• Let’s Fine the Emloyees

    If you have been in the HR trenches at some point  you have had to, no doubt, had to do some employee safety training at some point,  And while many of the staff, where ever you may be, tend to yawn when it comes to safety training, I often find myself defaulting back to this.  I tell them, the trainees, that this stuff is important to me, because I do not want to have to be the Company employee who has to contact the family and say,”Mrs. Ryan there has been an accident,,,”

    Good Companies work very hard to ensure that their employees are aware of safety rules and laws.  But there are those employee who refuse to follow the rules, to do what they are supposed to do.  What then should an employer do to get them to be compliant?   Recently I have been following a debate in the industrial safety circles where the conversation centers on OSHA fining employees.

    As I contemplated this, I got to thinking about another group of employees- those who drive.   Whether you are a truck driver, a sales manager or a claims adjuster there are those employees who must drive to get their job done.  So while they are doing their job, if they break the rules (run stop lights or speed) there is the chance that they may receive a traffic citation – a ticket.

    So what would be so wrong with an employee being fined by OSHA during an inspection. Here is the scenario;  during an OSHA inspection an employee is found not to be wearing the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment,   Upon investigation it is found that the  employee has been trained and provided with the equipment.  It is even discovered that the employee has previously recieved discipline for not wearing their PPE.  So to look at this another way, this would be this employee “speeding”.  What is wrong with giving the employee a “PPE Speeding Ticket” ?

    According to a few blogs I have read, something similar to this is now going on in Canada.  I think this would add a level of accountability to both employer and the employee as well.  Employee fines would also be something else for safety trainers to hold over the head of their trainees as well.  We could be in the situation now where the employer is threatening to call OHSA to come to their place of business to see and fine non-compliant employees – or maybe they might already in the facility and have s PPE trap already set-up.









  • Fight for Fifteen

    I live in a state where we have sent four of our previous six governors to jail.  We have our problems and it would appear that our governor’s 15 An hourhaving good sense is at the top of that list.  I am not sure what happens to them when they become the state’s top executive.

    Our current governor, Pat Quinn appears to have the same problem solving ability and the last 7 of them.  He is now beating the drum on the same subject as President Obama – raising the minimum wage.  I am just flabbergasted at their apparent lack of understanding about this matter.

    I am not an economist or a business expert but I do understand that the people at the bottom end of the economic spectrum, whoever they are, will always be there. No matter how much money the people at the bottom have, we will always have people at the bottom. They are there for a reason – right or wrong.

    We can raise the bottom, but then the top will go up and everyone in between will be raised.  Here is a simple example. If we raise the nation’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, the cost of everything will go up.  The cost of a gallon of gas will rise to around $8 a gallon.  Other employers will have to raise wages to retain highly skilled employees.  Highly compensated fields compensation will increase dramatically.

    When automobiles cost $75.000, people who make $15 an hour won’t be able to afford car insurance (which is required by law) let alone the car itself.

    Let me demonstrate graphically.


    Current Pay Rate $7.50 $9.00 $11.00 $15.00 $20.00 $25.00
    $15 an hour minimum wage $15.00 $18.00 $22.00 $30.00 $40.00 $50.00

    So to keep everything in proportion under the $15 an hour minim wage, people who used to make $25 an hour will make $50 – because of the market place.  That is what employers will have to do to keep those skilled quality employees.  Then they will be so much further ahead of the people who are now making $15 an hour.  It isn’t fair, I know.  Life isn’t fair and this is how free enterprise works.

    I get this – AND I am not an economist.  The only sense I can make of this, is that this is politicians are trying to placate the masses who work at minimum wage. It is a flawed concept and will not work.  HELLO?

  • SHRM Atlanta Bound

    SHRM-ATL LogoSaturday April 27th, 2013.  –  SHRM Atlanta begins on Monday morning April 29th.  I have attended and participated in my share of HR events, most of them in the Mid-West. On Monday I am off to a different region, to look at conference from a little different prospective.   I will be a Mid-Westerner in the South, and I will a speaker at one of the break out session.

