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, April 25, 2013

Live on "Internet Radio"

Here is a link to the archived show where we talked about Interviewing & SHRM MAC responsibilities: Donna Rogers at Lunch with DriveThruHR 04/29 by DriveThru HR | Blog Talk Radio

I will be on Drive Thru HR Monday 4/29/13 at Noon.  Please join us: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/drivethruhr/2013/04/29/donna-rogers-at-lunch-with-drivethruhr

My previous conversation with Drive Thru HR was on 11/15/11:

In the 2011 show we talked about the Strategic Human Resources Management course I was developing for the University of Illinois at Springfield's brand new Graduate HR Certificate that launched this fall.  The day of the show was just prior to the annual SHRM Leadership Conference in Washington DC so that too was part of the conversation.  Finally, we discussed volunteerism for SHRM, advocacy for HR profession and what to do when visiting the nations capitol.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Would it all Fall apart if Human Resource Professionals Did Not Exist?

Every now and then a student in my class really "get's it" and does a good job communicating same.  Get's what you might ask? Well the HRM course I teach is part of a BBA degree and a Management minor.  Not everyone in that class plans to be in HR, nor do they even like HR in some cases. That is ok with me because I realize I may be one of the very few "HR Geeks" in this universe that can truly shine the light in this picture and actually mean it. However, what I do try to convey over the course of a semester that even though HR (the title) may not be your profession, if you are in business and especially management, you still have HR responsibilities when you have employees that report to you.  Alisa get's it and I think her story can be helpful to others in business which is why I obtained her permission to share her midterm paper her on my blog.  Enjoy!   

Would it all Fall apart if Human Resource Professionals Did Not Exist?   
by Alisa Jokisch on March 6, 2013
I have been in the professional work world for almost five years, and whether a good thing or not, have had the opportunity to work for five different companies during this time.  This is by no means something I had planned, or wanted, but I must say it has proven to be a great learning experience.  I have worked for both large and small companies and all but one had a designated Human Resource Department.  It was the smallest company I have worked for with approximately ten employees.  During this time I experienced my first job loss as the company filed for bankruptcy.  Although the reasoning for their action seemed to have nothing to do with personnel issues, looking back, I wonder what would have been different if the owner/president hadn’t worn so many “hats”.  Would the presence of a human resource professional have made a difference?  Does the importance of human resource knowledge have an effect on the small business owner?

I believe the answer to be yes; things would have been different if that company had had a human resource professional.  The owner/president might have been able to control the circumstances that led to bankruptcy if consulting with a human resource professional was an option at the time.  Although there were only ten employees, the fact remains, human resource is a viable part of the company’s success.  Human resource knowledge, whether basic or extensive, is a great asset for any employee to have and is relevant in all job industries.  I will be discussing the importance of human resource professionals in the workplace, especially in the small business environment, and addressing the following questions: 
  1. Can human resource be taught to individuals who don’t specialize in it?
  2. Are human resource consultants outside of the company an option?
  3. Does human resource management impact the survival of the small business owner?

Can human resource be taught to individuals who don’t specialize in it?
One of the topics up for debate is whether or not it takes a skilled human resource professional to handle personnel issues.  According to Noe, Hollenbeck, Gerhart, & Wright (2013), “A college degree is held by the vast majority of Human Resource Management (HRM) professionals, many of whom also have completed postgraduate work” (p. 12).  Based on a 2009 article in HR Magazine, the median salaries for HRM positions ranged from $59,300 to $189,000 (Noe, et al., 2013, p. 11).
Having a well-educated Human Resource Manager will benefit companies in many ways.  However, just like the company I worked for previously, small business owners might not always have the financial freedom to employ human resource professionals.  Although the option of staffing a human resource professional might not be possible, the small business owner must still take the steps necessary to ensure their employees are receiving the proper human resource information.   

Human resource is a diverse, ever-changing industry.  Keeping up with changes may mean studying employment laws (new and old), policies and procedures, or advances in technology.  Understanding employment laws would be a large task in itself.  For example, if a small business owner has a pregnant employee they must be well informed on the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.  If the employer is not well educated in human resource, they may not know that they cannot refuse to hire a woman because of her pregnancy or a pregnancy related-condition (Noe, et al., 2013, p. 115).  As a small business owner, you must be able to handle all this among other everyday business functions.

