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Whenever I come across news reporting on gun violence and mass shootings, which is almost daily, I remind myself what’s happening in our country is not normal.

Gun violence, which is often linked to domestic violence, is terrorism. And terrorism is happening more frequently at work.

Last week, the worst happened. A gunman shot five people in Aurora, IL. Their names are:

Clayton Parks, HR Manager
Trevor Wehner, HR Intern and Student at Northern Illinois University
Russell Beyer, Mold Operator & Union Representative
Vicente Juarez, Forklift operator
Josh Pinkard, Plant Manager

The shooting is the latest in a very long string of attacks by men who are disturbed, agitated, and take out their anger and aggression on colleagues. The individual in Aurora? Shocking nobody, he’s a convicted felon with a history of violence against women.

The GoFund Me for the victims of the Aurora shooting can be found here.

Right now, America’s largest HR association is engaged in a dialogue about how to help convicted felons find work after they are released from prison. It’s called “Getting Talent Back to Work.”

Getting Talent Back to Work is a national pledge open to all organizations that was signed even before the formal announcement by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Restaurant Association, the National Retail Federation, the American Staffing Association, SHRM, Koch Industries, Dave’s Killer Bread Foundation and more. Organizations are pledging to give opportunities to qualified people with a criminal background, deserving of a second chance, which creates successful outcomes for employers, all employees, customers and communities. Ninety-five percent of people in prison will be released—that’s more than 650,000 people every year. As they re-enter society, people with criminal backgrounds are deprived of employment opportunities and organizations are deprived of qualified talent, creating harmful consequences for millions of people.  

The argument goes that, once our neighbors and family members people have paid their debt to society, we should make it easier for them to find jobs and return to normal lives. SHRM believes that HR can be a positive force for change and help these men and women contribute to society.

I’m supportive of this initiative, but there’s more work to do.

While it makes sense for HR professionals to be recruiting advocates — and former criminals are an untapped talent pool — we should also be advocates for colleagues who are victims of domestic violence. We should push for better funding for mental health programs. And we should fight for commonsense gun reform to protect our employees from localized forms of terror, too.

Those three things alone would be game-changing for every American worker and might make a lot of people feel better about working alongside convicted felons.

So, tonight I’m going to say a prayer for the families in Aurora and also pray for SHRM to use its sizable lobbying powers and financial coffers to tackle the problem of criminal justice reform and physical and psychological safety at work.

That’s what HR should be all about.

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Today is Carnival of HR Day, a splendid celebration of writers and thinkers who create fabulous HR content.

This year, blog submissions were down. So, instead of waiting for people to send links, I’ve gone into the community and pulled some of the best articles I’ve read.

That’s right. I still read HR blog posts. Do you?

Sarah Morgan kicks off the carnival with a post about race, dialogue, and debates. www.thebuzzonhr.com/2019/01/30/blackblogsmatter-week-3-i-aint-going-black-forth-with-you/

Doug Shaw wants to know where good ideas come from? consultingartist.com/creative/practicing-part-two

Mollie Lombardi is writing about real-time pay visibility and other lessons from the US federal shutdown. www.linkedin.com/pulse/real-time-pay-visibility-other-shutdown-lessons-mollie-lombardi/

Kris Dunn writes about regrettable career decisions, bold career moves, and criticism. www.hrcapitalist.com/2019/02/the-coldblooded-art-of-owninggetting-in-front-of-huge-career-mistakes.html

Katie Augsburger offers five HR mind-shifts we all need to make. medium.com/@katie_16182/five-hr-mindshifts-we-all-need-to-make-b510cabe1df0

Dorothy Dalton thinks it’s time to KonMari your career. dorothydalton.com/2019/02/02/time-to-konmari-your-career/

Mary Faulkner walks us through her HR career journey. ia-hr.com/how-i-got-here-my-hr-story/

Lars Schmidt tells us how a CHRO should plan their first 100 days. amplifytalent.com/21st-century-hrpost/how-a-chro-should-plan-their-first-100-days

Tim Gardner writes about how he could’ve done more in his career to stop discrimination. www.performanceicreate.com/confronting-discrimination/

