How can you become a great HR/TA Pro?

I met an aspiring HR college student recently. The question was asked, “Tim, how can I be great at HR?” I told them to buy my book and read my blog and that’s really all there is to it! Just kidding, I said something after that as well! 😉

It’s a great question that ultimately has very little to do with HR or Talent Acquisition. To be great at HR, or anything, rarely do you have to be great at that certain skill set. For some things, it’s important: doctor, lawyer, accountant, etc. But in most professions, you can learn the skills, so it’s about these other things that I told this young Padawan:

Go deep on a few things. The world needs experts, not a generalist. Don’t kid yourself to think being a generalist is really what your organization wants. People say this when they are an expert in nothing. Be an expert in something and a generalist in a bunch of stuff.

Don’t be super concerned with what you’re going deep on, just make sure it interests you. While it might not seem valuable now, at some point it probably will be. I’m not in love with employee benefits, but someone is and when I need help with that I’m searching for that person.

Consume content inside and outside of your industry. Those with a never-ending appetite to learn are always more successful.

Connect with people in your field outside of your company. We are in a time in the world where your network can be Pitbull Worldwide! Use that to your advantage. There is someone smarter than you a thousand miles away just waiting to help you.

Just because someone older and more experienced than you might think something is unimportant, don’t give up on it. We all get used to what we are used to. Older people think Snapchat is stupid and it might be, but it also might unlock something awesome in our employment brand. Experience and age are super valuable until they aren’t.

Constantly make stuff and test it. Some of it will fail, most of it will be average, some of it will be awesome. Give yourself more chances for awesome! Don’t let someone tell you, “we tried that three years ago and it didn’t work”. Cool, let’s do it again, but this time change the name!

Take a big chance early in your career. Find a company that you absolutely love and just find a way to work there in any position, then be awesome for a couple of years and see what happens. Working for a brand you love is beyond the best career feeling you’ll have.

Don’t expect to be “HR famous” overnight, but the work you do right now will make you HR famous ten years from now. Do the work, fall in love with it, the fame will come down the road. “I want to blog and speak just like you, Tim!” Awesome, I started doing this a decade ago. Let’s get started right now!

Don’t discount social skills in the real world. You can be the smartest most skilled person in the room, but the one with a personality is the one people will pay attention to. This is a skill that can be learned and constantly improved upon if you work at it.

Spend time with Great HR and Talent pros. No one is really hiding their secret sauce, you just aren’t asking them questions. The key in spending time with others is not asking them to invest more in helping you than you’re willing to invest in making it happen. I get asked weekly for time from people who rarely are willing to help me in return.

Get Tech Savvy. This does’t mean you need to learn to code, but you have to be comfortable with the capabilities and advances that technology is having on your specific field. You should demo technology consistently. You should put yourself in a position where you feel knowledgeable enough to make technology decisions for your function, so someone else is not making these decisions for you. Especially as a young professional, because most old pros won’t have this skill and few have any desire to acquire this skill late in their career.

Okay, as internships are concluding for the summer let’s help these aspiring professionals out! Give me your best advice in the comments!

The Rules for Hugging at Work Post-Pandemic

Okay, I’ve been known as the guy who likes to hug, and I’m not sure why I have this designation but it might be because of this post here. Also, I tend to like hugs! And, I might have hugged a bunch of folks to kick off my speaking engagements demonstrating the Official Office Hugging Rules!

My mate (that’s what English male friends call each other) Chris Bailey (who is a world-class hugger in his own right) and I were messaging back and forth the other day on WhatsApp (Editor note: Tim has to tell you he was messaging on WhatsApp so he seems cool and worldly) and he said, “Mate, you need to write the rules for Hugging at Work after Covid”. He’s right, it’s time.

The key to great rules is you get them out before people start making up their own rules. Since organizations are just not figuring out return-to-work strategies, and a bunch of people are getting their Covid Juice (vaccines), the world, or at least Chris Bailey, is clamoring for how can we start hugging again!

The Rules for Hugging at Work, Post-Pandemic

1. Read the Original Rules of Hugging at Work, they still apply, but we needed some additions.

2. If both parties are Vaxed you are free to party! Hug away! Hug me like you missed me! Hug me so hard it might start an HR investigation! But only hugging, Sparky, don’t get too excited!