    Fortunately for me, I am not flying solo, I will be presenting with the Uber-Talented  Julie Morelandfrom People Clues. Julie and I are leading an interactive session entitled HR Thinking Creatively.   This is going to be an intensely interactive session, so much, that I imagine (although I hope not) we may chase a few folks out at the opening.  The session takes place at 3 PM, and is the last of the day, as well as the last of the conference.  The challenge is on,  but I am confident we will bring home the goods!

    Past all of this, I am stoked to attend the event.  My twitter buddy Teela Jackson is one of the main conference organizers, and the President Elect of SHRM-ATL.  Teela tops the list of people I want to visit.  However, I must comment, as I reviewed the agenda I have discovered this is in-fact a varitable whose-who of peeps who will presenting at the event – below are  just the ones I know (and I am honored to be among them.)

    Jennifer Mc Clure | Matt Charney | Joe Gerstandt | Jason Lauritsen | Eric Winegardner | William Tincup | Daniel Crosby | Chris Hoyt

    I will no doubt have some tweets, some Facebook posts, and probably a blog post or two from the event.  So it’s off to Hartsfield- Jackson.



  • No Longer in Denial

    Hooray!  I am no longer in denial – as I heard it put by an HR speaker recently. She asked the group – have many of your organizations have an Affirmative Action Plan – and how many of you are still in denial?  Me and my Company are now in compliance with 41 CFR 60.  With the help of a good friend of mine, who is in the HR Consulting business and has written a number of these plans, we are now fully compliant. Yes, we do have an Affirmative Action Plan.

    AAP Image

    Knowing what I know now, I think that actually was the easy part – writing and putting the plan in place.  Now comes the really tough stuff like:

    • Actually trying to find and hire the individuals to help us meet our AAP goals
    • Getting “real” buy-in from department and hiring managers (translations not letting them think this is another BS HR program)
    • Figuring out how to get applicants to voluntarily comply with my requests to provide data
    • Planning for what year two of the plan will bring.

    While it is refreshing to know that if someone from  OFCCP drops in to see me I can proudly tell them, “Yep I have one, do you want to see it.”   Or when anyone from our sales department emails me ans sends me a document about being a Federal Contract and then asks, “What the hell is this all about?”

    I also got  a lot of help and support from my friends over at People Clues.   The system upgrades they have made have allowed me and others to collect the needed information without having to do much, other than open an Excel spreadsheet with a csv file.  This was an awesome fix to my issue.  It works so well  because we have adopted the philosophy that ALL applicants must apply on-line.  This tactic leaves no holes in our data.

    I am still new to this affirmative action stuff but me and my Company are making progress.  There is much to learn and much to accomplish. I would love to swap war stories with anyone who has gone down this path — and learned a few things along the way.



  • Is HR Sexy to the Grads

    2012 EKU Graduates

    Last weekend I attended my nephew’s college graduation  at Eastern Kentucky University.   In a few more days, I will be attending my youngest son’s graduation at SIU Carbondale.  So this has got me to thinking about what it must be like to be a graduate headed into the world, and starting out as a young professional.

    Well, being the good attentive Uncle I am, I attempted to  listened closely to what all of the commencement speakers had to say and then reflected on their comments.  What I got is this from the  speakers collectively:  now is an exciting time; go out into the world find your niche, aim for the stars and be the best that you can be – oh and don’t forget to donate as an alumni.   The students that were graduating with my nephew were from the College of Health Sciences and the College of Justice and Safety.  Many of these students will end up working as various health care occupations, nurses, policemen and firemen. I am confident that many of them will make a difference in peoples lives.

    I could sense the excitement the graduates.  They seemed genuinely amped up about going out into the world.  I would include my nephew as one of the jacked up students.  This got me to thinking about me and what I do –HR.   I will always remember hearing Johnny Taylor, former SHRM Board Chairman, speaking at a SHRM Leadership Conference.  He said this;  ” I talk to a lot of students and I don’t hear any of them saying when I grow up I want to be a benefits administrator for a Fortune 500 Company.”   I think Johnny nailed it too.  HR just ain’t sexy.   That is a problem.

    If we don’t look like a cool field to get into, we are not going to get some of the best and the brightest into our field.  So how do we make it cool – sexy?  The HROfficial does not have the answer for this one – but I think SHRM and some of the younger folks in the field had better be thinking how we are going to doll this up and get students jacked up about wanting to be in HR.

