Welcome to Donna Rogers, MEd., SPHR Blog Site!

I share insights into the field of Human Resources Management from my perspective and experience, information upcoming conferences and seminars I participate in, as well as a bit about my personal life from time to time as it relates to my profession. I hope you enjoy and encourage you to connect with me on other social media platforms.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

21 Prezi's Last Year + 25 Clients

Wow! Now you can see part of why I have not been blogging as much as in the past. The Running an HR Department of One (aka Doing More with Less) was with my speaking partner Mr. Dave Ryan the HRCzar. In addition to the speaking list below, I did HR consulting work for 25 different companies in Gibson City, Winchester, Perry, Campaign, Bloomington, Danville, Chicago, Bradley, Henderson, Pontiac, Litchfield, and O'Fallon IL as well as one company with offices in Tennessee, Mississippi, Michigan, Ohio, Nebraska, and Illinois.  Whew! Remember, referrals are always welcome! HR is my passion!
  1. Skowronski, D. R. (2016, January). Annual HR Policy Review. Company Confidential. Riggston & Perry, Illinois.
  2. Skowronski, D. R. (2016, February). Conducting Your HR Study (aka HR Audit). Recorded for Online Webinar Deployment for Workology. Springfield, Illinois.
  3. Skowronski, D. R. (2016, March). HR Training: The Current Laws & Best Practices in Eight Critical Areas of Human Resources Responsibility. Counties of Illinois Risk Management Association – CIRMA. Springfield, Illinois.
  4. Skowronski, D. R. (2016, June). Running an HR Department of One. Kankakee Area Human Resource Managers Association - KAHRMA, Kankakee, Illinois. 
  5.  Skowronski, D. R. (2016, July). Running an HR Department of One.   Rockford Area SHRM, Rockford, Illinois. 
  6. Skowronski, D. R. (2016, August). HR Basics: Laying the Groundwork for a Successful HR Professional. Danville Area Community College - DACC. Danville, IL.
  7. Skowronski, D. R. (2016, August). What’s Hot in HR Now? Women Entrepreneurs of Central Illinois. Springfield, Illinois.
  8. Skowronski, D. R. (2016, September). Running an HR Department of One.   Metro East Illinois – MEI SHRM, Collinsville, Illinois.
  9. Skowronski, D. R. (2016, September). How to Deal with Difficult People and Conflict Management, Company Confidential, Litchfield, Illinois.
  10. Skowronski, D. R. (2016, September). Understanding the New Overtime Exemptions Rule and All Aspects of Determining Exemptions Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Counties of Illinois Risk Management Association – CIRMA. Springfield, Illinois.
  11. Skowronski, D. R. (2016, September). Running an HR Department of One. Ohio SHRM 44th Annual State Conference, Sandusky, Ohio.
  12. Skowronski, D. R. (2016, September). HR Metrics & Workforce Analytics: No Balance No ROI – The Rise of BIG Data. Illinois SHRM Annual State Conference, Oakbrooke Terrace, Illinois.
  13.  Skowronski, D. R. (2016, October). Running an HR Department of One. Decatur SHRM Annual Conference, Decatur, Illinois.
  14. Skowronski, D. R. Introduction to the Targeted Selection Interviewing Process. Company Confidential. Springfield, Illinois.
  15. Skowronski, D. R. (2016, October). How to Recognize and Manage Family Medical Leave Act -FMLA Time Off, Counties of Illinois Risk Management Association – CIRMA. Springfield, Illinois.
  16. Skowronski, D. R. (2016, October). Understanding the New Overtime Exemptions Rule and All Aspects of Determining Exemptions Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Illinois Regional Association of Counties – IRAC. Springfield, Illinois.
  17. Skowronski, D. R. (2016, October). Doing More with Less in HR, Acadiana SHRM and Louisiana Gulf Coast Oil & Energy -LAGCOE, Lafayette, Louisiana.
  18. Skowronski, D. R. (2016, October). How to Recognize and Manage Family Medical Leave Act -FMLA Time Off. Company Confidential. Pontiac Illinois.
  19. Skowronski, D. R. (2016, November). Harassment & Discrimination: Employment Compliance with Policy and The Law. Company Confidential. Springfield, Illinois.
  20. Skowronski, D. R. (2016, November). Workers Compensation Management. Counties of Illinois Risk Management Association – CIRMA. Springfield, Illinois.
  21. Skowronski, D. R. (2016, December). How to Recognize and Manage Family Medical Leave Act -FMLA Time Off. Danville Area Community College - DACC. Danville, Illinois.

Annual Review of Blogging Here & Elsewhere

This year was one of the slowest blogging years I have had due to growing consulting business, Rogers HR Consulting, on the side while maintaining my full time job.  I appreciate the independent consultants I work with to keep the consulting work going while I teach.  Of course, I review everything that goes out the door which is why my blogging time has reduced significantly over the last few years.

So to help the blog stay alive and to educate others I had a couple guest posts by:

  1. Kevin Epley who shared a great topic called Profanity in the Workplace in November.
  2. HR Student, Mary Hazard, who wrote about what a Retail Sales Manager needs to know about HR in November.
I wrote a summary of a presentation I did for the Women Entrepreneurs called What's Hot in HR? in September.  I did a post after having several personal conflict related issues in my own family post my mother's passing and did some training on the topic for a client called 10 Tips for Managing Conflict at Work or Home in May.  Also, in May, I posted a quick link to the DOL site related to Overtime Rule Published. Of course, we all know now that it got overturned or at least put on hold by a judge in Texas.  We will see what happens with it this year.  I know SHRM has been testifying on behalf of our profession lately on the topic.

