60 percent
  6. Candidate is organized, can manage multiple priorities – 57 percent
  7. Candidate works well under pressure – 57 percent
  8. Candidate is an effective communicator – 56 percent
  9. Candidate is flexible – 51 percent
  10. Candidate is confident – 46 percent

Analyzing the list above reveals many desirous qualities that contribute to the successful operations of an organization.  Many individuals who simply list their soft skills, but who don’t actually demonstrate them with examples in an interview, will fail to get the job.  Soft skills can be honed only by the employee/applicant.  An employer can teach an employee to perform a task, but cannot teach them to have a great personality!




March 27, 2014

Uninsured? Are You Prepared to Pay the Penalty?

Filed under: Benefits,Communication,General HR Buzz,Insurance — Tags: — Charisse Rockett, PHR, HR Content Manager @ 6:00 am

The deadline is quickly approaching to sign up for health care insurance using the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) federal website – March 31, 2014, to be exact.  The ACA made provision for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to collect fees for those individuals not insured by their employer, the government, or directly through an independent insurer.  The fee/penalty sounds fairly reasonable for the tax year 2014, $95, per adult or 1% of income, whichever is greater.  However, did you know the penalties increase over the next couple of years?


Per Adult OR Percentage of Family Income

(whichever is greater)





2016 and beyond


The penalties are pro-rated if an individual, their spouse, and children* have partial-year coverage.  If they lack coverage for less than three months in the year, they will have no penalty.  The fees for the uninsured were to encourage and motivate individuals to seek health care insurance coverage, but the law does include a provision to exempt some.

Employers need to stay abreast of the new health care law and its provisions, because they are very detailed and being clarified often.  Communicating regularly with employees about the current status of the law will help employees be prepared to meet the requirements on an individual basis as well.


*A child’s penalty is one-half of the adult dollar amount, e.g. $95 per adult is $47.50 per child.

Source:  Luhby, Tami.  “Uninsured next year?  Here’s your Obamacare penalty.” See article here.


March 20, 2014

Distracted Driving Could Mean Your Life!

Filed under: General HR Buzz,Legal Issues — Tags: — Charisse Rockett, PHR, HR Content Manager @ 6:00 am

I was reminded recently how quickly lives can change in a split-second.  While entering the parking lot of a local eatery, I watched as two school aged children one following the other ran in front of me across the parking lot to the family car.  They had plenty of time, as did I, and all was well.  As I proceeded through the parking lot, what I did not expect to see, was a third small person about 3-4 years of age, come darting out and running for all she was worth to catch up to the bigger kids.  Fortunately, I was paying attention, going slow, and not using my cell phone, all contributing to the avoidance of calamity!  I remained stopped in the parking lot just hoping mom was close behind the little one, and sure enough, she was!  I’m sure you can imagine what followed and how relieved we all were!

That scenario I lived through could have been tragic.  Distracted driving is a dangerous epidemic.  In 2012, 3,328 individuals were killed in distracted driving crashes on America’s roadways; 421,000 people were injured.  Any activity that diverts a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving is distracted driving.  You have probably seen fellow drivers eating, grooming, using a navigation system, adjusting the audio/video players, watching video players, talking to passengers, correcting children, texting, or using a cell phone.  Even bystanders are not immune to the hazards.

This topic is of great concern to employers.  Cell phone use has grown in popularity for the last couple of decades, yet many employers have not updated their “drive safe” policies to include avoiding distracted driving.  Updating employment policies to mandate that employees follow state and federal laws when driving for business purposes, whether a company vehicle or their personal vehicle, is a critical element to avoid disaster and to protect all parties.  Some employers opt for using hands-free devices, but studies have shown that headset cell phone use is not much safer than hand-held use.  An employer will want to consider their industry and their business needs before writing a comprehensive and enforceable policy.  Clear communication to employees of the expectations that they focus on driving safely, when driving is their primary task at hand, will alleviate stress and encourage employees to adhere to the safe practices the policy outlines and the law dictates.  Distracted driving by employees is your business . . . and their lives!

Need help with your employment handbook or just an individual policy?  HRN Performance Solutions has a tool for that!  HR Suite – Contact HRN consultants and they will be happy to help!



March 18, 2014

“Everybody is Replaceable, but Everyone is Not”

Filed under: General HR Buzz,Management Practices — Gene Mandarino, MAOD, SPHR, Manager HR Consulting @ 6:00 am

Any employer would agree that great employees are hard to find.  They would also agree that when you have a great employee you want to do everything you can to keep them.  So why is it that when a great employee is planning on leaving or has left, we insist on resorting to the same old response?  “They were a great employee but, you know, everyone is replaceable.”

The truth is, Everybody is replaceable, but Everyone is not.  When a great employee leaves, their body can be replaced but their knowledge, approach, and spirit cannot.  The type of void they leave in the organization is permanent; it can never be wholly replaced.  It may feel like the void gets filled, but it is a facade of others having to pitch in to fill the void.  It is an acceptance of lower performance to fill the void, and missed opportunities that never get measured, because if they did, we would see the real cost of losing that great employee.

So, when we are faced with the possibility of losing a great employee lets change the response from “Everyone is replaceable” to “Everybody is replaceable, but Everyone is not.”  Maybe this subtle change in thinking will get organizations to think twice before they allow great employees to leave.

See attached article for further inspirations on this topic:

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