Kate Bischoff is doing what she does best and writing about harassment with an eye towards how we manage grief. thrivelawconsulting.com/2019/02/07/like-grief/

Kate is also doing double-duty on the Ultimate Software blog and writing about whistleblowers. blog.ultimatesoftware.com/whistleblowers-are-good-thing/

Don MacPherson describes the future of energy in America by interviewing an expert named Lauren Azar. www.12geniuses.com/12-geniuses-podcast/2019/1/28/the-future-of-energy-in-america

Joey C. Price interviews Esther Weinberg and asks, “Why is dignity such an important aspect of the workplace? Is lack of dignity an unintentional occurrence?” jumpstart-hr.com/180-how-to-develop-and-maintain-dignity-in-the-workplace-ft-esther-weinberg/

Fabulous blogger Sabrina Baker writes about stepping into a new HR role. www.acaciahrsolutions.com/stepping-into-a-new-hr-role-do-this-first/

Prasad Kurian writes about OD Managers and the unconscious of the organization. prasadokurian.blogspot.com/2019/01/od-managers-and-unconscious-of.html

Tim Sackett is big enough to write about himself in the third person and ask, “What Does Tim Sackett Do?” timsackett.com/2019/02/11/what-does-tim-sackett-actually-do/

Kathy Rapp wants to know if money buys happiness? fistfuloftalent.com/2019/02/money-buy-happy-employees.html

Robin Schooling tells us about her work-life balance challenges and managing the care of her aging mother. robinschooling.com/work-and-life-and-everything-in-between/

Wendy Berry gives us an overview of her 2018. wendyberry.com/more-about-my-2018/

Tracie Sponenberg asks, “HR is changing. Are you?” www.linkedin.com/pulse/hr-changing-you-tracie-sponenberg-shrm-scp-sphr/

Brad Galin writes a motivational post about not giving up. www.rollercoasterhr.com/10-percent/

Wally Bock wrote a review of Cal Newport’s new book called “Digital Minimalism: Choosing A Focused Life in A Noisy World.” www.threestarleadership.com/books/what-im-reading-now-digital-minimalism

Melissa Fairman wants you to save your sanity this time of year. melissafairman.com/save-your-sanity-this-year/

Steve Browne is writing about people, people, people, and HR. sbrownehr.com/all-the-verts/

Tamara Rasberry also has a fabulous 2018 year in review. tamaramrasberry.com/2018/12/31/2018-my-hr-year-in-review/

Mike Haberman wants to know if a new minimum wage should come with an education? omegahrsolutions.com/2019/02/should-a-new-minimum-wage-come-with-some-education.html

Renée Robson writes that your organization is drifting and you have no idea. reneerobson.com/2019/02/12/your-organisation-is-drifting-and-youve-got-no-idea/

HR Jazzy says that black blogs matter — Y’all Want to Play? hrjazzy.blog/2019/02/04/blackblogsmatter-yall-want-to-play/

John Sumser is writing about security and the HR center of excellence. www.hrexaminer.com/security-series-7-the-hr-security-center-of-excellence/

Jane Watson would like to help you understand toxic cultures. talentvanguard.com/2019/02/03/understanding-toxic-cultures/

Red Branch Media wants to tell you which social media platforms work best for your company. redbranchmedia.com/blog/social-media-platforms-work-best-your-company/

Ben Eubanks celebrates the 50th episode of his podcast. upstarthr.com/were-only-human-50-hitting-a-milestone-plus-special-guests/

Wendy Dailey talks to Aiko Bethea about #HRUprise and the conversation about HR, women, the LGBTQ+ community and other topics that will fascinate you. mydaileyjourney.com/2019/02/08/hrwonderwomen-episode-4-with-aiko-bethea/

Jonathan Segal is writing about Valentine’s Day and kindness. blog.shrm.org/blog/valentine-s-day-and-kindness

Here’s what Katrina Kibben learned by writing 60 job posts in 60 days. katrinakibben.com/2019/01/15/what-i-learned-job-postings/

John Baldino is writing about choosing happiness, excellence, and intentionality. humareso.com/2019/02/12/really-dont-care/

