HR Lagniappe

Louisiana SHRM

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Resolve to Be Flexible in 2013!

convo(This post, written by Lisa Horn, co-leader of SHRM’s Workplace Flexibility Initiative, originally appeared on the SHRM blog.  You will be interested to see that Louisiana is one of the 15 states that will be heavily involved with the When Work Works initiative this year!  You can follow Lisa on twitter for regular updates)


It’s that time again when we make our resolutions for the New Year – resolutions that we may or may not keep, of course, but that we make nonetheless. As we turn the corner into 2013, here’s a resolution HR professionals should make (and keep!) for their organization: BE FLEXIBLE!

The 21st century workplace and workforce demand that organizations think about work differently.  Work, for example, is no longer someplace we go, but tasks we complete from home, the airport, or the Little League bleachers.  Work means delivering results for customers and clients, not sitting in a cubicle after the work is completed for no reason other than not wanting to be the first to leave.

The Building Construction Products Division of Caterpillar Inc., with 95 employees based in Cary, N.C., is a Sloan Award-winning worksite that focuses on results.  Here, the leadership realizes that flexibility is not only a necessity for employees to manage their personal and professional issues, but it also helps the company attract new talent, ensuring that the company remains competitive in its field.  Caterpillar Inc. focuses on results, rather than hours worked, so employees understand that as long as they get their work done, supervisors are able to support flexible work schedules without questions.

All 362 recipients of the 2012 Sloan Award for Excellence in Workplace Effectiveness and Flexibility are excellent examples of organizations that have figured out how to make work “work” for both the employer and employees.  Whether they are well-known large firms, or medium or small organizations known primarily in their own communities, they embrace workplace flexibility as a business strategy.

So whether you are wondering how to make workflex a reality for your organization in the coming year or whether your company already utilizes innovative flex strategies, resolve in 2013 to get involved with When Work Works, a joint project of the Society for Human Resource Management and Families and Work Institute.

This national workplace flexibility initiative brings cutting-edge resources, research, and best practices uncovered through the Sloan Award to HR professionals and business leaders across the country via a network of community partners.  When Work Works will be rolling into 15 target states in 2013 –Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Dakota, Washington – and continuing in California. Keep an eye out for a program near you!

Applications for the 2013 Sloan Award open on Jan. 14, providing you an opportunity to either showcase your organization’s flexible work environment or learn how your worksite stacks up against other employers. Apply online at

Don’t let this resolution end up like that gym membership – unused! Flexible work is the future of work.  Your organization’s ability to compete may just depend on it.

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Light Bulb Moments and Getting Ready for #lashrm13

Baton Rouge downtown bridgeAs we get ready for the 2013 Louisiana SHRM State Conference on HR (#lashrm13), we thought it might be fun to share a recap post from the 2012 conference.  Bill Boorman led a concurrent session last year in New Orleans and we are thrilled to have him return for the 2013 event where he will be our closing keynote speaker on Tuesday, April 9th talking about “The ‘Cult’ of Work.” You’ll also be able to catch him running a concurrent session on Monday April 8th with Robin Schooling entitled “HR’s Turning Point: Are You Staying in Place or Moving Forward?”

Enjoy the post below which was Bill’s recap of the 2012 conference; we like to call it ‘a view from the UK.’  And make plans to join us in 2013 as we bring the conference to Baton Rouge!


Light Bulb Moments from New Orleans #LASHRM

It’s been a few weeks now since I got back from #LASHRM in New Orleans. I have something I always do a few weeks after an event. I take some blank sheets of paper and I write down a few statements and words under 3 headings:

> What do I remember? What were the light bulb moments?

> Who do I remember?

> Out of 10, would I go back again?

Just for a change I thought it would share the first and last sections publicly, and for the record, in terms of who I remember, it was one of the longest lists from any event. This was a memorable event with a memorable crowd.

My light bulb moments:

> If you only connect with people like you, you will learn nothing and gain nothing.

> Diversity is as much about personality as colour, race etc

> Your network is your posse who are in your corner.

