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April 3, 2013

One Stop Shop for the Recruiting Process

Filed under: Performance Management — Charisse Rockett, PHR, HR Content Manager @ 6:00 am

One of the most important, yet most difficult, activities for a business is finding and keeping the best employees to make their business grow and prosper.  The prospect of finding the right person for the job can be overwhelming.  The US Department of Labor (DOL) has recognized the need for helping employers with this process of recruiting, training, and then retaining a skilled workforce.

The DOL has expanded the CareerOneStop website to include a Business Center page with a suite of online resources to assist employers with this seemingly daunting task.  The site includes tips about how to recruit qualified candidates through local American Job Centers and provides employment projections.  Additionally, the site offers access to local training and educational institutions, a catalog of occupational certifications, and a tool to help employers translate the military training and skills of returning service members into specific civilian occupations.  The CareerOneStop Business Center is available online at:  The website also provides information for job seekers to find education and training providers and to conduct a comprehensive job search.

When recruiting for your organization, it is important to have a solid, non-discriminatory process to funnel out the most qualified applicants.  From job descriptions to interview questions we can help you.


March 27, 2013

Mob Action in Your Workplace?

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

We have been focusing on Workplace Bullying this month.  It has been a recurring topic of media reports and lawsuits of late.  In researching the topic, a type of bullying piqued my interest:  mobbing.  This is a practice that is equivalent to group bullying.  It usually occurs when an employee inadvertently annoys a manager and finds himself the target of mob action.  The manager, in a provoked state, then determines the employee must go.   With ease the manager is able to convince a portion of the workforce to turn on the worker.  Indirectly the manager makes it known the worker must go because of their own deeds and that the worker would be more contented elsewhere.  And, the mobbing begins.

It all seems so subtle, but to the target these are direct hits!  First, coworkers may distance themselves from the target, excluding him from certain office activities.  The harmful gossiping begins, which quickly turns to destructive rumors.  Hearsay and speculation about the target become rampant.  Coworkers refuse to work with or cooperate with him and sabotage projects for which he was responsible.    Negative performance evaluations, clandestine inquiries, and false accusations of misconduct torment the target as the angered manager tries to make a contrived case for dismissal.

Understanding workplace bullying in all its forms will aid in tailoring workplace policies to meet your organization’s needs and hold the appropriate people accountable for keeping your workplace civil and respectful.

To learn more about Workplace Bullying, see HRN Performance Solutions March, 2013, People Pay Performance.

Source:  Janice Harper, “What the Stanford Prison Experiment Can Teach Us About the Workplace.”


February 13, 2013

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses!

Filed under: Performance Management — Charisse Rockett, PHR, HR Content Manager @ 6:00 am

Even the most punctual employee has been late sometimes.  They overslept, their dogs got out, car wouldn’t start, forgot to set the alarm, didn’t hear the alarm, etc.  You get the picture!  The excuses could just go on and on, which is why CareerBuilder collected in their annual survey some of the most memorable excuses for employee tardiness that employers willingly shared.

The survey noted that 31% said traffic is the most common culprit.  I can accept that, it’s believable!  However, what follows are what CareerBuilder reported as some of the excuses actually offered up for being late to work:

  • Employee dropped her purse into a coin-operated newspaper box and couldn’t retrieve it without change (which was in the purse)
  • Employee accidentally left the apartment with his roommate’s girlfriend’s shoes on and had to go back to change
  • Employee’s angry wife had frozen his truck keys in a glass of water in the freezer
  • Employee’s car wouldn’t start because the breathalyzer showed he was intoxicated
  • Employee drove to her previous employer by mistake

Click here to read the rest!

