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You have a lot of freedom. You’re… you’re choosing what to work on, what to prioritize.
So many times, small, medium, and large businesses don’t realize they need HR until something goes wrong.
Welcome to The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast, where we help HR and business leaders embrace joy in the workplace. I’m Susan White, owner of Susan Tinder White Consulting, an HR consulting practice. Joining me is my co-host and dear friend JoDee Curtis, owner of Purple Ink and Powered by Purple Ink, a professional network that I am part of. JoDee, as we’re recording today’s episode, it’s been over six years since we launched The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast on January 17, 2017. Can you believe it?
No, I can’t. It seems like it’s gone by so fast. But we’ve had a blast, every single recording.
It’s been so fun. For me, I feel like we have really great conversations about things that interest me, and we talk to experts from all over the world, and I learn something every single time.
We’ve had over 55,000 downloads as of today, with our 160 episodes. I really want to take a moment just thank our listeners. Over the six years, we’ve learned from so many of you, the questions that you’ve given us, the suggested topics or ones that we’ve run with, it’s just really been terrific interaction, and we just hope it you know, stays. We just hope that it continues. So please keep making us better and keep sharing with us.
Yes, thank you to all of our listeners.
Well, today’s topic is starting an HR function. JoDee, do you have experience actually standing up an HR department either from within a company or as part of your consulting practice?
Yes, a little bit of both. I technically… like, I never worked for a startup, but I’ve worked a couple of different places where basically someone was getting them set up on payroll, very minimal onboarding, and very few documents or guides. It was… it was pretty close to starting up an HR department. And then it’s similar, too, with all of our clients – or not all of our clients – with some of our clients, we’ve done the same where maybe we’ve been an outsourced HR and then transition that to them internally, or help to build a department with more structure, or maybe, like, the receptionist was doing, you know…
…what they thought was HR, and…. So, little bit. Yes.
Well, I find the topic fascinating, because I’ve never really had that experience. I do sometimes now in my consulting practice have people ask me, “Hey, do you think we should start our own HR function rather than relying on outsourced? How do we get started?” and that’s why I really was interested in exploring this more today. I just recently studied and earned my SHRM Department of One Specialty credential, which I think really gave me even a deeper appreciation of the uniqueness of being the one and only HR professional in a company and the thought of trying to stand up a function. I thought maybe this topic could… could be important to a lot of our listeners who might have this same dilemma in front of them. You know, I think you… when you’re an HR department of one, you have to be a jack of all trades and be good at pulling in outside resources as needed.
There is a really good blog that I found on careeraddict.com by Shalie Reich dated May 16, 2022, entitled, “Building an HR Department: A Step-by-Step Guide.” I thought it was a terrific resource, and I picked out some of Shalie’s recommendations that I thought would be good for us to talk about. So why don’t I start with the first one that I liked? She said you really have to start with the company culture. And that makes sense to me, because we know that every organization has a culture, but I think if you’re the person standing up HR, you need to really dig in and understand what it is today. How does that relate to what we as a company want it to be? So what do we aspire it to be? And then I think you have to really talk about it, get people engaged in it, and say, okay, as a company, what do we want people to think of us as, and how do we get ourselves there? So I think it’s a wonderful place to start. And that’s going to probably drive some of your talent acquisition strategy, some of your employee retention efforts, understanding the culture and what the behaviors are that are expected, the values that people share, and how to really make this place kind of the organization we want it to be.
Right. Sure. Number two is define the company’s why. Which I think is so important, even if, you know, you’ve come into an organization that has been around for a while, the why of the company might be lost, or it just also might not be, as I said, clearly defined or laid out well in a in a way that you can articulate that to other people, or articulate it through onboarding or through recruiting or through current employees as well. HR is the face of the company’s vision, so the goals we set for ourselves need to be in alignment with the purpose and strategic objectives of the organization. I think that’s really powerful.
