Landrum Human Resource Companies Blog

Mayberry Monday – “Citizen’s Arrest”
January 3, 2011, 9:52 am
Filed under: Mayberry, Notes from Holly | Tags: , , ,

January 3, 2011

Mayberry Monday – “Citizen’s Arrest”
By Holly McLeod, PHR

Have you ever had your words mimicked back at you from your children or other not-so-well-meaning people in your life? I don’t usually like having it happen to me – especially from my children – but I must admit that it’s caused me to think a time or two about how I come across to others. Deputy Barney found out first hand what it’s like to have his words thrown back at him when he gave Gomer Pyle a ticket for making a u-turn.

Barney was feeling pretty good about himself that particular day. He and Sheriff Andy Taylor were going through some old paperwork, when Andy found the custody receipt for Barney’s first revolver that had been issued to him ten years ago. The two were reminiscing about the good times they’d had, and Andy told Barney that he’d been a fine deputy and a true public servant. Yes, Barney must have been feeling at least 5’8” tall when he walked out of the courthouse to take patrol.

Barney was sitting in the patrol car when he saw Gomer Pyle leave the post office and make a u-turn in front of him. Barney turned on his light and siren and pulled Gomer over before he had much of an opportunity to accelerate his truck. Barney told Gomer he had made an illegal u-turn, and Gomer couldn’t believe it when Barney started writing out a ticket. Gomer tried to appeal to Barney by saying they were pals, but Barney was not to be deterred. He gave the $5.00 ticket to Gomer, and Gomer then got angry.

“Try to look at it from my point,” Barney said. “You see, you broke the law… the law must be upheld. Now if I as just plain John Doe, an ordinary citizen, were to see you making a u-turn, I’d have to make a citizen’s arrest.” With that said, Barney got in his squad car and promptly made a u-turn on his way back to the courthouse. Barney hadn’t even had a chance to stop the car before Gomer was running across the street yelling “Citizen’s arrest! Citizen’s arrest!”

A crowd had gathered, and Andy came out to see what was going on. When he realized that Barney had just committed the same act that resulted in Gomer receiving a ticket, Andy instructed Barney to write himself out a ticket. Barney was incensed; however, he did what he was told and wrote himself the ticket – even if it was in a melodramatic manner.

When Andy and Barney got inside the courthouse, Andy offered to pay the $5.00 himself. Barney chose instead to serve the five-day sentence, and he promptly locked himself in one of the jail cells. Andy tried to get Barney to see reason, but when he realized it wasn’t going to happen he left the jail. When Andy returned that evening he thought that perhaps Barney might have changed his mind, but he was still being stubborn.

The next morning when Andy returned, Barney unlocked the cell only to smugly hand Andy his resignation letter. Andy replied in a way that was totally unexpected to Barney; “I accept it.” Andy then left the courthouse and Barney slowly walked back to the cell and closed the door.

Andy’s son Opie went to Wally’s Filling Station where Gomer worked in order to put air in his bike tires. He told Gomer that Barney had quit over the whole citizen’s arrest issue. Next, the phone rang in the courthouse and another prisoner (Otis Campbell, a “regular”) answered the phone. Otis heard the message from the caller and ran out yelling for Andy, saying there had been a hold-up at Wally’s Filling Station.

The squad car came with sirens blaring. Gomer came out of the shop and Andy started questioning him on what had happened in the hold-up. “Didn’t Barney come with you?” Gomer asked. Andy told him no, then proceeded with his questions. “Funny Barney didn’t come with you,” Gomer continued, “this was a job that called for teamwork.” Gomer then explained that he had faked the incident in order to get Barney and Andy together again.

As Gomer was explaining this, Barney came running up with gun in hand. Andy told Barney that Gomer had faked the whole thing. Barney asked Gomer, “Do you realize you committed a 785?” He then proceeded to write out multiple tickets for Gomer, covering the unlawful acts of a 785, a 215, and 923.

Barney handed the tickets to Gomer and got in the squad car, calling for Andy to come. After Andy got in the car Barney promptly made a u-turn as he was leaving. “Citizen’s arrest! Citizen’s arrest!” Gomer yelled after them. Barney just kept on going…

As we begin 2011, take some time to evaluate how you are perceived by your employees. Do you behave the way you expect your employees to behave? Do you exemplify the values you want to see in your staff? Or, do you do as my brother did when he taught me how to drive? I can still hear those immortal words now… “Do as I say, not as I do.”

