Flexibility, Feedback & Fun: Managing Millennials in the Workplace

In March, we blogged about mentorship and the future of work, especially as it relates to the multi-generational workforce today. Check it out here if you’d like a background to this blog: http://peoplescapehr.com/mentorship-future-work/. We’ve talked before about millennials and how they’re changing the face of the workplace, both in diversity and in the implementation of ideas and innovative strategies for competing in today’s ever-changing business world. Now, let’s take a deeper look at Read more

#Election2016: Why Politics Should Matter

#ImWithHer and #LoveTrumpsHate and #MakeAmericaGreatAgain…if you don’t know what these hash tags mean, or who they belong to, you’ve probably been hiding your head in the sand. As a millennial, feminist, mom, and human resources professional, elections are really tricky topics for me to write about. I have conservative parents, Republican relatives who despise Hillary Clinton, and good friends who would seriously consider a permanent move out of the country if Donald Trump is sworn in as the new leader of the free world.

My personal views aside, I think presidential elections should be something we all care about. My oldest child is in fourth grade this year, and is acutely aware of the election, the candidates, and the commentary constantly running through her ears at school, at grandma’s house, and in our own household. There are so many issues built into this election from women’s rights to immigration to the right to bear arms to the continued existence of the glass ceiling in workplaces where equality should no longer have to be an issue. Quite honestly, it’s exhausting and disheartening to see that changes that should have been made decades ago are still on the table for discussion. At the same time, we all want to raise a generation that cares and that wants to vote and that believes they can make a difference. So the best way for us to encourage that is to be involved ourselves and set that example of what it means to be a concerned citizen.

Personal matters and internal struggles aside, the issues facing us in the election this year reach far and wide. Immigration law, tax reform, the economy, and health care reform are all hot button issues that affect the workplace in leaps and bounds. In order to be relevant in our work, we have to be informed on the state of the union. It’s unavoidable, as ugly and contentious as things may get between the candidates on social media and on the debate floor. So it’s time for all of us to pull up our boot straps and buckle up for the ride!

For up to the minute news and stats on this year’s #presidentialelection, you can subscribe to news sites such as: http://www.usnews.com/topics/subjects/2016_presidential_election. But where do we go to find out what’s actually going to happen after we elect one of the most controversial presidents in the history of our nation? No matter which way you slice it, this is going to be a polarizing election, and no one knows exactly what our world looks like with #Hillary or #Trump in office. So what do we do now? As human resources professionals and leaders in your own workplace, here are a few tips on how to survive #Election2016.

  1. Remind employees that company computers and company time are not the place or avenue for political views to be expressed.
  2. Under the National Labor Relations Act, employees are free to speak out about employment issues as long as it is not disruptive and occurs during non-work time in non-work areas.
  3. Give employees time to vote. And make sure you vote on election day!
  4. Foster a company atmosphere of respect and inclusion. Lead from the top down when it comes to setting the tone for office conversation about politics.
  5. Keep the office walls and casual Friday t-shirts free of controversial topics – including politics.
  6. Remember to follow the age-old policy of “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.”
  7. Choose to protect your team, your company vision, and your sanity. Avoid unnecessary divisiveness.

The biggest regret any of us will have is not doing something. Go out and vote. Don’t sit back and let things happen, be part of the solution not another cog in the wheel, a head buried in the sand. To make a difference, we each have to take the steps to get out there and act, regardless of what you believe or who you are voting for. In the words of James Hetfield, front man of the band Metallica, “I’d rather regret doing something than not doing something.” #dosomething #bethechange #vote

Does Your Leadership Have What It Takes?

leadership“Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others.”

John Maxwell


A recent study by SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) discovered that 4 out of 10 leaders feel their team is lacking in some way to provide continuing leadership and success to the organization. Where does that leave these business leaders but in a place of fear for the future of their company? Determining what each team member brings to the table, what his or her competencies are, where they lack skills and knowledge, and setting up a game plan for the future are all key components to building up strong leaders within your company. So how can you put these ideas into practice?


Using competencies to identify the holes and gaps in your talent pool, and determining who is on the path for leadership, will go a long way for success in the company now and in a decade. Competencies can be defined as individual characteristics such as skills, knowledge, self-image, and mindsets that allow people to be successful (or not) in their chosen roles. So what are some of these competencies that we can identify in the business world? What should you be looking for when you start working on a succession plan for the executive team in your organization?


  1. Communication skills
  2. Relationship management
  3. Business acumen
  4. Ethical practice
  5. Leadership


After reading through that list, do you have some key individuals in mind that could shape the future leadership of your organization? What steps do you have in place right now for a succession plan, mentoring program, or cross-training in order to facilitate the growth and development of your future leaders? #leadership #successionplanning #HRblogs


Legal Update: California Fair Pay Act

Surprise! Surprise! California Law makers have passed another piece of legislation that will affect employers in January 2016, leaving us (the employers) little time to react!