The benefit of human resource knowledge can affect functions such as hiring, salaries, and employee satisfaction.  For example, Rogers (2009) discussed the importance of learning to probe people during interviews by asking behavior based questions.  Furthermore, interviewers must know what questions they should avoid asking.  It may be discriminatory to ask: how old are you, what is your race, are you married, do you have any physical defects (O’Neal, 2011, p. 57).  Rogers (2009) also explained the value behind pricing jobs and positions in a competitive manner against other companies in the industry.  Also, using employee opinion surveys to see how they are doing as a company, and especially how the managers are doing (Rogers, 2009).

These are just a few steps one can take if they are not previously educated in human resource management.  Although some companies would prefer a Human Resource Manager with a college degree, for a small business owner, this might not be an option.  In that case, human resource management can be taught through proper training such as seminars, internships, and even learning through human resource consultants.

Are human resource consultants outside of the company an option?
For the small business owner a great source for human resource information would be an outside human resource consultant.  Over the past decade human resource outsourcing has grown tremendously and is only expected to continue (Korkki, 2012, para. 2).  In an article in The New York Times, Korkki explains that “Outsourcing allows companies to offload work that isn’t part of their core business” and it may also save the company money (Korkki, 2012, para. 3).  Those that do use it can often offer better benefit packages resulting in hiring better talent (Gutner, 2011, para. 4).  Outsourcing is something that would have worked well for my previous example of the small business owner who wore “too many hats”.

Rogers HR Consulting is an example of a firm that can provide excellent human resource training.  According to a 2009 interview, Rogers HR Consulting can provide companies with human resource services such as employment laws, termination, human resource audits, interviewing, salary development, employee training, and job descriptions, just to name a few (Rogers, 2009).  Outsourcing can free up clients to focus solely on their services and not worry about non-revenue generating activities.  An article found on Entrepreneur.com states “from payroll and human resource management to benefits and compensation, entrepreneurs can spend up to 40 percent of their precious day engaged in these necessary but time-sucking tasks” (Gutner , 2011, para. 1).

There are questions to consider before deciding if outsourcing is the right choice for your company.  What is the size of your company?  Larger companies make it easier to have an in-house department.  The ideal size for outsourcing is “between 16 and 80 people” (Gutner, 2011, para. 7).  How much will it cost?  Prices may vary depending on the company and services needed.  How much control does a business owner want to give up?  Business owners must be open to suggestions and follow through on recommendations (Gutner, 2011, para. 10).
Does human resource management impact the survival of the small business owner?
No matter the industry or size of the company, staying up-to-date on human resource laws, policies, and procedures is a must.  Along with the previous discussed small business, I have also worked for a small business that did have an established Human Resource Department.  This company had a lot of turnover among their Certified Nursing Assistants and their Registered Nurses.  They were constantly interviewing for these positions.  Recruiting was a big part of their job.

According to O’Neal (2011) “Recruiting is a demand and supply issue: How many people do we need? (demand) and Where can we find them? (supply)” (O’Neal, 2011, p. 39).  These human resource professionals went to many job fairs and also spent time going to the Certified Nursing Assistant graduations.  This was a great way to promote the company with no time taken away from supervisors.  Unfortunately, during my time there I also saw a lot of job loss.  This is an example of what O’Neal was referring to as “demand.”  The Human Resource Manager was able to determine, along with the owner and board members, what jobs were necessary and what job cuts needed to be done due to financial reasons.  As a small, family owned business, the level of importance to hire the best possible candidates was very high.  Unlike some of their larger corporate competitors, they could not afford the hiring and training costs.
Understanding benefit packages is another reason for a small business owner to educate themselves on the topic of human resource management.  While I worked for my previous employer the health insurance plan changed twice.  The owner and board members worked closely with the Human Resource Manager to ensure we were getting the best possible plan for both the employees and the company.  As a struggling small business owner, knowing they are getting the best possible rate plan could not only save money, but also be an incentive for an employee to stay with the company.  Proper human resource management will make certain that employers are following all laws required by the federal government.

