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


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The Importance of Professional Development for HR Pros

Posted By Special Events Committee, Thursday, September 26, 2019

HR professionals wear so many hats at work. There’s a funny meme that says HR pros are “the unofficial psychologist, event planner, peacemaker, lawyer, and teacher” of the company and it’s not too far from the truth.

Because you wear so many hats, it’s critical to take advantage of every professional development opportunity that you comes along so that you can be the best HR leader. 

Professional development seminars like this year’s “Get a Seat at the Table” event hosted by SAHRA are great ways to learn how to best improve your role at your organization.

There are some key things to know that will make sure you are the strategic business partner that your organization requires.

  1. It’s important to know how your organization works, inside and out.
  2. Demonstrate how HR initiatives impact an organization’s profitability and growth.
  3. Know how to strategically build relationships. Have a plan for that relationship building.
  4. Understand the concept of a “Symphonic C Suite” where C level members lead their areas of expertise but also work together with other functional leaders and teams that affect the strategic direction of an organization.
  5. Understand how to connect people programs with strategic objectives.

SAHRA’s Professional Development Committee is also a great resource whose objective is to promote continuing education, training, and of course, professional development. You can also join the committee to help others work on their own professional development. Committee members’ responsibilities and goals are as follows:

  • Identify and promote professional development opportunities for SAHRA members.
  •  Obtain HRCI and SHRM recertification credit for all SAHRA-sponsored events.
  • Plan, coordinate, and promote the SHRM Certification Study Group, SHRM Certification and Recertification.
  • Partner with and support other SAHRA committees to assist in planning, coordinating and promoting SAHRA events to improve community awareness, advance the quality of Human Resources and provide SAHRA members opportunities to improve their HR skills and knowledge. 

Whether you're part of the committee or not, continuing to hone your skills with professional development is a must. HR professionals are strategic partners with the business and it’s important to stay up to date to make sure your business and all its employees are functioning like a well oiled machine.  

Whether you’re part of the committee or not, continuing to hone your skills with professional development is a must. 

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Hispanic Heritage Month

Posted By Diversity Committee, Friday, September 20, 2019

September marks the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States September 15th - October 15th. This is a month in which festivals and parades take place, celebrating the great contributions, traditions, and values of the Hispanic community. During this month of celebration, one could admire the magnificent art of Frida Kahlo, read One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Márquez, or simply go to the Ozark farmers market and try one of Chef Nelly's Peruvian dishes.  It is through understanding cultural celebrations such as Hispanic Heritage Month, that we can take good steps to be inclusive at our workplace and our community.

But, what does inclusion really mean? Inclusion means respecting and celebrating everyone's differences every day. It is creating a work environment in which everyone feels welcome and free to be themselves no matter how they look, the background they have or even what they like to eat. By celebrating diversity, especially in the workplace, we can help create cultural awareness and help our team members to be open and receptive to those that may be different from them. An added benefit to an inclusive workplace is that it can translate directly to more effective intercultural skills, which in turn could equate to better customer service and increase in revenue. But don’t let it start and stop only within Hispanic Heritage Month!

As the world continues to change, our teams and communities will continue to become more diverse. Inclusion, respect and belonging have an important return of investment for all those that embrace them. Our differences can make us stronger. And, creating a truly inclusive environment can result in more engaged, loyal and productive team members and an incredible pool of ideas that will result in better business.

As a proud member of the Latinx community, I invite you to look around and acknowledge the diversity you have within your team and your community; you may be surprised by all you can learn from others that are different from you. Here are some easy ways to recognize and celebrate your team’s diverse background and perspective:

  • Put it on the calendar and open the dialogue - Include different cultural celebrations and holidays that your team observes. A word of caution: While Googling traditions and cultural celebrations can be helpful, be sure to ask your team members what’s most important to them.
  •  Get involved - Plan a small activity and recognize the importance of other’s traditions and special dates. Invite your team members to share their customs with each other. Don’t forget – you have something to share as well! Food is a great way to start the conversation. Consider doing a potluck or lunch-and-learn where team members have the opportunity not only to share the origins of their traditions but could also share a customary dish with the team!
  • Connect beyond culture - Participate in the activities happening in your community and invite others to do the same. Diversity and inclusion aren’t just cultural differences. Connect with people with different perspectives, experiences and backgrounds. Be sure to keep an open mind.

