Transcript: Episode 33 – Podcasting for Internal Communications
July 16, 2018
Show Notes: Episode 34 – How to Become an HR Consultant
July 30, 2018

Click here for this episode’s show notes.

This transcript was created using an automated transcription service and may contain errors.

Susan  0:08 

Welcome to The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast, where we talk about embracing humanity in the workplace. I’m Susan White, a national HR consultant. With me is JoDee Curtis, owner of Purple Ink, an HR consulting firm, and author of “JoyPowered®” and “The JoyPowered® Family.”

The topic of our podcast today is to answer a question that JoDee and I receive a lot. And that is, “How do I become an HR consultant?” So, JoDee, tell me, how did you decide to become a consultant? What was your path?

JoDee  0:38 

You know, it’s interesting, I think I can articulate my path now, looking backwards, better than I could have at the time, but I did figure out about myself pretty quickly after becoming an HR consultant that I am not a maintainer, and for the first time in my career, in 2010 I was becoming a maintainer. It was right after the recession. The company I was working for was not adding on, not hiring, not doing a lot of new things, not doing a lot of training, and it was the first time in my career where I was bored. And I realized how much I love change, and I thought that working as a consultant would be constant change. Change of clients, change of situations, change of questions, and that has certainly been the case. Was it my dream? You know, I always… even back in high school, I always said that I would be a business owner. I never dreamed that I would be a consultant. So I didn’t think that was the path I would take, but my… my lifelong mentor and very first HR director, Tom Porter, really encouraged me to… to start my own firm and go into consulting. And I guess I should… I should say, which might be a little obvious, but of course, my path to becoming a consultant was that I had spent 20-some years in HR, as well. So from a technical perspective, and experience…

Susan  2:20 

You knew something!

JoDee  2:20 

I had that, as well, too. Right.

Susan  2:22 

Now, you do get asked that question a lot, don’t you?

JoDee  2:24 

Oh, yes.

Susan  2:25 

Yeah. Like, where are you when that happens? So people say, “So, JoDee, how do I become a consultant?” Where do you hear it?

JoDee  2:32 

Well, I think a lot of people want to be in HR consulting, or a lot of people tell me that when I’m, you know, maybe we’re interviewing them for jobs, when they’re asking me about my business, but very few want to take the risk to do it on their own. Or I think most people, most HR people, I don’t mean to overly stereotype, but are very concerned about the business development side. They have the expertise, they have the skills, they have the knowledge, they have the resources, but they’re afraid of the business development side. In hindsight, I should have been afraid of that, too. I think I wasn’t smart enough to think about what I was going to do for business development, so it didn’t scare me as much as it maybe should have. And what about you, Susan?

Susan  3:23 

Yes, I’ll tell you, I do get asked the question a lot, and it’s usually when I’m inside of a business. And I’ll be talking to the HR people, and they’re… they long for the idea they can set their own schedule. And the interesting part of the job, as you said, that they… often an HR person will get kind of tired of just carrying the weight and doing the same thing year after year, and they’ll say, “Oh, gosh, Susan, I want to do what you do. You know, you come in and you help us with something, and then you leave.” I also, when I teach classes to HR folks, usually during breaks or after the class they’ll come up and say, how do I get… do what you’re doing.



JoDee  3:58 

I get that a lot, too.

Susan  4:00 

It’s interesting, I’d never… It was never really my dream to do HR consulting. I spent a chunk of time in large corporate America and I did a variety of HR types of work. I did employment and employee relations, and a bit of compensation, and training and development, and cost savings, and HR business partnering, and so on, so forth, just a variety of different things. And I felt like, in all the years I was in this one particular organization, that, gosh, I never got stale, because every so many years, there’d be a new opportunity or new responsibility, so I felt very lucky in that respect. So as it turned out, after 35 years, I my job was eliminated. It was moving to Chicago and that… for 35 years, I just could not move. I live in Indianapolis. I’m going to die in Indianapolis. But I am happy to travel anywhere in the globe that you want to send me. And so when that occurred, I really took a breath, and when people said what are you going to do next, I felt like I had to give an answer, and I didn’t know, so I said, “Well, I thought I’d try consulting.” And then I realized I told so many people that I had better try consulting so I, you know, wasn’t a liar. And I started exploring. In fact, JoDee, you were one of the first people I met with, thanks to Patty Prosser. In case Patty’s listening. She was a wonderful guide to me as I explored this new potential career. And as I met with various people to just understand what they were doing and how they were doing it, I was intrigued and thought, you know what, I’d love to give it a try. I didn’t have that aspiration to own my own business, you know, and hire people and so on, so forth. But I loved the idea of being my own boss and having just me to be responsible for.

