Month: July 2015

Ignorance May Not Be Bliss

Another update from the Jungle…
image012Bill runs a small tech company with a group of bright, energetic young web designers. (His techies shouldn’t be confused with Trekkies, although many of them are Star Trek and Star Wars fans.) Bill’s techies provide their own laptops, iPads and cell phones. Some of the techies have other clients but most of them work exclusively for Bill.

Bill rents space in a renovated factory where he can meet with clients and with his techies to discuss projects. His clients think the location is cool because it’s a center for several IT startups.  His techies like it because next door is a coffee shop with plenty of dark roast coffee, a necessary ingredient in the creative process of the techies.

Bill insists that his techies work at his office location at least once a week so that he can monitor progress on specific client projects. Bill has always treated his techies as independent contractors rather than W-2 employees. The techies prefer to be paid as 1099’s because it gives them a sense of freedom as they work on their own schedule.

Recently, one of the techies told Bill that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has redefined who is an independent contractor.  Based on this new definition all the techies should probably be reclassified as employees rather than independent contractors. But this techie is a bit of a weirdo who shows up occasionally dressed like Spock and tells clients to “live long and prosper” so Bill’s not sure he believes him.

What are Bill’s options?

  1. He can continue his existing practice of classifying the techies as independent contractors since this classification has not been challenged in the past.
  2. He can take a quick look at the DOL website to see if he can find information about a new definition of “independent contractor”.
  3. He can ask for professional help in figuring out whether his techies are truly independent contractors or are actually employees.

A few years ago, a client faced this issue and chose to continue classifying its web designers as independent contractors. The client also declined to hire an attorney to obtain a legal opinion on the matter. Ignorance may not bliss. It generally costs less to hire an employment law attorney to provide a legal opinion on the issue than wing it and end up paying penalties if the IRS or DOL decides workers were misclassified.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

Download my FREE eBook today! Click here!

Click here to join the HR Compliance Jungle.

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5 Folders You Should Create to De-Stress Your Job Search

KrisDamico-best-whtbkgrd-tuMany thanks to my friend Kurt Kirton for this week’s column! Kurt regularly writes about best practices for a job search. Job searches are a natural corollary for any company’s HR program. After all, a company is only as good as the employees it hires. But job applicants need successful strategies to become employees. Here are Kurt’s tips on de-stressing your job search.

file_folderNow you may be looking at the title of this post and thinking, “How can something as piddly and insignificant as folders on my computer merit a blog post or do anything for my job search?” Allow me to explain: I’m a very organized guy. Ever since I was about 13 and starting high school, ways of organizing things started to come to me. It was just logic.

As an adult, I was able to enjoy the fruits of my already established organized habits. And after my first layoff from a record label (my dream job in moving to Nashville) in 2000, I’ve been applying my organization skills to perfecting the job hunt. Making and regularly using the following five folders can help you find what you need quickly and take the tendency toward procrastination out of your daily job search activities.

  1. Job Search—This is your top-level master folder and should contain the folders below plus any other files, such as aptitude tests, letters of recommendation, articles, references page, business card print files, etc.
  2. Company-Specific Information—This is where you’ll store information on any company for which you prepared for an interview or put in an application and can include documents you’ve created or information you’ve downloaded. You can make sub-folders by company name here and use those to file applications, directions, background check documentation, etc.
  3. Core Items—This folder should contain the files you use most frequently such as your most current Action Plan, elevator speech/exit statement, versions of your résumé, and job application and networking tracking spreadsheets.
  4. Letters (cover, follow up, future position, and thank you)—Keep all these letters in this folder. You can save a lot of time using them as templates, modifying them when applying for similar jobs. I suggest this format for naming the files: Account Exec–Aug 15ABC Enterprises.doc (i.e., job title, month/year you applied, company). Then you can add “–fu” for follow-up, etc. to indicate what type of letter it is. This will keep the files sorted by job title, which is best when using these letters as templates.
  5. Résumés: Old—Store older versions of your résumé here. It’s good to keep these, since at some point you may need to reference one to refresh your memory about some of your experiences or use the information when applying for a position that’s a bit of a stretch.

Looking for a new job? Want to get what you want faster? Check out Kurt’s new book, Here Today, Hired Tomorrow

HTHTcover-72res_final12-6-14In Here Today, Hired Tomorrow, Kurt Kirton, a successful veteran job hunter, provides actionable advice and teaches his proven systematic approach to getting hired. He draws upon his years of recruiting for Brantley Services, his marketing consulting experience, personal job searches, and invaluable guidance from career professionals. When Kirton is not sharing his job search experience and advice on KurtKirton.com, he is a speaker, blogger, marketing consultant, graphic designer and the Secretary for the Nashville chapter of the American Marketing Association.

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Avoiding the Bastille Moment

Another update from the Jungle…
image008Yesterday, July 14th, was the 226th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille fortress in Paris, France. Americans should take a special interest in Bastille Day because there is a direct causal connection, as a lawyer would say, between the founding of the U.S. and that event.