    In a effort to gauge our coolness or lack there of, I googled “Is HR sexy?”   Based upon what I found on the first two pages of returns I am going to have to go with NO.

    Perhaps if I were at a large business school with an emphasis on HR, I might get the notion that the HR profession was a little more glamorous.

    Next weekend will take me to another college graduation. I am going to mingle with these graduates and ask them, “Have you ever thought about getting into Benefits Administration?” – and see what kind of responses I get. Perhaps I will do a little video or my investigation, to capture the essence of their responses.

  • HR Meet Marketing

    I talk with a lot of different people about HR, what it is, what HR should be doing and not being and so on.  One of the more enlighten persons that I talk shop with is my Project Social Partner Laura Schroeder.  We talk about things that are “in the news” or that are getting a lot of attention within the HR space.  I particularly enjoy these conversations with Laura, because she works for a large global public concern, while I work at a mid-size privately held company. I think we enlighten and compliment each other.

    Our most recent discussion touched on some opportunities for the field of HR to improve collectively.   Laura summed up HR’s ills by suggesting  an introduction was in order;  that being HR meet Marketing.  Why this?  Well if HR would learn to embrace some concepts that Marketing has long held near and dear, some huge collective improvements could be had.

    One concept is HR needs to be better at is tracking indicators with bottom line impact (Metrics and ROI).  This still seems taboo to some folks and organization. We want to hide behind the fact that what we do is a soft skill, it’s squishy and is difficult to measure.  Well it is indeed all of that, but bright clever people need to adapt measurement methods that fit their organizations and operations so that HR can prove that we are adding value to the bottom line.  If you don’t,you are just going through the motions.   It is like this, we have then go through this training program because OSHA requires it.  Well even though it is required, what are you going to do to gain value for your organization, and then measure it. It can’t simply be a check box that needs to be checked off.  Where is the ROI?

    Many years ago I was at a wedding. A friend of mine who worked for a state agency was there, as well at the mother of one of our collective friends. My friend’s job was developing and writing test for state government.  Recently my buddy had sent a form with a number of questions, to our friend’s mother. She told my buddy, ” You know those question you sent me about my job, they don’t have anything to do with my job.” His response was,  “Well that’s my job to send you those questions.”  There was seemingly no relationship between one and the other. There should be. And in HR everything needs to relate to ROI.

    Another concept Laura and I discussed was how well does HR socialize the things it’s doing. Marketing does! They let the whole world know what they are doing; internally, externally, via new releases, web sites, social media and the list goes on.  By and large HR efforts pale in comparison to those of the Marketing inside many organizations.   It is easy to say we need to to better, but hard to do.  Communicate, communicate, communicate – you can not over do it.

    A third concept we discussed was this; is HR truly arming our staffs with the proper tools that our people need to be successful?  This too is difficult to measure, however it is paramount that it is measured to define and understand the success of our employees, managers and leaders.  For this to take place the organization has to have clearly defined goals, with the expectations of each employee known and communicated, so that they may know they are or aren’t doing their part to move the organization forward.

    These three ideas are just a few takeaways that HR should get from Marketing. There probably are many more, but this would be a great trio to begin the process.   So if you are in HR around at some other organizations and see what their marketing departments are doing. You might get  some new ideas!

  • People Clues Dashboard ATS – My Experience

    This post was originally written to be published in a magazine, but was viewed as an advertisement, and summarily rejected.  I had this nice 1500 word essay on my removal of one ATS and the installation of a new one.  The essay is very favorable toward People Clues.  I like their product very much and don’t mind telling the rest of the world that.  So if you would like to learn about People Clues and their new Dashboard super-light ATS have a go at this post.

    I have been in Human Resources for a number of years now.  One thing I have a firm grasp on now is this concept.  There is a software application for any task that you want to perform.  These days, most of them exist in the cloud. Depending upon the size or type of business that you are in, you may already have all of these bases covered.

    You may think that you do have all of your bases covered, but do you?  Are you getting the best value for your dollar?  Does each of your applications do what you want it to?  Does it do more than you need it to do? Does the application truly fit your needs?  To know the answer to these questions, you need to look at all of your software applications objectively and see if they fit your needs.  The level of integration between the package or packages is also an important consideration.