It’s easy to think, “This is my company. I’ll do what I want to!” However, it might serve you well to be mindful of how your employees perceive you as a boss and employer. If they see you doing and acting like you expect them to, they will be much more inclined to respect your authority. If they see you modeling your company’s values, they will be much more inclined to do the same thing. And, you will be much less likely to hear someone yell “Citizen’s arrest! Citizen’s arrest!”

I hope the new year will be a good one for you, your company and your employees. To channel my inner-Gomer may I say, “Lots of luck to you and yours!” See you in Mayberry next week. Stay tuned…

“Mayberry Goes Hollywood”
December 9, 2010, 3:29 pm
Filed under: Mayberry, Notes from Holly | Tags: , ,

December 9, 2010

Mayberry Monday – “Mayberry Goes Hollywood”
By Holly McLeod, PHR

As we go to Mayberry this week, we visit at an exciting time when a movie director all the way from Hollywood, CA wanted to film a movie in the quaint southern town. The town council met to vote on the request. They were excited, but some of the members were concerned the movie might depict Mayberry in a negative light and that it would make fun of its people. Mayor Pike asked, “What would they make fun at?” Orville Monroe replied, “At the way we talk, or the way we look, or our little fat mayor.” Mayor Pike wasn’t an exceptionally bright man, so he didn’t seem to notice the jab. After much discussion, however, the council agreed to let Mr. Harmon make his movie only after Sheriff Andy Taylor suggested he take Mr. Harmon on a tour of the town and find out his intentions.

Mr. Harmon was impressed with Mayberry. As Andy walked Mr. Harmon around the town Andy introduced him to some of the citizens, including his Aunt Bee and son Opie, Floyd the Barber, and Orville Monroe, the local funeral parlor director and TV repairman. Andy joked with Mr. Harmon, saying that Orville charges less to bury you than he does to fix your set!

Their walk ended at the old oak tree. Andy reminisced that he used to climb that tree when he was just a boy. Andy then asked Mr. Harmon, “You like the people? You wouldn’t poke fun?” Mr. Harmon assured Andy he would not, saying that the people are charming and natural. Mr. Harmon then left Mayberry to make the arrangements for shooting the movie, which would take place the following week.

Oh, the excitement in Mayberry! As Andy walked down the sidewalk a few days later, he noticed that everyone was changing. The men who usually sat on the bench whittling were now wearing a coat and tie. Every storefront had changed its signage to mention something about Hollywood. The salon was advertising a special on Hollywood hairstyles; Orville Monroe was advertising “Hollywood Funerals,” and Floyd’s Barbershop had become Colby’s Tonsorial Parlor, featuring Cary Grant Haircuts.

When Andy arrived at the courthouse after his walk, Deputy Barney Fife came out of the back room looking more like a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police than a rural deputy – or in Andy’s opinion, Smokey Bear. Barney was wearing the new uniform the mayor had sent over. There was one for Andy too, but Andy said he had no intentions of wearing it.

Andy left to go to a special town council meeting the mayor had called, where he heard the mayor’s plans for the upcoming arrival of Mr. Harmon and his film crew. The Drum and Bugle Corps was scheduled to play, ladies from town would present pies to Mr. Harmon, the mayor’s daughter would sing Flow Gently Sweet Afton, the mayor would make a speech, and the finale would be the downing of the old oak tree – the same tree Andy had talked about with Mr. Harmon.

Andy couldn’t believe his town, saying that everything had changed. “You’ve changed yourselves, your stores, your clothes.” Andy left the meeting in disgust, only to go home and find Aunt Bee and Opie in their Sunday finest. Aunt Bee was wearing a hat and gloves, and little Opie looked freshly bathed and was wearing a suit, bow tie and hat.

The next day Mr. Harmon arrived. The band played, the pies were stacked in Mr. Harmon’s hands, and the mayor’s daughter sang as planned. Mr. Harmon was quietly digesting his surprise at the grand welcome, but spoke up when Mayor Pike told the men to chop down the tree. Mr. Harmon told the men to stop. “What have you done to your town? To yourselves?” he asked. “This tree is part of the picture. And so are all of you – but the way you were when I first met you when I walked around the town with the Sheriff, the way you were when you were natural, genuine and real. That’s what I want in my picture.” The people of Mayberry thought they needed to become something different in order to impress Mr. Harmon, but it was their true, genuine nature that appealed to him.