HR Bartender writes about the next challenge in the workforce—loneliness. www.hrbartender.com/2019/employee-engagement/loneliness-workplace/

Dan Miller at Globoforce writes about storytelling, the Grammy’s and Michelle Obama. resources.globoforce.com/globoforce-blog/michelle-obama-builds-on-storytelling-theme-at-grammys

Claire Petrie also revisits 2018. clairepetriehr.com/2018/12/31/2018-revisited/

Dave Ryan writes about ageism and being a white guy. www.performanceicreate.com/ageism-a-white-man-intro-to-discrimination/

Ginny Engholm writes that the future of content marketing is female. managingeditor.com/future-of-content-marketing-feminine/

Carlos Escobar helps us to be more patient, say thank you, and contribute a little more to the world. cescobar.com/2019/02/01/5-reads-how-to-be-a-more-patient-person-say-thank-you-no-excuses-how-to-exclude-people-from-projects-and-more/

Achievers submitted an interview with Lauren Brittingham of BayHealth Medical Center. www.achievers.com/blog/2019/01/a-recognition-moment-an-interview-with-lauren-brittingham-of-bayhealth-medical-center/

William Tincup shares the top 25 reasons the HCM industry wants Workday to implode. www.linkedin.com/pulse/top-25-reasons-hcm-industry-wants-workday-implode-william-tincup/

Paul Hebert believes that ageism is real and it’s your fault. fistfuloftalent.com/2019/02/ageism-real-fault.html

Madeline Laurano gives us a look ahead at talent acquisition. www.aptituderesearchpartners.com/2018/12/07/talent-acquisition-a-look-ahead/

The Recruiting Animal interviews Robert Smith, not from The Cure. www.blogtalkradio.com/animal/2019/02/06/robert-smith-partner-at-rockstarfindercom

The folks at Limeade want you to know why they love Tim Gunn. Spoiler alert: he’s keynoting their conference. www.limeade.com/2019/02/why-we-love-tim-gunn/

Jeanette Bronée wants you to create remarkable relationships. pathforlife.com/create-remarkable-relationships/

Yvonne LaRose writes about OD and Title VII Consulting. consultantdesk.blogspot.com/2019/02/od-and-title-vii-consulting.html

Greg Poulin gives us an article about HR and benefits trends for 2019. medium.com/@goodlyapp/latest-hr-myth-busted-by-human-resource-experts-14b67e05a1a3

Nicole Roberts wants to motivate us and tells us to do it, anyway. hrwithoutego.com/2019/01/09/do-it-anyway/

Ryan Estis shares the traits of mindful leaders. ryanestis.com/personal-growth/the-mindful-leader-inside-ey/

Neil Morrison leaves us with this thought: we need to embrace the truths that hurt. change-effect.com/2019/02/11/we-need-to-embrace-the-truths-that-hurt/

Like what you read? Want to read more? Check out the Carnival of HR twitter account and write something interesting for next month’s edition!

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I recently welcomed Dr. Julena M. Bonner to my podcast, Let’s Fix Work. Dr. Bonner is an Assistant Professor in the Management Department of the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University.  She recently wrote a research paper on unethical employee behavior and creating an ethical environment in your company. In layman’s terms that means she researched why employees do things like spit in people’s food or assault customers who mistreat them.

Not only did we talk about why employees participate in this kind of bad behavior, but Dr. Bonner also provided some sound advice for employers, managers, and organizations that will help them mitigate it too. And guess what? It all comes down to company culture and ethical work environments.

So how can organizations be sure the employees they hire won’t spit in a customer’s food? Dr. Bonner says first we must, “disrupt this process.”  Her research found that companies that cultivate and maintain an ethical culture, a culture where employees perceive that the policies, practices, and procedures strongly underscore ethical principle, can help disrupt this intuitive process of doing bad things. Why is this so? Dr. Bonner says because by being surrounded by ethical policies and practices, people tend to think more naturally about the ethics of the situation.

The next question that comes up after learning how to mitigate this bad behavior is, “Well, how can we create an ethical environment for our company? We do have an ethical code of conduct. That should be enough. Right?”

