Tag: Human resources

Job Hunting Over 50

Posted on November 10th, by Dorothy Douglass in Business and Workplace, Career Advice. 1 Comment

I am  54 years old.  I have a tendency to start many of my blog posts with this information.  Why?  To add context to whatever I’m passionate enough about to write at that moment.  I’m also an HR professional and I like to think I am progressive and strategic.  I’m fairly active on social media – though I cannot tell you what a Reddit is, or what Four Square does, I do post on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and I pin a lot on Pinterest.  Likely, if you are a young, hip, tech-savvy reader, you know now why I lead with my age.  I’m most certainly behind the times.

But onward…in my use of social media, I try to be more than just a serial poster, creeper, or tweeter.  I try to connect with my connections, and be a friend or a network ally.  Not too long ago, a Facebook friend posted a melancholy post.  Ok, it was scary.  I don’t see his posts often, but for whatever reason, it came up on my feed.  Kismet, perhaps.  High school and college classmate, not a close get-together-for-lunch friend, but one I have always admired.  I commented, “Are you ok?”

Many others posted and one shared with us that he spoke with this man and he was indeed okay, though troubled by a recent job loss, and challenged to find a new position.  I was compelled to offer to assist – hey, I AM in HR, but perhaps there was something I could share to help this friend move forward.  We connected on LinkedIn, messaged one another and arranged a phone call.

We talked for a bit and he shared his frustrations with today’s job hunt and job market.  I’m paraphrasing as best as I can (I’m over 50, cut me some slack!), and here are a few of those frustrations:

Online applications.  My friend lamented that looking for a job is just “not like it used to be.” At some point, this displaced salesman could walk in with his resume to a company and talk to someone face-to-face.  Or at least send the resume in the mail and it would be reviewed.

  • “Why must I also upload my resume when I’ve spent lots of time typing in the information on the application?”
  • “Why do companies fail to take down postings after they are filled?”
  • “Why am I always asked for my salary expectations up front and early in the process?”
  • “Why do I never… Hear… Anything?”
  • “Why can’t I call someone to convince them I can do the job?”

All are great questions.  And for any of us in the age 50+ category,  they are reasonable questions.  So here’s how I answered them, with my HR hat on. And there are some follow-up tips for HR folks.


Why upload a resume AND complete an application? 

  1. The job application is generally a legal document. Hint: Don’t falsify, glorify, or otherwise embellish information on a job application, online or otherwise.
  2. Generally, an application calls for more information and detail than is supplied on a resume. We ask for employment information including salary, supervisor name and contact info.  Specific dates of employment, and education may not be included on a resume.  Hint: Be detailed when you complete an application.  Fill in all the blanks as best you can.
  3. A resume may be filled with inaccurate, inflated, or even false information.  Hint: Don’t do this.   Google Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson for more information.  Go back to #1 – the app is a legal document.
  4. Why upload one if you are completing the application? It depends on the company, culture, and HR department.  Some companies may not require that the resume be uploaded.

Tip for the HR Pros:  It might be good to communicate information on why an application is necessary on your careers page.  We are recruiting tech-savvy professionals, of all ages.  But not everyone understands why we require application, irrespective of generation.


Why do companies not take down postings once the positions are filled?

With my rose-colored glasses on, I would like to think the HR folks are just caught up in the administrative process once the position is filled.

Tip for HR: Be sure your recruiter or HR tech person does take down postings that are filled.  Does your system have an option to automatically send a notification to all applicants when that happens?  If so, turn it on.  Our brand is everything, and if we aren’t staying up-to-date on our own job openings, how can HR be seen as credible internally or externally? Same for your company.


Why am I always asked for my salary expectations up front and early in the process?

Likely, a savvy HR professional needs to know if you and the company are in the same salary ballpark.  If you are seeking a job that pays $100,000 in salary, and the position you applied for caps at $45,000, there is no value in taking your time or the company’s to continue the conversation.  Candidates should consider having a clear picture of what they must have in order to change jobs, and what they desire in salary.  Reframe such a question with a discussion phrased something like this, “That’s a great question.  I have a salary in mind, can you tell me what the minimum pay is, and what the midpoint of the pay range is?”  Then continue the conversation.

Tip for HR:  Are you posting salary ranges out there?  Perhaps at least posting a midpoint would be reasonable.  After all, your time is valuable, too. 


Why do I never… Hear… Anything?

I hope (rose-colored glasses are on) that you mean after you complete an application.  In today’s world, companies receive many more applications than in years past.  In our company of 400+ employees, all who work within one state, we receive about 4,000 applications per year.  (Frame of reference, in 2001 we received about 200 per year.) Of those 4,000, about 2,000 are considered “complete” and are reviewed by a ‘real’ human.  Our system sends an automatic response to anyone who completes the application 100%.

If you were interviewed, I hope the HR professionals at minimum provided an electronic response if another candidate was selected for the position or if you did not make the next set of interviews.

Tip for HR: Employment brand is everything.  Want to be remembered?  Be sure to send a follow up letter, even if it is a rejection follow up.  And if time allows and a candidate calls, can you/do you/should you give feedback on where they could improve next time? What if you found them to be a great cultural fit, but not right for this position?  Following up with a personal phone call to ask a candidate to keep your company in mind for future opportunities – how cool is that?   Imagine the brand recognition you could have if you can do this in an empathetic, professional manner?


Why can’t I call someone to convince them I am right for the job?