The point is employers have to weigh each of these excuses/reasons, whatever you wish to call them, and make some sense of its truthfulness.  Things happen that we could never imagine, so when you hear a story like one of these, it’s difficult to process.  However, an employer needs to be cautious and make sure the reason for the tardiness isn’t a legally protected reason, such as protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act or the Family and Medical Leave Act.  It would be unlawful to take a corrective action or give a negative mark on a performance appraisal for an employee with an absence or tardiness that may be legally protected.  Make sure your policies and practices are thorough and up-to-date.  We can help you!  Check out our website  – A Complete Human Resources Compliance Solution!


January 15, 2013

The Million Dollar Question

Filed under: Performance Management — Joyce Marsh, HR Consultant, SPHR @ 10:54 am

Last week we published a whitepaper written by our VP, Michele Lindsay.  If you haven”t read it, you are in for some great thought leadership surrounding the topic of strategic planning.  Michele poses the million dollar question (you will have to read the whitepaper to find out what it is!) and also provides some simple steps on how to tie organizational strategy to individual performance planning.  Something that sounds very basic, but clearly many organizations miss the mark in accomplishing this important objective.

Attention managers!  We”d also like to hear from you about your thoughts on sharing strategic plans with employees – what works and what doesn”t work.  So first, read Michele”s whitepaper (it”s a great tool to start the year off right!) and then take part in our short survey – both links are below.




December 21, 2012

HR Fact Friday: Retaliation or Poor Performance

Filed under: Performance Management — Paul Hendrycks, VP Sales and Marketing @ 10:28 am

A director for student financial aid at a Texas university complained to an outside auditor about nonexempt workers being deprived of their comp time and/or vacation time and offered a range of other concerns. She was fired after making these complaints, which she believed was retaliation. However as you will read, a well documented performance review was a key piece of evidence in the ensuing litigation which; in part ended up carrying the day for the employer.

What happened. “Samantha” spent 17 years in financial aid at Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi before heading up the office of financial aid and scholarships at Texas A&M University–Commerce, or TAMUC, in March of 2006. When an outside auditor visited for an annual review in November 2008, she asked whether Samantha had any concerns, which opened the floodgates.

In part, Samantha had a problem with TAMUC’s policy of awarding comp time rather than overtime to nonexempt employees (a practice that’s permitted to public employers) but requiring them to use it all before using their paid vacation, which expired at the end of every year. Other concerns included an alleged failure to “draw down” allotted federal funds and prepare monthly reconciliations for them.

The auditor duly reported all issues up the chain of command, including TAMUC’s president. At no time, however, did either Samantha or the auditor state that the comp time issue violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), a claim Samantha later made in court.

She received a positive evaluation and a raise in May 2009. But in September, she was counseled to create a training manual and to spend more time with other subordinates rather than only with her favorite one. In early December, one of the subordinates who complained she’d been shunned also charged that department members were still not being trained and that Samantha tended to “lash out” at people. Management decided to fire her, and she sued.

She charged violation of FLSA and of the Texas Whistleblower Act, claiming that managers had treated her very coldly after her complaints to the outside auditor. A judge in federal district court ruled entirely in TAMUC’s favor, and Samantha appealed to the 5th Circuit, which covers Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.

What the court said. Because Samantha was simply doing her job by reporting her concerns to the auditor, appellate judges agreed that she had not blown any whistles and that the university had not retaliated against her. Lasater v. TAMUC, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, No. 11-11068 (2012).

Point to remember: To judges, Samantha’s positive evaluation and raise didn’t look at all like retaliation.



November 21, 2012

HR Fact Wednesday: Performance Reviews for High Level Employees? YES!

Filed under: Discipline & Termination,General HR Buzz,Performance Management — Paul Hendrycks, VP Sales and Marketing @ 6:00 am

Due to the Thanksgiving holiday I am posting my usual HR Fact Friday update a bit early this week. Now isn’t that something to be thankful for? Seriously, from all of the staff at HRN Performance Solutions to each of our viewers, we wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. We are truly grateful for the opportunity we have had for the past 23 years to provide our wonderful clients with cost effective HR solutions and consulting services that improve individual and organizational performance. Thank you.

