Posts by: Laurie Ruettimann


marijuana HR cannabisI have a friend who hates her job and suffers lower back pain and anxiety.

Wait, that’s not fair. I have at least seven girlfriends who fit this composite character. They all take cannabis in some form to alleviate symptoms and improve their overall quality of life.

The transformation in my generation has been remarkable. These are white women who possibly voted for Trump — with families and serious HR jobs — who are now fluent in different cannabis strains and various delivery mechanisms like food, suppositories, oils, simple vaping devices, elaborate bongs like they’re back studying poetry at the University of Illinois in 1996.

None of them are cured, by the way. Some of them feel better, but a few have rebound anxiety. When I mention it, they jump down my throat and tell me it’s not rebound anxiety — it’s their awful jobs and lives.

I’ve asked, “Can it be both cannabis and the external environment causing your anxiety to get worse?”

No, it’s not the weed. Back off. Maybe I should do my research.

People will do anything to make themselves feel better, and I’m not here to judge how somebody addresses physical and emotional pain. I have my own problems with alcohol, and the CBD and cannabis craze doesn’t eliminate the drivers for me to drink. I know because I’ve tried. The only thing that makes me feel better is a lifestyle rooted in emotional rigor, honesty, drinking lots of water, eight hours of sleep and eating better.

I believe that we fix work by fixing ourselves. If CBD oil or sativa chocolates work for you and helps you to live your best life, that’s great. You’ll be a better employee. But I have to imagine every HR department out there is like me—making assumptions about cannabis, CBD, THC, sativa, indica, oil, tinctures, pills, gummies, suppositories, and patches without a bunch of first-hand knowledge.

I have some resources for you.

My friend, Don MacPherson, interviewed Giadha Aguirre de Carcer — CEO of New Frontier Data. They spoke about ‘Demystifying the Cannabis Industry,’

My good friend Kate Bischoff did a great DisruptHR talk called “To Pee Or Not To Pee: Drug Testing & Marijuana.”

Eric B. Meyer wrote a thoughtful article called, “Your employee uses medical marijuana. Her drug test is positive. But, how do you know if she was high at work?

Wherever you fall on the spectrum of this topic—curious observer, advocate, ally, casual user, patient, skeptic, abuser, opponent—it’s time to get educated. And if you work in HR, add this to another thing on your list.

Although I have a funny feeling that your local HR lady already knows more about this topic than the average employee. The last person to push gummies on me was a VP of HR at a conference, and she seemed to be living her best life away from the kids, in a hotel room without a husband and alleviating her lower back pain without going to the gym.

Sometimes HR ladies do it right!


Hey, everybody, just wanted to say hello.

I’m up to my eyeballs in work that doesn’t make me wealthy, which is the worst kind of work.

When you work for a company and have a little bit of gravitas, people do things for you. When you work on your own, you watch your cash flow and only outsource the truly life-changing tasks.

But I did want to tell you about a few things.

1. I’m going to SHRM but won’t be attending the conference. Instead, I’m in meetings and heading out to celebrate my friend Jennifer McClure’s birthday. It’s what I do every year: complain about the conference, show up around the ecosystem, and hate myself for attending an HR conference instead of going to The Maldives. I don’t have time to see anybody socially except Jennifer, but, if you’re attending the show, make sure you check out the sessions from Jennifer McClure, Tim Sackett, and Kris Dunn.

2. My HR Book Club is on the backburner. It’s not a priority right now because my life revolves around running a speaking business, consulting, coaching, and writing a book. But I’m going to kick things back into gear after Labor Day, and I’d love some book suggestions. What have you read that you love? Tell me at and maybe we can swap recommendations.

3. I’m speaking at a few places, this summer. I’ll be volunteering my time as a keynote speaker at the inaugural Hacking HR event in Durham, NC. Then I’ll be at Plansource Eclipse in July. You can also find me at the HCI event in Denver. (I’m leaving that HCI event and flying to Chicago to see Spoon, Beck, and Cage the Elephant and maybe my family. I’m excited about that.) Finally, I’ll be at HR + L&D Innovation &Tech Fest in Johannesburg in August. If you’re at these events, say hello like a normal person and maybe we can chat!

Those are my updates. Thanks for all your warm wishes and support. It’s been a busy year, and I’m so close to a next-level breakthrough. I just have to run payroll and reconcile my Quickbooks accounts first.


What’s your worst quality?