Let’s celebrate together!


Diana Vargas – Kirk Baumann

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The Value of Joining SAHRA

Posted By Aimee Newman, Thursday, August 29, 2019

Joining a professional organization can do wonders for your career. Not only are the meetings a great place to network with peers, there are also opportunities for continuing education, community involvement, and even mentoring opportunities.

SAHRA membership has all those benefits and more. Networking with your peers is a great way to make lifelong friends, but you can also find study groups that will help you prepare for certifications you might be pursuing. Certificate study groups can help you become a true authority in your field and could be instrumental if you want to apply for a higher position.

Mentoring opportunities give members the chance to share their HR knowledge and skills and keep in touch with the up-and-coming workforce and what they’re looking for. Members also have the option to join SAHRA’s numerous committees such as Special Events Committee, Workforce Readiness Committee, and Governmental Affairs Committee, where SAHRA members team up with local lawmakers to have a voice in the legislative process. Picking an area that is of interest to you and joining a correlating committee will help give you a sense of belonging and involvement and you might even have fun.

These are just a few of the benefits of joining SAHRA. Below are quotes from a real HR professional about some of the reasons they love being a member.

–HR pro

“Because of SAHRA, I have been able to connect with other HR professionals around me and educate myself regarding the HR world and its ever-changing ways. I have expanded my knowledge and my friendships within this group.” 

“My absolute favorite part of my career is being able to interact with teammates, engage them, and continue to be a source of support and motivation. Engaging new teammates the right way from the very beginning is extremely crucial in the retention process. First impressions stick for the long haul, so it is important to get it right!” 

“My passion of making individuals feel valued, motivated, and encouraged has created a high level of retention whether it is within the workforce, the community, or even personal relationships with my peers.”

And check out this handy value chart: 

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Krista Moncado on Diversity & Inclusion

Posted By Samantha Tyler, Friday, May 24, 2019

We asked our June speaker, Krista Moncado, Executive Director of the GLO Center to answer a few questions about diversity and inclusion and she delivered.


How would you define inclusion in the workplace and why is it so important to make sure you hire inclusively?

Quite often we conflate ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’. Diversity is being asked to the dance, inclusion is being asked to dance. Diversity isn’t very helpful if we’re just trying to check off boxes and see who is in the room. That is an important step, and we need to ensure that the people in the room are comfortable joining in the conversation. Inclusivity at all levels of employment is critical to the health and well being of a company. Challenging what we think a leader or manager looks like and sounds like, and then preparing all levels of employment to expand their expectations and perceptions is a vital step I believe we frequently forget or aren’t quite sure how to address.


Why is it important to have a diverse staff?

We only have our own personal lived experience to draw from. Of course you don’t instinctively recognize how a phrase or image may impact another person, because you don’t have their lived experience. If we want to expand the impact of our policies, our business, and our customer experience, the conversations and plans must include people from different backgrounds in every part of the process.


How do you create an inclusive environment?

Education, talking about the awkward things, and ensuring all people are comfortable and supported in joining the conversation.


How does diversity encompass more than just race and gender?

This is kind of a long example, but I will try to keep it as short as possible. I used to work for a company that primarily employed white heterosexual men. There were a few other women, and no other LGBTQ people that were out. At a work function I was having a conversation with one of the other few women that were there. Another employee that happened to be a man joined our conversation. Then other men joined in, primarily talking to the first man that joined us. Those other men that joined did not address the other woman or me and physically moved in between us to talk to the first man that joined us. As a result, the originators of the discussion, 2 women, were not only socially pushed out, but physically moved to the outside of the conversation. Did any of those men intend to do so? I doubt it. They were having fun and socializing. But the unintended communication to the women is that we were outsiders, literally, and our place in the discussion was of very little importance or impact. This is one simple example of a culture that was allowed to exist without challenge, or being told that culture simply didn’t exist and due to the fact that none of the men perceived the behavior to be exclusionary, exclusion did not, in fact, exist or happen. If we are hiring people with diverse backgrounds, whether that’s race, religion, gender, what side of the tracks we grew up on, what we smell like because of the food we cook and enjoy, we need to do the work to make sure everyone is someone of significance and import.