Not exactly. As Dr. Bonner points out, it’s important to understand that having a statement of conduct or ethical code of conduct does not mean you have an ethical working environment.

True ethical cultures where informal values are exemplified come from leaders, from the top down. That’s right, folks, ethical environments start with leaders.

Leaders play an important part in developing and maintaining an ethical culture. Dr. Bonner explains that’s why it’s so important for organizational leaders to develop themselves as ethical leaders. In doing so, they put themselves in a position to role model ethical behavior, which in turn builds an ethical climate.

Dr. Bonner summed it up best when she said, “When a work environment has a strong culture of ethical behavior to your formal policies and informal values exemplified by other employees and managers, employees are more likely to control their reactions and behave professionally when they’re mistreated by the customer.”

The bottom line is this: Ethical culture can help mitigate employee responses to customers who mistreat them. And Dr. Bonner is optimistic about this approach.

So is it time for you to fix your work environment? If so, listen to my full conversation with Dr. Julena M. Bonner.  In addition to discussing ethical environments and how to foster good employee behavior, we talk in-depth about moral philosophy, Dr. Bonner’s research, and more. Listen to our full conversation here.

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Super excited to announce that Ultimate Software is sponsoring Let’s Fix Work for the next few months.

Ultimate Software is an American technology company that develops and sells UltiPro, a cloud-based human capital management solution for businesses. That’s payroll, HRIS, talent management, engagement, employee experience, and all the nerdy stuff that goes along with getting you paid and making sure you love your job.

It’s a significant achievement because Ultimate Software has never partnered with a podcaster before, and they trust me enough to collaborate on Let’s Fix Work over the next 12 weeks. We have fabulous guests lined up including Armen Berjikly and Rana Hobbs, along with Kevin Kruse and Dan Pink.

(Okay, maybe not Dan Pink. His people keep turning me down, but, nevertheless, I’m persisting!)

I’m also eager to spread the world about Ultimate Software’s free HR workshops where you can improve your skills and earn HRCI, SHRM and APA recertification credits.

It’s so important to stay current in the field of HR, and these free and local courses will help you learn and network at the same time. Click here for more information —> www.ultimatesoftware.com/LFW

So, please help me welcome Ultimate Software to the Let’s Fix Work family. They’ve been named as the best places to work in tech, they scored 100% on Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 16th Annual Scorecard on LGBTQ Workplace Equality, and they are a Great Place to Work® Certified Company.

It’s an honor to work with an organization that’s walking the talk and fixing work!

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What is SHRM?

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest HR professional society, representing 300,000 members in more than 165 countries. You can find their website here: shrm.org

What is the purpose of SHRM?

According to the SHRM website, “SHRM provides education, thought leadership, certification, community, and advocacy to enhance the practice of human resource management and the effectiveness of HR professionals in the organizations and communities they serve.”

Where is the SHRM headquarters?

The SHRM headquarters are in Alexandria, VA. The SHRM address is 1800 Duke St # 100, Alexandria, VA 22314. The last time I was there, it was an office building with a small bookstore in the lobby.

You can find them on a map here: goo.gl/maps/corKMCPRARu

Who runs SHRM?

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP is the President & CEO. Mary Mohney is the Chief Financial Officer. Emily M. Dickens, J.D. is the Corporate Secretary and Chief of Staff. Jeaneen Andrews-Feldman is the Chief Marketing and Experience Officer. James L. Banks, Jr., J.D. is the General Counsel. Nick Schacht, SHRM-SCP is the Chief Global Development Officer. Alexander Alonso, Ph.D., SHRM-SCP is the Chief Knowledge Officer. Jessica Perry is the Chief Digital Officer. Marc Goldberg is the Chief Technology Officer. Wendi Safstrom is the Executive Director of the SHRM Foundation. Lisa Connell is the Executive Director of HRPS. Lynn Shotwell is VP and Head of Global Outreach & Operations. Achal Khanna is the CEO of SHRM India & Business Head of Asia Pacific and MENA. Mike Aitken is SVP of Membership.

Sean Sullivan is the new Chief HR Officer of SHRM, which has to be the most meta-HR job out there.