I do, too. Alright, so number three is establish a mission plan. And some thoughts that we’ve got around this, I think this is where you need to stop and figure out where you are. Talk to the leadership team, talk to people managers, talk to staff. What are their hopes and concerns for HR, and what can you do to start to think about how do I meet their needs? You need to gain an understanding of how the hiring and development, performance management, benefits, and compensation has worked before there was an official HR department. What did they like about it? What they did not… did they not like about it? Were we compliant? Were we not compliant? You know, where are the pain points? Because they have… if they had a company up and running, it’s been running without HR, and maybe a bunch of people have been doing it. But where have the holes surfaced? You then need to really take time to reflect on what are the things that you yourself should do as that first HR person, and what are the things that you really want to rely on outside vendors to help support you through? Think about who those vendors could be, or should be – the partners that you need. Maybe there’s some that already exist, maybe the company already has a benefit broker or legal counsel or a temp agency they rely on or an external payroll firm. What’s working with those partners? What’s not working? Maybe it’s time for you to think about doing RFPs to take a look at… Do we have the best and brightest working with us at the price that we can afford, or do we need to reevaluate any of those? Good time to think about if the organization has an HRIS system already, or if not, is there one we need to bring in to stand up our ATS system, the applicant tracking system, maybe the onboarding that occurs. Is there ways that we can automate things? I really need to make sure with our finance partner, if they have a system, maybe an ERP that has some functionality that would work very nicely with an HR system, is it time now to try to marry those types of platforms? And then there’s so many things here, as you’re trying to establish your go forward, it’s time to think about of all the priorities that I’ve now kind of laid out based on all the talking to people I’ve done in the organization. What are the top five or six that I really want to focus on in year one? What are the five or six I want to focus on in year two, and then year three? You can’t do everything at first. What are the ones that will have the greatest and highest impact first, second, third, and then map out those next few years.
Number four is create an HR department proposal. When I read that, when I thought, “What? What is she talking about here?” Well, it’s thinking about what is your proposal to leadership, about what types of HR staff or a team that you might want to build, or that you’ve found is needed. And also think about if the company is in growth mode, thinking ahead to think how many people will we need when we double in size or when we increase by 30%, or whatever that might be? So think about that overall HR organizational structure, build a budget with those people added in or those roles included, and tie it to your mission plan as well.
A fifth one is think about the HR policies that you really do need to develop and get in place. You know, you want to start small, because you’re the first HR person in a company that’s been HR-less for a long time, probably. Or if it’s a startup, they’re not used to anybody in HR telling them that there’s some boundaries. So think about the ones that are important. You don’t want to be thought of as a rule maker. Instead, you want to be the person who puts together some well-thought-out expectations, codify some good practices that people are familiar with, and just add the important needs that… for policies that you need to have in place to mitigate risk. My guess is some of the first thing you want to look at is, you know, leave and time off so that you have fairness and you also have compliance, that there’s no discrimination or harassment allowed, everybody understands what that means. You may want to put in a corrective action process so that there is fairness about when discipline occurs or terminations happen. And maybe very simply just make sure that all the applicable state, federal and laws that need policies around them are put in place.
Number six is put together an employee handbook. You know, one of my rules about having an employee handbook is not… to try not to ever use the words “no” or “not” in the handbook. Like, I want the intention of the handbook to be positively written, not a list of all the things that people can’t do. And I think that’s just overall the types of handbooks I like to see, where they’re… they’re positive, they’re simple to read. They’re not just pages and pages of long paragraphs about laws, right? It’s important for us to have, but usually people don’t read them. So make it something that your people want to read. And then also include an acknowledgement form with it, that people sign off on, typically during their onboarding phase, to say, “Hey, I’ve read this and I understand it.”