JoDee  5:41 


Susan  5:42 

So I set up a little LLC, and I made myself the CEO of me, which, to this day, I still love. I’ll tell my husband periodically that I’m kind of mad at my boss, she said yes to too many things, but I’m gonna be the one that has to do it. And he always says, you know, you’re mad at yourself. I say, I know, but it’s just fun to get mad at my boss once in a while.

JoDee  6:00 

I love it.

Susan  6:02 

So let’s talk through, for any of our listeners who might be at that point that they’re contemplating doing some consulting or maybe they’re preparing for later in life when they’ve got more freedom to do consulting, what are some of the things that you would recommend, JoDee, that anyone listening should start doing now to really prepare themselves to be a really strong and viable consultant in the future?

JoDee  6:23 

So one thing a lot of people ask me now is do I wish I had started my business earlier. I was 45 when I quit my full-time job and started Purple Ink, and for me, I think it was the perfect time. It was… it just was when it was. I… I’m not sure that… you know, sure. I could have had 10 more years of experience or done some other pieces and parts of HR. When I see these young people in their 20s and 30s do their own consulting I’m so… I’m so excited for them and so proud of them for taking that trip on their own, but for me, I think I needed that experience in the business world, both from my CPA background in working in a consulting environment, and then specifically with the HR experience I had, but there’s no magic number, right? No magic number of years you have to have, no particular expertise, maybe. I mean, some people choose to go that route of being very specialized. I actually had lots of conversations with people about that, that I had a lot of advice from people that I needed to be a specialist, but I had never been a specialist in my whole career in HR. I was always involved in benefits and recruiting and training and compliance and employee relations, and that’s just who I was and who I wanted to continue to be.

Susan  7:57 

It’s funny, I was just gonna mention I had a lot of people as I was thinking about what I wanted to do say you need to specialize, you can’t just say you do HR. And I wanted to say the same thing, I do HR.

JoDee  8:06 


Susan  8:07 

And I didn’t know yet what I wanted to specialize in. So I’m glad you didn’t buy into that. And to this day I, anybody who has an opportunity for me, I’ll take a look at it, and if I think I’d enjoy it and be good at it, I say yes.

JoDee  8:18 


Susan  8:18 

And if I don’t think I’d be good at it, then I turn them over to Purple Ink, who I know will be good at it.

JoDee  8:23 

Well, and as we’ve worked with you, Susan, when I think we have an opportunity that we might not be good at, I reach out and see if somebody else might be, as we’ve done with you many times, to say, you have a skill set that is different than many of our own people. And I did that even early on when… when I was the only one in the firm. I would reach out and talk to people who might be able to help train me or coach me or even just hire them as a contractor to do… do the work. So.

Susan  9:01 

Very smart.

JoDee  9:02 

I wasn’t afraid of that. In terms of credentials, I… when I started the firm, I already was certified as an HR professional. I have my CPA license too, which of course didn’t really help me with HR consulting, but did help me in creating the business, setting the accounting system up, those types of things, which… which was very helpful. I don’t think you… you know, you don’t have to have a certain degree or a certain credential, but I definitely think it… it builds a lot of credibility with clients and customers to say that you have been disciplined enough. It doesn’t necessarily mean I’m… I’m smarter or better than other consultants, right? But I had the discipline and the commitment to devote my time and energy to obtaining that certification.

Susan  9:57 

I totally agree, and for listeners that are interested in… specifically in HR consulting, I would consider the SHRM-CP or SCP and/or HRCI SPHR, PHR, GPHR. I think the more initials that you have, the more it demonstrates that you care about the profession and you are staying current. And that, I think, is really a differentiator, because to stay certified, every three years, you have to get at least 60 continuing ed hours that’s recognized by those organizations. And I think that’s going to help the business owner who’s bringing you in to understand that you are staying in touch with the changing landscape.

JoDee  10:34 

Right, right. I agree. What about references and testimonials? Susan, did you do anything specifically around those?

Susan  10:44 

Well, I you know, I found it very helpful as I was starting out my practice to… if people wanted to have references, I did not have any consulting references, because I hadn’t been consulting.