You can find the leadership email addresses here: www.shrm.org/about-shrm/Pages/default.aspx

Who is on the SHRM Board of Directors in 2019?

Right now, the Chair is David Windley, SHRM-SCP. Other directors include Coretha M. Rushing, SHRM-SCP, Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, Janet Alberti, Melissa Anderson, Sally Hornick Anderson, SHRM-SCP, Michelle Bottomley, Steve Browne, SHRM-SCP, Thomas W. Derry, Johanna Söderström, Patrick Wright, Ph.D., and Gretchen Zech, SHRM-SCP.

You can reach the group at Board@SHRM.org with any questions.

Is SHRM political?

Depends on who you ask, but they tend to mimic and mirror the US Chamber of Commerce in many ways.  In advance of the SOTU, SHRM just published a report about the “world of work” and immigration.

Why should I have a SHRM membership?

A SHRM membership gives you access to content, courses, materials news and conferences to help improve your core competencies in HR. Additionally, a SHRM membership provides access to a community of like-minded individuals who care about the field of Human Resources.

Does a national SHRM membership cover my SHRM state council’s dues?

No, you must join your local and state SHRM chapters separately.

How much are SHRM membership dues?

SHRM Professional Membership is $209/year. Global membership is $95 if you live outside of the United States, and you can pay in Rupees.

What is a SHRM certification? How do you become SHRM certified?

SHRM offers testing and credentialing for business professionals who demonstrate an aptitude in the field of human resources. You must pass an exam to become SHRM certified; from there, you can recertify using continuing education credits.

Which SHRM test should I take?

There are two types of SHRM certification: the SHRM-CP and the SHRM-SCP. You can learn more here: www.shrm.org/certification/

What is the SHRM Certification test like?

According to the SHRM website, “The SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP exams contain two types of multiple choice questions: stand-alone knowledge-based items that assess a candidate’s knowledge and understanding of factual information, and scenario-based situational judgment items that assess a candidate’s judgment, application, and decision-making skills.”

See their webpage for more information: www.shrm.org/certification/

Is the SHRM certification the same as an HR certification?

No, there are various types of HR certification tests. Please visit the websites of HRCI, CEBS, APA or explore getting your MBA, which is the ultimate HR certification.

Why is the SHRM certification important?

SHRM certification is essential if an employer asks for the credentials in a job description.

Where to buy the SHRM learning system?

You can buy the SHRM Learning system anywhere online or on Amazon.

What is a SHRM conference?

SHRM conferences are structured events where business-focused speakers provide insights and ideas to audience members who want to learn more about the topics relate to the field of HR.

Events are open to members and non-members for various rates. Find SHRM events and how much SHRM conferences cost here: www.shrm.org/events/pages/default.aspx

Where is the 2019 SHRM Conference?

The 2019 Annual SHRM Conference & Exhibition is in Las Vegas, NV.

Where is the 2020 SHRM Conference?

The 2020 Annual SHRM Conference & Exhibition is in San Diego, CA.

What are SHRM webcasts?

Per the website, “SHRM webcasts cover important HR and workplace topics such as hiring, recruiting, onboarding, certification, labor laws, open enrollment, benefits, interviewing and more.”

You can learn more here: www.shrm.org/learningandcareer/learning/webcasts/pages/default.aspx

Are SHRM webcasts free?

Many if not all of them are free.

Per the website, “Most SHRM Webcasts are available for three months after their live broadcast. Unless otherwise noted, these programs are approved to offer professional development credits (PDC) for SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP credentials. SHRM webcasts are also approved by the HR Certification Institute for recertification credit hours. Programs approved for HRCI business credit or Global HR credits are indicated after the program date.”

You do not need to be a member to listen to these webcasts.

Can SHRM help me calculate a turnover rate?

If you are a member, you have access to information on how to calculate the turnover rate.

Can SHRM help me document reasonable suspicion?

Yes, if you are a member, SHRM can help you document reasonable suspicion. Here’s the article.

Want more SHRM information? Visit shrm.org today. Please send HR-related questions to hello@letsfixwork.com and Laurie will try to answer them.