Yeah, absolutely. I’ve seen some really clever ones that are very colorful and fun and upbeat. One of my favorite was a… I think it was a doggy daycare. Oh, my gosh, I was howling – and I… pun intended – during the whole thing. It was so funny, but… and yet it hit all the important factors. So I think that if you challenge your creativity, you can do a good job there. A seventh item that Shalie recommended that I really liked was think about, as one of your top five or six priorities for the current first year, is create your onboarding and recruitment procedures. Being able to bring in talent and get them up and running quickly, I’m going to tell you, in any type of a growing company, is probably going to be one of the things you really want to devote some good time to, and that’s going to make everything else easier. If you can’t find the talent, you need to do the work that needs to be done and you get them assimilated quickly. It’s going to help you with your employee retention, it’s going to help you with employee engagement, it’s going to help you with your culture, on and on. So I would make that one of your priorities.
Yes, I agree. And create some quantifiable metrics. I think this can especially be powerful for people new or serving in this HR department of one to show improvement or to show what you’ve accomplished or what the organization has accomplished, not just you. But things like tracking how long does it take to fill a position? Recruiting source effectiveness. What are your cost per hire? What’s the quality of the hire? Your offer acceptance rate, turnover by different areas or departments by tenure, recruiting source, managers… I mean, there’s a whole list of different things, and you don’t have to track them all on your first day. Start adding them to your list of metrics.
Yeah, I think it really helps your credibility and with your ability to make data-informed decisions. The article, I thought, was terrific. I thought it gave us really good ideas what to do, but we thought it’d be really important to have a couple of guests today to give us some first-person experience on this topic. Our first guest today is Carlie Vaughn, SHRM-CP, and she’s a graduate of DePauw University who just began her third year at Indiana Legal Services as the Human Resource Director. Prior to joining ILS, Carlie worked as an HR department of one in a private manufacturing company where she built the HR function from the ground up. Carlie has over eight years of HR experience and an educational background in conflict resolution and mediation. Carlie is a process-driven, people-centered leader who is passionate about helping people who are helping the community. You’re our kind of people. So welcome, Carlie. So glad you’re here.
You have started up an HR function now twice at two different companies. What attracted you to the opportunities to start HR functions from the very start?
Well, initially, with my first organization, the private manufacturing company, I had not intended to get into HR.
It found you.
Yes, absolutely. It was a situation where there were a lot of pieces of HR that weren’t being done or weren’t being completed correctly. And you know, like most organizations without an HR function, the pieces of HR were mixed between different people. So unexpectedly, when I started on my first day at that company, I was… was initially supposed to be an assistant to the owner. And then I came in on my first day, found out a lot of the folks who were staffing the office there had been let go for various reasons, and I needed to learn how to handle all of their positions and make sure we were getting everything done that needed to be completed. So, you know, most of the files and stuff on people’s desks of the people that were gone, it happened to be HR-related. Lots of resumes, personnel files, retirement plan information, and so I was expected to just learn how to do that. And that’s what I did. So…
Very impressive. I’ll tell you, most people would have run from the building screaming, but you stayed and figured it out.
Yeah, you know, I think it was really that I was given the flexibility to take some time, learn how to do the work, and from there, I created processes and built up the HR function, got it into a great space and… and continued to work there for a while before I started looking for other opportunities that more aligned with my schooling, you know, the conflict resolution, but also I have a passion for social justice. And that led me to Indiana Legal Services, and so it was more the mission of that organization and wanting to develop my HR skills further that led me to being in a situation where I was creating another HR function from the ground up. But it is certainly something that I enjoy, and it’s… it’s a unique challenge that you don’t find in established HR departments.
You were very brave to step into that a second time knowing what it was like the first time, but…. So as the first HR person in both of these companies, what has been some of the biggest challenges you have faced in… in those roles?
I think it’s always a challenge just getting started, knowing which piece to start with. And so, you know, I think the answer to that varies by organization. It’s based on the current needs. For my previous company, the priority was retirement planning. The 401(k)s had late contributions – very late contributions – and as soon as I noticed that and googled and talked to the vendor to find out what that meant, that became the top priority. And so getting the the 401(k) compliant there. You know, at Indiana Legal Services, we had received additional funding to hire different positions, and so hiring right off the bat was the top priority within that organization. But of course, the… the pandemic quickly started after I began at ILS, and so that certainly shifted as it did with most people in their roles. The priority then became the health and safety of our staff.