JoDee  10:54 


Susan  10:54 

So I drew upon my experiences in corporate America, and several of the senior leaders that I had done internal consulting with were very kind and open to talking to any anyone who was interested. I, surprisingly, in consulting, I find very few people really do call your references.

JoDee  11:14 

I know!

Susan  11:14 

But I’ve got them ready. And now I certainly would have them talk to external, you know, businesses that I’ve done consulting with. But truly, at this point, I feel like my business comes through referrals, and I haven’t had people doing… but you need to be ready. So you should have some, hopefully, good contacts out there that could speak on your behalf.

JoDee  11:33 

Right. And that’s exactly what I did, too. I didn’t have consulting references, obviously, but people who I had worked with in… in my current or previous companies that were on standby for that, so. I was also very involved before I went out on my own in IndySHRM, and… which then led me to be on the HR Indiana State Council, so I was building a very strong professional network, as well, of people in the HR space. Now, some people ask me, well, aren’t they your competition? Well, sometimes they were, but we also had lots of different experiences to share. I’ve encouraged many people to think about starting their own HR consulting practice, even within the Indianapolis area, because I think there’s plenty of work for us. And of course, many of those people, too, were potential clients or references or resources, as well.

Susan  12:38 

And I think that’s an area that I did not put enough time or effort into… into really establishing a professional network outside of the firm that I worked with. I worked hard in a, you know, community volunteer way and in my… inside my company, but I would really suggest that if you are seriously thinking about consulting in HR, that JoDee’s path of really getting involved in the professional organizations locally makes all the sense in the world. So I know you mentioned, JoDee, that, as you’ve talked to people, that very few people seem to really be anxious to start their own firm, but they are interested in working for other firms. Maybe we should talk about that, independent consulting versus working for a consulting firm.

JoDee  13:19 

Well, one thing, I think, at least in the Indiana market, there aren’t very many HR consulting firms. There are a lot of independent consultants, but there’s not very many firms. Now, you could argue that a different way, there are lots of recruiting organizations, there are lots of benefit brokers, so there are people who specialize in different areas of HR, but then to have a true HR consulting firm with a group of people, there just aren’t that many out there.

Susan  13:57 

That is a great point. I love seeing Purple Ink’s growth over the few years that I’ve known you, how many folks are you up to now?

JoDee  14:04 

Well, we just hired our 15th person this week.

Susan  14:08 

Amazing. And I can’t… off the top of my head, I can’t think of any other pure HR consulting firms of that size.

JoDee  14:15 


Susan  14:15 

So we don’t need to talk about any of your competitors, but I do think it is more unique.

JoDee  14:19 

Right. Yeah. Right.

Susan  14:20 

So it sounds like there’s a good chance that many of you that are listening probably want to go the route of perhaps being your… an independent consultant, and at times, you may want to subcontract with other firms. So let’s talk about, where do you start? You know, step one, I would suggest that step one is figuring out, do you want to be a sole proprietor, do you want to set up an LLC or a Doing Business As organization, or… JoDee, what is the other potential organization?

JoDee  14:51 

Yeah, just to become incorporated.

Susan  14:53 


JoDee  14:54 

As a…as what I would call, from a tax standpoint, a C Corp.

Susan  14:59 

Gotcha. Yeah. Do you have any thoughts about…for an independent consultant, where you would suggest somebody go with that? Would you suggest…

JoDee  15:06 

Well, I think… I, like you, started as an LLC, and that has worked for us. That’s a pretty simple process. I don’t know about you, I personally did that myself. You can go online and Google “forming an LLC,” fill out some paperwork, and most people probably go through an attorney to do that, but it actually, your state… in Indiana, you can go to the State of Indiana website, and they have a checklist of what you need to do to set that up.

Susan  15:39 

It was amazing to me how many resources the State of Indiana… and I’m sure this is true for any of our listeners in other states, they want to have more businesses that are employing people and are paying taxes, and so they do… they do workshops, they do a lot of things that are free to you as you’re starting. Now, I will tell you that I went to

JoDee  15:57 


Susan  15:58 

I loved it. They made it very easy on me. But as I look back on it, I tell people, you can do this yourself, you really don’t need to… anybody else to help you.

JoDee  16:05 

I’ve used for some other resources over time, too, and that’s a great, inexpensive process as well.