> If we all think the same some of us are irrelevant

> It’s not what you know it’s who you know, and that’s a good thing, despite negative connotations. Network intentionally.

> When you reward people for what you want them to do before you ask them to do it, they are much more likely to do what you want compared with rewarding them only if they do it.

> New Orleans is both one of the 5 most friendly cities in the world, and also the 5 most dangerous at the same time.

> Gumbo with everything is perfectly acceptable.

> It’s better to be the party than go to the party.

> People who earn $14.5 Mn a year essentially want the same things from work and colleagues as people on minimum wage. People are people whatever the status.

> Creating opportunities for accidental engagement is the best way to get people to ask what they really want to know. talking in places like car parks and water coolers beats meetings in offices because of informality. Executives need to create plenty of opportunities for this to happen.

> 5% of the people influence the behavior of the other 95%. The key is knowing who the 5% are, what motivates them and reaching them.

> Its more effective to manage the work rather than the hours.

> It’s easier to take the work to where the skills are than take try to bring the skills to the work.

> People have better technology in their houses than they have in their offices.

> Don’t be afraid to fly the freak flag.

> Best practice is not innovation.

> State conferences beat champagne headline events for content and community.

> Police horses fit in bars.

> You can tap dance by fitting tin can lids on the bottom of your shoes.

>If you are communicating the need for change, you need to deliver it as a benefit to the ones who are going to have to do the changing, not the benefit to you.

> When you give an order, people will follow but absolve themselves from responsibility for the outcome.

> American service can be as bad as UK service, they just wish you a “nice day” after.

> I’d like to work for Rose Hudson, the CEO of Louisiana State Lottery.

> The worst and most dangerous type of prejudice is delivered by people who would not consider themselves prejudiced.

> You don’t go to work, work comes to you.

> Robin Schooling is quite brilliant at getting everyone together. We all went to New Orleans because Robin asked. That’s the power of personal connections.

> Everyone in Louisiana talks about their life in 2 parts. Before the storm and after the storm.

> User adoption is more important than technical capability in HR Tech.

> Most people operate their current technology at 20%.

> New Orleans has gone through the rebuilding period and is now in the renaissance period. Town branding is important for its citizens.

> Jazz is quite cool but Blues is better.

> Big Al Carson should be a worldwide star.

That’s what I remembered from #LASHRM, and it’s a big list. I remembered a whole lot of new people. Thanks to you all, it was a lot of fun.

And the last bit, my score for if I would go back, it’s 11 out of 10! Brilliant conference. Brilliant time, and I’m already plotting #truNewOrleans for later in the year.


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Employee Development is Crucial to Employee Engagement

Today’s guest post is by Craig Juengling who will be presenting a session on Thursday April 26th at the Louisiana SHRM State Conference entitled “Becoming the Employer of Choice.” You can find Craig here


The business outcomes achieved with a highly engaged workforce can propel your company to improved market share and profitability… and a significant reduction in absenteeism, turnover, product defects and accidents. Research from Towers Watson helps leaders focus on the five most important drivers of employee engagement. This post will focus on employee development.

There are four major elements to bring a focused and disciplined process to employee development at your company.  These elements are derived from employee engagement leaders of the industry like Gallup, Marcus Buckingham, Towers Watson, Dale Carnegie and others.

  • Understand and allow your employees to use their strengths. A workplace poll taken in 2001 revealed that only 17% of the surveyed employees felt they used their strengths at work “most of the time”. I would further argue most leaders, managers and supervisors have no clue about their direct reports’ strengths, much less how to use those strengths.  You can build a more effective team by hiring people with diverse strengths and then allow them to use them as a team. When you understand their strengths and how to use them, you create an engaged employee as well.
  • Encourage professional growth and development. Most people are genuinely curious and desirous of personal and professional growth. Through conferences, coaching, mentoring programs and just being more intentional about giving people the opportunity to take on new assignments and roles, you can demonstrate to your employees how important their personal growth is to you. And while they grow, they become an even more valuable “asset” for the company too.
  • Create achievable challenges. When you challenge your employees, you show them you have higher expectations for them and how they contribute. I think you also show them respect when you see their potential. Remember to make their higher expectations achievable. If you raise the bar too high, they will smack into it. I once worked for a guy who set budgets so unrealistically, the incentive plan tied to beating budgets became a disincentive plan. Achievable challenges create the opportunity for personal growth!
  • Have an ongoing dialogue about employee performance. Don’t wait until the end of the performance review year to let folks know how they performed; make the conversation continuous. Take every opportunity to recognize the job well done and take advantage of those teachable moments.  We all want feedback and some need it more than others. Find balance in your comments, but find the time for the conversation.

