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The Springfield Area HRA shares it's knowledge and expertise of all things Human Resources related.


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Top tags: benefits  bereavement  communication  comp  company policy  compensation  conference  grief  hr  recertification credits  supervisor  training  wage survey  wages 

Grief in the Workplace

Posted By Valerie Adams, Communications Chair, Monday, March 19, 2018

Many of us in the HR field chose our career path (or it chose us!) because of our desire to help people.  When co-workers are grieving, it can be difficult to know how to help our colleagues in a meaningful way. Since tragedies can strike in the blink of an eye, HR professionals need to be prepared at all times with tools to assist grieving employees during the difficult time. 

Company Policies & Benefits

Having thorough knowledge of the company’s policies and benefit plans that support the bereaved is crucial – for not only the HR department, but supervisors and managers as well. If these policies are not in place, it’s important that the HR department develops and implements such policies proactively.  A bereavement policy should be a standard part of the employee handbook - clearly stating the amount of bereavement leave available, the family member relationships for which the policy applies, any documentation the employee may need to provide, and that the leave is provided independent of vacation, sick, or other paid time off policies. 

In the HR role, we have access to ways to assist those grieving in the workplace – including oftentimes overlooked resources available through many company benefit plans. From mental health assistance covered under health plans to Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) that many companies provide for their staff, the HR team can help the grieving person explore which options may be right for them if they do have a need for additional support. Even if your organization does not have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), assistance may be available through the company’s health or other benefit plans. 

Management Training

Providing sensitivity training to management can be beneficial so they are equipped to help the grieving employee.  Although most organizations have an Open Door policy that encourages employees to discuss any issues that may arise, managers should be reminded that employees may not always seek the assistance of their manager in these situations – they may feel more comfortable speaking with another member of the management team or someone in HR. Wherever the employee seeks support within the organization, empathy can make all the difference.  

Open Communication

Communication is always important when you’re in HR, but times of grief and tragedy communication can have an even greater impact. The HR professional must handle the delicate task of respecting the grieving employee’s privacy while still providing enough information to coworkers so they allow the employee the space and time the employee needs to grieve. A good starting point for HR is to ask the employee how they would prefer their colleagues to address (or refrain from addressing) their loss when the employee returns to work.  

Another key part of communicating with a grieving employee is to let them know of the local resources available outside of the company benefit plan. Providing employees with information on local resources such as the Lost and Found Grief Center and support groups through CoxHealth allows the employee to seek support services privately when they have a need.

Being prepared and having the grief assistance resources on hand when these difficult situations arise can make all the difference when our colleagues have need.


Tags:  bereavement  communication  company policy  grief 

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SWMO Spring HR Conference & Expo

Posted By Robin Horton, Conference Chair, Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Like Spiderman you know that “with great power, comes great responsibility”. Some days you even feel like you can leap buildings in a single bound like Superman, but all days you know that when it comes to HR you are more than your typical superHeRo! (See what we did there?)

This year’s spring SWMO Spring HR Conference & Expo hosted by SAHRA on Wednesday, April 18, is sure to fuel your inner superhero, and is designed for everybody with any human resources responsibility from a supervisor to the full-time HR professional. You will gain:

  • Relevant information and knowledge,
  • Legal updates,
  • superHeRo peer relationships,
  • Six HRCI or SHRM recertification credits.

The speaker and topic lineup is epic, covering topics that are top-of-mind for every workplace, including:

  • Employee engagement,
  • Recruitment,
  • Legal updates,
  • Active shooter training, and
  • Mentoring.

The conference lineup is:

“Whose Superhero Are You? Managers as Mentors” – John Thomas Read more


“Surviving an Active Shooter or Violent Intruder” – Officer Eric Schroeder Read more


“Super Villains and Kryptonite – Handling New Legal Challenges in 2018” – Tim Davis Read more


“The Hero’s Test of Fire: Fighting Your Biggest Battles of Change” – Alex Cobb Read more


“Employees Using Super Powers to Engage & Retain Talent – Karen Shannon Read more


“HR: More than Your Typical Superhero” – Spencer Harris, Ph.D. Read more


"The Legal Do's and Don'ts of Hiring & Firing" – Heather Rooney McBride Read more


"Lead with Courage, Heart and Mind: Creating Company Culture" - Mark Steiner Read more...


If you already know what you need to know, you can register here.

If you’re not sure yet, below is more information about our presenters and what you will gain from the 7th Annual Southwest Missouri Human Resources Conference & Expo. 