Candidate, beware. This may result in your being seen as overly assertive, aggressive, or needy.  Generally speaking, in larger companies, the hiring manager works with HR (rose-colored glasses on here) and between them have experience in hiring and selection.  You may, indeed, be the right candidate, and depending on the job, assertiveness can be a good thing.  Desperation will not be seen as good.  An option:  follow up with a thank you call, email, or handwritten note.  Ask for future consideration and reiterate why you would be a great choice for a role in that company.  Send the HR person a thank you as well.  In today’s world, you will be remembered.

And candidates also be aware that HR may be a credible business partner to the hiring manager.  Trashing HR or following up with “did I intimidate your HR person?”  Or “Did I scare HR?” will not win you any champions the next time you apply.

Job candidates, you must be tech-savvy in this day and age.  At a minimum, you should know how to use a computer and be able to complete an electronic application.  Seek out assistance if you are rusty.  Many libraries and WorkOne offices have classes and folks ready to help.

Apply for many jobs.  The more applications you complete, the higher your chance for being contacted for an interview.  And prepare for your interview  – this is key to moving forward in the hiring process.

Tip for HR: Be open-minded and listen to the candidate.  Be professional and honest with any feedback you provide.  We tend to provide little or no feedback because of the litigious society in which we live.  How can we walk that tightrope best in recruiting?


Finally, my HR peeps, remember to show class and character in hiring.  Your brand is important and you are often the first glimpse into your company that an applicant or job candidate has.  Review your systems on occasion and have an outside, objective person complete an application in your system and give you feedback.  Was it hard? Easy? Time-consuming?  Did it ask for same information multiple times?  Did they get an automatic reply?

HR, be open to all ages, all generations – yes, I know we are sensitive to this.  Walk in the job applicant’s shoes. My Facebook friend’s questions are legitimate questions.  If he’s asking them and feeling them, I’m guessing there are many others out there in the same position.


About the Author:  Dorothy Douglass is Vice President of Human Resources & Training at MutualBank, an Indiana-based financial institution.  She began her career with Mutual in 2001 as Human Resources Manager, and is a graduate of Ball State University.  She is proud to have been in Human Resources now for more than 17 years and is continuing to “lean in” and working to influence the “people management” side of her organization.  She is passionate about managing and developing people; and I have yet to be bored in 13+ years in her current job.   She considers herself fairly tech-UN-savvy, though has immersed herself in Facebook and LinkedIn.  She’s still working on the Twitter-sphere & has goals to blog more in 2014.


Reimagining HR’s Role As a Key Business Partner Can Lead to Career Advancement

Posted on October 8th, by a Guest Contributor in Personal & Professional Development. No Comments

Editor’s Note: The following is the final installment of a three-part series featuring influential women from Paychex. Part I of the series kicked off on Sept. 22 in conjunction with American Business Women’s Day.


I’m a big believer that professional development is the basis for achieving success in almost any field, and HR is no exception. It’s important to assess your own strengths and opportunities to determine what competencies you need to master in order to advance to the next step, and then execute an Individual Development Plan (IDP) that is targeted to help you achieve your career goals.


Over the course of my career, I’ve made it a constant point of emphasis to be self-aware of my performance in areas that I consider to be key competencies in my current role and the next role that that I aspire to attain. This has enabled me to develop an IDP that leverages my strengths and close my gaps through actions that provide me with valuable exposure opportunities, hands-on experiences and continued learning. My philosophy is to invest in yourself because the ROI is priceless.


Business leaders today know that their employees are the driver of business success. While employees are valued, many business leaders rank human capital as a top challenge. This presents a huge opportunity for HR practitioners to add value to their companies and grow as professionals, if they can help their organization reimagine HR’s role as a key business partner. Here are some key competencies that can help you tremendously in achieving that goal:


Functional knowledge and expertise. The field of HR is extensive and continues to advance and transform. It’s vitally important to stay abreast of the field so that your knowledge – and practical application of that knowledge – is modern and relevant. Having strong functional knowledge and expertise better equips you to quickly align HR and business strategy.


Business acumen. Understanding the big picture and the ability to look out the windshield at what lies ahead are critical. Having strong business acumen will result in the aptitude and knowledge to become a more critical thinker and capable problem solver. Developing business acumen involves being keenly aware of the economic and social issues that are affecting your company, staying close to emerging industry trends, your companies competitors,  and truly understanding the SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) of your organization. When all of these things come together, you’re in a position to diagnose a business problem and offer a strategic solution that will drive business outcomes and your company’s success.


Executive disposition.  It’s more than about what you know. It’s also about how you perform in your role as a HR practitioner. You want to be viewed as a leader not only in your profession, but in the organization as a whole. HR practitioners have a really unique opportunity to develop relationships that are both cross-functional and cross-hierarchical. When doing so, it’s important to convey an image that’s consistent with the vision and values of the organization in order to be an effective advocate for the company. You want to exude a demeanor of poise and confidence, especially in times of change, ambiguity, or stress. It will command respect and reassure others within the organization – from front line employees all the way to the C-suite.


If you’re a HR practitioner who may not yet have these competencies mastered, don’t fret. Simply make a pledge to your professional development by formalizing your IDP and making it a priority. That commitment will pay huge dividends, both for yourself and your organization.


About the Author: Leah Machado is the director of service for HR Services at Paychex, a leading provider of integrated human capital management (HCM) solutions for payroll, human resource, insurance, and benefits outsourcing services. She leads an organization with over 500 HR practitioners who provide HR outsourcing services to 32,000 Paychex HR Services clients with 880,000 worksite employees.  Leah’s career spans over 22 years in the retail, restaurant, and HCM outsourcing industries, and includes HR practitioner and leadership experience.




Four Tips to Help You Excel in Talent Acquisition

Posted on October 1st, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. No Comments

Editor’s Note: The following is the second installment of a three-part series featuring influential women from Paychex. Part I of the series kicked off on Sept. 22 in conjunction with American Business Women’s Day.