Now for this week’s HR Fact. Does a company need to conduct and document performance reviews for their high-level executive staff? Of course. Any termination, regardless of position needs to be well considered and have supporting documentation. This is never more important than with executive staff who are the highest paid and also the most likely to seek legal representation. The most relevant documentation for any staff action involving disciplinary action including termination is the performance review.  Discharge or possible termination of a high level staff member where there was little or no evidence of any sort of performance review of that employee is walking on shaky ground and leaving the door wide open for costly litigation. These types of employees, usually the highest paid in your company, can be the most attractive to plaintiff-side employment lawyers anyway, but the failure to have any documented track record of discipline or performance review to support a discharge makes them even more attractive as plaintiffs. Employers need to effectively assess, review and document the performance of their top managers, just as much as they need to do so for other employees. Failure to do so exposes an employer to a potentially-significant risk of liability when a fired executive employee chooses not to depart amicably.


August 8, 2012

Driving Employee Engagement

Filed under: Communication,Engagement,General HR Buzz,Management Practices,Performance Management — Nancy McGee, HR Consultant @ 1:08 pm

Last week I took a look at the findings from a MetLife Benefits Survey showing the link between employee benefits and employee engagement.  Seems to be a very important topic of late – what does it take to engage employees? And how does that engagement drive an organization’s success?   As economies move through different phases (industrial to technological, for example) and different generations move in and out of the workforce (Gen X vs. Baby Boomers, for example), what’s important to workers is bound to change.  I often wonder though if employers over-complicate the idea of employee engagement.

Yesterday I attended an interesting lunch meeting where the keynote speaker was Don MacPherson, founder and CEO of a company called modernsurvey.  modernsurvey conducts and publishes a semi-annual survey:  “Employee Engagement across the U.S. Workforce”.  The findings of the study are compelling, be sure to check it out:

One of the critical ideas that Mr. MacPherson presented was ways in which managers, on a day-to-day basis, can drive engagement in an organization.  The list includes:

  • Personal engagement;
  • Recognition and appreciation on a regular and ongoing basis;
  • Career development;
  • Belief in the future of the organization; and
  • Compensation.

His research shows that belief in the future of the organization is the most important item on that list.  Without current information about vision, strategy, goals – both long-term and short-term – employees are likely to fill in the blanks themselves.  Honest, timely information about what’s happening, and engaging employees in that discussion, is powerful.

Really, how complicated is that?

Let us know what you are doing in your organization to drive employee engagement.


June 12, 2012

Employee Recognition: No One is Special

Filed under: Engagement,Management Practices,Performance Management — Joyce Marsh, HR Consultant, SPHR @ 9:36 am

Have you ever had someone tell you that you’re “one in a million?”  It sounds like such a nice compliment on its surface, and I have no doubt that whoever told you that was sincere.  But, when you stop and realize there are 7 billion people on the planet Earth that means you have 6,999 other people that are just like you.

David McCullough is an English teacher who was asked to give the commencement speech to students graduating from the Wellesley, Massachusetts high school where he teaches.  The speech has gone viral for this phrase: “You’re not special.”

Mr. McCullough’s message is much more than that.  As I watched the speech, I couldn’t help but remember what is arguably one of the most inspirational movie moments of my lifetime.  If you didn’t make the same connection, you can watch it here.  I’ll give you a hint: you may address me as “O Captain, my Captain.”

What messages do you send to your employees?  I know recognition is important.  People want to know that what they’ve done is good.  Deep down, we’re all still looking for approval from somewhere.  But, if you tell everyone they’re special – whether it’s with a stellar performance review or a celebration every time a project is completed – pretty soon, no one is special because everyone is special.

“Exercise free will and creative, independent thought not for the satisfactions they will bring you, but for the good they will do others, the rest of the 6.8 billion – and those who will follow them. And then you too will discover the great and curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself. The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you’re not special. Because everyone is.”   – - David McCullough


April 9, 2012

Have You Thanked Your Pulse Lately?

