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Newsflash: HR Creates a Policy

Breaking news

Anywhere, USA – This morning we got word that someone in HR created a policy. We’re not sure what the policy was as of the time of this report; however, we were assured by our sources that it was “highly necessary” for the business to continue functioning.Policy

Our resident HR expert, Stu Pidhead, had this to say, “I have been a long-time believer in policies. Without them our employees would run rampant, exercise their own judgment, and be able to do pretty much whatever they want. How can we expect to run a business when employees have autonomy for how the work gets done or choices when it comes to rewards and recognition? No, no, and no. We have to restrict those things for the good of our employees and the world. They just don’t know better, and we have to educate them.”

For those just learning of this story, there is a longstanding tradition of policy creation within the HR profession, and many HR professionals see this function of their job as the most important. According to an anonymous source, “We like to make the rules, because it gives us more power. We got bullied in elementary school, but now it’s our turn to take charge.”

HR has long been known by many terms of endearment, including “the policy police,” “those jerks that make all the rules,” and “fun suckers.” This tradition of creating policies dates back to the creation of the human resources, or “personnel,” function in the 20th century.

Another source who asked not to be identified made this comment: “Rumors of organizations reducing policies and eliminating rules are just that–rumors. My philosophy is ‘the more policies, the better we’ll be.’ From social media policies and rules about how long people can stand at the water cooler, we want to control every aspect of these peoples’ lives while they are at the work site. Hey, that gives me an idea for another policy…”

Updates to this story will be shared as we discover them…

Engagement Tip #49: Highlighting Employee Interests

I talked previously about my jump to Republic Wireless. I love the phone and the service, but I also love following the company’s blog and learning more about who’s behind all of that greatness. Recently they shared a very unique idea that I wanted to explore today.

At Republic, we aren’t actually corporate robots stored in closets at the end of the work day (although I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords). We’re people with talents, hobbies, and interests outside of our work providing value for our members through our phones and service. If you happen to wander the halls of Republic HQ in Raleigh, North Carolina, you’ll see dozens of framed photos of employees that answer the question: What Do You Love? (Source)

republic wireless employee engagement

Photo credit: Republic Wireless

The company, instead of having silly employee headshot photos that nobody actually likes, gives employees a chance to show off their creativity, interests, hobbies, etc. For a number of reasons, I really like this.

  1. Instant conversation starter, especially for new folks, whether they are talking to existing employees or if they are talking to the newbie about their photo.
  2. Everyone is forced to remember that employees are much more than what they are for the ~40 hours a week they are in the office.
  3. This reminds me of the Dale Carnegie quote, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” I think Dale would agree that this satisfies that requirement as well. People want to be recognized for who they are.

Have you ever seen anything like this? Do you like it? Hate it? What are your thoughts? What would be on your picture? 

The Ultimate Holiday Party Flow Chart

I don’t know about you, but I have seen, read, and heard more about holiday parties this year than ever before. Honestly it’s more exhausting reading this stuff than actually planning, hosting, and cleaning up after one of the things.

  • Should we have one?
  • Should we not?
  • What should we call it?
  • Who should we invite?
  • Should it be mandatory?
  • Should we serve alcohol?
  • And every other variation of this question has been published, posted, tweeted, and shared. Seriously? We need that much discussion on this?

The solution you’ve been waiting for

To go ahead and put your mind at ease, I created a flow chart to help you make the decision.You can thank me later.

Should you have a holiday partyYou’re welcome.


Can I (and Should I) Fire An Employee for Social Media Content?

google job candidatesThere is a phenomenon that doesn’t get talked about much publicly, but it’s something that in-the-trenches HR folks deal with fairly regularly. While we want to “rise up” and think about big picture, have a strategic viewpoint, and assume the best, there are always going to be friction points that hold us back. It’s a part of the whole “working with people” thing. :-) Today I want to talk through a few recent questions I have received around the impact of social media in the workplace.

We recently hired someone, but after he started I found out that he is posting offensive content to his Instagram page. Should we fire him? This is his first real job after college.

In some cases, it’s perfectly acceptable to terminate someone for what they are sharing online, especially if it would be harmful for your company if it were to come into the public eye. In this case, I’d take a coaching approach initially. The guy’s in his first job and might not realize the implications of what he is sharing. Take him aside, explain why he should NOT be sharing offensive things on a public social media site, and ask him to make it private and/or stop.