I took my conflict post and shared as a regular author/blogger on Women of HR: Life's Too Short to Live With Conflict and author/blogger on Talent Culture using a similar name: 10 Quick Tips For Conflict Management.

And that is literally it except for last years summary: Highlights from 2015.  So if any of my friends would like to guest post this coming year, just let me know.  I hope to get more blogging out this year now that my brothers drunk driver has been put away for leaving the scene of an incident where a death occurred.  The family finally has some closure in the case which is about to be two years old in just a few days.  

God Bless & Thanks for the follows!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Three Platforms for Learning in Blended Classroom


I’d like to start out with a site that is not on the list SCOOP.IT but would be along the lines of Delicious and Diigo as a social bookmarking site.  I use it for all of my classes and have a link to the appropriate scoop in the appropriate class.  For example, this summer I am teaching Strategic HRM and you can see a scoop for that topic in the picture.  Click on the picture for a link to the site.
·         Describe the primary purposes or functions of the technology and how it is used. Students have to review practitioner posts as part of their blog assignment.  This is a great place to go to find good articles that I have reviewed and deemed appropriate.  They have another list of approved sites as well.  For example, in my HRM course students have to write a sample employee handbook.  As I review the articles posted, I may tag a new article related to the topic in the HRM scoop.
·         Identify strengths and/or benefits of using this technology in a blended course.  It can be used in any type of course but specifically for blended you can have students review before you meet in person to cover the main points of their findings in a particular scoop.
·         Identify weaknesses and/or liabilities of using this technology in a blended course. The weakness would be that you really can’t tell if the student went to the site and read an article. 
·         Is it no cost, commercial, subscription, shareware, or something else? Is it open source or proprietary? I would consider it an open source since its bookmarking articles from all types of sources.
·         Why is this technology significant? It’s a place I can store topics publically for students, clients, and peers for free.
·         What are people saying about it? Do some research, summarize what people are saying in your post, and Include the links to important comments about the technology. I think this is a good summary to start with: http://cursivecontent.com/what-the-heck-is-scoop-it/.  However, this is better where it compares scoop.it to several others.  Some I have heard of and use and some I don’t: https://www.brandwatch.com/2015/02/10-popular-social-bookmarking-websites-2015/.  Specifically, it caters to the type of professions related to the topics I teach like business, non-profits and corporations.


The second technology I have been using in blended and other courses since 2011 is twitter.  I have used this to build student/instructor relationships, share pertinent content, encourage pre-graduation networking with professionals in the field, and to follow related twitter chats and live blog talk radio streaming. Click picture to go to our class site.
·         Describe the primary purposes or functions of the technology and how it is used. See assignment in visual.
·         Identify strengths and/or benefits of using this technology in a blended course.  The strength is they can build relationships immediately with recruiters in the area they plan to work in advance of graduation.
·         Identify weaknesses and/or liabilities of using this technology in a blended course. Students don’t get the 140-character limit and all the abbreviations similar to texting.  The learning curve is much higher than a Scoop.it account for example. 
·         Is it no cost, commercial, subscription, shareware, or something else? Is it open source or proprietary? Free and open source.
·         Why is this technology significant? It’s a place I can store topics publically for students, clients, and peers for free.
·         What are people saying about it? Do some research, summarize what people are saying in your post, and Include the links to important comments about the technology. Since we study recruiting in HR this is a great chat to understand and participate in which is run by full-time recruiters every week at 9pm cst. https://twitter.com/jobhuntchat. Here is another weekly chat using hashtag #worktrends https://twitter.com/hashtag/worktrends that also coincides with a blog talk radio show http://www.blogtalkradio.com/talentculture.  All related to the topic the student is working in learning from the practitioners in addition to the academic learning provided in the textbooks.


LinkedIn is also used in all of my classrooms regardless of type (blended, f2f, and online) to help students learn how the recruiting professionals use the site as well as to build a professional site for their own career advancement and begin networking with those in the field. For example, they can learn specifically how the recruiters screen potential candidates using the technology via http://www.marketwatch.com/story/how-recruiters-screen-you-on-linkedin-2014-05-02.
o    Describe the primary purposes or functions of the technology and how it is used.  The students are assigned the following to accomplish this goal.  See visual of assignment.
o    Identify strengths and/or benefits of using this technology in a blended course. It gives students and upper hand on job seeking before graduation as well as understanding how the HR field uses the technology to get their job done.  Again, a practical approach to learning.
o    Identify weaknesses and/or liabilities of using this technology in a blended course. Like twitter students don’t always want to “be out there on the internet publically”.  I do give them an option to create a fake account and lock it down.
o    Is it no cost, commercial, subscription, shareware, or something else? Is it open source or proprietary? No cost and open source because people create their own accounts.
o    Why is this technology significant? One of the top 4 social accounts and the most professional site used now.
o    What are people saying about it? Do some research, summarize what people are saying in your post, and Include the links to important comments about the technology.  The following shows LinkedIn among other sites like Young Professionals: https://www.sitepoint.com/social-networking-sites-for-business/.  Also, see this gif showing linked in atop of all the best job board sites out there.