I am thin-skinned, which makes it hard to give me coaching or feedback. The good news is that I’m aware of it and make an effort to slow down, thank someone for constructive feedback, and process both the intent and content before I respond.

Doesn’t always happen, but I’m trying.

Carl Jung famously said everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves, which is true. I hate thin-skinned motherfuckers on the internet, and it takes everything in my power not to be triggered and respond back.

Vicious cycle with no winners. Who needs that?

But check this out: I’ve hired a young woman to help with my Twitter, Facebook, IG and podcast inbox over the summer. She reads through my inbound inquiries, flags what’s important, and responds with templates to the rest. That way I’m organized on Sunday morning and can get through my business correspondence in a flash.

Cheaper than a virtual assistant, faster than sorting through this bullshit myself. And, to be fair, most of it is bullshit. Especially this exchange from an author who wrote a book about behavioral science.

If I unmask his name, I’m a petty bitch who causes trouble. Also, I might put myself in harm’s way. Some people are weird, and there’s always the risk of violence. Sunshine is the best disinfectant, but you never know what chaos and darkness lurk behind a random DM.

If don’t unmask his name, he gets away with proactively asking a random woman on the internet for her address and getting mad at her team’s automated response when he doesn’t get his way. Would he want his wife, daughter, intimate partner, sister or mother giving out her address to some stranger? Is this how we operate in 2019?

Honestly, here’s how I feel: conflicted. There’s a part of me that wants to be helpful. I could go back and offer marketing advice. You know, provide better language on how to approach strangers when selling a book. But that’s insane. Why would I do his job for him?

I’m thin-skinned enough that this has bothered me for a minute, but also self-aware enough to know that I was given a gift — a lesson on how not to market my forthcoming book. So I’ll take this as a win and keep this gentleman’s identity masked.

Takes a thin-skinned asshole to know one. Guilty as charged. Let’s hope we can both build character and move on from here.

(But he’s a shitty jerk, right? Right? Okay, fine, I’ll let it go.)


the menopause

Years ago, I worked in an HR department where menopausal HR ladies would rip off their sweaters, open the office windows, and crank up the air conditioning in the middle of winter because of hot flashes.

I’d come in from a cold and snowy employee parking lot and scream, “Why is it so cold in here? Can’t you ladies get a fan?”

The menopausal HR ladies would tell me to shut up — rightly so — and then talk about their night sweats and dry vaginas as casually as someone might chat about long-term disability insurance.

Let’s say I learned a lot about the body, so, when I started having hot flashes a few years ago, I knew what was happening: karma.

I’m extraordinarily young — or so the doctors keep reminding me — but I’ve been through the menopause. My ovaries don’t make estrogen. It’s over for me. Happened in a blink of an eye. One day I was bleeding heavily and irregularly, and then I wasn’t.

Menopause is not a medical condition, it’s a phase of life that can happen to women for a lot of reasons: age, DNA, autoimmune diseases, thyroid conditions, or hysterectomies. Mine is DNA.

It’s no big deal except I have hot flashes like those baggy old HR bitches back in Chicago, and I’m on a bunch of hormones to make me feel like a young whippersnapper.

My estrogen, progesterone and testosterone cocktail is working well. I feel pretty good and donated all my tampons to a local domestic violence shelter. Thought about cutting my hair and wearing wide-legged bohemian harem pants with sandals, too. Might as well embrace this time in my life.

But then I got my period after receiving steroid injections for my hips and remembered what it was like to be a young woman in high school with raging cramps. Heavy uterine bleeding is an underreported side effect of steroid injections. My stomach puffed out, my insides churned, and I couldn’t sit down and moderate a panel at a conference because I was afraid that I’d bleed through my dress.

People kept offering me a chair. I was like, nah, that’s okay, I prefer not to sit in my own pool of blood.

I’ve been told no menopausal journey is quite the same — and I want to vomit in my mouth for typing out the words ‘menopausal journey’ — but there is one thing that’s the same: my tendency to go first, experience something crazy, and write about it.

So, if you’re married to someone who is menopausal or going through it yourself, reach out to me.

Those HR ladies in Chicago had it right, though. Talking candidly about menopause is the correct thing to do because it educates a younger generation and also makes everybody feel uncomfortable, which is also oddly satisfying.

Thank you for reading and participating in a non-traditional source of therapy for me!


We’re in a new era of collaboration where strategic business goals are accomplished by full-time, part-time and flexible workers who operate within communities with the same purpose: to achieve extraordinary results while having meaningful experiences at work.

Well, that’s optimistic.