Oh, that makes good sense. What have been some of the best parts about being that first person launching HR?
You know, you have a lot of freedom. You’re… you’re choosing what to work on, what to prioritize. You know, there’s obvious organizational priorities that you have to start with, but other than that, you know, you’re determining what the process is, how it looks. And so if you’re someone who likes to research and find out what other organizations are doing, what they’ve done that hasn’t worked, what they’ve done that works well, then that’s a great place to be. So it involves a lot of socializing with other HR professionals, being open to feedback. That’s a great part. You know, another… another part that I really enjoy is… is just getting to know the culture of the organization. In HR, especially coming in at first, there is a lot of excitement and nervousness from staff on what does it mean to have a dedicated HR representative at my company, and you get to decide what that looks like. So, you know, I’ve talked to many friends and previous co-workers who worked at other companies and oftentimes I hear “HR with you is so different compared to what it’s been at other employers. It’s not rigid.” I get to meet the needs of the people who’ve already been there, the people who created this culture, and… and I get to fit into that in the way that works best for them. And so, you know, being open to those conversations, being receptive to their needs and wants in an HR person is… it’s great. It makes the job more fun, because people are then excited to work with you. They’re excited for your presentations. I walked into my first manager was meeting at Indiana Legal Services and I gave my introduction and I asked “What areas do you want training in?” and I had a couple of examples that I didn’t even need to go over, because by the end of the conversation, my list of training topics they wanted covered was a full page. So…
Yeah, there’s certainly a lot of excitement for… for the staff with someone coming in, and I think that’s one of the best parts of building that function from the ground up.
Love it. And I think that was a great point you made. I mean, not only was this new for you to start this up, but it’s new for the other people in the organization, too – right? – who might have done their own recruiting or kept the personnel files of their team or, you know… so it can be – it sounds like in your case, they were thrilled to have you, but it can… it can also be difficult, I think, for some people who are thinking, like, “Oh, no, I take care of this. I take care of these files. I recruit my own people,” too.
Yes, definitely. But you know, what I found in those situations is if you go to that person, you can feel the tension, their… the reluctance to give you the information you need to take over that process. And if you go to them, find out what they need from HR, and start doing that, do it effectively, do it well, and then they’re more likely to give you, you know, to give you the information you need to do those other aspects of your job, because you’ve built some trust. And you know, there are certainly people who it takes a longer period of time to build trust with and that’s what I would consider those people falling into. And it can be done. It just takes a little extra time and maybe shifting your focus to something else you can do to help them with temporarily.
Well, well said. And what have you learned along the way that you wish you had known upfront?
Goodness, everything, I would say. Yeah, you know, I think it’s… it’s to take that step back and not let yourself fall into doing every aspect of HR right away. Because if you are building the department, and oftentimes, there’s a lot of people who are really excited for you to be there, and they want to give you all the things HR-related that they’ve been doing all at once. And that can make it challenging to create those processes, to decide what this department looks like. And especially when you’re one person coming into the role, there’s… there’s no one else that’s going to be working on the HR functions, you can quickly find that all the day-to-day responsibilities, like hiring and having interviews and making offers, you know, 401(k) contributions and payroll processing, all of those things that are priorities can take all of your time away from, you know, having the timeline that you need in order to learn how things have been done, how they need to be done, and you know, developing your own process for each function within the HR department.
Yeah, that’s so wise, gosh. So what preparation or training, currently, would you recommend to listeners who are trying to launch an HR function, maybe, in their own company right now?