Friday, January 27, 2017


Here is another awesome research paper a student has written specific to the HR needs of small business owners (SBO).  SBO's make up a majority of my clientel because they don't have the budget or the demand for a full time HR professional most of the time.  Owners don't have time to keep up with the changes in HR which is why I am often called in as an HR consultant.  The following is printed by permission by guest author Taylor N. David:

Why Human Resources Training Matters to the Small Business Industry by Taylor N. David

This paper explores eleven sources that elaborate on the importance of Human Resources training and education in the small business industry. This paper will examine why small business owners should participate in frequent HR (Human Resources) training and how HR training can benefit their business in the long term. A brief overview on what HR departments do including why HR training is necessary for small business owners will be discussed in this paper. This paper will focus on detailed HR related issues effecting the small business industry, such as common HR mistakes small business make and showcase the importance of effectively handling employee relations. This paper will also examine creative strategies for small businesses to recruit the best possible talent, as well as several retention methods small businesses should implement in order to retain skilled and talented employees. The importance of motivation and employee-supervisor relationships will also be briefly discussed in this paper, as it is an essential component for retaining talent.
Why Human Resources Training Matters to the Small Business Industry
            Human Resources is a critical department of any organization, regardless of the size. HR departments are responsible for a vast majority of tasks including analysis and design of work, recruitment and selection, employee training and development, compensation and benefits, employee relations, HR policies, employee data, legal compliance, and support for business strategies (Gerhart et al., 2015, p. 6). Since many small businesses lack dedicated HR departments, the responsibility of Human Resources falls on the business owners’ shoulders. It is estimated that 50% of United States workers work in a small business, with small businesses accredited for creating 63% of new jobs from mid-2009 to 2012 (Marino, 2014). Small business owners can benefit from HR training in numerous ways. Frequent training can prevent small businesses from making common HR mistakes and ensure they are in compliance with national laws and regulations. Since HR work consumes 25%-35% of a small business owners’ time, frequent HR training and education can provide small business owners with information like how to effectively handle employee relations (Marino, 2014). Likewise, HR training will help small businesses develop strategies to recruit the best possible talent while also developing employee retention strategies.
Common HR mistakes
            Regular HR training can prevent common HR mistakes within the small business industry, such as wrong hires, lacking job descriptions, no record of performance documentation, not having an employee handbook, and not abiding by federal employment laws. HR training can assist small business owners in making sure they are hiring the right employee(s) for their business, as well as improving their hiring process. The hiring process is very time consuming, and it is essential that business owners do not settle for less-than-qualified employees because the cost of a bad hire can have a detrimental impact on business. Small business owners spend around $1,900 on average to hire a new employee and over 60% of small business owners have admitted to making the mistake of a bad hire, as conducted by a recent Monster study (Brooks, 2016). Hiring the wrong employee can also negatively impact how the business operates and tarnish the businesses’ image. A recent study on Monster shows that out of the 639 small businesses surveyed, more than half said that hiring the wrong employee has resulted in product errors, while 24% said they lost customers because of it (Brooks, 2016). The cost of a bad hire is likely to impact small businesses much more than large businesses. Senior Vice President of small business solutions at Monster supports this; two wrong hires can cost an average small business 3.8% of their yearly revenue, while a typical Fortune 500 company is only expected to waste 0.02% of its revenue as a result of two wrong hires (Brooks, 2016). 
HR training can also help small business owners with writing correct job descriptions. Since many small businesses do not have dedicated departments, employees perform a wide variety of tasks. It is crucial that employees know their role in the business and that starts with accurate job descriptions. On another note, a company’s job description can discourage qualified employees from applying for the position. For example, in a recent study from the Wall Street Journal, researchers rewrote 56 job advertisements to distinguish between two different approaches. The Needs-Supplies approach focused on what the company can do for the candidate, while the Demands-Abilities approach focused on what the company expects from the candidate. Out of the 991 responses, applicants who responded to the Needs-Supplies approach were rated higher than those who responded to the Demands-Abilities approach (Martin, 2016). A significant takeaway from this study shows the importance of showing room for growth and promising opportunities within job descriptions in order to attract both talented and qualified candidates.
Many small businesses make the mistake of not keeping a detailed record of employee performance. Since keeping employee records is a vital element of Human Resources, HR Training can help small business owners recognize the need for keeping performance documentation of their employees. Performance documentation records will aid small business owners in promotional decisions, as well as recognizing when an employee is causing problems within the businesses. For example, should a business owner ever have to terminate an employee, they will need to have detailed records to avoid or prepare for legal issues (Lee, 2013). Many small businesses also make the mistake of not having an employee handbook. Human Resources departments are primarily involved with constructing employee handbooks; well-written handbooks are necessary in order to protect the business as well as encouraging employees to follow the vision of the company. Employee handbooks are responsible for making sure employees understand and meet employers’ expectations and behave and perform in a satisfactory manner, while also protecting the business by treating employees consistently and to help win unemployment lawsuits and claims (Brannen). Frequent HR training also allows small business owners to review national laws they must abide by, such as non-discrimination laws, wage and labor laws, leave of absence laws (FMLA), Safety laws (OSHA), and immigration laws.
Employee Relations
            Employee relations are an imperative element to HR success; small business owners need to understand how to deal with employee complaints and assist employees with any questions or concerns they may have. An effective employee relations strategy will help build communication between the employer and employees while also validating confidentiality. Small business owners need to know how to manage complaints such as dealing with difficult employees, minimizing bullying, and preventing sexual harassment in the workplace. Strong employee relation strategies will help business owners create a trusting and positive work environment to combat such issues (Muller).  Bullying and sexual harassment claims impact even the smallest of businesses. It is important that business owners follow the EEOC’s recommendations of establishing internal grievance procedures, providing harassment training, and taking immediate action when complaints arise (Walsh, 2016). Since small businesses typically do not have dedicated HR departments, the business owner must know how to assist employees with information regarding raises and compensation and employee benefits such as vacation, time off, health insurance plans, and retirement plans.
As stated earlier, hiring the wrong employee(s) can impact small businesses in devastating ways. It is not only tremendously costly, but 30% of small business failures are blamed on poor hiring decisions (Marino, 2014). Regular HR training will help small business owners recruit the best possible talent by adopting established HR recruitment strategies. When recruiting talent, small business owners have the advantage to showcase their flexibility. Small businesses typically have fewer obstacles to face, which allows sooner opportunities for employee advancement and growth (Evans, 2014). Three fundamental recruitment strategies  small business owners should be implementing are posting on job boards, encouraging employee referrals, and using social media. A downside to using job boards like Monster or Indeed is the cost and a tremendous amount of unqualified applicants, so implementing an incentive employee referral program could be of value to small businesses. Top performing employees are most likely to surround themselves with talented, skilled people just like themselves (Evans, 2014). Small business owners should also use social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn in order to recruit top talent. Companies must find a way to adapt to the changing market and social media recruiting plays an important part in the recent shift from selection to development. This shift means that companies have to look at different areas for current employees while also finding contributing members to team (Smith, 2015). Social media sites are a great way for small businesses to look for local talent while also broadening their recruiting horizons.  
Many people wish to work for companies who establish an online presence and keep up with recent trends. In fact, a current survey conducted by MIT and Deloitte found that the majority of respondents, ages 22 to 60, desire to work for organizations who keep up with digital trends (Martin, 2016). Social media recruiting is becoming a popular trend in HR recruiting and is relatively cost effective. Social media recruitment is beneficial because both job seekers and people that know people who are looking for jobs are on social media; one can easily share a job post with their friends on social media sites at the click of a button (Evans, 2014). The recruitment side of HR training can also help small businesses improve their own interview process, such as asking open-ended questions and facilitating background checks to avoid hiring bad employees. Asking the right questions is an important part of the interview process. Employers should ask questions involving candidates’ long-term goals and questions regarding their motivation and drive in order to find the best-fit candidate for their business (Martin, 2016).
Retaining talent
            Traditional HR training and education can help small business owners develop strategies to retain valuable employees. Retaining employees is the most overlooked HR function within small businesses simply because HR departments are not established in the majority of small businesses (Newman, 2014). The cost of replacing an employee is excessively high and since it is difficult to find worthy employee talent, small business owners need reputable and proven retention methods. The estimated cost of employee turnover is 75%-150% of the employee’s salary, which helps shed a light on why retaining employee talent is so important for businesses (Marino, 2014). Small business owners are constantly competing with large businesses and do not want to lose employees to larger competition. Small businesses can develop retention strategies by paying employees above the labor market, providing more incentive and bonus opportunities, letting key employees know they’re essential to the business, creating flextime/telecommuting opportunities, and discuss future opportunities with employees (Schappel, 2012).
An important component to keeping employees satisfied and motivated is to have a respectable employer-supervisor relationship (Walsh, 2016). Since small businesses hire less employees, small business owners are likely able to develop closer and more personable relationships between their employees. Small business owners should communicate effectively to their employees and listen to their goals and interests. Employees want to feel valued, so it is important to give constructive feedback and recognition when it is deserved. Likewise, small  businesses should conduct yearly satisfaction surveys and assessments in order to make necessary changes to retain employees. This may help with job burnout and assist in developing job rotation or job enrichment strategies. By implementing these retention strategies, employees will feel valued and feel like their employer is looking for their best interest, which will likely reduce employee turnover statistics.
            Although small businesses typically lack dedicated HR departments, HR training can benefit the small business industry in remarkable ways. Some would say the HR department is the supporting structure of a company; a successful business cannot ignore HR tasks and responsibilities. Small business owners should participate in frequent HR training or classes in order to keep up-to-date with current issues and to get the most out of their business. Overlooking HR duties can financially burden an organization and negatively affect company performance. Since HR work consumes nearly one fourth of a small business owners’ time, there is absolutely no reason to not partake in HR training and education (Marino, 2014). Frequent HR training will give small business owners’ peace of mind by assuring them they are not making common HR mistakes and to confirm they are complying with federal and state laws, while also providing small business owners with creative employee relations, recruitment, and retention strategies.

