Welcome to the HR Pro Blog

From my newspaper column, with my own headline and links. Enjoy!

Employers: Compassion is Key

  Back in April, right here in this space, I advised small employers against making loans or “advances” for employees. Then Irma happened.  So now I’m re-thinking all that. I’m sure every single Floridian was affected by this storm: we either evacuated, lost power or... read more

After the Storm – Tips to Keep the Team Going

 After a storm, there is an opportunity to bring people together and create a stronger team.  Here are some tips about ways to do that while building camaraderie and teamwork. Check in with your employees – Preferably in a group setting, find out who was affected and... read more

When Off-the-clock Actions Jeopardize Your Job

Q:  Last week you discussed scenarios where people can get fired for behavior outside of working hours.  This left me feeling like we have to watch ourselves even when we’re not at work or we may lose our jobs. Those firings sound so subjective, am I right to feel... read more

Can Being a Nazi Get You Fired?

Q: I can’t believe I’m even asking this, but can you discuss the legalities of firing someone for being a Nazi outside of work?   The recent events in Charlottesville are making me curious about what implications this might have since I’ve read that a few... read more

Google’s Memo Brouhaha: My Take

So, did you hear about the Googler’s manifesto brouhaha? In case you haven’t, last week an engineer at Google distributed a 10-page memo in one of their internal platforms, in order to have an open discussion about Google’s diversity programs.  The manifesto made its... read more

Advice to Women Who Want to Earn Equal Pay

The gender pay gap was back in the news and the topic came up among some friends.  The discussion started with the generally agreed upon statistic that “women make 78 ¢ents on the dollar as men”, but I had to quickly explain my more nuanced take on that misleading... read more

Don’t Overlook These Basics in Your Job Search

Q:  I have been job hunting for about three months with little luck. I‘ve had a couple of interviews but afterwards,  I never heard anything back.  The most frustrating part is that I don’t know why.  I wish there was a way to find out what I’m doing wrong. A: You... read more

Layoff Decisions:  a Peek Behind the Curtain

In a recent column, I noted that layoffs were “a miserable experience all around:  for the employees affected, those who survived, and also for management who had to do the deed”. Well, I got some push-back on the last part; someone basically having little sympathy... read more

A Little “Ohm” Can Be Good for Business

Q:   I recently interviewed for a position at a high-tech company.  Afterwards, I was given a tour of their swanky new building.  I was impressed but not surprised when shown conference rooms with oversize monitors, motion-detector lighting and well-stocked break... read more

It’s OK to reach out to laid-off coworkers

Q:  Last week there was a big layoff where I work. About 10% of the staff was told their jobs were eliminated effective immediately and they had to leave right away.  Those of us who still have jobs feel shaken and conflicted. We realize our job load just increased by... read more

Cross-dressing for a Fundraiser. Should We?

Q:  Where I work we do a couple of fundraisers every year.  I think it helps morale when we work together for a good cause and we try to keep it fun. This year someone suggested that -as a gag- the male members of management could cross-dress as women.  I was... read more

Beware Gender Cliques at Work

Q: I manage a small business of about 15 employees, about half male and half female.   We all work closely in the same building  and everyone gets along pretty well. Lately, I’ve noticed a tendency for employees to group themselves by gender when socializing or having... read more

Can You Ask Applicants About Previous Injuries?

Q:  I recently started working as a manager at a small family-owned business.  We have a lot of turnover and I’ve noticed that of the 10 or so employees we’ve hired since I got here about a third have experienced some type of on-the-job-injury.  We’ve later found out... read more

Be Supportive of Employees, But Not Too Cozy

Q:  Last week you discussed what to do if an employee asks for an “advance” on their paycheck.  You noted it’s  easier for large impersonal companies to have a blanket policy stating “no advances”,  but for small employers it’s difficult to be indifferent to the needs... read more

Handling Paycheck ‘Advance’ Requests

Q:  I’m a small business owner, and every so often one of my employees will ask for an “advance” on their paycheck.  Usually it’s one or two hundred dollars.  On the next paycheck, we usually don’t take out the whole amount but spread it out over the next few pay... read more

Conflict Part 2 – How to Manage It

Last week we busted three myths about conflict   Myth 1. Conflict is avoidable – It’s not avoidable, it’s  normal and to be expected. Myth 2. Conflict produces bad negative stuff – Not necessarily.  Well-managed conflict can lead to innovation and new... read more

Team Building on a Shoestring

Q:  I have a small staff of about 10 people, half of them have been with me for a while but the other half are fairly new.   I’d like for us to do a team-building activity but, like many small businesses we have no money set aside for this kind of thing.  Do you have... read more

Ransomware – What Is It, Should I Worry?

Q:  What the heck is ransomware? I’ve seen the word used in different contexts, but I’m not sure exactly what it means.  Do I need to worry about this as a business owner, or as an individual. A:  Actually both.  Ransomware can target individuals and... read more

Are Your Employees Affected by Travel Ban?

Update: The travel ban was stayed by a judge soon after this column was written a week ago.  The stay was appealed, and just last night the 9th Circuit court upheld the stay.  The case is expected to be appealed again this time to the Supreme Court. In short, everyone... read more

“Youth Wage” Is a Thing

Two weeks ago, I answered a reader who had questions about the employment rules that might apply to her 14 year-old who  landed a part-time job  in a power-washing  business.  I explained the  limitations on the number of hours allowed by our current law covering... read more

Is it Legal to Dock the Last Paycheck?

Q:  We are a small company of about 30 employees.  We have a small gift shop for customers on the premises and extend up to $100 credit for employees and ask they pay it in full at the end of each month.  The problem is sometimes employees leave before their accounts... read more



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