3. If one party is Vaxed and one party is stupid (err., not vaxed), Hug that moron if you want. Now, if you are vaxed and the non-vaxed person is wearing a mask, well that probably just helps knock down that coffee breath.

4. If you are not vaxed and the other party is not vaxed, please not only hug, but lick each other. The world is built around natural selection and there is nothing more exciting than watching natural selection take place in the wilds of the office!

5. Understand coming back into the office, Post-Pandemic, the world has changed a bit. Everyone is a bit on edge. There’s a good chance you hugging someone at work will get you fired. So, my recommendation is to hug anyway, no one wants to work in a world where “Karen’s” rule the world!

6. Don’t hug someone who is trying to give you an elbow bump. That person is weird.

7. Don’t hug someone who says, “It’s just a little bit of allergies” as they are hacking up a lung. Also, if you’re sick, have enough self-insight to let folks know so they don’t come in for a snuggle!

8. If it looks like someone needs a hug, ask them, and if they don’t say “No”, most likely they need a hug! The world has been an especially hard place the past year or so. A lot of folks need a hug!

9. Some of your folks are remote and they need a hug. Great leaders, in a new world of remote, hybrid, and on-premise, will travel and deliver hugs. It might be the single most important thing you do as a leader all year. Hug delivery.

10. Hug with DEI in mind! Have you hugged a person of color today? What about one of your Transgender co-workers or peers? What about someone of the same sex? If you only hug the opposite sex of the same color you are, you might want to ask yourself why is that? I’m an equal opportunity hugger! Come get some!

11. No group hugs. Let’s stay civilized, people! It’s a special kind of crazy the person who initiates a group hug. In HR we use “group hug” as profiling the truly psycho employees we have working for us! “Come on guys! Let’s all do a big group hug!” – Um, No!, Trevor!

Cancel Culture Can’t Cancel Hugs!

I did a survey recently and it turns out 89% of people want a hug, and the 11% who don’t like hugs, also hate puppies (this is my own survey, don’t @ me!). Here’s the thing, as we get back to work and see folks we haven’t seen in a while there will be emotion! We missed a lot of these assholes! Enough that we will want to give them a hug!

Also, if you have folks working hybrid that you don’t get to see as much, when you do see them you will want to do more than a cold handshake or fist bump. The world needs one big giant hug, and we certainly have some co-workers who need more than a few hugs!

Hugs don’t need to be canceled. Hugs are great! What needs to be canceled are creepy dudes who hug inappropriately and make the people they hug feel uncomfortable. Fix that problem! Leave hugs alone!

Professionalism vs. Civility at Work!

In Human Resources and Talent Acquisition we have gotten very use to hiring managers making a statement like, “I really need someone with a high level of professionalism in this role”. Having experience as both an HR leader and a Talent Acquisition leader for twenty-five years, I thought I knew exactly what that meant.

My view of the term “Professionalism” meant the hiring manager was looking for someone who had a high skill level in communicating appropriately for each situation. That they had an appearance that seems to fit the culture of the organization and those we served. That in times of stress or crisis, they were able to keep their composure and work through situations to come up with an outcome that would be satisfactory to both sides.

What I never realized was that the term “Professionalism” is or is thought to be rooted in racism and white supremacy. But, as the social justice and BLM movements have brought many things to light over the past couple of years, I’ve been reading and hearing from people of color that the use of “Professionalism” as a descriptor was akin to saying “what we really want is a white person”.

I have to be honest, and I know folks will say this is because I was blinded by my privilege, but I never once in my career thought when a hiring manager said they wanted someone who was “professional” they were secretly telling me they wanted a white person. I probably think this way because I’ve had men, women, white, black, Hispanic, Asian, etc. tell me this as a descriptor/skill they desired as a hiring manager. But, this is also the difficulty of unconscious bias.

Is there a difference between “Professionalism” and “Civility”?

I can definitely see how the wrong individuals could easily use the term “professionalism” to mean white and not black. I’m not naive to the world. It does bring up the dilemma though on how do we actually measure or speak to how individuals should act in certain business settings. Of course, each company’s culture is different, so this is a constant moving target by company, by leader, by position, etc.