Offering additional benefits such as the Employee Assistance Program is another incentive to keep employees happy.  The Employee Assistance Program is a referral program for employees to seek professional treatment for multiple reasons (Noe, et al., 2013, p. 450).  These types of programs show current and potential employees that you care about their wellbeing.  A well-trained Human Resource Manager should help with determining whether an employee is in need of professional assistance, or just having a bad day.  According to the Center for Disease Control “in a 3-month period alone, patients with depression miss an average of 4.8 workdays and suffer 11.5 days of reduced productivity” (Li, 2012, Para. 3).  Knowing your employees’ personalities and habits is especially important for a small business owner who cannot afford to lose time or money by recurring employee absences.
We have learned about the importance of human resource management among small businesses.  Human resource may be taught to those individuals who are not educated in the field.  Seminars are a useful resource for non-professionals to learn both basic and extensive human resource skills.  Outsourcing human resources is also a great financial option for small business owners.  Not only can this save the company money, but it also saves quality time that should be spent on services.

Companies can benefit from human resource professionals in so many ways.  They can provide proper knowledge of laws, policies, and procedures.  This could save a company from hiring the wrong person or firing someone for inappropriate reasons.  My previous experience with small businesses may not have been the best; however, I learned just how imperative the presence of a human resource professional is in a company.  This is also what has led me to work towards a profession in the human resource industry.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

HR & Religious Institutions

Have you ever thought of your place of WORSHIP as a workplace?  Well it is!  I just did some sexual harassment (they called it sexual ethics) training at a religious establishment earlier this year and heard stories about how pastors where taking advantage of their female EMPLOYEE's.  It was not overt and not the Quid Pro Quo type but it would defiantly fall into "HOSTILE WORKPLACE".  One of my students recently wrote a paper touching on all the things an institution of this nature would need to know about HR.  I felt his application was so on target that I sought his permission to post on this site.  

What Should Non-Human Resource Professionals Know about Doing Human Resources in Religious Institutions

by Benjamin Keller

University of Illinois, Springfield
Management 431, Section B
Professor Donna Rogers
March 3, 2013
Revised: April 10, 2013

What Should a Non-Human Resource Professional Know about
Human Resources in a Religious Institution

It seems that most commonly, non-human resource professionals find themselves doing human resource management (HRM) in a small business setting. Many smaller businesses do not have a professional on staff and may not be able to afford the specialized hardware, software, or expertise to handle HR matters. Others may not even be able to afford to outsource these services (Noe, Hollenbeck, Gerhart, & Wright, 2013, p. 206). It is vital then for these smaller businesses that key leadership, such as management, has some basic HR knowledge (Rogers, 2009a).
            Although many would agree to the importance of this at least in theory, reality tells a different story.  A study by Tocher and Rutherford (2009, pp. 456, 459) notes that most often for small businesses, human resource management is not really on anyone’s radar until there is an acute need. In a separate study, Rutherford also noted that “HRM problems generally precede the development of HRM activities” or in other words—too often it is too little, too late (Rutherford, Buller, & McMullen, 2003, p. 323). Churches, as small non-profit business, unfortunately find themselves in this predicament more frequently than not, or so it seems. In a recent meeting with my own church’s ruling council on this matter, few of them had thought through the implications of not having any HR policies or not being in compliance with employee rights posters. Their response, which I imagine is like that of most churches, can be summed up with the following phrase: “We’ve never thought about it and considering the implications, we’ve been very fortunate so far.” Additionally, no one had considered the possibility that if litigation ensued for negligence, they, as the church’s corporate officers, could also find themselves named in a lawsuit.
In an interview with the Springfield Business and Economic Review, Donna Rogers shares that 60-70% of employers’ cost are related to personnel expenses, mainly salaries and the cost of labor (Rogers, 2009a, 1:40). This is true of most churches and can often be higher in older congregations when assets like buildings are often fully paid for. Also true for the church as for other small businesses, the key leadership providing HRM in small business are usually individuals that have a significant amount of other duties—a pastor, for example in the church.  These professionals tend to have little time and often it seems little expertise in the area of HRM. They may be an owner/operator, a manager (Rogers, 2009a, 4:50) or in many cases, a family member as Rutherford states 90-95% of small business are in fact “family firms” (Rutherford et al., 2003, p. 332). Therefore, it is important to determine what constitutes the non-HR professional must know to function effectively and to be able to anticipate and proactively address fundamental HR concerns.
To this aim, it seems that the non-HR professional needs to have at their disposal effective employment related policies and a basic knowledge of applicable HR Laws. Additionally, knowledge of the best practices available in areas such as recruiting, termination, strategic HRM, management, and leadership development can be of significant benefit. Rogers HR Consulting offers HRCI accredited training in these areas (Rogers, 2009b, 7:30).