Employee development is one of the most important drivers of employee engagement and you have control over it every day. When you invest in your employees, you invest in their future and yours as well.


Why I’m Going to #LASHRM12 – Connections

While I have been an HR professional for over a decade now, I have only become committed to developing my professional network the last 2 years. After unsuccessfully persuading my employer to venture into social media, I started my own blog last year. Since then, I have been waiting for the right time to step from behind my cartoon avatar and start to meet in real life some of the great HR professionals I’ve met online. 

When I learned about the Louisiana SHRM conference through twitter, I knew it was the event for me!

–        The conference speakers list reads like Who’s Who of HR Power Players. Their voices and influence are undeniable and contagious! There is no doubt I will learn new things, refresh old skills and walk away inspired after listening to this group.

–        My social media peops will be there. At last count, there were half a dozen people that I regularly email, tweet, chat and “poke” through social media channels who will attend LASHRM12. It feels more like a reunion than a typical, stuffy conference! I am excited to spend time in session and out of session with folks like Robin Schooling, Chris Ponder, Dan Crosby, William Tincup, Dwane LayJoe Gerstandt, Jason Lauritsen and Shauna Moerke – and the peops these peops call their peops!

–        It’s a big conference but feels small. As much as I love social media, I am not the most social butterfly. Brand new people and brand new places make me a little nervous. LASHRM12 offers some of the best of balance in this area. I’ve heard over 400 professionals attend but the setup of the center and sessions still feel intimate and familiar. 

And I also hear there will be beignets and beads. Lots of them. Yum and yay! Laissez les bons temps rouler! See y’all in N’Awlins!


Today’s guest post is from Buzz Rooney – a practicing HR Professional with over 10 years experience in the production, manufacturing and retail industries. She currently works for a large retail franchise handling employee relations, health benefits, COBRA, wellness, leave of absence and compliance.

Buzz has Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies with a focus on Organizational Communication and Leadership as well as a Master’s Degree in Human Resources Management. She is also a part-time HR consultant offering resume writing, basic management coaching, process improvement and compliance assistance services.

When not working or writing or researching, Buzz is a single mom with 2 young children living in North Carolina. She enjoys mindlessly watching television, spending time with friends and family, reading, eating and sleeping.

Read more of her writings, connect and contact her through her blog’s website: The Buzz on HR (

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Meet the #LASHRM12 Speakers – Jennifer Ledet

I was chatting with a client recently, and she said, “Well, you know, we’re really in the relationship business.” As I noodled that concept, my first thought was, “Well show me an organization that’s not in the relationship business.”

The client happened to be an international non-profit organization and one could clearly make the connection that relationships play a vital role in their “business”. The next day, as I spoke to a group of bankers, I thought, “well these guys and gals are surely in the relationship business!” My clients in the healthcare, insurance, engineering, manufacturing, and technology industries are all in the relationship business.

Let’s face it. We’re all in the relationship business, regardless of the industry or product or service we provide. We all know that people do business with people they:

  • Know
  • Like, and
  • Trust

Team members are loyal, committed and engaged when their leader is someone they know, like, and trust.

Relationships — building, nurturing, and maintaining them — are at the core of your business. Without customers, you would have no reason for being. Without employees you would likely not be able to provide the goods or services to your customers – or at least not in a timely fashion.

How’s Ya Mama ‘n’ ‘Em? No, I haven’t taken leave of my grammatical senses. This is a very common expression here in South Louisiana.