Susan  16:13 

Exactly. I also, as people are starting their businesses, I really… I don’t have a CPA. So I love that you’ve got that in your background, JoDee. But I… I do say now, I want you to think about this first as a business person. I know you’re excited about going out and consulting, but I do think it’s important that you really set yourself up for success, get organized. If it’s talking to an accountant, or if you have a tax accountant, certainly talk to her or to him upfront. But think about, you’re going to be paying quarterly estimate for taxes. Be sure that you start right away with tracking your income, tracking your expenses. If you’re using services or subcontracting some people sometimes, make sure you know how to do 1099s. And there are so many wonderful software packages out there that make a lot of this easy.

JoDee  16:58 

Right. Well, I can tell you that, Susan, admittedly, even as a CPA I used an Excel spreadsheet for a long time to track all of mine, so… I’m not recommending that per se. I think a simple accounting software can be very inexpensive, but it doesn’t take a whole lot, as long as you stay with it and keep tracking it.

Susan  17:19 

I’m still using an Excel spreadsheet.

JoDee  17:21 

Oh, you are?

Susan  17:22 

I am too cheap to pay for Quicken. Isn’t that horrible? But I do do… I do my invoices and things from a software called Log My Hours, and I love, which I think you can do free up to having two clients, but then I bought… you know, years ago, went ahead and start paying $5 a month and I’m able to track all my time to every project and able to then do my invoices from there. So I love that.

JoDee  17:46 

That… you know, Susan, that actually might be the biggest difference for people, more than anything else, is getting used to tracking your hours so that you understand how long is it taking you to get projects done, whether you bill on a project basis or on an hourly basis, understanding… you need to understand if your project fee makes sense based on the amount of time you’re spending on it, and I think a lot of people still don’t get that. Now, coming from a CPA firm background, I’d been tracking my time all my life, or all my career, so that wasn’t a big change for me. But I know of the people that I’ve hired, that’s a big adjustment to think about, what are they doing.

Susan  18:33 

And I’ll tell you, when we get to talking about how much do you charge, it is so hard to know when you walk into a consulting assignment how much time is it really going to take to do what you think… what… and you need to propose up front, so you’ve got to estimate time. So I find that very difficult.

JoDee  18:48 

Right, right.

Susan  18:50 

Well, we’ll get to that in just a moment. I wanted to ask you, JoDee, do you think that having a website is necessary?

JoDee  18:56 

Well, that takes me back to 2010 when an adviser I talk….I mean, just a personal friend of mine I had talked to told me that I couldn’t start my business until I had a fax machine and a website. And eight years later, I still don’t have a fax machine.

Susan  19:14 

And don’t miss it.

JoDee  19:15 

Right. And I did get a website fairly quickly, three or four months into it, but I didn’t have it on day one. I do think, you know, most of us now are used to going to a website to check… is this a legit business? You know, where are they? What are they doing? But I’m not sure, if you’re working on referral and start out with some clients, maybe it’s not all that important.

Susan  19:45 

I think I’m with you. I like having a website because I love to go look at it. I like to see how many hits I get. I just find that really fun. But I’m not sure I… I’m fairly confident I’ve never gotten any business through it. It’s more like the old business phone book where you wanted people to be able to see that you were in there.

JoDee  20:02 


Susan  20:02 

As if there’s no fake websites out there, right? I know. So what the heck. And then for contracts, I, originally, when I set up the business, and I used, you had access to their, you know, contract templates and things like that. What I have found in consulting is most companies, if they’re very large in size, they have their own contract, they are going to ask you to sign.

JoDee  20:23 


Susan  20:24 

But for small businesses, I try to keep it so very simple.

JoDee  20:27 

Yeah. I, of course, again, had used a lot of what what we called “engagement letters” in the public accounting world, so I kind of continue to use that method of a an engagement letter, but still is a pretty simple format. What is it that we’re doing? How much will it cost? What are some of the expectations on both ends? And I find as you… some of our bigger clients create their own.

Susan  20:59 

One of the things I’ve seen in contracts that I have collaborated with Purple Ink on that I just really like, and I hope you don’t mind I now use it because I think it was so powerful, is because I’ve worked for firms that gave me contracts where if I ever wanted to leave, I had to give them at least 30 days notice, or 60 days notice in another case, and I love yours is that at any point in time, if we feel like the project isn’t getting the expected results, it can be canceled by either side.