Many businesses reach out to its customers to let them know they are appreciated and remembered. But what do you think your customers think of your business? Do they know the “real” organization, or are they only familiar with the image you want them to see? It may be tempting to put on a different appearance for others, but remember that most people are drawn to folks who are genuine, honest, and in the words of Mr. Harmon, natural and real.

It’s also important to remember we have internal customers, too – employees and co-workers. So what do you think your internal customers think of you, their employer or supervisor? It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day operations of business and forget simple things such as smiling, thoughtfulness, or common courtesy. Throughout the year, employees need to know they are valued and appreciated. Hopefully the “real you” is someone who makes others feel good about themselves and the work they do on your behalf.

During this holiday season, you might want to ponder how you come across to your employees, and how your business comes across to your customers. If a film was going to be made about you and your business, do you think you would need to change your image, or would you have faith in who you really are and the values you represent? I hope you answered the latter, because Mr. Harmon (and your customers) might be disappointed if they find out otherwise.

Until next week, stay tuned…

Holly McLeod is a Human Resources Manager for Landrum Professional Employer Services and Landrum Consulting. She is a certified professional in human resources (PHR) and has more than 15 years of human resources consulting in the corporate world, healthcare and manufacturing environments

The Financial Burdens Your Employees Face Do Affect Your Business
November 23, 2010, 5:30 pm
Filed under: Human Resources, Notes from Holly | Tags: ,

The Financial Burdens Your Employees Face Do Affect Your Business

By Holly McLeod, PHR

“Sixty percent of employees lack adequate cash reserves to live longer than two months if they were to lose their job.”
(Overextended. A Special Report on the Business Cost of Financial Stress, Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace Workplace Edition)

“Almost three out of five new middle-class retirees will outlive their financial assets if they keep up their pre-retirement ways of living.”
(Ernst & Young, LLP study on behalf of Americans for Secure Retirement)

“Thirty million workers in America – one in four – are seriously financially distressed and dissatisfied with their personal financial situations.”
(Financial Distress Among American Workers, by E. Thomas Garman)

The statics are overwhelming: The majority of the American workforce is in serious financial trouble. To make these statistics scarier, they were compiled prior to the financial crisis that started in late 2008. Imagine how many more of us are deeply concerned with our personal financial duress than we were prior to this time!

Even the Federal Reserve Bank spoke up. In a publication developed jointly by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, the Banks state that “Employers benefit from a financially educated workforce in several ways.” That same publication suggests that a well-executed workplace financial education program is likely to:

• Reduce absenteeism
• Moderate turnover rates
• Decrease direct employer costs related to wage garnishments, bankruptcies, payroll deductions for child support and alimony, and administrative costs for borrowing against retirement plans
• Increase employee productivity
• Increase contributions to the company 401(k) program
• Increase employees’ allegiance to their company
• Reduce the incidence of employee theft

As part of Landrum’s STEP education program employees are surveyed on which topics of education would they most like to see offered. In 2008, an overwhelming majority of responses were geared toward personal financial management. The employees’ interest, combined with troubling statistics and the company’s desire to help its employees, drove Landrum’s STEP Committee to seek the financial education program that would be most fulfilling and beneficial. And find it, they did.

Financial Peace University, Workplace Edition, is a 13-week program on personal finances developed and trained by radio and television personality Dave Ramsey, via DVD. After reviewing several options, Financial Peace University (FPU) was determined to be the most comprehensive program we could offer.

Through FPU education, employees learn many invaluable lessons on:

• The 7 Baby Steps to Financial Freedom
• The importance of saving
• How we relate with money
• Cash flow planning (including valuable budget worksheets)
• Breaking the chains of debt
• Understanding credit bureaus and collection practices
• The power of marketing on buying decisions
• The role of insurance
• How to make smart purchases
• Understanding investments
• Planning for retirement and college
• Working in your strengths
• Real estate and mortgages
• The power of giving

Landrum’s Senior Leadership Team generously agreed not only to offer this valuable program, but decided that the company would help out as much as possible for each employee, since there is a cost associated with purchasing the package of materials that accompanies the classes. Landrum agreed to pay half of the cost for each participating employee, and also to reimburse the other half to each employee who met an attendance requirement of 11 out of 13 classes. In other words, the class would be free for anyone who made the commitment to attend most of the classes. In addition, the company allowed the program to be held during work time, with the employees using one hour of their own each week and the company paying for the other hour of each two-hour class.