It is our way of asking how a person is doing, how their family is doing, and what’s going on in their lives outside of work. And it’s a huge part of our culture. I think it’s a practice that, if you implement it in your interactions with others, could just possibly change your work culture too.

Taking a few minutes to engage someone in a conversation about themselves is a great way to invest in the relationship. Most people like to talk about themselves and are flattered that you’re interested enough to ask. The key, though, is that your interest must be sincere and genuine — not like your interactions with your “pseudo friends” on Facebook, (or as my friend James calls it, “Spacebook”).

Theodore Roosevelt said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” This holds true for your team members as well as your customers. In fact, in many ways, you should treat your employees as you would a valued customer. And yes, it does take some effort and a little bit of time. But, consider it a deposit in your relationship account, and always strive to make more deposits than you do withdrawals in that account.

This ability to take an interest in others may not come naturally for everyone. And that’s okay, because it’s a skill you can learn. I had a client once who was an introvert and who needed coaching in this area. He was so analytical, that he wanted a specific formula for creating great relationships. I remember he even asked me how many minutes he would need to engage in conversation with team members. (I could picture him setting an egg timer on the desk to time the conversation precisely!)

There is no magic formula for creating great relationships. Here are just a few quick tips:

  • Ask questions about his family. (You can start with “How’s Ya Mama ‘n’ ‘Em?”)
  • Notice what she talks about — hobbies, interests, etc. and ask about them. (Ex: “How long have you been competing in underwater basket weaving?”)
  • Make a mental note of, say, his weekend plans so that on Monday you can ask how it went. (Ex: “How was the fishing trip? Did ya’ll catch? I must’ve missed your call inviting me to supper.”)
  • It’s also okay to engage in brief group conversations after a big weekend or event. (Ex: “How ’bout dem Saints?”)

Your ability to influence team members to perform and produce will hinge directly on the relationship that you have created with them. Taking an interest in them, their family, and life outside of work is a small investment to make with potentially huge returns.

What? You say you can’t afford to take the time to engage in conversation with your employees or customers? I say you can’t afford not to. Your business success depends on it.

By the way, “How’s ya Mama ‘n’ em?”


Today’s guest post comes from Jennifer Ledet, SPHR, who is the owner of Ledet Management Consulting in Thibodaux.  Check out Jennifer here, follow her on Twitter, and join her at the Friday  session Leadership… Cajun Style! The GUMBO Recipe for Success.

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Meet the #LASHRM12 Speakers – Laura Wolfe

Today’s guest post is by Laura Wolfe who will be presenting a session on Friday, April 27th.


If you have 3 minutes, sit back and relax and enjoy a wonderful, bluesy Bonnie Raitt tune called Trinkets. Saw her at the fest a few years ago and she’ll be back again this year.

Love the lyrics:

“Mom and daddies get a good idea what your babies want

To help ’em be happy…”

Change a few words and it’s smart advice for managers and supervisors – get a good idea what your valued employees want, To help ’em be happy…

Why? Because happy employees, positive employees, those in a good mood tend to be better than miserable employees at achieving some important outcomes. Science has found evidence this is the case. 🙂 Do you know what makes employees happy? Is it money, benefits, time, or the intrinsic stuff? I’ll share research, benchmarks and best practices for figuring this out.

Do you think much about the relationship between pay dispersion (pay differences within a group) and turnover? Or, whether a firm’s performance history is a factor in CEO pay decisions? I’ll throw in the latest on these questions too.

What else is new in the world of getting employees to produce at the top of their game? Recently saw this tidbit: praising for effort rather than outcome increases performance, task persistence and task enjoyment in students. Could it be the same for your employees? Do you consider or advise managers on how to praise employees?

And finally, I’m loving the work of Dan Pink, Carol Dweck and Teresa Amabile right about now.

This is the direction of my Louisiana SHRM session titled “Total Rewards and Motivation: Mistakes, Myths and What’s Working” which is scheduled for Friday morning of the conference. It is only the tip of the iceberg however, because as you know, total rewards’ relationship to motivation is a huge area of knowledge.  My challenge is culling out the most relevant and interesting for our discussion at Louisiana SHRM.