Much like many other business functions, the world of talent acquisition is evolving at every stop. Mining for, finding, hiring, and maintaining top talent can be a challenge, but it’s an attainable feat if you play your cards right. Building a track record of effective and meaningful hires will not only contribute significantly to the overall success of your company, it will likely result in your escalation up the talent acquisition ladder.

With that in mind, here are a few tips that I believe can help you to excel in the world of talent acquisition:

  • Know your business inside and out. Make yourself an expert on how your company functions, what you’re selling, and how the company makes its money. Becoming familiar with things like the value prop your sales team is using or future company goals can help with that understanding. With that in mind, don’t ignore the competition. Are you losing talent to competitors? If so, find out what’s driving them elsewhere. It goes without saying, but knowing what sets your company apart from the competition can pay huge dividends.
  • Understand today’s market. Talent acquisition has evolved to become more about marketing than ever before. The ability to fully grasp your company’s image and culture are paramount, as is channeling those sentiments to prospects through a variety of ways that include everything from social media engagement and good old fashioned word of mouth. Some of what we do today could be looked at as re-recruiting current employees. Make them feel good about where they work and understand what makes it such a great place to work. Finally, be creative, relatable, and strategic in everything you do – writing job descriptions, social media posts or replies, and everything in between.
  • Accept that data is your friend. Understanding and applying metrics is an opportunity to shine. If you can wrap your brain around the numbers and use that knowledge as insight into the hiring process, you’re almost guaranteed to save time or money or both. This goes from company-specific data from something like the results of a recent employee engagement survey to drilling down into the habits of prospects in a certain area or age group. For example, if you know recent college graduates are more likely to search for jobs via LinkedIn, targeting of that age group should reflect that fact. If you’re looking to fill a customer service position, you might favor Monster.com over CareerBuilder.com. In addition, data has the ability to reveal how many calls, candidates, and people you need to look at to make a hire. Track those trends and use the information to your advantage.
  • Develop and maintain fruitful partnerships. When it comes to succeeding in talent acquisition, this might be the most important point of all. Establish and nurture partnerships with marketing, hiring managers, TA specialists, and other key players within your company who have the ability to reach and influence prospects. When it comes to marketing, consistent messaging is key. You don’t want to be telling prospects one thing on Facebook and a completely other thing within a formal job description. A solid partnership can ensure that both are on the same page. A good relationship with your company’s hiring managers and TA specialists is of particular importance. At different times and for different reasons, it results in your ability to influence them to look at internal talent, talk to them about the talent that is needed for the future, and identify candidates that will grow and stay in the organization. Maintaining these healthy relationships will help tremendously in forecasting the future and optimizing the talent planning process as a whole.

As I mentioned, it’s an exciting time to be in talent acquisition. The opportunities to excel exist, and it’s up to you to be mindful and take advantage.


About the Author: Jody Stolt is the director of Talent Acquisition at Paychex, a leading provider of payroll, human resource, and benefits outsourcing services for small- to medium-sized businesses. Since joining Paychex four years ago, Jody upgraded the applicant tracking system to Paychex’ own MyStaffingPro™ to streamline processes, enhance the candidate experience, and increase recruiter efficiency in supporting nearly 4,000 hires and 22,000 applicants annually. Jody’s career spans over 25 years in recruiting, workforce planning, and strategic human resources at companies including PAETEC/Windstream Communications, Skillsoft, and ER Associates, a private HR consulting firm.

The Challenge of the Future Workforce #EWS2015

Posted on August 26th, by Jennifer Payne in Business and Workplace. 4 comments

Editor’s Note: Women of HR has partnered with Spherion on a series of sponsored posts to bring you highlights and commentary from their 2015 Emerging Workforce Study, which contains a great deal of interesting data and statistics about future trends in the workforce and our workplaces.  This is the second in that series.  Watch for more over the coming months.


Any HR professional who has been around for any amount of time or has paid any attention at all knows that we are dealing with workforces that now span many generations.  There’s no lack of research, presentations, or opinions on the challenges that multi-generational workforces pose to employers.  I work for a retail organization so I see it firsthand; there’s probably no other industry where it’s more common to have multiple generations working under the same roof, side by side.  I don’t believe that generations alone are to blame or are the reason for the differences in workers; I believe even some of the issues that are attributed to generational differences actually cross over.  But no doubt multi-generational workforces do attribute to varying degrees of technological adaptation, disparate expectations regarding how and where work should and could be done, and different viewpoints on the nature of work and the employee/employer relationship.


But beyond those generational differences in the approach to work, one of the biggest issues we need to stay on top of as employers is how the different generations in the workforce, and more importantly the changing makeup of generations in the workforce, is going to impact how we recruit, manage, develop, and retain our workforces going forward.


Generally, I think most of us understand that, at least according to these statistics from the 2015 Emerging Workforce Study:

  • 70% of employers say that Baby Boomers exiting the workforce will leave a major skills gap within their organizations
  • One-third of employers are concerned about turnover and retention (up from 23% last year)
  • 63% of employers have increased succession planning and efforts to address impeding Boomer retirement
  • 58% are already preparing to attract and recruit Gen Z to stay ahead of future talent needs.


That’s the good news; as employers generally we do recognize that there’s an impending issue ahead, and many of us are taking steps to address it.  So what’s the bad news?


The bad news is in the generations we’re counting on to step up to fill the gap, namely Gen Y and Gen Z.  You see, the study also cites that Gen Y and Gen Z are the least loyal generations, most likely to leave current employers, and that job satisfaction and engagement among these groups is low.  So these groups we’re focusing our recruiting, development, succession planning, and retention efforts on are quite possibly not as happy, engaged, or loyal as we need them to be to ensure our future success.