When I started, I was 21 years old, fresh out of undergrad, and I had no idea what it meant to have health insurance or what it was or any… any of that, you know, so I think it’s being a sponge. You know, being willing to listen to those around you and ask questions. Google certainly became my best friend. You know, anytime I saw… “What’s an FSA?” was my first question when I saw FSA written on a paper, and so I googled that. And of course, you know, there are certainly sources that aren’t very reputable, but at least it gives you a starting point of where to look, what it means, and where to go. So, you know, it’s not formal education or certification, but there’s certainly a skill that not everyone has. So you know, making sure that you’re… you’re googling, you’re using the people around you to ask those questions, and not being shy to do that is probably the first step in building your HR function. You know, probably about six months into my role at my previous company, I began the SHRM certification process and that education and training, which I was doing the independent study, gave me a lot of the terms that are needed to really grow and develop the HR role further, so knowing how to calculate employee ratios and various aspects of HR that are more, you know, education-based, that SHRM certification gave that to me. I would be lying if I said that my education at DePauw did not contribute to my ability to create that position. So I think you’re having some kind of background in Conflict Studies and knowing how to interact with staff who, you know, may be different or have different priorities from you is certainly a benefit as well, and gives you some of that researching ability, you know, having that more formal, higher education, but I think anyone can do it if they’re willing to learn and be a sponge and google and ask the people around them questions, as well as utilizing the vendors. You know, I relied heavily on our insurance brokers, as well as, you know, the specific carriers we worked with, to teach me how to do different things and how to be compliant. And that was a very, very important relationship for me to build with those vendors in order to get started.
You know, my first time as an HR director, I had been an HR manager before, but I knew nothing about benefits. And I can tell you everything I learned, which still applies today, that I learned from our benefits broker. So those vendors can be great resources. So Carlie, do you have any other advice for our listeners on this topic?
Yeah, I think the most important thing is being in an organization that is important to you. You know, you can develop those relationships and the organization becomes important to you over time, so you’re truly dedicated to the role and helping the people who are, you know, doing the frontline work for the organization, but I think it’s having a mission or a purpose. At least for me, that’s what it is. You know, I’m 100% behind what Indiana Legal Services does, and it makes going to work every day and getting some of the same questions 30 times a week, it makes it, you know, bearable, because these people are doing… these people that I’m working with are doing such wonderful work for our community and are giving back in a way that inspires me, that melts my heart, and makes it a joy to be there.
Oh, I feel the same way about your organization and its mission. Fabulous people. Being the JoyPowered® Workspace, we always like to ask a JoyPowered® related question. What brings you the greatest joy in your work? And it might be what you just said.
Yeah, I’d say certainly what I just said, you know, being in the HR department, a lot of people are coming to you to talk about the challenges in their work. And, you know, certainly the work that our frontline case handlers are doing is extremely challenging, you know, helping people who wouldn’t have access to justice otherwise, because we provide those free civil legal services. And so, you know, there’s a lot of vicarious trauma, there’s compassion fatigue, and being able to, you know, easily provide advice and just listen, creating that space for our staff members who, you know, are are witnessing and dealing with so much is, you know, it’s my way of helping our community at large and the whole state of Indiana, is providing a space for those case handlers and people on the front lines, because our mission is so important to me.
Wonderful. Gosh, well, thank you so much for being here, and thank you for the work you do. Thank you for the work that Indiana Legal Services does.
Absolutely. Thank you for having me.
Our second guest today is Trisha Zulic. Trisha is the founder of Efficient Edge HR and Business Services consulting firm based in San Diego, California. Her experience includes serving as an HR director, co-director of operations, and as an HR department of one. Trisha is a subject matter expert in centralized HR multilocation, HR functions, business metrics and strategy. Trisha has successfully demonstrated many leadership qualities in human resources, production planning, scheduling, lean management, forecasting, purchasing, quality control, logistics, safety training, scaling, ISO, and project management. Trisha, we are so glad that you’re here. Would love to start out with… When do you feel like a business realizes that they need to have an HR person? What are some of the signs, or that you sometimes have to tell them, you’re ready now for an HR person?
