Monday, September 1, 2014

Is the Salary Really Greener on the Other Side of the Fence?

The right and wrong reasons to go from non-exempt to exempt

As a department head and an HR professional, one of the most frustrating, yet all too common questions I’ve gotten from managers is the casual request to switch one of their employees from hourly (non-exempt) to salaried (exempt).

Although often used interchangeably, “salaried” and “exempt” are not the same thing, just as “hourly” and “non-exempt” are not the same. For the purposes of this example, the terms will be used to convey the common concepts – a more detailed clarification appears at the end of the article.

Now, many managers (even many reading this) don’t understand why that simple request could lead to a frustrating exchange with human resources (“… isn’t there just a form or something? …a payroll switch to click?) Of course, management pros know exactly where this dialogue is headed.

Imagine the conversation goes something like this…
Team Supervisor: Hey, you got a minute?
Human Resources: Sure, have a seat.
TS: (remaining standing) I just wanted to put in for Diane to go from hourly to salary. What do I need to do to make that happen?
HR: Oh ... are you promoting her to that floor manager job?
TS: No, no. We’re actually putting that on hold. I just want to make her salaried.
HR: Oh, so she’s taken on more responsibilities? Tell me about her new scope of work…
TS: No, no, no. Same job, I just want to change her classification.
HR: I don’t understand. If you didn’t change her job and you didn’t change her scope of work or responsibilities, what’s prompting the need to change her pay classification?
TS: Well, I’m just tired of trying to work around the over-time thing. Our department is really busy right now but if I let her work over-time, we go over budget. If I make her go home, we get behind. She’s willing to put in the extra hours, I just can’t afford the extra pay. So if we make her salaried – problem solved, right?
HR: Well...

Friday, August 1, 2014

Plagued by "They" and "Everyone"

The Exponential Growth of Gossip
I recently watched an old program I had recorded years ago and got a good chuckle out of these 2009 Chevy commercials with Howie Long that I have a love-hate appreciation for. If you don’t remember these “They” and “Everyone” parodies, do play they to refresh your memory (they're at least worth the laugh).


I love these (and hate them) because they are so representative of society at large and the contagious nature of misinformation … especially bad or negative misinformation. The average workplace is all too often plagued by this “They” and “Everyone” virus.

One person will have a problem with a new policy or idea that management puts out (something that 95% of the staff are happy with or at least neutral about) and somehow this one person’s water-cooler complaining turns into a panicked manager sitting in the boss’s office bringing forward “concerns” that “everyone” is upset about this new change and “they” are all complaining about it.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Confidentiality in the Workplace

Avoiding liability before, during, and after employment
The topic of confidentiality is always one of great interest, controversy and confusion.  In 2007, I wrote a three-part series on Workplace Confidentiality for Parks & Recreation but recent court decisions are worthy of renewed attention.

The cliché “loose lips sink ships” is a bit ironic, if you think about it. The overstatement aside, equating the legal disaster of breaching a confidentiality with the human disaster of the Titanic, it was actually the failure to disclose information that led to the sinking of the Titanic. Just as ironic, there are also workplace situations where not disclosing a (perceived) confidentiality could also create a legal liability.

Knowing what you can’t disclose, can disclose, and must disclose is important for every manager. In the last 15 years, an increasing number of high courts are affirming that importance through their judgments against organizations and individual managers for disclosure-related employment violations.

Wait – back up – did you say individual managers are being sued?

YES! A disgruntled employee may initially go after the company, but if the company can demonstrate clear and well communicated policies specifying the manager’s responsibilities to maintain confidentialities, yet the manager disregarded them, the attorney will turn their attentions to the individual manager. Most companies do have EPLI (liability) policies, but they won’t extend protections to a non-executive named in a suit – the named manager (and their assets) are hung out to dry. You may be in the right, but you don’t have to be wrong to be sued. Even if you win, you lose if it cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend yourself.

Rather than alarming you, let’s focus on arming you with strong management practices that will keep you from sinking in to the treacherous cold waters of liability.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Wait! Stop! Don't Go! (Unabridged)

Identifying the right strategies to hold on to the right employees for the right reasons 
W W W . N R P A . O R G    |    J U N E   2 0 1 4    |    Parks & Recreation
For nearly a decade in the early part of my career I worked for a prominent executive recruiting/ consulting firm. During my first week on the job, I remember the Director explaining the firm’s clientele standards by saying, “if they’ve had more than three jobs in twenty years, just file their resume in the trash.” He was of the Baby Boomer generation so he viewed longevity as a badge of honor if not its own measure of career success.

Retention Evolution
Fast forward a few decades - Forbes publishes an article in 2012 declaring that Job Hopping is the New Normal and the entire definition and expectations of employee retention has been upended. By a Millennial’s assessment, a resume with only three jobs in twenty years probably wouldn’t signify dedication, depth and perseverance but rather a deficit of skill, will or creativity.

In 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average job-stay had devolved to 4.4 years. Just two years later, current reports suggest that the tenure of the teens and young adults entering the workforce today will actually be about half that. That could amount to more than twenty employers in a single career! Organizations still trying to measure their workforce successes by Boomer retention standards will need to brace themselves for frequent frustration if not disappointment and defeat.