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Are you spending a lot of hours pitching to people who, in reality, are never going to buy your services? If so, the answer to this problem is simple, make it easy for people to buy from you. But how the hell do you do that?

Recently Hung Lee, founder of WorkShape.io, joined me on my podcast to discuss the real currency of business: relationships. Hung and I also had an honest chat about what it takes to actually make a sale.  And guess what? It’s really hard to sell stuff. Today I wanted to touch on something eye-opening that Hung shared with me and it will help you to sell with more ease.

First, there are two main problems that come up as it relates to customer acquisition: familiarity bias and business credibility. Hung says, “Customers need to discover you very easily.” One part of the customer acquisition discovery process is that buyer and seller simply don’t know each other. The customer isn’t familiar with you or your work.  You may be using mailing lists or doing outbound calls to try to make connections. But your success rate at converting these potential leads using outbound strategies is close to zero: zip, zilch, nada.  

Furthermore, if you have no credibility (aka social proof) that you are a reputable company (because you are a new business), you’re out. A customer won’t give you the time of day. So when new businesses use the outbound approach, they can’t overcome those first two problems, familiarity bias and social proof.

To circumvent these problems, “You have to reverse the flow of information,” says Hung.  He put it like this, think about where your energy is going when you do an outbound call; you are pushing information out. You need to be pulling customers towards you instead.

So how do you draw potential customers to you?

Hung says by using inbound marketing, you can create spaces, either physical or digital, where your audience can actually come to you, unexplored and on their own.

When crafting your inbound marketing content, use topics that are interesting or important to your target market. You can answer some of their frequently asked questions or provide information that is useful to them in some way. Some examples of inbound marketing content can include: blog posts, podcast episodes, articles or downloadable content (reports, infographics or checklists).  

Bottom line: If you can encounter a potential customer in a neutral space, that’s when you can start building a relationship. More importantly, that’s when you can give yourself an opportunity to have a future conversation that will lead to business.

“In a connected world, people need to be very conscious of where the flow of information is and if you’re a businessperson or an entrepreneur, you need to be standing at the confluence where that information flows for your particular market or industry.  You know you can have flaws in every single thing you’re doing. But if you stand in the right place, you’re going to be alright.” ~ Hung Lee

Whether you’re an entrepreneur just starting out or a seasoned careerist who is looking for strategies to sell your products or services with ease, listen to this episode of Let’s Fix Work.

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Can HR fire me?

The answer is yes and no.

You can be fired for nearly any reason and at any time as an American with few exceptions. However, it’s rare for HR to fire you.

If you are fired, the decision to fire you comes from someone else. A supervisor or manager can fire you for just about any reason. An HR professional will coordinate the process and make sure the reason you are fired is grounded in legal reasoning. They are also there to explain your rights and benefits when you leave the organization.

HR professionals rarely have the authority to fire an employee summarily.

Can HR force my manager or supervisor to fire me?

Some people run afoul of the HR department, but your local human resources representative cannot force your manager to fire you. If you are fired because HR doesn’t like you, it most likely means that your manager didn’t like you.

Often, HR is a scapegoat.

Can HR fire me if I am a whistleblower?

The Whistleblower Protection Act can shield federal workers from retaliation. However, this law doesn’t apply to private-sector workers, many of whom are fired for reasons that are, on the surface, unrelated to their whistleblower activities. There may be state protections or other ways private citizens have rights and privileges. Contact an employment lawyer or attorney for more information.

But, again, I can’t stress this enough: HR professionals rarely make a decision to fire anybody. In most organizations, the decision to fire an employee is made by a supervisor or manager. The local HR department clears the determination with the legal department or outside counsel and simply processes the paperwork. When the decision to fire someone has been made, HR can offer limited support and explain the next steps to the affected employee.

Should HR support workers? Of course, but sometimes that’s not enough to protect you from being fired.

Can I blame HR for being fired?

Sure, but it’s not always fair or accurate.

I hate HR.

Maybe you should hate the corporatist agenda that puts a bureaucratic layer between you and your supervisor due to outdated, 20th-century labor laws and vote for federal and state candidates who will have your back. Or maybe you should go work in HR.

