If I did that, I’d get fired.

Can someone explain to me how some people get away with stuff that any regular Joe (can I call you Joe?) would get shit-canned for in a hot minute?

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Let’s take Roger Ailes for example. Prior to this tub of lard’s 20-year reign as CEO at Fox News, good ol’ Rog was a media consultant for the likes of Nixon, Reagan, Dubya and Rudy Guiliani. (No wonder he ended up at Fox, eh’?) After multiple allegations of sexual harassment by on-air talent Gretchen Carlson and other women, Rupert Murdoch and Co. allowed Ailes the opportunity to resign with $40million in his pocket. Any HR professional with classic training will tell you that one, ONE confirmed instance of quid pro quo (“this for that”) sexual harassment and the accused will be terminated. No, they will not be given severance. No, they will not receive unemployment. Yes, they will get escorted out by security. Yet this piece of shit got to negotiate the terms of his departure from the company and left without the need to be gainfully employed ever again. I sure hope he learns his lesson while sitting in his home theatre watching Knute Rockne, All American whilst eating an endless bucket of popcorn.

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How about that asshole derp, John Stumpf, now, former CEO of Wells Fargo? If I presided over the theft of at least one customer, my ass would’ve been tossed on the streets and I would never work in this town again. Who wants to take bets that Stumpf has a high-ranking job at another financial institution within the next two years? As you may have already heard, Wells Fargo fired 5,300 employees and was fined $185 million for fake accounts opened by employees since 2011 as a response to the high-pressure sales tactics required and rewarded by an incentive-laced bonus program. Fingers were pointed by Wells Fargo higher-ups at the lowly Wells Fargo associates. When grilled in front of a congressional committee, Stumpf, insisted the culture of the company did not contribute to the unethical practices of management and employees while also testifying that he “did not know that level of detail” when the Committee outlined Wells Fargo’s various public sales tactics. Oh yeah, and also Stumpf dumped a shitload of company stock sometime after he found out about about the accounts. It was the largest stock sale he made to date. If I did that, I’d get fired and I would probably be in jail.

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And the mother of all “Chief Predatory Officers” Dov Charney. Sexual harassment was so ingrained in the culture at American Apparel that the employee handbook actually warned that the company was a “sexually charged” environment. As the name of the company suggests, this was not a company filming porns, this was an apparel design and manufacturing company. Indeed, Dov did his best to create said culture- it has been a matter of fact that Mr. Charney masturbated while being interviewing by a magazine editor, walked around his offices in his underwear and stored videos on company computers of he and company employees and models engaged in sexual acts. Charney also stands accused of misusing company funds. American Apparel finally ousted Charney but now finds itself in bankruptcy proceedings. But don’t you worry, Dov is back on the fashion scene. In August 2016, Dov reported he received a $10 million dollar loan for a new t-shirt venture.

Now excuse me while I take a shower to wash off the sleaze.

Work/Life Balance Is a Myth

Allow me to let you in on a little secret, Work/Life Balance is bullshit.

Much like the Easter Bunny, the Lochness Monster or calorie free macaroni and cheese, work/life balance is a myth. Just as Hallmark made up Sweetest Day to boost it’s bottom line, Work/Life balance was made up by Corporate America as a concocted promotion to convince employees that work and life are binary.

Corporate America created the problem, named the problem and then offered “solutions” to the problem. Corporate America created the problem, squeezing every little ounce out of its employees to increase their revenue streams, fatten the owners’ pockets and please its shareholders. Not surprisingly, this turned Americans into over-worked, over-stressed humans who felt put into a position to choose job or family and life. And voila, Corporate America invents the concept of Work/Life balance capitalizing on this zero-sum game. Americans choose work and lose, and Corporate America reaps the rewards. To quell the simmering anger, Corporate America threw us all a bone by offering “Work/Life” balance programs such as flexible scheduling, part-time opportunities, work-from-home, job shares and childcare-at-work. Yet, even with these programs Americans still report being just as overburdened as they were 5, 10, 15 and 20 years ago.

In a 2016 New York Times Article by Susan Dominus, Rethinking the Work-Life Equationthe author recaps the TOMO study by Phyllis Moen and Erin Kelly, professors studying the interaction between work, family and health. Moen and Kelly offer up what they call “Work-Life Fit”. Think of this concept not as life and work on the same linear plane, think of work as one little cheese wedge in the Trivial Pursuit playing piece of life.  Like this:

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And, in order for this mind shift to take place these things need to happen:

1) Give employees almost total control of how they work- including where, when and how they work. Focus on the outcomes of work against company goals and objectives and not how many hours employees work. As the TOMO paper states, this shifts flexibility from being a privilege to a given. Treating employees as self-sufficient human beings by empowering ownership of their work product should result in adult-like behaviors. In the end, most employees just want to do the work. Who cares how they do it?