Brannen, A. (n.d.). 5 reasons every employer needs an employee handbook. Retrieved September
25, 2016, from http://www.multibriefs.com
Brooks, C. (2016, May 12). Dollars and Sense: The Cost of a Bad Hire. Retrieved September 22,
2016, from www.businessnewsdaily.com
Evans, T. (2014, June 26). 6 Recruiting Strategies for Small Businesses. Retrieved September
25, 2016, from http://blog.hrsmart.com
Gerhart, B., Noe, R., Hollenbeck, J., & Wright, P. (2015). Human Resource Management:
Gaining a Competitive Advantage (9th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Lee, R. (2013, October 2). The Importance of Documenting Performance. Retrieved September
22, 2016, from www.business2community.com
Marino, A. (2014, April 23). New Infographic: Statistics on Small Business Human Resource
Trends. Retrieved September 22, 2016, from www.prnewswire.com
Martin, M. (2016, August 5). 9 Ways to Improve Your Hiring Process. Retrieved September 24,
2016, from www.businessnewsdaily.com
EMPLOYEE RELATIONS STRATEGY. Retrieved September 22, 2016, from
Schappel, C. (2012, June 28). 10 most effective employee retention methods. Retrieved
September 26, 2016, from www.hrmorning.com
Smith, B. (2015, April 17). Belinda Kathryn on Digital Recruitment. Retrieved September 28,
2016, from www.blogtalkradio.com
Walsh, B. (2016, Summer). Management 310 Organizational Behavior: Blackboard PowerPoint

Slides. Lecture presented in IL, Springfield.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Retail Sales Management & Human Resources

PREFACE: Every now and then, I stumble upon an outstanding student paper that would be very helpful to certain management members in a specific field. As we are in the hieght of the retail sales season as we just passed Black Friday and today is Cyber Monday, I am sure some Sales Managers are pulling their hair out especially if they have employee issues on top of the busiest time of the year. The following has some fantatastic insight for Retail Sales Managers and I hope it helps someone in that field. Welcome Guest Blogger Mary E Hazard. Reprinted her by permission.

What Sales Managers Need to Know
About Human Resource Management
Mary E. Hazard
University of Illinois Springfield

