What Are the Top HR Compliance Trends to be Aware of?

Although finding and retaining quality talent is a primary area of concern for most employers, there are compliance-related topics that frequently arise in client discussions that may take priority.  Here we will review these areas of high focus and  the proactive steps you may consider in addressing them.

Employee Leaves of Absence (Paid Leave)

Currently, only D.C. and five states (California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New York, Washington) have paid family-leave programs2, but this number can and will continue to expand.  Exclusive of the implementation of state and federal laws, many employers have taken a proactive approach to expand their time-off policies as a tool to attract and retain talent in the tight labor market.  At a minimum, most employers should step back to assess how competitive their time-off policies are in today’s environment.

Employee Drug Use

Numerous employers are seeing a rise in employee drug use. Dealing with an incredibly tight labor market makes them reluctant to implement and/or enforce strict drug testing policies for both candidates and current employees in fear of limiting their ability to hire or retain talent in critically needed roles.  Though it’s quite the conundrum, we recommend that employers reassess their policies to ensure they currently make sense for their organizational circumstances from both a safety and staffing perspective.

Violence in the Workplace – Prevention and Incident Response Planning

According to a recent study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)1, approximately 1 out of 7 Americans said they do not feel safe at work. Nearly a quarter of employees and almost half of HR professionals polled said they had experienced an incident of workplace violence, with 14% of employees and 25% of HR professionals reporting incidents last year.

According to SHRM’s data, nearly one-third of American employees were “currently unsure or don’t know what to do if they witness or are involved in a workplace violence incident.” 1 in 5 responding HR professionals were also unsure of what to do in such incidents.

Take a proactive approach in educating employees on what actions they should or should not take if presented with such an event to ease some of their concerns. There are an increasing number of programs and resources that are available for employers to utilize to help prepare their employees.

Ban the Box Laws

An extensive number of local and state governments have implemented “ban the box” laws that would prohibit employers from inquiring about past criminal convictions for candidates until the final stages of pre-hire process. Although these laws have not been extended to private employers in Ohio, this is an area that should be regularly monitored to ensure your candidate screening processes meet current regulations.

Salary Exempt Classifications

The Department of Labor has proposed an increase to the salary-level threshold for white-collar exemptions from $23,660 to $35,308 per year. The second requirement for exemptions is the duties test which is dependent on a variety of factors with slightly different criteria. The Department of Labor is not proposing any changes to this test.

If the proposed changes are adopted, employers will need to evaluate their exempt-level employees first to ensure they will meet the new salary threshold. If they do not, then employers are faced with two options: to increase the salary for all exempt employees to meet the new threshold or reclassify the employees to nonexempt which means they are eligible for overtime pay.

If your organization is experiencing these same concerns it is important to be up-to-date and make changes in a timely manner to avoid fault. There are numerous resources you can lean on to guide you through them. Then you can get back to other high-priorities like finding and retaining top talent.



1 https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/trends-and-forecasting/research-and-surveys/pages/workplace-violence.aspx
2 https://www.marketwatch.com/story/only-5-states-have-paid-family-leave-laws-allowing-parents-to-bond-with-their-newborn-2019-02-06

How to Operationalize Core Values in an Organization

The development of a strong foundational culture and clarity around core values go hand-in-hand in the modern-day organization. There are many examples of businesses displaying their core values on large screens or signage in their offices but what do they truly mean when you look through the organization? If you were to ask a cross-section of employees, even middle and upper managers, would they even know what they were? This is a common concern of business owners and leaders, as fundamentally they will strive to embody a predetermined set of values they want their company to demonstrate and live by, but how do you operationalize company core values and allow them to live and breathe among your people?

Refer to them consistently

Whether there is explicit referral to your core values at the start of company meetings, they appear on performance review documentation or used to guide decision-making processes throughout the company, constantly referring to your core values shows all employees how they, too, can epitomize them in their day-to-day employment.

Recognize behaviors that align with them

Another effective way to operationalize your core values is to highlight observed behaviors of staff throughout the organization that align with specific values.

It could be a simple 1-on-1 conversation or highlighting them in front of others. Either way, you will be solidifying positive behaviors that align with the values you wish to demonstrate. An example could be a company with a core value such as “community” and celebrating an employee representing the organization on a local non-profit board or as a coach on a little league team. Whatever examples you may have, celebrate them!