One way I’ve had success with this in the past is by framing it in terms of how someone they respect would see it. For instance, “I know that Joe thinks a lot of you, and that’s why he pushed to bring you on board. What would he say if he found out about this?” That’s often times motivation enough. We forget that maturity is delayed in kids these days for numerous reasons, and the first step should be to educate, not criticize. Don’t assume they know that the behavior is offensive.

We absolutely do not look at anyone’s social media profiles before we hire. That’s discriminatory, right?

Not necessarily. Often times I would not have time to research people online simply due to the time factor. With a full slate of work I didn’t have time to look up every single person (the recruiting process was already long enough). But there was one key time that it really saved us from embarrassment and lost revenue. We were pursuing work with a branch of the military known for its close, community-style relationship. Everyone knows everyone, right?

We had a backup candidate we were going to submit for the effort, and I went out to Google to find him on LinkedIn (because I heart LinkedIn for recruiting, by the way). His LinkedIn profile was the second item in the Google search results. The first? An article about his arrest for indecent exposure and subsequent legal actions. Due to the specific community we were dealing with, having that candidate in our proposal would have made us look clueless and would probably have cost us a sizable chunk of money if we lost it completely.

I don’t always Google my candidates, but I have a good reason to.

Now, would I forego hiring someone because they have pictures of them having a good time on the weekend shared on their Facebook page? That’s going to depend on the company culture, the person’s overall value as determined by the hiring process, and the exact nature of what I find in a search. It’s certainly not a blanket “no,” but it also isn’t a blank check for “anything goes,” either.

There’s a little thing called negligent hiring that I would bring up here to the naysayers. The basic premise is that if you have information that the candidate did something wrong in the past and could reasonably be expected to to it again to the detriment of those around them, then you have a responsibility to the rest of your staff to NOT hire the person. If we find out something about a candidate that would bring financial or other harm to employees, company, or customers, it’s our responsibility to keep that kind of people from getting onto the payroll.

Whether you want to warn them ahead of time or not is entirely your call. As long as you have some measure of transparency in the recruiting process, the candidate shouldn’t expect anything public to be off-limits.

What other questions do you have about social media and how it has added complexity to everyday HR activities? I’d love to offer some advice!

How to Protect Your Sensitive Employee Data

This post brought to you by 3M. The content and opinions expressed below are that of upstartHR.

When you work in HR, you have access to a substantial amount of sensitive business data. It’s just the nature of what we do. But technology is continuously improving to help keep our data safe, and I want to talk about one new option that is making that possible.

In the age of cybersecurity, hackers, data breaches, and other web-based threats, it’s easy to forget that the simplest security lapses often involve a human element.

Imagine that you’re working on compensation data for an upcoming review cycle and you’re called into a meeting abruptly. You jump up and walk out of your office, leaving the compensation information prominently displayed on your computer screen. Virtually anyone could drop by your office, whether for a scheduled meeting, to leave something in your inbox, or just to say “hello,” and they would be able to see sensitive information easily.

That is true, unless you have the 3M Privacy Filter. This filter provides visual blocking to help maintain information security, but in this example, someone could still step directly in front of your computer and attempt to access information. That’s where 3M’s ePrivacy Filter Software kicks in.

This software program uses the computer’s webcam to learn your face through its facial recognition software. When you are looking away or stepping away from your computer for a moment, the screen blurs. Here’s the best part: if an intruder or eavesdropper is detected, you are alerted with a pop-up of the intruder’s face with an image taken by the webcam. The software is designed to work in conjunction to a 3M™ Privacy Filter that attaches physically to the device – providing a full 180 degrees of privacy from visual hackers.

If this sounds like something you might be interested in, please click to learn more about 3M™ ePrivacy Filter Software or download a 30-day free trial of 3M™ ePrivacy Filter Software.

Here are the details and system requirements:

  • Download requirements: Windows® XP or higher and a webcam.
  • Not compatible with Mac OS
  • Go to:
  • Download software and enter the activation code (VX7J-3CVJ-AyW2-X4PQ)
  • Call customer support with questions 1-855-666-2800 to speak with a representative (Monday through Friday, 7:30AM to 5PM CT).

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this tool!