This paper highlights what Sales Managers need to know about Human Resource Management (HRM). HRM education and training can help Sales Managers set their companies, products, and services apart, and can help them gain an advantage over their competition in the marketplace. Sales Managers need to know how HRM influences the organizational landscape, the organization’s employees (talent), and the organization’s rules and regulations. Investigation used in the compilation of this paper was done largely via the MGT431 class textbook, Human Resource Management: Gaining a Competitive Advantage written by Raymond A. Noe, John R. Hollenbeck, Barry Gerhart, and Patrick M. Wright (2015). Supplemental research surveys verified Human Resources (HR) blogs and reputable internet sources.
What Sales Managers Need to Know
About Human Resource Management
            A Sales Manger’s number one objective is to close deals and grow the company’s bottom line. There are seemingly countless selling techniques being used by sales professionals of varying skill levels and responsibilities to tout their company’s goods. After all, products and services generally do not sell themselves; people primarily do the selling. Companies who employ the most capable sales staff will thus position themselves to garner the highest possible profits and market share. Competency in HRM can help Sales Managers establish and retain best-in-class sales teams.
            Sales competition is fierce. It can be especially fierce in industries rife with other companies selling comparable products and services. Sales Managers need to be strategic in how they assemble and supervise their teams. As stated by Noe, Hollenbeck, Gerhart, and Wright (2015), “the goal of strategic management in an organization is to deploy and allocate resources in a way that gives it a competitive advantage.” (p.72) In order to set themselves apart from the pack, Sales Managers should continuously monitor their organization’s landscape, their workforce, and the policies and procedures that impact how their business gets done.
Organizational Landscape
            Mission and strategy. Noe et al. (2015) explain the difference between strategy formulation and strategy implementation (p. 76). During the strategy formulation process, senior leadership outlines the company’s mission and goals (2015). They also perform an analysis of the organization’s internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as its external opportunities and threats (also called a “SWOT” analysis) (2015). While front line managers may not have a hand in formulating the company’s overall strategy, they are held responsible for executing it. For Sales Managers, this largely entails seeking to employ the most adept salespeople, making sure that these salespeople are aware of the company’s mission and strategy, and subsequently holding them accountable for achieving the company’s primary objectives (2015).
Organizational culture. There is an old adage that “the tone is set at the top.” Sales Managers need to lead by example; they need to “walk-the-walk” and “talk-the-talk.” According to the Harvard Business Review, “why we work determines how well we work.” (McGregor & Doshi, 2016) There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to motivating employees; however, clearly communicating the company’s mission and vision helps to establish “why” employees come to work each day and also why they should endeavor to carry out the company’s goals.
Employee engagement. Noe et al. (2015) define employee engagement as “the degree to which employees are fully involved in their work and the strength of their commitment to their job and the company.” (p. 25) Survey results on the subject are less than promising: 63% of employees report that they are not engaged; 43% of employees state that their managers somehow impede their performance; and just 26% trust that their managers think about them when considering relevant business matters (p. 25). Sales Managers need to be aware that their staff likely suffers from a lack of engagement, and should proactively take steps to improve it.
In Episode 62 of the Workology Podcast, titled “Thinking Differently About Employee Engagement & Workplace Productivity,” Jessica Miller-Merrell, the Chief Blogger at Blogging4Jobs.com, interviewed David Sturt. Sturt is the Executive Vice President at O.C. Tanner Company, as well as the author of the book Great Work: How to Make a Difference People Love. The two discussed how companies are constantly looking for new ways to distinguish themselves from their competition, innovate, and add value for their customers (Miller-Merrell & Sturt, 2015). They noted how having a workforce motivated to perform above and beyond expectations can help organizations achieve a competitive advantage (2015). A survey was referenced in which workers were asked: What would influence you to do great work? (2015) Thirty-seven percent of respondents said that they want more feedback from their superiors; they want to be recognized, and/or just simply told they are doing a good job (2015). Providing this type of brief verbal feedback is a timely and cost-effective way that Sales Managers can encourage their teams while simultaneously boosting morale.
Another way Sales Managers can positively impact employee engagement is by embracing flexible work options. Noe et al. (2015) state that “because of work demands 75% of employees report having not enough time for their children, and 61% report not having enough time for their husbands and wives.” (p. 28) This data implies that the majority of workers struggle to achieve an appropriate work-life balance. Permitting staff to work remotely is becoming more commonplace, with “approximately 9.5% of or 13.4% million U.S. employees…working at home at least one day a week.” (p. 28) Offering this benefit would not only satisfy existing employees, but also likely attract future applicants (p. 28). It is advisable, though, for managers to put formal guidelines in place regarding telework policies, in order to avoid liability and ensure workers are staying on task (Genova, 2010).
Job analysis and design. As described by Noe et al. (2015), job analysis is “the process of getting detailed information about jobs.” (p. 176) Managers need to understand the jobs being performed by their subordinates (p. 177). Fully comprehending each employee’s scope of work will help Sales Managers construct an appropriate work-flow process, hire the best possible candidates to fill open positions, and accurately measure worker performance (p. 177). Once roles are clearly defined, managers will be able to redesign work, if necessary, in order to maximize team productivity, motivation, satisfaction, safety, health, and achievement (p. 192).
Organization’s Workforce
            Recruiting. Sales Managers can and should take advantage of their vast professional networks by staying active on, and “e-cruiting” (Noe et al, 2015, p. 230) via, social job networking sites like LinkedIn. When sending LinkedIn InMail messages to prospective candidates, recruiting specialist Ninh Tran suggests that prospectors reach out to people in their immediate networks first (Tran, 2016). He also recommends that InMail be sent during the work week: InMails sent on a Thursday between the hours of 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. have a 12% greater chance of getting a response than messages sent on a Friday at the same time; messages sent on weekends receive even lower reply rates (2016).