    About 18 months ago, I found myself needing to re-evaluate my Company’s software needs in regards to several applications. At the time, we were using an integrated Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and Performance Management System. To be specific, the application was Taleo Business Edition.  My Company had used the ATS for nearly two years and the Performance Management for about a year.

    Over time, what we learned about the product was the software was very feature rich and robust and hugely customizable. However, said another way, the software was complicated, not very intuitive and somewhat difficult to navigate.  This made user adoption most difficult. That combined with what I will call sub-standard customer service, collectively drove me to look for other applications to accomplish the tasks at hand.

    This put me in the market for an ATS system and a Performance Management System. I don’t really know how this task works in other organizations, only mine.  Within our Company, the process does not involve consultants or outsiders who are paid well to come in and share their knowledge.  The way it goes is, I spend a bunch of time with Google finding out what applications are out there, figuring out which ones are market leaders and then learning which applications are affordable.

    After figuring out which applications I wanted to take a serious look at, I contacted the vendors and set up on-line demonstrations.  Some companies are willing to show up at your door, or send a re-seller, but almost all of them will deal direct with a customer and do the on-line demonstration. I opted for the on-line demonstration.  Each of the demonstrations took only an hour or two.  Following the demonstrations, all (they were all cloud based) of the vendors I reviewed gave me access to their live application for one week to a month.  This is a great way to get a real understanding for the feel and ease of use of each of the applications.  Furthermore, if you set things up in the application, when you make a purchase and go live, you will keep any of the work that you have done.

    In total, I looked at four (each) ATS Systems and Performance Management systems.  Integration of the two was not hugely important to me. At the outset, I felt, given the size of our organization, I could easily use them independently, and did not perceive a great deal of value in integration.

    So, to cut to the chase, here is what happened: For the performance management side of the equation, I did not end up purchasing any applications.  Everything I liked was either too feature rich or cost too much. Our Company is not as advanced in terms of performance management as we should be (in my opinion), so I did not see the need to buy anything. Instead, I built a series of Google Docs spreadsheet forms and templates to use to gather this information.  While this solution is not the be all end all, minimally, I am getting the task of gathering data and doing performance reviews completed. Additionally, I am getting some great analysis from Google on the back side that I did not even know existed.  In the graph pictured here, the spreadsheet looks at your data and then creates counts, percentages and graphs visually presenting your information, with no set up. It is most intuitive.

    That is how I solved my Performance Management issue.  In terms of Applicant Tracking Systems, I went a little different direction.  Again, after looking at various cloud ATS Systems, I went for a relatively new player in the game, for a different reason.  As I mentioned, I did not buy a performance management application.  In not doing so, I guess you could say I left a little money in the bank.  While looking at ATS system, I did learn of a software integration that is fairly important.  This one had to do with behavioral assessments, job placement testing and the ATS.   If you want to do any type of any assessments, it is nice to integrate them with your other applicant data.  You don’t have to, but it cuts way down on the sorting and searching.  Ultimately, I chose this option.

    When I set out to look for a new ATS, I was not necessarily looking to do behavioral assessments and job placement testing.  But when I found out I could get this for a reasonable fee (in my opinion), I was thrilled to give this a try.  The Company I ended up selecting is called PeopleClues.

    PeopleClues has a relatively new super-lite ATS system they simply called the Dashboard.  It allows employers to collect behavioral assessment data, employee engagement data, and job criteria about an applicant and store it with the applicant’s online profile.   I did not see that feature simply or well-executed in other applications.  Like all of the others, I was allowed to test drive PeopleClues for a reasonable period of time. Any software vendor should let you do this or they do not believe in their product (in my opinion).  Not only did I like the application, so did my co-workers.  If you recall in my earlier efforts, I learned this lesson. Easy to use software equals easy adoption and easier implementation.

    While the PeopleClues Dashboard is a simple to use product, some might argue that it almost lacks in features.  Personally, I can think of a number of things I would like to see the package do that it currently does not do.   However, none of those are deal-breakers for me.  The PeopleClues staff has listened to my wish list.  They have reported back to me that my suggestions have been offered up by others, and that most of them are in the works and will be out with the next major revision of the product.