Amazingly, 70% of our employees signed up for the classes. There has been tremendous positive feedback from the employees, and each week during class employees happily shared personal victories and successes. This class is not about debt management, but about debt elimination. The facilitator of this program, an employee who had previously completed FPU, stated that she saw employees amazed at having money left at the end of the month for the first time in their working life. Other employees have expressed seeing a “light at the end of the tunnel” that wasn’t there before this class was offered. Still others have expressed having control over their finances and communicating with their spouses in a positive manner about finances. And now, two years later, we’re still getting proud comments from employees who have made their last car payment, or paid off the last credit card they will ever have.

This has truly been a rewarding experience for all participating employees, and we believe this program has allowed employees to have a much-needed sense of control over their finances. As statistics show, this not only benefits our employees, but our company as well.

Holly McLeod is a Human Resources Manager for Landrum Professional Employer Services and Landrum Consulting. She is a certified professional in human resources (PHR) and has more than 15 years of human resources consulting in the corporate world, healthcare and manufacturing environments

Mayberry Monday – “The Bed Jacket”
November 22, 2010, 6:18 pm
Filed under: Mayberry, Notes from Holly

November 22, 2010

Mayberry Monday – “The Bed Jacket”
By Holly McLeod, PHR

There are many facets to Andy Griffith. He is a great friend, an understanding and patient boss, a talented musician, a loving father, a practical joker at times, and a trusted leader in Mayberry. He is also fiercely devoted to his family.

Andy and his son Opie were fishing one morning, and Andy was catching fish after fish after fish. Opie commented on how many fish they were catching, and Andy replied that Eagle Eye Annie was doing herself proud that day. Eagle Eye Annie was the name of Andy’s fishing pole, and Andy and Opie spoke of “her” as if she was a dear and precious to friend.

Mayor Stoner walked up to their fishing spot on his way home, tired and frustrated because he had not been able to catch any fish. If you’ve read other Mayberry Mondays, you may recall that Stoner is the mayor I don’t like because of his obvious disdain for Andy and all things fun.

Stoner commented that it was a waste of time because the fish weren’t biting. As he was saying this, Andy cast his line into the water and almost immediately gets a bite. Opie said, “Ol’ Eagle Eye Annie did it again.” Stoner looked in Andy’s basket and saw all the fish. “You got all those today?” he asked. Opie told the mayor that they could catch even more with Eagle Eye Annie. After the mayor asked who he was talking about, Andy explained that Eagle Eye Annie was his fishing rod.

Being duly impressed with Andy’s results with Eagle Eye Annie, Stoner promptly tried to buy the rod for $20.00. Andy declined the offer. Stoner then offered $25.00, to which Andy also politely declined. Stoner walked off, only to return a few moments later with a final offer of $27.50. Naturally, Andy turned it down.

As Andy and Opie left the fishing spot they began talking about plans for Aunt Bee’s birthday, which was coming up the very next day. When they got home they carefully hung their fishing rods on their proper places of honor on the wall, and Aunt Bee came in and asked to ride to town with Andy and Opie. Knowing that Andy would be shopping for her birthday gift, Aunt Bee told Andy she would be upset if he did anything foolish about her birthday. She wanted him to be sensible.

When they got to town, Andy and Opie went off to do their shopping and Aunt Bee started window shopping. For those of you who may not be familiar with the term, window shopping is when you “shop” by looking in the storefront windows instead of actually entering the stores. I have pleasant memories of window shopping with my mother when I was a little girl, going from storefront to storefront looking inside the shops as we used to walk along the sidewalks of my hometown.

When Aunt Bee was window shopping, she had only gotten to the second store before she saw something that caught her eye; a beautiful, white bed jacket hanging in the window. Modern-day bed jackets look like simple short jackets worn over pajamas; or, as a colleague pointed out, “kind of the female version of a smoking jacket for guys.” In the 1960’s, however, bed jackets were apparently very fancy.

Aunt Bee looked at the bed jacket longingly, and headed off down the sidewalk. She didn’t get far, though, before she turned around to look at it again. She decided to enter the shop – Lucken’s Style Shop – and Mrs. Luckens took the bed jacket down and held it up to Aunt Bee. Aunt Bee gave a look that indicated she knew the jacket was much too extravagant, then returned the jacket back to Mrs. Luckens and left the shop.

