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An Invitation to Empathy …one year later

Posted By Editor, Laurie, Tuesday, November 7, 2017
Updated: Friday, November 3, 2017

By Brett Culp – HR West 2018 Keynote

Last November, I sat in a living room with 10 people of diverse viewpoints sharing their hearts. They talked openly about their struggles and fears. Tricia and I were invited to facilitate the discussion, but we cried right along with them.

I wish you could have been there. My heart was filled with hope watching these people build connection with each other from love, even when they knew they didn’t agree on everything.

Healthy relationships and communities are built on speaking and listening well. I believe the events of the last year are an opportunity for all of us to do this together.  Right now, some of our deepest beliefs and anxieties are coming to the surface.

Whatever your opinions are, whomever you voted for, you have a choice:

Continue reading on the HR West Blog.

Tags:  empathy  Employee Engagement  Engagement  HR BLOG  HR leadership  HR Management  HR West 2018  Keynote  Leadership  listening. 

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Turn Your Office Breaks Into Recharge Time

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Monday, April 4, 2016


One of the things I love about working from home is lunch. I get to step away from my desk, even for a few moments and relax. I also like making salads for lunch and it’s so much easier to do when I’m at home. I actually feel like I’m splurging.

When I go to a client site, I’ll often bring my lunch because it’s better for me than fast food. But do I pack a salad? Rarely. But during this year’s HR West conference I got the best piece of swag that might just change that.

 It’s a salad container. Isn’t that cool? There’s a small cup in the top for salad dressing and a fork that snaps to the side. Inside the container were a couple of bands and a running pack for your phone and earbuds. Best, of all, it’s the perfect size for my tote bag.

The company that gave it to me is Lahlouh. They help companies deliver their marketing messages to customers. And they were at HR West because they realize that messaging extends to employees.

I couldn’t resist sharing this with you because it might be a great logo item for employees. Or a nice logo product for volunteers. Trust me, I know how hard it can be to find unique promotional items. I also thought that, instead of serving the traditional box lunch at a company event, it could work as an option to serve lunch in a logo salad cup. For example, this Asian Quinoa Salad or Taco Salad would be perfect.

Then once you get the salad cup home, find some great recipes for yourself. Right after getting my cup, The Muse ran this post on “52 Creative (and Easy!) Lunch Ideas That’ll Make Your Co-workers Jealous.” The lentil and goat cheese salad looks yummy! 

This post might seem frivolous to some. Lunch is an important part of our workday. It’s a time to step away from our desks and recharge a little. We need to take breaks during the workday. Part of that recharge is eating properly. I’m not anti-eating out, but bringing some tasty healthy eats from home can be wonderful for ourselves and our wallets. It can make us feel energized and ready to take on the afternoon. 

I’m really looking forward to packing my next lunch. That’s what it’s about. Finding that container or recipe that makes us want to spend a few moments in the kitchen creating something fabulous. Then looking forward to actually taking those lunch and office breaks so we can recharge and be more productive in the long-run.

About the Author
Hi! I’m Sharlyn Lauby, the HR Bartender...  As a human resources professional, I’ve always felt like my colleagues and employees wanted me to be like their neighborhood bartender – that friendly face who’s there when you need them.  After a long day at the office, they listen, laugh with you, occasionally offer advice and, when you need it, give you that encouragement to go out and do what you need to do.

Read more about Sharlyn Lauby, your HR Bartender

Tags:  employee  HR  HR Bartender  HR Blog  HR Management  HR West  Human Resources  leadership 

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Complying with California Disability Laws - Don't Leave it Just to HR or Risk the Consequences

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Tuesday, March 29, 2016

By Joe Wilson

If an injured, sick, or mentally ill employee is terminated, demoted, written up or otherwise has adverse action taken against them, they may bring disability based claims. This includes disability discrimination, failure to engage in the interactive process, and failure to provide reasonable accommodations.  All managers, and not just human resources, need to be aware of an employer's duties under California law.  

First, managers must know that California law is broad, all encompassing, and meant to protect employees.  A disability is a physical or mental condition that limits a major life activity.  Major life activities include walking, eating, breathing, working, and the law states that it is meant to be broadly construed.

Employees with temporary conditions, such as a broken wrist, are also protected. Employees who have no problems, but are perceived to have a disability or mental condition are also protected.  You can't simply fire someone because you think they are crazy.  Well, you can, but if you do you'll be paying both them and their attorney a large amount for doing so.  