“The Hero’s Test of Fire” – Alex Cobb

Learn how to fight your organization’s biggest battles of change and embrace your organization’s tough decisions.

Alex serves as the Chief Human Resource Officer at SeniorAge – a nonprofit agency helping individuals over the age of 60 experience truly “Golden Years”. Raised in Missouri, he has lived in Taiwan, Chicago, and Iowa before returning “home”. Married for 25+ years with three sons, Alex loves spending time with his family and enjoys reading, racquetball, and rock ‘n’ roll. He cannot leap even short buildings with a single bound, but Alex loves to inspire and empower individuals and organizations to accomplish great things.

“Super Villains and Kryptonite – Handling New Legal Challenges in 2018” – Tim Davis

This program will discuss recent and expected changes in the law to ensure HR professionals are up-to-date on new compliance obligations and best practices. Learning Objectives: know new laws and regulations, understand impact politicians will have on the workplace in 2018, and coordinate best practices discussion on addressing new requirements.

Tim Davis concentrates his practice on labor and employment law in the exclusive representation of management. Tim is recognized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as a “Top Ranked Labor & Employment Lawyer”, by Ingram’s as a “Best Lawyer”, and by LRI as one of the “Top Labor Lawyers in America”. He advises and defends clients on all aspects of the employer/employee relationship with special focus on labor relations/union avoidance. Tim is also active in the human resources community as a member of the Society of Human Resource Management and former President of SHRM-KC. He has been invited to speak at the National SHRM convention on labor relations topics multiple times and also regularly speaks for state and local SHRM and other professional and business associations.

“Surviving an Active Shooter or Violent Intruder” – Officer Eric Schroeder

Employees will gain knowhow to respond to an active shooter situation.  Companies will receive information for creating a strategy for preventing and handling such situations. All participants will discover statistics regarding and warning signs that precipitate such incidents.

Eric Shroeder has been a police officer in Springfield, Missouri for 17 years. He holds undergraduate degrees in psychology, administration of justice from College of the Ozarks and a master's degree in criminal justice with a graduate certificate in terrorism studies. He is nationally accredited through ALICE as an active shooter instructor, Department of Homeland Security/Center for Disaster Preparedness as an instructor, Missouri POST generalist instructor for law enforcement, and C.R.A.S.E instructor through a grant program with the FBI and Bureau of Justice. He has presented this program to schools, business, churches, and at numerous other professional conferences. He is also an adjunct college instructor for both seated and online criminal justice courses.

“Employees Using Super Powers to Engage & Retain Talent” – Karen Shannon

Leaders know that they must have the best talent in order to succeed in a competitive environment.  Employee engagement is the primary enabler behind the successful execution of any business strategy.  HR professionals become the Super HeRo of their organization when they help leaders understand who is most likely to leave the organization and they implement strategies to engage and retain talent.   Participants will receive a model to determine what drives each individual’s engagement, as well as methods for proactive engagement and talent retention.  Participants will complete their own Engagement Self-Assessment to determine how often they take specific actions to increase individuals’ job satisfaction and engagement.

Karen Shannon is the Human Resources & Business Consulting Director for Ollis/Akers/Arney and has served in senior leadership positions in banking and human resources for over 25 years. In the past, she has led a team that provided HR services to 5,000 employees across the US, United Kingdom, India, and Mexico. Today, she works with over 100 clients in the Midwest on key business and HR strategies, which have resulted in cost savings upward of $7 million for her clients. Karen received her MBA and BA in Business Administration and Economics from Drury University. She is a graduate of Leadership Missouri and serves on the Public Policy Task Force for the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce. In 2000, Karen was recognized as one of Springfield Business Journal’s Most Influential Women.

“Whose Superhero Are You? Managers as Mentors” - John Thomas

Mentoring is more than a buzzword or formalized program and occurs daily in your organization.  In this session, John will convince you of the value, as well as discuss misconceptions and practical ways to mentor.  Discover and understand the critical, influential and practical role the manager possesses in mentoring those they lead.  Learn 6 myths of mentoring.  Using current data, understand the value of mentoring.  Discuss and discover 6 practical practices that empower managers to mentor those they lead.

John Thomas currently serves as a Human Resources Consultant for the University of Missouri System in Columbia. For more than 20 years, John has been addressing audiences with an inspiring and entertaining manner. In addition to his role at UM System, he does independent consulting and has worked with Sonic Drive-In, Missouri Society of Human Resources Management State Conference, and SHRM chapters in Northwest, West Central, and Central Missouri on issues of employee engagement, morale, organizational climate and culture, and professional development opportunities. From 2005-2013, John served as an assistant football coach at Truman State University. Regardless of the audience, his goal is to enrich, encourage, and elevate the lives of every individual he interacts with.