While this was going on, Andy and Opie were at another store – a practical store. Opie picked out salt and paper shakers for Aunt Bee’s present, and Andy decided on two dozen preserving jars. What woman wouldn’t want two dozen preserving jars, right? Oh well, at least Andy’s heart was in the right place.

When Andy met back up with Aunt Bee, it was right in front of Mrs. Luckens’ store. Aunt Bee did her very best to hint to Andy about the bed jacket, but Andy didn’t catch the hints. Instead, he left to go finish some paperwork he was preparing for Mayor Stoner. As the mayor was leaving the office after looking over and complaining about Andy’s paperwork, he asked Andy to do him a favor and return the guest towels he had bought his wife, in exchange for the bed jacket hanging in the window. Andy went to do this favor and as you might guess, Aunt Bee was across the street and saw the exchange. Naturally, she thought he was buying the jacket for her birthday since she had practically drooled over it in front of him that very morning.

The next day was the big day. Aunt Bee opened Opie’s salt and pepper shakers, then with very shaky hands tried to unwrap Andy’s gift. When she opened the box and saw the preserving jars, the disappointment in her face was obvious. She was so disappointed that she fled the room to avoid crying in front of Andy and Opie.

Andy was perplexed at Aunt Bee’s behavior until Aunt Bee’s friend Clara rang the doorbell. Clara had been with Bee when they watched Andy purchase the bed jacket, so she stopped by to see it on her friend. Knowing now how much the bed jacket meant to Aunt Bee, Andy knew what he had to do. He raced to the store to purchase the jacket, only to find out the one the mayor bought had been the only one in stock. Andy then went to the mayor’s house to try to purchase the jacket from him.

Mayor Stoner knew he had something that Andy wanted, and he also knew that Andy had something he wanted; Eagle Eye Annie. Stoner told Andy that they might be able to make a mutual deal – “I’ll sell something to you, and you sell something to me.”

Back at the house, Andy came in with a brand new wrapped box that he gave to Aunt Bee. She opened the gift and found the bed jacket she had so badly wanted. As she was gushing about the jacket and calling Clara to share the news, Opie came in the room and went to get the fishing rods off of the wall. After he hopped up in a chair to reach them, he realized that Eagle Eye Annie was missing.

Andy went over to Opie and whispered that he had sold the rod to the mayor. Opie couldn’t believe it. “You sold it? But you said you’d never sell it.” he said. Andy quietly explained to Opie, “I said I kept it ‘cause it gave me so much enjoyment, and that I wouldn’t sell it for money. And I didn’t sell it for money. I just kinda swapped it for a different kind of enjoyment. So, Eagle Eye Annie’s doing just what she did before. Even right now she’s giving me pleasure… real heart-warming pleasure.”

As we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, I hope you’ll take time to give thanks for all of the people who make life worth living. Be thankful for your family, your friends, your colleagues, your employees, and your neighbors. Give special thanks for those whom you would gladly give up your own Eagle Eye Annie in order to make happy. Those are the ones we should cherish.

Happy Thanksgiving, and I hope to see all of you in Mayberry again next week. Stay tuned…

Holly McLeod is a Human Resources Manager for Landrum Professional Employer Services and Landrum Consulting. She is a certified professional in human resources (PHR) and has more than 15 years of human resources consulting in the corporate world, healthcare and manufacturing environments

Mayberry Monday – Andy the Marriage Counselor

November 15, 2010

Mayberry Monday – “Andy the Marriage Counselor”
By Holly McLeod, PHR

Last week I wrote about a bitter feud between two Mayberry families that had been going on for 87 years. Sheriff Andy Taylor, as always, found a way to get through to the two stubborn patriarchs so that they would allow their respective young’uns to get married and live happily ever after. Andy always had a knack for getting others to do what they should, even if it’s not what they originally wanted. This week in Mayberry is no different.

Relatively new to Mayberry, Fred and Jennie Boone had made friends with many of the townspeople. The problem was that they couldn’t stand each other. Andy and Deputy Barney Fife had been forced to visit the Boones’ a few times for disturbing the peace, and this time the yelling and screaming could be heard long before they approached the home. They entered the house and had to duck low to avoid the plates and saucers being thrown across the room by Mrs. Boone.