When an employee has a qualifying disability, medical condition or mental condition, employers must make reasonable accommodations.  Reasonable accommodations can be anything, including time off, shift changes, and transfer to a different position.  The big factor is whether it is reasonable, and courts look to whether a company has the resources to provide the accommodation.  The company's defense to failing to provide reasonable accommodations is that it imposes an undue burden on them.  That is a high threshold to meet, and employers cannot use that defense unless they have first engaged in the interactive process.  

To find out what type of accommodation needs to be made, employers are required to engage in the interactive process.  This is an informal process, where the employer simply needs to find out what problems the employee has, and what type of accommodation they may need.  Employers do not have to simply acquiesce to the employee's requests, they can offer alternatives, but the important aspect is that employers must engage.   

It is surprising how often I hear about a manager who knows their employee to be sick, hurt or otherwise protected under California disability laws, and instead of engaging in the interactive process or talking to HR, they take some type of adverse action. Don't let your managers be ignorant.  At the end of the day it could cost the company a significant amount of money and goodwill.  

About the Author
Joseph C. Wilson is the founding partner of Curiale Wilson LLP. His practice is focused on employment defense litigation, including misclassification, wage and hour claims, discrimination, wrongful termination, harassment, and California Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) actions. In his practice, Joe has successfully represented clients in both state and federal courts, before the California Labor commissioner, the National Labor Relations Board, and in arbitration. Joe is licensed to practice before all the Courts of the State of California, the United States District Courts for the Northern and Central Districts, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. 


Tags:  california  compliance  disability laws  HR  HR blog  HR Law  HR management  human resources  NCHRA 

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Fair Hiring Practices: How To See The Human Behind The Record

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Wednesday, February 24, 2016


By Max Wesman, VP of GoodHire - HR West 2016 Power Station Sponsor

Nearly 70 million people in the United States have criminal records. That means you will almost certainly encounter job candidates with records at some point in your career.

How you (and the hiring managers you work with) react will likely depend on your understanding of the laws that govern hiring, the candidates’ openness, and something that can’t be overlooked: feelings.

A Charged Issue: Criminal Records In Hiring

For most people, discussing criminal history is, frankly, uncomfortable. Think about it: The incident probably represents a low point in the candidate’s life, and few people relish discussing their lowest moments in a job interview.

At the same time, even seasoned HR professionals and hiring managers tread carefully when discussing criminal history out of their own unease, concern about applicable laws – or both.

Twenty states, including California, and many cities have passed “ban-the-box” laws that govern how and at what point in the hiring process employers can ask about criminal records. In San Francisco, for example, employers can’t ask about convictions until after an initial live interview.

As a result, a background check often serves as the first mention of a criminal record.

Background Checks: A Useful But Limited Tool

Having run tens of thousands of background checks over the past three years, I’ve seen first hand how employment screening can help companies build great teams. But I’ve also seen that it’s far from a perfect solution.

That’s because, without context, records in a background check tell only part of the story – that a conviction occurred. The records say nothing about why or what has happened since.

Without that context, employers run the risk of excluding otherwise qualified candidates. Worse, excluding people with criminal records from consideration could attract unwanted attention from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which has strengthened its focus on the disparate impact of policies on protected classes.

Context Is Everything: EEOC Guidance And Hiring Best Practices

A survey of California employers found that most are more willing to consider hiring a candidate when they know the nature of the offense. For example, 84% said they’d be willing to hire someone with a misdemeanor offense.

That openness turns out to be a good thing, because considering individual circumstances and context around a criminal record is a best practice for avoiding EEOC scrutiny. Other best practices include considering the nature and gravity of the offense, the time that has passed since the offense or completion of the sentence, and the nature of the job sought.

Asking for context, which may show rehabilitation, good character, or successful performance of similar work after the conviction, gives you a more complete picture. And it helps you avoid dismissing an otherwise qualified candidate – a big consideration in a hot labor market.

Yet the question of how to get that context brings us right back to the original problem: people’s reluctance to discuss criminal records.

A Technology Assist: Comments For Context

Here in Northern California, we tend to look to technology for answers. And I believe technology can help smooth the way for these necessary, though difficult, conversations.

Giving hiring managers a tech-based way to request context around background check results makes the request simply part of the process. Think of it as similar to requesting e-consent to run the background check in the first place.

Technology can also help on the candidate side. A solution that lets candidates enter comments directly on their background check results helps them tell their circumstances outside of the stressful job interview environment. In an ideal solution, the context provided would stay with the candidates’ results, so anyone authorized to view those results would get the same information.