What’s an HR Leader To Do?

Perhaps we’re never again going to see the long term loyalty and blind devotion to one company that existed in years and generations past.  But that doesn’t mean there aren’t thing we can do as employers to prolong the tenures of our younger employees, incentivizing them to stick around maybe a little longer that they otherwise might have, and ensuring that they are engaged and productive members of the team while they are there.  Here’s a few ideas:

  • It’s not enough to have succession plans in place. Ensure that high potentials KNOW they are high potentials and exactly what they need to do to get to the next level.  Provide the development opportunities to help them get there.
  • Be mindful of your online reputation. This is important to Gen Y and Gen Z.  If you don’t have someone not only monitoring what’s being said about you online, but also proactively engaging with the online community and promoting your employment brand and offering, designate someone to start doing so.  Not only does this help with retention and engagement of current employees, it’ll help with your recruiting efforts as well.
  • Ensure that not only are you communicating a solid employment brand, but that your culture matches what you’re preaching. There’s no surer way to lose new hires than to immerse them in a culture that’s not aligned with what you promised.


It’s going to continue to be a battle out there, and those employers who are aware, who are proactive, and who execute what they promise will be the ones to rise to the top.


Disclosure: Spherion partnered with bloggers such as me for their Emerging Workforce Study program. As part of this program, I received compensation for my time. They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about any idea mentioned in these posts. Spherion believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Spherion’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.


About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent acquisition and development in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.

Are We On The Same Page? Critical Skills For The Future Workplace #EWS2015

Posted on July 28th, by Jennifer Payne in Business and Workplace. No Comments

Editor’s Note: Women of HR has partnered with Spherion on a series of sponsored posts to bring you highlights and commentary from their 2015 Emerging Workforce Study.  This is the first of the series that will be presented throughout the next several months.


As HR professionals, we know (or at least should recognize) that the nature of work is changing.  Not only are the skills that we are going to need our employees to have for our businesses to continue to be competitive going to change, but there’s also a shift happening in employees’ expectations of what they not only want, but what they expect out of the relationship with their employer.  As these perspectives, attitudes, and expectations of the workforce continues to evolve, it’s going to become increasingly important for employers to stay in tune with these shifts and strive for a better understanding of their workforces to help ensure continued success.

Spherion’s Emerging Workforce Study contains a great deal of interesting data and statistics regarding not only this, but other future trends as well.  According to the study, it’s skills such as problem-solving, strategic thinking, team building, the ability to understand and interpret data, and evolving technology expertise that employers believe are going to be most important going forward.  Generally speaking, our workforces tend to agree.  However, let’s put this in the context of the following points:

  • 33% of workers agree or strongly agree that their current job skills fall short of what will be required in future positions
  • Only 31% agree/strongly agree that they feel like their current employer has trained them adequately enough to keep their skills up
  • 35% agree/strongly agree that they worry a lot about falling behind in acquiring new skills that will be needed in the future

I find this a little alarming.  Employers feel that the skills they need from their workers are changing.  Employees tend to agree.  However, many workers feel like the skills they have now are not adequate for what they will need in the future, many of them also admitting that they actually worry a lot about falling behind, and only 31% feel like their employers are doing enough to help them prepare for and hone the skills they’ll need in the future.  Sure sounds like as employers we’re not pulling our weight, doesn’t it?

But wait, it gets worse than that.  Check out these stats:

  • Only 24% of employers think it’s very/extremely challenging in terms of cost to keep workers trained for future skill needs/requirements, and 26% say the same for keeping up with evolving training demands to keep workers’ skills up-to-date.

Let’s summarize….

Employers agree that required skills are changing.  Workers agree, but don’t feel like they are in a very good position to hone these skills, and that their employers are not holding up their end of the bargain in preparing them for what’s going to be needed.  Yet employers don’t feel like it’s very much of a burden to help their employees keep their skills up to date.  So what’s the hold up?  Why such a disparity in beliefs and expectations?  Why are our perceptions as employers so out of line with our employees?  What do we, as employers and human resource professionals, need to do to remedy this?


Implications for HR Pros

In light of these findings, here are a few questions I would propose we should be asking ourselves:

  • Have we really taken the time to examine not only the skills necessary for success in various parts of our organizations now, but also how they may change those jobs evolve? Have we factored in the implication of technology and how it could automate and/or make processes more efficient?  And how might that change the requirements of any given job?  What about the impact of data and how analyzing, interpreting, and leveraging it may change how we do business?  How might that not only change the existing jobs in our organizations, but also perhaps create the need for new jobs/responsibilities?
  • Have we clearly communicated to our employees how we see necessary skills sets changing, and reconciled that with how our employees feel they are prepared for those changes? Have we asked the opinions of those who actually do the jobs on a day to day basis how they see their jobs potentially changing?
  • If we don’t feel we have the necessary future skills sets present, what are we doing to remedy that situation? Are we providing ample training & development opportunities, whether they be offered internally or externally?  What processes do we have in place within our HR departments to assess skills?  How do we identify gaps?  Do we utilize tools such as talent review processes, career development planning, or individual development plans?
  • What are we doing as HR professionals to ensure that our own knowledge, skills, and abilities are up-to-date and future-focused?


All questions worth examining more closely, I believe.