As soon as the Boones realized they had company, both Fred and Jennie immediately changed their disposition with a friendly “Hello, Andy!” Andy told them he wanted them to quit arguing, but after a biting comment from each of them toward the other one, they were at it again – with Andy in between. Andy had had enough. He told them that the next time this happened he was going to arrest them.

The next day Barney brought the Boones to the jail while both were still loudly arguing with each other. He had heard them while on patrol first thing that morning and asked them, “Don’t you even stop for breakfast?” He told Andy to “throw the book at ‘em.” “It wouldn’t do any good,” Andy replied, “Jennie would just pick it up and throw it at Fred.”

Andy told the Boones that ever since they moved to town that they got along with everybody else just fine, they just couldn’t get along with one another. He asked them what started their fight that morning. Fred said it was at breakfast – if you could call it that. Jennie said that Fred had thrown his plate of food on the floor. Fred replied, “Food? That slop wasn’t fit for the hogs.” Jennie said, “Oh, it was fit for the hogs. That’s why I give it to you!” They both start yelling all over again.

Andy realized the problem; the Boones were in the habit of arguing with each other. It came naturally to them because that’s how they had learned to communicate with each other. He decided to try an experiment, and he had the Boones sit across from each other and practice talking civilly. They weren’t very successful in thinking up something nice to say, so Andy coached them. He told Fred to say to Jennie, “Mornin’, Honey.” He then told Jennie to say to Fred, “Mornin’, Dear.” They uncomfortably practiced this a few times until Barney said, “I’d rather be called Skunk Face than Honey like that.” Andy told the Boones that is wasn’t bad for starters, but that he wanted them back in the court house to practice every morning for 15 minutes. They protested, but he said it was either that or jail. As the Boones were leaving, Andy still had them practicing… “Mornin’, Dear.” “Mornin’, Honey.”

The Boones were faithful to their early morning lessons, and eventually got to the point where it wasn’t so painful to be nice to each other. Their whole demeanor had changed. No longer did they yell, scream, nag, holler and throw things; now they were actually polite to each other. Unfortunately, their previous friendliness toward the townspeople began to sour.

They snapped at Barney as they left the court house; Fred snapped at his friends at a card game; Jennie snapped at Aunt Bee. Andy realized that the Boones were fine around each other, but thought that maybe they could only be happy when they’re picking at each other, and that perhaps that’s the way they showed their love for one another. Weird, I know, but it was in the script.

A gentleman showed up at Andy’s house with a bloody nose and said that Fred had punched him while they were playing cards. He told Andy he had gotten out just in time to dodge a pitcher of water. Just then another gentleman came in holding his head, saying, “I got the pitcher of water.” That’s all Andy needed to hear. He made a decision then headed to the Boones’.

When he got to their house, it was very peaceful from the outside. Both Fred and Jennie were unfriendly to Andy (while being syrupy sweet to each other). Andy told the Boones they had done so well in their lessons that he wanted to have a graduation ceremony. He poured cider and then made a toast; “We’re gathered here this evening to mark the beginnings of a new life. A life of peace and quiet and getting along, the beauty and joy of which you now know and I’m sure ain’t ever gonna forget. To you, Jennie, who made all this possible when you stopped needling and riding and railing and harassing and nagging poor Fred. And to you, Fred, who made all this happy life possible when you stopped coming home all mean and nasty and ornery. To whoever was the worst.”

You can imagine that this set off all sorts of accusations between Fred and Jennie, and within minutes they were back to the yelling, screaming and name-calling. But this is what Andy had wanted. I guess he thought that the two of them fighting each other was better than both of them fighting the rest of the town. Too bad, though, because his plan would have worked if the Boones hadn’t displaced their angry habits toward other targets.

As stated last week, helping others resolve a conflict is seldom easy; however, it can be successfully achieved. The key is to keep pointing the parties toward the desired goal. Andy did this to begin with, but instead of then helping the Boones stop displaying anger altogether, he gave up and led them back toward their old ways of arguing with each other. In effect, he chose the lesser of two evils.

It doesn’t have to be that way. It is possible to resolve conflict in a very short period of time. In some situations, however, it requires a lot of dedication, effort and time. I don’t think Andy should have given up so easily on the Boones. But then again, he did all he could do within a 30-minute episode. I choose to believe that Andy would have persevered and eventually gotten the Boones to be nice to their fellow Mayberrians as well as to each other, had he been given an extended 1-hour episode to do it in.