Yes, we should always say thank you to that steady beat of our pulse every morning when we wake up.  But the pulse I’m referring to is the pulse of your organization.  You know, that person who (seemingly) effortlessly manages everything in the office and picks up the pieces when things fall apart.  I’m talking about your administrative professional.  And the 2012 Administrative Professionals Day® is just around the corner and this year’s theme is: “Admins, the pulse of the office.”

Administrative Professionals Day will mark its 60th anniversary on April 25, 2012. Over those decades, the job of an administrative professional has changed dramatically thanks to new tools, techniques and seismic shifts in the economy and culture itself. But admins have remained the steady center of efficiency through it all, helping ensure that jobs get done right, on time and under budget. Admins are one of the engines of business, particularly in a complex economy. In a world that demands the accurate and speedy movement of digital information, admins are masters of data. And they do this while maintaining their more traditional role as the gatekeepers for many customers, clients and employees. Quite simply,admins are the pulse of the office.

Observed since 1952, Administrative Professionals Week is originated and solely sponsored by the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAPA).  Over the years, Administrative Professionals Week has become one of the largest workplace observances. The event is celebrated worldwide, bringing together millions of people for community events, educational seminars and individual corporate activities recognizing support staff.

A few interesting statistics about administrative professionals:

  • There are more than 4.1 million secretaries and administrative assistants in the U.S., according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics, and 8.9 million people working in various administrative support roles

According to IAAP’s 2011 Administrative Professional Skills Benchmarking Survey report, the typical administrative professional…

…is a 45-year-old woman.
…has at least an associate’s degree from a college or university.
…holds the title of “administrative assistant” or “executive assistant.”
…has at least 15 years of work experience.
…supports at least 3 managers and/or executives.
…works for a company with at least 500 employees.
…earns an hourly wage equal to about $45,000 a year.
…is responsible for troubleshooting office software and training others how to use it.
…makes purchasing decisions worth about $15,000 a year for their office.

So let’s all stop and mark our calendars to “Thank Our Pulse(s)” every day and especially during Administrative Professionals Week  - April 22-28 – and Administrative Professionals Day on Wednesday, April 25.  For some ideas on how to celebrate, check out the IAPA’s website by clicking here.


March 12, 2012

Placing Bets on Job Descriptions

I am not a gambling person, but I do have one item I would consider betting on.  And that would be the “most disliked function” within the HR profession.  I would be willing to bet a cup of coffee that one of the top five – make that top three – disliked functions would be writing job descriptions.  In most organizations I have worked at, this is the task that continuously gets shifted to the bottom of the pile.  It commonly gets pushed below reviewing resumes and even dealing with difficult employee relations issues.

Is this because job descriptions just aren’t important?  Or are they a low priority for the company?  Not necessarily.  My personal belief is that job descriptions, when completed accurately, are a time-consuming and often cumbersome process.  However, when I would start a new position, one of the best ways for me to learn about the company and employees was to conduct job evaluations and review job descriptions.

There are, of course, many other reasons job descriptions are important.  Assuming your job descriptions are accurate and up-to-date, they are great tools to review to see if an employee is measuring up to the duties as described in the job description.  Many of these duties can also be expanded on to include as performance goals.

Job descriptions can be used to comply with laws such as the ADA.  By identifying the essential functions of a position within a job description, an employer is certainly in a much better position to defend an ADA claim than if essential duties are not defined.  Job descriptions and determining essential functions are defined in this EEOC website:

And don’t forget the value of having job descriptions when reviewing training and development of employees.  By reviewing the specific requirements of a particular position, you can see what kind of training would be most beneficial to each position in your organization.

Although these reasons may not make the actual task of completing job descriptions any easier, they certainly may help you understand why job descriptions are important.  I”d be willing to bet that you won”t regret having good job descriptions in place.  And remember, HRN Performance Solutions can help your organization with its job description needs.   



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