HR Laws, Policies, and Places of Worship
Central to all Human Resource Management is applicable HR Laws. “Given the multimillion-dollar settlement resulting from violations of EEO laws… as well as for violating OSHA, [all] HR and line managers need a good understanding of the legal requirements and prohibitions in order to manage their business in ways that are sound, both financially and ethically” (Noe et al., 2013, p. 147).
As a pastoral head-of-staff, I am a non-HR professional doing HR. It should be noted that the “separation of church and state” does not make churches immune to following HR laws and policies, especially for non-clergy. However, civil courts often try to avoid dealing with disputes between clergy and churches “because it is impossible to address these lawsuits without becoming entangled in the church’s polity and ecclesiastic jurisdiction. Part of the protection of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States and many state constitutions is to prevent the courts from meddling in a church’s internal polity” (Clark, 2010, sec. 6). This is known as the “ministerial exception” whereby the First Amendment “prevents civil courts from applying civil rights laws to the relationship between a church and a minister” (Hammar, 2010, p. 34). Essentially pastors relinquish many of their employee rights in their employment relationship with their churches. That said, “churches are not totally immune from this flurry of activity in the employment arena,” especially with the non-clergy staff and so it is important to be guided and informed by what is legal and ethical and what laws apply to churches and which ones don’t (Clark, 2010, sec. 6). Church personnel and employment policies can provide helpful guidance to all involved and can help minimize litigation (LCMS, 2012, p. 1).
Like all small business, churches are required to follow HR laws based upon the number of employees; however, there are two key Labor Laws with noted exceptions in their applications to religious employers:
·        Title VII of 1964 Civil Rights Act: Bars discrimination in employment decisions based on race, color, national origin, sex or religion. It applies to churches of 15 more employees; however, religious employers can discriminate on the basis of religion (Hammar, 2010, p. 32).
·        Americans with Disabilities Act: Bars discrimination against a qualified individual with a disability who can perform his or her essential job functions with or without reasonable employed accommodation (as long as it does not impose undue hardship on the employer). However, under section 307, churches are specifically exempted from the ban on discrimination in public accommodations (LCMS, 2012, pp. 3-4).
·        Applicable State Laws: Additionally, some states have laws that bar employers from discrimination of employment on the basis of sexual orientation or on the basis of the use of lawful products (e.g. alcohol or tobacco) during non-working hours. However, in some states, there is an exemption for religious employers on either one or both of these statutes (Hammar, 2010, p. 33).
As the applicability of state and national laws can vary significantly for religious employers, developing HR policies and employee handbooks are important ways of helping to ensure compliance and to protect both the employee and the religious organization. These also have a number of other advantages to the organization including consistency when dealing with personnel and employment issues, clear indications of acceptable and unacceptable conduct, and protection from liability exposure (Bernstein, 2000, p. 2). The following list contains essential HR Policies to include in an employee handbook for religious institutions (Clark, 2010, sec. 6):
·        Child Protection Policy (in keeping with the National Child Care Protection Act of 1993). This would also include mandatory background screening on all staff and volunteers who work with children.
·        “At-will employment.” This policy is essential due to changing staffing structures within small non-profit businesses.
·        Anti-harassment Policy, including sexual harassment
·        Benefits
·        Accountable Reimbursement Policies (many pastors have reimbursable accounts such as mileage and professional expenses)
·        Personal use of employer’s equipment and software including prohibiting illegal downloads, viewing pornography, etc.
·        Use of employee and/or volunteer vehicles
·        Performance reviews
·        Conduct, termination, and resignation issues including (ethics, violence, conflicts of interests confidentially, and liable and slander)
·        Complaint and Grievance Process
Good policies, which address the legal aspects of HRM, can create a strong foundation for the further development and growth of an organization. These will be explored next.