Use them in coaching conversations

Sometimes managers find it difficult to coach undesirable behaviors as they may struggle to contextualize them. Using core values to frame these coaching conversations helps to provide context for employees and managers to have meaningful discussions and move forward with confidence. An example of this could be with a core value such as “teamwork.” If an employee has refused to work in a team to achieve a certain goal and friction is being caused, having a conversation around the core value of teamwork will help to re-frame the behavior and provide context for why working alone is not how the company chooses to operate.

While defining your company core values is a rewarding exercise to go through for any leadership team, displaying them in an eye-catching way may not be enough to get them to live and breathe in the organization.

Always strive to provide context and real-life examples to your people that demonstrate their positive effect on the organization and the customers you serve; this way your core values will surely come to life.

document employee issues

What’s the Best Way to Document Employee Issues?

In our last blog we reviewed why it is important to document employee issues and the value that comes with accurate documentation. Here, we will discuss the common barriers supervisors hit and provide key talking points to ensure proper documentation.

We previously stated that not having time was the most common reason for supervisors not to document. Another obstacle is that supervisors are often under the false impression that they do not have sufficient writing skills to properly document. An English degree or exceptional writing skills are not required to document employee issues. The best documentation is accomplished using simple, plain language.  With very few exceptions, all supervisors have the skills necessary to document.

The third barrier is a lack of process. Many supervisors don’t know where to begin or how to structure employee documentation.

Writing factual, accurate statements and following a standard format to document employee issues will help to write more effectively and document in less time.

Employee documentation can be created by incorporating key talking points in a format that:

  1. State the purpose of the documentation
  2. Explain performance expectations
  3. Summarize the gaps in expectations
  4. Explain the impact of the gap on the business
  5. Confirm next steps for closing gaps and/or the consequences of not closing the gaps, as appropriate
  6. Allow the employee to formally acknowledge the issue by signing the documentation

Using the above, let’s step through a documentation discussion with an employee about attendance.

Having a simple process to follow will set the expectations for both the supervisor and employee and help to close gaps within the business.

Although, using this approach will not increase the enthusiasm for documenting employee issues, it will make supervisors begin to feel more comfortable with doing it at all. More importantly, it will be done correctly which can protect the individuals involved, as well as your company, and that is invaluable.

Why is Documenting Employee Issues Important?

Documenting employee issues is one the least liked things supervisors have to do. The process is a time consuming, academic exercise that is solely for the purposes of covering everyone’s backs should an employee take legal action over an employment decision that they were not in agreement with. So why is it important?

Documentation provides insight into an employer’s rationale behind disciplining an employee or deciding to take an adverse employment action such as termination.

The primary purpose of documenting is to:

  • Help an employee understand gaps in expectations. What should be happening compared to what is happening.  Think in terms of expected results compared to actual results.
  • Explain why the gap between what should be happening and what is happening matters and the negative impact the gap is having on the business.  Think in terms of reduced profitability, work group morale, safety, customer satisfaction and so forth.
  • Confirm the agreed upon course of action to close gaps or the consequences of not meeting expectations.  In some cases, talking about consequences for not meeting expectations (i.e. disciplinary action, no raise, termination, et al) is not constructive.

In the event the employee does not close the gaps and consequences follow, the documentation leading up to imposing consequences will help protect the employer from claims of discrimination or wrongful termination. Enforcement agencies and the Courts rely on an employer’s documentation to help determine the merits of employee claims that come before them.

For this reason alone, we can make the case for the business necessity of documenting employee matters. You understand this yet, you procrastinate or elect not to document at all. Why?

The most common reason not to document issues is the supervisor not having the time.

If you view documenting an employee issue to be of value, then you will find the time to document the issue. If you believe the time spent handling other issues will yield a greater return on investment of your time then you will conclude that you shouldn’t document.  In truth, this may be a viable argument.

To determine if your time is best invested not documenting an employee matter, calculate the cost of the time needed to document the issue and then compare to the cost of higher unemployment insurance premiums or legal fees to defend an adverse employment action.  If you will achieve a greater ROI of your time by not documenting—then don’t document.  Just be willing to write a check instead.