Should we cover microaggressions and how to avoid them while we’re on the subjects of diversity and inclusion? 

I believe if you are truly challenging your intrinsic thoughts and beliefs about people that are different than you, and authentically trying to show every person respect and dignity, then the microagressions are covered. The important thing is that we can name behavior that we see and observe all the time, and it’s more than a person’s right to be a jerk. I talk to a lot of people that automatically put up their defenses when particular words or phrases are used, like microagression, safe space, trigger, etc. I try to avoid that by addressing the root of the issue while circumventing their defense mechanisms.


--Krista Moncado

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Conference Speaker Highlight: Clinton Bradley

Posted By Samantha Tyler, Friday, March 22, 2019

Spring Conference is just around the corner! Here’s a sneak peek at what to expect from MOSHRM Diversity and Inclusion Director Clinton Shane Bradley’s Spring Conference presentation on understanding how you can avoid making assumptions and learn to become an inclusive employer.


From Bradley’s bio:

“We have the facts and statistics to know that embracing and harnessing Diversity and Inclusion within an organization not only promotes a broad spectrum of talent, but it creates a magnet of employee and candidate engagement. The problem is, we must first humble ourselves as employers and leaders to admit when we are either a talent assuming employer or an inclusive employer. We must start in understanding our own unconscious bias as organization and move forward to embracing the positive outcomes in being fully inclusive.”


His program promises to help HR pros:

·       Understand how assumptions can lead to disruptions, conflict, and talent loss.

·       Embrace everyone’s differences and strengthen your organization.

·       Discover how listening to the stories of others and also sharing your own stories can foster understanding.

·       Set goals to decrease or eliminate unconscious bias, which will increase your organization’s success.


This year’s keynote speaker is Shari Harley, Founder of Candid Culture, a business communication training and keynote speaking firm that seeks to bring effective communication back to the workplace, making it easier to give positive feedback and constructive feedback at work. Other speakers include Randy Mayes, Lyle Foster, Greg Burris, Nancy Conway, Bernie Dana, and Melissa Lloyd.


The Spring Conference is coming up on April 17! Prepare yourself for a full day of presentations on a wide variety of HR related topics. Details and registration here:


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New Blog Post - Unconscious Bias

Posted By Diversity Committee, Monday, March 18, 2019

Perspectives from Juan Meraz, the Assistant Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion at Missouri State University

For some, unconscious bias is difficult to discern. As a result, it is hard to determine how/when it is used. More specifically, people unknowingly make decisions and subjections based on thoughts and perceptions they may hold. Thus, a person’s protected class (i.e. sex, race, religion, color, or national origin) and or other category (i.e. hair color, social status, perceived behavior, etc.) gets used as decision-making criteria. So, how do we get to the place where unconscious bias does not affect how others are perceived? Juan Meraz, who is the Assistant Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion at Missouri State University, had the following sentiment per the topic of unconscious bias. I asked Juan what does equality mean to you. His reply was “Equality means that everyone has the same opportunity and access to everything available. No barriers to success.” Next, he was asked to elaborate on his opinion regarding how unconscious bias negatively impacts organizations and business. He mentioned, “Unconscious bias creates an uneven platform in hiring and in maintaining the best, balanced workforce.” Thirdly, he mentioned that receiving unconscious bias training is the best way to develop awareness. Hence, training mitigates issues so bias does not affect decision-making. He went on to say that the best way to lesson unconscious bias in hiring processes is to create an environment where people can develop an understanding of the concept (e.g. unconscious bias) and share best thoughts, ideas and skills to ensure that bias does not impact hiring processes. Lastly, he mentioned that professionals should acknowledge, accept, and work to not let unconscious bias influence decision-making. This Q&A with Mr. Meraz was very insightful. I hope you are able to glean something from this excerpt so you can curve unconscious bias in your work environments.    