    Probably the best thing about the product is that there is virtually no set-up or implementation.  Everything that you need to use it is online.  I literally had it up and running in about 15 minutes.  The phone support is great as well. While I am reasonably talented with software and internet services, I am not a programmer, coder or IT guy, but I was also able to integrate PeopleClues with our website without much thought or worry.

    The jobs postings are created in PeopleClues, and that is where the center of the operations for the job postings and assessments is located.  So when applicants go to my Company’s website, all I need to do is point them to the PeopleClues site, via a URL that is generated when you create the job posting. So what I is create the message on my Company’s website and put the link under the text “click here to apply”.  The same thing applies for other sites like Monster or Career Builder.  The big job boards give you a place to put an email address or a URL.  I just paste the PeopleClues URL in the appropriate box and my Company’s job posting is done.  I don’t need an HTML programmer or an IT guy.  It is that simple. I would highly recommend the PeopleClues system to anyone who is looking for a super-lite ATS system.  Compared to other products on the market, the pricing is at the mid to low end of the spectrum.

    So, you get that I am a fan of this product.  I am also a huge fan of cloud applications in general.  When you use a cloud-based application, whether for applicant tracking, of performance management, or any other application, I see the advantages being huge.

    • No Server Space Needed
    • No installations/Server or workstation
    • No upgrades
    • The systems are accessible anywhere
    • Security issues are handled by the vendor

    I would be happy to share what I have learned with any my fellow HR folks.  Please get in touch with me and we can talk further.

  • Leading HR What’s In Store

    My youngest child is a senior in college, and even though I want to think I am a young man, but all the signs in my life tell me I am

    moving into the autumn of my career.  As someone who is passionate about the Human Resource profession I sometimes wonder where will this field of HR be in twenty years and how will it get there.  Will we end up there because that is where the collective mind of HR thought we should be, or will we end up where we are because simply by happenstance?

    My instincts tell me that we will end up where we desire to be, because the leaders of the the collective mind will help lead us there.  Mahatma Gandhi said, “We must become the change we wish to see in the world. ”  So what will change with HR in the future?  Although I am not a futurist, I see big changes on the horizon for HR of the Future.  It will not be for the faint of heart. We need to be preparing tomorrows leaders today.  They are going to be forced to deal with many issues.  I really got on this train of thought following a conversation about leadership with my blogging buddy and #ProjectSocial partner Laura Schroeder.   See what Laura has to say non the matter over at  her blog Working Girl.  Then take a look at what follows.  These are some of the issue I see confronting the HR Leaders of  tomorrow.

    Work and Mobility  In many instances it would appear today’s employer is all about bricks and mortar, but I feel that is a concept that will continue to fade into the past.  Work teams will be diverse and dispersed.  A work team can already be located around the world.  Right now societies and employees are struggling to adapt to this concept.  You may report to someone that you see face to face on very infrequent basis.  This will also continue to cut away at the concept of long-term employment.

    I see work teams of the future more like talent that is assembled for a project, for a finite period of time.  You will work together and then disband,  perhaps to work together again, or not.  The concept is very similar to making a movie, or drilling for oil.  You assemble your talent, perform this project and move on to the next, call them mercenary employees.  Some of the folks will be on site, some off site and all will move on at the completion of the project.

    The Definition Work  As technology becomes more and more pervasive and more and more intrusive,  it appears that the lines between work and non-work is going to become seriously blurred.  At least in the country our labor laws are going to have to change if we wish to compete on the world stage. What we will know as work in the future does not exist today.  It will be different.

    Productivity  How will work output be measures and evaluated. In many instances it will not be measured in any way shape or form that we are doing so today.  I see output and productivity being measured over longer periods of time – say during the duration of a project.  In some pursuits there will be certifications or endorsements to tell the world you are competent or qualified and perform work properly and in a prescribed time frame.  I see this coming more from independent agencies or not for profits.

     Health Care as an Employee Benefit This will no longer be what we know it as today.  The employee benefit will sit on top of some type of care that is provided to everyone.  Given the direction of health care and health care costs it appears that some level of care will be afforded to everyone. Employers will still sweeten the pot if you will.  Things like better funding for this, access to more exclusive providers or a greater degree of on-site or close by care, perhaps delivered by a CVS, Walgreen’s of (God Forbid) WalMart.