Previous to this bill, California law prohibited employers from paying employees of opposite sex that worked in the same establishment less for equal work on jobs requiring equal skill, effort, and responsibility. The new California Fair Pay Act (Senate Bill 358) was signed by the Governor on October 6, 2015. This law prohibits employers from paying employees of opposite sex less for substantially similar work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility and performed under similar working conditions.

So what’s the difference? There are a couple of key items to note, this does away with the employees having to work in the same establishment and the definition of “substantially similar” has yet to be fully defined. There are still a few exceptions under this law where employers may show a wage difference based on: a seniority system, a merit system, a system that measures earning by quantity or quality of production, or a bona fide factor, other than sex, where difference in compensation is job related and consistent with business necessity. Make sure these systems are true practices that are consistently delivered across the business.

Other nuances to consider: This law also states that employers may not prohibit employees from: disclosing their own wages, discussing the wages of others, encouraging another employee to exercise their rights to share their wages, and inquiring about another employee’s wages. In short, employees sharing their wage information and employees who ask about other’s wage information cannot be disciplined.

Thankfully, what the law does not say, is that managers, supervisors, or other members of the company have to answer the inquiry of another employee’s wages! Make sure anyone who may have knowledge of employee wage information is aware of that!

If you worry you may have some disparity in your pay rates, it may be best to do an audit with an HR expert such as Peoplescape or even your labor attorney and discuss what changes can be made to ensure compliance beginning January1st!

Remote Work Pitfalls

“When you work from home, a Tuesday looks pretty much like a Saturday.” – Anonymous

In a recent presentation made by attorney Christine Hanley at SHRM’s annual conference, the dangerous triangle of telecommuting was discussed at length. Hanley argued that the “triangle” formed between the points of remote work, online connectivity and the FLSA regulations, “often seems like a dangerous and mysterious expanse of uncharted territory, full of ominous beings such as the Department of Labor (DOL) and an enthusiastic plaintiff’s bar.” She’s not wrong in arguing that there are definitely dangers ahead for businesses that allow workers non-traditional hours, telecommute options and flex schedules. But it’s not something that you should completely discount because of the extra effort involved in setting up a system that truly works for everyone.

Remote Work Pitfalls to Avoid: Danger Ahead!

  1. Don’t forget to train your managers – employers need to be able to rely on their managers to properly identify the hours and tasks a worker is taking on.
  2. Don’t go blindly into a telecommute option. First, identify the answers to these key questions and move forward (or not) appropriately.
          1. Who is doing what for whom? Exempt or not?
          2. What are they doing? What is the business purpose?
          3. How are they doing the work? Are they connected?
          4. Where are they doing it? Are they doing it remotely?
          5. When are they doing it? Does FLSA play into this?
  3. Do not assume anything – create documentations to outline your agreement, contract, etc. with your telecommute workforce.
  4. Do not take all the responsibility on yourself – hold the employee accountable as well by creating a safe harbor policy.

Is it true that telecommuters all wake up, drink coffee, and wear pajamas all day until they have that 3pm video conference with their boss? Is it true that all telecommuters waste time browsing online when they would NEVER do such a thing in the office? Is it true that a Tuesday looks like a Saturday looks like a Monday looks like a Sunday if you work from home?  As with most things, I’d argue that telecommute work is what you choose to make of it. Someone who is disciplined in the office is most likely going to remain disciplined and driven and self-motivated when working from home. Is it possible that telecommuters can take advantage of their employer’s time and resources? Absolutely. But isn’t that true also of employees that you pay to come into a building that you spend money on, desks that you paid for, electricity that you write a check for each month? Absolutely! Truth be told, what this argument comes down to is whether or not the pro’s outweigh the con’s for your particular company and your specific market. If the pluses outweigh the negatives, then full speed ahead!

Are You at Risk? The Top 10 Reasons Employers May Get Sued This Year!

Earlier this year Cal Chamber came out with a lengthy white paper on the Top Ten Lawsuit Risks of 2015. To save you some time, we’ve got the list here for you, and we promise to keep it brief!
Here are the Top 10 Reasons Employers May Get Sued in 2015:

1. Salary for everyone! Classifying your entire workforce as exempt could put you in some serious hot water with both State and Federal Law! It may make payroll easier and make your employees happy to know they’re getting paid the same amount each pay period, but it’s not that simple. You must consider their job responsibilities, not just title, in classifying employees.