See you next week. Stay tuned…

Holly McLeod is a Human Resources Manager for Landrum Professional Employer Services and Landrum Consulting. She is a certified professional in human resources (PHR) and has more than 15 years of human resources consulting in the corporate world, healthcare and manufacturing environments

Bismarck and Insurance Reform

posted by Ted A. Kirchharr, Vice-President & Chief Operating Officer, Landrum Human Resources

As Americans watched the debate over health insurance reform with varying degrees of interest, I was reminded of German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck’s famous quote about lawmaking: “The less people know about how sausages and laws are made the better they will sleep.” After watching our Congress at work I couldn’t agree more!

Without question, big changes are in store for the American people. Many of the changes will be phased in over the next several years. For example, the fines for individuals not having health insurance will not begin until 2014. Some provisions, however, will be implemented rather quickly. A new subsidized, high-risk insurance program for those with pre-existing conditions will become available three months after enactment of the bill. Six months after enactment, lifetime limits on medical coverage will be prohibited for many plans.

The biggest change for employers will impact those with more than 50 employees. Beginning in 2014, you may be subject to federal fines if you do not offer employees health insurance. Unfortunately federal rules will have to be written to implement many aspects of the bill, thus prolonging the uncertainty. This is in addition to the inevitable court challenges that are sure to come.

We have found some useful websites to follow this important issue. The Kaiser Family Foundation has a wealth of information about the legislation. The US Department of Health and Human Services is the site to monitor for guidance, as is the government’s Medicare site. As we identify more sites we’ll add them to our blog.

We’ll likely see continued debate and information (as well as misinformation) on this topic over the next several months. Sausage anyone?

Thank Goodness for the Dreamers
March 12, 2010, 6:09 pm
Filed under: Landrum Lagniappe, Notes from Ted | Tags: , , , ,

posted by Ted A Kirchharr, vice-president & chief operating officer, Landrum Human Resources

Our friend Verne Harnish publishes a wonderful weekly email with insights and links to thought provoking stories from around the world. I highly recommend it; you can sign up here.

This week, Verne featured an article by Thomas Friedman that appeared in the March 6 New York Times. It’s an inspiring article about two Indian-American dreamers, Vinod Khosla and K. R. Sridhar. Khosla is working with Stanford professor Brent Constantz on creating clean energy from coal and gas. Khosla and Constantz were inspired by coral! Sridhar founded Bloom Energy, home of the Bloom Box. If you have not heard of the Bloom Box, they are small generating plants being tested by Google, Wal-Mart and others. You may have a Bloom Box at your house one day. It’s a great read; a very inspiring story. You can read Friedman’s article on the Times website.

Job Descriptions – Yes, You Really Do Need ‘Em

I have spoken to many business owners who do not believe in job descriptions. The explanation given to me is, “Their job is whatever I need them to do!” Sound familiar?
While I can understand this line of thought (to an extent), I also firmly believe in job descriptions.

Job descriptions, job performance and pay go hand-in-hand. An employer isn’t going to take a stab in the dark at how much to pay an employee; employees are paid based on how well they perform their jobs. How well someone performs is difficult to determine without knowing what the job entails. Likewise, an employee needs to know what is expected of them in order to meet your expectations – that’s where the job description comes in handy.

Aside from helping you determine the aspects of a job and the employee’s performance in that job, another important role of the job description is to identify the essential functions of a job. Hopefully we are all familiar with the term “essential functions” as it relates to employment. This is a term the Americans with Disabilities Act made common-speak among employers starting in 1990. The litmus test for disability protection has been to determine if an employee can perform the essential functions of the job, with or without reasonable accommodation.

Let’s say you have a dock worker who lifts 50-pound pallets and moves them from Point A to Point B. An essential function of that job is to lift 50 pounds. If that worker is injured (on or off the job), and his/her doctor states the employee can only lift ten pounds, then that employee cannot perform an essential function of that job. If the lifting restriction is long-term, you may have a legitimate business-related reason to make some employment decisions concerning that employee. If the restriction is temporary, a doctor can look at the job description and determine if and when the employee can return to normal duties – which helps you plan for needed staffing coverage.

