Spotlight Series #CAHR16: Becoming a leader in Human Resources or in Business…are they really different things?

 How does one become a business leader after a solid career in HR? We’re not just talking about the HR Manager title, but actually transitioning from being a cog in an HR machine to a true Business Leader. This question comes up often at HR conferences, when senior HR executives reach the top of their discipline, exhaust their interest levels, and begin to seek out a broader scope of influence. Talk at the 2016 HR California conference at Long Beach this month, was no different when it came to how to extend oneself beyond HR and become a broad and impactful organizational leader. As an HR person, one wonders how each of us may use our HR tools to become truly indispensable to the Company – where it counts! Leadership = marshalling the support of others for what we hope to achieve (HBR)

Is it really important though what department we are from in leadership? When it comes to leadership, a successful leader must be in the business of development!

A successful leader has to 1. Develop people and 2. Develop a culture where these people can thrive. Whatever discipline one originates from, whether it be Finance, Marketing, HR or Operations – you must know the golden formula of how to develop people and culture in order to lead, achieve and sustain business success. As an HR person with a black belt in the “people” side of things, perhaps we have a lead on the rest of them.

* When we develop people, we are enabling them with opportunities to grow (whether this leads them onto their next gig elsewhere or not). We are also acknowledging that growth is very unique to each individual experience, and what one person is motivated by, might be something completely different for someone else. Impactful leadership goes hand in hand with 3 key things: First, identifying the individuals to hire whose values gel with the organization. Second, getting to know each individual and what drives them and; lastly, creating an environment where these people can thrive.

* Developing a prospering climate where people will thrive?

Developing oneself as a leader means stepping out of the silo of your discipline… and broadening one’s vision towards the organization’s development and the larger business needs of the company and its culture. For an HR leader, a finance leader, marketing leader or wherever we come from it doesn’t really matter where we were before.

In the very beginning of employment culture, we thought employees were happy when they had a job and even happier with good pay. We then grew to see that it took more than just a job, or more money, but that there is in fact a hierarchy of needs to fulfill, in order for an employee to be really satisfied. At last we realized business success was not only about satisfaction, but more than that, it was about engagement. Engagement = people are committed and care about achieving the organization’s goal(s).

Engagement has been a buzz word for some time. Yet what is it that creates the engagement?

At the HR in California #CAHR16 conference, there was a definitely a buzz … the buzz was all about “belonging”. Belonging you might ask? In the workplace? Belonging = the drive to form and maintain lasting, positive, significant, interpersonal relationships.

And yes! Belonging is being recognized as potentially the most important aspect leading to a long term, sustainably successful culture. Leaders who are able to nurture belonging amongst their teams seem to be those who knock it out of the park, time and time again. Some of the companies who are achieving this are: Apple, Amazon, Crispin Porter & Bogusky, AIrbnb, Uber, Netflix, Hasbro, Soulcycle, GE, RiotGames, and Google to name a few.

“Create a world that inspires human connection” is the tag line at Airbnb. The company CEO, Brian Chesky, leads with the following vision as he spearheads an initiative against discrimination, “Every time we make someone else feel they belong, that person feels accepted and safe to be themselves. Imagine what we can achieve together.”

Pat Wadors, the SVP Global Talent at LinkedIn, discusses how Diversity and Inclusion appeal to the mind, but that belonging is what counts because it appeals to our hearts at a very personal level. She sums up this idea of belonging by saying, “I feel that I belong to a team, I matter, and I’m able to be my whole authentic self, even at work. That is when I have the courage and motivation to speak up, the desire to go beyond my comfort zone. That’s when it’s fun”.

In this modern world where authenticity is valued, where everything is visible and almost everything we do and say is available on Social Media – honesty is all we have. Truly being in the right culture for us is what allows us to be our authentic selves. This makes being real, real easy! To feel a sense of belonging, employees need to feel part of something greater than themselves, with which they can identify. They need to feel that the organizational values are the true values of the leaders…that the storytelling makes sense and …that the leaders walk the talk. In fact, from a psychological perspective, this values alignment is essential for the organization’s employees to form an attachment to the organization. This attachment is what enables connection, trust and authenticity which all lead to this sense of belonging.