2. Take lunch anytime! It’s nice to be flexible with employees as to when they take their break, but if the employee is non-exempt, California has specific rules about breaks. A 30-minute unpaid, uninterrupted meal break must be provided before the employee enters their fifth hour of work. Penalties for taking breaks too late will result in penalty pay and can add up quite quickly!

3. You’re an Independent Contractor! Sure, making everyone an independent contractor is easier and at times cheaper, but in recent years there have been a number of rulings on worker classifications. Remember a good rule of thumb is control of work: who determines the manner in which work is performed, how the work is done, where the work is performed and the supplier of equipment and tools.

4. No Sexual Harassment Training. This training can be uncomfortable and employees often leave the training feeling like they cannot make a joke about anything. If, however, your business is ever facing a claim of harassment, you will need to prove that your team has received proper training! Remember, in California, if you have over 50 employees, sexual harassment training for supervisors is required every two years. Investing in training supervisors and managers on harassment and other topics may cost a few dollars, but it’s a lot less costly than the fees of defending even one claim and potentially having to pay a settlement.

5. Being overly flexible with work hours. By letting employees work longer, but fewer days, you could put yourself at risk of owing back pay for overtime hours. California does allow for an alternative workweek schedule, but the parameters around it are stringent. If you want to have flexible scheduling, be sure you have a policy around it and ensure it’s compliant with state laws.

6. Terminating Employees who take Leaves of Absence. When taking time off work, employees have a number of protections depending on the reason for the leave. These can include: Workers’ Compensation, Family and Medical leave, Military Leave, Jury Duty, sick time and others. There are also protections against retaliation for taking leave. If it becomes necessary to terminate an employee after a leave, make sure it is for a legitimate reason that is not connected to the leave.

7. Refusing a final check. It’s always important to recover company property, but refusing to give an employee their final paycheck until property is recovered is unlawful. Remember if an employee is terminated or quits and gives more than 72 hours notice, final paychecks for all due compensation must be provided on the last day of work. If you are not given 72 hours notice, then you have 72 hours to get the check prepared.

8. Providing loans to employees and securing repayment through payroll deductions. There are a number of deductions made from employee paychecks under state and federal law, and there are some voluntary deductions that employees can opt into for benefits such as health insurance. No other deductions are permitted. If a loan is made to an employee, you should involve legal counsel in the agreement and repayment can only be scheduled outside of payroll deductions.

9. Using non-compete agreements to protect confidential information. California is pretty cut and dry on this matter, with very few exceptions. It’s important to protect customer lists and pricing information, but this cannot be done through a non-compete agreement. Also, California is very clear about preventing employees from leaving your company and from their ability to work and earn a living.

10. Use it or lose it Vacation Policies. California considers earned vacation/time off as a part of wages for an employee. Accrued time off can be capped within reason, but taking away vacation that is earned, or refusing to pay it at the time of separation, could put your company in hot water, even if you advised employees that this would be the case.

Are you panicking? Did you read one or more of these and think that you may need some expert guidance? Peoplescape is here to guide you through the steps involved in all of these issues! From sexual harassment training to review of employee classifications, we’re here to support you and your business. Contact us anytime. It’s free!

Three Steps to Creating Succession Plans!

Do you have a plan for each member within your organization? Did you know? Less than one-third of organizations have formal succession plans for all but the very top levels, according to research conducted by Bersin by Deloitte and published in November 2014. Sure, those top-level managers are important, but what if you lost someone on your team who wears many hats? Organizations are embracing a flatter structure (reducing the amount of middle management) and with that, the knowledge that could walk out the door when an employee leaves your organization can be significant.

So how do you go about creating succession plans? Well, Tim Gould gives us 3 key pointers for getting the process jumpstarted!

Step one: Identify Key Positions:
These could be employees/roles who handle key accounts, roles that have a high amount of turnover, employees that contribute heavily to company culture, positions that complete critical tasks to the operation, or employees who have a unique skillset that’s critical to the organization. Think about those roles or employees who hold “all the knowledge” about a certain topic. When this person is on vacation, does everything get put on hold until their return? These are those “critical positions” we’re talking about!

Step two: Conduct a Skillset Analysis:
You need to dig deeper than just the job description, but it’s a good starting point. What are the skills and competencies that must be mastered? Do you have anyone in your organization with some or all of these requirements? Consider the external and internal factors that affect this position and how this position is going to be used in the future.

Step Three: Develop the Plan!
It’s time to implement! Once you’re armed with what needs to be learned, it’s time to start putting the plans in action. Select the employees that have the ability to take on additional responsibility and/or have a skillset in line with the needs of critical position. Create development plans for these employees and ensure time is allotted for the training/job shadowing/etc. Once you start building a “deep bench,” consider re-evaluating your company’s recruiting strategies. Do you post jobs internally prior to posting externally? This is a great way to keep those employees that you have invested in engaged!

