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Next Concept HR Magazine focused on What's Next for what matters most to HR. Insightful and timely, it covers best practice trends and presents new ideas and concepts to keep readers up-to-date with the latest in our field. Voices from our nationwide community contribute to a wide range of topics. Articles include valuable practice resources, news and views to provide training, legal and legislative developments, info on quality service providers, and opportunities to form career-long networks and partnerships.


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Engage Employees by Creating a Learning Culture

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Monday, September 17, 2018
Updated: Monday, September 17, 2018

Employee Engagement Summer Series_banner5 Steps to Reskilling Your Workforce!

*** Contributed by: Shelley Osborne, Head of L&D, Udemy ***

It’s become cliché to say your company has a “fast-paced environment.” The phrase used to be something only found in job descriptions for tech startups, but now it pretty much applies to all organizations.

*** Read the final article in our Employee Engagement Summer Series >> here!


Tags:  company culture  employee engagement  reskill  workforce 

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Are your Baby Boomers retiring?

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Wednesday, September 5, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Meet Gloria Dunn-Violin  — Talent Strategist & OD Consultant, Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, and Author. 

 She is also the leader of the upcoming coNCHRA webinar: Reframing Talent: New Strategies to Fill Job Specs


Join us, Friday, September 7th at 12 pm, to learn how to expand your reality about the potential of talent and how to redesign jobs, as well as your company culture, to attain desired results!  Gloria’s focus will be on incorporating the talents and skills of a multigenerational workforce that includes older employees ready to retire.

Watch Gloria's introduction (video) and find out how to register here


Tags:  babyboomers  company culture  employee retention  workforce 

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Three HCM Trends Impacting Workforce Management Strategy

Posted By Editor, Laurie, Thursday, April 20, 2017
Updated: Thursday, April 20, 2017

Contributed by 

Key HCM trends are where technology will have the biggest impact 
on managing tomorrow’s workforce


This is the first time in history that the labor force has five generations working together, that is also increasingly multi-cultural.  The challenges of managing such a diverse workforce working side by side cannot be overestimated.  HR is managing this diversity transition and is also going through a digital transformation.  HR itself, with its long history of being an administrative and service function, has to implement technology that creates administrative automation, improves employee engagement and scan produce the workforce analytics to simplify compliance and improve decision making. 

HR leadership is now tasked with developing new strategies for adapting to this changing workforce and technology landscape.  

With the right strategy, HR can become an integral business partner to develop the infrastructure (systems and policies) and plan for optimum application of emerging technologies to position their organizations for success.

Three key trends where human capital management technology will play a critical role include:

 - Recruiting, developing, and managing people

 - Engaging and enabling employees

 - Compliance

Recruiting, developing, and managing people

Talent is scarce and labor costs have been rising. With global expansion and Baby Boomers beginning to exit the workforce, HR leaders need new ways to attract top talent to their organizations, and facilitate knowledge transfer from one generation of leaders to another.  HCM Technologies provide access to end-to-end recruitment management systems that automate everything, are integrated with other services (job boards, background checks, etc) and provide millennial applicants with a digital experience they expect from a modern employer.  

HR can prepare by implementing enhanced hiring tools and sophisticated analytics that can help identify skills gaps and facilitate leadership development and incorporate knowledge transfer, mentoring and performance management as part of their recruiting and employee development strategy. 

Engaging and enabling employees

By 2025, Millennials — those born between 1981 and 2000 — will account for 75 percent of the global workforce, up from about 34 percent today.  Organizations must be ready to create a culture that resonates with this new generation of workers. This will require changes that include how to attract, compensate, develop, incentivize, and retain employees.  HCM technologies will play a critical role to centralize employee data and analytics to identify trends and provide insight that will help organizations as a whole adapt their engagement strategies to motivate and empower the next generation of workers.


HR leaders must also become partners with their organization’s compliance, auditing, and legal functions to avoid serious liability.  HR leaders must be fluent in compliance requirements both inside and outside of their departments. HCM solutions that unify all employee data will be integral to an effective compliance strategy. Thoroughly documenting employee data in single database will help ensure all policies are being applied correctly and consistently, can provide alerts to lapses in a full range of compliance related areas (i.e. missed meal breaks, training and certification renewals, leave eligibility thresholds, etc). Technology will be the mechanism that allows HR to ensure policies are being applied correctly and consistently, and keep pace with changing regulations.

Meet the OnePoint Human Capital Management at NCHRA's HR TechXpo  - an exciting event showcasing the intersection of HR and Technology - August 25, 2017
Hilton Union Square, San Francisco

Tags:  HR Tech  HR TechXpo  Workforce  workforce optimization 

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Legalizing Marijuana: What's an Employer to do?

Posted By Editor, Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Contributed by Becky Barton

These days it’s difficult to avoid the election mania covered by the various media outlets. Given the major spotlight on the presidential race, you may not know that the potential decriminalization of marijuana will be on the ballot in several states.

California, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada will all weigh in on legalized marijuana for recreational use (also known as “adult use” and “non-medical use”) where it is currently approved for medical use only. Another 3 states (Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota) will decide on the future of cannabis for medical use in their states.

Supporters of the ballot measures see this as a boon to the states’ economies via increased taxes and job growth for cannabusiness people. We have seen 25 states and the District of Columbia legalize marijuana in some fashion, making a continued trend of legalization highly likely.

So what does this mean for business owners and employers? Marijuana remains illegal under federal law and the state-by-state variations make this particularly confusing. For example, within the subset of those states approved for recreational use, the amount an individual can personally carry varies.  As an employer, particularly a multi-state employer, these variations can be an administrative and enforcement nightmare.