Best Practices
In addition to having good personnel and employment policies, all managers and other key leaders should take care to follow the best practices related to HRM. Some of these include conducting an HR audit on a routine basis, confirming that personnel files have the required information and do not contain inappropriate information, reviewing records to ensure that proper documentation has been appropriately retained. This includes items such as I-9 and W-4 forms, as well as any other requisite payroll and contractual records and anything pertaining to any applicable legislation, e.g. Title VII, FLMA, ADEA, etc. Employment policies should be also reviewed to ensure compliance with current legislation (LCMS, 2012, pp. 22-26; Rogers, 2009b, 4:50). In addition, bulletin boards and “employee rights” posters need to be reviewed to certify that they are up to date and in compliance. Posting requirements for most churches include the following: The Fair Labor Standards Act, Equal Employment Opportunity, The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), The Polygraph Protection Act, Family and Medical Leave Act or FLMA (Clark, 2010, 6.A.1).
Job analysis and descriptions are of key importance to small businesses. “Job analysis is the building block of everything that human resource managers do” (Noe et al., 2013, p. 170). The business environment is very aware that accurate job analysis and specifications aid in finding and selecting the right candidates—religious institutions can learn from this.  In a small business, such as churches, this work can be of significant strategic importance to help the owner/manager determine essential tasks that need to be done within the organization, thus allowing them to have the right level of coverage for these essential tasks. This can help minimize wasted personnel resources and help maximize efficiency. Job descriptions are also very useful in the church setting to provide guidance to employees to keep them accountable and focused on key tasks that are related to the strategic vision of the church. This can prove invaluable when there may be hundreds of stakeholders vying for a staff member’s attention to various ministries or pet projects—few of which may be focused on the strategic vision of the church.
O’Neil also provides some sage advice on hiring: “Never lower your standards” (O'Neal, 2011, p. 60). This advice is perhaps more important to churches than any other industry. Churches rise or fall on member relationships with the key leadership. A bad hire may mean an organization-killing spilt or schism. For O’Neil, it is better to not fill the job at all than to fill it with the wrong candidate.
Churches tend to do both performance management and termination poorly. Often due to the lack of HR expertise, employee problems are not well documented or proactively addressed. Documentation is a vital part of terminating an employee to satisfy any potential EEOC claim (Rogers, 2009b, 3:00).  Additionally, memories tend to fade overtime and jury “tend to believe what they read in writing” (Moore, 2004, p. 11). The termination of church employees can be particularly problematic.  Churches are tax-exempt, and in most states, this means employees are not entitled to unemployment compensation. This coupled with the significant intimacy an employee may have with church members such as friendships and sharing of key moments of life like marriage, deaths, births, or counseling, can make terminations a potential powder keg. Exacerbating this situation, many churches often do not provide appropriate performance management such as coaching, guidance or have progressive discipline procedures, making for a very explosive situation (LCMS, 2012, pp. 27-34).

Organizational Culture
Related to selecting the right employee is employee satisfaction. O’Neil points out that there are direct relationships not only between employee satisfaction and that of self-motivation and individual performance, but also that of customer satisfaction and organizational revenue (O'Neal, 2011, pp. 134, 190-191). Although employee satisfaction is key, clergy often report not feeling satisfied or do not feel supported in their positions or roles. This is a significant challenge that many denominations are just now beginning to address. As O’Neil points out that customer satisfaction is directly related to employee satisfaction, it follows that church members will not be served well until these problems are addressed.