France is our oldest ally, supporting us in the American Revolution. It wasn’t that the French liked us; it was more about their government policy to oppose the British. Unfortunately, France went bankrupt since running a war at sea and on land with Atlantic Ocean-wide supply lines is not cheap. So in 1789, Louis XVI called a meeting of the Estates General, a legislature consisting of clergymen, aristocrats, and wealthy property owners. Louis wanted them to agree to new taxes.

The Estates General hadn’t met for over 100 years and during that time economic power had tilted in favor of the middle class but this change was not reflected in the political process. The middle class demanded constitutional changes that would give them political power to match their economic importance. By late June the king had caved in to their demands.

The legislature celebrated by changing its name to the National Assembly (still the name of the French legislature). Then they began plotting more radical changes. The king, aristocrats and the church fought to preserve their privileges. By early July, rumors were circulating that the military planned a coup to counteract the changes sought by the National Assembly.

On July 14th, a Parisian mob attacked the Bastille fortress trying to steal the gunpowder and weapons stored there so that they could defend themselves against the coup.  The storming of the Bastille is now considered the start of the French Revolution. It represents to the French what our July 4th means to us.

So what can business owners learn from Bastille Day?  Tin-eared responses to demands for change are bad for business. Employees who feel mistreated or unappreciated will leave for other employment opportunities. Customers who are treated poorly will trash the company on social media and buy from competitors.  To avoid a Bastille moment, business leaders need to stay attuned to changes in their workplace and their market.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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What are you wearing?

Another update from the Jungle…

Bob enjoyed his July 4th holiday so much that he hated to come back to work.  Today he showed up still dressed for vacation.  Cindy, the HR manager, was aghast and choked on a mouthful of coffee when she caught a glimpse of Bob passing in the hallway.

image005Bob is the star salesman for the company and an all-around good guy. He’s an extrovert who tells good jokes. He has a way of talking to people that makes each individual feel valued. But he’s also a bit of a rebel and he’ll stretch the rules because he knows he’s privileged due to his sales ability. Cindy likes Bob and she usually cuts him some slack when he bends the rules.
Now she’s having heart palpitations, not in a good way, because she just saw Bob walking down the hall looking like an episode of Magnum, PI.  He’s wearing a very loud Hawaiian shirt, flip flops, and very short shorts.

Cindy spent two years convincing the socially conservative company president that relaxing the dress code during the summer months would be good for morale. The president only recently accepted the notion that women’s work attire can include pants suits or slacks, a concept most companies adopted in the 1970’s. To convince him to loosen the rules, she had to create detailed lists of clothing that is appropriate as business casual.

Cindy suspects the president will have an apoplectic fit if he sees Bob’s current wardrobe choice. Cindy drops her coffee mug and chases Bob down the hall to invite him into her office for a quiet chat.

What are Cindy’s options?

  1. She can ask Bob where he bought his clothes so that she can upgrade her husband’s wardrobe for their August vacation.
  2. She can send Bob home with instructions to change his clothes. Of course, there is no guarantee Bob will follow her instructions or return later today.
  3. She can review the business casual definition with Bob and ask why he is not complying with it. She can always hope that he has an acceptable excuse for ignoring the rules.

Has your company struggled with the business casual conundrum? I’d love to hear your stories and how you dealt with employee lapses.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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A Salute to 1776

Another update from the Jungle…

Back in the days before air conditioning, the founders of our country met in Philadelphia at Carpenter’s Hall (also called Independence Hall).  They were afraid their discussions would be overheard so they closed all the windows and sat every day in a hot room with no air circulation.

unnamedThe men who met at Philadelphia that summer of 1776 were planning a revolution.  They didn’t start out with that goal. Originally they wanted to tinker with the existing political and economic system to make it work better for them.  (This isn’t a tale of altruism; it’s a tale about businessmen who wanted capitalism to work for them.)

Today we call this type of gathering an executive retreat. A company’s senior management team gets together and tries to figure out how to tweak their company’s products or services to gain market share and make a profit. Occasionally the management team realizes that tinkering with the status quo isn’t good enough. They need radical change.

That’s what happened at Philadelphia. Those men decided they needed a revolution and issued the Declaration of Independence. They didn’t get everything right. They ignored women. They failed to end slavery. They never even considered the rights of Native Americans.  But for all that they got wrong, they got a lot of things right. They revolutionized citizen expectations: non-responsive governments will be replaced.

Those expectations apply to companies too. Companies or their managers are replaced when they can’t deliver a product or service that customers want to buy. Unhappy employees vote with their feet and leave.

After a long hot day the Philadelphia men would unwind at nearby taverns. They’d quaff some ale or beer, listen to some music, and talk about their favorite sports.  They didn’t have designated drivers in those days, but a man who imbibed too much had to worry about slipping on the cobblestones on the way back to his hotel room.

So on this July 4th weekend, raise a glass of your favorite adult beverage to salute the Spirit of 1776.  We enjoy so many things today because a group of men were willing to sit in a hot room to plot a revolution.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

Download my FREE eBook today! Click here!

Click here to join the HR Compliance Jungle.

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