If You Don’t Stretch, You’ll Never Know Where The Edges Are…

Did you know the N95 mask that is critical PPE for healthcare workers right now was invented by a woman at 3M in the late 1950s?

The title of the post is a quote from Sara Little Turnball, she was a designer who started consulting for 3M in 1958. She was super sharp and made a name for herself prior to 3M, and then 3M came calling. They didn’t know what to do with her (it was 1958 women aren’t supposed to know more than men, right!?! ;), so they started her in the gift wrapping section, because you know she’s a woman!

She decided she needed to do something and created a famous product presentation called “Why?” where she presented one hundred ideas to 3M executives for various products that actual people would use. She told them there were so many uses for this moldable, woven textile they had created.

So, they hired her to make a molded bra cup. Of course, they did! But, she persisted and let them know she was also using the design and material to make a better type of surgical mask. Her first attempt failed, but eventually what she started turned into basically the N95 mask that 3M started producing in mass in 1961.

“If you don’t stretch, you’ll never know where the edges are.” 

You guys know I’m not a “failure porn” person. Just fail more. Fail faster. Etc. Sara Little Turnball was a designer and inventor and it her world you needed to fail. She estimated about 90% of her work was failure.

The world takes both types. Creatives will fail way more than they succeed to reach their genius. Producers can’t fail as often, and shouldn’t. We need all types in this crazy gumball factory we live in.

We need people willing to stretch themselves to find the edges. Today, as we take off for a long holiday weekend, I’m grateful for this lady who was willing to find the edges and I’m betting so are millions of healthcare workers who are fighting for our lives.

 

It’s not Unlimited PTO or Accrual! Both are flawed, but I have a Plan! (The Sackett PTO Plan!)

Okay, I promise, after this post, I’ll stop talking about this subject!

I will tell you when I started this conversation over a tweet my friend Matt Charney put out, and a subsequent viral LinkedIn post on the same subject, there are clearly two very opinionated sides to this issue!

Side Unlimited PTO (UPTO):

  • There’s nothing like the idea of being able to just take time off when you want and not having to worry if you have the ‘time’ or not saved.
  • Yes, we know the data, and it says on average people use less time, but that’s my choice.
  • If you work at a company with a great culture and leadership, this is the only way to go. It’s a beautiful day and I want to take my child out for a picnic, but oh, I only have five days left for the year, I better save those. That choice sucks.

Side Accrual:

  • UPTO folks are idiots that don’t understand this is a scam that benefits companies, not employees.
  • Accrual is better because if I decide to leave the company the company has to pay me the time that I’ve banked.
  • When I take accrued time off it feels earned, thus I don’t feel like I need to work while taking the time off.

The Facts about Paid Time Off (PTO):

  • Any PTO plan sucks if you work in a toxic culture where you feel stressed to take time off.
  • Unlimited PTO is a fallacy. No organization is going to let you take off the entire year of work paid and not fire you. Grow up.
  • If your reason for liking a plan is that it’s nice when you leave the organization. That plan is a broken benefit for the organization.
  • Every employee should feel comfortable to stay at home when they are sick. Meaning, they will get paid and not feel pressure to show up and risk getting others sick.
  • There is no perfect PTO plan because we all value our time differently.

What’s the better PTO Plan?

Here’s what we know. Making a statement like, “Why don’t we just act like adults” shows me you don’t have a clue about how complex this issue is. The pandemic basically killed the standard UPTO plans moving forward. “Oh great, you offer UPTO!? So, like during a pandemic you’re going to keep paying me fully for three months!?” Um, well, not exactly…

You can say Accrual is the way to go, but the vast majority of folks said the only real benefit for Accrual is that it’s a termination insurance policy. So, that doesn’t work either! If the goal of PTO is to make sure people take time off to recharge and be healthy, saving it for when you get fired isn’t a good plan!

Here’s the Sackett PTO Plan to save America:

  1. If you are sick with a communicable disease, you must stay home until you are released to come back to work by a medical professional. We all have the ability to use Teledocs now, this isn’t difficult. The company will continue your pay. If you can work from home and have the ability while at home recovering there is an expectation you will do what you can. (You’re an adult, right?)
  2. If you take care of someone else and they are sick and need your care the company will cover that cost of you staying home and taking care of them. Again, Teledoc, show me that this is real and we are all good, take care of your loved one.
  3. You must take three weeks of vacation per year, minimum based on your plan/organization/FTE status/etc., in increments you feel are necessary for your lifestyle. So, low end you get three weeks, high-end is up to organizations and your ability to negotiate.
  4. You will get “X” number of holidays paid for – let’s not get silly no one needs Arbor Day off, and yes, we’ll give you your birthday off paid.
  5. You will get automatically 2 weeks no-fault termination/leave pay, at a minimum based on your level of position, when you leave the organization. Whether we fire you or you decide to leave on your own, makes no difference. No reason to “save” our vacation time any longer.
  6. There is no carryover of vacation time from year to year. Want to take a month off to travel around Europe? Be a great performer and you shouldn’t have a problem.

