impactnews: Letter from Kelly Mitchell, Principal with impactHR

With the joy and brightness of the Holiday Season upon us, I hope you and your family have time, in the days ahead, to relax and re-charge for the coming new year. It’s hard to believe how fast this year has gone by.

With this in mind, please allow me to take this moment to express my sincere gratitude to our clients, partners and friends with whom we’ve worked closely over the last many months.

This year has been special for us, beginning with our move, last January, into our wonderful new office space in Columbia. We undertook this step after completing our 10th year in business helping organizations foster their growth through effective management of their employees. We’re truly appreciative of all the opportunities we’ve had over the years to be of service to your business growth strategies.

With this year-end edition of impactnews, I also want to look forward and offer a few thoughts to help you with business planning for the year ahead.

First, I like to use this transition period at the end of the year to remind executives to consider reviewing and updating their employee handbooks. If you don’t have one in place, it’s a good time to think about developing one for your teams.

For example, key issues that may need updating or inclusion in your handbook run the gamut, such as possible changes to paid/unpaid leave laws; drug use and drug testing policies; and policies covering discrimination and harassment.

To help frame this further, here are some questions to ask when reviewing or building anew your employee handbook:

  • Are there employee policy updates that need to be made?
  • Have any procedures changed that need updating?
  • Does the handbook contain clear, consistent, concise language?
  • Is the handbook orderly and well-organized?
  • Does it reflect your unique company culture?

Employee handbooks are about providing a clear direction for the employer and employee on how to proceed within the organization. Well-designed and up-to-date handbooks make the employer-employee relationship understandable to management and employees. They also help companies comply with policy or regulatory changes while ensuring employees know their specific rights and obligations.

Second, one issue pervasive in the news today is the dramatic increase in reported incidences of harassment in the workplace. This past spring, my colleague, Karen Walsh, published an informative column in the Baltimore Business Journal on “How to address harassment in the workplace,” focusing on six ways companies can be proactive in addressing workplace harassment issues.

In a similar vein, I’ve been talking lately with a number of our clients about how companies, more than ever, can benefit from an increased emphasis on management and employee training and development. As companies plan ahead for 2018, it would be worthwhile to consider offering management and employee training. Consider doing this as a strategic imperative and for competitive advantage.

Management and employee training and development, for example, typically includes focus on harassment; discrimination; integrity and ethics; safety on the job; and lawful hiring and termination. This also includes an emphasis on soft skills like fostering motivation; delegation; teamwork; conflict resolution; coping with change; and diversity and cross-cultural training.

The bottom line: effective use of management and employee training and development ties directly into supporting your employee recruitment and retention goals – and, in turn, your business growth.

As HR professionals, my team and I are more passionate than ever, heading into 2018, about helping companies invest in their people and in their organizational cultures.

To this end, we look forward to many great collaborations in service to these objectives this coming year. To our clients and partners, thank you as always for giving us your trust and allowing us to be your go-to firm for HR support and consulting.

My very best wishes to you for the holidays and for the new year.

Sincerely yours,

Kelly Mitchell, MS, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

impactAlert: Federal Contractor Minimum Wage Increases January 1, 2018

The minimum wage for federal contractors is set to rise to $10.35 per hour as of January 1, 2018 – up from the current rate of $10.10 per hour. The wage requirement applies to new and replacement contracts (solicited on or after January 1, 2015) with employers covered by the Service Contract Act or any employer who handles concessions and services in connection with federal property or lands.

In addition, beginning January 1, 2018, tipped employees performing work on or in connection with covered contracts generally must be paid a minimum cash wage of $7.25 per hour – up from the current rate of $6.80 per hour.

impactAction: we advise employers with federal contracts to review the pay rates of their employees now and plan to implement any changes necessary to comply with these rate increases.

If you need any assistance in any way with these upcoming changes, please contact an impactHR team member via email at or phone 443-741-3900.

impactHR Partners with Marian House for Donation Drive to Help Women in Need

We’re very pleased to partner this holiday season with Marian House – a Baltimore-based organization that provides holistic services for women and their children in need of housing and support services – to help with their new donation drive. Marian House provides a safe environment to help these women and their children transition to stable and independent lives.

Earlier this month, Marian House held the Grand Opening of its newest property, Independence Place, at 4103 Old York Road, Baltimore, which will house 21 women and children in 21 apartments. On behalf of its new residents at Independence Place, Marian House is asking for donations to make “welcome baskets” for the women moving in. Please find the wish list items below:

Gift Cards (Walmart, Target or Giant)
Bath towels and washcloths
Dish cloths, kitchen towels
Bath/Toiletry Sets – Bath & Body Works
Women’s Bath Robes (S, M, L, XL & XXL)
Women’s bedroom slippers
Blank journals
Cleaning supplies

Items for babies (wash cloths, bibs, baby bottles, baby blankets)
Diapers and pullups (all sizes)
Children’s bedroom slippers (all sizes)
Educational/developmental toys/games for toddlers +
Art supplies, Play-Doh, etc.
Dolls (Black and White)
Outlet protectors
Children’s sleep wear (0-5 years old)
Children’s hats/scarfs/mittens
Children’s DVDs

To make a donation of any of these items or for other donations, please contact Phyllis Ham, LCPC, Director of Permanent/Family Housing with Marian House, at, or visit the Marian House donation page.

Your HR Function: Getting Ready for 2018

As 2017 comes to a close, here is a high-level checklist of HR-related processes to consider reviewing and freshening up to help you get ready for next year:

HR infrastructure – Review your current HR structure to determine the effectiveness and efficiency of services provided throughout your organization with a special focus on staffing levels and operating procedures.

Technology – Review your employee data management, record-keeping and retention policies and data flow management structure.

Compliance – Complete an overview of your employee management practices with an audit of all documents, records and policies to ensure you’re in compliance with relevant federal, state and local laws and regulations.

If you need help conducting an HR audit of your processes and procedures, please contact an impactHR team member via email at or phone 443-741-3900.