Well, Susan, so many times, small, medium, and large businesses don’t realize they need HR until something goes wrong. And I’ve worked with so many different small businesses that go, “Well, we’re… we don’t need HR.” I said, “Until you need HR.” And so they usually realize it when you ask them a question like, “Oh, are you ensuring that your employees get their lunch break?” and they go, “Oh, no, our employees like to work their lunch.” I go, “Okay, let’s talk about that for a moment.” And… and I think that, you know, after the downturn in the economy back in 2008, and a lot of HR got laid off, along with a lot of other Americans got laid off, and the subsequent things that happened after that led to more value in HR. And then here comes the pandemic. Whose lap did that fall into? HR. And so they’re realizing now that they don’t know what they don’t know, and that they need the subject matter expertise.
Totally agree. And what advice do you give businesses who are ready to hire their first HR person?
Oh, talk to your employment law attorney first about the type of HR person you need, whether you need full-time, part-time, outsourced. And then find someone that’s credentialed – the SHRM-CP or SCP. And the reason why I truly believe in that from my heart is that that certification not only says “I know HR,” but “I know how to apply the knowledge of HR.” Because I’ve known a lot of smart people in my life, and you know, you ask them do something simple, and they’re just like, “Oh, can’t do it.” My husband being one.
What are the skills that you think a first-in-seat HR person really needs to have? The education, I agree, the SHRM certification, smart, but what are those skills, ones that are going to make it work for them?
You know, truly project management. Everything we do in human resources is tiny, little projects, and the unfortunate thing is too many somewhat successful people don’t get anything done, because they’ve started too many projects and they’re all going at the same time, and they don’t finish them. So it’s truly project management and understanding how to manage your time. You know, as I tell other HR people, the first thing we all complain about is filing. And you know, with the paperless and the cloud and everything we have now, it’s not as daunting. But even when we did have more paper and businesses that do have paper, I said “Manage your time. The 15 minutes you’re spending complaining about the paper, you could have filed them and done.”
Yeah, I agree. What do you recommend an HR department of one do to launch the HR function well?
First, assess where you are. So something I use in teachings and dealing with leaders is, I use the function called ADDIE. And actually, that’s for learning and development. It stands for Assess, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate. You can’t get where you’re going unless you know where you are, so the first thing you have to do is assess where are you now. You know, I also tell people, just like the Waze app, the first thing Waze wants to know is, okay, where are you and where do you want to go? So when you first start looking at what you’re going to do, where are you now? Do you have any policies? Are they written? You know, companies say all the time, “Oh, yeah, we have a lot of policies.” “Okay, can I get a copy of them?” “Oh, we don’t have them written.”
I go, “Then it didn’t happen.” You know, so you have to start with the assessment and… so you know, where are you, and then determine where you need to be. And then design and develop a way to implement each one of those things, then evaluate and start all over again. ADDIE. She’s everybody’s friend.
During the times, Trisha, that you’ve been the first HR person a business has had, what has been some of the biggest learnings that you’ve had?
You know, I won’t say it’s a surprise learning, but helping educate management, leadership, and employees that HR is just not hire, fire, and benefits and that there’s so much more to it. And that we are not to be seen as an administrative assistant to whomever. We’re a strategic partner to the business. And sometimes it’s a paradigm shift in thought. And so I won’t say it’s a surprise, because I think I walk into it almost every day and sometimes that shift gets turned backwards and we have to start all over again. But I think that there’s a misunderstanding of who, what, when, and where HR should be doing and is. And we have to redefine that by showing our own leadership in everything we do. And it’s… I guess sometimes it’s a little disappointing when people say, “Oh, well, Trisha, we have an employee we need you to write up.” And I’m like, “That report – employee doesn’t report to me, he reports to your manager.” I’m not here to manage the entire lifecycle of the employee. That’s what we have to teach our managers how to do. But too often more than not, HR wants to step in and do it because we want to be useful and of service to our team. But we’re actually creating our own little ball of too much work to do. Because we don’t manage those employees. It’s like I tell other HR professionals, last time I did a termination was an executive like six years ago, and they go, “Oh, you don’t do your own terminations?” I go, “The employee doesn’t report to me. They report to the managers. We need to teach them how to do this.” “Well, we don’t know what they’re gonna say.” No, we don’t. That’s why you train them. You give them a script and say, “Read from this. Don’t say anything else. Do you understand me?” And they said, “Well, you’re in the room, right?” I said, “No.” Because part of that script says, if there’s any questions or misunderstandings about anything that’s transpired here today, here’s Trisha Zulic, SHRM-SCP’s phone number, email address for you to reach out to them – her and interact with her about any questions you may have. Because if you don’t do that, and you’re in the room with the separation, you’re part of the problem in the employee’s eyes. You need to be a resource so that they don’t go home and consult their internet browser of what to do next, they call you.