I think most HR leaders and Executives, regardless of gender, ethnicity, and nationality would believe there are appropriate and inappropriate behaviors and ways to conduct ourselves in a business setting. Probably 90% of which we could come to some sort of agreement on, and the other 10% would be personal preferences.

This then begs the question is “professionalism” really a racist ideal, or is it just an additional method some individuals/organizations/institutions could use to continue systematic racism where they see fit? If that is the case, then how can we communicate the 90% we agree on in a fair and equitable way where all employees feel like they belong?

This brought me to the concept of Civility.

Civility is defined as formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech. Sounds a bit like how we would define “Professionalism” so it makes me wary we are just using a different word. I did find a Civility expert, Sejal Thakkar, who trains organizations and employees on how to be more civil with each other. She had a post on Linkedin and shared a bunch of really great resources explaining that no matter your role at work, from the lowest-paid worker to the CEO, all should be acting with civility, at all times. (Click here for Sejal’s LinkedIn post with resources) (Also, go connect with Sejal, I really like what she’s doing around Civility in the workplace!)

My question to Sejal was simply, in these current times I get messages from leaders who feel like they are being held hostage by some of their employees. These employees feel empowered to say anything without any recourse. They can talk divisively at work about politics, their beliefs and ethics, while attacking other’s beliefs and ethics that are different than theirs, and leaders feel like they have to allow this to happen. How can leaders deal with this issue of feeling like they are being held hostage by some strongly opinionated employees who are causing dissension at work about non-work things?

Sejal’s response was what I expected. All employees, both leaders, and non-leaders should be acting civil towards each other at all times, with no exceptions. She was short and sweet in her response. There is no room for incivility in the workplace. Period.

It’s fine to disagree about big things in the world, and still act civil towards each other, especially in the workplace. An employee might have voted for Biden and hated Trump, and can’t fathom that another employee actually voted for Trump, but that doesn’t give license to either employee to act uncivil towards each other. You can have employee support BLM and have employees support Law Enforcement, all the while being civil towards each other. If both, or either does act uncivil, it should be dealt with in your normal course of discipline as if they acted inappropriately about anything else within your workplace.

What does Civility look like at work?

(I’m going cut and paste from one of the resources Sejal shared (Ten Ways to Create a More Civil Workplace) as this person can say it way better than I could ever write):

  1. Acknowledge Others. No one should feel invisible. Make eye contact. Greet people with “good morning”, “good afternoon”, etc. Use people’s names. Make people feel welcome in your presence.
  2. Think the Best. Most people are not trying to intentionally ruin things or do harm, try to assume positive intent. Until proven wrong, give the benefit of the doubt that people are trying to do the best they can with the resources and tools available to them.
  3. Listen. Stop focusing on yourself and your needs; instead, focus on other people. Don’t assume you need to solve anything, just hear and try to understand clearly what they are saying. Respect what others think and honor their right to see things differently than you do. It doesn’t mean you have to agree, just hear them.
  4. Speak Kindly. Be respectful in word and tone, particularly when delivering critical feedback. In addition, never gossip or speak unkindly of people when they are not present.
  5. Accept and Give Praise. It is said that one of the greatest things you can give someone else is a sense of their own worth. Praising the accomplishments of others and showing appreciation cost you nothing but deliver tremendous value. And when you are praised, a kind thank you is all that’s necessary. Gracious humility is a virtue.
  6. Be Agreeable. Be open to and look for opportunities where you can accommodate others, compromise, or simply allow someone else’s ideas to be implemented. Your way isn’t the only way.
  7. Respect Other People’s Time. Be punctual, end things on time, wait your turn to speak, show up to everything you’ve promised, and every time you fail to do so, apologize.
  8. Apologize Earnestly. Be clear about the error you’ve made and do not make excuses. Let others know that what you did was wrong and that you understand and regret the negative impact you’ve made.
  9. Accept and Give Constructive Criticism. Be clear about your intentions. If your intention is to help, then be helpful, however, if your intent is revenge or to manipulate things to your benefit, re-evaluate and walk away. When receiving criticism, assume the positive intentions of others. Be grateful, not defensive.
  10. Don’t Shift Responsibility and Blame. If you are part of the problem, own it, apologize if necessary, and help in finding a solution. Trying to place blame rather than working to find a solution makes you an obstacle. Don’t be that person.

