Welcome to the HR Pro Blog

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

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

How to find work happiness – on your terms

On the first day I came back to work after a long holiday vacation  it hit me: I don’t want to do this type of work anymore.    I’m good at what I do but I’ve been doing the same thing for a long time and I want to change careers.  The problem is I don’t know what I... read more

My Favorite Workplace Trends for 2017

During the last week of every year, I scout business articles and professional journals for next year’s workplace trends (so you don’t have to).  Here are the three I found most interesting for 2017: The blended workforce.  We are not talking about blended generations... read more

How to Respond to Defensive Employee

Q:  I gave one of my employees a memo warning that her performance wasn’t meeting expectations and unless it improved I’d have to let her go. In it, I summarized her performance trajectory.  From her initial responsibilities when hired, to the downward adjustment of... read more

Expected Raise Was Withdrawn- Now What?

Q:  I am a salaried worker that was offered a contract to bring me up in compliance with the new overtime rule which meant a raise of a few thousand dollars.  That was great but before all the signatures could be finalized, national news broke that the new overtime... read more

Obamacare Changes, Yes. But Repeal? Unlikely

After the unexpected results of the presidential election many employers and employees are wondering what’s going to happen with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. Depending on how it has affected you personally, you may be either relieved or... read more

 Tracking Employee Hours – 3 Quick Q&A’s

Effective December 1st , the new overtime rule will result in many employers having to track work hours of those employees who are newly eligible for overtime.   For some, this is the first time they’ll be tracking hours and I’ve been getting some recurring questions... read more

Hidden Cost of Not Offering Sick Leave

Did you know that some companies offer their new hires the option to get paid a “quitting bonus”?  That’s right, if after initial training the employee doesn’t think the job is the right fit, the company is willing to pay them ($5,000 at Zappos) to walk away, just to... read more

Halloween at the Office: Do’s and Don’ts

Halloween is almost here! Every year I see more and more workplaces where employees are encouraged to dress up and celebrate Halloween during the workday.  Offices, supermarkets, and even banks are getting into the act.  I’m all for it, and see it as a chance to... read more



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