Photo Credit


More About the Emerging Workforce Study:

The 2015 version of the study was conducted by Harris Poll, a Nielson company, between March and April 2015, and surveyed more than 2,000 workers and 225 human resource managers on their opinions and attitudes around critical workplace topics such as recruitment, employee engagement, job satisfaction, retention, employee advocacy, social media use, generational differences and work/life balance. Findings from this in-depth research reveal new trends, insights and impacts that are important for U.S. employers and their employees.  The survey offers great statistics and trend information for HR managers and businesses and points to an interesting, growing gap between employers’ and employees’ views, and also includes data that can impact HR strategies to increase engagement, productivity and retention, among other topics important to the employment life cycle and workplace.


Disclosure: Spherion partnered with bloggers such as me for their Emerging Workforce Study program. As part of this program, I received compensation for my time. They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about any idea mentioned in these posts. Spherion believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Spherion’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.



 About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent acquisition and development in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.

Bereavement Leave FAILS When It Comes to Flexibility

Posted on July 14th, by Donna Rogers, SPHR in Business and Workplace, On My Mind. 2 comments

When you’re managing employees and they have a death in the family of someone who has been sick for a while and they have made you aware of the situation, what do you do? Worse yet, what do you do when an employee calls you on their way out of town to tell you that their brother was killed the night before by a hit and run driver?  They continue to tell you the reason they are heading out of town immediately, before any funeral plans are announced, is that their brother’s wife is in critical condition in the hospital.  The oldest daughter of her sister-in-law who is dealing with the loss herself and worrying about the condition of her mother needs help. The employee has no idea when the funeral will be, let alone where her brother’s body is at the moment, and what will come of the criminal case surrounding the hit and run.  What do you do when you take a look at the bereavement leave policy and it says “up to 3 or 5 days,” depending on location of the funeral and how close the deceased is to the employee?


Well this very thing happened to me, but luckily I didn’t really have a boss to report to other than cancelling one of the classes I was scheduled to teach and holding it online instead of in person. Thankfully, I had an independent contractor I could lean on for my outstanding consulting projects.  I’m not saying things didn’t get lost in the shuffle because I did miss responding to emails and phone calls for a couple months due to trying to stay caught up with what is current when I finally got back.  Had I been working a job that restricted the amount of time I took off, I am sure in many cases my job would be in jeopardy or gone upon my return.  Since my brother was dead, I would not have had Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to fall back on either.  My sister-in-law doesn’t fall on the covered list of “immediate family members,” plus she had her kids to take care of her.  So the boss would have had their hands tied on what flexibility they could lend to this horrible situation. Even the military exigency leave would not have been applicable, even though my brother did retire with over 20 years of service to the US Air Force.


The long and short of it is that I was actually out of commission, so to speak, for about three weeks.  Out of commission for me is that I physically was not able to be present for a typical bricks and mortar 9-5 job, but I did work while I was away through mobile devices, and was able to keep up with the critical parts of my jobs as instructor and consultant.  The problem is most employees don’t have that flexibility nor do their managers understand the intricate details of what the employee is going through.  That is why I am writing this post because I too would never have understood an employee having to be away for that long without actually having gone through it myself.  Perhaps if managers read this they will have an open mind and open heart to what the employee is going through.  A paradigm shift, if you will.


You see the following had to be done, and was done, with the help of my niece and nephew primarily:

  • Visit sister-in-law to see how she was doing and what I could do to help (repeat daily with updates)
  • Find the body and get permission to have it sent post autopsy to the funeral home
  • Visit the crash site to see how this happened in person and collect personal belongings thrown all around the site due to the vehicle flipping
  • Since the driver had not come forward, have a sign made and erected along the edge of the highway near the crash site asking for information
  • Participate in TV interviews and share them on social media to help get the word out about the vehicle the authorities were looking for based on eye witness accounts of the incident
  • Visit his workplace to get details going regarding final check, insurance, retirement and pick up his personal belongings
  • Research how to obtain a copy of the autopsy needed for the insurance and get his wife’s signature and fax
  • Meet with the funeral home to set up the local funeral, service back home, and burial back home (with many calls and email follow-ups)
  • Pick up his uniform and take to the dry cleaner then to the funeral home
  • Stop by the highway patrol office to get copies of accident reports needed for the insurance so the funeral could be paid for
  • Meet with the district attorney to get permission to obtain his personal belongings from the vehicle at the impound lot
  • Meet with the state trooper at the impound lot to see the vehicle mangled and retrieve all personal belongings
  • Research possibilities for transportation of the body from one state to another to include a military escort from the service to the grave site
  • Keep out-of-town family members up-to-date on progress so they could eventually make flight plans
  • Coordinate pictures and videos to be taken in all three locations for his widow since she was still in the hospital and could not attend
  • Go through his personal belongings at his home and garage to bring meaningful memorabilia to the funeral home for the services
  • Collect pictures from family members representing all 46 of his years to develop a slideshow for the services
  • Pull music that was meaningful to him for the background of the slide show and edit and reedit (multiple times) to work correctly
  • Attend the funeral, transport the body, attend the local service and bury him
  • Return to go through his things with his widow upon her release from the hospital so his garage could be cleaned out and mail sentimental things to his mother, brother and nephew

Now that is certainly all I can remember now four months out so I am sure I have missed some things.  As a manager you must not just see this list as a tactical “to do” list, you have to consider the psychological impact each of these tasks and toll it has on the employee.  For weeks I was go, go, go but a couple days after the burial, it finally hit me.  He was dead! He was never coming back! His killer is still at large! I couldn’t even get out of bed for two days straight.  I had to see a doctor to help me emotionally because it was affecting me physically.  Now how much time do you think all this should take? Three to five days is a joke and is not a one size fit all policy that will work for every employee situation.

Thank you for reading and I hope I make a difference in how you see a similar situation in your employee’s future.