Understanding the reasoning and the value of documenting employee issues is the first step of protecting yourself and your company. In our next blog, we will teach you the key talking points to address and ensure proper documentation of any employee issues that come your way.

recruitment mistakes

What are the Top 5 Recruitment Mistakes?

recruitment mistakesRecruitment mistakes can be costly; not only for the recruiter but for the candidate and the hiring company.

Whether you are a contingent recruiter or work on retainer there is a right and wrong way to do things. Recruitment mistakes will vary but there are 5 that consistently make an appearance.

  1. Don’t make assumptions based on resumes alone. It is of the upmost importance to remember that resumes and LinkedIn profiles are not always something to use to disqualify a candidate. Resumes don’t always tell the whole story. Maybe that job jumping was due to some temp work the person had done to get by until they landed a permanent position. The average recruiter will spend 8 seconds reviewing a resume or profile. If more time than that is spent then it is worth sending that message to inquire.
  2. Make real connections. Genuine online connections are not easy to make so the approach in the initial message needs to be strategic. The goal is to connect in a way that engages the candidate and leaves them wanting more information. Just saying, “I have a job for you,” might not be the right amount of caress that a passive candidate needs to interact with the message. The original message should grab the reader and leave them seeking answers. Try connecting with their background. Maybe the person went to OSU and you lead with, “how about that Buckeye win this weekend?” It’s all about connecting on a personal level. After you have grabbed them with the intro follow by telling them briefly about the position and then how they connect to the opportunity. It could be that they would be a great connection to meet others who will be a fit and sometimes suggesting just that can lead to heightened interest for themselves.
  3. Ask better questions. Basic questions such as, “what’s your greatest weakness?” or “tell me about a challenge you faced and how you overcame it,” lead to the same boring conversation and answers that you have heard a thousand times. You want to throw some curve balls and  really get to know who the candidate is. Try asking, “what is one thing you like most about your current manager and what is one thing you would change?” or “how would your coworkers describe you and how would your best friend describe you?” Opening up the questions allows the candidate to reflect on who they are and what their view in the workplace is so that you can get a deeper understanding of the candidate.
  4. Maintain consistent contact. The first interaction between a candidate and a recruiter is usually a phone call and the recruiter tries to “hook” the candidate onto the opportunity. After the candidate is sold on the prospect, a few weeks pass before a recruiter will reach back out with more insight into the opportunity and the client needs. It’s not always an intentional thing to forget candidates but it’s a big recruitment mistake and will leave a bad taste in their mouth for all future recruiters. It is important to keep the candidate warm throughout the entire process. Calendar reminders to make steady contacts can keep you on track. Providing candidates with an update, even if it is that you have no update, will make them feel thought of and when you keep them engaged it aids the movement of the process.
  5. Be honest. 61% of employees report that what they were told about the position differs greatly from the job reality. So how do we avoid an unhappy hire? Most people like to know exactly what they are getting themselves into, so tell the truth. Establishing trust with the candidate will only allow more networking in the future.

The recruiting process isn’t only for companies. It’s for recruiters to expand their network while making real connections and for candidates to find a job and a company they fit with. Avoiding these recruitment mistakes will ensure future opportunities for the recruiter, company and candidate satisfaction and the optimum experience for all parties involved.


flexible work

What are the Benefits of a Flexible Work Schedule?

flexible work scheduleAccording to a Harvard Business Review 1 study completed by Fractl, a flexible work schedule is a very close 2nd to better health care benefits when job candidates are considering potential offers from an employer.  In fact, 88% of all job prospects would consider the opportunity to have some form of a flexible work schedule a strong part of their decision process in selecting a job offer.

According to that same study, team members who are provided flexible work style options are happier, more productive and highly engaged.  Flexibility is one of the top three culture attributes team members value the most, following ethics and inclusion. Giving team members the independence to work remotely can lead to productivity gains — 86% of remote work program participants believe they are as or even more productive working remotely compared to those who are in the office full-time.

93% of team members feel remote work makes them a better team member and the company a better employer.

A Forbes article assessment by Dell of a Flexible Work Initiative Program implemented in 2009, resulted in the following impact and benefits. 2

Reduce the barriers to attracting top talent: Work-life balance ranks as the number one career goal for all three major generations — baby boomers, Generation X and millennials — according to research with Intel.