Did we cover everything? Sick time is covered. We will force folks to take time off for wellness. You get paid holidays. You get money to leave. If you perform really well, you get flexibility.

I think this is a plan that I would feel like I’m being taken care of by my employer. Yes, it’s expensive, but so is finding and training great talent. Could someone take advantage of this plan? Yes, and I would fire them. For the record, that usually stops others from trying to take advantage.

Have a better PTO plan? Hit me in the comments!

Also – don’t forget to check out the HR Famous Podcast where Kris Dunn, Jessica Lee and I debate this topic. They got it wrong and I got it right!! Well, maybe…

It’s the Wednesday Before Turkey Day! Let Marie Kondo help you clean your desk!

I’m a dude and like most dudes I know, I’m not super organized. I don’t think I’m sloppy, but that’s mostly due to some heavy training by Mrs. Sackett (like decades of training!). The thing is, once you get used to organization, you really notice when things are not organized!

One of the recent pop culture phenomenon’s recently has been that of Marie Kondo. Kondo is the queen of organization! It’s the Wednesday before you leave for that great long Thanksgiving weekend and quite frankly all you want to do is tidy up and get on with your extended holiday! So, I found a video on how to organize and tidy up your desk the Marie Kondo way!

Send me the pics of your desk after you follow her method!

Have a great holiday extended weekend if you’re in the states! See you all back here next Monday!

 

Employee Holiday Gift Guide

It’s usually HR’s job to come up with the annual employee gift. Most companies are lame and will do the exact same thing every year. If they don’t give a turkey on Thanksgiving, they’ll definitely give out turkeys at Christmas. If they did give a turkey at Thanksgiving, you’ll likely get a ham or a fruitcake for Christmas.

Can I just say Christmas, instead of the “holiday season” or list all the possible options? My family is Jewish, but we get it, almost no company will ever recognize Chanukah, and if they do, it’s usually insulting, “Oh, isn’t that the Jewish Christmas?!” Ugh. Most of the American workforce follows some Christian-based religion that celebrates Christmas, so it’s just easier to play along with the majority.

At some point, usually, right around the pagan holiday of Halloween, someone in HR will raise the question to leadership, “Hey, what are we doing this year for ‘Christmas’ for the employees?”  What they really are asking is, “How much money are we spending per employee for some gift that looks more expensive than what it really is?”  Depending on the organization, it’s a wide range!

Here are the worst holiday gift ideas to give your employees:

  • Company Logo Portfolio – you know those fake leather bound binders with a legal pad inside. Twenty years ago those were so hot! Now, they’re sad. If you give this out as a gift you should be shot. “Oh, great, thanks, a pad of paper I can’t wait to take a picture of this and post it on my Snap making fun of the lame company I work for!”
  • Company Logo Bag – Any bag really. Duffle. Messenger. Backpack. The only time this isn’t lame is when it’s a really nice bag. Meaning the bag, minus your stupid logo, better cost at least $100 per bag. Your $12 limit per employee just makes any bag you choose, sad. Oh, it’s a Herschel bag, okay, you’re good, send me one to!
  • Any Company Logo Item Your CEO Wouldn’t Buy For Themselves – Let’s face it no one wants a crappy polo shirt, or cheap hoodie, or water bottle made in China. If your leadership team wouldn’t buy this on their own and use it, don’t buy it for your employees. If your CEO is a cheap SOB, ignore what I said above and just skip logo items altogether!
  • Any Mass Pre-packaged Food Items – You know what really sucks? Getting a gift basket of elf-sized trial-sized food items made to look gourmet that were probably made seventeen months ago.
  • A Charitable Gift in “My” Name – I love being charitable. I hate when some tries to be charitable on my behalf. You don’t know what I support! I might hate sick puppies and I don’t want money going to them. That’s not your call. My favorite charity is my kid’s college fund! Are you giving me money for that?

Employee gift giving, especially the bigger your organization is, is a tough game.  You don’t want to be cheap, but if you have 10,000 employees, that one endeavor becomes super expensive! The best thing to do is just stop it all together!