From what we have seen, here are a few ways that leaders, can nurture this sense of belonging:

  • Walk the talk” cherish organizational values – hire and promote those who do
  • Welcome newbies by defining the culture even more than the job expectations
  • Foster two-way communications and celebrate contributions and successes
  • Encourage co-ownership to attain buy-in and support from individuals
  • Nurture organization-wide camaraderie – team work across departments
  • Invest in people development – show them you care about their growth as a priority
  • Create space for relationships, ensure people feel they have friends at work, invest by creating spaces and opportunities for socializing at the office.

In conclusion, I don’t think it matters whether we are in HR, marketing, finance, operations or anywhere else. Making an impact on the wider organizational purpose is the defining factor. People are people. Everyone is seeking to be developed, to grow, in a culture that allows them to thrive and feel as if they are part of the DNA, appreciated, acknowledged and needed…because they belong. Making a true impact by shaping this sense of community is what really counts!


Suicide Prevention Awareness in the Workplace

If you are on social media, you’ve seen the hashtags this past week about #WSPD16 and #IKeptLiving in support of World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, 2016. The month of September is Suicide Prevention Month, and many of us have been affected by suicide on a personal level in one way or another. As we join together on Twitter and Instagram and Facebook, Peoplescape would like to be a part of this movement in sharing our stories and promoting health and wellness across the world, including suicide prevention in the workplace. Here, we will point out some tips and tools that you can use in your organization to make sure that your employees are informed, supported, and educated on this tough subject. According to Christopher Munch, creator of the Suicide Prevention App noted below, “Often times when an individual is experiencing a mental health crisis, people within that individual’s immediate support network are ill-prepared to ask the right questions about self-harm and suicide. The Suicide Prevention App (SPA) is a free tool that educates anyone and everyone how to ask the right questions about self-harm and suicide, and respond to the answers to those questions.” We want to equip companies across the globe with the tools to assist their employees as needed, even with these very sensitive issues.

A few organizations and apps will be helpful for you to know. Here’s our top seven:


  • Wellness Works
    2. Wellness Works is a workplace mental health training program of MHAC, which is a leading edge program that utilizes award-winning curriculum to reduce the stigma and discrimination while increasing effectiveness of workplaces to respond supportively when employees are struggling with mental health issues.
  • Mental Health Association in California (MHAC)
    2. With locations across the state, including Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Diego, MHAC seeks through advocacy and education to ensure that people of all ages, sexual orientation, gender, ethnicity, etc. who require mental health services are able to live full and productive lives, receive the services they need, and are not denied benefits, services, rights, or opportunities because of their need for mental health services.
  • International Association for Suicide Prevention
    2. Supported by the World Health Organization to provide resources for those in need of services or those wanting to promote #WSPD16 and #IKeptLiving on social media with banners and images
  • SuicidePreventionApp
    2. This is a FREE app, and provides a step-by-step assessment that an HR professional (or management team) could use in the workplace when discussing a situation with an employee, complete with a report at the end to advise on the next steps.
    3. Operating under the theory quote, “What if anyone could assess for suicide, how many lives would be saved?”
    4. This video gives some content to how to go about engaging someone you suspect may be experiencing thoughts of suicide.
  • To Write Love on Her Arms
    2. #IKeptLiving is a campaign that has been promoted and shared by To Write Love on Her Arms. TWLOHA is a well-known social action and mental health support group for millennials. They host concerts and tour colleges and venues across the nation to spread the word and share their story of hope and survival.
  • Crisis Text Line
    2. TWLOHA has partnered with Crisis Text Line to offer FREE, 24/7 support for those in crisis. Simply text “TWLOHA” to 741-741. Spread the word!


Of course, these resources do no good at all if they aren’t put into practice. As human resources professionals, we have seen a trend of businesses holding their own customized training that addresses workplace safety involving mental illness. Leaders in this field, such as Donna Hardaker from MHAC, have a great personal interest in promoting suicide prevention awareness and developing and sharing the tools for employers to be prepared and to respond to tragedy and disasters with care and proper procedures. Donna says that employers can build and maintain socially supportive workplaces. “We know that when employees have a sense that someone cares about them at work, their mental health is protected. Social support also serves to protect people who are thinking of suicide. Believing that they are cared about at work makes a difference.”