At GoodHire, we’re working on this challenge now as part of our commitment to fostering trust, safety, and fairness throughout the hiring process.

Soon, employers who use GoodHire services will be able to ask candidates to add comments for context through the GoodHire product. And, if candidates have already added comments as part of their own job search process, any authorized employer who runs a background check through GoodHire will see the context provided.

Rehumanizing Employment Screening

According to the National Employment Law Project, many companies that hire people with records find them to be model employees. The group quotes Brad Friedlander, CEO of Red Restaurant Group, as saying that people with criminal records “are frequently the most dedicated and conscientious. A lot of doors are shut to them, so when someone gives them an opportunity, they make the most of it.”

An innovative technology solution that promotes context on background check results can help employers get a more complete picture of their candidates. It doesn’t necessarily take the place of in-person discussions, but it can make those conversations easier to start.

In doing so, it promises to help employers see the human in their potential resources.

Want to learn more about comments for context?
Look for team GoodHire at HR West 2016

About the Author

Max Wesman has led GoodHire from its launch in 2012. Today, GoodHire serves more than 23,000 businesses, and Max oversees all aspects of its services, from strategy to product development and design, to legal compliance, to customer support. Before joining GoodHire, Max managed and launched enterprise solutions and small business software products for Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft. He received an MBA from the University of California Berkeley's Haas School of Business and undergraduate degrees from the Wharton School and the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania.


Tags:  background checks  EEOC  fair hiring  fair labor standards act  good hiring  goodhire  Hiring  HR  HR Blog  HR Management  HR West 2016  Human Resources  Max Wesman  NCHRA  Recruiting 

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How to Spot Your Next Rock Star Employee

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Heard that before, right?  Well, there is a reason for that: because this advice is valid.


Having the right team on board can take your company to the next level and bring huge success – just like how hiring the wrong people can slow down your progress and sometimes, shut down your business.


You also probably see everyday businesses having enormous success, despite the odds against them, and businesses that struggle when they have everything! The difference between the two is the people! With the right people beside you, you can do anything. Right? 


That's all great, but how do you find the right kind of "rock star employees" who can catapult your business? It starts with the recruitment process, but that still takes having some skill and attention in the mix to be able to to identify the candidates who have that rock star potential.


The Four Qualities of a Rock Star Employee:

1. Strength of Character and Determination

You can often uncover someone's potential simply with examining the way they handled tough situations in their previous jobs.


It's not the situation itself that can determine if you're interviewing your next rock star, but the tactics the employee used to handle a difficult situation.


What was he or she thinking when making that particular decision, what are his or her goals and what did he or she learn from that particular experience?


All these questions give you a some insight into his way of thinking and if he has the ability to get things done. This will help you decide if he's the right person for your own business.


2. Curiosity

Curiosity is never out of fashion. A person who has the curiosity to discover information beyond his or her job description or to continually learn new skills, is the one you need on your team.


It's difficult to assess how curious someone is in an interview. However, if you pay attention to the questions he or she asks about your company, your business strategy and where you plan to take the company, you can quickly decide if the potential candidate is really interested and passionate about your business – or is just courteous.


3. Passion


With so much noise around you and so many things to do and think about, you need to make sure to surround yourself with passionate people.


Passionate people dedicate themselves to your business, find solutions, think things through and see things ahead of time. These are the rock stars you need on your team.


4. Empathy and Teamwork


We live in a collaborative world, where the work of a team can make or break a business.


You want your rock star employees to work in teams, to be part of the team and to have empathy. You want them to understand and collaborate with their teams, to prove they put themselves in others' shoes before making a decision. These types of employees pay attention and encourage teamwork. In other words, you want your rock star employees to show leadership skills and inspire people.


Finding your next rock star employee is never easy. It requires a lot of work on your part, an understanding and a clear vision of where you want to take your business – and the people you need beside you.



About the Author

ARS is a background screening company known for delivering robust and comprehensive background check services. Our clients include local government, healthcare, technology and banking organizations. 


ARS has established integrations with leading HR technologies for a seamless hiring experience.  As a result, clients gain more insight into their applicant's background, eliminate inefficiencies and vastly improve time to hire.




Tags:  ars  background  check  EMPLOYEES  employment  HIRING  HR  HR blog  MANAGEMENT  NCHRA  RECRUITING  screening  TIPS 

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