It’s a transformative period, for sure. Leaders can navigate this change by being hyper-focused on people engagement strategies and by creating transparent, ethical and inclusive communities where all workers feel engaged and are prepared for the imminent changes to the workplace.

That’s easier said than done, which is why I’m attending SAP’s SAPPHIRE NOW conference in Orlando on May 6-9, 2019.

This year, SAPPHIRE redesigned its conference experience around “neighborhoods.” Neighborhoods bring people together, create a sense of community and provide a shared experience that supports growth and enrich lives.

I am excited to take part in the People Engagement neighborhood and have conversations about how technology enhances the employee experience. We’ll cover topics such as working in a socially connected world, demographic shifts, and emerging business models. All of it calls for a flexible workforce with new and different skills. Empowering this workforce and capitalizing on the diversity of thought and experience is key to ensuring people are engaged in their work.

Some of the sessions I look forward to the most are: Empower Your Leaders to Improve Every Workforce Experience, Combine Finance and HR to Improve Decision-Making and Performance, Give Your Employees a Completely New Human Resources Experience.

I’m also thrilled to meet the talented team behind Coach, Kate Spade, and Stuart Weitzman and learn how they are transforming luxury retail with a business strategy that is founded on innovation and inclusion.

You know I’m passionate about fixing work.

The verdict is in, and organizations see a positive impact on revenue and profitability when they combine technology and best practices to empower all workers and create an inclusive environment. So, join me in real life in Orlando on May 6-9, 2019, or find it live online. And I’ll share the good stuff from behind-the-scenes in the neighborhoods and the greater Orlando area on my Twitter account.

Not a bad way to stay on top of what’s happening in the future of work.


I don’t like people who make promises they don’t keep. It’s one of my biggest pet peeves in the world. If you make a professional commitment, own it. Especially if you’re a business owner. Yes, life gets challenging. We have multiple obligations, but I expect you to prioritize your responsibility to me and treat me as if I’m just as important as the other five things happening in your life. If you can’t be a person of your word, you should choose your words better.

Well, I’m an overcontrolling jerk!

Turns out I promised Namely that I’d come to their HR conference on May 6-7 in New York City and can’t make it. I’m double-booked and will be in Orlando, and I’ll miss Shawn Achor keynote this fantastic event. I’m also bummed because I wanted the chance to hear from key opinion leaders both inside and outside of the HR function who will share solid advice and practical takeaways.

I need a virtual assistant to help me out!

If you work in human resources or live in the New York City area, you should head on over to this event for one reason: the best HR professional in America, Lorna Hagan, works for Namely. She leads their people and talent function, and you shouldn’t turn down an opportunity to learn from the best. I’m not joking, Lorna is hands-down the best HR leader I’ve ever met.

There are also other amazing people on the speaker roster and plenty of fun people in attendance. My former editor, Vadim Liberman, will be in the audience. He’s no Shawn Achor, but he taught me how to write when I was a contributor to The Conference Board Review. We once did a webinar for The Conference Board and they shut down the entire magazine shortly thereafter. Coincidence? I think not.

(Vadim now works at The Starr Conspiracy and is an active member of DisruptHR. You want him to emcee your event!)

I’m really bummed to miss this event, so I asked Namely for a discount code to offer ya — use the code HRR196 at checkout for 50% off your tickets:

Hope you take advantage of the event if you’re able, and I’m sorry to miss it. I’ll be back in 2020, and I look forward to eating crow and being a woman of my word!


We live in a world where everybody hates HR.

If they don’t hate human resources, they don’t give it much time. It’s a shame because HR is the one department in any company that could, without much effort, positively change people’s lives for the better. People should love human resources, and, if their department stinks, they should get promoted — or get a job in HR — to make it better.

But HR doesn’t change if we stand around waiting for people to stop complaining. It changes when we raise our hands and commit to making work better while simultaneously making companies profitable.

The two can go hand-in-hand.

That’s why I’ve been honored to partner with Ultimate Software over the past three months to sponsor my podcast called Let’s Fix Work. We hoped you would sign up for their free HR workshops around America — where you can earn HRCI, SHRM and APA credits — and learn new ways to fix work.

Turns out, y’all signed up in record numbers. You believe in the future of human resources, and you also believe in professional development and continuous learning.

As recently reported in Harvard Business Review, “Employees experienced fewer negative emotions on days when they engaged in more learning activities at work compared to other days.”