You go through one negative year of people complaining they didn’t get their lead-based painted candy corporate logo candy dish, then the next year no one remembers. Instead, let your hiring managers throw potluck lunches and have some fun. People will remember those, have more fun, and they might actually interact with each other!

What is your most prized possession?

I’m heartbroken watching the California fires. The stories coming out of California are just gut-wrenching. I’m struck by how people find the strength to stand up when they’ve lost everything but the clothes on their back.

I was listening to the podcast, Broken Record, with Malcolm Gladwell and, world-renowned music producer, Rick Rubin, who literally just lost his famous house in a fire. Now, I know, Rick is super-wealthy, but he also is a person who probably has a ton of irreplaceable things he’s gotten in his life. Awards, artifacts of his industry, etc.

He said he didn’t really care about the ‘things’ the fire took, but he was brought to tears by losing the hundred-year-old trees on his property. The trees, the land, was what made his home special and a sanctuary for his peace. While he could replant trees, he would never live long enough to see them as they were.

It made me think about my own possessions. What do I have that if lost I would be crushed? Not people or pets, but inanimate object-type of possessions. If I could only grab one possession before getting out with my life and my families lives, what possession would I grab?

It definitely wasn’t anything like of a material nature. I could replace clothes, furniture, and electronics. At first, I thought I knew, oh, for sure it would be pictures. Pictures of my boys as babies, but most of these have been converted to digital and they are in the cloud, so while there would be a few pictures lost, I would still have many that were probably similar.

Maybe it was something someone gave me to me, but I’ve already lost my most valued possession. After my grandfather died, I was twelve, my grandmother handed me a tattered brown envelop, aged by the years. Inside it was a few pictures of my grandfather in the Navy, along with his medals. I had them for years, but somewhere along the way they got misplaced and I’ve never been able to find them. I still think about that loss. It was the only thing I had of my grandfathers.

I came to the realization, while it would be painful to lose everything, there wasn’t one thing I would have to keep for myself. There was one thing I know my wife, though, would want. She keeps a box with letters and notes I’ve given her over the years. I’m sure there are letters and notes from the boys as well. She would definitely want those, so my one thing would be that box. I know those momentoes are important to her.

So, as you get ready for Thanksgiving I’ll ask you the same question, what one possession would you grab if you could only grab one and everything else would be lost? Hit me in the comments with what you came up with, and if you’re struggling for great conversation at your Thanksgiving table, ask your friends and loved ones this question.

Stop Saying “We Love Vets!” You don’t, or You would actually Hire them for real jobs! #VeteransDay

Veteran’s Day was yesterday! I’m sure your social media team made a big deal out it. Send around a lot of American Flag IG and Twitter posts. Even put up a blog post on your site about how much you just love Vets! The problem is, it’s all a big fat lie!

You don’t love Vets! You love the concept of being politically correct and wrapping your company and brand around the American flag! It’s basically Stolen Valor what you’re doing on your career site, acting like you love to hire Vets!

If you really loved Vets you wouldn’t be trying to hire someone who led a platoon of a hundred soldiers into battle for a $12/hr job with no career progression! You wouldn’t be trying to hire someone who was responsible for hundred’s of millions of dollars of machinery and resources into a $17/hr warehouse job. But, that’s how ‘you’ love Vets, right? Give them a shitty job!

I’m not a Vet. Never served. Really never even thought about serving. My grandfather fought in WWII and he gave me his medals when I was a young boy. Told me stories. I have uncles and cousins who are Vets.

I’ve hired countless Vets in my career. I find that Vets, compared to normal civilian hires, perform better on average. I hired a Vet to come work as a Recruiter for me, when he had no recruiter training (his name is Brian McIntosh – go connect with him, he’s awesome!) He was a tanker by Army trade. Not really something that correlates into great recruiting skills normally, but here are the skills he brought to us:

  • Dedication
  • Works his ass off
  • Team player
  • Motivated
  • Desire to learn
  • Exceptional at networking with other Vets
  • Colorful language! (Okay, I made that one up! But, hey, you spend some time in a hot tank and you’ll learn some colorful language as well!)

He normally would have been offered one of those $15/hr jobs. “Oh, you’re a tanker and have no real-world skills, that’s great we have a dead-end warehouse job for you to work in! We love our Vets!”

Think about how many great paying, salaried jobs you have that really can be taught to anyone. How many? 60%? 80%? That’s reality, right? Most of the jobs that we have can be taught to anyone with the desire,  the motivation, dedication, and willingness to learn.