JoDee  21:24 


Susan  21:25 


JoDee  21:25 


Susan  21:25 

I just love that. I’ve never… It’s never happened. But I love the fact that I’m not marrying these people.

JoDee  21:30 

Right! Or that they’re married to you.

Susan  21:33 


JoDee  21:34 

I just… I try to keep things very practical and easy for people to do business with us.

Susan  21:40 

I think… I think it is. And I think that gives people confidence, too, that they’re not into something… if it’s not working at some point, we’re going to be mutually respectful and walk.

JoDee  21:48 

Right. Right.

Susan  21:49 

Well, good. So let’s do talk a little bit about as a consultant, I think, especially people making the leap from a full time job into this, they want to figure out, can I make as much money or more than what I used to do. So I would love to just hear your thoughts. I did a little research about, like, how much should you charge for a job? When I was first starting out in consulting, I went to

JoDee  22:12 


Susan  22:13 

And said, you know, what are HR consultants getting, and they had a range in there of, I think $90 an hour to like $275 an hour. And so of course, my first job I charged $90 an hour because I thought, well, I’m just new to this. But over time, I have changed and hopefully gotten much higher in that scale. How do you think about it? You have to price a lot of jobs and do a lot of estimates.

JoDee  22:36 

Yes, we do. And I’m… after eight years, I’m still not so sure that we’re always good at it. But I do find when I talk to people, no matter what their consulting business is, that I think most people start out too low, and they lack the confidence to charge that higher rate. When you say looking at the range at is a great resource for that. But that was some really good advice I got when I started my business, was not to start too low. You know, you can always negotiate down, but it’s very difficult to raise that rate over time or to get it back up there, so I encourage people to start higher. Now, granted, you throw out that rate, and some people, some clients, might stop the conversation right then and not come back. But if you can get them to at least consider that and then negotiate it from there, I think you’re… you’re driving it. But I think if you go too low, you might be perceived that you’re not adding enough value to them.

Susan  23:46 

And you need to think of that. I do, that… what is your time worth? And usually, that… you’re going to prepare for it, the whole proposal process, which you’re not getting paid for, takes a lot of time and energy. An article I read recently said that if you’re looking at what you believe your hourly rate truly is and you’re trying to replace it, that you should, as a consultant, multiply it times 2.4 to 2.7 times that hourly rate, because you’re going to spend a lot more time getting ready for it and doing it, you’re not getting benefits. So that was just an interesting, I thought, rule of thumb,

JoDee  24:19 

Right, right. I think, too, let’s say, for example, that a person is making a current salary of $100,000, and they’re hoping to replace that $100,000. So if you divided that by 2,080, that gets you back to an hourly rate of $50 an hour. But what you have to consider is that you won’t have 40 hours a week of billable time, right? You might be spending time on marketing or proposals or accounting or… so, you know, I’m lucky sometimes to have half that much in billable hours. And then, as you mentioned earlier, you’re paying your own taxes. When you think about the taxes that you’re paying that you weren’t paying as an employee, you’ve got an additional 7.65% of FICA tax…. that you’re paying double, right? So you had previously paid half of that, but now you’re paying an extra 7.65%. So you’ve got to add those things on, too, in order to get back to a number. Benefits, of course, too. If you’re making $100,000, and they… your company was paying for part of your health insurance or whatever, so that number has to be higher than $50 an hour to get you back to $100,000 is my point, right?

Susan  25:48 


JoDee  25:48 

You have to think about…

Susan  25:50 

So I…and you know what, I think there’s going to be some trial and error, but you really want to pay close attention to it. And so, when you do a job and you estimate what it’s going to take and they agree to your proposal, it’s really important to track what it really takes so that you get wiser over time.

JoDee  26:05 


Susan  26:06 

Good. So let’s talk about how you market your business. If you’re starting out in consulting, you know, we’ve talked about how wonderful it is if you get referrals, and that is a lovely thing, but most consultants, when they start out, may not have that strong of a network. So maybe we should talk about different things that you can do and maybe things you’ve currently done, or you’re doing currently, JoDee, to market your business.

JoDee  26:28 

Yeah. Well, certainly for a long, long time, the only thing I did was networking and referrals.