Peoplescape is proud to partner with these top-notch professionals to promote health, wellness, safety, and security to our clients and companies around the globe. #wellness #health #safety #security #mentalhealth #IKeptLiving #firstaid #training





Spotlight Series #CAHR16: A Closer Look at the “Extras” That Make HR Work in the Workplace

By Tamara Jahelka

In attending the #PIHRA #CAHR16 Conference in August at the Long Beach Convention Center, our senior consultants noticed several trends throughout the event. We asked ourselves questions such as: How do we integrate succession planning into our daily recruiting, training and coaching? How do we prepare for changes in economy, resource availability and technology? How can we leverage HR trends and technology to improve the overall organization? These are not fundamental human resource issues but they are strategic approaches and progressive movements in the art of human resources. Human resources needs to continue to make strides to be a contributor to the bottom line and health of the organization.

The first major trend is a focus on talent – acquisition, retention, and succession planning. These are all critical components to the health of an organization. Attracting talent may require continual transformation, as candidates are not looking in the “usual” places for work. Not sure where to find your stars? Peoplescape can support you in this effort! Retaining those star employees is the next step in ensuring your organization remains competitive in your industry. Considering the multi-generational workplace, education, continuing training, cross-training and succession planning are all very important to the productivity and engagement of you team of employees. Having a strong plan for training your employees and sharing knowledge from experienced to novice workers, cross-training with employees of different expertise and unique backgrounds within the same department is a great way to let your employees know that the organization cares about developing their skills, and are concerned about the stability moving forward.

Another trend that we see is a focus on wellness as a critical part of benefits. Wellness programs at work include access to services for mental health, fitness, (including yoga), healthy vending machines and food selections, discounts on wellness suppliers from massage, gyms, nutritional coaching, and sometimes gyms on site. Many progressive employers the likes of Google is setting the bar in these areas. Supporting employee overall well-being rather than simply providing medical benefit options is a way to improve attendance, productivity and employee satisfaction. Peoplescape’s team would value the opportunity to assist in developing the right type of wellness program to support your corporate culture.

The final trend we want to point out here is the use of technology. Technology in the workplace has been on the agenda at conferences for the past decade or more. It is still necessary to consider not only selecting technology that supports your needs, but utilizing it in the day-to-day functions of your department and company.

You can check out some of our earlier blogs here at for details on how to make the BYOD policy work (or not) for your organization, the tough issues of tackling social media in the workplace, and other ins and outs of how technology can work for and against you as an employer. Stay on top of the technology trends and allow your employees to participate in the discussion of what tools are working for their specific department. This is the best way to engage your employees and to make sure that the money you spend on technology is being used in the most profitable and productive way for the organization as a whole.

Peoplescape’s Take on Talent Management Trends from California HR Conference


When Human Resource professionals gathered in Long Beach for the PIHRA California HR Conference on August 30th, discussions — both formal and informal — focused on emerging and future trends that significantly impact employers and their HR leaders and managers. One of the strongest trends discussed this year concerned the demographic shifts and the skill gap for key talent.  Belinda Morris, Principal at Peoplescape, comments on this trend.

Q Shari. What was the conference “take-away” from the Peoplescape team in attendance with regard to Talent Acquisition?

A Belinda. A tighter labor market and greater competition for quality employees resonates with our clientele, especially in Los Angeles. We have certainly seen increased interest from companies for retained recruitment assistance. They are turning to an outside consultant to find that special person faster and to screen potential candidates at a more stringent level using our trained techniques and assessment tools. Untrained interviewers, using gut feel selection methods are just not cutting it these days and it shows – the costs outweigh the ‘apparent’ benefits.

Q Shari. Many of the speakers used the word “urgency” in describing the companies they encounter that are stalemated from achieving a vital goal without that key executive in place. Are companies doing enough proactively to develop key employees with potential already working in their companies?

A Belinda. What we have seen in the past is that career development and employee “soft-skill” training was often placed on the back burner while more pressing needs were handled. The conversation at the conference indicates a shift toward making this a higher priority. The dialogue revolved around a culture of investment in people and creation of a sense of belonging, in order for them to stay. Companies are less willing to invest dollars in career development if they feel that employees will participate only to leap to their next career step somewhere else. Employees often tell HR that their workloads and schedules don’t really allow enough time to engage in cross-training or leadership training so there may be a disconnect as to the training subject matter. The take-away for our team at the conference is that engagement surveys are one solution that can align these competing interests to achieve more effective outcomes when employee development initiatives are undertaken. These discussions kept reminding me of Richard Branson’s quote “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.

