Trust Those You Hire

At a company where I once found myself employed as the HR Manager, the bossman didn’t trust his employees. And in case you need me to spell it out for you, this is not a good thing.

I had decided to take advantage of those PTO days that I was told were unlimited (but really weren’t) and went abroad to some random corner of the earth. I had a company credit card and decided that it wasn’t worth risking losing it abroad so I put it in a safe little corner of one of the drawers next to my desk.

I thought I was doing something right (responsible even?) but when I told my boss that I was leaving it, I was doing a bad, bad, irresponsible thing. Because he didn’t trust his own employees.

I came back a while later after my trip , looked for my card and couldn’t find it. I nervously told my boss the news and he said he had taken it because he didn’t think it was a good idea to have it sitting in my (closed!) drawer when I’d told him I’d left the card in there.

He meant that I’d told him out loud. But by “out loud,” I mean indoor voice in the truest sense of the word. I sat right next to him, so it wasn’t as though I was screaming across the office. Most people wore their headphones anyways. Jesus fucking christ, are you serious? I thought.

And who was he afraid was going to take it? One of his employees, duh. Which is downright fucking insulting to the people who were working hard to make his machine work. We had a couple of temps, but they’d been with us for a few months and were looking to be hired full time, so they sure as hell wouldn’t go and take the company credit card out of my drawer. In plain site. Next to where he sat.

At first, I let myself feel really bad for this. I beat myself up and told myself I was stupid. But then I realized that I wasn’t the stupid one. I’d done something reasonable and it wasn’t my fault that the bossman didn’t trust his own employees. If he was going to let himself be consumed with thoughts of his staff robbing him, he wasn’t going to have much time to focus on his business.

So, please, if you’re hiring someone, make sure you trust them.

Sick? Then Stay the F*&# Home.

Please?

I expressed in my last post how annoying it is when people don’t feel comfortable enough taking days off for vacation and PTO policies are basically bullshit. Now I’d like to talk about how not taking sick days off from work is the literal worst. For everyone.

One of my good friends said to me, “Oh I’m sick as a dog. Worst flu I’ve ever had. I’m determined to not take any sick days this year though.”

I threw my HR manager hat on and I nearly lost my shit and flew off the handle as much as you can on Gchat. I said, with zero sugar coating, “Keep your ass at home. NOBODY wants to get your damn flu!”

She then explained that she was, in fact, at home, but she was WFH and that’s how she would get away without using any of her sick days. I’m not sure why, but as long as she’s not getting her colleagues sick, that’s fine by me (and I’m assuming by her colleagues as well!).

I rarely get sick. I’ve taken, like, 5 sick days in 8 years. (I should add: Knock on wood! before I come down with the plague or something.) But those five days that I’ve called in sick, I was really sick and I knew no one wanted anything to do with my sick self and anything that didn’t get done that day, well, no one would die (I’m not a doctor). Life went on and my colleagues didn’t get sick.

In closing: Don’t be one of those wanna-be office rockstars who never calls out sick (don’t say you “don’t get sick” because I’ll bet you $1,000 that you do from time to time). Everyone will hate you. Especially HR. Because you have sick days, presumably. So, use them goddamnit.

 

A Culture Problem / Unlimited PTO

I was once the HR manager at a small, early stage start-up and we had an unlimited PTO policy. And we had a culture problem. These were not my words; the CEO said them.

One of my colleagues, let’s call her Susan, called out sick two days in a row – once was to go to the doctor. Since we had an unlimited PTO policy, we supposedly trusted our employees to take the time they needed as long as their job was getting done. And we didn’t require a doctor’s note to be presented. Because we’re all adults, right? And sometimes adults get sick and need to take a day or two off.

But she came back and emailed the CEO and myself a doctor’s note. The CEO turned to me and said, “We have a culture problem if she feels like she needs to do that.” I agreed and asked when he’d like to address this. Apparently the answer to that question was “never” because he never addressed it and the culture problem got worse.

To all the baby boomers out there, “unlimited PTO” sounds amazing. But it’s really just a way to avoid paying out your employees for vacation time if they’re laid off or resign. It’s been studied and the studies show that people with unlimited PTO policies take less vacations. I mean, hey, they’re not going to lose anything if they don’t take them, and they could lose their job if they take too many, so why risk it?!?!

At the company where I worked, “unlimited” meant probably 15 days. But don’t abuse it or otherwise you’re going to get dressed down like a child because you’re actually not an adult, but a child who needs to be told that they’re taking too much time off.

Susan stayed fearful that the CEO hated her, asking me multiple times, and that she was always on the chopping block. Not only that, but a new manager for Susan was hired and he blatantly disliked Susan and would straight-up ignore her when she had questions. This manager also threw a fit when she would WFH, which she only did because she had a young child. I sat down for a meeting with him and the executives and it was determined that there would be no WFH allowed. Except for the executives and that manager. We had a WFH policy that made no sense for a start-up and the managers and executives ignored it.

The culture problem at the company was never addressed, it became worse, and people who were important to the success of the company left. The vibe of the office was unbearable by the time I left.

Look, if you have an unlimited PTO policy, make your employees use it and don’t then try to micromanage them when they do use it. And if you realize the company has a culture problem, try to find the root and please, for the love of your company, do something about it. 