I’m not trying to dump on decent paying hourly jobs. I know we have to fill these as well with great people, and some of those jobs turn into great careers for people, but let’s be real, our Vets aren’t looking at those jobs as their first choice upon serving our country. They want career jobs that fit the skills and training they received while serving our country.

So, what can you really do? 

My friend, Torin Ellis, came to the Michigan Recruiter’s Conference a couple of weeks ago and spoke about Diversity and Inclusion and made this comment – “You need to have a diverse recruiting team if you want to recruit diverse talent.”

So, if you want to hire Vets into real jobs in your company, you need to have Vets on your recruiting team! What we have found is our Vet recruiters know the environment and skills on both sides, so they know where a Vet will be most valuable in your organization based on those skills. A recruiter without this knowledge just looks at keywords on a resume, and thinks, “No fit” or “Hourly entry-level job”, not truly who this person is or could be for your organization!

Or you could also work with a Vet to come in and train your team around what jobs you have where Vets would be a great fit, and what questions they should be asking to find out what skills they really have. We find Vets aren’t the best at talking about some of the great skills they have, they don’t see as special, coming from a military environment.

Lastly, call out your hiring managers who say they support Vets, but then never hire a Vet when you put them in front of them. They aren’t supporting Vets, they just love wrapping themselves in the flag and acting like they support Vets.

Happy Veteran’s Day! Thank you for your service! If I can help you, please let me know.

What’s the Best Day of the Week to Take Off?

Right now you’re probably in the middle of your ‘summer’ work schedule. You know where the office gets out early on Friday or doesn’t even come in on Friday so everyone can have the long weekend and enjoy the great summer weather. In the North and Midwest, where we have short summers, this is fairly common.

I have a confession to make. I’m an awful judge on what I really want for myself.

When I was in college I scheduled myself from 8 am to noon, Monday through Thursday believing how great it would be to get school done early and have the entire rest of the day off to do whatever it is I wanted, and have a long weekend. It was a disaster! Not only did I have my afternoons and long weekend, I also had most mornings off, because I didn’t drag my butt out of bed to go!

I have this same ‘traditional’ mindset when it comes to flexibility scheduling at work. In my mind, I believe I would want to either take off Friday (ideally, choice #1) or Monday so that I could always have a long weekend. Without really putting thought into it, I think most people would say the same thing.

As with everything nowadays, some research is helping to shape my mind differently:

The key is giving yourself a beat, a day to make your own pace, and to break the tyranny of the over-scheduled work week. Our human experience of time is ordered by “pacers,” both internal (like being a “morning person” or a “night owl”) and external, like the work week or a deadline, says Dawna Ballard, a communications professor at University of Texas at Austin and a scholar of chronemics, the study of time and communication. “Everyone has a different chronotype. Some people are slower moving, some people are faster moving,” she told me over the phone. “Our work, though, just goes and throws that out the window and says actually, this is how fast you have to work, this is when you have to work…

…One of the hallmarks of modern life is that our internal and external pacers are often at odds with one another—one reason Monday mornings are difficult. “You’re coming off from a weekend, where you do have your own pace,” Ballard says, explaining the Monday blues from a social science perspective. “It’s having to go from your pacer, back to this other pacer, there’s that friction.”

So, what’s the best day to take off in your week?

Wednesday!

Having that break in the middle of your week does a couple of really positive, psychological things. One, you go into your week knowing you only have two days of work, until your next break to do ‘you’ stuff. Then, another couple of days before a two-day break. The second thing is having that mid-week break allows us to do life stuff when it’s less busy with everyone else doing ‘life’ stuff.

You can go work out at the gym and it’s not busy. You can go to a doctor’s appoint or get your hair done in the middle of the day, that’s not a Saturday. You can go to the DMV when it’s quieter than normal. You can take a breath at home, while it’s quiet and recharge your batteries.

When you look at adding a little bit of flexibility to your organizations, it doesn’t always have to be some sort of “we’re letting everyone out early on Friday”. Maybe some of the best ‘flexibility’ would be having a half-day on a Wednesday! Can you imagine instead of a half day on Friday, you got a half day on Wednesday each week? How would your life change?

The next time you use a PTO day to extend a weekend, rethink what you’re doing and try taking a PTO day on a Wednesday. It just might be the break you need to keep you fresh all week!

4th of July funny t-shirts! (Warning – prepare to be offended!)