Or do they? After all, alcohol is a mind and behavior altering substance that’s been legal for over 80 years and we seem to manage that in the workplace, right? Wouldn’t this be treated similarly? Well, it depends. Many laws clearly state that employers don't have to accommodate medical marijuana use during work hours or on company property while other states require reasonable accommodations for workers with disabilities (specifically as it relates to drug testing and adverse action).

The key is to know what is required by the states in which you operate, create an employment policy that complies with state law and enforce it consistently amongst employees of similar work groups.

The Bottom Line: Work with an HR consultant or an employment law attorney to navigate these unchartered waters. They should be watching how these new laws are interpreted by the courts and have your back should your policy need updating.


Becky Barton is the founder of People415, a San Francisco-based Human Resource Consultancy Firm helping companies navigate every stage of their growth.

Tags:  behavior  company culture  employee  employee communication  employee health and wellness  employee relations  Employee Training  employee wellness  healthcare expenditures  hr  HR Communication  HR law  HR Legislation  Human resources management. HR Leadership  law  leadership  management  marijuana  Policies  workforce 

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EEOC spotlight on anti-Muslim discrimination

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Thursday, March 3, 2016


By Jon Benson, employment & labor attorney at Vigilant*

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is focusing a spotlight on discrimination against Muslim and Middle Eastern employees. The agency released new webpages and Q&A documents for both employers and employees shortly after the late 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. The EEOC advises employers to have a heightened awareness of how these tragic world events, and others, could lead to discrimination in the workplace.

In the case of employees who are Muslim or of Middle Eastern origin (or perceived to be so), the EEOC warns of discrimination based upon religion, ethnicity, national origin, race, or color.

Employers should know that generally they are not held liable for isolated incidents of discrimination or harassment based on the actions of non-supervisory employees. However, once the employer knows about discrimination or harassment by co-workers (or vendors or patrons) against its workers, it has a duty to investigate and take appropriate actions. If the company does not take appropriate actions, including discipline, or allows the conduct to continue, then the employer can be held liable. Overt harassment and discrimination in the form of insults and name-calling are pretty easy to spot. However, other potential forms of discrimination may not be so obvious.

Some of the trickiest situations involve the accommodation of employees’ sincerely held religious beliefs.

Religious accommodation

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act requires employers with 15 or more employees to “reasonably accommodate” an employee’s religious beliefs unless doing so would create an undue hardship for the business. Exactly what is a reasonable accommodation and what is an undue hardship can be specific. But, valid considerations for an employer in evaluating an employee’s requested accommodation include: the relative cost; the burden placed on other workers; and any safety or hygiene issues, just to name a few.

I.                    Dress codes

Dress codes can be a potential source of discrimination claims. Employers generally have the right to set standards for dress and grooming. However, a dress code can come into conflict with an employee’s religious beliefs and practice. One example for Muslim employees is the hijab or other type of head scarf or covering worn by women.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently weighed in on this issue in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch, Inc. In this case, the employer refused to hire a woman who wore a hijab for religious reasons. The woman had otherwise done very well in the interview process and scored highly in the company’s internal evaluation system. Abercrombie & Fitch defended its decision by claiming that the hijab violated the company’s written “Look Policy” which prohibited “caps” of any kind to be worn on employees’ heads. Although the rule was neutral and applied to all types of head coverings, in this case the Court said the employer had a duty to accommodate and that there was no undue hardship to the company in permitting an employee to wear a hijab.

Nevertheless, employers can usually enforce dress codes when there is a valid business-related reason. For example, an employer can generally enforce a dress code, despite an employee’s religious objection if the requirements of the dress code relate to safety or hygiene issues. This is often an issue in manufacturing settings.

II.                  Muslim prayer and varying scheduled breaks

In another case, Muslim employees of a meat packing plant had been using break times for prayers. They had requested that their break times be continually shifted to coincide with sundown in accordance with religious practice. Because the time that sundown occurs varies throughout the year, the break times would constantly change throughout the year. The company refused this requested accommodation and the EEOC filed suit. The company argued it was an undue hardship to be constantly changing the break times because it would impede production in this manufacturing setting and would create problems with other employees having to cover the times for these workers. In this case, a federal court ruled in favor of the employer saying that this represented an undue hardship. The outcome in these types of cases heavily depends on the facts of each case.

Incidentally, this issue also comes up with non-Muslim employees whose religious beliefs and practice prevent them from working on the Sabbath day. Typically, that involves a request not to work on Saturday or Sunday, and the restriction may begin at sundown the previous day.

III.                Alcohol, pork and other prohibited items

Alcohol and pork are considered haram, or forbidden, in Islam. So, what do you do if your employee says they can’t touch or serve to customers any alcohol or pork products? Do you really have to comply with those requests? Of course, the answer is “it depends.” Is there a reasonable accommodation that would not impose an undue hardship on the employer?

Example: Some Starbucks stores now serve wine to customers, though the vast majority of sales remain coffee, tea and their regular items. If a Muslim barista refused to serve the occasional glass of wine, that might be easily accommodated by having another clerk take that order.

By contrast, it would likely be an “undue hardship” for a Muslim job applicant to apply for a server position at a South Florida beach bar catering to college Spring Break students and refuse to handle alcohol.

Be vigilant

Regular training and education for managers and employees on these issues and your anti-harassment policies is essential. Make sure managers understand their role and that your organization responds promptly and investigates any allegations of discrimination or harassment.

About the Author

Jon Benson is an employment & labor attorney at Vigilant, a company headquartered in Oregon, dedicated to helping companies in Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho and California solve their most complex employment issues.

*Meet the Vigilant team at HR West 2016 - Booth 30


Tags:  anti-Muslim  discrimination  EEOC  employees  equal opportunity  HR  HRWest 2016  Human resources management. HR Leadership  muslims  NCHRA  Religious accommodation  Vigilant  workforce 

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