Benefit the planet: Flexible work practices also help businesses to conserve natural resources and energy. With fewer people in the office and on the road, you’re helping reduce transportation-related pollution and can maximize office space usage. An internal Dell study in 2015 revealed that its Connected Workplace program in the United States alone helped reduce an estimate 25 million kWh of energy. Gallup data suggests that the U.S. workforce avoids 2.7 billion round-trips per year by telecommuting — a reduction of 30 million metric tons CO2e per year.

Responding to the Changing Workplace: A principal driver of this cultural shift is the innovative technology that is now capable of enabling productivity without trade-offs. But providing the latest technology isn’t enough — a company’s HR and IT efforts also need to align closely with the operation management teams.

Flexible work is the new norm in the workplace and it’s not going away anytime soon. By providing your teams with flexible work options that encourage collaboration, optimize productivity and allow them to follow their preferred work style, your organization will boost its competitive edge and position itself to become an employer-of-choice for the world’s best talent.


1 https://hbr.org/2017/02/the-most-desirable-employee-benefits
2 https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbeshumanresourcescouncil/2017/12/08/how-a-flexible-work-culture-works-for-everyone/
recruitment metrics

Are Recruitment Metrics Useful?

Establishing recruitment metrics is crucial when evaluating your recruitment team’s performance and creating effective sourcing strategies. There are countless metrics one could consider so it is important to focus on those that align with your organization, recruitment team and client needs.

The data derived from recruitment metrics provide insight into the successes and challenges of your current recruiting process. This will allow one to identify bottlenecks and efficiencies in the process and provide insight into possible solutions. There are 3 popular metrics for external recruiters working with small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs).

Time to Fill

This metric is important for all recruiters to measure, regardless of internal or external. A candidate can become disengaged when in the middle of a lengthy hiring process.

Companies also run the risk of losing the candidate to a competitor with a faster hiring process.

Statistics show that 50% of companies’ average time to hire is 1-2 months. If your process is much longer than your competitors, it may be worth examining the most time-consuming aspects of the process and finding ways to improve overall time to fill. If you’re having a hard time identifying the specific bottlenecks, consider implementing a funnel conversion rate metric.

Funnel Conversion Rate

This metric focuses on candidate workflow progression and activity. An example of a workflow could be: added to job; phone screened; HR interview; hiring manager interview; final interview; offer. To understand potential hold ups in the process, take a look at the conversion rate from phone screen to HR interview or HR Interview to hiring manager interview, etc. It will become clear which stages of the funnel are slowing down the process. For instance, if there is a low conversion rate from phone screen to HR interview, that could be an indication that the current sourcing strategy isn’t producing viable candidates, ultimately creating a longer time to hire. Another example could be a high conversion rate from HR interview to hiring manager interview followed by a low conversion rate from hiring manger interview to final interview. This could be an indicator of a disconnect between the HR and recruitment team and the hiring manager’s expectations. The data alone won’t provide the exact answer to the problems, but it will allow you insight to begin to create potential solutions.

Candidate Response Rate

This metric measures the success of the team’s sourcing and messaging to candidates. If you are finding that only 5% of candidates are responding to your emails, LinkedIn InMails, and phone calls, that should raise a red flag. An example of a potential reason behind low candidate responses could be poor messaging techniques. Candidates want to feel as though you have taken the time to understand their background and potential job fit, which translates into personalized messaging. If you are sending a generic email blast, chances are you are not seeing high response rates. A better approach is to find something in their profile that is unique to them and include that in your initial message. Knowing that you took the time to read their profile in detail will go along way with the passive candidate.


The first step is creating a candidate pool starts with a strong sourcing and messaging strategy.

If your candidate response rate is at least 30%, you’re off to a good start! Track the candidates throughout the pipeline to gain greater insight into the process with the funnel conversion rate. Both the candidate response rate and funnel conversion rate will play a big factor in your time to fill. Remember, these three recruitment metrics are just a few among countless others. If your data is lacking, consider additional metrics that align with your recruitment team’s goals and objectives.



employees engaged

How Do I Keep My Employees Engaged?