            Noe et al. (2015) point out that while technology makes it easier than ever before to disseminate resumes and exchange applications, most open positions are ultimately filled through word-of-mouth and employee referrals (p. 228). Mary Kaylor, Manager of Public Affairs for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), recently referred to an organization’s current workers as “passive recruiters,” and maintained that “when you have a supportive, fair and kind environment, your employees will share their happiness – and news about your open jobs – with their friends and relatives, letting others know that it’s a great place to work.” (Kaylor, 2016) Employee referrals are one of the best quality sources of potential applicants (Noe et al., 2015, p. 233), and engaged employees are some of a company’s (and in turn, a Sales Manager’s) best advocates.
            Selection. If a Sales Manager will be conducting interviews, it is imperative that he or she first be trained on proper interview techniques, so as to mitigate the company’s risk (Noe et al., 2015, p. 266). Similarly, interviewing managers should conduct interviews in tandem, with other trained interview personnel, in order to eliminate bias (p. 265). When selecting applicants to fill sales positions, situational interviews and personality inventories would be particularly helpful. During a situational interview, candidates are asked ‘experience-based’ questions, in which they describe how they have dealt with specific issues in the past; as well as ‘future-oriented’ questions, in which the interviewer inquires how the candidate would apply his or her past experience to specific scenarios that may occur in the future (pp. 264-265). Both question types are valid; however, experience-based questions tend to hold more weight (p. 265). Answers also give insight into an interviewee’s selling savvy.
Personality inventories, while statistically not as valid as situational interviews, are designed to classify an applicant’s disposition type (p. 270). Noe et al. (2015) detail ‘the Big Five’ personality dimensions: Extroversion, adjustment, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness to experience (p. 270). It is noted that extroverts tend to be proficient salespeople, due to their innately confident and outgoing nature (p. 271).
            Training. Training success largely depends on the support of one’s managers and peers (Noe et al., 2015, p. 295). Sales Managers should encourage their employees to take advantage of training opportunities and foster a culture of continuous learning. As a supplement to formal corporate training programs, HR Pro Sharlyn Lauby suggests that companies encourage comparably informal peer-based mentoring, coaching, feedback, and recognition (Lauby, 2016). Peer-based learning sessions, like “Lunch and Learns,” can be planned easily and economically. Lauby also notes that this type of environment can allow subject matter experts to become more comfortable presenting information to groups (2016).
            Compensation. Noe et al. (2015) stress that a company can use its compensation policy to execute strategy (p. 90). Sales Managers can use pay and incentives to entice desirable candidates and/or to influence their existing team’s performance (p. 90). HR Pro Ben Eubanks advises managers to assess whether their organization seeks to be a “market leader” or a “market lagger.” (Eubanks, 2015) Market leaders must be willing to pay employees more competitively than market laggers (2015). Compensation may take other forms, as well. Noe et al. (2015) list incentives, benefits, on-site daycare services, and travel discounts as forms of compensation that attract talent and drive employee engagement (p. 26).
Organization’s Rules
            Ethics. Relationships play a large role in Sales. Sales professionals strive to build relationships with prospective clients; they also seek to maintain and strengthen relationships already in place with their customers (both internal and external). Successful relationships, whether personal or professional, require that an element of trust be present between the parties. Noe et al. (2015) cite data “that 45% [of employees surveyed] had witnessed some form of unethical conduct at their workplace…[and] only 18% of Americans rated business executives high or very high on [the dimensions of] honesty and ethical behavior” (p. 43). Sales managers must be mindful that unethical behavior is a very real concern in business. They likewise need to acknowledge that while it is relevant, it certainly should not be tolerated.
Laws. While ethics matter, it is of equal (or arguably greater) importance that Sales Managers ensure that they and their subordinates follow the letter of the law. Non-HR pros should particularly become acquainted with pertinent employment laws, including but not limited to those concerning equal employment opportunity, discrimination, and safety (Noe et al., 2015).
Conclusions and Future Study
            This paper touches on just a few of the key HRM topics with which Sales Managers should familiarize themselves in order to stay competitive. To make the most of HRM education and training, Sales Managers need to be familiar with their company’s environment, people, and policies. It is essential to note that HRM is a progressive field. It is ever-changing and constantly adapting to account for new technologies, methodologies, and concepts. Sales Managers should not take a “one-and-done” approach to studying HRM; they can benefit from a regular review of HRM subject matter. The presence of HRM on social media makes keeping up with the most current news and trends quick and easy. I would recommend that all Sales Managers follow relevant HRM sources on social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. The verified HR blogs that have been introduced via MGT431 are also valuable resources that are simple to access and full of informative, engaging content that is very useful for Non-HR Professionals.
Eubanks, B. (2015, March 29). Compensation problems: Determining pay rates [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdu55CgeqEQ
Genvova, G.L. (2010). The anywhere office = anywhere liability. Business Communication Quarterly, 73(1), 119-126. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1080569909358104
Kaylor, M. (2016, October 7). Your employees are the absolute best recruiters #HRTechConf [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://blog.shrm.org/blog/your-employees-are-the-absolute-best-recruiters
Lauby, S. (2016, February 25). Make training more impactful with peer-based learning [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.hrbartender.com/2016/training/make-training-more-impactful-with-peer-based-learning/
McGregor, L., & Doshi, N. (2015, November 25). How company culture shapes employee motivation. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2015/11/how-company-culture-shapes-employee-motivation
Miller-Merrell, J., & Stuart, D. (2015, October 28). Thinking differently about employee engagement & workplace productivity [Episode 62]. Workology Podcast. Podcast retrieved from http://www.blogging4jobs.com/podcast/ep-62-employee-engagement-workplace-productivity/
Noe, R.A., Hollenbeck, J.R., Gerhart, B., & Wright, P.M. (2015). Human resource management: Gaining a competitive advantage (9th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.
Tran, N. (2016, June 1). How to recruit on LinkedIn, fast, without breaking the bank [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.blogging4jobs.com/hr/how-to-recruit-on-linkedin-fast-without-breaking-the-bank