Susan  26:36 


JoDee  26:37 

But I… that’s still, for me personally, a big part of how I develop business, is through networking, being involved in professional organizations and community organizations and my church, lots of different things, just to meet new people and tell them what I do. And then also networking with a lot of referral sources who also are marketing their business to the same people I am, which might be business owners and/or HR directors, VPs of HR. It took me some time to do some paid advertising, honestly, we still don’t do a whole lot of paid advertising. We do a lot of social media. Emily, our marketing manager, is… is our hidden secret. I shouldn’t have even said her name out loud. I don’t like people to know who our… our hidden secret is in the background that… that drives a lot for us on social media. And then, of course, now I do lots of speaking, conferences. We write lots and lots of blogs, and of course, our JoyPowered® podcasts, so… but those have grown over time. I don’t think people need to think in my first year that I have to be focused on all of those things. So, what about you, Susan? I know you’re doing some speaking, and…

Susan  28:05 

I would say primarily, for me, it is through referrals. And of course, I love doing this podcast and that’s a wonderful way, I think, to get word out. I was going to mention some online things that folks might want to consider. I have not done these, but I do know other consultants who have had some success. One of them is through LinkedIn ProFinder. Don’t know if you’ve ever used it or not. You can… it’s really part of the whole gig economy, if you…

JoDee  28:31 

We just checked into that recently, but I think it is more geared towards independent consultants.

Susan  28:37 

It is. So, if you’re starting out the business yourself, it makes some sense to put out there that you’re doing HR consulting, and maybe pick up a contractor, too.

JoDee  28:44 


Susan  28:44 

There’s also a website called That’s really toward people that are more seasoned and who have really acquired skills over the years, and now they’re looking at what they might want to do later in life. Consulting is very popular, so that’s a good place to go. And then the third one I would mention is, so you go out to, and there’s opportunities there to take on, you know, contract work and pick up temporary assignments, which is… some ways that some consultants really piece it together and make good livings.

JoDee  29:19 

Right. Very good. Good resources.

Susan  29:23 

One other idea I did have, I do know folks who, in consulting, who have gone back to the companies they used to work for, and because they have that institutional knowledge, they’ve been able to convince them to hire them on as external consultants. So, something to think about if you have a company that you’ve built up a lot of strong relationships, you know, that they may have periodic needs, but they don’t want to keep someone full time, maybe you’re just the person for them.

JoDee  29:46 

Right. I know when I started my business, I actually went… my employer at the time asked me if I would stay on part-time so that I could help them find and train a new VP of HR, and of course, I went in to resign knowing that I might be walked out the door, so I was mentally prepared to walk away that day. But of course, it was very beneficial for me to phase out over time so I could start my business and… and continue to work on a part-time basis for a while, too. I was very thankful for that opportunity.

Susan  30:31 

Kudos to you that they wanted you to do that, and obviously they felt good about you. Well, I thought it would be helpful if we mentioned just some other resources out there in addition to today’s podcast for people considering going into consulting. There are a couple of books that I think are good. One of them is “The Business of Consulting” by Elaine Biech, and you spelled Elaine’s last name B-I-E-C-H. And another book called “Entrepreneurship: A Real-World Approach” by Rhonda Abrams. There’s also some websites out there that are good. There’s $29.95 courses that will help you kind of figure out the legal structure that might be right for you, how to find funding for your business, kind of accounting 101 for those of you who don’t have a business background, that website is www.newsmallbizu – that’s N-E-W-S-M-A-L-L-B-I-Z-U dot org, and then put a slash and the word course if you’d like to get directly to the courses they have to offer.

JoDee  31:34 

Very good.

Susan  31:36 

So, JoDee, what other advice do we have for those considering embarking on a HR consulting career?

JoDee  31:42 

Well, some of the advice I give to people when they’re looking for a new career in any role or position is to tell everyone they know that they’re looking for a new role. And that would be my same advice for consultants, to tell everyone you know that you’re in the business of… of HR consulting, and I… whether it’s the person checking you out at the grocery store or the mailman or your neighbor, I just think you never know who you might run into or who you meet who might be able to help you. Or, you know, I’ve had many times where I’ve had a conversation with what I thought was a relatively random person, who then said, oh, my goodness, my boss is looking for help, my parents, my brother, my sister, my neighbor, my whoever, that might be in need of your services. So just tell everyone you know. That doesn’t cost you anything.