I think that makes great sense.
Trisha, do you have any other advice for our listeners on this topic?
Make meditation your friend. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, because it’s a journey, and you’re going to hit barriers. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s not a Mack truck, because we can make those paradigm shifts in businesses, but we have to have patience with it. And the other piece – I know you didn’t ask for a second, but here it is. If you’re working for an organization that are doing things that you don’t agree with, and they differ from your own moral code, ethical code, and all these things, get out. Too many times HR professionals stay in a situation where they shouldn’t be. And they look at it like, oh, well, it’s a business decision. And they’re mad, and they’re frustrated, everything else. There’s another company out there that will appreciate you. I think is – as a profession, we are the stop sign when it comes to unethical workplaces and inclusive workplaces, and if we participate in some of the business decisions we don’t agree with, we’re part of the problem.
Heavy but true. Yeah. Thank you. Well, last question. Because we’re The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast, tell us, Trisha, how can our listeners and us create more joy at work?
You know what, it’s how we look at life every day. You know, I am that person, no matter what I have ahead of me every day, when I get up in the morning and I put my feet on the floor, I feel grateful that I woke up, because so many people did not have that opportunity. And then I take that deep breath in, blow it back out, and say, “Let’s go do this.” And I keep a positive perspective even when things frustrate me. I think about some of the joy things in life, you know, when you had your kids, your first grandkids, your first baby at home, the wall you’re going to paint the same color as Susan’s – right? – because you just saw it, you’re just like, “oh my gosh, I must have that color in my life.” We have to think about the little things that bring us joy versus all the things that bring us sadness. And I try to keep a smile on my face, I try to know that there is a bigger plan for me and I may not know what it is. And with that, I can lay my head on the pillow at the end of the day and say I had joy today. I had fun today. And I can laugh about it. But we all know little things happen all through the day. But we should take joy in the fact that we’re present to have those little things happen. And I think that’s how you bring joy. You just have to smile at some things. And sometimes it’s an internal smile, because you know, a manager can say something or business owner might say something that totally just rubs you the wrong way. And in your mind, you’re just like, “Oh, well that’s not gonna work,” but you just smile. You know, you’re saying it inside because you already know. And then also find some good podcasts out there, just like yours. I’m an avid podcast listener, just because I can’t… I just can’t do the news at this point in time. It’s just not emotionally healthy for me right now. So I listen to a lot of podcasts. And you know the common denominator that I’ve seen of HR and podcasts is we listen to all these crime shows, because we think we’re the great detectives, and you know, inquiring minds want to know. You know, but you bring joy for yourself. Create your affirmation, smile because you got up in the morning, put your two feet on the floor, and keep moving forward.
And Trisha, how can I listeners reach you if they would like to continue the conversation or learn more about what you do and being a department of one?