Photo Credit

About the Author: Donna Rogers, SPHR aka @HRWarrior. Donna is a full time Instructor at University of Illinois at Springfield, owner of Rogers HR Consulting and the immediate past Director of the Illinois State Council of SHRM. She has over 20 years in the HR field and currently teaches Human Resources Management, Organizational Behavior, Organizational Development, and Strategic HR Management. She practices what she teaches for almost 100 clients in the central Illinois area.

Are We Ready For the “Future of Work?”  #SHRM15

Posted on July 9th, by Jennifer Payne in Business and Workplace. 1 Comment

It’s been just over a week since the 2015 SHRM Annual Conference wrapped up.  When I attend a conference that’s so large, so overflowing with various ideas, concepts, and best practices, sometimes it takes a few days for me to process what I’ve heard and learned.  One of the sessions I attended that I’ve mulled over for the past week was Lance Richards’ concurrent session on “Work 4.0: The Future of Work.”

There’s no shortage of these types of futurist musings of late, but I always find value in hearing various speakers’ takes on how exactly they see our workplaces changing moving forward.  There were two key concepts that I took away from this particular session.


The Untethered Workplace

As technology becomes more prolific in both our work and personal lives, we’re shifting into a world where work doesn’t necessarily need to be tied to a specific location.  The concept of a “sit, stay” culture no longer resonates with workers who are connected via smartphone 24/7.  Lance Richards cites millennials as apt to sleeping with their phones nearby; the first and last thing they do each day being check work email.  I’m not even convinced that’s unique to that generation any longer.  Regardless, in a world where this is the norm, why do we get so caught up in where and when the work gets done, rather than focusing on whether or not it is?  If I’m handing work emails at 6:00AM or 11:00PM, why should I feel bad if I need to leave the office at 4:00PM?  Furthermore, if we find ourselves in a situation in which we simply can’t afford to lose the talent that we have, why not consider moving the work to them rather than forcing them to come to the work?  If we have the technological capabilities to facilitate this, what’s the hold up?

The implications of this for managers is that it’s going to become essential that they, well….manage their teams more effectively.  As HR pros, are we ensuring that our supervisors and managers have the skills they need to more effectively manage remote workforces?  Do they have the necessary planning & organization, shepherding, and communication skills?  Do they have the ability to rally their teams around collective goals when their teams may not be all in the same place?  Do they have the skills to build effective working relationships when they are not face to face?


 Talent Supply Chain Management

The “War for Talent” is as ubiquitous of a phrase as any in the world of HR and talent; Lance Richards suggested that in reality there is no shortage of people in the world, however people does not equal talent.  The question is how do we convert people into talent?  In a world where 10,000 Boomers per day are retiring, and 6000 people per day are dropping out of high school, how are where do we find, develop, and retain the talent we need?  Richards suggested that HR pros need to become masters of talent supply chain management.  This could include better workplace planning through analytics; building better working relationships with local schools and colleges to help shape curriculum, ensuring that the future workforce has the skills we as employers need; building alumni networks and doing a better job of tracking what our former employees are up to; and learning to leverage “on-demand talent” – as we shift into a reality where more workers will deliver work on a more compartmentalized basis (i.e. performing various jobs for different companies concurrently), we’ll need to become better talent engagers.  We won’t necessarily need to own the talent, as long as we know where to find and engage it when we need it.

And that may require a completely different mindset about how we structure jobs, job responsibilities, and teams.


Some Final Thoughts

Though I do believe we are and will continue to see these types of shifts, and as HR pros we need to not only be aware, but also able to effectively leverage and adapt to these changes, I also struggle with how this plays out in all industries.  What about retail and healthcare, where it’s absolutely necessary to have certain employees onsite at specific times?  What about manufacturing?  When you have teams who are physically building or assembling something, there’s not as much of an opportunity for flexibility there.  

But yet the world continues to change, and people’s expectations about work/life balance/integration and the nature of work continue to change.  Even in these types of industries I believe we need to figure out exactly how we apply some of these concepts.  Maybe it’s not a remote workforce, per se, but are there other ways we can leverage flexibility?  And how do we leverage on-demand talent in these types of industries…. seems like that could be a natural fit in industries such as retail, where labor needs tend to fluctuate with seasons.

Moving forward, no matter what type of industry we work in, as HR pros we will continue to think bigger…about who constitutes our workforces, what they desire out of an employer/employee relationship, and how we sync that up with what our business needs require.


 About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent acquisition and development in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.







What Happens In Vegas, Shouldn’t Stay In Vegas (In This Case…) #SHRM15 Preview

Posted on June 9th, by Jennifer Payne in HR Conferences, SHRM Chapters and Conferences. No Comments

We’re just a few weeks out from the 2015 SHRM Annual Conference, happening this year from June 28th – July 1st in the mecca of all conference meccas, Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada.  Vegas tends to be rather polarizing as far as conference goers are concerned; most either love attending conferences there, or despise it.  I’m personally in the “love it” camp, and am excited to be heading there for some learning, networking, reconnecting, and (of course) some fun on The Strip.

I’m also fortunate that for the third year in a row to be part of the official SHRM15 Blogging and Social Media Team.  That means I have the distinct pleasure of attending as a voice for the conference, helping the spread the word about all of the great conference related happenings, learnings, and general goings on.  I’ll be doing that through a combination of social media coverage and live tweeting of sessions, as well as coverage on this blog.

So what do we have in store for this year’s event, the ultimate annual gathering of HR practitioners and one of the crown jewels of the HR conference circuit?