~ Wrriten By: Gary Strafford


Tags:  culture  Diversity  Inclusion  Strategic Planning  training 

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How to Handle Touchy Subjects

Posted By Samantha Tyler, Tuesday, March 5, 2019

It’s inevitable that HR professionals will eventually have to deal with some touchy subjects. Here are a few examples and how best to work through them to ensure fairness and dignity for everyone involved.


·         Employee behavior: gossip, bullying, and insubordination

HR’s role is to provide guidance and training to managers to help uncover the underlying issues that may be contributing to any of these situations.

Often, employees engage in disruptive behavior because they feel they are not being heard. Being proactive in listening to employees and encouraging feedback can de-escalate negative behaviors before they get out of control.

Avoid using general statements such as “you always…” but rather use specific examples. Provide honest feedback by focusing on the behavior without making it a personal attack. Address how the behavior affects the team and productivity and general workplace morale. Then be specific about what behavior should be displayed instead.

Document and follow disciplinary policies when appropriate. Ultimately, the employee has the responsibility to correct their behavior.


·         Office romances

Every company should have an office dating policy in its employee handbook. If your company doesn’t, now is the time to implement a policy and consequences for violations.

It’s generally a good idea to require workers to disclose consensual relationships and even sign a contract stating that both parties are in the relationship of their own volition. This contract can help the company defend itself against future harassment cases and the employees don’t have to hide their relationship.

And while we’re on this particular touchy subject, it’s a good idea for companies to hold annual or biannual anti-harassment training events reminding employees of what is acceptable behavior in any stage of an office relationship…including (and maybe especially) the ending.


·         Employee hygiene

This one can be really embarrassing for everyone involved. Realizing that the situation is temporary and usually has an easy fix should make it a little easier on everyone. Most of the time, people don’t even know that they have an issue like body odor.

In order to make the discussion easier, be empathetic while also being professional and straightforward. Ask if there’s anything you can do to help the employee resolve the issue. It could be that the employee is in need of help and this is a perfect opportunity for them to reach out.

It’s best to broach this touchy subject at the end of the day so the employee will be able to leave soon after and not be self-conscious all day. It’s important to address an employee’s hygiene if you have direct, first-hand knowledge of the situation. This is definitely a one-on-one conversation. Don’t involve any other employees in the discussion.


The best strategy for helping managers and HR pros and employees deal with these touchy situations is training. Preventive, ongoing training for employees on behavioral expectations and consequences of falling short of those expectations is critical. Continuing training for management and HR personnel on how to handle specific situations is equally important.

Facilitating meaningful teamwork activities is a great way to avoid these types of issues arising in the first place and helps to build better understanding between co-workers. Understanding each other better can lessen the possibility for these touchy situations to arise between coworkers. Training in things like business etiquette, cultural sensitivity and diversity awareness go a long way in to making a workplace work better.




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Compensation Plans

Posted By Administration, Friday, February 8, 2019

What is a compensation plan and what do HR pros need to know about them?

  A compensation plan is the full compensation package for an employee, not just hourly wages or salaries that are addressed through the development of job descriptions. A compensation plan addresses benefits (health insurance, vision, dental, retirement plans, and performance bonuses or incentives). All of this takes into consideration the overall cost to the employer and total value of compensation to the employee, basically, the incentives and/or benefits that are used to attract and retain employees, both of which are a win for employer and employee alike. Compensation programs are an important part of an overall human resource strategy. Obviously, compensation is important to the organization’s employees but the organization’s compensation philosophy and strategy will become a blueprint for the design of effective total rewards programs.

All about the meeting

The February SAHRA meeting speaker is Laura Ingram, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, Vice President HR Services, AAIM Employers’ Association. The program will provide participants with an in-depth understanding of the importance of having a formal compensation philosophy and strategy as well as the steps to follow in the design of such. There will also be a review of the steps required to design a complete compensation plan, and a discussion of the pros and cons of market-based vs. internal equity-based pay structures. The meeting will also be the kickoff for the local and national Wage and Salary Surveys and local/national Policies and Benefits Surveys. See table below for more information on surveys.