Q Shari. Speaker Vlad Vaiman, of Cal Lutheran, reported in his Global Talent Management presentation that in 2014, for the first time, workers over 40 years of age exceeded workers under 40. Further with the 55+ age group increasing to 25% of the workforce, and in about 5 years’ millennials filling almost the other 75%, this demographic shift can result for many companies in a clash of culture and styles. What do you see from clients in terms of issues that arise directly from this broader dynamic and what practical steps can they take knowing the intergenerational nature of workforces is with us to stay?

A Belinda. Managing intergenerational employees is a mega-trend for HR across all businesses and heavily talked about at business conferences. Diverse and multi-generational is the NEW workforce paradigm. The impact shows up in a variety of “clashes and disconnects” and at Peoplescape we receive many calls requesting behind-the-scenes advice on ways to improve these dynamics. The Workforce Emerging Workforce Study 2015 Spherion was mentioned repeatedly at the Conference and brings attention to the need for companies to become more inclusive and creative in bringing out the best, distilling the value from each generation, in order to stay competitive or, better yet, to become an Employer of Choice.

Q Shari. As HR consultants, you stay on top of tools, resources and professional concerns that are voiced at regional conferences like the California HR Conference. What might your team focus differently on going forward to better address the most important people issues small to mid-size employers are reporting?

A Belinda. Our team is always looking for cutting edge tools that support HR so we spent time at the Expo to discuss with vendors their latest products to enhance and improve Human Resource management. If we are the experts, we have to have our ear to the ground on best sources and be ready to access them to elevate our clients and the projects we implement for them, to the next level.


Spotlight Series #CAHR16: Tackling the “Tough” Issues in HR

“When you step outside of your comfort zone, you are stepping into your greatness.”

How true has it been in your experience that if you push yourself one step further, nudge one toe outside the box of comfort and safety that you’ve created yourself, that you see big things happening? Stretching just a little further away from your routine can often lead to new challenges but also can result in huge success, conquering of obstacles, making moves, and doing big things! Stepping outside of your comfort zone allows you to take on new challenges, confront those tough or awkward situations, and tackle tasks that you never thought you’d be able to face let alone handle with ease.

In attending the annual HR Conference put on by our friends @PIHRA (Professional in Human Resources Association) last week at the Long Beach Convention Center in Southern California, our team at Peoplescape was able to learn new strategies for impacting our client’s businesses in positive ways, and also to embrace the tough workplace issues that I’ll discuss here. We know some of these are hot topics throughout your work place, and many of them are sensitive and have the potential to create chaos and unrest for some individuals. Hold on tight, we have several bumpy roads to navigate! Buckle up.

Transgender Employees: Identification of employees as male or female, and the details that surround this gender identification are becoming more prominent in workplace litigation as we enter the last quarter of 2016. The case of Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby (June 2014) set a precedence for the court to back up an employer’s claim that within a closely-held corporation, the religious belief exemption can dictate certain things such as contraceptive options for medical benefits.

Another big piece in this puzzle was seen in the case of Obergefell vs. Hodges (June 2015), which upheld the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment and stated that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples as well as heterosexual couples.

State legislation was quick to react to both of these cases, resulting in 100+ bills across 22 states with new legislation on use of restrooms for transgender individuals, marriage-related religious exemption laws, and much more.

As discussed in our conference session on this heavy topic, in many cases, the HR representative within your organization may not have a personal issue with any of these issues and may, in fact, be incredibly open-minded and forward-thinking. However, the boss (who may or may not be from an older generation and have more conservative views based on the era he or she grew up or religious convictions or personal moral beliefs) could be the potential problem in these scenarios. Our moral and religious beliefs are very important to us as individuals, because who we are at the core is often shaped by our beliefs, upbringing, family and cultural influences. But, it is our job as HR professionals and business leaders to uphold the law, protect the employees in our organizations, and to make sure that discrimination and bias are as marginal as humanly possible.