Today, employees have the freedom to choose the work they do and most are drawn to environments that keep them engaged. The average person spends 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime, which equals to about 1/3 of their life. Engaging employees in their work allows for astounding results. Pushing your business forward with a shared drive amongst staff is where the ultimate growth will happen.

Are your employees engaged? Do you see individuals who are confident and energized? What are some ways to keep your employees engaged?

Start with giving them what they need and don’t assume you know what that is, ask them.

Most employees simply want to feel valued. Meaningfulness becomes the condition of the workplace when it enables workers to feel worthwhile and valued. This happens when workers have the autonomy to tackle complex problems and when procedures and goals are clear. It gives them a secure environment to venture out of the box and to “show and employ one’s self” without the fear of being shot down.

A favorite way to keep employees engaged is to add a level of humor to the workplace. When people laugh, it promotes wellness and legitimately becomes a therapeutic ally for the establishment. It diffuses stress and enhances problem solving skills. Showing a human side will break the barrier between management and employees that sometimes exists. This will allow new ideas to flow more freely, ultimately producing more.

Finally, set attainable short-term goals and make sure long-term goals are clearly defined.

When goals are attainable, it opens the door for employees to feel like they accomplish more and feel truly successful. Sharp focus can be maintained when an employee feels like they are contributing to the whole. A universal mission should be clearly defined so that everyone can see the singular purpose, permitting people to be fully immersed in the vision. Be available for conversations and give good feedback because communication is the common key in all of this for keeping your employees engaged.


effective feedback

How Do I Provide Effective Feedback to my Employees?

effective feedbackIn a recent study by Officevibe on the  “Statistics On The Importance Of Employee Feedback” it was reported that 65% of employees wanted more feedback and that 14.9% lower turnover rates can be experienced in companies that implement regular feedback activities.

So, if feedback is truly that important how can you be sure that you are giving effective feedback to your employees that with motivate and engage them?

I’m sure you have either heard or uttered the following when giving feedback, we all have:

“If you don’t hear from me, then you are doing just fine.”

“The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”

“A self-motivated employee really does not need any feedback.”

“If I provide any positive feedback, my employees will just slack off.”

You certainly are not alone. But here’s some feedback for you: you could be creating an environment that will demoralize and demotivate your employees.

For a person to grow they need feedback; positive feedback to reinforce all the beneficial contributions and impact they have had as an employee and constructive feedback to redirect what is not working well.  If someone is working in a vacuum of “feedbacklessness” it is likely their flame of productivity will simply extinguish and any poor behaviors or sub-par performance habits will continue.

Providing effective feedback is critical for each employee’s personal growth and the success of your team. 

As a leader, the growth and development of the people on your team is one of the most important roles you have and real growth can only happen if you are providing appropriate reinforcement and effective feedback.

Effective feedback should be:

  1. Intentional: You should be aware of the actions and behaviors of your employees to reinforce or redirect as needed.
  2. Specific: Specify the actions, behaviors and results you want to reinforce or redirect.
  3. Proactive: Schedule regular discussions to check in on issues and provide positive reinforcement. Also, provide on-the-job feedback to immediately resolve an issue or provide well-deserved praise.
  4. Sincere: Sincerity will build the trust that is required for feedback to be meaningful to an employee.

Effective Feedback should not be:

  • Vague: Being too general about what is being reinforce or redirected can only cause confusion and may make the issue worse.
  • Emotional: Maintain professionalism and don’t let emotions get involved otherwise the employee may feel personally attacked.
  • Reactive: Providing feedback only when and because it is required (i.e. only during the annual review HR requires you to complete) is ineffective and will not provide benefits for anyone involved.
  • Artificial: Feigning sincerity inhibits any real intention to truly benefit the employee.

The following is an example of sincere, proactive, effective feedback from a manager:

“I regularly hear from your employees that they truly believe you always have their best interest in mind by regularly showing them genuine appreciation for their successes and contributions, but you are also willing to provide them “tough love” if they need to hear something they could improve on or should change.  Your team is consistently out performing others and I would like for you to help our company create and reinforce a similar culture with other teams. As a result I would to offer you a position of…”

As a manager and leader, establishing a culture of consistent reinforcement and constructive feedback in an honest, sincere and supportive manner is a gift that will significantly increase the development of your team members, along with their ability to positively impact the achievement of your organizational goals and objectives.