The True Cost of Hiring

Last week I took a continuing education class about the essentials of HR (fundamentals are the building blocks of fun, right?!). I had never taken an HR class and I absolutely loved it. One part of one day was about recruiting and the professor talked about the costs associated with hiring. He said it cost around $25,000 to recruit one new employee.

I thought that stat sounded insane. He talked about the time that people already working at the company would take to interview a new hire and the time spent on boarding that person after they were hired, etc.

I know that the time taken away from the current employee’s job could seem like a lot, but that’s already assuming that everyone is busy 24/7, every single second that they’re at their desk.

We all know this isn’t true. 

Computers have automated day-to-day tasks to the point where something that once took an hour now takes 5 minutes. Most people are only productive and engaged about 50% of the time, and the other times they’re eating or goofing off.  I mean, come on.

I know it’s called work, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t also be fun. At least sometimes. Your employees aren’t going to stick around very long if you run your office like an SS officer.

So, interviewing and hiring sucks. I get it. It’s a time suck, but what else are you doing? I’m sure you can spare the time. We all need to stop pretending to be constantly busy and take the downtown at work in stride and not beat ourselves up.

And stop overestimating how much hiring costs. The on boarding might cost some real cash-money, for sure, but bringing people into chat for a half hour with a few team members? I’m sure those team members are grateful for the chance to get the eff away from their desks.

Chill out, everyone! Chill.

Massachusetts Kicks Some Ass

So this news came out last week and I think it’s fuckin’ awesome. I believe asking people about prior pay history does fuck them over if they weren’t making a fair salary, and hopefully this will alleviate it and make employers pay people what they think they’re worth to their company instead of something that’s an appropriate jump from their last salary.

In layman’s terms, you won’t know just how much you can lowball someone when you make them an offer any more. 

I think a lot of people are saying this is awesome, as they should. There will always be naysayers though. HR blogger Kris Dunn doesn’t think this is a good idea. You can read why here. I think he is insane and is the one who has lost his mind. Though, as a side note: He also wrote praising Walmart for pledging to make 250 million more American jobs. Yeah, the company that makes jobs that pay $7/hr, doesn’t give health benefits to their full time employees, has food drives for it’s own employees, and also teaches their employees how to apply for Medicaid because they’re so poorly paid. Yeah, let’s praise those fuckers. I don’t think so. This article also says it’ll be bad for employees. That is also from a conservative blog, so take it with a grain of salt. They’re going to say any and everything is bad for employees and not give two shits about equal pay.

I understand one of her points – wasting time with people that you can’t afford to hire – but that’s why you make the salary requirement box on your applicant tracking system a required space.

I think this is a great law because of a personal experience. Last summer a recruiter reached out to me about an opportunity. I was bored at my job, though I loved the company and people that I worked with, so I said I’d explore the opportunity. When I told the recruiter to ask for a certain number, he said, “I’m not sure I’ll get that. That’s a 10k jump from what you’re making now.” And I said something to the effect of that I was underpaid and if he really wanted to hire me, he’d pay me what I was asking.

Well, he did end up paying me a salary that was 10k over what I was presently making. But the fact that the recruiter didn’t want to ask for it was the problem. The recruiter also turned out to be a shithead, but that’s another story. The point is that if he hadn’t been allowed to ask my current salary, he wouldn’t have had any reason to say, “I’m not sure I’ll get that.”

So, to reiterate, I’m super happy about this law and I hope it goes national, too.

When You Apply For a Job

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I’m not entirely sure a kitten in a semi-Nazi uniform is appropriate, but I’m Jewish, so this absolves any thought of anti-semitism, right? Good.

It always baffles me when I read resumes and cover letters that have typos in them. And not just one – but many typos. I always think, “What? Didn’t someone do a once over on this application before submitting?” The answer is a resounding no. I’m also talking about incorrect grammar (ex. “everyone who met me say….”). Poor spelling. Little or no punctuation. And zero paragraph breaks (excuse me, how is my poor brain supposed to decipher your block of text?).

If you can’t take an extra two minutes to double check your work, you’re certainly not going to start being more mindful once you get hired. If you could coast in the application process, you’ll probably coast on the job. Is that me making an assumption? Possibly.

Then there are the people who can’t even be bothered to write a short cover letter. Again, if you can’t bother to cobble together 3 short paragraphs (a whole 9-12 sentences), you’re not someone I want to consider.

Maybe it’s because I’m a person who couldn’t imagine sending a resume to a company minus a cover letter, but unless it’s for a position such as an engineer, how you write can tell your hiring manager a lot about you and why would you give up that chance to tell the person who you’re asking for a job a little bit more about you?

I can tell you that I only take a good hard look at resumes if the cover letter is good. If there is no cover letter, I usually don’t look at the resumes. I can make a million assumptions about you based on your resume, but only your cover letter can tell me, in your words, what you’re excellent at and why I should hire you.

What is WTF, HR?

So, you’ve found yourself here at this strange little blog and you’re wondering, how did I get here? Who is this person? What is life?

Okay, maybe not the last part, but the prior two I totally get.

I’m just an HR professional in a large city in America who needs a place to vent her frustration and outrage. I also do recruiting, so a large part of this will be me trying to make sense of poorly written applications, too.