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SPRINGFIELD AREA HUMAN RESOURCES ASSOCIATION

Engage, Equip, Empower

Community Blogs

  • Monday, December 02, 2019 9:02 AM | Aimee Newman (Administrator)

    Winter, particularly during the holidays can be hard for many of us. Financial stress, an inundation of events and other time commitments, strained family relations, and feelings of loneliness can seem to hit harder this time of year. It’s important for employers and HR professionals to offer ways for employees to manage and cope with it all.

    Fortunately, there are ample solutions when it comes to helping folks get through trying times, not just in winter but year round. Here are some ideas that your company might consider putting into place.

    1. Allow scheduling flexibility. Maybe some employees may choose to come in or leave work early in order to grab some vitamin d before the sun goes down to help alleviate seasonal affective disorder (SAD). It could be that they need a little extra time to run errands or even just to catch up on rest. Allowing an early in or out could make all the difference to morale and will help avoid burnout.

      Letting employees work from home one or more days a week can also give a little respite from the hustle and bustle of the office.

    2. Encourage use of paid time off. So many Americans don’t take advantage of their paid time off. In many cases, that time doesn’t roll over to the next year and is simply lost. Remind employees they’ve earned that time and encourage them to take full advantage of it.

    3. Avoid big projects or deadlines around the holidays. Everyone has enough on their plate without worrying about having to work in a time crunch or on an overwhelming project. If possible, plan the big stuff around less stressful times. If there’s just no way to do that, try to schedule extra help or have meals brought in or find extra resources to help.

    4. Allow company time to volunteer. Helping others is a great way to feel better. By allowing employees to volunteer on company time, employers show they care not only about that employee but the community as a whole.

    5. Offer financial health workshops.These can be offered at any time and for general financial health, but having a holiday budgeting workshop could be a lifesaver for some employees.

    6. Most importantly, encourage dialogue between employees, supervisors, and HR professionals. Keep those lines of communication open and employees will feel better opening up and everyone can work together to find solutions to whatever problems there are.

    We all get stressed out from time to time. Having systems in place to show employees that they are valued and heard will make those times that are even more stressful much easier for everyone to handle.



  • Thursday, September 26, 2019 1:53 PM | Aimee Newman (Administrator)

    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.  


  • Wednesday, December 05, 2018 2:11 PM | Aimee Newman (Administrator)

    “You want a prediction about the weather?” asks Bill Murray’s character in the iconic movie Groundhog Day. “I’ll give you a prediction: it’s going to be cold, it’s going to be grey, and it’s going to last you the rest of your life.” Fortunately, winter does not last forever, but work issues with inclement weather can seem never-ending nonetheless.

    • Do you pay workers on days when the office or business is closed?
    • Do you require employees to take paid time off or allow them to take leave without pay so they preserve their hours of PTO?
    • How do you make the system fair across a network of geographical work sites that are affected differently by the weather or other emergencies?
    •  Can you create a policy and procedure that effectively manages closures due to weather and closures due to other emergencies: power failure, gas leak, water main break, etc.?
    •  Are you prepared to handle a natural disaster that closes your business or a branch office for the foreseeable future, potentially weeks or months: tornado, earthquake, etc.?

    It is best to have answers to these questions well before you need them. Better still to have them in writing and to have your staff educated in them to prevent surprises that upset your employee base at a time when their emotions may already be running high … and their finances may already be running low.

    Here are some best practices to keep in mind or to consider anew as we head into the months most prone to emergency closure:

    • Make your policies / procedures as simple and as clear as possible. Our agency has 36 sites across 17 counties and we struggled with this issue of when to close and when to stay open through various iterations of a policy before finally settling on, “If your local schools are closed, you are closed.” We serve a vulnerable population and this mantra became easy for everyone to understand and to remember – patrons and employees alike.
    • Communicate your policies and procedures in multiple places and in multiple ways and review them regularly. We cover inclement weather / emergency closures on day one with new employees. It is included in our policy / procedure manual. Every year in mid-November we re-announce it and then we do so again right before the first big storm of the season. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
    • To the extent possible, create a system fair to all employees. Do some of your employees have work-from-home privileges and others don’t? You’d better address this issue in your inclement weather policy because it will rear an ugly head if some employees lose a day’s pay or are forced to take hours of PTO and other employees claim their work-from-home privilege.
    • Employers with unionized workers will likely negotiate this matter; be sure to follow the stipulations of that agreement. Likewise, exempt employees must be paid their full salary, but employers can require those same exempt employees to take PTO if that is what policies / procedures require.
    • It is fairly easy to expand the inclement weather procedures to cover other emergency closures like water main breaks rather than needing to create a separate policy.
    • Rather than creating a variety of policies to govern extreme or rare cases of closure, you might instead include a general catch-all that allows leadership to review closures on a case-by-case basis and make appropriate decisions based on that review.
    • To enhance morale and employee support, you might consider an end-of-fiscal-year review each year of time lost to inclement weather. If your policies require employees to take PTO and it was an especially harsh winter with multiple days lost to ice and snow, the company may consider a restoration of PTO equivalent to 1-3 days of PTO for each employee.

    In the movie Frozen, Olaf the snowman says, “Some people are worth melting for.” When it comes to your policies and procedures on inclement weather, we would all do well to include a little heart and warmth for the harsh winter months.



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