General Sessions

Each day brings a different keynote speaker, typically big names who are brought in to inspire and motivate us as attendees to look beyond the day to day functions of our jobs and consider larger business and global issues and trends.  They tend to fit into specific categories or types of speakers – usually the celebrity or political figure, CEO type, management/HR pundit (or author), and the motivational speaker (credit to fellow blogger Matthew Stollak for coining the archetypes).  I’m not sure if this year’s fit exactly into those four categories, but it’s close.  We’ll be hearing from legendary NCAA basketball coach of the Duke Blue Devils Mike “Coach K” Krzyzewski, New York Times bestselling author Marcus Buckingham, co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Mika Brzezinski, and celebrity surgeon and TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz.  Reactions to the Dr. Oz choice have been very mixed, and there’s been debate on social media regarding his relevance, so we’ll see where that one goes.  I’ll be highlighting key messages from these speakers throughout the conference.

On a side note, originally slated to speak was Sheryl Sandberg, but after the recent sudden and tragic passing of her husband Dave Goldberg, she was soon after replaced with Mika Brzezinski.  Though I would have loved to have the opportunity to hear her speak, my heart (and I’m sure the hearts of all SHRM15 attendees) goes out to her and the grief she’s enduring.


Concurrent Sessions

SHRM Annual offers over 200 concurrent sessions in six different tracks.  Though I never seem to be able to squeeze in as many as I’d like to attend, I always make a point to catch at least a few.   These sessions are typically where many of the practical tips, tricks, and lessons learned are shared, often by fellow practitioners or former practitioners.   Two sessions of note involve speakers who are affiliated with the blog: Trish McFarlane, one of my co-founders, will be presenting with Steve Boese on “After the Contracts are Signed: Key to Successful HR Technology Implementation.”  And contributing writer Donna Rogers will be teaming up with fellow SHRM15 blogger Dave Ryan to discuss “Running an HR Department of One.”


The Smart Stage

Making its debut last year at SHRM14 in Orlando, the Smart Stage (last year situated just outside of the Expo Hall) offers 15-18 minute TED-like talks given on a variety of topics, and conveniently grouped together in blocks of three to four sessions with breaks for Q&A in between.  I had the opportunity to present on the Smart Stage last year, and feedback in general about the format was very positive.  It was a quick and easy way to catch some very informative presentations on actionable topics; with the short talks grouped together, it’s an efficient way to soak in knowledge on various subjects all in one timeframe, helping you make the most of your time.


Social Events

Conferences as large as SHRM Annual always offer numerous social opportunities, typically sponsored by various vendors.  With this year’s conference location being Las Vegas, with its multitude of bars, restaurants, clubs, and other entertainment venues, I suspect it will be no exception.  Information on such events tends to come out fast as furious in the weeks leading up to the conference, so inevitably we’ll begin to hear more soon.  These events offer the perfect opportunity for additional networking, and a chance to get to know all of your new connections a little better outside the confines of a session room.  I recommend seeking out the ones that sound most appealing to you and checking them out.  And hey, you’ll probably even get a free drink and some appetizers as part of the deal!

So if you’re attending the conference, be sure to engage in all of the opportunities available to you.  If you’re on Twitter, tweet along with the #SHRM15 hashtag and join in the discussion.  Connect with me and my fellow bloggers for in the moment updates.  And if you’re not able to be there, you can still follow along with conference happenings by following the hashtag and checking out updates here and from all of the official SHRM15 bloggers.

See you in Vegas!


About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent acquisition and development in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.

40 Tips to Enhance Your Life

Posted on June 3rd, by Kristin Kaufman in On My Mind, Personal & Professional Effectiveness. No Comments

We are at the mid-point of the year – which for me means a time to reassess and figure out where I am. Am I where I want to be? Am I heading in the right direction? Are we meeting our corporate goals? Am I meeting my personal goals?

As long as I can remember, my father has shared and sent my sister and me newspaper articles, quotations, and otherwise bits of information. This started when we were children; and now, at age 86 (my father) and 53 (me), he still selflessly and conscientiously teaches, shares, and helps me become the best person I can be. So, this month, in honor of Father’s Day, I am sharing one of the most recent gifts my father sent us. It may appear simple and basic; yet, the hard stuff is almost always the ‘simple stuff’.

The source of this list was our church bulletin, and was written by a woman named Lauren English. These are wonderful tips for us to print out – post on our bulletin boards, fridge, or screen savers. I am a believer that by seeing them and reading them – early and often – they seep into our consciousness whether we realize it or not. This particular list is divided into 4 focus areas; the tips that resonated with my stage in life right now, I have highlighted in bold.

My dad (and my mom for that matter) truly do live these suggestions. Sure, they are human and make mistakes like everyone…yet, I can honestly say that they do their best to abide by these suggestions which I believe is why at 86 and 85, they are healthy, happy, in love, successful by all metrics, and truly ‘aligned’ in life and to their Higher Power.


  1. Drink plenty of water.
  2. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a beggar.
  3. Eat more foods that grow on trees, and less food made in plants.
  4. Live with 3 E’s – Energy, Enthusiasm, and Energy.
  5. Make time to pray.
  6. Play more games.
  7. Read more books than you did in 2014.
  8. Sit in silence for 10 minutes (at least) a day.
  9. Sleep 7 hours a day.
  10. Take a 30 minute walk daily and SMILE while you are walking.


  1. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  2. Eliminate negative thoughts and things you cannot control. Stay present in the moment.
  3. Don’t over do. Know your limits.
  4. Don’t take yourself so seriously.
  5. Don’t waste your energy on gossip.
  6. Dream more while you are awake.
  7. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
  8. Forget issues of the past.
  9. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
  10. Make peace with your past so it will not spoil the present.
  11. Smile and laugh more.
  12. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.