The Legal Do's and Don'ts of Hiring & Firing – Heather Rooney McBride

Attendees will learn best practices from a legal perspective on (a) interviewing and hiring prospective employees and (b) preparing to and terminating employees. Practical examples will be provided of what to do and what not to do in different scenarios, including helpful tips for managers and human resource professionals. 

Attorney Heather Rooney-McBride is the founding member of Rooney McBride & Smith, LLC. Heather primarily practices in the areas of corporate law, including compliance, human resources, and employment issues, as well as business transactions and litigation, and estate planning.

Heather graduated second in her class and with Order of the Coif honors from Drake University Law School. Before law school, Heather attended Evangel University, where she graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in Spanish and a minor in music. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Evangel University, the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, Maranatha Village Retirement Community, the ACE mentorship program, and she is a Board of Directors member and the Board attorney for the Springfield Regional Arts Council. Heather is also a member of the Missouri Bar Association, the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association, the National Association of Professional Women, and the Society of Human Resource Management.

"Lead with Courage, Heart and Mind: Creating Company Culture" - Mark Steiner

Walk the Yellow Brick Road with Mark Steiner. Attendees will learn how to have the courage to allow employees to work independently, lead the company with an open heart creating an encouraging environment, and how to be smart in all decisions and having an open mind. 

Mark Steiner is the co-founder and CEO of GigSalad. As chief visionary, he leads the company ‘s business and marketing strategy, focusing on building a strong customer-centric team and connecting with strategic partners. His career in the entertainment industry has spanned more than thirty years, including a decades-long stint booking high-level talent for performing arts centers, festivals, concerts, and corporate events through the agency he founded. 

“HR: More than Your Typical Superhero” – Spencer Harris, Ph.D.

Spencer Harris (Ph.D., Communication Studies) is the Director of Operations at Mostly Serious. With nearly ten years of teaching experience and three years as an organizational consultant, Spencer has studied and applied a variety of techniques for producing and maintaining productive workplace cultures. Now, as a Director of Operations, Spencer implements and manages effective strategies for creating organizational growth.

We look forward to seeing you on Wednesday, April 18 from 7:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. at Oasis Convention Center Paradise Ballroom. Register today. 

Tags:  conference  hr  recertification credits  supervisor  training 

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Accessing Competitive Compensation Data Key to Retention and Recruitment

Posted By Benefits & Compensation Committee, Monday, February 26, 2018

Turnover is costly for every business with estimates starting at 16% and increasing to 213% of annual salary as skill, education and specialization increases. While employees leave for many reasons, there is one factor you can control that will assist you with retention and recruitment efforts: locally competitive salaries and benefits.

Springfield Area Human Resources Association is sponsoring TotalCompConnect, bringing you an easy-to-use tool to help make you more competitive. This survey is completed annually and can provide you benchmark compensation data by geographic area, industry, employment size, and job position.

The following are a few common questions about the survey.

How much does it cost to access the compensation data?

If you participate in the survey and join SAHRA for $45 annually or are already a member, you gain unlimited access to all of this data for free! Yes, free! Without membership or participation, you can access the information for a fee. Visit our website Salary & Benefits Survey for more information. If you would like more information about becoming a member ($45 annual fee), please visit our website under Membership.

What kind of information will I be able to access?

Participation in the TotalCompConnect Surveys will provide you local and regional surveys, including:

  • 2018 Benchmark, Manufacturing and Health Services Compensation Survey,
  • Policies and Benefit Survey,
  • Salary Budget Survey, and
  • Paid Holiday Survey
  • National Surveys

Participation in the TotalCompConnect Surveys will also provide you national wage and salary, including:

  • Executive Compensation Survey,
  • IT & Engineering Compensation Survey, and
  • Policies and Benefits.

SAHRA members will also be able to access the 2017 survey data upon data submission.

How long will it take for me to complete the survey?

That is different for every participant and is based on the size of your organization and other variables. Once you participate in the survey, every subsequent year you just update your information making the process much faster.

How do I get started?

Please email us at to let us know you are interested or even if you just have more questions.

Tags:  benefits  comp  compensation  wage survey  wages 

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7th Annual 2018 Southwest Missouri HR Conference & Expo

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