Susan  32:47 

I think that is great advice. The only other thing I would say to folks is once you’ve had a good engagement, don’t forget to go back six months, a year later, check in with former clients just to see how they’re doing. And amazingly, you may have… have not been on top of their mind. But when they see you or they hear from you, they might say, you know what, we’ve got some other work that someone saw that you might be able to do for us.

JoDee  33:07 

Right, right.

Gut + Science is a weekly podcast hosted by Nikki Lewallen, an employee engagement enthusiast and advocate. She interviews CEOs every week to help companies build successful people first cultures. I don’t miss an episode. Gut + Science, the podcast that explores employee engagement insights you can act on from CEOs you can trust. Thursday mornings at

Susan, we did have a listener question this week. Hayley in New York wrote in and asked, “During a sexual harassment investigation, at what point is that appropriate or inappropriate to tell the accused who accused them?”

Susan  33:58 

Hayley, this really is probably one of the more difficult aspects of running a… a workplace investigation. If there is a sexual harassment investigation and the accused is called in to an interview, if there’s a way that you don’t have to reveal the name of the person who made the allegations, that’s ideal, but I’m going to tell you it’s pretty rare. Unless whatever occurred was so public that there were many witnesses to a particular behavior or an incident, then you might be able to get away without saying the individual name. However, in most cases, especially sexual harassment, it’s usually someone feels they’ve been victimized by a harasser or potential harasser, and so the accused does have a right to tell their side of the story. And so, in that case, you… hopefully, you’ve done a good job when you talked to the accuser to let them know that confidentiality is going to be carried to the point of need to know basis. And that means that the individual does have the opportunity to respond if someone says that she or he touched someone inappropriately or, you know, propositioned someone, did various things, the individual has a right to tell their side of the story. As an investigator, you have to really figure it out the truth and you have to ask those questions. Now, you also have to ensure there’ll be no retaliation, either, for the individual having raised the allegations, and you as the investigator have a responsibility to ensure management does that. But those are the times, yeah, you have to do it.

JoDee  35:37 


Susan  35:38 

So in the news today, a article cited the top five HR issues for 2018. JoDee, I thought it was good for us to just make sure that everyone else knew what at least this organization feels the top five issues are that are happening in the HR world today.

JoDee  35:56 

Right. No surprise on that first one. Number one, harassment and the #MeToo movement, which I… hopefully, we’re all aware of that one, or you haven’t been in front of a TV or radio or podcast or anything in the past…

Susan  36:11 


JoDee  36:12 

…12 months.

Susan  36:13 

Yes. Number two, employee well-being. I love this one. We’ve had podcasts on it, about employees are really demanding work-life balance and a culture of caring from their employers. And employees aren’t afraid to leave and find companies that will focus on employee well-being, so we all need to be observant of it.

JoDee  36:31 

Yeah, very good. Item number three, I’m not sure I would have thought of this one, but I’m not surprised to see it. Cannabis. According to CNN, more than half of U.S. states have now legalized some form of marijuana use, although it still remains illegal at the federal level. And I have to add to that one, it doesn’t… just because it’s legal in your state doesn’t mean you’re going to pass the drug test at your office if they do it, so… doesn’t mean it’s appropriate in the workspace.

Susan  37:04 

And number four is healthcare, which I think this has probably been on the top five list for as long as I’ve been an adult. But what’s really interesting this year is the switch to the Republican administration has vowed to overturn the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. So the health insurance industry is certainly waiting, watching, and ready for potential shake up. This means that there could be increased headaches for HR administrators trying to navigate the confusing world of local, state, and federal regulations.

JoDee  37:33 

And sadly, workplace violence is the number five top issue. 2018 continues to see a sharp increase in the rate of mass casualty shootings, and there are no signs this trend will stop anytime soon. HR departments must be ready for bomb threats, terrorist attacks, domestic violence, escalations on site. That’s a tough one.

Susan  37:58 

Yes, it is.

Well, please tune in next time. Thank you for listening today. If you’ve missed any of our podcasts, you can catch all episodes for free at iTunes, Google Play, Podbean, or wherever you listen to podcasts by searching on the word “JoyPowered.” If you have any questions on any HR topic, you can call us at 317-688-1613 or give feedback on our podcast via the JoyPowered® Facebook account or on Twitter @JoyPowered. We welcome listener questions and comments. Thank you.

Emily Miller
Emily Miller
Emily works behind the scenes at JoyPowered, helping to edit and publish the books, producing the podcast, and running the website and social media.

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