2) Pay more-than-living wages. Let’s actually rethink compensation and the value of the work that employees provide your organization. Stop basing compensation on  your competitors, FLSA mandates and wildly fluctuating market conditions, and pay employees based on the purpose of his or her work towards the desired results of the company. Can’t find the money? Look no further then your top executives. Does the success of the company really and truly fall on the shoulders of one or two men and women? I can’t even really think of a scenario in today’s world where that could even remotely be true. As workers become more specialized in their expertise and skills, CEO’s and President’s, rely on a more collaborative team of knowledge workers to achieve the company’s vision and mission. Consider this, in 2015, CEO pay increased 16.4% from the previous year while every-day workers got dicked with a meager 2.4% increase to base salary. The money is there, it just needs to be given to ALL of those in the organization that bring value and worth.

3) Paid Family and Medical leave for all working Americans. Fair warning, throughout my blog, I’m going to beat this one to death. The United States is literally the only developed, first world country with ZERO nationally mandated paid parental and sick leave laws. So you can give us all the stupid flex schedules you want company, but if I have to decide between my health and work, I’m choosing my health. If I have to choose between my family or my job, I’m choosing family. This is not because I’m financially secure but  because my more actualized self compels me to make decisions that I will not regret on my death bed. And also, I’m little pissed Corporate America that you would force me to choose one or the other.

In reality, all of these things will take time and a great cultural shift to happen. As an employee of a company, think about how you can individually set boundaries for yourself, think about when and how you will turn work off, think about what emails and calls you will accept outside of work hours if any at all, and consider flexibility and ownership of work when you accept a job offer.

 

If Hillary Becomes President

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My post last week, If Trump Becomes President, hypothesized the impact of a Donald administration on the work world and HR. Historically, Democratic administrations have used the courts and their own executive powers to pass final rules and regulations that keep us HR folk very busy (see: ACA, FLSA, FMLA, ADA, etc…).

I can probably sum up a Hillary Clinton presidency like this: “more of the same”. While Hillary has her own agenda and plans, she will continue the policies and programs passed by the Obama administration.

Headline: Clinton Administration Creates “Good Paying” Jobs for Americans. Like Trump, Hillary promises to create jobs for Americans. She promises “good-paying” jobs  in an effort to strengthen the middle class. Based on her platform, Hillary intends to create jobs in the public sector, in the energy and tech sectors and also by increasing American manufacturing. Extrapolating further, Clinton’s initiatives to build and reinforce the country’s infrastructure signal a potential increase in construction jobs. And yes, these will be union jobs HR folks because, as Hillary states, “When Unions are strong, America is strong”. For those HR professionals already experiencing difficulty filling those energy and tech jobs due to a lack of skilled talent, Hillary hopes to increase your talent pool by “creating a life-long learning system better tailored to 21st century jobs”.

Headline: “HillaryHealth” expands ACA, Medicaid and reduces Americans out-of-pocket health spending. Will we still refer to the Affordable Care Act as “Obamacare” when he’s no longer in office? No? Then I propose “Hillary Health”. If Hillary plans to shore up and expand the Affordable Care Act, she will have her hands full as insurers stage an exodus from state-run exchanges. In a Hillary-led world, perhaps she will make administration less complicated both on those who need health care but also on HR professionals and Benefits Administrators.

Headline: DOL Goes Gangbusters on FLSA Enforcement. The FLSA’s new overtime rules are passed by Hillary and crew but, to throw a bone to small businesses, are implemented in a phased-in approach that also offsets the automatic indexing provision. The Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division commits additional resources making overtime compliance its number #1 priority. HR departments around the country must get smarter on the FLSA and begin to document the reasons why jobs are classified exempt or non-exempt. These changes force HR professionals to strategize on compensation with a future-facing approach and use “non-traditional” workers (i.e. gig workers, part-time and job shares) to reduce company expenditures.

Headline: Within 4 years, Clinton Narrows the Pay Gap . Hillary narrows the pay gap by passing the Paycheck Fairness Act. Wages and pay decisions become more transparent. All private employers are prohibited from asking job applicants about prior salary history and are prohibited from verifying wages via references. Further, HR drives employers to compliance by creating compensation philosophies, conducting annual compensation surveys, reviewing compliance annually and recommending salary adjustments based on internal equity. HR Departments create forms and documentation to back-up pay change decisions. HR Professionals support publishing salaries of employees to further transparency. HR Departments across the U.S. should boost their comp knowledge and prepare to invest in internal data analytics around discretionary and non-discretionary pay.