I love these! Can you imagine, right now today, if we all worked in an environment where this was taking place! The world would seem lighter, for sure!

This is extra difficult right now in our work world because so many of our employees, who are working remotely, haven’t even met each other. It’s way easier to disregard another person when you don’t truly know them or their intentions.

Like I said above, I am not naive to the world. I understand people are hurting and fed up with the world they are living in, so we’ll see unrest and people being uncivil towards each other. I hope and like to believe, that we can create workplaces where people will feel like they belong and are safe to have civil discord. Because once it becomes uncivil it’s time for some folks to leave or are workplaces breakdown and that isn’t fair to the other employees who rely on the success of the business to pay their bills and feed their families.

We live in a world, currently, where most people seemingly do not first assume positive intent, and I can understand why. But for our workplaces to grow and thrive, we must fight to get to a place (understand I did not say “back to a place”) where we can all be civil towards each other working on common goals and successes.

Your Future Office has 40% Fewer Seats!

Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, the largest private-sector employer in New York City, wrote in a letter to shareholders this week that remote work would “significantly reduce our need for real estate.” For every 100 employees, he said, his bank “may need seats for only 60 on average.”
New York Times

Feels about right. In my opinion, some sort of hybrid work model for office workers is going to win out. 2/3, 3/2, etc. You work from home (or wherever) some days, in the office some days. The additional flexibility people received during the pandemic is a very hard thing to take away at this point.

The “on average” phrase becomes the issue!

On average, Tim, we only need about six places for people to get there done. Okay, but on Monday’s you’ve asked everyone to come into the office for meetings and such, and told everyone they don’t have to come in on Fridays! Maybe we can find an office building that will let us just rent 4 days a week!

What this really means, is once again, the Office Furniture Industry wins! Did anyone check into see if Steelcase or Herman Miller maybe released Covid onto the world!?! The more time I spend in HR, the more I’m convinced that the office furniture industry really runs the world. About every decade or so, we (HR) is tasked with reinventing work and that means new work spaces.

Yeah, but if we are WFH Tim then you don’t have to worry about it! Yes I do! I now have to worry about employees working at home at their kitchen table hunched over in some chair not designed to work in all day, and I have the worker’s compensation claim. So, it is just a matter of time until I’m shipping new office “home” furniture to my employees to make sure they are taken care of and still have the cool hip culture we want with $1000 work at home chairs that are functional yet still look great in their 1970’s retro family room they’ve been piecing together off Ebay.

You know a great team building activity would be to have us send office furniture to everyone’s house and then we all get on a Zoom call and build it together! Hey, Ikea, get on this!

Hey, Billy, sorry, you got in at 8:30 am, you’ll have to share a desk with Mary until a spot frees up, here’s a folding chair.

This is why we’ll all be building “shared” spaces in our workplaces. Because you know what’s super effective and efficient when you’re trying to get that project done? Listening to some idiot drone on about some Netflix real-life crime drama series they are watching, and you don’t even like real-life-crime-drama, or Todd who is telling you all about it, but you’re stuck “In the Park” the cool nickname HR gave your social share space where work nomads without desks come to get stuff done, but not really done because no one can’t get anything done at the “Park”.

WFH, Hybrid, In-Office.

Everyone needs a seat, but just not all the time.

Welcome to show!

The Future of Work, Is More WORK!

I’m sure you’ve read an article or listened to a podcast in recent weeks that had something to do with “the future of work”. It’s a hot topic to talk about, primarily because it’s all just a big fat guess and the best content is content where I just get to tell what I think will happen, but really have no idea for sure.

When I take a look at the HR technology landscape this week at The HR Technology Conference and see the tech that is hitting the market around work and performance, I think the future of work is actually just more work!