    Workplace Diversity  This too will change as the workplace changes most likely leading to a redefining of what it means.  What we know a s the workplace will not be the same.   And diversity – well I see us moving into one big melting pot that continues to become more and more homogeneous.  I think we will still have some classes, such as gender, age and religion.  Some of the other classes will become more of a challenge to define and I think will just go away.

    HR in Government  This is my mind is an emerging area. So many governement bodies have done such a poor job of meeting their employees’ needs employee will drive government agencies to professionalize  call it Government HR. (Hey SHRM a new certification GHR.)  As long as we continue to have growth in public sector unions and politicians making ill conceived and poorly planned government operation and staffing decisions based upon budgetary constraints, both government employees and voters will demand accountability and it will require professionals to deliver that accountability. HR in government is minimally existent today, but won’t be in the future.

    All of this talk of the future makes me think of the Jetson’s.  As a child of the ’60’s. I grew up watching  George and Jane and their family.  So much of what seemed literally outrageous has come to fruition.  The Jetson’s cooked with their fingers (microwaves),  talked on video phones (Skype) and had a robot (Rosie) to clean their house (Roomba).

    I can’t help but wonder how Human Resources will look In the Year 2525.


  • HR Challenges X 3

    As so often happens with our project social cross postings they start out as a concept between Laura and myself.  Somehow we have really come to enjoy one and others’ company. I think it’s the blogging/writing which is at the core of our relationship. Laura and I have come to respect each other for the knowledge that we hold on certain matters.  So Laura and I come up with a concept and then we email poor Lyn and ask, “Hey do you want write a post about …”  More often than not good natured Lyn is game.

    Our topic on this post came largely from Laura. It was supoosed to be on biggest challenges facing HR,  Wel I took it a little broader and made it about the thre biggest challenges in business today.  Partner two Lyn Hoyt has another look at the subject too at the HR Bacon Hut.

    Laura lives in the big business world as she works for a  multi-national company. While I work for privately held company, that is regional to the mid-west.  Lyn often times is speaking on behalf of herself as a consultant; drawing on some past HR experiences.   I tell you all of this because our post today is on the three biggest things facing HR/business today.  This will no doubt be three really unique prospectives.

    As I said I come from a relatively small operations so my view are tempered by this.  I don’t see the world so strategically as do some folks.  I tend to be more of  get the product out the door kind of guy, as opposed to contemplating our Companies employment need in 2013.  I wish I wasn’t so much that way, but it is reality for me and many other folks in the 100 to 500 employee range.   By now you have probably got the idea that my three biggest challenges are going to be a little less lofty than those of my blogging com padres.

    Additionally bear in mind that my challenges are not native to the old HR world but too business in general.  The three most important challenges we are facing today are PRICE, PRICE, PRICE and quality – in that order!  So actually that would make quality the fourth most important thing.  I am in the food business, where we process food products for the wholesale and grocery markets.  Thanks to folks like Wal-Mart, Target and Home Depot, they have nearly driven the profit margin out of all things manufactured domestically.  That would be why so much of what is sold in those stores comes from off-shore due to  pricing considerations.

    In the food business most goods move by truck. Trucks run on diesel fuel.  You have seen how gas prices have been over the last couple of years.  Diesel fuel prices are even more volital, making it nearly impossible to plan for or anticipate changes in cost.  Most of our main ingredients are agricultural based commodities.  These markets too rise and fall quickly, so you had better not get caught long or short on either end.  Employees (myself included) want annual raises, retirement and to not go backwards on health insurance benefits.  And then our customers are looking for things like rebates, promotional allowances, and growth incentive programs.

    Yeah it is tough.  So anyone who dares to manufacture in this country is operating on razor-thin margins, hoping the staff doesn’t mess anything up, for if they do they can take the entire margin out of ones days worth of production, and in-fact turn it into a loss.

    Oh and I didn’t mention the other wolves at the door, or waiting just outside: OSHA, FDA, US DOT, EPA, IRS just to name a few.  Yeah if you don’t play by their rules they are ready to pounce on you too.

    So let’s review the three most important issues facing my organization in business are price, price, price and quality.  Stay tuned in  a future post where I will discuss how manufacturers are forced to participate in reverse auctions to sell thier goods.

    Thanks UCEDE for the photo.