impactnews: Q&A on Business Strategy and HR with impactHR’s Janette Hunt

Our newest impactHR team member, Janette Hunt, is steeped in the rules and regulations surrounding the government contracting field. With her experience working for a government contractor, she knows how these companies work hard to balance providing their product or service to the federal government while staying in compliance with its HR rules. We’re absolutely delighted Janette has joined our ream and glad we got a little of her time last week for this impactInterview.

impactnews: Tell us about your background and what your own philosophy is on the HR profession?

JHMy HR background began back in 2009 with a consulting role in a support and administrative capacity for a small government contractor. A few years and many projects later, I found myself in an HR leadership role in an Organizational Development (OD) capacity – and I loved it. I embrace the relationship between HR and OD where ethics, collaboration, strategy and improvement come together to streamline processes and develop an organization culture.

impactnews: Your HR background, as you note, includes experience in government contracting. What are some of your HR priorities for government contractors?

JH: Our government contractors exist in a very complex part of the business world. They are private organizations that serve public organizations. Therefore, they must understand their responsibilities and obligations that come with being a government contractor or subcontractor.

Government reporting via E-Verify, EEOC, Affirmative Action and OSHA, for example, are all requirements for most federal contractors. Most contractors are obligated to meet the prevailing wage, health, and welfare and fringe benefit requirements of the Service Contract Act (SCA) and the Davis-Bacon Act. They also must ensure their HR policies meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

Another priority for government contractors is navigating tighter-than-normal federal budgets with little wiggle room. Often government Contractors sharpen their pencils several times during the Bid/Proposal process to meet the terms of the solicitation. And if the solicitation is released through a “Best Price, Technically Acceptable” procurement method, the government contractor knows immediately that price is a huge factor.

As you can imagine waiting for contract awards, working with a tighter budget, and the SCA wage determinations, presents a challenge for government contractors attempting to attract, train and retain the best possible talent to complete their projects.

impactnews: For executives and business owners, what trends in HR and in business strategy are you tracking and how do these trends impact your work?

JH: We’re seeing increased HR involvement with roles such as the Human Resource Business Partner (HRBP) and Human Resource Strategic Partner (HRSP) as organizations realize the power of collaborating with HR when developing business strategy and making decisions. This is due in  part to the speed at which we conduct business in this era and the heightened visibility of organizations’ actions via social media.

In addition, social media is here to stay. The fact is social media captures nearly everything that happens in the world including the actions and non-actions of an organization. I have noticed executives working more the embrace this transparency. I also believe organizations are actively seeking ways to ensure HR is involved more than ever in business strategy. Leaders are eager to foster collaboration across departments to help their organizations as a whole become more agile, effective and efficient.

Protecting Your Employment Brand in the Social Media Era

Job candidates, on average, now spend more time preparing for their interviews using professional networking and job recruiting platforms – like LinkedIn and Glassdoor – than time spent on company websites, according to Chesapeake Search Partners’ Johnny Black.

Speaking at impactHR’s quarterly impactBreakfast networking and learning event last month, Black noted employers should strive to do more to protect their employment brands in the social media era.

Co-presenting with impactHR’s Kelly Mitchell, Black said negative company reviews by current or past employees often do significant harm to companies’ ability to recruit and retain their workers. To navigate these shoals of the Internet, Black suggested that companies commit to tracking what people say about their organizations on social media by using analytics software platforms.

Black also said companies can enlist their employees to be voluntary brand ambassadors who promote their organizations and work culture via the Internet. Doing so can help companies start to turn the tables on negative reviews on social media platforms. He also recommended that company recruiters research job candidates’ social media accounts early in the hiring process to weed out those who exhibit inappropriate or uncivil social media behavior.

Building on this, impactHR’s Kelly Mitchell urged company leaders to protect their employment brand by talking to employees to “uncover the company’s great attributes and learn the ways to build a better work environment aligned with the company’s values.”

Kelly Mitchell and Johnny Black

Mitchell said this conversation with employees can help you build a so-called “Employee Value Proposition” – a statement of why your employees would want to work for you and build their careers for the long-term. This proposition should be “included in company internal and external communication materials – in a consistent manner,” Mitchell said.