Headline: Paid Family and Medical Leave for All U.S.-based Employees. While Trump promises to pass paid maternity leave, this proposal seems to reinforce archaic gender stereotypes and familial roles. Hillary promises paid Family and Medical Leave for working Americans, and thus families no longer have to choose job or family member or their own health. While a triumph indeed for all Americans, it will be long overdue. Out of the 193 countries in the U.N., the United States is the only high-income, developed country without paid parental leave.

Headline: The Expansion of Federally Protected Classes. Under a Clinton administration, I highly anticipate the addition of federally protected classes and continued empowerment of the EEOC to enforce anti-discrimination, anti-harassment and anti-retaliation laws. HR Professionals would be served well to brush off that harassment prevention training and deliver it annually.

Headline: Hillary Nominates Obama as Replacement for Justice Scalia. Considering his political and legal career, Obama seems like a likely nominee to replace Justice Scalia. This will get interesting. There is a current contingent of Republicans that are in favor of ticket-splitting, they will vote Clinton for President but split the ticket, voting for Republican House and Senate Candidates. Republicans hope this strategy will moderate Hillary’s “liberal agenda”. A left-leaning Court + Executive Branch could equal a very active 4 years for HR departments across the country.

Hillary has a reputation for getting shit done. So I’m not betting against her. If she is elected President, I suspect that this will be an opportunity for HR practitioners to demonstrate our value to the organization as a strategic business leader and consultant.

If Trump Becomes President

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The world of HR is inextricably linked to and highly influenced by politics in America. As the country and the world turn their attention to the outcome of the U.S. general election on November 8th (get out there and vote folks), HR practitioners also attempt to predict how the new presidential administration will create and shape policy that impacts the world of work for the next 4 years.

For funsies, let’s imagine Donald J. Trump is elected president, shall we. For this experiment, we’ll make several assumptions. 1) Assume Trump does everything outlined on his platform,  2)Assume he gets no push-back from things as trivial as the balance of powers- congress and courts and 3)Assume we don’t get blown up first by North Korea because Trump goes on a 3am Tweetstorm fat-shaming Kim Jong-un.

Headline: Trump creates 25 million new jobs. Based on the first presidential debate, I’m assuming Trump is speaking about the manufacturing jobs that were off-shored within the last few decades to countries like China and Mexico. So, the jobs he is talking about “creating” are not the knowledge-based, white-collar, high-paying jobs that prop up the middle class these are blue-collar, low-paying manual labor jobs. But don’t worry HR, these won’t be unionized jobs so no need to brush up on the National Labor Relations Act. Just dust off your work comp and OSHA knowledge.

Headline: Trump repeals Obamacare. Not only does Trump repeal Obamacare lifting HR from the burden of stupid 1095 administration, he also does not expand Medicare and probably relieves employers from the burden altogether of actually providing medical benefits to employees. Trump Industries subsequently announces the creation of a new business venture, health insurance.

Headline: Trump Administration Repeals FLSA Changes. Encouraging business and job growth by limiting Federal government regulations Trump eliminates the increase to the FLSA salary test and all other proposed changes thereby keeping all FLSA provisions as they were written in 1938. Further, Trump repeals the Federal Minimum Wage and leaves the States to determine their own minimum wage. Federal prevailing wages on government contracts are also eliminated.

Headline: Year 2020-Women Still Earn Less for Equal Work. Trump has laid out zero plans for closing the gender pay gap during his campaign. Given his convictions to allow businesses to run unfettered, the Trump Administration will not be using its executive powers to make sure that women and people of color earn the same as white males for equal effort, equal work. HR will continue to have to document pay disparities to prevent EEOC claims of discrimination.

Headline: Women Earn Less but Get Paid Maternity Leave. While Trump mostly favors de-regulation and repealing Federal Agency regulations and final rules, he does favor paid maternity leave. Trump will pass a bill requiring employers to provide 6-full weeks of paid maternity leave, a program that looks similar to the State of California’s already existing Paid Family Leave (PFL). And sorry men, you are excluded. HR must be ready to administer leave in conjunction with FMLA and other State paid leave laws.

Headline: Trump Nominates Putin as Replacement for Justice Scalia. Don’t say it’s not possible. You are also the same person who thought Trump would never, could never be the f-in Republican Nominee for President of these United States.

During the Obama Administration, HR has had to remain on the forefront of the ever-changing political landscape. HR has been on the frontline partnering with the business, educating leadership and ensuring complicity with new laws. We grumbled, we whined, we bitched through it all. But now, as an HR practitioner, I feel stronger and I feel like we made the workplace better for employees. It feels like it would be a shame to roll all of that back under a Trump Administration.