When I say ‘more’ work I really mean “More” work! Much of the technology that is being created and launched around HR Technology falls into a few buckets:

  1. How can we make workers more efficient at what they are currently doing?
  2. How can we monitor workers on what they are doing (tracking)?
  3. How can we leverage A.I. to do certain tasks workers are doing right now?

Don’t get me wrong, the technology doesn’t scare me in the least, I think it’s amazing, but the reality is much of it is designed to help us humans reach our full potential. If my couple of decades in HR has taught me anything it’s that very few of us humans want to reach our full potential!

Reaching your full potential means you are working really hard!

I have a great story about working in a union job the summer I first got out of high school. My Dad got me the job working in a grocery warehouse picking orders to be delivered to supermarkets. The warehouse just implemented a new software system that tracked the productivity of each worker.

Basically, I would be given an order and the system had estimated how long that order should take for me to complete. If the order was complex I got more time, it is was simply pulling a full pallet of one type of item, I might only get ten minutes or so to complete, some orders were estimated to take 75+ minutes to complete.

The union had negotiated that I only had to work 77% of the time. Yes, you read that correctly! If you added up all of my order minutes, in theory, to keep my job, I had to be 77% efficient. So, in an eight-hour shift of 480 minutes, once I reached my 369.6 minutes of work, I could actually just stop. In fact, I was encouraged very strongly by my union brothers to stop at the exact point!

Now the “new” computer system didn’t account for the extra effort. So, if I had an order that was supposed to take 60 minutes, but I worked really hard and completed it in 45 minutes, I just earned myself an extra 15 minutes. By the end of the summer, I was efficient enough in getting orders completed that I spent about three hours a shift playing cards with my union brothers in the back of the warehouse until my shift was done!

The new HR Technology that is in play right now, based on AI and machine learning, would have made these corrections individually within a few shifts, knowing I could do that work more efficiently than another person and soon my orders would have been adjusted. The technology would have ensured that my ‘extra’ effort turned into my normal effort.

We already know that my warehouse work will be replaced by robots, so my example is already dated. But what about that office job? Will a robot replace you? No, not right away, we are a ways off from that, but that same AI/Machine learning technology will track and measure everything you do and soon you will feel as busy as ever, because ‘down time’ is unproductive time and the tech can compute that!

The future of work is more work.

 

Can a Mid to Large Size Company Work Without an HR Department? #HRFamous

In episode 53 of The HR Famous Podcast, long-time HR leaders (and friends) Tim Sackett and Jessica Lee discuss BTS, companies without HR departments, and whether the new Covid-19 bill will affect employment in the service industry.

Listen (click this link if you don’t see the player) and be sure to subscribe, rate, and review (Apple Podcasts) and follow (Spotify)!

Show Highlights:

2:00 – Just JLee and Tim today! KD is out for this episode.

3:15 – JLee and her family have become a part of the BTS Army. BTS is a K-Pop group that has taken over the world.

6:00 – Tim loves that JLee is very tied to her Korean culture and instills that pride and love in her children. He mentions an article that discusses Norwegian families raising Korean children and discusses the nature vs. nurture argument in that context.

8:00 – Tim brings up how the article examines the racial aspect of coming into a homogenous culture and trying to succeed with all the advantages your family can give you.

10:00 – Next topic: The CEO of UK startup Octopus Energy says he has no interest in having traditional business departments like HR. His company is worth over a billion pounds.

12:20 – Tim asks, “What we do without HR”? Well, Tim discovered that this company actually does have job openings in HR/IT-adjacent roles but he couldn’t find any hard HR or recruiting roles.

14:15 – JLee thinks that he’s gotta be outsourcing things like HR to other agencies or companies.

16:15 – Tim was on vacation this past week and read the book The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz. He said he hired a recruiter after only having nine employees for his company.

17:30 – Tim asks JLee if the newly passed Covid-19 stimulus bill will affect people wanting to go back to work in the service industry. JLee says she understands why people would not want to go back to working at restaurants or other service-type places because a lot of the draws of working there are now gone.

19:00 – JLee shares a story about going to lunch at a restaurant only the second time in the past year recently and how she felt very awkward there and didn’t know what to do while in the restaurant.

23:00 – Tim recently went to dinner and a movie for his birthday and he noticed that the business was understaffed. He wonders when people will start to return to the mentality of getting frustrated by long waits and lines.