Same-Sex Couples: When it comes to same-sex couples, the most common concerns from an HR standpoint within the workplace are medical benefit coverage and social work events in which guests accompany your employees. According to, “As long as a couple is married in a jurisdiction with legal authority to authorize the marriage, an insurance company can’t discriminate against them when offering coverage. This means that it must offer to samesex spouses the same coverage it offers to opposite-sex spouses.” Of course, we again encounter the scenario of whether or not the boss (or the person signing your paycheck) agrees with this legislation. Once again, it is our job as HR and business leaders to explain the law to our executive management team, and to assure them that while their religious beliefs are valid, they must abide by the federal and state law on these delicate topics. In severe cases, sensitivity training might be a good option for your organization’s leadership team to tackle these issues with factual information and to walk away with a solid grasp on the legal ramifications of non-compliance.

The same goes for corporate events in which you allow employees to bring guests. It is not anyone’s business if Joe in the sales department brought his brother, best friend, or fiancé who happens to be male to the dinner. If you as the employer allow guests, then you must be open to the variety of relationships that may walk into that event. And you must treat everyone with the same respect, as well as encourage that of all of your employees and guests. Pretty hefty responsibility, right?

Social Media in the Workplace: With the onset of “Bring Your Own Device” policies that we discussed on our blog last month, social media in the workplace continues to be a hot button issue for many employers. Keeping the lines clearly drawn between what is and is not allowed in the workplace, if personal devices are allowed to be on and visible during work hours, and many other nuances pertaining to this matter, is critical in maintaining accountability companywide. In the case of Holmes v. Petrovich Development Company, which was decided in the California Court of Appeals in 2011, the court ruled that an employee does not have a right to privacy on company-owned devices (even if he or she takes that device home at the end of the day). In this case, the employee’s emails were sent to and from her personal email on a company device, and those emails were deemed company property and not protected by privacy laws. Unfortunately for the employee in this case, those emails were full of details about how she was planning to sue the company. Eek!

The bottom line with social media is to maintain detailed and strict company policies on your devices (company property is not protected by privacy laws), and to review and update those policies regularly. Your technology use policy should also be clear on what personal devices are allowed in the workplace, whether utilizing social media during work hours is permissible, and what guidelines are in place to ensure productivity instead of handing out cash for employees to be on IG, Facebook and Twitter, all under the guise of a normal “work” day.

In closing, although these topics can often be tough to tackle, there is hope! At Peoplescape, we can assist in developing strategies that work specifically for your workplace, and help you to adopt policies and procedures in keeping with your business culture, your sales and marketing strategy, and in compliance with the law. For more on how to revise your company’s policies and guidelines, or to find out about corporate training, please follow us on Twitter @PeoplescapeHC or LinkedIn, “like” us on Facebook, or send us an email today. #HRConsultants #workplace #HRBlog #policies


Labor Law Update: What Do You Need to Know?

• Federal minimum wage is set to $10.00 per hour as of January 1, 2016 (the last phase for a wage increase passed in 2013)
• Mandatory paid sick leave under the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act was put into place in July 2015, with amendments passed to clarify:
o Who is a covered worker?
o Alternative accrual methods (aside from one hour for every 30 hours worked)
o Grandfather clause
o Alternative methods for paying employees who use PSL
• School Activities Leave protected under SB 579 gives employees the ability to take protected time off work for school activities (25 employees or more)
• National Guard Leave was expanded for protection under California’s military leave protections
• Unemployment insurance reports to the EDD are now electronically submitted according to AB 1245 (effective for employers with 10+ employees as of January 1, 2017 and all employees as of January 1, 2018)
• State disability insurance waiting periods for second claims are extended under SB 667 effective July 1, 2016.
• The Fair Pay Act (SB 358) revises Labor Code dealing with gender pay inequality and defining the law more clearly to cover equal pay for equal work eliminating language of “within the same establishment” and creating a private right of action for retaliation and discrimination.
• Retaliation clauses were tightened up in regards to whistleblowing and reasonable accommodation (AB 1509 and AB 987).
• Professional cheerleaders are to be classified as employees (not independent contractors) under AB 202 in California. Go team!
• Several bills make changes to worker’s compensation law in California from benefits for ALL employees (regardless of immigration status or citizenship) to allowing Contractor’s State License Board to investigate and enforce the obligation of all licensees to secure valid and current worker’s compensation insurance.
• AB 1422 requires ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft to participate in the state DMV “pull notice program.”