 Attached Thumbnails:

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Wellness Plan Compliance Changes and Strategies

Posted By Samantha Tyler, Tuesday, January 29, 2019

As HR professionals are no doubt aware, the EEOC’s rule limiting incentives and penalties to 30% of group health plan premiums for wellness programs subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and/or to the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) ended January 1, 2019.

What does this mean for wellness plan compliance? recommends using this as an opportunity to retool your wellness program and offers up these suggestions to get you started.*


1. Consider reducing incentives below 30%.

This will avoid your program being considered ‘coercive’. In addition to your incentives structure, you may need to reevaluate which actions qualify to receive rewards.


2. Place greater emphasis on intrinsic incentives that reward participation.

Look at ways to build a culture, improve employee engagement, and create a sustainable well-being environment that is inclusive.

Encourage programs that rely on non-financial, “intrinsic” incentives such as contests and challenges supported by nominal rewards, non-monetary recognition or charitable contributions.


3. Shift to participation-based rewards rather than outcomes-based rewards.

Some well-being challenges that focus on getting consistent sleep or managing stress could be more attractive than other challenges based on reaching a specific outcome, such as number of steps or minutes of activity per day.

Reward participation in webinars or attendance at employee education for such topics as nutrition, financial well being and resilience.


4. Move to participation-only programs.

For example, reward employees for completing a biometric screening rather than requiring them to record in-range screening results. Or, reward any participation in a steps challenge instead of logging a minimum number of steps.


Alternately you could opt out of having a wellness incentive program altogether.

Wellness programs that aren’t subject to the ADA and GINA are the only ones affected by the ruling. Programs that only fall under HIPAA and the ACA are not affected.


*From Following suggestions are no substitute for independent legal advice specifically tailored to your situation.




Tags:  benefits  wellness 

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What is the SHRM Foundation and Why Should HR Pros Use It?

Posted By Past-President, Tuesday, December 18, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The SHRM foundation exists as a resource for HR professionals to take advantage of in order to better serve their employers and the community. Following is more information on the ins and outs of the foundation.

1.  In what types of situations would an HR professional find themselves reaching out to the foundation?

SHRM Foundation's mission is to champion workforce and workplace transformation by providing:

  • Research-based HR solutions for challenging inclusion issues facing employees and potential employees;
  • Scholarships to educate and develop HR professionals and students to make change happen; and
  • Opportunities for HR professionals to make a difference in their local communities.

HR professionals can reach out to the foundation for any of the above situations on their behalf or on behalf of the organizations and the people they serve. The resources they provide are numerous. For example, Springfield Area HR Association (SAHRA) recently obtained a scholarship from the foundation to provide an SHRM certification study group. It is scheduled to begin sometime in early 2019.

The foundation provides financial resources to support the development of HR professionals. In 2016, the foundation awarded over 230 scholarships. According to the foundation brochure, "100% of donations to the SHRM Foundation go to funding scholarships for deserving HR professionals and students and providing workplace solutions for all HR professionals."

2.  Is the foundation's help free?

Most resources are free except for any specific materials that individuals might purchase, such as a certification study kit. Many of the initiatives are volunteers led - HR professionals giving back to help others in the profession or to advance HR causes - so there are little or no costs associated with them.

3.  What are the benefits of volunteering with the foundation?

A few benefits are:

  • opportunity to network with other HR professionals;
  • leadership development; and
  • opportunity for personal and professional growth. 

4.  What are some of the various ways the foundation can help HR professionals?

  • HR professionals can tap the resources the foundation provides from its various initiatives (past, present and future);
  • apply for various scholarships it provides for graduate education, conferences, and learning systems;
  • network with other professionals to learn from them and share the knowledge; and
  • give back by volunteering.

The foundation's current initiatives to help workforce development are engaging and integrating military veterans to hire them, and tapping an aging workforce.

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