  1. Call your family often.
  2. Each day do something good for someone else.
  3. Forgive everyone for everything.
  4. For a learning experience, spend time with someone over the age of 70 and under the age of 8.
  5. Try to make at least 3 people smile each day.
  6. What other people think of you is none of your business.
  7. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Be a good friend.


  1. Do the right thing.
  2. Get rid of anything that is not useful, beautiful, or joyful.
  3. GOD heals everything.
  4. However good or bad a situation is – it will change.
  5. Not matter how you feel – get up, dress up, SHOW UP.
  6. The BEST is yet to come.
  7. When you awake alive in the morning – thank GOD for it!
  8. Be happy each and every day.

Last: Make it a great second half of 2015……we own it! Let’s make the next 6 months the BEST we can!!


Photo Credit

About the Author: Kristin Kaufman is founder of Alignment, Inc.™, formed in 2007 to help individuals, corporations, boards of directors and non-profits find alignment within themselves and their organizations. A prolific writer, Kristin’s first book, Is This Seat Taken? Random Encounters That Change Your Life, was released on 11/1/11 to national acclaim, and endorsed by Stephen Covey and John Maxwell, among others. Her second book in the series, entitled Is This Seat Taken? It’s Never Too Late to Find the Right Seat was released 1/13/15. It has already been endorsed by notables such as Marshall Goldsmith, Sean Covey, and Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines. This book shines the light on late in life reinvention and encore ‘second half’s’ of diverse individuals. The individuals are in some cases widely known and others are somewhat  anonymous to the mass public. The common thread is their ‘post-50’ resurgence in life and in some cases their ‘fork in the road’ is quite serendipitous. Kristin’s third book, a sequel to ‘Is This Seat Taken?’ will follow later in 2015. Kristin is on Twitter as @kristinkaufman.


Posted on May 19th, by Jennifer Payne in Business and Workplace, Leadership, On My Mind. No Comments

I’ve been thinking a lot about legacies lately.

You see, last week I had the opportunity to participate in a unique and amazing experience.  In preparation for and in honor of the impending retirement of long time music teacher and director of the Quaker Marching Band from Orchard Park High School outside of Buffalo, NY, a group of current members and band alumni gathered for a surprise final performance and tribute to our leader of so many years and so many graduating classes.  The group numbered at 175, encompassed 6 states, and spanned the years 1986 – 2015.  I was there, proudly spinning my flag with the color guard, something I hadn’t done in 21 years.  The feeling of being a part of such a salute was overwhelming, his reaction was heartwarming, the video and verbal tributes were touching, and I’d be surprised if there were many dry eyes in the auditorium by the end.  And that group of 175 people who had never performed together before approximately 7PM that night….pretty darn impressive, from my not at all biased opinion.  It was our own version of “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” if you will.


But the theme that kept running through my head the entire evening was that of legacies, and I feel as if it manifested in several ways.

There was first and foremost the legacy that Chris, our band director, leaves behind.  When you can get that many people, from all parts of the country, some of whom hadn’t picked up an instrument, flag, or rifle in decades, to drop everything to be a part of a tribute, you know that person has made a lasting impact.  The number quoted was 700 people who have been a part of the band over the years, and there were many who were devastated that logistically they just couldn’t be there for this final tribute.  Talking to some of the alumni from my era afterwards, we all agreed that being a part of the band was something we would never forget, that was such an important part of our high school years, and the lessons learned still remain with us as adults.  I had the privilege of serving as color guard captain my junior and senior years, and those leadership skills learned are certainly still relevant to me as an adult.  Chris was our leader throughout this critical, wonderful time in our lives, and as such he was always be remembered for it.  Being a part of “QMB” taught us the value of hard work and dedication; resilience and how to bounce back from failure and defeat; and confidence, pride, and that success requires practice, some wrong notes, and more than a few dropped flags.  A true legacy that spans decades, crosses state lines, and likely finds its way into the personal and professional lives of hundreds.

The other aspect of legacy that touched me was a little more personal, and that was having had the opportunity to be a part of something much bigger than myself.  There was a good sized contingent of alumni from my era that took part, but as I looked around as we were gathered in the gym beforehand and read the nametags and graduation years of others there, I realized how many eras this band has spanned.  There were those that came before me, and many, many who came after me.  In the four years that I was a member, I helped to set the stage for the success of those who came after, just as those who came before me set the stage for my success.  Pretty inspiring when you think about how many people have worn that uniform, marched those football fields, and accepted those awards at competitions across the years.  And we all played a part in making the band what it has become today.

If you’ve stayed with me and indulged my walk down memory lane to this point, you may be thinking, “What does this have to do with a human resources blog?”

The truth is, we ALL have the opportunity to create a legacy, no matter what we do or where we work.  We often talk about the legacies that teachers or coaches build, but it’s not unique to those professions.  As leaders and as HR professionals, we have the opportunity to touch our employees’ and coworkers lives every day.  So I ask you, as a leader, as an HR professional:

  • Are you helping to create work environments and cultures that encourage failure on the way to success?
  • Are you creating environments where employees feel a part of something bigger than themselves?
  • Are you personally helping to set the stage within your company for the successes that may come after you are gone, either from your position or from the company itself?
  • Is your culture one that instills the values in your employees that you would want them to keep with them and pass on to others?
  • As you make decisions that affect your employees, do you make them within the framework and mindset of how they might impact their lives?

When your employees, coworkers, executives, and others you work with on a daily basis reflect on your time with the company and your contributions, what kind legacy will they say you left?  I know that I hope mine is even a small fraction of what I felt around me on May 11, 2015.

Band ten HUT!


About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent acquisition and development in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.