Have you got HR questions? Email Laurie at hello@letsfixwork.com and she’ll try to answer them on her blog.

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Did you know that a woman gives up an average of four times her salary every year she is out of the workforce? That’s a staggering statistic, isn’t it?  Well, it is just one of the many insights Kathryn Sollman, speaker, career coach, and author, shared with me on a recent episode of Let’s Fix Work. Kathryn is on a mission to show women that there is flexibility to be found in the workforce. And that you can find a work-life balance that suits your lifestyle, one in which you don’t feel the necessity to step away from work completely while you raise a family, care for elderly parents, or live life, just a little.

Women who are newly stepping into the workforce are doing so in an era where the messaging regarding ambition is redefined. Kathryn explains, “Young women, as they are graduating from college, business school, or law school, are thinking about how they can have flexibility down the road and choosing carefully the jobs that are more likely to offer them that.”

Kathryn went on to say this, “When you talk about women and work, there seems to be a bias that you’re only ambitious if you’re aiming for the C-Suite. I took issue with that because I think that there are lots of smart and talented and ambitious women who are looking for a different kind of work paradigm and one that allows them to more capably blend work and life.”

But what happens if you are already in the workforce and now want a more flexible schedule? You can either find a job that offers a schedule that fits your lifestyle or broach the subject with your boss. Kathryn has some advice for women who do want to bring up the topic of work-life balance to a boss or superior.

First, rather than ask to telecommute 2-3 days a week in a casual tone, craft a proposal instead. “Create an actual proposal like you would pitch a client.  You have to really cover all the bases, anticipate all of the challenges and the obstacles that your boss will put in front of you,” Kathryn says.

Kathryn also urges women to be clear. Describe what kind of flexibility you’re looking for and avoid stating murky phrases like, “I just want to work in a more flexible way.” That could mean a million things. You’ve got to really describe what you’re looking to do and outline how things are going to get done.

Finally, Kathryn says, “The last thing to include in your proposal is an offer for a trial period. Put that out there that you’re willing to give the new working schedule a trial for three months and then see how it goes.”

If we take a step back or rather a bird’s eye view of what Kathryn is saying, she is asking women to be a little introspective, to think about what they really want and what they really need and then devise a plan to take action and make it happen.

And of course, you may be thinking, “Well, what do I do if my proposal gets rejected?” You can, of course, decide whether you still need a full-time job (one that offers benefits and salary). If you do, there are many options. You can still have a full-time job, but one that’s more flexible (somewhere else). You could also work to become a full-time freelancer. In fact, Kathryn shared with me that, “There are studies that say within a year, most freelancers earn more than they did when they were working full time.” There are options. Think about what you want in your life, create a plan, take action, and let’s fix work.

To listen to my complete conversation with Kathryn about flexibility in work to fit your life, click here.

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Jason Greer, founder of Greer Consulting Inc. and labor relations expert, recently joined me on an episode of Let’s Fix Work. We discussed the state of labor relations and unions in the United States today. While we covered many facets of labor relations, I wanted to bring to light, in a blog post, what it takes to decertify a union. For some background on Jason and why we were talking about decertifying unions; Jason is a Gen-Xer with a slightly different take on unions. He believes in protecting the working class. He also believes a union is the wrong way to protect your interests.

First, the technical stuff: If you have a union that is certified under the National Labor Relations Board, employees have the right to do a Decertification Campaign. With this type of campaign there is a window of 90 to 100 days before the end of a collective bargaining agreement by which a Decertification petition can be filed with the NLRB.

Decertification refers to the process where the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) allows employees to call for a special election to get rid of the union as their “exclusive representative.” (1)

And now here’s a common sticking point for many employees:  Jason explains if an employee goes to their human resources manager and tells them they want to decertify the union, HR cannot get involved. HR can point the employee to several resources, but that’s where their assistance ends (at least for now).

The next phase of the Decertification process is that the employee (let’s call him the petitioner) will have his fellow employees (of at least 30 percent) sign the petition saying that they want to decertify the union.

