Reflect and Prepare

As we finish up this week and the last few days of 2016, it is a perfect time to reflect back on the past year, reviewing previous objectives, our accomplishments and milestones, and areas for continued improvement. In both our personal and professional lives, regularly taking an inventory of the good and the bad and setting goals accordingly keeps us on track and driven.

In the workplace, this can mean improving on areas such as time management, communication, and interpersonal skills. This also means a review of HR and employment-related documents that should be reviewed and updated on an annual basis, the start of the year being a perfect time to make any changes to employee handbooks and manuals, job descriptions, and employment forms as necessary for state and federal compliance.

The holidays provide many of us a chance to relax and recharge, preparing for a new year and a clean slate. A fresh start that provides the motivation necessary to succeed and strive to do our best. It is a common practice to put together a short or long-term “to do” list of sorts, detailing what you hope to accomplish in the new year, whether that be working on goals from the previous year, or striving to reach new heights and successes.

However, simply setting goals isn’t always quite enough to ensure the attainment of those end objectives. Continue reading next week as we discuss how to effectively set goals that hold you accountable and committed to reaching your end objective.

The HRCentral team wishes you a safe and happy New Year!

The Naughty or Nice List

Let’s face it, we all have favorite employees and coworkers. Once we start recognizing that we are always going to be inclined to like certain individuals more than others, we can start overcoming the biases that come along with it.

Seth Godin recently wrote an excellent blog on biases (We are All Biased). To summarize, he talked about how biases can be useful when we have insufficient information to make a decision. However, a wise leader will understand and recognize the drawbacks of biases.  This concept can also apply to our interactions within our professional relationships.

As managers and leaders, we have to take an honest look at our own biases and how they affect our day-to-day interactions. This reflection should include identifying why we get along with some of our coworkers/employees and not others. Additionally, we should take a hard look as to why we don’t have a natural affinity for certain individuals. Finally, in our self-evaluation we need to take a cold, hard look at those biases and ensure they are not influencing our interactions.

I believe we have all been on the other side of the coin in that we have had less than ideal interactions with those in authority over us and we can’t seem to ever get anything right. Now take those same feelings and compare them to some of your direct reports or coworkers. Is it possible that your biases are causing them to fail or at the very least are limiting their chances for success?

During this holiday season and in the upcoming new year, take the time to self-evaluate and think about what you can do differently to ensure that everyone you interact with has a positive experience. Ensure that you are providing all of your employees with equal treatment and the same opportunities to succeed. To summarize, eliminate your naughty or nice list and focus on true objective evaluations while recognizing your own biases.

Tips for a Diverse and Happy Holiday

Respecting variances in religion and culture is something we should all practice in our day to day lives, both in professional settings and outside of the workplace. In a recent blog post, we discussed the importance of practicing being impeccable with our words and being a model of civility and respect in an increasingly diverse nation and workforce. With the holidays upon us, it is a perfect time to reflect and embrace the cultural differences that make our country the wonderful melting pot that it is.

Here is an old favorite that we pulled from our archives, a message from our fearless leader and President, the message no less important today as it was years ago:

The holiday season is a great time to celebrate our differences and the variety of traditions we come from.  For myself, I grew up with some Norwegian traditions including a “tasty” fish called Lutefisk.  If you’re not sure what Lutefisk is, think of watery Jell-O® with a slight fishy taste. Your office may have created your own traditions including an annual holiday party.

I believe a holiday party is a wonderful social event for an organization, but the same party can create uncomfortable or illegal situations.  Many of us of have heard or witnessed situations where an employee was alienated, made to feel uncomfortable, or was blatantly harassed at a company party.

Prior to throwing your annual holiday party, I encourage all managers (whether they are planning the party or not) to think over some hot issue avoidance.

First, be respectful of those individuals with different religious beliefs and avoid referencing specific holidays. Differences in religion and culture should always be respected, particularly during the holiday season.