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Profanity in the Workplace

I ran across this post written by my good friend and fellow HR professional Kevin Epley, SHRM-SCP, SPHR and thought it would be an excellent guest post because I have ran into this problem in the past myself.
As a Human Resources professional have you ever found yourself doing battle with the problem of profanity in your workplace? In my industry, Automotive Retail Sales and Service, there seems to be a “good old boy” and “that’s the way it’s always been” culture that has allowed for profanity. It goes against our goals of culture change, continued diversity and renewed customer service strategies. Besides, it’s simply unpleasant. And, what does “profanity in the workplace” have to do legislative news? I’ll get to that.

Short of becoming the “profanity Nazi” (Seinfeld Soup Nazi episode) or HR as overly parental, I wrestle with the prevalence and the problems of profanity in our workplace. In researching for support, I’ve discovered it’s more common a problem than first thought. It doesn’t help that Millennials, and even younger workers, are increasingly tolerant of profanities presence. Or, perhaps, I’m becoming a “prude” in my advancing years?

So, I thought I’d share a few of the key takeaways I’ve discovered from this topic of Profanity in the Workplace. I’ll begin with NLRB’s role in profanity. It can be considered employee’s protected concerted activity, Hooter’s Restaurant court case. Or not, City of Portland 2013 case, on grounds of religion. The hard and fast rule, of which there are few, profanity may not be in violation of EEO guidelines explicitly related to profanity of a religious, racial, ethnic, and gender-based nature. Companies should also have a zero-tolerance policy for language regarding sexual acts. Stop the “F-bombs”! Another hard and fast rule, one in which many employees have found themselves in disciplinary hot water.

So, what is an employer to do, ignore or develop policy that can lead to their own F-bomb, “Firing”? Policy should consider the type of industry, culture and amount of direct customer contact. Evaluate the context of the profanity. Was it a rare outburst resulting from an unusual negative work outcome? Or, was it part of an ongoing, sustained feud between employees that became intimidating, hostile and could result in a charge of workplace harassment, or violence? Put policy in writing. Be concise, specific and clear about expectations and outcomes from your employees. Train supervisors and managers in handling the subject of profanity. As always, run policy and enforcement issues by company legal to be sure you’re on solid legal footing.