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The Powerful Pull of Restaurant Careers

This post brought to you by National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation . The content and opinions expressed below are that of upstartHR.

Over the past few weeks as we have explored various areas of the restaurant industry, including career opportunities, compensation, and more. Today I want to direct your attention to the power of the industry both in providing initial job opportunities as well as long-term prospects. Here are a few of the key statistics from the infographic below:

  • The restaurant industry provides a great start for younger workers. 92% of restaurant employees younger than 18 say their first job was in the restaurant industry.
  • Many of these employees stay in the industry for a long time. Restaurant employees ages 25- to 34-years old have a median tenure of 10 years in the industry, while employees ages 35-to-44-years have a median tenure of 19 years.
  • Many who venture out of the industry return: 60% of restaurant industry employees 35 and older have returned to the industry after stints in other fields.
  • This is an industry that allows employees time to pursue higher education. 64% of bartenders, 49% of restaurant managers and 41% of servers are currently attending a four-year college or university.

I’m particularly interested in the “92% of restaurant employees younger than 18 say their first job was in the restaurant industry” statistic. If we correlate that with the statistics on median tenure, it shows us that a sizeable number of those initial “starts” in the industry help to drive long-term career paths for employees. If you recall, we discussed that more in Restaurant Career Paths: The Journey Upward. This demonstrates the powerful pull of the industry to bring in, teach initial career skills, and drive career decisions for an entire generation of workers.

Below you’ll find the infographic titled “A Career for Everyone” from the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.


Are any of these statistics particulary exciting for you? Why or why not? 

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The Condescending HR Lady is Alive and Well

The term “average” is used commonly, but we sometimes forget what it means. The “average” score is made up of the highest and lowest scores. The “average” experience is made up of the best and worst experiences. And the “average” HR person is a mix of the best, most engaged and innovative professionals out there and the laziest, most unhelpful people you’ll meet.

This is a story about the latter. It’s also a reminder of the importance of not only what you are doing, but how you are doing it as well.

I have experience administering health benefits for an employee population, both local and dispersed, so I understand the intricacies of putting that together and taking care of employees. I also am acutely aware of the problems and the need to communicate carefully and kindly with employees who are having trouble with their benefits.

In case you were not aware, the number one reason of bankruptcy in the US is due to medical emergencies–not having the coverage in place or having problems with it could be catastrophic for a family to deal with. That is why I am fanatical about having this taken care of appropriately for the employees in my care.

Please never do this to your employees

A few months back my family transitioned to be covered under my wife’s health insurance when my own ran out from a previous job.

My wife contacted her HR person before our other coverage ran out in order to get a form to apply for coverage.

A week went by. No response.

She made another attempt at contact, this time CC’ing her supervisor on the email.

Miraculously she had the form back within minutes. Weird how that works, eh? 

We submitted everything, received the insurance cards, and started paying for the coverage.

A few weeks before the baby arrived, I went to get a flu shot. Lo and behold I was not listed on my wife’s insurance plan. I emailed her HR person immediately and asked her to fix the issue. She responded and told me that it would be fixed overnight and would be good the following morning.

As I already said, I have managed benefits for employees for years and understand in particular how this specific provider works. They rarely fix anything quickly and certainly never overnight.

The next morning I logged into the customer dashboard for the insurance provider, and it still only listed my wife as covered and neither me nor my children were on the plan, though we were paying full price for family coverage and had visited the doctor several times in recent weeks for our kids’ routine visits and my wife for maternity care. If not for me being turned down for a flu shot I don’t know when we would have uncovered the issue at all.

I emailed the HR lady again to give her a heads up that it still had not been corrected. If she had not been so pointed about it being fixed “overnight” then I would have given it another day to run its course, but I thought she would like to know that it hadn’t yet been resolved.

Her response was abrupt and pretty darn rude:

Is this really an emergency? If so have your wife call me.

I started to write a response, but for the sake of my wife (it’s her HR person, not mine, really) I didn’t send it. My inclination was to send something like this:

When I’m working with employees on coverage issues, I actually want to know when they are not getting the service they need, whether from me or from the provider. Apparently not all HR people care enough about their employees and their families to feel the same way.

I share this story today just as a reminder that each individual interaction you have with employees really matters. My wife has never even met this HR person (remotely located at the main office), but this is the lasting impression she has left on our family.

What impression do your employees have of you and the service you provide?

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