25:20 – What’s there not to like about Koreans? Here is Time Entertainer of the Year BTS!

The Lies We Tell in HR and Talent Acquisition!

Everyone lies, right? I mean a little. Not bad lies. It’s like the lies we tell those we love to not hurt their feelings, or we believe the lie we are telling is really a victimless crime. You know the kind of lies I’m talking about:

  • Does this dress make me look fat? (Of course not…the dress has nothing to do with you looking fat…)
  • Ordering take-out food, then putting in normal dishes and making them believe you cooked it.
  • Buying new clothes, then bringing them home in dry cleaners plastic, to make it look like it is just stuff from the cleaners, and you really didn’t go buy stuff your budget couldn’t afford! (I have the shoes I buy shipped to my office and then wear them home!)
  • What size are you? (Oh, I’m a size 3! Only at Chico’s!)

Clearly, there are different types of lies.  The ones above, while clearly hiding the truth, aren’t meant to cause pain to the parties involved, and probably, in the end, trying to hold the peace within the relationship (i.e., that what they don’t know, won’t hurt them).

Then, there are those lies (Damned Lies) that will send you directly to hell, don’t pass go, don’t collect $200.  Those are the ones that cause people to lose their jobs, their families, their dignity, and pretty much anything of value.  I think we all agree, these are the “real” lies that get people into trouble.

The problem is, our “little lies”, like those listed above, tend to be the entry drug of lies, that lead to the damned lies.  Boy, this gets really confusing, especially trying to explain this to your kids! “No, Timmy, it’s not okay to lie! But you told Daddy we didn’t buy anything today and you bought that stuff at Lulu!”

Then, we have those lies we tell in HR and TA.  These are lies meant to primarily avoid conflict, protect feelings, protect privacy, protect relationships, etc. You know these –

HR and TA Lies:

Employee: How am I’m performing, and is my job in jeopardy? (bad performer)

HR: You’re really working hard and giving great effort. As of right now, there are no plans to let you go (but 15 min. after you leave I’ll have the plan).


Candidate: Do you have any room for negotiation? 

TA: We can’t move an inch, we’ve completely maxed out what we can offer you. (But, if you decline the offer more money will magically come flying out of my butt!) 


Employee: Can I still sign up for insurance, I forgot to sign up before the open enrollment deadline!?

HR: Of course not, it’s against the federal law, marshall law, the world health organization, and Rule 3 of the Secret Society of Evil HR Pros, and not to mention the Geneva Convention! How could you be so stupid?! We reminded you 87 times via email. We’re very sorry but the government will not allow us to help you! (Or, if we really like you and you’re a valuable employee who is hard to replace, “theoretically” we could fire you on Friday, and hire you back on Monday, backdate your paperwork and sign you up. But don’t tell anyone, it’s just our little secret!)


The last one I like the best, probably because I see it happen in every (yes, I mean every) company I’ve ever worked in or with!

What lies do you tell in HR & TA?

The Weekly Dose: @OurTilt – Leave that doesn’t suck!

This week on the Weekly Dose I take a look at the startup employee leave technology Tilt. Tilt is reimagining Leave Management to help companies improve retention, streamline processes and reinforce corporate culture.

Let’s face it, most organizations use an Excel Spreadsheet to track company employee leave. No judgment! The vast majority of organizations have tracked leave this way since the invention of Excel! Before that, it was written files. But, now, thanks to Tilt there is a more elegant way to administer employee leave that helps all the stakeholders.

You might be thinking, “do we really have a problem tracking leave?” Maybe not, but leave is more than just HR tracking it. You also have the employee who is on leave, and the manager of the employee who is on leave, who often feel in the dark the entire process.

What I like about Tilt:

– One easy platform to streamline all of your employees leaves into one place where all parties can log in the get the information they need. Super easy to add an employee to leave, and each employee has their own access to track and get answers they need while on leave.

– Fully compliant, in every state, so a perfect solution for those organizations that are multiple states and find it hard to keep up on changing legislation. Tilt helps ensure you stay in compliance and don’t’ find yourself in legal hot water.