Sure, they can email me at Trisha at efficientedge.com. You know, I give out my cell phone number, but this is the caveat, I will say I do not answer the phone, because I’m tired of hearing about my student loan and my car warranty and, oh, we have a great deal for you. So if I – if your phone… your name is not in my phone, I usually don’t answer, but I do go back and listen my voicemail. But you know what? I’m really handy with text message. I’m on LinkedIn, SHRM Connect, and Instagram, so you can kind of follow along with what I do and how I do it. But I’m at the give back moment of life, so I love hearing from other HR professionals that are just beginning or taking those steps so that I can give back to them. And you know, one of the things I tell all my classes, all my participants is my dream job was to be a philharmonic conductor, and teaching for SHRM allows me to do just that. My participants are the orchestra and I am the conductor. So I love when people reach out to me because I love helping make music in their lives by telling them yeah, you’re right. It’s okay. The company’s wrong. It’s okay. You’re not alone. Because so many times, HR people, we’re just like, we think we’ve lost our mind because our company wants to do something, and we need that mental health check. We need to call another HR person, go, “So this is what happened.” And you you’re able to tell them, “It’s okay. You’re right. But it may not change. So are you gonna dust off your LinkedIn profile now?”
That’s great. Well, Trisha, you have given back today. Thank you so much for being here. We really appreciate it.
You’re so welcome.
Susan, we have a listener question today that asks, “I’ve often heard employees say that they don’t trust HR because HR works for management. Staff members wonder how they can get a fair shake when they have a problem with a manager, because HR always sides with the boss. This is not, however, true for me. So how can I respond when I hear this?”
I’m going to tell you, I’ve heard that as well. And I think it’s because employees can be a little cynical – and it could be because of past experiences – that HR really has their best interests at heart. My response always is that I… as HR, I don’t believe that you work for management and I don’t think you work for the employee. I think you should be respectful and a good partner to management, I think you should be respectful and a good advocate of employees, but you really are there to ensure this organization – and that would be the owners of this organization, and if it’s a corporation, that’s the shareholder – that their interests are being well served. And so to do that, you’ve got to be an HR person who calls management to task when they’re out of line. You’ve got to be an HR person who recognizes when employees aren’t performing and helps figure out how do we fix them, develop them, or move them on. So you’re there to really think about the health and well-being, the sustainability of the organization. That’s who you work for. So I do believe that’s how I operate. I think that if you respond that way, I’m hopeful that employees will respond to you in the way that you want them to.
I love that. And I also was thinking about the opposite of that. I – we just worked with a client whose HR director was leaving, and when we talked to the CEO about what they were looking for the CEO said, you know, “I need someone who doesn’t just advocate for the employees.”
Oh, my gosh, the opposite
“…business as well.” So I do think we in HR run that fine line, right? Doing all the things you just mentioned, but we’re not always about management, and we’re not always about the employee, but we’re thinking of both sides.
Exactly. Well, JoDee, it’s time for in the news. HRmorning hosted an article by Michele McGovern, dated January 24, 2023 entitled “‘Hush Trips’: How the trend affects remote work and productivity.” JoDee, the term “hush trip” was new to me, but it has taken off as a real… real new trend. Hush trips are when employees’ getaways overlap with their working hours and days and they aren’t telling their employers that they have traveled to a new destination for personal reasons. You know, maybe it’s an extended vacation or family needs. Their employer thinks that they’re working from home, and in fact they’re working from Tahiti. They don’t know. Yeah. McGovern says maybe this has occurred on occasion prior to the pandemic, but with the rapid rise in remote work since the pandemic, hush trips are gaining in popularity. The risk for us as employers is that we may be liable for different state and country tax withholding, compensation regulations, and benefit laws when we have employees working from somewhere that we don’t know about. If they’re working in a different country, there could be even more compliance issues that we are unwittingly running afoul of. There could be reasons why employees aren’t telling their bosses that they’re working in a different location than what’s expected. It could be they’re afraid of how their bosses will react. They may think they’re goofing off or taking unauthorized vacations if they’re taking the call from Marco Island, for example. That could be, right? But another reason might be that if they normally work remotely, employees might not realize that their management needs to know where they’re physically doing business. They may think “What business is it of theirs? They know that I’m working remotely, what do they care what state I’m in?” And finally, they may not think of it as any of the boss’s business as long as they get their work done. McGovern suggests that employers create guidelines around trip notifications and work expectations for all your employees who are working remotely any part of their work schedule. I think it’s a smart idea so you aren’t caught unaware of hush trips and possibly liable for not complying with local labor regulations.
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