The goal is to present the latest thinking but I am pretty sure I can get some music, video and action into the session as well.  Here’s looking forward to a fabulous conference!


Laura Wolfe earned her MS and PhD in Industrial Organizational Psychology from The University of Georgia in Athens and her BS in Hotel, Restaurant, & Tourism Administration from the University of New Orleans.  Prior to starting her own firm, she worked for LSU’s Rucks Department of Management, with periodic gigs as department undergrad advisor, faculty advisor for Sigma Iota Epsilon and SHRM at LSU adviser.  Follow her blog and hang out with her at Jazz Fest.

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Meet the #LASHRM12 Speakers – Craig Juengling

Today’s guest post is by Craig Juengling who will be presenting a session on Thursday April 26th entitled “Becoming the Employer of Choice.”


Become the Employer of Choice – Focus on Employee Engagement!

What would you do with 5 to 10 extra hours in your work week, every week? Could you use it to finally finish off those projects that never seem to get done? Or, would you become the proactive leader that drives bottom line results and begins to implement your vision for what your work world could be… and finally stop the reactive circus that consumes your regular day.

The average manager spends about 18% of their day managing employees. That’s everything from hiring, firing, managing the petty conflicts but also the good stuff that comes with being a manager.  But would your performance skyrocket by cutting that 18% in half? What if your turnover dropped by nearly 50%? What if your absenteeism ratcheted down by 37%? What if the time you spent investigating and solving safety incidents declined because incidents declined by 49%? I bet you’d have a whole lot more time in your day. All of these positive outcomes can occur with the results that come from a focus on creating a highly engaged workforce!*

Employee engagement is very different from employee satisfaction. Satisfaction is a left brain rational thought process that focuses on issues like pay equity, workplace conditions, fairness of the boss and the performance review methods. It is very much a “head” thing.  Employee engagement is when you have your employee’s heart… you have made an emotional connection with the employee, their values are aligned with the company’s and they see their success being inextricably intertwined with the success of the employer.  The outcomes from engaged employees are vastly different from satisfied employees. The examples in the second paragraph are just a beginning… the engaged employee’s contributions are beyond production, they volunteer for countless projects and squelch the negativity of the naysayers.

The path to creating engaged employees is long, but amazingly inexpensive. It’s not about wooden clocks, gold watches or expensive retreats. It’s about understanding the “drivers of engagement” and how to bring them alive at your company. It’s about doing a real employee engagement survey (not a satisfaction survey) and holding yourself and managers accountable for following through on the opportunities for improvement. It’s about consistency because going from good to great takes time. It’s about understanding the tactics that demonstrate your commitment to employee well-being.

The role of leadership is crucial to creating a highly engaged workforce.  Personal buy-in AND involvement is non-negotiable; creating the vision of what the engaged workplace looks like and the employees’ role in getting there must be articulated frequently and completely. Every manager, supervisor and leader must be on the same page and speak to engagement with one voice.

Wouldn’t you love to come to work because you love where you work? How about the rest of your folks?

Over the next 15 years, 80 million baby boomers may retire, changing the demographics of your workforce forever. With nearly 35% of the workforce potentially retiring, the war for talent will become absolutely fierce. Employee engagement represents that game – changing opportunity to get out front of the competition and transform your work world.

*Research from Gallup Consulting and 12 The Elements of Great Managing by Rodd Wagner and Dr. James Harter.


Craig Juengling’s session is guaranteed to get you thinking about Employee Engagement and putting some plans into action.  At the age of 29 Craig was already running his first hospital and by the time he left that company 7 years later he was responsible for 11 hospitals in 7 states.  He then proceeded, over the course of 10 years, to build Maryland’s second largest specialty hospital system.  Today, Craig is a Professional and Executive Coach with an MBA from LSU where he also serves on the faculty of LSU’s Stephenson Entrepreneurship Institute Executive Education Program.  You can follow Craig on Twitter and find him blogging and sharing insight at The E2 Coach.