– Tilt guides help employees and managers through the process, lowering the amount of time and questions leave administrators have to deal with on an ongoing basis. Also, integrates auto-nudges to ensure both employees and managers do what they need to do, when they need to do!

– Direct communication from employees, managers, and leave administrators that are logged within the platform to ensure all communication is tracked and documented. Plus, great, ongoing manager education around the do’s and don’ts in having an employee on leave.

– Tilt works with every client to review and update leave policies and plans, to ensure your leave plans are built on what’s best for your organization and your culture.

I really like what Tilt is doing. Organizations big and small struggle to administer leave in a really easy way and most of the time all the company leave knowledge is usually stuck in one person’s brain. Also, administering leave is a complicated job, the more employees who have on leave, and the more states you must administer it in.

Pre-leave, leave, and post-leave, you, your employees, and your managers will have the information they need when they need it. All the while the tech helps you stay compliant, saving you time and money. Well worth a demo, especially for those companies managing leave in multiple states.

The Rules for Office Romances

Valentine’s Day is coming up in a couple of weeks. As HR pros we know what this means, which is usually a lot of unwanted advances by horny dudes who think they have a shot at the hot co-worker, who has absolutely no interest in them at all.

Welcome to the show, kids!

I’ve given out some rules in the past. Everyone on the planet has read my Rules for Hugging at the Office, but Office Romances are a little more complicated than the simple side-hug in the hallway. So, I thought I would lay out some easy to follow, simple rules for Office Romances for you to pass out to your employees on Valentine’s Day:

Rule #1 – Don’t fall for someone you supervise. If you do fall for someone you supervise, which you probably will because this is how office romances work. In that case, get ready to quit, be fired, be moved to another department, and or get the person you’re having an office romance with fired, moved, etc.

Rule #2 – Don’t fall for anyone in Payroll. When it ends, so will your paycheck. At least temporarily, and even then it will be filled with errors from now until eternity. It’s a good rule of thumb to never mess with payroll for any reason.

Rule #3 – Don’t mess around in the office, or on office grounds. Look I get it. You’re crazy in love and just can’t wait until you get home. The problem is the security footage never dies. It will live long past your tenure with us, and we’ll laugh for a long time at you. So, please don’t.

Rule #4 – Don’t send explicit emails to each other at work. It’s not that I won’t enjoy reading them, it’s that I get embarrassed when I have to read them aloud to the unemployment judge at your hearing. Okay, I lied, I actually don’t get embarrassed, but you will.

Rule #5 – Don’t pick a married one. Look I get it, you’re the work-spouse. He/She tells you everything. You get so close, you really think it’s real, but it’s not. You’ll actually see this when the real spouse shows up and keys your car in the parking lot.

Rule #6 – Don’t pick someone who has crappy performance. Oh, great, you’re in love! Now I’m firing your boyfriend and you’ll have to pick between him and us, which you’ll pick him, and now I’m out two employees. Pick the great performers, it’s easier for all of us.

Rule #7 – Inform the appropriate parties as soon as possible. Okay, you went to a movie together, not a big deal. Okay, you went to the movie together and woke up in a different bed than your own. It might be time to mention this to someone in HR if there is at anyway a conflict of some sort. If you don’t know if there’s a conflict of some sort, let someone in HR help you out with that.

Rule #8 – If it seems wrong, it probably is.  If you find yourself saying things in your head like, “I’m not sure if this is right”, you probably shouldn’t be having that relationship. If you find yourself saying things like, “If this is wrong, I don’t want to be right”, you definitely shouldn’t be having this relationship.

Rule #9 – If you find yourself hiding your relationship at work, it might be time to talk to HR. We’re all adults, we shouldn’t be hiding normal adult relationships. If you feel the need to hide it, something isn’t normal about it.

Rule #10 – Everyone already knows about your relationship. People having an office romance are the worst at hiding it. You think you’re so sneaky and clever, but we see you stopping at her desk 13,000 times a day ‘asking for help’ on your expense report. We see you. We’re adults. We know what happened when you both went into the stairwell 7 seconds apart. Stop it.

There you go. Hope that helps as you prepare for Valentine’s Day!