Even if your company has an awful culture and doesn’t spend money on your professional development, your “employee experience” is yours. Ultimate Software continues to offer its free and fantastic HR workshops all across America. You should sign up for a workshop if one is in your area, and take advantage of the unfettered opportunity to learn and grow.

Please visit and tell them Laurie sent you when you attend one of those fantastic live events!


If the world is engaged in stalker-culture, it’s because companies started it.

At first, your organization was slow to embrace the internet. If you have time to lean, you have time to clean. If you had to have a computer, they sure as hell weren’t gonna let you shop on Zappos or check out your friends on Myspace.

But a funny thing happened on the way to late-stage capitalism …

Once businesses understood the power of the web to merge power and surveil its workforce, they encouraged everybody to hop on the internet and even bring their own devices to work.

We all know companies watch what you do; however, many employees and contractors don’t understand the depths. Legal, finance, IT, and HR can easily map the intricacies of your whole life into one large pivot table for cynical business folk to manipulate. Does it violate the law? Yes, no, maybe, who cares. Depends on where the corporation resides, where the worker sits, what legal precedent if any has been set, and the ruthless calculation of the cost of doing business.


You might come to work on Monday morning, open your laptop, grab a cup of coffee, read your email on your computer, check the New York Times on your tablet and book a flight on your phone. Some of that online behavior is monitored through apps and programs on your company’s IT equipment; your company may hook your badge up to a software that connects with cameras in the office and monitors your whereabouts and to analyze how work gets done; and, if you log onto your organization’s wifi with your own devices, you consent to be monitored and tracked.

Is that a big deal? Well, maybe.

What you don’t know is that all of this data can be collected and analyzed using natural language processing and sentiment analysis to understand if these are predictable patterns of behavior, if you’re about to leave the organization, if you’re depressed and about to commit suicide, if you are a candidate for financial wellness programs based on your internet shopping, or if you’re swinging by Janet’s workspace every morning — just like she complained to HR — and harassing her.

And we’re just getting started.

How many times a day do you use the toilet? For how long? Where do you go after you pee? What sites do you visit after lunch? Where do you go when you block off “creative time” on your schedule? Does your calendar match your physical location or are you blocking time off to nap in the lactation room? Are you sharing files on Slack to foster inter-departmental collegiality or are you trying to sabotage a project? Where do you go for lunch? Who’s going with you? Are the two of you leaving for lunch together? Are you having an affair and putting the company at risk? Are you giving away corporate secrets to competitors? Did you take this job for the intended reasons you stated in the interview? Are you only working there to bump up your salary and rebound to your prior employer? Does your criminal history match what you shared? What about your ongoing activities — are you employed at this job while running a small cannabis ring from your house?

Some of this data needs to be reverse-engineered when there’s an HR complaint, but that’s so very 2015. Much of this data can be collected and analyzed in real-time by sophisticated technology and third-party vendors who monitor a spectrum of activities to ensure that you’re not a risk to the organization by lying, cheating, stealing, leaving too soon after being hired, giving away company secrets, getting too fat, harassing your colleagues, or, honestly, being depressed enough to bring a gun to work.

UR being watched.

Stalker-culture exists because we’ve fetishized work as the ultimate form of purpose and given over our lives to corporate overlords — founders, C-level executives, business consultants — who don’t fetishize work and have second and third homes in tax-free locations throughout the United States and find meaning and faith in accumulated interest and capital gains earnings and not “growth opportunities” or “feedback from colleagues.”

So, what can you do if you don’t want to be surveilled by your employer?

• First, understand the depths of the surveillance. Find a friend in IT, risk management, finance or even HR and ask good questions. Go back and read your employment agreement.

• Think about where you sit on the corporate hierarchy and get promoted. Just because we live in a stalker-culture in 2019 doesn’t mean you can’t change things.

• Go work in HR. The one department that might fix all of this is often staffed with people who don’t know, don’t care, or don’t understand what’s going on in the enterprise. There’s no more significant opportunity to fix work than to work — and get promoted — in HR.

The answer is not to work for yourself. Running away from a problem never solved anything, and, also, the problem still follows you. While there’s less monitoring of your activity as a small business owner, you still abdicate many of your rights and freedoms while working with corporate clients.

We fix work by fixing ourselves. Get smart, get educated, and get promoted. There’s no cavalry coming to solve these problems. Want to change the way corporations act? It starts with you.


stalker culture

The internet is a strange place.

Instagram tells me that I might be interested in following your cousin. Facebook thinks your colleagues are my friends. And Twitter shows me snippets of conversations you’re having with strangers I’ve never met.