Generally speaking, the employee is going to want to get about 60 to 70 percent of those employees on board before he actually files the Decertification petition with the NLRB. Once he has that, he can file the Decertification petition.

Following the petition submission, the secret ballot election can take place. This is when employees will determine whether or not they want to remain part of the union.

But it’s not all rainbows and unicorns…

Here is what is going to happen to the petitioner that started the campaign: The Union is going to do everything in their power to dig up dirt on his or her personal history. Jason explains that he has seen unions locate cell phone records, computer information, and do all the groundwork in terms of hiring private detectives to dig up all the dirt on the petitioner. Why? Well, because now they want to do a smear campaign, because said petitioner is at the heart of the Decertification campaign. The union will do whatever they can to make the petitioner lose all credibility.

And that is terribly depressing.

Remember, the employer can’t get involved and can’t protect the employee. The employees just want to be heard and have a voice. And, the Union is doing whatever they can to make the employees running the campaign look bad.  

There is some good news, a silver lining. Once the petition is filed with the NLRB, the management team can get involved. That’s when consultants, like Jason, can come in and help. In fact, Jason and his team oftentimes will act as an intermediary between the employees and unions – doing what they can to build back up relationships while protecting employees’ best interests at heart.

If you are unsure as to whether decertifying a union is right for you, or you simply want to start to have a conversation with your employer or union, here is some sage advice: Start the conversation early about what you want and voice your expectations. If you do so, maybe you won’t need a union, need to decertify an existing union, or even bring on an intermediary. What you need most is to have a voice, to be brave, and to begin the conversation.

“There is strength in being proactive,” says Jason. And ultimately, you want to recover (or even circumvent) a broken relationship following a union or employee dispute.

Jason and I both agree that we fix work by fixing ourselves, so if you’re interested in the state of unions in 2019 or you want to hear from an African American man who talks about civil rights and busting unions from a slightly different perspective, listen to our full conversation here.

Sources:
(1) How to decertify a union, Labor Relations Institute, Inc. lrionline.com/decertification/

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Let’s Fix Work is underwritten by WorkHuman, sponsored by Globoforce. Visit WorkHuman.com and use code WorkHumanLFW for a $100 off discount.

When I think of today’s guest, I think of her as a superb expert in career advice. I am happy to welcome to Let’s Fix Work, Kathryn Sollmann. Kathryn is a speaker, coach, and author.  In her new book, Ambition Redefined, she encourages independence from “lean-in” and “break the glass ceiling” language. She wants you to find your own brand of ambition and success, take advantage of today’s more flexible workplace, and chart alternative career paths that accommodate and fund the life that you want and you deserve.

One of Kathryn’s missions is to show women that there is a lot of flexibility to be found in the workforce today. So if you want to find balance but don’t know where to start, and if you deal with childcare issues or aging parents and you’re sick of the way the rat race doesn’t take care of you, then sit back and listen to this episode of Let’s Fix Work.  

In this episode you’ll hear:

  1. Kathryn’s work as a career coach to women over the last 15 years
  2. What the book, Ambition Redefined, is all about
  3. Finding flexible work that fits your life
  4. How the message around side hustles and aggressive entrepreneurship is hurting the workforce
  5. Kathryn shares an example of a client who was told to lean into the system, just couldn’t swing it, and eventually found a great mix of flexible work, but rewarding work as well
  6. Opting out of Corporate America and the dangers of not working
  7. How to broach the topic of work-life balance with a boss
  8. The six different kinds of work flexibility

Kathryn said it best when she said, “There are lots of smart, talented, and ambitious women who are looking for a different kind of work paradigm. One that allows them to more capably blend work and life.”  If you come away with anything from this episode, I hope you come away with knowing that you can find some kind of flexible work that fits your life!

Resources from this episode:
Website: www.kathrynsollmann.com/

Twitter: twitter.com/kathrynsollmann

Facebook: www.facebook.com/9LivesForWomen/

LinkedIn:  www.linkedin.com/in/kathrynsollmann/

Instagram: www.instagram.com/kathrynsollmann/

Book: Ambition Redefined: Why the Corner Office Doesn’t Work for Every Woman & What to Do Instead

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