Effective job descriptions should contain some basic elements:

1. Job Summary: Describes the purpose of the job – why the job exists
2. Essential Functions of the Job (already discussed)
3. Accountabilities: Describes the end results achieved when job duties are performed satisfactorily
4. Job Specifications: Includes needed skills, effort required, responsibility and working conditions

As you would expect, there are guidelines to follow when creating meaningful and useful job descriptions:

• Choose words carefully; be brief and concise
• Begin each sentence with an action verb
• Be specific
• Qualify wherever possible
Example: Instead of saying a file clerk should “file documents”, say that the
“position requires filing alphabetically”.
• Include only essential information (don’t include occasional duties)
• Describe the desired outcomes
• Focus on essential activities
• Use job title instead of people
Example: “This position reports to the General Manager”, instead of “Joe
Smith reports to Jane”.
• Update periodically (when responsibilities, needs, or technology significantly change)

Final Thoughts

If you currently don’t have job descriptions, or if they are not up-to-date and accurate, you should develop them for every job position in your business. If you do not have experienced and knowledgeable HR support, it is highly recommended to seek outside expertise and assistance in developing them.

For the reasons we’ve discussed here (and more), accurate and current job descriptions can be a useful tool for you and your business. If you are with the group that believes in the value of job descriptions, you’re among friends. If you are with the group that has never liked or wanted job descriptions, I encourage you to reconsider… we’re waiting for you on the other side.

Holly McLeod is a Human Resources Manager for Landrum Professional Employer Services and Landrum Consulting. She is a certified professional in human resources (PHR) and has more than 15 years of human resources consulting in the corporate world, healthcare and manufacturing environments.

Legislation Offers Tax Relief
March 3, 2010, 9:00 pm
Filed under: Notes from Ted | Tags: , , ,

The Florida Legislature and Governor Charlie Crist took unprecedented steps yesterday to offer tax relief to Florida employers. On the first day of session, the House of Representatives voted 117-0 in favor of a bill reducing unemployment taxes. The Senate followed suit, with a vote of 39-0. Almost immediately, Governor Crist signed the bill.

While this offers relief for Florida employers when compared to the previously announced increase, Florida employers can still expect to pay more in 2010 than than they did in 2009. The Florida Department of Revenue will begin calculating new tax rates for every employer in Florida and will be notifying employers of the new rates, presumably before mid-April.
The links below will provide you additional information: Pensacola News Journal, Miami Herald, Tallahassee Democrat, Orlando Sentinel

Ted Kirchharr is Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Landrum Human Resources. He is responsible for Landrum’s strategic planning, benefits administration, risk management, human resources and marketing. He has helped hundreds of organizations pursue strategic planning, institute quality control management, hone organizational development, instill leadership training and improve employee retention. He is President of the Florida Sterling Council.

Trust Human Resources
March 2, 2010, 5:38 pm
Filed under: Human Resources, Notes from Holly | Tags: , ,

In the Dilbert comic strip there is a character named “Catbert” (aka, the evil HR Director). I enjoy reading Dilbert; however, I also trust that not everyone views HR as “evil”. Believe it or not, HR professionals actually do have your best interest in mind when we give advice.

As an HR Manager for Landrum, I have the opportunity to work with a lot of different business owners and managers. As the relationships develop it becomes clear how to most effectively communicate with each owner/manager when giving advice. Sometimes all I have to do is say, “Come on, Sally, you know you shouldn’t do that.” Other times, with more formal relationships, it would be more like “Well, Ms. Smith, there are many reasons why it would be wise to re-evaluate your decision to terminate this pregnant employee who just disclosed she is being treated for depression, and who also just returned to work from a workers’ comp injury. Let’s start with the pregnancy…”

Like Catbert, your HR Manager will give advice. Unlike Catbert, we’re going to give you the best advice we know in order to keep you and your business compliant with the myriad of employment laws out there.

The next time you have an employee issue, one of the most important things you can do is to consult with Human Resources. The next important thing is to trust what HR is telling you. Whether you prefer the “Sally, you know better…” approach, or the “Ms. Smith, you might want to consider this…” approach, get to know your HR support people and develop a great working relationship with them. We’re not there to make your life difficult. We’re not there just to tell you “no”. We are there to help. We really do have your best interest in mind, and we really do want what’s best for all concerned.

Holly McLeod is a Human Resources Manager for Landrum Professional Employer Services and Landrum Consulting. She is a certified professional in human resources (PHR) and has more than 15 years of human resources consulting in the corporate world, healthcare and manufacturing environments.


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