I won’t pretend this is going to be easy! It’s going to be a lot of work! The benefits will make the work worthwhile! You won’t have to panic if a critical position turns over and employees will feel challenged and engaged. Succession Planning shows employees that you are interested in their growth and development!

Top Trends in HR: Ones to Watch in 2015

Look out, world. Now that we’ve all gotten accustomed to the idea of those pesky millennials infiltrating our workplaces, we have a new crew to look out for! Generation Z is on the rise, applying for and landing internships at companies like Facebook, LinkedIn, and VMWare. Generation Z is those born between 1994 and 2000, which means these companies are looking at high school students for their source of talent. Brand awareness is key for this group, so companies are best served to get their social media marketing and brand in shape when recruiting these teens and young adults to internships at their organization. For smaller companies, this means that you may have a department of just three individuals – one being a baby boomer, another a Millennial, and the third a Generation Z intern. So how do you get them to work together and be productive and efficient with vastly different working styles? Here are a few tips that employers can apply – whether you have 5 employees or 5000.

• MILLENNIALS are moving into leadership roles.
o These young men and women (roughly born between 1980 and the mid 1990s) are now taking leadership roles within the workplace. A whole new crop of workers is coming in to the picture (the Generation Z interns mentioned above), and that means millennials are moving into management positions. Employers need to know how to work with (and sometimes for) these individuals, and understand what makes them tick.
• HONESTY is now a valued concept in the workplace.
o The younger generations demand honesty and transparency – no gimmicks, just cut to the chase.
• THE SKILLS GAP continues to widen.
o As colleges continue to offer degrees in liberal arts, but hands-on job experience outweigh the value of these liberal arts degrees, the skills gap continues to grow. The educational institutions need to get on board with the reality of workplace demands, or the skills gap will continue to widen over the next several years. Although college graduates are coming into the workforce, their education does not line up with the needed skills across many industries.
• Another major trend is the continuing “JOB HOPPER” movement – those fascinating millennials may also have something to do with this growing phenomenon.
o No longer are the days of 30-40 year loyal employees. Job hopping, aka the continual job search, is evident as over 80% of employed people are currently looking for other job opportunities.
• Of course, technology and SOCIAL MEDIA RECRUITING have taken a huge rise and are allowing people to search for jobs with greater ease and availability. SOCIAL MEDIA is also being used by employers to attract talent, as many of the younger generation have technology constantly at their fingertips.
• SUCCESSION PLANNING has become a hot topic as well, as more baby boomers are hitting retirement age.
o Companies may try to retain some of these older employees for an extended time, in order to transfer their knowledge to the younger generation of employees. Succession planning and cross-training are two concepts that are often overlooked in the workplace, because they do not become an issue until an employee leaves the organization. However, it is critical for companies to have some type of succession plan or cross training implemented in order to ensure that there is not an information gap along with the growing trend of skills gaps within the workforce.
• WOMEN are joining millennials in management positions.
o Societal trends such as couples choosing not to have children, more women attending college, and delayed adulthood are all contributing to this trend. Forbes magazine estimates that of the highest succeeding companies (from a financial marker), 37% have women in a leadership role.
• One of the most recognized trends in recent years, which continues to flourish in 2015, is FLEXIBILITY for employees.
o Many employers now offer telecommute options and we’ve also seen an increase in employers hiring temporary workers and independent contractors or consultants. Millennials and Generation Z’ers are also accepting contract roles versus finding a “real job.” Long-term stability and job security are not priorities for these younger workers. Take for instance, Task Rabbit. A website that was previously used for personal assistants, errands, and small tasks is now being used by these young workers for contract positions and project work.
These non-traditional career options are partly the result of heightened technology use and awareness worldwide. Freelancing has become a much more common occurrence, and job seekers consider these options when evaluating their next role. As such, it behooves employers to seriously contemplate implementing these variables in their workplace in order to attract the younger generation of talent that is seeking this flexibility in large numbers. These trends are all indicative of the societal changes we’ve seen across the board, from technology to social media to flexibility in work and in life. It will be interesting to see what 2016 brings to us in the world of HR trends and hot topics.

References: http://www.forbes.com/sites/danschawbel/2014/10/29/the-top-10-workplace-trends-for-2015/2/

Pinpoint: New 2015 Employment Laws

The new year is almost here, and with it will come a slew of new regulations that could affect your business.  Find out what you need to know in this issue of Peoplescape’s Pinpoint.

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Pinpoint: Emotional Intelligence and Job Preference Profiles

Get Peoplescape’s expert advice on gauging your employees’ Emotional Intelligence, and find out why you should be using Job Preference profiles to make sure you’ve got the right person for the job.  You’ll find all this and more in this issue of Pinpoint.

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