With this dynamic, Mitchell noted companies can maintain and build their reputation as a great place to work. She suggests companies raise their positive visibility by encouraging employees to represent their companies at venues like industry conferences, professional panel participation and related networking events.

“Your employees can share your employment brand when they meet new people and help create a lasting positive impression. Every one of your employees is a potential brand ambassador for you – don’t give them a reason for a negative review about their experience at your company,” Mitchell says. To learn more about protecting your employment brand, contact us or call 443-741-3900.


Surveying Your Employees to Do More for Their Well-Being

Heading into the mid-year point, consider taking dedicated time to evaluate key aspects of your business, such as operations, internal processes, various aspects of your products/services suite.

It’s a good time as well to get a fresh understanding of how your employees are doing. One way is via an employee engagement survey. But what are the practical purposes of employee engagement surveys? One answer is the need for executives and their teams to focus on re-recruiting and re-engaging their workforce every day.

In the current tight labor market, it’s important to build your company’s positive culture on a daily basis so that it becomes a place where your employees want to come to work and grow professionally. To do this, you need your employees’ feedback and ideas.

In collecting this feedback, an effective employee engagement survey can be succinct with roughly 10-12 survey points. Typically, your survey can be comprised of statements such as “I am satisfied with the culture of my workplace” or “Communication between senior leaders and employees is good in my organization” using scales such as “strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree and strongly disagree.” Surveys should be strictly anonymous so employees are able to respond freely.

Ultimately, by using engagement surveys, employees can feel that their leadership cares about their well-being and is interested in making workplace improvements based on their feedback. In addition, it is important to note that senior leaders should couple the use of these surveys with frequent informal, in-person employee conversations and touch points.

This overall strategy can give you a relatively accurate picture of how your teams view their day-to-day work lives, enabling you to optimize efforts to re-recruit and re-engage your employees every day. If you have questions about employee engagement surveys, contact us or call 443-741-3900.

US Unemployment Rate Drops Below 4% in April 2018

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) last month reported the US unemployment rate declined to 3.9%, a level that has not been reached since this period in 2000. Key industries all reporting significant job gains include professional and business services, manufacturing, health care and mining.

The BLS also reported the unemployment rate for college graduates decreased to 2.1% (from 2.4% a year ago). In addition, April 2018 represented the 91st consecutive month of new job gains, setting a new record for the longest period of time recorded for new job creation. Learn more.

MD Enacts Law to Protect Workers From Sexual Harassment

The “Disclosing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Act of 2018,” passed unanimously by the Maryland General Assembly, was signed into law this month by Governor Larry Hogan.

The Act, HB 1596, prohibits MD companies from requiring employees to waive their sexual harassment rights (via non-disclosure agreements) prior to any incidents. The measure also prohibits any employer attempts to retaliate against workers for refusing to waive their rights.

The new law requires companies with 50+ employees to report to the state Commission on Civil Rights the number of sexual harassment cases companies have settled; the number of cases containing non-disclosure agreements; and the number of cases that involved repeat offenders over a 10-year period.

The MD Commission on Civil Rights will compile this employer information in two stages — once in December 2020 and again in December 2022 — after which the Commission will make the survey information available to the public (excluding employee names).

impactAction: Companies and organizations can take a number of steps to address and prevent workplace harassment, such as:

  • Ensuring you have a policy detailed in employee handbooks outlining the company’s stance on workplace harassment in accordance with applicable federal, state and local laws
  • Training on a company’s workplace harassment policies should be included in all new hire orientations and for all managers and employees periodically throughout the year.

If you have questions about complying with this new law, contact us or call 443-741-3900.

US Dept. of Labor to Propose New Overtime Rule in 2019

The US Department of Labor (DOL) recently announced it will launch a rule making period “to determine what the salary level for exemption of executive, administrative and professional employees should be,” according to a statement posted by the US Office of Management and Budget.

As proposed in the previous administration, the salary threshold for overtime exemption would have doubled from $23,660 to $47,476 per year. Learn more.