Bring Me a Rock

My husband has a great analogy for ineffective communication that goes like this:  It’s like when they say, “Bring me a rock”. You go outside, grab the first rock you see, and take it to them. They say “No, we need a different rock.” You go back outside, grab a different rock, take it back, and they say “No, not that rock. It needs to be gray.” And so on and so forth until you eventually figure out that they wanted a big, round, gray rock from the bottom of the Mississippi River. How were you supposed to know that?

Today I Was Biased

This morning my 16-year-old informed me that tomorrow is “Senior Day” for Homecoming week and as part of the SGA leadership team, he has to dress up as a senior citizen. The immediate image in my head was that of an old man with a branded t-shirt, khaki pants held up by wide suspenders, and clunky white tennis shoes. So that’s what we went with. Why that’s the image that popped into my mind, I don’t know. My dad is 71, he’s a senior citizen, and he’s never dressed like that. My uncles don’t dress like that. In fact, no

Top Payroll Errors

My theme for the summer seems to be money. It’s been a huge topic of conversation in my house and with clients, from trying to help my oldest navigate scholarships, FAFSA, and how to responsibly manage having a credit card, to teaching my 16-year-old to understand income taxes, to helping clients answer questions about wages and payroll.  Over the past few weeks, I’ve talked about misclassifying employees, both as Independent Contractors and as exempt employees. This week I want to shift a little and talk about some of the common payroll errors and how to avoid them.  Overtime Pay:  Comp

Unlimited Paid Time Off- The What, How, and Most Importantly, the Why

  If you believe employees need strict rules and enforcement to be productive, hiring and retaining high-performance people will be a challenge for you. You hired these people for their tenacity and talents. Get out of the way and let them be great. Deal with any people who choose not to meet expectations on a case-by-case basis.”  Sue Bingham, HBR article   My husband came home one day and told me about a conversation he had with a friend about her company’s recent switch to unlimited paid time off (PTO). “Is that really a thing?” he asked me. “Yep,” I

Benefits Benchmarks: North Central Alabama

A few weeks ago, I asked the question “Are Employees Utilizing Those New Perks?” and highlighted benchmarking as a critical activity for evaluating workplace benefits. Now, we have the published results from the 2022 North Central Alabama Wage & Benefit Survey! First up, Average Benefit-Cost Per Employee (Annual) increased 25% over 2021. Employers reported an average of $16,608 spent annually per employee in benefits, compared to $12,459 one year ago. Some hot categories for increased benefits spending are Child Care Support, Adoption Support, Pet Insurance, and Elder Care Support. These types of benefits are increasingly attractive, and the Huntsville/Madison County

Are You Misclassifying Employees?

The Supreme Court recently agreed to hear a case that could have a big impact on the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the classification of employees as exempt versus non-exempt. The case of Hewitt v. Helix Energy Sols. Grp., Inc. involves a highly compensated oil rig worker who was paid a weekly “salary” and upon his termination sued Helix for unpaid overtime on the basis that he was not paid an annual salary and therefore was not an exempt employee. The outcome of this case could impact employers who pay a daily or weekly “salary” as well as those

Crafting a Thoughtful Performance Management System

I recently asked a room full of managers representing dozens of organizations if they actually liked their own company’s performance management system. What do you think they said?  Some of us may think of Performance Management as a rubber stamp on an annual review. We often don’t think of it as a living, breathing, system. Others of us may think of Performance Management as monitoring what we’re doing wrong. We may not think of it as monitoring and developing what we’re doing right.  When an organization thoughtfully designs, implements, and continuously improves a performance management system, it should look like

Are Employees Utilizing Those New Perks?

Organizations have been extra creative lately with new benefit offerings and retention strategies. Is it working? Are employees utilizing those new perks and sticking around? Yes and no. SHRM explored the issue nationally, and our team has some local insight from the 2021 and 2022 North Central Alabama Wage & Benefit Survey.  Aon reported in April that enrollment in voluntary benefits increased 41% from the previous year. Most of the increases were tied to medical benefits, as to be expected, but some may be surprising:  The fastest-growing voluntary benefits employees enrolled in amid the COVID-19 pandemic include supplemental health insurance

1099’s – The Cost of Misclassification

In the last few weeks, I have come across multiple cases of employers hiring individuals as independent contractors in violation of the IRS guidelines. Some have done so because they aren’t aware of or don’t understand the IRS guidelines and/or state regulations and some have done so knowingly. Either way, none are aware of the potential risk of misclassifying workers as independent contractors and just how costly such a mistake can be to their organization.  The IRS has a 20-Factor Test to help organizations determine if a worker meets the requirements to be an independent contractor. You can read more

Is Your Organization In the Learning Zone?

Over the past few years, I’ve spoken with a lot of organizations about the importance of psychological safety. A 2012 study by Google showed that psychological safety is far and away the most important factor of a team’s success, yet many organizations lack the psychological safety required to be successful.  A few years ago, I worked with a client that was going through some major changes and employee morale was at rock bottom. As I began speaking with employees one theme stood out, employees didn’t feel safe speaking up. There were a number of reasons for this, including the fact