I’ll leave you with a few eye-opening statistics I stumbled upon that help me better understand why profanity may be better left at home, in the car, or fall silent. A recent CareerBuilder survey discovered;

  • 81% of employers believe cursing brings an employee's professionalism into question
  • 64% of employers think less of an employee who swears repeatedly
  • 57% said they are less likely to promote someone who uses curse words
  • 71% of employers said that swearing shows a "lack of control," while 68% says swearing demonstrates a "lack of maturity"
  • Perhaps most interestingly, says CareerBuilder.com spokesperson Jennifer Grasz, is that 54% of employers said that swearing made their employees appear "less intelligent" 
It should be noted that there are some that believe profanity in the workplace is a positive thing. Adam Connors, partner at Spire Search Partners in Hoboken, N.J., disagrees-- he says that swearing in the workplace can actually be a positive or neutral thing, depending on the context. “Profanity, by itself, is not going to keep someone from the promotion they deserve,” says Mr. Connors.

 “After all, the Mythbusters confirmed that swearing helps you to tolerate pain. So, no getting mad at people when they smash their finger with a hammer and let bad words fly.” Nonetheless, I’ve never found profanity to be a positive thing. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

What's HOT in HR?

I admit, adding #Blogger to any of my online profiles looks like an untruth especially, if you look at the gaps this past couple years with my blogging efforts.  However, I plan to do better going forward starting with this blog I intended to write in August just before I spoke to the Women Entrepreneurs of Central Illinois (WE-CE) at Engrained Brewery Company on Lincolnshire Boulevard here in Springfield, IL.  While it was a fantastic turnout and I delivered my top five HOT HR issues list, I have since had the opportunity to learn more from the following work prep and attendance at various events:

  • HR Management Development meeting with a client in and his team;
  • The start of my fall class line up with two Managing Organizational Behavior (1 Online & 1 Face2Face) and two Human Resources Management (1 Online & 1 Face2Face) courses;
  • HR Audit conducted at a clients client location in Southern IL;
  • Full Day HR Training for another clients client (yes, I sub contract);
  • A speaking Gig at MEI-SHRM with my pal +Dave Ryan ;
  • HR Handbook training in three client locations;
  • A Conflict Management Training at a clients client while another FLSA program I developed was being delivered to my client by a consultant I hired since I couldn't be in two places at once;
  • Another speaking Gig at OHSHRM16 +Dave Ryan while sitting in on a recruiting session with friend +Tiffany Kuehl and an enticing conversation about performance management changes with another colleague; and
  • Finally speaking about HR Metrics and Workforce Analytics in the grand theater at Drury Lane in Oakbrooke Terrace earlier this week at ILSHRM16 in addition to a fabulous dinner and presentation by Ultimate Software at Gibson's Steakhouse.
So it's been a full couple of months of HR intake as you can see with not much time for recording.  Here goes the list I shared at the WE meeting with some additional information learned since then.  
  1. OVERTIME EXEMPTION RULE: The new DOL overtime rule affects all positions that are exempt based on the Administrative, Executive, and Professional duties tests.  Basically, the minimum and maximum dollar thresholds are being changed.  The minimum an exempt employee can make is $46,476 and the maximum is $134,004 as long as all other aspects pass the exemption tests. All employers will have until December 1, 2016 to comply.  I strongly suggest they not only make a decision on the threshold but audit all jobs currently considered exempt to make sure they actually pass the duties tests.  In my work as an HR Consultant, I do a great deal of HR Audits and I have found more so than not organization do not fully understand how to comply and have positions misqualified as exempt.  Just last night the House voted to postpone this DOL requirement but before your put the brakes on what I suggested, remember it has to go through the Senate and White House which is unlikely to be passed.
  2. ELECTION ISSUES: Everyone should pay attention to HR and organizational management issues that will affect them in the workplace.  These include: ACA-Employer Effects, Overtime, Immigration Reform, Retirement Reform, Medical & Family Leaves, Pay Equity, NLRB & Union Organizing, Employee versus Independent Contractor and EEOC Protections.
  3. WORKFLEX: When 8% of the overall workforce and 10% of the IT workforce will entertain a pay decrease to have flexibility in their job according to recent study's, employer's need to give up the old philosophy of "seeing is believing".  In other words, realize employees can be held responsible to get the job done when they are not sitting right out your door.  Programs such as Job Sharing, Hours Changes, Telecommuting, Work from Home, etc. are all options to engage and empower the workplace.
  4. ONBOARDING & RETENTION: The investment we put into our onboarding process as employers makes a huge impact on whether or not the new employee stays or not.  This is a huge problem when skills are so hard to find already with a growing labor shortage and generational impact.  Statistically, over 57% of new employees leave their job within the first 12 months.  If they are in a senior level position, it is likely that 1 out of every 2 will leave within 18 months.  If you calculate the average cost of each hire which starts at $4k minimum, the total cost of replacement can be as much as 150% of each salary.  So for example an employee with an $80K per year salary would cost $120k to replace them.  Fix this alone and your bottom line will see an improvement.
  5. PART TIME STATUS: Make sure your part-time employees are receiving the benefits they are due based on changes in the regulations.  ACA, FMLA, and recent changes to 401k requirements may have an impact.  Also, think about your competition who are starting to offer competitive benefits to their part-timers like Starbucks.
Thanks for reading, feel free to comment, and I hope to post again sooner than later this time around!