Second, remind all employees that company policy regarding harassment and alcoholic consumption still apply during the party and that failure to observe those policies will result in discipline. Along with promoting a designated driver program, consider offering a taxi or car service to employees who feel they drank too much at the party.

Finally, try to include all employees at your organization and as a manager, you must set the proper example and interact with all of your employees (not just those you get along with).

Following these basic tips will help you have a safe and fun holiday.  If you have any questions on how to write a holiday party notice, you don’t have to go it alone, give us a call.

It’s Snowing!

For the last few days, I have been hearing rumors of a winter storm hitting the Willamette Valley in Oregon. People are posting on social media both their excitement and concerns with the potential snow storm hitting our valley and shutting down or impeding travel. Well, today is the day of the big winter storm. As of 10am the snow was just working its way into a flurry and I was skeptical. As of noon, the snow was sticking and freezing rain was starting to fall. For our current conditions, check out this post’s photo (taken at the Oregon State Capitol).

Three friends of mine are working from home, the schools have closed, and even I am a bit concerned about getting home later today. What does your organization do when travel to or from work is anticipated to be dangerous? Have you started building a plan to keep your business running while most, if not all, employees are home?

Step One: Ensure you have adequate information on the weather and road conditions. Don’t just rely on Facebook or one news source. Check with your employees that live outside of the city or in areas that are more prone to snow and icy conditions (e.g., hilly areas).

Step Two: Review your policies and update as needed. If employees are sent home or asked not to come into work, do you pay them for the day or can they use PTO for that time off? What about a work at home policy? Have you created limits and clear policies about who and how working from home is managed?

Step Three: How do you communicate an office closure (or reduced staff) with your employees? Ensure that all employees understand what the communication method is. Email is a common method, but employees often don’t have access from home or the power is out. Do you have a master list of the cell phone numbers of all your employees for a quick text or messaging? Some larger organizations have an employee digital board like OfficeAccord ( through which you can trigger an employee wide alert via text messages.

Step Four: If the office is completely closed, ensure that you are informing your clients in a timely manner. Email is usually the most effective method depending on the type of business. If larger, often a posting to the company’s webpage is done to notify clients and potential clients that offices may be closed or phone wait times may be extended due to inclement weather.

We are fortunate to have many technical options today that allow us to communicate without power (e.g. cell phones, battery backups, etc.). However, we need to ensure that our plans and technology is in place prior to the storm.

Above and beyond all else, stay safe!

2017 Employment and Labor Law Updates

As 2016 draws to a close, it a great time to review upcoming labor and employment law updates that will take effect in the next year and determine how to best prepare your organization for any applicable changes, in addition to these changes being updated on your 2017 federal and state labor law posters.

The following federal and state employment and labor law changes are slated for 2017:


  • Exempt Salary Requirements and Federal Overtime Rule – Effective December 1, 2016, the minimum salary threshold has been raised to $47,476 annually ($913 per week). Employees making less than this will be subject to overtime pay.
    • Note: As of November 22, 2016, a preliminary injunction has been filed, delaying the Department of Labor’s overtime rule and exempt salary requirements. Additional details will be provided pending details regarding this injunction waiting to be released.
  • FLSA (2016 update) – Updates include new information: discussing the consequences of classifying employees incorrectly as independent contractors, the rights of nursing mothers, enforcement of the FLSA by the DOL, and information relating to tip credits.
  • Federal Polygraph (2016 update) – Updates include changes in contact information for the DOL and the removal of the reference of the penalty amount for a violation of this law.


  • No updates at this time.


  • Minimum Wage Increase – The minimum wage for Washington is set to increase from $9.47 per hour to $9.53 per hour on January 1, 2017.


  • Minimum Wage Increase – The minimum wage for California is set to increase from $10.00 per hour to $10.50 per hour on January 1, 2017.

HRCentral will contact all of our current clients with regards to making any necessary changes to handbooks, manuals, and other affected employment documentation (including periodic labor law poster updates throughout the year).

Contact HRCentral today by email at or by phone at 800.574.3282 to get your combined federal and state labor law posters ordered today!