Why is this happening? How did we get to a place where conversations are public, relationships are measured in avatars, and connections mean nothing at all?

Welcome to stalker culture, where algorithms show you photos of your co-worker’s girlfriend or encourage you to connect with your neighbor’s inlaws.

Or maybe that’s just me.

I’ve come to understand that mobile device and internet usage mirrors Chernobyl — once exposed, you’re altered. The only way to fix your brain chemistry and get back to the real world is to ban the devices and minimize contact with the social web.

But I’m writing a book, and half of what constitutes “writing a book” in 2019 is marketing. So, here’s what I’m doing to participate a little less in stalker culture and make my exposure to my phone and social media a little less toxic.

Use the browser instead of apps.

I don’t have any social apps on my phone, right now. If I want to use Instagram, which has a horrible browser experience, I download the app for a moment and then delete it when I’m done.

Block, block, block.

It’s tough to beat the algorithm, but maybe we can collectively influence its thinking by blocking inappropriate friend requests and muting content recommendations. If your mom comes up in my feed, I’m now blocking your mom. To be honest, I don’t think she’ll notice.

Take it less seriously.

Just because LinkedIn or Facebook thinks I know someone doesn’t mean I know someone. These commands are suggestions, not requirements. And I don’t think anybody gives a shit if I mute them — or block their kids — because I don’t want to see private, intimate conversations.

Be true to your values.

People confuse politeness for connection. For me, I’m done with manners. The moment I feel uncomfortable, the relationship is over without explanation or apology. I’ve been on the other side of that equation, too. Being dropped is hard; however, it’s the kindest thing you can do to someone who has no place in your life.

Let’s end stalker culture.

Stalker culture exists because we let it happen to our society. Maybe it’s too late to turn back time, but we can make an effort to modify our behaviors and avoid undesirable exposure to the toxic elements of the social web.

But please stay tuned — and click on all the links and sign up for the newsletter — for my upcoming book, okay?


Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Ultimate Software, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

I finished a book called “The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More, and Change the Way You Lead Forever” by Michael Bungay Stanier. The book teaches you how to form a habit, so you can adopt a coaching mindset, and then offers seven types of questions to have richer and more fulfilling discussions with your team:

    • The Kickstart Question
    • The Awe Question
    • The Focus Question
    • The Foundation Question
    • The Lazy Question
    • The Strategic Question
    • The Learning Question

Most of this is self-explanatory. In a world of continuous feedback and ongoing coaching, the kickstart question gets you involved in a conversation with your direct report or mentee right away so you talk about what matters most.

The awe question encourages you to dig a little deeper and try to help someone get to the heart of what’s going on mentally or emotionally at work. The focus question asks an individual to figure what’s happening, and the foundation question gets to the heart of what the person wants at work, in relationships, and from you.

I’m lazy, so I loved that there’s a lazy question. The author invites you to ask ‘how can I help?’ without being the first responder in someone else’s life. The strategic question is all about looking at the bigger picture and weighing what matters. Finally, the learning question is all about insight and what we’ve learned, and what we’ll take away, from our experiences.

It’s a good book for your organization to dig deeper and have better conversations with one another.


Those seven questions are helpful, but it’s not like you have hours in your day to sit around and ask all seven questions to every employee in your department. Also, not every employee needs you to ask each question. Some people are in the early stages of their journey while others are further ahead.

Human resources leaders are often scared of people data and believe analytics dashboards are for data scientists; however, people data and analytics can help you have the right coaching conversations with the correct people while understanding core needs and without making assumptions.

Think about it. If we use the framework of those seven questions and map it to the performance management process, some employees may go years without understanding the real challenges in their jobs while others are struggling with their time, attention and focus.

People data and analytics help our leaders have personalized discussions with employees by understanding behavior and trends to create more meaningful experiences. Technology like UltiPro’s Workforce Intelligence tool isn’t just a platform that collects data in a vacuum. The analytics and reporting functionality — combined with predictive, prescriptive, and sentiment analysis — helps leaders understand an employee’s story and have personalized solutions to meet whatever challenges a worker might face.


Create a coaching culture by marrying people data and analytics with a coaching framework of your choice. I enjoyed reading “The Coaching Habit” and think it offers a simple and effective way to craft a working relationship between leaders and employees in seven easy steps.

Whatever you choose, remember that data can enhance relationships by helping HR professionals and leaders get to the heart of an employee’s story and experience faster.

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