Does a $15/hr Minimum Wage Really Help Workers?

There might not be a more controversial topic in 2021! Whether or not we (the United States of America) should raise the minimum wage for all workers, in all states, in all jobs to $15/hr.

I would love to say this is ‘simply’ a political issue, but it’s not. It’s much more complicated than politics. Both sides will point to studies that prove why or why not we should have a minimum wage of $15/hr. The reality is, a $15/hr minimum wage is more of an economic issue than political.

What is the argument, really, for and against a $15/hr minimum wage? 

For $15/hr:

  • People need a living wage. $15/hr for a forty-hour week, roughly puts a person at an income level of $30,000 per year. Which, in theory, would bring that person above the poverty level. Let’s be clear, “above poverty level” is still a freaking tough life!
  • Corporations are making record profits on the backs of hourly workers. Hello, Jeff Bezos!
  • Other countries have done this and it’s worked out just fine.

Against $15/hr:

  • Raising the minimum wage to $15/hr and above will cost jobs. If you force employers to pay $15/hr as a minimum they’ll hire fewer workers and have them work fewer hours.
  • $15/hr minimum wage is too little for some markets and too much for some markets. We should let market dynamics decide what the minimum should be.
  • Other countries, like Australia, pay a living wage, but have you been to Australia? It’s not the U.S. It’s U.S.-like, but when you go to a “bar and grill” in Australia you don’t get waited on. You go to the bar, order your food, and they yell your name when it’s done. Need extra ketchup? Go to the bar, wait in line, and hope you can get the one bartender to get it for you. Why? Because wait staff costs too much, so they use them. Things are different. So, yeah, “waitstaff” in Australia gets paid a living wage, but those places just don’t hire very many.

What does the research really say? 

Here is where the rubber meets the road because we can always find a study that will back up whatever point we might have. I’m for an increase in the minimum wage, or I’m against it, I can share with you five studies each supporting my take. Ugh! So, what is it really?

I found a study that looked at all the minimum wage studies (not some dumb Forbes article, real academic research), both for and against, to break down the facts and the myths. Here’s what they found:

  • There is a clear preponderance of negative effects on employment when raising the minimum wage.
  • The evidence is stronger for teens, young adults, and less-educated.
  • The evidence around specific industries is less one-sided.

What does all of that mean? 

First, while you will find studies saying that minimum wage does not impact jobs, there is way more academic and economic literature supporting the other side. Also, the evidence shows a strong effect on younger workers and lower educated, so there might be some room to talk about family or adult minimum wage standards verse just the standard one-size-fits-all. There is also a need to look at minimum wage by industry, again not just across the board.

An example might be, manufacturing sectors can pay $15/hr but service level restaurant jobs can not. Or, $15/hr makes sense in New York City, but not in Winona, MN. Maybe it could be looked at via high margin industries verse low margin industries.

What is clear, from the evidence, is that a straight $15/hr minimum wage, for all people, for the entire country, is not the best remedy for our current dilemma. Most likely, what will happen, if the $15/hr minimum happens is you’ll see organizations adjust accordingly by doing a combination of rising prices, cutting costs, cutting hours, and cutting jobs.

If you believe corporations are just going to “eat” the additional expenses, at the cost of profit, you are at best naive.

What’s my take?

I don’t like the proposal of just across the board we are going to raise the minimum wage to $15/hr across the country. I don’t like it because it won’t do what people think it should do, it’s really just more political posturing. In the end, consumers will pay more (which maybe we should) and corporations will cut to make the same profits. Ultimately, workers will take it on the chin, again.

If politicians truly cared about workers, they would dig in and do a minimum wage by market. It would be way higher than $15/hr in some locations and probably a bit lower in some locations, but there would be more strategy and thought behind it. The federal government does this now with pay bands for federal workers, they should be able to do it for all workers with minimum wage.

To not include market dynamics in compensation policy shows the government doesn’t really care about workers, truly. Because when it comes to taking care of their own, federal government employees, they do take into consideration market dynamics. $15/hr in Los Angles, San Francisco, and New York City is nothing, let’s be real.

Let me hear it in the comments! Are you for or against a $15/hr minimum wage and why?