So, basically, in America, we celebrate our independence by grilling hot dogs, drinking beer, blowing stuff up, and buying t-shirts that somehow make us feel more patriotic than we really are. In recent years, the 4th of July t-shirt game has been getting very serious! Here are some of the ones that make me laugh!

Okay, this last one just made me laugh, but it mostly has nothing to do with the 4th of July, mostly…

Happy 4th of July, my friends!

Be safe!

What Paid Holidays Should You Be Paying Your Employees?

Every year, American employees leave 430 million vacation days up for grabs. (If you were wondering, that’s 1,178,082 years of unused vacation every year.)

Or in other words, way too much time.

We already know Americans are by and large workaholics. But still, if you own a small business, there are some days you should definitely give off to your employees. And it’s helpful to know what that mix of days should be.

That’s where I come in. I’ll show you how to build your own paid holiday schedule for your small business, using benchmarking data as our trusty guide.

The bigger PTO picture.

Let’s start with the main question on your mind: How much time off do people normally get? An average full-time employee in a small, privately-owned business in the U.S. receives about 7.6 paid holidays per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That number also breaks down even further:

  • Technical/professional employees get 8.5-ish days a year.
  • Clerical/sales employees get 7.7-ish days a year.
  • Blue-collar/service employees get 7 days a year.

While that’s the average, other studies have shown most employees report getting about nine paid holidays per year. Think about these benchmarks as you decide on the number that will work best for you business.

There are no federal laws requiring employers to give PTO, but most companies offer it anyway. Why? Because it’s a must to attract and retain great employees. In fact, PTO is the second most important benefit to employees, right after health insurance.

Now, onto the next layer of the paid holiday puzzle: Choosing the actual days you give off.

So, what paid holidays should I offer?

Click through this link to my Gusto post to get the rest of this riveting content! 

No, really, I promise, it’s good stuff! Have I ever steered you wrong?

3 Ways Employers Should Be Encouraging March Madness!

For those that know me, I’m a huge basketball fan.  Pro, college, AAU, high school, hell, if you really dig into my past you would probably find me hanging out at some playground breaking down the defense effort of a pickup game between grade school kids.  So, when March Madness time comes around each year I’m like many of your employees.  I’m trying to find the best ways to work and watch basketball, or at the very least stay up on my brackets and see who is getting upset!

With all the hype over the past few years about lost productivity, do to March Madness, in the workplace.  I felt it was my duty to provide HR Pros with some helpful tips and tricks to get your staff to highly productive during this time of year.

Here are my ideas:

1. Put up TVs throughout the office.  Let’s face it, you really only have one or two hoops junkies in the office, and those folks usually spend vacation time to ensure they don’t miss a minute.  Everyone else just wants to see scores and highlights.  They’re a casual fan.  They’re willing to work a perfectly normal day, and will probably be just a productive, if not more, with the TVs steaming all the games in the background.  Plus, if you get a close game or big upset, you’ll get some team excitement in the air.  This also stops most of your staff trying to stream the games on their desktops for the entire afternoon.

2. Call off work those afternoons.  Let’s face it, March Madness is pretty close to a national holiday as we will ever get.  Doesn’t matter if you’re female or male, young or old, what religion you are, we all love the drama and excitement of March Madness.  Just close the office.  Make a deal with your staff to reach certain goals and if they’re met, take them to the local watering hole yourself and have some fun with it.  Employees like to rally around a fun idea.  You don’t have to make everything fun, all the time, but once in a while, it helps to lift productivity.

3. Shut off all access.  Yep, you read that correctly. Have IT shut down all access to anything related to March Madness.  Threaten to fire any employee caught checking scores on their smartphone, or calling a friend to see how it’s going.  Fear!  Fear is a great short-term lifter of productivity.  Whether we like to admit it, or not, it’s true.  If you went out right now into your office and told the entire staff at the end of the day you’re firing the least productive person, you would see productivity shoot through the roof!  You would also see about half your staff, the half you want to keep, put in their notice over the next 4-6 weeks.

The reality is, most people will do business as usual.  While the CNN’s of the world love to point to the millions of dollars American corporations lose during March Madness, it’s no different than so many things that can consume our thoughts in any given day.

I do think HR and leadership, each year, lose out on a great way to have fun and raise engagement during March Madness.  It’s something most of your staff has some interest in, and depending on your city and the schools your employees went to, it can get heightened pretty significantly.

For the record, I’m not picking Michigan State.  I want to with all my might, but I’m nervous that my bracket mojo would work the opposite, so I’ll pick someone else, and feel awesome when Sparty wins and I lose my bracket!