Continuing Education
            Continuing education is perhaps the single most important thing a non-HR professional can do to better their ability to oversee HR practices. This applies to any one with HR responsibilities (Rogers, 2009c). Rogers states that even a yearly overview of HR laws can be very helpful as those can change from time to time. One example she shares was a fairly recent change in FLMA which affects the spouses of actively deployed military personnel (Rogers, 2009b, 6:25). An employer who is not up to speed on this change may not know what they need to do to comply with this new legislation. Continuing education can provide a great return on investment (Rogers, 2009b, 7:10, 9:00).  For the non-HR professional in the religious setting, sources of continuing education may initially be hard to find.  However, religious liability insurance carriers such as Church Mutual or Brotherhood Mutual Insurance companies, denominational offices, lawyers specializing in Human Resources or ecclesiastical law, and training organizations or HR consultants such as Rogers HR Consulting or SHRM can provide excellent resources, as can large churches that have a trained HR specialist on staff.  As a non-HR professional doing HR, I can attest to the significant value that continuing education in HRM can provide not only to the non-HR professional, but also to my religious organization.


APA Style Manual from the American Psychological Association. (2013). Retrieved February 27, 2013 from http://www.apastyle.org.
Bernstein, Leyna. (2000). Creating Your Employee Handbook: A Do It Yourself Kit for Non-profits. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Clark, Martha E. (2010). Legal Resource Manual for Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Middle Governing Bodies and Churches  
Hammar, Richard R. (2010). Do Discrimination Laws Apply to Churches? Understanding Labor Laws: Practical Strategies to Protect Your Ministry. Brotherhood Mutual Insurance/Christianity Today International.
LCMS. (2012). Employment Resource Manual for Congregations and Districts: The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod: The Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod.
Moore, Darren B. (2004). Employment Law Primer for Churches. Fort Worth, TX: Bourland, Wall & Wenzel, P.C.
Noe, Raymond A., Hollenbeck, John R., Gerhart, Barry, & Wright, Patrick M. (2013). Human Resource Management: Gaining a Competitive Advantage, 8th Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.
O'Neal, Donald E. (2011). People In Organizations: What Every Manager Should Know About Human Resources. Boston: American Press.
Rogers, Donna (Interview). (2009a). Interview with Donna Rogers, SPHR part 1. Springfield Business and Economic Review. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/TeqbKDAEAKc
Rogers, Donna (Interview). (2009b). Interview with Donna Rogers, SPHR part 2. Springfield Business and Economic Review. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/MIJEpyJhTv0
Rogers, Donna (Interview). (2009c). Interview with Donna Rogers, SPHR part 3. Springfield Business and Economic Review. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/GOTecjURcV8
Rutherford, Matthew W., Buller, Paul F., & McMullen, Patrick R. (2003). Human Resource Management Problems over the Life Cycle of Small to Medium-sized Firms. Human Resource Management, 43(4), 321-335.
Tocher, Neil, & Rutherford, Matthew W. (2009). Perceived Acute Human Resource Management Problems in Small and Medium Firms: An Empirical Examination. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice (March), 455-479.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Tell the SHRM Mac What You Think

Extended deadline to APRIL 30th! Complete today, PLEASE!

Your assistance is needed by your 2013 SHRM Member Advisory Council (MAC) Representatives.  The MAC is made up of five elected representatives, one from each SHRM Region – like you we are SHRM members and HR professionals.  As the MAC Representative for your region, I serve as a messenger between SHRM members and the SHRM CEO and Board of Directors.   SHRM strives to constantly improve member services as well as provide the most current and advanced tools for its members, volunteers and HR Professionals.  I have been asked to gather feedback from SHRM members regarding topics of importance to the HR profession and SHRM.  Since I can’t speak to each of you individually, I would request you complete the quick survey at the link below.
By completing this survey, your feedback will play an important role to in advancing the HR Profession, so let your voice be heard!  This survey should only take about 5 minutes of your time and is anonymous.  Please complete the survey by Friday, April 30th.  Thank you in advance for your assistance.